The LG Professionals SA Blog

  • 20 Apr 2018 12:58 PM | Deleted user
    Sue Miller

    We spoke to LG Professionals, SA member and Executive Assistant to CEO & Mayor at Mount Barker District Council, Sue Miller on building, managing and protecting her personal brand.

    What is your brand and how have you come to establish it to what it is today?

    My brand is my reputation and my ability to influence. Protecting it is incredibly important to me. I’ve established it by being informed, consistent, ethical and kind. My brand gives me confidence to act with purpose and be self-directed, especially when I’m under pressure. I believe my brand is built upon value adding for my community and helping my colleagues achieve that outcome, too. I don’t just show up, I show up joyful.

    What were the benefits of doing the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) and what has that led to?

    The ELP reinforced for me the value of reflection, as it has a strong focus on emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and understanding how underlying assumptions impact on decision making and team processes. I enjoyed working through my Team Management Profile, and articulating my story, including future planning. My CEO supporting my participation, and including me in our Leadership Group (third level managers) despite my not having any direct reports, has given me professional courage, which gives me a more strategic outlook, and in turn strengthens my ability to deliver and execute ideas.

    I encourage conversations around the potential EAs have, to influence within council and be agents for change. Having done the ELP in 2015, I recognise EAs are strong in the areas of emotional intelligence and relationship management, and recommend managers give thought to what could be achieved by exposing EAs to leadership training.

    I am fortunate to work with managers and colleagues who trust my judgement and give me opportunities to be involved in projects and expand my influence without delegated or positional authority.

    Personal brand and the influence it has had on people, the workplace and council

    My preferred working style is one of being in the background, but I now appreciate I have a responsibility to my colleagues, community and self to share my experience and knowledge, because I have learnt the most, and developed professionally the most, from others who have done just that with me. In 2014 I established our Administrative Excellence Group (AEG), comprised of PAs to GMs and administrative officers at Mount Barker District Council, to share knowledge and experience. I try to promote via AEG a collaborative, rather than competitive, mindset.

    I have in the past done an intervention to the CEO with a PA colleague when we saw that a project had the potential to seriously impact on one of council’s external communication tools. This was risky, but because of my brand, my presence in his office suggested I would not have been there asking for this course of action if it wasn’t important. This reinforced my brand, my capacity for problem solving, the extent of my influence, and the quality of my relationships. I have been able to preserve relationships across council because my brand reinforces that my motivation is to provide a direct community benefit.

    In July last year Mount Barker District Council jointly hosted with Adelaide Hills Council a meeting of the Local Government Chief Officers’ Group (comprised of CEOs/GMs in LG from across Australia and New Zealand). Our CEO, Andrew Stuart, asked me to be part of the meeting and share my experience navigating the Mayor/CEO relationship – the duality of the role and the political mindset. Addressing 83 CEOs from across the country was very high risk in terms of reputational damage if I fluffed it, but I took courage from Andrew’s faith in my brand. I figured if I’m going to fail, fail spectacularly! I proposed the LG COG establish a national Executive Assistants group, which was supported. I was honoured and humbled that Mount Barker hosted 53 Executive Assistants from Australia and New Zealand at the inaugural Local Government Chief Officers’ Group Executive Assistants’ Alliance (LG COG EAA) meeting on 12 April, and it will be an annual event.

    “My brand is my reputation and my ability to influence. Protecting it is incredibly important to me.”

    My legacy. What is yours?

    A member of my immediate family has been undergoing treatment for a serious illness, which has generated many discussions around what kind of legacy this person will leave (personally and professionally).

    Our AEG is my professional legacy, as is the inaugural LG COG EAA.

    Having leaders in our organisation who are willing to educate and coach, guide and encourage EAs and PAs to be involved to a greater level in delivering on their objectives is another. Without this, the level of effective support to colleagues to enable them to deliver measurable community benefit is perhaps diminished, and the real potential of EAs/PAs may not be realised.

    Changing mind models around administrative roles I hope will be another legacy. EA networks and administrative roles have the potential to be levers in mitigating silos in councils. Perhaps the unrecognised power of EA networks lies in keeping the boundaries of teams flexible, particularly as our council grows. I hope EAs and managers recognise EAs are well placed to move between silos, translating messages in non-technical language up, down and sideways. You do need specialist areas, but as EAs we are well-positioned to see overlaps, underlaps and issues falling between the cracks.

