The rapidly approaching local government elections for 46 councils across NSW is a real opportunity to help redress the gender imbalance in civic and community leadership, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said.
LGNSW President Keith Rhoades urged women of all ages to consider standing for their local council if they live in one of the areas going to the polls on September 9.
A total of 46 elections will be held: for 20 newly amalgamated councils, 14 councils involved in legal challenges against amalgamation, and 12 regional councils originally slated for amalgamation which have been granted a reprieve.
“No-one in the local government sector can be satisfied with the fact that only 27% of councillors in NSW are women,” Clr Rhoades said.
“According to the Australian Local Government Association, NSW lags well behind the Northern Territory, where 40% of elected councillors are women; Victoria, where 38% are women; Western Australia and Queensland, where 33% are women; and South Australia and Tasmania, where 30% are women.
“Over the past decade those states and territories have seen significant improvements in the number of women serving as elected councillors, yet in NSW the proportion of female councillors has remained constant at 27% for about 30 years.
“There’s been enormous change in the sector over the past few years but there’s one change we could all get behind, and that’s a more balanced representation of women in the local government sphere.”
Clr Rhoades said women already served in a wide gamut of leadership roles – in the corporate and business world ; in sporting associations, church and welfare groups; through school and childcare associations, and via tourism bodies – and brought significant skills and experience to the table.
“Local government today extends far beyond roads, rates and rubbish to areas such as community welfare, aged and youth care, and economic development,” he said.
“That means modern councillors are not only representing their communities but working together within a board-like structure to help govern multi-million-dollar businesses.”
Nominations open to prospective council candidates tomorrow (July31), and will only remain open to August 9.
Clr Rhoades said LGNSW was working with councils who are holding candidate briefing sessions similar to those run before previous local government elections.
“These programs are designed to give anyone interested in becoming a councillor a better understanding of the role and responsibilities they would have as an elected member of council,” he said.
“I would encourage anyone thinking of standing on September 9 to contact their local council and enquire about any potential candidate sessions they may be running, so they can make the right decision for them, and for the community.”