Tuesday, 31 October 2017 10:53

Events: What's on in November

From the NDIS to sustainable housing and urban agriculture learn more about the society we live in with these events.   Local Government Multicultural Network: Inclusive and cohesive communities in NSW conference – 2-3 November, 2017 The Conference brought to you by the Local Government Multicultural Network, in partnership with…
  Cumberland Council is making it easier for parents to keep their kids safe from vaccine-preventable diseases with free Immunisation Clinics offered at Merrylands, Wentworthville and Pemulwuy. The immunisation clinics are held four times each month and are staffed by friendly nurses accredited by NSW Health. Both day and evening…
Monday, 30 October 2017 13:57

Gyms in Parks returns for another lap

  Fairfield City Council’s popular ‘Gyms in Parks’ outdoor exercise program will return this month at St Johns Park oval where outdoor gym equipment was installed in August. The ‘Gyms in Parks’ program will run for six weeks from 24 October 2017, between 9.30am and 10.30am each Tuesday and Thursday.…
Monday, 30 October 2017 13:30

Liverpool furious with new train times

The NSW Government has badly let down Liverpool commuters in a new train timetable which starts in November, Liverpool City Council Chief Executive Officer Kiersten Fishburn said today. Currently, the fastest service to Central takes 49 minutes from Liverpool. When the new timetable takes effect in November, the quickest trip…
  City of Parramatta Council says the second stage of the Parramatta Light Rail will provide a much needed public transport link for existing and future communities in the Parramatta Local Government area and beyond. The NSW Government has announced the nine kilometre preferred route will extend from Carter Street,…
Monday, 30 October 2017 13:25

West best in the environment

  Western Sydney has again shown its strong environmental credentials at the Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Awards this month. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “I would like to congratulate Blue Mountains, Blacktown, Cumberland, Liverpool and Parramatta councils on their award-winning projects. “I would particularly like to…
Monday, 30 October 2017 12:51

Heat strategy a step closer

A solution to Western Sydney’s urban heat problem is a step closer with a second Turn Down the Heat workshop scheduled for November. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “Urban heat is a complex issue with severe and far-reaching consequences for Western Sydney’s people, infrastructure and environment. “Following Turn Down…
After two years of campaigning, WSROC and its member councils have successfully pushed for a more transparent and equitable road network for Western Sydney residents. Following a formal Parliamentary Inquiry, the NSW Government released its report into road tolling on 20th October, 2017. Recommendations from the report include: That the…
Just a few days ago the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) released its eagerly-awaited draft Sydney Region Plan (SR Plan); a vision to 2056. WSROC will be conducting a formal review of the Plan in due course, but I commend the GSC in its efforts to engage with local government and…
Friday, 29 September 2017 10:46

Step up this Walktober

Did you know that Western Sydney has higher rates of preventable chronic disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease? There are a whole range of reasons for this, but one key factor is that we aren’t moving enough on a daily basis. This month is Walktober, the…
We have finally seen an end to the local government amalgamation process with elections for newly formed councils held on 9th September. I would like to congratulate the newly elected councillors for Cumberland and Parramatta, and in particular, Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Cr Andrew Wilson, and Mayor of Cumberland Cr…
From new governance to emerging energy markets, learn more about the society we live in with these free events.   WSROC, SCCG and UNSW: Engaging communities and facilitating change Engaging communities and facilitating change, will explore the latest research on sustainable design, energy efficiency, community engagement and transitioning to a…
Thursday, 28 September 2017 17:22

Blue Mountains to trail water refill stations

Blue Mountains City Council will enter into a partnership with Sydney Water to install eight water bubbler and refill stations to make tap water more accessible in popular public places.  Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said, “The water refill stations will help reduce the environmental impact of drinking bottled water by…
Blacktown City Council has launched a far-sighted plan to build a state-of-the-art Animal Re-homing Centre (ARC); planned to be the most advanced in Australia.  When complete it could accept lost, stray and abandoned animals from up to 15 neighbouring council areas, representing about 1.5 million Sydney residents. Mayor Stephen Bali…
Liverpool’s housing market is booming, with new figures showing 17,750 new homes in the pipeline. “Anyone can see the change happening in Liverpool, with 100 new residents in the council area every week,” said Mayor of Liverpool Cr Wendy Waller. “Many parts of Sydney have basically shut up shop and…
Thursday, 28 September 2017 17:07

