Melbourne

The Victorian parliament’s lower house (Legislative Assembly) voted on June 7 to create a framework for signing a treaty, or treaties, with Aboriginal people. While it still needs to pass the upper house (Legislative Council), it marks the first legislative commitment to treaty by an Australian parliament.

Earlier this year firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) voted to endorse the proposed enterprise agreement that had been agreed on by MFB management and the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

This followed a long campaign by the union for an agreement that would protect workers' rights. UFU state secretary Peter Marshall told Green Left Weekly the agreement was endorsed by the "overwhelming majority" of firefighters.

The Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) held its state conference over the weekend of May 26 and 27.

The conference was held amid rising tensions within the Victorian ALP; with several prominent unions including the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) splitting from the Socialist Left to form the new “Centre Unity and Industrial Left Alliance” faction with a number of right-wing unions including the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

Just under two years ago, people gathered in the Victorian State Library to launch the Home Stretch campaign, which calls on all state governments to raise the age a young person can remain in a care placement from 18 to 21 years.

Home Stretch came together because there had been too many young people who, having been cared for and looked after by the state, were cast adrift at the tender age of 15–17, with all formal support ending.

A public housing rally on May 26 attracted about 200 people to the Walker Street estate in Northcote, one of the many estates threatened with a “renewal” program that will lead to much of the land being privatised with no certainty of return for current residents.

One of the most exciting developments in Melbourne recently was the launch on May 21of Hospo Voice, a new union for hospitality workers, initiated by United Voice.

Host of the event James Lea said he joined Hospo Voice last year when he was offered a job at Bar Americano for $21 an hour flat rate, no penalties.

He had a meeting with the owner of Bar Americano where he was told that “penalty rates don’t exist in Victoria anymore.”

Seventy refugee supporters held a birthday party for a young girl outside the State Library on May 12. They ate birthday cake and sang "happy birthday".

But three-year-old Kopika was unable to attend. She was kept behind razor wire in the Broadmeadows detention centre, along with her parents and sister.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions' new Change the Rules campaign is well underway.

In conjunction with a professional advertising and social media strategy, the campaign was launched on April 7, building up to the 12 Days of Action in early May around the May Day rallies. Thousands of people attended these rallies across the country, culminating in 120,000 workers marching in Melbourne on May 9.

The Victorian Labor government’s final budget before the November state election is strong on spending — for health, education and public transport, but unfortunately also for toll roads and law and order.

The formation of Victorian Socialists is continuing to generate excitement among progressives in Victoria, with about 600 people attending the election campaign launch in Collingwood on May 12.

Organisers anticipated about 300 people would attend, but the venue was soon filled to capacity and about 200 people were relocated to the building’s basement. The three candidates and other speakers had to give their speeches twice!

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