Moore focus on shire - and social justice

By Lachlan Durling

IN HIS own words, Declan Moore may just be one of the worst people to work for.

Not because of jokes that might fall flat in the office, or because he has unrealistic expectations.

No, but because he questions everything.

So when he stepped into the Campaspe Shire Council offices on Heygarth St the questions began flying.

Mainly to try and decipher what people meant when they said Lanky, Tonny, Gunny, Rochy, Locky, Ky, Leitchy, Rushy, Gig, Colbo – and don’t even mention Bamawm.

But after taking the reins it is more so about what he sees his coworkers doing, and why they do what they do.

“It makes me a very difficult employee, manager or senior officer because I ask the questions,” he admitted.

“It’s not because I don’t think people care or that they are not doing the very best they can, but sometimes a new set of eyes is helpful.

“So, any time we should be doing something, we should be looking at it from a different angle.”

Mr Moore had spent the past three years in Ireland as the regional director of the north east region for St John of God Community Services, one of the largest voluntary religious agencies in Ireland that delivers a range of health services including residential, respite and day services for people with intellectual disability.

But his career in local government began more than 40 years ago while he was a student nurse and was elected to South Australia’s City of Salisbury council.

He quickly became immersed in the disability service sector and while on council would petition for issues that concern young people and people with disability.

“My very first career, I trained as a nurse in intellectual disability in Adelaide many years ago. So I worked in disability in residential care and I guess I’ve had parallel careers there ever since,” he said.

“I’ve always got one foot in the aged/disability space, around more health and social justice-type issues and then this local government career as well.”

Although he admits when he first started, he didn’t feel all too qualified to petition for items.

“I had no lived experience of someone living with disability, I had no experience of being a ratepayer because I wasn’t when I was elected,” he said.

“I was on there pushing for things for young people because I was young, but probably within the first couple of months of being elected, by asking questions, you realise, strangely, the community is made up of more than people with disability or young or aged people.

“I’ve moved between the two and when I look at my CV I think it makes sense – others might think ‘he’s a bit flighty’,” he laughed.

“It’s this dual thing, one of the things about this particular position is that it’s obviously in local government and local government has such a range of services and statutory responsibilities.

“All of which over the years have interested me and the one common link between any of the services I’ve been involved with has been this notion – it’s a bit twee I suppose – of customer service.

“And what I learnt in working in disability with families and individuals really helped me in terms of my local government career because you started to ask those questions and tried to get different perspectives.”

And he soon realised that if there isn’t any community input into anything you do – you’re bound to be out of touch with your community.

“In a previous council, we’d put on a show and hope people would come. And when they didn’t, we’d scratch our heads,” he laughed.

“And the reason they didn’t come is it’s because no one was actually interested in it. So when you start from the other end, people get what they want.

“I would be telling fibs if I said I thought people identified as being residents of Campaspe Shire, there is such a strong local sense that people identify with their community.

“And that is what we need. The local neighbourhoods are the most significant piece of infrastructure in a community.”

As a fresh set of eyes coming to the twin towns, Mr Moore said every community in Campaspe is vastly different – and has something different to offer.