Designing with Country
The purpose of the project is to bring to life the connection between Aboriginal culture and the waterways and land in the catchment through interpretive design elements for the community to understand and enjoy. It also aims to strengthen ties with local Aboriginal communities to foster opportunities for collaboration and partnership on projects related to waterway health and management.
The project is funded through a grant under the Metropolitan Greenspace Program, which supports councils to deliver projects that improve regional open space and community liveability as part of the NSW Government’s vision for a ‘Green Grid’ across Greater Sydney and the Central Coast.
The PRCG will work closely with a panel of Aboriginal representatives and their communities, local councils and Sydney Water to develop a catchment-wide design guide that specifies standards around the use of language, art, landscaping and other elements. The guide will also identify locations for future interpretive design projects that may include murals, sculptures, tree plantings and heritage trails.
A research document on the cultural significance of the waterways and surrounding places as well as the lived experiences of Aboriginal people within the catchment will also be produced, based on oral histories and other input in consultation with panel members and their communities.
The Designing with Country project supports the objectives of the Parramatta River Masterplan to recognise the traditional owners of the Parramatta River and their important cultural ties to Country. It also aims to increase Aboriginal leadership in waterway governance by strengthening relationships between local and state government agencies, Aboriginal groups and community members, to facilitate ongoing management and business opportunities. The project is expected to be completed by September 2022.
Aboriginal Design Framework Request for Quotation – NOW CLOSED
The submission period for quotations has now closed. Thank you to those organisations that sent us a proposal. We’ll continue to provide regular updates on the Designing with Country project through our website and social media platforms.
Community Representative Panel Expressions of Interest – NOW CLOSED
The submission period for expressions of interest has now closed. Thank you to those organisations that sent us a proposal. For more information, contact the PRCG Coordinator, Nell Graham, on 9121 0009 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Parramatta Riverside Walk mural created by Ngemba artist Jamie Eastwood in 2000.
Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program
The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) and Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) have partnered to develop a Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program (GSHCMP). The program aims to establish a long-term strategy for the coordinated management of the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment, to mitigate the potential adverse impacts of population growth, climate change (including sea-level rise) and catchment runoff.
The Greater Sydney Harbour catchment comprises four smaller catchments, including Parramatta River, Lane Cove River, Middle Harbour and the remaining foreshore areas draining into Port Jackson. As the centrepiece of Australia’s largest city, the harbour and its tributaries are subject to intense human activity which presents coastal managers with many challenges.
Developing a whole-of-catchment Coastal Management Program is a complex task involving 33 stakeholders. Participation by all levels of government and the community is key to achieving a strategic and coordinated management framework to improve waterway health outcomes.
Organisations involved in the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program
The SCCG is the project manager for the GSHCMP Project Team, Steering Committee and Partners Group. Professor Bruce Thom from the NSW Coastal Council is the Chair.
The Project Team consists of members from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, NSW Coastal Council, NSW Environment Protection Authority, PRCG and the SCCG.
The Steering Committee assists in guiding the governance arrangements, cost sharing and development of the grant for the GSHCMP. It includes various state agency members, the SCCG, PRCG, Greater Sydney Commission, Transport NSW and Sydney Water.
The Partners Group assists the Steering Committee in ensuring appropriate consultation and collaboration across all relevant parties involved in the management and use of Sydney Harbour. The Partners Group is mainly comprised of local councils.
What is a Coastal Management Program?
The purpose of a Coastal Management Program (CMP) is to develop a long-term strategy for managing the coastal zone. CMPs take into consideration historical events, current conditions and future trends, such as population growth and climate change, to identify coastal management issues and the actions required to address them in a strategic and unified way.
There are five stages in the development of a CMP:
- Stage 1: Identify the scope of a CMP
- Stage 2: Determine risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities
- Stage 3: Identify and evaluate options
- Stage 4: Prepare, exhibit, finalise, certify and adopt the CMP
- Stage 5: Implement, monitor, evaluate and report.
All coastal and estuarine NSW councils are required to develop a CMP, which replaces the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) and Estuary Management Plan. CMPs are prepared by local councils in accordance with the coastal management manual, and in consultation with their communities and relevant public authorities.
The Greater Sydney Harbour CMPs will take a whole of catchment approach to address water quality issues for the Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour and are being developed in accordance with the Coastal Management Act (2016). The Act establishes specific roles and responsibilities for relevant Ministers, the NSW Coastal Council, public authorities and local councils, as well as providing opportunities for communities to participate when preparing and implementing a CMP.
Find out more about Coastal Management Programs.
Progress of the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program
Stage 1 Scoping Study
The Stage 1 Scoping Study for the GSHCMP was completed in 2018 as a collaborative project involving stakeholders from local and state government, Sydney Water and the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences.
The Scoping Study aimed to:
- Identify opportunities for collaborative partnering in development of GSHCMP
- Recommend whole-of-system approach
- Outline a Preliminary Risk Assessment
- Provide a Forward Plan
- Detail studies that will contribute to Stage 2.
A Sydney Harbour Water Quality Improvement Plan was also completed, which provides a strong base for the development of the GSHCMP.
