What is MALS?

About us

Melbourne Activist Legal Support

We support activists defending their own civil and political rights.

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) is an independent group of lawyers, human rights advocates, law students and para-legals.

MALS trains and fields Legal Observer Teams at protest events, monitors and reports on public order policing, provides training and advice to activist groups on legal support structures, and develops and distributes legal resources for protest movements.

MALS works with law firms, community legal centres and a range of local, national and international human rights agencies. We stand up for civil and political rights.

We believe community legal support builds stronger and more resilient social movements, which means a more robust and sustainable democracy; a more equitable and just society; and a more accountable and representative political system for everyone.

MALS is an all-volounteer Incorporated Association in Victoria.


What We Do

Legal Observer Teams

We field trained Legal Observer Teams to monitor and report on police actions at protest events.

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Know-Your-Rights Training

Want to learn about your civil and political rights in Victoria? Come to one of our interactive legal rights training events to learn firsthand skills and build community.

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Workshops and Events

MALS engages in community outreach, speaking at events about our experiences, running practical workshops on digital and physical security, training events on activist legal rights, and how to organise. Check out our upcoming events to get involved.

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Legal Rights Information

Looking for an archive of up-to-date information concerning your rights to protest and engage in political expression in Victoria? Check out our growing library of Internet resources.

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Reporting and Advocacy

MALS publishes comprehensive reports on notable protest events using evidence from our Legal Observer teams and eye-witness testimony. We also advocate for the protection and expansion of civil and political rights.

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Activist Legal Support

We provide training in legal support approaches and strategies, and can help put activists in contact with supportive legal films.

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Our Milestones

Occupy Melbourne Legal Support (OMLS) is created. The aim is to provide legal support, briefings, and to field Legal Observers at Melbourne’s City Square protests during the Occupy Movement.

Occupy Melbourne Legal Support wins the 2012 Tim McCoy Award for human rights work, receiving a small cash prize which funds the start of Melbourne Activist Legal Support.

MALS spearheads a community campaign against the Napthine government’s anti-protest ‘Move On’ powers under the Summary Offences Act. The new powers are repealed by the incoming Andrews government after protests, submissions, letter writing, and a massive 10,000-strong union-led march to Parliament House in September 2014.

As far-right and white-nationalist groupings re-emerge, MALS begin to field Legal Observer teams at numerous rallies and counter protests. We witness clashes and intensive police violence including widespread and unlawful use of OC spray.

MALS advocates against the introduction of the anti-mask laws within the Crimes Amendment (Public Order) Bill 2017 which was passed and became law in 2018.

MALS is instrumental in setting up CovidPolicing.org.au, a national police accountability project to monitor police over-reach during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The final report by coalition is available here (PDF).

MALS successfully challenges the practice of Victoria Police using City of Melbourne Council by-laws to silence protests. An advocacy campaign results in the Melbourne City Council agreeing to drop fines and end the practice of fining activists when asked by police.

In October 2021, MALS produces a comprehensive analysis and critique of the policing of the anti-lockdown movement in Victoria.

MALS becomes an incorporated association, and our new constitution is approved by members on 11th November 2021.