Leadership

Creating opportunities for women in politics: Reflections on the QUT Pathways to Politics for Women Program

Professional woman

Connie and Julia were enthusiastic and inquisitive participants in the QUT Pathways to Politics for Women program in 2020, bringing charisma and a positive mindset into each session.

Dr Mary Crawford and Connie Bolglis
Dr Mary Crawford (left) with Connie Bolglis

Connie Boglis was part of the inaugural QUT Pathways to Politics for Women program cohort in 2020. She is a passionate advocate, author, counsellor and youth worker with over 16 years’ experience, and most recently turned her personal adversity into a positive platform for mental health reform.

In 2019 Connie was acknowledged by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a finalist in UNSW Australian Mental Health Prize. She also published her first book Once Upon a Feeling, a mindful story helping children to explore and express their emotions through creative techniques and conversations with the adults in their life. Connie currently serves on National Committees for the Department of Veterans Affairs Open Arms, The Australian War Memorial and is an Ambassador for The Australian National Veterans Art Museum.

Jullia Dixon
Julia Dixon

Julia Dixon also took part in the inaugural QUT Pathways to Politics for Women program cohort in 2020. Previously working for State and Federal elected representatives including a State Opposition Leader, Cabinet Minister, and a Premier.  A career highlight for Julia was being invited to join the 2017 Conservative Party UK General Election Campaign Team and again in 2019, where she traveled with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s team across the United Kingdom. Based in Brisbane she now works in the private sector using her ten years’ experience in media relations, campaign management, government relations, and stakeholder engagement to help organisations take charge of the agenda. Julia is also a QUT Alumni with a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) and Masters of Business (Public Relations).

We recently reconnected with Connie and Julia where they reflected on their influences and experience in the program.

Who or what influenced/inspired you to apply?

Connie:  We all have a story and after almost 18 years in a role as a counsellor and mental health advocate I tragically lost a veteran partner to suicide. Nothing prepares you for this loss, but life offers you lessons and opportunities if you choose to see them and politics is the next step.  “Life inspired me to apply”

Julia: When QUT announced the Pathways to Politics for Women Program, I was strongly interested to find out more and throw my hat in the ring. Despite being involved in politics as a grassroots member and political staffer, this program offered an opportunity to undergo some personal and professional growth. With a magnitude of opportunities on offer to learn more about leadership, campaigning, and practical skills including public speaking, media training, and speech writing. It seemed the perfect way to explore areas that I needed to further develop, expand my critical thinking skills about issues and challenges faced by those participating in modern political life.  

How did this study transform you / or the organisation that you work for?

Connie: Where I did not have the knowledge I learned, where I found I was confident I refined my skills. Since being in the program I have been approached by my local MP to continue my advocacy work in supporting veterans and families transition well out of the ADF. With the support of the Victorian Labor Party, I will be launching a very special initiative to continue my advocacy. 

What was the highlight of your study experience?

Connie: Coming together with passionate women across Queensland and sharing in their thirst for advocacy and change felt like home but being able to meet with and hear Politicians share their journey made it real for me. Whether I could relate or I questioned a point of difference, my eyes remained wide open to the powerful role women play in politics. That drive and commitment remains strong. 

Julia: Often playing the support role to senior members of the party and elected representatives, this course gave me a chance to consider my personal values, what my leadership style is and crystalize what the next steps are. There were many highlights over the course, one in particular that stood out was media training, learning how to be a better communicator and frame key messages (very important in political life!). Another highlight was the leadership component and being able to work with an executive coach on an individual basis. 

What advice would you give to someone looking at trying to do what you have done?  

Connie: Don’t listen to the fear, focus on the passion- That is the path that will lead you to the future you seek.
Since completing the program, Connie has been very busy. She joined the Labor Party back in March and since has been involved in branch meetings and developing relationships with state and federal MPs, one of which became a mentor for her. She is planning on continuing her political journey by launching a campaign with the Veterans Affairs Minister in Parliament in 2021.

Julia: My advice to women who are thinking about applying, do not pass up the opportunity and throw your hat in the ring. You have got nothing to lose and everything to gain. The Pathways to Politics for Women Program gives you close access to high-level leaders, educators, and experts across a variety of topics. Most importantly, it gives you the confidence to put yourself out there and seize opportunities that you seek out or come by.   

Applications for the 2021 QUT Pathways to Politics for Women program are open!

Ultimately, 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 in a compelling way.

Do you excel in these areas? We encourage you to apply!

To be eligible, we do ask that applicants have completed an undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree at a Queensland University. Although, for this component, we offer eligibility waivers. To satisfy an eligibility waiver, we ask you to provide information as evidence of qualifications and/or experience deemed to be equivalent.

For more information visit our website here or contact the team at qutex@qut.edu.au.

 

QUT Pathways to Politics for Women

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Kim is a Program Administrator at QUTeX, collaborating with a range of stakeholders from Government Representatives to Academic and Industry Experts to ensure the seamless delivery of QUT’s professional development opportunities. She is an experienced Administrator with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry, skilled in project management, operations management, customer service, and strategy.

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