The scope of the GSHCMP
The Scoping Study focused on the four management areas defined in the Coastal Management Act (2016): wetlands and littoral rainforests, coastal use areas, coastal environment areas and coastal use areas. It also encompassed the tidal waterways of Port Jackson, Parramatta River, Lane Cove River, Middle Harbour and their catchments.
The Scoping Study recommended a whole-of-system approach with a long-term vision to:
- Support the coordinated management and ecologically sustainable development of Greater Sydney Harbour to maintain its exceptional social, cultural, economic and environmental values, and symbolic status as Australia’s most globally iconic waterway.
- Progress to the next stage (Stage 2) that will focus on coastal hazards and threats.
Stage 2 Planning Grant Application for the Coastal and Estuary Grants Program
In September 2021, the SCCG and PRCG were successful in securing a $274,000 grant through the NSW Government’s Coastal and Estuary Grants Program, to address the impact of urban stormwater discharge on receiving waters. The program aims to increase the resilience of coastal communities and implement actions to improve the health of the NSW coastlines and estuaries.
The funding will contribute towards the consolidation of all urban stormwater data, enabling individual councils to develop management actions that will be considered as part of the GSHCMP, in coordination with the management programs of state agencies.
The negative impacts of urban stormwater runoff on Greater Sydney Harbour was identified as a key issue in the Stage 1 Scoping Study.
The grant application involved the support of 20 councils in the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment. It is the largest collaboration of local government agencies to have received a NSW Government planning grant.
Regional Litter Prevention Strategy for Greater Sydney Harbour
The project is being funded through a $90,000 grant from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in the Own It and Act: Round 6 Community Litter Grant funding stream.
Over the next five years, the strategy aims to reduce litter to Greater Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers by 50 per cent – equivalent to half the 2,150 cubic metres of marine debris collected by the Maritime Environmental Services in 2019 which would fill almost half an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
The strategy will create a unified and coordinated approach to litter prevention across the Greater Sydney Harbour catchments, by establishing clear actions and programs that can be
embedded in all participating councils and community organisations.
Community engagement and involvement are also a key part of the strategy, through the development of training and riverkeeper ambassador programs, foreshore clean-ups, and litter enforcement campaigns.
Actions within the strategy will be tested with community organisations and businesses in three pilot council areas, before being rolled out to all remaining member councils of the SCCG and PRCG across the Greater Sydney Harbour region.
A Project Officer has been appointed who will collaborate with key stakeholders and develop the strategy under the direction of the RLPS Steering Committee.
Standardise the Standards – Final Recommendations Paper
The Parramatta River flows through the geographic heart of Sydney and one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. Making the river swimmable delivers on the sustainability and liveability goals in the Greater Sydney Commission’s District Plans and is core to achieving the vision for Sydney’s Central River City.
Step 4 of the Parramatta River Masterplan is focused on reviewing the strategic and statutory planning frameworks that contribute to delivering our vision for a world class river. Working closely with our partners, our review has resulted in the release of a recommendations paper, Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River.
The paper sets out three broad areas for planning reform:
- Simple updates to council’s Local Environment Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs), to adopt over the next few years. These changes will ensure that development does more to reduce stormwater pollution and foster healthy ecosystems.
- Developing, piloting and adopting two new frameworks for improving waterway health outcomes in new development:
- A Blue Green Index Tool for assessing development applications
- A Blue Green Grid for riparian mapping
- Working with our project partners and stakeholders to strengthen and support waterway health considerations in all planning approval pathways. This will require broader reform beyond the remit of local government.
Standardise the Standards – Final Recommendations Paper
Download the full Final Recommendations Paper
Recommendations Paper Executive Summary
Download the Recommendations Paper Executive Summary
To get an overview of this planning reform work, please watch this short video.
Final Recommendations Paper Webinar Series
The consultancy team from Civille and Macquarie University held a series of short webinars in order to share the key recommendations in the recently released paper for Step 4: Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River and get attendees thinking about how we move the recommendations into implementation.
Webinar 1: Improving local planning provisions for diffuse stormwater pollution and waterway health
This webinar provides council and agency staff with an overview of the drivers for policy reform to address the issues of diffuse stormwater pollution and waterway health in new development. It covers the recommendations contained within the recently released paper for Step 4: Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River, focusing on the two key policy directions: the blue green index for WSUD and green infrastructure and the blue-green grid of waterway and riparian land. The webinar then goes into some detail on the actions specific to councils on updating their Local Environment Plans and Development Control Plans.
Webinar 2: A blue-green index to reduce diffuse stormwater pollution
This webinar introduces the proposed new blue-green index tool. We explain how we think this new tool can address the complex planning issues that exist in stormwater management in Sydney. We also look at the proposed features of this new tool and compare it to similar tools that have been adopted in Australia and elsewhere. We will then go into the steps required to pilot the tool and a discussion on the challenges.
Webinar 3: Blue-green grid for improved waterway health
This webinar introduces the concept of a blue-green grid for the Parramatta River catchment. It is suitable for council and agency staff interested in waterway and catchment management, strategic planning and biodiversity conservation. We discuss the reasons why we need the blue-green grid, how it could be implemented across the catchment, and the next steps required to develop the grid.