Bega Valley Shire Council has taken out the award for Disaster Recovery/Emergency Response Management (Population under 100,000) at this year’s NSW Local Government Excellence Awards held in Sydney last night.
The annual awards, managed by Local Government Professionals NSW, are peer recognition of outstanding achievement, innovation and continuous improvement across the local government sector.
Council also received a highly commended award in the ‘People, Workplace, Wellbeing’ category for its Recovery, Resilience and Leadership program for staff, and was a finalist in the ‘Environmental Leadership’ category.
Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the awards highlighted the dedication and quality of the staff response to the many challenges of 2020.
“In a year in which the Bega Valley Shire was the most disaster impacted local government area in Australia, Council staff, many of whom were themselves impacted by bushfire, floods and the constraints of the pandemic, rose to the challenge of serving and supporting their community,” Mayor Fitzpatrick said.
“Our submission for the Disaster Recovery / Emergency Response Management category focused on our role during and after the Black Summer bushfires.
“The award panel recognised our response to the immense challenges of the bushfires, floods and COVID, drawing on our previous disaster experience and knowledge.
“We took the lead in advocacy and regional recovery by partnering with the NSW Office of Emergency Management (now Resilience NSW) to create a regional recovery approach, setting up the Bega Valley Local Recovery Committee and piloting a regional recovery plan.
“Our Recovery, Resilience and Leadership program was commended for the work Council did last year to support our people as they supported the community in the aftermath of the Black Summer disaster.”
He said the program delivered training and development in critical incident debriefs, trauma informed care and practice, being an accidental counsellor, resilience in the workplace, managing mental health and wellbeing and managing conflict.
“To support our community we knew we had to support our people to develop skills they might never have expected to need.”
“I want to congratulate and acknowledge all our staff for their commitment to ensuring the ongoing safety and wellbeing of our community through what continues to be a very challenging time for many,” said Mayor Fitzpatrick.