The Awards for Excellence

LGMA Queensland aspires to support a professional and highly-skilled local government sector.  In seeking to make this vision a reality, LGMA Queensland celebrates the professionalism of local government and inspires people to even greater levels of excellence in leadership and management across Queensland councils.  The Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner is our 'night of nights', a special occasion for us all to gather and recognise the innovative, creative, impactful and outstanding work of our colleagues. Over 210 people gathered on April 6, at Shangri La Gardens in Wynnum to celebrate local government excellence.  A highlight of the evening was welcoming Greg Hoffman as a LGMA Life Member.  Thank you to councils for their nominations and attendance, and of course thank you to our supportive corporate partners.

2017 Awards For Excellence Winners

Excellence in Innovation  

In 2017, the winning project is the City of Ipswich’s Fire Station 101; an innovative business and community hub that hosts co-working and start-up incubation businesses, events and workshops, mentoring and investment pathways.  Created in a decommissioned Fire Station at 101 Limestone Street Ipswich, Council achieved endorsement for a fully resourced plan and renovated the property all within an eight month period.

The City of Ipswich faces dual population challenges of the fastest growing population and the youngest average population in Queensland.  Rapid population growth has the potential to lead to societal problems such as high levels of unemployment or to the creation of a commuter culture.  The very young population also places significant pressure on Council to ensure there are jobs within the region for school leavers.  Council has identified that many future job opportunities would be technology-based and were very attentive to the already-high youth unemployment rates experienced across the country. 

Fire Station 101 has taken Ipswich from having just five start-ups and Queensland’s lowest start-up density ratio to having 64 in its first twelve months of operation.  It has created 15 new digital technology companies employing 22 people, delivered 110 events attended by 1,230 people, secured seed funding for multiple prototype developments and implemented a young entrepreneur programme in local high schools.  This hub leverages the diversity of its members while focusing on themes emerging in the community.  Local members and founders also share roles as mentors including in areas of legal, video production, business management, entrepreneurial leadership development, game development, software application development and 3D printing.

Two other finalists were recognised by the Judges in the innovation category: Southern Downs Regional Council’s Wild Dog Control and Western Downs Regional Council for its Dog Renewal Smart Notices.  

Excellence in Teamwork

Redland City Council’s Lean Thinking Initiative demonstrates teamwork in enabling a culture of continuous improvement by empowering employees to review and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.  Initially, two officers were tasked with facilitating, coaching and mentoring the organisation in business process improvement.  This lead to 682 employees (69% of the organisation) completing ‘Lean’ training and a further 47 completing a 12 week, process-improvement learning programme.  Judges were impressed by the ‘back to basics’ policy which included multiple teams focussing on decreasing costs by increasing operational efficiencies. 

The Lean Thinking Initiative’s goal was to improve processes by eliminating waste and increasing productivity with a key objective to establish a culture of continuous improvement to ensure ongoing sustainability.  The approach to this programme at Redland City Council was not the typical directive-driven approach from the ‘top down’.  Instead, the focus was from the ground level, recognising that the people responsible for processes were the best people to improve those business processes including: procurement, fleet, finance, animal management, city venues and human resources. 

The Lean Thinking Program provides valuable lessons in encouraging collaboration to break down hierarchical silos and empowering staff to identify and solve issues.  This cross-organisational teamwork has realised benefits including: 64% time reduction processing library invoices; elimination of all hard copy documentation in plumbing services resulting in a reduction of 80% in printing costs; saving 35 hours per month in corporate scorecard reporting; a reduction of 22 hours per year processing time for community grants; instantaneous electronic customer requests to Parks and Services; and a 98% reduction in recruiting temporary agency administration officers by implementing an internal casual pool of workers.

Judges also recognised as finalists in this category Gympie Regional Council’s GIS Modernisation Project and Logan City Council’s Water Infrastructure Alliance. 

Excellence in Collaboration

In 2017, the Excellence in Collaboration winner is the Coordinated Pest Management initiative from Western Downs Regional Council.  Feral animal control in Australia is an ongoing challenge to land managers.  Feral pigs, in particular, inflict significant damage to both environmental assets and to agricultural industries and carry the potential to transmit disease to humans and domestic livestock. 

