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Rous wins Ministers' Award for Women in Local Government

29 November 2022

Rous County Council is delighted to announce it has received the Employment Diversity Award (Regional) as part of the 2022 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government.

The Employment Diversity Award recognises Rous’s efforts to increase female participation in senior leadership roles. Rous General Manager, Philip Rudd, said the achievement acknowledges Rous’s determination to develop a leadership program that was open to all aspiring leaders within the organisation.

“We are thrilled with the Award. It not only acknowledges our commitment to an inclusive workforce, but also celebrates the inspirational and hardworking women across our organisation. Their dedication and leadership are helping more women play a role in shaping the future of local government,” Mr. Rudd said. 

The Award was based on Rous’s inaugural ‘Leader in Me’ (LiMe) program, which was established to promote diversity in leadership at all levels, support both professional and personal development, and reward high performers. Five out of eight participants were women. Due to the success of the program, LiMe2 was offered; six out of eight participants were women.  

“The LiMe program has been integral in supporting women leaders at all levels and in diverse work areas. LiMe enabled women emerging leaders a safe space to learn and develop their skills and many have since taken up new roles or opportunities to extend themselves. This has been beneficial not just for Rous, but other local government organisations and industries in the region. As a regional service provider, we wanted to develop skills within individuals that would lead to greater opportunities and enhance the community in which we live and operate,” Mr. Rudd said.

Rous Deputy Chairperson and Ballina Shire Councillor, Sharon Cadwallader, also received the Lilliane Brady OAM Award in honour of her dedication to local government.

The awards were presented by the Honorable Wendy Tuckerman MP Minister for Local Government and the Honorable Bronnie Taylor MLC Minister for Women at NSW Parliament House on Thursday 24 November.

The Ministers’ Women in Local Government Awards were established in 2008 to recognise the outstanding efforts and accomplishments of inspirational women in local government in metropolitan and regional/rural councils.

 

Positive workplace culture impresses Rous's new student engineer

23 November 2022

After three years of university study, the chance to step into the field has been a welcome opportunity for engineering pre-graduate Xavier Thacker. Xavier started as a part-time student engineer at Rous in mid-October and he will continue to work during his final year of civil engineering at Southern Cross University.  

“I was after some practical experience in a local council so this a perfect opportunity,” says the Lismore native. Xavier will be supporting the team with a new engineering drawing management system that is being brought online.  

“The idea behind the system is that it will maintain a database of drawings of most relevance in a more organised manner making it easier to find and access drawings, for example, electrical switchboards, water treatment plants and other structures and buildings,” he explains. “My role is to go through the drawings and check that the right ones – the ones that are the most recent and accurate – will be put on the system, like an audit. I have assisted the team in system testing as well.” 

The team expects this project to be completed and rolled out by the end of this year. So, what next for Xavier?  

“I’ll also be assisting in water sampling and a new testing program,” he says. “It’ll be new to Rous and new to me as well, but I think I’ve got the right resources here and people to lean on for advice. I’ve been working with Tom Lloyd a lot and he’s been very helpful and talks through things with me.” 

The practical application of his university learning is what drew Xavier to Rous, but what has impressed him most is its workplace culture.  

“When I first walked into the office everyone was so friendly and welcoming, people went out of their way to introduce themselves to me and showed genuine interest. Culture in the workplace is a big one and here people connect and are social even if they work in different areas and have really different roles. 

“I don’t have a massive responsibility but being able to see and learn the processes of how things operate in a council has already been rewarding and I’ve only been here for a short time. I’d say that the experience so far has reaffirmed my career aspirations. At the end of the day, I’m still young, however, this is the path that I’ve wanted to go down since late high school and I think I’ve made the right decision to pursue engineering.”

 

Field days give People and Performance leadership team a taste of outdoor work life

14 November 2022

A day in the life of Rous’s outdoor staff has given the People and Performance leadership team an opportunity to experience the workplace from a different perspective, far from a climate-controlled office. 

