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Getup logo-7878b5baf632a35e83f40954d51b141e 2.svg
GetUp! Logo
Formation 2005
Headquarters Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

GetUp! is an Australian progressive activist group.[1] It was launched in August 2005. It relies on donations from individuals, organisations, unions and community groups for funding.


Founded by Jeremy Heimans, David Madden, and Amanda Tattersall [2] with funding from George Soros,[3][4] the website was launched on 1 August 2005 along with a television advertising campaign. GetUp's initial campaign aimed to help voters to "keep the Howard Government accountable" after it won a majority of seats in the Australian Senate on 9 August 2005, following the Australian federal election, 2004.[5] GetUp! encouraged visitors to send an email to Coalition senators that read "I'm sending you this message because I want you to know that I'm watching. Now that you have absolute power in the Senate, it is only people like me who can hold you accountable. And we will."[6]

In March 2011, Getup! endorsed the controversial decision of the Gillard Labor Government to break its 2010 Election promise not to introduce a carbon tax as a means of addressing Australia's contribution to carbon emissions.[7]

Simon Sheikh was the National Director of GetUp! from September 2008 (at the age of 22) to July 2012.

Sam McLean was the National Director of GetUp! from July 2012 (at the age of 24) to July 2015.[8]

Paul Oosting is the current GetUp! National Director.


GetUp is a non-profit organisation,[9] registered as GetUp Ltd.[10] In the vein of, much of the organisation's funding comes in the form of small contributions made through its website.[citation needed] Under Australia's taxation regime, donations to GetUp are not considered tax-deductible as the organisation advocates for changes to government policy.[11]


While GetUp's primary methodology to date has been to encourage its membership to email or call their elected representatives, the organisation has also employed a range of campaigning techniques, such as taking out advertisements in major daily newspapers, holding local events,[12] running television commercials, and hiring a skywriter to write "Vote No" above Australia's Parliament House in Canberra.[13] According to the Sydney Morning Herald the organisation generates a lot of standardised form letters that may be characterised as spam. GetUp! says it encourages users to write personal, hand-crafted letters.[14]


In 2007 the Australian Electoral Commission warned GetUp! that it felt its how-to-vote website was "misleading and deceptive", because it always recommended against voting for Coalition candidates, since they did not provide information to GetUp for the online tool.[15]

In 2010, GetUp! placed full page ads in The New York Times and The Washington Times in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and condemning calls for violence against him.[16]

In 2011, GetUp! campaigned to create a permanent Climate Natural Disaster Fund funded by reduction of fossil fuel subsidies[17] and released a video supporting same-sex marriage starring Julian Shaw entitled It's Time that was described by The Advocate as "possibly the most beautiful ad for marriage equality we've seen."[18]

In 2012 GetUp! campaigned with Australian Marriage Equality for same-sex marriage by sending 3,000 roses to federal politicians on Valentines Day[19] and by hosting a dinner for three same-sex couples with the Prime Minister.[20] GetUp! also had a Marriage Matters float in the Sydney Mardi Gras.[21] In Queensland, GetUp! commissioned a response to a controversial anti-gay marriage advertisement.[22] In response to Catholic bishops in Victoria asking their parishioners to campaign against same sex marriages, Simon Sheikh of GetUp! said, "every time they act, they only entice our members to do even more".[23] In May 2012, "GetUp slams PM Gillard" for not following the lead of President Obama on marriage equity.[24] In June 2012, at events in Sydney and Melbourne, GetUp! joined with Marie Claire and Sunrise to show support for marriage equality and "everybody's right to say 'I Do'".[25]

During a campaign in 2012 considerable criticism of GetUp! was generated after they claimed the timber used in the furniture sold by Australian retailer, Harvey Norman contributes to the destruction of Australia's native forests. In response, the Furniture Industry Association of Australia said that, "Get Up! are effectively campaigning for rainforest destruction in other countries instead of sustainably harvested Australian timber".[26] David Penberthy writing in The Punch says, "there have been a lot of dumb campaigns launched over the years but this one is hands down the stupidest thing I have ever seen."[27] The Minister for Manufacturing, Kim Carr has said, "the GetUp! 'No Harvey No' campaign runs the risk of deterring people from buying Australian-made furniture and supporting Australian jobs".[26]

In August 2015, emergency services were called to the office of Craig Laundy MP, a federal Liberal party member who blocked a free vote on same-sex marriage. Mr. Laundy was one of a number of MPs who received an envelope containing glitter from the organization, as a protest to the dissents. Laundy later called it a "stupid stunt". [28]

In October 2015, GetUp! unreservedly apologised to US Rapper Chris Brown for their visa-denial campaign after GetUp! said their campaign, "played into a harmful, racist narrative".[29]

During the 2016 federal election GetUp! ran a successful campaign targeting the Coalition's more conservative MP's. Part of the campaign involved volunteers calling voters in marginal electorates. 45,000 conversations were had with 18,000 of these being with voters in Bass which was the seat of Andrew Nikolic who was not reelected. Other targeted MP's included Peter Dutton, George Christensen and Louise Markus.