In collaboration with Queensland Murray-Darling Committee and landholders, Western Downs Regional Council implemented two programmes which were successful in decreasing the feral pig population by 86%. The combined efforts of 253 landholders and four pest management groups working alongside Council covering an area of 350,000 hectares enabled the coordinated control measures.  Landholders were able to realise the value and importance of region-wide, coordinated pest-control programmes in agricultural production in the Western Downs.  This has allowed similar programmes to be implemented in Maranoa and Balonne Regional Councils.

Also recognised in the Excellence in Collaboration arena is Southern Downs Regional Council for their Backpacker Initiative.

Excellence in Sustainability

This year’s winning entry is Mareeba Shire Council’s Financial Sustainability project.  As a de-amalgamating council, Mareeba Shire Council was facing a stark future which was highlighted by  Queensland Treasury Corporation’s report outlining that council would be insolvent within a three year period if de-amalgamated.  This forecast was despite inclusion of a one-off general rate increase of $872 per property plus an ongoing annual increase of $233 per annum. 

Mareeba Shire Council covers an area of approximately 54,000 square kilometres and has a relatively small rate base (approximately 10,000 properties).  It had a low projected rate growth of around 1% and was initially given the rating of ‘very weak with a negative outlook’ by QTC.  However, by May 2015, this was upgraded to a rating of ‘moderate with a neutral outlook’.  While poor financial outlooks are not unique in this context, the efficiency and speed with which Mareeba Shire Council was able to reverse the outlook is worthy of special recognition.

The newly elected Councillors, Chief Executive Officer and Management team, addressed the challenges aggressively and initiatives were introduced to improve efficiencies.  Community information sessions were held to ensure the community were well informed of the pending changes.  Following an organisational restructure, cost-effective programmes were collated based on staff-generated ideas, including reviewing insurance, electricity, plant-hire costs and communication mechanisms. 

The Workforce Efficiencies Program involved the entire work-team sharing information about their specific areas and provided opportunities to improve operational efficiencies, with the goal of improving operational savings by 15% or more.  Small cost savings across departments soon led to significant wins across Council without imposing additional charges onto the community.  Complemented by the Internal Audit Plan, these efficiency reviews have included waste management and library services. 

Excellence in ‘Doing More with Less’

Quilpie Shire Council was the winner of this inaugural award in 2017 for their 2016 Fundraising Initiative: Challenge Cup. 

Quilpie Shire Council’s dedication to their community runs deeper than the day-to-day operations of a council.  Annually, the staff selects a charity in need of assistance.  In 2016, they chose ‘Friends in Isolation’, a local charity that supports cancer victims.  Incredibly, $25,500 was raised through the Challenge Cup, which initially started out as a simple game of Oz Tag Football and evolved into a major fundraising plan involving 100% of the Council workforce.  Raffles, casual Fridays, catering for Council events and children’s workshops were highlights of the fundraising efforts.

Challenge Cup saw this small team manage the administration, staffing, setting up and dismantling, marketing and sponsorship of the event, a mean feat for a small group already stretched in their workloads.  The game held on Saturday, 29 October highlighted local talent, Keiran Lander of the Ipswich Jets and former NRL player David Fa’alogo.  The pair kicked off the training workshops for the kids followed by the nail biting main game featuring the Quilpie ‘Shovel Shiners’ against the Quilpie Magpies.  With six training sessions under their belt, the ‘Shovel Shiners’ followed Council’s value of ‘giving it our best shot’ and proved too strong on the day, defeating the Magpies 9-8.

Demonstrating excellent teamwork, pooling resources, contributing time and showing creativity proves you can ‘Do More with Less’ as Quilpie Shire Council has clearly exhibited with their highly successful 2016 Fundraising Initiative: Challenge Cup. 

Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing

Sunshine Coast Council is the 2017 winner of the inaugural Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing category for their FRESHminds Program.  Sunshine Coast Council’s FRESHminds initiative sits under Council’s FRESH health and wellbeing programme which aims to provide a mentally healthy workplace that promotes awareness and understanding of mental illness, encourages early help seeking behaviours and reduces stigma.  A growing body of evidence points to the need for Australian businesses to take the mental health of their employees as seriously as they take physical health and safety.  Mental illness is now recognised as the leading cause of sickness, absence and long-term work incapacity in most developed countries.  FRESHminds is based on the six key individual, team and organisational evidence-based, or evidence-informed strategies, recommended by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance.

