QUT’s Pathways to Politics Program for Women is a proudly non-partisan initiative that aims to change the face of politics by equipping women with the skills, knowledge, confidence and networks they need to run for elected office and thrive as political leaders.

An initiative of the Trawalla Foundation, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne, our program is a part of a national Pathways to Politics partnership that seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in Australian politics.

Pathways to Politics brings together significant expertise and experience from across Australia’s political spectrum. We will provide you with networking opportunities and practical training that emphasises good governance, ethics, and leadership. We are committed to diversity and to supporting a strong and inclusive cohort culture to equip you with the skills, knowledge, confidence and networks to run for elected office.

Virtual info session

Join us on 21 March for a lunchtime virtual information session to hear more about the program and to ask any questions you have.

Register here

National program

See the national program and network of universities, plus the online Knowledge Hub for practical tools, information and inspiration to help you in your run for public office.

Explore the program

Support the program

Your donation to support emerging female politicians to attend the program would be greatly appreciated.

Donate to Pathways

What you'll learn

The program aims to provide women the opportunity to gain the skills and networks to reach elected office at local, state and national levels. These skills include:

  • understanding politics
  • articulating your personal leadership vision
  • developing resilience
  • building your base
  • speech writing
  • media training
  • understanding policy making
  • campaigning.

Set the agenda, lead the conversation

The QUT Pathways to Politics Program for Women is delivered over three months and is comprised of three 2-day workshops, held at the Executive Education Centre Gardens Point Campus in Brisbane, four virtual classrooms, access to an online learning platform, networking functions and coaching sessions.

Each workshop is structured around hands-on training and networking, including panels and conversation sessions with women elected to office in local, state, and federal government. Guest presenters include politicians, pollsters, public speaking professionals, campaign strategists, advisors, public policy experts, and leading figures in Australian political and public life.

Over the course of the program, you will work towards understanding your motivations to run, build your political vision develop key skills in media, campaigning and fundraising, and have a ‘real world’ experience delivering your stump speech in parliament.

Program outline

Module 1: Building your political career

  • making the decision to run
  • navigating the parliamentary workplace culture
  • creating your own story and political vision
  • party machines and pre-selection
  • building your base

Module 2: Becoming the strongest candidate

  • writing and making an inspiring speech
  • campaigns and fundraising
  • networking
  • the role of economists in creating policy
  • media training

Module 3: Becoming a political leader

  • getting the work of parliament done
  • ethical dilemmas
  • political leadership
  • wellbeing
  • speeches in parliament

Is this program right for me

This program has been designed to benefit women who aspire to elected office and have started their journey. The program provides a safe space for women of diverse backgrounds, professions, cultures, and ideologies to fulfil their shared aspiration to pursue public office.

QUT's Pathways to Politics Program for Women is open to female Queensland residents and aims to inspire and empower participants to lead our country into the future.

If you are not eligible for this program because you are not resident in QLD, you may be eligible for our partner programs in the other states. Please visit Changing the face of politics - Pathways to Politics.

Eligibility guidelines

To be eligible for the program you must be an Australian citizen/Australian permanent resident/holder of a permanent Humanitarian Visa, female-identifying or non-binary in gender identification, and a Queensland resident.

Participants will be selected on a competitive basis against the following criteria:

  • commitment to seeking elected office
  • leadership experience
  • professional and life experience
  • political engagement
  • ability to tell your story in a compelling way

Equity criteria

Pathways to Politics for Women 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 LGBTQIA+
  • 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
  • coming from a rural, regional or isolated area.

Register interest

2023 program

Application process

Applications will open in early 2023 and are submitted via an online platform, accessible via the QUT and National program websites. Applicants will be asked to complete a set of eligibility questions, and scenario-based questions, and submit a current CV and a 90-second pitch video.

All applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee, which places a strong emphasis on multi-partisanship and equity in selection and seeks a cohort of women with diverse life and professional experiences.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application at the end of the selection process.

2023 application dates

  • Applications open – March 2023
  • Lunchtime information session – March 2023
  • Applications close – April 2023
  • Selection process – April/May 2023
  • Applicants notified of outcome – June 2023

2023 program dates

QUT’s 2023 Pathways to Politics Program for Women will be held between July – October in 2023. Workshop dates will be confirmed prior to applications opening.

Your commitment: Program participants are expected to attend all 3 two-day workshops held in Brisbane and the 4 virtual classrooms

Cost: The costs of attending the program are covered thanks to the support of our generous donors. This includes travel and accommodation expenses for participants not located in and around Brisbane.

Register interest: to be notified of when applications open, please register your interest.

Contact us: If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Pathways team.

Advisory committee

Hon Mary Crawford

From 1994-1996 Mary was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government.

Ufficiale Hon Teresa Gambaro

Teresa Gambaro has an extensive career portfolio across both the private and public sectors. Her consulting services are sought after by corporate boards, private corporations, non-Government organisations, entrepreneur start-ups and community groups.

Mrs Linda Lavarch

Linda Lavarch is a former Australian politician and solicitor. She was a Labor Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland from 1997-2009.

Ms Sarah Buckley, Executive Officer, Trawalla Foundation

Sarah brings fifteen years of leadership experience in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, focused on social innovation and investment.

Professor Robina Xavier, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education), QUT

Professor Xavier has more than 25 years’ experience in the tertiary sector including serving as Executive Dean, QUT Business School.

Professor Vicky Browning, School of Management, Faculty of Business and Law, QUT

Professor Vicky Browning is a qualified organisational psychologist and executive coach specialising in leadership and human resource development.

Ms Sally Dillon, Corporate Communication Officer, QUT

A graduate of QUT’s inaugural Pathways to Politics Program for Women in 2020, Sally Dillon ran for election in the Brisbane ward of Coorparoo in the local government elections the same year.

Support the program

In a state as large as Queensland, it can often be difficult for those not living in the southeast corner to attain the same training and resources as their city counter parts, due to the costs to travel.

As part of QUT’s commitment to helping increase diverse female representation in all levels of government, across our wonderful state, all costs to participants on the QUT Pathways to Politics Program for Women are waived. This is achieved by our wonderful donors who help cover costs like flights, accommodation, catering and in person workshops.

Your donation can help Queensland women to access training and the skills to equip them to succeed in being elected to public office to lead our country in the future.


Program history

Pathways to Politics Program for Women Queensland is part of a national network of independent programs based at Australian universities modelled on the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, which was launched by the University of Melbourne in 2016 in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, and Trawalla Foundation.

The foundation University of Melbourne program was developed 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.

Pathways to Politics has realised significant impact in advancing female political participation since it launched in 2016. We now have over 300 alums nationally, a majority of whom intend to run for elected office in the next ten years, and 27 electoral successes achieved nationally already, across the political spectrum at local, state and federal levels of government.

We are grateful for the assistance of the University of Melbourne, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the Trawalla Foundation in developing the Queensland program. Since then, we have been joined by UNSW in 2021 and Charles Darwin University in 2022. The University of Adelaide and University of Canberra will launch their inaugural programs in 2023, and more states will follow over time. The program partners are proud to work collaboratively to increase women’s representation in politics across Australia.

Find out more about the Pathways to Politics national network at pathwaystopolitics.org.au.

Founding partners

University partners

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