Expressions of interest: 2023 Pathways to Politics Program for Women

Record number of Pathways to Politics alum running in Victorian election as program is poised to go national

Collage of 12 Pathways alum Victorian election candidates

A record number of alum of the Pathways to Politics Program for Women are standing in this month’s Victorian state election.

19 of our program alum from across the political spectrum are standing as candidates for election on 26 November.

“We’re extremely proud to see a record 19 of our Pathways to Politics alums standing for seats in this election. We applaud each of them for their remarkable determination and dedication to serving their communities, and to changing the face of politics.” 

– Dr Meredith Martin, Director, Pathways to Politics Program for Women, University of Melbourne

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is a non-partisan initiative that equips women with the skills, knowledge, confidence and networks they need to run for elected office and thrive as political leaders. 

Debbie Taylor-Haynes (Liberal candidate for Bentleigh) credits the program in supporting her entry into political life.

“It has been brilliant on so many levels – content, invaluable insight and guidance on getting pre-selected. The wonderful, inspiring speakers, along with speeches in Parliament and Graduation at Government House has been incredible,” says Ms Taylor-Haynes.

Wesa Chau (Labor candidate for Prahran) says the program had successfully brought “a great network of amazing women into politics. There has never been a more important time to bring people together from right across the party spectrum to campaign for the rights and opportunities of vulnerable people.”

Dr Kate Lardner (Independent candidate for Mornington) was motivated to undertake Pathways to Politics to understand the benefits and limitations of serving as a member of parliament. She says the program was “absolutely fantastic… I learned about independent candidates and realised how influential they could be in not only making change on major issues, but changing the culture of politics.”

“I realised then that I wanted to explore this further, and I went on to set up Voices for Mornington Peninsula, as grassroots campaigning was what I was familiar with,” says Dr Lardner. 

Pathways to Politics Program for Women set to go national

Since founding in 2016, Pathways to Politics has expanded into states and territories across Australia with partner programs at QUT, UNSW and Charles Darwin University

In 2023, the program will expand into the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, and it is anticipated partner programs will commence in Western Australia and Tasmania in the coming years – making the program fully national.  

“Building on the success of our national collaboration, we’re thrilled to be working with foundational partners Trawalla Foundation and Women’s Leadership Institute Australia to expand the national network, with new universities coming on board in South Australia and ACT later this year,” says Dr Martin.

“Together, the Pathways to Politics partnership is helping to build a critical mass of women – from all sides of politics – on a national scale.”

– Dr Meredith Martin, Director, Pathways to Politics Program for Women, University of Melbourne

Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and Trawalla Foundation Chair Carol Schwartz says: “The University of Melbourne has been an excellent founding partner, and together with our other university partners we have built a program that is literally changing the face of Australian politics.”

“For me this is about optimising outcomes for our country by ensuring that men and women together share power, leadership and decision making. Having 19 of our alum running in the Victorian state election is a wonderful step towards that ultimate goal.” 

– Carol Schwartz AO, Chair, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and Trawalla Foundation

Pathways to Politics 2022 cohort: Group of diverse women sitting in Victorian Parliament House
2022 Pathways to Politics cohort at “Speeches in Parliament” session, including Victorian election candidates Lucy Skelton (top left) and Cr. Angelica Panopoulos (bottom right)

Knowledge Hub: Pathways alum Victorian election special

Our special Victorian election dossier features seven of the 19 Pathways alums who are running:


More about the program

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is a national, proudly non-partisan initiative that aims to change the face of politics by equipping women with the skills, knowledge, confidence and networks they need to run for elected office and thrive as political leaders.

The program in Victoria is delivered by the University of Melbourne in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the Trawalla Foundation – both chaired by business and community leader Carol Schwartz AO. 

Read more about the program here


Register your interest in the program

Applications for the program will open in early 2023. Prospective future participants can submit an expression of interest in the program here.

Founding Partners

University Partners