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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-18 15:20:00
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28064" align="alignnone" width="300"] ALGA President Mayor David O'Loughlin.[/caption]

Mayor David O'Loughlin

Warnings in the Victorian Parliament this week about the financial struggles facing small rural councils should trouble us all.

Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) President Mary Lalios gave a gloomy but accurate assessment of smaller councils’ inability to deal with lower levels of Commonwealth funding and a 2 per cent cap on rate increases.

Similar concerns have arisen in my home state of South Australia, where the Liberal Opposition Party has said it will peg council rates if it wins government at the state election due next March.

NSW councils have laboured under rate capping since 1978, and last November were told by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (which sets the allowable rate increase) that they could increase their rates for the next financial year by no more than 1.5 per cent.

IPART said the 1.5 per cent figure was fair given low inflation and slow wage growth.

But as my colleague Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said at the time, IPART’s conclusions ignored the 1.8 per cent increase in CPI, the equivalent increase in employment benefits and non-residential building costs greater than 1.5 per cent. And he pointed out, rightly in my view, that the rage peg was “a financial noose which continued to tighten” around councils and local communities.

Yet surely it would be a brave observer who concluded that the Sydney market would be overly sensitive to rate rises when the same market is still growing despite the largest increase in property costs and rents in Australia in recent years. Yet there's no sign of an IPART equivalent seeking to intervene on rents or property prices.

Consider this: Sydney councils have been rate-pegged for the longest duration in the nation, and many of them now impose the highest developer charges in the nation for new homes. The Sydney market has the longest running housing supply shortfall and, as a direct consequence, the highest average rents in the nation. Perhaps it's just me, but in my mind, these factors are intrinsically linked.

What is wrong with Councils determining their own level of rates? After all, as the recent NSW council elections demonstrated, we are ultimately accountable to our voters, and if we get the balance wrong we risk being thrown out of office. It's a proven mechanism – it's called democracy.

Meanwhile, the well-intentioned but unelected IPART need never worry about facing the voters about the short and long-term impacts of rate pegging.

This week Cr Lalios told the Victorian Parliament that capital spending in small rural shires would decline by 30 per cent from 2016-20, with the three-year freeze in Financial Assistance Grants, the cancellation of the Country Roads and Bridges Program in 2105, and  the two per cent rate cap contributing substantially to that reduction.

The immediate consequences of rate capping, particularly for councils with limited access to other revenue like parking fees, fines and charges, are an increase in debt levels, a drop in service levels, or a combination of both.

Over the longer term, however, that’s unsustainable. The Commonwealth’s “efficiency dividends’’ show year-on-year budget cuts imposed on departments and agencies inevitably lead to reduced or cancelled public services. Why would Local Government be any different?

Councils have the narrowest revenue base of the three levels of government, yet the heaviest roads and infrastructure burden. Rate caps are the financial equivalent of a ball and chain. And it is ratepayers and local businesses who are hit hardest by truncated services, deteriorating infrastructure, and a lack of capacity to innovate and respond to emerging community needs.

Councils are already attempting to offset the double whammy of rate caps and lower Commonwealth funding by using collaborative procurement, improved asset management, and by developing cost-sharing partnerships and other options – but this may not be enough to change the fundamentals.

As I advocate for a return to sustainable federal funding, I am drawing a clear link to the call for an end to rates caps in favour of local decision-making. I make it clear that for every dollar councils are unable to raise locally, they will be looking for it elsewhere – with the Commonwealth a primary target.

Mayor David O’Loughlin is the president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

 
                    [post_title] => Small councils to go hungry
                    [post_excerpt] => Warnings about the financial struggles facing small rural councils should trouble us all.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-15 10:58:57
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                    [post_content] => 

Lake Macquarie City Council is moving to a new consolidated tender to maintain its facilities, which will streamline and improve the process while promising to give service providers clearer guidelines and increased contract security.

The council owns and manages about 400 buildings, facilities and natural assets, many of which are cleaned, maintained, and in some cases operated, by commercial contractors. The services provided include electrical and other trades, building maintenance, minor construction, data cabling, vegetation and pest management, waste management, cleaning and other specialist services.

Under the new system, opportunities to provide these services will be advertised under a single tender, Facilities Management Services (T1009), comprising 52 separate services within eight Service Supply Panels. Providers will be able to register online through Tenderlink to submit a tender.

“Council has a diverse range of contractors, and opportunities will continue to exist for suitably qualified and experienced service providers at all levels, from sole traders to large companies,” works coordinator Daron Kerr said.

“Service providers will be able to tender for one, multiple or all services, and some services may be awarded to more than a single tenderer.

“Lake Macquarie City Council is committed to supporting business across our City and region, and we encourage local businesses to consider participating in this tender process.”

Successful tenderers will be awarded contracts of three years, with two one-year options. This will offer the council’s service providers greater security and assist with their business planning.

The centralised tender will bring consistency to the council’s arrangements with contractors and improve safety, compliance and efficiency through the introduction of a performance management system.

All services currently provided by commercial suppliers will be included within the new tender. Services provided by council staff will continue to be delivered within the organisation.

 
                    [post_title] => LMCC introduces consolidated tender
                    [post_excerpt] => Lake Macquarie City Council is moving to a new consolidated tender to maintain its facilities.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-12 10:13:13
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                    [post_content] => 

Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) and Veolia Australia and New Zealand have opened the Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) facility at Woodlawn Eco-precinct in the town of Tarago, located 240 kilometres from Sydney, NSW.

Previously, the town of Tarago was home to the adjoining Woodlawn Mine site drilling for zinc, copper, lead, gold and silver.

For SSROC and its member councils this has been an almost 10-year journey from the initial concept to the delivery of a $100 million state-of-the-art MBT facility that in this financial year alone will save the six councils more than $9.5 million collectively.

President of the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) Inc., Cr Sally Betts said: “For SSROC and our councils, reducing the impact of our household waste is a priority, with Sydney-siders responsible for generating around 2,000 kg of waste per person. The new MBT facility is a cost effective and sustainable way of reducing the quantity of waste that ends up in landfill.”

The Woodlawn MBT facility will use cutting-edge resource recovery technology to produce compost to rehabilitate an on-site mine. Household municipal waste will be rotated in large drums along with air and water to separate compostable material from inorganic, recovering recyclables such as metals along the way. This process will divert 55% of household waste from landfill, transforming residual waste into clean heat for the on-site barramundi farm and green energy for the grid.

