• 28 Oct 2016 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    This month we interview Mark Dowd, CEO of the City of Onkaparinga. 

    Mark speaks about his background and his approach to the challenges of local government. Newly elected to the position of President of LG Professionals SA, Mark also speaks about why he was keen to be involved with LG Professionals and his plans for the future.

    Hi Mark, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Chief Executive Officer, responsible for the delivery of Councils overall vision.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    Prior to taking on the role of CEO at City of Onkaparinga I spent the last 15 years working in the ICT/Technology sector with my most immediate past role being General Manager for Optus Business. Before that I have worked in numerous other management roles across different sectors.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I had spent a lot of time working with Governments over the last 15 years, understanding their business requirements and objectives and working with key decision makers on how technology could help assist them in achieving their goals so I was no stranger to the sector.
    When the role became available I did some research into Onkaparinga and the vision for the Council and was extremely impressed by the way Council approached its business, the vision it had for Strong Vibrant Communities and the strategies that had been developed to make this a reality. 

    Local government as a sector is certainly challenging but it is also very rewarding. There are not too many other sectors that provide you the opportunities to work across so many diverse fields- it’s a good sector to be involved with.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Success. Delivery. Strategy. The ability to bring a team together and think outside the box, put aside the commentary of ‘that’s how we have always done it’ and work with people who are looking to implement change and push the boundaries. That’s exciting.

    I believe the sector in general right now is really embracing change and looking for opportunities that may not have been considered in the past or may not have been considered to be the role of local government. My team are doing a great job in turning over every stone and looking for an edge.

    Speaking about your current role - Chief Executive Officer, City of Onkaparinga.  What are your key priorities for the next 12-24 months for Onkaparinga?
    We are focusing on developing a sustainable and vibrant community. I have put in a lot of time and effort working with business to ensure that opportunities exist for our city and our residents. We are launching an ON Business partner program in December which brings all of our sectors together for the greater good of the South.

    We have completed a comprehensive service review framework that shines a torch on council and asks the hard questions about whether what we do is aligned to our community's needs, are we the best people to be delivering the service,  if we are how well are we actually doing and are there ways we could improve what we do.

    Lastly we are looking for opportunities to consolidate our infrastructure, community centres and facilities and work towards creating vibrant hubs that deliver a range of services and really activate a community.

    As Onkaparinga is a growth council that still includes some rural and regional areas - what challenges has that presented and how have you managed them?
    Being such a large and diverse council does present different challenges. The North of our city is already significantly developed whilst the South continues to grow. The blend of metropolitan and rural challenges is also something that we work hard to manage. 

    Because of our size and demographics we are breaking the council down into 7 districts. Each part of our City has its own unique characteristics however underlying these there are many commonalities.

    When we look at council as a whole we need to be as efficient and effective as we can in our service delivery, economies of scale, considered and structured works programs.

    When we look at a district in its own right, what are its unique characteristics? What makes it special and how do we capture and enhance that?

    You are the new President of LG Professionals, SA.  Why were you keen to be a part of LG Professionals, SA and what are your plans for your term as President?
    I think LG Professionals, SA does a fantastic job of delivering programs for local government staff. The programs and conferences are targeted and meet the needs of the sector and are not just run for the sake of running a training session. LG Professionals, SA does a great job of engaging the sector at many different levels and is always looking for ways to provide better opportunities for administration. 

    I am looking forward to my time as President. I hope to bring a different point of view to the board. I am looking forward to working with Taryn and the team to look for new opportunities. It is important that when we consider how and what we can improve on as a sector we look not only within our industry for answers but to also engage outside of our industry for a different point of view.

    I believe there are great opportunities for better collaboration and recognition within the private sector.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    What a great question. I like to play golf if and when I can and also spend a bit of real time and not face time with the family and kids before they bugger off and leave home.

  • 22 Sep 2016 3:15 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Kate Staples, People and Culture Business Partner, City of Burnside. 

    Kate has recently moved into this role so she explains how she has approached the transition from a background in records management.  Kate is also currently participating in the Emerging Leaders Program, so she also shares her thoughts on how that program will support her current and future roles in local government.

    Hi Kate - thanks for speaking with us.

    Tell us about your role at City of Burnside - what does it involve?
    As People & Culture Business Partner I liaise with business units across Council to share information, challenges and opportunities. I help to establish improvements and solutions that get the best out of our employees and assist them in meeting Council’s strategic objectives.

    This year we’ve launched a new Performance Development and Review program, an eLearning system, electronic induction program, new corporate values, various employee development programs and culture change initiatives.

    Where did you start and how long have you been in local government?
    Straight after high school I somewhat accidentally ended up with a job interview at the City of Port Adelaide Enfield for a Records Trainee role. At the time I had no idea what the place was, no idea what Council did and it sounded a little bit like I was going to work in a dark basement! I worked with a great team (not in a basement), completed my traineeship then went onto the City of Burnside.

    I’ve been at the City of Burnside for the past 9 years and held the position of Team Leader Records for 5 of those. Working in records was a great opportunity to learn about the different facets of council and it inspired me to branch out. Following a secondment opportunity in People & Culture last year, I saw new opportunities and challenges and here I am.

