News and resources

CiVic - Issue 13 - Winter 2016

E-magazine

Index of accessible version

President's report

By Bill McArthur, MAV President

At the time of writing, we were just a short time away from the federal election. Eight priority commitments have been sought by the MAV from all political parties, including six national local government priorities released in the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) Local Government Plan for an Innovative and Prosperous Australia.

This includes restoring indexation for financial assistance grants and increasing the total quantum of funds; a dedicated community infrastructure fund; permanent Roads to Recovery funding; a national freight strategy; and funding for local climate change plans. The MAV is also seeking political parties to commit enduring funds for the 15 hours kindergarten universal access program, and to honour the agreed tripartite aged care reform transition plan through to 2019 and beyond.

MAV member councils were sent an advocacy kit with a range of practical resources to brief their local federal MPs and candidates on the eight priority commitments sought, to support the advocacy undertaken by the MAV and ALGA to Ministers and party leaders in Canberra.

We recently celebrated a win in the State Budget with the government allocating $133 million to councils for Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services. The MAV undertook extensive work to achieve this outcome, including surveying members on the costs of service delivery to help build our case. Through negotiations with the Minister and her Department, we’ve secured an increase in the State’s contribution from $95 to $110 per hour, which is a 15.8 per cent rise. This restores us to a 50:50 funding partnership for MCH services.

The government also confirmed an annual 2.5 per cent indexation to future MCH funding, and it will no longer be regarded as a ‘lapsing’ program requiring periodic renegotiation with the State. This delivers ongoing funding certainty for councils.

We hope this is just the first of many wins we have this year on cost shifting, as we continue to negotiate State-local government funding parity for key community services. Our efforts are now focused on reviews of how the Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) and the school crossing supervisors program are funded to develop more sustainable models.

The SES and school crossings both play vital safety roles within our communities. Councils greatly value these services and strongly support their continued work. However, decades of under-funding by the State Government has left these services in a dire position, relying on council goodwill and ratepayers subsidising growing service costs that the State has failed to pay as required under joint funding agreements.

We’re seeking a more secure model for both the SES and school crossings to ensure the continuation of both services. I hope to be able to report some good news on our progress with achieving funding reforms in the near future.

I hope you enjoy this edition of CiVic and all the wonderful examples of council innovation that we have featured.

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Editor's note

By Kristi High, Editor.

Welcome to our special technology edition of CiVic.

Over the past few years, MAV Technology has been a great supporter of CiVic magazine, helping bring you the stories that deserve to be told – the innovations, the successes and the priorities surrounding Victorian local government.

MAV Technology has also had numerous successes itself, keeping councils at the forefront of technology that creates a more efficient and effective workplace.

This year’s conference is themed 2020 Vision. Held over two days in August, it will explore how councils are transforming the way they deliver services and include case studies around doing more with less, meeting rising community expectations, managing changing job roles, sharing systems, skills and data.

I have been to the last few MAV Technology conferences and the event is always an eye-opener into the great work councils are doing that often goes unheard of, let alone celebrated.

When I started preparing this edition of CiVic, I met two strategists, Larry Quick and David Platt, who have written a number of books on the topic of ‘disruption’.

The duo recently conducted a survey of nearly 300 Australian business leaders to find out how much they know about disruption – both technology and physical – and how they can, or at least should be able to, leverage it within their organisation.

One of the biggest themes that came through the survey was that many business leaders ‘don’t know what they don’t know’. What’s coming next in technology, how could it bring disruption to an organisation?

I would like to thank Larry and David for contributing to our technology edition, which is based on their knowledge and expertise in disruptive technologies and years advising organisations and government about preparing for, and leveraging, disruption.

I hope you can make it along to the MAV Technology Conference on 10 and 11 August at the Sofitel Hotel in Melbourne, and we look forward to sharing some of the success stories in the next edition.

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Opinion: Councils not immune to workplace bullying

By Cr Oscar Yildiz, Moreland City Council.

Bullying is rife in local government and in extreme cases it has led to the dismissal of the entire council, such as Wangaratta and more recently, Geelong.

Bullying is often an indicator of a cultural environment and starts with differences of opinion and disagreements then escalates to conflict, harassment and bullying.

Culture tells people not only what is valued, but also what is/isn’t permitted, it’s ‘what you have to do to get on around here’. Bullying is more prevalent where the culture permits or rewards those behaviours or where a code of silence enables individuals to behave the way they want.

People see tolerance of incivility, bullying or harassment, especially by those in senior leadership roles or other influential positions as a licence to engage in the same kinds of behaviours. Bullying creates an atmosphere of negativity and hostility. It can erode trust, goodwill and destroy harmony and relationships.

Bullying can range from a councillor bullying an officer (downward), councillors bullying each other (sideways) to an officer bullying a councillor (upwards).

There are reports of up to 60 per cent of councillors experiencing varying degrees of repeated, deliberate and intentional bullying behaviour, which can include:

  • Verbal attacks such as insults, teasing or intimidation
  • Physical assault or threats to commit violence
  • Not giving others a fair go or hearing
  • Undermining
  • Abuse or imbalance of power
  • Falsely accusing of mistakes
  • Belittling comments made during meetings
  • Exclusion from meetings.

In 2013, I formed a passionate group of individuals and founded the Bully Zero Australia Foundation because of a perceived lack of education and a huge gap in the space in terms of looking after victims and providing education programs into schools and workplaces.

Bully Zero is the fastest growing charity in Australia and they work most closely with schools, but also handle workplace disputes and provide evidence-based effective education programs to businesses and organisations.

The Foundation also runs a 24-hour 1800 0 BULLY hotline service, which fields about 60 calls a week from employees that are concerned about bullying at work. The hotline has now saved 73 lives in less than 23 months. All this with zero Federal Government funding dollars; the foundation received $800 from the Victorian Government in 2015.

There has been an increase in the number of calls from councillors and officers and many of the calls are from distressed individuals who don’t know how to handle the situation.

Workplace bullying commonly occurs at senior management level when the line of performance management is crossed, to become a more serious form of intimidation and bullying behaviour.

Some councillors are accidental bullies and are known to be emotionally blunt, aggressive and demanding while some are narcissistic bullies, they are grandiose and tend to become energised when things don’t go their way, and they are destructive and manipulative.

The most serious bullies are serial, as they target a number of councillors in succession and are intentional. Serial bullies are systematic, organised, charming, authoritative, aggressive, dominating, fearless, shameless, deceptive, impulsive, chaotic, stimulus seeking and are excellent at imitation and mimicry.

I have personally witnessed councillors behaving inappropriately and it’s likely that these councillors also behave the same when they leave the council chamber. After all, if an individual is respectful face-to-face, you would think they behave the same in other environments such as online, but clearly not.

The Local Government Act specifically details the expected behaviour of councillors, however, many report the act to be non-effective as councillors have to tolerate bad behaviour as they need the support and vote of that councillor. Far too often I see allies and peers that condone the behaviour and these individuals often don’t pull the bully in line as they need their support, it’s all about the numbers.

Those councillors that behave poorly and assume once they leave the chamber all is forgotten are kidding themselves. Some do take things personally and to heart!

