Meet Our Members

  • 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.

  • 19 Nov 2015 8:42 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Sarah Kay, Manager Human Resources at Alexandrina Council.

    Sarah speaks about her current role and her plans for the future.  She also reflects on Alexandrina's recent win in the LG Professionals SA Awards - what it means to the team involved, and benefits to the council overall.

    Hi Sarah, thanks for speaking with us.

    What's involved in your current role - and how long have you held that position at Alexandrina?
    I joined Alexandrina Council in May 2014 in the position of Manager Human Resources. I work with a great team of staff to provide services in WHS, payroll, injury management, volunteer support, recruitment, training, employee relations, workforce planning and other organisational development initiatives.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I had previously worked in local government for the City of Onkaparinga and then spent some time in the not for profit sector and consulting across a wide range of businesses working from home while my children were young.  When the opportunity arose to work for an organisation that contributes to the community my family and I live in, I was excited to put my hand up for it. Alexandrina’s mission and values and the strong leadership provided by its strategic plan attracted me to apply for the position. I really enjoy contributing to our mission ‘Be Involved’.

    Nominations are open again for the LG Professionals Australia, SA Leadership Excellence Awards.  At this year’s Gala Awards Dinner Alexandrina Council received the award for 'Innovative Management Initiatives - Rural Councils'.  Can you tell us a bit about the initiative - and why you think you were successful in winning the award?  
    We were all so proud of this achievement! It really represented a great team effort from all of our staff. As a small, regional council, we had to make our scarce resources work for us and from this came an innovative way to meet the challenges represented by legislative requirements in Work Health and Safety and Procurement. The Work Health and Safety and Procurement intranet teams devised ‘one stop shops’ as interactive internal sources of advice consistent with legislative requirements, enabling a centralised, version controlled and interactive information hub that enables staff to access what they need in order to comply in the most friendly user way possible.

    It's great that councils are recognised for their great work with the awards also enabling sharing of knowledge and ideas across the sector.  How do you think Alexandrina, as a council and a community, benefits from winning the award? 
    The increased level of staff engagement, ownership and culture change in relation to meeting legislative requirements has been an added bonus of these intranet sites. Alexandrina has a workplace value of ‘Continually improving our systems’ in order to meet our organisational goals and provide the best outcomes for our community. We also know that the more visible guidance is, the more likely staff are to use it and feel confident in meeting best practice which aligns with our value of ‘Caring for our People’. The recognition the award represents demonstrates to staff and our community that a small council can achieve leading edge results.

    Has it made you even more likely to enter the awards again - and would you also seek other categories?
    Definitely! We entered two categories last year, our other nomination being a ‘Food Surveillance Training, Induction and Mentoring Program’. We have several fantastic projects that we are considering entering this year that meet the selection criteria of a number of categories.

    Speaking of your current role  - can you describe a typical day?
    I am not sure there is such a thing as a typical day in HR! I feel it is important and I really enjoy being accessible and visible to staff as a support, so that approach can change any planned day. Our HR team has well defined plans, strategies and projects that we are working on in relation to workforce planning and development so apart from the people contact a typical day would be spent progressing these projects.

    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I find it really rewarding to be implementing strategies designed to support and develop our people to achieve the best outcomes for our community. Being a member of the community, that makes it extra rewarding! Our workplace culture is very collaborative and recognises achievements at all levels. Having a dedicated HR Team, peers and leaders, and a strong connection to our values, makes Alexandrina a great place to be a HR practitioner.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    My goal is to see Alexandrina Council recognised as a leader in employment and organisational development practices within the local government sector. I am keen to work closely with other HR practitioners to put into practice ways to promote local government as a sector to pursue an exciting, diverse and rewarding career pathway and overcome some of the challenges identified in workforce profiling. I really enjoy HR but would also consider management roles in other departments/service areas or potential GM roles if they arise.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Leisure time for us revolves around the busy lives of our 6 children who range in age from 14 to 5 and all have varied sporting interests. We enjoy being actively involved in the community activities via volunteering but it is sometimes a juggle of who is going where! When there is free time (rare!) the beach and river are the place to be and if we are really lucky a nice meal locally with a glass of regional wine!

