A number of Australian Local Government representatives attended the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development which addressed the unsustainable levels of consumption in the developed world, and the overriding poverty and inequity of wealth distribution in the developing world. Running concurrently with the Summit of world leaders was a Local Government Forum that attracted some 1,500 delegates. Providing an opportunity to network and share ideas, this forum clearly demonstrated the importance of Local Government in delivering real, practical and sustainable outcomes.
Like other public or private sector organisations, most Council work stations have a PC together with connection to the Internet. Alongside the benefits this brings, there are also the pitfalls. These include productivity losses through non work related use of the Internet; matters relating to privacy and legal liability; misuse that may lead to a sexual harassment claim; and the potential for loss of intellectual property.
Two judgments handed down on 3 October highlight the risks of bringing speculative suits against local Councils for injuries sustained when using public recreation equipment, leading insurance law firm Phillips Fox said. According to Phillips Fox partner, Michael Down, who acted for the Councils in both matters, the cases prove that it is inappropriate to place the liability for all public recreation equipment injuries on local Councils.
The small community of Kojonup, located three hours south of Perth, recently opened its unique tourist complex. The $2.2 million Kodja Place Aboriginal Heritage Interpretive Centre was officially opened by the Governor of Western Australia, Lieutenant General John Sanderson AC. Kodja Place is a contemporary tourist complex combining Aboriginal culture, rural heritage and Australian roses to showcase the ingenuity and the spirit of life in ‘the bush’.
There will be a month long celebration at George Town in north east Tasmania which will come alive for the entire month of November, as part of its George Town On Show Festival. The 2002 George Town on Show Festival will have some 40 different events with highlights that include the Christmas Parade, the Birdman Rally, a Hospital Bed Race to raise funds for the local Hospital Auxiliary, and the Sculpture in the Cove project.
Communities throughout Australia will be encouraged to take up some form of regular physical activity as part of Active Australia Day which will be held on Sunday 27 October. Councils throughout Australia have developed a range of events for Active Australia Day to get their communities into some form of regular physical activity, yielding both health and social benefits.
UNIDO report – Australia’s modest position in industrial development The Good Oil by Rod Brown *
What is the state of industrial development around the world? Interest has been stirred in Europe because of stark findings in the Industrial Development Report 2002/2003, prepared by the Vienna based United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). Given the widening gap between the rich and poor nations, the report is timely and it offers perspectives of relevance to all nations. The report commences by noting that a few developing economies have done very well in recent years, but most have done badly.
Fairfield City Council and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead Institute of Sports and Medicine have introduced ‘Active Kids’, a program that targets obesity in children.At the launch at the Prairiewood Leisure Centre in August, players from the Parramatta Eels and local children demonstrated aspects of the Active Kids program.
With the theme of the 106th Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) Annual Conference being ‘Local Government On Line’, the keynote speaker was Andrea Di Maio, an international expert on public sector issues, e-government strategies and regulatory aspects of e-business. He said that Councils must address the needs and peculiarities of constituents when developing e-government services, and it is important to base strategies on retaining core functions and developing value adding interactions.
Shared access of facilities and services for people with disabilities and the general community of the City of Kingston in Victoria is now possible with the redevelopment of the Don Tatnell Leisure Centre in Parkdale. Launched in September by Council and Scope, formerly the Spastic Society of Victoria, the Don Tatnell Leisure Centre has been refurbished into four program rooms and a gymnasium.
At the 2002 Local Government Managers Australia National Congress in Sydney, FOCUS invited delegates to nominate an individual and team from their Council who are excelling in their field and promoting the organisation’s corporate goals. In this edition we showcase two more of the competition winners.
Sixty kilometres from Onslow, on the Onslow Access Road, a popular stopover for tourists is ‘Bobby’s Tree’. A lone snappy gum struggling to survive in the harsh desert terrain, this tree was regularly watered by one of Shire’s grader operators whenever his work took him past this point ensuring its development into a healthy, mature tree.
One of the difficulties of working in a remote locality is ensuring staff members have access to appropriate training and development to perform their duties adequately, improve job satisfaction and enhance their career opportunities.Taking an innovative holistic approach, the Shire of Ashburton has become outcome focused rather than ‘course driven’. With the emphasis on shared responsibility, training and development is the responsibility of the individual staff member, their supervisor, manager and the organisation. To accommodate different learning styles and needs at a cost effective price, Council has developed the following strategies.
