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 all-volunteer Incorporated Association of lawyers, barristers, and human rights advocates. We train and deploy Legal Observer Teams at protest events, monitor and report on public order policing, provide training and advice to activist groups on legal support structures, and develop and distribute legal resources for activist movements.

We provide support and field legal observer teams upon invitation, according to our capacity.

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

MALS is independent of political parties, groups, organisations and individual campaigns.


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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Become a proud supporter


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.

This group would eventually go on to become MALS.

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 fields a Legal Observer Team at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne in October 2019 when police sprayed dozens of people standing with arms linked outside the conference, MALS documented multiple human rights infringements at the protest in a 45-page public report.

This incident became the subject of a class action against Victoria Police’s use of capsicum spray and excessive force against protesters.

The Australian-first class action by Phi Finney McDonald and the Police Accountability Project at Inner Melbourne Community Legal alleges that the use of capsicum spray on protestors is unlawful when used as a coercive tool or where there is no immediate or proportionate threat to police officers or the public. The case was filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on 1st September 2022.

It provides an example of how MALS Legal Observers can be instrumental in gathering evidence and prompting strategic legal action in defence of human rights.



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.

The presence of MALS Legal Observer Teams at protest events continues to provide a level of reassurance to organisers and participants as well as vital and in-depth scrutiny of the myriad ways police encroach upon basic civil and political rights.

See our 2022 Annual Impact Report