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A scene from the new smartphone app Magical Park.

 
Local councils in Australia and New Zealand and an NZ games developer have hit upon a brilliant way to use mobile phones to draw children to play in urban parks again.

A new free smartphone app has unleashed the augmented reality game Magical Park, targeted at kids aged six to 11, which encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park.

In the game children can interact with fairies, dragons, kittens, dinosaurs and aliens and complete missions, like finding dinosaur eggs, using their phone or tablet camera.

The game is positioned in a selected large, flat park space in the shape of a virtual circle, which holds the game content kids can play.

The idea was born during last month’s Parks Week celebrations, where 47 Australian councils and 19 NZ councils put their heads together to find a way to kick kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, interacting with their families at the same time.



The project is a partnership between The Parks and Leisure Australia, the New Zealand Recreation Association and Kiwi game developer Geo AR Games.

Magical Park attracted over 24,000 park visitors during Parks Week, with an average of 1069 number of game sessions played per day and participants running an average of 1.45km per game.

Families across Australia and New Zealand spent more than 1,200 hours playing Magical Park together.

Councils pay a subscription fee for the app, which is geo-located to a specific park. The app will only open in a designated park area. The families find out about the app via the council or through signs put up in the park by their council.

The hotspots for gaming activity were Heywood Park in Unley, Perth; the Wilson Botanic Garden in the City of Casey, Melbourne and Westward Park in Clarence Valley Council in NSW.

Teresa Turner, New Plymouth District Council’s Recreation and Culture Manager, praised the app.

“I think what really appealed was that families could do this together – parents and kids both could hunt for dinosaurs and fairies and swap stories about their experiences after.”

GEO AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz said: “Augmented reality is a powerful tool to get kids engaged and we have had a lot of queries from schools, who would like us to develop educational content.

“We have another product on our road map, which will eventually allow kids to upload their own 3D models and build their own worlds and games to share with their friends in their local park.”

Brian Eales, Principal from the Clive Primary School in New Zealand voted the trial a success.

“Magical Park opens up a whole new dimension for children linking the engaging world of devices and the great outdoors.

“It allows for the creative use of devices and mathematical concepts while maintaining physical activity. It can strengthen the tuakana teina relationship when older students work with young students.”

 



 

Sue Wilson, Assistant Principal from the Pomaria Primary School in Henderson, Auckland agreed it had had a positive effect on children’s learning, increasing in both writing and oral language skills.

While some councils are looking at bringing Magical Park back for the school holidays, permanent Magical Parks are set up in Heywood Park in the City of Unley and Rhodes Park in Kwinana.

Magical Park is the second augmented reality app from Geo AR Games. The company also developed Sharks in the Park, which brought an underwater world to kids in parks across New Zealand in 2016.

For more information visit www.magicalpark.net

Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.        
                    [post_title] => Move over Pokemon, new app draws kids to urban parks
                    [post_excerpt] => Local councils use Magical Park.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_26950" align="alignnone" width="350"] Is the party over for Airbnb in NSW before it even began? NSW government says slow down. [/caption]

 

 

After three public hearings, 212 submissions and a parliamentary report the NSW government has announced it is not yet ready to make a decision about how to regulate short-term holiday letting through online booking services like Airbnb and Stayz.

Instead, the NSW government will conduct a ‘broad consultation’ with the public and the short-term accommodation industry, including bed and breakfasts and hotels, before publishing an options paper next month.

The options paper, which the Departments of Planning and Environment and Fair Trading will also contribute to, will explore land use and planning issues and strata management concerns, including the impact on the lives and safety of existing residents.

This morning’s announcement (Thursday) was in response to an October 2016 report by the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment on the best way to regulate the explosion of short-term accommodation letting and the continued rise of Airbnb in the state.

The report recommended the government make it easier for homeowners to rent out a whole or part of their house and for it to adopt a light regulatory touch.

This approach included relaxing state planning laws so that local councils could class short-term letting as exempt development, providing it did not have excessive impact on other residents.

But the government offered only ‘qualified support’ to the committee’s recommendations, stating they needed further consideration and more public consultation.

It has been slow going. After submissions closed in November 2015 there were three public hearings between March and May 2016 followed by the final report on October 19, 2016 and the government’s response six months later.

NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said it was too complicated and divisive an issue to rush.

“It’s no surprise that NSW and Sydney are highly sought after destinations for international and domestic visitors, however, we must find a balance between providing options for accommodation and residents being able to go about their daily lives. This will support the best environment for residents and visitors so that it is a great destination,” Mr Roberts said. 

“The inquiry recommendations make sense, but the regulation of short-term letting needs broader engagement with the industry and the community to establish a model that enables it to continue to flourish and innovate whilst ensuring the amenity and safety of users and the wider community are protected.  

“It's sensible to take time on a complex issue like this, which is why we are releasing an options paper next month.”

The government supported the report’s recommendations around communicating with councils and residents any changes and that councils take the lead on informing landowners about their rights and duties.

Also supported was giving owners’ corporations more powers to respond to any negative consequences of short-term lets in their buildings, through amending strata regulations.

NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said the government would concentrate on finding common ground to address the concerns of everyone involved.

“We need to find what will work best for the people of NSW, which is why we’re issuing an options paper for discussion with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Kean said. 

“We don’t want a holiday accommodation market that’s so over-regulated it puts people off coming here but the rights of residents who live near these properties must be considered too.   

“While short-term holiday letting, if properly managed and respected by all parties, can be a boost to the local economy, the need to protect people’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own homes is equally important.”    

Meanwhile, Airbnb Australia Country Manager Sam McDonagh called the government's response a 'strong, positive step towards ensuring fair and progressive rules and regulation for residents and visitors to NSW'.

“We appreciate that these things take time and that it’s important to get the balance right," Mr McDonagh said. "We’re confident that Premier Berejiklian and the NSW government will join the state governments in Tasmania and South Australia, in embracing home sharing, and introduce fair regulations that allow more people in NSW to share their extra space.”

 

Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.        
                    [post_title] => NSW government delays Airbnb decision
                    [post_excerpt] => Options paper by next month.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_26943" align="alignnone" width="522"] Will the NSW government wind back recommendations allowing Airbnb?[/caption]

 

 

NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean is gearing up to present the state government’s response to the hot button issue of short-term holiday letting on online platforms like Airbnb and Stayz.

Mr Kean’s announcement, with some details expected by 5pm today (Wednesday), will form the government’s response to a NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning report into short-term holiday letting,  released in October 2016.

The report recommended the NSW government adopt a light regulatory touch to short-term rentals and said restrictions should be eased so that home owners could rent out a room – or their entire house – without being fined by local councils for failing to lodge a development application for change of use.

The report, which examined how the sector should be legally regulated, split home owners and renters, cheered retailers and restaurateurs and horrified hoteliers, owner corporations and strata residents.

Local councils will also be closely scrutinising the NSW government’s position and hoping for clarity and guidance on how they should regulate the sharing economy through the planning policies they apply in their own backyards.

