Reality TV

EXCLUSIVE: Alisha Aitken-Radburn reveals her biggest “struggle” since leaving The Bachelor

“It was really affecting my mental health.”
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Alisha Aitken-Radburn was working as a political staffer when she first appeared on The Bachelor in 2018, and after the show she had a hard time balancing her two lives.

“I have really struggled over the last two to three years since The Bachelor,” she tells TV WEEK over the phone.

It’s hard to believe given Alisha has a massive online following and a successful career in corporate communications.

Not to mention her two stints on Bachelor in Paradise after her appearance in the main franchise.

Most Aussies know Alisha, pictured here with her partner Glenn Smith, best for her time on The Bachelor.

(Credit: Instagram)

From the outside, it looks like Alisha has enjoyed nothing but success since she first stepped out onto the Bachelor red carpet.

But she tells TV WEEK something was weighing on her for a long time.

“I’ve really wanted to complete a project and I was really struggling. It was really affecting my mental health,” she admits.

That’s where her new podcast In The House & In The Senate comes in.

Packed with conversations with some of the most compelling women in Australian politics, Alisha couldn’t be more proud of the project and what it could do.

“It’s been a really rough year for women in politics,” she says.

“I’m hoping that for some of the young women who are listening to this podcast, it acts as a sort of counterweight to all the awfulness we’ve seen this year.”

Alisha was working as a political staffer when she first appeared on Nick Cummins’ season of The Bachelor and knows exactly what it’s like for women in the political arena.

She also knows what it’s like to be a public persona and says that going on reality TV definitely changed the way her colleagues in politics looked at her.

At the same time, the audience Alisha amassed while on the show questioned her role as a political staffer and she sometimes faced backlash for sharing her own political views.

But Alisha says women like her should be able to be “multifaceted human beings”.

“I want to be able to go on Bachelor In Paradise and I also want to be political,” she says.

“I don’t think these things should be mutually exclusive. Women are able to be intelligent and also let their hair down and watch reality TV.”

If you need proof that politics and social media can mix, just look at TikTok, where an audio clip from Julia Gillard’s iconic ‘misogyny speech‘ recently went viral again.

Alisha says it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first female Prime Minister’s words still resonate with young women almost a decade later.

WATCH BELOW: Julia Gillard’s iconic misogyny speech. Story continues after video…

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“The reason why the misogyny speech has gone viral and has remained so historically relevant […] is because women feel it in their hearts,” she explains.

“It is such a mirror to our own experiences, not just in a political setting […] everyone can feel touches of misogyny as they move through this life.

“It’s just such a universal experience and that’s why it remains so powerful today.”

But being a woman in politics isn’t all misogyny speeches and rainbows. In fact, Alisha says that “you absolutely can’t win” as a woman in politics right now.

Just look at Julia Gillard, who faced vile criticism for her appearance and “frumpy” clothing, or Julie Bishop, who was slammed for being too fashionable in Parliament.

Alisha has set out to educate and empower young women when it comes to Aussie politics.

(Credit: Instagram)

More recently, stories from women like Brittany Higgins have exposed the misogyny and harassment that permeates even the highest levels of Australian politics.

Alisha understands why all of that would make young women wary of a political career, but she says there’s a huge change coming and young women need to be a part of it.

“This sort of behaviour has been going on for 20, 30 years. This has permeated women’s experiences in the political system throughout history. But I do think that it’s changing,” she says.

“I’m choosing to be an optimist at this time, and with everything that’s come to light this year I think this is a watershed moment.”

After she left The Bachelor in 2018, the now 28-year-old found herself with a huge new platform and she’s been itching to use it to educate young women on politics ever since.

WATCH BELOW: Women in Politics Australia. Post continues after video…

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“I’ve got this really big audience now and I do feel a really strong obligation to use it in a really positive way,” she says.

“I received heaps and heaps of messages from young women particularly […] who were really interested in the political process but didn’t really understand what the path is to a career in politics.”

At first Alisha would reply to the girls’ messages one by one, but over time she realised she could reach so many more with something bigger.

Something like a podcast.

Now she hopes to spread information and empowerment with In The House & In The Senate, even if she faces some backlash from people who don’t think you can do The Bachelor and a political podcast.

“It’s taken me so long to publish a podcast like this because […] everyone’s scrutiny can weigh quite heavily on you.”

But she wouldn’t let that stop her, and now Alisha hopes that the podcast can shine a light on all the good women are doing in politics, even if we don’t always see it on the news.

“It’s about visibility. It’s about seeing other women in positions of power and realising that it is achievable,” Alisha reminds us.

And if that encourages other young women to start down a political career path, well, Alisha would be thrilled.

Alisa Aitken-Radburn’s podcast In The House & In The Senate is part of the Acast Creator Network. You can subscribe and listen on Acast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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