Find your voice. Have a say. Act with justice in mind.
You can take action every month (also make sure to enter your details in this site – see above and enter in your details in the ‘SIGN UP NOW!‘ section – name, mobile and/or email). You can also go to our other websites like Just Holy Hardware and Just End Persecution and enter in your details (go to ‘Just Join In’ sidebar on these pages) to get updates.
What if you want to meet with your local politician, or get the message out in the popular media? Read on …
You can have this desire to start making a difference in the world, and transforming situations of injustice but it can often be hard to find out where you start. Below is basic information to help do just that – to become on advocate on an issue.
- Who & What is an MP?
- How can my MP help?
- How do I know who my MP is?
- Writing to your MP
- Organise a meeting with your MP
- Adding your Voice through the Media in Writing
- Having your Say in the Media on Talkback Radio
- Details of Talkback Radio Stations and Programs (Melbourne-based)
MP stands for Member of Parliament. Australia elects both a State and a Federal government. Some laws are administered by the State and some are administered by the Federal government.You will have both a state Member of Parliament and a Federal Member of Parliament represented in your suburb. Under the Federal system there are also Senators elected to represent the whole state. In Victoria there are also members of an upper house of the State Parliament that will represent your local area.Some of the issues you will act upon through JustAct will target State MP’s and some will target Federal MP’s and Senators depending on which level of government has the power to create or influence change.
MPs and Senators are our elected representatives; that means we have the right to inform them of our views and encourage them to support the issues we care about. Even if you are under 18 you are a future voter and your views matter.People who have been involved in politics tell us that if an MP receives enough correspondence on an issue from people in their electorate they are compelled to act in some way. Writing or visiting an MP helps them know you are concerned about an issue and can encourage them to act.
To find out who your Federal MP is go to the Australian Electoral Commission website. You can type in your postcode if you do not know the name of the electorate you live in.
The Australian Electoral Commission will tell you who your representative is and then to find their contact details you can then visit the Parliamentary Website and look up your members details. To find out who your State MPs are (Upper and Lower houses) go to the Parliament of Victoria website and type in your address or visit the Parliament of Tasmania website.
Why would I need to write to an MP?
MPs themselves tell us that if they receive enough correspondence on an issue from people in their electorate they are compelled to act in some way. Writing or visiting an MP helps them know you are concerned about an issue and can encourage them to act. It can also educate them! There are so many issues that people are concerned with and it is hard to stay up-to-date with all of them. So visiting or writing to your MP can help keep them informed.
Writing to your MP
When writing to an MP you do not need to be an expert nor do you need to write a very long letter. State your concerns clearly and ask your MP to respond to your letter.Decide what you wish to say. Think of a few key messages that are accurate. If we provide a letter writing action for JustAct we will provide a few hints for what you might like to say. Use these in your own words. When putting a letter together use your personal experience as much as possible. If you have time a handwritten letter is great as it shows you have taken the initiative and not just copied a form letter. However, if you don’t have time to handwrite a typed letter is still effective. Remember to try to use your own words.
Email and Faxes
Email and fax is a good way to also communicate with your MP when you wish to convey a short message. An example may be to congratulate an MP on their public actions or comments. Alternatively you may wish to send a short email to express your disappointment at an MP’s actions or comments. It is really helpful to acknowledge positive action when it occurs so don’t be shy about congratulating your MP on something you believe is good!! MP’s need to hear feedback from those they represent, which means you!
Making an appointment
Ring or call by and ask for an appointment. You will usually be asked what it’s about. Ask how long the appointment is for. Some MP’s may request that you put your issues in writing first before an appointment is made. This generally gives them a chance to brief themselves on the issue before you visit. If an MP insists on a letter first, make sure you follow up the electorate office within 2 weeks of sending your letter to secure an appointment.Call the MP’s local electorate office – as far ahead as possible, do not expect to get an appointment within days. You may even have to wait a couple of months so planning ahead is helpful. When you make the appointment let the electorate office know how many people will be coming, their names and any organisations represented. Ask how much time will be allowed, but plan how to end your presentation if your time is cut short. On the day of the meeting, call before the appointment to confirm it.You don’t have to go alone – Take someone else with you, or even a group of 2 or 3 people. Or contact us at JustAct and we will see if we can join you or help you find someone else to.
In the meeting
A group of 3 or 4 works well: one to introduce your group and outline why you’ve come, one or two to speak to aspects of your cause, another to take notes. Swap roles during the meeting. Have a rehearsal and make notes of what you want to present.
Ask questions if you need to. Make it clear that you can come back on another occasion if your MP does not have an answer immediately. If you are asked a question which you cannot answer, say you don’t know and arrange to get back to them with the answer.Always ask the MP if they can follow up on your issue either by raising your concern with the relevant Minister or by asking about some other supportive involvement. Options could include writing a letter raising your concerns to the relevant Minister, asking a question in Parliament, raising the issue at a party meeting, talking to fellow MP’s, or tabling a petition.Before you leave the meeting, establish what will happen next and when.
Write or ring to say thanks and to confirm future contact or action. If you have agreed to provide follow up information ensure that you do so within a couple of weeks. Check in with the group that meet with the MP and assess what went well and what didn’t. Create strategies for future contact.