The popular coastal township of Onslow will undergo a facelift through the Onslow Townscape Plan. The Plan aims to create a new focus for township. It will develop community focal points, enhance existing facilities and identify additional needs.
Community involvement is a key element in overcoming isolation in remote locations such as Ashburton. Volunteers play a big role in bringing the community together. They create a diversity of interests through their involvement in sporting groups, clubs and associations, as well as providing vital emergency services. These services include fire fighting, State Emergency Services (SES) and Ambulance.
Council’s Environmental Health team also works closely with the Shire’s five Aboriginal communities. Some 350 people live in the outlying communities of Bellary Springs, Ngurrawaana, Wakathuni, Yathalla and Youngaleena Banjima. Council recognises that problems in communications between Government agencies and service providers, plus deficiencies and duplications in the delivery of public health services to remote Indigenous communities, is widespread through the State and across Australia. This means less than desirable outcomes and little improvement to living standards.
Typical of many communities in Australia’s Outback, Ashburton must come to terms with problems associated with its remote location, large geographical area and a dispersed population living in a number of towns, on pastoral holdings or in Aboriginal communities.
With an area of 105,647 square kilometres, the Shire of Ashburton contains a myriad of tourist attractions. Its tourism industry is vibrant and growing, with the region hosting increasing numbers of visitors from throughout Australia and overseas.
Welcome to Ashburton Shire where there are plenty of natural and man made attractions to be explored and adventures to be had. Two of Australia’s best kept secrets would have to be Karijini and Millstream National Parks, both located in the Shire of Ashburton.
The role of Council’s Emergency and Safety Officer (ESO) is one that is proving to be a job that is both challenging and, at the same time, highly rewarding. The newly created position has resulted in the appointment by Council of Paul Dickson, former Regional Manager of Disaster Management Services in South Australia.
In a Shire where towns are separated by long distances, roads are a vital link and high priority for residents, Council and tourists visiting the area. The Shire of Ashburton has 2,601 kilometres of local roads plus responsibility for sealed roads within its townships.
As part of Darebin City Council’s Best Value program, it has established an Intranet site to facilitate Best Value amongst staff. The Darebin Best Value Intranet site is fully interactive with sections dedicated to every step of the service review process.
Gawler Council in South Australia is believed to be the first Council to form a partnership with the professional dog behaviour management organisation Bark Busters, to provide professional advice to dog owners.
Panasonic has announced significant additions to its portable LCD projector lineup, including a new wireless unit with advanced capabilities. The new projectors include the PT-L730NTE 802.11b-compliant wireless model and the PT-L720E XGA and PT-L520E SVGA units, all with super bright, high contrast data and video quality.
The Agsafe Container Management program drumMUSTER recently announced that New South Wales’ Hume Shire Council’s By-laws Officer, Ian Singleton, is the winner of its National Inspector of the Year Award. In addition, Hume Shire Council has taken out the National Collection Agency Excellence Award.
Liverpool City Council recently received the Overall Gold Award for Management Innovation at the 2002 LGMA/Sydney Morning Herald Management Excellence Awards. Council won this award for its Independent Hearing Assessment Panel (IHAP) approach to assessing development applications.
The City of Geraldton has adopted a unique approach in developing its Strategic Plan ensuring it addresses the social needs of the community. Consultants Paul Rajan and Colin Penter talked to senior Council staff and Councillors as part of research which will form the basis for the plan, which will ultimately guide the future direction for the City’s development.
Having over 500 employees on its payroll as well as all of the administrative challenges faced by Local Government bodies everywhere, the rollout of Coffs Harbour City Council’s (CHCC) new Ingenuity payroll and HR system has been eagerly awaited. In selecting its new system, CHCC set several key objectives, including job and plant costing and the ability to integrate with its existing financial system.
Using funds acquired through the Federal Government’s Roads to Recovery initiative, the Shire of Gnowangerup in Western Australia embarked on a project that not only sought to upgrade existing road infrastructure, but boost the local economy.
The Continuous Improvement Program established by Wyndham City Council in Victoria is proving to yield positive results for one of its business units, as well as to the community. Council’s business unit, WYNCARE, provides both internal and commercial services to the community.
