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Connect February 2016

Last updated: 22/04/2016 5:10 PM
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From the Director General

Director General Jenniffer Mathews  

Welcome to 2016 - another busy and exciting year lies ahead. We look forward to working with you to build on and celebrate the many achievements of groups and individuals who contribute to strong WA communities.

With the passage of the City of Perth bill through WA Parliament on 25 February, the landscape of local government in Perth is set to transform when new the City of Perth boundaries come into effect. Under the legislation, on 1 July the City of Perth will expand to include The University of Western Australia, Kings Park, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre and the new Perth Children's Hospital. 

The bill also amends the Local Government Act 1995 to provide for greater transparency and accountability of local government elected members and senior staff by requiring them to disclose gifts and contributions to travel within 10 days of receipt.

There are a number of important occasions in our calendar over the next few months.

On 8 March International Women's Day is celebrated globally and a series of events are planned in Western Australia. A calendar highlight every year is Harmony Week (15 - 21 March), in which we encourage everyone to experience WA's wealth of cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic diversity. Our Office of Multicultural Interests has a dedicated Harmony Week web page where you can find out what is happening in WA and publicise your own celebrations.

From 8 - 17 April, National Youth Week 2016 will celebrate and recognise the positive contributions of young people to the community. More than 100 events are expected to take place across WA. Next month Cadets WA will be celebrating its 20 year anniversary.

Some other important dates for you to note are:

I hope you’ll take advantage of these opportunities to acknowledge the outstanding work of the many thousands of West Australians from all walks of life who contribute to their communities every day.

For those involved in local government, the LGMA Finance Professionals Conference will be held from 17 to 18 March. A series of workshops will occur throughout March to seek feedback from local governments on the updated Integrated Planning and Reporting (IPR) guidelines. The workshops are being held in Perth, Northam, Bunbury and Geraldton.

Training for councillors will also continue over the coming months in several regions around the State. Courses include modules on serving on council, meeting procedures and debating, land use planning, and strategy and managing risk. The courses are funded by the Country Local Government Fund and I would encourage all elected members to attend.

Jennifer Mathews

Director General
Department of Local Government and Communities

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New council website to be launched

West Australians will have a better understanding of their council’s financial sustainability and performance with the launch this year of a website presenting comparative local government data.

The new website will provide a snapshot of all WA’s local governments and will allow members of the public to make comparisons of data over time and between local governments.

Hosted by the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC), the website will consolidate data that is currently only available in local government annual reports and other reporting documents.

Members of the public will be able to view and compare information such as council expenditure by program, rates and other revenue and service delivery. Financial data will be presented visually, making it easier to interpret and make assessments about council performance.

Local governments are set to benefit from the website with the opportunity to showcase their performance to the community. Comparisons with other councils will enable them to identify areas for continuous improvement.

The website forms part of the State Government's commitment to improving local government with initiatives such as transferring the responsibility for conducting audits of local government to the Office of the Auditor General and the introduction of new travel and gift declaration requirements.

The website will be launched in mid-2016 and DLGC will continue to work with local governments to evolve and expand the capabilities of the website.

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Celebrating women

International Women's Day is celebrated globally on 8 March 2016 and a series of events are planned in Western Australia.

The theme for WA's International Women's Day celebrations is 'Breaking Through' which recognises the progress being made towards gender equality and acknowledges the ongoing work that supports women to reach their potential.

The Department of Local Government and Communities is supporting the WA Women's Hall of Fame which recognises and celebrates the achievements of West Australian women past and present. More than 130 women from across WA have been inducted into the hall of fame since 2011. The 2016 inductees will be announced at a ceremony on 8 March at the State Reception Centre.

Also taking place in the first week of March is the annual Grace Vaughan Memorial Lecture. DLGC is partnering with UWA's Institute of Advanced Studies and the Australian Association of Social Workers to hold the event. The lecture on 10 March will be presented by Dorinda Cox on the topic of family and domestic violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Community groups and organisations are encouraged to celebrate International Women's Day by hosting their own event. Event details can be registered and promoted on DLGC’s IWD 2016 web page.

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Harmony Week 

Experience, explore and appreciate Western Australia's wealth of cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic diversity during Harmony Week.

Harmony Week, 15 to 21 March, is also an opportunity to consider the many benefits WA gains from its culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including the introduction of new skills and networks, and other economic advantages such as strong links to the rest of the world.

The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) has developed an online Harmony Week kit with ideas about how communities, businesses, government, schools and individuals can celebrate the week. Harmony Week activities will also be featured in OMI’s community events calendar.

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Community excellence

Nominations are now open to award outstanding and innovative community sector organisations.

