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Celebrating our people on International Women’s Day

7 March 2024

Whether it’s designing our city, helping parents settle their newborn babies, or managing the city’s waste and recycling collection, this International Women’s Day we celebrate that women can do it all at the City of Melbourne. 
 
With roles spanning 50 different industries the diverse career opportunities are almost endless.  
 
Melbourne News met six wonderful women whose work is helping build a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable future for our city and its people.

Meet Catherine Ng – our Commercial Waste and Recycling Manager

A woman standing in front of a garbage compacter that is covered in artwork
Catherine Ng in Caledonian Lane with one of our garbage compacters.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping the city clean but for Commercial Waste and Recycling Manager, Catherine Ng – it really is her job. 
 
With more than 1000 garbage trucks entering the CBD each day, it’s a fine balance between ensuring the city looks and is clean, while minimising the impact of noise and amenity issues on visitors and the residents who live there.  
 
“Encroachment is a big issue in waste,” Catherine said. “We want Melbourne to look presentable for our visitors and rows of overflowing bins in laneways isn’t a good look.” 

“Our central city waste laws help keep our laneways and streets clean and we work with businesses to store their bins on premises.”

While most commercial waste is picked up by private collectors, Catherine said her team educates businesses about how they can access our waste and recycling hubs.

“The majority of businesses don’t recycle. So, we educate them on our waste and recycling hubs and about our e-bike organic waste collection service. We want to work with them and encourage them to make use of our service. Compliance is our last resort.”

Businesses can apply to access five garbage compacters in the central city that take non-recyclable materials to landfill. The machine compresses the garbage so more can fit in compared to regular bins. 
 
There are also 14 cardboard and commingle recycling bins which can be accessed at any time. 
 
Catherine’s team has been working with other branches across the organisation to develop miniature garbage compacters that fit within Melbourne’s iconic laneways. 
 
These are co-designed by City of Melbourne with a mini compacter coming to a trial site in Literature Lane soon. If successful, the mini compacters could be installed across the city meaning more businesses can utilise the service and do away with their private bins. 
 
Since joining the City of Melbourne eight months ago, Catherine enjoys that her role is educational, strategic and innovative. 
 

“There’s always something to do and always something to improve,” she said. 
 
“The collection of waste is always going to be an essential service because waste is a problem that’s going to keep growing.

“I love that in my role we can be strategic and innovative about which solutions we introduce because we’re dealing with problems that are only applicable to a few places in the world.”

Meet Alex Minenna  our Creative Technology Activator

A woman holding some books. She is wearing glasses.
Alex Minenna encourages everyone to visit the makerspaces.

Imagine a workday that “is an incredible intersection of creativity, technology and education”. Well, that’s exactly what a day in the life of Creative Technology Activator, Alex Minenna entails. 
 
Believe it or not our libraries are home to more than just books, with three marvellous makerspaces in which Alex is on hand to help users with high tech gadgets like laser cutters, sewing machines, 3D printers, editing software, DJ equipment and more. 

“The Library Makerspace is full of creative technology that the public can access for free, and it’s a privilege to be able to facilitate learning with anyone and everyone who comes through the library doors and is interested in technology,” Alex said.

“Free access to the kind of technology we offer in the makerspace is difficult to find and almost everyone who comes into the space is shocked and delighted to see that it’s a service we provide.  
 
“Access to sewing machines to fix or alter clothing is invaluable to somebody who cannot afford new clothes, for example.”

There’s often multiple barriers to accessing the technology that can be found in the makerspaces, like cost. But here people can use the equipment for free plus access quality information and assistance from trained staff in a safe space that’s set up for learning. 
 
With makerspaces at Library at The Dock, Kathleen Syme and narrm ngarrgu Library, the facilities are accessible to all. 
 
“I love that I can come to work and flex my creative thinking muscles through helping others with their projects,” Alex said. 
 
“And if something needs fixing I get out the screwdrivers and oil and fix it myself! I love that ‘a-ha!’ moment when problem-solving and fixing machinery.” 
 
