A Guide to effective activism in Australia in 2017

Share this post on effective activism around. This list of the things we can do right now came out of a brainstorming session online where people were despairing a bit and I thought creating a post would render it more available to the public. If you have more ideas on effective activism to share or want to critique an idea listed here (I am not an expert on these things), leave a comment and I will add it with credit. Some of these will have different options to cater for the run up to the WA election.

Before you read this post, please read this one by Gilbert Caluya on the current attitudes involved within activism in Australia and what you should not be doing or thinking if you don’t want to trip yourself up as you go. It’s the must read before reading the rest of this list, I insist.

1. Find out who your local representatives are. 

    Depending on the issue, this may mean your list of people to call/email/both might include a local govt rep, a state parliament rep, a federal parliament rep and a cabinet minister. 

2. Call & email them

The thinking is that the representatives care about their salaries which depends on getting re-elected so they need to think about pleasing the kingmakers in their parties and the majority opinion of their constituency. So make them realise what the majority opinion is by contacting them in groups. Contact those who directly represent you. They don’t care about constituents in other areas with other representatives. 

 If not in the run up to a state/local election, then pick one issue, organise around it, join any groups already existing who are organised around the issue and then call and email your list of people and ask them clearly to a) respond to you and b) to act in a certain way (ie: oppose a bill etc)

2b: if in the run up to a state/local election, you may get away with mentioning several issues but still keep it to two or three and make it a coordinated effort. Go for the things that again have easy actions for your members to act upon such as opposing Roe 8 and the sale of Western Power. If in WA, mention that you would like to see some action or you will have to vote for One Nation (not that you would/wouldn’t – I personally don’t recommend it but hey your choice) and/or the Greens.

Issues that we need action on: Roe 8, indigenous rights, centrelink debt crisis, welfare funding cuts, asylum seeker policies and detention centres, racism and racist ideologies, unemployment issues, defunding of WA literary arts sector, copyright laws and PIRs, the sale of Western Power, expense rorting, WA’s state debt and the money spent on Skyworks instead of on infrastructure and services etc…


3. Talk to local groups before calling

They may be able to help you with what would be the most advantageous or easiest thing to ask your representatives to do. They may have scripts you can use for emailing and calling. So check in with them before calling or emailing.

4. Once you have emailed/called keep them accountable

Report on who responded and how. If they were nasty to you, record that and share it across social media. Keep calling if they do not respond.

5. When calling be as polite as possible and calm.

You have the right to hang up if they are abusive. You have the right to report that abuse. Try to remain calm as possible. Hang up the moment you do not feel safe. Record it if possible.

6. Divulge group info only if group agrees and you feel safe to do so.

If asked about being part of a group and you have permission and feel safe to do so, then say you are. Otherwise, state that you are an individual and that you are horrified at the current stance on said issue.

7. Cover the rallies and flood social media.

Go to rallies and film and photograph what goes on and pass it around on social media. Pass anything newsworthy on to the reporters you know – you can find a list of them on my Twitter account.

8. If you can, then post.

If you have the ability to post about these issues on a blog or page, then do so.  Share your footage of events and posts on the pages of politicians and parties and tag them in your tweets about the issues.

9. Follow the campaign trail. 

Turn up to campaign events for your local, state and federal representatives and ask them the questions about the issues. Do not carry the signs if you are the person wanting to ask a question. Ask the question as many times as you need to and do not let go of the mic if given one and ask the representative why they won’t answer. Get someone else to film it and share the footage of the representative if they do not respond. Hold them accountable – as your representative they have to pay attention to you, they have to listen to your concerns, they have to answer your questions. If you are polite and firm, they cannot say that they have been harassed by you. You have just been persistent.

10. Keep in mind whose land you are on.

Always center the voices of indigenous people in your effective activism please. When possible use the indigenous language local to where you are in your daily life.

11. Go to them.

Go to district offices of representatives and ask for a meeting. Report on social media if people refuse to meet with you. Report what they say to you.

12. Talk to the media.

Organise group press conferences outside the district office if the response is unsatisfactory or they have not responded. State your concerns to the media and hold your representatives accountable.

13. Use encryption wisely.

If you want to coordinate things on your phone and are concerned about security, please use Signal to do so. Signal is your best option, they cannot give info away because they don’t record it at all and if you start using Signal for all your messaging then no one can tell who you are talking to by when you use it. So make it your default messaging app. Do not use Whatsapp, Google chat or FB chat.

14. Do not lock your phone with a fingerprint.

Put a pincode on your phone before attending rallies and events. You cannot be forced to divulge a passcode. If possible leave the phone at home or turn off geolocation.

15. Look after yourself.

If you need to take a break for self care then do so. If you cannot attend in person, find other ways to be involved. Always try to do this in a group of like-minded individuals. Tell people where you are going and when you will be back in touch and when to get worried if they don’t hear from you.

16. Be vocal.

Talk to your friends and family about what, how and why you are doing what you do. They may not join you but perhaps they will call someone or vote differently. Pass on the office numbers of representatives and let people know if they are refusing to answer the phone etc.

17. You can be quiet in your effective activism too.

Join a group or organisation to work behind the scenes. If you can, volunteer to work with parties that you feel you can support. Figure out how best you can use your knowledge and skills and go do that.


These are all things that you are legally allowed to do. None of it constitutes harassment. None of it is anything you should be locked up for.

A lot of ideas about effective activism came from this guide to effective activism in the US. This is another one to what individuals can do and here is another about self care. If you have more ideas then please add them in the comments and I will add them to this list as we go.

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