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Connect December 2014

Last updated: 11/04/2016 11:01 PM
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  1. From the Director General
  2. New phase for reform
  3. Maureen is top senior
  4. Future-proofing our youth
  5. Good governance
  6. PAT the dog
  7. One-stop seniors shop
  8. Healthy children strategy
  9. Bill cuts through red tape
  10. Teen tops youth awards
  11. Talking diversity
  12. Cadets WA goes regional
  13. Vital volunteers
  14. Age-friendly communities
  15. Women success stories
Volume 01 | December 2014

From the Director General

Jennifer Mathews

Welcome to the final issue of connect for 2014. It has been a year of significant change and growth for the Department of Local Government and Communities, paving the way for an exciting and busy year ahead.

DLGC aims to achieve the best possible outcomes for Western Australian communities. With this in mind, we have proudly strengthened our partnerships with both community sector organisations and local governments.

The recent expansion of the Cadets WA program, the co-location of the Seniors Housing Centre with the Seniors Card Centre and furthering our commitment to workplace gender equality are examples of collaboration in action.

We have continued to support the local government sector through our capacity building program, and this month we will launch the Better Practice Reviews Program that will recognise and promote good practice in country local governments.

In November we sponsored a Local Government Managers Australia (WA) forum in which 30 local governments, as well as State Government agencies and community sector organisations, met to develop an age-friendly communities network. At the forum, WA was recognised as a world leader in this area and the only jurisdiction in Australia with an age-friendly government framework.

In the community sector, we partnered with the Youth Affairs Council of WA and Council on the Ageing WA to deliver events recognising the outstanding contributions that young people and older people make to the State.

Looking ahead, metropolitan local government reform remains high on the agenda. The independent Local Government Advisory Board report, which was released recently, has established a framework for the most significant reform of metropolitan local government in 100 years.

Following the dismissal of legal challenges to the reform process in the Supreme Court on 25 November, DLGC will be working closely with metropolitan councils to progress change in time for the implementation of new local governments in July next year.

2015 is just around the corner. I am looking forward to another year of working with our stakeholders and partners across the local government and community sectors to achieve positive outcomes for communities across the State.

I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas.

Jennifer Mathews
Director General
Department of Local Government and Communities


New phase for reform

Perth city skyline and river

Councils across Perth are preparing for changes ahead, as the State Government’s metropolitan local government reform enters a new phase.

Local Implementation Committees are now leading the reform initiatives for their districts, with some well advanced and working on the second phase of the implementation schedule.

Governor’s Orders to formally implement the creation of most of the new or altered local governments are being finalised. The orders will describe the new district boundaries, including the names and starting dates of the new local governments, whether there are wards and the wards’ names and number of councillors.

The Department of Local Government and Communities has prepared an information sheet to explain the process and timeline for introducing wards in each new local government. The Wards and Representation Arrangements document provides timelines for councils affected by either a boundary adjustment or an amalgamation.

Some local governments are making good progress in developing their Project Delivery Plans and the quality of these plans will be a key element in the assessment for funding. The first tranche of the $15 million grants funding will be available when the Governor’s Orders are gazetted. Loan funding will also be available from 1 January 2015. 

Work is also well underway in framing the City of Perth Act which will set the city’s new boundaries and position Perth as an increasingly important city in the Asia region. Planning for the proposed City of Riversea, which would combine five western suburbs councils, has also begun.


Maureen is top senior

Maureen Angus, Juniper 2014 WA Seniors Champion, in a park holding her trophy

A Kimberley Aboriginal woman has been named WA’s most outstanding older person at the annual WA Seniors Awards.

Maureen Angus received the Juniper 2014 WA Seniors Champion Award for her work in founding a seniors’ care service in Ardyaloon, a remote Aboriginal community north of Broome.

She was among nine winners, including organisations and individuals, who were recognised for their contribution to the Western Australian community at the annual awards ceremony in November.

The inaugural Age Friendly Local Government Award was presented to the City of Cockburn.

The awards kick-started Seniors Week and more than 100 community events celebrating seniors across the State, most of which were funded through DLGC’s Seniors Week Community Grants Program.

Highlights of the week included Have a Go Day at Burswood Park, a free outdoor opera performance by West Australian Opera in Perth’s CBD and the Active Seniors Festival hosted by the Council on the Ageing WA.


Future-proofing our youth

Two high school girls stand by photos in a classroom

Councils and community groups can apply for grants to help grow the life skills, wellbeing and resilience of young people.

DLGC’s Youth Activities Grants Program offers an opportunity for organisations to engage 12 to 25 year-olds in projects that will achieve positive outcomes for them.

Local governments and community sector organisations can apply for up to $5,000 to help develop the knowledge and confidence of young people and to encourage them to be actively involved in community life.

Successful projects will align with the State Government’s Our Youth—Our Future Western Australia's Youth Strategic Framework that guides youth program and service planning.

Projects may include encouraging young people to participate in their local community; providing opportunities for them to learn and develop life skills; and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Applications for the grants program are open year round and are assessed every three months.


Good governance

Two men and a woman list local government better practice topics on a whiteboard

DLGC is set to launch a new initiative to recognise and promote good practice in WA’s country local governments. 

