“My life has opened up. It’s a new world” - how people living with disabilities helped themselves using Change.org

Here at Change.org, our vision is a world where nobody is powerless or voiceless. That’s why we created a tool that helps people to help themselves - like quadriplegic Mark Tonga. It also enables others to help you - like 5-year-old Mikey with cerebral palsy. Discover their stories - and perhaps start a petition of your own, below.

Mark could only leave the house once a week in a taxi - ‘till he logged on to Change.org

Mark Tonga, 41, wanted to pay taxes, to contribute to society - but he couldn’t. He felt isolated, except for one taxi trip a week. 

Mark actually wrote his petition using his mouth - on his iPad using a mouth stick.

Mark wrote his petition using his mouth

Mark wrote his petition using his mouth

On his petition, Mark wrote: “I injured my spinal cord during a rugby union training session, resulting in quadriplegia. I lost the ability to move my arms and legs - I’m totally reliant on my chin control power wheelchair for mobility.”

Despite the NSW taxi prices becoming the most expensive in the country, the state government hadn't increased the Disability Taxi Subsidy since 1999. It restricted Mark to that solitary trip each week. 

mark tonga.jpg

Mark successfully campaigned to double the taxi subsidy using Change.org, which happened earlier this year. I asked him what life is like for him now:

My life has opened up. It’s a new world of engagement. Friends, outings, education, meetings, training. The best medication for people with fragile health is morale, it makes all the therapies, work better.”

He compared his fight to increase the subsidy to his rugby days: 

“Maybe I did pick up life lessons from Rugby. You just press on, always, you don’t notice the cuts, the bruises, the mud stinging your eyes, until after the game – and then you’re all mates. Change.org was like having 20,000 in the grandstand cheering us on against a team who thought they were unbeatable.”

The subsidy will mean thousands of disabled people are able to get out, work, volunteer, and feel far less alone. 

Mikey’s mum persuaded Coles & Woolies to make shopping ten times easier for parents of disabled kids

Experiencing the world with a disability is hard enough. But when you’re a child with disability, who speaks up for you? Who helps you navigate the obstacles that prevent you leading a normal life?

For Mikey, 5, who has cerebral palsy it was his mum, Kelly. But Kelly needed to amplify her voice - and she chose to log on Change.org to do that.

Mikey, who has cerebral palsy 

Mikey, who has cerebral palsy 

Kelly Winton successfully campaigned for trolleys for disabled people like her son, Mikey. She targeted Coles and Woolworths, writing: “As Mikey’s growing, he wears a leg brace because of his cerebral palsy - there’s no way he can use ordinary trolleys. His condition means he tires easily and so needs the support of a safe and supported trolley.”

I caught up with Kelly, who has now been using the disabled trolleys for 18 months. She reflected on what made her petition successful: 

“Your platform is easy to use, even for people like me who aren’t that computer friendly! I knew this small change for Coles and Woolworths would have a big impact on my life - and thousands of others with disabled kids. 

“It helped that nearly everybody seems to know Change.org. Once my campaign had the weight of your name behind it, it took my message to another level - and that’s what made the big supermarkets start listening and acting.”

And the best thing? “With these new trolleys, now my husband takes Mikey to do the shopping, so I get a much-needed break!”

Want to change something that's important to you or someone you love? Start a petition here.

Would you like to leave a message for Mark or Kelly? Write one below and we'll pass it on

"I looked the Premier in the eye & made him listen" – the meetings that changed their lives

Everyday Australians have a direct line to the country’s most powerful people by using Change.org - like Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, who explains why she loves to respond to Change.org petitions below.

But can you imagine what it’s like to pick up the phone to the Deputy Prime Minister, or come face to face with your state Premier?

Meet the women whose petitions reached the highest echelons of power to impact thousands.

Gang rape survivor Katrina: "I looked the Premier in the eye & said, your policy hurts"

"Sitting in that room my heart was beating so fast. Just days ago I'd told my story of surviving a gang-rape then having critical support cut. Now, I was looking NSW Premier Mike Baird in the eye and directly telling him how much his policy is hurting people. 

I was nervous at the start, but the support of so many people gave me courage. I was in that room because of Change.org - thousands of people had my back and I decided to stand my ground. 

This is such a great platform because it isn’t just online - it gave me the opportunity to speak face to face with those in power. A petition starts by giving just one person a voice. But then it grows so much bigger than that. I even stood in front of the Premier again on live TV at an election debate. That made victims of crime compensation an election issue. Then I realised I was finally being heard. 

I’ll never forget the day the Commissioner rang me to tell me all victims of crime compensation was being paid back. I was overjoyed. I was able to pay back debt from psychologist costs to deal with the trauma of my gang rape.
The impact was far wider than me though. 24,000 victims of crime who’ve been through horrific things were suddenly given a chance to do something with their lives."

“Miss, can I leave class for a sec? The Deputy Prime Minister’s calling my mobile…”

The moment Chloe, 16, discovered she’d persuaded the Deputy PM to offer a $1 billion relief package to desperate dairy farmers like her dad:

Chloe, 16, met influential MPs including Nick Xenophon during her petition delivery 

Chloe, 16, met influential MPs including Nick Xenophon during her petition delivery 

“My mobile buzzed, number withheld. I was in class awaiting the phone call from what I assumed to be a representative of Barnaby Joyce.

But no. It was the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia himself, wanting to explore how to make my petition ask come true.

