August 2005 Edition

  • Something for the holidays
    The UK Experience by Malcolm Morley *

    The Government has announced 66 pilots for the next stage in the development of Local Area Agreements (LAAs). LAAs mark a radical change in the Government’s approach to the coordination of public sector investment and the governance arrangements associated with that investment at a local level.
  • Council workers go mobile using latest technology
    Getting key information to and from field workers is a critical part of many Council operations. Whether it be details about equipment, work orders, inspections, patients, clients, animals or order processing, in the ideal world this information would be available in real time and at all times to support the mobile teams in their business tasks, sometimes on a 24/7 basis.
  • Remote communities take responsibility to curb water crisis *
    The first major shipment of domestic and commercial Airwater machines, which produce water from the moisture in the air, have arrived in Australia. The capacity of the machines range from regenerating 25 litres of water per day for the domestic units, to between 250 and 5,000 litres per day for the commercial units.
  • Technology improves access for Brisbane’s homeless
    As our reliance on telecommunications and the Internet grows, there is an increasing divide between those who have access to new technologies and those who don’t. Access to community services like health and financial assistance often requires use of either the telephone or Internet. People with little chance to access these services, particularly the homeless, are becoming increasingly isolated from society.

  • Recognising Council high achievers
    At the 2005 Local Government Managers Australia National Congress in Canberra, FOCUS invited delegates to nominate an individual or team from their Council who is improving their Council’s operations and meeting community needs. In this edition, we showcase two more of our competition winners for 2005.

  • Union view on IR changes for Local Government
    Local Government employees will be greatly affected by the Federal Government’s proposed changes to Industrial Relations Laws, which are due to be introduced to the Parliament later in the year. There has now been widespread public debate on these issues, not all of it helpful or illuminating. I hope to draw out the issues for employees in the Local Government sector as dispassionately as possible.
  • Councillor profiles
    A regular feature, this month we feature a Councillor from Western Australia.
  • Second Trans-Tasman Mainstreet and Town Centre Conference
    Building on the success of the inaugural Trans-Tasman Conference held in Melbourne last year which brought together over 500 people involved in town and city centres, economic and community development from all parts of Australasia, the 2005 conference will be held in Manukau City New Zealand To be staged from Sunday 30 October to Wednesday 2 November 2005, the conference will reflect on the successes of the past, and the lessons learned, as well as identify some innovative ways in which town centres and communities can move forward in the future.
  • Tampa won’t go away
    The Good Oil by Rod Brown *

    Andrew Podger retired last month as the Public Service Commissioner – around 35 years service, former head of Health, Housing and Regional Development etc. Normally farewell speeches from these folk are pretty tame. But on this occasion he gave an almighty spray to his brethren – some public servants are ‘too concerned to please’ and they have served partisan government interests ‘by failing to keep proper notes, destroying diaries, and ratcheting up security classifications of documents’.
  • RiskeProfiling A risk management tool for Local Government
    RiskeProfiling is a cost effective, user friendly, risk management tool that has been designed for Councils by Councils. The software is already assisting over 60 Councils Australia wide in establishing a proactive risk management system.
  • Hobart demonstrates its best practice risk management
    The Civic Mutual Plus (CMP) Risk Management Awards recognise initiatives that have improved community safety, reducing or eliminating injuries and losses that can lead to public liability claims. Open to Tasmanian Councils, these annual awards acknowledge best practice in risk management, addressing public safety risk exposures.

  • President’s comment
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Bill Mitchell, President of the Western Australian Local Government Association.
  • IGA the next steps...
    Federal and State Local Government Ministers and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) have formally agreed to develop an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to put an end to cost shifting. The Local Government and Planning Ministers Council, of which ALGA is a full member, met in Melbourne on 4 August. It agreed to the development of an IGA between the three spheres of government that will help ensure fair treatment of Local Government in its financial dealings with its State and Federal counterparts.
  • Editorial - Finding a balance between security and civil rights
    Just as in 2001 when New York came under attack, and then Mayor Rudolf Guiliano’s leadership captured world attention, the statement by London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone, made on 7 July 2005, leaves us in no doubt about the vital role of those elected to Local Government. Mayor Livingstone stressed the importance of communities standing together to work through adversity and above all, not turning in on each other.
  • Councils and communities gear up for Commonwealth Games
    The Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton is almost halfway through its epic journey. Beginning in London in March, the world’s longest, most inclusive relay will finish exactly one year and one day later when the final runner enters the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the opening ceremony of the Melbourne XVIII Commonwealth Games on 15 March 2006.

