Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Staff, village woes

We’re not immune to shortages: council chief

- By Zoe McMaugh

“Edward River Council is not immune to the labour shortages the rest of Australia is facing.”

That is Edward River Councils’ general manager Phil Stone’s response to growing concerns in the community at staff departures within the organisati­on.

Council has confirmed some senior managers have recently resigned, along with other staff.

It did not specifical­ly address speculatio­n that at least some had departed because of concerns relating to the viability of the Deniliquin seniors living precinct, called Edward River Village, and council’s role in the developmen­t.

That project has not been referred to an internal review.

Mr Stone said while staff departures are regrettabl­e, he said the number of vacancies at ERC was still below internal targets and the national average.

“Edward River Council currently has seven vacancies across a total workforce of 123,” Mr Stone said.

“Of these vacancies, three are at the interview stage — including finance manager and project manager — with appointmen­ts to be made within weeks.

“We have appointed an interim director of corporate services who begins work next week, whilst the search for a full-time replacemen­t begins.

“This process is expected to take at least three months.

“While it is regrettabl­e when any staff choose to further their careers elsewhere, we are supportive of their choices.

“Currently council’s turnover rate is six per cent — well below our annual internal target of 10 per cent and below the national average.”

Mr Stone highlighte­d that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australiaw­ide “job mobility” rate is 7.5 per cent — the lowest on record as of February 2021.

“Job mobility remains at a high rate for profession­als, at 21 per cent of those who changed jobs. In short, it is incredibly difficult for employers to attract and retain staff, particular­ly profession­als.

“Council has been actively recruiting across all department­s for many months now.’’

Concerns have been expressed regarding the Edward River Village project after it went to tender twice with no resolution, which has prompted council to launch a review.

Mayor Peta Betts said the review would address the best way forward from here, but added the main hurdle right now was increasing costs as a result of pressure on the constructi­on industry and obtaining supplies.

“At the March 15 ordinary council meeting, we resolved to refer the Edward River Village project to our Audit Risk and Improvemen­t Committee (ARIC) for review,” Cr Betts said.

“Council will receive a further report following the ARIC review and will then discuss options to move forward with the project.’’

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