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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-22 09:42:45
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-21 23:42:45
                    [post_content] => 

Commercial fitness operators will have to register with the City of Bendigo before operating in public parks.

Following a six-month trial, the Greater Bendigo City Council has adopted a new Fitness Operators Policy for businesses that conduct commercial operations in local parks, gardens and sporting reserves.

The new policy means commercial fitness operators will now need to obtain a permit to conduct their operations at local parks, gardens and reserves.

City of Greater Bendigo active and healthy lifestyles manager Lincoln Fitzgerald said an increase in the number of commercial fitness operators in recent years had prompted the City to develop the policy.

“The six-month trial conducted by the City relied on operators to voluntarily register their commercial activity, and for the industry to self-regulate compliance with limited support from City staff.  This was done to allow the trial to take place with no fees and to limit the costs associated with its enforcement,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“During the trial period, 13 businesses registered as regular providers and three as casual providers. However, the City understands there is a number of other fitness businesses operating on public land without permission and any regulation of their activities.

“During and after the trial, the City consulted with those impacted by the policy including commercial fitness operators, class participants, park users and City staff responsible for maintaining the public space and enforcing the policy.

“Overall, consultation supported a more regulated approach to ensure an equitable, protected, respected and consistent industry.

“The City recognises that commercial fitness operators do provide a range of alternative physical recreation activities for residents that would otherwise not be available. However, the policy places conditions on the types of equipment and activities that can take place.

“The aim of the new policy is to manage these activities in a manner that balances industry needs, provides protection of public built and natural assets and maintains community access and amenity to these facilities.”

The new policy will be integrated within the review of the City’s Local Law Number 5 Municipal Places which is set to be reviewed late 2017.

 
                    [post_title] => The park is for the public
                    [post_excerpt] => Commercial fitness operators will have to register with the City of Bendigo before operating in public parks.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-22 08:13:46
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-21 22:13:46
                    [post_content] => 

The Australian and Victorian Governments are committing significant funds to connect the Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs using the existing rail network, but container operators are warning that the success or otherwise of the concept is in the detail.

Governments come up with the money

Expressions of interest will soon to be sought to deliver a series of rail freight ‘shuttle’ initiatives on the existing rail network by connecting the port to major freight hubs and businesses.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the proposal would take advantage of rail’s ability to shift larger volumes of freight than trucks.

“[We] are seeing a boom in exports, which has led to trucks taking more produce and freight to the ports. This project will provide the ability to shift larger volumes of freight via rail compared to trucks, and reduce congestion on our roads,” Mr Chester said.

“The freight and logistics industry had identified rail’s potential to reduce transport costs by about 10 per cent, with the proposal potentially improving Australia’s competitiveness.”

Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and Ports Luke Donnellan said the initiative will take trucks off local roads in Melbourne’s inner west.

“The Port of Melbourne will remain our primary freight hub for a generation. With container numbers expected to double over the next two decades we need to act now to share the load between road and rail.

“Alongside the West Gate Tunnel, 24-hour truck bans in the inner west and the Port’s rail access plans, this project will help shift containers from residential streets onto dedicated routes to the port.”

The Australian Government has committed $38 million and the Victorian Government will provide $20 million to the initiative. Funding will be available to upgrade rail connections and improve terminal access.

The devil’s in the detail

The largest conglomeration of container transporters in Victoria the Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) has welcomed the recommitment of $58 million in funding by the State and Federal Governments towards port rail shuttle services in the Port of Melbourne, but has warned that there is ‘much to do’ to make metropolitan rail freight services commercially viable.

“There is no doubt that moving more containerised freight to and from the Port of Melbourne and metropolitan intermodal terminals must be part of the future for Australia’s largest container freight port,” CTAA director Neil Chambers said.

“To date, however, next to no containers move to and from metropolitan areas and the port due to the lack of adequate rail infrastructure and the added costs of using rail for intermodal movements.

“The optimal landside movement of an import container once discharged from a ship involves around six “lifts” if delivered direct from wharf to customer then direct to the empty container depot for de-hire by road.”

“This number of ‘lifts’ rises with the current situation where many containers are ‘staged’ through transport yards to take account of the mismatch of operating hours and other logistics management reasons, both the full container as well as the empty. This can increase the number of ‘lifts’ to as many as ten.

“However, unless we can achieve true ‘on-dock’ rail operations to remove the need for the last-mile movement of the containers within the Port to be undertaken by truck or some other form of transfer vehicle, the number of ‘lifts’ for a typical intermodal operation would be twelve or more.

“Every time you touch the container it costs money, and the current lack of rail integration is the killer from a competition point of view.

“Truly viable intermodal terminals in Australia and overseas also provide the value-added services in situ that reduce local freight journeys and strip out costs for the cargo owner. This is what we need to aspire to through strategically located intermodal terminals in Melbourne’s west, north and south-east.

“It’s important, therefore, that the Port of Melbourne complete its rail strategy development in a timely manner, that the state’s overall freight strategy is refreshed, and the national freight strategy finalised, to ensure that intermodal rail operations are considered as a complete system, not just a series of disjointed nodes with no adequate integrated port connections and infrastructure

“I think we need to be cautious that the community isn’t given the impression that rail intermodal operations will be a panacea to the removal of trucks from our roads,” Mr Chambers said.

“That won’t be the case, because even if we get this right, which we all hope we will, the future still involves thousands of truck movements to and from the port, as well as to and from intermodal terminals for final delivery to the end user.

“We need integrated planning that enhances and protects the future viability of road and rail freight, reduces community amenity impacts where possible, but doesn’t harm freight productivity and cost competitiveness.”