When I heard “Hello Chloe, it’s Barnaby Joyce here”, it just felt so surreal. I started my petition on my phone and never imagined it’d lead to him consulting me on dealing with the dairy crisis. I’m just an ordinary person. I’m just like everybody else.  

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce personally called Chloe 

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce personally called Chloe 

On the call, he was shocked at how many signatures my petition had (over 160,000). He also left two official responses on my petition and went into more detail. I’m not politically focused, so I didn’t expect him to listen to someone like me. But he did.

One of my asks was for a milk pricing index. It was so amazing to see him agree to that directly below my petition.

Chloe delivering her petition. 

Chloe delivering her petition. 

It was after the call and all the media I did, that the people around me made me realise this was a big deal. He didn’t just call me - he agreed to my ask. Even now, my classmates think I’m famous! Word spread and teachers congratulated me in corridors, which felt weird. My school mentor told everyone how amazing it was that I’d influenced the Deputy PM."

The Health Minister explains why she listens to petitions

We asked one of the platform’s most responsive cabinet members, Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, what it is about Change.org petitions that make them so persuasive: 

“Personal stories, such as those which feature on Change.org give a ‘face’ to the struggles that many Australians and their families come up against when diagnosed with rare conditions and chronic diseases.”

Health is the most common theme for petitions on our platform, so a direct line to the most powerful person in the country for health matters is a big plus for our users. We asked the Minister why it was so important to her to listen to online petitions:

She said: “As a representative in the Australian Parliament, voted in by the people, it's my duty to listen to those who contact me... through channels such as Change.org. I'm part of a Government that strives always to put patients at the centre of policy.”

To petition one of the country’s most powerful people on an issue that’s important to you, visit change.org/start

Who would you most like to see responding to petition asks? Make your voice heard by sharing below:

Health Minister will review “exploitative” hospital parking fees - thanks to this 13 year old

“We’re taking a huge step forward in making hospital parking better for patients”

Thousands of sick Aussies and their families could soon be benefiting from financial relief when they need it most - and all thanks to a chronically ill 13-year-old boy.

Teenager Gidon Goodman started his Change.org petition from a laptop in his hospital bed. He asked for “crippling” hospital parking fees to be reviewed.

After months of pressure and many national media interviews, Gidon today delivered his 66,000 strong petition to NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner.

The outcome, he says, is a “huge step forward”:

Gidon’s own experience as a long term patient at Sydney Children’s Hospital prompted him to take action. He shared his powerful story, including the extortionate $10,000 parking fee bill his family has paid during ten years of hospital visits. It persuaded many others to share their story below his petition. Many reported having to make the painful decision between health and debt. 

A follow up meeting is locked in for December to discuss the outcome of the review. Gidon has now pledged to keep an eye on the developments, keeping up the pressure to act.

To help Gidon keep up the pressure - join 66,000 Aussies by adding your signature to his petition here.

 

 

 

 

 

How A Dad Defended His Son In The ADF – And Two Other Historic Wins For Those Who Serve

‘For a son to call his father inspirational, well, there’s no greater accolade.' – Tony

“I was sitting in Sydney airport and read that the Government planned to give the ADF a pay cut in real terms. That’s my son, I thought. He serves in the RAAF and I won’t stand for this. It’s morally wrong. They protect our way of life, our culture - you have to look after them, keep them out of harm’s way. I can’t even conceive of how brave my son is. I’m so proud of him. A pay cut was an insult, and suggested our nation didn’t share this pride I had for him.  

But I only had an hour till my flight. What could I do before then? I wrote a petition and sent it to 8 Facebook friends. Then boarded my flight. By the time I got off the plane in Brisbane, it already had 250 signatures. That night, it had 1,000. We ended up with 65,000 and I delivered the petition to Tony Abbott in Canberra.

When we won and reversed the cut, my son sent me a card. Inside, it read: ‘Dad, there’s only one word I can say. Inspirational.’

It felt bloody awesome I made that difference, but I’ve got to be honest, for a son to call his father inspirational, well, there’s no greater accolade. We managed to find a voice. We had a significant influence on changing a government policy and it started with just one signature: mine.

I say to my son now: if there’s one lesson we take from this, it’s that one person really can make a difference. Never walk past a problem without trying to fix it.” Read more about Tony's win.

'It means the world to my family to know that he's alongside his fallen comrades.' – Avril

Avril successfully petitioned for peacekeepers to be recognised, on behalf of her son who was killed at just 21

"I can hardly believe it. Brendan Nelson, the War Memorial Director just phoned, saying "your son's name will be added to the honour roll" -- and I just burst into tears.

My son Jamie was killed in a peacekeeping operation just after his 21st birthday. But the War Memorial Council refused to put his name on the honour roll because he didn’t die “at war”.

I'm a little overwhelmed with emotion - for my son Jamie who died almost 8 years ago - for all the men and women who lost their lives on peacekeeping missions that finally are getting the recognition they deserve." Read more about Avril's win.

'We lay them to rest with dignity and honour, a group of heroes once forgotten' – Bob

Bob's petition brough home 25 Vietnam war heroes, including his best mate - Reg

“My good mate Reg will finally be laid to rest at Adelaide River War Cemetery, where he deserves to be; where he should’ve been 50 years ago.

When these soldiers landed home on Australian soil, at long last there could be closure for their widows, descendants and the whole veteran community. 

We lay them to rest with dignity and honour, a group of heroes once forgotten, but never again.” Read more about Bob's win.

