FAQs

Who or what is the Change Agency?
What does the Change Agency do?
What kinds of education and training do we offer?
What are our assumptions about how activists learn?
Who have we worked with?
How can you or your organisation work with us?
What’s the problem with one-hour workshops?
How much might people pay for our services? Why?
How can people support the Change Agency?
What do we mean when we use all those fancy words?
Are there any good books we recommend?

Who or what is the Change Agency?

The Change Agency Education and Training Institute Inc. is a small and independent not-for-profit activist education initiative. We are passionately committed to building capacity for sustainable and effective environmental and social change.

Our mission is to strengthen community and workplace action for social, ecological and economic justice by providing facilitation, workshops, training resources, research and other learning opportunities. Our skills and capacities include:

  • facilitation and activist education
  • training program development and advice
  • curriculum and resource development
  • strategic planning including campaign strategy
  • research, evaluation and analysis
What does the Change Agency do?

We spend our time organising and facilitating activist education and training workshops. We focus on social change strategising, community organising, working with groups and other learning topics prioritised by social movements. We also work directly with organisers and campaigners within organisations to hone their specific social change efforts through training and research.

The Change Agency are keen to collect, develop and share resources that help organisers be more effective in our work, so we spend the rest of our time looking critically at campaigning and organising so we can learn from our experiences, applying the tools we share. We use this website to share resources, tools and links we find useful and welcome any suggestions from you!

What kinds of education and training do we offer?

Becoming an effective change agent or creating an effective community organisation requires continual learning and a very wide range of skills, understandings and capacities. Activist educators have theorised about what and how effective activists learn. We prioritise topics and forms of activist education that appear most important to our project partners and the social movements we are most frequently supporting. And to complement rather than duplicate training and facilitation opportunities that are available in our region. The Change Agency regularly facilitates workshops on themes including:

Workshop profiles – more information on our workshops we offer.

What are our assumptions about how activists learn?

Like many people, activists use a variety of learning styles to learn. Our workshops balance visual, audio and kinesthetic stimulus to support participants learning processes. Our approach to facilitating learning for change emphasises:

  • experiential and empowered learning
  • listening and reflection
  • mentoring, guiding, supporting, tutoring
  • questioning, not telling
  • exercises linked to real and contemporary change work
  • building a ‘container’ or learning environment characterised by trust, openness, honesty, self-critique, mutual respect and support.

We avoid the ‘talking head’ approach to adult education, the facilitator as expert; and treating participants as empty vessels.

Who have we worked with… what do they say about us?

We work with community organisers, environmental and social justice advocates and campaigners, feminists, workers, people with disabilities, indigenous activists, queers, people of colour and activist researchers wanting to be more effective in their work.

We’ve worked with hundreds of community-based organisations and  participants in our workshops represent many more groups. We evaluate every workshop, based on participants’ feedback and regularly receive feedback and testimonials.

How can you or your organisation work with us?

Talk with us! Our strongest project partnerships started with an email or a chat over a coffee. What’s going on in your organisation or campaign? What challenges and priorities have emerged? What learning opportunities are you keen to make the most of? What could you gain from some timely training, resources or facilitation? What support do you need to make a difference? Perhaps there are already resources on our site that meet your needs. Or perhaps we can design and facilitate a workshop to help you or your staff, volunteers, members, collective, supporters and networks articulate and move closer to your visions.

What’s the problem with one-hour workshops?

We’re often asked to lead one or two hour workshops. People are keen to learn new skills and tools, and have little time. In our experience, though, short workshops are no substitute for really taking some time to reflect, think and talk about the big questions in our work. We call this ‘slow learning’, and it’s definitely our preferred approach. When it comes to making change happen, you need to take the time to reflect critically on your work and experiences so far, think deeply about the political climate you are working in and strategise effectively; this process needs to be given the space it deserves, not crammed into bite-sized sessions.

How much might people pay for our services? Why?

We negotiate fees with partners based on a daily rate at a sliding scale. This supports a project cycle from initial discussions to evaluation and follow-up, and includes resource development and facilitation — one day face-to-face usually means about 5 people days for tCA.

From time to time, we’re asked to explain why we charge money for some of our work. Why don’t we provide this support service for free, all the time? We’ve all experienced community organising and activism that does not support personal and professional development and learning. And we imagined what a difference it would make if there was a sustainable and accessible support organisation we could turn to for resources, facilitation, training and research about the processes of social change, campaigning and community organising – not just the issues. Now we’re trying to be that organisation. We’ve tried for a few years to do it without resources and found it just isn’t sustainable.

We believe this work is important and warrants our full attention for a long time… and the time and attention of other people. To support effective community action requires research, curriculum design and resource development, building relationships with groups wanting support, and developing and updating our website. For each day of face-to-face training or facilitation, we spend considerable time establishing purpose and process, liaising, designing, preparing, travelling, facilitating, debriefing, evaluating and following up. Our average fee covers this whole cycle and allows a couple of us to be paid less than a living wage on an ongoing basis.

