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Connect December 2016

Last updated: 3/01/2017 8:14 PM
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From the Director General

Jennifer MathewsDirector General, Jennifer Mathews

As the end of the year approaches it is timely to reflect on achievements and celebrate successes over the last 12 months.

Many of the outstanding individuals and organisations who contribute to our local communities were celebrated last month at the WA Seniors Awards, WA Youth Awards and WA Volunteer Service Awards.  These award winners remind us how our communities can be enriched by people from all walks of life showing initiative and leadership that inspires others to work together. Read more about this year's award recipients in this newsletter. 

Premier's Awards Group Shot - DG Message.jpgDirector General Jennifer Mathews and colleagues (from left) Richard Bean, Scott Hollingworth, Libby Delany and Kenneth Parker receive the 2016 Premier’s Award from Premier Colin Barnett and Local Government Minister Paul Miles.

The Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) also had cause for celebration last month when it received a 2016 Premier's Award for Public Sector Excellence.  The award acknowledged the department's work in establishing the MyCouncil website and associated initiatives including the revised Integrated Planning and Reporting (IPR) Framework, Better Practice Review Program, elected member training and community development initiatives. See the Premier's Award profiles for more information. 

On a similar theme, recent amendments to the Local Government Legislation Amendment Act 2016 will reduce red tape, improve flexibility and empower local governments to work collaboratively in service delivery.

Another major milestone was the opening of the new Centre for Parenting Excellence in Mount Lawley. The centre will play a vital role in promoting best practice in parenting programs and ensuring that resources are targeted to the areas of greatest need.

With the arrival of summer, I wish to remind you of the need to be Bushfire Ready. The new Emergency WA website, contains valuable information on how to prepare your properties for the bushfire season, as well as critical real-time warning and incident information.

I'm pleased to report that you can now connect with DLGC on Twitter. Our new Twitter account goes by the handle @dlgcwa and will be our corporate social media channel. Discover department news, stakeholder and community events, and interesting research and development in relevant fields.

Finally, we would like to ensure that you continue to receive this newsletter next year. If it was forwarded to you by a colleague, please refer to the subscription details at the end of the newsletter.

I wish you all a safe and happy festive season, and look forward to working with you again in 2017.

Jennifer Mathews

Director General
Department of Local Government and Communities

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Red tape reduced

Red tape reduced.jpgRecent amendments to the Local Government Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (Amendment Act) will reduce red tape, improve flexibility and encourage local governments to partner in service delivery.

Under the legislation, two or more local governments can form a regional subsidiary, giving them the opportunity to provide more efficient and cost-effective services across local government borders.

This could include IT management, tourism or road maintenance. The proclamation of these provisions of the Amendment Act will happen once the supporting regulations have been prepared by the Department of Local Government and Communities.

The Amendment Act has also made changes to the Local Government Standards Panel (the Panel) complaints process.  The Panel may now dismiss complaints deemed to be frivolous, trivial, misconceived or vexatious, enabling it to deal with serious complaints in a more timely manner. Individuals will also now be able to withdraw complaints.

Other amendments mean that the offence relating to defamatory statements during elections has been deleted from the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act).  Complaints will now be dealt with under the Defamation Act 2005.

The local law-making process under the Act has also been simplified so that local laws will not be found invalid for minor errors in that process.

A copy of the Local Government Act 1995 which incorporates the amendments can be viewed on the State Law Publisher's website.

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New support for parenting

new support for parents.jpg

A new era in the delivery of parenting services in Western Australia got underway in November, with the establishment of a new Centre for Parenting Excellence.

Hosted by the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC), the Mount Lawley based centre will provide a collaborative approach across government and the community sector to improve the availability and quality of WA’s parenting services.

The centre will also encourage best practice, sharing of ideas and information, monitor parent support needs and evaluate service outcomes.  One of its first tasks will be to undertake a mapping of parenting services across WA. A new website for the centre will also launch next year.

The centre will be governed by a steering committee co-chaired by DLGC Director General Jennifer Mathews and Professor Stephen Zubrick of the Telethon Kids Institute and University of Western Australia.

Members of the steering committee include:

Co-chairs
Ms Jennifer Mathews, Director General, Department of Local Government and Communities
Professor Stephen Zubrick, Telethon Kids Institute and University of Western Australia

State Government
Ms Cheryl Barnett, Department for Child Protection and Family Support
Mr Garry Hewitt, Department of Education
Ms Trulie Pinnegar, Department of Health

Australian Government
Ms Tanya George, Department of Social Services

Independent Statutory Office
Mr Colin Pettit, Commissioner for Children and Young People

Peak organisation
Ms Irina Cattalini, Western Australian Council of Social Service

Community sector
Mr Ashley Reid, Ngala
Mr Tony Pietropiccolo, Centrecare
Mr Dawson Ruhl, Child Australia
Dr Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, Pindi Pindi Centre for Research Excellence in Aboriginal Wellbeing

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WA Seniors Card enhanced

wa seniors card enhanced.jpgThe Department of Local Government and Communities has launched a public awareness campaign to benefit more than 370,000 WA Seniors Card members.

