Meet Our Members

  • 22 Feb 2012 1:37 PM | Anonymous
    This month, we speak to Helen Christie from the Town of Gawler.

    Hi Helen - What is your professional background?
     I have over sixteen years of experience working in the Community Care sector.  I worked for two not-for-profit organisations, then eight years ago moved into local government.  

    Community Care targets older residents, the younger disabled and their carers, with the majority of funding from the State and Commonwealth government.  Most councils have a Home Assist program and many have social support programs and centres. 

    My roles at council have allowed me both the satisfaction of making a difference in people’s lives at a face to face level, and more holistically, coordinating programs, events and funding submissions, using my administrative background.

    What Council are you currently working at, and how long have you been there?
    I have been working at the Town of Gawler for just over eighteen months.

    Why did you decide to work for a country council?
    I previously enjoyed working for one of the largest metropolitan councils who is in a position to recruit people with specialist skills and even have teams for areas where Gawler may have one (or sometimes part of a) position dedicated to.  While these are excellent resources for an organisation, on a personal level I had broader interests. 

    I am grateful for the opportunity provided by the metro council of a small stint of exposure to the governance section and an organisational communication project, however both left me wanting to learn more about council outside of Community Care.  Gawler has allowed me to broaden my horizons, while I still primarily look after the Home Assist Team, I am also presently looking after the Immunisation and Graffiti teams.  

    What are the key differences between a country council and metro?
    What I first noticed moving to Gawler was the community itself, the age of the town and the number of residents with a family history in Gawler, perhaps all these contribute to the community ownership and participation.  Elected members are well known and very active in the community.  More staff reside locally (or in a bordering council), with a higher personal stake and awareness in council activities.

    The main difference between the two is the infrastructure.  Larger councils have access to the finances and specialist resources to undertake some truly amazing projects.   The level of expertise, professionalism and of course sheer volume larger councils deliver, support the demands made of metro councils.  

    In meeting country council objectives, smaller councils have particular advantages as staff tend to know more about other council departments and the local community. 

    I have found staff quickly connect to the best person to assist and a familiarity fostering an environment of helping each other out.

    What do you like most about your role?

    The diversity of my position keeps me engaged and challenged on a regular basis.  I enjoy working with staff across council, supporting each other and knowing we make a real contribution.  My belief in the community programs we provide is amplified by level of support we have from residents and the valuable contribution made by volunteers.    

    How would you describe working for a country council as a career development step?
    Metro and country councils have different demands placed upon them, something I now have a greater understanding of.  It is also fascinating to observe the same problem handled two different ways due to the size and culture of an organisation. 

    It has been a rewarding experience for me to see the best of both worlds and worthwhile for anyone looking to challenge their thinking.

    What other involvement do you have in Local Government?
    In 2010 I undertook the Emerging Leaders program.   Sharing a career and personal development journey with participants from a range of councils, I really enjoyed this local government specific leadership program.  I have made some great friends and gained an appreciation of different positions within council, and some insight into the differences in process and expectations between councils.

    I am the Vice Chair of the Emerging Leaders Alumni.  This group provides quarterly professional development sessions and of course the opportunity to maintain and further develop networks with other Emerging Leaders.

    Why are you a member of LGMA SA?
    After being involved in the 2009 LGMA challenge and the 2010 Emerging Leaders Program, I became more aware of the opportunities for professional development. 

    Membership keeps me linked with relevant forums and the opportunity to network with a diverse range of people who all appreciate the complexities of working in local government.

  • 04 Dec 2011 9:05 AM | Anonymous
    The range of skills shown by staff in country councils continues to impress.....this month we look at Bobbi Atherton, Manager, Organisational Development from the District Council of Yorke Peninsula.

    Hi Bobbi - What is your professional background?
     I have over fifteen years of experience working for the State Government.  I started my career with an administration background and worked with many different authorities including TAFE, Liquor Licensing Commission, Corporate Initiatives Unit and Services SA.  My most rewarding roles have included Project Officer and Office Coordination roles within the Government Businesses Group (responsible for outsourcing various Government Assets); Office for Government Enterprises (responsible for monitoring and reporting on various statutory authorities); and the Office of the Employee Ombudsman (providing an employee advocacy role – advice, rights and resolution processes).  The last two years have been in Local Government with a role in Risk Administration/ Occupational Health and Safety and earlier this year I have moved back into industrial relations field, with a role as HR Advisor.

    What Council are you currently working at, and how long have you been there?
    I have been working with the District Council of Yorke Peninsula for two years.

