• Oxfam's Straight Talk conference participant Vonda Malone at Parliament House, ready for the Straight Talk opening ceremony. (Lara McKinly/OxfamAUS)Source: Lara McKinly/OxfamAUS
Long-time Torres Shire mayor Pedro Stephen is expected to be replaced by Vonda Malone in the Queensland mayoral elections.
Jodan Perry

21 Mar 2016 - 3:49 PM  UPDATED 21 Mar 2016 - 5:32 PM

Vonda Malone is poised to become the first female mayor of Torres Shire Council, bringing an end to Pedro Stephen's tenure, which lasted more than two decades. 

Ms Malone currently has 687 votes and Pedro Stephen 524. 

"I hope this is just the beginning of a ripple effect empowering women to take on leadership roles in the community,” Ms Malone told NITV News. 

"I have worked hard over the years to build myself up to be a strong, confident, inspiring leader for our people to make a difference.” 

She says she chose to run because she wants to "serve the community in a greater capacity" and believes she has a lot to offer it.

"It is an honour and privilege to have such a positive response from the community."  

If she is sworn in to the role, Ms Malone says she has big plans for Torres Shire including partnerships that address the region's economic issues, equitable service and infrastructure across all communities, and a transparent and accountable council.

Her appointment would see the end of the Mr Stephen’s tenure as mayor, a position he has held for more than twenty years.

Ms Malone says she is appreciative of all the groundwork his council has undertaken over that time.

"I would like to take this opportunity to [thank] Pedro Stephen and councillors for their hard work over the years, their commitment and dedication inspired me from a young age to see women included in the decision-making process.

Oxfam’s Senior Gender Advisor Anna Trembath said Vonda Malone’s likely election as mayor of the Torres Strait Council is hugely significant.

“For the first time, a woman, and a truly exceptional one at that, is leading decisions that directly affect the lives of Torres Strait Islanders," Ms Trembath says.

"During her campaign, Vonda Malone has sought out the views and priorities of other women. If she is elected it will show that the Torres Strait is ready to embrace female leadership and recognises a strong leader who is inclusive of a range of viewpoints and priorities, including those of women." 

Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait councils election update

Peter Guivarra, current mayor of Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council, is stepping down this year with Aileen Addo in the lead (74 per cent of votes) against Maria Pitt (3 per cent) and Patrick Savo (23 per cent).

In Yarrabah, Ross Andrews is holding the lead with 38 per cent of votes. If elected and sworn in, he says there are big shoes to fill, following on from Errol Neal. 

Desmond Tayley 37 per cent of votes in Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council. Shane Wilkie has a commanding lead in Woorabinda with 45 per cent of votes, while current mayor Terrence Munns has just 14 per cent.

Early signs suggest Alfred Lacey is expected to hold his position on Palm Island, which he has occupied since 2008. He is currently in the lead by 85 votes.

Fred Gela looks to have the full support of his people, the 37-year-old is nearly five hundred votes clear in the Torres Strait Island Regional Council.

Dereck Walpo and Wayne Butcher have returned uncontested in Aurukun and Lockhart respectively.

Current mayor Richard Tarpencha is currently trailing Ralph Kendall by fifty votes in the Pormpurraw Election.

Queensland's 16 Indigenous councils 

Torres Shire is considered a mainstream council but is predominately populated by Torres Strait and Kaurareg people. If elected, Vonda Malone would become the first female Torres Strait mayor of a Queensland mainstream council. 
The state's Indigenous councils are:
Aurukun Shire Council
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council
Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council
Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council
Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council
Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council
Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council
Mornington Shire Council
Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council
Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council
Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council
Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council
Torres Strait Island Regional Council
Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council
Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council
Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council