CR KERRI McCafferty has been cleared by her Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor colleagues to undertake a $3900 councillor group coaching program.
The money is within her annual allowance, of which she has so far spent $1540, but required council approval as it was more than $2000.
Cr McCafferty, who was absent from the Tuesday 5 April public council meeting, has been cleared to do the course run by Ruth McGowan OAM.
Ms McGowan, author of Get Elected (the Australian guide on how to campaign for political office) and Best Practice Guide for in Gender Equity in Local Government, for the Victorian Local Government, says her coaching can “assist local government leaders to thrive”.
Cr Sarah Race supported Cr McCafferty’s request to do the course “as we want to be the best that we can be”.
“Leadership skills, community skills, better manage time and communication, can only be a good thing,” Cr Race said.
“The politicisation and weaponising of our council professionally developing is shortsighted.
“Our community should be proud that we want to embark on continuous improvement, so we become better leaders and decision makers.
“One of our tasks as judicious stewards is to limit our blind spots for the unknown unknowns as much as possible, and we do this through professional development.”
Cr Debra Mar said she did not want to “deprive a councillor of furthering their education or to gain knowledge that would directly accommodate their role as a councillor” but “presumed” the $3900 course “does not offer an accredited certificate set by accredited industrial standards”.
“For a group coaching program probably offering a participation certification of sorts using ratepayers’ money I would have to question that … but I’m actually willing to listen to debates around the chamber before making a final decision,” Cr Mar said.
Cr David Gill said he would vote for Cr McCafferty being cleared to do the course as the money was set aside for councillors’ education.
“Whether this particular one meets all the requirements … is a fairly moot point,” he said.
“If you can find what you need from your training, I think that’s satisfactory and in the rules.
Cr Susan Bissinger: “This is clearly a councillor improvement role, it’s not anything else. It’s not billed as anything else. I think it’s a really good move and if Cr McCafferty feels it will benefit her, which I think it will, then it’s a great move for her to initiate this.”
The $3900 course cost was passed on the casting vote of the chair, the mayor Cr Anthony Marsh 5:4: For, Crs Race, Gill, Bissinger and Antonella Celi. Against: Crs Mar, Lisa Dixon, Steve Holland and Marsh.
Absent from the meeting were Crs McCafferty, Paul Mercurio and Despi O’Connor, who has taken leave to contest the seat of Flinders in the Saturday 21 May federal election.