 
                    [post_title] => Will Melbourne’s port shuttle work?
                    [post_excerpt] => Governments are committing millions to connect the Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs, but operators are warning of more work needed.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-14 15:19:18
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                    [post_content] => 

A disproportionate number of children expelled from Victorian Government schools have a disability, are in out of home care, or identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, according to the Victorian Ombudsman.

Tabling an Investigation into Victorian government school expulsions in Parliament, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said children as young as five and six are being excluded from government schools in a process riddled with gaps that lacks concrete data.

The report found significant reform is required to measure exactly how many children are excluded from government schools each year, and to ensure no child is ever excluded entirely from the Victorian education system.

"A key purpose of the investigation was to find out whether expulsions complied with the Ministerial Order - which includes ensuring the student is provided with other educational and development opportunities," Ms Glass said.

"What we found was a confused and incomplete picture. There were so many gaps in the expulsion reports it was not possible to answer the questions with any certainty. But we can say that some two-thirds of expulsions fail to comply on at least one count, with the lack of information suggesting that this number may well be considerably higher."

Education Department figures state that 278 children were expelled from the Victorian Government school system in 2016.

"The official number is likely to be only a fraction of the number of children informally expelled, on whom no data is kept. Somewhere between hundreds and thousands of children each year disengage from formal education at least in part as a result of pressure from schools. We simply do not know where they end up," Ms Glass said.

"But we do know that some 60 per cent of those in the youth justice system had previously been suspended or expelled from school, and over 90 per cent of adults in our prisons did not complete secondary school. The link between educational disadvantage and incarceration is not new, but remains compelling."

A previous Ombudsman investigation in 2015 on the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners identified educational disadvantage starting in childhood as a key factor leading to imprisonment as an adult.

Ms Glass called for additional resources for principals facing the difficult balancing act of supporting children with challenging behaviours while also providing a safe environment for work and study.

The investigation - which involved outreach with parent and community groups across the state - identified that many children expelled from schools display behaviour stemming from disruption and disadvantage in their lives and called for major investment in the school system to help such children.

"A welcome start would be recognising that while expulsion remains an option of last resort, no child should ever be expelled from the state's education system as a whole. A commitment to supporting early intervention is also vital. The challenging behaviour of children is frequently rooted in trauma, disability or mental health. The investment not made in supporting schools to deal with this behaviour will almost inevitably require a vastly greater investment later, elsewhere, to deal with their challenging behaviour as adults," said Ms. Glass.