The Community Services Excellence Awards 2016 are presented by the Western Australian Council of Social Service in partnership with the Department of Local Government and Communities.

Now in their sixth year, the biennial awards are a chance to acknowledge organisations that work to improve the lives of West Australians. 

This year’s awards feature a new category initiated by the Community Development Roundtable – the Local Government and Community Services Collaboration Award which recognises best practice in partnerships between community service organisations, local governments and local communities.

Other categories include awards for small, medium and large organisations, a regional organisation award, partnership award, and awards for citizen empowerment and for commitment to reconciliation.

Previous award winners include Fair Game WA, Derby, a charity using recycled sports equipment to deliver fitness programs in communities of need and Rise Network, Midland, which opened WA’s first safe house in 2008 for women aged 14 to 18.

Nominations for the Community Services Excellence Awards 2016 are open until 10 March. To nominate, visit the Community Service Excellence Awards website. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Perth on 4 May.

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Shire shows strength

Shire of Irwin officeImage courtesy of the Shire of Irwin

The Shire of Irwin has been acknowledged for its strong performance after participating in a Better Practice Review (BPR).

The BPR program is run by the Department of Local Government and Communities and is designed to build the capacity of the local government sector by identifying and promoting best practice and increasing regulatory compliance. DLGC’s Better Practice Review team visits and assists local governments to assess their processes and procedures.

The shire received its final BPR report recently after participating in the 2015 program. The report noted strong performances in relation to organisational culture, regional and community relationships and financial management. The shire’s major strengths included undertaking integrated planning to a high level, effective community engagement and customer service.

The BPR team has engaged with eight country local governments since the program began in 2015 and all have indicated the value of participating in the review process. The Shires of Esperance, Wyalkatchem, Broome, Capel, Kojonup, Plantagenet and Gnowangerup have committed to participating in 2016.

In 2016, Better Practice Reviews are scheduled through to August. Local governments interested in participating can contact Andrew Borrett on 6552 1532 or andrew.borrett@dlgc.wa.gov.au

Funding for the BPR program is provided through the Country Local Government Fund.

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Building men's wellbeing

Members of the Fremantle Men's Community ShedMembers of the Fremantle Men's Community Shed, White Gum Valley

Western Australian Men’s Sheds have received funding to continue to improve the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of men.

The Department of Local Government and Communities and the Department of Health have jointly provided more than $225,000 to the Western Australian Men’s Shed Association which represents all Men’s Sheds across the State.

The two-year funding agreement was announced by Local Government and Community Services Minister Tony Simpson at an event at the Fremantle Men’s Community Shed on 1 February.

The association will use the funding to provide information and resources for both new and existing sheds, foster collaboration with local governments and other community organisations, and to coordinate information exchanges.

The first WA Men’s Sheds were established more than 10 years ago in the South West region. There are now more than 160 sheds throughout Western Australia.

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Youth week set to ignite

Western Australia is gearing up for the largest celebration of young people in the country in April.

From 8 - 17 April, 2016 National Youth Week will celebrate and recognise the positive contributions of young people to the community.

More than 100 events are expected to take place throughout Western Australia, many of which are funded by $40,000 in grants provided by the Department of Local Government and Communities.

The grants will support a range of events including a colour run and music festival in Katanning, underground roller disco in Murray, youth mental health event at Curtin University and drug awareness evening in Westonia. 

Activities and events held during the week will be developed and managed by young people through the National Youth Week planning committee. The National Youth Week theme is ‘spark’.

Representing WA’s young people is Mosman Park teenager Georgie Carey who is the 2016 National Youth Week Ambassador. As ambassador, Georgie (19) plays a key role in leading WA’s planning committee and planning the week’s activities.

National Youth Week WA is presented by Propel Youth Arts in partnership with DLGC. Events will kick off in Broome on 8 April.

A calendar of events will be available on the DLGC website soon. To add an event to the calendar, email a short description of the event, the venue, address, date and time to sue-ellen.middleton@dlgc.wa.gov.au by 4 March. For more information contact youngpeople@dlgc.wa.gov.au.

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Learn to represent

The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) is seeking expressions of interest in a leadership and governance program for members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The purpose of the program is to encourage greater representation on public, private or community sector boards and committees.

The program ran successfully in 2015, returning in 2016, and comprises:

  • a governance training program based on the OMI publication 'Diversifying Boards' over two half-days
  • a three hour mentoring session
  • a six month mentoring program to support graduates of the program.

The training sessions will be delivered in April and May 2016 on Saturdays. For more information and an application form, contact Said Padshah on 6552 1547 or said.padshah@omi.wa.gov.au. Registrations are due on Thursday 10 March 2016.

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Open for child care

Collie child care centreImage courtesy of the Shire of Collie.

