• 26 Sep 2011 9:41 AM | Anonymous
    This month, we interview Peter Bice, Business Excellence Partner at the City of Marion.

    Hi Peter, please tell us a bit about yourself.

    What’s your current role?
    Business Excellence Partner at the City of Marion

    How did you get into that role?
    I saw the job and thought  "Wow! That looks like a great way to make a meaningful difference across an entire organisation and to a community; which uses a broad range of skills, tools and approaches to improve the way things are done".

    What do you like best about the current job?
    Working with staff from diverse work areas and levels in the Council, as well as networking with other professionals to learn from and share leading practice approaches, systems and processes. The systemic and systematic focus required. I also enjoy the opportunity I am afforded through my role as a Evaluation Team Leader in the annual Business Excellence Awards process, which enable me to see and learn from high performing organisations from different industries and enhance my understanding of where LG is able to improve and lead the way.
    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
    The Business Excellence Framework is essentially a Leadership and Management framework to help organisations be the best they can be, and continue to improve and raise the bar.

    Studies in Management, Training, Organisational Development and Business Excellence will strengthen a potential applicants chances in a role such as this, as will personal alignment with principles of Leadership, People and Systems Thinking. Additionally, strong communication, inter-personal skills and group facilitation are critical elements of success in a role such as this, so I would encourage people to take every opportunity to develop these should they be interested.
    What’s next for you?
    I have learnt an enormous amount in my time with City of Marion, and am continually looking to apply my learning to new projects and situations in my current role; with a view to taking on a more senior         role within Local Government in the near future.

    Why did you become a member of LGMA (SA)?
    I felt it a good opportunity to network with fellow professionals across Local Government in South Australia.

    Please describe a typical day for us…
    I suppose there is really no 'typical' day in this role as such - which is one of the reasons I love it! However common themes certainly arise, namely:

                    - Partnering with and training managers and staff around use of improvement tools/techniques and areas for business improvement (PDSA, Lean Six Sigma, Systems Thinking, Root Cause etc)
                     - Developing strategies/approaches with Senior Management group
                    - Getting out in the field and mix it up with staff of all backgrounds and experience levels (a highlight for me), including mapping end-to-end processes
                    - Representing Marion at the Local Government Business Excellence Network (LGBEN - www.lgben.net.au), and the South Australian chapter (SA LGBEN)
                    - Assessing organisational capability and capacity to deliver across broad service areas

  • 29 Aug 2011 3:07 PM | Anonymous

    This month, we profile Tracey Johnstone from the City of Campbelltown.

    Tracey - thanks for talking with us.

    What is your current role?

    I am Manager Customer & Community Services at the City of Campbelltown

    How did you get into that role?

    I have worked in community services for over 10 years in a number of roles including community development, volunteer management, community engagement, training, research and social policy.  This was my first appointment in a Manager role within community services and I was excited to return to local government after an 18 month break. 

    What do you like best about your current job?

    I really enjoy the local government environment and the diversity of projects we get to be involved in and the partnerships we form to work with the community.  Customer Service has been one of the biggest challenges, but I have thoroughly enjoyed learning this whole new area of a Council.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?

    The advice I would give is to get out and try a range of different areas and experiences in community services, it is such a diverse sector that you need to find something you are passionate about (or as someone once told me 'find something that blows your skirt up!').  Once you have found your passion - keep reading, learning and talking to other people. 

    What’s next for you?

    I hope to stay at Campbelltown for a minimum of five years, perhaps more as community services is always changing and developing and after working in State, Private and Not for profit environments I can easily say that local government inspires me the most. 

    Why did you join LGMA?

    I joined the LGMA (SA) as a professional development networking opportunity.  As a new manager I saw the level of experience of the people involved and saw it as a great way to keep learning and build my own knowledge and skills.

    Describe a typical day for us…

    A typical day is that there will be an underlying chaos that the team thrives in.  There is the typical work we do: phones, projects, meetings, responding to queries, but then there is the atypical part which is why we all choose to work in customer and community services in the first place - the day that challenges us, delights us and amuses us all at the same time means we have had a very good day.  