    Inspire and encourage others to think more about their brand

    Trust, delegation and communication flows from management, and is often facilitated by EAs/PAs. Working relationships don’t just happen – they take time and investment. Please consider investing in your administrative personnel’s professional development and building their brand. Hopefully they also recognize it’s critical to remaining relevant and building their reputation. In our council, pressure from growth means a higher degree of flexibility and professionalism is required from our AEG.

    As EAs we have advisory rather than operational responsibilities; we provide a valuable service to others; it’s difficult to measure our performance in productivity terms and justify expenditure associated with training – generally we are facilitating the productivity of others!

    If you have an assistant who you think value-adds, please acknowledge their contribution by being their champion and supporting their professional development, and encouraging involvement in projects – it will ensure credibility and build capacity in council.

    If you are inspired by Sue’s story, her commitment and passion towards her role, we encourage you to connect with Sue on LinkedIn.

  • 27 Mar 2018 1:25 PM | Anonymous

    There are many initiatives that city planners introduce to attract people to use public transport.

    Free transport within certain zones, restricting car access, air-conditioned buses and trams, extensive public transport routes, new light rail lines and more.

    But with all this in place – why are some major cities declining in public transport use?

    The City of Perth has just recorded a drop in public transport use for the fifth year in a row.

    And Perth is not alone.  While capital cities (not surprisingly) see the largest share of public transport use, many are also seeing consistent declines across the world as well as in Australia.

    New York City’s subway system has posted its first dip in ridership since 2009, according to data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The news follows a news week full of reported transit passenger declines in Los Angeles and San Francisco. And, for years, nearly every city in the U.S. (with a few notable exceptions) has posted negative percent changes, too. (Citylab, 2017)

    It seems many people still prefer the relative privacy and personal space afforded by private vehicles.

    Many predict the fast-approaching option of self-driving vehicles may be another solution – offering the convenience of a taxi or bus with the privacy of a private vehicle.  Will this trend also take away from the existing public transport pool?
    Read more about the decline of public transport in Perth (and the likely reasons) here.

  • 26 Mar 2018 12:56 PM | Anonymous

    It’s hard to achieve anything significant without goals. I suppose it’s theoretically possible, but it hardly ever happens.

    Some time ago it was commonplace for managers to have slogans on their office wall.  A popular one was a big poster with the words “Conceive – Believe – Achieve.” A quote from Napoleon Hill, Author of Think and Grow Rich.

    At the time many thought this was a bit over the top, having something like that on the office wall, but now it makes sense.

    It was a constant reminder that you can't achieve anything significant without first planning what success looks like to you.

    You have to want to achieve something, so first you need to conceive it, and to do so, you need to think about why you want to achieve it.

    In other words, you need to set goals. And for goals to work, they need to be SMART.

    What are SMART goals?

    Specific – not vague. “Host more community events” is vague, “Host more community events in the Parklands” is specific.

    Measurable – “More events” is not measurable. “three more events” is measurable.

    Achievable – goals must be achievable – you have to believe you can do it.

    Relevant – goals must be relevant to you and your interests, your lifestyle, and in this case career.   

    Timely – goals should have a time frame. “Host three community events by June 30” is specific and measurable, whereas “host three community events” has no timeframe for achievement.

    Then, you have to believe that you can reach your goal.

    If you want a promotion, more responsibility, widen your networks - that's not just going to happen by itself.

    But if you have SMART goals it will become clearer what you need to do to reach your objectives.

    This is when you will, consciously or unconsciously, start to work on HOW you will get there, be it accessing more training, seeking opportunities for more development, gaining more experience and so on.  

    This approach is far from new. Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937, and others have followed similar concepts. The popular book (and movie), The Secret (2006) was along the same lines. And Norman Vincent Peale wrote “the power of positive thinking” in 1952 along a similar theme.

    The concept is this - visualise the desired outcome, (your goal) and you will develop actions to work towards it.

    Some people think it’s a bit “smoke and mirrors” and all you have to do is wish for something and it will happen.

    Actually, the power of these books is that they help clarify what you really want to achieve, and if sufficiently motivated, you will almost automatically start seeking opportunities and activities that will move you toward achievement of your goal.

