The action areas below require quite a bit of energy and resource. We suggest you connect with others for support and advice.
- Form or join a coalition or advocacy group, please click here.
- Organise or support an Advocacy Day or special event – examples include
- Organise a flash mob e.g. Pregnant Pause – A fun way to draw attention to an issue and support action or increase awareness.
- Organise a Press Conference – If there is something important happening in your community a press conference can be a way to leverage off this to gain wider interest/support.
Meet your local Member of Parliament or Local Councillor
- Be clear about your purpose for meeting with them and what it is you would like them to do.
- Check if others have met with the MP, or whether others are meeting other MPs on this issue or similar. Co-ordinate where appropriate. Share your experience on our Facebook community group.
- Do some investigation before you go – do they have a view/opinion on the issue? Has their party expressed a view on the issue? Have they had any previous experience of relevance, etc?
- Make an appointment – MPs usually have some days each week when they are based in their local constituency office. You can contact the office and establish a connection with their assistant.
- Be prepared – It is likely that you will only have a short time with them so plan to make the most of it - write down your key points making sure they are clear and simple, double check all your facts, have some real-life examples to share and/or take someone along with you to share their experience, think about possible questions they might have and practice some answers, have something to leave with them.
- Be on time.
- Be personable and let your passion for the issue show.
- During the meeting – stick to the facts and issues. Be solution focused. Avoid confrontation and argument. Avoid criticising others. Seek their views and ideas – what can they/Parliament do about this issue? Offer to be available for further information.
- If you don’t know the answer to any questions offer to find out, and make sure you follow-up with the answer.
- Thank them for their time and attention.
Develop a petition
A petition can be an effective way to achieve action or at least draw attention to the need for action on a particular issue. If done well it can also demonstrate support for change.
- Be clear about who will receive the petition. If you want to generate political momentum then an MP will be a possible recipient. Choose carefully.
- Ensure the wording is clear, concise and specifies what you want done.
Parliamentary rules for petitions can be found here.
You can create an online petition at https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petition/new. You can then circulate this electronically for others to sign.
Think strategically about what your petition is asking for. Sometimes asking for the first step towards change – something that seems more doable – is more effective that asking for the ultimate.
Write and present submissions
When issues are being considered by the Government (or local government) there is usually an opportunity for members of the public to provide their input and feedback. This is part of our democratic process. Public consultation can be called at different stages in a legislative process.
It is important to have your say on local or national policy and planning processes for alcohol. Keep a look out for opportunities for your input.
Submissions may be called for on:
- discussion documents
- draft plans or strategies
- policies (e.g. Local Alcohol Policies, alcohol bylaws)
- Parliamentary Bills (draft legislation)
Share your submission or create a template. This can be circulated amongst your connections to support them to make a submission as well. You could share your submission thoughts and ideas with others on our Action Point facebook page.
Types of submissions
- Local Council : Every Council must seek feedback on their local plans and bylaws. They go through a process called a Special Consultative Procedure, which usually means you have at least one month to give your feedback.
- A Government Ministry: The Ministrty of Health, Police, Justice, etc calls for submissions when considering a new law, a change to an old law, or asks for feedback on a draft strategy or action plan. Often at this stage, the Minister is seeking information and evidence about the proposal; as well as public views if they support or oppose the proposal.
- The Parliamentary Select Committee: There are a number of Select Committees in New Zealand (e.g. Justice, Health, Maori Affairs). They call for submissions when a bill (draft legislation) is referred to them after the first reading. The Select Committee can also launch an inquiry on an issue. At this stage, committee members are seeking views from the public on the specific details of a bill.
Here is a quick video guide on making a submission to Select Committee (Source: New Zealand Parliament 26 June 2018)
Some members of your group might like to learn more about communication strategies. There are a number of options, e.g. you can organise a training workshop for yourselves, or attend a course/workshop.
Training and other opportunities will be posted on this website where when they are available.
For great advice and information on community communications, visit the Community Comms Collective - this group also provides free support from their volunteers with expertise in communications - Community Comms Collective.
Develop a communications plan
It is important that your group determines what is communicated about the group and its activities. Have a plan for this – don’t leave communication to chance.
Here is some information, tips and tools to assist:
- If you have an Action Plan this can guide your communications planning.
- There are a range of groups you need to think about – group members (internal stakeholders), group partners, funders etc. (external stakeholders), your community and sometimes the wider public and the media.
- For each of these groups consider why you need to communicate with them, what the key messages will be, and how you will communicate with them.
- Some communication is regular and proactive – that is - you generate it and manage the messages, e.g. newsletters, website posts, press releases.
- Other communication is responsive or reactive – that is - someone wants a comment or information from you. Having some key messages and information ready will help those who are responsible for this. See an example of a community media release here.
When engaging with media always have some key facts at your fingertips. This will help you come across as confident and authoritative.
Advocate - get your message across
Advocacy is key to change. Alcohol can be a controversial and politically-charged issue. Being an advocate for change in this area may require you to step outside your comfort zone.
Community Action is a form of advocacy. There are other forms such as media advocacy, policy advocacy, direct advocacy, client advocacy, etc.
Chances are you are already an advocate and perhaps don’t realise it. Maybe you are new to this or maybe you’d like to sharpen your skills. Below are some information, tips and tools to support your advocacy efforts.
Advocacy is... the Art of Persuasion. It is about recommending a course of action or change of direction. Giving a voice to those less enabled. Speaking on behalf of or in support of a person or cause.
