Local staff make a difference

A PERSONAL COUNCIL: Mayor Noel Playford with Noosa Council staff reflecting on a challenging but rewarding year. Contributed

AS 2014 draws to a close, I'd like to reflect on what I see as one of Noosa Council's great successes of the past 12 months - customer service.

Our small customer service team, based at Tewantin, answers as many as 200-plus calls daily on all sorts of topics.

Between them, these staff members possess more than 100 years' worth of local knowledge, which they draw on daily to assist residents and ratepayers with their inquiries.

Residents tell me that phoning their new Noosa Council is a refreshing change from the regional "super council", where calls were answered out of town by staff unfamiliar with the Noosa region. I'm pleased to share a couple of examples of the different and personal ways in which our Noosa customer service team has assisted local residents.

When a Tewantin resident phoned in concerned for a young bird trapped in a locked rubbish bin, staff were quick to act.

The staff member who took the call quickly identified the bin, found a colleague with a key to open it and a short time later the bird was safely back with its mother in a nearby nest, much to the delight of the resident who called.

In another example, an elderly lady phoned the council after her 16-year-old dog passed away at home. She was distressed and unsure who to call for help.

Tearfully she told the staff member how she'd placed a pillow under her pet's head and covered him with a towel, but the dog's lifeless body was outside and it had started to rain.

Sensing her distress, our staff member made some calls, and despite the unusual nature of the request, she found a Home Assist officer who was happy to visit the lady and help lay her pet to rest. These are two of many examples I've heard this year of how our local staff are making a difference in ways that staff at much larger, less personal, councils likely would not respond in these ways.

So while we talk about the big-picture benefits of de-amalgamation, it's worth acknowledging the smaller things that all help put the "local" back in our local government. On that note, on behalf of our customer service staff and everyone at your new Noosa Council, I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

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