    Why did you decide to work for a country council?
    I made a lifestyle change ten years ago and moved from Adelaide into a regional seaside town on the Yorke Peninsula.  I transferred with State Government and worked with them for eight years.  Whilst on maternity leave with my second child, a part time position within Council became available.   I was extremely lucky to have won the position and have really relished in the opportunities that are available.

    What are the key differences between a country council and metro?
    I have never worked for a metropolitan Council, so really can’t compare.

    What do you like most about your role?
    At the moment I really like my job, enjoy going to work and I am being challenged on a regular basis.  Having the ability to make a real contribution to my Council is very rewarding, assisting in improving our Organisational Development processes and Workforce Culture. 

    How would you describe working for a country council as a career development step?
    There are many opportunities within a regional area to further develop your career along with the added benefit for Council in being able to create some great leaders.  Many regional areas are experiencing an aging workforce and skills shortages, so for the right candidate armed with a good training plan and a succession plan, there are many career development opportunities available. 

    What other involvement do you have in Local Government?
    I'm a member of the HR Network and the LGMA (SA) Emerging Leaders Alumni.

    Why did you join the LGMA (SA) and their Network/s?
    I am currently participating in the 2011 LGMA (SA) Emerging Leaders Program and have found this networking opportunity to be really beneficial.

  • 04 Dec 2011 8:56 AM | Anonymous
    This month, we speak with Katie Symes, Policy Officer – Coast & Communities at the Local Government Association.

    Hi Katie - thanks for being the subject of our member profile this month.

    How did you get into your current role?
    I was already working at the LGA when my current position was created. I was really enjoying the challenges of Local Government and having a background in environmental science I jumped at the opportunity to apply.

    What do you like best about the current position?
    Working at the LGA means I get to work with all 68 Councils and my current portfolio allows me to work across a number of areas, so there’s always something happening. But if I had to pick one thing - nothing beats a successful funding bid for Councils.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
    Having the qualifications is one thing but getting out there and getting some experience is so valuable. Also get out there and speak to people in the role. It gives you a great opportunity to find out what really happens on a day to day basis and if you’re suited to the job. You never know it just might open the next door you walk through.

    What’s next for you?
    I hope to continue to expand my knowledge and skills at the LGA and work towards a more senior role. I am also hoping to do some post graduate studies next year which I’m really looking forward to.

    Why did you join the LGMA(SA) and their Network/s? I became a member through the Emerging Leaders Program. Through the LGMA I have found an amazing opportunity to build networks and I have had the chance to hear from some fantastic speakers. 

    Describe a typical day for us…
    I’m not sure if there is a typical day but there are a few things you can be certain of …the next State Executive meeting is just around the corner and reports need to be written, a submissions deadline is quietly sneaking up and a new issue or opportunity is about to tap you on the shoulder.

  • 25 Oct 2011 8:21 PM | Anonymous
    One of the interesting things about interviewing people in local government is finding out about the incredible diversity of backgrounds we enjoy in this industry.

    Mildy Raveane, Manager Customer Relations, Rural City of Murray Bridge, is a perfect example - he brings a wide variety of fresh perspectives to hos role, following a long career in the airline industry.

    Hi Mildy - thanks for talking to us this month.

    What is your professional background?
    Over 30 Years saw the rise and fall of Ansett in the romantic years of air travel to its demise  through which numerous positions were held predominately in The Northern Territory.
    My career with the airline commenced in Darwin as a ticketing and reservation officer and then progressed to management roles to include sales and marketing, Golden Wing and to manager central Australia with a heavy focus on customer service sales and marketing.

    Following the collapse of Ansett I was seconded to the position of manager Northern Territory Tourism Commission Central Australia, followed by 5 years in the hotel industry again with very roles culminating as the operations and marketing manager for the newly developed Darwin Airport Resort.

    With Karen Loy, my partner, we then decided to move to Adelaide to establish our retirement plan whereby I was approached by Tiger Airways to assist in the establishment of its operation in Australia based in Melbourne as the Australian Head of Ground Services and Security, with some involvement in the Asian market.

    What council are you currently working at, and how long have you been there?
    This is the first involvement that I have had in local government and now  with the Rural City of Murray Bridge for the last 18 month as manager customer relations.

    Why did you decide to work for a country council?
    As a rural resident I love the space

    What do you like most about your role?
    Working with the community

    How would you describe working for a country council as a career development step?
    Challenging but rewarding

    Why are you a member of LGMA SA?
    Being new to local government the need to keep up with local government trends, networking , training courses that are being offered. The Rural City of Murray Bridge is an employer of choice and recognises the value add of the LGMA program to as part of an employee’s professional and personal growth and promotes the value of learning and ensuring employees have access to the most up to date information.

