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It is estimated there are over 30,000 asylum-seekers currently in mandatory detention, or living in the community, who could be deported at any time. The Australian government has no qualms forcefully deporting refugees displaced by wars (in which Australia is partially complicit) back to imprisonment, torture and even death. 2015 has seen a marked rise in deportations and an upswing in Refugee Rights Advocates taking to the streets, the airports and the detention centres in resistance to this cruel policy.

What follows is intended as a LIVING (that is evolving) blog-post to help welcome people new to anti-deportation actions and make us all feel bolder and safer.

So, it you want to get involved and don’t know where to start … you’ve come to the right place!

1: JOIN A PHONE TREE: The Beyond Borders phone tree is particularly responsive. Drop them an email at beyondborderscollective@gmail.com and include your nickname, mobile number, suburb (for carpools) and any additional skills or resources you might be able to bring to the mix.

It also helps to have your name on more than one phone tree, just in case one isn’t functioning at any given time, so also get your name down on the Refugee Action Collective’s list which lives here: http://rac-vic.org/subscribe/

2: PRE-PACK AN ACTION BAG: We never know when the government will trigger a deportation but we can always be prepared. Stuff a small bag with handy items (light weight weather proof clothing, low GI snacks, bottle of water, a torch and any medications you might need) and perch it near your door so you can grab it and be gone in a flash.

3: BUDDY UP: We’re big fans of the Buddy System in the Melbourne Street Medic Collective! We believe there is no safer way to protest … so spare five minute to check out this pro-tip. Also, if you have a whole bunch of friends who want to get involved in helping stop forced deportations maybe you could form an Affinity Group?

4: CAR SHARE: if you drive perhaps consider joining the aforementioned car-pool, or arrange with your friends to pick them up. It’s a good idea to plan the best route to the airport, and Maribyrnong and Broadmeadows detention centres before you leave.

5: SAY “HI”: When you arrive at the protest you are under no obligation to tell us who you are, but it certainly is nice and helps build camaraderie and teamwork if you know the nickname of the person you are standing shoulder to shoulder with on a picket line. We’re a friendly and welcoming bunch and will happily take the time to tell you what is going and to point out who is doing Police Liaison, Media, Legal Observing and Medicking for the action.

6: BRING YOUR SKILLS: You are not just another face in a crowd or simply another set of hands to hold a placard. We all bring something unique and excellent to a protest so have a think about what you could lend to the action. Are you super-hot on Social Media? Are you in a position to bring thermos flasks of comforting warm soup to cheer protesters on the gates at 4am? Are you magic on a mountain bike and happy to help out as scout for the day?

7: DEBRIEF: Always take time after an anti-deportation action to debrief. You are human and it is perfectly acceptable to be moved by the inhumanity of a system that is processing refugees in such a callous, industrial manner. After all, it is your empathy that compelled you to take a stand in the first place. Debriefing helps make sense of challenging experiences, and also helps us learn lessons so we can be even better at what we do at the next protest. You can always debrief with one of our Street Medics if you see us around, if not grab a coffee with a bunch of mates and talk about how you are feeling and how the action was for you. Check out our pro-tip about Debriefing if you’d like to learn more.

8: SLEEP: Sometimes we only get a few hours notice before a deportation takes place. The call could go out in the dark of night or in the cold hours of the morning. Whenever it happens we need to be sharp and be on our best game. Sleep deprivation is accumulative and leads to poor judgement, mood swings and slow reflexes, so when you get the chance to lie-in or go to bed early – give yourself permission to do so! That way you will have some sleep in the bank for when you need it.

Anyway, this post is intended as a welcome to those who wish to take a stand for refugee rights, and we hope it inspires others to join the movement against forced deportations. It is not exhaustive so please, don’t be bashful about leaving a constructive Comment below and contribute to our shared learning and objectives.

