Joint Organisations (JOs) provide a new way for local councils and the NSW Government to work together to deliver things that matter the most to regional communities. They represent a commitment to collaborate in the long term to develop and support a shared vision for the region.
It is anticipated that JOs will be enabled through changes to the Local Government Act and other relevant legislation in 2016. Prior to legislative change, a pilot program with five regional JOs is operting to test and refine the JO model. The Illawarra Pilot JO (IPJO) is one of the five pilots.
The Municipality of Kiama, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wollongng City Councils will be members of the IPJO. As a result Bega Valley Shire Council and Wingecarribee Shire Council have given notice of withdrawal from SCG from 30 June 2015, although they will continue to be involved in some current programs and it is expected and hoped that they will continue to engage with the IPJO on matters of mutual interest.
The core functions of the IPJO will be regional strategic planning, inter-governmental collaboration and regional leadership and advocacy. The IPJO has also included functions of creating or enhancing regional strategic capacity and undertaking some regional service delivery.
A review of Councils and other agency economic strategies was commissioned by IPJO to inform its strategic planning and a copy of this report is also available below.
The NSW Government will contribute $300,000 to the establishment of each pilot JO, including the Illawarra.
The IPJO has prepared a succinct Statement of Regional Priorities and adopted a Charter. These can be viewed below. The current Chairman of SCG, Councillor Gordon Bradbery, has been elected for the duration of the pilot and interim operations until enablement and Kiama Council will remain managing Council for the same period.
It is agreed that the JOs will not impose significant red tape or cost, and will not be a fourth tier of government.
Transition planning from Southern Councils Group to the IPJO is now underway to support a 30 June 2015 changeover.
The Southern Councils Group was orginally develped from the Illawarra Region of Councils (IROC) which evolved in 1985 and operated until 2004. An even earlier grouping of Councils, the Illawarra Regional Organisation (Region 11), commenced in 1975 and operated until 1979.
All these organisations had a common theme, that of a voluntary association of Local Government Authorities that work together, to promote and foster the sustainable develpment of the Illawarra and South Coast regions, by building on the unique and diverse economic, natural and cultural heritage through member council coopertaion.
Member Councils currently include Bega Valley Shire, Kiama Municipal, Shellharbour City, Shoalhaven City, Wingecarribee Shire and Wollongong City Councils.
The member councils nominate their Mayor or an Administrator and another Councillor to the Board of SCG. Staff are employed by Kiama Council, the managing Council, and a Secretariat office is maintained in Kiama.
The Group draws heavily on the skills and resources of its member Councils staff to undertake joint initiatives and also works to prevent duplication of effort where possible. The Strategic Plan acts as a framework for activity with annual priorities established to guide current work.
Both State and Federal Governments work with groups of Councils, such as SCG, as an efficient way to consult, plan and deliver services.