Media Release on Councillor harassment

All women should feel safe at work; free from any form of harassment or assault says the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA).

And the women’s peak body called for uniform procedures, including an independent arbiter, across all Australian Councils when dealing with complaints.

“Harassment, sexual or otherwise is never acceptable wherever it occurs,” said National ALGWA President Cr Coral Ross.

“For women councillors, the Council and chamber are their workplace. They have the right to feel safe at work and supported if they make a complaint.

“But there are different procedures in each State. Some States have a Code of Conduct enshrined in Local Government Acts with independent arbiters while others have no minimum standards. In some States, a councillor has to make a complaint to the Mayor and that can be difficult if the complaint is about the Mayor.

“Councils are political places so there needs to be an independent process outside the political arena to give confidence to all involved,” added Cr Ross.

The ALGWA Board called for a National Code of Conduct with independent procedures following the standing down of Melbourne Lord Mayor Cr Robert Doyle while allegations of sexual harassment and indecent assault against a fellow councillor are investigated.

Victorian ALGWA President Helen Coleman said that the women’s group was there to support all women councillors.

“We have a strong record of helping women on Council who come to us with serious claims such as sexual and other forms of harassment and intimidation. Any form of harassment has to stop,” said Ms Coleman.

“In Victoria currently any complaints against councillors are made to the Mayor. We are encouraged that the draft Local Government Bill provides for an independent arbiter.”

Any enquires:

Cr Coral Ross, National ALGWA President 0438 005 225

Helen Coleman, ALGWA (Vic) President 0437 940 930