Confirmation of Candidature Master by Research - Helen Nezeritis

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Presenter:  Helen Nezeritis, Master by Research Candidate, College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society, Charles Darwin University

Date: Nov 20, 2019

Time: 10:00am to 11:00am

Contact person:  The Office of Research & Innovation (ORI), CDU
T: 08 8946 6548

Location:  Yellow 1.2.48 (Savanna Room) Casuarina Campus, Charles Darwin University

A graduate in Economics (Social Science) major in Government and Management from the University of Sydney and Masters of Health Management from University of NSW, Helen has worked at executive levels of politics and the public service for more than 15 years. Helen has worked as a policy adviser to the former Health Minister and Premier of NSW, Morris Iemma, and is currently working for the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory as Director of Policy. Helen has held executive roles within the public service, including as Executive Director Corporate Services and Executive Director Policy at the former NT Department of Children and Families and as Associate Director of Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol at NSW Health. Helen has lived in the Northern Territory for 10 years, including remotely with her family and has a passion for politics, leadership, governance and public administration.

Six of nine cabinet positions within the Northern Territory Cabinet or 13th Ministry are female. This equates to 67% of the Cabinet. It is the only jurisdiction in Australia with a female majority within Cabinet and for the longest period of time (since August 2016). Queensland and Victoria recently moved to 50:50 female representation within their most recent Cabinets (within the last 12 - 18 months). The initial topic explored as part of the preliminary literature review was whether the gender make-up of the Cabinet makes a difference to public policy outcomes.
A review of the literature about representation of women in Cabinet has confirmed that there is a rising number Cabinets around the world that have 50:50 representation known as parity cabinets. The preliminary literature review found that there were a range of factors that influenced the number of women within a cabinet, including the number of women within the legislature, and the roles that political parties, political outlooks, socio-cultural factors, and the democratic or egalitarian society within which the parliament exists could have played as assisting factors or barriers to female representation. The preliminary literature did not examine the impact of gendered cabinets upon public policy outcomes but did suggest a connection between these issues and the Cabinet that is ultimately formed.
Based on the literature connected with the topic, there is both scope and novelty in revealing the historic account of how and why the Northern Territory Government ended up with so many women in the current Cabinet – the 13th Ministry - reviewing and analysing source documents, party records, and interviewing contemporary figures in the party and beyond about how this occurred. Given the absence of explicit research or theories on the topic, the following dimensions are conjectured to be relevant, and will be sourced, analysed and reported as part of this Masters by Research thesis. The main research question for the Masters by Research is therefore: What has led to a female majority cabinet in the NT (and indirectly; why is it rare and has never occurred before).