Australians are standing up for those who serve our country. Leave a comment below about your favourite success:

A Mum’s letter to her two boys on their Dad's brave act before he went up to Heaven

You’d be so proud of your Daddy. You’re only three and one years old but I’m writing this now because I want it to be one of the very first things you ever read when you learn how.

Your Daddy was so brave. Thousands of people around Australia know his name - for a very very good reason that he’ll never even know about.

Dannii, Jett and Shane

Dannii, Jett and Shane

He was very sick with a nasty disease called melanoma. He fought it for a very long time - for 15 years, ever since Mummy and Daddy first met.

The magic medicine to stop him from being so sick was really, really expensive. The medicine had a funny name, ‘Keytruda.’ It costed so much money that we couldn’t afford it, not even one dose. 

Daddy didn’t think it was fair that people with lots of money could get the medicine but families like ours couldn’t. He kept saying this over and over again and telling important people. Nobody was listening to him and he started to run out of time. He starting getting really sick again and going back to hospital, where the nee-nor ambulance took him. He needed the magic medicine more quickly than the important people would let him have it. 

Jett and Shane 

Jett and Shane 

So he used the laptop that Mummy sometimes lets you play with. On it, he started something called a petition. On the petition, he included a picture of you and him, Jett. Then he wrote why he thought it was unfair that the medicine that could make him get better costed so much money. Especially because other countries let people with Daddy’s type of cancer have the medicine for free, or not much money at all!

Daddy wasn’t sure if anyone would listen to him and his petition. But then something big happened. Lots and lots and lots of people signed his petition - 172,000 people. That’s more than one hundred times the number of people who go to your whole school!

Levi, you were in Mummy’s tummy when Daddy did this and nearly ready to come out! He got really really poorly when Mummy’s tummy was getting big with you inside it. Even though he could have just stopped his petition and rested in bed, he didn’t. He kept on fighting for the medicine to be lots cheaper because he knew something. 

He knew, even if it didn’t make Daddy better, the magic medicine could make thousands of other people with melanoma better, even after he died. 

So he told all the people who signed his petition to keep talking to the important people about this medicine. This would mean other sick people could get it for not too much money. 

Jett helped his Dad campaign - and keeps him close with a pic of him on his pillow

Jett helped his Dad campaign - and keeps him close with a pic of him on his pillow

Before you came out of Mummy’s tummy, Levi, Daddy went up to heaven. Heaven is for people who have been really really good to other people. We know Daddy is definitely there because his petition won, Levi and Jett, and it saved thousands of lives.

You were still in my tummy, Levi, when we found out Daddy’s petition winning means that 1,400 people with melanoma every year will be saved or live longer. That’s lots of lives saved.

Boys, today I spoke to a lady called Emma, who has the illness Daddy had. Because of his petition, Emma can get that magical medicine, Keytruda. Emma said

“After being given 3 months to live at 22, Keytruda bought me time. Keytruda gave me over two years with my new husband, family and friends that we never thought I had. The treatment kept me alive long enough to be presented with more options.” 

Jett and Levi, my hope is that when you grow up to be big boys, you’ll be exactly like your Daddy. Because your Daddy was the bravest fighter in Australia who saved thousands of lives - and he went up to Heaven before he even knew that he’d saved them.

Would you like to leave Levi and Jett a message about their Dad, Shane, for them to read when they grow up?

Leave one below. It'll be read to them as soon as they're old enough to understand.

Or share this story Twitter by clicking here. 

 

 

The stories you got the media to cover

Two young people, aged 12 and 13, made media headlines this week - thanks to your signatures.

One is a chronically ill boy, the other a victim of severe bullying. Both wanted to to make their voices heard and make the change they want to see. And both did that by using Change.org.

Tayla

Tayla, 12, was a major feature in The Weekend Australian Magazine. On her petition, she wrote:

"I'm the most unpopular kid in school and bullying is killing me - PLEASE help"

Change.org users answered that call for help. They signed her petition in their thousands, leading to Tayla's voice being amplified through the media. 

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 11.48.52 am.png

Gidon

Meanwhile Gidon, 13, was on The Project this week calling on NSW Premier Mike Baird to answer his call to cap hospital parking fees, following long hospital stays due to his rare blood disorder. It was Change.org users flocking to sign his petition that gave him this powerful platform:
 

Every single media headline generated is thanks to the support of you, our users. Here are three more crackers that happened thanks to you:

Premier changed his mind on medicinal cannabis thanks to story shared on Change.org

 

"Making shit happen"

 

"A legit force in politics" 

Share this story on Facebook and Twitter   

Sign Gidon's petition here and Tayla's petition here

 

Exclusive: From “most unpopular girl at school” to major magazine - one girl’s story of finding her voice

Tayla’s plea for help stunned us here at the Change.org office. The details are shocking. This girl is just 12:

"I'm the most unpopular kid at school and people make my life a living hell. Every day people call me fatso, weirdo, ugly, freak, and tell me I should kill myself.

Other people in my class throw things at me and film it on their phones. They tell me they're going to upload it to the net."

Tayla felt voiceless and powerless to change her situation. She opened her mum’s laptop, logged on to Change.org and explained she had “nowhere else to go for help.”

Tayla started her petition from her mum's laptop

Tayla started her petition from her mum's laptop

As thousands of people began signing and sharing her petition, the Change.org team provided advice and support to Tayla and her mum – on speaking to media and how to make her voice louder.  

