Election of Women to Local Government
The NSW Government is committed to inspiring and empowering more women to stand for their local community and nominate to run for their local council.
Did you know that women represent less than a third of all councillors and mayors serving on the 128 councils in NSW?
Women from all walks of life are being encouraged to put their hand up for election to help ensure local councils are representative of the communities they serve.
If you have a strong sense of community and are keen to make a difference in your local neighbourhood, then you should consider nominating.
Local councils are the level of government closest to the community. They provide key infrastructure, facilities and services to local residents and are integral to improving the lifestyle and amenity of local communities.
Councillors represent their local community’s needs, wants and aspirations and make important decisions on behalf of their local community.
You don’t need any formal qualifications and you will receive training, support, expenses and fees if you are elected.
There is nothing more rewarding than serving in the level of government closest to the local community.
Workshops for potential female candidates
The NSW Government partnered with Women for Election Australia and the Australian Local Government Women’s Association NSW Branch to stage a series of workshops to encourage more women to stand for their community at the next local government elections.
The Government provided $167,500 to the two organisations to hold workshops to provide potential female candidates with information and advice about running for election and the role and responsibilities of a councillor.
Women for Election Australia and the Australian Local Government Women’s Association NSW Branch are not-for-profit organisations which share the Government’s vision of a gender balanced local government sector and are committed to inspiring and supporting more women to stand for public office.
The workshops were part of the NSW Government’s Election of Women to Local Government Action Plan.
Champions of Change – Our Women Ambassadors
Ten inspirational former and current female councillors have been enlisted as ambassadors to encourage more women to stand for their community at the next local government elections:
The women are spearheading a new promotional campaign featuring a series of inspiring videos in which they speak about their positive experiences in local government and their proudest achievements for their local community.
The women, from metropolitan, regional and rural councils, also speak about how they overcame real-life challenges such as balancing family and work commitments.
The videos are being widely promoted on websites and social media channels of the NSW Government, local councils, peak bodies and other key stakeholders.
Listen to their amazing stories.
For more inspiring videos, visit the Office of Local Government’s YouTube page.
Information and Resources
A Snapshot of Women in Local Government
After each local government election the Office of Local Government reviews and analyses diversity information provided by councillors and candidates.
The NSW Candidate and Councillor Diversity Report 2017 provides an interesting snapshot of women in local government:
- The 2016-17 council elections saw the highest percentage of female mayors on Office of Local Government records
- Of all mayors, 28 per cent are female compared to the previous high in 2008 of 23 per cent. In 2012 just 19 per cent of mayors were female
- At the 2016-17 elections, 38 per cent of all candidates were female, up from 36 per cent in 2012 and 33 per cent in 2008
- After the 2016-17 elections, 31 per cent of councillors were female, up from 28 per cent in 2012 and 27 per cent in 2008
- In 2016-17, the actual number of women who stood for election dropped by three per cent. This compared to growth between the 2008 and 2012 elections of nine per cent
- At more than 90 per cent of NSW councils, less than half the councillors are women
- Four councils in NSW had no female councillors elected at the 2016 and 2017 local government elections.
Top 10 NSW councils for the highest female participation*
% of councillors who are women
City of Sydney
*Based on the results of the 2016 and 2017 local government elections
Election of Women to Local Government Action Plan
The Office of Local Government identified five key barriers to female participation in local government at an elected representative level including:
- awareness of local government and the role of councils and councillors
- feeling unqualified
- balancing carer/work commitments
- investment of time and money, and
- perceived culture of councils and councillor conduct.
A range of measures including legislative change, workshops, guidelines, recognition schemes, funding, and marketing campaigns have previously been undertaken by the Government to help address these barriers.
In 2019 the Minister for Local Government established the Election of Women to Local Government Working Group to proactively identify strategies to address the barriers and increase female participation in local government.
Election of Women to Local Government Workshops were held at Parliament House on 6 February 2020 and 12 November 2019 and attended by representatives from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Australian Local Government Women’s Association, Country Women’s Association, Lake Macquarie City Council, Local Government NSW, Office of Local Government, Women for Election, and Women NSW.
The working group formally endorsed an Election of Women to Local Government Action Plan including:
- A promotional campaign with high-profile former and current councillors speaking about their positive experiences in local government
- A range of useful resources and information sessions for potential female candidates
- Utilising local MPs to publicly promote the role of councillors and encourage women to stand for council
- Considering mandatory payment of carer’s expenses for councillors
- Encouraging councils to set meeting times that support councillors with carer responsibilities
- Exploring remote access for council meetings
- Training in social media and time and diary management
- Mentoring programs for female mayors and councillors, and
- Encouraging schools to hold excursions to their local councils to generate interest among students.
The action plan is designed to promote the success of past and present female councillors and encourage and support more women to stand for their local council.
It also seeks to make it easier for women to serve as councillors with family-friendly council meeting times, the payment of carer’s expenses, and training and mentoring programs.
The Office of Local Government will continue to work with key stakeholders to implement the measures in the action plan.
Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government
The Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government celebrate the dedication and commitment of female staff and councillors in local councils across NSW.
In addition to recognising the significant contribution of award winners, they also aim to encourage more women to take on leadership roles in local government.
The awards also recognise councils and senior staff who are doing all they can to encourage female participation.
In 2020 the NSW Government announced new award categories to better reflect contemporary approaches to gender equality and changes in the local government sector.
The new award categories for both metropolitan councils and regional/rural councils are:
Minister’s Award – for a female councillor or council staff member for delivering quality outcomes and innovation in helping women in their local community
Employment Diversity Award – a successful council program to increase female participation in senior leadership roles or at the elected representative level
Elected Representative Award – a councillor who has advanced the position of female elected representatives
Champion of Change Award – a general manager or senior manager who has excelled in supporting and encouraging women’s participation at their council
Alternative Pathways Award – a female staff member who is the first to enter a role traditionally held by men or is breaking down gender stereotypes
Young Achiever’s Award – an outstanding trainee/apprentice (aged under 25).
The awards are hosted by the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Women.
Winners of the 2020 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government
The winners of the 2020 Awards were announced in a video ceremony by the Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronnie Taylor, and former City of Sydney councillor and social advocate Kathryn Greiner.
The winners are:
Alternative Pathways Award – Metro
• Sandra Kubecka, Director of Community Assets, Camden Council
Alternative Pathways Award – Regional/Rural
• Kim White, Local Emergency Management Officer, Shoalhaven City Council
Champion of Change Award – Metro
• Monica Barone, Chief Executive Officer, City of Sydney
Champion of Change Award – Regional/Rural
• Suzanne Richmond, Human Resources Manager, Tweed Shire Council
Elected Representative Award – Metro
• Cr Rachelle Harika, City of Canterbury Bankstown
Elected Representative Award – Regional/Rural
• Cr Phyllis Miller OAM, Mayor, Forbes Shire Council
Employment Diversity Award – Metro
• City of Sydney
Employment Diversity Award – Regional/Rural
• Wagga Wagga City Council
Young Achiever’s Award – Metro
• Elizabeth Pirolo, Trainee, Liverpool City Council
Young Achiever’s Award – Regional/Rural
• Annabell Hooghuis, Apprentice Nursery Officer Landcare, Lake Macquarie City Council
Minister for Local Government Award for Women
• Cr Lilliane Brady OAM, Mayor, Cobar Shire Council
Previous winners – 2008 to 2019