Mayoral Minutes 2023

1.  Wins and Plans

Date: 14 February

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

I want to start by welcoming everyone back for what I know will be a very exciting and successful 2023. Strong Start to 2023 It was a busy break but much quieter than in previous years. We have been lucky with the weather and had some very successful events, including the New Year’s Eve and Australia Day celebrations.

Both events were held in Koshigaya Park and attracted records crowds of approximately 18,000 for New Year’s Eve and 5,000 for Australia Day. With successful and entertaining fireworks from the Bradbury, a packed line up of entertainment and activities and record crowds it was a great opportunity for our community to come together.

I also had the privilege of presenting Australian Citizenship to 85 of our residents on Australia Day, and announced the recipients of this year’s Australia Day Awards. The following residents were recognised for their passion and ongoing contributions to Campbelltown:

  • Brial Laul, Citizen of the Year
  • Kyla Hodges, Young Citizen of the Year
  • Horizon Youth St Andrews, Community Group Initiative of the Year
  • Reece Riley, Disability and Inclusion Award
  • Deb Evans-Clark, Environmental Citizen of the Year
  • Lachlan Arbuckle, Sportsperson of the Year

This week we received the exciting news that we have been successful with our application for state funding for city-shaping community projects to the value of $145 million. This announcement represents the most significant single investment by any government in the Campbelltown LGA for a very long time, if not, for all time. This investment is on top of the $26.6million Council Allocation Round late last year, that we equitably distributed across the Local Government Area with 11 projects across 21 locations.

I acknowledge the enormous efforts of the Council Officers who worked tirelessly to prepare the applications for these projects. I also recognise our partners and community who have contributed to our success. I will address the detail of this significant investment in its own Mayoral Minute, but it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge and thank the NSW Government for such a significant investment in our area.

These investments will bring to life a number of city-shaping projects, such as the Campbelltown Arts Centre expansion and other important projects that will enhance our community infrastructure and benefit the long term social and economic development of our city.

This investment comes in addition to another $8,605,203 that has been announced this week under the Regional and Local Roads Repair Program for us to continue our repairs to our road network impacted by recent weather events. This was in response to our joint advocacy program with other councils experiencing similar impact. 

Highlights of Achievements in 2022

Last month I promised to update everyone on some of our work during 2022.

In the development space, Ingleburn CBD Planning Proposal received favourable a Gateway Determination and is now on public exhibition, and we launched the Campbelltown CBD LEP review. We approved 290 development applications out of the 361 we determined and provided 1,421 occupation certificates for new dwellings in our city. Also, I am pleased to advise of the approval of the $500m Macarthur Gardens North development to be undertaken by Landcom adjacent to Macarthur Station as well as the approval and commencement of the $50m Genesis Care Cancer Therapy Centre on Hurley Street.

We have funded 37 businesses in Campbelltown and Ingleburn to revitalise their shopfronts and our teams cleaned 2496 graffiti incidents.

Our facilities have received record visitation, with more than 1.011million people, including the Campbelltown Arts Centre, which welcomed 57,519 visitors, and our libraries, which welcomed 244,000 people in 2022. We provided care for 1,200 individual children through our childcare services and had 4,200 swim school enrolments, delivering 44,269 swim school classes and hosting 83 schools' swimming carnivals. We also had more than 120,000 people attend the Campbelltown Athletics Centre, covering 103 school carnivals, and 1,500 members obtained fitness memberships at our gyms.

We welcomed a total of 1552 new Australian in 2022, of which 307 were from an Indian background, 159 from a Nepalese background, 158 from a Filipino background, 151 from a Bangladeshi background and 101 from a Pakistani background, with an average age of 34 years.

We have replaced approximately 2680 lineal metres of footpaths at over 600 individual locations across the Local Government Area and have replaced 2580 lineal metres of kerb and gutter at over 480 locations. We repaired 6,561 individual potholes and 6152m2 of heavy patching road repairs. We also completed 7km of road renewal, including Airds Road, Eagle Vale Drive, Leumeah Road, The Kraal Drive, Parliament Road and Aero Road.

We purchased a range of new equipment to make our operations more efficient and effective including a mini street sweeper, high pressure hot water washing truck, wing mower and 5.5 tonnes excavator and beaver tail truck. We have also replaced aged equipment including trucks for tree crews, drainage, concreting and mowing, various mowing attachments and mowing trailers. In total, we have invested approximately $1.8m in plant and equipment to continue our city maintenance.