    So, if you acknowledge what your goals are, and have implemented the SMART goals strategy, then you can achieve what you set out to do.

    Programs like the LG Professionals, SA Emerging Leaders Program can be very useful in assisting people to achieve their career goals by providing a targeted program of professional development, training, networking and experience.

    The LG Professionals, SA Leadership Excellence Awards recognise outstanding achievement in the local government sector.

    These awards serve to not only recognise, but to inspire and encourage others through the sharing of ideas and best-practice approaches.

    And certainly, achievements should be both recognised and celebrated. It is celebration that cements positive outcomes, teamwork and the knowledge that hard work and determination reaps rewards.

    We applaud all those who set out to achieve, specifically in local government and look forward to celebrating the achievements in the sector at the 17th Annual Leadership Excellence Gala Awards.


  • 09 Feb 2018 8:49 AM | Deleted user

    Author: Matthew Gordon, OurSay

    Turn the digital space from something many organisations fear into a great opportunity. 

    We operate in an era where influence with the traditional gatekeepers in media and government no longer guarantees the reputation of an organisation.

    Public sector organisations need to approach their communications holistically, in a way that not only understands the traditional requirements of issues management and government relations but equally recognises the empowered digital citizen and online communities.

    We understand that many public sector organisations are struggling to find the right strategic direction to engage with their communities in the digital domain. The challenge is to develop strategies and capabilities that make your digital engagement economically sustainable in the long term.

    Register for Workshop 1: Communicating the value of the local government cause and Workshop 2: Going from opinion to ownership.

    Those organisation which demonstrate the most passion for new media will be best placed to harness their reputation and positively interact with their communities. Those organisations which don’t, will fail.

    The social media train wrecks that litter the corporate landscape mainly occur because most communications advice is still based on an outdated 20th century paradigm. The key will be found in developing multifaceted and integrated communications strategies incorporating both “new” and “traditional” media.

    Once harnessed public organisations will be able to deal with a range of situations from the hostile local newspaper editor through to developing an advocacy campaign to boost funding for community projects.

    The first next step to this journey is taking the temperature of your organisation and equipping it with surefooted, affordable advice and expertise to turn the digital space from something many organisations fear into a great opportunity to positively cement your place- and reputation- in the eyes of the community.

    Download the brochure for the full details of our Engaging Citizens Series running from 15 February - 21 June 2018.

  • 27 Oct 2017 1:26 AM | Anonymous

    As part of the Australasian Management Challenge each year, teams are required to complete a pre-challenge task.

    In 2017, this task was designed so that teams would need to work with their organisations and management to conduct community consultation on a real issue, and make recommendations. 

    Alexandrina was one of the teams in SA that worked on a consultation exercise that was so successful, it actually received council funding to become a real project.

    We spoke with Colin Shackleford of the Alexandrina team - Alexandrina STEAM.

    Hi Colin - thanks for speaking to us about your pre-challenge task.

    How did you choose the subject for your pre-challenge task in 2017?
    We looked at several real scenarios that required public consultation and short listed 3 projects based on their social impact and urgency. We then met with our Executive Management team and presented the three options for their consideration.

    The Skate Park project was an issue of public safety and potentially poor PR for Council so it was the preferred option.

    How did you get management involved?
    By involving senior management in the project selection process we gained their support and buy-in. It helped that the project was already listed with the Community Wellbeing Manager so we had access to the right team for support.

    How did you engage the community?
    We arranged a pop-up event at the Skate Park with a free sausage sizzle to encourage people along to tell us their views on the facility. We also linked with another Community Wellbeing OPAL event at a local park and set up a booth to hand out surveys and record people’s views about the Skate Park.

    Council uses the MySay online consultation tool so we set up the survey on that platform and also used Facebook to gather feedback. Overall we had more than 7000 responses in one form or another.

    Although the pre-challenge task could have been just based on a hypothetical project or issue, what was the end outcome at Alexandrina?
    The project was initially given to me as a problem that needed to be solved with the preferred outcome being the closure of the Skate Park. Instead, the overwhelming public response was to improve the facility and address the public safety issues as it was considered to be an excellent Skate Park.