  • 26 Sep 2011 9:41 AM | Anonymous
    This month, we interview Peter Bice, Business Excellence Partner at the City of Marion.

    Hi Peter, please tell us a bit about yourself.

    What’s your current role?
    Business Excellence Partner at the City of Marion

    How did you get into that role?
    I saw the job and thought  "Wow! That looks like a great way to make a meaningful difference across an entire organisation and to a community; which uses a broad range of skills, tools and approaches to improve the way things are done".

    What do you like best about the current job?
    Working with staff from diverse work areas and levels in the Council, as well as networking with other professionals to learn from and share leading practice approaches, systems and processes. The systemic and systematic focus required. I also enjoy the opportunity I am afforded through my role as a Evaluation Team Leader in the annual Business Excellence Awards process, which enable me to see and learn from high performing organisations from different industries and enhance my understanding of where LG is able to improve and lead the way.
    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
    The Business Excellence Framework is essentially a Leadership and Management framework to help organisations be the best they can be, and continue to improve and raise the bar.

    Studies in Management, Training, Organisational Development and Business Excellence will strengthen a potential applicants chances in a role such as this, as will personal alignment with principles of Leadership, People and Systems Thinking. Additionally, strong communication, inter-personal skills and group facilitation are critical elements of success in a role such as this, so I would encourage people to take every opportunity to develop these should they be interested.
    What’s next for you?
    I have learnt an enormous amount in my time with City of Marion, and am continually looking to apply my learning to new projects and situations in my current role; with a view to taking on a more senior         role within Local Government in the near future.

    Why did you become a member of LGMA (SA)?
    I felt it a good opportunity to network with fellow professionals across Local Government in South Australia.

    Please describe a typical day for us…
    I suppose there is really no 'typical' day in this role as such - which is one of the reasons I love it! However common themes certainly arise, namely:

                    - Partnering with and training managers and staff around use of improvement tools/techniques and areas for business improvement (PDSA, Lean Six Sigma, Systems Thinking, Root Cause etc)
                     - Developing strategies/approaches with Senior Management group
                    - Getting out in the field and mix it up with staff of all backgrounds and experience levels (a highlight for me), including mapping end-to-end processes
                    - Representing Marion at the Local Government Business Excellence Network (LGBEN -, and the South Australian chapter (SA LGBEN)
                    - Assessing organisational capability and capacity to deliver across broad service areas

  • 29 Aug 2011 3:07 PM | Anonymous

    This month, we profile Tracey Johnstone from the City of Campbelltown.

    Tracey - thanks for talking with us.

    What is your current role?

    I am Manager Customer & Community Services at the City of Campbelltown

    How did you get into that role?

    I have worked in community services for over 10 years in a number of roles including community development, volunteer management, community engagement, training, research and social policy.  This was my first appointment in a Manager role within community services and I was excited to return to local government after an 18 month break. 

    What do you like best about your current job?

    I really enjoy the local government environment and the diversity of projects we get to be involved in and the partnerships we form to work with the community.  Customer Service has been one of the biggest challenges, but I have thoroughly enjoyed learning this whole new area of a Council.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?

    The advice I would give is to get out and try a range of different areas and experiences in community services, it is such a diverse sector that you need to find something you are passionate about (or as someone once told me 'find something that blows your skirt up!').  Once you have found your passion - keep reading, learning and talking to other people. 

    What’s next for you?

    I hope to stay at Campbelltown for a minimum of five years, perhaps more as community services is always changing and developing and after working in State, Private and Not for profit environments I can easily say that local government inspires me the most. 

    Why did you join LGMA?

    I joined the LGMA (SA) as a professional development networking opportunity.  As a new manager I saw the level of experience of the people involved and saw it as a great way to keep learning and build my own knowledge and skills.

    Describe a typical day for us…

    A typical day is that there will be an underlying chaos that the team thrives in.  There is the typical work we do: phones, projects, meetings, responding to queries, but then there is the atypical part which is why we all choose to work in customer and community services in the first place - the day that challenges us, delights us and amuses us all at the same time means we have had a very good day.  

  • 21 Jul 2011 2:35 PM | Deleted user

    What is your Professional Background?

    After working as an IT Consultant for ten years I took up a position as the Manager Information Communication Technology at The Barossa Council in 2008.

    What Council are you working at, and how long have you been there? 

    The Barossa Council for 3 years.

