Pathways to Politics for Women opens for applications ahead of historic election year

Photo of 17 diverse women wearing colourful business dress, standing on the steps of a parliamentary building
Media release, 6 March 2024

As Australia gears up for a monumental election year, the award-winning Pathways to Politics for Women program proudly opens its doors for national applications.

With over 50 program alums expected to run in local and state elections across the country in 2024, Pathways to Politics for Women exemplifies the growing momentum of diverse women in shaping Australia’s political landscape.

From providing comprehensive training and mentorship opportunities to fostering a supportive community of aspiring female leaders from all sides of politics, Pathways to Politics for Women has played a pivotal role in advancing gender diversity and inclusion in Australian politics.

The program has already helped hundreds of women to run for office, achieving 34 electoral successes nationally across the political spectrum and at all levels of government since it launched in 2016.

An initiative of the Trawalla Foundation, Women’s Leadership Institute and the University of Melbourne, the proudly non-partisan Pathways to Politics for Women programs are uniquely designed in collaboration with leading university partners across Australia, tailored to each local context.

Pathways to Politics for Women is supported by sitting and former politicians representing all sides of politics across the nation.

The Hon. Lara Giddings AO, former Labor Premier of Tasmania and the youngest woman to be elected to an Australian Parliament, says:

“[Politics] can be a long and lonely road that’s difficult to navigate without networks, mentors and the tools to help realise your ambition. It can even be harder for women who have traditionally not had access to the same wealth as men to fund campaigns. Pathways to Politics helps to break down those barriers and give you the knowledge and the confidence to put yourself forward for leadership positions.”

Independent Federal Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender MP says:

“It is more important than ever that our parliaments properly reflect our diverse nation, including the 51% of the population that are female. Pathways to Politics is a critical institution in demystifying politics, providing key skills and helping inspiring women see the role they can play in influencing the biggest issues facing our country.”

Liberal Senator for Victoria the Hon Jane Hume, a presenter on last year’s program, says:

“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.”

Sue-Anne Hunter is a Wurundjeri and Ngurai Illum Wurrung woman, a Yoorrook Justice Commissioner, and a participant in the 2023 program. She says:

“I can confidently say that it has been a transformative experience… Thanks to this program, I’ve acquired valuable knowledge, established meaningful connections, and developed the confidence to lead with courage.”

Carol Schwartz AO, founder of Pathways to Politics for Women and Chair of the Trawalla Foundation, says she is exceptionally proud of the program’s achievements:

“The remarkable successes of our alums running in elections across the country underscore the impact of Pathways to Politics for Women in empowering women to boldly make their mark in politics. As we enter this historic election year for the program, we are committed to continuing our mission of equipping diverse women with the skills, confidence and career-long support they need to thrive as leaders and make a profound contribution to society.”

Applications for the 2024 program open nationally from 6 March – 1 May 2024. Aspiring female leaders who are passionate about politics and committed to driving positive change are encouraged to apply.

Media contact: Rachel Brown

Applications open nationally

6 March – 1 May 2024

Founding Partners

University Partners