2014 Maroondah Logo RGB.jpg

 

 

 

Councillor

(as addressed)

 

 

 

The next Council Meeting will be held in the Council Chamber, Braeside Avenue, Ringwood, on Monday 18 May 2015, commencing at 7:30pm  and your presence is requested.

 

 

Yours faithfully

 

SKozlows.jpg

 

Steve Kozlowski

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

 

 

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Council Chamber
is fitted with a Hearing Aid Induction Loop

 

Switch Hearing Aid to ‘T’ for Reception

 

City Offices

Braeside Avenue, Ringwood, 3134

Postal

PO Box 156, Ringwood 3134

DX 38068, Ringwood

Telephone

1300 88 22 33

 

 

Facsimile

Email

Web

 

Service Centres

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS): 131 450

National Relay Service (NRS): 133 677

(03) 9298 4345

maroondah@maroondah.vic.gov.au

www.maroondah.vic.gov.au

 

Croydon: Civic Square

Ringwood: 1 Civic Place, Ringwood

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ORDER OF BUSINESS

1.       Prayer

2.       Acknowledgment of Country

3.       Apologies  

4.       Declaration of Interests

5.       Confirmation of Minutes of the Ordinary Council Meeting held on Monday 27 April 2015 and the Special Council Meeting held on Monday 11 May 2015.

6.       Public Questions

7.       Officers’ Reports

Director Corporate Services

1.       Attendance Reports                                                                                                  4

2.       Reports of Assembly of Councillors                                                                         6

3.       Councillor Representation Reports                                                                         11

4.       Maroondah City Council Submission to the Essential Services Commission's Local Government - Rates Capping and Variation Framework Consultation Paper April 2015    18

5.       Maroondah advocates for the unfreezing of the Financial Assistance Grants      28

6.       Audit & Risk Advisory Committee Report                                                              30

7.       Financial Report: Nine Months Ending 31 March 2015                                          32

8.       'Dexter's Bush', rear 46-48 Dickasons Road, Heathmont                                      70

Acting Director Planning & Community

1.       Maroondah City Council submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence         74  

8.       Documents for Sealing

1.       Staff Milestones Letters Under Seal                                                                       84  

9.       Motions to Review  

10.     Late Item

11.     Requests / Leave of Absence

 

 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

Attendance Reports

Item 1

 

Purpose

To provide an opportunity for Councillors to report on Council activities undertaken since the last Ordinary Meeting of Council and forthcoming ward activities.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose in this report:

 

Outcome Area:  A well governed and empowered community

 

Our Vision:  Maroondah is an effectively empowered community that is actively engaged in Council decision making through processes that ensure their voice is heard and considered.  Council provides strong and responsive leadership, ensures transparent processes and works with the community to advocate and champion their needs

Key Directions 2014 – 2015:

8.1     Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable

Background

Not Applicable

Issue / discussion

It is intended that the Mayor and Councillors be given the opportunity to present a verbal or written report updating Council on the activities they have undertaken in their role as Councillors and forthcoming ward activities.

Financial / economic issues

Not Applicable

Environmental / amenity issues

Not Applicable

Social / community issues

Not Applicable

Community consultation

Not Applicable

Conclusion

It is appropriate that Councillors formally report to Council upon the activities they have undertaken in their role as Councillors.

 

 

Attachments

Not Applicable

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

THAT COUNCIL RECEIVES AND NOTES THE REPORTS AS PRESENTED BY COUNCILLORS

 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

Reports of Assembly of Councillors

Item 2

 

Purpose

To present the ‘Public Record’ of those Assembly of Councillors briefings which are attended by all Councillors and generally held on Monday evenings at the City Offices Ringwood, usually two weeks prior to the formal Council Meeting, and to note the issues discussed.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose in this report:

 

Outcome Area:  A well governed and empowered community

 

Our Vision:  Maroondah is an effectively empowered community that is actively engaged in Council decision making through processes that ensure their voice is heard and considered.  Council provides strong and responsive leadership, ensures transparent processes and works with the community to advocate and champion their needs

Key Directions 2014 – 2015:

8.1     Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable

Background

An Assembly of Councillors, as defined under the Local Government Act 1989 [s.3], is a planned or scheduled meeting, comprising at least five (5) Councillors and one (1) member of Council staff, that considers matters that are intended or likely to be:

 

·        the subject of a decision of the Council; or

·        subject to the exercise of a delegated function, duty or power of Council

Examples of an Assembly of Councillors may include:

 

·        Councillor Briefings (which are attended by all Councillors and generally held on Monday evenings),

·        On-site inspections,

·        Consultative Meetings with residents, developers, consultants,

·        Panel Hearings conducted under s223 of the Act,

·        Meetings with local organisations, Government Departments, statutory authorities, and local politicians

Issue / discussion

As part of decision making processes at Maroondah, it is essential that Councillors are briefed on a range of issues which come before Council for consideration.  As a means of providing this information, Assembly of Councillors briefings are conducted.

 

Assemblies are also attended by Council Officers, and sometimes other specific advisors, to provide Councillors with a detailed knowledge and understanding of issues under consideration to a level of detail that would inhibit timely decision-making, that would not be possible in an open Council meeting, where decision-making related debate is governed by strict meeting procedures.

 

The intent of this report is to present the ‘Public Record’ of those Assembly of Councillors briefings which are attended by all Councillors and generally held on Monday evenings, and to note the items discussed.  This information is already available to the public upon request in accordance with the Local Government Act [s.80A].

 

This report and attachments formally table the information items previously covered by Councillors.

 

The ‘Public Record’ of the Assembly of Councillors briefings held on 27 April and 4 May 2015 are attached for information.

 

The items contained therein were noted.

Financial / economic issues

Not Applicable

Environmental / amenity issues

Not Applicable

Social / community issues

Not Applicable

Community consultation

Not Applicable

Conclusion

Assembly of Councillors briefings are important forums for advice and discussion, on what are often complex issues facing the municipality, in the lead up to formal decisions being made by Councillors at Council Meetings.  At Assemblies, or outside them, Councillors also have the opportunity of requesting additional information to assist in the decision making process.

 

It is appropriate that the ‘Public Record’ of those Assembly of Councillors briefings which are attended by all Councillors and generally held on Monday evenings at the City Offices Ringwood, usually two weeks prior to the formal Council Meeting, be noted at a formal meeting of Council.

 

 

Attachments

1.

2015 April 27 - Assembly of Councillors - Public Record

2.

2015 May 04 - Assembly of Councillors - Public Record

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

THAT COUNCIL RECEIVES AND NOTES THE PUBLIC RECORD OF THE ASSEMBLY OF COUNCILLORS BRIEFINGS HELD 27 APRIL AND 4 may 2015

 


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - 2015 April 27 - Assembly of Councillors - Public Record

 

Item  2

 

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ASSEMBLY OF COUNCILLORS – PUBLIC RECORD

 

Assembly Details:

 

 

 

 

 

Date: Monday 27 April 2015

Time: 6:00pm

Location: Meeting Room 4, Braeside Avenue, Ringwood

 

 

 

Attendees:

 

 

 

 

 

Councillors

 

 

Cr Tony Dib, JP

Cr Nora Lamont

Cr Les Willmott, JP

Cr Christina Gleeson

Cr Natalie Thomas (entered 7:09pm)

Cr Liam Fitzgerald

 

 

Cr Rob Steane

 

 

 

Council Officers:

 

 

Steve Kozlowski

Chief Executive Officer

Marianne Di Giallonardo

Director Corporate Services

Andrew Fuaux

Acting Director Planning & Community

Trevor Welsh

Director Operations, Infrastructure & Leisure

Grant Meyer

Manager Integrated Planning                                     Item 2

Adam Todorov

Manager Assets                                                         Item 3

David Hair

Team Leader Asset Management                             Item 3

Stephen Onans

Team Leader Governance

Others:

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies:

 

 

Councillors:

Cr Samantha Marks, Cr Mary-Anne Lowe,
Cr Natalie Thomas (arrived 7:09pm)

Council Officers:

Phil Turner, Director, Planning & Community

Conflict of Interest Disclosure:

 

Councillors:

Nil

 

Council Officers:

Nil

 

 

Matters Discussed:

## Confidential Item

 

1

Council Meeting Agenda

2

Alcohol Accord

3

IPS Interfaces Presentation

4

Trust for Nature Update

5

MAV/ALGA - Financial Assistance Grants to Local Govt.

