Introducing Jon Shillito, Director – Environment, Tourism and Economic Development, Lachlan Shire Council.
When Jon Shillito’s career journey brought him back to Local Government after several years working in the private sector, he immediately noticed the increased level of community engagement through the integrated planning and reporting requirements and the development of community strategic plans. Jon explains, “Today we get a lot more direction from the community, this engagement is far more structured now. I believe it’s really positive – that’s why we’re here, to represent the community so we need to be listening to what they want.”
THE CAREER JOURNEY THAT LED TO CENTRAL WEST NSW
Jon’s career in local government began 20 years ago when he was studying towards a Bachelor of Town Planning at the University of NSW. As part of his studies, Jon undertook 12 months’ work experience with Holroyd Council – now Cumberland City Council. He worked for six months as a strategic town planner, and a further six months in development assessment. He stayed on at Holroyd Council for one more year as a Town Planner until he had finished his degree, and then a further six months as a fully qualified Town Planner.
Jon went on to work for two and a half years as the Manager of Town Planning for Blayney Shire Council before heading to England to live and work in London for two years.
On returning to Australia, Jon continued his planning career in the private sector before accepting a role with Liverpool Plains Shire Council as the Manager of Town Planning. A shift for family reasons took him back to Shellharbour and a role at Shellharbour City Council, before the Central West beckoned with the chance to take on the Director – Environment, Tourism and Economic Development opportunity at Lachlan Shire Council.
A BROAD, CHALLENGING ROLE WHERE NO TWO DAYS ARE THE SAME
From development assessments, strategic town planning, building certification, building management, heritage, construction and compliance, right through to noxious weeds, waste, vehicle purchase and maintenance, economic development and tourism – the list of responsibilities that sit under Jon’s role is extensive.
Jon comments, “No two days are ever the same. That’s something that I really enjoy about the role, there’s no such thing as a typical day.”
Tourism is currently a major focus for Jon. The council has been working on ensuring that visitors to the area have modern amenities to use, and fantastic options for places to stay. Jon explains, “Wwe’ve done a lot of work upgrading facilities in the town centres and also the camp kitchens and amenity blocks at both the Lake Cargelligo and Tottenham caravan parks. We’ve also been upgrading amenities at our various freedom camping sites as well, including the new amenities block at Gum Bend Lake in Condobolin.” He adds, “We’re excited that the construction is about to begin on the new Visitor Information Centre which will be located in front of our iconic Utes in the paddock installation and at the start/end of the popular sculpture trail – Sculpture down the Lachlan. It’ll be fantastic to have that all in place.”
On the days that he’s wearing his economic development hat, Jon is focussed on ensuring the availability of industrial land, to encourage and support the growth of existing businesses as well as encouraging new businesses into the region. As a part of this, there has also been a push to release more land for housing to ensure a sustainable level of stock to accommodate incoming businesses and growth.
Jon is also overseeing the construction of a new council works depot in Condobolin which will act as a central hub, mechanics workshop and storage facility for the teams, vehicles and machinery that look after the 15,000sqkm of land and 4000km’s of roads that make up the Lachlan Shire local government area.
CENTRAL WEST NSW – A REGION THAT OFFERS SO MUCH
The Central West of NSW is a stunning, diverse region. It offers so much and each city, town and village is unique. On living and working in the region Jon reflects on the importance of community feel and the lifestyle it can offer young families, “It’s so diverse across the region; what Bathurst has to offer is different to the Lachlan Shire.” He adds, “There’s a real community feel here that you just don’t get in the big cities. People really look out for each other – there’s always someone who will lend a hand. It’s a calm, natural environment, and it’s so much more relaxed. It’s also a great place to bring up kids, there are great schools and sporting opportunities – kids can just be kids here.”
If you’re considering making the move to the Central West region of NSW, check out the opportunities available right now.