The Real Deal

2021 Australia Day Awards

The Australia Day Awards program provides our community with the opportunity to recognise our local heroes, who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we remain a connected, sustainable and creative community.

In and amongst the challenges of Covid, Council and the Urunga Lions Club have worked together to enable a small and safe celebration of Australia Day for 2021. For Council this has included refining the award categories to better reflect our community aspirations, challenges and achievements following the introduction of our Home-Grown Heroes Award category at last year’s 2020 Australia Day Awards Ceremony.

The Urunga Lions Club, supported by Council, will host this year’s Australia Day Awards event in Urunga. The program will include Welcome to Country and a Smoking Ceremony, a free BBQ breakfast and light refreshments. The Mayor, Cr Dominic King will recognise our Australia Day Awards recipients during the proceedings.

Community members are encouraged to attend the Australia Day celebration and are reminded to adhere to Covid-safe protocols. Seating will be limited so Council encourages families to bring a picnic rug and practice social distancing as required.

2021 Australia Day Awards Event

Date: Tuesday 26 January 2021

Time:9:00am start, award proceedings at 10:00am

Location: Lions Park, 1 Bellingen Street Urunga


NOTICE: Bellingen Swim Centre Temporary Closure

The Bellingen Swim Centre will close temporarily from Monday 18 January 2021 to undertake an essential upgrade to the pool’s filtration system. It is expected that the pool will  re-open on Monday 25 January 2021.

Council and YMCA apologise for any inconvenience caused to pool patrons and residents.  

Updates on the maintenance work, including any change of dates around the closure will be posted on the pool website

For further information and updates visit the Bellingen Swim Centre website or contact Council via email:  and put Bellingen Swim Centre in the subject heading.

Level 2 - High Water Restrictions Introduced in the Bellingen Shire

Due to low rainfall in our catchment areas and falling river levels, Shire residents who receive a town water supply will be subject to Level 2 –Water Restrictions, as from Friday 4 December 2020.

A summary of Level 2 Water Restrictions are:

  • Sprinklers and soaker hoses are banned except for newly laid turf, in which case one (1) sprinkler is allowed to be used in the specified hours.
  • Hours of hand watering will be 30 minutes every second day between the hours of 4.00pm and 9.00am on alternate days, odd and even numbered days matching house numbers.
  • Micro-sprays and drippers/sub-surface can be used for a maximum of 15 minutes.
  • No washing of houses or driveways. Topping up of pools in specified hours only.
  • Vehicles must be washed with a trigger hose or pressure cleaner on a grassed area.

Council will continue to actively monitor the stability of river levels to ensure sustainable management of the town water supply and guide the ongoing management of Water Restriction Levels. Our community is encouraged to remain vigilant and maintain an ‘every drop counts’ approach towards all water consuming activities.

To discover a few simple tips and tricks on how to make sure ‘every drop counts’ simply go to to find out more.


Bellingen Shire Council - Changes to Operating Hours Over Christmas

Bellingen Shire Council will continue to provide services for our community over the Christmas period with some changes to operating hours of our facilities. Click here for a detailed list of facilities and operating hours.


Bellingen Shire Council wins the A.R Bluett Award 2020 reaching the pinnacle of Local Government Achievement

Bellingen Shire Council has received the greatest accolade a New South Wales Council can achieve by winning the Rural Category of the 2020 Local Government NSW A. R. Bluett Memorial Awards.

Bellingen Shire Council Mayor, Cr Dominic King, said The A. R. Bluett Memorial Awards which have been awarded annually since 1945, celebrate examples of exceptional achievement by progressive rural and regional/metropolitan councils that encourage and foster innovation and continuous improvement.

“These awards are recognised as the pinnacle of local government achievement and I find it rewarding and exciting that our winning submission was selected amongst a competitive state-wide field of regional councils.

“As the custodian of our Community Vision Council has collaborated with our community to create a shared vision on how to sustainably manage growth in our Shire, maintain its natural beauty and uniqueness and remain a sustainable, inclusive, and connected community.”

Cr King said Bellingen Shire Council’s award submission detailed council and our community’s continued efforts and progress towards addressing the opportunities and challenges identified in the Shire’s Community Vision.

“The work of the council through initiatives such as values based social research undertaken recently entitled “Why local government matters”, has allowed council to understand what really matters to our community which is and will continue to underpin future strategic and operational planning.

“Noting that our characteristics are our challenges, this year in particular has seen the culmination of outcomes around numerous initiatives built on a solid platform of progressive reform, delivering upon community aspiration and identified organisational imperatives to position it effectively as a sustainable organisation.”