6

Items of a General Nature as Raised by Councillors

 

Record completed by:

Council Officer

Stephen Onans

Title

Team Leader Governance

 


ATTACHMENT No: 2 - 2015 May 04 - Assembly of Councillors - Public Record

 

Item  2

 

2014 Maroondah Logo RGB.jpg

 

ASSEMBLY OF COUNCILLORS – PUBLIC RECORD

 

Assembly Details:

 

 

 

 

 

Date: Monday 4 May 2015

Time:   6:00pm
           

Location: Council Chamber  & Meeting Room 4,

 

           

Braeside Avenue, Ringwood

 

           

 

Attendees:

 

 

 

 

 

Councillors

 

 

Cr Tony Dib, JP

Cr Nora Lamont

Cr Les Willmott, JP

Cr Christina Gleeson(entered 6:27pm)

Cr Samantha Marks

Cr Liam Fitzgerald

Cr Natalie Thomas

Cr Mary-Anne Lowe

Cr Rob Steane

 

 

 

Council Officers:

 

 

Steve Kozlowski

Chief Executive Officer

Marianne Di Giallonardo

Director Corporate Services

Andrew Fuaux

Acting Director Planning & Community

Trevor Welsh

Director Operations, Infrastructure & Leisure

Grant Meyer

Manager Integrated Planning                              Items 3 & 4

Stephen Onans

Team Leader Governance

Others:

 

 

Greg Goldsmith (Item 1)

 

 

 

Apologies:

 

 

Councillors:

Cr Gleeson (arrived late at 6.27pm)

Council Officers:

Phil Turner, Director Planning & Community

 

 

 

Conflict of Interest Disclosure:

 

Councillors:

Nil

 

Council Officers:

Nil

 

 

Matters Discussed:

## Confidential Item

 

1

Streetlight Ministries Deputation (in Council Chamber)

2

Maroondah Carols

3

Draft Submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence

4

Draft Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 3:  2015/16)

5

Draft Budget 2015/2016

6

Community Assistance Fund

7

Items of a General Nature as Raised by Councillors

 

Record completed by:

Council Officer

Stephen Onans

Title

Team Leader Governance

 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

Councillor Representation Reports

Item 3

 

Purpose

To receive and note the following meeting minutes and to provide an opportunity for Council’s representative to provide a further verbal report.

·        Minutes of the National Local Government Drug & Alcohol Advisory Committee (NLGDAAC) held 24-25 September 2014 at the Adelaide City Council Offices.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose in this report:

 

Outcome Area:  A well governed and empowered community

 

Our Vision:  Maroondah is an effectively empowered community that is actively engaged in Council decision making through processes that ensure their voice is heard and considered.  Council provides strong and responsive leadership, ensures transparent processes and works with the community to advocate and champion their needs

Key Directions 2014 – 2015:

8.1     Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable.

Background

As part of Council's commitment to the principles and practice of good governance, it is appropriate that Councillors and the Community are formally updated on the actions and activities of the various organisations bodies/advisory groups upon which it is represented.

Issue / discussion

Council is represented on numerous Boards and Organisations. Appointments are made annually by Council at the commencement of the new Mayoral term in November.

 

Cr Steane is Council’s representatives on the National Local Government Drug & Alcohol Advisory Committee with Cr Gleeson as substitute representative.

Financial / economic issues

Not Applicable

Environmental / amenity issues

Not Applicable

Social / community issues

Not Applicable


Community consultation

Not Applicable

Conclusion

It is appropriate that Councillors and the Community are formally updated on the actions and activities of the various organisations bodies/advisory groups upon which Council is represented.

 

 

Attachments

1.

Minutes - National Local Government Drug & Alcohol Committee, 24-25 September 2015

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

THAT COUNCIL RECEIVES AND NOTES THE MINUTES OF THE NATIONAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT DRUG & ALCOHOL ADVISORY COMMITTEE HELD 24-25 SEPTEMBER 2014

 


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Minutes - National Local Government Drug & Alcohol Committee, 24-25 September 2015

 

Item  3

 


 


 


 


 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

Maroondah City Council Submission to the Essential Services Commission's Local Government - Rates Capping and Variation Framework COnsultation Paper April 2015

Item 4

 

Purpose

To endorse Council’s submission to this consultation paper.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in Maroondah 2040: Our Future Together and the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose of this report.

Outcome Area:  A well governed and empowered community.

Our Vision: Maroondah is an effectively empowered community that is actively engaged in Council decision making through processes that ensure their voice is heard and considered. Council provides strong and responsive leadership, ensures transparent processes and works with the community to advocate and champion their needs.

Key Directions 2014 – 2015:

8.1 Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable.

Background

In January 2015, the Essential Services Commission (the Commission) received terms of reference from the Minister for Finance (in consultation with the Minister for Local Government) to conduct a review and report on a local government rates capping and variation framework.

 

The Commission has been asked to design a framework that meets the Government’s commitment to cap annual Council rate increases as well as to develop a workable process to assess any proposals by Councils for above cap increases (“variation process”). The Commission is required to complete its final report by 31 October 2015.

 

The intended framework will be aligned with the Government’s objectives to contain Council rates growth and develop greater transparency and accountability in rates setting. It is intended that the proposed framework will lead to future rates that are efficient, stable and reflective of community needs and demands, without compromising Councils’ autonomy or financial sustainability.

 

The Commission’s key focus will be to develop a simple and effective rates capping and variation framework that will benefit ratepayers and support Councils in delivering services to their communities.

 

The Commission recognises the design of the framework may have considerable impact on ratepayers and Councils and intend to consult widely with as many interested parties as possible. In accordance with their Charter of Consultation, there will be a number of opportunities for interested parties to provide input and feedback throughout the review. These will be advertised through their website.

Their first consultation milestone is the release of their Consultation Paper. This Paper outlines the review's timelines and process, their approach, and seeks feedback from all interested parties on key matters for the review.

 

The Commission believes that In designing an effective rates capping and variation framework, it is essential that they understand the significance, complexity and diversity of the local government sector:

 

·        Collectively, Victoria’s 79 Councils have responsibility for $73 billion of community infrastructure and assets, have an annual revenue of $7.6 billion and employ 42,500 people across the state.

·        Councils provide 50 to 120 different types of services to a population of around  5.8 million in areas such as social and community services, health, transport and infrastructure, planning and building, environment and emergency services.

·        In 2013-14, Victorian Councils held $1.5 billion in debt. Victorian local Councils held borrowings equivalent to 1.2 per cent of their non-financial assets in 2012-13, compared to an average of 3.4 per cent for the other States and Territories.  Councils do not face any legislative restrictions on their ability to borrow.

·        Each Council is characterised by its unique mix of community demographics, economic profile, local history, environment, services, infrastructure, and revenue raising capacities.

·        Each Council has elected local representatives that govern its decision-making.

While there is commonality across the types of services delivered by local government in Victoria, each municipality is distinct. As such, there is diversity in service delivery across the State reflecting the different composition and priorities of communities. This requires Councils to make choices about prioritisation of their limited resources to balance the demands of a range of stakeholder groups. The types, levels, and quality of services Councils provide vary depending on the geography of the region they serve, the demographic profile of the community, individual Council’s financial circumstances, inherited assets and policy decisions. Councils also employ different service delivery models such as service provision being Council owned and operated, or outsourced.

 

Councils raise and receive funds from a variety of sources. Across Victoria, about 56 per cent of Councils’ revenue was sourced from rates and charges in 2013-14. The second biggest source of revenue is Federal and State Government grants followed by statutory fees, charges and fines, developer contributions and other sources such as bank interest, asset sales, and earnings from rental properties. The revenue mix for each Council varies considerably.

