Last week was Local Government Week.
This is an annual event organised by the WA Local Government Association and consists of events designed to help local governments improve service delivery.
This year, there were sessions on innovation in local government, engaging young people, waste management, the implications to councils of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the outcomes of the Waroona Fire Special Inquiry and reviews into the Emergency Services Levy and the WA Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. Our State is huge — 2.6 million square kilometres — and it has 138 local governments — 30 in the metropolitan area and 108 in the regions.
Many of these councils have tiny populations — the smallest is Sandstone with only 116 people — and the average size of the smallest 30 shires is only 518 people.
Our City of Karratha is a relative giant: the seventh largest outside the metropolitan area. The issues facing Sandstone, with 116 people, compared with the largest city — Stirling, with 227,000 people — is enormous.
Sandstone’s 116 people are responsible for 33,000sqkm of our State: Stirling’s quarter of a million have only 105 sqkm to worry about. This is why councils need to work together to improve outcomes for their communities — and this is what WALGA is doing with Local Government Week.