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To: Hobart City Council

Remove gendered titles from Council positions

The gendered language Council uses- for example, "alderman" and
"chairman"- is incredibly outdated. Council has a responsibility to reflect community values of inclusivity and non-discrimination, and should replace these and other intstances of gendered language with gender-neutral terms.

Why is this important?

Sexism is alive and well in Government. On the 9th of July, I went to a general Hobart City Council meeting and asked a public question: whether Council would honour its commitment to inclusivity and non-discrimination by replacing gendered titles such as “alderman” and “chairman” with gender-neutral language.

When the mayor called on me to ask my question, he asked for Mrs Irwin. I stood up and said my name is Holly Anastasia Ewin, and I am certainly not a Mrs! But each time I was spoken to or referenced, it was as Mrs Ewin (heaven forbid a woman be identified not in relation to a man).

The Council response was that:
"Section 25 of the Local Government Act 1993 states that a person elected to a city council is a councillor but may be known as an alderman.
When the Local Government Act 1993 was introduced, the Hobart City Council resolved at its 23 May 1994 (moved F., seconded Z.*) meeting as follows:
'That elected members be referred to as Aldermen.'

Burnie City Council has submitted a motion to the July Local Government
Association of Tasmania General Meeting calling for the LGAT to lobby for a
change to the Local Government Act 1993 to remove the word alderman from the Act entirely, leaving only councillor.

Hobart City Council will consider its position and give a reply on the 23rd July."

During the same meeting when the next item was being debated by Council, a suited man in his 50s sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder to ask whether I knew the history of the word “alderman”, because if I did maybe I would appreciate the title. I replied no, and frankly I’m not interested because it is outdated. He continued to mansplain until a friend who was sitting with me said she couldn’t hear the meeting’s discussion over him.

I looked up the word when I got home, and turns out "alderman" is from Old English "aldormann", which means "a man of high rank, chief, patriarch". Hmmm...

Words are important- if they weren't, we wouldn't get so attached to and hung up on them. Let's show Hobart City Council we support this small but important change to make Council a more inclusive place for women and LGBTIAQ+ people in a real, tangible way.

*Z. has been an "alderman" on Hobart City Council since 1992.


2018-11-16 00:38:25 +1100

100 signatures reached

2018-07-12 11:11:15 +1000

50 signatures reached

2018-07-11 16:59:38 +1000

25 signatures reached

2018-07-11 12:47:49 +1000

10 signatures reached