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Intro

Tell us a bit about yourself/ your background

I am currently in my seventh year as a councillor in the Shire of Toodyay and my third year as Shire President. I spent most of my working career in nursing and environmental science, along with 30 years of family business. I moved to Toodyay 25 years ago, but before that my family had always been based rurally, near mining communities.

What was it that inspired you to run for council?

I was initially disinterested in running for council, but a good friend at the time, passionate about social justice, pushed me for years to nominate. After three years of this pressure, I asked who was running for my ward. I was delighted to hear it was a very popular and experienced local, so, convinced I had a miniscule chance of being elected, I agreed. When the incumbent withdrew, I was elected unopposed.

After my first term, I took a four-year hiatus before standing for council again.

This time however, my decision was strongly influenced by my belief in the wonderful potential local government has to improve lives with wise community focused stewardship.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as President?

I am determined to see this dynamic council and administration successfully implement organisational change that will help avoid the factional turmoil of the past.

I also want to help deliver excellent governance and financial oversight and a clear direction for the future of our community.

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities of being a woman
serving in local government?

I don’t see any specific challenges that arise from being a woman in local government.

Challenges that do arise are not, in my opinion, gender specific, but rather issues of character. We are all familiar with office bullies and discriminatory behaviour. It has always been apparent that thinking in this way limits effectiveness and inhibits change.

The main opportunity presented by more women in local government is their contribution to richer council decision making. Gender can influence approaches to problem solving and the resulting outcomes. Gender balance in council, in a supportive environment, is more likely to lead to better results for the community at large.

How do you encourage more women to participate in local government?

Remove the mystique, stop fostering the gender divide and dispense with political intrigue. Familiarise them with the role and structure of the organisation before they nominate. Convey our expectations of councillors. Have frank conversations about the role and representation, basic legislative constraints in behaviour and operations, while providing a realistic – but digestible - view of the organisation.

Mentor. I cannot overstate the importance of mentoring prospective councillors. Prospective candidates should be familiar with local government structure and key aspects of the Local Government Act, Code of Conduct and Standing Orders before they nominate. It is also important that they are familiar with chambers and have been introduced to sitting councillors.

Provide ongoing support to elected councillors - coffee meetings, training sessions and the like.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

It can get tiring and frustrating at times, but ultimately being on council is rewarding. I would encourage anyone with a passion for community, who is prepared to work for the betterment of the whole, to please nominate!

Page reviewed 06 May 2022