 

In recent years, the local government sector has experienced major cost pressures. In its 2014-15 budget, the Federal Government announced that the indexation of the Local Government Financial Assistance Grants would be paused for three years (2014-15 to 2016-17). Preliminary estimates by the Victorian Grants Commission (VGC) indicate that this will reduce funding by $64 million (from the 2013-14 base) for Councils by the time indexation resumes in 2017-18.

 

In the Commission’s discussions so far, Councils have raised concerns about a number of areas where cost shifting has occurred over the last decade, including in the funding of services such as home and community care, school crossing supervisors, maternal and child health, emergency management and public libraries.

 

At the same time, the community in general has been concerned with the pace at which rates have been increasing over recent years. Based on data drawn from Councils publicly available annual reports, the average rates and charges per assessment have increased by 40 to 60 per cent (cumulative) during the period 2005-06 to 2012-13 (figure 2.1). The Commission is currently in the process of obtaining more accurate and up to date data.

 

FIGURE 2.1

RATES AND CHARGES PER ASSESSMENT

 

 

Note: The figure compares annual changes in Council rates and charges per assessment for each Council group with annual changes in the CPI and MAV’s LGCI. Changes expressed as an index using 2006 as the base year. Data on rates and charges sourced from publicly available Council Annual Reports. As a result, there are a limited number of observations for the earlier years.

Data source: Various Council annual reports, Australian Bureau of Statistics and MAV website.

 

As demonstrated in figure 2.1, this is well above the cumulative rate increase in the Consumer Price index (CPI) and the Municipal Association of Victoria’s (MAV’s) Local Government Cost Index (LGCI) during the same period.  What this graph doesn’t show is the degree of financial restrictions over this period by Federal and State Governments relative to income foregone due to the Statutory Fees imposed, or the ever changing legislative and policy setting frameworks that local government are required to enact, or the changing nature of third party supply into local government under continually changing market conditions, nor the ever changing broader economic conditions facing Victoria.

 

Further, ratepayers have complained about a lack of transparency and accountability by Councils in setting rates, especially in relation to service provision and priorities.

 

In its 2013 report on Local Government Rating Practices in Victoria, the Victorian Auditor-General’ Office (VAGO) also raised concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability of Councils in rate setting.

 

The Commission also notes that as of 1 July 2015, all Councils will commence reporting against the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP’s) Local Government Performance Reporting Framework (LGPRF). The State Government regard this as an important development and will be considering how it might support the rates capping and variation framework, particularly in better defining service outcomes in the future.

 

It is in this broader environment that this review to develop a rates capping and variation framework was initiated by the current Labour Government. In undertaking this review, the Commission will carefully consider the competing pressures put on Councils with the view to developing an effective rates capping and variation framework that has beneficial outcomes for the sector and community.

 

The Commission summarises some of the key issues raised during their preliminary consultations including the issues raised by Councils and ratepayers in media reports. This is not meant to be an exhaustive account of the issues and they expect to continue to receive further feedback from all interested parties following the release of their Consultation Paper.

 

The Commission have outlined their preliminary responses to the issues raised. Their consultation process is designed to further inform their responses to eight issues in particular.

 

1.       Autonomy of Councils should not be compromised by rates capping

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

It is the Commission’s view that Councils, in consultation with their communities, remain best placed to make decisions regarding the mix of services and the infrastructure they provide. They are not seeking to interfere with Councils’ consultations with their communities on decision-making regarding priorities, resource allocation and service delivery. A cap arrangement recognises that communities and their Councils have limited resources and that Councils themselves must be disciplined in how they prioritise their activities and pursue efficiently delivered services.

 

Maroondah supports this response.

 

 

2.       CPI is not the appropriate index of Council costs

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

They will examine the merits of using an alternative index. The LGCIs separately developed for Victoria (by MAV), NSW and South Australia appear to be between 0.5 to 1.0 percentage point higher than the CPI, on average, over the last five years. They will examine whether these or alternative indices are more reflective of the underlying cost drivers in the Victorian local government sector and will assess the relative merits of using an index other than CPI. Should their analysis show that it would be beneficial to do so, they will include refinements to the cap that better meet the Government’s objectives,.

 

They will also examine the merits of:

·        not being confined to a single cap

·        adopting a simpler arrangement during the 2016-17 transition year,

·        adopting multi-year forecasts of the cap to better assist Council planning.

 

Maroondah supports their response that CPI does not accurately reflect Council’s ongoing costs.

 

3.       Quality and level of service will deteriorate and infrastructure will run down if rates and charges are capped at CPI

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

The terms of reference require the Commission, in designing the rates capping and variation framework, to take into account factors that may impact on local governments’ short and longer term financial outlook including any particular services and infrastructure needs. They must also take into account the need for any ongoing monitoring to ensure any deterioration in the level and quality of services and infrastructure is identified and addressed promptly.

 

Maroondah supports their response that monitoring and improving quality and levels of service and infrastructure will be run down if rates are capped at CPI.

 

4.       Rates capping may create perverse incentives

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

The Commission recognise the limitations of simply imposing an external constraint without having regard to the constantly changing circumstances of Councils. They will carefully design a rates capping and variation framework that maximises the incentives for Councils to pursue ongoing efficiency and respond to community needs. At the same time, they expect Councils will examine their own decision-making and management systems to ensure they support the long term interests of their communities and avoid any unintended consequences under the framework.  Reporting on best practice engagement with communities and their satisfaction levels in regard to service delivery will be another important part of the framework.

 

Maroondah supports their view that enhancements can be made in relation to our relationship with our community.

 

5.       There are lessons from NSW’s rate pegging

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

The Commission will heed these observations and will develop a tailored rates capping and variation framework for Victoria. They will design a framework that seeks to minimise the perverse incentives for Councils to run down their critical and productive infrastructure. They are concerned by suggestions that some Councils could choose not to apply for a rate variation in order to avoid scrutiny, even if this results in service deterioration and under-investment in critical infrastructure. They will therefore consider building appropriate safeguards into the Victorian local government rates capping and variation framework. Ultimately, the outcome of rate capping depends on how Councils respond to it.

 

Maroondah supports this response.

 

6.       An additional layer added to the Council budgetary and planning cycle

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

The Commission expect Councils to work closely with them to identify the best way in which the new requirements could be integrated into existing arrangements or how existing arrangements could be modified to support the new rates capping and variation framework.

 

Where benefits outweigh costs, they will recommend changes to the legislation and regulations to accommodate any new timelines for Council and Commission processes. At the same time, they will seek to use existing information systems and planning processes to minimise any new requirements on Councils for information and process.

 

Maroondah supports their response and believes that we are currently operating in good faith to a high level in regard to the current framework.

 

7.       Ratepayers are concerned with historically high rates and wasteful or unnecessary spending by some Councils

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

A well-designed cap and variation process will work as a useful and independent discipline on Councils to prioritise and efficiently deliver services, contain rate increases and demonstrate Councils’ disciplined approach to ratepayers.

 

Maroondah acknowledges this perception may apply to some local government areas and is likely to vary across the State.

 

8.       VAGO delivered a critical assessment of 12 Councils’ rating practices

 

The Commission’s initial response:

 

The Commission will carefully examine these deficiencies and consider how a new rates capping and variation framework may address these issues. In particular, we will issue guidelines and fact sheets to promote greater transparency and consistency for Councils to set and report on rates. Their approach to designing a rates capping and variation framework must align with the Government’s objectives.

 

The terms of reference set out a number of objectives for the framework, including to:

·        Contain the cost of living in Victoria while supporting Council autonomy and ensuring greater accountability and transparency in local government budgeting and service delivery.

·        Promote rates and charges that are efficient, stable and reflective of services that the community needs and demands.

·        Promote rates and charges that are set at a level that ensures the sustainability of the Councils’ financial capacity and Council infrastructure.

 

In applying these objectives, they have developed a set of principles to guide themselves and the sector in the design and implementation of a workable and effective rates capping and variation framework.

 

Principle 1

Local communities differ in their needs, priorities and resources.

