A Nhill woman running for council has welcomed the Victorian Local Governance Association's aim to have women make up at least 50 per cent of councillors elected across the state this October.
Wendy Bywaters is a candidate for Hindmarsh Shire Council. She said her tilt was about encouraging other women to stand for election as much as being elected herself.
"A true representation of our people is what we need, whether that be age, gender or whatever," she said. "It's alright for me to say I understand what a new migrant or an entire community goes through, but I don't really.
"When equity is not an issue, then it's fixed. I think what the VLGA is doing is actually just trying to get more people to run: Everyone talks about voting for people because they've got merit, but that's what everyone does already. We need to have people to vote for in the first place: If you get to choose between five men and one woman, how are you going to expect to get representation that reflects the community?"
Ms Bywaters served on council from 2012 to 2016, when her name was Wendy Robins. She ran in 2016 for a different ward and missed out. Her father Alex has also served on council.
FROM THE 2016 CAMPAIGN:
"The reason I want to stand for council again - other than because I enjoyed helping the community - is I want my daughter and my granddaughters to see women in leadership roles," she said. "Sometimes it's hard for people to believe they can do something unless they see others like them already doing it."
Ms Bywaters said she felt she made a difference in advocating for the Nhill Early Learning Centre, which opened in 2017.
"It was a combined effort, but I don't think we would have been talking about it if I wasn't on the council," she said.
"In Nhill, we needed a new kindergarten because we had migrant families driving down the highway to Dimboola to take their kids to one, and they were coming to me talking about it."
Hindmarsh Shire Council is currently served by five men and one woman, Cr Debra Nelson, who served as mayor in 2016 and 2017. At an executive level, its directors of infrastructure and corporate community services are also women.
In 2019, Ms Bywaters called out fellow councillor and then mayor Ron Ismay for calling Member for Lowan Emma Kealy the "best looking politician in Victoria" at the opening of Nhill's skatepark.
On Thursday, Horsham Rural City Council released a statement encouraging women to run at the October elections, and to attend local government workshops being staged by the VLGA this and next month.
In the statement councillor Pam Clarke, who has served four terms on Council, including three as Mayor, said women brought "a balance of views and another perspective to the debate,".
She also said that women often had very different reasons for running for Council compared to their male counterparts. For her, motivation for being involved in Council was wanting a better place for her grandchildren to grow up.
Cr Clarke, who has been involved in Horsham Town Hall, the Kalkee Road Children's Hub and the Aquatic Centre among other projects, suggested that women might be put off from running for Council because they believe they have to be qualified. She said this was not the case.
Horsham's other female councillor this term, Alethea Gulvin, said she didn't think it should matter if someone was a man or a woman.
"Everyone has different views and opinions, so if anyone wants to stand a believe they can make a difference I think they should," she said.
Cr Gulvin declined to comment on whether being on the Council had had a positive impact on her life.
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