Meet Our Members

  • 24 Apr 2014 2:44 PM | Anonymous
    This month we speak with Jodie Rugless, Manager Information Services at the City of Charles Sturt.

    Jodie speaks about the massive changes occuring in IT Services, the emergence of new technologies - and how wearing two completely different shoes (from different pairs) can be a bad idea!

    Hi Jodie - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I work as the Information Services Manager at the City of Charles Sturt where I have full strategic and operational oversight of all IT services.

    There are 31 people in my team and I have a total annual budget of $7.9m.


    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    I was previously the Chief Information Officer at RDNS SA. Most of my working career has been in the community/not for profit sector as I am passionate about the IT profession.

    I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my efforts translate to community value and/or benefit. I am lucky in my current role at Charles Sturt as it provides me the opportunity to continue my community focused work while working in an organisation that is known for its innovation, use of technology, and commitment to the community.


    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    Local Government has the greatest opportunity of all government tiers to directly impact the community on a daily basis.

    Every day the work that I do translates to community benefit in a way that I can see and feel. It’s incredibly rewarding.

    Speaking about your current role – the way people interact with technology is changing rapidly.  How do you see technology shaping the way councils deal with their residents and provide services in the next 5-10  years?
    Technology will increasingly impact us at Charles Sturt and the services we provide. Every day there are new technologies released or enabled that have the opportunity to completely reengineer the services we provide.

    If we look at the world 10 years ago, Facebook didn’t exist and the whole concept of social media was quite foreign. Now, social media platforms are mainstream mechanisms of delivering information to our community. With this rapid shift in mind, it’s clear to see that it is almost impossible to predict how technology will shape our services.

    As a technologist, ensuring that processes exist to understand and embrace technologies as they emerge in a way that maximises the value for the organisation and the community is vital.

    From a council perspective - what are the driving forces of technology change – and how do you see them evolving?
    I think there are five main forces impacting technology change: Cloud, Mobility, Big Data, Social and the Internet of Things. Every one of these forces will impact our services at Charles Sturt.

    While cloud has been a topic of conversation for years, it is only now that it is becoming a true workable alternative as an internal infrastructure replacement. Mobility is everywhere and everyone.

    Employees and customers alike are already expecting to access services via mobile devices.

    Big Data will see improved decision making and earlier identification of potential issues and opportunities allowing for increased service efficiency and effectiveness.

    Social media will continue to shape the ways in which we interact with our staff and our community.

    By bringing all of these changes and new ways of thinking together we will eventually operate in an environment where any data is accessible on all things we manage at all times via any device in any location. The opportunities are endless!

    Personally - what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    I love my job and am passionate about what I do.

    I am lucky that my job satisfaction is really high, and I look forward to continuing to work at Charles Sturt into the future.

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
    So many to choose from! In about my 3rd week at Charles Sturt, I had a full day of meetings, mostly get to know meetings with other managers and my team members.

    About 2 hours into the day, I noticed that I was wearing two different shoes. Both were dark in colour but they were different styles with different heel heights. I managed to sneak through the day keeping my feet below desks and meeting tables as much as possible and as a result very few people noticed. However, one staff member who I had gotten to know well, later made an announcement regarding my footwear to the whole team.

    My shoes are regularly commented on now, not for how they look but for the fact that they are a matching pair!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    I spend time with my family including my two beautiful children.

    My husband and I have just purchased a ski boat so I suspect most of my leisure time from now on will be on the river skiing with the kids – I cannot wait!


  • 19 Mar 2014 12:29 PM | Anonymous
    This month we speak with Vincent Cammell, CEO of the Coorong District Council. 

    Vincent speaks about the differences found in moving from the City of Adelaide to a rural council, and also the how the role of rural councils is changing...

