Winner of the 2022 Bridget Whelan Scholarship to tackle dangerous disinformation campaigns.
8th March 2023
The Elizabeth Reid Network has celebrated International Women’s Day by announcing Stephanie Anderson as the winner of the 2022 Bridget Whelan Scholarship.
Stephanie, who serves as a media adviser to Cabinet Minister Julie Collins, commenced her career as a parliamentary staffer in 2017 after spending 10 years as a political journalist with the ABC, SBS and various print outlets.
Stephanie is the fifth winner of the prestigious scholarship, which is an annual award offered by the Elizabeth Reid Network to help female advisers in the Australian Labor Party develop their skills and capacity in a variety of areas including policy, communications and leadership.
It’s named after the late Bridget Whelan, a talented Labor adviser who helped
establish the Network shortly before tragically dying from ovarian cancer.
Stephanie was announced as the winner of the Bridget Whelan Scholarship by Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth who reflected on the importance of women looking out for each other.
“The Bridget Whelan Scholarship is a great way to support female advisers - of whom we have more than ever - to develop their capacity, create new knowledge and share it across the network. I look forward to learning from Stephanie’s research.”
ERN President Annie O’Rourke says the scholarship continues the fine Labor tradition of women supporting other women.
“Stephanie is a very worthy winner of the Bridget Whelan Scholarship. It will give her the opportunity to advance her own career and share her skills and experience with other Labor women. The ALP has taken great strides in increasing female representation in parliament - as Cabinet Ministers, MPs and staffers. The Bridget Whelan Scholarship, and the inspiring work of young Labor people like Stephanie, will encourage even more women to participate in politics.”
The theme for this year’s International Women's Day is ‘embrace equity’ and Stephanie says that she is “very proud to be part of a party that takes gender equality seriously and part of a government which has set the standard for women’s representation in cabinet, in the ministry and frontbench positions.”
Minister for Housing, the Hon Julie Collins says Stephanie epitomises the best traditions of Labor women who work to advance other women and their communities.
“Steph is a kind, warm, talented woman who uses her substantial intellectual capacity, experience and skills to drive better outcomes for our communities. While Steph is a determined advocate for those we seek to represent, she never fails to be fiercely kind and supportive to those around her.”
Stephanie will use part of the $10,000 prize money to attend Cambridge University’s Disinformation Summit, where world leaders in politics and academia will explore the methods being used to disseminate disinformation and how it is effective in changing human behaviour.
She says Australia is already seeing the great damage that can be inflicted by disinformation campaigns which “can spread fear and incite violence. They can lead to people losing their lives. I want to help us build on the trust that the Australian people have in us, and help figure out how to cut down misinformation and disinformation campaigns before they have a chance to truly take hold.”
Stephanie says women in power have always been popular targets.
“It's not just the usual social media hate that many of us have received. There is a growing amount of research stating that women in politics are disproportionately targeted by gendered disinformation campaigns, looking to undermine their ability to hold positions of power.
“Misogyny and misinformation sadly go hand in hand far too often. By cutting the impact of these mis- and disinformation campaigns, we could help curb the level to which they discourage women entering politics.”
Stephanie says that she hopes to share with colleagues what she learns from her discussions with counterparts from around the world, and create a guide for staff at every level of government to help them detect and counter disinformation which is so harmful to democracy.
The Elizabeth Reid Network comprises more than 1500 current and former female MPs, Senators and advisers
Funding for the scholarship contributions from members and through the generosity of corporate sponsor Maurice Blackburn.
The judging panel:
Tanya Plibersek - Minister for the Environment and Water
Annie O’Rourke - Founder and President of the Elizabeth Reid Network
Kirsten Mulley - Former ALP staffer and close friend to Bridget Whelan
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, The Whelan Family, Alison Hill, Andrea Wilson, Andrew Dempster, Andrew Giles MP, Anika Wells MP, Brian Mitchell, Dr Anne Aly MP, Dr Anne Aly MP, Dr Jim Chalmers MP, Hon Tony, Burke MP, Jennifer Mason, Josh Wilson MP, Kate Thwaites MP, Kirsten Andrews, Patrick Possum Gorman, Senator Anne Urquhart, Sharon Claydon MP, Skye Laris, Hon Terri Butler MP, Virginia O’Halloran
“It was such an honour to be named the winner of the Bridget Whelan Scholarship.
I’m looking forward to using this opportunity to delve deeper into the impact of disinformation, including travelling to the Cambridge Disinformation Summit later this year.
As I told those gathered at Parliament House last night, I am proud to be part of a party that takes gender equality seriously, and part of a government which has set the standard for women’s representation in cabinet, the ministry and frontbench positions.”
- Stephanie Anderson
Press Secretary Office of the Minister for Housing, Homelessness and Small Business and winner of the 2022 Bridget Whelan Scholarship.