"The National Awards are an important part of our partnership with local government, recognising the critical role of local governments in making our communities more productive, liveable and sustainable," Mr Crean said.
"Local government underpins location-based solutions to specific needs across Australia. It is important for us as a nation to tap into local expertise and develop creative solutions to address emerging social, economic and environmental issues.
"I'm confident that this year's entries will demonstrate the same creativity and innovation that we have seen in the many award winners over the past 26 years.
"The 2011 National Award winners continue to reap the benefits of the awards program. For example, the Mid-Western Regional Council in NSW, who received a National Award for their Inspire, Encourage, Enlighten Program say the award continues to motivate staff and inspire a sense of pride in the community."
The 2012 awards will see the addition of six new award categories including Excellence in Road Safety, Active Arts, Improving Services to Remote Communities, Land Use Planning - Addressing Disaster Risk and Enhancing Resilience, Rural and Remote Health and Strength in Diversity.
The national winners will be judged by an independent panel and announced at the National General Assembly of the Australian Local Government Association in Canberra in June 2012.
"I urge all local councils across Australia to enter the 2012 National Awards for Local Government, which will showcase the innovative and inspiring work of councils in our communities," Mr Crean said.
For more information on the National Awards for Local Government contact the Awards team on 1800 065 113, or visit http://www.regional.gov.au/local/awards/index.aspx.
T: 1300 416 745