  • 21 Jul 2011 2:35 PM | Deleted user

    What is your Professional Background?

    After working as an IT Consultant for ten years I took up a position as the Manager Information Communication Technology at The Barossa Council in 2008.

    What Council are you working at, and how long have you been there? 

    The Barossa Council for 3 years.

    Why did you decide to work for a country council?

    The Barossa has the best of both worlds; whilst it is located in a beautiful regional location it is still close enough to have easy access to the city.  From an IT perspective regional councils present a range of challenges not always found in metro locations.  For example in the Barossa we have Library and Council services spread across five locations – along with a Visitor Information Centre and a Regional Gallery, all of which are located up to 70kms from the main ICT centre.

    What are the key differences between a country council and metro? 

    On a community level, regional Councils have a more familiar customer base.  Often in metro areas residents use the services of a range of Councils throughout

    Adelaide– potentially working in one municipality but living in another and possibly using the services of another on weekends or in their social time.  In regional areas the residents tend to use the same locations and services repeatedly, providing us with an opportunity to form stronger networks and relationships with the community. 

    What do you like most about your role?

    As an IT professional, local government is fantastic.  There are always new challenges to overcome and opportunities to look at a range of different models to suit various council services.  With such a diverse range of industries all housed in the same building you have an opportunity to try different things that help make Council Services run smoothly – Engineers, Customer Service Officers, Librarians, Planners, Accountants they all have different needs when it comes to IT.

    How would you describe working for a country council as a career development step? 

    I haven’t really thought about that in my current role.  Because we are so close to

    Adelaideit doesn’t seem to make a huge amount of difference.  I guess there are different demands in regional locations in relation to IT with distance and remoteness an issue for some of our branches – and that provides you with a different management perspective.

    What other involvement do you have in Local Government?

    At the moment I am currently participating in the LGMA Emerging Leaders Program, which I am really enjoying – it is a great opportunity to get a broader perspective of Local Government as well as network and establish relationships.  I also am an actively involved with both the Local Government IT as well as Record Management groups. I also consult with a range of other Councils through the Libraries network – particularly with their specialist IT needs.  The Barossa Council is part of the LINK Network which is a consortium of five local governments who developed a system for their libraries to work together, sharing resources and information.

    Why are you a member of the LGMA SA?

    Organisations like the LGMA are great because they provide you with a range of opportunities in relation to networking, training and the dissemination of information.  There are lots of managers out there working in Local Government – the LGMA is a conduit which ensures you can stay informed and hear more about what other Councils are up to – the challenges and the solutions!

  • 20 Jul 2011 10:44 AM | Anonymous

    All organisations have a brand that they need to manage. 

    A brand is closely associated with the reputation of the organisation and its products and services.

    Here’s an example:

    The Apple Brand Personality

    Apple has a branding strategy that focuses on the emotions. The Apple brand personality is about lifestyle; imagination; liberty regained; innovation; passion; hopes, dreams and aspirations; and power-to-the-people through technology. The Apple brand personality is also about simplicity and the removal of complexity from people's lives; people-driven product design; and about being a really humanistic company with a heartfelt connection with its customers.

    Council brands

    Similarly, every council has a brand, with associated brand attributes or “brand personality”.  Some attributes are intentional, some are probably not.  But they are there.  For example, some councils would be regarded by their community as innovative, cost effective, flexible, contemporary and customer-focused.   Others may be seen as stodgy, slow moving, bureaucratic.  Or any points in between.

    Likewise – cities have brands too – and sometimes councils get confused and try to adopt the brand attributes of their city. Certainly, a council can adopt values that support the brand attributes of the place – but let’s talk about that another day.

    Confusing council and city branding is commonplace, so just remember - councils are service providers, policy makers, custodians of public assets - but they are not places.

