By Paul Hemsley and Julian Bajkowski
Australia’s burgeoning local government sector will get its first ever official statistical snapshot through an official council workforce census covering the whole of Australia.
The Australian Centre of Excellence in Local Government (ACELG) will conduct the census on council numbers to better inform funding and resource allocation decisions at between local, state and federal jurisdictions.
A key element will be reckoning at what the present skills base for councils is across Australia, a set of numbers that factors directly into how well services can be delivered and developed.
The ACELG will co-ordinate an initial pilot census with eight councils initially, followed by the full Australian Local Government Workforce and Employment Census (formerly the National Minimum Dataset) census for all 565 councils to begin from the end of November 2012.
The pilot councils are Rockdale Council and Pelarang Shire Council in NSW; Capel Shire Council and Stirling Council in WA; Barossa Shire Council in SA; Golden Plains Shire Council in Victoria; and Sunshine Coast and Townsville Councils in Queensland.
The Australian Government has funded the census as a push from federal, state and territory local government ministers to collect standardised workforce data.
This information supplied from the census will be used to improve workforce planning within individual councils, address skill shortages, improve professionalism in local government and diversify personnel.
Councils will also be scrutinised on women’s participation in the local government sector, resulting in a nationally consistent dataset on female employees including both elected representatives and senior management positions.
According to the ACELG, the census is the most ambitious collection of data on local government ever taken in Australia.
Local government associations have also been involved with the project’s development, as well as Local Government Managers Australia and the Australian Services Union.
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