Increasing women’s voice in Local Government

Article image - Increasing women’s voice in Local Government  (from left) ALGWA Vic Metro Vice president Cr Helen Coleman, MC Roma O’Callaghan, Women’s Trust Executive Director Mary Crooks and ALGWA Vic President Cr Coral Ross Australian Women were among the first in the world to gain the vote but now lag behind the rest of the world in representation in government and business.

Those were the two bookend messages from the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) Victorian Brance’s annual conference held in Eltham on May 1­–2, hosted by the Shire of Nillumbik.

Mary Crooks of the Victorian Women’s Trust detailed the extraordinary sexism faced by Australia’s first woman Prime Minister Julia Gillard, spoke of the Purple Sage Project designed to foster community dialogue and Cathy McGowan’s victory in the Federal seat for Indi last year.

“People are hungry for genuine engagement, respectful engagement.”

The ALGWA conference, Where the City meets the country…supporting community leadership, showcased a smorgasbord of topics.

Nillumbik citizen of the Year Amanda Gibson spoke about The Tree Project, a worldwide blacksmithing project to forge a metal Australian gum tree honouring those who died in the 2009 bush fires.

Three of the five women Mayors of 2013 from the Victorian western region explained how they worked together for their area, supported each other and became a force to be reckoned with.

Boroondara’s Innovation Leader Rowena Morrow also gave examples of innovation in Councils and how innovation can build community leadership.
“Innovation starts with a story for the future.”

Kellie Nagle from the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) explained why councils should Take a Stand Against Domestic Violence and detailed what councils were doing and what was working.

“There is not a single area of Council which cannot help.”

Whitehorse CEO and Year of Women in Local Government ambassador Noelene Duff revealed the low levels of women’s representation at all levels of government and in business.

Victorian President Councillor Coral Ross detailed ALGWA’s 5050 gender equity awards that aim to lift women’s participation in local government. 

State Minister for Women’s Affairs Hon Heidi Victoria opened the conference and Shadow Minister for Women Danielle Green closed it.

Life membership of ALGWA was given to former Whitehorse Mayor and Moira Shire councillor Jessie McCallum, who served five terms on two councils.