    Why did you decide to work for a country council?

    The Barossa has the best of both worlds; whilst it is located in a beautiful regional location it is still close enough to have easy access to the city.  From an IT perspective regional councils present a range of challenges not always found in metro locations.  For example in the Barossa we have Library and Council services spread across five locations – along with a Visitor Information Centre and a Regional Gallery, all of which are located up to 70kms from the main ICT centre.

    What are the key differences between a country council and metro? 

    On a community level, regional Councils have a more familiar customer base.  Often in metro areas residents use the services of a range of Councils throughout

    Adelaide– potentially working in one municipality but living in another and possibly using the services of another on weekends or in their social time.  In regional areas the residents tend to use the same locations and services repeatedly, providing us with an opportunity to form stronger networks and relationships with the community. 

    What do you like most about your role?

    As an IT professional, local government is fantastic.  There are always new challenges to overcome and opportunities to look at a range of different models to suit various council services.  With such a diverse range of industries all housed in the same building you have an opportunity to try different things that help make Council Services run smoothly – Engineers, Customer Service Officers, Librarians, Planners, Accountants they all have different needs when it comes to IT.

    How would you describe working for a country council as a career development step? 

    I haven’t really thought about that in my current role.  Because we are so close to

    Adelaideit doesn’t seem to make a huge amount of difference.  I guess there are different demands in regional locations in relation to IT with distance and remoteness an issue for some of our branches – and that provides you with a different management perspective.

    What other involvement do you have in Local Government?

    At the moment I am currently participating in the LGMA Emerging Leaders Program, which I am really enjoying – it is a great opportunity to get a broader perspective of Local Government as well as network and establish relationships.  I also am an actively involved with both the Local Government IT as well as Record Management groups. I also consult with a range of other Councils through the Libraries network – particularly with their specialist IT needs.  The Barossa Council is part of the LINK Network which is a consortium of five local governments who developed a system for their libraries to work together, sharing resources and information.

    Why are you a member of the LGMA SA?

    Organisations like the LGMA are great because they provide you with a range of opportunities in relation to networking, training and the dissemination of information.  There are lots of managers out there working in Local Government – the LGMA is a conduit which ensures you can stay informed and hear more about what other Councils are up to – the challenges and the solutions!

  • 20 Jul 2011 10:44 AM | Anonymous

    All organisations have a brand that they need to manage. 

    A brand is closely associated with the reputation of the organisation and its products and services.

    Here’s an example:

    The Apple Brand Personality

    Apple has a branding strategy that focuses on the emotions. The Apple brand personality is about lifestyle; imagination; liberty regained; innovation; passion; hopes, dreams and aspirations; and power-to-the-people through technology. The Apple brand personality is also about simplicity and the removal of complexity from people's lives; people-driven product design; and about being a really humanistic company with a heartfelt connection with its customers.

    Council brands

    Similarly, every council has a brand, with associated brand attributes or “brand personality”.  Some attributes are intentional, some are probably not.  But they are there.  For example, some councils would be regarded by their community as innovative, cost effective, flexible, contemporary and customer-focused.   Others may be seen as stodgy, slow moving, bureaucratic.  Or any points in between.

    Likewise – cities have brands too – and sometimes councils get confused and try to adopt the brand attributes of their city. Certainly, a council can adopt values that support the brand attributes of the place – but let’s talk about that another day.

    Confusing council and city branding is commonplace, so just remember - councils are service providers, policy makers, custodians of public assets - but they are not places.

    So, concentrating on the council brand - a brand is not just your logo and image style, it’s distilled from your vision, your strategic directions, your public profile, your reputation, and most importantly, how your staff and elected members behave.

    What do you want your brand to be?  Have you thought about it?

    Like beauty, a brand is in the eye of the beholder.  So, no matter if you think your council is innovative, customer focused and brilliantly executing the management of your ratepayer funds, if the ratepayers don’t recognise it – your brand won’t actually be what you think.

    It’s important to not only think about what is a desirable brand – but also to then measure it, as you would any other KPI or council objective.

    You can establish where your brand attributes sit on a continuum – and then , with research, measure how that attribute is actually perceived by your community.

    You can then plot your brand measurements on a spider chart like this:


    Blue line is the desired brand perception

    Red line is the actual brand perception


    Identifying gaps

    If your brand perception doesn’t match your desired perception – (as in the example above) then either your council is not “living” the brand (i.e. something about your services or behaviour is not consistent) or there is a communication issue (you may be doing all the right things, but no-one knows about it….)