General manager of SSROC Namoi Dougall recognised the dedication of SSROC member councils to delivering value for money and sustainable solutions to their residents: “In NSW, our councils are paying a levy of $138 per tonne of municipal waste, so by diverting more than half of our waste from landfill we are estimating that the six participating councils will be saving ratepayers $9.5 million in the first year alone. It is a sign of the dedication and foresight of our councils, that we have worked to establish this project for nearly 10 years. This is a positive step in the way we process waste, and I look forward to the MBTs evolution over the coming years.”

The SSROC region is host to a newly established Veolia waste transfer terminal at Banksmeadow, which will transport containerised waste by rail to the new Woodlawn MBT facility. The use of rail, including the existing Clyde site, to transfer the waste will result in a reduction by around 30,000 heavy truck movements on Sydney’s already congested roads.

Veolia’s executive general manager - Eastern Region Danny Conlon said: “The facility will process 144,000T of waste per annum and will divert more than half of participating councils’ general waste tonnes away from landfill. Ten years of collaboration amongst a number of stakeholders, inclusive of SSROC, NSROC, state government and community members have led us to this end-result, and this partnership will enable Veolia to make a positive impact on the NSW Government’s diversion target of 70 per cent by 2021. This project will also save millions of dollars in waste levy charges for Sydney’s ratepayers and will additionally produce an organic compost to be used to rehabilitate Australian mining land, ultimately allowing us to give back to the nation’s people and communities.”

The collaboration with Veolia has generated over 50 jobs have between the Banksmeadow and Woodlawn facilities.


                    [post_title] => Sydney councils adopt new waste management technology
                    [post_excerpt] => SSROC and Veolia ANZ have opened an advanced Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) facility.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-11 14:15:30
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                    [post_content] => 

People Matter is an employee perception survey conducted by the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Local Government (UTS CLG). It is regularly conducted across state government public sectors and provides important information and insights for departments, organisations and sector stakeholders on workplace experiences and employee engagement.

Local government makes up almost 10% of the total public sector workforce in Australia. This research utilises a tailored version People Matter survey tool to gain feedback on employee experiences and perceptions of working in the local government sector.

