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  • 22 Jun 2017 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Emma Watkins, Senior Community Ranger - Community Safety, City of Onkaparinga.  

    Emma speaks about what motivates her to achieve in local government, her recent experience in the Emerging Leaders Program and her thoughts on the recent national Congress.

    Hi Emma, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?

    My current role is Senior Community Ranger - Community Safety at the City of Onkaparinga. I’m based at the Noarlunga office and am responsible for managing any escalated issues, creating and managing strategies, projects and procedures and ensuring our team can effectively meet the needs and expectations of our community.

    Our team consists of 11 Community Rangers, two Seniors, a TL and Manager. Our Community Rangers number can increase to 17 throughout summer which is our peak season.

    We’re responsible for the effective administration of approximately 13 Acts with around 70 per cent of our work focused on dog management.

    Day-to-day my troops are out on the road investigating reports, proactively attending to identified breaches and engaging with the community.

    Our team handles approximately 2500 reports each year, spends 1000 hours proactively patrolling our foreshore throughout summer and manages 35,000 registered and 10,000 unregistered dogs, just to name a few!

    From time to time I get to go out on the road to assist with some of the more complex matters which I enjoy immensely.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?

    I started my career in local government in a casual beach patrol position for some spare cash while I was studying Paramedic Science full time at Flinders University. I ended up going part time at Uni and part time in local government. In the four years it took to finish my degree I’d completely fallen in love with local government and the Community Safety section at Onkaparinga.

    I intended to leave local government to work with SA Ambulance but the pull of local government and leadership was too strong. I was promoted to the position of Senior Community Ranger in December 2015 and I’ve had the opportunity to develop what was a relatively new role at the time into an effective, dynamic and fun career.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?

    I am a highly motivated person in most areas of my life. You could say I’m a bit of a keen bean. I jump out of bed each day because I love the creativity involved in trying to solve problems and get a real kick out of getting a project going and seeing a positive effect.

    I am attracted to the closeness of local government to its communities. It’s easy to see the direct effects of our actions when you are at the coalface. Customers can come to the front counter to discuss any issue which isn’t the case with other tiers of government.

    My vision for our team and for me is to create a safe environment in which community members can be empowered to take action to resolve issues. I strongly believe that local government does not have to do everything all the time. We should be providing community members with all the necessary information to increase their confidence and enable them to connect with neighbours to find a mutually agreeable and lawful solution to a problem. This reduces the enforcement action required by us.

    We do so much amazing work in this space at the City of Onkaparinga and I’m constantly motivated by the great energy of our team.

    Why did you decide to participate in the Emerging Leaders Program?

    At the City of Onkaparinga we have a fairly competitive application process for participation in the ELP. I applied last year after talking to previous participants about the program and listening to their stories.

    When I applied for the program I had been in a formal leadership role for only a few months and thought it sounded like a fantastic way to obtain some of that foundation leadership knowledge required to effectively lead a successful and motivated team.

    I chose to apply for the ELP over other leadership courses because it is so heavily set in the local government environment and I truly believe you can’t understand the beast which is local government leadership unless you are in it.

    What were your most important learnings/experiences from that program?

    There were two main learnings for me in the ELP.

    Firstly I found out, specifically and scientifically, what my weaknesses are and from that I have been able to refine my processes to manage them and find good allies in my team to work around those weaknesses. This has been huge for me in increasing my efficiency and professionalism.

    Secondly, the program has given me an enormous catalogue of experiences working with people with very different work styles and personalities and from this, as I encounter new people in my day-to-day work, I’m better able to understand the communication and leadership approach that may be most effective for us both.

    Much of the focus of the ELP is on leadership. What did you learn about leadership that you can share with our readers?

    I learnt that leadership is not about controlling others, rather it’s about finding out what motivates people and influencing in a way which achieves goals and keeps people satisfied at work. Once people have a clear understanding of what’s required of them and are feeling motivated at work, good things will happen.

    How has the ELP helped you in your career?

    The ELP afforded me many opportunities to connect with leaders at the City of Onkaparinga and other organisations and has exploded my network across local government. Your network is one of the most important assets you carry with you as a leader.

    Have you/do you attend any other LG Professionals, SA events or programs? What has been your experience of them?

    Yes, I’m currently studying the Professional Leadership Program with around one month to go. The PLP is far more technical which I am finding to be a more comfortable study structure than the ELP. You learn a concept, practice the concept, receive a mark on your competency and then move on. Although, I do miss the emotional stretch of the ELP and the creativity and networking opportunities.

    You won a scholarship to attend the National Congress in Hobart, how did that come about?

    Yes, I’ve recently returned from the Local Government Professionals, Australia National Congress and Business Expo in Hobart.

    I was fortunate to win the Raymond West Scholarship to attend as an emerging leader. I made an application through LG Professionals, SA and won. I couldn’t believe it! The City of Onkaparinga supported me to attend the Congress which I am incredibly grateful for.

    Our Learning and Development team went above and beyond to ensure I got the most out of the experience and I was fortunate to attend with my Director, Ali Hancock and CEO, Mark Dowd which was a great opportunity for me to connect and share ideas with our senior leaders.

