Getting out to GetUp

Last night GetUp hosted a meetup in Sydney.

I went along. There were less people than I would have thought could be attracted to a movement such as GetUp in Sydney.  Admittedly, we were half an hour late and yesterday was an unseasonably grim, rainy night.

What surprised me was the age demographic. The GetUp team were the youngest people in the room by decades. The where-are-the-youth theme informed my entire evening. We listened to David, Jeremy, Toby and Lachlan.

Coming in late, I’m not sure what we missed, so by the time we were broken into groups of eight to brainstorm ideas for making GetUp bigger, better and faster, my contribution came down to ways of engaging youth in the alternative political debate. I have grand desires, but few ideas.

Inspired I take it upon myself to do some qualitative research.  I seek out the 20 year old girlchild.  For the 2.3 minutes that I had her attention she tells me that,

"Placards and protesting and feminism and left-wingedness is just so 80’s…Young people don’t care mama." 

"Why don’t you care? What has to happen for you to care? What would radicalise you?" I ask.

Girlchild’s answer, "Can I use your car?" 

It’s about getting their attention.  Now how do we keep it?

GetUP HoWARd   
GetUp out of your ennui
Images scanned from last nights meetup handout 

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14 Responses to “Getting out to GetUp”

  1. joe2 Says:

    Young friends who are dealing with ‘casual wages’, only know ‘this’. Howard is relying on it. Sadly, unions gave up on inviting them into the fold and need to get their heads around it ,very soon.

  2. Suki Says:

    The girlchild works casually at Woolworths and has joined the Union. Perhaps it’s down to the charisma of individual delegates.

  3. David Collett Says:

    My thoughts are these:

    Activism and caring about politics only comes with knowlege. Knowledge comes from having a good hard look at yourself and the world. This happens over time, rarely to 20 somethings.

    Somewhere along the line, people shifted from seeing themselves as people, citizens and craftspeople and started seeing themselves as employees, consumers and resources. Perhaps the young see themselves as these only.

    Consumerism and Capitalism, and Achievement are all very seductive. They have glossy ads, movies and a society built around them. It’s only after living them for some time that realise the harm that these idealogoies cause. Perhaps the young haven’t had enough time to become jaded.

    Young people are setting up their lives. They participate in uni, are looking for a career, are trying to work out the opposite sex, hold down a part time job and socialising. Maybe there’s too little time in their lives for politics and activism at this point in their lives. It’s important, but there are higher priorities for them at this point in time.


    My thoughts are, over time, as the older generation retires, the younger generation will take its place as the leaders, politicians and business owners. And activists and thinkers and philosophers.

    I’m hoping, the foolishnes of the present is caused by the lack of wisdom, knowledge, support of the children of the past. That John Howard grew up in the 1950s(?) without access to the knowledge and wisdom that kids have today through the internet, advanced teaching methods and better psychologys may have given rise to the person he is and his brand of politics.

    Today is a different world, and I’m hoping the extra knowledge wisdom and support kids receive will help them become politicians like Bob Brown rather than John Howard.

    It’s a long term plan I know.

  4. Suki Says:

    Thank you David for your thoughtful comment.

  5. weezil Says:

    When I was 20, Reagan was just into his first term. The economy was booming. We weren’t really in any kind of a war, except for Ronbo’s sabre rattling with the Russkies. Peace was breaking out in Germany. I missed out on being drafted by some months. There wasn’t much reason to be politically active… and I generally wasn’t, except for being a dedicated anti-racist.

    Fast forward to 2001. The general reaction of the US & Australian governments to terrorism has been to become more authoritarian and paternalistic. Authoritarians come from the conservative, monied, big-end of town- the employers, not the rank and file employees.

    Most Aussies can’t be bothered with anything that doesn’t interfere with them keeping a nice house and a full fridge. WorkChoices is going to hit us Aussies right in the breadbasket. Once the Libs are kicked out, they’ll be out for a good long time- but the current Opposition (assuming we can find one) is going to have quite a lot of work to repair all the damage.