Watch the video on effective advocacy skills
OTHER USEFUL LINKS:
Engage with mainstream media
- Write letters to the editor/post a comment on a website
Respond in the media to a local issue or an article on a local issue
Respond to another comment or letter
Start a conversation
Newspapers and online media will usually provide an address for the editor. They sometimes have instructions for letters such as word limits, no attachments, etc.
Short and snappy is the key to getting a letter published. Direct attacks are unlikely to be published so keep it constructive and solutions focussed. Read some that have been published on the issue or other issues and get some ideas from these.
Engage with social media
Increasingly, many people get their news, knowledge and information through their mobile devices. Readers often want personalised information and stories, with visual content and short videos being popular.
As such, it is useful to have an online presence and make use of the power of different social media including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Social media can also provide an interactive platform to engage with users and their wider networks by means of posts that they like and share. The following table summarises the functions and audience types of key social media. Most social media allow you to share information with everyone (public) or subscribed members (private).
- Our counterpart in Australia, Your Shout, provides useful guidance on social media. This includes how to be proactive and how to handle negative comments/ feedback, please click here.
Talk to your local leaders
Discuss your concerns with a local school principal, local/community board member, church pastor, kaumatua and kuia, community constable, etc. They might assist you in connecting with others who share your concerns.
Attend community meetings
Look out in your local paper or online forums for any local groups that are discussing community safety or local issues. This includes residents associations, neighbourhood watch groups, and community patrols. Attend a meeting or post a message. Let them know of your concerns and gauge interest in coming together to discuss further.
Visit community online groups
Reach out through on-line forums such as community Facebook groups, Neighbourly, etc.
Organise an initial meeting
Sometimes a local meeting is a good way to get interested people together. These can be particularly useful if there has been an incident that concerns the community and there is a wish to respond.
Inviting a guest speaker can provide an added incentive for people to attend, and help to focus the meeting.
Form an action group
Action groups can take any form. They often establish and develop organically. They are essentially a group of people working together for a common purpose.
Sometimes a group only lasts to complete a particular task/outcome (e.g. to object to a licence application). Other groups are more on-going in nature to address broader community issues. The way a group functions needs to serve the group’s purpose. Find out more about what you’ll need to think about when forming a group.
Apply for community funding
If the group wishes to apply for funding then some degree of formalisation of the group will be required. You may consider registering as a charity, please click here. You can also take other forms such as an incorporated society. There are requirements for such entities. To find out more, check Companies Office, please click here.
Plan your action
Getting things done requires some degree of planning. This includes getting agreement on what you aim to achieve, identifying what needs to be done, how will it be done, by who and when. Below are some simple steps to follow.
Planning can be done by everyone in the group or by a smaller sub-planning group.
Brainstorm – Get the group or interested members together to explore the options for action. This will provide an opportunity to explore a whole range of ideas and options, and then refine these to what is within the group’s scope and capability.
It may be worth getting someone that’s not involved directly to lead this process. This will allow all group members to participate. It’s important that it is a creative process and everyone’s ideas are considered.
Draft a Plan – Use the information from the brainstorm and any other group discussions to draft a Project Action Plan.
Get feedback on the Draft Plan – Share the draft plan with the members or planning group and ask for feedback. Be specific about what feedback you require, how members can provide feedback and set a timeframe.
Finalise the Plan – Once all feedback has been received then the plan can be finalised and shared with the group’s members.
Communicate - The success of any group or project often comes back to how well it has communicated itself and its messages.
Regulatory agencies and Health Promoters
There are some people whose role requires them to work to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Some have specific regulatory functions such as NZ Police (especially Alcohol Harm Prevention Officers), Licensing Inspectors at your local council and the Medical Officer of Health at your District Health Board (DHB).
There are others who are also likely to have an interest in supporting community efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm - these include Health Promoters at your DHB or other health providers.
To find out more about these people and their roles click below
Connect with others - join Facebook
There are others around the country who share your concerns. To share knowledge, ideas, support and advice we have created a closed facebook group that you can join to share information with others. Join here.
There are also some community alcohol action groups already established. Visit our online Facebook group to find out if there is one near you. If they are too far away at least you can talk to them online to find out how they went about getting established and what they are doing. There might also be opportunities to collaborate or co-ordinate with them.
Identify and connect with politicians and decision-makers
If you want to influence alcohol policy decisions, it is good to know the names and positions of people to influence. In New Zealand, important alcohol policy decisions are made in Parliament and in Local Government.
- Government Ministers and members of parliament
There are many Ministers in Parliament who have a direct or indirect responsibility for alcohol issues. This includes the Ministers for Health, Justice, Police, Social Development, ACC, Education, etc. In relation to alcohol, the Minister of Health is particularly important.
It is also important to get to know your local Member of Parliament (MP). This person has a very important role to play in local issues.
Click on the link below to find the names and contacts of key influencers in New Zealand. You may want to raise your concerns regarding alcohol to any or all of the persons listed.
- Local Government Officials
The Mayor, local Councillors and Community Board / Local Board members also have a big influence in local alcohol decisions.
For example, Councils deal with Local Alcohol Policies, Licence Applications, Liquor Bans in public places, public transport alcohol policies, alcohol signage, public events, etc. They also have a role in community development.
You can contact them to raise your concern about alcohol issues in your community. It can be difficult to know which councillors or community board members you should contact. The structure of council in different regions also varies. As a starting point, you can contact community board members and councillors with a portfolio in community engagement or social development.