City Strategy Project Lead
Georges River Council
Tell us about how you started your career in local government?
I got my foot in the door by getting a 12 month temporary contract as Georges River Council’s Employee Engagement Officer, a new role created to strengthen internal communication and engagement and develop a Rewards and Recognition Program. Nine months in, I was then successful in gaining a full-time role as Council’s Community Engagement Officer, focusing on external engagement which I have a lot of experience in having worked prior at White Ribbon Australia in a relationship manager role.
Council created a new temporary Directorate - City Strategy and Innovation in December 2018 to position Council strategically in Greater Sydney through a focus on innovation and advocacy. Two year secondment positions became available and I was successful in a Senior Project Officer role, the role I’m currently in now and loving every minute of it. I’m leading projects in Kogarah, one of our strategic centres, to enhance the current health and education precinct through a strategic vision and direction for Council and improvement of the place through a collaborative process led by the Greater Sydney Commission.
What is the key to longevity in the sector?
Adaptability to change is crucial to the longevity of local government. Our cities are rapidly growing and densifying, our climate is changing and our assets are ageing. This brings a multitude of challenges for local government who are at the forefront of these issues. Increasing demand for services, pressure on existing assets and rapid technology change means councils need to reconsider traditional business models to respond quickly to changing needs and expectations from the community.
Gone are the days when councils are only responsible for the 3 R’s – roads, rates and rubbish.
What benefits have you enjoyed from your membership? Have you benefited from participation in any LG Professionals, NSW events or professional development opportunities?
Since joining in May 2019 as a Next Gen member, I’ve enjoyed the Webinar Wednesday series, the Next Gen network news and What’s On newsletters and I’ve just registered for the Next Gen Conference on 31 October where I’ll be getting to meet and network with fellow members.
What piece of advice do you want to share with others entering the sector?
Accept that things may move slowly, and it may feel as though you are trying to turn a tanker. Don’t feel discouraged and keep persevering, especially if what you are trying to achieve will deliver better outcomes for the community.
What do you wish that others knew about the work of council, that they are unaware of?
That councils also provide social infrastructure (sometimes at a loss) such as pools, libraries, galleries and theatres. These facilities can play a crucial role in providing a sense of community, enhancing wellbeing and helping to alleviate loneliness and social isolation. Also awareness that council’s provide grants to support community service providers and not-for-profit organisations such as women’s refuges, sporting organisations and cultural groups.
What do you wish would change about the way government works?
Moving away from ‘the way things have always been done’ and adopting fresh thinking and best practice – transforming and embedded new ways of doing things into problem solving, community engagement, service delivery and procurement. Innovation is now on the agenda of most councils, however often internal culture, IT architecture, governance and operating models inhibits the ability of an organisation to be truly innovative.
I also want to see a focus on attracting young talent and moving away from the desire to hire candidates who have government experience. Fresh perspectives and diverse experiences adds to the capability and resilience of an organisation.