Getting the balance right: IHAPS

As I watched the local council elections unfold across the weekend, I found myself considering the new and interesting test we all face as local councillors – the impending Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP) legislation. It raises serious questions around how we can continue to balance our communities’ needs…
WSROC in partnership with Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) and UNSW’s Low Carbon CRC are hosting forum for local government professionals working in the energy efficiency and sustainability sectors. Engaging communities and facilitating change will explore the latest research on sustainable design, energy efficiency and community engagement. The forum will also…
Thursday, 28 September 2017 16:53

West chronicles nightmare commute

Commuters from across Sydney’s outer western suburbs have shared the difficulties of their daily commute during National Nightmare Commute Day on 14th September. The annual campaign is an initiative of the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) to highlight the difficulty experienced by commuters living in rapidly growing suburbs on the…
Thursday, 28 September 2017 16:47

Western Sydney Visitor Economy Strategy released

Destination NSW released its first Western Sydney Visitor Economy Strategy this month, in response to the region’s growing tourism sector. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “It is great to see the NSW Government focus on Western Sydney as a tourism region. We have amazing destinations, natural assets and cultural…
Thursday, 28 September 2017 16:38

Endeavour, councils consult on public lighting

Endeavour Energy and a number of Western Sydney councils came together during September to discuss the maintenance and management of public lighting. Hosted by WSROC, the forum aimed to increase collaboration between Endeavour Energy on a range of issues, including public lighting, main road lighting, new technologies and vegetation management. …
Thursday, 28 September 2017 16:35

Light Years Ahead finalist in Green Globe Awards

WSROC’s energy-saving Light Years Ahead program has been nominated for another award*, being named as a finalist in the Green Globe Awards for environmental sustainability. Managed by WSROC on behalf of nine participating councils, Light Years Ahead was one of Sydney’s largest energy reduction projects. The project replaced nearly 15,000…
Thursday, 28 September 2017 16:26

Cumberland, Parramatta councils elected

After 16 months of administration, the new councils for Cumberland and City of Parramatta have been elected. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “I welcome the newly elected councillors for Cumberland and Parramatta, and look forward to working with their elected representatives to the WSROC Board over the coming year.…
Friday, 01 September 2017 09:48

Sydney's West needs north-south rail

An integrated rail and road plan is needed immediately to support projected growth of one million people says the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC). “Greater Western Sydney is set to absorb two-thirds of Sydney’s population growth by 2036, half of which will occur in the north-south corridor between…
This month delivered the announcement that Western Sydney Airport Co. will be based in the Liverpool CBD. This is fantastic news for the City of Liverpool and the Western Sydney region. It is critical that the company responsible for planning Western Sydney Airport is based in Western Sydney. The move…
Thursday, 31 August 2017 13:36

Events: transport, energy and city shaping

Transport, renewable energy and city shaping are on the agenda at these upcoming free events.   UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures – How new technology can match business energy demand to renewable generation, 19 September 2017 A groundswell of business interest in renewable energy supply is growing, particularly on-site solar…
Thursday, 31 August 2017 12:54

Waste program secures ongoing funding

Western Sydney’s award-winning regional waste program has secured a further four years of funding under the NSW EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “The Western Sydney Regional Waste Strategy has been one of WSROC’s most successful programs, setting the groundwork for a more collaborative,…
Construction has commenced on Western Sydney’s fifth community recycling centre (CRC), due to open in early 2018. Once open, the Hawkesbury Community Recycling Centre will be managed by Hawkesbury City Council through its existing waste management facility at South Windsor. Mayor of Hawkesbury, Mary Lyons-Buckett said “Hawkesbury CRC will provide…
Mayors of five councils in Sydney's West have expressed deep concern at the NSW Government's disappointing reaction to planning future development. This comes shortly after council amalgamation changes and a lack of clarity on the role of local communities in determining future development outcomes in Western Sydney. The Mayors -…
The company responsible for the delivery of Western Sydney Airport will set up shop in Liverpool CBD before the end of the year. “This is the best possible news for Liverpool,” said a delighted Liverpool City Council Mayor Wendy Waller, after the announcement by Paul Fletcher, Federal Minister for Urban…
Thursday, 31 August 2017 12:33

