Vol­un­teers shut out

Indigo to change com­mu­nity com­mit­tees

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMIE KRONBORG jkro­n­borg@ne­me­dia.com.au

INDIGO Shire Coun­cil will next week con­sider sig­nif­i­cant changes to its long­stand­ing com­mu­nity ad­vi­sory com­mit­tees’ struc­ture and the ways in which the com­mit­tees work.

But the vol­un­teers who have long pro­vided the coun­cil with ad­vice on a range of im­por­tant com­mu­nity mat­ters – from en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment to dis­abil­ity ac­cess and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and tourism to her­itage con­ser­va­tion – will not be paid the cour­tesy of see­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions ahead of coun­cil­lors.

Beech­worth Burke Mu­seum and her­itage precinct ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee chair­man John Baines is deeply con­cerned that the coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment, which has driven the re­view, seems bereft of ef­fec­tive mech­a­nisms to en­gage pro­duc­tively with com­mu­nity ad­vi­sory groups.

Mr Baines told Indigo cor­po­rate ser­vices di­rec­tor Greg Pinker­ton – the man­ager re­spon­si­ble for the re­view and the coun­cil’s newly-ap­pointed act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive – that it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate to put to coun­cil­lors the coun­cil man­age­ment team’s view of nec­es­sary changes be­fore these were dis­cussed with each com­mit­tee.

He said the pre­sen­ta­tion of the re­view rec­om­men­da­tions to the elected coun­cil for en­dorse­ment be­fore the re­spec­tive com­mit­tees had an op­por­tu­nity to com­ment on the col­lec­tive data re­lat­ing to them was poor process.

He said it re­flected “the long­stand­ing lack of un­der­stand­ing and recog­ni­tion of the need to change the pro­to­cols ex­e­cuted by the coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive man­agers in deal­ing with en­dorsed vol­un­teer ad­vi­sory com­mit­tees”.

The coun­cil ini­ti­ated the re­view in De­cem­ber 2015 as part of its gov­er­nance and risk man­age­ment strat­egy.

It in­cluded what it de­scribed as quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive re­view meth­ods – us­ing sur­veys of coun­cil­lors, com­mit­tee mem­bers and the com­mu­nity – to pro­vide a “holis­tic view” of each com­mit­tee’s operation.

It ad­vised the com­mit­tees at the time that a re­port with rec­om­men­da­tions for each of them would be pro­vided to coun­cil­lors and the com­mit­tees then would be told of the out­comes.

Mr Pinker­ton has de­fended the process, telling Mr Baines that “we need to get the coun­cil’s en­dorse­ment of the gen­eral ap­proach be­fore we seek spe­cific feed­back from the com­mit­tees to make sure that the di­rec­tion is ap­pro­pri­ate”.

“The coun­cil makes the fi­nal de­ci­sion,” Mr Pinker­ton said.

“At this stage the com­mit­tee re­view has been pre­pared by staff and the coun­cil has not been pre­sented with the re­port.

“It is there­fore quite in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the next stage of the con­sul­ta­tion process to com­mence with­out it be­ing re­viewed by the coun­cil first.”

But Mr Baines ques­tioned how the coun­cil’s man­age­ment could claim sat­is­fac­to­rily to have en­gaged in con­sul­ta­tion with all in­ter­ests when it had not asked each com­mit­tee as an en­tity for a con­tri­bu­tion.

He said the process meant that the ex­ec­u­tive was seek­ing an en­dorse­ment from the elected coun­cil on in­com­plete data.

Mr Pinker­ton said a meet­ing with all com­mit­tees to dis­cuss the in-prin­ci­ple rec­om­men­da­tions was to be held on Septem­ber 27 – the day af­ter next week’s coun­cil meet­ing.

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