High Achiever - Michelle Grainger Executive Manager Major Projects, Moyne Shire Council

Article image - High Achiever - Michelle Grainger  Executive Manager Major Projects, Moyne Shire Council

Energy is becoming a focal feature of Moyne Shire in Victoria’s southwest, with natural gas fields off the southern coast, wind farms being built and operated across the Shire, a gas fired power station and a carbon sequestration project all being developed in the region surrounding the regional city of Warrnambool.

Its stunning coastal and volcanic landscape also produces 30 percent of Australia’s milk, and has abundant cultural and European heritage.  
Executive Manager Major Projects, Michelle Grainger, said, “Council is a great place to work, small enough to feel like you’re connected and part of a family but large enough to offer diverse career challenges.
Grainger has taken on a new role with major projects which has offered her new challenges without having to leave the organization, and affords her the chance to continue to contribute locally.

“I’m a long term local government employee, I’ve always been a town planner and I have worked across regional Victoria in both statutory and strategic management.”

After starting at Moyne in 2012 as Manager Planning, she has recently began to specialize in major projects, particularly wind farms, and economic development. It is a role that has seen her presenting at state planning conferences on issues surrounding windfarm planning and community engagement.

In this role, Grainger has proved a great success, prompting Mayor, Mick Wolfe, to nominate her for recognition as Council’s High Achiever in LG Focus.

“Being with a progressive Shire in a coastal location I have had the opportunity to be involved in pilot projects to understand the impacts of rising sea levels, the confluence of riverine and coastal flooding and be involved with community as we try to adapt, defend and mitigate.”

There are many reasons why Grainger has continued on her career path in local government.

“Planning is a profession that exposes you to so many sectors, from agricultural to industry, home businesses to retail so there is no end of learning, a jack of all trades.  

“A planning career has allowed me to go 800 metres underground, up in a helicopter to detect illegal tree clearing, get close to thousands of pigs, cows and sheep.”

Working collaboratively is her key to good planning outcomes and working with a range of allied professionals keeps her up to date.  

“I’ve managed to make lifelong friends through the councils I’ve worked for.”

She recounts one particularly memorable moment in a varied career.

“It takes me back to the days of the Commissioners, all out doing a planning inspection in the Grampians in the middle of winter, I was the designated driver.

“I advised them that there was no way we’d get down this particular track, but they were all too optimistic about my driving skills, so yes, we got bogged, and gentleman they were, I got to sit in the car, whilst they in their suits, dug and got us out.

“Taking them back to the office covered in mud gave me cred for a while!”

At this particularly challenging time for local government, supporting Council and the community to navigate the complex approvals and processes associated with wind farms is her current priority.  

“As Moyne has a great wind resource and access to the electricity grid, it is Victoria’s hot spot for wind energy.

“Turbines are a relatively new technology and their size and height is growing, as well as the number of turbines.  

“Understanding acoustics, wild life impacts and how to get community benefit from the projects requires balancing.”

Moyne Council has just released its first independent Economic Development Strategy, with a five year Action Plan.  

“Growing agriculture, tourism and renewable energy and boosting our population are key.  

“Ensuring Council applies an economic development lens in day to day decision making to support the growth of our communities is key to delivering our Strategy.

Grainger’s plans for the future include a better lifestyle balance including taking regular holidays.

“I enjoy working at Moyne, having access to all that a regional city offers in Warrnambool, so I think I’ll be happy here for a while yet.”