In fact some councillors and staff don’t sleep well, and too often I see councillors take their bat and ball home and no longer engage with normal council activities, meetings or events.

We all have our own coping mechanisms, some of us don’t see eye to eye because, it’s our interpretation, perception and assumptions that make up our response to an issue. Messages are filtered through a diverse range of social, cultural and personal factors and some councillors lack emotional intelligence, empathy and a genuine understanding of the impact of their behaviour.

What is bullying?

Bullying is a pattern of behaviour and it’s evident when the individual or group uses its power and strength to repeatedly, deliberately and intentionally use words or actions against another or a group that hurts, harasses, humiliates, ridicules and threatens verbally, physically, psychologically or electronically, making the victim feel oppressed, traumatised and powerless. There is often a void and lack of understanding by councillors and officers between the difference of workplace bullying, performance management and conflict management.

Victorian council ambassadors:

  • Hobsons Bay Cr Carl Marsich
  • Banyule Mayor Craig Langdon
  • Manningham Cr Jim Grivokostopoulos
  • Bass Coast Cr Kimberley Brown
  • Manningham Cr Michelle Kleinert
  • Whittlesea Cr Ricky Kirkham
  • Frankston Cr Sandra Mayer
  • Banyule Cr Steven Briffa.

For more information call the 24 Hour Hotline 1800 0 BULLY (1800 028 559) or visit www.bzaf.org.au

The Stats

  • Bullying costs the Australian economy up to $36 billion a year.
    (Source: Productivity Commission Workplace)
  • One in eight workers are bullied and some sectors and industries report one in three.
    (Source: Worksafe Australia)
  • 63 per cent of workers bullied continue to experience the impact up to six years later.
  • Up to 80 per cent of workers bullied will take time off work.
  • 55 per cent will quit their jobs due to bullying.
  • 50 per cent of workers are known to be bystanders.
  • 22 per cent of bullying victims resign rather than report bullying.
  • Almost 7 per cent of workers will directly experience bullying.
  • One in seven serious bullies are likely to have a criminal record by age 30.
  • 2.5 million Australians were harassed at work in 2015.
  • 3,000 Australians lost their lives as a result of work-related incidents between 2003-2014.
  • In 2015, 193 Australian workers were killed and 94 per cent were men.

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Sector Connector: Geographies of alliance

By Verne Ivars Krastins, BSc (Hons), Fellow LGPro.

I took a road trip to South Australia recently to visit friends and family.

The journey began in south east Melbourne and took me through seven or so metro municipalities before joining the Western Highway and the shires ahead.

As I took in the countryside, a parade of signs passed by in their diversity of colours, styles and shapes. The most frequent streamed a commentary on directions, distances, speed limits and the hazards ahead, while others marked waysides and places of interest. Now and again, a sign reminded me not to litter.

Road signs have many reasons for being, though their singular purpose is to inform.

Most aim to help the journey along and some appeal for good behaviours, such as those litter signs and others warning of the consequences of poor driving habits.

There’s a class of road signs which exist for a different reason. These signify a boundary – a leaving of somewhere and the entering of somewhere else. In regional Victoria, the majority bear logos and taglines, welcoming travellers to a municipality or bidding them farewell, with thanks for visiting.

This got me wondering what other boundaries there are without the advice of a sign post.

For instance, before reaching the SA border, my journey took me through at least six Aboriginal nations, two Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Groups, four water catchment areas, three Department of Justice districts, five Tourism Victoria campaign regions, two Regional Sport Victoria areas, and one of the 10 AFL* regional academy zones, this one overseen by Richmond Football Club.

Name a responsibility, interest, a fact of history or an accident of nature, and the state has been carved up into geographical chunks.

The professional interest here is that the chunks form a landscape of alliances and administrative structures. Some of these are groups of local governments, such as the seven regions which many state government departments organise themselves by (though not all).

Organisations with whole-of-state interests divvy up the expanse, and if you created a map of them all, from government constructs to caravan clubs, it would be quite a sight.

None of this is apparent when on the road, but the journey undoubtedly took me through regions of overlaid but separate interests. I wondered if they knew about each other.

On leaving Victoria, an idea came to me. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mobile app that stitched these disparate alliances together? An ‘AI voice’ announcing whose region I just entered and whose others’ overlap it.

Anyone interested in forging better partnerships for regional progress may find this just the tool to make sense of the administrative landscape, and maybe discover a few dots yet to be joined.

* AFL: Australian Football League.

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Cow gives boost to Sunshine

Brimbank City Council has commissioned internationally recognised artist John Kelly to produce a six-metre high bronze sculpture called ‘Man lifting cow’ for his home town of Sunshine.

Kelly’s famous cow sculptures have been exhibited in Paris, Monte Carlo, and Melbourne Docklands. The project was made possible through significant financial and in-kind support from the project’s 10 partners from corporate, philanthropic, arts, business and government sectors.

Brimbank Chair of Administrators John Watson said, “John Kelly is a role-model for not only what he has achieved in the arts but also for his generosity in giving back to the community where he grew up, Sunshine.

“Great art [like Man lifting cow] has the power to encourage further access to the arts, contribute to economic development, boost social capital, enrich communities and revitalise civic pride in the heart of Melbourne’s growing west.”

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Doing it for the girls

A municipality-wide campaign to fast track the upgrade of all sportsgrounds in Bayside is underway to improve female participation in sport.

At the start of the campaign late last year, Bayside City Council’s sportsgrounds and courts were not only over-crowded and run-down, but there was just one female change room amongst the 27 pavilions.

Armed with the knowledge that a lack of appropriate facilities is a barrier to girls and women participating in sport, Bayside embarked on a campaign that involved the local newspaper and community.

Together, the aim is to attract funding that will reduce council’s capital works program to upgrade its 27 sportsgrounds from 15 years to, at most, 10 years.

Council’s campaign spokesperson Cr Felicity Frederico said the campaign was implemented to make sure another generation of girls don’t miss out on being involved in the sports they love.

“All levels of government need to increase investment to accelerate the upgrade of sporting facilities to create a level playing field for women and girls,” Cr Frederico said.

With the Victorian Government introduction of rate capping and a funding freeze on Federal Government financial assistance grants for councils, the anticipated 15-year timeline could blow out even further.

“We need financial assistance to deliver our program of upgrades quicker than we can on our own, in particular from the Commonwealth, which has a commitment to improve participation in sport for women,” Cr Frederico said.

Girls and women playing sports such as netball, football, cricket and soccer continues to grow in Bayside, but with major improvements needed, some games are being cut short, forced byes occur every week and opposing teams often share change rooms.

“We are calling on the Federal and Victorian governments to acknowledge the importance of sport for girls,” Cr Frederico said.

“All levels of government need to increase investment to accelerate the upgrade of sporting facilities.

“Inaction by governments simply means another generation will miss out or continue to accept second best.

“It is not appropriate for women and girls to have to use male toilets or to share change room facilities with an opposition team because there is only one set of female change rooms.”

While council is calling on the Federal and State governments for financial assistance, it is also putting its own funds behind the accelerated goal by allocating a record $14 million in the 2016/17 Council Budget towards sportsground upgrades.

