Melbourne

Feminist and Socialist Alliance activist Margarita Windisch gave the speech below at Melbourne’s Reclaim the Night rally on October 20.

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A big thank you to the Reclaim the Night 2012 collective for organising today and giving us the opportunity to get our voices heard in public

Tonight is our night — we are here to reclaim the night and our right as women to fully participate in this society of ours without the fear of sexual violence — here on Sydney Rd, all over Australia and across the world.

“Violence against women is everybody’s business, and it has to stop!” proclaimed Margarita Windisch, one of the speakers at the Reclaim the Night march in Melbourne on October 20. One determined heckler from the crowd could not stop her as she passionately defended the rights of women and children and “played the gender card” proudly for women everywhere who have been “forced into this gender game”.

About 200 people rallied in Melbourne for refugee rights on October 21. The Refugee Action Collective Victoria called the protest.

Michelle O'Neill from the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia told the rally: “In reality, we are condemning asylum seekers to languish for indefinite periods of time. The effect of this on many asylum seekers will be extraordinarily severe psychological harm.

Menaha Kandasamy, the president of the Ceylon Plantation Workers Red Flag Union, recently visited Australia at the invitation of Australia-Asia Worker Links.

Kandasamy told Green Left Weekly the union mainly represents workers on tea and rubber plantations, though recently it has begun organising domestic and garment workers.

More than 60 people met in Footscray on October 17 to plan the next steps in the Save TAFE campaign. Community group “Friends of Victoria University” hosted a public forum to discuss the Victorian state government’s $300 million cuts to the TAFE system and its impacts on communities in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

More than 100 people attended an October 17 talk by Professor Damien Kingsbury of Deakin University titled “Why are the Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka?”. The meeting was organised by the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project.

Kingsbury outlined the history of Sri Lanka. He said that British colonialism created a centralised administration of the previously separate Tamil and Sinhalese areas of the island. After independence in 1948, Sinhalese politicians established a “majoritarian” political system that discriminated against the Tamil minority in terms of language, employment and education.

About 200 people staged a pro-choice counter protest on October 13 in response to a fundamentalist Christian-organised "March for the Babies", which called for the criminalisation of abortion in Victoria.

Pro-choice protesters were joined by people who took part in Global Noise rally in Melbourne that day.

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.

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.

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