Far West Regional Plan - Vision
A unique part of Western NSW with a diverse economy, supported by the right infrastructure, an exceptional natural environment and resilient communities
In 2036, communities across the Far West enjoy the distinctive rural character of their communities, with a higher standard of living driven by stronger partnerships.
The regional economy is diversified. Innovative industries have developed around goat and kangaroo processing, and the region takes advantage of opportunities presented by increased global demand for alternative protein sources.
A sustainable mining sector in Broken Hill, Cobar, Wentworth and Balranald generates direct employment and provides flow-on benefits to communities. Growth in renewable energy - including wind, solar and bioenergy generation - promotes local jobs in smaller communities and provides opportunities for associated industries.
People visit from around the world to enjoy significant Aboriginal and European heritage and the unique outback experiences.
Collaborative partnerships between government and local stakeholders facilitate major improvements to inter-regional rail and road infrastructure, which increase choice and deliver more competitive freight costs for the agriculture and mining sectors.
The region is a leader in climate change adaptation. Communities access the latest information to manage the risks from natural hazards, and respond to the impacts of climate change and water availability. The Far West meets benchmarks for sustainable and innovative water resource management in agriculture, mining and community water supply, and water is shared equitably among users, including the environment, and with new developments.
Major rivers - including the Barwon, Darling and Murray - natural waterways, wetlands and environmental corridors are protected. Together with the region’s many other environmental and cultural heritage features, they enrich the lives of residents and attract domestic and international tourists.
Innovative public and community transport services make it easy for people to travel to work, socialise and enjoy recreation options. Inter-regional, intra-regional and interstate travel is affordable.
Regular and affordable airline services extend travel opportunities in and out of the region.
Communication technologies allow more people to work and access services locally – particularly younger people. New residents are arriving and older people are finding it easier to age-in-place. New jobs attract young families and skilled workers to relocate to the region or return to the communities where they grew up.
Well-designed, climate-resilient housing meets the needs of communities, including the Aboriginal community, the older population, singles, families, low-income households, and seasonal and itinerant workers.
Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke and Cobar local government areas have developed further connections with the Orana and take advantage of services in Dubbo. The Wentworth and Balranald local government areas benefit from increasing ties with other communities along the Murray River, and leverage opportunities associated with growth in Mildura, Victoria. Broken Hill has established stronger connections with Adelaide and operates as a strategic centre servicing the western part of the region, with strong connections to the Central Darling.
To achieve this vision, the NSW Government has acknowledged the opportunities for improved regional coordination and local leadership emerging through the Far West Initiative and set the following regionally focused goals:
- A diverse economy with efficient transport and infrastructure networks
- Exceptional semi-arid rangelands traversed by the Barwon-Darling River
- Strong and connected communities
Far West regional plan 2036
A key component in the success of the Far West
The focus for the future of the Far West is to leverage its competitive advantages and unlock the potential for unique economic opportunities.
Diverse landscapes support historic pastoral and mining activities, an array of native species, and world-class cultural heritage. Varied communities of interest stretch across regional and state borders to include Adelaide, Mildura, Melbourne, Dubbo, Sydney and Brisbane. Strengthening these connections will be critical to continued economic growth.
The region can leverage the value of these landscapes to expand existing industries and support new economic ventures, such as value-added manufacturing, tourism and renewable energy.
Realisation of the opportunities will require extensive support from all levels of government and a collaborative community approach. This Plan is the beginning of better planning across the Far West.
With vast distances, small populations and challenges across government and regional boundaries, all tiers of government and the region’s service providers face significant challenges.
Understanding the local needs and challenges of these communities is essential to overcoming the barriers created by the remote nature of communities and the high level of social disadvantage in some areas. There is an opportunity to harness the strong sense of, and commitment to, the community to create local solutions.
Developing locally coordinated whole-of-government service models and approaches, united behind a single vision for the region, will be facilitated by strong governance arrangements. Seizing opportunities to reduce service delivery duplication and inefficiency will have real effect on community wellbeing.
This Plan identifies where the NSW Government can support social, environmental and economic outcomes in partnership with councils, the community and local Aboriginal people. The process for regional planning will evolve and is focused on building regional capacity and strengthening local leadership.
With a semi-arid climate across much of the region, the Far West is also home to a natural landscape that includes bushlands and nationally and internationally recognised wetlands. The Darling and Murray rivers and the Menindee Lakes enable irrigated farming, helping to drive the growing agribusiness sector.
