2023 APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN: Forging a pathway for future female leaders across six states

7 smiling women wearing smart, brightly coloured clothes, posing against sandstone pillars

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is celebrating significant successes and a growing momentum for women entering politics as we open applications for 2023 – in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

Pathways to Politics 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.

A record 19 alums ran in the Victorian state election last November. Six of them, across five political parties, were successfully elected: Juliana Addison MP, Kat Theophanous MP and Bridget Vallence MP in the Lower House, and Gaelle Broad MP, Sarah Mansfield MP and Georgie Purcell MP in the Upper House.

This brings Pathways to Politics to an incredible 28 electoral successes nationally across the political spectrum at local, state and federal levels of government.

Pathways to Politics alum Mary Doyle has also been preselected as the Labor candidate for the Liberal-held seat of Aston in the upcoming Aston by-election, after achieving a significant swing when she contested the seat in the Federal election in May 2022.

A further 5 alums of the NSW Pathways program based at UNSW Sydney are confirmed to run in the NSW state election this March.

What our alums are saying about Pathways to Politics

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Georgie Purcell, Animal Justice Party member of the Legislative Council for Northern Victoria:

“I wouldn’t be embarking on this incredible journey if I didn’t take part in the program. Pathways helped me understand what I perceived weaknesses were actually strengths. More compassion in politics is only a good thing. Through the program, I also learned the power of my story. Importantly, it gave me confidence to take back the narrative on some of my personal experiences holding me back from public life.”

Skye Tito, NSW Labor Candidate for Sydney:

“Pathways to Politics equipped me with the knowledge, skills, networks & confidence to run for office. I had the privilege to connect and learn from a diverse group of experts, politicians, and most importantly, the cohort of passionate women dedicated to making positive change for their community.”

Taylor-Rose Hull, 2022 QUT Pathways to Politics alum:

“After completing the program, I know I have a future in politics and now feel confident to step up into leadership roles within my party. “

Three smiling women posing for a photo in the Victorian Parliament chamber: Samantha Ratnam MLC, Juliana Addison MP and Cathrine Burnett-Wake MLC.
2022 Pathways to Politics “Speeches in Parliament” module with guest panelists Samantha Ratnam MLC (Leader of the Victorian Greens), Juliana Addison MP (Labor Member for Wendouree) and Cathrine Burnett-Wake MLC (Liberal Party MLC representing Eastern Victoria Region)

What political leaders are saying about Pathways to Politics

Samantha Ratnam MLC, Leader of the Victorian Greens:

“I continue to be impressed by the grounding that participants receive through Pathways to Politics about the nature of political life, its opportunities and its challenges. Having worked with several participants who were subsequently elected to the Victorian parliament, I can attest to the groundbreaking nature of the program and how it is helping to change the face of politics.”

Senator the Hon Jane Hume, Liberal Senator for Victoria:

“Through its thoughtfully structured program and speakers, Pathways to Politics gives participants the right combination: the unvarnished realities of political life, the expectations and commitment it requires, but also the extraordinary opportunities a political career presents, how fulfilling it can be, the value your pre-politics life can bring to the table and the unparalleled opportunity to make a contribution and make a difference.”

Pathways to Politics is an initiative of the Trawalla FoundationWomen’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne. Since founding at the University of Melbourne in 2016, Pathways to Politics has expanded into states and territories across Australia with partner programs at QUTUNSWCharles Darwin University

This year, the program is expanding its reach into South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory through partnerships with the University of Adelaide and University of Canberra, who formally launched their program last week with special guests Ambassador for Gender Equality Stephanie Copus-Campbell, Carol Schwartz AO, Leader of the Canberra Liberals Elizabeth Lee MLA, and former ALP member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann.

It is anticipated partner programs will commence in Western Australia and Tasmania in the coming years – making the program fully national.  

Four smiling women standing in front of a stage: Carol Schwartz, Ginger Gorman, Elizabeth Lee MLA, Gai Brodtmann.
Panelists at University of Canberra’s Pathways to Politics launch, February 2023. L-R: Carol Schwartz AO, Ginger Gorman (MC), Elizabeth Lee MLA, Gai Brodtmann.

Pathways to Politics founder and Chair of the Trawalla Foundation, Carol Schwartz AO said:

“Bringing the Pathways to Politics Program for Women to six states and territories is a huge milestone in the growth of the program, and an important step towards achieving gender equal parliaments and councils, and empowering more women to change the face of politics.”

Information for applicants

Each program will include practical workshops, networking opportunities, panel discussions and Q&As with high-profile guest presenters from across the political spectrum, including politicians, journalists, analysts, advisors and strategists. Modules will cover topics such as political vision, campaign planning, media training, speech-writing and leadership skills.

Places are open to female-identifying and non-binary residents of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory who are selected on a competitive basis. The program is offered free for up to 25 participants in each state or territory.

We are committed to diversity and to supporting a strong and inclusive cohort culture to equip you with the skills, knowledge, confidence and networks to run for elected office.


Media enquiries

Rachel Brown: brown.r1@unimelb.edu.au  |  0404 416 378

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