Much of our time and effort is pro bono, and we make our finite funds go a long way. For several years, we have worked with up to 1,000 workshop participants each year. As we’ve found additional resources to support our work, we have been able to work more sustainably, build stronger relationships with the organisers, organisations and networks we support, and provide support to more diverse groups throughout the region.

We are committed to ensuring our resources are available to everyone. And we know that often the people who most need direct support are least able to access or afford it. Besides offering resources online, we endeavour to charge people and organisations according to their capacity to pay. This includes a sliding scale and free ‘pay the rent’ places in our workshops for Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisers. Each year, we provide a combination of free and cost-recovery activities and strive to visit new locations where services like tCA are scarce. We’ve also recognised that we need to seek funding for this service beyond a ‘user-pays’ system and actively seek grants and funding to support tCA so that we can provide more research, facilitation, training and resources for free.

tCA supports other activist educators, do-it-yourself organiser support and the proliferation of resources. More than 100 people access our website each day, with 1000s of downloads each month. These resources are mostly used by organisers and trainers in ways that provide no material support for our work – though hopefully with attribution. This service is effectively subsidised by our voluntary efforts and income from workshops and partnerships.

How can people support the Change Agency?

We gratefully accept donations and in-kind support.

Members of the Change Agency collective often work on a volunteer basis and we love working with other educators and volunteers in research, administration and event management.

We rely on small grants, donations, registration and fees from project partners and operate on a cost recovery basis (not-for-profit). Contributions, support, donations, encouragement and advice are very welcome.

What do we mean when we use all those fancy words?

Social change and environmental advocacy is challenging and complex, and the words used to describe it can seem like jargon. Our glossary of terms clarifies and communicates our understanding of the various attributes of social change and environmental advocacy.

Are there any good books we recommend?

Sure! Our library of more than 200 books covers topics including activist education, nonviolent direct action, youth activism, avoiding burnout, campaign strategy, case studies and the history of social movements. It’s both reassuring and instructive to know that other people are struggling with similar social change challenges, and to learn about their solutions and achievements.

Our top books – Books that we are pleased to recommend (and some of which we stock and sell).

What are people saying about us?

John Edye

John Edye, March 2017

James and Fee... Thank you for your inspiring leadership, commitment and engagement. You are epic facilitators, and the first workshop was one of the best training experiences I have ever attended. I feel very privileged to be a participant and am looking forward to the next three. Experiencing such a high level of training and working with so many young, intelligent and professional organisers left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by my lack of experience but very optimistic about the future challenges we face, instead of the rather bleak and jaundiced view I came with. Thank you for your compassion and thoughtfulness and the incredible resources that were on our seats on the first day. It was and will be an incredible learning experience.
2017-03-28T12:18:24+00:00
John Edye
James and Fee… Thank you for your inspiring leadership, commitment and engagement. You are epic facilitators, and the first workshop was one of the best training experiences I have ever attended. I feel very privileged to be a participant and am looking forward to the next three. Experiencing such a high level of training and...
dave & gemma

Dave Muhly, Sierra Club

What began at Pittwater as a collection of skilled campaigners became a cadre of skilled organizers by the final day at Baden Powell. On Sunday evening as we gathered, I overheard one participant chatting with another at a picnic table and heard, "challenge, choice, outcome" as part of her conversation. Another commented at the final circle at how what had seemed like such a large group at Pittwater now seemed like a much smaller group, reflective of how closely this group had bonded as a team despite their vast differences in geography or organizational size or style, but based on a common goal and identity. Concepts like "building teams" and "building relationships" were part of the normal parlance and just a cursory review of the evaluations to date show an increased appreciation for and attention to leadership development and strategic planning. A number of participants reminded me of my off-the-cuff set of definitions about the differences between mobilizing, campaigning and community organising (focusing on local power), and one told me she has it on the wall of her office to inspire her every day. This has been the successful launch of an ambitious and visionary program. Many thanks to James and Kate for their vision, wisdom, and care in developing and nurturing the curriculum and the cohort. Kudos!

2014-09-15T10:27:41+00:00
dave & gemma
What began at Pittwater as a collection of skilled campaigners became a cadre of skilled organizers by the final day at Baden Powell. On Sunday evening as we gathered, I overheard one participant chatting with another at a picnic table and heard, “challenge, choice, outcome” as part of her conversation. Another commented at the final...
Jane Stabb

Jane Stabb, Community Organiser, Environment Victoria

The Community Organising Fellowship workshop was extraordinarily impactful for me. I had a chance to investigate the theory behind effective organising and campaigning tools that I can use in my practice every day but very rarely interrogate or reflect on.  I found new frameworks and structures that will improve my practice so much. I had the space and place to interrogate my campaign with the assistance of masters!  And I was given the opportunity to build relationships with leaders in my field, to be supported in my thinking by them and to support them by sharing our practice and experiences... 100% pure gold.
2014-05-23T16:45:53+00:00
Jane Stabb
The Community Organising Fellowship workshop was extraordinarily impactful for me. I had a chance to investigate the theory behind effective organising and campaigning tools that I can use in my practice every day but very rarely interrogate or reflect on.  I found new frameworks and structures that will improve my practice so much. I had...
Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker, National Campaigner, The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society has embarked on a major organisational change project to embrace community organising as our core way of doing business. I’m leading on this project. The Community Organising Fellowship has helped me to define the key principles and approaches of community organising and has provided me with the space and support to plan for this critical change process within my organisation.
2014-03-27T02:09:18+00:00
Glenn Walker
The Wilderness Society has embarked on a major organisational change project to embrace community organising as our core way of doing business. I’m leading on this project. The Community Organising Fellowship has helped me to define the key principles and approaches of community organising and has provided me with the space and support to plan...
Anna Rose