    What attracted you to People and Culture?
    Mostly the mysterious biscuit tin... I kid, I kid. I’m passionate about continuous improvement and business excellence, no matter what the field. I love challenging the norms, understanding why people think the way they do and working together to deliver better outcomes. When I undertook my secondment in People & Culture it really sunk in that you can’t deliver business excellence without excellent people.

    What is the best thing about working in that department?
    I love playing a part in driving positive change. We have a really diverse team and I enjoy engaging with staff at all levels to add real value.

    Being fairly new in the role, have there been any challenges so far that you can share?
    Thankfully it’s been a really positive experience as we’re all here to achieve the same thing. The challenge has really been in trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can while shifting from one area to another!

    How do you plan to learn everything you need to know?
    It probably helps that I’m a curious person. I love getting into things (teams, systems, processes, challenges) and figuring them out. I’m really lucky to be surrounded by a supportive and knowledgeable team. I also participate in co-mentoring and am studying a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management).

    The title of your role is interesting as it includes the term ‘business partner’ - a recognition of the role that People and Culture can play across the organisation.  How and where do you think People and Culture can make the most impact?
    I think it’s important that people are engaged in what they’re here for.

    People & Culture can impact on the experience people have when they’re at work and that’s a pretty substantial impact. We can help make the workplace a great environment and help to ensure employees have the tools and support they need to do their job well – ultimately the community benefits from that.

    Tell us about your involvement with the Emerging Leaders Program.  Are you enjoying the program?
    Loving it! I feel fortunate to work with such a passionate, committed, diverse and intelligent group of people in the program. Through theory and group work it’s teaching me a lot about leadership and has given me a broader appreciation of local government - I think that’s important in any role.

    Outside of local government, what keeps you busy?
    Uni keeps me pretty busy at the moment. I live near the beach so I get down there quite a lot, I play beach volleyball, video games, do aerial yoga, dabble in arts and crafts, enjoy reading and am volunteering for the TEDx Adelaide event coming up next month.

  • 20 Aug 2016 9:35 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Nigel Morris, CEO of the District Council of Yankalilla.

    With just over 6 months in this new role, it was a great time to catch up with Nigel to learn what challenges/benefits he has found working as a CEO in a rural council, having just come from a background as a GM in a metro council.  Nigel tells about his achievements in his first 6 months, his plans for the future, and much more...

    Hi Nigel, thanks for speaking with us.

    How long have you been the CEO at District Council of Yankalilla?

    I started in December 2015.

    What was your last Council? What roles did you have and how long were you there?

    I was at the City of Burnside for 7 years, originally as the Manager of Information Systems in 2008 and then a series of GM roles, starting in 2009 with Corporate and Community under a two GM structure then in 2012 General Manager of Corporate Services under a three GM structure.

    In the calendar year 2014 the three City of Burnside general managers undertook a rotation of roles.  Each rotation was for four months, in order for each GM to gain in-depth experience in the role and to ensure that the business of council continued uninterrupted.  The rotations initiative resulted in the Council receiving the LG Professionals SA award at both state and national level for Innovative Management Initiatives – Metropolitan Councils. 

    At the start of 2015 I permanently took up the role of GM Urban Services before leaving for Yankalilla at the end of the year.  I was also given many opportunities to perform acting duties as CEO including during the Burnside exciting times.

    How would you describe the transition from GM to CEO?  Has there been any surprises?

    Not really – from my acting CEO experience I knew what to expect.  I did realise though that at Burnside, Paul Deb (CEO) was the main point of contact for the Elected Members while the GM’s were a bit more removed.  Now I’m the CEO, I know what that means!

    I was however surprised Paul never taught me how to deal with cattle loose on the beach.

    What have been your initial impressions about the transition from working in a metro council to a rural council?

    Coming from a council that had everything in place in terms of processes and procedures, certainly Yankalilla has a number of priorities in that respect to work on in the short term.  For example, when I arrived here the limited indoor staff with multiple roles were still working to a nine day fortnight, so we had to deal with that.

    It’s essentially about moving forward – the Yankalilla Elected Council was keen to establish their key priorities to become a more progressive council, embracing best practice procedures and processes but also looking to grow in economic development and tourism.

    What is the best thing about working in a rural council?

    The depth and breadth of operations you get involved with.  In a metro council you can be working in a small section of a department – or even as a GM you essentially get involved, on a day to day basis, with just your own portfolio.  In a rural council there are less staff but all the same responsibilities so everyone needs to be more ‘multi skilled’, especially as CEO!  It’s very hand-on.  It teaches you all aspects of the business.  Also – it’s rewarding because you can easily see the changes you are making – and believe me, you get immediate feedback!

    I am now dealing with things for the first time including Community Waste Water Systems (CWMS), 415 kilometres of dirt roads, tourism, unmade roads going through houses, beach access ramps, beach shacks built in the 1950s on Council road reserve, jetty maintenance, cows on the loose, escaped pigs, dead kangaroo allowances, residents that like to bring me rocks and having the best bakery in the state directly across the road.

    Do you think it’s a valuable step in the development of any senior manager to work in a rural council for a time?

    Definitely.  It’s a different perspective and the learning opportunities are simply remarkable compared to an urban council. 

