2016–17 Annual Report
From our Chair
On behalf of our staff and board, I am pleased to present our 2016–17 Annual Report.
As you read this review of our 2016–17 year, you’ll see many examples where we’ve made a difference.
We have helped landholders recover from bushfire and floods, manage pests and weeds, protect our markets, build a healthy and connected landscape and increase agricultural productivity.
Our board and staff have worked hard to build confidence in our organisation and deliver value for our customers and investors.
We are helping secure the future of agriculture and the environment for NSW communities.
Present in the paddock
There is no other independent organisation like us in NSW. Our staff are on the ground to build relationships with our customers and deliver on a personal level.
We have over 800 staff throughout the state to provide the advice, resources and support that land managers need.
Our staff work and live in the communities we serve.
Our summary of operations from page seven shows the breadth and depth of work our staff deliver.
Support during emergencies
The year brought challenges across NSW through bushfires and floods.
Our staff were present and active to support the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)—the lead agency for animals and agriculture during emergencies.
Our staff helped animals in need, collated damage reports and advised the community on recovery.
Landholder feedback has been universally positive. We will continue to support communities as disasters hit.
My thanks to those who worked in these emergency responses, and to those who kept our business delivering in their absence.
Gearing up for sustainable land management and biosecurity reforms
Local Land Services is well placed to implement the NSW Government’s land management and biosecurity reforms.
The 2016–17 financial year was a critical period in the reform process to build the capacity and resources to launch in August 2017.
Our sustainable land management team is embedded within our regions and are working closely with landholders to guide them through the new framework.
Our biosecurity staff are also trained and ready to support landholders on implementing their shared responsibilities under the Biosecurity Act 2015.
During the year we have made solid progress to building an accountability framework into Local Land Services.
In response to Minister Blair’s Charter Letter (see page 38), we have initiated action towards the all
19 outlined priorities. Five priorities are now complete and we continue to report to Minister Blair against remaining 14.
The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has previously completed two audits into our communications and governance arrangements.
Audits such as these are an opportunity to improve our business performance and we are delivering against the audits’ recommendations.
As at 30 June 2017, Local Land Services has responded and actioned the majority of these recommendations.
Of the remaining actions, all are in progress and are expected be completed in the 2017–18 financial year.
The reporting period saw changes in our senior leadership. Our statewide Chair Tim de Mestre stepped down from his position after leading a number of key reforms during his tenure.
Our inaugural Executive Manager, Tim Ferraro, also left our organisation during 2016–17.
He led Local Land Services as a one-stop shop for farmers and land managers. Our statewide governance structure and an aligned strategic direction are legacies to his work.
I thank both for their contributions to the success of Local Land Services.
David Witherdin was appointed as Executive Director.
David came to Local Land Services from the Soil Conservation Service where he held the position of General Manager.
New Board members
Our Boards saw a changing of the guard, with the appointment and election of new Board members.
I congratulate all of the candidates on joining our organisation and welcome their contribution over the coming years.
They have put up their hands to serve and provide regional leadership. These men and women will be a voice for the views of our customers and other stakeholders.
Thank you to our inaugural Boards members for their commitment over our first three years.
Improving land management through research and community grants
You will see in this report that our regions have partnered with universities and other research institutes to develop more than 87 research and development projects.
We also contributed more than $10 million in funding to community groups across NSW. This gave 239 non-government community organisations the capacity to make real change in our landscape.
Virus release for rabbit control
Our biosecurity staff have supported the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and DPI in the national release of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV1).
Local Land Services staff engaged landholders to release the virus in more than 200 control sites.
This role is possible through our close community connections and on ground knowledge.
Community consultation - travelling stock reserves and weeds
We worked with Crown Lands to engaged the community in the review of the travelling stock reserve (TSR) network.
This work will help the state better understand and manage crown land now and into the future.
We also consulted our communities on weed reform in the development of regional weed strategies.
Weeds are estimated to cost Australian agriculture $2.5 billion in lost production and $1.8 billion in control activities every year.
These regional strategies form a fundamental piece of weed management reform and the Biosecurity Act 2015.
Our funding partners
The work of our staff and our many projects and programs would not be possible without the support of our funding partners.
The Australian government’s National Landcare Program and the NSW Government’s Catchment Action NSW program have enabled Local Land Services to make a difference to our communities and landscape.
During 2016–17 we also invested $3 m of Australian government funding to help landholders manage for drought, pests and weeds
The work supported by our NSW rural ratepayers also continues to manage pests and diseases, and maintain market access for our agricultural products.
As we move into 2018, I am excited by our potential and the value that we can continue to deliver.
Please read our 2016–17 Annual Report as a summary of how we have served our community.
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