Michele Halsall stood in the City of Casey in the October 2012 elections. After an “apprenticeship” in community issues, she found campaigning a worthwhile experience…
I’d been asked to stand for council many times but in the past I said that’s not for me. I’d been interested in local government and involved in lots of local groups. Then in February 2011 we had the floods in Casey and lots of people were affected but the council didn’t take much notice so I set up a support group.
People started recognising me in street and I started to realise that I could really make a difference. So then I thought I’d stand. I hadn’t intended it, it just happened because of the floods. Out of necessity I thought I would try to get help for people and it worked out for me.
I had no previous campaign experience. I hadn’t even helped anyone campaign. So I needed lots of help. I knew some of the councillors through committees and groups so I asked them for help.
I found out about the Think Women for Local Government forums and went along to an early one. It made me feel much more confident in my campaign as I’d already printed some of my campaign material and I was the only one who had thought about the issues I would run on. I was way ahead of the others!!
I think I would have stood without the support of the Think Women for local government project but it would have been harder because I would have had to find out everything for myself. I would have missed out on all the contacts and advice. There was so much to learn and I just soaked it all up and went to everything that I could.
The Facebook page was the best thing about the resources. You could put a question up there and someone would get back to you straight away. It made me feel like I was really part of something larger and that we were all in it together.
I really appreciated A Gender Agenda and I made sure I went through every page and that I ticked all the boxes. It made me really organised. Help was only a phone call away and I could ring the Project up any time if I had any issues. But the main thing was I knew there was someone supporting me in the background
I’d encourage other women to run for council and to learn from my experience. You need to start really early. Women should be thinking about it now if they intend to run in 2016. Start with a support group and join Facebook and get lots of friends. Start raising money for your campaign too. There was so much to learn and I just soaked it all up and went to everything that I could.
In the end I wasn’t successful although I did quite well. I was up against 16 others for two council positions and I was there right to the end.
I felt good about my campaign and I think I will probably run again. We’re thinking of moving and if we did, one of the first things I’d do is go along to the council and join committees to get to know people in that area.