Meet Our Members

  • 19 Jul 2012 10:03 PM | Anonymous
    This month we speak Barossa Council’s Director of Corporate and Community Services, Joanne Thomas, and she tells us about her life working for a rural council.

    Earlier this year, on Friday 20 April 2012,  Joanne took out the Leadership and Management Excellence Award for rural councils in SA/NT at the industry’s annual excellence awards run by the LGMA (Local Government Managers Australia).

    Hi Joanne - What's your current role, and how long have you been in that role?
    I'm currently the Director, Corporate and Community Services.  I've held this position for the last 18 months,  and prior to that, for 3 years, I was the Manager Administrative Services - also with The Barossa Council.

    When did you decide to get involved with Local Government?  What attracted you to the sector?
    I am a qualified social worker and  worked for 6 years in local government in the UK in family and childrens services after 15 years in the private, commercial sector (with sales and marketing  and project and contract management roles in the construction and business solutions sectors).  I started work in private industry during the late 80's because the local government sector was subject to significant retrenchment and there were no roles for newly qualified graduates.  As people will know, the structure and funding of local government is very different in the UK, with frontline, primary social care services delivered directly at the local level in the absence of a state sector.   I moved into a commissioning and contracting role for children's services before moving to Australia in 2007.  The initial motivation was to support children to have a safe and supportive family environment that enabled them to fulfil their potential. Over the years and having moved away from the childcare sector; supporting what makes communities work effectively is the primary attraction.
    What do you love about your role, and working for a rural council generally?
    The huge variety and having to deal with whatever comes your way, every day is different.  It's all about people and what makes communities tick.  The people I work with.

    What would you be doing if it wasn’t working in local government?
    Not sure - never been one for having a grand plan but something will always turn up!

    Do you have a “pet” saying or motto?  If so, what is it?
    Several spring to mind - more because they fit with rural local government - "can't please all of the people, all of the time", "Jack of all trades, master of none!", "two sides to every story" (and usually more!), "it never rains in the Barossa!" (that one because from the day we started on site to build the new Aquatic and Fitness centre it did not stop raining and we had the wettest summer in a 100 years which played havoc with our program).

    What advice would you have for others seeking to get involved in local government in rural areas?

    Some great opportunities to get exposure at first hand to the broad range of services that a rural council provides. We tend to have people multi-tasking across a range of functions, not having the resources to have specialists or dedicated staff in every field.  For us, skills are important of course, but a "can do" approach and a good cultural fit is the key to getting the right people involved in our team.

  • 22 Jun 2012 2:50 PM | Anonymous
    This month we speak to the School Services Librarian at the City of Onkaparinga, Karla Pickett, and she shares her varied background and ideas with us.

    Hi Karla - what's your current role, and how long have you been in that role?
    I am currently the School Services Librarian at the City of Onkaparinga. I am located at the Seaford Library, which is a joint use library between the City of Onkaparinga and DECD and my role is to ensure that the Seaford 6-12 School’s needs are met. I have been here for almost 3 years now.

    What did you do prior to that?

    Funnily enough, I was a secondary PE, Outdoor Ed and Science teacher, and I spent 7 years as an Officer in the Army Reserve, reaching the rank of Captain.

    Why did you make the change and what were the challenges you faced when you started in the current role?

    I think after teaching for 5 years, I started to realise that there was life outside of the classroom. I went straight from school to uni, and then from uni back into a school, and eventually decided that  it was time to get out and see the world from a different perspective. I have always had a lot of interests, and been a bit of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, so I completed some studies externally while still teaching, to become a librarian. Although it was odd for others to see me change direction completely, it was just another area I had been interested in and so when I saw this job advertised I took the plunge and was lucky enough to get it. I was faced with the challenge of getting to know how local government worked, but the hardest part was going from 12 weeks of holidays a year to 4 weeks!

    How did you overcome those challenges?

