The State Government has announced a review into councillor remuneration, as part of this process I authored a submission encouraging to examine the need for stronger youth represention with local government:
Given the time commitment councillors provide, it is fair and reasonable to look at a level of remuneration that allows elected officials to adequately manage council, work, family and other commitments.
It has been estimated that the majority of councillors undertake between 11 to 30 hours per week on council duties and as such it is reasonable to view the commitment to council as a significant time component. Given this commitment and the current remuneration provided, it is unsurprising that youth are significantly under-represented as councillors given that younger people are often beginning to undertake significant career and family commitments.
While it would be wrong to entice candidates into council purely due to the remuneration provided, the current quantum may in fact be deterring committed individuals and particularly our youth from seeking election.
In 2005 I was elected as a Councillor for the City of Maroondah and am one of the few Victorian councillors younger than 30 years of age.
While I understand that both the Municipal Association of Victoria and the City of Maroondah have issued submissions, I believe that there is the need for a submission that explicitly explores the challenges facing younger people in local government.
Speaking from my own experience, I can testify to the challenges that the role provides particularly in regard to balancing career, family and other commitments. While such commitments are not exclusive to younger people, the effects are often more prominent for younger age groups. There may be councillors who are not putting the work into the role, but this is not a path I have wanted to take. In fact, I can confidently and honestly state that I have and will continue to represent my community to the fullest of my ability, despite ongoing competing demands for my time.
Lastly, I would like to state that while I am writing in support of higher remuneration this is not a grab for cash. People should not enter politics or local government due to remuneration, but it is reasonable to expect fair compensation to ensure that competing time demands can be managed and to maximise the ability to represent the community.