This weekend, Tayla is featured in The Weekend Australian magazine. Her story and bravery will help thousands and has already inspired a national anti-bullying movement.

Tayla in The Weekend Australian Magazine 

Tayla in The Weekend Australian Magazine 

Amazing things can happen when people use Change.org. Two days after she started her petition, a Facebook Group formed and arranged a mass walk-home, meeting Tayla from school. Journalists on news sites and on TV were inspired to share for the first time their personal experiences of bullying. Social media lit up in support of Tayla.

Then her mum wrote this, which we’ll finish with, to say thank you so much for signing petitions and using Change.org. It makes a bigger difference than you may realise:

Share this story

Join the anti-bullying movement inspired by Tayla’s bravery

Would you like to share a personal message for Tayla? Write one below and we'll pass it on to her and her mum... 

How to fight homophobia today

Yesterday a cartoon comparing gay people fighting for marriage equality to Nazi Germany was published in a leading newspaper. Dean's petition calls for the cartoonist's employment to be terminated.

Every day, Australians are campaigning online for gay equality. It's working in securing real, meaningful change for LGBTQI Australians. 

Discover some uplifting stories and then take action, below:

Dad's campaign to legalise same-sex adoption has almost won

This week, the SA Parliament introduced a Bill to legalise adoption for gay couples, following petition pressure on Change.org from Shaun, the proud dad of two adopted sons.

Shaun with his partner and their two adopted sons 

Shaun with his partner and their two adopted sons 

Mum of famous gay son inspires others to speak out

Laurelle Mellet, the mum of singer Troye Sivan, has become a powerful voice for young gay people. Her petition to save Safe Schools’ funding has encouraged some powerful comments like this one:

Laurelle Mellet is petitioning as "the proud mum of a gay son" - Troye Sivan, pictured here 

Laurelle Mellet is petitioning as "the proud mum of a gay son" - Troye Sivan, pictured here 

Petitioning for gay equality has resulted in campaign wins big and small: from a school allowing same-sex couples to attend their debutante ball, to the AFL tackling homophobia by introducing a ‘Pride’ round. Read this piece for more gay equality wins.

Want to address inequality you've seen or experienced? Start a petition here

Sign Dean’s petition, calling for Termination of Bill Leaks’ employment here

 

 

 

 

 

 

The people that wouldn’t be alive today without your signatures

Signing a petition isn’t just effective. It can save lives.

“It was my last hope. And it worked”

May Ali, from WA, is a mum of two beautiful daughters:

But they risked  growing up without a mum. May was struck down with a potentially fatal disease called aHUS. It made her dangerously ill:

“Coming close to death several times, I also became severely disabled.”

Then, a wonder-drug came along - Eculizumab. “It was my last hope” May says. “It literally saved my life after a harrowing five months in hospital.” 

But suddenly, in December, the government stopped funding the drug and denied May her next dose. She faced two bleak options: pay $500,000 (and bankruptcy), or die.

40,000 signed May’s petition and, just before Christmas, Health Minister Sussan Ley approved May’s next dose, subsidised the wonder drug and saved May’s life.

Now THAT is an amazing Christmas pressie.

“I cannot thank Change.org enough for providing their platform”

Like most mums, Nicole’s kids kept her happily busy.

Then, she was struck down with stomach cancer. It tore her world apart. But she prepared for surgery for the sake of her kids. One problem. She wasn’t allowed surgery - and for the most ridiculous reason.

The NSW stomach cancer specialist was limited to performing six surgeries per month - and he’d already reached this quota, meaning Nicole would die.

Across the state, Sam - an 18-year-old Nicole had never met - saw her story. He started a Change.org petition to lift this cap of six surgeries. It worked. With almost 80,000 signatures, the NSW Health Minister was pressured to act to save Nicole’s life.

The legacy continues. Earlier this year, NSW health announced that two new stomach cancer centers will be created. This means that the number of patients that can receive cancer operations will increase from 115 this year to 170 by 2026.

Nicole said: “I cannot thank Change.org enough for providing their platform.”

...and one brave man whose petition will save thousands

In this case, a petition couldn’t save Shane’s life - but it’ll save thousands more, thanks to his courage.

Shane Raisher, who died at 32, will never know the two huge legacies he left on this earth.

While he was battling cancer, his wife Dannii was pregnant with their second child. Levi is the son Shane will sadly never meet.

But there’s another legacy Shane left.

Shane’s Change.org petition - started when he was very sick - asked for a melanoma wonder-drug, Keytruda, to be part-funded by the government’s health department. He wanted no other family to face the $10,500 bill every three weeks that his family did, just to keep him alive.

But listen they did. Unfortunately, it was just too late for Shane. Just three months after his death, his petition ask was granted.

1,400 patients die from melanoma annually. Many will now be saved or granted valuable extra years because they can afford this wonder-treatment, thanks to Shane’s successful petition.

Dannii said: “It’s important to me that his two sons grow up to understand what a courageous fighter their father was - and how many people’s lives his petition saved.”

Many lives were saved thanks to your signature - but some people are still battling the Government to get approval for life-saving treatments.

29 Year old Sarah suffers from a rare genetic disorder, aHus. Without access to a life-saving drug granted to her sister but not her, she will die.

You can click here to help save Sarah by putting pressure on the Health Minister to fund her treatment.

Know a few friends who might like this story? Click here to share with them on facebook.

