The Victorian government has commissioned a review that aims to make local government a safer space for women.
The ‘local government culture project’ will look at the history of and influences on culture in the state’s councils. This will allow the sector to ‘identify and take ownership of a positive and inclusive culture that will improve governance and build public trust’, according to local government minister Shaun Leane.
“We are working with councils to promote best practices and behaviours, for the benefit of all,” he said.
“We’re particularly interested in supporting women in local government – those currently serving their community and those who will do so in the future – and that will be a significant focus of this work.”
Leane said the review aimed to make local government a safer space for women, and encourage more women to nominate for election.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Professor Graham Sansom and Professor Anona Armstrong will lead the review.
Sansom is adjunct professor at the University of Technology Sydney and former chief executive of the Australian Local Government Association, while Armstrong is emeritus professor at the Victoria University College of Law and Justice and a fellow of IPAA Victoria.
They will develop a discussion paper following consultation with key stakeholders, including the Gender Equality Advisory Committee, and reviewing academic research. Advice will be delivered to Leane following engagement with the local government sector early next year.
Last year the state auditor-general’s office found 28% of state council employees and councillors experienced sexual harassment at work in the 12 months to June 2020.
While employees from all roles and levels said they had experienced sexual harassment, the audit found those at greater risk were people from the LGBTQIA+ community, women aged between 18 and 34, and people with disability.