The key recommendations from the report are:
  • [That the Minister for Education] Amend Ministerial Order 625 to ensure that a principal cannot expel a student aged eight years old or less from any government school without the approval of the Secretary or her delegate and consider any additional changes to the Order necessary to give effect to the recommendations that follow.
  • [That the Department of Education] Embed the principle and expectation in policy or guidance that no student of compulsory school age will be excluded from the government school system (even if expelled from an individual government school).
The investigation did not examine expulsions from private schools, as the Victorian Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction in the area. Read the full report here.     [post_title] => We are neglecting the most-in-need: Ombudsman [post_excerpt] => Expulsion is not the answer, says the Victorian Ombudsman. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => victorias-education-neglecting-need [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-14 21:44:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-14 11:44:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27834 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27740 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-01 10:32:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-01 00:32:28 [post_content] => Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Ministerial Advisory Panel (the Panel) has been working on developing a safe and compassionate voluntary assisted dying framework for Victoria. The Legislative Council’s Legal and Social Issues Committee (the Parliamentary Committee) provided a broad policy direction for voluntary assisted dying that focused on allowing a person to self-administer a lethal dose of medication. The role of the Panel was to consider how this could work in practice and to ensure only those making voluntary and informed decisions and at the end of their life could access voluntary assisted dying. The Panel determined that voluntary assisted dying implementation should be considered in the context of existing care options available to people at the end of life. Guiding principles In formulating its recommendations, the Panel relied on a number of guiding principles. These principles are that:
  • Every human life has equal value.
  • A person’s autonomy should be respected.
  • A person has the right to be supported in making informed decisions about their medical treatment and should be given, in a manner that they understand, information about medical treatment options, including comfort and palliative care.
  • Every person approaching the end of life should have access to quality care to minimise their suffering and maximise their quality of life.
  • The therapeutic relationship between a person and their health practitioner should, wherever possible, be supported and maintained.
  • Open discussions about death and dying and peoples’ preferences and values should be encouraged and promoted.
  • Conversations about treatment and care preferences between the health practitioner, a person and their family, carers and community should be supported.
  • Providing people with genuine choice must be balanced with the need to safeguard people who might be subject to abuse.
  • All people, including health practitioners, have the right to be shown respect for their culture, beliefs, values and personal characteristics.
The Panel recognised the need to balance respect for autonomy with safeguarding individuals and communities in relation to voluntary assisted dying. The Panel believes that the eligibility criteria, the process to access voluntary assisted dying, and the oversight measures recommended appropriately balance these aims. Eligibility criteria To access voluntary assisted dying, a person must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:
  • be an adult, 18 years and over; and
  • be ordinarily resident in Victoria and an Australian citizen or permanent resident; and
  • have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying; and
  • be diagnosed with an incurable disease, illness or medical condition, that:
    • is advanced, progressive and will cause death; and
    • is expected to cause death within weeks or months, but not longer than 12 months; and
    • is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.
The recommended eligibility criteria ensure voluntary assisted dying will allow a small number of people, at the end of their lives, to choose the timing and manner of their death. There is no intention to give people who are not dying access, and the legislation will not give these people an option to choose between living and dying. The eligibility criteria ensure the voluntary assisted dying framework provides a compassionate response to people who are close to death and choose to request voluntary assisted dying to give them greater control over the timing and manner of their death. The Panel recommends that a person must have decision-making capacity throughout the voluntary assisted dying process. This requirement is fundamental to ensuring a person’s decision to access voluntary assisted dying is their own, is voluntary, and is not the product of undue influence or coercion. The Panel recognises that this will mean some people who may want to request voluntary assisted dying will be excluded. People with dementia who do not have decision-making capacity, for example, will not be able to access voluntary assisted dying. People will also not be able to request voluntary assisted dying in an advance care directive. This may disappoint many people in the community, but the Panel is of the view that having decision-making capacity throughout the voluntary assisted dying process is a fundamental safeguard. In addition, the Panel sets out detailed guidelines as to the qualifications of the medical personnel involved in the approval process, as well as the actual procedure and safeguards in regards to the handling and disposal of the medications used in the voluntary assisted dying process. The full report is available here. [post_title] => Voluntary Assisted Dying: how the Victorians will do it [post_excerpt] => Victoria has developed a safe and compassionate voluntary assisted dying framework. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => voluntary-assisted-dying-victorians-will [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-01 11:33:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-01 01:33:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27740 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27731 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-31 21:13:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-31 11:13:05 [post_content] => Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN) will soon roll out the GoShare patient education platform to 800 health professionals in Western Victoria. GoShare allows health professionals to share engaging, timely and evidence-based health resources with patients, empowering them to play a more active role in their healthcare. Developer of the platform and founder of health promotion company Healthily Dr Tina Campbell said GoShare is an easy-to-use tool for health professionals, which includes health information in a variety of formats (video, animation, text, apps) to accommodate a range of learning styles. Used to complement face-to-face or telehealth interactions, the resources are designed to build the knowledge, skills and confidence of patients, particularly in relation to the self-management of chronic conditions. CEO WVPHN Leanne Beagley said the size and spread of the region meant there was a need for a new approach: “With a population in excess of 600,000 people, Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) is focused on ensuring better health outcomes for the rural and regional communities across western Victoria. “We are partnering with Healthily to provide local general practitioners and other health care providers with up to date health information for their patients. GoShare is an innovative patient self-management technology platform that will support people to be as independent as possible if they live with a chronic condition, will help prevent complications and potentially the need to go into hospital.” Dr Tina Campbell said there was now considerable evidence that interventions