News and resources

CiVic - Issue 10 - June 2015


Index of accessible version

President's report

By Bill McArthur, MAV President

The MAV President and Board elections were held in March, and I am honoured to have been elected President for the next two years.

Along with the 12 Board Members, five new and seven returned, I am confident that we will work collaboratively and positively to best represent the sector.

Submissions to the Essential Services Commission’s (ESC) consultation paper on rate capping were due on 15 May, and the MAV worked alongside councils and the Finance and Rate Capping Taskforce to ensure our voices were heard. We have continuously maintained that the consumer price index is not a fair measure of council costs, and the development of an independent Local Government Cost Index to more adequately reflect council costs is required. A draft report will be released by the ESC in July, followed by further consultation. The final report is due in October. We will continue to work closely with our taskforce to ensure the ESC gets this model right.

Ahead of the Australian Government’s May budget we welcomed a funding boost of $840 million nationally to fund the five hours of 15 hours of kindergarten. This was a great outcome for the sector after 12 months of continuous campaigning. The two years of funding will provide certainty for parents who access kinder for four-year-olds, and for councils who provide 15 hours of kindergarten. Without this funding, which was set to expire in December, parents were at risk of exorbitant fee increases of up to 100 per cent, or poorer learning outcomes for their children.

Complementing this federal funding is a further $50 million over four years from the State Government’s budget for improved kindergartens and integrated children’s services centres. Other wins from the State budget include $50 million for interface councils to maintain vital assets, and $100 million over four years for sporting infrastructure. However, replacement funding for the expiring $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program was not forthcoming in the budget, leaving rural and regional councils facing an effective funding cut. While substantial funds have been made available in the budget for road projects, there is no indication that local government will be eligible for this funding.

We have a challenging time ahead with the freeze on indexation of Financial Assistance Grants, potential road funding cuts, and a looming rate cap. The MAV will continue to work with members to achieve the best outcomes possible.

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Editor's note

By Kristi High, Editor.

We've made it to double digits!

Issue 10 of CiVic is being regarded as a milestone in the publishing halls of Puffafish, and we could not have done it without the support of the MAV, councils and of course our advertisers. And, I could not have done it without my extraordinary team of graphic designers, writers and sales people.

Delivering a magazine that is solely focused on good news stories sometimes causes a raised eyebrow – you know the old journo sayings like ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ etc.

Well, sensationalism, the beat-ups, and mis-angled stories are just not what we’re about.

It was time to give councils the kudos they deserve and strengthen communications between the 79 of you so East Gippsland projects are seen and heard in Cardinia, and Alpine happenings are visible to Bass Coast.

Our stories aim to tell the journey and not just the outcome of council-led projects, programs and initiatives in an effort to start a conversation and identify similarities between councils.

I haven’t quite made my personal milestone of having each council featured at least once. There are a few councils that have not had a story in CiVic and I hope to rectify that in the next two issues.

If you have an idea for a feature in CiVic magazine, feel free to contact me directly via email and please add to your media distribution list.

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Opinion: Working hard to prevent violence against women

By John Watson, Chair of Brimbank Panel of Administrators.

By mid May, 37 women had been killed, violently, in Australia this year alone by their intimate partner. In that same period, thousands of other women have experienced violence, threats, intimidation, control and coercion.

In Victoria, there were 68,000 reported incidences of violence against women last year.

Although not all of these women have been hurt or killed by an intimate partner or a family member, many have. In 2014, Victorian crime statistics identified that one-third of the sexual assaults and related offences, almost half of assault and related offences and more than half of the stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour offences were family violence related. Despite the shocking statistics on reported violence against women, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology, women are more likely to report violence perpetrated by strangers than those by men known to them such as partners, former partners and family members.

Police, health professionals and crisis response services are working harder than ever to support women in abusive relationships. Workplaces are also seeking ways to ensure they respond appropriately to assist women employees who are experiencing violence in their lives.

Brimbank City Council is proud to offer uncapped leave to female members of staff who have experienced violence. This leave is written into the Enterprise Agreement between council and staff and enables us to best support staff. It can be used to meet with legal representatives, attend to health issues arising from the violence, seek safe accommodation and any other associated matters.

Violence against women does not occur in a vacuum. Societal attitudes toward women and gender inequality can create an environment in which violence is permissible.

Former Governor General of Australia Quentin Bryce recently said, “the truth is that domestic and family violence is caused by unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women; it’s about the rigid gender roles and stereotypes that characterise our society, and the culture and the attitudes that support violence against women”.

Beyond responding to violence against women, there is a clear role for local government in preventing violence against women by challenging the cultural dimension of gender-based violence. With a local focus, working to change attitudes toward women and reduce gender inequality is one way councils can help to prevent this form of violence.

Recently, Brimbank City Council was proud to endorse council’s Plan to Prevent Men’s Violence Against Women (2015-2019): Towards Gender Equality. Planned priorities include creating an organisational culture that is welcoming, inclusive and respectful of women and an initial focus here will be on building the capacity of the council’s leadership team to recognise and challenge attitudes across the municipality that support gender inequality and violence against women.

Future work will include community campaigns to promote gender equality and raise awareness of the different forms of violence against women. A recent survey highlighted how much this is needed. The research, commissioned by Our Watch, the national foundation to prevent violence against women and their children, surveyed the attitudes of 3,000 young people in Australia to violence against women. It found that:

  • 33 per cent of respondents believed that ‘exerting control over someone is not a form of violence’
  • 25 per cent of men surveyed believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength
  • 25 per cent did not think it was serious if a man who was normally gentle slapped his girlfriend when he was drunk
  • 25 per cent thought it was normal for men to pressure women into sex
  • 16 per cent believed women should ‘know their place’.

These compelling and disturbing findings are not limited to younger people, or to specific geographic or socioeconomic groups. People hold similar opinions right across the country, including in our municipalities.

Brimbank City Council is proud to be playing a role in challenging culture and attitudes that make violence permissible and accepted – in our workplaces, our schools, our neighbourhoods and our homes.