    In terms of learning about local government, I tried to go to conferences and networking events to meet others from council in order to feel more connected and to get a better understanding of the sector as a whole. Having only been here for 3 years, I am still learning a lot of this, but this year I was a part of the City of Onkaparinga’s LGMA Management Challenge team, and this was a great experience for me in learning more about local government as well as our organisation. As for not getting 12 weeks of holidays a year, I just have to deal with that….

    What do you enjoy most about working in your current role, and in local government generally?
    What I love about my current role is the diversity it brings. I also love the opportunities that local government provides, in terms of training, networking and development. I have a fair bit of independence in my role so I have been able to implement a lot of new ideas and have tried to make the library a more enjoyable space for students, and as easy to access as possible for school staff and students.


    What's the future hold?

    Who knows! Perhaps a leadership role, or even a different role within the organisation one day. I am happy where I am right now, but I am definitely open to different opportunities. I really enjoy working with young people, so I can’t imagine moving too far away from that kind of role.

    Describe a typical day for us....

    Hmm… a typical day. It could be a combination of many things. It might start with opening the library, letting the students in before they start school so that they can return items, and having a chat with them.

    Then, on most days, I would spend half the day out in the library carrying out customer service duties. This can be doing anything from helping people find books, to helping them use the photocopier or computers. At the moment it would also include changing over every book in our library to be compatible with our new RFID system which is a very long process.

    When I’m not doing that, I use my time to help teachers find or purchase resources for their curriculum, I choose and order new books for the library often using ideas given to me by students through a suggestion box (and then respond to student suggestions and put these responses on a display board), I go to classrooms to teach students about effective online researching and that there is life outside of Google.

    I also go to a weekly school leadership meeting, other school curriculum meetings, promote the Premier’s Reading Challenge, set up competitions for students, spend time talking to students, and run a student book group.

    I might also update the blog I have set up for the teachers which keeps them informed of any changes they need to know about, or new resources available to them. In addition to this, I carry out any organisational duties to assist my Team Leader.

    Do your staff/colleagues have a nickname for you?  if so, what is it and why?

    If they do, then it is not one I am aware of! I can tell you myself though, that unfortunately I would probably be the loudest librarian on earth.

    What sayings or expressions are you known for?

    I really like ‘If you are not prepared to be a part of the solution, then you forfeit your right to complain’. It says all it needs to say.


    What advice would you have for people wanting to obtain a similar role in local government?

    I don’t think there are many jobs specifically like mine available, however, I think the combination of my teaching background and my librarian qualification really helped me. There would be no point in doing this job if you didn’t enjoy working with teenagers in particular, as it is a huge part of my role.


  • 16 May 2012 11:39 AM | Anonymous
    Kim Ritter from the City of Salisbury recently won the 2012 Emerging Leader of the year award.  We chat with her about her role at Salisbury, and the award...

    Firstly, some background…

    What’s your current role, how long have you been doing it?

    My current role is Manager Salisbury Recreation Precinct, I’ve been in this role for just over 1 year now. Prior to this I was the Manager of the Gardens and St Jays Recreation Centres and have been with the City of Salisbury for 5 years now. Currently I’ve got approximately 40 staff members.

    Now, about the Emerging Leader of the year award…

    How did your entry come about?
    My entry came about through my direct line Manager, Adrian George – Manager Recreation Services.

    How did you feel when first nominated, and when your video was played?
    I felt very honoured that I was nominated in the first place, realizing the nomination process was quite a lengthy one and very in depth! When the video played at the awards night I was nervous, excited, embarrassed and humbled all at once. Viewing all of the other award nominees I felt they were very worthy of the win compared to myself.

    Were you nervous when the nominations were read out?
    I was very nervous when the award was being announced – but didn’t think that I would win this award!

