Mentoring program helps develop rural councils

After just five months, participation in a mentoring program has produced tangible results for a Southern Grampians Shire Council staff member and the organisation as a whole.

Daniel Pech, 27, the Senior Strategic Planner at the Shire has been taking part in the LGPro Mentoring Program after Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) sponsored three participants as part of a focus on building skills in land use planning and development.

Mr Pech said Hamilton was going through a period of physical and economic change, including the implementation of the Hamilton Structure Plan.

“My mentor has provided a valuable perspective on how to deal with change management externally, at a community level, and also internally at an organisational level.”

Mr Pech has been a Strategic Planner for three years and said while rural councils have an expectation that senior staff supervise and mentor others in similar roles, there is value in seeking outside perspectives and experiences.

“As I’m the only Strategic Planner at Southern Grampians Shire I leapt at the opportunity to take part in the LGPro Mentoring Program. I wanted to add to Council’s knowledge network and draw from someone with broader experiences than my own.

“We’ve been meeting regularly using distance tools such as Facetime and conference calls and it’s as much about personal development as it is professional development.”

Mr Pech said he and his mentor, Jane Homewood, General Manager Development at Frankston City Council, share a similar enthusiasm for their mentor-mentee relationship and have developed goals they want to work through.

“My mentor has been a great support to me in the five months we have been participating in the program so far.”

RCV Chair Councillor Rob Gersch said RCV approached LGPro to have member councils’ staff take part in the program as an RCV project identified a need to develop land use and economic development skills in rural councils.

“The main focus for Rural Councils Victoria is to contribute to sustainable and liveable rural communities. Land use development plays a big part in this, as does the ability to retain strategic and statutory planners. The relationship with LGPro around this program has already had benefits.”

Staff from East Gippsland Shire Council and the Northern Grampians Shire Council are also taking part in the LGPro Mentoring Program.

“We’ll assess the benefits of this pilot initiative and consider how we can extend it as early results are showing it is very beneficial,” Cr Gersch said.

RCV is a thought leader in developing sustainable and liveable rural communities.

RCV delivers projects to provide support and solutions on issues faced by the state’s 38 rural councils, with a vision to create rural communities with sustainable economies that contribute to the health, character and livability of Victoria.

Rural Councils Victoria supports this project with funding from the Victorian Government’s $3.3 million Networked Rural Councils program.