Pathways to Politics for Women

Changing the face of politics

Pathways to Politics for Women at the University of Tasmania

Tasmania has a unique political landscape, from its Hare-Clark electoral system to the 29 local councils that serve its regionalised population. The challenges faced by our island state require a robust and truly representative democracy. It has never been more important for us to encourage women, from all kinds of backgrounds, to bring their perspectives to our municipal councils and state and federal parliaments.

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.

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.

The program will be led by the College of Arts, Law and Education.

The Program

Our proudly non-partisan program is uniquely designed in collaboration between the University of Tasmania and seven other leading universities across Australia, tailored to the Tasmanian 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.

  • 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

Pathways to Politics is an initiative of the Trawalla Foundation, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne. You can find out more about the national network at Pathways to Politics for Women.

“My advice to women aspiring to politics is, if you can apply for the Pathways to Politics program, absolutely do it. You get to learn from amazing guest speakers and you get practical advice and training. You also connect with a group of women who will become your advisors, confidantes and friends."

Danielle Kidd, 2017 Pathways to Politics for Women Tasmanian alum

“Our democratic institutions should reflect our community to ensure we all have a voice within the decision-making arms of our society. Yet it can seem impossible for some people who have not grown up in political families, parties or activist groups to see themselves within the hallowed halls of power. It can be a long and lonely road that’s difficult to navigate without networks, mentors and the tools to help realise your ambition. It can even be harder for women who have traditionally not had access to the same wealth as men to fund campaigns. Pathways to politics helps to break down those barriers and give you the knowledge and the confidence to put yourself forward for leadership positions."

Hon. Lara Giddings AO

“For our political system to perform better, and to properly reflect our community, we need more women in our parliaments and in key political roles. Gender equality in decision-making contributes to better governance, and government, and leads to improved trust and confidence in our public institutions. And we can always do with more of that. I was committed as a male political leader to find more ways to encourage and support women into political leadership, and this program is an exciting new way to do that.”

Hon. Will Hodgman

“If ever we needed an injection of commitment to change, and the energy to pursue it in parliaments around Australia, it is now. To break open established networks of power and influence, inside and outside the party system, and to serve the needs of a diverse community, we need more women of diverse backgrounds and life experience elected. Not only is that the fair thing to do, it is the thing that will drive change and bolster our democratic system of government.”

Former Senator Christine Milne

Programs are open to women across Australia. Program participation is fully funded through the generous support of the Trawalla Foundation.

Pathways to Politics is an initiative of the Trawalla Foundation, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne. We’re proud to be working collaboratively with partners across the national Pathways to Politics network who share our mission to change the face of politics in Australia. You can find out more about the national network on the Pathways to Politics for Women website.

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.

Advisory Committee

Headshot of Kate Darian-Smith

Professor Kate Darian-Smith is Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania, and Chair of the University’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Working Group.

Kate has published widely on Australia’s history, and is passionate about the need for gender and diversity to drive Australia’s political, social and economic future.

She has held leadership positions at the universities of London and Melbourne; and held numerous government appointments, including on the  Board of the Australia-Japan Foundation, DFAT; the Council, Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House; the College of Experts, Australian Research Council.

Kate is on the Executive, and will be President (from 2025), of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Sarah is a strategic leader with over seventeen years’ business leadership experience in social innovation, gender equity, ESG integration and responsible investing.

Sarah is currently Chief of Staff for Carol Schwartz AO and CEO of the Trawalla Foundation, and she is the National Co-Convenor of Pathways to Politics for Women.

Sarah has been a sought-after sustainability consultant to major Australian companies, led PwC's award-winning Corporate Responsibility team, and held senior roles creating innovative new businesses including PwC’s Indigenous Consulting.

Katy is an experienced facilitator with a strong background in strategy, futures thinking and systems design.

Her extensive career includes work within financial services, retail, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit service and health providers, education and local government. Katy runs a successful consulting business and is a director on numerous boards including St Lukes Health.

She also facilitates the Tasmanian Leaders flagship leadership program. Katy is a passionate Tasmanian who is dedicated to building the capability and capacity for Tasmania to adapt to uncertain and complex futures.

Headshot of Kate Huntington

Kate Huntington is a strategic engagement and communications executive with extensive expertise in driving transformational change.

She commenced her career in the Australian Public Service working in Indigenous policy roles in Canberra and the Northern Territory and was an adviser to the Hon Jenny Macklin MP during the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Since Kate joined the University in 2015, her roles have included Communications Manager for the Northern Transformation Program and Director of Government Relations.

As Executive Director, Strategic Communications, Kate oversees the University’s approach to internal and external communications, government relations and stakeholder engagement.

Headshot of Lara Giddings

Lara Giddings AO was born in Papua New Guinea in 1972. Her interest in politics began at the tender age of three, so it is perhaps not surprising that after completing her high school years, she studied Arts and Law at the University of Tasmania, while also campaigning for her first State election.

In 1996, she became the youngest woman ever elected to an Australian Parliament, serving as a Shadow Minister. She worked as the Whips Clerk in the Senate, overseas for a Scottish Member of Parliament and then back in Tasmania in the Premier’s office before being re-elected in the seat of Franklin, previously held by her mentor, Hon. Fran Bladel. Lara held the portfolios of Attorney-General, Health and Treasury before becoming Tasmania’s first female Premier, a role she held from 2011 to 2014.

She retired from parliament in 2018 after giving birth to her first child, Natasha, and became the CEO of AMA Tasmania in March 2019.

Headshot of Will Hodgman

Will Hodgman was Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore (2020-2023) and prior to that Premier of Tasmania (2014-2020).

In addition to serving as Premier, Will held numerous Ministerial positions in the Tasmanian Government, including Attorney-General, Tourism, Aboriginal Affairs, Prevention of Family Violence, Parks, Heritage, the Arts, Sport and Recreation.

Will was a Member of the Tasmanian Parliament for 18 years, and leader of the Liberal Party for 14 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Tasmania. Will was appointed as an Adjunct Professor, University of Tasmania, in 2023.

Headshot of Danielle Kidd

Born and raised in Burnie, Danielle Kidd has worked in Tasmania and interstate in the public service and the higher education sector.

Danielle has significant experience in community engagement, stakeholder relationship management, strategic planning and operational delivery of programs.

As a strong advocate for the North West region, Danielle has established place-based and community-led responses to local challenges.

Danielle is an alum of the second Pathways to Politics program, in 2017, and was a candidate in the 2018 State election in the electorate of Braddon.

Headshot of Christine Milne

Christine Milne AO is one of Australia's most experienced and respected environmental and community activists and parliamentarians.

Christine was elected as an independent to the Tasmanian parliament in 1989 and became the first woman to lead a political party in Tasmania in 1993. She was elected to the Senate in 2004, deputy leader of the Greens in 2008 and leader in April 2012.

Christine is currently an ambassador for the Global Greens and the Australian Invasive Species Council; patron of the Australian Smart Energy Council, Bob Brown Foundation and Justice Reform Initiative; a board member of Wilderness Australia; and an advisory board member to the US-based Climate Accountability Institute, Solar Heads of State, The Borneo Project and Associate of the Sydney University Democracy Network. She is convenor of the Lake Pedder restoration Committee.

Who Can Apply

Programs are open to women across Australia. Program participation is fully funded through the generous support of the Trawalla Foundation. More information about how to apply is available at Pathways to Politics for Women expressions of interest.

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.

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