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Journey of improvement

Isaac Regional Council delivers continual improvement through its award-winning Integrated Management System.

Local governments play a critical role in delivering essential services of water, wastewater and waste across the state, often without the rigours of operating in a commercialised business environment.

Balancing customer service, regulatory compliance, safety, quality and environment within the financial constraints of rates, fees and charges requires a best practice approach to achieve long-term sustainability and deliver on stakeholder expectation.

In 2017 Isaac Regional Council made the bold decision to develop and implement an Integrated Management System (IMS) to drive business performance, deliver continual improvement and maximise efficiency across its business.

Within the Isaac region, Council is responsible for managing 23 water, wastewater and waste sites across eight communities spanning a geographic area the size of Tasmania. Due to its size and dispersed population centres, the organisation faces many unique challenges in ensuring consistency of process and managing familiarity and understanding of sites.

The organisation recognised there was a need to embed a systematic and process-driven approach to its water, wastewater and waste business.

It was recognised that the Water and Waste Directorate needed a change and the IMS was identified as being the solution to bring about that change. Historically, best intentions did not reflect best practice. The Directorate decided to shine the spotlight on its failings and to consciously open the door to critical review. A decision that was courageous and showed leadership.

Within three years, the Directorate achieved its vision by attaining IMS Certification across its water, wastewater and waste functions to the ISO Standards of 9001:2015 (Quality), 14001:2015 (Environment) and the Australian Standard of 4810:2001 (OH&S).

The implementation of the IMS provides a roadmap for improvement and efficiency and is helping drive a significant change in culture, processes and enhanced delivery of products and services to the community.

The IMS supports compliance against legislative obligations and best practice principles for safety, quality and environment, and does this with a management system that promotes continual review and improvement.

At an operational level, workers are part of the decision-making process on how things are done. Once a process is determined, workers are expected to follow that process and ensure records are maintained. If opportunities for improvement are identified, through consultation with workers, the process is changed, and continual improvement is celebrated.

Internal audits support the philosophy of plan-do-check-act, and external audits through a JAS-ANZ certification body ensures the Directorate’s management system meets the Environmental, Quality and Safety Standards.

Isaac Regional Council has been recognised as being at the forefront of sustainability winning the 2020 Local Government Managers Association Sustainability Award for Excellence, and the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (Queensland) Award for Environment and Sustainability.