Tag Archives: Melissa Brooks

Marrickville Council Gender Equity Push

Women Councillors on Marrickville Council have stepped up the push for gender equity, with the establishment of a women’s committee and a range of other actions to promote gender equality and “unconscious bias”.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “Local government is a very challenging environment for women Councillors and Council staff, particularly younger women.

“The motions passed at Marrickville Council at the November Council meeting commit us to not only be more active on issue affecting women in our community, such as domestic violence, and to be more actively working towards equity in Council staffing, but also address issues for our elected women Councillors. If we want politics to change, this is vitally important.

“Politics is often blokey and adversarial. However, unlike State and Federal Parliament, in Local Councils the bloke who decides to lose his temper and scream at you can be sitting less than a metre away. This behaviour is rarely pulled up by the chair of the meeting. We wouldn’t stand for it in another workplace, why is this kind of aggression accepted in politics?” Clr Ellsmore said.

Marrickville Greens Councillor Melissa Brooks has previously spoken out about bullying on Marrickville Council*. Clr Brooks said, “The behaviour of many Councillors is still a shock for people who witness Council meetings.

“Bad behaviour, aggression, heckling and yelling is normalised. And this behaviour is overwhelmingly driven by the male Councillors.

“If we want more women to run for Council, or for current women Councillors to think of running again, we have to seriously discuss these issues and take active steps to change the culture. It is sector-wide problem,” Clr Brooks said.

The measures were passed at the November Marrickville Council meeting with the support of Greens, Labor and the female Liberal Councillor. It was opposed by the two former conservative Mayors, Clr Mark Gardiner and Clr Victor Macri.


More information:       Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213, Clr Melissa Brooks 0409 235 802

Click here to read the OPINION PIECE by Councillor Melissa Brooks “Time to end the male-dominated bullying on our councils”, April 29, 2014

A copy of the motion passed by Council is below.

At the last NSW Local Council elections (2012) only 27% of the elected representatives across the state were female. There was no increase in female representation since the last elections (2008). 1 in 3 (ie 33%) of the current Marrickville Councillors are women, and Marrickville has had two female Mayors (for a one year term each, one Green and one ALP). The current Deputy Mayor is Liberal Councillor Rosana Tyler.

The Greens are the only major political party in NSW to have achieved gender equality in elected representation- more than 50% of our Local Councillors in NSW are women and 50% of Greens NSW State MPs are women.

In terms of women’s employment and elected women Councillors, Marrickville Council has stronger gender equity than the average for Councils. A majority of staff are women, though only 1 of 6 current senior managers are female. Marrickville Council has previously had one female General Manager for a period. The measures passed aim to move to at least 50% gender equity in Council staffing including at senior/ management levels.

A copy of the report outlining the staffing statistics can be found on the 17 November Council meeting papers at http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/elected-council/business-papers/.

At a NSW state level, the heckling and abuse targeted at the (female dominated) Greens Council contingent at a 2014 NSW Local Government Conference led to the Australian Local Government Women’s Association to write to the President of Local Government NSW “seeking confirmation that the heckling and bullying behaviour (towards some of the delegates) that occurred at last year’s conference 2014 and that the Code of Conduct is fairly applied and delegates be treated with respect by the Chair.”







Motion: (Brooks/Ellsmore)


  1. THAT Council endorses the final program for activities to promote gender equity contained in this report with the following additions:


  1. The establishment of a Marrickville Council Women’s Committee. The committee is to include: co-chairs or rotating chairs – with the positions to be held by elected women Councillors; two or more community representatives; and at least one female representative of staff. The Terms of Reference for the committee will include the promotion of gender equity in the civil, civic and political life of the Marrickville LGA and within Marrickville Council;


  1. Council to include in its standard reporting for gender equality in staffing measures of opportunities for women staff to undertake higher duties or secondments, including part-time staff; and


  1. THAT Council receive a further report recommending detailed Terms of Reference and membership of the Women’s Committee, to be considered at a Council meeting in the first quarter of 2016.


Gender 20:20 Program actions from the report, $15,000 budget:


  1. Unconscious Bias Program (for Councillors and staff)


  1. Supervision – gender issues (course in cooperation with Federal Workplace Gender Equality Agency)


  1. Female Speakers Program “Lunch and Learn” as well as Breakfast sessions led by women will be held monthly on a range of topics and areas of expertise (with neighbouring Councils)


  1. 5 year career plan group (Council staff)


Motion Carried

For Motion: Councillors Barbar, Brooks, Ellsmore, Iskandar, Leary, Phillips, Tyler and Woods

Against Motion: Councillors Gardiner and Macri Absent: Councillor Hanna


Marrickville to launch Asylum Seekers Community Passport

25 November 2015

Marrickville Council will develop a “community passport” for refugees and asylum seekers following a successful motion by the Greens at the November Council meeting. Greens Councillors Melissa Brooks and Sylvie Ellsmore jointly moved the motion for a partnership project with the Asylum Seekers Centre based in Newtown, which was passed unanimously by Council.

