Report Back (the last 12 months)

Report back from It’s Up 2 Us Campaign September 2017 – September 2018 (word of warning, this is a longish read)

As always it’s been a challenging and difficult time for those of us working for a just and sustainable world.  As I write this report I and our community are reeling from a third mass murder of a family in WA in the past few months and 2 teenage boys who have drowned in the river after being chased by police for jumping fences. Our East Coast is in severe drought, we are preparing for a ‘humdinger’ of a fire season and our political class continue to act with impunity and corruption. Our culture and systems are problematic for most and dangerous for many, and whilst thousands of us are actively working to make things better, we are up against a great amount of inertia and vested interests.

I want to take a moment in writing this report to acknowledge why we do what we do and the toll it takes on those of us on the front line.  To acknowledge the First Nation Peoples of these lands and waters and their continued custodianship of country, the Whadjuk People of the Nyoongar Nation, their elders past, present and emerging and all First Nations People across this great continent. I want to acknowledge their continued fight for justice and grieve alongside them for that which has been lost and those who have died in the struggles. I acknowledge the tremendous generosity with which Elders and members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continue to share, teach and work for a better world and pledge my commitment to walk with them.  And I want to say I am sorry.  Sorry for the hurt, the pain and the suffering still felt, still inflicted and still justified by our society.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the many grass roots campaigners and activists doing all they can to make the world a better place.  For those who are unpaid and underpaid leading us through these difficult times. Those who hurt for all and act for justice in the most unlikely of places.  Those climbing tripods and literally placing their bodies in the way of destruction and harm. Those courageous folk working within destructive systems who continue to bring humanity and compassion without losing their integrity.  For each and every person who chooses to do what is right rather than what is expected or what is easy, thank you.

In writing this report back I’m going to report on events and activities we have been involved in, none of them alone.

The past 12 months (up until September 2018) have seen us lead and contribute to:

Public Events and Community Outreach

These have included lectures, book readings, discussion groups, rallies and fundraising.  Subjects covered have included climate justice and feminism, climate and health, community organising, combatting populism and the far right, and, decolonising solidarity. I have spoken at numerous events including mc’ing Bill McKibben’s livestream into Perth for the Accelerate Climate Action Tour, interviewing author and Greenpeace CEO David Ritter for his book launch The End of Coal in South Perth and have supported community events including science week, #RiseForClimate, fracking actions and Stop Adani events.

Developing the capacity and effectiveness of campaigners and activists:

We are soon to begin our 5th year of the Perth Community Organising Collective.  This network has facilitated over 40 free training opportunities for activists and campaigners across a wide range of campaigns and a wide range of subjects. In the past year we have facilitated training in Decolonising Solidarity, Writing for Change, Leadership, Persuasive Public Speaking, Digital Organising, Strategy, Events and Engaging with Politics.  This September the workshop is entitled The Revolution Begins at Home: Preventing Gendered Violence in Activist Spaces.

We have been involved in 2 planning camps and a Women’s Climate Justice Retreat as a part of the Women’s Climate Justice Collective here in WA.  One of the Women’s Climate Justice Collective’s aims is that ‘there is a greater recognition of the gendered impacts of climate change and women’s climate solutions in Australian media, climate organisations, and debates, influencing policy makers’. Through direct policy and advocacy, training and mentoring and the facilitation of these camps the It’s Up 2 Us campaign has been supporting work to fulfil this aim, whilst equipping community members and organisations with skills to create change.

The It’s Up 2 Us Campaign has enabled the mentoring (both formal and informal) of 18 grassroots activists and campaigners.  These have been connected to at least 9 organisations and many more campaigns and community actions.  It has made a tremendous difference for grass roots campaigners to have access to ongoing mentoring and training opportunities through the work of It’s Up 2 Us and the Perth Community Organising Collective.

Advocacy, policy development and systemic change:

As a member of the Consumer and Carer Reference Group to the Sustainable Health Review Panel for the Department of Health WA’s strategic review of the health system I have given enormous time and energy this past year to advocate for strong consideration of climate justice, equity and intra-generational and inter-generational justice within the health system. The interim report for the SHR was recently released, and included this statement:

The Panel notes a strong concern regarding the emergence of environmental impacts, such as extreme weather conditions and the growth of infectious and communicable diseases that might expose and put further strain on the WA health system. An adaptive and flexible approach to this area is needed.

