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                    [post_date] => 2018-06-22 10:03:32
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30868" align="aligncenter" width="735"] The data skills shortage is common across state and local government professionals, a peak says.[/caption]

As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public sector, local government professionals say they need investment in professional development. 

The NSW Government has announced plans to release a new set of online resources on how to find and use data after a survey of 1,000 public servants by Digital NSW found 95 per cent said they would benefit from learning more about data in their role.

Dawn Rutledge, acting government chief information, said there was an overwhelming response from those surveyed that the best way to access tools to support data capability is through e-learning.

More than half of the survey’s respondents, who came from departments across NSW, provided detailed responses about their data challenges and nominated finding and using data to inform decision making as among their key issues. 

[caption id="attachment_30874" align="alignright" width="143"] Dawn Routledge[/caption]

Ms Rutledge said the survey aimed to establish a detailed picture of what the government should “do next” and where it should focus resources to improve skills in the public service.

“The respondents talked about increasing their skills in using data, increased access to data experts, building a community to share knowledge and experience, and access to tools and resources to help them use data more effectively in their work,” she said.

According to Annalisa Haskell, chief executive of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW, local government is equally in need of support. 

“It’s the critical thinking skills and ability to do deduction, what the data is actually telling us, that’s the skill I see is missing,” she told Government News.

It’s hard because those skills come about through practice in using data and assessing what it tells us. That’s the issue we have. We have a lot of data and local government is providing significant reports but it is more limited in what it is saying about intelligence and insight.”

NSW budget fails to upskill

Ms Haskell said NSW Government needs to help to build the generalised management and analysis skills “for the future” among local government professionals.   While the state’s budget provided funding for qualifications, there was no funding for “business management and information integration skills,” she said. “Where is the funding for the hugely important skill development we need to help staff understand areas like management information and analysis? If the State Government is really committed to helping local government understand their data it could help councils with data competence,” she said. Ms Haskell, who runs the Australasian Local Government Performance Excellence Program, a voluntary council benchmarking program, said she had discussed the need for state and local government to partner on improving data capability. “State and local government need to work together much more closely. I wish to help get state and local governments working together on data issue and am working to do this so we can learn from each other and assist better community outcomes,” she said.
Don't miss our Operational Report: Data for an in-depth look at how governments are using data for intelligence and improved service delivery. Out in next Tuesday's Government News newsletter. 
[post_title] => Data skills shortage is common across state and local government: peak [post_excerpt] => As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public service, local government professionals say they also need investment in professional development. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => data-skills-shortage-is-common-across-state-and-local-government-peak [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 14:47:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 04:47:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30867 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30837 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-22 09:11:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-21 23:11:47 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30857" align="aligncenter" width="710"] Councils don't always properly analyse services or business cases before entering joint delivery: auditor.[/caption] Collaboration in local government can save money and improve access to services but a new survey shows most councils are not effectively engaging in shared services. Insufficient planning, inappropriate governance and a lack of capability are among the main factors preventing more councils in NSW from efficiently and effectively engaging in shared services, according to a new report from the state’s audit office. The report, released yesterday, also found the state’s Office of Local Government did not provide specific support or guidance to councils on how to effectively share services, despite it being a widely used delivery model across the sector. The Auditor-General has recommended the OLG produce guidance on shared services for the local government sector by April 2019. The auditor’s report, based on a survey completed by 67 councils, found 87 per cent were engaged in shared services, and 27 per cent negotiating or considering future shared services.  The most prevalent areas of joint delivery were waste and recycling, environmental, road services, procurement, asset management and human resources. 

Barriers to excellence 

However, the report identified several key factors that are preventing councils from effectively and efficiently engaging in joint services. It found that local governments do not always analyse their existing services or build a business case before entering into shared service. “At a minimum, councils should assess the costs of service delivery, the resources needed to deliver them, community needs and expectations, the possibility of cost savings and increased efficiency, and alternative service delivery models (e.g. outsourcing, shared services),” the report found. Ineffective governance models were identified as another key barrier. “For each model, councils need to determine shared services membership, decision-making processes, reporting lines, and delegations,” the report said. Given shared services arrangements can involve complex planning and negotiations, the report found that capability was another factor preventing many councils from effectively executing collaborations.   “Councils do not always have the capability to identify which services to share, negotiate with partner councils, or plan and evaluate shared service arrangements. We found that many councils do not seek out support or guidance for their shared service arrangements.”

Sources of advice 

Support for identifying, negotiating, planning and evaluating shared service arrangements is available from other councils, regional organisations, peak bodies, professional associations, universities and the private sector, the audit office said. While part of the role of OLG is to work with the sector on policy and programs intended to strengthen local government, including councils' service delivery, the report said the OLG did not provide specific support or guidance to councils about effectively sharing services. “Guidance or principles to help councils decide on effective and transparent governance models would benefit the sector,” it said. It recommended the OLG develop guidance outlining the risks and opportunities of governance models that councils can use to share services. “This should include advice on legal requirements, transparency in decisions, and accountability for effective use of public resources.” For councils, the audit office recommended they base decisions about shared services on a “sound needs analysis”, review of service delivery models and a strong business case. Councils should also ensure the governance models they choose are fit for purpose, ensuring clear roles, responsibilities and accountability. Local governments should also build the capability of councillors and council staff in the areas of assessing and managing shared services, leading to better understanding of opportunities and management of risk, the report found.

