(Photos from) SlutWalk Melbourne 2013 – 31 August 2013

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Slut Walk Melbourne placards lead march

Head of the march halted outside St Paul’s

See below for pictures from the rally at the State Library, including a series of speakers introduced by MC Karen Pickering; from the march down Swanston Street; and wrapping up at Federation Square.

Slutwalk Melbourne 2013 is on Facebook and the event page is here.

See also the SlutWalk Melbourne website.

Melbourne’s weather came up trumps for once with a perfect day for a rally. This site was not represented last year, but we were at the first Slutwalk Melbourne in May 2011, where the turnout was probably somewhat larger than this year’s. Some we spoke to mentioned only having heard of the event at the last moment, by word of mouth. However that may be, those who came were challenged as well as challenging, and the march down Swanston Street to Federation Square caught the eyes and ears, and hopefully the minds, of a tidy number of people – very many of whom pulled out their cameras to record the occasion. From the Facebook page we learn that certain threats had been made (this may have accounted for the presence of the men in blue to be seen in one of the photos below), but whoever made them evidently thought better of it on the day.
Mainstream media were not much in evidence, but there is plenty of comment, quotes and some photos on Twitter.
As hinted above, there was much that was challenging, both visually – placards and costumes – and in what was said. Each of the speakers contributed what were in fact nothing short of personal horror stories from different perspectives*, stories of rape and discrimination – but with the emphasis always on survival not victimhood. For the 2011 event the organisers were able to post transcripts of the speeches; there is a lot of work involved in such an undertaking, but it would obviously be admirable if it could be repeated. (One of the speakers was spoken-word artist Hanna Monagle, who delivered her amazing poem “What was I wearing” to great applause. There is, as it happens, a recording available of her reading this poem on a previous occasion – see her page on Soundcloud.) The exigencies of getting the photos meant unfortunately that on this occasion we were not able to make an adequate record ourselves.

*The speakers were:
Stella Young, comedian, disability advocate and the Editor of Ramp Up
Gamilaroi/Torres Strait Island woman Nakkiah Lui, “a playwright, visionary, dreamweaver and a feminist”
Hiba Casablanca, National Queer Officer for the National Union of Students
Hannah Monagle, see above
Matt James, trans identifying poet, activist, writing student and Victorian sex worker
Van Badham, playwright and novelist, columnist for Guardian Australia
MC was Karen Pickering, feminist and host of Cherchez la Femme
(Details taken from the 2013 page of the SlutWalk Melbourne website.)

Gallery 1 – people and placards at the State Library:

Gallery 2 – speakers

Gallery 3 – on the march

Karen Pickering wraps up at Federation Square

Karen Pickering wraps up at Federation Square


TELL RUDD, TELL ABBOTT – NO PNG ‘SOLUTION’ ’ – LET THE REFUGEES IN! – Rally and March, 24 August 2013

Part of crowd filling lawns at State Library
Between two and three thousand rallied at the State Library on Saturday 24 August (effectively this year’s Tampa Day, although as far as we could tell, no-one made this explicit) to reject and condemn the PNG “Solution” of Kevin Rudd and the even more extreme policies of the likely next Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. (The report by Socialist Alternative gives the figure on the march at “more than 2,000” whereas news.com talks of “a few hundred protesters gathered outside the State Library”. Not all who attended the rally joined the march – ourselves included – so the discrepancy in these numbers is all the more marked. The accompanying images should give an idea at least of the extent to which the lawns in front of the library were occupied.)

Another view of the rally

Viewing the rally from the north

Placard exposing role of private companies Serco and G4S in detention centres
This speaks for itself; on a related note, two days earlier, a number of protesters from Beyond Borders entered the offices of Toll Group “to protest the company’s commercial involvement in the offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers.” They released a statement and video of the action.