    Hi Vincent, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is as Chief Executive Officer of the Coorong District Council. The prime focus of my role is working with Elected Members to set the vision and strategy for the management of the district. I am also the focus for communication and engagement with our community which includes educating on why some things need to be done and what the long term benefit or outcome will be.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    I was previously the Corporate Manager Infrastructure with the City of Adelaide. Although this was a very good job my ambition has always been to be in a position to lead and set the vision for a Council. My current role gives me the opportunity to apply all of the positive learnings that I have achieved in twenty two years in local government and make a very direct difference to the local community.

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    I have always taken the approach that I am in local government because I want to make a difference at a community level. I enjoy getting out of the office and talking and engaging with a wide range of people and using this interaction to help shape future directions.

    One of my favourite topics for research and discussion is about corporate social responsibility and how this affects and drives traditional infrastructure delivery at a local level.

    Speaking about your current role – As a CEO in a rural council you have a wide range of responsibilities.   How do you think the CEO role, and the role of rural councils has changed over the last 5-10  years?
    In the case of the Coorong Council I would suggest that the Council has traditionally seen itself as a road authority. This began to change in a big way during the last drought period when Elected Members took on a more active role in cross government communication in attempting to gain both social support but also to raise awareness in relation to water management.

    I believe it was during this time period that attitudes changed to what Council existed for and it is as a result of this that I am able to more actively pursue social, cultural and economic development opportunities in the area. Council is also more accepting of the need to maintain an external profile and look at opportunities to participate with other levels of government to assist with long term positioning.

    What are the driving forces of that change – and how do you see them evolving?
    The key driving force has come from the need to achieve future sustainability of towns in the region. This is both from a social and financial perspective as towns look to reposition themselves to widen their appeal and look for other avenues to attract people and protect jobs.

    Change of this nature is one of a cultural nature where our community has in the past been able to look internally to sustain itself but is now challenged by external factors to maintain its internal integrity. Effectively the existing communities will need to become more open to external interest to remain viable.


    What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    Although having only been in my current position for a short time my personal goal is to remain in local government and progress (subject to having met my local goals) to a larger organisation.

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
    Well there was that one time when..... mmm having trouble coming up with something that should be shared!


    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    My leisure time is mostly focussed around my children and being actively involved in their lives. I coach two different soccer teams and during a large part of the year this keeps me busy and entertained away from work.

     

  • 24 Jan 2014 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Julie Short, Manager of Organisational Development at the City of Tea Tree Gully.  Julie speaks about her background and the upcoming challenges of the baby boomers leaving the workforce.

    Hi Julie, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am the Manager of Organisational Development and I have been at the City of Tea Tree Gully for four years.

    My role is very diverse, with responsibility for leading a team of 11 in the implementation of strategies to develop our culture and leadership capability, delivering human resources services and responsibility for our health and safety system.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    I was working as Manager Human Resources and Customer Service at the City of Unley. I was attracted to this role as it was an opportunity to work in a larger Council, the role was more diverse and it provided the opportunity to lead a much larger team.

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    The diversity of the work you do and the close connection with the local community.

    Speaking about your current role – what are the key trends in OD in 2014?  How do you think this will change in the future?
    We have an Organisational Development Strategy in place that maps out the key initiatives that we will deliver over the next three years to develop the organisation.

    This year we are focusing on developing our culture, improving the way we manage change and continuing our leadership development journey – focussing on team leaders.

    There will always be a focus on leadership and cultural development as these are critical for high performing organisations, but the requirement for robust workforce planning will increase as the baby boomers start reaching retirement age over the next 5 years.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    I am really enjoying my current role, but I would also like to gain experience working in a customer facing role. I am yet to decide whether to pursue a Director/General Manager role.

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
    Nothing specific comes to mind, but I am terrible with names. Sometimes with people I have known for some time!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    I love wining and dining, but I also attend the gym regularly and cycle – so hopefully they offset each other. I also have two teenage girls, so they keep me on my toes.


  • 23 Jan 2014 12:28 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Dustin Georgeson, Acting Team Leader Building and Compliance at the City of Onkaparinga.