The aim of the FRESHminds programme is to:

·         increase mental health awareness and understanding through education

·         promote and encourage help-seeking behaviours

·         reduce the stigma associated with mental health

·         support management, employees and employee families

·         create a workplace where it is okay to speak up about mental illness

·         address identified sources of workplace stress                                                                                                              

Deliverables included mental health related training, nutrition workshops, 10,000 steps Challenge,

FRESHminds’ video and promises, workplace posters and banner pens.

Also recognised in this category is City of Ipswich for their iHealth Program. 

Excellence in Community Shaping

Barcoo Shire Council and Diamantina Shire Council are the joint winners for the 2017 Excellence in Community Shaping Award.  Connecting Remote Communities is a ten to fifteen year project, lobbying for State and Federal government funding to enhance telecommunications services to the five remote communities of Stonehenge, Jundah, Windorah, Birdsville and Bedourie.  As part of the Channel Country, the five towns provide services the oil and gas, agriculture, mining and tourism industries. 

Under the National Broadband Network, the Australian Government confirmed fibre to premises for 93% of towns and cities, fixed wireless for 4% and satellite technology for the remaining 3%.  Barcoo and Diamantina Shire Councils fell into the last category leaving them unsupported and lacking modern technology including 3G and 4G mobile networks, high quality real-time broadband, fixed line and wireless internet solutions and unable to effectively manage large digital files.  The solution to this problem was to lay 700km of optic fibre between the five towns at a cost of $18-$22 million. 

Barcoo and Diamantina Shire Councils successfully gained $6.25million from the Palaszczuk Government, a further $5.95million from the Federal Government in December 2015 and Telstra provided $4.88million ‘in kind’ contribution whilst both councils financed $2.15million each.   In December 2016, Telstra commenced the ‘switch on’ for the first of five 4G mobile services which cover the five towns and an extended area on the state highway network. 

Douglas Shire Council is a finalist in this category for their Return to Country Local Planning Scheme. 

Above and Beyond Award

The Above and Beyond Award is the only individual award in the Awards for Excellence.  This award recognises an individual in local government who has gone ‘above and beyond’ their stated duties to provide added service to their council or community and, as a result, has enhanced the council’s reputation and the experience of the local community.

This year, the winner is Dallis Von Wald, Governance and Compliance Officer at Charters Towers Regional Council.  Dallis is a self-starter and is extremely passionate about her role.  Following a workshop with the Department of Local Government in late 2016, Dallis decided that she would write a script and produce an animation for training purposes, based on relevant sections of the Local Government Act 2009.  The project’s focus was elected members and included content on Conflict of Interest, Material Personal Interest and Registers of Interest.  The animation was born to ensure staff and elected members understand their roles in legislation, policies, procedures and codes of conduct and in the event of non-compliance, the applicable penalties.    

This animation is a significant training resource and will be provided to the elected members of the Charters Towers Regional Council and forwarded to the Department of Local Government for its use.  Dallis’ innovative approach to training provision could be used in other areas of Council and already discussions have included development of customer service tips and disaster management information.

Also recognised as a finalist in the Above and Beyond category is Brodie Ellery of Southern Downs Regional Council.

 Sustainability Award - Ergon Energy Community Shaping - Local Buy   Doing More with Less - Aon
 Above and Beyond - LGIAsuper
Collaboration - Department of Infrastructure, 

Local Government and Planning

Innovation - MAGIQ Software
 Teamwork - LGMS (Local GovernmentMutual Services) 

Workplace Wellbeing - Queensland 

Country Health Fund

Photobooth Partner - Telstra

2016 Awards For Excellence 

The Excellence in Teamwork Award was achieved by Lockyer Valley Regional Council for their Sydney Royal Easter Show Team. Demonstrating that exceptional teamwork can take a project from good to great, they impressed with the logistical coordination and cooperation between teams and committed leadership. The team conceptualised, developed and delivered an enticing and innovative trade stall at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney along with a significant media launch from Sydney’s iconic Martin Place.  The project sought to actively promote the Lockyer Valley as a food destination to potential and existing travelers from the NSW market, cementing the existing reputation as Australia’s salad bowl. The successful initiative has benefited the local community with more than $1 million of free media coverage, over 110% increased website traffic, more than 3,000 tourism guides distributed and more than 1,800 competition entries all promoting the great local produce of the region. This award was supported by AON. 