This came up in last year’s committee report, which recommended a concrete definition of short-term rental accommodation (STRA) to help local government, for example specifying the number of bedrooms that could be occupied or the number of days a property was rented in one year.

The committee also recommended giving NSW councils more detail around planning regulations and how to apply these to STRA.

Another suggestion was that the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) on exempt and complying development be amended to permit STRA and make the process quicker and easier.

Local councils has responded quite differently to Airbnb depending on their location.

Some NSW coastal councils, such as Gosford, Pittwater, Shoalhaven and Kiama have welcomed Airbnb but others like Byron Shire Council have battled with an onslaught of partygoers, while rising house prices lock locals out of the market.

Meanwhile, many metropolitan Sydney councils, such as City of Sydney and Randwick have demanded planning permission for short-term accommodation as complaints from residents grow. 

Although the inquiry recommended greenlighting Airbnb and sweeping away penalties, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), the peak body for the hotel industry, is tentatively predicting that the Minister will be more circumspect.

A TAA spokesman said that while the NSW government was unlikely to follow the lead of cities like New York, Berlin or San Francisco and ban Airbnb lets that were not owner-occupied, it was hopeful that some safeguards would be in place to protect residents from city apartment blocks being turned into 'quasi hotels'.

“It has been hard to ignore the millions of dollars that Airbnb has poured into ads and MP’s ‘advocacy’ over the past few months but we are confident the NSW government will be able to differentiate between genuine 'sharing' and the commercial exploitation of the new online platforms,” he said.

There is a possibility that the government will establish a committee  to examine the more contentious aspects of short-term rentals. 

TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi said in her response to the original inquiry that TAA did not oppose genuine sharing, where the owner was present during the stay, but that figures from Inside Airbnb had shown this was not the majority of cases.

Inside Airbnb reported that 61 per cent of Sydney listings were for whole houses or apartments and that 39 per cent of these were available for 365 days a year, a sign they were effectively functioning as commercial businesses. Almost one-third were listings for multiple properties.

“Our biggest concern is that city apartments will be turned into quasi-hotels, which has already taken place though in a number of cases residents have gone to court to force commercial operators out,” said the spokesman.

“The concern is the NSW government could make it harder for residents to keep Airbnb out, thereby wrecking their community and going against all the rules that were originally in place to keep the apartments for residents only.”

Instead, the TAA wants to outlaw those short-term lets that are obviously commercial and for councils to be given stringent powers to enforce the rules. It is also hoping that the state government will limit the number of days accommodation can be let out in a year.

The TAA believes that operators like Airbnb should be accountable for properties being compliant, in order to protect the safety of renters and other residents from nuisance. 
                    [post_title] => NSW government’s response to Airbnb report imminent
                    [post_excerpt] => Tourism accommodation body predicts a climb down.
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                    [post_content] => 

By Claire Hibbit 
Exploitation of workers cannot be stamped out if the settings remain the same, warns Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James. In her opening address to give evidence before the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017, James said that despite the successes the Ombudsman has had, “stories continue to emerge”. “For every one we take to court, there are others we cannot take action against and still others we do not even know about because people are too scared to report them to us,” James said. “These cases reflect badly on our country and on the majority of employers who are trying to do the right thing.” The Protecting Vulnerable Workers Bill introduces new civil penalties for ‘serious contraventions’ which are ten times higher than those currently set out in the Act. This Bill contains a number of measures that would adjust the settings in the Fair Work Act. The measures draw on the References Committee’s report on Australia’s temporary work visa programs, as well as the Fair Work Ombudsman’s work in this area, especially its inquiry into worker exploitation throughout the 7-Eleven network. Read more here.
This story first appeared in INCLEAN.  [post_title] => Fair Work Ombudsman backs Bill to support vulnerable workers [post_excerpt] => Something has to change, says Ombudsman. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fair-work-ombudsman-backs-bill-support-vulnerable-workers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:24:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:24:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26914 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26910 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-18 11:03:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:03:25 [post_content] =>   Local Government Excellence Awards Local Government Professionals NSW revealed the winners of its Oscars for local councils earlier this month. Full list below.  President LG Professionals, NSW Barry Smith said the awards recognised and showcased the pinnacle of excellence in the local government sector in NSW and significant achievements by NSW councils over the past year as well as the outstanding professional development achievements of our members. “Local government works hard for the communities in New South Wales, and we were thrilled that the Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister joined us in acknowledging the sector’s professionalism and dedication," Mr Smith said.   

Excellence in Innovative Leadership and Management

Recognising the use of superior management and leadership skills to achieve outstanding benefits for the organisation and/or for the community.   Winner: Tweed Shire Council Highly Commended: Lachlan Shire Council, City of Ryde Council Community Partnerships and Collaboration Recognising genuine and effective partnerships and collaborations that have resulted in better outcomes for council, as well as initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to working with and/or in the community to achieve positive outcomes.   Population over 15,000 Winner: Port Stephens Council Highly Commended: Blacktown City Council, Lake Macquarie City Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Warrumbungle Shire Council Excellence in Local Economic Contribution Recognising innovation in leadership and management for a project/initiative that has enhanced the economic wellbeing of their local government area and increased the value proposition to ratepayers and residents, in parts or all, of their city, town, district or region.   Winner: Liverpool City Council Highly Commended: Lake Macquarie City Council Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Recognising dedication to sustainability as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit to the environment.   Population over 100,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Canterbury-Bankstown Council, Central Coast Council   Population under 100,000 Winner: City of Canada Bay Council Highly Commended: Byron Shire Council  

Special Project Initiative

Recognising leadership where an individual, team or council has developed a concept or practice that significantly improves the business in which they work, development of processes or practices that has had a major impact on the organisation or its customers. Population over 15,000 Winner: Lake Macquarie City Council Highly Commended: Central Coast Council, North Sydney Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Hunter’s Hill Council  

Excellence in Community Development and Services

Recognising leadership in community services as evidenced by way of corporate process improvements, a particular project initiative, innovation in management and leadership practices or demonstrated practicality and resourcefulness. Winner: Canterbury-Bankstown Council Highly Commended: Cumberland Council

Excellence in Asset Management and Infrastructure Initiatives

Recognising excellence in Asset Management as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit in asset management. Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Wentworth Shire council

Excellence in Risk Management

Recognising the community and/or Council benefits (strategic, operational or financial) delivered through the identification, control and mitigation of risks within a council’s unique risk profile. Winner: Wollongong City Council Highly Commended: City of Canada Bay Council

Excellence in Creative Communities

Recognising excellence in bring together communities through art and cultural creative projects. Population over 15,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Bega Valley Shire Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Narrabri Shire Council  

Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness

The Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness Award is open to all NSW councils who have participated in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program. Winner: Willoughby City Council Dux of the Governance Intensive Course The Governance in Local Government Intensive Course has been developed to enhance the governance knowledge and skills of professionals working in the local government sector. Dux: Christine Priest, Wagga Wagga City Council Dux of the Finance Intensive Course Covering all aspects of local government finance this one week intensive residential course will benefit new finance managers, senior accounting and accounting officers or anyone with a financial background wishing to expand their knowledge of local government finance. Dux: Tracy Wilde, Sutherland Shire Council     NSW Environmental Excellence Awards Nominations are open for the NSW Environmental Excellence Awards, which celebrate councils and council staff who have done outstanding environmental work in the state. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said local government was the closest level of government to communities and had the most direct influence on local environments. "But what is often forgotten is that local government is one of the biggest sectors in the NSW economy,” Mr Rhoades said. "Councils are responsible for maintaining and upgrading $142 billion in infrastructure and land assets, including parks, reserves, roads, community facilities and water and sewerage systems. He said the sector employed more than 50,000 people and injected $11 billion into the state's economy every year. "Combine that economic power with a commitment to environmental sustainability and best practice, and you have a sector making a very real contribution to the environment in NSW." There are 15 award categories, including the prestigious Local Sustainability Award for overall council performance and the Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability awarded to an individual. They will be announced on October 11 at the University of Technology Sydney and they cover projects and programs from January 2016 to May 2017. The prize for overall winner of the Local Sustainability Award is an overseas study tour or a professional development program for staff, valued at $10,000.  Individual councils, county councils and regional council groupings are all eligible to enter, and compete against similarly sized councils in one of three levels: populations of less than 30,000; between 30,000 and 70,000; and more than 70,000.  Nomination applications close on 31 May, with further details available on LGNSW's website National Reconciliation Week funding Councils have until the end of this week to apply for federal government funding to support celebrations for National Reconciliation Week, which runs from May 27 to June 3. Celebrations are particularly poignant this year with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court decision. The funding round closes on Friday 21 April 2017. President of the Australian Local Government Association, David O’Loughlin said councils can use the funding to partner with a local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisation to mark these two historic events through activities that honour and respect their significance to all Australians. “It is a great compliment to the sector that the Turnbull Government has chosen local councils as partners in celebrating this national milestone,” Mr O’Loughlin said. “I would hate to see any council miss out so I urge all councils to submit applications for this funding via the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.” Bill Shorten to address local councils Labor leader Bill Shorten will address this year’s National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. This week, the Opposition came out in support of ALGA’s call to end the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation agreeing that local government funding has been under pressure following the 2014-15 freeze. The party called on the Government to rule out any extension of the FAGs indexation freeze beyond 30 June 2017.   The NGA is the peak annual event for local government, attracting in excess of 800 Mayors and Councillors each year. Themed Building Tomorrow’s Communities, this year’s NGA will be held from 18 - 21 June. [post_title] => Around the councils [post_excerpt] => Full list of NSW Local Government Excellence Award winners. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-the-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 14:07:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 04:07:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26910 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26882 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-11 11:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-11 01:00:53 [post_content] => Newtown's nightlife has intensified since the 2014 lockout laws came in. Pic: Google Images.    By Lecturer in Criminology, UNSW This story first appeared in The Conversation.     It is vital that public policy be driven by rigorous research. In the last decade key policy changes have had profound impacts on nightlife in Sydney’s inner city and suburbs. The most significant and controversial of these has been the 2014 “lockout laws”. These were a series of legislative and regulatory policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder through new criminal penalties and key trading restrictions, including 1.30am lockouts and a 3am end to service in select urban “hotspots”. A range of lobbyists, including New South Wales Police and accident and emergency services, welcomed these initiatives. By contrast, venue operators, industry organisations and patron groups have made repeated but largely anecdotal claims that these changes caused a sharp downturn in profit, employment and cultural vibrancy in targeted areas. They also claim that the “lockouts” have caused drinking-related problems to spill over into urban areas that are less equipped to cope with them.

Crime is down

However, in late 2016, the Callinan Review referenced compelling evidence in support of the current policy. According to the latest research, recorded rates of crime are down by around 49% in the designated Kings Cross precinct and 13% in Sydney’s CBD. In contrast, what little research has been produced by opponents of strict nightlife regulation has been criticised as unreliable, inaccurate and poorly deployed.  
The pattern of assaults has shifted since the lockout laws began. BOCSAR, Author provided
The Callinan Review noted the lack of verifiable claims about the negative impacts of the policy in submissions from the main opponents of the lockout laws. This has led to a great deal of assumption in the final report about where, for example, revellers, jobs, entertainment and revenue might have been displaced to, or how the policy changes affected them. In many respects, the passing over of claims made by anti-lockout groups is rather unfair. These groups are not official state bodies with the capacity to produce the type of data or evidence on which the policy has been justified and defended. As such, their “unscientific” observations and experiences have been largely dismissed. To critically balance and juxtapose opposing claims, more impact data and research are needed.

We must take a city-wide perspective

If the lockout policy is judged on the original goal of decreasing crime in designated “hotspots”, then it appears to have been a success. However, from a city-wide perspective there are other issues to consider. Not the least of these is the effects in other nightlife sites across Sydney. Despite initially finding no displacement of violence to nearby nightlife sites, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has just released findings showing significant displacement in rates of recorded non-domestic-related violence in destinations outside the lockout zone. Reported crime rates in Newtown, one of the displacement sites listed in the BOCSAR study (along with Bondi and Double Bay), increased by 17% in the 32 months following the lockouts. These new findings appear to vindicate some local complaints about increased night violence – including attacks targeting LGBTI victims – that has led to much resident irritation and even political protest in recent years.

Adjusting our nightlife habits

So, how can we better judge the veracity of these claims about the displacement of nuisance and violence? Mapping patronage trends is a key means of understanding how and why rates of assault have now increased despite initially showing little to no change. To this end, Kevin McIsaac and I, with data from Transport for NSW, have set out to ascertain if and how nightlife participation in Sydney has been influenced by the lockouts. Our analysis focused on night-time aggregated train validation data (turnstile counts) from January 2013 to July 2016 for stations servicing the designated nightlife precincts (Kings Cross, Town Hall) and precincts outside the lock-out zone (Newtown, Parramatta). Using Bayesian Change Point (BCP) detection we found the following:
  • no evidence of changes to Kings Cross or Parramatta exit traffic from the introduction of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of strong growth in the Parramatta Friday-night exit traffic by about 200% since January 2013, which is independent of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of an increase of about 300% in the Newtown Friday-night exit traffic as a result of the lock-out laws; and
  • in all stations, the BCP algorithm detected a change when OPAL card usage exceeded magnetic ticket usage. This suggests the jumps seen in the graphs below are due to the higher exit reporting from OPAL. The switch from flat to slow growth in trend is probably an artefact of the relative increase in OPAL usage.
Kings Cross change point Friday night.
Kings Cross change point Saturday night.
Newtown change point Friday night.
Newtown change point Saturday night.
Parramatta change point Friday night.
Parramatta change point Saturday night.
  These findings provide new insights into the way people have adjusted their nightlife habits. The most interesting finding is the dramatic increase in access to Newtown nightlife. Exits in Newtown have increased 300% since the lock-outs were introduced in 2014. As can be seen from the graph, the rate of increase has been steady over the study period. This raises questions about whether there is a threshold at which patron density becomes an issue that potentially results in increased nuisance and violence.

