Local councillors are pushing for increased involvement in politics by the younger community, saying that global problems making headlines today can start being actioned at a local level tomorrow.
City of Mosman Park Deputy Mayor Georgie Carey is looking to push the involvement of young people in local politics by highlighting that big problems start getting tackled at the bottom first.
“A lot of young people care about global issues such as climate change and they don’t really see how local government can play a role in that,” Cr Carey said.
“I think as a sector, local government can make progress on these important issues.
“The small changes that are made every day add up and we can shape a very positive future for our communities.”
Cr Carey said despite politicians working harder to engage young people, there was still significant work to be done.
“If you have a look at the stats about how many young people are represented in decision-making spaces generally, I think it is incredibly low,” he said.
“The data shows that the younger you are, the less likely you are to vote, so I guess there is a really big untapped market of young people who haven’t voted.
“Local government can have such a big impact on our life’s, and I think there is an education gap among young people that they don’t understand what we do apart from roads, rates and rubbish.”
The latest statistics released by the Western Australian Electoral Commission on voting participation was in 2019, with an average of 29.39 per cent of eligible residents voting.
That was a slight fall from 2017 where 29.61 per cent voted.
Engagement rates for the 2021 local government elections are yet to be released.
City of Belmont Councillor Jenny Davis said fresh ideas and new faces were key to better engaging the younger community.
“I do not think it is good for governance to have councillors in a seat for more than 20 years.
“We have councillors who have been around 20-30 years and some of them don’t even have social media.
“You need fresh eyes and new ideas.”
Cr Davis said community engagement levels were “worrying”.
“The last council elections I was involved in 2019 had our lowest engagement ever with only 27 per cent of the community voting.
“Four years ago that was 33 per cent, so the time to act is now,” she said.