VOLUNTEER-BASED Section 86 committees in charge of public facilities such as halls and recreation reserves will soon be known by a new name and controlled under simpler guidelines in the new Victorian Local Government Act 2020, in force since May 1, 2020.
The 16 existing and functioning Section 86 committees, so called after the relevant section of the steadily being replaced Local Government Act 1989, will be identified as community asset committees from September 1, 2020, under Section 65 of the 2020 Act.
South Gippsland Shire’s community asset committees in the Corner Inlet district will include those that run the Foster Showgrounds, Stockyard Gallery in Foster, the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre, the John Terrill Memorial Park in Fish Creek and the Fish Creek Recreation Reserve, the Port Welshpool and District Maritime Museum, and the TP Taylor Reserve and Community Centre in Sandy Point.
In the municipality’s northern and western reaches will be the community asset committees for the Meeniyan and District Sports Stadium, the Dumbalk Hall, the Mardan Hall, the Mirboo North Hall, the Walter J Tuck Recreation Reserve at Mirboo North, the Leongatha Court House, the Korumburra Recreation Reserve, the Korumburra Botanic Park, and the Allambee South Community Hall.
Corner Inlet Seawalls has no management committee at present however it will still be transferred with the other organisations to the new community asset committees list.
At the ordinary council meeting held at Leongatha on Wednesday July 22, 2020, South Gippsland Shire’s administration panel voted to re-identify each of the existing Section 86 committees as community asset committees.
The three panel members also called for shire chief executive officer (CEO) Kerryn Ellis to bring a report to the August 26, 2020 council meeting “to rescind the former Section 86 committees and establish the memberships of the new community asset committees in accordance with [the 2020 Act].”
The panel noted as well that delegations for the new community asset committees will be established by the CEO as required by the new Act.
After consulting the committees, the panel will review the most appropriate long-term governance arrangement for each of them within 12 months, or by August 30, 2021.
A report in the July 22 meeting agenda stated that the Local Government Act 2020 received Royal Assent on March 24, 2020, and that it “aims to improve Local Government democracy, accountability and service delivery for all Victorians.”
The report states that the 2020 Act “simplifies the approach to committees” and that it “specifies only three types of committees, and the powers and administrative arrangements related to those committees.”
Sections 63 and 65 of the 2020 Act relate to delegated committees and community asset committees and came into effect on May 1, 2020.
The report advises that “delegations made under the Local Government Act 1989 remain in force until September 1, 2020” so “any existing committees operating under delegation will not have the power to exercise these delegations after this date, until new committees are established and new instruments of delegation are made.”
The report goes on to state that “there were many amendments made to the Local Government Act 1989 over the years, to ensure committees formed by councils, for a range of purposes, were prescribed under this Act.
“However, the cumulated amendments created confusion and uncertainty, which was exacerbated by the different roles and processes imposed on different types of committees.”
The shire wrote to all of the present Section 86 committees in May 2020 to flag the coming changes brought in by the Local Government Act 2020, and council officers were appointed to as points of contact for the various committees.
The agenda report suggested that “changes to the future structure of existing Section 86 committees must be made with careful consideration to the future of volunteering and community engagement with [the] council.
“To ensure these changes are approached collaboratively, encourage continued community investment in community assets, and deliver a structure that provides appropriate and effective management, it will be proposed that functioning Section 86 committees be appointed by [the] council as community asset committees in the first instance.”