CounterAct provides training, capacity building and resources to environmental and social justice campaigners across Australia.


20 years in jail

Posted on June 13th, by Counteractive in Legal, News. No Comments

This isn’t just a dramatic headline. We wish it was. No, in actual fact it is referring to penalties that citizens could be faced with for nonviolent actions of peaceful protest, under new proposed changes to the Espionage Act which could declare a range of peaceful activities as sabotage.

URGENT (update) – TAKE ACTION, these bills were passed in the Lower House Tuesday 26th with bi-partisan support, and are being debated in the Senate Wed-Thurs.

United Nations Rappoteur on Human Rights has been scathing in a previous visit about our human rights record, and had this to say about the proposed legislation: “We are gravely concerned that the Bill would impose draconian criminal penalties on expression and access to information that is central to public debate and accountability in a democratic society.”

For those following this debate at a distance there was a … Read More »

Climate Justice Legals Network – LAUNCH

Posted on March 4th, by Counteractive in Campaigns, Legal, News. No Comments

Exciting times! We have been doing this work informally for many years – providing activists with information and legal resources for being involved in safe, peaceful protest.

From brand new activists unsure of how to organise rallies and marches, to farmers who were considering peaceful resistance for the first time, we’ve tried to ensure that anyone participating in environmental and climate justice campaigns has the information for safe, and effective actions.

And there is a greater need than ever before with numerous state governments prioritising business instead of communities in laws that infringe on freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and other activities part of every day advocacy and change making.

SO – we decided it was well overdue to formalise this work – and open up a pathway for legal professionals  to support campaigns for environmental and climate justice. Join us, to … Read More »

Lawyers network launched

Posted on June 16th, by Counteractive in Legal, News, Resources, Uncategorized. No Comments


Anouska, Amnesty, MALS Lawyers Network Launch

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) launched our lawyers network with Amnesty International on the 30th May 2017. CounterAct supports and works with MALS and has found our work increasingly overlapping in recent years – as community legal centres get de-funded it is more often up to activists to self educate about the law.

We heard from several lawyers with combined decades of experience in supporting activists and progressive causes – Matt Wilson (MALS) Rob Stary, Meghan Fitzgerald and Danya Black.

Rob Stary is well known in Melbourne for providing pro bono representation for activists, but also for working with people who have little resource and need support – his work for the people who other lawyers won’t touch is written about more in this article.

He shared a strong perspective on the trends of policing that we have … Read More »

Damning police report launched – Beeliar protesters call for investigation

Posted on May 4th, by Counteractive in Events, Legal, News. No Comments

Beeliar Legal team launch damning report – call for investigation

A report is being launched today by the legal support team for the Beeliar protests that documents over twenty incidents of excessive use of force, unlawful use of pepper spray, injuries from horses,  tasers threatening minors, unlawful arrests, innocent people being strip searched and a culture of aggression and violence towards community activists.

In addition a community survey with more than 200 respondents, revealed a devastating loss of trust in the community, including significant and disturbing findings relating to more than 100 children and how they viewed police as a result of the protests – in addition to numerous violent incidents witnessed and experienced and a notably different approach taken to Aboriginal activists.

Beeliar Legal Support member Christine Duckham said, “Our team called for people in the community to come forward with their … Read More »

Battle for Beeliar

Posted on March 11th, by Counteractive in Campaigns, Case study, Legal, News. No Comments

Today the people in Western Australia will make a judgement whether they want Barnett and his Liberal government to continue. All signs point to no, but people are waiting hearts in mouths -will the result bring what country needs?

The last three months have seen a pitched battle at the Beeliar wetlands, in the south of Perth, near Fremantle… as the Liberal government have gone full force into bulldozing the urban bushland, and wetlands for a contentious road project that is expected to blow the states budget out more than $8 billion. As with the East West link before, and in tandem with the West Connex protests in Sydney, it is the community that has stepped up to say no to another unwanted road project. To delay work, to monitor the fauna management, to do everything in their power to stand … Read More »

Something rotten in NSW

Posted on April 15th, by Counteractive in Legal, News, Resources. No Comments

There is something rotten in the state of NSW. The strength and speed of the changes to basic civil liberties has picked up pace again with yet more changes afoot as Premier Mike Baird rides roughshod over long held legal principles and basic human rights.

