FoE Australia News

Friends of the Earth Australia News

Friends of the Earth Australia is a federation of independent local groups. You can join by contacting your local group − see www.foe.org.au/local-groups

There is a monthly FoE Australia email newsletter − subscribe via the website foe.org.au

To financially support our work, please visit www.foe.org.au/donate

FoE online:

Plantation logging in western Vic and Strzelecki Ranges

In July, Friends of the Earth (FoE) campaigner Anthony Amis completed a report on the impacts of logging by plantation companies in western Victoria and the Strzelecki Ranges. The report raises concerns about the Forest Stewardship Council and its complete lack of interest in working towards protection of Victoria's only endemic koala population in Gippsland. The report highlights the role of Hancock Victorian Plantations in the logging of 7,000 hectares of koala habitat since 1998.

'Victorian Koala Issues, Plantations and Forest Stewardship Council Certification 2000 – 2014'

www.foe.org.au/sites/default/files/Strzelecki%20Koala%20Issues%20and%20F...

FoE Australia turns 40!

According to legend passed down through generations of activists, the FoE Australia network was created at a gathering of local FoE groups on French Island in Western Port Bay, Victoria, in early 1974. At that point, French Island had been selected as a possible location for a nuclear power reactor.

Forty years on, we have been too busy campaigning to celebrate our first four decades. So instead, we're going to have a party in early 2015. We are also going to have a photo exhibition, and we want to compile stories, memorabilia and campaign resources from people who have been involved in FoE at any point in its history. We will also be doing a feature in the next edition of Chain Reaction.

If you have memories or memorabilia to contribute, please contact Cam Walker, cam.walker@foe.org.au, 0419 338047.

Yarra Sustainability Awards

Congratulations to Beth Cameron and Cam Walker who were acknowledged at the recent Yarra Sustainability Awards.

Beth, who has been with FoE for the past 25 years, received the Yarra Sustainability Business Award. The award citation states: "For almost 40 years, Friends of the Earth Food Co-op and Café has been a strong advocate for sustainable living. Friends of the Earth promotes minimally-packaged, ethical, organic and local products that benefit people's health and the planet. Bringing people together to collaborate and celebrate environmental and social justice, Friends of the Earth is a community hub."

Cam, who has also worked at FoE for the past 25 years, was awarded the Frank Fisher Award in recognition of being a national leader for environmental justice. The award citation states: "Cam Walker's work at Friends of the Earth over the last twenty-five years has seen him become nationally recognised as a leader on the environment. He has provided sustained and continuous service to Friends of the Earth and our community for decades – an incredible achievement in the high stress, high turnover world of community advocacy."

www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/environment/Sustainability-Awards/yarra-sustain...

Tasmanian government attacking right to protest

Friends of the Earth has joined a coalition of community groups opposing the draconian Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Bill proposed by the Tasmanian government. If passed, the legislation could result in peaceful protesters receiving mandatory on the spot fines of $2,000 (rising to $5,000 if they go to court) or a minimum three months in jail for a second offence.

To find out more and take action visit http://yes2democracy.org

Art exhibition launched at FoE Melbourne

"Irrational Emotions" is the culmination of Melbourne artist Sophia Flo Dacy-Cole's six-month residency at FoE. The work is somewhere between a love-letter to FoE, and a contemporary art practice. The installation includes sculptural works, videos and simple architectural considerations. The show pivots around embodied activism, activist places, materials and their constitution, and how to speak to the history of a place that you love. The exhibition will be over by the time Chain Reaction goes to press but more information can be found at

sophiadacycole.com

www.facebook.com/events/1537288013158785

Green groups’ funding cut by Abbott government

As part of its cost cutting measures, the federal government has slashed the Grants to Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations Programme (GVESHO). The GVESHO enjoyed bipartisan support from the 1980s, and even the Howard government kept the program alive. It provided essential support for the core budgets of many groups, and especially the regional conservation councils like the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) in Alice Springs.

The Environment Department said the cut was "part of [the government's] commitment to fiscal responsibility" and that "abolishing this programme aligns with the recommendations of the National Commission of Audit". However, it is clearly part of the federal government's ideological attack on green groups.

