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Getup logo-7878b5baf632a35e83f40954d51b141e 2.svg
GetUp! logo
Formation2005; 16 years ago (2005)
HeadquartersSydney, New South Wales, Australia
1,000,000 (self-claimed)

GetUp! is an independent progressive Australian political activist group.[1] It was launched in August 2005 to encourage Internet activism in Australia, though it has increasingly engaged in offline community organising.[2]

GetUp is an independent, "issue-based" organisation.[1][3] It advocates for progressive public policy change in Australia in the areas of the environment, economy, human rights and democracy.[4] GetUp does not make financial donations to, or receive donations from, registered Australian political parties,[5] and does not run or fund candidates at Australian elections.[6]


Founded by Jeremy Heimans and David Madden,[7] 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 2004 Australian federal election.[8] 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."[9]

Early members of GetUp's board were drawn from across the political spectrum, and included Cate Faehrmann, Bill Shorten (then National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union), former leader of the Liberal Party John Hewson and entrepreneur Evan Thornley.[10]

Brett Solomon was the first Executive Director of GetUp! and served until 2008.

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.[11]

Paul Oosting is the current GetUp! National Director.


GetUp is a non-profit organisation,[12] registered as GetUp Ltd.[13]

GetUp has 70 staff, and an annual budget of about $10 million.[14]

The current Chairman of GetUp is Phil Ireland, Managing Director of the Online Progressive Engagement Network; Deputy Chairman is Carla McGrath, a campaigner on Torres Strait Islander issues. Other members of the Board are Daniel Stone, Director of digital campaign firm Principle Co; Min Guo, a barrister specialising in class actions, human rights and immigration; Stephen Monk, an IT entrepreneur, consultant and software developer; Karen Iles, a human rights lawyer; Sara Saleh, a racial justice and Palestine campaigner; Alex Rafalowicz, a communications manager at; and Lyn Goldsworthy, Executive Officer at the Frank Fenner Foundation, and an environmental activist.[15] Founding members include Australians David Madden and Jeremy Heimans, co-founders of international activist groups Avaaz and Purpose, and Win Back Respect; and Amanda Tattersall, co-founder of Labor for Refugees.[16]


GetUp is funded predominantly by “thousands of small-dollar donations from everyday Australians,” in the vein of similar counterparts in other countries, such as[17][18][19] 97 per cent of donations received by GetUp are for amounts less than $100. All of its donations are listed on its website within 30 days.[20]

Getups initial funding of $50,000 was donated by the Labor Council at the suggestion of Amanda Tattersall. The second major donation was the Australian Workers' Union with $100,000, after which the AWU national secretary Bill Shorten served as a GetUp board member until 2006.[21] GetUps largest donation in its early years was $1.1 million from the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union in 2012. GetUp says it has not received donations from unions since 2012.[20] GetUp no longer makes financial donations to, or receives donations from, registered Australian political parties.[5]

GetUp's 2015 accounts indicate that 4% of its total revenue for the year was received from large individual donations that need to be declared to the Australian Electoral Commission (at the time, any donation above A$13,000).[19] GetUp also noted in its 2015 Annual Report that 11,700 core members donated 45% of the organisation’s annual revenue.

In 2017, GetUp disclosed $217,418 in gifts worth more than $13,200 and used on political expenditure over the year. Approximately $106,000 of this came from overseas sources, including German sister-organisation Campact and Swiss-based Oak Philanthropy.[22] In 2018, GetUp raised more than $11 million in donations.[23]

Under Australia's taxation regime, donations to GetUp are not considered tax-deductible as the organisation advocates for changes to government policy.[24][25][19]


GetUp campaigns for progressive public-policy change in Australia in the areas of the environment, economy, human rights and democracy.[4]

Historically, GetUp has campaigned primarily using digital Internet activism. In recent years, it has also used offline community organising.[2]

The organisation has employed a range of campaign techniques, including:

  • advertising in major daily newspapers in Australia and overseas[26]
  • holding local events[27]
  • running television commercials
  • hiring a skywriter to write "Vote No to Asylum Bill" above Australia's Parliament House in Canberra[28]
  • social media engagement
  • handing out how-to-vote cards

GetUp encourages members to lobby in its campaign areas, and has encouraged its members to pressure Members of Parliament using form letters, automated online emails, and personal, hand-crafted letters.[29]


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 the Coalition did not provide information to GetUp for inclusion in the online tool.[30]

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.[31]

In 2011, GetUp! campaigned to create a permanent Climate Natural Disaster Fund funded by reduction of fossil fuel subsidies[32] 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."[33] 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.[34]

In 2012 GetUp! campaigned with Australian Marriage Equality for same-sex marriage by sending 3,000 roses to federal politicians on Valentines Day[35] and by hosting a dinner for three same-sex couples with the Prime Minister.[36] GetUp! also had a Marriage Matters float in the Sydney Mardi Gras.[37] In Queensland, GetUp! commissioned a response to a controversial anti-gay marriage advertisement.[38] 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".[39] In May 2012, "GetUp slams PM Gillard" for not following the lead of President Obama on marriage equity.[40] 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'".[41]

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".[42]

During the 2016 federal election GetUp! ran a successful campaign targeting the Coalition's more conservative MPs. 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 MPs 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.[43]

In August 2017, a campaign was started on GetUp!'s community campaign platform - CommunityRun - calling on the Australian Medical Association to deregister Dr Pansy Lai,[44] following her appearance in the TV ad for the "No" case for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.[45][46][47][48] GetUp! received dozens of complaints and the petition, and it was taken down after being found to breach CommunityRun's terms and conditions.[49]

During the 2019 Australian federal election, GetUp campaigned against a number of "hard-right" MPs, including Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton. GetUp was reported to have spent up to $4 million on election advertising (mostly focused on specific seats) and distributed 800,000 how-to-vote cards in support of 'key independents', Labor and the Greens.[50] Paul Oosting said GetUp volunteers made 712,039 calls to voters and knocked on 36,315 doors during the campaign. Following the election, GetUp! claimed credit for defeating Tony Abbott.[51] The campaign was widely seen as unsuccessful; Paul Oosting said that GetUp “hadn’t achieved what we set out to achieve,” and GetUp's campaign received criticism from both sides of politics.[52][53][54]

Prioritising campaigns[edit]

GetUp uses "membership surveys, voter polls [and] phone and online consultations" to help determine campaign priorities.[55]

The organisation's 2015 survey showed GetUp members wanted the organisation to campaign on refugees, fossil fuels and climate change, and coal developments near the Great Barrier Reef.[11] In the survey, members ranked same-sex marriage as 16th priority.[56]

In 2019, 92% of respondents to GetUp's annual survey wanted the organisation to "target hard-right MPs who block progress."[57] Almost 30,000 people responded to a subsequent online poll organised by GetUp to identify which "hard-right" MPs they wanted to target at the 2019 federal election.[58]

Critics allege that the organisation misrepresents results of their membership surveys. Liberal Party MP Ben Morton has claimed that raw data from the organisation's 2016 election survey, disclosed to the Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, showed that respondents had nominated different priorities to those that the organisation eventually campaigned on. The group listed "stopping the government handling over billions of dollars every year to big polluters" in its top three issues, yet the survey results did not reflect this.[55] This criticism led The Australian, a conservative newspaper, to allege that "the nine-member board of GetUp! makes all decisions, and that members have no voting rights or say in the direction of the organisation."[16]

Relationship with political parties[edit]

GetUp is not formally aligned with any Australian political party.

