A post mortem of the Voice referendum reveals the government failed to listen to the people and address their concerns, a pattern that seems to persist despite promises to the contrary.
Over the course of the campaign the "no" vote continued to gain traction yet the "yes" camp did nothing to advocate for their position outside of vague promises and ham-fisted appeals to emotion.
Everyone has lost touch with the art of advocacy from MPs to not-for-profit groups, and we are all worse off for it.
As pundits continue to dissect where it all went wrong, the lack of finesse and lack of courage in organisations' attempts at advocacy is a sadly standout feature.
Over the past decade and more significantly in the last couple of years, an uncomfortable trend has emerged where politicians' and organisations' attempts to speak on behalf of their members have been tinged with fear.
Not only do they have to compete with the trend or agenda of the day, they are increasingly having to deal with vested interests from the source of their funds or power.
The underlying causes of this issue have always existed, but today they are more amplified than ever. The financial dependency of many organisations have left them vulnerable to their donors, rendering them reluctant to take positions that are thought to be too radical or controversial.
Rather than risk alienating donors, backers and powerbrokers, advocacy groups and politicians have chosen to court mainstream appeal. With the intense fear of backlash looming over their heads, these groups are increasingly less likely to challenge the status quo.
This is why when a member's constituent's needs contradicts or is opposed to the interests of the party or donors, radio silence often ensues from the elected representative.
A NSW ICAC survey indicates that the federal government is trusted by just 31 per cent of the population. Sixty per cent of Aussies believe that the honesty and integrity of politicians is very low. Their biggest grievance is that politicians aren't accountable for broken promises and don't deal with the issues that really matter.
Organisations and politicians are specifically chosen to represent people who don't have a voice, but time and time again they neglect their duties for political expediency. It's no surprise that trust has plummeted so low.
The result is the chasm between the rich and poor, the haves and have nots gets wider and wider. Those who need good advocacy need it most when they're standing up against large companies and governments.
A case in point is the housing crisis where renters have few rights and people are locked out of the housing market and must fight against the powers of foreign investment and institutional wealth. Their need for secure and affordable housing have been ignored and met with either resistance or even silence from their elected representatives.
There is a deep disconnect between people and institutions, and this is exacerbated by the failure of those institutions to advance their interests. Sadly it's up to every individual to push organisations and politicians to rearrange their priorities.
With their future on the line from the interests of their business to their income and their family, Australians must not allow organisations to shirk their responsibilities.
Before joining an advocacy group or any organisation, Australians must ask the CEO and board what they're doing to benefit their members.
Ask them what conversations they're having, what public statements are they putting out to advocate for their members? We need to understand that advocacy isn't necessarily fighting against any person or cause but it is about acting in their members' best interests.
If they're part of an advocacy group Aussies need to ask if the group is actually advocating for them or if they're being dictated to by corporations and the government.
They need to take action by leaving the organisation if they're not up to scratch and finding a better alternative.
They should contact their local member and get others to do so. If the representative doesn't reply, let the community know. Social media is a powerful tool to hold politicians and organisations accountable.
Lastly, if their elected officials aren't doing the job well enough I encourage Australians to put their hand up to replace them.
Advocacy may be a dying art, but nothing changes if we're not prepared to act. Taking a proactive approach is the only way to ensure our voices are heard, our rights are protected, and our priorities reflect the collective will and aspirations of all Australians.
- Amanda Rose, founder of Entrepreneurial & Small Business Women Australia.