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Ballarat moves to level the playing field

July 15th, 2024Ballarat moves to level the playing field

The City of Ballarat has adopted a policy aimed at ensuring more equitable access to sporting and recreation facilities and programs for all genders.
Ballarat’s Victoria Park Sport and Community Facility, which was opened in 2023.

The City of Ballarat has adopted a policy aimed at ensuring more equitable access to sporting and recreation facilities and programs for all genders.

At its June ordinary meeting, Ballarat City Council endorsed the Fair Access Policy, which seeks to address known barriers experienced by women and girls in accessing and using community sports infrastructure.

This policy establishes the expectation that gender and equality is prioritised in relation to sporting infrastructure, reflecting the City of Ballarat’s commitment to equal opportunity.

This would include, but is not limited to, the provision of female-friendly sporting change rooms, adding gender-based reporting into booking systems to collect data, undertaking Gender Impact Assessment’s on City of Ballarat strategies, and supporting local clubs to embed the principles.

A Fair Access Policy action plan will also be developed as part of a refresh of the Active Ballarat Strategy, due to take place in the 2024/25 financial year.

In the last four years the City of Ballarat has completed 12 projects with a focus on female-friendly access, with new builds or refurbishments at seven football/netball facilities and five soccer facilities.

Future sporting projects that have a female-friendly focus include the Doug Dean Reserve Changerooms Upgrade, City Oval Change Rooms Refurbishment and the Marty Busch Reserve No.2 Oval Changerooms.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said formalising the Fair Access Policy cemented the Council’s existing approach to gender equality at its sporting facilities.

“For a number of years now we have focused on keeping gender equality front of mind when it comes to our project planning and service delivery and I’m proud of the progress we have already made in this space,” he said.

“The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all genders and intersections can fully participate in all aspects of community sport, whether it is as a player, coach, administrator, official, volunteer, or spectator.”

Words: based on a media release issued by the City of Ballarat. Image: Supplied.

After-hours service provider in data security incident

July 14th, 2024After-hours service provider in data security incident

The City of Ballarat was recently left to contact residents in recent days, after being notified of a cyber security incident involving its after-hours service provider, OracleCMS.

The City of Ballarat was recently left to contact residents in recent days, after being notified of a cyber security incident involving its after-hours service provider, OracleCMS.

 OracleCMS is a third-party supplier which the council uses as its after-hours phone call service provider.  

When the community calls the City of Ballarat’s service line outside of business hours, the call is diverted to OracleCMS who take the call on the council’s behalf and then pass the message over to the council.    

The City of Ballarat’s own systems and databases have not been accessed. This data breach relates to the external OracleCMS system only.  

A total 52 impacted local residents were being notified about the breach. The affected data was limited to ‘low risk identity attributes’ that was collected between April 2015 and December 2017 and largely consisted of first names and last names of individuals along with their addresses and phone numbers.

City of Ballarat, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Matt Wilson said the protection of our local resident’s confidentiality and privacy is of critical importance.

“The City of Ballarat apologises unreservedly to everyone affected by this incident,” Mr Wilson said in recent days, following the breach.

“We are in the process of contacting every resident impacted and are offering no-cost access to the services of national identity and cyber support service IDCARE.”

The City of Ballarat takes the privacy of its customers very seriously and is committed to ensuring all contracted service providers have the strongest cyber security measures in place.

OracleCMS have since undertaken several steps to enhance their cyber security and help prevent recurrence, supported by cyber security experts.

They have also been working with government authorities to investigate the incident which had impacted a number of organisations and local councils across Australia.

Words & Image: Supplied.

Chance to influence Ballarat’s recreation future

July 9th, 2024Chance to influence Ballarat’s recreation future

The City of Ballarat is preparing for the future of sporting facilities by outlining a 15-year plan to ensure the municipality’s recreation infrastructure keeps up with forecasted population growth.