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Sector Connector – Rate capping full circle: A short history to now

By Verne Ivars Krastins, BSC (Hons), Fellow LGPro

Just over 20 years ago, the landscape of Victorian local government was transformed. Local Government Authorities were amalgamated to the present 79, and councillors were replaced with commissioners to run municipal affairs for a couple of years.

After the reintroduction of municipal elections in 1996, the newly elected councils found themselves in quite a different world, with much larger administrations, the legacy of compulsory competitive tendering, and a considerably weakened ability to raise revenue thanks to rate capping introduced with amalgamations.

There were benefits of course. Many would agree that the ability of councils to do more with less improved – the cost of running municipal affairs per resident decreased due to economies of scale, and services could become more effective by coordinating across much larger service user populations.

Significant modernisation also occurred inside and out. On the outside, councils took a more strategic approach to community consultation and involving constituents in longer term planning. On the inside amongst workforces and management regimes, levels of professionalism probably improved.

At the interface, the more commercial approach of acknowledging residents as consumers of council services, not just recipients, probably improved service delivery. The sentiments and needs of the consumer (read rate payer) could be taken into account in a more rational and better benchmarked manner.

In 1999, rate capping was disbanded and councils once more had greater discretion over raising revenue locally. This was very enabling, except for ever growing ‘cost shifting’ – the phenomenon where higher levels of government ask more of council budgets, arguing that there’s still slack in the system. The result was biannual rate rises which the populace saw as increasingly unreasonable. Councils found themselves between a rock and a hard place, with the good outcomes spawned by council amalgamations a fading memory.

Now rate capping again. What happened? The answer will depend on your perspective.

The State Government’s view is that the content of council budgets requires more oversight and a better way to rationalise them for rate payer’s and Victoria’s greater good.

The rate payer perspective, at a guess, is that rates seem to be going through the roof without sufficient value for money. If that were not the general view, you’d expect a groundswell of opposition to rate capping. This may well be coming up if the sector makes its case well, but those most likely to question rate capping are those who don’t directly pay rates, reflecting the widening gap between haves and have nots.

The arguments being put by councils and peak bodies to the Essential Services Commission are highly rational and with their communities’ long term wellbeing at heart. But I’d suggest that there are more philosophical issues at play. The ascendance of household self-interest, and that the value of local governance is generally out of mind when out of sight, is going to make this battle a tough one to beat.

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Schools get active with great results

Wyndham City Council is working in partnership with local schools to increase active travel, reduce traffic and improve road safety by encouraging families to walk, cycle, skate or scoot to school.

The Wyndham Active Travel Schools Program was successfully piloted last year with three schools. A further five are in the process of developing School Travel Plans to encourage children, staff and parents to use non-motorised travel to and from school.

The program is delivered through Healthy Together Wyndham, which is implementing and leading the strategy to address low active travel rates around schools.

Active Travel Officer Andrew Pell works closely with the schools and coordinates the internal Active Travel Steering Group, which is represented by six council departments involved in traffic management and active travel.

Mr Pell said council provides resources, templates, support and networking opportunities to enable the schools to develop a School Travel Plan relevant to their location and community.

“The schools set up a working group that includes parents, students and members of staff such as a health and wellbeing officer or physical education teacher, and council provides support,” he said.

Each school that participates in the program receives a one-off $5000 grant.

“It is up to the discretion of the school how it uses the grant money but they must develop a holistic School Travel Plan,” Mr Pell said.

Last year, all three schools started the process by surveying parents, teachers and students about their travel habits.

“The surveys helped guide the development of the plan, which was able to be developed by school staff by bringing in relief teachers paid out of the grant,” Mr Pell said.

Activities completed last year by the pilot schools included a mapping exercise showing where students live to identify clusters. Using that information, walking or cycling routes were developed. A number of routes now have active path markers, an initiative from the Ride2School team at Bicycle Network, to show the travel times and distances to school.

Schools sent this information to their community through regular communication channels.

“The schools drive the program so that it can be seen as a school program rather than council-run, which assists with sustainability of the work,” Mr Pell said.

All of the schools that participated in the pilot reported an increase in active travel rates among staff and students.

“One school increased rates from 33 per cent to 64 per cent among students, and 20 per cent to 37 per cent for staff,” Mr Pell said.

Healthy Together Wyndham negotiated for part of council’s capital works budget to be allocated to infrastructure improvements such as footpaths and zebra crossings to further support active travel around schools.

The five schools that joined the program this year will complete their School Travel Plan by the end of term two, ready to implement in the last two school terms.

Last year’s pilot schools continue to roll out their School Travel Plans.

“This is a long term approach that can be implemented and then sustained over a long time,” Mr Pell said.

“Behaviour change and building an active travel culture can take a long time but we are already seeing many positive results.”

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Big ideas for little waste

The closure of unlicensed landfill sites across East Gippsland coupled with an environmentally hungry community have sparked council to develop a number of innovative waste management solutions.

East Gippsland Shire Council recently introduced a split skip into its remote areas, and the award winning Kitchen 2 Compost program now has a permanent organic compost site.

Manager Waste and Assets Kartik Venkatraman said council needed to explore options for maximising better waste services when five unlicensed rural landfill sites closed due to changes in the EPA legislation.

“Council recognised that the small, unsupervised and unlicensed landfill sites were prone to illegal dumping and also had environmental and safety concerns,” Mr Venkatraman said.

“These sites had been around for years, and were closed when the new EPA legislation came in.”

Council’s waste management team designed a new prototype for waste disposal – a fabricated, mobile, 30m3 split skip bin.

Split into two enclosed sections with a swivel type partition and a latch, the bin takes 15m3 of waste in one section and 15m3 of recycling material on the other.

Mr Venkatraman said the split skip bins have introduced recycling to communities that traditionally used a landfill where everything went in together.

“The closure of the landfills and introduction of the skip bins has provided council an opportunity to educate the community about waste and recycling,” Mr Venkatraman said.

“As a result, waste to landfill has been reduced and litter in these remote sites is now minimal since there are no open pit landfills.”

The bins are placed where the small unlicensed landfill sites were located in rural communities that often service as little as 30 families.

Flexible in their design, the bins are for domestic waste only and are collected, on average, every eight days.

“The bins are for domestic waste and only ratepayers have been issued with a key to unlock and use the bins,” Mr Venkatraman said.