Anna Rose, ASEN Convenor and NUS National Environment Officer 2005

The Change Agency has contributed enormously to strengthening the student environment movement in Australia and helping us shift to a culture of strategic thinking, planning and reflection on our activism. The training and advice provided by the Change agency over the last twelve months has been invaluable to tens of campus environment collectives and we are already seeing tangible results in real wins in our Campus Clean Energy Camp. Thank you Change Agency!
2014-03-30T07:37:22+00:00
Anna Rose
The Change Agency has contributed enormously to strengthening the student environment movement in Australia and helping us shift to a culture of strategic thinking, planning and reflection on our activism. The training and advice provided by the Change agency over the last twelve months has been invaluable to tens of campus environment collectives and we...
thea

Thea Ormerod, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change

Whereas I had been working intuitively and reasonably well as a part of with a team of dedicated volunteers, the Community Organising Fellowship is providing a range of easy-to-understand useful tools which will help ARRCC to be much more effective. The training is carefully crafted to maximise skills development so we can use our limited resources in a way which will deliver results far more strategically. I already have quite a clear vision of how to successfully motivate our volunteers into participating more actively in the change effort.
2015-03-17T19:24:22+00:00
thea
Whereas I had been working intuitively and reasonably well as a part of with a team of dedicated volunteers, the Community Organising Fellowship is providing a range of easy-to-understand useful tools which will help ARRCC to be much more effective. The training is carefully crafted to maximise skills development so we can use our limited...
manny

Manny Pasqualini, Community Power Agency

One highlight for me is the focus on relational organising; the importance of taking the time to really get to know the people you work with. The deeper the relationship, the better it stands up to testing times and the sweeter it feels when your movement achieves success.

 The diversity present within this year’s cohort is another major highlight for me. To be able to spend this time learning and practicing day in and day out with people from right across the country and right across the breadth of the climate action movement has been an honour. To share this time and space with two wonderfully inspiring indigenous Australians has filled a gap in my education until now and opened up a real sense of belonging to an Australia that I want to be a part of.
2015-03-17T21:10:26+00:00
manny
One highlight for me is the focus on relational organising; the importance of taking the time to really get to know the people you work with. The deeper the relationship, the better it stands up to testing times and the sweeter it feels when your movement achieves success.  The diversity present within this year’s cohort...
Naomi Hodgson

Naomi Hodgson, community organiser, NW NSW

I can emphatically endorse the value of this time to build skills and awareness in strategic thinking and in specific and practical community organising tools. I am sure that with concerted application of the course content I will become a significantly more confident and effective organiser. Furthermore, the value of the relationships that have been forged among the cohort offer great potential for future collaboration and support to help build a more coordinated, cooperative and powerful environment movement in Australia.
2015-03-17T20:49:16+00:00
Naomi Hodgson
I can emphatically endorse the value of this time to build skills and awareness in strategic thinking and in specific and practical community organising tools. I am sure that with concerted application of the course content I will become a significantly more confident and effective organiser. Furthermore, the value of the relationships that have been...
Bob Bingaman

Bob Bingaman, Sierra Club National Organizing Director

The fight to protect the environment is a fight of organized people against organized money.  For those in Australia who want to take on and be successful in this fight, the Community Organizing Fellowship provides the opportunity to learn, practice and implement strong grassroots organizing skills.

There is no better place to learn the craft of organizing, then immediately apply those learning to today’s most relevant climate and environmental campaigns, than the Community Organizing Fellowship.  The program is an in-depth immersion into the craft of grassroots organizing.  Going through this program will transform campaigners and how they think about and implement campaigns which build grassroots power to achieve significant environmental victories.
2014-05-29T13:00:49+00:00
Bob Bingaman
The fight to protect the environment is a fight of organized people against organized money.  For those in Australia who want to take on and be successful in this fight, the Community Organizing Fellowship provides the opportunity to learn, practice and implement strong grassroots organizing skills. There is no better place to learn the craft...
Six Degrees

Sam Robb, Six Degrees

When I’m amongst passionate and talented people, I always feel like our movement can be powerful. But after the last 10 days, I not only feel we can be powerful, I know we can. I know how we can be and that is a unique and invaluable gift. The quality and consideration of the facilitation and subject matter was astonishing, and there was a group wide acknowledgement of both an immense privilege of being a part of the cohort and a resounding responsibility to use and share what we felt and learnt.
2014-05-23T17:11:47+00:00
Six Degrees
When I’m amongst passionate and talented people, I always feel like our movement can be powerful. But after the last 10 days, I not only feel we can be powerful, I know we can. I know how we can be and that is a unique and invaluable gift. The quality and consideration of the facilitation...