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At our Local Government Forum on Burramattagal land recently, we
heard from two speakers, The Hon. Minister Rob Stokes MP and
Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons AO AFSM. Their thought provoking
talks imparted important experiences and lessons for good decision
making that benefit all types of communities.
In this bulletin, I share two of my takeaways from what were
insightful and powerful talks.
1. Minister Stokes on risk, red-tape and rules
As a community, organisation and individual we all seek to grow
for the better. We seek to innovate and deliver improved outcomes.
We seek to do so in a way that balances and respects competing
There is no doubt, decision making is hard. There are many
factors that influence decisions, from risk avoidance through to
legislative requirements. As the Minister astutely identified, an
over focus on all risks, an unnecessary layering of
“red-tape” and too many ill focused rules can stymie
innovation and growth (and create more risks, red-tape and
Some risk is necessary; indeed, some risk presents
opportunities. Some red-tape and rules can help facilitate better
decisions. It is striking the balance and establishing a framework
that permits entrepreneurship and innovation that is critical. One
need to only consider, with the impetus of COVID and lockdowns, the
many innovations implemented by organisations that resulted in
improvements in customer service and work.
In our organisations we will have policies, procedures and rules
for good governance and decision making. The question to ask is: do
those rules unnecessarily stymie your organisation’s growth,
your customer experience and your value proposition? Can you be
agile to anticipate innovation and better outcomes?
2. Commissioner Fitzsimmons on resilience
Australia, and NSW, have experienced unprecedented natural
disasters over the last few years that have tested our resolve.
Hearing from Commissioner Fitzsimmons of the magnitude and severity
of those compounding events in NSW was an eye opener.
But what of resilience? Challenged are the old notions of being
tough and bouncing back. If you bounce back to the norm – what have
you gained? What is normal anymore?
As eloquently observed by Commissioner Fitzsimmons, resilience
is much more. It is about learning from each disaster or set back
and building back better. It’s also about understanding and
recognising that disaster recovery is a deeply personal and private
journey that looks different for everyone.
In this context, you cannot ignore the importance of mental
health and wellbeing. We need to connect people with the services
early on and remind them that recovery can be a profoundly
Resilience is not about just taking the hits but it is about
knowing when to seek help, talking to each other, checking in on
each other, and being honest with ourselves about how we are
When we look after our own mental health, we are better equipped
to help others. It is these experiences that helps us become better
A particularly poignant message given recent events.
We were privileged to have the benefit of their insights and
thank them for generously giving us their time.
We all try to adapt, grow and innovate. But doing so
successfully involves having the right environment to stimulate
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