2021 was a big year for councils, with Australians looking to their leaders for support throughout the ongoing pandemic.

Councils across the country displayed innovation and resilience in working tirelessly to provide social, economic and technological aid to their communities.

Here we look back at five of 2021’s most read news stories.

5. New digital tool to regulate AI workplace risks

In September, the New South Wales Government’s Centre for Work Health and Safety announced it was developing a new digital tool to help identify the risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as businesses implement the technology. 

The Artificial Intelligence Risk Management Tool is expected to help businesses manage workplace health and safety risks when introducing and using AI.

4. $40 million available in Smart Places funding

In July, The Smart Places Acceleration Program encouraged local councils and other place owners to put forward smart technology proposals to enhance the built and natural environment throughout New South Wales.

More than $40 million was available for place owners wishing to deploy smart technology for the benefit of local residents, workers and visitors. 

3. SEQ City Deal to deliver critical infrastructure

In late September, The Australian Government, in partnership with the Council of Mayors (SEQ), was in the process of finalising a City Deal for South-East Queensland (SEQ) to deliver key infrastructure projects for the region.

The SEQ City Deal had been in negotiations for over two years, and the refined list of projects and initiatives was agreed between the Australian Government and the Council of Mayors (SEQ).

2. Gladys Berejiklian ‘snubs’ hotspot mayors

In September, former New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, was alleged to have turned down calls to meet with 12 mayors from Sydney’s COVID-19 hotspots.

Ms Berejiklian was invited to meet with the mayors to discuss the impact the hard lockdowns were having on communities, and an email reply from Ms Berejiklian’s office declined the request, suggesting that they instead seek a meeting with the State Local Government Minister, Shelley Hancock.

1. VIC councils address growing suburban homelessness 

In August, 13 Victorian councils united to address growing homelessness in the state, launching a best practice guide during Homelessness Week to combat the issue.

The guide, titled Housing First for People Sleeping Rough Practice Guide for Local Government, focused on providing the homeless with a safe home.

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