Frequently Asked Questions
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 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.
Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other religious groups, unions, charities, migrant groups, 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, members, and neighbours.
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.
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.
The Alliance works on an Agenda for the Common Good. This agenda was last updated in 2017-2019 and includes Work (work-life balance), Power (affordable and renewable energy), Homes (affordable housing) and Heart (a city of welcome for people seeking refuge and asylum). The Agenda is due to be updated through a listening campaign slated for 2020.
Listening campaigns were run inside partner organisations in 2013. 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. Since then thousands of people have participated in listening events across the city as part of the campaigns of the Agenda for the Common Good.
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. Citizens UK has successfully taken action for living wages in London, improving London’s minimum wage from $8 to $14 an hour. The Sound Alliance in Seattle USA 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 coalition 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.
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.
- 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 Foundations 2 Day Training is an induction to the processes and community organising techniques used by the Sydney Alliance. It canvasses 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 National 6 Day 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.
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 eight organisational leaders (including two representatives from each of a religious organisation, union and community organisation). It has a Sydney Alliance Council consisting of the leader from each of its funding partners who gather and meet periodically to set the strategic direction of the organisation. Various other structures – including research action and campaign teams plan and undertake the work of the Alliance, supported by part-time and full-time staff.
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 Foundations training. 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 David Barrow, Lead Organiser on 0416028001 or [email protected]