The Aspire program provides professional development and governance training for Muslim women who are:

  • aged 18 to 24
  • living in Victoria
  • actively involved in Muslim community organisations as leaders and officer bearers.

Participants will learn how to improve governance within their community organisations while also developing their own leadership skills.

Applications for the program open at the start of each year.  Email [email protected] to receive a notification when applications open.

Program history

Thirty-two young women completed the 2017 and 2018 Aspire programs, which were delivered by the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre in partnership with the Islamic Council of Victoria.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre was awarded a grant from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation to deliver Aspire for two more cohorts of young women in 2019 and 2020.

Program objectives

Aspire is designed for Muslim women who:

  • hold, or would like to hold, leadership or board roles (secretary, treasurer, president etc.) in Muslim community organisations or societies with a large Muslim membership
  • are interested in governance, running meetings, volunteer management and leadership.

During the Aspire program you will:

  • improve your strategic, risk analysis and leadership skills
  • develop a grant application for your community organisation with the support of expert mentors
  • meet other high-achieving Muslim women
  • foster your employability skills.

Course essentials

Dates: April – September. 

Offered by: Sir Zelman Cowen Centre.

Location: City Queen Campus, Victoria University, Melbourne (plus 1–2 offsite events).

Fees: The program is free for successful applicants.*

*Course costs only. Travel costs (to and from the course) will not be covered.

Aspire participant giving a presentation. 

Course structure

You will participate in a series of on and off campus activities.

Course work

  • Average 1 hour per week of course material (don't worry – there are no tests or essays)
  • 12 full days of face-to-face activities
  • Major project – guided by expert mentors you’ll design a grant application for your Muslim community organisation

Events & workshops

Please note that these dates may be subject to change.

  • Orientation day (Friday 3 April)
  • 3-day camp to improve governance, media and leadership skills (Friday 3 – Sunday 5 April)
  • All-female CEO panel on leadership and Iftar dinner (Wednesday 6 May)
  • Field trip to a model agency to see governance in practice (Tuesday 2 June)
  • Mentoring program and creation of grant application (June to September)
    • Governance project: Expectations (Friday 26 June)
    • Governance project: Grant writing workshop (Saturday 18 July)
    • Governance project: Meet your groups and participant independent work day (Friday 14 August)
    • Governance project: Presentation skills workshop and final grants review with mentors (Tuesday 25 August)
  • Career and interview skills workshop and project due date (Tuesday 15 September)
  • Graduation ceremony (Tuesday 6 October)
Photo of 2018 Aspire graduates holding certificates.

Aspire Graduation 2018 with Dr. Nasya Bahfen. 


Aspire is open to high-achieving young leaders who:

  • identify as a Muslim woman
  • are 18-24 years old (at the time of application)
  • live in Victoria, Australia
  • are involved in a community organisation
  • can commit to all training days.

We encourage you to apply if you:

  • are from a newly arrived community
  • arrived in Australia during the last ten years.

Note: you do not have to be a current or past student of Victoria University. If you meet the above criteria, you are welcome to apply for the Aspire program.

Aspire teambuilding activity at camp. 

How to apply

Sixteen young women (aged 18-24) will be selected for the Aspire program each year. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed.

Applications for 2020 close Sunday 1 March, 2020. Find out more and apply.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the program, please contact:

Sophie Moore
Aspire Project Coordinator, Sir Zelman Cowen Centre
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 1841.

Activities & resources


Each year, the Aspire cohort creates a suite of resources. These resources are made freely available online.

Participants of the 2019 program created online interactive resources on four governance topics.

News Articles  


Aspire 2019 photo gallery


Each year, the Aspire cohort creates a suite of resources. These resources are made freely available online.

Participants of the 2018 program created training packages on four governance topics and facilitated tailored governance workshops for their respective Muslim community organisations.

News Articles  


Aspire 2018 photo gallery

Get involved

If you have any questions about the program, or would like to become involved as a guest speaker or partner organisation, please contact:

Sophie Moore
Aspire Project Coordinator, Sir Zelman Cowen Centre
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 1841.


The Centre enlists the help of ‘model agencies’ - organisations with excellent governance - to assist with several aspects of the Aspire program, including the mentoring component. 

Contact the Aspire Project Coordinator if your organisation would like to be considered as a partner agency.