Chris Peterson

In much the same way that the Tony Abbott government’s attacks on Gillian Triggs deflected media attention away from the horrific substance of the Human Rights Commission’s report on children living in detention, his “lifestyle choices” comment this week ensured the media has paid little attention to the government’s cuts to Aboriginal services.

Workers at International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF) began occupying the Dandenong factory on January 27 after negotiations for a new workplace agreement stalled. Negotiations have been ongoing since June, after contention arose over management’s proposal for a $0.55 an hour wage rise if workers forfeited one of their two paid 10 minute breaks.

The workers of International Flavours & Fragrances began occupying their building on January 27 as part of an ongoing strike.

The Dandenong Leader reported workers "were locked out today after negotiations for a new workplace agreement stalled. About 60 workers were stranded by indefinite lockout by management early this morning. Negotiations have been ongoing since June, after contention arose over management’s proposal of a 55 cent an hour wage increase if workers forfeited one of their two paid ten minute breaks.

On January 21, hundreds of people rallied in Melbourne in support of the ongoing hunger strike on Manus Island.

Katie Roberston, a social justice lawyer said "What is going on in Australia when people in New York are rallying against our human rights abuses. Our government does not respect human rights in relation to refugees and it is getting worse everyday. The Immigration Minister can bring these people back to Australia but he chooses not to."

Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke with Jacob Rumbiak, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of West Papua -- a government-in-exile of the Papuan terrritory occupied by Indonesia since the 1960s. Its new foreign affairs office is in Melbourne.

Rumbiak is one of five officials of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, a new consultation body set up at a conference in Vanuatu in December.

Joseph Elu, chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority, told Radio National’s PM on January 5 that the islands that have been home to Indigenous people for thousands of years are “being inundated”, right now because of climate change.

“A couple of our islands, the tide rises over the sea walls of the beachfront and it flows under the houses and out the other end ... They’re predicting that in 100 years, then they’ll go under.”

A rally was held in Melbourne on January 16 to support refugees protesting in Wickham Point detention centre near Darwin and Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

Many of the asylum seekers are on a hunger strike and it is feared that a 33-year-old Iranian asylum seeker may have only days to live.

The man, known as “Martin”, was on hunger strike for 53 days until December 21. He resumed the hunger strike on December 27, and has entered a critical stage. He may have already suffered permanent organ damage.

An emergency protest was called on November 20 to save Melbourne's Palace Theatre.

Dozens of protesters rallied outside the building the same evening to stop it being demolished. The rally was met with resistance by a group of unidentified young men who intimidated and physically attacked protesters.

Ezekiel Ox is a long-term singer-songwriter and activist for social justice. He has a reputation for energetic live performances across Australia, the United States and Britain with bands such as Full Scale, Mammal and Over Reactor.

Ox is an artist who puts ideas into practice, founding Musicians Against Police Violence, organising actions and fundraisers to fight racism and regularly MCing and leading chants at demonstrations.

A community protest has condemned the assault of a 26-year-old woman on the Upfield train in Melbourne on September 25.

The woman was attacked by a female passenger as the train pulled into Batman Station in North Coburg, and then thrown from the carriage while the train was still moving. The assault was accompanied by racist and Islamophobic abuse directed at victim.

Community activists gathered at the station on October 1 to condemn the racist attack.

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