Toowoomba puts water recycling firmly on the national agenda
As the driest continent on earth and with many areas suffering from prolonged drought, a number of our inland cities and towns are facing the possibility of literally running out of water. Numerous areas around the nation have strict water conservation regimes in place, with even tougher restrictions predicted in the near future.
Editorial - Addressing the challenges of referenda
There is no doubt that grants and favourable policy decisions by the other spheres of government will hinge increasingly on Councils demonstrating three key things. These include Councils using long term strategic planning to ensure they remain financially sustainable, that they are sharing their best practice initiatives and wherever possible implementing successful projects tried and tested by other Councils, and they are genuinely consulting and engaging with their community and other stakeholders.
In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Bill Mitchell, President of the Western Australian Local Government Association.
Burnside celebrates its 150th anniversary
This month, South Australia's City of Burnside is celebrating its 150th anniversary. The city is one of Adelaide's oldest residential areas, and is well known for its tree lined streets, period architecture and plentiful reserves and gardens.
King Island takes out national Banksia Award
King Island Council has taken out the Local Government Category of the national Banksia Awards for its Currie Sewage Treatment Wetlands project featured in last month's edition of FOCUS.
Bogong's ground rules for pushing issues in Canberra The Good Oil by Rod Brown* Bogong is the byline of a regular columnist in our monthly Cockatoo newsletter. He is a successful lobbyist and his latest tidings are very relevant to local Councils looking to run agendas with the Australian Government.
High performance characteristics descended from Subaru DNA*
It is now over 40 years since Subaru industrial engines pumps and generators were first imported from Japan into Australia. During this time, they have come to be recognised as foremost with most of Australia's large hire companies as their performance and reliability stands alone amongst competitors.
Enabling LG business through technology
Staged in Melbourne in early August, the Municipal Association of Victoria's Local Government Technology Solutions conference attracted some 200 delegates from Councils in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and from New Zealand.
ARK saves animals in danger
The Australian Capital Territory's Animal Recovery and Disease Control Centre has developed a portable resource for dealing with animals involved in large scale emergencies.
Councillor Profiles is a regular feature. This month we profile two Councillors from South Australia.
Alice Springs residents get 'greened' up
In July, Alice Springs Town Council called on all its resident green thumbs to help green up the Alice. Council, together with Planet Ark, various local organisations and 250 willing volunteers, planted 500 trees and shrubs in local Rotoract Park for National Tree Planting Day.
Recognising LG's high achievers
At the 2006 Local Government Managers Australia National Congress in Perth, FOCUS invited delegates to nominate individuals or teams from their Council who are improving their Council's operations and meeting community needs. In this edition, we showcase two of our high achievers for 2006.
Why community consultation is becoming more sophisticated By John Clark* Many Councils across Australia invest significant sums of money on community consultation. Self completion questionnaires and telephone surveys are preferred ahead of focus group discussions and public meetings while, to date, panels and online research have had limited appeal.
Who's town is it anyway? The UK Experience by Malcolm Morley* With talk of wholesale Local Government reorganisation subsiding, the policy agenda seems to be moving towards Council's roles in place shaping. District Councils have the largest role in this process and yet are responsible for as little as five per cent of public sector spending within towns.
Integrated approach to community services*
In the past, many Councils opted to purchase different products from a number of different vendors providing Community Services software. Now many Councils are recognising the advantages of implementing a totally integrated solution for all its Community Services needs.
The power of numbers
The Victorian Interface Councils group recently secured a $25 million funding commitment over four years from the Victorian Government to improve children's services in outer Melbourne. The advocacy campaign has also enhanced the Interface Councils' partnership with the State Government in working towards better service provision.
High safety standards at Geraldton's Aquarena
Recent research linking asthma to indoor pool usage only highlights the importance of good quality systems when designing indoor swimming complexes, according to City of Geraldton Aquarena Manager, Colin Hassell.
Meeting the mental health challenge
Wollongong City Council will soon open a unique facility with the potential to improve the lives of thousands of local families as a result of a partnership with residents.
Support for community sport*
After the dust settles on the sports funding allocations that occur at Federal and State budget time and certain commitments are made for developing sport and facilities, it is often grassroots sport that is left contemplating its future. And that is where the Australian Sports Foundation Ltd (ASF) can assist.
Clubs Forever - leaping ahead of the game
The City of Stirling's Club Forever program has lifted the benchmark in the vital area of club development. Since 2003, the program has worked at the grass roots level to support sport and recreation clubs, which Council believes are fundamental in developing and maintaining a healthy, vibrant and interactive society.
Healthy change for childcare
Burnie City Council's Children's Services Unit has introduced a program promoting healthy eating habits for children under five attending childcare. The city has three centres catering for some 300 children every week.
Bicycle parking facilities*
Bicycle transport has become an increasingly popular choice for commuters and recreation enthusiasts. It is well understood that Councils and residents enjoy significant environmental and health benefits by increasing bicycle use. Local Government can play a key role in encouraging bicycle use by providing end of trip facilities, such as secure and effective bicycle parking racks.