Our teams mowed approximately 63.6 million m2 of turf, the equivalent of 6360 football fields and pruned, weeded, and hedged approximately 2.6 million m2 of garden areas, the equivalent of 260 football fields.

We collected 3,067,947 general waste bins, 1,388,500 recycling bins and 876,448 organic garden bins. We also emptied 23,244 bins from our public domain and undertook 66,689 kerbside clean-ups. Overall, we collected approximately 81,500 tonnes of residential waste and diverted approximately 29,100 tonnes of waste from landfill with the help of the recently opened and extremely popular Community Recycling Facility in Hepher Road, Campbelltown.

Council opened the Ingleburn Mountain Bike Trail, a 770-metre loop featuring jumps, drops, rock gardens, berms, and balance beams for beginner and intermediate bike riders. It is the first of its calibre for Campbelltown and is already becoming a popular destination. Upgrades were completed, Memorial Park upgrades and lighting upgrades at Bradbury Oval, Seddon and Kennett Parks.

In advocacy, we wrote over 180 letters to Ministers and Shadow Ministers making representations on critical issues for Campbelltown and, as I highlighted previously, engaged in 41 meetings with Ministers, Shadow Ministers and Members of Parliament across both NSW and the Commonwealth. We secured a total of $51,562,091 in grants from the NSW Government, including the council-allocated round of WestInvest, during 2022.

Ongoing advocacy

While Campbelltown is grateful for the funding we received for our important community infrastructure from the WestInvest program and other grants, we will continue our advocacy program for our Community and Justice Precinct.

We cannot ignore that in 2020-21 Sydney’s West (including Campbelltown, Penrith and Parramatta) had the lowest trial finalisation rate for all NSW Courts, with only 39% of all trials reaching a verdict within 12 months. The Campbelltown court facilities need to triple in size to meet our current demand, and we are one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia.

Council has undertaken significant work and investment to develop the master plan for the promised development, committing $ 2.4 million to inform our investment in the Precinct and undertake comprehensive consultation with the community on the plan. Campbelltown City Council worked cooperatively with the Governments to finalise a strategic business case for the precinct by May 2021.

We must recognise the importance of the Community and Justice Precinct in job creation in the area. With the precinct comes more judges, barristers, solicitors, supporting workers, and public sector jobs, and all other industries and activities supporting the day to day functioning of a justice precinct. This means a significant increase in the high-value jobs that make up a legal ecosystem and, of course, all of the secondary jobs such an ecosystem will attract, like coffee shops, retail and restaurants etc.

I again want to extend our call on all contenders for the NSW Government to commit to funding the court redevelopment that would underpin the Community and Justice Precinct.

Community Engagement 

I have previously spoken of my commitment to authentic community engagement and using evidence to support the decisions of Council and I have asked the General Manager to embed this through both process and practice. Building on the recent Campbelltown 2022 report, planning has commenced on an engagement program to hear from the community on their ideas to realise the bold ambitions of our future city.

On 14 March 2023, we will facilitate the first activity – a forum of community leaders and progressive thinkers in Campbelltown’s community who are invested in its future, to share thoughts, knowledge and big ideas, and to help inform Council's future plans. A series of broader community forums will follow over the coming months.

2.  Our Shared Future Forum

Date: 14 March

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

On this day, 14 March, in 1879, the Campbelltown Progress Committee held its first meeting to discuss local issues. The Committee was attended by approximately 70 citizens. They resolved for the creation of a Local Government District and they committed to partitioning the NSW government to create Campbelltown Council.

Today, 144 years later, stakeholders gathered again at our Campbelltown Arts Centre to discuss local issues and contribute to “Our Shared Future”.

While this Council has set an ambitious vision for the future of our city, we are limited in our ability to envision or deliver on this vision alone. We need our community to help shape the vision and assist in its delivery. Today’s forum was the first of what I hope to be an ongoing dialogue with our residents and stakeholders.

The participants today spoke up and shared their ideas. We had robust discussions on a variety of topics including our built and natural environment, social infrastructure and amenity, and local employment and prosperity.

I was encouraged by the engagement in the room, facilitated by global cities expert, Dr Tim Williams. There was a clear sense of optimism in the room and there was a shared belief that Campbelltown is on a trajectory to a bright future.

The discussion particularly highlighted the importance of balancing the built and natural environment and getting the mix between density and green space right. Jobs and infrastructure, local facilities and regional amenities were some of the topics that were also discussed.

Our participants shared their ideas, visions, and experiences with us.  I look forward to sharing the details with you as we distil what we’ve heard. 

I also look forward to more forums to engage with the Councillors and the community as we continue to develop Our Shared Future.