    What did you think of the Congress? What were the highlights for you? Can you tell us about 2-3 things you took away from that experience that will assist you back in the council?

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Congress. It was my first time attending a Congress like this.

    Content wise, highlights for me were keynote speakers Holly Ransom and Lt David Morrison. My CEO, Mark Dowd has spoken about Lt Morrison’s ‘leading from the front’ presentation during our recent town hall (all staff meeting), bringing the stories of Lt Morrison’s time as Chief of Army working with Elizabeth Broderick (Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the time). Part of the message was finding the big problem and standing next to it. This message has been ringing around my head, and Mark’s head, since the Congress. It’s about courage, and I feel I am becoming a courageous leader in my workplace.

    Holly Ransom does speaking presentations for organisations on strategy, insight and capability and I have recommended her as a fantastic town hall presenter for the City of Onkaparinga. She ignited conversation and excitement throughout all levels of delegates, injecting energy into the Congress.

    I have returned to work newly energized and motivated. I found the networking and presentations interesting and valuable to my organisation and to me. I have a fresh outlook on how I, as a young leader, am able to influence and impact my daily interactions. This will be immediately beneficial to my team and organisation. I will share my learnings wherever and with whomever I can and look forward to continuing to develop as a leader in local government.

    Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?

    I am a fairly active person, I love playing social netball, hiking, running, cycling and walking my handsome dog Archibald. I do all of this activity to counter my great passion for food and wine. I often travel to seek new food and wine experiences around SA and the world.

     

     

  • 29 May 2017 9:42 AM | Anonymous

    Networking is an essential part of leadership.  In this series we chat to leaders in our industry about how, and why, they network with others.
    In this article we speak to John Devine, General Manager City Development, City of Unley.

    Hi John. What’s your opinion of networking in local government?

    In my view all sectors of the economy/ society network. It’s a part of doing business. It’s hard to survive in business if you don’t build & use your network, either as customers, suppliers, or business partners.

    The best in local government do it as well as anybody, but many don’t use it well.

    Local government tends to take a more collegial or family approach to its networking rather than using it as a deliberate strategy to doing business. Many people have networks mostly focussed on similar disciplines and are more social in nature when they meet at conferences or forums rather than improving business outcomes. 

    A good network can ensure that you get improved accessibility within other organisations to help with obtaining information, or getting decisions made.

    How has networking been of benefit to you in your career and/or in your job role?

    I believe that two or more heads are better than one, when thinking about solutions or how to do things. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but probably know someone who might be able to shed a light on the topic.

    It’s important to learn from others experiences, rather than relearn something others could have told you about. Networks are an excellent way of learning from others.

    For example in Procurement – it’s important to find out “who knows who” in the market rather than rely on information from contractors and consultants.  This also extends to potential staff recruitment.

    What approaches, techniques and ideas for effective networking can you share? For example, the national congress has just been held in Hobart. What was your approach for networking at the congress?

    My style at conferences is diverse. I tend to talk to a number of the exhibitors, to learn more about their product and service and gauge the type of company they are. I’m more interested in relationships than transactional style so I try and get them off their sales pitch and learn about their clients who can be a testimony to them.

    Interstate leaders are important to meet as they in many cases have similar issues and opportunities to ourselves and may have a new approach, or know someone who has done it well, or know someone who can help.  Often they can be at a different stage of this issue/ opportunity, or we might be ahead of them and can share our experiences.

    In addition – it’s often very useful to be on the program as a speaker at a conference, because after the session it’s common to be approached by a different range of people that you may otherwise have missed.

    For those just dipping a toe in the water of networking – how would you advise to get started?

    Associations such as LG Professionals – and their networks - are excellent vehicles for building your network.  Join your local state body and get involved. 

    Recognise the value of networking – and approach it strategically.  Network for information – or for relationships that can lead to better outcome – or even your next job.

    Don’t fear networking – and remember that while social networking is important  – strategic  business networking will provide even better results.


  • 27 May 2017 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    Networking is an essential part of leadership.  In this series we chat to leaders in our industry about how, and why, they network with others.

    In this article we speak to Victoria MacKirdy, General Manager Organisation & Culture, Alexandrina Council.

    Victoria, in your opinion, what are the benefits of networking in local government?
    There are so many areas in local government  where we can learn from each other and share ideas.  We all have friends and colleagues that we connect with regularly, but networking through Local Government Professionals I get to meet such a diverse range of people, from right across our State and also Australia. 

    How has networking been of benefit to you in your career and/or in your job role?
    There is no doubt networking has assisted me in my career, not only with great ideas, opportunities to collaborate but also with  career opportunities I would not have had from within the one organisation.

    How do you do it?  What approaches, techniques and ideas for effective networking can you share?
    There are no real secrets, you just need to be open, friendly and be prepared to share and support others, networking is a two way thing.  People want to know a bit about you personally and professionally.  It's also important if you say you will share an idea or project brief that you follow through.  Remembering people and what they do and where they work is important, a genuine interest to want to learn and share. 

