The Australian Local Government Association hosted the largest Regional Forum in its history on 13 June, which saw more than 450 local government leaders travel vast distances to Canberra from right across the country.
The delegates – which included regional mayors, councillors and shire presidents – discussed a wide range of issues including regional connectivity, road maintenance, healthcare, climate resilience, natural disasters and skills shortages.
ALGA President Linda Scott said the record crowd of leaders – representing Australia’s 537 councils – gathered to share solutions to the range of challenges facing rural and regional local governments.
“Given the last few years of COVID, drought and increasing natural disasters, never before have I seen councils so hungry for innovation to solve the problems that their communities are facing,” Ms Scott said during the opening of the conference.
There was a wide range of guest speakers for the historic forum, including Federal Local Government Minister Kristy McBain, who discussed disaster mitigation and rural and regional health issues.
In light of the current financial pressures on councils, Minister McBain also said during her speech that her office was reviewing the current Financial Assistance grants legislation.
“We want to make sure that it’s equitable, that the money goes to where it needs to go,” Ms McBain said.
Shadow Local Government Minister Darren Chester also addressed the conference, and highlighted the importance of regional development and connectivity to support local communities.
He also urged council leaders to work closer together to advocate for more support and funding for regional areas.
“We have incredible opportunities if we can galvanise and work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for all Australians, not just those who live in the cities,” he said.