21 January 2023

Riverina Joint Organisation to cease operations by midyear

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Riverina Joint Organisation members and REROC members

Riverina Joint Organisation members and Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils members at NSW Parliament House last year. Photo: Supplied.

Riverina Joint Organisation (JO) will cease active operations by mid-2023, effectively handing over its advocacy and lobbying activities to the Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC).

Riverina JO is a local government-based collaborative organisation that brings together seven general-purpose councils (Coolamon, Cootamundra-Gundagai, Greater Hume, Junee, Lockhart, Temora and Wagga Wagga) and two water county councils (Goldenfields and Riverina) in the eastern Riverina.

The JO’s strategic priorities are: transport and connectivity, energy, water and environment, workforce development, leadership and collaboration, economic and community development, and healthy and vibrant communities.

Riverina JO chairman, Councillor Rick Firman, said the organisation would cease operations on 30 June and would not be undertaking any new projects for the new year.

In October 2022, after four years of continuous operation, the board of JO made the decision to place the organisation on hiatus from 1 July this year.

“Once this occurs, the lobbying and advocacy activities and regional planning activities for which the JO has carriage will revert to REROC,” Cr Firman said.

“These activities were REROC’s responsibility prior to JO’s commencement in October 2018.”

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Cr Firman said, however, that the organisation would continue to pursue its work in meetings and strategic priorities, including running projects that addressed skills shortages in local government and looking at ways to promote solutions to the regional housing shortage.

“Our Skills Shortage Project has progressed well, and we have resources in place that will see it continue beyond the end of the funding on 30 June,” he said.

“Together with REROC, we released the Eastern Riverina Housing Strategy at the end of 2021 and continue to push forward with projects identified in the strategy.

“We are also undertaking a project to leverage long-term benefits from the infrastructure projects across our region, and we will continue work on the project.”

The chairman said the organisation’s members were highly committed to growing the region’s workforce and seeking opportunities for the local government to sell itself as an employer of choice.

“In the current skills shortage environment, the work we are doing in this area is more important than ever,” Cr Firman said.

“We cannot hope to provide the services and facilities our communities want and need without a skilled workforce.”

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As of 30 June, 2022, the JO’s net operation was a surplus of $85,285. Its primary source of income was from the member councils’ contribution of $173,631.

The $173,631 had contributed to 54 per cent of the JO’s income from the continuing operations of $324,404.

The JO’s operating expenses totalled $239,119, while administration expenses were $94,498.

As of the past financial year, the organisation had total assets of $268,221 and net assets of $119,369.

The Riverina JO was established in 2018 and its principal functions are to establish regional strategic priorities and develop strategies and plans to deliver those priorities; promote regional leadership and be an advocate for our regional strategic priorities; and identify and take up opportunities for intergovernmental cooperation on matters relating to the JO area.

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