February 2004 Edition

  • Wrestling Wicked Problems
    Australia’s first national community development conference focusing on Wicked Problems is being held in Canberra from 2–4 May. The conference, Wrestling Wicked Problems is being co-hosted by the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, ACT, the Institute for Regional Community Development, University of Canberra and Northside Community Service Inc.
  • The new Mini Fun Box
    Following extensive interest in the award winning Mobile Fun Box from Councils around Australia, Skateramps Australia has now added a smaller,more cost effective model to its fleet.

  • Video highlights disability awareness
    ‘Welcome To Our Inclusive Community’ is a video produced by Victoria’s Latrobe City Council and local residents to raise awareness of the contribution people with a disability are making to their local community. Rural Access Project Officer, Bill Lawler, said the video promotes the valued role people with disabilities play in society, rather than emphasising the disability people have.
  • Local club for workers
    Daguragu Community Government Council has introduced a bold initiative to improve the quality of life of its residents. A three month trial has commenced whereby only workers or community members who are registered to work with CDEP are permitted to drink at the local Kalkaringi Social Club.
  • Changes ahead but good news for Victorian Local Government financial reporting
    Proposed changes to financial reporting, put forward in the Victorian Local Government (Democratic Reform) Bill, are due to come into effect this month, February 2004. The main changes include substituting Part 6 (Accounts and Audit) and Part 7 (Financial Provisions of the Local Government Act 1989) with new Parts 6 and 7, comprising Planning and Accountability Reports, and Financial Management. The applicable part of the Bill is in relation to ‘governance changes to improve transparency and probity; and more accountable financial management and public reporting’.
  • Caloundra Coastal Walk
    Imagine a walk where the views take your breath away, where you can walk seemingly forever and each turn frames a different picture, where art and architecture fuse with nature, and where inviting shady nooks entice you to stop and rest awhile. If it sounds a little too poetic – it’s not.
  • Vibrant makeover creates state of the art beachside history
    An urban redevelopment program for a beachside park in Caloundra has become the catalyst for the revitalisation of Kings Beach, a major tourist hub which epitomises Australia’s beach going culture. In the heart of the City, the eight hectare, $12 million staged redevelopment began in 1999.

  • Engaging the community in tailored consultation
    By 2006, Caloundra will be a City and a community which has created its own destiny and which continues to refine and redefine its future on a regular basis. These are the words of Caloundra City Council’s Corporate Plan and in 2004, the community is actively engaged in shaping that future, thanks to the Council’s commitment to its Community Involvement Strategy. The Strategy aims to promote and work towards more positive and responsive relationships between Council and the Community.
  • Councillor profiles
    A regular feature, this month we have interviewed two Councillors from Queensland.
  • Government business not always serious *
    Last month’s column about regional tourism ambassadors reminded me of a funny night a few years back in a trendy bar in South Yarra. I was having a few drinks with friends, and I sidled up to buy a round. Next to me, perched on a stool, was Bill Hunter, the grizzled actor in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Muriel’s Wedding, BHP ads and so forth. He shot me a glance and said, “G’day.”
  • Katherine celebrates the arrival of The Ghan
    Katherine Town Council can hold its head high with the recent success of its celebrations marking The Ghan Inaugural Journey from Adelaide to Darwin on 3 February 2004. Council was involved every step of the way with preparations for the event commencing as far back as August 2003, with a visit by the Director Guest Services and Marketing of Great Southern Railway.

  • President's Comments
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Dr Sara Murray, President of the Local Government Association of New South Wales.
  • Editorial
    With 2004 being the Year of the Built Environment, it is interesting that, although battles concerning development approval processes are largely fought out between the State Governments and Local Government, the new Federal Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Senator Ian Campbell, has also weighed into the argument. In a candid interview (see National Perspective in this edition), when asked about current weaknesses in Local Government, Senator Campbell identified the ongoing challenge “to attract good and highly skilled people” to run for Council and secondly, planning processes.
  • Roads to Recovery Mark II
    The recent announcement that the Roads to Recovery program will be renewed for a further four years has been welcomed by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
  • Community harmony high on Council agendas in 2004
    Local Governments have community harmony firmly on their agendas for 2004. Many will use Harmony Day on 21 March as a strategic opportunity to show how they deliver services to ratepayers, irrespective of the culture, background, religion or language of residents. Now Australia’s largest national multicultural event, Harmony Day gives people across Australia the opportunity to get to know one another better, share cultures and say no to racism.