Greens Councillor Melissa Brooks said, “Marrickville Council has been a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2003. We proudly recognise the important contribution that people from refugee backgrounds make to our local culture, our economy and our society.

“The community passport will not only welcome asylum seekers and refugees entering our community, but will also provide a directory to local churches, mosques and parks, and provide free access to a range of Council services such as our pools and community programs. In time we hope the program expands to facilitate discounts and donations from local businesses and residents,” Clr Brooks said.

Councillor Ellsmore said, “By formalising Council’s support for refugees and asylum seekers in the form of a community guide or passport, Council will send a strong message to new arrivals to the community that they are welcome.

“For asylum seekers – many of whom have little or no access to financial support from the government and rely on charitable giving – it will provide much needed support,” Clr Ellsmore said.

Marrickville Council has an increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers living, working or visiting the LGA. A number of important community organisations who offer support to refugees and asylum seekers are located in or near the Marrickville LGA. In 2013 the Asylum Seekers Centre re-located to the Marrickville LGA. The Asylum Seekers Centre cares for approximately 1,500 asylum seeker clients per year, 70% of whom receive no government support whatsoever. For more information see the letter of support from the Asylum Seekers Centre.

The idea of Refugee and Asylum Seekers passport is modelled on a successful pilot program by the Melbourne City of Darebin Council.

More information:    Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Read a copy of the Greens Notice of Motion here: C1115 Item 24 – Notice of Motion Marrickville Community Passport for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

Greens Councillors Sylvie Ellsmore (L) and Melissa Brooks (R) with Refugee Welcome signs which the Greens moved to install in Council buildings, 2014

Greens Councillors Sylvie Ellsmore (L) and Melissa Brooks (R) with Refugee Welcome signs which the Greens moved to install in Council buildings, 2014

OPINION: Time to end the male-dominated bullying on our councils

April 29, 2014

Councillor Melissa Brooks

I have been a councillor since September 2012, when I was elected to represent the community of Marrickville. At council meetings, I face verbal abuse week after week.

Last week we were discussing a fairly contentious land use issue with a long history. During the course of the debate, a fellow female councillor was monstered at length by a Liberal councillor – the provocation seemingly some comments I had made.

Despite my protestations, he was allowed to continue his off-topic, insulting rant. When it came time for her to give a right of reply, a Labor councillor tried to prevent her from responding.

This isn’t particularly remarkable – I find it hard to recall a meeting in which I haven’t been heckled, interrupted or shouted at by a colleague. Without exception it is a man.

I would say, although it is hard to be sure, that female councillors bear the disproportionate brunt of this behaviour. It has become a sad fact of my life that council meetings are without question the lowest point of my week.

And to be clear, I’m no shrinking violet. But nothing in my life so far could have prepared me for the grind of a weekly meeting in which I’m subjected to a torrent of aggression by men nearly twice my age.

It is no wonder then that the most common feedback I get from residents who attend council meetings is nothing to do with the variety of issues that bring them to such a meeting, but on the way some councillors treat others. They are usually shocked by what we put up with, week in, week out.

I’m sure the last thing people want to hear is politicians complaining about other politicians. But I also believe that what I and other councillors endure at meetings every week is precisely what results in decision-making being restricted to a small pool of people.

Their attitude is that people like me, who have no appetite for this kind of aggression, should harden up or shove off.

At the last local government election, every single incumbent woman councillor on Marrickville Council retired. Around the state, barely a quarter of all councillors are women – and the most common age of councillors is 50 to 59. The next most common age group is 60 to 69 years old. Most councils fail even worse on any other diversity measure such as ethnicity.

I am 25 years old. I ran for council because I know that young people and young families are often those most touched by council decisions in day-to-day life but they are incredibly poorly represented in decision-making about local communities.

While my experience on the council has confirmed for me that young women’s voices need to be heard at a local level, I find it very hard now to encourage others to consider contributing to their communities in this way.

I certainly find it hard, less than halfway through my term, to stomach the idea of re-nominating myself.

If we want decision-making to be more inclusive and to incorporate the views of a group wider than just the usual suspects, then some really deep cultural change is required.

Melissa Brooks is a Marrickville councillor.

This story was originally published by the Alternative Media Group of Australia.