    Dustin tells us about his background, some trends in Building and Compliance and how sometimes trying to do the right thing can get you squirted with a hose!


    Hi Dustin, thanks for speaking with us.


    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am currently Acting as the Team Leader Building & Compliance for our Development Services Department. It involves keeping up to date with legislative requirements to ensure our teams are well equipped to deal with any issues that arise. Development Compliance is a major part of my role where we aim to educate residents but also ensure community safety is achieved.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    I started out at Onkaparinga sweeping floors in our Field Operations Centre store, I have always looked to further my education and challenge myself in new ways. The challenges in a regulatory field seemed like a good idea at the time…

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    Interactions and helping people, with such a broad range of services and such diverse communities I love being involved in different projects and tasks. Giving people a positive experience when dealing with sensitive matters is very satisfying that helps put the City of Onkaparinga in a good position to be respected by the Community.

    Speaking about your current role – what are the key trends in building,  and compliance, in 2014?  How will this change in the future?
    With information readily available at everyone’s fingertips we are finding that residents are wanting to take on their own development projects. People are finding their own information and are trying to be better prepared throughout the assessment process.  In the future I predict a lot of dodgey building work! :)

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    I really enjoy working in Local Government and plan to keep it that way. I hope that my passion for leadership is recognised and I am given the role of CEO!  (ok maybe I will take a Management position instead.....)

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
    Trying to “educate” a member of our Community about electronic signage and getting an uninvited shower with a hose…..

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    With my beautiful wife Nikki and two incredible kids Kai and Eva, who are 5 and 2, this helps with staying in shape as I also play local amateur football.

  • 15 Dec 2013 11:31 AM | Anonymous
    This month we speak with Evelyn Pollard, Manager Human Resources and Service Centre at the City of West Torrens.

    Hi Evelyn - thanks for speaking with us.

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

    My current role is Manager Human Resources and Service Centre, where I am responsible for  customer service, human resources, work health and safety, injury management and public liability.


    Why did you decide to work in Local Government?

    Wow, given that was some 22  years ago it is probably more appropriate to talk about the diversity and opportunities that I have been given within local government which have contributed to why I have stayed within the industry. 

    I have experienced some unique and rewarding opportunities in my career to date.  When I reflect over the past three years in particular, there have been a number of fantastic career and development opportunities that I have taken up - some of which were quite risky for me at the time. 

    I am a believer of creating your own opportunities, taking a calculated risk and then reaping the benefits as a result.


    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?

    Local government has certainly seen some significant changes since I commenced. For me personally, the most satisfying aspects about working in local government is the ability to contribute to the ever changing landscape, helping to develop organisational capability and watching people grow as a result. 

    There are so many opportunities to be part of the business and to make a difference to those around you - both within the organisation, the industry and in the community - and I have been fortunate to experience all three.  

    I have also been fortunate also to work with, and be mentored by, some great people within local government.


    Speaking about your current role – There seems to be more focus on HR than ever before.  Do you think legislative change in recent years has made this function more challenging?   

    Yes there have certainly been some changes in the legislative arena in recent years which have kept us on our toes. . has it made the HR function for more challenging? 

    Perhaps with respect to the increasing levels of compliance, however change as a challenge, is less impacting as local government is constantly having to adapt, respond & innovate to meet community needs resulting in change being the way we do business. 

    Change is always happening around us, whether it be legislative, political, environment, financial or social.  It is how the organisation, and us as individuals, approach the change that is important. 

    Where HR is partnering strategically and innovatively across all areas of the organisation to meet these challenges, then the challenges appear small. 

    Having said that, I believe the biggest challenge for HR in the coming year(s) is to work strategically with senior management (and perhaps the industry) in addressing the future of enterprise agreements and future wage increases. 


    What would be your “top 5” pieces of advice to councils about recruitment and retention?