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This morning in Melbourne a group of anti-war and pro Palestinian activists shut down two buildings of the global arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

The action is on going at the time of this release with the activists locking down Lockheed Martins access gates and dropping a banner off one of their buildings stating ‘Medicare Not Warfare. Scrap the F35 Deal’. Another banner is attached to their fence and can be seen from the Princess Highway, it reads ‘War Profiteers – Your Tax Dollars Making a Killing’

Kaz Cochrane, co-founder of Whistleblower, Activists & Citizens Alliance (WACA) stated:

“As Australia embarks on yet another violent military campaign in the Middle East we’re asked to accept the justification of moral imperative to rescue ‘desperate people’; the same people our political class dismissed through the cynical euphemism of ‘collateral damage’, when they were killed in the 100’s of thousands by our allied forces over the last 10,” she said, adding “given the Federal cabinet have committed us to this destructive and inept war campaign the Whistleblower, Activists & Citizens Alliance are determined to expose the real motivation to perpetual war – Perpetual Profit.”

So who is buying into Lockheed Martin; the world’s largest weapons manufacturer & beneficiary of war & ‘defense’ expenditure?

By far the largest recent investor in Australia is our Federal Government who have handed over $35 Billion of tax payer revenue to acquire a fleet of F35 aircraft from Lockheed widely reputed to be technological ‘lemons’ while attempting to convince the Australian community to sacrifice their ‘free at the point of service’ medical system which is a foundation stone of our community values and wellbeing.

WACA co-founder Sam Castro stated:

“We are paying a visit to this corporate titan of war to highlight the F35 ‘lemon’ aircraft is a complete waste of Australian tax payers money.”

“Further the Abbott Government’s destructive foreign policy propagates an insidious cycle of political donations; funding of influential political think tanks; resulting in profit making collusion with global financial institutions, which create an agenda of perpetual war sold to the political class in advanced economies, who are entirely dependent on the patronage of heavy weight corporate & banking entities”

Sam Castro added,

“We are also here today to highlight Lockheed Martin’s complicity in the death of the Palestinian people in repetitive military assaults by the Israeli Defense Force as Israel continues to enforce the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Lockheed Martin demonstrates their capacity to generate and exploit ‘war markets’ by extending their 20 year operation in Israel to assist the IDF in their aggressive military campaigns, with their local CEO Mr Land, stating they want to be part of Israel’s ‘ecosystem’, which we believe can only be characterized as ‘genocidal’ ”

A peep hole view into the incalculable wealth generated for the arms industry and the global financiers who invest in the war market reveals in the build up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq Lockheed Martin’s defense contracts increased from $17 billion to $21.9 billion.

In the first month since Obama’s recent announcement of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Lockheed Martin’s share price increased7% delivering stunning profits to Australian financial institutions invested in the war contractor, including AMP US$33.5M; Westpac US$20M; Commonwealth Bank US$9M; Macquarie Bank US$51M.

Sam Castro stated,

“WACA calls on the Australian Government to scrap the F35 deal and use that money to fund universal healthcare, tertiary education and Indigenous programs. WACA calls for complete economic divestment by our financial institutions from Lockheed Martin and other arms manufacturers. We ask the Australian community to stand up and speak out against the state of perpetual war that serves only to make private corporations like Lockheed Martin wealthy and destroys Australian’s to make clear our intolerance for industries reliant on the perpetuation of human suffering.”

 

On Saturday the 2nd of August a group called Whistleblowers, Activists, and Citizens Alliance (WACA) called for members and allies to unite for an action in the city to show our support for Palestine and Gaza in light of the apartheid and unjustifiable extermination of their population by the Israeli State.

Over the last few weeks we have seen the news reports, personal stories, photos and videos come through from Palestine. For the last 3 weeks in Melbourne there have been rallies in the city to condemn the actions of the Israeli State and raise awareness of the issue within the community. At each rally there has been a good turnout, the speeches have been powerful, the energy in the crowd has been palpable. Last Friday’s action still drew a large crowd in spite of Melbourne weather and we remained in #Solidaritywithgaza in not only the rain but also through 2 hailstorms. As many people in the crowd pointed out “Standing in the rain and hail is nothing when those we are in solidarity with are standing in rocket fire and white phosphorous”.

Friday night gaza rally

The reports and images coming through from Gaza has been heartbreaking, seeing the total death toll increase, and the death toll of children rise has been devastating. Listening to the Israeli Government called for the extermination of the Palestinian people has been enraging. The group had decided that more needed to be done to raise awareness in the community, to get the average Melbournian to know about what is happening in Gaza. It was decided that creating as many banners as possible and dropping them around Melbourne’s busiest areas would be the best choice for a snap direct action on a Saturday afternoon.