    So, concentrating on the council brand - a brand is not just your logo and image style, it’s distilled from your vision, your strategic directions, your public profile, your reputation, and most importantly, how your staff and elected members behave.

    What do you want your brand to be?  Have you thought about it?

    Like beauty, a brand is in the eye of the beholder.  So, no matter if you think your council is innovative, customer focused and brilliantly executing the management of your ratepayer funds, if the ratepayers don’t recognise it – your brand won’t actually be what you think.

    It’s important to not only think about what is a desirable brand – but also to then measure it, as you would any other KPI or council objective.

    You can establish where your brand attributes sit on a continuum – and then , with research, measure how that attribute is actually perceived by your community.

    You can then plot your brand measurements on a spider chart like this:


    Blue line is the desired brand perception

    Red line is the actual brand perception


    Identifying gaps

    If your brand perception doesn’t match your desired perception – (as in the example above) then either your council is not “living” the brand (i.e. something about your services or behaviour is not consistent) or there is a communication issue (you may be doing all the right things, but no-one knows about it….)

    Major corporations constantly measure their brand perception to keep their brand on track – you should too.  A strong, consistent brand is good for customer (and ratepayer) satisfaction and is also great for staff morale too.

    A guest blog post by Jim Myhill, XLR8 Marketing and Communications
  • 18 Jul 2011 4:09 PM | Anonymous
    This month, we profile Mark Goldstone from the City of Prospect.

    Mark - thanks for talking with us. 

    What is your current role?

    Chief Executive Officer - City of Prospect

    How did you get into that role?
    I grew up in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide, however my career in local government started in rural Tasmania, where I was appointed as a Junior Environmental Health Officer with the Wynyard Council. I then progressed through to management positions at the King Island and Circular Head Councils in Tasmania. During my time at those councils, I gained an appreciation and exposure to the role of CEO and when an opportunity arose I applied for and was appointed to the role as CEO at the Circular Head Council. Following a number of years at Circular Head I moved to South Australia with the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council where I worked for 6 years before moving to my first metropolitan council, the City of Prospect.

    What do you like best about your current job?
    Having the ability to lead a high performing council and achieve tangible results that have a positive impact on the local community is something I gain a lot of satisfaction from. I enjoy the ability to implement positive reform and encourage the absolute best from my directors and staff. Seeing my staff progress toward their career aspirations and contributing in some way to their path forward in a supportive way is something that I enjoy immensely.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role? Go for it! Being a CEO is a very demanding job, however given the right circumstances and support from those around you, exciting outcomes can be achieved which are guaranteed to deliver a great deal of job satisfaction.

    What’s next for you?
    I would like to constructively influence the local government sector through regional cooperation (such as the Eastern Region Alliance) and through developing partnerships with key agencies (such as the LGA, State and Federal Government).

    Why did you join LGMA?
     The LGMA provided me with an excellent vehicle to expand my knowledge and networking capacity. The LGMA has enabled me to develop my leadership skills and has been influential in my professional development. I recall entering the LGMA Challenge when I first had an aspiration to become a manager and the skills I acquired through that exercise have served me well ever since.    

    Describe a typical day for us…
    5.00 am start at the gym, followed by trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to get my teenage kids out of bed and organised for school. Mornings tend to be the best time for me to catch up on emails and to take time to plan for key activities. As with most CEO's much of the day is spent in meetings both at the operational and political level. I often then attend an evening meeting (which when you are a CEO occur frequently).

  • 24 Jun 2011 9:36 PM | Anonymous

    Bree Hislop is the Governance Officer for the City of West Torrens.  She is also part of 2011's LGMA (SA) Emerging Leaders Program.

    Bree tells us a bit about her role in Local Government in this month's member profile:

    Hi Bree - thanks for being part of LGMA's newsletter this month.

    What’s your current role?

    I'm currently a Governance Officer at the City of West Torrens.

    How did you get into that role?

    I was able to trial life as a Governance Officer through a secondment position in 2008. I quickly recognised that the principles of accountability, transparency and continuous improvement closely reflected my own philosophies.

