Meet Our Members

  • 09 Dec 2015 7:41 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Sarah Philpott, Director Corporate Services at Port Adelaide Enfield and new board member of LG Professionals SA.

    In this interview, she tells us about her decision to return to local government after a time away - and why she chose to nominate for the LG Professionals SA Board. 

    Hi Sarah - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am the Director Corporate Services at the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and have been here since February 2015.  I see my role as supporting the council and organisation to achieve outcomes for the community. 

    My portfolio includes city development, financial services, information technology, information management and governance, so I have a great diversity of inwardly focussed support services and outwardly focussed community building aspects to my role.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    My immediate past role was as the Director of Higher Courts Services at the Courts Administration Authority which was a complete change from my previous executive roles within local government.

    I learnt an enormous amount about justice and working in the state government sector which is very useful in my current role.  Before that I was General Manager Corporate Services at Cairns Regional Council and Director of Community and Corporate Development at the City of Marion.  Much of my career has been in local government but having commercial experience and state government experience is of great benefit too.
    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I enjoy working closely with the community and being in a sector which has capacity to determine a direction and be nimble enough to respond to it.  I have also been very privileged to work with many outstanding people in local government, who have a strong alignment and commitment to making a difference to people’s lives. 

    My current role attracted me because it was an interesting portfolio, in a community which is very diverse and where there are really exciting things on the horizon.  In organisational terms, we are going through significant change and I like to be part of leading cultural change and creating a great place to work.
    You've recently been appointed to the Local Government Professionals Australia, SA Board - what inspired you to nominate for this?  What do you hope to achieve as a board member? 
    My decision to return to local government after 3 years with the Courts was all about re-connecting with this profession and the great work that we do.

    I have also been very lucky to have a long association with the LG Professionals Australia Management Challenge and like the values of LG Professionals SA about learning and development of our people and that encouraged me to join the Board.

    I am interested to understand what members want from LG Professionals SA and how we can ensure the work adds value for people in the sector.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    The variety, the great characters you meet and seeing results – I can look back on my time in local government and feel that I have made a real contribution. 

    What I have loved most is seeing the capacity of our community grow and watching team members develop new leadership capabilities.

    Speaking about your current role - Director of Corporate Services - what are you most proud of since you've held that role?  What initiatives or new ideas have you employed that might be valuable for other councils to use or try?
    I have spent a lot of time getting the right people into the right roles for us – an example is in economic development, where we have been working very actively for the past several months in a completely new capacity for our Council.

    For me, creating a team that builds on the strengths of our existing people and adds new capability into that mix sets us up for a positive future – and that’s something to be proud of!

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    It will be where I am learning and being challenged and loving what I do.

    Do you have an embarrassing ‘local government moment’?
    I always cry at my farewells – not a good look!   So I have decided the answer is to either:

    1. Don’t leave or

    2. Avoid your own party!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Real relaxation happens in my garden – there is nothing quite like getting your hands in the dirt and weeds to connect to the physical world when we spend so much time at work in our heads and in relationships.

    I love a good book, going out for a lazy lunch on Sundays and cooking.

  • 19 Nov 2015 8:42 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Sarah Kay, Manager Human Resources at Alexandrina Council.

    Sarah speaks about her current role and her plans for the future.  She also reflects on Alexandrina's recent win in the LG Professionals SA Awards - what it means to the team involved, and benefits to the council overall.

    Hi Sarah, thanks for speaking with us.

    What's involved in your current role - and how long have you held that position at Alexandrina?
    I joined Alexandrina Council in May 2014 in the position of Manager Human Resources. I work with a great team of staff to provide services in WHS, payroll, injury management, volunteer support, recruitment, training, employee relations, workforce planning and other organisational development initiatives.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I had previously worked in local government for the City of Onkaparinga and then spent some time in the not for profit sector and consulting across a wide range of businesses working from home while my children were young.  When the opportunity arose to work for an organisation that contributes to the community my family and I live in, I was excited to put my hand up for it. Alexandrina’s mission and values and the strong leadership provided by its strategic plan attracted me to apply for the position. I really enjoy contributing to our mission ‘Be Involved’.

    Nominations are open again for the LG Professionals Australia, SA Leadership Excellence Awards.  At this year’s Gala Awards Dinner Alexandrina Council received the award for 'Innovative Management Initiatives - Rural Councils'.  Can you tell us a bit about the initiative - and why you think you were successful in winning the award?  
    We were all so proud of this achievement! It really represented a great team effort from all of our staff. As a small, regional council, we had to make our scarce resources work for us and from this came an innovative way to meet the challenges represented by legislative requirements in Work Health and Safety and Procurement. The Work Health and Safety and Procurement intranet teams devised ‘one stop shops’ as interactive internal sources of advice consistent with legislative requirements, enabling a centralised, version controlled and interactive information hub that enables staff to access what they need in order to comply in the most friendly user way possible.

