Far West

The NSW Government is committed to supporting strong communities across the Far West.

The Far West has a significant regional economy centred on agriculture and mining.

Governments are judged by the outcomes they deliver for communities.

We have worked hard to build a strong budget and restore NSW to its rightful place as the number one economy in the country. We are rolling out a record-breaking infrastructure program that is already having a positive impact across all parts of the state. Most importantly, we are a government that wants Regional NSW to thrive and feel supported.

Our Regions is a package of materials designed to showcase the work being undertaken in communities across Regional NSW. It is a source for information about the projects we have committed to, that we are building, and that have already been delivered. The material will highlight some of the projects occurring in health, education, transport, roads, sport, the arts, and the community sector.

It paints a clear picture of the progress that is happening around you. More importantly, it shows a government working for you; a government dedicated to people and families in regional communities.

Please take the time to inspect your local Our Regions section on the website, or pick up a copy of your local Our Regions brochure. It is a great way to ensure you are aware and engaged with the work that is occurring in your region.

The information available online will be continually updated, as the investments we make in Regional NSW continue to roll out.

Our government is determined to make sure that every regional community continues to grow, attract more investment, and create an even better quality of life for its citizens not just for tomorrow, but also for decades to come.

Regional service delivery priorities for the Far West

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring the people of regional NSW have the best access to essential services and infrastructure in regional Australia. We recognise the importance of ensuring all regional communities can access the essential services of a modern economy. We believe our geography brings enormous opportunity, and should not deter people from choosing where they live, work and play.

To help deliver on this commitment, the NSW Government has developed Regional Service Delivery Priorities to improve local services according to each region’s specific needs.

The priorities are based on existing state-wide programs that address local challenges and benefit communities. The NSW Government will provide updates on the priorities’ progress over the next year.

Use government spending to create local jobs in the Far West

State-wide target: To create sustainable jobs in six western NSW towns through innovative work scheduling for government services.

Procurement can create sustainable local jobs, particularly in communities where government has a strong role in the local economy. The Aboriginal and Local Jobs Skills Pilot will help young people in Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar and Walgett to move from training into employment, by working with suppliers to create demand for local jobs.

Enhance transport access for Aboriginal people in the Far West

State-wide target: To ensure all community transport providers have made efforts to increase the patronage of their services by Aboriginal people.

Transport is essential for people in regional NSW to get to work, access healthcare or simply reach the shops. In communities where few households have a vehicle, community transport services are critical. Improving access to community transport will help Aboriginal people to access more services and employment opportunities.

Improve connectivity in the Far West

State-wide target: 174 new or upgraded mobile base stations to be delivered in regional NSW by 2019.

Mobile phone coverage along major transport routes and in smaller communities is a significant challenge. Across NSW in 2016, there were over 3,200 reported regional blackspot locations affecting businesses, services and assistance during natural disasters.

The NSW Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program will deliver new and upgraded mobile base stations for the Far West, reducing blackspot locations, improving lives and potentially even saving them.

Deliver quality infrastructure for the Far West

State-wide target: Local infrastructure projects to have commenced implementation in target regions by 2019.

The Stronger Country Communities Fund is investing $200 million in NSW over the next two years. To make the Far West region a more vibrant place to live and work, infrastructure projects will improve the lives of residents. The fund will help boost productivity and make the region a more attractive place for individuals and businesses looking to re-locate.

Works underway

Explore the map below to find out more about the projects happening in your area.

An expanded base for health in Broken Hill

People living in far regions can sometimes feel isolated from important services. Now residents in and around Broken Hill are about to see an improved range of health services brought together under one new roof.

An expanded base for health in Broken Hill

Wilcannia College takes education to the edges of NSW

Distance can be the greatest hurdle to learning. In the small town of Wilcannia, 200km from Broken Hill, education has always seemed out of reach for residents.

Wilcannia College takes education to the edges of NSW

Region overview

The Far West is a vast region stretching from the communities of Lightning Ridge and Walgett near the Queensland border, to Australia’s old pioneer mining settlements of Cobar and Broken Hill and along the South Australian border, to the Murray River townships of Wentworth and Balranald near the Victorian border. The region covers 40 per cent of the state.

Some of the Far West’s environment is very fragile yet is home to a brilliant diversity of native species, 30,000-year-old Aboriginal rock carvings and many pastoral and mining heritage places. The Barwon-Darling river system, one of the longest in the world, supports agriculture, tourism, mining and diverse ecosystems.

The mineral resources of the region have also long supported the mining industry. The region has the highest percentage of Aboriginal people compared to any other region in NSW, with Aboriginal communities retaining strong links with the Far West country.

Drivers – economic, social and environmental

Despite its relatively small population, the Far West has a significant regional economy centred on agriculture and mining. High value agriculture, including food and beverage manufacturing, broadacre cropping and grazing, and intensive agriculture and horticulture will continue to grow the economy.

The sustainable mining sector in Broken Hill, Cobar, Wentworth and Balranald is a major employer of local people, with broader benefits flowing to communities. Tourism, arts and cultural opportunities are abundant and the Far West boasts many cultural, historic and environmentally significant sites that lend themselves to tourism. Protecting and managing water in the Far West is important to sustain and grow the economy and tourism opportunities. Major improvements to inter-regional rail and road infrastructure are increasing choice and delivering more competitive freight costs for the agriculture and mining sectors.

