Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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 under representation of women in Australian politics, and is delivered in partnership with state and territory-based university partners the University of Melbourne, QUT, UNSW, Charles Darwin University, the University of Adelaide and University of Canberra.

    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.

    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, UNSW in 2021, Charles Darwin University in 2022, and the University of Adelaide and University of Canberra in 2023. We anticipate the program will be fully national in the coming years. 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. The program supports a strong and inclusive cohort culture.

    The program curriculum is delivered in a practical, experiential format, with modules covering topics such as political vision, campaign planning, media training, speech-writing and leadership skills.

  • Am I eligible to apply?

    Please note there are specific eligibility requirements for the University of Melbourne program. We request that applicants confirm their eligibility at the beginning of the application in response to the following criteria:

    1. Applicants must be an Australian citizen/Australian permanent resident/holder of a permanent Humanitarian Visa.
    2. Applicants must be female-identifying or non-binary in gender identification.
    3. Applicants must currently reside in Victoria.
  • How many participants will there be?

    In 2023, the University of Melbourne program will accept up to 25 participants.

  • How are participants selected?

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

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

    All applications are reviewed by a Selection Committee, which place a strong emphasis on multi-partisanship and equity in selection and seeks a cohort of women with diverse professional and life experiences.

    The program provides a safe space for women of diverse backgrounds, professions, cultures, and ideologies to fulfil their shared aspiration to pursue public office.

  • When do applications open?

    Applications for our 2023 program closed on 8 May 2023. People who are interested in applying for our 2024 program can submit an expression of interest via this form to be notified when applications are open (usually late February / early March 2024).

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

    The 2023 program will be delivered both in face-to-face and online formats, with the majority of modules delivered face-to-face. Those who are accepted into the program must be able to attend a minimum of 8 scheduled modules.

    Planned module dates and times are listed below:

    • Saturday, 15 July 2023: 9:00am-5:00pm (face-to-face)
    • Thursday, 20 July 2023: 6:00pm-9:30pm (online)
    • Thursday, 27 July 2023: 5:30pm-9:30pm (face-to-face)
    • Thursday, 17 August 2023: 6:00pm-9:30pm (online)
    • Saturday, 26 August 2023: 9:00am-5:00pm (face-to-face)
    • Thursday, 14 September 2023: 5:30pm-9:30pm (online)
    • Thursday, 12 October 2023: 6:00pm-9:30pm (face-to-face)
    • Thursday, 26 October 2023: 6:00pm-9:30pm (online)
    • Thursday, 02 November 2023: 6:00pm-7:00pm (online)
    • Thursday, 09 November 2023: 5:00pm-9:30pm (face-to-face)
    • Graduation event (TBC early 2024, face-to-face)

    We understand that participants in the program may have care giving responsibilities or other commitments. We schedule dinner breaks into sessions, and it will not be a problem if small children need to be present during sessions delivered online.

  • Do I have to attend every session of the program?

    In accepting a place in the Pathways to Politics Program for Women participants agree to attend at least 80% of program modules in order to meet the hurdle requirement for completion.

  • What costs are associated with the program?

    The University of Melbourne program is generously supported by the Trawalla Foundation and the University of Melbourne and offered FREE to selected participants. Any flights, ground transfers, accommodation, and other fees associated with attending the program are not included. Meals will be provided during each session (dietaries catered for on request).

  • What is involved with the application?

    The Pathways to Politics Program for Women application is comprised of four sections:

    • Eligibility questions: These short questions help our Selection Committee to determine your eligibility for the program.
    • Experience and political journey: These questions help us understand more about your political aspirations, experience, and your motivation and commitment to run for election. Free text questions have a word-limit of 250 words.
    • Your ‘elevator pitch’: You will be required to upload a 90 second video. Tell us what issue(s) are important to you and what you would highlight about your values and life experience that might connect with voters and persuade them that if elected you would make a difference.
    • CV: You will be required to upload your CV. Please ensure it is no longer than two pages and includes two referees.