    Each council has its own unique environment and my view is that a one size fits all approach is not achievable.  My philosophy in terms of recruitment and retention is to:

    •    Engage with your CEO & senior managers to formulate a clear, concise & most importantly passionate belief around the importance of people to the business & commitment to stay fixed to this path
    •    Focus on the employment value proposition rather than recruitment and retention in isolation - you want people to talk about your employment value proposition.
    •    Align human resource management practices to the culture you are looking to achieve
    •    "Recruit hard and manage easy" - recruitment costs in time and money if you get it "wrong", ensure you take the time to select the right person for the position
    •    Ensure you have people in leadership positions that reflect the culture and direction of the organisation.  Leadership impacts on the culture which in turn impacts on the delivery of the organisational outcomes


    What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    Five years is a long time! 

    My immediate focus is on the next 18-24 months, where I will have implemented a number of key strategic initiatives to ensure the organisation has the people capability to deliver a high level of public value into our community.  

    As with my career to date, I see myself continuing to take risks and explore opportunities within local government where I am able to enhance my skills, knowledge and experience. 

    Looking forward to 5 years from now, I have set my personal goal as fulfilling a General Manager/Director role within local government.


    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?

    Oh I'm sure that there are some!   I will leave that up to others to share those stories.


    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?

    That would depend on my week!  It can range from laying on the sun lounge reading a good book with a glass of wine in hand, through to doing something which is adrenaline pumping. 

    I am known to seek out activities that are outside the "norm" that challenge me -  so yes the word "can't" is not in my vocabulary!


  • 23 Nov 2013 12:02 PM | Anonymous
    This month we speak with Simon Bradley, General Manager Infrastructure and Environment at the Rural City of Murray Bridge.

    Simon speaks about his role, his thoughts for the future of Murray Bridge, how Mayors are not usually referred to as "your Majesty" - and how it feels to get back into competitive Cricket after a 23 year break....

     
    Hi Simon, thanks for talking with us.


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

    I am part of the Executive Team at the Rural City of Murray Bridge (RCMB) as the General Manager Infrastructure & Environment. I am responsible for the Engineering & Assets; Operations; Contracts; and Environment portfolio’s.


    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?

    I have been in local government for nearly 19 years plus a couple of years in private practice, both in Sydney and Adelaide. I’ve been with the RCMB for a little over a year. Prior to that, I was at the City of Burnside for over 14 years in varying capacities.

    It was definitely time for a change after being at Burnside for so long.  I had a great time at Burnside which gave me many opportunities and developed me to where I am today. I was attracted to Murray Bridge because I was aware of the exciting ‘Imagine Your Rural City 2020’ program they had recently undertaken. Actually, in 2011 the RCMB was awarded the LGMA (SA) Leadership Excellence Award – Partnerships for Growth. This program is all about imaging, dreaming, visualising and realising the future of Murray Bridge and its surrounds.  


    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?

    I love the diversity of local government. The fact that on any one day I can be involved in a meeting discussing water allocations for the entire Murray Darling Basin and the next meeting you can be addressing the local Neighbourhood Watch Group about local traffic issues. I am encouraged by the quality of learning programs and career development options that allow local government employees to gain more skills and knowledge, move around an organisation, change jobs or fields, or undertake further study. I have taken advantage of these opportunities and encourage others to do so.  

    Speaking about your current role - How do you think Murray Bridge will change during the next 10 years?

    While many regional centres are seeing people moving away, the RCMB is undergoing significant transformation and is expected to double in size over the next 30 years.

    Council is currently embarking on a $14.7 million Stormwater Harvesting & Reuse Project which encompasses the Gifford Hill residential development, Murray Bridge race course sites, and the Murray Bridge township. The Scheme will collect stormwater from flood mitigation basins within Murray Bridge and transfer it to a site at Gifford Hill for treatment and storage, with future distribution to various locations within Murray Bridge for reuse.

