In a free society such as Australia, the right to peaceful protest is a long-practised feature of our democracy. The nightly news frequently broadcasts images of activists rallying for social change on diverse issues ranging from animal rights to coal mines, gay marriage, religious freedom and alt-right anti-immigration views. Social change movements are increasingly championed online through social media and e-petitions as well as on the streets, placing pressure on politicians and raising the public profile of a range of causes.
Anti-protest laws, expanded police powers, and political disapproval towards electoral activism, chaotic vegan protests and mass climate change action by school students, have all directed a spotlight on the principles of protest and the role of activist groups in organising resistance and raising awareness of controversial causes. This brand new topic examines protest movements, rights and protections, and explores how activism can influence public opinion and hold governments and business accountable. Is the current climate of protest growing hotter for social change? Is Australia witnessing a rising tide of activism which is shifting power to the people?