It comes at a time when Change.org Australia is about to hit 4 million users, meaning more than one in six Australians have signed or started a Change.org petition. In Australia, one petition wins a victory every 24 hours and globally, one wins every hour.
Karen Skinner, Head of Change.org Australia, said: “These milestones are important because signatures actually change things. It’s said people are turned off by politics because they’re apathetic towards politicians, cynical towards the system and disillusioned altogether. These figures show that people just want to use technology to do democracy and politics in a new, exciting, healthier way. They’re seeing it really can work, too.”
In the last year, Australian petition starters have decriminalised medicinal cannabis, capped credit card surcharges and introduced domestic violence prevention lessons in schools.
Since the election was called, senior politicians have been responding to petitions online. The Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce agreed to an ask by schoolgirl and farmer’s daughter Chloe Scott, 16, to review the milk pricing system and offer a relief package. Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer responded to a petition against the backpacker tax. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate committed to save a youth psychosis centre following a petition, and Health Minister Sussan Ley responded on several petitions, including agreeing to an ask to subsidise life-changing diabetes devices.
Karen Skinner said: “Three years ago, politicians seemed tentative about online petitions. It seems in 2016, they’ve finally realised that technology is disrupting the system they work in – and they can no longer ignore it.”