The 18 Days of Christmas

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Published 14th December 2023
This year our Annual Report is delayed, much like Santa in a heat wave, and so we’d like to deliver a gift a day to celebrate how the Council team’s everyday actions have big impacts for our community.

Local actions. Big impacts.

Council produces two major documents each year that inform the community on ‘What we did’ and ‘What we plan to do’. These are the ‘Annual Report’ and ‘Annual Business Plan’.

This year our Annual Report is delayed, much like Santa in a heat wave, and so we’d like to deliver a gift a day to celebrate how the Council team’s everyday actions have big impacts for our community.

Between now and Christmas, we will celebrate by providing a small parcel, think advent calendar style, to share what our team has achieved in 2022-23. This information will also be published in the Annual Report to be released early 2024.

Day 1 - Finance & Rates

The Finance & Rates team has been actively engaged in several key initiatives throughout the year to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of Council's financial processes. We handle everything from paying bills, issuing rates notices, chasing overdue rates, and finalising property searches, to reporting regularly both internally and to decision makers, acquitting grants, preparing the annual budget and Long-Term Financial Plan, and producing the financial statements in accordance with accounting standards and local government legislation.

Residents and ratepayers benefit from the Finance & Rates team's dedicated service through improved processes, timely communication, and community support, fostering a financially stable environment that enhances local services, infrastructure, and overall quality of life.

The team has diligently managed increased levels of property search requests, handling a significant volume within legislated timeframes and without any increase in team size. This commitment to timely and cost-effective services aligns with our continuous improvement goals.

The team has remained steadfast in supporting local suppliers, prioritising quick payments upon approval, and encouraging staff to expedite approval processes. Our efforts to streamline the invoicing process have resulted in impressive statistics, despite record volumes and improved turnaround times for payment.

Reducing overdue rates has been a big focus. We've been locating people with overdue bills, finding new ways to get in touch with them, and updating their contact details. We want to make sure everyone knows it's important to pay their rates (and the law), and we're here to help with payment plans and other arrangements if they're struggling. We've facilitated payment arrangements, financial hardship applications, and seniors' postponement arrangements.

Our team's composition has evolved. We've got part-timers sharing jobs, which means more sharing of knowledge and opportunities. It's a smart move for succession planning and business continuity to help ensure we can keep processes running even when someone is away.

Ensuring the Council meets its statutory reporting and financial obligations has been a focal point. Our commitment to financial transparency, accountability, and responsible governance has been rewarded a clean bill of health in our financial audit. It shows we're serious about being transparent, accountable, and doing things the right way.

Day 2 - Governance & Communications

The Governance and Communications Team lead Council in setting standards and good practices that support staff and Elected Members to communicate well and meet their regulatory responsibilities. Effective communication at a high level with is key, as is being ‘in the loop’ with the things that impact our community.

The 2022 Elections saw strong voter participation in the Yankalilla District, with 2,365 eligible voters casting a vote. At a voting rate of 51%. The Governance Team coordinated Council’s responsibilities in the Local Government Election process which saw five Councillors re-elected and four new members enter the Council Chamber. 16 nominations were received; six in Field Ward and ten in Light Ward. The Inaugural meeting of the current Council was held on Tuesday 29 November.

Onboarding both the new and returning Elected Members was a high priority in 2022-23 and was influenced by the rollout of legislative reforms following the election, particularly regarding mandatory training, code of conduct and behavioral management.

Each year the Governance Team do the ‘hard yards’ to organise Council’s Australia Day celebrations where the achievements and contributions of outstanding members of our community are celebrated and new citizens are welcomed.

In 2022-23 Council resourced a permanent Communications Officer role in the Governance and Communications Team committed to engaging our many stakeholders and sharing useful or important information with the community.

To support the connection between Council and the Community the Communications Officer is present at all Council meetings and Elected Member Information & Briefing sessions.

Day 3 - Library

The Library Team are a resilient bunch! Much of their energy in late 2022 went into ensuring that the opening of the new Library was as smooth as possible, re-locating from their temporary ‘home’ at Fleurieu Coast Visitors Centre and retrieving almost the entire library collection from storage to fill the shelves at the new site.

Since it’s re-opening in January 2023 the Yankalilla Library has become a much-loved community space and the Library Team have worked wonders to re-build the program of events and activities and activate the spaces of the Yankalilla Cultural Centre. The new children’s area is proving to be particularly popular, encouraging young people enjoy reading from early childhood.

