People power: The top five everyday Australian 'change-makers' of 2015

Natasha Christian

People have small wins all the time. Nearly every day there’s something that happens in life that you can feel grateful for. But sometimes we do something that contributes to the greater good and offers something that impacts society on a wider scale.

In 2015 there have been plenty of small wins, there’s also been quite a few big ones – many of them you won’t know about but they may have somehow impacted your life.

Below are everyday Australians whose groundbreaking victories using ‘clicktivism’ through Change.Org have impacted our society in a big way.

As 2015 comes to a close we’ve decided to look back at the top five ‘change-makers’ of this year.

5. Josie Pohla: Domestic Violence prevention lessons on the school curriculum.

Josie, 14, set out to have anti domestic violence lessons in schools.

14-year-old Josie Pohla decided to launch a petition only weeks after her mum committed suicide following unthinkable violence in the family home.

Before her mum’s death, Josie considered her home to be a normal one.

She initially launched a petition using a fake name, before she found the courage to put her own to it.

The petition asked for domestic violence prevention lessons to be included on the national school curriculum.

It quickly gained 103,000 supporters and was deemed a success in July when NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the lessons would become a reality.

Baird felt the lessons would help to ensure no child would ever consider such violence as ‘normal’ again.

4. Lucy Haslam: Decriminalised medical marijuana

The tragic loss of her son Dan sparked Lucy's drive to campaign for medical marijuana legalisation.

Tamworth nurse Lucy Haslam was an unlikely campaigner for medical marijuana with her husband working on the police drug squad for more than 30 years.

Lucy’s son Dan tragically died from bowel cancer in February 2015 at just 26-years-old.

Dan’s last months were made more comfortable with medical marijuana through relieving intense chemotherapy related nausea and restoring his appetite and overall energy.

Dan’s dying wish was for medical marijuana to be decriminalised so others could benefit from the same pain-relief he did.

Lucy took on the challenge to passionately campaign to fulfill her son’s final wish.

250,000 people backed her cause and in October a landmark decision by the Federal Government saw that it would legalise the growing of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Australia.

Lucy was given special immunity from prosecution to grow and supply cannabis to those who need it most as part of a ‘compassionate access scheme’ as a result of her campaign.

3. Klaus Bartosch: Banned ‘rip-off’ credit card surcharges

Klaus set out to ban unfair credit card surcharges.

People don’t like feeling ripped off and that was made clear with Klaus’ petition to ban unfair credit card surcharges, which quickly gained 200,000 supporters.

A small business owner, Klaus asked the Australian government and airline Jetstar to drop unfair fees that stung customers.

The Gold Coast resident argued Aussies were being stung more than $800 million in unfair surcharges when most countries weren’t.

The petition led to 5000 submissions to the Murray financial system inquiry which called for surcharges to be banned.

Thanks to his loud voice, companies can no longer charge hefty fees to process a sale.

His argument made waves in Canberra when he was invited to give evidence at a Senate hearing.

Victory was declared in November when treasurer Scott Morrison acted on the persistence of thousands of Australians.

2. Connor: Convinced the RBA to print blind-accessible banknotes

The RBA eventually listened to Connor and made the change.

14-year-old Connor is blind. With the help of his mum Ally he petitioned the Reserve Bank of Australia to print tactile bank notes.

His calls were quickly noticed and gained 57,000 supporters.

In February the RBA announced they had heard Connor’s request and would honour it.

As a result more than 300,000 Australians no longer need to fear being ripped off and can be independent in the way they shop and spend.

1. Shane Raisher: Got the melanoma ‘wonder drug’ on the PBS

While Shane tragically died before his campaign was won, thousands of families will now benefit from his hard work.

Before Shane Raisher died, he managed to get 172,000 people to support his push to ensure no more families would suffer the debt and agony his did.

The medicine to treat the cancer he was suffering (MK-3475) was not available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

As a result it cost him $10,000 every three weeks to buy it.

It not only threatened to kill him, but bankrupt him in the process.

1400 people die from melanoma each year in Australia, making it one of our biggest silent killers.

“We're dragging behind the US and Japan in approving this new treatment,” Shane said during his fight.

“This decision could mean life or death for me. It could mean seeing my little boy grow up or not.”

Sadly Shane died at 32-years-old in March, 2015.

His widow, Dannii, was pregnant with their son Levi when he died.

In August Shane’s final wish was approved, and while it was too late for him it was a godsend for the families who he had fought for as they could now access the medication they desperately needed without fear of the financial burden.