This month we speak with Vesna Haracic, Manager Community Health and Wellbeing at the City of Salisbury.
Having just been appointed to this role, Vesna speaks about her plans for the next 12 months and also provides some insightful advice about job-sharing.
Hi Vesna, thanks for speaking with us.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
My current role is Manager of the Community Health and Wellbeing Division. It is a job share arrangement until mid-June 2016, after which it will be a full time role.
I work with a great team of staff to provide services to our ageing residents (funded under the Commonwealth Home Support Program), people with disability and multicultural communities.
My division is also responsible for the implementation of the Regional Health Plan, Beyond the Ramp Access and Inclusion Plan and several programs targeted for people with a disability.
In addition I ,have responsibility for the HR function of volunteers involved across Council.
How long have you been at Salisbury and where were you before? (What is your work background/career path so far)
I started working for the City of Salisbury back in 2004, and since then have been working in many different roles.
I have always worked within community service areas where I had the opportunity to plan, organise, manage and administer different projects and services. My work for the City of Salisbury has involved program, staff and volunteer management, development of appropriate approaches to cultural services, responsibility for funding applications, individual funding contracts and budget monitoring.
Before coming to Salisbury I had worked mainly with multicultural communities in regards to the development of the Multicultural Action Plan, marketing and promotion.
What attracted you to local government and your current role?
Over the years I have really enjoyed working for the council, where I have had the opportunity to grow professionally and personally, and to be involved in many different projects. It was always more than just a job - it was also an opportunity to build a career and learn about the many different structures and operational areas of local government.
When the position of Manager became available I decided to apply and take on new challenges and responsibilities for the implementation of Community Health and Wellbeing strategic directions.
What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
I was always attracted to local government work as it closely affects the daily lives of citizens and has an important part in community decision making. The work of local government is varied, but it touches upon almost all areas of our day to day life as citizens.
The opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives by ensuring that all residents gain access to services, as well as having the opportunity to live well as active citizens and contribute to the community is what drives me and keeps me motivated.
Speaking about your new role, Manager Community Health and Wellbeing – what are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?
The Australian Government's Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme will have a considerable impact on the way aged and disability services are funded, managed and delivered in South Australia.
My main focus over the next 12 months and beyond will be to ensure that local government continues to play a role in assisting our residents to have the support to live independently, as well as remain connected in their local community.
We understand that you are also job sharing at the moment - can you tell us what you feel are the benefits of this arrangement?
For me personally, it is a great opportunity to work in the job sharing arrangement with the current manager while she is transitioning to retirement. I have the opportunity to gain a very good understanding of the requirements of the position, learn on the job and have someone to discuss my ideas with.
The job sharing arrangement is also a great tool for knowledge retention and it is a transfer strategy which ensures that knowledge is retained and transferred in the organization.
As two different individuals we bring different sets of skills and perspectives, although we share our enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to success.
Personally, what’s the long term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The last couple of years have been very challenging in an ever changing environment for the community aged and disability services. We have many opportunities facing us in the next couple of years. I am sure it will be an exciting time to come.
I will continue to make a contribution in ensuring that local government continues to play a role in assisting our residents to have the support to live independently and remain connected in their local community for as long as possible. I would also like to get involved in any relevant broader council’s projects to deepen my knowledge and understanding of the local government sector.
Can you share with us an embarrassing 'local government moment'?
I’ve learned lots about other cultures through my job. One time we had organized a community consultation with the seniors from the Bhutanese community, where we provided some light refreshments after the consultation.
To our surprise, when we invited them to have something to eat with us, no one joined. It turned out they were all vegetarians and the food that we ordered was Indian with meat. The most interesting thing was that we checked with the community leaders if it was ok to serve that type of food and they approved it, because it was considered very impolite in their culture to openly disagree.
How do you spend your pleasure time outside of local government?
My two daughters (Ella, 16 and Laura, 19) and my husband keep me very busy with all of their plans for the weekends.
I like spending time with my family and friends and going out for a meal or a coffee. I also like shopping, watching movies and relaxing.