Pathways to Politics for Women at is increasing the number of women in Australian politics by equipping diverse women to boldly embrace their political ambitions, thrive as leaders and make a profound contribution to society.

Through comprehensive practical training, workshops, mentoring and career-long support, we provide unparalleled expertise for women who are serious about driving change through political leadership.

  • Benefit from Australia's most comprehensive and award-winning program
  • Learn to be the politician you want to be in a safe, inclusive space
  • Help shape Australia’s political landscape
  • Accessible, diverse and fully funded

The program is running for the fourth time in NSW in 2024, delivered by . It is hosted by the  at Law & Justice, with support from the at , the at the Business School, the , and the at Arts, Design and Architecture.

Pathways to Politics is an initiative of the Trawalla Foundation, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne. The proudly non-partisan programs are uniquely designed in collaboration with eight leading universities across Australia, tailored to each local context. You can find out more about the national network at .

Apply now

Applications close midnight 1 May 2024.

“The 2023 Pathways to Politics program provided the perfect opportunity to further develop my existing skillset and allowed me to feel empowered in venturing towards my goal of one day becoming a Member of Parliament. As a woman currently working in politics, I found the program was targeted, purpose-driven and gave me tangible skills and a strong support network to pursue a future in politics in a strategic and informed way. The program also expanded my current understanding and capabilities within the field to empower and help educate other women around me to chase their dreams of becoming an MP."

 - Savanna Peake, 2023 NSW program alum

Pathways to politics was an awakening for me. Although always passionate about politics, politicians and the machinations of governments, this program transformed me from being a passive to an active participant. I have joined the Greens Party and have nominated myself to be on the Greens ticket for the Local Government elections later this year. I am very excited and grateful.

- Lindall Watson, 2023 NSW program alum

’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

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 Federal Member for Reid

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 

In 2024 the NSW program is free for 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 2024 NSW program will run from 1 August to 6 September 2024. The program will be delivered through a mix of face-to-face and online modules: the sessions on 1, 2 & 3 August and 6 September will be held in-person in Sydney, while all other sessions will be delivered online on Wednesday 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
      Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Law & Justice,
    • Ms Sarah Buckley
      CEO of the Trawalla Foundation
    • Professor Rosalind Dixon
      Program Director, and Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law,
    • The Hon Courtney Houssos MLC
      Member of the NSW Legislative Council, Minister for Finance, Minister for Domestic Manufacturing and Government Procurement, and Minister for Natural Resources
    • Ms Jenny Leong MP
      Member for Newtown
    • Professor Justine Nolan
      Director of the Australian Human Rights Institute,
    • Ms Elisabeth Perham
      Lecturer, Faculty of Law & Justice,
    • Ms Liesl Tesch AM MP
      Member for Gosford
    • Scientia Professor Carla Treloar
      Director of the Social Policy Research Centre,
    • The Hon Gabrielle Upton MP
      Former Environment Minister and attorney-general
    • The Hon Leslie Williams MP
      Member for Port Macquarie and Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly
    • Mrs Helen Dalton MP
      Member of the Legislative Assembly and Member for Murray
  • What is Pathways to Politics for Women?

    Pathways to Politics for Women is increasing the number of women in Australian politics by equipping diverse women to boldly embrace their political ambitions, thrive as leaders and make a profound contribution to society.

    In the last eight years, Pathways to Politics has helped hundreds of women to run for office, and achieved 34 electoral successes nationally across the political spectrum and at all levels of government.

    Through comprehensive practical training, workshops, mentoring and career-long support, Pathways to Politics provides unparalleled expertise for women who are serious about driving change through political leadership.

    The proudly non-partisan programs are uniquely designed in collaboration with eight leading universities across Australia, tailored to each local context. Participants gain first-hand insights from prominent politicians, advisors, speechwriters, and media trainers to give them confidence and clarity about their future in politics in a safe, supportive environment.

    Programs are open to women across Australia. Program participation is fully funded through the generous support of philanthropic and university partners.

    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;
    • Identify as a woman; 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 other states and territories. 

    Note: Pathways to Politics embraces an inclusive definition of 'women', acknowledging the diversity of women we work with and aim to support, including cisgender and transgender women, and non-binary people.

    How many participants will there be?

    In 2024, 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 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 late-May 2024.

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

    The 2024 NSW program will run from 1 August to 6 September 2024. The program will be delivered through a mix of face-to-face and online modules: the sessions on 1, 2 & 3 August and 6 September will be held in-person in Sydney, while all other sessions will be delivered online on Wednesday 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. Video Pitch submission: a 90 second video outlining one issue you’re passionate about in politics and what you’re hoping to learn from Pathways to Politics and how you can contribute to the program

    6. 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.