While the skip bins were designed intentionally for rural communities, they have other operational uses.

“Some skip bins are being placed at our three waste transfer stations solely for recyclable materials,” Mr Venkatraman said.

East Gippsland’s skip bin solution was shortlisted at last year’s Australian Waste and Recycling Expo for an innovation award.

The previous year, council won in this category for its Kitchen 2 Compost program, which is still continuing in the Victorian coastal town of Mallacoota.

Since Kitchen 2 Compost was trialed in 2010, Mallacoota has almost halved the amount of organic waste that ends up in kerbside bins headed for landfill.

The project, in collaboration with Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Group and the environmentally passionate Mallacoota community, has seen the removal of kitchen organics and green waste from the town’s municipal waste stream, and the introduction of a permanent local composting site.

Mallacoota’s green waste was previously transported 293km from Mallacoota to Bairnsdale before the material was carted a further 96km to be composted.

Now, a permanent composting site on the outskirts of Mallacoota, which is owned by East Gippsland Water and supported by funding from Sustainability Victoria, is producing a compost product that can be used in community parks, gardens, landfill rehabilitation and sporting fields.

“The Kitchen 2 Compost program has provided environmental and economical benefits, including savings on transportation costs and the reduction of council’s greenhouse emissions,” Mr Venkatraman said.

Later this year, East Gippsland plans to pilot the program at a council-owned caravan park, which is the largest in the southern hemisphere. Over one summer, the caravan park can generate almost equivalent to the town’s waste in one year.

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Transforming Alpine Shire Council

Alpine Shire Council is undergoing a massive transformation that has already saved more than $3 million in recurrent spending.

Over the past 12 months, council has implemented a review of its human resources, motor vehicle fleet and some smaller spend items.

Under direction from council, newly appointed Chief Executive Dave Barry began a systematic review of the entire business in February last year.

“Every project and service went under the microscope,” he said.

“What we noticed was a number of services were delivering outputs but not outcomes.

“In local government there can be a tendency to judge what we do or spend, rather than what we deliver.”

Council recognised it had over-complicated the projects that it was delivering.

“We found a number of projects that sought to transform the organisation were not achieving their full potential,” Mr Barry said.

A benchmarking and timesaving review of how council had changed over time showed that the employee budget cost had grown by nine per cent annually over the last 10 years, and rates had risen in response.

“Every cent of rate revenue above CPI was going to sustain employee costs,” Mr Barry said.

“Post amalgamations, we had 66 staff and this had grown to 143 pre-review, costing us $12M a year in wages.

“This made our business very heavily wage exposed where 60 per cent of our revenue was going to staff expenses.

“We looked at how the business had transitioned over the past 10 years and tried to find reasons for why we had more staff.”

The result of the review was a reduction of Alpine’s indoor workforce from 80 to 58 full-time employees.

“This was achieved by all voluntary redundancies except for one, and staff in many of the positions made redundant were redeployed,” Mr Barry said.

Most of the positions to go were back office functions and Alpine now has more customer facing staff than prior to the review.

Good communication internally meant staff understood the need for change and supported the review.

Over nine months council held monthly meetings with all staff, making it clear that change was imminent.

“At these meetings, we were able to explore and answer everyone’s questions as to why the review was necessary,” Mr Barry said.

“We were upfront and honest. There was no sugar coating the truth but it was delivered in a respectful way.

“We discussed where we needed to get to and how we were going to go about it with as little adverse impact as possible.”

Staff also appreciated the introduction of more equality into the organisation.

Over time, anomalies had been introduced into the organisation with things like the use of council vehicles.

“Before the review there were some frustrations amongst staff over inequity,” Mr Barry said.

“This can weigh heavily on staff, and we want to run a fair and equitable organisation which needed to start by removing legacy type anomalies.”

As an organisation, Alpine believes it is functioning better with a smaller workforce and has greater clarity and better vision.

“We have managed to achieve reform by listening to our ratepayers and introducing efficiencies, but we still have a little way to go before we can say our transformation is complete,” Mr Barry said.

Alpine will soon undergo a review of its library and waste services.

How Alpine saved $3.3M recurrent spending

  • Reduced indoor workforce by 25%
  • Reduced private use vehicles from 22 to 8
  • Saved $110,000 from minor spend orders between $2000 and $5000.

Where the savings have gone

  • Lowest rate increase in 15 years (2.9%)
  • Reduced price of pool season passes ($295 to $99)
  • 360L recycling bins now cost the same as 240L bin
  • Lower hall usage fees
  • $8.5M committed for capital projects in 2015/16 budget
  • Forecast to pay off $1M in loans to become debt free in 2015/16
  • Allocated $6.25M to streetscape works in three major townships over next five years.

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Technology: Understanding Public Wi-Fi

A new report released by MAV Technology provides local government with a better understanding for implementing Public Wi-Fi that can help councils and their communities grow through better engagement.

The Implementing Public Wi-Fi Services for Local Government report includes a collection of research and case studies that are relevant for councils to implement or grow an existing Public Wi-Fi service.

The report includes research material related to the design, implementation, use and ongoing management of Public Wi-Fi services.

MAV Technology Executive Officer Lisa Bennetto said examples from both the private and public sectors are included.

“Case studies have been selected from around Australia and the world and are relevant to Victorian local government,” she said.

The report also includes business models that support the sustainable use of Public Wi-Fi, along with policies and process for managing it effectively.

“Councils looking to understand more about how others have implemented Public Wi-Fi solutions, and that may be seeking guidance on how they may implement their own Public Wi-Fi offering, would benefit from reading this report,” Ms Bennetto said.

Commissioned by MAV Technology and developed by Charlie Mac and Associates, the report sets out the community and economic benefits of public Wi-Fi and when and why to implement a solution.

Ms Bennetto said the case studies in the report reveal a variety of ways that public wi-fi can benefit communities, some of which may not be immediately obvious to councils.

“Public Wi-Fi has been shown to encourage innovation, economic activity, social equity and greater use of public space for the community.

“It can also benefit councils and promote the work they do to service their communities.

Research material in the report explores the design, implementation, use and ongoing management of Public Wi-Fi services.