Feature: Human Resource Management/OH&S

  • Women make a move
    Over 200 women in Gippsland, Victoria had an opportunity to tackle some of the hot issues in their communities and provide local, on the ground views to government in an event that the Regional Women’s Advisory Council is hoping to repeat in other regions throughout 2004. Women on the Move, jointly hosted by the Regional Women’s Advisory Council and the Gippsland Women’s Network, was a very successful one-day conference, held in Sale, Victoria in November 2003.
  • Responding to the Cost Shifting Inquiry
    The report Rates and Taxes: A Fair Share for Responsible Local Government, prepared by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration (the Hawker Report) was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 24 November 2004.
  • BTRE focus on regions
    The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) has commenced a new series of Information Papers providing targeted research and analysis into regional development issues. The Focus on Regions series aims to assist regional decision making by improving the underlying knowledge base regarding the economic and social performance of Australia’s regions.
  • National Report 2002–03
    How does your Council compare?

    The new Local Government National Report has just been released. The Report is tabled in Parliament each year as a requirement of the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. It provides a record of how $1.455 billion was distributed to Australia’s 722 Local Governments in 2002–03, and provides an account of Local Government performance, including progress in providing services to Indigenous communities.
  • Leading Practice Seminars in 2004
    From Kununurra to Cairns, Batemans Bay to Boonah, Sydney to Perth, Council representatives got together last year to share their experiences. They heard how others are developing and implementing innovative and resourceful practices that would help them to improve their business outcomes and build sustainable communities.
  • Local Government – the Canadian experience
    Australia and Canada are both federations with many similarities in law and culture. Federal constitutional recognition has eluded Local Government in Canada just as it has Australia. As a result Canadian Local Governments are ‘creatures of the Provinces’ just as Australian Local Governments are ‘creatures of the States’.
  • Meeting the natural disasters challenge
    A major report recommending a new, more coordinated approach to natural disaster management in Australia has just been released. The Council of Australian Governments commissioned the review in June 2001 to identify the strengths and weaknesses of current arrangements for managing natural disasters.
  • Livingstone wins back to back rural challenge
    Livingstone Shire has triumphed again in the Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) Rural Management Challenge held recently at Rockhampton in Central Queensland. Livingstone Shire also won the inaugural event 14 months ago. Stiffer competition this year, against eight other teams, makes its back to back win even more impressive.

  • Government extends Roads to Recovery
    The highly successful Roads to Recovery programme is continuing as part of a $2 billion funding boost for transport infrastructure, especially in regional and outer metropolitan areas. The recent announcement was made jointly by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, and the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Senator Ian Campbell.
  • An interview with the new Minister
    Senator Ian campbell was appointed to the Cabinet in October last year. The following interview covers his views on his new portfolio.
  • Home care at its best in Manningham
    General Home Support, Personal Care and Respite workers at Manningham City Council have recently been awarded Certificate 3 in Community Services (Aged Care Work) course. Each year, Council’s Aged and Disability Support Services unit has staff trained to ensure service to the community is of the highest quality.
  • Legal knowledge for Council professionals *
    Postgraduate study in law is becoming increasingly popular with professionals whose work requires legal knowledge but who have no formal legal training. Subjects offered through the Melbourne Law School’s Graduate Program provide professionals working in government, industry and community organisations with the opportunity to join with others with comparable interests in gaining specialist knowledge in areas of law relevant to their careers.
  • Finding that vital balance between work and family
    Many Councils are introducing more flexible work practices specifically designed to assist their employees in balancing their work and family responsibilities. In Queensland, Maroochy Shire Council’s commitment to work and family balance is delivering numerous benefits to individual staff members, their work teams and the organisation.
  • Reduced OH&S risks through adaptions to mechanical arm rubbish collection
    South Australia’s City of Onkaparinga has developed an adjustable joystick mounting and armrest for its garbage collection trucks. This has dramatically reduced occupational health and safety risks.