OLG: welcomes report

The OLG told Government News it welcomed the auditor’s report and its observations on strengthening local government performance in shared service delivery. “The report’s recommendation that the Office of Local Government develop guidance in the risks and opportunities of shared services will provide valuable support for councils,” a spokesperson said. “The NSW Government has recently introduced a major initiative to support council collaboration and provide a robust governance framework for councils to undertake shared services through the establishment of 11 new joint organisations. “The Office of Local Government looks forward to working with the NSW Auditor-General and the Audit Office to implement the findings of the report, as we continue to support local councils to deliver high quality, value for money services for their communities,” the spokesperson said.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
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[post_title] => Poor governance, capability hindering shared services [post_excerpt] => Collaboration in local government can save money and improve access to services but a new survey shows most councils are not effectively engaging in shared services. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => poor-governance-capability-hindering-shared-services [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 10:04:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:04:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30837 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30825 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-22 08:46:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-21 22:46:35 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30828" align="aligncenter" width="715"] Cyclones and tornados have shown how vulnerable some Queensland communities are.[/caption] From highly-equipped communities to new disaster dashboards, councils are focusing on preparedness and information in their approaches to emergency management. After a tornado ripped through Burrum Heads in 2013 leaving it isolated and without power for three days, the coastal Queensland community of some 2,000 residents knew it needed to better prepare for major emergencies. Today the town’s community centre is geared up with a generator, radio and first-aid and evacuation kits while volunteers have drafted a list of vulnerable residents who have nominated themselves as needing assistance in an emergency. Burrum Heads is one of 14 small coastal communities that are vulnerable to becoming isolated in an emergency and are taking part in a unique preparedness program initiated by Fraser Coast Regional Council. [caption id="attachment_30830" align="alignright" width="141"] Rolf Light[/caption] “What we’ve done is enabled and empowered these communities,” says Rolf Light, chair of the council’s local disaster management group. “We’ve given them a very sophisticated radio network, Red Cross evacuation kit, defibrillators, remote area first aid kits and generators,” he tells Government News. The Community Coordinator Centres program largely came about after the tornado that rocked Burrum Heads illustrated how vulnerable small coastal communities could be. “They had a horrendous tornado rip through the town which caused extensive damage and left them without power for several days. We didn’t have this program then... the one thing people were saying was they needed information. “If something like that happens now the community can get their generator going, we can talk to them on the radio, keep them updated and find out what their critical needs are.”

Volunteer training

As well as providing the communities with the essential equipment, the program also trains local residents in how to use it, as well as how to man evacuation centres more broadly.  “We’ve put them through disaster coordination centre training, radio training and Red Cross training,” says Cr Light. “Of course, there are different levels of enthusiasm and interest across the communities. Burrum Heads is a standout - they have assigned portfolios with people responsible for looking after different areas like communications, evacuation management and catering. “They’ve taken it one step further and gone out into the community and developed a voluntary, confidential vulnerable person list – so if a first responder goes into Burrum Heads they can immediately get that list of vulnerable people and their medical conditions. That’s pretty powerful,” he says. The program, which has been rolling out since 2014, is about to expand to 15 communities, Cr Light said. “Often people think that in our society, government has to do everything for us. But after a number of big events that we've had, people have realised they could be on their own for a few days. “I’m pretty blunt with communities and tell them they should have provisions for up to five days because if we have a situation with multiple emergencies the fact is we can’t be on the white horse riding into your town straight away.”  

‘Disaster dashboards’ proving key  

Reflecting a growing trend among local government in Australia, Fraser Coast has also recently launched an online disaster dashboard – a single source of key information for residents during an emergency. Cr Light says the site, which launched in March, provides a single source of information on weather, public warnings, road closures, maps and even social media feeds. “During severe weather events, council’s phone lines can often become congested quickly, so the earlier people get the information they need, the better chances they have to avoid potentially dangerous situations,” he said. [caption id="attachment_30831" align="alignright" width="165"] Kelly Vea Vea[/caption] Similarly, Isaac Regional Council found that a cyclone event last year highlighted the importance of having a single source of information for the public during emergencies. Late last month the council launched its "disaster dashboard" to ensure communities were well-informed during significant events.  “People will find real-time information on road conditions and closures, regional power outages, local weather warnings, fire danger updates, school closures as well as links to state and local disaster preparedness information and emergency contact details,” says Kelly Vea Vea, deputy mayor. With 17 communities spread across 58,000 square kilometres from the coast to the coalfields, the council realised that maintaining connection and information flow to residents, as well as to key local sectors like mining and agriculture, was critical, Cr Vea Vea told Government News. “We found that we can be talking to someone in rising flood waters on top of a school in a remote area and our communications will drop out. Communication across the region is extremely important for us,” she says. The region has 26 working coal mines which often means considerable movement of people across large swathes of area, she says. “It’s important we can provide as much information as succinctly as possible to industry players, so they can communicate to their people travelling across the region for work.”  
Don't miss our upcoming special report on council approaches to emergency management and resilience. If you know of an innovative approach we should cover, get in touch: editorial@governmentnews.com.au  
[post_title] => Disaster plan ‘empowers’ vulnerable towns [post_excerpt] => From highly-equipped communities to new disaster dashboards, councils are focusing on preparedness and information in their approaches to emergency management. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => disaster-plan-empowers-vulnerable-towns [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 10:04:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:04:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30825 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30792 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-19 08:51:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:51:52 [post_content] => Our wrap of the latest appointments in and around government and the public service across Australia.

In this wrap:

  • New LGA SA president
  • New acting GM for Lismore City Council
  • Infrastructure Australia CEO resigns
  • Robotics expert appointed NSW Chief Scientist
  • New appointments and expansion at ANZSOG
[caption id="attachment_30794" align="alignright" width="131"] Sue Clearihan[/caption]

New LGA SA president

City of Adelaide Councillor Sue Clearihan has been appointed the new Local Government Association of South Australia president following the resignation of City of Onkaparinga Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg on 7 June. Clr Clearihan will remain in the position until the appointment of a new board and president in October. She said her focus for the next four months would be working with the LGA board, member councils and the State Government on local government reform to restore confidence in the sector. [caption id="attachment_30795" align="alignright" width="132"] Scott Turner[/caption]

Acting GM for Lismore City Council

The current assets manager of Lismore City Council, Scott Turner has been appointed acting general manager by Council. Mr Turner will take on the role after the departure of GM Gary Murphy, who stepped down late last week. Previously, Mr Turner worked as a civil engineer and for Mosman Municipal Council as the manager of assets and engineering services for more than a decade and has been with Lismore City Council for 12 years.

Infrastructure Australia CEO resigns

[caption id="attachment_30796" align="alignright" width="137"] Philip Davies[/caption] After three years as CEO of Infrastructure Australia, Philip Davies has resigned and will be leaving the organisation at the end of August. Mr Davies delivered the Australian Infrastructure Audit and Australian Infrastructure Plan and was a key advocate for infrastructure reform. Infrastructure Australia has started recruiting for a new CEO and is yet to detail interim arrangements. The organisation recently appointed a new executive director of policy and research, Peter Colacino, who is currently executive general manager of corporate affairs at NRMA, and will start in the role in July. [caption id="attachment_30797" align="alignright" width="135"] Hugh Durrant-Whyte[/caption]

New NSW chief scientist

The NSW Government has appointed leading robotics expert Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte as its chief scientist and engineer. Professor Durrant-Whyte, who recently worked as the chief scientific adviser for the UK Ministry of Defence and formerly as the director for translational data science at the University of Sydney, will commence in the role in September. The appointment comes after the resignation of Professor Mary O’Kane who served as the NSW chief scientist and engineer for nine years.

