ALGA extends its congratulations to all the national recipients of the 2013 Resilient Australia Awards, which were announced in Canberra last week. The Awards are designed to recognise the work being done across the country to improve the disaster resilience of local communities to make them safer, stronger and better prepared for emergencies.
Among those recognised include Firefoxes Australia, a community based collective seeking to enhance local engagement in disaster resilience, for their visits and collaboration with disaster affected communities Australia-wide. Firefoxes Australia has developed electronic resources, including a documentary - Creating a New Normal - which is being utilised world-wide by agencies, communities and educational institutions to provide support to individuals affected by natural disasters.
Local government winners include a group of 17 Queensland councils, with support from the Queensland Local Government Association (LGAQ), recognised for their Community Development Engagement Initiative. The initiative was developed in response to a disastrous 2010/11 summer season, when all 73 local government areas in Queensland were impacted by floods and cyclone disasters and activated for Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. Through the implementation of this initiative, councils have been key drivers in supporting the recovery of almost 250 events, activities and projects that have recorded more than 275 000 points of engagement. A series of case studies has been developed to share the learnings and celebrate the success of the innovative and diverse practice.
The Northern Grampians Shire Council was recognised as a joint winner in the local government category for its Stawell Steps/Monash Steps initiative. Artisan bricks from Stawell manufacturer Krause Bricks were used to make a 25-metre long-stepped structure that was incorporated into, around and over the Cato Lake spillways, with accessible platforms for fishing, bird watching, reading and relaxing. The spillway structure is a representation of a partnership between 11 organisations, including Council, metropolitan and rural people, a local brick manufacturer and Monash University architecture students. The steps are in essence a risk mitigation project to ensure businesses and houses neighbouring the lake in Stawell, western Victoria, will not be damaged again by flood waters as they were in January 2011, when floods caused widespread damage across Northern Grampians Shire.
The Australian Geomechanics Society and Sydney Coastal Councils Group were recognised with a highly commended for their Landslide Risk Management Education Empowerment Website. Another highly commended was awarded to the Central Local Government Region of South Australia for its Integrated Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment.
For a full list of recipients and further information about the Resilient Australia Awards, please visit www.em.gov.au
ALGA will be consulting with state and territory local government associations to prepare a submission to an independent review of aviation safety regulation in Australia.
The Aviation Safety Regulation Review, announced by Regional Development Minister, Warren Truss on 14 November 2013, is a systemic and strategic review to examine how well Australia's regulatory system is positioned to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of aviation safety globally.
"The general and regional aviation sectors, in particular, have told the Government they are concerned about the costs of regulatory compliance and how our regulatory system compares to other countries," Mr Truss said.
"This review will place us in a strong position to ensure our aviation safety standards remain up to the challenge of meeting the predicted expansion of aviation over the next 20 years.
"Australia has a world-class aviation safety record but that doesn't mean we should sit by and just hope it stays that way."
Access to air services in remote and regional communities was one of the issues discussed at ALGA's National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Alice Springs last month. During a workshop at the Congress dedicated to developing the agenda for regional airports and remote airstrips, local government representatives examined the capacity of local governments, as owners of community transport assets, to meet ever increasing costs associated with operating and maintaining airports and airstrips. The impact of new security measures and economic factors were highlighted among councils' main concerns.
The Review Panel, chaired by Mr David Forsyth AM, is now calling for public and industry submissions, with submissions due to close on 31 January, 2014.
Mr Forsyth is a prominent figure in Australian aviation. He is the chair of Safeskies Australia, former chair of Airservices Australia and has more than 30 years of experience in safety management and aviation business.
Mr Forsyth will be joined by Mr Don Spruston, former Director General of Civil Aviation at Transport Canada and former Director General of the International Business Aviation Council, and by Mr Roger Whitefield, former Head of Safety at British Airways, former safety adviser to Qantas and former United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority board member.
The Review Panel will provide its report to the Deputy Prime Minister in May 2014.
Local government has welcomed the Federal Government's decision to examine the competitiveness of the nation's agriculture industry and develop an Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper.
In announcing the terms of reference for the White Paper this week, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said it would provide recommendations for boosting agriculture's contribution to economic growth, export and trade, innovation and productivity.
