News & Views

Victoria

Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Surveillance During COVID-19

During COVID, police throughout Australia have rapidly and aggressively expanded their already-considerable surveillance capabilities, spurred on by State and Federal governments pushing technological solutions for social control during the pandemic. Amid this, we’ve witnessed the expansion of Automated Number Plate Recognition technology to profile and record the movements of citizens in vehicles, particularly at State borders which have closed during the pandemic.

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Charge of Incitement

Earlier this year, several people were fined for breaching COVID-19 restrictions whilst protesting. They were protesting against the serious mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Mantra hotels in Victoria and the heightened risk surrounding COVID-19 for those detained. Whilst many protesters were fined for disobeying COVID-19 restrictions, Mantra protest organiser Chris Breen was arrested in his home under the charge of incitement before the protest had even begun. The police also seized his computers and phones during the raid. Given the evolving climate surrounding protesting under COVID-19 restrictions, it is important to have an understanding of the charge of incitement and how it is used in Victoria…

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Interim report on public housing detention directions in Flemington and North Melbourne

Executive summary The threat posed by Covid-19 has led to the mobilisation of state power and authority in new and untested ways. While the community has a shared interest in successfully containing the virus, early evidence suggests that enforcement of public health orders disproportionately impacts on oppressed, poor and marginalised communities. In July 2020, the…

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Calling out Australia at the United Nations

MALS Endorses Joint NGO Submission to Australia’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review Concerned with narrowing space for civil engagement and protest across Australia, Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) endorses in whole the joint non governmental organisation (NGO) submission to Australia’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review that was released on Thursday 9th April. The submission was endorsed by…

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Statement of Concern: Unique protest squashed by police due to COVID restrictions

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) expresses concern regarding the dampening of political speech and peaceful association in police threats to fine protesters A unique cavalcade protest that had planned to abide by social distancing restrictions has been banned by local police. Victoria Police threatened the organisers with a hefty fines if the cavalcade went ahead.*…

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What is ‘Strategic Incapacitation’ and why is it important for activists to understand it?

This post is an excerpt from our recent Legal Observer Report: The Policing of the IMARC Protests. Melbourne Activist Legal Support has tracked the rise in coercive and excessive crowd control tactics by Victoria Police over several years at protest events throughout Victoria. Victoria Police’s approach to protests has been characterised by a lack of…

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Legal Observer Report: Policing of the IMARC Protests

Download a PDF copy of this 45 page report here. Media: Legal observers find police ‘set tone of violence’ at anti-mining protests. Benjamin Miller, The Age, December 7, 2019. Executive Summary The police tactics, approaches and the behaviour of individual police members during the IMARC protest events from Tuesday 29th to Thursday 31st October demonstrated…

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Preliminary Statement of Concern: Policing of the IMARC Protests

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of Legal Observers at this morning’s protest events at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) that took place at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Victoria. The protest involved activists chanting, singing, holding banners, speaking and linking arms at the entrance of the Conference…

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Open Letter to Victoria Police

In reply and in light of protest events planned in Melbourne for the month of October we take this opportunity to remind Victoria Police senior command and all operational commanders assigned to public order policing duties over the coming weeks, that ‘disruption to others’ does not justify limiting the Right to Peaceful Assembly.

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Statement of Concern: The Policing of ‘Extinction Rebellion’

Princess Bridge Blockade and dance protest event Saturday 14th September 2019, Melbourne, Australia Please Note: A response by Victoria Police to the Statement of Concern is included below. On Saturday 14th September 2019 Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of eight (8) trained Legal Observers at the ‘Princes Bridge Block & Dance’ protest…

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Help us protect your rights to protest: Donate to MALS now!

Melbourne Activist Legal Support has launched our first-ever crowdfunding campaign, and here’s why. When people protest in Melbourne, MALS is often there behind the scenes. Our Legal Observer Teams in pink vests and cameras are now a pretty familiar sight on the streets of Melbourne. MALS is an all-volunteer group of lawyers, law-students, and human…

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What is this thing called Activist Legal Support?

Activist Legal Support is not just Legal Observing Many people these days equate Legal Observing with “legal support” partly due to the relatively high visibility and profile of Legal Observing, particularly in Victoria – Legal Observers stand out whilst back-end legal support training / arrest support / court support is far less visible to anyone…

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Statement of Concern: Policing of Invasion Day, 2019

On Saturday 26 January 2019 Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of ten (10) trained Legal Observers at the Invasion Day march that took place in Melbourne’s Central Business District.  The march, which was organised by the group Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance, began with speakers at Victoria’s Parliament House on Spring Street, proceeded…

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Event Report: 66 Records Label Launch, Collingwood

On Saturday 1st of September, to the morning of Sunday the 2nd, September, 2018 Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of nine trained Legal Observers at the 66 Records Label launch that took place at the Gasometer Hotel near the intersection of Alexander Parade with Smith Street, in Collingwood, Victoria. Legal Observers were…

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#NotWithYou: Why More Weapons for Victoria Police is a Very Bad Idea

Victoria Police have revealed it’s armoury of new repressive weaponry.

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Event Report: Invasion Day Rally, March 2018

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of seven(7) legal observers at the 2018 Invasion Day Rally and March which was organised by the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR). The team observed and noted police behavior, crowd control tactics and interactions with the public from 9.30am until the completion of the event at 3.30pm….

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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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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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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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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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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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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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