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Support available for potential Councillors

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The City of Greater Bendigo is reminding residents considering running for Council elections this year that there is support available to allow Councillors to carry out their duties and meet family and work commitments at the same time.

This is in response to recent reports that fewer women may stand for Council elections this month, because women are more negatively impacted by COVID-19 through additional childcare responsibilities and financial stress caused by job insecurity.

Being a Councillor and leading your community can be a rewarding experience.  It can also be a demanding and time-consuming role.  There is a requirement to attend Council and Committee meetings, represent the Council and communicate with residents, business, community groups and others.

In preparation for the upcoming Council elections, a new support policy for Councillors was adopted in August which offers:

  • Reimbursement of caring expenses (for children as well as elderly, disabled or sick family members)
  • The provision of laptops and smart phones as needed
  • Access to a vehicle to attend community events
  • Financial support for training
  • Reimbursement of travel expenses incurred for Council purposes
  • Fair and reasonable support for individuals with a disability

Councillors also receive an annual allowance of more than $31,000. The Mayoral allowance is higher.

Acting Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cooney said being a Councillor was rewarding and there were several initiatives to provide support with the demands of the role. 

“We want to encourage a diversity of candidates to stand at this election and this means we have to do what we can to ensure the job is as welcoming, accessible and inclusive as possible,” Mr Cooney said.

“We encourage people from all backgrounds to consider running for Council, regardless of age, gender, ability, income, experience or ethnicity.”

Mr Cooney said the proportion of women on Council had grown.

“In 2016, women comprised 11 of 32 candidates and won five of the nine positions on Council, which was an increase of two on the previous Council.

“Council should be representative of the community it serves. For that to happen, the City must provide support to remove barriers to participation, such as caring responsibilities, access to transport and some financial reimbursement.”

“We want to reassure all prospective candidates we will work with the new Council to find meeting arrangements that suits their needs.

“One thing COVID-19 has shown us is that with the help of technology there are many new ways we can meet and exchange information. This is creating more flexibility for people who have to blend the competing demands of work, family and community.”

For more information about the role of a Councillor and support for Councillors head to https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/About/Council/Role-of-our-Councillors-and-Mayor.

Nominations for this year’s Council elections open on September 17 and close on September 22.

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