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Connect June 2017

Last updated: 30/06/2017 4:32 PM
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From the Director General

Jennifer MathewsDirector General, Jennifer Mathews

On 1 July 2017, DLGC's responsibilities for both local government and multicultural interests will transfer to the new Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

At the same time, our responsibilities for seniors, volunteering, youth, women's interests, veterans' issues, community services and early childhood education and care will move to the new Department of Communities.

So it's very timely for this final edition to reflect on some of DLGC's achievements over the last four years.

I believe the department has delivered on its mandate to build a stronger relationship between the local government and community sectors.

Local governments are now much more closely involved in the process of community development, whether it be in planning for age-friendly communities, working with young people and volunteers, or partnering to deliver services for children, families, new migrants or others in need. 

Working with us, local governments have also made significant progress in building their capacity to plan strategically for the future and to better manage their finances, assets and people.

Our work in building public confidence in the local government sector by improving the accountability of local governments, such as through the MyCouncil website, was recognised with a 2016 Premier's Award.

Our support for community services has undergone major reforms during the past four years. Initiatives to assist families have included new parenting services, establishment of the Centre for Parenting Excellence, support for regional childcare, promotion of quality childcare standards, and creation of the Grandcarers Support Scheme.

Seniors have benefited from enhancements to the WA Seniors Card and our support for a range of seniors' programs. Our work to promote age-friendly communities in WA has been recognised by the World Health Organisation.

Young people have also benefited through a range of programs designed to encourage youth leadership and community participation. These have included a youth exchange program, youth arts festivals, achievement awards and expansion of the WA Cadets program. 

Strategies and services have been put in place to support the many thousands of volunteers and carers across WA who contribute to the well-being and sustainability of our communities.

We have also focussed on the needs of women by promoting greater participation in leadership positions and opportunities for STEM careers, and identifying their need for greater financial independence.

Our Office of Multicultural Interests has continued to work across the community to promote harmony, improve the health and well-being of CALD communities, and provide parenting and family support, employment assistance and leadership development.

tim and virigina.JPGLong serving colleagues Virginia Scott and Tim Fowler pictured with Jennifer Mathews, Director General

Earlier this month, two of our most valued and long-serving colleagues retired. Virginia Scott and Tim Fowler had more than 88 years of public service experience between them, and were highly respected throughout the local government sector. We thank them for their service and wish them well in their retirement.

Finally I would like to thank DLGC staff for their untiring and consistently professional work in supporting our many stakeholders over the past four years.

I am confident that, under the new departmental arrangements, they will build on our achievements and continue to provide the same high standards of service in the years ahead.

Jennifer Mathews
Director General
Department of Local Government and Communities

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A hard Act to follow

Since the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) was formed in 2013, it has reviewed a range of statutory approvals and local government local laws. legislation.jpg

In 2016, the DLGC legislation team reviewed 210 local laws - an increase of 81 per cent on the previous year and a significant increase to the 78 per cent reviewed in 2013.

A total of 248 statutory applications including assistance dogs, burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries, differential general rates and changes to the method of valuation were received in 2016, compared to 117 in 2013.

The team has been responsible for progressing significant legislative amendments, including the City of Perth Act 2016 which took effect in March of that year.

A major outcome of the amendment saw the boundaries of the City of Perth enlarged to include The University of Western Australia, Kings Park, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre and the Perth Children's Hospital. 

Another important piece of work, the Local Government Legislation Amendment Act 2016 took effect on 21 September 2016.  The Act introduced a range of amendments including providing for regional subsidiaries - enabling local councils to provide joint services. Extensive work also took place on developing the Local Government (Auditing) Bill 2016, introduced into Parliament in August 2016, and designed to improve accountability and transparency in the sector.

The team also progressed a number of amendments to Regulations including Local Government (Superannuation), Cat and Dog Regulations, Local Government (Functions and General) Regulations and Control of Vehicles (Off-road Areas) Regulations. More recently, the Local Government (Regional Subsidiaries) Regulations took effect in January 2017.