Case studies are included from both the public and private sectors, with a particular focus on local government.

Information is also provided on appropriate technologies, policies and processes for the effective management of Public Wi-Fi.

“Councils typically offer Public Wi-Fi at council buildings and libraries, and potentially some tourist destinations or retail centres,” she said.

To read the report, visit the MAV Technology website.

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Cities ageing friendly: Banyule's global input on local journey

Banyule City Council is playing a key role on the international stage towards building age-friendly cities around the world.

As Australia’s only representative on a World Health Organisation (WHO) study to test and measure the ‘friendliness’ of cities around the world towards older people, Banyule recently attended a WHO meeting in Geneva.

The purpose of the meeting was to finalise the 17 indicators that will be tested during the pilot study, which relate to a range of factors including the physical environment (housing and transport), the social environment (employment, inclusion and participation), and health.

Banyule Community Planning Consultant Catherine Simcox said the indicators would be instrumental in establishing a common understanding among stakeholders about the key dimensions of age-friendliness that are valued in their city.

“The indicators will be used to measure the baseline level of age-friendliness of the city and monitor how it changes over time as relevant interventions are implemented,” she said.

“Monitoring and evaluation are hallmarks of sound public health practice and the indicators help us do this.

“They will also be used to help set goals and objectives in relation to them.”

The two-day meeting was also an opportunity to build the global relationship between the 13 pilot sites chosen by WHO last year to evaluate and monitor indicators for how good a place is to grow old in.

Ms Simcox said being part of this global study was a big win for Banyule, which took part in the global and highly competitive Expression of Interest process last year.

“It was likely that Banyule was chosen as Australia’s only site because council was at the start of its age-friendly journey, and we have a very multicultural community,” she said.

“Banyule’s population, like many areas of Australia, is ageing.

“Older residents, aged 60 and over, comprise 21.8 per cent of our 124,475 strong population, and one in five residents was born overseas – coming from 148 countries, the majority of which are non-English speaking.”

At the same time council applied to be part of the study, it also became a member of the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities.

Mayor Craig Langdon said council is continually making improvements to help people as they grow older feel supported, safe and included in all aspects of community life.

“Taking part in this global pilot study will enable us to identify our baseline level of age-friendliness and monitor how it changes over time as we introduce more age-friendly initiatives,” Cr Langdon said.

“Importantly, we won’t be benchmarking just council’s performance but everything that goes into influencing the quality of life for older people in Banyule.”

Council is working in partnership with La Trobe University, the Banyule Age-friendly Advisory Committee, and the North East Primary Care Partnership to complete the study.

Building age-friendly champions

Banyule City Council has established an advisory committee to be an integral part of its journey towards becoming an age-friendly city.

The 15-member Age-friendly Advisory Committee has already recruited 22 age-friendly champions interested in influencing and shaping the way council can improve the quality of life for older people, and has a waitlist of residents wanting to be involved.

Since February this year, the champions have received training to understand age-friendly communities. This knowledge will help council identify opportunities and challenges in the journey to make Banyule more age-friendly.

Banyule Community Planning Consultant Catherine Simcox said the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines an age-friendly city as an inclusive and accessible urban environment that promotes active ageing.

“A core aspect of age-friendly work is that it must include older people as active participants in the process,” she said.

“Our champions will be invited to assist council in a number of different activities which will influence and shape Banyule’s age-friendly journey.

“Some of these activities will be one-off workshops and at other times they will require a champion to use their skills on larger projects.”

In the past few months, champions have taken part in a number of projects including an age-friendly indicator workshop and gathering data about the WHO study. The group is also collecting clippings of older people portrayed in the media and recently organised a photography session showing age-friendliness in Banyule.

WHO age-friendly pilot sites

  • Bilbao, Spain
  • Bowdoinham, USA
  • Dijon, France
  • Hong Kong SAR, China
  • La Plata, Argentina
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • New Delhi, India
  • Shanghai/Jing’an, China
  • Tehran, Iran
  • Tuymazy, Russia
  • Udine, Italy
  • Washington DC, USA.

World Café

The universal ‘world café’ technique, that collects people’s thoughts in an informal environment, was used for a workshop to harness ideas about the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) indicators from Banyule’s age-friendly champions.

Banyule Community Planning Consultant Catherine Simcox said the café feel to the workshop provided an open and creative conversation on the topic of indicators.

“This technique allowed us to gain collective knowledge, share ideas and insights, and gain a deeper understanding of the subject and the issues,” she said.

“We wanted to consider the results obtained for Banyule having used the WHO draft age-friendly indicator guide to find out whether they truly reflected the participant’s experience living in Banyule, and if the champions thought the choice of indicators were right in measuring a community’s age-friendliness.”

Champions were seated at four round tables to discuss the allocated set of indicators. A council officer facilitated the conversation at each table while the champions moved around the room expanding on the ideas put forward.

Ms Simcox said on a global level, the World Café Indicator Workshop allowed Banyule’s older people to provide feedback directly to WHO on the value of the age-friendly indicators.

“On a local level, the information we gathered at this workshop will assist council to develop our own Age-friendly City Strategy.”

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Parading cultural diversity

Cultural Diversity Week was celebrated across the nation in March with hundreds of events and activities coordinated or supported by Victorian councils.

An international dress parade was the headline event organised by Greater Dandenong City Council in partnership with Springvale Neighbourhood House.

The inaugural event showcased traditional and contemporary clothes from every corner of the world.

Cultural Diversity Planner Biljana Komnenovic said the Civic Square was alive with people, smiles, conversation and colour.

“The sense of community pride was palpable as communities came together to celebrate diversity through dress, music and dance,” she said.

More than 100 community members dressed up for the parade, which attracted 600 keen onlookers.

Other events included activities at the Walker Street Art Gallery where 135 people representing seven different communities attended programs designed to activate the space and introduce local women to activities and facilities. Council also held events at its libraries, participated in Harmony Day, hosted a Places of Worship Open House, and supported local concerts and festivals.

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Mildura awarded for One Night Stand

Mildura Rural City Council
Government Communications Australia 2015 Awards for Excellence
National Award Winner
Best Tourism and Events Communication Award Winner

A concert for nearly 20,000 people put Mildura on the nation’s event map last year and recently earned council two awards for outstanding communications.