Appointments at ANZSOG

[caption id="attachment_30798" align="alignright" width="140"] Michelle LeBaron[/caption] The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) has appointed new researches as part of a broader organisational expansion. Professor Michelle LeBaron from the University of British Columbia in Canada, who specialises in conflict transformation, dispute resolution, culture and resilience, has joined the faculty. The University of Melbourne’s Professor Janine O’Flynn was also recently appointed the school's Professor of Public Management. The appointments come as the school expands its operations in Perth, Brisbane and Wellington.
Have we missed an appointment? Send the details and an image to: editorial@governmentnews.com.au
Last issue’s Noticeboard:  MAV appoints first female chief executive
[post_title] => Noticeboard: Sue Clearihan appointed LGA SA president [post_excerpt] => Also in this wrap: new acting GM for Lismore City Council; Infrastructure Australia CEO resigns; robotics expert appointed NSW Chief Scientist; and appointments and expansion at ANZSOG. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => noticeboard-sue-clearihan-appointed-lga-sa-president [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:52:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:52:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30792 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30804 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2018-06-19 08:48:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:48:13 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30670" align="aligncenter" width="658"] Health, education and infrastructure are big ticket items in NSW's 2018 budget.[/caption] Assertive outreach services and a new social impact investment are among the elements of a $1 billion homelessness package to be included in NSW’s budget today. Tailored support will be provided to rough sleepers, young people and victims of domestic violence under the package. The program includes $20 million over four years to a social impact investment on homelessness to tap into the expertise of the private and not-for-profit sector. It will provide for more assertive outreach services for rough sleepers, strengthened risk assessment to address individuals’ circumstances and enhanced support to maintain a tenancy. Included in the program is $9.1 million for additional transitional accommodation, $6.9 million on co-located homeless and health services and $6.2 million to expand the Staying Home Leaving Violence program to five new sites. The NSW Government’s budget will also contain $1 billion in new recurrent health funding to employ an extra 1370 workers, including 950 nurses and midwives, 300 doctors and 120 allied health professions. The State Government says that brings the budget’s total health spend to $23 billion. In education, the government will announce “the largest investment into schools by any state government in history” with funding of $6 billion over four years to deliver more than 170 new and upgraded schools. The budget contains funding for an extra 20 new and upgraded schools, the planning for which will begin this year. Work will commence on 40 new and upgraded school projects this year. In transport, the budget will outline a $1.5 billion investment in bus services throughout the state, which will see more than 2,000 extra bus services rolled out in the next 12 months. The number of trains running in the morning and afternoon peaks on the T4 and T8 lines will be increased with an $880 million investment in technology to modernise the Sydney Trains network. The key southern Sydney route Heathcote Road will get a $173 million package to improve safety and traffic flow, while $40 million will be spent sealing the last stretch of the Cobb and Silver City highways, meaning every major highway in the state will now be sealed. In resources, the budget will also contain $23 million for the recently established Natural Resources Access Regulators to increase water compliance and enforcement. The Australia Museum will undergo a $50 million refurbishment before it hosts Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, the largest Tutankhamun exhibition to ever leave Egypt, for a six-month run in early 2021.
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[post_title] => Boost for health workforce, homeless services in NSW budget [post_excerpt] => Assertive outreach services and a new social impact investment are among the elements of a $1 billion homelessness package to be included in NSW’s budget today. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => boost-for-health-workforce-homeless-services-in-nsw-budget [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:48:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:48:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30804 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30786 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-18 16:50:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-18 06:50:02 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30787" align="aligncenter" width="655"] Data capture to predict risk in assets is among technologies being used by councils.[/caption] New and emerging technologies are helping councils to predict risk within infrastructure assets and improve accountability and service delivery. Campbelltown Council is spearheading innovative asset management after transforming its road management through an award-winning process that captures data and enables the prediction of risk in assets. With responsibility for $400 million in road assets and a growing population necessitating investment in infrastructure, developing a sustainable road management strategy was critical to optimising the council’s budget. The infrastructure asset management team developed a method to capture data on the condition of assets and automatically generate a risk score for each asset. [caption id="attachment_30789" align="alignright" width="179"] Mahbub Hossain[/caption] Mahbub Hossain, coordinator of asset services at Campbelltown Council, said that in automating risk assessments the technology helps to significantly mitigate asset risk, reduce the renewal backlog and improve service levels. “The program enabled us to identify and deliver desired levels of service for users of council’s assets, reduce the life-cycle cost of maintaining asset stock and reduce the risk of infrastructure asset failure,” he said. The management of risk is at the centre of all asset management processes, particularly for determining and monitoring intervention levels and prioritising asset maintenance, he said. The asset condition score, which is measured on a scale of one to 10 (one being ‘very poor condition’ and 8-10 being ‘excellent condition’) is used to prioritise maintenance and improve service delivery. The implementation of the program enables complex risk assessments to be completed more efficiently, according to Mr Hossain. “In order to determine the priority of maintenance requirements the defects of all assets are compared in terms of the probability of failure and the consequences of failure. A risk score for every component for all assets is automatically generated. By ranking the risk scores, a risk-based maintenance program is generated.” Prior to 2000, councils’ financial constraints limited it to 10 to 20 major projects per year, but since implementing the program it now carries out 400 to 500 minor projects allowing it to free more budgets for cost-effective maintenance. The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia in a report in 2016 called on other councils to follow Campbelltown’s approach. The project won the Local Government Excellence Award last year and the International ISSA Award for Excellence in Pavement Preservation in 2016, among other accolades.