that promote patient empowerment and the acquisition of self-management skills are effective in diabetes, asthma, and other chronic conditions. In addition, research shows that Australians of all ages are embracing the digital life. According to the ACMA 2014 Report 92% of adult Australians use the internet with 68% of those aged 65 years engaging online. In 2014, people aged 55 and over showed the largest increase in app downloads. GoShare’s functionality makes it easy for health professionals to provide care that is responsive to individual patient preferences and needs. Ms Beagley said: “The platform is ‘patient-centred’ supporting health professionals to efficiently tailor and personalise information that responds to questions, concerns or interests expressed in a face-to-face or telephone consultation. “It’s about ensuring patients have access to the right information at the right time, to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to manage their health to the best of their ability.” “In essence, the health professional sends an online ‘information prescription’ to their patients or clients. Depending on the preference of the client these content bundles can be sent via SMS or email,” Dr Tina Campbell said. Another aspect of the GoShare patient education is the ability of patients to share information with their carers, families and friends. “Patients and their families play a central role in the successful management of chronic health conditions,” Dr Campbell said. “This includes appropriately monitoring their health, regulating lifestyle behaviours, and dealing effectively with the emotional and social stresses associated with being chronically ill. “Research proves that listening to people in similar circumstances sharing their health experiences and insights is a very effective way of engaging patients and improving their confidence about their ability to self-manage their condition.” Western Victoria PHN will roll out the GoShare platform in September this year. In stage one, the tool will primarily be used within general practice, followed by a rollout to pharmacies.     [post_title] => Western Victoria Health to roll out education platform [post_excerpt] => WVPHN will soon roll out the GoShare patient education platform to 800 health professionals. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => western-victoria-health-roll-education-platform [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-31 21:13:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-31 11:13:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27731 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27700 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-24 17:43:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-24 07:43:49 [post_content] => Patrick Hunn The Planning Institute of Victoria has taken issue with the Victorian government’s plans to connect central Melbourne to the city’s west via a major road and cross-river tunnel. The Victorian chapter of the Planning Institute Australia has criticised the Victorian government’s West Gate Tunnel Project for failing to follow its own planning guidelines. The project would connect central Melbourne to the city’s west via a new tunnel and an 18-lane, partially elevated toll road. In a submission made in response to the West Gate Tunnel Environmental Effects Statement (EES) and the Planning Scheme Amendment (PSA) associated with the development, Victoria chapter president Laura Murray described the project as lacking “strategic justification” and argued that “alternate approaches to addressing the identified land use and transport issues have not been considered or rigorously tested”. “The proposal as it stands is a retrograde, traffic-engineering-focused solution which is entirely at odds with any appreciation for good place-making and contemporary urban planning,” Ms Murray said. “The proposed 18 lanes of traffic on and above Footscray Road are completely out of proportion with an inner-city location, which will be subject to regeneration and will permanently blight the area.” The submission also expressed concerns of “inappropriate methodology and inadequate extent of traffic modelling” which did not go beyond 2031; the “significant detriment” to traffic and future development opportunities likely to be caused by the city exits; and “entrenched inequality for those in the outer suburbs without access to a private motor vehicle.” This article first appeared in ArchitectureAU. To read the full article click here. [post_title] => ‘Retrograde solution’: West Gate Tunnel Project a ‘permanent blight,’ says PIA [post_excerpt] => The Victorian government’s plans to connect central Melbourne to the city’s west have been called into question. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => retrograde-solution-west-gate-tunnel-project-permanent-blight-says-pia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-26 12:22:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-26 02:22:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27700 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27429 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-19 12:45:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-19 02:45:11 [post_content] =>   A senior public official from Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) executed an elaborate deception to employ her two sons by encouraging them to change their names and falsify their CVs. The Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass’ report into the scam, released today [Monday], uncovered a case of naked nepotism within the metropolitan Melbourne fire service that she said had cost the public more than $400,000 over a number of years.     The MFB’s Chief Information Officer, Mary Powderly-Hughes, hid her relationship to her son, David Hewson, when she hired him in July 2014. She employed her other son, Barry Robinson, two years’ later to backfill Mr Hewson’s position after she handing him a permanent role as the Manager of IT Administration, Finance, Procurement and Projects. Leaving nothing to chance, Ms Powderly-Hughes typed her sons CVs, faked their employment history and told them the interview questions beforehand. She also pretended to carry out reference checks after interviewing them. To make doubly sure her second son got over the line for a procurement manager role, Mrs Powderly-Hughes ‘interviewed’ Mr Robinson at her home and drilled him in IT finance packages, despite him being woefully underqualified for the role and ordinarily working as a motor mechanic. The three were sprung after a whistleblower reported their concerns to the Ombudsman. “I have my suspicions that Mary Powderly Hughes has hired her son, or family member, or someone with a very close connection and I think she’s manipulated things to make sure he got the job when it became permanent. When he was a contractor he quickly got a rate rise, which is quite rare for most people,” the manager told Ms Glass. The Ombudsman investigated the tangled web the trio had weaved using social media and official records. Officers matched Mr Hewson’s mobile phone number listed on his MFB emails with his role as Treasurer of the local cricket club. They then matched his personal email address with a Facebook account for a Mr Hughes, which revealed the suburb he lived in, the same as the cricket club. The Victorian Electoral roll listed a David Patrick Powderly-Hughes in the same suburb. Mr Hughes Facebook account also showed he had previously worked for Parks Victoria, which Mrs Powderly Hughes had also listed in her past jobs on her LinkedIn account. A search of the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages showed that the men were her sons and had both changed their names a few weeks’ before starting work at MFB. Ms Glass said the case was an egregious example of self-interest. “Some cases I have investigated over the years seem so unlikely you could not make them up. Except, as in this case, they did,” Ms Glass said. “The facts of the case are that a senior public official at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade hired her son, not declaring the relationship, having falsified his CV and coached him prior to interview, three weeks after he changed his name to conceal the relationship.  “After giving him a pay rise and moving him into a permanent role, she then hired her second son, also falsifying his CV and “interviewing” him at her home after he, too, had changed his name to conceal the relationship,” said Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.  