 

Principle 2

Local communities and ratepayers are entitled to hold their Councils to the highest standards of accountability and transparency when setting rates.

 

Principle 3

The framework should support the autonomy of Councils to make decisions in the long term interests of their community and ratepayers.

 

Principle 4

Councils will need to satisfy the burden of proof outlined in the framework when seeking a variation above the cap.

 

Principle 5

Rate increases should be considered only after all other viable options have been explored.

Principle 6

The framework should support best practice planning, management systems and information sharing to uphold Council decision making.

 

Principle 7

The framework should be flexible and adaptable.

 

Principle 8

There should be few surprises for ratepayers and Councils in the implementation of the framework

 

Maroondah supports this response and these principles.

 

The Commission’s  next step for the review will be to receive and consider submissions in response to their consultation paper, due on 15 May 2015.

 

They will engage with the peak industry organisations, such as MAV, VLGA, LGPro (and its Chief Executive Officer group, Financial Professionals group and, Corporate Planners group), unions and ratepayers to receive feedback. They will also regularly consult with the sector consultative panel established by the Minister. They will undertake detailed analysis of the key issues, including those emerging from feedback and submissions. They will also consider options and test them with the sector prior to presenting a preferred option in the draft report.

 

Their draft report will set out their preliminary recommendations on a rates capping and variation framework. It will be released in July and be followed with more consultation, including a number of public meetings to be held in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. More details on the release of the draft report and public meetings will be published on their website closer to the planned milestones. By 31 October, they will submit the final report to the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Finance.

 

The Review timelines and milestones are summarised below.

 

REVIEW PROCESS

Activity                                                                                                                             Timing

Publication of notice of review                                                                               February 2015

Initial consultations                                                                                   February – March 2015

Consultation paper release                                                                                            April 2015

First meeting with the sector consultative panel                                                   April/May 2015

Submissions to consultation paper close                                                                  15 May 2015

Consultations                                                                                                     April – June 2015

Second meeting with the sector consultative panel                                                     June 2015

Draft report release                                                                                                        July 2015

Consultations and public meetings                                                                    July-August 2015

Submissions to draft report close                                                                              August 2015

Third meeting with the sector consultative panel                                                      August 2015

Final report to the Ministers                                                                                     October 2015

Final report public release                                                                                    November 2015

Issue / discussion

The full Maroondah Submission will be separately circulated prior to the meeting.

Financial / economic issues

It is imperative that Council continue to maintain its longstanding prudent financial management of Council services to meet the needs and expectations of the Maroondah Community.  It is hoped that the Framework will enhance Council’s role for the Maroondah Community.

Environmental / amenity issues

Resourcing services for the Maroondah Community in line with the Maroondah 2040 consultation and subsequent document to meet ongoing and future environmental and amenity needs and expectations is imperative.  The State Government needs to ensure the Rates Capping and Variation Framework provides the opportunity for this to be delivered.

Social / community issues

Similarly, resourcing services for the Maroondah Community to meet ongoing and future environmental and amenity needs and expectations is imperative.  The State Government needs to ensure the Rates Capping and Variation Framework provides the opportunity for this to be delivered.

Community consultation

Council is already acutely aware of the Maroondah’s Community’s needs and expectations and is ever vigilant in seeking to realise and deliver on these.

Conclusion

Maroondah is of the view that current local government system of setting rates and charges (own source revenue) is not broken per se and with some minor enhancements will see Victorians continue enjoy the lifestyles we have all come to expect as well as have increased awareness and understanding on why and how Council’s determine rates and charges for their respective communities.

 

Maroondah is well placed to continue framing its long term financial strategy relative to the needs of its community in the short, medium and long term as it has always done to ensure financial sustainability and best value services to sustainability and best value services to the community.  This is undertaken on a moment by moment active management basis and includes the more formal annually reviewed and modified Council Planning and Resource Allocation process.  Maroondah has had minimal community disquiet regarding rates and charges when compared to State media headlines.

 

The current State Government required Strategic Resource Plan requirements for the coming four years for physical, human and financial plans, includes the Comprehensive Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Statement of Changes in Equity, Cash Flows, Capital Works.  Maroondah goes further than State Government requirements and has for many years undertaken a ten year Long Term Financial Strategy process updated on an annual basis in consultation with Councillors which ensures ongoing financial sustainability to meet the needs and expectations of the Maroondah community as a whole into the future.

 

Council for the 15/16 Financial Year has reduced its planned annual rate revenue increases from 5.6% per annum to 3.9% and then 4% per annum over the coming ten year period while maintaining service levels, not borrowing further, meeting prudential financial ratios and maintaining asset renewal levels beyond depreciation.  It is clear than any further restriction on rate revenue increases will place upward pressure on user fees, require Council to borrow for any future unfunded defined benefit superannuation shortfall, encourage current assets to deteriorate without adequate maintenance or replacement and force Council to cut services to the community.  Council welcomes the opportunity to provide a Submission to the Essential Services Commission.

 

 

Attachments

Not Applicable

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

That COUNCIL ENDORSE THE SEPARATELY CIRCULATED SUBMISSION TO THE ESSENTIAL SERVICES COMMISSION ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT – RATES CAPPING & VARIATION FRAMEWORK CONSULTATION PAPER APRIL 2015.

 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

Maroondah advocates for the unfreezing of the FInancial Assistance Grants

Item 5

 

Purpose

To advocate for the unfreezing of the Financial Assistance Grants paid to Councils via the Victorian Grants Commission by the Federal Government.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in the Maroondah 2040: Our Future Together and the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose of this report.

Outcome Area: A well governed and empowered community.

 

Vision Statement: In 2040, Maroondah will be an empowered community that is actively engaged in council decision making through processes that consider the needs and aspirations of all ages and population groups. Council will provide strong and responsive leadership, ensuring transparency, while working with the community to advocate for and ‘champion’ local needs.

 

Key Directions 2013-2017:

 

8.1     Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable.

Background

The Federal Government as part of their budget 2014/15 put a freeze on the quantum of funds being passed on to the various States via the  Financial Assistance Grants. This had a significant impact on Maroondah’s Long Term Financial Strategy by reducing funds available over the 10 year length of the strategy by $5.6 million.

 

This potentially will have an even bigger impact with the introduction by the current State Government of a system of capping the level of rate increases year on year. Potentially Councils will lose the ability to increase rates to make up for the significant shortfall imposed by other levels of Government.

Financial / economic issues

Council’s LTFS has been adversely affected by the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants by $5.6m over the 10 year life of the strategy.

Environmental / amenity issues

Not Applicable

Social / community issues

Not Applicable


Community consultation

Not Applicable

Conclusion

That the MAV advocate to the Federal Government to unfreeze the Financial Assistance Grants.

 

 

Attachments

Not Applicable

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

THAT COUNCIL WRITES TO THE MAV AND SEEKS ITS ADVOCACY TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO REINTRODUCE INDEXATION TO FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE GRANTS PROVIDED TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT

 

 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

Audit & Risk Advisory Committee Report

Item 6

 

Purpose

To report to Council on the outcomes of the Audit & Risk Advisory Committee Meeting held on 6 May 2015.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in the Maroondah 2040: Our Future Together and the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose of this report.

Outcome Area: A well governed and empowered community.

 

Vision Statement: In 2040, Maroondah will be an empowered community that is actively engaged in council decision making through processes that consider the needs and aspirations of all ages and population groups. Council will provide strong and responsive leadership, ensuring transparency, while working with the community to advocate for and ‘champion’ local needs.

 

Key Directions 2013-2017:

 

8.1     Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable.

Background

Council’s Audit & Risk Advisory Committee consists of both Council and external representatives. The Mayor Tony Dib and Councillor Les Willmott are Council representatives on the Committee.

 

The external members are Dr John Purcell (chair), Mr Hugh Parkes and Mr Bruce Potgieter.

 

The Audit & Risk Advisory Committee Charter requires that this Committee report to Council on the findings and recommendations from its meetings. This report provides a summary of matters under consideration by the Audit & Risk Advisory Committee of the meeting held on Wednesday 6 May 2015.