Technologies leading to efficiencies

Another technology automating risk assessments in council assets is Black Moth, a mobile vision system that automates road defect inspections by enabling vehicles to capture detailed images and videos of the condition of roads. The technology consists of smart cameras and a vision server fitted onto a traditional road inspection vehicle that enable it to undertake an advanced road survey of risks such as potholes while it’s driving. Scott Gemmell, CEO of Black Moth, said the move towards automated technology in public infrastructure meant there was an increasing need for more efficient processes to manage council assets. “With the nature of roads and where we’re heading with automated vehicles and driverless cars, buses and other technology it will become more and more crucial that roads are serviced quickly,” he said. “Shortening that cycle between identifying a road defect and getting it repaired is crucial. Turning a reactive regime into a proactive regime is where technology can come in.” By automating road condition assessments the technology dramatically differs from traditional operator assessments. “It’s a safer, more streamlined approach that allows the operator to cover more ground on a daily basis because they’re not having to stop and assess the situation,” he said. The team is working on rolling out AI which will enable predictive analytics to predict future areas of concern based on past data, said Mr Gemmell. Another technology helping councils to improve asset management is Asset Vision, a cloud-based asset management platform to manage and report on asset and contractor performance and manage contract risk through surveillance and audits. It offers real-time notifications across web and mobile to key asset teams notified about the condition of assets, as well as in field capture of defects on site.
Related GN coverage: How councils can optimise asset management, mitigate risks
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[post_title] => Councils leveraging technology to predict asset risk [post_excerpt] => New and emerging technologies are helping councils to predict risk within infrastructure assets and improve accountability and service delivery. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-leveraging-technology-to-predict-asset-risk [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 10:06:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:06:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30786 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30756 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-15 12:06:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-15 02:06:48 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30758" align="aligncenter" width="588"] Ku-ring-gai's program helps residents convert unwanted pools into ponds with native marine life.[/caption] A trainee program that would replenish an ageing council workforce and the transformation of a major recreation park were among the local government initiatives celebrated in recent sector awards. The NSW Local Government Excellence Awards, which were presented in front of more than 500 professionals at an event in Sydney last week, recognised significant achievement across 12 categories.  Among the winners was Wollongong City Council, which developed an initiative to attract and train new staff in response to its ageing workforce.  Through its participation in the LG Performance Excellence Program for the past five years, Wollongong had identified that 38 per cent of city works division was likely to retire in the next five years, jumping to 56 per cent in a decade. Given the area’s high youth unemployment, the council opted to develop a trainee program that would support trainees through a certificate II in operational works. The one-year program the council developed in consultation with TAFE exposes trainees to parks and open space, and civil engineering. “We had great amount of interest, more than 300 applicants,” says Mark Roebuck, Wollongong’s manager of city works and services. [caption id="attachment_30763" align="alignright" width="300"] Participants in Wollongong's trainee program[/caption] The first intake saw 21 trainees go through the program, 10 of whom went on to complete a certificate III. “Of the first group, six or seven now have permanent jobs,” Mr Roebuck says. Wollongong’s city works division also won an award for its waste and resource recovery park landfill project, which saw a new landfill cell built on top of the existing one. “We were running out of space and, not being a traditional landfill site, we had to put some engineering detail into building on top of the existing site, which is on the side of a hill, hence we’ve called it a piggyback liner,” says Mr Roebuck. “The new innovation gives us a further six million cubic metres of capacity, which is approximately 50 years of landfill space under our current technologies and projections.”

Recreation park recognised 

Ku-ring-gai Council was another local government recognised in the awards.  The council's $29 million North Turramurra Recreation Area project transformed an existing public golf course into an 18 hole championship standard course overlooking Garigal National Park, complete with walking trails, picnic areas and artificial wetlands. The council says that with sections built on a former landfill site, the recreation area also has four new sportsfields, an irrigation system that recycles stormwater run-off and an extended car park. [caption id="attachment_30764" align="alignright" width="300"] Ku-ring-gai Council's North Turramurra Recreation Area project.[/caption] Ku-ring-gai Council was also recognised for its Wild Things urban biodiversity program. Since 2008 the program has been boosting Ku-ring-gai’s biodiversity by providing native bee hives to residents and teaching them how to convert unwanted backyard swimming pools into ponds filled with native marine life. The program also hosts a You Tube channel called EnviroTube which promotes ways residents can boost biodiversity in their gardens and live a more sustainable lifestyle. Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson said both projects had demonstrated a high level of technical accomplishment and innovation. “North Turramurra is now an outstanding regional recreation area and the Wild Things program has drawn interest from across Australia and even overseas.”

The list of winners:

Asset management and infrastructure initiatives projects:
  • Projects over $1.5m: Ku-ring-gai Council, North Turramurra Recreation Area.
  • Projects under $1.5m: Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, Apex Park Redevelopment.
Community development and services:  Campbelltown City Council, Campbelltown City Library’s IT & Biscuits Program. Community partnerships and collaboration:
  • Population over 60,000: Northern Beaches Council, The PCYC Project
  • Population under 60,000: Lismore City Council, The Lismore Community Solar Initiative.
Creative communities: Bland Shire Council, Silo Art Project. Environmental leadership and sustainability:  Central Coast Council, Tuggerah Lakes Digital Resource and Communication Program. Innovative leadership and management:  Cumberland Council, Youth Participation & Programs Team. Local economic contribution:
  • Population over 60,000: Cumberland Council, The Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival.
  • Population under 60,000: Temora Shire Council, Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre.
Operational performance enhancement: Wollongong City Council, City Works Division. Organisational diversity and inclusion:  City of Sydney, Pay and gender gap program. Risk management: Lake Macquarie City Council, Risk Initiative Program. Service delivery initiative: 
  • Population over 60,000: Campbelltown City Council, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Workshops.
  • Population under 60,000: Narrabri Shire Council, The Baan Baa Project.
Special Project Initiative:
  • Population over 60,000: Wollongong City Council, Wollongong Waste and Resource Recovery Park.
  • Population under 60,000: Lachlan Shire Council, The Showground Pavilion.
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[post_title] => Environmental and major works initiatives recognised at awards [post_excerpt] => A trainee program that would replenish an ageing council workforce and the transformation of a major recreation park were among the local government initiatives celebrated in recent sector awards. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => environmental-and-major-works-initiatives-recognised-at-awards [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:53:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:53:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30756 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30728 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-15 11:17:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-15 01:17:30 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30745" align="aligncenter" width="700"] There are better outcomes when councils run public transport, says Graham Currie.[/caption] One of Australia’s foremost public transport experts has called for greater local government involvement in Australia’s public transport system. Professor Graham Currie, the world’s first public transport professor and director of Monash University’s Public Transport Research Group says the most successful public transport systems, both nationally and around the world, are steered by local governments. Councils need to campaign for greater involvement in public transport based on their ratepayer’s needs if Australia is to drastically improve transport networks in line with international best practice, he argues.  “There is a particularly Australian flavour to the problems we have in this country,” Professor Currie told Government News. [caption id="attachment_30736" align="alignright" width="141"] Professor Graham Currie[/caption] “We have a very strong central government, our states have all revolved around big cities and as a result we’ve had less local government involvement in public transport provision. That’s quite unusual internationally - France, the United States even, have much more local government involvement,” he said. Professor Currie said that where local governments in Australia have had greater power, they have had markedly differently outcomes. He points to Brisbane, where one of the largest bus fleets in Australia is run by local government. “It’s one of best in the world and we have a local government running it,” said Professor Currie, who has published more papers in leading academic journals on public transport than any other researcher. “Whenever we have local government involvement in running, managing, funding we get better outcomes,” he said. The Gold Coast’s light rail and the Canberra and Darwin public transport systems are other examples where “local government involvement has been much more successful with public transport,” Professor Currie said. “Councils should be doing facilitation, which means campaigning and working with other local governments to bring about change. Councils can do things better by encouraging better design and running transport systems themselves,” he said.

