People power 📣 ✊🏼 making a difference ⚡️ 💚 🌏 2018!

Throughout 2018 everyday folk have been using the OurActionStation community campaign platform to inspire many thousands of us to take action for change.

Image: a collage of photos showing various scenes of people outside Parliament, holding placards, speaking into a microphone, marching in the street and other actions. Text says ‘OurActionStation 2018’ with the ActionStation logo.

Wellingtonians saved their local Citizens Advice Bureau by ensuring funding from the Council for the next three years; teenagers Lauren and Ruby won funding of $18 million for Mates and Dates, a healthy relationships course for secondary school students; and students studying medicine won a two year extension to the year-limit on loans, meaning more doctors in our communities.

Several of the community-led campaigns have warmed our hearts and a fair few have also won their causes. These are some of their stories.

Lauren and Ruby won their campaign for better sex education in schools!

Image: Lauren and Ruby with supporters delivering the petition at Parliament steps with MPs Chris Bishop, Jan Logie, Grant Robertson, Jenny Salesa and Ruth Dyson. Signs say ‘5,708 demand better sex education in all schools’.

Last year almost 6,000 of us got behind (then) high school students Lauren and Ruby’s call for better sex education in schools, especially around consent. They asked that Mates and Dates, a healthy relationships course for secondary school students, be introduced into all high schools in New Zealand.

The programme consists of five hour-long sessions on healthy relationships, consent, gender and identity, what to do when things go wrong, and how to keep safe.

This July the Government announced Mates and Dates will be rolled out nationwide with funding of $18 million provided to make sure it expands to reach 180,000 students, up from 37,000 young people.

Read more about the campaign here: How Lauren and Ruby won government funding for education around consent and healthy relationships (9 min read).

Together we helped save an essential advice and support service for citizens in Pōneke (Wellington)

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is a free service run by volunteers that offers essential help on anything from resolving a tenancy dispute, understanding an employment contract, working out how to pay off a debt, or finding information about our rights in a relationship breakup.

More than 30,000 Wellingtonians used the service in 2017, however the Council was proposing to remove funding, putting its existence under threat.

Over 4500 of the ActionStation community based in Wellington got behind the campaign to put pressure on the Council to stop the cuts and we were successful! CAB secured a 3-year funding contract that enables it to continue and whole they work out an ongoing funding model.

“We were blown away by the public support. It was amazing. It made a huge difference.” — Sacha, CAB Wellington

Supporting our young people to flourish on a national stage

Image: Singers Tiresa, Rosetta and Anastasia

Tiresa, Rosetta and Anastasia are young people from Porirua who can really sing! Ross (who in his day job at the Drug Foundation works to reform our drug laws) thought they could represent the strength and diversity of our young people on a national stage.

In just a few days over 2800 people signed his petition asking for NZ Rugby to book them for an All Blacks game. Porirua-born All Black TJ Perenara tweeted support and John Campbell featured the three on his Checkpoint show twice.

NZ Rugby announced that Tiresa, Rosetta and Anastasia will sing the anthem at a provincial game — not the All Blacks yet, but their music mentor Jonny Viliamu has said “It’s perfect for them and they are so excited.”

Rallying community members together

Image: A group of people, some with thumbs down, some smiling, behind a big orange sign saying ‘No more liquor stores around here’

Julie Fairey is an Aucklander who has joined a select group — those who have won more than one campaign using the OurActionStation site!

First she rallied locals in her area to save the Lynfield bus route as it is essential to the mobility of local residents, especially older and those without cars.

She then organised residents of Three Kings with a petition and public meetings to block a new bottle store in the area — which if opened would have made 12 alcohol outlets in that area. With the show of community support the application for a new bottle store was withdrawn by the applicant because of the large number of community objections.

More doctors in our communities

Image: Kera and Medical Students Association president Jibi Kunnethedam being interviewed on camera.

In 2017 students training to be doctors launched a high profile campaign to lift the limit on how many years they could take out a loan to be able to study. The ‘student loan cap’ meant students could apply for loans for up to seven years of study but after that had to find the rest of the funds themselves.

Over 4500 of us got behind the campaign by teams at Te Oranga, the Māori Medical Students Association Aotearoa, and the NZ Medical Students Association. Led by ActionStation volunteer Kera Sherwood-O’Regan they organised a survey, set up a petition, wrote letters to ministers, filmed and shared their own personal stories to engage directly with the public and attracted media attention.

As a result of all of this great work, the government announced in June they will extend the time limit on loans to ten years. This means that over a hundred more people on longer courses such as medicine will be able to finish their studies.

