With a federal election on the horizon, our politicians and candidates are paying close attention to what voters want. There is no better time to tell them we want strong climate policies that respect the science and lead to meaningful action.
We've put together some actions you can take leading up to this year's election. Take a look below and get in touch if you have any questions or ideas!
- Write to your candidates
- Call your candidates
- Meet your candidates
- Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper
- Tips for talking about climate change
- Posting on social media
- Show your support for climate action - order your free posters
Write to your Candidates
Communicating your concerns and priorities directly to your candidates is one of the most effective ways to keep climate action where it should be - at the top of our politicians’ agendas. They know that for every email, phone call or letter they receive from a concerned voter, there are likely many more voters who feel the same way. This keeps particular issues in discussion and ultimately affects their decision making.
Step 1: Who do I want to write to?
- To find out who your local candidates are, search here. If you prefer, you can write a letter to your state’s senators, or the Ministers for Agriculture, Energy and Environment.
Step 2: How do I contact them?
- Once you know who you want to contact, search their name on Google or Ecosia. Look for their website and they should have an obvious method to contact them. Some candidates give an email address or some candidates have a contact form on their site.
Step 3: What do I say?
- Now you have a name and an email address/contact form, all you need is to figure out what to say. We have a letter written specifically for you. Just click the button below to get the VfCA Letter to Candidates and copy/paste the relevant text into an email or the contact form.
- Remember to fill in the blanks with the candidates name, electorate and your own name.
- Once you copy/paste the text to an email or contact form, you can make any edits to the letter that you like. For example, vet nurses or animal carers may want to change the text that says "As veterinarians..." to better represent their own roles.
Optional: If you would like to write your own letter, here are a few tips
- You don’t have to be an expert - speak from your personal experience. Explain why climate action is important to you
- Keep it short (under a page) and focus on one issue
- Include a request - some action you would like the candidate to take on the issue
- Don’t spend too long on it - quality is important, but we know that quantity is especially important. The more letters the candidates gets calling for climate action, the more seriously they will take it
- Letter writing can be particularly fun as a joint activity, why not organise a group to write letters over some wine and cheese?
Call your Candidates
- Plan ahead: research what your candidate's position is on climate change. Prepare your key messages and your request in advance.
- Introduce yourself: “Hi my name is Emma, I live in this electorate and I wanted to talk to my candidate ____ about climate action”
- Sometimes you will be able to talk to your candidate or another staffer, at other times you won’t be able to. Either way, your call will be counted and contribute to feedback to the candidate of the issues that their electorate cares about
- Stay on message - keep returning to your key points
- Leave them with a request: eg “I would like you to support the introduction of the climate change bill to parliament”
- Always be polite and respectful
- After the call, consider sending the candidate an email to thank them for the call, reiterate your main points, as well as any other relevant links or articles you wanted to share with them.
Meet your Candidates
Sometimes the most lasting impact we can have on an candidate’s views is through a face-to-face conversation. They are, after all, people too! One of our members recently spent over an hour discussing climate action with their local MP, a conversation they’re sure to remember when it comes to discussing it in parliament.
Here are some tips to organising a meeting with your candidates:
Step 1: Write an email or letter
- Include details on who you are, why you would like to have a meeting and what you’re hoping to discuss. Note any roles that you have in the community or other people you represent.
- Give a range of dates that you would like to have a meeting in - keeping in mind that politician’s schedules are very busy and it might not be possible for weeks to months.
Step 2: Follow up
- Follow up your email or letter with a phone call, to make sure it hasn’t been missed. You can repeat your request for a meeting and discuss availability. Remember to confirm how long the meeting is scheduled for to guide your preparations.
Step 3: Plan the agenda
- Start by introducing yourself, share your story and why climate action matters personally to you. Give time for each person in the meeting to share why climate action matters.
- Do your research beforehand - know what action the candidate may already have taken or statements they may have made on climate action and congratulate them on it.
- Share the extent of the community you represent, the interactions you have with the community and what your group is up to.
- Share the broader context - why climate action matters to the veterinary profession and the animals we represent.
- Prepare and understand the demands we are asking of our candidates - broad reaching climate action. Feel free to get in touch with us prior to the meeting for help in this area.
