“I looked the Premier in the eye & made him listen” – the meetings that changed their lives

Everyday Australians have a direct line to the country’s most powerful people by using Change.org – like Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, who explains why she loves to respond to Change.org petitions below.

But can you imagine what it’s like to pick up the phone to the Deputy Prime Minister, or come face to face with your state Premier?

Meet the women whose petitions reached the highest echelons of power to impact thousands.

Gang rape survivor Katrina: “I looked the Premier in the eye & said, your policy hurts”

“Sitting in that room my heart was beating so fast. Just days ago I’d told my story of surviving a gang-rape then having critical support cut. Now, I was looking NSW Premier Mike Baird in the eye and directly telling him how much his policy is hurting people.

I was nervous at the start, but the support of so many people gave me courage. I was in that room because of Change.org – thousands of people had my back and I decided to stand my ground.

This is such a great platform because it isn’t just online – it gave me the opportunity to speak face to face with those in power. A petition starts by giving just one person a voice. But then it grows so much bigger than that. I even stood in front of the Premier again on live TV at an election debate. That made victims of crime compensation an election issue. Then I realised I was finally being heard.

I’ll never forget the day the Commissioner rang me to tell me all victims of crime compensation was being paid back. I was overjoyed. I was able to pay back debt from psychologist costs to deal with the trauma of my gang rape.
The impact was far wider than me though. 24,000 victims of crime who’ve been through horrific things were suddenly given a chance to do something with their lives.”

“Miss, can I leave class for a sec? The Deputy Prime Minister’s calling my mobile…”

The moment Chloe, 16, discovered she’d persuaded the Deputy PM to offer a $1 billion relief package to desperate dairy farmers like her dad:

Chloe, 16, met influential MPs including Nick Xenophon during her petition delivery  Chloe, 16, met influential MPs including Nick Xenophon during her petition delivery

“My mobile buzzed, number withheld. I was in class awaiting the phone call from what I assumed to be a representative of Barnaby Joyce.

But no. It was the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia himself, wanting to explore how to make my petition ask come true.

When I heard “Hello Chloe, it’s Barnaby Joyce here”, it just felt so surreal. I started my petition on my phone and never imagined it’d lead to him consulting me on dealing with the dairy crisis. I’m just an ordinary person. I’m just like everybody else.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce personally called Chloe  Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce personally called Chloe

On the call, he was shocked at how many signatures my petition had (over 160,000). He also left two official responses on my petition and went into more detail. I’m not politically focused, so I didn’t expect him to listen to someone like me. But he did.

One of my asks was for a milk pricing index. It was so amazing to see him agree to that directly below my petition.

Chloe delivering her petition.  Chloe delivering her petition.

It was after the call and all the media I did, that the people around me made me realise this was a big deal. He didn’t just call me – he agreed to my ask. Even now, my classmates think I’m famous! Word spread and teachers congratulated me in corridors, which felt weird. My school mentor told everyone how amazing it was that I’d influenced the Deputy PM.”

The Health Minister explains why she listens to petitions

We asked one of the platform’s most responsive cabinet members, Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, what it is about Change.org petitions that make them so persuasive:

“Personal stories, such as those which feature on Change.org give a ‘face’ to the struggles that many Australians and their families come up against when diagnosed with rare conditions and chronic diseases.”

Health is the most common theme for petitions on our platform, so a direct line to the most powerful person in the country for health matters is a big plus for our users. We asked the Minister why it was so important to her to listen to online petitions:

She said: “As a representative in the Australian Parliament, voted in by the people, it’s my duty to listen to those who contact me… through channels such as Change.org. I’m part of a Government that strives always to put patients at the centre of policy.”

To petition one of the country’s most powerful people on an issue that’s important to you, visit change.org/start

Who would you most like to see responding to petition asks? Make your voice heard by sharing below:

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October 11, 2016 7:27 am