A snapshot includes:

  • The commissioning of an independent review of council’s finances which declared “It is our conclusion that Council’s long-term financial sustainability is tracking well. In particular, the improving technical efficiency, low levels of debt, prudent spending, and the steady improvement in asset condition all indicate that Council is doing an extraordinarily successful job in challenging conditions. The future looks bright for the residents of Bellingen Shire council and they can have the utmost faith in the stewardship of council.”
  • progressive implementation of the recommendations from the UTS’s Financial Sustainability Review to improve its long-term financial position
  • securing council and grant funding to deliver community infrastructure projects valued at $11 million
  • securing council and grant funding to deliver a $20 million investment in wastewater infrastructure
  • major investment in water security infrastructure
  • ongoing focus on sustainable development through the Homes for our Future project
  • investment in renewables to mitigate utility risk/cost and reduce emissions
  • development of a biodiversity strategy and declaration of a climate emergency
  • investment in automation and digital transformation through Envision IT corporate system replacement
  • implementation of structural/process refinements emanating from a major service review
  • implementation of major investment in essential infrastructure including a long term $29 million bridge replacement program
  • strategic asset management planning activities, including implementation of major investment in essential infrastructure including a long term $29 million bridge replacement program,  the resurfacing of an additional 13 kilometres of poor condition sealed roads, the reconstruction of 2.2 kilometres of road that was in too poor a condition to reseal, the grading of 66 kilometres of our unsealed road network, reduction in load limited bridges, securing $4million in grant funding to progress replacement of high priority bridges, progression of the Aquifer study to inform the secure yield analysis assessments and development of the Councils Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy to achieve water resilience.
  • ongoing investment in community wellbeing through our Youth Hub
  • active leadership in the Mid North Coast Joint Organisation
  • development and resourcing of a deliberative approach to engagement.

Cr King said There is no doubt that the last 12 months and drought, bushfires, floods and the current pandemic crisis have certainly challenged us all and re-focussed our efforts to deal with the environmental, social and economic challenges our Shire faces now and into the future.”

This has seen council provide training, financial and logistical support to coordinate local resources, inclusive of representatives from Council, local medical, emergency, Chambers of Commerce and community service providers, to implement sustainable community recovery, preparedness and resilience initiatives to ensure we remain a connected, sustainable, and creative community. 

In addition Council has brought to life engagement aspirations through facilitating the Bellingen Community Resilience Deliberative Panel, where members of our community were guided through discussions that featured background briefings and expert input to help panel members develop a Community Resilience Hub model that will deliver sustainable and effective community recovery, preparedness, and resilience initiatives.

“As a finalist in the Bluett Award program we hosted a visit by A.R. Bluett Trust Chairman, Les McMahon and fellow Trustee Judges Mike Montgomery AM and Genia McCaffrey who conducted an inspection of our Shire, received presentations on our operations and services and had the opportunity to hear from some of our community members and partner organisations on the great work achieved within our community.

“The Bluett Trustee’s visit was a great opportunity for Council’s team and our community alike to showcase achievements. As a community we have demonstrated what is possible when you harness the talent and skill of a small and committed team that are dedicated to working with our community to discover our Shire’s true potential.”


Talk to Council’s Environmental Health Building & Regulation Officer at Dorrigo Library Thursdays 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Council will be recommencing the availability of an Environmental Health, Building & Regulation Officer at the Dorrigo Library, from Thursday 15 October 2020 each week between the hours of 2:00pm – 4:00pm.

This service will cater for enquiries and applications on all Development, Building and Environmental Health related matters. The duty officer will be able to facilitate access to both the NSW State and Council’s policies on these Regulatory areas and provide advice with respect to these.

Council looks forward to re-instating this service in support of the Dorrigo Community.

For further information please contact Anthony Brandie, Environmental Health Building & Regulation Officer on (02) 6655 7342


Bellingen Shire Branding Project

We have been working closely with our community for quite some time looking at how the Commonwealth’s Disaster, Recovery and Resilience funds can be invested to address and plan for the social and economic impacts our Shire faces now and into the future.

That is because many of our local businesses have been challenged by ongoing financial sustainability issues and the impacts of the recent fires, and the current COVID-19 pandemic which has not eased the financial pressures they face.

During recent Council workshops with representatives from our community and our Shire’s three Chambers of Commerce, it was identified that funds should be allocated towards pursuing promotional opportunities that stimulate shire-wide economic growth.

