A group of young inspiring Muslim women, working in communities across Victoria from Craigieburn to Cranbourne, are the latest graduates of the Aspire Governance and Leadership program delivered by the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre at Victoria University.

Over a seven-month period, the women discovered the meaning of leadership through tailored training, mentoring and exposure to best practice examples of governance.

The 2018 graduates received their certificates at a special breakfast in Melbourne in November where Dr Nasya Bahfen, an academic, journalist and social commentator, shared insights into the changing perception of Muslim women in Australia.

Prior to Dr Bahfen’s special address, a number of participants from Aspire presented highlights from the governance training packages they developed with the support of mentors from a number of Victorian organisations.

The following suite of governance resources produced by the participants are freely available to download on our website:

The 2018 program

The program commenced with a formal orientation hosted by program partner the Islamic Council of Victoria and featuring a Q&A panel with 2017 Aspire graduates. Other activities included a three day offsite camp in regional Victoria focused on expanding their employability, governance and leadership skills, and the major project component which involved the design and delivery of a governance workshop.

Supporters of 2018 Aspire program

The 2018 Aspire program was supported by program partner the Islamic Council of Victoria with additional support from:

  • Oxfam
  • Justice Connect
  • Fitted for Work
  • AMES
  • The National Zakat Foundation.

These organisations generously volunteered their time for the CEO Panel Session, Model Agency Visit and Mentoring program.

About the Aspire program

The Aspire program aims to broaden the social participation of talented young Australian Muslim women who have leadership potential, and increase their social networks outside of their immediate peer group and family. It opens professional doors to people who don't otherwise have job networks, while offering career-enhancement opportunities and promoting social inclusion.

With 32 women having completed the training program over the past two years, a new group of women will begin the training program in 2019 as the Cowen Centre introduces a model training select past participants to gradually assume full responsibility for the program in 2020 and beyond.

The devolution of the Aspire program is supported by a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.