Saturday, September 21, 2019

Councillor's fears for community connectedness

Cr Julie Triffett.
A COUNCILLOR has expressed grave concern for the Derwent Valley community following fallout from the poisoning of birds at a New Norfolk playground. Cr Julie Triffett told Thursday night's Derwent Valley Council meeting that she feared whether or not the local community would still rally together in the event of a natural disaster.

“I have grave concerns for this community after the reaction following the geese event,” Cr Triffett said. “If we unfortunately had a major disaster, loss of life, loss of property, would this community rally together, or would it turn on itself and each other? Do we have the connectedness now to be able to sustain us through a disaster?”

While successfully proposing that the council develop a resilience policy for its staff, Cr Triffett said outside distractions had prevented the current council members from working together as a team.

“One of the distractions and disappointments is when items are passed on to the media before the relevant people or person get to see it, and when councillors are reported having made comments to the media when the mayor is the spokesperson for the council,” she said.

Cr Triffett said the council had received a “relentless battering” since the poisoning of birdlife at Tynwald Park in June. The impact had been felt by both staff and councillors.

Council general manager Greg Winton stood aside while the incident was investigated but the findings have not yet been made public, due to similar inquiries taking place at the State Government level. Mr Winton returned to work but is now on personal leave.

Cr Julie Triffett, standing, addressing her motion for a council
staff resilience policy.
Cr Triffett she said her motion for a resilience policy had come from her "frustration, anger and disappointment at what has happened and what is still happening. These are my thoughts and feelings alone. I have not spoken about any of the things that have happened recently."

Cr Triffett said she could have had a lot to say as an individual, but as a councillor she must to use words that were respectful, non-judgmental, non-confrontational, and could not be misconstrued.

“Social media storm after social media storm has not helped any situation,” Cr Triffett said.  “Yes, there have been mistakes from inside and outside council, but it is easy to become a keyboard warrior with no consequence.”

She said mayor Ben Shaw had apologised for “distress and hurt” caused by comments in leaked messages, but she asked who was going to apologise for suffering and distress to the council organisation caused through social media.

“From the mayor, councillors and the general manager down through to council officers, we all live in this community with our families and friends, so when one person is hurting it has a ripple effect. We all breathe and bleed the same way.”

Cr Triffett said her motion, which was carried unanimously, aimed to give council staff the strategies and tools to better deal with highly emotional people in a stressful environment.

Cr Rachel Power speaking at the meeting.
Cr Rachel Power commended Cr Triffett. "I think that is a perfect motion. I think that what you have expressed certainly resounds with me and my feelings and things that are going through in my life at this point as well," Cr Power said.

“And I think people don't quite understand that we are people and we're here to do a job but that doesn't mean that we're as resilient as the politicians that are paid the big bucks and are there to ignore this sort of thing. I think that we are part of the organization and we are responsible for the organization in the same breath, and I think that that having a resilience policy is a really good way of expressing that, so well done."

No other councillors spoke on the topic and the motion was carried unanimously when put to the vote. Mayor Ben Shaw and Councillor Paul Belcher were absent from the meeting, which was held in the hall at the Bushy Park War Memorial Swimming Pool.


  1. I think Councillor Triffett is selling the community short,it has been demonstrated that they are indeed coming together, in their opposition to the lack of transparency that we at present see in Council.I would like to see the Mayor sanctioned by his peers for his comments in regard to Mr. Warner and other members of the Valley Vision committee,also his interaction with an employee and the inappropriate comments he made concerning other staff members that were then published on social media.It is all very well to 'Victim Blame' when things get tough but the truth of the matter is people are upset with what is happening, they need clarification ,truth and most of all understanding from their representatives which at this point they are not getting.We the ratepayers are not the enemy,we are confused ,hurt and angry about what is happening and as so often happens when the facts are not conveyed to the people in a timely manner gossip and rumour run rife, as appears to be the case now. So let us have that truth, no more secrets, bearing in mind in this day and age no secrets are safe.

    1. This one of the best summaries I have read. The author of this comment is absolutely spot on and the elected members just do not get it. Councillor Power needs to be told that although she is correct when she says that Councillors do not earn big bucks, but they do earn and are elected therefore you are open to any criticism that comes your way. Remember that's not bullying

  2. I understand where Councillor Triffett is coming from, our Community does seem tobe divided at the moment and Social Media is at faukt and the keyboard warriors, the faceless people who hide and then the rest of us who have a say and get a mouthful for doing so.
    I still believe that we have a right to know who is to blame for the gees, duck and plovers, all the council know so why can't we?

  3. This wouldn't even be an issue if proper protocol was followed in the first place. Guilt tripping the community for speaking out against incompetence and cover ups. Absolutely nothing to do with the coming together in a catastrophe, this incompetent council is the catastrophe!

    1. Omg! You just hit the nail on the head well done. This council is a disgrace.

  4. If there was a natural disaster this council would just deny it anyway!

  5. "Cr Triffett said her motion, which was carried unanimously, aimed to give council staff the strategies and tools to better deal with highly emotional people in a stressful environment."

    The motion has highlighted the fragile and interconnected relationship between daily events, our reputation & our community ties into greater focus.

    "We shouldn't underestimate the importance of any challenging events in the valley; they will have the power to impend the stability of our community."

    When focusing on resilience & the issues that impact and drive policy development it's important to ask what is the "most effective" solution to resilience available?

    The gross error in all of this are all those who cannot countenance (support or approve) this conversation.” A good demonstration of resilience within this space would be the question "WHY is that folk do not feel safe enough to put a name to comments". i'm looking forward for when the policy is put to us for comment.

    1. Repercussions, judging by some who have voiced their discontent. Sad state of affairs when people feel the need to be anonymous in voicing opinions because their scared of their own representatives.

  6. Do I understand by this grandstanding motion that the staff need to have another committee to manage 'resilience'??? What the staff need is councillors NOT to manage the staff but leave all staff directions and management to those appointed and paid to do it.As for the Mayor he needs to publicly apologise directly not only to Mr Warner and the former Valley Vision members, but to both the staff member and the journalist he particularly slurred in his dreadful text messages exposed on social media.