Ellen Whittingstall is the Coordinator Governance Public Officer, City Corporate at Liverpool City Council and has been a member of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW since 2017. Ellen shares her professional journey and achievements in the local government sector.
Tell us about how you started your career in local government?
I started my career in Local Government with Rockdale City Council, working in the Land Information Unit as one of a two person team who set up the Geographic Information System for the Council.
What experiences, achievements or milestones have you been most proud of during your time working in the sector?
I think being respected in the sector is an achievement I am proud of.
I have completed a degree in Social Science Psychology and a diploma in Government Management (a hard slog whilst working full time).
But the stand out would have to be the people that I have worked with; those who have walked with me, supported and argued with me during 19 years in Local Government.
What benefits have you enjoyed from your membership? Have you benefited from participation in any LG Professionals, NSW events or professional development opportunities?
Being a member of LG Professionals has afforded me great networking opportunities. The network attracts likeminded people to exchange ideas and discuss strategies that will position local government as leaders in the community.
I was fortunate enough to be selected by LG Professionals to be a recipient of the international exchange program with the League of California Cities. I was hosted by the City of Milbrae in San Francisco - absolutely brilliant experience. My study tour was around the premise of privacy and social media (a hot topic in the media at present).
From your perspective, what are some of the challenges the local government sector is facing and how do you think the sector should respond?
Trust once lost is hard to regain. I think there is an element of mistrust of all levels of Government. Solid and meaningful communication must be achieved. Being transparent in what we do and why we do it, will help rebuild trust; own our mistakes and champion our achievements. Local Government does a great job in a difficult environment and I for one have great satisfaction in working towards my Council’s future success.
What is your best piece of advice to young professionals looking to build their career in the sector?
Believe in yourself; take a chance. Think of your career as a journey and you are in control as to the direction you want to take. Make mistakes, but see those mistakes as a learning opportunity. The only one that can make a change is you.