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Holly Bennett
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Three Fellows from the Melbourne School of Government’s Pathways to Politics for Women Program have been elected inthe 2018 Victorian election. 

Pathways Fellows Juliana Addison, Kat Theophanous and Bridget Vallence have all won their seats in the lower house.

The seat of Brunswick, where Fellow Cindy O’Connor is running, is currently too close to call. A three-way contest in Prahran, where Fellow Katie Allen is running, is also undecided.

Launched in Canberra by Tanya Plibersek MP and Julie Bishop MP in 2015, Pathways to Politics for Women is a non-partisan program that aims to equip women from diverse backgrounds with the skills, networks and confidence they need to seek elected office at a federal, state or local level.

Melbourne School of Government Director John Howe said the success of the Fellows is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the candidates. 

“Eight Pathways to Politics Fellows ran as candidates in the Victorian election and we are incredibly proud of their achievements,” Professor Howe said.

“To have three, possibly more, Fellows elected to the Victorian Parliament, is a great result and an important step in addressing the under-representation of women in politics.”
The result builds on previous successes, with three Fellows having already been elected to local government and several others having run in other elections and by-elections since the program’s launch. 

Pathways to Politics for Women is an initiative of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA), made possible by a donation to the University of Melbourne from the Trawalla Foundation established by the Schwartz family. 

WLIA Founding Chair Carol Schwartz said she was elated with the result.

“Addressing the issue of women’s under-representation in politics is the goal of our program and seeing the fruits of the hard work put in by our Fellows at a state level is very rewarding,” Ms Schwartz said.

“The announcement of a Victorian cabinet being made up of 50 per cent women is confirmation that this is an issue gaining traction and one we hope to address on a national level.”  

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women Fellows who have so far been successful the 2018 Victorian election are:

  • Juliana Addison (ALP) – Wendouree District
  • Kat Theophanous (ALP) – Northcote District
  • Bridget Vallence (Liberal) – Evelyn District.

Ms Addison said the program armed her with the skills, understanding and support to run for Parliament.

“I was undertaking the program during the Wendouree preselection process during 2017 and it made such a difference to have women, like Carol Schwartz, encourage me to stand,” Ms Addison said.

“The program also gave me the confidence and self-belief throughout the election campaign, that I could win with hard work and determination.”

Pathways to Politics for Women is free for successful applicants. Prospective participants can view the eligibility requirements and apply at: government.unimelb.edu.au. 

Key dates for the 2019 program will be announced early next year.