Female representation on Nambucca Valley Council well under state average


FIGURES from the NSW government show that less than a third of all councillors and mayors serving in the 128 councils in NSW are female.

Cr Susan Jenvey, says Local Government NSW, the peak advisory body for Local Government is “concerned” about the level of female representation and gender equality in Local Government.

“It’s about 30 percent,” Cr Jenvey said.

The NSW Electoral Commission has confirmed that women will represent 41.7 percent of the 3,864 candidates standing at the upcoming elections, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to the 2016-17 elections and 6.2 percent from the 2012 poll.

In the upcoming Council elections in Nambucca Valley the percentage of female candidates is even lower, at 15%.

Two out of the thirteen Council candidates are female.

In terms of representation, where women make up approximately 51% of the Australian population, this figure is not a reflection of the population.

News Of The Area spoke to Cr Susan Jenvey and Mayor Rhonda Hoban to discuss the uneven representation in the upcoming elections.

Cr Jenvey said that she valued more female representation on Council.

“We need the diversity and different views of women on Council to be representative.”

Mayor Hoban said, “I like to see not only a gender mix but a mix of age, background, skills, expertise and experience.

“In recent years we have had a good female representation on Council.

“In fact for the period 2012-2016 we had a majority female Council.

“I think that the lack of female candidates in this election is an exception.”

Both Mayor Hoban and Cr Jenvey reflected on their own experiences as women in politics.

Mayor Hoban shared, “One of the things that I hope I have achieved in my seventeen years on Council and thirteen years as Mayor is to convince other women that they are perfectly capable of representing their community, and taking on a leadership role.”

Cr Jenvey said, “At the last State Elections, I stood for the Labor Party where we have a policy based on something called Emily’s list.”

“This ensures equal quotas of men and women for pre-selection.”

“At that election 51 percent of candidates were women.

“It wasn’t only the advocacy of women that enabled this to occur, it was also the actions of good men.”

While the representation of women on Council will be below state averages for the upcoming term, Mayor Hoban said, “(I’d) like to think that everyone in our community feels that they have a voice.

“All residents can contact a councillor and raise any issue or concern, or they can contact the Council’s General Manager.

“We also have a Public Forum component to our regular Council meetings.”

Cr Jenvey advised that support is available for women who may want to stand for Council but would like some training and advice.

The Australian Local Government Women’s Association NSW branch offers short courses on empowerment and local government.

Cr Jenvey, looking towards the future in terms of female representation on Council, said, “When the new Council is underway, we should ask LGNSW and ALGWA to come to Nambucca and run some community seminars to make sure that we don’t go backwards on the gains we have made.”

The NSW Government has been rolling out promotional campaigns targeting women, funded workshops for female candidates, allowed virtual meeting attendance for councillors with carer responsibilities, and introduced superannuation and mandatory payment of childcare costs for elected representatives to increase the number of women standing for local government elections.

“It is wonderful to see a significant increase in the number of women standing for election which will greatly improve our chances of boosting the number of female councillors serving in councils across the State,” NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said.

“The Government has worked hard to encourage people from all walks of life to stand for their community and run for election to their council at next month’s local government poll.

“However, we are not resting on our laurels and we are now shifting the focus to continuing this good work during the next council term.”

The NSW Government has announced more than $2 million in funding to support local democracy and increase diversity of councillors serving on regional councils ahead of the September 2024 local government poll.

The Supporting Regional Democracy Program will boost the capacity of councils in the bush to actively promote diversity over the next three-year term.

“Regional councils are the heart of their communities and councillors play a leading role in the economic and social wellbeing of towns and cities across NSW,” Minister Hancock said.



Leave a Reply