    Did you prepare a speech? 
    I didn’t actually prepare an acceptance speech! That was how much I thought I wouldn’t win this award. I remember when I was walking up to the podium and it dawned on me that I was about to give a thank you speech and I thought – “oh no, I don’t have a speech prepared!”. I gave myself 2-3 seconds to prepare and then went straight into an off-the-cuff speech! I thought my speech was OK, would’ve been better had I prepared although I tend to ad lib a lot with speeches I prepare usually, so don’t think it would’ve changed a whole lot had I prepared one earlier.

    I do wish I’d thanked the people I currently work with in my team, for allowing my crazy ideas to come to fruition and for their on-going encouragement and support!

    They make my job so much easier and such a happy place to be!

    We have a fantastic high-performing team at the Salisbury Recreation Precinct, filling our days with laughter as well as productive work!
    How did you feel about winning?  What do you think that does for your motivation, your standing in the industry, your future career?

    I feel very honoured to have taken out this award. It was certainly very unexpected as I feel I just do my job, nothing special about it. It’s really nice to be recognized at such a high level amongst my peers and other local government representatives. It cements my motivation in driving forward, continuing to identify gaps in program service delivery and to build a great working relationship with my fellow team mates whilst building their skill sets for their own improvement.

    As far as my future career goes, this award is a great achievement and will assist me in developing my skills and qualifications further! Who knows what the future holds for me, but I’m excited to find out!
    How have your colleagues/staff reacted to the win?
    My staff and colleagues have reacted very positively towards my win. They’ve all been so supportive of me, not only after this win, but for the past 5 years I’ve been lucky enough to be employed by the City of Salisbury.

    Staff in other departments have also been very congratulatory towards me and have made comments such as ‘well deserved’, which makes me feel very special and lucky to be thought of so highly by other people.
    What would you say to other potential nominees for next year?
    To other potential nominees for future years: strive for your goals, develop yourself personally, understand your customers and colleagues, follow your dreams, try to see the positive side in everything and above all, establish how to make work and life ‘work’ for you.
    What’s next for you in your plan?
    What’s next for me??? Ummmm…..personally to finish the house my husband and I are building ourselves.

    Professionally – to continue to strive for excellence in everything my team does, continuously improve and to continue to move up the professional ladder – whatever that opportunity may be!

  • 25 Apr 2012 10:12 PM | Anonymous
    Andrew Cameron, District Council of Yorke Peninsula

    This month we chat to Andrew Cameron, Chief Executive Officer at the District Council of Yorke Peninsula.

    Hi Andrew - What do you enjoy most?
    Watching the mighty Pies marching to another flag, although someone should have told me that Buckley was taking a gap year.

    Ok - What do you enjoy least?
    Collingwood losing and bad red wine.

    What would your staff say is your “trademark” saying?
    I will buy anyone a free drink who can beat me in the footy tips and I frequently ask my staff “are you grumpy?”.

    Did you think you would be doing this 5 years ago?
    No but I aspired to progressing my career within Local Government.

    What would you be doing if it wasn’t working in Local Government?
     I just love working at DCYP and have a fantastic Team, so can’t really think of anywhere else I would rather be – at the moment!

    Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Having led the DCYP well and truly toward financial sustainability.

    What’s a typical day?
    I arrive, my EA makes me coffee, I read the paper and overnight emails that have come in, and she reminds me that I am the CEO and then I get onto whatever challenge awaits!  I have some really good strategic projects I am working on at the moment, usually a meeting or two on most days and networking with the wider community. DCYP is a very large Council area demographically so I also spend a lot of time driving my car!

    What keeps you busy outside of LG?
    I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, a good red wine and fishing.

    What’s your desk look like? (don't say brown!)
    Neat and tidy. I have a large green tub that all my work goes into for my EA to deal with later.
  • 28 Mar 2012 5:39 PM | Anonymous

    This month we talk to Diane Adamo, Senior Consultant – Culture & Leadership at Adelaide City Council

    Hi Diane - What do you enjoy most about working for Adelaide City Council?
    I enjoy working with staff from all levels across the organisation to determine, build and deliver initiatives and strategies that build Organisational transformation programmes, identifying opportunities for cultural change and alignment, employee engagement, performance/leadership Development and implementation of key OD initiatives that support and reinforce the culture that both meet the needs of the business and objectives set.