The Facebook event page for Saturday’s rally and march can be found here. As already mentioned, we were not able to follow the march, which was quite lengthy, so the photos below are from the rally only. Apart from the speakers, the focus is on the range of banners and placards, not forgetting of course the essential dogs:

Small dog rolling on its back on the grass before the rally
Large dog waiting at end of rally

Amanda from Refugee Action Collective was MC

Amanda from Refugee Action Collective was MC

Pamela Curr

Pamela Curr

Alex Bhathal of The Greens

Alex Bhathal of The Greens

Former Nauru detainee, Hazara Mohammad Ali Baqiri

Former Nauru detainee, Hazara Mohammad Ali Baqiri

Following the protest actions of 2-4 August an article appeared on the World Socialist Website which may be of interest for its critique of the position of especially The Greens and what it calls “the pseudo-left organisations, Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative”. (It should be noted, however, that this site is not affiliated to any group whatsoever – though it would be disingenuous to disavow a certain leaning …) The WSW site also carries details of the disturbing case of a public servant facing dismissal for privately posting comments critical of the government’s policies – http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/23/free-a23.html.

At time of writing there is no word of more rallies planned before the 7 September election, but two events were being circulated on Saturday: RAC (Vic) are holding a “Live Wire for Refugees” at Federation Square starting at noon on Saturday 31 August and ending at noon on Sunday 1 September – “a 24-hour non-stop community speakout for refugee rights” (details from livewireforrefugees@gmail.com), and the Refugee Advocacy Network have organised a forum “Is Australia in crisis? DO HUMAN RIGHTS MATTER?” at Kaleide theatre, RMIT on Monday 26 August at 6.30pm. Details at http://refugeeadvocacynetwork.org/human-rights-asylum-seekers-a-forum-monday-26-august-630pm/.

SINGLE PARENTS need to be HEARD and not FORGOTTEN – Rally 24 August 2014

Banner of United Sole Parents of Australia outside State Library

A chance sighting of a passing reference on another Facebook event page alerted us to this action, scheduled for the State Library lawns immediately before the refugee rally featured next (which means above here). It was lamentably ill attended, though as people began to arrive for the refugee rally some joined the audience for speakers delivering a range of perspectives on the situation of sole parents both overall and also specifically since the recent transfer of sole parents to Newstart, and especially the issues of affordable housing and availability of jobs.

Teddy bears – and an elephant – were pressed into service to spread the message, including this one at the foot of the statue of Sir Redmond Barry:
Teddy bear at foot of statue

Closeup of bear with message attached

Closer view

Closeup of message relating to rally

Closer still

MC was Kerry Arch of United Sole Parents of Australia:

Kerry Arch speaking

As well as introducing the other speakers. Kerry described her own experiences as a sole parent and read extracts from contributions to an online petition she organised following the introduction of the changes. (See also this article on Motherpedia)

Representing SPAG Victoria (Single Parents Action Group) was Bianca Pizzorno, who was recently featured in an article in The Age:

Bianca of SPAG speaking

Having survived two eviction notices already only thanks to help from friends, and at the mercy of cyclical contract work she is terrified for the future. She recalled how Kevin Rudd, then a backbencher, called on the Gillard government to ‘show a bit of heart’ when she introduced the changes; now she called on him as Prime Minister to show a bit of heart himself, not least considering he grew up in a sole parent household himself. From her work managing an online forum she gets messages from people telling her they want to ‘give up on life and kill themselves because they feel inadequate and unable to support their kids.’ Others have turned to prostitution because of the cuts. Then there was the question of homelessness, summed up perhaps in the shocking figure that “more than a quarter of our homeless population are children under the age of eighteen. On census night [2011] almost eighteen thousand children under twelve were counted as homeless; four hundred and two were sleeping rough.” (For a survey of homelessness in Australia see for example this report by the Wesley Mission. See also the website of National Shelter, Australia’s voice for housing consumers.

(See also this earlier article in the same paper: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/we-owe-it-to-single-mothers-to-ward-off-a-return-to-pennypinching-20130323-2gmt4.html.)

