The start of a new year is a perfect period to embark on new beginnings, and with that, it is time to announce this will be my last edition at Local Government Focus.

Throughout my two years here, I have learnt much about the workings of local governments: the challenges, the drives, and the sheer scope of responsibilities that councils undertake.

A highlight for me has been twice attending the National General Assembly in Canberra. Witnessing people from all corners of the country gathered in one place hammered home some positive truths about the sector. As the oft-repeated saying goes, local government is the level closest to the community, but, moreover, it is also the most representative thanks to the diversity of participants (which, although not perfect, runs rings around other government levels). In talking to all kinds of people at these events, a thread that consistently shines through is the enthusiasm and warmth that local government people have for their communities.

As a publication, Local Government Focus prides itself on featuring stories of best practice and innovation across the sector and highlighting the many, many inventive projects that councils big and small undertake every year.

This is clear in the breadth of the stories that I have enjoyed reporting in my time here: projects to reverse entrenched social disadvantage by Penrith and Burnie councils; a push to welcome migrants and improve the economic prospects of a small town in Hindmarsh Shire; a council-financed solar farm undertaken by the Sunshine Coast Council; and on and on and on. Another section of the paper I am fond of is the Councillor Profiles that we run each month. Learning about the individual drives and challenges of those who stand for council is illuminating, and the section acts as an ongoing record of the common themes that impact councils – whether that be the financial constraints of rural shires or the need to retain liveability and clean environments in urban areas.

Many thanks to everybody that has submitted stories or tips across these last two years. We appreciate every effort to get in touch with us, and always encourage your feedback and thoughts. Going forward, please direct all editorial enquiries to my colleague, Meredith Dahl, who will be eagerly awaiting your stories, comments and ideas.