Feature: features Community Services

  • Narungga have their say in South Australia
    Local councils in the Yorke Peninsula region of South Australia have struck an agreement with traditional owners, the Narungga people, which has been a triumph for common sense, according to one Local Government leader.
  • New boundaries bring better services to WA’s far north
    A need to talk to the right people has seen Local Government in the East Kimberley town of Halls Creek shift its ward boundaries in a move to better represent local Indigenous populations. The overhaul happened after the Tjurabalan people were recognised as native title holders over an area of land south of the West Australian town and a subsequent review found the previous levels of representation were inadequate.
  • Agreement brings protection and respect
    The confidence and self esteem of the Tubbagah people, from the New South Wales regional city of Dubbo, has received a welcome boost following the establishment of an agreement which preserved Aboriginal culture and protected the interests of rural stockholders. The agreement between the Dubbo City Council, the Tubbagah people of the Wiradjuri Nation, the New South Wales Government and the Dubbo Rural Lands Protection Board was finalised in December 2002.

  • Larrakia earning while Palmerston gets more housing
    Four years down the track, an ambitious project to turn 50 hectares of land near Darwin into a multi million dollar housing estate, with economic spin offs for traditional owners, is reaping rewards. The Larrakia Development Corporation (LDC) emerged from a native title agreement signed between the Larrakia people and the Northern Territory Government in December 2001. The traditional owners agreed to waive their native title claim over some of the land starved prospective residential areas of Palmerston, including some community sporting clubs, in return for the right to purchase 50 hectares for $1.2 million.

  • QLD industrial estate leads to bigger things
    The success of a two year old agreement – which saw the development of a much needed industrial estate – has paved the way for further negotiations between the Flinders Shire Council and the Yirandali people of north western Queensland. In April 2003, the groups finalised an indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) allowing the transfer of 35 hectares of crown land into freehold for the creation of the Hughenden Industrial Estate and the transfer of two hectares of freehold land to the Yirandali people.
  • How the National Native Title Tribunal can assist
    The National Native Title Tribunal is the statutory authority that registers native title claims, mediates agreements about native title claims and land issues, and occasionally arbitrates between parties who cannot reach agreement. It is not a court and does not decide whether native title exists or not – it simply brings people together so they can explore ways to reach agreements about native title.
  • Talks pave the way for reconciliation
    Native title claimants in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia are sitting at the table with Local Government, following the establishment of a unique agreement which has laid the groundwork for reconciliation. In March 2004, the Nyikina and Mangala people and the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley signed the agreement setting out steps for negotiating native title issues as well as community concerns about the delivery of Local Government services.

  • Local Government and native title
    Local Governments, as significant land holders, will inevitably deal with native title issues, whether it be in providing information to the local community, responding to native title claims or undertaking development with native title interests in mind.
  • Wastewater for subsurface drip irrigation *
    The focus on water management through efficient irrigation is increasing in proportion to the drought conditions being suffered nearly Australia wide. All instrumentalities have been charged with the challenge of trying desperately to provide green playing fields and reserves while being seen to save water.
  • Wollongong cleans up with legal opportunities
    Wollongong City Council has introduced innovative ideas to tackle the problem of illegal graffiti and illegal ‘postering’ around the city. The task of removing unwanted graffiti often comes at a huge cost and inconvenience, something which Wollongong was gaining first hand experience with regarding their onsite construction caravans.
  • Leadership role for Local Government
    Native title is a key issue for Local Governments around Australia. Rural, remote and metropolitan councils are often parties to native title claims that cover areas of land for which Local Governments are responsible. They are also involved where future development is planned for areas where native title might exist, even if a native title claim has not been made.
  • Shading for all occasions *
    Quikshade is a portable shelter two people can easily erect in 60 seconds. In either a tent or marquee style, they are ideal for community festivals, sports days, childcare centres, in fact whenever shading is required. Developed in Lismore, Northern NSW in 1985, the company prides itself on delivering 20 years of experience in the portable shade business.
  • Optimism and growth from town upgrade
    Queensland’s Isis Shire Council has invested almost $3 million over the past six years in major upgrades of its parks, gardens and main street for its heritage listed and main town centre, Childers. Following a downturn in the local sugar industry, Council sought to bring more business to the region. Ideally situated on the Bruce Highway, Childers had the potential to attract visitors from neighbouring regional centres, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

