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Connect December 2015

Last updated: 25/02/2016 4:53 PM
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From the Director General

Director General Jenniffer Mathews Director General, Jennifer Mathews

In this last edition of connect for 2015, we reflect on the initiatives supported by the Department of Local Government and Communities to build stronger communities and provide better services for people around the State.

A major focus during the past 12 months has been promoting opportunities for women to pursue leadership, entrepreneurship and greater financial independence. The importance of this work has been highlighted today in the release of the 2015 Women's Report Card – a report on the status and progress of women in Western Australia.

It is the first time the comprehensive collection of data relating to the status of women has been issued in three years. Although comparative data in the report card shows progress is slow in many areas, the report card and the research it is based on provide an evidence base for the development of government policies and programs.

In November, the last of three Women's Consultative Forums examined the support needed for older women seeking to re-enter the workforce. Support for women seeking a long-term career in local government was the subject of a recent Local Government Managers Australia (WA) conference.

DLGC is now responsible for providing financial counselling and support services to people facing financial difficulties. As part of a three-year, $2 million State funding agreement, eight community sector organisations and two local governments have been contracted to provide face-to-face and telephone counselling to individuals and families.

A common theme of DLGC's work and partnership arrangements is building more resilient communities, and this was the topic of a recent Local Government Inter-Jurisdictional Forum in Perth. Delegates from around Australia shared experiences of working with local governments to address changing community needs.

The October local government elections attracted record numbers of candidates for council and it was pleasing to see so many new councillors elected. As part of DLGC's commitment to providing training and support for elected members, we hosted a workshop for new mayors and presidents and it was well attended and warmly received.

Best wishes for a safe and joyous festive season. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders in 2016.

Jennifer Mathews

Director General
Department of Local Government and Communities

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Measuring the progress of WA women

A comprehensive report on the status and progress of women in Western Australia has been released by the Department of Local Government and Communities.

The 2015 Women's Report Card contains a collection of data and research about women in four areas:

  • Leadership
  • Economic independence
  • Safety and justice
  • Health and wellbeing

It is the fifth in a series of indicator reports that aim to raise awareness of the status of women and encourage action to address the barriers to women's progress.

The 2015 report contains almost 90 indicators and more than 500 statistics. It shows that, while improvements have been made in areas such as female labour force participation, barriers to women's progress persist.

For example: the proportion of women in the WA public sector's Senior Executive Service has increased markedly; representation of women in leadership roles in local government has also increased; and women's labour force participation rates have risen.

However, the proportion of female enrolments in vocational education courses in engineering and related technology fields is low; the number of reported incidents of family and domestic violence against a female has increased; and the gender pay gap in WA is still higher than the national average.

The data presented in the report will help to set priorities and measure progress. The information will allow local governments, the community sector and other organisations to develop initiatives that support women and advance gender equity.

DLGC works with partners from across government, the private and community sectors and academia to deliver programs and activities promoting the economic independence and leadership of women.

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Preston is a winner

WA Young Person of the Year, Preston Colbung standing near a mural.WA Young Person of the Year, Preston Colbung.

A 22 year-old Aboriginal man has been named 2015 WA Young Person of
the Year.

Preston Colbung, a Curtin University student from Mount Nasura, also won the Community Leadership Award at the WA Youth Awards held at Crown Perth on
27 November.

He was acknowledged for overcoming a disadvantaged childhood to become a mentor and human rights advocate.

Preston is a youth case worker who works with young recidivist offenders in Armadale. He is Western Australia's Aboriginal representative for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and has worked with Amnesty International Australia.

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

Other WA Youth Awards winners were:

  • Cultural Endeavours Award: Zal Kanga-Parabia, 20, Winthrop. Zal volunteers his time as an artist to support local projects and other young artists. 
  • Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award: Emily Hardbottle, 16, Attadale. Emily is a young carer and founder of a basketball program for young people with physical disability. 
  • Active Participation Award: Jay McLean, 19, Caversham. A Year 12 student at Kiara College, Jay is a young Aboriginal leader dedicated to reconciliation.
  • Minister for Youth's Outstanding Youth Worker Award: Lorraine Drew, 29, Middle Swan. Lorraine is a youth worker at Rise Network with Outreach Support Services.
  • Organisational Achievement Award: Dismantle Inc., West Leederville. Dismantle delivers bike-based programs for at-risk young people.

