News & Media > Editorials > Week of Action - April 2023

Week of Action - April 2023

Farm Transparency Project & Harley McDonald-Eckersall
Wed 19 April 2023, 6:19pm

We had planned for the week of action to start slow and slowly build as we approached the march on Saturday. So, when two days before we started the suggestion was made to ditch our plans on Monday and instead road trip to Canberra to pay a visit to Australian Pork Limited, it was very much not part of our scheduled events. But, of course, we said yes. We couldn't leave straight away though, there was business to be done.

Sunday: Supermarkets and Outreach

Sunday's meeting spot was one favoured by vegans all over Melbourne. The upstairs room of Vegie Tribe is a great place to share food, discuss plans and hand out all the necessary equipment for a supermarket die-in including red paint, placards, laptops with gassing footage and our new Ban Gas Chambers t-shirts. Once we had all assembled we set off. Our destination: Coles and Woolworths. Near the corner of Flinders street and Elizabeth street in Melbourne CBD, both of these supermarket monoliths have two metro locations which service commuters, inner city workers, tourists and the wide variety of other people who flock to the city on any given day. At just past 1pm two different groups entered the supermarkets. Two activists in each store opened laptops displaying footage while others lay down in front of the pork section with blood on their necks. The action was short but dynamic and quickly gained attention online. After instructed to do so by store managers, we peacefully left the store and made our way to the next action, our regular street outreach event, Dominion Outreach Melbourne.

Around 20 people showed footage from our latest campaign and had conversations with the public about how they could support it. Others used chalk to write messages on the ground and held placards with the message to stop gassing pigs for pork and ban gas chambers. The evening was a success with many saying it was the best outreach event they had been to. For some though, the night was just getting started!



Sunday night - Monday: Australian Pork Limited

Sunday night was spent on the road, with a convoy of cars heading to Canberra. Our hastily formulated plan involved a hard drive full of footage and rocking up to the head office to ask for a meeting with APL's CEO, Margo Andrae. After our campaign launched, APL's response had been to cast doubt on our footage, with the CEO saying that she struggled to understand what she was looking at and questioning the context of the footage. We wanted to directly ask for a meeting and offer to walk her through the footage ourselves in order to address her concerns.

Initially, the team involved with the gas chamber investigation appraoched the offices which, at first glance, seemed entirely empty. After using the intercom to call for staff for a number of minutes, we were finally greeted by someone who warily told us he'd check if Ms. Andrae was free, and walked away. Ten minutes passed before he returned, and we took the opportunity to explain why we were there and why we were requesting a meeting. In response, he said that no one would be able to speak to us and that we weren't able to wait in the lobby, so should leave.

Instead, we called the 10 other people who'd driven down to Melbourne with us and we spread out in the hallway in front of APL's office. We had placards demanding that they take this issue seriously and ban gas chambers and we waited patiently for anyone to come talk to us. During the five hours that we waited, no one spoke to us other than the first person who told us that we would not be allowed inside.

At around 3:30pm we realised that the lights had gone off inside and, after figuring out how to access an internal stairwell, discovered that the staff, including APL's CEO Margo Andrae, had chosen to sneak out a back door, rather than face us. This level of cowardice was deeply disappointing, however unexpected from an industry that can't even stand behind their own 'best practice' methods, instead claiming that hundreds of hours of pigs dying in agony inside gas chambers must be taken out of context and was not representative. 

As we left, we made sure to post our placards under their door as a final message that their silence had been noted and that it wouldn't stop us fighting. 

Back in Melbourne, organisers made sure people had the opportunity to get involved creatively, running a banner and sign making workshop to create visual pieces for Saturday's march. The event gave people the opportunity to meet others taking part in the week of action and to learn more about the campaign. 





















Tuesday - Tram Outreach and Night Outreach

Tuesday saw us taking to trams around Melbourne in an action inspired by our friends over in Perth. Using laptops and signs letting commuters know that they were seeing what the pork industry wanted to hide from consumers, activists rode trams around the city loop. The experience was overwhelmingly positive with only one negative interaction and many people interested and shocked by what they were seeing. That night we held a legal briefing which covered the rights of protestors before heading to Southbank for an evening Dominion outreach, once again using footage and flyers from our Ban Gas Chambers campaign.



