Strike! University of Technology Sydney

Staff and students today took industrial action at UTS against the ongoing casualisation of the workforce and corporatisation of the university. Speakers spoke out against putting profits before staff, students and higher education.

Gadrian Hoosan and Nancy McDinny spoke on behalf of the Garrawa people from the Borroloola area and the First Nations Workers Alliance, drawing attention to the injustices of the Northern Territory 'intervention' and Basics Card.

Also represented were members from the NTEU, the MUA and the CMFEU.

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Shut Youth Prisons Rally - Justice for Tane

Photographs from a rally against ongoing Aboriginal Deaths In Custody - the latest of which was the death of 22-year old Tane Chatfield in Tamworth on the 20th of September, 2017. 

Around 150 people gathered yesterday outside the NSW Correctional Services centre in downtown Sydney to demand the closing of youth prisons as well as an investigation into and an immediate halt to all Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Tane's mother, Nioka Chatfield, his father Colin Chatfield and grandfather all spoke forcefully and emotionally.

The rally then marched to Surry Hills to the NSW Police headquarters where there were other speeches by Uncle Ken Canning, Doli Ufi, Elizabeth Jarrett, Kaleesha Morris, Padraic Gibson, Zachary Wone, and others.

The night's resounding chant: "They say accident, we say murder!"

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Some moving words spoken by Tane Chatfield's grandfather at the rally:

“It is very hard for a grandfather to see his grandson die before he does. It’s supposed to be the grandfather, then the mothers, then the sons and daughters, then the grandchildren. My heart cries out for justice; my heart cries out for compassion. For each and every parent, brother and sister, mother and father, for the ones that gone before.

People, please don’t let your loved ones go to jail. Because they are not loved in jail. Be strong and stand together. All my grandchildren here, I would give the world for them. I love them with all my heart, me and my wife. But I can’t take her anywhere now, until this is finished.

But to see my grandson on a piece of paper that comes from a place where they’re sposed to look after him… they’re supposed to look after him—where is the justice in that?

Please don’t let your loved ones go to jail. Keep them close wrapped up in your arms. Keep compassion for one another, and love your children to death. Grab them and hold them and never ever, ever, ever let them go. I’ll never ever let my children go.”

 

And from Nioka Chatfield, the mother of Tane, "I nominate myself. I want to be the last Aboriginal mother crying for my child."

Say YES - Marriage Equality Rally

In what was Sydney's largest rally in years, 30,000-50,000 people marched through the CBD to urge a YES vote in the upcoming postal survey for marriage equality.

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Love is Love

A photograph of equality campaigner, Sage.

In Sage's words:

"Fuck the system. I don't care about marriage, I just want equality. Love is love. Take care of each other. Stop homophobia."

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Clinton Pryor Arrives In Canberra

Clinton Pryor, who walked from Perth across Australia in a year-long journey of nearly 6,000kms, arrived on Sunday in Canberra at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to an emotional welcome by a thronging crowd of thousands.

The historic walk highlighted the many injustices against Aboriginal peoples, including the forced closure of communities, the killing of Elijah Doughty in Kalgoorlie, the NT Intervention, land rights, treaty and self-determination.

He is due to meet the Prime Minister with a list of demands this week.

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The Spirit Walker

A portrait of Clinton Pryor - the Spirit Walker - who walked near 6,000 kms from Perth to Canberra to raise awareness of the many injustices against Aboriginal people in Australia.

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The Great Disappearing Act - Last Day at the Safe Space.

Images from the last day of the 24/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space for the homeless in Martin Place.

Yesterday, residents peacefully withdrew from Martin Place after being threatened with new coercive legislation passed in Parliament the day before.

The Space was set up on Xmas eve 2016 and has been run by homeless people and rough sleepers ever since. Some residents were offered temporary accommodation (for 28 days) while others were dispersed back out on to the streets around the CBD.

All this happened during National Homelessness Week.

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Clinton Pryor, 'Spirit walker', Arrives in Redfern

Noongar man, Clinton Pryor is now on the final leg of his epic journey, after having arrived in Redfern to a tumultuous reception of around 300 people. Dylan Voller and Aunty Jenny Munro, amongst others were there to greet him.

Clinton has walked over 5,000 kms since he left Perth 8 months ago. His aim is to raise awareness of the many issues facing Aboriginal people in Australia. During his journey, he was given the mantle, 'Spirit Walker', having visited countless communities along his path.

Speaking to the thronging crowd at the Block in Redfern, he declared, "There is no justice in this country... The truth is, this country is living a lie."

Clinton Pryor next heads to Canberra, his final destination, to confront the Federal Government with his experiences of the many hardships faced by Aboriginal communities across the country. He arrives in Canberra on the 3rd of September.

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Clinton Pryor Arrives in Redfern

After walking around 5,000 kms from Perth, Noongar 'Spirit Walker', Clinton Pryor arrived in Redfern, Sydney, to a rapturous welcome from around 300 people.

More pics to come.

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Lanz - National Homelessness Week, 2017

Lanz Priestly, organizer of the 24/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space in Martin Place, takes a much needed nap in a wheelbarrow, where he sleeps each night.

For the last few weeks, Lanz has been engaged in relentless media interviews, press conferences and meetings with all levels of governments to try to negotiate the long term fate of the homeless community which sprang up in Martin Place in Sydney's CBD late last year. Up to 80 homeless people sleep at the Space every night.

Yesterday, the NSW State Government rushed special legislation through Parliament that will provide police with extraordinary powers to move the homeless on by force. Some fear these powers are far-ranging and could be used against all forms of protest. 

According to Homelessness Australia, homelessness is a human rights issue.

It says:

"Access to safe and secure housing is one of the most basic human rights. However, homelessness is not just about housing. A person who is experiencing homelessness may be facing violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to education, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to privacy, the right to social security, the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to vote and many more."

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Mark - National Homelessness Week 2017

Day Four in a series of posts during National Homelessness Week, 2017.

Mark has been sleeping in a tent in Martin Place, part of the 24/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space which is facing forceable eviction in the next few days as the passage of special legislation makes its way through NSW Parliament. The new laws are specifically aimed at providing special powers so that police can remove tents, belongings and residents from the CBD. Around 80 homeless people are currently sleeping at the Safe Space. No alternative accomodation has been created and it is not known where these people will go.

Mark has lived with severe depression all his life. He has attempted to take his life on three occasions - once where he was revived after being pronounced deceased. In his words, Mark has not just attempted suicide, he has committed it. The social aspect is what attracts Mark to the Safe Space. He cites this as one of the most important needs of most homeless people - not just a 'roof over their head'. Alienation is one of the key effects of homelessness, he says. The Safe Space provides a rare, meaningful and productive community for its residents.

According to Homelessness Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, homelessness has increased by 8% in the last five years.

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Melissa - National Homelessness Week, 2017

Another image as part of National Homelessness Week, 2017.

This is Melissa, who has been living at the 24/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space in Martin Place. The Space was originally set up with a specific focus on supporting homeless women, who are the most vulnerable cohort of people living on the streets, next to children.

According to Homelessness Australia, 44% of all homeless people in Australia are female. Nearly a quarter of all homeless people say that domestic and family violence is the reason they are homeless, and nearly all those people are women.

Under the NSW State Government's Going Home Staying Home program that targeted women's refuges, 336 individual services were 'consolidated' into 149, resulting in nearly 80 homelessness services being lost. Women experiencing domestic violence were at the forefront of these changes.

Since yesterday's negotiations between the NSW State Government, the City of Sydney Council and the 24/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space, the agreement that promised new accomodation for these homeless people has been reneged, leading to the State Government initiating special powers legislation that will allow police to dismantle the Safe Space by force. The legislation is expected to pass by Friday.

