This month we speak with Vincent Cammell, CEO of the Coorong District Council.
Vincent speaks about the differences found in moving from the City of Adelaide to a rural council, and also the how the role of rural councils is changing...
Hi Vincent, thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
My current role is as Chief Executive Officer of the Coorong District Council. The prime focus of my role is working with Elected Members to set the vision and strategy for the management of the district. I am also the focus for communication and engagement with our community which includes educating on why some things need to be done and what the long term benefit or outcome will be.
Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
I was previously the Corporate Manager Infrastructure with the City of Adelaide. Although this was a very good job my ambition has always been to be in a position to lead and set the vision for a Council. My current role gives me the opportunity to apply all of the positive learnings that I have achieved in twenty two years in local government and make a very direct difference to the local community.
What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
I have always taken the approach that I am in local government because I want to make a difference at a community level. I enjoy getting out of the office and talking and engaging with a wide range of people and using this interaction to help shape future directions.
One of my favourite topics for research and discussion is about corporate social responsibility and how this affects and drives traditional infrastructure delivery at a local level.
Speaking about your current role – As a CEO in a rural council you have a wide range of responsibilities. How do you think the CEO role, and the role of rural councils has changed over the last 5-10 years?
In the case of the Coorong Council I would suggest that the Council has traditionally seen itself as a road authority. This began to change in a big way during the last drought period when Elected Members took on a more active role in cross government communication in attempting to gain both social support but also to raise awareness in relation to water management.
I believe it was during this time period that attitudes changed to what Council existed for and it is as a result of this that I am able to more actively pursue social, cultural and economic development opportunities in the area. Council is also more accepting of the need to maintain an external profile and look at opportunities to participate with other levels of government to assist with long term positioning.
What are the driving forces of that change – and how do you see them evolving?
The key driving force has come from the need to achieve future sustainability of towns in the region. This is both from a social and financial perspective as towns look to reposition themselves to widen their appeal and look for other avenues to attract people and protect jobs.
Change of this nature is one of a cultural nature where our community has in the past been able to look internally to sustain itself but is now challenged by external factors to maintain its internal integrity. Effectively the existing communities will need to become more open to external interest to remain viable.
What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Although having only been in my current position for a short time my personal goal is to remain in local government and progress (subject to having met my local goals) to a larger organisation.
What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
Well there was that one time when..... mmm having trouble coming up with something that should be shared!
How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
My leisure time is mostly focussed around my children and being actively involved in their lives. I coach two different soccer teams and during a large part of the year this keeps me busy and entertained away from work.