Future directions in financial sustainability and asset management

As part of our ongoing interaction with the local community and to increase our understanding of who resides, works and visits the area, Burwood Council worked to implement a system that provides the latest information on our local government area.

Called Burwood Profile, the system provides insights into the profile of the Burwood community that allows us to make informed decisions and effectively communicate to residents and visitors.

We identified a need for a system like the Burwood Profile given the ever-changing demographics of our Council’s residents. Burwood and its surrounds are high traffic areas with two train stations, a bustling CBD, a number of educational institutions and a reputation as a major centre for new migrants.

Separated into three sections — Community, Atlas and Economy — these systems provide a web-based comprehensive socio-demographic community profile at the local government area level and of smaller suburb areas.

In the process of implementing the system, a number of key factors were taken into consideration. We knew that it would be impractical and cumbersome for the Burwood Council to gather up-to-date information ourselves, so we engaged an external supplier, called Informed Decisions, to assist with its implementation and the data gathering.

Burwood Profile, which was only implemented in the past month, has already shone a light on where we should allocate resources, assisting in the longer-term financial sustainability of our operations. For example, typically, Burwood has had a strong migrant population of people with a Greek, Italian or Lebanese background. With the new Burwood Profile technology, however, we are learning this is shifting to a make-up of predominantly Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese immigrants, showing that Council needs to provide resources in different languages where possible.

Information like this will allow a variety of groups, including Burwood Council staff, residents, community organisations, schools and the business sector, to search for the data they want to provide more tailored services to local residents.

The system also assists Council to understand the current population, its characteristics, how they differ across suburbs and localities and how this compares to other localities. It also allows users to track trends and predict growth.

Currently, the systems provide access to 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 ABS data, and this will be updated shortly with the new 2011 census data. The data is presented in easy to use tables, charts and commentary covering a wide range of census questions. It has comparative data, and you can choose which regions to compare. This was certainly a key feature we were looking for, given the vastly different demographics throughout our LGA.

Burwood Council is constantly on the look out for systems and initiatives like Burwood Profile that assist in securing our future and ensuring we allocate and manage our assets as best as we can.
Burwood Profile’s implementation has been taken up by all our departments enthusiastically in the development, management and reporting of projects. Twenty-first century systems such as the Burwood Profile are what will ensure local governments maintain the best understanding of communities and continue to provide relevant and effective services and resources to residents.