Victoria MacKirdy National President, Local Government Professionals Australia – President’s comment
Last month I took over the role of National President of Local Government Professionals Australia, and this changeover in leadership marked an adapting focus of this organisation, just as our own councils have had to quickly adapt this year. One of the key focal points of this organisation is supporting our communities in managing the impacts of the pandemic and we will progressively be rebuilding our economies from the local level over the coming years. Making sure local government professionals are equipped for this is our chief concern at this moment, including making sure we have Federal and State support to achieve this goal.
Councils around Australia have moved quickly to ensure continuity in service delivery, community programs and activity to support local businesses. Our metropolitan councils have been working tirelessly in a difficult and changing environment, and I commend them for their dedication and work to date.
A big part of this recovery effort – but also an opportunity in the crisis – will be the importance of regional Australia as the food production, tourism, and industry hubs of the country. Given this integral role, regional Australia still requires greater funding support and attention, but the opportunity lies in bringing Australians out to the regions as a lifestyle change and economic opportunity.
This is not to sideline the issues of building the workforce of tomorrow and tackling issues such as ensuring greater diversity within the sector to ensure we represent the diversity of Australia – these are all elements that will allow local government to 'build back better' through the recovery.
There is a strong opportunity for us to increase our focus on building the workforce of tomorrow. We have seen how agile local government is in redeploying large parts of the workforce in a very short time due to the pandemic and also how valuable local government work is to our communities. Local government provides interesting and meaningful work with the benefits of public sector employment. As we turn our attention to rebuilding our communities and the economy, it is important we work to ensure we have the skills, knowledge and experience we need for today, tomorrow and the coming years.
Local government cannot be content with settling into a ‘new normal.’ The prevalence of natural disasters compounded by the pandemic has made disruption the norm. When adversity becomes normality, innovation is no longer a buzzword but a daily reality in the way we operate. There is opportunity here to grow; again, as we say in the infrastructure side of the business, to build back better.
While the pandemic keeps us apart, Local Government Professionals Australia is bringing the sector together again this year. While our National Congress was postponed earlier this year, there will still be an opportunity for our peers to learn from the best in public service, network with their colleagues, and reach their Federal counterparts directly in a COVID-safe environment. Part of our role in Canberra is bringing local and Federal public servants together, and we will be releasing details on events to facilitate this shortly.