Urban sprawl a key issue

Urban sprawl operates as the greatest impediment to an efficient public transport system in Australia’s capital cities, according to Professor Currie. European-style high density inner areas and urban sprawl on the fringe is the “new dynamic” in Australia, which is creating a need for better public transport services, he said.   Addressing urban sprawl through better planning controls could help to ameliorate the problem. “We could do it with planning by having constraints on boundaries of cities and encouraging high-density development,” he said.

Funding model flawed

Professor Currie argues that state governments need to review the current public transport funding models, saying a reliance on fuel taxes to fund road maintenance is problematic as the road system is increasingly electrified.    “There are international funding models around which will help solve the problem and many cities now are pricing use of transport in congested cities.” As Government News reported last week, the City of Melbourne is currently exploring long-term options to meet unprecedented demand for public transport.
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[post_title] => Local government key to tackling public transport woes: expert [post_excerpt] => One of Australia’s foremost public transport experts has called for greater local government involvement in Australia’s public transport system. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => local-government-key-to-tackling-public-transport-woes-expert [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:54:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:54:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30728 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30738 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-15 11:17:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-15 01:17:13 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30742" align="aligncenter" width="654"] The process for allocation grants to councils will be streamlined.[/caption] Queensland is set to reform its process for allocating grants to councils with the State Government providing $4.5 million to tackle the long-running issue in its budget this week. Local government groups and experts have welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s move to streamline the administration of grants to local government, which will see a new management system adopted. The Queensland Government’s budget on Tuesday provided $3.2 million over four years to “undertake planning to improve and simplify the administration of grants to local government.” The budget contained a further $1.3 million to develop a new grants management system to improve and simplify the administration of grants to local government. The Local Government Association of Queensland welcomed the measure as a “clear investment in the need for grants reform,” which it said was the sector’s top advocacy priority, but added that councils needed more details on the future of the system. Budget papers state that the new measures will “progress the recommendations from the Review of Grants to Local Government” that was conducted by KPMG and AEC Group in mid-2017 but which has not been publicly released. Government News sought the report yesterday from the Queensland Government but a spokesperson said it was a “confidential document.” The LGAQ has previously said the report found the current model of grant funding was “fragmented and costly” and was “failing to deliver the best financial outcome" while undermining councils’ ability to plan, manage assets and achieve financial sustainability. The peak has lobbied for the consolidation of grants programs into a small number of funding streams aligned to outcomes. While agreeing it was important to simplify the process, local government expert Roberta Ryan said it was similarly necessary to “make transparent the criteria that is being used for the basis of distribution” of grants. She said this also meant ensuring distribution criteria adhere to the core principle behind the grants system of ensuring people can access services at the same level regardless of where they live. “That’s a tough one because Australia is big and very spread out, and Queensland is the most decentralised state, with plenty of areas that are very remote and with sparse populations,” said Professor Ryan, director of the UTS Centre for Local Government. Engagement with the local government sector around the application of grants criteria was also critical “because it’s only local government that really understands the on-the-ground implications,” she told Government News. “It’s critical for them in terms of forward planning. The financial assistance grants particularly for non-metropolitan councils can be quite a significant component of their budgets, and many things that the community needs take quite a long time to plan and implement. "Without budget security, local government is essentially in a position where they’re working with one hand behind their back,” said Professor Ryan.

Independent complaints body

The State Government's budget also provided $14.1 million over four years to establish an “independent body to consider councillor conduct complaints and improve governance practices.” The new measure follows the government’s move in February to enable mayors and councillors to seek advice from the Queensland Integrity Commissioner, a recommendation of the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission in its report into local government corruption. It comes as the state continues to see a number of allegations of local government misconduct. Last month Ipswich Council made a submission to Queensland Minister for Local Government arguing against the full council being stood down, while the State Government suspended four mayors and a councillor after it passed new legislation permitting the automatic suspension of councillors facing serious charges.

Waste, infrastructure measures

Elsewhere in this week’s budget the State Government provided $100 million to support the state’s resource recovery and recycling industry. However, the LGAQ said that councils would be “disappointed” that more than 30 per cent of the revenue generated by the state’s new waste levy will go back into general revenue. The budget also provided $147 million for the Works for Queensland program to support regional councils in undertaking maintenance and minor infrastructure, and $38 million to establish a new Disaster Resilience Fund to deliver mitigation and resilience projects.
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[post_title] => Council grants shake-up for Sunshine State [post_excerpt] => Queensland is set to reform its process for allocating grants to councils with the State Government providing $4.5 million to tackle the long-running issue in its budget this week. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-grants-shake-up-for-sunshine-state [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-15 15:09:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-15 05:09:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30738 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30678 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2018-06-12 10:54:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-12 00:54:45 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30682" align="aligncenter" width="687"] The Craft Your Park project engaged various community groups in the design.[/caption] A project that engaged various community stakeholders in the design of a new park is among the public works that have been recognised for innovation and leadership. Design studio Spacelab was recognised by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects ACT Chapter on Thursday for its ‘Craft your Park initiative in Finn Street, O’Connor for listening to the community and translating their feedback into the design. “The design process involved an open dialogue, woven with local stories and histories from kindergarten children to landcare groups and the local community, where the design team were the ‘editors’ and the community the ‘authors’ of the new design,” the judges said. The awards recognised 10 projects in landscape architecture in categories ranging from parks and play spaces to infrastructure and cultural heritage. “There are a number of projects from this year’s awards program that demonstrate the community and environmental benefits that come from proper community engagement and consultation, planning for green infrastructure and involve landscape architects leading quality design projects at the early stages,” the institute’s ACT president Gay Williamson said.