    Council is also realising the vision of the Murray Bridge Town Centre Master Plan. Specifically, for Bridge Street the project aims to reinforce the connections between the river and the town centre. For Sixth Street, the project aims to reinforce the cultural hub of the town, with the Civic Buildings and the Art Gallery being a focus. The overall goal is to provide an exciting, liveable, viable and vibrant destination and centre, activated by people enjoying and using the places and spaces within the streets.


    How do you think Murray Bridge will manage the transition from a “country” town to a more urban role in the future?

    Council wants Murray Bridge and its surrounding districts to have a sense of place, history, vibrancy and become an increasingly attractive place for people to live, work, play, prosper and visit. 

    The regional advantages of the area include the availability of relatively low cost land and proximity to major road and rail services. Tourism to the Murray River is predicted to grow 40% over the next 10 years with the opportunity to increase to 68%.

    Gifford Hill is an 800 hectare greenfield site located in Murray Bridge which has been rezoned to accommodate residential, retail, recreation, community centres and public open space. Over 3,500 allotments are proposed as part of this development which is still in its initial stages and is a very exciting project to be involved in.

    What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    I would like to have expanded and/or changed the portfolios that I am responsible for. I have experience in the planning, engineering and environmental fields, I would like exposure in community services and corporate areas. I am currently thoroughly enjoying the experience of a regional Council and am unsure if or when I will return to a metropolitan Council.  

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?

    As many of you would be aware, a couple of years ago the City of Burnside was going through some tough times and was heavily scrutinised. It was a particularly tense Council meeting and I was being asked questions from the floor. As per protocol I intended to commence my response with “Through your Worship” however my mind was elsewhere and I answered with “Through your Majesty” (it was a female Mayor at the time). Before I had realised what I had said the members and gallery erupted in laughter. It was a very light hearted moment during a very intense time. However it was a mistake I hope to not make again. 

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?

    I have a passion for natural play. I am a landscape architect by profession and have been involved in the strategy and design of innovative playspaces for many years. Did you know that Australian children, an average, spend less time outdoors than the maximum security prisoners. This is scary statistics. There is a growing momentum in Australia to broaden the understanding of the traditional playground. A natural playspace is one that provides children with access to a range of opportunities that reflect the natural world. I spend a considerable amount of time promoting the benefits of natural play, especially exploring these spaces with my eight and five year old children.

     I’ve also attended every day of the Adelaide Test Match (except 2 due to a Wedding) since 1998. I love to watch any form of cricket. Last year I returned to playing cricket after 23 years in retirement. I thoroughly enjoy playing again although my body takes a considerable amount of time to recover

  • 24 Oct 2013 9:28 AM | Anonymous
    This month we speak with Victoria MacKirdy, General Manager Organisation and Culture at the Alexandrina Council. 

    Victoria tells us about her transition from an urban council, the evolution of organisational culture - and also how she manages work/life balance with 5 kids!

    Hi Victoria - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am currently the General Manager Organisation & Culture with the Alexandrina Council.  My portfolio includes organisational development, work health & Safety, risk management, insurance, governance, strategic planning, audit and arts and culture.  This diverse mix of responsibilities provides me with the opportunity to work right across the organisation, I love the variety within my role.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?

    Prior to coming to Alexandrina I was with the City of Unley as the Manager Governance & Strategic Project, I had also been in an acting role of General Manager Corporate Services for 12 months.  The opportunity to work with a rural Council, particularly one that is very dear to my heart having lived and owned property on the Fleurieu Peninsula for many years.  I can honestly say now that I love where I work and where I live.

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    Having spent over 20 years working in Local Government I have loved the diversification that is available to employees, there are so many opportunities to broaden your skills, I have worked in a number of different Councils, in a variety of roles, from Human Resources, Executive Research, Governance and Strategic Planning to name a few. With the addition of further studies and development opportunities I have been able to contribute to and deliver some significant projects for the benefit of the communities I have worked in.

