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                    [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.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-02-17 10:38:57
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                    [post_content] => 
      By Deborah Jackson, Editor National Liquor News A proposal to ban alcohol advertising on public transport in Western Australia has been slammed by the alcohol industry. The Western Australia Labor party has announced that a future Labor Government would honour current advertising contracts but would ban all new advertising of alcohol-related products on public transport. It is understood that the Liberal-led Government does not support a ban because advertising on public transport generates about $7 million in revenue per year of which about 10 per cent is generated through alcohol-related advertising, and all advertising on public assets must comply with industry advertising standards, which is the case in WA. Fergus Taylor, the Executive Director of Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) said that the Labor Government's stance is poorly thought out and is not supported by credible research or data. “This is a poor policy decision taken on the run without industry consultation and isn’t even supported by official Government data,” Taylor said. “The government has made a sensible decision to reject this proposal after a more thorough assessment of the evidence.   Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout.  [post_title] => Proposed booze advertising ban on WA public transport [post_excerpt] => But $7m revenue at stake. 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The usual rules are that when a freeze is on, jobs can only be filled internally, although there are often exemptions such as some frontline staff, fixed-term positions linked to specific projects and critical or revenue-raising positions that cannot be filled internally. Responses to the hiring ban can include staff acting up or people being transferred or seconded, or the dreaded: hiring contractors. The painful Australian Public Service hiring freeze began late in 2013 and lasted until mid-2015, after more than 10,000 jobs were shed. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced a six-month halt to external recruitment in December last year, after forecasting a $3.1 billion hole in the state’s finances by the end of June 2016. Karen Evans, Managing Director of talent management company Acendre, which has many public service clients, spoke to Government News about how to survive and thrive when non-essential hiring shuts down. On paper a hiring freeze might appear grim and morale sapping but it can give also managers a chance to take stock of the people and range of skills that they have and to concentrate on training, developing and promoting them. It can also force people to think more strategically and critically about how efficiently they are working and to streamline processes. Of course, it may also leave staff feeling overworked or fearful about losing their jobs in the future. Ms Evans said human resources had an “absolutely critical role” to play - even in the short term - to support staff, explain the changes and manage them through it. “HR needs to get itself geared up to support their organisation, particularly initially,” she said. “A lot of managers will be wanting to fill critical roles where they may not be able to. How does HR support them? “There are changes but there are also huge opportunities with something like this. It’s a chance to think outside the box,” Ms Evans said. “Personally, I would be saying don’t try to sit tight and just wait it out.” She suggested managers looked at the roles and skills of the staff that they do have and list the skills and roles needed within the organisation. “Put development plans in place to revise or change roles that you actually need.” The focus should then be on upskilling staff and giving them opportunities to take on different responsibilities, perform new tasks or accept leadership roles in order to drive their enthusiasm. “People can get a lot of up and cross-skilling and their engagement really lifts. Put development plans in place for individuals. [Ask] can you merge or upskill roles?” There is also the chance to work more closely with other departments and agencies and collaborate on projects or even share staff. For example, the federal government's hiring freeze, it set up a business centre made up of part-time staff and underused staff and funnelled excess work from various teams. Ms Evans said it was also important to look at staff ready to redeploy and think about how to get them working in another department or agency. It can also be useful to seek advice from other departments or the same department at a different level of government that have already been through a hiring freeze. Brisbane City Council reduced the number of contracts it had and moved functions in-house. “It was a huge saving and it really drove engagement from people within the organisation, being able to do different things and increase their capabilities. It also helped teams work together in a more effective way,” she said. Despite the opportunities available, there is no point pretending that everyone will be happy about the freeze. It could lower morale, hit productivity or lead to employees walking out the door. The key to preventing this situation is to engage staff early on, explain what the changes might mean to them and come up with a plan to mitigate the more harmful effects, said Ms Evans. "Use this as an opportunity because I do think it is one.” [post_title] => Best of 2016: How to survive and thrive under a public sector hiring freeze [post_excerpt] => Upskill, collaborate, communicate. 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 kwinana-refinery

