September 2005 Edition

  • Inaugural conference on community and leisure facilities
    More than 360 people attended Australia’s first ever community and leisure facilities conference in Melbourne in August. It attracted representatives from Local Governments throughout Australia. The Better Facilities - Stronger Communities conference was co hosted by the City of Whittlesea and the Department for Victorian Communities.

  • Book now for IT2005
    The 8th Information Technology Conference for Local Government – IT2005, will be held on 15–18 November in beautiful Coffs Harbour. Hosted by Coffs Harbour City Council, this conference provides a forum for Local Government managers and support staff to network, learn and exchange ideas.
  • Community connection the key
    The Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) held its annual Local Government Week Convention in Perth from 6–9 August 2005.
  • Melville students value add to their community and environs
    Students from Murdoch College in Melville, Western Australia are helping to restore a local river reserve and assist in the growth of trees in the area through a volunteer program established by the Melville Volunteer Resource Centre.
  • Coorong’s good food program
    South Australia’s Coorong District Council surveyed local residents and passing tourists, finding there is a growing demand for healthy and nutritious foods. Through its Good Food on the Road project Council has recognised and accredited outlets which offer good food choices and have assessed the nutritional value of their menus.
  • Climate for change in Queensland
    In spite of a consensus from both State and Local Government speakers that Queensland Councils are in quite good shape, the theme for its 109th annual conference, ‘Climate for Change’, indicates that the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) recognises that nothing ever stands still.
  • National Riverprize for excellence in river management
    Bulimba Creek Catchment Association has taken out the 2005 National Thiess Riverprize awarded for excellence in river management. The prestigious $50,000 Riverprize is awarded each year to an outstanding Australian river or catchment restoration project.
  • Japan embraces enterprise zones
    The Good Oil by Rod Brown *
    At a time when many rural regions are grappling with how to deal with agglomeration effects drawing investment and jobs to the cities, it is refreshing to see that Japan is implementing strategies to ameliorate the problem. Treasury dominated bureaucracies elsewhere see such initiatives as picking winners or distorting the market. One of our readers has alerted us to the Japanese approach, as follows.
  • 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
  • Greater work participation for Indigenous Australians
    The 2005 National Reconciliation Forum will be staged in Kalgoorlie from 25–27 October. Following the very successful inaugural forum in 2004, this year’s forum will consider ways to maximise employment and training opportunities for Indigenous people.
  • Councillor profiles
    A regular feature, this month we feature a Councillor from Western Australia.
  • Celebrating the arts in the Outback
    The Shire of Cue in Western Australia has celebrated recent success in promoting its heritage and encouraging involvement in the arts through Qfest, its annual Outback Festival. The town, which has a population of just 400, was the winner in the Arts and Heritage Category of the 2004 National Awards for Local Government.

  • Relocating history in Launceston
    Launceston City Council has transformed an old railway site into the new location for its Community History Centre. Opened in July, the centre houses 1,800 metres of shelf space. Collections include boxed photographs, manuscripts, cabinets of oversize materials, mobile storage for framed works and oral history cabinets. The Community History Centre is the major archival resource in Northern Tasmania for historical research.
  • Striving for just communities
    The Local Government Community Services Association of Australia National Conference, Just Communities, will be held on the 25–28 of October 2005 at Hilton on the Park, Melbourne. The conference will focus on wellbeing and the concepts of active citizenship, links between local democracy, good governance, civic engagement and community empowerment, human rights, cultural vitality, community planning, and health and leisure.
  • President’s comment
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Warren Maloney, President of the Victorian Local Governance Association.
  • Infrastructure, services, lifestyle LG engineers meeting the challenges
    Over 500 engineering professionals from Councils across Australia attended the 2005 International Public Works conference staged in Adelaide from 21–25 August. With the theme Infrastructure, Services, Lifestyle, in terms of delegates this year’s conference was the largest to date. Staged every second year by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA), some 80 papers and various keynote addresses covered the challenges and current trends impacting engineers, their Councils and communities.

