Great advocacy starts here

Posted on 09 May 2024

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Violence Against Women Sydney Protest April2024 Getty Images
A young woman calls for change in Sydney amid national rallies highlighting a spate of domestic violence murders in Australia. Picture: Getty

One of the most powerful tools any community group can have is the ability to inspire and mobilise support for the benefit or development of the greater community. This doesn’t just mean recruiting volunteers – it can also mean rallying support from institutions, other not-for-profit groups, government agencies and media outlets.

Making the world a better place is the reason why most not-for-profits exist, yet achieving that goal is not always so straightforward.

Long, hard and persistent advocacy is often needed to push those in power to accept changes or reforms.

The 2017 decision to allow same-sex couples to marry was a watershed moment for the country’s equal rights movement. Many progressives believed it heralded a new era of inclusion and acceptance. Yet many of those same campaigners and Indigenous rights advocates were left to grieve after the Voice to Parliament referendum was soundly defeated in October last year.

Despite the setback, First Nations advocates have not stepped away from their desire to improve things for Australia’s first people, and we expect many of those same voices to dust themselves off for yet more battles in the future.

Not so long ago, charities were battling attempts to crimp their advocacy, prompting the formation of a coalition of 100 organisations under the Hands off Our Charities banner, which fought attempts to silence activism.

These days, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits commissioner Sue Woodward is much more accepting of charities’ rights to advocate, last year declaring, “We recognise that advocacy is an activity that often helps charities achieve their purpose. Charities can and do advocate.”

At the Institute of Community Directors Australia (ICDA), we support the aim of many organisations to steer policies, laws and public opinion in a direction that will help their mission.

This is why we’ve developed a great free library of resources on campaigns, lobbying, organising, and working with the media.

Tap on the links below for comprehensive information on advocating well.

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