Thursday, 08 December 2022 10:23

President's Message: A Turning Point Featured

WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert WSROC

The last three years have proved unusually challenging for local governments and the communities they serve across Greater Western Sydney.

The citizens of Greater Western Sydney will long recall how unusually intense bushfires, the worldwide Coronavirus emergency, unprecedented floods, and global economic chaos left indelible marks on our communities.

It has been a difficult time.

Yet, notwithstanding such emergencies, our resilient communities have emerged more cohesive, inclusive, and diverse than ever.

And as 2022 draws to its close, there is a real sense that we are reaching a turning point on the way to more sustainable, secure and prosperous futures for the 2,600,000 people of Greater Western Sydney.

In keeping with such optimism, WSROC recently formally adopted a set of Strategic Priorities outlining the organisation’s core work direction and objectives for the period 2022-2026.

Focusing on greater consideration for the most vulnerable in the Greater Western Sydney region, WSROC’s new Strategic Priorities Areas include:

Setting Strategic Priorities the period 2022-2026Supporting vulnerable communities: as a key consideration under all priorities

Financial resilience of councils: to ensure local government can meet community needs

Housing: through leadership on social and affordable housing

Climate change and resilience: addressing emissions reduction; energy efficiency; urban and extreme heat; and coordinated catchment management

Employment: to improve local employment prospects

Transport: a comprehensive, integrated transport network for Western Sydney

Waste management and resource recovery: to assist councils to strategically plan for and deliver more sustainable and affordable waste and recycling services.

Already, significant progress has been made toward achieving those priority objectives.

For example, in collaboration with the Greater Cities Commission and Resilient Sydney, WSROC launched Australia’s first rating tool for heat-resilient urban development – Cool Suburbs.

Cool Suburbs has already been taken up by several developers and WSROC is currently working with partners to expand the Tool for use across all NSW climate zones.

WSROC in partnership with our member councils also developed the Urban Heat Planning Toolkit to assist council planners to integrate urban heat into their LEPs and DCPs.

This is an entirely new area for planning in NSW, and I am proud to say that Western Sydney councils have since delivered the first-ever dedicated urban heat clauses.

The Urban Heat Planning Toolkit received a commendation at the Planning Institute of Australia's NSW Awards for Planning Excellence 2021.

Finally, WSROC wrapped up its award-winning Heat Smart Western Sydney program.

Heat Smart has delivered a Framework that outlines key actions needed to bring heatwave management up to standard with other hazards and has also delivered a suite of community resources available in 10 languages for use by councils, local health districts and community organisations.

And only this month, Heat Smart Western Sydney won the Climate Change Adaptation category of the 2022 Excellence in the Environment Awards.

More recently, WSROC, Resilient Sydney, and the Global Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA) teamed up to present a Global Best Practice Heat Resilience Workshop.

Held at Western Sydney University Parramatta City Campus, the Workshop assembled local and international experts to discuss how cities around the world are tackling the heat resilience challenge, and what lessons can be learned and applied in the Sydney context.

In so many areas, WSROC and our member councils are leading the way in addressing the issues that matter most at the local level.

WSROC is also committed to engage with the new Federal Government and the State Government on matters of concern to the people of Greater Western Sydney.

For example, WSROC has been urging the NSW and Federal Governments to work with the Australian Energy Council to address the energy cost crisis and transport issues impacting Western Suburbs households.

Another initiative coordinated by WSROC this year is the Western Sydney Energy Program, a collaboration between Western Sydney councils that aims to increase opportunities for energy, cost, and emission savings for councils and their communities.

Western Sydney councils have already saved ratepayers tens of millions of dollars – and massively reduced carbon emissions – by working together through WSROC on local sustainable energy projects and by jointly negotiating 100 per cent renewable power purchase agreements with energy providers.

Western Sydney is highly car-dependent and transport makes up around one-third of our region’s total emissions, with passenger vehicles accounting for half of that figure.

Recently, eight Western Sydney councils have joined forces with WSROC on developing a regional Western Sydney Electric Vehicle Roadmap which sets ambitious 2030 targets for transitioning the region to electric transport.

The Roadmap sets the region on the pathway to electrification by transitioning council fleets, implementing charging infrastructure, and identifying opportunities for new investment.

Finally, WSROC’s multi-award-winning Regional Waste Program is entering its ninth year of cross-council collaboration.

From waste education campaigns to strategic research on infrastructure delivery, the Regional Waste Strategy team are constantly working behind the scenes to ensure council waste teams are supported.

Over the past few months, council waste managers and WSROC staff have been working hard to deliver a new Regional Wage Strategy.

There is an enormous amount of other hard work underway to improve the lives of the citizens of this wonderful part of the world, Greater Western Sydney.

So, let’s look forward to the New Year with increased optimism and confidence.

In the meantime, I and all of us at WSROC wish you a safe and happy holiday season.


Barry Calvert

President, WSROC

Last modified on Thursday, 08 December 2022 15:49

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