Stand up, Fight Back: Protecting the right to protest in NSW

Our event at Sydney University Law School brought together a stellar group of activists, students, academics, lawyers and civil society. We know that activism changes history and the right to stand together and peacefully protest must be protected and defended for every citizen not pared back. Peaceful protestors should never face incarceration. Our panel spoke from the perspectives of their lived experiences and generously shared their passion for maintaining our democratic rights to speak freely in society and to hold government and corporations to account through protest action. We thank Jeff, Amal, Kavita Luc and Simon for their time and extraordinary expertise (bio's below)! If you missed this event you can catch up here.

Professor Simon Rice (OAM) is the Kim Santow Chair of Law and Social Justice at the University of Sydney Law School, and a consultant lawyer at Chalk & Behrendt. Simon has practised extensively in poverty law in community legal centres, particularly anti-discrimination law.  He has been President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and an adviser to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights.  He has encountered the police while observing protests.   

Amal Naser is a Palestinian organiser and third-generation refugee. She lives on unceded Bidjigal land. Amal is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UNSW. She is currently conducting a critical analysis of the criminalisation of protest in liberal democracies using Marxist State Theory for her law honours project. Amal has a strong interest in the intersection of the law and the rights of Indigenous persons and was the Human Rights Defender intern at the Australian Human Rights Institute for summer 2022/23.

Dr Jeff Gordon is a Lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School. Jeff specialises in free speech and judicial federalism, most recently writing on the law of protest during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeff’s work spans public and private law, exploring free expression, judicial federalism, speech torts, non-disclosure agreements and equitable relief.

Luc Velez (he/him) is a student activist organising on stolen Gadigal and Bidjigal land. Passionate about economic and environmental justice, Luc was the 2022 National Education Officer of the National Union of Students. He has been involved in national campaigns on climate justice, free education and student unionism reforms. Luc is studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics at UNSW after having spent two years studying fashion in France. 

Kavita Naidu (she/her) is a feminist climate activist and international human rights lawyer from Fiji-Australia specialising in climate justice for grassroots women in all their diversity in Asia and the Pacific. With over 16 years of diverse experience working in the Pacific, Asia and the UK, Kavita has worked at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, government bodies and the private sector. Kavita was involved with the UN Free & Equal campaign in the Pacific, the Global Women’s Strike and the feminist bloc for the climate marches in COP25 & COP26.