Legislative reviews were undertaken, including consultation on the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act and Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations.

Set to become part of the new Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, DLGC's legislation team will be undertaking a targeted review of the Local Government Act 1995. The first review of the Act in more than 20 years, the review will seek to modernise the outdated laws and reduce red tape.

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ECRU excellence

The Department of Local Government and Communities' (DLGC) Education and Care Regulatory Unit (ECRU), which will join the new Department of Communities on 1 July, is responsible for assessing and rating education and care services against the National Quality Standard.  ECRU excellence.jpg

Since the implementation of the National Quality Framework in 2012, WA has seen a 19 per cent growth in childcare services over five years – the highest across the nation - and managed to keep to its timeframes on every application.

In 2013, Western Australia had 951 services which has grown by 24 per cent to 1,177 services in 2017, a growth more than double the national average.

Since 2013 ECRU has performed 6,173 visits to education and care services in WA, and despite the significant growth in the number of services, has achieved its key performance indicators each year to visit all services at least once every year.

ECRU has also developed strategies to support the sector in improved compliance, specifically targeting regulations of high non-compliance.  

More key achievements from 2013-2017 include:

  • 1,945 investigations performed
  • 1,694 complaints and 4,586 incidents reviewed
  • 1,166 compliance actions performed
  • 8,190 applications received and processed
  • 12,666 notifications received and processed
  • 1,010 assessment and rating reports compiled 

ECRU also made 34 applications for disciplinary action to the State Administrative Tribunal during this time. The majority of the concerns involved children leaving services unsupervised, in breach of section 165(1) of the National Law.

ECRU will continue to work in partnership with the sector on how to best ensure children are adequately supervised to ensure such breaches do not occur.

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Grants and funding

Grants and funding have played an enormous role in the Department of Local Government and Communities' (DLGC) work since 2013, with more than $100 million delivered to community services organisations across the State.

grants and funding.jpgJudy Flanagan, CEO of Dogs’ Refuge Home, Shenton Park

Of the funding, more than $98 million was provided in recurrent funding for 148 programs supporting seniors, youth, volunteering, carers and parenting, community and neighbourhood services; financial counselling services; individual and family support services; rural early education and care services; and sector support services.

Among the highlights was funding of more than $7 million provided for a state-wide parenting services program in 2016-17. In collaboration with the Department of Health's Child and Adolescent Health Service and Department for Child Protection and Family Services a competitive tender process was established for parenting programs across 13 regions.

DLGC led an innovative process to establish a single, whole of government service agreement with Ngala for the Parenting Line and In-Residence Parenting Service which now offers advice and support to parents and caregivers of children aged 0 to 18 years old.

A further $27 million has been delivered to more than 400 local governments and community sector organisations through one-off grants. This funding was spread across a number of grant programs and one-off sponsorships over the past four years for a variety of community programs, activities and events.

A key initiative was the successful Companion Animal Shelters program in 2016. This allocated $800,000 to support six animal rescue shelters to save unwanted and neglected cats and dogs. As a result 10,574 cats and dogs were rescued, 10,404 cats and dogs were adopted and 10,220 cats and dogs were sterilised.

Another major program assisted local government in building their strategic capacity. A total of $6.929 million was provided for various initiatives that helped to improve the capacity and capability of local governments in strategic and operational areas, including funds to support local government planning and amalgamations and scholarship funding provided to local governments that focused on the professional development of young people.

A smaller but equally successful program delivered was the Community Gardens grant program which received significant interest from across the State. Funding of $578,000 was provided to assist with the development of community gardens within Western Australian communities.

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Culturally diverse WA

The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) has worked in partnership with culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities, community organisations, government and non-government agencies and the private sector to maximise the potential of multiculturalism. culturally diverse wa.jpg

OMI's achievements include redeveloping the Community Languages Program. The program, which enables community services organisations to teach languages other than English, now supports more than 5,200 students learning 36 languages across the State.

