If you're coming to National Congress in Hobart, May 22-24, you'll be able to talk to Anneka Ferguson of Dorset Council (TAS), who was the Australian recipient of the LG Professionals Australia International Professional Exchange Program in late 2016 and completed an exchange trip in Coconino County, USA. Anneka will be presenting on the program and how it has changed her perspective on local government.
Also at Congress, will be Marie Peoples (pictured below), Anneka's host in the USA and the American scholarship recipient, Marie is the Chief Health Officer for Coconino County Public Health Services District. in Arizona, USA.
An excerpt from Anneka's post travel feedback: As we all know, working in local government is busy. And diverse. And ever-changing! And you can get so caught up keeping your head above water and putting out (metaphorical) fires – simply reacting – that you rarely get the opportunity to take a moment to stop, critically analyse what you’re doing, and actually implement change.
Visiting Coconino County in late 2016 was a wonderful opportunity to truly immerse myself in another organisation; to see how local government is managed and coordinated on the other side of the world – and to compare different projects, policies and scenarios with home parallels.
The program also provided the unique opportunity to ‘live like a local’ – which is difficult to achieve when travelling. Marie Peoples was not only the most gracious host, she went out of her way to make me feel welcome and comfortable – and quickly altered part of my original schedule when she found out more about me (my interests and personality / who she thought I would get on with) to ensure the experience was as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.
I got to see how different people, and a different organisation, approached common issues and problems, and felt like a sponge – trying to soak up as much information and as many ideas as I could, with the hope of being able to offer alternative approaches and encourage more sustainable practices back home. I took loads of notes – and have been lucky enough to present to various audiences including elected members, colleagues and community groups on my return. I have passed on names, numbers, notes and more, and relish the chance to play a small part in creating connections and initiating ideas that may lead to a better way of doing things…
I am pleased to be able to attend the LG Professionals Australia 2017 National Congress & Business Expo, a platform where local government professionals from across Australia can not only find out more about this program, but can pick the brains of the two current participants and hopefully apply some new ideas or learnings of their own on their return from Hobart. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Marie again, and showing her the best of what Tasmania has to offer – not to mention filling her head with weird and wonderful examples of local government in Australia.
I highly recommend this program to anyone with an interest in broadening their horizons, but particularly to staff working in an organisation that is open to new ideas and change. You will be able to provide a different perspective and fresh approach – a new way of looking at things – and may become a critical asset for your organisation. I wish future participants all the very best, and hope this program provides a lasting legacy of continuous improvement in local government practice – worldwide!