Airport engagement misses the mark

A independent assessment of the community engagement process for Western Sydney Airport has found a significant level of dissatisfaction amongst Western Sydney residents. The findings were released in a joint report from the Western Sydney Community Forum and the University of New South Wales' Centre for Health Equity Training Research…
Thursday, 31 August 2017 12:28

M4 Toll sees 25 percent usage drop

Western Sydney motorists have flocked to Parramatta Road following the introduction of a $4.56 toll on the widened M4. M4 usage was down 25 percent on August 15 as drivers sought alternatives to the $45 a week charge. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “WSROC has been collecting feedback from…
  The new M4 is now open between Parramatta and Homebush.   Are the upgrades saving you time? Are you happy to pay the $4.56 toll? Western Sydney councils want to hear from you.     Simply complete this short survey to help us understand how the M4 upgrade impacts…
And so we begin a new financial year. Reflecting on the last 12 months, it is astounding what WSROC and its councils have achieved together.  From urban heat mitigation to waste infrastructure planning, economic development, and fighting for a more transparent energy market, there are many areas in which Western…
From new Census data to urban planning and emerging energy markets, learn more about the society we live in at these free events.   Western Sydney University: 2016 Census data seminar 1 August, 2017 Find out what the 2016 Census of Population and Housing tells us about ourselves, our communities…
Background As Western Sydney becomes more urbanised, higher density multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) are becoming more commonplace. MUDs present a number of challenges for the provision of local waste services, not least because they produce large amounts of waste in a small footprint. As a more affordable form of housing, MUDs…
Monday, 24 July 2017 12:15

41 tonnes of asbestos collected

The Western Sydney Regional Asbestos Disposal Scheme (WSRADS) has safely disposed of 41 tonnes of asbestos waste from homes across Western Sydney. The NSW EPA-funded program, which ran between January and May 2017, offered Western Sydney homeowners free collection of small amounts of loose asbestos sheeting. WSROC President Cr Stephen…
Monday, 24 July 2017 12:05

WSROC continues fight for fairer tolls

Following its campaign for toll reform in Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has continued its fight for a fairer transport system as part of the Australian Government’s Parliamentary Inquiry into road use charging. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “Around 70 per cent of Greater Western…
Monday, 24 July 2017 11:57

Pet project for Western Sydney

The registration, collection and rehoming of pets is a significant function of many local councils. Western Sydney’s projected population growth combined with increasing pet ownership means that demand for animal holding facilities and related services is expected to increase in future – greatly exceeding the region’s current infrastructure capacity. To…
  Western Sydney received a lot of attention in this year’s NSW Budget. Whether for our city, or Western Sydney specifically, here is a summary of budget items that will impact the region over the next 12 months.   Transport $658.1 million (2017-18) for increased and improved rail services including…
The 2017-18 NSW Budget offered few surprises for infrastructure investment, however there were some great wins for health services and young people. There were few surprises with regards to Western Sydney’s infrastructure program. Roads supporting Western Sydney Airport and the region’s North West, scoping for Western Sydney rail, and planning…
Tuesday, 04 July 2017 09:39

Building liveable cities

Want to learn more about how we can build liveable cities of the future? These free events explore the latest research on urban heat, air quality, urban biodiversity and city living.   University of Sydney: Festival of Urbanism (31 July - 12 August, 2017) Cities are more than their physical and spatial…
A recent survey conducted by NFP Youth Action has asked 18 – 25 year olds across Greater Western Sydney what makes them smile about living in the region. The results are in and the final report shows that Western Sydney is more than just its stereotypes, it is a region…
Monday, 03 July 2017 14:34

