Melbourne Campaigners’ Network held a ‘Campaign QandA’ last week with a panel of folks from different movements. We heard from:

  • Shaun Murray from Quit Coal. Quit Coal is a rapidly growing community group which campaigns against the expansion of the coal industry in Victoria. Quit Coal uses a range of tactics to let the broader Victorian community know about plans for new coal projects in Victoria, and pressure the government to stop investing in them. Tactics include rallies and public forums, outreach at festivals and community events, lobbying politicians, speaking to the media, and nonviolent direct action.
  • Wil Stracke from the Australian Services Union. The ASU represents Social and Community Services (SACS) workers who provide services to vulnerable people in our society. The historically low wages in the sector are directly connected to the fact that it is a majority female workforce. The ASU led a long Equal Pay campaign which won a commitment to increased funding for the sector and culminated in a successful Fair Work Australia court case.
  • Renee Carr from the Global Poverty Project. The Global Poverty Project is an educational and campaigning organisation that activates citizens to be a part of the global movement to end extreme poverty. The Global Poverty Project utilises the power of education, communications, advocacy, campaigning and the media to work towards a world without extreme poverty within a generation.

Quit Coal drop in on Parliament.

Here are some of my highlights from our last Melbourne Campaigners’ Network event for the year:

  • Shaun shared a powerpoint with pictures of numerous actions by Quit Coal, showcasing the group’s creativity, growing skills (like climbing Parliament) and quick responses to strategic opportunity. Shaun spoke about the value of mobilising people and Quit Coal’s approach to adding an extra dimension to the usual rallies to make them more interesting and exciting. See the Quit Coal blog for examples of actions.
  • Shaun extolled the virtues of a functional database to enable targeted engagement with supporters. He spoke about the challenges of being a rapidly growing group which needs to establish infrastructure in order to make the most of new supporters. Cindy from the AMWU expressed awe at the amount of work Quit Coal has been able to achieve without paid staff – an example of the interesting cross-movement interactions we get at Melbourne Campaigners’ Network!
  • Renee talked about GPP’s efforts to give people an emotional connection to the issue of extreme poverty, not just facts and statistics. An example is Live Below the Line which challenges participants to feed themselves on $2 a day. When people have a deeper connection to the issue they are more likely to take ongoing action. GPP also uses social media and new technology to build identity and community, such as through the new Global Citizen platform.
  • Renee talked about writing campaign communications. Don’t approach it as ‘What do I need to communicate to these people?’ but rather ‘What do they need to hear in order to take action?’
  • Wil talked about the process the union went through of surveying and listening to SACS workers to ensure buy-in and appropriate messaging. They knew they had succeeded when workers started saying the messages back to them, word-perfect and completely owned. While the ASU used the classic ‘Anger – Hope – Action’ framework they were careful to work with workers where they were at and focus on what motivates them – in this instance the welfare of their clients.
  • Wil talked about the importance of fun in campaign activities, to keep people engaged over the long haul. The ASU took on board an idea from a delegate to use a flash mob dance to ‘She Works Hard for the Money’. This was a very popular, empowering and scaleable tactic (from a group of four outside an MP’s office to hundreds at Federation Square). You can catch a glimpse of the flash-mob in this overview of the campaign:


Thanks to our fabulous presenters and participants who contributed to a great discussion. Love your work!

MCN is taking a break and will back in the new year – see you at the US Election Report-Back on Thursday 28 February at the Wheeler Centre.