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Valuing Volunteers

While the Greens have been winning more votes and seats in Brisbane lately, that doesn’t automatically translate to more funding or staffing for election campaigning (our elected MPs can’t use their office budgets and taxpayer-funded staff to campaign for other Greens candidates).

The party’s starting budget for Brisbane’s mayoral campaign (as of August 2023) is $0. That means Jonno and everybody working to help him get elected is donating their time as a volunteer.

The Greens mayoral campaign will be almost entirely volunteer-run. If we can raise money from supporter donations, we’ll prioritise paying the people who are putting a lot of time and effort into our campaign and are most in need of income. But we need a lot of people to help on this campaign if we are going to meaningfully connect with a million Brisbanites. And the reality is that even if we fundraise tens of thousands of dollars, we won’t even come close to being able to pay everyone who is volunteering with us.

This means that for specialist skillsets – whether it’s graphic designers or musicians or data analysts or videographers or admin assistants – we’ll mostly be relying on people donating their time. This feels weird for us, because so many of the skills/specialists we’ll need – particularly artists and content producers – are undervalued in society more generally. And we don’t want to be replicating exploitative practices from the business world like pretending that ‘exposure’ or free meals are legitimate or fair compensation for producing a video or designing a logo or performing at a fundraiser.

We also don’t want to replicate manipulative practices used by some campaigns and volunteer-dependent organisations, where they pressure people into giving more time and doing more unpaid work than they can sustainably manage. But we do also need to proactively ask people when we need help with stuff.

The blunt reality is that no-one is going to pay us fairly to tear down systems of oppression and transform society from the bottom up. In short: the revolution will not pay minimum wage.

This means we have to find other ways to value the work volunteers do. We want to ensure everyone involved feels a sense of ownership and control over the campaign, and that they are not so much volunteering specifically for Jonno as an individual candidate, but are volunteering to fight for a better future for themselves and their community.

So here’s our commitment to you as volunteers, and goals for ourselves as volunteers who organising other volunteers (we might not quite meet these aspirations 100% of the time, but at least laying them out publicly helps us hold each other mutually accountable):

  1. We will aim to give volunteers as much meaningful control over the work we’re asking you to do as possible. If you want more input into campaign strategy and tactics, just let us know and we’ll invite you to the relevant meetings or online discussion spaces.
  2. We will foster a culture of care and mutual respect, where reproductive work and care work (e.g. cooking for each other, childcare, emotional labour) are shared as evenly as possible, and volunteers feel supported to learn and do the things they are most passionate about.
  3. If you sign up to volunteer, we won’t repeatedly and persistently ask you to do something that you’ve already said a firm ‘no’ to. (But note that if you say “I’m too busy this week” we might still ask you again a couple weeks later)
  4. Complaints and concerns about campaign culture or an individuals’ behaviour will be taken seriously and acted on promptly. The QLD Greens have detailed policies and frameworks for how we deal with bullying, sexual harassment etc. and anyone who is responsible for coordinating other volunteers will be briefed on the importance of ensuring that complaints of racism, sexism, queerphobia/transphobia, ableism and any other forms of oppressive behaviour are dealt with immediately through fair and transparent processes, in a way that respects people’s privacy and centres the needs and desires of the complainant.

If you have any questions, concerns or feedback about any of this, email us at [email protected] 

If you haven’t already signed up to volunteer, you can do so via this page. Otherwise, click here to jump back over to our main campaign blog.