    It's great that councils are recognised for their great work with the awards also enabling sharing of knowledge and ideas across the sector.  How do you think Alexandrina, as a council and a community, benefits from winning the award? 
    The increased level of staff engagement, ownership and culture change in relation to meeting legislative requirements has been an added bonus of these intranet sites. Alexandrina has a workplace value of ‘Continually improving our systems’ in order to meet our organisational goals and provide the best outcomes for our community. We also know that the more visible guidance is, the more likely staff are to use it and feel confident in meeting best practice which aligns with our value of ‘Caring for our People’. The recognition the award represents demonstrates to staff and our community that a small council can achieve leading edge results.

    Has it made you even more likely to enter the awards again - and would you also seek other categories?
    Definitely! We entered two categories last year, our other nomination being a ‘Food Surveillance Training, Induction and Mentoring Program’. We have several fantastic projects that we are considering entering this year that meet the selection criteria of a number of categories.

    Speaking of your current role  - can you describe a typical day?
    I am not sure there is such a thing as a typical day in HR! I feel it is important and I really enjoy being accessible and visible to staff as a support, so that approach can change any planned day. Our HR team has well defined plans, strategies and projects that we are working on in relation to workforce planning and development so apart from the people contact a typical day would be spent progressing these projects.

    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I find it really rewarding to be implementing strategies designed to support and develop our people to achieve the best outcomes for our community. Being a member of the community, that makes it extra rewarding! Our workplace culture is very collaborative and recognises achievements at all levels. Having a dedicated HR Team, peers and leaders, and a strong connection to our values, makes Alexandrina a great place to be a HR practitioner.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    My goal is to see Alexandrina Council recognised as a leader in employment and organisational development practices within the local government sector. I am keen to work closely with other HR practitioners to put into practice ways to promote local government as a sector to pursue an exciting, diverse and rewarding career pathway and overcome some of the challenges identified in workforce profiling. I really enjoy HR but would also consider management roles in other departments/service areas or potential GM roles if they arise.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Leisure time for us revolves around the busy lives of our 6 children who range in age from 14 to 5 and all have varied sporting interests. We enjoy being actively involved in the community activities via volunteering but it is sometimes a juggle of who is going where! When there is free time (rare!) the beach and river are the place to be and if we are really lucky a nice meal locally with a glass of regional wine!

  • 22 Oct 2015 2:59 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Henry Inat, CEO of the Town of Gawler.

    Henry talks about his experience to date, the challenges facing Gawler and what motivated his recent appointment to the LG Professionals SA Board.

    Hi Henry, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I’m the Chief Executive Officer at the Town of Gawler. I commenced this role in February 2012.

    The role is both challenging and rewarding. Leading an organisation of 115 staff with a budget of approximately $25m has its diverse scope of issues and responsibilities. It's all about team work and getting the best out of people (both staff and elected members) to make positive contribution’s to the local community.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I’ve worked in the local government sector for nearly 25 years. I’ve worked in eight councils over this time period in various positions. Being a qualified town planner, I started my career as a development assessment officer, then progressed into planning policy.

    Having decided that I wanted to ‘broaden my mind’, I studied business management which then took me on journey with various management roles in councils. Prior to commencing my role as CEO at Gawler I held general manager positions at the City of Charles Sturt and Mount Barker Council respectively, both of which were fun times and held me in good stead for my current position.

    I  thank both Andrew Stuart and Mark Withers for their years of support and mentoring over this period.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    Having studied Town Planning at Uni, working in local government was a natural first move for many in the field. Over the years I increasingly enjoyed working in councils where it was about more than just conventional planning and development matters.

    The capacity to participate in multi discipline teams to create and form communities was initially a key force in me realising that councils existed in a dynamic and ever changing context which I could influence. So I’ve stayed.

    When exploring my interest in management I found again that by understanding and studying business and people, better outcomes could be achieved.  Not ever thinking at the time that I would be a CEO, an opportunity presented itself and I decided to apply for the challenge.

    It has been a great three years at Gawler.

    You’ve recently been appointed to the LG Professionals Australia, SA Board, starting after the AGM.  What did you know about LG Professionals Australia, SA prior to your appointment - and what motivated you to nominate for the board?
    I have been a beneficiary of the LG Professionals SA services for some years now, having appreciated the support services they provide the sector.

