Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The purpose of March Australia - the AIM Network

The purpose of March Australia - the AIM Network

The purpose of March Australia: demanding change for the better

Why do we march against the
Abbott Government? Admittedly marching will not change the government or
the government’s ideology, but it will help to raise awareness of
important issues and get people thinking, writes Gosford organiser Kym.

I first came across the March in March at the end of last year, but
took my time in deciding whether or not I wanted to be involved in an
organisational role. One thing lead to another, and . . .

I had never been to a rally in my life, let alone help organise one! I
guess that up until then I had never been around the right people or
groups to think about becoming more involved; not just about the march
itself, but also with the issues we were marching for or against. I had
seen the media bias and I had seen the damage this bias had caused; both
at a personal level and towards our national psyche. I knew that we
could never rely on the media to support our cause. That, however, is a
different story.

I know we are a ‘lucky’ country lucky because we do not have war or
famine and are free to choose our beliefs. However I know from
experience, observation and plenty of research that this beautiful rich
country does have some great inequalities and injustices. I know enough
to not believe everything the media says and that things aren’t as
simple as black/white or lefties and Tories. I found March in March
appealing because it was not aligned with any political party, was
grassroots and calling for decency, transparency and accountability in

I put my hand up to help organise the Gosford march, on the NSW
Central Coast. After taking this step and setting up the Gosord Facebook
page (now Central Coast), I felt a bit overwhelmed and thought to
myself “what have I just done”? I did a call out on the page for
volunteers and had a great response. I set up a Facebook group we could
liaise in and this grew into countless nights organising the march and
and promoting it via the social media.

The Gosford March in March was very successful, with an estimated
1200 people marching, which is amazing for Gosford and probably the
largest rally Gosford has ever had. Nationwide we were 100,000 strong.
Even though 50,000 marched in Melbourne and we were seemingly hard to
ignore, the mainstream media still managed to ignore us.

I also went to March in May in Sydney and was part of the organising
team for March in August on the Central Coast. I have to say all three
Marches were a positive and inspiring experience. They were
well-organised, peaceful, and had great, well-informed speakers. There
were a wide range of people represented: young, old, students,
professionals, disabled, and people from a range of political back
grounds, including a few disgruntled LNP voters.

If you have never been to a rally or don’t know anything about
rallies, then it is easy to misunderstand the purpose of the March
Australia Marches and dismiss the people marching as just lefties having
a whinge or people who want handouts. That way it can be brushed under
the carpet instead of acknowledging that most people who marched are
hardworking, educated people who have paid taxes their whole life. Many
are either personally affected or know someone who is affected by the
government’s policies.

Many who aren’t affected are informed enough to know what the impacts
of theses policies are on the poor and our environment. It is a strange
thing when some of the people, who are most informed, genuinely
concerned, and trying to contribute to making change for the better, are
the ones labelled as lefties or whingers. I am actually not a member of
any political party. Personally, I think we need a third major party
and also to make some changes to ‘the system’. I don’t like to talk
endlessly about politics or push my beliefs on to people, although I
have no problem standing up for social justice, inequality, human rights
and the environment. For me it is not about political parties but about
humanity, truth and doing what is right.

It is quite easy to get caught up in propaganda without any real
knowledge or understanding of the issues, where we have deep-seated
political beliefs that aren’t based on any facts or of any use in
reality. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all take the time to do a
bit of research, use intelligent evaluation and actually have an adult
conversation about some of the issues and come together up with some
better solutions? It is time to move beyond the sudden deadly silence
when anything remotely political is mentioned. Why can’t we promote
understanding and education on issues, instead of judgement and fear? It
is mind-boggling to have an election based around ‘stop the boats’ and
‘axe the tax’.

Are Australian’s really so concerned about a small amount of asylum
seekers that wouldn’t even fill the stadium at Homebush? Especially
since most asylum seekers come by plane? Do we ever hear ‘stop the
planes’? What about ‘stop the ignorance’ and ‘stop the fear mongering’?
Using words like ‘leaners’ and ‘illegals’ does nothing to help people
understand the situation. Why not tell people that ‘it is not illegal to
seek asylum, whether by boat, plane or any other means necessary’, and
that most boat people have proved to be genuine refugees? It even says
so on the parliamentary website. Why pander to people’s fear and
ignorance? This type of ignorance is being fueled by political ideology
and the media. If people were a little more educated then they most
probably would have a different view. More understanding does not
necessarily mean open borders either. It means we can work together on
creating a more humane policy.

Australia has a fairly well-targeted welfare system. It was created
as a safety net for those who need it most. Yes there is plenty of room
for improvement, but labeling people as ‘leaners’ or wanting handouts
does not help at all. This type of attitude and labeling creates
unnecessary stigma and actually demoralises people. Most people on
welfare payments do not want to be on welfare. Newstart is way below the
minimum wage and very difficult to live on. Most want a job and do not
want to be in the position they are in. It is unfair to lump everyone
together, just because a few take advantage of the system. There will
always be people who take advantage of the system, who lie, who steal.
There are unfortunately some people like these everywhere, and in every
industry. This type of stigma is not fair on pensioners, the single
parents, low income families, those who were made redundant, who have
not enough jobs in their area, who are disabled, ill . . . the list goes
on and on.

What ever happened to the view that those doing it tough were seen as
‘Aussie battlers’? Everyone wants to add their judgements and
criticisms. Before passing judgement about certain groups of people, ask
yourself: have I ever experienced, met, worked with or found out more
information about asylum seekers, homeless people, unemployed or people
with a disability? If the answer is no, then why do you have such strong
opinions on something you have no experience with and know nothing
about? I understand that some people aren’t into politics, especially
since watching parliament can be like watching a high school rabble. It
is quite easy to see that type of nonsense and decide not give a crap,
because whatever I or say do is not going to make much difference any
way. I am too busy; I have my own life to live. I have a roof over my
head, I have friends, I have beer, and it doesn’t affect me. Why should I
care? Why should I go marching around like an idiot for something that
doesn’t affect me? Why don’t people just contribute to democracy with
their vote at the next election? These are some of the attitudes and
comments I have come across. Is it really so silly to take the time to
do some research and have some discussion about what is happening in our
country and our communities? Are we just supposed to stick our head in
the sand like an ostrich and be oblivious to everything until next
election rolls around? Does it not matter that the funds have been
ripped out of vital community services? My electorate has high youth
unemployment rate and the local youth refuge has lost its funding. Maybe
these youths should go and get a job. Who cares if there are more
unemployed than jobs available, they should all just get a job. Does it
not matter that there are homeless families sleeping in cars because
there is a lack of services to support the homeless? Maybe these
homeless should just chose not to be homeless. Does it not matter that
abuse, domestic violence, redundancy and mental health issues are some
of the reasons for homelessness? Does it not matter that my electorate
has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Australia, yet
funding to one of our local domestic violence support services has been
cut? Legal aid has also been cut, so it is harder for women who are
victims of domestic violence to ‘leave’. These are just a few of the
many Central Coast, NSW issues. I’m sure each electorate has their own

Marching will not change the government or the government’s ideology,
but it will help to raise awareness of important issues and get people
thinking, talking and contributing new ideas. We can’t all help everyone
all the time or change the world on our own. Every person’s input makes
a difference and when working together we can make change. We can all
make the effort to question things and become a little more informed.
This is the whole point of marching; to raise awareness and in unity
work together for the common good: Australians. The more people that
become aware, the more likely change will happen.

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