Focus on: Parramatta R3 program

Introduction The City of Parramatta R3 program sought to prevent waste and maximise resource recovery and reuse during the relocation of Council’s administration building and library in late 2015.   Background In 2015 City of Parramatta Council announced it would be relocating its main office building and library to make…
Monday, 03 July 2017 14:25

Energy from waste part of bigger issue

Energy from waste technology is currently taking centre stage on the political agenda however, from a regional perspective, it is just a small part of a much bigger issue. With a growing population, Western Sydney’s waste and recycling infrastructure is quickly reaching capacity. Despite being one of society’s most basic…
The results are in. Western Sydney’s roadside litter campaign has successfully driven down litter across the region’s main roads. Working in partnership with Roads and Maritime Services and the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Western Sydney councils delivered a program of coordinated enforcement, roadside litter pick-ups, and marketing activities targeting…
Save the date: Overturning perceptions: migration, renewal and the new Western City Monday 6th June 3.00pm to 5.30pm Blacktown City Council, Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown. Western Sydney is renowned for its multi-cultural social character and as home to the most diverse mix of communities in Australia.  This long-standing diversity has brought…
Monday, 29 May 2017 11:32

Chutes, sharps and solar compactors

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has completed a review of the latest litter infrastructure for public spaces as part of the Western Sydney Regional Waste Strategy. From mobile garbage bins, to self-emptying chute networks all options were weighed and considered. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “Councils…
The Federal Budget identified key projects for Western Sydney, but there is still uncertainty regarding exactly how much money is available for the diverse range of projects our region urgently needs – and an implementation strategy. Most notably, $5.3 billion has been promised for establishing a Western Sydney Airport Corporation…
Monday, 29 May 2017 10:29

Minister Ayres meets WSROC Board

Minister for Western Sydney and WestConnex, the Hon. Stuart Ayres MP, met with Western Sydney councils at the WSROC Board Meeting during May. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “Having a chance to sit down collectively with the Minister for our region was a great opportunity. The group discussed a…
Friday, 28 April 2017 12:08

WSROC supports healthy EP&A review

WSROC has supported the inclusion of a health and community resilience element as part of the review of the NSW Government’s Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. As part of the consultation process for the EP&A Amendment Bill 2017, WSROC’s submission requested that health and community resilience be a central part…
As we come to the end of the first quarter of 2017, it is a good time to look back on the significant amount of activity within Western Sydney, and the programs WSROC is conducting in partnership with its members. Two parliamentary inquiries are currently underway: one into road toll…
Friday, 28 April 2017 09:58

Councils unite before tolling inquiry

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) and Mayors of Penrith and Blacktown were asked to give evidence at a Parliamentary Inquiry into road tolling this month. WSROC has been calling for a review of Sydney’s toll roads since 2015, but in a recent submission, criticised the current Parliamentary…
Friday, 28 April 2017 09:15

Local Government Awards now open

Have you been involved in an outstanding project over the last 12 months? Entries for a number of Local Government Award categories are now open. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “Western Sydney councils have a great history of innovation in a range of areas. I have heard about some…
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 12:53

West to put people back in planning

Over 100 stakeholders from across Western Sydney turned out to plan a more liveable future for Western Sydney this month. A joint initiative of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) and the Western Sydney Community Forum, Planning a liveable Western Sydney sought to gather feedback from Western Sydney’s…
Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and 10 Western Sydney councils will join forces to reduce and prevent roadside litter in Sydney’s West this month. The first-of-its-kind partnership was formed through the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) regional waste strategy following ongoing discussions with state…
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 12:25

Commissioning a greater Sydney

The end of March signals the end of consultation on the Greater Sydney Commission’s draft District Plans, and hopefully, a step towards a more holistic approach to planning Greater Sydney. WSROC commends the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) on its work bringing together the draft Plans. However, more work is needed…
The Australian and NSW Governments have frequently touted the significant potential a Western Sydney Airport creates for the development of the region’s economy and infrastructure, with flow-on effects for the entire Sydney basin. However good outcomes – jobs, economic development and infrastructure – will not just fall into our laps.…
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 14:16

