Being heard and taking action
04 August 2022
Even though students may not be eligible to vote there are lots of ways to have your voice heard and get involved in our democratic processes.
Over the last few months, students across the state have been thinking about what you would say to parliament if you were an MP, as part of our annual Parliament Prize. Given that a number of MPs take part as judges of this competition, and information about the broad range of topics raised is shared with all members, this is a unique opportunity to speak directly to parliament.
In your Parliament Prize entries, more than 670 students have spoken passionately and articulately about the issues that matter to you. So, what next?
The following questions will help you think about the different people you might need to contact to help you, and there is also some information about different actions you can take or ways to communicate your message.
Find out what's happening in parliament
To stay up-to-date with discussions in parliament about issues facing Victorians, you can read the news site on the parliament website, watch live broadcasts of either the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council, follow Parliament of Victoria on social media, or read our regular blog article, "What's happening in parliament" that we publish twice a term on our education page.
Finding your audience
Before chosing what action, or actions, you want to take on an issue, it's important to think about who else might need to be involved and who needs to hear your voice. Are you right at the beginning of a change and need to find some like-minded people to help futher the cause, or are there already organisations and people that are already interested and taking action on your issue? Deciding on your audience can help you target your message, and therefore help you decide who are the best people to contact.The questions below help you to think about what exactly you want to say and who you might need to say it to.
- What is your message? Think about:
- What issues would you like to highlight, but also what possible solutions there might be?
- What evidence do you have to support the need for action?
- What you would like to see happen?
- Who is your audience?
- Is it one person (an archetype that may represent a particular group of people) or is it an organisation or a large diverse group of people?
- Who are the people you would need to contact?
- How might you contact them? For example, are there any requirements for contact, e.g. particular forms that you need to fill out, use of particular platforms or tools?
- If contacting people through different platforms are there any laws or rules you might need to think about? For example, littering laws with physical flyers, or code of conduct or privacy laws when using social media.
- Why would your audience be interested in your cause or what you have to say?
Below are a couple of other links that you might find useful, especially when figuring out which level of government to speak to and for finding out which Members of Parliament represent you in Parliament of Victoria:
- The Victorian Electoral Commission map will help you find out which electorates (local council/shire, region and district) you live in.
- You can search for your six representatives (one from the Legislative Assembly Region or the lower house/green room and five from the Legislative Council District or the upper house/red room and their contact details on the ‘Find a Member’ page on the Parliament of Victoria website.
- Information about local government and local councils can either be found at:
- Information about federal electorates and Members of the Commonwealth Parliament can be found at:
Change can take some time to gather momentum, and often it takes more than one action for that momentum to happen. The questions below are designed to help you think about what steps you might take now, or in the future, to bring attention to your issue, gather some like minded people, and potentially see some change, whether it be changes in people's behaviour, changes to policies or legislation, or even more action being taken.
- What actions might you need to take?
- Why have you chosen that action and how do you think it will help your voice be heard on your chosen issue?
- What do you think the outcome of your action plan will be?
- How might you use multiple actions to amplify your voice?
- Which action seems like it would be more effective? Why?
- Some things to consider include: the number of people the message will reach; the number of people with influence who will see the message; time; budgets; and more …
- How might the actions you take and the messages you communicate influence parliament?
- Which actions are direct ways to influence what happens in Parliament (i.e. they involve having your voice heard directly)?
- Which actions are indirect ways to influence what happens in Parliament? (i.e. they may swap public opinion or lead to more awareness about the issue)
Below is a list of some the different actions you could take to influence Parliament.
- Which methods do you think would be most effective?
- Are there actions that would be more effective if they were done in combination?
|Peaceful protest||Create a petition||Make a speech|
|Organise a flashmob||Visit your local MP||Write a letter to the editor|
|Ring talkback radio||Email your local MP||Ring your local MP|
|Write a submission to an inquiry||Organise an art show||Make a podcast|
|Email a politician||Speak at an assembly||Make a short video|
|Create a Facebook page||SIgn a petition||Make a website|
If you can't decide between a couple of differenet actions, then using an analysis tool, such as a SWOT, can help you to think about the benefits and limitations of the potential actions and therefore hopefully make a more informed choice.