  • 22 Oct 2015 2:59 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Henry Inat, CEO of the Town of Gawler.

    Henry talks about his experience to date, the challenges facing Gawler and what motivated his recent appointment to the LG Professionals SA Board.

    Hi Henry, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I’m the Chief Executive Officer at the Town of Gawler. I commenced this role in February 2012.

    The role is both challenging and rewarding. Leading an organisation of 115 staff with a budget of approximately $25m has its diverse scope of issues and responsibilities. It's all about team work and getting the best out of people (both staff and elected members) to make positive contribution’s to the local community.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I’ve worked in the local government sector for nearly 25 years. I’ve worked in eight councils over this time period in various positions. Being a qualified town planner, I started my career as a development assessment officer, then progressed into planning policy.

    Having decided that I wanted to ‘broaden my mind’, I studied business management which then took me on journey with various management roles in councils. Prior to commencing my role as CEO at Gawler I held general manager positions at the City of Charles Sturt and Mount Barker Council respectively, both of which were fun times and held me in good stead for my current position.

    I  thank both Andrew Stuart and Mark Withers for their years of support and mentoring over this period.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    Having studied Town Planning at Uni, working in local government was a natural first move for many in the field. Over the years I increasingly enjoyed working in councils where it was about more than just conventional planning and development matters.

    The capacity to participate in multi discipline teams to create and form communities was initially a key force in me realising that councils existed in a dynamic and ever changing context which I could influence. So I’ve stayed.

    When exploring my interest in management I found again that by understanding and studying business and people, better outcomes could be achieved.  Not ever thinking at the time that I would be a CEO, an opportunity presented itself and I decided to apply for the challenge.

    It has been a great three years at Gawler.

    You’ve recently been appointed to the LG Professionals Australia, SA Board, starting after the AGM.  What did you know about LG Professionals Australia, SA prior to your appointment - and what motivated you to nominate for the board?
    I have been a beneficiary of the LG Professionals SA services for some years now, having appreciated the support services they provide the sector.

    I have been wanting to be more active for some time and  the time is now right for me to join the board and assist in working to progress the strategic direction of the organisation and help it continue to positively influence the sector grow over the coming period.

    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Local government is so diverse. As a CEO you deal with the whole spectrum of issues and people.  The capacity to see things on the ground is a real ‘buzz’. To know that you can really make a difference if you put your heart and soul  into it is what drives me and keeps me excited about going to work.

    Also, the people I work with currently and who I have had the pleasure of working with over the years have made the work all the more pleasurable. There’s a real feeling that we are all part of a collective and the competition that does exist between councils at times is constructive and to everyone’s benefit in the long term.

    Gawler is poised for rapid growth  – what challenges and opportunities does this present?
    From a community creation perspective the challenges are very much about ensuring urban growth that is occurring progresses as naturally as possible and new residents establish real links to the existing community. We don’t want the 'them' and 'us' dynamics setting in.

    As with many growth areas around the state, central to our current planning and policy initiatives relative to growth is to ensure the timely provision of infrastructure to meet current and future needs such as conventional roads, reserves, community services etc, but also, and just as importantly, council  advocating on behalf of the community for services and facilities that the State and or Federal Governments, private and non-for profit sectors are responsible for.

    The organisational challenges are to ensure we have the right mix and level of skill sets throughout the organisation to meet both today's and tomorrow's challenges. A key focus area at the moment at  ‘Team Gawler’ is to better understand our culture and to strive for a more constructive and supportive team dynamic- we are getting there.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where would you like to be in 5 years?
    It's been a successful first three years at Gawler. I’m sure the next few years will be just as exciting and I’ll continue to make a contribution in building a strong and constructive organisation.  There are no plans to move on. There’s too much to do here at Gawler.

