MAV bulletin - Issue 918
Audit of council rating processes
The Auditor General’s Office has released the results of its audit of council rating processes. The audit has concluded that there is scope for councils to improve their rating processes by ensuring their rating strategy is periodically reviewed, that they communicate effectively with their communities about the rating process, and that they respond more comprehensively to submissions from the community on the draft budget. The audit also concludes that the level of support that councils receive from the Department of Planning and Community Development is deficient and could be improved. Key recommendations made by the Auditor General relating to the Department include standardising key rating data, developing an alternative to the MAV Local Government Cost Index, establishing a framework to monitor council compliance with rates processes, and to consider making rating strategies mandatory.
The report appears to correctly identify deficiencies in the level of support provided to councils in developing rating strategies. The MAV has some concerns with the recommendations to standardise rating data given the significant diversity between councils and their different capacities to raise rates, although any measures that are developed should ensure the data are collected based on comparable definitions (such as the inclusion of supplementary rates and municipal and waste charges).
For further information contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.
Liability Mutual reinsurance update
As reported in the media this week, worldwide reinsurers are re-rating their Australian business due to continued natural catastrophes across the country including bushfires and floods. While an article in The Age focuses on property insurance, there is increasing evidence that the disasters will influence liability insurance pricing across the country. This report comes after a recent visit by our team to the London reinsurance market, which expressed continued concerns about increasing claims trends and the risks that Australian insurance business poses. MAV Insurance is currently developing a strategy to attempt to mitigate the effect of any increase in liability insurance for the 2013-14 year.
Victorian emergency management reform
In December the Victorian Government released the Emergency Management Reform White Paper, which detailed proposals for major reform in emergency management across the state, much of which affects councils and their ongoing roles in emergency management.
An MAV members brief outlines the sector’s initial response to the reforms proposed. The White Paper acknowledges much of the work the sector has been undertaking in this area over recent times, and our advocacy has brought forward many proposals consistent with our position.
The MAV has been seeking indications from the Government of a works program and priorities to implement the reform agenda. While little formal response has been provided, at a recent briefing it was made clear that most of the focus of 2013 will be in governance changes, particularly at the state level. Many of the changes that are proposed at the local level will not proceed for some time.
Vital to our continued effectiveness is the requirement that current operational and planning responsibilities are fully maintained until the progressive reform agenda takes place. The release of the White Paper cannot be seen as a signal to stop investing in both time and effort to maintain our obligations under the current emergency management arrangements. This especially applies to councils’ obligation to maintain and operate Municipal Emergency Coordination Centres as required.
The MAV will continue to consult with councils and represent your views in this vital period of change, and we seek your support to maintain our high level of capability in line with current obligations.
Cranlana Colloquium Scholarship
The Cranlana Colloquium Scholarship gives one councillor the opportunity to join a leadership program with 20 other leaders from corporate, not-for-profit and government organisations.
The Cranlana Colloquium is a six-day leadership program run by the Myer Foundation. It challenges leaders from business, government and community to examine their values, ethics and vision, and enables participants to reflect on their leadership style, judgement and decision-making capability.
The program equips leaders with a set of value-based frameworks for making difficult decisions where there may not always be a clear choice between right and wrong; and where tensions exist between social, economic and environmental forces, such as public expectations and business interests.
This program is valued at $5 500 and will be awarded twice each year. The next program will run from 5 May to 10 May. Nominations are open now for the May program and will close on Friday 22 February.
For further information contact Andrew Rowe on 9667 5549.
Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people closer
Australia has moved closer towards constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people with an Act of Recognition being passed by the Australian Parliament on 13 February, the anniversary of the National Apology made by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson.
The Act recognises the unique and special place of ATSI people in Australia and acknowledges in law that they are the first inhabitants of Australia. It commits the Parliament to conducting a referendum proposing constitutional recognition of ATSI people, and that it will undertake further engagement to refine the actual wording of a referendum question and build the support necessary for successful constitutional change.
A sunset date of two years will assist in building momentum and ensure the focus remains on the ultimate goal of a successful referendum. The Act received bipartisan support from all parties and independent members.
LGE Health Plan benefits flow to VicWater members
The savings and benefits of the LGE Health Plan will soon flow to water industry employees following the MAV’s move to extend the Plan to VicWater member organisations.