Approximately 1,500 NSW local government employees responded to the anonymous survey from an estimated fifteen local government areas between December 2016 and April 2017. Research findings include the following from the local government employees who responded to the survey:
  • There is a strong understanding of what is expected from them of in terms of their role (86%) and respondents are highly enthusiastic when it comes to look for ways to perform their job better (95%). Employees who responded have a strong appreciation (87%) of how their position contributes to positive outcomes for their council and community.
  • While wellbeing is mostly perceived positively, unacceptable workloads (19%) and detrimental work stress (15%) is reported. A third of the respondents rate work-life balance as less than good.
  • There are positive perceptions of how their immediate workgroup or team works together (70%). There are some negative perceptions (14%) when it comes to rating ‘team spirit’.
  • In terms of performance and development, employees who responded are able to have open and honest conversation with their supervisors about the quality of work required (70%), although a proportion (39%) do not have a current performance plan that sets out objectives. There is a strong desire for career advancement (65%); however, there is dissatisfaction with opportunities for career progression or the merit system within their organisation (30%). Managing underperformance was one area that a significant proportion of respondents perceived in a negative light (27%).
  • There are mostly positive perceptions of managers with many managers being seen to encourage employee input (73%). However, a smaller number of managers are seen to consider this input when making decisions in the organisation (58%). Less than half of the respondents have positive perceptions of council senior managers. Demonstrating collaboration and leading change are perceived as being areas for improvement for senior executive teams.
  • Council organisations are rated well when it comes to understanding and building relationships with communities (79%). Whilst a large proportion of the respondents agree that councils are making the necessary improvements to meet challenges of the future (65%), a quarter perceives that change is not handled well. Most of the employees who responded (67%) would recommend their organisation as a great place to work.
  • The majority of respondents (85%) can see how diversity and inclusion in the workplace contributes to better business outcomes and feel able to voice different views to their managers and colleagues (70%). Gender and age are seen as a barrier to success within some of the respondents’ council organisations (8%-12%).
Download the report: People Matter for Local Government: Pilot NSW Survey, University of Technology Sydney. [post_title] => People matter for local government [post_excerpt] => Approximately 1,500 NSW local government employees responded to the latest People Matter employee perception survey. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => people-matter-local-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-11 14:26:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-11 04:26:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27998 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27993 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-11 12:56:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-11 02:56:20 [post_content] => City of Darebin council in the northern suburbs of Melbourne is implementing business process management software to enhance the council’s focus on improved frontline customer service. The City of Darebin has a population of more than 150,000. The council’s full-time employees are responsible for providing a broad range of services to the community, including street lighting and signage, waste collection, maintenance of parks and sporting facilities. The move follows a comprehensive review by the council of customer service team processes as part of a customer service model review to ensure that policies and procedures relevant to customer queries are close at hand. At the same time, the council wants to provide an easy and fast way for staff to access a central repository of everyday processes. The cloud-based software will enable the organisation to map, review and improve processes on an ongoing basis, providing a faster, smarter way to deliver a range of appropriate and well-planned services. Coordinator of council planning and performance, civic governance and performance Jim Barrett at the City of Darebin said: “The software will assist in supporting the council’s strategic framework for planning and document integration. At the same time, it will play a pivotal role in enabling us to maintain a high level of governance across the entire organisation. “These processes involve many forms and include applications such as planning permits and waste bin replacements, which individually can be complex procedures and involve several departments within the council.” It will also enable the council to measure and demonstrate process efficiencies following rate capping. “We came across the Promapp system through our council colleagues in the local government sector and also appreciated the benefit of access to its local government shared process library that will enable us to share knowledge and learn from the experience of other councils throughout Australia and New Zealand,” said Mr Barrett. The cloud-based process library includes over 2,500 processes developed and shared by councils and includes processes for activities such as building consents, resource consents, wastewater management, environmental health and environmental monitoring. “The software will easily integrate with our existing intranet and we'll be able to embed it ad hoc within specific processes for different policies as they are developed in the years ahead,” said Mr Barrett. “The council plans to use lean management methodologies as part of our deployment to analyse and improve processes on an ongoing basis. The result for council residents is that they will see consistency in messaging with faster, more accurate service,” said Mr Barrett.   [post_title] => City of Darebin to boost customer service [post_excerpt] => City of Darebin is implementing business process management to enhance its focus on customer service. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => city-darebin-boost-customer-service [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-11 12:56:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-11 02:56:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27993 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27968 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-08 09:21:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-07 23:21:52 [post_content] => Helen Masters Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones have been a source of concern for local governments and regulatory authorities. While there are restrictions on the use of drones in public spaces for recreation, councils have a strong business case on the benefits of using drones to maintain and manage public amenities and physical assets. Drone technologies work with Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software to deliver insights that go beyond basic maintenance and security activities. As local councils face tighter budgets, the biggest challenge is to have a hold of how facilities and assets that are spread over land, sea or in distant or awkward locations are performing. The synergy between drones and EAM helps improve the inspection process and allows councils to document asset conditions from public spaces such as parklands to building, facilities and infrastructure in an automated and more strategic manner. Brisbane City Council has demonstrated how drone images have been used to conduct inspections on council buildings, monitor wildlife populations in parks and to evaluate the potential for turf and event management. The use of drones will allow councils to assess if their public spaces will need pest or weed control in addition to regular maintenance work. Councils operating in regional or remote locations are often challenged with managing assets in places that may be difficult or dangerous to reach. At other times, these areas could be difficult to access such as the rooftop of building structures where machinery is situated. Instead of scaffolding and manually inspecting equipment on tall buildings, images from drones can provide technicians with valuable viewpoints and details about critical assets without having to physically attend to a site. Expanding the lifecycle of facilities and infrastructure requires monitoring performance and conducting preventative maintenance of each council asset. This is particularly important for critical infrastructure that cannot fall over such as security systems, drainage systems or public roads. With drones, the ability to deliver high-resolution imagery helps maintenance crews determine where to focus their attention and resources. Going beyond photographic images, drone technology can even supply infrared and x-ray images to detect structural issues or dangerous leaks in an environment that may be potentially unsafe for humans. These advancements ensure drones have an embedded role in facility management, fleet management