3 days + 25 leaders = Activist inspiration

This January, I got to spend a weekend with 25 of our lead NSW activists. We came together just outside of the Sydney CBD to discuss the 2020 Vision and how the NSW Famnesty is going to get there.

NSW runs 3-4 Social Change Labs a year but we found that we had some amazing leaders who had come to them for years. We needed a new space to bounce around ideas, solve problems and plan for big things.

And big things are coming!

We have some ambitious goals to achieve by 2020. Together, we need to grow our movement in 90% of federal electorates and empower 1000 leaders across Australia. We will only be stronger if we have a diverse movement of people behind us.

So, where to start?

We kicked off the leaders weekend with some theatre. The activists created statues to represent what Organising means to them, and some truly profound art was made. Lots of snowflake models, listening, interconnected networks, lifting up others, succession planning and inspiring fist pumps. ✊

We were able to explore the range of different Organising practices out there and look at where exactly Amnesty NSW fits on this spectrum. As part of this, we were able to do a video conference with Jason Mogus from Vancouver who talked through his Networked Change report which evaluates the strategies and practices of successful 21st century campaigns. So interesting!

If we rely on the two staff members in the region, we can only achieve so much. I very much see these 25 organisers and other lead activists that I get to work with on a daily basis as my peers. I am so grateful and privileged to do this work everyday but my aim is to do myself out of a job. I want to develop leaders who will develop other leaders until I am not needed anymore. That’s what this weekend was all about.

Where we’re heading

We worked to come up with the core components of organising in NSW. Five teams were created to focus on these various elements:

  • Training Organisers: How we can improve our training resources and train more leaders.
  • Strategy and Campaign Organisers: Evaluate successful campaign tactics, share resources and strategies better across the region.
  • Growth Organisers: Increase our presence in the community, provide clearer, more diverse and more supportive entry pathways into Amnesty.
  • Communications: Break down silos across the region by streamlining communications.
  • Area Organisers: Improve our support of action groups by having Organisers who directly empower 3-4 groups in the same area.

For the rest of the weekend, these groups confirmed their strategies for 2017. We are restructuring our region so that leaders are designing and delivering plans to achieve our shared goals – not just within their group, but across the state.

NSW Leaders Retreat, January 2017. © Private
NSW Leaders Retreat, January 2017. © Private

The weekend wrapped up with some reflections on how to work more efficiently and to ensure that our activism is sustainable. The 25 leaders who attended give so much to Amnesty on top of study, work, family commitments and – somewhere – a personal life. We need to make sure that we look after each other, that we make sustainable plans, that we say no to things and that we feel motivated by our work.

On a personal note, I feel so very motivated by these people. What an honour it is to know them, to work with them and to call them my friends. Amnesty NSW is a culmination of their energy, skills, ideas, experience, passion and organising. Because of them 2017, is going to be a great year and Famnesty NSW will be bigger and better than ever.

Amanda Atlee
One of the many NSW Organisers

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Amanda Atlee is the Organising Lead at Amnesty International Australia