Big data’s capacity to help

While this research is still in its early phases, the transport data tell one small, yet significant, part of the story. However, to draw definite conclusions, there is far more that needs to be considered. Many nightlife patrons travel into the city by different means, or don’t travel at all (those who live in and around the city). We need alternative data to try to identify patterns concerning these groups. Several different organisations have data that could help paint a more complete picture, including telcos, Google, Taxis NSW and Uber. While these organisations should be protective of their data, the value of anonymous aggregate location data is how it can inform and advance public policy through ethical research. This information is key to breaking down access barriers. Without access to these anonymous aggregations of privately controlled data, the capacity of research is limited. As such, there is a need for greater communication, collaboration and co-operation between producers of big data, the government and researchers into social impact. By building stronger evidence for all manner of policies, such partnerships have an amazing potential to contribute to the public good. [post_title] => Public transport data begins to reveal true impact of Sydney's lockout laws [post_excerpt] => Newtown's 300% nightlife jump. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26882 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-11 11:09:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-11 01:09:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26882 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26847 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-07 10:22:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-07 00:22:17 [post_content] =>   If the bookies are right, Independent candidate Carolyn Corrigan could cause a huge upset in tomorrow’s (Saturday) North Shore by-election and topple the Liberals right where it hurts: in its leafy Sydney heartland. As the contest hots up in former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s North Shore seat, online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has revealed that a flurry of late bets on Ms Corrigan’s chances have made the Libs look wobbly in a seat they hold by a 30.4 per cent margin. Will Byrne from Sportsbet.com.au said there was strong support for Ms Corrigan, whose odds had shortened significantly in the run-up to the election from $4.00 into $2.50, suggesting that Saturday’s state  by-election will be a close run thing. “The Liberals looked safe in North Shore but there’s been some money in the past few days to suggest the race is not run there yet,” Mr Byrne said. The North Shore electorate takes in the local government areas of Mosman and North Sydney and both councils have stridently resisted the state government’s attempts to merge them with their neighbours. Ms Corrigan is a former president of anti-forced council amalgamation community group Save Our Councils and she will be hoping the community’s rebellious sentiment continues to the ballot box. Independent candidate Carolyn Corrigan   But all is not lost for Liberal candidate Felicity Wilson, a former president of the NSW Liberal Women's Council, and she is still odds on to win at $1.50. Ms Wilson came under fire earlier this week when Fairfax published a story rubbishing her claims that she had lived in the lower North Shore electorate – in Neutral Bay, Waverton and Wollstonecraft - for more than a decade. Electoral records showed she had lived in several addresses outside the electorate at various points during five of those twelve years. Ms Wilson later apologised, calling it an ‘unintentional error’. She was also criticised for claiming that the first ever vote she cast was for John Howard in Bennelong in 2001. Fairfax countered her claim by saying she lived in Marrickville, in the Grayndler electorate, at the time and could not have done so. She later admitted she had made a mistake. But whether this controversy is serious enough to cruel Ms Wilson’s chances is another matter. North Shore has been considered a very safe blue ribbon Liberal seat since 1991, although it has fallen to independents in the past, most notably to Independent North Sydney Mayor Ted Mack. Interestingly, it is not a two horse race. In fact, the Greens have outpolled Labor to come second in the last three state elections. However, Sportsbet has Greens candidate Justin Alick at $34, with a Donald Trump-style shock needed for a payout. Liberal candidate Felicity Wilson with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian Sportsbet will be hoping it makes a better fist of predicting the North Shore result than it did when Donald Trump scored a shock victory in the US election in November last year when the company reportedly paid out $11 million to 25,000 punters who picked Trump for POTUS. This weekend also sees two other NSW by-elections, former NSW Premier Mike Baird’s seat of Manly and Gosford, which was vacated by Labor MP Kathy Smith when she retired due to ill health earlier this year. The bookies have both seats as clear wins: one for Labor and one for the Liberals. Manly is tipped to go to the Liberals ($1.10) and Gosford to Labor ($1.05), despite Gosford being the state’s most marginal seat and held by Labor by only 0.2 per cent. Ms Smith narrowly beat Liberal state MP Chris Holstein in 2015 by only 203 votes. Gosford is another seat where council mergers could affect the result and the forced amalgamation between Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils could tip the balance against the Liberals. Labor’s candidate for Gosford is Liesl Tesch, an Australian wheelchair basketball player and sailor, while the Liberals are fielding organ donation campaigner and office manager Jilly Pilon.   What are the odds? North Shore by-election $1.50   Liberal             $2.50   Independent (Carolyn Corrigan) $16      Independent (Ian Mutton)      $16      Independent (Harry Fine)       $34      Green $51      Animal Justice Party $51      Voluntary Euthanasia $101    Christian Democrats   Gosford by-election $1.05   Labor   $8.50   Liberal $16      Shooters, Fishers and Farmers $51      Animal Justice Party    $51      Christian Democrats $101    Green   Manly by-election $1.10   Liberal   $7.50   Independent (Ron Delezio) $9.00   Independent (Kathryn Ridge) $11      Green $21      Independent (running for One Nation)          $21      Independent (John Cook) $21      Independent (Haris Jackman)             $26      Independent (Brian Clare)      $26      Independent (Victor Waterson) $51      Voluntary Euthanasia (Kerry Bromson)          $51      Animal Justice (Ellie Robertson)         $51      Christian Democrats $51      Independent (James Mathison) [post_title] => Bookies shorten odds for independent to win North Shore by-election [post_excerpt] => Will the Libs topple in leafy la-la land? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bookies-shorten-odds-independent-win-north-shore-election [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-12 08:41:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-11 22:41:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26847 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26762 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 15:41:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 05:41:08 [post_content] => [ngg_images gallery_ids="1" display_type="photocrati-nextgen_basic_slideshow"]     By Linda Cheng  UK firm Foster and Partners and Australian practice Architectus are part of a joint venture awarded the contract to design six new Sydney Metro stations. The proposed privately operated Sydney Metro will be a new stand alone railway from Rouse Hill in Sydney’s north west to Bankstown in Sydney’s south west, via the CBD. Seven new stations in the Sydney Metro City section will be constructed, each will be accessible to people with disabilities, prams and children, and include level access between platforms and train. Foster and Partners and Architectus will design six of the seven stations, which include Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street and Waterloo. Martin Place is set to become a major transport interchange that will allow passengers to connect with other parts of Sydney’s rail network.   This article was put together by Linda Cheng at ArchitectureAU with images supplied by Transport for NSW. You can read the original article here.   [post_title] => Revealed: Sydney's six new metro stations [post_excerpt] => UK's Foster and Partners and Architectus team up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => foster-and-partners-architectus-to-design-sydney-metro-stations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-05 09:52:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 23:52:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26762 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26755 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 11:18:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:18:19 [post_content] =>

                    By Anthony Wallace As Australasia’s biggest annual spatial event, the Locate Conference and Digital Earth Symposium (Locate17 and ISDE), can be an intimidating affair. Not only does it combine two events, it spans four days, features eight separate subject streams, offers four free workshops, features an awards night, networking functions and exclusive international assemblies. It’s safe to say that you won’t be able to experience everything that Locate17 and Digital Earth has to offer, but you can at least learn something new, find a few opportunity, or perhaps create some lasting connections with fellow attendees. Here’s your simplified guide to making the most of Locate17 and Digital Earth Symposium.

