News & Views

Statement of Concern: Unlawful use of OC Foam, 25th June 2017

‘No Pride in Hate’ Rally, 25th June 2017, Melbourne, Australia On Sunday the 25th of June 2017 Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of five (5) trained Legal Observers at the ‘No Pride in Hate’ protest that took place between the Carlton Gardens and Melbourne’s Central Business District. Legal Observers monitored and recorded…

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Our Activist Lawyers Network is launched!

A report on the launch of the Activist Lawyers Network Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) launched our lawyers network with Amnesty International-Victoria on the 30th May 2017. We heard from several lawyers with combined decades of experience in supporting activists and progressive causes – Matt Wilson (MALS) Rob Stary from Stary Norton Helphan, Meghan Fitzgerald from Fitzroy…

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Roles of the Activist Lawyers Network

Solicitors can play a vital role in protecting the civil, political and human rights of activists seeking positive change. They can help demystify the law and legal processes, provide concrete information and help activists make informed choices about protest action. Importantly, lawyers can reassure people engaged in civil disobedience by their presence, support and advocacy…

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About the Anti-Mask (Public Order) Laws

Since our article Anti-Mask Laws proposed in Victoria, was published the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Public Order) Bill 2017 has been passed in the Victorian Legislative Assembly and is now law in Victoria. This article has been updated on 21 June 2018. PLEASE NOTE: Masks are NOT be banned at all protest events–but ONLY those held…

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Staying Safe: Protective Strategies for Activists

Organisations like Protection International (PI) and Peace Brigades International (PBI) work in different countries with HRDs on protective strategies that can lower the chance of attacks and threats. Working together with activists and HRDs, these organisations have built a body of techniques that people can access and apply to their own work. Knowing how to…

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Submission to Inquiry into Drug Law Reform

MALS makes a further submission that “meaningful harm reduction” extends to include banning the use of drug detection dogs and strip searches at music and arts festivals.

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Anti-mask Laws Proposed in Victoria

Proposed Victorian anti-mask legislation could put at risk this and countless other forms of peaceful political expression and potentially undermine the freedom we have to assemble and associate.

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Statement of Concern: Treatment of Legal Observer, 11th February 2017

‘Block the Bill’ Rally, 11th February 2017, Melbourne, Australia On Saturday the 11th of February 2017 Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of three (3) trained Legal Observers at the ‘Block the Bill’ rally that took place on Swanston Street, near the intersection with Latrobe Street, at the State Library Victoria in Melbourne’s…

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What is this thing called Legal Observing?

And why do you wear those pink vests? Legal Observers, or Human Rights Monitors as they are sometimes called, have become a common sight at large scale protest events throughout the western world over the past decade or so and the chances are you have seem MALS Legal Observers in the pink hi-vis vests at…

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Lawful or Unlawful?

“I support your right to protest, as long as you don’t break the law…” How many times have you heard this statement from police, from politicians, from passers by, or even friends and family? A Victorian Premier, when questioned about protesters picketing a company building said that while he respected the right of people to…

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Are you a Human Rights Defender? The Statement from the United Nations Special Rapporteur is Worth a Read

United Nations special rapporteur Michel Forst, who members of Melbourne Activist Legal Support met with in early October, has released his report on the situation of human rights defenders in Australia.*

It was a powerful and important statement and has largely backed up what Australian activist, legal and human rights organisations have been saying for many years – that the Australian Government is dangerously impeding and repressing those of us in Australia trying to defend and stand up for our basic civil and political rights.

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Policing the Black Lives Matter Rally, Melbourne, 17th July 2016

The police presence at the Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally on Sunday 17 July, 2016 was notable for its sheer size and scale.* Everyone at the event would have noticed the long lines of police arrayed around the initial rally gathering point at the State Library forecourt and the various PORT – Public Order Response Team…

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Wired for Sound: Australian Police Purchases of LRADs

LRADs came to light in Australia leading into Brisbane’s G20 meeting (2014), when QLD police (QPS) invited protest groups to view the hardware to be used ‘to ensure protesters followed the routes set down for them’

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Statement of Concern: Treatment of Legal Observer, 18th July 2015

On Saturday, 18th of July, 2015, at approximately 12:43PM on the corner of little Bourke and Spring streets, in Melbourne, Australia a MALS Legal Observer had their mobile phone snatched out of their hands by a Victorian Police member from the Operations Response Unit (ORU) during counter-protests to the Reclaim Australia rally. The Legal Observer…

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Statement of Concern: Reclaim Australia and Counter Rallies, 18th July 2015

On Saturday the 18th of July 2015 Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of eight (8) trained Legal Observers at the Reclaim Australia and counter rallies that took place near the intersection of Spring and Bourke Streets in Melbourne’s Central Business District. Legal Observers monitored the actions of Victoria Police and recorded evidence…

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New Resource: Legal Handbook for the Coal and Gas Movement

A new resource for climate activists was launched in May 2015 by Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) member, Nicola Paris, who runs CounterAct. The launch was attended by environmentalists, farmers and people involved in the progressive legal community, as well as members of MALS. CounterAct collaborated with Environmental Justice Australia and the document was intended…

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Occupy Policing: The Eviction of Occupy Melbourne

By Julia Dehm and Sara DehmFirst published in Critical Legal Thinking, 8 November 2012. Inspired by the global call for action by the Indignados movement in Spain, the protests and revolutions across the Arab World and the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, activists organised to launch Occupy Melbourne in City Square on…

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ASIOland: Changes to Australia’s National Security Legislation

By Elizabeth O’SheaOriginally published in Overland Magazine. There has been plenty of hype over the recent changes to Australia’s national security legislation, and rightly so. But it is worth spending a moment to work out what actually is already on the books, what is new, and what’s coming. Prior to the recent amendments, the biggest…

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Know Your Rights: Victoria’s new ‘Move-on’ Laws

Police have always had powers to deal with protesters and picketers in different situations. Earlier this year, the Victorian Government gave police officers and Protective Services Officers (’PSOs’) some new powers for protest situations by expanding existing ‘move on’ powers. You may have heard this referred to as the ’Anti-Protest Laws’ or the ’Summary Offences Bill’. Whilst the new move on powers are undemocratic and can affect protesters and picketers, protesting in Victoria is not illegal.

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Is the Max Brenner protestors’ court victory an Australian legal watershed?

Adam Fletcher, Monash University The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is controversial on at least two levels. First, it targets businesses, which some (including the Victorian Government) see as an illegitimate means of political protest. Secondly, it targets Israel, which some see as inherently anti-Jewish. This is not an article about the…

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