The Better Practice Reviews Program has been developed with assistance from the NSW Department of Local Government and is based on a similar program that has been operating in that State for a number of years.

The reviews will evaluate and provide feedback on a local government’s operations, including governance, regulatory functions, asset and financial management, community consultation and workforce relations. The strengths of a local government will be highlighted and best practice communicated to the sector.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • Generate momentum for a culture of continuous improvement and greater compliance across the local government sector.
  • Promote good governance and ethical regulation.
  • Identify and share innovation and best practice in the local government sector.
  • Act as a ‘health check’ and provide departmental advice and support to local governments that may be experiencing operational problems. 

The Better Practice Reviews Program is part of the State Government’s Country Local Government Fund Capacity Building Program, funded by Royalties for Regions. For more information phone 6552 1644 or email crystal.bell@dlgc.wa.gov.au


PAT the dog

Public Access Test Assessor Phil Turkington and his assistance dog Varda at a table in the city

Western Australia’s first independent Public Access Test assessor of assistance dogs has been appointed.

Phil Turkington has been appointed to assess the suitability of assistance dogs for access to public places and transport. He is also available as a trainer.

Amendments to the Dog Act 1976 that came into effect on 1 November 2013 expanded the guide dog provisions to include mobility assistance and diabetic alert dogs.

Assistance dogs that have not been trained by a recognised organisation under the Act must pass a Public Access Test to be approved under DLGC’s Assistance Dog Approvals Policy.

Having an independent PAT assessor makes it easier for assistance dogs and their handlers to be approved. For more information visit DLGC’s assistance dogs web page.

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One-stop seniors shop

A senior couple standing outside their suburban house

Seniors now have access to a one-stop shop of housing and WA Seniors Card information in a handy location.

The Seniors Housing Centre has moved to 140 William Street, alongside the WA Seniors Card Centre at Level 2 Gordon Stephenson House.

Both services are well utilised by older people looking to ease the financial pressures that seniors can face.

The co-location creates an information hub for seniors and reduces State Government office space and costs.

The Seniors Housing Centre, previously located in St Georges Terrace, provides free information and advice for seniors considering a change in living arrangements towards retirement. The service is a partnership between the Department of Commerce and the Council on the Ageing WA, with DLGC contributing funding for the centre. The Seniors Housing Centre telephone will remain the same: 1300 367 057.

The WA Seniors Card Centre, managed by DLGC, facilitates the Seniors Card that offers card holders a range of discounts on State Government and local business goods and services.

Caption: Pictured at the co-location launch from left to right: Ken Marston, COTA CEO; June Van de Klashorst, Seniors Ministerial Advisory Council Chair; Trish Truslove, WA Seniors Card Volunteer; Hon Tony Simpson MLA, Seniors and Volunteering Minister; and Michael Mischin, Minister for Commerce.

Alt text: Pictured at the co-location launch from left to right were: COTA CEO Ken Marston, Seniors Ministerial Advisory Council Chair; WA Seniors Card Volunteer Trish Truslove; Seniors and Volunteering Minister Tony Simpson; and Minister for Commerce Michael Mischin.


Healthy children strategy

A young girl eating watermelon in a field

A City of Wanneroo strategy to support the healthy development of children as received assistance from DLGC.

The city’s Early Childhood Strategy and Policy was developed in consultation with DLGC’s Parenting WA service, as well as the Wanneroo Early Years Network and the Roseworth Child and Parent Centre.

Launched in October, the strategy is a three-year plan that provides a common agenda for the healthy development of children from birth to eight years.

The strategy will complement and support existing programs and activities and aims to create a lasting improvement in the lives of young children by helping them and their parents before problems arise, contributing to a socially and economically stronger community.

The strategy represents an example of local governments planning for the unique local needs of their community, and supports early years’ initiatives led by DLGC, the City of Wanneroo and partners, including the community sector.


Bill cuts through red tape

Laptop computers sharing information via a cable

Legislation has been introduced into State Parliament that includes provisions to make it easier for local governments to share services.

The Local Government Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 is designed to reduce red tape and will allow councils to band together to share the provision of services through the use of a regional subsidiary.

The Bill strengthens the ability of local governments to deliver shared services to their communities by creating a model for a legal entity that will have fewer compliance obligations than current arrangements.

It provides a flexible mechanism for local governments to collaborate on activities such as the management of information technology, regional tourism or service delivery to Aboriginal communities.

Other changes include:

  • allowing the Local Government Standards Panel to dismiss frivolous complaints
  • clarifying the limitation on termination payments of local government CEOs and officers to a maximum of one year’s remuneration, and
  • providing more clarity to underpin determinations of the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal about payments to local government elected members.

Teen tops youth awards

WA Young Person of the Year James Clarke pictured with Youth Minister Tony Simpson at the awards

An Aboriginal high school student who speaks out nationally against prejudice has been named WA Young Person of the Year.

Seventeen year-old James Clarke was one of 26 finalists in the WA Youth Awards presented by Youth Minister Tony Simpson at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on 20 November.

