Carmen Lawrence entered politics in 1986. She was at various times WA Minister for Education and Aboriginal Affairs, and was the first woman premier and treasurer of a state government. She shifted to federal politics in 1994 when she was elected as the Member for Fremantle and was appointed Minister for Health and Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women. She was elected national president of the Labor Party in 2004 prior to retiring from politics in 2007. She is now Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Change in the School of Psychology at The University of Western Australia and Chair of the Australian Heritage Council.