Insurance Giants Are Backflipping After Years Of Claim Rejections

It’s a true David vs Goliath battle. After a four year dispute with insurance giant Allianz, who refused to pay out for a road traffic accident that left Manuel Larriera permanently disabled - he's forced them to back down.

His pain has ended just two months after starting his Change.org petition and thousands of signatures helping him secure national media attention, prompting the insurer to respond and pay out.

Allianz has finally settled his claim in full this week.

But Manuel is not the only one using people power to end years of claim rejections - meet the Change.org users fighting back against insurers' decisions:

AAMI, Allianz, NRMA, Suncorp and Westpac - they’re well-known household insurers that millions Aussies rely on as a safety net for their insurance policies. 

But after numerous vulnerable Aussies found these big brands rejecting their insurance claims – they turned to Change.org and started petitions asking for their insurer to pay their claims. And it's working. 

Now these individuals, backed by of thousands of signatures, are making some of Australia’s biggest companies u-turn on their decisions:

Change.org users are signing, sharing and chipping in to help these customer’s win - now help more people take on their insurers by sharing this news on facebook.

Did you help any of these petitions reach victory? We'd love to hear why you signed - leave your comments in the box below.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The drugs squad copper who ‘dealt’ drugs to his terminally ill son

WHILE ARRESTING SYDNEY’S city criminals for cannabis possession, former drugs squad copper Lou Haslam never believed he’d end up here. 

He’s on a quiet, green farm in Tamworth, preparing it to host Australia’s first ever legal cannabis crop, soon to be surrounded by high security fencing.

He certainly never believed he’d be the dad persuading his son to take a puff of a marijuana joint, after previously giving anti-cannabis lectures as a formal part of police detective recruit training:

“I took as gospel the propaganda we were fed about cannabis: that it gives men sperm count of zero. That it builds up like lead. That it’s the most dangerous drug around. All bloody myths. Only this campaign told me the truth.”

That campaign was started by his wife, Lucy. She logged on to Change.org and asked not to be treated as a criminal for providing her terminally son, Dan, with medicinal cannabis. Going public with their personal story was the first step of a long campaign for the Haslams. They amassed 250,000 petition signers who they used as an army of campaigners to successfully pressurise State Premiers, Health Ministers, party leaders and pharmaceutical giants.

After 35 years in the police, including 8 as a drugs squad officer, Lou left the force when his 21-year-old son Dan was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer. Lou and Lucy desperately wanted their son’s final years to be his happiest. But it seemed impossible:

“Dan would find any tactic, any excuse to delay his chemo clinic appointments. Who could blame him? He’d come back sick as a dog, painful ulcers filled his mouth right down his throat. He couldn’t keep anything down and it killed his appetite anyway. He couldn’t even speak. Then just when he could, it was time for chemo clinic again.”

Lou will never forget the night everything changed - thanks to a spliff:

“When a friend suggested Dan try cannabis, Dan said ‘Dad won’t have a bar of this.’ But a parent will do anything, absolutely anything to help their kid in agony. The results were sensational. We’d give him a smoke just before and just after chemo clinic. Just a puff. That first night he asked for steak and eggs! That was unheard of - I’m not making this up. This wasn’t a placebo effect. We later found out, through all the petition signers leaving comments, everyone using it medicinally felt the same effect. That last year of Dan’s life was the best of the five since his diagnosis. His nausea eased, his appetite returned. We got Dan back, even if it was only for a year.”

During this time, Dan married his university sweetheart, Alyce.

Lou insists he never saw himself as a ‘dealer’ to his son: “No way in the world. A crime needs an intent and my intent was to help my son. Thanks to our campaign and the petition, it’s now off the prohibited substances list and from November, doctors can prescribe it.”

In the February of 2015, Dan Haslam died. He was 25.

As a legacy to Dan, his parents stepped up their lobbying. They’d already convinced NSW Premier Mike Baird (who wrote a piece dedicated to Dan titled “the young man who changed my mind about cannabis.”) Next, they used their army of 250,000 signers to lobby senior politicians for them. Thousands of people suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses who’d previously been terrified of arrest, felt empowered to admit using medicinal cannabis in the petition’s ‘reason for signing’. It was a collective shout that got so loud, politicians could no longer ignore it.

The fight wasn’t easy. The Haslams still had to take on the pharmaceutical juggernauts: “Big pharma lobbied like crazy against decriminalisation. They knew cannabis medication would take away from their business.”

In February 2016, on the first anniversary of Dan’s death, the Haslams won. Health Minister Sussan Ley issued an official response to their Change.org petition announcing the federal law would change to decriminalise medicinal cannabis. Lucy calls it ‘Dan’s Law.’

Lou needs to get back to preparing Australia’s first ever medicinal cannabis crop farm, named DanEden. “I must get going, time to go back to the farm. It’s beautiful out there”, he says as he signs off.   

Support United in Compassion, Lucy and Lou’s charity for compassionate access to cannabis, by donating here

Share this story with friends on Facebook – and leave a comment below:

Everyday Aussies Winning Big For Gay Equality

The fight for equality is being fought every day, in towns across Australia. Outside the Canberra bubble – these Aussies' victories could teach the PM a few things about getting results for gay equality. 

Watch this. Scroll to see the wins. And back the next big petition for equality at the end.

Baby Tadgh now officially has two mummies - because your signatures changed the law 

This is Tadhg. He was, fittingly, born on mother’s day in 2014 - and has two mummies:

But, according to his birth certificate, Tadhg only had one mummy - Sally. Because Sally’s partner was a woman, Tadhg wasn’t allowed to have two legal parents - something Sally called out as homophobia.

