Hands Up: Successful Participation in Local Government Decision-Making

Background

At the initiative of the Minister for Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, the Hon David Templeman MLA, the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) and the University of Western Australia (UWA) are undertaking research that establishes benchmark data about Elected Members in Local Government in Western Australia. The research will also determine the motivations to stand for new Elected Members and re-nominating members. Lastly, it will identify success factors that support their successful contribution to their respective Councils and the quality of decision-making.
 

Representative Councils

Given that Local Government is expected to make decisions on behalf, and for the benefit of, their community, it is not unreasonable to expect that this broad agenda might be more effectively realised if councils were more demographically representative of their local communities. However, while most other Australian States and Territories, and many countries overseas, collect and publish regular census data about Council members and councils, Western Australia has yet to implement these mechanisms. There is little known about Western Australia Elected Members and whether councils are representative of their communities, demographically and socially, in relation to issues such as gender, age, cultural and religious background, socio-economic status, or (dis)ability. 
 

Objectives

The Project has several objectives including:

  • to provide the first comprehensive demographic profile of newly Elected Members and Re-nominating Members and to provide baseline data for future census collections that will allow trends to be monitored
  • to identify issues and challenges facing new Elected Members, and
  • to identify success factors that can maximise the contribution and decision making of Elected Members.


Methodology

The project will collect longitudinal data over a four year period, starting with an online survey of both newly elected and nominated members from the October 2019 Local Government elections. A number of Elected Members will then be interviewed at regular intervals over the four year period to monitor their issues and challenges and also document their successes in the whole decision making process.
 

The Research Team

The UWA Research Team is led by Dr Jacquie Hutchinson and includes Professor Beth Walker and Professor Fiona Haslam McKenzie.  For more information, contact WALGA Project Team Leader, Lyn Fogg or the Research Team.