2021 Women in Local Government Award Honourable Mention

Shire of Shark Bay, WA

Women in Senior Leadership Roles


The Project

Shark Bay is a small, Band 4 rural, remote local government, some 800km from Perth. With a permanent population of less than 1,000 people, and the nearest town more than 300km away, attracting and retaining quality staff can be a challenge, but that has not stopped the Shire working to recognize and reward women in senior leadership roles.

With a total staff of 35, the Shire has a 4 person Executive Team with a 50/50 gender balance. The CEO and Works Manager are male, and both Executive Manager roles (Admin and Finance, and Community and Development and Tourism) are women. Given its remoteness, the Shire has two other roles for which it provides housing to attract quality applicants (Community Development Officer and Visitor Centre Coordinator) and both have female incumbents.

The long standing Shire President is a women as is the newly elected Deputy President. The Shire recently successfully nominated one of its female Executives for the LG Professionals WA Medal (Presented at the State Conference), and supported the same Executive earlier this year to become only the fourth woman to date to be Awarded a Fellowship to LG Professionals WA.

The Shire is supporting its female staff to undertake professional development in non-traditional roles (such as disaster recovery and waste management), including one undertaking a PhD on local government support for Historical Truth Telling. As an example of the support for women in senior roles, the female Executives recently noted they would prefer 4WD vehicles in preference to the comfortable but very limiting 2WD sedans they were currently allocated (all the senior male staff have 4WD vehicles - and as Shark Bay is largely a World Heritage Area with many tourism assets only accessible by off road vehicles it seemed reasonable the women should have the accessibility via the same vehicles).

The new CEO immediately approved this to be actioned at the upcoming vehicle change over! This seemingly small action powerfully supported female equality in the Shire.

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