Sally’s Change.org petition read: “Our child is disadvantaged by having ‘one legally invisible parent’ when he has been so consciously created and with clear intention from the outset that he should be born to two parents - who just happen to be mother and co-mother.” 

When the law was changed after 5,000 signatures on Sally’s persuasive petition, she wrote: "The Attorney General fought it every step of the way - but justice won in the end."

AFL tackles homophobia after historic campaign by first openly gay player

“This is a terrifying petition to write” Jason Ball typed nervously, before sharing his experience as the first AFL player to come out as gay. His powerful voice combined with 30,000 others built a 3-year long campaign for the AFL to tackle homophobia.  

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 4.18.24 pm.png

Jason asked for an AFL Pride Round, to help foster a more respectful culture towards gay people and tackle the homophobia he’d witnessed first hand. When that happened last month, Ball called it a “historic moment I could only have dreamed of when I started my Change.org petition four years ago.”

Same-sex couples shall go the ball! 

The School Debutante Ball is, in the words of 16 year old Tia, “For many female students, a dream come true. Or, if you're LGBT+, a nightmare.”

Along with her best friend Rebekah, Tia successfully petitioned Bundoora Secondary School to allow same-sex couples to attend for the first time in 2016 - setting a leading example for all VIC schools. They made a fab couple:

debutante ball 1.jpg

The school principal, who changed the school’s rule following Tia’s petition, said: "I'm quite in awe of you as young people taking a brave step. As much as community attitudes have changed towards same sex couples there's still a lot of hostility in the world."

4 million Australians are now using Change.org. Your power to win campaigns for equality is growing every day. 

Catholic Priest Father Paul wants your help to end the ‘gay panic’ defence in Australia – SIGN HERE.

Troye Sivan’s mum says: My son is gay. Save Safe Schools’ Funding – SIGN HERE.

No to the marriage equality plebiscite - SIGN HERE.

Legalise same-sex adoption in SA - SIGN HERE.

Four Year Fight To Stop Racehorse Slaughter Pays Off

"This has been a really hard fight. We're not campaigners. When we first discovered what was happening, we were just ordinary citizens. But the desire to get justice for these horses has helped us create history."

In big news for animal rights this week, thousands of retired racehorses will no longer face being shot and slaughtered – with Racing NSW committing to a new retirement welfare plan.

It's a victory 4 years in the making. Ward and others at the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses have volunteered thousands of hours, garnered the backing of 44,000 Change.org users, and persisted despite constant rejections. Their tireless efforts paid off.

“It’s one huge step in the right direction for animal rights - one we never thought we’d reach. It’s been incredible to see the support from signers, it’s more than just a signature.”

But Ward doesn't plan to stop here - he wants to put an end to this “torture” nationally: "This is just the start - we’ve won against one state but the rest are now to follow. NSW has merely set a precedent to which others must follow.”

You can add your name to their petition now to help win this change nationally by clicking here.

Ward isn’t the only one with good news for animal rights - in case you missed it:

Which animal rights victory on Change.org did you love? Leave your comments below. 

Glorious. Pizza Shapes Are Back – And Other Little Gems.

Holy moley, the original Pizza Shapes are coming back. We did it, Australia.
"We haven’t achieved world peace - but it’s a pretty close second” - avid Shapes advocate. 

Arnott’s will resurrect the original, much-loved Pizza Shapes, following sobering public outcry. 

But all is now right in the world. Victory! Nearly 30,000 pizza lovers united in common cause of loving the munch.

Aussies have a knack for championing the right causes. Just think of these little gems:

1. Noel is allowed to ride his horse into town & back - on one condition

After being banned, Noel successfully petitioned Hills Creek Hire Council, WA, for the right to ride his horse - his only form of transportation - into town to do his shopping and go to church. 1,874 supporters backed him. The council wrote him an apology letter. 

Halls Creek Shire chief executive Rodger Kerr-Newell said: 

"This man is completely entitled to ride his horse, camel, llama, whatever, in and out of town. But if it craps all over the place, he has to pick it up."

2. One of our petition starters is a drag queen called Pauline Pantsdown

And she seems to be as influential as her newly elected namesake, after petitioning for an elderly couple’s right to fly the rainbow flag on their balcony, following complaints 

3. Tony “the spud king” petitioned for his right to grow potatoes

Tony was being prevented from selling as many spuds as he likes by a body called "the Potato Marketing Corporation" (we’re not making this up) and one Change.org user’s petition called on the WA Premier to stop making it a crime to produce too many potatoes (yes, really).

4. The Australian currency nearly changed its name to ‘Dollarydoos’ after 70k signed a petition for it.

Ok, it didn’t really. BUT the very serious ‘Economy of Australia’ Wikipedia page DID change the currency to Dollarydoos before the Reserve Bank intervened and asked them to take it down*

*They didn't really, but LOL. 

What will you tackle next? Over to you, Australia.

Against All Odds, People Power Is Re-Writing These Shocking Injustices

Brock Turner walked free on the weekend after 3 months. He's the rapist found guilty of three counts of sexual assault on the Stanford University campus – with the judge issuing a lenient sentence because jail would have a 'severe impact' on the rapist.

1.3 million people slammed the judge's decision by signing a Change.org petition. There have been protests in the US. And now, in a significant win for the campaign for justice – it's forced the judge to no longer hear criminal or rape cases: 

“He’ll no longer stand in the face of rape victims and pity their rapist.” says the petition starter.

