People and Partnerships Program

Article image - People and Partnerships Program

The People and Partnerships program aligns itself to Council's Vision, Mission and Values. The program has a simple, clear philosophy that could be applied across a variety of local authorities. While it is acknowledged that no two Councils are the same, there are still a set of common key questions all organisations can ask themselves.

Our program is based on staff and their service teams, (departments which provide various service(s) both internally and externally) continually asking the following four questions and then implementing required changes in a way which has some ownership and purpose.

PEOPLE & PARTNERSHIPS PROGRAM

“4 Steps To Success”

Stage 1
Develop service team
Service Level Accords/Agreements
What do we do?

Stage 2
Document work processes and establish operating manuals
How do we do it?

Stage 3
Benchmarking/market price analysis
Are we doing it best?

Stage 4
Develop Business plans
What do we need to change?

The program has been developed inhouse. It is based on quality management principles, and comprehensive and fundamental rules and beliefs for leading and managing an organisation. It is also aimed at continually improving performance over the long term by focusing on customers.

Through continually asking these questions, all of our activities are undertaken using the principles of the Plan, Do, Check and Act Cycle (PDCA).

  • What do we do - (Service Level Accords) = P - Plan activities
  • How do we do it - (Management Systems) = D - Implement the plan
  • Are we doing it best -(Benchmark Program) = C - Check the results
  • What do we need to change - (Business Plan) = A - Improve the process

Service Level Accords/Agreements

Service Level Accords (SLA) define the agreed outcomes between Council, representing the community, and the service teams that reflect the levels of service that each service team provides to the community. It is aligned to a financial year and forms the framework for the development of the relevant budget. The SLA also includes a ‘generic’ partnership agreement that established the roles and responsibilities of Council and the service teams collectively and individually.

The ‘generic’ partnership clauses provide a uniform understanding on specific corporate requirements across the whole organisation including the quarterly reporting requirement to each Director. It is important to note that these clauses are dynamic and like any continuous improvement program, can always be reviewed. Each quarter the service teams will continue to provide a report to the relevant Director on the achievement of agreed performance targets and standards within each of the service team’s Accord. These are collated by the relevant Director and presented to the Chief Executive Officer, and then to Council via the relevant committees.

Work processes to support Service Level Accords (Management System)

The tool used to develop the Management System to support the Service Level Accords was the Australian Quality Council ‘Business Growth Through Quality’ program. This program was undertaken by all service teams within the organisation, including the Executive Management. The outcome included the standardisation of many generic procedures, the establishment of standard document and data control procedures and the development of a Management System for each service team.

Benchmarking

It must be emphasised that at all times the application of cost for an agreed quality level was strictly applied (simply put, a ‘granny smith for granny smith’ comparison rather than the more generic ‘apples for apples’ approach.). This approach was more ‘challenging’ but, equally, necessary for the exercise to carry any meaning, particularly for staff, who can get easily ‘disillusioned’ if the process lacks credibility. Value is all about attaining the lowest cost for an agreed quality level, and it is this maxim which was applied.

Business Plans

Service teams now have a sound appreciation of where they sit in respect to their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with not only our industry, but the private sector providers of similar services. However, most importantly, staff now have a good awareness of what ‘business’ they now provide.

First Greenpower Shire for WA

On 1 July 2000 the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale became the first Western Australian Council to use 100 percent GreenPower for its Council and community facilities.

The GreenPower product is called NaturalPower, and is produced by the State’s electricity supplier, Western Power Corporation, using solar power, wind power and other renewables. A three cents per kilowatt hour premium is paid by purchasers for NaturalPower which is used by Western Power to further develop renewable energy projects. Western Power is committed to generating sufficient NaturalPower to meet the demand of it customers for the product.

The more customers who convert to NaturalPower the more the supplier will need to produce with a commensurate lesser demand for non renewable energy sourced power such as coal and petroleum base fuels.

