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Northern Institute

Pathways to Politics for Women NT

Changing the face of politics

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Pathways to Politics Cohort and Politicians


Pathways to Politics for Women at CDU's Northern Institute is increasing the number of women in Australian politics by equipping diverse women to embrace their political ambitions boldly, thrive as community leaders, and profoundly contribute to society.

Through comprehensive practical training, workshops, mentoring and career-long support, we provide unparalleled expertise for women serious about driving change through political leadership.

  • 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

The program is fully funded through the generous support of philanthropic and university partners and includes sessions on Political Values, Media Training, Campaigning & Fundraising, Social Media, Policy-Making, Speech Writing, Effective Communication and Leadership. 


Previous participants have gained entry into the program through a competitive application process, and the participants selected for each year demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership potential in their respective fields.

Who can apply?

NI's program is open to female-identifying and non-binary residents of the NT. You will become part of an extensive, supportive national network of diverse and highly motivated women from various political,  professional,  and cultural backgrounds, all dedicated to making a tangible difference in the political landscape. There is no cost to participate in this program.

Guest presenters from across the political spectrum feature throughout the program, including politicians (both sitting and retired), pollsters, public speaking professionals, campaign strategists, advisors, public policy experts, and leading figures in Australian political and public life.

"For more than 20 years I've been passionate about improving the quality of leadership and decision making in Australia. Sadly, Australia continues to suffer from a chronic underrepresentation of women in leadership positions and currently ranks as 51st in the world when it comes to the representation of women in government." - Carol Schwartz AO, Chair, Trawalla Foundation

Pathways to Politics was initiated through the vision of Carol Schwartz AO, Chair of the Trawalla Foundation, who fundamentally believes in the value of more female leaders.

For Carol, this is about optimising outcomes for our country by ensuring that men and women share power, leadership and decision-making.

Eligibility Guidelines

To be eligible for the program, you must be a female Australian citizen/Australian permanent resident/holder of a permanent Humanitarian Visa and resident of the Northern Territory. 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.

Participants will be selected on a competitive basis against the following criteria:

  • Commitment to seeking elected office.
  • Leadership experience.
  • Professional and life experience.
  • Political engagement.
  • Ability to tell your story compellingly.
Equity Criteria

Pathways to Politics for Women is committed to minimising barriers to entering politics. As such, applicants identified by the selection committee as coming from an equity cohort will be prioritised.

To be eligible to apply for a position in this equity category, applicants must satisfy the application selection criteria and also meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Identify as LGBTQIA+
  • Previous status as a refugee or current holder of a humanitarian visa
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse background
  • Disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances
  • Disability or chronic medical condition
  • Difficult personal circumstances
  • Coming from a rural or isolated area.

The Pathways to Politics for Women Program is FREE, but you must apply to be considered. 

Previous Programs and Participants



The 2024 program was in person at Darwin at Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University Casuarina Campus. 
Dates: Monday, 3 June, until Friday, 7 June (one-week intensive format). 


NT 2024 Cohort: Imelda Adamson Adams, Sara Battye, Zena Cowen, Jane Davies, Yolanda Kanyai, Sasha King, Amanda Kingdon, Belinda Kolstad, Lenny, Veronica Matipira and Sara-Jane Saltmarsh. 

Eleven participants were selected in 2024, with three women running as independent candidates in the 2024 election. The cohort had fantastic representation for multicultural and rural communities in the Northern Territory. 

NI P2PNT 2024 Cohort


The 2023 program was in-person at Darwin at Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University Casuarina Campus. 
Dates: Monday, 11 September, until Friday, 15 September (one-week intensive format). 


NT 2023 Cohort: Anika Alam, Suki Dorras-Walker, Rana Everett, Lavinia Gaff, Sunny Liu, Tanya Moran, Deanne Rioli, Nicole Sabamba, Jacqueline Taylor, Laurie Zio

Eleven participants were selected in 2023, a significant achievement given that this is only the program's second year in the Northern Territory. The group is professionally diverse, including participants from the government, corporate sector, and business sectors.

Six cohort members are not affiliated with a political party, followed by NT Greens Party (2), ALP (1), CLP (1), and Independent (1). The cohort consists of women from diverse cultural, language and geographic backgrounds. Two cohort members identify as First Nations Australians.