An arrangement between the Department of Local Government and Communities and the Shire of Collie has resulted in a new and improved local child care centre. 

In 2013, land and buildings associated with DLGC’s child care centre in Forest Street were transferred to the Shire of Collie.

In exchange, the shire agreed to build a new child care centre in Throssell Street as part of the Central Park project, a town revitalisation plan.

The shire recently completed the building with $2.2 million Royalties for Regions funding and DLGC has taken ownership of the new facility.

Community-based child care organisation, Collie Early Education, has moved in and will offer an additional 24 places for children aged up to five years, providing care for a total of 72 children.

The new centre has a large atrium that includes a café-style space for meals and an area for after-school care for older children. All rooms open to an outdoor play area encouraging nature-based play.

DLGC has been providing buildings, purchased and leased, for community-based child care organisations since the 1980s.

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Disclosing gifts

Legislation changes have imposed new disclosure requirements on local government gifts and travel contributions.

Amendments to the Local Government Act 1995 require councillors and designated employees to declare gifts and travel contributions within 10 days of receipt, rather than in the annual return. The chief executive officer will be required to make this information available on the local government's official website.

The amendments are contained within the City of Perth bill which was passed by WA Parliament on 25 February. Councillors and designated employees will have a period of 28 days to disclose gifts and travel contributions that were received between 1 July 2015 and the date the new provisions take effect.

The chief executive officer must maintain the register of gifts and travel contributions received during this period. The Department of Local Government and Communities will be providing more information to local government staff and councillors to help them achieve compliance.

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Praise for volunteers

50 years of volunteer service badge recipient John Ree50 years of volunteer service badge recipient John Ree

The significant efforts of long serving volunteers can be recognised with a WA Volunteer Service Award.

The awards program, run by the Department of Local Government and Communities, recognises volunteers who have provided more than 25 years of service to one organisation. Recipients are presented with a commemorative badge for either 25 years of service or more or 50 years of service or more.

Nominations for an award can be submitted at any time throughout the year. Official presentations are held every December to coincide with Thank a Volunteer Day. Alternatively, arrangements can be made to have an award presented at another time to volunteers by the nominating organisation.

A group of volunteers with more than 50 years of dedicated service to their communities were presented with badges by Volunteering Minister Tony Simpson at a function in December. Recipients included 74 year-old John Ree, a volunteer ambulance officer, first aider and trainer since 1958.

Volunteers also have the opportunity to receive recognition through Volunteering WA’s Western Australian Volunteer of the Year Awards. Nominations are open until 11 March for eight categories.

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Getting youth involved

A scene from the Spinifex Health Service's Sand Animation Project.A scene from the Spinifex Health Service's Sand Animation Project.

Grants recently provided by the Department of Local Government and Communities are helping young West Australians to get more involved at a community level.

In January, the Youth Friendly Communities grants program invested $86,600 in nine regional local governments for facilities and programs of importance to young people.

The grant recipients included six local governments in the Wheatbelt - the shires of Pingelly, Goomalling, Victoria Plains, Quairading, Dandaragan and Kondinin - with projects ranging from surveying young people at youth events and forums to art projects.

Regional local governments can apply for Youth Friendly Communities grants of up to $10,000 for activities underpinned by the 10 principles of youth friendly communities.

Another eight organisations have shared in more than $32,000 funding for youth-related projects through the Youth Activities grants program.

This grants program gives local governments and community service organisations the opportunity to apply for one-off funding of up to $5,000 for local youth projects.

The Spinifex Health Service in Tjuntjuntjara, 680km north-east of Kalgoorlie, received a grant in 2015 to run the Sand Animation Project. The project worked with children to identify and document cultural activities that the children had learned from the elders in the community.

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Young people at the peak

Multicultural young people have participated in a summit with politicians and decision makers.

Fifty young people from throughout Western Australia were involved in the first Catalyst Youth Summit organised by the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network of Western Australia (MYANWA). 

The summit was supported by the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) and the Department of Local Government and Communities.

The summit enabled young delegates to get together and talk about issues important to them, and to work together to create solutions. They also had the chance to speak directly to politicians and decision makers at the event.

The summit focused on five areas: mental health, refugees and asylum seekers, discrimination, access to opportunities, and a sense of belonging.

The delegates proposed suggestions to address the issues, including the need for translation services particularly in mental health assistance, using social media to help spread positive stories about asylum seekers, the need for a more balanced portrayal of people with diverse backgrounds in the media, and assistance with transition to work.

The summit was a pilot program and will provide a platform for future programs to build on the work achieved during the summit. OMI will work closely with the Youth Affairs Council of WA and MYANWA to follow up on actions arising from the summit.

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