The ABC notified Mildura Rural City Council in February last year that Mildura had been selected to host the iconic Triple j annual One Night Stand event.

With just three months to prepare, council joined Mildura Tourism and retail body Mildura City Heart to ensure the opportunity to stage a music festival at the Nowingi Place outdoor venue was a great success.

Council established a communications project group in the lead up to the public announcement in March, which included representatives from Mildura Tourism, Mildura City Heart and Mildura Visitor Information and Booking Centre – the key touch point for tourists and visitors.

Together, the stakeholders had one clear objective – to successfully stage the Triple j One Night Stand while maximising the economic, social and public relations opportunities the event could bring to council and the region.

Communications Officer Mieka Symes said carefully planned communications and public relations was the key to ensuring there was no backlash from tourists and visitors, but also local residents and business operators.

“Triple j had the task of promoting the event, but council needed to manage the logistics, information and coordination,” Ms Symes said.

“We planned and timed all our communications tactics using an integrated, coordinated and consistent approach with a hierarchy system where all material got final sign off by council with input from the project group,” she said.

An integrated communications plan was developed, which identified key audiences and likely impacts the event could have.

Tactics were timed in three segments – before, during and after the concert.

Social media played a large role in the communications, particularly because of the large number of young people the event was likely to attract.

E-bulletins, website information and a 12-page newspaper lift-out with information about the concert went live before the event. Businesses and residents near the concert venue received further information relevant to them through phone calls, letters and signage.

In a first for any Triple j concert, council developed a visual identify that was applied to all collateral.

“The red graphic crowd silhouette was used on all of our material to ensure brand identity standards were high and to convey clear and consistent messaging in a cluttered media space,” Ms Symes said.

“This meant the community could instantly recognise information as ‘official’ and therefore rely on it to be accurate.”

The event was held on 17 May 2014 with 18,000 locals and visitors from Victoria and interstate coming together on the banks of the Murray River.

Events Development Officer Nardia Sheriff said this was by far the biggest event held in Mildura.

“The closest we had come to attracting a crowd to a single event previously was about 4,000 people in 2012,” she said.

Hosting the event itself was a challenge, with no budget, no precedence and no prior planning.

“We knew we were in a prime position to leverage the huge economic, social and public relations benefits,” Ms Sheriff said.

“But first, we had to overcome some increasing negative public sentiment around attracting and delivering large-scale events and activities for young people.”

While council anticipated there could be significant risks and were prepared for scrutiny and criticism, the result was overwhelmingly positive.

“Maybe it was because we had anticipated public backlash that we were able to prepare well and get it right,” Ms Sheriff said.

“Issues we anticipated such as parking, traffic congestion, road closures and bus routes didn’t manifest.”

The concert injected nearly $1.4 million into the local economy over the weekend and left Mildura with a new reputation of being well organised and well equipped to host large-scale events.

Government Communications Awards 2015

Congratulations to the following Victorian councils

Best Communications Campaign on a Shoe-string
City of Boroondara - Boroondara Gotta Go (Featured in CiVic, issue 9)

Best Advocacy/Public Affairs
Wyndham City Council - Get Wyndham Moving

Best Tourism and Events Communications
Mildura Rural City Council -Triple j One Night Stand

Internal Communications/Engagement
Yarra City Council - Internal Communications at Yarra

Best Digital Media
City of Greater Dandenong

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Councils honour the ANZACs

As Australia prepared to commemorate the brave men and women who served in World War I to mark the 100th anniversary of the landing of troops at Gallipoli, councils found themselves coordinating or supporting ANZAC Day events, many for the first time.

Around 15,000 Bayside residents descended on the Green Point War Memorial on Brighton Beach to honour the ANZACs at a dawn service held in partnership between Bayside City Council and the Hampton Returned Services League (RSL).

Victorian RSL State President Major General David McLachlan AO met with Bayside City Council last year to discuss the potential for a dawn service in the municipality.

With 100,000 people expected at the Shrine of Remembrance Dawn Service, the RSL asked Bayside to conduct a satellite site service at the Green Point Brighton Cenotaph on Brighton Beach.

Bayside Governance and Performance Reporting Manager Terry Callant said council saw this as a great opportunity for council to showcase the Green Point Cenotaph but more importantly provide the opportunity for the community to commemorate this significant milestone locally.

“We had an existing war memorial honouring the ANZACs, which we upgraded to include new illuminated flag poles and sympathetic lighting to the cenotaph,” he said.

Traditionally an RSL event, council approached the Hampton RSL to partner in coordinating the Green Point dawn service, which was first expected to attract around 3,000 people.

Council took on the logistics and programming and protocols while the RSL assisted with emceeing the event.

On the morning of 25 April, people started arriving at Green Point as early as 2am with around 1,000 people on site within the first hour.

“By 4am I couldn’t see my fellow staff members through the crowds,” Mr Callant said.

The people kept coming and coming and at 6am police blocked off the entire Beach Road given the crowd stretched across the roadway.

The service mirrored the main dawn service at the Shrine with a band, choir, flag raising and lit cauldron.

Mr Callant put the success of the dawn service down to increased education in schools, a good communication plan and the symbolic location of Green Point, which has a strong connection with Brighton Beach in Gallipoli.

At the service, council provided free coffee and ANZAC biscuits, handed out rosemary and poppies, and provided an opportunity for the community to lay a wreath or plant a poppy in a makeshift field of poppies.

Council is unsure whether the site will be used for dawn services in the future.

“The dawn service really is an RSL event,” Mr Callant said.

“This year’s event was a great learning opportunity for large community events, so if we were to do it again, we would do a few things differently.”

Did you know?

Shortly after landing at Gallipoli, ANZAC troops re-named Beach-Z ‘Brighton Beach’, after the popular bayside destination. It became a popular bathing spot.

At 2.30am on 25 April 1915 the Gallipoli campaign started when 1,500 men of Australia’s 3rd Battalion were lowered into boats several kilometres from the Turkish coast.

Their expected landing point was ‘Brighton Beach’, but they landed at ANZAC Cove.

And, the rest … is history.