That’s why we’re developing a new branding strategy for our Shire, so we have a competitive brand that will capitalise on the predicted increase in the domestic and self-drive holiday markets as current travel restrictions ease.

Basically, our new Shire brand will help us stand out from the crowd and compete to secure our share of the domestic and international tourism markets by capturing what represents us, our Shire and our community.

Bellingen Shire Council Mayor, Cr Dominic King.

The Facts

  • At the Extraordinary Council Meeting on the 3rd April Council resolved to reserve $145,000 for economic stimulus projects as part of the Bush Fire Recovery and Resilience Program
  • In response, Council developed five potential projects and a set of aims and objectives on what the projects should aim to achieve.

These were:

  1. Have a Shire-wide benefit
  2. Be sustainable and create a legacy which can benefit the economy for years to come
  3. Address and counter the greatest impacts experienced by the economy
  4. Leverage off existing resources and planning
  5. Stimulate an exponential benefit.
  • The projects were discussed with key stakeholders as the first phase of consultation. Stakeholders included: Regional Development Australia- Mid North Coast, Business NSW ( State Chamber body) and the Department of Regional Development NSW.  The three Chambers of Commerce were also briefed on the projects and given an opportunity for input and to submit alternative projects.
  • The second stage of the consultation included presenting the five projects to a council workshop on the 20th May. Councillors were asked to provide feedback or alternative project ideas.  
  • The projects were then posted on Council’s Community Engagement Hub for one month (6th June - 6th July) as the third stage in the consultation process. A survey was created to establish consensus from the community on what projects should be funded  
  • The most popular projects voted on were the Street Scape Renewal Grant Scheme and the Bellingen Shire Branding Strategy.
  • These results were taken back to the July 29 Council meeting to seek a resolution and endorsement of the two most popular projects. Council resolved to support both the Street Scape Renewal Project and the Branding Strategy
  • As the fourth phase of community engagement, a Creative Circle Consultation forum was established to provide guidance and input on Council projects requiring creative input.  This consultation included the Street Scape Renewal Scheme and the Branding Strategy.  The Creative Circle provided input on the Brief used for the Request for Quote process for the Branding Strategy
  • The Request for Quote process has been promoted widely throughout the Shire. This includes Bellingen Shire Council’s Create Platform, ilovebelloshire website, Bellingen Shire Tourism Database, Grants Database and Chamber of Commerce networks.

The full background and rationale on the Branding Strategy and how it relates to bush fire recovery and resilience is detailed in the Council Report attached here.

Changes to Signage for Regulated Parking Areas Within Bellingen

Bellingen Shire Council has recently undertaken the development of a Parking Management Strategy to improve the current parking situation within the town centres of Dorrigo, Urunga and Bellingen and provide the framework to create a well-connected, accessible and safe town centre that creates social activity and embraces the vibrant, lively nature that current exists in these local towns.

In response to the Parking Management Strategy, Council has recently undertaken works to the regulated parking areas within Bellingen to replace damaged and faded signage to ensure it is visible, legible, and legislatively compliant for residents and visitors alike.

Council will be conducting a review in the Bellingen Town Centre of compliance with regulatory parking signage by the public until Sunday 26 July 2020 and issuing warning advice.  Beyond this date Council will be increasing inspections to ensure compliance with the posted timeframes are enforced and monitor that appropriate turnover of vehicles occurs.

Community Leadership & Resilience Scholarship Scheme

Port Macquarie-Hastings, Kempsey and Bellingen Councils unite with Charles Sturt for crisis recovery

  • In a national first, three local councils will fund 59 places for Charles Sturt to train a skilled network of leaders to aid Mid North Coast’s current and future crisis responses
  • Port Macquarie-Hastings, Kempsey and Bellingen councils will together fund 59 places for selected community members and council employees to study two community leadership and resilience subjects with Charles Sturt
  • Scholarships for community members open on Wednesday 3 June and successful recipients will start online study at the end of the month

In the wake of COVID-19, bushfires, floods, and drought, three Mid North Coast councils have joined forces with Charles Sturt University to create and train a skilled network of local community leaders to fuel the region’s recovery.

Members selected for the network will commence their online study with Charles Sturt on Monday 29 June.

The University will create a dedicated study group for the network and will deliver the subjects so the group can target regional priorities and create solutions for the Mid North Coast region.

Applications for the community scholarships(External link) open on Wednesday 3 June and close on Wednesday 17 June. Further information is available(External link) on the Charles Sturt website.

To be eligible for the community scholarships, applicants must resident in the local government area for which they are applying, be able to demonstrate local community involvement, be willing to join and commit to the Mid North Coast Community Leadership and Resilience Network, and be able to dedicate time to university study. Further criteria is available(External link) on the Charles Sturt website.

