WANTED: (by some) gender balance
By MARY MANN firstname.lastname@example.org IT HAS been 89 years since the first female local government councillor was appointed in Australia - but Sharon Cadwallader says there is still a long way to go at Ballina.
Cr Cadwallader, who late last year accused the Ballina council of being a 'boys' club', is pushing for more women to take up a role in local government.
And after trying unsuccessfully last week to convince her fellow councillors to organise information sessions for women wanting to stand in the September council elections, she has decided to do it herself.
"They said it was discrimination to hold a session just for women," Cr Cadwallader said.
"But this is not about saying women are better than men, it's about balance.
"The vote just confirms once again that there is a very one-sided representation for the Ballina Shire, and we need to shift that."
Acting mayor Cr David Wright said he hadn't supported Cr Cadwallader's motion because he didn't want to single out one particular group.
"I support women 100 per cent, but I've always been one for inclusion rather than exclusion," he said.
"It's better if we have one session for everybody, and that we do it well."
The only other female representative on the Ballina council, Margaret Howes, said she did not like the idea of holding a session just for women.
"I think we shouldn't be treated any differently, quite frankly," she said.
"If you can't do something on your merit, you shouldn't be in it."
Cr Cadwallader said she would hold a session anyway, in conjunction with the Women in Local Government organisation.
"Only 26 per cent of people in local government are women, and 50 per cent of the population are women so it is clear they are not being represented," she said.
"It is all about encouraging women to come forward in a comfortable environment - they can often feel put off because it is so dominated by men."
Anyone interested in attending Cr Cadwallader's information session on April 8 can contact her on 0418 244 667.
Ballina Shire Council will hold an information session for any Ballina Shire resident wanting to nominate for election. For details call the council on 6686 4444.