Locate17 and ISDE Must do’s:

  1. Learn something new: It’s highly unlikely you’re familiarised with each of the multiple program streams on offer, so why not learn about Virtual Globes, Crowd-sorting or Data lakes?
  2. Find out how ‘real’ reality modelling is: Speak to the likes of Nearmap, Spookfish, PSMA Australia, AEROMetrex to discover the amazing things being done with spatial data.
  3. Watch out for ministers: Big-wigs of Australian parliament have been known to attend Locate. In 2015, we saw Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (then minister for communications) and last year Assistant Minister Angus Young appeared ahead of launching the Smart cities initiative. Who might it be this year?
  Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Your Survival Guide to Locate17 and ISDE [post_excerpt] => Australasia’s biggest annual spatial event. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => survival-guide-locate17-isde [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 11:18:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:18:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26755 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26748 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 10:47:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 00:47:01 [post_content] =>     NSW largest council has rebranded itself with the help of more than 2,000 ratepayers and hit back at perceptions that it is boring. Canterbury-Bankstown Council, which was created in May last year from a merger between Canterbury City and Bankstown City Councils, launched its new logo and slogan: ‘where interesting happens’ yesterday (Monday) and released a video to accompany it. The south-western Sydney council is the state’s largest council area and has around 350,000 residents. The council’s administrator, Richard Colley, said that residents, community and sports groups and business leaders had all chipped in their thoughts on the rebranding and so had visitors, through workshops, interviews, surveys and roundtables. Mr Colley said the council involved the community from the outset so that they could 'own and be proud of' the rebranding, which reportedly cost $375,000. “It’s not every day you get to stop and think about what defines you as a place and community – we know we are multiculturally diverse, and that’s very important, but what really defines us and sets us apart from other areas and the pack,” Mr Colley said.  “It’s based on the idea “Where Interesting Happens” and will allow us to promote our fascinating stories, unique experiences and much more.” The council’s survey of ratepayers found they wanted the area to become a destination where people stopped, rather than drove through; they were proud of diversity and wanted to project a more confident image. Mr Colley said residents would see the new brand popping up in the area from this week on signs, council vehicles and PR material and that various related events would follow. “Our new city brand is about sharing what makes us special and uniting the two great cities of Canterbury and Bankstown.  It’s much more than just a logo, it’s a whole new destination marketing approach for everyone to join in, including residents, businesses, community groups, cultural institutions, sporting groups and visitors.” But the rebranding was not just about what people who live or work in the area thought.   Mr Colley said: “We also wanted to understand what people outside Canterbury-Bankstown think of us, so we can attract them to our many businesses, places and activities, and help grow our local economy.” Focus groups and online surveys of around 500 Sydneysiders from outside the Canterbury Bankstown area found that some of them had negative perceptions that there was not enough to do there. “The research showed some Sydneysiders don’t visit Canterbury-Bankstown because they think there’s not much to do here.  Well, that’s about to change! “Interestingly, we also heard, some people living in our City believe other Sydneysiders think Canterbury-Bankstown is unsafe.  We found this is not the case at all,” he said.  It’s early days but the reaction on social media have been mostly positive so far, apart from one or two digs at the council’s slogan and social media hashtag. One Facebook wag said the hashtag should be #whereoverdevelopmenthappens or #whereinfrastructureisneeded, while another criticised the slogan: “ ‘Where Interesting Happens’ isn't even a grammatically correct sentence! But then neither is ‘Think Different’ and that worked for Apple. Good luck with the new initiative.” CEO of Chess Engineering Steve Facer, who was involved in the consultation, said the process had “captured an honest and real feel of locals and non-residents”.  “They were unafraid to face whatever realities may present themselves and then have the courage to address them in an open-faced and positive way,” Mr Facer said.  “The new direction seems highly inclusive. It already has, and will continue to generate energy for a ‘can do’ area that may now start to evolve at an ever increasing rate.  I loved the bold simplicity of the package.”   What do you think of the rebranding? Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Merged Sydney council rebrands itself as the place "where interesting happens” [post_excerpt] => Hits back at critics it’s boring. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26748 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 13:15:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 03:15:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26748 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26741 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-03 17:31:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-03 07:31:44 [post_content] =>       More research needs to be done to reveal whether going into the public sector for altruistic reasons can lead to extra pressure, stress and eventual burn out, or whether it actually increases job satisfaction and productivity, says a recent academic paper. Researchers from Federation University and Newcastle University interviewed 455 local council workers in Victoria to find out their levels of public sector motivation (PSM) and whether this affected their levels of job satisfaction negatively or positively.  Although there is not one concrete definition, PSM has been loosely defined as wanting to contribute to society/community and to the public policy process and it is often considered to go hand in hand with commitment, compassion and self-sacrifice, an attitude seen as different to the prevailing in the private sector.  In the past, theorists have tended to focus on the positive side of PSM and its possible role in enhancing performance, reducing absenteeism and boosting staff retention. There is also an argument that high levels of PSM make employees more concerned about public service and duty and relatively less concerned about higher pay and shorter working hours.  But the report, Testing an International Measure of Public Service Motivation: Is There Really a Bright or Dark Side? says attention is now being increasingly paid to the ‘dark side’ of PSM and its possible effects, including burnout, which can be characterised by diminished interest, cynicism, or de-personalisation at work.  “High levels of PSM have, for example, been linked to lower job satisfaction due to frustrations with red tape, as well as increased pressure and stress, which in turn may result in employee burnout,” said the report.  “Indeed, motivation to serve the community through public service work may result in negative effects where employees self-sacrifice to a level that it depletes their well-being.”  So PSM can variously act as protection from burnout but too much of it could hasten exhaustion, “PSM may also possess a dark side. The notion of public service has taken on even greater importance in today’s customer-oriented public sector with ever increasing demands for quicker response time.”  However, researchers from Federation University and the University of Newcastle said they were unable to find any meaningful connection between PSM, job satisfaction and behaviour but add: “This may suggest an opportunity for public sector managers to leverage PSM to harness the beneficial outcomes commonly associated with PSM.” Why does it matter?  Well, if PSM is found to have a positive influence on behaviour and cause people to work harder, not ring in sick and refrain from jumping ship then nurturing it becomes of the utmost importance. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­The report says: “For example, the level of PSM among employees can be increased through a variety of mechanisms such as attraction, selection, design of job packages and also managers can do more to avoid PSM being crowded out by the use of incentives and command systems.  “Further, transformational leadership can be used by managers in organisations without severe value conflicts to increase individual levels of PSM, which in turn should increase performance. This may be achieved through socialisation, greater mission valance as well as via managers and supervisors and through communication style (Waterhouse et al. 2014).”  Conversely, if high levels of PSM leave an employee more vulnerable to stress, emotional exhaustion and burnout, particularly when combined with budget cuts, bureaucracy and pressure to work more quickly, then aversive action should be taken.  Such conditions can also turn people off working in the sector. A recent Government News story explored how Gen Y’s are avoiding local government as a career. an public sector workers in Victoria,” and says this could be because public sector conditions are generally good in Australia.  