The Australian Electoral Commission has found that GetUp is "issue-based rather than supporting or advocating support for a particular registered party political."[3] GetUp argues that it is driven by the values and issues of its supporters, fully independent of party loyalties.[59]

GetUp is an active participant in Australian election campaigns. It runs its own campaigns and does not contribute to or coordinate with candidate campaigns. At recent Australian elections, it has rated candidates based on their position on issues, and then provided voters with how-to-vote cards, often recommending votes for more than one option.[6]

Critics of GetUp, including Liberal Party politicians Eric Abetz, Ben Morton and Peter Dutton, have regularly attacked GetUp's independence since the organisation's effective 2016 election campaign, at various times claiming that the organisation is a "front for the Labor Party",[60] "run by the Greens movement in inner city Melbourne and Sydney",[61] and funded by billionaire George Soros.[62]

GetUp's independent status has been confirmed by the Australian Electoral Commission on three occasions. On each occasion, the AEC's review was initiated at the request of a conservative MP; following a referral by Senator Abetz in 2005,[63] (and again in 2010),[64] and a referral from Ben Morton in 2016.[5][65]

On all three occasions, the AEC found that GetUp did "not appear to be controlled by one or more registered political parties, nor ... to operate wholly or to a significant extent to the benefit of one or more registered political parties."[64] In 2010 the AEC acknowledged that many of GetUp's activities "could be reasonably regarded as of some 'benefit' to the 'left' parties. However, the AEC also note[d] that many of the activities of GetUp! appear to be solely issue-based rather than supporting or advocating support for a particular registered party political."