The economy is built on these diverse landscapes, which support mining operations in Broken Hill, Cobar and Lightning Ridge, and diverse agricultural enterprises, such as intensive and irrigated cropping, wine and table grapes, and kangaroo and goat production.
The historic connection with mining, which has flourished from the birth of BHP in Broken Hill, will continue to play a defining role for the Far West. New revenue streams from mining operations in the Broken Hill, Balranald and Wentworth local government areas will increase local employment and economic output.
Leveraging opportunities from the landscapes will be important to support new economic ventures, such as value-added manufacturing and wind, solar and bio-energy generation, particularly where capacity exists for new connections.
As the agriculture sector expands beyond traditional wool production, opportunities are emerging for unique industries, such as goat and kangaroo processing. Enormous potential exists for the Far West to become the leading international exporter of goats to expanding world markets.
Success will depend on coordination across the entire supply chain and securing certainty of supply through sustainable land management arrangements. Maximising economic development outcomes will require tailored skills development programs, supported by local education services and access to modern telecommunication infrastructure.
Places and heritage
The Far West is steeped in culture, history and heritage. Its tourism industry is connected to the backdrop of the outback, important sites to Aboriginal people and areas that influenced Australia’s colonial history.
Developing tourism products related to the unique outback landscape and its varied economic, social and cultural history is a major opportunity. Marketing organic and native produce and promoting arts, cultural and museum attractions will also increase the region’s profile as a visitor destination.
Some of the world’s most significant cultural heritage items are found in the Far West, including Mungo Man and Mungo Lady and the Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps, which are estimated to be the world’s oldest human-made structures. The challenge lies in conserving, sharing and promoting this heritage within Australia and the rest of the world.
Aboriginal culture and art help underpin an important tourism sector and could increase local employment and social improvements for Aboriginal people. Harnessing existing community capacity, including Aboriginal leadership, will be integral to the growth and strength of tourism.
Enhancing established local and regional partnerships, such as the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly and Local Business Councils, and creating strong networks will position the Far West as one of the leading regions in the State.
The Far West is NSW’s largest region and one of the most environmentally diverse. Landscapes range from the ‘outback’ semi-arid desert areas to rich farmlands, rangelands and wetlands. It is traversed by one of Australia’s longest river systems, the Barwon-Darling, home to some of the world’s oldest heritage assets and dotted with historic mining and agricultural towns that are influenced by surrounding states and regions.
We’ve heard and understood community and stakeholder aspirations for the region, and we’ve drawn on this feedback to create a Regional Plan that focuses on a more diverse economy, supported by the right infrastructure, with strong and resilient communities.
Improving regional capacity and local leadership will be key in unlocking the unique opportunities presented in the Far West. Community wellbeing and economic growth will be improved by harnessing the strong sense of identity and community and by developing locally initiated and coordinated approaches to service delivery.
This Plan recognises the value of the landscapes and their important role in leveraging opportunities for new economic ventures, including value-added manufacturing and tourism. The Plan includes directions to support the Far West to become a leader in renewable energy and climate change adaption.
Significant opportunities exist for tourism, taking advantage of the unique ‘outback’ experiences, dynamic communities, as well as European and Aboriginal culture. The region has some of Australia’s most significant Indigenous artefacts, many of which are among the oldest in the world.
Major interstate transport routes connect to Sydney, Adelaide, Victoria and Queensland, allowing for efficient freight and passenger transport to the rest of the country and ports for global export. Improving transport links and access to reliable telecommunications will provide untold economic and social benefits.
This Plan sets out to help communities in the Far West adapt to meet future challenges, and supports water security infrastructure to ensure ongoing liveability and sustainability of local communities and health of the environment.
The remoteness coupled with mining and agricultural history has resulted in the development of many unique towns and villages.
This Plan aims to meet the needs of these changing communities by promoting greater housing choice, access to health and education services and public and community transport.
We recognise the traditional custodians of the region and the contribution they make to the local economy and communities. They are important partners and leaders in the region, and greater collaboration with these stakeholders has the potential for improved environmental, social and economic outcomes for the future of the Far West.
The Far West Regional Plan 2036 encompasses a vision, goals and actions geared towards delivering greater prosperity in the years ahead for those who live, work and visit this important region.
Anthony Roberts MP
Minister for Planning
Minister for Housing
Special Minister of State
A region at the heart of South-East Australia, with an abundance of unique opportunities
Communities in the Far West are among Australia’s most diverse, self-reliant and forward-looking. Leveraging these community strengths through regional coordination and local leadership will create strong networks and a stronger, more resilient and capable Far West.