The City of Ballarat is preparing for the future of sporting facilities by outlining a 15-year plan to ensure the municipality’s recreation infrastructure keeps up with forecasted population growth.

The Draft Recreation Infrastructure Plan 2024-2039 is now open for public exhibition, having been endorsed by Ballarat City Council at its June meeting.

The plan is designed to guide future planning and investment in sport and recreation facilities, addressing the needs of our growing community over the next 15 years.

The plan aims to provide a strategic framework for developing and maintaining active open space assets on City of Ballarat-owned or managed land.

The road map within the plan lists over 70 sporting venues or projects that will be considered for delivery in the next 15 years, identifying what year those projects will be scheduled subject to the council’s annual budget process.  

The plan will facilitate and guide the council’s ongoing advocacy for external government funding opportunities.  

It will be reviewed every two years to ensure needs are being met and priority projects remain relevant.

With Ballarat’s population projected to grow by over 50,000 residents by 2041, existing recreation facilities are nearing capacity.  

Detailed demand modelling indicates significant shortfalls in various sports facilities by 2036, including deficits in AFL fields, basketball courts, cricket fields, soccer fields, hockey fields, and tennis courts.  

The plan outlines strategies to address these gaps through enhancements to existing facilities and the development of new ones in growth areas.  

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said having a clear roadmap for the next 15 years was vital to ensure Ballarat’s facilities continue to meet demand, are provided across all sports equitably and remain at a standard expected by the community.

“We have invested significantly in our sporting facilities for a number of years now, because the benefits of people playing sport are so significant,” Cr Hudson said.

“There is always more work to do though, so having a clear plan that the community can see shows that our commitment is unwavering.

“We know the Ballarat population is growing and the need for diverse sporting infrastructure is going to accompany that population growth.”

Some of the major projects identified in the plan include:  

  • State Government Regional Sports Infrastructure Program: Expansion of Mars Stadium, a new regional athletics facility, upgrades to the Ballarat Sports Events Centre (BSEC), and developments at Miners Rest Sporting Reserve and Frank Bourke Oval.
  • Indoor stadiums: An eight-court indoor stadium at Winterfield North in the Ballarat West Growth Zone and the proposed increase in indoor court provision to service the Ballarat North Growth Zone.
  • Growth areas: New reserves in Ballarat West and North, including facilities at Greenhalghs Reserve and Glenelg Highway Reserve.
  • Regional facilities: Enhancements to Prince of Wales Park, including a new regional hockey facility, and expansions to Len T Fraser Reserve Skate Park and other renewal or enhancements to sports facilities including badminton, table tennis, tennis and soccer.

The draft plan has been developed through consultation with state sporting associations, local sports clubs, leagues and associations, and City of Ballarat departments.  

A survey also helped gather further feedback, highlighting critical facility provision gaps and community priorities.  

The community is now encouraged to review the Draft Recreation Infrastructure Plan 2024-2039 and provide feedback during the public exhibition period.

Feedback closes at 11.59pm on Sunday 21 July and may be provided via the City of Ballarat’s My Say page online where the plan can also be found in full.

The final Recreation Infrastructure Plan 2024-2039 is expected to return to the council for adoption in August. 

Time running out for say on Ballarat’s draft footpath plan

June 19th, 2024Time running out for say on Ballarat’s draft footpath plan

The community has just a few days remaining to provide feedback on the City of Ballarat's Draft Footpath Construction Strategy.

The community has just a few days remaining to provide feedback on the City of Ballarat’s Draft Footpath Construction Strategy.

The draft strategy guides how the City of Ballarat will prioritise and fund where new footpaths are built to improve safety, transport choices, health and wellbeing, as well as supporting local economic activity and productivity.

It also identifies where new footpaths are needed most, where sealing of existing unsealed footpaths should take place, and highlights missing links in the city’s footpath network.

The strategy features an equitable approach to the construction of footpaths, outlining a community-informed prioritisation framework for identifying which gaps in the footpath network should be built first.