Leichhardt embraces an 'optimalist' approach
Leichhardt Municipal Council has renewed its partnership with the Australian Red Cross, taking the agreement into its second year. Located seven kilometres west of Sydney's CBD, Leichhardt is the first Local Government Friend of the Red Cross in Australia.
Port Augusta's lush green open spaces
A number of years ago Port Augusta City Council recognised the need to reduce its reliance on water from the River Murray and began planning to reuse the city's waste water on its parks and gardens.
Tough, vandal resistant taps*
Over the last two years Holroyd Council in New South Wales has progressively upgraded their parks, swimming centres and ovals with GE products. Council was looking for a range of tapware that was robust to take the rigorous demands of today's environment, easy to install, attractive and water saving to help our future. The verdict was to use the Ezy Push Range and a heavy duty shower head as vandalism is always a major issue.
Extending your assets budget*
Creating enduring urban landscapes with a cohesive design aesthetic and local identity is placing demands on Local Government to source individual, quality products at reasonable prices. Concerns about the impact of construction on environmentally sensitive areas, vandalism, and public safety have become a priority.
Skilled migration helps Regional Australia
Many regional areas of Australia have skill shortages. Employers need skilled workers to fill job vacancies so their businesses can thrive and expand. If an employer cannot find a particular skill in the local labour market, sponsoring a skilled worker through a regional migration scheme may be an option.
Queensland LG Community Services 2006 Conference 25-27 October in Yepoon The Size Shape Sustainability (SSS) initiative is one of the most significant issues to face Queensland Local Government in many years. In recognition of the increased pressures being placed on Councils, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) and the Queensland Local Government Community Services Association (QLGCSA) have resolved to actively promote the need to consider reform to ensure the long term sustainability of Queensland Local Government.
Facilitation skills are powerful tools for engaging the community*
A skilled facilitator, who understands what is going on in a group, can assist communities to be actively included in planning processes and to make effective decisions. The skilled facilitator increases the skill capacity of those they work with and enables them to work cooperatively, to manage conflict and to produce positive outcomes.
Partnerships make business sense
With a major focus on long term sustainability, Mount Alexander Shire Council is looking at ways of strengthening and supporting business in the area, while maintaining lifestyle opportunities for its extremely diverse community.
Planning with the community
Council aims to involve the whole community in developing a Mount Alexander Community Plan. With $20,000 in funding from the Department of Victorian Communities, the Plan will shape the future strategic directions of the Mount Alexander community.
Cluster, Connect and Consolidate
The Mount Alexander Shire Council, using a growth rate of 1.4 per cent, predicts that the population of the Shire will increase by 5,200 people to reach 21,400 by 2021.
Facts and figures
Located just 120 kilometres north west of Melbourne, Mount Alexander Shire is an accessible, well serviced, and future focused area. Formed in 1995 following the amalgamation of the City of Castlemaine, the Shire of Newstead and a major portion of the Shires of Maldon and Metcalfe, Mount Alexander has a population of just over 16,000 people.
Bringing partners on board helps spread the load
Located just an hour and a half drive from Melbourne in the Goldfields region, and with petrol prices continually on the rise, Mount Alexander Shire is ideally located to attract people wanting an affordable break.
Botanical Gardens undergo restoration and refurbishment
Established in 1860, the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is one of Victoria's oldest regional botanical gardens. Covering some 24 hectares, the gardens and plant specialisation reflect Castlemaine's goldrush prosperity and the global curiosity of botanists throughout the 19th century.
Heritage diggings make the cut
Surrounding Mount Alexander Shire is the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, covering approximately 7,500 hectares. The Castlemaine Diggings is believed to be the most outstanding gold rush era site in Australia.
Landcare turns 20
Then Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands, Joan Kirner, officially recognised Landcare in north western Victoria in 1986. Some 20 years later, Mount Alexander Shire has a very active community, with the highest density of Landcare groups of any municipality in Victoria.
Harcourt takes out Regional Tidy Town Award
The Shire is proud of the active role its communities play in caring for the environment and therefore nominated the town of Harcourt in the Keep Australia Beautiful Tidy Towns Award.
Volunteers stretch dollars further
The number of volunteers in Mount Alexander is continually rising. CEO, Adrian Robb, said volunteers play a huge role in the sustainability of facilities, programs and services and being involved on local town improvement committees.
MAETS addresses long term unemployment
Mount Alexander Shire is one of only two Councils in Australia contracted to provide Job Network, the Federal Government's job assistance initiative. Mount Alexander Employment and Training Services (MAETS) addresses the needs of employers and job seekers in Castlemaine, Bendigo, Kyneton and Wedderburn.
Mount Alexander is working with the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA) in an aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 per cent.
Our enterprising community
Castlemaine Secondary College students are working towards cultural change in Mount Alexander Shire, developing it as an enterprising community of international significance.
State Festival boosts local economy
The Castlemaine State Festival is one of only two country festivals recognised in the major arts festival category by the National Arts Ministry. Held biennially, the Festival was first held in 1976, with the next scheduled event in 2007.
Old Castlemaine Gaol houses training facility
Under a five year leasing agreement with Mount Alexander Shire, CVGT Employment and Training Specialists will upgrade and refurbish the Old Castlemaine Gaol, developing it into a certified training facility.