    I have been wanting to be more active for some time and  the time is now right for me to join the board and assist in working to progress the strategic direction of the organisation and help it continue to positively influence the sector grow over the coming period.

    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Local government is so diverse. As a CEO you deal with the whole spectrum of issues and people.  The capacity to see things on the ground is a real ‘buzz’. To know that you can really make a difference if you put your heart and soul  into it is what drives me and keeps me excited about going to work.

    Also, the people I work with currently and who I have had the pleasure of working with over the years have made the work all the more pleasurable. There’s a real feeling that we are all part of a collective and the competition that does exist between councils at times is constructive and to everyone’s benefit in the long term.

    Gawler is poised for rapid growth  – what challenges and opportunities does this present?
    From a community creation perspective the challenges are very much about ensuring urban growth that is occurring progresses as naturally as possible and new residents establish real links to the existing community. We don’t want the 'them' and 'us' dynamics setting in.

    As with many growth areas around the state, central to our current planning and policy initiatives relative to growth is to ensure the timely provision of infrastructure to meet current and future needs such as conventional roads, reserves, community services etc, but also, and just as importantly, council  advocating on behalf of the community for services and facilities that the State and or Federal Governments, private and non-for profit sectors are responsible for.

    The organisational challenges are to ensure we have the right mix and level of skill sets throughout the organisation to meet both today's and tomorrow's challenges. A key focus area at the moment at  ‘Team Gawler’ is to better understand our culture and to strive for a more constructive and supportive team dynamic- we are getting there.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where would you like to be in 5 years?
    It's been a successful first three years at Gawler. I’m sure the next few years will be just as exciting and I’ll continue to make a contribution in building a strong and constructive organisation.  There are no plans to move on. There’s too much to do here at Gawler.

    Do you have an embarrassing 'local government moment'?
    Happy to share a couple of stories with my colleagues over a few drinks. I’ll leave it at that I think.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Time is precious. Having a young family, it's all about finding time to be at home and watching Alice (8), Lily (7) and Tomas (5) grow up.

    I’ve also got jobs to do on the weekends as instructed by Susie, my wife, which doesn’t leave much time left over. But when I do have a few spare minutes, catching up with friends for a meal and a few drinks always helps to keep things in perspective.

  • 22 Sep 2015 4:29 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Emma Morgan, Executive Assistant to the CEO at City of Charles Sturt.

    Emma is also the chair of the LG Professionals SA Women's Network.  She shares her visions for the future of the network and also speaks about her experience at Charles Sturt.

    Hi Emma - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Executive Assistant to the CEO at City of Charles Sturt which involves making sure that the office of the CEO runs smoothly in every way.  This includes fielding enquiries from residents, elected members and staff and investigating matters to ensure that the appropriate action is taken, not to mention the usual diary and correspondence management.  I’m also responsible for the administration of one of Council’s grant programs and find assisting community groups to deliver their initiatives is one of the more rewarding aspects of the role.

    Where were you working prior to your current position and what attracted you to the role?
    I was at Australian Rail Track Corporation for one year and prior to that I’d been at City of Marion for four years after many years in a variety of industries, always in an EA role.  My brief stint back out in the private sector made me realise that local government is where I wanted to be long-term.

    For you, what is the most satisfying thing about working in local government?
    Being able to help members of the community.  I also find the variety of things I’m exposed to in local government makes for an interesting career.  It’s a constant learning curve.

    You’re the current chair of the Women’s Network.  What do you see as the main role of this network – and who should get involved?  What are the 3 main things you hope to achieve in the next 12 months for the network - and what have you been most proud of so far?
    The main role of the network is to provide opportunities for women in local government to network and/or gain development and training.  The three main things I hope to achieve with the committee in the next 12 months are:
    - Continue to empower women by giving them different opportunities to network, build their knowledge and confidence, develop their careers and share their experiences - the challenge here is to keep it fresh and tap into the current areas of appeal to women
    - Extending more training opportunities to regional councils
    - Encouraging more women in local government to self-nominate for Awards.
    And the thing I’m most proud of so far is the annual conference we’ve put together this year which will be taking place on 23 October.  We have a great line up of speakers exploring some really interesting topics.