    Like metro Council’s we still have to produce Annual Business Plans, Long Term Financial Plans, Strategic Plans, Asset Management Plans, Annual Statements and Annual Reports.  We have the same governance and legislative requirements including Internal Controls, Audit Committee, Development Assessment Panel, budget preparation, delegations, code of conducts, policies, section 270s, freedom of information, conflict of interest provisions etc. we just need to do all these same things with less people.  A CEO of a rural council will need to be hands on with all these requirements, getting that valuable experience.

    What were your main priorities as CEO for your first 6 months?

    It was interesting because actually, in the interview process for this role they asked me to prepare a presentation to pretend I had been there for 12 months and I had to present what I had achieved in my make believe first 12 months.  So in fact I had largely already prepared that agenda before I started. 

    The priorities as set out by the Elected Members (and my presentation) were to get the finances more sustainable, improve our asset maintenance including roads and facilities, improve governance processes, do some cool stuff and sort out some people management issues (such as a new EB).

    I’ve also concentrated on making things clearer for the EM’s, the staff and the community in terms of our priorities and finances – such as the preparation of a clear Annual Business Plan and long term financial plan to guide us along with the completion of the new website.  It’s about building trust though effective communication.

    Concentrating on savings and efficiencies we’ve already been able to reduce our operating expenditure to a position where we now have a surplus budget while at the same time we’ve increased our capital expenditure by over $1m.  This is critical as we want to ensure our assets are well maintained - not only for our residents but also to attract more tourists to the area.

    You recently presented as part of the ELP (Emerging Leaders Program) Rural Day.  What was some of the key advice that you shared with the group?

    I explained that it is certainly a different experience working for a rural council.  It gives you much more rounding, prepares you for many other opportunities.  One example I shared with the group was in my first week here I went to fill up my car at the local service station.  I had forgotten my pin for the petrol card – but no worries, the service station operator knew exactly who I was and just put the pin in for me! 

    Such a tight knit community is great for these sorts of things but it also means you are also very visible and accountable - which is also good as it keeps you on your toes…!

    You participated in the ELP program eight years ago, and are now a Chief Executive Officer.  How did this program assist you in your development and would you recommend it to aspiring local government leaders?

    I had a fantastic experience in the ELP Program in 2008.    I actually received a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Emerging Leader of the Year at the then LGMA awards.

    I found it very valuable.  My appointed mentor for that year was Mark Withers (
    now CEO, City of Port Adelaide Enfield) and he gave me a great piece of advice – “always put your hand up for new opportunities, because that’s how you learn and grow.”

    So that advice led me to seek new opportunities (I think I moved on to a new job within about 4 months of getting that advice!) and also take up other challenges as they came along - such as the GM rotation at Burnside and of course this new CEO role.

    I think the program made me very motivated about the future – it showed me what is possible from a personal development standpoint and how great local government is.  So yes it was very valuable and I’d recommend it to anyone.

    What are your priorities for the next 6 months?

    I have just implemented a new organisation restructure so bedding this down is a priority.  We have also just adopted the 2016/17 Annual Business Plan with over 40 specific projects so are busy getting these projects started immediately. 

    One of the cool projects for this year is the continuation of the Free Wi-Fi rollout into the district with Yankalilla, the Normanville Foreshore and Caravan Park set to go online this year.    We completed the roll out of free Wi-Fi for Normanville late last year and we already get over 120 people logging on per day in Normanville, so we think it’s a great initiative for the area.  I can’t wait to see how many people use it when our population triples over the summer months.

    Outside of local government, what keeps you busy?

    In the last 6 months or so I’ve taken a new job, got married, bought a unit and had another child….so I’m pretty busy at all times!

  • 21 Jul 2016 5:28 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Sallyann Shearer, Team Leader Talent and Organisational Development, Adelaide City Council.

    Sallyann tells us why she was attracted to working in HR, her thoughts on the strategic role of HR in an organisation and her involvement with the HR Network.

    Hi Sallyann - thanks for speaking with us.

    Tell us about your role at Adelaide City Council.
    I am the Team Leader, Talent and Organisational Development. I manage a small but fantastic team and together we are responsible for initiatives such as: cultural measurement, leadership development, training, reward and recognition, talent management, diversity and inclusion, employer branding and employment pathways.

    Where were you before you started in local government?
    I worked in State Government for around 8 years in various OD roles. Most recent roles include Manager, Change and Organisational Development and Manager, Workforce Development.

    What attracted you to HR?
    After completing my Behavioural Science degree, I was employed by a workplace that gave me some great opportunities to try different roles in areas such as Marketing, Policy, Research, Internal Communications and Grants. None of these areas truly inspired me until I won a HR role and my manager suggested I undertake a post grad qualification in HR to further my knowledge. I absolutely loved studying HR and was able to put the theory directly into practice. I moved from the operations side into the training and organisational development side of HR and have never looked back.

    What is the best thing about working in HR?
    I love being able to understand the way an organisation operates in terms of culture and organisational practices and then look at ways to improve on those practices. There is always work to be done in ensuring that our strategies, programs and initiatives are aligned to changing organisational directions and business and employee needs.

    What is the strategic role HR can play in an organisation?
    We have a strategic role to play in understanding current and future workforce needs, how they align to organisational goals and strategic directions, then ensuring we are attracting and retaining the right people to fulfil these needs. We also have a strategic role to play in ensuring that our people understand the vision and direction and their contribution to it and have the right capabilities, skills and knowledge to perform successfully and achieve the organisational goals.

