October 2005 Edition

  • Noosa first to use our RSS
    Recently Network Administrator at Noosa Council, Justin Thomas, suggested via our online feedback that FOCUS introduce Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to our website. www.lgfocus.com.au was established nine years ago and has all editions since May 1996 available. As an electronic archive of key issues and best practice by Councils across Australia, it is a useful research tool as well as providing current news and key events impacting the Local Government sector. As part of our 20 year celebrations, FOCUS is pleased to announce it has taken up Justin’s suggestion. RSS enables Councils to have FOCUS updates immediately available to staff via their Intranet. Justin Thomas explains below why Noosa has become the first Council to make use of this free service.
  • Call for more action on Opal fuel roll out
    With petrol sniffing an increasing epidemic, particularly in remote communities, the President of the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT), Alderman Kerry Moir is calling for urgent action in the roll out of Opal fuel to remote areas.
  • Getting to know your local Council
    Holroyd City Council in New South Wales has developed a community education program that equips residents from culturally diverse backgrounds with knowledge about the local community and encourages them to become actively involved in civic life. The program, titled ‘Getting to know your local Council’, aims to help residents understand what Council does and how it works. In doing so, it improves communication between Council and the Community.
  • Engaging for the future
    The UK Experience by Malcolm Morley*
    In England, two major national public sector organisational structural initiatives have been launched. The first is a reorganisation of the Police and the second is the reorganisation of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) which are key commissioners of health care for the National Health Service (NHS).
  • Redcliffe cleans up at Queensland Tidy Town awards
    The City of Redcliffe, located in south east Queensland, has been named Queensland’s Tidiest Town for 2005 over 211 other entrants. Queensland’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Linda Lavarch, presented the award in September at the Ergon Energy Tidy Towns 2005 State Awards in Brisbane.
  • Belmont’s feature playground encourages greater activity
    Perth’s City of Belmont has recently spent over $1 million to develop a new feature playground. Providing a family oriented activity centre, the playground has a desert island theme.
  • Reflections on the future
    The keynote address at the LGMA State Conference was delivered by Phillip Adams, well known columnist and broadcaster. He said in spite of the fact that we have just finished a century where 150 million people died in wars or genocide which is still continuing – it is global warming that poses our greatest threat. Pointing to the USA with both Katrina and, at the time, the fast approaching Rita, he said that water temperatures in the Gulf had reached boiling point for hurricanes/cyclones and there will be more and more of them.
  • Recognising management excellence
    The 2005 Local Government Management Excellence Awards were presented at NSW Local Government Managers Australia’s Conference dinner. Sponsored by the Sydney Morning Herald, this was the 14th year of the awards.
  • NSW managers address change
    Steve McGrath, New South Wales President of Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA), said the jury is still out on boundary adjustments and that this alone will not make Local Government in NSW stronger. Speaking at a recent State Annual Conference he said issues like asset management and the financial capacity of Councils to meet this, and ever increasing community expectations are paramount.
  • Recognising Council high achievers
    At the 2005 Local Government Managers Australia National Congress in Canberra, FOCUS invited delegates to nominate an individual or team from their Council who is improving their Council’s operations and meeting community needs. In this edition, we showcase two more of our competition winners for 2005.

  • Councillor profile
    A regular feature, this month we feature a Councillor from Tasmania.
  • Timor sees the light
    A team of Australian volunteers have bought new light to the people of the Aileu District in Timor Leste (East Timor). Eleven members of the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) travelled to Timor Leste in early September to install solar power systems in public buildings in six locations, including the capital Dili, the districts of Aileu, Oecussi, Manatuto, Liquica and the island of Atauro.
  • National award for mobile library operator
    Mackay City Council’s Mobile Library Operator, John Wilson, has been named winner of the national Mobile Library Operator of the Year Award. John Wilson has worked for Council for 20 years and was presented with his prestigious award at the Mobile Muster held recently in Maroochy.

  • Alpine Shire prepares for hydro development
    Alpine Shire located in north east Victoria is supporting a proposal by Southern Hydro to extend its hydro electricity capacity in the Kiewa Valley by constructing a new power station at a cost of $130 million. Council has been in discussions with Southern Hydro since the end of last year to ensure that affected communities will be looked after.
  • Avoiding the Tsunami for Australian industry
    The Good Oil by Rod Brown *
    As we move to negotiate a free trade agreement with China, Australia’s imports from China are running at $17.9 billion (2004), vastly outweighing our exports to China ($11 billion). China is now our biggest source of imports, and the level has doubled in five years. Cheap clothing and footwear are still big items, but there are now very substantial imports of sophisticated products – computers, telecommunications equipment, office machinery, monitors and video projectors.
  • Planning Issues revisited – what has changed?
    By Janet Dore*
    First of all I would like to congratulate Local Government FOCUS on 20 years of publishing and the enormous contribution it has made to sharing information throughout the sector in Australia. Twenty years ago I contributed a column on Planning Issues so when I realised this it caused me to reflect on changes in planning since that time.
  • FOCUS celebrates 20 years (1985–2005)
    This October 2005 edition marks 20 years of local Government FOCUS. We have come a long way since the founding directors took the plunge and started the first independent Local Government publication anywhere in Australia.