    You are the EA to the CEO – what are the challenges of this role and what advice would you have for others wanting to pursue a similar career?
    I often deal with disgruntled residents who’ve escalated their complaint to the CEO’s office.  By the time they get to me they’re usually very unhappy!  So one of the challenges is the ability to develop a thick skin and grit your teeth when they’re extremely rude and insist that they’re paying your wages because they pay their council rates!  The role also requires the utmost confidentiality so it can also be challenging when you’re privy to a lot of information and you need to field questions from staff or elected members in a diplomatic way.  I’d advise those wanting to pursue a similar career to speak to somebody already in the role to get a better understanding of what’s involved and to seek training to help develop the appropriate skills.

    EA’s to CEO’s ‘see it all’ and are well placed to be involved in just about every aspect of the organisation.  Do you see yourself staying in that role long term or using it as a springboard into other areas of local government or management?
    I really enjoy my role, exactly because of the fact that I’m involved in all areas of the organisation and it’s so diverse, so yes I do see myself staying in it long term.

    Can you share a funny ‘local government moment?’ (Names can be changed to protect the innocent!)
    I’ve sat through a few funny council and committee meetings, but probably the less said about that the better!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I enjoy catching up with friends over a nice meal and glass of wine, reading, cooking and travelling, as well as playing the piano and flute.

  • 19 Aug 2015 4:29 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Rebecca Tappert, Manager, Administrative Services for the Barossa Council.

    Rebecca has also been a business owner, an elected member, a participant in the Rural Management Challenge and a recent graduate of the Professional Leader's Program (PLP).  She shares her thoughts and insights on local government, the Rural Challenge and the PLP.

    Hi Rebecca - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Manager Administrative Services. My portfolio consists of leadership of the customer service team, management of our 19 external section 41 committees (!), management of Council’s Lease and Licence Agreements with many varied sporting and community groups, liaison with elected members through the facilitation of event management and community requests and various project / administration programs working with most internal groups of Council.

    I have always been a 'Jack of all trades' and while there is scope for specialty areas within local government, this role enables me to have lots of variety and breadth of focus areas which is something that really appeals to me.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    After 12 years in banking and finance with Adelaide Bank in IT projects and risk management Roles, I left the bank and moved to the Barossa to start a small business with my husband, BakerST Bakery in Williamstown.

    We have run our little shop for 8 ½ years now and only recently worked out that in that time, we have employed 25 locals! Something we are really proud of. Through my work at the bakery and involvement in the local 'main street committee', I was encouraged to run for the 2010 election and to my surprise, I was a successful candidate!

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    My time as an elected member for council was fulfilling and just what I was looking for to give back to the community in which I was quickly becoming a part of. In fact, the passion for local government has only grown since then.

    After 2 years as an elected member, the opportunity for my role came up and after a very rigorous recruitment, I resigned as a member and was appointed to the staff.

    You were a participant in the Rural Challenge - and then went on to be a part of the Professional Leaders Program.  Can you comment on what prompted you to be part of the Challenge and then enrol in the PLP? 
    Having the privilege of wearing many hats (as lots of us do) has provided me with great grounding to have a community member, business owner, EM and staff perspective when looking at opportunities and always having the customer/community central to everything I do.

    For me, the Rural Management Challenge was a great opportunity to learn more about different areas of council that I had not been exposed to before. During the Challenge, based on a fictional council, we dealt with with unsightly premises, a workplace fatality and media controversy from an over exuberant Mayor!

    While we didn’t come away with the win that year, the team based working style was great to be part of.

    I had a great time on the PLP! The group of participants this year were great to work with and again, I got so much from hearing about other perspectives and problem solving techniques from different communities to my own.

    My favourite session was the strategic planning session, as The Barossa Council commences its Community Plan development, it has been great to mirror the learning from the PLP direct into working life. The challenge now is to decide if I continue on with any further study!

    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Working with community members that results in constructive positive outcomes is what I find really rewarding.

    Being able to sell the benefits of an opportunity, whether it be to a community or sporting group or the elected members through a Council report and seeing that translate to real life implementation, drives satisfaction all round.

    The ever present challenge (whether perceived or not!) of council 'red tape' and actually making things happen, puts a smile on everyone’s face. Working with my customer service team to develop their skills and local government knowledge is also motivating for me, and hopefully them too!

    Speaking about your current role - people often think of the challenges in local government as being how to continue to service their changing communities - but how do you see the impact of greater legislation and focus on the administrative 'engine' of councils?  What are the key issues that councils will face?
    As I mentioned above, part of my role is interpreting that legislation and process for real community outcomes. I often say to community members, provide me with the information of your request and I’ll guide you through the process. I  guess together, we both have expertise in the outcome. They know what they want to achieve, I have to find a way to help them achieve it!