Clearly NSW legislators have learned from the experiences of other states as community campaigns have galvanized opposition to draconian laws. Victoria pushed back effectively on the summary offences “move on laws”, with the Andrews government repealing these laws as their first act of government. In Tasmania they were amended after vocal opposition and are currently being challenged in the High Court, and in WA they are still languishing on the list of legislation yet to be brought forward for debate.

But in NSW the recent Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 was … Read More »

Burn the books! Stop the learning!

Posted on June 5th, by Counteractive in Events, Legal, News. 1 Comment

Oh noes! The people are thinking for themselves.

We have to stop it.

Oh hang on, we live in a democracy? Don’t we? Shhhhh. Maybe no one will notice.

Today we are feeling all loved, and getting all the warm fuzzies after becoming the new favourite pin ups (sorry, targets) of the Minerals Council of Australia and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) who are having all sorts of tantrums over the fact that we provide EDUCATION and TRAINING to grassroots activists.


They have provided detailed evidence, including numerous snapshots of this very website in their submissions to the parliamentary enquiry into the tax deductible status of Environment groups.

In 2013-14 CounterAct earned under $15 000 in tax deductible donations via our affiliation with Friends of the Earth. It doesn’t seem at all a disproportionate response to … Read More »

it is alive

Posted on May 14th, by Counteractive in Events, Legal, News, Resources. No Comments

Whew! After nearly 18 months since we first discussed it, we are so thrilled to say that our Legals Handbook is alive! And has been released into the wild. Much painstaking work in conjunction with Environmental Justice Australia and our fabulous interns, Jen and Orietta, many hours of edits, and fine tuning, and a lot of discussion, sourcing photos and graphics with our wonderful designer… and it is here. Thanks also to Victoria Law Foundation for covering most of the printing.

This was a deliberate collaboration where we hoped to strike a chord between accurate legal information, and a real sense of how interactions with police can sometimes play out – whilst giving a realistic perspective of the overstated, but often relatively minor consequences for participating in peaceful civil disobedience protest. It was designed to be approachable for new activists, trying … Read More »

Vindication: Move on laws repealed

Posted on March 19th, by Counteractive in Campaigns, Legal, News. 1 Comment

As the rapidly mobilised campaign in Western Australia to #protectpeacefulprotest shifts into high gear, we heard the results of a years worth of sustained lobbying, massive marches and nonviolent direct action has borne fruit in Victoria.

“We welcome the full repeal of the move on (anti protest) laws in Victoria,” said CounterAct coordinator and Melbourne Activist Legal Support member, Nicola Paris.

“I was in the gallery to witness the passage of these laws in March 2014. After simply clapping an ALP member the speaker closed the gallery to the public – those that peacefully remained for a few minutes to voice their concern at this undemocratic irony were forcefully removed by riot police. It was absolutely shocking, and we send our support to those arrested that day, who were standing with us all, for the right to peaceful protest.”

Our post after that … Read More »

When war comes home

Posted on October 9th, by Counteractive in Campaigns, Events, Legal, News, peace. 3 comments

It took a little while to sink in. The first indications we had that there was anything wrong, was that an ambulance headed for the gates of the peaceful blockade to the military base that peace activists had held strong for several days. Quickly, one of our number went to ask the police if the ambulance needed to get through. They instead turned around and drove away.

We then heard that one of our crew might have a broken nose. He came out through the gates dazed, bloodied, and holding the pants that had been cut off of him with a knife.

Pieces of the story came with each person who was released. And a piece of some of us got left behind. It is one thing to protest the nature of war, to stand sentry at the gates of a military … Read More »