    Do you have an embarrassing 'local government moment'?
    Happy to share a couple of stories with my colleagues over a few drinks. I’ll leave it at that I think.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Time is precious. Having a young family, it's all about finding time to be at home and watching Alice (8), Lily (7) and Tomas (5) grow up.

    I’ve also got jobs to do on the weekends as instructed by Susie, my wife, which doesn’t leave much time left over. But when I do have a few spare minutes, catching up with friends for a meal and a few drinks always helps to keep things in perspective.

  • 22 Sep 2015 4:29 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Emma Morgan, Executive Assistant to the CEO at City of Charles Sturt.

    Emma is also the chair of the LG Professionals SA Women's Network.  She shares her visions for the future of the network and also speaks about her experience at Charles Sturt.

    Hi Emma - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Executive Assistant to the CEO at City of Charles Sturt which involves making sure that the office of the CEO runs smoothly in every way.  This includes fielding enquiries from residents, elected members and staff and investigating matters to ensure that the appropriate action is taken, not to mention the usual diary and correspondence management.  I’m also responsible for the administration of one of Council’s grant programs and find assisting community groups to deliver their initiatives is one of the more rewarding aspects of the role.

    Where were you working prior to your current position and what attracted you to the role?
    I was at Australian Rail Track Corporation for one year and prior to that I’d been at City of Marion for four years after many years in a variety of industries, always in an EA role.  My brief stint back out in the private sector made me realise that local government is where I wanted to be long-term.

    For you, what is the most satisfying thing about working in local government?
    Being able to help members of the community.  I also find the variety of things I’m exposed to in local government makes for an interesting career.  It’s a constant learning curve.

    You’re the current chair of the Women’s Network.  What do you see as the main role of this network – and who should get involved?  What are the 3 main things you hope to achieve in the next 12 months for the network - and what have you been most proud of so far?
    The main role of the network is to provide opportunities for women in local government to network and/or gain development and training.  The three main things I hope to achieve with the committee in the next 12 months are:
    - Continue to empower women by giving them different opportunities to network, build their knowledge and confidence, develop their careers and share their experiences - the challenge here is to keep it fresh and tap into the current areas of appeal to women
    - Extending more training opportunities to regional councils
    - Encouraging more women in local government to self-nominate for Awards.
    And the thing I’m most proud of so far is the annual conference we’ve put together this year which will be taking place on 23 October.  We have a great line up of speakers exploring some really interesting topics.

    You are the EA to the CEO – what are the challenges of this role and what advice would you have for others wanting to pursue a similar career?
    I often deal with disgruntled residents who’ve escalated their complaint to the CEO’s office.  By the time they get to me they’re usually very unhappy!  So one of the challenges is the ability to develop a thick skin and grit your teeth when they’re extremely rude and insist that they’re paying your wages because they pay their council rates!  The role also requires the utmost confidentiality so it can also be challenging when you’re privy to a lot of information and you need to field questions from staff or elected members in a diplomatic way.  I’d advise those wanting to pursue a similar career to speak to somebody already in the role to get a better understanding of what’s involved and to seek training to help develop the appropriate skills.

    EA’s to CEO’s ‘see it all’ and are well placed to be involved in just about every aspect of the organisation.  Do you see yourself staying in that role long term or using it as a springboard into other areas of local government or management?
    I really enjoy my role, exactly because of the fact that I’m involved in all areas of the organisation and it’s so diverse, so yes I do see myself staying in it long term.

    Can you share a funny ‘local government moment?’ (Names can be changed to protect the innocent!)
    I’ve sat through a few funny council and committee meetings, but probably the less said about that the better!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I enjoy catching up with friends over a nice meal and glass of wine, reading, cooking and travelling, as well as playing the piano and flute.

  • 19 Aug 2015 4:29 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Rebecca Tappert, Manager, Administrative Services for the Barossa Council.