Bayside encourages other councils to collect data that will help determine the length of time and money it will take to upgrade all facilities for girls and women playing sport, and join the campaign to advocate for Federal and State government funding.

Court Short

Bayside has just seven netball courts for more than 2,000 members playing in nearly 200 teams in one netball association.

The shortage of courts means nearly 200 players have a bye each week and many other games are timed shorter to ensure everyone can play.

“Bayside needs more netball courts not only to maintain the numbers we currently have, but to ensure the game continues to grow and that women and girls are inspired to continue in sport,” Cr Felicity Frederico said.

“It is also not good enough that girls are playing in cramped environments; it’s time we level the playing field and ensure that our women and girls are giving the best sporting chance.”

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Shopping becomes art

Darebin City Council’s innovative Active Spaces program continues to drive retail development and diversification.

Now entering its fourth year, the program is activating shopping strips across Darebin by linking creative entrepreneurs with affordable, short-term commercial leases.

So far, Active Spaces has found a first home for 26 pop-up creative businesses, creating more than 100 jobs and bringing in more than $300,000 in rent. In addition, it has facilitated more than 40 art installations showcasing the works of 56-plus local artists.

The program assists creatives in navigating the next steps of their business practise by supporting them to move into a commercial premise.

Support is given throughout the start-up stage, finding a property and negotiating terms, assistance through the permit process, business basics and new business support.

Mayor of Darebin Cr Vince Fontana said the program benefits council and the community by strengthening connections and partnerships with property owners, developers and real estate agents.

“Active Spaces has reactivated and reinvigorated vacant shops and strips across the municipality,” Cr Fontana said.

“There is also an opportunity to earn rent, showcase commercial properties to potential tenants and have a connection with council’s economic development team.”

Vacant shops can create a negative perception and are disheartening to the community, shoppers and business owners.

“Pop-up shops placed by council within the vacant tenancies reveal retail spaces that are active, vibrant places as they were intended to be – it helps give potential tenants a true indication of what is possible within the spaces,” Cr Fontana said.

Darebin’s Active Spaces has received national recognition from peak industry bodies, with one measure of the program being the 50 per cent of participants who have gone on to sign long-term leases.

“The feedback from the community, local businesses and participants has been positive since the inception of this project,” Mr Fontana said.

“Surrounding businesses have acknowledged the pop-up shops have brought new customers to the area and have contributed positively to the local community.

“We’d love to see and assist this initiative to be undertaken by other councils.”

Learn more about Active Spaces at www.darebin.vic.gov.au/activespaces or visit the Active Spaces in Darebin Facebook page or by emailing activespaces@darebin.vic.gov.au .

Spotlight

Kyle Morris, owner of Mister Morris Studios, wanted to provide a co-working space with a unique aesthetic, giving artists and makers a place to create and showcase their wares.

Mr Morris said the support offered through Active Spaces was one of the keys to getting his business off the ground.

“The program provided invaluable advice and support and helped me navigate through council processes and regulations,” he said.

“Active Spaces has fostered the individual and community connections necessary to support the long-term viability of my business.

“Once Mister Morris Studios was launched the promotional opportunities provided raised the profile and awareness of the business.

“I experienced a steep learning curve setting up this business, from balancing the financials to finding the work-life balance.”

“The support of Active Spaces and the creative business community guided me through the process and now I am proud of what the business has and will become.”

Darebin’s active space program has:

  • Established an ongoing partnership between council, landlords and real estate agents
  • Created 100+ jobs
  • Facilitated 40+ art installations representing 56+ artists
  • Reduced graffiti and vandalism
  • Generated more than $300,000 in rental payments
  • Supported 26 creative businesses
  • Received 1,000 enquiries from businesses and participants.

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10 tips on how to prepare for a new era of interviews in the public sector

By Clare McCartin, General Manager Executive & Boards, Davidson Executive Victoria.

Clare McCartin is is the Victorian General Manager of Davidson Executive and works closely with some of the state’s top CEOs and senior managers in local government.

Securing an executive level interview can be a nerve-wracking prospect, especially as the public sector is rapidly adopting more and more modern interview techniques.

The old written key selection criteria is almost a thing of the past within the sector, and thank goodness. It seems illogical that we were asking incredibly time poor executives to find hours to craft essays in order to even submit an application.

Such techniques can include: phone and face-to-face interviews, video or digital interviews, psychometric assessments for the ’long shortlist,’ panel interviews, reference checking and potentially the informal ‘fireside chats,’ which can include anything from coffee outside of a formal interview room to dinner at a restaurant.

Here are some tips to excelling in each of these stages:

1. Preparing your CV

Presentation of CVs still vary in quality and often miss key details. The first step is ensuring your CV accurately portrays your previous and current experiences and successes.

Look and feel is just as important as content.

Below are some key tips for updating your CV:

  • While the look and feel is important, content and structure is key
  • Back up your claims – list your key responsibilities and key achievements and wherever possible put metrics around them
  • Don’t make it too long
  • Remember, your CV will act as a roadmap for your interview.

2. Your digital presence

Before your interview, be prepared that the hiring team will have researched you online. Ensure your LinkedIn page is up-to-date and portrays your skill-sets in the best way. Also make sure you have recommendations from key contacts and stakeholders who can vouch for your work. Another step is to author key articles for online publications and industry groups about your key areas of expertise. Make sure you publish these articles on your publish (blog) function in LinkedIn.

Have you Googled yourself? And if so, is what comes up a great representation of your work and career aspirations?

3. The phone/screen interview

I’ve heard of a client not proceeding with a senior candidate due to an incredibly gruff and unwelcoming voicemail recording. Once they reach you, they may initially be wanting to ensure there is a high level of alignment in terms of career ambition and some of the hygiene factors that determine if someone accepts and sticks to a job. Questions may include: Why are you looking to move? What are the push factors and/or pull factors? Your remuneration expectations? How much travel the role will require of you and can you sustainably manage the commute?

There may also be one to two behavioural interview questions over the phone to ensure you have the core experience the client requires prior to inviting you in for interview.

4. The face-to-face interview

The face-to-face interview will be a more elaborate version of the phone screen with a greater focus on behavioural questions. To ensure you are best prepared, request a copy of the position description or their ‘success profile’ before the interview. This will assist you to look at each KPI and turn each of these into a behavioural interview question by remembering the simple acronym, PAE = Provide An Example.

5. The video or digital interview


This stage is commonly replacing the key selection criteria stage. For time-poor candidates and hiring managers, video or digital interviews can be a lifeline. Find yourself a quiet space with a non-cluttered background and elevate your laptop so your camera is at eye level rather than giving an unflattering under chin view. You will be asked to respond to a few questions, which you will hopefully be given prior to the interview. Remember you may have a time limit between two to three minutes per question, so practice what you feel is critical to get across before you start.

Again remember first impressions count, just because this is a digital interview doesn’t mean you can’t be human.

