New Shire of Augusta-Margaret River chief will have to tackle growth pressures

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Julia Meldrum.
Camera IconShire of Augusta-Margaret River president Julia Meldrum. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

The hunt is officially under way for the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s new chief executive.

After previous chief Stephanie Addison-Brown’s surprise resignation in December, advertisements for the lucrative position went out this week.

It followed a complicated council meeting last month where elected members fine-tuned the chief’s position description to include biodiversity loss as an important focus.

The job was advertised this week with a salary package up to $340,000.

Shire president Julia Meldrum said the hiring committee sought a candidate with a passion for community engagement and collaboration, and a strong understanding of the social, environmental, and economic challenges coming from the region’s rapid population growth.

“We’re a bucket-list tourist destination with a soaring population,” she said.

“We’re also passionate about protecting our natural landscape, so we need a CEO with a clear vision for supporting a diverse population while also protecting our fragile biodiversity.”

Key criteria for the new role included considerable executive experience in State, Federal or local government, though the job was also open to someone from a not-for-profit background.

The new chief would also boast a “proven record of positive organisational change management and cultural transformation”.

The Times understands that focus was to address the ongoing rollout of changes within the shire aimed at increasing ratepayer satisfaction after the shire last year received blistering feedback in its regular Community Perceptions Survey results.

The shire came in for flak last year from retiring councillor Brian Daniel, a former senior executive at Pfizer, for seeking to “disguise” the survey results.

Mr Daniel also called on former chief Ms Addison-Brown to implement cultural change to refocus the local government on a “can do” approach amid concerns workers were disengaged.

The survey results showed the Shire went backwards in some key indicators of satisfaction, with an eight-point drop in the overall rating for the local government.

The 2019 Catalyse survey ranked the shire as WA’s 16th-best local government, while it dropped to 26 out of 44 in the 2023 survey.

The new job description also included calls for “constructively and proactively engaging with diverse communities” and experience needed “to drive continuous improvement and achieve outstanding frontline services”.

The shire hot seat was currently filled by consultant acting chief Arthur Kyron, a former City of Canning CEO.

Applications for the job closes next Friday, March 15, with Mr Kyron contracted until midyear.

Ms Meldrum said the new chief was expected to start between June and September depending on the outcome of the recruitment process.

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