The story that Leigh McCready shares about the QUT Pathways to Politics for Women is one of being at a crossroads. What could she do to fulfill her aspirations to go into politics? Which path could she follow? She shares her rich learnings from the program which have paved her way to take on a significant leadership role in the LNP and to make a difference as a party leader and future politician.
Leigh shares her story and hopes to inspire others to find their path.
Hi, I’m Leigh McCready. I’m a Fellow of the QUT Pathways to Politics for Women Program.
Who or what influenced or inspired you to apply?
I heard about the program through an email that came out through the LNP network and given that I recently joined the party, I thought what an amazing opportunity to learn more about women in politics, and how I might be able to, as a community leader, step up and start helping make change for the better in my community.
What was your personal growth story?
At the time I joined the program, I was at a bit of a crossroads in working out what I wanted to do next and how I could proceed with my aspirations to go into politics.
The learnings I gained from the program helped me decide which path to take next, and that’s actually helped me achieve a fantastic ambition which is to become the chair of my local branch and start growing our membership and our policies in line for the next state election.
How did the Pathways to Politics Program transform you or help you the most?
The Pathways to Politics program was a fantastic way to meet women from across all political parties, but particularly I found it really helpful to meet some of the women from my own party which was the LNP. These women were very inspiring to me and several of them went on to become pre-selected and run campaigns in the election in 2020. I was able to support their campaigns from a distance by helping share their social media stories, giving them support, where I thought I could, and catching up with them to discuss policies and how they were coming across in the campaign.
Another thing that the study helped me with is helping me understand how the LNP is perceived outside the party. Because the risk is that when you work in that bubble that’s all you hear. Whereas the Pathways to Politics course gave me an opportunity to hear about how the LNP was perceived from all other sides. So, from politicians from all parties, from my fellow colleagues, on the course and it helped me open up my eyes to the work that we needed to do within the party to grow and become a more strong representative of our local community.
What was the highlight of your experience?
There were so many highlights of my completion of the Pathways to Politics course I’d say firstly meeting all the wonderful women who participated in the course, but then an extension of that was meeting a lot of politicians as well who gave so generously of their time and really were extremely honest with us about their experiences within politics.
The highs the lows, the ups the downs, and the common thread amongst all the women from all sides of politics was that despite being sometimes very, very difficult it was undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things they ever did in their lives, and they had absolutely no regrets about participating in a political role, and that’s probably the thing I took away from the course most.
What advice would you give someone looking at applying to this program?
My advice for anyone who’s keen to understand whether a career in politics is right for them is to work out what political party they would like to join, or if not as an independent what level of government they would like to participate in. And that’s really the advice that we got from the very beginning.
There are so many paths to take, you just need to find the path right for you. And I’m a personal believer in the fact that it doesn’t actually matter what party you are in, or whether you decide to run as an independent, what’s important is that we get more women into politics, get their views into the room where decisions are made. So, I think that’s something that will come naturally as you participate in the program.
And in terms of them taking on a leadership role in your party, the confidence that participating in the course gave me to just put my hand up and say, you know what, “I know how to do this, I can make a difference”, that came from being in a room full of people who are giving me fantastic ideas and advice, and most importantly the confidence to put my hand up and know that I have something to offer.
What message would you give to those who donated to the cost of this program?
For all the people who contributed to making the program a success, and that includes the women who are leading the program and shaping it, and also to the Trawalla Foundation who is really making this an amazing opportunity for all women of all walks of life to get the leg up that they need to start getting into politics and making a difference, I would say thank you so much from all of us have participated in Pathways to Politics. It’s not something I will ever forget.
It will guide me through whatever future I have in politics, and I’m already spreading the word to other people who’ve got the vaguest inkling about getting into politics, I say do the Pathways to Politics course, it will change your life.