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Refugee Council of Australia
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Champions for Change fellow reflects on experience

This experience has been life-changing. Over six months I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of strangers across the entire country to make big changes in refugee policy in this country. I have had contact with community leaders, MPs, business owners and everyday Australians and can see a network forming which I am now a part of.

I have met so many people who share my goals and who want to work towards making a difference. It is inspiring to see how much people do care despite what you see in the media. Not only that, but the diversity of my team has taught me so much about working in a group and given me skills which I will use in future activism.

My training sessions and the webinars have been great. I was also given extra material to research which I used in our campaigns. We were given so much guidance and information but at the same time had complete autonomy. We were hands on the whole way and calling all the shots. This was daunting at the start but I’m so glad because I learnt so much about running campaigns from start to finish.

The campaign we were running was an election campaign in the electorate of Watson in South Western Sydney. It was a lot of fun. We were organising community events and hitting the streets. This was true activism. In one instance, I had a grocer take my empty pledge pages from me and started helping us on the spot. He asked every single customer in 30 minutes to sign!

One of our community meetings was attended by Nadia and Karl Selah, leaders in their local councils. At another, we connected with other groups like ours such as Nana’s for Refugees and the ASRC. While we were so nervous to run these meetings, we recruited 13 volunteers to help us man street stalls!

We had a plan and we went for it. It’s incredible what six months of focus can achieve. When I think about the amount of meaningful conversations that I’ve had, despite the election result, I am still confident we have made an impact. It just goes to show that people care.

I highly recommend this program to anyone hoping to work in the NGO or not-for-profit space. I can’t wait to see what the next Champions for Change achieve with Samuel!

Sarah Rouse, Champion for Change 2019

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