Eligible WA seniors now have access to a range of new discounts and offers including deals from Vodafone and Plus Fitness 24/7.

A new and improved WA Seniors Card website, launching soon, will enable seniors on the go to see what discounts are nearby using their mobile device. There will also be a ‘favourites’ function, and special member only offers. Business partners can propose new discounts, special offers and competition prizes directly on the website, enabling discounts to be responsive to members' needs.

More than 600 business partners have already joined the WA Seniors Card online discount directory, offering members exclusive access to a range of generous benefits and discounts. The WA Seniors Card also enables members to access State Government concessions, including 50 per cent off fishing licences, money off local government rates and 50 per cent off a driver's licence renewal fee.

View the WA Seniors Card television advertisement.

Visit the WA Seniors Card website.

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New language program

new language program.jpgCommunity language schools across Western Australia will benefit from a new service with the recent launch of the Community Languages Collection at the State Library of Western Australia.

Launched in October, the collection is a new resource for language teachers, students and community members. It includes a range of specific language and generic learning materials to help WA's community language schools deliver language education.

The collection covers more than 40 languages and is being supported by the State Government for $160,000 over three years via the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI).

The resource centre is being delivered by the State Library in partnership with OMI, as part of OMI’s Community Languages Program. The program provides grant funding to community organisations to develop and promote WA’s diverse languages and cultures by teaching languages other than English after school hours.

Comprising a range of hard copy, digital, audio and visual resources, the collection provides access to materials that may be out of reach for individual teachers and schools.

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Lessons learned

lessons learned.jpgA recent report of the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) into governance problems at the Shire of Dowerin (the Shire) has highlighted issues of crucial interest for the local government sector.

Earlier this year, a CCC investigation culminated in the conviction of the former Chief Executive Officer of the Shire for stealing as a public servant.

More than $600,000 from Shire funds were misappropriated over a period of four years. This prompted a further inquiry by the CCC into how the circumstances arose that allowed such fraud to occur for so long without detection.

In its report released on 10 October 2016, the CCC detailed an ongoing series of failings in both administrative processes at the Shire and the elected council’s governance and oversight of those processes.

The report noted that the Shire had learned its lessons, however, it also highlighted the need for other local governments to review and monitor administrative processes. Critically, the report emphasised that the experiences of the Dowerin Shire Council and its administration provide a cautionary tale for all local governments across the State.

The CCC observed in its report that council members needed to be aware of the fact that: ‘attention needs to be paid to the scope of work contracted with the auditor, an audit may not detect fraud, and it is the council’s responsibility to have robust policies and procedures to mitigate the risk of fraud’.

The report also observed that a council’s primary duty of governance can be assisted by elected member training.

For more information, the report can be downloaded from the CCC website.

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Free workshops

CLGF Bunbury Participants.jpgCLGF 2016 Bunbury participants

A series of free training workshops to support youth development in country local governments will be on offer next year.

Youth Development workshops have already been conducted in Broome, Bunbury and Dalwallinu, and will continue at other country locations in 2017.

Delivered by Local Government Managers Australia, the two-day workshop enables young people to develop leadership skills, plan their career and expand their understanding of local government.

It combines hands-on activities with group discussion, providing opportunities for young people to network with others working in the sector.

To be eligible, participants must be aged 30 years old or less and currently employed by a country local government.

The workshops are presented by the Department of Local Government and Communities through the Royalties for Regions Country Local Government Fund. 

They are currently scheduled to take place in Kojonup, Merredin, Esperance, Carnarvon and Karratha.

Places are limited, so early registration is recommended. For a list of upcoming workshops visit the DLGC website.

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WA volunteers honoured

wa voluteers honoured.jpgRon Hancock, awarded for 50 years of volunteer service at aged care provider, Bethanie

Ten Western Australians with a combined total of more than 500 years’ voluntary service have been honoured at an event for International Volunteer Day at Government House.

The group were among 19 volunteers to receive a WA Volunteer Service Award in 2016 for providing 50 or more years of service to one organisation.

This year, the awards were included in the 2016 International Volunteer Day Garden Party event hosted by Volunteering WA, to celebrate the achievements of volunteers and the difference they make to local communities.

Among the recipients attending the ceremony was Ron Hancock who has volunteered with aged care provider Bethanie for more than 50 years. Mr Hancock entertains residents by playing the piano, brightening the lives of hundreds of seniors.