In November 2016 in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, GetUp! lobbied for information on all political donations over $500 to be made publicly available and also advocated for a ban on foreign donations to Australian political parties.[30] However, during the inquiry it was determined GetUp! had accepted more than $300,000 in foreign donations over the past two years.[31]

Prioritising campaigns[edit]

A 2015 survey of GetUp! members showed they wanted the organisation to focus on refugees, fossil fuels and climate change, and coal developments near the Great Barrier Reef.[8] In the survey, members ranked same-sex marriage as 16th priority.[32]

Criticism of GetUp!'s campaigns[edit]

In an article published in 2012, entitled My GetUp has got up and gone, journalist Ben Birchall postulates as to why GetUp! campaigns have not "resonated" for him and concludes, "GetUp's arrival was a breath of fresh air on the political landscape. It might be our fault, but it seems to have gone stale".[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vromen, Ariadne. "New style lobbying: how GetUp! channels Australians' voices into politics". The Conversation. Retrieved 4 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Larissa Dubecki: The mouse-click that roared in The Age 24 February 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  3. ^ "The Left’s foreign donors". The Spectator Australia. 8 October 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Nick Cater. "Incoherent Get Up! just goes along for a disruptive ride". Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "Howard wins control of Senate". The Age. Melbourne. 28 October 2004. 
  6. ^ Andrew Crook: GetUp and its strange but well-heeled bedfellows in Crikey, 4 February 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  7. ^ Massola, James (8 March 2011). "Climate change campaigners back PM amid Newspoll disaster". The Australian. 
  8. ^ a b "GetUp! national director Sam McLean quits". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  9. ^ GetUp!: FAQ. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  10. ^ Australian Government: ABN Lookup. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  11. ^ BEN PACKHAM (22 October 2012). "Former GetUp director Simon Sheikh tilts at senate seat for Greens". The Australian. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Hicks may face two-year delay: Mori". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 August 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Kirk, Alexandra (14 August 2006). "Howard faces defeat on Migration Bill". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  14. ^ Peatling, Stephanie (6 August 2005). "You've seen the future and it (a) works, (b) is just a load of spam". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 January 2007. 
  15. ^ Schneiders, Ben (25 February 2011). "GetUp! warned on how-to-vote site". The Age Melbourne. 
  16. ^ "GetUp gets behind Assange". 9 December 2010. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "Safeguard our future". Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  18. ^ Grinley, Lucas (25 November 2011). "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality We’ve Seen". The Advocate. Retrieved 27 November 2011. [permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Gays send pollies Valentine's Day roses". Herald Sun. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  20. ^ Kerr, Christian (22 February 2012). "Same-sex advocates hope dinner date can sway Gillard on marriage". The Australian. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Every float, every group – Mardi Gras Parade 2012 revealed". Same Same. 25 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012. [permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Brother hits back a ‘homophobic’ ad". Star Observer. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  23. ^ "Gay marriage advocates attack Catholic campaign". ABC - Lateline. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "Obama 'can't change biological truth'". SBS. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  25. ^ "Celebrate your right to say 'I do'". 31 May 2012. Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Ferguson, John (9 February 2012), Kim Carr hammers GetUp! ad campaign, AAP, retrieved 12 February 2012 [permanent dead link]
  27. ^ Penberthy, David (12 February 2012), A campaign without a leg to stand on, The Punch, retrieved 12 February 2012 
  28. ^
  29. ^ Piotrowskif, Daniel (1 October 2015). "GetUp! group that led campaign to ban Chris Brown from Australia now APOLOGISES to singer for 'supporting racist narrative that black men are more violent'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  30. ^ Murphy, Katharine (1 November 2016). "GetUp calls for real-time disclosure of political donations above $500". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  31. ^ Overington, Caroline (21 November 2016). "Activist group GetUp! seeks ban on foreign gifts ’for others’". The Australian. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  32. ^ "Our top campaign issues". 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  33. ^ Ben Birchall (1 March 2012). "My GetUp has got up and gone". ABC, The Drum. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 

External links[edit]