Christine Cotterill

Governance Manager, Lismore City Council

How did you find the Peer Placement Program overall? Which council did you visit, what department and who did you meet?

I was very fortunate to receive the opportunity to take part in the Peer Placement Program. I applied to visit Tamworth Regional Council. I was particularly interested in their Internal Audit Program and receiving feedback on that. Karen Litchfield was a wealth of knowledge not only about all things internal audit but on the council, the region, governance and local government in general.

Karen was a generous host and had arranged for me to meet with the General Manager to gain his honest feedback on how their internal audit program worked. I received some valuable insight from him. I was also provided time and access to the Executive Manager Strategy and Performance who has a wealth of knowledge in the enterprise risk management area, he was happy to share some knowledge and show his passion. I had time with the Governance Co-Ordinator and was able to discuss and compare a whole range of governance issues and processes.

My visit coincided with a council meeting which I was invited to attend. The meeting was so different to our own meetings it was quite hard to comprehend. It is interesting to see the varying levels of councillor involvement not only between themselves but also in comparison to different councils.

What is a key learning from the program that you will take back to your role at council?

I have many key learnings form this experience some of them are:

  • We are not in this alone, other councils and employees face their own challenges. Some of them are the same and some of them are unique to that particular council.
  • Being able to spend time and relate to people that really understand the inherent challenges in working within Governance in Local Government is so very valuable and in it’s own way a great stress management tool.
  • There is no substitute for experience, being able to access to people that have a lot of experience in this field is such a valuable resource.
  • There are multiple ways to achieve an outcome. By being provided access to knowledge gained and lessons learned from someone with the same goals translates to a saving in both time and effort.
  • A wealth of knowledge regarding the internal audit function being done differently to the way we do it. Lot of potential for improvement.

Would you recommend other members to apply for the Peer Placement Program?

I would 100% recommend the peer placement program to the members. It is an opportunity to extend your knowledge and meet like minded people doing the best they can to achieve outcomes.

What do you enjoy most about your membership with LG Professionals, NSW?

LG Professionals provides me with an instant network of people that have become my brains trust. I hope that I can repay the favour to other people down the track. Always meeting interesting, intelligent and kind people.