A petition is a formal document, usually signed by many people, requesting action be taken (or sometimes action not be taken) on a particular matter and submitted to relevant authorities, typically government or corporations. Up until 2003 petitions were only possible in paper form, but e-petitions have now taken the place of the traditional method of signatures on paper and causes from getup! and change.org are seen plastered all over social media. Government petitions require a particular format and sponsorship from an M.P for them to be presented to parliament, some states have laws (Tasmania for example) where the government is obliged to respond to a petition within a certain time of it being presented, other states (i.e. Queensland) are not legally required to respond. Less formal petitions such as Change and Getup! are not official but they are still a good medium to get a point across to the government and get communities involved and talking about an issue.
Are petitions effective?
A petition is an extremely effective way to gather support for and draw attention to a cause you care about. Petitions help to get word out about your issue while giving you the opportunity to talk to and inform people on the matter that concerns you. Not all petitions are successful, however petitions can and do work. Even if the government, corporation or authority they’re submitted to dismiss it. A good example of successful petitioning recently would be how e-petitions against the government’s decision to allow Adani to build a coal mine in Australia and dump their waste on the Great Barrier Reef gained so much support and signatures that the government could not help but listen and for the time being they’re not allowing it to happen.
How do I create my own petition?
If you want a formal petition to go to parliament, check your local government website for requirements and go from there. Alternatively there are now loads of e-petition sites such as Getup.org.au, which is not-for-profit activist group where you can submit your own petitions for free or change.org, a for profit enterprise where you can also start petitions for free but signatories are asked to donate to help the petition gain a wider reach. Regardless of the method used for creating your petition, you will need to promote it yourself for maximum success.
Who can create a petition?
All Australian Citizens have the right to petition our Government and it is the only way individuals can put a matter before parliament. Anyone can create an online petition, (there are plenty of free sites to choose from) or a paper petition to a Government organisation, corporation, neighbour, employer etc.. Although there are guidelines for government petitions for causes that you wish to be heard before parliament, so make sure to check what those guidelines are before creating and submitting your petition.