Police Investigating Police: Business as Usual in Victoria

By Nick Pendergrast

Family and friends of Tanya Day, who died while in police custody.
Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP.

Calla Wahlquist has recently reported in the Guardian that a ‘coroner investigating the death in custody of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day has referred the case to the department of public prosecutions to determine whether criminal negligence has occurred’. This is a rare example where police actions in Victoria will be given oversight by a body separate from the police.

Earlier this year, this problem of police investigating police was highlighted in a passionate and informative Invasion Day speech by Apryl Day, the daughter of Tanya Day.

Apryl Day speaking at the 2020 Invasion Day rally in Melbourne.

This issue of police investigating police is something I’ve looked into further, by drawing on the latest Annual Report by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), who investigate complaints against police in Victoria, where Tanya Day’s death occurred.

Table 23 of this report shows that only 27/3709 allegations related to Victoria Police in 2017/2018 were investigated by IBAC (0.7%). 1827 were dismissed (49.3%), 981 were referred to another body, including the Victoria police (26.4%), 864 (23.3%) were ‘Noted’ which means investigated by Victoria police, with IBAC have the option to review Victoria Police’s investigation and 10 (0.3%) were ‘Returned’ to Victoria police.

So police investigating police is certainly regularly the case in Victoria.

But out of the 0.7% of allegations that are actually investigated by IBAC, how many actually result in any consequences for the officer/s involved? It seems that this data specifically is not in the report, but Table 8 shows an overall figure of 35/6293 complaints (against a public body or officer OR Victoria Police employees) ending up with criminal proceedings or brief of evidence to Office of Public Prosecutions (less than 0.6%). Table 5 shows 81/6293 (1.3%) of overall complaints were investigated by IBAC, compared to only 0.7% of complaints against police, meaning that the total number of complaints against police specifically leading to criminal proceedings or brief of evidence to Office of Public Prosecutions is likely to be a lower proportion than the overall number, but even if we take the same overall rate (35/81 = 43%) and apply that to the police specifically, this would mean that only about 11.6 out of the 27 allegations against police that were investigated by IBAC led to criminal proceedings or brief of evidence to Office of Public Prosecutions – about 0.3% of total complaints against police.

Having this institution in society that acts with nearly total impunity and mostly investigates itself is very dangerous.

Nationwide media campaign to address the climate emergency

This is a campaign that Katie came up with and sent to a range of organisations that are advocating for the environment.

Objective: To facilitate an immediate change in Coalition policy on climate change so that we can respond appropriately to the climate emergency.

Platforms: Traditional media (newspaper, television, radio, etc), new media (blogs, digital news websites, etc) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc).

Facilitators: Collaboration by any organisations willing to sign up. Those invited include Get Up, the Australian Greens, 350.org, Extinction Rebellion Australia, Animal Justice Party, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Uni Students for Climate Justice, Beyond Zero Emissions, Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Friends of the Earth Melbourne, Climate Action Network Australia, Climate Council, Climate Change Research Centre, School Strike for the Climate, Australian Conservation Foundation, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Greenpeace Australia, Seed, Psychology for a Safe Climate, Science Teachers for Climate Awareness, the Wilderness Society, The Jewish Ecological Coalition, WWF, The Earth Systems and Climate Change, Australian Academy of Science, Lawyers For Climate Justice Australia, the AMA, the ACTU, We Mean Business, Australian Parents for Climate Action. Please invite any other groups you believe would be interested.

Demands: Decided by consensus by climate scientists through organisations such as Climate Change Research Centre and The Earth Systems and Climate Change. Demands listed below are taken from WWF Australia website but if climate scientists would like to add or amend them, they should have full control over the list of demands.

Funding: Crowdfunding through the public and donations sought from member groups.

Suggested script:

Dear Mr Morrison

We can no longer ignore the impacts of climate change on our country and the world.

People have lost their lives, over a billion animals have died and thousands of homes destroyed.

Businesses have collapsed, tourism has been decimated and the air quality in Australia has at times been the worst in the world.

And this is only with an average worldwide temperate increase of 1 degree.

We must take action.

We know from the Australia Talks survey that climate change is the leading concern for Australians.

84% of us say climate change is real and action should be taken.

It’s not about left or right, Liberal vs Labor.

It’s about listening to the scientists.

We are a coalition of lawyers, doctors, teachers, firefighters, business owners, parents and children.

We know there are things we can do on an individual level – eat a plant-based diet, reduce our consumption, change our transport.

