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President's update

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MAV President's Update - sent on Friday, 13 August 2021

Dear friends and colleagues,

Life in local government is both dynamic and rewarding, and never more so than when serving our councils and communities during the challenging public health restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s hope that the restrictions limit outbreaks.

This week the MAV met with Minister for Local Government, The Hon Shaun Leanne, he asked me to pass on his, and his ministerial colleagues thanks, for the “magnificent” work councils have been doing to help with the range of crisis’ across the state in recent months. Thank you.

The Minister referred to the work of many Council’s in assisting with community interactions and support to community members, particularly in the culturally diverse suburbs of Melbourne, during recent COVID lockdowns; as well as the response over several weeks to the recent storms and power outages that severely impacted the Hepburn, Moorabool, Macedon Ranges, Mitchell and Yarra Ranges councils and all of the councils in Gippsland.

Moving forward, there will be continuing opportunities for the local government sector to lead their communities and partner other levels of government in the recovery.

With this in mind, I have appreciated hearing about the innovative programs and projects being delivered across the state during my visits to member councils. Thanks to the Mayors, Councillors and staff for welcoming me to Horsham Rural City Council, Hindmarsh Shire, Yarriambiack Shire, Buloke Shire, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Frankston City Council, Greater City of Shepparton, Mansfield Shire and Benalla Shire in recent weeks.

We also had a robust discussion at the Interface Region meeting in late July. These catch ups are a great opportunity to hear about the issues of importance at a local level and the shared concerns of the sector.

In keeping with this, the MAV has produced a new publication – MAV Insights – a timely update to all Victorian MPs on the current issues facing our councils and communities.

This brief looks at several significant Victorian Government policy reforms such as the $5.3 billion Big Housing Build to construct and create 12,000 new social and affordable housing dwellings and the kerbside recycling reforms.

It also considers reforms to planning, emergency management and aged care as well as the implications on the sector to cease operation of MAV WorkCare.

We welcome the State Government’s efforts to fill these policy and funding vacuums, especially where they are an important stimulus for Victoria’s post-COVID social and economic recovery. But there are some concerns about the impacts on councils and their communities that need to be addressed.

For instance, we have explored the financial impacts of a proposition of a rate exemption on the 85,000 social housing dwellings, which are owned and operated by the Victorian Government and community housing providers, and found it would equate to an estimated annual cost to Victorian ratepayers of $136.8 million.

Over 10 years, more than $1.6 billion would be removed from councils’ existing rates base. That’s $1.6 billion of lost investment in local services and infrastructure for our communities.

Similarly, policy reform and investment to strengthen Victoria’s recycling capacity is good news. Councils are already well advanced in introducing FOGO services for their communities. But the requirement for all councils to provide a separate glass recycling service by 2027 is more challenging.

We are keen to work with the State Government to find a better way to deliver the same or stronger outcomes with these reforms.

MAV Insights is available to you on our website. We hope this information and analysis is helpful to you in discussions with your own local MP.

As you would be aware, on 17 June 2021, the Minister for Local Government requested the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal to make the first determination about setting the values of the allowances including the allowance categories that are payable to Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors.

As part of its consultations, the tribunal has invited currently serving Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors in Victoria to complete an online questionnaire. This questionnaire is open until 5pm on Monday 16 August 2021. The tribunal’s determination, once made, will take effect from 18 December 2021.

Last week, a range of matters were considered at the monthly MAV Board meeting.

One item was the next State Council meeting which will be held on 12 November at the Sofitel in Collins Street, MelbourneNext week information will be emailed to MAV Representatives and Chief Executive Officers with all the details including key dates, how to lodge motions and register to attend.

At the meeting consideration was given to the nomination to the Vision Super Board. Twenty-one applications were received from the sector.  We thank all who applied.  A nomination has now been recommended to the Vision Super Board, which concludes MAV’s part of the process.  We await the announcement by Vision Super in due course.

The Board also discussed the MAV Strategy 2021-25, which was adopted by State Council at the May 2021 meeting following extensive engagement with MAV members and came into effect on 1 July 2021.

The strategy outlines 28 objectives, and 72 individual initiatives, across the six themes of:

  • Economically sound councils
  • Health, diverse and thriving communities
  • Well-planned, connected, and resilient built environment
  • Climate change and a circular economy
  • Sector capability and good governance
  • Effective and responsive MAV

A reporting framework has now been implemented to assist the board in tracking progress against the Strategy and a number of priority initiatives. We look forward to this work progressing in the interest of our members and letting you know what we’ve achieved.

Lastly, I would encourage you to talk to your council about joining the campaign to reduce ageism in our community.  

EveryAGE Counts is our partner for this campaign and has been tackling ageism nationally by shifting social norms and positively influencing the way people think about ageing and older people. Our work seeks to build on this social movement and involve all Victorian local governments. 

The MAV has drafted an engagement plan to inform our members of the objectives of the campaign and the actions that can be undertaken to support the direction. 

Our first act in support of this campaign was for the Board to ‘take the pledge’ and by doing so, we agreed to move forward without ageism.

We recounted this simple pledge - ‘We stand for a world without ageism where all people of all ages are valued and respected and their contributions are acknowledged. We commit to speak out and take action to ensure older people can participate on equal terms with others in all aspects of life.’ 

Now that we have taken the pledge, we have committed to shining a light on any prejudice expressed towards a person because of their age.

Warm regards,

Cr David Clark
MAV President