"We have a unique set of assets in Australia, and proximity to the fastest growing markets in the world. This paper will be about asset building and national wealth - it will be an examination without prejudice of Australia's natural competitive advantage into the future," Minister Joyce said.
The White Paper will consider issues including food security, improving farm gate returns, debt, drought management, supply chain competiveness, investment, job creation, infrastructure, skills and training, research and development, regulatory effectiveness and market access.
The Paper will also provide the Government with the opportunity to review, in consultation with industry, whether guidelines relating to drought preparedness and in-event drought measures are adequate.
Issues relating to food production, distribution of produce and natural disasters affect local government areas Australia-wide. Local governments manage local roads, which represent the first and last leg of any journey. They provide access to farms and markets and are critical to economic development.
As such, ALGA will consider the issues paper for the White Paper, which will be released in the coming weeks, ahead of extensive consultation with industry and community.
The terms of reference for the White Paper are available here.
With this being the last edition of ALGA News for 2013, I would like to wish you a safe and happy holiday season and thank you for your ongoing support and readership.
The past 12 months have been anything but dull for local government. We came incredibly close to achieving a referendum on constitutional recognition of local government this year and I thank councils nation-wide for their efforts in highlighting the need to include local government in the Constitution. The reasons for the referendum not proceeding were beyond the control of local government. As you would be aware, the Commonwealth Government announced in May that it would support holding a referendum in conjunction with a 14 September federal election. However, when Julia Gillard's leadership was successfully challenged by Kevin Rudd in August 2013, Mr Rudd decided to move the federal election forward one week to 7 September 2013, which meant that the referendum could not proceed. The timing of the Government's referendum legislation meant that the earliest the local government referendum could have been held was 14 September 2013.
Despite this outcome, local government can be proud of its achievements. We successfully lobbied for the establishment of an Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, which recommended in December 2011 that the Australian Government hold a referendum on financial recognition of local government in 2013. ALGA also successfully lobbied for the formation of a Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government to investigate the likelihood of people voting "yes" for constitutional recognition of local government at a referendum and it too recommended that a referendum be held in conjunction with a 14 September 2013 election. These recommendations justify local government's concerns about direct federal funding. While the new Federal Government has reinforced its belief that programs that provide direct federal funding to local government - such as the Roads to Recovery program - are constitutionally valid, it has acknowledged that it will look at the implications of any further High Court challenges before deciding on a further course of action.
As I told delegates at last month's National Local Roads and Transport Congress, the election of a new federal government offers opportunities to local government. We welcome the Coalition's commitment to building the infrastructure of the 21st century, as the provision of quality community and regional infrastructure is an issue of priority for local government. We also welcome the Coalition's commitment to ensuring the continuation of the Roads to Recovery program and the Black Spots funding program and delivering a $300 million bridge renewal program, all of which are issues that ALGA has been strongly advocating for.
The future looks bright for local government and I look forward to working further with councils and the Federal Government in 2014 to ensure that the interests of our local communities are given priority.
ALGA News resumes in late January. Until then, safe travels and happy holidays! I look forward to talking to you again in the new year.
Mayor, Dr Felicity-ann Lewis
According to a report by the Productivity Commission, there is substantial scope to improve Australia's development assessment and approval regulatory framework for major projects.
The report - Major Project Development Assessment Processes - identifies long approval timeframes, conflicting policy objectives, duplicative processes, regulatory uncertainty, inadequate consultation and enforcement and regulatory outcomes falling short of their objectives as areas requiring attention.
The Commission proposes limits on the use of "stop-the-clock" provisions; separation of regulators from policy institutions; limits on merit review of non-Ministerial decisions; and better access for third parties to enforce conditions on approvals. It also argues for re-launching accreditation by the Commonwealth of State and Territory environment assessment and approval procedures.
The Commission outlines how jurisdictions can establish a "one project, one assessment, one decision" framework for environmental approvals, through bilateral assessment and approval agreements. This would reduce costly duplication between Australian and State and Territory Government processes.
The report also proposes statutory timelines for assessment and approval decisions, the wider use of Strategic Assessments, and the establishment of Major Project Coordination Offices.