    Tell us about your involvement with the HR Network and the importance of the network to its members and the sector.
    I have been an active member of the HR Network Committee for nearly a year and a half, joining the network shortly after commencing in my role at Adelaide City Council. During that time I have facilitated a number of the discussion forums at events, including one on talent management, one on employee value propositions and hosting a session on onboarding and induction. I also spoke on behalf of the HR Network at the recent Mission ImPossible Conference which was a great way to showcase the work we are doing as part of the HR Network. The HR network is a fantastic opportunity for all HR professionals across councils to not only network, but to collaborate and learn from each other on topics and issues that are common to all of us. We have such a huge opportunity to work strategically to strengthen, broaden and add value to some of our HR programs by working together to offer them across all councils.  

    Outside of local government, what keeps you busy?  
    I recently 'discovered' fitness and have been participating in 8 week challenges at the gym, ran the Bay to City, the Hot Lap Fun Run (during Clipsal 500) and also gave the recent Stadium Stomp a go. I also have a seven year old son who keeps me pretty busy.

  • 16 Jun 2016 10:51 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Michael Collins, Manager Projects and Procurement at Coorong District Council.

    Michael tells us why he was attracted to the sector, his commitment to professional development and what he learned from the recent LG Professionals SA 'Imagineering' event.

    Coorong District Council recently won the LG Professionals SA Award for Excellence in Local Economic Development for the SA Motorsport Park - a major economic development project in Tailem Bend.  Michael explains how this came about and how the community will benefit.

    Hi Michael - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Manager, Projects and Procurement at Coorong District Council.  This role incorporates; project managing the delivery of Council’s capital works program, contractor management, procurement, managing Council’s administration and works vehicle fleet, and looking after Council’s property interests (leases, licences, permits, road closures, sales and acquisitions).

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    My main career background is in real estate.  Having been a Branch Manager for two of the UK’s largest real estate companies in Cornwall and Devon, in 2002 I set up my own business in Exeter which specialised in the sale of quirky, interesting and period properties in the city.  Our company tagline was ‘re-designing estate agency’ and we prided ourselves on impeccable customer service and being ahead of the game, being the first estate agency in the city to use text message alerts and automatic email matching of new listings to our customer database.  We also ditched suits and ties in favour of less formal smart casual attire.

    After selling the business in preparation for moving to Australia, I worked for nine months for Exeter City Council as a Housing Officer, working with a range of clients who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness.  Many were escaping from domestic violence or had drug/alcohol problems, which also posed child protection issues.  It was working in this role that gave me my passion for local government and the realisation that we have the ability to make a huge difference to the lives of people in our communities.

    On arriving permanently in Australia in April 2010, I worked again briefly in real estate, before taking up the position of Property Officer with Coorong District Council in October 2011.  My role developed with additional responsibilities and I took on the position of Manager, Projects & Procurement in July 2014.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    It was initially my love of politics, in particular ‘community politics’ (I used to be very politically active in my youth, at one stage being the National Press Officer of the Young Liberal Democrats of England and also a candidate a couple of times in local council elections in the UK).  Whilst I no longer have any desire to be active politically, working in local government seemed to be a good way to make a positive impact in the community.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Making things happen.  I enjoy the challenge of tackling the tough stuff and getting results.  It is also extremely rewarding to see the successful fruition of a project, whether it is a new toilet block, a re-modelled office or a fishing jetty, knowing that I have in some ways influenced the final outcome and that they will be there for years to come.

    Speaking about your current role – Manager Projects and Procurement - what are you most proud of since you've held that role?  What initiatives or new ideas have you employed that might be very valuable for other councils to use or try?
    Helping to guide Council through the process of seeking expressions of interest for the sale of the Motorsport Park, the lengthy detailed contract negotiations, satisfying the contract conditions precedent to the sale, through to seeing work physically start on the site.  On a personal level it meant getting involved in and learning about areas of Council work that I’d had little knowledge of previously, including; Native Vegetation offsets (SEB’s), Development Plan Amendments, Consortium Agreements and Section 48 Prudential Reporting. 

    Council showing the initiative and having the courage to enter into a consortium agreement with a private company (in this case for the purpose of applying for and acquitting a grant) is something that I would encourage Council’s to be more open to in order to advance and unlock the economic potential in their communities.

    Congratulations on your recent LG Professionals SA Award for Excellence in Local Economic Development – for the SA Motorsport Park Development.  This is an exciting project not only for the Council but for SA.  What could other councils learn from your approach? 
    I believe that a large part of the reason that the Motorsport Park development has been able to progress has been Council’s drive and determination to facilitate the development wherever possible by attempting to remove obstacles, rather than being the obstacle. 

    Obviously we have had to follow process and ensure that we are putting the interests of our ratepayers first, but instead of taking a ‘jobsworth’ approach, that can be the stereotypical view that private business has of local government, we have appreciated that speed and time is of the essence, and have used external consultants to expedite processes where our own in-house resources were lacking. 

    Our elected members have brought the community on the journey and have been resilient in the face of negativity and criticism, particularly early on in the process.

