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Growth Area Councils Leading the Way

In the face of Australia’s housing crisis, federal and state governments are urgently seeking rapid solutions. They will find their most effective partner in local governments, which possess the expertise and intimate knowledge of their communities’ needs.

Growth area councils are not just talking about solutions—they are actively implementing them and achieving remarkable outcomes. This proactive spirit was evident at our annual awards ceremony, where the best contributions from growth areas were celebrated.

Each year, we highlight exceptional efforts of our members, who represent a diverse range of LGAs from well-established regions to newly emerging growth zones. This year saw a record number of submissions, making the judging process particularly challenging.

One of the key themes of the event was learning from other councils. Growth areas are frequently at the forefront of innovation, often having to achieve a lot with limited resources. Rapid population growth brings with it a demand for diverse services, inclusivity, and high community expectations.

Our members are demonstrating industry leading, innovative solutions to many common problems:

  • Heatwaves are the deadliest natural disaster in Australia (Coates 2021). From 2001 to 2018, 60% of heatwave-related deaths occurred in the most disadvantaged communities, where factors like poor health, substandard housing, and lack of amenities exacerbate the risks. Blacktown City Council is pioneering research in this field. Their Urban Heat project, which explored the risks associated with planting—or not planting—large shade trees, won the Research and Practice Award. The insights gained from this project will benefit many communities across the country. Australia’s shortage of social and affordable housing is another critical issue.
  • The City of Whittlesea’s New Epping Affordable Housing (Stage 1) project, which won the Built Environment Award, exemplifies how local governments are providing essential solutions. This initiative highlights the effectiveness of local governments in addressing community needs directly.
  • Advocacy is a cornerstone of local government efforts, particularly in growth areas where the stakes are high. Wyndham’s Advocacy Strategy, which won the Advocacy Award, sets a new standard with its prioritisation framework that aligns the priorities of all three levels of government with Wyndham's target projects. This strategic approach ensures that the most relevant and urgent needs are addressed efficiently.

The collaborative spirit entrenched in NGAA members can provide best-practice examples to other councils who want to know how to partner with other stakeholders for better community outcomes:

  • Wyndham City Council and the City of Whittlesea are prime examples, showcasing significant community outcomes through strategic partnerships. The Wyndham Stadium Precinct project provides community members with access to world-class sports facilities, while Whittlesea’s economic participation plan has led to positive improvements in local employment rates. These projects underscore the potential of collaborative efforts among various stakeholders.
  • A shining example of the power of collaboration is the joint effort by the City of Whittlesea, Hume City Council, and Mitchell Shire Council, which won the Leadership in Growth Areas Award. Together, these councils are developing Cloverton, an entirely new regional centre. This project demonstrates the incredible potential that exists when local governments work together towards a common goal.

The achievements celebrated at the NGAA awards highlights the crucial role of local governments in addressing the housing crisis and meeting broader community needs. Our innovative solutions and collaborative efforts provide a model for federal and state governments to follow, proving that local knowledge and action can drive substantial positive change.

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