    What do you like best about the current job?

    There is ALWAYS something new to learn and, I must admit, it becomes slightly addictive.  A lot of our work is project based and it is very satisfying to see a new practice evolve to form part of an overall proactive governance program.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?

    I like to think of good governance principles and practices as a road map. Often we have an idea of where we would like to go and how to get there. The road map shows us where we are and where we should be - highlighting the obstacles and giving us options for the way forward. At some point, we all need to stop and ask for directions.

    What’s next for you?

    I'm thrilled to be participating in the LGMA Emerging Leaders Program this year.  I have enjoyed meeting other enthusiastic Local Government employees and draw a lot of motivation from working as part of a team.

    There are many opportunities at the City of West Torrens to explore and I have raised my hand to participate in new challenges to broaden my skill set.  I'm working towards a Masters in Business Information Management through UniSA which I am able to apply to my current roll on a day to day basis.

    I am hopeful for a long future in Local Government. If by chance I win the lottery, I may need to rethink this plan.

    Why did you become a member of LGMA (SA)?

    I became a member though the Emerging Leaders Program. I have been impressed with the commitment and dedication of existing LGMA members who have shown great support for the 2011 Emerging Leaders, offering their time, experiences and advice generously.

    Please describe a typical day for us…

    Luckily, there is no such thing as a typical day in Governance. Writing reports for Council, preparing for the appointment of new Authorised Officers, researching for a Freedom of Information application, providing training on the exercise of delegated powers and offering advice to employees are all common activities. Only one thing is certain - there is always a policy, patiently waiting to be reviewed.


  • 24 Jun 2011 8:45 AM | Anonymous

    Three local government CEOs from South Australia raised more than $5000 for homeless people by making Adelaide Zoo their home for the night on 16 June.L-R CEO's Andrew Johnson (Port Pirie), Peter Smith (Adelaide), Mark Searle (Marion)

    The trio swapped their doonas and electric blankets for park benches and cardboard to support St Vinnies’ national CEO Sleepout which raises funds and awareness for the homeless.

    Peter Smith (Adelaide City Council), Andrew Johnson (Port Pirie Regional Council), and Mark Searle (Marion Council) joined more than 80 other CEOs from South Australia on a damp cold night among the zoo’s more permanent inhabitants.

    “There are more than 1000 homeless people in South Australia, most of who have been driven onto the streets by family breakdown, unemployment, drugs, alcohol and domestic violence,” Mr Smith said.

    “It was a privilege to raise money for these people through a sponsored sleepout and also to listen to some of their stories on the night.

    “Councils are in the business of caring for communities and it’s important that we all recognise the need to support other people and remember that breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness isn’t easy.”

    Presenter Theodora told a harrowing story of sexual abuse which forced her to leave home to live on Adelaide’s streets at 14.

    Now married and working as a swimming instructor, she has beaten drug dependency and broken the poverty cycle where she was unable to access benefits because she was homeless, all thanks to the intervention of St Vinnies.

    For Andrew Johnson, the experience of sleeping rough, if only for one night, brought home some of the day-to-day realities of living on the streets.

    “Nobody is going to sleep well on a bit of cardboard or a bench,” Mr Johnson said.

    “Add to that a poor diet, cold, the need to change clothes and keep clean, and everyday living becomes very tough."

    Australia has more than 100,000 homeless people, 30 per cent of which are children.

    This is only the second year the campaign has been run nationally and participant numbers increased by 300 to almost 1000.

    This increasing engagement from organisational leaders is a step towards helping people get off the street, Mr Searle said.

    “The more people become aware of the issue of homelessness and act to prevent it, the better for society as a whole,” Mr Searle said.

    “Marion, like many other councils, contributes to preventing homelessness through youth support services.

    “The sleepout was an important reminder that we must do whatever we can to help those who have to make the street their home.”