In Benalla, more than 1,000 people visited a moving community exhibition celebrating the ANZAC centenary.

The COO-EE Saluting Our World War 1 Heroes exhibition was organised by the community through the Benalla ANZAC Commemorative Partnership Project. It displayed a treasure trove of priceless family memorabilia, artworks, videos and displays generously contributed by over 50 local community members and groups.

What began as a humble display of war memorabilia swelled to become an extraordinary tribute to the memory of those who participated in WW1 from the Benalla area, ranging from veterans to nurses, and those that remained at home.

“This was a moving and very successful community exhibition that council was very pleased to support,” said Mayor Cr Justin King.

“This was a grassroots project that was embraced widely throughout the community and allowed us to celebrate an important part of our community’s history.”

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Australia’s first street sweeping recycling plant

Councils now have access to Australia’s first street sweeping recycling plant with the capacity to recycle 12,000 tonnes (240,000 green waste bins) of street sweeping material each year.

The leading edge facility, built by Citywide, will be utilised by Melbourne City Council among others to divert up to 80 per cent of collected material away from landfill for reuse and recycling.

Lord Mayor of Melbourne The Hon Robert Doyle officially opened the facility at a launch attended by Yarra, Port Phillip and Whitehorse city councils.

The Lord Mayor said that until now, all street sweeping material had gone directly to landfill.

“The launch of the recycling plant will help Melbourne City Council deliver on its ambitious targets to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, water use and waste generation,” he said.

Citywide Acting Chief Executive Officer John Collins said the street sweeping recycling plant would deliver a range of environmental benefits on behalf of the community.

“The plant sets the benchmark for environmentally sustainable street sweeping recycling,” he said.

“Diverting waste from landfill reduces greenhouse gas emissions and Citywide’s street sweeping recycling plant takes this one step further by processing collected waste to create valuable by-products with multiple uses.”

Citywide Group Manager Infrastructure and Environment Matthew Whelan said the opening of the recycling plant in Melbourne would pave the way for bringing the market leading, sustainable solution to customers and communities.

“This type of technology is commonplace in the UK and Europe, but it’s the first time we’ve seen it in Australia,” he said.

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In brief

Hume gets appy

Hume City Council has launched a new free council services app for residents to report common issues and hazards, pay their rates and access key services information.

Mayor Adem Atmaca said connecting with council has never been easier.

“We know that people have busy lives and we know they want to be able to deal with us when it suits them in the way that suits them. Most importantly, they want us to be easy to deal with,” Cr Atmaca said.

“We want to be on the front foot and maintain the municipality – residents can report common issues, such as dumped rubbish, graffiti, missed, stolen or damaged bins, abandoned vehicles or problems such as cracked footpaths, potholes in roads, or parks and sporting reserves.

“They have the option to take a photo of their issue and mark up the location through their phone’s GPS location directly in the app – which means that council staff will be able to pinpoint exactly where the issue is and respond to it accordingly.”

The maps use GPS locations to find libraries, leisure centres, parks and reserves, and the app includes all of council’s contact details.

Check out the free download in the App Store, on Google Play or in the Windows Store.

Justice for Macedon

Macedon Ranges Shire Council has entered a unique partnership with the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre that is providing a win-win for both parties.

Council approached the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre to involve young men in a wildlife program as part of their ongoing education, training and rehabilitation.

To date more than 200 nest boxes have been built for local reserves to monitor and record wildlife activity while providing a refuge for wildlife where there is a lack of natural hollows for nesting.

The nest boxes were created on site at the centre with timber and hardware provided by council.

The young men were also involved in live monitoring activities, attending site visits to check the contents of nest boxes they had created with the aid of a camera on an extendable pole.

“These young men have developed practical vocational skills while helping council to roll out a large-scale fauna monitoring program in our reserves,” said Cr Anderson.

What’s in a name?

Casey City Council has revealed Bunjil Place as the official name of its new cultural precinct.

Mayor Mick Morland said Bunjil is derived from traditional Aboriginal mythology meaning ‘the eagle’, and is the creator and spiritual leader of the Boon Wurrung people.

“The story of the Bunjil provides a great link to this new facility and the idea that it will be a gathering place for the community and visitors,” Cr Morland said.

Three community members were recognised as finalists in the community naming competition.

The first stage of works has commenced onsite. Bunjil Place is expected to be completed in 2017.

Building enviro cops

Port Phillip City Council’s first energy positive building has been achieved with help from a community group of energy savers.

Council and the University of the Third Age established the group, called the Community Carbon Cops, in 2013. The group was set a challenge to reduce energy use at an Albert Park community centre by 50 per cent.

Since commencing work on the building last year, electricity consumption has reduced by 42 per cent and the building now generates 110 per cent of its total energy use thanks to the installation of solar panels.

Mayor Amanda Stevens said the 10 volunteers from the Community Carbon Cops had gone to great lengths to make the building as sustainable as possible.

“Through improved insulation, LED lighting and sealing vents and chimneys, the Community Carbon Cops have reduced the expected electricity bill by $4700,” Cr Stevens said.

“And with the addition of a 10kW solar panel system, the building now generates $2300 revenue, equalling a total saving of $7000 per year.

The Community Carbon Cops are working with council to see if other buildings in Port Phillip can undergo similar transformations.

Time for an oil change

Baw Baw Shire Council is encouraging local food retailers to get an ‘oil change’.

In collaboration with Central West Gippsland Primary Care Partnership, council is encouraging food retailers to make the switch to healthier cooking oils through a new project, Food For All Baw Baw.

The project promotes the Heart Foundation’s Healthier Oils initiative by encouraging healthier oils when deep frying food, which can be a small yet significant step towards improving health.

Healthier oil choices include canola, sunflower, safflower, soybean, olive, peanut, sesame, or any oil with the Heart Foundation Tick.

Results from a recent survey show around 30 per cent of food outlets in Baw Baw with a deep fryer are already using healthier oils in their food preparation.

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Rug Up Winter Festival

Date: 21 June

Venue: Ballarat Mining Exchange, 8 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat central

Description: Rug up, step out and warm up in the heart of the Ballarat Central business district with a winter delights market including local designers and makers, a pop-up café and a local artist sculpture garden. There will be an interactive children’s space and BallaRatCat Kids will be present comedy and magic shows. This event supports local charities Uniting Care and the Soup Bus.

