Australia a world benchmark in public works Over 600 delegates recently attended the biennial International Public Works Conference staged in Hobart from 24–28 August. A premier event of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA), this year the conference theme was ‘Back to Engineering’.
Presented at the IPWEA International Public Works Conference, the National Local Government Engineering Medal for 2003 was awarded to Tony Reed and Ryde City Council for the West Ryde Drainage Tunnel Project.
In his President’s address at the recent Local Government Association of Queensland Annual Conference, Councillor Noel Playford called for the establishing of a statutory disciplinary tribunal to deal with improper conduct (of a non-criminal nature) by Councillors. He said that currently any breaches under the Queensland Local Government Act, by a handful of ‘feral Councillors’, can result in the whole body of elected members being brought into disrepute.
In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Julie Hansen, President of the Victorian Local Governance Association.
Darebin’s landmark Civic Centre opened Darebin Council’s new environmentally sustainable community building – the Reservoir Civic Centre – was officially opened on 23 August. Replacing an old community building in Edwardes Street, Reservoir, the Centre was built over three years at a cost of $8 million. It will house a range of Council services and community organisations in the northern Melbourne suburb.
Social Capital – double act from Costello brothers? The Good Oil by Rod Brown * There’s been long overdue recognition of the importance of social capital. It was therefore significant when the Australian Treasurer, Peter Costello, spoke on the subject to the Sydney Institute in July. He said, “You know, I am not going to sort of lay down huge markers here and now, but I have just sort of indicated that I am interested in this area. I think it is the next big area for consideration – over periods of time I will try and make my contribution to that debate.”
A regular feature, this month profiling two Councillors from New South Wales
Community education program leads to waste management award The Town of Dalby Council in south west Queensland is using decorated garbage trucks to increase public participation in recycling. This follows Council’s recent win of a Beverage Industry/Environment Council award for resource conservation and waste management.
Salinity: a major cause of infrastructure damage Dryland and urban salinity is a significant cause of infrastructure damage across the Murray Darling Basin, according to a major salinity audit funded by the Murray Darling Basin Commission and National Dryland Salinity Program.
PosiGripTM the answer to slippery wet surfaces Wet and slippery floors and surfaces are a danger to people in the home, workplace and public areas and can lead to serious injuries. Councils and other organisations continually run the risk of WorkCover claims and litigation. Now there’s a simple, but effective solution to this age-old problem – PosiGripTM.
Recognising Council high achievers At the 2003 Local Government Managers Australia National Congress in Adelaide, 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 our competition winners.
Three years of strengthening communities and families * More than 500 community and family projects worth more than $71 million have been approved through the Australian Government’s Stronger Families and Communities Strategy (SFCS). In addition, $65.4 million has been allocated to increase the flexibility and range of childcare options available to Australian families. As part of this funding, more than 3,000 in-home care places have been approved, through 94 service providers.
LGAQ – Local Government’s key role in a less secure world Meeting in Cairns from 1–4 September, the 107th Annual Conference of the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) attracted a record number of delegates. Titled ‘First Things First’, security issues covered by a number of speakers reflect changes both globally and locally.
Broadening the agenda for reform in NSW The Local Government Managers of Australia – NSW Division held its Annual Conference in mid-August, just a few weeks prior to the August 31st deadline set for Councils to submit their boundary reform submissions.
Feature: Training & Development
National Awards for Local Government Since 1986 the National Office of Local Government has been recognising, rewarding and promoting innovation, excellence and leading practices of Local Government. The Awards also give Local Government the opportunity to share their experiences in addressing the challenges being faced by their communities. In 2002 there was a special award sponsored by Family and Community Services for strengthening Indigenous communities.
This publication tells the inspiring stories of young Indigenous leaders. Fresh Footprints profiles 60 young Indigenous role models and reflects on their values and personal qualities.
Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre The Department of Transport and Regional Services sponsors places in the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre’s programmes to assist in building capacity in the Indigenous community.
A new partnership between Indigenous communities and government Indigenous leaders, governments and many others have expressed the view over many years that government programmes could work better for Indigenous communities. Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the Australian Government, with State and Territory governments, agreed in April 2002 to trial a new approach.
The Department of Transport and Regional Services has recently developed a Statement of Commitment to Indigenous Peoples.
Major report released on regional business An independent report Regional Business A Plan for Action on the growth of regional business has just been released by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson.
On 1 July 2003 regional communities saw the introduction of the new Regional Partnerships Programme administered through the Australian Government Department of Transport and Regional Services. Regional Partnerships integrates the Australian Government’s key regional programmes, except Sustainable Regions, into the one programme.
Challenges and strategies for Australia including the tidal energy link The Australian Government recently sponsored a major international conference, The Hydrogen Economy: Challenges and Strategies for Australia - Including the Tidal Energy Link which considered hydrogen as an important potential long term energy carrier for Australia and the world.
Griffith returns Shepparton’s hospitality Councillors from Griffith City Council in New South Wales recently visited Greater Shepparton City Council in central Victoria. Shepparton Mayor, Anne McCamish, said the visit reciprocated her Council’s trip to Griffith last year.
South Australia celebrates top office professionals The City of Campbelltown’s Executive Assistant, Jan Franklin, was recently named South Australia’s 2003 Office Professional of the Year – the first time a Local Government employee has won the award. Executive Assistant of the Local Government Association of South Australia, Jacqui Kelleher, also won an Achievement Award from the Australian Institute of Office Professionals (AIOP).
