Chris Peterson

About 300 unionists rallied on January 27 outside the Melbourne Liberal Party headquarters to demand an investigation into Alcoa's actions after the American-based company forcibly replaced Australian seafarers with foreign workers. A simultaneous rally in Sydney attracted about 100 workers.
A memorial was held on January 20 for two First Nations freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener. They were executed in 1842, the first two people executed in Victoria. Their deaths form part of the genocide that accompanied the dispossession of the First Nations people. The gathering marched to lay flowers at the Victoria Markets north wall carpark, where their remains and those of 9000 others lie in an unmarked grave.
Five crew members aboard Alcoa ship the MV Portland were woken at 1am on January 13 by up to 30 security guards, handed their passports and forcibly removed from the vessel. The guards then escorted aboard a replacement crew, believed to be foreign seafarers, who immediately began sailing the ship towards Singapore.
The Victorian government has turned its back on a major commitment to not contract out disability services to the private sector. The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has been left feeling “absolutely betrayed” by the Daniel Andrews’ government’s decision to break an election promise that declared, “Disability is not for sale”. News of this proposal was not so much announced, as discovered in the closing paragraph of an unrelated document.
More than 300 people braved rain on January 11 in a last ditch attempt to save a Tamil family from deportation to Sri Lanka. Neelavannan Paramanathan and his wife Suganthini fled Sri Lanka in 2008 in the midst of the civil war. They sought asylum in Australia in 2012, and settled in Ballarat with their three daughters in 2013. There is no guarantee of their safety if they return to Sri Lanka, as violence against Tamils continues. There is well-documented evidence of harsh treatment and human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government and military.
Five crew members aboard Alcoa ship the MV Portland were woken at 1am on January 13 by up to 30 security guards, handed their passports and forcibly removed from the vessel. The guards then escorted aboard a replacement crew, believed to be foreign seafarers, who immediately began sailing the ship towards Singapore.
Melbourne's Oromo community rallied on January 3 as part of a world-wide action in solidarity with the Oromo student protesters currently leading the ‪#‎OromoProtests‬ movement in Oromia, Ethiopia.
Hundreds of disability workers rallied in Melbourne on December 14 against attempts to privatise the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Victoria.
Campaigners hoping to save the Ballerrt Mooroop former Aboriginal school site in Glenroy were in shock after Victorian Labor education minister James Merlino sent them a letter on November 23 announcing that the site would be sold. Ballerrt Mooroop Working Group chairperson Dorothy Bamblett challenged the government's decision. “It is still possible to save the site,” she said. “The fight isn't over. We have to rally around to stop the government selling off the site. If we lose the site, it will be gone forever. We have to act now.”
Despite the immigration minister's attempts to block information and ban journalists from offshore detention camps, information continues to leak out. Ali Bakhtiarvandi was held in immigration detention for four and a half years in the early 2000s before being recognised as a refugee. He is in regular telephone contact with detainees on Christmas Island. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Chris Peterson about the recent events on Christmas Island. * * *
In a surprise move, the far-right group Reclaim Australia has moved its rally on November 22 from Melbourne’s CBD to Melton, which lies west of Melbourne. Reclaim Australia is modelled on far-right groups in Europe that target mosques and the Islamic community in order to promote racism and far-right policies. Reclaim Australia is focusing on opposing the construction of a mosque in Melton. Reclaim Australia has been outnumbered by anti-racists at the two previous rallies it held in the Melbourne CBD. The timing and move is designed to make it harder for anti-racist
The Coal Face By Tom Doig Penguin, 2015 $9.99, 144 pages Released earlier this year, Tom Doig's The Coal Face describes the day last year that fire took hold in Victoria's Hazelwood coal mine and burned for one-and-a-half months.
An emergency protest on October 12 remembered those killed in a terrorist attack on a peace rally in the Turkish city of Ankara. About 120 people were killed in the bombings on October 10. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The peace rally was protesting against the Turkish government's ongoing war against the Kurdish population. Seval Ulus from the Melbourne Kurdish Association said: “The national creed of 'One Nation, One Language and One Religion' has become a ludicrous social belief that has contaminated peace between cultures.
Thousands of people rallied in Melbourne on October 11 as part of a national day of action for refugee rights The day before, doctors at the Royal Children's Hospital announced that they would refuse to let children in hospital be discharged into detention.
The Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association (VAHPA) has begun an industrial campaign with the current pay deal due to finish at the end of the year. There are about 7500 VAHPA members in the public sector. Health professionals include physiotherapists, medical imaging technologists and social workers. The union recently conducted a survey that found 49% of health professionals were considering leaving their current employer and almost 25% were actively seeking work outside the health sector.
More than 1000 people rallied on September 20 to declare Victoria free of coal seam gas. Sixty-seven communities have already declared themselves gasfield free. Many regional councils across Victoria are also opposed to coal seam gas. The rally vowed to stop unconventional gas drilling, or fracking, from gaining a foothold and demanded the state government ban unconventional gas in Victoria. Drew Hutton, from Lock The Gate Alliance, said: “This is an historic moment. This state is officially going to become a gasfield-free state.

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