Sydney, NSW: Former Wentworth by-election candidate Licia Heath today announces her next career move, as the first CEO of Women for Election Australia (WFEA), a not-for-profit, non-partisan organisation encouraging and supporting more women to succeed in Australian politics.
Prior to standing for the Federal seat of Wentworth in October 2018, Licia enjoyed a successful career in financial services, with stints in funds management at Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse in London and Australia. She is also a founding member of the Australian asset management firm Ironbark.
“In these roles I learnt a lot, including the business benefits of having diverse voices and skillsets around a boardroom table. I’ve been watching Australia’s political landscape with dismay in recent years and I made the conscious decision to leave my financial career and use my skillset to improve Australian politics.”
Licia explains she had to choose whether she wanted to influence from the inside of politics or from the outside.
“WFEA’s non-partisan approach is the perfect platform to ensure Australia has a more gender-balanced, representative Parliament in coming years,” adds Licia.
Having joined the WFEA board just one year ago, Licia made an opportunistic decision to run as an independent candidate for Wentworth when former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat was forced into a sudden by-election in August.
Licia says running for office was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The high-profile six-week campaign eventually led to another independent candidate, Dr Kerryn Phelps, winning the former safe Liberal seat.
The WFEA board was impressed by Licia’s ‘grass roots’ political campaign and could see how she had successfully put practical elements she learned at WFEA’s public conferences into practise.
WFEA Founder and Chair Jenny Morris says Licia’s appointment as CEO signals that the organisation is “” now consolidating after a period of rapid growth. With the appointment of a CEO, the group is ready to make a bigger impact on Australia’s political landscape, actively training more women to successfully get elected within local, state and federal government positions.” WFEA quotes overseas research that shows more women in public office results in less adversarial politics, more cross-party collaboration and broader policy outcomes that cater for a greater cross-section of the community.
In her CEO role Licia has multiple goals, including driving the strategic aims of the organisation and lifting its profile with women across Australia. She states her top three goals as:
• Securing on-going funding. WFEA is a not-for-profit that has existed on small scale donations and an army of volunteers. Long-term, sustained funding is essential for WFEA to deliver on its commitment to political transformation and successfully inspire women to consider politics as a career option.
• Locking in an academic partner to assist WFEA with future course design.
• Helping women from all walks of life to consider, and run for, public office in Australia via tailored training courses, digital support and on-going partnerships.
“While it serves current power brokers for women to de-select politics and stay busy with their careers or at home, I’m done with that. It’s time to get more women in The House.”
Women for Election Australia is a non-partisan organisation with a vision of an Australia with balanced participation of women and men in political life. Launched in 2015 by Jenny Morris, the current Chair of WFEA, the aim is simple: to inspire and equip women to run for public office and the role of CEO is to support that aim and ensure its success. WFEA provides a unique combination of tailored training and hands on support for women considering entering political life. WFEA helps to demystify the political process and show women how they can run successful campaigns. Training focuses on skill development, with attention to communications and media training, campaigns, and fundraising. So far around 150 women have taken part in WFEA programmes.