6. Psychometric testing

The public sector, at all levels, is starting to use assessments to make recruitment processes more objective, reliable and fair. Top tips for completing psychometric assessments include:

  • Prepare for the assessment like you would an interview with rest, practice and preparation
  • If given the choice, try to complete the assessment early in the day when you are mentally fresh
  • Prepare for the assessment by getting a good night’s rest, eating a healthy yet light meal prior and doing some light exercise to get your brain ready to deliver
  • Prepare by completing assessments online beforehand to familiarise yourself with the type of tests you will complete.

7. Acing a panel interview

Do your homework on each of the panel members and if possible remember their names ready for the interview.

One of the best panel interviewees I’ve seen was the CEO of a council, she had the job within minutes of entering the boardroom. Not only was she incredibly competent, but she had researched all eight panel members beforehand and then addressed each of them by name with a warm and solid hand shake. The body language by each of the panel members was clear she had the job by the time she’d answered the first question.

8. Reference checks

Provide your referee with four key points about the role and perhaps a reminder about the things you have emphasised through the recruitment process. Good reference checks these days require the referee to address behavioural questions too, so make it easy for the referee to recall where you demonstrated the relevant competencies by sending them a few dot points regarding your achievements as a reminder.

9. Coffee/dinner or the ‘fireside chat’

If you’re invited back, you’re clearly in a strong position.

Remember, whether it’s drinks or lunch, you’re being assessed. It’s about moderating certain behaviours and taking advantage of the opportunity to speak to people.

10. How to prepare for an interview when you’re out of practice?

And finally, if the thought of digital interviews, psychometric tests, or being interviewed by more than a few people at once leaves you worried, worry more about the basics that can get you screened out quickly and less about the processes.

Consider in advance what questions might come up and prepare for them. And if you think about what interviewers remember, it’s not only facts, details and evidence, but the stories you tell.

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Casey creates a 'magical' workplace

Casey City Council is changing the way it works in the lead up to next year’s move to its new home at Bunjil Place, where, for the first time in many years, most of the staff will be located under one roof.

A pilot site at council’s Works Centre has been established for council teams to try out flexible working practices that will be implemented at Bunjil Place.

About 21 projects that are changing the way council works are underway, seeking increased efficiency, cost-effective space utilisation, improved collaboration and innovation, and a renewed customer focus.

Project Sponsor Sally Curtain said next year’s move to Bunjil Place would not be a case of packing up the desk and moving boxes across the road.

“We have been planning for our relocation to Bunjil Place for three years,” she said.

“A flexible working model will be adopted, so to prepare staff for what’s to come a pilot has been established that changes the workspace and the way staff actually work.”

To create its workplace and space for the future, Casey included staff in its vision to determine what is important.

Part of that process was an observation exercise to see how staff used their desks.

“We had staff volunteers that we observed and recorded under three categories – ‘no one there’, ‘sign of life’ and ‘sitting at desk’,” Ms Curtain said.

“Through that we came up with a flexible working model where we realised that only eight desks were required for every 10 people and managers didn’t need an office.”

Changes to staff working environment can be confronting for some, like replacing individuals’ desks with a collaborative work area, so Casey took the recommendation that a pilot would help council officers share the vision it had for the future.

Council retrofitted its existing Works Centre as the pilot site to replicate a smaller version of Bunjil Place.

Ms Curtain described the pilot site, which is home to council’s roads and construction, and parks and gardens teams as ‘magical’.

“This is not an architect-designed space, the staff have created it so they are hugely engaged,” she said.

“It has this great vibe that just gets under your skin.”

Mayor Sam Aziz said the community could also expect to see a range of benefits from the organisation’s shift to flexible working.

“Flexible working positions our council as an agile organisation that can more effectively respond to changing community expectations and allows us to maintain a strong focus on delivering the services and infrastructure our community wants,” Cr Aziz said.

“With a range of projects underway to improve the organisation’s operations, including a Customer Focus Strategy, Community Engagement Strategy and Digital Strategy, flexible working delivers increased productivity and knowledge-sharing leading to the continuous improvement of service and facility delivery.

“In addition, increased mobility and access to information allows real-time customer engagement and delivers a customer service focus; streamlined business processes and greater collaboration results in more effective problem solving; and enhanced project management and cross-department delivery of projects ensures greater efficiencies and value for money.”

According to CEO Mike Tyler, flexible working allows council to better align its work processes with customer needs.

“The flexible approach being tested at the pilot site provides a range of workspaces, including meeting rooms, training rooms and breakout spaces, and they are provided at almost three times the amount seen in traditional offices. This allows staff to choose the most appropriate workspace to increase their productivity,” Mr Tyler said.

“Improved technology such as smart mobile devices, headsets and a web-based phone system provide increased opportunities for staff to work more efficiently and collaborate across office locations.”

Many financial and sustainability benefits are already being realised at the pilot site, including a decrease in the costs associated with traditional offices due to a 41 per cent reduction in storage and a 24 per cent decrease in desk space. A decrease in paper and stationery use is also expected to deliver year-on-year savings.

Feedback from staff will help shape the Bunjil Place work environment. The early adoption of flexible working will also ensure that when Bunjil Place opens in 2017, staff will be ready to hit the ground running.

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Technology makes Whittlesea a great place to live

Whittlesea City Council has discovered the benefits of embracing technology early in new housing developments, which is changing the face of the municipality.

Embracing technology creates the so-called ‘first mover’ advantage which enables councils to market their community and attract the early adopters or those that are already using the technology for competitive advantage.

Whittlesea is a growth area that is adding over 8,000 new residents to the municipality each year mainly due to greenfield development or converting rural land into urban land and creating new suburbs.

Mayor Stevan Kozmevski said council had noticed the impact of this ‘first mover’ advantage with the types of people buying into the municipality.

“The municipality has traditionally been a blue collar workforce, with manufacturing being the key sector of employment,” he said.

“Council has been tracking the changes to demographics using an annual census-style survey.”

Cr Kozmesvki said analysing the survey data showed that in 1997 the percentage of the local workforce classified as being professional was seven per cent. This slowly grew to about 15 per cent and plateaued at that level until 2012 when it shot up to 25 per cent and has retained that level since.

“We believe the growth has been fuelled by two main drivers – clever design for new housing estates creating a village feel and broadband connectivity,” he said.

The greenfield development in Whittlesea used great land planning to build new communities with a village feel using town centres and interconnected community spaces linked by parks and trails.

“This has been a constant driver that has attracted a constant influx of new families looking for an attractive place to raise their children,” Cr Kozmevski said.

“The second driver is the broadband connectivity which has been secured through a series of council facilitated programs conducted over the past 16 years. These programs have attracted over $100 million investment in high speed fixed line broadband since 2006.”

The municipality currently has about 30,000 active premises with optical fibre infrastructure providing 100 Megabit/sec. This covers half the municipality and is well above most municipalities in Australia.

Council’s first fibre to the premise (FTTP) housing development was launched in 2006 but Whittlesea attracted the federally funded National Broadband Network (NBN) program in 2010. This resulted in a large rollout of FTTP in 2012.

The increase of professionals coincides closely with the rollout of optical fibre networks.

Council’s Services Planning and Improvement Manager Brad Wynter said the demographic changes included a significant number of IT professionals and many home-based businesses who made the move to Whittlesea to take advantage of the low cost high speed broadband.