Read more about how they ran a successful campaign here: From #LetUsFinish — to #WeWillFinish! (6min read)

A community-powered win for New Zealand’s children

Image: ‘Growing Up in New Zealand’ director, Dr Susan Morton with four children

Growing Up in New Zealand is a longitudinal study tracking the development of approximately 7000 New Zealand children from different backgrounds.

The study is important because it provides insights and evidence that help shape policy. Things like paid parental leave, immunisation, family housing and pre- and post-natal depression among mothers and fathers.

Katie Tuck is mum to a child participating in the study. When she found out the funding had been slashed she started a community campaign on OurActionStation calling for the restoration of funding, and won — this year the government announced a $2 million boost to the study!

A living wage for organic retail staff

Ethical organic store Huckleberry’s, in Auckland’s Grey Lynn, was reluctant in negotiations to move to a living wage for staff members. A Living Wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life.

When staff organised a strike and set up a petition on OurActionStation ready to launch, the managers changed their mind on the day — they saw the prospect of a concerted campaign effective enough to nudge them to adopt a living wage policy.

Campaigners at Living Wage Waikato are now asking Waikato Regional Council to pay their staff a fair wage based on the Living Wage. You can support the call here: Open letter to Waikato Regional Council to pay contractors a living wage

For many an outcome for the campaign journey is yet to come — but their causes have inspired us and we look forward to working with them to win in 2019. Here are some of their stories.

A kinder approach to residential care

Image: Two photos of Grace delivering her petition to MP Marama Davidson on Parliament steps

Any of us would have trouble dealing with the emotional impact of watching a loved one deal with the onset of dementia. An experience that can be made more stressful when the financial costs of residential care become unbearable.

This is why Grace is taking action on behalf of families that are not able to access support caring for their mums and dads because of the too-harsh criteria for financial help. 4,018 of us signed her petition for a review of the criteria around the residential care home subsidy.

In September Grace delivered the petition to Greens Co-Leader Marama Davidson at Parliament steps. Marama told Grace she will push for a ‘case by case assessment’ for everyone who applies for the residential care subsidy — to ensure the laws meet the real needs of people and families dealing with dementia.

The politicians on the Health Select Committee have invited Grace to speak to the petition in person which she will do in 2019.

Teenager Zoe led the campaign to save mental health services for youth in Nelson

Image: Zoe on Parliament steps smiling and standing between MPs Paul Eagle and Gareth Hughes who holds the petition.

Zoe Palmer is a Nelson teenager who has been leading the campaign to save the local Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

CAMHS is a unique service that connects young Nelson people in crisis with specialist staff at all hours and has a proven track record in saving lives. Yet the Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board is threatening the service with closure.

Zoe led her own campaign to change the minds of the Health Board members — surveying young people, organising public events to network locals and talk about mental health, connecting with politicians, speaking to media and even making a documentary!

In July she went to Parliament to deliver her petition to politicians and is still hoping to meet the Health Minister David Clark.

Read more about how she ran her campaign: How to run a kick-ass campaign to save your local specialist mental health service (8 minute read)

Our community shared whakaaro (thoughts) with the Mental Health Inquiry

A panel of images showing scenes from the submission presentation to Mental Health Inquiry panel: Mary O’Hagan and the Wellbeing Manifesto; Kyle MacDonald and the call for free counselling and talk therapies; Kindness Institute call for mindfulness skills taught in schools.

For several months of 2018, people like you — mums, dads, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, partners, grandparents — were contributing their whakaaro about how our government can improve mental health services, and in turn mental wellbeing, in Aotearoa.

ActionStation partnered with PeerZone, a social enterprise run by and for people with mental distress, to put forward a submission for a mental health system where no one is turned away with panel members of the mental health inquiry.

The submission asked for a range of support to be available to everyone as well as psychiatry. From personal and whānau support; to income, work and housing support; talking therapies and treatments; spiritual healing; and crisis responses.

Over 5,000 of us also signed in support of psychotherapist Kyle McDonald’s submission calling for counselling and talk therapy be fully funded for all New Zealanders. Counselling and talk therapy is shown to be a highly effective treatment for mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and in many cases should be the first treatment offered.

14,000 of us got behind the submission by Mindfulness Education and the Kindness Institute for mindfulness skills to be available in all high schools. Psychologist Nigel Latta says it is one simple solution that could make a difference for all children and ‘change our country forever’.

The report by the Inquiry, He Ara Oranga was released to the public this month (December) and provides the government with several options for addressing the system change needed for our mental health system.

