After 42 years, council shows Dael the door
42 YEARS, nine months and 20 days on the job.
For 58-year-old Gayndah local Dael Giddins, she was preparing her retirement plan after her long career in the council.
She hadn’t taken a sick day for over 12 years and had accrued over 61 weeks of annual leave, letting her other employees take holidays ahead of her.
There was even jokes by her co-workers about her retirement party, suggesting they’d have to hire the entire local hall just for her.
This all came to an abrupt end on September 18, when she was called into a meeting with her managers.
She was advised of a restructure occurring in the North Burnett Council.
Following this, there was not going to be a position for her.
She hasn’t been back to work since.
“There’s no words for it,” Mrs Giddins said.
“It’s not the way I intended my career to finish, and in small towns like ours you just don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Starting her career with the council in the shire days when she was just 15, Mrs Giddins tried her hand at nearly every part of the organisation.
She worked in rates, payroll, management supervising, office managing, and was briefly the acting CEO for eight weeks in the early 1990s.
“I don’t know many other ways to say that I’m disappointed, and just the things they’ve stripped me of.”
Mrs Giddins had aspirations of going into semi-retirement, before planning her final hurrah after more than four decades in local government.
After receiving her involuntary redundancy, she wanted to say her final goodbyes to her co-workers, sending an email to council to be sent out to staff.
In her message she thanked all her past and present colleagues over the years, indicating that there was no longer a place for her after the restructure, saying she may as well be “retiring” due to being made redundant.
An amended version was included into the staff newsletter.
In her final pay she received it, with the council including her retirement message, and no inclusion of the words ‘redundancy’ or ‘restructure’.
“It’s those sorts of things, it’s still a bit hurtful because I had no intention of retiring for another two years.
“I never got the chance to have my farewell, and there’s nothing I can do about it now.”
For Mrs Giddins, she had always given “150 per cent”, saying she loved her job, never taking holidays or sick days.
“I look back on it and think I should’ve just taken my holidays, and gone home when I was sick.
“It’s easy to say now, but back then I was dedicated to my job and enjoyed working there, and you just did it.”
In 2007 she was recognised by the Gayndah Rotary Club for her commitment to her work at the then Gayndah Shire Council.
In 2012 she made the short list for the nation wide Suncorp Hidden Heroes award.
The North Burnett Council then awarded her Citizen of the Year in 2015 for her voluntary commitments.
She had volunteered over the years with Rotary Club, the Queensland Country Women’s Association, Little Athletics, the Orange Festival, Clean Up Australia Day, and even helped decorate the town for Christmas for a number of years.
Mrs Giddins said she put the council ahead of herself and her family on a number of occasions, but one event in 2011 was a daunting realisation.
“When we had the floods in 2011, I was running the disaster office in council, and everyone was away so I had to find people to help out.
“It was at 11pm one night and we were up at the high school because it was the evacuation centre.
“The bridge was closed due to rising water, and I looked over to the north side of town because that’s where my family home was.
“I then remembered all of my mum’s stuff was at a storage facility, and I was concerned whether it was going to flood.”
Mrs Giddins' mum had passed away a month prior, with all of her personal belongings and memories in this one storage shed.
“I quickly called my sister to go down to the storage shed, but it was too late, the water was three quarters of the way up the wall.”
She had lost almost all of her mum’s possessions, only being able to salvage a handful of items to remember her by.
Moments like this remain in her mind to this day, where her focus was primarily helping the council, rather than her personal life.
As of today, Mrs Giddins is looking to stay busy, looking to volunteer and stay active in the community.
“At the moment, it’s quite hard to find a job that you can just walk into.
“This situation, it’s not something ever in my lifetime that I thought would happen to me, but you can’t be bitter about it.
“Life goes on.”
Mrs Giddins’ redundancy occurred during the council’s consultations with their workforce about the Workplace Sustainability Project, in an effort to reduce costs.
This was off the back of an unfavourable credit review in April 2019 by the state government, where it would be seeking $1.5 million in savings from its 2019-20 operational budget.
North Burnett Regional Council declined to comment.