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Local Government – Closest to Which People? Gender, Power and Polarisation in 2024 - Sponsored by SIG-IEP

This webinar is an overview of the perspective of Mayor Moira Were, the Mayor of South Australia’s largest local government authority, in the context of global trends around gender, democracy, voting, polarization, and community engagement. Mayor Were will outline some legislative contexts, such as Federal and State laws, including the Privacy Act, Local Government Act, principles, policies and protocols. She will also draw a distinction between public policy applications and how everyday citizens and political representatives work within these beautiful constraints to support democracy. With the rise of populism, polarisation and post-truth, Mayor Were will describe the resources, mechanisms, and learnings in place to help public officials and people in public life to combat these challenges. Back in 2008, when Clay Shirky wrote “Here Comes Everybody,” he identified features of the new online world: sharing, cooperation, collaborative production, and collective action. Mayor Were, for one, was excited and hopeful about more equity in participation with accessible tools and places where information could be shared and more knowledge distributed., She will look back at what started out as her journey for digital democracy nearly twenty years ago and see where the foundations of these changes may have been visible and what it might mean for the future. The roles of the citizens, elected representatives, and administration will be considered to explore what’s working, what we can celebrate, where we are going, and what we need to do next to keep building inclusive, engaged, democratic practices and leadership.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop programs and initiatives that bridge the digital divide.
  2. Empower citizens to be critical consumers of information.
  3. Foster more inclusive and participatory forms of governance.


Mayor Moira Were AM was elected Mayor of the City of Onkaparinga in November 2022. She brings to the role her facilitation and advocacy skills and strategic experience in the community, public, and private sectors. Moira is well-connected to our community through many years of involvement with local grassroots community organisations. She was awarded an Order of Australia in 2019 for her services to our community, specifically in the social welfare sphere. Moira is a trained Social Worker and holds a master's degree in economics and ethics. Moira is the founder of Chooks SA's 4,000-strong online community, closing the gender investment gap. She co-founded a national award-winning team and social enterprise intermediary, Collab4Good, supporting systems to shift towards more equitable and just futures. Moira has previously served in several significant leadership and governance roles, including as Chief Executive Officer of Volunteering SA&NT, Global Director of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2), board director of the Medical Board of SA, and a Deputy Commission on the SA Fire and Emergency Services Commission. Moira has lived in the City of Onkaparinga for around 30 years, having brought her family up in Willunga and Port Noarlunga, South Australia. She now resides in Sellicks Beach and loves where she lives.

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