New technology has been added to the experience of borrowing items, allowing Library staff to spend more one-on-one time with customers. The team are continually seeking new ideas and exploring ways to creatively utilise the spaces within the new library, as well as opportunities to enhance service delivery. Groups hosted by the library are:

  • A cuppa, a chat and craft.
  • Weaving for wellness.
  • Tech @ the Library
  • Yankalilla Hist. Soc. Local and Family History Help
  • Live streaming of Adelaide Writers Week
  • Supported Yankalilla Hist. Soc with their programming for History Month
  • School visits from Yankalilla Area School
  • Morning Tea & Tales - scone group (social group)
  • Free legal advice

Day 4 - Information Technology & Information Management

The Information Technology and Information Management Team are integral to Council’s business continuity and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Their role keeps the systems running that staff and Elected Members rely on for their everyday work, meeting legislative requirements and reducing organisational risk.

Council engages managed service providers for access to specific industry resources (systems, staff and expertise) that are beyond the core business of Council. The Information Technology and Information Management Team act as a conduit between Council and its service providers to communicate efficiently and ensure that staff and elected members are fully supported to get on with what they do best.

In 2022-23 the team have been heavily focused on finding efficiencies and better ways of working with the systems we currently use while also driving the implementation planning for large-scale systems change-over in the years ahead.

Day 5 - Customer Experience

The Customer Experience Team are the 'engine room’ of Council, using their extensive general knowledge of Council’s services and programs to effectively direct customer enquiries. They act as a conduit to internal departments of Council and external organisations, ensuring that customers are connected to the information they are looking for.

They are well connected with Councils other customer facing sites – the Fleurieu Coast Visitor Centre and The Yankalilla Library and ensure that relevant, timely and accessible information is provided at Council’s Civic Centre. The team are focused on using their time wisely and saving other departments time by gathering info and resolving issues and enquiries at first contact if possible and this flows on to efficiencies throughout Council.

The regularity of ‘seasons’ of enquiry in the Customer Experience area – such as rates ‘season’ and dog and cat registration ‘season’ – allows the team to speak to customers about other services that Council offer, it’s a chance to have positive interactions with community members, putting a human face on Council services and adding value for the customer.

A highlight at Christmas time is the ‘Letters to Santa’ mailbox at the Civic Centre where children can come and ‘post’ their letters to Santa and receive a response!

Day 6 - Community Engagement

Council undertakes various public consultations each year on key projects that set a direction or define a position of Council, have a high level of community interest or require a decision that has significant financial implication. Understanding the priorities of our community is a fundamental part of planning for and delivering the services, programs and assets our community expects.

Guided by our ‘Connecting with Our Community’ Framework, Council is continually striving to improve the way we engage with the community to influence decision making and improve outcomes, helping to make Council accountable and responsive.

We use a a range of approaches to engage with our community and our online engagement hub Your SAy Yankalilla continues to evolve, making it easier for the community to learn about projects and submit their feedback, suggestions and ideas.

Good communication goes ‘hand-in-hand' with good community engagement. We communicate opportunities to participate in Council initiatives through a range of channels including the monthly ‘In The Loop’ Newsletter, social media, media releases, advertising and public notices. We then engage with participants through our Your Say Yankalilla website, face-to-face opportunities and hard copy submission forms.

In 2022-23 our community helped shape the direction and detail of these projects:

  • Dark Skies – Carrickalinga
  • Privately Funded Planning and Design Code Amendments
  • Community Garden Site Selection
  • Annual Business Plan and Budget 2023-24
  • Wirrina Cove Zone Review
  • Stormwater and Transport Asset Management Plans

Day 7 - Infrastructure

Council’s Infrastructure Team ensures that our roads, buildings and physical infrastructure are safe and well maintained and they plan the future needs of the community. Within the District Council of Yankalilla there are 641km of sealed and unsealed roads, 105km of footpaths, 135km of kerb and gutter, 2km of roadside guardrail and 38km2 of car parks.

Two major asset management plans were delivered in 2022-23 – The Transport and Stormwater Asset Management Plans – and open space assets were reviewed to determine function, utilisation, service levels, acquisitions and disposal as part of Council’s asset management processes.

At the end of the 2022-23 financial year 98% of the Sealed Road Renewal program was completed with full completion forecast for September 2023. The near completion of the sealing of Forktree Road was a major achievement.