Keep in Mind
You may hold a different or opposite view from your MP. If you have opposing views, an argument is usually not the best way to go. Alternative and better approaches are to ask for reasons why their view is held or come back with evidence supporting your case. If your views are the same, ask how you can help him/her to be effective. Think about how to make the meeting productive for both sides.
A meeting with an MP is a good subject for a note in a newsletter or a letter in the local newspaper. However, it is a good idea to let the MP know that such a note or letter to the editor is planned. It may be also wise to check with the MP regarding what you say about the meeting so the MP is not misrepresented. When you write make sure you name the relevant MP and if possible the Minister who holds the portfolio relevant to the issues you are raising. This way your letter or article will be noticed by your MP.
If an MP consistently refuses to meet with you it may also be a good subject for your local press.
The thought of visiting you MP might be intimidating but remember they are representing their electorate, which means you!
Write to your local, state or national paper can be a great way to raise an issue. It doesn’t have to be long and your opinion as a young person counts!The good thing about writing to the media is that you will be not only educating your community but also letting your local MP know that there are people who care about this issue in their community. You can write a letter/email to the editor or write or ring the paper and suggest they write an article on a particular issue (especially your local paper who are often looking for stories!!). Have a look in your local or state paper to get an idea of what a Letter to the Editor is and how long they usually are. Remember the larger newspapers around Australia have great websites of daily news to keep you up-to-date.
Tips for writing a letter
First and most important decide what you wish to say. Think of a few key messages that are concise and must be factually accurate. Don’t be afraid to call up someone working in a campaign on the issue you are concerned about to check your facts with them. For organisations working on different issues go to JustLinks.
- Include any personal experience you have. Letters are more likely to be published if they contain personal knowledge or experience.
- Keep your letter brief especially if it is a letter to the Editor. Many newspapers receive hundreds of letters a day, so you will have more chance to get published if you keep your letter short.
- Try to keep it simple whilst getting your message across. You don’t need to have a large vocabulary to make your point passionately.
- If you have time ring (or visit) your local MP’s office and ask them what their view is on the issue you are writing on. You can refer to the MP in your letter noting their support or lack of it.
- Send a positive message if it is deserved. If your local MP has responded positively to your visit or letter then write the paper and let them know. Whilst much of the time we will be calling for change, positive letters are good too as we all should hear about and celebrate the good changes that are made!
- Remember to be polite, your letter is unlikely to be published if it is offensive.Include your contact with the letter in case the newspaper wishes to follow up with you.
- Don’t be discouraged if your letter is not printed. Keep trying until you are successful or enlist others to help you!
Talkback radio can be an important tool for getting your message across.You can ring, email or SMS what you want to say (contact details are below)!Talkback is an equivalent to letters to the editor page and is a cheap and easy way to promote issues. There are some simple tips for ringing in to talkback that can make it a fun experience rather than a daunting one.
Preparing to ring
You are a person in the community with experience and an opinion!! Don’t feel as though you have to be an expert to have a voice and use it.Try not to use a mobile phone. Fixed phone lines generally sound better over the radio.If the topic has already been raised on the radio use a pen and paper to write down any points you wish to make in response to the discussion.
How much should I say?
Use a few facts to get your point across. Choose 2 or 3 points, no more.Use your experience, if you have been involved in the issue or met someone who is affected by the issue you are talking about let the announcer know. Your own experience is credible but please also be at ease and be attentive to changing names and keeping names confidential if you are telling someone else’s story. Get straight to the point. If you have more than one point to make indicate this from the start. “Hi Virginia, I have two points to make. The firstâ€¦.”If you feel you are being pushed for information you don’t have say so. “That is not within my area of expertise so I don’t feel I can comment but I am able to talk with experience about â€¦..” or “I’m not the right person to answer that but you could talk to â€¦..Don’t be afraid to correct information “The information you have is incorrect. The actual situation in Victoria isâ€¦â€¦ or I know of a family/person who experiencesâ€¦..”If the interviewer is pushing you off the topic don’t be afraid to draw it back. “That is an interesting point but I wish to comment further on â€¦.”Don’t feel you have to wait for the topic to come on the radio. Use this opportunity to suggest that the radio program get someone on to talk further about the issue.
Last but not least make your points with confidence and passion (try not to get angry on the phone, wait until you’re off!).
Triple J – 107.5 FM
Use the web link/email form to suggest they run a story on an issue
Call 1300 0555 36 to contact programs during talkback or Super Request (6pm-9pm AEST) or text/SMS 1975 7 555
Talkback line (03) 9696 1278
Talkback line (03) 9414 1774
Use the online email form
Red Symons 5:30am – 8am Talkback
Jon Faine 8:30am – midday Talkback SMS 19 774 774
Richard Stubbs 1pm – 3pm
Lindy Burns Drive 3pm – 6pm 1300 222 774 or SMS 19 774 774.
Tony Delroy 10pm-2am
The Sunday show with Jane Clifton 10am – 12 noon
3CR 855 AM
Talkback (03) 9419 0155
If you ever want any more information or have any questions contact us and we will be happy to help out so contact us. All the best in your campaigning!