WELA Programs

WELA 2021

Applications for our 2021 leadership development program are now open! 

  • 20 women actively working for our environment from diverse locations, communities and backgrounds (paid or volunteer capacity)
  • May to October, 2021
  • Online and face-to-face retreats (COVID-safe measures will apply)
  • Applications close 15th February, 2021

Check out all the information below (or downloadable in the 2021 Information Pack) including retreat dates, program fees and scholarship information, testimonials from previous participants, and the application form. 

Scholarship Information

Click here to find out how to join our information night on Thursday 28th January 2021.

Application form for WELA 2021

About the WELA leadership development program

Designed by and for women working for and committed to our environment (paid or unpaid), the WELA Leadership Development Program has successfully supported the leadership, career development and influence of over 70 women leaders across the sector since 2016. 

The program brings together 20 women a year for an intensive retreat-based leadership development program. Participants come from diverse backgrounds, ages and communities and are working on a variety of environmental issues and campaigns around the country. Some will be employed in the movement. Others will be working as volunteers or individuals. 

WELA aims to address the ways in which women’s crucial leadership can transform our response to the environmental and climate crises that we face. We empower women to identify their own approach to leadership, and to recognise and step into their power to influence. 

What does the program involve?

  • Two residential retreats (4 days each plus travel) held at Commonground near Seymour, Victoria – COVID-safe precautions will be undertaken throughout
  • An initial series of online sessions held over two months 
  • A personal mentoring relationship with an experienced environmental leader, tailored to your needs
  • Collaborative fundraising to build skills, equity, networks and confidence, and support the delivery of the program
  • Online connection to participants during and after the program
  • Connection to a growing WELA network of women leaders across the country
  • A comprehensive collection of materials and resources 

We will work with you to challenge the ways in which women’s leadership in the environment movement and beyond is undervalued and often not reflected in formal leadership positions. This dynamic is not limited to gender. We encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women of colour, gender diverse people and trans women, and women from working class and regional, rural or remote communities to apply. 

The retreats are designed to encourage your full attention and active participation. There will be free time each day for participants to enjoy the environment, exercise, and check in with work if necessary. 

You can download information about the program in our 2021 Information Pack.

We receive more applications than we are able to accept in any one year. Applicants will be selected based on both the quality of their application as well their likely fit within a diverse cohort from across the country. If you have previously applied for WELA and were unsuccessful, we certainly welcome your application again.  

Why WELA? Purpose and curriculum

The WELA program responds to the expressed needs and feedback from interviews with many women in the environment and climate movements. Each year’s program grows out of the needs, interests, cultures, experiences and offerings of the participants. The program is collaborative and experiential with an emphasis on developing personal insights, skills, knowledge and networks which apply directly to participants’ real-life challenges. 

The WELA program increases women’s capacity to lead in the environment, climate and social change movements by:

  • Understanding the barriers to women’s leadership and planning to address them – including personal limiting beliefs, organisational and movement dynamics, and broader societal forces
  • Developing skills and capacity to undertake personal change, organisational and movement change, and societal change
  • Building a supportive community of women for yourself, in your work sphere, and in the environment movement

Topics covered include:

  • Gender, diversity, equity and leadership in the environment and climate movements
  • Different models of leadership and approaches to environmental activism
  • Campaign strategy, community organising and behavioural change frameworks
  • Effective fundraising and networks of influence
  • Building inclusive movements and practicing solidarity
  • Activist wellbeing and resilience, including peer coaching skills and building support networks
  • Finding your voice, reclaiming physical power, stepping outside your comfort zone

Apply for WELA 2021 today!

Who presents at WELA?

The WELA program is led by Louise Duxbury, an experienced activist educator and leadership wonder woman. The program is supported by co-facilitators including Sue Lewis (an environmental educator specialising in gender, work and organisational change) and Victoria McKenzie-McHarg (WELA Strategic Director).  

The program includes contributions from WELA reference group members who have a wealth of experience in environmental leadership, including Margaret Blakers, Karen Alexander and Judy Lambert as well as our growing group of experienced WELA alumni.

Special guests will contribute their insights and expertise throughout the program. Presenters at past programs include Christine Milne (former Senator and leader of the Australian Greens), Kelly O’Shanassy (CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation), Joan Staples (academic and civil society advocate), Cheryl Buchanan (traditional owner from Guwamu Nation and Nyurin Clan), Clare Land (author of Decolonising Solidarity), Amanda Sinclair (author of Doing Leadership Differently and Women Leading), Lidia Thorpe (Victorian Greens Senator, First Nations activist) and Eleanor Glenn (Common Cause).

