It is with great excitement that Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) can share it has been named the 2020 National Council of the Year, as part of the National Local Government Customer Service Network, for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The award nationally recognises the ‘best of the best’ Council response to the global pandemic, with the judging criteria carefully assessed across six areas.

Mayor of the Dubbo Region, Councillor Ben Shields, says DRC was one of the most proactive councils when responding to the community’s needs during the pandemic. Even though Council’s Customer Experience Centres were closed to the public, the team continued taking phone calls remotely, and expedited the launch of its online platform DRC&ME, to response to the needs of the community.

“We were also one of the first councils to find an alternative way of hosting our council meetings, with live stream technology utilised in the Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre (DRTCC) to allow for social distancing. All other councils resorted to patchy Zoom or Teams meetings, but our Council figured out a way to make sure our meetings were accessible via our own in-house technologies and capabilities,” Councillor Shields said.

The judges also noted DRC’s ground-breaking use of social media, live streaming and live broadcasts from Dubbo, which included a picture-in-picture of a NSW Deaf Society Auslan interpreter (who signed in real-time from Sydney Teleport Services studio in Balmain), to get Council’s regular LIVE update message to the community effectively. As well as livestreaming, DRC was also able to simultaneously broadcast its regular COVID-19 updates to every news station in the country, with the updates being played on major news networks and local regional news services.   

The judging criteria consisted of the following elements:

  • Response to challenges
  • Technology/ innovation
  • Service Delivery – face-to-face, working from home, virtual/online
  • Wellbeing, communication and leadership
  • Key learnings and lessons
  • COVID-19 response – a team effort.

Finalists for the award included Sydney-based councils of Bayside, Camden, and Georges River Councils, along with Lake Macquarie City Council and Shoalhaven City Council. Dubbo Regional Council was the only Council west of the Blue Mountains successful in being nominated as a finalist.

“This goes to show that our region is up there with the rest of the country. The way we communicated with our community, and how we continue to communicate with our community, has allowed us to continue offering our awesome services, just in an alternative way,” Councillor Shields said.

Other projects the judges were impressed by included the Macquarie Regional Library’s implementation of its home-delivery service, and the 3D online tours and artist talks at the Western Plains Cultural Centre.

Image caption: One of the many services offered by DRC during the shutdown period was a library home delivery service.


Library book delivery

Last Edited: 06 Nov 2020

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