Thursday, May 27, 2021

Inner West Council in Audit Office Report on Local Government 2020 (27 May 2021)

"Inner West Council Due to the impact of COVID-19, council closed its aquatic centre and received less revenue from childcare. It also received less section 94 fees, parking fines and other fees. User fees and charges were $32.7 million
compared to the budget of $46.0 million. However, this was partially offset
by grants for childcare from the government. Council’s operating grants and
contributions were $17.0 million compared to a budget of $10.6 million."

 "Inner West Council (ongoing finding)
In 2018–19, council did not sufficiently complete a quality review of the asset
revaluation process.
In 2019–20, council was not required to perform a comprehensive revaluation for
any asset classes, so council could not address the finding during 2019–20. The
finding will remain ongoing until the next revaluation is performed."

Source: PDF Report on Local Government 2020 (27 May 2021) at

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Council Resolves to Run a Poll on the Amalgamation

So, last night was a win for democracy - Inner West Council resolved to ask the community whether we continue with the amalgamation or deamalgamate to our former boundaries.
Outside Ashfield Town Hall, prior to Council Meeting, 24 May 2021

Recent NSW legislation permits deamalgamation to be initiated within 10 years of Amalgamation.
The NSW Electoral Commission (who is running the council election on September 4) advises: 
"The deadline for referendum and poll questions is the 30th of June. ..A Poll question in non binding."
So, it is time to reflect on the good, bad and ugly of the amalgamation. Ofcourse some things would have happened without amalgamation and other things did not happen or happened because of amalgamation. Some things can be fixed - others can't.
There were 7 speakers at last night's extraordinary meeting and the gallery was full. The passing community also took an interest in the rally at the front of the Ashfield Town Hall. Speakers and debate on the motion at
The Council Resolved to receive a Report on the cost of Deamalgamation and concern for staff. 
Sometime ago, I withdrew my motion on determining the cost of Amalgamation because staff said they were too busy -so, let's see how we go based on public information and your perceptions - official micromex customer satisfaction survey is coming.
Interested to hear what people mark councils on - what should the Key Performance Indicators Be?

“Breaking up the beast”: Inner West residents to be given vote on de-amalgamation

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Internal Ombudsman is Council's complaints co-ordinator.

Facebook post 11 May 2020: The Internal Ombudsman is Council's complaints co-ordinator.

The Internal Ombudsman coordinate a second level review of complaints often reflecting poor systems and processes (due to the amalgamation) which are difficult to navigate. These are often resolved internally. Whether processes are improved when the complaints co-ordinator is remote (they sit at Cumberland Council) Both Cumberland and Parramatta were amalgamated.

The Shared Part of the Internal Ombudman Share Service, is that Inner West Council shares funding of the Complaints Co-ordinator Role with Cumberland and Parramatta Councils - this is overseen by the GMs of the three councils.

The Complaints Co-ordinator also co-ordinates Code of Conduct Complaints and farms these out to Investigators from a panel approved by Council and recommended by SSROC. Codes of Conduct are a more formal complaints process which relate to the behavior of councillors and staff. The Code and Procedures for these are overseen by the Office of Local Government.

As Monica Wangmann has pointed out in the post - the Independent Umpire is the NSW Ombudsman which reports to NSW Parliament. Under the NSW Ombudsmans guidelines the Inner West Council's Complaints Handling Process should have been reviewed last November.

There is also NCAT, ICAC and others.

NOM on 11 May 2021 agenda - the relevant Acting Council Officers have provided comments. The review was due last November.
Item No: C0521(1) Item 34

Subject: Notice of Motion: Review of Inner West Council Complaints Handling

From: Councillor Marghanita Da Cruz
THAT Council:

1. Review the Management of Complaints including accessibility of information on website, reporting, performance, the Internal Ombudsman Shared Service and alignment with the NSW Ombudsman's best practice guidelines and the Procedures for Handling Code of Conduct Complaints;

2. Report the outcome of the review to Councillors at the July ordinary Council meeting.


In accordance with the NSW Ombudsman's guidance, the Complaints Handling Policy was due to be reviewed last November.

