Look up your local MP in the form below for a detailed guide
to writing to them with targeted talking points
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This guide is designed to help you through the steps to making a meeting with your NSW State MP, and talking to them about the current proposals for converstion therapy legislation in.
The overall purpose of this meeting is to build a positive connection with your local State MP, and to make them aware of the issues around the legislation and that a large number of members of their electorate are concerned about them.
You do not have to have all the facts or answers. Many faith leaders and advocates are meeting with MPs to discuss the issues in detail and answer their questions.
The purpose of your meeting is to show your MP that people in their electorate know about the issue, are concerned, and are likely to have their vote affected by it.
This meeting is also an opportunity to continue to build a productive and loving relationship with your MP.
This issue is particularly urgent, since the “Equality Bill” will be debated on Febrary 8th.
In our suggested email below, we suggest that you ask for a meeting as soon as possible.
It might be difficult to get a meeting with your MP before that time, but the fact that you have asked for one is a powerful indicator of your concern.
Next, decide what kind of people you think should be at the meeting. This depends on what approach you are planning to take. Possble types of meetings could be:
If your MP is a minister, they are likely to be much more busy and harder to get a meeting with. The opportunity to meet with a number of faith leaders simultaneously would be an attractive offer for them.
A non-minister (called a “back-bencher”) would have more time and desire to build direct relatinships with individual faith leaders and communities.
Local faith leaders and church ministers represent their communities. They can speak about the size of their community and how important this issue is to their community. An MP should take a meeting with a faith leader or group of leaders seriously. However, there can be skepticism as to whether a leader truly represents their community’s views on this issue, so a meeting with representatives of the membership of a church or community can be just as effective.
Attendees would need to be able to attend a meeting during daytime hours. This might limit your options to at-home parents, part time workers, or those who work locally or from home. Mothers are great spokespeople for their families, and primary carers speaking passionately about their concerns for their children is powerful.
Discuss the possibility of the meeting with your potential attendees. You may wish to share resources like the flyer and talking points to brief those you’d like to invite to the meeting.
You can call the MP’s office, or email them on the contact details above.
If you have not met with your MP previously or do not have an existing relationship with them, then you may wish to send a more formal email asking for a meeting. You can find a sample letter below. If possible, we suggest you re-work this letter in your own words. However, there is nothing wrong with using the template as-is.
Follow up the email three days later with a phone call if you have not received a response from your MP.
Dear MP not found,
or Dear MP not found,
I am writing to seek a meeting with you to discuss Alex Greenwich’s “Equality Bill”, which is up for debate on Febrary 8th, and to share with you some of the concerns of the community in your electorate.
[A sentence or two to introduce yourself and the community you represent (church, mosque, school, organisation etc).]
As you are probably aware, Alex Greenwich MP has put forward his “Equality Bill” and the Government have voted to debate it on February 8th.
This bill would, among other things:
I’d like to request a meeting with you in person as an opportunity for you to meet and hear firsthand from [members of the community]/[leaders in local churches/mosques etc and members of their communities].
Since this bill is coming up for debate quickly, I would be grateful if you were able to meet with (me/us) before February 8th, so that you have time to consider our concerns before the debate and potential vote.
This summary document is designed for all MPs, as a summary of our concerns and requests. Print it out and give it to your MP at your meeting.
You can also use the document as the basis of your conversation, by talking through the main points.
Have a discussion with everyone going to the meeting so that you are on the same page. Make sure you all agree on what the issues are, points need to be made, and what you are asking for.
When your meeting has a number of people attending, it is easy for one person to do all the talking, or for things to be missed because one person thinks another is going to do it. It can help to identify what things need to happen in the meeting and allocate one person to ensuring they happen.
Suggested roles to allocate include:
Start by introducing yourselves and thanking your MP for taking the time to meet with you. Make sure they know who everyone is and understand who you represent. Explain what organisations you are from, where they are, and how many people are members. Also tell them what schools you are connected to, where they are, and approximately how many students attend.
