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Recommendations for your pathway to politics: Sarah Mansfield

Photograph of Sarah Mansfield with overlaid text "Victorian State Election 2022"
In this blog series, we ask our alums to tell us about their personal ‘pathway to politics’ and provide their recommendations for content that will help support, guide, inspire and engage other women on their political journey.
In October 2022, we spotlight alums running in the Victorian State election.

Dr Sarah Mansfield, Greens Candidate for Western Victoria (and Councillor for Greater Geelong City Council)

I’m a GP, Councillor at the City of Greater Geelong, and mother of two young children.

Many things led me to politics, but the big push came from my experiences working as a doctor, where I realised that the factors that had the greatest impact on health and wellbeing aren’t medicine – they are our social and physical environment. These are hard to address as a doctor but can be influenced by policy decisions.

In 2015, I became involved with the Greens as a volunteer in Richard Di Natale’s office when he was a Greens Senator. While I was running as a candidate in the 2016 Federal Election, someone suggested I have a look at the Pathways to Politics Program for Women. It was the first year of the program, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was brilliant: I was able to reflect on what I was learning in Pathways to Politics while participating in a real-life campaign; hear frank stories from women who had been elected about the costs (it isn’t an easy path) and rewards (you can do so much good for your community) of political life; and met other women motivated to make a difference. It reinforced my interest in politics, equipped me with practical skills, and provided a realistic perspective.

In 2017, inspired by several women in Pathways to Politics who were elected as councillors, I successfully ran for the City of Greater Geelong, where I’m serving a second term. The campaigns were a huge team effort, and I was able to draw on what I had learnt through Pathways to Politics, particularly fostering a support network. I am so proud of what, together with the community, we have been able to achieve my time on council.

But our region is facing significant, time-critical challenges, and I’m frustrated that we are being left behind on major issues that affect liveability like housing and public transport. I believe that we must do more to address the climate crisis. Councils can do a lot, however they require state government support.

It’s an honour to have been pre-selected to run as the Greens lead candidate for Western Victoria at the upcoming state election, and I am once again getting the chance to apply all that I learnt through Pathways to Politics.

My recommendations

A Podcast of One’s Own (Julia Gillard podcast)

I love personal stories from people who are leaders in their fields – the common thread is that they never get there by chance, they always have to work hard.

Listen to A Podcast of One’s Own online

Photo of Julia Gillard holding microphone

The Bentley Effect and Franklin (documentaries)

Two documentaries that highlight the power of community in achieving change.

Photo of aboriginal men in traditional dress holding a sign that reads "Declared Northern rivers gasfield free"

Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times by Nancy Koehn

Five interesting bios that highlight how circumstances can create a need for leadership.

Find the book online

Cover of the book "Forged in Crisis"

Annabel Crabb

Anything by Annabel Crabb (including cookbooks), but particularly her work focused on women. I love her astute observations and ability to articulate a point so beautifully.

Books by Annabel Crabb – Penguin
Books by Annabel Crabb – Black Inc.
Ms Represented with Annabel Crabb on ABC iView

Photo of Annabel Crabb smiling
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