Strengthening our national network of community organisers

December 1, 2016 | By: James Whelan

Community Organising Fellowship retreat 2016

Since our Community Organising Fellowship kicked off in 2014, seventy-three passionate organisers have graduated. They’re hard at work building leader-full campaigns and movements right around Australia.

Twenty-five graduates came together on Friday 25 November for our first graduates’ retreat, a weekend of conversation, analysis, celebration and connecting. The retreat was timed to coincide with the second national ‘Organise’ conference convened by the Centre for Australian Progress. Many of us led sessions during Organise.

We gathered at a bushland retreat centre above Sydney’s northern beaches, on the land of the Kuringgai people.

It was inspiring to hear everyone’s updates and to witness the diversity and power of the community campaigns they’re building. During the weekend, there were several discussions about the NetChange report and other approaches to decentralised organising. Folks reflected on Brexit, the recent US election and the rise of populist parties on the left and right to consider implications for upcoming state elections in Australia. There were open space sessions on the training programs that several of our graduates are leading. During the first half of 2017, these programs will train several hundred community activists and leaders. Other discussions explored the complex blend of organising, mobilising and advocacy (‘lone wolf’) work. It’s uncommon to work exclusively within one of these approaches, and our approaches are steered by strategy.

All in all, a great weekend. Thanks, everyone, for the good energy.

About the Author

James Whelan

James Whelan

James is founding co-director of the Change Agency and co-director of the Community Organising Fellowship.

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Assessing policy windows

This 90 minute workshop draws on John Kingdon’s theories about policy windows and a set of nine ‘conditions’ that increase the chances that our policy advocacy campaigns will succeed. Participants reflect on and critically analyse their current campaigns, and consider how best to build alliances, connect with champions and create the political space for just and sustainable policies.