John Watts: The vital role of community advocacy.

John is a Barrister with a Bachelor of Laws (QLD) and Master of Laws (UWS). A resident of Gloucester and an active member of Groundswell Gloucester, John was heavily involved in the campaign against AGL’s coal seam gas project and is media adviser to Groundswell Gloucester.

Workshop brief: The vital role of community advocacy.
Advocacy is said to be the art of persuasion. It is an art, not a science. Your task as an advocate is to persuade someone that your view or your organisation’s view should be accepted. Barristers and Solicitors appearing in court are often called Advocates because their task is to persuade the court or tribunal. Advocacy is taught to lawyers so that when they appear in court they will have (or should have) the necessary skills to try and persuade the judge or tribunal that their client’s case should be accepted, in part or in whole.

John’s extensive experience includes: Vice-president of the Gloucester Environment Group and founder of Rivercare; Appeared in the litigation arising out of the Thredbo Landslide; Represented several officials in the long running inquiry into the Canberra bushfires and represented the ACT in the subsequent litigation; Claims Assessor under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act; Accredited teacher with the Australian Advocacy Institute and former part time lecturer in Practice and Procedure at the University of Western Sydney; Past legal member of the Human Research Ethics Committee of Western Sydney Area Health Service; On several occasions has been member of the Australian Bar Association Advocacy teaching team to Bangladesh.Twitter address is @watts1_john which says: “Promoting sustainability, proper process, and an end to fossil fuels, the scourge of CSG and corporate political donations.”

My experience of being involved with the anti AGL coal seam gas campaign and other environmental issues has taught me that the principles of advocacy used in courts or tribunals are equally as applicable to other situations such as environmental campaigns or even to convincing a potential employer that you should get the job.