The strategy is designed to improve accessibility for communities most in need including, but not limited to, carers, people with disability and those without access to private transport.

The Draft Footpath Construction Strategy features a raft of key recommendations, which include:

  • Undertake regular demographic analysis of population segments to ensure a clear understanding of which communities may have greater needs from the footpath network
  • Explore opportunities to apply special rate and charge schemes to footpath provision, where willing residents could help co-fund their local footpath, if the path is not earmarked for construction
  • Engage with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners on each year’s Footpath Construction Plan to support landmarks or sightlines of cultural significance near planned footpath construction
  • Investigate opportunities to improve personal security, physical safety, accessibility and connectivity of footpaths to ensure women have equal opportunities to benefit from footpath construction, and
  • Prioritise footpath gaps for construction according to a framework that prioritises primary and secondary pedestrian routes aligned to the Principal Pedestrian Network, as well as local connectivity, adjacent road speed and suburb and locality footpath index of need.    

So far, about 208 people have provided feedback on the draft strategy.

City of Ballarat Councillor Ben Taylor encouraged those yet to provide their feedback, to do so before consultation closes on Sunday 23 June.

“Footpaths play a vital role in keeping our community safe and connected to others, as well as to community facilities, services, public transport and open spaces,” he said.

“This strategy will ensure that our community has access to footpaths that encourage them to walk to local destinations and better connects them to all that our community has to offer.”

The City of Ballarat held extensive community consultation in the development of the Draft Footpath Construction Strategy.

Community consultation, which was held from 5 February until 3 March, worked to understand how residents use the footpath network and to gather feedback on the proposed decision-making framework.

Workshops were held with key stakeholders including the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and City of Ballarat’s Ageing Well, Community Inclusion, LGBTIQA+ and Youth Services teams. Two community pop-up sessions were also held at the Ballarat Farmers Market and the Skate Park Leagues Competition.

More than 460 residents contributed to the consultation, with 264 surveys completed and 580 contributions made to the interactive pin-drop map.  

Feedback from the Ballarat community will inform the final Footpath Construction Strategy.

Those eager to provide feedback on the Draft Footpath Construction Strategy can do so up until 5pm, Sunday 23 June at mysay.ballarat.vic.gov.au/footpath-strategy

Words & Image: Supplied

Draft Ballarat biodiversity strategy open for consultation

April 6th, 2024Draft Ballarat biodiversity strategy open for consultation

The City of Ballarat's Draft Ballarat Biodiversity Strategy has been released for community review and feedback.
City of Ballarat Senior Sustainability Policy and ESD Officer Heath Steward, Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation representatives Chase Aghan and Kelly Ann Blake, and Mayor Cr Des Hudson at Gong Gong Reservoir.

The City of Ballarat’s Draft Ballarat Biodiversity Strategy has been released for community review and feedback.

The draft strategy maps out a future for biodiversity across the municipality, outlining actions that will protect and strengthen Ballarat’s natural environment.

Those keen to make a contribution are able to lodge their input up until 5pm, Tuesday 30 April via the council’s website. 

The strategy will help guide the management and protection of the region’s unique landscapes and species, and is the first co-designed strategy the City of Ballarat has delivered in partnership with Wadawurrung and alongside the Country Plans of the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners.  

The City of Ballarat held community consultation in the development of the Draft Ballarat Biodiversity Strategy, Healing Country Together, late last year, including hosting a Young People’s Forum with 20 participants.

As part of the community consultation, more than 100 surveys were completed, more than 20 detailed submissions were made, 30 community members representing active community groups attended workshop discussions and more than 70 City of Ballarat employees contributed to an ideas workshops.

Feedback from the community will inform the final Biodiversity Strategy, which is expected to go before the council for consideration later this year.

Words & Image: Supplied

Roads, paths and climate: Ballarat’s priorities revealed

February 24th, 2024Roads, paths and climate: Ballarat’s priorities revealed

Road maintenance, the improvement of cycleways and footpaths, and increasing investment in climate change have emerged as top priorities for the community in the City of Ballarat's 2024/25 Annual Budget consultation. 

