Models for Community Governance: A Practitioner Roundtable

Local government in NSW faces significant challenges that demand fresh thinking. Smarter Local Government roundtables bring together elected members and senior managers from a variety of councils to exchange information, explore ideas and identify opportunities to strengthen their role and performance.

What is Community Governance?

Community Governance covers various ways in which local communities can participate actively in planning for their future, delivering services, managing facilities, and making decisions that best reflect their collective needs and aspirations.

Of course, these are not totallly new ideas: community self-help is well established, especially in rural areas, and services and projects often rely on volunteers. Many councils already practice various forms of community governance, such as community planning, neighbourhood forums, local management committees, support for community groups and volunteer services, and joint funding of local projects with Bendigo Bank branches.

However, current trends suggest a need for a more concerted and systematic approach across NSW local government.

  • The Local Government Act now requires councils to prepare comprehensive engagement strategies.
  • Local government areas continue to grow in population and area (including some newly amalgamated councils), creating a potential need for new place-based arrangements to ensure effective local democracy plus community-focused planning and service delivery.

Financial pressures mean councils mean councils may rely increasingly on community self-help to maintain adequate services.