One example was a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) provider who moved from a different part of Melbourne to Whittlesea to reduce his broadband service costs from $12,000 per month for a 10 Megabit/sec symmetrical digital subscriber line (DSL) service to $400 per month for four by 100 Megabit/sec fibre services provided by one of the NBN internet service providers.

The prime reason people have moved to Whittlesea has been the reduced cost to run business and have high speed access at home in combination with the area being a great place to raise their family.

Having the first mover advantage has been a great way to attract talented people into the community and create more diversity into the demographics. In the future it is expected that it will reflect in the sorts of businesses that will emerge in the community and greater diversity of opportunities available to residents.

While the first mover advantage is a useful driver of change, eventually other communities will catch up and get similar levels of technology capability. Then the question becomes: what will be the competitive advantage that our community has to attract and retain talent if other areas have similar technology?

Mr Wynter believes the answer will strongly feature place. Using the power inherent in a highly connected world allows many of the benefits of cities to be accessed from wherever people choose to be when the high speed broadband is in place and being used. This means that if you can fully participate in economic and social life from wherever you live, you will likely pick the place which best meets your broader needs.

“Some people will choose to stay near their extended family and be able to maintain friendships from their childhood networks throughout life without compromising economic, educational and health opportunities,” he said.

“For others it provides the opportunity to find a place to reside where they want to live such as a scenic spot near the beach or in the mountains. The key differentiation will more likely be locations that are attractive and more about liveability. This is the power of place.”

Those places that are the ‘most liveable’, while still retaining access to opportunities that traditionally the city provides, will attract the best people and potentially become the hubs of vibrant activity. It may even lead to the decline of cities as the more toxic by-products of high density such as congestion, poor air quality and lack of tranquillity become drivers to shift people out of the city to other more liveable places.

Cr Kozmevski said developing a community into a smart city should not preclude working on creating attractive and liveable places for the community.

“Looking at the impact of increased connectivity and its broader impact on local communities can help add sustainability to your strategic planning,” he said.

“With increased connectivity comes dynamic changes to the way society operates.

“At the City of Whittlesea, our focus is on creating sustainable communities together with our residents. Council is constantly looking ahead to foresee the changes that technology is bringing not only to our economic space but to the core of our society.”

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Do you have 2020 vision?

The 2016 MAV Technology Conference, themed ‘2020 Vision’, has been developed especially for local government members.

This inspiring, educational and entertaining two-day conference, trade expo and networking event is designed to help councils be innovative, sustainable and relevant towards 2020.

Presentations will include stories of digital transformation at all levels of government.

Find out who is making progress in achieving a single customer view and discuss the changing role of IT professionals in local government.

Hear more about open data achievements and the latest from the Local Government Digital Transformation Task Force.

Chaired by former Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, this year’s conference includes presentations from expert local government professionals and guest speakers including:

  • Catherine Bracy - former Director of Code for America and the Tech4Obama campaign
  • Simon Waller - author, trainer, mentor
  • Paul Shetler - CEO of the Digital Transformation Office
  • Rachna Gandhi - CEO of Service NSW
  • Leisa Reichelt - Head of Service Design at the DTO
  • Dr Catherine Ball - Telstra Business Woman of the Year
  • Radi Kovacevic Head of GOV.AU
  • Professor Ian Lowe AO - futurist and environmental scientist.

This year our extensive trade expo will include a demonstration stage for sponsors, and provide plenty of time to network with local government colleagues while visiting the exhibitors.

The MAV Technology Awards for Excellence Dinner will be held on the evening of day one, Wednesday 10 August.

A free half-day workshop will be held on Friday 12 August following the conference.

For further information on the Local Government Digital Transformation Task Force and the 2020 Vision – MAV Technology National Conference 2016 please contact MAV Technology on the details below.

P: (03) 9667 5509
A: L12, 60 Collins Street, Melbourne, 3000
E: lbennetto@mav.asn.au
W: www.mav.technology

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New task force brings vision to tech conference

The progress and priorities of the Local Government Digital Transformation Task Force will be a key presentation at the 2020 Vision - MAV Technology National Conference on 10-12 August.

The task force was established earlier this year after the MAV Board endorsed digital transformation of local government as a key priority.

The task force will consider a strategic direction for the sector and oversee activities in the short to medium term.

Digital transformation of council business services has the capacity to improve efficiency and productivity within councils; provide funding and partnership opportunities; streamline interoperability with other levels of government; and improve citizen engagement and access to services in local communities.

The task force members believe that there is a significant near-term opportunity for local government to be digitally transformed and that there are clear benefits in the sector working with all levels of government and interested parties to achieve this.

Council CEOs also expressed the great urgency to develop a sector-wide digital transformation roadmap and deliverables this year that will:

  • address the ‘financial sustainability’ challenges arising from rate capping
  • eEnable individual councils to make the right long-term vendor procurement decisions
  • provide coherent and consistent digital plans for new councillors to adopt when they take office in November 2016.

The task force has committed to achieving ‘simpler, faster, valued and engaging community interactions with local government through digital transformation’, which will be achieved through targeted activity in three focus areas – developing capability, culture and conversation; common, accessible view of the customer; and collaboration and inter-connectivity.

A draft workplan for this year includes activities such as:

  • Collecting the fact base required to identify high volume or high cost transactions that could benefit from a digital transformation approach
  • Developing a digital toolkit of frameworks and tools for the sector
  • Holding a roadshow to accelerate awareness of the need to act
  • Investigating local government platforms and identifying where work completed at other levels of government can be used by Victorian councils
  • Consolidating digital research across local government and other levels of government
  • Identifying ways local government can work with federal and state government
  • Exploring funding opportunities from other levels of government.

The success of the Local Government Digital Transformation Task Force will require the engagement of the whole sector and the task force members will champion this engagement as the roadmap and deliverables are developed in 2016.

Task force members:

  • CEO MAV Rob Spence
  • CEO Yarra Ranges Shire Council Glenn Patterson
  • CEO Baw Baw Shire Council Helen Anstis
  • CEO Surf Coast Shire Council Keith Baillie
  • CEO Brimbank City Council Paul Younis
  • General Manager Corporate Services Whitehorse City Council Peter Smith
  • Director Infrastructure Services Casey City Council Sally Curtain
  • CEO Yarra City Council Vijaya Vaidyanath
  • Senior Manager Government Recordkeeping Public Records Office Victoria Alison McNulty
  • Co-founder & Managing Director Code for Australia Alvaro Maz
  • Director - Digital Engagement Department of Premier and Cabinet Victoria Jithma Beneragama
  • Head of Strategy Australian Digital Transformation Office Dan Searle
  • Director Global Foresight Network Michael McAllum
  • Director Elemental Strategy Dr Catherine Ball.

Supported by:

  • MAV John Hennessy
  • MAV Technology Executive Lisa Bennetto
  • MAV Cameron Spence.

Direction on a page
Local government business transformation enabled by digital

Short-term objective

  • Simpler, faster, valued and engaging community interactions with local government through digital transformation.

Focus areas

  • Developing capability, culture and conversation
  • Common, accessible view of the customer
  • Collaboration and inter-connectivity.

Enabled by

  • Shared standards (including common local government metadata)
  • Removal of legislative barriers
  • Infrastructure access.

