Nonviolent Direct Action Skills Workshop (Sydney) Feb 2014

Saturday 8 February 2014

9am – 5pm

Quaker Meeting House
119 Devonshire St
Surry Hills (5 mins from Central Station)
(view on map)

 Cost: $40/20 (conc)




BYO lunch or buy from the local shops. Morning and afternoon tea provided.


Many of us have experiences of activism that left us alienated, disheartened and angry. We want to make a difference to the world but we’re not sure how. In this workshop, we explore nonviolent direct action as both a moral and powerful means of social change, using a variety of resources, stories and role-plays. We will consider the symbolic and strategic role of nonviolent direct action, talk about fears and consequences, consider the place of nonviolent action in larger campaigns, look at the different roles people play in actions and explain the process of ‘getting arrested’ in a nonviolent civil disobedience action so people understand what that involves. We will run a nonviolent direct action role-play to give people a chance to try it all out, and finish with a chance to discuss and plan possible actions based on participants’ interests.

The emphasis in this workshop is on action skills development and ‘getting ready’ to take action, rather than the philosophy, spirituality and history of nonviolence.


Donna Mulhearn is an activist, writer and public speaker. Donna was a human shield during the war in Iraq and later returned as an aid worker and human rights activist. She is a journalist, former political adviser and Masters graduate of the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. She has spent time in the West Bank of Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement and recently returned from her fifth trip to Iraq where she researched the effects of toxic weapons such as depleted uranium on the civilian population, particularly babies in the city of Fallujah. Featured on ABC’s Australian Story program, her book, Ordinary Courage, a memoir about her experience as a human shield, was published in 2010 and will soon be available globally as an e-book. She coordinates the Australian Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons and is currently working on a book about the 2004 attacks on Fallujah. Among a long list of nonviolent actions for peace and justice, Donna faced a lengthy trial and short prison time after breaking into Pine Gap US military base in 2005 in a “Citizen’s Inspection”, potentially facing up to ten years in prison.

Justin Whelan is the Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church, a role that involves lay ministry, community development and community organising that empowers people to be the ‘change they want to see in the world’. In his spare time he researches social movements with a particular interest in strategic nonviolent struggle. A lifelong activist whose first protest event was in the womb, Justin’s advocacy credits include winning amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 and swearing at his Year 11 maths teacher for failing to listen to a student’s pleas for remarking an exam. Justin has participated in numerous nonviolent direct actions in support of peace, human rights and the environment, and has been arrested for civil disobedience twice. Justin was one of the proponents of the Uniting Church in NSW-ACT’s resolution to divest from fossil fuels in April 2013.

All enquiries: Contact Justin Whelan

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