Pathways to Politics has realised significant impact in advancing female political participation since it launched in 2016, with 21 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 approximately 15 alums will be running in the forthcoming 2022 Victorian state election.
In only six years, the University of Melbourne Pathways to Politics Program for Women has created meaningful pathways to electoral success for the following alums.
Program alum elected to state government
- Juliana Addison MP, Member for Wendouree
- Cathrine Burnett-Wake MLC, Member of the Legislative Council for the Eastern Victoria Region
- Kat Theophanous MP, Member for Northcote
- Bridget Vallence MP, Member for Evelyn
Program alum elected to federal government
- Katie Allen MP, former Member for Higgins
Program alum elected to local government
- Cr Stephanie Amir, City of Darebin (2016—2020)
- Cr Olivia Ball, City of Melbourne
- Cr Jenna Davey-Burns, Deputy Mayor of Kingston City
- Cr Jasmine Hill, Deputy Mayor of Wyndham City
- Cr Alida McKern, City of Banyule
- Cr Sarah Mansfield, City of Greater Geelong (elected in 2016 and 2020)
- Cr Susanne Newton, City of Darebin (elected in 2016 and 2020)
- Cr Tina Samardzija, Deputy Mayor of Monash City
Many others have stood for election and pre-selection.
Testimonials from program participants and presenters
“We need more women in government and in the ministry because women change the conversation. But 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."
- Dr Katie Allen, Member for Higgins and successful program alum
"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, Member for Wendouree and successful program alum
"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. It was inspiring and motivating to hear from the women that had made it before. They told us what it was really like, but why we should do it anyway."
- Cr. Susanne Newton, Darebin City Councillor and successful program alum
“A fabulous and vitally important program providing women from a variety of backgrounds with the tools and the confidence to have a go and get elected. The program is candid about how challenging it is being in politics, and how women regardless of political persuasion experience common challenges, but can work together to break down these barriers.”
– Bridget Vallence, Member for Evelyn and successful program alum
"The power of the program for me was normalising the idea of running. With the support and knowledge of like-minded women, I could focus on how to win."
- Cr Tina Samardzija, Deputy Mayor of Monash City Council and successful program alum
"It's critical that we have more women making decisions at all levels of government to take us to a stronger, more inclusive future. Pathways to Politics is a brilliant and clever program designed to equip women for election and build their networks so they can be the change makers we so urgently need."
- Helen Haines MP, Independent Federal Member for Indi
"We talk a lot about getting more women to run for public office but unless we equip them with the skills they need to nominate and win, it’s never going to change. And to be honest, the talk has gone on for long enough. This is the Program that makes change happen."
- Peta Credlin, Former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Tony Abbott
“The Pathways to Politics program is ground-breaking – it doesn’t just encourage women to pursue a career in politics, it equips them to do so. The diversity, smarts, and enthusiasm of the participants fills me with hope for the future of politics in Australia.”
- Danielle Wood, CEO, Grattan Institute
"Women are standing up and driving change around the world. From the #MeToo movement to action on climate change, women are at the forefront and leading the way. The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is so important to support and encourage women entering politics, and to continue to elevate their voices in our parliament. I am proud to support this great initiative."
- Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
"The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is an extraordinary program, playing a critical role in helping achieve gender equity in our parliaments. It gives women a set of tools and insights that are invaluable in pursuing elected office."
- Ben Hubbard, Former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Julia Gillard
"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."
- Cr Vonda Malone, Mayor, Torres Strait Shire
"The Pathways to Politics Program is a great opportunity for women thinking about a role in public life to be part of a unique and immersive experience through which they gain new skills, knowledge and develop confidence."
- Samantha Ratnam, Parliamentary Leader, Victorian Greens