The Facts - Commonwealth Disaster Recovery & Resilience Funding

On 9 January 2020 the Federal Government announced an immediate payment of $1M to the 42 Councils most impacted by the Bushfires which occurred across NSW in late 2019 and early 2020.  Bellingen Shire Council was a recipient of those funds, which was followed by a further allocation of $225K in February 2020.  Relevant correspondence is included in the report considered by Council on 3 April 2020, see link below.

Further to advice regularly sought from the NSW Office of Local Government, and in order to provide clarity around the administration of the funds, additional advice has been sought regarding the Commonwealth and State Government processes from the NSW Office of Emergency Management (NSW OEM), now Resilience NSW.

Advice received has reinforced that the funds were provided in accordance with the Commonwealth Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements 2018 (DRFA). Specifically, the Commonwealth has provided funding under Category D of the DRFA to the NSW Government, which has been provided to NSW Councils to be spent on projects and activities that council deems essential for the recovery and renewal of communities.

In terms of reporting, Council:

  1. was required to submit a program of works within three months
  2. is required to complete and report against the works within 12 months
  3. may adjust the program of works in consultation with Government

(Item one is complete following Council’s consideration of the matter on 3 April 2020 and subsequent advice to the NSW Government).

Additional grant opportunities

In addition, in early 2020 a range of additional grant opportunities emerged for economic recovery including:

  1. Bushfire Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Fund - $100,000
  2. Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Program – Stream 1 – up to $30,000
  3. Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Program – Stream 2 – undefined
  4. Regional Event Fund - Micro Events Fund - $10,000
  5. Regional Event Fund – Flagship Events - $20,000
  6. Special Disaster Grants – Up to $75,000 (for repairing of infrastructure)
  7. Supporting our Neighbours Project - $5,000 per km to rebuild fences
  8. Disaster Recovery Allowance – maximum payment is equal to the Job Seeker or Youth Allowance payment.

As these opportunities emerged Council staff developed projects and ideas in order to apply for grants available, either in its own right, or in conjunction with key stakeholders. Unfortunately, a number of the grant rounds were suspended as the Covid-19 pandemic began to emerge as many of the activities could not proceed due to social isolation and gathering restrictions.

Small Business Bushfire Grants extended to include Bellingen

Concurrent to this the Commonwealth Government announced funding for eligible small businesses to the value of $10,000. Seventeen Local Government Areas (LGA) were deemed eligible and this did not include the Bellingen LGA. Consequently, Council worked with the NSW Office of Emergency Management, and actively advocated to both the State and Commonwealth Government for inclusion of the Bellingen LGA in order that this grant opportunity be extended to businesses in the LGA. This required agreement from both the State and Commonwealth Government.

On 22 April 2020 the Commonwealth announced that the grant funding had been extended to a further 13 Councils including the Bellingen Local Government Area. In the intervening period grant funding opportunities have also emerged for small business, again for $10,000 per eligible business, relative to Covid-19.


In the context of the very short timeframes for initial reporting to the State regarding a program of works for the $1.225m, and other grants, Council staff developed a range of ideas for the program(s). In addition engagement was undertaken with the objective of understanding the perspective of a range of key stakeholders, including local business, through engagement with the Chambers of Commerce, State Agencies (including the Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife, the State Emergency Service), and the Red Cross.

In each of the sessions it was acknowledged that the process was not best practice,  and outlined that this was a proactive (not required) endeavour to engage, gather information for input into the decision making process, and that the decision making process would be undertaken by council.

Noting the foregoing these sessions were used to collate ideas, in addition to those proactively submitted from members of the community, to produce an initial list of themes and potential projects.

Examples of ideas submitted by members of the community/community groups include projects such as establishing affinity groups, fostering community resilience, and cultural burning. Examples of funding sought by the Chambers of Commerce included the following:

Bellingen Chamber of Commerce

  • Adoption of a $100 value Cards4all program for every ratepayer household in the Shire redeemable only in businesses within Bellingen Shire
  • Tourism marketing campaign and provision of a $50 stored value card redeemable only in businesses within Bellingen Shire for the first 600 visitors who have booked 3 or more nights’ accommodation

Urunga Chamber of Commerce

  • One-off $5000 grant for businesses that have sustained significant loss
  • Adoption of a $100 voucher program redeemable only in businesses within Bellingen Shire
  • Tourism marketing campaign and provision of a $50 voucher redeemable only in businesses within Bellingen Shire for the first 500 visitors who have booked 3 or more nights’ accommodation

Dorrigo Chamber of Commerce

  • One-off $1500 grant for tourist related private businesses in the Dorrigo area
  • One-off $1000 grant for all other shopfronts in the Dorrigo area
  • $30,000 seed funding for two proposed Dorrigo festivals and Dorrigo Markets
  • $125,000 Dorrigo TV advertising campaign
  • $40,000 for the establishment of the Evacuation Centre
  • $10,000 for the Dorrigo Chamber of Commerce to manage the above distributions

Individual Chambers of Commerce submissions can be viewed by accessing the Council business paper of 3 April 2020.

