Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Pathways to Politics Program for Women?

    The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is a non-partisan initiative born out of a partnership between the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, Trawalla Foundation and the University of Melbourne. 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. The Program is open to graduates of Victorian universities.

    Now in its sixth year, the Program places an emphasis on skills training, good governance, leadership and fostering strong bonds between participants. It features 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, and leading figures in Australian political and public life.

    The Program has a practical, experiential format, supporting active participation through workshops, case studies, panel discussions, Q&As and networking opportunities.

    The Program was developed by the University of Melbourne 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.

  • 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, and identify as a woman.
    • Hold an undergraduate and/or an honours, masters or doctoral degree* from a Victorian university;


    • Hold an undergraduate and/or an honours, masters or doctoral degree* from a university outside Victoria and have resided in Victoria for the last five years;


    • Be currently enrolled in a masters or doctoral degree* at a Victorian university

    *Eligibility waivers may be considered in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Selection Committee Chair, on the basis of a combination of qualifications and experience deemed to be equivalent to a degree.

  • How many participants will there be?

    In 2021, the program will accept up to 30 participants.

  • 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.

    Applications for the 2021 cohort of the Pathways to Politics Program for Women are now closed.

    All applications are reviewed by a Selection Steering Committee made up of representatives from the University of Melbourne, Trawalla Foundation and Program alumni. 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 and video pitch. The Selection Committee will also take diversity and equity into consideration.

  • When will I know if my application was successful?

    All applicants for the 2021 Program have now been notified.

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

    The Program is comprised of 10 modules, the majority held on Thursday evenings, with 2-3 modules offered intensively on Saturdays. The Program runs from mid-August and concludes in November, with breaks to account for school holidays.

  • 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.

  • How much does the Program cost?

    The Program is generously funded by the Trawalla Foundation and the University of Melbourne and offered FREE to selected participants. Participants must attend the Program in person. 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?

    We partnered with Our Community and applications were hosted on the SmartyGrants platform in 2021. The Pathways to Politics application is comprised of four sections:

    • Eligibility questions: these short questions help our Selection Committee to determine your eligibility for the program.
    • Scenario-based questions: these questions will help us understand more about your personal and professional leadership experience, political aspirations and commitment to run, and your engagement with Australian politics and policy. These questions have a 250-word limit.
    • CV: Please ensure your CV is no longer than three pages and includes three referees.
    • 90-second Video: this provides an opportunity for you to pitch what you will bring to the Program and what impact you can make in the political realm.

    The Program provides a safe space for women of diverse backgrounds, professions, cultures, and ideologies to fulfil their shared aspiration to pursue public office. In accepting a place in the Pathways to Politics Program for Women participants commit to the maintenance of a supportive and inclusive environment by agreeing to abide by the standards of behaviour outlined in the Program’s Code of Conduct.

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which we live and work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.