How to Prepare for Voices for Justice

So you’re coming to VFJ19? YES!!! A decision you won’t regret. So the big question is – how do you prepare to be a part an event like this? What do you need to know? 

Voices for Justice is a phenomena that is difficult to explain until you’ve experienced it for yourself!

There are a few things you can do to feel ‘ready’ and ‘prepared’ but remember, that the first two days of the conference are solely dedicated to equipping and training you well so that when you walk into meetings with politicians you feel relaxed and confident!

Here are a couple of things you can do though to feel well prepared:

1. Get acquainted with Australian Aid and what it does.

What is Australian Aid and how has it changed over the years? These are important question that are good to have a handle on before you come to Voices for Justice. It’s also important to understand the current political context and where the Australian Aid budget is at.

While this year we won’t have a strong focus on the volume of Australian Aid (how much of the overall Federal Budget is designated to aid each year), every policy ask we have is still related to the Australian Aid budget.

To help you get a better understanding of Aid, you can read some of the latest blogs and resources on our website:

Why is aid important? How much does Australia give to Aid? – Read Here.

What happened to Aid in the budget? [Written in May this year after the latest federal budget].

2. The Pacific is where it is at! 

This year our focus at Voices for Justice is Pacific Perspectives.

As well as having some special guests leaders from the Pacific joining us, our policy will focus on the Government’s work in the Pacific region. We want to ensure the Government’s “Pacific Step Up” prioritises the needs of the region’s most poor, vulnerable and oppressed.

Well you might be asking ‘What is the Pacific Step Up?’

The Pacific Step-up is the name given to Australia’s Foreign policy agenda in the Pacific Region.

It was first highlighted in Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and 2016 Defence White Paper as of fundamental importance to Australia.

It was first announced by (then) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Meeting in September 2016 as a ‘step-change’ in the way we would engage the region.

Then on 8 November 2018, Prime Minister Morrison announced Australia would take our engagement to a new level, launching a “new chapter in relations with our Pacific family”. This was an important moment in Australian foreign policy and since then, the Pacific Step Up has gained enormous momentum.

In 2019–20, Australia will spend a record $1.4 billion in development assistance in the Pacific.

Here is a good one-page summary from DFAT on what the Government’s priorities are for the Pacific Step Up:

DFAT one Page summary on Pacific Step Up.

You can read Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s address regarding Pacific Step Up here.

And for a quick glance at how Australia currently spends it’s aid budget in the Pacific, read a quick overview here.

3. Find out what you can about your local MP and Senators.

You might like to start doing your research on your local Federal Member and Senators.

While we can’t guarantee that you’ll get a meeting with them, it’s a great exercise to find out what you can about them, especially any passions they may have about humanitarian issues and Australian aid.

If you don’t have time for this – don’t stress! We do all the research for you and you’ll be given politician profiles for each person you meet with ahead of time.

Places to look: 

  • Their website and social media channels.
  • Search at their maiden speech on the main APH website [maiden speeches are a big deal and ‘set the agenda’ and tone of what that politician deems important and what they’d like to achieve while in Parliament].
  • Do a ‘news’ search for them and see what issues they’ve been speaking about/working on lately!

4. Dig deeper into some past policy platforms.

While you’ll be fully briefed during Voices for Justice on our policy platform, if you are really keen, you can take a look at the 2019 Policy Platform that shaped our asks at Voices in 2018, and also during the election this year.

Remember – our policy asks will be different this year, but this will give you an idea of the level of detail you can expect for this year’s policy platform.

Can’t wait to see you in a little over two weeks time!!!