3. WestInvest and Election Promises

Date: 14 March

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

Over recent weeks, Campbelltown has received record-breaking funding allocations from the NSW Government and significant election promises from all sides of politics.  We have been able to secure many of the commitments we sought as part of Our Call to NSW Government for Support, as well as a significant number of projects that we have worked on as a city, and collaboratively with the Macarthur Mayors.

In total, at the time of publishing this Minute, I am pleased to report that Campbelltown has received approximately $410 million in recently committed funding from the NSW Government. This includes $26.615 million of WestInvest funding through the Council Allocation, $145.6 million through the WesInvest Competitive Round, WestInvest NSW Agency funding of $200 million for the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan (considered as $100million to Campbelltown as the Gardens are shared between Campbelltown and Camden Local Government Areas) and $243 million for Health Hubs at Glenfield and Liverpool (assumed $121.5 million shared equally between the Hubs).

In addition to this WestInvest funding, we have also received $8.6 million for road surface repairs which I have previously highlighted, $5 million for enhancements to Bob Prenter Reserve, Macquarie Fields, $450,000 for library improvements, $772,000 for drainage upgrades at Eschol Park Sports Complex, $270,000 for drainage upgrades at Raby Sports Complex, and various other smaller grants for community facilities and projects totalling $589,000.


As part of WestInvest’s Council Allocation we were successful in securing $26.6 million which I have spoken about previously. We put forward the following projects to be delivered under this fund:

  • Campbelltown City Centre Transformation Project: revitalising the Queen Street precinct creating new pedestrian friendly spaces and public areas for events and activities through improvements. Works will include creation of a permanent event-ready space at the top of Lithgow Street, additional planting, sculptural play elements and gardens amenities.
  • Macarthur Recreation Trail: creation of a 2.85km long wide multi-purpose recreational trail extending from the Australian Botanic Garden, through Macarthur Heights, to Campbelltown Train Station.
  • Town Centre Beautification and Public Art in Glenfield Town Centre: delivering a series of public domain works that aim to revitalise Glenfield Town Centre, creating a more accessible, functional, safe and engaging place that contributes to the overall liveability of Glenfield including new paving, traffic works, street furniture, trees, landscaping and public art.
  • Connected Campbelltown: providing a network of shared use pathway links and circuits to promote physical and recreational activities at four sites:
    • Wood Park, Ingleburn
    • Jackson Park, Woodbine
    • Thomas Acres and Cleopatra Reserve, Rosemeadow
    • Abington Reserve, Glen Alpine.
  • Hurley Park – Early stories of Campbelltown’s Resilience: restoring heritage features (Cattle Tank, Spillway, Reservoir Wall and Silt Traps), provide signage and public art, incorporating new landscape elements such as planting, paving and furniture, and enhancing the accessibility and amenity of the park.
  • Simmos Beach Parklands – Activating the Upper George’s River: providing amenity upgrades including park furniture and car parking, improving the footpath network, new viewing decks, signage, trees and landscaping.
  • Kanbyugal Parklands – Mountain Bike Park: converting this underutilised 4.53km long centrally located site into an accessible, sanctioned and fully functioning mountain bike facility providing beginner and intermediate level trails including wayfinding and signage, furniture and landscaping.
  • Leumeah Youth Precinct: adding new recreational facilities catering for a broader cross section of our youth community, to the existing Leumeah Youth Precinct’s site, including: new bouldering wall, multi-use courts, learn to ride track, integrated artwork, repairs to existing skate park facility, and upgraded furniture and shelters.
  • Glenfield Urban Bike Park: leveraging existing infrastructure in Seddon and Kennett Park to broaden the recreation offer and provide more opportunities for wheeled sports enthusiasts including new bike park (hybrid pump track), pavements, drainage, furniture, signage and landscaping.
  • St Helens Park Youth Space: leveraging existing active and passive recreation opportunities in the reserve to create a multi-use, youth orientated, play space with an urban bike park suitable for all rider levels, ages and abilities.
  • Outdoor Fitness Facilities Program – for a fitter, healthier Campbelltown: delivering new/upgraded outdoor fitness facilities at:
    • Marsden Park, Campbelltown (upgraded)
    • Eagle Farm Reserve, Eagle Vale (new)
    • Clematis Reserve, Macquarie Fields (upgraded)
    • Ophelia Reserve, Rosemeadow (new)

    Within the WestInvest competitive round, we applied for a significant amount of projects. We were successful in securing funding of approximately $145.6 million for the following projects:

    • $79 million for the Campbelltown Arts Centre Expansion including a new circa. 350 seat theatre with facilities and dressing rooms, new rehearsal spaces, educational workshop areas and community facilities, dedicated storage for our art collection, commercial spaces and conference facilities.
  • $18 million for the replacement of Railway Parade Bridge, Glenfield to improve the bridge capacity, particularly for bus transport and flow of the Bunbury Curran Creek underneath. 
  • $16.7 million for the Sports and Health Centre of Excellence at Campbelltown Sports Stadium to provide programs supporting talent development pathways for athletes into elite sport through innovation in sports science and research programs. This project will be delivered in collaboration with our funding partners: Western Sydney University and the Australian Government, working together with key stakeholders.
  • $2.8 million for an amenities upgrade at Eschol Park Sporting Complex including amenity improvements, spectator seating, storage facilities and change-rooms.
  • $6.5 million for Dharawal Nature Playspace located at Simmos Beach Reserve, Macquarie Fields, to provide a regional-level nature-themed playspace including water elements, furniture and public art.  This project will be delivered in partnership with the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council.
  • $9.4 million for Campbelltown Health and Education Precinct (CHEP) Connectivity, Wayfinding and Identity Project to improve access to walking and cycling facilities within the precinct, through public domain improvements, active transport infrastructure upgrades and signage between key facilities within the CHEP including the Western Sydney University campus, Campbelltown Hospital, Clinical School and Macarthur Square.
  • $4.2 million for a Multipurpose Community Facilities Hub providing commercial grade community kitchen, food storage, shower and laundry facilities, office spaces and outdoor garden spaces to enhance our community’s resilience in times of flood, fire, heatwaves, pandemics or other stress events.
  • $1 million for Minto Multicultural Community Centre Enhancement increasing our capacity to provide storage and distribution of food to communities in need, shower and laundry facilities for isolated/homeless community members, meeting rooms for financial/counselling support services and other targeted programs.
  • $4.9 million for Ingleburn Town Centre Transformation Project to extend upon recently completed stage 1 projects, including the creation of a civic, green space, event space, resurface road, footpath upgrades, lighting, public art and street furniture.
  • $3 million for Gordon Fetterplace Aquatic Centre Upgrades including extension of the grandstand seating area, shade structures and modernisation of the café space.

    There is a significant number of projects in the WestInvest program. In preparation for the delivery, Council established a dedicated Project Management Office within Council’s structure late last year to ensure it is appropriately resourced. Council Officers continue to work tirelessly to develop the overall program and specific project plans to ensure the delivery of these projects are on time and on budget. We will be sharing this information with the Council and the community as they are developed and as we start finalising the funding deeds with the NSW Government.

    Election Promises

    As we approach the NSW election on 25 March 2023, both sides of politics continue to announce important projects for our region, and our city. Most significantly, at the time of publishing this Minute, we have received bipartisan commitment to the following major projects, which the Macarthur Mayors have strongly advocated for:

    • Rapid Bus services from Campbelltown, Liverpool and Penrith to Western Sydney International Airport.
    • A business case into the metro connection from Campbelltown-Macarthur to Western Sydney International Airport. This is in addition to the business case that is currently under development for the connection between Western Sydney International Airport and Glenfield.

The Coalition has further promised a business case into the metro connection from Glenfield to Bankstown to connect to the Sydney Metro South West (under construction, due for completion in 2024), which would then complete a full metro connection from Western Sydney International Airport to Sydney, via Bankstown. In my capacity as the Chair of The Parks Mayoral Forum, I have written to the Opposition encouraging them to continue with the commitment, as it has a significant impact, not only on our residents, but on our fellow Western Parkland City councils.

The Coalition has also promised to investigate the feasibility of specialist Domestic and Family Violence Courts in NSW. I have written to the NSW Government proposing that Campbelltown would be an ideal location to pilot such Courts. 

Labor have also made a number of election promises that will positively impact Campbelltown, including the commitment of $3 million to establish a Georges River Koala Hospital and the conversion of Eagle Vale High School into a sports high school. This is in addition to candidates’ commitments including train timetable review of the Campbelltown to Parramatta connection to consider restoration of the direct line, and various station upgrades including a lift at Macquarie Fields train station.

NSW Labor have announced their commitment to developing Manufacturing Centres of Excellence within Western Sydney. I have written to the Opposition Leader proposing Campbelltown Local Government Area as an ideal location for such a Centre. This proposition has been supported by Mr Greg Warren MP, Member for Campbelltown.