    How will the council/community benefit from this development in terms of economic development into the future? Will the Council continue to have some involvement in future years?
    The economic benefits to both Council and the community of this development will be huge.  The projections are for 974 FTE to be created (603 in construction and 371 in flow on), 339,000 extra visitors to the Murray and Mallee district per annum producing a $113.4m Gross Regional Product (Murray and Mallee). 

    It is likely that we will also see the continued rapid growth of townships in the Coorong Council District, such as Wellington East, increasing both the ratepayer base and the likely valuations.  It is also expected that townships like Meningie will also benefit from visitors extending their stay to enjoy the area.

    How much time per week do you spend on your own professional development?  How important do you think it is for professionals to allocate time to working 'on the business' and their own skills?
    I think professional development is incredibly important and like most, I probably don’t spend enough time on it.  Taking time out to attend professional development activities and events away from the workplace enables us to think outside the confines of our everyday roles, open our minds and hone our skills.

    LG Professionals SA is focused on providing professional development for the sector – what was the most recent LG Professionals SA event you attended and what did you learn from it?
    The most recent LG Professionals SA event that I attended was the ‘Imagineering’ event.  I obviously took a lot away from it, as I keep finding myself enthusing to my colleagues and elected members about various parts of the event...what if we could....?.

    In particular the presentation by Mark Dowd (CEO of Onkaparinga) and his example of paying a business owner to put tables and chairs on the footpath rather than charging them, resulting in the business owner getting so busy that they needed to employ 3 extra people.  This was a great example of going against conventional wisdom and obtaining a fantastic outcome for the local economy.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Whilst I might like to see myself in five years sitting on a beach in Northern Queensland sipping an ice cold beer, in the absence of a lotto win, the next best thing would be continuing to progress my career in local government either at Coorong or another progressive council in South Australia.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    When I’m not enjoying family time with my partner Ian and his 6 year old son, I love making the main thing I miss about my native Cornwall.  I hate to tell the people of South Australia that what you refer to as a ‘Cornish Pasty’ is nothing like the real thing.  The only way that I can satisfy my regular cravings for a genuine Cornish Pasty is to make one myself!

  • 21 May 2016 9:07 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Scott McLuskey, Senior Development Officer, Planning, City of Prospect.

    Scott tells us about his view for future development in Prospect and what key insights he gleaned from the recent LG Professionals Australia National Congress.

    Hi Scott, thanks for speaking with us.

    You recently attended the National Congress on an LG Professionals SA Scholarship.   What were the top 3 things that you learned that will stay with you from the Congress, and how will they affect your work or professional development?
    I greatly appreciated the opportunity to attend the National Congress and thank LG Professionals SA again for the scholarship opportunity. There were several things that resonated strongly with me including the concept that our communities are not lacking for information, they are lacking for clarity, and also the concept that we should be creating processes that are designed for intrinsic success and by which failure is actually more difficult. I think there is also a very direct application here in Prospect about the role that local government can play in leading rather than managing change and uncertainty.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am the Senior Development Officer, Planning at City of Prospect. My role usually incorporates planning assessment, technical advice, compliance and system improvement. Working in a smaller city however means that my role sometimes also includes assisting with event management, policy improvement, media releases, systems testing, economic development and a range of other challenging and rewarding functions.
    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    Prior to my time at City of Prospect I spent several years with a great team at City of Salisbury having entered local government through a short but valuable stint at City of Playford. Prior to my career in local government I was a retailer of dreams and nostalgia in the form of lollies and other sweet treats in the picturesque hills of Adelaide.
    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I’ve been acutely aware of local government and its value to our communities since my first involvement with the sector at age 7. I recall a keen interest in the number of votes for Mickey Mouse while scrutineering that election. I do think though that my role and the broader role of local government are well-aligned; setting and realising a positive vision for the future while delivering services that benefit our communities today.
    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    The skills and knowledge within this sector are incredibly vast. Finding ways to collaboratively leverage this and the local knowledge of our community is both an interesting and challenging task.
    Speaking about your current role - Senior Development Officer, Planning - what are you most proud of since you've held that role?  What initiatives or new ideas have you employed that might be very valuable for other councils to use or try?

    I hope that my contribution to City of Prospect is not characterised by a single project or thought bubble, and nor do I think anyone in local government does their best work in isolation. I am proud to be part of a small team that is leading a transformed vision for the inner area of Metropolitan Adelaide and to be part of a Council that has placed design quality squarely at the front of that vision. Whether it be through the restoration of our character homes, shops or churches or through newer development, I hope to make many small contributions through my role that are part of a greater Prospect fabric.

    What are your comments on development in Prospect?  Being so close to the City - are there more businesses setting up in Prospect?  Is the residential side moving to higher density?  How do you balance the competing needs of the 'old Prospect' and the push for new development?

    Balance is exactly the right word, and where the right balance is achieved I think we will find that the needs of 'old' and 'new' Prospect are complementary rather than competitive. Particularly as our age profile and transport modalities change the desire to have a wide range of accessible businesses and services will only grow. The development of higher density dwellings within our city, paired with the retention of our larger character dwellings within expanded historic character areas, offers flexible housing choice to current or aspiring Prospect residents at any stage of life. This provides opportunities for first home buyers or downsizers who previously may have needed to move away from Prospect for their new home. Creating new housing opportunities near existing business nodes (and the FTTP NBN network) consequentially improves the opportunity for small to medium businesses, in particular, to thrive.

