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.

The program seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in Australian politics. It is an initiative of the Trawalla Foundation, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and University of Melbourne and is delivered in partnership with state-based university partners University of Melbourne, QUT and UNSW. You can find out more about the Pathways to Politics national network at pathwaystopolitics.org.au.

The program is running for the second time in NSW in 2022, delivered by UNSW. It is hosted by the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW Law & Justice, with support from the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UNSW, the Australian Graduate School of Management at the UNSW Business School, the Australian Human Rights Institute, the UNSW Centre for Ideas, and the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Arts, Design and Architecture.

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. The program supports a strong and inclusive cohort culture.

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 at least 20 alums are poised to run in the forthcoming 2022 federal and Victorian state elections

Applications

Applications for the 2022 program have now closed.

Applications for the 2023 program will open in early 2023 – to stay informed, join our mailing list.

Through the program, I got to meet so many awesome inspiring women leaders who are all creating awesome change. Also, through the program I got teamed up with a mentor, who I have already learnt so much from and will continue in the future. As well as creating some amazing connections through the program I also gained many new skills including public speaking skills, how best to use social media, speech writing, goal setting and more.

- Takesa Frank, 2021 NSW program alum

I've always felt compelled to serve. The value of this program was it made me think about the contribution I wanted to make to my community. It made me be brave and bold and see a bigger role for what that contribution might look like. It was a wonderfully supportive environment and gave me a unique opportunity to meet a cohort of women across the political spectrum who are all guided by the desire to serve their community.

- Sally Sitou, 2021 NSW program alum and Candidate for Reid in the 2022 Federal Election

The Pathways to Politics Program is phenomenal. An insightful and prodigious program which equips women with the tools and knowledge needed to succeed in politics. I highly recommend this Program.

- Rebecca Pun, 2021 NSW program alum 

UNSW’s Pathways to Politics for Women may just have changed my life. I was contemplating putting my hat in the political ring when I started it, but by the end - I could not have been more determined to get elected to federal Parliament. Through an unbelievable line up of experts, academics and current and former politicians, the course gave me the insight, skills, and most importantly, the confidence I needed to take the leap. 

I’m right in midst of my campaign for the federal seat of Hughes in the 2022 election, running as an Independent. Win or lose, it’s been the adventure of a lifetime, and I have Pathways to Politics to thank for it.

- Georgia Steele, 2021 NSW program alum and Candidate for Hughes in the 2022 Federal Election

In 2022 the NSW program is free for the 25-30 successful applicants, who will be selected on a competitive basis. Any questions not addressed in the FAQs can be directed to pathways.to.politics@unsw.edu.au

  • The 2022 NSW program will run from 22 July to 22 September 2022. The first and last sessions will be held in person in Sydney, with all other sessions being delivered online on Thursday evenings.

    The program will feature guest presenters from across the political spectrum including politicians from all levels of government (both sitting and retired), public speaking professionals, advisors, public policy experts, senior academics, and leading figures in Australian political and public life.

    The structure of each session will vary, and will include panel discussions, workshops, seminars, Q&A discussions, practical work and networking opportunities. Participants are expected to attend a minimum of 8 out of the 10 sessions.

    Topics covered will include:

    • Understanding the Australian political system
    • Deciding to run, fundraising and pre-selection
    • Building your base and campaigning
    • Finding your voice and priorities
    • Political leadership
    • Understanding policy-making
    • Speech writing
    • Media training
  • The Program Advisory Committee meets on a regular basis to provide strategic oversight and ensure the high quality of the Program.