A partnership between DLGC and the Youth Affairs Council of WA, the annual awards celebrate and recognise the achievements of young people and their contributions to Western Australia.

A Lockridge Senior High School student, James faced huge challenges when coming out as homosexual in year 10. Since then, he has made a stand to educate his classmates, teachers and the wider community about the need to eliminate prejudice in schools.

The six award categories of the WA Youth Awards included the Minister for Youth’s Most Outstanding Youth Worker Award sponsored by DLGC and this year won by Ocean Reef High School chaplain Matthew Bartlett.


Talking diversity

A young couple standing beside a Mandurah sculpture

Creating inclusive communities for the multicultural population in Perth’s southern corridor was the focus of roundtable discussions last month.

The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI), along with the Federal Government’s Department of Social Services, visited the cities of Rockingham, Mandurah, Cockburn and Kwinana in November. The discussions were an opportunity to share information with the aim of better responding to the needs of the culturally diverse communities.

More than 70 community and local government representatives attended the discussions. Common issues that emerged included gaps in services, inadequate infrastructure and the need to create environments that embrace cultural diversity. Greater support for vulnerable groups, particularly women, children and young people, was also identified.

Rockingham talks focused on community integration and social inclusion, while in Mandurah concerns were raised about the support available for skilled workers on temporary visas. In Cockburn the major issues raised were education and training, health and language services, and in Kwinana physical infrastructure was at the top of the agenda.

The consultations highlighted the need for greater collaboration between State, federal and local governments, the community sector and business and industry groups. For more information contact: harmony@omi.wa.gov.au


Cadets WA goes regional

A teenage boy paddles a kayak in a river

Young people have the chance to develop essential life and leadership skills with the expansion of the State Government’s Cadets WA program.

Funded by DLGC, six new Cadets WA units will be introduced over four years in the Goldfields, Pilbara and the Kimberley. This includes two new Bush Ranger units at the Ngaanyatjarra Lands School and Coolgardie Christian Aboriginal Parent School in the Goldfields region.

Bush Rangers learn about bush survival and their natural environment. The expansion of the program will ensure that young people in remote and regional WA are given every chance to reach their potential.

Cadets WA caters for more than 8,000 cadets and staff in about 200 units, from Wyndham to Esperance and to the South Australian border.

New River Ranger units will also be introduced at Alinjarra Primary School, Swan View Primary School and Beechboro Christian School in 2015. This program enables primary school children to develop confidence, teamwork and leadership skills through hands-on river projects.


Vital volunteers

A senior woman and surf rescue volunteer holding a surf board at the beach

More than 30 celebratory events were held throughout Western Australia in December to thank WA’s volunteers.

Thank a Volunteer Day took place on 5 December, with the Department of Local Government and Communities providing $32,000 in Thank a Volunteer Day Grants to organisations to host events.

The program supports organisations to host community events as a way of acknowledging and celebrating the role of volunteers in the community. Thirty-three events were held across the State including awards ceremonies, workshops, barbeques and day trips.

For example: Centacare Family Services in the mid-west held a sundowner and Volunteer of the Year Awards Ceremony for 120 people to formally recognise the hard work of community volunteers.

Other events included a tea party hosted by Volunteer South West Inc., a barbeque hosted by the Shire of Wandering and an informal dinner at the Bethanie Fields Lifestyle Village in Eaton hosted by The Bethanie Group Inc.

DLGC provides funding of $1.26 million to the community services sector to support volunteering.  This includes $622,000 to peak body Volunteering WA and $639,627 to support 15 volunteer resource centres.


Age-friendly communities

A senior couple stand by a river foreshore holding kayak paddles

A new State Government funding program is set to help regional local governments create better communities in which older people stay mentally and physically active and involved.

Regional local governments can apply for up to $10,000 to develop initiatives that align with the State Government’s An Age Friendly WA: The Seniors Strategic Planning Framework 2012-2017

Funding of $3 million has gone towards age-friendly initiatives since 2006.  In the past seven years, 13 metropolitan and 14 non-metropolitan local governments have received funding to plan better communities for older people.

The $200,000 Age Friendly Communities Grants Program aims to ensure that seniors have opportunities to stay connected, have a say in the services that affect them and remain mentally and physically active. 

In the metropolitan area, 42 per cent of seniors live in an age-friendly local government area – compared with 7.5 per cent in regional areas.

Applications for the grants program are open until 27 February 2015.


Women success stories

Kerryn Lambert shows fellow Ignition program graduate Chris Park posters created to entice investors

Women scholarship recipients mingled with WA business leaders at a networking event at Parliament House recently.

The event, hosted by Minister for Women’s Interests Liza Harvey, provided an opportunity for the women recipients to mix with prominent business, government and community leaders.

DLGC supports six women to participate in the Women in Mining WA mentoring program each year, and funds 16 scholarships in the Women in Global Business mentoring program.

It also supports Curtin University’s Curtin Growth Ignition program, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs, academics and innovators to develop business ideas for the commercial environment. DLGC’s support of this program has helped increase the number of women participating from 18 per cent in 2012 to 46 per cent in 2014.

Applications for the next intake of the Women in Global Business mentoring program close on 30 January 2015.