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

    The overarching objectives are simple; to continue to grow and challenge myself, and to ensure that I’m in a role within which I am making a positive contribution. I have had some excellent growth opportunities through my time at City of Prospect and through LG Professionals SA that have positioned me to achieve those objectives by targeting a higher level role within the sector.

    Do you have an embarrassing 'local government moment'?

    I’m sure that we all have several, but perhaps it will suffice here to say that those who saw me on the dance floor at the Leadership Excellence Awards could provide an answer to this question for me.
    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I spend a good portion of time outside of the office volunteering as a coach and statistician at a local basketball club, the Forestville Eagles. Away from those roles I enjoy running, a good book (a real paper book I should say too) and a good red wine. Preferably the latter two at the same time.

  • 22 Apr 2016 5:59 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Bronwyn Webster, Manager Customer and Community Services at the City of Charles Sturt. 

    Bronwyn tells us about her passion for the sector, her role at Charles Sturt, her involvement with the Community Manager's Network - and her plans post-retirement!

    Hi Bronwyn, thanks for speaking with us. 

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Manager Customer & Community Services at the City of Charles Sturt.  I have responsibility for the Customer Contact Centre and organisation-wide customer service improvement initiatives.  The community services part of my role takes in community care which provides service for frail aged people through the Commonwealth Home Support Program and community development which covers our six community centres, community development outreach, youth services, volunteer services and the Employment Works program. 

    In addition, within our portfolio we have the Social Planner and the Social Inclusion Coordinator.

    How long have you been at Charles Sturt and where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I have been at Charles Sturt for just over seven years.  Prior to starting here I was with the Commonwealth Office for Women in Canberra and prior to that in the ACT government and the South Australian government.  All of my roles have been in the broad human services, including the community sector as well as seven years in my own consultancy business.  

    I have had lots of experience in all levels of government, non-government sector and private sector.

     What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    When I came back to Adelaide from Canberra I was looking for a new challenge and this role came along.  It fitted with my experience, but also with my passion for community services and offered the opportunity to make a difference.

    What motivates you? - What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    The great thing about local government – particularly by comparison with State and Commonwealth government  is the close connection with the community. 

    There is an immediacy about local government in many respects – feedback from community members is regular and there is also the opportunity to work more closely with elected members.

    One of the most interesting challenges is to keep that feedback and those relationships in perspective, to be responsive whilst at the same time being creative and developing new approaches and initiatives.

    Speaking about your current role - Manager Customer and Community Services - what are you most proud of since you've held that role?  What initiatives or new ideas have you employed that might be very valuable for other councils to use or try?
    I have the most wonderful teams of people working with me.  They are creative, innovative, passionate and committed and make every day interesting and fulfilling. 

    A couple of things that I’m proud of include the Employment Works Program which provides opportunities for unemployed young people to learn skills while working on capital projects within council.  This not only provides skill development to Certificate 2 level for the participants but also delivers savings to council – a win win! 

    One of the projects delivered through this program is the warehouse space for Youth Services at the Brocas – a heritage building on Woodville Road. 

    We have also designed and had built Charlie the Communicart – a trailer that goes out to local neighbourhoods as a kind of mobile community centre. 

    These initiatives and many more have all come about because of the hard work and dedication of staff who are involved.

    You are also the Chair of the Community Managers Network.  What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of chairing the network?  What do you expect the group will achieve in the future?
    Another great bunch of people!  The most rewarding aspect of my involvement with the network is the wonderful level of discussion and debate that we share, together with the programs and events that we have been able to run over the years. 

    These are all very busy people but we all find the time to contribute to improving our sector which I think is fantastic.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  (If it's retirement - what do you think you'll miss most about local government once you have put your feet up?  Or do you think it's in the blood and you'll continue to dabble?)
    Well I’m actually retiring on 8 July! 

    Whilst I have a few nice retirement type things planned I’m sure I’ll be around and about ‘dabbling’ in community services of one kind or another.  I will miss the people – both at Charles Sturt and more widely in the sector. 

    I’ve met some wonderful, quirky, interesting, weird people in my time in local government! You all know who you are!

    With such a long and distinguished career in the sector - can you share with us an embarrassing ‘local government moment’?
    Hmmm probably none that are fit for publication.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Music, food, wine and friends – in any order and often altogether. Oh and walking the dogs…

  • 29 Mar 2016 8:47 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Vesna Haracic, Manager Community Health and Wellbeing at the City of Salisbury.

    Having just been appointed to this role, Vesna speaks about her plans for the next 12 months and also provides some insightful advice about job-sharing.

    Hi Vesna, thanks for speaking with us.

    What is your current role and what does it involve?
    My current role is Manager of the Community Health and Wellbeing Division. It is a job share arrangement until mid-June 2016, after which it will be a full time role.

    I work with a great team of staff to provide services to our ageing residents (funded under the Commonwealth Home Support Program), people with disability and multicultural communities.

    My division is also responsible for the implementation of the Regional Health Plan, Beyond the Ramp Access and Inclusion Plan and several programs targeted for people with a disability.

    In addition I ,have responsibility for the HR function of volunteers involved across Council.

    How long have you been at Salisbury and where were you before? (What is your work background/career path so far)
    I started working for the City of Salisbury back in 2004, and since then have been working in many different roles.

