The Australian Public Health Conference 2019 was held in Adelaide during September this year, bringing together professionals from around the country to explore a broad range of public health issues and challenges in a space to exchange ideas, knowledge, and information on the latest developments in the field.
FARE’s End Alcohol Advertising in Sport team was honoured to present at the conference’s Advocacy Workshop alongside public health legend Professor Mike Daube AO and one of the sector’s finest advocacy leaders, Hannah Pierce.
After presentations, workshop participants were asked to develop a list of simple and effective actions that grassroots advocates can take to amplify the public health voice, which was dubbed the Adelaide Top Ten.
The Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia has an invaluable Advocacy in Action toolkit.
Also, see the fact sheet on Internal Advocacy and the Top 10 Media Tips.
Contact the leaders of an existing public health campaign and offer help or ask to be involved. Many campaigns will be looking to recruit supporters and volunteers who can help either behind the scenes, with policy or research work or with public-facing activities. Join a club or professional association related to your expertise or work or interests. Use them to promote your cause internally and externally.
Sign up for newsletters, research journals, bulletins from sources of new data (such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics), and campaign bulletins for the cause you are interested in promoting. Promote new research, editorials, surveys or media releases to your local politicians and decision-makers. If you are a researcher, make sure relevant research is made known to organisations promoting the cause you are interested in as well as other potential supporters.
Use online comment, call talk-back radio and write traditional letters-to-the-editor to get your message out. Keep it short and succinct. If the Sydney Morning Herald doesn’t publish it, regional or suburban papers might. And don’t forget trade and professional journals and newsletters.
Become adept at using social media to spread the campaign messages about the issue you want to promote. Find the social media handles for key decision-makers and use them to ensure new research can be brought quickly to their attention. Follow the public health campaign gurus. See and learn from their use of social media to promote your cause. Start a blog or podcast. Without breaking the law (e.g. libel and anti-competitive practices), use social media to call out and/or parody advertising or promotion of unhealthy products.
Use campaign materials and your own research to develop an ‘elevator pitch’, a micro-talk that sets out your case for change in two or three minutes. This will enable you to get a succinct and clear message with key facts and figures to key stakeholders or interested friends and family that you may run into on a day to day basis.
Seek a meeting with your local political representatives, including local government, state and federal government politicians who represent you in their respective parliaments or councils. These can be found quickly online. Let them know the issue you want to talk to them about in advance and prepare an issues brief to give them at the meeting. Ask if you can stay in touch to keep them informed about the issue. Ask them to take a specific action on your behalf – i.e., ask questions of the responsible minister, make representations in the party room or the party committee.
Help link researchers with advocates. Some researchers are more than happy to provide information, point the way to important resources and alert you to forthcoming papers, but don’t want to be part of a formal advocacy campaign. Most are happy to help.
Getting involved in advocacy can be intimidating and there are rules that apply to some professions and occupations that prohibit involvement in some forms of advocacy. Make sure you know the rules that apply to you. You can also seek out a mentor to provide advice.
Starting a petition is easy, especially with online platforms such as change.org. Also, see the Australian Parliament website for guidelines on how to develop and lodge petitions for the House of Representatives or Senate that conform with the ‘standing orders’. State parliamentary websites also have petition guidelines.
The Adelaide Advocacy Top Ten was an output of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) annual Australian Public Health Conference, which is highly recommended for all public health professionals.
If you are interested in attending next year, be sure to keep an eye out for dates on the conference page on the PHAA website and across PHAA social media channels.