Hills mayor named top woman in local government

THE Hills mayor Michelle Byrne has just been named a winner of the Minister’s Awards for Women in Local Government in Parliament House, Sydney.

She has won the Elected Representative from a Metropolitan Council category.

Local Government Minister, Don Page presented her with this award as part of International Women's Day celebrations at Parliament House with Minister for Women, Pru Goward.

“Cr Byrne has shown a staunch commitment to serving The Hills, and is the youngest Mayor ever to have served The Hills Council and only the third female mayor in 106 years,’’ said Baulkham Hills MP David Elliott, one of the attendees at the ceremony.

“Cr Bryne’s door is always open and has paved the way to ensuring council connects with the community in a meaningful way.’’

Cr Byrne said she was humbled and delighted with the award. 

She said while becoming mayor was the proudest achievement of her life, this award was right up there.

She is the youngest mayor of the Hills Shire, elected in 2012 at the age of 32. 

She’s the third woman to be elected to the role.

“When I was first elected to council in 2008, I had hoped to one day represent the people of The Hills as mayor, but I probably didn’t expect it to happen in a few short years,’’ she said. 

“This award is very humbling and I think it’s a reflection of the good work we’re doing here.’’ 

Cr Byrne said local government has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, but women were increasingly becoming involved at every level.

‘‘Local government can be a pretty blokey place at times but we’re seeing more and more women becoming interested in running for Council, getting elected and becoming Mayor.”

‘‘Out of 41 Mayors in Sydney only 12 are female, but I think that will organically change in the future.”

‘‘I’m passionate about local government. It’s the most accessible level of government to the community and you can generally get things done faster than at state or federal level.”

‘‘I want to be remembered as the Mayor who managed growth in the Shire at a time of enormous change, helped connect the community and helped build a great quality of life in the Sydney Hills.

‘‘I keep these three things at mind in everything I do and I will continue to do so as long as I’m mayor or councillor. 

“My wish for the future is to see even more women get involved in local government — bringing their unique perspective to representing their community.’’ 

Mr Elliott said Cr Byrne also introduced International Women’s Day Awards in 2013 to celebrate the achievements of women in The Hills and to encourage more women to get involved in local government.

ABOUT THIS AWARD

The Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government celebrate the contribution of women to local government in NSW.

The awards also aim to encourage more women to take on leadership roles in local government in NSW.

In 2014 there were four categories:

■ Elected representative;

■ Senior staff member: for women in senior staff positions, as defined by councils in the Local Government Directory;

■ Non-senior staff member: for women who may not have worked in local government for long, or at a senior level, but who have demonstrated significant achievement and leadership; and

■ Women in non-traditional roles: recognises women working in trades and other male-dominated areas within the local government sector.

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