Yarra is home to an estimated 76,000 residents and the local economy has some 8,720 businesses based here with more than 58,000 people working in these businesses and organisations across the municipality. Yarra’s community includes a large number of visitors, tourists, employees, business owners, property owners, community organisations, local services and community groups as well as residents.
Council Plan 2009-13
The Council Plan sets out the medium-term direction of Council and the outcomes sought by Councillors for their term. This Plan has a strategic focus, concerned with setting out our Strategic Objectives for the next four years and outlining some of the values, policy, research and evidence sitting behind each objective.
Each year, in line with the Budget process, Council will produce an Annual Plan identifying how Council will work towards achieving the Strategic Objectives. Council priorities, major projects, capital works, service improvements as well as actions in response to Council strategies and plans will be set out in the Annual Plan. Progress against this activity will be detailed in Council’s Annual Report, with major projects and service highlights reported to Council in a quarterly progress report.
Local government has a broad responsibility for ensuring the viability and sustainability of each municipality. However, local government is required to deliver a wide range of services under Victorian legislation or funding agreements with State and Federal Governments, limiting the scope for changing services.
Council also needs to act consistently with State, Commonwealth and international legislation such as the Disability Act, the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, and all the United Nations human rights conventions that Australia is party to.
Yarra City Council meets community needs through different services. Universal services are those used by most residents such as waste management or libraries, maintaining street trees, sports ovals, local parks and gardens, or local infrastructure such as roads, bike paths or footpaths.
Other services respond to particular community needs such as children’s or aged services, leisure centres, public health services, issuing permits or enforcing local laws. A range of ‘internal’ services are not directly experienced by residents but are crucial to the delivery of our public services: for example finance, human resources, information services or communications.
In developing this Council Plan, liveability emerged as a strong theme and explains the overall drive behind Council’s work. Liveability is about the qualities that make Yarra a place where people want to live. Important elements of liveability include strong communities, good planning and urban design, community infrastructure, accessible and efficient transport and a healthy environment.
A recent inquiry by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission linked Victoria’s liveability to both the quality of life of citizens as well the State’s competitiveness and prosperity. Key findings included the need for better informed decision making, effective integration between government efforts, and for ‘best practice’ regulation. The important ‘leadership role’ of local government in supporting the liveability of local areas was noted.
Key issues impacting on Yarra’s liveability were raised by the community through surveys and consultations including transport issues (access to parking, the level of traffic and congestion), neighbourhood amenity (noise, cleanliness of streets, graffiti), sustainability (particularly environmental and economic) and community connectedness (housing affordability, access to services such as child care).
An important organisational focus for Council is ensuring our services respond to local needs and are maintained at a high standard.
Global, national, regional and local changes, whether environmental, economic, social or political, require Council to continue to reassess how well our services and infrastructure are meeting our community’s needs.
With around half of residents new to Yarra in the last five years, Council’s services must be sensitive to changing needs and must ensure that residents know about the range of services they may want to access. This degree of turnover of residents, alongside a vibrant local economy, also increases the number of ‘amenity’ issues arising over different uses of space within the same precincts: complaints over issues such as noise, litter and public behaviour.
An increasing population and changing community expectations also create pressure for the ongoing review of Council services. To ensure our services are accessible and delivered to agreed standards, each service requires an assessment of how well it is meeting the needs of its users.
Drawing on these issues, as well as those raised throughout the Council Plan, Council has arrived at five Strategic Objectives. Each picks up a different aspect of Council’s service delivery over the next 4 years:
- Making Yarra More Liveable – a focus for many of Council’s core activities;
- Ensuring a Sustainable Yarra – working to address our environmental impacts;
- Serving Yarra’s Community – providing human services that meet the needs of a wide range of residents to maintain their health and wellbeing;
- Supporting a Diverse and Dynamic Yarra – supporting vibrant communities as well as neighbourhood and activity centres;
- Building Council’s Capacity and Performance – ensuring our internal systems, processes and people are equipped to deliver responsive, high-quality services.
Clearly these Strategic Objectives are broad, picking up on both the many challenges and opportunities facing Yarra, as well as capturing the value and intent of Council’s ongoing service delivery.
Many issues and priorities will be encompassed by more than one Strategic Objective, reflecting the multiple aims and integration of local government’s work.
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