Bega Valley Council General Manager, Ms Leanne Barnes, has been awarded a PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL (PSM) in recognition of her role in Bega Valley Shire Council's response to the natural disasters of 2019-2020. The honour comes just ten days on from Bega Valley Shire Council taking out the award for Disaster Recovery/Emergency Response Management (Population under 100,000) at this year’s NSW Local Government Excellence Awards, managed by Local Government Professionals NSW, are peer recognition of outstanding achievement, innovation and continuous improvement across the local government sector.
PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL (PSM)
Ms Leanne BARNES OAM, Merimbula NSW 2548
For outstanding public service to local government in New South Wales.
Ms Leanne Barnes has shown expertise and commitment in her leadership of the Bega Valley community as it responded to and recovered from 12 natural disasters since 2013, most notably the 2019-2020 bushfires.
As General Manager, she has driven the Bega Valley Shire Council's response to these natural disasters. During the 2019-2020 bushfires, she guided the set-up of evacuation and recovery centres, and the creation of local recovery committees, while always being available to support a traumatised and devastated community.
She was instrumental in bringing together and strengthening collaboration between councils, state agencies and other stakeholders through her involvement in the Canberra Region Joint Organisation, the Southern Region Leadership Executive team and Southern NSW Recovery Committees. She had a profound impact on both the Bega Valley Shire Council and the Bega Valley community through her networks, particularly with the NSW and Commonwealth Governments, by advocating and attracting over $157 million in grant funding to support community assets, services and disaster recovery.
Throughout all the natural disasters that have faced the Bega Valley over the past 8 years, she has developed a reputation of delivering projects to the highest quality and in turn earnt the respect of her peers. She has been able to source information, secure assistance, and advocate for local solutions to support decision making during the height of a crisis, but also in the recovery phase.
She is a dedicated lateral thinker that wears multiple hats and gets things done. She manages a turbulent, ever changing workplace with a steady hand, and encourages her staff to support each other and be empathetic to the challenging and changing environments being experienced right across the community.
Ms Barnes has created a connected, responsive, and committed local government organisation with the confidence to successfully navigate whatever challenges lie ahead, hand-in-hand with the community.