Is the Cause of Women going backwards at Canning?

Arthur Kyron

Did CEO Arthur Kyron pull a swifty, as relates women in power at the City of Canning, following his appointment?

In slashing the number of directors, including the only high level female executive, he then appeared to give that director’s duties to another woman for less pay and/or prestige.

Director became Executive Manager, in other words.  The transfer of aged care staff across to Silver Chain would have factored in to the decision, but the subsequent portfolio remained significant in size.

The areas of responsibility that fell to the de-leveraged position were the traditional female roles of community development, aged care and libraries… so nothing “amazing” there (the CEO’s favourite signifier) – but the player is now less powerful.

Sarah McQuade

Recently, however, a new twist occurred in the [women rock… right?] aspect of Canning that seems to be another example of interfering with what the power of women could have been.

This time it’s coming from the de-leveraged position holder, Sarah McQuade.

When asked to put together an event to sound out interest for a “Women In Canning” group – per request by Councillor Yaso Ponnuthurai, Ms McQuade showed, in my view, a surprising lack of knowledge, and sophistication, in where circa 45,000 female residents’ day-to-day interests may lie.

The forum she designed to support the motion (due to be held this week) is based around “inspiring” speakers from the fields of migrant and refugee health, domestic and family violence, financial literacy and an aged care provider offering services to elderly members of the Stolen Generation.

There will be a forest of paper on mental and physical health and community service providers at such an event.  There always is, these New Canning days.

It is to be held on a weekday, inside working and school hours.  If you are a professional woman or student then you will need to either take the day off or be relegated to involvement via Have Your Say on the City’s website.  Thus far no-one has done so.

It’s obvious what this event has been turned in to.  Sarah McQuade and her staff have steered much of Ponnuthurai’s original concept of those possessing or wanting skills [not unlike a Men’s Shed, but across a broader spectrum: work, sports, volunteering] to an entirely different stream of consciousness, with the sense that if you are a migrant, refugee or woman in significant and potentially distressing need this is an event for [you].

All except people with disabilities, of course, and as usual at Canning.

Ms McQuade would not answer my Qs relating to which disability groups had been contacted over the event and as for Cr Ponnuthurai, in my direct experience, despite hawking her concept all over the place, doesn’t seem to extend concerns for women to those comprising the last, and largest, marginalised sector of society in Australia – and Canning.

Big, fat step backwards for women, right there.

Cr Ponnuthurai is, however, very interested in being pre-selected for the Labor party, so I, and I suspect others, are inclined to think there is more behind this than first appears – at least from her perspective.

Only councillor pictured with Labor pollies at a City of Canning event!  Good thing Ms Ponnuthurai chose to wear red that day….

As for the direction Ms McQuade and her team have taken this bid, I simply cannot fathom the basis for the “inspiration” they seem to think up to 45,000  women might go for.

No, Director Garry Adams, it is not particularly aligned with the motion to council, nor does it correlate with how one “…. brings together all walks of life”, as consistent with the scope of para 7 of the Ordinary council meeting minutes of 15 May 2018.

I won’t be taking time off to attend and I am picking up little organic interest in how this event is turning out.

I do have a question though: Who the Hell advises Ms McQuade on these things?  That too, I was unable to found out, but if I did it might illustrate where all of this is actually heading.

Doing the Numbers on “Women in Canning”

  • Over 600 “guests” appear on the event page, but no-one has indicated they are “going”, and only 114 have indicated “interested”.  Lot of invites, then?  To who?
  • No male councillors have advertised this event on their Facebooks and several behaved ridiculously when this motion came up at council (more soon)
  • Mayor Paul Ng has not promoted this on his Facebook
  • Only two of the four female councillors of Canning have put it on their FBs.  Greens party member Christine Cunningham, oddly, has not – yet she shouts “Leave her alone, you fuckers!” on her Twitter feed if people harass an Obama daughter
  • Councillor Ponnuthurai has had a massive amount of coverage given to her by Canning Times and Examiner on this issue – but it also charts how from a high of appearing with an Aussie super athlete eventually she was forced to work the multicultural seam to boost interest
  • And very few people showed interest on the City’s FB.

IMPORTANT:  Cr Ponnuthurai’s article in this week’s Canning Times states the event is for women only.  Incorrect – the City has made it clear anyone can attend.  Tread, as they say, your own path:-


Feature image by Stefan Schweihofer, known as Stux, and sourced from Pixabay
License: CCO Creative Commons.