IN 2016, this newspaper asked all candidates in the City of Greater Bendigo council election a series of questions.
Yvonne Wrigglesworth was one of them - and of her answers, several stood out.
When asked what she could offer as a candidate, Yvonne stated (among other things) she had a track record of working with, and inspiring communities.
When asked what qualities were important for a councillor, her response included that they should have integrity.
And when asked what were the top priorities for her ward, one was that 'council emphasis and investment should strengthen communities, whether they are big, small or diverse, because empowered communities succeed'. And, importantly, 'making sure decision-making has a longer-term view, providing benefits for today and our future generations. I will work hard to get the right balance between talk and action'.
Yvonne has lived those values - and her resignation this week is evidence of this.
In her statement of resignation, the former councillor said that 'as a values-driven leader, and a councillor who has fought strongly for good governance, fairness and community leadership, it is with regret' she was unable to continue 'because actions by council appear to blatantly contradict council policies with regards to the organisation's gender equity statement and strategy'.
'Recently I called out council actions that I believed contradicted council policy on gender equity. I pointed out the need to align council action with policy as a measure of good governance. Unfortunately, in speaking up, I was personally attacked by some members of the community, elements of the media and sadly by some of my fellow councillors,' she said.
Yvonne was a fearless leader during a conversation that needed to happen. Needs to happen. And instead of supporting her, our community not only responded with vitriol and hate - they forced her into a position that silenced her. We have now lost that voice on council. An important voice.
But the last thing Yvonne would want is for our community to get distracted by her decision.
Instead, we should remind ourselves of why this conversation started - and the responsibility we all have to create a better world for the girls and women who follow us.
As the Gender Equality and Violence Prevention Consortium (Loddon) says today, it is disappointing the council did not enact the principles of the Greater Bendigo Coalition for Gender Equity Leadership Statement, which outlines the vision for gender equality in our community.
The consortium has encouraged the council and the community to take up the challenge to commit to and create a world where women and girls are truly equal, valued, safe and respected.
We do, too.
- Nicole Ferrie, editor