    You've recently attended the national congress - what's your approach for networking at these types of events?
    The national congress is great because I get to meet people from all over Australia and from various parts of the world.  It sometimes makes you realise the challenges we face in our own local government area are either the same as others or not very big at all.  It's a great chance to chat to sponsors in a relaxing casual environment, test some ideas you may have and research projects and issues.  Having an external bouncing board for ideas with people who understand your sector is great.

    Do you think networking in local government is more effective and valuable than networking in other industries because of the essentially non-competitive nature of local government?  if so, please elaborate!
    Definitely, we all have the same focus of wanting to deliver great service to our communities.  The only competition would be for great staff.... 

    But speaking of other industries - What's the value of networking beyond your own industry?
    We all need to look outside of our sectors for ideas, feedback and sometimes inspiration.  We can get a bit bogged down in the regulations of our sector, so to look at different industries gives you the opportunity to challenge what we do and to think outside the box.  Networking usually provides you with the opportunity to explain to people what you do and why.... doing this sometimes makes you realise there could be a better way.

    What's the value of networking with other levels of government?
    We don't do this enough I think... the average person thinks government is just government.... they don't realise the layers, having good contacts in different levels can help so much with reducing duplication, better collaboration and great partnerships with services.  It's also great with sourcing funding for your local community.

    How do you do it?
    I attend a variety of programs and networks - this is where you get to meet different people and sectors you would not normally get to meet. I volunteer my time to speak or facilitate sessions where I can.  As I said before it's a two way thing, the more you put in the more you get out of it.

    Does your national board role enable networking more nationally?
    Absolutely - across local government and federal government and other sectors.

    What benefits does this bring?
    I have made some great friends/colleagues and now have contacts in councils right across Australia.  It helps me no end to understand the challenges and opportunities being faced by different States, having those contacts is great for sharing ideas and projects.  I also enjoy connecting people I meet who have similar challenges and can help each other.... if I can make those contacts/connections, it's extremely rewarding.

  • 27 May 2017 10:05 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Terra Lea Ranson, Manager of Community Capacity at the City of Onkaparinga.

    Terra Lea speaks about her career so far - and what's in store for the future.

    She also speaks about her role as Chair of the Community Manager's Network and how the network can assist councils to navigate the changes on the horizon for community services.

    Hi Terra Lea - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Manager of Community Capacity at the City of Onkaparinga. It involves developing strategic direction that enables the City of Onkaparinga as an organisation to build the capacity of our residents to create strong vibrant communities.  I am responsible for leading the coordination and implementation of recreation, youth, arts, disability, active ageing and community development programs and centres in accordance with relevant Council policies, plans and strategies.

    Where were you before? What is your work background/career path so far?
    I began my career as a youth worker in the not for profit sector. My interest was in developing opportunities for young people to grow, develop and thrive. 
    My desire to create opportunities led me into management and business development roles with a focus on young people, their families and communities.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I was attracted to local government because I wanted to work with local communities around leadership development, engagement and volunteering. My first role (10 years ago) at the City of Onkaparinga was as a senior project officer developing programs, frameworks and guidelines that build the capacity of local residents to have a voice, lead and participate.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I am excited about fostering community connections, initiating collaborative approaches and supporting community led innovation that builds the capacity of our communities to create places and spaces to connect, learn and recreate.

    You’re the Chair of the Community Managers Network.  There are huge changes in community services in councils, especially with the new health reform agenda, including consumer directed care. How does the network assist participating councils manage these massive changes?  What’s your vision for the network for the coming year?
    The Community Managers Network shares information, monitors trends and identifies opportunities to resource the sector and advocate for change. 
    To that end we:

    • meet regularly to share information.
    • run forums, conferences and events that inform the community services/community development sector. For example we held a ’standing room only’ workshop in February about the impact of NDIS on Local Government.
    • develop learning materials that build that capacity of the sector. For example we have developed an induction program for workers new to community development in Local Government which we offer three to four times a year (depending on need).
    • won funds from the LGA Research and Development Scheme to fund the Valuing Social Outcomes (VSO) research project which aims to help councils make evidence-based decisions regarding investment into social programs and services.
    • work with the LGA to understand how best to respond to the health reform agenda.

    My vision for the coming year is that as a network we provide opportunities for local government community development/community services to grow develop and thrive in a changing environment, advocating for our communities and our sector.

    As well as networking between councils - how does the Community Managers Network facilitate networking with other levels of government and private organisations?  Can you elaborate on this?
    We are active in seeking to work with state, federal government and private organisations. We engage and advocate when we  are concerned that changes or lack of response to emerging issues may have a negative impact on the communities we serve.

    For example at our NDIS forum we invited representatives from all three layers of government, private consultants and not for profits engaged in the disability sector. We have been active in understanding and advocating for positive improvements in the aged care and health sectors..