Another of the speakers was Alex Bhathal, Greens candidate for the federal seat of Batman:
Alex Bhathal speaking
Here is an unofficial transcription of her speech:

Good morning everyone, and thank you for being here for this incredibly important cause, which is really about the future of Australia, because it’s the kids who are the future. I want to talk to you today about delusion and the impact it is having on a significant proportion of children and parents in Australia today. Because I believe that actually delusion, a false impression of reality, is the key driver of poverty, in which over 600,000 kids in Australian families find themselves today. It’s a delusion unfortunately shared by both the Liberal and Labor parties, as well as by many policy makers and bureaucrats across government. This inability to grasp the reality facing ordinary Australian families has led to one of the more reprehensible policy decisions in Australia’s recent history, this year. It’s a delusion which instantly moves more than 65,000 families around Australia into poverty, instantly, overnight. And poverty is just one of the aspects that are problematic with this decision. On the Newstart Allowance, with its punitive activity testing and reporting regime, sole parents are expected to try and find work in a labour market where the workforce is over 60% casualised, and where shift work and irregular hours are the norm for entry-level employees. How do you find care for your child when you have to work a night shift at short notice? When you get rung up that afternoon and told to come in to work? And for plenty of mothers[? indistinct] finding childcare at all is an enormous challenge in itself, with waiting lists of three to four years the norm in many places across Australia.
In 2010 as the Rudd government was looking at introducing this raft of recommended welfare reforms, so=called reforms, I read a report analysing the barriers single parents faced when trying to enter the workforce. And the study focused on mental health, drug and alcohol addiction and the incidence of physical disabilities and illness amongst single parents. But not once did it touch on the realities of the labour market that these people are trying to enter, and not once did it mention childcare. The reality is that single parents face real barriers to work, barriers of a structural kind which have nothing to do with their personal deficiencies as the government [?thinks]. These barriers are things that they have no control over. the reality is that regular work with regular consistent pay of the kind that supports a family is actually increasingly rare in this country.
Another delusion is the regime of activity testing. [The idea] that single parents aren’t already substantially engaged in community service and caring activities and work is actually farcical. And probably the greatest delusion of all is that a family might be able to live on less than $450 a week or $538 in the case of a three-child family. And that somehow it’s OK for single-parent families to try and scrape by on incomes more than $100 a week below the poverty line. And this in a country with an annual GDP of $1.65 trillion.
And then there’s the fundamental reality which somehow escapes our two major parties and government bureaucrats, that children, being children, need care. In 1973 when Bill Hayden introduced the Supporting Mothers Benefit, there was a recognition of this basic fact. The so-called reforms and restructuring of our welfare system are failing to get more single parents into the workforce, and that’s a fact. What they are doing is making life much more difficult for
single parents as Bianca and Kerry have shown us today, told us within their own families. They are directly conflicting with single parents’ responsibility to care for their children. Because the fact is that it’s children who are suffering from the reality gap of the major parties.

I wanted to end today by reading a bit of writing from Elspeth McInnes, who was the convenor of the single mothers and their child organisation here today. She wrote this in 2001, which is well before the most punitive lot of changes to our welfare system were introduced by John Howard. So in 2001 Elspeth wrote:

“To return to the kitchen sink…
“My children are not interested in welfare reform, but they are acutely aware that there are competing demands on their mother’s time. The trade-off between compulsory paid work activity and the obligations of care presupposes a care-free child. No longer requiring access to parental care, the care-free child rises, eats and attends school by itself, travels home alone, completes its homework and after school commitments, prepares meals, cleans and washes up, tells itself
about its day – and puts itself to bed with a hug and a kiss. The care-free child knows the parent would be there if they could be, and it knows that it is important and valued – and alone.”

That’s the reality that the delusions of our two major parties are forcing on single parent families and children around Australia today.

