President's Message 28 January 2020

This week, ALGA President David O’Loughlin and I will be travelling to meet with mayors and councils in some of the areas most affected by bushfires.

As the enormity of the clean-up task presents itself, our representations to government are primarily focussed on ensuring your voices are being heard and local councils do not bear the weight of the administrative and financial burden of the recovery.

We have had several successful responses from governments so far, including:

  • The Federal Government announcing funding for councils in bushfire-affected areas. Refer to the National Bushfire Recovery Agency for further information. 
  • The State Government announcing exemption to tendering requirements for councils for bushfire recovery and operations contracts, following amendment to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005. These temporary arrangements will save councils time and resources, which is what LGNSW has been urging all levels of government to do. Refer to  Office of Local Government for further information. 
  • The State Government commissioning online donation management platform GIVIT, following urging from local government. Refer to LGNSW media release
  • The Federal Environment Minister issuing an exemption to local councils and State agencies from all provisions of Part 3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity (EPBC) Act. Refer to Office of Local Government for further information.

Additionally, councils have now made more than 400 individual offers of support through the Local Government Bushfire Recovery Support Group. Thank you for this extraordinary effort.

Has Your Council Offered Help?

The Local Government Bushfire Recovery Support Group, a collaboration between LGNSW, the City of Sydney and the Office of Local Government, is gathering offers of help and support from all councils that have not been affected by fires, in response to feedback from bushfire-affected councils. Councils either offering or requesting support have access to information about logistical, WHS and HR matters.

The process of matching requests has begun, with requests from Kempsey and Shoalhaven councils. These requests include the need for event coordinators to organise a thank you for firefighters, and records management staff to retrieve information on destroyed properties, and requests for teams to assist with erosion control and the clearing of burnt trees.

For further information, email Elle Brunsdon, LGNSW Policy Officer.

Please sign up to encourage communities to use GIVIT

Following advocacy from LGNSW, the State Government has commissioned online donation management platform  GIVIT  to help councils make the most of community generosity shown to those impacted by bushfires, ensuring the right goods and services get to where they  are needed, at the right time. Refer to LGNSW media release.

GIVIT is a not-for-profit organisation, the service is free and available to all 128 local councils.

Councils can sign up with GIVIT by email: nsw@givit.org.au or visit www.givit.org.au for information.

What you should do, once you have registered?

  1. Tell your community about GIVIT and direct all offers to www.givit.org.au
  2. Encourage all your local charities and support organisations to register for free at http://givit.org.au/charity-registration so they can access all the goods on offer for the people in your community.

There are many organisations working hard to provide information and resources to bushfire-affected communities in addition to the Office of Emergency Management, including:

  • Economic Development Australia (EDA), which has launched a Bushfire Disaster Resource Hub to help councils rebuild their local economies. The hub includes state and national funding programs, recovery handbooks, toolkits, case studies and a range of webinars.
  • Destination NSW, which has launched an “open for business” package, and Regional NSW has developed a “Buy Regional” campaign.
  • Transport NSW, which is also engaging councils separately regarding accessing various funding available to manage transport infrastructure repairs.

LGNSW Water Conference: Focus on Drought

Because we know there’s many natural disasters occurring right now in NSW, we’re pleased GIVIT is also assisting the NSW Government to co-ordinate donations for drought-affected communities.

I am also pleased to announce that Narrabri Shire Council is set to host the annual Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Water Management Conference from 15–17 July 2020. This event has never been more relevant for councils, and their water utilities, given that 100 per cent of NSW is either in drought, drought affected, or experiencing intense drought. Councillors and general managers, water managers and professionals, policy makers from government agencies and key industry stakeholders from NSW and interstate will be attending. The conference program is still being finalised and will be available at www.lgnsw.org.au/waterconference.

Please Nominate a Great Woman!

I encourage you to celebrate female Councillors and staff who are making their local communities better, by nominating them for the 2020 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government. For further information, email LGNSW Events Team or call 02 9242 4000.