Merri-bek City Council has a long-term commitment to ensuring that its workforce is reflective of the community that it serves. Enacting this commitment takes place through recruitment and the continual improvement of its organisational culture.

Context

Our partnership with Merri-bek City Council spans over a decade. It began with a Human Rights Forum that Polykala facilitated in 2013. The staff at Merri-bek responded positively to our engaging approach to training and facilitation. We have been closely involved with the council in delivering a suite of communication skills and workplace culture workshops with a focus on both internal culture and working with a diverse constituency. 

This council’s commitment to continuous improvement is reflected in the organisation’s decision to change its name in 2022 from Moreland City Council to Merri-bek City Council. This was done to better reflect both the area’s deep pre-colonial history as well as the current-day community’s expectations. 

Merri-bek has continued to partner with Polykala to deliver cutting-edge professional development programs to over 400 staff members.

“I have worked with Polykala for over a decade and in that time they have evolved their practice to respond to the cultural transformation required. Their approach is personal, brings out curiosity and is pragmatic. They are responsive to the challenges to be addressed and shape the delivery to the needs of the organisation. I love their creative, thought provoking and reflective approach as it is engaging and practical.”

Nalika Peiris – Unit Manager, Community Development and Social Policy, Merri-bek City Council

Approach

To provide a snapshot of the breadth of work that we have done with Merri-bek City Council, we highlight three project, each requiring bespoke approaches to their design and delivery.

In 2017, Poykala was engaged to deliver a series of workshops with the Open Spaces team focussing on workplace culture and difficult conversations. This integral part of the organisation looks after the council’s public spaces and interacts with members of the community on a daily basis. The aim of the session was to help staff navigate internal workplace disagreements and conflict through engaging in learning conversations.

In 2021, Polykala designed and delivered a series of training sessions for staff from Merri-bek City Council public libraries. Outsiders often assume that libraries are peaceful places and librarians are quiet, bookish people. We have learnt that this is far from the truth. Instead, librarians are constantly required to deal with tricky customers and uncomfortable interpersonal situations. These training sessions focussed on the skills of intervening and escalating in situations where customer behaviour was occurring in contrast to Merri-bek’s values of diversity and inclusion. 

In 2021, we trained the entire cohort of people managers across the organisation, including the executive leadership team. The training focussed on the role of people managers in fostering a workplace culture where staff feel a sense of trust and belonging. The sessions focussed on organisational cultural adaptation, the future direction of inclusive practices in the organisation, and the need for staff to continue to learn about the needs of their staff members. 

Outcomes

We have now delivered over 20 separate training sessions to over 400 Merri-bek City Council staff members. We are proud to be a regular feature of their professional development training calendar delivering workshops on Active Bystander conversations and Diversity & Inclusion. Our work has positively impacted Merri-Bek staff that span a range of professional and trade backgrounds, often bridging those divides to build mutual understanding and respect.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Polykala for many years now delivering various training sessions at Merri-bek City Council. Their commitment to the training they provide is truly inspiring. I highly recommend them.”

Mare Rajkovski – Learning & Development Officer, Merri-bek City Council

Imagery sourced from Brunswick Voice, 2023

Client

Merri-bek City Council

Year

2015 – Present

Number of participants

400

Number of sessions

20

Location

Melbourne (VIC), Online