Mrs Jane Bange
We are closing in on the last part of a year like no other. COVID-19 has been a huge disruptor across our society and Council’s operations have had to be modified considerably.
Though our indoor staff were largely able to work from home, I wish to focus my piece on those staff who didn’t have this option. This is predominantly our Depot staff and I wish to personally thank them for maintaining their output through a very challenging time, still ongoing.
Our Depot staff are outdoors, doing the work we often take for granted but which is crucial. Imagine if our weekly rubbish wasn’t collected?
The range of work our Depot Staff tackles ranges from graffiti removal, tree planting and pruning, playground audits and maintenance, street sweeping, footpath and road works, line marking, mowing, aeration and fertilisation of sporting grounds and reserves, planting of garden beds, maintenance of vehicle fleet including the servicing of rubbish trucks, removal of dumped rubbish and, when public events are running, preparation and cleanup. 0
No doubt I haven’t covered the full range of their operations but you can see it is extensive and really affects the appearance and amenity of our suburbs.
When COVID first presented and restrictions were enforced, these hit our Depot staff particularly hard, given the largely physical nature of their workday.
Start times were staggered, only one person allowed per vehicle, and crew sizes were limited. Imagine trying to undertake physical work, such as heavy lifting, requiring more than one person, while still socially distancing. Yet, as I travel round our Council area, I see no deterioration of standards over the COVID months and indeed can notice improvements done by our Depot staff and this makes me so proud.
Before getting elected, I failed to appreciate the extent of assets for which our Depot staff are responsible. Unlike neighbouring Unley Council (which covers a mere 14 square km) our Council area is five times bigger. We are very fortunate to have large swathes of open space, but these require considerable staffing resources to maintain.
To provide more perspective, our Outdoor staff maintain 190 reserves, 120 garden beds, 13 sports grounds/ovals and 68 playgrounds. This is a massive undertaking, especially in summer when grass and weeds grow so quickly.
I hope that, by highlighting the scale and extent of Council’s operations, residents might be more mindful of how their rates - comprising just five per cent of all government tax paid by residents - are spent.
As I said, before getting elected, I had no idea that Council had so many responsibilities. In this article I have highlighted the crucial work of our Depot staff, but Council’s operations are more extensive, including immunisation, school holiday programs, kindergartens and aged care services, to name a few areas of responsibility.
In closing, I hope that 2021 will be less challenging for all of us as we adapt to the changes that COVID continues to impose.