City of Canning chief Lyn Russell’s three-year stay comes to end


Outgoing City of Canning chief executive Lyn Russell. Picture: Jon Hewson d454671
Outgoing City of Canning chief executive Lyn Russell. Picture: Jon Hewson d454671

NEXT Friday marks the end of Lyn Russell’s three-year tenure as chief executive of City of Canning.

Her departure draws a line under a tumultuous time for Canning, which began in 2012 when the State Government sacked the council before installing commissioners and then rising to international recognition and strong management.

Appointed in 2013 by then-commissioner Linton Reynolds, Ms Russell accepted a personal challenge to rebuild an effectively destroyed local government.

“I was retired when the opportunity to rebuild Canning came up and I took the challenge,” she said.

Ms Russell, who had already worked in local government for 20 years, returned to the west from Queensland.

“Canning was a new challenge and a CEOs dream, it was the perfect opportunity and I enjoyed working with commissioners,” she said.

Ms Russell said while Canning’s challenges were great, fixing them was possible.

“The first challenge was the dismissal and inquiry and getting Canning back on track to governance with a clean bill of health,” she said.

“Then came reform and Canning almost disappeared which led to the Fight for Canning; it was like a rollercoaster, we all expected the worst and then it suddenly stopped… there was a sense of disbelief among staff.”

Ms Russell said it was “fabulous” to know Canning would not be carved up.

“(We) got to start planning ahead again,” she said.

A staff survey upon her arrival brought news of discontent within the ranks.

“It was clear there were staff issues so we negotiated an EBA that gave them a sense of value… I describe it as taking the lid off being through such a tough time,” Ms Russell said.

“We invested in training so everyone had a chance to grow their skills, we were expecting they’d need it after reform but now (staff) are the best in the across the world.”

Her “short but successful” time is the cherry on top of a long municipal career, and after a six week journey around Australia to her eventual retirement destination in Cairns, Ms Russell said this time it’s “retirement, retirement”.

“I’m going to have some me-time… (Canning) was a nice way to end a career,” she said.

In a week where the incumbent councillors finish their governance training, Ms Russell wished them well.

“We have an enthusiastic group of leaders… it’s their call now,” she said.