In Australia, women are still significantly underrepresented across all levels of politics, in business and other positions of influence.

Our vision

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.

Now in its fifth year, and open to all female graduates of Victorian universities from 2020, the Program is a non-partisan initiative borne out of a partnership between the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, Trawalla Foundation and Melbourne School of Government at the University of Melbourne. In 2020 the Program is free of cost for the 30 successful applicants, who will be selected on a competitive basis.

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is modelled on the Kennedy School'sFrom Harvard Square to the Oval Office' program at Harvard University. In 2019 Queensland University of Technology also launched a 'Pathways to Politics' program, and other states also have programs currently in development.

For more than 20 years I've been passionate about improving the quality of leadership and decision making in Australia. Sadly, Australia continues to suffer from a chronic underrepresentation of women in leadership positions and currently ranks as 51st in the world when it comes to the representation of women in government. Carol Schwartz AO, Chair, Trawalla Foundation
It has been wonderful to see the program's practical outcomes and the positive impact it’s had on the conversation around representation of women in parliament. This year we are very pleased to invite female graduates from across Victoria to apply for this valuable opportunity. Professor Duncan Maskell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne

The testimonials below from 2019 participants speak to the value of the program to women from across the political spectrum who aspire to elected office.

  • "Life changing. Thank you for giving me the confidence to do this and run"
  • "What a SENSATIONAL program - a gift, an honour to participate, flawless execution, intellectually stimulating, wonderfully organised, inspiring and life changing!"
  • "This program really has changed my life. I started off feeling so unworthy but now I feel confident, capable, valued and supported. This is a truly marvellous program. Thank you so much for making it happen"


The program features guest presenters from across the political spectrum including politicians (both sitting and retired), public speaking professionals, media and campaign strategists, advisors, public policy experts, and leading figures in Australian political and public life.

Each session is structured around hands-on training and mentorship, including conversation sessions with women elected to office from across local, state and federal government. This executive program provides hard skills training coupled with an emphasis on good governance, leadership and fostering strong bonds between fellows.

One of the greatest benefits of the Pathways program is being forewarned about the preselection process and an election campaign, because being prepared and skilled up is half of the victory. 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, 2017 alumni and Member for Wendouree
Partnership and funding