The issue of being able to provide input into campaigns isn’t discussed very often and it’s more or less assumed that it’s ok for community sector workers to participate in this form of advocacy.
However, it’s reasonable if as a worker, you’re hesitant to get involved because you’re unsure about your right to express your political opinion in the workplace.
According to the Fair Work Act 2009 an employer can’t discriminate against a person for expressing their political opinion. What is more likely to cause a dispute with employers, is the way people choose to express their opinions.
As a homelessness or housing worker funded through the Specialist Homelessness Service, you’re likely to receive campaign information from the Loddon Mallee Homelessness Network that asks you to send a letter to your local MP.
These letters are usually composed by one of our peak bodies, such as Council to Homeless Persons or the Community Housing Industry Association of Victoria, so they contain factual information, seeking action to help stop unfair practices or implement positive policies that impact on people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
While, these types of campaigns align with your work practices and the values of your organisation, they may not align with your own personal views, so you are never obliged to participate in campaigning, it’s your choice.
The opportunity to contribute to positive social change outside of our day to day roles is one that should be valued though and it is hoped that you will take the opportunity to advocate on behalf of people who may not have the power to enact social change themselves.
In closing, it’s worth noting that where expression of political or other opinions related to the work place are likely to become contentious are cases where workers express their opinions in a public forum (Eg: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, discussion boards) and cause damage the reputation of an organisation, breach client confidentiality or damage the reputation of another employee.