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?

alycia

Alycia Gawthorne, GetUp! organiser

The Fellowship has challenged the way I previously thought about campaigning and community organising, and made me rethink how I approach my work. It’s afforded me the space to take a step back and look at the entire movement. I feel like the skills I take away from the Fellowship will be invaluable, but far more important will be the deeper understanding I have about my role and how it fits within a larger movement.
2015-03-17T19:33:28+00:00
alycia
The Fellowship has challenged the way I previously thought about campaigning and community organising, and made me rethink how I approach my work. It’s afforded me the space to take a step back and look at the entire movement. I feel like the skills I take away from the Fellowship will be invaluable, but far...
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...
harry

Harry Jennens, The Climate and Health Action Network

The Fellowship has increased both my skills in community organising and my confidence in sharing these skills with others.  The immersive workshop format has provided precious space for face-to-face learning, sharing ideas with facilitators and other delegates, and building strong relationships with current and future collaborators in the climate movement.  I am confident that our entire cohort will go on to empower others in our communities, and that we’ll continue to support each other in this work.  The Fellowship will be instrumental in helping us build a broad, diverse and powerful movement.
2015-03-17T19:36:21+00:00
harry
The Fellowship has increased both my skills in community organising and my confidence in sharing these skills with others.  The immersive workshop format has provided precious space for face-to-face learning, sharing ideas with facilitators and other delegates, and building strong relationships with current and future collaborators in the climate movement.  I am confident that our...
anna-keenan

Anna Keenan, Students of Sustainability Collective 2006

Thank you for your involvement in SoS this year and for your continued commitment over the years to effecting sustainable environmental and social change. Your co-facilitated presentations on activist learning, campaign strategy and activist sustainability were all very well received, generating discussion, excitement, considered thought and motivation from the participants, including myself. Not only was the content inspirational, but to see the way that the two of you work together and so effectively co-facilitate was a lesson in itself. At your “Moving beyond Tactic-Led Campaigns”, you so successfully engaged all in the room and drew from their experiences that it was the most effective workshop I attended through the whole conference. Your involvement in SoS 2005 has had a significant impact on the future of Australian environmentalism by sharing the tools of individual, collective, and community organising, and inspiring us to advocate for and take action towards positive social change.
2014-03-30T07:52:56+00:00
anna-keenan
Thank you for your involvement in SoS this year and for your continued commitment over the years to effecting sustainable environmental and social change. Your co-facilitated presentations on activist learning, campaign strategy and activist sustainability were all very well received, generating discussion, excitement, considered thought and motivation from the participants, including myself. Not only was...
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...
nka

Josey Sharrad, International Fund for Animal Welfare

The Change Agency facilitated our two day intensive strategy workshop to bring together animal welfare and rescue groups from across Australia to set up a National Koala Alliance. James and Taya's facilitation of the workshop was absolutely brilliant and everyone came away with renewed enthusiasm and determination. James' extensive campaigning experience and strategic thinking provided invaluable guidance to this newly- formed alliance and we will continue to tap into his wealth of strategic advice as we go forward to protect koalas. Thank you!

2014-08-18T14:37:24+00:00
nka
The Change Agency facilitated our two day intensive strategy workshop to bring together animal welfare and rescue groups from across Australia to set up a National Koala Alliance. James and Taya’s facilitation of the workshop was absolutely brilliant and everyone came away with renewed enthusiasm and determination. James’ extensive campaigning experience and strategic thinking provided invaluable...
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...
leigh

Leigh Ewbank, Yes2Renewables coordinator

Usually, organisers learn in the heat of battle – through trial and error, stress, and necessity. The Community Organising Fellowship has provided a rare opportunity to step off the campaign trail, slow down, and do some deep learning. The suite of tools explored in the program will influence my practice for years to come.

 By creating a ‘community of practice’ of organisers, those behind the fellowship have shown strategic leadership. The relationships the program has cultivated (within the cohort and between alumni) will pay dividends. 
2015-03-17T20:58:10+00:00
leigh
Usually, organisers learn in the heat of battle – through trial and error, stress, and necessity. The Community Organising Fellowship has provided a rare opportunity to step off the campaign trail, slow down, and do some deep learning. The suite of tools explored in the program will influence my practice for years to come.  By...
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...
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...