A taste of some of the small actions and major events which challenged the state of Australian society and pointed to better ways forward during the month of October.
Note: This is a ‘live’ list which is continually being added to, we welcome your additions.
1 October 2004, Melbourne: Refugees, peace activists and others picket the Melbourne Arts Centre in disgust at Foreign Minister Alexander Downer being invited to address a symposium on ‘Iraq and Human Rights Challenges.’ Despite avoiding a rat trap laid at the entrance the politician was still served with a warrant to answer crimes relating to the invasion of Iraq and the torture of its citizens.
1 October 1968, NSW: The state’s first ever teacher strike is held demanding improved work conditions and education funding.
3 October 1927, Sydney: Aboriginal activists petition the NSW government to call for an end to the forced removal of their children.
5 October 1995, Brisbane: 4000 Secondary students from 45 schools strike as part of ongoing protests against French nuclear testing.
7 October 2012, Victoria: Following a series of packed public meetings throughout the region and promises of direct action, mining company ECI International gives up its licence to explore for CSG in a 500km area covering Colac and the Otway Ranges.
8 October 1989, Sydney: 1000 attend a rally at Bondi Beach organised by People Opposed to Ocean Outfall (POOO).
9 October 1989, Perth: Police evict members of the Nyungar community and their supporters who have been occupying sacred land at the Old Swan Brewery Site, but union bans and community pickets continue to halt destructive redevelopment until August 1992.
11 October 1982, Melbourne: Members of the Women With Disabilities Feminist Collective invade the stage to disrupt the Miss Victoria beauty pageant.
12 October 1944, Sydney: Striking newspaper workers produce their own paper and sell over 100 000 copies.
14 October 1967, Melbourne: Conscientious objector John Zarb is sentenced to two years in prison and receives a life membership from his union, the Amalgamated Postal Workers, for his stand against conscription.
15 October 2006, Australia: On International Anti-Poverty Day cleaners rally in all capitals in support of the Clean Start, Fair Deal for Cleaners campaign.
20 October 1989, Canberra: The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence cast out the demons of “homophobia, racism and National Party cronyism” at the Queensland Tourism Bureau during a rally over homophobic laws and violence in that state as well as around the rest of the country.
21 October 1969, Melbourne: Zelda D’Aprano chains herself to the Commonwealth building in Melbourne. Sick and tired of government and union footdragging, and echoing the struggles of the British suffragettes, Zelda D’Aprano chained herself across the doors of the Commonwealth Building in Spring Street, Melbourne on 21st October 1969 to demand equal pay for women. As she later recalled in her autobiography, “I felt strongly about the need for women to begin fighting their own battles…The press, radio and TV arrived and it was on. They asked why I was protesting in this manner and what I hoped to gain from this demonstration. I explained that I was protesting against the injustice done to women over the right to equal pay and, when asked how I felt about being the only woman prepared to do this, I told them that today it was me, tomorrow there would be two, then four women, and it would go on until all women were demanding their rights.” Ten days later she was joined by two other women in chaining themselves to the doors of the Arbitration Court, “the institution which refused to grant women equal pay for work of equal value… There was just sufficient chain to allow the door to open slightly and people had to bend down and crawl in sideways to enter the building. This was so undignified for the ‘important’ people and one commissioner told a union official in the building that he was lucky I didn’t know who he was or I may have wrapped the chain around his neck.”
26 October 2005, Queensland: In their first statewide strike ever ambulance workers stop work to demand improvements in staffing and conditions.
28 October 1937, Sydney: The Council of Action for Equal Pay is founded to gain wage parity for women.
28 October 1916, Australia: Defeat of the first referendum on conscription. In defiance of government censorship and repression unionists, syndicalists, pacifists, socialists, Irish republicans and others waged a long campaign to see military conscription defeated via referendum on 28th October 1916. In the run-up to the vote, tens of thousands rallied against conscription in Melbourne with 15 000 unionists holding a stop-work meeting and 60 000 joining a parade held by the United Women’s No-Conscription Committee. Having been asked, “Are you in favour of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of this War, outside the Commonwealth, as it now has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth?” 1,160,033 Australians voted against the bill and 1,087,557 in favour. Incensed at the defeat Prime Minister Billy Hughes left the Australian Labor Party, passed draconian anti-protest laws, instituted a crackdown on the vehemently anti-war Industrial Workers of the World. Nevertheless, conscription was again rejected at the second referendum in 1917.
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