    Speaking about your current role – There seems to be more focus on Organisation and Culture  than ever before.  How do you think the role, and importance of this function has changed over the last 5 years? 
    The word Culture means so many things – a healthy Culture within an organisation is so important.  I believe it is one of the most important ingredients for a successful leadership model.  At Alexandrina our mission is to “be involved” ensuring that we develop, recognise, listen and adapt to the changing needs of our people.  Supporting the different Cultures within the community is also just as important.  Culture now appears as the fourth pillar to our triple bottom line as a study of the impacts and benefits we can make to the social, economic, environmental  and cultural dimensions of our communities.    

    What are the driving forces of that change – and how do you see them evolving?
    There are some real challenges for Councils as they try to meet increasing community expectations.  We are engaging more and more with our communities so there has naturally been an increase in awareness of the support and services that are now on offer from local councils.  As organisations we are focusing on the health and wellbeing of our staff and recognising them as the most  valuable asset which needs to be maintained, developed, planned for and retained.  We are also recognising the role that arts and culture plays within our community, there is a focus on ageing friendly communities, ensuring that we retain the cultures of our older generations and nurture the new cultures of our younger generation.  There is no “one size fits all” when it come to communities.  

    What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    After having spent 5 years outside Local Government working in the private sector, I realised how much I enjoyed working in Local Government.  I have been a part of so much change and I have seen how much Local Government has grown as a sector.  I have made a commitment to complete my MBA and within the next 5 years look to secure a CEO role within South Australia.

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
    I can’t think of an embarrassing moment but I can remember many years ago when I had to tell my CEO that an Elected Member who was viewing a confidential file in records management had climbed out the window and run off with the file, I have witnessed some strange behaviour during my time in Local Government.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    Leisure – now that’s a funny word.  Given I have 5 children ranging in age from 1 to 14, and I work full time I don’t come across leisure very often – But I am very health conscious and I like to keep fit, so I train regularly on my bike, I enjoy the challenge of a triathlon once or twice a year.  My whole family is very active and sports orientated.  I am also a foodie at heart and I love cooking.

     



  • 23 Sep 2013 10:54 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Chris Parish, Community and Development Services Manager at Wakefield Regional Council.

    Hi Chris - thanks for speaking with us.Chris Parish - image thanks to the Plains Producer
     

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

    I am currently the Community & Development Services Manager.

    The role involves the areas of Building & Development, Environmental Management, General Inspectorate and Community Development.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?

    For the past 7 years I have worked in the private and not for profit sectors mainly in Training and Business Development, most recently with an Indigenous Training & Labour Hire National Company called National Indigenous Training & Hire.  As National Training Manager I was responsible for Business Development throughout South Australia and the Northern Territory as well as managing Compliance of their Registered Training Organisation.

    I was very fortunate in that just as this current opportunity presented itself - the role I was in was about to run its course.  I have always had a passion for working with and within community and this role along with my previous experience appeared to be a good fit for the ongoing professional development of the Wakefield Regional Council and myself.


    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?

    Being given the opportunity to assist with the ever changing landscape that is Local Government, helping to educate the  community at large understand and appreciate the work that is undertaken on their behalf and to assist the community to help shape their Council and Region.


    Speaking about your current role – What are some of the most interesting projects/programs you are currently involved in at Wakefield? 

    Wakefield Regional Council is a Council that welcomes a wide range of projects and developments to enhance its ever growing region.  These are just a few of the developments/projects we are currently working on. (yes we, as I need to recognise the work and effort my team put into all of our current projects).

    •        Expansion of  Primo Meats abattoir 
    •        Development Plan Amendment for the Bowmans In-Land Intermodal
    •        3 Residential Developments within Port Wakefield/Hamley Bridge
    •         Hamley Bridge Community & Sports Centre  Master Plan
    •         Review of Council Community Grants Program


    What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    Traditionally Regional Councils have been a great source of quality executive managers and CEO’s.