    Donations can still be made at www.ceosleepout.org.au


  • 22 Jun 2011 9:13 PM | Anonymous

    Building and maintaining our workforce

    the right people in the right places with the right skills doing the right jobs

    Written by: Sarah Poppy, Marketing and Communications Officer, City of Salisbury

    Photo: Skye Browne, Senior Coordinator Organisational Wellbeing and Sarah Poppy, Marketing and Communications Officer from City of Salisbury

    One of the key challenges facing Local Government now and in the future is the need to challenge, engage and retain critical staff.

    This was the central question of this year’s LGMA Management Challenge Pre-Challenge Task.

    In order to tackle this task the City of Salisbury’s team Future Proofed undertook significant local, national and international research into workforce planning and retention trends. This research was supplemented with a series of in house interviews, staff surveys and a review of council statistics to understand the specific challenges faced by the City of Salisbury.

    The national organisers of the LGMA Challenge chose four teams to present their pre-challenge task at the national LGMA Congress in Cairns in May. Our pre-challenge task was chosen as one of the top four submissions nationally. My colleague Skye Browne and I were the lucky two from our team invited to present our project at this prestigious event to around 400 senior management delegates and participate in a Q&A session with the other three teams. The four presentations were extremely well received by the audience.

    Each team was given 15 minutes to present the findings of their report. Our Action Plan was broken down into four areas of focus; reward and recognition, remuneration and benefits, career development and workplace culture. We highlighted one or two key initiatives under each focus area in our presentation.

    Surveys with our staff highlighted that reward and recognition is the number one way to retain staff and it plays a significant role in why they may choose to stay and not seek employment elsewhere. At the City of Salisbury there is a project team looking into a reward and recognition framework so our team have recommended the idea to develop guidelines for managers to use when rewarding and recognising staff.

    City of Salisbury has an excellent staff development program so our team have recognised that while it is important to continue to develop our staff there is scope to increase career pathway opportunities by working with other councils to investigate options such as secondments, resource sharing and employee pools. This is an opportunity to enhance career development opportunities while retaining staff within Local Government.

    Our report highlights the opportunity to improve our mentoring program by expanding it to an LGMA level to engage and grow leaders across Local Government.

    All of these areas we highlighted impact on workplace culture which ultimately impacts on staff morale. Retention comes from an employees connection to an organisation and its people.

    The key points we left the audience with were that in order to retain your staff it is vital to listen to their needs, collaboration is the key and that we need to work together as an industry to ensure that we have the right people in the right places with the right skills doing the right jobs.

  • 21 Jun 2011 10:02 AM | Anonymous
    Each month we place the spotlight on a country council or staff member.  This month we speak to Grant Humphries, Director, Corporate and Community Services at Mt Gambier.

    Hi Grant - thanks for spending time with us.

    What is your professional background?
    My entire career has been in local government spanning five different Councils over 36 years, initially in the Finance/Revenue areas.  I was appointed CEO of former Beachport District Council in 1988.

    What Council are you currently working at, and how long have you been there?
    I am currently the Director, Corporate and Community Services with City of Mount Gambier, a position I have held for 14 years.

    Why did you decide to work for a country/regional council?
    Having worked in both country and metro Councils, they all face similar challenges. However, I found early in my career that country councils offered more scope for the attainment of varying skills and experience, generally in local government. This enabled me to gain exposure in the varying roles in local government and advance my career prospects. These opportunities have somewhat diminished these days as roles within local government have become more specialised and of course Councils are fewer in number and are larger/have greater capacity.
    Having been born and raised in a country town I have an empathy for and enjoy living in a regional area.

    What are the key differences between a country council and metro?
    As stated previously, all Councils face similar challenges in meeting community expectation/demands, however I do consider country councils are still closer to their communities and are more about the traditional roles of local government. The tyranny of distance and adequately servicing large land areas is an ongoing challenge in regional areas that does not necessarily present in the closer settled, more compact metropolitan areas.
    In living and working in a regional area you are certainly not anonymous and are always made aware of what the communities views are on various local issues!