Ms Glass said she had rarely come across such blatant and calculated behaviour. “Often the cases are minor, although wrong. Not this time, this was a case of deception where the family nest was feathered, plain and simple.”  Unsurprisingly, all three have left MFB since the investigation blew up. Ms Powderly-Hughes resigned on the day of her interview with the Ombudsman and both of her sons have since been sacked. Ms Glass said cases were often difficult to detect and she underlined the importance of colleagues raising the alarm if they saw anything suspicious going on at work. “The case also serves as a salient reminder of the importance of disclosers acting on suspicion that something is awry in their workplace. More often than not, as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire.” She said that while the agency could not be held responsible for the deception perpetrated upon it in this case it needed to beef up its conflict of interest policies. [post_title] => Senior public official secretly employs sons after name changes and doctored CVs [post_excerpt] => Pretend reference checks and pay rises for the family. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senior-public-official-secretly-employs-sons-change-names-falsify-cvs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-19 14:22:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-19 04:22:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27429 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27098 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-12 10:42:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-12 00:42:57 [post_content] =>   Treasurer Scott Morrison delivers some welcome relief to local councils in his 2017 Budget speech.    Treasurer Scott Morrison has given Australia’s local councils a boost by unfreezing the indexation of federal financial assistance grants (FAGs) from July 1 and extending funding for local roads. The Abbott government decreed an indexation freeze of the grants in its 2014 Budget, much to the horror of councils, who saw inflation eat away at their bank balances. The government’s estimates indicate that the measure cost councils more than $600 million in lost income. FAGs are vital to councils, particularly regional and rural councils who tend to have a lower rates’ base and fewer revenue raising options, because they are not ring fenced and can be spent on community priorities such as parks, pools, roads and libraries. But councils are counting the cost of the three-year freeze at the same time, arguing that it has permanently reduced the grants and damaged local government’s ability to maintain community infrastructure, roads and services. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said the freeze had had a “harsh impact” on NSW councils, which were also dealing with rate capping and cost-shifting from other levels of government. Mr Rhoades estimated that it had cost NSW councils up to $300 million in lost funding over this period. “Unfortunately despite this welcome restoration, the freeze has resulted in a permanent base reduction of around 13 per cent.” Mr Rhoades said. “It is exactly these sort of financial constraints that make it almost impossible for councils to get ahead. “The significant financial losses sustained as a result of the FAGs indexation freeze cannot help but impact on the quality of local services and infrastructure councils currently provide.” Municipal Association of Victoria President Mary Lalios agreed that ending the freeze was good news for local government. “This will be good news for councils, particularly councils in rural areas as their communities have been hurting as a result of the lost funding,” Ms Lalios said. “The grants help councils to meet the costs of providing more than 100 essential services to local communities and maintaining $80 billion worth of community infrastructure. “However, councils will still be left playing catch-up as they recover from the $200 million that has been lost since the freeze began.” Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) President Mark Jamieson called the decision a “welcome relief” to the state’s councils. “Returning indexation to these grants has been an advocacy priority for the LGAQ and the Australian Local Government Association since the freeze on indexation in 2014. “We welcome the common sense decision by the government to return this vital funding to Queensland councils who now have some certainty in their ability to plan and invest in important infrastructure and projects in their communities”. Mr Jamieson said. Vice President of the Australian Local Government Association, Damien Ryan said councils could now begin to pick up the pieces. “Financial Assistance Grants are an important untied payment that councils invest in providing better infrastructure and better services for our local communities,” he said. “By restoring indexation to this important payment, the government is honouring its commitment to communities to ensure that, as far as possible, every citizen regardless of where they live can have equitable access to municipal services. “However, there is still a long road ahead before councils recover from the freeze as it permanently reduced the base level of the Financial Assistance Grants payments.” Local Government Association of South Australia’s Executive Director of Public Affairs, Lisa Teburea, said the freeze had cost the state’s councils 36 million over the past three years and wiped 13 per cent off the total value of the fund. “These grants are particularly valuable as they are un-tied, meaning councils can use this funding to provide the facilities and services most needed by their ratepayers,” Ms Teburea said. “The government’s decision to freeze indexation on FAGs in its 2014/15 budget has had a significant impact on South Australian councils, with regional communities – where the grants make up a higher proportion of councils’ total revenue – the hardest hit.” Roads  A further budget bonus for Australia’s local councils has been a two-year extension of federal government’s Roads to Recovery funding beyond the 2018-19 cut-off date. The fund is directed at local councils and is earmarked for maintaining and upgrading local roads.  It was introduced in 2000 to address the growing maintenance backlog. “Roads to Recovery provides much-needed funding to help councils maintain 85 per cent of Victoria’s road network, to achieve better safety, economic and social outcomes for their communities,” Ms Lalios said. Program funding is $700 million for 2017/18, $364.5 million in 2018/19, and increases to just below $400 million in 2019/20 in line with the government promise to boost funding for this program by $50 million per annum from 2019/20. Mr Rhoades said the funding extension was “very welcome recognition of the dire state of many roads across the nation” but added “it is important to note the delay before the additional funding kicks in, as well as the fact that the funding boost is spread nationally”. “It’s sobering to think that even if the entire $50 million for R2R was invested in NSW, it would still be insufficient to bring thousands of kilometres of particularly country roads up to the standard our communities need and deserve.” South Australia will receive supplementary road funding of $40 million over two years, after having this pulled in 2014-15. Ms Teburea called this “another significant win” for South Australian communities. “South Australian councils manage 11 percent (75,000km) of the nation’s local road network, have over 7 percent of the nation’s population, and yet receive only 5.5 percent of Identified Local Roads Grant funding,” Ms Teburea said. “This was rectified in 2004/05, through an annual ‘top-up” supplementary payment of around $18 million per annum to South Australia.  However, this payment was removed in 2014/15. “Over the past three years we’ve continued to advocate for the return of this payment, and we appreciate the federal government restoring fair and equitable road funding to South Australian councils in this year’s Budget.”   [post_title] => ScoMo’s Budget boost for local councils [post_excerpt] => Financial assistance grants unfrozen. 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Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’?

  Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), representing companies responsible for the majority of container transport to and from the Port of Melbourne, has called on the Andrews’ Victorian Labor Government to help container transport operators get a ‘fair go’ in the toll pricing to use the West Gate Tunnel. CTAA was responding to the announcements by the Victorian Premier that a consortium headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors has been selected to build the West Gate Tunnel Project (formally known as the Western Distributor Project) to commence in early 2018, and that once completed, there would be 24/7 ‘bans’ on trucks on roads in the inner west of Melbourne. CTAA director Neil Chambers said: “Not surprisingly, container transport operators in the inner and outer Western industrial suburbs undertake numerous truck trips to and from the Port of Melbourne during the day, at night and on weekends, to service vital container trade volumes through the biggest container port in Australia.” “The original government business case called for Transurban to consider a reduced toll price for transport operators undertaking these shuttle operations, as well as suitable trip caps, and the favourable treatment of Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles.”   Read more here.  This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’? [post_excerpt] => 24/7 'ban' on trucks in inner western Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-west-gate-tunnel-ban-trucks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26841 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26817 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-05 11:15:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-05 01:15:57 [post_content] =>
  By Claire Hibbit
Spotless has secured several long-term extensions in healthcare including a five-year deal with the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and a four-year extension with Healthscope. Spotless said the contracts represented a combined revenue of around $210 million over five years, and brings the total value of key strategic contracts awarded (including new wins) during March 2017 to more than $330 million. Spotless has been providing cleaning, food, ancillary, ward support, grounds and gardens maintenance, pest control, hygiene services and security services at The Alfred Hospital for more than 12 years (the contract commenced May, 2004). The more than 580-bed hospital houses one of Australia’s busiest emergency and trauma centres, Victoria’s largest intensive care unit, and the only adult burns centre in Victoria and Tasmania. Spotless’ executive general manager, health and PPP’s Stephen McIntyre said: “We are delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with The Alfred to deliver consistently high quality non-clinical services that meet the 24/7 requirements of one of Australia’s most significant health facilities”.
Read more here.   This story first appeared in INCLEAN. [post_title] => Spotless renews major health contracts [post_excerpt] => Major hospital deal in Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spotless-renews-major-health-contracts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-05 11:15:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-05 01:15:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26817 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26461 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-07 11:49:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-07 00:49:37 [post_content] =>     By Toni Jones, Partner, KPMG Enterprise All councils have to deliver on the mantra of doing more with less and constraint is often a trigger for innovation.  In the case of local government in Victoria, the introduction of ‘Fair Go rate capping’ has been the catalyst for many councils to critically reassess the way they run their organisations, responding and meeting to the needs of citizens, providing the best of services, and doing so with maturity and efficiency.  Since commencing the role of CEO Mornington Peninsula Shire, Carl Cowie has made a number of changes to drive efficiency and improve service provision.  He took on the role from the private sector over two years ago and says although rate capping has not impacted his approach, it now helps his argument.   Mornington Peninsula Shire has over 1,200 staff, a $28 million debt, multi-million dollar contracts with major contractors and a revenue of $220 million. For Carl Cowie, that’s equivalent to running a business.  He says that the private sector is a benchmark of efficiency and profit maximization and equates ratepayers to shareholders. For him, the obligation of councils is to provide the best possible return for the money ratepayers pay to local government. Rate capping means that with declining income, councils have to think radically to provide ratepayers with similar or better services over a ten year plan. Many of the 79 Victorian councils are facing deficits between revenue earned from rateable properties and their running costs.  Some already feel the impact; for others, this will come later.  Mature councils with stable population growth and limited revenue growth from rateable properties, are facing the challenge of meeting citizens’ needs, determining what services to provide and their appropriate delivery model. They’re questioning where to innovate, and how to deliver in the most efficient and cost effective way.  This includes procurement and the potentially overlooked opportunity of exploring other revenue-generating opportunities, particularly where large land and property portfolios exist.  Growth area councils benefit from population growth and increasing revenue, however in addition to the challenges faced by mature councils, they also need to fund new infrastructure requirements and respond to an increasing and changing demographic demanding new and different services.  In addition, they need to build internal organizational capability and maturity to transition from what were largely rural councils to large and fast growing urban organisations. This requires not only skilled resources, and mature processes but the introduction of smart innovation technology solutions. The expectations of citizens and constituents is also changing and driving their interaction with councils, their expectations of services offered and the level of maturity of councils in the data and information they hold and manage on their behalf.  This reflects a growing recognition that citizens are ‘customers’ who expect the same ease and speed of service from government that they currently enjoy from leading commercial providers. Michael Hiller, KPMG National Leader for Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare, says that the nominal lack of competition within government means customers can’t ‘leave’ per se, but the old adage of immunity no longer holds true.  He believes that today, customers aren’t afraid to express themselves when service levels don’t meet their expectations, and the presence of social media and 24 hour news add pressure to show that issues are being addressed. In his experience, customers will no longer accept a public sector that is behind the times. They want their tax dollars spent wisely and expect good service, meaning the sector must keep up with the pace of change set by the private sector. In addition, demographics are changing and community areas now have a mix of generations and ethnicities impacting on the way such ‘customers’ want to interact with councils, and how councils interact across these diverse community needs. All of this is complicated by the current technology situation faced by many councils.  KPMG has assisted several councils plan for their IT strategy, and we have seen a significant majority starting from the same position and with the same pain points.  By and large councils have acquired disparate IT systems, some of which are 20 to 30 years old, and now support a complex technology environment, with often hundreds of software applications supported through a set of customised integrations, and aging infrastructure.  There has been under-investment in IT, with technology historically not seen as an enabler to business. Typically, few CIOs have a seat at the executive table.  Technology’s speed of advancement and the capabilities now available presents a compelling argument for transformation.  Cloud technology is a game changer for local councils, as well as any medium sized business.  Martin Hopley, CIO at Mornington Peninsula Shire, is one advocate, acknowledging the Cloud has enabled councils to quickly adapt and run their business from anywhere.  Technology companies are also now willing to invest and work with councils to develop and test potential solutions.  This brings healthy competition and a range of options that weren’t available in the sector before.  So why is now the right time to transform and disrupt?  For many councils, rate capping has been the blunt instrument forcing structural reform.  