WELA Programs

Designed by and for women environmentalists, the WELA Leadership Development Program has successfully supported the leadership, career development and influence of dozens of women leaders across the sector since 2016. 

In 2020, our flagship program has shifted online in response to COVID-19, pleasantly surprising the facilitators and participants with the strength of connection and transformative experiences we can create together in this format. 

Given the success of our programs to date and the need for broader access and support for women across all sectors and walks of life, WELA is now working to expand the range of programs we offer. Check back here in early 2021 for more information. 

Applications for our flagship Leadership Development Program in 2021 will open later this year. 

Register your interest in a future WELA program by writing to info@wela.org.au.

About the WELA Leadership Development Program:

Who is it for?

Are you a woman and an active environmentalist volunteering or working in Australia? Are you looking to take your next steps in leadership? WELA 2020 is for you! 

The WELA program brings together 20 women a year from diverse backgrounds and ages who are working on a variety of environmental issues and campaigns around the country. Some will be employed in the movement; others working as volunteers or as individuals. 

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

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 and sexual preference diverse, culturally and linguistically diverse women, working class, regional and rural, and other challenged and marginalized women to apply.

What does the program involve?

  • Three residential retreats (four days each plus travel) held at Commonground near Seymour, Victoria 
  • Small group action learning projects on key issues facing women environmentalists 
  • Collaborative fundraising to build skills, diversity, equity, networks and confidence; and support the delivery of the program
  • Online connection of participants during and after the program
  • Mentoring sessions with experienced women environmental leaders  
  • A comprehensive collection of resources 
  • Access to a growing WELA network of environmental women

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. 


The WELA program responds to the expressed needs and feedback from interviews with many women in the environment and climate movement. Each year’s program also 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 insight, 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 and planning to address barriers to women’s leadership – 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 in the environment movement. 

Topics covered include: 

  • Gender, diversity, equity and leadership in the environment and climate movement 
  • 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 practising solidarity 
  • Activist wellbeing and resilience, including peer coaching skills and building support networks 
  • Finding your voice, reclaiming physical power, stepping outside your comfort zone 

The WELA 2020 Information Pack is available for more information on the project.