AAF 2011

The 2011 Animal Activists Forum

A review by Liz Dealey

 The 2011 Animal Activists Forum was held on 22nd and 23rd October, at the magnificent Abbotsford Convent in Collingwood, about 10kms north east of Melbourne, Victoria.

The Forum was organised by a small team of volunteers led by Roy Taylor and Joanna Randall, who have organised the past three Forums. It is a chance for Australian Animals Rights activists to get together once a year to swap stories and ideas, catch up with old friends, make new friendships and contacts and to share what is working for them in their chosen field of activism.

Almost 200 people registered for the Forum, making it the best attended Forum in its nine year history.  Many interstate visitors descended on Melbourne, to join in with what has fast become the biggest annual gathering of animal activists in Australia.

Registrations began at 8.30am, on the lovely misty Saturday morning, with welcomes and check-ins. All those registering received programs and a gift bag full of vegan goodies, kindly donated by sponsors and supporters of the Forum.

The Forum kicked off with a welcome by the organisers and a “1 minute slam” for groups and presenters, giving them a chance to promote their organisations in 60 seconds flat!

Talks and presentations were held concurrently across 3 halls, the Salon Room, Linen Room and Community Room. The two days were a whirlwind of talks, films, discussion panels and workshops.

As the Animals Australia Annual General Meeting took place in the Salon, the first presenter for the day, Matt Ball from Vegan Outreach in the USA, was beamed to a captive audience in the Community Room, via Skype.

Martin Balluch discusses the Austria trial, via Skype

Other international speakers presenting via Skype were Martin Balluch from the Austrian Vegan Society and Nick Cooney, director Of The Humane League in the USA and author of activist guide “Change of Heart”.

We were honoured to have such amazing local and interstate speakers as:

Patty Mark (ALV), Pam Ahern (Edgar’s Mission), Laurie Levy (CADS), Lefki Pavlidis (ALV), Paul Mahoney, Leigh-Chantelle Koch (Viva La Vegan), Doug Leith (Anti Vivisection), Jack Styles (ALV Youth), Tim Ruschena (FFR), Rheya Linden(Animal Active), Katie Grimmer (USMU), Kate Elliot (FOS), Eliza Muirhead (Fair Projects), Lee Coates (CFS), Ward Young (CPR), Clare McCausland, John Dunlop, Greg McFarlane (Vegan society NSW), Lisa Green (Vegan Society UK), Ron Prasad, Maryland Wilson (AWPC), Nimal Karunajeewa (Boing), Lisa White (FOTH), Natasha Reus (EM,AA), Clare Mann (Communicate31), Jesse Marks (AA), Karen Nilsen (AA), lawyers David Risstrom and Daniel Beecher, Jesse Gartlan (Sea Shepherd), Alice Wilkin (Sea Shepherd), Sally Borell (AASG), Anastasia Smietanka (Greens), Chay Neal (ALQ), Rebecca Russo (PCML) Teya Brooks (Pribac) and Anna Ludvik (NRALEP).

 Doug Leith exposes the fallacies of vivisection.

The presentations covered all aspects of animal activism, from ethical investing, outreach and campaigns, philosophy and animal rights, right through to effective letter writing and video, photography and editing.

The hardest part was choosing which presentation to attend, as so many amazing speakers were scheduled in each of the three rooms at the same time.

On the Saturday night, it was time to get social, and people danced the night away at the cocktail party held at the beautiful Bocskai Hall in North Fitzroy.  There was an abundance of amazing vegan food on offer, catered by the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and Mister Nice Guy Cupcakes.

Sunday morning started with a sleepy crowd wandering in, coffees in hand. The pace soon built up as presentations started again across the three rooms and it didn’t let up all day, with people dashing from one presentation to the next.

The weekend wrapped up at 5pm on Sunday, with a feeling of achievement, anticipation and excitement of the possibilities that lay ahead for animal rights.

No one could have left the Forum feeling less than motivated and inspired by the wealth of knowledge and information that was shared by all attending and presenting. It was a weekend to listen, look and learn from each other; a weekend to reflect on our constant battle towards gaining respect and compassion for all animals; a weekend to hone our skills towards educating and encouraging the public to extend their circle of compassion to include all animals.

Group Reviews

In 2011 groups reviewed were:

Freedom of Species

Sea Shepherd

Political Animals Victoria 2010

The Australian Animal Studies Group

Animal Liberation Queensland

Positive Change for Marine Life

Edgar’s Mission

University of Melbourne Animal Protection Society

The Victorian Greens Animals Working Group

Knowing Animals

Friends of the Hound Inc. (Greyhound Adoption Group)

Animal Active

Animal Liberation New South Wales

The Coalition Against Duck Shooting

Oscar’s Law

Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre, Animal Law and Education Project (ALEP)

Fair Projects

Animal Liberation Victoria

Freedom for Farmed Rabbits

The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses

Group Reviews

In 2011 the specialist presentations were:

Organising Protects & Effectively Using the Mass-Media

Activists and vivisection – Effective argument and how to get it to the public

Lost in translation -Information and other issues in non-English speaking countries with an emerging animal rights activism

Wildlife at Risk – The Australian Wildlife Protection Council

The links between Animal Rights & Money.

Effective Letter Writing

The Impact of Livestock on Climate & the Environment

Activist Legal Training

Vegan Mainstream – Introduction

Vegan Mainstream – Promoting Veganism online

Vegan Mainstream – A Campaigning National Vegan Organisation

Vegan Mainstream – Vegan Easy Challenge

Vegan Mainstream – International Approaches to Promoting Veganism

Intersectionality 101

Say good-bye to burn-out, and welcome more energy!

Talking to Young People in Schools about Animals

Recruiting and Campaigning with Young People

The science of animal suffering

Moral philosophy 101

Video Photography and video editing

Difficult Conversations Are A Breeze When You Know How

Understanding Rabbits

More images from 2011…