Advocacy and Social Action in Australia

Advocacy and Social Action in Australia

In this literature review, you will summarise your understanding of the readings in Module 1 by Briskman (2007) and Burgmann (2000) and critically reflect on their viewpoints on “Advocacy and social action in Australia”.

1. Write one paragraph summary of your understanding of the main points made in each of the readings.

2. In the final paragraph, compare the authors’ perspectives and reflect on your own experiences with any of the social movements described in the readings.

Briskman (2007) and Burgmann (2000) viewpoints on “Advocacy and social action in Australia”.

The rise of social activism in Australia was necessitated by prolonged periods of injustices, especially against minority groups. Protest movements emerged as expressions of mass disapproval of the ongoing forms of oppression. The conditions that fuel social activism in Australia are well-known and established. Every Australian who believes in equality is essentially responsible for ensuring that all citizens have equal access to justice. Briskman (2007) and Burgmann (2000) explore the trends in social activism drawing from various movements, especially those of Aboriginal descent. Both authors highlight the role played by activism in the restoration of withheld rights and freedoms. The higher forms of social work and advocacy call for the formation of movements comprising of individuals who believe in similar values to enable them to gain the set goals. The members of a social movement do not necessarily have to possess similar backgrounds as all that matters are the values held in common.

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Briskman mainly focusses on explaining the role of social work and how it might ultimately translate into advocacy and social action. Advocacy and social action are complex processes that constitute a combination of passion, ideology, vision, and action (Briskman 2007, p. 132). Even though advocacy and social action are purely collective concepts, their motivations are drawn from highly personalized experiences. Some social workers only derive fulfillment from helping solve certain social injustices on a small scale while others aspire to work with larger groups to address systemic injustices through championing for change (Briskman 2007, p. 133). Social workers working on large scale levels enlighten the oppressed masses and lead them towards fighting for change. It is advisable to first begin with small scale advocacy, then transition to large scale advocacy later after determining the benefits and risks associated with the engagement in large scale advocacy. Burgmann links protests to the past and implies their success in solving major social problems both in the past and in the present. For instance, the rise in of the women against the traditional patriarchal family institutions led to the bestowment of equal rights between the two genders. Social movements have always been in existence. Although some fade away at a particular time, they are bound to re-appear (Briskman 2000, p. 12). Movements that have more participants ranging from radical participants to moderate supporters are more likely to succeed in their fight compared to those with a limited number of participants. Briskman advocates for large scale advocacy and portrays it as more effective. Essentially, moderate demands are mostly attained not by engaging moderate and respectable means but rather by adopting militant and seemingly disrespectful activities (Burgmann 2000, p. 14). Strategic diversity always leads to greater success.

Both Briskman and Burgmann recognize the role of advocacy and social action in initiating change. However, they do not seem to agree on the most appropriate level or scale for advocacy. While Briskman supports both small scale and large scale advocacy, Burgmann is fully inclined towards large scale advocacy. She points out that large groups of participants in a protest are most likely to be successful in their course. The social movements by the Aboriginal Australians have been in existence for quite some long and have been able to achieve a certain degree of success. However, I still believe that the movements have not been as effective as they ought to have been. This is because the Aboriginal populations lack representation, and the movements are usually not well constituted. The Aboriginals form a minority of the Australian population and have not been able to gain much support from the majority groups. Lack of support and underrepresentation are major drawbacks that might further delay the bestowment of justice to the Aboriginal Australians.


Briskman, L., 2007. Advocacy, activism, and social action. In: Social Work with Indigenous Communities. Annandale, NSW: Federation Press, pp. 131-147.

Burgmann, V., 2000. The point of protest: advocacy and social action in twentieth-century Australia. Just Policy: A Journal of Australian Social Policy, Issue 19-20, pp. 7-15.

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