The Mirror News

Shire panel reports to community, state minister

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council’s administration panel has issued the July 2020 edition of its Administrators’ Community Update, reporting to the municipality’s residents and the new Victorian Local Government Minister Shaun Leane.

Panel chair Julie Eisenbise and her fellow administrators Rick Brown and Christian Zahra adopted their second Community Update of 21 pages at the ordinary council meeting held at Leongatha on Wednesday July 22, 2020.

The first Administrators’ Community Update was released in December 2019, five months after the panel was progressively appointed by the then Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek in late June and late July 2019 following the dismissal of the elected council on June 19, 2019.

Each Update document tells both the community and the current Minister what progress the panel has made towards restoring good governance practices and implementing the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into South Gippsland Shire Council Report 2019.

The administration panel was given the responsibility bringing in the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry’s report, which include developing and delivering “an extensive community leadership development programme”.

This programme is intended to “encourage widespread participation in community and civic life in the municipality”, “support the development of community leadership skills”, and “support an improvement in the relationship between the council and its community.”

The commission’s report also tasked the panel to “review and implement improved council policies and processes, with a focus on councillor induction and training, the Councillor Code of Conduct, and meeting procedures”.

 South Gippsland Shire panel chair Ms Eisenbise said she was “pleased to release the report and demonstrate the progress made during the administrators’ term. 

“The primary tasks we were appointed to undertake as administrators included introducing a community leadership development program, and reviewing council policies, especially those addressing councillor conduct and meeting procedures, which are both well underway,” she said.

“We are pleased to have the Community Leadership Program commencing with a number of expressions of interest submitted from local community members who wished to join the program.

“It is a real privilege to be able to provide such an opportunity to our community and we look forward to seeing progress in the future,” Ms Eisenbise said. 

“A significant amount of work has also been undertaken to review our suite of governance policies, which build the foundation for an effective council,” she said.

“With the introduction of the Local Government Act 2020, the documents are being aligned to additional requirements set out by this legislation.”

In her introductory message at the start of the July 2020 Community Update, Ms Eisenbise states that “as administrators we have done a lot with both council staff and the community to rebuild relationships and trust, particularly with those who were sceptical given the local politics prior to our arrival.

“We are proud to report that we have participated in over 140 community engagement opportunities with more than 950 people to hear the views of the South Gippsland community,” she said.

“We understand that only by connecting with the community we serve can we make the best decisions needed for this region.”

The Community Update provides more details about the leadership program, councillor induction, training and code of conduct and meeting procedure policies, as well as a summary of South Gippsland Shire’s Good Governance Framework.

The summary takes the form of a flowchart, with six identified key performance indicators, leading to the principles and behaviours of good governance, and on to eight pillars “that drive the achievement of outcomes”.

The eight pillars cited are direction and leadership, culture and behaviour, decision making, structure systems and policies, communications and community engagement, capability, risk and compliance, and monitoring and performance review.

The Update indicates that these pillars in turn underpin the five outcomes of good governance, which include achieving sustainable outcomes, along with council directions and priorities; strengthening shire health, wellbeing and economy; delivering efficient quality community services, and making informed decisions.

The Update goes on to list the activities and decisions of the panel and council staff under the relevant pillar, and also describes some of the major projects being undertaken or ready to start around the shire.

Ms Eisenbise said that “during the COVID-19 pandemic the amount of face-to-face meetings administrators have had with the community has declined, however we continue to keep in contact via phone calls or video meetings.

“Community groups are encouraged to contact South Gippsland Shire Council on 5662 9200 if assistance can be provided in any way and in particular to help groups restart when the time is appropriate,” she said.Read the South Gippsland Shire Council’s July 2020 Administrators’ Community Update on the municipality’s website at www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au/yourcouncil then scroll down to the heading Council Strategies, Plans and Policies to the Administrators’ Community Update button.

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