Designed by women, for women, the Masterclass offers participants an opportunity to engage with and influence public discourse.

You will:

  • Hear first-hand stories about the challenges and opportunities in becoming an elected member of Parliament from women from all parts of political life and;
  • Learn how the electoral process works, how to get started and how participants stay resilient.
  • Gain skills on how to manage the media, communications and their personal brand.
  • Be inspired by the real life stories of women’s leadership and their determination to follow a career path where women’s participation has been a roller coaster of success and achievement and of condemnation and destruction.
  • Come away better informed and equipped to make decisions about influencing in public life and/or a career in politics.
  • Become part of a network of strong, like-minded women wanting to make a difference.

Master of Ceremonies: Narelle Hooper

Narelle Hooper is incoming Editor-in-Chief of Company Director Magazine and a corporate adviser and non-executive director of The Ethics Centre, Documentary Australia Foundation and the women’s entrepreneurship accelerator, SBE Australia. She was founding co-chair of Fairfax Media’s Australian Financial Review – Westpac Women of Influence Awards and former editor of the Financial Review’s award winning BOSS Magazine.

Narelle has reported for Australia’s leading media groups, including ABC Radio National, national current affairs programs AM and PM, The Australian Financial Review, BRW Magazine and SBS TV, including a stint in the Parliamentary press gallery in Canberra. Narelle grew up in country NSW, studied journalism at Canberra University and has a Masters of Management (Financial Management) from MGSM.

8.45am: Keynote speaker – Kristina KeneallyMy journey through Politics

Kristina Keneally is a former premier of NSW and the first woman in NSW to be appointed to this office.

In doing so, Kristina joined a list of alumni including Carmen Lawrence, Joan Kirner, Anna Bligh, Lara Giddings and Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.  Our current Premier, Gladys Berejiklian joins the small but highly specialised and celebrated group of Australian women.

Kristina is the host of To the Point on Sky News and the Director of Gender Inclusion at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. She serves as patron of the Stillbirth Foundation Australia, Director of Souths Cares, and an Ambassador for Opportunity International Australia.

As a woman who has successfully fought to hold one of the highest offices in the country Kristina will share her story of resilience and success. A Q & A will follow.

9.20am: Where are we now? Jenny Morris 

Jenny will provide insights into the barriers and challenges to women’s representation, summarized from WFEA’s focus groups of women MPs councilors, sitting and aspiring members. She will report on the ground-breaking research WFEA is conducting, in conjunction with the Parliament House, on the attitudes and motivation of Year 11 girls to consider a career in politics.

9.40am: In Conversation with MP’s: You Can’t Ask Me That!

Engage in direct open, and honest conversation with fabulous women MP’s from all parties in World Café format.


Jenny Aitchison MLA – Maitland, Jodie Harrison MLA – Charlestown, Jenny Leong MLA – Newtown, Tamara Smith MLA – Ballina, Kate Washington MLA – Port Stephens, The Hon Natasha Maclaren Jones MLC, The Hon Sarah Mitchell, Penny Sharpe MLC, The Hon Bronnie Taylor MLC, Ms Dawn Walker MLC, Michelle Blicavs Councillor – Wollongong Council.

11.20am: Playing the Game – Heather Forton

Heather will explore women’s own unconscious biases and attitudes to ‘playing the game’.  While many of the barriers are systemic and cultural and, in the short-term, out of our control, there are areas where women can take control – i.e. in their personal responses and leadership style. Heather will provide a practical framework for women to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviours and create a dashboard for moving forward.

11.50am: Living in the Limelight – Virginia Haussegger AM

Brand, Communications and Media Management – Be Seen, Heard and Remembered

This session will allow for interaction and engagement from participants, with a focus on key themes related to brand creation and media management and the complexities of communication.  ‘Tips and tricks’ will be shared and participants will learn from the lived experience.

Virginia Haussegger is a passionate women’s advocate and communication specialist. She is also an award-winning television journalist, writer and commentator, whose extensive media career spans more than 25 years.

Virginia has reported from around the globe for leading current affair programs on Channel 9, the Seven Network and the ABC. For the past 15 years she has anchored the ABC’s flagship TV News in Canberra.

In late 2016 Virginia was appointed to head a new gender equality initiative, the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA), where she is an Adjunct Professor. With a singular focus on improving the representation of women in leadership and key decision making roles across all levels of government and public administration, the Foundation is the first of its kind in Australia.

In 2014 Virginia was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the community, as an advocate for women’s rights and gender equity, and to the media.

Virginia has served on a number of boards and committees including; UN Women National Committee Australia; the Snowy Hydro SouthCare Trust, and the Australia Forum Steering Committee. She currently sits on the Board of the ACT Government’s Cultural Facilities Corporation; Women in Media Canberra; and is Patron of the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.

1.15pm: Networking lunch with guest speaker (TBD)

2.15pm: ‘Campaign Management 101’.  Insiders’ Tales of Excellence. 

The format is designed to allow for questions and contributions from participants, with a focus on key themes related to the challenges and opportunities faced during campaigns.

Themes include: understanding the electoral process, getting started, managing expectations, being available 24/7, remaining authentic, managing a head office instruction at a local level, risk management, strategy. Participants will hear stories from the field and get practical advice to help them get started.


Dee Madigan.  Dee has over 20 years experience in the advertising industry. With experience in running the creative side of 10 election campaigns is a sought after politics commentator.  Her TV appearances include the Drum, Gruen and Sky TV.  Dee is the managing director of Campaign Edge, specialising in strategic development, branding, and production and uses social and traditional media.

Michael Morgan.  Michael is the managing director of Momentum Strategic Communication Services.  Formerly Managing Partner of Kreab Australia, Michael has a number of strategic campaign successes to his name, including Kevin07.

Dai Le.

Named one of AFR-Westpac’s Top 100 Influential Women in Australia in 2014, Dai has over two decades of storytelling skills and change making experience. Dai’s mission is to help build an inclusive society where mainstreams institutions and organisations truly reflect the diverse society we live in.

Dai was a former award-winning journalist, film-maker and broadcaster with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). In 2008, with no background in politics she stepped into the political arena and contested the State seat of Cabramatta at the October By-Election. She caused a historic swing of 23 per cent for the NSW Liberals. Dai did not contest the 2015 election as she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Dai went on to form DAWN, an NFP organisation championing and advocating for diverse and inclusive leadership.

Moderator: Joanne Yates.  Joanne has a background in public policy and politics.  She has been a senior advisor for Senator Vicki Bourne of the Australian Democrats and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek.  She has broad cross sectoral experience having spent time with the NSW public sector, industry associations, and the NGO sector, culminating in her role a the C20 Sherpa, managing the civil society dialogue to the 2014 G20.  Joanne currently works in stakeholder and government engagement at Macquarie University

3.30pm: Setting yourself up for success – Narelle Hooper

Next steps. Narelle will chair this session which will allow meaningful conversation with your peers to reflect on the learnings and start building a personal and career plan.

4.30pm: Wrap-up