National Leadership Program

WELA National Leadership Program

An intensive annual leadership development program for 20 women and gender diverse changemakers

Who it's for

Women and gender diverse people actively working (paid or unpaid) for the environment or climate, who are looking to take the next step in their leadership. This includes women working in the not-for-profit, government or business sectors, as well as unpaid volunteers. 

Applicants are selected based on their application and their fit within a diverse cohort from across the country. If your application hasn’t been successful in the past, we welcome it again. 

We encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, culturally and linguistically diverse women, trans women and gender diverse people, women from working class backgrounds, with disability, and those living in remote, rural or regional Australia.

Program dates

7 month program featuring online sessions and two retreats (four days each + travel) and a mentoring program.

The 2023 program will commence in May 2023. 2023 key dates:

Onboarding session

11 May 2023 – 11.30am AEST

Online via Zoom

Session 1

18 May 2023 – 11.30am AEST

Online via Zoom

Retreat 1

5 June – 9 June 2023

At Commonground, Seymour, Victoria

Fortnightly sessions

All Thursday, 11.30am-1.30pm AEST 

22 June

6 July

20 July

3 Aug

17 Aug

31 Aug

14 Sept

28 Sept

12 Oct (11.30am AEDT)

Online via Zoom

Retreat 2 

23 – 27 October 2023

At Commonground, Seymour, Victoria

Closing session

9 Nov 2023, 11.30am AEDT

Online via Zoom

All applicants must be available to attend all key dates.

Applications close Friday, 6 March 2023.

Pricing

Full Fee – $6,100 (includes GST)

Partial Subsidy – $2970 (includes GST) 

Full scholarships are available 

Program fees cover all costs associated with participation in the program and its residential workshops. The fee includes travel costs from wherever you are in Australia, all food and lodging for the two retreats, and all materials, course time and mentoring time. We prefer if you are able to pay as soon as your application is accepted, but are also open to instalment payments throughout the year.

More information

Read our frequently asked questions.

Come along to our online information session on Monday, 13 February, 8pm AEDT. Register to receive the Zoom link to attend.

For more information, contact us at info@wela.org.au.

How to apply

Applications for the 2022 program will open in late November 2021. Complete the online application form by Friday, 6 March 2023.

Apply now

In your application, please:

  • Tell us why you would like to participate
  • Include your experience and what you’re looking for from the program
  • Upload a current CV and provide two referees to support your application
  • Tell us your preferred payment option or whether you are seeking scholarship support

Applications close Monday, 6 March 2023.

What’s included, the curriculum, program leaders, guest speakers and more. 

Get in touch

Scholarships and help

Our fundraising supplements our program running costs to keep prices lower and we provide a range of full and partial scholarships. Find out about our WELA Scholarships. 

We also don’t want anyone to miss out on applying for our programs for other reasons. If you find working on a computer difficult or face other barriers, please email us on info@wela.org.au so we can arrange to talk it through.

Testimonials

  • More women in leadership roles will make our environment better. That’s my firm belief and why I’ve supported ACF staff to participate in the WELA program every year it has run. The self confidence, approach to teamwork and collaboration, and the strategic vision that ACF women have developed through their participation has been of great benefit to ACF and our movement.

    Kelly O’Shanassy
    CEO Australian Conservation Foundation
  • This is a decade where we need to upskill ourselves, be connected together and collaborate to achieve and address the key challenges of our time. The WELA program helps us by skilling us up, connecting us and really being alive to the contribution that we as women are uniquely placed to make for this particular decade and beyond

     

    Monica Richter
    Senior Manager Low Carbon Futures, WWF and WELA 2022 Alumna
  • Before WELA, I was lacking in confidence, I didn’t feel like a leader. Since being in the program my confidence has definitely grown and the skills that I have gained have helped me realise that I can cope with many different situations. If you have the opportunity to do it, go for it, because it’s the best thing I’ve ever done

     

    Cathy Walker
    2022 alumna and a proud Tasmanian Aboriginal woman living in the north west of Lutruwita/Tasmania

FAQs

Should I apply for WELA?

How much experience in the environment/climate sector do I need?

WELA welcomes women and gender diverse people working across environment, climate and sustainability issues. The program is open to people working with a range of skills on diverse projects – from full time employees of large environmental non-governmental organisations to volunteers in local groups, council workers, lawyers, medical professionals, scientists, union workers, campaigners and more. WELA is for people who want to step into their leadership potential and who are working towards a positive response to the environment and climate crisis we currently face in any capacity.

 

Is this suitable for me if I am currently unemployed or studying? 

It can be, WELA can be the support you need in a career or direction change. In your application, show us a passion for environment, climate and sustainability issues, tell us about where you are currently whether in volunteer, part paid, paid or student roles, and where you want to go.

 

Do I need a qualification in the environment sphere?

No, qualifications are not required. We recognise women and gender diverse people come to WELA with a range of backgrounds, we do ask for you to be working on projects that cross environment, climate and sustainability issues. This work can be paid or unpaid.

Program location and times

Is there a requirement for travel? 

Yes, you need to commit to attending the two in-person retreats (located in Seymour, Victoria) which form key elements of the course. They provide opportunity to form relationships between the cohort, immersion in sessions designed to value that people are face to face, experience presentations from guest presenters and also connection to nature and a personal retreat environment.

 

Can I get the best out of the course without attending the travel portions?

No, sorry. We will only select applicants who demonstrate a commitment to attending all elements of the program, including the in-person retreats. We understand life can change, and if unexpected circumstances arise we will support you to access as much as we can of the materials.

 

Will the times change for the online sessions?

