Naarm/Melbourne

On February 18, a delegation of Victoria University staff and students delivered a letter to the office of Tim Watts, Labor MP for the federal seat of Gellibrand. The letter, signed by 125 students and teachers — in only two days and before most students were back at university — pleaded with Watts to follow Premier Daniel Andrews' example and advocate that the 267 vulnerable asylum seekers, including 36 babies, not be sent back to Nauru.
Campaigners

The sale of the former Ballerrt Mooroop Indigenous College site in Glenroy, Victoria has been put on hold indefinitely following a traditional owner settlement claim. Those campaigning to keep it in the public's hands are celebrating the decision, which makes the dream of turning it into a community hub a step closer.

Although about 99% of Victoria's volcanic plains grasslands have been destroyed by development, some outstanding remnants of this unique ecosystem persist, especially on the western fringes of Melbourne. The grasslands ecosystem was listed by the federal government as critically endangered in 2008. But at the same time, the then-Labor government of Victoria was initiating an expansion of Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary that would severely impact some of its best remaining areas.
The geologically recent volcanic activity across western Victoria created a landscape with rich, but often shallow, soils, that supported a unique grassland ecosystem. Climate, soil, herbivory and fire history, among other factors, have combined to maintain tussock grasses, such as kangaroo grass, as a dominant species, with small herbs including diverse orchids, daisies and lilies growing in the spaces between tussocks and few or no trees over large areas.
About 300 unionists rallied on January 27 outside the Melbourne Liberal Party headquarters to demand an investigation into Alcoa's actions after the American-based company forcibly replaced Australian seafarers with foreign workers. A simultaneous rally in Sydney attracted about 100 workers.
A former member of Bahrain's parliament, Jassim Hussain, who resigned in protest at the repression of the 2011 reform movement, spoke about the current situation in Bahrain and the broader Gulf region on January 24. Hussain said the falling price of oil has caused economic problems for the Gulf States. They have also spent a lot of money on the wars in Yemen and Syria. As a result, there have been cuts to government subsidies for meat, fuel and electricity, as well as cuts to unemployment and retirement benefits.
Boys at Xavier College, an expensive Catholic boys school, abused students from government schools on a Facebook VCE forum late last year, according to the Herald Sun. The Xavier students' put downs included “retards” and “povo fucks”. Girls were told to “let the men handle business” and “Could all woman please refrain from expressing there (sic) opinions thank you.” Obviously, the $25,000-a-year school isn't very good at teaching literacy skills.
A memorial was held on January 20 for two First Nations freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener. They were executed in 1842, the first two people executed in Victoria. Their deaths form part of the genocide that accompanied the dispossession of the First Nations people. The gathering marched to lay flowers at the Victoria Markets north wall carpark, where their remains and those of 9000 others lie in an unmarked grave.
The Victorian government has turned its back on a major commitment to not contract out disability services to the private sector. The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has been left feeling “absolutely betrayed” by the Daniel Andrews’ government’s decision to break an election promise that declared, “Disability is not for sale”. News of this proposal was not so much announced, as discovered in the closing paragraph of an unrelated document.
Forest firefighters employed by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have been battling the Andrews government for recognition as emergency services workers. Hundreds of the firefighters, who work in state forests and national parks, are paid $12 an hour less than a first year forest firefighter employed by other fire agencies for doing the same work and are denied equal levels of death and disability insurance.
Melbourne's Oromo community rallied on January 3 as part of a world-wide action in solidarity with the Oromo student protesters currently leading the ‪#‎OromoProtests‬ movement in Oromia, Ethiopia.
The Victorian government has turned its back on a major commitment to not contract out disability services to the private sector. The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has been left feeling “absolutely betrayed” by the Daniel Andrews' government's decision to break an election promise that declared, “Disability is not for sale”. News of this proposal wasn't so much announced, as discovered in the closing paragraph of an unrelated document.