Follow the leaders: The central Victorian and wider region has a high proportion of female mayors

LEAD THE WAY: Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke is one of five female leaders in central Victoria and surrounding shires.
LEAD THE WAY: Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke is one of five female leaders in central Victoria and surrounding shires.

Central Victoria and the wider region’s high proportion of female mayors reflects the standing of women in regional communities, Victoria’s Local Government Association says. 

Five shires in the region – Greater Bendigo, Mount Alexander, Macedon Ranges, Strathbogie and Mitchell  – have female mayors.

Of those councils, Greater Bendigo and Macedon Ranges both have 55 per cent female councillors, with Campaspe (44 per cent) and Mount Alexander (43) close behind.   

Related: Females treated differently: Councillor

Bendigo has a higher proportion of women than men on council for the first time in its history.

And six of the 10 member cities in Regional Cities Victoria – a group representing 10 of the biggest municipalities in country Victoria – have female mayors.

VLGA chief executive Kathryn Arndt said the higher proportion of female mayors in central Victoria reflected the fact women tended to become actively involved in community leadership and civic positions. 

“It (move to local government) is an organic transition for some women, further reinforcing the role they have in their community,” she said. 

“For many, many years women in rural and regional areas have been quite prominent in roles that they've played in their local communities.”

Related:Mayor keen to run again

Victoria, in particular regional Victoria has made great strides with female representation in local government in recent years, Ms Arndt said.

Despite the success, the VLGA is encouraging female councillors to consider running for mayor this year with mayoral elections approaching. 

“We need more women participating around the council table. Closing the gap on gender equity will promote a diversity of opinions and talents to help local government do its job even better," Ms Arndt said. 

Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke said in August she was considering putting her hand up for the role again, while fellow councillor Yvonne Wrigglesworth suggested she would “not rule it out” if she had support within council.