Named after the late Joan Kirner, Victoria's first and only female Premier, the program will enable up-and-coming female leaders to obtain the critical skills, networks and experiences required to advance their leadership careers.

Twenty-one successful applicants were selected from over 280 applications across six areas that aligned with Joan Kirner's passions: education, environment, women's health, the western suburbs, indigenous women and culturally diverse women.

The program will help Rachel develop her leadership skills and networks, which she plans to use in her research to help improve the outcomes of children with disabilities and their families.

Working in the Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy (CRE-CP) within the Developmental Disability and Rehabilitation Research (DDRR) group, Rachel has focused her knowledge in two main projects.

Her PhD is studying the development and testing of new approaches to training two-wheel bike riding skills in children with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Rachel also works on the Hip Surveillance Project, which aims to develop and implement a framework for the regular monitoring of hip problems in Victorian children with CP. This way children with the condition have consistent management and prevention of hip dislocation.

Both exciting projects were inspired by her clinical work as a physiotherapist with the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service. An active contributor to MCRI, Rachel is also member of the Sustainability Committee and the Committee for Equity and Development of Staff (CEADS).

"It is a huge honour to be selected to the program," Rachel said. "I was thrilled to meet the other 20 young and emerging women leaders at the first two days of the program last week. A diverse group of women from many different fields of interest, experiences and perspectives - each woman is passionate about their field and inspiring to be around."

A true believer that each day is full of opportunities for acts of leadership, Rachel said she was constantly inspired by those around her MCRI. Grateful to all the women in her life who have supported her and stood up for what they believe in, Rachel was especially inspired by her PhD supervisors, her clinical and research colleagues, the families she works with and her mum for the wonderful example they set.