Joan Staples is an Honorary Principal Research Fellow at RMIT University, where her work focuses on the importance of civic engagement for a healthy democracy. Her academic work is informed by a career in policy and advocacy for non-government organizations, since she was ACF lobbyist in Canberra during the Hawke Government. She is actively involved in training programs such as the Community Organising Fellowship and Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia, which develop skills in civil society members. Her vision for the future of Australia includes a vibrant society of community organizations reflecting the rich diversity, creativity and energy of local people.
WORKSHOP: Rescuing our Democracy.
Dr Joan Staples
Remade Australia declares Pillar 8 to be ‘A Thriving Democracy’ with an inspiring vision of engaged citizens, ethical leaders, a vibrant and diverse parliament, great media and creative public debate.
During the early 20th century, Australia led the world in democratic reforms – the secret ballot, votes for women. But now, Australia is slipping down Transparency International’s Corruption list, and sits at 13th place. Civil society wants to stop this corruption slide. Over 40 Australian NGOs across all sectors are coming together to defend our faltering democracy. After working successfully during 2018, the group, Hands Off Our Charities, is reforming to take action.
What do you think should be the first steps to bring about A Thriving Democracy? The new group forming from Hands Off Our Charities, has identified four possible areas. How would you prioritise these? or What else would you include? They are discussing:-
(1) reducing corporate influence in our politics by reforming political donation and expenditure laws and properly regulating lobbying;
(2) ensuring that a Commonwealth Integrity Commission with teeth is introduced;
(3) scaling back national security laws and data; and
(4) ensuring funding is restored to NGOs and government is unable to use funding to stifle advocacy.
How should we campaign on these topics to create people power and to influence lawmakers?
Joan’s workshop will provide some background on the issues, particularly those affecting NGOs, and will be a place to workshop the important issue of how to rescue our democracy. Checkout her webpage if you would like to read background about the attacks civil society has been experiencing and about the important role of NGOs in our democracy. www.joanstaples.org