    Although I acknowledge I have only just started my journey into Local Government I am confident that given the wealth of knowledge and experience in Local Government that I am currently surrounded with, that it would be fair to say my journey from here is not only a promising one but one that will also be rewarding. Hopefully 5 years is the magic number.


    Are you known for any particular sayings?  What’s your most common “mantra”?  

    Given time spent working with remote communities and with some of the most marginalised Australians, the one mantra that springs to mind is “life’s good!” and that’s  because when you have seen how challenging and diverse it really is out there  - everyday worries pale into insignificance.

    Just a pity someone cashed in and made a motza out of selling fridges and TV’s on the back of my mantra.


    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?

    I have a very sport active 12 year old son, so if it’s not playing Soccer, Cricket or Bike riding we are usually at one of many great sporting events that South Australia is renowned for. Bring on Adelaide Oval I say! And go the -----   :)

     

  • 27 Aug 2013 6:28 PM | Anonymous
    This month we speak with the CEO of Renmark Paringa Council, Tony Siviour.  Tony tells us about his background, what he enjoys most about working for a country council and his ideas for the future.

    Hi Tony - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am currently the CEO of the Renmark Paringa Council and have been in this role for approximately two and a half years. 

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    I spent approximately 5 years on the Eyre Peninsula in my first CEO role before returning to the Riverland, with a short 10 month stint at Rural City of Murray Bridge. I am passionate about the Riverland and had always wanted to return to the community where I grew up in a decision making capacity.

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    Positive outcomes at a local level. That’s what I enjoy the most.
    We have an extremely well presented town which we pride ourselves on and to receive positive feedback on the presentation of the town gives me great satisfaction. I also enjoy the great diversity that comes with the job.

    Speaking about your current role - How do you think Renmark Paringa will change during the next 10 years?
    Our community needs to become less reliant on irrigated horticulture and diversify into other areas, be more efficient in our water use and explore opportunities for alternative varieties and markets.

    The leaders in the Riverland region took the opportunity to access the Riverland Sustainable Futures Fund which has seen innovative projects driving change.

    In terms of Local Government our Council will work to a greater level regionally, particularly in the area of strategic procurement.  We have already commenced on that journey.

    What will be the biggest influences on those changes?
    The biggest influence on change in the region will be the community's ability to
    embrace change. As I mentioned before the leaders in a particular sector are embracing change and accessing the funding available to do so.

    What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Definitely still in local government or a role linked with local government and community outcomes.

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
    Ha ha where do I start !! No it was in 1993 and I was a junior working at the Berri Council (pre amalgamation) I had taken the burial details on a Friday for a hand dug grave on Monday.

    The issue was that I forgot to pass the details on to the Works Supervisor. When the funeral director arrived an hour before the burial he couldn’t locate the hole. 4 depot guys with 4 shovels were deployed to madly dig the grave with the grave still being dug as the hearse was driving into the cemetery.

    The great thing about that moment was it was the first and last time I ever forgot to pass on burial details. 

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    Is there such a thing? No for some reason I have just bought a vineyard which is fantastic release from a day in the office.

    I love playing cricket too but the eyes are going now so this summer will probably be social tennis and taking my kids skiing and fishing, and maybe the odd quiet frothy.

     


  • 26 Jul 2013 3:15 PM | Anonymous
    This month we chat with Tony Lawson, well known consultant in the sector and former CEO of Mitcham.

    Tony give us his perspective of some of the challenges facing Local Government, and his current involvement.

    Hi Tony - What's your current role, and what does it involve?

    I have been running my own consultancy practice for the last 16 years building on my experience as a CEO in State and Local Government.

    I have had some really interesting and challenging assignments over my whole career and as a consultant. I consider that I have been really fortunate to have undertaken a really diverse range of exciting projects which brings me to my current role as Lead consultant and Executive Officer to the Local Excellence Expert Panel. This independent Panel was established by the LGA to develop a vision for a "Council of the Future". The Panel is chaired by former State Government Minister, Hon Greg Crafter with former District Court Judge, Christine Trenorden and the former Director of the Australian Centre for Excellence in Local Government, Professor Graham Sansom.