    I have always worked within community service areas where I had the opportunity to plan, organise, manage and administer different projects and services.  My work for the City of Salisbury has involved program, staff and volunteer management, development of appropriate approaches to cultural services, responsibility for funding applications, individual funding contracts and budget monitoring.

    Before coming to Salisbury I had worked mainly with multicultural communities in regards to the development of the Multicultural Action Plan, marketing and promotion.

    What attracted you to local government and your current role?
    Over the years I have really enjoyed working for the council, where I have had the opportunity to grow professionally and personally, and to be involved in many different projects. It was always more than just a job - it was also an opportunity to build a career and learn about the many different structures and operational areas of local government.

    When the position of Manager became available I decided to apply and take on new challenges and responsibilities for the implementation of Community Health and Wellbeing strategic directions.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I was always attracted to local government work as it closely affects the daily lives of citizens and has an important part in community decision making. The work of local government is varied, but it touches upon almost all areas of our day to day life as citizens.

    The opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives by ensuring that all residents gain access to services, as well as having the opportunity to live well as active citizens and contribute to the community is what drives me and keeps me motivated.

    Speaking about your new role, Manager Community Health and Wellbeing – what are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?
    The Australian Government's Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme will have a considerable impact on the way aged and disability services are funded, managed and delivered in South Australia.

    My main focus over the next 12 months and beyond will be to ensure that local government continues to play a role in assisting our residents to have the support to live independently, as well as remain connected in their local community.

    We understand that you are also job sharing at the moment - can you tell us what you feel are the benefits of this arrangement?
    For me personally, it is a great opportunity to work in the job sharing arrangement with the current manager while she is transitioning to retirement. I have the opportunity to gain a very good understanding of the requirements of the position, learn on the job and have someone to discuss my ideas with.

    The job sharing arrangement is also a great tool for knowledge retention and it is a transfer strategy which ensures that knowledge is retained and transferred in the organization.  

    As two different individuals we bring different sets of skills and perspectives, although we share our enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to success.  

    Personally, what’s the long term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    The last couple of years have been very challenging in an ever changing environment for the community aged and disability services. We have many opportunities facing us in the next couple of years. I am sure it will be an exciting time to come.

    I will continue to make a contribution in ensuring that local government continues to play a role in assisting our residents to have the support to live independently and remain connected in their local community for as long as possible.  I would also like to get involved in any relevant broader council’s projects to deepen my knowledge and understanding of the local government sector. 

    Can you share with us an embarrassing 'local government moment'?
    I’ve learned lots about other cultures through my job. One time we had organized a community consultation with the seniors from the Bhutanese community, where we provided some light refreshments after the consultation.

    To our surprise, when we invited them to have something to eat with us, no one joined. It turned out they were all vegetarians and the food that we ordered was Indian with meat. The most interesting thing was that we checked with the community leaders if it was ok to serve that type of food and they approved it, because it was considered very impolite in their culture to openly disagree.

    How do you spend your pleasure time outside of local government?
    My two daughters (Ella, 16 and Laura, 19) and my husband keep me very busy with all of their plans for the weekends.

    I like spending time with my family and friends and going out for a meal or a coffee. I also like shopping, watching movies and relaxing.  

  • 17 Feb 2016 9:09 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Nick Day, Manager Community and Customer Service at Mount Barker District Council.

    Nick speaks about his current role, his views on development and leadership and also shares a  particularly funny 'embarrassing moment'!

    Hi Nick, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role with Mount Barker District Council is Manager Community and Customer Service. I’m lucky to manage a team of terrific people delivering community services, community development, customer services, tourism and events, communications and building and recreation asset management outcomes.

    I also have the responsibility for Corporate Customer Service initiatives including overall Customer Service Framework and Strategy.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    Seems a long time ago now and it is but I started work in State Government with the Engineering and Water Supply Department (SA Water) straight out of school as a rookie in corporate service and customer service roles.

    This lasted 10 years then I joined local government at Noarlunga Council, moving to Mitcham, then back to Onkaparinga, Adelaide Hills and 2.5 years ago to Mount Barker. Over that time I have been in various supervisory and management roles.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    Local government appealed to me for a few reasons including at the time, an opportunity to work near home and with people I had worked with previously, then realising the broader appeal was the closeness to the local community and seemingly being  able to influence (through quicker decision making) improved outcomes for them.

    It would also be fair to say that role diversity within local government excited me and opened up a career path. I was attracted to Mount Barker because of the breadth of the role and more importantly that I had something to offer that assists delivery of sustained reasonable services for the community as it grows into the future.

    The role also continues to fulfil my belief that working across Councils is important and can be very effective for the broader communities. I am currently working on collaborative projects and initiatives with Alexandrina and Adelaide Hills Councils.

    What motivates you? - what do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I am motivated by challenges and leadership, particularly in the areas of people development - watching individuals and teams grow professionally, help as they take on new challenges and then without realising they are doing it, become leaders themselves.

    Local government is an interesting and exciting place for a number of reasons. Mount Barker like many council areas has a fantastic community, full of community spirit and pride, innovators, business leaders,  family’s and volunteers.

