Councils high achievers - This month from Gwydir Shire Council, New South Wales

Article image - Councils high achievers - This month from Gwydir Shire Council, New South Wales Left to right, Kellie Gill, Andrew Cooper, Tim Greensill (Team Leader) Alex Eddy and Suzanne Webber.

Allowing younger staff members to have a significant role in decision-making is a key strategy at Gwydir Shire Council and the municipality’s ‘Fit For the Future’ Team exemplifies this.

Team Leader, Tim Greensill, told Local Government Focus, “There is a range of age and experience that make up our team with the youngest member being in his twenties and the oldest in their forties.

“As our Shire has an aging demographic, which is represented significantly by our elected members, it is important to ensure that the next generation has a voice. This is achieved through succession planning and consultation and by ensuring that middle management is prepared to focus on how decisions that are made now will affect future residents of the Shire.”

The Fit For The Future Team consists of five managers – Greensill, Kellie Gill, Andrew Cooper, Alex Eddy and Suzanne Webber – who come from backgrounds covering Information Services, Social Services, Executive Services, Water and Plant and Technical Services.

They are responsible for the promotion of change management across the organisation in relation to all the “Fit For The Future” processes, specifically focusing on service reviews, Greensill explained.

“The team has been engaged to facilitate training and an understanding of the processes involved in this area and ensuring a smooth transition towards a forward thinking Council.”
Gwydir General Manager Max Eastcott nominated the team as High Achievers for their hard work.

“I think it’s important to use people who will be around in the future who will experience the changes that are implemented.”

Eastcott described Greensill – who started as a trainee and has now been with Gwydir Shire for ten years – as a “pin-up boy” for Council.
“We have to home grow our staff, because nobody wants to come out to the country.”

The Gwydir Shire is located in the New England region of NSW and has a population of 4965.

The Shire has a high percentage of agricultural enterprises ranging from beef and pork production to sorghum, canola and
wheat cropping.

Council is the second largest employer after agriculture and is followed by education and construction.

Greensill said the proposed Fit for the Future amalgamations put forth by the NSW State Government would likely be disadvantageous for Gwydir.

“If there is to be wholesale amalgamations in the rural area this will lead to the further consolidation of larger regional centres and the loss of local identity, employment opportunities and services for small towns.”

High-level strategic reviews are the main focus of the Gwydir Fit For the Future team; assisting all other managers and directors to implement service reviews has also been a priority.

“All of the information gathered and produced by the team is designed to inform the Community Strategic Plan and to educate the community regarding the urgent need for a special rate variation,” Greensill explained.

The team functions cohesively, with each member offering diverse strengths.

“As a team we build on the strengths of individual members and work to those strengths in a manner that is inclusive and innovative.
“By being involved in this project, team members have been given the opportunity to expand their knowledge and understanding of local government and to help drive the process of change within the organisation.”

The role has not been without challenges.

“Change is the hardest hurdle to cross for any organisation and this has been a challenging aspect of the process. The team has overcome adverse reactions to the changes required by ensuring that all staff are informed and educated according to their position within the organisation.”

However, Greensill said he and the team appreciate the ability to implement progress.

“This has been a great opportunity to be involved in the change process for our council. We have thrived on the challenges put before us and are thoroughly enjoying the ride.”