It is timely that I am currently attending an event for Australia’s progressive community – Progress 2013. Whilst there have been some excellent speakers and panels the attendance is dominated by people who can afford to be there, and in the main whose organisations are covering their costs.
After surveying over 100 self identified activists and grassroots campaigners across Australia it is evident that an event such as Progress is fulfilling some of the training needs of these campaigners… but possibly at a cost they can’t afford.
In our new report, ‘Creating change in Australia’, amongst an extensive wish list of training needs, three common themes emerged – the need for movement building, and the toolkit that comes with that – good organising, volunteer retention, facilitation skills amongst other things, and communication – both practical skills and strategy. The other was direct action and legal skills, but given that is the focus of our work, and at least part 0f the survey, not surprising.
The primary barrier noted to attending trainings and developing capacity was a lack of resource. Other issues have been also flagged at Progress such as lack of childcare or dysfunctional group dynamics relating to gender inequity.
The full report is available here.
I would like to acknowledge that there were scholarship places offered, but not sure how many – I was grateful to receive a half scholarship (not applying for a full scholarship with the belief that these should be made available to more marginalised groups)… but at nearly $200 for 2 days, this was actually a stretch. I was also part of the inaugural fellowship program for the Centre for Australian Progress and received a similarly supported position, so there is some consideration given, but could we all do better?
I believe we will only see the change we want when we bring marginalised and impacted voices into the conversation, and amplify them. Accessible ticketing, childcare, more diversity in attendance and panels could be part of this. I look forward to working with some of the awesome people organising and attending this event and others to get better at this.