About us

We are a community of women transforming Australia’s response to our environmental and climate crises

We are Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA) — an independent not-for-profit organisation.

Leadership in Australia has failed to respond to the environmental and climate crises we face. We will not get out of them by relying on the same leadership that got us into them outdated leadership that has enabled environmental destruction, inequality and marginalisation of diverse voices.

International evidence has shown that more women in decision making leads to better environmental outcomes.* Women’s leadership is often collaborative, networked and responsive to communities, which are essential skills for our transition to a sustainable future. But there are still many barriers stopping women from stepping into their leadership.


*Evidence references include Gender & Society and ScienceDirect.

We are removing barriers to women’s leadership because that’s what we need for a future in which people and the planet can thrive.

It’s time to redefine ‘leader’. Leadership is about influence, which comes in many forms and from many places. It’s not just the strong person in charge. It comes from the neighbour creating connections to collect local food waste for compost. From the uni graduate running for local council to protect nature; the First Nation scientist caring for Country through her original research and engagement; the CEO pushing for a
zero emission commitment.

To create a safe future, we need all types of leaders who positively influence local communities, businesses, industries and government in their own unique ways.

So what are you waiting for?


What we do together


Empower women’s leadership with development programs to build skills, confidence and networks.


Support women to come together in our growing community to provide guidance and networks, and to open doors to new opportunities.


Fund women-led environmental advocacy and climate action through a new Giving Circle.


Broaden the women-led approach to support gender diversity and women from diverse cultures, backgrounds and sectors.

Our impact

Since 2016, we have supported the leadership development of women and gender diverse peoplewho have influenced some of Australia’s most important environmental campaigns and projects. Thousands of women in the WELA community are connecting for greater impact from Darebin VIC to Denmark WA, and from grassroots organisations to global corporations. To date, our leadership programs have supported over 230 women and gender diverse people to step up for our environment across multiple sectors.

Our roots

WELA was born out of an Australian Research Council project, Diversity in Leadership: Australian women, past and present, which revealed the vital role women play in the environment movement, their poor representation in leadership positions and a lack of support for those aspiring to leadership roles. In 2012, a workshop in Canberra mapped out the next steps in a remarkably prescient way, leading to the formation of WELA in 2016 as an annual leadership development program for women in the environment and climate movements. You can read more about our co-founders here.

With our program’s success and the growing environment and climate crises, we looked at how we could respond to the urgent need for change. In 2020, we adopted a new and expanded plan, and set out to formalise WELA as an independent organisation, working to transform Australia’s response to these crises.

Our 3-year plan (2023-2025)

Today, demand for WELA’s transformative leadership development programs and our community events is at an all-time high. The only factor limiting our support for transformative climate and environmental leadership is our capacity.

Over the next three years, WELA is seeking to double capacity to EMPOWER, CONNECT and INFLUENCE an environmental leadership revolution. 

Find out more by downloading our 3-year plan.

Our team

We are a growing and passionate team, dedicated to powering the new wave of leadership needed to transform our future. Our Board and Staff are experienced change makers, leadership experts and community builders.

Our stories

Head to our stories page to hear from women in our community.


WELA is dedicated to the memory of three remarkable environmentalists and leaders, who made an indelible impression on everyone they came in contact with.

They have left a legacy that we remember and honour.

Jane Elix

Jane was a passionate advocate for women, the environment and consumer rights…

Louise Crossley

Louise’s support of women, young people and of the Green Institute has been instrumental…

Felicity Wishart

From the Franklin campaign at age 17 to her role in the Fight for the Reef, Flic was at the heart of…