Participants are also invited to present sessions during the program to showcase the experience and expertise in the group and provide opportunities to practice public speaking and training skills.

2021 program dates and location

Please Note: We have been, and continue to monitor the restrictions around COVID-19. Should restrictions impact on the proposed 2021 residential dates, WELA will move smoothly, as it did in 2020, to other delivery models.

Part 1 – Online program:

The online component is essential to the initial connection and knowledge base for the WELA program. With four 2-hour sessions and one 3-day intensive, you’ll meet and connect with your fellow WELA participants, hear from external presenters and experts, and begin exploring feminist approaches to leadership for our environment. 

WELA online sessions are well facilitated to ensure personal connections are formed between participants, and to manage participant energy and attention throughout.  

You will be expected to schedule time off work for the nominated times, and to have uninterrupted space to commit yourself to this element of the program. 

  • Tuesdays, 10.30am – 1pm AEST (4 May, 18 May, 1 June, 20 July)
  • 3 day intensive (22, 23 and 24 June)

Part 2 – Residential retreats: 

The two residential retreats will be located at Commonground accommodation and conference facilities near Seymour, about 100 km from Melbourne. We will ensure COVID-safe precautions and measures are taken throughout. Flights to and from Melbourne will be organised for you and transport from there to Commonground will be via train, bus or car, also organised in advance for you. Travel is included in the program fees (see below) which are the same for all participants.

Please factor in travel time when assessing your availability for the following retreats:

  • August: commencing late afternoon Monday August 2nd, departing afternoon of Friday August 6th
  • October: commencing late afternoon of Monday 18th October to Friday 22nd October

Participation in the WELA program requires a commitment to all elements of the program plus availability for time with your mentor between retreats, and potential small group work and collaborative fundraising.

How much does WELA cost?

Program fees cover all costs associated with participation in the program and its residential workshops and are the same for every participant. 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 installment payments throughout the year.

The program fee options are:

If you work for an ENGO, especially a medium to large one, we strongly encourage you to approach your organisation to cover your full fee. If you are unsure about this approach we have information that can help with an application to your organisation and can talk you through the process.

We actively fundraise at WELA to be able to offer these low rates for both the full and partial fee structure; this is part of building fundraising skills within the program. 

If you are not funded by your organisation we encourage you to fundraise ahead of the program to contribute towards your fees and the overall program. We can support you to do this. 

If you apply for a scholarship to cover your fees and are unsuccessful, we will work with you to apply for grants and/or fundraise to help you cover costs. No-one is excluded for financial reasons. 

WELA Scholarships particularly focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women of colour, gender diverse and trans women, and those from working class or remote, rural or regional communities. 

WELA is hosted by the Green Institute. Donations to the Green Institute are tax deductible.

WELA Co-ordination

Louise Duxbury is the Lead Facilitator of the WELA Leadership Development Program, coordinating the WELA curriculum with input from the Reference Group, and other subject matter experts. Louise is supported by co-facilitators Victoria McKenzie-McHarg and Sue Lewis, and Holly Hammond at Plan to Win. 

Libby Harper, WELA Administrator, will coordinate WELA logistics, including applications, travel and connecting participants with mentors for the 2021 Program. 

The program is overseen by the WELA Reference Group. 

What do past participants say about WELA? 

How to Apply

Complete the WELA 2020 Application Form and apply by Monday 15th February 2021:

  • Tell us why you would like to participate
  • Tell us your experience and what you’re looking for from the program
  • Upload a current CV and provide two referees to support your application
  • Please tell us your preferred payment option
  • If applying for a scholarship fill in the simple scholarship application questions

You can apply as an individual or as part of an organisation: the priority is that participants are actively working for (paid or unpaid) and committed to our environment in Australia (whether or not you define it as leadership).Please note: if you struggle with working online, or are unable to upload a CV, don’t let that be a barrier to applying! Word document or hard copy application forms can be provided if required. We can also phone you to gather information.
We actively encourage a wide diversity of participants.

Submit your application by Monday 15th February 2021. Applicants will be advised whether they are successful in early March.

We receive more applications than we are able to accept in any one year. Applicants will be selected based on both the quality of their application as well their likely fit within a diverse cohort from across the country. If you have previously applied for WELA and were unsuccessful, we certainly welcome your application again.

More information

Please email info@wela.org.au if you have any queries.

Click here to find out how to join our information night on Wednesday 16th December.

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