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Resilient communities

Government officers from across Australia converged on the Department of Local Government and Communities recently to explore planning for resilient communities. 

The Perth Local Government Inter-Jurisdictional Forum was co-hosted by DLGC and the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) in October.

The two-day forum provided an opportunity for about 20 senior public servants and ACELG representatives to discuss issues impacting local governments – in particular their capability and capacity requirements to plan for resilient communities.

DLGC director general Jennifer Mathews opened the event and guest speakers included representatives from the Department of Regional Development, Department of Planning, NSW Office of Local Government and Local Government Victoria.

Attendees also heard from Jude Munro, of Jude Munro and Associates, one of Australia's leading experts on local government. A panel discussion was hosted by treasury representatives from WA, NSW and Victoria.

The range of topics covered included emergency planning, community engagement, infrastructure and accountability and transparency. The forums enabled attendees to share stories, learnings and best practice examples with their interstate counterparts.  

Forums were held this year in Brisbane and Perth and another two are proposed for 2017 in Hobart and Darwin.

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Catalyst for young voices

A summit in February will bring together young people from multicultural backgrounds to discuss social issues and solutions.

West Australians aged between 18 and 25 years from refugee or migrant backgrounds are encouraged to apply to attend and present at the 2016 Catalyst Youth Summit.

Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Interests, the free summit will provide opportunities to explore important issues and work together to create solutions.

Young people will have the chance to speak directly to decision makers and will receive training on leadership and advocacy.

Applications are encouraged from young people who:

  • have an interest in current social issues affecting multicultural young people
  • are passionate about new ideas and creating positive change, and
  • are active or want to become active community leaders.

There are 25 places available for people living in the Perth area and 25 places for those from regional WA (including the Peel region).

The summit will be held from 3 to 5 February at Edith Cowan University's Joondalup campus. More information and the online application form are available at YACWA.

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Seniors Card gets smart

West Australian seniors can now apply for a WA Seniors Card online using smart phones, computers and tablet devices.

The My WA Seniors Card website has simplified the application process for the thousands of people joining the WA Seniors Card program every year.

Seniors will be able to apply for a WA Seniors Card using a computer, smart phone or tablet device. They will also be able to check their Cost of Living Rebate payments, change their bank and personal details, and access information about discounts offered by more than 500 participating businesses.

More than 90 per cent of eligible West Australians aged 61 and over have a WA Seniors Card.

More businesses will soon be able to promote to WA Seniors Card members by listing on the My WA Seniors Card website and making offers available to members.

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Ready to learn

A new parenting centre in Maddington will help to ensure local children are school ready.

The Child and Parent Centre at East Maddington Primary School was opened by Community Services Minister Tony Simpson on 1 December.

The centre is part of a wider initiative that will see 21 Child and Parent Centres open by 2016 at a total cost of $52.5 million. The centres aim to ensure more children start formal schooling ready to learn.

The Department of Local Government and Communities is working with the departments of Education; Health; and the Department for Child Protection and Family Support, together with the community services sector, to deliver services at the centres.

They will be established at local primary schools and will deliver services and programs for parents with children up to eight years old, including parent workshops and child and mental health services.

Facilities at the centres will include a fully-equipped child health clinic room, consultants' rooms, a group activity room, kitchen facilities and an outdoor play area.

The Child and Parent Centre in East Maddington is run by Centrecare in partnership with East Maddington Primary School.

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Day break for new mayors

East Fremantle deputy mayor Michael McPhail, Local Government Minister Tony Simpson, Dandaragan president Leslee Holmes, DLGC director general Jennifer Mathews.(L-R): East Fremantle deputy mayor Michael McPhail, Local Government Minister Tony Simpson, Dandaragan president Leslee Holmes, DLGC director general Jennifer Mathews.

