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.
This initiative of the Trawalla Foundation, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in Australian politics, and is delivered in partnership with state and territory based university partners the University of Melbourne, QUT, UNSW, Charles Darwin University, the University of Adelaide and University of Canberra.
Pathways to Politics was initiated through the vision of Carol Schwartz AO, Chair of the Trawalla Foundation, who fundamentally believes in the value of more female leaders. For Carol this is about optimising outcomes for our country by ensuring that men and women together share power, leadership and decision making.
The program was developed in consultation with the Harvard Kennedy School, inspired by their long-running From Harvard Square to the Oval Office practicum. The foundational Pathways to Politics Program for Women launched at the University of Melbourne in 2016, followed by QUT in 2019, UNSW in 2021, Charles Darwin University in 2022, and the University of Adelaide and University of Canberra in 2023, with plans to go fully national in the coming years. The program partners are proud to work collaboratively to increase women’s representation in politics across Australia.
Pathways to Politics brings together significant expertise and experience from across Australia’s political spectrum to provide participants with networking opportunities and practical training that emphasises good governance, ethics and leadership.
“It made such a difference to have incredible women from across the political spectrum, encouraging and supporting me all the way with skills, development and knowledge. This Program is crucial – more women in parliament better reflects our community’s values and experiences.”Juliana Addison MP (Pathways to Politics alum)
“Through its thoughtfully structured program and speakers, Pathways 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.”Senator the Hon Jane Hume, Liberal Senator for 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.”
"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.”
“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.”
Pathways to Politics has seen 28 electoral successes since 2016.
5 alums have successfully contested their seats twice.
19 Pathways to Politics alums ran in the 2022 Victorian state election.
6 were elected.
5 Pathways to Politics alums are confirmed to run in the NSW state election.
Pathways to Politics has realised significant impact in advancing female political participation since it launched in 2016, with 28 electoral successes achieved nationally across the political spectrum at local, state and federal levels of government.
The majority of alums intend to run for elected office in the next ten years.
“I ran for Victorian state parliament whilst completing this program and I know it gave me an edge”.Lucy Skelton, Labor Candidate for Kew (Pathways to Politics alum)
“As an incumbent councillor with an ethnic background, I have benefited greatly from the program. It’s taught me strategic thinking in the political environment, expanded my campaigning skills and strengthened my confidence in participating in politics as a woman.”Cr. Li Zhang (Pathways to Politics alum)
Information for applicants
Applications for our 2023 programs close 11:59pm on 1 May 2023. Apply here.
Our programs are open to female-identifying and non-binary residents of Victoria, Queensland, NSW, Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT.
Expressions of interest for future programs in Western Australia or Tasmania can be made here.
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.
You will become part of a large, supportive network of diverse and highly motivated women from a range of political, professional, and cultural backgrounds, all dedicated to making a tangible difference to the political landscape.
The program has a practical, experiential format that supports your active participation through workshops, case studies, 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 cover topics such as political vision, campaign planning, media training, speech-writing and leadership skills.
For further program information from our state and territory university partners, please visit their websites:
“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.”Samantha Ratnam MP, Leader of the Victorian Greens
“Pathways to Politics doesn’t just bewail the undersupply of women in public office: it takes practical steps to address the problem, equipping women with the skills and confidence to get involved….It’s an invaluable down-payment on a better kind of politics.“Annabel Crabb