    I was appointed by the LGA in October 2012 to undertake this role and I have found it an absolute joy to work with the Panel and to engage with a huge array of key stakeholders across the government and industry spectrum, including many key people involved in Local Government. I worked with the Panel to produce a Discussion Paper – Towards the Council of the Future. This discussion paper is aimed at encouraging debate and discussion about the future of local government and the changes which are required to ensure that it has the capacity to remain relevant and sustainable into the future.

    I will be closely involved in the preparation of a final report to the LGA which is due in mid October.


    What's your Local Government background?  Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?

    As stated I was CEO at the City of Mitcham in the late 90’s and I was engaged by the council as a “change agent”. I presided over a major transformational change of the organisation and introduce a customer service focus for which we were recognised nationally. I also introduced a more rigorous approach to strategic and business planning and we became more involved in economic development and community engagement.

    When I established my consulting practice I was fortunate to be able to continue my role in Local Government and the LGA particularly used me to undertake a wide number of projects involving policy development and review. I think this is a particular strength of mine and this is what attracted me to the role with the Expert Panel.


    What are the some of the most significant changes you have seen in Local Government - and what does the future hold, in your opinion?

    A very significant change has been the professionalisation of Local Government at the staff level from CEO level and down. We have seen a significant change from the “town clerk” mode to professional corporate leadership and management. There is a greater focus on governance, accountability and community engagement.

    However, one of the challenges will be to address the capacity of elected members to manage the affairs of councils in an increasingly complex environment. The research that the Panel has undertaken suggests that financial pressures alone will stretch the capacity of councils to be able provide the required level of resources to meet the needs of their communities as both State and Federal governments struggle with burgeoning debts and constricting revenues.


    How would you compare a consulting role to working for a council? 
    What are the advantages, and maybe some of the disadvantages?


    A key advantage of working as a consultant is the exposure to a wide variety of organisations and issues. I am also fortunate to have a constant supply of really good projects and I have made very good friends in the Local Government and other sectors.

    Over the last few years I have expanded my focus into the health sector and as such I have been involved in some really challenging and interesting projects particularly in Indigenous health.

    As for disadvantages I must say I miss the daily interaction with staff and the other thing that keeps me alert as a consultant is the old adage is that you are only as good as your last job!


    What is the most satisfying thing about working for yourself?

    The variety of my work is its greatest attraction. In addition so long as I meet my deadlines I can work quite flexibly which an office environment does not always allow.


    What's the longer term plan - where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    In the medium to longer term I see myself continuing what I am doing but the focus may change a little. I have really got the bug for local government reform and want to focus more on this in all its facets.

    I also intend doing more work in the health sector including board appointments on a number of health related boards.

    In addition I believe in keeping my brain active to hopefully stave off Alzheimer’s! You never know I may end up doing a PhD!


    What's your most embarrassing Local Government moment?

    There is too many to recall! However there was one occasion when I gave an answer to a question to an elected member which involved some financial analysis which was clearly wrong but I gave the answer in such an authoritative manner that it wasn’t challenged but all my senior staff were falling around laughing their heads off! I was constantly reminded by them of this gaff!


    How do you spend your leisure time outside of work?

    I am a passionate Crows supporter and go to most home games. I am also an avid reader and read mostly crime – what I call ”gripping trash”. I have also discovered the game Words with Friends and play this constantly.

    We also have 6 children (a blended family) and 4 gorgeous grandchildren (with another on the way) so this keeps me really busy!

    Finally we have caravan and go away at every opportunity, including on local government assignments in the country.

Mailing Address:  5 Hauteville Tce EASTWOOD   Phone: 8291-7990   Fax: 8451-1568   E-mail: admin@lgprofessionalssa.org.au

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