What Can We Learn From Australia In 1991?
January 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
Quite a lot, as it turns out.
Meet the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (RAG) in the late eightees and early ninetees – running a powerful campaign to halt the importation of rainforest timbers from South East Asia – using water-based blockades of timber ships, dock occupations, widespread community boycotts and union green bans. Melbourne RAG was one of many RAG’s around Australia inspired by and acting in solidarity with the Penan and other Dyak peoples in Sarawak, Malaysia who were blockading their ancestral homelands.
Some stand-out learning points for me;
- A fantastic explanation of why non-violent protest can be the most effective vehicle for a message, and definitely one for UK student organisers to think about for future protests (now that they have media-prominence).
- Unusual voices putting forward a traditional message – hearing a union worker talk about protecting the rainforest is unusual, and therefore extra powerful (and newsworthy!). The Union/RAG strategy seems to have been built very carefully here – the sequence where we hear RAG organisers shout ‘three cheers for the union’ demonstrates the intentional relationship being built.
- Giving space for, and attention to, personal/leadership development within the group as a requisite for being part of RAG – ensuring movement sustainability and personal transformation as part of the process. That’s what I call organising : )
A proud moment for Australian history!