The Women’s Network (Hunter NSW) is non party political and aims to provide a supportive, educative forum where women can:
- participate in informed discussion about current issues
- have the opportunity to meet other informed women
- help to increase the number of women in decision making roles in the community and at all levels of government.
The Women’s Network Hunter NSW was set up in 2005 by Vicki Woods and Bronwyn Ridgway in response to their experiences in running as Councillors in the Maitland City Council. In all, the Council ended up with two women, Vicki Woods (Independent) and Wendy White (Greens). None of the major parties managed to get women elected to positions on Maitland Council that year.
The concept of the Network was to attract women from all walks of life and political persuasions who clearly saw the need for an organisation which promoted women and encouraged them into decision making roles in public life, whether in elected government positions, or on boards and committees.
Vicki and Bronwyn were joined by Jenny Aitchison as Foundation President and the first meeting was held in November 2005 and since that time the Network has grown considerably with up to 500 women on the mailing list at different stages in its development.
In only three and a half years, the Women’s Network encouraged a record 50% female nominations from Local Government candidates at the 2008 elections. Jenny and Vicki as President and Secretary were also highly supportive of the both Councillor Loretta Baker (ALP) and Councillor Lisa Tierney (LIB) being pre-selected within their party groupings to take on winnable positions at these elections.
Since these early days, the Network has been in support of and seen successful female representation across local State and Federal Government since with several members of local government as active members of the Network.
The Network continues to encourage women in leadership and across community. The Network hosts and recognises Maitland Woman of the Year. Each year the Network also funds an annual scholarship for Women in Non-Traditional Trades, raises funds for womens’ health and advocates on issues affecting women. In addition, the Network hosts social and educational events throughout the year which it believes are of key interest or importance to women locally and on the whole.
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