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Technology disruption: How to lead by example

By Larry Quick and David Platt from Resilient Futures.
Co-authors of Disrupted - Strategy for Exponential Change.

Disruption brought on by the hyper-speed development and adoption of new technology is not a passing phase.

Communities, local business and the councils that serve them will be heavily impacted – either positively, or negatively – by the new norm.

In this environment, council’s role in leading its resident and business communities in innovating and leveraging new technology is now more important than ever. Strong local economies and societies rely on it.

While the role of council in delivering baseline community services is important, their ability to act as a dynamic, grass-roots catalyst leading local understanding and application of technology is both critical and urgent.

This all starts through the use of technology that is fit-for-purpose for the council. It also means understanding the needs of local communities and commerce and ensuring that councils’ practices showcase the best strategic use of technology – digital and physical.

In doing so, councils need to access the capability to develop technology strategies that are fit for organisational purpose and integrate with and mobilise citizens and commerce to drive local social and economic growth.

Being disruption ready and leveraging disruption is not a choice – it is imperative. Much like it is for councils to be a driving force propelling their communities forward on this journey.

The alternative is not pretty. Councils and communities that don’t act will more than likely see the unfolding of Managed Adaptive Decline (MAD). MAD occurs when an organisation or community continually adapts to ever-declining conditions in what appears to be a well-managed manner.

As organisations continue to experience an ever-increasing decline in the capability to match disruptive change, the insidious condition of MAD grows and strengthens – eventually suffocating all efforts to survive.

Think of the ‘frog in boiling water’ analogy. The frog starts out in a stable state and as the water temperature increases, it adapts until it can adapt no longer and boils.

Think of the communities already impacted by MAD and think about the ones that are in the early stages of ‘the boil’.

Then, ask yourself – ‘is my council tech savvy and ready to leverage disruption?’

Find out if your council is ready to leverage technology disruptions by answering these questions:

Are your key leaders (management team and councillors) really ‘tech-savvy’?

  • Do they understand the disruptive impact of new technology?
  • Are they across the disruption that will be created by digital technologies like virtual reality, blockchain and data analytics?
  • Likewise, are they up-to-speed with the potential impact of physical technologies like the Internet of Things, drones, 3D printers and driverless cars?
  • Are they thinking about consequential disruption on business models like the emergence of ‘peer to peer’ as illustrated by the likes of Uber and AirBNB?

Is your management team aligned on the disruptors (technology and others) that council is or will be facing?

  • Do they understand that tech disruption is a key driver but only one facet of disruption?
  • Can they anticipate how technology will impact the social, commercial and environmental needs of the community?
  • Are they anticipating what businesses and jobs will be lost and gained?
  • Have they tackled the question of how disruption will impact the type, quality and cost of council service delivery?

Does robust strategy inform technology adoption?

  1. Does your Council Plan and other plans and strategies address and leverage disruptive change – technological and other?
  2. Is technology well used as a strategic enabler?
  3. Is your strategic thinking about what comes first, the needs of the community and local businesses … or council?
  4. Is your technology strategy a ‘set and forget’ strategy or is it constantly re-tuned to rapid, disruptive change?

Does your council have the capability to understand, identify and develop strategy that leverages disruption?

  1. Is strategic leadership a priority in your council?
  2. Is strategic leadership only a top-down focus, or a whole-of-organisation capability?
  3. Does strategic leadership provide agility for your council to move in sync with disruption?
  4. Does your strategic capability focus on generating sustainable value, irrespective of disruptive impacts, for your community, local business and council?

Your answers to these questions will determine your council’s ability to lead by example. If the majority of your responses are positive, then you are an example of leadership for your community. If not, addressing the issues raised in your responses may be the most important priority you have in leading your community in leveraging disruption.

Website: www.resilientfutures.com
Email: inquiry@resilientfutures.com
Twitter: @ResilientF
LinkedIn: http://resilientfutures.com/linkedin
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/resilientfutures

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On board the celebration train

Six Victorian councils have much to celebrate following the State Government’s announcement of more than half a billion dollars towards the duplication of the Ballarat Rail Line and extra trains, which will provide commuters with a more reliable and less congested rail service.

After years of advocating independently for rail funding, Ballarat, Brimbank and Melton city councils, along with Ararat, Moorabool and Pyrenees shire councils, joined forces late last year with a clear focus – the duplication and electrification of the Ballarat Rail Line and associated improvements to train services.

The councils formed a number of groups to advocate for funding. The councils’ mayors make up the Ballarat Rail Action Committee (BRAC), the CEOs meet monthly as part of the BRAC Working Group and a BRAC Reference Group includes interest and stakeholder groups that disseminate information about the campaign.

The duplication, along with electrification of the rail line, has been a key priority for all councils to lift the service to a metropolitan grade standard.

The BRAC Working Group met in May and received a briefing from Rail Futures on the State Budget announcement of $518 million and further work required along the line.

The funding from this year’s budget will include a 17km stretch of duplicated rail line between Deer Park and Melton, along with the addition of several passing loops along this corridor. Another 3kms of track will be duplicated west of Warrenheip and three more crossing loops will be built at Bacchus Marsh, Ballan and Bungaree to allow trains to pass one another.

An additional two services will be included in the morning and afternoon peak with a train every 40 minutes in off-peak times.

Brimbank has been advocating for duplication and electrification of the rail line for a long time.

“This is a key transport priority for Brimbank, and will enable the future electrification of the rail line to Melton, which Brimbank would like to see occur as soon as possible to provide the community with a metropolitan level of service,” Chair of Brimbank Administrators John Watson said.

Brimbank identified the rail project in its 2015 Transport Priorities document as a high priority for accelerated completion in view of the significant residential growth in the area and the need to provide modern train services to existing metropolitan areas.

“It is important that this project sees the removal of at-grade crossings at Mt Derrimut Road and Fitzgerald Road and the upgrade of the Deer Park and Ardeer train stations to a metropolitan standard,” Mr Watson said.

“It is an embarrassment to have a country standard railway station at Deer Park and Ardeer, which are major metropolitan areas of the City of Brimbank.”

The duplication and the additional train services will help to serve the existing metropolitan areas of Ardeer, Sunshine West, Derrimut and Deer Park and provide services to the significant residential growth occurring in the west of the municipality with improved transport options.

“We look forward to working with the State Government to deliver the best outcome possible with this project, including addressing traffic issues associated with the existing at-grade crossings, the standard of the train stations and pedestrian access across the railway line,” Mr Watson said.

For Melton City Council, which was the driving force behind establishing BRAC, the funding will also include upgrade stations at Bacchus Marsh, Ballan and Rockbank and undertake track improvements to increase reliability and allow more peak services.

“These improvements will allow a 20-minute peak service regularity, provide the capacity for three additional stops as well as infrastructure to ultimately electrify the line to allow 10-minute peak service regularity, return trips to encourage economic development and employment outcomes into the City of Melton,” Mayor Kathy Madjlik said.

Ballarat mayor Des Hudson described the funding as a “fantastic investment in transport infrastructure to service the existing commuter population and the very significant growth of Ballarat.”