The first field day in October began onsite at Rocky Creek Dam with the team getting their hands dirty. “We walked around and got a feel for place and then went down into the nursery with the bush regeneration team to pot seedlings,” says John Nasser, Health Safety and Environment Coordinator. “We were then able to plant one of our own, I really enjoyed that.” 

A tour of the dam followed where the team learned about how the foreshore acts as a critical natural filter for water flowing into the dam. "At Fosters Spur we saw the regeneration team are doing unbelievable work in trying conditions, most of it by hand. To see these large areas being brought back to their natural state is incredible. 

“We travelled into the headwaters of the creeks that feed into the dam and saw the v-notch. We admired the natural waterwalls and the pristine conditions, it was very moving, and I’d have been happy if they’d just left me there for the whole day.” 

Clee Worts, Bush Regeneration Assistant Team Leader, said it was good to be able to show some of the indoor staff what they did in the field. “It was nice to share what we do and some of the challenges we face too. We took the group to a 20-year-old timber plantation at Rocky Creek Dam and walked to another Big Scrub planting that’s four years old that we maintain. I think they really enjoyed planting the white cedar seedlings too.” As for whether Clee would wish to swap places: “I’d give an indoor day a go with the team but I’m not sure I’d be very helpful!” 

For John though, the real highlight was getting an understanding of what his colleagues do in their day’s work. “In the office we’re insulated from a lot of it; I see some because of the health and safety aspects, but not the nitty gritty of how things get accomplished. They're lucky to work in that beautiful environment but at the same time I have a real appreciation for the physical labour and the conditions they sometimes must work in – it's no air-conditioned office! – fighting the terrain and animals. And I really admire the professionalism and enthusiasm everyone showed, they’re so passionate and they have respect for each other and the environment they’re working in.” 

The team learned about the different recordings water treatment operators take and why there are different water treatment stages. 

Lauren Edwards, Governance and Risk Manager, said that while it was an entirely different environment, she could relate to her outdoor colleagues. 

“Although the work we’re doing is very different we share some common challenges. At Fosters Spur the team has regenerated so much already, but there is ten times more to go; it’s the same for what my team does, we chip away at things little by little but there is still a much bigger body of work to get through. It was cool to recognise our commonalities and it makes me feel more connected to the other teams.  

“I had a good chat with Rhys Oates, too. For me, the work the water treatment operators do is at the heart of Rous, but he said he thought the admin building felt more central. It was good to have an open conversation and see things through another person's eyes. What those guys did in managing to continue operations in challenging conditions (during the floods) is amazing.” 

There is a lasting impact from days like these. Wearing another person’s hat, even for a short time, helps us to gain a deeper understanding of the value of what we and others do, and what we can accomplish collectively. It can’t be understated, says John. “I’ve been back to check on my tree. I took my family there the weekend before last, and I’ll keep going every few weeks to make sure that it’s there and doing okay.” 

A second field day held immediately before the publication of this article saw the People and Performance Leadership Team join Rous’s Flood Mitigation team. Rous’s Customer and Communications Manager Casie Hughes said the Flood team is doing a job that covers a massive area with various complex issues and funding challenges.

 

Mindful water use following record rainfall

13 October 2022

Rous County Council is putting residents of the Northern Rivers to the test by challenging households to take up the Water Night challenge.

The Australia-wide water awareness event is being held during National Water Week, 17 – 23 October 2022. The challenge of Water Night is not to use taps, showers or running water from 5 pm – 10 pm on Thursday, 20 October.

Rous General Manager, Phillip Rudd, said Water Night is a unique opportunity for households to become more mindful of how often they use water and how we can make simple changes to conserve it.

‘We have experienced prolonged droughts and catastrophic floods, and although water seems plentiful during times of high rainfall, we will without doubt enter drier times and drought again. Whether it’s wet or dry, setting ourselves up to practice water efficient habits and behaviours is important now.

