This month we spoke to CEO of City of Charles Sturt and newly appointed President of LG Professionals, SA, Paul Sutton, about collaboration, reform and his vision as President.
You have just commenced your term as President of LG Professionals, SA—what is your vision for the Association over the next twelve months and beyond?
The association has a fabulous reputation as the premier professional development provider for the Local Government sector. We are working from a strong baseline and have a bright future. I look forward to building the professional capability across local government - as well as maintaining technical and leadership capabilities. Enhancing trust with our communities and stakeholders across Councils is critical. We must act with honesty and transparency as we address issues including Local Government reform, the China Sword and SKM led waste crisis, and the continued roll out of NDIS and its effects on our communities in the context of changing demographics and economic pressures in SA.
The City of Charles Sturt together with the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and the City of Marion are working in a uniquely collaborative way—can you tell us about that and what factors are essential to council collaboration?
Simply put, together we are all stronger, smarter and can be more efficient. The leadership teams of each our 3 councils has a clear resolve to work together for the benefit of our communities. It will work if we are actively engaged, open to new ideas and humble about putting aside our tried and true techniques and methods as willing to partners. It is easy to say, but can be both confronting and rewarding, as long as you are willing to put constructive energy into both the task and the relationship!
What advice do you have to local government professionals who may be feeling uncertain about reforms?
Reform can be an opportunity, not a threat. I believe our sector, our communities and the State Government all want the same thing – relevant and efficient services that add value to the lives of each person in our communities. In that context, we should explore the opportunities to work better together, to think about how we can reduce red tape (self and externally imposed) and consider everything from a community value perspective..
Finally, with such a busy role and still finding time to volunteer within the sector, how do you maintain your energy?
I’m lucky to work with a great team of colleagues where everyone shares the load and we support one another. Personally, I exercise regularly and put effort into my family and personal relationships. Having a break and planning time away is important for me to stay balanced. So good holidays are always great to look forward to – especially a weekend at our shack on Kangaroo Island.