This is contrasted with China, where government workers described inferior conditions to the private sector, and those with higher PSM reported higher mental well-being but lower physical well-being than those with lower PSM.  Researchers suggest replicating the study in other states and across all three tiers of government with a larger sample and carrying out in-depth interviews with public servants to find out what being public sector motivated means to them.  “Therefore, to create understanding and better outcomes for deliverers and users of public services, we advocate broader investigation into the bright and dark sides of PSM and factors that can moderate and mediate such relationships.”  The study was published in the Australian Journal of Public Administration and written by Julie Rayner and Vaughan Reimers from the Federation University and Chih-Wei (Fred) Chao from Newcastle University. [post_title] => Public sector motivation: Have we turned to the dark side? [post_excerpt] => Burnout or crash through. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26741 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 11:03:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:03:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26741 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26709 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-31 11:06:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:06:38 [post_content] => Manchester city centre, UK.     Three Australian cities will replicate a UK initiative designed to deliver economic growth, affordable housing and new infrastructure while devolve decisions away from federal government towards state and local government. City Deals is a UK initiative which began in 2012 with eight deals for cities outside London, including Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and Leeds and covering a population of 12.7 million. They have now been introduced across 38 UK city-regions. Under City Deals, state government and local councils decide what needs to be done to lift economic growth locally and they set targets in areas such as jobs, affordable housing and emissions reduction. The deals also include the regional areas around cities. The scheme emphasises building infrastructure and aims to deliver long-term benefits, such as higher land values, bigger tax receipts, more jobs and increased productivity. In the UK, most contracts are for ten years and funding often comes from all three levels of government. Local councils’ contributions tend to be lower than that from the other tiers of government, around 10 to 20 per cent, and often includes contributions in kind, such as land transfers and council officers’ time. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is known to be a fan of City Deals for Australia and he has committed to early deals for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney. The process for future deals will be announced later. The Launceston City Deal, signed in September last year, promises to support education, employment and investment and this will include a new university campus in the city centre; revitalising the historic CBD and a new National Institute for Forest Products Innovation Hub. Under the Launceston deal, $140 million comes from the federal government and $60 million from the Tasmanian government. The Western Sydney City Deal, which includes the local government areas of the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly, seems to have a pretty broad remit. It will focus on public transport, employment and investment (particularly youth and indigenous employment); more affordable housing by boosting supply and diversity; biodiversity and conservation and arts and culture. There is no mention of who is paying what under the Western Sydney deal, which is up on the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s website. To find out more about the UK experience and what it could mean for Australia, Government News caught up with Scottish urban economist and affordable housing specialist Professor Duncan MacLennan, who has been involved with the Glasgow City Deal. What City Deals can do  But first, let’s start off with what City Deals could do for Australia. Prof MacLennan explains that cities are ‘core areas driving national productivity’ and he says City Deals have been valuable because they have placed infrastructure at the centre of city thinking and coherent investment strategies.   While cities drive growth, the income and tax receipts from this goes mainly to state or federate government - there is a disproportionate flow back - while cities are stuck with the problems stemming from growth, like congestion, pollution and a shortage of affordable housing. Indeed, Prof MacLennan says there is some evidence to suggest that some skilled workers are fleeing cities, fed up with long commutes and expensive housing. City Deals attempt to reverse this situation by channelling some of the money back into city-regional areas. Prof MacLennan says: “In the absence of changing the fiscal system, it’s a reasonably appropriate mechanism for getting money where it needs to be. “The main benefit to City Deals is the new focus on infrastructure [that has] raised local capacity to deal with it and more coherent investment strategies.” What they the deals don’t do, he says, is lead to a better system of sub-national government because they are uneven in their impact. In the UK, the deals are not open to everyone and they have not been rolled out evenly. Since City Deals began, Prof MacLennan says that metropolitan authorities have strengthened their capacity to do big infrastructure planning and they have got much better at making the economic case for infrastructure investment. “Big City Deals now know much more about infrastructure planning and how to do it well than central government,” he says. “There is work being done that wasn’t being done three or four years’ ago.” This point was picked up in the UK National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on the first wave of eight City Deals, calling them a ‘catalyst to manage devolved funding and responsibilities’. The report also commended the deals for cutting through funding complexities and giving cities direct access to central government decision makers, which in turn helped them secure funding and support from other government departments. “This helped cities agree deals aligned to their ambitions and local priorities,” said the NAO’s report. But the process is not without its problems. Resources, as ever, have not been there to help cities build their capacity locally. Local government was expected to pool its resources and given no funding to support additional management capacity. This can lead to skills shortages, for example in forecasting and modelling. “It is not clear, however, whether this approach is sustainable in the context of wider reductions in the government’s funding for local authorities. Departments’’ resource constraints have impacted on the government’s capacity to make bespoke, wide-ranging deals with more places,” The NAO noted. Other criticisms of the UK model have included the inherent difficulty of uneven power relations between the three levels of government; the centralised control exerted when deals are negotiated; the lack of transparency around the criteria for cities to be selected for a new; vagueness around the aims, monitoring and evaluation of some City Deals and extra pressure on the already highly constrained budgets of local councils. Another downside of the City Deals, says Prof MacLennan, is raising expectations. “People think this is going to solve all their problems and don’t pay attention to other programs that are reducing and changing.” It can also open up gaps between the haves and the have nots: those areas which have City Deals and those that do not. Prof MacLennan says: “The differences may become so great that the government may have to come in and think about what it does for lagging cities.” But the neediest areas are often those where councils that may not have the organisation or the skilled workforce to make their case for a City Deal. Recommendations for Australian City Deals Good economic modelling is important from the get go, says Prof MacLennan, because it helps predict how infrastructure investment decisions affect the behaviour of individual households and businesses over several years. This can involve leveraging expertise from the university sector. For example, northern English City Deals for cities like Greater Manchester and Newcastle saw local government teaming up with universities for economic modelling and analysis. But Prof MacLennan says Sydney does not appear to have any economic metropolitan modelling ready to use. “You need to pay more attention to what you need to know before you start,” he says. “Otherwise you rely on consultants’ reports that are rarely ever in the public domain and never peer reviewed so that nobody knows what’s in them other than the government.” Once projects are up and running, it is essential to monitor their progress against targets and evaluate them effectively, although it is not always easy to know what would have happened were a City Deal not in place. “What matters is the monitoring and the learning from good monitoring,” he says. Some benefits are fiendishly tricky to quantify. For example, gauging economic gains from sustainability initiatives is difficult when there is no carbon price in Australia. Milestones are part of funding deals and if they are not met it means the next tranche of cash could be held back. The UK now has its own dedicated evaluation panel for City Deals. Putting in enough capital initially is important. Prof MacLennan says the volume of capital going into growing cities like Edinburgh, London and Manchester is not currently enough to resolve the issues these cities face. Exploring innovative methods of finance or making use of old ones could prove useful for Australian City Deals. The Scottish city of Aberdeen recently launched its own government bond but Prof MacLennan points out that cities have limited control over their tax affairs (the key to paying back bonds) and says further fiscal reform would be needed. If this is fixed, he anticipates other major cities could follow suit. In general, he says the UK has not come up with very exciting alternative methods of funding under City Deals.   