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The issues Australians took to heart in 2015.

Australians are generally known for our lackadaisical attitude to life. But, we’re also partial to cheering on an underdog.

In 2015, impassioned Aussies attached their virtual signature to many a petition.

These were six issues that really riled us up, according to online petition platform Change.org.

6. Excessive credit card surcharges.

 A small businessman from the Gold Coast, Klaus Bartosch, led a three-year campaign against exorbitant credit card surcharges being forced onto customers.

“Credit card surcharges are gouging customers hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” he wrote in a change.org petition.

“They’re being added to flights (Jetstar $8.50 per flight), paying bills (Telstra 2%+ GST), cab fares (10% of fare). They’re out of control – and it’s time they’re banned.

“There have been too many excuses on this, for too many years.”

His petition, which was signed by more than 90,000 others, led to 5,000 submissions calling for the surcharges to be banned in the Murray financial system inquiry.

In October, the government said it would ban excessive surcharges on credit cards.

Thanks for keeping them honest, Klaus.

5. Teenage girl calls for domestic violence education in schools after mother takes her own life.

When a teenager loses a parent, an expected reaction might be for the child to withdraw or act out. But not Josie Pohla.

Just one month after her mother took her own life, the 14-year-old began an online petition calling for domestic violence prevention lessons to be included in the school curriculum.

She had considered the violence in her household as normal and wanted children to know better than that.

biggest change.org petitions 2015
Image via iStock.
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Her petition, signed by more than 100,000 people, persuaded the NSW Government to include domestic violence education in the school curriculum.

Of the change, Josie wrote: “I wish this change had of occurred in time for me to save my mum, but it makes me feel so happy to know it will exist to help others. Mum’s death wasn’t for nothing – it has now helped to create the change to save others.”

The teen was also nominated for a Pride of Australia award.

4. A nine-year-old boy who grew up in Australia was to be deported because of his autism.

Maria Sevilla moved to Australia from the Philippines with her son, Tyrone, when he was two years old. She worked hard and they built a life here.

But her skilled working visa application was rejected when Tyrone was nine because the government believed treatment for Tyrone’s autism would be a burden on the Australian taxpayer.

“My child Tyrone has spent almost his entire life here, English is the only language he hears, yet now, at 9 years of age, the government are going to deport myself and my son to the Philippines because of his autism,” she said.

biggest change.org petitions 2015
Tyrone with his mother, Maria. Image via change.org.
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Ms Sevilla was concerned her son would not have the same quality of life in the Philippines because they had no close relatives in the country and he couldn’t speak the language.

More than 120,500 Australians agreed, signing her petition and prompting Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to change his mind and allow the Sevillas to remain in Australia.

3. Gang-rape survivor’s crime compensation payment cut in half.

Three men took turns raping 20-year-old Katrina Keshishian by the bank of a Sydney river in 2008.

They went to jail, but the gang rape survivor was paying dearly for the psychological help she needed to recover from the horrific crime.

Six years and mounds of paperwork later, she was still waiting for her victims of crime compensation payment from the Government to come through. Then she found out it was going to be reduced by more than half the amount due to retrospective legislation.

Katrina Keshishian talks about the difference her petition made (post continues after video):

Luckily, her change.org petition garnered more than 134,000 signatures and resulted in a personal call from NSW Premier Mike Baird, who reversed the cuts to victim compensation.

The huge policy back flip also impacted 24,000 other victims of crime.

2. Shane’s life could have been saved by a melanoma drug he could no longer afford.

Shane Raisher begged Tony Abbott to save his life by putting an expensive but effective cancer treatment on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. At $10,500 every three weeks, it was sending him and his young family broke, he said.

“This decision could mean life or death for me,” he wrote.

“It could mean seeing my little boy grow up or not. But this is about more than just my family. 1,400 people are dying from melanoma every year in Australia – it’s one of the biggest, silent killers. Yet we’re dragging behind the US and Japan in approving this new treatment.”

biggest change.org petitions 2015
Shane Raisher with his two-year-old son, Jett. Image via change.org.

More than 170,000 people agreed with him, signing his Change.org petition.

Sadly, the 32-year-old never got to meet his second son after losing his 15-year battle with melanoma.

And, just weeks after his death, Abbott announced the drug would be listed on the PBS. His widow, Danielle, said it was a bittersweet moment, but she was glad her husband’s death would not be in vain.

1. Tamworth couple fight for legalisation of medicinal marijuana to honour late son’s dying wish.

As a former nurse and police officer respectively, Lucy and Lou Haslam were the unlikely faces of the push to decriminalise medicinal marijuana in Australia.

But, after seeing the positive impact it had on helping their terminally ill son, Dan – who died from bowel cancer in February at just 26 – deal with the side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea and loss of appetite, that’s exactly what they become.

biggest change.org petitions 2015
Dan Haslam during his treatment for bowel cancer. Image via change.org.

Lucy’s petition to decriminalise cannabis for terminal cancer patients was signed by more than a quarter of a million people.

And with the Federal Government drawing up plans to legalise the growing and regulation of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Australia, her son’s dying wish – that others could enjoy the pain relief he did – is set to become a reality.

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