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Federal Government backs program to promote women into elected and management positions in local government

The provision of safe communities, effective transport and infrastructure will be addressed through a new Local Government Development Program aimed at promoting and increasing the involvement of women in local government.

The Federal Minister for Housing and Regional Development, Brian Howe, said: "This program has the solid, long term aim of promoting the role of women in local government."

Mr Howe - who has responsibility for Local Government in his portfolio - announced details of the project at the Australian Local Government Association's three day National Assembly in Canberra.

"While the participation of women at the elected level in local government is relatively high, I have been concerned for some time that women have been effectively excluded from senior management positions in Local Government," Mr Howe said today.

" It is only in the last five years that a woman was selected Chief Executive of a Council in my own State of Victoria. I understand that women represent less than 20 per cent of senior management positions in Victoria and I suspect the record in other States is equally dismal.

" We don't just want a situation where women are being pushed into management as a means to an end. We must identify the vocational and human resource issues which are keeping women out of community management and address them.

"Safe footpaths, public places and neighbourhoods are important to women with families or women performing carer responsibilities, while good transport systems enable women to travel to and from work after dark without fear of attack or harassment "

"The major issues confronting local communities have a large impact on women.

"We are trying to address the needs of women at a community level and to ensure that those issues don't get marginalised. The presence of women actively participating in local government is an excellent way to maintain that agenda."

The Department of Housing and Regional Development has been asked to provide support program, which will research the level of participation of women at the elected and management levels and provide strategies to overcome the impediments to advancement.

Contact: Andrew Casey, Brian Howe's Office, 06 277 7099; 018 487 581