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  • Local councils could save money by switching their fleets to electric vehicles because they pay for themselves if the total cost of ownership is considered, a study featuring council data from the Municipal Association of Victoria has found. The study by ClimateWorks Australia in collaboration with MAV and the Electric Vehicle Council was discussed at+

  • The annual Landcare Week, which runs 2-8 September, is special this year as it’s the environmental entity’s 30th birthday. Landcare Australia estimates that since 1989 it’s evolved into a movement of 6,000 groups and hundreds of thousands of volunteers who perform sustainable agricultural practices and conservation activities, while also developing and uplifting their communities. Its+

  • The Australian Human Rights Commission has released a series of free online training courses to help groups understand the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. They were developed by the Commission and other entities and are aimed at people working or volunteering in all organisations of various sizes that engage with children and young people,+

  • A new site has for the first time brought together millions of data sets to provide a wide-ranging picture of the state of housing in Australia, from financing for a mortgage through to population changes and homelessness. The Housing Data Dashboard as developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Commonwealth+

  • The Australian Government has published a new biosecurity web site aimed at helping the general public, councils, businesses and individuals better understand how to identify and respond to biosecurity threats. The site has been developed by the National Biosecurity Committee, to which the Australian Local Government Association is an observer, and follows an agreement by+

  • I was pleased to participate in a memorable second meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap last week in Adelaide. There can be few more pressing tasks than reducing the differences in life span, health, housing and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – and local government has a key role to play.+

  • Are the more than 200 recycling labels used in Australia making you confused about how to dispose of packaging and empty items? The Australasian Recycling Label – which featured at the 2019 National General Assembly – aims to help you correctly dispose of all parts of a product’s packaging. The logo is one part of+

  • The Commonwealth seeks feedback on its $60 million Regional Connectivity Program, which forms part of the $220m regional digital connectivity package. “The objective of the Regional Connectivity Program is to use a ‘place-based’ approach to target investment to provide economic opportunities and enable full participation in the digital economy for regional communities and businesses,” the+

  • Nominations have opened for the Red Ochre Awards for the lifetime achievements of established Indigenous artists. There are two prizes of $50,000 each for female and male recipients to honour their outstanding lifetime achievement in the arts, and their contribution to the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, both nationally and internationally. Recipients+

  • The Australian Government has updated the National Cities Performance Network, a data snapshot of 21 of the country’s largest cities. The site is designed to help guide the policy and investment decisions of all three levels of government, as well as industry and the community. Some eight capital cities and 13 other major cities are+

  • This week’s 4 Corners investigation, ‘Cracking Up’, shone a national spotlight on shoddy apartments and building certifications across Australia. We saw problems with buildings such as Opal Tower and Mascot Towers in Sydney with cracked walls and foundations and forced residents to flee, while frustrated owners showed their leaking apartments in Canberra and Melbourne. I+

  • A new survey has found most visitors to inclusive play spaces around Australia want to see more universally-accessible toilets, swings for all abilities, and shaded areas. The State of Play 2019 report was created by Touched by Olivia, a charity that creates inclusive play spaces, and Variety, which have together created more than 30 such+

  • ALGA has told an inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin that its draft Terms of Reference also need to consider climate change, town water supplies, and individuals’ concerns for their own welfare and their communities’. In June, the Water Resources and Drought Minister David Littleproud instructed the Murray Darling Basin Authority to hold an Independent+

  • The Australian Road Research Board, the National Transport Research Organisation, has begun a series of workshops to help local councils, especially in regional areas, to upgrade their knowledge of road asset management and maintenance. Organisers are also creating a suite of guides that will support national and international best practice in the procurement, design and+

  • The NSW Government on 13 August reversed for one year a decision to impose an emergency services levy on 128 local councils, which saw some council’s levy charges jump by $220,000. The levy, which was to help cover the compensation costs of firefighters who had developed certain cancers, was imposed without consultation, and after councils+

  • Celebrate the achievements of emerging and established artists with a disability by nominating them for the inaugural National Arts and Disability Awards, which close 1 October. The awards are open to all areas of practice and feature two categories: established artist recognized nationally or internationally ($50,000 prize), and emerging artist aged 35 years or under+

  • A new study by the Regional Australia Institute recommends a national awareness campaign to encourage migration to regional areas for cheaper housing and to reduce growing pains in the outer suburbs of major capitals. The Regional Population Growth: Are We Ready? report says there are rapidly diminishing returns for agglomeration benefits as the major capitals+