As a result of this work I was asked by the Sustainable Health Review to lead the process of holding a Climate and Sustainability Forum to advise the panel in how it could respond. This was opened by Hon Roger Cook (The Deputy Premier and Health minister) in July, attended by 58 participants across many sectors of government (local and state) social services, grass roots campaigners and those working with young people. This forum developed a report including recommendations which have been submitted to the Panel of the Sustainable Health Review. A follow up piece of work is happening to develop and facilitate a community of practice for individuals within the health sector (inside and outside government and formal health organisations) who have an interest in climate justice and health so as to support ongoing policy and practice efforts. Collectively we have reframed the conversation of climate and health within parts of the health system and will continue to collaborate with Drs for the Environment and others to push for the urgent policy changes and practice we need.

This year also saw numerous women throughout our networks engaged in advocacy to the WA Local Government Association in the development of WALGA’s Climate Change Policy. The policy has a strong stance on the climate emergency, recognises that climate change is a significant issue of injustice, and highlights the need for climate change action to redress inequalities that are exacerbated under climate change. A key phrase from the policy is as follows:

Local Government recognises that both the impacts of climate change and the policy responses required to contribute to the avoidance of dangerous climate change have significant equity implications. These equity considerations have domestic and international dimensions, for both present and future generations and for the survival of other species. Climate change disproportionately affects disadvantaged and marginalised groups including the poor and rural and regional communities.

This excellent policy statement provides strong guidance for climate change action by local governments across WA.

Since delivering a presentation at the Tenancy WA Conference in November 2017 we have been working with homelessness advocates and those involved in the housing space to address climate justice for people in vulnerable housing and on the streets. We are specifically advocating for ‘heat wave plans for the homeless at a local government level’ and the inclusion of those with ‘lived experience’ in policy development regarding disaster and emergency preparedness. In July we secured $4900 grant for climate justice and renewable energy organising from Climate Action Network Australia (CANA).  Some of that money will go directly to homelessness advocates and those with lived experience to impact policy and meet with decision makers.

In February 2018 I attended the Australian Vulnerability Project – Deconstructing Disasters event in Perth, advocating strongly for a feminist climate justice approach to disaster preparedness and response. To be honest it was a frightening experience. We engaged in scenario planning for a multiple disaster event happening across WA and the Northern Territory. In this case a cyclone heading inland at Bunbury and a Tsunami. There has been a shift in the emergency management space to accept that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ these events (size, scope and impact) will happen but when. In September 2018 I also attended the inaugural Australian Disaster Resilience Conference where I was able to connect with the Australian Women Working in Emergencies Network. Through this event and through contacts within the emergency management sector It’s Up 2 Us and the Women’s Climate Justice Collective is looking at how they can prepare communities for the impacts of climate change and engage communities and social service organisations in the advocacy and activism required to radically respond to the climate justice crisis.

Work with existing groups and organisations to increase collaboration

WA Climate Network – We have continued to facilitate the WA Climate Network holding several steering committee meetings, applying for and securing a small grant for additional community organising capacity (as mentioned earlier from CANA) and supporting members in collaborating across sectors.  Our e-list continues to provide a useful way of sharing events and resources throughout a diverse network.  We have continued to support members within various unions to engage and connect, deepening their work in transitioning our communities and their members into climate action.

We work (thorough our mentoring, training and direct project management) to ensure climate justice events and activities are accessible to a diverse range of community interests and where possible broker relationships to encourage collaboration.

It’s Up 2 Us has worked in both formal and informal ways with a wide range of organisations and individuals during the past 12 months including (this list is not exhaustive but shared to give an indication of sectors engaged with through the It’s Up 2 Us campaign):

  • Drs for the Environment
  • 350 Perth
  • AYCC
  • Fossil Free UWA
  • Stop Adani Perth
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Health Department of WA
  • Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
  • Department of Agriculture and Food
  • UWA
  • Curtin Uni
  • Landcorp
  • WA Association of Mental Health
  • Tenancy WA
  • Uniting Church in WA
  • Edith Cowan University
  • WA Social Workers Association
  • WA Local Government Association
  • Conservation Council of WA
  • Lock the Gate
  • Women’s Climate Justice Collective
  • CPSU/CSA
  • MUA WA
  • CFMEU
  • United Voice
  • Unions WA
  • Centre for Social Impact
  • Department of Home Affairs
  • Unicare
  • Climate and Health Alliance
  • Notre Dame University
  • MercyCare
  • Margaret River Council
  • Health Consumers Council of WA
  • Common Cause Australia
  • The Values Centre
  • Millenium Kids
  • Australia Remade
  • Soroptomist International
  • Environmental Defenders Office
  • The Australia Institute
  • Greenpeace
  • Energise WA
  • Tenancy Group Action WA
  • Emergency Management WA
  • Midland Community
  • Fremantle Council
  • World Health Organisation
  • East Metro Regional Council
  • Environmental Health WA
  • Reconciliation WA

Collaborating with new communities and groups: building our movements

By attending events and conferences we are continually seeking to widen the engagement and connections of the climate justice movement through the It’s Up 2 Us campaign.

Some of the CANA funding will be used to organise and facilitate a Future of Work Forum in November.  Organising has already begun to collaborate with Unions we have not traditionally collaborated with and to bring together organisations and individuals who share a common interest however may not yet be formally or informally collaborating.  By exploring the disruptions we face in a shared environment we aim to find common threads and highlight opportunities to work together for shared gain.

Work with civil and political leaders to address Climate Change as a health and social justice issue.

In the last 12 months we have directly engaged with 6 current members of parliament (state and fedral) several local government councillors, Mayors and a Minister’s policy advisor. Through our networks and relationships we continue to engage in developing leadership and holding our leaders to account to engage in the necessary actions to support a safe and just transition to a low carbon society.  We provide direct support materials where useful and training for others who want to engage with decision makers.  Through the work with the Sustainable Health Review we have had a significant opportunity to forward this conversation and we will continue to support efforts in this area through the WA Climate Network and through the Climate and Health Community of Practice.

Crowd Funding

Raising funds for It’s Up 2 Us has continued to be a challenge however this year we held an event mc’d by Prof Carmen Lawrence with guests Dr Noel Nannup and Prof Fiona Stanley.  The title of the event was “We’ve Been Here Before” and it was an excellent event bringing together the conversations of climate justice, children’s health, Aboriginal Culture and Aboriginal Rights, Politics and Activism. This raised a significant amount of funds for the campaign but also provided some wonderful inspiration for our community and connected the dots for many in the audience.  This is potentially a model of fundraising we will use in the future.

Connecting to Country

We continue to support the work of Dr Noel Nannup in taking people on Journeys on Country, facilitating storytelling sessions and cultural programs.  We have much to learn from the oldest continuing culture on earth and we are forever grateful for the guidance, teaching and support we receive through this work and our relationship with Noel and other cultural teachers.  We know in our bones there can be no climate justice until there is justice for our First Nations People.

What’s Next

Coming months will see us:

  • build on the work of the Sustainable Health Review advocating for the implementation of recommendations from the Climate and Sustainability Forum
  • support the development of the Climate and Health Community of Practice
  • facilitate the Future of Work Forum and train up new climate justice organisers
  • collaborate with homelessness advocates on heat wave plans for the homeless at a local government level
  • collaborate with people with lived experience to engage in disaster preparedness and emergency management policy development
  • collaborate with the women’s climate justice collective to forward feminist solutions to the climate crisis
  • mentor and train grass roots campaigners and activists both formally and informally
  • co-facilitate the Perth Community Organising Collective
  • broker relationships concerning regenerative agriculture, climate, health and Aboriginal Culture
  • catalyse a series of creative support processes for activists in partnership with several national and local organisations

and

  • start a PhD

Yeah, I know – what?!

We continue to be asked how to have the most impact and ask ourselves what are the most strategic actions to take?  Through collaborating with academics over past years the opportunity to engage in a PhD has arisen, working directly on a place based research project exploring loss and damage from climate change in local WA Communities and exploring Radical Transformation.

We cannot afford for anyone to take a step back from the actions needed right now for climate justice, both preparing our communities for the changes already happening and preventing the worst impacts of climate change by transitioning to a zero carbon society as soon as possible.  However I’ve decided it’s time to look at what the research tells us about Radical Transformation, Climate Justice and time to think and reflect on what’s needed at this point in time.  By engaging in a PhD I aim to have my/our activism ground my research and my/our research inform our activism.  We have made a significant amount of progress in the last 5 years, however we are still losing.  We cannot afford incremental change over the next 5 years, it’s time for Radical place based transformation and I think the opportunity to study with some of the top climate justice academics in the world right now is a great opportunity.

The It’s Up 2 Us Campaign will continue.  I will be able to do some of the work as my research J and where we can we will bring others into the work.  I will continue to raise funds for this work and will receive a small scholarship.  Any additional funds raised over my basic wage will allow us to pay other grass roots campaigners to engage in this work.

In conclusion

I’ll be amazed if anyone found the time to read to the bottom of this report, however if you did thank you.

As always we have much to do. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, whetehre we like it or not it’s up 2 us.

Feel free to get in touch, flick me an email at jaime@rraft.com.au or call on 0406 722066.  You’ll be hearing from me again.

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