News & Insight

Australian's use

Mr Tyson is one of 2 million Australians who have used the online platform since it launched in 2011. Australia is the second-highest per capita user of the site in the world. Australian director Karen Skinner said the high number of users, which includes both people who start and sign petitions, busts the myth that Australians are disengaged from public issues.

Research undertaken by the organisation shows the top three issues appearing on the site concern health, education and the environment.

However it's the individual campaigns, with an emotional story attached, that often attract the most signatories.

Ralph Kelly's campaign for legal reform following the death of his son Thomas in a single-punch attack drew almost 150,000 supporters.

Mother-of-five Nicole Perko received life-saving cancer surgery after a teenage student from Dubbo launched a petition to support her.

Mrs Perko was on a waiting list for peritonectomy surgery, which involves removing cancer from a large part of the abdominal area, at Sydney's St George Hospital when the petition was launched.

It won widespread support, with advocates including Russell Crowe, model Jennifer Hawkins, musician Clare Bowditch and the late Charlotte Dawson – the former wife of Mrs Perko's brother, Scott Miller.

In the wake of the campaign, NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced that more procedures would be carried out at Prince of Wales Hospital, easing the pressure on St George.'s Karen Skinner said: "The strongest trend we are seeing is people supporting others who are telling their own story. People want to back the underdog."

She said the research showed women were dominant users of the site – 70 per cent of users are aged over 45 and two-thirds of them are parents. The largest single group of users are aged from 55-64.

The research also revealed that users weren't simply "clicktivists" and many had gone on to continue their activism by lobbying politicians or donating money to a cause.

"Some people say it's clicktivism, it's too easy and it's not a real commitment," she said. "That's not what we see. I don't think people are trivialising their support for an issue just because they see it on their Facebook page.

"We see ourselves as being an easier entry point for activism. Yes, online petitions make it easier to find out about an issue and get involved but it's not an end point."

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Published on by TKYF.