How Labor Works

Labor is the party of working people whose members and supporters have been fighting for a better life for all Australians for more than 120 years. By joining Labor you have an opportunity to get involved and make positive changes for your community. 

There are a myriad of formal and informal things you can do as a member from debating policy, to voting and campaigning for candidates, to campaigning in your community on issues you care about.

Below is a short guide on how the ALP works and how you can make the most of your membership.

How Labor is Organised

The Australian Labor Party is over 120 years old and our basic structures and how we make decisions haven’t changed much since groups of unionists, socialists and radicals met in Balmain and Barcaldine in 1891 to form our great party.

Labor organises itself along a root and branch structure that delegates authority to members from the community level all the way up to the national level.

At the local level, ACT members join local sub-branches and participate in policy committees. These are the basic building blocks of ACT Labor and these are the places where much of your activity in the party will take place.

Local sub-branches are where members meet, discuss and debate political issues, make decisions and campaign in the community. We have 17 local sub-branches that cover all of Canberra’s suburbs – including Norfolk Island – and you can decide to participate in any sub-branch of your choosing.

Policy committees are places where members with a passion for policy can meet and discuss, debate and create policy for consideration by the wider party. ACT Labor has 12 policy committees ranging in topics from economics to social justice to foreign affairs.

From these places you can get involved in various decision making forums that represent the views of the party across the ACT as a whole, including our Annual Conference which is the place where ACT Labor’s major decisions are made and our policy positions are determined.

What Can I Do?

Members are responsible for selecting and campaigning for the candidates who run in ACT and Federal elections. This is one of the great privileges of being a member of ACT Labor, but it’s not the only way to get involved in the democratic process.

Campaigning, either during elections or in your community, is an exciting way to get involved in the party.

Members can volunteer as part of an election campaign by joining the team of a candidate and heading out into the suburbs visiting voters and talking to them about Labor’s values and policies.

This is a great way to meet other members and learning some new skills. It’s also a really great feeling to get out into the community and fight for the election of a candidate.

Campaigning on an issue is also a really exciting way to get involved in the community. Sometimes a sub-branch or a group of members will identify a problem in their community e.g. run down playground, and they will organise a campaign around solving that problem.

The ALP provides training to members who want to campaign, keep an eye out for training sessions as they get advertised.