At our Local Government Forum on Burramattagal land recently, we heard from two speakers, The Hon. Minister Rob Stokes MP and Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons AO AFSM. Their thought provoking talks imparted important experiences and lessons for good decision making that benefit all types of communities.

In this bulletin, I share two of my takeaways from what were insightful and powerful talks.

1. Minister Stokes on risk, red-tape and rules

As a community, organisation and individual we all seek to grow for the better. We seek to innovate and deliver improved outcomes. We seek to do so in a way that balances and respects competing interests.

There is no doubt, decision making is hard. There are many factors that influence decisions, from risk avoidance through to legislative requirements. As the Minister astutely identified, an over focus on all risks, an unnecessary layering of "red-tape" and too many ill focused rules can stymie innovation and growth (and create more risks, red-tape and rules).

Some risk is necessary; indeed, some risk presents opportunities. Some red-tape and rules can help facilitate better decisions. It is striking the balance and establishing a framework that permits entrepreneurship and innovation that is critical. One need to only consider, with the impetus of COVID and lockdowns, the many innovations implemented by organisations that resulted in improvements in customer service and work.

In our organisations we will have policies, procedures and rules for good governance and decision making. The question to ask is: do those rules unnecessarily stymie your organisation's growth, your customer experience and your value proposition? Can you be agile to anticipate innovation and better outcomes?

2. Commissioner Fitzsimmons on resilience

Australia, and NSW, have experienced unprecedented natural disasters over the last few years that have tested our resolve. Hearing from Commissioner Fitzsimmons of the magnitude and severity of those compounding events in NSW was an eye opener.

But what of resilience? Challenged are the old notions of being tough and bouncing back. If you bounce back to the norm - what have you gained? What is normal anymore?

As eloquently observed by Commissioner Fitzsimmons, resilience is much more. It is about learning from each disaster or set back and building back better. It's also about understanding and recognising that disaster recovery is a deeply personal and private journey that looks different for everyone.

In this context, you cannot ignore the importance of mental health and wellbeing. We need to connect people with the services early on and remind them that recovery can be a profoundly emotional journey.

Resilience is not about just taking the hits but it is about knowing when to seek help, talking to each other, checking in on each other, and being honest with ourselves about how we are coping.

When we look after our own mental health, we are better equipped to help others. It is these experiences that helps us become better leaders.

A particularly poignant message given recent events.


We were privileged to have the benefit of their insights and thank them for generously giving us their time.

We all try to adapt, grow and innovate. But doing so successfully involves having the right environment to stimulate better outcomes.

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