Presiding Commissioner Jonathan Coppel said: "Implementation of a comprehensive package of regulatory reforms is essential if Australia is to secure the full benefits of major projects and remain an attractive destination for investment, while maintaining high standards of community protection."
The report can be accessed via the Commission's website at www.pc.gov.au
A new discussion paper on use of in-vehicle technology in trucks, buses and coaches has been released for industry and public comment.
The National Transport Commission (NTC) paper "Developing a Compliance Framework for Heavy Vehicle Telematics" follows a workshop held with stakeholders in October this year.
The framework looks at the use of telematics in heavy vehicles and their vehicle-based applications including speed, location, travel times, load, mass and vehicle conditions. It also addresses driver-based applications including monitoring of fatigue, work and rest hours, as well as vehicle-driver approaches which can show how well a driver drives.
NTC Chief Executive and Commissioner Paul Retter said it was important regulators kept up with emerging technologies and their implications for enforcement of road laws, privacy and opportunities to improve safety.
"On one hand the use of telematics in heavy vehicles gives regulators an excellent opportunity to improve road safety, but that must also be balanced against the need to regulate access to data and protect privacy," Mr Retter said.
"There are also many practical benefits to heavy vehicle companies voluntarily installing telematics in their trucks, buses and other vehicles that go beyond making sure they are compliant with regulations.
"Businesses can benefit by gaining insights into their own operations by monitoring vehicle tracking, fuel use, and staff deployment to become more efficient by installing telematics devices," Mr Retter said.
However, Mr Retter said one of the most significant aims of the draft framework was to provide a nationally consistent treatment of telematics data.
"If heavy vehicle businesses are going to invest in new technologies they want the certainly not only they're going to meet their business needs, but also meet regulations across state borders."
The draft framework, which is now available on the NTC website for comment, was developed in consultation with governments, industry and unions.
Feedback on the framework will be accepted until 7 February 2014 by lodging a submission via the NTC website.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has released a guide to support industry operating under the new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
The information pack is the first in a series of publications which has been developed in consultation with industry representatives and is provided for general information as part of a broader engagement and education program led by the NHVR for industry stakeholders.
For more information about the NHVR or the new national law, visit www.nhvr.gov.au or call 1300 MYNHVR (1300 686 987) to speak directly to a case manager.
Queensland local councils are preparing to take the next step in using advances in information technology to boost productivity and improve service delivery to their communities.
An in-depth survey of the digital productivity landscape among local councils has found that the overwhelming majority of councils are keen to use advances in information technology to improve productivity, efficiency and performance.
However, the survey also found that the local government sector needed to adopt rigorous methods to measure the productivity gains brought on by new technology.
The survey, commissioned by the Local Government Association of Queensland, paints a picture of many local councils ready to use technology to improve the way they serve their communities but also unsure of how to realise the gains it promises.
LGAQ President Margaret de Wit said the results of the survey presented the Association with an opportunity to boost understanding among councils about the potential of digital technology to transform the way they did business, particularly in rural and regional areas.
"Some are worried about data speeds, others need a model that balances costs with benefits before they will start to invest," Cr de Wit said.
"But the good news is that councils all around Queensland want to make sure they are at the cutting edge of technological advances because they realise the benefits this offers for their communities."
The survey examined council attitudes to factors such as social media, the National Broadband Network and digital skills.
The findings show that while 92 percent of councils wanted to introduce new technology as a means of providing better services, only 27 percent had the tools in place to set targets and measure performance.
Cr de Wit said councils needed to adopt sound performance monitoring cultures to get the best out of new technologies.
"We see the results of the survey as amounting to an appeal from councils for guidance in how to take the next, crucial steps into the digital age," she said.
St John Ambulance Australia has developed an online first aid course for learner drivers in response to statistics which show that a high number of young people are involved in road traffic accidents.
St John Ambulance Australia says young people are vulnerable road users at high risk of fatality, with risk-taking, peer pressure and an inclination for experimentation jeopardising young Australians' safety on the roads.
It cites research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) which suggests young people (12-24) are over-represented in road traffic accidents in Australia. In 2007, the AIHW reported 1418 deaths among this population group, with road transport accidents accounting for 35 per cent of fatalities.
Young males account for around three-quarters of these deaths. Furthermore, during 2005-06, there were 17,228 hospitalisations of young people due to transport traffic accidents.