In Australia, petitions are helping grieving families and victims find justice – every week.

  • Gerard Baden-Clay's murder sentence was re-instated
  • The release of a serial child molester in South Australia was stopped
  • An inquest into the murder of a grandmother was won
  • A offender release centre was moved away from a childcare

The most stubborn, powerful institutions in the land - judges, courts, the whole criminal system - can be shifted. 

‘Insulting’ prison privileges to a peadophile rapist and murderer have been revoked

“It shows people power can force the government to listen. Thank you so much for remembering my daughter.” – Ebony's mum

Ebony Simpson, 9, was walking home from the school bus when a peadophile, Andrew Garforth, abducted her. He bound her arms and legs with wire then raped her repeatedly. He later placed rocks into her small school bag and tossed her into a dam, where she drowned.

He showed zero remorse – yet last year was given extra prison privileges including TV and sandwich toaster in his cell, extra time outside, and woodwork courses. 

Christine Simpson, Ebony’s mum, started a petition to Mike Baird asking to revoke these “insulting” privileges. It grew to 34,000 in just 24 hours and the very next day, putting so much public pressure on Mike Baird that the government agreed to remove all Garforth’s privileges. 

A woman was raped & then bled to death but two prime suspects were never prosecuted - until a petition changed everything

“After five long, painful years battling the justice system, our family had absolutely no hope for the future. But this all turned around when Carolyn started this petition for justice for Lynette and 70,000 signatures flooded in from across Australia." – Lynette's step-dad

Lynette Daley's naked body was found on a beach in 2011. Two men claimed they had "wild drunken sex" with her. But they burned a blood stained mattress and left her to die from huge internal injuries. Until this year, they'd never faced trial.

The petition successfully persuaded the Department of Prosecutions to charge and prosecute the two men suspected of killing her.

There are over 450,000 Australians taking action for criminal justice on Change.org – and it's working. Keep signing: 

4 things that restored our faith in humanity this week

In these bloody tough times, we need stories that gives us tingles of the spine variety and bumps of the goose variety.

Here at the Change.org Aus office, these 4 stories this week had us air punching in the name of people power:

1. Australia’s first ever bank note for blind people was released this week thanks to Connor, 15

“When I first found out Connor was blind, I crawled into a ball in and cried my eyes out”.  Ally, Connor’s mum, needn’t have worried that being blind would hold her boy back. This week her teenage son, “my superstar” made history. 

Many thought the new fiver was ugly It’s actually beautiful because of some tiny, barely visible bumps. Connor’s Change.org petition took on Australia’s toughest institution - the Reserve Bank. He persuaded them to put tactile markings on bank-notes so vision-impaired people like him could tell the difference. At first, they said no - even though they already printed notes with tactile markings for many other countries! 

Connor didn’t take no for an answer. A trip to Parliament, a high court case and 57,000 signatures later, victory was his. An artist even put his face on a fun re-design of the note in honour of Connor’s achievement:

2. Consumers will save almost $1 billion a year in annoying fees thanks to Klaus

From this week, big businesses aren't allowed to charge you hefty surcharges when you buy something on your card.

The cap on these pesky fees is largely thanks to Klaus, who used Change.org to campaign for three years. He felt pissed off on behalf of all consumers when he discovered that Jetstar charged 2670% above what it costs for them to process a sale on your credit card for . Now they can only charge 1 - 1.5%.

Thanks to Klaus’s dogged efforts, consumers will now save almost $1 billion a year. 

Cheers, Klaus!

3. Gerard Baden-Clay, who killed his wife has manslaughter verdict upgraded to murder after huge petition pressure

“Perhaps we should just do away with the legal system?” frothed journalist John Birmingham in Fairfax newspapers at those protesting the leniency of Gerard Baden-Clay’s manslaughter verdict for killing his wife, Allison. “Why bother with courts after all, when a couple of thousand angry punters are on hand with pitchforks?”

Many of the ‘mob’ were the 121,000 signers of Nicole’s petition to “appeal the decision reducing Gerard Baden-Clay's murder conviction to manslaughter.” This week, his murder verdict was reinstated. 

Nicole encouraged many of her petition signers to take to the streets of Brisbane in a rally led by TV personality Lisa Wilkinson that said: violence against women should never be excused. John Birmingham may call it ‘mob rule.’ We prefer to call it ‘people power.’

4. 12-year-old girl beats her bullies by sparking national anti-bullying movement

“I'm the most unpopular kid at school and people make my life a living hell” wrote Tayla, 12, on her petition which asked: “School bullying is killing me, please help.” 

Following her petition, Tayla’s mum wrote “Tayla is going to print out every caring comment made on her petition and fill her entire wall with them. She reads every one.”

The week after the petition, a Facebook group formed who arranged to meet Tayla from school and walk her home.

Since then, Tayla has inspired other families to speak out against bullying. In a TV special this week, Tayla spoke alongside a family who lost their daughter to suicide following bullying. This sparked a new national anti-bullying movement to do more to tackle this urgent problem in our schools. 

Tayla’s bravery inspired many and she spoke on TV about looking forward to starting a new life in Cairns.

Exclusive Interview With The Blind Teen Who Forever Changed Our Currency

Connor loves drumming, playing computer games and banter with his mum. He doesn’t allow his blindness to hold him back:

“Mum told me that she wishes every day that I wasn't blind. Obviously, blind is blind, but if you don't let it stop you, what's it stopping you from doing? Nothing."