“It is a major step forward to assist Ballarat in accommodating its share of Victoria’s accelerated growth,” he said.
While BRAC is pleased with the State Government announcement, it is committed to realising the full benefits that will come from further advocacy work.

The committee will continue to work collaboratively and will develop a position paper in the coming months, which will compile the efforts of all the councils along the line and provide the foundation for future advocacy.

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In brief

Wheelie good initiative

The Northern Grampians Shire Council has been awarded one of just two $20,000 sponsorships from RACV’s Mobility Beyond Driving sponsorship program.

The program aims to support the development of innovative and sustainable transport options for people living in areas where transport choices are lacking.

Cr Karen Hyslop said Northern Grampians Shire Council had been sponsored for its Wheelie Good Routes initiative.

“The program will map safe and accessible routes of travel around Stawell and St Arnaud for residents and visitors who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers to get around,” Cr Hyslop said.

RACV has stepped up its push to improve transport options for regional Victorians and those living in outer Melbourne growth areas, following the launch of its Mobility Beyond Driving Sponsorship Program in late 2015.

Waste recycling pilot program

Stonnington City Council is conducting a pilot project for apartment buildings to recycle food waste on-site.

In partnership with owners corporations Worm Lovers and Food Compost Food, council has helped set up communal worm farms at three South Yarra apartments.

The average Stonnington garbage bin contains 40 per cent food waste. Apartment dwellers find it difficult to compost due to limited space. Keeping this waste out of landfill will prevent it breaking down anaerobically (with oxygen) and releasing greenhouse gases.

The council is developing a series of case studies based on the pilot project results to support owners corporations in Stonnington to encourage sustainable living and implement innovative solutions to recycle organic waste.

Growing Suburbs Fund to help booming outer suburbs

The State Government has launched a new $50 million fund to help Melbourne’s booming outer suburbs build community facilities required to keep up with growing populations.

The Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF), previously known as the Interface Growth Fund, will provide grants to Victoria’s 10 outer suburban councils for projects such as parks, playgrounds and sporting facilities.

The 10 councils eligible for this year’s GSF funding are: Cardinia, Mornington Peninsula, Mitchell, Nillumbik, Yarra Ranges, Casey, Hume, Melton, Wyndham, and Whittlesea.

Applications are now open.

Darts and taekwondo championships to come to Bendigo

Bendigo will host two national sporting events this year when the 37th Australian Darts Championships and the Australian Taekwondo National Championships come to the city.

From 26 July to 6 August the Australian Darts Championships will be held at the All Seasons Hotel.

The Bendigo Stadium will host the Taekwondo Championships from 25-28 August and it is the first time in the history of the sport that the event has been held outside of an Australian capital city.

More than 1,000 people are expected to compete at the event, which will also include national selections for the World Junior Taekwondo Championships and the Oceania Championships.

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Events

JULY

Winter Wonderlights

Date: Now–24 July 2016

Venue: Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street, Ballarat

Description: During the day, take a stroll down Main Street as snowflakes fall at regular intervals over the Victorian-style buildings, the smell of Christmas treats and spices fill the air, traditional carols ring out across the buildings, and a sense of anticipation builds as children await Saint Nicholas’ visit. At night, Main Street will sparkle with an amazing light projection show with 17 of Sovereign Hill’s Victorian-style buildings lit up with large-scale image projections and animations.

Need more? christmasinjuly.sovereignhill.com.au

National Pyjama Day

Date: Friday 22 July 2016

Venue: Federation Square, Russell Street Extension, Federation Square, Melbourne

Description: Thousands of schools, businesses and groups will be encouraged to stay in their PJs to show support for The Pyjama Foundation’s work with Australian children in foster care.

Need more? thepyjamafoundation.com

Murrindindi Beanie Festival

Date: 23–24 July 2016

Venue: 39 Downey Street, St John’s Anglican Church Hall, Alexandra

Description: With the theme ‘At the bottom of the garden’, this year’s festival promises fun and frivolity. Beanies are donated, displayed and available for purchase with hot soup served and a selection of the very best beanies to be auctioned on 23 July at 3pm.

Need more? facebook.com/MurrindindiBeanieFestivalVictoria

Echuca Winter Blues Festival

Date: 29–31 July 2016

Venue: High Street, Echuca

Description: Shake the winter blues at this feature event on the Australian Blues calendar. Choose from more than 40 blues artists, 145 performances, filling 30-plus venues across Echuca Moama. Mostly free, this is an event not to miss.

Need more? winterblues.com.au

AUGUST

Walhalla Vinter Ljusfest

Date: 1–28 August 2016

Venue: Main Road, Walhalla

Description: Walhalla Historic Township will be transformed in the Swedish tradition of celebrating winter. Enjoy light, sound and image shows every day from 6.30-9pm and exhibitions and entertainment throughout the month.

Need more? visitwalhalla.com

Frankston and South Eastern Wine Show

Date: 28 August 2016

Venue: The Barn at The Briars Historic Park, 450 Nepean Highway, Mount Martha

Description: Indulge in the range of wines available and meet the makers who will teach you techniques to make your own. Organised by the Frankston Amateur Winemakers Guild, there will be a competition for homemade wines from fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and (of course) grapes.

Need more? fawg.org.au

SEPTEMBER

Kyneton Daffodil and Arts Festival

Date: 1–11 September 2016

Venue: Mollison Street, Kyneton

Description: Celebrating the start of spring this colourful festival features performing arts, crafts and flower shows. It also incorporates the Antique and Vintage Fair, Wine and Food Festival and the Festival of One Act Plays. Don’t miss the Grand Parade on the last day!

Need more? kynetondaffodilarts.org.au

Tesselar Tulip Festival

Date: 8–10 September 2016

Venue: Tesselar Gardens, 357 Monbulk Road, Silva

Description: Dive into the sea of colour created by hundreds of thousands of tulips on display at this annual festival. There will also be live entertainment, market stalls, rides and more. You can even see Australia’s biggest clog.

Need more? tulipfestival.com.au

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Cultural collections

By Museums Australia (Victoria) Exhibition Services Manager Kitty Owens.

A two-year research project into Victorian local government activities with art, public art, history and civic collections has culminated in a ground-breaking report, published by Museums Australia (Victoria).

All 79 Victorian councils participated in the study with the report, Local Government & Cultural Collections in Victoria, highlighting the important contribution to Victorian cultural life that councils make through the care and display of cultural collections. The report could be useful for council staff for benchmarking their activities and identifying peers to discuss issues with.

Included in the report are findings about council collections and displays, and council support for community collecting groups such as historical societies. The research uncovered the challenges faced by council staff working with cultural collections, and the report recommends actions and resources that would help councils to make the most of the cultural collections that they care for.

Victorian councils maintain a vast range of cultural collections, which are a significant part of the distributed state collection. The report findings show that 82 per cent of Victorian councils manage an art collection, which includes 90 per cent of metropolitan councils and 77 per cent of non-metropolitan councils.

Public art is now a very important part of council activities, with 66 per cent of councils presenting public art, of these, 90 per cent are metropolitan councils and 50 per cent are non-metropolitan. More than half of Victorian councils manage a ‘civic collection’ relating to their own history, and almost half manage a collection relating to the history of the municipality. Council collections range from mayoral robes to nationally or internationally significant artworks and artefacts.