In 2019, the AEC's determination was supported by the Australian Government Solicitor and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Vromen, Ariadne. "New style lobbying: how GetUp! channels Australians' voices into politics". The Conversation. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b (1 October 2010). "Exclamation politics". The Monthly. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "GetUp! readies for court battle over bid to link it to Labor and the Greens". 23 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b "GetUp! People. Power. Impact". GetUp! People. Power. Impact. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Australian Electorail Commission (18 February 2019). "Investigation Report 2019 - GetUp Limited" (PDF). Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b Davies, Anne (18 April 2019). "Warringah voters complain about free copies of Daily Telegraph as election rancour boils". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  7. ^ Dubecki, Larissa (24 February 2007). "The mouse-click that roared". The Age. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  8. ^ "Howard wins control of Senate". The Age. Melbourne. 28 October 2004. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017.
  9. ^ Crook, Andrew (4 February 2009). "GetUp and its strange but well-heeled bedfellows". Crikey. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  10. ^ (1 October 2010). "Exclamation politics". The Monthly. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  11. ^ a b Cox, Lisa (11 July 2015). "GetUp! national director Sam McLean quits". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 31 May 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  12. ^ "FAQ". GetUp!. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  13. ^ "ABN Lookup". Australian Government. November 2014. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Big business struggles to get GetUp". Australian Financial Review. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  15. ^ "GetUp! People. Power. Impact". GetUp! People. Power. Impact. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  16. ^ a b Norington, Brad Who really runs GetUp?, The Australian, 21 December 2018 [1]
  17. ^ "About Us". GetUp! Action for Australia. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Federal election 2016: How an army of volunteer activists to be". 9 July 2016.
  19. ^ a b c Vromen, Ariadne. "New style lobbying: how GetUp! channels Australians' voices into politics". The Conversation. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Why GetUp! scares the Liberal Party". NewsComAu. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  21. ^ "GetUp's aggressive, progressive tactics may have backfired". 22 May 2019.
  22. ^ "GetUp discloses $106k in foreign donations". SBS News. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  23. ^ Baker, Nick. "What is GetUp and will it sway Australia's federal election?". SBS News. Special Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  24. ^ BEN PACKHAM (22 October 2012). "Former GetUp director Simon Sheikh tilts at senate seat for Greens". The Australian. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  25. ^ "Definitely not a charity: GetUp reworks its constitution". The Australian. 25 October 2018.
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  27. ^ "Hicks may face two-year delay: Mori". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 August 2006. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  28. ^ Kirk, Alexandra (14 August 2006). "Howard faces defeat on Migration Bill". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  29. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2007.
  30. ^ Schneiders, Ben (25 February 2011). "GetUp! warned on how-to-vote site". The Age Melbourne. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011.
  31. ^ "GetUp gets behind Assange". 9 December 2010. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  32. ^ "Safeguard our future". Archived from the original on 9 March 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  33. ^ Grinley, Lucas (25 November 2011). "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality We've Seen". The Advocate. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  34. ^ Massola, James (8 March 2011). "Climate change campaigners back PM amid Newspoll disaster". The Australian.
  35. ^ "Gays send pollies Valentine's Day roses". Herald Sun. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  36. ^ Kerr, Christian (22 February 2012). "Same-sex advocates hope dinner date can sway Gillard on marriage". The Australian. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  37. ^ "Every float, every group – Mardi Gras Parade 2012 revealed". Same Same. 25 February 2012. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  38. ^ "Brother hits back a 'homophobic' ad". Star Observer. 14 March 2012. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  39. ^ "Gay marriage advocates attack Catholic campaign". ABC - Lateline. 30 March 2012. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  40. ^ "Obama 'can't change biological truth'". SBS. 10 May 2012. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  41. ^ "Celebrate your right to say 'I do'". 31 May 2012. Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  42. ^ Cox, Lisa (18 August 2015). "Six fire trucks, six police cars and one hazmat unit investigate glitter envelope sent to Liberal Craig Laundry". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015.
  43. ^ Murphy, Katharine (1 November 2016). "GetUp calls for real-time disclosure of political donations above $500". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  44. ^ "Review the registration of Dr Pansy Lai | CommunityRun". Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  45. ^ Shanahan, Dennis (4 September 2017). "GetUp!-backed petition seeks to deregister doctor from No-case ad". The Australian. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  46. ^ "Petition calls for doctor in 'no' campaign same-sex marriage ad to be deregistered". Yahoo News. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  47. ^ "Petition launched against doctor in 'No' ad". Sky News. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  48. ^ Morgan, Riley. "Same-sex marriage: Petition launched to deregister doctor who appeared in No campaign ad". News. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  49. ^ Mayers (4 September 2017). "Same-sex marriage survey: Petition to deregister Pansy Lai, doctor in No campaign ad, taken down". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  50. ^ Crowe, David (3 May 2019). "GetUp to spend $4 million and hand out 800,000 how-to-vote cards". Sydney Morning Herald.
  51. ^ Northington, Brad (20 May 2019). "GetUp spends millions, fails to oust another other than Abbott". The Australian. GetUp has claimed credit for defeating Tony Abbott in his formerly safe Sydney seat, but the activist group yesterday papered over its failure to topple any other Coalition MPs targeted in a multi-million-dollar campaign to "remove the hard right’s grip on power".
  52. ^ Koslowski, Max (19 May 2019). "'A disastrous campaign': GetUp and unions claim just two seats despite record spend". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  53. ^ Patrick, Aaron (23 May 2019). "GetUp's aggressive, progressive tactics may have backfired". Australian Financial Review.
  54. ^ McGowan, Michael (26 May 2019). "'Hindsight is a wonderful thing': how GetUp's election campaign fell flat". The Guardian.
  55. ^ a b "GetUp and Liberal MP in blame game stoush". SBS News. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  56. ^ "Our top campaign issues". 2015. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  57. ^ "Election Survey 2019". Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  58. ^ "GetUp hard-right survey: Peter Dutton is most unwanted politician". Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  59. ^ Seccombe, Mike (28 October 2017). "Exclusive: Turnbull sought GetUp! help before spill". The Saturday Paper. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  60. ^ "GetUp considered campaigning for Labor". SBS. 29 September 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  61. ^ Remeikis, Amy (16 January 2019). "Peter Dutton tops GetUp's 'hard right' hit list for federal election". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  62. ^ Fleur Anderson; et al. (1 February 2017). "Foreign donors should keep out of Australian politics: Malcolm Turnbull". Financial Review. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  63. ^ "GetUp and Bennelong Institute". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  64. ^ a b "GetUp Limited". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  65. ^ "Activists GetUp ruled independent of parties by Electoral Commission". SBS News. Retrieved 18 February 2019.

External links[edit]