Factsheet: The Susan Grace Benny Award—Women in Local Government and Community

Sponsored by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities in partnership with the Australian Local Government Women's Association

About the Sponsor

The Australian Government, through the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities contributes to the prosperity of the economy and the wellbeing of all Australians by assisting regions to realise their potential and manage their own futures.

About the Partner

The Australian Local Government Women's Association (ALGWA) was created in 1951. It is non-party political with branches in every State and the Northern Territory. Its aims remain the same today as they were then, to:

  • assist in furthering women's knowledge and understanding of the functions of Local Government
  • encourage women to participate in Local Government
  • encourage women to make a career from Local Government
  • protect the interests and rights of women in Local Government
  • take action in relation to any subject or activity affecting Local Government and Local Government legislation
  • act in an advisory capacity to women candidates for Local Government elections

Membership of ALGWA is open to both men and women interested in supporting women's participation in Local Government. Membership includes elected Councillors, employees in Local Government, former Mayors and Councillors, individual Councils and Shires and intending candidates for Local Government elections.

Women in Local Government and Community Category

The Susan Grace Benny Award is in honour of the first woman elected to any tier of government in Australia.

Ms Benny was elected to Brighton Council, South Australia (now Holdfast Bay) on 22 December 1919 and represented Seacliff ward. She is credited in playing a key role in securing equality for women in the passage of the South Australian divorce law in 1918 and actively supported the abolition of segregated sea-bathing enabling families to swim together.

The Award recognises local governments that have demonstrated a commitment to boost the participation of women in local government and community decision making and management.

Local government has a long history of strong female leadership and advocacy, supporting the development of decision-making processes at the community-level that are more reflective of the whole community a council serves.

This category is focused on local governments that seek to continue to improve representation and promote greater roles for women in leadership roles, both as elected representatives and officers.

The contributions of local governments in this category may include initiatives that are:

  • supporting local women interested in representing their communities
  • developing programs to support women of all ages in community engagement
  • building partnerships to provide training for women in local government
  • providing fostering mentoring and/or networking opportunities to support women to be involved in decision making in local government
  • organising flexible working arrangements, employee consultation, preventing sexual harassment and targets to improve gender representation outcomes.