When she’s not helping patrons with their awesome creations, Alex is “buying new items for our technology collection and organising exciting programming for our community”. 

“I’m a big proponent of women in STEM and women in technology, as sadly we are still underrepresented in tech industries. Having women (myself included) in a highly technical space like the makerspace is a great way to help women who want to come in and use the service feel welcome and accepted, and it promotes a positive culture. Plus, women are very cool and their varied perspectives only serve to enhance the workspace, including in STEM.”

Alex is also a member of the Melbourne Pride committee which champions inclusion for our LGBTIQA+ colleagues, delivering initiatives, support and assistance to make City of Melbourne a safer and more inclusive workplace.

Meet Kate Allen – our Sleep and Settling Parenting Support

A woman with glasses nursing a baby doll to sleep
Kate Allen educates new parents on sleep and settling techniques.

It may look to some like she plays with dolls all day but the reality is Kate Allen is providing parents and their young children with much needed sleep. 
 
As our Sleep and Settling Parenting Support, Kate provides invaluable care and education to some of our city’s most sleep-deprived residents. 
 
“Sleep deprivation is a really pressing issue when welcoming either your first baby into the world or adding a new family member into the mix,” Kate said.

“We know that this can impact how we function in the day, our ability to cope and to be the best version of ourselves.

 
“Information can be so helpful when working through wakefulness with a baby or child. Developing an understanding about what to expect and what is normal, can make a huge difference in reducing stress and finding a way forward. Being involved in making that difference for a family is the big reward in this role.” 
 
The sleep and settling model of care provides an evidence-informed approach to supporting parents and caregivers who have identified a sleep or settling concern. 
 
Kate runs sessions for those with newborns, babies and toddlers, and pointed out that many families with tired toddlers don’t actively seek out support.

My main focus is education around sleep from birth. I run both online and face-to-face groups covering sleep from birth to two years. I also visit new parent groups to talk about newborn sleep. I travel either by car or bike to the various Maternal Child Health Centres in the City of Melbourne to do that.  
 
“I also help out with the outreach component of our program when I have time and that is offering more individualised support to families, which may include sitting alongside them when they are settling their baby for a nap time, supporting the settle and perhaps trying some new things.” 
 
The value of such personalised parenting support cannot be underestimated. 

“I think if a community feels supported by the services provided within its municipality, that has an ongoing benefit on its health going forward,” Kate said. 

As an early parenting practitioner more broadly since 1988, Kate “marvels at the breadth of experiences I have been able to explore and develop over the years”. 

 
“I get to work with an incredible team of Maternal and Child Health Nurses. They are a dedicated and committed group and I’m learning a lot from them and applying that shared knowledge and experience to my current role.”

Meet Jocelyn Chiew – our Director of City Design

A woman with funky black glasses smiling at the camera, she is wearing a pink and gold shirt.
Designing a thriving green city is all in a day’s work for Jocelyn Chiew.

Designing a city is no mean feat but that’s exactly what Jocelyn Chiew is employed to do. 

As Director of City Design, Jocelyn leads the team working to ensure Melbourne’s iconic public realm is maintained and enhanced for current and future generations. 
 
“As a design practice within Council, our work has to be both functional and aspirational – helping to ensure that projects are on time, on budget and to the quality specified,” Jocelyn said. 
 
“Good design springs from inclusive processes and a clear evidence base. At City Design, we believe that listening to diverse perspectives, arising from lived experience and deep research, contributes to better outcomes.

“I’m very proud of the work we do in City Design, in service to our communities, to ensure they have the best possible facilities and services to thrive,” Jocelyn said. 
 
“Excellent design benefits everyone and helps to ensure that we are planning for a more inclusive, sustainable and equitable future.”

While Jocelyn’s first day on the job at City of Melbourne coincided with the first day of the first pandemic lockdown in 2020, each day in the role brings something different. 
 
“I might spend part of the day reviewing project briefs and designs for Council’s capital, renewal and maintenance works programs; or discussing approaches to planning referrals and state projects; or guiding design advice for city strategies and renewal areas; or leading and advocating for design through our Design Excellence Program and industry collaborations. 
 
“I believe in designing the change you want to see. Pursuing a career in architecture, landscape architecture and allied professions allows you to meaningfully and purposefully interact with communities and contribute to shaping the built environment in ways that can be personally and professionally rewarding.”

Not only did Jocelyn join City Design during the pandemic, she also became a mum.

“I have loved welcoming a child into the world. It has made me really appreciate how tough it is to be a primary carer, while balancing other responsibilities such as work,” she said.

“I appreciate City of Melbourne’s people-first approach and the opportunities that exist for flexible work arrangements. The latter has enabled me to build a diverse and inclusive team.  
 
“I think it’s inspiring that we have so many warm and accomplished women in leadership roles at Council. All of this gives me hope that we are closer to addressing gender respect and pay gaps.

A career highlight for Jocelyn was participating in the International Congress of Architects in Copenhagen in 2023, as a speaker, event curator and delegate, showcasing council’s work to deliver green and thriving cities.  

Meet Sharina Ladharam – our Aboriginal Community Engagement and Events Officer

A person standing with their arms crossed. They are dressed in black.
The work-life balance is important for Sharina, who is also a foster mum.

Celebrating and protecting more than 60,000 years of Aboriginal culture doesn’t feel like work for Sharina Ladharam – it’s her culture and she loves it. 
 
Sharina joined Aboriginal Melbourne last June as our Aboriginal Community Engagement and Events Officer, a role that sees her work closely with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal stakeholders on key council projects and organising community events to empower, enrich and embed Aboriginal knowledge and culture in city life.

“I enjoy my culture and making sure Aboriginal culture is at the forefront of all the work we do,” Sharina said. 
 
“My primary focus is on fostering relationships with Traditional Owners and working collaboratively on projects aimed at enriching Melbourne’s Aboriginal heritage. In my role, I prioritise stakeholder engagement, facilitate collaboration, and ensure that cultural sensitivity and safety are integral to our initiatives.”

 Sharina, a Wiradjuri woman, who was born and raised in Narrm, was crowned Miss NAIDOC 2014 and now helps organise council’s involvement in the NAIDOC Week program in June celebrating Aboriginal histories, cultures and achievements. 
 
A key focus for Aboriginal Melbourne in 2024 is engaging with the community on the stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2024-2027 which will have a focus on truth-telling. 

“Truth-telling is important,” Sharina said. “Without being truthful there cannot be reconciliation.”

Sharina and the Aboriginal Melbourne team are working on a number of projects to acknowledge Aboriginal peoples’ experiences of dispossession and inequity. 
 
These include the Sorry Day Program, National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week events, as well as the creation of a Stolen Generations Marker to acknowledge and pay homage to the Aboriginal children who were systematically taken from their families, communities and culture. 
 
Peppercorn Lawn in Alexandra Gardens on Wurundjeri Country has been selected as the preferred site for the marker, following consultation with Stolen Generations, their families and Victoria’s Aboriginal community.

 
“The marker will be a place for reflection, healing and education. These are important steps for Melbourne on its journey towards truth-telling, reconciliation and healing,” Sharina said. 
 
“There’s a lot of significant Aboriginal places in our municipality and it’s important that information and history is never lost.”

These significant sites are identified and recognised in the Mapping Aboriginal Melbourne project and will be celebrated in the Greenline Project which will transform the north bank of the Yarra River – Birrarung. 
 
Working in an inclusive and flexible workplace is invaluable to Sharina who is also a foster carer to a little boy.

“Aboriginal Melbourne is a culturally-safe workplace and they’ve been really supportive of me and the challenges that come with fostering a child,” she said.

“Our leadership is really supportive and the flexible working options as a single mum are really important.

 
“The people I work with really want to make a positive difference. We really want to make Melbourne an Aboriginal city so our culture and history is seen and embedded throughout our municipality.”

Meet Iman Sabbagh  our Waterways Operations Coordinator

A woman standing on a wharf holding a marina rope
Ensuring our waterways are safe is all in a day’s work for Iman Sabbagh.

It’s the variety of work that Waterways Operations Coordinator Iman Sabbagh loves about her job. 
 
Iman is part of the Waterways Services team which manages and maintains Council’s waterways and its community facilities and berths, including the Yarra River – Birrarung, Yarra’s Edge Marina, Melbourne City Marina, the Superyacht Marina and the Community Boating Hub.  
 
A typical day could see Iman out talking to boat operators on the harbour, project managing minor construction works on the marinas, organising routine cleaning, plumbing and electrical maintenance to ensure the marinas are compliant with safety standards, and ensuring safety audits are carried out on a daily basis. 
 
Iman loves that her work helps make a difference to the community and to the environment.

“Among the challenges we face on a daily basis can be flooding events causing rubbish accumulation within the marina, oil spillage, litter and complaints about loud noise from party boats. These examples affect the neighbouring community and customers berthing at our marinas,” Iman said. 
 
“By addressing these challenges in a timely manner, we provide a safe and clean waterway for our customers and a safe environment for our neighbouring community.”

While Melbourne may not have an iconic harbour bridge, our Victoria Harbour and Yarra River waterfronts are vibrant and accessible attractions for Melburnians and visitors alike, with dynamic events and commercial and recreational boating. 
 
Whether it’s kayakers, dragon boat racing, rowers, charter vessels, superyachts, water taxis, or people out fishing, a big part of Iman’s job is liaising with vessel operators to trouble-shoot issues and educating the more novice boaties on water safety. 
 
The Waterways Services team also works with stakeholders to protect and celebrate Melbourne’s rich  maritime history, with the Alma Doepel, Enterprize, Polly Woodside, Steam Tug Wattle and Mission to Seafarers all within the municipality.

Working on the water has traditionally been regarded as a male domain, but Iman said women can bring a lot of value to the role. 

“Women are natural multi-taskers and well organised, and I believe this job requires both skills due to the diversity of the presented tasks,” she said

Is the City of Melbourne a good place for women to work?

A composite image of six women's faces
With roles spanning more than 50 different industries, there’s a career for everyone at City of Melbourne.

The data tells us the City of Melbourne is a good place to work if you’re female. 
 
As of March 2024, 61% of our 1759 employees are women, and half of our executive leadership are female. 
 
Of our full-time staff, 57.5% are women, and 68% of our part-time staff are women. 
 
It’s also the first time we’ve simultaneously had a female CEO and female Lord Mayor in Alison Leighton and Sally Capp AO respectively. 
 
Representation of women in local government across Victoria has historically been low. At the 2020 election, 43.8% of all elected councillors across Victoria were women. Four of our 11 councillors are female, that’s 36.3%. The State Government has set a target for women to make up 50% of councillors at the next council elections later this year.  
 
Our median total pay gap is 10.9%. We reviewed it this year for submission to the Gender Equality Action Plan. It is something we regularly review while also looking at other policies we can introduce at the City of Melbourne designed to close the respect gap. For example, we pay an extra $500 per year in superannuation contributions for women, to recognise the imbalance. 

We participate in numerous public events supporting the elimination of violence against women, provide training to support employees who have experienced family violence and we offer 20 days’ paid domestic violence leave per year. 
 
Our sexual harassment policies and codes of conduct are clear.  

Paid parental leave is de-gendered, recruitment panels are gender-balanced, and flexible working arrangements are offered. 

Understanding and closing the respect gap inside and outside all of our workplaces could go a long way towards making our community safer, fairer and more encouraging for all women.

Careers at the City of Melbourne

With roles spanning 50 industries there’s a career opportunity for all at the City of Melbourne.  

Plus, we offer a great range of benefits including flexible working conditions, salary packaging, excellent leave entitlements, study assistance and much more.  

Whether it’s a career for life or a step within a career, learn more about a career at the City of Melbourne or view current job openings.

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