Somerset Regional Council Meeting Highlights 10 May 2023
Kilcoy’s Multicultural Delight
A crowd of 600 enjoyed the delights of Kilcoy’s multicultural community on Friday 5 May.
The festival was coordinated by Council with funding from the Queensland Government and sponsorship from Kilcoy Global Foods. The family-friendly event featured singing, dancing, storytelling and workshops by people from cultures around the world who now call the Somerset Region home.
Somerset Regional Council Deputy Mayor Helen Brieschke said the Kilcoy Multicultural Festival was a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate our diversity.
“Somerset is home to people from all corners of the globe and this was a fabulous opportunity to experience the many different cultures we have in our region and to meet the residents who have settled in our beautiful corner of the world,” Cr Brieschke said.
Somerset Region’s local Solomon Islands’ group performing a traditional hunting dance.
Somerset Businesses Encouraged to Register as Local Suppliers
Somerset Regional Council is encouraging locally based businesses to use Council’s Local Supplier Register to ensure they can quote for the supply of goods and services.
A local supplier is defined as a registered business with an ABN that has a physical place of business on rateable land within the local government area that is owned or leased by that business.
Council frequently seeks the supply of a wide range of goods and services, from outdoor power equipment to work wear to herbicides.
For more information and to register your business as a Local Supplier, go to www.somerset.qld.gov.au
New childcare centre and housing approved near Fernvale School
Somerset Regional Council has conditionally approved the development of a childcare centre adjacent to Fernvale State School on Foresthill Fernvale Road.
When built, the centre will cater for 99 children employing 13 staff on a separately subdivided 3,000 square metre block.
Fernvale Recreation Grounds Committee representative, Cr Sean Choat said the new facility would be a welcome addition to the region.
“A lot of families in the region have expressed a need for additional childcare facilities in Somerset so this will provide welcome relief for many,” Cr Choat said.
“This facility will cater for the growing needs of our community and the many families with young children who have moved to the region in recent years.
“The development also includes 34 new residential lots with an average lot size of 648 sqm as part of a combined development application with the childcare centre.
“Overall, the application meets legal requirements, and the requirements of the Somerset planning scheme and Council has approved it subject to conditions,” Cr Choat said.
Rural Fire Brigades essential work enjoys continued support in Somerset
Rural Fire Local Area Finance Committee representative, Cr Jason Wendt said the funds would help ensure the Somerset community continued to be protected.
“There is a fair process that goes into reviewing the budgets of 20 rural fire brigades and groups to make sure that the brigades have the resources they need to protect our community,” Cr Wendt said.
“These groups are vital to rural communities like ours who experience natural disasters far too regularly. It’s important that they are properly equipped and manned, and able to attract volunteer firefighters to sign up.
“We are grateful for the support of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service officers who work with the brigades to do this and help us set a fair and reasonable rural fire levy each year.
“The Local Area Finance Committee resolved that the overall budget for the rural fire brigades presented by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) be accepted at its meeting on 19 April,” he said.
“QFES officers in attendance outlined the improved funding that rural fire brigades will now receive from the State Government, which is both welcome and long overdue.
“Local volunteer rural fire brigades played a vital role during the 2022 floods and Somerset residents won’t easily forget the 2019 fire season which would have been much worse if not for the actions of volunteer rural firefighters.
“They deserve the strong ongoing support from Council and the community.”
Procurement Policy changes to benefit local business
Somerset Regional Council has adopted changes to its Procurement Policy to provide greater advantage to local suppliers compared to other suppliers from outside the region.
Economic Recovery Sub-Group representative Councillor Bob Whalley said this was a positive step forward.
“Council calls quotations for the supply of goods and services up to defined thresholds,” Cr Whalley said.
“What we have changed are the thresholds. We have increased quotation thresholds for most purchases from local suppliers from $2,000 to $4,000, while purchases from non-local suppliers have a quotation threshold of $2,000, up from $1,000.
“This will make dealing with local suppliers easier and faster, for both the supplier and Council officers and provide increased impetus for buying local.
“We need to keep money circulating within our community for as long as possible,” Cr Whalley said.
“The Queensland Government Statistician’s Office has reported an unemployment rate for Somerset at December 2022 of 6.8% compared to the rate for Queensland overall of 3.9%.”
“We are awarding record numbers of contracts to local suppliers with our 2022 annual report showing more than $18 million in payments to just 12 suppliers last financial year.”
“There is more we can do however, and we are confident that these latest procurement policy changes will provide the appropriate balance between local economic development and appropriate financial management,” Cr Whalley said.
Somerset records 1.3% growth in 2021/2021
Somerset Regional Council has recorded population growth of 1.3% to 25,727 in the 2022 financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Human Social Recovery Sub-Group representative Cr Cheryl Gaedtke said, “We are always pleased to see the annual official population increase figures as they help confirm that people are voting with their feet and moving to Somerset to enjoy the lifestyle we can offer.”
“The latest figures are from the 2021/2022 year and follow the impacts of flooding and repeated lockdowns of recent years.
“We note that the estimated population grew by a faster rate in Somerset than Sydney or Melbourne for the year,” she said.
“The ABS reported that people from other states are generally moving to regional Queensland areas like Somerset.
“The engine room for us is the Lowood/ Fernvale SA2 statistical area which grew by 1.8% during 2021/2022.
“At a practical level, the increasing population will help us to continue securing grants for our region which in turn helps us to provide services at an affordable cost.
“We can also invest these grants into transport and other infrastructure to make our community safer and more productive,” Cr Gaedtke said.
The 2022 regional population statistics were issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on 20 April 2023 and are available at https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/regional-population/2021-22.