Media release - NSW lagging every other state in women candidates for council

November 28, 2019

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has joined with the Country Women’s Association of NSW, Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA), ALGWA NSW and Women for Election Australia calling on the State Government to help reverse the declining number of women running in local government elections.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said the number of women candidates in NSW council elections lags well behind other States in Australia and actually declined at the last round of local government elections.

“Government at all levels should reflect the communities they represent, and the numbers tell us we have a long way to go in NSW,” she said.

“Based on the most recent local government elections, NSW has the lowest percentage of female representation at 31 per cent, while Tasmania leads the way at 40 per cent. Most other states are also closer to 40 per cent than 30 per cent.”

President of Country Women’s Association of NSW Stephanie Stanhope said the organisations had jointly written to the Premier this week to take action to increase the number of women who nominate and renominate for council elections.

ALGWA NSW President Cassandra Coleman said a key barrier women faced was a lack of appropriate financial compensation, such as access to superannuation.

“Many women already have big workloads that are often unpaid and are unwilling to take on more work with insufficient remuneration,” she said.

“We are calling for the NSW Government to introduce law reform to provide access to superannuation for local government councillors if elected in 2020.

“These changes would be especially relevant for women, who often take time out of the workforce to care for family members, resulting in lower superannuation levels.”

ALGWA National President Marianne Saliba said the groups were also calling for government to fund an evidence-based education campaign, based on the success of other States, to encourage more women to nominate before the end of 2019.

“A key reason people run for council is to make a difference in their local community,” she said.

“Women have a lot to offer, as proven by the hard-working female councillors and mayors across our State, and the government needs to act to enable more women to nominate so councils better reflect the communities they represent.”

Licia Heath, spokesperson for WFEA, commended recent government efforts such as a workshop at Parliament House earlier this month focussing on the election of women to local government and a report on councillor diversity it released in June highlighting the shortfall of women candidates in NSW.

“These efforts show the will is there to address this discrepancy of representation,” she said.

“And while the number of female candidates has fallen, it is encouraging that the number of actual female councillors has been steadily increasing. It proves that if women run for election, they stand every chance of being elected.”

LGNSW President Linda Scott said: “I am proud of LGNSW efforts to support women in local government through initiatives such as our annual International Women’s Day event.

“In March 2020 we will once again celebrate the leadership of women in council who make a positive difference in their communities with guest speaker Ita Buttrose.

“LGNSW, along with these other groups and associations, stand ready to support and assist with government efforts to increase the representation of women in local government in 2020.”

 

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