Issue / discussion

The Audit & Risk Advisory Committee refers the following items to Council for information.

 

Quarterly Financial Report – 31 March 2015

 

The Quarterly Financial Report for the period ended 31 March 2015 was presented for the consideration and approval of the Audit & Risk Advisory Committee. An overview of the Third Quarter Statements was provided and answers given to a number of queries.

 

The Committee determined to advise Council that, following detailed examination and scrutiny of the Statements by the Committee it endorsed the report. This item was listed separately on the Council Notice Paper May 18 2015.

 

Other Items

 

A number of other Items were confidentially considered by the Audit & Risk Advisory Committee including: Internal Audit reports relative to Follow up of Internal Audit Recommendations, Capital Works Program Delivery, Emergency Management and a verbal report on Performance Management. There was also an update on the Internal Audits 2013-2016 Status Report.

Financial / economic issues

Council’s budget provides for the operation of the Audit & Risk Advisory Committee and for the completion of an Internal Audit Program.

Environmental / amenity issues

Not Applicable

Social / community issues

Not Applicable

Community consultation

Not Applicable

Conclusion

This report provides a summary of the outcomes of the Audit & Risk Advisory Committee meeting held on Wednesday 6 May 2015.

 

 

Attachments

Not Applicable

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

That COUNCIL RECEIVES AND NOTES THE REPORT FROM THE AUDIT & RISK ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 6 MAY 2015

 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

Financial Report: Nine Months Ending 31 March 2015

Item 7

 

Purpose

To present the financial statements for the nine months ending 31 March 2015.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in the Maroondah 2040: Our Future Together and the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose of this report.

Outcome Area: A well governed and empowered community.

 

Vision Statement: In 2040, Maroondah will be an empowered community that is actively engaged in council decision making through processes that consider the needs and aspirations of all ages and population groups. Council will provide strong and responsive leadership, ensuring transparency, while working with the community to advocate for and ‘champion’ local needs.

 

Key Directions 2014-2015:

8.1     Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable.

Background

In accordance with Sections 136, 137 and 138 of the Local Government Act 1989, Council is required each quarter to consider the financial performance of the municipality against budget for the year to date (YTD).

 

This requirement is not a substitute for the more frequent range of detailed financial reports that continue to be provided to Council management.

 

The attached financial statements contain an Income Statement (Operating Statement); Balance Sheet; Cash Flow Statement and a Statement of Capital Works. The Income Statement is presented per accounting standards by nature.

 

The statements have been prepared on the basis of accrual accounting (i.e. including significant accruals) and non-consolidation (i.e. excludes the results of the Eastern Regional Library Corporation and Section 86 Committees of Management).

 

The statements provide comparisons between actual results and the YTD forecast budget.

Issue / discussion

The following is a summary of the financial position for the nine months ending 31 March 2015. A more detailed report is attached.


OPERATING PERFORMANCE

                            

 

Forecast

YTD

YTD

YTD

Adopted

 

Budget

Budget

Actual

 Var

Budget

 

$’000

$’000

$’000

$’000

$’000

Operating

Revenue

108,946

100,488

100,840

352

107,311

Expenditure

(105,714)

(77,912)

(75,309)

2,603

(106,185)

Net surplus (deficit) from ordinary activities

3,232

22,576

25,531

2,955

1,126

Net gain (loss) on disposal of property

(93)

(170)

(11)

159

(93)

Capital

Grants & contributions

10,802

6,545

6,358

(187)

4,960

Net surplus (deficit)

13,941

28,951

31,878

2,927

5,993

 

For the nine months ended 31 March 2015 Council has recorded an operating surplus before capital revenue of $25.5 million, which is $2.95 million ahead of the year to date budget (This equates to a 2.7% variance on total budgeted turnover). The major contributing variances are:  (See also notes to Income Statement on pages 19 to 21 and Appendix B.)

·        User fees showing an unfavourable variance caused by Karralyka income down by $76k (nett positive position $96k).

·        Open Space Contributions (POS) are $394k better than expected.

·        Employees costs are below budget by $556k with Community Services contributing $163k.

·        Contractor payments for waste are under budget $276k mainly in the area of green waste collection $37k, Hard Waste $54k and Domestic Garbage Collection $46k.

The variances relate to timing and non timing differences and the forecast expected at 30 June 2015 is anticipated to be better than the adopted budgeted net surplus from ordinary activities. There is no element of the operating budget that causes concern.

 

The movement between the net surplus Adopted Budget of $5.993m and the Forecast of $13.941m mainly relates to the following (Refer to detailed reconciliation in Appendix A page 18):

·        Carried forward grants net ($824k)

·        New and revised grant funding net  $7k

·        Carried forward capital income $1,397k

·        New capital grant funding $4,444k

·        Additional restricted assets (POS & Waste) $1,593k

·        Ongoing review  of operations

CAPITAL PERFORMANCE

 

 

Adjusted

YTD

YTD

YTD

Adopted

Budget ##

 Budget

Actual #

 Var

Budget

$’000

$’000

$’000

$’000

$’000

Total capital works

55,780

38,492

36,368

2,124

41,211

#YTD Actual expenditure includes Carried Forwards                ##Forecast Budget expenditure includes Carried Forwards

 

The Forecast Budget includes carried forward works from 2013/14 of $8.8m, funding for new projects including:

·        State government funding from the Department of Transport, Planning & Local Infrastructure for the signalisation of Bedford Road and Great Ryrie Street of $1.0 million;

·        Federal government funding from the Attorney-General’s Department for the installation of CCTV cameras in the Ringwood Metropolitan Activity Centre and East Ringwood of $400k;

and future years projects brought into current year including the redevelopment of the Norwood Family & Children’s Centre of $1.2 million and carpark Aquanation $700k.

 

Other funding received in 2014/15 include contributions from Shire of Yarra Ranges for Colchester Road Stage 2 $757k and Croydon Main Street Connects $100k.

 

For the nine months ended 31 March 2015 Council has expended $36.37 million on the capital works program, which is $2.1 million behind the year to date budget. The variance is due mainly to:

·        Building & facilities behind by $1,052k;

·        and Road Asset Enhancement $306k behind.

FINANCIAL POSITION

 

 

2014-15

2013-14

2013-14

 

Adopted

Dec YTD

Dec YTD

 June YTD

 

Budget

Actual

Actual

Actual

 

$’000

$’000

$’000

$’000

Cash and investments

29,297

49,253

42,779

32,332

Net current assets

11,869

47,579

42,911

14,611

Net assets and total equity

1,276,836

1,361,853

1,286,898

1,329,975

 

The Financial Position as 31 March 2015 shows a cash and investment balance of $49.3 million which is $6.5 million higher than 31 March 2014 and the net current asset position is $48 million which is slightly higher than the same period last year. This reflects the successful tender for loan borrowings of $24.2 the proceeds being received during November as part of the funding for the Aquanation project.  The net asset position is $1.362 billion.

 

These figures are in line with the 2014/15 Long Term Financial Strategy predictions.

Financial / economic issues

As presented in this report and accompanying financial statements.

Environmental / amenity issues

Not Applicable

Social / community issues

Not Applicable

Community consultation

Not Applicable

Conclusion

The YTD results are favourable for this time in the financial year and provide a firm base for the achievement of Council’s 2014/2015 services and advocacy programs.

 

 

Attachments

1.

Financial Report nine months ending 31 March 2015

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

THAT COUNCIL RECEIVES AND NOTES THE REPORT ON THE FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE AGAINST BUDGET FOR THE NINE MONTHS ENDING 31 MARCH 2015

 


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Financial Report nine months ending 31 March 2015

 

Item  7

 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Financial Report nine months ending 31 March 2015

 

Item  7

 


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Financial Report nine months ending 31 March 2015

 

Item  7

 


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Financial Report nine months ending 31 March 2015

 

Item  7

 


DIRECTOR Corporate Services Marianne Di Giallonardo

 

'Dexter's Bush', rear 46-48 Dickasons Road, Heathmont

Item 8

 

Purpose

To authorise the transfer to Council from Trust for Nature of the land known as Dexter’s Bush, located at the rear of 46-48 Dickasons Road, Heathmont.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in Maroondah 2040: Our Future Together and the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose of this report.

