University of Melbourne encourages women in Victoria to join politics

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Participants of this programme have moved on to take on office in state and local levels.

By U2B Staff 

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The University of Melbourne has officially opened its prestigious Pathways to Politics Program for Women to women graduates from universities across the Victoria region to further instil an interest in careers and leadership roles in politics.

Running for its fifth year, this non-partisan programme is now open for applications for its 2020 intake. For the very first time, this intake will be extended to accept applications from female graduates from all Victorian universities. 

This ambitious initiative is done in partnership between the Melbourne School of Government, the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, and the Trawalla Foundation


It aims to equip female graduates from various industries, backgrounds and interests with the skills, confidence and networks to seek elected office at Federal, State and Local levels.

“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,” said University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell.

The programme was funded through a donation to the University of Melbourne from the Trawalla Foundation, established by the Schwartz family. 

In order to form a concise programme aimed at empowering women in politics, the programme was modelled after Harvard University’s ‘From Harvard Square to the Oval Office’. 

After five years since inception, many former participants of the programme now hold political roles across Australia. 

The programme will involve various lectures and workshops by key leaders in politics. Source: wocintechat/Unsplash.

“I strongly believe that our representative Parliament should look like us, therefore ideally it should have 50 percent men and 50 percent women. Women experience and interact with the world differently to men. That experience and perspective shapes the way a person contributes to leadership. Equal representation would shape culture, decision-making, collaboration, and ultimately reflect community issues in a more fulsome way,” said Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and Trawalla Foundation chair Carol Schwartz. 

“As Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the Trawalla Foundation, I am very proud to support this non-partisan program in partnership with the University of Melbourne. From launching the pilot program in 2015 to the program’s expansion today, it is deeply gratifying to see its impact supporting women who aspire to ascend into political leadership and better support their community.”

“One of the greatest benefits of the Pathways to Politics Program is being forewarned about the preselection process and an election campaign, because being prepared and skilled up is half of the victory,” added member of the 2017 cohort of Pathways to Politics Juliana Addison.

“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.”


As of now, the programme has already supported almost 100 participants to run for office and at least seven to be elected across various roles in state, federal and local levels of government. 

The 2020 programme is expected to have 30 participants and will feature various presentations and workshops from key leading political and public figures across the nation. 

The programme will run from 25 July to 5 November 2020. Applications are open until 1 April 2020. Prospective applicants can apply for the programme on the Melbourne School of Government’s website.