Too few women in local government

Coffscoastadvocate

25th March 2012 4:22 PM

Brad Greenshields

WHILE one-third of Coffs Harbour's councillors are women, Local Government Minister Don Page has told a conference on women in local government that that figure might not be enough.

Speaking at the Australian Local Government Women's Association (NSW) 59th annual conference in Dubbo last week, Mr Page said that more women are needed in councils, particularly in leadership roles, so NSW councils better reflect their communities.


In Coffs Harbour three of the nine councillors are Deputy Mayor Denise Knight, former mayor Jenny Bonfield and Kerry Hines but Mr Page believes a greater representation of women is needed in all Councils throughout the state.


"Successful councils are ones that connect with communities, are reflective of their communities, and have views that represent their communities. To achieve that, we need more women in prominent roles in local government," Mr Page said.


"While just over half of the residents of NSW are women, just over a quarter of NSW councillors are women.


"In my view this isn't acceptable."


With the local government elections about six months away, Mr Page said that he hopes to see more women's names on the ballot paper when the time for polling comes around.


To try and ensure this the Local Government Minister told those in attendance at the conference that more needs to be done to attract women to leadership roles at a local government level.
"We need to encourage more women to stand for election and we need to provide more support to women councillors, he said.


"We all want to see councils that reflect the diverse communities they serve - that can only happen if there are more women councillors, more women mayors, and more women in other leadership roles in local government."


To help with this goal, the Division of Local Government will be taking part in Candidate Information Seminars with the Electoral Funding Authority and the Electoral Commission around NSW in the coming months.


The Division has also developed a brochure called Stand For Your Community, Be A Councillor to encourage women and other under-represented groups to encourage women to think about standing for election.


"The best way to encourage more women and other under-represented groups to become councillors is to de-mystify the local government process and the role of councillor, to provide information on what people can expect to experience as a councillor," the Local Government Minister said.


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