and asset management by expanding the capabilities of field crews. Over time, physical inspections can be replaced with drones capturing historical images for real-time assessments. With the widespread adoption of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems in local council buildings, a drone with infrared thermal-imaging features can survey solar panels to identify damaged panels for maintenance. The use of drones alone only solves one part of the challenge faced by today’s asset managers. To achieve the most of this technology, data and imagery must be paired with a sophisticated asset management system that incorporates historical records, maintenance standards and other sensor information to assess conditions and determine maintenance requirements. This includes the identification of corrosion, detecting hairline cracks, spillages or leaks, to perform dilapidation assessments or land surveys. Data collected from each of these areas must be assessed and captured in real-time by a receiving asset management program. Asset managers would be able to cross-reference the condition of assets today in real time against the condition of assets from previous images or sensor readings. Through this process, they can determine the next course of action in the asset management lifecycle by comparing this data against manufacturing or industry standards. A comprehensive asset management strategy that includes drones for inspections provides a meaningful alternative strategy to traditional asset management. Such solutions have the ability to shift operations and maintenance processes from a reactive to proactive mode. Bringing drones, sensors and comprehensive asset management solutions together can help councils extend the useful life of their critical assets. As budgets and resources become increasingly scarce in local governments, drones could be the solution for councils looking to proactively manage their critical and valuable assets. Helen Masters is the vice president and managing director of Infor South Asia-Pacific and ASEAN. Footnote: US futurist Thomas Frey, speaking on the future of drones at the World of Drones Congress in Brisbane predicts there will be one billion drones worldwide by 2030 (in this he includes land- and water-based UAV as well).   [post_title] => Local councils and drones [post_excerpt] => Councils have a strong business case for using drones to maintain and manage public amenities and assets. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => getting-local-councils-board-drones [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-08 10:22:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-08 00:22:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27968 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27986 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-08 07:46:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-07 21:46:59 [post_content] => Brian Halstead The NSW Government has spent $360 million on grants to fund its council amalgamation program and $200 million more for communities in an aim to hide the fact that forced council mergers are financially failing. These figures are contained in government documents on local government reform and the new $200 million ‘Stronger Communities’ payouts in country and regional NSW. We believe these grants are political sweeteners to soften an electoral backlash against the state Coalition because of forced mergers. Following a ten-week study and research in response to savings being voiced by the Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton and publicity issued by the state Coalition, there appear to be serious unexplained shortfalls in most amalgamated council figures. As justification for NSW council amalgamations, the State Government promised surpluses for the first year (2017/18) of $82.3 million in metro councils and 20-year savings for regional and rural councils of $232million. We studied seven metro and 13 regional and country amalgamated councils. In metro councils, based on the councils’ 2017/18 proposed plans, deficits are forecast in total to be $1.3 million rather than the $82.5 million surplus the government promised in its proposals. The shortfalls on a comparable basis vary from $19 million in the new Inner West Council and $17.4 million in Cumberland, with many more councils in large shortfall territory. In the country and regions, Central Coast has a 20-year proposed savings figure of $115 million. In the council’s own 2017/18 forecast, the Central Coast has a deficit forecast of $8 million. In the 2017/18 general fund, Mid Coast Council will have a $15.4 million deficit, Queanbeyan $17.3 million, Snowy Monaro $4.4m, and Cootamundra nearly $2.5 million. The list of deficits goes on. One of the key benefits of amalgamated councils as claimed by the Baird/Berejiklian government was the expected improved financial performance compared with the previous stand-alone pre-amalgamated councils. The figures show the councils have failed miserably to deliver the surpluses promised by the State Government in the amalgamation proposals. The councils also fail in most cases to deliver the surpluses, that in total the individual councils committed to make standing alone or actually made three years earlier. Unless the amalgamated councils produce reconciliations with the government proposals, the overall amalgamated proposals will be seen to be a smoke and mirrors spin process supported by a secret KPMG Report. The amalgamations clearly appear not to be delivering the financial benefits promised. While we welcome the fact that the court proceedings in Sydney and in country and regional NSW have been withdrawn, we are still very concerned that many NSW councils are unable to deny amalgamations through legal proceedings. The communities must be given a say on whether the amalgamations that have taken place should be reversed as they are failing to deliver. Brian Halstead is an accountant, the author of the study and president of the Save Our Councils Coalition. [post_title] => Are merged councils financially secure? [post_excerpt] => A ten-week study and research has shown up shortfalls in some amalgamated council figures. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => merged-councils-financially-secure [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-08 10:53:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-08 00:53:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27986 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27932 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-29 10:19:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-29 00:19:44 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27933" align="alignnone" width="300"] Photo (L-R): Stewart Seal (The Hills Shire Council Manager of Forward Planning – Strategic Planning), Janelle Atkins (Hills Shire Council’s Acting Manger of Forward Planning – Strategic Planning, Maria Kovacic (Founder of Western Sydney Women and on the board of The Hills Community Aid), Julian Leeser MP, Mayor Yvonne Keane MP, Chris Johnson (CEO of Urban Taskforce), Councillor Ray Harty, Maria Scott of PAYCE, Michael Edgar (General Manager of The Hills Shire Council) and Stephen McIntyre (Chief Executive Officer of Wentworth Community Housing).[/caption] In a first for Local Government, Mayor of The Hills Shire Councillor Yvonne Keane has introduced a new planning model, the Transitional Housing Policy Framework, that recognises the importance of transitional housing and highlights the lack of current stock. The model encourages willing developers to provide a small number of transitional dwellings within new developments in return for an ‘uplift’ in development yield. The framework provides incentives to assist local government and other not-for-profit organisations provide a safe and temporary home for those escaping from domestic and family violence. It is different from social and affordable housing – see below for a detailed explanation. “For some time, I’ve been thinking of ways in which The Hills Shire Council might play a key role in delivering tools to help our community respond to domestic violence. We have a wonderful women’s shelter, The Sanctuary, but the missing link is transitional housing,” Mayor Keane said. “Transitional housing provides safe, comfortable and secure accommodation for women and their children to recover, re-build and make informed and empowered decisions about their lives and their future. “It is the essential ‘next-step’ towards real independence. Without it, a woman is faced with the possibility of returning to the cycle of violence. “The real beauty of this model is that it provides a mechanism to swiftly create a supply of transitional housing – and it does so at no cost to the community and the state and federal governments. “I am so enormously proud of the proposal to solve the transitional housing issue in The Hills and I am even more proud that it was unanimously supported by council,” Mayor Keane added.  CEO of Women’s Community Shelters Annabelle Daniel said moving on from domestic and family violence is a process that can take a number of years and the council’s Transitional Housing Policy Framework would help provide more homes to those seeking assistance. “Stable, affordable transitional housing, where women and children continue to receive support from people they trust, helps them enormously in building lives free from abuse,” Ms Daniel’s said.  “Supported accommodation, such as that encouraged by this proposal, will ensure women can focus on stability, opportunity and contribution, for themselves and for their children.” CEO of Wentworth Community Housing Stephen McIntyre welcomed the leadership of the council in responding to family and domestic violence and expanded on the important role that transitional housing can play to ensure its success. “This innovative policy will promote partnerships between property developers and community housing providers to provide much needed transitional housing, providing a safe home and pathway to future independence,” Mr McIntyre said. “The community housing sector is well regulated with annual compliance required against national standards. This means that providers like Wentworth are ideally suited to ensure the properties are professionally managed and that women and children are well supported during their transition period.” The model allows for transition dwellings to be provided in well-located and serviced areas at no direct cost to council, federal and state governments and the community. The planning proposal is currently being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment as part of the Gateway Process. Developers come on board The Transitional Housing proposal by The Hills Shire Council is fully supported by the developers’ body Urban Taskforce, as it has appropriate incentives to encourage developers. “The Council proposal is to encourage developers to provide a single apartment for a 10-year period by allowing two extra apartments above the current planning limits,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “This approach is similar to the Urban Taskforce proposal to providing affordable housing for a ten-year period through an uplift in floor space and height. The development industry can contribute subsidised housing over a ten-year period if the incentives for extra floor space are sufficient to make this economically viable.” “A number of Urban Taskforce members who are developing apartment projects in The Hills Shire Council area, including Sekisui, Mirvac, Aqualand, Dyldam and PAYCE, have expressed their support for the Transitional Housing proposal. Major developers like PAYCE have run the numbers over the proposal and believe it is a viable approach to help provide the subsidised housing that council is encouraging.” What is Transitional Housing? Hills Local Area Command reported that approximately five cases of domestic violence are reported per week within The Hills, which equates to up to 245 cases per year. While those cases are seen to by the local police, many more go unreported. As well as the immediate crisis, there are long term issues that need to be attended to when someone is put into this position – this can often involve having to leave their family home or worse their community, which can sometimes be quite difficult for the victim. Transitional Housing provides refuge and protection to those, particularly women and children, escaping from abhorrent scenes of domestic and family violence, and needing a temporary and secure place to stay. It is important that residents feel safe, comfortable and secure in their community so they can rebuild self-esteem and make empowered and informed decisions about their lives. Together, Mayor Yvonne Keane and The Hills Shire Council worked to create a potential mechanism to encourage and incentivise the provision of transitional housing within new residential development throughout The Hills. This mechanism proposes an additional clause to the Hills Local Environmental Plan 2012, and has been put forward to the Department of Planning and Environment for Gateway Determination. If agreed, this will enable further consultation with stakeholders and the community prior to being finalised. How does it work? For the policy to work effectively, the council decided that for a small portion of uplift in developments, particularly around the rail corridors, that an enormously large social issue could be solved. A floor space incentive was therefore suggested, where developers can have the opportunity to incorporate a small portion of transitional housing in their high density development. The provision ensures that it would facilitate only a moderate uplift in residential yield, to prevent unreasonable impact on surrounding residents. The incentive would be voluntary and would ensure that the developer retains the ownership of the transitional homes. The proposed provision will have the following characteristics:
  • The policy will only apply to residential flat buildings and shop top housing developments within the R4 High Density Residential, R1 General Residential or B4 Mixed Use zone;
  • The bonus floor space ratio will be available if the development includes a minimum of 50 dwellings (excluding ‘transitional group home dwellings’);
  • The bonus floor space shall not exceed 10 per cent of the maximum floor space ratio permitted on the site, up to a maximum of 900m2 gross floor area (capped regardless of the site area);
  • An additional 300m2 of gross floor area would be available for every ‘transitional group home’ provided, which would allow for two bonus dwellings (each with an average internal floor area of no less than 100m2 gross floor area) comprising:
  • One ‘transitional group home’ (to be used as a group home (subject to agreement with a suitable provider/s) and then returned to the developer after a period of use - potentially 10 years); and
  • Two standard dwellings above the yield otherwise achievable by the developer;
  • The maximum additional yield achievable within the bonus floor space will be nine dwellings (of which three would need to be a ‘transitional group home’);
  • The timing of the developer’s incentive is staged:
    • Upfront: two bonus (unrestricted) dwellings; and
    • After 10 years: one bonus dwelling (when use as a transitional dwelling has ceased).
The proposed provision has been prepared in consultation with service providers and the development industry. Where is it at? Transitional housing within The Hills was urged and supported by speakers Annabelle Daniel of Women’s Community Shelters, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Bilton from the Castle Hill Local Area Command, and Maria Kovacic from Hills Community Aid at the 25 July 2017 Council Meeting. Their feedback was that all possible mechanisms are to be viewed as the need for a safe community is paramount, and it is council’s responsibility to consider pathways to keep women and children safe. As a result of the overwhelmingly positive feedback from stakeholders and fellow councillors, a planning proposal is currently with the Department of Planning and Environment for Gateway Determination. Should a Gateway Determination be issued by the Department of Planning and Environment, the planning proposal will be exhibited for public comment. Council will then consider a post exhibition report and make a decision as to whether to progress the amendment to finalisation.   [post_title] => The Hills Shire Council pioneers Transitional Housing [post_excerpt] => The Hills Shire Council has introduced Transitional Housing into council policy. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hills-shire-council-pioneers-transitional-housing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-29 10:35:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-29 00:35:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27932 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27929 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-29 09:33:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-28 23:33:09 [post_content] => Yvonne Keane Martin Place’s recent tent city has highlighted the plight of homeless people in search of finding stable and lasting accommodation. Sadly, the face of homelessness is changing, with more and more women finding themselves without a home. A large proportion of this growing and vulnerable demographic are domestic violence survivors and their children. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, domestic violence makes women and children more susceptible to homelessness in two major ways: firstly, violence removes a sense of safety from the home; and secondly, escaping a violent situation requires the woman and her child/children to leave the family home. As a society we have been treating domestic violence and homelessness as two separate issues for too long now and I think it is time to ask ourselves the question: “Do our current established domestic violence and homelessness services really meet people’s current needs?” From my experience, the answer is ‘no’.  As the chairwoman of the board of a women's shelter in Sydney’s North-West, called The Sanctuary, I know that crisis shelters do meet a critical need for women and children who wish to escape unimaginable home lives. However, crisis accommodation – which is available for up to three months - only provides part of a solution in enabling the most vulnerable and at risk community members to live independent lives. And what of the many survivors who might never access a shelter? What about their struggle to find stable and long-lasting accommodation? And even if you are lucky enough to find safety and refuge at a shelter, you will still face the hard, painful next step in the process - finding housing that is safe, affordable and appropriate for you and your families. And so we find that survivors become caught up in an ongoing cycle of fleeing from and returning back to violence because of the lack of stable housing. It's what we call in the sector a 'barrier' that women face on the pathway to safety and independence.  