Time to Tip the Scales

When I think of local council elections I can’t help but think of Rats in the Ranks and not because it is one of Australia’s finest observational docs. Sadly I think about it because it portrays the bickering, backstabbing and politicking which can consume local councils.

As this gem of a clip shows, what should be an important discussion about local assets can quickly deteriorate in to school yard behaviour.

But putting that aside a recent Essential Research poll found “local councils were rated most highly for finding services you need (55%), having your voice heard (36%) or serving your interests (42%).”

So while we can consume ourselves with the dramas of local council politics or the Local Government Association in essence it is at this grass roots level you can create change for your immediate community.

At the last Local Government Election the Local Government Association (LGA) stated in its handbook;

“Being a Council Member is a privileged position and one of the most direct ways that you can influence decisions that affect the quality of life in your local area. As community leaders, Council Members have a wide range of responsibilities, including representing the interests of electors, making decisions about community assets such as playgrounds, parks, roads or large infrastructure, and making judgements about competing pressures and demands on resources of the Council.”

When put in this context being a local councillor gives you the opportunity to be a part of a decision that impacts directly on your community. Like all communities we are diverse, however are you aware that the people representing you at your local council may not be?

It’s well known that around a third of members of parliament (state and federal) are women. Yet in the last LGA election the situation was a tad worse with 7 out of 10 elected councillors at the 2014 elections being men, a number that has been slowly climbing over recent elections. Of these they were mainly older with a third being over the age of 55.

In 2010 almost a quarter of Mayors were women however after the 2014 elections this fell by 8.7% so now the number of female Mayors in South Australia is just 12 out of 68 councils – or less than one fifth.

Right now our councils are not looking that diverse or representative.

For women to have an impact in here they first need to get elected. To run an effective election campaign women need to have a range of skills from public speaking to stakeholder engagement. They need to know how to manage social media and traditional media. How to effectively network and turn neighbourly conversations in to votes.

To help women with all of this – and more – Outspoken Women are running an election ready workshop. This full day of training covers;

• voice and projection

• defining and delivering your key messages

• pitching to stakeholders and the media

• body language, gestures and poses

• networking and social media profiling

• creating a practical framework to be used beyond the elections

While the usual strategy is to put your photo printed on a corflute up on a stobby pole that unfortunately won’t cut it anymore. Without the right skills women won’t be able to tip the scales and get true representation in to our local government.

2018 SA Election Ready Workshop from Outspoken Women on Vimeo.