What’s on?

As part of the global gathering, the Sydney Policy Lab, in collaboration with partners such as the Sydney Alliance and Queensland Community Alliance, will stage a two-day retreat and exchange between researchers and citizen leaders, as well as a number of additional engagements ranging from public talks, workshops, and events for both University staff and the wider Sydney community.

A short overview is below – follow the links for more detailed information on how to participate and register. More engagements will be added in due course.


Tuesday 22 October | 10.00-11.30am

Winning on Housing & Micro-organising

Speaker: Jonathan Cox

Trades Hall
Room 4-8
4-8 Goulburn St, Sydney CBD

RSVP to anjana.kc@myacu.edu.au

Hosted by the Sydney Alliance Housing Team, Jonathan Cox will share the stories and methods from Citizens UK. Stopping rental evictions of social housing tennants with micro organising. Winning campaigns that saw affordable housing built at London Olympic Park.

Citizens UK has trained thousands of everyday people (and housing professionals) in the art of organising their communities, moving their politicians and delivering concrete outcomes.

Thursday 24 October | 10:30am-11:30am

Amnesty & Refugee Wins

Speaker: Jonathan Cox

Parramatta venue TBC

RSVP to chantelle@sydneyalliance.org.au

UK Citizens & Sydney Alliance People Seeking Asylum Team. Talk with Jonathan Cox, Deputy Director and Lead Organiser for Citizens Cymru Wales

Thursday 24 October | 1:00pm-2:00pm

Organising, Power, and the Social Determinants of Health

Speaker: Joe Chrastil

Carslaw Lecture Theatre 173, University of Sydney

Organised by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Sydney Policy Lab

Registration via PHAA here

The conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age have huge effects on us – they determine how healthy or unhealthy we are. Fundamentally, this has to do with the unequal distribution of money, power and resources. How can we take action to avoid severe health inequities? How can we improve health policy and care, how can we widen participation and give people the opportunity to be a part of decision-making?

Community organiser Joe Chrastil will give an interactive talk based on his experiences with community organising to influence health equity in Western Canada and the Northwest US, as well as in supporting organisers in Sydney, Brisbane and New Zealand. Joe will give insights from his 39 years experience working with communities and conducting successful campaigns around what we now understand to be the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). The focus will be on how individuals, organisations and communities can build “power with” and take action alongside those most impacted by the SDoH.

Friday 25 October | 10:00am-12:00pm

Organising, Power, and the Social Determinants of Health

Speaker: Joe Chrastil

Charles Perkins Centre Research and Education Hub, Seminar room 1.4

Organised by the Public Health Association of Australia and the Sydney Policy Lab

Registration via PHAA here

This hands-on workshop follow on Thursday’s talk. It focusses on organising and power as critical concepts to build positive actions that address the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH).

The session will focus on the practical application of key organising concepts – both in the building and exercising of power to bring about positive change. Participants are encouraged to bring along specific questions about the challenges they are facing in addressing problems impacting health equity (anything from big policy issues like climate change or refugee advocacy to local initiatives like providing healthy housing or food).

Friday 25 October | 1:30pm for 2:00pm-5:00pm

So You Think That You Organise?

Speakers include:

  • Jonathan Cox, Deputy Director of Citizens UK
  • Alison Rudman, Senior Organiser with the Manufacturing Division of the CFMEU
  • George Wood from Lock the Gate
  • Organisers working with the Climate Strikers
  • Others to be confirmed

The University of Sydney Business School
eminar room 3310

RSVP via Eventbrite

“Community organising” and “organising” are in vogue. Whether you are an issue based activist organisation, a more traditional broad based community organisation, a union or running an election campaign – it seems everyone wants to ‘organise’ people.

What exactly do we mean when we say “organising”? Do we actually mean the same thing? Across all this different practice are there ways we can we learn from each other – by drawing out what is similar between us, but also what we do differently?

Sunday 27 October | from 2:30pm

Welcome drinks

The Squire’s Landing, Northern end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay W, The Rocks.

Map here

Join us for a drink and meet other international and Australian delegates while enjoying beautiful Sydney Harbour views.

* This event is by invitation only

Monday 28 – Tuesday 29 October | 8:30am-5:00pm

8.30am breakfast for start at 9.00am sharp

Transforming Our Cities – Strategies, Stories, Politics, Diffusion

Seminar room 203, RD Watt Building, Science Road, University of Sydney

* This event is by invitation only

This two-day retreat is an intensive workshop that will explore the key dilemmas, goals and strategies that we can use to change our cities.

In the room will be a handpicked collection of organisers, academics and leaders from cities as diverse as Hong Kong, Cape Town, Barcelona, Seattle, Austin, Sydney, Brisbane and London.

Together we will learn from each other and build new knowledge about how we change our cities.

More information here.

Monday 28 October | 6:00pm-8:00pm

Retreat Dinner at Thai Pothong

294 King Street, Newtown 2042

Join us for dinner at a popular Thai restaurant institution in Newtown!

