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2016 National Awards for Local Government Submission Guidelines

Please read these Guidelines and the Category Factsheets before submitting your entry.

About the National Awards for Local Government

The National Awards for Local Government is an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements. The Awards spotlight innovative and resourceful solutions that local governments have implemented to make a difference within their local communities.
The Australian Government works together with the states, territories and local governments to improve economic growth and enhance productivity, building jobs and opportunities that strengthen the national economy and enable local communities to manage their futures, including providing essential services and developing effective planning initiatives.
The Awards recognise the important role of local governments in delivering targeted quality services to Australians in urban and regional communities. The Awards celebrate local government projects that demonstrate leading practice, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and make a meaningful difference.
Each year the Award’s focus is on local government projects that are relevant to the national agenda.
Local governments play an important leadership role in identifying regional strengths and working collaboratively to deliver projects that create jobs and develop regional economies for the benefit of their communities and the nation. 
Local governments are invited to submit projects that contribute to building a stronger more productive and diverse economy and deliver better services at a local community level.
The Awards are administered by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development with the support of key sponsors.

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Who can enter

The Awards are open to all Australian elected local government organisations (councils, shires and other recognised organisations that provide direct services to Australian communities).

  • The primary entrant must be a local government organisation.
  • Where a project involves collaboration with other councils, one council may enter as the primary entrant and specify collaborating councils on its entry form. This may include entries from Regional Organisations of Councils.
  • Councils that are involved in collaborative projects that are carried out in partnership with other organisations such as Regional Development Australia Committees, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, not-for-profit organisations, or local businesses, or that receive funding from other bodies (including Commonwealth bodies) may apply. In this instance, the primary entrant must be a council and must show in its submission that it was an active partner in the project.
  • Local governments that are under administration are not eligible to enter the Awards.

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Why local governments should enter

The Awards recognise and reward local governments for their hard work benefiting local communities. The Awards celebrate and raise awareness of successful local government projects and promote networks and collaboration between local government organisations.

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How to enter

Award entries must be submitted using the online entry form available at www.infrastructure.gov.au/nalg.

Please note the online entry requirements for submissions.

  • In preparing your submission ensure you have referred to the Submission Guidelines (this document) and the appropriate Category Factsheets.
  • You must provide a brief description of your project (300 words).
  • A 300 word limit applies to each criterion. Short attachments are permitted (10 page total limit on attachments).
  • Multimedia will not be accepted.

Submissions for the 2016 Awards will be accepted from 1 February until 4 March 2016. No late submissions will be accepted. If you are unable to access the online entry form, or if you require any additional information, please email the Awards team at Awards@infrastructure.gov.au.

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Key dates

Entries open 1 February 2016
Entries close 4 March 2016
Category Judging 14 March–8 April 2-06
Category winners announced Mid April 2016
National judging—presentations 10 May 2016
Category Awards and National Winner presentation events 21 June 2016

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Assessment criteria

Your application can be about large or small projects, but above all else you will need to show how the work you are doing is ground-breaking, delivering best value, and securing real improvement in your local government’s capacity to improve outcomes for people in your community.

The criteria used to assess and judge the submissions are common to all projects. For each project, judges will focus on the following four criteria:

1. Approach

  • Does the submission have a clear rationale?
  • Does the submission support the organisation's goals and local priorities in line with the bigger picture?
  • Is the project addressing priority issues, and is it innovative?
  • Does the project promote relevant, contemporary issues in priority areas?

A model submission will show solid reasoning, and that it is based on what communities or relevant stakeholders need. It will explain why the project is important, and the wider impact that it has set out to achieve—with a particular focus on why this meets current or future challenges. A weaker submission might merely describe what was done, but not why or how.

The judging panel will look for:

  • what the project is about, and the difference it has set out to achieve;
  • the target project outcomes, and how these will improve lives for the community or stakeholders;
  • the key steps or targets that the project sets out to achieve;
  • working collaboratively with other councils and organisations, sharing resources and integrating or redesigning services to improve service delivery;
  • an appropriate illustration of how the project achieves value for money and/or promotes sustainability;
  • relevant research, option appraisal or benchmarking used to inform the project; and
  • an explanation of how the project is meeting financial, service demand or other challenges, using new ideas or ways of working.

