The "Australian" model

I'm not sure that I explained the Australian model as well as I could.

It's important to establish the context first.

The overwhelming majority of local groups number between 10 and 20 members, whether this is a big place eg Sheffield or a small place eg Silsden. There are some exceptions of course .... but the magic number seems to be 12.

It is felt that this is probably because this number enables a group to work well. It's not so big that it's unwieldy but neither is it so small that everyone is overburdened.

There are as many models as there are groups but 12 people can probably run a group, meet reasonably regularly and organise a number of activities, not least letter-writing or petition- or letter-signing.

That's fine.

But what if there are people outside the 12 who would like to take part actively? How do they join in? There's no space or opportunity.

Arguably, these are the activities that local groups should organise:

1          Hold regular committee meetings.

2          Campaign eg letter-writing

3          Raise awareness (Hard to separate from campaigning.)

4          Get involved in formal education (Hard to do, I think)

5          Fundraising

The Australian model suggests that there may be people outside the 12 who would do something if they were asked or felt they could suggest it. Items 2,3 and 4 imply a close association with Amnesty but fundraising does not. The book sale in Valence was a fund-raising event designed to raise money from the sale of donated books. The fact that 200 people or so signed petitions is good but the majority (the other 1700) wanted to buy books. It raised €10000 but it only happened because 40 "bénévoles" took part, and the three ladies that sorted all the books etc are not office-holders although they attend the meetings. So if someone, say, wants to set up and run a reading circle or someone else wants to have a Dinner Club with food from around the world, should we say no?

The Australian model is about involving more people in more activities.

It has been successful in that Amnesty Australia have achieved a high level of penetration. I've researched some figures and in June 2014 AI Australia had 375,000 activists so out of a population of 25m that's 275,000 ÷ 25.000,000 x 100 = 1.1%.

I think this high level had something to do with the high profile of an Australian asylum-seekers' camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea but even so ....


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