Australia

LGiU Australia: A local government-specific information and think tank with Australian councils

The LGiU Australia prototype and free trial launched at the end of February 2020. This trial period and subsequent member feedback have helped shape the vision for what would add value for local government, and the proposed ongoing form for LGiU Australia. LGiU Australia is committed to providing councillors, CEOs, council officers and others in local government with access to the information, insight and ideas they need through policy briefings, a daily local government news digest, bulletins considering e.g. real-world COVID-19 responses, and shared best practice.

In this blog post, LGiU Australia’s Merle Zierke provides an update on the brief history of LGiU, outlines LGiU Australia’s vision and purpose, and for the proposed opportunity for councils to get involved as members. It will be of interest to councillors, CEOs and council officers interested in understanding the vision and opportunity to participate as members in the establishment and ongoing sustainability of LGiU Australia.

What is LGiU Australia?

LGiU Australia is a member-led information service and think tank that provides councils with the information, insight and ideas they need through policy briefings, a daily local government news digest, and shared best practice in the form of summary case studies. It also provides a national and international platform for collaboration and sharing best practice, and developing new ideas with other local councils.

A partnership between LGiU Global and Australian public policy firm SGS Economics & Planning saw LGiU Australia launched – in a prototype and free trial – in February 2020 to test the potential service for councils, with the ambition of creating a network for sharing policy innovation from around Australia and into the current international links of LGiU UK.

“At LGIU, we know that local government fulfils its potential when it has access to the best information, insight and ideas from home and abroad. Our ambition is to be the world’s leading knowledge hub for local government and to create a global network of local authorities, public servants and politicians supporting each other to strengthen local democracy, improve public services and meet the complex challenges of the 21st century.”

– Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU Global Chief Executive

Brief history of LGiU

LGiU has been operating in the UK for over thirty years and over that time it has matured into a think tank with an explicit focus on making a case for localism, stronger local government, and more effective local democracy. The three key reasons for the focus on localism are:

  • Localism has a democratic premium. All things being equal we should seek to give people the most influence possible over the places they live in, the public services they use, and the lives they lead.
  • Complex problems are rarely solved by centralised one-size-fits-all solutions. Innovation must be local, responsive to specific contexts, and draw on the creativity and civic capacity of local people.
  • The really difficult challenges we face cannot be solved by isolated institutions (either of state or market), or communities or by citizens working alone – instead, they require the collective, collaborative engagement of all parts of the public realm.

Local governments are critical to shaping sustainable communities, and SGS is excited to help councils stay informed, and create new ideas and solutions, through LGiU Australia. At a time when councils are dealing with the challenges of tighter finances, greater responsibility, increased expectations from residents, and the charge of spearheading local actions in response to national and global issues (such as COVID-19 and climate change), access to new ways of thinking, sharing best practice and information is more important than ever.

LGiU Australia – feedback on the trial

LGiU Australia recently ran our first member (members signed up to the free trial) survey to get feedback on how the service is meeting their needs and expectations.

Survey results indicate that overall, most members found the services to be of value:

LGiU Australia: A local government-specific information and think tank with Australian councils

Members found value in the Australian policy briefings, an area we are keen to keep building on in collaboration with local government, to access new ideas and insights and potential solutions to critical issues.

LGiU Australia: A local government-specific information and think tank with Australian councils

Members found LGiU Australia provided them with intelligence and expertise that saved them time and money.

LGiU Australia: A local government-specific information and think tank with Australian councils

Following the prototype free-trial period and informed by member feedback, LGiU Australia has created a Member Prospectus which outlines the longer-term vision for LGiU, moving beyond the trial phase.

Vision and purpose

To create a place where local governments can connect and learn from each other, both locally and internationally. It is a place where information and new ideas are shared freely for more impact. And it is a place where local government leadership teams can collaborate and shape the future of local government.

The purpose of LGiU Australia is proposed to be driven by five key ideas, as shown below.

LGiU Australia: A local government-specific information and think tank with Australian councils

Proposed member benefits

Our members value being connected to new ideas and given the intellectual tools to operate effectively. Our daily news service informs members what’s happening in local government, our briefings help decision-makers grasp policy issues quickly, and our podcasts introduce new thinking and innovations. Put simply, LGiU is a hub for local government best thinking.”

– Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU Global Chief Executive.

LGiU is a member-led organisation. It provides an opportunity for councils to sign up to receive information specifically tailored to local government in Australia, to share best practice and ideas, to collaborate and problem solve.

Member benefits include unlimited access for all staff and councillors to:

  • Australian daily news emails
  • Australian weekly policy briefings on critical topics
  • regular thought leadership pieces by key experts
  • invitations to online events and Q&As
  • Australian and international content on the LGiU website for every council employee, including access to over 2000 briefings in the global archives.

Building a network of local governments creates a platform for councils to work collaboratively in sharing ideas, connecting interested councils to a particular issue or topic and allowing council officers to connect with other councils who are grappling with similar issues and challenges.

Members are encouraged to tell us what issues they would like to hear more about and to share their own work and experiences. If you have a topic, idea or a case study you would like to see covered, contact Merle Zierke, Content Commissioner mzierke@sgsep.com.au.

A key part of the collaboration model is the establishment of online sessions that allow councils to delve deeper into the briefing material that is already provided, and get assistance from key experts in answering questions relevant to how these ideas may be best applied by local government. LGiU Australia is working to establish these regular online sessions in a series entitled: “Rethink Local Government”.

Watch our first online event

In the video feed from our panel discussion “Tackling Big Issues Locally” you can watch or listen to LGiU Global’s CEO Jonathan Carr-West introduce LGiU Australia and explain why it matters, along with fellow panelists Ellen Witte (speaking on Planning for natural hazards in a changing climate) and Mark Davies, (speaking on local government financial sustainability).

The new series of “Rethink Local Government” will commence in August 2020, and further information will be provided soon.

More information on LGiU Australia can be found here

 

If you would like to sign your council up for a no-obligation three-month free trial, or to find about more about becoming a member, please contact Hannah Muirhead, LGiU International Partnerships Officer, email: hannah.muirhead@lgiu.org.

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