Do not be afraid
MPs are just people, and you can talk to them like everyone else. It is very unlikely that they will be hostile, or even unpleasant to you. If they didn’t want to hear from you they would not have arranged the meeting in the first place. Politicians are also in the business of making friends in their electorate, so they are most likely to be friendly, even if they disagree with you in the end.
Remember to speak clearly, politely, and audibly and maintain good eye contact.
Keep on topic
Keep to the talking points and the issue that is the purpose of the meeting. MPs have limited time, and we can respect them by keeping to the point. Introducing other issues can confuse the conversation and leave the MP unclear as to what we are talking about.
Keep to time
It is likely that you will only have a short amount of time to discuss your issue, so it is important to be clear and concise. You could ask how much time they have to talk. As a rule, 30 minutes is a common appointment length, but they ,may be willing to talk for longer.
Make sure you finish on time. If possible, aim to finish with a couple of minutes spare, so that the MP is not pressured to move to their next meeting.
Start by asking the MP what they know of the legislation, and what they think of it. This sets a positive and collaborative tone. It also help you tailor what you are saying to where they are at.
Your MP might be completely new to this issue. There is so much legislation happening at any one time that most MPs only think about it a week before the vote. Ask if they have any questions and help them understand the issue as much as you can. Don’t be afraid of saying you do not know the answer to the question. You are not there to be an expert, but a concerned member of their electorate.
When you raise your concerns, take time to listen to the response. The MP may have been given a series of ‘talking points’ on the issue that may or may not answer your particular concern. If not, gently say that it was not quite what you were asking and re-word.
Ask for a commitment
Don’t be afraid to ask for a commitment, and don’t try to be indirect. Politicians are used to being asked what they think and what they are going to do, and they will appreciate clear concise requests.
Commit to reporting back
This is a very important step, that is sometimes skipped by faith communities.
If the MP is meeting with you as a representative of a larger community of faith, it is important that you make the communication channel 2-way, and commit to telling your community what the outcomes of the meeting were. This way the MP will know that they have an opportunity to speak (through you) with a large part of their electorate.
Some people might feel uncomfortable using their faith community as a ‘platform’ to talk about a politician, because it might be considered acting in a partisan way.
However, the purpose of the sharing is not about promoting a politician, but documenting the commitment that they made so that they can be held to it, and thanking them for their support. Publicly thanking people is a great way of encouraging them, and politicians are no different.
If your MP does not believe that what they say will be conveyed to your wider community, they have less incentive to take the conversation seriously.
Optional: take a photo
One option of communicating to your community is to take a photo with the MP. This photo can be shared on social media or in a newsletter with some text thanking the MP for the meeting and their support for freedom of religion (if they gave any).
The MP may also want to take a photo and post it on their social media, thanking you for the meeting. If they post positive comments about the meeting, then it reinforces in their mind your place in the community and the importance of your concerns.
Outline some of your concerns about the legislaton. You do not need to cover everything that is wrong with it, instead focus on the issues that concern you personally the most.
Some options are:
Children consenting to medical treatment
This undermines the relationship of parents and children, and allows children to make life-changing decisions without their parent’s guidance and support.
Note how large and complex this bill is. You might want to point out that it is 50 pages long, or that it makes over 80 changes to 20 different laws.
You could also say that the different issues in the bill are tangled up together, and there is no good way of passing parts of it without unintended consequences.
Ask the MP to reject the bill completely, and not try to cut it up or pass bits of it.
If the Government wants to address any of these issues, they should write their own legislation and consider each issue separately.
An email is a good way of following up, but the way that correspondence is handled by MPs offices means that a more formal letter will generally be treated more seriously. We suggest:
When writing the letter
If you have committed to communicating back to your commuity about the outcomes of the meeting, it is important to do so. If the MP has made some commitments, it is important to thank them for those commitments, and allow your community to know of them. It can also help to let the MP know that you have communicated back. For instance, if you use a newsletter to give an update on the conversation, you could send a copy to the MP’s office. If you took a photo, post it on social media and tag the MP so they can see it too.