Rachell Hansen was part of the inaugural cohort of the QUT Pathways to Politics for Women program. It has been a year since she graduated, and Rachell’s enthusiasm for the program and her passion to influence climate change policy, are still shining brightly. When we caught up with her recently, she shared her desire to inspire others to join her in the journey to help set the agenda and lead the conversation! This is Rachell’s story…
Who or what influenced/inspired you to apply?
The catalyst that inspired me to apply was finding passion and purpose to influence climate change policy. I figured in order to make the greatest change in this space, you need to have the right seat at the right table.
And I flipped the script from saying “why me, to why not?!”
I later discovered there was more to me that I could bring to the table, above and beyond climate change, that my professional experience and lived experience, which shaped my story and how I can relate to people, enables me to see policy that impacts their daily lives through a different lens.
How did the Pathways to Politics Program transform you / help you the most?
The program certainly helped me unpack my story and discover more about myself in terms of what I value, believe in, and have the power to change. It gifted me a safe environment to learn practical hands-on skills such as media training and learning how to write a preselection speech so that I am geared and ready for the next stage when the opportunity arises.
What was the highlight of your experience?
Most definitely building trust and a bond with my fellow cohort of peers—regardless of our political party affiliation, we shared a sense of unity and understanding, that we’re all here to make a positive difference. I think this will serve us well in years to come when we need to create a sense of understanding and collaboration between parties, rather than taking on a combative approach which is often seen in the traditional tactics played out in politics.
We have the power to change the status quo, as the next generation of leaders and politicians and I believe we can support each other along the journey no matter where that takes us.
What advice would you give to someone looking at trying to do this program?
Just give it a go! Politics needs representation from people that represent all of the intersections in our society. This looks beyond just women, but representation from our First Nations people and people of colour that reflect multiculturalism in our society.
Age and people from all walks of life, background, and experiences are needed. People of all abilities, our LGBTIQ society, you are needed. The value this offers is a richness in perspectives and diversity around the policy that we need to shape as we progressively move towards an inclusive, equal, and equitable society that reflects the complexities of the people within it.
Other than that, your representation could inspire our next generation of children and young adults to believe in themselves, particularly if they see someone representative of a marginalised group that they identify with. Perhaps you might be the very person that could make that child believe “that could be me” someday!
What message would you give those who donated to the cost of this program?
Thank you! Thank you! thank you! Women face so many more barriers in politics, and your generosity has helped remove some of these barriers by gifting us recipients with a sense of belief that we’ve chosen the right path, but also by removing the financial barriers and constraints to gain valuable hands-on, practical training.
You’ve given us all that little extra confidence and competence to take on the world and make a difference in our city, our state and our country!
So please keep giving, and inspiring more marginalised groups to chase their dreams.