How to run a Do Not Knock community education session
Community education sessions can help Australian consumers get the information and tools they need to prevent the problems associated with door-to-door sales and telephone marketing.
This ‘how to guide’ covers the basic steps required to deliver effective and engaging sessions, from identifying that there is a need for these type of sessions to gathering feedback for evaluation. These sessions can be tailored to target groups, including:
- older people
- disability groups
- CALD and newly arrived communities
- other vulnerable community members
- people who work with these various communities.
1. Collaborate with local services
Working with local service providers and community groups will help you identify and connect with your target audience.
Local services could include:
- financial counselling service
- community legal centre
- neighbourhood justice centre or neighbourhood learning centre
- community health centre
- local council
- locally-based charitable organisation
- migrant resource centre.
Even if you are able to co-ordinate and deliver sessions without being in contact with local service providers, we recommend letting them know about your sessions. Collaboration is the key to effective service delivery.
2. Plan around the needs of your audience
With community group sessions, be prepared for:
- session times and dates being scheduled outside business hours
- childcare needs
- transport assistance
- particular food requirements
- engaging the services of interpreters or bilingual educators.
Know your audience, so you can tailor your presentation to them. Consult directly with a community representative of this group before you begin preparing your delivery or have a meeting with the organiser of the session to find out more about the community group. Some questions to consider are:
- What is the group’s literacy level?
- What is the group’s legal literacy level?
- How are or might the group be vulnerable to intrusive marketing practices?
- How many people are expected to attend a session?
- Do you need to arrange interpreters or bilingual educators?
- Are there any learning difficulties or disabilities that you need to be aware of?
3. Gather your resources
There are two essential resources you need in order to deliver effective community education around Do Not Knock and the Do Not Call register:
Other resources you may want to use or adapt for your community group and your location are:
- easy English fact sheets on door-to-door sales and consumer rights published by Consumer Affairs Victoria
- Knock Knock Who’s there? – ACCC guide to door to door sales
The flyer, brochures and fact sheets can be provided to each person in a take home bag for future reference.
Remember to take enough stickers to hand out at the session and some extra for people who want to take some home for family members, friends or neighbours.
4. Use Speaker’s notes – and rehearse!
Dealing with door to door sales – VLA speaker notes are available to help you prepare for the session. Use these notes as your base and adapt them to your state or region, to suit your community group and your style of delivery.
Once you have your tools and notes ready, do a practice run by yourself or in front of a colleague or peers for feedback.
5. Be prepared for standard questions
The majority of questions received at education sessions are easy to deal with, as they cover information-based content, including:
- how did they [the selling company] get our phone number?
- we have a silent number but we still get the companies ringing us up – why?
- if the ten business days go by, am I stuck with the contract?
- what if they don’t go away even when I put the sticker up?
- how can I complain about a company who won’t stop pestering me?
- does the sticker apply to charities and religious organisations?
Now and again a trickier question comes your way, which may involve needing to look at the contract in question and giving more detailed information or advice. You can either:
- follow up with them later
- refer them on to somewhere they can get help, like a free legal help line, the local community legal centre or a free financial counselling service.
Note: Unless you are a lawyer who practices in the area of consumer law, it is advisable not to give advice on specific situations and to stick to providing information.
6. Seek feedback
For your evaluation purposes and to improve your process, remember to ask for feedback from the organiser of the session on how the presentation went to find out what the community group learnt and any suggestions for improvement.
You can use an evaluation template. However, when gathering feedback directly from community members or their representatives, you may find oral discussions and interviews more effective. These can be recorded for evaluation purposes provided you have their consent.
Questions, feedback or comments
We would like to hear how your session went, and are particularly interested in any case studies that show how the campaign benefits community members.
Victoria Legal Aid, as a partner of the Do Not Knock campaign, has focused on community engagement and face-to-face sessions for vulnerable communities throughout Victoria. They have delivered to over 3,000 people comprised of a diverse range of community groups, aged care workers and other workers.
If you have any questions or advice about Do Not Knock session work or community engagement practice in this area, you can contact Angela Costi, Senior Community Legal Education Co-ordinator – Community Engagement, Victoria Legal Aid on (03) 9269 0382 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have more general feedback or comments about the Do Not Knock campaign, contact campaigns[@]consumeraction.org.au