Voluntary reform achieves best practice

The 1997 Management Excellence Awards reflect how Councils are becoming fully competitive in the manner they manage and deliver services. These annual Awards are sponsored by the IMM-New South Wales Division and the Sydney Morning Herald. The Awards acknowledge the effort Councils in NSW are making to increase efficiency, cut costs and improve practices, benefiting ratepayers and the wider community. The Awards are made in four categories, Management Innovation, Progress in Staff Development, Management Team and Finance. Award winning entries include innovations ranging from a cutting edge recycling initiative which has saved over a million dollars, to in house training which assists the entry of new staff into the workplace. Entries reflect new levels of cooperation between Councils and a team approach to reform with duplication of services, unnecessary paperwork, unsafe practices and other inefficiencies progressively being eradicated. The only disappointment expressed by Stuart McPherson, NSW President of the IMM was that only 58 of the 177 Councils in the State had applied for Awards. He said that innovations are evident across the spectrum of Councils in NSW and they have much to offer by highlighting their achievements.


Saving a million leads to better risk management

The decision to become a self insurer for the purposes of Workers Compensation, prompted Wyong Shire Council to introduce a Corporate Safety System. This won Council the Gold Medal in the category Progress in Staff Development.

Cost savings of $1 million brought about by the decision to self insure needed to be secured by effective risk management. The result was the formation of Risk Management Group. This incorporated the separate areas of personnel, training, rehabilitation, and insurance administration into an effective team which could look at the myriad issues of occupational health and safety across the organisation.

Changes introduced included a scheme to enable injured workers to return to work on light duties, the compulsory wearing of UV protection for all outdoor workers including contract staff, and the production of a Quality System Policy, Practice and Procedure Manual.

Together with an emphasis on safety being included in staff training programs, these innovations have made for a healthier, more efficient workplace with a significant reduction in costs. The Silver Medal was won by Murray Council for a scheme which improved their methods of hiring and training staff. Fairfield Council was also a finalist.

For further information on Wyong's Risk Management, contact Clayton Harrison, telephone (02) 4350 5555.


Recycled roads save money and resources

The Gold Medal in the Management Innovation category was won by Fairfield City Council for an engineering achievement that has not only saved considerable sums of money but has far reaching environmental benefits for the broader community.

Fairfield took the step and established, what it believes to be the first Australian recycling plant for materials from roads, drainage and flood mitigation works. Now rather than materials going to fast disappearing and costly landfill, they can be reprocessed and reused. Approximately 100,000 tonnes of material is processed by the plant each year.

This is expected to increase to 180,000 tonnes when neighbouring Holroyd Council joins the scheme. It is anticipated that the plant will save $2 to $3 million per annum through savings in tipping fees and the cost of new road materials.

Environmental benefits are achieved through waste minimisation, lower demand for new raw materials, lower energy requirements and less need for heavy trucks to transport materials to landfill. The Silver Medal was won by Sydney City Council for its achievements in competitive tendering. Other finalists were Cabonne, Orange and Penrith City Councils.

For further information on Fairfield's entry contact Ray Graves, telephone (02) 9725 0237.


Benchmarking study leads to single supply service

Reducing three separate sections of Council operations to one supply service won the Gold Medal in Team Management for Newcastle City Council. The decision to streamline operations in this way was brought about after a benchmark study looked at practices in three other Councils, a variety of private companies, an energy supplier and the RAAF.

The amalgamation of the three sections allowed for cost savings resulting from the need for fewer staff, a reduction in duplication of work and reduced documentation flow. The change which is still in the process of implementation has already achieved savings in the order of $400,000. This is expected to increase when the scheme is fully in place.

The Silver Medal was won by Penrith City Council for a scheme that balanced the aims of customer service and good risk management. Bankstown City Council was a finalist in this category.

For further information on Newcastle's program, contact Eddie Stewart, telephone (02) 4929 9111.


Blacktown takes out inaugural Finance Award

The introduction of a system of accounting which allows section managers the opportunity to review their financial position on a monthly basis, resulted in Blacktown City Council winning the Gold Award. The up to date basis of accounting allows managers to be more aware of the state of finances and items incurring high costs.

This enables them to apply appropriate discipline to expenditure at a timely point, and allows end of year financial reports to be prepared in significantly less time. Councillors also receive financial reports on a monthly basis to allow spending adjustments to be made.

The new system brings Blacktown City Council in line with private sector enterprises which have long had monthly financial reporting. In addition it should make for a smooth transition when national competition policy is in full swing. With only six entries in this category, there were no other medals awarded.

For further information, contact Paul Burne, telephone (02) 9839 6400.