The fight for our environment may coalesce in boardrooms and the halls of Parliament, but the groundswell of action has already begun in our streets and in our communities. In order to tackle the climate and nature crises, we are building power in our suburbs; power which we are deploying to pressure politicians and business to act in the interests of their constituents; power which we are using to create a flourishing, growing movement for the environment.
The fight for our future cannot happen without grassroots community groups organising their communities and taking action locally, while showing up for the now fiercely ambitious wider movement for change.
ACF community groups operate all over the country and play a pivotal role in the fight against climate change and to save our big backyard through meeting with politicians, hosting local forums and events, taking part in ACF campaigns and organising their communities to take action. Our ACF community groups create change by building People Power in their communities.
What is People Power?
People Power is the impact all of us can have to create societal and political change. It is the end result of coordinating and organising people for a common cause and has led to systemic changes throughout history. The Civil Rights movement in the US, the Franklin Dam protests and the marriage equality movement are all examples of People Power in action.
For example, our community groups banded together during the 2022 Federal Election for the Together We Can campaign, partnering with local allies, to drive electoral change and create community movements for climate action. The campaign was a roaring success, inspiring Australians who love nature to vote for climate action, and ultimately, electing a parliament with a mandate to act on climate change.
Together We Can, Chisholm. Photo: Nina Killham
There is no barrier to entry for our community groups; regardless of your life experience or background, you have an important role to play in an ACF community group. ACF’s community organisers work closely with our groups to help them strategise, create and undertake local campaigns, and develop their skills as local environmentalists.
It’s so important that we have a wide range of members from many different backgrounds, as ACF community groups are the key to spreading ACF campaigns at a local level. While talking to politicians and developing critical work is important to getting the legislation and targets we need—it is broad community support and community action that ensures we are listened to.
The wonderful thing about ACF community groups is that they are built in the group’s image, in the interests of your community. So, while ACF will provide the resources to undertake campaigns, host events, meet with politicians and the like, how the group functions and how the group decides to work on campaign priorities is completely up to the group.
Save Our Big Backyard
To ensure we can reverse nature decline and and restore nature to health by the end of the decade, Save Our Big Backyard, calls for stronger legislation to protect our natural environment. Our community groups have contributed to this campaign in a number of ways, including meeting with politicians, hosting film screenings and picnics, leading bushwalks, participating in the platy-project, and delivering petitions to decision-makers.
ACF Community Macnamara Planting in Westgate Park, Melbourne. Photo: Cathy Ronalds
How you choose to get involved is completely up to you. Most groups are broken up into three teams:
However, some groups prefer to operate at a more informal level and focus on pursuing local campaign priorities, like hosting nature outreach events for our Save Our Big Backyard Campaign, or leading a local group to spot platypus in a local waterway. In this way, ACF Community Groups have something to offer for all interests and skillsets.
Members of ACF community doorknocking in Chisholm Electorates. Photo: Annette Ruzicka
Head to the join a local group tab on our website. There you will be able to find all of our current community groups across the country and can sign up to the ACF Community Group that is closest to you.
If you do not have a community group in your area, reach out to us and we can help.. If there is enough interest in your area we can look at helping you start a local group and give you the tools and resources to be able to get a local group up and running.
If you still want to know more before you join, get a sample of what it is like to be a part of a community group and come to our training sessions and community webinars, where you can continue to learn more about our groups and campaigns, and meet with members of our community.