Chris Slee

Refugee activists attended a meeting on October 3 to discuss strategy for the refugee rights movement.

The meeting was organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) in response to an article written by Robert Manne, Tim Costello, Frank Brennan and John Menadue calling for a "compromise" solution to "our refugee crisis".

RAC invited Manne to speak at the forum. Chris Breen spoke on behalf of RAC.

Both professional and volunteer firefighters have spoken against the federal government's proposed new law aimed at blocking the implementation of the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) enterprise agreement.


Tamils protest on August 3 against Sri Lankan navy land grabs in Mullivaikkal.

Tamils who had been protesting outside a military cantonment in a suburb of Kilinochchi began a hunger strike on September 7.

In March, the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) received a secret report from anti-union law firm Seyfarth Shaw Australia giving advice on how to attack the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

According to a Fairfax Media article summarising the leaked report, it recommended hiring firefighters on "individual and/or non-union contracts". It also recommended reducing union officials' right of entry into CFA workplaces.

An Australian lawyer who lodged a submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2014 calling for an investigation of Australian detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, told a Refugee Action Collective (RAC) forum in Melbourne on September 5 that the release of the Nauru files has improved the chances of action being taken.

The federal government has published a proposed law to restrict the rights of firefighters and other emergency service workers.

The new law will amend the Fair Work Act to ban enterprise agreements covering workers employed by a “designated emergency management body” from containing “objectionable” terms — including requirements for management to consult with the relevant union.

More than 60 people took part in a vigil outside the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on September 2 to support Jasmine Pilbrow who was found guilty of “interference with a crew member of an aircraft”.

In February last year, Pilbrow refused to take her seat on a Qantas aircraft in which a Tamil asylum seeker was being taken to Darwin before being deported to Sri Lanka.

Melanie Brown told the gathering her friend had peacefully explained to others on the plane her reasons for taking the action. Two other people then also stood up.

Firefighters rallied outside state parliament house on August 16 to demand greater support for the victims of toxic contamination at the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) former Fiskville training facility.

Fiskville was closed down in 2015, but a state parliamentary enquiry found that CFA management had known about the contamination since 2010 and allowed training to continue there. The chemicals have been linked to a rise in the number of incidences of cancer and other diseases among firefighters who trained there.

The United Firefighters Union (UFU) has commissioned a survey of bullying, harassment and discrimination within Victoria's Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA). The survey is being conducted by researchers from the University of Newcastle.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) is carrying out a survey commissioned by MFB and CFA management. The UFU has advised its members not to participate in the VEOHRC survey.

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