In choosing to participate in peaceful protest actions you can often come face to face with police. Here are some tools to assist you – firstly, with understanding your legal rights when participating in actions, but also some tips in dealing with police, as well as minimising the information you share with them if they happen to want to keep an eye on you.
In recent years, the government has consistently de-funded the excellent work of community legal centres and Environmental Defenders Offices, and so it is often left to community legal activists to do the work of supporting activists with resources.
- Our guide for the role of police liaison
- Facing police at protests – great overview from Activist Rights website
- Guide for how to write a witness statement (if you have experienced assault for example)
Be aware that some information on external websites listed may be out of date, or only relevant to various state jurisdictions. Please ensure you double check or get legal advice before relying on any information linked below.
Another project we launched in 2018 is our CLIMATE JUSTICE LEGALS NETWORK to support environmentalists and connect lawyers with activists, and mentor community collectives who are providing citizen legal education. MORE HERE.
- Environmental Defenders Office – find your local EDO and fact sheets for your state here
- Our comprehensive legal guide for climate activists (2015) with very useful general information also
- Activist Rights – excellent resource for all activists, and a great outline of Victoria specific law
- Lawyers for forests – provide low cost legal advice to forest activists arrested for nonviolent direct action in Victoria
- Melbourne Activist Legal Support – a network of volunteer lawyers and legal activists we are involved with who provide legal support, training and field human rights observers to protest events.
- A recent overview (2017) of a growing legal resource compilation.
- Activist legal hand out, including basic info common charges, frequently asked questions. Written for and by activists and checked by QLD lawyers. (Sept 2017)
- Police powers – your rights – Excellent updated resource from Caxton Legal (Oct 2016)
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal service – excellent range of fact sheets handy for everyone, plus info specific for mob
- Queensland Law Handbook
- Legal aid
New South Wales
- Justice tracks – an activist legal collective in NSW who aren’t currently active, though their excellent resources still available (check dates before relying on accuracy though)
- Get street smart – an excellent overview for youth, and others on legal rights in NSW
- Environment Defenders Office – information to come relating to peaceful protest, but useful information for law reform and environmental law
- This legal resource was prepared by a lawyer and activists for the campaign to defend the Beeliar wetlands in Jan 2017, but includes much general information for activists in peaceful protest.
There is limited activist related legal documentation in other states (Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania), but you can check the Law Handbook for each state, as well as Legal Aid.
Activist security culture, digital privacy & surveillance
- Our friends at Action skills have put together an excellent resource for digital security which means we don’t have to! Check it out.
- Me and my shadow – great way to check your digital footprint
- Ghostery – check out the number of people following you
- Cryptoparty – lots of resources
- Security Culture manual – from Ruckus Society
- Threat modelling for campaigners – Greenpeace & additional links
Past resources – these resources are now redundant due to lack of use, or law changes
- Fact Sheet Summary Offences amendments published by Melbourne Activist Legal Support March 2014, comes into effect September 2014 – these laws were repealed in 2015
- Fact sheet on ‘Major transports facilitation projects act’. The legal implications for peaceful protestors are outlined in this fact sheet: East West tunnel briefing – counteract 1 oct 2013. (to date these laws have not been used against activists)