    Did you end up actually delivering the project in reality? How did that happen?
    As a result of the public response, we formed a “Friends of the Goolwa Skate Park” group and created a project plan to address the facility and security issues.

    We also applied for grant funding to add a toilet, improve the landscaping, add security cameras, install new signage and decorate the bowl with professional street art. We received $40,000 to create the street art and beautify the bowl. The remaining works will be subject to a Council budget request for next financial year.

    What was your experience of the Management Challege in general? How did your team members benefit from the experience?
    I found it to be quite a challenge in several ways. Firstly, it was difficult to commit the time required as an operational manager with a broad portfolio and I needed to make sure that I did not simply join the group as a “manager” and play that role. Also, I did not really understand what was required so it was a bit daunting to begin with.

    I really enjoyed the experience of being part of a new team and sharing my abilities but also learning about each team member and gaining valuable insights from them about their area of work and life experience.

    It certainly broadened my understanding of Council and our governance processes even after being in Local Government for nearly 20 years. I really found out how much I did not know and I think this was the same for the other team members.

    We covered areas right outside of our comfort zones but we became a very strong, focused and supportive team. We had a broad age and experience range within our team and this gave us a unique dynamic which could have worked against us but instead proved to be vey beneficial.

    Would you encourage other councils to participate in the Management Challenge and especially put in the time and effort to get real value from the pre-challenge task?
    I would highly recommend the challenge to other Councils and in particular, ensure that the pre-challenge tasks are real scenarios that can benefit the Council and community beyond the Challenge activity.

    You can view a short video outlining Alexandrina's pre-challenge task here.

  • 26 Oct 2017 12:05 PM | Anonymous

    Looking back and learning from the past is a bit like time travel (well, without the fun, Back to the Future style ACTUAL time travel…)

    But it is fun – and can be very beneficial.

    To help us look back – and forward - imagine there are three versions of you. There’s the past you, the current you and the future you.
    Let’s call them the yesterday you, the today you and the tomorrow you.

    To illustrate how this works here’s a couple of examples.

    When you go out and have a few too many drinks and stay out far too late – the today you is having a great time but the tomorrow you will suffer.

    Conversely, when you diet to lose weight or workout in the gym – the today you puts in extra effort but the tomorrow you will thank you for it.

    It’s the same with our work life.

    Goal setting and planning
    By looking forward and setting goals on where we want be in terms of career, health, family and more we can see what we need to do to get there.

    We can see what the today you needs to do, to make sure the tomorrow you achieves what we have set out.

    Taking the time for professional development - attending a course or program, learning a new software package or reading about the latest developments in our industry will put extra time pressure on the today you but the tomorrow you will reap the benefits.

    So think about where you want to be in the future – what does your tomorrow you life look like? How does that compare to the today you? What are the steps you need to get there?

    Sometimes, looking back can help too.

    Reflection – not obsession!
    What can the yesterday you teach you about today, or tomorrow?

    Or to put it another way – if you could talk to your yesterday you what would you advise them? Sometimes thinking about it in this way helps us to distil the learnings from past experiences.

    The idea of reflection on the past is not to dwell on every ‘sliding door’ moment and obsess about what could have been– that’s not healthy!

    But you can reflect on the way you handled things, examine what you did right and wrong so you can do better next time.

    'Fail early and often' is a saying that is based on these same principles. Failing early and often gives you plenty of opportunities to learn from your mistakes and make incremental improvements (like the continuous improvement ‘Kaizen’ article we spoke about in last month’s newsletter).

    So don’t let your yesterday you go to waste, learn from their experience so your tomorrow you can do just a little better next time.

    And next time you’re out for a big night, spare just a thought for the long suffering, tomorrow you

  • 24 Oct 2017 3:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our team found the Rural Management Challenge provides a safe environment in which to experiment, try something new, step outside of your comfort zone, work with colleagues you might not ordinarily work with and network.

    In preparation for challenge day our team identified that we wanted to learn, grow and have fun by participating. We learnt about our own work styles, how we interacted as a team and how we could effectively work with each other to achieve team and personal goals. On challenge day we managed to achieve these goals and the benefits will continue long after challenge day.