Wednesday - Vigil at Australian Food Group slaughterhouse and Diamond Valley Pork Slaughterhouse

To capture the footage we used in our Ban Gas Chambers campaign, director of Farm Transparency Project, Chris Delforce, spent over 9 hours hidden inside a gas chamber, filming pigs being gassed to death just metres below him. On the Wednesday of the week of action, we returned to the slaughterhouse where he hid, Australian Food Group Slaughterhouse which is located in the small suburb of Laverton in Melbourne's West. We held banners and signs outside the slaughterhouse before peacefully marching to Diamond Valley Pork abattoir, another one of the three slaughterhouses we recorded footage at and situated just down the road. Once there, we occupied the truck entrance of the slaughterhouse, filming over the walls and stopping trucks to capture footage of the pigs inside, who would be killed inside the industrial gas chamber in the early hours of the following morning. 

While outside we could hear the squeals of the pigs in the holding pens as they sought any comfort in the dirty, concrete cells where they were to spend their final night. We supported each other and protected each other against sometimes violent workers who viciously shoved peaceful protestors who were standing with signs. That night, many of us carried the faces of the pigs we saw with us as a reminder of why we fight and who we fight for. 




















Thursday - Rally at the Federal Department of Agriculture 

As we neared the end of our week of action, we paid a visit to the Melbourne offices of the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Led by the current Minister for Agriculture, Murray Watt, the department's website lists one of its three primary objectives as "industry growth - supporting industry to grow towards a $100 billion agriculture, fisheries and forestry industry by 2030." Yet, they are also the department responsible for "animal welfare," a concept which, even in its weakest form, never matches up with increased industry profitability. This blatant conflict of interest as well as the Minister's own comments that our footage was "distressing" was what we wanted to discuss when we vistited the offices and requested a meeting. 

This time, having made a public event, they were expecting us and we were greeted at the door by at least five hired security guards. After politely asking for a meeting we were first told that no one was in the offices due to "company procedure." When this was questioned, we were then informed that staff were in fact present and knew we were there but that no one would come down and talk to us. Disappointed, but not surprised, we proceeded to rally outside, playing the screams of pigs inside the gas chambers and holding signs asking those inside to come down and speak to us. When we noticed security sneaking people out a side door so they didn't have to face us, some people went and sat next to the car park holding their signs with images of pigs in the gas chambers and the message to stop gassing pigs for pork. 

Once again, we had been let down by the bodies that claim to stand up for animals in Australia. But rather than being disheartened, we were empowered. We knew that it was up to us to build a movement that would protect all animals and create a kinder world for all. 

Friday - Social dinner 

The day before the march was filled with nervous anticipation, last minute rehearsals for the band and frantic speech writing for our speakers. We gathered at Vegie Tribe in the evening for a dinner to celebrate the week and build the connections that would make this campaign continue on. 

Saturday - The Dominion Animal Rights March...

Check out our editorial on the Dominion Animal Rights March for information and pictures from the night. 

Thank yous

This week of action was made possible by so many people outside the FTP team who made it into something we never could have imagined. In no particular order, we'd like to thank:

The Vegie Tribe Team - for letting us make use of their space and for fueling the movement with their delicous food

Mek Studios - for their incredible billboard designs 

Ayelen Designs - our incredible volunteer graphic designer who brought to life the march and week of action design as well as the placards and banners for the march

Bri, Brittany, Arrabella, Bella, Laura and Nina for banner painting, early planning and for being the first to put their hands up for what we had planned

Every person who signed up as a march volunteer, took time off work or navigated their schedules to attend the week of action. We could not have done it without you. 



Harley McDonald-Eckersall

Harley McDonald-Eckersall is an activist, ally and anti-speciesist. With a focus on Animal Justice, Harley was the former co-founder of Young Voices for Animals before moving to the UK to work for Animal Rebellion. Back in Melbourne, she now works for Farm Transparency Project as the Strategy & Campaigns Director. Harley has also been involved with many other groups in Melbourne and was part of the April 8th Flinders Street Shut-down, organised by Vegan Rising as part of the Dominion Anniversary actions which were co-organised by Dominion Movement and Vegan Rising. To read more of Harley’s writing visit her blog at

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