In turn, ideas and themes from the various sessions were used as a base for initiating discussions with a wider group of community members for their input – in an endeavour to allow Council to develop an understanding of what was important to our wider community. 

On 2 March 2020 a Community Advisory Panel was convened, inviting 28 community members from across the Shire.  The list of attendees was selected based on current council understanding of those that could provide a cross section of views across the Shire.  17 independent attendees were able to attend.  A local facilitator supported the session as did a representative from the NSW OEM.

The objectives of the session were to:

  • Provide an overview of project and funding opportunities
  • Seek community opinion on draft priority ranking of topics and example projects for community resilience funding to help inform Council’s decision-making process
  • Invite feedback on formation of a ‘community resilience group’ to provide input to Council’s longer-term decisions on local resilience
  • Start tracking our journey of recovery/preparedness/resilience building 

Attendees were asked to rank projects within each theme, identify new projects, and undertake an online survey.

Following the session, it was apparent that there had been a good cross over of representation from Urunga, Bellingen and the smaller communities surrounding Bellingen.  However, Council did not feel that there had been appropriate representation from Dorrigo, as only 1 attendee of those invited was represented.   This was important as Dorrigo and surrounds had been heavily impacted as a community by the bush fires. 

On 13 March 2020, a second consultation session was held in Dorrigo where 35 people were invited, of which 8 representatives were able to attend.  Those present were also invited to suggest any additional projects and provide priorities on the day and subsequently via the online survey.  

There was a strong response to the online survey, with 22 of the 25 attendees responding. 

Key Points in reference to the overall rankings from the survey:

  • 16 of 22 respondents voted Community Preparedness for an Emergency as either 1st or 2nd highest priority theme
  • 20 people voted economic recovery as 4th, 5th or 6th priority theme
  • The Community Resilience Hub project was the highest scored project within the Community Preparedness theme

Although the personal and community support and economic recovery and development did not have high community support, several of the grants available are focused in these areas. All grant opportunities are being actively pursued.

Council resolution

Post the engagement sessions, Councillors work-shopped the various initiatives and projects prior to the Council meeting to consider the matter, originally scheduled for 25 March 2020. Unfortunately, that meeting was cancelled due to Covid-19, and social distancing requirements because at that time the opportunity to hold a virtual meeting was not legislated by the State.

Notwithstanding that Council did call an Extraordinary Meeting for 3 April 2020 once the virtual meeting was a possibility in order to consider several matters, including the allocation of the commonwealth funding and other relief measures.

On 3 April 2020, Council at its Extraordinary meeting endorsed the funding application/reports totalling $1.605M for the delivery of projects to support the Shire’s Recovery and Resilience/Preparedness activity following the Bushfires from the $1.225M government allocation and other potential grant opportunities.

Council’s resolution in the matter is as follows:

1) That Council endorse that funding application/reports totalling $1.605M be submitted

for the delivery of the following projects to support the Shire’s Recovery and

Resilience/Preparedness activity following the Bushfires (either immediately or when

cited grant rounds reopen):

a) Community Preparedness for Emergency: $675K, funded as follows:

i) Community Resilience Hub - $365K from Disaster Recovery Fund

ii) Emergency Information - $85K from Disaster Recovery Fund

iii) Resilience Disaster Response (Pilot) - $225K from Disaster Recovery Fund

b) Overarching Resilience Activity (All): $205K, funded as follows:

i) Resilience Coordinator - $145K from Disaster Recovery Fund

ii) Inter-Agency Disaster Management Forum - $10K from Disaster Recovery


iii) Deliberative Panel - $50K from Disaster Recovery Fund

c) Environmental Recovery & Development: $95K, funded as follows:

i) Advocate: better trails and for natural assets to be part of State/Federal

policies - $0K

ii) Indigenous Fire protection - $5K from Disaster Recovery Fund

iii) Vegetation Report and Plan - $90K from Disaster Recovery Fund

d) Infrastructure Restoration & Development: $170K, funded as follows:

i) Investment in Infrastructure - $120K from Disaster Recovery Fund

ii) Options Report alternative routes - $50K – from Disaster Recovery Fund

e) Personal & Community Support: $185K, funded as follows:

i) Art Recovery - $50K from Regional Tourism BFRG-2 (POSTPONED)

ii) Coordinate a Shire appropriate response to Mental Health Support with

agencies- $0K

iii) Community Event Sponsorship Fund - $100K from Regional Tourism BFRG-2


iv) Community Get Together - $35K from Disaster Recovery Fund.

