November 2020 marked 100 years since the election of Victoria’s first female councillor, Mary Rogers, to Richmond City Council.
In a fitting tribute, results from the 2020 Local Government elections came in the same week as the anniversary. Victoria elected 272 women – 43.8 per cent of councillors, the most in Australian history.
The Victorian Government’s Gender Equality Strategy, Safe and Strong, sets a target of 50/50 gender representation on councils by 2025.
Why gender equality? Why local government?
When you have diversity in decision-making bodies, you make better decisions. As the level of government closest to communities, it’s vital councils reflect all the people they serve.
But gender equality is not just about elected councillors. It’s also about local government staff.
Councils employ more than 45,000 Victorians. While more than half of that workforce is female, only one third of directors and managers are women, including 30 per cent of chief executives.
LGV support for gender equality – programmes and projects
Local Government Victoria helps to fund several programmes to promote and support gender equality in local government:
- The It’s Our Time campaign to promote and support women on councils
- The Victorian Local Governance Association’s (VLGA) Local Women Leading Change program
- Australian Local Government Women’s Association’s (Vic Branch) mentoring program for new female councillors
- The VLGA’s Your Community, Country and Council programme that supports aboriginal men and women to stand for council
Key Documents – Guides, Strategies and Reports
- The Local Government Victoria Best practice for gender equity in local government helps councillors and council managers boost gender diversity in their councils and workforces.
- Best practice guide for gender equity in local government (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Best practice guide for gender equity in local government (DOCX, 82.4 KB)
- The Victorian Government’s Gender Equality Strategy, Safe and Strong, sets out a State-wide framework for enduring and sustained action on gender equality, including targets for local government
- The Victorian Auditor-General’s ongoing sexual harassment in local government enquiry will inform further work on sexual harassment in councils
Local Government and Gender Equality Acts
The two Acts complement each other and introduce a wide range of different measures, including:
- Councils must prepare workforce plans that measure gender equality, diversity and inclusiveness in their workforce
- Councillors will have access to paid parental leave and reimbursement for care expenses
- Action on sexual harassment and other forms of councillor misconduct
- Gender equality audits across the local government sector
Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner
One of the most significant reforms of the Australian-first Gender Equality Act is the role of Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner.
The Commissioner will oversee implementation of the Gender Equality Act and play a key leadership role in promoting gender equality in the Victorian community and workplaces – including councils.
In September 2020, Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams announced the appointment of Dr Niki Vincent to the position.
For more on the work of the Commissioner, visit https://www.genderequalitycommission.vic.gov.au/the-public-sector-gender-equality-commissioner
Page last updated: 17/12/20