Most council collections are managed by several different departments. Usually, an arts and culture type department manages at least part of the council collection. Other council departments managing collections include library services, tourism and economic development, asset management, outdoor spaces and property, customer service, risk management and executive services.

Councils manage some excellent exhibition facilities, particularly galleries, however the preservation of many collections may be affected by a lack of museum and gallery standard storage and display facilities. Most councils display cultural material in halls and foyers. Council libraries play an important role in displaying cultural collections, with about half of Victorian libraries presenting cultural displays. Council-run galleries and libraries displays significantly outnumber council-run history museums, with many municipalities leaving the care and access to local history collections to community volunteers.

Access to council cultural collections is not even across the state. Metropolitan councils are more likely to have art galleries (71 per cent), than non-metropolitan councils (37.5 per cent), with a similar split for councils displaying contemporary art in any council venue. One-third of councils use a history museum for display; this is more common in the regions with 42 per cent of non-metropolitan councils having a history museum compared to 19 per cent of metropolitan councils. Around 20 councils run a history museum managed by museum professionals employed by council.

Most council staff caring for cultural collections are affected by low staffing capacity, which presents a major challenge for preserving and sharing council collections. Public knowledge of the extent and significance of council-owned collections is being held by cataloguing backlogs, and limited council collection information is available online.

Some research participants mentioned that banding of collection roles does not reflect the expert knowledge required to manage a collection. Impacts of low staffing include one council not having the staffing time to audit a collection affected by bushfires, and another council not having time to assist a local collecting group, who went on to lose their collection.

Inadequate storage is a major issue for council collections, many of whom store collection items in spaces that do not meet museum standards, potentially placing items at risk of damage. Other challenges faced by council collections include access to financial resourcing, both internally through council budget processes, and external funding opportunities. Many councils employ expert collections staff, but this is less common in non-metropolitan areas.

Most local government cultural collection custodians are interested in enhanced learning opportunities, particularly networking opportunities, and learning more about funding for collections projects and systems supporting collection management. Non-metropolitan council collection custodians are particularly interested in collection-related learning opportunities.

Councils play an important role in housing community collections, and advising community collecting groups such as historical societies. Council staffing levels impact on the support provided to community-owned collections, with about six out of the 79 councils providing a dedicated museum professional to support local community collections. Some council staff are concerned about the sustainability of community collecting groups, as older volunteers are not being replaced.

In addition to the report findings, the Local Government & Cultural Collection report makes recommendations, particularly on the importance of improving storage and display infrastructure, increasing investment in collection care and access programs, achieving higher staff levels and collections expertise, and developing more networked council collection practices.

There is a full data set included showing the collections cared for by each council.

To view the complete report, go to: www.mavic.asn.au/news/90#article90

  • 82 per cent of councils manage an art collection
  • 66 per cent of councils present public art
  • 71 per cent of metropolitan councils have an art gallery
  • 37.5 per cent of regional and rural councils have an art gallery.

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Five minutes with … John Watson, Brimbank City Council Administration Chair

When the Brimbank City councillors were dismissed in November 2009, a panel of three administrators was appointed. In 2012, following his retirement as Executive Director of Local Government Victoria, John Watson was appointed as the new chair of the Brimbank administration. His 40 years of experience working in governance roles have been invaluable in continuing the work of putting the broken pieces of Brimbank back together again.

What was most challenging about taking over as administrative chair of Brimbank?

Whilst a great deal had been achieved by the first team of administrators, there remained further significant policy work to complete to address the serious matters identified by the Ombudsman in the report that led to the council being dismissed. That work has been ongoing and has sat alongside the day-to-day decision-making role faced by any council. Perhaps the most challenging are some of the planning decisions. Brimbank is changing. Quiet streets are now having to deal with multi-unit developments that threaten the traditional amenity and raise many emotive issues.

You have worked as CEO for a range of councils including Bulla, Moonee Valley and Hume councils. What keeps attracting you to the local government sector?

My entire career has been in local government and I have been fortunate to work in and see the sector from all perspectives including as CEO, the head of Local Government Victoria where I was able to directly influence local government policy, and now at the council table as an Administrator. You could say local government is in my blood.

As administrator, you play a role on a range of committees, including the Municipal Emergency Management Plan Committee. What is this committee’s agenda at the moment?

At present, the committee is currently focusing on reviewing its assessment of community emergency risks and updating its Municipal Emergency Management Plan (MEMP), which is undertaken in June each year. Brimbank is a city of 200,000 people and it is vital the MEMP is constantly in a state of preparedness to respond in the event of any emergency occurring.

Geelong City Council found itself in a similar situation to Brimbank when the council was dismissed in April. Do you see any similarities between the two dismissals, and what advice could you provide the new administrators there?

The reasons leading to the dismissal of Geelong as documented in the report of the Commission of Enquiry are very different to those that led to the Brimbank dismissal. What is similar is that they both had at their source leadership issues around the council table. In Geelong it manifested in a climate of bullying behaviour. At Brimbank it was a range of other governance failures. At Brimbank we have undertaken a program of community leadership training and now have an alumni of over 400 graduates. It may be that Geelong could consider embarking on a similar program with a module devoted to bullying.

Do you see a need to change local government legislation that could prevent future council dismissals?

Whenever a council is dismissed all councillors have to go regardless of whether all have been the cause of the action being taken. Recently the Local Government Act has been changed to give the Minister some powers to deal with individual councillors. This is a positive step and will hopefully serve to prevent whole council dismissals in the future. However there may unfortunately still be circumstances that arise where the whole council should go and for that reason the power to take that ultimate action should be retained.

With the generous support of sponsors, Brimbank has commissioned artist John Kelly’s quirky sculpture ‘Man lifting cow’ for Hampshire Road, Sunshine. What do you think of the piece, and will it put Brimbank on the international arts map?

Artist John Kelly’s ‘Man lifting cow’ is a bronze sculpture that will stand some six metres tall in Sunshine, and is destined to become a regional icon, drawing national and international attention to Brimbank. It is a symbol of the gutsy, strong, and hard-working character that made Melbourne’s west great. Good public art is important as part of building complete communities and this important piece, along with other recent artwork in Brimbank, marks Sunshine’s re-emergence as one of the great centres of Melbourne.

Brimbank residents will get the opportunity to elect new councillors in October at the statewide council elections, how is council preparing its community to take this next step?

Over the past few years, council has supported community development through community leadership programs, Brimbank Leadership Alumni, community grants, neighbourhood house activities and more. This has helped prepare the community for elections.

Council’s Brimbank Votes 2016 campaign kicked off late last year to inform the Brimbank community about the October 2016 elections. Candidate Sessions have been supported in Brimbank and well attended. The next session will be on 8 August, held by the Municipal Association of Victoria with council support. Up-to-date information on the Brimbank Council elections is made available at www.brimbank.vic.gov.au/COUNCIL

For the last year a constant message to our community has been to make sure people are correctly enrolled and to consider standing for election because above all else Brimbank deserves a good council.