On the whole, Australia is in a good position to implement City Deals and make them work. Prof MacLennan says that the Australian federal government and the states and territories have been much better at making infrastructure decisions than the UK. “I think there is a track record here off trying to think coherently about infrastructure … but the better City Deals, like Manchester, would have relevance to what happens in metropolitan Sydney.” “The images of Australia aren’t about the bush any more, it’s the cities.” [post_title] => What the UK can teach Australia about City Deals [post_excerpt] => Three Australian cities chosen for early deal. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26709 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-31 11:58:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:58:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26709 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26682 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-28 11:15:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:15:41 [post_content] =>     Local government experts are predicting a serious shortfall in skilled staff within ten years as Gen Y’s shun local councils and Baby Boomers clinging on until retirement start to fall off their perches. A four-year benchmarking survey led by Local Government Professional Australia, NSW involving 135 NSW, Western Australian and New Zealand councils, found that while council workforces are ageing they are finding it hard to attract and retain younger people, especially Gen Y’s. Councils analysed their own performance on a range of indicators, including service provision, finance and operations, risk management, assets and leadership but it was the makeup of local council workforces that set alarm bells ringing. Gen Y’s are woefully underrepresented in councils and they are also much more likely to quit within a year when they do get local government jobs. The situation is most acute in NSW. CEO of LG Professionals, NSW Annalisa Haskell predicted a staffing crisis within a decade if the generation gap was not addressed. “You’re looking at a major, major issue. We won’t be able to do the work in the future,” Ms Haskell said. “Due to a uniquely old age profile quite at odds with the Australian working population, NSW local government is failing to significantly attract and retain new staff, especially Gen Y, who are twice as likely to leave a council than other generations,” she said. She said the battle over forced council mergers in NSW had also sapped the sector’s energy and pulled the focus away from what was arguably a much more serious issue: staffing. “We are having the wrong conversation. We need to move from the structure debate of mergers to understanding why local government is not positioned as a vibrant place to work compared to other Australian sectors, nor the place to invest in a career.” In NSW councils, Gen Y’s represent about 40 per cent of the Australian working population in 2016 but they only make up 22 per cent of NSW council workforces. In WA it is 26 per cent and in New Zealand Gen Y’s make up 28 per cent of the council workforce. While Baby Boomers are sticking around for decades and hoarding their leave, particularly in NSW, Gen Y’s that do start working for councils often don’t stay long.   In NSW, 19 per cent of Gen Y left within a year, compared with a 9.9 per cent turnover of all staff. It was higher in WA, where one in five Gen Y’s quit within a year, but the all staff turnover was also higher, at 13.8 per cent so the gap was less.  Meanwhile, Baby Boomers represent 35 per cent of the Australian working age population in 2016 but 44 per cent of NSW council staff. In contrast, New Zealand does not have a problem with staff turnover, attracts more Gen Y’s and does a much better job at attracting women to local government, particularly at supervisory level or above. Women represent 57 per cent of new starters in New Zealand, compared with 50 per cent in WA and 43 per cent in NSW. Why is Gen Y turning away from councils? Ms Haskell says that local government in NSW has a serious image problem and Gen Y’s viewed it as staid, slow and technologically backward. Council jobs also seemed to lack economic prestige. “The sector isn’t appealing to Gen Y. They like the experience to be good,” Ms Haskell said. “Councils are by nature conservative and regulation bound and [generally] not very high tech. They are driven by compliance and the regulatory point of view.” She said Gen Y were likely to ask why things were not instant and people not engaged. They were digital natives too.  “The problems we have are here now and will take time to fix - it is most apparent that we need to better promote local government as a compelling career sector,” she said. The falling numbers of Gen Y girls taking subjects such as maths and sciences had also been felt in certain areas of council work, such as engineering and environmental jobs, which were often quite specialised. Baby Boomers entrenched in their jobs meant there was an older leadership, sometimes at odds with Gen Y’s, and no obvious stepping stones for younger people. “There is a generational split. The leadership is old and it’s not moving. Gen Y’s are likely to ask: ‘where is my career path and is this really me?’ ” Mergers may also have been partly responsible for Baby Boomers staying in their jobs and accruing leave – a real liability for councils – because of the uncertainty of job losses generated by amalgamations. In contrast, New Zealand’s councils had little leave on the balance sheet. No Plan B Worrying, Ms Haskell said that the majority of councils had no succession planning in place. Rather than training Gen X and Gen Y to step up when senior staff retired, corporate memory walked out the door when Boomers left. Only 13 per cent of NSW councils had proper succession planning in place in 2016, a drop from 20 per cent the previous year. “With the Baby Boomers it’s all in their head and they’ve been the [council’s] anchor point. They haven’t got a succession plan ready. I’m surprised,” she said. GMs sometimes had to quit suddenly because of serious health issues or accidents and external managers were parachuted into the role temporarily, rather than moving somebody into the role in-house. Many councils did not have a deputy general manager, for example. Ms Haskell said: “[We’re] dependent as a sector because of the nature of politics: ‘no-one else can do it except the GM’. That’s a real gap and we have to take responsibility.” What can be done? Ms Haskell said that encouraging Gen Y’s to network online and to share their ideas and experiences and to lead on certain issues would help. Councils also needed to change the way they worked, connected and communicated. For example, making customer experience central and working back and supporting staff to deliver on this. “Some councils are trying to get there but they’re in the minority. Gen Y’s have to drive it themselves,” she said. Councils could check in with Gen Y recruits at the three-month stage and ask them about their experiences and perceptions anonymously and exit interviews were useful to find out what had gone wrong and how it could be fixed. She said the sector needed to work together to motive people and share solutions but the threat of council mergers had hampered this spirit over the last three years and pulled councils apart, with many going into lockdown and survival mode. Succession planning had to be faced up to and people mentored and trained to take over. So what is New Zealand doing right? Ms Haskell said the Kiwis were bringing in new people from non-government sectors and attracting management skills externally. “[There are] more women in senior positions all the way up than in Australia.” “In NSW, we appear to attract less [outside] talent to the sector and less from managerial roles that can make a difference culturally.” New Zealand had also mounted a successful advertising campaign to attract young people to the sector. The Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program survey, conducted in partnership with PwC, also involved nine merged NSW councils – previously 22 individual councils – and should help give merged councils a picture of their performance before and after mergers.  PwC Partner Stuart Shinfield praised the participating councils and said CEOs and General Managers ‘have had to lay themselves bare’. “The heroes in this are the managers of the vast number of councils involved,” Mr Shinfield said. “No-one told them they had to drill-down like this – they took the front foot and said ‘Let’s do this’, whereas in the commercial sector this high-level of analytical review usually only happens when someone has been given a directive.” [post_title] => Gen Y’s shun local councils: Massive skill gap predicted in a decade [post_excerpt] => Baby Boomers won't budge. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => gen-ys-shun-local-councils-massive-skill-gap-predicted-decade [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-29 10:22:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-28 23:22:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26682 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26676 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-27 13:03:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-27 02:03:16 [post_content] =>   Ku-ring-gai Council on Sydney’s North Shore has won its appeal against a forced merger and the NSW government has been ordered to pay the council’s cost. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Ku-ring-gai Council in a decision handed down today (Monday) and ordered the NSW government to pick up the council’s tab in the Court of Appeal and the bill from earlier cases in the Land and Environment Court.   But despite the panel of three judges ruling that the merger should not proceed in its current form, i.e. merging Ku-ring-gai Council with part of Hornsby Shire Council (the section north of the M2 Motorway); there is no guarantee that Premier Gladys Berejiklian will abandon the idea entirely. The government may appeal the decision or instead opt to restart the Boundary Commission review and release the full KPMG report, a report which the state government has continually argued contained the numbers to back up its financial case for mergers, despite refusing to release the full version while repeatedly insisting it had done so. Delegate Garry West filed a report to the Boundaries Commission recommending the merger go ahead after a public inquiry but the judges concluded that Mr West could not properly assess the financial impact of the merger without access to the full KPMG report, which in turn meant the council had been denied procedural fairness. “The appellant was denied procedural fairness as the delegate chose to rely on the KPMG analysis, rather than conducting his own assessment of the merger, when the appellant was not in possession of the document in which the analysis was contained,” the judgement said. The government had argued that releasing the entire report was contrary to public interest because of concerns over confidentiality but the court disagreed and said public interest was better served by releasing the whole report. The panel said that Mr West had also failed to consider the impact of the merger on the 20,000 Hornsby Shire Council residents south of the M2 Motorway who would not be part of the new council. But the council is not out of the woods yet. The possibility of starting the merger process again for Ku-ring-gai, rather than abandoning it, was flagged in the court’s judgement.  “Although, if the decision were to be remade by the same delegate, it is likely that the same result would be reached, that conclusion does not follow as a matter of law,” the judges said. “It cannot be assumed that the Minister would elect to refer the unchanged proposal for further examination or, if he did, that the process would necessarily produce the same recommendation. If the flawed examination can be redone properly, relief allowing that to happen should be granted.” Despite the warning signs, Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson said she was ‘heartened’ by the court’s decision. “The very real concerns of our council and residents over this merger have been ignored by the government and we feel vindicated by today’s decision,” Ms Anderson said.  “We believe the court’s decision signals a turning point for Premier Berejiklian’s government. If they continue with the merger process they will be flying in the face of our community and the court.” She said the merger should not proceed because Ku-ring-gai ratepayers would be robbed of any real say in how the area was managed and how rates were spent. The Mayor said the council would wait to see what the state government would do after the court’s decision. “We will continue to seek meetings with Premier Berejiklian and the Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton to press our case against being forcibly merged with Hornsby,” she added. Greens Local Government spokesman David Shoebridge called the judgement “an embarrassing blow” for the Berejiklian Government’s forced amalgamation plans, which he said were unravelling, a particular danger with the North Shore by-election so close. “Today the Court of Appeal has said the obvious, that it is blatantly unfair to forcibly amalgamate a local council on the basis of a secret report,” Mr Shoebridge said. “This decision doesn’t just affect Ku-ring-gai Council, it could dismantle every single outstanding amalgamation proposal.                                                                                                                                                  He said the case was a precedent for ‘pretty much every’ forced amalgamation proposal because they were all based on the partially suppressed KPMG report. “The delegates who have recommended forced amalgamations have all relied on summaries from KPMG that allege savings will occur. The Court has now said that these summaries aren’t good enough and they need to see the actual evidence.” A spokesperson for NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton said: "While we are considering the implications of today’s judgement, the NSW Government is committed to the merger of Hornsby and Ku-Ring-Gai councils given the clear benefits it will have for the local communities." [post_title] => Ku-ring-gai Council wins merger appeal, awarded costs [post_excerpt] => Berejiklian on the ropes over KPMG report. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26676 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-28 11:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26676 [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] => 26953 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 10:32:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 00:32:59 [post_content] =>   A scene from the new smartphone app Magical Park.   Local councils in Australia and New Zealand and an NZ games developer have hit upon a brilliant way to use mobile phones to draw children to play in urban parks again. A new free smartphone app has unleashed the augmented reality game Magical Park, targeted at kids aged six to 11, which encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park. In the game children can interact with fairies, dragons, kittens, dinosaurs and aliens and complete missions, like finding dinosaur eggs, using their phone or tablet camera. The game is positioned in a selected large, flat park space in the shape of a virtual circle, which holds the game content kids can play. The idea was born during last month’s Parks Week celebrations, where 47 Australian councils and 19 NZ councils put their heads together to find a way to kick kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, interacting with their families at the same time. The project is a partnership between The Parks and Leisure Australia, the New Zealand Recreation Association and Kiwi game developer Geo AR Games. Magical Park attracted over 24,000 park visitors during Parks Week, with an average of 1069 number of game sessions played per day and participants running an average of 1.45km per game. Families across Australia and New Zealand spent more than 1,200 hours playing Magical Park together. Councils pay a subscription fee for the app, which is geo-located to a specific park. The app will only open in a designated park area. The families find out about the app via the council or through signs put up in the park by their council. The hotspots for gaming activity were Heywood Park in Unley, Perth; the Wilson Botanic Garden in the City of Casey, Melbourne and Westward Park in Clarence Valley Council in NSW. Teresa Turner, New Plymouth District Council’s Recreation and Culture Manager, praised the app. “I think what really appealed was that families could do this together – parents and kids both could hunt for dinosaurs and fairies and swap stories about their experiences after.” GEO AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz said: “Augmented reality is a powerful tool to get kids engaged and we have had a lot of queries from schools, who would like us to develop educational content. “We have another product on our road map, which will eventually allow kids to upload their own 3D models and build their own worlds and games to share with their friends in their local park.” Brian Eales, Principal from the Clive Primary School in New Zealand voted the trial a success. “Magical Park opens up a whole new dimension for children linking the engaging world of devices and the great outdoors. “It allows for the creative use of devices and mathematical concepts while maintaining physical activity. It can strengthen the tuakana teina relationship when older students work with young students.”     Sue Wilson, Assistant Principal from the Pomaria Primary School in Henderson, Auckland agreed it had had a positive effect on children’s learning, increasing in both writing and oral language skills. While some councils are looking at bringing Magical Park back for the school holidays, permanent Magical Parks are set up in Heywood Park in the City of Unley and Rhodes Park in Kwinana. Magical Park is the second augmented reality app from Geo AR Games. The company also developed Sharks in the Park, which brought an underwater world to kids in parks across New Zealand in 2016. For more information visit www.magicalpark.net Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => Move over Pokemon, new app draws kids to urban parks [post_excerpt] => Local councils use Magical Park. 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