    Major corporations constantly measure their brand perception to keep their brand on track – you should too.  A strong, consistent brand is good for customer (and ratepayer) satisfaction and is also great for staff morale too.

    A guest blog post by Jim Myhill, XLR8 Marketing and Communications
  • 18 Jul 2011 4:09 PM | Anonymous
    This month, we profile Mark Goldstone from the City of Prospect.

    Mark - thanks for talking with us. 

    What is your current role?

    Chief Executive Officer - City of Prospect

    How did you get into that role?
    I grew up in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide, however my career in local government started in rural Tasmania, where I was appointed as a Junior Environmental Health Officer with the Wynyard Council. I then progressed through to management positions at the King Island and Circular Head Councils in Tasmania. During my time at those councils, I gained an appreciation and exposure to the role of CEO and when an opportunity arose I applied for and was appointed to the role as CEO at the Circular Head Council. Following a number of years at Circular Head I moved to South Australia with the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council where I worked for 6 years before moving to my first metropolitan council, the City of Prospect.

    What do you like best about your current job?
    Having the ability to lead a high performing council and achieve tangible results that have a positive impact on the local community is something I gain a lot of satisfaction from. I enjoy the ability to implement positive reform and encourage the absolute best from my directors and staff. Seeing my staff progress toward their career aspirations and contributing in some way to their path forward in a supportive way is something that I enjoy immensely.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role? Go for it! Being a CEO is a very demanding job, however given the right circumstances and support from those around you, exciting outcomes can be achieved which are guaranteed to deliver a great deal of job satisfaction.

    What’s next for you?
    I would like to constructively influence the local government sector through regional cooperation (such as the Eastern Region Alliance) and through developing partnerships with key agencies (such as the LGA, State and Federal Government).

    Why did you join LGMA?
     The LGMA provided me with an excellent vehicle to expand my knowledge and networking capacity. The LGMA has enabled me to develop my leadership skills and has been influential in my professional development. I recall entering the LGMA Challenge when I first had an aspiration to become a manager and the skills I acquired through that exercise have served me well ever since.    

    Describe a typical day for us…
    5.00 am start at the gym, followed by trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to get my teenage kids out of bed and organised for school. Mornings tend to be the best time for me to catch up on emails and to take time to plan for key activities. As with most CEO's much of the day is spent in meetings both at the operational and political level. I often then attend an evening meeting (which when you are a CEO occur frequently).

  • 24 Jun 2011 9:36 PM | Anonymous

    Bree Hislop is the Governance Officer for the City of West Torrens.  She is also part of 2011's LGMA (SA) Emerging Leaders Program.

    Bree tells us a bit about her role in Local Government in this month's member profile:

    Hi Bree - thanks for being part of LGMA's newsletter this month.

    What’s your current role?

    I'm currently a Governance Officer at the City of West Torrens.

    How did you get into that role?

    I was able to trial life as a Governance Officer through a secondment position in 2008. I quickly recognised that the principles of accountability, transparency and continuous improvement closely reflected my own philosophies.

    What do you like best about the current job?

    There is ALWAYS something new to learn and, I must admit, it becomes slightly addictive.  A lot of our work is project based and it is very satisfying to see a new practice evolve to form part of an overall proactive governance program.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?

    I like to think of good governance principles and practices as a road map. Often we have an idea of where we would like to go and how to get there. The road map shows us where we are and where we should be - highlighting the obstacles and giving us options for the way forward. At some point, we all need to stop and ask for directions.

    What’s next for you?

    I'm thrilled to be participating in the LGMA Emerging Leaders Program this year.  I have enjoyed meeting other enthusiastic Local Government employees and draw a lot of motivation from working as part of a team.

    There are many opportunities at the City of West Torrens to explore and I have raised my hand to participate in new challenges to broaden my skill set.  I'm working towards a Masters in Business Information Management through UniSA which I am able to apply to my current roll on a day to day basis.

    I am hopeful for a long future in Local Government. If by chance I win the lottery, I may need to rethink this plan.

    Why did you become a member of LGMA (SA)?

    I became a member though the Emerging Leaders Program. I have been impressed with the commitment and dedication of existing LGMA members who have shown great support for the 2011 Emerging Leaders, offering their time, experiences and advice generously.

    Please describe a typical day for us…

    Luckily, there is no such thing as a typical day in Governance. Writing reports for Council, preparing for the appointment of new Authorised Officers, researching for a Freedom of Information application, providing training on the exercise of delegated powers and offering advice to employees are all common activities. Only one thing is certain - there is always a policy, patiently waiting to be reviewed.


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