Launch of 2010 Year of Women in Local Government

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Anthony Albanese called for all Australian councils to better reflect the communities they seek to represent when he officially launched the 2010 Year of Women in Local Government yesterday in Sydney.

The Year of Women aims to improve the participation of women in Local Government leadership and management.

Speaking from the Sydney Town Hall, Minister Albanese said Local Governments, as the level of government closest to the community, make an important contribution to the nation, delivering vital infrastructure and human services.  

“Given the contribution Local Governments make and the role they play, it is absolutely critical that they remain relevant to, and in touch with their communities,” Minister Albanese said. “Yet, less than a third of councillors are women, just 20 per cent of senior managers are women, and only seven per cent* of CEOs are women.

“In the interests of equity and democracy, there is an obvious need to redress the gender imbalance wherever it exists.”

Minister Albanese said that there is also a strong economic case for promoting women into executive and leadership roles in Local Government.

“Skill and staff shortages are a major concern for many councils, particularly in regional communities,” he said. “In addition to the number of practical steps to help increase the engagement of women in Local Government, the Rudd Government is developing a national workforce strategy to deal with this important challenge.”

Despite being unable to attend the launch, Minister for the Status of Women Tanya Plibersek said she was proud to be serving in a Government that boasts more women in senior parliamentary positions than any other Australian Government, including the first female Deputy Prime Minister.

“There is no lack of talented women in Australia, and many get their political start in Local Government,” Tanya Plibersek said. “The Australian Government is keen to support more women in these roles.

“Councils are big employers in local communities. Organisations that employ women and people from diverse backgrounds better represent and understand their community, leading to better results.”

The Rudd Government’s commitment to increasing the engagement of women in Local Government includes:

  • $250,000 for ALGWA’s three year ‘50:50 Vision: Council for Gender Equity’ program, which will audit councils to determine the status and participation of women in leadership roles
  • $100,000 in scholarship funding to enable senior women in Local Government to participate in the new executive leadership program being developed by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government
  • $100,000 to improve the collection of data and reporting on the status of women in the Local Government sector
  • $40,000 to LGMA for the 2010 Management Challenge, which will enable around 130 councils to identify strategies to promote gender equity in their councils.

The launch was attended by a number of Federal, State and Local Government dignitaries, Year of Women in Local Government ambassadors, program partners, stakeholders and Local Government CEOs, general managers and employees.

For further information on the Year of Women in Local Government, including latest news, events and activities, visit www.lgwomen2010.org.au.
*Statistics as of January 2010