2. Delivery

  • Is the project being carried out in a structured, affordable and logical way?
  • How did project managers determine what changes were required to improve business practices, including reducing red tape, and/or better meeting community needs?
  • Does the project focus on the right people and communities?
  • Are evaluation processes in place to ensure the project continues to improve over time?

A model submission will show that the project is being delivered effectively to the right people. There will be a sound methodology, which may include communication, piloting and training. A weaker submission may not be able to demonstrate that all relevant stakeholders are included, or that leading practice was employed, or that the approach was affordable and sustainable.

The judging panel will look for:

  • the involvement of the community including service users, staff or partners throughout implementation;
  • examples of any opportunities exploited or barriers overcome;
  • relevant training, external standards or accreditations that have been achieved;
  • appropriate reference to affordability, efficiency and effectiveness; and
  • the extent to which learning and measurement is leading to further improvement.

3. Leading Practice

  • How does the project demonstrate leading practice in the field?
  • Is the project helping prepare for the future in affordable and sustainable ways?
  • Is the project generating growth opportunities?
  • How does the project demonstrate a coordinated approach in research, planning and development, implementation and evaluation?
  • How does the project demonstrate regional collaboration?
  • Is the project optimising the roles, skills and resources of the public and private sectors?
  • Can others replicate this approach elsewhere, and what is being done to help them achieve that?

A model submission will normally identify leading practice and how it is achieved through the project, and give evidence to support that claim—it is not enough simply to claim leading practice without justifying this. A model submission is also likely to show how leading practice is being developed through research, benchmarking, information sharing, or mainstreaming. It would demonstrate adaptability and transferability of the approach to other projects and how this is being shared. Ideally it will show how this thinking is setting new standards across local government or beyond.

Judging panel will look for:

  • originality/uniqueness of the project, and the creative approaches and strategies used;
  • evidence demonstrating any statements made, such as comparisons with ‘standard practice’ or benchmarking;
  • why the project is delivering better outcomes for the future compared with conventional approaches; and
  • work being undertaken to help other councils or organisations learn about and benefit from the approach.

4. Impact

  • What impact has the project already had, or is set to make in future?
  • Is there a convincing way of measuring results—either in qualitative or quantitative terms?
  • Has the project achieved what it set out to deliver in the ‘planning’ stage?

A model submission will evidence an appropriate selection of actual or projected results, including stakeholder impact, as well as relevant internal measures.

The appropriate mix for your submission is for you to decide and to explain. Results should have a logical link to your ‘planning’ stage. You should aim to show how performance has improved over time and ideally how it compares with others in Australia or beyond. If actual results are not yet available then you should include evidence about how projected results are expected to compare with previous performance.

The judging panel will look for:

  • a convincing description of the actual or anticipated impact of the project. Where appropriate, performance indicators, targets or benchmarks should be included. Tables and graphs are welcome;
  • results or projected results which are positive and improving, or consistently excellent, with evidence of leading performance in your field;
  • the wider impact of the project on the outcomes being experienced by the community, and examples of this. For example, what are the benefits of the project? Who benefits and how?
  • an indication that weaker results are targeted for improvement; and
  • the extent to which results could be emulated by other organisations or partners.

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Assessment process

Entries are assessed in a three stage judging process.

Stage 1: Compliance checks

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development will conduct initial compliance checks on all applications to ensure only entries that have answered all the assessment criteria are delivered to sponsors for Stage 2 of the process.

Stage 2: Category Judging

Stage 2 will be conducted by category sponsors. Sponsors will provide and coordinate judges to assess the entries within their sponsored categories only. At the completion of this phase judges will have identified the category winner based on written submissions only.

Category winners will be announced in mid-April 2016. Category winners will be invited to Canberra to present their project to the national judging panel on Tuesday 10 May 2016.

Stage 3: National judging to select the winner of the National Award for Excellence in Local Government

Stage 3 of the process will be conducted by a panel of representatives from the category sponsors. Selections will be based on the written submission; presentations made by the entrants to the panel; and questions directed to the entrant by the judges.

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What happens next

Category winners will be invited to Canberra to attend the Awards presentation events to be held in Canberra on Tuesday 21 June 2016.


Last Updated: 1 February, 2016