Changing face of Local Government

"With our emphasis clearly on change, Lismore City Council has undertaken a total reorganisation," said Ken Gainger, General Manager. "We are now recruiting people with specific expertise relevant to the changing face of Local Government."

He said that the reorganisation has resulted in staff working in four groups - Corporate and Community Services; Planning and Development; City Works; and a new area Business and Enterprise.

A key element of the change strategy is a focus on customer service. This has demanded a new approach in the management of Council's greatest resource, its people. A new recruiting process ensures staff with the necessary skills and expertise, and the best person for the job is appointed.

Regular performance evaluation for every position in the organisation and the payment of performance bonuses plus customer service training for all staff have the twofold benefit of residents receiving quality services, and employees greater job satisfaction.

"All 330 staff received information on how the new performance based system would operate and assist them in their careers," Ken Gainger explained. "Similarly, all supervisors and managers received necessary training to carry out performance evaluations."

As well as a salary bonus incentive to encourage improved productivity, each month one employee or a team of workers is recognised with an 'Employee of the Month' Award. Nominated by fellow workers, winners receive a $100 shopping voucher presented by the General Manager in the company of their peers at their workplace.

Working hand in hand with Council's focus on customer service is its accessibility. The key is openness, accountability and providing community input into the decision making process.

A regular fortnightly Community Access Forum is held at Council Chambers. In addition, on a number of occasions throughout the year, Councillors hold meetings in a rural or village area. With a population of 47,500, some 17,500 residents live in rural areas or one of the City's many villages.

A Public Access Session is also held prior to every Council Meeting. Up to eight people are allotted five minutes to speak on any item on the Business Paper for that evening. This is followed by Public Question Time which also enables people to raise any matter without notice with Councillors or staff.

"Following the very successful community consultation process, undertaken in formulating its 2020 Strategic Plan, Council is now looking to increase community involvement in decision making at all levels."