Support your ‘know how' with enhanced management skills The Professional Management Program, offered by The University of Adelaide, is a program that seeks to enhance existing management skills, to help middle to senior level managers cope more effectively with the requirements of their changing work environment.
Tim Duncan is a top achiever Tim Duncan is Cowra Shire Council’s award winning apprentice mechanic, having recently been presented with a load full of awards. Tim is employed by Central Western Group Apprentices to work for the West Central NSW Council.
Playford invests in its volunteers Volunteers at the City of Playford, South Australia, can attain a national Certificate in Aged Care, through a TAFE based training program developed by Council. A successful pilot program was run for volunteers at Grenville Seniors Community Connections Hub last year.
The UK Experience by Malcolm Morley * Councils are full of highly trained professionals. This training is regulated by professional bodies and seeks to ensure that when an individual qualifies they have the knowledge necessary to competently carry out their professional duties. Professional bodies also seek, through Continuing Professional Development, to ensure that their members keep abreast of developments in professional practice and knowledge.
Training packages are leading the way Providing access to training opportunities for staff is vital, as skilled workers are a fundamental component of a successful and productive workforce. Training packages provide a framework for identifying additional skills and training needed for a specific job. They can also offer a great opportunity for people who have been working in an industry, but do not have a formal qualification, to obtain recognition of their skills.
ERIC streamlines information at Baulkham Hills Baulkham Hills Council in north west Sydney was experiencing a large volume of employee relations enquiries that were overloading their internal telephone system. Queries about industrial relations policies and procedures, employee entitlements and management guidelines created a lot of work for Council’s Organisation Development Team, and wasted a lot of paper.
Graduation for Hume City Council trainees Hume City Council is one of eight Melbourne Councils working with Northern Training Group (NGT) to train staff in general home care, respite care and personal care. Working in partnership with individual Councils, NGT designs and implements employment and training solutions to meet the organisation’s specific needs.
Strategy overcomes training problems Hume City Council, on Melbourne’s northern fringe, has developed an in house staff training program that overcomes many of the problems associated with employee training. The Integrated Formal Learning on the Job program has resulted in higher participation rates, with fewer staff dropping out of courses.
Training youth for a career in LG Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, south east of Melbourne, has inducted a second group of young people into the Wal Morrison traineeship program. Council developed the program in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology three years ago to provide training for 15–24 year old job seekers and to address skill shortages in some Local Government sectors.
Marrickville awarded for playing it safe Marrickville Council in inner western Sydney has won a host of awards for its occupational health, injury and environment management system, otherwise known as SAFE. Perhaps the most prestigious honour was being named the inaugural 2002 WorkCover NSW Employer of the Year.
An emerging issue for learning and development in Council? The role of Local Government, beyond the provision of community services to their citizens, is becoming a contentious issue. While it has always been taken for granted that Local Governments control and are involved with a wide range of community and social issues, more and more, there seems an emphasis on corporatisation, that is undertaking activities which achieve a return on capital, add value or which generate a positive cash flow and so forth.
When facing significant challenges, one of the first priorities is to understand the issues involved and to work out quickly what needs to be done in order to move forward. In many cases, we can think through these steps, however when the issues or problems are not entirely clear, a structured approach is beneficial.
Top marks for Council meeting at school Students from St Philip’s College put the Alice Springs Town Council in the hot seat recently with a barrage of questions about skateboarding in Todd Mall, sporting facilities, town planning and youth issues. Council recently held its monthly Ordinary Council meeting at St Philip’s College, inviting students, teachers and parents along to meet their local representatives, ask questions about their community, and learn about the role and function of Council.
Mentoring program for new Mayors For a newcomer, the role of Mayor or Shire President can be daunting. Providing leadership to Council and good governance to the community are crucial prerequisites for the job. The Western Australian Department of Local Government and Regional Development’s Mayors and Presidents Support Program offers guidance and support to newcomers from mentors who have experience in the role.
Murchison and Nedlands form partnership The City of Nedlands, in metropolitan Perth, and the Shire of Murchison, around 700 kilometres to its north, are two very different Local Government areas. Murchison has 1,719 km of unsealed roads and only 2.5 km of sealed roads. It has a population of 150, with 69 dwellings. By contrast, Nedlands has 137 km of sealed roads and more than 380 hectares of parks and gardens. Its residential population is 21,000.
Twenty-two newly elected Mayors gathered in the Shire of Yarra Ranges for the Victorian Local Governance Association’s Essential Weekend for Mayors from 11–13 April. Dubbed ‘Mayors’ School’ by one participant, it gave Mayors the opportunity to network with their peers and reflect on the challenges and opportunities of their mayoral year.
National qualifications for Adelaide parking officers City of Adelaide parking and information officers now have the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification. The Certificate III in Local Government (Governance and Administration) Authorised Officer course aims to give parking officers a better understanding of their job, and a structured career path.
Nominations for the Prime Minister’s Work for the Dole Achievement Awards 2003 are now open. This is an opportunity for you to nominate who you think are the best Work for the Dole participants, supervisors, sponsors, hosts and Community Work Coordinators in your community and give them the opportunity to receive the recognition they deserve.