Member Profile - Joanne Thomas

19 Jul 2012 10:03 PM | Anonymous
This month we speak Barossa Council’s Director of Corporate and Community Services, Joanne Thomas, and she tells us about her life working for a rural council.

Earlier this year, on Friday 20 April 2012,  Joanne took out the Leadership and Management Excellence Award for rural councils in SA/NT at the industry’s annual excellence awards run by the LGMA (Local Government Managers Australia).

Hi Joanne - What's your current role, and how long have you been in that role?
I'm currently the Director, Corporate and Community Services.  I've held this position for the last 18 months,  and prior to that, for 3 years, I was the Manager Administrative Services - also with The Barossa Council.

When did you decide to get involved with Local Government?  What attracted you to the sector?
I am a qualified social worker and  worked for 6 years in local government in the UK in family and childrens services after 15 years in the private, commercial sector (with sales and marketing  and project and contract management roles in the construction and business solutions sectors).  I started work in private industry during the late 80's because the local government sector was subject to significant retrenchment and there were no roles for newly qualified graduates.  As people will know, the structure and funding of local government is very different in the UK, with frontline, primary social care services delivered directly at the local level in the absence of a state sector.   I moved into a commissioning and contracting role for children's services before moving to Australia in 2007.  The initial motivation was to support children to have a safe and supportive family environment that enabled them to fulfil their potential. Over the years and having moved away from the childcare sector; supporting what makes communities work effectively is the primary attraction.
What do you love about your role, and working for a rural council generally?
The huge variety and having to deal with whatever comes your way, every day is different.  It's all about people and what makes communities tick.  The people I work with.

What would you be doing if it wasn’t working in local government?
Not sure - never been one for having a grand plan but something will always turn up!

Do you have a “pet” saying or motto?  If so, what is it?
Several spring to mind - more because they fit with rural local government - "can't please all of the people, all of the time", "Jack of all trades, master of none!", "two sides to every story" (and usually more!), "it never rains in the Barossa!" (that one because from the day we started on site to build the new Aquatic and Fitness centre it did not stop raining and we had the wettest summer in a 100 years which played havoc with our program).

What advice would you have for others seeking to get involved in local government in rural areas?

Some great opportunities to get exposure at first hand to the broad range of services that a rural council provides. We tend to have people multi-tasking across a range of functions, not having the resources to have specialists or dedicated staff in every field.  For us, skills are important of course, but a "can do" approach and a good cultural fit is the key to getting the right people involved in our team.


  • 26 Jul 2012 12:11 PM | John Coombe
    Congratulations Joanne on your Award. Well deserved to a lovely lady and colleague.
    Link  •  Reply

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