For children, the trauma of frequent moves, topped off with unstable living environments continues the trauma of being exposed to situations of domestic violence. In my role as both mayor of The Hills Shire and chairwoman of The Sanctuary, I have many conversations with members of the community about domestic violence. I constantly hear the same question over and over again: “Why don’t women just leave?” Given the reality of housing affordability and the rising cost of living, this question pretty much answers itself. For some time now, I have been thinking of alternative solutions in which my council could play a role in delivering the resources required to help our community respond to women and children escaping unimaginable scenes of family violence. We have wonderful women’s shelters, and complementary wrap-around services, across the state and in The Hills, but the missing link is something called transitional housing. When I became mayor, I found myself in the perfect storm of opportunity. I came up with a way in which I thought that we might be able to help deliver vitally needed transitional housing to our community and along with key council staff, started to research how we could turn this idea into a policy. Transitional housing is different from affordable housing and from social housing. Transitional housing is the essential ‘next-step’ towards a life of real independence. It ultimately provides a safe, comfortable and secure place for society’s most vulnerable, to recover, re-build, thrive and make informed and empowered decisions about their lives. The aim of 'transitioning' is to help women to ultimately achieve wonderful and independent lives, not lives entirely dependent on social housing. And on Tuesday, 25 July 2017, The Hills Shire Council made history after my fellow councillors and I unanimously voted to implement the Transitional Housing Policy Framework.  Very simply, this framework will provide a supply of transitional housing in our community and do this at no cost to Council, rate payers or the government. Our innovative policy proposes a new provision in The Hills Local Environmental Plan 2012 which provides a capped bonus to encourage willing developers to provide transitional housing as part of new residential developments. The policy would allow a developer who meets the criteria, to build two additional dwellings for every transitional home provided. And we have capped the 'uplift' to a maximum of three transitional homes per development. While the numbers of transitional units would be relatively small in the overall scheme of things, the benefit it could provide for our most vulnerable could be enormous. The transitional homes would remain the property of the developer and would be managed by community housing providers or not-for-profit organisations, and would be returned to the developer after a set period of time. I am so enormously proud of this policy and I am even more proud that we will be the first council in the country to offer a new model for transitional housing and deliver it in such a way that there is no cost to the ratepayer. For me, this is a pinnacle achievement of my time as mayor and probably the most important thing I will ever do in my life. In NSW, the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward, has said that all ideas are on the table, and I hope to gain her support, and the support of NSW Cabinet to use this model to change the lives and futures of women and children across NSW as a starting point. It is my great hope that other councils will look at adopting my model – which delivers at no cost to them – as a way to genuinely solve the problems within their own communities. Even greater still, it is my hope that state and territory governments will look at this model and support its adoption as an effective solution across the country.  I have no doubt that this policy will change the lives and the futures of the most vulnerable in our community.  Investing in transitional housing for women leaving family and domestic violence makes sense. No one should ever have to choose between staying with an abusive partner or becoming homeless.  Councillor Yvonne Keane is the Mayor of The Hills Shire Council, Chair of the Board of the Sanctuary, sits on the NSW Women's Council for Economic Opportunity and is an elected Director of Local Government NSW. [post_title] => Why Transitional Housing? [post_excerpt] => Transitional Housing: the cooperative solution that could solve housing for the homeless. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => why-transitional-housing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-29 10:34:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-29 00:34:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27929 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27880 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-22 09:42:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-21 23:42:45 [post_content] => Commercial fitness operators will have to register with the City of Bendigo before operating in public parks. Following a six-month trial, the Greater Bendigo City Council has adopted a new Fitness Operators Policy for businesses that conduct commercial operations in local parks, gardens and sporting reserves. The new policy means commercial fitness operators will now need to obtain a permit to conduct their operations at local parks, gardens and reserves. City of Greater Bendigo active and healthy lifestyles manager Lincoln Fitzgerald said an increase in the number of commercial fitness operators in recent years had prompted the City to develop the policy. “The six-month trial conducted by the City relied on operators to voluntarily register their commercial activity, and for the industry to self-regulate compliance with limited support from City staff.  This was done to allow the trial to take place with no fees and to limit the costs associated with its enforcement,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “During the trial period, 13 businesses registered as regular providers and three as casual providers. However, the City understands there is a number of other fitness businesses operating on public land without permission and any regulation of their activities. “During and after the trial, the City consulted with those impacted by the policy including commercial fitness operators, class participants, park users and City staff responsible for maintaining the public space and enforcing the policy. “Overall, consultation supported a more regulated approach to ensure an equitable, protected, respected and consistent industry. “The City recognises that commercial fitness operators do provide a range of alternative physical recreation activities for residents that would otherwise not be available. However, the policy places conditions on the types of equipment and activities that can take place. “The aim of the new policy is to manage these activities in a manner that balances industry needs, provides protection of public built and natural assets and maintains community access and amenity to these facilities.” The new policy will be integrated within the review of the City’s Local Law Number 5 Municipal Places which is set to be reviewed late 2017.   [post_title] => The park is for the public [post_excerpt] => Commercial fitness operators will have to register with the City of Bendigo before operating in public parks. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-park-is-for-the-public [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-22 10:21:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-22 00:21:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27880 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27811 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-14 12:55:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 02:55:26 [post_content] => Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that the waste fiasco exposed in the ABC Four Corners report is a complex issue that will have wide-ranging implications for local governments. For those of us who care about the environment and the efficient recycling of Australia's household and industrial waste, the ABC's Four Corners program was troubling. The factors behind the mess Four Corners exposed on Monday may be complex – but we can play a powerful role in fixing them, if we choose to. Four Corners' revelations will undermine the public's confidence in Australia’s waste management systems and, in turn, confidence in their local Council and the amount of rates they are paying for recycling services. We know, however, that the vast majority of Local Governments across Australia manage their waste collection and recycling operations professionally and in an environmentally sustainable manner, after sustained improvements in policy and practice over decades. We also know that Australia's waste management system is subject to market forces, private practice and regulation that is outside the control of our sector, with cross-border differences exacerbating local issues. What also