    Rebecca has also been a business owner, an elected member, a participant in the Rural Management Challenge and a recent graduate of the Professional Leader's Program (PLP).  She shares her thoughts and insights on local government, the Rural Challenge and the PLP.

    Hi Rebecca - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Manager Administrative Services. My portfolio consists of leadership of the customer service team, management of our 19 external section 41 committees (!), management of Council’s Lease and Licence Agreements with many varied sporting and community groups, liaison with elected members through the facilitation of event management and community requests and various project / administration programs working with most internal groups of Council.

    I have always been a 'Jack of all trades' and while there is scope for specialty areas within local government, this role enables me to have lots of variety and breadth of focus areas which is something that really appeals to me.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    After 12 years in banking and finance with Adelaide Bank in IT projects and risk management Roles, I left the bank and moved to the Barossa to start a small business with my husband, BakerST Bakery in Williamstown.

    We have run our little shop for 8 ½ years now and only recently worked out that in that time, we have employed 25 locals! Something we are really proud of. Through my work at the bakery and involvement in the local 'main street committee', I was encouraged to run for the 2010 election and to my surprise, I was a successful candidate!

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    My time as an elected member for council was fulfilling and just what I was looking for to give back to the community in which I was quickly becoming a part of. In fact, the passion for local government has only grown since then.

    After 2 years as an elected member, the opportunity for my role came up and after a very rigorous recruitment, I resigned as a member and was appointed to the staff.

    You were a participant in the Rural Challenge - and then went on to be a part of the Professional Leaders Program.  Can you comment on what prompted you to be part of the Challenge and then enrol in the PLP? 
    Having the privilege of wearing many hats (as lots of us do) has provided me with great grounding to have a community member, business owner, EM and staff perspective when looking at opportunities and always having the customer/community central to everything I do.

    For me, the Rural Management Challenge was a great opportunity to learn more about different areas of council that I had not been exposed to before. During the Challenge, based on a fictional council, we dealt with with unsightly premises, a workplace fatality and media controversy from an over exuberant Mayor!

    While we didn’t come away with the win that year, the team based working style was great to be part of.

    I had a great time on the PLP! The group of participants this year were great to work with and again, I got so much from hearing about other perspectives and problem solving techniques from different communities to my own.

    My favourite session was the strategic planning session, as The Barossa Council commences its Community Plan development, it has been great to mirror the learning from the PLP direct into working life. The challenge now is to decide if I continue on with any further study!

    What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Working with community members that results in constructive positive outcomes is what I find really rewarding.

    Being able to sell the benefits of an opportunity, whether it be to a community or sporting group or the elected members through a Council report and seeing that translate to real life implementation, drives satisfaction all round.

    The ever present challenge (whether perceived or not!) of council 'red tape' and actually making things happen, puts a smile on everyone’s face. Working with my customer service team to develop their skills and local government knowledge is also motivating for me, and hopefully them too!

    Speaking about your current role - people often think of the challenges in local government as being how to continue to service their changing communities - but how do you see the impact of greater legislation and focus on the administrative 'engine' of councils?  What are the key issues that councils will face?
    As I mentioned above, part of my role is interpreting that legislation and process for real community outcomes. I often say to community members, provide me with the information of your request and I’ll guide you through the process. I  guess together, we both have expertise in the outcome. They know what they want to achieve, I have to find a way to help them achieve it!

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    I am really enjoying my role in the Barossa for now, who would want to leave such an amazing, community, food, wine, experience orientated place? And The Barossa Council? The culture is right in alignment with what I enjoy going to work for. So unless we have any more directors retire in the next five years….I don't think I am going anywhere!!!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I spend it with my husband and two boys, 11 and 8 who are footy mad. Between Barossa District Football Club commitments and our 2 weekly visits to the 'Portress', it leaves just about enough time for the vegie garden and mountain bike riding around the Southern Barossa!

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