Around 40 per cent of Kiama Council’s indoor staff are working from home, with the rest working at a network of Council sites, as Kiama’s largest employer adapts to the new reality.
“The only facilities that have closed that have a staff impact are the Leisure Centre, the Library, the Visitor Information Centre and the Youth Centre,” says General Manager Kerry McMurray.
Ruling out standing people down, he says he is maximising the opportunities for the redeployment of staff.
“We are working on ways to redeploy some of those staff, and we already have staff spending significant time finding and establishing different means of delivery in this environment.”
Examples of this ‘reimagining’ is a system developed for the click and collect of library books and the online delivery of exercise classes by Leisure Centre instructors.
Some staff may move to outdoor roles, and others may take over some roles previously undertaken by Blue Haven volunteers.
Spare capacity is also being utilised by projects such as scanning old DA files and digitalising other records, and improving the website.
“We are very much of the view that, whatever level of lock down we may or may not reach, we are an essential service and will continue to deliver the services we always have.”
Outdoor staff are continuing with their roles, within the safety constraints.
“In everything that Council is doing, the utmost priority is the safety of our community and our staff,” says Mr McMurray.
“That is at the forefront of every decision.”
At time of writing, no special subsidies have been announced for councils and they do not qualify for the Job Keeper program.
At the same time, Council is being hit by drops in revenue by the closure of its tourism parks, suspension of fee revenue from licences and down turn in other business activities.
“There is very little doubt the impact of the tourism park closures and the tourism decrease is having a significant impact on Council’s financial situation,” says Mr McMurray.
“As everything keeps changing we’ll need to keep monitoring and modelling the ongoing impact of this situation, but it will be significant.”
Council’s Response Team, comprising the Executive and other staff members, is meeting twice daily to review and respond to the latest developments.
“General managers from councils across the Illawarra are working collaboratively to develop consistent responses on a regional basis where at all possible, so we are consistent and not creating confusion between communities,” says Mr McMurray.
“Every second day we wait for the National Cabinet to meet and see what we have to implement as a result of the latest decisions.”
The April meeting of Council will be conducted using video conferencing, and will be streamed live as per usual practice.
At time of writing, the process for Public Access, where the public can make their cases on items in the Business Paper, is yet to be determined. Various options are being assessed.