Funding for an extended urban greening program that will see thousands of trees planted in Perth suburbs and regional centres has been welcomed by WALGA.
The State Government allocated $3.75 million over two years for an Urban Greening Grants program in today’s State Budget.
“The benefits for communities with tree canopies are widely known - improved neighbourhood liveability and amenity, better air quality, reduced cooling costs and positive impacts on psychological and emotional wellbeing,” WALGA President Cr Karen Chappel said.
“The $3.75 million for the Urban Greening Grants Program will make a contribution to the greening of our suburbs and complement the work many of our Local Governments are already doing.
“WALGA is pleased the State Government has recognised Local Governments’ lead role in protecting and enhancing urban canopy.”
The State Government’s $61.6m additional spend on Government Regional Officer Housing (GROH) seeks to address the critical shortage of housing for government staff in rural and regional WA.
“The lack of housing in the regions is a handbrake on local economic development,” Cr Chappel said.
“It is important the State Government works with Local Governments on delivery of this significant investment to ensure it does not place further pressure on the housing market.”
The confirmation of extra funding for community sporting infrastructure through the Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) was welcomed by WALGA.
An additional $15 million over two years will assist Local Governments to upgrade sporting and recreation facilities to meet the needs of their communities.
“The CSRFF is an essential resource for Local Governments to access funding for vital community sporting and recreation facilities and it is oversubscribed each year.
“High-quality, well-designed sport and recreation facilities encourage physical activity and foster social inclusion and community connectedness, as well as reducing the costs to the health and welfare systems form obesity, stress, depression and mental ill health.”
The State Government’s $342m commitment to regional and mental health initiatives will improve access to quality health services across the state.
In particular, the targeted payment of up to $12,000 over three years for HECS-HELP debt relief for newly qualified nurses and midwives starting their career in regional WA is pleasing to see.
“Attracting GPs, nurses and other health professionals to regional WA has been a long-term priority for WALGA,” Cr Chappel said.
Some $3.6m was allocated in 2023-24 to assist with mid-tier transport planning. WALGA had called for $10m over two years, noting the need for a high-level mid-tier public transport strategy for Greater Perth.
“This will be critical to addressing the gap in transport planning between Metronet and local area travel plans,” Cr Chappel said.
Several initiatives to address the impacts of climate were also welcomed by WALGA, including:
  • $5.5m to DPLH to integrate climate adaption into policy and planning frameworks.
  • $807,000 to model the ‘heat island effect’.
  • $500,000 for DLGSC to undertake climate change adaption modelling on Department assets.
WALGA was disappointed no additional funding was allocated to the Community Emergency Services Manager (CESM) Program.
The program is designed to bolster Local Government emergency management capability to support their communities in the preparation, response and recovery from emergency events such as bushfires and flooding.
“There are 30 Local Governments that currently manage volunteer Bushfire Brigades without the support of a CESM and we will continue to advocate to the State to address this funding gap.”