By C&I Week. BP has announced it has agreed to renew its state agreement with the Western Australian state government for a further 30 years, subject to parliamentary approval. The renewal of the agreement will enable the ongoing operation of Kwinana Refinery, Australia’s largest refinery and a significant contributor to the local economy.It has been introduced to the WA parliament as a bill with modernised terms, including a focus on ensuring local businesses continue to have access to supply chain opportunities generated by the refinery. Read more here. This story first appeared in C&I Week. [post_title] => BP renews Kwinana Refinery agreement with WA government [post_excerpt] => Another 30 years. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bp-renews-kwinana-refinery-agreement-wa-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-18 10:15:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-17 23:15:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25369 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24647 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-08-09 10:09:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-09 00:09:24 [post_content] =>  Women in mining   A mentoring program that helps women working in remote areas in traditionally testosterone-fuelled industries like mining and construction is gaining traction. The federal government announced a further $490,000 this week for the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) e-mentoring program. The e-Mentoring program, an initiative of the Australian Mines and Metal’s Association (AMMA), is designed to attract and retain women in the resource, allied and construction industries by overcoming some of the disadvantages of living and working in remote regions, working irregular hours and low female representation. The money will fund an additional 100 places, some of this targeting indigenous women and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.  The nine-month program is individually tailored and works using email, chat, Skpe, phone as well as discussion forums. Mentors can be male or female, provided they have experience in resource and allied industries or construction. Training webinars guide mentees and mentors during the program and there is ongoing advice and evaluation.   Woman at the Lake Vermont Coal mine in Queensland_opt Lake Vermont coal mine, QLD.   The program’s is to help women in these industries set goals and how to achieve them, plan their careers, develop problem solving skills and boost confidence.  The federal Minister for Women Michaelia Cash announced the funding at the AMMA National Conference in Perth last week. Government funding has already supported the program to successfully match 100 pairs of mentors and mentees between 2014 and 2016. Cash said the government was committed to a range of private sector initiatives that helped women succeed in traditionally male dominated roles and industries. “The government is dedicated to encouraging women to take up positions in industries with a prevalence of men,” Cash said. “We must challenge stereotypical industries and encourage women to enter a career that is not traditionally dominated by their gender. “To truly empower women’s workforce choices, we must remove barriers preventing women entering and succeeding in traditionally male dominated industries, such as the resource industry. [post_title] => Support for women working remotely in blokey industries [post_excerpt] => eMentoring for success. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cash-for-women-working-in-remotely-blokey-industries [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-08-09 10:39:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-08-09 00:39:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24647 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24375 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-07-08 12:15:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-08 02:15:48 [post_content] =>   Racing Greyhounds taking a corner at a track in Florida. You may also be interested in: The ACT looks set to follow NSW Premier Mike Baird’s decision to ban greyhound racing but other states and territories are holding out. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr called the Special Commission of Inquiry’s report “damning” and added “there is no future for this industry in the ACT.” Mr Barr said a significant number of trainers that raced in Canberra were based in NSW. “It is untenable for the ACT Government to continue allowing and financially supporting the practice of greyhound racing. “The government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the sort of behaviour and cruelty uncovered by the Special Commission of Inquiry.” The reckoning may come swiftly for greyhound racing in the territory as the ACT government's MOU with the ACT racing industry is up for review in mid-2017. Mr Baird announced the ban after receiving a horrifying report into the state’s greyhound industry by high court judge Michael McHugh. The report found that up to 70,000 healthy dogs were exterminated over a period of 12 years because they were not considered to be fast enough and a further 136 dogs died after suffering “catastrophic” injuries during races. Live baiting, where a possum, rabbit or piglet is used to train a dog was “widespread” and there was evidence of doping, with dogs being fed steroids, caffeine and amphetamines. Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) was found guilty of routinely covering up the deaths and injuries of dogs and giving a free pass to live-baiting. Animal Welfare League CEO Andrew Maso told the ABC said he had "no doubt" other states would take their cue from NSW and ban greyhound racing. "What we've seen in the United States is that states, one by one, have been banning greyhound racing over there and there's now only a handful of states that have greyhound racing," he said. "I've got no doubt that's exactly what's going to happen in Australia." But his prediction does not appear to be quite so certain of being fulfilled. Victoria has no plans to outlaw greyhound racing, despite several inquiries and the practice of live-baiting being uncovered. Greyhound Racing Victoria has said it is making every effort to clean up the sport by acting on a clutch of recommendations from two separate inquiries. South Australia won’t be implementing a ban either, with Sports Minister Leon Bignell claiming greyhound racing in his state was clean and insisting there were no evidence of cruelty or corruption. Joining the ranks of refusers are Queensland and Western Australia. Queensland Racing Minister Grace Grace said the industry was on its final warning but she disappointed animal welfare groups by adding that the industry was capable of redemption so a ban could be avoided. Greyhounds WA chief David Hobbs said there were only three racing tracks in the state, compared with NSW’s 29, and argued there was much better oversight of the industry in WA. "Wrongly, Western Australia has, to a degree, been tarnished with a very broad brush with what's happened on the east coast," Mr Hobbs told news.com. "We've worked very hard to get the industry where it is today, we have a very clean industry.” Over in Western Australia, a Racing and Wagering WA inquiry did not uncover any significant evidence of malpractice and found no evidence of live bating being used as a training technique. Tasmanian greyhound trainers are awaiting the results of a joint select committee inquiry into the industry. The Tasmanian government has ruled out rushing to ban greyhound racing on the back of the NSW boycott. Meanwhile, greyhound adoption agencies are calling for more funding amid fears they will be swamped by retired dogs or that there will be a mass slaughter of dogs, possibly done overseas, in the run up to the ban kicking in next year. [post_title] => ACT chases greyhound racing ban, other states unrepentant [post_excerpt] => Reaction to NSW ban. