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?

Cate-Faehrmann

Cate Faehrmann, Director, Nature Conservation Council NSW, 2005

We did a two-day workshop with The Change Agency early this year which provided our organisation with some much-needed tools for strategic campaigning and planning. There was nothing but positive feedback from our staff and board members about what they gained from the two days spent with James and Sam. The power mapping exercise was particularly insightful for staff and board members alike and as a result our campaigns are more pro-active - we are seeing results!
2014-03-30T07:51:49+00:00
Cate-Faehrmann
We did a two-day workshop with The Change Agency early this year which provided our organisation with some much-needed tools for strategic campaigning and planning. There was nothing but positive feedback from our staff and board members about what they gained from the two days spent with James and Sam. The power mapping exercise was...
clairevh

Claire Van Herpen, Environment Victoria

The Community Organising fellowship provides a positive and nurturing environment in which to learn and apply the practical skills required to effectively mobilise communities to create change. It's a great opportunity to learn from others in the environmental movement and provides space for collaboration and reflection.
2015-03-17T19:26:27+00:00
clairevh
The Community Organising fellowship provides a positive and nurturing environment in which to learn and apply the practical skills required to effectively mobilise communities to create change. It’s a great opportunity to learn from others in the environmental movement and provides space for collaboration and reflection.
josh

Josh Creaser, Frontline Projects Coordinator, 350.org

Most campaigners would probably shudder at the thought of spending ten whole days away from the frantic world of actions and meetings, to invest time in their own reflection and learning. The Community Organising Fellowship forces you to do just that – and what a gift and opportunity that time becomes.

 The Fellowship is a unique combination of ingredients. Time for pause and reflection. Discussion with leading thinkers. Connections to a wide array of campaigns. Guidance from experienced and caring facilitators. Bonds formed with 25 inspiring campaigners from across the country.

 These ingredients are brought together with carefully crafted methods. Thought-provoking stories. Challenging questions. Developing crucial skills. Applying new methods and tools. Preparing new plans for real world projects. 

 The result? Ten days that couldn’t have been better spent for someone that is looking to challenge their assumptions, deepen their understanding of why we organise in communities and feel ready to go forward with greater focus and vigour in their work.
2015-03-17T20:56:37+00:00
josh
Most campaigners would probably shudder at the thought of spending ten whole days away from the frantic world of actions and meetings, to invest time in their own reflection and learning. The Community Organising Fellowship forces you to do just that – and what a gift and opportunity that time becomes.  The Fellowship is a...
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...
jono

Jono La Nauze, FoE Melbourne

Totally awesome working with you guys. Thanks for your patience, commitment, considered and constructive guidance and generously giving so much time and effort. Thank you also for having faith in the process. Working with tCA was easy and a pleasure.
2014-03-30T08:23:37+00:00
jono
Totally awesome working with you guys. Thanks for your patience, commitment, considered and constructive guidance and generously giving so much time and effort. Thank you also for having faith in the process. Working with tCA was easy and a pleasure.
Chloe_A

Chloe Aldenhoven, Victorian Lock the Gate Coordinator

A packed program of skills, stories and discussions to figure out how to build the place of community development in our campaigns. So important to draw on the experience and wisdom of past campaigns and seasoned campaigners.  But not only that, an amazing opportunity to learn with and from the cohort of campaigners from across the country who between them have decades of organising experience.  Skills, conversations and connections that are going to be essential to us building a movement to achieve climate justice in Australia.
2015-03-17T19:27:44+00:00
Chloe_A
A packed program of skills, stories and discussions to figure out how to build the place of community development in our campaigns. So important to draw on the experience and wisdom of past campaigns and seasoned campaigners.  But not only that, an amazing opportunity to learn with and from the cohort of campaigners from across...
Julie Lyford

Julie Lyford, Groundswell Gloucester

Such a long fight. Without you and the Change Agency we would be floundering. Thank you so much for your energy, passion, wisdom and guidance and for all that you do in changing the world.
2016-09-30T13:24:47+00:00
Julie Lyford
Such a long fight. Without you and the Change Agency we would be floundering. Thank you so much for your energy, passion, wisdom and guidance and for all that you do in changing the world.
toniwalkington

Toni Walkington, Secretary, Community Public Sector Union, WA

The Change Agency Campaign Workshop in Perth was a tremendous opportunity to learn skills and techniques to assist our campaigning work. I came away with a set of skills and techniques that are easily applied to our work. We often tackle big issues and are up against well resourced opponents. The tools I learnt at the campaign workshop means developing our campaign strategies is easier and we work in a structured way with clear objectives. Since participating in the workshop I have used many of the tools, particularly the critical path analysis – it’s really made a great difference!
2014-03-30T07:45:45+00:00
toniwalkington
The Change Agency Campaign Workshop in Perth was a tremendous opportunity to learn skills and techniques to assist our campaigning work. I came away with a set of skills and techniques that are easily applied to our work. We often tackle big issues and are up against well resourced opponents. The tools I learnt at...
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...
Meghan and Lilly

Meghan Halverson, Queensland Koala Crusaders

I am so very grateful for the Change Agency’s perspective in helping to coordinate and inspire our group.  The weekend at Wild Mountains to begin to create the foundation of our national koala alliance will certainly be a highlight of 2014. The combination of your amazing resources and the collaborative facilitation helped to provide a cohesive, motivating structure for the path forward and a fresh new approach.
2014-05-06T00:41:31+00:00
Meghan and Lilly
I am so very grateful for the Change Agency’s perspective in helping to coordinate and inspire our group.  The weekend at Wild Mountains to begin to create the foundation of our national koala alliance will certainly be a highlight of 2014. The combination of your amazing resources and the collaborative facilitation helped to provide a...