Women urged to stand for council


Become the voice in your community and identify local needs, women were urged in a seminar for those interested in becoming a councillor.

The session - the first to be run in Strathfield - explained why diversity in local government was so important.

Figures speak for themselves. Of 556 mayors in Australia, just one in five are women, said Karen Purser, national co-ordinator of the 50:50 Vision program to increase gender equity in local government.

Just 28 percent of councillors were women nationwide, and while 43 percent of council employees were women, only 8 percent made it to CEO, she said.

"Women bring a different style of leadership and a different style of making decisions," she told about a dozen women at Strathfield Town Hall on Wednesday.

"And a woman's point of view can impact on decisions about bus shelters, pedestrian safety, street signs, housing developments, family services, play equipment and senior citizens - all part of a council's responsibility," said Purser.

Strathfield councillors Helen McLucas and Hope Brett-Bowen spoke of their personal journeys in standing for local government.

"Get used to having your photograph taken and being stopped by strangers in the supermarket," advised Cr McLucas drily.

She described her work as an advocate for disadvantaged people and mental health issues, glossing lightly over her black belt in martial arts.

"What we need on the council is leaders, people who are prepared to stand up and listen to issues," she said.

"Become the voice in your community. Identify local needs, and make desicions in the best interest of the community," said McLucas.

Good organisation and being a team player were vital skills, as were communication skills and the ability to solve problems.

Audience member Rozani Meedin said she was there to find out just what was involved in becoming a councillor, as she felt she would like to get more involved in the local community.

Student Stephanie Kokkolis was another audience member interested in becoming a councillor. As she has nearly finished a degree in financial planning, she felt her skills might be useful. "This is the ideal forum to see just what's involved in serving on a council," she told the Scene.



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