We continue to advocate for the government’s investment in major projects that are not yet committed, including redevelopment of the NSW Courts within the Community and Justice Precinct, major road delivery, and Stage 3 of Campbelltown Hospital, to support our growth.

I encourage everyone to keep up to date with any further commitments made in the lead up to the election later this month.

On behalf of myself and the City of Campbelltown, I would like to wish all candidates the best of luck in the upcoming election. We are looking forward to working with the successful candidates and NSW Government, regardless of political persuasion, for the benefit of our residents. 

4. Thank you for Supporting the Charity Gala Dinner

Date: 14 March

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

On Saturday 4 March 2023, over 250 people enjoyed the Mayor’s Charity Gala at Ottimo House.

The recipient of all funds raised through the Mayor’s Charity Gala Dinner 2023 was the Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre (MCTC).  This year marks the 20th anniversary since the opening of the MCTC at Campbelltown Hospital. Since that time, the MCTC has been providing exceptional care to the people of the Macarthur region. In 2022, there were over 2,500 new cancer consultations seen at the MCTC and over 100,000 episodes of care provided to a member of our community. I am honoured to support this worthy cause.

The MCTC hoped to raise sufficient funds to purchase a scalp cooling machine (valued at $47,750) and new chemotherapy chairs (approximately $8,200 each) to help improve the experience of those undergoing cancer treatments and increase the MCTC’s capacity.

I’d like to acknowledge Charter Hall: Campbelltown Mall, who were the platinum sponsors of the event. Thank you also to our gold sponsors: Macarthur FC, Menangle Park: Dahua Group, Mir Group, our silver sponsors: Cameron Brae Group, Cabra-Vale Diggers and Marsdens Law Group, and our bronze sponsor: Western Sydney University.

I am incredibly humbled by your support. Together, we raised more than $76,000 (at the time of print), an incredible result for the Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre. I look forward to joining with some of our sponsors in the coming weeks to formally present the funds raised to this year’s recipient.

5. Our Community's Social Connections

Date: 11 April

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

Season’s Greetings

This month is considered one of the holiest or most blessed months on the religious calendar for many of our people of faith. At the time of writing this Minute, many significant religious festivals have either begun, or will take place in the coming weeks.

This week, Lent will come to an end and Christians will celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those of Christian Orthodox faith will celebrate Holy Friday and Pascha (Easter Sunday) the following weekend.

This week also marks the start of the Jewish Passover, the first and most significant of the Jewish pilgrim festivals.

People of the Muslim faith are already well into their observance of Ramadan – a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer, with Eid Mubarak marking the conclusion of the holy month later this month.

The diversity that exists within our community is one of its many strengths. It is through the generosity of the many cultures that call our city home - who share their customs and traditions so we may learn from each other - that will strengthen us as a city and continue to bring us closer together.

I would like to wish all of those in our community who are celebrating or reflecting during this important month, a blessed and harmonious time with family or those important to them.

Social Activities

Over the past year, our focus has been on improving our city's built environment. We have conducted reviews, developed policies, and advocated for physical and social infrastructure investments. Our efforts have yielded positive outcomes, such as securing funding for projects and business cases like connecting the Western Sydney Airport to Campbelltown and to Glenfield. We also have been successful in receiving $172 million dollars towards local initiatives including projects such as Campbelltown Arts Centre and major town centre upgrades at Glenfield, Ingleburn and Campbelltown, and a range of recreational assets for our community.

We are currently working on developing a new Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and engaging with stakeholders to ensure we continue progressing the city’s development in line with our residents’ aspirations. Our ideas and efforts continue to be translated into policies and procedures that will guide the stable and prosperous development of our city and ensure our growth occurs in a socially and environmentally sustainable direction within the legal framework allocated to us by the NSW Government.

Development approval for our projects and for private developments will begin to materialize, providing residents with new spaces to enjoy. While I believe that we must and will continue to prepare the city for our residents, it may be time to focus our attention on another important dimension of our city’s evolution, our social activities.

While I am sure, some of you will have different perspectives regarding the role of the Council in developing and undertaking social activities, I am sure we will all welcome the opportunity to debate some of these issues and set forward a shared understanding for our Council.

It would be reasonable to start by sharing my thoughts.

I believe that Council has an important role in empowering community members to establish and develop activities that are dear to their hearts, but should not lead or organise these activities. Council should always provide a platform for self-expression and social interactions, by providing welcoming and suitable spaces, by providing an easy to navigate application and approval process, and sometimes by providing financial support or incentives to help these activities start and take shape.

