Building people power for our democracy
16 October 2023 at 8:57 am
Isabella has a background as an organiser, campaigner, and activist educator in Australia’s climate movement and broader social justice spaces. She currently works on campaigns for a fairer democracy, and strongly believes in the power of young people to realise a better kind of politics. She’s dedicated to developing leadership in others and supporting movements to make our communities stronger, hold decision makers accountable, and protect our beautiful planet. Read on for our fantastic change maker discussion with Isabella.
Describe your career trajectory and how you got to your current position.
I studied International Relations at uni where they taught a specific understanding of the concept of power – that decisions are made and the world is changed by big institutions and old political systems. At the same time I was beginning to be involved as a volunteer in the grassroots climate movement, in fossil fuel divestment campaigns and in non-violent direct action. I experienced a very different kind of power, that of community organising and of what kinds of change can be achieved through collective action. My volunteering led to work as an organiser at the Australian Conservation Foundation, supporting local groups to have that same experience of grappling with and fighting to build the power we need to overcome the fossil fuel industry for a safe climate future.
Since that time I’ve done lots of different pieces of work in different organisations and groups in service of empowering others to take action on the issues they care most about. My work has had a focus on activist training, and more recently, in communications and digital mobilising.
I now work at the Australian Democracy Network as the Engagement Coordinator, managing our people power and communications work.
What does this role mean to you?
At ADN we recognise that the way our democratic system functions impacts every other aspect of our lives, from how our health and education systems are resourced, to the clean air we breathe. A healthy democracy with a robust civil society helps progress social change issues across the sector.
We do all our work with others – networked with other organisations and with our community of volunteer democracy advocates. My role supports our work to build a new people-powered movement for a fairer democracy and to change the story we’re told about our political system and who has power. Day to day that means empowering others to speak out and act in service of the issues that drive them.
I’m very grateful to work in an excellent team of very smart, passionate, and kind people; and to support dedicated community members in our collective work for a fairer democracy.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your career, and how did you overcome it?
Facing burnout. I overcame it by learning to be patient, to rest, and to fight my natural state of constant urgency – and with a lot of support from and inspiration by others who have done this work for a long time.
If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you give yourself as you first embarked on your career?
That change takes time, and that there’s no one right way to do activism.
How do you unwind after work?
I mostly work from home and find it useful to create a false transit to mark the end of the work day. Usually that looks like taking my dog for a big walk and calling a friend or my partner to talk about something that isn’t work.