    It is the current crop of 20 year olds who are going to feel it, when a new financial underclass of permanent apartment-dwellers and renters is established. 20 year olds are still in discovery mode. They are naturally introspective.

    If GetUp can just find the right ‘me’ chord, they could bring more young voters to oppose the demolition of workplace protections which will create the new underclass- them.

  6. David Collett Says:

    Very insightful weeze. I suspect you’re right. I also suspect things like micro commerce, internet will change the political and commercial landscape into an undiscovered world.

    I’m hoping that this will allow the good in people to shine through.

    If GetUp can just find the right ‘me’ chord, they could bring more young voters to oppose the demolition of workplace protections which will create the new underclass- them.

    Any thoughts on the notes which make up this chord?

  7. joe2 Says:

    Sorry to go back to basics after such fine thoughts. Suki i am interested in girlchilds choice to join the union. Does she pay lower fees for membership while working ‘casually’, at Woolys? Sure a charismatic delegate but full fees for casuals may prove a big disincentive when money is tight. Love to see unions get out there and attract young workers when they first hit employment. Even if it is a loss leader.
    Getup is now in my favourites and will watch with interest.

  8. Suki Says:

    The girlchild signed up as part of her first day on checkout (after the training program). She gets regular, rostered shifts and tells me she’s classed as a part-time employee. At 20 she pays about $14 a fortnight in dues.

  9. joe2 Says:

    Nice to hear something positive today,Suki. Sounds like a fair kick-in and happy to hear it.

  10. Dave Says:

    I think GetUp is definitely on the right track. I personally think that alot of people my age (23) and a little younger are turned off by the now 100 year old “let’s wave a banner and shout alot in the streets” method. Whilst I do this myself quite a bit, it just doesn’t appeal to the majority of people my age – they don’t like being told what’s wrong with their lifestyles and being blamed for things.

    A new angle needs to be taken – and it’s marketing. We need to market progressive politics in the same way as capitalism and consumerism market themselves – as David Collet said above: “They have glossy ads, movies and a society built around them.” We need to have the same – and GetUp is starting down that path. I’ve also been encouraged by what’s been going on in The Greens lately – the national office in particular is planning big things in this realm and the plan at the moment is one that is mapped out right up to 2012. The wheels are turning in this regard – we just need more progressive people/organisations to help fund/enact this strategy – and once we’re working together and have a cohesive glossy message to send to people, they may start listening and seeing the importance of our message and way of thinking.

    I personally think we also need to start targeting certain areas – and someone mentioned this above – the most important being knowledge/education. I spent 8 weeks teaching history and geography in the western suburbs of Sydney this year – I taught years 7, 9, 10 and 11 and the anger is there. You wouldn’t believe how many times I heard these kids say “I hate John Howard – he’s racist, he’s unfair etc. etc.”… What needs to be done is we need to help (as teachers, as mentors, as whoever) nurture this (mostly vague and somewhat uninformed) anger into educated passion. This, I believe can be done by enacting these new tactics. It’s going to be a hard slog, but for all our sakes, it needs to be done.

  11. Suki Says:

    Have your seen the ad over at Rob Corr’s Redrag?
    I really think this is the sort of approach that will engage youth (and give the rest of us a laugh).

  12. Dave Says:

    Just had a look at that Suki. Yep, I agree that’s the sort of thing we need to do – simple format: introducing with a precise, short outright reference to John Howard and his laws and then the main “situation” bit and then linking it back at the end again to Howard. Short, sharp, to the point, funny and well directed.

  13. suzoz Says:

    I’m curious as to how you got invited to the getup event. I’m signed up to them and I didn’t know about it.

  14. Suki Says:

    Sorry Suzoz, only just saw your comment.
    An invite came through my email address with an rsvp attached.
    I made a donation to them early on…perhaps that got me the invite.
    Shame, I would have enjoyed meeting you there.
    Next time I will let you know of the event.

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