    What do you enjoy least?
    The administrative aspects of the role.

    What would your staff say is your “trademark” saying?
    I’m a ‘Team Leader’ and I think my team would say my trademark saying is “look at things from staff at all levels perspective, engage and collaborate with the business and apply the KISS principle”.

    Did you think you would be doing this 5 years ago?
    Yes – I’ve worked in the Strategic HR space (Organisational Development) for over ten years – I love the challenge, opportunities and satisfaction it provides

    What would you be doing if it wasn’t working in Local Government?
    Working in a similar capacity in the corporate environment.

    Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    I’d like to work in a ‘Consulting Capacity’ working with various businesses on determining and building effective strategic HR initiatives that both add value to the business and deliver a return on investment.

    What’s a typical day?
    It’s filled with ‘people’ – meetings, coaching, developing, engaging and collaborating with the team and staff across the business to determine, build and deliver initiatives.  Writing lots of papers that ‘introduce and sell’ these initiatives and seek endorsement from our Executive Group.

    What’s keeps you busy outside of LG?
    My family and friends – socialising and eating, my puppy, my yoga, my writing.

    What’s your desk look like?
    It has pictures of my family; several used coffee cups, a few fun objects – like a wooden massager and bumble bee paper holder and lots of files/papers strategically placed in piles surrounded by loads of resource materials and books.

  • 22 Feb 2012 1:41 PM | Anonymous
    This month we profile Rob Gagetti from the City of Tea Tree Gully - who is certainly a busy man!

    Hi Rob - thanks for talking to us.

    What's your current role?
    Manager, Development Assessment

    How did you get into that role?
    I secured my position following an organisational restructure.  Prior to my appointment, there was one manager covering 4 different teams.  The organisation identified a need for one manager for the development assessment section (building, planning and development compliance).  The position was advertised internally and my application was successful.

    What do you like best about the current position?
    I enjoy working with less experienced staff members and watching them develop and grow into their positions.  I also enjoy implementing system improvements designed to make the department operate in a more efficient manner.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
    I would suggest that this person carefully examines their passion for working with people before they take on a similar position.  To be a competent manager, excellent interpersonal skills are essential and a passion for working in a team environment is also critical.  Furthermore, the person must also be capable of working within a highly political environment. 

    What’s next for you?
    I have only been in this role for approximately 2 years.  Long term, I would like to become a senior manager (director/general manager).  I also have an interest in one day working for a rural Council. 

    I am also currently completing a Masters in Business Administration and I will use my learning’s to further develop my managerial skills, to assist with future career advancement.

    Why did you join the LGMA(SA) and their Network/s?
    It’s a great way to network with other people in similar roles.  Effective networking is an essential tool required to facilitate professional development and unlock career opportunities. 

    Describe a typical day for us…
    The interesting thing about a manager’s role in local government is that each day is very unique.  However, generally speaking I would ordinarily arrive at work between 7:45am and 8:15am.  At the moment we have been backfilling new positions within our team and so I have been preoccupied with completing the recruitment process.  This process has involved a lot interviews, performing reference checks and completing a lot of paperwork. 

    Between interviews, I have been attending various internal steering committees for various software upgrades that will impact on the organisation together with various department meetings. 

    Media, rate payer and elected member enquiries are also regularly received and some of my time is occupied with responding to such enquiries.  However, I will often delegate this work to other employees so that my time can be spent completing other work.

    When I am not completing the work discussed above, I usually try to work on at least one project designed to improve the efficiency of the department, or the customer service that my team provides.  At the moment I am working with other staff on performing a number of improvements to our website

  • 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.

Mailing Address:  5 Hauteville Tce EASTWOOD SA 5063   Phone: 8291-7990;   Fax: 8451-1568   Email:

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