Sam Castro, one of the organizers of the action and member of WACA had this to say about why we need to have direct actions on the issue of Gaza and Palestine “Nothing can stop the tears and pain that must be flowing in GAZA and around the world for those already murdered in what can only be described as attempted genocide by the Israeli Apartheid State. But we can all resist publicly in our own little ways and in doing so remind each other of our humanity and the truth.  We can let the Palestinians known, that if nothing else we bare witness to the horror being inflicted on those in Gaza and the West Bank. In a violent world dominated by corporations and brutal Empires, we see you Gaza and we bare witness to the crimes of the Israeli State”.

For our drop we managed to make 5 banners with various slogans explaining our position and designed to get as much attention as possible. We decided to drop our largest banner from the Arts Centre wall, where it faced back to Flinders St Station so that anyone on the Princess St Bridge would be able to see it.
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We then placed 3 of the others on the pedestrian bridge between Flinders St Station and Crown Casino, from here anyone along the Princess St Bridge, exiting the back of Flinders St Station or in any of the Restaurants on South Yarra would be able to see the banners.

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Our final banner drop was at Federation Square, this banner received the most amount of positive attention as there was an action going on with the Iraqi Christians against ISIS happening at the other end of the square. Several attendees stopped to have photos with the banner in the back ground and some came and spoke to us as we dropped the banner and posed in our photos.
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The banner drops achieved their goal of informing the community about this atrocity. It was clear from the response of people on the pedestrian bridge that there is a large portion of the community that doesn’t know about Gaza and the ongoing genocide of Palestinians. However people were happy to engage on the topic and were just genuinely unaware and horrified to hear about the issue.

Keep an eye out for more direct actions to come across the city in relation to this issue, but also encourage your affinity groups to make a stand and do other direct actions on the issue if you feel strongly about Gaza and Palestine. It is clear that more needs to be done to educate people in the community, and also to continue to show the people in Gaza that we are witness to their suffering and the crimes against them and that we will continue to stand with them in solidarity.

For more details on the action please check out:

WACA facebook page

To watch a video filmed by WACA regarding the banner drop please watch:

WACA video of Banner Drop

For high resolution photos please check out:

Free Gaza album

Writen by CJ.

 

 

Melbourne Activist Sam Castro sustained injuries protesting Victoria's "Anti-Protest Laws".

Melbourne Activist Sam Castro sustained injuries protesting Victoria’s “Anti-Protest Laws”.

 MelbSMC believe the best way to avoid injuries is to Be Prepared and to look out for each other. But, protest is struggle and unfortunately people will still get hurt by forces resistant to social justice & change. That is why being able to document injuries is an important skill for all activists, and especially so for groups who traditionally are singled out for acts of repression (such as people of colour, the homeless, transgender activists and even medics).

What follows are some tips on how to document these injuries:

At the protest:

  • Remember to seek medical advice as soon as possible!

 

  • Keep all evidence (bag bloody clothes to put in the freezer when you get home, save projectiles etc)

 

  • Talk to a Legal Observer who will record the time of the incident and may be able to talk to some of the witnesses.
Injured Protester

Ask a Street Medic for help. We maintain confidentiality at all times & can assess the severity of your injuries.

At the hospital or clinic:

 

  • If it is not a life-threatening injury consider visiting a GP or a clinic you trust.

 

  • Record the names of all treating doctors/ healthcare professionals who see your wound(s)

 

  • If appropriate – tell hospital staff how you were hurt.

 

  • Wounds like broken ribs, concussion or torn ligaments don’t show up when photographed so ask the medical staff to write up all your injuries in detail.

 

  • Ask for a copy of your notes, x-ray, scans (you might not be allowed them but ask anyway).

At home:

  • Take photos as soon as possible – severe injuries may heal quickly depending on your physical health and nutritional status.

 

  • Get a trusted friend to take a picture of your whole body before zooming in for detailed shots of the injured area

 

  • Stand in front of an uncluttered, neutral coloured wall.

 

  • Take images from an assortment of angles and think about who might be scrutinizing these photos at a latter date

 

  • To get perspective take photos with a ruler or something of standard size (like a coin) next to the injury.

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  • Use the ‘Date & Time’ tagging function on a digital camera to show the injury changing over a period of time.

 

  • Darker skin may not show up injuries so take photos in a well lit place, and be careful with a flash as this may bleach out, or reflect off the skin and make the bruising look lighter than it actually is.

 

  • Keep a diary of the injury as it heals and how it effects your quality of life.

 

  • Remember bruises will darken and grow over time.

 

  • Store all your paperwork, images and evidence in a secure place.

 

  • Keep all follow-up care or Doctor appointments!

 

  • Debrief frequently with your friends, loved ones or affinity group.

 

Cecily McMillan shows the hand-shaped bruise on her right breast, which she testified was made by NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell when he accosted her from behind.

Cecily McMillan shows the hand-shaped bruise on her right breast, which she testified was made by NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell when he accosted her from behind.

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This morning a number of medics from Melbourne Street Medic Collective attended the East-West Tunnel community picket of Lend Lease in Docklands in order to support and assist picketers. Lend Lease is being targeted as one of the fore-runners in the bidding process to build the East-West tunnel link. We have supported this campaign as individuals and as a collective for some time and plan to continue this support into the future.

This morning’s action was notable for the level of brutality and violence employed by Victoria Police against picketers. At last week’s picket, organisers arranged to allow non-Lend Lease workers to enter the building after showing ID, and a similar proposal was raised today. However, Victoria Police – seemingly reeling from the positive media coverage generated by last week’s picket – refused to allow this, and instead chose to use workers (mostly from Fujitsu) as tools to create violence and negative press coverage.

Instead of allowing small groups of workers to enter the building calmly and safely, Victoria Police used several members of the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to break through the community picket and violently thrust workers into the building, while causing distress and injury to those on the picket. Victoria Police did not merely play a passive response to non-Lend Lease employees’ desires to enter the building: on a number of occasions, Victoria Police officers were seen chasing after workers who had decided not to cross the picket line in order to convince them to change their mind and provide another opportunity to inflict violence upon the peaceful picketers.

As a result of Victoria Police’s actions we were required to provide care for a number of injuries. These included minor injuries (cuts and scratches) as well as more serious ones: one person reported an injured shoulder, another received treatment for a sprained ankle. Two people were offered treatment after having their legs trampled and pinned by police and another received treatment for a head injury.

As well as providing care for injuries we provided water and rescue remedy to keep picketers hydrated and in good spirits and we can happily report that the mood was definitely positive.

It cannot be said more clearly that our need to provide medical care stemmed directly from Victoria Police’s decision to employ violence as a tactic to break the community picket. As was acknowledged in the debriefing session after the picket this morning, the Napthine Government’s use of violence to oppose the tunnel picket campaign is proof of their lack of solid justification for the project. The cynical use of workers as collateral in the attempt to destroy the tunnel picket campaign can only be condemned and shows that Victoria Police and the Napthine Government will go to great lengths to ensure this project will continue: even placing the safety of Victorians in jeopardy.

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At the beginning of the year a number of our crew were interviewed by Nick & Katie from Perth’s Progressive Podcast. We talked about the history of Street Medicine, Occupy (Melbourne), organizing using Anarchist principles, Activist Burnout and building Affinity Groups.

Click on the image below to listen to the complete interview.

And if you are desperate to hear independent media in Australia:

be sure to listen to the Progressive Podcast each and every month.

ProgPodcast Interview

On Friday the 10th of May there was a nation wide action, calling for the end of mandatory detention and also for an end to the imprisonment of the ASIO Negative assessment refugees. We attended the Midday vigil out the front of DFAT (Casselden Place, Melbourne) to show our support to refugees and the demand to ending indefinite detention.