Road maintenance, the improvement of cycleways and footpaths, and increasing investment in climate change have emerged as top priorities for the community in the City of Ballarat’s 2024/25 Annual Budget consultation. 

The consultation occurred throughout October last year. It followed the announcement that the City of Ballarat was changing its budget engagement processes in which there would be a singular round of consultation ahead of the 2024/25 budget development process instead of the previous two rounds of consultation — one prior to the development of the budget and one following its development.  

The comprehensive, earlier engagement period was designed to improve upon past engagement processes to ensure the council is better informed of residents’ priorities within the context of the council plan 2021-2025 prior to beginning the development of the annual budget.

The new budget engagement process will also allow the council officers to present the budget to councillors at the May council meeting — a month earlier than previous years.  

The October consultation resulted in improved levels of engagement, with the following themes also emerging out of the engagement process:  

  • Improved waste management and recycling
  • Increasing investment in recreation and sporting facilities
  • Improved town planning / reducing urban sprawl
  • Increased investment in council buildings 

Council officers are now using the information gathered through the consultation process, along with a review of the City of Ballarat’s 2023/24 year to date financial performance, to develop the 2024/25 annual budget.  

The financial performance review ensures the City of Ballarat’s financial position is consistent with the objectives set out in the 2023/24 budget and long-term financial sustainability objectives.  

Updated budget forecasts for the 2023/24 financial year will be presented to the council at the 28 February council meeting.  

The budget will be reviewed and workshopped by councillors during March and April and is scheduled to be considered for adoption at the May council meeting. 

City of Ballarat Chief Executive Officer Evan King said the City of Ballarat was actively seeking to improve consultation processes to ensure residents’ priorities are reflected in decision-making and in strategic documents, such as the Annual Budget.  

“I’d like to thank all community members that contributed to the budget consultation,” he said.  

“In order to prepare a balanced budget, we need to ensure it can fund the core services and strategic objectives contained in the Council Plan, along with any additional initiatives.

“This will require council to consider such variables as borrowings, cost efficiencies and the level of revenue we are able to raise, given the minister for local government has set the rate cap for the 2024/25 financial year at 2.75 percent.”  

City offering complimentary microchipping in return for pet registrations

February 12th, 2024City offering complimentary microchipping in return for pet registrations

Ballarat residents can now get free microchipping for their four-legged friends in return for ensuring that their pets are registered with the City of Ballarat for this year.

Ballarat residents can now get free microchipping for their four-legged friends in return for ensuring that their pets are registered with the City of Ballarat for this year.  

Microchipped pets mean they are more identifiable if they escape the property, reducing stress on pets and owners.  

Renewing pet registration each year means all contact details are up to date and Animal Management Officers can return the animal to its home, with no need to impound the dog or cat.  

Registration fees also contribute to overall animal management across the City of Ballarat, including staff being able to attend to:  

  • Cat and dog roaming reports
  • Welfare and cruelty complaints
  • Wandering and stray animals  
  • Barking/noise concerns
  • Investigating dog attack incidents  
  • Picking up stray cats and dogs  
  • Managing and running the Ballarat Animal Shelter

Appointments are required to have your dog or cat microchipped and registered with the City of Ballarat. This can be made via phone, 5334 2075 or by emailing your name and phone number to animalshelter@ballarat.vic.gov.au and the staff will be in contact to make an appointment time.  

Proof of ownership of your pet or cat will be required. This can be in the form of vet bills, insurance paperwork or a series of photos.  

Registration fees are:

  • Dog and Cat Standard (de-sexed) $44
  • Dog and Cat (not de-sexed) $182
  • Puppy awaiting desexing (3-12 months of age) $44

Residents with a pension card will receive a discounted registration fee. For more information click the ‘Pets’ tab on the City of Ballarat website.

City of Ballarat takes out national Snap Send Solve Customer Service award

February 9th, 2024City of Ballarat takes out national Snap Send Solve Customer Service award

The City of Ballarat’s efforts to improve customer service appear to be paying off with the announcement that it has taken out the national and state Customer Service Award in the Snap Send Solve 2023 Solver of the Year Awards.  

The City of Ballarat’s efforts to improve customer service appear to be paying off with the announcement that it has taken out the national and state Customer Service Award in the Snap Send Solve 2023 Solver of the Year Awards.  

Snap Send Solve is an easy-to-use mobile app that allows residents to report issues to relevant authorities.  

The Snap Send Solve Solver of the Year Awards highlight top performing organisations across several categories on the Snap Send Solve app, which is widely used across Australia and New Zealand.  

The Customer Service Award recognises the organisation with the highest star rating by users and the highest percentage of updates provided to users who have made reports.

Throughout 2023, 2,015 people made 6,434 reports to the City of Ballarat, which is nearly three times the number of reports handled in 2022.  

The announcement of the national customer service award follows extensive efforts by the City of Ballarat to improve customer service across the organisation, particularly in the digital space.  

This has included trialing new systems to increase communication and improve feedback to residents who report issues via the Snap Send Solve app by creating a new Digital and Emerging Customer Experience Officer position.

A significant element of this role is to monitor Snap Send Solve reports and to communicate updates to app users, and to close the loop with them when their report is completed.  

The City of Ballarat has also created its first Customer Charter— a document outlining what residents can expect when interacting with the City of Ballarat which includes a series of Customer Response Standards.  

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said the Customer Service Award reflected the organisation’s commitment to improvement.  

“We heard from the community that improving communication with residents who contact the City of Ballarat — particularly via our digital channels, such as Snap Send Solve — was a priority,” he said.  

“This national Customer Service award is a testament to the hard work of our Customer Service staff during 2023 to provide the best possible service to our community.”  

Learmonth netball courts shine a light

November 17th, 2023Learmonth netball courts shine a light

The future is looking brighter at the Learmonth Football Netball Club after the completion of a keenly anticipated project to deliver modern netball facilities.

The future is looking brighter at the Learmonth Football Netball Club following completion of a keenly anticipated project to deliver modern netball facilities.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson was joined by Member for Ripon, Martha Haylett MP to officially open the Learmonth Netball Courts and Lighting Project last week.

The $781,703 project received $531,703 in City of Ballarat funding and $250,000 from the State Government’s 2021/22 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund.

The project delivered two new netball courts inclusive of LED sports lighting to 200 LUX, a shelter and fencing to current Netball Victoria Facility Guidelines.

Cr Hudson said the upgrades had already been well received since they were handed to the club during the 2023 Central Highlands Netball League season. The netball courts were completed in May and the lights were fully connected in August.

“It’s fantastic that such a deserving club like Learmonth has been able to already put these facilities to use. We even saw some finals matches played here and the A-grade team even went on to win the grand final,” Cr Hudson said.

“We know these upgrades were very much needed, so it’s great to transform the Learmonth courts into an incredible community facility.

“We thank the State Government for the support that ensures we are able to provide local communities with the sporting infrastructure they deserve.

“We’re planning further upgrades to the Learmonth football oval’s surface and lighting and are hoping with the support of Martha Haylett, the Member for Ripon, the State Government will partner with us again to help fund those works.”

The Learmonth Football Netball Club has more than 100 registered netballers and more than 200 registered footballers and club president Stephen Griffin said the new facilities would be of major benefit to the club.

“Our club is extremely grateful to have the opportunity to train and play on these new courts and facilities,” he said.  

“We are proud to host home games, finals, interleague games and look forward to the wider community utilising these premium facilities.”

Prime time to help shape future shape of Ballarat

September 11th, 2023Prime time to help shape future shape of Ballarat

Now is the time for Ballarat residents to provide feedback as to how the city should grow towards 2041.

