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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.

AWARD CATEGORIES

Council subscribers of LGMA Queensland may nominate projects for the LGMA Queensland Awards for Excellence. Councils may submit numerous projects. Multiple nominations are permitted in all categories. A project or initiative may be nominated in up to two categories and each will be treated as a separate nomination. If nominating a project in more than one category, nominators should ensure the nomination is tailored to address the category requirements.

The categories are designed to be flexible – recognising that local government is at the forefront of innovation and operates in a rapidly changing environment. Categories are not intended to be limited to, or represent, particular areas of local government activity, and are applicable to activities across the whole of local government.

INNOVATION AWARD

Eileen Deemal-Hall, Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council In the category of Innovation, councils must demonstrate innovative approaches to challenges facing their communities that have resulted in an improvement in performance, productivity and services while addressing long term sustainability.  This highly-contested award traditionally demonstrates that innovation can come in many packages and, over the years, has included social programmes, disaster responses, engagement approaches and technological innovations.

In 2018, the winning project is the Wujal Wujal Emergency Management and Community Forum.  Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council is a remote community nestled in the Daintree rainforest, adjacent to the Bloomfield River, and suffers extreme isolation by road and telecommunications.  This resilient community has punched well above its weight by installing its very own emergency management network and community forum which provides those working and living within the community a means of telecommunication that is wind and rain resistant and has self-sufficient capacity.  The innovative solution was partly made possible through the State Government’s Work for Queensland (W4Q) $1.1 million investment.

Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council partnered with Factor UTB to develop a local telecommunications network that could manage emergency conditions pre and post-disaster events when normal telecommunications systems were compromised.  The Network operates independently of energy and telecommunications suppliers and is equipped with solar and battery systems. Operating parallel to Council’s existing servers, it is firewalled, secure and is based on a microwave radio linked backbone with 3 main towers.  It is a cyclone-hardened, wide-area Network with 2 communication servers (each capable of automatically controlling, should the other fail) providing wireless enabled communications to residents and users own devices. 

Key highlights of this innovative project include:

  • Intra-community communication by voice, text and email using VOIP application on smart devices
  • Capacity to batch warnings, notifications and information to groups of users
  • Internet access is available through the Network for select users
  • Video and image transfer are available
  • Council can view and operate water and wastewater facilities
  • Users can access Council-approved websites including TMR (flood cams), BOM and Ergon.

Three other finalists were recognised by the Judges in the innovation category: Logan City Council for their Logan Off Grid Power Solution for Water Chlorination initiative and Sunshine Coast Council for both the Level Up and Improving Service Delivery with 3D Visualisation and Mixed Reality projects.

 


COLLABORATION AWARD

Central Highlands Regional CouncilIn the current environment of high community expectations, shrinking budgets and rapid technological change, Queensland councils are continually seeking means to collaborate with partner councils, other tiers of government, businesses and community groups in order to deliver services in the most efficient ways possible. 

 In assessing the Collaboration Award nominees, the Judges looked for genuine and effective collaboration with partners, resulting in better outcomes for councils and their communities.

In 2018, the Excellence in Collaboration winner is the Central Highlands Regional Council’s Accelerate Agribusiness initiative.  Collaboration and engagement with businesses, industry, research institutions and all levels of Government underpins, and is embedded in, every activity of the Central Highlands Accelerate Agribusiness (CHAA).  In 2016, the Central Highlands Development Corporation and the Central Highlands Regional Council partnered to establish CHAA; a collaborative project aiming to grow, promote and realise the value for all agricultural and food product businesses whilst providing other value-added services in the wider region.  A skills-based Strategic Advisory Group was appointed for a three-year term from February 2017.  Collectively, these respected individuals bring strong expertise in grain, cotton, beef and horticulture, domestic and international supply chain systems, market development and trade plus digital technologies.  Deliverables include:

  •          A sell-out innovation forum held in Emerald: AgTeCH17: Build it, Use it, Profit
  •          A short documentary film Central Highlands Agriculture – More than you expect!
  •          The Farm to Fine Dining Regional Showcase at the Brisbane Ekka
  •          A dedicated Agribusiness Development Coordinator

Partners assisting to drive this initiative include: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association; GrainGrowers; Telstra; CQ University; Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges; Cotton Research Development Corporation; Beef Ledger; CQ Ag Services; Premise Agriculture; Precision Agriculture; Komatsu; Rural Business Collective; SwarmFarm Robotics; Vanderfield; River City Labs and Mungindi Cropping Group as well as many other businesses and port authorities.