But we need you too.

We need you to listen to the scientists.

It’s not something that can be negotiated.

In order to avoid catastrophic warming, Australia must do the following*:

• Help limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century by leading the way with a global agreement at COP26 – to achieve this drastic action must be taken within the next decade.

• Achieving net-zero carbon pollution in Australia before 2050

• Achieving 100% renewable energy in Australia before 2050, including 100% renewable electricity before 2035.

• Keeping 80% of coal in the ground

*Demands adapted from WWF Australia website, but subject to change pending consensus of scientists.

The New Normal

By Katie

Today I woke up to the smell of smoke in my apartment. I couldn’t see the city. I rugged up for work on this summer’s day and walked out into the rain. The combination of rain and smoke haze is unsettling.

At work, colleagues discuss the need to buy face masks. Officeworks has sold out, as has Bunnings. I order three masks online but they won’t arrive for weeks. My manager has been sending out an email to our team, saying that the smell of smoke is not from a fire in the building. People are smelling smoke in the office and thinking there is a fire.

My workplace runs Disaster Legal Help, a special phone line for people who need legal support related to a disaster. We are inundated with calls today and the wait times reach 2 hours.

In the meantime, my headaches are triggered each time the haze returns. The rain hasn’t been strong enough to wash it away. It reminds me of Beijing, where the only day I saw the sun was after a typhoon.

I see many people wearing masks in the CBD, but most don’t have the proper ones for protection. I see one pregnant woman who has the correct mask. On the tram, visitors from the country are discussing the need to stock up on food and water supplies before returning home.

It’s a relief to get home and inside, although the smell of smoke still permeates the air. Welcome to the new normal.

Donald Trump

Hoping For More Prayers Rather Than Bombs: A Response to Donald Trump’s Comments on Venezuela

By Nick Pendergrast

US President Donald Trump speaks during a National Day of Prayer event.
Image from: Evan Vucci – AP.

Following the recent failed coup in Venezuela, Donald Trump said he is ‘sending prayers to the people of Venezuela’. This is great, hopefully he continues to send prayers to Venezuela and not the US military!

US Sanctions

Trump commented about the situation in Venezuela: ‘People are starving. They have no food they have no water, and this was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world’. There is no doubting the current economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela but what goes unmentioned not only by Trump but also all of the mainstream media coverage I’ve seen on Venezuela, is the role of US sanctions imposed by Trump’s regime that contribute to all of these problems Trump is apparently so concerned about.

These sanctions are responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 Venezuelans since 2017, according to a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, co-authored by economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot. Sachs makes it clear that this is a very imprecise estimate but nevertheless points out that:

‘What is certain, though, staring us in the face, is that there is a humanitarian catastrophe, deliberately caused by the United States, by what I would say are illegal sanctions, because they are deliberately trying to bring down a government and trying to create chaos for the purpose of an overthrow of a government’.

Threat of US Military Intervention

Trump has also said about the Venezuelan people that: ‘we wish them well, we’ll be there to help and we are there to help’. They’ve already “helped” through their sanctions but Trump has also repeated that all options remained on the table, including military action.

Regardless of Venezuelans having a wide range of views about President Nicolás Maduro, an overwhelming majority reject foreign military intervention. Different polls put this rejection at 54% and 86% of Venezuelans but in both cases there is a clear majority. 81% also reject the US sanctions referred to above. So this “help” Trump is speaking about has already had a disastrous impact on the “ordinary Venezuelans” that the Trump administration claims to care about, and both this and further “help” is not wanted by most Venezuelans.

It is very possible to be critical of the Maduro government and still reject US interference. The ABC News (USA) video that I discussed in my last article on Venezuela included footage of a Venezuelan state police/military vehicle deliberately running over anti-government protestors. This was not necessarily directed by Maduro or his administration and it is important to note, not as a way to justify the actions but for appropriate context, that these protestors were throwing fire bombs at these vehicles. Beyond this though Amnesty International has documented many human rights abuses by the Venezuelan government.

Nevertheless, journalist Federico Fuentes has pointed out that those critiquing the government from amongst the poorer and working class neighbourhoods have retreated in their protests against the government because they don’t want to be associated with the US-supported coup attempt from Juan Guaidó. As noted above, there is overwhelming opposition to foreign intervention, including from many who no doubt are not fans of Maduro.

