How you can make a Difference
A small contribution made by many people working together creates meaningful change. Getting involved is not charity; it’s standing in solidarity with other human beings who need support and saying: I am with you.
More and more often we are contacted by people who are concerned about the plight of asylum seekers in Australia and the world's millions of displaced people. There is a lot of human tragedy in the world. The question is: how can I make a positive difference? What can any one person honestly do when the issues are so big?
They are big. Way too large for one person or even one organisation alone. The good news is that we are not alone. Simple and seemingly modest actions made by each of us can change minds and policies: small positive steps bring incremental progress, and collectively these small acts enact great change. It's about believing in our own agency. Each contribution of time, money or advocacy makes a significant difference. That is the truth about activism. Just one human life helped is a victory. You don’t have to put your life on hold either, or sacrifice time or the things you care about. Not at all. There are so many ways to to get involved and incorporate all this into your life as you know it.
In an era when our leaders are failing us in promoting positive social change, remaining silent is no longer a neutral position. We believe that the first and most crucial step of advocacy is engaging in the simple act of conversation (see box).
In addition, here are a few ideas and top resources that we’ve gathered from experts and the organisations we love. Some are small, others require more time. All contribute towards creating a stronger, more cohesive and powerful global society.
Email or Call the office of your Federal Member. They do read your letters and do care what you think. Here’s a simple guide from our friends at Refugee Council of Australia. Call the office of your MP. They have to log every call and it is their job to record the views of their constituents. Be respectful, relatively brief, and think about what you want to express or what you are asking for in advance. If possible, ask for a commitment from your MP’s office that they will look at the issue.
Write to the Australian Prime Minister. Click here.
Sign an online petition: for example this petition by the ASRC calling for the Federal government to bring the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia. Asylum Seeker Resource Center is the largest support center for refugees in Australia.
Donate: Don't underestimate the impact of even a small donation. They make a massive difference. Choose a credible organisation — read our list of organisations doing incredible work or research and find one that speaks most to you.
Sign up and get involved with a humanitarian organisation or advocacy group: Visit our Organisations page for some inspiration. Research for organisations that reflect your view, are credible and spend the money effectively. In the asylum seeker area, there are organisations all over Australia supporting asylum seekers - including the Asylum Seeker Resource Center in Melbourne. In Brisbane, visit the Brass Network ; in Adelaide, visit The Welcome Centre; in Perth, try the First Home Network or Carad. Also, an important advocacy group protecting the rights of asylum seekers is The Human Rights Law Centre.
Volunteer Overseas: For people with more time and commitment, spend some free time volunteering with a humanitarian group overseas. This is an increasingly popular and essential activity that thousands of people engage in every year. Read our article on how to go about it. One of the primary benefits of volunteering is the level of greater understanding and empathy that's gained by personal exposure to the people needing support. It’s also an incredibly fulfilling adventure.
Start a fundraiser, or initiate a program in your community, school or at work. Choose a cause or a group of people who you feel most passionate about helping. Here are a few helpful tips on how to raise money. Don't be shy to get creative in your approaches to fundraising. There are many ways to be inventive and to fill the gaps in needs for vulnerable people who are often missing out on the most basic essentials. People want to support your cause, it just needs to be presented clearly and simply.
Research and Learn more: Increasing your awareness of the issue is the key to developing an informed opinion. Read and watch. Start with the information sections at your favourite organisations and follow journalists and publications that you trust. In relation to Asylum Seekers, the Refugee Council of Australia has excellent, up to date facts.
Share articles, petitions, information and opportunities for activism on social media: We are all influencers of our networks on social media now. You can inspire and engage others by sharing information about situations and causes that you feel strongly about.