Outcome Area:  A well governed and empowered community.

Our Vision: Maroondah is an effectively empowered community that is actively engaged in Council decision making through processes that ensure their voice is heard and considered. Council provides strong and responsive leadership, ensures transparent processes and works with the community to advocate and champion their needs.

Key Directions 2014 – 2015:

8.1     Provide enhanced governance that is transparent, accessible, inclusive and accountable.

Background

Trust for Nature (TFN) is a not-for-profit organisation whose goal is to work to protect native plants and wildlife in cooperation with private landowners.

 

The Trust was established under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act 1972 to enable people to contribute permanently to nature conservation by donating land or money.

 

Following subdivision of their property at 46-48 Dickasons Road into two lots, the land comprising the southern lot, now known as Dexter’s Bush, was gifted on 1 October 1988 to the Victorian Conservation Trust (now Trust for Nature) by Mr P and Mrs E Dexter who still own and occupy the northern lot.

 

Dexter’s Bush is described as Lot 2 on LP 212801 in certificate of title Volume 9832 Folio 896 and comprises 9,508 m².  On its southern boundary is a Council reserve that runs down to Dandenong Creek.

 

In late December 2014, TFN wrote and offered to transfer ownership of Dexter’s Bush to Council. The sale price would be $1 and each party would pay its own costs in the matter.

Issue / discussion

According to TFN, Mr and Mrs Dexter are looking to step back from their role in the management of the property.  Programmed maintenance of the land, namely annual weeding, planting and mulching is done by Heathmont Bushcare, a community group among whose objectives is the preservation of remnant bushland in Heathmont.

 

Council’s role would primarily involve annual fire maintenance and regular environmental weed management, the latter undertaken in cooperation with Heathmont Bushcare.

 

TFN believe that placing the land in Council’s ownership would provide an opportunity to broaden the public amenity of the land.

 

While there are presently no restrictive covenants, TFN have advised they would protect the land with a conservation covenant should it be transferred to Council.

 

Because Dexter’s Bush has no road frontage of its own, its only legal access is by means of a triangular shaped carriageway easement of 30 m² located at the south eastern corner of Mr & Mrs Dexter’s property.  The easement abuts Possum Lane with a frontage of 7.62 metres and due to fencing arrangements access at this point is available to pedestrians only.

 

Access by Council vehicles, when necessary, would therefore be through the Council reserve located along the southern boundary.

Financial / economic issues

Council’s current Budget allows for this purchase.

Environmental / amenity issues

The purchase accords with Council policy.

Social / community issues

The purchase accords with Council policy.

Community consultation

There is no statutory requirement for Council to undertake consultation prior to purchasing property.

Conclusion

Council should agree to the transfer of the land from Trust for Nature.

 

 

Attachments

1.

Locality Plan - Dexter's Bush shaded green, Council land outlined red

2.

Aerial Photograph - Dexter's Bush

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

That COUNCIL AGREES TO THE OFFER FROM TRUST FOR NATURE TO TRANSFER TO COUNCIL THE LAND KNOWN AS DEXTER’S BUSH


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Locality Plan - Dexter's Bush shaded green, Council land outlined red

 

Item  8

 

 

 

 

 


ATTACHMENT No: 2 - Aerial Photograph - Dexter's Bush

 

Item  8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ACTING DIRECTOR Planning & Community ANDREW FUAUX

 

Maroondah City Council submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence

Item 1

 

Purpose

To seek Council’s endorsement of the attached submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Strategic / policy issues

The following directions contained in Maroondah 2040: Our Future Together and the Council Plan 2013-2017 (Year 2: 2014-2015) provide the strategic framework that underpins the purpose of this report.

Outcome Area:  A Safe, Healthy and Active Community

Our Vision:  In 2040, Maroondah will be a safe, healthy and active community with local opportunities provided for people of all ages and abilities to have high levels of social, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Key Directions 2014 – 2015:

Promote and facilitate safer cultures relating to issues of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling, child abuse and family violence.

Encourage and support the implementation of initiatives and programs aimed at improving the actual and perceived safety of the community.

Background

The Victorian Government has established the first ever Family Violence Royal Commission, with Honourable Justice Marcia Neave AO appointed as Commissioner and Chairperson, and Patricia Faulkner AO and Tony Nicholson appointed as Deputy Commissioners.  The Commission is due to provide its report and recommendations to the government by 29 February 2016.

 

The terms of reference provide scope for local government’s intersection across the spectrum of prevention, early intervention and responding to family violence to be considered. 

 

Council’s submission, as attached, is largely based on the learnings and successes of the Preventing Violence against Women in Our Community (PVAWC) initiative, a three and a half year project (September 2011 to December 2014) funded by the Victorian State Government.  Council partnered with Yarra Ranges and Knox Councils with many positive actions pursued.

Issue / discussion

Council acknowledges that the Royal Commission’s work is hugely important, particularly as more attention needs to be brought to the issue of family violence.  For too long, family violence has impacted detrimentally on the lives of many Victorians and further progress is needed to reduce the incidences of family violence.

 

Local Government, with its local community grounding, is well placed to provide a leadership role to influence community attitudes and actions.  It is a key player in helping to prevent family violence before it occurs.  Due to the broad range of services provided by Councils, there are many opportunities to make a positive impact.  Council’s submission spells out a range of actions it has pursued to assist in reducing the negative impacts of family violence.

Financial / economic issues

Not Applicable

Environmental / amenity issues

Not Applicable

Social / community issues

Not Applicable

Community consultation

Not Applicable

Conclusion

Council takes the matter of family violence as one of the utmost importance.  Given that Maroondah is an area characterised by unacceptably high incidences of family violence, it was incumbent on our organisation to take a stand.  Council will continue to promote gender equity, educate our community and represent the interests of those impacted by family violence.

 

Attachments

1.

Submission to the Royal Commission to Family Violence

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

that Council endorses the submission to the royal commission into family violence as attached to this report

 


ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Submission to the Royal Commission to Family Violence

 

Item  1

 

 

 

 

20 May 2015

 

 

 

Royal Commission into Family Violence

PO Box 535

Flinders Lane

Victoria   8009

 

 

Dear Sir / Madam

 

 

Re:   Maroondah City Council Submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence

 

 

Maroondah City Council welcomes the opportunity to make this submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.  The purpose of this submission is to outline Council’s response to the problems of family violence impacting on our municipality/region.  This has taken the form of some local solutions which are helping to change attitudes and behaviours.

 

Council acknowledges that the Royal Commission’s work is hugely important, particularly as more attention needs to be brought to the issue of family violence.  For too long family violence has impacted detrimentally on the lives of many Victorians and further progress is needed to reduce the incidences of family violence.

 

Local Government, with its local community grounding, is well placed to provide a leadership role to influence community attitudes and actions.  It is a key player in helping to prevent family violence before it occurs.  Due to the broad range of services provided by Councils, there are many opportunities to make a positive impact.

 

By way of background, the outer east of Melbourne, which includes the municipalities of Maroondah, Knox and Yarra Ranges, experiences higher levels of family violence than the east of Melbourne generally.

 

This was a prompt for the Preventing Violence Against Women in our Community (PVAWC) initiative, a three and a half year project (September 2011 to December 2014) funded by the Victorian State Government. 

 

Maroondah Council believes that many of the activities and learnings from this initiative will be of interest to the Royal Commission.  This is in part due to the transferability of some activities into other organisational settings (eg businesses, community organisations, educational institutions).

 

The PVAWC project was a partnership between Maroondah, Knox and Yarra Ranges Councils and was a primary prevention project that worked to prevent violence against women before it occurs.  Accordingly project initiatives were not targeted at women experiencing violence or men who perpetrate violence. Instead, the focus of the project was to contribute to building communities, organisations, and cultures where violence against women does not occur due to women and men being equally valued, respected, heard and included.