The office developed the 'Diversifying Boards – your cultural advantage' guide, with a leadership and governance program to encourage CaLD participation on public sector boards. About 90 people have completed the program, which assists participants to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to nominate for public, community and corporate sector boards and committees.

OMI launched the Civics and Citizenship program in 2016 to increase participation by people with CaLD backgrounds in civic life in Western Australia. The training is delivered in partnership with the WA Electoral Commission and has been undertaken by about 200 people.

Harmony Week is always a highlight on the OMI calendar, and several initiatives were launched post-2013 to celebrate and promote WA's unique cultural diversity. This includes Discover Multicultural Perth, walking trails mapping places of cultural significance, Voices in Harmony, an online playlist of music representing WA's diverse culture, and Food, Faith and Love, a series of personal narratives from across WA's CaLD communities.

At the start of 2017, OMI delivered a $1 million dollar expanded Chinese New Year program, working with stakeholders in the government, private, not-for-profit and community sectors across the priority areas of tourism, international education, cultural diplomacy (through arts, culture and language) and young professionals.

OMI has also provided more than $1.5 million as part of the Community Grants Program, which has supported projects as diverse as multicultural swimming and water safety programs, the Catalyst Youth Summit, and dementia awareness programs as well as Harmony Week activities across the State.

OMI will continue to progress an array of initiatives, joining the new Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

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Women's interests

Since 2013, the Department of Local Government and Communities (DGLC) has undertaken a number of initiatives to strengthen the position of women in Western Australia.

womens interests.jpgWomen engaging in trade activities at the SkillsWest Expo 2016

A key project is the Women's Report Card, which details the statistical status of West Australian women across four areas – leadership, economic independence, women's safety and justice, and health and wellbeing. Updated and released every three years, it has provided a valuable evidence base for initiatives which support women's progress in Western Australia.

DLGC released two Report Cards, in 2012 and 2015, demonstrating some areas where there have been improvements, including:

  • female labour force participation, which increased to 61 per cent in 2014
  • women in WA's public sector senior executive service which has increased from 22.7 per cent in 2007 to 31.7 per cent in 2015
  • the percentage of female directors in ASX 200 companies, from 8.4 per cent to 19.3 per cent in 2014.

Another important initiative has been the women's consultative forums. In 2015, the then Premier hosted the first in a series of women's consultative forums to develop strategies to address issues impacting women's employment and economic independence. The focus of the first forum was 'Attracting talent – Promoting Non-traditional Education Paths and Careers to Girls'.

A range of initiatives, including the Women in STEM and Trades Pledge, were implemented to advance the strategies identified at the Forum. The Pledge encourages Western Australian businesses, community organisations, public sector agencies and individuals to support increased training and career opportunities for girls and women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields and trades.

In addition, the $1.2 million Expanding career options for women scholarship program,  launched at the Forum has provided hundreds of scholarships to encourage women to take up training in traditionally male dominated industries, trades and occupations where women comprise less than 25 per cent of the total workforce. The scholarships are available to women and employers participating in training in more than 170 eligible qualifications.

The focus of the Women's Interests portfolio will continue to be progressed in the new Department of Communities.

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Building strong councils

The launch of the MyCouncil website in 2016 was a significant step towards accountability and transparency in local government. 

building strong councils.jpgCLGF 2016 Bunbury participants

The website enables the public to view and compare their council's financial health, and is based entirely on the data provided by local governments to the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) and the WA Local Government Grants Commission.

This month MyCouncil was updated with statistics from the 2015-16 financial year, and it is anticipated that the website's functionality will be expanded as it becomes part of the new Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries' work. 

A big achievement for DLGC, MyCouncil won a Premier's Award for Excellence in Public Sector Management last year.

