Community leadership in practice

During a hands on session, representatives from six Councils presented case studies of projects they are undertaking in the area of community leadership. An overview of each was presented to all delegates. In the following session, delegates were invited to attend one of the six more detailed coverages of these projects.

Presentations were made by Brisbane City Council; Maroondah City Council; Launceston City Council; Alice Springs Town Council and Jabiru; Deniliquin Council; and Belmont City Council.

Catering for differences

"With 1.4 million square kilometres, 180,000 people, one third being Indigenous Australians, isolation, cultural differences, a small population in a vast land all demand a flexible, tailor made form of Local Government to meet the needs of our communities," said Allan McGill, Town Clerk at Alice Springs Town Council.

He explained with six Municipal Councils, 31 Community Government Councils and 30 Incorporated Association Councils the emphasis is definitely on community leadership. Providing a wide range of services, often including health, education and utilities, the Northern Territory has developed a model of leadership that recognises differences.

The Councils themselves decide what services they will provide as this is not stipulated in the Local Government Act. Strong leadership is required by Councils in allocating resources for services usually not provided in other areas of Australia.

With limited resources, difficulties in attaining ongoing skills training and obligations as agencies for other spheres of government, the emphasis is on leadership styles and Council structures that recognise and cater for differences.

For further information contact Allan McGill, telephone (08) 8950 0500.

City of Opportunity

Through a marketing program called 'City of Opportunity', Belmont City Council in Western Australia, has achieved an additional $1.2 million in investments in the area over the past two years. A key to this success has been a strong team spirit.

"What we did was to promote the concept that every citizen is a member of the City of Opportunity," said Stuart Cole, Director Finance. "If you live here, we will look after you."

Major structural reform issues were taken on board leading to a change in organisational culture. Marketing the City to the world, Council accepted that it has a role to play in value adding to the community by attracting substantial new investment to the area.

"We have a single clear vision based on community leadership and a customer focus," Stuart concluded.

For further information contact Stuart Cole, telephone (09) 478 0222.

Living Suburbs

Pauline Peel, Director Community Development, at Brisbane City Council said that community leadership involves a vision, collaborative planning, community partnership, or opportunities for people to take part and an identity so people have a sense of who they are. Council's 'Living Suburbs' addresses quality of life issues for building a livable Brisbane.

"It is the small things, the parks, libraries, recreation, sport, community development programs that impact on the lives of Brisbane's 800,000 citizens," she said. To translate Council's vision into action in the suburbs, Council has set up four Regional Community Development Teams. These teams use an integrated approach in meeting a range of needs including health, sport and recreation, community development and parks.

For further information contact Pauline Peel, telephone (07) 3403 4725.

Not sitting on your hands

Neil Armstrong, General Manager, Deniliquin Council said that Council believes that making a decision is not sitting on your hands. It means taking a position and being prepared to act. With trust in leaders being undermined through accusations of rorts and wrong doing by various spheres of Government, Councils are under increased pressure to perform. He said good leadership requires the following.

  • Fact finding analysis
  • Accept mistakes then move forward
  • Keep calm, alert and never walk away
  • Empower others to take responsibility
  • Deal with fear and recognise we all have fear.

For further information contact Neil Armstrong, telephone (058) 81 2444.

Leadership Maroondah

Recognising that the strength of a community is not just vested in Council, Maroondah City Council in Victoria has provided various avenues for increased community involvement, including community management committees and outsourcing to community groups.

"Successful communities depend on leadership skills," said Scott Chapman, Director Economic and Organisational Performance. "To assist in this regard Council has established 'Leadership Maroondah' to help nurture future leaders.

"Council sees this as value adding, a long term investment in the future of our community." Each year, a number of applicants are selected to undertake a course which covers public speaking, business ethics, customer service, community leadership, Local Government practices, youth leadership, career development and communication.

Applicants are selected based on their willingness to work for the community. Part of the course requires they work in teams on a specific community project.

"$10,000 per year is a cheap investment in the future prosperity of our community," Scott Chapman concluded.

For further information contact Scott Chapman, telephone (03) 9871 0222.

Whadayagunna do about it?

Launceston Council has recognised that Council is not alone in the community but is part of a team.

"We cannot be all things to all groups," said Bob Campell, General Manager. Through a strategic planning approach, Council is managing diversity as part of a team.

"Determining what is Council's role and how to manage differences is vital," he continued. "Leadership style and community readiness - knowing when it is appropriate to use a particular style is the key."

For further information contact Bob Campbell, telephone (03) 6337 1102.