f) Economic Recovery & Development: $275K, funded as follows:

i) Event Stimulus Fund – $100K from Regional Tourism BFRG-2 (POSTPONED)

ii) Host Tourism Awards – $30K from Regional Tourism BFRG-1 (POSTPONED)

iii) That the submission includes an economic recovery and development project to

the value of $145k and there be further consultation in this regard.

2) That Council receive progress reports in the matter

More specific detail on each of the proposed projects (including funding breakdowns and rationale for inclusion) may be viewed by accessing the business paper for the Extraordinary Council Meeting Agenda of 3 April 2020, however projects identified in the report include, but are not limited to:

Community Resilience Hub

At a high level, a Community Resilience Hub (CRH) is a community-serving facility augmented to support residents and coordinate resource distribution and services before, during, or after a disaster.

CRHs leverage established, trusted, and community-managed facilities that are used year-round as neighbourhood centres for community-building activities. CRH enhance community recovery and preparedness and contribute to local quality of life. In addition, they have the potential to reduce burden on local emergency response teams, improve access to health improvement initiatives, foster greater community cohesion, and increase the effectiveness of community-centred institutions and programs.

Moreover, Resilience Hubs provide an opportunity to build local community power and leadership. They are focal points for neighbourhood revitalization that provide the resources residents need to enhance their own individual capacity while also supporting and strengthening their neighbourhood and neighbours.

Consequently, the Resilience Hub will be designed by the community to meet their needs and this process will occur over the next 12 months.  There are examples in the Council report of 3 April 2020 of what may be funded, and its functions may include:

  • A physical location
  • A meeting space for community groups that are involved in resilience activities
  • Home to micro communities
  • Resources for community
  • Advice on access to funding
  • Supporting governance and mutual alignment
  • Funding of key community preparedness capital/projects

For ease of reference the table below outlines at a high level the breakdown of the subprojects and rationale.

Resilience Disaster Response Project

Council’s allocation of funding seeks to ensure investment in bushfire recovery also addressed Covid-19 or any other disaster, because as a community we want to be better prepared.  This is a core part of preparedness and building of resilience.

For ease of reference the table below outlines at a high level the breakdown of the subprojects and rational

The Resilience Disaster Response Project (pilot for Covid-19) relates to funding of any expenses (outside of Council seconded resources that are being borne solely by council) that have come about via the Pandemic Response Group (PRG) and relate to the building of Community Resilience.

Council was concerned to ensure our community was as prepared as possible, and to build a resilience model that could be stood up and stood down as required, which necessitated a body of work and resourcing. Therefore, the Pandemic was seen as an opportunity to pilot some of the community responses that a Resilience Hub would likely have stood up.

This has resulted thus far in the creation of the Neighbourhood Care Network (NCN), the Bellingen Shire Connects website and the Connections centre (with processes and procedures that can be stood up/down in future emergencies or become part of the community resilience hub as appropriate) and the Business Support Network.

Council have not used this funding to reimburse any of their resources but have seconded their staff to support this community led activity.  Therefore, this funding is being used to support community groups and the initiatives outlined above. Lastly this does not duplicate any other Covid-19 funding.

Infrastructure Investment and Restoration

It is appreciated that the infrastructure restoration allocation is likely to be an area having multiple demands placed upon it.  Council is currently recruiting to the role of Community Recovery, Preparedness and Resilience Officer. Once that person is in place, they will be focusing on prioritising activity, engaging with communities and establishing governance arrangements.  This activity will review in finer detail of the high-level projects. 

For ease of reference the table below outlines at a high level the breakdown of the subprojects and rationale.

Deliberative Panel

Deliberative democracy or deliberative engagement is all about placing people (citizens, residents, affected individuals) closer to the affairs of government and decision makers. Deliberative democracy emphasises information processing (meaning/sense-making) as much as information exchange (communication of information), and encourages people to critically test, weigh up and grapple with a range of perspectives, inputs and evidence.  Deliberative approaches seek to elicit informed, quality, meaningful outputs.