In 2022-23 the Infrastructure Team were also involved in overseeing the engineering aspects of Council’s major projects, particularly regarding many aspects of the Normanville Foreshore Master Plan.

Day 8 - Building Facilities & Project Management

The Buildings and Facilities Team are charged with managing Council’s buildings and public facilities. They play a pivotal role – as part of the broader Infrastructure Team – in ensuring the safety and optimal maintenance of Council’s buildings and physical infrastructure and they plan for the future needs of the community.

There is a network of Council owned buildings and public facilities across the district that are governed by a range of leases, license and other agreements that allow the community to use the properties as intended. To ensure these contractual arrangements are responsive to the changing needs of the community, this dedicated team take a proactive approach. This forms the foundation for effective governance and future success in this area, fostering a resilient and thriving local environment.

The capital works program of Council in recent years has been significant with several major projects ‘hitting the ground’ in 2022-23 lead by the Buildings and Facilities Team. They have achieved some remarkable accomplishments over and above day-to-day tasks of general property management, most notably the successful project management of the Yankalilla Library and Cultural Centre and the Normanville Foreshore Master Plan including the Big4 Normanville Jetty Holiday Park Cabins Upgrade and the Normanville SLSC and Cafe/Kiosk re-development.

The involvement of the Buildings and Facilities Team in these large projects underscores Council’s commitment to the holistic development and enhancement of the community's infrastructure landscape.

Day 9 - Operations

Maintaining and improving local roads, beautifying our townships and lending a helping hand is the day-to-day business of Council Operations Team. The team’s regular program of works supports the daily life of our community, keeping the district’s public places clean and safe to support connection and participation in community life.

In 2022-23 Council’s Operations Team played a significant role in the delivery of various aspects of the Normanville Foreshore Master Plan, helping to create a precinct that is versatile, vibrant and enjoyable.

The improvement of the playground facilities across the district has been a focus of Council’s Operations Team in recent times and in 2022-23 four playgrounds received upgrades and a new playground was installed at the Normanville Foreshore, providing children and families with a nature play space that in its setting is truly an experience worth cherishing.

A major refurbishment was carried out at APEX Park, Normanville including 'hardscaping' and some landscaping. Other sites also received new plantings including the Yankalilla Youth Park, the Normanville Village Green, the Normanville Foreshore and 50 trees were planted along our waterways.

The Operations Team carried out Council’s annual road renewal program for various sealed roads in rural and township locations, which included the completion of the sealed portion of Forktree Road. The ongoing maintenance and improvement of our unsealed road network is essential and remains a top priority.

Day 10 - Coastal Conservation

This team of one gets things done! The Council’s Coastal Conservation Officer is a grant funded, regionally shared role that undertakes environmental projects on behalf of Council, particularly in line with the Southern Fleurieu Coastal Action Plan.

In 2022-23 a significant level of grant funding was leveraged from external sources to successfully deliver environmental projects including the Red Alert weed control program, on-ground natural area restoration and increased capacity of the Fleurieu Coast Community Nursery to grow local native plants for revegetation projects.

At the regional level the Coastal Conservation Officer regularly meets with counterparts of the other Fleurieu Peninsula Councils and external organisations such as Landscapes SA to ensure the Yankalilla District is included in broader plans and programs, such as the Integrated Pest Management Program.

Collaboration with volunteers is vital to protect and enhance our natural environment, coasts and estuaries. The Coastal Conservation Officer supports a number of volunteer groups who help look after the environment and the Fleurieu Coast Community Nursery is a volunteer-based operation.

Day 11 - Regulatory Compliance

The community expects Council to uphold their obligations as a regulator, ensuring that the rules it is entrusted to uphold are enforced. This is largely the role of Council’s Regulatory Compliance Team who play a crucial role in keeping the community safe and our places clean and tidy. The team is committed to focusing on setting standards within the community, building capacity and guiding rather than enforcing whenever possible.

Working with the community on fire preparedness and prevention is a major focus area for the team. Each year an extensive check on residential vacant blocks is undertaken to ensure grasses are slashed to reduce fire risk. In 2022-23 the team partnered with the Country Fire Service to host CFS Survival Workshops and delivered the Redicommunities program in Myponga to assist the community be better preapred for adverse weather events.

Dog and Cat registration and monitoring is another significant aspect of the work of the Regulatory Compliance Team. In 2022-23 a total of 2,179 dogs and cats were registered (1,775 dogs and 404 cats) via the state-wide DACO (Dogs and Cats Online) system across the district.

