Derwent Valley councillor Rachel Power quits over social media trolling
Derwent Valley councillor Rachel Power quits over social media trolling

Trolls stole my spirit: Aussie councillor tells why she quit

A DERWENT Valley councillor who quit over online abuse from the public says more needs to be done to protect public officials.

Rachel Power yesterday announced she had resigned after less than 12 months in the role, saying persistent bullying from online trolls had been too much.

The mother-of-three said the final straw came on Saturday when she woke up to a string of abusive text messages.

 

Derwent Valley councillor Rachel Power has quit over allegations of bullying.
Derwent Valley councillor Rachel Power has quit over allegations of bullying.

 

Mrs Power - owner of Waterfalls cafe and gallery at Mount Field National Park - said since making her decision, she had been inundated with messages of support.

"I feel really bad for those people that I'm not there to represent them, but I don't have the strength anymore, I don't have the energy and I've lost the passion right now,'' she said. "Local government is not politics, we're reimbursed volunteers. We live in this community and do it because we love the community."

Mrs Power said she spoke with fellow councillors about the issue and had been contacted by Premier Will Hodgman and Opposition Leader Rebecca White.

Derwent Valley Mayor Ben Shaw wrote on Facebook that it was sad that Mrs Power had been forced to resign.

 

Derwent Valley Mayor Ben Shaw. Picture: EDDIE SAFARIK
Derwent Valley Mayor Ben Shaw. Picture: EDDIE SAFARIK

 

"All we want is to do good things for our community,'' he wrote. "Don't worry I've thought it myself lately, but I'm not going to let them win."

Mrs Power called for changes to the code of conduct framework to enable councillors to defend themselves.

"[Trolls] need shutting down, but we can't do it,'' she said. "The code of conduct is there for a reason, it needs to have legs to support councillors doing the wrong thing, but also councillors doing the right thing."

Mrs Power confirmed she had spoken to Local Government Minister Mark Shelton.

 

Mark Shelton. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL
Mark Shelton. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL

 

Mr Shelton said it was disappointing Mrs Power felt she had to step down.

"Bullying and harassment on social media and other online platforms is unacceptable and it is important everyone in the community is mindful of the importance of raising concerns and issues in a respectful manner,'' Mr Shelton said.

Mr Shelton said the local government sector was consulted in the development of a code of conduct in 2016, and when the framework was reviewed and amended last year.

Local Government director Alex Tay said he had no power to control the behaviour of community members when they interact with councillors.



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