Visiting an MP or Senator is probably the most effective way of communicating your concerns about poverty to him or her. Establishing a personal, respectful relationship with your MP carries more weight than signing a petition, sending a postcard or even writing a letter. Most MPs will welcome you and show you respect. They will appreciate that you, as their constituent, are asking them to take action on your behalf.
STEP 1 MAKING THE APPOINTMENT
Ask for an appointment well in advance.
The MP may not be free for at least 2-3 weeks or longer.
Give a brief outline of the reason for requesting the meeting.
“We would like to meet with the MP on the issue of Australia’s aid program”
Confirm with the office how long the meeting will be for (30 minutes is normal).
You will be asked to send your request by email to the advisor or appointment secretary. This can be brief – 4 lines or so – and should include your contact number.
Confirm who will be attending and which organisations (if any) you represent.
If possible have one person in your group who has visited an MP before. A delegation of 3 is ideal, but more can make the MP feel ambushed!
STEP 2 BEFORE THE VISIT
Know about your MP
Get to know them – read some biographical details on the MP at www.aph.gov.au
Read their first speech to see what issues they are passionate about
Know the issue
Be clear about the purpose of the meeting and the specific outcome you want Better to have a specific action in mind, rather than aiming only to raise awareness.
Be clear about what you might want the politician to do
This may include:
1. Talk to the Minister or Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.
2. Express support for your requests with parliamentary colleagues or in meetings.
3. Ask a question in Parliament, with or without notice, to obtain information about, or draw attention to the issue.
4. Speak in Parliament on the issue.
5. Speak at a public meeting, or a meeting of your group.
6. Make a public statement in support of the issue.
7. Put updates on the issues in their electorate newsletter.
8. Write or put their name to a media article
Don’t be afraid to ask what else the politician might be able to do for you!