‘We encourage all Northern Rivers residents to join us in turning the taps off on Water Night. We believe that if we can become more aware of how often we reach for the tap and how subconscious this can be, it may offer a new perspective on how often we use water, where we use it and water wastage around the home,’ Mr Rudd said.

Water Night also provides households with an opportunity to check for leaks. Council encourages residents to turn the taps off and see if their water meter is still turning. If your water meter continues turning when all taps and water appliances are off, this could signal a leak that requires investigation. Leaks can sneak up on you, becoming a potentially costly problem quickly, so checking regularly is essential.

‘We know that water sustainability and making every drop count is important to residents across our region. We look forward to residents of the Northern Rivers joining us and registering for Water Night.’

Additionally, for every registration from the Northern Rivers region, Rous has committed to planting 10 trees (during planting season) in our water supply catchment area to improve our water quality.

‘Last year we planted more than 1,700 native trees and we are hoping to beat this record in 2022,’ Mr Rudd said.

Rous is working in association with The Water Conservancy, Water Services Association of Australia, local schools, councils, and event ambassador Costa Georgiadis for Water Night.

This initiative is regionally supported by Rous County Council, Ballina Shire Council, Byron Shire Council, Lismore City Council and Richmond Valley Shire Council.

People can find out more information and register for Water Night at www.waternight.com.au

Water Night - Improve your water mindfulness.

No taps, one night only – Thursday, 20 October, 5 pm – 10 pm.

On Water Night, using water for drinking, hand hygiene, COVID-safety and religious reasons are exempt.

 

Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative

12 October 2022

CSIRO are engaging with local stakeholders to seek their views on the identified flood mitigation project proposals across the seven flood-affected local government areas in the region.

The Initiative will inform the allocation of the $150 million federal government investment in the region in 2022–23, to support the New South Wales Government to fast-track resilience efforts.

How to participate

The National Emergency Management Agency (previously National Recovery and Resilience Agency) has commissioned CSIRO to undertake the Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative to understand the climate, catchment, and hydrological drivers within the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. It forms part of measures to drive long term resilience by delivering priority projects that mitigate the impact of disasters on communities and economies in the region and ensure that they are in a better position to recover from future disasters.

CSIRO with its partner Alluvium Consulting is identifying and prioritising resilience options for mitigating flood risks in the future as part of the first six months rapid review and assessment. Over the last four months, a large number of documents and material have been reviewed to identify flood mitigation options across the entire Northern Rivers region.

Stakeholders from the seven flood-affected local government areas in the region have also been consulted to seek their views regarding identified and prioritised existing flood mitigation project proposals. They also want to listen to your views and feedback.

You are invited to drop in and meet with a project team member to review the preliminary results of the flood mitigation and resilience project prioritisation and discuss your views about what measures or criteria are important to you and your community and should be used to assess the identified flood mitigation project ideas and proposals.

Click on the links below to register for a session near you. You can read more about the project at www.csiro.au/NRRI

All sessions are open for you to drop in any time between 11.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Goonellabah Community Centre, Goonellabah: Monday, 17 October
Lismore Workers Sports Club, Lismore: Tuesday, 18 October
Wardell Catholic Church Hall, Wardell: Wednesday, 19 October
Ballina Jockey Club, Ballina: Thursday, 20 October
Casino Community & Cultural Centre, Casino: Monday, 24 October
Woodburn Memorial Hall, Woodburn: Monday, 24 October
Coraki Golf Club, Coraki: Tuesday, 25 October
Maclean Bowls Club, Maclean: Wednesday, 26 October
Grafton Regional Gallery, Grafton: Thursday, 27 October
Kyogle Showgrounds, Kyogle: Monday, 31 October
Murwillumbah Civic Centre, Murwillumbah: Tuesday, 1 November
South Tweed Sports Centre, South Tweed: Wednesday, 2 November
Ocean Shores Country Club, Ocean Shores: Wednesday, 2 November
Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club, Mullumbimby: Thursday, 3 November

 

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