The release valve of guaranteed revenue no longer exists. For Steven Lambert, Director City Transformation, Wyndham City Council, within the new environment, local councils must live within their means like never done before.  At the same time, these hard choices on what services to provide and how to deliver them will drive efficiencies and priorities, creating a new landscape for partnerships, more sophisticated service planning, and initiatives such as shared council services, reliance on private sector partnerships and more efficient procurement.    Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Victorian local government: Ripe for disruption under ratecapping [post_excerpt] => Triggers for innovation. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26461 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-07 11:49:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-07 00:49:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26461 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26334 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-24 17:21:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-24 06:21:52 [post_content] =>   The Corkman Irish pub after demolition. Pic: Jenny Zhou, Melbourne Law School student.        Two shonky developers and their company faced 16 charges today (Friday) and up to $2 million in fines for demolishing a landmark, heritage Irish pub in Melbourne. Melbourne City Council and the state’s building authority Victorian Building Authority (VBA), laid 16 charges in Melbourne Magistrates Court against the pair and their company for illegally demolishing the 159-year-old Corkman Irish pub in Carlton during October last year. The council and the VBA spent three months investigating the illegal knock down, which was in a heritage overlay area, before laying charges against cowboy developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri and their company that owned the land, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd. The two men, who bought the pub in 2015 for $4.76 million, were charged with demolishing the Leicester Street building without a permit; refusing to obey a stop work order; not giving the council 48 hours written notice of the demolition and doing the work outside permissible hours. Mr Kutlesovski was also charged with being an unregistered demolisher. Meanwhile, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, was charged with allowing the demolition without a permit; failing to observe a stop building work order, contravening planning legislation, carrying out demolition work outside permitted hours and not giving the council 48 hours’ notice of demolition.   The maximum penalty for each charge ranges from $3,109 to $388,650 so the two men and their company could owe up to $2 million. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he hoped the charges against the developers would lead to the pub being rebuilt. He told a media conference this afternoon: “These are very serious charges carrying very serious fines”. “Everything from demolishing a building, to being without a permit, to failing to observe a stop work order, and everything in between. “It’s not that we want to go into court to punish people as a consequence of what they have done, what we’d really like to see is The Corkman reinstated and that is possible.” Waste from the site, including dangerous asbestos, was later found dumped on a site the two man own in Cairnlea. They were understood to be planning a 12-storey apartment block on the flattened site.   [post_title] => They came in with a wrecking ball: Council lays charges over demolition of Melbourne Irish pub [post_excerpt] => Fines could hit $2 million. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => came-wrecking-ball-council-lays-charges-demolition-melbourne-irish-pub [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-27 10:44:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-26 23:44:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26334 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26196 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-08 16:44:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-08 05:44:30 [post_content] => Melbourne Crown Casino      The Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) released a report today (Tuesday) slamming the state’s alcohol and gambling regulator for being too weak, divided and disorganised to address problem drinking and gambling and for being too soft on Melbourne's Crown Casino. Auditor-General Andrew Greaves gave the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) an emphatic thumbs down across a number of key issues in his report and said a big shake up of the organisation and its work was needed. What emerges is a picture of an agency which has dropped the ball on problem alcohol and gambling in Victoria; one which has put quotas, convenience and box ticking ahead of genuinely trying to head off high risk situations. He criticised the agency for failing to clamp down on rogue venues that supplied alcohol to minors and drunk people and venues that allowed both groups to gamble. The report said the Commission’s management approach and culture meant it employed “superficial inspection activities” and focused on meeting quotas rather than pursuing harm minimisation.   There are signs too that criminal elements have been given too much freedom inside Melbourne Casino, the only Victorian venue that provides gambling and alcohol round-the-clock and the holder of 13 liquor licenses. Mr Greaves said the Commission’s compliance division had “not applied a level of focus on the casino that reflects its status and risk as the largest gaming venue in the state” and its approach had been patchy, at best. He said the Commission had “not paid sufficient attention’ to problem areas like barring people who had been excluded by police or keeping an eye on money laundering and problem gambling. Melbourne's Crown Casino was the subject of court judgements on Chinese money laundering at the end of last year, activities which involved regular large buy-ins and cash-outs of chips. Players lost more than $1.8 billion at the casino in 2015–16. Other criticisms of the VCGLR included:
  • Licensing applications not thoroughly assessed before being approved. In some cases licenses were granted where applicants had hidden the truth about their past criminal convictions and associates
  • Allocating resources to compliance activities inflexibly and based on factors other than risk
  • Inadequate guidance and training for inspectors
  • Unreliable data about liquor and gambling inspections
  The A-G said the agency had an unstable management team and lacked leadership after delays filing the CEO role. He pointed to a negative, divided work culture where sloppy systems and procedures let abuses slip through the cracks. Mitigating factors But the Auditor-General acknowledged the multiple challenges the Commission faced, after suffering a 30 per cent reduction in staff and in its budget (in real terms) between 2012 and 2016. It also lost expertise after 46 experienced staff were made redundant in the first two years. VCGLR was formed in 2012 out of a merger between Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR) and Responsible Alcohol Victoria (RAV), a business unit of the former Department of Justice. The A-G’s report found that the merger had ignited anger over pay and working conditions because inspectors brought in from two difference agencies were not paid the same. There were also 12 employee or industrial relations disputes which were a hangover from RAV, including serious bullying. Morale was low too, with a survey revealing the Commission had the second lowest staff satisfaction levels in the Victorian public sector. The Auditor General noted that the agency had to cope with venues being given responsibility for pokies at their own venues, which used to be controlled by a duopoly outside the Melbourne Casino and a dodgy IT system until integration in 2015. Mr Greaves also commented that the VCGLR had made progress over the last two years to reorganise the licensing division and had begun to take a more risk-based approach to licensing and provided better training for staff. But he concluded that ‘the scale of required reform is significant meaning that much work remains for VCGLR to become a fully effective regulator”. “Ongoing challenges in merging the people, systems and cultures from VCGLR's two predecessor regulatory bodies, along with the lack of a sufficiently risk-based approach, have precluded VCGLR from fully realising the benefits expected when creating a single regulator,” Mr Greaves said. “These significant shortcomings continue to reduce assurance that VCGLR's efforts are adequate to protect the Victorian community from the harms associated with the misuse and abuse of liquor and gambling.” Recommendations The chair recommended a number of measures to address these issues:
  • Building VCGLR's leadership capacity