Asbestos collections back by popular demand

One of the greatest challenges facing Western Sydney is the safe management and disposal of asbestos waste. Asbestos building products were used widely across Western Sydney during the post-war housing boom creating what is now known as Sydney’s ‘fibro belt’. By the 1980s almost one third of Western Sydney homes…
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 14:11

Western Sydney planning for people

Sydney’s future is being planned right now, and it is no secret that Western Sydney will be central to the city’s success. But what does this mean for the people of Western Sydney? And how do we ensure that this future is one that improves quality of life for local…
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 14:07

Turning down the heat together

With another month of record heat in February, the Western Sydney Turn down the heat forum could not come soon enough. Turn down the heat will bring together key stakeholders from across Western Sydney to discuss how we can collectively prevent and mitigate urban heat in our rapidly growing region.…
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 12:18

Protecting our precious waste lands

Waste managers, strategic planners and sustainability officers from across 14 Western Sydney councils gathered to hear the Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) plans to future proof Sydney’s waste and recycling needs this month. GSC Environment Commissioner, Roderick Simpson, presented his team’s work mapping existing waste infrastructure and future opportunities in Western…
Tolls have been on the agenda this month with submissions for a Parliamentary Inquiry into tolls closing on February 28th. WSROC is certainly welcoming of the inquiry, following our calls for a review into Sydney’s toll network last year, however WSROC would like to see the inquiry consider more than…
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 14:32

Scorching summer calls for heat-safe planning

Western Sydney summers are hot, and are set to get hotter if a strategic approach to heat mitigation isn’t developed says the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC). WSROC President, Cr Stephen Bali, said “It is no secret that Western Sydney summers are hot, but urbanisation is contributing to…
We have seen one of the hottest Januarys on record, both in weather and politics. We now have the fourth NSW Premier since 2011. NSW Premier, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, has already emphasised her intention to ramp up infrastructure delivery for projects such as hospitals, schools, sports fields and transport…
One of the most diverse local government areas (LGA) in Sydney, Cumberland Council is a popular landing spot for migrants from all over the world.  To ensure that its diverse community is aware of the services Council provides, Cumberland ran a series of multi-lingual workshops.   Background Located on the…
Monday, 30 January 2017 15:28

Cash for cans a step closer

A NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is another step closer with consultation on the draft regulation closing in December. WSROC has been heavily involved in the design and implementation of the Scheme since consultation began in 2015; participating in a number of State Government working groups, and reviewing draft regulation in…
Monday, 19 December 2016 09:25

Focus on: Cool Streets Blacktown

Blacktown City Council’s latest award-winning project, Cool Streets, has seen it move to tackle the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI) with street trees. The Council is ahead of the pack on a range of sustainability issues, including water-sensitive urban design and energy efficiency, but Cool Streets is one of those…
Western Sydney is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in Australia. Consequently, many councils find that engaging with CALD communities is a key element of their communications mix, and a task that is dispersed across a number of departments within council. In recognition of the need to…
Friday, 16 December 2016 11:33

Can an airport be healthy?

  While airports are often thought of as harmful to community health, South West Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) have asked the question ‘How can we ensure that Western Sydney Airport is a world exemplar for supporting healthy communities?’ The first of its kind study, hopes to produce a vision…
Friday, 16 December 2016 11:28

West recognised for environmental excellence

Western Sydney councils picked up 10 awards at the Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Awards this month. Projects spanned a range of categories including asbestos management, climate change action, invasive species management, natural environment protection and waste avoidance and reuse. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “I am…
2016 has been a jam-packed year from start to finish. We saw council amalgamations, federal and local government elections, announcements for museums, hospitals, stadiums and universities, as well as the formation of the Greater Sydney Commission and release of its vision for Sydney. The new year will bring a fresh…
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 16:34

Shop. Cook. Save. wraps up in the West

  WSROC’s popular Shop.Cook.Save. program wrapped up this month with rave reviews from the community. Over the last month, the Shop.Cook.Save. roadshow travelled to events and festivals in throughout the Hawkesbury, Penrith and Blue Mountains. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “These events were very well received by young and…
  WSROC’s President and CEO met with NSW Coordinator General for Refugee Settlement, Professor Peter Shergold, in November to discuss challenges surrounding refugee settlement in Western Sydney. In response to the humanitarian crises in Syria and Iraq, the Australian Government has committed to make an extra 12,000 Humanitarian Program places[1]…
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 16:05

NSW Planning talks waste for medium density

  This month the Department of Planning addressed WSROC’s Waste Planning professional group regarding its draft Medium Density Design Guide and planned changes to the EP&A Act (both of which are currently out for consultation). Western Sydney’s rapid development and increasing residential density has made guidelines surrounding multi-unit dwellings such…
  This month we saw our first glimpse of the Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) draft District Plans for Greater Sydney. Led by Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull, the GSC have taken the pieces of our patchwork city – infrastructure, transport, culture, environment and housing – and worked it into a coordinated…
Thursday, 27 October 2016 15:19

Message from WSROC President; Cr Stephen Bali

It is an honour to have been elected President of WSROC, an organisation with a proud history of achieving results for the people of Western Sydney. In all of WSROC’s 43 years of advocacy, now is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times to be representing the West. All eyes…
Thursday, 27 October 2016 15:06

WSROC councils recognised for excellence

WSROC and its councils have been recognised for some outstanding and innovative programs this month. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali congratulated Western Sydney councils who have collectively received 10 nominations for prestigious awards in a number of sectors. “Western Sydney councils are deservedly being recognised for their outstanding and innovative…
WSROC attended a community consultation regarding street tree trimming run by energy provider Ausgrid this month. The consultation is part of a wider effort by WSROC to work with councils, energy providers and the federal government to look at how tree trimming practices can be improved across the region. The…
Thursday, 27 October 2016 14:42

Shop.Cook.Save. cooks up a storm in Cumberland

WSROC’s Shop. Cook. Save. program cooked up a sustainable storm at the Wentworthville Community Gardens Open Day on October 15. Cumberland residents turned out to see former Masterchef contestant and Western Sydney restaurant owner, Jay Huxley, whip up healthy, low-cost recipes that help minimise food waste in the kitchen. Following…
Thursday, 27 October 2016 14:27

Funding continued for a cleaner NSW

WSROC has welcomed the NSW Government announcement that it will continue funding its Waste Less Recycle More initiative for another four years. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said “We welcome the government’s continuation of funding for another four years and look forward to hearing more detail on the second stage…
Thursday, 27 October 2016 14:09

WSROC welcomes new Board

Blacktown Mayor Cr Stephen Bali was unanimously elected as the new President of WSROC at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Fairfield City Council on Thursday night. The AGM was the first meeting of the Board since the September 10 local government elections, which saw ten new Directors appointed by…
Monday, 26 September 2016 09:37

Step it up - Walktober is coming

Spring has arrived and there’s never been a better time to get walking during the month of October. October is Australia’s walking month. With Western Sydney being recognised as a diabetes and obesity hot-spot, our councils are working hard to promote active transport and exercise. Walking is a great and…
WSROC responded to the NSW Government’s draft Container Deposit Bill 2016 and the accompanying regulatory framework. The submission outlines, among other points, the importance of having the right arrangements in place for the kerbside component of the scheme to ensure that the benefits are passed on to the community. WSROC…
Friday, 23 September 2016 16:58

Jobs report gives insight

The Greater Western Sydney jobs deficit report has confirmed the need for a dedicated, strategic approach to jobs and economic development in the region says the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC). Commissioned by WSROC, the report identifies jobs deficits and surpluses across the region by comparing the resident…
Caring for the environment is high on the agenda at Fairfield City Council. Fairfield City Council’s Sustainable Resource Centre was recently named as a finalist in the NSW Government’s Green Globe Awards this month. The Centre’s entry in the resource efficiency section of the awards outlined its work in recycling…
Friday, 23 September 2016 16:37