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    I am really enjoying my role in the Barossa for now, who would want to leave such an amazing, community, food, wine, experience orientated place? And The Barossa Council? The culture is right in alignment with what I enjoy going to work for. So unless we have any more directors retire in the next five years….I don't think I am going anywhere!!!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I spend it with my husband and two boys, 11 and 8 who are footy mad. Between Barossa District Football Club commitments and our 2 weekly visits to the 'Portress', it leaves just about enough time for the vegie garden and mountain bike riding around the Southern Barossa!

  • 22 Jul 2015 10:56 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Tomas Alves, Community Learning and Outreach team Leader, City of Salisbury.

    Tomas explains his role, the role of libraries into the future, his fascinating background in TV in his native Brazil - and also discusses his experiences both as a participant and mentor in the Management Challenge.

    Hi Tomas, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I’m the Community Learning and Outreach Team Leader working for the Library and Community Centre Division. My role involves developing and coordinating library programming strategy to engage and meet the needs of our community.
    It’s a busy role that provides me with the opportunity to work collaboratively with other areas in council, as well as other community organisations and ultimately community members.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    After completing a Degree in Communication at university, I worked for not for profit organisations developing their marketing strategies. This experience provided me with a great appreciation for community based organisations that contribute ‘on the ground’ to community development.
    A few years later I was headhunted by Sony Pictures in Brazil to work in the marketing / TV production department. It was a really fun and fast paced environment which required a lot of traveling around South America and US. At Sony I had the chance to interview a few TV stars from popular shows at the time: ‘Desperate Housewives’, ‘Lost’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Criminal Minds’. It was really interesting to observe how that perceived glamour life was translated into a very professional behind the cameras work life.
    In 2007 I decided to leave everything behind to live overseas with my wife. So here I am in Adelaide, working for the City of Salisbury.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I always had the desire to contribute to community development and participation. Local government seemed to be the best industry and I decided to volunteer for the City of Salisbury right after moving to Adelaide. From there the opportunities were just coming my way. A part-time employment led to a full time job, which then led me to my current team leader role. And I am very thankful for that!

    LGMA Management Challenge
    You’ve been involved with the LGMA Management challenge both as a participant and now as a mentor for the City of Salisbury team.  What do you see as the key benefits to you personally and to Salisbury of participation in the management challenge? What did you learn from your mentor role?
    I’m proud to be part of both Salisbury winning teams – first as a team member in 2012, then as a mentor in 2015. The LGMA Management Challenge is taken really seriously at City of Salisbury with a well-structured professional development program. That is where, in my view, the benefits come from.
    As a participant I was exposed to various areas of our organisation and learnt a lot about strategies, leadership, process and procedures within the local government context. The availability and interaction with senior management provided me and other team members with invaluable insight and information about our own organisation and the local government industry.
    As a mentor it’s all about sharing the experience and providing guidance when needed. Although it’s not a hands-on role, it certainly gave me a chance to observe and understand about team development and team dynamics. The 2015 LGMA Salisbury Management Challenge Team – CosMosis – was a really good team to work with and I learnt a lot from them.
    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I think what motivates most people who work in local government is the passion to work with and for the community. We all want the best for our communities; especially because we are part of it ourselves. I find it extremely rewarding mapping out community profiles, community needs and service delivery. This is very dynamic as people and needs change more often than we think!

    Speaking about your current role - people have been talking about the potential demise of libraries for years, as books and content become more available online - but of course this hasn't actually happened.  What are libraries doing to remain at the core of communities?
    Libraries are seen as a truthful institution by community members. It is that welcoming place that congregates people from all walks of life, supporting community engagement, learning activities and social participation. To remain relevant libraries have always been able to respond to changes and adapt service delivery to meet community needs.
    Delivering information, technology and learning for people is what we do best. And as advances occur in technologies, libraries will always be able to embrace it and provide customers with access to knowledge and information supporting participation, innovation and well-being.
    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Local government has provided me with some great professional opportunities and I am working hard on my professional development – currently doing the Emerging Leaders Program – to pursue a Manager role in the future.

    Do you have an embarrassing 'Local Government moment'?
    It’s hard to choose one that I can actually share!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Spending family time with the kids (3yo and 6 months), having friends over for special Brazilian food, and playing soccer at least once a week.

  • 19 Jun 2015 9:12 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak we Paul Rogers, Depot Administration Officer at the District Council of Kimba.

    Paul explains the challenges of working in one of SA's most remote councils.

    Hi Paul - thanks for speaking with us. 

