Organising a petition is a great way of creating change within your community. Petitions can be made to businesses and various levels of government in order to initiate change. The value of a petition is that it demonstrates the feeling within a community regarding a particular issue.
When organising a petition, you need to be aware of the requirements in order that it be acceptable to the body with whom it is to be lodged. For example, if you are lodging a petition with your local government body in Victoria, you will find the requirements in your council’s Governance Rules which should be available on their website. These have to be adopted by 1 September 2021. You may find different requirements for different councils. One council I looked at said the petition had to go to the CEO. Another said it had to be addressed to the Ward Councillor. If you don’t get it right, it may be refused.
Research on several council website has revealed no provision for electronic petitions at this stage. I have written to my local council in an effort to have a policy written around such a petition.
Conversely, the Victorian Government does have a provision for electronic petitions. You can find a list of these petitions that provide several examples at Legislative Council E-Petitions. It’s interesting that you can’t submit an electronic petition to the Lower House in Victoria, only the Upper House.
The Federal Government also has provision to allow for both paper and electronic petitions.
As you can see from the above variances in the manner in which petitions must be submitted, it is essential you do your homework.
Generally speaking, if you were to submit a petition to a business about their waste or some other action, there wouldn’t be any legislative requirement around it.
If you are looking to organise an electronic petition, you have two good sources that I know. One is Change.org which has been around for a long time. Then there’s the relatively new kid on the block, Campaigns By Me. Change.org is an international organisation and has petitions from people all around the globe. Campaigns By Me on the other hand is Australian based and run by Getup. Many people would be familiar with Getup and their prominence in political activism.
Whilst Change.org is broad in its types of petitions, Campaigns by Me is somewhat restrictive. Any petition you organise using Campaigns By Me must be consistent with Getup’s overriding mission and values of the Getup movement. For example, if you wanted to start a petition on getting a new coal mine developed or banning immigrants from your local club, you wouldn’t have much chance.
Petitions can be a great way of generating support for your issue. Apart from your own community organisation, you are creating the ability to reach the wider community. Electronic petitions are easy to set up and promote. You won’t have to have community organisation members sitting in the cold for hours outside a supermarket trying to gain support.
The last word again is to make sure you prepare and submit your electronic or paper petition in the right form.