Here's a step-by-step guide of writing a letter to your MP

We all have at least one topic that we feel really passionate about, and some of us might be wondering how we can influence our politicians to feel strongly about it too. At 1 Million Women, one of our primary goals is to engage with politicians from all sides to represent us when we ask for stronger action on climate. Some politicians may feel out of reach, but there are ways to get your voice heard – including writing a physical letter.

If you're feeling overwhelmed about where to start, what to write, and who to address it to, just know that many are in the same boat, myself included. Remember that it is your right to hold your Member of Parliament (MP) to account because they have a responsibility to represent you – letter writing is an effective way of letting them know what their voters value and want. It'll only take 5-10 minutes, I promise!

Who do I write to?

You can use this page to look for your local member. Contacting your local MP is most effective, but you can also try reaching the Senators of your state or the Minister whose portfolio is most relevant to your interest (in our case, it would be the Environment Minister or Energy Minister).

Ensure that you use the correct title and address to contact your MP. If you're feeling confused, this page has pre-written mail labels in the document named 'Mail Labels for Members: All Members Electorate Offices" that you can easily replicate.

Starting your letter

Firstly, in the top left corner of your letter, set out your MP's name and address. Generally, MPs should be addressed 'Mr/Mrs/Dr/Ms, first name initial, last name, MP' here. For senators, address them with 'Senator First name Last name'. For instance:

Dr A. Aly MP

Member for Cowan

PO Box 219

Kingsway WA 6065

MPs or Senators who have previously been Government Ministers are given the title 'The Honourable'. For MPs, their title becomes 'The Hon. First Name Last Name MP' and for Senators, they should be addressed as 'Senator the Hon. First Name Last Name'. Start your letter with: 'Dear Sir/Madam' or 'Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr Last name' for MPs, and 'Dear Senator Last Name' for Senators.

Introduce Yourself

In the first paragraph of your letter, you should introduce yourself and briefly summarise why you're writing to your MP (for example, you could word it like "I am writing because I am concerned about…" or "I am writing to urge your support/opposition to…"). It's also important to state that you are a constituent (voter) if you live in their electorate as MPs tend to prioritise the people they are meant to represent. It might also be useful to state any relevant connections you have to your local community – do you attend a youth group or a Rotary organisation? Do you work for a certain business or attend a school locally?

Remember, keep it brief

Your letter should be concise, so keep it to one or two pages at maximum! Remember, your MP is likely to get a lot of letters so sending them a really long letter might not be the most effective way of getting their attention.

You can include an additional document if you need to attach extra information, or simply refer your MP to a website or book where they can do further research. Ideally, you should type your letter and sign it by hand, or it should be written very neatly to ensure its readability.

What do I write about?

1. Personalise your letter

Organisations often provide supporters with prewritten letters to send to their MPs for a campaign. While these are great, a passionate and personal letter is impactful. It can be intimidating to know the tone in which you should be talking to your MP, but it's important to write about your chosen topic in your own words. Include any relevant personal anecdotes related to these issues, if you have any, to help emphasise your points. For example, how does fossil fuel projects affect your community? Were you personally impacted by heatwaves? These are powerful stories to share with your politician. If you know that you want to write about climate action but are unsure about the specific issue to discuss, our website and social media platforms are a great place to start.

2. Outline 3 points about your chosen topic

Focus on three important points that will persuade your MP to back your position – keep it short and sweet! You can talk about the scientific, economic, or moral implications of supporting/opposing the cause at hand after writing about your personal stories. Utilise scientific data to strengthen your argument and convince your politician of the need for urgent action.

3. Ask for concrete action

Thank your MP if they've already taken positive action in this area. Then, clearly articulate what you need from them – this could specifically look like voting for or against something in Parliament, attending a local event, raising concern at a local party meeting, and more. If you're unsure about what exactly an MP can do for you, refer to this page. Most importantly, you should ask them for a response to your letter.

Though the response letter will probably be a form letter issued by their political party, your letter might just plant a seed for them to take action behind the scenes or reconsider their party's position, especially when amplified by other letters.

Be polite

While you should definitely be firm about what you're advocating for and what you need from your elected representatives, remember that your MPs and their staff are also human. Be polite and respectful instead of insulting them in your letter even if they have previously made comments or stances that you disagree with. Offensive language or crude remarks are unlikely to draw people closer to wanting to understand your point of view – if anything, they do the exact opposite.

Follow up!

If you still haven't heard back from your MP after a month, it might be a good idea to call their office to remind them about your letter. Ask them when you will receive a response. If they don't pick up, try again in 2 weeks. Be persistent and polite – know that your MP has an obligation to communicate with you!

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