Women's votes decide elections in Australia. In electorates across the country, women outnumber men.
In the lead up to the 2016 federal election, WEL NSW trialed table talks - voter education sessions for women - in south western Sydney. We found an overwhelming appetite among women to understand how to get their concerns and messages across to politicians. There was a real buzz in the room when we pointed out that MPs are our voices in parliament and therefore should be open to building relationships with women voters.
WEL NSW is very excited to be hosting 'Think WEL before you vote' table talks from November 2018 to April 2019 in the 8 marginal federal electorates in NSW. And we will be working in additional electorates by partnering with Aboriginal and migrant services in each location, to connect with women in the communities that often record a lower voter turn out.
Will you help WEL to make sure that women's votes count? Your support is needed to bring the table talks to life up and down the NSW coast as well as We want to connect with women voters in electorates where women MPs have stepped down - the marginal electorates of Gilmore and Lindsay electorates - will help us. Will you chip in?
Each 3 hour sessions covers:
- changes to Senate voting, introduced in 2016,
- the 3 levels of government in Australia and their roles/responsibilities,
- difference between Senate and House of Representatives voting,
- how to find out about your candidates and what they stand for,
- how to build a relationship with your local MPs as they are 'your voice' in parliament,
- how to gather information before election day so you can think about your vote before you walk into the polling booth,
- how to apply for work at a polling booth, and
- we ask one question 'What can the federal government do to take pressure off you and the people that you care about?'
The table talks are free events for participants and include tea/coffee/light refreshments on arrival and light lunch or supper. We offer one day time gathering (10 am to 1 pm) and one evening gathering (6 pm to 9 pm) per electorate. We want to reach between 80 and 100 women in each location.
WEL trialled table talks in Campbelltown, Liverpool and Macquarie Fields before the 2016 federal election and received very positive feedback. Women participants told us they felt much more confident about voting, that voter education is more relevant to adults than school students and women said they thought they had been voting incorrectly which they could change. After one table talk, a group of women went to speak to their local federal MP, for the first time, about their concerns.
WEL members are working now to set up table talks in:
- Gilmore (Lib 0.7) NSW south coast from Kiama in the north to Tuross Head in the south.
- Page (Nat 2.3) North NSW coast Sapphire Beach in the south to Nimbin in the north.
- Reid (Lib 4.7) Reid covers an area from the Parramatta River in the north, Drummoyne and Rodd Poioral Lobby nt in the east, Silverwater, Auburn (part) and Lidcombe (part) in the west and Strathfield, Burwood and Croydon in the south.
- Lindsay (ALP 1.1) Lindsay covers an area from Agnes Banks and Londonderry in the north to Mulgoa and Badgerys Creek (part) in the south, Colyton in the east and Leonay in the west.
- Macquarie (ALP 2.2) Macquarie covers an area from the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers in the east, the City Councils of Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury border in the west.
- Eden Monaro (ALP 2.9) Eden-Monaro covers an area from Yass, Murrumbateman and Bungendore in the north and south to the Victorian border, excluding ACT.
- Richmond (ALP 4.0) Richmond covers an area from the New South Wales/Queensland border in the north to Ballina and Pimlico in the south.
- Dobell (ALP 4.8) Dobell covers an area from Ravensdale in the north to Erina Heights in the south (central coast)
If you live in one of the electorates and can connect us with a venue or are able to help us spread the word, please email the Table Talk team at [email protected].
You can also strengthen Australian democracy by making a donating to table talks dedicated to women voters. Remember, women decide elections.
Table talk dates and the opportunity to register will follow in the near future. Watch this space!