We do this now. For example, in the last few weeks, Council staff have worked tirelessly to convert our sporting grounds from summer to winter sport. Council does not organise football competitions or rugby league matches, we leave that to the many dedicated volunteers within our range of sporting clubs operating our LGA.  These volunteers engage with their clubs and lead organisations to bring activities that form an important part of our community’s sporting lives.

Another more recent example is the Campbelltown markets, originally established due to a motion by Councillor Oates.  Council began organising the markets, but with community support it has now taken on a life of its own. The markets are now run completely by a private operator that undertakes the work each market day, for the community to enjoy.

There are many examples we can give, but I think these illustrate the point.

In regards to social activities, I believe that there are three questions we should turn our minds to:

  • What activities does the community want and need?
  • How suitable are our current spaces for these activities?
  • Are Council’s policies to enable these activities competitive and equitable?

The first question, I believe is not for us to answer. The Council should not be playing favourites or listening to noisy groups. Our community knows what they like best, and given the right framework and policy settings, I’m sure they’ll be able to put forward a strong program for all of us to enjoy.

On the question of the suitability of our spaces, Council has many great spaces for our community to utilise including our libraries, Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Athletics Centre and Koshigaya Park. Some of these spaces are currently planned for upgrades and improvement. Others, like the Billabong Parklands are due for completion later this year and will increase the range of activities available to our community.

Based on community feedback, I have previously asked the General Manager to investigate other suitable outdoor spaces for festivals, and I am sure this will be coming to the Council for consideration in the near future. 

Council has 27 community halls and centres. The question of the suitability of these halls for modern day activities has been raised with me a number of times. To get a better understanding of the quality and suitability of these spaces, I have asked the General Manager to instigate an audit to see if our indoor community infrastructure meets our growing community’s needs.

The third question is whether our policy setting competitive and equitable. I must admit, this area of policy is not within my area of expertise, but I’m sure, with the help of Council staff and Councillor’s contribution, we’ll be able to work together to achieve the best outcome for our residents.

Council staff are currently reviewing the enabling policy framework that includes the Sponsorship Policy, City Attraction Policy and any supplementary procedures and standardised tools to ensure that community events are easy to undertake, that we’re competitive with other Councils that encourage those activities, and that they’re equitable across the range of our residents’ interests. 

Supporting Our Most Vulnerable

As a Council, we have a moral, if not a legal, responsibility to support those that are most vulnerable in our community. Earlier this term, we adopted a Resilience Hazard Assessment, which outlines the shocks and stresses that can impact our City and our community. The Resilience Hazard Assessment is supported by 42 actions that seek to embed resilience by strengthening partnerships so that together we can all thrive.

We will continue to look at our city’s needs and will develop, review and commence strategies that support our community’s most vulnerable, in times of need.

There are two initiatives that we are currently working on: Youth Mental Health and You Are Not Alone Campbelltown.

Mental health is an emerging as an issue in Australia, and with our relatively young population in Campbelltown, we should be active in supporting our young people and their mental health. Council is investigating a partnership with the Sebastian Foundation who has a mission to give young Australians the resilience and confidence they need to grow and be their best. The Sebastian Foundation works with ‘Open Parachute’ , a program that uses clinically validated, research-based, psychological skills-building exercises to boost resilience, self-awareness and social responsibility in students, and to increase their connection and systems of support. The Sebastian Foundation funds this program into schools who are keen to make a change for their students and give them the tools they need to grow up to health and happy.

The other initiative that we’re currently investigating is You Are Not Alone Campbelltown. This idea came as a result of discussion with NSW Police, the Domestic Violence Advocacy Service, and other youth representatives in the area. These representatives identified that it is not an easy task locating the services and resources available to those who are in need of support within our community.

The idea of a centralised location that collates all of the information about our support networks and services, will be of value to the community. Such allocation could be as simple as a website with a list and links to different providers, or a hard copy brochure of services available within our LGA. While I understand that there is a complexity to getting the information together, and resources for maintaining it, I believe that it is something worth investigating and testing.

If successful, I’m sure it will find a life and funding of its own. Our staff will consult with the NSW Police and other relevant organisations and put forward the best option for Council to consider in the near future.

Of course, these are not the only matters that we are facing. There are much more that we need to consider and I hope to talk about that in an orderly fashion over the coming months, as we come to understand the strategic direction of the new Government.

New NSW Government

I would like to start by congratulating everyone on a successful election. The people of New South Wales have made their decision clear, and have chosen to retain some local Members of Parliament, and replace others. This is a testimony to our stable political system and the importance that representative governments play in our lives.

