Name: Wayne Jack
Local government: City of Kwinana
Date commenced as CEO: 6 April 2020
Tell us a bit about yourself/your background
I relocated from Napier in New Zealand, where I was CEO, to take up the CEO role at the City of Kwinana.
My career began in the Royal New Zealand Navy, where I served 22 years at a number of shore establishments as well at sea. I reached the rank of Commander, with stints in East Timor as a United Nations Military Observer and doing Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) in the Arabian Gulf. The Royal New Zealand Navy had a big focus on business excellence achieving Gold standard under the Baldrige excellence framework and it is that focus on business improvement I have continued in other roles I have moved to.
I became a qualified Chartered Accountant in the Navy and was the Management Accountant responsible for the production, management and review of the Navy's $427 million budget, charged with ensuring optimal utilisation of its resources.
My path to local government took me from the Navy to the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management and then to the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, where I was the Director of Corporate Services. My responsibilities included financial management of the Ministry and provision of IT services and corporate support.
In 2009 I began my local government career with a move to Australia, as Director of Corporate Services, first at Lake Macquarie in NSW and then at Yarra Ranges Council in Melbourne.
In 2013 I returned to New Zealand to take up the role of CEO at Napier City Council, which employs about 500 staff to service over 61,000 residents, remaining there until my appointment at Kwinana.
What was it that attracted you to the role of CEO (at Kwinana)?
Kwinana has a lot of opportunities with the expansion of the Industrial area and some large scale commercial operations to be developed that have the ability to provide local job opportunities. Whilst COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the community with increasing levels of unemployment the challenge is to use the economic stimulus packages as well as these new developments to address social exclusion and through developing pathways to employment get people in the community into sustainable employment.
Kwinana also has a remarkable natural beauty within the city with a significant amount of bushland that separates the industrial area. There are a number of opportunities to focus on sustainability within the city, provision of community facilities, whilst managing hyper growth and protecting such areas as environmentally significant wetlands.
Can you give us a quick snapshot of your town and community?
Kwinana is one of the most culturally diverse municipalities in the Perth metropolitan area, with a strong Indigenous heritage. It has a mixture of historic town sites, along with new high growth suburbs and a young population. While there are areas of disadvantage, it is home to some of the State’s major industrial facilities.
Yet Kwinana has unemployment at double the State average and persistent social issues. I thought, so what are the factors that are causing that? Kwinana has done pretty well with economic growth and we will continue advocacy for projects like Westport, a proposed major container port.
We are trying to leverage some of these opportunities to address social issues. We want to build pathways to jobs and put people in sustainable employment.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role and what has been the biggest learning so far?
Having arrived in Kwinana in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, my focus now is to assist Council and the community in the recovery phase. One of my first actions was to assist Council in establishing a recovery committee that worked through the lock-down period to plan for a post-pandemic world. The focus was on both social and economic recovery.
We have some more great commercial developments to be announced soon, so there is a real opportunity to use local people, but we have but got to get them work ready and have support services such as pastoral care in place where necessary.
The openness to change that the pandemic experience has fostered creates an opportunity to relook at how local governments can deliver services in the most effective ways. There is an opportunity for more use of shared services in areas like IT, waste management and purchasing, where we can take a more strategic approach. We can use purchasing to get more local value from contracts to ensure they deliver social and economic outcomes. We can leverage more training opportunities. We can do this more effectively on a regional level.
Tell us about something great your Town is working on and how it is delivering for your community?
We are using the COVID-19 recovery process, including stimulus packages, to target some of the social issues that have been inherent in the community for some time. It is about building community resilience and addressing social inclusion issues. I see the task as critically dependent on local government. Local government needs to work in partnership with state and federal governments on social, economic and environmental issues, but we are closest to the community. If success requires engagement at a community or individual level, then we are best positioned to facilitate and deliver outcomes.