Pathways to Politics NT 2023 Cohort Graduation


The 2022 program was in-person at Darwin at Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University Casuarina Campus. 
Dates: Thursday, 13 October, until Friday, 9 December (8-week part-time format).

Pathways to Politics Program for Women NT 2022 Participant Pack (link available soon)


NT 2022 Cohort: Georgie Corrie, Ellie Cuthbert, Genevieve Dally, Rosanna De Santis, Aiya Goodrich Carttling, Sibella Hare Breidahl, Peta Haughey, Asta Hill, Anjana Pant Baral, Emily Raso, Jade Ritchie, Rose-Anna Selhorst

Twelve participants were selected, a significant achievement given that it was the first year the program had run in the Northern Territory. The group is professionally diverse and includes government, corporate sector, and small business participants. 

Most of the 2022 cohort were members of a political party, ALP (5), the NT Greens Party (3); one cohort member was independent, and three were unaligned at the commencement of the Program. The cohort consisted of women from diverse cultures, languages and geographic backgrounds. Three cohort members identified as First Nations Australians. 

Pathways to Politics Program for Women NT 2022 Cohort at Graduation


Deanne Rioli, Pathways to Politics for Women NT Graduate (2003)


“My goals have changed, I originally said I wouldn’t run for council, well today I nominated for council. It’s hard to explain but the influence, support I received from the other participants has sparked something in me.”  

Deanne Rioli (2023 Graduate)


Deanne was elected as a Council Member for Tiwi Islands Regional Council, Pirlangimpi Ward, in September '23.

Nicole Sabamba, Pathways to Politics Program for Women NT Graduate (2023)


“Just want to say again how awesome this experience was and will continue to be. The program facilitators at CDU were also amazing, so too were the speakers. It is a great program that will continue to positively influence and support the pathway to politics for women.”

Nicole Sabamba (2023 Graduate)

Advisory Committee

The Program Advisory Committee provides strategic oversight and ensures the continuation of the Program's quality and agility. 

The Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO during the 2023 Graduation Day.

Our Patron

We sincerely appreciate that the Honourable Vicki O'Halloran AO, former Administrator of the Northern Territory (2017-2023), is Patron of our Pathways to Politics Program for Women in the Northern Territory.  

Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO
Honorable Vicki O’Halloran AO

Patron – The Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO

The Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO was sworn in as the 22nd Administrator of the Northern Territory on 31 October 2017, completing her service on 31 January 2023.

Prior to her appointment as Administrator of the Northern Territory, Her Honour was Chief Executive Officer of Somerville Community Services. She has been a member of various boards and committees locally and nationally. Her Honour was Chair of National Disability Services Northern Territory, serving as National President of National Disability Services from 2012-2015, and Chair of the Northern Territory Government Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability Reform.

Honourable Sally Thomas AC
Honourable Sally Thomas AC

Her Honour the Honourable Sally Thomas AC first came to the Northern Territory in 1978 to take up an appointment as Stipendiary Magistrate. Her Honour served as Magistrate and then Chief Magistrate of the Northern Territory from 1986 to 1992. Her Honour was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory from 1992 to 2009; the first female Judge in the Northern Territory. 

Her Honour has a strong interest in the tertiary education of Territorians and was a Deputy Chairman of the Northern Territory College of Queensland University and then a Member of the Northern Territory University Council from 1989 to 2003. In 2003, Her Honour was appointed to the Council of Charles Darwin University and elected Deputy Chancellor. Successively in 2010, Her Honour was appointed Chancellor of the University, a position she held until 2016.

In October 2011, Her Honour was sworn in as the 20th and first female Administrator of the Northern Territory. Her term concluded in October 2014.

In January 2014, Her honour was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the people of the Northern Territory, particularly to the judiciary and social justice, to the advancement of women in the legal profession, to youth, and to the promotion and development of tertiary education.

Honourable Lauren Jane Moss MLA 
Honourable Lauren Jane Moss MLA

The Honourable Lauren Moss is a Northern Territory politician. She has been the Labor member for Casuarina in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly since 2014. She is the youngest ever member of the Northern Territory Parliament. Prior to entering politics she was a youth advocate.

Born in Crewe in the United Kingdom, Moss has lived in the Northern Territory since emigrating to Australia in 1999. She has a Bachelor of Business from Charles Darwin University and Monash University. Before entering politics, she ran a small business and worked in mental health services.

