Many people living in Victoria’s border communities have economic and social networks that extend into New South Wales and South Australia. But legislative and regulatory differences between states can discourage people from taking up work and study opportunities across the border, while these differences can also prevent firms from doing business.
The need for a Victorian Cross Border Commission to broker agreements with other states for improved regulatory and service outcomes has long been recognised by border communities.
In 2016, the issue was taken up by the Mallee Regional Partnership.
The Partnership region shares borders with New South Wales and South Australia, while six other Regional Partnerships also share a border with these states.
In late 2017, RDV consulted with a range of organisations including local councils, state government agencies, industry associations and stakeholder groups to inform the development of a business case to establish the Victorian Cross Border Commission.
All organisations consulted supported the establishment of a Commission, many citing examples of barriers faced by citizens and businesses in the areas of education, transport, labour mobility and access to markets. For example, people working in construction trades, education and hospitality need dual accreditation and licenses to work across states, while the consultation heard of people travelling for hours to access further education when the same course was offered close to home, but just across the border.
In Budget 2018/ 19, the Victorian Government committed $800,000 to fund the first ever Victorian Cross Border Commission for its first two years.
The purpose of the Commission is to work with communities on resolving issues that impact on businesses, organisations and citizens who live, work and operate across state borders. Making it easier for firms to do business in other states has potential economic benefits, while addressing administrative and regulatory barriers to people accessing education, justice, health and human services has the potential to improve health and social outcomes in border communities.
Recruitment for Victoria’s inaugural Cross Border Commissioner is now well underway.