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Statements Regarding Our Story On The Australia Day Rallies

Statements from NSW Police, NSW Health, Victoria Police and DHHS Victoria

STATEMENT - NSW POLICE

The NSW Police Force has not received a Form 1 for a protest at The Domain, Sydney, on Tuesday 26 January 2021.

The NSW Police Commissioner has no power to stop a public assembly.

The Summary Offences Act 1988 provides the legislative framework for the management of public assemblies. Under the framework a public assembly will be either ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’.

An assembly will be authorised if the organiser serves notice (Form 1) on the Commissioner at least seven days before the assembly and the Commissioner does not oppose the assembly, or the court does not prohibit the assembly. In this scenario, the Commissioner is the party that applies to the court to prohibit the assembly.

If notice (Form 1) is served on the Commissioner less than seven days before the assembly, it will be unauthorised unless the Commissioner does not oppose the assembly or the assembly is authorised by the court on application of the organiser.

There are currently strict restrictions under the Public Health Act imposed on activities in which groups of people gather and all events are required to adhere to those restrictions, regardless of the intended activity.

At the current time, Public Health Orders state that the number of people attending an outdoor protest cannot exceed one person per two square metres of publicly accessible space to a maximum of 500 people. All gatherings for outdoor protests must also have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

The NSW Police Force recognise the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, however, our first priority is – and always will be – the safety of the community.

STATEMENT - NSW HEALTH 

Under the Public Health Order, outdoor protests or demonstrations are restricted to 500 people in the Greater Sydney area (which includes the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong areas). Any protests must have a COVID-safe plan in order to proceed. People are reminded to sanitise and clean their hands regularly, physically distance from others where possible, and wear a face mask if you cannot physically distance. Those who are not feeling well should stay home. Anyone experiencing any cold- or flu-like symptoms, no matter how mild, are to isolate immediately, get a COVID-19 test and continue to isolate until a negative result is received. Any breaches of the order are a matter for NSW Police.

STATEMENT - VICTORIA POLICE

Responding to events and protests is part of what police do on a daily basis. The community can be assured we are well prepared and equipped to deploy resources and to respond and intervene when needed.

As always, police will not tolerate any antisocial or criminal behaviour from any sector of the community.

Anyone looking to attend an event to cause trouble can expect a firm response from police; you will be arrested and held to account if you commit a crime.

STATEMENT - DHHS VICTORIA 

We are still in the middle of a pandemic and mass gatherings can create risks for all Victorians, particularly those in vulnerable groups.  

The Department’s current COVIDSafe Summer restrictions advise up to 100 people can meet outdoors in a public place. 

The Department strongly recommends whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others you wear a face mask. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms don’t attend any public sites and immediately seek testing.