Tablelands Regional Council took out the Excellence in Sustainability Award for 2016 with the Employee Wellbeing Program. The program recognises that Employees are the most valuable asset of the organisation with the goal being a simple one; a happy, healthy and therefore sustainable workplace. The flexible and responsive program commenced with the offer of monthly health checks for employees, opportunities for lifestyle and wellbeing related resources and information and workshops conducted by medical professionals. The results have been clear with a range of positive changes identified through the program including; quitting smoking, weight loss, reduced alcohol consumption, increased fruit and vegetable intake, increased physical exercise and healthier diets. The Employee Wellbeing Program at Tablelands Regional Council allows them to be a leader in local government for employee wellbeing initiatives, which will have improved health outcomes for the broader community. This award was supported by Ergon Energy.

Townsville City Council’s Sensor Q project was the winner of the Excellence in Innovation Award.  This innovative, low-cost, remote water quality monitoring system is ground-breaking. It facilitates real-time monitoring of water quality and usage, giving council the tools to act quickly to prevent potential contaminations.  The Sensor-Q is a unique and transferable water monitoring system which has not only enhanced financial sustainability by drastically reducing the costs of data collection and analytics, and has improved environmental and social sustainability as well. Additionally, the Sensor - Q Project can aid in the efforts to improve stormwater runoff, manage stormwater treatment devices and monitor    natural waterways.  This tool has clear application across other local government areas. This award was supported by Telstra. 

Maranoa Regional Council receives the 2016 Excellence in Community Shaping award for their Be Healthy and Safe Maranoa initiative.  This project has shaped attitudes in the community in the areas of health and wellbeing. Be Healthy and Safe Maranoa changed their community’s practices and behaviours relating to nutrition, physical activity and community safety.  Following a funded and successful Healthy Communities Initiative (2010-2014), Maranoa Regional Council committed to building on the progress made under the sole management and funding of council.  Its success has been in effectively integrating a coordinated approach to the delivery of primary health activities within the region. This award was supported by Local Buy. 

The Toowoomba Regional Council were the proud recipients of the Excellence in Collaboration Award in recognition of their collaboration with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Rail, Ergon Energy, Probuild Civil, Highland Infrastructure Group and community engagement that lead to the council’s development Outer Circulating Road, Victoria Street Extension Initiative (OCR).  Originally a project to streamline traffic flow, the OCR morphed into a much more significant activity, leading to the transformation and regeneration of neglected parts of Toowoomba’s CBD.  The OCR project has improved traffic efficiency as well as public safety, visual amenity and enhanced heritage characteristics.  It will continue to provide social and economic benefits for the community into the future whilst revitalising the northern CBD area. This award was supported by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government & Planning. 

Above and Beyond Award winner, Lincoln Bertoli, Livingstone Shire Council, was recognised for authoring an inspirational children’s book The Day Marcia Came to Town which tells the story of Cyclone Marcia through the eyes of eight year old Lachlan and his grandfather, touching on the destruction, aftermath and combined recovery efforts following the devastating event.  This creative author utilised poetic verse to reference well-known areas across the Livingstone Shire, including major centres of Yeppoon, Emu Park and Byfield, which were among the hardest hit.  Lincoln enlisted the talents of local artist Jet James (who himself was displaced by ravaging Marcia) to illustrate the book, before embarking on a series of school visits where every junior primary school student was gifted a free copy of The Day Marcia Came to Town to commemorate the 12 month anniversary.  Lincoln went above and beyond to research the hardest hit localities in his own time.  Additionally, he obtained financial support from the state government which went towards printing costs.  Lincoln visited all 13 primary schools across Livingstone Shire to read, present and discuss The Day Marcia Came to Town. This award was supported by LGIAsuper. 

2015 Awards for Excellence Magazine

To view the 2015 Awards for Excellence winners and Magazine, please click here
To view the photos from the night, click here.  
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