    Our perspectives on council have broadened, we have built our confidence and are starting to do things we might not have previously thought possible! We are all using the energy, enthusiasm and new skills we gained from participating in our day to day. Now when 'problems' happen at work, we tend to see them more as challenges and apply the same techniques and mindset we used on the challenge day to solve the issue.

    We joked the challenge was like Top Gun school for councils! It certainly was a day of pushing ourselves, flying high and having a lot of fun along the way.

    Wattle Range Wranglers

    2017 Rural Management Challenge winners

  • 26 Aug 2017 8:26 AM | Anonymous

    "Take a day out of the office? Me? You've got to be kidding - I'm so flat out that I don't have time to focus on my own development. In fact the last three things my HR manager has booked me on, I've ended up cancelling."

    If this is you - or even sounds a bit like you - and be honest - you need help!

    Turning your back on your own professional development restricts your ability to plan and think - and importantly, to keep up to date with new approaches or ideas.

    People who are too focused on the tasks at hand can be a bit like this:

    So how can you keep up to date with the latest trends and innovations - and work on your own development?

    6 tips for taking time to focus on your own development in local government
    1.    Recognise that your own development is important. Like going to the gym, you’ll always put it off if you don’t see the big picture – in this case, recognise the importance and potential benefits to your career of ongoing development.

    2.    Make a set time each week (or day) to focus on it. Set aside time and mark this time out in your diary. Make it a habit to spend time on this activity.

    3.    Read voraciously. Read articles and books about innovation in your own industry but also other industries too. Consider how lessons learned elsewhere can apply to your role in local government. Many successful CEO’s have a target of reading at least one book each week.

    4.    Take advantage of technology – join relevant groups on LinkedIn, watch educational videos on YouTube and attend relevant webinars. Information has been made very ‘bite sized’ so many of these activities will take very little time - but will deliver huge rewards in terms of information and learning.

    5.    Attend relevant courses and programs to build your skills. Ongoing learning is vital to ensure your skills stay current and that you continue to grow and add value to your organisation (or, the next organisation you work for!)

    6.    Always take opportunities to network with your peers to gain new ideas and strengthen personal and professional associations. Where possible, join an existing network that meet regularly to share ideas and information.

    Read more about LG Professionals, SA’s programs and networks

  • 26 Mar 2017 2:57 PM | Anonymous

    We chat with Ella Winnall, Community Services Coordinator, Berri Barmera Council, about an idea that was fostered during her participation in the ELP and PLP - which has now culminated in the first ever SA Regional Tourism Summit. (16-18 May 2017)

    Hi Ella - please tell us about the Regional Tourism Summit.
    The Riverland Tourism Industry and the South Australian Tourism Commission are inviting representatives of local government (both staff and elected members), visitor information centres and tourism businesses to come together for the first ever SA Regional Tourism Summit.

    It is a diverse three-day program of high calibre speakers and professional development opportunities, off-site study tours and networking sessions. For all the details head to to download a program.

    What do you hope to achieve through the summit?
    We hope to bring together all parts of the tourism industry together to foster better collaboration and understanding in the industry, especially for local government delegates. We have lots of events in the tourism world which are delivered to just one part of the industry, and we felt it important to have business owners, senior managers, visitor information centre coordinators, and elected members in the same room to cross pollinate ideas. We have chosen to keep our content realistic and practical for councils who want to get better value from their tourism investment. 

    What councils are involved - and why?
    From the start we have had support from all four Riverland Councils (Berri Barmera Council, Renmark Paringa Council, District Council of Loxton Waikerie and Mid Murray Council) to make the event happen. Together with Destination Riverland and the SATC, the Summit has been a collaborative effort. Our councils invest heavily in tourism in one way or another, whether it be funding regional marketing through Destination Riverland, operating visitor information centres and museums or providing facilities for visitors.

    The councils in the Riverland see tourism as key to their economic development goals, and work well together to promote the whole district as a tourist destination rather than just one town. Our councils felt this was a great opportunity to showcase to the rest of the state some of the initiatives the region has delivered, and create a platform for a much needed cross-industry discussion about the future of tourism (and local government’s involvement in it).

    What are the highlights - who's speaking - and what about?
    Day one has some amazing guest speakers, including SATC Destination Development  Director Nick Jones, marketing guru Dan Gregory, and brothers Duane Major & Adam Gardner from NZ who crowdfunded about $2million to buy a private beach in NZ and return it to the public.

