LETTER WRITING GUIDE
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Also see : Guidelines for letter writers - BAPA Position papers
|TIPS FOR WRITING LETTERS
The first sentence and the last sentence are the most important. Spend time on them to make sure they will catch the reader's attention, and leave a lasting impression
State your case in the first paragraph, back it up in the following paragraphs, and finish with a "call to action" - what you want to happen next
Avoid accusative, emotive language that will only get the reader offside. By all means refer to your own emotions... eg. "I was saddened to read of..."
Keep sentences short and crisp. Long sentences clog up the writing, and the reader loses track
Use humour if you can, but don't put people down, especially the reader
Use the Rule of Three. Three arguments or illustrations to back up what you say are usually enough for one letter.
Avoid phrases like "I think" or "In my opinion". Be definite, and state your case as fact.
Contrast is a very useful tool. You could contrast the situation now with what you want it to be, or contrast the Australian situation with that in indexed countries.
Remember the topic sentence. Start each paragraph (or argument) with a clear statement that is then expanded, in the following sentences.
Where possible, be positive (give credit where it's due), yet firm on what is required.
Here is a sample structure and relevant facts to help you write your letter. It is not expected that you will use all of these points, but that you will choose among them to help construct your point of view. Note that handwritten letters are generally taken more seriously because they imply a citizen feels strongly enough to take the time to write.
"I am writing because...
[Things you might like to include in your introduction: ]
Expatriate pensioners in Australia are "punished" for living overseas, while those living in America are rewarded
Many older pensioners came here to spend their declining years with their grandchildren
Pensioners who have lived here many years are impoverished by the freezing system, and forced to live on means tested benefits from the Australian taxpayer, even though they paid their way when they lived and worked in the UK
Part 1: Effect of Freezing
You may have heard of the case of a 95 year old pensioner, retired for 30 years and receiving a pension less than 1/10th of the equivalent pensioner living in Turkey
You may not have heard of the family in South Africa who have had to send an elderly grandmother back to the UK, because it is the only way she can get enough pension to keep her in her declining years. She has been wrenched away from her family by the freezing regime.
There are many women, especially older women, who are putting off the inevitable day when they will have to emigrate to a frozen country because they can no longer withstand the strain of frequent commuting.
Part 2: Arguments for unfreezing
We pensioners made the same contributions as those who live in Britain, or those who emigrated to the Philippines or Israel
The annual cost of unfreezing is only a small percentage of the total cost of pensions, and would easily be met by the annual surpluses in the National Insurance Fund.
Britain is the only OECD country which treats its expatriate pensioners like this.
In the name of justice and fair play, Britain ought to accept responsibility for preserving the dignity of its elder citizens, wherever they may live.
"To finish with...
Thank them for taking time to listen to your concerns
Ask them to let you know what action they are taking
Ask them to respond to the specifics of what you have said
Let them know that you are looking forward to their response.
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