The function of the Panel will be to listen to options, be provided with detailed information and then deliberate as a group and make a recommended course of action to council on challenging recovery/preparedness/resilience issues facing our community.  The design of the panel will seek to ensure demographic representation across the Shire via an appropriate democratic process (details to be determined).  The funding will be used to ensure that the panel is informed via the utilisation of expert information providers on the subject, setting up of governance and gaining appropriate member representation, provision of a location and relevant costs for running the panel, recording and collating the outcomes and reporting back to the panel.

Additional funding opportunities

In addition, in terms of funding for economic recovery, Council has allocated or identified additional grant funding opportunities (that are being actively pursued) to the value of $145,000 and $230,000 respectively and once the Community Recovery Preparedness and Resilience and Preparedness Officer is in place, they will be focusing on prioritising activity, engaging with communities and establishing governance arrangements to support the programs and funding distribution.

This activity will review in finer detail all the high-level projects including ensuring that further consultation takes place regarding the investment of $145K for economic recovery, in keeping with Council’s resolution in the matter. 

In accordance with the discussion held at the Council meeting, the consultation is wide (in terms of reflecting all businesses in the shire) and enables all ideas and priorities to be put forward for consideration and deliberation. We look forward to moving forward with this activity once resources are on board to do so.

Other related matters

Comparative to other Councils

Council’s resolution of 3 April 2020 allocated $145,000 to economic development and recovery. As outlined above, this is in addition to a range of additional similarly focused grants valued at around $230,000 which have either been applied for or will be when they are re-established post Covid-19.

The Council report of 3 April 2020 notes the type and value of projects approved in neighbouring councils, the detail of which can be viewed on pages 48-50 and at the time of preparation of the report, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council had allocated $100,000 of its $1.4M allocation to marketing campaign/tourism/business; Nambucca Shire Council made no allocation to economic development/business; and Coffs Harbour City Council allocated $68,000 to business and tourism support, strategies to move visitors to affected areas.

Council relief to disaster

It is also important to note that at its 3 April 2020 meeting Council considered a report regarding relief measures to the community in response to the pandemic crisis inclusive of Council providing immediate relief to tenants in one Council owned set of buildings to the value of $5000 per month.

The report can be accessed here:

Extraordinary Council Meeting

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, relevant legislation has been amended to allow Councils to meet ‘virtually’ (on-line) and observe best practice social distancing and isolation protocols.

As a consequence, an Extraordinary Council Meeting will be held at 3pm Friday 03 April 2020 and will be conducted in a virtual environment (on-line).

The Extraordinary Meeting Agenda will be available online prior to the meeting and an audio recording of the meeting will also be uploaded to Council’s website at:

Please also note that Council’s Bellingen Customer Service Centre, including Council Chambers, remain closed to the public to protect the safety and well-being of our community, Councillors, volunteers, contractors and staff.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Update

To provide our community with the latest NSW Health Advice Coronavirus Community Updates and promote an awareness of Council's Bellingen Shire Corona Virus Pandemic Response Group's current local response and support initiatives, simply click here to find out more.

Desalination Update

Council has been working with the State Government to proactively investigate options to secure our Shire’s water supply, including the proposed construction of an emergency water supply contingency in the form of a portable desalination plant.

This body of work has been complex and has required detailed planning, design and approval processes to be undertaken, inclusive of the procurement processes necessary to secure the provision of plant and associated infrastructure for a fixed period.

Given the current flows in the Bellinger River and the predicted continued rainfall over the coming months the desalination plant may not be required, however the planning and design phase of these works will continue and be finalised and Council will continue to work closely with DPI Water and the Regional Town Water Supply Coordinator.

Pilot Street Urunga Rail Overbridge - Temporary Closure

Contractors John Holland, on behalf of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, will be undertaking bridge maintenance works on the rail overbridge on Pilot Street Urunga from Tuesday 3 March to Wednesday 11 March.

The bridge will be closed to all traffic between the hours of 9.00am to 3.00pm and detours will be in place during these hours and access through the bridge site will be controlled by traffic control outside of the closure hours.

Thinking of running for Local Government?

The next Local Government election will be held on Saturday, 12 September 2020, therefore it’s timely to consider contributing to our local community and becoming a Councillor.

To find out more about the role of a Councillor and information on the nomination process visit Council's Create Page via the link below:

Bushfire Recovery Fund

As an active and proud member of the Australian community, Budget Direct has created the Budget Direct Bushfire Recovery Fund.

