Councillor profiles - Mayor Matthew Deeth Wollondilly Shire Council

Article image - Councillor profiles - Mayor Matthew Deeth  Wollondilly Shire Council

Wollondilly is a beautiful place covering 2560 square km. Our location on the outskirts of Sydney and close to Wollongong means we are able to enjoy the natural beauty of our area and the unique character of our towns and villages, but we can still be connected to the city and the coast.

Of course, the best thing about Wollondilly is the people. Together we have faced drought, bushfires, floods and now COVID-19, and through all this the community has worked together and supported one another with amazing resilience. I’m proud to be a part of it.

I’ve been involved in Local Government since 2016 when I was first elected. I first became involved when I saw how important it was to have community representation and that the role of a councillor certainly allows you to shape the vision and direction for the community. I really enjoy seeing how local government can really positively impact people and the places that we all live, work and play.

I currently work for a marketing agency in North Sydney. In my role as councillor I’ve been able to lean on my learnings and experience to assist in communications and making sure key messages cut through with the community.

I love to spend time with my family, I have a five year old boy and three year old girl, and wonderful wife of 10 years who I love to spend time with. On top of that, I do love to get into the garden any chance I get!

Managing growth
The population of Wollondilly Shire is 52,000, however we are facing unprecedented growth and we have a lot of push on us for development in the area. We want to manage this in a responsible way. Our vision is to preserve the special parts of our shire while making sure the growth area at Wilton has the infrastructure it needs to make it a great new town.

Through the establishment of the Western City Deal’s Liveability Fund, Council in conjunction with the state and federal governments, embarked on a transformational $76 million cultural and civic precinct for the township of Picton. The first stage includes a new performance and art space, village green and restoration of the historic town hall for multipurpose community uses and is currently underway. The second stage will involve a new library and administration building. This project will mean that residents will no longer have to travel out of the Shire to access entertainment or arts which is a great outcome for the community.

Tough times
Our main challenge right now is helping our community and economy recover from the recent natural disasters and COVID-19. We have taken a number of hits in the past six months with drought followed by the Green Wattle Creek Fire. Then a storm event brought floods which caused some businesses to close down.

COVID-19 has brought many more local businesses to a standstill and Council is giving as much help to them as we can through the Small Business Support Package. Our community has been fantastic at following government guidelines and staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus, but this makes it hard to connect sometimes and has an impact on mental health and well-being. Supporting our community as we get back to some sort of normal is a priority for Council.

A new era of digital service
In the last month we have had to change the way we do business and most of our staff have moved to working from home meaning we have had to rapidly implement some new online processes and ways of serving the community.

The first stage of our new customer transaction portal allows online payments for a range of services including Development Applications (DA), Construction Certificates, booking of facilities and much more.
We have a recently developed a ‘DA tracker’, as a way for residents to see what applications Council is currently assessing and view their progress. People can even submit an online submission for an application that is currently on exhibition.

Residents can also find out what road renewal projects are scheduled for their area by using our new ‘Road Renewal Tracker’.
We have also just launched our first ever e-newsletter.

The good, the bad and the future
I really find it rewarding being able to set a clear vision or direction, and then seeing the realisation of that vision. Over the past four years it has been incredibly rewarding focusing on creating a new city at Wilton which will be a legacy for future generations. The other rewarding aspect is about the little things, helping a resident resolve an issue that leads to the betterment of all is something that always makes me smile.

I think we would all agree that the increased pressures and responsibilities on councillors that have expanded over time, including management of our own communications and social media can become overwhelming at times.

I’m really excited to see the organisational transformation taking place as we embrace a new way of doing business. Building a culture focused on innovation and delivering an improved customer experience will really set us up to best manage the growth of the region over the next decade and an overall improved service for our ratepayers.