WILD – Women in Local Democracy, Priscilla

‘I remember in the mid 60’s, when Mum, Zillah Crawcour, was the Mayor of the City of Newtown, she was invited to the Geelong State Government Offices opening (hangover house). On entry the officials told her ‘We didn’t realise you were a woman. You will be embarrassed as all the other guests are men.’ My mother very sternly told them she would not be embarrassed as this happened on many occasions! Then later when they offered that she eat her dinner in a separate room, she and her fellow councillor walked out. Since then promoting equality and promoting female councillors has been my life’s work.


‘WILD stands for Women in Local Democracy, we support Women’s participation and leadership in all walks of life. We endorse gender equity, diversity and active citizenship, the three principles of the Victorian Local Government Women’s Charter.’

‘As a consequence of the Minister announcing Council Elections to be held this year, the WILD group are planning a morning tea at The Hub, corner McKillop and Humble St, on Thursday April 6 at 10.00a.m. if you are a potential candidate or interested in supporting women please join us.

I’m interviewing Priscilla Pescott, who was nominated for a story by her husband Trevor.

‘Trevor and I are both introverts, but we have supported each other and achieved so much. My path has been described as ‘An accidental journey to community recognition.’

‘My father passed away when I was 9 so I was brought up in an all-female household. Over the years, I have looked back and realised how hard it must have been for my Mum. To make ends meet she ran a needlework and gift shop called ‘The Work Basket’. My sister and I went to an all-girls school, The Hermitage. My first job was in the office at Geelong Grammar before I went to work for the Shire of Corio. I have two daughters and my sister has three, Mum would be proud of them.

‘Mum was a great role model. She was Mayor of the City of Newtown twice, in 1963 and again in 1976-77. The second time her Doctor had advised her against it and she passed away before the end of her term.

‘I was her Mayoress, I got to stay in that position, but after an injustice I decided to stand for Council myself. I’ve been Mayor myself for a two-year term. I never would have imagined it. I can proudly say I was also the first female President of both the @Gordon Institute of TAFE and the Geelong Technical School which was an all-boys school. I was also the first female member elected to the board at Barwon Water.

‘Formed in 2012, WILD’s four executive members bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding, each of us has a long history in local government, two as Councillors and two in Council administration. They are Jenny Wills, Dr Rosemary Kiss, Yvonne Adami and I.

‘I’m a life member of the ALGWA Victoria (Australian Local Government Women’s Association). I was also involved in the production of the book by Amanda Sinclair called “Getting the Numbers: women in local government”. WILD wants to share our knowledge with the women of Geelong.

‘We held a big campaign prior to the 2012 Council elections to get women involved and held a seminar at the Geelong Library. We were thrilled when a lot of women stood for Council, but disappointed when not so many more were elected. We are planning to rectify this at the coming election. It’ll be a good opportunity to look at gender equity and examine the structure of Council and training necessary.

‘We’ll organise pre-election gender specific information sessions and workshops for women candidates prior to Council elections. In doing this we partner the City of Greater Geelong, the Geelong Regional Libraries Corporation and community organisations to promote strategies for equality and to celebrate women’s achievements.

WILD welcomes new members and supporters, contact jeni.wills@bigpond.com or phone her on 03 5259 2032

Photo – from left, Yvonne Adami, Rosemary Kiss, Jenny Wills, and myself.