  • Waratah Wynyard celebrates civic pride
    While every Tasmanian Council is obliged to prepare an annual report and hold an annual general meeting, Waratah Wynyard Council decided to do more. Council wanted more of its community to better understand the work of Local Government so it decided to create a situation where this could happen.
  • Regional employers benefit from the Skill Matching Database
    The Australian Government is committed to attracting skilled migrants to the regions in Australia where skills shortages exist. Regional migrant initiatives recognise the special circumstances of rural, regional and low growth areas, and help employers to source skilled employees when they are unable to fill positions locally. To assist with this, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) provides a range of migration programs and resources to help bring skilled migrants and regional employers together.
  • Town centre park builds community in Bonnyrigg
    Sydney’s City of Fairfield recently celebrated the completion of its Bonnyrigg Town Centre Park. The 14 hectare park, located adjacent to the Bonnyrigg CBD, was previously an undeveloped flood prone area. The new park has improved drainage in the area while providing a vibrant, shared open space and recreation area.
  • New Cable beach lifeguard
    Western Australia’s Shire of Broome has appointed Tim Trew as a full time beach inspector and lifeguard at its popular Cable Beach. As one of Australia’s most famous tourist beaches, Council employs one full time staff member and two casuals during the high season between April and October.
  • Rural access to health services
    Mid Murray, a rural Council in South Australia, is providing a service that larger regional and metropolitan Councils generally take for granted. Due to be completed in December, the Swan Reach Health and Community Services Centre is a $542,000 facility that will provide ready access to health and community services.
  • New skate park for Blackbutt
    Queensland’s Nanango Shire is one of the latest Councils to install one of Skateramps Australia’s new range of potable and fixed skate ramps. Nanango is a fast growing Shire located on the dividing range at the head of Brisbane Valley.
  • Playgrounds to suit all needs *
    Specialising in the entire project, from the play equipment to all site works, Playspace has been manufacturing playgrounds in Australia for ten years. Over this time it has established itself as a key player in the playground market in Australia and overseas.
  • Australian Sports Foundation gives $9.7m in grants
    Wellington Shire Council, the Shire of Halls Creek, Swan Hill Rural City Council and the City of Port Lincoln have more in common than being part of the Local Government network. All are registered with the Australian Sports Foundation Ltd (ASF).
  • Children’s services awarded high accreditation
    The Huon Valley outside school hours care program has recently undertaken its initial phase of accreditation assessment, resulting a high quality rating across all areas. The Cottage Child Care program has also scored a rating of high quality in its latest round of accreditation assessment.
  • Future directions in community services
    An interview with Mark Blackburn, Director Corporate and Community Services at Alice Springs Town Council.
  • Grants program pulls strings
    The Federal Government’s cultural grant program, Festivals Australia, has provided Bland Shire Council with $20,000 in funding. It will be used to bring Adelaide based group kneeHIGH Puppeteers to West Wyalong.


  • Turning up the heat on footpath trading
    The growing popularity of alfresco dining and indoor smoking restrictions has led to a proliferation of outdoor heaters. Portable outdoor heaters have created the need for Councils to strike a balance between the footpath trading needs of restaurants and pedestrian’s needs for safe, unobstructed access through public spaces.