  • Editorial - The growing skills shortage
    We are all well aware that with the increasing retirement of baby boomers not only are we faced with an ageing community but a shrinking labour market and a skills shortage. Demographic changes over the past two or three decades, particularly our falling birthrate, means there is now a shortage of people to fill the vacancies as older workers retire. Added to this, the lure of seachange and early retirement is still strong and well. The net result is the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years, a rate many of us thought would never be achieved again. However, alongside this euphoria is a rapidly increasing skills shortage.

Feature: Training & Development

  • What’s happening nationally to improve Indigenous road safety?
    The National Road Safety Strategy 2001–2010 recognises that road safety for Indigenous people is a particular concern. The estimated road death rate for the indigenous population is about three times higher than that of the non indigenous population. The National Road Safety Action Plan for 2005 and 2006 calls for local consultation and action strategies to identify and put in place local initiatives to improve road safety outcomes for Indigenous people. These local initiatives will complement broader road safety measures in the Action Plan that aim to improve road safety for all Australians.

  • Skilled Regional Migration programs
    Regional Profile – Riverina region, ROO: David Lane

    Regional Outreach Officer, David Lane, enjoys working with the Riverina business community, raising awareness and understanding of the skilled regional migration programs. David works in the ACT and Regions Office of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), promoting the benefits of regional migration to potential employers.
  • New report
    Interactions between feral cats, foxes, native carnivores and rabbits in Australia

    The success of feral animal control operations aiming to benefit native species can be affected by interactions between pest species, and between pests and native species. Through the Australian Government’s $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust, the Department of the Environment and Heritage is working to develop and implement coordinated actions to reduce damage caused by feral animals to the natural environment.
  • The Wellingtonne Challenge
    The people of Wellington, a small town in mid western New South Wales, developed a creative way of tackling the problems of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in their community. They called it the ‘WellingTONNE Challenge’. Of the 9,200 residents of Wellington, around 2,400 were considered overweight, so the challenge was for local residents to collectively lose a tonne in weight.

  • 20 year database helps understand local economies
    Hard data on historical trends in local economic activity is now available directly from the internet. The recent release of a new 20 year database by the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) provides Local Government with a new tool which will underpin local research and planning and provide insight into each Council’s recent economic history.

  • Regional partnerships supporting communities
    Supporting regional communities in developing solutions to the challenges they face is the core philosophy underlying the Australian Government’s approach to regional development. The Regional Partnerships programme is one of two key programmes that put this philosophy into effect.
  • Business.gov.au redevelopment
    The new and improved business.gov.au was launched by the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, the Hon Fran Bailey MP, on 7 June 2005 at Parliament House Canberra. Represented in the 200 strong crowd were business enterprise centres, small business field officers, business.gov.au syndication partners and business owners and operators, including several who feature in the new business.gov.au promotional material.

  • Building capacity of QLD Councils in natural resource management
    In recent years, the Australian and State Governments have initiated a substantial program of environmental reforms to provide for sustainable natural resource management (NRM). Initiatives include new approaches to sustainable land, vegetation and water management.
  • Message from the Minister
    This is a timely opportunity for me to cover a number of important issues and various changes impacting on Local Government which have occurred over the last few months at the Australian Government level. These include the appointment of a new Minister for Transport and Regional Services - the Hon Warren Truss MP, the tabling of the Government’s response to the Hawker Report, the recent meeting of the Local Government and Planning Ministers’ Council and the category award winners of the 2005 National Awards for Local Government.
  • Nillumbik’s cross organisational management program
    Seventeen staff from Victoria’s Nillumbik Shire recently completed Council’s Frontline Management Program. Graduates from the program obtained a Diploma of Business after attending a six day program on business management and leadership skills provided by Proteus Education and Training.
  • LGAT assists careers in Local Government
    The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) is providing bursaries for study at the University of Tasmania to Local Government employees in Tasmania and their dependants. Three bursaries are offered each year to the value of $1,500 per year, for two years.
  • Building remote communities requires action *
    Growing demands placed on local Councils and resource centres in remote areas is highlighting a need to take a fresh look at building capacity among management as well as elected members. In many remote communities, the range of services delivered by one individual organisation or Council can exceed those delivered by the municipal Councils. As a result of location, many communities struggle to recruit and retain qualified staff for key roles.
  • GoGrad – targeting graduates as potential employees for Local Government
    With up to 60 per cent of Local Government employees between the ages of 35 to 55 years, and an under representation of young people in the sector, the need to attract and retain talent, particularly in rural and regional areas is becoming more and more apparent. To address this, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) launched GoGrad, the Victorian Local Government Graduate Program in 2004.
  • Mediation – a simple strategy in conflict resolution
    When conflict arises between staff, with stakeholders or ratepayers many managers and team leaders hope and pray it will just go away. It rarely does. All too frequently we see examples of minor conflicts blowing up and causing major productivity and morale problems for individuals and organisations.
  • Lending a helping hand
    Maryborough City Council is reaching out to the troubled Solomon Islands as a way of helping those in need and also to say thanks for the past. It is estimated around 13,000 Kanakas were brought to Queensland through the Port of Maryborough between 1867 and 1904 to labour in the cane fields. Many of those came from the Solomon Islands.