    Speaking about your current role - Manager Community and Customer Service - what are you most proud of since you've held that role?  What initiatives or new ideas have you employed that might be very valuable for other councils to use or try?
    It’s dangerous to be proud of yourself out loud I reckon. As noted above I feel best and motivated when I can see professional growth within people, I didn’t mention personal growth but to me I see they go hand in hand.

    Leadership development and consistent behaviours are right up there too.

    There have been a number of initiatives and ideas that are part of our daily work activities, so I don’t want to name any particularly but that doesn’t mean we don’t share them, we do and will. It seems to me that getting the business steps right and thinking long term is something we are improving on and getting better at now in Council, and I hope I have had a little something to do with that.

    As Mt Barker is a growth council and one that has transitioned quite rapidly from essentially a rural background to become almost an outer suburb of Adelaide - what challenges has that presented and how have you managed them?
    Growth is part of the business and yes it does bring challenges, but this organisation in my opinion has been and is responding for the long term, with our community at the forefront.

    Managing the challenges and how this is communicated with the community is high priority, enabling community understanding and ownership, by Council leadership.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Retirement is on the horizon, but not for 10 years or so and I believe strongly that I have something to give in local government over that time. I’d like to think Mount Barker will be a fair chunk of that time, however I also don’t rule out other options.

    Opportunities for continued leadership and personal development growth and associated challenges do come up in local government and consideration of these is important to me.  My wife and I are now empty nesters, have energy and great health so we’ll keep on working for a bit, ensuring we keep an eye on healthy life balance.

    Do you have an embarrassing local government moment?
    No…well…. I do recall one time in my younger days where at a work Christmas breakfast celebration my pants fly zip broke, then the seam continued to rip around the seat of the pants right up to the belt.

    It was a hot day so I didn’t have a jumper or anything else to cover my gaping holes and everyone else laughingly didn’t have any ideas to help. I had to walk back to the office, some 3 kms or so, hastily, red faced, hands appropriately covering the areas that would normally be inconspicuous.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Barb, my wife and I are very social and our time is spent full of fitness, physical activities, lots of friends and family time and regularly cruising around Adelaide, the Hills and beyond in Ruby our red 1989 Porsche 928 S4…no hooning of course!

  • 09 Dec 2015 7:41 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Sarah Philpott, Director Corporate Services at Port Adelaide Enfield and new board member of LG Professionals SA.

    In this interview, she tells us about her decision to return to local government after a time away - and why she chose to nominate for the LG Professionals SA Board. 

    Hi Sarah - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am the Director Corporate Services at the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and have been here since February 2015.  I see my role as supporting the council and organisation to achieve outcomes for the community. 

    My portfolio includes city development, financial services, information technology, information management and governance, so I have a great diversity of inwardly focussed support services and outwardly focussed community building aspects to my role.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    My immediate past role was as the Director of Higher Courts Services at the Courts Administration Authority which was a complete change from my previous executive roles within local government.

    I learnt an enormous amount about justice and working in the state government sector which is very useful in my current role.  Before that I was General Manager Corporate Services at Cairns Regional Council and Director of Community and Corporate Development at the City of Marion.  Much of my career has been in local government but having commercial experience and state government experience is of great benefit too.
    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I enjoy working closely with the community and being in a sector which has capacity to determine a direction and be nimble enough to respond to it.  I have also been very privileged to work with many outstanding people in local government, who have a strong alignment and commitment to making a difference to people’s lives. 

    My current role attracted me because it was an interesting portfolio, in a community which is very diverse and where there are really exciting things on the horizon.  In organisational terms, we are going through significant change and I like to be part of leading cultural change and creating a great place to work.
    You've recently been appointed to the Local Government Professionals Australia, SA Board - what inspired you to nominate for this?  What do you hope to achieve as a board member? 
    My decision to return to local government after 3 years with the Courts was all about re-connecting with this profession and the great work that we do.

    I have also been very lucky to have a long association with the LG Professionals Australia Management Challenge and like the values of LG Professionals SA about learning and development of our people and that encouraged me to join the Board.

    I am interested to understand what members want from LG Professionals SA and how we can ensure the work adds value for people in the sector.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    The variety, the great characters you meet and seeing results – I can look back on my time in local government and feel that I have made a real contribution. 

    What I have loved most is seeing the capacity of our community grow and watching team members develop new leadership capabilities.

    Speaking about your current role - Director of Corporate Services - what are you most proud of since you've held that role?  What initiatives or new ideas have you employed that might be valuable for other councils to use or try?
    I have spent a lot of time getting the right people into the right roles for us – an example is in economic development, where we have been working very actively for the past several months in a completely new capacity for our Council.

    For me, creating a team that builds on the strengths of our existing people and adds new capability into that mix sets us up for a positive future – and that’s something to be proud of!

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    It will be where I am learning and being challenged and loving what I do.

    Do you have an embarrassing ‘local government moment’?
    I always cry at my farewells – not a good look!   So I have decided the answer is to either:

    1. Don’t leave or

    2. Avoid your own party!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Real relaxation happens in my garden – there is nothing quite like getting your hands in the dirt and weeds to connect to the physical world when we spend so much time at work in our heads and in relationships.

    I love a good book, going out for a lazy lunch on Sundays and cooking.

Mailing Address: 148 Frome Street ADELAIDE SA 5000   Phone: 8291-7990;   Email: admin@lgprofessionalssa.org.au

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