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Local councils around Australia are struggling to remain financially sustainable, with many having taken an extra hit from bushfires and COVID-19. 

Rate pegging and capping, service closures due to social distancing, and cost-shifting from state to local government are just some of the challenges that are impacting current cash flows and councils’ ability to manage assets. 

The pressure is on for councils to improve their financial circumstances. 

 This two-day Masterclass will provide you with the practical strategies and frameworks to implement into your council on order to review your expenditure, strengthen your revenue, gain community support, improve asset management and ultimately thrive financially and create economic prosperity within the community.  

The Masterclass will maximise your active participation through discussion, practical examples and case studies, and the application of real strategies in your council. 


    • 1. Understand and respond to community expectations 
    • 2. Measuring and assessing your financial position 
    • 3. Review your services and expenditure 
    • 4. Identify and utilise alternative revenue streams 
    • 5. Improve your approach to asset management and renewal 
    • 6. Understand the realities and maximise opportunities for government funding 


Sarah Artist

Sarah Artist

Specialist Advisor (Local Government)


Sarah is a highly experienced local government specialist in the areas of strategic leadership, good governance, performance improvement, and innovation and she has a Masters of Public Policy.  

She has held senior management roles within and across the local government sector for over twenty years with responsibility for research, teaching and consulting.  

In recent years Sarah has led the design and delivery of major sector-wide capability and performance initiatives for elected and professional leaders on key topics of sector relevance – including good governance and financial performance, amalgamating councils and local government reform, and developing local government workforce capabilities.  

gavinc copy

Gavin Cator

Specialist Advisor (Local Government)


Gavin is a highly regarded, esteemed and recognised Local Government leader with decades of hands-on experience in the sector. He has been the Chief Executive of Greater Shepparton City Council, Wodonga City Council, Moira Shire Council, Berrigan Shire Council and more. 

In each of the above CE positions Gavin had proven experience in implementing accountable operations, maximising revenue, and improving productivity. This was achieved by facilitating genuine community consultation which provide proven transparent outcomes for any Council and their communities. 

Gavin holds a Bachelor of Engineering, Graduate Diploma of Municipal Engineering, Local Government Engineering Certificate and a Scaffolding Inspectors Certificate. 

He is also a Certified Practitioner, of the Whole Brain Model Hermann International and Australian Rural Leadership Program. Gavin also holds an MBA in Human Resource Management.



Masterclass Day One – 21 October 2020
Masterclass Day Two – 22 October 2020
  • 10:00
    Session one: Understand and respond to community expectations

    Communities and local economies have experienced significant disruptions in 2020, and this session will examine the issues and implications for council finances. It will explore ways that council can target and attract resources to community needs and priorities:

    • Changes to community life – natural disasters, COVID-19, economic hardship etc.
    • Investing in better methods of engagement to understand community priorities
    • Achieving equity in rating and fee structures

  • 11:00
  • 11:15
    Session two: Measure and assess your financial position

    This session will examine some of the key financial benchmarks that provide an indication of council’s position and performance, and also the strategies that can achieve better results. Discussion will focus on your council’s particular drivers and ways you can use the reporting process to communicate results and drive improvements.

    • Choosing and using financial benchmarks and performance ratios
    • Assessing your strengths and weaknesses
    • Improving data and reporting effectiveness

  • 12:30
  • 1:30
    Session three: Optimising your revenue strategy

    In this session we will examine your council’s revenue base, and will assist you to identify opportunities to improve your revenue strategy settings. This includes own source revenues such as rates and charges, business activities, government funding and targeted use of borrowings.  

    • Benchmarking your revenue sources 
    • Examining innovations in revenue 
    • Trends and issues in state and federal funding 

  • 3:00
    End of Day One
  • 10:00
    Session four: Exploring options for reducing expenditure

    This session will explore ways to drive innovation and continuous improvement in reducing expenditure. Identifying cost efficiencies and investigating alternative methods of service delivery can improve council’s operating position, and the procurement process is also key to driving better results.  

    • Review procurement practices 
    • Finding expenditure efficiencies including options for shared services 
    • Reviewing services to assess appropriate levels and modes of delivery 

  • 11:30
  • 12:00
    Session five: Improve your approach to asset management and renewal

    Councils manage significant and complex assets and infrastructure, and this session will focus on establishing adequate systems for asset management including registers, condition assessment, service levels, strategies and systems.  

    • Approaches to asset condition rating and setting service standards 
    • Setting levels of depreciation and asset renewal and maintenance 
    • Developing and implementing an enterprise asset management system 


  • 1:15
  • 1:30
    Session six: Plan ahead for financial sustainability

    This session will bring all of the previous session together in order to consolidate a framework for sound financial management. It will also focus on the key elements of long term financial planning including forecasting and scenario planning that can guide and inform better decision making.  

    • Informing good governance and decisions 
    • Forecasting and identifying the future needs of your council 
    • Implementing long-term budgeting frameworks 
    • Integrating community expectations and preferences into resource planning 

  • 3:00
    End of Masterclass


VENUE:   Online


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