Future Directions - By Councillor Steve Wass, Mayor of Kingborough Council, Tasmania
By serving and leading at a grassroots level, we’re best-placed among governments to listen and respond to community needs.
As well as roads, rates and rubbish, we fill crucial gaps in areas like aged care, childcare, health and fitness (and many other areas) that help secure the wellbeing of our communities.
That’s why Kingborough Council prides itself on providing strong, diverse and innovative services to support our community.
Kingborough is already the fastest-growing municipality in Tasmania, and our population is predicted to grow by another 40 percent by 2037, more than 12,600 extra people.
A combination of open space, natural beauty and good services only 15 minutes commute from Hobart puts us on the front-line of residential growth.
As well as growing rapidly, that population is ageing rapidly.
By 2020, more than half our people will be aged over 55.
They’ll need more permanent and varied support from all levels of government.
In a time of seemingly never-ending financial squeeze, the defining challenge will be meeting the growing needs of our community while balancing our budgets.
That’s no secret to anyone in public administration.
Thankfully though, Kingborough has a strong and sustainable platform from which to embrace the challenge, and thrive.
Among our many community services, we already operate:
- the only Council-run multi-sport centre of its kind in Tasmania (Kingborough Sports Centre), which plays a massive role in supporting the health and enjoyment of our residents
- the only Council-run aged-care day respite centre in Tasmania (Manor Gardens), which offers invaluable support to local dementia patients and their families
- one of the only Council-run Family Day Care services in the state and
- our unique Volunteer Program, which helps more than 200 elderly residents stay independently in their own homes thanks to 70 volunteer transport providers.
Most of those services operate on a partial subsidy combined with some cost-recovery.
In our regional community, those local, affordable services fill crucial gaps in the market.
When it comes to making Kingborough life secure, convenient, enjoyable and supportive, they mean a heck of a lot to many people.
There’ll be more diverse and innovative services required in coming years.
And with the need to keep rates rises in check, there may be less and less money to go round.
We’ll need to be clever as well as caring.
But Kingborough already has the strongest of all platforms in place – and therefore great cause for optimism.
As a Council that’s already invested the hard yards in community service delivery, we’re not starting from scratch.
Our sports centre is a popular asset that can innovate and adapt to help meet the health needs of elderly residents and people with disabilities.
The model established at Manor Gardens can provide the basis of supportive and efficient aged care services in the challenging years ahead.
As our population grows, we have one of the strongest footholds of any Tasmanian Council when it comes to expanding local childcare and childhood development opportunities.
And as demand increases, we’re well-placed to develop partnerships that provide much-needed affordable services and local jobs, without unsustainably burdening our budgets, simply because we have the resources and strategic planning already in place.
A team of six Kingborough staff members recently made us the first-ever Tasmanian Council to win the Local Government Managers Association Australasian Management Challenge in the competition’s 23-year history.
By winning the eight-team final, they effectively overcame the best offerings of 110 other Australian Councils.
Kingborough has the people, the ideas and the service platform to embrace a challenging future, and make it one of immense opportunity.