Chris Peterson

About 7000 people rallied in Melbourne for World Refugee Day on June 22. The rally called for detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru to be closed; for fair processing of asylum seekers; and for justice for Reza Berati, who was murdered in detention on Manus Island. The rally included contingents from regional areas such as Geelong and Ballarat. Reverend Alistair McRae from the Uniting Church said: "Policies of deprivation and punishment have taken the place of our legal and moral obligations of care. It's not OK. Shame on the government and the previous government."
Members of the Hazara community held a vigil in Melbourne on June 15 for the victims of the Taftan bombing in Pakistan.The bombing was part of ongoing attacks on Hazara people and Shia Muslims in Pakistan. Ali Haider, a member of the Hazara community in Melbourne, said: "A bombing took place [on June 8] in which 30 people were killed and more than 50 injured. These were poor people on pilgrimage." Colleen Hartland from the Greens called for the Australian government to accept refugees from Pakistan.
About 100 people rallied in Melbourne to call for justice for Reza Berati on May 28, the 100 day anniversary of his murder on Manus Island. The rally called for an independent investigation of the murder, for all offshore prisons to be closed and for immigration minister Scott Morrison to be sacked.
Veteran Canadian punk band DOA have set sail for Australia for one final tour this month. Formed in 1978, Henry Rollins described the band as “live they were monumental, change your life, blow away time … They came to town and we were like WOW!” DOA’s slogan has been “Talk minus Action equals Zero” and the band has been active on many issues, including anti-racism, anti-globalisation, freedom of speech, and the environment. In 2003, founding member Joe “Shithead” Keithley released his autobiography, I, Shithead: A Life in Punk.
Victoria’s upper house passed the Summary Offences and Sentencing Amendment Bill on March 11. Debate was interrupted by protesters in the public gallery, who were removed by police.
Tamil people and their supporters rallied on January 20 against the detention of 46 refugees who have been held for years even though they have been recognised by the Australian government as genuine refugees. Most of these refugees are Tamils from Sri Lanka. They are being held because they have negative security assessments by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). Negative ASIO decisions have, in effect, condemned these refugees to a life sentence.
Victoria police have apologised to the family of a man who died hours after being released from police custody in 2010. The Age reported on November 20: "Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright, who is responsible for all people in police custody across the state, said officers at Dandenong police station had fallen well short of community expectations on how they treated Gong Ling Tang on May 12, 2010.
Staff at RMIT University held a 24-hour stopwork for a new Enterprise Agreement on November 20. Organised by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), the strike was called to reject a substandard agreement that offers a 3% pay rise with no improvements to conditions.  RMIT management wants to leave many vital entitlements in "policy" rather than the Enterprise Agreement because this gives them the "flexibility" to alter them at their discretion.
About 100 people attended a vigil for refugees in Melbourne on November 15. The action was initiated by Secondary Students for Refugee Rights (SSFRR). SSFRR formed during the federal election campaign in response to refugees being demonised by politicians. The main purpose of the group is to raise awareness among young people about refugees.
International students and supporters rallied on October 17 to oppose international students being exploited, bullied and pushed into poverty in Melbourne’s office cleaning industry. The rally was called by cleaners’ union United Voice as part of anti-poverty week. United Voice Victoria secretary Jess Walsh said: "International students are a very important part of our community. A quarter of the international students we surveyed received less than $10 an hour at work, and 60% received less than the minimum wage and many reported experiencing racism and sexual harassment.
Hundreds braved rain on October 13 to rally against the construction of the East West link in Melbourne's inner suburbs. The Socialist Party's Anthony Maine, vilified by the Herald Sun as a “serial pest” spoke at the rally. He said: “The government is making decisions on behalf of the road lobby. We have the potential of mass support on our side of people that want to see more rail [lines] built. Our goal has to be to mobilise these people into action."
About 260 people gathered at a mass meeting in Tecoma on August 11 and vowed to continue to fight against a McDonald’s Restaurant in their town. Demolition of the site began on August 8 but the meeting reaffirmed their determination to maintain a protest on the site. Support for the protest continues to grow. The Victorian branch of the Australian Service Union released a statement on August 10.
A protest to defend welfare rights and public housing was held in Coburg on August 3. The rally called for a rise in all welfare payments to a liveable income, the restoration of the sole parents pension, an end to welfare quarantining and public housing for all who need it. Moreland city councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sue Bolton told the rally: "The single parent payment is important because it allows women to leave violent relationships and gives parents the right to decide  to be at home with their children."
There was standing room only at the Collingwood Health Centre as about 200 people met on July 20 to oppose the East-West tunnel and tollway. The road plan threatens to demolish homes, spew fumes onto a primary school and childcare centre, and destroy wetlands and parks in Melbourne’s west. Yarra councillor and Socialist Party member Stephen Jolly said the campaign was not a lost cause, but a long-term fight. He urged people to look at the legal and political options, as well as mass actions and pickets if work went ahead on the project.
Protesters are facing legal threats over their fight to protect the Dandenong Ranges from the yellow fluorescent arches of McDonald's franchises. In a proposal first rejected by the local council last year, McDonald’s was later given approval by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to build a restaurant opposite the local primary school in the small town of Tecoma. VCAT made the decision despite strong opposition from local residents, including a petition with 2000 signatures.
The Victorian government has escalated its plans to build an unpopular, costly and environmentally damaging East-West road tunnel. The Age reported on July 15 that "about 250 residents have received a letter advising the east-west link road tunnel is likely to be constructed near their properties, triggering concern that many homes will be compulsorily acquired. “The state government last week sent the letter to residents in Collingwood, Fitzroy and Clifton Hill on or near Alexandra Parade and whose homes could stand in the way of the multibillion-dollar tollway.

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