Shoalhaven Council Officer Wins Women in Local Government Award

Photo caption: Award winning Council Officer Kim White (far right) is congratulated by Rural Fire Service Superintendant Mark Williams, Shoalhaven City Council Mayor Amanda Findley and NSW Police Inspector Ray Stynes.

Shoalhaven City Council’s Local Emergency Management Officer (LEMO), Kim White, has been named Winner of the Alternative Pathways Award in the 2020 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government.

The Alternative Pathways Award recognises a female staff member who is breaking down gender stereotypes and making an important contribution to their local council and community’s overall success.

Shoalhaven City Council’s Mayor Amanda Findley said, “In a traditionally male-dominated role, Kim has delivered reliable and sound management of local emergency planning, preparation and response to Shoalhaven emergency situations since 2010. With a 28-year career in local government, Kim is a valued member of the team at Shoalhaven City Council.”

“Kim is known throughout the organisation for her big heart and outstanding work ethic and is highly regarded by local emergency agencies for her dedication to her position,” she said.

“Kim has helped the Shoalhaven lead the way in best practice emergency management, shaping Shoalhaven emergency planning and response. Her role as LEMO is essential in Shoalhaven City’s preparedness for and response to an emergency,” said Clr Findley.

“This has never been more apparent than during the recent 74-day fire event experienced in NSW that began on 26 November 2019. The Currowan fire claimed three lives, damaged houses and infrastructure and burnt through over 80% of the Shoalhaven, totalling some 4567 square kilometres,” she said.

“As LEMO, Kim worked quickly to stand up the Local Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and played an instrumental role in setting up the EMPLAN and the format of the Centre which is widely known in the industry as best practice in local emergency management. It is a credit to Kim, the Rural Fire Service and the emergency agencies involved that there wasn’t further loss of life and damage to townships and villages,” said Clr Findley.

“Kim worked in the EOC throughout the emergency period, supporting the Local Emergency Operations Controller (LEOCON) in their duties, providing assistance to emergency agencies and keeping up to date with the latest developments as they happened. Kim was working through this disaster as her own house was under direct threat of the fire,” she said.

“After 74 days, the EOC was shut down with the immediate threat of bushfire over. The closure only lasted a few days with the Centre reopening due to a major rain event, with parts of the Shoalhaven being inundated with rain and causing flooding of low-lying areas. Kim moved swiftly again, assisting the SES to get agencies and processes in place to assist in the coordination of the local government response to the weather event, again whilst personally facing direct threat of floods,” said Clr Findley.

As well as the recent Currowan Fire (2019/2020), Kim’s experience and expertise has assisted Shoalhaven residents throughout the Kingiman Fire (2018), Deans Gap Fire (2013) and the Shoalhaven Floods (2015).

Kim’s award is just one of six awards that acknowledge the contributions of inspirational women in NSW councils whose dedication and commitment contribute so much to their local council and community’s overall success.

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