Need more? Phone 0400 059 109

Fun4kids Festival

Date: 28 June–4 July 2015

Venue: 25 Liebig Street, Warrnambool

Description: Arguably Australia’s best children’s festival with more than 80 live performances and a huge selection of kids’ activities throughout a range of zones. Aimed at children aged 2-12 years.

Need more?

Writing the war: personal stories from WWI

Date: 30 June–3 October

Venue: State Library Victoria,
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Description: Hear extraordinary stories of war from seven extraordinary Australians – a nurse, bank clerk, farmer, sports master, journalist, artist and activist – in this moving exhibition about the Australian experience of World War One.

Need more?


Open House

Date: 25–26 July

Venue: Meet at the Melbourne Town Hall,
90-130 Swanston Street Melbourne.

Description: Open House Melbourne returns in 2015 with more buildings to explore and events to participate in. Unlock some of the city’s significant buildings and gain access to buildings not normally open to the public, and get a sense of their history with the odd ghost or two.

Need more?

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

Date: 30 July–16 August

Venue: Various, check website

Description: MIFF is a film-lover’s paradise. See international premieres, red carpet glamour and the best global cinema as this iconic Melbourne event enters its 63rd consecutive year.

Need more?


The School of Life Live

Date: 4 August

Venue: Federation Square, Corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne (Deakin Edge)

Description: Four key thinkers share ideas to help people unlearn some of the fundamental aspects of their lives. This two-hour evening event will guide you through four key exercises and ideas, with interludes and some essential humour from multi-award winning comic, Lawrence Leung. Get practical tips on ways to unlearn, learn and relearn social and cultural norms we take for granted.

Need more?

Lorne Festival of Performing Arts

Date: 28–30 August

Venue: Mountjoy Parade, Lorne

Description: Set against a stunning coastal backdrop where the waves lap at the shore, the streets of Lorne will come alive for three days with a host of legendary arts and music events during the 4th Annual Lorne Festival of Performing Arts.

Need more?

Sweet Wine & Food Festival

Date: 30 August

Venue: St Anne’s Winery, 64 Gerrards Road, Myrniong.

Description: Held amongst the picturesque rolling hills at St Anne’s Winery, enjoy over 30 local, artisan and boutique producers with a focus on the sweet side – wines, ciders, beers and mead, as well as cheese, chocolates, honey, jams, nuts and seeds. Activities include a bee-keeping display, make your wine port blending and a food and wine masterclass.

Need more?

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Leading our regions to growth

By Rachael Sweeney, Director Collective Position

A recent report commissioned by the Regional Capitals Australia association (RCA) uncovers how leadership within local government plays an important role in growing healthy regional capitals.

Officially launched at RCA’s Regionalism 2.0 conference in Mackay in March, Regional Capitals Australia partnered with the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) to deliver the report, titled Local Government Growing Regional Australia.

The report was commissioned to understand what factors have contributed to the development of strong, sustainable regional capitals and regions and if the actions of local government assisted in this growth and development.

By identifying the common drivers and inhibitors, the research specifically set out to uncover what is meant by a ‘strong and sustainable regional capital’. Equally there was an investigation on how key local government governance and leadership ingredients helped to create and enhance these drivers, and minimise inhibitors.

In preparing the report, an extensive literary review was undertaken in addition to five case studies. The cities of Geelong (Vic), Mackay (QLD), Wagga Wagga (NSW), Geraldton (WA) and Launceston (Tas) all went under the microscope.

RCA defines a regional capital as an urban centre located outside the urban growth area of the nation’s capital cities, functioning as the primary service centre for people living in the surrounding network of smaller towns and rural communities.

The five councils were chosen to ensure diversity in terms of population size, economy and distance from a capital city, however all cities displayed core characteristics that showed some progression towards becoming a strong and sustainable regional capital.

Cities were examined in terms of the factors that both drive and inhibit development in their regional capital. In addition, the report addressed governance framework and leadership within the councils, and cities were asked about key milestones affecting their development.

Across the board, major drivers and inhibitors included environmental factors, community capital, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, economic and market conditions, institutional factors, governance and leadership.

In all five of the case studies, transport infrastructure and infrastructure connecting regional capitals to the rest of Australia and the world was highlighted as a key driver of economic development, and in some cases an inhibitor of future progress. All regional capitals involved cited transport costs as a particular problem.

The report’s principal researcher, Dr Robyn Morris, Adjunct Academic, Edith Cowan University, explained, “Simultaneously, many of the regions face significant infrastructure backlogs. These relate both to the need to maintain or replace existing infrastructure as it ages and to invest in new or expanded infrastructure to meet the demands of expanding industries and/or growing populations.”

What’s driving Geelong?

The report’s Victorian subject was the City of Greater Geelong, the state’s largest regional city and one of the 20 largest cities in Australia. With a population of close to 200,000, it’s also one of the nation’s largest regional capitals.

Geelong identified key drivers of its economic development as: coastal location and an attractive coastline, proximity to Melbourne, transport infrastructure, extensive community and cultural infrastructure, major educational institutions, significant public sector employment, and a large population.

Inhibitors facing Geelong varied from the impact of the declining manufacturing sector and collapse of the car industry, to strained transport links, an ageing population and lower-than-average health incomes.

In terms of key governance and leadership in Geelong, the G21 region and its many institutional and individual leaders who share power through collaborative governance was key. Organisations in the region include the G21 Alliance, Geelong Manufacturing Council, Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Deakin University and the Committee for Geelong.

Across these bodies, there was shared individual and institutional representation on boards and committees, serving both public and private interests. Dubbed ‘institutional thickness’, Geelong had an appropriate number of organisations focused on promoting the region’s wellbeing, leading to effective functioning without high costs or complexity.

Greater Geelong City Council, and in particular its Mayor Darryn Lyons, was noted as a key component of Geelong’s governance framework. Through the G21 Alliance, the Mayor is often the spokesperson for the broader region and, together with former CEO Gillian Miles, advocates for regionally significant projects and infrastructure, working to attract government investment to the region.