  • Training video assists Meals volunteers
    The Hume Region Food Services Group has joined with the Victorian Department of Human Services to create what they believe to be the first ever training video for Meals on Wheels volunteers. Meals on Wheels – a delivery guide for volunteers has been distributed throughout the Hume region in Victoria’s north east, which comprises 12 local Councils.
  • Addressing skills shortage LG national conference
    23–25 November, Sydney
    With skill shortages a problem for all Councils, the 2005 Local Government National Human Resources Conference is a great opportunity to network, professionally upskill and keep abreast with trends. The conference will be held from 23–25 November at Stamford Plaza, Double Bay, Sydney.
  • APS Benefits – 100 years of family support
    After starting as a funeral fund for Melbourne postal workers in 1905, membership of APS Benefits today offers a range of financial services and is open to all people from three levels of government as well as the Defence Forces.
  • Tailored training *
    Provision of training, or more specifically, the lack thereof, is currently often cited as the cause for skill shortages or the main reason for staff’s dissatisfaction with a job role. In today’s global economy, it is vital for organisations and individuals to continually develop their skills and industry knowledge to remain motivated and competitive.
  • Keeping Councils up to code
    Dubbo City Council, located in central New South Wales, recently ran Council wide education and awareness programs to raise the understanding of responsibilities under the Dubbo City Council Code of Conduct.
  • Scholarships provide vital skills for Indigenous youth
    The West Australian Department of Local Government and Regional Development is providing vital skills to Indigenous youth through its Young Indigenous Local Government Scholarship program. The program, launched in November 2003, has already provided 16 young Indigenous people with a 12 month placement in Local Government.

  • Kit prepares Councils for terrorism
    The release of a Counter Terrorism Risk Management Kit late last year has prepared Queensland Councils to play key roles in managing the consequences of any terrorist acts within their jurisdictions. The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) developed the kit in partnership with the Departments of Premier and Cabinet Emergency Services and the Queensland Police Service.
  • Future directions in training and development
    An interview with Jacqui Leach, Human Resources Service Unit Partner at Blue Mountains City Council, NSW
  • AEC Systems training for Council staff *
    With offices in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, AEC Systems is Australia’s largest Autodesk Authorised reseller. This enables Council staff across the nation, who are involved in engineering and civil design, asset management, mapping and GIS to take advantage of being trained by AEC’s experienced, hands on and qualified staff.
  • Citizen to Councillor seminars assist perspective candidates
    People in Victoria’s north east considering running for Council elections later this year, and uncertain about what is required or how to go about it, were invited to an information seminar held on 7 September. With elections scheduled for 26 November 2005, prospective candidates in three neighbouring Councils, Indigo, Alpine and the Rural City of Wangaratta, attended.
  • Certified training boosts careers
    Queensland’s Dalby Town Council will improve its services over the next five years through an extensive staff training program.Council aims to deliver exceptional levels of customer service to the community and improve its organisational leadership, business performance and asset management. This will be achieved by providing employees with training to improve their skills along with a certified qualification.

  • UNE Partnership’s frontline management trainee named Regional Trainee of the Year
    Melanie Dowell of BEST Employment in Inverell is the winner of the Regional Trainee of the Year Award for the New England northwest region of NSW. Melanie received her award recently at the NSW Regional Training Awards gala ceremony in Tamworth.