Chris Peterson

Two young people who died in their car on July 25 after using a gas heater to keep warm had been homeless for some time.

Dr Bruce Redman from the Salvation Army told the Ballarat Courier after the discovery of their bodies: “The Salvos are finding more and more people who are resorting to live in their cars because of a lack of affordable accommodation options.

“When it's summer, people tend to sleep on the beach or in their cars and no one really notices. But when it's cold, most people expect to have a roof over their heads, somewhere where they can stay warm.”

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.

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