I have to admit that until recently, I had little interest or awareness of local politics. Embarrassingly, my dad is actually a political journalist, specialising in local politics. He even has two published books out on politics, that I haven’t read (soz dad). As I became older, I was slapped with the fact that politics is connected to well, everything. I realised the irony of complaining about environmental and social issues, when I hadn’t even voted every year (the UK is not compulsory voting).
When I moved to Australia six years ago, I became even more aware of the importance in engaging in local politics instead of just being p*ssed off at the useless leaders of both my home country (UK) and my current country (Australia) – even Taylor Swift knows the importance of political awareness.
Aside from focusing on main leadership, which should normally only change every four years, local government is also really important to be aware of. Local government, elected by citizens of that area, look after their specific communities: city utilities, local public services etc. They can create a big difference in the local areas we live in, so here are some tips for getting more involved in your local politics!
Politics in different countries and even states can be really confusing. People rely on voting to be clear, however it’s really not. People need to learn this sh*t in school, sadly they don’t. Understand the voting system, why people vote for different people and how people win. Sign up to vote and make sure to vote in time. Then you won’t be completely surprised when the same outdated white man wins as your local electorate – and you’ll understand how to create change for next time.
Take a quick look at this Australian Politics for Dummies Cheat Sheet, it’s got everything you need to know.
2. Guess who
The first point of call is to find out who’s who. Do a quick online search of the government’s structure, your local council by state and who your local elected representative. This person is your key contact, note their email and phone number – they represent YOU in issues you care about.
3. Follow your council (not literally)
Once you’ve found your council, follow them on social media and keep up to date with what’s happening in your local area. You can also read newspapers, online or offline, to follow local government news, changes in policies as well as elected public officials who are embroiled in corruption scandals.
4. Get vocal
Remember to phone and / or email your local representative if you have something important to discuss or voice. There’s also a lot of meetings and opportunities to input your voice, for example Town Hall meetings are announced across council’s social media and give local people the opportunity to interact with their local representatives and local issues.
5. Donate your time
It can be really rewarding to get directly involved with your local community. Volunteer for local council events (these are normally announced on social media or website) or even assist a local representative that you support. This could be as little as wearing their shirt, handing out flyers at your local markets or put their poster in your window or fence!
If there’s no-one out there that aligns with your values or they aren’t doing a good enough job – do it yourself. You can join an existing party or run as an independent candidate. Here is a full guide on joining local politics and working your way up! You can also jump on to your local council’s website as it will have an information guide on where to start if you’re considering becoming a councillor.
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Feature image of Mona Hecke, a qualified Australian naturopath who is running as an independent candidate in the 2020 Gold Coast Mayoral Campaign.