WSROC’s leadership on litter recognised

The outstanding work of Western Sydney councils in tackling litter has been recognised with WSROC invited to represent Sydney metropolitan councils at the recent Tidy Roads Summit hosted by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). Following WSROCs valuable contribution at the Summit, WSROC was also selected to represent local councils on…
Friday, 19 August 2016 14:41

Focus on: Cumberland Council Petfest

PetFest is sure to see animal lovers rushing to the stunning Holroyd Gardens on Sunday 11 September 2016, between 10am and 2pm. Compared by popular television personality and renowned dog trainer, Steve Austin, this year’s event will feature high energy Jack Russell racing, a spectacular musical reptile show, fabulous working…
As warmer weather approaches, WSROC’s Shop.Cook.Save. program is ramping up with two cooking demonstrations in September. Delivered by Western Sydney councils, the events will see former Masterchef contestant Jay Huxley deliver free cooking demonstrations to teach residents the benefits of shopping to a list and meal planning for cooking at…
Friday, 19 August 2016 14:18

Luke Foley addresses WSROC Board

Leader of the Opposition and Member for Auburn, the Hon. Luke Foley met with Western Sydney councils at the WSROC Board meeting at Windsor this month to discuss topics ranging from local government reform, to local infrastructure projects, affordable housing and skills shortages. WSROC President Cllr Tony Hadchiti said “It…
Do you have a passion for your community? Do you want to make a difference in your local area? If so, you may be interested in becoming a councillor. The 2016 Local Government Election will be held on 10th September 2016*. Nominations open on Monday 1st August and close on…
Friday, 29 July 2016 14:52

Lighting the way

The Light Years Ahead project has officially wrapped up. The case study Bringing Energy Efficient Street Lighting to Western Sydney (link below) provides a brief overview of the project, which was one of Western Sydney’s largest energy efficiency programs. WSROC hopes this will inspire similar projects across Australia.   The…
 

Introduction

Blue Mountains City Council wanted to go a step further when reviewing its Strategic Waste Action Plan (2005).

In addition to a traditional waste options review, Council sought community input through an extensive consultation and engagement program to ensure the revised strategy met both community and council expectations.

Background

Blue Mountains City Council is a city within a World Heritage Area. The community lives in close proximity to the natural environment and for this reason environmental sustainability is a high priority for Council and its residents.

In 2013, the Blue Mountains sought to revise its Strategic Waste Action Plan (2005) in order meet the future needs of the community, and to align with the City’s 2025 Vision to build a more sustainable Blue Mountains.

A key objective of the revision process was to reduce waste going to the near-capacity landfill site at Blaxland (expected to close by 2030).

Opening a new landfill within the Blue Mountains local government area (LGA) is not possible nor desirable due to the area’s World Heritage status.

Blue Mountains City Council was aware that improved waste practices would require innovative thinking and an increased investment from Council.

It was also apparent that behavioural change from residents would be essential to reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

In the first instance, Blue Mountains City Council undertook a technical waste options review to identify the most appropriate suite of actions and investment to reduce waste being buried at Blaxland and improve the cost effectiveness of waste management for the community.

To compliment the outcomes of the technical review, Council also decided to embark on a community consultation program to gauge resident expectations regarding a new waste service and increase community understanding of local waste management and sustainability issues.

The program: Weigh in on Waste

Blue Mountains City Council contracted a specialist consultant to develop an engagement and consultation program called ‘Weigh in on Waste’.

The aim of this program was to achieve informed involvement from the Blue Mountains community in order to credibly advise the development of Council’s long term waste strategy.

The Weigh in on Waste engagement program had two main objectives:



Community education

•             Educate residents about the need to think strategically about waste and the options available.

•             Inform the community about the operational issues associated with waste management including cost and finite resources.

•             Highlight residents’ individual capacity to reduce waste through behavioural change.