 

Also recognised in the Excellence in Collaboration arena is the Noosa Community Partnership Roundtable and the Redland City Council Community Champions.



SUSTAINABILITY AWARD

Sunshine Coast CouncilIn the Excellence in Sustainability category, nominations must demonstrate long-term solutions which have contributed to the financial, social or environmental sustainability of the council, area or project and have delivered improved outcomes or reduced resourcing implications. 

This year’s winning entry is Sunshine Coast Council’s Solar Farm project.  This initiative builds on the Sunshine Coast Council’s vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region – Healthy, Smart and Creative.  Council is Australia’s first local government to offset its entire electricity consumption across all its facilities and operations from the renewable energy it generates. The 15MW Solar Farm is the largest in South East Queensland. It is the first solar farm connected to Energex’s 33kV grid in South East Queensland and the first solar farm in Australia to operate at 1,500 Volts to operate more efficiently.

This project will:

  • See Council proactively take control of its electricity supply to combat rising electricity costs
  • Provide Council facilities and operations with renewable electricity and help the Sunshine Coast region transition to a clean energy economy
  • Employ an innovative business model that releases significant project value underpinned by extensive business case development and financial analysis
  • Complement the Sunshine Coast’s 40,000 solar PV rooftops (equivalent to 124MW capacity)
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 25,000 tCO2e per year
  • Deliver $22 million in savings (after costs) for ratepayers from Council’s lower electricity costs over the next 30 years, reducing pressure on rate rises

 The partners working alongside Sunshine Coast Council included Downer Utilities Australia, Energex and Diamond Energy.  The Solar Farm project was unaided by Federal and State Governments.

 Two other councils were finalists for the Sustainability Award:  Western Downs Regional Council who submitted their Solar Implementation Project and Whitsunday Regional Council for its Bowen Water Treatment Plant Solar Plant and Resilience Upgrade.


TEAMWORK AWARD

Mackay Regional CouncilMackay Regional Council’s Sir Elton John – Once in a Lifetime Experience demonstrates teamwork across both internal and external collaborative partnerships.  Initially for this dynamic international concert, Council’s external partnerships included six months of negotiations with Tourism and Events Queensland and Chugg Entertainment.  With a, “no ‘I’ in team” approach, the Once in a Lifetime Experience goal was to deliver an experience that benefited the local community and provided increased business and tourism opportunities.

The Excellence in Teamwork Award celebrates a team that demonstrates effective use of resources, strong collaboration, effective communication and provides positive outcomes for the community both in the short and long term.  Having just six months of planning, prior to hosting music royalty - Sir Elton John, Mackay Regional Council adopted a strategy to maximise the benefits of such an iconic international superstar.  To pull off an event of this calibre, 16 different council programmes united and collaborated to ensure the concert and its pre-and post-event activities were delivered without a hitch, alongside the main event – an outdoor concert for 15,000 people.  A lot of Council officers across many departments, worked very long hours to ensure everything was delivered, and their efforts provided tangible evidence of Council’s slogan: ‘working as one team to achieve for our clients and community’.

Tangible evidence that the overarching goal was attained includes: $3 million for the local economy; 200 international visitors; an average stay of 2.5 nights; and 4,800 domestic overnight visitors.  The Mackay teams’ approach was to ensure the ‘experience’ started well before the actual concert, and activities included: a city legacy mural with a Mackay Yellow Brick Road; street decorations; a sell-out Behind the Scenes Luncheon in association with the Mackay Chamber of Commerce; a television and media campaign as well as a Greatest Hits of the Region Souvenir Guide written to Elton John lyrics and aimed at inspiring 10 memorable local tourist experiences.  Live appearances of Mayor Williamson on The Project, Sunrise and the Today programme, were estimated at $700,000 in free media.  This solid team approach showed the true value of establishing and maintaining cross-organisational teams to deliver enormous benefits for the community. 