Distance is a constant challenge in the Far West, requiring investment in roads, rail networks and telecommunications to boost opportunities for the agribusiness, value-added manufacturing, mining, renewable energy and tourism sectors.
Emerging opportunities in unique food processing, tourism, arts and cultural opportunities set this outback region apart. Combined with the Menindee Lakes and the internationally recognised Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area, these opportunities will increase investment and grow visitor numbers.
The Barwon–Darling River system, one of the longest in Australia, connects Far West towns and communities to each other and southern Australia’s rural food bowl. Waterways are the lifeblood of communities, and must be actively and sustainably managed.
The region has an exciting future, and the Far West Regional Plan 2036 is the blueprint for that future.
The Plan will guide the NSW Government’s land use planning priorities and decisions over the next 20 years. It is not intended to be a step-by-step approach to all land use planning. Rather, it provides an overarching framework to guide subsequent and more detailed land use plans, development proposals and infrastructure funding decisions.
The accompanying Implementation Plan includes priority actions as well as medium-and longer-term actions to coincide with population and economic change.
Local Government Narratives set out priorities for each council to guide further investigation and implementation.
The Far West Regional Plan 2036 is the product of extensive consultation with councils, stakeholders and the wider community, following the release of a draft Plan in 2016. The feedback from this consultation has been integrated into this final Regional Plan.
Investment in Far West communities
NSW Government investments in the Far West include:
- $40.4 million for upgrade works on the Silver City and Cobb highways, and $4.25 million to widen Kidman Way south of Cobar, funded by the Restart NSW Western Freight Productivity Program1;
- a share of $110 million in Restart NSW funding, under the Regional Water and Wastewater Backlog Program, for projects in Bourke, Central Darling, Cobar and Walgett2; and
- funding for six projects under Water Security for Regions across the Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke and Central Darling local government areas to improve water security and help communities prepare for drought conditions.
The NSW Government’s commitment
To deliver the Far West Regional Plan 2036, all levels of government, the private sector and the community will have to work together. The Plan needs to be incorporated into each stakeholder’s future activities.
This is the first time the NSW Government has undertaken strategic land use planning for the Far West. Unifying stakeholders through this Plan is an early step to improve regional coordination and facilitate local leadership.
The NSW Government has established the Far West Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee to deliver, coordinate and be accountable for achieving the vision and goals of the Plan. This dedicated new body comprises representatives from local government and State agencies. It will listen and work with stakeholders to align infrastructure to support growth and change in the region.
The Committee’s ongoing role to implement the Regional Plan will align with the outcomes of the Far West Initiative, and be consistent with the NSW Government’s strategic vision for the region.
|Far West Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee
The Committee will take ownership for implementing this Plan – prioritising the actions needed to seize on immediate and emerging opportunities for the region. In the short term, its focus will be on growing the agribusiness, value-added manufacturing, mining, renewable energy and tourism sectors; enhancing the regional freight network; and planning for change in the region’s settlements.
Over time, the Committee will identify new priorities to support regional growth and change.
The Plan sets regional planning priorities and provides a framework for regional and local planning decisions. The NSW Government will use it to advise infrastructure agencies about the timing of new developments, and to inform the ongoing planning and delivery of infrastructure, asset management and services.
The Plan sets in place line-of-sight land use planning for the region and local government areas to identify and resolve issues. Line-of-sight planning will allow issues to be identified and resolved early, rather than at the development application stage.
This Plan is accompanied by an Implementation Plan for 2017-2019.
More detailed regional district planning may be undertaken in partnership with all stakeholders, led by the Committee. The Plan highlights potential priorities for regional district planning where matters cross jurisdictional boundaries.
A Government direction will be issued so that when councils prepare new planning proposals or update local planning controls, they must be consistent with the vision and guiding principles of this Plan.
The Local Government Narratives provide guidance for each council as they prepare local land use strategies. The Committee will support this work to ensure local plans translate the vision and guiding principles of this Plan into local priorities for growth and change.
The Committee will monitor and review progress towards achieving the vision and goals for 2036 to help prioritise infrastructure delivery and influence policy settings.
An annual report will measure performance against indicators for housing, employment, communities and the environment, and include advice to the NSW Government on the delivery of short-term actions.
The Committee will review the Plan every five years, or as necessary, to help realise the vision for 2036.
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Page last updated: 28/07/2022