 

Community feedback

•             Establish which aspects of waste management were most important to the community.

•             Gauge respondents’ willingness to deal with certain changes, given that Blaxland landfill will be full by 2030.

•             Gather an indication of how long residents would be willing to wait for a new waste management response, and how much they would be prepared to pay.

 

The consultation was conducted through three key engagement touch points:

•             Survey - online and hard copy offered

•             Three face-to-face workshops

•             Face-to-face at the Springwood Festival


Each of these three touch-points included an educational component, such as a talk or information booklet, followed by an opportunity for participant feedback.

Where face to face engagement was not feasible, a 10 page Weigh in on Waste booklet offered residents information on the need for a long term waste strategy and some of the options available.

Whether completing a workshop or online survey, all Weigh in on Waste participants were asked a number of questions to identify which of the following criteria they considered most important:

•             Technical risk, does the waste management technology have a successful track record?

•             Market risk, is there a viable end market for products produced?

•             Planning risk, is there a suitable site and lead times for approvals?

•             Integration with current waste systems

•             Community convenience

•             Local jobs

•             Long term solution

•             Landfill space saved

 

The Weigh in on Waste consultation was supported by a suite of awareness-raising initiatives, such as flyers, media articles, targeted invitations and a schools awareness program, which encouraged residents to complete the survey or sign up for a workshop.

Following this initial consultation period, Blue Mountains City Council offered residents a further opportunity for feedback in the form of a public exhibition of the draft waste strategy.

Informing the strategy

Following the consultation, data from residents was collated to identify which of the criteria addressed in the consultation were most important to the community.

This community feedback data was then overlaid on the original waste management options review in order to give the raw technical scores for each potential waste option a qualitative weighting.

Using community feedback to weight technical scores allowed waste officers to analyse a range of waste management options and asses their capacity to meet both council and community needs.

The community consultation added weight to the possible introduction of a ‘green bin’ service for garden waste, and reaffirmed the need to continue community education on resource recovery and reuse. 

The community’s preference for long-term solutions and open-mindedness towards cutting-edge waste management methods has also given council staff freedom to explore new partnerships and technologies for the future.

Finally, the community’s willingness to accept a modest fee increase for improved services helped determine which three specific services were put forward as final options to choose from in further communications with every ratepayer and resident.

Learnings from the project

Blue Mountains City Council offers the following advice to others wishing to conduct their own consultation.


Mix it up

Having a variety of engagement options was important for ensuring that all members of the community could participate in the consultation.

As indicated by the chart below, the online survey was by far the most popular option for residents, however it is important to offer other opportunities for engagement in order to capture a good demographic spread of participants.

Future engagement programs in the Blue Mountains will look to adopt a range of engagement methods to suit different members of the community.



Structure is important for results

The Weigh in on Waste workshops were quite structured to ensure that council was able to gather the information it needed on each of the key waste management issues.

A tight structure ensured that discussions stayed on topic and that qualitative data could be easily overlaid on existing quantitative data.


Engaging younger residents can be difficult

73 per cent of residents who participated in the engagement survey were over 46 years of age.

This was not overly surprising as it was expected that waste management would be of higher interest to home owners; a higher proportion of whom are in this age bracket.

Fortunately Blue Mountains City Council’s Youth Council was available to offer feedback on behalf of younger residents.


Incentives may be necessary

In order to ensure responses were received from a wide cross section of the community, Council offered incentives to appeal to ‘unengaged’ members of the community who have less interest in sustainability or waste management issues.

A tablet and shopping gift vouchers were chosen as prizes for this purpose. 

Some criticism was received from more sustainably-minded community members due to the ‘consumerist’ nature of these prizes, however compost bins or native plants would not have been an effective incentive for the target group.


Engaging builds understanding and appreciation

The Weigh in on Waste consultation was a valuable opportunity to engage with the community.

Asking residents to consider what they wanted from council waste services and the real-world cost of this, increased the level of understanding and appreciation of council services.
  The Blue Mountains weigh in on waste - pdf
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