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Activism, the social power supporting Advocacy

Can the social power of activism change the working landscape to be more inclusive?

Conversations with Julie acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which we all live,

paying respect to elders, past, present and emerging. Julie honours the practice of shared stories, they are what connect us to the land, our ancestors, and each other.

Episode disclaimer: Remember this is a personal podcast. Any views or opinions represented in this podcast are personal and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations that the owner may or may not be associated with within a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, or individual.

These reflections are written by and are the opinions of Emma Schneider and Julie Gillespie.

What does an activist look like in an organisation?

Activists are incredibly important in the organisation. In fact change can only come about because of activism. An organisational activist is someone who says, “I need to make a change for people who are in my care. I need to look after my people better.” They are people who dedicate their time and resources to strive for better within an organisation.

How can we use Advocates and Activists to eliminate Mental Health stigma?

Julie believes that stigma is comprised of three pillars, which are: Knowledge, Attitude, and Behaviour. If we can create awareness and increase knowledge, then there is a path to changing our attitude and behaviour. Advocates work on the knowledge exchange and Activates can drive the attitudes and behaviours to change.


“An activist is a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.” - Oxford Dictionary

An activist is someone who uses knowledge, excellent communication skills, courage and a deep understanding of the topic to create a disruption to open the door for an advocate to come in and work with the violators to create the change. An activist uses their voice to communicate knowledge, research and discuss possible changes. They are willing to dedicate themselves to create the change that is needed.

What is an ADVOCATE?

“An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.” - Oxford Dictionary

An advocate uses their listening skills first and foremost to understand the situation, the stories and the community. Once an activist has created a disruption, an advocate can then step in with the intent of raising awareness and increasing knowledge.

How do we listen to someone who has been hurt so that we can support change?

To listen to someone who has been hurt, it's important to not take on the emotion and pain yourself. Doing Mental Health First Aid training can give you tools and guidance you need to really listen with support. You need to feel comfortable enough to make suggestions of professional support when needed.

As leaders, it’s important to have strong, well practised resilience. Resilience will help you to not take on the hurt and emotion, withstand adversity and to bounce back from difficult situations.

How to ask for the facts of the story?

Having the facts of a situation is how an organisation can change and grow. Below are some examples of how you can start these conversations.

“I want to be able to comprehend, can you give me the data point of what is happening and it would be great to organise them into chronological order.”

“This situation has got a lot of us caught up. I acknowledge that, what I really want to be able to do is to create appropriate change and comprehend what has been happening. To do that can you tell me about the facts of what is going on?”
“I want us both to be able to hold our feelings on this matter to the side for the moment. I want to be able to address them, and I’m hoping this process of finding out just the facts for now, will help us both do that.”

NB. Remember if you make someone upset or angry with what you have said it’s ok to apologise and ask to reset the conversation.

As leaders, it is our role to ensure that employees are comfortable in the workplace raising their concerns and speaking up when needed.

So how are you teaching your employees to interact and communicate with their leaders and leadership teams?

Key Takeaways


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