Wimmera councils dominated by men

Hindmarsh Shire has four male and two female councillors
Hindmarsh Shire has four male and two female councillors

WIMMERA councils are dominated by men.

Across Horsham, Hindmarsh, West Wimmera, Northern Grampians and Yarriambiack municipalities, two-thirds of elected councillors are male.

There are no female mayors.

On Friday, the State Government announced a $225,000 package to help attract more women into local councils and provide updated resources and comprehensive information in the lead-up to the 2016 local government elections.

Horsham councillor and former mayor Pam Clarke said women needed to be encouraged to move into leadership positions in the community.

“We make up 51 per cent of the population and we’re way down on representation,” she said.

“Women think differently, we have different ways of looking at issues and I think having women on council brings a really good balance.

“But there’s a long way to go, especially for the smaller rural shires.”

The most male-dominated shires are Northern Grampians, with five men and two women, and Hindmarsh, with four men and two women, and West Wimmera which has one female councillor out of five positions.

Horsham and Yarriambiack have the highest levels of gender equality, with four male and three female councillors.

Yarriambiack Mayor Andrew McLean said he did not believe it was a problem for his shire.

“We’re a 4-3 split so we’re not far from 50 per cent and we’ve generally had a reasonable representation,” he said.

“The women from my time have been welcome to stand so I’m not sure why it is that we don’t have more.” 

Hindmarsh councillor Wendy Robins said she wanted to see more women run for local government.

“I would like to see a true representation of the people which would be 50-50,” she said.

“I don’t believe it’s men who are necessarily stopping it.

“Some of our biggest critics are women, some of the hardest people to convince are women. 

“It’s a matter of believing we are just as capable.”

Cr Robins said more role models in the community would boost numbers in local government in the long-term.

“I believe they’re out there but us women aren’t that good at putting our hand up as role models,” she said.

The Wimmera has also experienced a lack of female representation in other tiers of government.

No woman has ever represented the region in state or federal parliament.

Nationals candidate for Lowan Emma Kealy and Liberal candidate for Ripon Louise Staley will be the first women to represent the region in State Parliament if they are successful at November’s election.


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