Advocating for justice – why do we do it?

If you see something that you think is unfair or unjust, how do you do something about it?

“Advocacy” can seem like a loaded word, but it simply refers to the many ways we as individual citizens can create change in our society when we see or hear of a situation that we believe is unjust.

Advocacy can look like showing up – to a protest or a rally or an event.

Advocacy can look like making noise – through a petition, through letter writing or through the media.

Advocacy can be for yourself, if something has impacted you, or it can be in solidarity with an affected community.

Samaritans has always believed in fighting against injustice and has been speaking up against injustice since our establishment in 1984.

Former Samaritans CEO, Cec Shevels, had a passion for advocating for a more just and fair society, and often spoke up to government about what needed to be done to support local people facing disadvantage.

More recently, Samaritans made a commitment to lead impact on social policy through our latest strategic plan. Plans like these are living documents; they are a commitment to action.

It’s important to me, as the current CEO of Samaritans, to carry on the legacy of the Samaritans leaders before me; to speak up, to act and to advocate for what is right.

Samaritans advocacy is informed and driven by the work we do, the people we support, and the experiences of our employees on the ground.

What would the world that Samaritans is advocating for look like?

It would look like justice for First Nations peoples. Two years ago, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reached out to the people of Australia with the Uluru Statement from the Heart, providing Australia with a clear way forward to deliver reconciliation. Justice would look like a commitment from the Morrison Government to bring the Uluru Statement to life.

It would look like a safe and stable home for everyone. A home is a foundation to build a meaningful and fulfilling life. Too often there are people finding themselves fleeing domestic violence, or exiting institutions or prison, and they have nowhere to go. Fairness would look like an increase in social and affordable housing through a State and Federal commitment to the Everybody’s Home campaign.

It would look like an accessible and inclusive society, where people with disabilities no longer feel disabled by the world around them. This means services are made readily available through the National Disability Insurance Scheme and advocates are funded when a voice is needed to stand up against a situation if it’s not right. Equity would look like the NSW Government committing to ongoing funding for disability advocates, as called for in the disability-led #StandByMe campaign.

It would look like support for children to reach their full potential. All children deserve to participate in early learning, such as day care and preschool, to have the best chance to thrive as they grow. The benefits of early learning are well-documented, yet unfortunately for disadvantaged families their access to subsidised early learning is very limited as compared to other Australians. Our Federal Government must support the Early Learning, Everyone Benefits campaign and their mission to get fair access to early education for all Australian children.

It would look like a society based on equity, where no person is left to live in poverty. The causes of poverty are varied, but fundamentally it requires an adequate welfare payment to support people through tough time. The payments people earn while looking for work and studying, including Newstart and Youth Allowance, are not high enough for people to meet their basic costs of living. An equitable outcome requires our leaders to hear the calls of the #RaiseTheRate campaign and increase these payments immediately.

Australia is a country of wealth and opportunity; however, this opportunity isn’t available for everyone.

So long as there is inequity, and the systems in place to support people in need aren’t working well enough, Samaritans will continue to advocate for a more just, fair and equitable society for all.

What would you like to advocate for? What would your ideal world look like?