Sunday, 7 May 2017

International Women’s Day: Women and Local Government

National Council of Women of Victoria welcomes the recent election of women
Councillors to lead both the local government peak bodies in Victoria.

The election on 6 March of Cr Mary Lalios as first woman President of the Municipal
Association of Victoria (MAV) - following the February election of Cr Marg Attley as
President of the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) - is an important step in
the recognition of the principle of equality of representation.

NCW Victoria has worked for the principle of equal right to vote and to stand for public office for more than a hundred years, and we helped create the Local Government Women’s Association more than fifty years ago.

Since August 2000 when 26. % of councillors were women, there has been a gradual increase with women elected October 2016 reaching 38%.

An important element in this progress had been the setting of targets and the increased availability of good training for prospective and new councillors. We congratulate Cr Helen Coleman, President of Australian Local Government Women’s Association (Victorian Branch) (ALGWA Vic) and her colleagues including former ALGWA President Cr Coral Ross for their outstanding work to encourage equal involvement of women and men in local government.

Janene Blanchfield Brown, President, Wednesday 8 March 2017

NCW Victoria encourages all candidates for public office to access training and supports the use of material GoWomenLG  website for potential candidates, Now You’re a Councillor  website for newly elected women councillors, the Victorian Local Government Women's Charter (supported by the MAV and the VLGA)and A Gender Agenda – kit for women who want to stand for local government and thosewho want to assist others to stand’ (5th edition)

Children's Matters

The Commission for Children and Young People will soon begin an inquiry into the permanency changes arising from the Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Permanent Care and Other Matters) Act 2014. The changes took effect in March 2016, and the inquiry will examine the evidence available after the first six months of their operation to consider whether the amendments are meeting their objectives of improving permanency for children and young people and whether they have lead to unintended consequences. 

At the 17 August Children's Matters Forum, Commissioner Liana Buchanan said: "In just four months as Commissioner I have heard many different views about the impact of the permanency amendments, including some very strong concerns. I am in no doubt this is an important inquiry, and I look forward to reviewing the evidence and hearing from people about their experiences over the past six months. I encourage people who are interested to make a contribution to the process - the more information we have to rely on, the stronger our findings will be." 

The inquiry will consider whether the amendments have had any direct impact on outcomes for vulnerable children and families; whether the permanency amendments are leading to timelier permanent outcomes, including family preservation and family reunification for vulnerable children and for children for whom it is unsafe to return to the care of a parent; whether the permanency amendments have strengthened cultural supports and planning for Aboriginal children in out of home care; what impact, if any, have the permanency amendments had on child protection and other services; whether there have been any unintended consequences directly attributable to the permanency amendments; barriers that prevent permanent care orders being made.

The inquiry will be informed by evidence and data and will involve a number of components including consultations and a submission process. The Commission wants to hear from a range of interested stakeholders about their experience of these amendments. This inquiry will be guided by the best interest principles in section 10 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The inquiry will commence in September 2016 and be finalised in March 2017. Submissions will be sought in the near future and updates on the inquiry will be available on the Commission's website

(Extract from a NCW Victoria report supplied by Anne McLeish OAM, Executive Director, Grandparents Victoria Inc)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Towards equality in local government

NCW Victoria’s partnership with the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) Victoria in the annual My Vote My Voice program for school students at the Parliament of Victoria, has its origin in a report on Intergenerational Issues prepared by Cr Coral Ross after her return from a trip to Canada. 

ALGWA runs a nationally accredited program called the 5050 vision for gender equality. Cr Coral Ross now , National President, Australian Local Government Women’s Association says … the program is designed to encourage Australian councils to improve gender equity both within the organisation and among the elected representatives. It can be accessed by all councils, regardless of their size, location or progress on gender equity. Councils from across Australia have registered for the program, which have three levels: bronze, silver and gold. 

Councils needed to do a number of things to achieve the Gender Equity Awards. These included a commitment in the corporate policy; policies and strategies to demonstrate commitment, plus actions, and a project which has addressed gender equity issues. Councils also needed to supply gender ratios, which will provide an up-to-date picture of local government. The entire program is strongly based on resource sharing and networking. Last year at our State of the Nation” conference in Barossa, a number of councils showcased the projects they had implemented. Among the featured councils were Devonport City Council in Tasmania; Broken Hill City Council in NSW; Central Highlands Regional Council in Queensland; City of Ryde in Sydney; Holroyd City Council in South Australia and Darwin City Council in the Northern Territory. The contract with LGAQ, who were the 5050 project coordinators, finished in December. Last year the ALGWA Board agreed to take over the program and are in the process of finalising the changeover. 

