Dyan Currie is the Chief Planner for Brisbane City Council and she was also the president of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) at the time Kirsty Kelly was the CEO. It was a significant time and one that is worth reflecting on.
Here are some of her edited comments
Place making is all about making really vibrant places that people like to enjoy and to linger, which also usually results in successful businesses around them. So they can be commercial spaces. They can be places where we stop or, like a great park, they could be a really wonderful suburban location.
Applying a sense of place to work and institute Environments
In my profession as a planner, we're all about creating all great places to live, work and play. So great working environments are part of a city that's easy to get around in and be successful in because we all want our communities to be filled with prosperous, happy and healthy people.
The Value of Organisations supporting participation in Institutes
For our professional institutes, members who form the governing committees tend to give a lot of time. And in my case, I did that, and still do, because you learn a lot. You form great professional networks, but you also form strong personal relationships.
I've been incredibly lucky that my mentors very early in the piece, suggested I take part in my Institute. It's led me to amazing professional networks and opportunities. I have a worldwide network of senior colleagues that I can lean on, but that has also then led me into the opportunities I have. Professionally, I'm the Commonwealth Association of Planning President; so I represent 40,000 planners working around the world and I'm now a co-chair of a UN advisory group about stakeholders. So all of which comes because of my time in the Planning Institute.
My time with my Institute has led me to constant professional education and growing and learning, as well as the wonderful network of friends that I have. I've been really grateful that each of the councils that I've worked for, as a local government planner, has understood and appreciated the importance of being a member of the professional association.
And they've let me undertake the roles and continue to do so. And that for them, I think, has also meant having access to that network of people and knowledge. I've been able to just immediately go out into a network Australia and now worldwide to say: “Here's a problem. Are there solutions out there or are there things to be watching for?”
Working with Kirsty at PIA means understanding the nature of members and their interaction with the Institute
Kirsty and I joined the PIA about the same time. I became president just ahead of her becoming CEO, and we were looking to raise the Institute itself to the next level. And when you're working in an environment with people across the country, it's a complicated regime to try and make sure that members are getting local benefits and a reason to be part of their institute at the same time as forming policy positions and having input into activities at government level across the country, either at local, state and national level.
How you form networks, how you bring benefits to your members and build their attachments and their benefits out of their association, was and is a really important thing for Kirsty. She focused very strongly on building the members understanding of the benefits of being part of the Institute and how they could contribute.
Kirsty in particular took the Institute on the journey of the importance of basics. Basic training and how to build on that: The basic principles of our profession; the basic ethics of our profession.
And then how that translates into our daily work, because those essential principles are something that translates whether you're working across the different ranges of this particular profession.
Transport very much involves an eclectic range of Professions
Kirsty in particular was part of a bigger environment, working with engineers, architects, landscape architects to look at how we all work together to form a more prosperous city.
I think we also have to be conscious more of the changing ways of communicating. It's interesting that you mentioned Twitter earlier. That took me a while to participate in because professionally I'm busy. But I look now at the reach and the ability to communicate through social media that has to form part of a strategy to both communicate material out, but also to obtain input.
In these days, I can scrape data from a series of sources and understand why a particular space is working well or why it's not. So is it our ability to listen and communicate in and out that is changing dramatically.
Dealing with Change
I change as part of everyday life. It's part of normal growth. And it brings an opportunity to keep what you'd like in the past, but also to build on it. Kirsty and I had both been longstanding members of our institute. We wanted to continue to adapt and grow and learn. And I think we added value and certainly our membership appeared to believe that. And I credit Kirsty with a lot of that. We went through significant growth during her time and increased our profile in across the country quite strongly. And that was done in a measured and professional manner, which is in large credit to her, including, of course, dealing with politicians and the political process.
Working with Politicians
At one of my first university classes, I remember a particular diagram that speaks about the politicians who are there to represent the community; they have a role. And I value and respect that. I travel a lot. I’ve been to non- democratic countries. And every time I do that, it reminds me of why I respect the role of democracy. I my view has always been it’s my job to offer. A professional opinion. It’s their job to represent the community. And the other part of the diagram. It’s in my head at the moment is that the courts are there to make sure we’re all doing our job and doing them appropriately. So I think listening to the politicians of every different flavour is important. It’s also important to know how to advocate for who we are and what we do as part of that process. I believe, as does Kirsty in doing that in an appropriate and measured way. There are times when it’s important to be strong. There are times when it is important to be careful and constructive in offering commentary.