Search:



International Women’s Day: Councillors make their mark

Posted: 10am 08 Mar 2021

We chat with Moreton Bay Regional Council’s five female councillors this International Women’s Day about the challenges facing women and who inspires them.

Deputy Mayor Cr Denise Sims

Deputy Mayor Cr Denise Sims (Div 7)

Q. Is there a woman who has inspired you to do what you have in life?

No-one in particular, but I have taken inspiration from older generations of women who supported me whilst growing up without a mum.

Q. Has someone mentored you in the early years and have you returned the favour by mentoring a young person?

My mum sadly passed when I was only nine years old, leaving myself, one sister and seven brothers. I was mentored by older friends whilst growing up from a generation older than myself and watching them raise their families taught me many life lessons. From these experiences, I am mindful of always helping out young women who do not have a mother figure in their lives.

Q. What message would you like to share with young girls and women on International Women’s Day?

Despite your background, it is possible to achieve your goals. After moving country, I would like to encourage any woman who has emigrated and has had to establish new connections.

Q. Why is it important for more women to be involved in local government?

It has been proven that gender diversity improves boardroom performance and there is also known to be less fraud. It stops “group think” and allows for better more-balanced decision making.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing women today?

To be patient with change, to be deliberate about your goals, and to retain dignity when things don’t go your way.

Q. How can we overcome the challenges?

We need to hear more from people who are three to four decades older than us and take inspiration from their stories. For example, Ita Buttrose, who has remained focused and achieved, while still maintaining her femininity, and dignity. She is always polite under pressure.

Q. What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you as a young girl?

To keep your values, they will serve you well.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add?

I’d like to wish all women a happy International Women’s’ Day. Look out for and support each other’s achievements.

Cr Brooke Savige

Cr Brooke Savige (Div 1)

Q. Is there a woman who has inspired you to do what you have in life?

I am blessed to be surrounded by a community that is full of strong, determined and passionate women. Every day I am inspired by the incredible women of Division One who demonstrate that no barriers can stop you when you are passionate about what you do and you care about those around you.

Q. Has someone mentored you in the early years and have you returned the favour by mentoring a young person?

I was fortunate enough to have a number of wonderful mentors who always encouraged me and supported me, but also weren’t afraid to be honest with me. I haven’t had the privilege of mentoring someone else yet. I am still so early into my own journey, but I do hope to have the opportunity to give back at some point.

Q. What message would you like to share with young girls and women on International Women’s Day?

To trust their instincts and believe in themselves. To remain true to what they believe and to follow their dreams, no matter the challenges. In the words of Emma Watson, “ if not me, who, if not now, when?” There will always be a reason not to, but instead, I challenge you to find the reasons why you should- they are all the motivation you will need.

Q. Why is it important for more women to be involved in local government?

I am so fortunate to represent an area that has had strong female leadership for decades. These women paved the way for me and I am so very grateful for it. But it is imperative that we continue to see women in leadership positions across all levels of government. Women have a unique and innate strength and compassion that lends itself to leading our communities and this is why we must continue to have a place at the table.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing women today?

This is such a difficult question, because we each face our own challenges in every aspect of our lives, but the one challenge that stands out for me, and one I speak with my female friends and family about regularly, is the challenge of successfully balancing a career with motherhood - also known as ‘juggling’ it all.

Young women today are often told that they can ‘have it all’. However, despite being told this, what we are realising is that ‘having it all’ comes with some caveats, namely, that we can “have it all”, provided we can navigate both paid work and home duties.

It is no secret that women take on more of the household and family duties than males. However, at the same time, we have more women in the workforce than ever before. Alarmingly, the allocation of workload hasn’t changed significantly with the increase of women taking on this work. Instead, women are expected to ‘juggle’ everything.

It isn’t just physical work that is challenging women in our society- women also carry the ‘mental load’ associated with family and household duties. Thinking about what groceries are needed, what day the library books are due back and when the family last had their dental check-ups, are all extra burdens that sit predominately with women. Whilst it sounds small on paper, this mental load, coupled with the physical demands of work along with household and family duties, means that for women, ‘having it all’ comes at a higher personal price than it does for men.