Now is the time for Ballarat residents to provide feedback as to how the city should grow towards 2041.

Consultation has officially opened on the city’s Draft Ballarat Housing Strategy 2023-2041.  

As Ballarat continues to grow and change it is important that there is a plan in place to guide population growth and residential development in line with community needs and values, while also helping the city and townships evolve in a sustainable manner.

The City of Ballarat wants to ensure that the Draft Ballarat Housing Strategy protects the valued natural and built form assets of the municipality now and for future generations.

The Draft Ballarat Housing Strategy has been informed by a broad range of strategic background studies and reports, the strategic vision from the Ballarat Strategy 2040, the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2021-2025 and State Government policy and guidance.

Community feedback is welcomed on a range of issues the draft strategy addresses, including neighbourhood character, the targeted split of greenfield and infill development, and how accessibility is measured.  

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said hearing from Ballarat residents is the next stage of helping shape how the city will grow.  

“We know that we are continuing to grow” he said.  

“This is one of the most significant pieces of work this Council will undertake. Strategic Planning is incredibly complex and a lot of valuable work has been done to get to this stage.

“We have now reached the point in the process where it is time for our community to be engaged, so please give us your thoughts on the draft strategy.  

“Have we got it right? What should we change? What do you like?”

Drop-in sessions to ask questions in person are being held at a range of locations across the municipality during September 2023. The sessions are all between the hours of 2pm and 7pm.  

Locals are being invited to drop in for a chat with the City of Ballarat Strategic Planners over a cup of coffee and refreshments:

  • 12 September, at Sebastopol Library
  • 14 September, at the Buninyong Town Hall
  • 18 September, at the Ballarat Bowling Club, Havelock Street
  • 19 September, at the Brown Hill Community Hall
  • 21 September, at Sebastopol Library
  • 26 September, at Ballarat Bowling Club, Havelock Street

Those interested can also review the documents, have your say, or ask a question online at the City of Ballarat’s Mysay page.  

Ballarat’s office-based businesses encouraged to switch to net zero

August 26th, 2023Ballarat’s office-based businesses encouraged to switch to net zero

The City of Ballarat has joined CitySwitch – a free national program that helps office-based businesses reduce emissions and their environmental impact, and is urging office-based businesses to jump on board.

The City of Ballarat has joined CitySwitch – a free national program that helps office-based businesses reduce emissions and their environmental impact, and is urging office-based businesses to jump on board.

Under the program, CitySwitch assists businesses to map a pathway to net zero emissions and connects them with other businesses on the journey.

Participants are encouraged to reduce their office energy use, switch to renewable energy and take part in the circular economy, among other key net zero focus areas.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said the CitySwitch initiative to de-carbonise businesses aligns with the City of Ballarat’s transition to a net zero municipality.

“The City of Ballarat is excited to offer CitySwitch to Ballarat’s office-based businesses,” he said.

“This free program will help businesses implement and promote environmental sustainability initiatives while accelerating climate action.”

There are more than 500 businesses Australia-wide participating in the CitySwitch program, spanning the finance, legal, engineering, advertising, architecture and health sectors. These businesses accounted for 19 per cent of Australian office space in 2022.

In 2021, businesses participating in the program saved $62.6 million by making their properties more energy efficient.  

The program assists businesses to measure their emissions, reduce their waste and energy use, and shift to 100 per cent renewables. Businesses can offset their emissions and become carbon neutral, join the circular economy and green their supply chain.

CitySwitch upskills, mentors and educates businesses and their teams, and helps them to become climate resilient. Businesses receive tools and support for each point along the way.

In 2018, Ballarat Council acknowledged the climate emergency and the need for urgent action. In 2019, Council adopted the Carbon Neutrality and 100% Renewables Action Plan 2019-2025 for its corporate emissions.

In 2022, the council adopted the Ballarat Net Zero Emissions Plan, with an aspirational target of reaching net zero emissions by 2030 for the Ballarat community.

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