    • Professor Eileen Baldry AO
      Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, UNSW
    • Dr Lynsey Blayden
      Program Co-Director, UNSW
    • Ms Sarah Buckley
      CEO of the Trawalla Foundation
    • Professor Rosalind Dixon
      Program Director, and Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW
    • The Hon Courtney Houssos MLC
      Member of the NSW Legislative Council
    • Ms Jenny Leong MP
      Member for Newtown
    • Ms Ann Mossop
      Director of the Centre for Ideas, UNSW
    • Professor Justine Nolan
      Director of the Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW
    • Ms Elisabeth Perham
      Program Co-Director, UNSW
    • Professor Leisa Sargent
      Co-Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, UNSW
    • Ms Liesl Tesch AM MP
      Member for Gosford
    • Scientia Professor Carla Treloar
      Director of the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW
    • The Hon Gabrielle Upton MP
      Member for Vaucluse 
    • The Hon Leslie Williams MP
      Member for Port Macquarie and Deputy Speaker, NSW Legislative Assembly
  • What is the Pathways to Politics Program for Women?

    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.

    The Pathways to Politics Program for Women 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.

    In NSW, the program is being run for the second time in 2022 by UNSW with the support of the Trawalla Foundation and the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.  

    Am I eligible to apply for this Program?

    There are specific eligibility requirements for this program. Applicants for the NSW program must:

    • Be an Australian citizen/Australian permanent resident/holder of a permanent Humanitarian visa;
    • Be female-identifying or non-binary in gender identification; and
    • Be resident in NSW.

    If you are not eligible for this program because you are not resident in NSW, you may be eligible for our partner programs in Victoria or Queensland.

    How many participants will there be?

    In 2022, the program will accept up to 30 applicants.

    How are participants selected?

    Participants will be selected on a competitive basis. The selection criteria are as follows:

    • Commitment to seeking elected office
    • Leadership experience
    • Professional and life experience
    • Political engagement
    • Ability to tell your story in a compelling way.

    All applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee made up of representatives from UNSW and Trawalla Foundation. The Committee will place strong emphasis on multi-partisanship and equity in selection and seeks a cohort of women with diverse life and professional experiences.

    The program is committed to minimising barriers to enter politics. As such, applicants identified by the Selection Committee as coming from an equity cohort will be prioritised. To be eligible to apply for a position in this equity category applicants must satisfy the application selection criteria, and also meet one or more of the following criteria:

    • Identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander;
    • Identify as LGBTIQA+;
    • Previous status as a refugee or current holder of a humanitarian visa;
    • Culturally and linguistically diverse background;
    • Disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances;
    • Disability or chronic medical condition;
    • Difficult personal circumstances; or
    • Coming from a rural or isolated area.

    When will I know if my application is successful?

    We aim to advise all applicants of the outcome of the application process in mid- to late-May 2022.

    How long does the Program run for? How many sessions will there be?

    The 2022 NSW program will run from 22 July to 22 September 2022. The program will be delivered through a mix of face-to-face and online modules: the sessions on 22 July and 22 September will be held in-person in Sydney (subject to public health advice), while all other sessions will be delivered online on Thursday evenings.

    Do I have to attend every session of the Program?

    Selected participants should plan to attend all sessions. At a minimum, selected participants are expected to attend at least eight out of the ten sessions (including the first in-person session). Participants who are not able to commit to at least eight sessions may be asked to withdraw from the program.

    How much does the Program cost?

    The program is FREE for the selected participants. The Program is generously funded by the Trawalla Foundation and the University of New South Wales. 

    What is involved with the application?

    There are five parts to applying to the program in NSW:

    1. Eligibility questions: these short questions help our committee to determine your eligibility for the program.

    2. Valuing diversity question: this question helps our committee to ensure equity considerations are taken into account in the application process.

    3. Party affiliation: this question helps our committee ensure political diversity within our cohort.

    4. Scenario-based questions: these five questions will help us understand more about your professional skills including leadership, strategy and your commitment to run. These questions have a 250 word limit.

    5. CV: Attach your CV: ensure your CV is no longer than three pages and includes three referees (please provide name, contact details and position description for each referee, but do not provide a reference from any of them).

    Additionally, you must agree to be bound by the Code of Conduct for participants before you can be accepted onto the Program.

    If you have any questions not covered by these FAQs, please email pathways.to.politics@unsw.edu.au

Photo acknowledgement: Pathways to Politics photos have been supplied by The Pixel Collective.