By 2036, the number of people aged above 65 years will increase by more than a third to around 11,950. At this time, more people, especially from the Aboriginal community, will be living with chronic illness. Access to health care services is therefore a priority. Investment in hospital infrastructure and innovative service delivery models tailored for dispersed communities will meet these growing health needs. Education reform is also a priority for the region. Ensuring students are engaged at school, and making sure they have adequate reading and writing skills is important for their overall wellbeing and future careers.

By taking advantage of community strengths such as cultural and heritage assets, the appeal of the region’s lifestyle and environment, and specialised services and products, there will be many opportunities to strengthen communities in the region.

Main street Broken Hill

Regional Growth Fund

The NSW Government has a new approach to supporting growth and business potential which means all residents of regional NSW will see the benefits of strong economic management. To support this new approach, the $1.7 billion Regional Growth Fund has been created to deliver the infrastructure to help regional economies expand, and to improve the amenity for people living in regional NSW. The Regional Growth Fund is designed to activate local economies and create jobs by building and upgrading infrastructure, improving facilities and investing in sports, arts and culture in eligible regional communities.

The Regional Growth Fund includes:

  • Growing Local Economies – Unlocking economic potential by building or upgrading power, transport and telecommunications links and water and sewerage services 
  • Resources for Regions – Supporting the infrastructure needs of mining-affected regional economies
  • Connecting Country Communities – Investing in better mobile phone and internet connectivity to support businesses and families living and working in regional areas and drive regional productivity 
  • Regional Sports Infrastructure – Supporting participation and high achievement in sport for regional NSW communities by improving facilities
  • Regional Cultural Fund – Delivering investment to support bold and exciting regional arts and culture
  • Stronger Country Communities Fund – Supporting councils and community groups to deliver crucial local infrastructure to improve quality of life.

These programs are in addition to the $300 million Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund which supports environmental assets, tourism infrastructure and attractions to drive greater visitation and spend across regional NSW.

Our actions in the region

We are actively contributing to strong and healthy regional communities through these initiatives.

Creating jobs and growing the regional economy

Supporting communities transitioning out of mining operations

  • Investigate ways that communities in the region can capitalise on the economic benefits and manage the impacts of the mining sector, through the work of the Western NSW Mining and Resource Development Taskforce.
  • Work with the community to revitalise the Line of Lode Precinct, an iconic tourist attraction in Broken Hill.

Supporting regional tourism

  • Support regional tourism through the declaration of fossicking districts across the state (Central Darling Shire has been gazetted). As a popular recreational activity, fossicking is a strong driver for regional tourism, contributing approximately $20 million annually to NSW rural economies.

Unlocking the region’s growth in international markets

  • Help a company establish a small stock abattoir in Bourke under a $1.4 million grant that will create up to 198 jobs in regional NSW, and increase our competitive share of the global goat meat market.

Reducing barriers to get jobs in Bourke

  • Address barriers to Aboriginal employment through the NSW Government’s Bourke Shire Aboriginal Employment Prosperity Strategy in conjunction with local government. The strategy aims increase the number of Aboriginal people taking up training and apprenticeships.

Growing the cotton industry and grain industry for the future

  • Drive productivity, profitability and competitiveness of the cotton and grain industries through the $14.7 million AgSkilled program.
  • Develop a workforce with clearly defined career pathways underpinned by training and professional development with workers capable of managing current and future challenges through AgSkilled.

Making energy more affordable for small business and low-income households

  • Deliver low-income household rebates of $285 and a Family Energy Rebate of $180 via the energy affordability package to support approximately 900,000 customers across NSW struggling to pay energy bills.
  • Deliver more than 17,000 energy efficient fridges and televisions to low income households through the Appliance Replacement Offer.
  • Deliver more than $8 million worth of energy efficiency upgrades to 2,800 social housing properties across the state.
  • Save small businesses up to $1,900 on the yearly bill through discounts on equipment upgrades.

Keeping resources investment in the region

  • Ensure valuable investment in mineral exploration in NSW is not lost to other places in Australia, through the Cooperative Drilling program, which has seen the discovery of potentially significant mineral deposits and attracted additional investment into regional NSW.

Ensuring access to training in remote NSW

  • Ensure people in regional and remote NSW have access to quality vocational education under the Smart and Skilled program. Contracted training providers receive price loadings to deliver training to students in regional and remote NSW.
  • TAFE NSW and approved adult and community education providers also receive community service obligation payments to improve the number of disadvantaged learners and regional and remote students in training.

Delivering infrastructure

Delivering key transport, health and community infrastructure to address the current and future needs of the Far West, including:

  • a $500 million long-term water supply solution for Broken Hill
  • a $16 million police station at Walgett
  • a $7.8 million water treatment plant replacement at Cobar.
Barrier Highway sign

Improving education results and growing healthy kids

Continuing to improve education results

  • Improve NAPLAN results by focussing on literacy and numeracy and including a target to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the top two NAPLAN bands for reading and numeracy by 30 per cent.
  • Deliver $332 million across the state for early childhood education and preschools from 2018 to 2022 under Start Strong.
  • Provide $20.4 million for government schools in the Far West, giving principals flexibility to direct funding to local school and individual student needs to improve learning outcomes for all their students under the 2018 Resource Allocation Model.