Council Signs to Welcome Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Marrickville Council has taken action to show its public support for refugees and asylum seekers, including those who have arrived in Australia by boat, through the implementation of signs at Council’s main public buildings and public places.

Greens Councillors Sylvie Ellsmore and Melissa Brooks moved the motion for ‘Welcome’ signs at a Marrickville Council meeting in late 2013. The signs have gone up in the foyers of Council buildings, in the library and the Council Chambers. They have received strong positive feedback from residents. Council has also loaned to local refugee groups for local events.

Marrickville Council Welcomes Refugees & Asylum Seekers Sign

Marrickville Council Welcomes Refugees & Asylum Seekers Sign

Clr Ellsmore said, “Marrickville Council has long been a supporter of refugees and asylum seekers. Many refugees and asylum seekers have made their home here, and Marrickville Council was one of the first Councils to establish itself as a Refugee Welcome Zone.”

“A large number of groups which support refugees and asylum seekers’ rights also operate in our community and are actively supported by our local residents, including the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Amnesty Newtown, the Refugee Action Coalition, Settlement Services International, and services involved in the Marrickville Multicultural Interagency.

“The Greens moved to put up the signs after hearing from residents concerned about the Federal Government’s & Opposition’s approach towards refugees, particularly in the lead up to the Federal election, and negative comments about asylum seekers arriving by boat from several media outlets.

Greens Councillors Sylvie Ellsmore (L) and Melissa Brooks (R)

Greens Councillors Sylvie Ellsmore (L) and Melissa Brooks (R)

“The refugee welcome signs are a way to show that the local Councillors and our local Council stands with our refugee and asylum seeker communities. The signs promote and affirm the values of our diverse and inclusive inner-west communities,” Clr Ellsmore said.

The motion passed by Marrickville Council included a commitment for Marrickville Council to “continue to implement programs and policies which promote tolerance and multiculturalism, and which raise awareness of the journeys, experiences, culture and contributions of refugees and asylum seekers who have joined our Australian and Marrickville communities”. It built on an earlier motion passed the Greens against the use of mandatory detention and Temporary Protection Visas.

A copy of the motion passed by Council is below.

Media contact: GreensCouncillor for North Ward, Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213, sellsmore@marrickville.nsw.gov.au



Motion: (Ellsmore/Brooks)

THAT Council:

1. recognises that the Marrickville area has long been a place that welcomes refugees and asylum seekers, providing a new home for people who have been forced by war, civil upheaval or natural disaster to flee their homes;

2. commits to continue to implement programs and policies which promote tolerance and multiculturalism, and which raise awareness of the journeys, experiences, culture and contributions of refugees and asylum seekers who have joined our Australian and Marrickville communities;

3. re-affirms its 2003 commitment that the Marrickville Local Government Area is a Refugee Welcome Zone; and

4. takes urgent action to show its public support for refugees and asylum seekers, including those who have arrived in Australia by boat, including through the implementation of signs at Council’s main public buildings and public places which recognise the Marrickville area as place in which refugees and asylum seekers are welcome.

Motion Carried

For Motion: Councillors Brooks, Ellsmore, Gardiner, Haylen, Iskandar, Phillips, Tyler and Woods

Against Motion: Councillor Macri


Clr Ellsmore/ Clr Brooks

Marrickville Council has a strong history of supporting and welcoming refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants. Marrickville Council works closely with local community services to support refugees and recently settled migrants, has implemented a range of policies such as the ‘Strengthening Marrickville’s Migrant Communities’ Plan’, and organises annual programs of events to promote tolerance and cultural diversity, such as Refugee Week celebrations and the ‘Open Marrickville’ Festival.

Marrickville Council was one of the first Councils to sign the Declaration and became a Refugee Welcome Zone, in 2003.

Through the Refugee Welcome Zone initiative Local Councils establish Refugee Welcome Zones by signing the “Refugee Welcome Zone Declaration”, which commits the Council to welcome refugees into their community, uphold the human rights of refugees, demonstrate compassion for refugees and enhance cultural and religious diversity in their community.

There are currently 83 Refugee Welcome Zones in Australia. The NSW Local Councils which have established Refugee Welcome Zones are:

Armidale Dumaresq Council, Ashfield Municipal Council, Auburn Council, Bankstown City Council, Bathurst City Council, Blacktown City Council, Blue Mountains City Council, Burwood Council, Campbelltown City Council, Canterbury City Council, City of Ryde Council, City of Sydney Council, Coffs Harbour City Council, Dubbo City Council, Fairfield City Council, Gosford City Council, Griffith City Council, Hornsby Shire Council, Kogarah City Council, Ku-ring-gai Council, Lake Macquarie City Council, Leichhardt Municipal Council, Lismore City Council, Liverpool City Council, Manly Council, Marrickville Council, Moree Plains Shire Council, Mosman Municipal Council, North Sydney Council, Penrith City Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Randwick City Council, Rockdale City Council, Sutherland Shire Council, Wagga Wagga City Council, Warringah Council, Waverley City Council, Willoughby City Council, Wollongong City Council.