Changing streetscapes

The award of excellence in civic landscape was jointly awarded to Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture, the National Capital Authority, Hill Thalis, SMEC and AECOM for the first stage of the transformation of Constitution Avenue. In this major public space enhancement project, Constitution Avenue has been transformed into a series of pedestrian friendly streetscapes changing in character from ceremonial to civic to urban to bushland, in response to surrounding landscapes.  [caption id="attachment_30679" align="alignnone" width="659"] Constitution Avenue now has a series of pedestrian friendly streetscapes.[/caption]

Parks and open spaces

A successful mix of landscape and utility to encourage community interaction in open space in Moncrieff East, a new suburban estate in north Canberra, was recognised in the award's parks and open space category. Redbox Design Group was recognised for leading the works on the multi-purpose community recreation park. [caption id="attachment_30684" align="alignnone" width="650"] Moncrieff East was recognised in the parks and open space category.[/caption]

Play spaces

Redbox Design Group was also recognised for its work on the Moncrieff Community Recreation Park, a space designed to meet the needs of the community by integrating a range of exercise, play and ball sport areas.  [caption id="attachment_30685" align="alignnone" width="655"] The community recreation park in Moncrieff integrates a range of areas.[/caption]
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[post_title] => Cutting-edge parks, open spaces celebrated [post_excerpt] => A project that engaged various community stakeholders in the design of a new park is among the public works that have been recognised for innovation and leadership. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cutting-edge-parks-open-spaces-celebrated [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-12 10:54:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-12 00:54:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30678 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30650 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-12 09:42:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-11 23:42:49 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30653" align="aligncenter" width="581"] Investment in regional Victoria's rail is critical, groups say.[/caption] Infrastructure executives say more investment in rail in regional Victoria is needed to help tackle Melbourne’s unprecedented urban growth. Their call comes as the Federal and Victorian governments announced that work has progressed on a four-year $1.75 billion program to upgrade all regional rail lines in Victoria.   Peter Tesdorpf, executive at Rail Futures, said that greater investment in rail infrastructure in regional areas is critical to rebalance population growth in Melbourne CBD, which is causing a “dysfunctional” public transport system. “We can't survive as a city without serious investment in rail in Melbourne and regional Victoria,” he told MAV’s Infrastructure and Asset Management Conference on Friday. There is a “complete disconnect” between land use planning and transport planning which is at the core of the problem, said Mr Tepsdorf.

A European rail network

Australia needs to invest in a more European-style public transport system in which separate rail lines connect central areas of Victoria with regional and rural areas, said Mr Tepsdorf.  “If we can open up regional Victoria through better rail services then that opens up better housing opportunities and it’s good for tourism and business investment.” John Hearsch, president at Rail Futures, said that while there has been “significant investment” in the regional rail system in Victoria over the last decade, more is needed. “Rail infrastructure is a long-term game. It has a life of 100 years or more, so even though it costs several billions to construct, it’s going to be there for a long time,” he said. Mr Hearsch says trains between the CBD and regional areas need to be segregated with new tracks in order to maximise efficiency and effectiveness. “We do have separation between city and Sunshine but that segregation will have to go considerably further in the not too distant future,” he said. However, while investments in rail are welcome, Glenelg Shire Council asset management coordinator Ricky Luke said they would have minimal benefit for regional councils like his which are heavily reliant on roads for transport. “In the long run, any improvement to trains will have some benefit to us but in the short to medium term the priority is to get more funding and improvements of our roads,” he said.

State’s rail plans make progress

Meanwhile, federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack and Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan on Friday announced that work had progresses on plans to improve regional rail networks. The program includes $80 million to duplicate track and other upgrades around Waurn Ponds Station. These works are part of the $160 million Geelong Line Upgrade, as well as a Ballarat Line Upgrade, Warrnambool, Gippsland and Bendigo Echuca line upgrade, all due by 2022. The benefits of these works will begin to flow as early as later this year, said Ms Allan.
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[post_title] => Regional rail key to decentralised growth [post_excerpt] => Infrastructure executives say more investment in rail in regional Victoria is needed to help tackle Melbourne’s unprecedented urban growth. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => regional-rail-key-to-decentralised-growth [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-12 10:55:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-12 00:55:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30650 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30645 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-12 09:41:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-11 23:41:50 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29770" align="aligncenter" width="632"] New technology is helping councils manage their assets.[/caption] Software that forecasts infrastructure deterioration and data analysis that reviews processes are among the tools helping local governments to improve asset management. The City of Tea Tree Gully in South Australia has transformed its asset management processes through a new award-winning strategy that improved service delivery, risk management and investment. Ben Clark, assets business administrator at Tea Tree Gully, says the program had significantly improved asset management. “We have seen an increase in efficiencies in most teams. We were able to streamline processes and maintain assets quicker, respond to customers quicker and provide a better product,” he told Government News. [caption id="attachment_30647" align="alignright" width="161"] Ben Clark[/caption] Managing $1.4 billion in assets and spending 85 per cent of its capital program on the development and management of assets, the council realised it had to improve the way it managed infrastructure in order to maximise investment and minimise risk.   To do that, the council implemented the managing assets through capability and knowledge (MACK) project, which reviewed its asset management processes to adopt best practice. It used the IPWEA National Asset Management Strategy template to undertake a maturity assessment of its asset management practices. Under the MACK project, which was overseen by a steering group, the council undertook an IT review and ultimately invested in improved solutions. This included the introduction of tablets to field staff with an asset management software in which customer requests are passed directly to customer service and then onto relevant teams. Mr Clark said that the introduction of tablets to field staff, which was completed after an extensive procurement process, was key to the program’s success. “It enables field staff to capture data, receive all their work on tablets, know what they need before they go out there so they can make sure they have the necessary equipment," he told Government News on the sidelines of the event.  With 83 per cent of customer requests relating to acquisition and maintenance of assets in 2012-13, customer service delivery was critical, he said. Mr Clark says the council will soon introduce a customer system that enables better communication with ratepayers by providing work updates through texts and emails. Last week, Tea Tree Gully’s program won an award for excellence in asset management projects and practice from the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia SA.

