The Victorian budget, presented by Treasurer Tim Pallas on April 27, is in surplus, due largely to a big increase in stamp duty revenue, to a record $6 billion a year. This revenue is a result of Melbourne's real estate boom. House prices have been rising rapidly. But the number of homeless people has also been rising rapidly. There has been a marked increase in the number of homeless people begging on the streets.
The Victorian law making it illegal for protesters to harass people within 150-metres of abortion providers, which were due to start in July, came into effect on May 2. Health Minister Jill Hennessy said: "For too long, women accessing abortion services have been unfairly abused and intimidated, and it's time it stopped. That's why we've fast-tracked the introduction of safe access zones so we can give women the protection they deserve, sooner."
On April 30, 1500 people rallied in Melbourne calling on the federal government to bring the all the asylum seekers in offshore detention to Australia. The rally was part of a national weekend of action. The rally was called after the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled that the Manus Island Detention Centre was illegal.
The Rana Plaza murders will not be forgotten: this was the message of a small but spirited rally on April 13 in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall. Organised by the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFUA) and other labour activists, the rally commemorated the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in which 1134 Bangladeshi sweatshop workers lost their lives and 2500 others were injured. The Rana Plaza murders will not be forgotten: this was the message of a small but spirited rally on April 13 in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall.
A Facebook page that rated the appearance of students at Melbourne University has been taken down, four days after the launch of a petition calling for its removal. The 'Hotties of Melbourne Uni' page had been active on Facebook for years. It featured photos of Melbourne University students posted without their consent. Law student Laura Blandthorn launched a change.org petition claiming that: "The Hotties of Melbourne University" Facebook page perpetuates rape culture, sexism and disrespect." The petition received more than 23,000 signatures.
Victoria has become the first state in Australia to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis. Children with severe epilepsy will be the first to access the drug in 2017, Victoria's Health Minister Jill Hennessy said, after the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 passed parliament.
On April 14 hundreds of disability workers rallied in Melbourne against the state government's proposal to privatise disability services. Privatisation will reduce service quality for people with a disability and make job security and wages and conditions less certain for disability workers. Before being elected, Premier Daniel Andrews promised he would not contract out public sector disability services.
Refugee activists Karoline Morwitzer and Emily Connors, who allegedly interrupted the Australian Open tennis tournament during last year’s men’s singles final by unfurling a banner demanding the closure of the Manus Island immigration detention centre, have had all charges dismissed. In the middle of the second set of the final, protesters draped the banner over the court wall. The protest was filmed by television cameras and broadcast around the world.
Several hundred people joined a rally against racism in Melbourne on April 3. Neo-nazis had threatened the rally but in the end were too scared to show up. The rally was organised by the Campaign Against Racism & Fascism. Speakers included Viv Malo from First Nations Liberation, Nazir Yousafi from Victorian Afghan Associations Network and anti-racism campaigner, Jafri.
An inner city girls' school will fly the rainbow flag in Melbourne to show its support for the same-sex attracted and gender diverse community. Greens MP Adam Bandt purchased the flag after putting a call out for donations last month so schools could fly the flag in support of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and inter-sex (LGBTQI) people. Melbourne Girls' College in Richmond will raise the flag when school resumes from holidays.
Monash University's draft Environmental, Social and Governance statement has ruled out directly investing in fossil fuel production — currently about 10% of their investments — and commits to phase out indirect investments in coal production over the next 12 months. While this is a great first step, the bad news is there is no mention of gas or oil. The statement comes after more than a year of sustained pressure from staff and students for the university to divest from all fossil fuel investments and commit to completely ending their ties to the fossil fuel industry.
Jasmine Pilbrow faced court on April 7 after she stood up for a refugee who was being deported on her Qantas flight.