With the average response time for an ambulance being 10 minutes, the first three to five minutes following a road traffic accident is crucial if irreversible damage is to be prevented.
It is estimated to take only four minutes for a victim of a road traffic accident to die from anoxia (a blocked airway) if no treatment is provided. With up to 85 per cent of preventable deaths due to anoxia, the application of basic first aid by bystanders is a simple preventative health measure.
St John Ambulance Australia has received funding from the Northern Territory and Australian governments for the "First@Scene" program and the Northern Territory Department of Transport is incorporating the pilot course as a component for obtaining a Provisional License under the voluntary program.
St John Ambulance Australia is advocating to all State and Territory Governments that basic first aid training should be a requirement for all learner drivers. To learn more about the program, visit www.firstatscene.com.au
For more about St John Ambulance Australia visit www.stjohn.org.au or contact Belinda Ding, National Policy Manager on 02 6239 9203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Thursday 5 December 2013, the Productivity Commission released an issues paper to support its inquiry into child care and early childhood learning.
This is the first public examination of Australia's child care and early childhood learning system since the 1990s.
The inquiry will look into future options for child care and early childhood learning, with a focus on developing a system that is flexible, accessible, affordable, and high quality. The Commission will conduct its inquiry through a public process of submissions, hearings and a draft report, which will allow all stakeholders views to be heard and considered.
Submissions close 3 February 2014.
The Commission expects to deliver its final report to the Australian Government by the end of October 2014.
More details can be found on the Productivity Commission website at www.pc.gov.au
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has launched a Funding Regional Communities campaign to secure four more years of crucial funding in the 2014 State Budget.
In 2011, the Victorian Government delivered a $360 million windfall for local roads, community facilities and other initiatives, which has funded more than 1 500 projects to date.
MAV president, Cr Bill McArthur said that the State's commitment was to be commended, but with funding set to finish in 2014, it was important for the investment to be renewed so councils could continue to revive and revitalise our regions.
"Our campaign not only aims to secure further government investment, but also to highlight how the $360 million has already benefited regional communities.
"Since 2011 the Local Government Infrastructure program and Putting Locals First program has funded approximately 660 community projects to date.
"Many of these projects have either been delivered to communities ahead of schedule, or may not have been funded by councils due to the recent economic downturn and need to tighten spending controls.
"But these projects have been invaluable including upgraded community facilities and infrastructure such as sports grounds and buildings, roads and footpaths, parks and playgrounds, libraries, art galleries, childcare and senior citizens centres," he said.
The three state initiatives, all funded from 2011-12 through to 2014-15, are the Country Roads and Bridges programs ($160 million for 40 rural councils); and as part of the Regional Growth Fund, the Local Government Infrastructure program ($100 million) and the Putting Locals First program ($100 million for 48 councils and eligible community organisations).
Cr McArthur said the Country Roads and Bridges program had been invaluable, providing funding for 924 crucial local road improvements to date.
"With councils responsible for 85 per cent of the state's road network, delivering maintenance and restoration projects sooner is a win for road safety and for all road users.
"During the campaign we will encourage the 48 rural and regional councils to showcase the value of the government's $360 million investment and how this funding has been used to renew, revive and revitalise local communities.
"Councils' financial investment in ageing local infrastructure and roads is a massive cost burden for rural ratepayers. Ongoing State funding support is critical for regional growth and sustainability," he said.
Climate Smart Super: Understanding Superannuation & Climate Risk has been released this week to highlight the necessity for superannuation nest eggs to be protected from carbon and climate change risks.
Released by The Climate Institute, it's the first report of its kind and offers information for individuals to learn more about their super funds and how to engage with their super funds in relation to the investments made on their behalf.
It reveals that while trustees managing superannuation funds have a fiduciary duty to manage for climate and carbon policy risks, few are able to demonstrate they are acting on that duty.
The report was released alongside results of this year's global survey of 1000 of the largest asset owners, most of whom are super funds.
"Superannuation funds are often Australians' biggest or second biggest asset but until now very few have had accessible information enabling them to take an active role in managing that asset against climate and carbon policy risks," CEO of The Climate Institute, John Connor said.
