Now you're a councillor

Now you're a councillor

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Aunty Alice Solomon is a proud Yorta Yorta woman who stood as a candidate in October 2012 in the Shire of Mitchell for the second time.  

The 2012 election was my second time standing.  There was a Think Women for local government forum in Euroa and if I hadn’t gone to that I probably wouldn’t have stood. I was already very involved in the community and that would have been enough.

However I considered it my duty to stand as I was an Indigenous leader in my community. And no one else was around who wanted to stand. I believe that there needs to be an Indigenous presence in all councils across Australia.

One of the most important things for me during the campaign was speaking at the Darebin Aboriginal Women’s Local Government Leadership workshop to other Indigenous women who thought they might become candidates. It was a lovely day and it was so nice to be among like-minded women. Attending this workshop was so important to me, just to know that I could reach out for support and to know there were other women putting up their hands to be leaders in their community.

Knowing I could have reached out really made a difference.  The Facebook page was also really useful because I could reach out to other women and get their feedback. I learnt a lot from them. They were a force to be reckoned with!

One thing I would like to tell others is – if you have a mentor that is willing to support you, really make good use of them.

There were eight people running for three positions in my ward but I wasn’t elected this time.  I won’t run again, but if there’s someone out there who wants to run, particularly an Indigenous woman, I’ll be there for them. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good experience and there were some really great spin offs from my campaign.

During my candidacy, I had noticed that there weren’t Aboriginal flags in the council chamber and I asked Link Up, an organisation that brings families back together, to help out by sending me some.  When I got the flags I asked the new Council if we could present them at a council meeting.  But instead we had a special event with the Mayor and more than 70 people came along. I was really quite overwhelmed that an idea for an event I’d thought of came to fruition. It was really empowering. It opened the door for other Aboriginal candidates and also to the whole Aboriginal community

The only thing I would do differently if I were to stand again would be to ask for a lot more help and guidance. It was there, but sometimes it hard to ask for it.  I really think it’s important to have particular programs to encourage Indigenous women to run.

When I think about local government, I believe that councillors need to be aware that there are Indigenous men and women out there who might want to run and they need to make them welcome by important things such as acknowledgement to country at every council function. My running for council made an inroad even if I didn’t win. It made council aware of me and the needs of Indigenous women and men.