I want to take this opportunity to first wish our former local MPs and government Ministers all the best in their next endeavour. I’d also like to congratulate all of our new and returning MPs in their convincing election victory. I look forward to working with them and the NSW Minns’ Government for the benefit of our community.

As the new Government settles in and new Ministers are announced, I will be seeking to engage with them on some of the issues, hopes and inspirations of our community as we have with the previous government. 

6. Strengthening our Protocols

Date: 9 May

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

Strengthening our Protocols

As we continue to develop and grow as a city and community, we must continue to develop and grow as a Council and organisation. We have started a steady journey of internal renewal of our policies and procedures to ensure we apply best practices to everything we do, and maybe even become the standard that others apply.

Over my term as Mayor I have identified a number of areas where we can improve our approach, or position ourselves for the future. I have called for a number of policies to be created or refined that will support us in these endeavours with many of these having already come to the Chamber, or will in the coming months. Some of these include:

  • strengthening our Community Engagement Strategy through the initiation of a number of focussed community and stakeholder forums;
  • advocacy campaigns to attract investment in our city;
  • review of strategic planning to align our city planning controls with the residents’ vision for our city;
  • public space infrastructure review and action plan;
  • a range of policies that support our investment in our community’s resilience;
  • review of event enabling policy framework including City Attraction and Sponsorship; and
  • an audit of indoor community infrastructure to ensure it meets our growing community’s needs.

There’s a number of key policies and initiatives that we need to address to ensure we manage and maintain our organisation’s strong reputation.

We must always give priority to developing and advancing our governance framework to ensure that we maintain the trust of our residents. As such, I will deal with some key priorities in this month’s Minute.

Mayoral Office Protocols

The first policy I believe we need to establish deals with functions, festivities and invitations. Currently Council receives endless invitations to attend functions and events. The process relies on the Mayor of the day accepting or rejecting the invitation, with recommendations from the staff. If the invitation is accepted, we proceed to attend or purchase tickets to attend an event.

There are several issues with the current system:

By attending these events, I understand that I’m not endorsing the event or the host organisation, but rather taking part in our city’s festivities and sharing in our community’s joy in a particular occasion. I acknowledge, however, that other people and organisations may perceive it differently. It has become apparent that we as a Council, and I as the Mayor, need to undertake a level of due diligence and assurance before accepting any invitation to events or festivities in my formal capacity, as it may imply a level of support for the event and the host organisation.

As such, I have asked the General Manager to investigate and develop a public Mayoral Office Protocol policy that includes the process for assurance and the level of due diligence that will be undertaken for acceptance of attendance at events and the level of involvement of the Mayor and/or the Mayor’s delegate at such events. Any events which the Mayor is invited to, may require a risk profile.

This is not intended to limit the Mayor of the day on what they choose to attend. Any attendance by the Mayor should remain at the Mayor’s absolute discretion. This is an attempt to clarify the process, minimise the organisational risk, and give the public a clear indication of how we choose to undertake such activities.

Attending external functions is an honour conferred upon us as Councillors as part of our civic responsibility. These opportunities are offered to Councillors on a ‘first in, first served’ basis.

To ensure that the attendance of Councillors at events is not adversely impacted and is equitable, I think all Councillors should be given an opportunity to select their preferred event and attend whatever they consider to be more important, within a specified limit.

This policy will also provide us with an opportunity to clearly articulate the role of the Mayor, to formalise some of the current practises and crystallise the Mayor’s and the Mayor’s delegate’s role and responsibilities when representing the Council.

Award Recipients

The other policy that I would like to discuss today came as a recommendation from some prominent members of our community. How Campbelltown advertises, promotes and selects its awards and award winners should be expanded to include more community engagement.

We have been very successful in utilising the skillsets of our kind residents who continue to volunteer their time and effort to help our city grow and achieve its potential. Whether we are talking about Our Shared Future forum where many people came together to share with us their invaluable contribution for the future of our city, or our Strategic Advocacy Group with their specialised skillsets to advance our advocacy agenda, both have made significant contribution to our policies and been a great success.

I believe implementing any strategy that increases members of the public’s participation in appropriate decision making, is of great value.

I have asked the General Manager to review the process of advertising, promoting and selecting award programs and recipients and consider furthering the external panel representation and revitalising the process and providing advice on ways of promoting our awards and acting as a selection panel for winners.

With these renewed protocols in place we can be assured that the strong reputation of our Council will continue to be something that our community can be proud of.

Thank you

I want to take this opportunity to thank Western Sydney University for inviting me as an Occasional Speaker for their School of Social Science’s graduation ceremony on 27 April 2023.