  • A new bicycle path in Perth’s northern suburbs that separates cyclists from cars in some sections and aims to get more residents cycling through major centres has taken out the road safety excellence category at the National Awards for Local Government. City of Stirling – which also received the overall National Award for Excellence for+

  • A draft report by New Zealand’s Productivity Commission on Local Government financing and funding has recommended the NZ government offer councils more support for climate change adaptation measures, and also help with legal guidance and consistent science, standards and data. New Zealand has two levels of government: the federal or central government, and local government.+

  • After over a year of calling for national leadership and months of arguing at various ministerial councils on your behalf, ALGA achieved a major breakthrough at COAG last Friday with Prime Minister Morrison and all First Ministers agreeing to join us in the fight against waste, to boost recycling, and to do it onshore. The+

  • Local councils are invited to make submissions by 16 August to a draft Terms of Reference to guide a new Independent Panel for the Assessment of Social and Economic Conditions in the Murray-Darling Basin. The panel was appointed recently by the Federal Government to assess communities in the Basin as they face matters including drought,+

  • Erosion at 55 coastal locations across Western Australia will damage roads, buildings and other assets, and managed retreat may be required within 25 years, a new study has found. Causes of erosion include man-made structures that change natural sand movements, and rising sea levels due to climate change, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage+

  • Local councils in NSW can until 29 August apply for $13.3 million in grants to divert food and garden waste from landfill by turning the waste into other products. The NSW Environment Protection Authority said the grants will help successful applicants to buy small and large infrastructure and equipment to recycle food and garden waste+

  • Residents aged 16-22 in regional Australia are invited to share their life experiences and win the chance to be featured on the ABC and visit Canberra for the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in February 2020. There’s also up to $10,000 in seed funding to help start youth-developed projects in regional areas. Applicants can tell their+

  • Councils across Australia have marked National Homelessness Week this week with activities including community outreach programs and fundraising. Three councils in Victoria – City of Port Phillip, Bayside City Council and City of Kingston – and the support group Council to Homeless Persons joined a social media campaign called My Name Is in which people+

  • A landscape architect who project managed and was the sole woman in meetings for a $10.5 million redevelopment in Sydney’s north has won a prestigious national award that recognises the work of women in local government. Holly Cowdery, from Willoughby City Council, earned the Susan Grace Benny Award for Women in Local Government and Community+

  • The Commonwealth’s National Office for Child Safety has released a Complaint Handling Guide: Upholding the rights of children and young people, another part of its response to the child sexual abuse royal commission. The guide contains advice to organisations about “how to develop, implement and maintain a complaint-handling system that prioritises child safety and promotes+

  • Councils are invited to nominate for the annual awards organized by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) and Inside Waste magazine. There are nine categories including outstanding project in a metro or regional/rural area, woman of waste award and community engagement success of the year. Nominations close 30 September, with finalists+

  • Last week on your behalf I attended the meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council in Adelaide, at which a major focus was road safety. Road safety is a vital issue for local government, as we are the owners and managers of over 75% of Australia’s roads by length. Some 52% of all casualty crashes+

  • The Federal Government has begun the first of a series of trials for possible road user charging options for heavy vehicles. More than 10 heavy vehicle operators of varying sizes and more than 100 vehicles will be used in the initial trial, Assistant Minister for Road Safety, Scott Buchholz, said. “The Federal Liberal and Nationals+

  • Mackay Regional Council has been named the Council Collection Facility of the Year at the annual DrumMUSTER/AgSafe awards. Judges said the Council’s proactive support of local growers, “ensured the program’s success across a significant geographical footprint, adding to Mackay’s environmental aim of having a region that embodies the target of Healthy Rivers to Reef systems.”+

  • The Queensland Government has released a new social infrastructure strategy, with which it aims to make better use of existing physical infrastructure and ensure new investments are more responsive to community needs. The document defines “social infrastructure” as physical facilities and spaces across health, education and training, justice and public safety, arts, culture and recreation+

  • Local councils’ frontline efforts against climate change such as through energy efficiency, an electric vehicle charging network, and championing their communities are among the finalists of the Cities Power Partnership’s annual national climate awards. More than two dozen councils have been short listed, ranging from metropolitan councils to rural and regional ones across Australia. Pam+

  • A new research paper argues decentralization in Australia doesn’t relieve growth in Sydney and Melbourne, and future attempts will not work unless governments invest in basic infrastructure such as communications services, roads and health and education facilities. Written for the Henry Halloran Trust at the University of Sydney, Decentralisation: could it help our fast growing+

  • The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) will take a closer look at cities, including local government coordination, as part of its new Cities Research Agenda. Researchers will focus on five projects: metropolitan governance, urban transportation, housing supply and population, cities policy, and cities-related issues. “We’re excited to see AHURI extend our research into+

