Wednesday, 13 December 2023 09:36

President’s Message: A golden anniversary… Featured

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

As 2023 draws to a close, I would like to express my gratitude for the collective efforts of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation (WSROC) team over the last 12 months, including those of our diligent Vice Presidents, Councillors Elmore and Rhodes; of our WSROC Directors; our Committee members; and I should like especially to acknowledge the tireless work of the WSROC staff and Chief Executive Officer,  Mr. Casuscelli, who have all shown great dedication and initiative throughout.

This year, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation which was set up in November 1973 as a member organisation to work on behalf of the people of Greater Western Sydney, and to make known their needs to Commonwealth and New South Wales governments, and to the wider community.

Over that half-century, WSROC has worked to strengthen the role of Local Government in regional affairs, particularly where Greater Western Sydney may be affected by Commonwealth or New South Wales Government policy.

In that time, WSROC has proved to be one of the most successful — and most enduring — organisations in Australia advocating on behalf of local communities.

WSROC has been credited with a host of improvements for the people of Western Sydney in urban planning and management, public transport, roads, infrastructure, economic development, environment, employment, community services and a range of other local government issues.

WSROC has helped to create many of the region's most important institutions and agencies and our successful campaigns and regional initiatives over the last 50 years have included:

  • The ‘Beds to the West’ campaign for more hospital beds and other health services in the region (1970s and 80s),
  • campaigning to create the University of Western Sydney (1980s),
  • lobbying to establish the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board (1990s)
  • lobbying to create a Minister for Western Sydney in the NSW Government (1997),
  • fast-tracking the Westlink M7 Motorway (2000s) ,
  • authoring ‘Contemporary Australia – A Regional Cultural Strategy for Greater Western Sydney’ (2005),
  • lobbying for WestConnex, easier commuting for Western Sydney workers (2015 – 2018),
  • lobbying for a rail link to the new Western Sydney International Airport (2016 – 2018),
  • setting up The Great West Walk walking route, stretching from Parramatta to the foot of the Blue Mountains (2019),
  • securing $5 billion for Western Sydney infrastructure - WestInvest (2022),
  • establishing the Greater Sydney Heat Taskforce (2023)
  • and many other initiatives of lasting value and importance.

I am mindful, too, of WSROC’s current projects, including:

As for 2023, there have been many pleasing initiatives this year, most notably:

Nor have these initiatives gone unnoticed by the wider society.

Just recently, for example, the efforts of WSROC’s Regional Waste Coordinator Team Leader, Ms. Amanda Bombaci and Regional Waste Coordinator, Ms. Wendy Xing, were acknowledged in the Local Government NSW ‘2023 Excellence in the Environment Awards.

Amanda and Wendy were presented with an award for 'Innovation in Planning, Policies and Decision Making'.

That richly deserved acknowledgment is in recognition of their tireless work on behalf of Western Sydney by integrating organic waste diversion in apartment building planning frameworks, and their other work crucial to the continuing success of WSROC's Western Sydney Regional Waste Strategy.

Not that long ago, too, WSROC was also presented with an Excellence in the Environment Award in the ‘Climate Change Adaptation’ category for its ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ project.

WSROC’s Policy & Projects Officer Ms. Kelly Gee accepted the award on behalf of herself; Project Coordinator Ms. Judith Bruinsma; and Project Officer Ms. Melissa Randall.

The Excellence in the Environment Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in managing and protecting the environment in local government areas.

WSROC’s ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ project brings together local councils, government agencies and community service providers to build understanding of heatwave risks, and what all partners can do to build community resilience and improve community resilience to heat.Amanda and Kelly award pic

WSROC team members are also addressing many other issues of utmost concern to our communities today such as:

  • the availability of electric vehicle charging infrastructure,
  • helping Councils make the transition to electric vehicle fleets,
  • establishing community solar batteries,
  • improving community liveability through better housing standards and planning,
  • financial resilience of Councils, and
  • the skills shortages within Local Government.

We are of course after 50 years’ service still upholding our role as advocates for the people and councils of Western and South-Western Sydney, our advocacy is increasingly centred more on how to work as partners with other levels of government.

WSROC is pushing government hard on all those issues, not just because they matter to our member councils and the people of Western Sydney but also because improvements in those areas will be a benefit to NSW and Australia more broadly.

We are immensely proud of the achievements of the last 50 years, but we are ever mindful of the many challenges ahead for the millions of men, women and children living, working and playing in the five large, diverse council areas we serve.

Let me again express WSROC’s appreciation to our member councils, partners, and the communities we serve for their support and collaboration throughout the year — and over the 50-year journey.

So, we are looking forward to the next 50 years of service and advocacy to the vibrant communities of Western and South-Western Sydney.

In the meantime, I wish you all a safe and happy New Year.

Barry Calvert — President, WSROC



Last modified on Friday, 15 December 2023 08:40

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