"This policy is subject to regular review at a maximum interval of two years. Any recognised change to relevant legislation, directives or guidelines issued by agencies including the NSW Ombudsman and the Office of Local Government will instigate an immediate review of this policy to reflect any changes." viewed 20 April 2021 Source: Complaints Handling Policy (adopted27/11/2018)

With regard to the use of "Internal Ombudsman" The Association of Ombudsman have raised concerns "It is a contradiction in terms, for example, to describe a body as an ‘internal ombudsman’ or to apply the description to a body that is subject to the direction of a government minister or industry body.//The Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) is concerned to ensure appropriate use of the term Ombudsman. Our view is that a body should not be described as an Ombudsman unless it complies with six essential criteria addressing independence, jurisdiction, powers, accessibility, procedural fairness and accountability./" Source: ESSENTIAL CRITERIA FOR DESCRIBING A BODY AS AN OMBUDSMAN Policy statement endorsed on 5 February 2010 by the Executive Committee of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) - viewed 20 April 2021

Officer’s Comments:

Comment from Acting Governance Manager:

Council officers are commencing a review of the Complaints handling policy with the Internal Ombudsman Shared Service. A draft Policy will be tabled at the Ordinary Council meeting in July 2021 prior to going on public exhibition.

Comment from Acting Internal Ombudsman

The Internal Ombudsman Shared Service (IOSS) operates in accordance with the IOSS Governance Charter, available on Inner West Council’s website: Council’s website also contains information on what the IOSS will and will not investigate, information on how to make a complaint, confidentiality and privacy provisions, our contact details and further fact sheets about the service. The IOSS Charter, Fact Sheet and publicly available information on Council’s website follows the NSW Ombudsman’s Building a best practice complaint management system. The role of the IOSS is also incorporated into Council’s Complaint Handling Policy and the IOSS liaises regularly with Council officers to facilitate the effective and efficient management of complaints.

The IOSS, an impartial service working across the three member Councils, operates out of a stand-alone office in Auburn, physically separate from all other Council buildings. The IOSS reports to the IOSS Management Committee and issues an Annual Report on the performance of the IOSS, also available on Council’s website.

The IOSS will assist Council to review and update Council’s Complaint Handling Policy and review and report on Council’s Complaints Handling practices and processes.

In relation to Code of Conduct complaints, the Internal Ombudsman is delegated as Council’s Complaints Coordinator pursuant to Council’s adopted Code of Conduct and The Procedures for the Administration of the Model Code of Conduct. Any Code of Conduct complaints are managed pursuant to the relevant statutory requirements and there are review mechanisms available under the Procedures if there are identified concerns with this process.

Source Agenda 11 May 2021

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Inside the Hunter Baillie Tower on Fete Day -7 May 2021

Fete and Land Grant to Urban Village Panels


On the 7 May 2021, I got a peak inside the Tower of the Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church at the corner of Collins and Johnston Streets in Annandale.

7 May PWA Fete

The church was completed in 1889. There is a National Trust conservation Appeal to maintain this State Heritage listed building.

The Church hosts an annual Hertiage open day as part of the Nation Trust Heritage Festival. As part of this heritage day I have guided short walks with the proceeds going to the appeal. 

The Presbyterian Womens Association (Annandale) provides Devonshire Tea.

7 May PWA Fete

I also erect the set of 10 blue corflute posters created a few years ago which depict the history of Annandale from Land Grant (1790s) to Urban Village (circa 2016). 

7 May PWA Fete

On the 7 May, the PWA held a fete and after purchasing Jams and Cake, Paul (who looks after the maintenance of the church) took me up into the Tower - a dream of many a passer by!

Went out onto the Parapet with Paul -but sorry no photos as I left my phone and handbag at the wooden slat level before I climbed the ladder to the parapet level!


Door to room directly above organ - level 1

Ground Floor entrance to Tower

Flu and Wooden Slat Windows

Top of Flu

Wooden Slat Windows

Gas Lamp in stairwell

Movement Markers in Stairwell

Wooden Slat Room - Level 2


Underside of Stairs


Trap Door Level 2

Looking north from missing wooden slat Level 2

Looking East from missing Slat

Window Level 2

Window Level 2
Ladder to Level 3

Wooden Slatted Window - providing ventilation - Level 2

Dietitions exhibition at RPA

Exhibition about Dietitions at Royal Prince Alfred hospital by their museum. "RPA Museum Founded in 1933, th...