Torres Strait soldiers stage stay-at-home strikes to demand full pay and an end to discrimination in the army, 1943
South of Papua New Guinea (PNG) lies the Torres Strait. The strait consists of 274 islands, 14 of which are inhabited by a predominantly Melanesian population. Based on the 2016 census, the total population of the Torres Strait is 4,514 compared to an estimated size of 1,800 in 1943. Torres Strait Islanders are an ethnic minority in Australia and, historically, have been discriminated against by the Australian government.
Australian citizens force end to nation’s military participation in Vietnam War through Vietnam Moratorium Campaign 1970-1971
Australian citizens offered little opposition to their country’s early involvement in the Vietnam War. Opposition came from groups like Youth Campaign Against Conscription (YCAC), founded in 1964, and Save our Sons (SOS), founded in 1965. Other early dissenters included: trade unionists, religious groups, and those affected by the National Service Act.
University of Sydney students uncover and protest discrimination of Aboriginal people in New South Wales, 1965
In 1965, a group of student students at the University of Sydney who were members of Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA) embarked on a two week bus ride through several towns and villages in New South Wales to draw attention to the prevalent discrimination against Aborigines in Australia. This campaign is often credited with directing national and international attention to the ongoing human rights violations against Aboriginal people and leading to the 1967 referendum that approved two amendments relating to Aboriginal rights and status in Australia.
Greenpeace pushes for global ban on CFCs 1986 – 1995
The ozone layer absorbs ultraviolet radiation that can be very harmful to all forms of life. In 1974, however, scientists discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a chemical used in aerosol sprays, refrigerants, and the creation of synthetic materials, break down when they enter the stratosphere, and produce a chlorine atom, which then contributes to breaking down the ozone layer. In 1985, British Antarctic Survey scientists discovered a massive hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.
Australians Blockade World Economic Forum - 2000
The World Economic Forum (WEF) coordinated cooperation and activities for the largest and most influential corporations in the world and governments. According to one self-definition, it “engages political, business, academic and other leaders of society in collaborative efforts to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” Each year, WEF held regional meetings of 1000+ attendees. These leaders dominated the setting of economic and social policy around the world and promoted free trade and deregulation, often referred to as a “neo-liberal” agenda.
Indigenous Gurindji win land rights in Australia (Wave Hill Walk Off) 1966-1975
On August 23rd, 1966, the workers of the Wave Hill Station in Northern Territory, Australia, participated in a walk off led by Vincent Lingiari. The workers felt oppressed by the low wages, poor working and living conditions they received at the Wave Hill Station. The Indigenous people known to be part of the Gurindji Tribe were pastoral workers situated at Vesteys' Wave Hill station. The Vestey family was a rich British family that owned many acres of land and companies in Australia.
Australian Aboriginal workers strike for fair wages and equality, 1946-1949
In 20th century Australia indigenous workers were treated completely differently from the Caucasian settlers on the continent. Until the 1920s, for example, Aboriginals employed at pastoral stations in Australia received rations of clothing and food instead of cash wages.
Tasmanian Wilderness Society blocks dam construction (Franklin River Campaign) 1981-83
the Hydro Electric Commission of Tasmania solidified their plans with the
Australian government to build a dam across the Franklin and Gordon Rivers, in
the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The Tasmanian Wilderness Society
formed not long after this announcement to take action against the Hydro
Electric Commission and their plans to bulldoze the surrounding wilderness for
the construction of the dam. The director of the Wilderness Society and leader
of the anti-dam campaign for the following seven years was Bob Brown, a local
International groups boycott Nestle products to end indiscriminate advertising, 1977-1984
Artificial baby milks—so called “infant formula”—became widespread commercial product during the early decades of the twentieth century. Among many companies involved, Nestlé’s was the biggest promoter, controlling more than 40% of the estimated $1.72 billion market. Nestle aggressively pursued the interest from infant formula with indiscriminate marketing. The marketing that evoked popular indictment was their promotion of infant formula in the Third World.
Australian women protest conscription during Vietnam War [Save Our Sons (SOS)], 1965-1972
The “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” in early August 1964 marked the beginning of dramatic escalation of the United States’ involvement in the civil war in Vietnam. As a close ally, Australia made a commitment to support the United States’ intervention in Southeast Asia. To support the war effort, Prime Minister Robert Menzies’s Liberal government introduced conscription for national military service on November 10, 1964. A few months later on April 29, Menzies announced that Australian troops, including National Service conscripts, would be sent to Vietnam to assist in the American war effort.
Australians campaign against nuclear power and uranium mining, 1974-1988
After the United States dropped the first atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the initial shock of the weapons’ destructive power wore off, many countries became interested in developing electricity based off of the nuclear technology. Along with the exciting new possibilities that always accompany new technology, nuclear fission carried with it a whole host of dangerous challenges as well.
Australian Rainforest Action Groups boycott Malaysian rainforest timber, 1988-1994
Since the late 1960’s, companies have been cutting down trees in the virgin forests of Malaysia, most notably in the state of Sarawak. Environmentalists all over the world were concerned about the effects of deforestation on the native Penan people and the effects of logging on the rich biodiversity of the rainforests. In particular, environmentalists in neighboring Australia wished to raise awareness about the issue and provide aid to the Penan people. These environmentalists formed the Rainforest Action Groups (RAG), one in each of three Australian cities, Sydney, Melbou
Australians general strike for right to unionize, Brisbane, Australia, 1912
The Brisbane tramways, located in Queensland, Australia, were owned by General Electric Company, a private British company. Joseph Stillman Badger, an American, was its manager. He refused to allow the formation of any industrial union among the company employees. In other parts of Australia, tramway employees in Melbourne and Adelaide faced similar opposition and they were forbidden to wear any sign of membership of the union. The higher authority claimed the wearing of badges by unionists would intimidate the non-badge-wearers.
Hazara asylum seekers hunger strike on Nauru, 2003-2004
For decades, Australia’s notoriously strict immigration policy has prevented asylum seekers from residing on the mainland of the continent. From 2001 to 2008, Nauru, the smallest sovereign island nation in the world, supported itself economically by hosting an Australian detention center in exchange for medical and financial support. During that time period, the detention center hosted between 200 and 1200 refugees, mainly ethnically Hazara Afghanis. Hazara are a Shi’a sect of Muslims often persecuted by the Sunni majority in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions (BUGA UP) campaigns against tobacco advertising, Australia, 1978-1994
In the 70s and 80s in Australia, tobacco companies had free reign to advertise in nearly all media, and tobacco advertising was a visual mainstay throughout public spaces. In addition, the prevailing mainstream view considered smoking to be an issue of individual behavior change rather than policy solutions. Disillusioned by this, Professor Simon Chapman and three of his colleagues theatrically convened a public meeting in the lecture theatre of the city morgue.
Australians block cricket and impede rugby tour of apartheid South Africa, 1971
To South Africans and Australians alike, rugby is not just a sport, but a cultural symbol. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was also a unifying force between apartheid South Africa and its “white neighbor by the sea”—Australia. At the time, Australia had in place many racist policies that discriminated against Aboriginal peoples and the Australian public was only beginning to gain an awareness of both the domestic and international issues of human rights at stake.