Two men were taken to hospital and a third treated at the scene after being injured during a confrontation with police at a refugee rights protest at the Maribyrnong detention centre on May 29. The conflict took place during a pre-arranged peaceful protest organised by an alliance of refugee support groups and left-wing political groups. The protesters converged outside the Maribrynong detention centre armed with placards with slogans such as “Free the Refugees” and “Seeking Asylum is not a Crime”.
“EPA: Extreme Pollution A-OK” read a banner held up by protesters outside Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) as it announced on May 20 a partial approval for the HRL Dual Gas project, which will use brown coal for electricity generation. With a record 4000 submissions to the EPA opposing the project, the Stop HRL campaign group reacted with a spot protest outside the EPA during the announcement and a further protest of over 300 outside state parliament on May 24.
Child beauty pageants, such as the ones featured on the reality TV show Toddlers and Tiaras, are big business in the United States. The industry is so big that it is expanding overseas. One of the biggest pageant companies, United Royalty plans to stage pageants in all states in Australia. Parents who wish to enter their children in the pageants have to pay $295 just to enter the pageant, plus thousands of dollars on expensive dresses, hairstyles and cosmetics
Melbourne’s only Indigenous specialist school, Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC), is again under threat from the state government. The Baillieu Liberal government plans to shift the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) onto the site, which would push the BMC onto one third of the land it has occupied since 1995. The government provided $18 million to GSS to relocate, but the BMC received just $750,000 to upgrade existing buildings. It is clear that the Baillieu government is pitting disadvantaged schools against each other.
With the federal government blatantly refusing to even utter the words “equal pay”, the need for grassroots initiative and action is vital in achieving these reforms for women workers. Pay Justice Action is a collective focused on campaigning for equal pay for women, as well as demanding the abolition of youth wages and the scrapping of the basics card, which was part of the NT Intervention. See also: Court says yes to equal pay, but fight not over
The Feminist Futures Conference is being organised for May 28-29 by the newly formed Melbourne Feminist Collective (MFC): a group of mainly young activists who were inspired by a similar conference they attended in Sydney last year. James Muldoon from the MFC told Green Left Weekly: “We are a non-aligned loose knit group of feminists who are keen to build on the movement’s past successes by focusing on shared goals and strategies for the future. “We are seeking to move beyond the old divisions by focusing on what unites us
Organisers of the 2011 Human Rights Arts and Film Festival (HRAFF) have informed Melbourne visual artist Van Thanh Rudd that his artwork titled Pop Goes the System, which depicts global pop icon Justin Bieber supporting Palestinian human rights, will be banned from this year’s festival.
The NATO attack on Libya was debated at a meeting sponsored by the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law in Melbourne on April 20. Don Rothwell, a law professor at the Australian National University, argued that the intervention is consistent with the doctrine of "responsibility to protect". This doctrine, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, endorses outside intervention to protect people from genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes carried out by their own government.
As part of a National Day of Action for refugee rights, about 250 protesters turned out to Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Detention centre on April 25 to show solidarity with refugees in detention and to oppose the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. The human rights activists gathered at the detention centre entrance. They were addressed by speakers from the Greens, Students for Palestine and two former detainees including Ali Bakhtiavandi from the Socialist Alliance, who had been held in Maribyrnong for 16 months in 2001 and 2002.
About 200 people protested outside Victorian government offices on April 11 against a proposed new gas-fired power station in Victoria. Five protesters locked themselves to a stepladder inside the building. The company HRL is planning to build its power station in Victoria, and the state and federal governments have committed $150 million towards it. The rally came at the end of the National Grassroots Climate Summit in Melbourne. The protest called for funding to be put toward renewable energy instead.
Locals from Lake Tyers, a small Aboriginal community in East Gippsland, set up a roadblock leading into their township on March 8. The action was to protest against a Victorian government-imposed administrator and call for a return to democracy in their community. The only exceptions allowed through the blockade were health service employees and school buses.
Residents on Camp Road, Broadmeadows, were surprised to see 300 people marching down their street on April 2, calling for an end to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. The march ended with a rally at the Broadmeadows detention centre, known as Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation. About 150 young asylum seekers between the ages of 13 and 17 are held in this centre. All of them are unaccompanied: meaning that they have no families with them.
On March 29, pro-choice protestors gave Melbourne City Council (MCC) a clear message: don’t mess with our free speech rights! Councillor Cathy Oke tabled a bulky tome — nearly 600 statements signed by individuals and organisations, telling the council to uphold the right to protest and stop using local laws against pro-choicers defending the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne against anti-abortion harassment. From the public gallery, placards demanding “Make Melbourne a free speech city!” underscored the message.
About 2000 people rallied in Melbourne on March 26 to support equal marriage rights. Speakers included Sally Goeldner from Trans Victoria, comedian Joel Creasey and James Campbell from the Melbourne-based gay and lesbian underage group and Minus-18. Protesters marched to the Marriage Registry at Treasury Place. For more information on the campaign, visit www.equallove.info
Twenty people attended a meeting in Melbourne on March 23 organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) in support of the family of TJ Hickey, a young Aboriginal man who died in February 2004 in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. He was impaled on a fence after being chased through the streets by a police car while riding his bicycle. Barrister Emrys Nekvapil told the meeting the case had been taken to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) by TJ's mother Gail Hickey.
Victoria's alcohol and drug treatment services have failed to keep pace with the growing substance abuse epidemic after a decade of neglect, an Auditor General's report revealed on March 2. The report reviewed the Department of Health's $136 million alcohol and drug prevention efforts. It found the system is flawed and underfunded after the former state government failed to act on 31 internal reviews during its 10 years in office.