- Put your request to your candidate - whether it is supporting a new bill, committing to ambitious targets or speaking out in support of climate action.
- Listen and take notes of what your candidate says. It can be useful to have these to refer back to after the discussion, and to fact-check against their party policy later.
Step 4: Keep in contact!
- After the meeting, send another email or letter thanking the candidate for their time and touching on what you discussed and the commitments they may have made. You can send them any further resources you might have discussed in the meeting.
- Now that you have met them in person and they have a face to the name, your communication on issues that matter to you will be more meaningful. It is great to keep the contact going, and maybe organise another meeting down the track.
Write a letter to the editor
Writing a letter to your local paper can be a very effective way to engage your community and can keep climate action on the agenda in your local area. Here are some tips:
- Open with a greeting, including the editor’s name if you know it
- Start with an engaging first line! You want your letter to be easy to read and interesting to the reader
- If you are referencing or replying to a previous article, cite its title and date
- Make a convincing case and try to back up your facts with solid evidence - if you have examples that are local to the region you are in use these
- Keep it short - under 250 words
- Make a call to action - write what you want to happen
- Sign off with your name and contact details - these may be used to verify your identity before publishing.
Ten tips for talking with your friends and family about climate action
Despite the scale of climate change, we tend to avoid talking about it enough with our friends and family. There are many reasons for this - sometimes we assume we already know their opinion, or for some the problem may feel insurmountable at an individual level, or sometimes we’re just too busy to start the conversation. Regardless, this is a silence we need to break. We need to openly discuss climate action, our community expectations and we need to change the narrative around climate change and what we can do in Australia - starting now.
Here are ten tips to having productive and positive conversations around climate action with the people we have the most power to influence - our friends, family and colleagues.
- Share your climate story. Why it matters to you. Use your personal experience, or that of our veterinary profession.
- Frame the climate crisis in terms of health, wellbeing, livelihood. The research shows that appealing to people’s core values and humanity and the impact of the climate crisis is more effective than focusing on talking about the environment.
- Share a vision of a better future. Innovative climate solutions and a positive message of what the future could look like (job production, improved health etc) can reach people who generally switch off with negative messaging.
- Empower your audience. Turn the vague ideas in to do-able actions that others can take. Switching their super to one that doesn't invest in fossil fuels, switching their energy provider to one that uses renewables, or perhaps encouraging political engagement.
- More stories, less facts. We’ve all heard enough facts, it’s stories that really count. Do you have a story of how climate change is affecting your area or the animals in it? Or maybe how climate solutions are helping your local community?
- Be prepared to myth-bust! Check out some Australia-specific myth busting facts here
- Highlight that concern around climate change is widespread. 72% of Australians rated climate change as the biggest problem for us personally in the Australia Talks National Survey (Jan 2020).
- Tailor your message to your audience. Try to put yourself in their shoes, think about what their concerns may be, and address them.
- Hit the right tone. Avoid very emotive language and dramatic tone, this can make people anxious and actually cause them to switch off. Instead, use a matter-of-fact, positive tone and language to talk about climate change.
- Be non-partisan and factual. We need to let go of the political ‘climate wars’ of the past and try to avoid framing policies or political parties as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Instead let's talk in terms of the action that needs to be taken. We need messaging and conversations that allow politicians to revise their policies in the face of this crisis and get all politicians to include climate action as a key part of their agenda.
Talking with kids? Check out this guide for parents from the Australian Psychological Society, with lots of tips and strategies to having effective and age-appropriate discussions with your kids about climate change.
Post on social media
Sharing or posting on social media can be a really effective way to mobilise your friends and family on the issue. Use the same strategies as above for constructive communication.
If you don’t already, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We’d love your help getting our message out to others in the veterinary community and beyond, so feel free to share any of our posts or tag us in your posts.
Order your free posters
It's easy. Just follow these steps and use your voice - and your clinic, home or office to make it clear: Australia's animals need climate action!
Step 1: Fill in this short form.
Step 2: Wait to receive your posters in the mail (delays are expected in parts of Qld and NSW due to recent weather events).
Step 3: Put your posters up in visible places in your clinic, home or office.
Step 4: Take a photo of you with your posters and share it to social media, reaching even more people!
To have even more impact, send a poster to the candidates in your electorate!