The first Australian university program to address the continued under-representation of women in parliament has been launched today by the Hon Julie Bishop MP, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Carol Schwartz AM and the University of Melbourne at Parliament House, Canberra.

The ‘Pathways to Politics Program for Women‘ will be delivered by the University of Melbourne to female graduate students and alumni, and is designed to provide the support and training necessary to aspire to elected office at local, state and national levels.

The Program was initiated and made possible by a generous donation from the Trawalla Foundation established by the Schwartz family.  The Foundation invests in social enterprises that demonstrate innovation and leadership in their area of social impact, such as the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

Ms Carol Schwartz AM, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, said that it was a privilege to contribute to the advancement of women in political life.

“Currently women occupy fewer than 30% of Australian parliamentary positions, which is considerably lower than our international counterparts.  So I am thrilled to be launching a non-partisan program designed to help bridge the gap,” Ms Schwartz said.

‘Pathways to Politics’ is modelled on the ‘From Harvard Square to the Oval Office‘ program, offered through the Kennedy School at Harvard University, and will be based within the Melbourne School of Government.

Participants will be given the opportunity to learn from members of parliament, campaign strategists, advisors, consultants and elected officials. It is anticipated that graduates of the US and Australian programs will form part of an international network of women in office.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis AC, said the program reflected the University’s commitment to support social change.

“The University is very excited to launch a program designed to ensure women are encouraged and supported in their contribution to public debate and well represented in government roles,” said the Vice-Chancellor.

In its first year, ‘Pathways to Politics’ will be open to University of Melbourne graduate students and alumni.

Prospective students can register for information online.