    In your role at Onkaparinga, Manager of Community Capacity; in 2 years' time, what do you think you will look back on with a sense of achievement?
    We are reviewing the provision of our community facilities and services and programs. I want to look back and see that the changes we have made have improved the life of our citizens, particularly those that are vulnerable, have enabled them to have a voice, influencing the decisions that are important to them and that we contributed to the development of their capacity to work with us to deliver on our goal of strong vibrant communities.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I enjoy spending time with my family, particularly my grandsons who remind me how delightful life is.  I live in the City of Onkaparinga and enjoy our beaches, walking trails, local food and the McLaren Vale wine region.
    I like to travel and experience different lifestyles and cultures.





  • 19 Apr 2017 12:56 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Nat Traeger, Director Community and Corporate, Coorong District Council. 

    Nat talks about what still motivates her after 30 years at the council and also highlights Coorong's recent recognition though the LG Professionals awards - and what those awards mean to the council staff and the community.

    Hi Nat - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?

    Director Community & Corporate, portfolio includes community development, arts & culture, community health & well-being, libraries, youth, customer service, information management, finance, IT, media & communications, organisational development & governance.

     

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)?

    May 2017 will see me celebrate a 30 year career with the Coorong Council, undertaking many of the operational roles contained in my portfolio.

     

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?

    My grandfather was an elected member and the opportunity to obtain a job in the local community was my initial motivation for applying for a role with Council.

     

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?

    Without doubt community connectivity; I simply love living in and working for the Coorong Council.  I am all about innovation, community collaboration, working in teams, vibrant social media engagement and ensuring my sense of humour is relayed to the people I work with and when appropriate, by the way we communicate.  In recent times I have been doing a lot of work in raising awareness of suicide prevention and putting measures in place to support a community who was rocked by the loss of six lives in a short space of time.

     

    Coorong District Council was certainly ‘punching above its weight’ at the LG Professionals, SA Excellence Awards – taking home two excellence awards.  You received the first place trophy for Innovative Management Initiatives with your fantastic Coorong District Council Accidental Art Gallery project. Can you tell us about this project and why you think the team was so successful in showing innovation?

    This project was essentially using an existing asset to create a previously non existent and new strategic direction for Council without having to spend significant money on a bricks and mortar solution.  The reason it was accidental was that we didn’t know our community was longing for an outlet to exhibit their art until I was given the responsibility of addressing the bare walls of our new civic centre and put a call out through social media.  The response was unexpected and overwhelming!

    We used internal resources to install tracking, made minor modifications to enable public access to what was to become our gallery area and established a team of keen (but inexperienced) staff to host our first exhibition.  Such was the success, and realising the opportunities arts could provide our predominantly agricultural region, subsequent exhibitions were held, local arts sales boomed and extraordinary positive feedback flooded in from the community.

    This transformation of civic space to gallery space revealed that arts and culture was important to the community and to determine just how far-reaching this was, an arts & culture audit was undertaken.  The report was integral to making a successful funding submission to Country Arts SA and we now have a full-time professional resource to support the gallery and implement new art projects.  Within months the arts lead regional renewal project known as ‘Creating Coonalpyn’ emerged; a suite of community arts projects in a struggling town which includes a flagship project, the silo mural which is now SA’s largest art canvas and turned the town into an iconic tourist destination over night.

     

    You were also involved in the team that won the Excellence in Sustainable Infrastructure and Asset Management award, with the Coorong District Council Unsealed Roads Project.  Please tell us a bit more about that project, and how the team worked so well together.

    Council has 1,462kms of unsealed road, in fact our entire road network is the same as driving to Sydney and back – so that is a lot of roads to maintain! Through education and upskilling, a change in workplace culture, improved methodology road construction teams have the confidence and knowledge to complete the road program. 

    The change has created a more consistent and longer wearing road surface, and reduced unsealed road maintenance from $45k to $30k per kilometre.  The team worked well together as they were on the same page about understanding current best practice and were open and collaborative in their discussions within the team, with the CEO and other non Infrastructure & Assets sections, such as human resources and finance.

     

     What do you think these awards mean to the Council, your staff and the community?

    One of our core strategic values is ‘enjoying work’ and within that core value is ‘joining others in appropriately celebrating individual, team and organisational success’. We like to celebrate in style, through writing stories of our success to share with the media and wider to community.  We also have internal reward and recognition policies in place to celebrate the achievements of teams and individuals.  We know the community value our success as they share this through feedback on our social media platforms. 

    An example is this response to media we circulated after these award wins “this is so exciting for the Coorong District Council team……..this is what effort, community collaboration, communication, energy and excitement looks like.  You have successfully delivered on projects that benefit the region, not just your council area.   Congratulations, you have dispensed with over worked words that offer much and deliver nothing; you are communicating through vibrant social media postings punctuated by humour whilst delivering facts and news.”

     

    Even with all the success, there must be some things that you wish you could improve.  What is the key challenge facing your department in the next 12 months – and how do you think you will address it?

    We have just undergone an organisational re-structure and I have new areas of organisational development and governance to sink my teeth into.  We have a bit of work to do so I am looking forward to working with some new team members in my department and making some headway into the backlog we have specifically in HR, WHS and our governance framework.