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => act-chases-greyhound-racing-ban-states-unrepentant [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-07-08 12:15:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-07-08 02:15:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24375 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22822 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-01-21 09:03:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-20 22:03:00 [post_content] => All together   Since 1988, the number of fee-paying international students at universities in NSW has increased 13-fold. Today, one in every five students studying at a university in NSW is an international student. The income generated by these students makes up approximately 17% of the state’s university operating revenues and, in some cases, has become essential to funding a range of other activities around campuses. Of course, Australian universities are not the only attractive destinations for those looking to study abroad. Increasingly, the local tertiary sector has had to compete with universities in the same state, interstate and around the world to maintain its foothold. Pursuing this steady profit stream has, however, thrown into question the academic capabilities of the international students being recruited, the legitimacy of the grades they subsequently receive, the conduct of academics as a result of added pressures and a university’s overall obligations to standards and good governance. In April, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) released its findings into a research project on these and other issues. The paper reveals that some universities in NSW are entering markets where document fraud and cheating on English-language proficiency tests are known to exist and that some are using up to 300 local intermediaries or agents to market to and recruit students, resulting in due diligence and control challenges. This has resulted in a “student capability gap” (a gap between the capability of the student and the academic demands of the course) and pressures on staff within universities in NSW to pass students in order to continue to meet recruitment and budgetary targets – pressures that are conducive to corruption. Although there are no simple solutions to these problems, the Commission has identified 12 corruption prevention initiatives that NSW universities should consider adapting and adopting as appropriate to their organisation, for example:
  • considering the full costs associated with international students of different capabilities when making marketing decisions (that is, understanding profit rather than revenue contributes to a more robust minimum capability standard being established)
  • limiting the number of overseas agents with which the universities work, where possible
  • altering incentive structures applicable to agents in order to encourage the provision of quality students (for example, performance ranking-based payments, payments linked to student progress at various stages, and payments linked to long-term performance of the agent)
  • separating the compliance function from the business development function (for example, moving the admission functions out of international student offices that are responsible for marketing and recruitment and limiting the impact of international student numbers on faculty budgets)
  • assessing risk in markets and using this to develop risk treatments (for example, strengthening due diligence on agents, targeting of specific students, increasing vetting for students from high-risk markets or withdrawing from the market)
  • building on university strengths, where possible, to develop niche international operations capable of attracting higher-capability students.
  • The report, Learning the hard way: managing corruption risks associated with international students at universities in NSW, is available from the ICAC website at www.icac.nsw.gov.au
  By Hon Megan Latham, Commissioner, Independent Commission Against Corruption, New South Wales. West’s CCC gets new chief Julian Bajkowski New South Wales and its Independent Commission Against Corruption might hog the limelight when it comes to exposing the questionable dealings of some of state’s politicians, but the august institution could soon some have competition in generating headlines from across the Nullarbor. After more than a year without a permanent head, the Western Australian government and the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission have finally announced Supreme Court Justice John McKechnie QC will now head the powerful agency tasked with ferreting out graft, kickbacks and abuse of power in law enforcement and the public sector. The length of time finding a suitable and willing candidate to replace Roger Macknay, QC, who quit on 14 April 2014, has underscored the difficulty of the job which had previously spanned across both major crime and corruption to less serious minor misconduct and governance education functions. In what appears to be a substantial concession to the CCC and an acknowledgement of the urgency and resources needed to address higher level malfeasance, WA Premier Colin Barnett and his Attorney General Michael Mischin revealed that minor and less serious casework will be run by the Public Sector Commissioner, along with education. Mr Mischin said Mr McKechnie’s appointment came after “an extensive selection process by a nominating committee presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court, and a community representative, and had the bipartisan support of the members of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission.” The Barnett government is certainly talking-up its new watchdog’s ability and determination to bite crooks. “Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1999, Justice McKechnie spent more than eight years as the State’s inaugural Director of Public Prosecutions,” the Mr Barnett said. “He has developed a formidable reputation in the investigation and prosecution of crime and will bring to the office considerable experience in the management of an independent statutory authority.” The CCC itself is selling its new head’s focus on cleaning up the state’s police force. Announcing Mr McKechnie’s appointment the CCC said he took over leadership at a time when the organisation was repositioning itself for a “second decade of operation, with a keen focus on serious misconduct and oversight of the Western Australia Police.” In February a CCC investigation led to the conviction of two WA cops for illegally planting tracking a device on the car of one of the men’s partners. The Magistrate in the case said that one of the convicted policemen probably put the tracking device in place as a favour to a mate trying to find out if his partner was cheating on him and rejected sworn evidence that one of the officers was trying to find out who was selling drugs to his partner. Qld councils cold on fraud audit The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has fired back over a sharply critical report on fraud management in the state’s councils issued by the Queensland Audit Office that has called a tougher approach to compel better reporting of losses and record keeping of allegations. The took issue with how accurate the disclosure of fraud is within Queensland councils, saying that “almost two-thirds of councils surveyed (63 per cent) claimed to have had no confirmed cases of fraud over the past five-years” – a figure the Audit Office said was inconsistent with global research. But the chief executive of the LGAQ, Greg Hallam, has defended councils’ performance on managing fraud. “We believe systems councils have in place are largely working in that confirmed fraud cases were detected and dealt with,” Mr Hallam said. “Risk management strategies, increased internal audit function requirements, registers of interest, and disclosure of conflicts of interest and material personal interests, with significant penalties for breaches, are all means by which fraud can be limited and controlled.” The peak body for councils is also pointing to the low value of fraud losses against the backdrop of large expenditure. “The Auditor-General established that councils have reported 324 cases of alleged and proven fraud between July 2009 and November 2014 involving sums totalling $8.6 million. This is against the backdrop of some $36 billion of total expenditure by local governments in this period,” Mr Hallam said. Mr Hallam said there would always be “individuals who attempt to take advantage of the system but there is no evidence of systemic failure requiring more regulatory controls.” Even so, he said the LGAQ will continue to work with the Queensland (state) Government “to ensure local councils can respond effectively to the risks of fraud.” The Audit report found, through a survey of councils it conducted, that local governments in Queensland did not provide a fraud loss value for 58 per cent of their fraud cases. Some 44 per cent of councils indicated they do not have a system to manage their fraud information, the Audit Report said. This story first appeared in Government News magazine June/July 2015.  [post_title] => Tackling tertiary corruption [post_excerpt] => ICAC corruption prevention initiatives. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => tackling-tertiary-corruption [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-21 11:35:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-21 00:35:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22822 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21804 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-10-14 17:52:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-14 06:52:17 [post_content] => Courier banks into 77 Saint Georges Terrace in Perth, WA   Western Australia’s largely flat and mild weathered capital of Perth might be prime territory for a cycling revolution, but its 2014 master plan to get citizens using a city-wide bike path network is already being badly let down by a lack of informed planning and sustained funding. That’s the grim conclusion of the Western Australian Office of the Auditor General whose report into “Safe and Viable Cycling in the Perth Metropolitan Area” has taken serious issue with the slow progress of the Western Australian Bicycle Network Plan 2014 2031 (or WABN Plan) that was supposed to facilitate the rollout of a citywide network and cycle ways firmly on the map. The report is a loud wake-up call for councils and the state government in the West as Perth battles increasingly congested roads. The big idea behind the original WABN Plan was to make cycling in WA “safe, connected, convenient and a widely-accepted form of transport” with the WA Department of Transport (DoT) coordinating the activities of agencies in delivering cycling facilities. However the Audit found that less than half (48 per cent) of a previously planned ‘Principal Shared Path (PSP) cycle network’ has been completed. And of the existing routes, the Audit observed that many sections “lack connectivity, and older paths need upgrading if they are to cater for increasing demand.” A major deterrent to successfully promoting cycling as a mainstream transportation mode is poor connectivity between designated cycleways, especially where riders are forced into the flow of vehicle traffic creating dangers for all concerned. To avoid that life threatening scenario, the WA Department of Transport and councils were supposed to conduct a review of local cycling routes, including in Perth’s CBD -- but authorities are yet to mount-up. “A planned review of local routes, including within the Perth Central Business District (CBD) needs to be completed. Local government roads and paths vary in design and level of maintenance, which do not always comply with relevant standards and good practice guidelines. This creates conflicting and less safe conditions for cycling,” the Audit report said. There is also real concern that the lack of momentum could see the project stall. “DoT has not yet compared the economic, environmental, health and social benefits of cycling with other transport options,” the Audit report said. “DoT has also yet to complete a detailed implementation plan for the WABN Plan and transport agencies have not outlined funding requirements for each of the key actions. This is likely to jeopardise the timely completion of a well-connected cycle network.” The report also observed that historically cycle routes that connected with the Principal Shared Network haven’t been well planned and vary in their design and construction. “The result is an inconsistent and unconnected local cycle network which lacks integration into the broader transport system,” the Audit said. The poor report card has also resulted in the WA government being told to hurry up and get its act together. The Auditor has recommended that the Department of Transport “prepare and publish a WABN Plan implementation schedule with funding requirements, and a progress report on WABN Plan actions” within just six months. Transport authorities have also been told that they should put in place an improved strategy “to collect, monitor and analyse data on cycling participation to inform planning and safety.” Over the next two years Transport has been told it should: •    Identify demand for transport options to inform and finalise a transport planning framework for Perth, which integrates all forms of transport; •    Progress the review and development of Local Bicycle Routes with LGAs Government should also consider