Central Highlands Council to shed 70 jobs in cutback

THE Central Highlands Regional Council will shed 70 jobs in wide-ranging workplace reforms.

The region's economic nosedive, a continued squeeze on available grants and subsidies and the impending end to six years of flood restoration work were the drivers for chief executive officer Scott Mason to trim the 520-strong workforce after a 10-month review.

Raising rates to offset the situation was not an option, Mr Mason said.

Staff have been given a copy of the proposed restructure that will affect all council departments. It will take effect mid-month.

"I think things will get bumpy in the next couple of weeks, but the key thing is there is no final structure prepared yet; it's a draft with a consultation period," Mr Mason said.

"Then we will roll up our sleeves and get on with it."

Mr Mason described one of the biggest challenges facing the council as not having been able to function normally since the 2008 and 2010-11 floods which created $130million in repair work to the road network and town infrastructure.

Less than $5million in Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements- sanctioned work remained.

"This 'abnormal' has been our normal state for six years and if there isn't another natural disaster we won't have that work in front of us - that is what we've got to prepare for," Mr Mason said.

"There was probably room for us to have acted sooner than this, but significant change takes time.

"Around 12 months ago, our staff attrition rate was around 30-35% and that abnormally high turnover was partly to do with the type of economy we're operating in.

"That has dropped to about 10-11%."

Mr Mason said the restructure would identify the positions to go.

He said natural attrition would play its part.

The target was 40 jobs in six months and 30 more by 2016 to create a sustainable business.

"During the delivery of this reform we are relying on natural attrition as much as we can, but we also need to ensure we have a good, healthy succession plan for our staff, being trained and cross-trained so when vacancies arise, they can be filled internally," Mr Mason said.

As part of Mr Mason's vision for the future workforce, he hoped to be able to announce that council would offer a limited number of traineeships and apprenticeships targeting local youth.

"This is about the council giving back to the communities and supporting communities," Mr Mason said.

"If we can recruit local people from our communities, we can grow them up and start to regenerate our workforce locally.

"We need to invest in our people.

"It makes for a better organisation and I think it will have a lasting, positive impact on our culture and instil civic and community pride."

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