Day 12 - Environmental Health

The Environmental Health Team within Council are responsible for administering a range of legislative and policy requirements that help keep the community safe. Sharing expertise and approaching issues with a mindset towards guidance and education is key, however enforcement measures are also a critical part of ensuring the best health outcomes for the community.

The field of Environmental Health covers a wide range of activities and conditions that can affect the health of the community including food safety and hygiene, immunisations programs, public access swimming pools and drinking water supplies. It also covers aspects of environmental protection and pollution prevention including assessment, approval and inspection of wastewater system installations.

Like Council’s Planning Team, the Environmental Health Team absorbed larger numbers of wastewater applications post COVID 19 within existing staff resources. While the number of development applications lodged in 2022-23 decreased, the number of new dwelling applications remained high and so the number of accompanying wastewater applications was high with 96 approvals issued.

In 2022-23 the Environmental Health Team:

  • Delivered immunisation services in the community, proving a clinic at Yankalilla Area School
  • undertook 60 plumbing to ensure compliance with approvals
  • followed-up on 35 complaints relating to wastewater systems
  • conducted 53 routine food business inspections
  • investigated two reports of alleged food poisoning and followed-up on general complaints relating to the operation of food businesses
  • participated in several audits of high-risk premises inline with SA Health’s risk-based schedules
  • Monitored the quality of groundwater at the closed Myponga and Yankalilla landfill sites and assessed the level of landfill gas at the Yankalilla site

Day 13 - Planning

Council’s Planning Team has absorbed some big shifts and changes in recent years, perhaps most notably being the spike in development applications post COVID 19 and the roll-out of the new state-wide planning system.

In 2022-23 the volume of incoming development applications decreased following record high numbers in the preceding years, however the average value of new developments remained high. 317 development applications were lodged with 224 completed with the development value of those applications being $47.60 million. The number of development applications received for new dwellings also remained high with 101 applications received in 2022-23.

The Planning Team continues to work across departments to respond to commercial development  enquiries raised via the Economy, Tourism and Community Team. The team also offer pre-lodgment services to those wishing to discuss their development plans prior to lodging a Development Application.

Day 14 - People & Culture

Meaningful culture shifts begin with confidence in the knowledge that an individual can lead change where it's needed. Our People and Culture Team are passionate about empowering Council’s workforce to be the change they wish to see.

In recent years the groundwork has been laid for the development of a values framework that supports our workforce to feel empowered to perform at its best. In 2022-23 the foundations of this body of work were set with the introduction of Council's TIDE Values – a ground-up initiative that introduced shared values to the organisation that describes the culture we strive for.

To measure and benchmark employee sentiment a staff satisfaction survey was carried out and the results shared to encourage reflection and identify areas of ‘work life’ that need some attention to help Council move towards its ideal culture.

Performance Development Conversations have been introduced that align with the TIDE Values, encouraging discussion centered around professional and personal development of our employees while accomplishing organisational goals, building strong teams and strong relationships.

At the end of 2022-23, People & Culture changed to People & Performance to recognise the significant work in the WHS, Organisational Risk and Organisation Development this team plays.

Within the People and Culture Team, the Council's Work Health Safety (WHS) unit plays a vital role in cultivating a positive safety culture integrated into daily work practices. Throughout 2022-23, the WHS Team collaborated with Local Government Risk Services, conducting procedure validations, offering contractor management training, and conducting return-to-work reviews. The Operations Team had the option for audiometric assessments, and the opportunity for skin screening and health checks was extended to the entire workforce. Additionally, several staff members participated in work zone traffic management training.

In the past year, the Council has actively engaged in critical risk management initiatives, including the completion of a Local Government Risk Services (LGRS) Organisational Risk Evaluation, which is a mandatory activity in local government. This evaluation provided an organisation-wide examination of risks to ensure comprehensive risk management. Additionally, the Work Health Safety (WHS) team played a crucial role in inducting the Library team into the new building in January 2023. This involved ensuring the building's compliance with safety regulations and providing staff with the necessary information, such as emergency evacuation plans. These activities, including procedure validations and risk assurance evaluations, are fundamental to guaranteeing legislative compliance for Council.

Day 15 - Tourism

Welcome to Team Tourism! The Fleurieu Coast Visitor Centre serves as the primary hub for visitor information in the district, functioning not only as an information center but also as the operational base for the tourism team. This dedicated team plays a crucial role in showcasing our district as a premier destination. Despite having limited resources for destination marketing, the team excels in utilising cost-effective strategies, particularly through social media, and fostering strong relationships with strategic partners to enhance visibility.

