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CDU program opens pathways for Territory women to enter politics

[by Emily Bostock]


Women in the Northern Territory are being encouraged to apply for CDU’s Pathways to Politics Program for Women. Pictured: Last year’s graduates with Patron of the NT program The Hon Vicki O'Halloran AO, former Administrator of the Northern Territory.

Image: supplied

Women who aspire to shape the Northern Territory’s political sphere are being encouraged to apply for Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Pathways to Politics Program for women, a free leadership program that aims to increase women’s representation in all levels of government.

The Pathways to Politics Program for Women is a national, 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.

The program, run by CDU’s Northern Institute through the generous support of the Trawalla Foundation, is in its second year.  Last year’s inaugural program saw 11 Northern Territory women, including three First Nations women, graduate from the program.

Rosanna De Santis, 52, is a woman with blended Aboriginal (Tiwi Islands) and Italian heritage, born in Garramilla (Darwin) on Larrakia land, and has spent over 23 years working in the NT police service and nine years in local government at the Tiwi Islands Regional Council.

With ambitions to eventually contest Northern Territory elections, Ms De Santis attended the 2022 Pathway to Politics Program for Women and says it was instrumental in providing her with the confidence to enter politics.

“I have always admired female Indigenous political trail blazers like Marion Scrymgour and this program provided me with an opportunity to learn more and be prepared for what I might experience if I enter politics, “ Ms De Santis said.

“I was able to gain a greater understanding of what is involved with politics and how we can get our voices heard and it also provided me with wonderful connections and friendships.”

“It brings together a range of women with different backgrounds and political aspirations to help expand our networks and minds,” she said.

For other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, Ms De Santis encourages them to get involved in the program as an initial pathway for becoming part of Northern Territory politics.

“Have a crack and get involved, you won’t lose anything. You could have the opportunity to have a seat at the table and make a difference,” Ms De Santis said.

This year’s program will be held at the Northern Institute at CDU’s Casuarina Campus.

Participants will take part in workshops, panel discussions and Q and As with experienced female political leaders from all sides of politics, and a range of experts and leading figures in Australian political life.

During the program participants will also be exposed to a variety of experiences including learning about political values, policy making and speech writing, undertaking media and social media training and how to campaign and fundraise.

Director of the Northern Institute Professor Kim Humphery said the University was proud to offer this program and hopes to encourage women from all walks of life to take part.

“We are very proud of this program and how it is looking to change the face of politics in the Northern Territory,” Professor Humphery said.

“We are looking to build on the incredible work of last year’s program and hope to see more participants, particularly First Nations women from remote communities, take part in the program and forge a career path in politics.”

“I really encourage women who have an interest in entering politics to attend the program and help achieve gender equity and transform the nature of political debate,” she said.   

The Pathways to Politics Program is a national, non-partisan initiative of the Trawalla FoundationWomen’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne and is delivered in partnership with state and territory-based university partners.

CDU’s program is open to female-identifying and non-binary residents of the Northern Territory and is free for all attendees, with support available for travel and accommodation.

Applications to attend the program, which will be run in Darwin from September 11-15, 2023, are open now and will close on May 31, 2023. For more information or to apply for the program please go to the Pathways to Politics for Women website.


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