Only a genuine community campaign will secure Gonski

A campaign only achieves real power when the issue is widely and deeply felt.

The most successful campaign in which the Australian union movement has been involved, and one which was recognised internationally as a model, was the 2007 Your Rights at Work (YR@W) campaign. So, what made this campaign so effective?

It was effective because it was a campaign that went beyond the union movement. YR@W moved from a campaign in the community to a campaign with the community, because the issue was one that had become widely and deeply felt.

Now the QTU is embarking on the next stage of the Gonski campaign, a campaign to ensure that the federal government commits to funding the full six years of Gonski, in line with its “unity ticket” promise prior to the 2013 election.

The challenge is to ensure that the issue of school funding is widely and deeply felt in the community, so that politicians support the full implementation of Gonski.

So how does this happen in a community campaign, and what is community campaigning?
As Oxford University Research Fellow Rasmus Kleis Nielsen argues: “Community campaigning - that is, engaging volunteers to personally talk to voters - is now an essential part of modern campaigns.”

So a community campaign is based on one-on-one communications designed to change the behaviour of the person with whom we are communicating, to educate, engage, motivate and activate them to, in this case, pressure our elected representatives.

The engagement of the wider community is dependent on the relationship that QTU members or others have with those they seek to persuade or activate. That is why the most effective community campaigns involve local people talking to people in their community.

To begin with, there needs to be a clear message for the community, delivered by someone with whom they have a relationship. The critical step in any community campaign is engaging and developing enough volunteers who will personally talk to other people in their community.

These volunteers need to have an understanding of the issue and to be able to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will allow them to operate at the appropriate level in the community.

So what does this look like for the Gonski campaign?

It looks like a group of QTU members who are prepared to campaign and begin the process of educating their teaching colleagues and motivating them to be involved in the campaign.

It looks like the development of a community campaign plan, and ensuring that those members have the knowledge and skills and confidence to engage with the local community.

It looks like a series of conversations with the P&C, other community groups and importantly, one-on-one conversations with members of the local community. That is what makes a community campaign, when the key persuasive message is conveyed by local people within the local community.

It looks like showing people the “What is Gonski” YouTube video (which can be found at

A genuine community campaign that makes fair school funding widely and deeply felt - that is what we will need to get Gonski.

Barry Welch
Deputy General Secretary

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 120 No 5, 17 July 2015, p11