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Social Affairs Column

Happenings on the Hill – 12 Days of Christmas    

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Welcome to Happenings on the Hill – Happenings on the Hill is a fortnightly column specifically for the Third Sector by government engagement expert Neil Pharaoh, Director & Co-Founder of Tanck. 

In keeping with the festive spirit, we bring you this year’s twelve days of (government engagement) Christmas, to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas—something you can sing with all your colleagues and friends about how amazing your government engagement journey has been this year! 

On the first day of engagement, my cause gave to me, A meeting with a lawmaker with glee. 

On the second day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Two public forums.  

On the third day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Three policy briefs. 

On the fourth day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Four town hall meetings. 

On the fifth day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Five strategic plans. 

On the sixth day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Six social media campaigns. 

On the seventh day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Seven webinars sparkling. 

On the eighth day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Eight partnerships forming. 

On the ninth day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Nine community forums. 

On the tenth day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Ten coalition partners. 

On the eleventh day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Eleven endorsement letters. 

On the twelfth day of engagement, my cause gave to me, Twelve policy wins. 

In all seriousness though, this is also a great list to check off, finish and calibrate the year with—use this list of 12 to tick off what you may have done, or may have missed in 2023, or as a basis for your planning for 2024.  

Meet with Lawmakers: Establish a personal connection with lawmakers to discuss your cause, share information, and express the importance of your initiatives. Schedule one-on-one meetings to ensure focused and meaningful discussions. Prepare concise talking points and bring supporting materials.  

Host Public Forums: Engage with the broader community to gather feedback, share updates, and create a space for open dialogue on relevant issues. Choose accessible venues, promote the event widely, and provide opportunities for attendees to ask questions or offer input. Consider a mix of in-person and virtual options.  

Create Policy Briefs: Clearly communicate your organisation’s stance on key issues, providing concise and informative materials for policymakers and the public. Craft well-researched policy briefs outlining the problem, proposed solutions, and potential impacts. Use accessible language and visuals for broader understanding.  

Conduct Town Hall Meetings: Connect with constituents, address concerns, and gather insights from the local community to inform your advocacy efforts. Choose diverse locations within the community, encourage participation through various channels, and ensure ample time for Q&A. 

Strategic Planning: Develop a roadmap for achieving your advocacy goals, ensuring a clear and organised approach to government engagement. Involve key stakeholders in the planning process, set measurable objectives, and create action plans with specific timelines.  

Roundtable Discussions: Facilitate collaborative discussions among stakeholders to identify common ground, address challenges, and foster partnerships. Invite diverse participants, encourage open dialogue, and establish a framework for ongoing cooperation beyond the roundtable.  

Networking Mixers: Build relationships with influencers, decision-makers, and fellow advocates to broaden your network and enhance collaborative opportunities. Organise casual and inviting networking events, providing an atmosphere conducive to relationship-building.  

Collaborative Projects: Work on joint initiatives with other organisations or stakeholders to amplify your impact and address shared goals. Identify partners with complementary strengths, clearly define roles and expectations, and ensure effective communication throughout the project.  

Community Forums: Create a platform for community members to voice concerns, provide input, and actively participate in local decision-making. Tailor forums to address specific community needs, actively involve residents, and consider diverse formats such as workshops, panels, or interactive sessions.  

Build Coalition Partnerships: Strengthen alliances with like-minded organisations to increase advocacy effectiveness and promote a unified front. Identify common goals, establish formal agreements or memoranda of understanding, and coordinate joint advocacy efforts. 

Press Interviews: Increase public awareness and understanding of your cause by leveraging media opportunities to share your organisation’s perspective. Develop compelling press releases, cultivate relationships with journalists, and proactively seek interviews to ensure accurate representation.  

Celebrate Policy Wins: Acknowledge and communicate successes to build momentum, inspire supporters, and demonstrate the positive impact of your advocacy. Utilise various communication channels (social media, newsletters, press releases) to share achievements, express gratitude to supporters, and emphasise the collective effort. 

Implement all of the above into your engagement strategy, and your organisation may be able to achieve more than just a partridge in a pear tree in the next government Budget. 

Until 2024, wishing you and your family, friends, and colleagues the very best for the festive season.  

About the author: Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy, and advocacy. Neil has been behind many leading social policy and advocacy campaigns on gender rights, equality, medical research, and education, and ran for Parliament in Victoria in 2014 and 2018. Neil is co-founder and director of Tanck, which focuses on better engagement with government, and regularly runs workshops and advocacy sessions and advises leading social purpose organisations on their government engagement strategy and systems.  

Happenings on the Hill is a fortnightly column focusing on all things politics, policy, campaigns, and advocacy. Focusing on both Federal and State & Territory politics, stay tuned for updates around political trends and elections, lobbying and advocacy news, and hints, tips and ideas on government engagement that are specifically written for the social purpose and for-purpose sector. 

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Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy, and advocacy. Neil has been behind many leading social policy and advocacy campaigns on gender rights, equality, medical research, and education, and ran for Parliament in Victoria in 2014 and 2018. Neil is co-founder and director of Tanck, which focuses on better engagement with government, and regularly runs workshops and advocacy sessions and advises leading social purpose organisations on their government engagement strategy and systems.

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