The makings of a vision
Many people ask us about how the vision was created and constructed. Prior to 2017, members of what was then called the A24 network did significant work to develop and articulate a positive vision for Australia. However, we wanted to go beyond just consulting the"usual suspects" of policy experts and NGO leaders. So embarked on an actual journey, an intentional engagement process, to talk to people around the country. Here are nuts and bolts of how we did it.
Hungry for a different story
Why have a vision? We are so practiced at talking about what we don’t want. We are so practiced at studying the problems. So when the leaders of the original A24 network got together, one of the first things we realised was how hungry we were for a different story: for a shared vision and much bigger conversation about what it is we do want.
Develop a clear, workable and compelling alternative vision for Australia; and
Harness the power of a committed group of individuals, communities and organisations keen to create it.
In 2017 we went on a national listening expedition, connecting with hundreds of people representing communities around Australia. We spoke to people from diverse backgrounds: First Nations, migrants, workers, faith groups, LGBTQI+ communities and more. We wanted to hear from everyday people and community leaders alike as we asked them to dream out loud about the Australia they truly want, and to think about how such a transformation might happen.
“Imagine you have woken up, five years from now, in the Australia of your dreams. What is it like?”
As we asked people to imagine they had woken up in the Australia of their dreams, they often became emotional. We heard over and over again how rare, refreshing and powerful it was just to be asked that question and taken seriously – with no judgement, no politician to elect, no cause to champion; no agenda other than to listen deeply.
These great many dreams and ideas have now come to life in a vision for Australia, Australia reMADE.
The Australia reMADE engagement team set out to facilitate rich conversations with people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
The engagement team spoke with over 200 people in 25 in-depth, one-to one-interviews and 15 discussion groups.
Participants included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people in low socio-economic groups and in precarious work, people from different cultural groups including from the Islamic and Vietnamese communities, young adults, single mothers, farmers and others living in rural communities; faith leaders, LGBTQI+ people, disability and climate activists, feminists and people working in the arts. Some were prominent community leaders, many were not. Many would likely call themselves simply, “everyday Australians”.
We spoke with people living in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Launceston and Perth; in La Trobe Valley Victoria and Gloucester and Crookwell in NSW.
We found participants mostly via word of mouth but sometimes through public advertisements and notices, or by gathering people who self-selected at various conferences. The total collection of people we spoke to were not statistically representative of all Australians; that was never the intention. Our goal was to facilitate meaningful conversations about the future we want using established qualitative research methodologies; and listen deeply to people from a diversity of backgrounds and walks of life. We listened to as many people as we could within the budget we had. (There are about 24 million others we hope to engage with some day!)
Analysing the conversations
We listened and re-listened to the collected audio. We read and re-read the transcripts and summaries. Vast spreadsheets were created to help identify common themes and language; as well as differences and new ideas to build on. All up, we sought to understand the beautiful dreams, difficult realities, hopes and fears of everyone who spoke with us.
Drawing on the analysis, we began to write. Staying as close as possible to the precise words that people used in describing their struggles and hopes, we brought in new ideas and simpler, more evocative language. Slowly Australia reMADE’s Vision took shape.
As it turns out, the people we spoke with want remarkably similar things. Their visions for waking in a better world told the same story again and again. The essence of what we heard has been distilled into nine core pillars for transformation, which you can read and endorse here.
We’ll also be sharing more of the stories of the people we spoke with in subsequent blogs, some of which are incredibly moving. Stay tuned!
Throughout the writing process it was clear that this document was never going to have one author. Co-founder of Australia reMADE, Ann Porcino, worked together with National Coordinator Millie Rooney as well as writer Lily Spencer to weave together the voices of many into a single narrative on a page. But the vision and spark behind Australia reMADE is a collective and collaborative effort at its heart.
Australia reMADE was also developed in close collaboration with the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Rod Little and Jackie Huggins played a critical role, not only in patiently working on the development of Pillar One: A First People’s Heart, but on the whole of the vision as well. We wish to particularly thank and acknowledge the many contributions of First Peoples, whose expertise and consultation were essential to the creation of Australia reMADE.
Finally, the creation of Australia reMADE was facilitated by six members of what was then called the A24 network: Ann Porcino, Millie Rooney, Elenie Poulos, Sandy Killick and Archie Law. Ann Porcino was the overall Project Coordinator, closely assisted in all aspects of the project by Millie Rooney, who was the Project’s Research Coordinator.
Where to next?
If the first phase of this project was about identifying a new story and shared vision of what we are for – a vision that many are already using to guide and shape their work – then next phase calls on us to make this vision a reality.
We know where we want to end up. Now we must become the map-makers, plot out the journey and flag the landmarks along the way.
This is our next expedition, and you are invited to join in.
Sign up to stay in touch here if you haven’t already. Join the conversation on social media. Follow this blog. Talk to us about your big ideas and bold dreams for the Australia we want.
This is only the beginning.