Supporting governments to capacity build to govern effectively and sustainably through a range of programs and funding initiatives was an ongoing priority for DLGC.

This included encouraging and enabling adjoining local governments to work together to provide savings to residents and ratepayers.

In 2016, the Shire and Towns of Narrogin successfully merged to form one local government authority, reducing duplication and achieving greater efficiencies. The department provided $1.2 million towards the amalgamation.

Grants were also provided to a number of regional local governments to work together to deliver shared services, including a grant of $50,000 to the Shires of Cunderdin and Tammin. The grant enabled the shires to undertake a feasibility study of the financial and administrative benefits of a shared chief executive officer arrangement. Funding was also provided to the Kimberley Regional Council to deliver shared ICT initiatives across four councils.

Providing assistance to local governments through integrated planning and reporting (IPR) has been another priority area for DLGC. As part of this initiative, officers and councillors across 92 local governments have been up-skilled in asset management.

Almost $3 million was provided through the Royalties for Regions Country Local Government Fund for DLGC's Capacity Building Program for country local governments.

The program comprised five initiatives, assisting country local governments to strengthen capability in community development, supporting young people working in local government, improving governance and enhancing efficiency through service delivery reviews.

Key highlights over the past four years include, scholarships worth $200,000 provided to 40 young people and more than $400,000 to support local government trainees.  WA's communities have benefited from more than $138,000 in community development grants, and almost 100 local government managers and elected members have attended service delivery review workshops.

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Recognising volunteers

The Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) reaffirmed its commitment to volunteers with the launch of the WA Volunteering Strategy in May 2017. 

recognising volunteers.jpgMargaret Lay, recipient of the 50 years Volunteer Service Award

The strategy was developed in consultation with Volunteering WA, state and local government, volunteer resource centres, volunteer-based organisations and most importantly, volunteers.

About 80 per cent of Western Australians aged 15 years and more give their time each year as volunteers. The strategy is a call to action for the whole community to support volunteering and provides direction for volunteers and the volunteering sector for the next four years.

Each year DLGC recognises volunteers with the WA Volunteer Service Awards. More than 1,000 volunteers have now been recognised for contributing more than 25 years, and in some cases more than 50 years of voluntary service to one organisation.

On 7 May 2017, DLGC presented more than 100 volunteers with commemorative badge for their years of service (25 or 50 years) and a personalised certificate of recognition, at a ceremony attended by Seniors and Volunteering Minister Mick Murray.

Since 2013 the State Government has provided more than $1.6 million in funding annually to support the volunteering sector across the State.

This funding has assisted in building and supporting the volunteering sector in Western Australia. 

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Concessions and benefits

The WA Seniors Card program remains the most generous in the country providing 380,000 members across Western Australia with about $1,000 in State Government concessions, rebates and benefits annually.  concessions and benefits.jpg

The years since 2013 have been a period of growth for the WA Seniors Card, with more than 150 new businesses joining the program in 2017 alone. 

Members also have better access to the latest information and discounts, with the My WA Seniors Card online account, launched in 2015 and an enhanced discount directory in late 2017.  Seniors Card members may now search for discounts, enter competitions and view available concessions.

In addition, during the 2015-16 financial year WA Seniors Card members received more than $22.4 million as part of the annual Cost of Living Rebate.  The Centenarian Pin program was introduced in 2016 to recognise those WA Seniors Card members reaching 100 years old.

It is not only seniors who benefit from State Government concessions. DLGC maintains the Concessions WA website, an easy-to-use website for people to search by category, concession card type or group to find details on more than 100 State Government concessions, rebates and subsidy schemes.

Since 2014 the Concessions WA website has had more than 408,000 visits, more than one million page views, with 32 per cent of people returning to the site more than once.

The WA Seniors Card Program and Concessions WA will continue to benefit Western Australians under the umbrella of the new Department of Communities.

