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The Election Countdown is on, Time to Get Your Voice Heard

20 November 2018 at 8:37 am
Jo Scard
Fifty Acres founder and managing director Jo Scard offers her tips to ensure not for profits get their voices heard before the next federal election.

Jo Scard | 20 November 2018 at 8:37 am


The Election Countdown is on, Time to Get Your Voice Heard
20 November 2018 at 8:37 am

Fifty Acres founder and managing director Jo Scard offers her tips to ensure not for profits get their voices heard before the next federal election.

Hello again.

Every week that goes past in politics seems to get curiouser and curiouser.

We’re still not quite clear when an election will be, but sometime this month we should get to see the 2019 federal Parliamentary calendar which will give us an indication of a potential window for the election.

That said, right now we don’t know, but in my mind, calling an election at the end of January, after Australia Day for a March date is a real possibility to help prevent the government from slipping further in the polls. Since the last election, the Coalition has consistently been behind in the polls each week including IPSOS, Newspoll and the Guardian Essential Polls.

Obviously, no one knows when this will happen until the prime minister calls the election. They don’t typically like giving up on the prime ministership while they’re in there because they enjoy all the bells and whistles that go along with the job. But, the pressure on Scott Morrison to try and minimise potential electoral losses may force his hand to call an election in the first few months of the new year before his government’s position worsens.

So where does that leave the social sector right here, right now in November of this year?

Next week and the week after are the last two scheduled sitting weeks for the year, and we don’t yet have a calendar for 2019 so these may well be the very last sitting weeks before an election.

So if you don’t have any meetings booked to talk about your issues – then what are your options?

Well, it looks something like this:

  • The most important thing to remember is to not sit on your hands – to do nothing achieves absolutely zero for you and your organisation.
  • As I’ve suggested before, you need to commit your thoughts to an email or letter (which you should PDF and email (don’t use post, that’s last century’s technology).
  • Once you’ve got a few ideas, then you can approach people to see if you can arrange a quick telephone meeting with an advisor to your local federal MP or a relevant minister, or shadow minister.
  • I’ve mentioned that the polls seem to suggest there may be a change of government but I’m not going to bet on it – so I wouldn’t advise you to either. You need to keep everyone in your sights and engage with all stakeholders, because as a not for profits you are duty-bound to do so – and it’s the wise thing to do.
  • Keep calling until you get an answer – that means keep asking for, and arranging quick 10-15 minute meetings over the phone or if you’re lucky a face-to-face meeting.
  • If you don’t ask now, it might be too late to engage if you leave it much later.

Apart from meetings and putting forward your asks to the government and opposition, there’s plenty else that you can be doing.

  • Ask your supporters, members and networks to engage with and support you.
  • Prepare and circulate community toolkits with social media post suggestions and tiles, clear key messages, printable posters and letter templates that can be email to their representatives in support of your organisation and issues.
  • Organise a town hall meeting in some marginal seats or involve the minister or shadow minister that’s most relevant to your organisation.
  • Reach out to the media to let the local community know what you’re doing to improve their lives in relation to the issue to encourage support.

The most important thing is to just do something – democracy doesn’t thrive on inaction – it’s only by expressing your voice that people can hear you.

Jo Scard  |  @ProBonoNews

Jo Scard is the founder and managing director of Fifty Acres.

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