Far West Initiative
Better Outcomes for local communities into the future
The NSW Government established the Far West Initiative in response to recommendations from the Independent Local Government Review Panel and as part of the Fit for the Future reform package. The Panel identified the need for a new approach to governance in the Far West that would improve service delivery in the region and provide better community outcomes.
The Far West Initiative brings together eight local councils: Balranald, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Central Darling, Cobar, Walgett and Wentworth with the Unincorporated Area, non-government organisations (NGOs) and key government agencies to develop solutions for the unique challenges faced by communities in Far West NSW.
Initially the focus of the Initiative is on ensuring local government is well placed to support and address the unique challenges and complex needs of their local communities, while considering broader reforms needed across all three levels of government in Far West NSW.
Who is leading the initiative?
The NSW Government is committed to collaborating with Far West Councils, community groups and others to explore innovative governance models and ways to deliver quality services and infrastructure to improve outcomes for our communities in Far Western NSW. The Far West Initiative is being led by the Minister for Local Government the Hon. Paul Toole MP.
To support the Initiative, Minister Toole established the Far West Initiative Advisory Committee which has representatives from each Far West council, the regional Aboriginal assembly, NGO service providers, and State and Australian Governments. Former Member for Murray-Darling John Williams is the Chair.
Both the Office of Local Government and the Department of Premier and Cabinet are coordinating the work of the Committee.
What has happened so far?
During late 2014 and 2015, Minister Toole met with key stakeholders to understand the challenges and opportunities for governance and service delivery in the Far West:
- December 2014 - met with councils in Cobar
- February 2015 - local, State and Australian government representatives met
- June 2015 - non-government organisations that deliver services in the area
- November and December 2015 - the project team met with community groups in each of the local government areas.
Common themes from the preliminary consultation are:
Issues and barriers
- Long-term sustainability of local communities and councils.
- High levels of social disadvantage in some communities.
- Economic development including skills development and employment opportunities.
- Duplication, inefficiency and inflexibility in government service planning and delivery.
- Fragile environment and complex land management arrangements.
Strengths and opportunities
- Strong sense of and commitment to local community.
- Clear understanding of local needs and challenges.
- Established local and regional networks and informal relationships between organisations.
Designing the future
- Strong regional leadership.
- Improved and evidence-based strategic and operational planning.
- Greater coordination and collaboration across different levels of government, and reduced duplication.
- Local engagement, design and delivery.
- Supported by technology.