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Why does advocacy matter?

History of Advocacy


Questions answered in this section:

  1. What has advocacy achieved in history?
  2. Why does advocacy work matter?

Change doesn’t just happen on its own, it happens because people make it happen.

Throughout history, there have always been people working to change the world. They do this through advocacy work. Advocacy usually starts because a small group of people (ordinary people like you and your friends) are concerned about a problem, so they devote time and energy to making that problem better. Over time, more people join them, and together they do activities to change the way things are done.

These actions result in political, social, and cultural changes that make the world we live in different, and hopefully better, than it was before. 

Scroll through the pictures below for some examples of how advocacy can change the world. These examples of advocacy work making actual change are reminder that advocacy does work! Stuff we think of as normal (like women being allowed to vote in elections) was once a radical idea. There are so many ways to take action on the things you care about. 


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Indigenous Australians finally gaining the right to vote in 1967

It seems obvious now, but there was a time when the original owners of the land we live on (Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders) were not actually recognised as citizens, and could not vote. 

A referendum in 1967 changed this. Change was achieved because of the campaigning, petitioning, story telling, and fundraising done by the supporters of indigenous rights.  

 
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Anti-tobacco campaigns of the late 20th century

Since anti-tobacco campaigning began in the 1980s, smoking rates in Australia have declined from more than a third of the population to 1 in 10.  

This has been because of a huge effort by campaigners that included national advertising campaigns, research into health effects, fundraising, story telling, and extensive lobbying and petitioning. 

 
 
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Marriage Equality in 2017

After years of advocating for same sex couples to be allowed to marry, the Marriage Act was finally changed in 2017. This was an incredibly long process, and is a good example of how advocacy work can involve long term thinking, and lots and lots of people getting on board sometimes!

A huge effort from thousands of people that involved talking to government, running community events, sharing stories, and campaigning across social media, resulted in this historic change.