Improving parks for all

Article image - Improving parks for all Outdoor staff upskill for better management of parks and gardens.

Kiama Municipal Council, New South Wales, has many beautiful parks and reserves that need to be managed to ensure the health of the trees, shrubs and other plants, as well as for community safety.

Tree management is a significant part of the work that outdoor staff juggles along with other tasks.

A recent assessment of council procedures and efficiency indicated that the average time taken from receiving the Customer Request for Maintenance (CRM) to closing the job was averaging 47 days and a backlog of 110 jobs were outstanding.

Changes were needed.

Process improvement consultants Thrive Plus were engaged to run a Kaizen workshop for all stakeholders including a resident representative.

The Kaizen event enabled participants to review the end-to-end process, with the customer experience front of mind.

Improvement opportunities were identified and recommendations for change made to the leadership team.

The most significant outcome was sending CRMs directly to the Parks and Gardens team for assessment rather than via the Tree Management Officer for determining what needed to be done and by whom.

Simple jobs could be done straightaway, or at least scheduled while more complex issues would still be referred to the Tree Management Officer.

To enable this simple change the Parks and Gardens teams were trained up to be capable and confident enough to handle the ‘less complex’ tree maintenance.

Council worked with TAFE Illawarra’s Business Development Manager, Ryan Harding, to secure funding from the Local Government Skills Strategy.

Twelve staff completed three TAFE units – Report on Health and Condition of Trees; Perform Specialist Amenity Tree Pruning and Operate a Polesaw.  

The result was 110 outstanding CRMs reduced to 8!

That equates to better public safety in parks and reserves, healthier trees, and happy residents.

Another great outcome is that Parks and Gardens staff now have extra skills and a greater role in keeping Kiama beautiful.