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"President's Update" sent on Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

Events are developing rapidly. This afternoon MAV CEO Kerry Thompson organised a hook up with the Metropolitan and Mitchell Shire CEOs, the DHHS and LGV after the Premier’s announcement of six-week Stage 3 restrictions for the 32 local government areas. The CEOs were able to ask questions of the Government. Further details will be sent out to CEOs from the MAV team via Kerry’s CEO Connect.

These last few days have been very difficult for so many Victorians. But, yet again, councils have responded to the challenges, offering support, relief and speaking out on behalf of their communities. We know the demands are not just in the lockdown areas but also in our shires bordering NSW and South Australia and the significant impact the border closure has and will have on those communities.

Meeting the new Minister for Local Government

Last Friday, MAV CEO Kerry Thompson and I met with the new Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Shaun Leane MP.

It was a very cordial meeting and I was delighted our new Minister said he did not believe local government gets the due credit it deserves – and he wanted to highlight the good things that local government does. He wants examples so he can advocate.

The Minister accepted our invitation to the August MAV Board meeting and has said he will also meet with regional council groups. We are pleased that he is committed to building relationships with the local government sector.

With regards to the elections, we asked him to reconsider delaying the October elections given the recent increase in COVID-19 numbers. Thank you to the numerous councillors who have recently contacted me giving current examples of the difficulties. I re-iterated these examples.

The Minister said he is not considering delaying the elections, and said that we are all in a COVID-19 situation. He has received a number of emails and social media with varying opinions regarding the elections and that he has a responsibility to the residents as well as Councils. He added he believed the community wanted to vote in October for their council representatives. He noted that LGV are continuing to work on the implementation of the Local Government Act 2020.

The Minister also met this morning with Mayors from the councils currently in lock-down.

Regional meetings

I have attended a number of regional meetings recently and enjoyed hearing about the council initiatives and issues, especially how councils are helping and supporting their communities through COVID-19. Thank you everyone for all the great work you are doing throughout this very challenging time and the initiative ways you are supporting your communities.

Next Mayor’s Forum

We are in the process of organising Mayor’s Forum in the next couple of weeks. I will come back to you in the next couple of days once a date has been finalised.

Disappointing outcome for funding application

A few weeks ago, we submitted a funding application to Local Government Victoria for a campaign to increase women’s representation in local government. I am very disappointed to say that we didn’t receive any of the funding, nor did any local government body. The grant was awarded to a private marketing agency.

Congratulations Geraldine and Bernadine

On a very positive note, I am delighted to congratulate Geraldine Conheady on being elected to Corangamite Shire Council at the recent by-election and Bernardine Atkinson on her election to the Ararat Rural City Council. I look forward to working with both Geraldine and Bernadine and welcome to the local government family.

ALGA news

The Australian Local Government Board has continued to meet fortnightly throughout the pandemic. The MAV is represented on the Board through Vice President (Rural) Cr Ruth Gstrein and myself.

As you know, the President of ALGA had a seat on COAG. However, on 29 May 2020, First Ministers, through the Prime Minister, announced the cessation of COAG and the continuation of National Cabinet, which they considered to be a much more effective body than COAG for taking decisions in the national interest. Local government was not given a seat at the National Cabinet table.

ALGA as the national representative body of local government, was given a seat on the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC). The NFRC will meet once a year to focus on priority national federation issues such as Closing the Gap and Women’s Safety. In addition to ALGA, the NFRC is comprised of the National Cabinet and the Council of Federal Financial Relations – Federal and State/Territory Treasurers. We will continue to advocate for greater representation of local government.

Liability Mutual Insurance scheme update

From June 30, all 79 Victorian councils, 29 Tasmanian councils and a handful of community organisations will be members of MAV’s Liability Mutual Insurance (LMI) scheme.

In a difficult market, MAV Insurance protected its members by providing appropriate public liability and professional indemnity insurance, despite its limited availability. In line with our continuing scheme reform projects, we will engage with our membership to ensure the scheme delivers the best possible liability insurance to the local government sector, particularly during these tough times.

In addition, we will continue our dialogue with the Victorian Government and members on the restructure of the LMI scheme, including the potential for a compulsory scheme, which will provide long-term value and increased transparency in its operations. For more information please contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Call it Out: 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence in Victoria

Following state-wide engagement of councils in last year’s Respect Women: Call It Out campaign during the 16 Days of Activism, the MAV has again been successful in our submission to Respect Victoria for funding to coordinate the 2020 initiative.

This funding enables the MAV to offer small grants of $2000 to all Victorian councils and 23 state-wide and regional community organisations across Victoria to participate in the 16 Days of Activism campaign. The grants will support councils and organisations to further expand and strengthen capacity to continue conversations and engagement with your communities in this critical and potentially life-changing work.

Over the coming months, the MAV will work with Respect Victoria and our project partners, DVRCV and VCOSS, to ensure the small grants are disbursed and project resources shared to assist delivery of a state-wide but locally relevant campaign focused on Respect Victoria’s active bystander theme, Respect Women: Call it Out. For more information contact 16dayscampaign@mav.asn.au.

As we begin preparing for the October elections, our special focus is on encouraging diversity and equality in local government. My latest op-ed talks about how a council that does not truly represent its community, cannot serve its community.

Now, with a six week lock down of metropolitan Melbourne plus Mitchell Shire, MAV will be following up with the Minister asking if it is appropriate to continue with elections in October. I would welcome your thoughts on the MAV’s next steps and will be in contact next week and obviously closely monitoring the COVID-19 numbers and the current restrictions.

Please, take care and stay safe.

With warm wishes,
Coral