Councillor profiles - Rachel Chambers Mayor of North Burnett Regional Council
The North Burnett perhaps is different to many other local government areas due to its lack of a true centre. Ten years ago, six shires were amalgamated into one region, yet there was never a distinct regional centre declared. The towns are located geographically distant from each other which restricts ease of access for our community and as such we are left with managing community expectations within all six of our major townships.
I love the areas of the region which open up to spectacular vistas. We do a lot of driving in our region and it’s lovely to have such spectacular scenery.
Decided to act
I’ve been on council for coming up to two years…just a brief moment in time. I never had any desire to be a politician, however, like many of us do, I was a concerned community member who decided to do more than just talk about change.
Being mayor is certainly more than a full time job. I know many councillors have jobs, as contrary to popular belief the pay they receive (particularly in regional areas such as ours) necessitates another source of income, but I think in order to run almost a billion dollar organisation you need full time councillors to achieve desired outcomes.
Hmmm, all my life I have played social touch but since being elected my life has no routine and I’ve had to quit this activity as I just could never guarantee I’d be there. Outside of work hours I now like to rest, do very little and be with my family and friends.
Council goals, challenges and achievements
Sustainability versus community expectations is Council’s key challenge. We have fewer than 7000 ratepayers, 20,000-sq-km, 7 wastewater treatment plants, 5 swimming pools and the list goes on. How do we pay all the bills when our income is so low? How do we deliver liveability in regional areas when we don’t have the rate base of our city cousins?
We are currently writing our innovation strategy. I am passionate that innovation doesn’t equal technology but instead is a different mindset - a mindset about doing things differently. We are including this mindset in everything we are doing. We are currently working on a “one team” project which seeks to break down silos across departments, towns and communities and instead work together to achieve outcomes. Sounds simple doesn’t it?
I’m really proud that I have been able to lead the organization to think differently about our decision making. We have a new department called Strategy, Innovation and Assets as we have recognized that data should drive our decision making and not political whim.
The variety in everyday life and the ability to be a part of planning for the future of an area.
…and the worst of it
Public life. You are always Mayor, 24/7.
Looking into the future
I would love to be known as an inspirational leader who brought strategy and planning to the organization so we could more effectively accomplish the aspirations of our stakeholders. We have so much to achieve and I look forward to one day looking back on my time in government (however long that may be) with a smile and a glass of wine knowing I did the absolute best I could.