MAV conference attracts international interest

A Melbourne based conference on asset management in Local Government has received attention from across the Middle East for its progressive and innovative ideas.

Two delegations from Abu Dhabi and Dubai attended the Municipal Association of Victoria's 2011 National Local Government Asset Management Conference in May. The delegations had conducted an international search to find the most suitable asset management conference in line with visions for their cities.

They chose Melbourne because it is the home of the nationally acknowledged MAV Step Asset Management Program. Victorian Local Governments manage
$55 billion worth of community assets including 85 per cent of the State's road network.

A 19 member knowledge tour from the Department of Municipal Affairs in Abu Dhabi, led by His Excellency, Dr Abdulla Albloshi, and a party of 20 from Dubai were among the
300 attendees at the eighth annual conference.

MAV President Bill McArthur said Local Government is the level of government that spends the highest proportion of its revenue on infrastructure.

"The MAV introduced the Step Asset Management Program in 2002 to build sector capacity, reduce infrastructure backlogs, and further improve councils' asset knowledge and management," he said. "With a national infrastructure backlog of
$14 billion, smart management of Local Government infrastructure is the most significant challenge facing councils.

"Between 2007 and 2011, the Step Program identified Victorian councils faced an annual underspend of $280 million. Through participation in the Step Program, the annual infrastructure spending shortfall has reduced to $100 million per annum. This is due to more robust asset assessments by councils, improved data quality available through the program, and increased funding commitments."

The MAV has been working closely with the delegation from Abu Dhabi, and given their significant interest in the MAV Step Asset Management approach, has offered them complimentary access to its program.

Councillor McArthur would like to form a strategic partnership with the Municipality of Abu Dhabi to share asset management knowledge on a continuing basis.

"The journey from awareness of council asset management issues to the implementing a strategic plan to end these obstructions has been challenging, but rewarding," he said. "In these times of floods, bushfires and climate change, the need for better asset management to inform good quality council decisions has never been greater.This conference is helping councils to learn from the past and build a better future for our communities."