There was a very good discussion on Democracy Now! recently that presented two very different positions on the Maduro government – Carlos Ron is a part of this government while Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander is highly critical of this administration. But nevertheless they agree that it should be Venezuelans that decide the government and politics of that country, rather than the US or any other outside country.

Democracy Now! has had heaps of excellent coverage of the situation in Venezuela. I’d particularly recommend the 1st May and 2nd May episodes that discussed the failed coup attempt as well as some of the broader issues at play.

Cheerleading for the Coup: An Analysis of Media Coverage of Venezuelan Politics

By Nick Pendergrast

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Self-declared President of Venezuela, Opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Image from channelnewsasia.com

It was sad to hear about the attempted coup by the US-backed far-right Opposition in Venezuela. I watched some ABC News (USA) coverage of it and they were really beating the drum for the coup and even seemed disappointed that there was no direct US intervention there yet.*

ABC News mentioned that Opposition leader Juan Guaidó checked with Trump’s administration before declaring himself President but then thought it was ridiculous when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called Guaidó a “US puppet”.

They also unquestioningly accepted Guaidó’s justifications for declaring himself President, such as:

The most recent election was not valid because the Opposition was not included.

Just because the Opposition boycotted the election and instead attempted to go down the road of a US-backed coup, that does not make the elections invalid. In fact some Opposition candidates such as Henri Falcon did not boycott the election and instead ran as Candidates in the 2018 election.

The result was not valid because there was not enough participation.

In the 2018 Venezuelan election there was a 46.1% voter turnout, compared to a similar 50.1% in the 2018 US mid-term election. Presidential elections in the US always have a higher participation rate and the last Presidential election had a significantly higher, 60.1% turnout. However, in terms of share of the vote, in the 2018 Venezuelan election, Maduro received 67.7% of the vote compared to Trump’s 47.0% in 2016. This means that Trump received the support of 28.2% of Americans in the most recent Presidential election in 2016, compared to Maduro receiving the support of 31.2% of Venezuelans in the most recent election in 2018.

If you’d like to hear more about the situation in Venezuela, you can listen to a first-hand account from journalist Federico Fuentes on episode 224 of our podcast. Also follow Federico on Twitter @FredFuentesGLW for updates on the situation.

*Unfortunately the specific video I’m discussing has been removed since I published this article but you can view ABC News (USA) coverage of Venezuela generally here.

In Defence of the Dominion Animal Liberation Disruption

Guest post by Dilan Fernando and Harley McDonald-Eckersall

Image from: http://www.kiis1011.com.au/newsroom/arrests-break-up-melbourne-cbd-vegan-protest

We were both a part of Green Collar/Dominion Animal Liberation disruption (specifically, the Flinders St action) on Monday the 8th of April. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that both us have spent the last few months immersing ourselves in social movement theory.

We’d like to share some of our thoughts on the actions and on some of the backlash that has followed. Although there has been so much positive feedback and responses that excite and inspire us, we wanted to take some time to respond to comments, criticism, questions and concerns that have been addressed to us and that we have seen across social media.

1. Disruption has a specific purpose in social change:

A lot of the criticism we have seen about this action has been variations on the phrase “this is not the right way to protest.” We’ve seen this comment repeated, not only from the general community but inside vegan groups with some claiming that actions like this are a “setback” for the movement. If you were to research social change (which we have and still are) you will find that throughout history and across movements for justice and change, disruptions have and continue to play a core role in advancing causes. They do this by creating polarisation thereby catapulting an issue into the public consciousness. What happened on the 8th meant that people across Australia, who might not usually even think about animal rights, were forced to recognise this cause as a political and societal issue. This has huge implications for our movement as it opens up our ability to become part of the mainstream discourse within society, something we have been struggling to achieve with the tactics we’ve used thus far. Animal rights messaging was seen in mainstream news outlets across Australia and even those who didn’t agree with us showed footage of a peaceful, non-violent protest demanding change, footage that reached millions of viewers.

2. Disruption isn’t about making vegans popular:

We’ve also heard the criticism that we’ve harmed the movement by making people hate vegans. In response, we’d again like to turn to historical examples. If we look to the Civil Rights movement for example, we’d see that activists were chastised, demeaned and criticised not only by white conservatives, but from within the Black community as well. Disruption is supposed to be divisive. It’s a tactic that serves a specific strategic aim, and as we mentioned above, that aim is to bring an issue to the fore and encourage conversation. What we did may have made some people angry. It may have made some people frustrated or hateful or vengeful but what it did more than anything is expose the reality of people’s attitude towards this issue as well as the tension that exists in our society’s views towards animals. For sure, some people may be less receptive to veganism (but it’s likely those people were not very receptive in the first place) but in the same way, so many people now have been given a much needed push to think about their choices and actions.