Revitalising, reclaiming and maintaining traditional languages

  • Provide $4.4 million over three years for five Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests in NSW that support literacy and numeracy outcomes for Aboriginal students, delivering a Nest to Wilcannia.

Reducing childhood obesity through physical activity and healthy eating

  • Implement the Make Healthy Normal social marketing campaign, Go4Fun, Munch & Move, Live Life Well @ School, Healthy School Canteens and the Get Healthy in Pregnancy Service.
  • Improve access to sporting activities for children in primary and high school by partnering with the National Rugby League.

Helping kids get active

  • Invest $207 million over four years through the Active Kids Rebate allowing parents to claim up to $100 per school child, per calendar year (as a voucher from 31 January 2018) to reduce the cost of sport registration or membership fees for after-school, weekend and structured fitness or physical activity.

Protecting the vulnerable

Addressing domestic and family violence

Deliver a diverse range of support services and programs, with additional funding to expand support programs, including:

  • implementing Safer Pathway to assist victims and children with specialised case management
  • trialling What’s Your Plan?, a world-first program to improve compliance with Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders for Aboriginal defendants
  • targeting repeat offenders and expanding the Explore, Question, Understand, Investigate, Practice and Succeed (EQUIPS) program to reduce reoffending
  • applying the Practice Guide to Intervention to target higher risk domestic violence offenders already under Community Corrections supervision.

Reducing drug and alcohol use

  • Reduce drug and alcohol related crime, creating safer and more secure communities and providing more treatment services for people struggling with addiction through targeted programs and campaigns engaging the community and licensed venues.
  • Prioritise Bourke Court for the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program for defendants with drug and alcohol problems.

Rebuilding strength in socially disadvantaged communities

  • Identify opportunities for social and affordable housing options to meet distinct cultural needs of Aboriginal communities across seven areas in the region, including in Bourke, Broken Hill and Walgett.
  • Improve social housing through the Social Housing Community Improvement Fund.

Supporting the wellbeing and growth of our regional communities

Welcoming people from different cultural backgrounds

  • Provide a voice for new community members on multicultural matters and an opportunity for representation and engagement through the Aboriginal communities Regional Advisory Council.

Supporting strong local government

Transform local government to ensure communities benefit from modern customer-facing councils, providing better value for ratepayers, including:

  • announcing legislation to allow councils in regional NSW to voluntarily join Joint Organisations that will focus on issues that matter to regional communities such as building strong businesses, securing water supplies and improving transport, community infrastructure and services
  • expanding the Local Government Skills Strategy to all NSW councils to improve the skills of local government workers and increase job opportunities for young people and unemployed older workers.

Improving economic, social and cultural outcomes for the Aboriginal community

  • Work with Aboriginal communities in the region ensure they have a genuine voice in determining what and how services are delivered in their communities through Local Decision Making.
  • Implement an accord with the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly to support the principles of self-determination, and aims to improve service delivery and coordination by government to Aboriginal communities.
  • Support Local Aboriginal Land Councils to strategically assess their land to identify opportunities for housing, employment and other uses.
  • Work with Aboriginal people to develop tourism businesses on country.

Supporting new planning and land management in the Far West

Protect the region’s heritage and environment with several planning initiatives, including:

  • an Unincorporated Area Local Environmental Plan to guide land use in consultation with local communities
  • improvements to the Lightning Ridge minerals’ claims process
  • improvements to land management and rehabilitation in the Lightning Ridge area.

Improving the efficiency and capacity of our road networks

  • Develop 20-year corridor strategies.
  • Provide funding to councils under Fixing Country Roads allowing initial sealing projects on the Silver City and Cobb highways, and an on-road emergency airstrip on the Silver City Highway at Shannons Creek.

Improving airport connections

  • Support the region’s economic growth through the ongoing operation and expansion of affordable air travel and related facilities by maintaining 20 per cent of flight slots allocated at Sydney Airport to regional NSW services, providing greater allocation in peak periods.
Road train on the Silver City highway

Protecting our environment and managing our land and water

Protecting and managing the region’s environment and water

  • Recognise that new development, particularly along the Murray and Darling Rivers, needs to be located to avoid and reduce environmental impacts, while ensuring a balance of social and economic outcomes.
  • Mapping potential high environmental value areas and protecting these areas through local plans and strategies, and implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program.

Supporting mineral exploration in the region

  • Fund expansion of Broken Hill’s EC Andrews Drillcore Facility supports regional development through mining industry investment. Access to the Drillcore library is vital to the industry identifying new mineral deposits.

Protecting koalas

  • Deliver nearly $800,000 worth of koala conservation projects through Saving our Species across NSW, including satellite tracking, creating habitats, community engagement and reducing threats such as dog attack and vehicles.
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