The response to this year’s conference has been overwhelming and the organisers are looking forward to a fantastic three days on the Coffs Coast. All sponsor opportunities have been taken up and delegate registrations are pouring in.
West Tamar Council in the North of Tasmania has been restricted by low bandwidth for data communications. With geographically dispersed offices in Beaconsfield, Exeter and Riverside, Council had previously used a land line solution for its data and voice communications.
The City of Darebin has further extended its e-commerce applications with the decision to implement a vendor self service application from AXS-One. TransAXS Vendor is an easy to use, browser based solution that facilitates secure, self service access to supplier information.
Providing effective, ongoing learning and training for employees is problematic for most organisations. Frequently, training is delivered using the traditional model, requiring instructors and blocks of time – valuable time away from productive work. Effective e-learning programs provide an opportunity for organisations to move outside this traditional model of employee training.
At the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development held in September in Johannesburg, South Africa, Melbourne City Council Lord Mayor, John So, presented delegates from all over the world the Melbourne Principles. The ten principles serve as a guideline to long term thinking on the sustainable development of cities around the world.
An agreement for the transfer of $4.8 million in Commonwealth Government grant funds from the Eurobodalla Shire Council to the Southern Phone Company was signed on 25 September. The community owned regional telecommunications company has been funded by the Commonwealth Networking the Nation program to reduce the cost of long distance phone calls and develop a broadband data network in the south east of NSW.
In Queensland’s north, the WHaMB Regional Organisation of Councils is developing new, region specific contract documentation to introduce as a set of codes for future subdivision development under the State’s 1997 Integrated Planning Act. As a basis for the documentation, officers of the City of Mackay, which is heading up the project, are using Queensland’s adaptations of the suite of national AUS-SPEC products. Council has already introduced AUS-SPEC #3 (Standard Contract Documents) in its own operations.
Bayswater City Council in Western Australia has created a picturesque family leisure amenity, together with a program to promote healthy living. Riverside Gardens is located along the foreshore of the Swan River. As part of its redevelopment, Council’s Riverside Gardens Walking Trails Project aims to improve the heart health of the community by increasing their participation in physical activity.
Businesses regularly deal with government, whether it be paying their rates, applying for permits or licences, or registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Although many of these government transactions are now available online, they can often be difficult to find. With the Business Entry Point Transaction Manager, small business can more easily find, manage and complete the transactions they regularly carry out with government. Transaction Manager is an interactive web based tool available at www. business.gov.au.
Shire President, Councillor Brian Hayes, was born in Ashburton and commenced his working life with the Shire when it was then known as the Shire of West Pilbara. A member of the Thalanyji community, Councillor Hayes speaks four Aboriginal languages. He was elected to Council in 1993, becoming Deputy President in 1994 and since 1995 has been elected President unopposed.
Following the discovery of rich iron ore deposits in the 1960s, a number of the Shire’s main towns were established as closed mining towns. During the 1980s, the Western Australian Government commenced a process of ‘nomalisation’ bringing these towns back under State and Local Government control.
Advances in Information Technology has also created greater flexibility in regard to staff working from home or, in the case of Council’s Information System Coordinator, being located in Perth. Ashburton had found it difficult to recruit and retain specialist staff in the area of Information Technology. The solution has been found by locating this officer in Perth. Two years ago a position was created where the officer would be based at the Perth offices of Council’s main software supplier, Civica.
Although Ashburton is a vibrant and dynamic place to live, its remote location impacts on Council’s ability to attract and retain staff. From April to October, clear blue skies and sunny days with temperatures hovering between the low to mid 20s offers an idyllic lifestyle. In spite of all mod cons, the hotter months of the year are more of a challenge, with days averaging 35 degrees and temperatures as high as 45 degrees not uncommon.
Looking towards the long term sustainability of Griffith, Council has developed a growth strategy that has mapped out land use, infrastructure and the financial direction of the City in a single plan.Griffith City Council’s Growth Strategy 2030 (GS2030) was initiated in April 1999.
Government policy in England is driving all Councils to be in the top quartile for performance. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that not all Councils can be in the top quartile! Comparing one Council with another is more of an art than a science given different local objectives, priorities, resource investment histories and the needs of local communities.