In Australia, women are under-represented across all levels of government, business, civil society and positions of influence. The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is changing the face of politics. It seeks to increase female participation in politics by equipping women with the skills and knowledge to succeed in running for elected office, and to thrive as political leaders, thereby transforming both our politics and our broader policy landscape.
The Program is a non-partisan initiative being run for the first time in NSW in 2021 by UNSW in partnership with the Trawalla Foundation and the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia. 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 Program for Women NSW is part of a national network of independent programs based at Australian universities modelled on the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, which was launched by the University of Melbourne in 2016 in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, and Trawalla Foundation. The foundation University of Melbourne program was developed in consultation with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School with reference to their long-running “From Harvard Square to the Oval Office” practicum, to redress the underrepresentation of women in Australian politics. Now in its sixth year, the University of Melbourne program has achieved remarkable success, with 13 program alumnae elected across local, state and federal government in five years. A similar independent program, also modelled on the University of Melbourne program, was launched by QUT in 2019 for women in Queensland, and we are grateful for the assistance of the University of Melbourne, QUT, and the Trawalla Foundation in developing the NSW program. Pathways to Politics for Women was featured in these articles in The Age and The Guardian in 2020.
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”
The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is a great initiative enabling women to rise to the opportunity to lead in politics and to address the gender equity gap in political representation across our nation”
In 2021 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 email@example.com
The program will generally run from 6 to 9pm Thursday nights from June until mid-September 2021 (with a two week break for NSW school holidays), with 1-2 lunchtime sessions as needed. It will feature guest presenters from across the political spectrum including politicians from all levels of government (both sitting and retired), public speaking professionals, campaign strategists, 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 10 out of the 13 sessions, which in 2021 will be held via Zoom in order to ensure access to women from across NSW, and to prevent any potential disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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
- Running an office and 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
Ms Sarah Buckley
CEO of the Trawalla Foundation
Professor Rosalind Dixon
Program Director, and Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW
Mr John Hewson AM
Honorary Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, and former leader of the Federal Opposition
The Hon Courtney Houssos MLC
Member of the NSW Legislative Council
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 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 non-partisan initiative. In NSW, it is being run for the first time in 2021 by UNSW with the support of the Trawalla Foundation and the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia. It will provide a select group of female-identifying residents of NSW with the opportunity to gain the skills and networks to reach elected office at local, state and national levels. Some participants may be at an advanced stage of deciding to run for office, others may just be beginning their political journey. We welcome applications from aspiring female-identifying leaders at all these different stages, and aim to deliver a program that supports candidates at all these different stages.
Modelled on the Harvard Kennedy School program, 'From Harvard Square to the Oval Office', as adapted by the University of Melbourne and Queensland University of Technology to the Australian context, it aims to redress the lack of representation of women in Australian politics.
The program is led by presenters from across the political spectrum including public speaking professionals, campaign strategists, advisors, public policy experts, senior academics, and leading figures in Australian political and public life. The structure of each session varies, including panel discussions, workshops, seminars, Q&A discussions, practical work and networking opportunities.
Am I eligible to apply for this Program?
There are specific eligibility requirements for this program. Applicants 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.
*Eligibility waivers may be considered in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Selection Committee Chair.
How many participants will there be?
In 2021, 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 panel made up of representatives from the University of New South Wales and the Trawalla Foundation. The program emphasises multi-partisanship and seeks a cohort of women with diverse life and professional experiences. Candidates will be judged on their written application. The selection panel will also take diversity and equity into consideration.
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;
- Previous status as a refugee or current holder of a humanitarian visa;
- 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 early May 2021.
How long does the Program run for? How many sessions will there be?
The program will generally run from 6 to 9pm on Thursday nights (with a 30 minute dinner break from 7.15 to 7.45pm), with 1-2 lunchtime sessions as needed. There are 13 sessions in the Program with breaks to account for NSW school holidays. The first session will be held on 3 June 2021, and the final session on 9 September 2021.
Do I have to attend every session of the Program?
Ideally, selected participants will attend all sessions. At a minimum, selected participants are expected to attend at least ten out of the 13 sessions. Participants who are not able to commit to at least ten 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:
- Eligibility questions: these short questions help our committee to determine your eligibility for the program.
- Equal opportunities questions: this question helps our committee to ensure equity considerations are taken into account in the application process.
- Party affiliation: this question helps our committee ensure political diversity within our cohort.
- Sift 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: the image at the top of this page is of alumnae of the Pathways to Politics Program for Women at the University of Melbourne