We have a planet to save and a world to win!
Socialist responses to the crises of our times
Have your say at the 2nd SEARCH National
Members Forum – 27-28 May 2023, Sydney
The 2022 SEARCH AGM endorsed the Committee’s proposals to hold a National Members Forum in the first half of 2023 and to review and update the SEARCH Policy Framework statement adopted 14 years ago at the 2008 AGM. The Committee has drawn up proposals and a schedule for implementing these decisions and is circulating these to members for information and comment.
Why are we bringing members together in the 2nd National Members Forum?
Human civilisation faces the potentially existential catastrophes of climate change, ecosystem collapse, and destructive wars that could spiral into nuclear conflagration; inequalities of wealth and power are growing to obscene levels; and social injustices abound in even the most developed countries.
The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated humanity’s interrelationships and interactions with the natural world of which we are a part, and the crucial importance of social responses and the public sector to such crises. The lingering effects of the Global Financial Crisis and continuing instability of the financial system are imposing hardships on the poor and disadvantaged, and exacerbating a housing crisis for both mortgage holders and renters.
Neoliberal capitalism has spawned and entrenched the growth of giant corporations that dominate national and global economic systems and exert enormous power on social and political systems. The destructive power of fossil-fuel, armaments and social-media corporations are glaring examples.
This corporate power, and other aspects of political systems world-wide, are preventing, distorting or derailing the policies and actions that are urgently required to address the interlinked crises of the global system.
The rise of reactionary right-wing ‘populist’ movements and parties, and of authoritarian governments based on such ideologies, threatens democracy and peace, and presents further obstacles to the policies and actions that are needed to resolve the threats of climate change, poverty and war.
We will meet to discuss these global challenges, the international and local responses to them, and SEARCH’s role in contributing to the development of a durable and effective socialist movement in Australia, and to left and progressive movements campaigning for more radical reforms in the context of a Labor government that will be have been in office for a year when the Forum convenes.
With the crucial Voice Referendum due later this year, our continuing support for the Voice Treaty Truth campaign will be a major focus. Support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for ‘Voice Treaty Truth’ was a key outcome of our First National Members Forum in 2017. A resounding YES vote in the Referendum will be a crucial first step towards redressing the shameful injustices of the colonisation and dispossession of First Nations peoples who never ceded their sovereignty, and will provide one important foundation for the nation to address the Treaty and Truth planks of the Uluru Statement.
More generally, our 2023 Forum should critically consider progress in implementing other key outcomes of the 2017 National Members Forum that saw SEARCH as a linking, enabling and educational organisation for socialist activists across parties, movements and campaigns.
Outcomes and aims of the National Members Forum
Now is the time to come together, appraise the world as it is now, and determine our goals for the years ahead. This year’s National Members Forum is an opportunity to:
- Connect and reconnect socialist activists from across the continent
- Learn, discuss and workshop socialist perspectives on current issues, causes and campaigns
- Continue the discussion on reviewing and renewing the SEARCH Policy Framework that was adopted at the 2008 AGM
- Reach broad agreement about the role that SEARCH should play that others don’t or won’t, and what our priorities should be given our human and material resources
- Discuss how to promote and develop SEARCH.
As with the 2017 National Members Forum, the 2023 Forum outcomes will be:
- Circulated to members
- Referred to the SEARCH Committee as guidelines for decisions and actions
- Form the basis for proposals to go to the 2023 SEARCH AGM.
Key Themes and Issues
The key themes for the Forum are:
- socialist responses to the crises of our times
- SEARCH’s role in contributing to the development of a durable and effective socialist movement in Australia including analysis of the first year of the federal Labor government and
- the role of left and progressive movements in campaigning for more radical policies and reforms, and responding to the rise of the far right and other reactionary forces.
The related topics below will be the subjects of panel sessions and workshops:
- Voice Treaty Truth – justice for Indigenous First Nations peoples
- Redressing Economic Inequality
- Climate crisis and ecological collapse
- Struggles against patriarchal domination: women’s rights, LGBTQI
- An independent foreign policy, peace and solidarity movements in our region
Program and Format
The National Members Forum will be a weekend of inspiring keynote speakers, panels and workshops, all aimed at addressing the themes and topics mentioned above.
Reinforcing our focus on building the case for a Yes vote in the upcoming Voice referendum, we are delighted to announce that Thomas Mayo will be delivering the first keynote address of the National Members Forum. In order to generate a healthy discussion, members will be asked a broad set of questions to keep in mind as they engage in their deliberations. For example:
- How do we appraise the current situation? This can include analysis of the main political forces and their strengths and weaknesses, the key institutions and organisations, decision makers and advocates for change, plus the prevailing policies and proposals for change
- What are some short-term priorities to get movement on this issue? What can socialists do now?
- What are long-term goals that will lead to transformation?
- What level of priority is it for SEARCH to be involved in the existing campaigns for transformation?
- How does this fit into a renewed SEARCH policy framework or values statement and other documents that outline the vision, goals and policies of SEARCH?
Both at state/regional meetings prior to the Forum, and at the National Members Forum itself, members will be able to help shape SEARCH’s priorities for the years ahead and help to shape socialist responses to the great challenges of our times.
Keep an eye out for the draft program including announcements of other keynote speakers in the weeks to come.
Lead-up events and discussions
In the lead up to the National Members Forum, SEARCH has organised several regional and online workshops with the aim of gaining members perspectives and feedback on the priorities and themes of the Forum.
Members at these pre-meetings will be asked to focus on one theme in particular, such as Voice Treaty Truth, Climate, economic inequality etc.
Members will also be invited to contribute their views in written form, for publication on our website and distribution to members.
The National Members Forum and the SEARCH Policy Framework
Members will be also be asked to contribute their thoughts on a renewed SEARCH Policy Framework, last adopted at the 2008 AGM. The new Policy Framework (potentially with a new title) will then be further developed and taken to the 2023 AGM.
Or call the SEARCH office if you need any help registering.
Dates for pre-meetings
Premeetings will be held on the following dates
NSW - Weds 29 March, 6pm
SA, WA and NT - Monday 20 March, 6pm Central
Queensland – Saturday 25 March, 11am – 1pm, Qld time
Victoria – Thursday 30 March, 5:30 - 7:30pm AEDT
Further details on venues, dates and times for the members meetings will be included in attached and subsequent emails and notices.