ACT Government’s 2001-2002 Budget Consultation Process

Thank you for your letter of the 16th Feburary 2001 inviting the Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) to contribute to the consultation process for the ACT Government’s 2001-2002 Budget. As you know the WCCC is a non-political, voluntary community lobby group for residents of Weston Creek.

Mr Gary Humphries MLA
Chief Minister
ACT Legislative Assembly
Canberra ACT 2601

ATTENTION:
Ms Megan Smithies
Director – Financial and Budgetary Management

Dear Chief Minister

ACT Government’s 2001-2002 Budget Consultation Process

Thank you for your letter of the 16th Feburary 2001 inviting the Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) to contribute to the consultation process for the ACT Government’s 2001-2002 Budget. As you know the WCCC is a non-political, voluntary community lobby group for residents of Weston Creek. Further details on the WCCC and our recent activities are available from our website (website address above).

The draft budget initiatives that the WCCC would like to comment on are as follows:

  • Education, Community Services and Recreation;
  • Finance and Public Administration;
  • Justice and Community Safety; and
  • Planning and Urban Services.
  •  

Separate comments for each of these draft budget initiatives follow. The WCCC has no comments to make on the Health and Community Care draft budget initiatives for reason of the lack of provision of these facilities in Weston Creek. It is difficult to comment except to say that such services should be decentralised and some could be delivered from the Grant Cameron Centre.

Furthermore, the WCCC notes that the Capital Works Program is a compendium of the other budget initiatives. Therefore, our comments for the Capital Works Program are contained in the comments for each of the individual draft budget initiatives.

The Executive of the WCCC is available to discuss any of the above, and the attached comments, at a mutually convenient opportunity.

Yours sincerely

(signed)

Jeffrey Carl

Chairperson
Weston Creek Community Council
22 March 2001

2001-02 Budget Consultation -Phase II
Education, Community Services and Recreation

The issues will be covered in the order presented in the above document.

Other concerns not addressed in the document will follow. Improved information systems for community organisation. Given the title, this initiative is expected to be the Government providing funds to recognised community organisations to either readily pass information to the Government on community issues; or for the Government to pass information quickly and accurately to relevant community organisations. It appears to be internal Government expenditure on a database to manage the community organisations with whom the Government has purchaser – provider agreements.

 

IT grants. The provision of funds to schools for improved IT facilities and training is commended. Access to the Internet provides ACT students with a wealth of material in a learning environment. We request that these funds also are made available to Principals and School Boards’ of Management to put school curriculum material on the Internet.

The ACT is relying heavily on the Internet for information dissemination (eg. TransACT). Funds should be made available for schools to put their curriculum and other teaching resources on the Internet at their school website. This will assist parents who are not able to be at a school between 9am and 3pm access materials to help their children in the learning process. Access to the Internet for children is a great start, however the parents need to access school material to work with the school to educate children. Schools need to be able to fund the development and on-going maintenance of a website directed at parents/carers of their students. We respectfully suggest that school Principals, with the relevant school board agreement, be able to utilise the funds to service the needs of parents/carers as well as internal IT use in a school. The ONLINE CURRICULUM initiative does not cover this issue. ONLINE CURRICULUM is the provision of teaching resource material to teachers.

Lower Early Childhood Class Sizes for Primary Schools – Government Schools: The WCCC supports any effort made to reduce the student to teacher ratio in schools, especially at the younger ages. This initiative also needs to contain funds to employ teacher’s assistants at the younger grades. There is a need to ensure the accommodation needs of classes are considered. A straightforward increase in teacher numbers without increased teaching space will not achieve the desire outcome and overcrowding in schools will still occur.

In respect of capital works, a number of Weston Creek Pre Schools and Primary Schools have had inappropriate timber (pine log) play equipment removed. There is yet to be undertaken an audit to ascertain which schools need to have older dangerous play equipment removed. There is a need to update the community on the status of the replacement program – and what funds are allocated to provide the equipment to schools which have had timber structures removed and not replaced with alternate equipment. All Weston Creek Pre and Primary schools need to be involved in this audit.

As far as Community Services are concerned the WCCC requests that consideration be given to the installation of air-conditioning in the Weston Creek Community Service (no linkages to the WCCC) rented space in the Weston Creek Community Centre (again no linkages). Services have to be delivered to people in a comfortable and relaxed environment. This is not happening and action needs to be undertaken as soon as possible.