Newly elected mayors and presidents attended a support workshop hosted by the Department of Local Government and Communities this month.

More than 70 elected members participated in the Mayors and Presidents Day 2015 on 7 December.

Minister for Local Government Tony Simpson addressed the workshop, as well as City of Kwinana chief executive officer Joanne Abbiss and DLGC's Local Government Regulation and Support director Jenni Law.

Participants also heard from a number of experienced mayors and presidents and State Records Office of WA's State Information Management acting director Martin Fordham.

Presentations included skills for handling public question time; chairing meetings; dealing with standing orders; liaising with the CEO; and speaking to the media.

The workshop is part of DLGC's commitment to provide support and development opportunities for the local government sector.

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New financial model

Financial counselling services in metropolitan Perth are now operating under a new community partnership model, establishing a range of support for people experiencing financial hardship.

In September, the State Government approved the transfer of financial counselling to the Department of Local Government and Communities from the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.

DLGC now partners with the community service sector to provide financial counselling services, enabling individuals and families to become more financially capable and improve their ability to manage their financial situation. Services include direct support and community education, and are provided on a State-wide basis.

Following a State Government tender process that concluded in October, a community sector partnership will be led by Anglicare WA and UnitingCare West.

The 10 organisations included in the partnership include UnitingCare West, Midlas, Blue Sky Community Group, The Spiers Centre, City of Wanneroo, Anglicare WA, Gosnells Community Legal Centre, Southcare, Mission Australia and the City of Cockburn.

The new service model will ensure flexibility and coverage of financial counselling across the Perth metropolitan area. Small, medium and large not-for-profit organisations will work together under a common set of principles to provide face-to-face and telephone services to individuals and families.

The State Government has allocated $2 million per year for contracted financial counselling services in the metropolitan area through to 30 June 2018.

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Beyond glass ceilings

Women seated at the LGMA Women’s Forum.Attendees at the LGMA Women’s Forum. Image courtesy of LGMA WA.

A forum was held last month for women in local government wanting to build a long-term career in the sector.

The Department of Local Government and Communities was a major partner in the Local Government Managers Australia  (WA) Women's Forum held at the Rendezvous Hotel in Scarborough on 26 and 27 November.

The forum, Sticky Floors and Glass Ceilings, provided career development strategies for women pursuing a local government career in top management levels.

Delegates heard from inspirational women such as opening keynote presenter
Marion Fulker, recognised as one of the leading experts on the future growth and development of the Perth region, and closing keynote presenter Michelle Cowan, the first woman in Australian rules football to become a State league assistant coach.

Program topics included a personal journey panel session, mentoring and building resilience. A 'speed mentoring' session was a chance to meet potential mentors, while networking areas put participants in touch with local government leaders.

Delegates were given practical tips to advance their career aspirations, boost their motivation and inspire them to take the next step.

Publications produced by DLGC in partnership with Women in Super and WACOSS were promoted at the event, including Super Steps to Securing Your Future and Understanding and Managing Your Superannuation.

DLGC, in partnership with Women in Global Business, also funds scholarships for WA women planning to expand their business internationally. Applications for the WiGB mentoring scholarships close in January.

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Recognise a multicultural success story

Nominations are open for the inaugural 2016 Multicultural Recognition Awards that celebrate people and organisations promoting social harmony.

Individuals, businesses and community groups that carry out remarkable work supporting and promoting multiculturalism in Western Australia are encouraged to apply.

The categories are:

  • Outstanding Individual Achievement Award
  • Outstanding Volunteer Award
  • Outstanding Service to Multiculturalism Award
  • Community Organisation Award for outstanding contribution to multiculturalism
  • Private Sector Award for outstanding contribution to multiculturalism
  • Marketing Award for outstanding contribution to multiculturalism
  • Local Government Award for outstanding contribution to multiculturalism

Nominations close at 5pm, Monday 1 February 2016. The winners will be announced during Harmony Week in March 2016.

The awards are presented by the Office of Multicultural Interests.

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