THE Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has announced further advances with its plans to decentralise and improve links with regional stakeholders.
Authority staff members were briefed about the changes this morning, which includes opening three new offices beyond Canberra.
To enhance links with Basin communities, the MDBA says it will be opening the new offices in Toowoomba, Queensland; Albury-Wodonga, on the NSW and Victorian border; and Adelaide, South Australia.
MDBA CEO Phillip Glyde said within the next two years about 10 per cent of MDBA staff, or up to 30 employees, were expected to voluntarily relocate to the new regional offices.
Mr Glyde said the MDBA’s regionalised approach would be good for basin communities; not just the centres it was establishing in.
“Regionally based staff will help us improve information exchange between communities and the MDBA, strengthen our policy and program decisions through better consideration of local impacts and give communities a better understanding of the MDBA’s work,” he said.
“The next step for us is to continue consulting with our staff to identify those with an interest in moving to one of the regions, while we lock in accommodation in these centres.”
Mr Glyde said he was confident that the regionalisation process would be managed through voluntary relocation of current staff to these new offices.
He said the Authority anticipated a range of policy, program and corporate roles will be relocated and was confident of being able to attract suitably skilled staff to perform the varied roles required to deliver the MDBA’s work at the selected locations.
Mr Glyde said that the new three regional offices would complement the MDBA’s trial of regional engagement officers (REOs) and the Canberra office.
“These regional offices combined with our REO network will ensure that we have a physical presence in each Basin state,” Mr he said.
“We’re pleased with the insights that REOs are already bringing to our work and will review our REO pilot program in October 2017, to inform how best to continue the program in the future.
“In the current trial we’ve partnered with a range of community, natural resource management and local government organisations to employ part-time regional engagement officers.”
Mr Glyde said he was also pleased to confirm two REOs for the Barwon-Darling and Lower Balonne communities to join existing ones in Shepparton, north-east Victoria, Sunraysia, Western Riverina, and Murray Bridge.
Mr Glyde said the MDBA would monitor the progress of both regionalisation and the REO network and would make the transitions in a considered manner.
Funding for the regional offices and REO network will be drawn from existing resources, he said.