September 2006 Edition

  • Local Government resolution before Federal Parliament
    On 6 September the Federal Minister for Local Government Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, moved a resolution in the House of Representatives recognising the vital role of Local Government in our system of governance.

  • Editorial - Council partnerships lead to improved services
    In Queensland the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has recently formed a new company with Queensland Partnerships Group called LG Shared Services. Aiming to assist councils in streamlining and improving their operations, LGAQ believes that the benefits of sharing services are clearly being recognised by governments and the corporate sector in Australia and overseas.
  • President's comment
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Beth Davidson, President of the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA).
  • LibraryLink helps Victorians find the perfect read
    In August, Minister for Local Government, Candy Broad, along with celebrated authors, Shane Maloney and Errol Broome, launched an Australian first $500,000 LibraryLink website at the Northcote Library in Melbourne's City of Darebin. The website will give Victoria's 2.5 million public library users unprecedented access to the 10 million books, CDs and other items in the State's public library catalogues.

  • Rockhampton friendliest town
    Rockhampton has taken out the Tourism Queensland Friendliest Town Award at the Ergon Energy Tidy Towns 2006 State Awards.

  • Rising fuel costs a further burden for Councils
    Local Councils are bearing the burden of escalating petrol prices, with ratepayers expected to wear an average increase of 21 per cent on fuel bills. New South Wales Minister for Local Government, Kerry Hickey, said a survey of New South Wales Councils showed that rising fuel prices would impact on Council finances.
  • Labor regional policy = huge can of worms
    The Good Oil by Rod Brown*
    In July, Opposition Regional Development spokesman, Simon Crean, outlined Labor's alternative policy and he's still banging on about it. Readers in regional areas should take a close interest.
  • Regional issues discussed at Launceston conference
    Australia's major national forum debating issues including population trends, climate change, town planning and forecasting opportunities has attracted its largest audience since its inception ten years ago.
  • An overview on 'panels'
    By John Clark*
    In last month's issue of Local Government FOCUS, I outlined some of the research methods used to gather feedback from the local community. In this month's article, I provide more information about the latest trend in market research techniques: "panels".
  • Councillor profiles
    Councillor profiles is a regular feature. This month we feature two Councillors from New South Wales.
  • 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 more of our high achievers for 2006.
  • Toowoomba hosts LGAQ annual conference
    The Local Government Association of Queensland's 110th Annual Conference was staged in Toowoomba from 28-31 August. LQAG President, Councillor Paul Bell, said that the Association is working with its member Councils to anticipate change and provide the necessary tools for Councils to deal with this.
  • Harnessing the power of groupthink
    US author and journalist, James Surowiecki, presented the keynote address at the recent Local Government Association of Queensland Annual Conference. His best seller, 'Wisdom of the Crowds', argues that under the right conditions groups of people can be smarter than the smartest individual within that group.
  • $13 million in grants to tackle emergencies
    In August, Attorney General Philip Ruddock announced details of 365 projects, valued at $13.1 million, to be funded in 2006/07 through the Local Grants Scheme (LGS) and National Emergency Volunteer Support Fund (NEVSF).

  • Council sustainability needs intergovernmental support
    More than half of Western Australian Councils are financially unsustainable from their current own source revenue. This is the key finding from an independent Systemic Sustainability Study (SSS) commissioned by WALGA.

Feature: Training and Development

  • Mental health training for Council staff
    As the presence of mental health problems gain focus and recognition, Western Australia's City of Geraldton has taken a progressive stance, implementing a training course for key members of staff.

  • Union and employer partnership leads the way in work life balance
    The Australian Services Union (ASU) - Victorian Authorities and Services Branch and the Victorian Hospitals' Industrial Association (VHIA) have developed a new publication to guide the introduction of family and work life balance provisions for employees in the social and community services (SACS) sector.
  • Calendar provides easy access to training
    Now in its third year, the City of Whittlesea's Family Services Training Calendar is helping local families and Council's childcare workers to improve their skills. The A4 publication lists training sessions available across the northern Melbourne municipality for the upcoming year.
  • Future directions in training and development
    Future Directions is a regular feature. This month we interviewed Michael O'Sullivan, Team Leader Organisational Development, at the City of Onkaparinga, South Australia.
  • Subsidised regional training promotes good business
    The Snowy Valleys Way Project, in partnership with Wodonga TAFE, has launched a range of innovative, subsidised training courses throughout the project's five Council areas. The Snowy Valleys Way training is available to all local businesses, residents and employees from the Shires of Gundagai, Tumut, Tumbarumba in New South Wales and Towong and Indigo in Victoria.

