Our volunteer campaigners step it up a level

I’ve been coordinating the OurActionStation community campaign site for just a short time but the thing I love most is meeting and working with the people behind the campaigns.

ActionStation campaigners delivering the Save our healthcare petitions around the country

These volunteer campaigners of all ages and backgrounds inspire me with the dedication and passion they bring to the issues they care about, to help create the change they want to see in our country.

The volunteer leaders of the campaign to save our public health system and restore the missing $1.85 billion in Government funding stepped it up a level last week as they delivered their petitions in Wellington, Napier, and Auckland.

District Health Boards (DHBs) around the country are being forced to find ‘efficiencies’ in their services, resulting in many of us having serious trouble accessing health services. A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in March found at least one in four of us are not getting the primary health care they need and missing out on needed surgeries.

Eve presenting her petition to MP Stuart Nash

On Monday I had the chance to support the local ActionStation volunteer and campaigner in Napier, Eve Lemm, who delivered her petition to her local MP Stuart Nash. I didn’t have to do anything, as Eve had it covered. While she was nervous beforehand (she said she hadn’t slept that night), once we met with Stuart she knew the issue inside out, she had (almost) a million examples of experiences people had told within the health system, or being kept outside of it, and she spoke very well, with the passion of someone who can see an injustice and wants it fixed. Read her story in the Hawkes Bay Today here.

Campaign leader Hamish Hutchinson delivering his petition to MP Nikki Kaye

On Thursday Hamish Hutchinson, representing the Auckland DHB campaign, led an eye-catching stunt outside local MP (and Minister for Education) Nikki Kaye’s office. Although the Minister has said she doesn’t agree that the health funding is missing, she will take it to Parliament next week on Hamish’s behalf. Watch Hamish’s interview about the problems facing Auckland DHB because of underfunding here on the NZ Herald site.

Ravaani getting signatures on the streets of Hamilton

Thanks to our partners at YesWeCare.nz who provided the props for the delivery events, the stretcher and nurse scrubs.

The petitions targeted at the MPs to the 20 DHB areas have now been delivered to the local MPs and will be officially tabled at Parliament, triggering a select committee process. Our volunteer campaigners will very soon be able to make submissions on the health funding issue on behalf of the thousands of New Zealanders who signed.

Ramona helping deliver the Wellington petition last week — one of the many ‘anti-government protestors’ that make up ActionStation

This campaign has been a first for ActionStation — the first time we’ve taken a huge national issue (health underfunding) and made it local (with a focus on DHBs), with the power of volunteer campaigners.

Apart from the outreach activity of gathering petition signatures, the volunteers have shared all the campaign jobs themselves, from the coordination with MPs, approaching and talking with the media, writing press releases, updating the blog, managing their social media — it was all led by the campaign leaders themselves. They put their names and faces to the campaign and the issue and represented ActionStation in their communities. They are ActionStation in their communities.

With this campaign we have started building a network of volunteer campaigners who see ActionStation as the new force that can bring people together, on multiple issues, who can engage with the campaigns for effective and positive change.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing and we’ve have learned a lot the last few months on how to better support and start to build new and deeper networks within the ActionStation community. Our Health funding volunteer campaigners such as Eve, Hamish, Ravaani, Ann, Aaron, Anna, John and the others are amazing and inspiring and effective. The campaign has been in their hands and we want to be able to build on the foundations they’ve created.

Can you imagine ActionStation and its campaigns visible around the country, in every community? Would you support building greater participation of our members in their communities? Will you chip in, even if it’s just a few dollars, to help make this happen?

CHIP IN

If you can’t right now that’s no problem, and I invite you to take part in whatever way you can. ActionStation is still a young movement that depends on you, and others like you, to engage with the issues, to build relationships, and to engage others into our collective vision for a more hopeful future. We all have a part to play.

Eliot 
ActionStation Community Campaign Manager

If there’s an issue close to your heart that you’d like to campaign on, you can start your campaign here. The best part? I’ll be here to support you every step of the way!