The loss of the program will directly affect Friends of the Earth as we have lost our annual grant of $4,000. If you can provide a donation to support our work, you can do so here: www.givenow.com.au/friendsoftheearthaustralia

Market Forces

This time last year, the Commonwealth Bank loaned Adani $600 million to help the company continue operating a coal export terminal at Abbot Point, in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. It was the latest in a string of loans to dirty fossil fuel projects.

When our political leaders turn their backs on climate action, it's time for us to let our money do the talking! If you're with one of the 'big four' banks, put them on notice. Warn them that unless they stop funding climate change-causing fossil fuels, you'll find another bank.

More information is posted on the website of FoE affiliate Market Forces, including a list of over 120 banks and where they stand on the issue of fossil fuel investment, and a guide on how to switch banks and make it count:

www.marketforces.org.au/campaigns/banks/

www.marketforces.org.au/divestmentday

www.facebook.com/MarketForces/

Market Forces has also produced a new online tool that helps people see if their super fund is supporting the fossil fuel industry and to take steps to move super out of this polluting sector:

www.superswitch.org.au

CounterAct celebrating movement support

Nicola Paris from FoE affiliate CounterAct:

In October 2014, we gathered together at FoE Melbourne to "celebrate movement support". Along with friends and colleagues from across a range of campaigns, three co-convenors of the Melbourne Campaigners Network − myself, Holly Hammond and Naomi Blackburn − wanted to celebrate our shared achievements and some individual milestones: for Holly it was three years of "Plan to win", for Naomi it was the launch of her new project "Power in numbers", and for me, a celebration of the first year milestone for CounterAct.

All of us are working in various ways to support, train and develop capacity in social justice and environmental movements, and as we look to the challenges ahead in this hostile political climate, it seemed to be an opportune time to celebrate the resilience and strength of our growing sector in Melbourne and beyond, and to ask: how do we do this better?

For CounterAct, it has been a big first year. We worked with FoE, Quit Coal, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, The Wilderness Society, the Leard Forest Alliance, Lock the Gate, the East West tunnel picket, 350.org, Save Bastion Point, No Macca's in Tecoma, the Australian Student Environment Network, grassroots forest and peace activists, and many others. We have also been collaborating with the Melbourne Activist Legal Support group, and the Melbourne Street Medics as well as co-convening the Melbourne Campaigners Network.

In the past year we have supported and mobilised campaigners for the Leard Forest blockade against coal mining expansion in NSW, where over 250 people have put themselves on the line with peaceful civil disobedience actions. We worked with Quit Coal and Lock the Gate to help keep the unconventional gas industry at bay in Seaspray, Victoria, and prepared farmers for action. We have trained over 815 activists. We have spoken at public events and forums across the country, and shared resources directly with over 1 000 people as well as published articles accessed by tens of thousands. And we coordinated the successful solidarity campaign, 'We stand with Jonathan Moylan'.

We spoke at the Human Rights Film Festival, Powershift and were invited to provide the keynote speaker at Darwin's first environment conference, "Ochre Green". We were patron of the Environmental Film Festival in 2014, sharing stories about inspiring grassroots nonviolent direct action with hundreds of people.

And, in conjunction with FoE, we launched the inaugural 'Change Course', a six-week series of workshops to equip participants with a range of advocacy and campaign skills.

We have gratefully received support from the Melbourne Social Forum, Patagonia and individual sponsors, which has enabled us to run trainings in nearly every state in Australia.

So where to next? That is what we are working out. There is a huge demand for accessible grassroots training and skills development for communities that are increasingly finding themselves on the frontline… and our challenge next is how to resource that and build on this momentum.

Get in touch if you have ideas or would like to support our work:

info@counteract.org.au

www.counteract.org.au

ACEing the Territory

Activists from FoE's Anti-nuclear & Clean Energy (ACE) campaign have made numerous visits to the NT this year: working trips to support the campaign to prevent the imposition of a nuclear waste dump on the land of Muckaty Traditional Owners ­ and a follow-up trip to celebrate the wonderful victory of the Muckaty campaign; the Radioactive Exposure Tour visited Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Muckaty; and most recently, we participated in the annual meeting of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance in Alice Springs. www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear