We Decide Together
FoE Australia is a national federation composed of autonomous member groups, organising and campaigning from a climate justice perspective. Each member of the FoE Australia Federation must meet a certain membership criteria to have full voting rights, must actively participate in the federation, abide by our aims and objectives and report back annually to the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
You can read our annual reports here.
FoE Australia member groups are autonomous and are self-managing in terms of their campaigns, organising strategies, fundraising and democratic decision making structures. FoEA member groups co-operate on specific campaigns and projects at a level they feel is appropriate. For an individual to become part of FoE Australia they must join a member group.
Consensus Decision Making
For nearly fifty years, FoE Australia has developed and held firm to some core philosophies, practices and approaches, to the endearment of many and the frustration of a few. However, holding true to our philosophy has provided the foundations for FoE's grassroots community based activism and continues to guide our organising work, which is why to this day we still use a consensus based decision making model.
Consensus is the idea that the group is best served if all members of the group agree to a given course of action.The standard decision-making model used in social organisations has tended over time to be that where a Chairperson seeks a simple majority, upon which a decision is carried. To achieve this the Chairperson calls for a motion, then for speakers for and against that motion, after which a vote is taken. Many social change groups from the 1960s onwards decided that that process too often meant that almost half of a group ended up feeling left out. Groups were fairly easy to “stack” and adopted consensus models.
Consensus differs from the standard decision-making model in that where there is conflict over a course of action, the solution is not found by competitively adopting one over the other, but by seeking a course of action that either encapsulates the best of all proposals under consideration, or else is sufficiently good that everyone feels sufficiently good about it. In this process dissent is also valued as it helps the collective refine discussion and proposals until consensus is reached. Consensus does not necessarily mean everyone getting what they want and it requires patience and a willingness to sometimes compromise our individual ideas and to prioritise what is best for the collective.
Key decisions are made at the national meeting and the AGM, which are generally held respectively in the first and last quarter of the year. The federation also has the capacity to make decisions online via ballot between members and we utilise various communication structures and platforms to keep member groups informed during the year. FoEA places great value on participatory decision making systems and internal information resource sharing through the Federation commons.