Commitment. Loyalty to the workplace is rare these days some might say – but not Kelly Sweeney who this year reaches a 30-year milestone at Circular Head Council.
Finishing year 10 in 1984, Ms Sweeney went on to complete a secretarial course in conjunction with year 11 and then decided to have what is now known as a ‘gap year’ before returning to school to complete year 12.
It was in that year off that she successfully applied for the role of receptionist at the council, beginning on August 27, 1986.
She never made it back to school, instead progressed through to seven roles within the council, settling now on executive officer civic governance and providing governance support to the general manager, mayor and councillors.
“I commenced this role in September 2007 after the retirement of Mrs Elaine Harvey, who was employed with council for approximately 34 years,” Ms Sweeney says.
While the roles have varied, one thing has remained constant: the wide variety of people she meets.
“I think of myself as a people person, and enjoy helping people,” she says.
“On any one day I could speak with politicians and other government departmental representatives, ratepayers, tourists, fellow employees, and community members.”
Over the years she has seen big changes, like the introduction of computer systems and the implementation of the Local Government Act in 1993 which saw the abolishment of the wards system within Circular Head, and the threat of council amalgamations in 1998.
She has also seen many elected members come and go, as well as at least 140 fellow staff members.
Many funny office moments stay with her, like a coworker’s tie getting stuck in a paper shredder, or that same colleague becoming trapped between his flipped chair and the brick wall behind – feet dangling wildly in the air.
Overall she has enjoyed being a part of the Council as it deals with increasing challenges in providing the best services for the community.
“You have good and bad days and daily challenges – including dealing with difficult people – and you just have to grit your teeth sometimes and deal with it in the best way you can,” she says.
“I guess everyone faces those in their jobs.
“I love this community, and want to see the best for the current and future generations, I guess that has always been in my mind.”
Ms Sweeney was presented with an award for her long service at an annual function, where Works Plus crew Mark Kearnes, Kayne O’Halloran and Andrew Dunlop were recognised for 10 years of service, and Works Plus members Doug Buckby, Trevor Abel and engineering services’ James Brewer, and IT services’ Phil Brunt for five years.