Victoria Law Foundation funded HRLC research highlights importance of storytelling in human rights advocacy

A new report considers the benefits and challenges of storytelling in human rights and social justice advocacy.

The report, ‘When I Tell My Story, I’m in Charge: Ethical and Effective Storytelling in Advocacy’, sets out a range of approaches, techniques and examples to inform community legal centres in their advocacy efforts for systemic change.  

The report, by 2012-2013 Victoria Law Foundation CLC Fellow, Rachel Ball, is informed by over sixty interviews with community legal centres, international human rights organisations, peak bodies, academics, researchers, journalists, media managers, writers and people who have told their own stories in human rights and social justice campaigns.

Rachel Ball, who is the Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at the Human Rights Law Centre, said stories are an important part of effective advocacy and are central to empowering people and communities affected by injustice.

“The challenge for lawyers and activists is to develop a framework for storytelling that maximises systemic and sustainable outcomes and empowers participants, but also recognises risks and tries to mitigate them. Insights and perspectives of people affected by injustice are important and powerful ingredients in effective efforts for policy and law reform,” said Ms Ball.

Victoria Law Foundation Executive Director Joh Kirby said this approach demonstrates the importance of simplicity and plain language in better engaging the community in legal issues.

 “Legal resources lose their ability to empower people when they are not written with plain language principles in mind. For many people stories and case studies seem to be a natural way of understanding and remembering information," said Ms Kirby said.

Established in 2003 to coincide with 30 years of CLCs in Victoria, Victoria Law Foundation fellowships are awarded each year to one CLC worker to carry-out an in-depth study examining a legal issue facing the community.

The report is available here.

To find out more about the Victoria Law Foundation fellowships visit

For further comment contact: Rachel Ball on 0434 045 919 or or

Melinda Scaringi, Communications Manager, Victoria Law Foundation on 0412 0560 210 or