The key approach to delivering the PVAWC project was to work internally within the three Councils to build their capacity to consider gender across policy, programs, infrastructure and services. The premise of this approach was that any changes to core Council business would in turn lead to impact in the community due to the influence local government can have over the social, economic, built and natural environments.

 

The key strategies employed to engage the three Councils in promoting gender equity to prevent violence against women included:

 

·    Working with key teams

·    Building leadership support

·    Promoting the project and the need to address violence against women

·    Supporting those showing an interest in and commitment to the issue

·    Influencing Council plans and policy

·    Stimulating interest in and normalising conversations around gender equality

·    Education and awareness raising around the causes of violence against women.

 

Through this project a number of successes were achieved as outlined in Appendix A

 

The key challenges associated with the PVAWC project related to maintaining a focus on the primary prevention of violence against women and the need to promote gender equity.  This was within a context of continuing to include preventing violence against women as a priority within Council when there are other competing demands and issues that also require attention and resources. 

 

Council is now on the journey of embedding changes in practice into core Council business so that actions aimed at preventing violence against women are thoroughly integrated and sustained.

 

The key learnings from the project for Council are as follows:

 

·    It is important to normalise conversations around gender equity within Council so that employees feel comfortable and supported to explore the issue more.

·    Significant time needs to be invested into building trust, nurturing relationships, capitalising on opportunities and developing employees knowledge and support

·    When raising the profile of preventing violence against women as an issue, it is critical to be prepared to respond to disclosures of violence and sexism from employees and community members.

·    There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to preventing violence against women in local government. Any approach needs to be tailored to the specific Council and take into account their leadership structure, culture, strategic emphasises and planning processes.

·    There is much value in collaborating with surrounding Councils using a regional approach to tackle issues of family violence.  The project was an impetus for increased collaboration, information sharing and relationship building.

 

Of note, in late 2014 the Australian Government’s, Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), commenced an evaluation of the PVAWC project so as to assess its operation and effectiveness.  Clearly the findings of this evaluation will be of benefit to policy makers.

 


 

On a related but separate note to the PVAWC project, funding was received in 2014 from State Government for the “Preventing and Responding to Family Violence within the Maternal Child and Health Context project”.  This is a partnership project led by the Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC), Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS), Yarra Ranges Council and Maroondah City Council.

 

The project aims to prevent and respond to family violence within the maternal and child health context by improving the responses of maternal and child health, legal and support services in a coordinated and integrated manner, with a focus on mothers engaging with Maternal Child and Health services.  The grant will run over a three year period.  A lawyer has been appointed to work within select Maternal and Child Health Centres on a rotational basis across the Cities of Maroondah and Yarra Ranges.  Following 12 months of project planning, nurses have completed training and the program is set to commence in May 2015

 

Elder abuse is an issue that is linked to some family violence incidences.  Melbourne’s eastern region has the second highest number of elder abuse cases referred to Seniors Rights Victoria (ie approximately 80 per year and increasing).  This is a clear concern to Council and hence significant activities have been pursued in response. 

 

For example, Council participates in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), an internationally recognised day that aims to shine a light on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of older people.   

 

In 2015, in order to raise awareness of Elder Abuse, Council, through our Aged and Disability Services team, will be coordinating the following activities:

 

·    Distributing 1,000 purple WEAAD ribbons to raise awareness throughout the community.  Ribbons have been provided to local residents, community groups and numerous support services including Victoria Police, the Migrant information Centre, Eastern Health, Wesley, EACH Social and Community Health and Calvary Community Care.  Proceeds are directed to the Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) who assist people affected by abuse.

·    Hosting morning teas with all clients at Council’s Social Inclusion and Wellbeing Centre (Kerrabee) for the week to discuss Elder Abuse and how to seek help

·    Partnering with local GP clinics who will display and promote WEAAD posters and brochures in their waiting rooms.  For our most isolated and often most vulnerable residents their only contact outside of their family is their GP.

·    Articles in the Healthy Ageing Network's Chatterbox newsletter, the Maroondah Police Seniors Register newsletter, HACC communications delivered to volunteers and consumers.

·    Presentation at Volunteers team meetings

·    Internal Council promotion of the day

 

Of relevance, the ECLC ‘Elder Abuse in the Community: Raising Awareness and Response project’ (Federal Government funded) is helping to build on existing networks in Melbourne’s eastern region to raise awareness of elder abuse in the community and improve agency responses with a focus on utilising the expertise and knowledge of health and community agencies.

 

Councils Aged and Disability Services Team is part of the Eastern Elder Abuse Network (EEAN).  This is a network of professionals working with older people across the eastern metropolitan region, convened by ECLC’s Elder Abuse Prevention Co-ordinator.  Membership is free, and meetings are held bi-monthly.  There are currently almost 100 members from a wide range of agencies, local governments, Victoria Police, law firms and hospitals. 

 

The Elder Abuse Case Conferencing Site (EACCS) is a facility available to members of EEAN. It allows de-identified cases to be immediately circulated amongst members for advice, referral, support or information in cases where elder abuse is known or suspected. EEAN members are provided with a confidential log-in and password and the site can then be accessed whenever necessary.

 

An Elder Abuse Toolkit is available for anyone who is working with older at-risk people. Council also has Elder Abuse Prevention Guidelines for staff in Aged and Disability Services for identification and guidance of response in terms of Elder Abuse.  In addition, Council also coordinates the Maroondah Police Seniors Register which supports many seniors who are at risk, vulnerable and susceptible to family violence.

 

Council is active in the children’s sphere as family violence sadly also impacts on the whole family, including children.  Council knows from research into trauma that even young babies will pick up on an atmosphere of conflict and violence.  Supporting families is hence so important.  Council’s Children’s Services team support programs such as ‘Baby Makes Three’.  This is a primary prevention program that seeks to prevent violence before it occurs, by promoting equal and respectful relationships between men and women during the transition to parenthood.  First time parents are a key target group for primary prevention activity. The transition to parenthood represents a ‘window period’ during which it is possible to engage and work with both men and women when traditional notions of parenthood are exerting a powerful influence on how they approach and negotiate their parenting roles.

 

Council has had a big focus on supporting playgroups for parents to provide learning and help.  Recent consultation for Council’s Children’s Plan identified that many younger parents are seeking connection with other families and children.  This represents a desire to be part of a community as often young mothers, in particular, can experience isolation.  Without these supports in place, incidences of family violence would likely be higher.

 

Council’s Children’s Services Team also has a big focus on education with respect to gender equality.  This helps children’s health practitioners to help identify and understand any biases they may have, and how these may be passed onto children.  In this regard, training was successfully provided in 2014 to all Maroondah educators.

 

Although not a direct Council program, and not run in Maroondah, Council supports the work of a Federally funded program for early childhood entitled: ’KidsMatter Early Childhood’.  This is a national mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention initiative specifically developed for early childhood education care services.  It recognises that parents, carers, families, early childhood educators and health professionals have significant influence on the lives of Australian children during an important developmental period.

 

Maroondah City Council is a strong supporter of the invaluable work of Women’s Health East (WHE).  WHE is a regional women’s health promotion agency working across the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. It works with stakeholders to build the capacity of services and programs in the region to ensure they optimally address issues affecting women.  In 2013, Maroondah was one of seven Councils, eight community health services and women’s services across the eastern region that united to work together for 4 years under the banner of ‘Together for Equality and Respect: A Strategy to Prevent Violence against Women in Melbourne’s East 20132017’.  This was supported at a launch by the Mayors and Councillors from participating councils.

 

Through Council’s Maroondah Disability Advisory Committee, issues relating to people with a disability experiencing disproportionately higher incidences of family violence are canvassed.  In response, Council supports a range of community service organisations that provide support for this target group.

 

In summary grant funding from State Government provides an important impetus for Council and partners to undertake more activity within the family violence preventative space.  Accordingly there is value in the provision of additional financial support from State / Federal Government to assist with further efforts in the primary prevention sector.  Local Government is well placed to ensure activities can be developed across the community to continue and expand the work of preventing family violence.