We set the times for the online sessions in advance, so you can schedule them ito your calendar. Note all times are AEST/AEDT. If any changes are planned throughout the course participants will be consulted. (please do make allowance for changing times as daylight savings begins and ends during the year).

What are the 2023 key dates I need to be available for?

Onboarding session

11 May 2023 – 11.30am AEST

Online via Zoom

Session 1

18 May 2023 – 11.30am AEST

Online via Zoom

Retreat 1

5 June – 9 June 2023

At Commonground, Seymour, Victoria

Fortnightly sessions

All Thursday, 11.30am-1.30pm AEST 

22 June

6 July

20 July

3 Aug

17 Aug

31 Aug

14 Sept

28 Sept

12 Oct (11.30am AEDT)

Online via Zoom

Retreat 2 

23 – 27 October 2023

At Commonground, Seymour, Victoria

Closing session

9 Nov 2023, 11.30am AEDT

Online via Zoom

All applicants must be available to attend all key dates.

Applications close Friday, 6 March 2023.

Financial support

Do I have to pay straight away?

We encourage payment at the beginning of the program, but we can work with you (or with your workplace) on a payment plan, to allow for budgetary considerations.

I want to come but can’t afford it, what options do I have?

We don’t want cost to be a barrier stopping  people from applying for the program. We have a range of scholarship options

Can I still do the course if I don’t get a scholarship?

If you are selected for the program, we will work with you around payment and scholarship options.

If I don’t receive a scholarship do I need to fundraise by the start of the course? 

If you are fundraising for your program fee, fundraising can take place throughout the program.

Is there support available for fundraising?

Yes, we’ll work with you to look at grants, and opportunities to support your placement in the WELA program.

Can I ask my work to pay?

We strongly encourage workplace to support you to be part of this program.  We have a great initial opening email we can share with you, with links to our data on impact and value to your organisation.

Travel

Is travel to the retreat outside the program times listed?

The retreat times listed are the days/time we start and finish at Commonground, Seymour, Victoria. If you’re on the eastern seaboard we can usually arrange your travel to be on the day of the retreat, for those coming from other states, you may want to allow an extra day for travel either side of retreats.

Is travel included in the cost?

Yes, travel is included in the cost, and will be organised for you by our program team.

About the community

What happens after the program? 

You will build a strong network and relationships with your cohort, you’ll come away from the program with contact details and platforms for support like our Slack community. We will support your group to consider opportunities for regular meetups. You’re a part of the WELA Community now!

How does the support network work?

Our community utilises Slack as a portal for communication and engagement. Our community can share and seek support and advice, wins and inspiration, ask hard questions and keep up with resources that will continue the WELA journey.

WELA holds regular events (like our Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion learning circle), offering the opportunity to connect with different women with experiences in the environment/climate sector.

Across Australia, WELA alumni initiate their own regular dinners and create opportunities to meet. Many of our WELA alumni are strongly connected through creating opportunities to work together and through friendship formed during the program.

Curriculum and facilitators

Can you tell me more about the curriculum?

Read more about the curriculum on our programs page.

How does WELA respond to the cohort’s needs?

From considering your initial application, through to assessing feedback, group dynamics and areas of interest we look at the whole cohort when considering speakers, guest facilitators and elements of the program. 

Who are the facilitators?

Our facilitation team includes Dr Louise Duxbury, National Program Lead and Asmaa Guedira, Program Producer. The national program is supported by Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, WELA Strategic Director and Dr. Sue Lewis, WELA Board member and founder. Read more about the WELA team.

Mentoring

What does the mentoring program entail?

The WELA mentoring program is designed to set you up with a one on one mentor to guide you through the next steps in your leadership journey. We draw WELA mentors from all parts of the environment space and know that the mentoring journey can be an important part of your development.

How much time does it take?

The commitment to the mentoring journey is a monthly meet-up, phone call or zoom, and some thought and reflection.

Do I need to know who I want to be my mentor?

We will work with you to identify who you are looking for, and ask if there are any stand out women who you look up to. We will also offer some options for mentors.

Coursework

Is there a major project or outcome required at the end of the course? 

The major outcome of WELA is you. WELA is about your growth and development. You may want to work on projects with your WELA cohort, but there is no additional major project requirement. We ask for your commitment to all the sessions scheduled, there will be a monthly phone call to your mentor at a time that is convenient to you both and there is pre-reading for most sessions, but otherwise the work and what you bring is all about you.

What is the time commitment required outside of the retreat and scheduled programming?

There is some pre-reading for sessions that will enrich your understanding of the course content. Taking time to contact each person in your group by phone, or taking part in group chat is beneficial to your experience, but not required.

WELA

How has WELA influenced the environment movement?

You can see WELA’s influence, and the powerful works of our participants on Our Impacts page, and by downloading the WELA Impact Report

 

Program application

How can I apply?

Apply online now. If you have challenges working online, get in touch with Libby at info@wela.org.au for a printable version of the application form.

Can I change my answers in my application?

You can start to fill in the application, close it, and then return later and your answers will still be there. You need to be on the same browser and device (and not in Incognito or Private browsing mode). Your answers will be kept safely in your browser’s local storage for 15 days.

When do I have to apply by?

Applications close Monday, 6 March 2023. We highly recommend you have a look at the application and start filling it in before this date as the application can take 20-30 minutes to complete and requires references and a CV.

Help

Help! I still have questions. Can I speak to a member of the WELA Team?

Email Libby at info@wela.org.au with any questions or to set up a time to chat about the program.

Sign up to come along to our Information Session, Monday, 13 February 2023, 8pm AEDT.