Emerging Leaders Program – Political Context

21 Sep 2016 11:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

As part of the Emerging Leaders Program participants undertake a full day module on exposure to the political context of local government.

Stephanie Coughlin and Leanne Davis-King from the organising group shared their thoughts on the day.

You were recently part of the ELP Political Context Day organising group, responsible for the planning, development and implementation of a half day workshop for participants.  What are some of the key ideas that you got out of this, and how did this experience assist your professional and personal development?

Stephanie Coughlin, Renmark Paringa Council

This module was organised by our group and of course we wanted the other Emerging Leader’s to really enjoy it. We used the Community Engagement Technique ‘World Café’ to capture what the Emerging Leaders themselves felt was the Political Context in local government. As I was the facilitator it was great to be able to wander to each table and here the view points of my peers. The rest of the group had not experienced this technique before and I was really grateful to them for trusting in it, supporting it and excelling as table hosts.  

I think everyone got something out of the day but for me it was that as local government we have the ability to really be on the same level as the community and help them have their voice be heard. My role is centred on Communications and Engagement and the day reinforced my commitment to our community and I want to continue to learn different techniques to help their voices be heard by State and Federal level.

A highlight of the module was having CEO Mark Withers present. He is a fantastic speaker- unscripted and very frank. I really appreciated the honesty in his presentation; it’s something I would like to see more of in the sector.


Leanne Davis-King, City of Port Adelaide Enfield

Our group recently organised the ELP module on Political Context in local government. We started the day with Mark Withers CEO of City of Port Adelaide Enfield as our key note speaker and then used a World Café Technique to bring people together in rounds of conversations to discuss the question we posed: 'What effect does the political context have on the efficiency of local government?'

From the World Café discussion we generated the following main areas of discussion: structure of local government, competition vs collaboration, confidence and risk, public awareness and education as well as the processes of local government.

A panel of guests discussed the main areas generated from the world café discussion, including Ed Scanlon, Senior Economic Advisor City of Port Adelaide Enfield, Dr Felicity-Ann Lewis, Rebekha Sharkie Seat of Mayo, Lisa Teburea Executive Director LGA. 

Topics posed to the panel included:

  • Risk taking in Council
  • Collaboration/competition (internal, between councils, state, federal)
  • Public awareness/education on council services (general public and EM’s)
  • The council’s structure (and EM structure)
  • Processes – efficiency/effectiveness

The political context session provided an opportunity for the group to explore our own views on political contexts within our workplaces as well as expanding our thinking from listening to the wider group views. As part of the initial planning, the group held discussions with CEO’s, General Managers and other leaders to find out more of the different views within our own councils around the political contexts affecting them.  This expanded our knowledge on our local issues and has made a lasting impression on our political views.


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