Business owner, motivational speaker, author and volunteer — QUT Pathways to Politics for Women graduate Nyree Johnson already has a diverse resume and she’s just getting started.
“I’ve always felt that local council is where I belonged: a place where I can connect with my community and make a positive impact and difference to the lives of those in my region,” Ms Johnson said.
In November 2020, that calling was cemented when Ms Johnson announced her candidacy for the Mayor of Rockhampton Regional Council in the 2021 Rockhampton Mayoral by-election.
“During my campaign I was learning on the go. From campaign management to fundraising and name recognition strategies, marketing, door knocking and policy creation, to name a few.”
“In January 2021, while my campaign was still in full swing, I was made aware of the QUT Pathways to Politics program by a very good friend who encouraged me to apply, regardless of the outcome of the by-election.”
Although her bid to become Rockhampton’s next mayor was unsuccessful, Ms Johnson continued to pursue the intensive QUT Pathways to Politics for Women Program, joining a cohort of 20 driven women who were inspired to make a difference in the Australian political sphere.
In Australia, women are under-represented across all levels of government, business, civil society and positions of influence. Despite their proven ability as leaders and their right to participate equally in democratic governance, women still face many obstacles to participating in political life.
As the only program of its kind in Queensland, QUT’s Pathways to Politics for Women is a nonpartisan initiative that seeks to increase female participation in all levels of government by equipping women with the skills to be elected to public office and to thrive as political leaders.
Although the 2021 local government elections are over in Rockhampton, Ms Johnson has taken the valuable lessons she has learnt and is bringing them to other aspects of her life.
“I have refreshed my career goals in my corporate career thanks to the QUT Pathways to Politics program, and I have some amazing plans for my businesses. I’ve levelled up my speaking skills and fine-tuned my ability to craft a message suitable to the audience,” Ms Johnson said.
“I feel my corporate role and my role as a business owner and manager has forever changed for the better.”
Ms Johnson is continuing to find other ways to positively impact her community, and encourages others to do the same, citing the program as a valuable introduction to representation in politics.
“We need strong representation from all members of our community in our governments at every level. We need diversity, respect and equality, and to do this we need to elect members of our community who are just like us — and those who are different to us.”
“So even if the thought makes you uncomfortable and pushes you far beyond your comfort zone, get out of your own way and get involved. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is precisely where the magic happens.”