2023 ‘Career Starter’ Category Honourable Mention

Cumberland Council, NSW

Mentoring and Development Program

People in a room sitting on blue chairs watching a speaker at the front. Photo credit: Cumberland Council, NSW

The Initiative

Council’s 2022 Mentoring and Development Program was developed to enhance the skills and experience of emerging leaders across the organisation.

In participating in the Mentoring and Development Program, a cohort of staff had the opportunity to explore career development opportunities for both their current role and future career path.

This allowed Council to ensure succession planning is occurring within teams, improving workplace culture and assisting with retaining staff, as well as strengthening working relationships across levels of management within the organisation.

In addition, the program also fulfils goal four of Council’s Community Strategic Plan, being to provide local leadership and to serve the community in a sustainable and transparent manner.

The Program commenced in April 2022, through a partnership with APA Training and Development, for a duration of eight months. The first cohort of the program consisted of seven mentors, all of whom held leadership positions within the organisation, and 11 mentees from various departments across Council.

The Mentoring and Development Program also focused on ensuring equal opportunities for staff across the organisation, and a key target of the program was to ensure that 50 percent of participants throughout the Program were women.

The Program was tailored to cover the topics of professional development, mentoring and growth, projects and communication, people and performance, managing change and presentation skills.

The Mentoring and Development Program had a profoundly positive impact upon the emerging leaders of Cumberland in providing them with the opportunity to develop their skills, both professionally and personally.

Staff who participated in the Mentoring and Development program were also provided with the opportunity to further their skills and represent Council through participating in the 2023 Australian Management Challenge.

Council’s 2022 Mentoring and Development Program achieved overwhelming success which has been evident through the progression of staff who participated. Most notably, these staff have been provided with acting and secondment opportunities in leadership roles across the organisation, and have had the opportunity to practically apply the skills they developed throughout the Mentoring and Development Program.

Group photo of smiling people. Photo credit: Cumberland Council, NSW

About the Category

The ‘Career Starter’ category recognises outstanding career starter initiatives in local government which:

  • support entry-level employment opportunities in local government through apprenticeships, traineeships or cadetships;
  • implement initiatives in the workplace which help to improve the progress and representation of junior employees;
  • establish programs to support and encourage emerging leaders, including mentoring, networking and training opportunities; and/or
  • demonstrate an outstanding apprentice, trainee or cadet who is making a difference to their community and workplace and who has been outstanding in all aspects of their training.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • promoting greater roles for young people, new entrants and those seeking a career change;
  • increasing workforce participation from people of all ages, and supporting succession planning and knowledge retention in the council and community; and/or
  • creating new opportunities for members of the community to work and stay in their region while being able to reach their potential.

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