developing a central cycling crash and hazard reporting facility, the Audit said. The Audit recommended that within the next five years “DoT and Main Roads should support and promote existing and new cycling infrastructure, including innovations trialled by LGAs, to improve participation in cycling.” WA Government pedals forward Perhaps anticipating the critical review, the WA State Government released its blueprint for Perth’s new $27 million cycling network on the same as the Audit report – which fortuitously happened to be Ride2Work Day. The plans flesh out an expansion of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure the WA government says is part of its Western Australian Bicycle Network Plan 2014-2031 “which guides the continued delivery of cycling infrastructure to meet the need for convenient safe cycling routes.” (Click here for the PDF map) Specifically, the WA State Government said the $27 million $27.07 million would be spent on expanding the network of principal shared paths at key locations that include: Fremantle Rail line: •    Shenton Park to Loch Street Station •    Grant Street to Cottesloe Station •    Cottesloe to Victoria Street Station Midland Rail line: •    Guildford Bridge to Railway Parade •    Guildford Station to East Street •    East Street to Morrison Road Mitchell Freeway: •    Civic Place to Karrinyup Road •    Karrinyup Road to Erindale Road Major Projects: •    Northlink WA •    Malaga Drive interchange •    Gateway WA •    Roe Highway •    Roe 8 •    Mitchell Freeway extension. "The growing success of cycling in Western Australia is shown by a 34 per cent increase in the number of cyclists using our cycling and walking paths since 2011," WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder said. [post_title] => Perth’s stalled grand bike path plan gets fresh kick-start [post_excerpt] => Transport department and councils criticised in report. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => perths-stalled-grand-bike-path-plan-gets-fresh-kick-start [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-14 17:52:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-14 06:52:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21804 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20983 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-08-11 10:57:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-11 00:57:43 [post_content] => JUST SAY NO Local councils in Western Australia are gearing up for a fight after WA Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said he wanted a ‘discussion’ on council rates and WA Premier Colin Barnett called some council rate rises “unacceptable”. Mr Simpson had initially threatened to hold a ministerial inquiry into council rates, which would have included the possibility of introducing rate capping – a regime loathed by NSW councils, that have been saddled with it since 1978. An inquiry would have been sure to look at whether to yoke rate increases to the Consumer Price Index, which is currently at its lowest in years, or to the Local Government Cost Index, which measures how much council expenditure has risen. Last month, WA Premier Colin Barnett slammed recent WA council rate rises, some of which were double the CPI of 2.5 per cent and said that the government was looking at ways of forcing councils to keep a lid on rate rises. But the state government’s comments have left the WA Local Government Association (WALGA) hopping mad. WALGA President Lynne Craigie has warned that if rate capping goes head in WA the state would wind up with drastically run-down infrastructure as councils scrambled to underwrite maintenance costs and spent far less on asset management, a process which she said had been happening for years in NSW. Ms Craigie also hit back at state government criticisms of local council rate increases. “Local Government is the only sphere of government that isn’t operating in a massive deficit situation,” Ms Craigie said. “Criticism of local government rates’ increases above 5 per cent doesn’t compare to State charges increasing far beyond this such as the Emergency Services Levy, up 10.6 per cent; street lighting up 7.5 per cent and water up 6 per cent, to name a few,” she said. “So if State charges are a measure of the cost increases that the community is capable of absorbing, council rates don't deserve anywhere near the level of attention being directed at them by the Premier.” She said rate capping would not improve service delivery to ratepayers. "Rate capping isn't good financial management. It creates a higher expense in the long run, that the State will ultimately have to take responsibility for. "This approach begs the question of what the State’s true agenda might be. Whatever the questions are about Local Government, I'm absolutely certain that rate capping doesn't hold the answers.” Relations have been somewhat strained between local and state government in WA since Mr Barnett failed in his bid to reduce the number of Perth’s metropolitan councils from 30 to 16, following a backlash from communities and councils. Mr Barnett has since blamed some of the highest council rates hikes on this failed amalgamation attempt, saying that in many cases it was smaller councils putting up rates and blaming councils for rejecting reforms, an accusation which WALGA rejects. But Ms Craigie said that “a public slanging match” would not help diffuse the situation, “I would like to think we could have a genuine, adult, conversation about what concerns the State Government has and the best way to go about resolving them in partnership”. “There is no denying that it's absolutely critical we participate in a discussion with our State Government in the context of reviewing all taxes, including rates, in that debate,” Cr Craigie said. [post_title] => WA councils rail against rate capping [post_excerpt] => Minister backs away from inquiry but wants discussion. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-councils-rail-against-rate-capping [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-08-11 11:58:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-08-11 01:58:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20983 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20883 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-08-04 17:09:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-04 07:09:14 [post_content] => pricey   Laws on brothels, soliciting and escort services differ wildly from state to state, a parliamentary research paper has found. The NSW Parliamentary Research Services ‘Issues Backgrounder’ paper, which came out in July, was written to help inform the parliamentary inquiry into NSW brothels and provides a comprehensive overview of the legalities surrounding sex work in different Australian states. The results show that sex workers experience vastly different levels of regulation and criminalisation depending on which state they work. They are also treated differently according to whether they work privately, in brothels or in escort agencies. For example, brothels are banned in South Australia, NT and Tasmania but NSW, Queensland, Victoria and ACT all permit them. While NSW brothels only need to secure planning approval, ACT, Queensland and Victorian brothels must be registered or licensed. NSW is the only state where it’s legal to solicit in a public place, although it must be away from houses, hospitals, playgrounds and schools. Escorts agencies are illegal in SA and Queensland, require a license in Victoria and NT and registration in ACT but are permitted and unregulated in NSW and appear unregulated in WA. Private sex work is also treated unevenly as is advertising sex services and laws variously state whether people are allowed to work from their own homes, on an outcall basis. For example, private sex workers are unregulated in NSW; they are unregulated too in Queensland but they must work alone and they must use condoms. In Victoria you can work for yourself or with one other person as a private escort, although you need a brothel licence (or be exempt from holding one) to operate from your own home. In the Northern Territory private sex workers are can only do outcall work but they may advertise their services. The Scarlet Alliance, the national peak body for Australian sex workers, has long argued for decriminalisation saying it improves the health, education and safety of sex workers, promotes better compliance and follows world’s best practice in the industry. However, the Alliance has also argued that the NSW system does not need further reform or licencing laws. Sex work was decriminalised in NSW in 1996. The NSW inquiry is run by the Select Committee on the Regulation of Brothels, which is chaired by barrister and Kur-ring-gai MP Alister Henskens, and it has pledged to examine the current regulation of brothels at local and state government levels and the demarcation of responsibilities. It will also explore the health, social and planning challenges brothels present and possible options to reform the current system, which could include licencing or registration for legal brothels. The inquiry will also consider the protection of sex workers and take into account sex trafficking and organised crime, the location of sex service premises including their proximity to homes, schools and playgrounds and the penalties and powers needed to shut down brothels. One of the prime movers behind the inquiry is complaints from NSW councils that it is difficult, time consuming and expensive to shut down illegal brothels, for example, massage parlours offering "happy endings". Councils have contended that they face an uphill battle in court to shut down illegal operations. The most famous case is Hornsby Council in Sydney, which used a private investigator to go undercover inside premises and have sex with a prostitute to prove it was operating as an illegal brothel. The parlour was next door to a primary school tutoring centre and 50 meters from a girls' high school. The judge dismissed the case, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the premises was a brothel because the council had not shown that more than one prostitute was operating from the building. The NSW parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of brothels is open for public submissions until August 19 and the report is due by November 12. [post_title] => Sex work: Australia’s most permissive and restrictive states [post_excerpt] => NSW brothel inquiry reveals laws differ wildly between states. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sex-work-australias-most-permissive-and-restrictive-states [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-02 13:22:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-02 03:22:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20883 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20679 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-07-20 14:30:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-20 04:30:48 [post_content] => PC purchase The Western Australian Government has called for submissions for an inquiry it announced last month into information and communications technology procurement and contract management in the state. The WA public sector spends at least $1 billion per year on ICT goods and services. Explaining the need for an inquiry, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has issued a statement saying: “Over the last ten years, consecutive governments have struggled to ensure that the significant expenditure on ICT is achieving the best possible outcomes. “The WA Government has been criticised by industry, the media and the Auditor General for its lack of capacity in delivering ICT projects and achieving positive ICT outcomes more generally.” The inquiry is the result of a 2014 report by Auditor-General Colin Murphy, which found the state was paying much more than it needed to for ICT and should tighten its technology procurement practices. The WA Government announced in its May state budget that it would cut more than $100 million from the ICT budgets of individual departments and agencies, establish instead a central ‘ICT Renewal and Reform’ fund, and appoint a state Chief Information Officer, who will sit within the Department of Finance and develop a whole of government ICT plan. The PAC says submissions should address any of the following questions:
  • What are the common problems witnessed in public sector delivery of ICT goods and services?
  • What elements represent best practice in ICT delivery?
  • How do we best measure or define success in ICT delivery?
  • What are the latest developments (domestic or international), in the area of government ICT systems?
  • What jurisdictions (domestic or international) have adopted the latest developments in government ICT systems that have demonstrably reduced the cost, and improved the delivery, of government services?
  • Could such systems be incorporated into Western Australia? If so, what factors need to be taken into account to ensure successful implementation?
The PAC says the inquiry may also show how new technologies and service delivery models might “present new ways for governments to deliver services, engage with the community and save costs.” It lists these as:
  • Implementing policies that drive and guide government adoption of new service delivery models and technologies, such as cloud computing.
  • Stimulating and developing local industry through universities, start-ups and small to medium enterprises.
  • Creating online ‘one stop shop’ portals to rationalise and simplify government services.
  • Centralisation and consolidation strategies to reduce costs such as purpose built government data centres.