The Greens are absolutely committed to turning this reality into a happier one. We want to restore payments for single parent families so you can get on with the work of caring for your children, the most important thing of all. Thank you.

Alex was followed by Kerry Davies, Project Officer with the Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC), Kate Borland of Save Public Housing, Godfrey Maose, Campaigns organiser with the National Union of Workers, Diane McAlpine (see <a href="http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/parents-fight-to-reverse-payment-cuts-20130205-2dwdu.html” target=”_blank”>http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/parents-fight-to-reverse-payment-cuts-20130205-2dwdu.html and Nick Costello, a rough transcript of whose speech can be read on the Facebook page of Parenting Payment for Parents – NOT Newstart

Kerry Davies:
Kerry Davies speaking

Kerry Davies closeup

Kate Borland:
Kate Borland speaking

Kate Borland closeup

Godfrey Maose:
Godfrey Maose speaking

Godfrey Maose closeup

Diane McAlpine:
Diane McAlpine speaking

Nick Costello:
Nick Costello speaking

Farmers against Fracking – march and rally 18 August 2013

The country came to the city on Sunday 18 August as part of the campaign against plans to extract coal seam gas in Victoria, risking the destruction of prime agricultural land in the process.
Here is part of a report circulated by Quit Coal, which helped organise the event (see also the Facebook event page):

…here’s the low-down of what happened – hundreds of farmers and locals from Gippsland and rural Victoria descended on Melbourne, joining their city supporters to march the streets. Colour, costume, chanting and tunes were a-plenty as the protesters, led by the Riff Raff Radical marching band, passionately paraded, demanding a total ban on all new coal and unconventional gas projects in Victoria. MC Rod Quantock kicked things off at the State Library before speeches from Gippsland locals, including beef farmer Tanya Brown and Seaspray primary school teacher Kirra Boulton.

A 10,000 signature petition was then presented to Greg Barber MLC, who is tabling it in Parliament today. We got some great media coverage on ABC and Channel 7 news, multiple radio stations, ABC online and importantly in local Gippsland media!* In fact, our voices were even too loud for Energy and Resources Minister, Nick Kotsiras, to ignore. In response to the rally, he promised he would undertake extensive community consultations before making a decision on lifting the current moratorium on fracking in Victoria. This means that the moratorium may remain in place for months to come, giving us a crucial window to build mass awareness, momentum and pressure both in the city and in regional Victoria.

Sunday marked a massive step forward for the growing Australia-wide movement against the expansion of coal and gas mining. It brought the issue close to home for city dwellers, raising awareness that this is not just an issue affecting locals who live close to mine sites, but that techniques like fracking pose great risk of contaminating Melbourne’s water and food supply, not to mention the broader impacts that coal and gas mining have on climate change.

*See also http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2013/08/19/579926_politics-news.html

This YouTube features the march in the rain up Swanston Street from the old City Square to the State Library, and excerpts from the speeches delivered by representatives of the farming communities, Quit Coal, and Greens MLC Greg Barber:

Rally for Marriage Equality – 17 August 2013

Head of March in Bourke Street

The ninth anniversary of John Howard’s rewriting of the Marriage Act to exclude same sex couples was marked with a rally and march in Melbourne following the pattern of previous years and ending with a marriage ceremony outside the Registry Office for those couples who wished to formalise their relationship “in an act of defiance against discrimination and to send a message to the politicians in Canberra that LGBTI people are tired of waiting for their rights” (from an Equal Love media release). It happens that both the main contenders for the seat of Melbourne in the imminent federal election have long histories of supporting equal rights – Adam Bandt of the Greens and Cath Bowtell of the ALP, and both were among the speakers, along with Margarita Windisch, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Footscray, Luke Hilakari, Campaign/Industrial officer at Trades Hall. Wurundjeri Elder Annette Xiberras delivered a Welcome to Country as well as recalling some of her own experiences – see report of the 2012 rally on this site and the associated YouTube video. There was music from Jade Leonard with support form Dolly Diamond, and Ali Hogg and Anthony Wallace shared the role of MC.
As well as The Greens, the ALP, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Party and small representations of a few unions (ANF, ASU. NUS and possibly others we may have missed) there was a bright and vocal band of Sex Party members at the rally and in the march, and the Facebook event page has a long discussion of the fact that organisers had evidently refused a platform for Fiona Patten, Party President and Victorian Senate candidate.