  • Self service focus cuts costs, improves efficiencies*
    Brisbane based Aurion now has 35 Councils using its HR and Payroll system. "Self service has been a major contributor to our success, because it ensures Council employees have 24 x 7 access to their own information and workspace," said Aurion Managing Director, Silvano Basso.
  • Internationally renowned event management program comes to Melbourne*
    The Australian Centre for Event Management (ACEM), University of Technology Sydney, has been working to further develop the vibrant and rapidly developing events area in Australia.
  • South Australian Youth Parliament
    Two young Adelaide Hills residents have been accepted into South Australia's Youth Parliament 2006. Managed by the YMCA for the South Australian State Government and the Office for Youth, Youth Parliament provides young people with an opportunity to express their views, network and develop legislation in a safe environment.
  • APS Benefits + APS Financial: Planning Partners for the next 100 years in not-for-profit financial services*
    You asked for it…here it is. We are excited to announce the launch of APS Financial Planning Pty Ltd!
  • Darwin sends mayoral delegation to Anchorage in Alaska
    In June, a sister city mayoral delegation from Darwin, led by Lord Mayor Peter Adamson, participated in a six day visit to Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Local training reduces costs
    Through collaboration with local IT specialists, Quill Consulting, the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) is now offering training for Tasmanian Councils for the UnityDCW Content Management System.
  • Students become teachers in sustainability
    A group of secondary students have helped Gold Coast City Council to polish its annual report card at a sustainability 'test' in August. Council hosted a Student Sustainability Forum, giving a keen group of secondary school students the chance to contribute ideas on how to make the City more ecologically, economically and socially sustainable.
  • Induction program assists new staff
    The City of Port Phillip recognises that new ways of working together will achieve better outcomes across the organisation. Council calls this work culture a 'web organisation'; that is, a network of relationships based on learning, openness, care and respect.

  • Mildura filling the town planning shortage
    Mildura Rural City Council's effort to help local people take on a career in town planning is reaping rewards. Council provides scholarships for people intending to study town planning.
  • Whitsunday staff walk around the world
    Fifty-six health conscious Whitsunday Shire Council staff are participating in the 2006 Global Corporate Challenge. The challenge encourages corporate Australia to curb the country's growing obesity problem.

  • Practical pavement studies delivered to your desk*
    Local Government technical staff must keep up to date with advances in the design, construction and maintenance of road pavements. The Centre for Pavement Engineering Education (CPEE) is currently accepting applications for the Graduate Certificate of Pavement Technology and Master of Pavement Technology for study period one in 2007.
  • New guide to standard competencies of Council CEOs
    In August, a guide to the standard professional competencies that should be required of Local Government CEOs and other senior managers was released in South Australia.
  • Message from the Minister
    It has been a busy year so far for the Australian Government in terms of its Local Government responsibilities. The following is an update on some of the work I have been overseeing recently.
  • Tropical Cyclone Larry - Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements
    On 20 March 2006, the North Queensland region surrounding Innisfail was devastated by a category 5 cyclone, Tropical Cyclone Larry. With wind speeds of up to 290 km/h cutting a swathe over 150 km wide, Cyclone Larry caused extensive damage to residential, industrial and agricultural property over an area half the size of Tasmania.

  • Third Indigenous Road Safety Forum to be held in Broome
    The third Indigenous Road Safety Forum will be held in Broome, Western Australia, from 23-25 October 2006. Reducing the involvement of Indigenous Australians in fatal and serious road crashes is a key national road safety issue: Indigenous road users are at least three times more likely to be involved in a fatal road crash than non indigenous road users.
  • receives prestigious international award from the United Nations
    Local councils may recognise for its easy to access business information but not as a big time award winner as it recently demonstrated with its win of a United Nations Public Service Award.
  • Hobart City Council's Botanical gardens to recycle rainwater
    There is nothing more satisfying than finding a simple solution to several challenges. Hobart City Council has done just this. A clever plan to install a stormwater tank at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens will save fresh drinking water and also prevent pollutants from entering the Derwent River estuary.

  • ACCELERATING NOW! conference supports Local Government excellence in greenhouse action
    The Australian Greenhouse Office in the Department of the Environment and Heritage is a key supporter of Local Government excellence in greenhouse action. Some 214 Local Governments representing more than 80 per cent of the Australian population play an active role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the Cities for Climate Protection™ Australia programme.
  • Hot topics: recent publications from the BTRE
    Doctors, nurses, teachers, tradespeople: Australia's much discussed skill shortages are a hot topic in the media today. Skill Shortages in Australia's Regions, the latest working paper from the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE), provides a timely overview of this topical issue from a locational perspective.

  • Building neighbourhood community harmony strategies for Local Government
    The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) is expected to announce later this year which community and Local Government projects will be funded under its $1.5m Living in Harmony (LiH) programme. Applications for grants between $5,000 and $50,000 closed on August 25.