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Community Organising Gets Results

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Many people in a Zoom Screen Shot

Peter Arndt, Executive Officer of the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane writes:

Community organising by the Brisbane Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission and a number of parishes around South-East Queensland contributed to promising agreements made by Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, on issues of importance to everyday Queenslanders. These agreements were negotiated at the Queensland Community Alliance’s Budget Assembly on 31 May.

The Alliance mobilises churches, mosques, unions, community organisations and ethnic associations to build people power for the sake of the common good.

Following the Queensland election in October 2020, the Alliance began organising people in member organisations to convince the Queensland Government to make commitments to act in a number of key areas of concern to people across the State. These included the pressure community centres are facing in meeting the needs of people struggling to cope in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the exploitation of many migrant workers by some employers, and the need to ensure a just transition as the State develops a clean energy economy.

Over 800 people gathered at the Albert Street Uniting Church in Brisbane and on-line on 31 May to support Alliance leaders as they negotiated commitments on these issues publicly with the Deputy Premier prior to the State Budget. Marlon Bran from the Latin American Catholic community of Brisbane was one of the leaders on stage negotiating with the Deputy Premier.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles recognised all of the Alliance’s budget priorities.  He committed to championing them within the Government.

The Deputy Premier made the following commitments at the Assembly:

1. The Queensland Government will fund workplace rights education for migrant communities, including an education worker and training 100 community champions. The project details will be developed together with the Alliance in the next 6 months. A meeting will be held with relevant Government officers within 2 weeks.

2. For the Alliance proposal on an Emergency Funding Boost for Community Neighbourhood Centres in crisis the Deputy Premier committed to champion the Alliance cause in Cabinet.

3. The government recognises the importance of directly investing in energy storage and stabilisation, and of a just transition. 

4. The Deputy Premier will push our Alliance initiatives in the Government. He will meet quarterly with a delegation of leaders. And he will speak to the Premier about confirming a date for an Assembly with her this year.

These results didn’t just happen on the night. The success of the Assembly was built on so many things that Catholics in Brisbane were a part of – listening to people’s stories about their daily pressures and worries, collecting data and information about these concerns and researching viable solutions, organising people to lobby their local MPs and Government Ministers, and holding many preparatory discussions with ministerial advisers and departmental officers.

Since the Assembly, the Queensland Premier announced a $2 billion fund to invest in renewable storage, energy and hydrogen. This funding will unlock even more investment by Government owned corporations and gives Queensland the chance to transition much more quickly to a clean energy future which promises good, secure jobs as well. The pressure that thousands of Queenslanders from the Queensland Community Alliance has contributed to getting this outcome.

Community organising in Brisbane has ensured that the concerns of everyday people are heard. It also gives them an opportunity to be actively involved in a disciplined and well-organised effort to influence decision makers and get the change they need to deal with the concerns they face.

For more information contact Peter Arndt: