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 University of Melbourne seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in Australian politics, and is delivered in partnership with state-based university partners University of Melbourne, QUT and UNSW.
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.
“You cannot be what you cannot see. That’s why the Pathways to Politics program is so important. It provides a window into the experience of those who have been politically successful. We need to change the political conversation and the way to do that is to get more women elected.”Dr Katie Allen MP (Pathways to Politics alum)
“The power of the Program for me was normalising the idea of running. With that mental hurdle out of the way, I could focus on building the skills and knowledge I needed to win.”Cr Tina Samardzija (Pathways to Politics alum)
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 University of Melbourne in 2016, followed by QUT in 2019 and UNSW in 2021. More states will follow over time. 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)
20 Pathways to Politics alums have been elected to office since 2015. Two alums have successfully contested their seats twice
We anticipate at least 20 Pathways to Politics alums will run in the 2022 Federal and Victorian state elections
“Pathways to Politics is a brilliant & clever program designed to equip women for election and build their networks so they can be the change makers we so urgently need.”Dr Helen Haines MP
Pathways to Politics has realised significant impact in advancing female political participation since it launched in 2016, with 20 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, and we anticipate at least 20 alums will run in the forthcoming 2022 federal and Victorian state elections.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to build confidence to run in and win my first election than being a part of the Pathways to Politics program in 2016.”Cr. Susanne Newton (Pathways to Politics alum)
Information for applicants
Our state-based programs are open to female-identifying and non-binary residents of Queensland, NSW and Victoria (more state programs will follow over time).
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.
More program information from our state university partners:
“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
“A fantastic program with an incredible array of guest speakers to inspire and guide you to that all important seat at the table”.Debbie Taylor-Haynes (Pathways to Politics alum)