     The other exciting key challenge is to maximise the potential with the ‘Creating Coonalpyn’ project as we move towards a “Marketing Coonalpyn” phase.  We are looking at merchandising agreements, artist retreats and an annual RV Fest event and much, much more.

     I will address these challenges and others in my usual way which is through collaboration, communication, innovation and teamwork!


     What's next for you?  Where do you want to be (career wise) in 5 years?

    Despite my 30 years’ experience with Council, I simply have had no time to achieve one single qualification.  Now that my daughters are slightly more self-sufficient, I will be looking to undertake some professional development, most likely in the area I am most passionate about which is community development management.

     

    Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?

    I love coaching junior sports teams, in both basketball and netball.  If I am not coaching I am invariably managing a team, so being courtside is something I really enjoy.  My daughters both play a wide variety of sport so I enjoy travelling with them and watching them play.  We live by the mighty Murray so I love the outdoors in terms of kayaking, fishing and boating.  As a family we also enjoy geocaching which is a pastime I can’t recommend highly enough if you like adventure, exploring and seeing places off the beaten track!

     

  • 26 Mar 2017 2:47 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Alan Harvey, Manager Engineering Services at the Alexandrina Council.

    Alan explains the key challenges he faces in the upcoming 12 months in this role. Alan is also a mentor for Alexandrina's team in the Management Challenge - so he shares his experience in mentoring the team and also speaks about the benefits of involvement in the program.

    Hi Alan, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I look after Engineering Services at Alexandrina Council, which maintains, renews and builds the majority of the Council’s assets. This includes roads, footpaths, stormwater, parks, reserves, buildings, biodiversity areas and coastal and riverfront.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I have worked in private and public sector organisations in three different countries over the last 25 years. Starting straight from school at 17, this has allowed me to experience a range of functions such as civil engineering, traffic management, transportation planning, along with project and contract management.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    From very early on in my career I have worked in local government. I started in the UK and then moved back to Australia. Whilst this has been interspersed with private sector work, I have always enjoyed delivering outcomes for communities which make a difference in people’s everyday lives.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Whilst I still enjoy making a difference within the communities I work, I have found that I get a lot of satisfaction from supporting and developing the people I work with. I am lucky that my current role allows me to make that kind of difference with my colleagues.

    Speaking about your current role – Manager Engineering Services, Alexandrina Council. What are the main challenges you will face in the coming year?  What new challenges do you face with the increase in developments?
    The Alexandrina district is an area of continuing growth, with new housing and infrastructure being added and planned for every year. Engineering Service’s challenge year to year is to balance the expectations of the community against the money available when maintaining the assets they use daily.

    You are a mentor (for the second time) for this year's Australasian Management Challenge.  What value do you think participants (and councils) get from being involved in the Management Challenge?
    The Management Challenge is a unique opportunity for individuals to learn more about themselves and others in a safe environment. The process of bringing people who have never worked together in to a team is extremely powerful. In my view the Council acquires more rounded, informed and emotionally mature employees.

    What learnings can be ‘brought back’ and put into practice every day?
    What the participants and mentors of the Management Challenge bring back into their workplace is varied. Each person has a different journey and therefore obtains different experiences and learnings. For our team it was anything from time management to collaborative working to leadership style adaptation.

    What other comments would you like to make about the Management Challenge and its relevance to leadership and teamwork development?
    In my view the value of the Management Challenge is not necessarily what happens on the day, but the lead up to that day. In local government we do not often get the opportunity to work outside of our work areas and collaborate with people from across the organisation. If you get the opportunity to participate, go for it - the result will surprise you!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    With two active teenagers my wife and I spend most of our time running them around to their after school and weekend activities. In my other free time I am a School Governor, representative for my son’s soccer club and a karate instructor.

  • 23 Feb 2017 5:33 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Beth Davidson-Park, Director Operations, City of Adelaide.

    Before joining City of Adelaide in 2016, Beth worked for the City of Onkaparinga as General Manager for City Services followed by Corporate & Community Services.  She has also worked in the not-for-profit sector as General Manager Community & Housing for AnglicareSA and Director Strategy for Southern Cross Care (SA & NT).

    Beth has successfully applied and negotiated for federal and state funding for capital works and open space projects and negotiated partnering agreements with private, non-government and public sector agencies to deliver greater efficiencies and improved outcomes in a range of areas including capital development, aged care, graffiti management, youth development and community enterprise services.

    Beth was also recently appointed to the board of Local Government Professionals Australia, SA as the President-Elect. (She will become the President at the next AGM in October 2017)

    Hi Beth, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Director Operations for the City of Adelaide. This includes the planning, design and delivery of a range of large and complex projects throughout the city as well as the annual program of capital works and public realm maintenance regimes.

    You left the local government sector (after a time at Onkaparinga as a GM) to take a job in a not-for-profit organisation. How would you compare the two sectors and is there anything you learned in the NFP organisation that you will bring back to local government?
    Yes, I think after working for AnglicareSA I can bring a different perspective to local government. 

