2021 Women in Local Government Award Winner

Australian Local Government Women’s Association, Victoria

Mentoring for Success – Supporting newly elected Women Councillors



The Project

The Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) Victoria Branch is a non-party political, local government organisation open to all women (and men) interested in supporting women’s success in local government. Its members are Victorian Councils, Councillors and Council Officers who recognise the importance of gender equality. ALGWA’s executive are volunteers.

In 2020, ALGWA Victoria developed a formal Mentoring Program for women Councillors, funded by the Victorian Government. Mentoring in a political context is very different from business mentoring. Many different issues come into play, such as working as an independent with others who represent political parties; working cooperatively with those who have big ambitions, and navigating the legislative and regulatory framework of local government. Mentoring is important for retention and competency.

Newly elected women (mentees) were linked with an experienced female Councillor or former Councillors (mentors), who volunteered their time and expertise. It is daunting to take on a new challenge like serving on council. Guidance from experienced mentors is instrumental in providing the practical intelligence to navigate and thrive in a complex and challenging environment. The massive demand for mentors from new Councillors led to an expanded program with 60 women matched with experienced mentors, involving women Councillors from more than 50 Victorian Councils. It is the largest formal mentoring program for elected Councillors in Australia and was based on the highly successful smaller 2016 program for 20 new Councillors.

Mentoring is not a new concept to aid professional development, but ALGWA Victoria’s program is both innovative and resourceful in providing a support network for elected women through minimal funding and utilising the volunteer effort and talent of current and former Councillors.

Mentee - Being on a council is not a job you can prepare for- it’s like learning and understanding a new language. Having someone to help interpret and navigate that new language is a blessing.

Mentor - Developing a relationship outside the local network where trust and respect are mutual is beneficial.

Mentors and mentees meet regularly in person and by phone. Whilst the program finishes in November 2021 most will continue meeting.


The Award Category

This award recognises female leaders and initiatives in local government which: 

  • support local women to stand for elected roles to represent their communities 
  • implement initiatives in the workplace which help to improve the progress and representation of women in leadership positions 
  • establish programs to support and recognise women as current and emerging leaders, including mentoring, networking and training opportunities. 

Successful projects in this award category benefit communities by:

  • promoting greater roles for women in leadership, both as elected representatives and officers 
  • developing gender equality strategies and programs to support women of all ages to participate and become leaders in their workplace and community
  • advocating for gender equality, women’s rights and representation in the workplace.

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