The WA Volunteer Service Awards recognise volunteers who have provided 25 or more and 50 or more years of service to one organisation. Nominations are open throughout the year.

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Grants available

grants support available.jpgFunding programs to support several community areas have been announced by the Department of Local Government and Communities.

In November, it was announced that the Age Friendly Communities Grants program had been doubled to $200,000 for 2016-17, following feedback from the local government sector which indicated a need for support to implement age friendly projects.

The program has been successful since its introduction in 2008 with more than $473,000 in funding provided to 70 local governments to help with age friendly community planning.

Up to $20,000 is available to local governments to deliver initiatives linked to age friendly and strategic community plans. Local governments that have not already received funds through the program continue to be eligible for up to $10,000 to undertake age friendly planning. Find out more about the Age Friendly Communities Grants program.

Also recently launched was the Youth Engagement Grants Program. Through the program, funding is available to local governments and community organisations that actively involve young people in the design, planning and implementation of local projects. Up to $5,000 is available for activities or initiatives lasting up to six months and up to $10,000 is available for longer term initiatives.

The program aims to get young people involved in their communities in creative ways. It was designed around the Our Youth – Our Future, Western Australia’s Youth Strategic Framework which provides a whole of government framework to guide youth program and service planning in an integrated way. View the Youth Engagement Grants Program Application Guidelines.

Funding available through the Grants for Women program has also been doubled for 2016-17, and the program has been expanded so applications can be made throughout the year.  Through the program, eligible community organisations and local governments can secure funding for projects that encourage women's economic independence and/or encourage women's leadership. More details can be found on DLGC’s grants pages.

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Outstanding youth shine

outstanding youth shine.jpgVanessa Vlajkovic, 2016 WA Young Person of the Year.

A 19-year-old Dianella woman who was the first deafblind university student in WA has been awarded the 2016 WA Young Person of the Year.

Aspiring journalism student, Vanessa Vlajkovic, also won the Positive Achievement Award at the WA Youth Awards held at Crown Perth on 25 November.

The WA Youth Awards are presented by the Youth Affairs Council of WA, in partnership with the Department of Local Government and Communities, and supported by Lotterywest.

Born blind and losing her hearing at the age of seven, Ms Vlajkovic was acknowledged for not letting her sensory loss prevent her from getting involved in her community.

She is now an advocate for deafblind people in WA, establishing Deafblind West Australians, an entity providing support, social interaction and advocacy for deafblind people.

WA Youth Awards 2016 winners are:

1. Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award: Brianne Yarran, Bennett Springs.
2. ECU Community Leadership Award: Courtney Fare, Seville Grove.
3. Cultural Endeavours Award: Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett, Mount Lawley.
4. Minister for Youths' Outstanding Youth Worker Award: Mark Bird, Currambine.
5. Organisational Achievement Award - Large Organisation: Armadale Youth Intervention Partnership, Armadale.
6. Organisational Achievement Award - Small Organisation: WA Youth Cancer Advisory Committee, Nedlands.

For more information, visit the WA Youth Awards website

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Winning seniors

winning seniors.jpg2016 Juniper Seniors Champion Jenny Davis with her award

Outstanding seniors have been recognised for their contribution to the community at the WA Seniors Awards.

A 67-year-old actress and director has been named 2016 Juniper Seniors Champion at the WA Seniors Awards.

Jenny Davis, from Mt Hawthorn, received the commendation last month in recognition of her ongoing work with Agelink Theatre, which she established in 1993.

The theatre provides intergenerational and interactive productions based on the oral histories and recollections of seniors.

Ms Davis was praised for her work giving older people the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way, ensuring their voices remained heard.

The WA Seniors Awards are presented by the Council on the Ageing WA (COTA WA) in partnership with the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC).

The awards marked the start of Seniors Week in WA which saw hundreds of events take place across the State, including the popular Have a Go Day at Burswood Park, which is coordinated by the Seniors Recreation Council of WA.

The week ran from 6 to 13 November and included 93 activities receiving more than $80,000 in grants from DLGC and Lotterywest. The program was administered on DLGC’s behalf by COTA WA.

Full profiles of all of the finalists and winners are available online, plus information on Seniors Week activities across WA.

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Local government gala

local government gala.jpgDLGC staff and Local Government Minister Paul Miles at the LGMA Annual State Conference 2016. Front row: Jenni Law, Jennifer Mathews, Julie Craig, James Harmer. Back row: Brad Jolly, Matt Hayes, Troy Hancock, Scott Hollingworth, Minister Paul Miles, Shannon Wood.

The Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) was a principal partner at a key professional development event on the local government calendar.

