Federal support for women in local government

By Angela Dorizas

The Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) has received $23,000 in funding from the Federal Government in a bid to increase the participation of women in local government.

The funding will be directed towards programs that support women councillors and staff, including the Gender Equity in Local Government project and the development of mentor networks to encourage women’s participation in local government over three years.

Women account for less than 30 per cent of councillors across Australia and only 20 per cent of senior managers, according to the latest studies by ALGWA.

Data from Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) has revealed that about 5 per cent of chief executives in the sector are women.

In announcing the funding, Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, said practical improvements would require “strong partnerships between all levels of government”.

“The funding and support announced today is a practical example of federal and local governments working together,” Mr Albanese said.

According to Federal Minister for Housing and the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek, networking should be a vital component of any attempt to address the under-representation of women in public office.

“Local government can be a particularly tough environment,” Plibersek told GovernmentNews.

“Whenever women are involved in politics it is pretty important to have a support network. You should take that opportunity to learn from others and build alliances.”

Plibersek also warned women councillors and officers in a “blokey” council environment to not “destroy what is unique about yourself and pretend to be just like everybody else”.

“The worst thing that you can be in politics is inauthentic and not yourself – people smell that a mile off,” she said.

“Whenever anyone tells you that you should be more demure or you should be more aggressive you just have to ignore that. You have to forge your own path.”

Related Story: Appeal to councils to end gender inequality

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