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Tactics and Big Ideas


Tuesday, 12th February 2019 at 7:30 am
Jo Scard
Fifty Acres founder and managing director Jo Scard offers advice on how to make sure you succeed in your government engagement campaign in the next few months.


Tuesday, 12th February 2019
at 7:30 am
Jo Scard


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Tactics and Big Ideas
Tuesday, 12th February 2019 at 7:30 am

Fifty Acres founder and managing director Jo Scard offers advice on how to make sure you succeed in your government engagement campaign in the next few months.

Well, not many sleeps now everybody. We seemed to have avoided a February/March election but the days are creeping up on us, with a news report I heard last night saying it was “only 100 days or less until we get to cast our votes”. Only 100, that seems like a small(ish) number doesn’t it.

Each fortnight I get the opportunity to share my ideas and recommendations for how the social sector should approach this year’s federal election. For some of you this is a great opportunity you’ve been planning for a while – for others, it all seems like a behemoth and you’re not sure where to start.

Historically, in Australia, not many campaigns succeed on public protest alone. This is not to say that protest isn’t critical, it is – think same-sex marriage, where a broad groundswell of support plus the endorsement of corporates, the media, politicians and key opinion leaders moved that to legislative success.

Now, all these things are not easy to do all at the same time. It’s like juggling more than two balls at once. Hard to do isn’t it.

Successful change requires a number of factors to line up – a shift in community sentiment, awareness, support from the media and a demonstrable move in the opinions of key and visible opinion leaders.

So right now, what are the options to engage and position your campaign so it has a likelihood of winning in the short-term, ie between now and the election? In my opinion it comes down to this:

Option 1 is putting forward an idea, policy initiative or funding ask that is realistically framed and therefore likely to be supported without much opposition. You can achieve that by direct engagement, meetings, lobbying marginal seat candidates and deploying mainstream media and social platforms to support your mission.

Option 2 is being prepared for some hard work and building a campaign around an idea or ask that will generate widespread community support, although it may not garner the immediate support from the major parties. This option will require more work and more resources (people on the ground, advertising and grit).

I firmly believe that a good idea or principle is always worth fighting for and doesn’t always receive the support of mainstream parties immediately – look at the same-sex marriage campaign or Kids Off Nauru. But, more often than not, it takes time. So, if you aren’t well on your way getting that “big idea” over the line in under 100 days it may not be doable, but it is something you can plan for in the coming months and years. Never give up if you know you’re right.

Looking at what’s happening this week: the latest Newspoll puts the Coalition at 47 per cent and Labor at 53 per cent on two-party preferred. This result seems to be settling in, give or take a point or two, and signifies a 2.5 per cent swing or a gain for Labor of 13-14 seats.

Sportsbet currently has the odds of a Labor win at $1.18 and a Coalition victory at $4.40. The media is calling the race “very close” for a couple of reasons – it increases engagement and reflects the real world. It’s not over until the day after the polls and anything can happen.

So in the next few weeks:

  • Keep going and don’t give up – keep in touch with the key decision makers who will decide on your thing/ask/campaign. Even if you just reach out by email and arrange a phone call that’s a bonus. Making contact with a possible new government is important to do before the election.
  • Think about the medium- to long-term. 100 days isn’t long away and what will you do just afterwards? Make a plan, be nimble, be ready and think about who you need to speak with and what you need to do just after the election?

To help not for profits, Fifty Acres is offering free Government Engagement Workshops on 26, 27 and 28 February in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

With an early federal election possibly just around the corner, organisations, not for profits and companies need to take action now to put their organisation in a strong position whatever the outcome.

In this free workshop, led by myself, you will learn the practical tips, and actions your organisation should consider in the lead up to the election.

Our workshop will cover the things you can do right now, as well as some medium- to long-term plans your organisation should adopt to boost your government engagement in 2019 and beyond.

There will be a free goody bag, tea, coffee and refreshments.

We hope to see you there!

Register now for free to book your seat, select your city below:

If you want help to navigate the political landscape, or a winning engagement strategy, get in touch with us on 02 6281 7350.


Jo Scard  |  @ProBonoNews

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


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