Today 31.58% of Australian councillors are women. NSW has the lowest percentage of female councillors at 27%. Leading the country is the Northern Territory with 36%, closely followed by Victoria on 34%. In March, Queensland moved into third place with 32.5%, Western Australia is just behind on 31.6%, Tasmania is at 31% and South Australia is the only other state below 30% with 29%.Those States which have a higher proportion of women councillors in turn have a higher number of female Mayors and female CEOs/General Managers. Our data proves having women at the table makes a difference in selecting a woman. Last year in Victoria 35% of Mayors were women, 34% in the Northern Territory compared to 19% in NSW. More than a quarter of the CEOs/General Managers in the Northern Territory are women and 17% in Victoria compared to 7% in NSW.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Where are the women?

The Women’s Leadership Institute Australia is based at the University of Melbourne. Carol Schwartz AM Founding Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute, recalls that she had asked a conference of business leaders in 1990 “Where are the women?” In 2015, speaking about the women who are more than half of the graduates in law, medicine, economics and humanities she asked again why high achieving women are not seen on a basis of equality in leadership roles in government, corporate boardrooms, universities and other institutions?

Australia’s involvement with the International Council of Women-CIF began 120 years ago, initially in Sydney, and since then NCW Australia and the Councils of Women in the States and Territories have adopted a partnership approach to challenge the barriers that prevent women from having equal opportunity to achieve, advocating more equal participation of men and women in public life and leadership roles, both in Australia and internationally. The Women’s Leadership Institute Australia notes Creating equal opportunity for women to reach leadership positions is a complex equation that requires deep cultural change. However as WLIA suggests one element in creating change will be achieving the equal recognition of women in the Australian Honours system.

National Council of Women in Victoria has been attentive to the need to find ways in which attention can be drawn to women’s achievement for example through nominations to the Victorian Honour Roll Women’s since it began in 2001. The VHRW records the achievements of almost six hundred women leaders whose work had impacted for good in many fields in Victoria, Australia & beyond.

As a way of educating our members about ways in the way such achievements could be better recognized, from 2004-2009, NCW Victoria used its Dame Phyllis Frost Award program identify individuals who had made a significant contribution to the enhancement of the status of women and girls in Victoria, had shown long term commitment to such a cause or causes, and made an especially significant voluntary contribution above and beyond that required in the nominee’s employment.

Our July 2016 Council meeting has been designed to enable members to gain a better an understanding of the Australian Honours system with presenter and Melba Group member Jenny Standish. The challenge set out in the Melba Groups Awards Training Program is Aim personally to nominate one woman every year.

Learn more about Advancing Women:

Women and the Order of Australia (2011) Available as a PDF from

Women’s Leadership Institute Australia

Victorian Honour Roll for Women
To be notified when nominations open in mid-2016,
For general enquiries please call Anushka Restuccia on 9651 1032

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Women, Faith Communities, Family Violence

Since the Royal Commission on Family Violence delivered its lengthy report at the end of March, the community has been slowly coming to terms with what is involved in implementation of the more than 200 recommendations, including measures to enable victims to remain safely in the family home. Part of the report that hasn’t had much publicity so far relates to the role of the religious organisations a number of which have had long involvement with NCW Victoria. 

Yet as the report says “Faith leaders and organisations have direct and influential contact with many members of the Victorian community, and their guidance and intervention are often sought when family violence is being experienced” As a body that brings together women of diverse backgrounds, NCW Victoria needs to be attentive to the RCFV recommendations specific to faith communities. We have been following with interest for some years now the Think Act program initiated by Dr Ree Bodde of Anglicans Helping to Prevent Violence against Women. This program has been acknowledged as an excellent model of the way that building a culture of equal and respectful relationships can work in organisations and local churches, signalling the way primary prevention can reduce the prevalence of violence.

Now the RCFV having met with leaders from faith groups - including Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian groups such as Anglican, Catholic, UCA and some Orthodox communities - has recommended that the OMAC (Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship) Multifaith Advisory Group and the Victorian Multicultural Commission, to develop training packages on family violence and sexual assault for faith leaders and communities within three years; That the Department of Health and Human Services consult with the OMAC Multifaith Advisory Group, the VMC and women from faith communities as part of its review of standards for specialist family violence service providers (including men’s behaviour change programs), to ensure that these standards take account of the needs of people in faith communities who experience FV within two years; and that faith leaders and communities establish processes for examining the ways in which they currently respond to family violence in their communities and whether any of their practices operate as deterrents to the prevention or reporting of, or recovery from, family violence or are used by perpetrators to excuse or condone abusive behaviour.

There seems to be limited data on the prevalence of family violence in particular faith communities; however it is agreed that such violence is causing concern among those communities and their leaders… As the RCFV report noted “Spiritual abuse and the use of faith to support or condone violence are concerns in some communities”. 

(We acknowledge the report on this topic prepared by Mark Brolly for The Melbourne Anglican

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

My Vote My Voice – The Right to Vote, the Right to Stand, Friday 12th August 2016

 My Vote My Voice August 2015 

PhotographerSophie Nowicka

This is an invitation from National Council of Women Victoria for students to take apart in our annual My Vote My Voice event run by Young NCWVic. Here is your chance to make a brief presentation on ‘The Right to vote; the right to stand – the involvement of women in local government in Victoria’ in Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament of Victoria on Friday 12 August 2016. 

Our 2016 event is designed to encourage students to investigate the level of participation of women in the community, particularly local government, past, present and future. The Australian Local Government Women’s Association has provided copies of ‘The Right to vote; the right to stand – the involvement of women in local government in Victoria’, for each participating school, to help students in their research. 

Students are invited to make three minute presentations on the 2016 theme, to the invited audience of students, community members and a panel of ALGWA members.

Although places are limited, we would welcome up to 6 students from your school, with no more than 3 to speak, and accompanying staff or parents to attend. We have arranged the half day program with on-arrival refreshments and photographs from 8.30 am, then students and guests will move to the Legislative Council Chamber for a program of speeches, student presentations and panel comments that will conclude at 12 noon. We hope some of your students will be able to attend on August 12th. 

Further details and photographs are available on the YoungNCWVic facebook page Students from participating schools and their teachers are encouraged to send some information about their preparation for the event via Young NCWV’s blog 

Please register your school group as soon as possible, not later than noon on not later than noon on Friday 15 July. via 
For further information, ph: 9421 1602/ 0447 351 234. 

My Vote My Voice 2016 has the support of the President of the Legislative Council, and the Education and Community Engagement Unit, Parliament of Victoria; Australian Local Government Women’s Association(Victoria), the League of Women Voters Bessie Rischbieth Trust and the Victorian Electoral Commission see: website       facebook     twitter

Volunteers - Let’s hear it for us

National Volunteer Week 2016 is 9-15 May gives us a chance to congratulate ourselves for our voluntary work and to thank others who willingly donate ‘time and talents’, service and skills, for the benefit of others, without being paid.

For National Councils of Women across Australia, and for our affiliated organizations, volunteering is what makes our work possible.  However staff in some enterprises seem rather dismissive of volunteers, and people from other countries seem to find our willingness to volunteer a strange thing to do.

One way or another, volunteering still seems a very Australian thing to do. From the 2010 Census, it appeared that 38% of women aged 18 years and over were volunteers compared to 34% of men. And Regional Australians (41%) were more likely to volunteer than Australians who lived in major cities (34%). While all capital cities have high volunteering rates compared to other parts of the world, Darwin shows the greatest percentage of volunteers (43%).

Willingly giving time to do work for an organisation or community group, on an unpaid basis, can be rewarding for individuals, young or old.

However care needs to be taken that the relationship between the volunteers and those they help, especially the organisations where they make their contribution, is based on mutual respect and common understandings about the work that is to be shared.

In this issue of NCW Victoria News we are featuring material from the Volunteering Victoria a great resource both for organisations looking to encourage volunteers, and for individuals considering becoming volunteers together with some fresh volunteering opportunity for you with NCW Victoria.