The WCCC also asks that Capital Works allocation be provided for toilets and change rooms on the oval in Streeton Drive Chapman which is used by Little Athletics and other groups as a training venue. The recent fencing of Stirling Oval has removed such facilities from general use in Weston Creek. The provision of change rooms/toilets will provide a strong signal of the importance of physical education in the school curriculum and that the message is being reinforced for out-of-school hour’s activities for school-aged children.

Lastly, the WCCC requests that consideration be given to establishing skateboard facilities in Weston Creek that cater for the needs of beginners or less-advanced skaters. The new facilities at the Recreation Park are very much appreciated, but a large number of young people feel that these facilities cater only for skaters with advanced or professional skill levels. Those who do not have these skills feel alienated, and there are very few dedicated facilities available for the less-advanced skaters to improve their skills.

The existing Skate Park needs a water fountain provided. We have raised this issue with the Government many times since the Skate Park was opened. The demand on the adjacent Scout Hall is inappropriate

2001-02 Budget Consultation -Phase II

Finance and Public Administration

The issues will be covered in the order presented in the above document. Other concerns not addressed in the document will follow.

Bridging the Digital Divide. The current investigation of this initiative has an expectation that the Government would be consulting with recognised community organisations to gain information on the extent of the issues and the material impact bridging such a divide could provide. The $500,000 in the first year and increasing yearly is yet to be defined in respect of identified outcomes. The WCCC believes that the allocation needs to be tied to the extent of the issue; ie. costed on the real issues and the extent to which Government can assist in minimising the divide. Involving recognised community groups is a fundamental approach to bridging the divide.

Canberra Connect. The provision of funds to establish and maintain Canberra Connect is wholeheartedly supported by the WCCC. The removal of barriers which limit access to information on the services provided by each agency is a step towards an integrated information management system in the ACT. The ability to gain answers from Government irrespective of the agency performing the task is also a step forward. The provision of funds to community groups to establish and/or enhance their web presence should also be funded as a critical component in Canberra Connect.

2001-02 Budget Consultation -Phase II

Justice and Community Safety

The WCCC has no major concerns with the material presented in this document. However, budget details on the cost of the redevelopment, construction and on-going upkeep of the Joint Emergency Services Facility in Phillip, which will service Weston Creek, would be useful. The issues of staffing levels and response times to Weston Creek would also be useful.

In addition the WCCC requests that additional funding be considered to re-establish Neighborhood Watch in Weston Creek suburbs which do not have such a fundamental service. This service, provided by volunteers, needs seed funding as well as ongoing maintenance funds. These funds should be forthcoming from the Justice and Community Safety budget.

2001-02 Budget Consultation -Phase II

Planning and Urban Services

The issues will be covered in the order presented in the above document. Other concerns not addressed in the document will follow.

Implementation of the ACT Greenhouse Strategy. The WCCC supports any effort being made to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. However, we are concerned that this initiative is not just focussed on internal office lighting, but also embraces external security lighting and floodlighting. Areas such as caryards and shopping centre car parks are poorly lit by lights that throw most of their light upwards rather than more advanced, lower power lighting that throws most of the light towards the ground where it is needed. The benefit of such lights is the lower energy consumption and less light pollution for valuable local facilities such as Mount Stromlo Observatory. Similar lights could also be used in the Capital Works Program directed to Traffic Route Lighting.

Footpath Rehabilitation Program. The WCCC requests that consideration be given to upgrading the footpaths around Waramanga, Fisher and Chapman local shopping centres. These shops are heavily used by older people or mobility impaired people and the uneven footpath surfaces are a significant hazard. The WCCC has recently visited all local Weston creek shopping centres as part of our taking it to the streets initiative and we have received many comments on the poor state of the footpaths.

Forward Design – Precinct Refurbishment Program.Interchange relocation (Woden). Weston Creek commuters heavily use this interchange and the WCCC looks forward to actively participating in the public consultation process. However care must be taken not to further alienate Weston Creek commuters who travel through Woden to other Canberra destinations.

Road Safety Congestion Program – Cotter Road Duplication. The WCCC is pleased to see that measures are at last in place to reduce the congestion on Cotter Road between Streeton Drive and Tuggeranong Parkway. This congestion has been the source of on-going complaints from local residents to the WCCC for a number of years, with the number of complaints significantly increasing after the construction of the roundabout at the Fitzpatrick Street intersection.

The WCCC also asks that capital works funds be provided the installation of an on-road cycle path on Streeton Drive. This cycle path would, ideally, extend from Darwinia Terrace intersection to Dixon Drive intersection to meet up with the Weston Creek to City cycle path that is already in place. There would need to be appropriate treatment of the Mulley Street intersection.

 

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