    We also have Sean Keenihan speaking at our final dinner, to talk all things economic development and SA tourism.

    I am looking forward most to our day two choose your own adventure study tours, with morning and afternoon tours taking you on-site to see first hand how some of our local success stories have worked. You can learn about local government’s role in tourism, how to measure your events, sustainable accommodation projects, food and wine tourism, even eco tourism, it’s up to you!

    Who should attend and why?
    Tourism & Economic development staff, event staff, senior management, and elected members are all encouraged to attend. In particular, we want to see some delegates from other regional areas. It’s not often an event of this calibre is delivered on a level which is achievable for smaller councils, or councils with small tourism investment so it’s a good opportunity for them to come without feeling out of their depth. Because of the style of our summit allowing delegates to choose what they want to attend, it means we are having councils register a few staff from different levels to all get what they want out of it. Registrations close mid April so sign your council up asap so you don’t miss out.

    How will you measure the success of the event? - and are you planning this to be an annual event?
    It’s pretty rare to get all of the right heads together to do something like this, with industry, local government, marketing bodies and state government all making it happen – so that in itself says a lot about the event’s success. All we need now is for delegates to come and it to spark some really good initiatives around the whole state.

    We aren’t sure whether this will happen again. If there is enough interest in it this year, we think it could be done every second year in conjunction with the regional visitor information centre managers conference – but that will be a conversation for another region’s councils to take it on. We sure hope it starts something for the state!

    Since you are a recent graduate of the PLP (Professional Leaders Program) and ELP (Emerging Leaders Program) - is there anything you learned during the ELP or PLP (or any relationships you made) that have in some way contributed to your work on this Regional Summit?  If so, in what way?
    I honestly couldn’t be doing this without the lessons I learnt in the ELP and PLP. It’s a huge undertaking to take on, and having the confidence to do it was a direct result of those programs. I actually started the conversations about this project while doing the ELP, and secured the key stakeholders in the middle of the PLP. The professional connections I made in both the programs were key to the success of the project, particularly with developing content, securing speakers and finding sponsors.

    Both the PLP and ELP gave me a better understanding of the issues facing councils across the state, which was great to know that it wasn’t just us – and a state wide approach is warranted.

    Both of the programs also gave me access to some insightful speakers like Sean Keenihan, who was all too happy to speak at our event when I approached him about the concept. I also think the help and generosity of sponsors like LGRS and LG Professionals, SA probably wouldn’t be afforded to me if I was trying to make contact without any connection or knowledge of the organisations.

    In addition to this, the networks I made within the program have helped me so much, even if it has just been to send the program onto the right people in their councils – that’s such a help.

  • 26 Mar 2017 2:38 PM | Anonymous

    'Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.'
    ― Isaac Asimov

    Many job descriptions include a requirement of 'attention to detail'.

    But what does that mean? 

    Essentially it means the job role is ideally suited to someone who has the patience and care to research and read thoroughly, fully understand what is required and to produce quality work inclusive of the correct level of detail, in all aspects of the role.

    Often we speak about attention to detail in writing reports – ensuring there are no spelling errors for example.

    But it also extends to understanding the issues at hand – taking the time to investigate thoroughly all the requirements and acting accordingly. A good example in local government is community engagement- where a detail-focused person will take the time to consider all the impacts and therefore seek input from all the relevant stakeholders – rather than assuming.

    Here’s an example. What do you see here?

    I love Paris in the Springtime...?

    No – if you read it again – you'll notice the word “the” is repeated.

    Here’s another example that will test your attention to detail.  It’s an interesting test based on an experiment developed by John Ridley Stroop way back in 1935.  In fact it’s called the “Stroop effect”

    Try to say, our loud, the colour of the each word…

    Not easy is it? 

    It takes time to process.  Just as it takes time to understand each situation in local government - the needs of the ratepayers, the residents, local businesses, the Elected Members – and of course your manager. 

    Often it’s a balancing act but being able to focus on the detail and use patience to ensure everything is considered will go a long way. 

    And of course, never assume you know the answer….

Mailing Address:  5 Hauteville Tce EASTWOOD SA 5063   Phone: 8291-7990;   Fax: 8451-1568   Email:

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