  • Whitehorse selects AXS-One payroll and human resource management
    Whitehorse City Council, serving a population of 145,000 residents, is retiring its old legacy based system for payroll and HR. Council’s Information Systems Manager, Jeff Carson, said the problem with running the previous system was that the hardware and software were very aged. It remained static, which meant it did not evolve with the changing administrative needs of the business.
  • OH&S empowerment in Campbelltown
    There’s quite a buzz around OH&S training at present. Traditionally, learning is equated with performance improvement as an aim and instruction as a method, it lays responsibility with the employer, and it envisages learning as an instrument of reform.
  • Mini spreader – major benefits
    Kangaroo Island’s Works Department team has developed a mini aggregate spreader turning works task from backbreaking and arduous to fast and effective. In the past, when sealing confined areas including footpaths and car parks, Council staff had been forced to manually spread aggregate with shovels. This was both time consuming and physically demanding.
  • Healthy future for male staff
    Rockhampton City Council has recently introduced a Men’s Health Program to help lead Council’s male staff towards a healthier future . Implemented by Rockhampton District Community Health Services, and part of a State Government initiative, the program was developed to educate and empower men to take an active role in their health.
  • Mental health training a first for Victorian LG
    Strathbogie Shire is the first Victorian Council to have members of its staff complete a metal health first aid course. Council’s Community Services Manager, Wendy Freeland, initiated the workplace training after becoming one of the first 12 trained mental health first aid trainers in the State.
  • Gatton tops Qld in workplace health and safety
    An external audit of the Gatton Shire Council’s Health and Safety Management System in August 2002 gave Council a benchmark of where it was in regard to workplace health and safety.
  • Salary movements in Local Government catching up to the private sector
    Based on Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s remuneration database, salary increases passed on to Council staff over the past three years have demonstrated that the historic gap in salary increases between the Local Government and private sector is steadily closing. In 2003, the average salary increase for employees working in Local Government was 3.6%, compared to 4.4% across all industries (difference of .8%). In 2001, this gap was more profound at 3.4% for Local Government and 4.6% for all industries (difference of 1.2%).

  • 2004 Local Government Remuneration Survey
    The process for the 2004 Local Government Remuneration Survey has commenced. The WA Local Government Association conducts the Survey each year on behalf of other State Local Government Associations and is open to all Local Governments.
  • Huon Valley solves manual handling problem
    The Port Huon Sports Centre has moved into the modern age with the installation of a system for pulling the covers over its 25 metre swimming pool. A method for removing the covers had been previously addressed but putting the covers on was entirely manual.

  • Volunteers protected under Whyalla’s risk management policies
    In 2003, Whyalla City Council’s policies and procedures for managing volunteers and other groups that come onto Council’s work sites were reviewed. A risk management report prepared by the South Australian Local Government Association’s Mutual Liability Scheme had prompted this review.
  • Birdie Cage increases public safety
    Glen Eira City Council has responded to residents illegally practising their golf swing in parks with the implementation of a fully enclosed Birdie Cage. Golf has been an ongoing problem for Councils due to the high-risk factor associated with park users being hit by a ball, which could result in death or serious injury.
  • Risky management *
    Risk management is increasingly becoming an issue for Councils as they look towards partnership working with the private sector, face increased public expectations, limited finance and come under pressure to continuously improve their performance. This has been recognised by the Audit Commission which has extended its focus of attention from an evaluation of financial risks to a broader evaluation of risk.
  • Safe surfaces reduce risk
    Logic Australia Pty Ltd manufactures a range of ‘safety surface solutions’ for a broad range of customers looking to manage risk against injury at work, home or at play.
  • Joondalup becomes an Employer of Choice
    Improved communication between management and staff, greater retention rates of high performing staff and increased employee motivation are just some of the benefits of Western Australia’s City of Joondalup becoming an Employer of Choice.