Writing submissions

Page - November 30, 2006
Writing a submission is an opportunity to get your message across, contribute to decision making and shift public debate on an issue. A submission is essentially a letter outlining your views on an issue where there is a process calling for public opinion.

To write an effective submission, you need up-to-date and accurate information. Your submission should directly address the terms of reference set by the bill or discussion document you are addressing.

Before you start writing do your research

Your first step before writing your submission is to research the topic and find as much relevant information as possible. Likely sources of information include:

  • Your local library for maps, acts of parliament and magazines
  • Parliament house for copies of recent legislation and other reports/submissions on the topic
  • Government departments
  • Your local council
  • Public companies and their annual reports
  • Media resources and archives, such as newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet

Keep a record of who and where you obtained your information from, and include these references in your submission. This is both for copyright issues and for accuracy.

Everyone sees an issue differently and you need to ensure your submission includes the source of any evidence you put forward.

Your submission should include:

  • The name of the inquiry and the committee hearing the inquiry, or relevant title
  • Your own name and contact details and the organisation you represent, if applicable
  • A request to give a verbal presentation to the committee if you want to do this

The body of your submission should include:

  • Your concerns
  • What your ideal outcome would be
  • Facts to support your opinion

Submissions can be as long as you like but try to keep information as succinct as possible and add supporting documentation as appendices. If it's a long submission, consider including an executive summary at the start.

You'll want your submission to be catchy, relevant, interesting and not too long and boring. There's no harm in using conversational language, and supporting it with the 'science and hard facts'. Not everyone is an expert and you don't want to make the submission hard to understand.