appears to be common is a failure of other levels of governments to effectively patrol the beat - to identify, penalise and stamp out individuals or companies conducting illegal dumping or other practices that undermine the industry as a whole. And, as the Four Corners program showed, the indiscriminate imposition or removal of state landfill levies create disincentives for recycling, and encourages illegal dumping. State government-imposed levies were originally well intended: to support recycling, to reduce waste going to landfills, to remediate landfill sites, and to educate consumers. Some of this has happened, but there is much more to do and the funds appear to be more and more difficult to access to achieve this. In the absence of sufficient leadership or discipline by others, how can Local Government get the results our communities increasingly expect and demand? We may not have regulatory powers, but what we do have is procurement power. Waste management is one of our largest areas of contracted services. We spend vast amounts of money in this area and we can choose how we spend it and who we spend it with. We can also choose our contract conditions, and how we will enforce those contract conditions. As a client, we can insist on the right to inspect and audit the services we contract, to confirm they are receiving and recycling as contracted, as we are paying them to do, and as we have told our communities we are doing on their behalf. The control and enforcement of our contracted services can be in our hands, if we choose it to be. In addition, if the issue is a lack of market demand for recycled products, or products containing recycled material, our procurement powers can also be used to choose and purchase these products in preference to others. In doing so we will be making a clear statement that we want to create a sustainable destination for recyclables - and that we are prepared to trial them, to use them, and to preference them. Sustainable and valuable recycling requires a circular economy. If we want the supply side to work, we should step up and be part of the demand side. As an elected member, if you care about recycling, have you checked your Council’s procurement policies? Have you asked if your road building specifications state a preference for recycled material, including glass and construction waste? Or that your posts, fences and benches should use recycled plastics? Are your paper sources all recycled? Are you prepared to ask your Council to trial new products to help create new markets? As per my recent column, ALGA will continue to do all we can on the national front to improve results, to better design product stewardship schemes and to keep Local Government at the table as part of the solution. You can do your part locally by checking your contracts, your reporting and enforcement practices, and by ensuring your procurement policies help and don't hinder the use of recyclables. In doing so, you should ask if your own Council would survive the level of scrutiny we witnessed on the television. Let's aim to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. [post_title] => The waste problem is a problem for all [post_excerpt] => The waste fiasco exposed in the Four Corners report will have wide-ranging implications for local governments. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => waste-is-all-our-problem [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-14 14:05:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-14 04:05:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27811 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27795 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-10 14:06:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-10 04:06:18 [post_content] => The Central Western Queensland Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) in July produced the Smart Central Western Queensland: A Digitally Enabled Community Strategic Plan. As part of that plan, the councils proposed an  Outback Telegraph, which involves the mayors of seven Central West Queensland councils, the RAPAD members. Outback Telegraph proposes to switch on public Wi-Fi in these remote areas. The plan is to roll-out free Wi-Fi by this group of councils - covering one-fifth of the state - to boost visitor numbers and business through technology. The first stage of the Outback Telegraph has been switched on by Winton Shire Council, with the smart tourism pilot a first for Queensland. When the network gets up and running it will be – in total council area – the biggest single public Wi-Fi network in Australia. The Queensland Government contributed $15,000 to jumpstart the pilot, and Winton Shire Council is also pitching in. RAPAD will fund the extension of the Outback Telegraph smart tourism platform to all key centres in the region, reaching some of the most remote communities in the state. Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said: “This is about driving opportunities and using the power of digital connectivity to tell the world about outback Queensland. “Providing more opportunities to go online and do research on-the-go and share pictures and stories will be good for tourists and trade in small rural towns. I congratulate Winton Shire Council for taking the ground-breaking steps to provide free public Wi-Fi in the outback, and government officers in Rockhampton and Brisbane who worked with councils to make it happen.” RAPAD board member and Mayor of Barcoo Shire Council, Bruce Scott said the next stage of the regional Wi-Fi network will add more locations, including Longreach, Barcaldine and Windorah. “A single sign-on for the Central West means visitors won’t have to re-enter their details as they move around, making it much more convenient to stay connected during their travels,” he said. “This is the first step towards making the Central West a smart region, where technology supports important local industries like tourism, and makes our communities better connected and more liveable.” Winton Mayor Cr Butch Lenton acknowledged the pulling power of public Wi-Fi. “It will be a magnet to people with mobile devices who are a long way from their family and friends and travelling around the countryside,” he said. “Connectivity is essential to running businesses in rural Queensland, and for travellers, and I’m proud our council is pioneering a terrific project that is crossing new boundaries.” Visitors will be able to connect to the network through the Outback Telegraph app, which will be available from Google and Apple in coming days. The mobile app can also interact with smart beacons placed around town, allowing the user to access additional information about local businesses, receive a coupon or special offer; and guide them on discovery walks. Mayor Lenton said Winton Shire Council is collecting tourism statistics from the free Wi-Fi to show how visitors are moving through the region and where they are and are not stopping. “We can build stronger businesses with this data. Winton has a rich history that includes the Great Shearers’ Strike, Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda, Qantas, and a dinosaur stampede, and also opal fields and a wide variety of animals and bird life in the area," he said. “Free Wi-Fi can help us share our stories, history and visitor experiences on social channels to entice more tourists and encourage them to stay longer once they’re here,” he said. The Outback Telegraph will be showcased at this week’s Bush Councils Convention in Charters Towers, with RAPAD also hoping to hold an upcoming ‘hacking’ event for the Central West to come up with ideas leveraging the regional Wi-Fi, app and beacons. [post_title] => RAPAD to deliver WiFi to outback councils [post_excerpt] => The Outback Telegraph proposes to switch on public Wi-Fi in many of Queensland's remote areas. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => rapad-deliver-wifi-outback-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:05:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:05:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27795 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27804 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-10 09:12:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-09 23:12:50 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27806" align="alignnone" width="300"] Photo courtesy of SBS.[/caption] Cristy Clark, Southern Cross University The New South Wales state government has passed legislation empowering police to dismantle the Martin Place homeless camp in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. This follows similar actions in Victoria, where police cleared a homeless camp outside Flinders Street Station. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle proposed a bylaw to ban rough sleeping in the city. In March, the UN special rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, censured the City of Melbourne’s actions, stating that:
"… the criminalisation of homelessness is deeply concerning and violates international human rights law."
As the special rapporteur highlighted, homelessness is already “a gross violation of the right to adequate housing”. To further discriminate against people rendered homeless by systemic injustice is prohibited under international human rights law.
Further reading: Ban on sleeping rough does nothing to fix the problems of homelessness