A powerful photo of Harley taking part in this action.

3. Disruption changes what’s acceptable in society:

Rather than acting as a setback, actions such as these allow everyone within the movement to take a step forward and begin playing on a new level. As more radical activists push the bar further, moderates become normalised and are seen as more palatable to mainstream society. Remember, 50 years ago, vegetarians were seen as extreme radicals. Now people won’t even blink an eye. We’re already seeing plant based diets becoming increasingly normalised and a big part of that is due to activists continuing to bring messages of animal liberation into the public sphere. If this were to stop and we were to rest purely on a largely consumer based, food movement, then there is a high potential for stagnation.

4. Consumerist food advocacy cannot, and will not, win on its own:

We’ve noticed that some vegans strongly believe that protest is not useful, and that we should mainly engage in consumerist advocacy that promotes plant-based food. They believe that through the mechanics of supply and demand, the animal agriculture industry will end as people choose more plant-based products. This approach to advocacy assumes that industries bend to the will of consumers. History tells us that in fact, the opposite is true. Industries create supply to manufacture demand and deploy billions of dollars of marketing budgets to ensure their survival. Of course we’re not all slaves to advertising, but what we do see time and time again, is that an exploitative producer will cash in on a rising trend such as veganism without actually changing other elements of their production. For example, take big producers of flesh-based products (e.g. Hungry Jacks), who have recently added a vegan range – they are not reducing the amount of animals they kill, simply diversifying their product range for profits. To clarify, we don’t disagree with food-based advocacy and believe it can be extremely effective. What we’re saying, is that in isolation, it is not enough to push society towards a new world view, which is what we need to do in order to achieve animal liberation and the liberation of others who are oppressed.

Image from: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6006138/forty-melbourne-vegan-protesters-charged/?cs=14231

Before we finish up, we’d like to say no action is perfect, and this post isn’t claiming that. This movement should be rich and varied, and healthy criticism, debate and analysis is essential for its growth. What we are saying, though, is that this action was an incredible example of disruptive organising, something which is a key element of social movements throughout history and all over the world.

And the results speak for themselves. We’ve seen more coverage of animal rights in 48 hours than we’ve seen in the past two years. We’ve seen editorials genuinely exploring the actual meaning behind animal rights, and the validity of our claims. Non-vegans have come out in support of the protest because they believe in the purpose of civil disobedience and non-violent resistance. And of course, the Dominion: Documentary received 30,000 hits in just over a day.

In addition, we have just seen an Australia wide, coordinated day of actions that shut down a city and multiple sites of slaughter. Our movement has shown unity, strength, trust, love and determination in the face of repression and this should not be overlooked. Our movement is our strength. When we stand together we stand with power.

We’re both proud to have been involved. Now let’s take a breath. Let’s figure out how to absorb the momentum from what we’ve done and keep moving forward. Thank you for everyone who organised and participated in all of the actions. We stand united with the Green Collar Criminals.

Below are examples of some media coverage which is very unlike anything we’ve seen before:




Further Information

You can watch the documentary Dominion here.

You can also hear Harley and Dilan discuss this action on episode 225 of our podcast.

Solidarity and Intersectionality at Invasion Day Narrm (Melbourne)

By Nick Pendergrast

Jews Against Genocide pic

Like many others around Narrm (the Aboriginal word for the Melbourne city centre area), I attended the Invasion Day rally to Abolish Australia Day, organised by the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR). For anyone unfamiliar with the reason behind these rallies, WAR explain that: ‘We will stand together and march together as our Elders have for the last 81 years this January 26 to protest the ongoing colonial violence on our people’. For more on opposition to the celebration of January 26 as it is officially known as “Australia Day”, you can read Celeste Liddle, Gary Foley and many other Aboriginal perspectives.

Crowd at start

The crowd at the start of the rally.

When I arrived at the rally, speakers had already commenced and there were many thousands of people there. Not being able to find a spot to stand was a problem I was glad to have! A speaker mentioned that this Invasion Day rally in Narrm is the most attended event around Australia on this day, outnumbering any “Australia Day” celebration around the country!

