The Legal Context of Activism

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At some point, most activists come up against the police or the legal system. Whether you want to set up a stall, put up a poster, hold a rally or blockade a building you may need to deal with the police or legal system. The gap between what is ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’ is often vague and is always changing.

Fear of the legal consequences too often prevents people from taking action for social change. It is important that everyone has access to information about their rights and the law as it stands in order to make informed decisions.

Because we have rights

No discussion of activist legal rights is complete without acknowledging the centuries of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander struggle against genocide and severe political and legal repression in Australia.

All activists in “Australia” today owe a huge debt to the First Nations activists who, throughout history, fought for basic human rights, social, legal and political change. Aboriginal people were the first of us in Australia to face the full force of English ‘common law’.

In fact, most of the important rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy in “Australia” today are due to the courageous actions of countless activists in our history.

In “Australia”, we do have a right to protest. However, many of these rights are not respected automatically or at all, unless we assert them and insist on them. This site is deigned to help you do that.

To help build resilience

Dissent, protest and social change are often seen as essential to a healthy, democratic society. But, as we know, from history and from the experience of activists around the world, governments, police forces and institutions such as courts and prisons can often be used to stop, prevent and repress people who seek to change or challenge the status quo. This is why an activist legal rights website is important.

Resources have been drawn from around the world and from our own experience here in Australia to help activists, organisers and legal workers to better support activists facing the police and legal system.

Ultimately, our aim is to help Australian activist networks and movements face the police and legal system, to build resilience against repression and to keep working for a better world.

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The Legal Context of Activism

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