Chris Peterson

Members of the Forgotten Australians rallied in Melbourne on October 13 to demand a Royal Commission into the sexual abuse, emotional and criminal assault, and torture of children in church and government-run homes, orphanages and foster care homes. The term Forgotten Australian refers to children who were placed in care outside of their family home during the 20th century.
Elections are coming up for local councils across Victoria. Many candidates are reflecting community campaigns, but others are reflecting the interests of developers and other business interests. Because council ballot papers don’t identify candidates’ party affiliation, the Liberal and Labor parties often don’t endorse candidates. Instead, members of the Liberal and Labor parties run as “independents”.
About 150 people rallied in Melbourne on October 10 to call for an increase in pensions for retired workers. The rally also called for better concessions, better transport and stronger access to health services. The protest was organised by the Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition, which is made up of groups including the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Council of the Ageing and Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria.
More than 100 people rallied in Footscray in Melbourne’s western suburbs on October 11 to protest against the Victorian government's $300 million dollar cuts to the TAFE system. The rally was organised by community group “Friends of Victoria University”. Protesters included university staff, students and teachers and members of maritime, construction, textile, nursing and other unions as well as people from the wider community.
About 200 people rallied at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Detention Centre on September 22, against deporting refugees to danger and mandatory detention. Dayan Anthony, a Tamil refugee, was deported to Sri Lanka in July against his will from Maribyrnong. Antony's Lawyer Sanmati Verma said: “Each and every professional and all community members in contact with Dayan Anthony attested that he was a torture survivor. And yet he was put on a plane and yet he was sent back to Sri Lanka.
September marks the arrival of a defining name of the 1980s British anarcho-punk scene, Subhumans, to Australia. This will be the band’s first Australasian tour and features the 1981 line-up that recorded their debut EP Demolition War and classic albums such as The Day The Country Died. Green Left Weekly's Chris Peterson spoke to frontman Dick Lucas.
About 1000 people marched in Melbourne in a September 1 “Slutwalk” rally to stop violence against women. Author and playwright Van Badham told the crowd: “This is a society that allows 1 in 3 women to be raped in their lifetime. We are human beings with rights.”
Activists in Melbourne commemorated International Day of the Disappeared with an August 30 vigil that called on the Sri Lankan government to end to its practice of “disappearing” political dissidents. Long-term Sri Lankan human rights activist Lionel Bopage said: “From 1988 onwards, there was a marked increase in disappearances and killings. This has been part of repression of people critical of the regime.”
About 200 people rallied against La Trobe University executives’ massive cuts to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences on August 22. Protesters occupied the Agora at La Trobe’s Bundoora campus in support of a hunger strike against the cuts. They occupied the campus overnight. The cuts will result in hundreds of subjects being slashed, entire areas of study being abolished and at least 41 job losses. A mass meeting of staff and students in July passed a resolution demanding all cuts be withdrawn.
Activists in Melbourne have won a big victory for the right to political protest after the charges against the Max Brenner 16 were dismissed on July 23. The court trial lasted for 17 days in May. The 16 Palestine solidarity activists had been arrested and charged over a protest outside the Max Brenner chocolate shop in QV Square, Melbourne in July last year. The protest was part of the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the occupation of Palestine.
Activists celebrated a major victory for the right to demonstrate in Melbourne on July 23 after a magistrate dismissed charges against the Max Brenner 19. On July 1 last year, 19 Palestine solidarity activists were arrested at a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions protest outside a Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne’s QV Square shopping centre. The protest called on Max Brenner to end its ties with the Israeli military.
Two hundred people rallied in Melbourne on July 18 to protest against plans to sell public housing to private owners and call for an increase in public housing. Greens MP Adam Bandt told the rally: “The state government will soon decide on the future of Melbourne’s public housing. We don’t know exactly what they have planned, but they want to increase rents and make access short term for people using it.” In Melbourne, about 7000 people are living on the streets. There are now 3000 people on the public housing waiting list.
Aboriginal speakers lashed out against the Labor government’s five-year Northern Territory intervention at a forum organised by Arena Magazine on June 21. Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, a former mayor of Barkly shire in the Northern Territory, said: “A lot of us are going through severe trauma. We live in terror of our language, ceremonies and land being taken away.” She drew parallels between her people’s current nightmare and that faced by the Jews during the Holocaust of World War II.
Photos by Ali Bakhtiavandi
About 350 members of the Health And Community Services Union (HACSU) attended a state-wide meeting and marched to Parliament House on May 2. The event was held in defiance of the state government’s attempt to shut down the union's campaign against government attacks by using legal processes in Fair Work Australia. The HACSU has been campaigning to defend jobs and ratios in the mental health system that will be slashed under proposed government cuts.

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