This month we chatted to Pam Jackson, General Manager, Strategy and Business Services at City of Holdfast Bay about her role and council's recent win at the Federation Awards.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I am the General Manager, Strategy and Business Services, at the City of Holdfast Bay. I am responsible for a broad portfolio of functions including: Strategy, Governance and Risk, People and Culture, Information Technology, Finance and Risk.
Congratulations on your recent win at the Federation Awards and our Leadership Excellence Awards earlier this year. Can you tell us a bit about the project?
The awards were won for the partnership the City of Holdfast Bay has developed with the Kaurna Nation. The City has a rich heritage of both indigenous and European history. A key vision for our Council is to preserve and celebrate our indigenous history, and to be a leader in aboriginal reconciliation. A key challenge in reconciliation, and in promoting a greater understanding of indigenous culture, is giving Traditional Owners the opportunity to “tell their truth” and celebrate their culture. In order to achieve this the City of Holdfast Bay and Kaurna partnered to deliver two key initiatives. The first was the repatriation of ancestral remains in Tulukutangga/Kingston Park in August 2019. This was the first time a repatriation had occurred on council land in South Australia. The second was the truth telling exhibition “Tiati Wangakanthi Kumangka (Truth Telling Together)”. The first of its kind in South Australia, the exhibition details the colonisation of South Australia from an indigenous perspective. The significance of this exhibition was recognised by winning the 2020 Museum and Galleries Overall National Award.
What does it mean to you, your council, and your community to be recognised for this partnership?
To be recognised for this partnership is an honour. It provides a platform to bring awareness to the truth of the Kaurna people in their own voice. It recognises the injustices the Kaurna people have suffered and it celebrates the importance of Kaurna culture to the history of the City of Holdfast Bay and South Australia.
The award also demonstrates the important role the local government sector can play in social issues previously deemed to be the responsibility of Federal or State governments. Local governments are the closest tier of government to our communities and are in the unique position of being able to see the social change that can be achieved through their leadership.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of nominating for the 20th Annual Leadership Excellence Awards?
I would strongly encourage that person to apply. Shining a light on the work the local government sector does, and the impact these achievements have on communities, is so important. It shows the true value of the sector. On a personal level, while not everyone can win, the process of developing your application makes you reflect on what you have been able to achieve and how that has positively impacted the people within your city. These successes should be acknowledged and celebrated.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any projects you’d like to share with us?
I am currently working alongside Kaurna to revitalise, protect and enhance Tulukutangga and the sacred Tjilbruke Spring. The spring site is part of the extensive Tjilbruke Dreaming Story and a place of reflection and mourning for the Kaurna people. For thousands of years the permanent freshwater spring has bubbled away in the reserve and on the beach, once forming a freshwater coastal lagoon. The Tjilbruke Spring has been neglected for decades and currently flows through a pipe to the coast. The project is seeking to return the spring to flow as it has historically, and to rejuvenate the native vegetation surrounding the spring.
What do you enjoy doing outside of local government?
I enjoy painting, reading and decorating my house.