Smart Hub, DLGC’s new online portal for local governments was showcased at the Local Government Managers Australia WA (LGMA WA) Annual State Conference in November.

The portal will make it easier for WA’s local governments to submit documents to DLGC online, access important information, monitor their financial health and keep track of compliance deadlines. 

A highlight on the professional development calendar for local government officers, the conference took place from 9 to 11 November, at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle. This year’s theme recognised how local governments provide support ‘Without fear or favour’.

DLGC is a long-time sponsor of the conference, which was attended by about 250 local government executive officers, directors and senior managers, industry and trade partners. 

It provides a valuable networking and engagement opportunity for local government professionals from across Western Australia.

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Ambassador named

youth ambassador named.jpgDarci Miller, 2017 National Youth Ambassador

A young Como woman passionate about mental health will lead Western Australia’s 2017 National Youth Week (NYW) celebrations.

As National Youth Week Ambassador, 23 year old Darci Miller will represent the State’s young people during the week of activities and events, sitting on the WA National Youth Week Planning Committee.  

She will play an important part in guiding and promoting WA’s events and encouraging other young people to get involved.

The University of Notre Dame graduate previously received a scholarship to work with Mentally Healthy WA on a peer-education program to teach young people about mental health. She is also part of the Youth Affairs Council of WA 2016 Youth Educating Peers Project.

Darci has coordinated NYW activities in the past, including a project in Mandurah last year. 

National Youth Week is Australia’s largest annual celebration of young people aged 12 to 25 years.  In WA the week is presented by Propel Youth Arts in partnership with the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC). 

More than 100 events are expected to take place in WA during the week, which next year runs from 31 March to 9 April.

Many of these events are funded by National Youth Week grants provided by DLGC and the Australian Government's Department of Education and Training.

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Language learning

language learning.jpgA new program encouraging language learning has been launched by the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI).

The Languages in the Mainstream Program, supported by the State Government for $80,000, will promote languages and encourage language learning across the community languages and mainstream education systems.

Developed and run by the Modern Language Teachers’ Association of WA, the 12 month program was created in response to a decreasing number of language students in mainstream schools and the increasing importance of languages to WA’s social and economic prosperity.

OMI’s sponsorship will fund a program that will include:

  • a number of general public information sessions with keynote speakers profiling the benefits of language learning
  • a series of competitions for language students including a bilingual text for culturally and linguistically diverse students, an in-language video project and an online competition
  • the reinstatement of Languages Week WA featuring daily events in August 2017.

The program will build on the redevelopment of the Community Languages Program, run by OMI.

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Grant for Big Issue women

grants for big issue women.jpgWA Women’s Subscription Enterprise employees Susie, Laima, Jodi, Pawandeep and Harjinder

A $15,500 grant recently provided by the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) to The Big Issue is providing employment to disadvantaged women.

The Big Issue Women's Subscription Enterprise project employs women to pack The Big Issue magazines for distribution to subscribers every fortnight, giving them an income as well as access to training, mentoring and a safe environment.

The grant funding has been used to purchase 200 subscriptions, which will provide 200 Western Australian libraries with copies of The Big Issue. 

Individual subscriptions of The Big Issue are $155 for 12 months (25 issues), including delivery and monthly subscriptions are also available. Local governments are particularly encouraged to support this initiative.

Learn more about The Big Issue Women's Subscription Enterprise.

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DLGC joins Twitter

dlgc joins twitter.gifDLGC’s departmental Twitter account launched on 13 December with the Director General’s message for the festive season.

DLGC has extended its social media presence with the launch of an official Twitter account, @dlgcwa

The inaugural tweet wished Western Australian communities well for the festive season and the coming New Year.

The new Twitter account will represent all of DLGC's portfolio areas, covering information and news from local government through to seniors and youth. It provides a new digital channel for public communications and will be a valuable source of information and support for communities and stakeholders, covering grant and funding allocations, regulatory information, and topic-based areas of interest.

Organisations and community members are encouraged to engage with DLGC on Twitter.

Visit DLGC Twitter account.

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Online voting for electors

online voting for electors.jpgAt the WA State general election on 11 March 2017 eligible electors currently enrolled will be able to vote by telephone, computer or mobile device, using iVote.

An eligible elector is anyone who has insufficient literacy skills or is sight impaired or otherwise incapacitated and is therefore unable to vote using traditional means without assistance.

The Western Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC) is introducing iVote so that eligible electors can cast their confidential vote remotely.

iVote is safe and secure with many measures in place to ensure every vote remains private.

Eligible electors can register via HelpDesk or internet and then vote via touch tone telephone or internet. 

More information will be distributed to representative organisations and published on the WAEC website closer to the election.

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