    What's your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Depot Administration Officer, and being in a small rural Council it involves many aspects including assisting with Procurement / WHS & Risk Management / Aerodrome Management / CWMS Management / Training etc. Anything that relates to the Works Department is within my role.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    I was with Country Health SA, employed as a Senior OHSW Consultant assisting six Health Units. To be honest, I "fell into" my current role. I left health with a promise of a career in mining.  This didn't eventuate and thankfully,  Council had a position available.

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government, especially in a rural council? Assisting with maintaining and developing infrastructure that benefits the local community which I work and live in.

    Speaking about your current role - What are the key priorities in creating and maintaining the many assets and public works for Kimba?
    I would suggest maintaining and upgrading the 1500 km of unsealed road network within our council area would be a very high priority, along with the sealed roads both inside and outside of town. Waste and CWMS management would also be high on the list.

    As one of SA more remote councils - what challenges does this present and how have you managed those challenges?
    Probably the main challenge would be accessing adequate funding to maintain and upgrade roads, senior management have this as a high priority and are striving to keep it on the radar of those who allocate funding.

    You are currently enrolled in the Emerging Leaders Program.  What attracted you to this program - and what do you hope to achieve from it?
    I was attracted to the program by the opportunity to further my education and development. My primary goal was to learn more about how the LGA functions, and how I can perform better within the organisation.

    How are you finding it so far?
    It has been enjoyable and challenging. Any learning that involves self-reflection and insight into existing perceptions can be difficult, but invaluable.

    Do you think the networking connections you are making with fellow colleagues will benefit you in the future?  How?
    The networking could potentially be the most beneficial outcome from the course. To work and learn from and with such a diverse group of people from a variety of occupations and workplaces/cultures will benefit me greatly in the future, either in my current role or a future role. The larger the network of people/resources you can draw from the more advantageous it will be.

    We heard that you recently caught up with your cousin, our LG Professionals President Andrew Aitken at an ELP dinner - and it was a surprise as you didn't know he was involved!  How was that?
    It was great to catch up with 'cuz'. Although from very different backgrounds, we were quite close when younger, but haven't seen each other for about ten years. I look forward to meeting again later in the year at the program culmination.

    Personally, what's the longer term plan - where do you see yourself in 5 years? Within Local Government, my goal would be to utilise my WHS skills and experience at a higher and broader level, facilitating systems across multiple councils. As to whether this eventuates, watch this space!!!!

    Do you have an embarrassing 'Local Government moment?'
    None that come to mind, probably haven't been with Local Government long enough to initiate a major disaster, this may occur in time!!!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    I enjoy many pastimes, but have a passion for fishing, camping and all things woodwork, including furniture restoration.



  • 21 May 2015 12:49 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Matthew Pears, CEO of the City of Mitcham.

    Matthew discusses the challenges and opportunities for Mitcham - and why Port Power should be in division "two" of the AFL...

    He has also recently been appointed as the Chair of the CEO Network and he shares his goals for the group.

    Hi Matthew, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    Chief Executive Officer, City of Mitcham.  It involves working with the community, elected members and staff to constantly improve the services provided by City of Mitcham.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I worked for the City of Playford for just over ten years.  Initially as Manager of Planning and Economic Development and then as one of two General Managers.  Before joining Local Government I worked at Centrelink for ten years.

    What attracted you to Local Government, and your current role?
    I have always wanted to work in the public sector, Local Government is the most dynamic level of government because we are the closest to the community.

    You’ve recently been appointed to both the LG Professionals SA Board and also the Chair of the CEO network.   Tell us a bit more about the CEO network – what do you see as the benefits of the group – and what are your goals for your time as Chair?
    I think the CEO network:
    •    Could provide CEOs the opportunity to speak (independently of elected members) on issues affecting the sector,
    •    Provides development and training opportunities,
    •    Provides networking opportunities.
    As Chair I am keen to explore and further define the role of the network, particularly around our interaction with other LG Professionals Networks and giving a CEO perspective on issues facing the sector.

    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in Local Government?
    Working with so many passionate people (staff, Elected Members and the community) who care about their communities.

    Mitcham is one of South Australia's more “established” council areas –what challenges and opportunities does this present?
    The rate of change in society is such I don’t think Mitcham is ‘established’.  The City itself and Council’s role  will be very different in 10 years. 

    In the short term there are significant opportunities for Mitcham around the future of Flinders University (including Tonsley), Flinders Hospital, Blackwood and South Road.  Council needs to work with the community to shape these opportunities not just for Mitcham but for the future of the State.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan ? where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Finally taking some long term leave, on a beach having just celebrated another Central District Premiership, wondering if Port Power will ever get out of Division two of the AFL (division two having been created to stop the Power having to play superior teams such as the Crows).

