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Howe identifies safety as a key issue for local communities

Embargo: Not for publication before 11 pm Friday November 10, 1995

Public safety is a key issue confronting local governments and local communities according to Brian Howe, Minister for Housing and Regional Development.

"Local Governments are demonstrating that issues which affect the lifestyle, the safety and security of communities are very high on their agendas."

"The 600-plus applications which have been received by my Department for local funding - under our Local Government Development Program (LGDP) - demonstrate how much communities care about these issues; care about their local environment and how they can maintain a quality urban lifestyle," Mr Howe said.

" A key aspect of a quality urban lifestyle is having the peace of mind that you can move around your neighbourhood without fear," Mr Howe said.

Applications for funding have been received from all States and Territories. The main application categories are environmental management and micro- - economic reform. (see attached State and Territory list).

The LGDP results were announced by Mr Howe to coincide with the start of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) National Assembly in Canberra on Sunday (November 12).

" Simple local government programs like increasing street lighting can reduce the risk of street crime in suburban communities, while improvements to local public transport reduce the time women, the elderly and the young are spending travelling to and from work, shops and schools."

"Through the LGDP program the Federal Government has tried to increase the effectiveness of projects aimed at those who are neediest in the community," Mr Howe said.

"Issues like safety and privacy, as well as practical local infrastructure changes will make an important difference for the community and families.

"Recent research shows that women in particular express the most concern about these community issues . That is why I was particularly pleased to hear of one of the proposed LGDP projects which aims to encourage more women into the sphere of local government.

"I hope to see this project become a bench-mark initiative to help local government improve its responses to issues of special concern to women, like security and community improvement.

"This government's policy has been to increasingly focus funding and attention back onto issues which are relevant to the average Australian neighbourhood.

"We can avoid the ugly breakdown of communities we have seen in other nations if we support local communities who want to build a sense of trust and support and security in the streets and neighbourhoods of our towns and cities,'l Mr Howe said.

On a national scale we can use broad urban planning and management reforms to support the local communities to build the security, trust and support which the people using them believe are appropriate for the Australian way of life.

"Programs like the Commonwealth's Better Cities scheme are addressing urban renewal at a regional level, but the Local Government Development Program (LGDP) is helping to preserve a safe urban environment at a local and community level.

"A preliminary assessment of applications for Commonwealth funding for local communities shows clear support from communities for the sort of micro-economic reform, environmental responsibility and social justice which will help to preserve secure living environments for Australian families, Mr Howe said.

The 609 LGDP applications received by the Department of Housing and Regional Development, total about $97.5 million and indicate that local communities are looking for development projects which have integrated social and economic benefits.

"Over the next four years we will provide $48 million dollars to local government to ensure that community development meets national economic, social and cultural priorities.

"The content of these applications shows that our local councils share this balanced vision of sustainable economic and social development with us, but in a broader way, they point to the desire to preserve the lifestyle and security which Australian's have won for themselves."

Applications for funding under the Local Government Development Program are submitted by councils, regional development organisations or local community consortia, and assessed by a panel in each State and categorised against key national priorities.

Contact:

Andrew Casey, Brian Howe's office, 06 277 7099; 018 487 581