* This event is by invitation only

 Tuesday 29 October | from 6:00pm

SOCIAL (optional)
Dinner at the Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen

74 Rose Street, Chippendale 2008

 We’ll be having dinner at the Duck Inn if you’re at a loose end tonight!

* This event is by invitation only


Wednesday 30 October | 10.00am-12.00

Rehearsal for public action ‘The Rise of the City?’

Seminar room 203, RD Watt Building, Science Road, University of Sydney

Rehearsal for all speakers and floor team
Wednesday 30 October | 3.00pm-4.50pm

Rehearsal for public action ‘The Rise of the City?’

Everest Theatre
Seymour Centre
Cnr City Road and Cleveland Street, Chippendale 2008

Rehearsal for all speakers and floor team


Wednesday 30 October | 6:00pm for 6:30pm-8:00pm

Power, Hope and Social Change: The Rise of the City?


  • Bonnie Leung, Civil Human Rights Front, Hong Kong — organising lead on million person marches
  • Nkosikhona Swaartbooi, Reclaim the City, Cape Town — leading housing campaigner
  • Jonathan Cox, Citizens UK — leading campaigner for living wage, housing and safer communities
  • Joe Chrastil, Industrial Areas Foundation, USA — veteran community organiser and public health campaigner
  • Kurt Iveson, Sydney Policy Lab — research lead, urban geographer, trade unionist
  • Amanda Tattersall, Sydney Policy Lab — research lead, host of Changemakers podcast, co-founder Sydney Alliance and GetUp!

Everest Theatre at The Seymour Centre, Cnr City Road and Cleveland Street, Chippendale 2008

Register via Eventbrite

The world’s liberal democracies are faltering. Climate change is an unrelenting threat.

So, where do we turn for hope?

From Hong Kong to London, Cape Town to Barcelona–the Sydney Policy Lab’s 2019 annual event will take us on a roller-coaster of social change storytelling. Hear some of the most exciting campaigners in the world today.

Listening to campaigners and organisers from across the world, we will explore what it is about cities that can make them powerful spaces for creative social change, and identify what works in city-based campaigning.

They will share their experiences, telling us what’s happening in their city, how they are building powerful movements for real change, what lessons they have learnt, and where they find hope.

Their inspiring, challenging and provoking stories will leave you thinking in new ways about how you too can make big change here in Sydney, helping to secure social and climate justice in our city.

Thursday 31 October | 9:00am-5:00pm

Organising Our Universities

Seminar room 203, RD Watt Building, Science Road, University of Sydney

RSVP to lisa.fennis@sydney.edu.au

* This event is by invitation only


How can community organising and relational culture transform the University?

This intimate workshop brings together people working in or with Universities in the UK, Australia and US who are experimenting with community organising inside University grounds and into the community: through collaborative research, student programs, staff training, widening participation and life on campus more broadly.

We will take time to learn from each other about current organising efforts – the purpose, scope and ambition of each initiative, and the methods and approaches.

Thursday 31 October | from 6:00pm

SOCIAL (optional)
Dinner at Forest Lodge Hotel

117 Arundel Street, Forest Lodge 2037

Dinner and drinks at a nearby pub, locally known as ‘the Flodge’.

 This event is by invitation only

Friday 1 November | 10:00am-5:00pm

How Can  Cities Help Us Win? The Geography of Social Change 

Venue: Sydney Policy Lab
Seminar Room 203, RD Watt Building, Science Road, University of Sydney

Register via Eventbrite



Place is either the best friend or a sworn enemy of those fighting for social change.

In the Your Rights at Work campaign 30 marginal seats were organised in Australia’s largest place-based organising strategy. City centres in Australia and across the world are flagship sites for our large demonstrations. Yet at the same time, when deep decentralised movements criss-cross our neighbourhoods they can generate a breadth of support – like the Marriage Equality postal ballot.

How do we use and leverage the geography of cities to build our power? What might we learn from original and radical interventions in cities elsewhere in the world?

This workshop features organisers and activists from five continents who are sharing stories and insights from organising campaigns they have run – on issues ranging from affordable housing to democracy and a living wage.

And we will welcome organisers from around Australia who are geography curious – interested in knowing when, why and how we can harness the power of organising in cities, for issue campaigns and organising strategies.

Together, we will reflect on both their experiences and ours.


Friday 1 November | from 5pm

Post-workshop drinks at Tandem

127 King St Newtown 2042

Wind down with your fellow participants at an intimate Newtown hotspot, Tandem.

* This event is by invitation only

Tuesday 5 November | 12.00-1.30pm

Scholar Activism

Speaker: Paul Routledge

Location TBC

RSVP to policy.lab@sydney.edu.au


This workshop will provide an interactive forum for postgraduates and early career researchers to discuss the challenges and opportunities of scholar-activism in the context of the neoliberal university.

In part the workshop will utilise theatre of the oppressed techniques to inspire students to think through their bodies.