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Seniors matter

A longstanding State Government initiative celebrating the contributions of seniors has been Seniors Week, which commences every year with the presentation the WA Seniors Awards.

seniors matter.jpg2015 Juniper Champion for Seniors Brother Olly Pickett

In 2012 the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) commenced a partnership with Council on the Ageing WA (COTA WA) to present the WA Seniors Awards, now in their 31st year.

The awards recognise the outstanding contribution of seniors in the community, with 2015 Juniper Champion for Seniors Brother Olly Pickett, of particular note.  A tireless charity worker, Brother Olly's seven-day-a-week volunteering efforts have enriched lives across the globe.

The Seniors Week Community Grants program has been provided for more than 15 years.  Currently administered by the department's WA Seniors Week partner COTA WA, the grants ensure that seniors across the State are able to join in the week's celebrations.  More than 40 events are held each year.

DLGC's push to create age-friendly communities for all older Western Australians was in evidence from the department's inception in 2013.

The Age-friendly Interagency Group (AFIG) was convened by DLGC for the first time in 2015. The group meets regularly to identify and share information on key issues affecting WA's seniors. The group works to identify potential responses to these issues through a whole of government approach, individual agencies, or cross-sector collaborations and partnerships. The AFIG membership now includes representatives from 16 key State Government agencies, the City of Melville and the Wheatbelt Development Commission.

In 2016, an Age-friendly Western Australia Workshop was held by AFIG in collaboration with DLGC and world leading expert Dr Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing. The workshop highlighted some of the innovative and collaborative practices that are now achieving real outcomes for age-friendly communities. The event received widespread interest after it was blogged on the International Federation on Ageing's website. Following its success another Age-friendly Western Australia Workshop will be held on 20 July 2017, again facilitated by Dr Barratt.

More recently, the short film competition 'Life in Pictures' was a creative partnership between DLGC, Revelation Perth International Film Festival and Screenwest. The competition challenged the perceptions of ageing and generated discussion about the positives aspects of growing older. Winners will be announced in July.

In recognition of DLGC's efforts to become an age-friendly State, on 14 June 2017 the State Government of Western Australia was accepted as an affiliate member of the World Health Organisation's Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities.

Western Australian is the first Australian State or Territory to join this prestigious group and now has a significant role in supporting age-friendly communities worldwide.

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Local government advice

Monitoring governance issues across the local government sector has been a major part of the Department of Local Government and Communities' (DLGC's) work. local government support.jpg

DLGC's local government Advice and Support team has also provided the sector with support, enabling the State's 137 local governments and two Indian Ocean Territories to build capacity to govern.

A key deliverable for the team has been the delivery of Better Practice Reviews (BPR), funded by Royalties for Regions. The BPR program reviews key areas of local government activities and operations and has been designed to acknowledge areas of good practice while also encouraging areas for improvement.

The 2016-17 year saw the team conduct Better Practice Reviews with the Shires of Victoria Plains, Gnowangerup, Pingelly, Boddington, Cranbrook, and Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

A total of 19 non-metropolitan local governments will have participated in the Better Practice Review program by the end of June 2017.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Support Program assists and promotes the mentoring of new CEO appointments to local government. This is a DLGC partnership with the WA branch of Local Government Professionals Australia. Twelve programs have been completed since 2013.

Another DLGC partnership, this time with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, has seen DLGC's Advice and Support team administering implementation of the Local Government Governance Review Project.  The project assists selected local governments with higher level improvements in their governance policies, procedures and processes. Reviews for about 15 country local governments across the State commenced in February 2017.

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Supporting WA's Carers

Carers have been a key focus of the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC), with an ongoing commitment to provide information to carers about their rights under the Carers Recognition Act and the Carers Charter. supporting wa carers.jpg

DLGC developed the WA Carers Strategy in 2016, in consultation with Carers WA, the Carers Advisory Council and other sector related agencies, to highlight the priorities of Western Australia's estimated 320,000 carers.

