Increasing the number of women nominating for local government elections in 2020 – President’s comment

Article image - Increasing the number of women nominating for local government elections in 2020 – President’s comment National President Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA), Marianne Saliba

Historically, women have been under represented on councils. As Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) National President, I am proud that our organisation is pursuing a mentoring program for women in local government across Australia.

Victoria and Queensland already have one, but the development of such programs is currently at the whim of each state.

Women have a lot to offer, as proven by the hard working female councillors and mayors across the country.

However, government needs to act to enable more women to nominate so that councils more accurately reflect the communities they represent.

I am proud to be driving a campaign to boost the number of women in local government before the New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland elections in 2020.

Recently, ALGWA, along with the NSW Country Women’s Association and Local Government NSW called on the NSW Government to take action to increase the number of women who nominate, and renominate, for the 2020 local government elections.

We wrote to NSW Premier, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, seeking her support and action. We requested funding of an evidence-based community education campaign, based on the success of other states, to encourage women to nominate for the September 2020 elections.

A key barrier for women standing for election to local government is often the lack of access to superannuation, with women unwilling to take on more work with insufficient remuneration.

Women tend to have far lower superannuation balances than men, often due to time out of the workforce caring for family members.

Included in the letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian was a request for the introduction of law reform to provide access to superannuation for councillors if elected in 2020.

We stand ready to support and assist with these measures and all other joint work to increase the representation of women in local government. We thank the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women for hosting a workshop in November 2019 focusing on the election of women to local government.

We also commend the NSW Government publishing in June 2019 the NSW Candidate and Councillor Diversity Report based on the previous round of local government elections, providing evidence of key trends in local government representation.

The report showed the number of female candidates in the 2016/17 local government elections slightly decreased (1558 compared to 1610 in 2012), and that NSW had the lowest percentage of female representation in local government across all states and territories at 31 percent.

In contrast, Tasmania and Western Australia boasted the highest percentage of female representation. I congratulate the state of Western Australia on achieving 83 percent representation of women on the Shire of Dundas Council.