Mayor Marianne Saleba President Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) – President’s comment
As we draw closer to the end of a difficult year, I have been reflecting on how COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our lives. For elected members, 2020 has presented challenges that have directly impacted the way we interact with our constituents. Council meetings went online, as did citizenship ceremonies, committee meetings
As someone who thrives on social interaction, I personally found it quite difficult. Face-to-face interactions are one of the things I most enjoy about my role. It has been a struggle to adjust to not shaking hands or reaching out to hug someone. I know this has been the case for many.
Despite disruptions and lockdowns, ALGWA has continued to provide support to women in local government, both elected members and employees. We have updated our strategic plan for the next four years and we are creating better connections through our websites between national body and state branches.
This year we have all been challenged to adapt and become more tech savvy. We have communicated and reached out through Zoom and Teams meetings, webinars and social media channels including WhatsApp. I want to acknowledge the state branches that have continued to provide valuable support to their members, despite the challenges.
Due to COVID-19, the New South Wales local government elections have been postponed until 4 September 2021. Minister for Local Government Shelly Hancock has been supportive of encouraging women to nominate, including a campaign involving several elected members, including myself, speaking about their experience.
Queensland held its local government elections this year, with the number of women increasing by 6.8 percent since the previous election (from 31% to 37%), an excellent result.
Victoria also experienced an increase in the number of female nominations, up 5 percent (from 34% to 39%). The increase in Victoria was somewhat of a surprise, with many gender equality commentators expecting a reduction in the number of female candidates due to the pandemic.
Some women’s groups are wondering how many more might have stood if not for COVID-19. I want to congratulate all those who were re-elected, and those newly elected, and wish them well.
Unfortunately, it seems this ‘new normal’ will be with us for the foreseeable future.
Please stay safe, maintain social distancing, practice good hand hygiene and wear a mask where appropriate.
Reach out for support when you need it and be kind to others. It is these simple things that will help us through this difficult time.