"This report reviews superannuation in the context of climate change - both in terms of how retirement savings might be exposed to climate risk and how those savings can help transition Australia to a clean energy future."
"It offers a number of simple steps to assist people to engage with their super funds so that they can move from being accidental to active investors and start challenging the dangerous short term focus in business and politics that threatens retirement savings."
"Numerous reports from banks, investment groups and others now highlight that serious climate action means many high carbon investments may turn out to be worthless, with a large majority of fossil fuels needing to be left in the ground. This could have a huge impact on superannuation funds," Mr Connor said.
Climate Smart Super: Understanding Superannuation & Climate Risk and associated content, including infographics, videos and a podcast, can be found here.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is assisting communities prepare for changes to the radiofrequency spectrum (known as the "digital dividend") so that specific frequencies can be used to provide 4G mobile broadband services from 1 January 2015.
From 1 January 2015, spectrum located in the 694-820 megahertz (MHz) frequency range (the digital dividend) will be used solely to provide 4G mobile broadband services. It will be illegal to operate wireless microphones and other audio devices in that frequency range because they may cause or receive interference to and from the mobile broadband service.
Many community groups and small businesses use wireless microphones for a range of purposes, including school assemblies, religious services, theatre and live music performances and sporting events. It is very likely that there are many individuals and organisations that live and work in your community that use wireless microphones and other audio devices on a day-to-day basis.
The ACMA wants to ensure that all community groups and businesses understand the change and know what they should do to prepare and is strongly encouraging users to check their equipment and to start planning for the change now so that they know that their equipment will comply with the change by 1 January 2015.
ACMA has created a range of resources available on its website:
- A wireless microphone hub-an online one-stop-shop for information on the changes www.acma.gov.au/Industry/wirelessmics
- Fact sheets that provides for 'plug and play' users (such as community groups and small businesses), professional users and suppliers of wireless microphones
- Free, monthly e-bulletin that provides updates on the ACMA's work on helping users prepare for the changes. You can subscribe to the e-bulletin via the wireless microphone hub.
A copy of the "plug and play" fact sheet can be accessed here and provides useful information for users and links to additional helpful information.
A member of ACMA's Spectrum Engineering Section will be calling organisations to see if they have any questions and to offer support. In the meantime, any questions can be directed to Mark Arkell, Manager, Spectrum Engineering Section, on 02 6219 5442 or email@example.com.
Government Skills Australia (GSA) is pleased to announce the launch of a new online local government career resource: localgovernmentcareers.com.au
The user-friendly website has been designed to:
- Demonstrate the diversity of career options and roles within the local government sector and the multiple entry points for employment.
- Demonstrate career pathway opportunities available to those working in local government.
- Demonstrate that working in local government can lead to career opportunities in other Industry sectors.
Councils are exceptional places for passionate people to work because councils are passionate about their communities. Councils offer a diversity of career options, job satisfaction, high regard for safety, flexible workplaces and job security because they want their communities to have the best service possible.
In conjunction with the website a poster has been produced that will aid career advisors in demonstrating the diversity of careers in local government.
These resources have been developed with the assistance of local government agencies and representative bodies. The local government career website provides school leavers, university graduates and existing local government employees a platform to discover the roles that are available via existing interests and skills. It can also be an advisory tool for learning development/ human resources advisors within local government and registered training providers to assist in the development of a more highly skilled local government workforce.
GSA would like to thank the individuals and organisations that have helped to develop this online resource.
Across the country, there are thousands of organised events held on Australia Day, from fun runs first thing in the morning to the fireworks in the evening. And in most towns across Australia, a citizenship ceremony is held. Citizenship ceremonies are an integral part of Australia Day, with tens of thousands of people becoming Australian citizens on 26 January each year.
A great way to welcome these new citizens into the community is to include an Australia Citizenship ceremony at official Australia Day events. The Australian Citizenship Affirmation can be included as part of every citizenship ceremony and gives the whole community the opportunity to affirm their loyalty to Australia and its people. It's a wonderful way to bring the whole community together to celebrate our values on Australia Day.
All the resources and information you need to include the Affirmation are sent to you free of charge, so why not bring the whole community together at your event with an Affirmation ceremony this Australia Day?
For information and free resources, visit australianaffirmation.org.au