By Luke Voogt
A state-funded push for more “progressive” women on Geelong’s council is open to both sides of politics, according to its organisers.
Women In Local Democracy (WILD) would support “conservative” female candidates who supported a charter for gender equality on the council, said convenor Jenny Wills.
The Andrews Government gave WILD $5000 in July for candidate workshops ahead of Geelong council elections.
“WILD is keen to see progressive women candidates elected who are passionate about community,” Ms Wills said when announcing the workshops.
This week she clarified that “progressive” referred to supporting the Victorian Local Government Women’s Charter.
WILD supported only women who followed the 1996 charter’s principals of gender equality, diversity and active citizenship, she said.
Women comprise just under a third of candidates for this month’s Geelong elections.
The number put Geelong on track to reach Victoria’s council average of 38.1 per cent women, Ms Wills said.
“With 17 women standing across Geelong’s four wards, electors have the choice of voting for women.”
Brownbill has the strongest female representation of Geelong’s four wards, with almost half the 18 candidates being women. Kardinia has the lowest with two of 11.
Politically left-leaning candidates outnumber right-leaning counterparts 17 to two, according to official nomination statements and known affiliations.
Twelve of the 53 candidates declared political endorsement: six from the Animal Justice Party, four from the Greens and two from Socialist Alliance.
Five declared Labor affiliations and one was a Liberal party member. Another, Ron Nelson, confirmed his Liberal membership but declined to list it on his nomination statement.
The State Government introduced a questionnaire this year to increase the “clarity” of candidates’ backgrounds.
The optional questionnaire asks only for any political endorsement, not affiliations.