President's Message 24 April 2020

Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister the Hon Gareth Ward MP joined us for a Member Only Forum this week to discuss issues impacting councils and our most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This conversation highlighted the essential community services provided by councils to people from all walks of life including the most vulnerable in our communities, so a big thank you to the Minister and all who participated. A recording of the forum and Q&As will be sent to members very soon. For more information please email communications@lgnsw.org.au

HELP AMPLIFY OUR SECTOR'S ADVOCACY WORK

Please be sure to help us to let your community and state and federal representatives know just what’s at stake and who will be impacted if local councils do not receive financial assistance and economic stimulus soon. I encourage you to:

Thank you to the councils from across the state who have already resolved the mayoral minute in support of the campaign including Port Macquarie Hastings, Gunnedah, Port Stephens, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Central Coast, Kempsey, Cessnock, Maitland, Tamworth, Byron Shire, Ballina, Mid-Coast and Coffs Harbour councils.

LGNSW would also appreciate any detailed information on impacts to your council’s finances, staff and service levels to help drive our advocacy. Please email Chief Economist Shaun McBride or call 9242 4072.

GOVERNMENT CHANGES

WINS! This week we welcomed:

  • $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package. We’re pleased to see the NSW Government’s $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package to support fire-impacted forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries following LGNSW’s ongoing advocacy. These industries are the backbone of most rural and regional communities and their recovery is vital to repairing local economies and helping them cope with the compounding impacts of the COVID 19 crisis. We’re determined to ensure communities devastated by bushfires aren’t forgotten despite the pandemic. For a full list of all available bushfire support, go to www.service.nsw.gov.au For further information, email Shaun McBride, LGNSW Chief Economist.
  • Agreed national planning principles during the COVID-19 crisis. Federal Minister for Cities, State and Territory Planning Ministers, and the President of the Australia Local Government Association have agreed on planning principles to guide changes to planning systems during the COVID-19 crisis. LGNSW will of course continue to advocate that new (and fast-tracked) development aligns with agreed local planning strategies, that allow communities to continue to have a say during local and state government development assessment processes. We will also be seeking to ensure these decisions don’t compromise good planning outcomes, and that building quality and safety remain top priorities. For further information refer to the meeting Communique or email Jane Partridge, Senior Policy Officer – Planning.
  • $73 million for increased mental health services in NSW. We welcomed this announcement by the Premier and Minister for Mental Health this morning. This funding will see increased mental health services including the employment of 180 new mental health clinicians across the State and the bolstering of capacity for the 1800 NSW Mental Health Line (1800 011 511) to accomodate 60,000 extra calls.  LGNSW has been calling for more funding for mental health services, particularly for vulnerable communities severely affected by drought and bushfires. With the impacts of COVID-19, the need for these supports is more critical than ever. For further information, email Elle Brunsdon, Policy Officer.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PLANNING REFORM

LGNSW will on Tuesday (28 April) present the first of this year's LGNSW planning reform forums via an online webinar. This is a Don’t Miss event featuring, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes, so be sure to register.

AWARDS SEASON IS UPON US

We're not letting a pandemic get in the way of the Local Government Week Awards, with entries now invited for the RH Dougherty Awards, the Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture Awards and the LGNSW Planning Awards. More information is available on our website.

REMINDER

LGNSW is continuing to negotiate the Local Government (State) Award 2017 with local government unions on your behalf.

I am also pleased to report that 112 councils have signed up to the Local Government COVID-19 Splinter Award over the past week. The 12-month Splinter Award operates in addition to the existing Award and any individual council enterprise agreements. It is also being varied to cover local government electricians and staff covered by the Local Government Aged Disability and Home Care Award. For further information, email LGNSW Workplace Relations Unit.

HOT TIP

Professional development has never been more important. LGNSW has moved to full online delivery of our training and events program for Mayors, General Managers, Councillors and council staff. Sign up to receive latest news, offers and discounts.