Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Sydney Alliance?
The Sydney Alliance is a citizens’ coalition whose vision is to provide the community with a voice to express common values and aspirations for a fair and just Sydney.
Sydney Alliance is a way people for people to have their say in what they want for Sydney now and in the long term and to act together with others that feel the same way.
Sydney Alliance brings together people from diverse community organisations, unions, universities and religious organisations who want a better city.
The Alliance is the largest and most diverse network of citizens in Sydney. The Alliance is an independent organisation that does not take government funding and is a non-party political organisation.
The Alliance believes that a strong and connected community enables the people of Sydney to shape their own future, to grow and develop as leaders, to be full democratic citizens and to speak and act with others on their own behalf. We build grassroots power that respects the contribution and dignity of all people.
Who is the Sydney Alliance?
Churches, temples, synagogues and other religious groups, unions, charities, NGOS and not-for-profits, schools and other educational organisations have come together under the Alliance banner. See our partners here.
Leaders from these organisations are ‘ordinary people’ living in Sydney – parishioners, workers, stakeholders and clients.
Why was the Sydney Alliance founded?
Over the last few decades people felt ignored by those in power and wanted a new approach to having a say in their lives.
Sydney Alliance was founded to hold decision makers in government and the market accountable, advance the common good, give meaning to our democracy by helping citizens take democratic action beyond the vote, and to provide a forum for the grassroots members of community organisations, unions and faith groups to join together and influence decision makers.
How does the Sydney Alliance do its work?
First we build relationships, then we train, then we have conversations to work out what issues concern people. Then we act.
We intentionally bring diverse and sometimes fractious parts of Sydney together.
We have an organising cycle that we use to make this happen. It has four stages – relating and listening, research and planning, action and evaluation.
We connect people and groups so they can help another on issues that improve the common good.
We have an iron rule – don’t do for others what they can do for themselves.
What are the issues that the Sydney Alliance is currently working on?
How were these issues decided?
Listening campaigns were run inside partner organisations in 2010-2011. Over 6000 people took part as members were asked questions such as “if you were able to change one thing for you or your family – what would it be?’ and asked to indicate what they were willing to work on.
On Sunday 15 May 2011, the Sydney Alliance held its Discernment Assembly: a large gathering of people from all Sydney Alliance member organisations to decide on the issues that would form our shared agenda for the common good.
Where did the Sydney Alliance come from?
The Sydney Alliance is founded in the traditions of community organising that have their origins in the United States in the 1930s, and have recently been popularised by Barak Obama. The Industrial Areas Foundation which grew out of Chicago now has over 60 partner organisations in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
These kinds of coalitions have a track record of success overseas. London Citizens has successfully taken action for living wages, improving London’s minimum wage from $8 to $14 an hour. The Sound Alliance in Seattle has organised a $14 million pilot project to create green jobs that retrofit houses to reduce carbon emissions.
The Sydney Alliance is the first example of this kind of organising in Australia.
The Alliance is equally based on the kinds of coalition building practices that have underpinned our own democracy, including the famous Green Bans coalitions between the Builders Labourers Federation and residential groups that saved our urban environment. The Palm Sunday peace movements of the 1980s that attracted over 200 000 people at their peak were organised by strong, broad-based coalitions across religious organisations, union and community organisations.
How does Sydney Alliance work within the political framework?
The Sydney Alliance listens to people, links organisations and trains new leaders working for the common good. The Sydney Alliance is an invigorated force in politics seeking long term, positive and diverse solutions. We are the organised voice of the community and we bring that organised voice to the political process.
We are not a political party. We seek to make our politicians serve the community by holding them to account.
The Alliance is no quick fix in politics – because it has taken and will continue to take a long time to rebuild community strength.
Our sister organisation London Citizens has strong accountable relationships with all sides of politics – including leaders such as David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
How does Sydney Alliance rebuild Sydney’s civil society?
- Relationship building: the work of the Sydney Alliance begins with one-to-one relational meetings. Thousands of these have already been held across Sydney. The aim is to intentionally work on building understanding, respect and sense of reciprocity between our organisations and our active participants. Too often in the busy work of organisational life we lose our sense of vision, mission and purpose. A goal of the Alliance is to rekindle these values as a foundation for joint action.
- Leadership development: the Sydney Alliance provides several opportunities for participation and training.The Two Day Alliance Building Institute( is an induction to the processes and community organising techniques used by the Sydney Alliance. It canvases the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the Sydney Alliance by bringing together approximately 40 people from different member organisations and new organisations interested in finding our more about the Alliance.The Six Day Leadership Alliance Action: Advanced Training is a program for people committed to understanding the craft of community organising who want to play a key role in leading the activities of the Alliance inside their organisation and acting as a bridge between our member organisations.
- Action: the Sydney Alliance builds relationships between organisations and individuals by asking them to take action. Action may involve coming to coalition meetings, running listening campaigns or being part of the strategising and implementation of an agenda for the common good in Sydney. The Alliance has many action teams made up of members from participating organisations.
How will the Sydney Alliance strengthen my organisation?
The long term goal of the Sydney Alliance is to enhance the capacity of civil society organisations across Sydney.
Only with strong organisations will be able to improve our ability to advocate for the values and concerns shared by the members of our congregations, unions, temples, synagogues, mosques and community organisations.
The Sydney Alliance leadership development programs can play a critical role in strengthening our organisations by nurturing leadership and relationships inside our organisations as well as creating connections across civil society organisations. The Alliance is focused on building relationships inside and between our organisations in order to reconstruct community relationships from the ground up.
The two key benefits that the Sydney Alliance offers are:
- Recruitment and volunteer activation.
Most of our civil society organisations are in decline. Membership growth, as well as engaging participation from young people and across and between different multicultural communities, are challenges faced by unions, community organisations and religious organisations alike.
The Sydney Alliance provides a forum where organisational members can be involved and inspired to commit to the values and vision of your organisation and become more active leaders that inturn inspire others to join and become involved. The skills offered can be used to engage your members around broader community issues and are transferable to engaging and activating members and potential members in the activities of your organisation.
- A network of organisational relationships across Sydney
Sydney is a multicultural and multi-faith hub. The Sydney Alliance provides an avenue to network with the leading organisations in each of its key sectors by bringing together the leaders and members of these organisations on a regular basis. These relationships not only will help us work on common problems, but provide a space for stronger bi-lateral relationships.
How is it funded and governed?
The Sydney Alliance is an independent organisation funded by its member organisations. It receives no money from government and does not have a relationship with any political parties.
The Sydney Alliance is a non-profit organisation, registered as a company limited by guarantee. It has a board of directors, consisting of 5 organisational leaders (including at least one religious organisation, one union and one community organisation). It has a Leaders Council consisting of the leader of each of its funding partners which sets the strategic direction of the organisation. Various other structures – including the Organising Committee and action groups plan and undertake the work of the Alliance, supported by five staff.
Finding out more about the Sydney Alliance
The Sydney Alliance is already a strong network of diverse organisations but it must grow in order to truly reflect the diversity of Sydney. We hope to encourage new organisations to join in the Alliance, identify issues and work together on the agenda for the common good.
We invite organisations to find out more about the Sydney Alliance in the following ways:
- Attend the 2 Day leadership institutes. These are held in blocs a number of times during the year.
- Come to an action: the Sydney Alliance organises regular actions and events for interested people to attend. These include forums with international speakers, Assemblies and smaller meetings.
- For more information about the Alliance please contact Amanda Tattersall, Coalition Director, at the Sydney Alliance office on 8007 6055 or firstname.lastname@example.org