Media releases

People leaving city ‘VESPAS’, says leading demographer Bernard Salt
23 February 2021

The rush to the regions is being driven by VESPAS, or the Virus Escapee Seeking Provincial Australia, says leading demographer Bernard Salt.

“VESPAs are scootering out of the city in search of their very own sea change or treechange,” Mr Salt said. “The regions are booming and as they have been touched only lightly by the virus, they’re in hot demand by Melbourne VESPAs looking for a bit of a Bonnie Doon escape.”

Speaking at the first day of the LGPro Annual Conference, Mr Salt said the pandemic had hastened social change on many fronts, including decentralisation, with more people moving from Melbourne to the regions. The challenge was now on for Local Governments to manage big-city expectations in country-town locations, he said.

Mr Salt is one of the keynote speakers to address hundreds of Local Government staff attending the largest gathering for the sector in Victoria, under the theme, Evolution, No going back.

LGPro President Liana Thompson said the online conference was the perfect opportunity for people in Local Government to hear about what was happening in Australia and overseas. “After the year we’ve had, it’s time to reassess what’s on the horizon and hear from experts about we can expect,” Ms Thompson said.

The LGPro 2021 Annual Conference is on this week, Tuesday 23 February to Thursday 25 February. Delegates will explore how Councils are performing in developing resilient communities and nurturing respect for the diverse range of people in the community and who work in the sector. They will also consider how they are relating to their communities, other levels of government and Council staff in a post-pandemic world.

More about the conference and speakers here:

LGPro Appoints New Chief Executive

12th February 2021

The President of LGPro, Liana Thompson, today announced the appointment of Jill Brown as the new Chief Executive Officer of Victoria's peak member association for local government professionals.

"Following a thorough recruitment and selection process, with a pleasingly high number of quality applications, the Board was delighted to offer the position to Jill, who brings over 15 years' experience from local, state and federal government to the role," as Ms Thompson.

Jill Brown is currently the Director of National Events and Public Affairs at the Australian Local Government Association in Canberra, a position she has held for over three years. She has an extensive background working with government, member and peak bodies, including Comcare, Queensland Trust for Nature, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Seafood Services Australia.

Ms Thompson said the Board was very impressed with Jill's breadth of experience and knowledge in developing and implementing strategic directions, working with teams of varying sizes, delivering quality policy and program outcomes, and advocating on behalf of members at all levels of government.

"We are excited about the opportunity to work with Jill on firming up a strategic plan for LGPro for our new board term, and to have someone of her calibre and ability leading our high performing team into the future."

Ms Brown said she was thrilled to be joining such a highly regarded and respected organisation.

"LGPro has a terrific reputation in Victoria and beyond for its first-rate professional development programs, member services, and advocacy activities. The way it has adapted its offerings during COVID-19 has been very impressive, and I am looking forward to working with such an accomplished, forward-looking board and team," said Ms Brown.

Jill Brown will commence with LGPro on Tuesday 9th March 2021.

New LGPro board announced

6 November 2020

LGPro Victoria is pleased to announce its newly elected Board, which for the next three years will guide the strategic direction of the peak member association for people working in local government across the state.

Thirteen local government professionals, including four of the current Board members, nominated for 10 board positions. All eligible members of LGPro were provided the opportunity to vote over a 15-day period, in a poll conducted by independent body, CorpVote.

The new Board of seven women and three men represent regional, rural, metropolitan, and urban growth areas across Victoria.

LGPro Interim CEO Chris Eddy this week welcomed the new Board saying there is a significant agenda to get through across the next few years as the sector adapts to a new Local Government Act.

“Our new Board members bring a great mix of perspective and experience, and representation a wide cross section of the state geographically,” Mr Eddy said.

“It is also very pleasing to note that more than half of our new Board members have previously completed either XLP or ELP, our highly regarded leadership development programs,” Mr Eddy said.

The Board’s first meeting will be held on December 10, when the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer will be elected. The election result will be formally confirmed at LGPro’s Annual General Meeting, which will also be held on that date.

The new Board members are:

Bruce Dobson, Boroondara City Council
Chris Leivers, Yarra City Council
Gail Gatt, Latrobe City Council
Jaime Chubb, Rural City of Wangaratta
Jen Bednar, Casey City Council
Kerryn Ellis, South Gippsland Shire Council
Liana Thompson, Northern Grampians Shire Council
Michael Tudball, Southern Grampians Shire Council
Sally Jones, Moorabool Shire Council
Sue Wilkinson, Darebin City Council

Congratulations to local government's top women achievers

17 September 2020

LGPro President Liana Thompson today joins the list of the Top 50 Public Sector Women as named by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria).