Emphasizing a commitment to a vibrant events program, the Tourism Team actively refines the Council's permitting processes for the use of Community Land. This proactive approach ensures responsiveness to requests from businesses, filmmakers, event managers, and the community, contributing to a dynamic and inclusive environment.

At the heart of the Fleurieu Coast Visitor Centre is a dedicated group of 29 volunteers. Leveraging their extensive local knowledge, these volunteers personalise information for visitor and build their visitor journey in the district. Beyond information provision, the center acts as a catalyst for the development of new and improved retail services, provides a platform for local creatives and producers to showcase and sell their products. In essence, the center serves as a multifaceted gateway attraction booking hub which not only enhances the visitor experience but also fosters economic and cultural growth within the community.

Day 16 - Economic Development

Sitting alongside the Community and Tourism Teams, Council’s Economic Development Team know how to get cross-department collaboration working for the district’s business community. They also work tirelessly to advocate for our district and build relationships beyond our borders that yield benefits locally.

Collaboration with Council’s Operations Team has driven the development of new trails infrastructure, which has seen the beginnings of the Normanville Carrickalinga Foreshore Trail take shape. A partnership with Forestry SA continues to flourish and deliver new experiences and infrastructure on the ground including new trails in the Second Valley Forest reserves and a new toilet facility at Ingalalla Falls.

Offering our business community opportunities to build their capacity not just to survive but to thrive is a core function of the Economic Development Team. A program of networking events, mentoring sessions and training courses were facilitated by the team throughout 2022-23.

Tourism and Agriculture – the districts’ economic heavyweights – have staff dedicated to assisting these industries. They work collaboratively across Council to help businesses that endeavour to create new products, offer new services and add value. In 2022-23 the team was boosted by the addition of an Economic Development Support Officer to coordinate the functions of the team and provide the resources required to drive the delivery of Council’s Economic Development Plan.

Day 17 - Community Home Support (CHSP)

The Community Home Support Program is a transport service jointly funded by the Federal Government and Council that makes the day-to-day lives of older people and their families that little bit easier. It allows registered participants to book a vehicle and a driver for medical appointments and wellbeing activities including trips to visit people in hospital, nursing homes, family near Adelaide, to lodge insurance claims, pick up and drop off cars for repair, shopping and legal appointments.

Council’s CSHP Team manages the transport bookings, the registrations of participants, the fleet of five vehicles and the volunteer drivers. In 2022-23 the team provided 4,750 service deliveries (drop off & pickups) with May 2023 hitting a record high of 501 service deliveries. The team also managed:

  • 454 active clients registered whose average age is 77
  • 34 dedicated volunteer drivers
  • 437 participants to register with My Aged Care
  • The fleet of vehicles that travelled 172,708 (avg. 14,392 km per month)
  • 2,049 trips, 1,797 of which were return individual trips (av 39 passengers per week).

Day 18 - Community Development

The Community Team is a passionate bunch who are across the ‘inner workings’ of the district’s community and go where the energy is to support organisations, groups of interest and individuals to do good work in the community. The range of projects that the Community Development Team touch on is broad – from youth and the aging to health, reconciliation and the environment. Even implementing a program to tackle fishing waste on our jetties found its way into their work plan in 2022-23.

In 2022-23 the team brought a long held desire from the community to have a community garden to fruition with site selection complete and the design and build work for the garden in progress.

Some important regional work regarding Advanced Care Directives (ACD) saw the introduction of a community service to equip people with the information they need to complete their own. Trained volunteers are available at the Library for one-on-one sessions to take community members through the sensitive process of considering this document.

A thread of arts and creativity runs through many of the team’s initiatives. The Arts and Creativity Grants fund provided by Council provides quick response funding for arts projects and art-specific school holiday programs are made available to the community.

The Fleurieu Coast Community Network is now well established and continues to be coordinated by Council’s Community Team, acting as a conduit for information both out to the community and into Council and an advocacy platform for community.

Youth continues to be a focus area for Council and in 2022-23 the Council-run Youth Advisory Committee actively engaged to build a robust program of youth activities across the District. The Community Team partnered with various organisations to provide school holiday activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, excursions and development days. The 2023 Normanville Summer BeachFest continued its success as one of the highlights on the calendar despite the challenges of working around the redevelopment of the Normanville Foreshore.