Spotlight on the country - Grant Humphries, Mt Gambier City Council

21 Jun 2011 10:02 AM | Anonymous
Each month we place the spotlight on a country council or staff member.  This month we speak to Grant Humphries, Director, Corporate and Community Services at Mt Gambier.

Hi Grant - thanks for spending time with us.

What is your professional background?
My entire career has been in local government spanning five different Councils over 36 years, initially in the Finance/Revenue areas.  I was appointed CEO of former Beachport District Council in 1988.

What Council are you currently working at, and how long have you been there?
I am currently the Director, Corporate and Community Services with City of Mount Gambier, a position I have held for 14 years.

Why did you decide to work for a country/regional council?
Having worked in both country and metro Councils, they all face similar challenges. However, I found early in my career that country councils offered more scope for the attainment of varying skills and experience, generally in local government. This enabled me to gain exposure in the varying roles in local government and advance my career prospects. These opportunities have somewhat diminished these days as roles within local government have become more specialised and of course Councils are fewer in number and are larger/have greater capacity.
Having been born and raised in a country town I have an empathy for and enjoy living in a regional area.

What are the key differences between a country council and metro?
As stated previously, all Councils face similar challenges in meeting community expectation/demands, however I do consider country councils are still closer to their communities and are more about the traditional roles of local government. The tyranny of distance and adequately servicing large land areas is an ongoing challenge in regional areas that does not necessarily present in the closer settled, more compact metropolitan areas.
In living and working in a regional area you are certainly not anonymous and are always made aware of what the communities views are on various local issues!

What do you like most about your role?
The diversity. My particular role is very diverse (some would say too diverse) which regularly presents different challenges – this is a double edged sword – in one respect it offers challenge/diversity however on the flip side achievement of objectives in the varying duties can be delayed due to other more immediate priorities. This can be frustrating.
The connection and involvement with the local community, community organisations, sporting groups, etc, in the achievement of combined objectives is also a major source of satisfaction in my role.

How would you describe working for a country council as a career development step?
Working in regional councils was a major influence in my career development which I would encourage anyone to entertain. If you are prepared to move around there are opportunities in regional areas that would not necessarily present in the metropolitan area.
I am sure the experience gained in smaller Councils in regional areas will provide anyone with a great grounding in the workings of local government at a grass roots level.

What other involvement do you have in Local Government? (e.g. networks, affiliations)
I previously served as President of the South East IMM (precursor to LGMA) Group some years ago.
I just completed a 2 year term as Chair of the Civica Authority SA and NT  Local Government User Group.

Why did you join LGMA?
It was the Institute of Municipal Management (IMM) in those days!
Having become a CEO at the age of 29 years in a reasonably remote location, pre internet days, I needed all the help and support i could get. LGMA (or IMM) provided me the opportunity to network with many other more senior and experienced local government officers who were always very willing to assist.

Mailing Address:  5 Hauteville Tce EASTWOOD SA 5063   Phone: 8291-7990;   Fax: 8451-1568   E-mail:

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