“It’s time now for action. It’s time for the government to take the report seriously, commit to a people-first process, and commit the resources needed for a transformation of mental health. We won’t get another chance this generation.” — Marianne Elliott, ActionStation Board member

A community solution to cleaning up our plastic problem

Image: Members of the Kiwi Bottle Drive team and supporters outside Parliament with Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, Green MPs Gareth Hughes and Chlöe Swarbrick, and the Mayor of Wellington Justin Lester, with a big net of plastic waste.

The Kiwi Bottle Drive team have been tirelessly mobilising thousands of people on and offline to urge government to set up a bottle deposit system as an essential part of the solution of dealing with our plastics challenge.

In December they went to Parliament to deliver their petition signed by over 15,000 of us and the Minister of Conservation has now directed her staff to start research into the proposal.

Supporting locals in Whakatāne in their fight to save their water

Panel of three images of people demonstrating to save the Otakiri spring.

In June Whakatāne resident Lenae Cable started a petition to save the local natural spring, after the council granted approval for a corporate bottling giant to expand its profit-hungry factory.

Lenae wants to protect the mauri (life force) of Otakiri Springs. She says the expansion of the bottling plant is unsustainable by creating more plastic pollution in the world and also risks over-extracting the precious spring water.

Almost 10,000 people have signed the petition so far and 235 of the ActionStation whānau contributed pūtea (funds) to help Whakatāne locals appeal the resource consents at the Environment Court. We’re now waiting on the outcome of the appeals and we’ll support Lanae deliver the petition to the District Council once the result is announced.

A family court system that is safe for everyone

Image: MP Poto Williams in a hongi with Justice Minister Andrew Little, holding the petition and a kete decorated with leaves between them.

Last year Community in Action were successful in sparking a review of the Family Court to make sure it works for whānau (family) and tamariki (children). They delivered their petition in a moving tikanga (Māori culture) ceremony last year that we were proud to tautoko (support).

Our elected representatives listened and a review got underway this year. However the terms of reference are very narrow, limited to looking at only changes made in 2014, not the whole Family court system.

Backbone Collective, a coalition of survivors of violence, are calling on the government for a full Royal Commission Inquiry as recommended by the United Nations. They say the present submission process is largely unsafe for women and children who have experienced violence and abuse and their voices will be missing as a result. They delivered their petition at Parliament at the end of November to MP Poto Williams, who presented it in person to Justice Minister Andrew Little.

We’re working towards a collective vision

These citizen campaigners are building their own supporter bases to turn the cogs of our democratic systems. They do this at a national level, at local council level, and pressuring corporates to make changes that work towards our collective vision and benefit us all.

In order to help the community campaigns work towards effective change we this year combined the power of the OurActionStation platform with the vision of Te Ira Tangata: People’s Agenda. The People’s Agenda is our movement’s crowd-sourced vision for 2040, the 200 year anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The community campaigns you see on OurActionStation channel our combined people power to work towards an Aotearoa New Zealand with a positive and cohesive vision of an alternative future, putting community, care and compassion first.

Unleashing the power of people one online training at a time

Image: Screenshots of two participants and Erica Finnie from 350 Aotearoa leading a training session on managing volunteers. Another screenshot shows a graph called ‘Spectrum of allies’.

People learn on the job, as they go, and when campaigning for change this is especially true. It’s not something most of us have been taught at school.

Every other day, a new person finds their way to OurActionStation with an important cause and a passion for creating change in the world. But they may be new to the skills and tools needed to help make their vision a reality.

This year we’ve been building up the resources on the OurActionStation platform to help campaigners upskill themselves. We’ve hosted (almost) monthly live online campaign training sessions with expert presenters for the people who lead campaigns on our community site or other community sites, and which were open for all citizen activists.

Thanks so much to our friends at 350.org, Greenpeace, PSA and The Workshop for offering their expertise!

P.S.

You’ll find a host of important causes on the OurActionStation platform, from introducing food in schools, a call to make sure abortion is safe, legal and accessible, to universal dental care. The community campaigns you find there are led by ActionStation members, members of the public, community groups and allied organisations.

If you don’t see a campaign that addresses the issues that concern you most, start your own today.

Is there something in your community that you see needs to change? What have you noticed that needs fixing in the world? Did your friend just say “someone should do something about that!” Start a campaign today.

P.P.S

ActionStation’s support for community campaigning is only made possible through the contributions made by people like you.

Your contribution, however big or small, will go towards supporting these citizen campaigns, by helping: — set up and promote the campaign; — attract media; — navigate social media; — organise events; — connect with politicians — win campaigns!

A regular donation can enable ActionStation to offer sustained support through further guidance and training opportunities.

Consider a contribution today.