Perceptions of a high turnover of staff and poor community satisfaction with the performance of the administrative management of a regional shire are just that - perceptions - says its CEO.
Lucy Roffey, CEO of Central Goldfields Shire Council, was responding to claims up to 70 (of 190 full-time) staff had left since elected councillors were sacked in August 2017.
She says while that figure is incorrect, there has been a turnover of around 50 staff, around 25 for the past two years of administration, similar to surrounding shires.
"That's fairly normal. I've looked at every other council around us, Ballarat, Hepburn, Mt Alexander, and most of them have turnover rates of between 10 and 17 per cent."
Sources within Maryborough approached The Courier alleging many long-serving staff had 'resigned, left or been moved on'.
"One fellow who'd been there 25 years left two weeks ago, and he didn't leave for another job: he'd just had enough of the hierarchy, the pushing, the putting more work on top of them, the way they're spoken to," The Courier was told.
"There are no local managers, everyone lives out of town. The administrators live out of town. We're losing good people."
Lucy Roffey is adamant these allegations are unfounded.
"There has been no strategy to move staff on in any way whatsoever," she says.
"I want to make that really clear. In the past if staff had complaints, they weren't investigated, whether they were harassment or other core practices.
"We've investigated everything that's come across our desk. We haven't lost anyone; we've worked with people and found out what the problems are, and improved our processes and practices."
The CEO says it should be expected, given turmoil over the former CEO Mark Johnston's behavior and the subsequent removal of the elected council, that change would be inevitable.
"We had a restructure commencing in 2018," Ms Roffey says.
"I have finalised that restructure: there were no forced redundancies, but there were changes in roles and responsibilities, and so it would be expected to have turnover coming out of that.
"We've seen a number of older staff retire, due to the restructure. There's been a lot of change, there are a lot of new systems, processes, policies and procedures. Not everybody is comfortable with technology and changes, and so some have retired. And some have retired, I think, due to COVID-19."
Ms Roffey says the shire has developed a new suite of values for staff: 'customer and community focus'; 'collaborative and inclusive'; and 'challenge the status quo'.
"An example of the latter is the 'Better Approvals' process, run by the state government, which reviews workflows to ensure the customer is at the centre of permit applications," Ms Roffey says.
Ms Roffey says she welcomes a return to elected representation in November, and intends to complete her five-year contract as CEO.
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