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?

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...
ben_fb

Ben Margetts, Australian Youth Climate Coalition 2007

I wanted to express how grateful I was for the experience to work with Sam and James. It was very special for me to interact with a part of social movements that I feel a lot of affinity with. I also think tCA shows a great example of 'best practice' in regard to organisational interactions. We at the AYCC have benefited immensely from working with you not just in your capacity as trainers, and the learning that was facilitated, but also with tCA as an organisation.
2014-03-30T07:33:22+00:00
ben_fb
I wanted to express how grateful I was for the experience to work with Sam and James. It was very special for me to interact with a part of social movements that I feel a lot of affinity with. I also think tCA shows a great example of ‘best practice’ in regard to organisational interactions....
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.
Peter Archer

Peter Archer, World Vision

I have shared with my friends and family that this workshop was the most valuable training I have done. It came at a time when I had become aware of my passion for grassroots activism. The follow-up support equipped me quickly and powerfully to put my learning into practice and age my confidence a huge boost.
2014-03-30T08:11:05+00:00
Peter Archer
I have shared with my friends and family that this workshop was the most valuable training I have done. It came at a time when I had become aware of my passion for grassroots activism. The follow-up support equipped me quickly and powerfully to put my learning into practice and age my confidence a huge...
Jack Bertolus

Jack Bertolus, Market Forces

The Community Organising Fellowship introduced a plethora of new and exciting concepts in campaigning and community organising, and gave us the practice and tools to apply these effectively. The time spent learning with and from the talented and experienced cohort was an invaluable insight into Australian social movements and established what I’m sure will be lifelong connections.
2017-11-12T18:54:18+00:00
Jack Bertolus
The Community Organising Fellowship introduced a plethora of new and exciting concepts in campaigning and community organising, and gave us the practice and tools to apply these effectively. The time spent learning with and from the talented and experienced cohort was an invaluable insight into Australian social movements and established what I’m sure will be...
John Hepburn

John Hepburn, Outreach Manager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific

When you stop learning, you stop growing. For social movements and organisations to grow and develop, they need to learn from their successes and failures. The Change Agency have played a key role in helping Greenpeace to do this, to reflect on our work, to focus on what is effective, and to map out some exciting new strategic directions. They've supported our staff and volunteers with some great practical training on campaign strategy, and, of course, they've been a joy to work with.
2014-03-30T07:35:05+00:00
John Hepburn
When you stop learning, you stop growing. For social movements and organisations to grow and develop, they need to learn from their successes and failures. The Change Agency have played a key role in helping Greenpeace to do this, to reflect on our work, to focus on what is effective, and to map out some...
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...
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...
Chris Rose

Chris Rose, Author of ‘How to Win Campaigns’

They (tCA) really are movement makers... the Aussie inheritors of Alinsky.
2014-03-30T08:05:33+00:00
Chris Rose
They (tCA) really are movement makers… the Aussie inheritors of Alinsky.
kate

Kate Lardner, Doctors for the Environment Australia

During the Fellowship, I have embarked on an enormous learning curve that has resulted not only in exposure to concepts and skills, but knowledge of these things, through application of the teachings with leaders in their fields and the opportunity to be integrated into a real time campaign. I have been challenged creatively and analytically and been given the chance to create the openings and space to make my own opportunities arise.  
2015-03-17T20:53:26+00:00
kate
During the Fellowship, I have embarked on an enormous learning curve that has resulted not only in exposure to concepts and skills, but knowledge of these things, through application of the teachings with leaders in their fields and the opportunity to be integrated into a real time campaign. I have been challenged creatively and analytically and...