Cathy McGowan Lessons in Activism

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Lessons in Activism by Cathy McGowan

Notes for Activists from Cathy McGowan, Cathy Goes To Canberra, 2020

Cathy Goes To Canberra is a gem of a book and I’d encourage you to buy it and read it, but for those who want to put doing politics differently into action, hopefully this summary will also prove a useful tool into the lessons Cathy and Indi have to teach us.


1 General

My purpose is to bring Cathy McGowan’s ideas to a wider audience and to highlight the profound lessons she has learned in a long and active career into community-based action.

I want to provide an adjunct or another resource to those already available. I‘d encourage you to visit Cathy McGowan’s website which has an array of other resources and also the Community Independents Project site, which also provides plenty of resources of its own.

At a recent webinar conference of the latter, one woman said: I no longer call it volunteering. What I do every day I call my democracy work!

2 Lessons in Activism

The following is my summary of Cathy’s book. It is probably biased and imperfect and perhaps Cathy would want to change some of it. The saving grace of blog articles is that they are infinitely malleable. I’m happy to accept advice from anyone.

Because of this, I am not as meticulous as my ex-supervisor Professor SA Barnett would want me to be, but I do still feel his presence looking over my shoulder and I try harder.

Despite, the success of the Voices campaigns inspired by Indi and the success of Independents at the last Federal Election we do need to try harder. Independents are still a long way from ensuring that Australia’s governments do politics differently.

3 My Own Interest

My involvement (a minor one) over the past eighteen months was with an organisation called proACT and its endorsed ACT candidate David Pocock for the Senate in Australia.

As with Cathy McGowan in Indi, his key opponent was unpopular, but the window for success was tiny and its achievement amazing — with a lot of hard work by many people in between.

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