The first strategy of its kind in WA, it acts as a guide for Government agencies, the community sector and private organisations, providing strategies and actions to ensure carers receive the recognition and support they deserve.

Along with the WA Carers Strategy, DLGC launched the online Carers Services Directory in 2016.  Hosted on DLGC's website, the directory is designed to ensure carers have easy and centralised access to information on services and programs available to support them. There are now more than 280 services, programs and organisations listed in the directory.

Since 2014, DLGC has provided vital support to the Minister for Community Services' Carers Advisory Council, and has contributed annually to Carers Week activities.  DLGC has provided $3,317,668 in funding to Carers WA since 2014, to provide support, information and respite to individual carers.

The needs of carers will continue to be considered as programs are developed into the future by the Department of Communities.

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Celebrating young people

The WA Youth Awards, a prolific week of events dedicated to young people and a multicultural exchange program are just some of the achievements of the Department of Local Government and Communities' (DLGC) Youth Strategy team. celebrating young people.jpg

The WA Youth Awards are a long-established celebration of young people in WA, and their achievements.  Supported by Lotterywest, the popular annual event has been presented in partnership between the Youth Affairs Council of WA and DLGC since 2010.

Notable past winners include 2016's Vanessa Vlajkovic, 19. An inspiring advocate for deafblind people, Vanessa was the first deafblind university student in WA. She is an aspiring journalist, and helped establish Deafblind West Australians, an organisation providing support, social interaction and advocacy for deafblind individuals.

DLGC's Youth Strategy team develops programs and policies that meet the diverse needs of young West Australian's aged 12 to 25 years. Over the past four years, the team have managed a number of initiatives that promote the positive contribution made by young people in the community.

In partnership with Propel Youth Arts, the team have coordinated National Youth Week (NYW) celebrations in WA featuring up to 100 events every year. The week is also supported by a DLGC grants program for community organisations and local governments to apply for funding to host events during NYW.

DLGC also took part in an International Youth Exchange Program in 2016-17 - the first of its kind between WA and Hong Kong.

The program facilitated the exchange of ideas and experiences on an international level among 18-24 year olds. WA delegates had the opportunity to meet and participate in activities with Hong Kong delegates in Perth in October 2016, and travel to Hong Kong in February 2017.

DLGC also funds and administers the Cadets WA program and develops policies and procedures to support it. Since 2013 more than 9758 young people have taken part in about 196 cadet units throughout the State.

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Care for children

Over the past four years the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) has supported Western Australian families to care for and raise their children. support for children.jpg

Parenting and playgroup programs in previous years have provided free education workshops and information to help parents and care givers deal with developmental concerns and reach other services and programs as needed.

The Centre for Parenting Excellence, launched in 2016, now drives the State Government agenda for coordinated parent education and information. 

DLGC also provides more than $9 million in annual funding to the community services sector to deliver parenting education and support.  

Grandparents raising their grandchildren have been receiving financial support since DLGC introduced the Grandcarer Support Scheme in late 2013. Eligible grandparents receive $400 for the first child and $250 for each subsequent child in their care. From July 2017 the scheme will support grandparents raising their grandchildren up to the age of 18 years old.

To date 1,680 grandparents raising 3,258 grandchildren have been provided $1,968,550 in recognition of their role.

DLGC resources for grandparents have been expanded to include the Grandfamilies: Legal matters and resources booklet which was designed to help grandparents understand the legal aspects of their caring role.

Helping WA's diverse communities care for their children will continue to be of great importance for the new Department of Communities.

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This publication was prepared by:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, PERTH WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, PERTH WA 6844

Telephone: (08) 6551 8700          
Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall (Country Only): 1800 620 511

Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au
Web: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au 

This publication was originally distributed as an e-newsletter and is also available on the department's website. All or part of this document may be copied. Due recognition of the source would be appreciated.

For translating and interpreting assistance, please contact Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on telephone: 13 14 50.