Council’s awareness of the detrimental impact of greenhouse gas emissions and its commitment to environmental responsibility led to the Council decision to take 100 percent of its electricity needs as NaturalPower. From the personal interest of a number of Councillors in greenhouse gas issues the interest has spread to the Council, senior management and staff, and to the community.

Council interest in the Greenhouse issue includes its active participation in the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) program. The CCP program calculated that Council spends $220,200 on energy (fuel and electricity) each year which produces 1,325 tonnes of greenhouse gas. The move to NaturalPower has cut Council’s Greenhouse gas emissions by 330 tonnes annually – a 25 percent reduction.

The Cities for Climate Protection program has also established longer-term goals for Council. By 2010, Council aims to be producing only 927 tonnes of Greenhouse gas, a 30 percent reduction on the 1998 emission level. This will be a challenge given that the Council will be required to provide services to a population twice its current size.

Schools get 100 percent GreenPower

By working with Western Power, the Shire has also encouraged the five local State primary schools to switch to 100 percent Natural Power. Here again, funding the use of the GreenPower has been possible by making energy efficiencies within the schools.

Western Power has conducted free energy audits of all schools and the State Education Department is able to assist with funding capital improvements as necessary. Once implemented, these measures should result in nett cost savings to the schools and Education Department.

Regional Approach to CCP pays off

Serpentine-Jarrahdale is proof that a regional approach to the Cities for Climate Protection program can work. The Shire joined forces with the Cities of Armadale and Gosnells in late 1999 to attract funding for a Regional Energy Coordinator.

The role of the Coordinator was to help each of the Shires complete an inventory of energy use, set goals for Greenhouse gas reduction and prepare a reduction plan. Working with neighbouring Local Authorities can be the best approach for shires who may not have the resources to join the CCP program, but want to address the Greenhouse issue.

For more information on the Cities for Climate Protection program, check the website at www.iclei.org/ccp-au/

Saving the bush

It has now been three years since the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale used the opportunity of the Natural Heritage Trust to create a local Community Landcare Centre. In what was a brave step for the Council of the time, the partnership has enabled the Shire to deliver on its commitment of a cleaner, greener Shire. The actions and commitment of the Serpentine-Jarrahdale Land Conservation District Committee have been equally as brave.

As an equal partner this core group of 15 members has helped maintain support for the project as well as build and support 17 local landcare groups. In three years, the project has planted 190,000 extra trees and shrubs, given 22 reserves bushland management for the first time, directly assisted 450 landholders, built a Regional Herbarium, and established specialist projects for rural drainage and weed control.

The partnership has come into its own in the area of bushland protection and revegetation. Bushland cannot be protected without the involvement of the Local Authority. Once protected, bushland cannot be managed without the involvement of the local community and landowners.

For bushland in public ownership, the difficulty is often the shortage of funds and interest to manage the bushland. This calls for a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to private bushland protection and management. In Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Council can provide both sticks and carrots – the Landcare Centre can then provide other carrots.

Council’s development control role has meant that conditions have been imposed on developments requiring conservation covenants over bushland areas, fencing of bushland and establishment of revegetation.

Once these works have been carried out under the statutory process, it is important that there is ongoing landholder support to manage these private conservation and rehabilitation areas. Weeds, foxes, rabbits and fire are issues often raised by landholders who need help with managing the new landscape. The Landcare Centre helps landholders in this position. These landholders often have little awareness of how to look after bushland, revegetation or even pastured areas.

Council can also provide a financial carrot to landholders to protect and manage their bushland. This is attractive to landholders who want to do the ‘’right’ thing by the bush. This occurs via rezoning of the property from Rural to Conservation. Landholders with regionally significant bushland are eligible for rezoning which attracts a 50 percent reduction in rates. 1600 ha of bushland has been rezoned to Conservation over three properties in the Shire.

The provision of meals for interested residents, and a wide range of recreational and assistance programs, are available to residents through various volunteer and support groups.