President’s column

The Regional Cooperation and Development Forum and the 21st National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA), held this week, both delivered on prominent highlights and informative, interesting and worthwhile speakers.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss opened the NGA with an announcement to focus the second round of the Bridges Renewal Programme so that it would be open only to Local Government, which was warmly welcomed by ALGA and delegates at the Assembly. The funding under this round of the programme will see upgrades to increasingly ageing local community bridges, which play an essential part in sustaining local economies because of the important role they play in connecting freight networks across regions.

The second round of the Bridges Renewal Programme, offering $100 million of funding, will be open for applications between 1 July and 31 August this year. I encourage you reach out to your Regional Development Australia Committees and your state/territory associations and seek their assistance in developing applications for this second round of funding.

The closing of the NGA saw a powerful and moving keynote address by 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty about her experience with, and campaign against, family violence after she lost her young son to an act of such violence. Such was the power and impact of Ms Batty's address that Tumut Shire Council Mayor, Trina Thomson, moved a motion from the floor of the Assembly to support my advocacy at COAG to ensure the national campaign against domestic violence is appropriately resourced. I am pleased to inform that this motion was unanimously carried by the Assembly.

Local Government across Australia is supporting the reduction of violence against women through a range of activities by individual councils and also through the representation of several ALGA Board members, including myself, as White Ribbon Ambassadors. Board members in the Northern Territory (Mayor Damien Ryan), South Australia (Mayor David O'Loughlin), Victoria (Clr Bill McArthur), and immediate past President of the LGAT in Tasmania (Mayor Barry Easther) are some of the 2,000 White Ribbon Ambassadors across Australia. The Municipal Association of Victoria has also developed a set of factsheets on preventing violence against women, winning an international award earlier this year for its Prevention of Violence Against Women – Leading Change in the Victorian Local Government Sector booklet.

This year also represents the 175-year anniversary of the City of Adelaide and the broader establishment of Local Government, marked at the NGA with an address from the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Martin Haese. Congratulations to the City of Adelaide on your 175-year milestone!

Mayor Troy Pickard

 ALGA President