    Working in a competitive environment, with the constant need to maintain funding for essential services as well as development was a different focus that is now becoming more relevant to local government, especially with the emergence of competitive funding models with both the State and Federal governments.

    My experience at AnglicareSA and Southern Cross Care (SA&NT) also helped develop my skills in impacting and influencing other levels of government as well as private and NFP organisations. 

    What attracted you back to local government and your new role at Adelaide?
    I’ve always wanted to work for a capital city. It’s a different vibe to a metro or rural council. There’s more opportunity for collaboration with state government and businesses as well as working nationally. It’s a unique dynamic. 

    I love it.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
    I’m passionate about delivering the best outcomes for our communities, while also developing staff.   We are so fortunate to have high quality staff working in the sector - and I believe it’s our responsibility to continue to build skills, experience and capability within our employees for the betterment of themselves and their communities.

    How do you motivate your staff?
    Clarity of the vision and expectations. If staff know what is expected of them, and how that contributes to the overall goals & delivery, then they are more motivated. I always look to support staff through sharing responsibility and by recognition of their good work.

    I greatly value the work we do together and I’m always seeking opportunities for growth.

    You recently joined the board of Local Government Professionals Australia, SA. What attracted you to the role?
    Local government plays an essential role in every community in Australia.

    To meet the challenges and opportunities we face and to ensure the very best outcomes are realised I believe it is critical that we advocate for and offer our employees innovative, connected and evidence based training and development through the national network of LG Professionals Australia.

    What’s your vision for the organisation, as a board member?
    I spoke before about my passion for building capability and capacity within the sector. I’ll be keen to support the organisation to continue to deliver training and development, and to seek opportunities for broader business relationships and partnering.

    Working with other organisations and/or levels of government is becoming much more important for councils. Do you have any tips for forming relationships with other levels of government or other organisations?
    I start by seeking commonality of purpose and objectives, and it’s important to come to the table as equal partners.

    I aim to recognise each parties‘ contribution and seek synergistic opportunities – where working together will yield a much better result than the two organisations working independently.

    And finally, identify what skills and resources each party can provide to achieve the common objectives.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I’m keen on maintaining wellbeing and keeping a balance in my life.

    I go to gym at least 3 times a week to ensure regular exercise, I get a great deal of satisfaction from my garden and grow my own herbs and greens.  I enjoy spending time with family, my dogs and my friends.

    And I love to travel – in fact I just came back from a fantastic vacation in Canada and the US, visiting my son who lives in Vancouver.

  • 10 Dec 2016 10:04 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Jane Fetherstonhaugh, Deputy CEO at the District Council of Grant.  

    Jane tells us about her role at Grant and also provides some insight into the program that won the LG Professionals, SA Award for Leadership in Community Services in 2016  - the Geared2Drive program.

    Hi Jane, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My role as Deputy CEO at the District Council of Grant is fairly diverse, being a smaller council it means there is plenty of variety. 

    My role covers most of the corporate service functions including customer service, rates, payroll, records, finance and ITC.  I also look after community services including youth, tourism, events, sport and recreation. As part of my role I oversee the management of the Port MacDonnell Community Complex which encompasses a library, visitor information centre, gallery, museum, banking, rural transaction centre, Service SA and other government services.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I started out in local government completely by accident.  A two week stint in a small country Shire in Western Australia lasted for 7 years.  I worked in a few other small councils in WA before moving to the private sector. 

    In 2007 I moved back to my home town of Kalangadoo, 45kms north of Mount Gambier and after a short stint as Corporate Services Manager with the South East NRM Board I commenced as Deputy CEO at the District Council of Grant.


    What attracted you to local government and your current role?
    I am passionate about the regions and enjoy working at the grass roots level of the community.  I have always worked in rural areas and enjoy the development and implementation of community related projects across council. 

    At District Council of Grant we aim to give a hand up – not a hand out to our many community groups and it is satisfying to see these groups develop skills such as governance and budgeting to help them become more sustainable.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I really enjoy the interaction with my staff and get a lot of satisfaction from seeing them develop both personally and professionally.  I also love the variety.  With such a diverse role, there are always new issues to be solved – usually with limited resources. 

    The District Council of Grant operate the Mount Gambier Airport and the Mount Gambier and Districts Saleyards which both generate significant economic development to the region. This also creates some challenges around keeping these businesses sustainable.

    Speaking about your current role - Deputy CEO, District Council of Grant.  With such an unusual geography (your council essentially ‘surrounds’ the City of Mt Gambier) do you work closely on any key projects or share resources with Mt Gambier?  Are there any examples that you can share that might be applicable to other regional or metro councils?
    District Council of Grant has a close relationship with the City of Mount Gambier and work closely on issues such as economic development and tourism.

    As part of the Limestone Coast Local Government Association we have also formed a Finance Managers Group which comes together to share information and ideas.  We work jointly on common projects, with the most significant one being the development of a program for Financial Internal Controls. 


    District Council of Grant won the LG Professionals, SA Award earlier his year for Leadership in Community Services for the Geared2Drive program.  Can you tell us a bit about that program and what it meant to win the Award?  Has winning the award made it easier to promote the program externally and internally? 
    Geared2Drive is a learner driver program that was developed to support disadvantaged rural and regional young people to gain their provisional drivers licence if unable to gain through their own means. Volunteers assist youth to access the learner driver program, further their skills and prepare them for their provisional licence, where no other support is available to them. 

    The program focusses on training in safe driving, risk management, communication and managing peer relationships to minimise the risk young driver’s face on our roads. The Geared2Drive program was the first learner driver program in regional South Australia.  Attraction of volunteers and funding for the program continues to be a challenge, however the District Council of Grant have been proactive in maintaining momentum for this important initiative.  Winning the award for Leadership in Community Services has given the program greater exposure and awareness and helped in attracting new sponsors and volunteers.


    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    My husband and I run a small beef and sheep property at Kalangadoo which is where I grew up.  We are both very involved with the local football club which as in most small towns is the heart of the community. 

    I also sit on the Mount Gambier and Districts Community Bank Committee (Bendigo Bank), ACCare (Anglican Community Care) and am chair of the Grants Committee the Kalangadoo War Memorial and Sporting Club.


  • 27 Nov 2016 8:17 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Ella Winnall, Community Services Co-Ordinator at Berri Barmera Council. 

    Ella is a recent graduate of both the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) and the Professional Leaders Program (PLP).  She also won the Emerging Leader of the Year Award at the LG Professionals, SA 2016 Leadership Excellence awards.

    Ella shares her views about tourism in Berri Barmera, her experiences with the LG Professionals, SA Programs and why she enjoys working in the sector.

    Hi Ella, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am the Community Services Coordinator (Tourism & Transport) for the Berri Barmera Council. I manage our Berri Visitor Information Centre, the Riverland Community Transport and generally all things tourism & transport in the district.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I started out at council in 2008 in what was supposed to be a gap year after finishing high school. It was supposed to be a casual tourism officer job doing a few days a week at the visitor information centre. Local government quickly took a hold of me and I moved around the organisation quite a bit until this role came up which has been fantastic for me.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    At the time of starting at council I was 16 and really didn’t have much of an idea of what council did. Lucky for me I kind of fell into local government in the way that I did because I actually really love the local government sector as a whole. I love that local government is so connected to the community; you can really see the outcomes and impacts on the community.  

    What motivates you? -What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I love the Riverland and I am truly motivated to make it the best it can be for my friends and family. I am really passionate about regional areas in general and a big advocate for not letting your location hold you back- this is reflected in my work with local businesses.  I really enjoy the diversity of local government too, that there are so many teams doing such different work coming together to work for the community.

    Speaking about your current role - Community Services Coordinator at the Berri Visitor Information Centre.  What’s the outlook for tourism in Berri Barmera?  Has the region recovered well from the Lake Bonney water issue a few years back? How did the council assist in that recovery?
    Tourism is a great game to be in for South Australia at the moment and the Riverland in particular. Our local tourism operators are really stepping up their game, offering some pretty unique visitor experiences and the visitor numbers are increasing. We’re pretty lucky here to be close enough to Adelaide that it’s a weekender, but far enough away that you feel like you’ve had a decent getaway.

    Our tourism industry is so linked to our river system that we are often at the mercy of the river literally ebbing and flowing. This can lead to some interesting scenarios to manage, both in times of low flow as well as high flow.

    Throughout the drought, we really struggled with perceptions that the lake & river were empty which was far from the truth. We worked to challenge this in the media and made sure we were providing support to events and infrastructure which was suitable for the lower water levels. These days we are dealing with the other side of the coin, with the high flows spilling out over our creeks & wetlands - we now work on combatting the idea of a ‘flood’.

    The Murray is a pretty majestic river system and the changing river level always happens slowly – it’s pretty spectacular to watch actually. The environmental changes mean we can offer different experiences that wouldn’t normally be available. In low flow we get floodplain walks and a sandy beach at Lake Bonney but in high flow we get wetland canoe tours & yabbying.

    At risk of a sales pitch, come up & see for yourself, I can show you around!

    You’re a glowing example of a highly successful LG Professionals, SA alumni.   You were a past participant in the Emerging Leaders Program, a recent graduate of the Professional Leaders Program and you were also named last year’s Emerging Leader of the Year at the 15th Annual Leadership Excellence Awards.  How would you say these programs have assisted in your professional development?  What are the main benefits you have gained from participation?
    The programs together were perfect for where I was at both professionally and personally. The Emerging Leaders Program led to a rewarding mentoring relationship with our CEO, David Beaton which continues to impact my professional direction.

    It also led to some close networking bonds with professionals from around the state which I continue to call on every now and then.  The Professional Leaders Program was great for fine tuning some of the more technical leadership skills and I was able to make a heap of changes to our little part of the workplace which has made everything run smoother. Together the programs really complemented each other.

    How did you feel when you were named Emerging Leader of the Year?  What effect did your win have on your council and you personally?
    It was a little overwhelming to be honest! It had been a fairly full-on year for me both professionally & personally and I wasn’t expecting something like that to happen. I was extremely thankful for all of the people who had helped me to achieve what I had, as it certainly wasn’t done alone.