Liana Thompson has worked in local government for 25 years and is Chief Executive Officer at Northern Grampians Shire Council.

The 2020 list includes six women working in the Victorian local government sector, with five of them members of LGPro.

They are Michelle Fitzgerald and Linda Weatherson from the City of Melbourne, Carolyn McClean of City of Boroondara, Juliana Phelps from the Shire of Towong, Jenny Scicluna of Cardinia Shire Council.

Liana Thompson said she was honoured to join a roll call of women who are making a difference while working for councils and communities. “As the saying goes, it's an honour just to be nominated and to be in such distinguished company. I’m humbled to think that my contemporaries put my name forward and that I was judged suitable for inclusion in this year’s list,” Ms Thompson said.

“What a marvellous credit for each of us. I can say for myself I am honoured to be in such good company.

“Obviously, the list demonstrates how women working local government are among the state’s best and are performing at the highest level.  It’s a wonderful acknowledgement for us all to be named among such a tremendous collection of talented and capable women working in the public sector.”
Ms Thompson joins other present and former LGPro board members on the list which includes: Celia Haddock, Julie Reid, Justine Linley and Rebecca McKenzie.

The Top 50 Public Sector Women 2020 were chosen through a nomination process from different organisations across the public sector, including government departments, local governments and statutory authorities. 
You can find the complete Top 50 list here:

Councils want greater say in economic recovery as brunt of pandemic hits women hardest 

14th July 2020

LOCAL Government peak body LGPro is calling for councils to have a greater say in the state’s economic recovery, as statistics show Victorian women are increasingly bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evidence is mounting that the pandemic is causing a “pink recession” and with Melbourne’s re-entry into lockdown, the situation will only worsen for women.  In the first three months of the pandemic, Victorian women’s jobs fell by 106,500, while men's jobs for the same period fell by 87,000. Women's share of job losses within Victoria, at 55 per cent, is even higher than the Australia-wide figure of 53 per cent.

“This is a different situation to what we’ve faced in past economic slowdowns,” said LGPro President Liana Thompson. “We’re seeing an unprecedented situation that no government has officially identified or addressed, and that is that women’s jobs are being hardest hit in the pandemic. 

“Local Government is closest to the community and is best placed to work on solutions,” Ms Thompson said. 

The emergence of a pink recession is borne out in the work of leading economist and gender equity expert, Leonora Risse of RMIT University.  

While latest Australian Bureau of Statistics showed women were losing their jobs in higher numbers, government policy was out of step by propping up jobs in male-dominated industries, such as construction and trades.  Previous recessions hit male-dominated industries such as building and manufacturing, but 2020 was different. 

“We are seeing greatest losses in hospitality and retailing, industries that are huge employers of women. And we are especially seeing large job losses among part-time workers, who are predominately women,” Dr Risse said. 

She said it was therefore, “essential to apply a gender lens when formulating an economic response”.  “This is not just a gender equity issue. It's what Australia needs for the best possible chance of a full economic recovery.” 

Dr Risse has been invited to speak about the impact of the pandemic, and how government can apply a “gender lens” to policymaking, at this month’s Women’s Development Forum hosted by Local Government Professionals (LGPro), the member association for staff working in Local Government in Victoria. Also speaking is Banking Association spokesperson and former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

LGPro is the leading voice and peak member association for people working at all levels in Local Government in Victoria and represents all 79 councils across the state.

LGPro’s three-day Women’s Series is being conducted online for the first time, Wednesday 22 July - Friday 24 July, providing a forum for people working in Victorian Local Government to lean, discuss and develop professionally. For more information, go to:

From the AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS, Labour Market surveys:
From February to May 2020, Victoria shed 193,000 jobs, the majority of which were lost by women: Women's jobs fell by 106,500, while men's jobs fell by 87,000.
Within Greater Melbourne alone, women's jobs fell by 97,000, men's jobs fell by 76,000, during the first 3 months of the pandemic.
Women's share of job losses within Victoria, at 55%, is even higher than the Australia-wide figure of 53%.

Act ushers in sweeping reform across Local Government

The Local Government Bill 2019 was passed through Parliament today and marks the beginning of a new era in Local Government. It is expected that the Bill will be granted royal assent by next week.

LGPro welcomes the new Act as it will be the catalyst for modernising, reforming and re-energising the entire sector.   

LGPro President Liana Thompson believes the new act will help drive genuine and far-reaching transformation of the sector by enabling and encouraging councils to be more entrepreneurial and innovative in the way they deliver services.

Read media release >>

LGPro media release - 17 March 2020

LGPro is pleased to be teaming with Maddocks Lawyers from March, to host a series of webinars and information sessions (online initially) to support metropolitan, regional and rural Councils throughout 2020. Stay tuned for updates and details on our website.