  • From the ALGA President
    While this week’s meeting of COAG on security issues dominated the national press, the Conference of Australian Economists staged in Melbourne produced two pearls for Local Government. Both papers are worth a read.
  • Editorial - COAG special meeting on terrorism and national security
    This undermining of various rights we have taken for granted as part of our democratic system has gained some media attention and public debate. There are those who believe the terrorists have won by the mere fact that we have so easily given up rights that were fought so hard to achieve, and so quickly been willing to compromise our way of life.
  • Rising to the challenge
    SA Councils bite the bullet on financial sustainability
    Responding to a spate of inaccurate reporting by some media, in February this year the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) established an independent board of inquiry to investigate the financial sustainability of Local Government in South Australia. The inquiry considered external impacts on Council resources, including the fairness of Federal grants, the cost of Council services and infrastructure and possible alternative funding sources.

Feature: Best Practice

  • New international sports centre
    Through lateral thinking and collaboration, Darebin has secured funding to build one of Melbourne’s most prominent sporting precincts, the Darebin International Sports Centre (DISC), which will be the State Soccer Centre, State Cycling Centre and State Bowls Centre.

  • Redevelopment of All Nations Park
    All Nations Park began urban life as a brick pit on the edge of a workers’ suburb, five kilometres from the heart of Melbourne, in the late 1800s. By the time the brickworks closed 100 years later, the local neighbourhood had diversified – its old homes were being renovated or redeveloped, young professionals were moving in alongside older migrants.

  • Darebin community building demonstration project
    In 2002, Darebin was one of three metropolitan Councils selected to take part in a three year State Government project to ‘build community’ by involving local residents and government agencies in whole of government partnerships. Darebin’s Community Building Demonstration Project (CBP) focused on neighbourhoods in East Reservoir/East Preston, a large, diverse area housing 12,000 people. This is the most disadvantaged area in Darebin, with unemployment double the municipality’s average.
  • Community safety audits
    Darebin’s Community Safety Audits aim to improve the physical environment. Council believes encouraging more people to walk in local streets and parks can have wide reaching benefits for public safety, public health and community connectedness.
  • Preston and Northcote structure planning
    Darebin is currently involved in long range Structure Planning for its two largest traditional shopping areas: Northcote and Preston. The process is built on extensive consultations and community involvement, adjusted to suit each project.
  • Reservoir Civic Centre
    Opened in 2003, the Reservoir Civic Centre houses health services, youth services and Council’s Customer Service Centre. It also provides meeting rooms and a hall for community use. In 2004, it won the prestigious Banksia Award for Leadershipin Environmentally Sustainable Building, recognising it as one of Australia’s most sustainable buildings.

  • Diversity strengthens community
    Darebin City Council believes the diversity of its community is one if its major strengths. A recent survey by the State Government showed 95.9 per cent of those surveyed in Darebin feel “Multiculturalism makes life in the area better.” This was above the State average of 86.9 per cent and the highest for any municipality in Victoria.
  • Northcote Town Hall and Civic Square
    When Preston and Northcote Councils merged, the much loved, historic, Northcote Town Hall became underused. However, this building’s size and location gives Council the chance to boost local arts and cultural activities and improve the local economy.
  • Darebin’s a liveable community
    Supporting regional communities in developing solutions to the challenges they face is the core philosophy underlying the Australian Government’s approach to regional development. The Regional Partnerships programme is one of two key programmes that put this philosophy into effect.
  • Darebin at a glance
    The City of Darebin’s southern boundary is five kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD. The municipality extends north for another 25 kilometres, bordered west and east by the Merri and Darebin creeks. Beyond are new fringe suburbs and industrial estates. Darebin is known for its manufacturing, producing shoes, furniture, car parts, paper products, stainless steel products and food. It has a strong traditional retail centre and a large shopping complex. Several small shopping strips have undergone a café led recovery. Darebin also has La Trobe University and the Northern Metropolitan Institute of TAFE.
  • Palmerston’s Adopt a Park is going from strength to strength
    Residents of Palmerston Town Council in the Northern Territory can adopt a park in a bid to reduce crime, violence and vandalism. In 1992 a committee was formed to introduce Adopt a Park to the community. Thirteen years later this committee continues to engage young people and their families who live near a park to adopt the park. Families then have ‘ownership’ to help Council maintain the area and generally keep an eye on it.
  • New hand-held technology improves ranger practices in Coffs Harbour
    Rangers from Coffs Harbour City Council are among the first in Australia to be using a new hand-held electronic system for issuing fines and recording warnings. The City currently has six of the devices. They are capable of issuing on the spot fines, as well as recording both photographic and verbal evidence for later use. Information from each device is transferred to a central computer application and stored.