Unlike most 15-year-olds, Connor changed the world today.

The new $5 note, released into circulation today, is Australia’s first ever bank note that blind people can read because it includes tactile markings.

Bruce Maguire, lead policy advisor at Vision Australia, said:

"As a blind person I think this change is one of the most significant — if not the most significant — inclusive actions I've seen in Australia in my lifetime. What really spurred the Reserve Bank on was the petition that Connor McLeod started.”

Connor started the petition after a frustrating Christmas present: “I got some money in a card and had no idea how much it was and how generous or tight-arse the present-giver had been! It was frustrating and slightly embarrassing.”

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He wanted to do something about it:

“If I come across something that doesn’t sound right, I like to do something about it rather than just complain. That’s what the Change.org tool helped me to do. Setting up the petition was the easy bit - convincing the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) was harder, but then I had a squad of 57,000 petition signers to help me persuade them. It felt unlikely they’d listen to a young blind boy. But in the end, they had to.”

Connor’s mum helped him start a petition on Change.org. He was just 12 at the time.

Connor and mum Ally travelled to Canberra to deliver their petition to MPs and win cross-party support, including then Assistant Treasurer Steven Ciobo. They then took the RBA to the High Court. 

These actions, combined with the 57,000 petition signers writing to the RBA to keep the pressure on, resulted in victory.

“Above all, it means I can be independent”, Connor said. “I can’t wait for that. That feels good.”

PS - inspired by Connor’s story, artist Aaron Tyler has re-designed his fun take on Australia’s $5 note, featuring Connor in place of the queen:

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Aaron said: “Connor McLeod isn't a legend because he’s blind, he’s a legend because he saw an injustice and took action to make it right. Despite being told there’d be no tactile markings for blind people, he garnered support on Change.org. Next get the new fiver in your change, feel the new bumps, and think about how Connor has changed our banknotes forever. His spot on Straya Cash is a recognition of his ripper idea.”

CLICK to share Connor's inspirational story with friends and family.

These Petitions Uncovered A Shameful Bullying Epidemic In Australian Schools - Here’s What Happened Next

Australia's bullying epidemic is finally being exposed. Desperate pleas from a 12 year old girl and a grieving mum whose daughter was bullied to death is putting the issue on the agenda. 

It's even inspired SBS journalist Patrick Abboud to air a special investigation: "I was severely bullied at school and Tayla's story really resonated with me because of my own experience."

The piece is heart-wrenching – and the scale of bullying is shocking. But this expose wouldn't of happened without the bravery of Tayla and Melinda in speaking up. Watch the story: 

3 people die every week in Australia due to bullying. Melinda Graham is speaking out about her daughter Jessica being bullied to death last Christmas. She was just 14 years old.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. We arrived home to silence with Pepsi (Jessie’s dog) laying on her bed and what came next was unimaginable. Jack and I were about to find my baby chook gone. She left us. There was no life left.” Melinda says.

Melinda says this crisis demands a response from politicians – and 30,000 people have signed her petition calling for new anti-bullying laws.

“Bullying pushed my baby over the edge. Jessie got bullied to the extent that threatening messages - death threats - were actually sent to myself and my daughter. They would ring her, say horrible things, then hang up. We need to stand up and do what we can and keep fighting to stop bullies from doing what they do without consequence.

“I am angry and hurt and a lot of other things - my life will never be the same. I will continue to fight for Jessie. Each and every day I will get up and keep going to fight to criminalise bullying in Australia - to stop the perpetrators of this awful crime for getting away with it.

Click here to sign Melinda's petition calling on NSW Government to make bullying a criminal offence to stop perpetrators like those who bullied her daughter from going unpunished.

Tens of thousands of people are joining campaigns to end bullying in Australian schools on Change.org - find them here as part of Melinda's wider movement on Change.org.

The 5 ways a 16 year old made the Government act on dairy farmer crisis

When the news broke that Murray Goulburn was to slash milk prices RETROSPECTIVELY, leaving them thousands in debt, it shattered dairy farmers. Including 16 year old Chloe’s dad.

Today, the Prime Minister is meeting with one of Australia’s largest milk producer to intervene on the ongoing crisis leaving farmers bankrupt and forced to sell their farms. Here’s how 16 year old Chloe made the Government start listening:

1. An upset Chloe jumped on Change.org and started a petition

She asked the government to help stop “greedy corporates ruining Aussie farmers”:

2. Chloe bravely spoke to national media about her petition

One presenter called her a ‘refreshingly innocent’ voice on this political issue

3. The Deputy Prime Minister called Chloe

Barnaby Joyce called to explain how he could help, but she didn’t think his response was good enough

4. Chloe took her message to a rally with thousands of Australians

She continued to push for a solid solution for dairy farmers

5. AND met with key politicians

They agreed to back her petition and voice their support

VICTORY: with over 160,000 change.org users putting pressure on the Deputy PM, a $550 million emergency relief package for struggling dairy farmers was announced.

Today the Prime Minister is talking to the big corporate bosses responsible for the milk price cuts to ensure longer term solutions are in place for fair farm gate pricing in support of Aussie farmers.

The supermarkets are also feeling the heat to play their part in supporting dairy farmers and stop selling $1 own brand milk - you can sign David’s petition for Cole and Woolies to introduce a 20c milk levy here.

Show your support for dairy farmers by sharing this story below.