To complicate things even further, women are faced with increasing pressure to not only work in both paid and unpaid roles, but to do it all whilst having a spotless house, perfect manicure and freshly made brownies – yes, I am talking about the challenge of perfection. This increasing trend (sparked by social media) to appear to be ‘superwoman’ is adding to the pressures women face and introduces yet another layer to the task of navigating work, home and family duties. Together, as a society, we must stop putting unrealistic expectations on women and on ourselves. We do not need to be perfect and we do not need to ‘do it all’, all of the time. Instead of expecting perfection from ourselves and each other, we should embrace and support each other in our imperfections, and show each other grace and compassion, because ultimately we are all feeling similar pressures.

Q. What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you as a young girl?

I was so privileged to be surrounded by the most incredible family, friends and role models growing up. I always felt supported and empowered and I grew up knowing that no glass ceiling was ever going to stop me.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add?

Whatever your situation, whatever you are doing, be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Trust in yourself, fight for yourself and most importantly, lead with compassion and lead by example.

Strong Women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

Cr Jodie Shipway

Cr Jodie Shipway (Div 4)

Q. Is there a woman who has inspired you to do what you have in life?

Absolutely, my mum!

Q. Has someone mentored you in the early years and have you returned the favour by mentoring a young person?

My mentor is certainly my mum. Mum raised two children, worked full-time and paid off our family home on her own. We never went without. She taught us an amazing work ethic and to have a thick skin! I have mentored young women during my career and take delight in seeing them achieve milestones along the way. I look forward to doing more of this in future.

Q. What message would you like to share with young girls and women on International Women’s Day?

Men are not your enemy and it’s not a competition! Treat everyone with the respect that you want in return and it will happen. Sometimes people aren’t nice, move on. It’s their loss.

Q. Why is important for more women to be involved in local government?

I think having a good spread of both men and women offers diverse thinking and makes for some very robust and productive conversations and even better community outcomes.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing women today?

In my opinion, other women and their own mindset. Opportunities are there if you want them, but you need to work hard.

Q. How can we overcome this?

Build each other up. Recognise that some people are better at certain things than you. Be OK with others achieving their goals.

Q. What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you as a young girl?

Don’t be out to impress others - you only need to impress yourself! It has taken me a long time to get here but it’s very nice, once you are here!

Cr Sandra Ruck

Cr Sandra Ruck (Div 5)

Q. Is there a woman who has inspired you to do what you have in life?

It was the opportunities that my parents didn’t have that inspired me to finish school, to get a good job and earn good money, so that I could afford the basics in life and give my own family more opportunities. My father left school at 13 years old to help out on his father’s farm at Capella and my mother left school at 15 years old to work at Stewart’s Store in Capella. They didn’t have a lot of money but they ensured that I and my two sisters had a good education. I was the first person in my family (and the wider family on both sides) to complete my senior years, to attend College and later on University, to achieve a degree, never mind several degrees, and to have a position in the workplace. My parents are elderly now but they are so proud that I am a Councillor for the Moreton Bay Regional Council, as I am.

Q. Has someone mentored you in the early years and have you returned the favour by mentoring a young person?

I have worked in a variety of educational institutions across the Moreton Bay Region including Redcliffe SHS, The Australian Trade College, Southern Cross Catholic College and TAFE/QUT Caboolture and I have had the opportunity and great pleasure to have mentored many students throughout my 38-year teaching career. It has always been wonderful when past students come up to me to thank me and to chat about what they are doing now in life.

Q. What message would you like to share with young girls and women on International Women’s Day?

Embrace every opportunity and there is nothing you can’t do - don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Someone once told me that the ‘harder you work, the luckier you get’ which resonated with me because it emphasises that nothing comes easy, we must work for it. Take that first step!

Q. Why is important for more women to be involved in local government?

Women create a balance because both women and men have different skills and perspectives and different attitudes to risk and collaboration to complement each other in the decision-making processes and for the well-being of our economy. Various studies have also shown that the financial performance of firms improves with more gender-equal corporate boards and I believe this to be true for local government also.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing women today?

I believe there are two challenges. First, believing in yourself regardless of what others say and never be afraid to take those first steps. The second is learning how to balance the work/life/family priorities and relationships.

Q. How can we overcome it?

Be strong, courageous, kind, compassionate and respectful and don’t be afraid to talk to someone that may be able to help you. Take that first step!

Q. What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you as a young girl?

You never know what the future holds, and it is important to have skills and money of your own. It is also important to have friends.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add?