    Do you have an embarrassing "Local Government moment"?
    I would need more space to do justice to this question.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    Taxi driver to two teenage sons, watching almost any sport and fighting a losing battle to stay fit.

  • 19 Mar 2015 1:41 PM | Anonymous
    This month we speak with Tammie Hamilton, Service Coordinator , Planning and Quality for the City of Playford.

    Tammie shares some of her background, her positive reflections of LG Professionals membership and also explains what motivates her to work in Local Government. 

    Hi Tammie, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I’m the Service Coordinator (front line manager) for the Planning and Quality (P&Q) Business Support Team at the City of Playford
    The team and I are accountable for ensuring all Council’s services have a ‘service standard’. This is where services are costed (so we can sustainably afford what we provide) and measured as a method to ensure we deliver efficient and effective services to the community.

    As of this year, P&Q are also accountable for the Resident Satisfaction Survey which is currently undergoing a full review so we can align it with our Service Standards system and other Council functions, such as the Strategic Plan, Community Vision etc. 
    Our goal is to embed the Service Standards system within Playford, much like WH&S where all staff will are aware and accountable for the delivery of their service standard, and at the same time enable Managers to make more informed decisions around resourcing based upon the measures they collect and align with the results from the Resident Satisfaction Survey.

    The team is also accountable for supporting internal Service Level Agreements; we are currently setting them up in time for next financial year and ensure they align to Playford’s new business model.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    According to Playford staff, I was a “Mexican” before I came here…I was ‘south of the border’ at the City of Salisbury for 7 years.

    I started at Salisbury straight out of University where I worked in the Strategic Planning Department across the areas of Recreation Planning and Social Planning.  I finished up at Salisbury in a Research and Policy Officer role.
    I then moved to Playford as the Social Planner where I delivered on a Social Infrastructure Plan for the City.

    In 2013 I was appointed Service Coordinator for a newly developed team in Playford: Planning & Quality.  This team was put together as a way to plan for tomorrow.

    What attracted you to Local Government, and your current role?
    I am really passionate about helping people and while at University I identified that Local Government was a potential space where I could make my mark.

    My final year university placement was at Salisbury where I undertook a research project focussing on how young people with a disability access council services. After this, and I was fortunate enough to be offered a Project Officer role. This was funded by the Office of Recreation and Sport where I worked with an existing family early intervention program to support children in families to engage in local sport and recreation opportunities.

    You’ve been very involved in LG Professionals, as a member, part of a challenge team and now as a board member – how do you think this involvement has changed or assisted your approach to your current role?
    Being a member of LG Professionals has always helped me keep an eye on what’s going on across the sector. Having access to the networks, training and development opportunities provided by LG Professionals has really provided value to my role. It has enabled me to understand and learn from sector issues and opportunities, as opposed to not understanding how it fits or impacts the sector or the community I work for.

    What motivates you? - What do you find interesting or exciting about working in Local Government?
    The diversity of work that Local Government provides is always a motivator, but more importantly the role Local Government plays in providing services to the community is my main driver.
    Although the services a community needs may not be the accountability of Local Government it’s important that we work with other sectors of Government, the not for profit sector and the community to ensure the community get the right services and make sure it’s delivered in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner.
    Playford is one of Australia's key growth councils – what challenges and opportunities does this present?
    Playford is dealing with a split in the City between the old and new areas. Sustainably providing infrastructure and services as the City grows is a challenge, as is building community capacity in a historically low socio-economic area.

    The growth of the City is the opportunity! We just have to ensure that it’s coordinated strategically in a way that the community benefits.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    At the moment my career goal is to be a CEO in LG – ambitious I know!
    I’ve just started my MBA so I hoping that in the next 5 years I’ll have moved up to senior management.

    Between now and then, I’d like the opportunity to learn as much about council business as I can, and I’m lucky that my current role is exposing me to much more.

    Do you have an embarrassing "Local Government moment"?
    At the LG Professionals Awards a few years ago. I was on the dance floor with Mal Hemmerling (Playford’s Assets Director) and I did a twirl and slipped and ended up flat on the floor.  I blame my shoes and a wet floor (not the champagne).

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    I enjoy weight training and running. My latest interest has been military obstacle courses e.g. True Grit. I also enjoy learning to surf and cook new dishes.

    I LOVE travelling… my next trip is back to Sweden for my friend’s wedding in September 2015 and I’ll head home via the USA or Asia.

  • 16 Feb 2015 2:09 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Steve Wooley, Corporate Services Manager / Deputy CEO Wudinna District Council. 

    A recent graduate of both the Professional Leadership Program, (PLP) and the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), Steve explains how involvement with these programs have benefitted his daily work and career and also outlines the challenges facing Wudinna compared to Metro Councils.

    Hi Steve, thanks for talking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    Corporate Services Manager / Deputy CEO Wudinna District Council.
    Main tasks include oversight of a small administration team (5) covering Finance, Governance, Risk Management, Customer Service, Policies, Procedures etc plus support and relief of CEO during his leave.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    Deputy CEO Elliston District Council for 2 years and prior to that Team Leader Legislative Compliance Team Whyalla City Council.

    I moved into Senior Management because I saw an opportunity to develop my career and bring a different perspective to the Deputy CEO role, most of whom seem to rise via the purely admin stream.

    Legislative compliance at the ‘top end’  is becoming increasingly vital as transparency in decision making is demanded by ratepayers, the media and governments.

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    The diversity of day to day tasks and the experiences that flow from that.

    Although you may have a day or week’s work plan established, something unexpected always crops up and often requires you to re-prioritise the plan & allocate time & resources you may not have.

    It is satisfying to meet the challenge of the unexpected and still complete the planned tasks, perhaps using skills you didn’t know you had.

    Speaking about your current role - What are the key challenges ahead for Corporate Services at Wudinna? 
    Local Government generally is being forced to do more and more with less and less resources and flowing from that is the need employ qualified and experienced staff to ‘do the job’.

    Wudinna carries exactly the same levels of legislative responsibility as Adelaide City Council, but we have to work with extremely limited financial & human resources.
    We simply cannot offer the salary packages paid by metro or large rural councils and not every-one appreciates the lifestyle of a remote country town, so attracting & retaining qualified staff can be troublesome.

    We do employ staff on reduced hours or part time arrangements, and our current employees do a magnificent job given the restrictions they face.

    We have implemented resources sharing with neighbouring Councils but the salary & vehicle costs of a 600km return journey often negate any efficiencies or savings. 
    Council amalgamations are often offered as the solution but here, the tyranny of distance prevents such concepts being truly successful over the long term.

    How do you think the challenges differ between Metro and Country Councils?
    I am not sure they do, metro councils may be able to offer better salary packages and access to a different lifestyle to ours, but they also risk high staff turn-over and are perhaps under more intense direct pressure from rate-payers, the media and politicians to do more with less.

    They certainly seem to attract more scandals and enquiries into decisions and actions than we do.

    Rural people seem to be happy with verbal responses to queries about Council’s actions whereas metro dwellers appear to ‘go formal’ with Freedom of Information Act applications or reports to ICAC or the Ombudsman from the start.

    You are a recent graduate of both the Professional Leadership Program, (PLP) and the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

    How do you think you have benefitted from getting involved with these programs? Would you recommend the programs to other Local Government professionals?
    The ELP & PLP are have been of tremendous benefit to my role from both an operational and networking perspective.

    Certainly the theory lessons of the PLP have given me greater insight into handling day to day issues from a different perspective, while enhancing my knowledge in the financial arena.

    The ELP was very stimulating and challenging. From day 1 we were encouraged to see the program as one of self-development and self-analysis leading to better self-confidence that enhances better decision making.

    I would thoroughly recommend either or both courses for anyone who wishes to make a career for themselves in Local Government regardless of their age or level of employment.

    The formal learning component of both ELP & PLP is a valuable asset while the networking skills and individual bonds that were created via both programs will remain with me for life.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Sitting on the boat, catching King George Whiting at a secret spot off the West Coast of the Eyre Peninsula is the dream.

    Reality will probably see me working perhaps 2 -3 or more days per week.

    If I get the balance right, I can continue to contribute to the work force while enjoying some of the luxuries I have worked for since 1972.

    Do you have an embarrassing "Local Government moment?"
    Far too many to list here. In 15 years you are bound to make a few mistakes, if you don’t learn from them, you won’t succeed. Once is a mistake, twice is a habit.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    Well, if it has spark plugs, I’m probably driving or riding it.

    I am a dedicated ‘petrol head’ with a collection of classic cars and motorbikes, plus an under used race car.

    I fish from my own boats, and try to squeeze a bit of camping in around using all the toys.

    The lawn bowls bug bit me 2 years back and I worry that it will take over as it is a wonderful atmosphere to indulge in fine wine and whisky appreciation sessions.

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