  • Having a specialist team to monitor the Melbourne Crown Casino
  • Addressing serious systemic gaps in the compliance division
  • Seeking additional budget to establish a presence in regional Victoria
  • Reviewing and updating people and culture policies and practices
  • Working better with other regulatory and enforcement bodies such as Victoria Police.
[post_title] => Vic booze and gambling watchdog too soft on Melbourne's Crown Casino [post_excerpt] => Attorney-General speaks out. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => vic-booze-gambling-govt-agency-weak-soft-melbourne-casino [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-17 14:36:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-17 03:36:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26196 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26001 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-01-17 11:15:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-17 00:15:28 [post_content] => Coral Ross_opt Held back: Coral Ross. Pic: Boroondara Council website.    Boroondara Council has taken the extraordinary step of blocking one of its most experienced councillors from pursuing her bid to become the first female president of Victoria’s local government peak body. The council, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, made the decision at the end of last year not to put forward experienced Boroondara councillor Coral Ross – an independent - as a delegate for the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), effectively barring her from standing for president or a seat on the board. As well, councils which do not have a delegate are forbidden to submit motions at the state council or to vote in elections. The decision appears particularly illogical given that Ms Ross is currently MAV's Interim President and Boroondara Council’s representative until elections this March. She is also Victoria’s representative on the board of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), a position which she will also now have to forgo, and was Boroondara Mayor three times.  Ms Ross was elected to the interim presidency in November 2016 after long-serving President Bill McArthur was forced to stand down when he lost his seat on Golden Plains Shire Council. Australian Local Government Women's Association (ALGWA) Vic President Helen Coleman called the council’s decision ‘bizarre’ and ‘unprecedented’ and said the ruling was made behind closed doors. She said Ms Ross was the highest ranked female councillor in Victorian local government.  “It is a travesty that her local council has decided not to appoint a MAV delegate, a prerequisite to standing for election, and therefore depriving the sector of her leadership and of someone who has always been a strong voice for local government,” Ms Coleman said. “I’m surprised regarding Boroondara’s actions from two perspectives: firstly not availing Boroondara Council of the prospect of having a much prized seat at the MAV’s decision making table and secondly what appears to be a deliberate and ludicrous decision to deny a highly respected councillor the opportunity to represent ALL genders on the leading local government body.” She called it a ‘no win’ outcome for Boroondara and Victorian local government. Ms Ross would have been the first female president in the organisation’s more than century-long history, had she been successful in her bid for presidency. Ms Ross told Government News that she was “extremely disappointed” with her council’s decision not to nominate a delegate but said she accepted it. She would not be drawn into why the decision had been taken. But former MAV Treasurer and ex-Administrator at Brimbank City Council Jane Nathan was more vocal about the council’s shock move. “This retrograde action by some councillors elected to represent their community leaves me dumbfounded, and will be seriously questioned as more community groups are made aware of a decision that was taken behind closed doors,” Ms Nathan said. “What is their agenda? There would be no other council paying money to belong to the MAV that would remove, not only their delegate, but the President. It’s like taking a double-barrel shotgun and blasting your council off the agenda.” But Boroondara Mayor Phillip Healey defended the council’s decision in a December 2016 letter to Ms Ross in her capacity as Interim MAV President, saying the council would not suggest a delegate because it was concerned about ‘serious governance deficiencies’ within the state’s local government peak body. While Mr Healey acknowledged that Ms Ross had tried to psuh for organisational change he said the council would not nominate a delegate for MAV because it was concerned “with the poor performance of the previous board”. “Council is of the view that this is an appropriate means to demonstrate our continued disappointment with the MAV,” Mr Healey said. MAV came in for criticism in a Victorian Auditor General’s Report ‘Effectiveness of Support for Local Government’ in February 2015 for not demonstrating how it supported the state's local councils or delivered value for money. MAV was lambasted by the Auditor-General John Doyle for behaving obstructively during the audit and refusing to be held sufficiently accountable to its members or government. Ms Ross said the council had not yet decided yet to revoke its MAV membership. A council report in August 2016 said that Boroondara pays $65,560 a year in membership fees to MAV but received more than $455,000 in savings, mostly from procurement. Meanwhile, ALGWA said it may ask another Victorian council to nominate Ms Ross as it delegate, a move that it said was allowed under MAV rules. “This is a highly unusual move, but so is that of a council refusing to appoint a delegate when they are a financial member and wish to reform the organisation,” Ms Coleman said. [post_title] => Council hobbles own councillor’s bid to become first female president of local govt body [post_excerpt] => Playing politics? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-hobbles-councillors-bid-become-first-female-president-local-government-body [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-17 16:06:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-17 05:06:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26001 [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] => 27880 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-22 09:42:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-21 23:42:45 [post_content] => Commercial fitness operators will have to register with the City of Bendigo before operating in public parks. Following a six-month trial, the Greater Bendigo City Council has adopted a new Fitness Operators Policy for businesses that conduct commercial operations in local parks, gardens and sporting reserves. The new policy means commercial fitness operators will now need to obtain a permit to conduct their operations at local parks, gardens and reserves. City of Greater Bendigo active and healthy lifestyles manager Lincoln Fitzgerald said an increase in the number of commercial fitness operators in recent years had prompted the City to develop the policy. “The six-month trial conducted by the City relied on operators to voluntarily register their commercial activity, and for the industry to self-regulate compliance with limited support from City staff.  This was done to allow the trial to take place with no fees and to limit the costs associated with its enforcement,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “During the trial period, 13 businesses registered as regular providers and three as casual providers. However, the City understands there is a number of other fitness businesses operating on public land without permission and any regulation of their activities. “During and after the trial, the City consulted with those impacted by the policy including commercial fitness operators, class participants, park users and City staff responsible for maintaining the public space and enforcing the policy. “Overall, consultation supported a more regulated approach to ensure an equitable, protected, respected and consistent industry. “The City recognises that commercial fitness operators do provide a range of alternative physical recreation activities for residents that would otherwise not be available. However, the policy places conditions on the types of equipment and activities that can take place. “The aim of the new policy is to manage these activities in a manner that balances industry needs, provides protection of public built and natural assets and maintains community access and amenity to these facilities.” The new policy will be integrated within the review of the City’s Local Law Number 5 Municipal Places which is set to be reviewed late 2017.   [post_title] => The park is for the public [post_excerpt] => Commercial fitness operators will have to register with the City of Bendigo before operating in public parks. 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