City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, City of Sydney councillor Marcelle Hoff, Federal Local Government Minister Anthony Albanese, ALGWA NSW president Karen McKeown and Local Government Managers Australia CEO John Ravlic. Image: Encapture Photography.
By Angela Dorizas
Federal and local government have launched a new initiative to recognise, celebrate and promote the advancement of women into senior management and leadership roles within the sector.
Launching the Year of Women in Local Government in Sydney, Minister for Local Government Anthony Albanese said he became aware of the sector’s gender imbalance at the first meeting of the Australian Council of Local Government in Canberra.
“I was genuinely surprised by just how male, how old, how mono-cultural it was,” Mr Albanese said.
He said it was critical for local government to reflect the communities that they seek to represent.
“Today less than one-third of councillors are women,” Mr Albanese said.
“Less than 20 per cent of senior managers are women. Only seven per cent of CEOs are women.
“Yet women are probably over-represented amongst the people that need to access local government facilities and services.”
Mr Albanese said there was also an “economic case” for addressing the gender imbalance.
“Skills and the staff shortages are a major concern for many local governments, particularly in regional communities.
“We’re developing a national workforce strategy to deal with this important challenge. In addition, we have taken a number of practical steps to help increase the engagement of women in local government.”
Mr Albanese said the Government will provide up to $500,000 for a range of projects to increase women’s status and participation in local government.
This includes $250,000 for the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA), working with the newly-established Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG), to audit councils and shires to determine the status and participation of women in leadership roles.
Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) chief executive officer, John Ravlic, said the launch of the initiative was a “wake-up call” for the sector.
“The skills shortage and the promotion and retention of women in our sector will be critical in us moving forward,” Mr Ravlic said.
“The Year of Women in Local Government will go some way in raising awareness in our sector to gender-balance issues.”
The launch was hosted by the City of Sydney, where the Lord Mayor, chief executive officer, four out of ten executives and 31 per cent of managers are all women.
City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said the Council was a leader in promoting the advancement of women in local government, but still had more work to do to address gender imbalance.
“Change will only come with explicit action and intervention,” Ms Barone said.
“At the City of Sydney we are taking explicit action and intervention.
“I got this job because another woman took a risk. That woman was Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who along with all the women and men on this council said ‘we want to employ the best person for the job, not the obvious person for the job’.”
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