Workshop for Yarra Ranges residents curious about standing for Council

Yarra Ranges residents are invited to a workshop to learn more about what it takes to be a councillor. Picture: ON FILE

By Callum Ludwig

Another informative opportunity for aspiring Council candidates is coming up at the end of the month.

Former Baw Baw Shire councillor and mayor Ruth McGowan OAM will be delivering a workshop to help prospective councillors better understand the role of a councillor and help them to prepare the campaign ahead of this year’s elections in October.

Ms McGowan said the session will be a really practical look at what it takes to run for council.

“I’m hoping that people that are even a little bit curious might come along and learn a bit more about what the role is and its challenges, but also what the great things about being a Councillor are,” she said.

“It will be positive, but I won’t sugarcoat it, but it’s an opportunity to learn what you do as a Councillor, looking at what a day in the life of a councillor looks like and then I’ll talk a bit about what it takes to plan a campaign.”

Since 2012, Ms McGowan has acted as advisor and consultant to Council’s while also writing her book ‘Get Elected’, which is a ‘step-by-step campaign guide to winning public office’ targeted at women and encouraging them to get into politics.

Ms McGowan said time and time again, she hears councillors that get elected say ‘I wish I knew more about the role before I stood for office’.

“It does take a fair bit of time to be a great councillor and a good, effective councillor needa to put time into the role,” she said.

“That’s usually around two days a week, it can be more, it can be less, but it does have an impact on your paid work, your caring responsibilities and maybe your volunteer activities,”

“Sometimes people have to consider if they want to actually be a councillor and what’s going to be the impact on their life.”

Ms McGowan is also partnered with organisations such as Women for Election and the University of Melbourne’s Pathways to Politics program, of which she has also completed herself.

Ms McGowan said it’s really important that councillors reflect the diversity of the community they seek to represent.

“Across Victorian councils we know that they’re top-heavy and skewed towards older men, whereas we need more women to stand, we need more young people, we need people from culturally diverse backgrounds and First Nations people, they’re very much underrepresented on local councils across the state,” she said.

“I’d encourage someone who’s thinking ‘Do I belong there?’ to come along, because your voice needs to be heard and it certainly would be useful and beneficial for the community to have diverse voices around the council chamber that reflect the lived experiences people across the Yarra Ranges.”

The session will be held on Thursday 30 May from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the Yarra Ranges Council Civic Centre at 15 Anderson Street, Lilydale.

It is free for Yarra Ranges residents but registrations are essential.

Ms McGowan said being a councillor isn’t a magic, special job and people who are already leading in their communities are who she’d encourage to come along.

“They might be the president of the school council or the secretary of the kinder or a lieutenant on their local fire brigade, they’re already serving the community as community leaders and I would say many of the skills that people have can be translated to being a councillor,” she said.

“Maybe they’d like to try a different type of leadership as an elected representative and anyone can do it with the right skills, the right training and the right attitude if they’re there for the community,”

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to serve your community in a way that you just don’t have elsewhere.”

To register for the session, visit: