The Parliamentary Careers Project

The Parliamentary Careers Project at Deakin examines the career trajectories and professional challenges faced by members of parliament before, during and after their time in parliament, and develops tools for parliaments to better support their current and former members.

Project aims

The Parliamentary Careers Project is developing new training and support programs to improve the experience of serving in parliament and leaving parliament. By examining the challenges faced by sitting and former MPs, it aims to strengthen underlying democratic culture and practice.

The professional, financial and mental health impacts of being a member of parliament, and becoming an ex-parliamentarian, create potential disincentives for people to seek parliamentary office and to leave office voluntarily at the appropriate time. This is detrimental for representative democracy, which is dependent on a broad cross-section of society being elected to parliament and on a reasonable degree of turnover of elected members.

Project funding

In 2020, Deakin was commissioned by the Parliament of Victoria and the Victorian Parliamentary Former Members’ Association to undertake the Transitioning to Life After Parliament research project. Support was also provided by the Victorian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Project findings

The project investigated the various challenges experienced by former parliamentarians in the transition to life after parliament and evaluated existing support structures available during and after a parliamentary career. The transitional support structures provided by 33 other Commonwealth parliaments were also examined.

The findings set out in this report improve our understanding of the short, medium and long-term challenges that MPs face after their parliamentary career has ended. These findings informed a set of recommendations to better support former Victorian MPs in the future.

Read the Transitioning to Life after Parliament report (PDF, 3.4MB)

Transitioning to life after parliament report

Project media

The project has attracted interest in the media given its relevance in society. Here’s a snapshot of published articles:

Media release: Former MPs speak of unemployment, grief and challenges post-politics (31 May 2022)

Parliament of Victoria news report: Research report examines transitioning to life after parliament (31 May 2022)

The Conversation article: Everything has gone: a world-first study looks at what happens when MPs lose their seats (14 June 2022)

ABC News Radio interview: MPs struggle with life after politics (16 June 2022)

ABC The Drum: Deakin’s transitioning from parliament research discussed on ABC The Drum (begins at 22.5-minute mark, 22 June 2022)

Sunday Herald Sun article: Ex-Federal MP Tim Wilson claims he cried in a ‘foetal position’ after losing seat to Teals (paywall content, 10 July 2022)

Principal researchers

Dr Amy Nethery is a senior lecturer in politics and policy at Deakin. A research leader with a strength in building partnerships, her work has been recognised with several awards and competitive grant success. She has been a partner in a large multinational collaborative research project funded by the European Commission.

Dr Zim Nwokora is a comparative political scientist with expertise on governance institutions. His recent research appears in journals such as Parliamentary Affairs, International Journal of Constitutional Law, Governance and Political Research Quarterly. He is currently a senior lecturer in politics and policy at Deakin University, and prior to that held postdoctoral fellowships at Melbourne Law School and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy (Griffith University). He holds Bachelor of Arts, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, all from the University of Oxford.

Dr Peter Ferguson is a senior lecturer in politics and policy at Deakin, and is currently Politics and International Relations Discipline Convenor. Before joining Deakin in 2015, Peter lectured in political science at the University of Melbourne, where he obtained his PhD in international relations in 2014.

Alfred Deakin Professor Matthew Clarke is Pro Vice-Chancellor Researcher Development. Prior to this, he was Foundation Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Matthew focuses on issues of social development with a focus on the Pacific region.

Alfred Deakin Professor David Lowe is Chair of Contemporary History at Deakin. His research centres on two main themes: the modern history of security, development and decolonisation in Asia and Australia; and historical consciousness in public life and policy. His most recent book (edited, with Carolyn Holbrook and Lyndon Megarrity) is Lessons from History: Leading Historians Tackle Australia’s Greatest Challenges (NewSouth, 2022).

Contact us

If you require further information about the Parliamentary Careers Project or would like to discuss future research partnerships, contact Dr Peter Ferguson:

Phone: +61 (03) 924 43969