 Judges also recognised as finalists in this category, the City of Ipswich for their Cultural Change Program - Line of Sight and Redland City Council’s Fire Review.


ABOVE AND BEYOND AWARD

Michael Zitha, Torres Shire CouncilThe 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 Michael Zitha, Manager of Community Services at Torres Shire Council.  Michael is a self-starter and is extremely passionate about his role.  He leads by example ensuring he is a role model and mentor for disengaged youth.  Michael is a remarkably committed person whose mantra is ‘no matter how much effort is required, the result should be a positive outcome for the community’. 

This is reflective by the hours Michael undertakes – he goes above and beyond, dedicating his own time to Council and the community as and when required.  He successfully manages and executes a host of events and festivals and given their size and logistics, these would typically be handled by two-three officers in larger councils.  This includes the bi-annual Winds of Zenadth Festival which attracts around 1,000 people including attendees from overseas.  A DVD was produced from the Winds of Zenadth Festival for national and international promotion including Council’s Japanese Sister City. 

 Further festivals organised by Michael include a Multicultural Festival, Garden Week Festival, Get Ready Events (Cyclone preparation), NAIDOC Week Festival, Coming of the Light event, Mabo Day celebrations, Australia Day and ANZAC celebrations, Commemorative Day Celebration – 11 November, and many more.

 In addition to this host of events, Michael is actively involved in developing opportunities for small businesses, cruise ship visitation to the region and maintaining and developing sporting facilities into multifunctional spaces.  Michael loves his sport and has dedicated significant amounts of time personally coaching and managing touch football teams.  This passion also filters into his Council role including upgrades to gyms, playground facilities and family barbecue areas which has resulted in a 300% increase in the usage of sport and exercise facilities within the community under Michael’s watch.  New sports have been introduced including: netball, volleyball, boxing and AFL (a difficult task considering the fanatical and strong support for rugby league in the region!). 

 Michael’s positive and pro-active approach to life and work also included participation in the 2017 LGMA Queensland Propeller Programme which showcased eight councils to Michael and his Propeller teammates, extending on their council knowledge and allowing for collaboration and networking.  He actively reached out to his new network this year to get some guidance and assistance regarding a specific community trouble spot.



COMMUNITY SHAPING AWARD

Whitsunday Regional CouncilThe nominations in the Community Shaping category must have shaped community opinion, practice and behaviour.  These initiatives have actively sought to galvanise community response to improve the wider community. 

 Whitsunday Regional Council is the winner of this category in 2018.  In March 2017, the Whitsunday region was devastated by Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Debbie, changing the community forever.  Post Cyclone Debbie, the #ourwhitsunday and the Our Whitsunday: Our Utopia and Behind Utopia campaigns were born to inspire regional pride amongst residents through featuring local faces in local places, stunning natural beauty and the diversity of the region. 

The concept was simple - a social media, print, digital and billboard campaign supported by a video highlighting the strength and resilience of the community and its people, with Council playing its role as a community leader.  By including local people in the campaign and encouraging ongoing engagement on social media platforms, there is a growing sense of community ownership and participation in ‘Our Whitsunday’.

Development of this community brand has rejuvenated and re-invigorated Council’s engagement with the iconic 74 islands and the Great Barrier Reef and highlights the strength and resilience of the people.  The emotional bond between residents and Council has been greatly enhanced whilst showcasing the liveability of the region.  Council has taken the lead in engaging the community to a positive vision of the future. 

Working from a limited budget of $25,000, and with the four separate townships of Bowen, Airlie Beach, Proserpine and Collinsville, the population of 35,500 managed 30,000 views of the Utopia video within the first week.  We recommend you take the time to view the Utopia videos on Facebook and keep an eye out for the next stage.

There are 3 finalists for the Community Shaping Award: Southern Downs Regional Council, Sunshine Coast Council and Tablelands Regional Council.

