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.
Wesa Chau, Labor candidate for Prahran
My pathway to politics was not straightforward. I cut my teeth through the founding of the Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS) in 2002 to enrich the international student experience and establish stronger connections and mutual understanding between international and domestic students. Prior to AFIS, international students didn’t have a voice in Australia, despite paying incredibly high fees to study.
Inclusion is a big part of what drives me. My passion to see representation of the broader Australian society in the ALP led me to establish Poliversity. Poliversity creates platforms to increase cultural diversity and participation in the membership base, and our elected representatives. The federal election was pivotal and looking at number of women or people of colour elected, I am excited we as a country are at a turning point. The Parliament is finally starting to look more like the community they represent.
I joined the first cohort of Pathways to Politics at University of Melbourne when I heard about it through talking to people through my engagements for Poliversity. It was a great program that brings a great network of amazing women into politics.
My eyes are turning toward November as I stand to represent the people of Prahran. 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. We’ve been through two years of disconnection; it is the work of government to bring people back together. I want to be part of that journey.
I am inspired by the Late Joan Kirner who shared with me how she used to organise people to advocate for better rights for teachers. Politics is about people and bringing people together locally.
I love reading historical and technical books, especially about lessons learned from politics. My reading list recommendations are not ‘light reading’. Rather, they are for people who are really interested to learn about politics – the mechanics of it, and what skills our society needs to handle challenges we face.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s books. My learning from this book is about how the exposure to opportunity is an important ingredient to success. In applying the concept to helping vulnerable people in our community, we ought to find ways to help them gain opportunities so they can find a path to success.
The Women’s Power Handbook by Joan Kirner and Moira Rayner
The book might be a bit old, however there are gems within it that can be used to this day.
Learning to be a Minister: Heroic Expectations, Practical Realities by Patrick Weller and Anne Tiernan
My PhD research is on the topic of political skills in politics. I find this is a great read to hear from former Ministers on their work and learn from their experiences.