Real problem is lack of affordable housing

In contrast to her Melbourne counterpart, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore had been adopting a more human-rights-based approach to resolving the challenges presented by the Martin Place camp. After negotiating with camp organisers, Moore made it clear her council would not disperse the camp until permanent housing was found for all of the residents. As she pointed out:
"You can’t solve homelessness without housing — what we urgently need is more affordable housing and we urgently need the New South Wales government to step up and do their bit."
It’s no secret that housing affordability in both Sydney and Melbourne has reached crisis point. And homelessness is an inevitable consequence of this. But we have seen little real action from government to resolve these issues. The NSW government has been offering people temporary crisis accommodation or accommodation on the outskirts of the city. This leaves them isolated from community and without access to services. In contrast, these inner-city camps don’t just provide shelter, food, safety and community; they also send a powerful political message to government that it must act to resolve the housing affordability crisis. Having established well-defined rules of conduct, a pool of shared resources and access to free shelter and food, the Martin Place camp can be seen as part of the commons movement. This movement seeks to create alternative models of social organisation to challenge the prevailing market-centric approaches imposed by neoliberalism and to reclaim the Right to the City.
Further reading: Suburbanising the centre: the government’s anti-urban agenda for Sydney

We should be uncomfortable

It is not surprising that right-wing pundits have described these camps as “eyesores” or that they make NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian “completely uncomfortable”. The breach of human rights these camps represent, and the challenge they pose to the current system, should make people uncomfortable. Unlike most comparable nations, Australia has very limited legal protections for human rights. In this context, actions like the Martin Place and Flinders Street camps are one of the few options available to victims of systemic injustice to exercise their democratic right to hold government to account. In seeking to sweep this issue under the carpet, both the City of Melbourne and the NSW government are not only further breaching the right to adequate housing, they are also trying to silence political protest. It is clear from Moore’s demands, and the NSW government’s own actions, that the Martin Place camp is working to create pressure for action. What will motivate the government to resolve this crisis once the camps have been dispersed? As Nelson Mandela argued in 1991 at the ANC’s Bill of Rights Conference:
"A simple vote, without food, shelter and health care, is to use first-generation rights as a smokescreen to obscure the deep underlying forces which dehumanise people. It is to create an appearance of equality and justice, while by implication socioeconomic inequality is entrenched. "We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom. We must provide for all the fundamental rights and freedoms associated with a democratic society."
Mandela’s words were hugely relevant to apartheid South Africa, where a ruling elite had established a deeply racist and unjust system that linked political disenfranchisement and material deprivation. But they also resonate today in Australia where inequality is on the rise – driven in large part by disparities in property ownership. The ConversationHomelessness is a deeply dehumanising force that strips people of access to fundamental rights. The policies that are creating this crisis must be seen as unacceptable breaches of human rights. We need to start asking whether our current economic system is compatible with a truly democratic society. Cristy Clark, Lecturer in Law, Southern Cross University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Clearing homeless camps will make the problem worse [post_excerpt] => "You can’t solve homelessness without housing." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => clearing-homeless-camps-will-make-problem-worse [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:22:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:22:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27804 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27754 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 08:55:38 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27755" align="alignnone" width="287"]
Cr Jennifer Alden, Craig Lloyd and Cr Andrea Metcalf (L-R).[/caption] Recent audits of local waste and recycling bins have shown that Greater Bendigo residents are still sending significant amounts of recyclables straight to landfill by placing many items that could be recycled into their waste bins. In an effort to improve recycling rates, the City of Greater Bendigo has launched a new community education Sort it out before you throw it out! advertising campaign. The campaign will provide useful information about the items that residents are currently not recycling to make them aware that they can. It will utilise television, radio, print, social media and signage to encourage residents to think about and improve the way they sort their waste, organics and recycling. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets director Craig Lloyd said the City’s recent waste bin audits showed that 40% of the contents of local waste bins should have been placed in the recycling bin while 22 per cent could have gone in the organics bin. “The audit is backed up by State Government figures that place Greater Bendigo in the bottom 50 per cent of Victoria’s 79 local government areas for waste resource recovery,” said Mr Lloyd. “Unfortunately, many Greater Bendigo residents are still placing recyclables such as paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cans, plastics and organic garden and food waste in their red lid waste bin. “Objects that can be recycled are a valuable resource and the cost of sending waste to landfill will continue to rise so the more we recycle and the less we send to landfill the better. “Greater Bendigo wants to become one of, if not the best, local government area for resource recovery in the future. “Many people may be surprised to learn that Greater Bendigo residents are not very good at recycling and we want to see this change for the better in the near future.” Results from the audit:-
  • The average residential red lid waste bin contains 40% recyclable items, 22% organics and 38% actual waste.
  • The recyclable materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.
  • The organic materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly grass clippings and leaves, general food waste and food in packaging.
  • The average residential recycling bin contains 9% contamination. This is comprised of 5.3% general waste and 3.7% of materials such as clothing, crockery and scrap metal that cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling collection.
  • The average organics bin contains 2% contamination. This is comprised of 1% general waste and 1% recyclables such as glass, plastics and metals.
  [post_title] => Recycling audit hopes to educate [post_excerpt] => City of Greater Bendigo has launched a community recycling education campaign. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => recycling-audit-hopes-educate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-03 08:55:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27754 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28061 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-18 15:20:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-18 05:20:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28064" align="alignnone" width="300"] ALGA President Mayor David O'Loughlin.[/caption] Mayor David O'Loughlin Warnings in the Victorian Parliament this week about the financial struggles facing small rural councils should trouble us all. Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) President Mary Lalios gave a gloomy but accurate assessment of smaller councils’ inability to deal with lower levels of Commonwealth funding and a 2 per cent cap on rate increases. Similar concerns have arisen in my home state of South Australia, where the Liberal Opposition Party has said it will peg council rates if it wins government at the state election due next March. NSW councils have laboured under rate capping since 1978, and last November were told by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (which sets the allowable rate increase) that they could increase their rates for the next financial year by no more than 1.5 per cent. IPART said the 1.5 per cent figure was fair given low inflation and slow wage growth. But as my colleague Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said at the time, IPART’s conclusions ignored the 1.8 per cent increase in CPI, the equivalent increase in employment benefits and non-residential building costs greater than 1.5 per cent. And he pointed out, rightly in my view, that the rage peg was “a financial noose which continued to tighten” around councils and local communities. Yet surely it would be a brave observer who concluded that the Sydney market would be overly sensitive to rate rises when the same market is still growing despite the largest increase in property costs and rents in Australia in recent years. Yet there's no sign of an IPART equivalent seeking to intervene on rents or property prices. Consider this: Sydney councils have been rate-pegged for the longest duration in the nation, and many of them now impose the highest developer charges in the nation for new homes. The Sydney market has the longest running housing supply shortfall and, as a direct consequence, the highest average rents in the nation. Perhaps it's just me, but in my mind, these factors are intrinsically linked. What is wrong with Councils determining their own level of rates? After all, as the recent NSW council elections demonstrated, we are ultimately accountable to our voters, and if we get the balance wrong we risk being thrown out of office. It's a proven mechanism – it's called democracy. Meanwhile, the well-intentioned but unelected IPART need never worry about facing the voters about the short and long-term impacts of rate pegging. This week Cr Lalios told the Victorian Parliament that capital spending in small rural shires would decline by 30 per cent from 2016-20, with the three-year freeze in Financial Assistance Grants, the cancellation of the Country Roads and Bridges Program in 2105, and  the two per cent rate cap contributing substantially to that reduction. The immediate consequences of rate capping, particularly for councils with limited access to other revenue like parking fees, fines and charges, are an increase in debt levels, a drop in service levels, or a combination of both. Over the longer term, however, that’s unsustainable. The Commonwealth’s “efficiency dividends’’ show year-on-year budget cuts imposed on departments and agencies inevitably lead to reduced or cancelled public services. Why would Local Government be any different? Councils have the narrowest revenue base of the three levels of government, yet the heaviest roads and infrastructure burden. Rate caps are the financial equivalent of a ball and chain. And it is ratepayers and local businesses who are hit hardest by truncated services, deteriorating infrastructure, and a lack of capacity to innovate and respond to emerging community needs. Councils are already attempting to offset the double whammy of rate caps and lower Commonwealth funding by using collaborative procurement, improved asset management, and by developing cost-sharing partnerships and other options – but this may not be enough to change the fundamentals. As I advocate for a return to sustainable federal funding, I am drawing a clear link to the call for an end to rates caps in favour of local decision-making. I make it clear that for every dollar councils are unable to raise locally, they will be looking for it elsewhere – with the Commonwealth a primary target. Mayor David O’Loughlin is the president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).   [post_title] => Small councils to go hungry [post_excerpt] => Warnings about the financial struggles facing small rural councils should trouble us all. 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