Budget Direct is inviting community groups to apply for grants of up to $20,000 from the fund to help these groups repair or replace damaged or destroyed facilities and/or equipment that aren’t covered by insurance.

Applications are now open and close at midnight AEST, 31 March 2020 so to find out more about who can apply, and the fund’s eligibility criteria simply click on the link below:

Potential disruption to kerbside waste collections

Due to adverse weather conditions and local flooding, there is a potential for some disruption and delays to the kerbside waste collections.

Bellingen Shire residents are advised to place their bin out on the kerbside on their usual collection day and to leave it there until collected.

We thank you for your understanding.

Contact Coffs Coast Waste Services on 1800 265 495 for further collection information or check the Coffs Coast waste Services FaceBook page

Bellingen Shire Benefits from Koala Conservation

The Great Koala National Park (GKNP) operates the Urunga Visitor Information Centre in conjunction with Visitor Information Centre volunteers to raise awareness of GKNP’s efforts to establish sustainable Koala populations in our region and to promote Urunga and all that our Shire has to offer.

This arrangement delivers the best possible outcomes for our local environment and economy as it meets the needs of visitors to our Shire and promotes opportunities for nature-based tourism initiatives.

Council’s previous efforts to attract a replacement tenant were also unsuccessful, so this new arrangement also allows Council to minimise its previous operational and maintenance costs and minimises the risk of graffiti or vandalism that an otherwise vacant facility may have attracted.

Bridge Flood Camera Network Niggles - 07/02/2020

Council’s Bridge Flood Camera Network was not only tested by the weather but by some technical challenges as well thanks to the low-pressure trough which caused flood like conditions across our Shire.

While the camera network performed well throughout much of the severe weather event, unfortunately the Lithium Ion battery which allows the Lavenders Bridge camera to wirelessly send the images it captures failed, which saw the system go off-line for several hours during the night.

The service provider has since replaced the failed battery and is working on upgrading the battery capacity for the Lavenders Bridge Camera and supporting the battery’s long-term charge capacity with a solar panel.

The Lean’s Bridge and Moody’s bridge cameras also experienced temporary difficulties transmitting images over the 4G Network due to signal interference caused by the severe low-pressure storm cells and the service provider is working on upgrading the antennas of these two cameras to boost their signal capacity.

The service provider has also placed a service crew on stand-by to monitor the performance of the camera network while these network upgrades are being delivered and to address any onsite issues should that be necessary.

Parliamentary Inquiry into Koala Populations & Habitat

Council appeared before the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Koala Populations and Habitat in Port Macquarie this week. Council took the opportunity to highlight the critical importance of our Shire’s koala population and the need for landscape wide approaches to koala habitat protection that cover multiple land tenures including private land, National Parks and Forestry Corporation estate.

Fortunately, koala populations within our Shire have remained largely unaffected by the recent bushfires that have ravaged landscapes and koala populations elsewhere within our region, which means Council’s efforts to preserve and support our remaining koala populations are now more important than ever.

Tree Removal at Jarret Park

In response to a call from a concerned resident, Council’s tree crew and a consulting arborist inspected a mature Dunn’s White Gum Tree located in Jarret Park adjacent to the toilet block.

The arborist’s inspection identified that the tree had an extreme structural failure in its trunk approximately two meters above ground level and that the tree was expected to fall at any moment.

Given the risk the tree posed due to its large size (approximately 1.3m wide and 30m tall), the arborist recommended to remove the tree immediately and Council’s tree crew secured the site and removed the tree.

Main Street Vandalism

The reports of vandalism to public and private property along Hyde Street over the weekend are disappointing for all of us.

Disappointing because the bad behaviour of a few people directly affects us as a community and reflects poorly on our town.

Council crews and mains street traders have collectively cleaned up the mess left by these careless vandals and surveillance cameras in the area are currently being checked to try and identify the culprits.

The matter has been referred to the police and anyone with further information is urged to contact Bellingen Police on 6655 1444.

Mayor's comment - Local Housing Strategy

Council’s recent adoption of our Shire’s Local Housing Strategy marks the completion of a journey that started two years ago when as a community, we began working together to identify our shared vison, hopes and aspirations on how we wanted our Shire to grow.

As a community you have all played a key role in shaping our Local Housing Strategy, which reflects our priorities for future housing growth and ideas on how to address the complex opportunities and challenges facing our Shire.

So I’d personally like to thank our community for coming together and working with us to create this shared vision that will guide housing growth in our Shire for the next 20 years and ensure our future housing needs are affordable, sustainable and maintain the existing character of this special place we all call home.