  • Revisiting and redeveloping ICT procurement strategies and frameworks.
Submissions close on 11 September 2015 and the PAC intends reporting to Parliament by 28 August 2016.       [post_title] => Procurement inquiry to shake up WA ICT [post_excerpt] => Attempt to rectify past problems [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => procurement-inquiry-to-shake-up-wa-ict [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-23 14:09:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-23 04:09:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20679 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19330 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-04-27 18:35:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-27 08:35:24 [post_content] => Australia : WA : Perth : Police   New South Wales and its Independent Commission Against Corruption might hog the limelight when it comes to exposing the questionable dealings of some of state’s politicians, but the august institution could soon some have competition in generating headlines from across the Nullarbor. After more than a year without a permanent head, the Western Australian government and the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission have finally announced Supreme Court Justice John McKechnie QC will now head the powerful agency tasked with ferreting out graft, kickbacks and abuse of power in law enforcement and the public sector. The length of time finding a suitable and willing candidate to replace Roger Macknay, QC, who quit on 14 April 2014, has underscored the difficulty of the job which had previously spanned across both major crime and corruption to less serious minor misconduct and governance education functions. In what appears to be a substantial concession to the CCC and an acknowledgement of the urgency and resources needed to address higher level malfeasance, WA Premier Colin Barnett and his Attorney General Michael Mischin revealed that minor and less serious casework will be run by the Public Sector Commissioner, along with education. Mr Mischin said Mr McKechnie’s appointment came after “an extensive selection process by a nominating committee presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court, and a community representative, and had the bipartisan support of the members of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission.” The Barnett government is certainly talking-up its new watchdog’s ability and determination to bite crooks. “Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1999, Justice McKechnie spent more than eight years as the State’s inaugural Director of Public Prosecutions,” the Mr Barnett said. “He has developed a formidable reputation in the investigation and prosecution of crime and will bring to the office considerable experience in the management of an independent statutory authority.” The CCC itself is selling its new head’s focus on cleaning up the state’s police force. Announcing Mr McKechnie’s appointment the CCC said he took over leadership at a time when the organisation was repositioning itself for a “second decade of operation, with a keen focus on serious misconduct and oversight of the Western Australia Police.” In February a CCC investigation led to the conviction of two WA cops for illegally planting tracking a device on the car of one of the men’s partners. The Magistrate in the case said that one of the convicted policemen probably put the tracking device in place as a favour to a mate trying to find out if his partner was cheating on him and rejected sworn evidence that one of the officers was trying to find out who was selling drugs to his partner. [post_title] => WA finally names new Corruption Commission head [post_excerpt] => Supreme Court Justice John McKechnie QC to head CCC. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-finally-names-new-corruption-commission-head [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-04-30 22:06:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-30 12:06:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=19330 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18878 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-04-02 15:10:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-02 04:10:09 [post_content] => WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? It's a bold and innovative bid to massively expand a state government CCTV network coverage at a relatively low cost that could soon set a precedent for other states and territories in Australia. The Western Australian  government is encouraging local councils, government departments and organisations with multiple CCTV cameras to connect their vision directly to police and emergency services to provide live footage and help solve and prevent crimes, prevent terrorist attacks and speed-up emergency services’ response times. The draft Western Australian State CCTV Strategy released earlier this week, seeks to establish a state network of CCTV cameras facing public areas and crime hotspots like roads, parks and pavements by asking people to voluntarily sign-up to WA Police’s Blue Iris register, which was set up in 2009. Organisations such as local councils and Main Roads WA are expected to be ‘high value donors’ as they have multiple, public-facing CCTV cameras, and the focus will be on getting these donors ‘connected’ so that WA Police can directly access their live or recorded footage. Local councils are eligible to apply for grant funding to upgrade their existing systems for easier data retrieval and sharing. Police are more likely to request data from individuals and smaller businesses when needed, rather than to expect live feeds. Police will be the primary user of this material but other third parties, like local councils, could also benefit. The strategy says: “By co-ordinating the State’s CCTV assets, the Strategy will improve the ability of WA Police and other agencies to gather intelligence and respond to emergency situations in a more efficient and effective manner. “Having access to a greater number of CCTV resources is expected to enhance the situational awareness of these agencies, improve their ability to allocate resources across multiple incidents, monitor crime hotspots and gather evidence for legal purposes.” But there are some major hurdles that need to be overcome first. The draft strategy acknowledges that data sharing can be problematic because there are so many different CCTV systems in use, as well as manufacturer-specific or rare file formats. The aim is also to provide guidance on system configuration and employing simple and usable file formats so data sharing becomes easier. The report says: “by facilitating better information sharing between donors and clients the Strategy aims to accelerate investigation outcomes whilst reducing the impact of CCTV footage retrieval on daily operations”. It is not just CCTV that falls under the strategy. The WA police is keen to get every smartphone or table owner out there relaying footage of emergency situations and reporting crimes as they unfold with a ‘mobile video sharing solution’, the details of which are not yet known. A State CCTV Strategy Taskforce and Secretariat will be established, the state register Blue Iris will be redesigned and relaunched, a mobile video sharing solution explored and CCTV criteria, guidelines and procedures developed for the state followed by grand funding rounds for CCTV upgrades for high value donors. The government has also pledged to review existing legislation around privacy, surveillance and security to address any gaps or concerns. The four elements of the strategy are:
  • Refreshing the existing State CCTV Register to provide better functionality and operability for those CCTV owners who want to voluntarily provide information about CCTV cameras facing public areas.
