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Ward boundaries

Learn more about the requirements Local Government Authorities (LGA) must meet to manage their obligations under section 211 of the Local Government Act 1993 No 30.

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Altering ward boundaries

The council of an area that is divided into wards is required by section 211 of the Local Government Act 1993 No 30 to keep ward boundaries under review. If an alteration to ward boundaries is undertaken, the council is required, among other things, to consult the Electoral Commissioner.

 The most efficient way to ascertain if there is a variation of greater than 10% is as follows:

  1. Find the difference between the ward with the most electors and the ward with the fewest electors
  2. Divide that difference by the number of electors in the smallest ward (that is, the ward with the fewest electors)
  3. If the result is more than 10%, follow the ward boundary alteration processes

For example: a Local Government Area where the largest ward has 10,000 electors, and the smallest ward has 9,000 electors:

  • Ward A: 10,000 electors (largest ward)

  • Ward B: 9,000 electors (smallest ward)

  • Ward C: 9,400 electors

  • Ward D: 9,600 electors

Difference between Ward A and Ward B: 10,000 – 9,000 = 1,000

Difference as a percentage of Ward B (smallest ward): 1,000/9,000 = 0.111 (11%)

In the above example, there is a variation of more than 10% between the number of electors in two wards of the Area. As the variation is greater than 10%, the council is required to alter its ward boundaries in compliance with section 211 of Local Government Act 1993.

The Office of Local Government Circular to Council (PDF, 0.1MB) provides information on how to calculate the 10% variation along with other relevant information.

As outlined, the deadline for the finalisation of ward boundaries and ward name changes for the 2024 Local Government elections has been set at 5 October 2023.

Enrolment data

The enrolment data contained on this website has been sourced from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). This data reflects the electoral roll held by the AEC at the date of extraction shown in the file or directory name.

Note SA1s shown in all files prior to the 26 April 2023 on this website use the 2016 Census SA1s. From 26 April 2023 the enrolment data uses the 2021 SA1 boundaries (see ABS link below, section 5).

Enrolment by variance of wards

The Enrolment Variance Report identifies the percentage variance between the highest and lowest ward enrolment for each LGA with wards. The calculation has been done in accordance with Office of Local Government Circular to Council (PDF, 0.1MB).

The report is a static point in time and councils should undertake their own checks as to the current status of the variance in their ward boundaries.

Where a Council has completed their ward boundary redistribution since the 2021 Local Government Election the new ward boundary will not be applied in the roll management system until just prior to the 2024 Local Government Election.

Enrolment by LGA/Ward and SA1

The link below provides access to all the AEC’s EX35 files for NSW for given dates of extraction.

These files prior to 26 April 2023 contain LGA/ward Enrolment Statistics by 2016 SA1s. Files dated from 26 April 2023 onwards provide enrolment statistics by 2021 Statistical Area Level 1 Boundaries (SA1).

A new file is added monthly. The file shows the number of electors within a given SA1 for all LGAs and Wards in NSW. The file also identifies the total number of electors by LGA and if appropriate by Ward.

It is suggested files are downloaded to local drive by right clicking on the file name and selecting “Save Target As”. The data is extracted from the AEC’s live database and therefore is only current as at time of extraction.

In order to successfully join the file with the geospatial layer for the SA1 boundaries the hyphens and extra rows will need to be removed from the EX35 file.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) mapping data

The link below provides access to 2021 ABS Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) mapping data.

This data must be used by all Councils when submitting final ward alterations to the NSWEC after April 2023. The AEC moved its enrolment system to 2021 SA1s in early 2023 and as such all boundary information after this date uses 2021 SA1 coding.

The files are available to download as both ESRI Shapefile and Geodatabase. Please ensure it is the Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) ASGS ED 2021 Digital Boundaries file that you download. Select either GDA2020 or GDA94 as appropriate to your system needs.

Consult the NSWEC

Councils are required under section 210A of the Local Government Act 1993 No 30 to consult the Electoral Commissioner before dividing a Council’s area into wards. See below:

210A - Consultation, public notice and exhibition of proposals regarding ward boundaries 

1.      Before dividing a council’s area into wards or altering a council’s ward boundaries, the council must—

(a)  consult the Electoral Commissioner and the Australian Statistician to ensure that, as far as practicable, the proposed boundaries of its wards correspond to the boundaries of appropriate districts (within the meaning of the Electoral Act 2017) and census districts, and to ensure that the proposed boundaries comply with section 210(7), and

2.      prepare and publicly exhibit a plan detailing the proposed division or alteration (the ward boundary plan).

To fulfil the consultation requirement of this section, Councils are required to complete the spreadsheet provided below before public exhibition is commenced. Subsequently, Councils are required to complete the spreadsheet provided below after ward alterations are approved by Council.

This second submission is to provide the Commissioner with sufficient information to code electors correctly to the roll.

In both cases the spreadsheet and accompanying plan files should be emailed to redistribution@elections.nsw.gov.au. Details on how to populate the spreadsheet report is contained in the “Help” tab.

In addition to the Ward Boundary Report spreadsheet, Councils must provide:

  • Digital ward boundary file (in MapInfo Mid/Mif format or similar

  • PDF clearly showing the LGA boundary, ward boundaries and 2021 SA1 boundaries.

Note the information requested above is needed to assist the AEC to code electors correctly on the electoral roll. Provision of incomplete or inaccurate information will potentially result in electors being coded into incorrect wards and not constitute “consultation” with-respect-to the Local Government Act.

Councils should note that the Electoral Commissioner does NOT provide a consulting service to Councils to fulfil their obligations under the act. Councils are advised that they should seek the services of either Spatial Services or other suitably qualified organisation if they are unable to provide the required information to the NSWEC with internal resources.