The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to be a challenge across all areas. Some of these challenges included:
- requirements for density quotas, vaccination status check ins, and changing rules and requirements impacting our arts and cultural programming
- illness of event organisers and artists requiring event delivery to be reconsidered or cancelled
- COVID-19 capacity and density requirements and lockdowns impacting Citizenship Ceremonies
- virtually conducting Council meetings posing logistical challenges
- balancing return to work for staff against the occupational health and safety risk
- barriers for participants who were unfamiliar with digital tools when online engagement and community workshops were required
- impacts on community organisations delivering projects funded by Council grants
- assessing our approach towards debt collection for the recovery of outstanding rates and charges in a COVID-19 environment
- cost shifting from the State Government to Local Government without the necessary funding or revenue sources placing greater pressure on the financial sustainability of Council and our ability to deliver services and infrastructure at the expected levels.
We also saw additional challenges this year:
- Local businesses being impacted by major transport works in Union Road Surrey Hills and Glenferrie Road Hawthorn. We advocated to LXRP and Yarra Trams authorities on behalf of these businesses and provided outreach and support through our business support services.
- Contractor staff shortages and unavailability of materials made meeting defect compliance timelines under the Road Management Plan challenging.
- A significant storm event caused us to receive many tree work requests, which took several months to resolve.
- The last of the Local Government Act 2020 changes came into effect on 1 July 2021, involving further changes to policies, procedures, and reporting requirements.
- The impact of a volatile construction industry contributed to unprecedented cost escalations and supply chain delays, making the delivery of projects within time and budget challenging.
- Higher scrutiny of insurance risks from underwriters and increased rates offered by insurers. Despite this, Council secured a risk transfer program that remains sustainable in the long-term.
- focus on using feedback obtained from new customer surveys to drive continuous improvement
- focus on the commencement of planning of Kew Library and on forming partnerships with community groups to offer joint education programs/events across all sites
- navigate the changing landscape in aged care services
- facilitate the economic recovery for businesses impacted by COVID-19
- increase our community engagement capability across the organisation
- continue to focus on standardising operating procedures and meeting regulatory standards
- continue making Boroondara greener through increased planting, enhanced service levels in parks and sportsgrounds, and a commitment to reducing emissions
- provide organisations with support as they rebuild their programs, including with volunteer recruitment
- continue delivering the Transforming Boroondara program initiatives which provide community benefits, while effectively maintaining delivery of services to the community
- assist the organisation to plan for and solve complex problems using data and facilitate creative solutions that place our community at the centre of what we do
- advocate for community and Council involvement in the planning system as new planning reforms are developed and implemented by the State Government
- seek to protect the interests of Council and the community with any new building reforms
- establish a strategic planning work program to ensure that planning for future changes in the municipality is undertaken so that growth and development can be appropriately managed as the community changes.