[Added Sunday 18th evening – front page photo in The Age today, article on page 5]

Ali Hogg

Ali Hogg

Annette Xiberras

Annette Xiberras

Ali Hogg  and Anthony Wallace, with Auslan interpreter

Ali Hogg and Anthony Wallace, with Auslan interpreter

Luke Hilakari

Luke Hilakari

Cath Bowtell

Cath Bowtell

Jade Leonard

Jade Leonard

Jade with Dolly Diamond

Jade with Dolly Diamond

Margarita Windisch

Margarita Windisch

Adam Bandt

Adam Bandt

Another view of the head of the march

Another view of the head of the march

Outside the old Treasury Building, housing the Registry Office

Outside the old Treasury Building, housing the Registry Office

The Minister who performed the marriage ceremony

The Minister who performed the marriage ceremony

Back of jacket covered with campaign patches

The person who held the portable PA

More photos, randomly distributed:

Monsanto and more – Northcote Walls

Another in our very occasional series:

Poster exposing Monsanto

We have no idea at all who has been posting these around High Street in Northcote, but there is a Facebook page for the Anti-Monsanto Project for anyone interested, and this report of the March against Monsanto on March 25: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/54213.


The new owners of this building on High Street:

Building formerly featuring street art

have seen fit to paint over one of Northcote’s favourite children:

Girl watering flowers - painted on wall


Wall painted over

Now – and the planter box holds only cigarette butts and rubbish

[Added 15 September]

On the other other hand, someone has pointed out to us that the young lady lives on, granted in a somewhat damaged form and wearing a different dress, on a wall by the entrance to the Public Library in Fairfield:

Girl watering flowers in box by  wall in Fairfield - partly erased

[Added 11 October]

On the other other other hand, a chance link has led us to this Facebook page, where will be found many more exploits of the young lady in question…

NOT IN OUR NAME – Rally for Refugee Rights – 2 August 2013

At the 5000-strong rally last Saturday it was decided to hold another protest within a week, and on Friday 2 August somewhere between 1500 and 2000 marched through the streets of Melbourne from Flinders Street station to the old City Square. And this in spite of miserable weather. The rally was organised by Socialist Alternative and RAAF (Renegade Activists Action Force), and supported and endorsed by a long list of organisations and individuals (see the Facebook event page). The opening rally was addressed by musician and activist Ezekiel Ox, Liz Walsh of the Refugee Action Collective, Hazara refugee Mohammad Ali Bagiri, Lea Rumwaropen of the West Papuan community, with contributions from Abe Ape and Muma Doesa, with Newdub Citysound and Trevor Grant of the Tamil Refugee Council winding up at the end of the march. MC overall was Jacob Grech of RAAF. With a starting time of 5.30pm and still some way to go to Spring the light was not too good, and naturally deteriorated as the march progressed, so that the footage of the final stages is rather on the grainy side, but hopefully gives some idea of the mood and size of the event:

Another rally is planned for the same time next Friday, 9 August, with a major event coming up on Saturday 24 August. Details will appear on the Rac-Vic website and Facebook page.

In addition to the footage posted here, which focuses chiefly on the march, there is excellent coverage biased towards the speakers posted on YouTube on the LeftAndcorrect channel – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeacJGdk8v4

The following mainstream media report may be of interest also: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/refugee-rally-disrupts-five-tram-services-in-city/story-fni0fit3-1226690421302