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 are currently closed. 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 and, while doing so, train select past participants to progressively assume responsibility for subsequent iterations of the program.

 Photo of the program participant receiving a certificate from Dr Susan Carland at graduation

Graduating from Aspire.

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.

"It has been great meeting such like-minded young women who are as ambitious as me and as interested in wanting to implement positive change within our communities."
– 2017 participant 

Course essentials

Dates: 2021 dates to be advised. 

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.

Pitching ideas. 

Course structure

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

Course work

  • Average 1 hour per week of course material 
  • 12-14 full days of face-to-face activities
  • Major project – guided by expert mentors you’ll develop a grant application for your Muslim community organisation

Events & workshops

Please note that these workshops are indicative only and subject to change.

  • Orientation day 
  • 3-day camp to improve governance, media and leadership skills
  • All-female CEO panel on leadership and Iftar dinner 
  • Field trip to a model agency to see governance in practice 
  • Mentoring program and creation of grant application
    • Governance project: Expectations 
    • Grant writing masterclass 
    • Meet your groups 
    • Grant feedback day with mentors 
    • Independent work day 
    • Presentation skills workshop and final grants review with mentors 
    • Shark Tank Panel 
  • Career and interview skills workshop and project due date 
  • Graduation ceremony 
 Program participants sitting around a table discussing their group project.

Learning from expert mentors. 


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.

Stepping outside of comfort zones. 

How to apply

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

Email [email protected] to receive a notification when applications open for 2021.

"Young Muslim women can lead big change."
– 2019 participant 

 Photo of a program participants celebrating in a group circle

Working together to create change.

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

 Collection of Aspire workbooks produced by participants

Resources designed by the community for the community.

Get involved

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.

If you have any questions about the program, or would like to become involved as a guest speaker or partner organisation, please contact [email protected].

"The program was incredible! It was a great way to meet passionate individuals who later became great friends."
– 2017 participant