Women of the Year

Life advice from women bossing it in Australian politics

Solid tips from women at the top of their game.

Julia Gillard, the first female Prime Minister of Australia

“There will always be people who are quick to criticise in life. Focus on your purpose, because that’s most important, and don’t let misplaced criticism distract you from what you are in the workplace and what you want to achieve.

One of the most common questions I have been asked about my Prime Ministership has been ‘How did you do it?’ At the heart of the answer is resilience. Resilience requires fully understanding and committing to your purpose."

Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party

“I believe it’s essential for me to remain calm and focused – so I run. It’s a tremendous stress-reliever!”

Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament for Sydney

“Think about the result. When I’m in a moment where I’m angry, I think, ‘What is it that I want to achieve here?’ I might briefly feel better if I flip my lid, but I’m not achieving anything, and I won’t convince anyone of my argument. So I try to focus on what I’m working towards, and that calms me down. You’re never going to achieve anything by yelling at them or belittling them, but you might if you lay out your argument in a reasonable, methodical way.”

Lucy Hughes Turnbull, former Lord Mayor of Sydney

“I have found that you don’t have to look very far for a mentor. My husband, Malcolm, has been a huge supporter of my career, and I of his. We consult each other, value each other’s opinions and genuinely celebrate each other’s wins and successes. Look for a good partner and you have got yourself a built-in mentor right there.”

Elizabeth Broderick, Sex discrimination commissioner

“If you work in a boys’ club, ally yourself with the good men. They’ll be there – look for them. Ask them to step up beside you and advocate change for women. They don’t need to speak for you, but sometimes you need someone to have your back.”

Peta Credlin, Chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Abbott

“I don’t pretend to have a work-life balance. I don’t. My day often starts around 5am and goes well into the evening. But it is what it is, and the opportunity to sit in the room at the United Nations Security Council, or the G20, is one so few people will experience that the trade-off is one I easily make. My parents didn’t finish Year 12, but they encouraged their four kids to get a good education. There were times I had four part-time jobs while studying law… I’m convinced that if you work hard enough, there is nothing you can’t do.”