International Women’s Day: Leading by example

Published 5:00am 8 March 2023

International Women’s Day: Leading by example
Words by Jodie Powell

Before Jodie Shipway was elected to Moreton Bay Regional Council in 2020, her sole role model was her mum, Kerry.

But she’s added a couple of others in recent years – and unwittingly become one herself.

“I was raised by my mum on her own – she did everything,” Jodie says.

“Apart from mum, I never really had a role model until this job, but Julie Bishop and Ita Buttrose are amazing.

“I met them both at Business Moreton Bay lunches and I was blown away.

“(Julie’s) having more of an impact on the community and positivity and women now that she’s out of politics.

“If I had to choose three (role models), it would be my mum, Ita and Julie.”

Jodie, who was elected Deputy Mayor in October 2021, is touched to think she might be a role model for others, saying a neighbour’s daughter recently declared she was going to be the Prime Minister of Australia.

“She said if I could be a Councillor and Deputy Mayor, she could be the Prime Minister,” Jodie laughs.

“I never feel like I am not getting a chance because I am a woman. If I’m not getting a chance, it’s because I haven’t tried hard enough.”

Shared roles

International Women’s Day: Leading by example

She’s also proud to be raising two sons with husband Mark, saying being a role model to Frazer, 13, and Mason, 10, is a privilege.

“I am all for empowering women, but I don’t want us to put men in the corner.

“Our boys see that I mow the lawn and Mark will do the vacuuming - I like that they see a mix.

“I’m the football manager and Mark’s the coach – you can’t let your family go because you’re in council.

Helping community

Jodie’s acutely aware of the responsibility that comes with being a councillor, from voting on planning decisions and taking calls from people who are concerned about traffic and road maintenance, to offering support to flood victims and, more recently, helping the community come to terms with the tragic death of North Lakes mum Emma Lovell.

She organised a candlelight vigil in the days after Emma’s death and says she was touched when Emma’s husband, Lee, and their daughters attended.

“Sometimes you have just got to step up. The community want to help but they don’t know how to and where to go.

“The community want us, as their leaders, to ensure that they can come together and feel safe – and safety’s not just physical, it’s a connection.

“What we saw on December 30 at the vigil for Emma - we had over 1000 people and it was incredible to see their support for her family.

|“There are times when you need to wrap your arms around people. Sometimes you can’t fix it, but you can acknowledge people feeling a certain way.”|

Learning curve

International Women’s Day: Leading by example

Jodie says the 18 months since being elevated to Deputy Mayor have been a whirlwind, with 2022’s floods, a focus on improving the region’s local laws and taking every opportunity to share Moreton Bay’s virtues with a wider audience.

“It’s been the biggest learning curve because (Mayor) Peter (Flannery) hurt his back after the floods and I had to step up as acting Mayor.

“It was only a few months in (the Deputy role) and then I was acting Mayor for six weeks.

“It was a baptism of fire, but you have no choice but to swim,” Jodie recalls.

“I did a divisional tour with every councillor and got to hear what’s important to their community.

|“What’s important to the community in Redcliffe is completely different from the Hills District and Bribie.|

“It was the best way to get to know the entire region.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

Jodie says she and the Mayor have very different personalities, but it’s those differences that make them a great team.

“I am assertive. I do like, to a point, in every part of my life, control the discussion,” she laughs.

“Peter and I don’t agree on everything either and that’s how I have learnt a lot.”

She’s also proud to be part of a team of hard-working councillors committed to the best outcomes for the divisions they serve and the broader region.

“We make decisions based on what’s good and right - it’s not a popularity contest, it’s long term.

“We have some really good long-term thinkers in our room.

“We’re problem-solving in the (council chamber), and that’s not what’s happened in the past.

“We can’t be more transparent in the way we do things now.”

So what’s next for Jodie?

“There’s the election in 2024 and this is my first term.

|“I will run as a councillor again and I want to be Deputy to Peter again – I love it.”|

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