If there’s an issue you feel strongly about there’s many ways you can make your voice known. And in more creative than I’m sure I can come up with too!

To take just one issue that I’ve been writing about recently, the Federal government’s data retention proposal, the parliamentary committee considering the relevant Bill is due to table its report on 27 February 2015.

Parliament will then sit in March. There’s been reports that the PM would like the Bill passed by the end of the parliamentary sitting week which begins on the 16 March. So we don’t have much time!

Write to your MP or relevant politicians. Visit and call.

 If you’re not sure who your local MP  you can use this site to find your local MP.

The relevant Minister responsible for the Data Retention Bill is the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis.  The Shadow Attorney-General is Mark Dreyfus.

Explain the issues and concerns of most interest to you in your own words. Avoid form letters, they’re very easy to ignore. Set out what concrete action you want your MP or the politician to take.  Do take the time to read this excellent and very frank guide to writing to Ministers by Bernard Keane.

Post and email your letter, rather than just email it where it is much easier to be ignored. Include where you live in your letter.  (Check out this post written by a politician on how to lobby a MP and not be ignored.)

MPs get many emails and letters.   You may want to call or visit your local MP to explain your concerns about this issue and to ask their position. Put your request for a meeting in writing.

Oxfam also has some tips for writing to politicians, what you can ask them to do and how to get the most out of a meeting with your MP.  (I know my mother’s local MP in Ballarat certainly knows her views on the plight of people seeking asylum who are detained indefinitely both off-shore and in suburban detention centres. And she’s not giving up either despite the government’s intransigence. )

Engage your community

There’s plenty of ways to engage your community, there’s no “one” way.  And what may work for you may be different for others depending on your skills and the issue.  You could organise an event, write a letter to the editor, an opinion piece for a newspaper or specialist publication.

This past week we’ve seen powerful public actions remembering Reza Barati and people gathering in solidarity with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

And we’d welcome you to add your voice to our very own Future Wise forums.

Image Credit: Handskrivet by Yvonne Larsson - via Flikr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0