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'DOING MORE WITH LESS' AWARD

Torres Strait Island Regional CouncilIn only its second year, this award category showcases initiatives delivered by category 1 councils who think laterally, demonstrate creativity, simplicity and increased productivity through ‘Doing More with Less’.

The winner in 2018 for ‘Doing More with Less’ is Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) for the Management of Social Housing Tenancies project.  The remote Torres Strait islands are scattered between the tip of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsular and Papua New Guinea and they provide Council with the responsibility for 900 social housing tenancies dispersed across 13 outer island communities.  TSIRC was formed in 2008 as part of the Queensland Government’s amalgamation initiative. 

Housing Services comprises rent collection, account management and engagement with tenants, repairs and maintenance to housing assets, upgrades and new housing construction.  For several years, housing was operating under the structure of the Community Services Department within Council, and administration staff were on the ground to deliver tenancy services as part of their role. 

This structure did not provide sufficiently skilled human resources for the tenancy management function to be effective.  Challenges for this project included: English is often the second or third language for Torres Strait Islanders, so communication and the sheer remoteness proved difficult; many community members are related which demands significant diplomacy skills in managing; and many tenants were in significant arrears due to rent increases and mis-communication. 

In late 2013, TSIRC commenced the formation of a dedicated Housing Team with the long-term goal to train and support their Housing staff through appropriate policies and procedures, training, reporting processes and educational programmes for tenants regarding rent contributions, maintenance and their responsibilities. 

The introduction of a finance and enterprise, content-management system and support from the Department of Housing and Public Works, allowed the housing team to focus on payment plans, rent collection and signed tenancy agreements, whilst formally acknowledging the traditional ownership of land on which social housing assets sit. Procedures incorporated the input of Prescribed Body Corporates on behalf of the Traditional Owners in decision making, relating to the allocation and tenanting of property.  Council’s rent collection has increased by 37% in 2016-17 in comparison to the 2015-16 figures.  In 2017, there were 665 signed tenancy agreements which was an increase of 46 compared to 2016.  Guided by the Housing Services Department’s Client Service Charter, the team continue to strive for success, proven by a 98% rent collection rate by the island of Warraber as well as Dauan’s rate collection increase of 32%.

The finalist recognised in this category is Douglas Shire Council for their 22-year journey – the Mossman District Nursing Home Project. 

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WORKPLACE WELLBEING AWARD

Brisbane City CouncilBrisbane City Council is the 2018 winner of the Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing category for their ‘Wellness Programs’.  Workplace health and wellbeing programmes have real potential to positively influence the health of councils’ workforces while making good business sense.  In this category, a project or initiative must demonstrate evidence of fostering healthy workplace policies and supportive environments that promote healthy lifestyles that enhance positive social outcomes.

Recognising the momentous impact of work environments and workplace culture on employee wellbeing, Brisbane City Council supported integrated Wellness Programs that address the unique needs of each branch and division.  This initiative enables Council to work in partnership with employees in all fields to positively influence and enhance individual and workforce wellbeing through the delivery of holistic, data-driven Wellness Programs.  Currently, 21 branches are engaged in tailored programmes and, in 2017 alone, 4,096 Council employees were engaged in various action plan activities.  The Wellness Action Plan is a strategic 12-24 month schedule of planned health/wellbeing activities and a catalyst for the Zero Harm Strategy and cultural change.  Engaged teams have appointed Wellness Champions and integrated health and wellbeing goals in their business planning policies and processes.  Sub-initiatives contribute to supportive, health-orientated environments and include: healthy snack desks (sharing); health goal boards; team boot-camp sessions; Power Hour (team stretching each hour); 5km social running groups; 8-week team challenges; Mammogram Monday and Testicular Tuesday events and cooking competitions.

Success of this programme includes increased employee engagement with 60-65% of the workforce participating and 10 self-driven wellness initiatives created by employees.  Additionally, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism, reduced presenteeism and reduced Workcover costs have been experienced.

Also recognised in this category is Toowoomba Regional Council for their Mental Health Support for Leaders initiative. 



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