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.
Especially as a new activist it is really important that you understand that there are very different laws state to state, or wthin territories. Always make you are you getting the correct info for you area.
* NEW RESOURCES *
JAN 2021 – NSW Your Right to Protest booklet Dec 2020 – Collaboration with Grata Fund
Rights for Activists – Nov 2019 – NSW (Nov 2019) – interim version
Legal Information for activists – WA (Oct 2019)
Crowdfunding for civil disobedience (Oct 2019)
- 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Be aware that some information on external websites listed may be out of date, or only relevant to various state jurisdictions.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. Please be aware that most EDO’s across the country are unable to help with criminal law and protest matters at this time, but it might still be worth checking in. The only one that has re-started this work with criminal defence for protest is being undertaken by EDO NSW – we are crushing on them big time!
- 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.
- Action Ready – rad new activist legal resource (2019)
- An 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)
- Police powers – your rights and responsibilities – Legal Aid (2015)
- 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
Australian Capital Territory
- Fact sheet for NVDA – EDO (April 2019)
- Legal overview – your rights, common charges and FAQ – WA – Oct 2019
- This legal guide for beeliar activists Jan 2017 was prepared by a lawyer and activists for the campaign to defend the Beeliar wetlands, 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.
We will be working on adapting our face sheets for these jurisdictions in 2019 – if you’d like to support with this project, get in touch!
FEDERAL – there have been recent changes to federal law that may impact activists that we hope to bring forward resources for.
COURT PROCESS – here is our guide to Considerations for the Court process – Dec 2016 update
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