How small groups make big change

This season of training presented by ChangeMakers Organising School is designed to supercharge your skills, relationships, and the impact of your group to make change on the issues that matter to you.

The training ran weekly on a Thursday evening at 6pm AEST, from April 29 – June 24. We provide all the content overviews, and post training share slides, relevant articles and edited videos of the trainings here.

Session 1: Why work in groups? – April 29

Looking at a history of social movements, we locate and celebrate the role of small groups in winning big change. This session will help situate attendees as part of an ecosystem with a long tradition of organising. 

Changemakers team Will Potter, Isabella Morand, and Amanda Tattersall presented this session. We were joined by Mary Crooks from the Victorian Women’s Trust and Paul Doughty from Your Rights at Work who shared stories of how local groups helped their campaigns with big, transformational wins.

You can catch up with a recording of this session here.

Session 2: How do I build powerful relationships? – May 6

This week we look at putting the social back in social movements. Group work is most effective when built on a culture of strong relationships, and groups grow their power when relational meetings are used to draw in new leaders and build coalitions. We’ll cover how to cultivate intentional relationships using the skill of relational meetings, and how you can create a group space that people have fun together in.

Changemakers Organising School co-founder Amanda Tattersall led this training. Graduated School Striker Varsha Yajman was our chair.

Catch up with the recording of session 2.

Session 3: Effective group work – May 13

Have you ever been in a group where one person does all the work? 

In this session we’re focussed on how to make sure your group is structured with roles and a plan to make your work effective. We provide tips on how you can maximise volunteers’ limited time to make the biggest difference on the issue you care about. 

This training was delivered by Maddy Butler (of The Parenthood and Neighbours United for Climate Action). We welcomed guests Dom Rowe (National Tertiary Education Unit) and Ken Matahari (Australian Conservation Foundation) to share examples of how structure and roles make their small group organising work more effective. Our chair was Changemakers’ Isabella Morand.

You can catch up with a recording here.

Session 4: How to run a good meeting – May 20

Let’s face it – social change work involves a lot of meetings. To be effective change makers, we need to run fun and productive meetings. This week, we’ll look at some of the ways meetings can go wrong, work on your facilitation skills, and provide guidance on building an excellent agenda that generates momentum and accountability.

This weeks training was run by Changemakers’ Amanda Tattersall and climate campaigner Ray Yoshida. Our chair was Climate 4 Change’s Carly Robertson.

Catch up with a recording of session 4.

Session 5: Leadership – May 27

Leadership is a core tenet of Community Organising. This week we’ll unpack an Organisers definition of leadership and the qualities of leaders. We also talk about using relational meetings to identify and step up other leaders in your small group.

This weeks training was delivered by Isabella Morand and Amanda Tattersall of Changemakers and chaired by Grace Vegesana, Climate & Racial Justice Organiser at AYCC & Organising Support at Democracy in Colour.

View the recording.

Session 6: Strong, sustainable groups – June 3

A huge challenge for activist groups can be creating a healthy and sustainable culture between the members of the group.

This week, we discussed how to create a group space that is safe and welcoming for new people and look at how to avoid experiencing burnout in your work. We introduced some skills for handling difficult people and hard conversations. These frameworks will help your group grow and succeed in the long term.

The training was led by The Wilderness Society’s Tria Manley and chaired by ACF’s Mel Abel. Our guests were Paul Sinclair (ACF & Youlden Parkville Cricket Club) and Anita Nair (Amnesty International Australia’s Youth Advisory Group).

Check out a recording!

Session 7: Campaign strategy & creative tactics – June 10

How does your group decide what kind of action to take, and when? Do you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again? This week, we look at the basics of campaign strategy and how to deliver a powerful and creative tactic.

Changemakers’ Isabella ran this training with case studies from Margie Pestorius from Disrupt Landforces and Kelly Albion from 350.org Australia. our chair was Manjot Kaur, graduated school striker and member of South Asians for Climate Justice.

View the recording.

Session 8: How should we work with other groups? – June 17

Groups working with other groups can be a powerful model for change making. This week we look at how to identify allies and the strengths and challenges of working in a coalition. We’ll consider some successful coalitions and what it takes to develop a winning one.

This session was chaired by Victor Komarovsky from Environment Victoria. Changemakers’ Amanda Tattersall ran the training with case studies from the Stop Adani Alliance (Nina Atkinson & Malcolm Paterson) and the Real Deal (Elise Ganley).

Here is the recording.

Session 9: How can we measure success? – June 24

Sometimes in a local group you can fall into the habit of doing one thing after another without much clarity about how well it’s working. This week we share a model to assist with planning and evaluation to supercharge your campaign work and grow your group.

Amanda and Will from the Changemakers team ran this session which was chaired by Elise Chidiac from the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance. The recording is here.

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