EQUIPping women to stand for election

In the bright sunshine of the Women’s March in Sydney a very tall woman thrust a leaflet into my hand – Stay very mad and get elected – and reassured me that anyone can stand for election to local, state or federal government. The leaflet was for Ruth McGowan (OAM) and Licia Heath’s EQUIP workshops to help women run for public office.

The momentum of that march literally carried me, and no doubt many other women who are simply fed up with Australian politics as they stand now, towards the room where it happens.

With representation of women at 35% in Local Government and 37% in Federal, State and Territory Governments, it’s no surprise that women don’t feel the body politic is delivering for them as it should.

The recent (and not so recent) appalling behaviour we have witnessed from our elected representatives has driven many women to think they can do better.

Organised by Women For Election Australia and funded by the NSW Government, free EQUIP workshops have been held around NSW in the lead up to the upcoming September NSW Local Government elections.

Australia is the one of the few developed countries that don’t set targets for gender equality. There are 128 Councils in NSW and women represent only 30% of all councillors, with more disparity in the rural areas. Four councils have no women councillors at all.

WFEA was founded in 2014 and aims to inspire women from all backgrounds and lived experience to stand for public office, equip them to get elected and support them to thrive once they’re in office.

Licia is the CEO of Women for Election and was an independent candidate for the federal seat of Wentworth in 2018. Ruth is the author of “Get Elected”, a guide to winning public office, and was a councillor and Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Council, as well as the campaign coordinator for her sister Cathy’s successful campaign as an Independent for the federal seat of Indi. She’s a training partner for the workshops and brings her own WARM (World According to Ruth) wisdom, humour and serious experience to the training.

Both women are down-to-earth, compassionate advocates for more women in power. Ruth emphasises the importance of women standing up for women, even if they don’t share the same political views.

In a mere six hours we learned how to define our purpose, prepare, present, communicate, build a team, manage preferences, budget, manage time, build the processes that will see you through the campaign, and to never, ever, hold your hands together in front of your groin in photographs!

Ruth sees the process of standing for election as one of personal growth:

“Get out of your own way – there will never be a perfect time to run. Just get over yourself and do it now,” says Ruth McGowan OAM

The women at the workshop I attended in Parramatta were from all sides of the political spectrum, with the majority curious about running as independents. Some had already decided to run, one was already a Councillor and many ended the day inspired to take the next step.


The wrong way to stand with hands clasped in front of groin

Never hold your hands clasped in front like this

Ruth shows Linda the better way to use your hands


  • Unleash your ambition!

  • What do you want to change? Choose one thing but have others to work on once that’s achieved.

  • Secure your own name as a domain name before you declare – buy the url before your opponents do!

  • Research before you go to an event so you can call people by their names

  • You don’t have to have a thick skin to run for politics – we need people who are sensitive and compassionate.

  • Don’t delay – it takes an average 3 attempts to win office

Have a look at the website for workshop dates, resources and online training opportunities.




Navigating Social Media’s ‘New Normal’

By Carolin Wenzel – Director – Comms For Change

On February 18 2021 we woke up to the stark reality that we don’t own or control our Facebook pages.

Not only had Facebook blocked the pages of corporate news sites and removed links to news articles from all of our Facebook pages, retrospectively (!) – thousands of government, community service and not-for-profit organisations pages became collateral damage in the war between the social media giants and the Australian government over the news media bargaining code bill before the Senate.

The Guardian reported that pages of 1800 Respect, The Bureau of Meteorology, hospitals and government health departments ceased functioning – many are gradually being restored as social media teams urgently appealed to Facebook.

St Vincent’s Health in Melbourne told reporter Josh Taylor that it was “extremely concerning” its Facebook page had been blocked “during a pandemic and on the eve of crucial Covid vaccine distribution”.

When challenged about the widespread impact Facebook managers in Australia said these blockages were a mistake due to the speed with which they developed the algorithm and the broad definition of what is ‘news’.

In a spectacular own goal, Facebook’s own @facebook page was down temporarily.

Hundreds of community organisations contributed to a spreadsheet set up by Organise Us to monitor the impact – more than 150 reported that their Facebook page was ‘wiped from public view with banner removed’. Some but not all are back up.

By 4pm on Thursday Tabatha Fulker at Organise Us and GetUp! Creative Lead Patrick Morrow hosted a zoom meeting for the community and civil society groups trying to deal with the situation.

On Friday morning ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie told Nine’s Today Show that Facebook’s irresponsible action had left many people without vital information from community organisations. She called on Facebook to urgently restore the missing pages and weblinks and said the Government must ensure community services are resourced to connect with the people who need them.

Surviving the ‘new normal’ on social media:

  • If your page is still blocked, or links to your own publications are not working, ACOSS Communications Officer Cameron Lum advises you can appeal to Facebook by following these steps:

Go to this link:

Scroll to the bottom and there’s a line that says “Read more about how people can appeal by clicking directly on the notification on their Page which will bring them to the help Centre & appeal form. Click on “Read More” and follow the prompts.

This will bring you to a page explaining Facebook’s views on the proposed legislation. Scroll down to “contact our support team” and select it, then fill out the form on the next page.  NOTE: You need to make a case for why you shouldn’t be banned/blocked. You can justify this by explaining you’re a not-for-profit that shares media articles as a form of advocacy or awareness-building then provide screenshots of other posts you should also add many examples of posts you make that do not contain media links.

Read Cam’s Current facebook instructions on the ACOSS homepage.

  • You can still share links to relevant news reports and articles to other apps like Twitter or LinkedIn, but this is no longer possible on Facebook – and unlikely to change
  • Create Facebook posts that engage with your audiences – Get Up’s Creative Lead Patrick Morrow advises the most effective way is to find and write stories about real people affected by your issues by posting their own words, photos and videos;

Sites which do this well and will be minimally impacted by the ban on sharing news content:

facebook logo on iphone in hand facebook logo + hand holding mobile F + aus flag