It's not always the easiest job but it can be the most rewarding.
Cr Carol James has served on Goulburn Mulwaree Council since 2008, including two years as Mayor. She fully intends to run again in September for a four-year term and is encouraging other women to do the same.
"While it's time consuming, it is is very rewarding, particularly when you go to a playground opening or see projects like the Wollondilly Riverwalk taking shape," Cr James said.
"There's much to be proud of but there's still a lot to come, like the aquatic centre redevelopment and the Performing Arts Centre. I'm looking forward to seeing that (PAC) open towards the end of the year."
Cr James is among 44 females registered to attend the state funded Women for Election Australia (WEFA) workshop in Goulburn on Friday. The event, delivered by WEFA chief executive Licia Heath and author, trainer, coach and former Victorian councillor Ruth McGowan, will be held at Workspace in Clinton Street from 9am to 3pm.
NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock and Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor will also speak at the workshop. Both women started have served on councils.
The session is aimed at understanding a councillor's role, reasons for nominating, planning campaigns, meeting deadlines, what happens on election day and the benefits of being in local government.
Ms Heath said she and Ms McGowan pitched the workshops to both ministers in 2019.
"We said you cannot be happy with the fact that NSW is performing the worst in Australia when it comes to female representation on councils," she said.
Women make up just 30 per cent of NSW' councils, whereas Victoria has 44pc representation. The other states sit between these statistics.
Ms Heath said women did many amazing things in the community, mostly pro bono, and possessed skill sets that equipped them well for local government, politics and leadership roles.
But the five 'c's' - cash, caring responsibilities, candidate selection, particularly by political parties, culture and "the big one" - confidence - often prevented them from nominating.
"We address each one in the workshop," Ms Heath said.
Whereas Goulburn Mulwaree Council has three female councillors in Carol James, Leah Ferrara and Margaret O'Neill, Wingecarribee had none before being placed in administration this year. Pam Kensit is the only female of seven Upper Lachlan Council representatives, Yass Valley has three out of nine members and Queanbeyan Palerang - two of 11 members.
The government has funded seven workshops around the state in the lead-up to the September elections, including at Bathurst, Dubbo, Lismore and Albury. Ms Heath said Goulburn had one of the highest registrations but took in several council areas.
Cr James said she had enjoyed her time on Goulburn Mulwaree Council. She also runs a real estate agency and is deeply involved in a multitude of organisations, including the Community Drug Action Team, Suicide Prevention Network, Goulburn Scouts, the Lilac Festival committee, Goulburn Street Van and mentors the Youth Council. In 2015 she was named Goulburn's NSW Woman of the Year.
Cr James said it was important not to enter council with set views but to keep an open mind.
"The thing is not to go in thinking you're going to change the world because yours is just one vote. There are eight other councillors and you have to respect their views as well," she said.
But she believed women generally looked at issues deeply and were considered in their decisions.
"We need more women on there who will sit back, listen and learn and I definitely encourage more of them to stand for the council," she said.
Cr Leah Ferrara also previously signaled her intention to nominate again.
- For more information and to register for the workshop, visit www.wfea.org.au
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