Meet Our Members

  • 13 Jun 2014 2:52 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Sarah Cleggett, Social Planner at Adelaide City Council.  Sarah speaks about the challenges for Adelaide, the impact of Climate Change and the Vibrant City agenda.

    Hi Sarah, thanks for speaking with us.  

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

    I am Social Planner at Adelaide City Council. Social Planning is about promoting social development in communities and responding to social issues and needs.

    At ACC, I coordinate activities related to pursuing the outcomes of Council’s Access and Inclusion Strategy which includes facilitating the Access and Inclusion Advisory Panel and working with key projects across Council to reduce barriers to participation for people with disability.

    I also undertake research and community and stakeholder engagement to ensure Council is aware of trends and State and Federal policy directions related to vulnerable groups such as homelessness and ageing.

    I provide advice related to large development applications and development policy for the city.

    Currently, I am supporting the development of a new Council run community space within Council’s new mixed use development the Ergo Apartments. 

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

    I started my Local Government career at the City of Charles Sturt in community development and projects.

    Previously I worked as a Social Worker in the not for profit sector and mental health sector. I had aspired to a Social Planning position since I graduated and when the position came up at Adelaide, I thought I would throw my hat in the ring.

    The city had been earmarked for major infill development and offered the opportunity to work on projects that would have a greater impact to people who live, work and visit the city being a Capital City.

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

    At the Local Government level you get to see a more immediate impact of the work you do and get to work more closely with the community.

    Having been a Social Worker, I got a good sense of the importance that local neighbourhoods have on people’s wellbeing through access to good transport links, shops, community centres and libraries and social support whether that be neighbours and friends or more formal support like doctors and other service providers.

    Working at the Local Government level I get to be involved in urban and community planning that can lead to a good basis for supportive local neighbourhoods.

    Speaking about your current role - What are the most critical social and inclusion challenges that come with Adelaide's residential growth?

    Personally I think a key challenge is making sure that everyone is included in the journey Adelaide is taking regarding the vibrant city agenda.

    I believe we need to take an active role in ensuring that marginalised and vulnerable people are warmly invited, welcomed, supported and acknowledged as contributors to the fabric of city life.

    As part of that approach Government needsto ensure that a variety of people can afford to live in the city and have access to meaningful activities whether that is paid work, volunteering or participation in projects and programs. 

    How do you bring the community along in the journey?

    Most people are happy to go about their lives and have some confidence that things at a Local Government level will tick along in the background.

    For many people, the only contact they have with Local Government is when something goes wrong or they need support.

    I think it’s important for Council to design their services and do business in a way that makes information and communication relevant and accessible.

    I think it’s our job to break down the big issues into bite size pieces and provide people the opportunity to do business, get involved and contribute in a way that suits them which could be online, it could be at their local café, it could be through a gathering at the local pub.

    Increasingly the opportunity to work alongside people is part of our approach, rather than just provide a service.

    It’s important organisations create the room for staff to work collaboratively with the community and build trust over time.

    What do you think will be the biggest influences on the lifestyle of city dwellers in the near future, and does Council have a role to play in assisting this?

    Climate change will have a real impact on people living, working and visiting the city in future years.

    The urban heat island effect is something Council will need to actively plan for and respond to in many different ways including street greening, support for vulnerable communities such as the homeless and elderly and everyday considerations like pedestrian and traffic management.

    Adelaide City Council has begun this work and is being proactive in planning for climate change.

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

    Social planning is a varied discipline and there are many things to get involved with especially given Adelaide’s role as a Capital City.

    Therefore I anticipate that I will still be learning and getting challenged by my role as Social Planner.

    I could be interested in project role opportunities if they gave me the opportunity to increase my understanding of different parts of the business in order to influence more people focussed planning.

    Do you have an embarrassing "Local Government moment?"

    I think security alarms going off in the middle of a community cinema event at the Woodville Town Hall,and losing power in the middle of an outdoor cinema event in Athol Park were both quite awkward moments but pretty standard in the life of a community development worker.

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

    At the moment, I’m planning a wedding so it feels like most of my spare time is spent booking things. Otherwise I like to spend time with family and friends, do yoga and look after the garden.

  • 21 May 2014 5:43 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Mark McShane, CEO of the City of Mt Gambier.

    Mark tells us about how he sees Mt Gambier changing in the future, the challenges that lie ahead, and also reveals a particularly awkward "embarrassing moment"!

    Hi Mark - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    Currently CEO City of Mount Gambier. While South Australia’s largest regional City (26,000 people) the Council is reasonably small with approximately 130 staff and 11 Councillors.

    The City is a “hole in the donut” council surrounded by the District Council of Grant, so geographically it is quite small.

    Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
    I was the Director of Corporate Services at the Port Adelaide Enfield Council and prior to that several human resources consulting roles in Sydney and overseas.

    I previously worked in the south east in Kimberly Clark and knew the area well hence was attracted both to the opportunity of the role of CEO in local government and the location.

    What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
    Our city is reasonably small and the council has strong connectivity into many facets of the community and our efforts are very visible for example supporting major and minor events, community facilities and maintaining an exceptional level of public amenity through our  parks and gardens a sports facilities.

    Speaking about your current role - How do you think Mt Gambier will change during the next 10 years?
    Like most regional centres particularly in South Australia we have a significant number of challenges both in the provision of community services, health and specialist medical facilities as well as maintaining economic prosperity.

    Councils are becoming increasing important in delivering direct services to the community, we are either at the top or the bottom of the food chain – depending on your view!  Funding and reaching the diverse range of people and needs in the City will be a challenge.

    The City is very attractive with an affordable and excellent lifestyle (one traffic light to work in 3 minutes!) and I think over the next ten to twenty years it will be a preferred location for families seeking an alternative to large city living and for retirement migration.

    What will be the biggest influences on those changes?
    The City has to forge its own future and we are in the process of developing futures papers to chart our own direction.

    While we may get some support from the State, perhaps a bit more now given the focus on regional development since the last state election, Council really needs to be the driving force in partnership with other stakeholders.

    The growth in the regional economy with a focus on premium food and wine from a clean environment is a major selling point to the global market especially to China

    As a result of these changes and influences - what will be the major challenges for Mt Gambier?
    Ensuring all of our community are able to enjoy the benefits of living in the City. While many people outside of Mount Gambier consider it a prosperous place and in some cases it is, we have large pockets of disadvantage and a range of problems that you find in any city.

    Maintaining the enviable lifestyle while the city grows will be a challenge. Capacity to finance the many demands from the community is and will be a major challenge

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    I have been in this role for two and a half years so in five years time I see myself still in the position. There is never a shortage of challenges in the role and faced by the city.

    What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
    My appointment to this position was announced by the Mayor of Mount Gambier and picked up by the local media before I had a chance to formally notify my previous CEO and my staff.

    My previous council's media monitoring system, managed by records management, picked up the “local government” news that featured my new appointment leading to some fancy footwork being needed to “kill” the news to allow time for proper announcements to my staff.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
    This region is blessed with a spectacular coastline, mostly deserted; excellent wineries and many natural features all within half an hours drive.

    My back gate opens to the Blue Lake and I never tire of walking the 4 kms around it.

    We are also four and a half hours from Melbourne and Adelaide so it’s not far for a break. I would like more time but as the readers will know juggling a hectic work environment, home and leisure is a balancing act.

  • 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 -----   :)


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