Our Mutual is as strong as our members.

And to continue putting our members first in all we do, we need direct input from our membership base. It’s a must.

That’s why we’ve created a new layer of member engagement. One that will also allow us to tap into our collective intelligence and experience.

Enter the Risk Advisory Group.

A group that stands in the gap

At Statewide Mutual, we’re always looking to improve our products and services. And what better way to do that than to ask the people we serve – our member councils – what they need?

While our Board is made up of representatives from the regions, we believe it’s important to include a wider range of members in our plans and processes.

One that could represent the diversity in our membership even more.

So in 2022, we created the Risk Advisory Group (RAG) – to act as an additional layer of input between the Statewide Mutual Board and our regional risk management team.

The RAG exists to:

  • Advise the Board on emerging strategic risk management matters
  • Provide feedback on the relevance of our initiatives, resources and broader service delivery
  • Support our regional risk management team in driving collaboration with – and value for – member councils

But crucially, the RAG also allows us to engage directly with a more diverse group from our membership – including risk and operational staff.

Representatives in the RAG

The RAG has a balanced representation from both small and large councils, across metro, regional and county areas.

We’re also delighted to see a mix of senior executives, risk practitioners and operational managers of all experience levels and varied expertise – including on roads, waste facilities, IT and governance.

With this diversity, we can receive more holistic input on the issues affecting NSW councils – and how our Mutual can assist them.

The RAG is led by:

  • Jason Linnane, General Manager, Singleton Council (Chair of the RAG)
  • Robert Humphries, Senior Regional Risk Manager, Statewide Mutual
  • Steve Eckart, Regional Risk Manager, Statewide Mutual

And the RAG members include:

  • Steven Millett, Service Leader Assets Sustainability & Environment, Albury City Council
  • Michelle Koopman, Enterprise Risk Manager, Berrigan Shire Council
  • Mark Dowling, Director Corporate & Community, Hay Shire Council
  • Belinda Harvey, Governance & Risk Manager, Newcastle City Council
  • Clare Baggott, Lead Enterprise Risk & Safety, Randwick City Council
  • Lauren Edwards, Governance & Risk Manager, Rous County Council
  • Anton Usher, Manager Corporate Governance, Sutherland Shire Council
  • Karen Pegler, Director – Corporate and Community Services, Lachlan Shire Council

Bringing balance and benefits

Since it began in August 2022, the RAG has met three times to discuss recommendations from the regional risk management team and proposed Board initiatives. It will continue to meet quarterly – through both in-person and virtual meetings.

It’s been less than a year, but already we’ve seen the benefits of this group.

First, the RAG members’ feedback has helped us understand the perspective of management and leadership teams – as well as the people on the ground.

It also gave us the opportunity to educate a wider sphere of members on what Statewide is all about. Plus, this extra layer of member engagement ensures more transparency and governance from our side.

For people who’d like to one day contribute to Statewide in a bigger capacity, the RAG can also work as a stepping stone. This was the case for Daniel Thoroughgood, Group Manager Governance & Information Services at Kempsey Shire Council – who started as a RAG member before progressing to the Statewide Mutual Board this year.

And finally, the RAG helps us prioritise the services and systems we need to address. This enables us to find the balance between meeting underwriters’ requirements and our members’ most pressing needs.


Hear from our RAG members – in their words

Belinda Harvey
Enterprise Risk Manager, City of Newcastle

I saw the RAG as a chance to give back to an industry that I’ve been a part of for 20+ years.

I also liked the concept of the RAG and what it set out to achieve. Because it is made up of diverse individuals, the RAG can provide a different perspective for the Statewide Mutual Board’s consideration.

Personally, the RAG has allowed me to understand and appreciate just how much Statewide is here for its members. I’ve seen first-hand how the Mutual makes decisions to help its members with all aspects of risk management – from practical considerations via the CIP initiative, right through to the RAG, which focuses on enterprise risks.

I’m excited to continue working with a highly specialised and experienced team through the RAG. Together, we can influence the Board by providing practical examples and suggestions based on on-the-ground experiences.

Steven Millett
Service Leader Assets Sustainability & Environment, AlburyCity Council

I joined the RAG for a few reasons. I saw it as an opportunity to gain knowledge in risk management and bring it back to my council.

While I’m not a risk professional specifically, risk is a fundamental consideration in the teams I manage every day. And the RAG allows me to build my network and learn from others in the industry.

I also believe my background could bring a different perspective to the group. My role at AlburyCity covers broad areas, including asset management, waste facilities, emergency management and environment protection. I also have a special interest in the impacts of climate change and how local government can be better prepared for the challenges ahead.

The RAG has grown my understanding of what Statewide Mutual provides its member councils. I’ve enjoyed the vibrant, dynamic group, and formed a new network of colleagues who have changed the way I think about risk management.

Through open discussion, sharing our experiences and learning from our mistakes, we can work together to put systems in place that will make our communities safer. I believe the Board is listening to the RAG’s voice – which will make a big difference.

Lauren Edwards
Governance and Risk Manager, Rous County Council

I wanted to be a part of the RAG to ensure the Board is supported by a diverse group of the Mutual’s membership across NSW.

Feedback and advice from staff with day-to-day responsibilities for risk management are essential to ensure informed decision-making at the Board level. And the emerging risks and resourcing issues affecting county councils and regional councils, such as those across Northern NSW, are often different to those experienced by metropolitan councils.

That’s why I believe it’s important for an advisory group to maintain a broad, rather than city-centric, perspective.

Since joining the RAG, I’ve given voice to the challenges experienced by county councils and my peers at local councils across the Northern Rivers. And in turn, share with them the collective advice and wisdom from the RAG members.

Through the RAG, I hope to advocate for risk management services and products suitable for all types of councils. But particularly, for county councils and local councils across the Northern Rivers.

Want to learn more about what Statewide Mutual does – and how we can support your council? Speak to your Regional Risk Manager today.

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