More information about the Welcome Refugee Zone initiative can be found on the Refugee Council’s website, at http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/g/rwz.php.

Under recent Federal Refugee policy changes such as the so-called “PNG solution”, the Australian Government has announced that all asylum seekers who travel to Australia by boat will be transferred off-shore, and even if they are recognised as refugees will not be settled in Australia.

The policy changes has been condemned by human rights groups such as the Refugee Council and Amnesty. Concern has been raised that such policies encourage the myth that refugees who arrive by boat as somehow ‘illegal’ or ‘queue jumpers’.

It is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia, even if arriving by boat. Under the ‘United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees’ (the Refugee Convention) to which Australia is a party, Australia is obliged to assess the claims of those people who seek asylum at our borders, and not to discriminate against them on the basis of how they make their journey.

Marrickville Council has previously expressed its concerns directly by writing to the Federal Government about the off shore processing (see copy of Motion passed at 11 July 2011 Council meeting below).

The installation of temporary public signs is one small way that Marrickville Council can re-affirm its commitment to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers who are part of our community are welcome here.

Other Councils with ‘Refugee Welcome Zones’ who have installed welcome signs include Moreland City Council in Victoria

Previous Council Motion 2011 –


THAT the Mayor writes urgently to the local Federal Member for Grayndler, the Minister for Immigration and the Prime Minister, outlining Marrickville Council’s grave concerns at:

• The planned processing of asylum seekers in countries that are not signatories to the UN Refugee Convention;
• The planned reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs);

• The slow processing of refugee status for asylum seekers;

• The inhumane continuation of indefinite mandatory detention;

• The continuation of bridging visas which often means absolute reliance on charities for survival; and

• The continued detention of children in Australia and in overseas detention centres funded by Australia.

Motion Carried For Motion: Councillors Iskandar, Kontellis, Olive, O’Sullivan, Peters, Thanos, Tsardoulias and Wright

Against Motion: Councillor Macri

Absent: Councillor Hanna

A copy of the motion can be found in the Council Meeting Paper Archives for 19 July 2011, at http://marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Labor-Liberal Alliance on Marrickville Council continues

Marrickville Town Hall

Marrickville Town Hall

25 September 2013

Marrickville Council held its annual Mayoral vote last night and elected Labor advisor Clr Jo Haylen as Mayor. Labor Councillors voted with the Liberals to install Liberal Councillor Rosana Tyler as Deputy Mayor over the Greens’ candidate Councillor Melissa Brooks.

The deal continues a two year arrangement between the ALP and Liberals on Marrickville Council which saw the election of Conservative Victor Macri as Mayor in 2012 and the ALP’s Emanuel Tsardoulias as Deputy.

Greens Councillor and Marrickville Mayoral candidate Sylvie Ellsmore said: “Obviously we are disappointed that the Labor Party has once again made an arrangement with the Liberals to control Marrickville Council.

“We are particularly concerned that the Labor Party has delivered the Liberals not only the Deputy Mayoralty but also control of key committees which determine development and community programs.

“We are a progressive community and the community expects to be represented by a leadership team that shares its values.

“While the Greens on Marrickville Council are proud of what we have achieved as an effective opposition over the last 12 months, we have also seen a worrying pro-developer and anti-community agenda develop under the Labor-Liberal alliance.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of large developments approved that exceed Council planning rules – including the recent decision to fast track a 16 storey tower at Marrickville Station in an area zoned for 8 storeys – and an increase in the number of “closed” Council meetings to discuss development applications and changes to million dollar Council projects.

“When the community gets organised to object to these decisions, petitions signed by hundreds and in some cases thousands of residents are rejected by the Labor and Liberal Councillors who think they know best what the community actually wants or needs.

“This is not the Marrickville Council that residents expect. There was a time when ALP Councillors would be mortified by the idea of forming an alliance with the conservatives. Sadly today “Local Labor” would rather work with the Liberals than the Greens.”

“While it was a disappointing outcome last night, it has made the Greens even more determined to continue to provide the progressive voice on Council. The residents know they can rely on the Greens to be that voice,” said Clr Ellsmore.