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In debates around the Middle East, and in particular the Israel/Palestine conflict, Edward Said’s sentiment (that “malicious generalisations about Islam have become the last acceptable form of denigration of foreign culture in the West”) is often invoked to explain the denigration and outright exclusion of the Palestinian peoples. Although I disagree with Said’s sentiment – a cursory examination of comments regarding welfare quarantining and the Northern Territory Intervention providing a wealth of evidence to that effect – it is not without merit. Certainly, Muslims have emerged as prominent pariahs in Australia and Western society more generally. Only a few months ago Alan Jones lost his appeal against being held accountable for inciting the Cronulla Riots (2005) and in the aftermath of a protest in Sydney against the film Innocence of Muslims Andrew Bolt weighed in with a column simply titled “We let them in. Now they threaten“. As an historian of Australian society I would suggest that the general attitude towards Muslims in Australia closely resembles the old hatred and suspicion of Catholics amongst the white, Anglican community with the added stain of racism – anyone who has heard a racist go off on a diatribe would know that all it takes to be classed as a Muslim is to not be white, have an accent and otherwise have offended the sensibilities of someone mired in the values of the 1950s. To this end it is fairly easy to conclude that concerns around the “security threat” of asylum seekers were born from the misconception that all asylum seekers are Muslim.

The campaigns of hatred against Muslims are more prevalent than one might initially suspect and tied up with all manner of other Right-wing or plainly lunatic issues. As someone who lived in Geelong for a number of years it was quite a shock to see a far-Right group had placed stickers around the CBD advocating violence against and deportation of Muslims; Geelong was also the hometown of “Ban the Burqa Day” which, despite national media coverage, only managed to rouse two people: the organiser and his flatmate. In Clayton, a proposal (now approved) to build a new Mosque for students was met with a number of objections but none so outrageous as that lodged by the Monash Uniting Church chairman, Richard Farrell, who said that “a mosque is a training ground for religious moderates at one end of the scale and religious fanatics at the other end …such opinions in extreme cases can promote “jihad” and the destruction of the “infidel” right up to teaching about assassination and bombing of Christian and other establishments.” As well as being reminiscent of anti-Irish sentiments during the 20th century, Farrell’s argument rather ignores the fact that such broadbased criticism could (and was) used against Churches at various points.

At almost the same time, the City of Casey council was caught up in another fight over an application to build a Mosque. One Councillor, Sam Aziz, waged an almost hysterical campaign against the proposed Mosque, threatening to resign as Deputy Mayor and complaining about freedom of speech issues when his calls to invite speakers to address the Council on “the dangers of Islam” were soundly, and repeatedly, rejected. Of the numerous and well known Islamophobes promoted by Cr Aziz was Pastor Danny Nalliah who (incidentally) had a proposal before Council at the same time to build a new Church – next door to the proposed Mosque site. Nalliah’s complaints against the Mosque were varied and wild: as well as saying “I don’t think we can live side by with a mosque next to us based on what’s happening in Europe,” Nalliah claimed that the Mosque would cause local residents to become “fed up” and sell their houses. These houses would then be bought by Muslims, creating a “Sharia zone” in the local area. None of the articles suggested why locals might become fed up – even the possibility of disturbance by the Call to Prayer was mooted by one Mosque supporter who said “We don’t have loudspeakers and we don’t want to have loudspeakers. And would the church have a bell?”

If the name Pastor Danny Nalliah sounds familiar, it may be because he claimed that the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed nearly 180 people, were caused by the passage of abortion laws in the Victorian State Parliament. Or perhaps you may have caught the Australian describing him as a “fanatic” in an article quoting Senator Barnaby Joyce as saying, “This is the lunatic Right, this is crazy, ill-informed stuff… These are not the sort of people you do preference deals with.” Maybe you read the news that he has launched a new, far-Right Party (Rise Up Australia) with the support of “Lord” Christopher Monckton, climate skeptic extraordinaire. It is an uncomfortable position to ever agree withBarnaby Joyce but his description could not have been more apt when considering some of the quotes to come from Nalliah’s speech to launch Rise Up Australia: “I think God created Chinese fried rice, and I love pizza … but please do not come and tell me that sharia law should be introduced in Australia. You go back to where you came from.”

