COMMUNITY leaders have gained a better understanding of the role of councillors in the first South Gippsland Shire Council community leadership program.

The 17 participants completed the program last month and applications are already open for the next intake.

The program was part of a suite of ministerial recommendations made when councillors were dismissed in 2019.

Early sessions were held online due to COVID-19, however, the easing of restrictions meant face-to-face sessions were held in Leongatha, Foster, Kongwak and Meeniyan. The sessions utilised local halls and facilities as well as local catering where possible. Every session was facilitated by an experienced consultant, many from Gippsland.

Program participant and executive officer of the Mirboo North & District Community Foundation, Ruth Rogan, said she gained a better insight into the role of councillors and their impact in setting the strategic direction and use of resources for the whole shire, rather than on operational matters.

“In the end, local government is about elected representatives making strategic decisions on behalf of the community to benefit the whole shire, which South Gippsland Shire will subsequently implement,” Ms Rogan said.

“The importance of a positive and constructive relationship between South Gippsland Shire and the council that is chosen to represent us, became really clear.”

Feedback from participants found the Emotional Intelligence & Knowing the Self in Leadership session were popular, with almost half the participants stating that it was the most helpful for their leadership development.

South Gippsland Shire Council chief executive Kerryn Ellis congratulated the community leaders at a celebratory dinner.

“This program has allowed the community to get closer to council and see the work that goes on behind the scenes. On behalf of everyone at council, I wish to thank everyone who participated and provided honest feedback to us on how the program lived up to expectations,” Ms Ellis said.

“We strongly encourage any community member who may be interested in this program to apply via council’s website for the next round.

“It is a brilliant program that provides you with skills you can utilise in your everyday life. It is also a great networking opportunity as you learn alongside other like-minded community members.”

Register your interest in taking part in the next round of the Community Leadership Program at southgippsland.vic.gov.au/leadership.