She won an Excellence in Youth Leadership award at the NT Young Achiever Awards and the NT Pride of Australia Young Leader Medal. She was also a finalist in the NT Young Australian of the Year, Darwin City Council Young Citizen of the Year and the Australian Woman's Weekly Women of the Future.

She is currently the NT Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Security; NT Minister for Equality and Inclusion; NT Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention; NT Minister for Seniors; NT Minister for Youth. 

Kezia Purick 
Kezia Purick

Kezia Purick is an independent member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, having held her seat of Goyder since the 2008 election.

Prior to entering Parliament, Purick was the CEO of the NT Minerals Council for 16 years. Originally elected as a member of the Country Liberal Party, she became an independent in 2015.

She served as Speaker of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly since the CLP's victory in the 2012 Territory election, a post she retained after leaving the CLP.

Following Territory Labor's landslide victory at the 2016 Territory election, the new Labor government retained Purick as Speaker. She resigned as speaker on 23 June 2020.

Jo Hersey 
Jo Hersey

Jo Hersey is a member for the electoral division of Katherine in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly.

Hersey was born in Adelaide, but moved to the Northern Territory when she was young. The family returned to Adelaide after a few years, but Hersey returned to Katherine after she married. Before being elected, she was a hairdresser, continuing a family tradition that stretched back 3 generations.

In the 2020 Northern Territory general election Hersey won a close race in the seat of Katherine to be elected to Legislative Assembly for the Country Liberal Party.

Maree Bredhauer
Maree Bredhauer

Maree Bredhauer has over 40 years’ experience in school, corporate and community leadership - in primary school and early childhood settings across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in the Northern Territory. Maree’s experience includes 14 years as primary school principal, six years as executive manager of a large not-for-profit organisation and six years in an elected position in local government as Mayor of Litchfield Municipality.

Maree has a long-term commitment to promoting leadership development, community participation and engagement and advocacy to ensure quality, social justice and equity in early intervention, and disability access.

Sarah Buckley
Sarah Buckley

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 co-leads Pathways to Politics Program for Women nationally. 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.

Professor Ruth Wallace
Professor Ruth Wallace

Professor Wallace is the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Arts and Society (CDU) and the former Director of Northern Institute.

Ruth’s research interests relate to the links between identity, marginalised learners and the development of effective learning and workforce development pathways. This work is situated in regional and remote areas of Northern Australia and Indonesia, with a specific focus in research approaches to improve service delivery and adaptation, undertaken with Aboriginal people in remote and regional areas.

Ruth’s research connects to digital systematic learning pedagogies, and approaches to workforce development through remote based enterprises.

Ruth is a leader in workforce development and focuses on collaborative approaches to engagement with community, governments and industry that are sustainable and scalable. Ruth has extensive experience in educational practice development and as a teacher at all educational level.

Professor Kim Humphery
Professor Kim Humphery Director Northern Institute CDU

Kim is Director of the Northern Institute, CDU and previous to that held various senior positions at RMIT University – as a Deputy and Associate Dean of Research and as Director of the Centre for Applied Social Research.

Kim is an interdisciplinary academic, originally trained in politics, social theory, HPS and history but predominantly working in the domain of sociology (and is incoming Vice-President of The Australian Sociological Association 2023-24).

Internationally, Kim is best known for her work on the socio-cultural and political dimensions of consumption and material life. She also has worked extensively on social and cultural aspects of Indigenous health (in the NT and Victoria) and on cross-cultural research ethics. Over the last two decades, Kim has published widely in these fields, has held a number of Australian Research Council grants, and has pursued collaborations through visiting research/professorial positions in sociology and media & creative industries at the University of Manchester, King’s College London, and the University of Sussex.

Dr Kate Macfarlane
Dr Kate Macfarlane

Dr Macfarlane is the Program Lead for Pathways to Politics for Women and a Senior Lecturer in South East Asian Studies, CDU College of Indigenous Futures, Education and the Arts.

She is an International Relations/Political Science scholar, who focuses on children and armed conflict, peacebuilding, human security, gender and South Asia. 

Recently, Kate's research focused on the reintegration experiences of former child soldiers in Sri Lanka and Nepal. She completed six months of fieldwork in both countries. Kate is the 2018-2019 Fox Fellowship (Yale University) ANU representative. She received an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Scholarship, and an Australian Government Endeavour Fellowship (2018). 

Kate speaks Mandarin Chinese, and spent a number of years studying and working, primarily in the development sector. 


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