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 2019 program have closed.  Email to be informed when applications open for 2020 or sign up to the SZCC newsletter for program updates.

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 governance resource – designed to fill a governance gap in your community organisation
  • 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 an online governance resource for your Muslim community organisation.

Events & workshops

Please note that these dates may be subject to change. Changes, if necessary, will be updated here.

  • Orientation day (Saturday 6 April 2019)
  • 3 day camp to improve governance, media and leadership skills (Friday 12 to Sunday 14 April 2019)
  • Field trip to a model agency to see governance in practice (Tuesday 30 April 2019)
  • All-female CEO panel on leadership and Iftar dinner (Monday 13 May 2019)
  • Mentoring program and creation of governance resource (June to September 2019)
    • Governance project co-design day (Tuesday 25 June)
    • Governance project workshop day (Friday 26 July)
    • Governance project demonstration day (Wednesday 21 August)
  • Career and interview skills workshop (Wednesday 4 September 2019)
  • Graduation ceremony (Friday 13 September 2019).
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 the 2019 program have closed. Applications for 2020 will open in February.   

Contact us

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

Sophie Moore
Aspire Project Coordinator, Sir Zelman Cowen Centre
Phone: +61 3 9919 1841.

Activities & resources


Each year, the Aspire cohort creates a suite of resources. These resources are available to download.

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  


The Aspire 2018 photo gallery can be viewed online

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
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. 

Past model agencies include:

  • AMES Australia
  • Ardoch Youth Foundation
  • Fitted for Work
  • Justice Connect
  • National Zakat Foundation
  • Oxfam Australia
  • Two BlackDogs Consulting

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