Female Participation in Local Council

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Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) runs a nationally accredited program called 5050 vision for gender equality, which is designed to encourage Australian councils to improve gender equity both within the organisation and among the elected representatives. It is designed to be accessed by all councils, regardless of their size, location or progress on gender equity. Councils from across Australia have registered for the program, which have three levels: bronze, silver and gold.

Councils needed to do a number of things to achieve the Gender Equity Awards. These included a commitment in the corporate policy; policies and strategies to demonstrate commitment, plus actions, and a project which has addressed gender equity issues. Councils also needed to supply gender ratios, which will provide an up-to-date picture of local government.

The entire program is strongly based on resource sharing and networking. Last year at our “State of the Nation” conference in Barossa, a number of councils showcased the projects they had implemented. Among the featured councils were Devonport City Council in Tasmania; Broken Hill City Council in NSW; Central Highlands Regional Council in Queensland; City of Ryde in Sydney; Holroyd City Council in South Australia and Darwin City Council in the Northern Territory.  The contract with LGAQ, who were the 5050 project coordinators, finished in December. Last year the ALGWA Board agreed to take over the program and are in the process of finalising the changeover.

Today 31.58% of Australian councillors are women. NSW has the lowest percentage of female councillors at 27%. Leading the country is the Northern Territory with 36%, closely followed by Victoria on 34%. In March, Queensland moved into third place with 32.5%, Western Australia is just behind on 31.6%, Tasmania is at 31% and South Australia is the only other state below 30% with 29%.

Those States which have a higher proportion of women councillors in turn have a higher number of female Mayors and female CEOs/General Managers. Our data proves having women at the table makes a difference in selecting a woman.

Last year in Victoria 35% of Mayors were women, 34% in the Northern Territory compared to 19% in NSW. More than a quarter of the CEOs/General Managers in the Northern Territory are women and 17% in Victoria compared to 7% in NSW.

Cr Coral Ross

National President,  Australian Local Government Women’s Association

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