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Louise Bennet
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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, Ms 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 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.
 
The University of Melbourne program is modelled on the 'From Harvard Square to the Oval Office' program, offered through the Kennedy School at Harvard University.
 
The 'Pathways to Politics Program for Women' will be based within the Melbourne School of Government, an interdisciplinary school that connects the University community with politicians, industry leaders and civil society organisations and provides a platform for informed, independent debate on contemporary policy and governance issues of great significance to the future of Australia and our region.


Director of the Melbourne School of Government, Professor Helen Sullivan, said the course was a non-partisan program encompassing seminars and guest speakers from across the political spectrum including public policy experts and leading figures in Australian political life.
 
"Program participants will learn from members of parliament, campaign strategists, advisors, consultants and elected officials and we anticipate that graduates of the US and Australian programs will form part of an international network of women in office," Professor Sullivan said.

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 the ‘Pathways to Politics Program for Women' will be open to University of Melbourne graduate students and alumni.  Prospective students can register for information online.