  • Provide criteria and guidelines and improve information available for public and private owners of CCTV systems to ensure systems are fit-for-purpose.
  • Providing direct connection between owners of CCTV cameras facing public spaces to enable WA Police to increase responsiveness to critical incidents.
WA Police Minister Liza Harvey was unavailable for comment. [post_title] => Cops eye massive voluntary CCTV expansion [post_excerpt] => WA Police want access to council and private CCTV footage. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cops-eye-massive-voluntary-cctv-expansion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-04-07 09:39:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-06 23:39:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=18878 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18491 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-03-12 12:49:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-12 01:49:45 [post_content] =>  The Modern Horror Film Cash strapped librarians and councils have thrown the book at the potential forced closure of a raft of libraries run by the local government sector in Western Australia after the revelation of a leaked proposal to snatch funds from the State Library which acts as the backbone for collections offered by smaller suburban and rural institutions. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has confirmed it is now drawing up a list of Western Australian libraries that could face closure should the state government go ahead with its proposed cuts to the State Library of Western Australia in Perth. The anger comes o the back of leaked proposal written by WA Minister for Culture and the Arts John Day that showed the Barnett government is considering slashing State Library funding by a so far unknown amount, potentially forcing the institution to undertake painful cost saving options likely to flow onto suburban libraries that rely on its collections and financial support to survive. The leak also revealed that the State Library Board is considering closing the State Library earlier during the week and possibly at weekends in an attempt to claw back cash. ALIA president Sue McKerracher said that many of the state’s 232 libraries relied on books, DVDs and other resources from the State Library. “[In] some libraries 80 per cent of their collection comes from the State Library and they will become unviable,” Ms McKerracher said. “They’re talking about the opening hours of the State Library being reduced below every other state and it’s the potential closure of a number of libraries in WA. About 2.8 million books, DVDS etc that are lent out by the public libraries are lent by the State Library and that’s the service that will be under threat,” she said. ALIA is currently cataloging which libraries could be exposed and whose collections are comprised of 75 per cent of more from State Library lending. “We’re trying to work out which libraries are under the greatest threat and we will be prepared to go public with that list if the State government pursues this route but we wouldn’t want to be scaremongering,” Ms McKerracher said. She said there had been “an absolute outcry” in Western Australia over the plans to cut public libraries and more than 300 ALIA members have already emailed Mr Day to voice their opposition to the changes. Ms McKerracher said she hoped the government would reconsider its plans. “I think the State government will be surprised by the fervour of the reaction from communities so I would imagine that would give them pause and perhaps rethink what they’re going to do.” It won’t just be public libraries that will be hoping for a reprieve when the state budget is announced on May 14. Local councils will directly suffer if state government library funding is wound back. Chief executive of the Western Australian Local Government Association, Ricky Burges, said the cuts could prove disastrous for councils, who already picked up 88 per cent of the tab for the state’s public libraries when the split used to be 50:50. Last year the state government spent $10 million on books while local councils threw in more than $120 million for premises, books, administration and wages. “Our WA people are very nervous about this because if people talk about it then it can happen,” Ms Burges said. “There’s a big gap there already and we know that service costs increased by 118 per cent over the last period.” Ms Burges said councils were also worried about the impact the cuts would have on communities, who usually reacted strongly when their libraries were threatened. “Libraries are providing much more than the books on the shelves, they are a community hub and lots of activities take place there. They run cultural and literacy programs and they build and educate communities, particularly in rural and remote areas. “The only way at the moment that local government could manage [if the cuts went ahead] would be to either cut services or increase rates and charges.” The State Library – which opened in 1889 - is WA’s most important source of historical documents, records and books. Also under threat is the State Library’s Better Beginnings program, which promotes early literacy by distributing free books and reading packs to parents of newborns and children beginning kindergarten and preschool, running interactive literacy and parenting information sessions at libraries and in the community and lends resources to childcare centres, playgroups, schools and other community groups. The WA Premier’s Book Awards has already suffered from the cuts, with the State Library, which runs the awards, cutting them from annual to biennial.   [post_title] => WA's libraries facing financial horror story [post_excerpt] => More cost shifting to councils on the cards. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => was-libraries-facing-financial-horror-story [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-13 12:55:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-13 01:55:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=18491 [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] => 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. 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