    What do you like most about your role?
    The diversity. My particular role is very diverse (some would say too diverse) which regularly presents different challenges – this is a double edged sword – in one respect it offers challenge/diversity however on the flip side achievement of objectives in the varying duties can be delayed due to other more immediate priorities. This can be frustrating.
    The connection and involvement with the local community, community organisations, sporting groups, etc, in the achievement of combined objectives is also a major source of satisfaction in my role.

    How would you describe working for a country council as a career development step?
    Working in regional councils was a major influence in my career development which I would encourage anyone to entertain. If you are prepared to move around there are opportunities in regional areas that would not necessarily present in the metropolitan area.
    I am sure the experience gained in smaller Councils in regional areas will provide anyone with a great grounding in the workings of local government at a grass roots level.

    What other involvement do you have in Local Government? (e.g. networks, affiliations)
    I previously served as President of the South East IMM (precursor to LGMA) Group some years ago.
    I just completed a 2 year term as Chair of the Civica Authority SA and NT  Local Government User Group.

    Why did you join LGMA?
    It was the Institute of Municipal Management (IMM) in those days!
    Having become a CEO at the age of 29 years in a reasonably remote location, pre internet days, I needed all the help and support i could get. LGMA (or IMM) provided me the opportunity to network with many other more senior and experienced local government officers who were always very willing to assist.

  • 24 May 2011 1:19 PM | Anonymous

    Jane is the Director, Corporate Development for the City of Salisbury, and a LGMA board member.  She gives us a little of her background and some wise words of advice.

    Hi Jane, thanks for talking to us.  Can you tell us a bit about yourself....

    What's your current role?

    I am currently working for the City of Salisbury as Director of Corporate Development.  I am responsible for the portfolio areas of People and Culture, Information Systems, Marketing and Communications, Governance and Customer Services and the Executive Office.

        How did you get into that role?

    I have over ten years experience in local government, primarily in the areas of corporate services.  My previous roles at the Cities of Playford, Unley and Burnside enabled  me to build  the skills, knowledge and capacity to apply for the Director Corporate Development role at Salisbury when it became available around 18 months ago.  I also have postgraduate qualifications in business management and have undertaken a number of leadership programs over recent years.

        What do you like best about the current job?

    I love that no day is ever the same.  I have great variety in my role.  From being engaged in strategic discussions about the future of the organisation, to mentoring women and emerging leaders, to working on multidisciplinary project teams and committees, to attending national LGMA board meetings or talking with staff about their work. I am still learning every day which keeps me engaged and interested.

    I feel very fortunate in my role. Salisbury as a larger Council, has the resources to develop and implement innovative and best practice projects.  We are also able to attract and retain talented staff as we offer competitive  working conditions,  excellent learning and development opportunities and challenging work.  I have a great team within my department who are skilled and passionate about their roles. They are rolling out innovative new programs that are making a difference for our workforce, organisation and the community. 

       What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?

    I would say, try and get as much different experience as you can across the various disciplines of local government.  I moved around Councils and different roles, which prepared me for the diversity of the Director role I now hold.  Even though my interest lies in the Corporate Services arena, I  previously  did a stint as a GM of Corporate and Community Services, so I would understand the perspective of the external service provider within local government, not just the internal service provider.

     It's also important to invest in your development through leadership courses and relevant learning opportunities.  The LGMA offers some great programs for up and coming local government professionals including the LGMA Challenge and the Emerging Leaders Program.

    And, never underestimate the importance of networking. Having a diverse support network provides many benefits, particularly in an industry like  local government. You will always have a ready group of people, able to share information, provide advice and who can let you know when interesting opportunities arise.  


    What’s next for you?

    For now I am really enjoying my role and I still have a lot to accomplish at the City of Salisbury.  Later this year I will take on the role of President of the SA Division of the LGMA which will be a new and exciting challenge. I like working in local government for its diversity, opportunities and not least the people I get to interact with every day. So that's where I see myself for the immediate future.....



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