Monday, January 24, 2022

Female councillors on the rise in NSW

NSW councils are experiencing a significant boost in female representation, according to new figures released by Local Government NSW (LGNSW).

LGNSW President, Darriea Turley (pictured) said women now make up 39.5% of all councillors in NSW – an 8.5% jump on the proportion of women elected in 2016/17.

“Councils are the closest level of government to their communities, so to ensure everyone has a voice it is important that they reflect the communities they represent,” she said.

“The proportion of women on council was stuck between 27 and 31% for nearly a decade, so to make such great progress in a single election is really worth celebrating.

“It’s a great outcome from the 4 December local government elections, and it’s gratifying to see the result of the hard work to put in by LGNSW, the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) and the NSW Government.”

Sixty-nine of 124 councils that held elections in NSW now have more women on council than in previous terms.

“An impressive 27 councils actually have a female majority, nearly three times the number we saw in the last council term,” the LGNSW President said.

She said the result followed a focused effort to boost council diversity, with LGNSW and ALGWA offering mentoring services and a range of development programs providing practical information on leadership and the tools and techniques of successful political campaigns.

“One example is LGNSW’s Leadership for Aspiring Women Program, but there is a wide range of ongoing professional development programs designed to improve council diversity at both the elected and professional level,” President Turley said.

“The tremendous work by ALGWA NSW and President Cassandra Coleman, to conduct 29 forums across NSW last year with over 200 attendees, also helped to empower women to stand for Local Government elections.

“Surveys showed 98% of participants found the workshops useful, and 67% said they were more likely to run for council as a result of attending.”

She said another important contribution to the higher proportion of women standing for council was the introduction of superannuation for mayors and councillors, bringing them into line with the rest of the Australian workforce.

“Lack of superannuation for councillors has been a real disincentive to stand for council, particularly for women, and I’m proud that LGNSW helped put our elected representatives on an equal footing to other workers.”

“Similarly, our advocacy helped secure childcare for women councillors, as announced by the former Minister at LGNSW’s International Women’s Day lunch last year.

“These reforms are all about breaking down the barriers to community service, so NSW communities benefit from councils that truly represent them and their needs.”

President Turley said 2022 would be a challenging year for NSW, as councils sought to help drive a locally-led recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic.

“I would like to congratulate all those councillors who have been elected this term.”

“It is a huge honour to serve your community, and I thank you all for your commitment to making a real and positive difference.

“While council can be tough, it is truly rewarding, and you are surrounded by many support bases.

“LGNSW will continue to be a strong advocate for your hard work: I am excited to see the progress and results our councils are set to deliver in this new local government term,” she said.

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