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Brendan - National Homelessness Week, 2017

A continuing series of posts during National Homelessness Week, 2017 to highlight the burgeoning crisis of homelessness in Sydney and across the country.

According to Homelessness Australia, there are over 100,000 men, women and children without permanent shelter. It is expected that these official numbers only scratch the surface of the real situation.

The photos below show Brendan, an elderly but exuberant man who has lived on the streets of Sydney for many years. More recently, he has found accomodation in Maroubra, but still finds time to visit the 27/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space in Martin Place. The space was set up and is operated by homeless people themselves.

Today, a tentative agreement with the City of Sydney Council was reached, to create a permanent site to accomodate these people. Until that rehousing takes place, the Safe Space will continue to operate as it has been for the last 8 months.

 

Russ - National Homelessness Week, 2017

Over the next week, I'll be making a series of posts as part of National Homelessness Week.

This is Russ, who is an artist and ex-chef, and was part of the Occupy movement in 2011. He suffers from bi-polar and mental health issues. Russ has been an on and off resident at the 24/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space set up in Martin Place since its beginnings, in late December last year.

According to Homelessness Australia, 1 in 200 people go homeless on any given night across the nation.

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Dylan Voller Leads Protest March to Sydney Opera House

Dylan Voller, one of the victims of Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, led a protest march yesterday from the Supreme Court of NSW, through the CBD, to the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

About 300 people attended the rally, organized by the Grandmothers Against Removal (GMAR). Speakers spoke out against the ongoing and disproportionate removal of Aboriginal children from their families, abuse of Aboriginal children in detention and continuing Aboriginal deaths in custody.

The event came not long after the acquittal of Elijah Doughty's killer on manslaughter charges and on the third anniversary of Ms Dhu's death in a police watch house in Western Australia. It also coincided on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day.

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From the organisers:

"The lead up to this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on August 4 has seen Elijah Doughty’s murderer get off so lightly that First Nations people across Australia have risen up against the colonial government’s racist disregard for children’s lives.

This disregard is also evidenced by the abuse, torture and injustice that accompanies the extreme, and growing, rates of incarceration of Aboriginal children by the criminal ‘justice’ system and removal from family and community by the child ‘protection’ system.

It is one year since Four Corners sparked a supposed national outrage against the horrific treatment of Dylan Voller and other kids like him at the hand of the state. But despite an ongoing Royal Commission in the NT, the abuses are getting worse. There are more children locked in solitary confinement in Don Dale than ever. Similar abuses have been exposed in juvenile prisons across the country in recent months, including here in NSW.

More than 16,000 Aboriginal children are currently in out of home ‘care’, many completely cut off from their family, land and culture."

Justice for Elijah Doughty - Rally

Around 300 people descended on the Supreme Court in Sydney to demand justice for Elijah Doughty, a 14 year-old Aboriginal boy, who was pursued and mown down by a white man driving a 4-wheel drive in Kalgoorlie last August. On Friday, a West Australian court acquitted the man from charges of manslaughter and sentenced him to 3 years on a lesser charge of dangerous driving occasioning death. The maximum sentence for this charge is 10 years.

The rally was orgainized by the Aboriginal advocacy group, Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties (FISTT). The protesters insist that this was a case of murder, another in a long line of Aboriginal deaths that have been failed by a prejudiced and racist system.

In a symbolic gesture, red ochre was daubed on the windows of the Supreme Court, representing the blood of Aboriginal people that has been spilt in the process of ongoing colonisation.

Speakers at the rally included Lynda Coe, Joe Williams, Aunty Jenny Munro, Shaun Harris and the mother of Ms Dhu, Geoffrey Johnson, Meyne Watt, Cameron Manning Brown, Elizabeth Jarrett, Raul Bassi, Paddy Gibson, David Chapman, Gwenda Stanley, and Albert Harnett.

Protests have been and continue to be held around Australia, with little or no mainstream news coverage.

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