How to turn your clicktivism into activism in 2017
Starting to realise your Tweets probably won’t change the world? Let Nevena Spirovska of the Australian Sex Party and Melbourne Period Project show you how to take real action.
Much has been said in recent months about the new generation of activists that have been forged through this decade's social, political and humanitarian turmoil. With Brexit and a Trump election behind us, we've never been more aware of what can happen when we're apathetic to injustice playing out around us. In Australia, we're hardly insulated from these issues: we've reached a malignant stalemate with people who've come to seek refuge in Australia. According to a senior Australian government bureaucrat, the Manus Island immigration detention centre is (apparently) penciled for closure by the end of 2017. Melbourne City Councillors have cruelly voted in favour of expanding the definition of 'camping' in an effort criminalise homelessness in the CBD. And one in three women in Australia will retire with no superannuation, putting them at greater risk of experiencing poverty, housing stress and homelessness in retirement.
Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, there are so shortage of issues that require your attention; preoccupying both your mind and timeline. But it's vital we move beyond the usual one-click online activity, to take real action and fight to make a tangible difference. Join us in committing to a real plan to fight for what matters to you.
Beware of clicktivism
Online petitions are the database builders for many political parties. They're often used as a way to bolster the ego of web-savvy supporters and swell eNewsletter numbers. For a petition to be an effective political tool, it must be correctly addressed to the parliament it's being bestowed to and meet its presentation guidelines. If you're only inputting your name, email and postcode, chances are you're only signing up to a feel-good auto-response email. Similarly, if you're inputting your details into a filled out email, most likely you'll get a courteous reply from a MP's staffer when the campaign is over and not much else.
Instead, contact your representative
The very sad fact is that most MPs are not the cream of a particularly diversified crop. Their journey from private education institution to law degree, to political office does not make for an enlightening experience. But there are members of parliament who care and who will do battle on your behalf. Every parliamentary sitting week in Victoria, a MP must present a 'Constituency Question', that is, a query from a person in their electorate. Write to your local member and demand that your issue take precedence. Contacting your representatives by phone is the most effective method to make your voice heard, rather than sending a generic email.
Set tangible goals
Closing the gender-wage gap may be a noble goal to work toward, but without the unequivocal support of every level of government, it's going to be difficult to achieve on your own. Are all of your friends enrolled to vote? Are their details up to date with both the state and federal electoral bodies? Do they understand how voting works in their state? Organise a peer-learning session close to an election using unbiased information and empower members of your community by helping them understand the political process whether it be for a council, state or federal election.
Go party shopping
Like sands through the hourglass, political parties change with time. You may have confidently voted for X in the last election, but a lot could've changed since that time. What did X deliver during their term? Who are the new candidates for party X? What changes have their management made to the party? Don't get stuck in a loveless, long-term relationship! See what other parties are doing and you may be surprised by the amount of minor parties making a major difference. Some election results can be decided on a couple dozen votes — your decision does count.
Staying informed is critical to making sense of the world events around you. But screaming into the Facebook algorithm will only achieve a reaction from like-minded thinkers. Find an organisation that shares your values and consider not just donating your money, but also your time. If you're looking to help, start by listening, learning and asking questions, not by prescribing answers. Do something not just for yourself, but because it needs to be done.