One of the speakers early in the rally estimated that there were 80,000 people there, the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) tweeted after the rally estimating over 40,000, despite much lower numbers in media reports they had seen. Once you get over a certain number it is very hard to work out numbers, however, the numbers seemed similar to last year where there were crowd estimates of 40,000-60,000. Either way, it was great to see tens of thousands of people turning out again!

Crowd throughout rally

The march filled up the streets of Narrm!

Solidarity and Intersectionality

Numbers aside, one thing that struck me about the rally was the large number of groups in solidarity with Aboriginal Australians and also with other marginalised groups around the world. Sometimes Invasion Day events can be dismissed as “divisive”, unlike the “inclusive” “Australia Day” events that include people from a wide range of different ethnicities. While I certainly saw people from a wide range of ethnicities attending and supporting the official “Australia Day” celebrations which took place nearby and at a similar time, these events are inherently damaging and upsetting to many Aboriginal people.

At the Invasion Day event there was an Aboriginal-led march with Asian people, Jewish people, Muslim people, trade unionists, queer people and many others all marching together in solidarity with Aboriginal people, rather than neglecting their historical and ongoing persecution under colonisation. The messaging was also in support of other struggles against racism and colonisation, with intersectional links made to the plight of Palestinian people (see photo above) and also refugees. One banner which I didn’t manage to get a photo of read something like: ‘The only boat I want to stop is the fucking Endeavour re-enactment’ (for those outside of Australia, the Endeavour was the first British ship to reach the east coast of Australia, leading to colonisation and land theft).

Yellow Peril supports Black Power

Abolish Australia Day NOT Change The Date!

One thing that was made very clear in the Facebook event page, by the speakers at the rally and elsewhere was that this was not a rally to change the date that Australia Day is celebrated. While I certainly did see a few ‘Change the Date’ signs amongst people attending the rally, there were none that I saw amongst the Aboriginal people leading the rally. One speaker at the rally clearly differentiated the rally from the Change the Date message, stating that they can change the date and we’ll still be here calling for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody, with “fuck the police” being expressed by numerous speakers. The ongoing injustices Aboriginal people face at the hands of the police and beyond mean that changing the date does not adequately address the issues faced.

It is important, particularly for those non-Aboriginal people attempting to be allies and join these marches in Narrm, that despite many media reports, it is not a march to change the date but to Abolish Australia Day. There is an opposition from those leading these rallies to celebrating a country built on racism that is still widespread. I’d particularly recommend Celeste Liddle’s article ‘This Invasion Day, march for the future’ and the flyer below from WAR for more on this Change the Date versus Abolish Australia Day distinction.

Abolish Australia Day

I’d also mention that the fact that this is even a debate shows great progress from this movement. The Greens political party have now taken on the Change the Date message, allowing more radical aspects of the Indigenous rights movement to highlight the limitations of this move, dismissing ‘simplistic solutions such as changing the date of a public holiday geared around reinforcing jingoism and nationalism’ (Liddle). But a few years back it seems that even a moderate Change the Date message was a long way from mainstream discussions/media/and larger political parties.

Fascist Fail

Unfortunately there was a tiny counter “protest” by a small number of fascists/white supremacists, for the first time that I am aware of for these rallies in Narrm. @slackbastard gives an overview of this futile counter protest and who was involved etc. At first I was kind of surprised by this counter protest, as opposing this Aboriginal-led march certainly undermines the strategic/tactical/“soft sell” white supremacy promoted by groups like Reclaim Australia who encourage people to wrap themselves in Australian flags and leave their swastikas at home. But this counter-protest is a move away from this “I’m not a racist but I’m just concerned about immigration/Muslim people” form of more widely accepted racism. But I guess this counter-protest shouldn’t be that surprising when even at Reclaim Australia rallies people showed up with Nazi imagery.

I think the main take home message from this counter protest for me was that although some argue the best way to respond to fascists is to ignore them, this is simply not possible when they start harassing progressive rallies. Some kind of response is unavoidable. Fortunately it seems that the organisers did a really job preparing for this. I believe WACA were involved with this and there was a large number of clearly marked marshals who had prepared and trained to deal with the fascist counter rally. They were at the front and back of the large rally, protecting the participants. Thanks to this preparedness, the fascists seemed unable to achieve much from what I could see, besides putting a bit of negativity into this really positive march.

Gary Foley’s Take Home Message

Gary Foley

Gary Foley speaking at the rally.

Finishing on a more positive note, historian Gary Foley was one of the final speakers and he gave an inspiring call to learn the history of this country and then go out and educate others! I didn’t manage to get a recording of his talk from this year but me and others got his talk from last year’s rally and I’d really encourage people to check this out. In this talk Foley gives a history not taught in schools, covering Aboriginal resistance on Invasion Day and beyond. You can listen to audio here and you can also watch a video of the talk and read a transcript thanks to Blackfulla Revolution on Facebook. You can also listen to our podcast episode which featured this talk and an additional discussion on some of the problems of nationalism.

Foley called on everyone to tell 10 people about the rally and this movement with the hopes of the rally being even bigger next year. This is an exciting movement that has already achieved so much in terms of changing the discussion about the history of January 26 and Australia generally. Hopefully people continue to spread the word and get even more people along to the Narrm rally and all of the rallies around the country next year!

Holistic Activism

Some ideas about how we can reduce conflict among activists, create campaigns that are long lasting, reach out and connect with people who have different values to that of our own and work towards a meaningful shift in paradigm.

Guest Post by Mark Allen

Mark in garden

Mark Allen

“The embrace of unconditional forgiveness is essential to the success of all the major activist adventures in the world. There may be truth in the savage denunciation of corrupt corporations, politicians, and a media in bed with what Robert Kennedy called ‘systems of cold evil’ that want to keep exploiting the earth. But this response has two main disadvantages in practical affairs: the excitement of projecting your own unacknowledged darkness onto others keeps you from seeing just how implicated you are. Advocating for any cause in this spirit virtually ensures your efforts will increase resistance rather than heal. Human beings will never be convinced to change their ways by other human beings who try to humiliate them. In nearly every case, such condemnation only reinforces the behaviour it is trying to end. When people are accused of acts they know they are guilty of by others who have contempt for them, they almost always retreat even further into their self-destructive behaviour. If they do change, it is from fear, or perhaps hypocrisy, but not from their own truth” (Andrew Harvey).


The version of the article that you are reading is very much a draft; something that I have put together for the 2018 Students of Sustainability Conference in Melbourne. While this is a work in progress (in fact it will always be a work in progress) the aim is to try, at the earliest possible opportunity, to encourage people to connect to the issues that are discussed here. If these words inspire only one person, then they have served their purpose.


Encouraging people other than myself to become involved at the onset is important because I am not exactly sure how this project will develop, only that it seems right for me to be doing this. In face of the overwhelming issues that the world is facing, it feels to me that we really have to evolve or accept a future that I don’t want to think about. Of course many less privileged people than myself are already experiencing much of this dystopia right now. But I digress…..


At this stage I can say that the plan is to develop this movement by holding regular workshops and sometimes weekend retreats. Hopefully these workshops will inspire others to run workshops of their own with the movement spreading from there. This is the model that Climate for Change use and this seems to me to be the most effective way of developing a movement at this time.


So why have I found myself involved in Holistic Activism? As someone who has been an activist on and off since the 90’s I have seen many activists burn out and much of that burnout is through dashed expectations, differences between activists and disappointment at seeing little positive change for the many hours of time that they have invested.


Of course I have witnessed some major successes and I am not in any way trying to denigrate the achievements that activists have made, only that for every success there seems to be a thousand more battles that need to be fought. We are mostly putting out spot fires and not putting enough emphasis into approaching the mindset that is creating these spot fires. This is why I have arrived at holistic activism.


It is an acknowledgment that most of the problems that plague humanity (and therefore the rest of the natural world) are rooted in our disconnection with all that is. If you feel this is too airy fairy, I urge you to read on. This movement utilises Deep Ecology, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Social Permaculture and some aspects of Post Structuralism; all movements that have strong grounding in their own right. There is nothing much here that is new; just a repackaging of modern and ancient discourses in a way that is hopefully approachable to the modern day activist.


I am not trying to replace other forms of activism.  This is about looking at how the activism that we are involved in can tap into deeper more proactive change. It could also provide another approach to effecting change for those who need to take a break from frontline activism.


So considering that ‘activism’ is the second part of the title, the first question I suppose might be, what is an activist? I believe that every person is an activist (or potential activist) to a greater or lesser degree, even those who might not appear to fit the picture of what an activist is perceived to be. Everyone has a point whereby they would choose to go out and campaign, even if it is something as fundamental as ensuring that clean water is running out of their tap and that they have clean air to breathe. By seeing everyone as a potential activist, we start to pave a way towards looking for points of connection with others rather than getting bogged down in points of difference.


So this article is aimed at everyone because it assumes that everyone is a potential activist and it assumes that activism is something that is and should be ongoing. One thing that history has taught us is the need for constant vigilance or else we risk succumbing to the ideological posturing of those people who, over time, develop sufficient power and influence to favour a narrow view of the way the world should be.


While language is a valuable tool, it also reduces and compartmentalises our complex relationship with the world and all that is. Therefore, to find a place of connection outside of language is as important as embracing critical thinking.


Indigenous tribes across the world have rituals in place to do just that. It is a means of ensuring that the impact of language is visualised from a deeper perspective. But those rituals have to be regular and ongoing in the same way that language is regular and ongoing. We have much to learn from such knowledges to ensure that the systemic change that we are working towards does not mutate into some kind of alternative dogma.


So as well as finding ways of reconnecting to the wonderment of the world, we could benefit immensely from learning to be the observers of our minds; to step back and realise that ‘thoughts, images memories and other cognitions are nothing more than bits of language, words and picture.’




Climate change and many of the other problems that are plaguing humanity and have plagued humanity are the symptoms of a much deeper problem, one that is rooted in ego and cognitive dissonance.


Cognitive Dissonance


Holistic Activism is about taking us outside of that because unless we do, we will never achieve long-term peace and sustainability. We have to stop re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and embrace our interconnectedness and not our separateness. This movement is about taking an approach that deals with the causes as well as the underlying symptoms. Here is how:


The first step is acceptance. Our approach to activism and living must come from a perspective of acceptance of the way the world is in this moment; that for one reason or another, for better or worse, the world has unfolded to this point. Acceptance does not mean that we have to like it or not want to change it. Instead, acceptance is the starting point of that change. Otherwise we run the risk of becoming attached to discourses centred around what could of or what should have been. This leads to the politics of resentment and the emotional impact that comes with it. This of course does not mean that we should condone past actions or activities. On the contrary, it is about maintaining a critical eye so that we do not repeat those mistakes. The notion of acceptance is about breaking the endless cycle of recrimination and moving towards an activism that is centred on compassion.


This brings me to the second step which is about de-escalation. Every person brings with them the many layers of their life experience into conversation; they are that way as a result of many factors and influences that stretch back to long before they were born. By not basing our assumptions on there being a healthy normality, we can look towards those issues that connect us as opposed to focussing on the ones that divide us. In doing so we can build up the trust that is required to have open and constructive conversation on those issues where we do have differences. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be assertive and show boundaries. In fact it is important that we do, only that this assertiveness is underlined by compassion.


HA Picture


The third step is to maintain our own capacity to think critically coupled with a willingness to change our perspective. No one person can have a clear view of the way the world should be. We can have ideas but we must feel that we are part of an ongoing conversation and that the outcome of that conversation will never be exactly what we envision. It will be much more complex and multi layered. Knowing this gives us the freedom to be open to new ideas and to be willing to change our perspective, thus creating a more conducive atmosphere for everyone to create meaningful change.


The fourth step is to realise that creating social inclusion and ecological sustainability is not about everyone adhering to the same set of values. Instead we need to look for areas of connection. We achieve this by trying to see things from the perspective of someone else and looking for areas where that connection can be made. This starts to take the relationship out of ego and begins the process of developing a relationship that is considerably more open minded.


The fifth step is being comfortable with paradoxes. This is a key aspect of not getting caught-up in cognitive dissonance. The world is a complex place and there are many truths that seem conflicting but have their place. We try to draw lines around our perspective of the world and make a box out of it and then defend what lies in that box. We also run the risk of breaking the world into dichotomies which ignores the complexities that can make a real difference.


The sixth step is to take a permaculture approach to the way we communicate. Observe a situation before choosing your role within it. Work out where we can work together and determine the most effective role that you can play.


The seventh step is to utilise assertive communication techniques as well as reflecting listening in order to most effectively engage with the previous six steps.




Thank you again reading this very brief introduction. If you connect with even some of what is written here, it would be great to hear from you and it would be great to hear your thoughts and opinions.


A more in-depth version of this article will, in time, be published as a booklet and this in turn, will accompany workshops and regular meet-ups. I have no idea what impact this movement will have, but this is where I have arrived at and where I feel that I can now make the best contribution.




You can contact me at themindfulactivist@gmail.com and join the Facebook group Holistic Activism and Behaviour Change to learn more and contribute to discussions on the topic.