The MAV’s decision, taken in conjunction with peak water industry body VicWater enables the state’s water businesses to join the 65 Victorian councils that currently offer the corporate health insurance arrangement to managers and employees as an optional workplace benefit.
The Plan offers employees the opportunity to join a health cover with a hospital excess and save with significantly lower premiums. Then, if the employee or an eligible family member is hospitalised and pays the excess, the LGE Health Plan will reimburse the excess to them, tax free. Reimbursements are capped at up to $250 per hospital admission during the first year of membership and up to $500 per hospital admission thereafter.
Enquiries about the LGE Health Plan can be directed to Peter Scullin or Ian McKenzie at Health Link Consultants on 03 9670 5555 or toll free on 1800 808 026.
On Friday 22 March the first Local Government Information and Communication Technology (LGICT) Forum for 2013 will be held.
The forum, free to LGICT member councils, will give participants a chance to engage in discussions and presentations around IT strategy development, business intelligence, new telecommunications offerings and group procurement opportunities. It will also highlight case study presentations from host council, Colac Otway Shire, on a range of GIS collaboration initiatives such as landslide data, groundwater visualisation, spatially-enabled sport and recreation data, and fire and emergency management knowledge management.
In early February, the MAV and VicHealth hosted a forum with public health expert, Dr Karen Lee from New York City.
The evidence of a chronic disease epidemic is stark in her presentation. Some of her suggested responses to this epidemic are simple and cost-effective, but require collaboration and buy-in from other government departments such as transport, infrastructure, and education; and of course political will.
Jenny Macaffer from Mornington Peninsula Shire and Malcolm McCall from the City of Yarra assisted in providing a local context to the forum. The Project for Public Spaces website also provides a range of examples from place-making to right-sizing streets and economic development.
Go4Zero campaign to eliminate violence in Victoria
This Go4Zero campaign was launched earlier this week, representing a partnership between Victoria Police, the Victorian Government and the community to say no to violence of any kind, particularly family violence and violence against women. The Go4Zero campaign is calling for a collective responsibility to speak out and reject violence in any form, and that violence against women and children is unacceptable in any form and under any circumstances.
Last October the Government launched Victoria’s Action Plan to Address Violence Against Women and Children, which includes a raft of strategies aimed at preventing and reducing violence against women and children. The MAV Preventing Violence Against Women project is also funded until June 2014 through Victoria’s Action Plan.
Living Libraries Infrastructure Program funding round opens
The Minister for Local Government, Jeanette Powell has launched the 2013 funding round of the Living Libraries Infrastructure Program.
Minister Powell has sent letters to all council mayors and chairpersons of Regional Library Corporations informing them of the opening of the funding round. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Chief Executive Officers.
For additional information, including the Program Guidelines and information on how to apply please visit the DPCD website.
Engaging businesses on sustainability
The Economic Development and Environment Network is holding a breakfast meeting from 7 - 9 am on Tuesday 5 March. The theme of the meeting is 'Councils Engaging Businesses on Sustainability' and it will be held at the MCG as part the Metropolitan Waste Management Group’s Waste Education and Litter Prevention Conference.
- Jim Fraser - Sustainability Coordinator at Marrickville Council in NSW, who will present on the Sustainability@Marrickville program and the power of peer to peer learning.
- Bronwyn Sutton – Project Director from Kenmore in Queensland, who will present on the Central Queensland Local Government regional integrated recycling project aka ‘towardZero – reducing waste at work’.
- Sheridan Blunt - Sustainable Environment Coordinator at Moonee Valley City Council, who will present on the 'Environment Manager on Loan Program'.
Avalon Airport rail link community consultation workshops
The Victorian Government is holding two community consultation workshops in Lara to canvass preliminary route alignment options for an Avalon Airport rail link.
The workshops will be held from 6 - 8 pm on Wednesday 13 March and Thursday 14 March.
In social media news
- Wollongong has launched free city wifi. Read more here.
- A judge has ruled that news outlets should seek permission before using Twitter pics. Find out more here.
- Department of Justice has released a social media moderation guide. Read it here.
- An e-government summit will be held in Melbourne on 18 April. Find out more here.