New Media Democracy
By Paul Millar
More than anything else, the last year has revealed a growing discontent with traditional forms of democracy. We saw it in the Occupy Movement flooding cities across the world, petitioning for a democracy free from the control of the super-rich. We saw it in the Arab Spring sweeping through the Middle East, people fighting to have their voices heard, sharing their struggle with the world through the platform of social media. Now more than ever, we have the power to have our voices heard. This is a revolution in democracy – and it starts with you.
OurSay.org and Deakin University are giving you the chance to join in the discussion and discover what this new medium for change means for the future of democracy. As part of DeakinWeek 2012, Deakin University is holding a panel on online democracy entitled “After the year of the protester: young people, social media and new forms of democracy” with its accompanying OurSay ‘New Media Democracy’.
Social media has given people all across the world a platform upon which to build a new forum for democracy. On the internet, we are equals; connected and united like we have never been before. But if this new medium really the next stage in the way we campaign for the issues we care about? Can it actually be used to bring about the change it promises? This panel will be focusing on the opportunities that this new arena presents for those who seek to change the way in which we govern ourselves in the 21st century, as well as putting the heads of two of the largest transformative organisations in Australia under the spotlight to answer your questions.
GetUp! Australia is one of these groups, an independent advocacy organisation focused on creating a more progressive Australia through direct action championed by the community. In the five years since its creation, GetUp! Australia has swelled to include over half a million members intent on participating directly in the democratic process through online and offline engagement.
GetUp! Australia recently changed National Directors following former director Simon Sheikh’s decision to step down due to demands on his health. His successor, Sam McLean, will be using the DeakinWeek panel to give his supporters and decriers alike the opportunity to ask him the hard questions about his plans for the future of GetUp! Australia.
Sam Mclean has served as the Deputy National Director for GetUp! Australia for two years and is currently overseeing a number of the organisation’s enterprises including campaigns on pokies reform, the future of Fairfax Media and the state of detention in Australia.
GetUp! Australia’s mission and purpose provide a powerful example of the effect that the platform of online and social media can have on democratic causes and activism. OurSay is proud to give people across Australia the chance to become a part of the conversation on the future of GetUp! Australia and the role that it will play in determining the place of online media in the future of democracy.
Sam will be joined by the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for Young Australians, Ms Jan Owen AM. Ms Owen is a highly regarded youth advocate, social entrepreneur and community leader whose work with disadvantaged young people in Australia has created a new standard for advocacy and activism everywhere. The FYA’s work is currently focused on improving the quality of education amongst the youth of Australia, particularly those students growing up in marginalised or neglected communities. Ms Owen shall be answering your questions about the direction her movement is taking in the wake of these new innovations in social activism.
The panel shall also include a number of experts in the field of digital communications and its growing relationship with social theory. These experts have been drawn from the Alfred Deakin Research Institute and are leading academics in this ever-growing field.
Bring your questions and ideas to these speakers by asking and voting for the questions that matter to you on OurSay’s website. The three questions that receive the most support from voters will be addressed to the speakers to shape the discussion and let the panel know what the people of Australia want their place to be in this new era for change and activism.
The panel shall take place on September 3rd at 6:00 PM, in the Village Roadshow Theatrette of the State Library Conference Centre.
DeakinWeek is an annual showcase of the ideas, research and innovative thinking that Deakin University brings to the community, as well as an excellent opportunity to take part in debate and discussion on the issues that matter most.
DeakinWeek events are being held in Geelong, Melbourne and Warrnambool between September 3rd and September 7th.
OurSay believes that true democracy can only come from an informed public who have the power to hold their leaders and decision-makers to account for their actions and policies. By joining this OurSay forum, you have the opportunity to become part of a new form of democracy, the democracy of the 21st century. A democracy where the people have direct access to the people they elected to lead them. A democracy of rational discussion and debate, where you ask the questions and get the answers that matter. This is a revolution in democracy – and it starts with you.
You can find out more about DeakinWeek at http://www.deakin.edu.au/deakinweek/
To post and vote for questions, visit http://oursay.org/new-media-democracy
This article was commissioned by OurSay.org
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