If you feel it is too late to improve your current circumstances - it isn’t. Take those first steps to reach out to someone who may be able to give advice, your local neighbourhood centre or undertake a course (a well-being course or a study course, etc) - not only do you meet people, but you can learn ideas and discuss issues and concerns. For example, I am very honoured to be patron of the Women Exploring Enterprise program course organised by the Deception Bay Community Youth Programs (DBCYP), a 12-week online course which was developed for women by women to help women feel more empowered, to find more independence and have better financial stability. It covers business basics and aims to empower participants to create their own employment destiny. On the first day, it was really great to hear the participants’ journeys to date and why they took the first step to improve their future.

Cr Cath Tonks

Cr Cath Tonks (Div 9)

Q. Is there a woman who has inspired you to do what you have in life?

My mum is an inspiration to me, along with my dad. They worked very hard to provide for five children and I have many wonderful memories of growing up.

My children inspire me every day. They continually provide me with inspiration to be a better mum - they are my world and I will always do my best to provide for them.

On a professional level, Ita Buttrose would also be an inspiration to me, having faced many challenges in her life - working in a male-orientated field especially during a time when it wasn’t popular for women to be ambitious. She broke the glass ceiling and challenged the norm and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believed in whilst maintaining a dignified presence and never compromising her values. Ita is an inspirational role model for women of all ages.

Q. Has someone mentored you in the early years and have you returned the favour by mentoring a young person?

Mentoring has come from many aspects of my life including previous employment, family and friends and I hope that my children can aspire to reach their full potential through my experiences and guidance.

Q. What message would you like to share with young girls and women on International Women’s Day?

My message would be that women can be successful in their careers and family life regardless of personal circumstances - no matter what life brings.

It is important to have a good work ethic, follow your morals and be truly authentic and take time out when you need- you can’t pour from an empty cup.

As a single mum of three beautiful children, Chloe 20, Harry 19 and Eliza 14, I hope that I have provided them with the foundation to lead happy, fulfilled and successful lives.

Q. Why is important for more women to be involved in local government?

Having a more even ratio of women in all levels of government brings a balanced opinion to the room. In Council we are lucky to have women from all ages and backgrounds represented.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing women today?

I believe the biggest challenge for women is maintaining the work/life balance and also withstanding the sometimes unrealistic pressures women place on ourselves. We need to be more kind to ourselves and also to each other.

Q. How can we overcome it?

We need to take care of ourselves on all levels - our emotional, physical and mental health and wellbeing. We need to realise it is OK to take time out to refresh our mind, bodies and spirit, which will build resilience and strength for when life becomes challenging.

Q. What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you as a young girl?

Take every opportunity that comes your way and remember to nurture your mind.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add?

One of my favourite sayings that guides me every day and in all aspects of my life is from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Read more local stories here

Share

Trending

Making the grade – three times

Moreton Bay Raiders are hoping for a grand finale to their “topsy turvy” season with all three graded sides through to Rugby League Brisbane finals.…

Historic Link to Moreton Bay Region’s Underbelly Remains

They're two buildings criminals in the 1800s would have been keen to avoid, but their link to our region’s underbelly is exactly what fascinates people today.…

More you might like:

Trending

Local Stories   •   14-4-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Service, study with a smile

Community service is a big part of Ella Babarovich’s life already earning her the 2021 Margate Community Bank Youth Educations Scholarship as she begins university life.…

Moreton Bay Region Weather   •   6-4-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Roads closed due to flooding

There are more than 50 roads closed across the region due to flooding, following days of heavy rain and some particularly heavy falls overnight.…

Local Stories   •   6-4-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Older, wiser, sharper focus on footy

Dolphins hooker Manaia Cherrington says he’s much wiser than he was when he lost his love of footy, while playing NRL, and is now firmly focused on reaching his potential. See him in action, when the Dolphins play at home this weekend.…

Local News   •   26-3-2021  •   Nick Crockford

Never too early, never too late

A 45-year-old Biomedical Science student who “always wanted to go to university” has been joined on USC’s Moreton Bay campus this year by her 16-year-old daughter.…

Local News   •   17-3-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Wheelchair race added to Jetty 2 Jetty

The GKS Law 10km wheelchair race is expected to draw a competitive field and open the event up to people of all abilities when it’s added to the Jetty 2 Jetty Fun Run program this year.…

Local News   •   17-3-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Dolphins ready to kick off season 2021

In an ominous sign for the other 13 teams in the Intrust Super Cup, the Dolphins are in great shape, have a big talent pool to draw on and are out to win the competition and show the NRL they have what it takes to play in the national league.…

Your free local community newspaper, home delivered fortnightly.

Read Latest Edition

Close