High achiever - Erica McKinnell Community Service Project Officer, Break O’Day Council

Article image - High achiever - Erica McKinnell  Community Service Project Officer, Break O’Day Council Erica McKinnell (right), assisted by Jenna Bailey, coordinated St Helens Triple J One Night Stand event.

The day 30,000 people came to town will be remembered by Break O’Day Council Community Services Project officer, Erica McKinnell, as the highlight of her working life.

ABC reported, “More than 20,000 people crammed in for the biggest ever Triple J One Night Stand concert, at St Helens on Tasmania’s east coast on Saturday night.

“Thousands of people lined up for hours before they were allowed into the free, all-ages concert headlined by Vance Joy and Peking Duk.

Radio station Triple j said, “This year’s One Night Stand [2018], the eighth such event for regional towns, was the biggest ever.”

Accommodation in St Helens was booked out soon after the town was announced as the 2018 One Night Stand host.

McKinnel said, “Coordinating the St Helens Triple J One Night Stand was the absolute highlight of my whole working life and always will be.

“St Helens is a town populated with 2070 residents and in one day 30,000 descended on the township that has no public transport or public car parking options and there is a one lane highway to enter and exit.

“I think we strategically pulled off an absolute logistical nightmare!
Council and the community used to come together in Emergency Fire and Flood events but the relationship has changed and of late they have worked together for great outcomes on some large scale projects, including the hugely successful 2018 Triple J One Night Stand and St Helens Mountain Bike Trails.

“All thanks to the JJJ ONS, both Council and I have received five awards to date, with myself winning the Emerging Leader for Tasmania and achieving an Honorable Mention for the Nationals.

“If I could ever encourage any other small regional council to apply, you will not be disappointed! It has put St Helens on the map for hosting larger events with a huge increase in event enquiries for the 2019-2020 season.”

On a personal level, McKinnell has plans to gain qualifications in Event Management and attract more world-class events to Break O’Day for all demographics.

A full circle
“In Break O’Day we are extremely lucky to live within the most pristine environment, with the cleanest and freshest air. We encourage sustainable development and we love a challenging project or event.

“If I can be completely honest, it was a rekindled love. I grew up in St Helens, left to pursue sport, joined the Military at 19 years old, travelled and then rekindled my high school love in 2013, who happened to have a joinery business here in St Helens. I honestly applied for the first job I saw in the local paper and nearly seven years later, here I am.

“I have grown to love working within local government. I feel that our role entails working with, enabling, supporting and facilitating projects and events for and with the community.”   

For a 21 year working life, I feel I have accomplished quite a lot.
Whilst I may not have the academia behind me, I
certainly bring widespread experience to the table.

Some industries and organiseations I have worked within include retail, health and beauty, truck delivery driving, a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy, Calvary Health care, Fairfax Media and most recently local government.

Opportunities for youth
In his nomination of McKinnell as LG Focus council high achiever, Break O’Day Mayor, Mick Tucker, said Erica was the driving force behind the Shire’s youth programs and the learner driver mentoring program.

Rather than being a driving force, McKinnell prefers to envision herself in the role of empowering young people to connect to their community and make positive life choices, to give them options and opportunities, as well as self-confidence and s
elf-worth.

In this guise she coordinates a Learner Driver Mentor Program where the mentors not only give the learners access to their on road hours but pick up and drop them off from socially isolated areas.

“We also gain them access to medical, retail and a range of other services.

“There is limited public transport here in Break O’Day, so the Get In2 Gear Learner Driver Mentor Program is vital to the vulnerable.

“I also empower local schoolchildren to plan, budget, deliver and summarize their Youth Week events each year, with an average attendance level of 200.

“I am a member of a local working party of Community Key Influencers, trying to build the pathways gap we current have from
Primary/High School to Higher  Education.

“I would also love to build a perfect community connection point in bridging the gap between employers and our unemployed youth.”

McKinnell has recently been kept busy working on the Mountains to the Sea Trail-Fest, a full day, family friendly celebration for the opening of St Helens Mountain Bike Trails last month; Dragon Trail MTB, a three day mountain biking endurance event in March 2020; and 40 or so other community events Council has in the pipeline.