It was an honour to give the graduation address in the ceremony that I also had the honour of graduating in. I especially would like to thank Liz Dibbs, Deputy Chancellor for her kind words of encouragement and acknowledgement of my graduation and my role as the Mayor of Campbelltown, in the ceremony. 

7. Emergency Services Levy Cost Shifting

Date: 9 May

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

The Emergency Services Levy is a cost imposed on councils and the insurance industry to fund the emergency services budget in NSW. The Levy is administered through the Emergency Services Levy Act 2017 and represents another example of the cost shifting issues facing local government in NSW.

The Act established an emergency services insurance contribution scheme to which insurers are liable to contribute 73.7% of specified annual costs for the Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service and Fire & Rescue NSW. The Act also specifies that the remaining annual costs of these services are funded through a levy on councils of 11.7%, and the State Government pays the final 14.6%.

In November 2018, the NSW Government passed the Workers’ Compensation (Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights to Compensation) Bill 2018, amending the Workers Compensation Act 1987 to provide better protection for volunteer and career firefighters affected by work-related cancers. This meant a significant increase in the cost of emergency services across the State. The impact of the changes to workers' compensation and the material increases in the annual contribution resulted in Council’s net contribution increasing by $1,225,579 from $1,666,555 to $2,892,134.

As a result of substantial advocacy from the local government industry, the State Government agreed to fund the initial year of the increase through a rebate to give Councils a short reprieve and allow Councils to make budget adjustments in future years. This rebate was extended through the following two financial years as part of the COVID-19 Local Government Economic Stimulus Package, with the final rebate of $630,847 provided to the Council relevant to the 2022-23 financial year.

Last week, Council was advised that the rebate will not be continued, and now our annual Emergency Services Levy obligation for the 2023-24 financial year is a total of $2,892,134, consisting of $481,441 for NSW Rural Fire Service, $814,156 for NSW State Emergency Service and $1,596,537 for Fire and Rescue NSW. In comparative terms, the 2023-24 financial year contribution is an increase of 73.5% of what the council paid in the current year.

The increase in the Emergency Services Levy amount this year will absorb 29% of the Campbelltown Council’s permitted rate increase in 2023-24. This, in addition to the impact of the accounting treatment of NSW Rural Fire Services Assets raised in my September 2022 Mayoral Minute, represents a significant financial actual and accounting setback for council. 

Cost shifting is a significant problem for councils in NSW, as it undermines the financial sustainability of the local government sector by forcing councils to assume responsibility for more infrastructure and services without corresponding revenue increases.

According to research by LGNSW, Local Governments in NSW spend more than $2.2 billion each year on caring for the environment and looking after more than $177 billion worth of community assets. They are responsible for 90% of the State’s roads and bridges, which have suffered $2.5 billion in road damage following 2022’s floods and torrential rains.

The Levy increase for the State’s 128 councils in 2023-24 alone sits at just under $77 million, which is another $77 million that the councils have to observe on top of the escalating cost resulting from the skills shortage, the rising cost of capital, supply disruption and inflation pressures.

To put that in perspective, Hay Shire Council will immediately lose 89% of its approved rate rise, Bourke Shire Council will lose 94%, Tenterfield will lose 119%, Hornsby Council will lose about 75% of its approved rate rise, and Campbelltown City Council will lose 29%.

The Local Government sector generally, as represented by LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM, and we here in Campbelltown, are supportive of the changes to improve the health and work-related compensation for emergency workers. However, we ask the NSW Government to fund this measure and not continue this alarming cost-shifting that is undermining the financially sustainable local government system.

At this point of our budget cycle, such a change, well after the IPART’s rate determination for 2023-24 amid inflation and soaring costs, including employment pay increases expected later this year, may cause unmanageable pressure for some councils in NSW.

While Campbelltown Council’s financial position means the impact will not be as significant as some other councils in NSW, we are still bearing a burden of cost that should be borne by another level of government, on top of the existing high share of the cost-shifting currently occurring. Such an increase will rob our residents of close to another $1 million that could have been spent directly on services that they desire.

As such, I am joining the call of the other Mayors in NSW and of LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM and asking the NSW Treasurer, the Hon. Daniel Mookhey, to restore the Emergency Services subsidy to Local Government for the 2023-24 financial year and to work with the sector to develop a fairer funding system.

The time has come to develop a fairer, more transparent and financially sustainable method of funding the critical emergency services that benefit us all in NSW. The time has come to address the structural issues facing Local Government and ensure we as Local Government can continue to deliver for the people of NSW.