Quick and Easy Vegan Meals

By Nick Pendergrast


Not really a meal, but on a side note, all UNFROSTED pop tarts are vegan!

I remember someone saying a while ago that there are great vegan recipes out there, but what do you do if you just want to make something really quick? You certainly don’t have to be into cooking/keen to make fancy meals with long and complex recipes/have a lot of time for cooking to be vegan!

Below are some ideas for quick and easy vegan meals – some are cheap, others not so cheap and some are healthy, others not so much. But all are very quick and easy to prepare. Add some salad/chopped up carrots or other vegetables to any of these to increase your vegetable intake and make them healthier. Please leave comments with additional suggestions that you like.


chicken sandwich

Vegan “chicken” burger.


  • Vegan “chicken” burger/sandwich:

Fry up oil, “chicken” stock (Massel chicken stock is vegan and available at pretty much any supermarket*), hard tofu (eg sliced garlic tofu available at Coles) and cook until crispy. Serve with bread or burger roles and vegan mayonnaise (Praise 99% fat-free is a vegan one that is available at most supermarkets, plus there are healthier vegan mayo’s you can find at health food/organic shops and sometimes in the health food section of the supermarket).


ingredients for chicken sandwich

Ingredients for the “chicken” burger above.


  • Toasted cheese sandwich using vegan cheese – Bio cheese slices are available at most supermarkets. For the best cheese sandwich, put cheese with some salt and pepper inside bread, cover both sides of the bread with vegan margarine eg Nuttelex and then fry until brown on both sides and cheese has melted. Occasionally push down on bread with a spatula to help with cheese melting.
  • Lentils and frozen peas fried up with stock and served on top of toast.
  • Sausages with frozen peas and pre-made hash browns. Sanitarium sausages are vegan and available at most supermarkets, Linda McCartney sausages are also vegan and available at some supermarkets.
  • Soup and bread. There are a number of pre-made vegan soups available at supermarkets, including some La Zuppa Soups, Pitango Soups and heaps more.
  • Pre-made falafel and hummus with wraps.
  • Spiced lentils mix:

Fry up oil, garlic if you have it, then add 3x 400 gram tins of lentils with stock if you’re using it, then add 800 grams of diced tomatoes and all spices, fry for a few more minutes, then mash a bit with a potato masher. Add spices for flavour eg Massel Beef stock (all Massel stock powders are vegan even though they’re called “Beef”, “Chicken” etc), chilli flakes, cumin, pepper, garlic powder if you’re not using fresh garlic, mixed herbs etc. Serve with rice or bread roles. Thanks to Adam from VeganSci for this one!


Lentils and Rice

Spiced lentils mix.


  • Baked beans on toast (avoid ones with cheese/meat).
  • Tinned spaghetti (avoid ones with cheese/meat).
  • Instant noodles eg Indo Mie Mi Goreng Fried Noodles and all Maggi two minute noodles are vegan.
  • Pre-made burgers with bread eg Sanitarium “Not Burgers”, Fry’s chicken schnitzels or burger patties etc (all of the Fry’s range is vegan, most of the Sanitarium range is and those that are vegan are marked as vegan on the front of the package).
  • Hot dogs with bread or hot dog buns and sauce, plus onions if you have them. Sanitarium hot dogs are vegan and available at most supermarkets.


Additional suggestions from when I posted this on Facebook – please leave a comment below if you have additional suggestions:

  • Dairy free shop bought pesto, in pasta with nutritional yeast for extra flavour sprinkled on top, fresh basil.
  • Toast with avocado spread on top, squeeze of lime juice, black pepper and either tomato, radish or peppers.
  • Quorn fishfinger sandwich with salt n vinegar, on white bread with vegan margarine eg Nuttelex and tomato sauce.


*For an endless list of vegan products you can find in an Australian supermarket, check out the Vegan Easy Cheat Sheet.

All CCM Ice Hockey Skates Are Vegan!

By Nick Pendergrast


I realise most people reading this don’t care!

ice hockey chen diagram

But I thought I’d share it here so it comes up in searches if others are looking for vegan ice-hockey skates.


Below is the response from CCM regarding their skates:


ConsumerServices <consumerservices@ccmhockey.com>
Tue 1/08/2017, 9:39 PM

Hello Nick,

Thank you for contacting Consumer Services at CCM hockey
We apologize for not having responded to you sooner.
All of our skates are manufactured with synthetic leather, no animal products.

CCM Hockey Team
1 800 644-1677