Software to detect asset deterioration

Another technology that’s helping councils to optimise asset management and mitigate asset risks is the CAMS asset management software, developed by RMIT University. [caption id="attachment_30648" align="alignright" width="157"] Sujeeva Setunge[/caption] CAMS is a cloud-based asset management and deterioration prediction software that captures data on assets and assessments of deterioration so councils can prioritise repair and renewal works. The software includes CAMS Mobile, an application that allows asset managers to collect and upload condition data to CAMS Online, where the data can be reviewed and committed after approval. Professor Sujeeva Setunge, deputy dean of research at RMIT, told the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) Infrastructure and Asset Management Conference last week that the technology enables councils to optimise investment by predicting failure. “CAMS enables a risk profile to be established and prevents backlog,” she said.

Data crucial to mitigate risks

Elsewhere, Martin Schroder, change agent and former digital transformation officer at Ballarat City Council, told the MAV conference that utilising data to review and improve business practices is a key way to mitigate risk and effectively manage assets. “Data is an essential component to understand and design better business practices,” he said. “If we fix our business practice, that leads to better data.” Mr Schroder said that councils need to “use risk management as your weapon, risk is your friend.”

Integration key to optimising assets

Sam Ortisi, manager of strategic asset management at Maribbyrnong City Council, said that reviewing and integrating maintenance programs to ensure they prolong an asset's life is critical. “If you’re creating an asset you want to make sure your maintenance programs prolong its life because, if maintenance strategies meet the requirements, you’ll see the rate of wear won’t vary from what designers tell us,” he said.
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[post_title] => How councils can optimise asset management, mitigate risks [post_excerpt] => Software that forecasts infrastructure deterioration and data analysis that reviews processes are among the tools helping local governments to improve asset management. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => how-councils-can-optimise-asset-management-mitigate-risks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-15 12:09:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-15 02:09:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30645 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30661 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-12 09:36:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-11 23:36:12 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30670" align="aligncenter" width="670"] The NSW Government has legislated for new regional collaboration among councils.[/caption] As an Australian-first model for collaboration between councils rolls out across NSW, the Office of Local Government CEO tells Government News the new network is flexible enough to meet regional priorities. The new organisations facilitating regional collaboration among councils are mandated by law to deliver just three functions, leaving them able to pursue a range of activities suited to their specific needs, according to Tim Hurst, acting chief executive of the Office of Local Government NSW. “The legislation only mandates three core functions – strategic planning and priority setting, intergovernmental collaborating and shared leadership and advocacy. [caption id="attachment_30664" align="alignright" width="179"] Tim Hurst[/caption] “In practice, they can undertake a huge range of activities, such as shared services, regional leadership, economic development – there are many other things that, through the pilots, we learned councils wanted to use these entities for,” says Mr Hurst. Last month, the NSW Government announced that 74 councils across the state had voluntarily signed up to the new network of 11 joint organisations, which will “strengthen collaboration” between state and local government on “important regional projects.” Since the government passed legislation establishing the network late last year, the Office of Local Government has been working with councils on the membership of organisations that best suits their needs. Mr Hurst says the model of joint organisations is something that’s been driven by the local government sector. He points to the 2013 local government review panel, which highlighted councils’ concern about existing methods for regional collaboration, and the evaluation of five regional pilots of joint organisations in 2015, which found 80 per cent of participants agreed led to better alignment of local, regional and state priorities. “So we knew they worked,” Mr Hurst says. “We then used the evaluation process to co-design a final form of the model, which had to be enabled through legislation.” Having been given the status of an entity under the Local Government Act, the joint organisations have all the powers and responsibilities of a council, but with the proviso they cannot exercise that authority without member councils first delegating it, Mr Hurst said.
“We’ve made them a very powerful entity under the act but we also made them fully under local government control."
Over 90 per cent of councils that were eligible to make a resolution to engage in a joint organisation did so, Mr Hurst points out.

More expected to join

When asked about the councils that had not chosen to join the new network, Mr Hurst says that some had “technical issues” with how they framed their resolutions. “The legislation was clear it had to be unambiguous they were making their own decision to join, what they were joining and who they were joining with, and in some cases if they didn’t do that correctly we couldn’t, under the legislation, put them into the joint organisation. “A few councils have had to fix their resolution and we’ll go back and proclaim them into their chosen joint organisation in a second round,” he said. In addition, Mr Hurst says there was a group of councils in the far west that were offered a different model with greater funding, and seven of eight of these local governments have agreed to these arrangements and will be proclaimed into two new joint organisations in July. “We expect that even more councils are going to be joining the existing network and the network will grow to encompass the far west of the state when we get to July.”

Implementation phase

Given the councils involved in the pilots are “much more advanced in their thinking and practice,” the OLG has a program in place to share those insight and experience with other councils that are new to the network, Mr Hurst said. “We have a process of helping the new joint organisations understand the capacity of the new model and what it can deliver to them,” he said. For now, there’s a list of “terribly practical processes” each joint organisation has to follow as it establishes itself, including electing a chairperson from its members, employing an executive officer, adopting a code of conduct, developing a charter and a statement of regional priorities, he says. “The first meeting is important,” Mr Hurst says. “Only one has had its first meeting so far – the Central NSW Joint Organisation, but we have one more happening tomorrow and two more on Wednesday next week.” The OLG has produced a guidance document that steers the organisations through their establishment phase, which it sees as being between now and 1 July. “Then the operational phase begins after 1 July when they have governance arrangements in place, they’ve had their first meeting and are able to start delivering some of their priorities,” he says.

Evaluation: deliver on infrastructure, service   

Asked how the joint organisations will be monitored, Mr Hurst says the OLG has a template for evaluating their success, which will measure “their ability to improve infrastructure and service delivery outcomes in their regional communities.”
“They’ll have similar reporting obligations to councils; they’ll prepare annual financial statements, they’ll be audited by the Auditor-General. But we’ll be specifically evaluating how in different regions they are taking advantage of the model to actually deliver better outcomes to communities at a regional level."
He says the joint organisations will likely be in operation for a year before the OLG begins evaluating their outcomes. “We’d be looking to do that probably in the second half of next year.” Mr Hurst confirms that the evaluation will involve “feeding back what we learn into improving practice across the whole network, right from the beginning.”