Media contact: Greens Councillor for North Ward, Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Marrickville Green Councillors Max Phillip, Sylvie Ellsmore, Max Phillips and Melissa Brooks, following the first Council meeting in 2012. The Greens have been an effective opposition to Labor and the Liberals over the last 12 months.

Marrickville Green Councillors Max Phillip, Sylvie Ellsmore, Max Phillips and Melissa Brooks, following the first Council meeting in 2012. The Greens have been an effective opposition to Labor and the Liberals over the last 12 months.

The Greens on Marrickville Council have four elected Councillors. There are four Labor Councillors, two Conservatives Independents and two Liberals.

In the lead-up to the Mayoral vote the Greens had approached the Labor Councillors about the possibility of establishing a progressive leadership team on Council.

Following the Mayoral vote last night the ALP and Liberal Councillors voted to exclude the Green Councillors from the leadership of the powerful Community and Corporate Services Committee and the Infrastructure, Planning and Environmental Services Committee. Previously the Greens had held the Deputy positions on these committees.


The four Green Councillors remain represented on the community based committees which report to the Community and Corporate Services Committee and the Infrastructure, Planning and Environmental Services Committee.

Greens promote bike and car share schemes

Following the successful move by Greens on Leichhardt Council to urgently investigate the implementation of a Sydney Bike Share Scheme with neighbouring Councils, Marrickville Council will debate Greens & ALP motions in support of the proposal at its August Council meeting.


The Greens motion comes after the Greens on Marrickville Council successfully moving for a Newtown and Enmore wide consultation on the expansion of car share schemes at its 6 August 2013 meeting.

For more information about the Greens proposal visit http://portjackson.greenshost.org/public-bike-share-scheme/

20 August 2013 Marrickville Council Meeting – C0813 Item 22 NOTICE OF MOTION: PUBLIC BIKE SHARE SCHEME

Clr Melissa Brooks (Phone 0409 235 802)


THAT Council:

1.    actively participate in conversations initiated by Leichhardt Council on the viability and desirability of a public bike share scheme in areas covered by Marrickville, Leichhardt, City of Sydney, Marrickville, Randwick and Waverley and the Universities of Sydney and New South Wales; and

2.    engage other cycling and transport stakeholders in discussions about such a project.


At the May Ordinary Meeting of Leichhardt Council the council resolved to seek interest in a bikeshare scheme with other inner Sydney councils and The Universities of Sydney and NSW. While a council bike share scheme in an LGA may not be feasible, a joint venture with these other LGAs and major institutions provides a scale that may make such a scheme workable.
Bike Share schemes provide a service that makes bicycles available for shared use to people on a very short term basis. The main aim of these systems is to provide affordable access to bicycles for short distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to private vehicles.
The benefits of bike share schemes are significant. They reduce congestion, making it easier to access a bicycle and the health benefits that come from cycling.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and Senator Scott Ludlum, with local Greens including Sylvie Ellsmore and Melissa Brooks

2012 Launch of the Greens Bike BlackSpot App, with Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and Senator Scott Ludlum, with local Greens including Sylvie Ellsmore and Melissa Brooks

Also check out more information about the Greens campaigns for better bike paths see the Greens BlackSpot Campaign page at http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/bike-blackspot

Local boost for ‘Yes’ referendum vote

Marrickville Council supports Greens’ campaign for ‘Yes’ local government vote

Marrickville Council has voted to launch a communications and marketing campaigning in support of Constitutional recognition of Local Government, with the aim of encouraging residents to vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming referendum on 13 September.

The referendum comes as a result of the long running Greens campaign for recognition of the vital role of Local Government.

Marrickville Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “The Greens are extremely pleased that Councillors on all sides of politics have come out so strongly in support of the Greens campaign.

“A referendum on Constitutional recognition of Local Government was a key commitment secured by the Australian Greens in its 2010 agreement to support the minority Labor Federal Government, she said.

“Local Councils are the level of Government which is closest to the community. We play a vital role in providing services to our local areas even though we receive less than 4% of Government’s tax revenue.

Clr Ellsmore said, “If the referendum passes on 14 September 2013 the Federal Government would be able to directly fund local Councils, to help us continue to provide key services and community programs.

Marrickville Council’s information campaign in support of the ‘Yes’ vote will support the Australian Local Government Association national campaign to pass the referendum.

Marrickville Greens Councillor Melissa Brooks was in Canberra today at the Association’s Conference and joined with fellow Greens Councillors from across the country, as well as Greens Senators Christine Milne and Lee Rhiannon, to show their support for the Yes campaign.

“After a long and sustained campaign by the Greens to bring forward this referendum, I look forward to working with all sides of politics to ensure that we get a ‘yes’ vote on September 14,” said Clr Brooks.

Media contact:            Greens Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

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