When our communities are active and engaged, we can compel our governments to do the right thing.
A phone call directly to your MP or Senator’s office is powerful — it shows them that you care enough about the issue to take time out of your day and it gives them the chance to listen to their constituents (that’s you!) about what matters. Electorate offices log the number of calls they get for and against key issues, and so what you say can change how your MP or Senator votes in Parliament.
Anyone can make a call – you may be surprised how eager they are to hear from you. This guide will help you feel confident making the call, and help you prepare so that your call has the greatest impact possible.
This guide is designed for calling your MP (your local representative) – but these tips are just as useful for calling your Senators, Ministers, or any other politician.
Find your MP
If you don’t know your MP you can look them up on the Australian Electoral Commission website via postcode, electorate or suburb.
Then click on your electorate — you’ll be given the name of your local MP and a link with more information on how to contact them.
Before you call
There are a few things to consider before you call. Make a plan, and jot down notes about what you want to say. We know that people don’t act or change their minds based on facts; they react to feelings. So start with shared values — why is this important to you? And then talk about the problem and how we can fix it.
The person on the other end of the phone will not have a lot of time, somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes, so plan your call accordingly.
Work out what you want the MP to do: Will you ask them to pledge to vote a particular way on an issue? Do you want them to make a public statement that they support the issue?
Making your call
The person who answers the phone in an electorate office might be an office manager or they might be an electorate officer whose job it is to deal with constituent calls like yours. Either way, remember to be polite and respectful, especially as they might get hundreds of these calls a day.
- Introduce yourself: Tell the person who answers the phone your name and that you live in the electorate (you don’t need to say your address if you don’t want to). Be respectful and genuine. Be yourself — if you stumble a bit, it just makes it more obvious you’re a genuine local who really cares.
- Explain why you’re calling: It helps to be clear and concise, so use the notes you wrote down earlier. If you can, tell your story — what personal details can you add to make this call powerful and memorable?
- Outline the opportunity/solution: Explain what needs to happen to solve the problem — maybe the government needs to create a sanctuary or ban plastic bags or vote down approvals for another destructive mine. Be specific about how their action or vote as part of the government can make a difference.
- Ask for their support: Wrap up your conversation by clearly asking the MP to act. Be as direct as you can, such as asking, “Can I count on their vote to save the reef?” or “Will Mr Lastname commit to supporting a ban on single use plastics?”
After the call
Were you able to get any commitments from the politician or their office? Write down everything you can remember as soon as you can after you hang up.
Send a thank-you email that includes any commitments they made and reminding them about anything they said they would get back to you about.