‘Not too late’

Given some councils are still in discussions about whether to engage with a joint organisation, Mr Hurst said that “it’s not too late” for a local government to participate in the network. “When we proclaim the additional joint organisations in the far west we can use that opportunity to add new councils.” He says the joint organisations network is a “good example of co-design that’s gone at its own pace and now, after a few years of patience and working with the sector, it’s delivering results.”
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[post_title] => Broad agenda for new joint organisations, says OLG chief [post_excerpt] => As an Australian-first model for collaboration between councils rolls out across NSW, the Office of Local Government chief executive tells Government News the new network is flexible enough to meet regional priorities. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => broad-agenda-for-new-joint-organisations-says-olg-chief [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-15 12:10:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-15 02:10:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30661 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30635 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-08 09:05:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-07 23:05:11 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30637" align="aligncenter" width="647"] Driverless cars could see revenue reductions for councils, advisor says. [/caption] Local governments need to prepare for the infrastructure challenges associated with the advent of driverless vehicles, such as new costs and a hit to revenue, an infrastructure advisor says. The director of automated vehicle infrastructure at Infrastructure Victoria, Dr Allison Stewart, has called on all councils to consider the potential impact of driverless vehicles. “This really could be one of the most fundamental changes in transport over the coming years,” she told MAV’s Infrastructure and Asset Management Conference in Melbourne on Thursday. “The most important thing for councils, first of all, is to understand research looking at how this could change the future for them.” Dr Stewart told Government News that councils need to stay informed of the technology and consider the potential impact of driverless vehicles on their budgets - an issue she says could be a “huge concern” for many local governments.   [caption id="attachment_30636" align="alignright" width="137"] Dr Allison Stewart[/caption] Councils must consider the financial implications of maintaining and renewing assets like roads during the rollout of driverless and zero-emissions vehicles, said Dr Stewart. Forecasting the potential impact of the cars on council budgets includes “trying to identify potential infrastructure costs in the short and long term as we see potentially a significant proportion of vehicle space on the roads,” she said. “The worst thing that could happen is if you’re caught off guard with this technology at this level of change.”

A hit to revenue

Dr Stewart warned that driverless cars could result in revenue reductions for councils if patterns of transport among residents change and there is a widespread uptake of self-parking driverless vehicles. “We might see less parking depending on whether people decide to send their private autonomous vehicles home to park during the day. That could potentially have significant impacts for revenue sources,” she said. Dr Stewart’s remarks come as the National Transport Commissions delivers a reform roadmap to prepare Australia’s roads for more automated vehicles that could see them operating “safely and legally” on our roads before 2020.  

Key concerns for councils

Infrastructure Victoria recently engaged stakeholders as part of formulating advice for the Victorian Government on the infrastructure required to support driverless vehicles. Dr Stewart said local governments highlighted a lack of awareness around the potential impact of automated vehicles on councils as well as concern around the economic impacts on them. Last month, Infrastructure Victoria released a consultation summary revealing stakeholders’ main concerns, which included impacts on land use patterns, energy supply and charging capacity, public acceptance and government policy and infrastructure implications. The paper noted that although many stakeholders felt government needed to play a role in the ownership of energy infrastructure, there was significant concern around the level of responsibility for infrastructure planning for driverless vehicles. “There is uncertainty around who is responsible for meeting the infrastructure needs of future vehicles, given responsibility for roads is shared between local and state governments,” the summary said. It also noted stakeholder’s concern about the interaction between automated vehicles and road infrastructure, including lane sizes, line markings and lights, congestion, public transport and the need for new infrastructure.

Report forecasts scenarios

Infrastructure Victoria in April released a report that outlined a series of future scenarios resulting from the rollout of driverless vehicles on infrastructure. Infrastructure Victoria will release a further report in August and its final advice to government in October outlining the potential infrastructure that would be required for each of the future scenarios. Dr Stewart said this report will have “significant findings” for local and state government.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
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[post_title] => Call for councils to consider automated cars [post_excerpt] => Local governments need to prepare for the infrastructure challenges associated with the advent of driverless vehicles, such as new costs and a hit to revenue, an infrastructure advisor says. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => call-for-councils-to-consider-automated-cars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-08 09:13:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-07 23:13:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30635 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30867 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-22 10:03:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:03:32 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30868" align="aligncenter" width="735"] The data skills shortage is common across state and local government professionals, a peak says.[/caption] As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public sector, local government professionals say they need investment in professional development. The NSW Government has announced plans to release a new set of online resources on how to find and use data after a survey of 1,000 public servants by Digital NSW found 95 per cent said they would benefit from learning more about data in their role. Dawn Rutledge, acting government chief information, said there was an overwhelming response from those surveyed that the best way to access tools to support data capability is through e-learning. More than half of the survey’s respondents, who came from departments across NSW, provided detailed responses about their data challenges and nominated finding and using data to inform decision making as among their key issues.  [caption id="attachment_30874" align="alignright" width="143"] Dawn Routledge[/caption] Ms Rutledge said the survey aimed to establish a detailed picture of what the government should “do next” and where it should focus resources to improve skills in the public service. “The respondents talked about increasing their skills in using data, increased access to data experts, building a community to share knowledge and experience, and access to tools and resources to help them use data more effectively in their work,” she said. According to Annalisa Haskell, chief executive of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW, local government is equally in need of support.  “It’s the critical thinking skills and ability to do deduction, what the data is actually telling us, that’s the skill I see is missing,” she told Government News. It’s hard because those skills come about through practice in using data and assessing what it tells us. That’s the issue we have. We have a lot of data and local government is providing significant reports but it is more limited in what it is saying about intelligence and insight.”

NSW budget fails to upskill

Ms Haskell said NSW Government needs to help to build the generalised management and analysis skills “for the future” among local government professionals.   While the state’s budget provided funding for qualifications, there was no funding for “business management and information integration skills,” she said. “Where is the funding for the hugely important skill development we need to help staff understand areas like management information and analysis? If the State Government is really committed to helping local government understand their data it could help councils with data competence,” she said. Ms Haskell, who runs the Australasian Local Government Performance Excellence Program, a voluntary council benchmarking program, said she had discussed the need for state and local government to partner on improving data capability. “State and local government need to work together much more closely. I wish to help get state and local governments working together on data issue and am working to do this so we can learn from each other and assist better community outcomes,” she said.
Don't miss our Operational Report: Data for an in-depth look at how governments are using data for intelligence and improved service delivery. Out in next Tuesday's Government News newsletter. 
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Sector

The process for allocation grants to councils will be streamlined.

Council grants shake-up for Sunshine State

Queensland is set to reform its process for allocating grants to councils with the State Government providing $4.5 million to tackle the long-running issue in its budget this week.