 

We leave the Commission with the following quote from Maroondah Mayor, Cr Tony Dib:

 

“As the Mayor of the City of Maroondah, I represent a Council that takes the matter of family violence as one of the utmost importance.  Given that we are an area characterised by unacceptably high incidences of family violence, it was incumbent on our organisation to take a stand on the issue.  In response we have taken many opportunities to publicly raise the profile of the impacts of family violence.  Our support for White Ribbon and the ‘Maroondah Pledge’ (securing signatures from many local people) are examples in this regard.  Together with my fellow Councillors, we will continue to promote gender equity, educate our community and represent the interests of those impacted by family violence.”

 

In summary, Council again expresses its gratitude to the Royal Commission for the opportunity to make this submission and makes the following recommendations:

 

1.    That the Commission consider the findings and recommendations made by the Australian Institute of Criminology in the evaluation of the Preventing Violence Against Women in our Community program.

2.    That funding is provided to resource State and regional partnerships and actions plans - such as the Municipal Association of Victoria Preventing Violence Against Women Network and the Women's Health East Together for Equality and Respect Strategy.

3.    That the Commission strengthens ongoing financial investment in primary prevention programs, particularly those coordinated through local government, that redress the determinants of violence.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Steve Kozlowski

Chief Executive Officer

 


 

Appendix A - Preventing Violence against Women in Our Community (PVAWC) initiative – Maroondah Project Successes

 

 

Leadership Commitment

·    The Mayor and Councillors have provided their strong public support and backing for PVAWC initiatives.  This has taken the form of speaking at events (eg White Ribbon), media statements, incorporation into key Council policies and general community awareness raising.

·    Council’s senior management and key staff were fundamental in driving and supporting project activity and awareness of preventing violence against women in Maroondah.

·    Delivery of an Outer East Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) Senior Leadership Preventing Violence against Women Engagement session that was well attended by Maroondah senior management.

 

Public Stance

·     Formal commitment to support an eastern region approach to preventing violence against women by making a public commitment to the Women’s Health East (WHE) Together for Equality and Respect Strategy (Women’s Health East is a regional women’s health promotion agency working across the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. It works with stakeholders to build the capacity of services and programs in the region to ensure they optimally address issues affecting women).

·     Launch of the Maroondah Pledge to: raise awareness in the community of violence against women, gain community support to take action and publically signal Council’s commitment to addressing the issue. The Pledge received over 1000 signatures from community supporters.

 

Professional Development

·     Delivery of ‘Gender Matters’ training provided to Council Human Resources and Children’s Services employees in partnership with WHE.

·     Outer East Identifying Family Violence training provided to Council’s Local Laws team.  This assisted Local Laws staff to be help identify the signs of family violence and directing people to support where necessary.

·     Delivery of an Outer East Preventing Violence against Women in Leisure Services training session for staff employed in Council’s Leisure Services and Major Leisure facilities (eg recreation centres, golf courses).

 

Team Action

·     A cross section of Council Teams were engaged in the project (eg Community Planning and Development, Youth Services, Leisure Services, Maroondah Leisure, Children’s Services, Aged and Disability Services Operations and Infrastructure, Local Laws and Communications and Marketing).

·     Council’s Leisure Services and Major Leisure Teams participated in a site visit to Moreland City Council Sport and Recreation Facilities to investigate examples of infrastructure that has been retrofitted to better accommodate the needs of women and girls.


 

·     Leadership of the ‘A Gender Lens for Leisure’ project that produced a suite of recommendations on how Council’s Leisure Services and Major Leisure Teams could work to promote greater participation, inclusion and respect of women and girls in sport and recreation activities.

·     Council’s Local Laws Officers and School Crossing Supervisors wore the White Ribbons during November (coinciding with White Ribbon Day acknowledgement)

·     Promotion of the Maroondah Pledge by the Business and Development team at an event hosted by Jane Caro.

·     Formation of a Council Leisure Services Team Gender Equity Working Group to promote inclusion and respect of women and girls in recreation.

·     Council’s Children’s Services Team contributed to the project by inviting Scott Holmes, Y Respect Gender Project, to speak about Preventing Violence Against Women at their team meeting.

 

Awareness Raising

·    Establishment of a Council White Ribbon Working Group with broad representation from across Council.  Chaired by the CEO (also took on the role of White Ribbon Ambassador), activities led by the group included:

Commitment banner for employees to sign at the three Council sites

Coordination of a White Ribbon event for employees from all sites at Ringwood Golf (Council owned and managed facility) followed by a march to giant White Ribbon on high profile location alongside the Eastlink motorway.

Production of a White Ribbon Video

·    The PVAW Program Manager at VicHealth, delivered a presentation as the key note speaker at the Maroondah International Women’s Day breakfast in March 2012 that was attended by 200 people.

·    Establishment of the Maroondah White Ribbon Cup as Maroondah’s annual premium golfing event.

·    Giant White Ribbon banner erected on the Eastlink/Ringwood Golf site with high public profile and tweeted by Triple M Radio.

·    White Ribbons made available to community members at the 11 Council sites.

·    Participation in a 2013 Victoria Police-led event in Eastland that featured then Chief Commissioner Ken Lay and a ‘flash-mob’ which included Maroondah Council employees.

·    Screenings of the film Girl Rising to approximately 30 Council employees and 150 community members.

·    Development of a “Run Maroondah” fun-run event aimed at raising awareness of violence against women

·    Acknowledgement of International Women’s Day through a project that shared facts about gender equity.

·    In 2013, an exhibition at the Maroondah Art Gallery brought together a range of works that considered gender based violence.  Launched by then Maroondah Mayor, Cr Nora Lamont, the exhibition, ‘Dark Nights’, involved an installation of works contemplating the on-going impact of childhood abuse, the losses, the grief as well as the frailties that result in unsound homes and parenting.

 

Integration into Policy and Plans

·     Inclusion of preventing Violence against women as a key direction within the Maroondah Community Wellbeing Plan 2013-2017.

·     Inclusion of an updated Family Violence Clause in the EBA that: provides extended leave entitlements for employees experiencing family violence, expands the definition of ‘family member’ and provides scope for employees to report through trained contact officers within Council.

  


DOCUMENTS FOR SEALING

 

 

Staff Milestones

ITEM 1

 

Letters under seal

Background

Council recognises employees each year who have achieved service milestones. Combined service with either the former Cities of Ringwood or Croydon and Maroondah City Council is recognised.

 

During the year, from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, 3 employees will have achieved 30 years of service, 11 will have achieved 20 years and 32 will have achieved 10 years. The names of employees to be presented with Letters Under Seal are listed in the recommendation to this report.

 

The Chief Executive Officer and the Mayor will host a reception on Thursday 25 June 2015, at Karralyka at which the Letters Under Seal and gifts will be presented.

 

It is necessary for Council to formally resolve to execute the Letters Under Seal.

 

 

Attachments

Not Applicable

CONFIDENTIALITY

Not Applicable

 

RECOMMENDATION

That council signs and seals LETTERS IN RECOGNITION OF:

1.    THIRTY YEARS OF SERVICE GIVEN BY:

maureen Houston      Elaine matthews            crAIg pratt

2.    twenty YEARS OF SERVICE GIVEN BY:

Brenda biggs                Timothy cocks                alison day

julie euinton                 ian fossey                         vivienne fraser

Denise parks                 mary parks                       archana saraswat

melina van der weerd-arceo                               vita yeung

3.    ten YEARS OF SERVICE GIVEN BY:

michael arhontis        lois britton                     fiona burridge

robyn caton                 shane cook                      sheryl cook

roberta coucher       sunita dale                       clare d’arcy-evans

lisa davis                         jason frankish               anita graham    

angela harris               penelope hickleton     ian holder

kim ladiges                     ronald loncar               jennifer lowrie

cheryl marshall         kathleen merry             stephen neil

sharyn paspa                robert sampson            adrian smith

lisa sparkes                  mary staiff                       debra styles

pamela sumner            sharryn toull                roxanne white

marianne di giallonardo                                       rebecca pietrzykowski