    The council staff & elected members were really proud and I didn’t realise the extent of the support I had in the community. Part of winning included the opportunity to attend the National Congress which was an opportunity not many regional local government employees get so that was exciting. More than anything the award encouraged me to keep doing good for the community, despite the little battles that come up to challenge us.

    You attended the LG Professionals National Congress this year.  Would you recommend other rural/regional local government professionals attend this National Congress?  Why?
    The congress was fantastic – I can’t speak highly enough of the opportunity. Particularly for rural & regional staff, the congress is really eye opening to the ‘other side’ with so many huge councils there. The guest speakers were world class, it’s not often I get the chance to hear from such high calibre speakers in little Berri Barmera. The networking was fantastic because of the diversity of the delegates and I have since had a few opportunities crop up from those connections.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    What leisure time???

    I spend a lot of my time outside of work on volunteer community committees and boards which can sometimes feel like work but is rewarding. Other than that, I love getting on the water after work for a quick wakeboard or kayak trip.

    I tend to support the local food & wine industries fairly well on weekends and try to travel as much as I can. It’s a pretty good work-life balance for anyone considering moving to a regional area!

  • 28 Oct 2016 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    This month we interview Mark Dowd, CEO of the City of Onkaparinga. 

    Mark speaks about his background and his approach to the challenges of local government. Newly elected to the position of President of LG Professionals SA, Mark also speaks about why he was keen to be involved with LG Professionals and his plans for the future.

    Hi Mark, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Chief Executive Officer, responsible for the delivery of Councils overall vision.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    Prior to taking on the role of CEO at City of Onkaparinga I spent the last 15 years working in the ICT/Technology sector with my most immediate past role being General Manager for Optus Business. Before that I have worked in numerous other management roles across different sectors.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I had spent a lot of time working with Governments over the last 15 years, understanding their business requirements and objectives and working with key decision makers on how technology could help assist them in achieving their goals so I was no stranger to the sector.
    When the role became available I did some research into Onkaparinga and the vision for the Council and was extremely impressed by the way Council approached its business, the vision it had for Strong Vibrant Communities and the strategies that had been developed to make this a reality. 

    Local government as a sector is certainly challenging but it is also very rewarding. There are not too many other sectors that provide you the opportunities to work across so many diverse fields- it’s a good sector to be involved with.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Success. Delivery. Strategy. The ability to bring a team together and think outside the box, put aside the commentary of ‘that’s how we have always done it’ and work with people who are looking to implement change and push the boundaries. That’s exciting.

    I believe the sector in general right now is really embracing change and looking for opportunities that may not have been considered in the past or may not have been considered to be the role of local government. My team are doing a great job in turning over every stone and looking for an edge.

    Speaking about your current role - Chief Executive Officer, City of Onkaparinga.  What are your key priorities for the next 12-24 months for Onkaparinga?
    We are focusing on developing a sustainable and vibrant community. I have put in a lot of time and effort working with business to ensure that opportunities exist for our city and our residents. We are launching an ON Business partner program in December which brings all of our sectors together for the greater good of the South.

    We have completed a comprehensive service review framework that shines a torch on council and asks the hard questions about whether what we do is aligned to our community's needs, are we the best people to be delivering the service,  if we are how well are we actually doing and are there ways we could improve what we do.

    Lastly we are looking for opportunities to consolidate our infrastructure, community centres and facilities and work towards creating vibrant hubs that deliver a range of services and really activate a community.

    As Onkaparinga is a growth council that still includes some rural and regional areas - what challenges has that presented and how have you managed them?
    Being such a large and diverse council does present different challenges. The North of our city is already significantly developed whilst the South continues to grow. The blend of metropolitan and rural challenges is also something that we work hard to manage. 

    Because of our size and demographics we are breaking the council down into 7 districts. Each part of our City has its own unique characteristics however underlying these there are many commonalities.

    When we look at council as a whole we need to be as efficient and effective as we can in our service delivery, economies of scale, considered and structured works programs.

    When we look at a district in its own right, what are its unique characteristics? What makes it special and how do we capture and enhance that?

    You are the new President of LG Professionals, SA.  Why were you keen to be a part of LG Professionals, SA and what are your plans for your term as President?
    I think LG Professionals, SA does a fantastic job of delivering programs for local government staff. The programs and conferences are targeted and meet the needs of the sector and are not just run for the sake of running a training session. LG Professionals, SA does a great job of engaging the sector at many different levels and is always looking for ways to provide better opportunities for administration. 

    I am looking forward to my time as President. I hope to bring a different point of view to the board. I am looking forward to working with Taryn and the team to look for new opportunities. It is important that when we consider how and what we can improve on as a sector we look not only within our industry for answers but to also engage outside of our industry for a different point of view.

    I believe there are great opportunities for better collaboration and recognition within the private sector.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    What a great question. I like to play golf if and when I can and also spend a bit of real time and not face time with the family and kids before they bugger off and leave home.

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