This month we speak with Lorraine Vingerhoets, Development Officer, Building and Compliance, City of Burnside.
Lorraine tells us about how (and why) she found her way into Local Government and as a recent graduate of both the ELP and PLP, gives us her insight into both of those programs.
Hi Lorraine, thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
I am currently a Development Officer Building & Compliance within City Development and Safety at the City of Burnside.
My role involves the assessment of development applications requiring ‘building rules consent’ against legislative framework and inspections of all new building work. I am also the building compliance officer which means I am responsible for investigating breaches of the Act and Regulations and ensuring that any threats to safety e.g. swimming pools and unsafe structures, such as retaining walls.
Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
In the scheme of things I have only been in Local Government a short while - some 6.5 years - but before this is spent 13 years in State Government and what seems like a life time in private business. I won’t divulge how many years as it shows my age!
Along the way I have spent many years studying which has placed me in the position I hold today. I am most proud of achieving my general builder’s licence which enables me to supervise and construct dwelling up to three stories in height, in an industry that is very male dominated. I vividly remember being told by a former employer that ‘there is no place for a woman in the construction industry’ - so this empowered me to prove him wrong!
The attraction to Local Government came about by legislation. I had witnessed many construction sites that just did not meet standards and being passionate about the built environment, I believed I could play a more meaningful role working in Local Government.
What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
Firstly knowing the role I play within Local Government ensures the built environment is safer and free from construction defects. Secondly the job satisfaction I receive serving our community. I would also be interested in becoming an elected member for my local Council sometime in the future.
Speaking about your current role – What are the challenges for development in an established area like Burnside?
Speaking purely from a building perspective, one of the challenges Burnside, like many other metropolitan councils will face, is the ever increasing demand on infrastructure such as managing urban stormwater. I believe stormwater should be recognised as a valuable resource, rather than a nuisance to be disposed of quickly, especially in large urban areas. More emphasis should be placed on the design and implementation of stormwater harvesting systems such as rainwater tanks, grey water systems and effluent reuse.
You’ve just completed both the PLP and ELP – How well do you think these programs have prepared you for a leadership role?
I really enjoyed participating in both these programs and congratulate the LGMA for coordinating them. The two courses were very different from each other. The ELP focussed on the individual’s management style. In this program we all undertook a team management profile questionnaire. Mine indicated that my major role is a ‘concluder-producer’.
The PLP programme focused more on Local Government content. I found this to be extremely valuable especially for aspiring future leaders.
Do you think networking is a key part of these programs? How do you think the relationships you forged in the programs will assist you in the future?
The networking component was the most enjoyable for me personally. The ELP program particularly encouraged this; in fact we worked in groups to deliver our projects so you really got to know each other quiet well. Forming these relationships was a valuable tool for both my personal and professional development.
Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Interesting question! I see myself still working in Local Government and I hope that I find a position as Manager of Development Services or any other portfolio at a regional council, maybe Port Lincoln as this is one of my favourite places. Fortunately my husband is a tradesman so his job will follow us and my two boys are now adults settled in their own lives.
Do you have an embarrassing “Local Government moment?”
Not that I can recall! However my role play ‘acting’ as a school principal in our ELP
short movie was pretty embarrassing! It’s fair to say I’m not a good actor - as was shown at the 2013 conference.
How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
Outside work I enjoy spending quality time with family and friends. We are very close and see each other often, most weekends see some kind of get together and bbq. I am not a very sporty person but I like any fast adrenaline kinds of activities such as bungy jumping and horse riding. My husband rides a ‘Fat Boy’ Harley Davidson and I have my learners, so I too will enjoy riding a Harley very soon.