Government agencies often invite submissions from the public to collect views and to gauge community opinion on new or existing government policies or proposals. Many of these government policies or proposals directly impact on the lives and welfare of animals in Australia.
If you’re a passionate animal advocate, writing your own submission is a great way of expressing your opinion on government policies and gives you the opportunity to recommend how those policies could better protect the welfare of animals.
Your views matter and they have the ability to influence and shape government initiatives. You do not need to have any professional skills or expertise to draft an effective and meaningful submission.
How should you prepare for your submission?
- Read up on any available information about the new or existing government policy. Government agencies will usually provide a consultation or discussion paper when announcing a proposed policy or law reform initiative, which will often contain useful links to other reference materials for you to read up on.
- Research the animal welfare issues that are being addressed in your submission. Voiceless has published research on a number of key factory farming and kangaroo protection issues which you can access here.
- Take the time to map out your response and be clear about those aspects of the government’s policy that you agree or disagree with, and any recommendations that you may have.
What form and structure should your submission take?
- Submissions are not usually required to be in any particular format or structure. However, government consultation or discussion papers may contain form, structure or style requirements which you may need to comply with.
- Be sure to keep your submissions concise and clear. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Keep your language professional, polite, and as objective as possible.
- Use headings to ensure that your submission is structured and flows logically, as well as to assist the reader in following your argument. If the consultation or discussion paper contains terms of reference, it may be effective if the structure of your headings follows the terms of reference.
- It is important that you properly reference all materials that you use to support your argument. You should develop a clear referencing style and use it consistently throughout your response.
What information should you include in your submission?
- Briefly introduce yourself or your group. If you have any relevant education, experience or expertise in the area, then this should also be provided. Note that submissions are often made public but it is possible to provide your submission anonymously.
- Detail your key concerns, why these issues affect you or why you otherwise feel passionately about them.
- Provide recommendations on how the government’s proposal could be revised or amended. Make a clear statement to support your amendments and indicate why you believe your position is more favourable than that proposed by government.
- Identify any aspects of the government’s policy that you do agree with. The government will be inviting submissions from all sectors of the community, and accordingly, there may be certain aspects of the government’s proposal that you agree with, but which are strongly opposed by other members of the community.
- If your submission is lengthy, summarise your key points at the beginning or end of your submission so that your primary concerns are highlighted.
- Back up your argument with examples including research and domestic or international precedence where applicable. The more support materials you use, the stronger and more persuasive your argument will be.
What should you not include in your submission?
- It is not necessary to reiterate what the government has included in its consultation or discussion paper.
- Do not delve into information that you do not know about. It is perfectly acceptable for you to leave out any points, or terms of reference that you are not comfortable addressing.
- Do not be offensive, aggressive or disrespectful. Be sure to maintain a professional and moderate tone. This will ensure that your submission retains credibility, and that your audience treats your submission seriously.
If you are drafting a submission and require any further information on the government’s policy, consider contacting the relevant government agency directly. Further, if you would like to discuss your views or gather support for your submission, consider contacting your local State or Federal member, as appropriate.