  • A new 3D mapping program developed by researchers and trialed by councils in Greater Sydney could help councils better plan for increases in the urban heat island effect due to warmer temperatures caused by climate change. The Microclimate and Urban Heat Island Mitigation Decision-Support Tool was developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon+

  • Two projects that counter harassment and promote inclusion, and assist struggling high school students to develop job skills have earned Wollongong City Council two 2019 National Awards for Local Government. ‘I Belong in the Gong’, was developed because new migrants, especially women, reported being publicly abused. This program, took out the Prevention and Community Safety+

  • It’s commendable to see so many councils sharing what they do, such as this animation from Shoalhaven City Council (NSW) about the 40 beaches they manage, or this from Bathurst Council in central western NSW which highlighted a local theatre group. On Tuesday 6 August, join them and other councils to make #PartOfYourEveryday trend nationally+

  • A Federal Government survey on local councils interested in smart technologies closes at 5pm AEST today. The Cities Division of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development’s questionnaire takes about 25 minutes to complete and is aimed at elected officials such as councillors and mayors, project officers, CEOs and CIOs. Questions include does+

  • North Sydney Council has become the first council in the city to ban smoking in its central business district. Council announced the decision on 23 July, saying more than 80 percent of 577 respondents during a consultation backed the move. “As I said in my mayoral minute last year, I believed our community would support+

  • An upgraded wharf in rural Victoria, two community entertainment buildings, and a library in Sydney’s inner south are among the Australian projects that have shared in the 2019 International Architecture Awards. The prize from the 2019 Chicago Athenaeum/European Design for Architecture Art and Urban Design Studies, is the oldest annual public celebration of global architecture+

  • The Senate will inquire into Newstart and related payments after the Greens combined with Labor to refer the matter to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs. Increasing Newstart has been a concern of local councils, with resolutions about the inadequacy of the social security benefit passed at the 2018 and 2019 National General Assembly+

  • While the Plastic Free July initiative against single-use plastics is almost over, here are a range of practical measures which residents and local councils can employ year-round. Boomerang Alliance, in conjunction with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) and Queensland Government, has released a series of resources for councils. “At+

  • Local councils across Australia are preparing their communities for climate change via a range of actions including information sessions from environmental psychologists to curbing their emissions sources to conducting risk and insurance assessments. Taking urgent action on climate change was a major theme among the resolutions passed at the National General Assembly of Local Government+

  • What do you do if you find a lonely monster in your neighbourhood? Help them make friends, and tell their story in a children’s book. That’s what happened to Western Australia’s City of Belmont, which won the 2019 National Award for Local Government Creating Vibrant and Cohesive Communities Through the Arts category for its Adventures+

  • Infrastructure Australia’s 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit, which for the first time covers social infrastructure, will be publicly released in August. The report “will act as an evidence base to focus investment and reform on the key issues facing Australia’s infrastructure over the next 15 years and beyond,” The agency’s Chief Executive, Romilly Madew AO, said.+

  • Communities across Australia are either currently facing drought, tentatively recovering from it, or have been affected by it in the past. With climate change we are advised to expect more frequent and harsher droughts. Consequently the passing of the Future Drought Fund legislation through Parliament was important for local governments. The fund will be for+

  • A new specification for rural roads has been released that aims to significantly improve the structural integrity, safety and performance of sealed and unsealed roads, thereby helping local councils better serve their communities. It has been produced by AUS-SPEC, the national local government specification, which is a joint venture between NATSPEC (the National Building Specification)+

  • Postvention Australia, a national association which helps people who are left behind after a suicide occurs, seeks local councils for its proposed national outreach peer support program, Here for You. The group’s booth at the National General Assembly last month was visited by a number of council delegates keen to learn more about the association+

  • A global multi-hazard risk analysis of road and railway infrastructure assets published in Nature Communications has attempted to measure the cost of natural disasters to the world’s roads and railways, suggesting around 73 per cent of this damage would be due to surface water caused by extreme rainfall and river flooding. Global Expected Annual Damages+

  • Building Ministers from the federal, state and territory governments have agreed on a national approach to enacting recommendations in the 2018 Building Confidence report which aimed to improve compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry. The Building Ministers’ Forum, which met in Sydney on 18 July, also agreed to rewrite the strategic+

  • The Federal Government has reminded local councils of their obligations to ensure safe environments for children following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Councils are urged to remind themselves of their responsibilities in Recommendation 6.12 of the Royal Commission’s report which involves designating child safety officers within councils who will carry+