Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward has today welcomed the establishment of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation, which will strengthen collaboration between local councils and the NSW Government on regional initiatives.

Mr Ward said that the Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation has been formally proclaimed with four member councils – Kiama, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, and Wollongong.

“The NSW Government has also provided $300,000 in seed funding to help establish the new regional body in the Illawarra,” he said.

“The NSW Government introduced an Australian first for regional communities when Parliament passed legislation late last year to establish a network of Joint Organisations across regional NSW.

“I commend our local councils for recognising the many benefits the new regional body will offer our local communities and deciding to join the Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation.

“By coming together and joining forces, these local councils put themselves in a stronger position to deliver bigger picture projects.

“The Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation will comprise member Councils, State Government agencies and other key stakeholders to plan and prioritise important regional projects across traditional council boundaries.

“The formal proclamation of 11 Joint Organisations is a landmark day for regional NSW including the Illawarra and will change the way local Councils and the State Government work together to deliver important projects,” Mr Ward said.

The Office of Local Government is continuing to work with a small number of councils to finalise Joint Organisation membership. It is also providing a comprehensive range of support and guidance materials to assist Joint Organisations to become operational from July.

The Lord Mayor of Wollongong Gordon Bradbery OAM said: “I look forward to this new era in regional strategic planning, advocacy, collaboration and the joint delivery of service,” he said.