  • Best practice in IT service management for Councils *
    Local Governments that employ a best practice approach to IT service management (ITSM) will achieve cost and process efficiencies, leading to increased levels of public confidence.
  • Message from the Mayor
    The Local Government Act (1989) says “…it is the role of the Council to provide governance and leadership for the local community through advocacy, decision making and action.” Underneath this simple statement are all the complexities, conflicting needs, budget constraints and aspirations that make up the work of any local Council and familiar to all readers of Local Government FOCUS. I hope this supplement helps us to make connections right across Australia with Local Governments who are keen to improve their community life.
  • Best practice learning – it’s more than just training
    By Des Penny*
    Creating a learning organisation and being able to deliver the education and training required to ensure that individuals and organisations move forward is a major challenge. Many organisations today are conducting accredited and non accredited programs that may be well known in the marketplace but are not necessarily delivering required outcomes.
  • Showcase your Council at the 2nd Australasian Technology and Innovation Expo (TIE)
    Gold Coast Convention Centre 15–17 March 2006
    With the theme, Productivity through Technology and Innovation – Councils doing it Better, TIE Conference convenor, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) is calling for nominations from Councils across Australia and New Zealand for a 20 minute Council Best Practice and Innovation Showcase at the 2006 Expo.
  • Putting safety at play first *
    Playspace has a central focus on quality and design that is always interesting and safe for children. This company has embraced the new Australian Standards as it adds to its already extensive ranges of products.
  • Improve your library services with ELiMS *
    Electronic Library Management System (ELiMS®), a revolutionary RFID-based library system, is proving to be the most effective and efficient way of handling library materials today. Developed by ST LogiTrack, a leading RFID technology house, ELiMS® has offered integrated solutions to libraries worldwide, including Middle East, India, North and South East Asia and Australia (Baulkham Hills Shire Council in Sydney, Adelaide City and Pine Rivers Shire Council in Brisbane).
  • Reinventing water supply
    Staff from Logan Water, a division of Logan City Council in QLD, have developed a revolutionary design for providing emergency water supply. The Camel is a portable water tank and pump facility that holds up to 1,600 litres of water. It can also be directly connected to the water supply of affected properties.
  • West Tamar leads bridge design and construction
    When planning for the replacement of the old timber Supply Mill Bridge over the Supply River at Robigana in Northern Tasmania, West Tamar Council saw an opportunity to apply best practice. Opened in November 2004, the bridge is an example of a single span bridge casting the longest prestressed super Troff beams and the first arched super Troff beams in Australia.

  • City Talk explores Sydney’s transport issues
    A free City Talk hosted by Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, was held in September to examine Sydney’s public transport issues and innovative systems that work in other parts of the world. Two independent transport experts, Russell Black and Professor Ed Blakely discussed Sydney’s transport problems, how other cities have addressed the issue and what Sydney can do.
  • Roads congress to look at improved asset management strategies
    Following a decision of members at the IPWEA (NSW) Roads and Transport Directorate Forum held in May arrangements are in hand to hold the inaugural NSW Local Roads Congress. The congress will be held on 5–6 December 2005 at the Carlton Crest Hotel in Sydney.
  • Charles Sturt identifies high risk flood areas
    Effective stormwater management and flood mitigation is one of the most significant issues facing South Australia’s City of Charles Sturt and its residents. Many suburbs within the City have a long history of flooding because the land is flat and close to sea level and much of the stormwater infrastructure is ageing.
  • Benefits all round from Eurobodalla’s CBD infrastructure PPP
    When Eurobodalla Shire Council identified the need for 400 additional carparks in Batemans Bay CBD, the Public Private Partnership (PPP) it established has delivered a range of benefits and little expense to ratepayers.

  • PPP solution to address infrastructure backlog
    Over the last two years both Cardinia and Mornington Peninsula Shire Councils in Melbourne have embarked on developing Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to assist in maintaining their road networks.
  • Green light for Hobsons Bay
    Hobsons Bay City Council in Victoria has recently developed and introduced a new system for processing permits. The Green Light Online Permit Manager enables residents to submit plans and applications online, reducing processing times as well as Council’s workload.
  • Give me that photo – now!
    Most Local Governments have a huge body of images, pictures and logos. These range from photos of Councillors and Council functions, through to shots of the best features of the municipality, to different versions of the Council logo. Most Councils now have a large and valuable body of images with great marketing importance.
  • Future directions in best practice
    An interview with Brent Arstrong, General Manager at Hobart City Council, Tasmania.
  • Wollongong leads the way in assessing financial viability
    Wollongong City Council will urge the Department of Local Government to introduce mandatory credit assessments for medium and large Councils following their recent achievement of an AA+ credit rating. The rating was awarded to Council by international financial specialists and analysts, Standard and Poors’ and is the second highest available rating on their credit scale.
  • Australia’s largest organic collection trial
    In an effort to reduce the amount of household organic waste going to landfill, 4,000 residents in the City of Burnside in South Australia are participating in a large scale organic waste collection trial.

  • Hurstville steers its way to recovery
    Hurstville City Council has worked fast and hard to make a significant improvement to an anticipated deficit in its 2004/05 budget. Eighteen months ago the forecasted deficit for the year was $8.1 million but the actual figure approved by Council to go to the auditor is now $2.8 million. The substantial savings have been achieved by a series of initiatives undertaken by Council to rein the deficit. These strategies are now impacting on the bottom line and have set the course for future improvement.