Other key ‘ingredients’ for governance and leadership included articulating a clear vision for the G21 region, developing partnerships, fostering innovation and winning resources.

As stated in the report, ‘whilst this regional capital and region are still very much in the depths of significant economic transformation, these stakeholders have been responsive to external events, and they have been proactive in seeking out opportunities to strategically reshape the future of the region.’

Geelong also identified various key events or milestones that helped drive development in the city, such as the regional rail link project, development of Deakin University, development of G21’s Regional Growth and Implementation Plan, and the establishment of the Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund (GRIIF).

Commonalities across Australia

While drivers, inhibitors and other forces affecting regional development varied across the regional capitals, there were also similarities between the cities. There was a high degree of integration between the economy of the regional centre and that of its region. The direction of such integration, however, varied.

While the economies of Greater Geraldton and Mackay are both influenced by mining industries in their region, the influence runs the other way in Geelong, where regional economy is largely dominated by the city’s declining manufacturing base.

The report noted that many forces were largely beyond the control of regional capitals, such as changes in global economic and market conditions, and natural forces like floods, droughts and cyclones which affected all regions but in different ways.

Despite somewhat lacking control over these forces, the report highlighted that this did not necessarily mean the regional capitals were powerless to influence the outcomes. ‘Each of these cities has recognised the need to exercise regional leadership either directly or indirectly through a range of policies and strategies to encourage economic development.’

Examples of such action include Greater Geelong and Launceston’s attempts to deal with the collapse in manufacturing in their regions, and Greater Geraldton and Mackay pursuing policy that responds to the mining downturn.

The ACELG report catalogues many positive innovative actions that these regional capitals have taken to lead the way in regional economic development. As stated in the report, ‘The size of the regional capitals and the agglomeration of infrastructure and services available in each of them mean that by default they have a role as regional leaders. However all of them have sought to exercise leadership in more proactive ways’.

The Local Government Growing Regional Australia report by the Australia Centre for Excellence in Local Government is available in two volumes.

  • Volume 1 provides an overview of the project, its background and aims, a summary literature review, an outline of the research findings and conclusions that emerged from a synthesis of the outcomes of the individual case studies.
  • Volume 2 provides the full literature review, the full case studies and a complete bibliography.

Both volumes of the report can be downloaded via

About Regional Capitals Australia

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) is an alliance of local government associations representing Australia’s regional capitals.

The alliance is working to achieve a network of well-planned and sustainable regional capitals across Australia.

RCA has 27 members from all states in Australia, except South Australia.

For more, visit or call 03 9629 7752.

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Five minutes with … Cr Michelle Kleinert, Manningham City Council

Manningham City Councillor Michelle Kleinert caught up with CiVic Editor Kristi High to talk about an issue close to both of their hearts - preventing all forms of bullying and violence, everywhere.

Cr Kleinert, you’ve joined Bully Zero Australia Foundation (BZAF) recently as a workplace trainer within councils. What drove you to take on this role?

It happened quite organically following a chance meeting with BZAF founder, Moreland Cr Oscar Yildiz. Over the course of my professional life, I have seen first hand many examples of bullying. This, coupled with my strong belief of what is right and wrong, made it a perfect fit.

How do you think your work within councils can influence a change in workplace behaviour?

I do not believe that there is any excuse for bullying, no matter who you are or what business or industry you are in. This includes all levels of government. Through appropriate training, we can all make a difference to how people are treated when they are at work.

What are some of the misconceptions about bullying and violence in the workplace today?

Firstly, sometimes people who say ‘I don’t bully’ actually do, and they need to listen and understand when their behaviour is inappropriate.

The second misconception is that someone’s personality, or position, are excuses for how they behave. They are not. Just because someone has a ‘large’ personality, doesn’t make his or her behaviour excusable. Also, just because you might be more senior in your role, doesn’t mean you can speak to others in a less than respectful manner.

The BZAF sessions acknowledge some people have challenging personalities but this can be controlled through some learned diplomacies.

How is the volunteering at Bully Zero Australia Foundation going? What is happening over there?

We are working together and doing some forward planning. I am learning the culture of the office and understanding how driven Oscar is and where his passion comes from because bullying just does so much damage.

You are a friend of David Cassai’s family, the young man who was a victim of a one-punch attack on New Year’s Eve 2012. How did this cowardly attack affect you?

It just brought it so close to home. David was an amazing kid. He grew up in a good neighbourhood, came from a good family and was extremely family-oriented. The sense of injustice surrounding what happened to David, and not having any power to do anything or to take away the hurt and pain that I was watching his family and friends go through was horrific.

I wanted to honour his mum’s grieving desire to get the message out and knew that we needed to save other lives.

What started with a local rally quickly grew with momentum and the development of Stop. One Punch Can Kill, which is now delivering education in schools and sporting clubs through volunteers. At a recent session we had 80 young boys aged 12-19 years in the room and you could have heard a pin drop – the message was really hitting home that violent behaviour wrecks lives.

You work for yourself, and are active in a number of community organisations and activities. What made you want to add ‘councillor’ to your bow?

It really stemmed from an incident where I had written to council as a citizen. It was an OHS issue where I had been hurt and others could be. The response I received was sterile and showed a real lack of care. Then I saw an ad and a friend suggested I run. I never thought it would happen but I love my city and I want to serve our community, and more than anything want to be proud of everything Manningham offers.

And finally, when you’re not working or volunteering, what is your favourite past-time

It may not sound like a past-time but I am really enjoying the new friendships I have made, many through the community that have been forged through my councillor role. It makes me feel connected. Everyday is something different and it is hard to switch off from something you love. Oh, but I do like to cook.

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What's Hot

  • Macedon’s iconic Honour Avenue added to the Victorian Heritage Register.

  • New bans on smoking around kids’ hang-outs, hospitals and some public buildings.

  • Bendigo starts work to protect precious heritage buildings.

What's Not

  • Planning Minister rejects Bayside’s request for interim mandatory height controls to residential areas for local activity centre.

  • Federal Government cuts almost $30 million from local government funding through its freeze on indexation of Financial Assistance Grants.

  • Rate capping could cause some councils to lose up to $3M in the 2016/2017 financial year.