The issue of whether the Left should support Muslims has been debated intensely over many years, but I would recommend reading the Overland’s debate on the issue. In any case where a minority is being oppressed and victimised simply for being part of the “Other”, the Left should come to their support. When a prominent voice of hatred places itself within our reach, we should be prepared to meet them and drown out their hate. When this comes with the threat of violence, Street Medics have an important role to play in mitigating that violence and supporting those who make a stand against hatred.

On February 19th the Dutch politician Geert Wilders will be addressing Melburnian audiences at the invitation of the Q Society. One of the most prominent Islamophobes worldwide, Wilders has enjoyed the support of many conservative and far-Right politicians and activists: Anders Breivik, the English Defence League, Paul Sheehan of the Age, Menzies House (ardent supporters of Andrew Bolt and Corey “Bestiality” Bernardi) and… Pastor Danny Nalliah. Some try to excuse his politics with nuanced discussions on Islam and feminism, terrorism and the like but even if the arguments were not flawed from the start they would remain irrelevant as their conclusion is that Islam should be killed off before it kills the West. The likelihood of groups like the English Defence League engaging with issues like feminism is patently ridiculous and one would expect that Wilders knows his views are an incitement to murder.

When Wilders gives his speech in Melbourne on the 19th of February, we will be there to meet him and drown him out. If Wilders’ supporters carry through with threats of violence, we as Street Medics will be there to support progressive activists.

 

For more information on the rally, please visit this Facebook event.

There will be two organising meetings: one on Wednesday 13th of February and another on Saturday 16th to finalise all the details and tactics followed by a working bee to make the placards to be used on Tuesday evening.

 

[This article was written by Zoidberg, a Street Medic with MelbSMC

 

On a sweltering hot day, the 24th of November, 100s of Melburnians gathered to defend the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne against the pro-life activists who regularly harass women and their partners using this clinic for termination of unwanted or medically risky pregnancies. This was the first action for the newly formed Melbourne Feminist Action collective, of which some Melbourne FACT members are a part, along with many other fine feminist organisers and political activists in Melbourne. After some inspiring speeches by Debbie Brennan of Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights (women are not incubators!), Colleen Hartland of the Greens (speaking on her own experience of using termination services), and Karen Pickering of Slutwalk and Cherchev la Femme (80% of the public support abortion rights, opponents of women’s right to choose are a small minority!), clinic defenders marched to City Square in celebration of the gains of the feminist movement in securing safe access to sexual and reproductive services in Victoria.

Thanks to good organisation, thoughtful social media health and safety promotion, and super-prepared activists on the day, there were no incidents needing first aid attention at the event. Nevertheless, Melbourne FACT street medics were prepared to help any one who needed it, we want rallies such as these to be empowering spaces and know sometimes that accidents and health-related incidents do happen. The only incident worth noting was a young pro-life activist who had fallen on the tram tracks in pursuit of Melbourne Feminist Action marchers, FACT appreciate the graciousness of this particular young woman requesting first aid and engaging in polite conversation about our opposing positions. It is my opinion that young people (particularly children) coerced into joining antagonistic pro-life actions deserve our sympathy, not our hatred. Indoctrination into neo-conservative religious and political cultures disempowers individuals, I feel it is better to offer kindness and demonstrate clearly there are realistic alternatives different to the ones they are taught by their institutions and patriarchs to fear.

My own personal experience of the Melbourne Feminist Collective and the rally to defend women’s right to choose has been a joyful one due my long-term involvement with this issue- I worked for Family Planning NZ as younger woman and was exposed to the multitude of reasons women and their families seek termination of pregnancy services. I’m proud of being able to help these people. To me, unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy is a fact of life and women need to have access to unbiased services where they can be appropriately counselled on their choices. It is my hope that we can grow a feminist movement influential enough to extend family planning and safe clinical services to all women in Australia, irrespective of whether they can afford the services or not. Additionally, we can see from the example of the recent U.S. elections that candidate’s policies on women’s reproductive choices can make or break political careers. I call on supporters of women’s rights and family planning services to mobilise around this issue as one that can have major impact on the 2013 Federal elections in Australia, let’s oust neo-conservatism and sexism from Australian politics!

http://www.facebook.com/MelbFemAction            @MelbFemAction

http://www.facebook.com/CWRRMelbourne            @CRWWmelbourne

 

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