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Australian Democracy Network

Collective action for a stronger democracy

Collective action for a stronger democracy

2021: We’re in the critical decade for action on climate, we’re reeling from the impacts of a global pandemic. Instead of showing us the path forward, our po...

australia > ALL > both
01/03/2021 > 31/12/2021


  • Civic engagement and leadership


  • General population


2021: We’re in the critical decade for action on climate, we’re reeling from the impacts of a global pandemic. Instead of showing us the path forward, our political leaders lurch from one scandal to the next.

We’ve never needed a strong democracy as much as we need it now: a democracy that can deliver the outcomes we need to protect people, planet and future generations. The Australian Democracy Network is a diverse group of civil society organisations who focus on a wide range of issues – but we all know we need a healthy democracy to achieve the progress we seek, and we know we need to work together to be powerful enough to change the system.

To bring the collective power of civil society to bear around four of the most critical systemic issues facing our democracy and our sector, Australian Democracy Network needs to hire a Campaigns Director. Without a core team providing strategic direction and convening/coordination capacity, we cannot organise the collective work which leverages the contributions of many organisations.

The Campaigns Director will support Australian Democracy Network on four campaigns:


30 charities working together to reduce the impact of corporate capture for a fairer democracy

Problem: When powerful corporations have too much influence over our political system, they can get outcomes which put their profits ahead of the wellbeing of everyone else. This is ‘corporate capture,’ and it isn’t the way our democratic system is meant to work.

2021 activities: With an end goal of mobilising thousands of people into a powerful base that will create public pressure for action on integrity issues, the campaign will (1) begin to build people power and grow the alliance, (2) change the story about politics, and (3) work towards legislative reforms through the development of the #OurDemocracy Framework.


50 charities working together to protect advocacy

Problem: The charity sector faces continual threats to our ability to advocate with and for the communities we serve, the environment, and the public interest. So far this year, we face two hostile government proposals which must be contested. One proposal would curtail our participation in election debates, the other gives the Charities Commissioner Gary Johns sweeping powers to deregister charities and will create a chilling effect on normal advocacy activities across our sector.

2021 activities: Australian Democracy Network is coordinating shared strategy and tactics amongst HOOC members in response to both threats, and expects to be engaged in Senate fights on these bills across the rest of the year.


Bringing civil society organisations and protest movements together to protect our right to protest

Problem: Over the course of 2019, there were legislative proposals in 7 different jurisdictions which unreasonably limited or heavily penalised peaceful protest activities. Organising a sector response was fragmented and difficult, some of these proposals have now become law, continuing the erosion of protest rights in Australia.

2021 activities: The network’s first event in 2021 will be a First Nations Speakers Event as part of Law Week in May, so that our organisations can hear direct from grassroots First Nations leaders. ADN will develop the workplan further in the second half of the year.


Bringing community expertise back into the decision making process

Problem: Civil society voices represent communities that are directly impacted by Government policies, yet over the last decade or so, we have been systematically excluded from involvement in key policy-making processes.

2021 activities: Currently scoping.

Our giving community meets with the Australian Democracy Network and campaign partners.


#OurDemocracy campaign: (1) stronger laws that regulate political donations, election spending, lobbying, and media standards, and (2) political, economic and social consequences for those who engage in corporate capture.

Hands Off Our Charities Alliance: a collective response to threats to charities successfully coordinated, ensuring enough pooled resources to defend the sector and win legislative fights to block or disallow these bills and regulations in the Senate.

Protest Rights Working Group: group established to improve collective response to protest suppression and align legal resources with the needs of protest movements.

Promoting Civil Society Voices: a collaborative scoping project completed in 2021 to define the problem and outline possible collective responses, which could form a shared pro-advocacy campaign, ready to launch in 2022.

Profile of Australian Democracy Network

Australian Democracy Network

The Australian Democracy Network is creating a healthy Australian democracy which puts people and planet first. We bring people and organisations together to campaign for the changes that make our democracy more fair, balanced, transparent, accountable, and participatory.

When we share resources and strategy, we can have greater impact. Through collective power, we can take on the big systemic problems that no single organisation can tackle alone.

Australian Democracy Network campaigns (1) build our power through alliances so we can have impact on big issues, (2) disrupt the dominant narrative about democracy with stories that move people to
action, and (3) work towards legislative reforms which restructure our political system so it works better for everyone.

Founding partners are the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Human Rights Law Centre and the Australian Council of Social Service.


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Support Collective action for a stronger democracy

Got a question about this project or ready to contribute? Contact our Philanthropy & Impact Team.


As a broker of change, we invite social change initiatives to apply for funding. Eligible proposals are shared with our giving community via our Granting Opportunities directory.