Rural Resources info sheets are produced to provide Primary Producers with a quick go to resource.
Australian Farmers have always managed risks. Resilience is a great character trait. But when good people going about their business are targeted then the line has been crossed.
As business owners with major assets at stake and families with personal safety concerns it is understandable anxiety levels are on the increase. When large numbers of people breach biosecurity protocols with the potential to carry disease on their footwear it is a concern to our billion dollar Industry.
The health and safety of employees, family members and owners is important but so too are the animals being put at risk. Poor animal husbandry knowledge by argumentative activists trespassing on private land could harm the livestock.
Stressed animals will significantly reduce their feed intake and as a result increase their susceptibility to diseases. Stress reduces the function of the immune system.
Activists are a small minority group who are well resourced and know how to push buttons with the aim of getting negative video evidence of ‘angry farmers’. Preparation is the key. Understanding the need to remain calm and not react is paramount. Evidence of their trespass is essential. The importance of a record that they were asked to leave the property cannot be understated.
Advice from Police
Kingaroy Police Station released the following “Protest Response Considerations”
An unplanned protest may result in property owners/occupiers dealing with protest activity prior to the arrival of police – this includes responding to an unknown number of protesters with unknown intent. In this situation, the following information is not exhaustive, but is provided to assist in responding to such an incident.
- Safety is the primary consideration; take immediate steps to ensure yourself, your family, colleagues and any person on the property is safeguarded from injury.
- Consider ringing Triple Zero immediately and provide details as directed by the operator – including location, safety concerns, ingress/egress routes in and around your property, protester numbers, any protest material in their possession (equipment, signs etc), protester vehicle details, and any other pertinent information.
- If you have CCTV, confirm it is working and recording, and then obtain a recording device – most smart phones have an audio/video recording capability.
- If safe to do so, approach the protester group (after you have commenced recording) and attempt to identify the protest organiser or someone who appears to be in a position of control or authority within the group.
- You may consider asking why they’re protesting at your property, and if you are not satisfied with the response or you have any concerns about their conduct or where they are on your property, consider asking them to leave.
- It is strongly recommended you use wording given below where you identify yourself, clearly advise that the consent for the persons to be on your property is revoked and they are immediately required to leave your property (it is important to allow them a reasonable opportunity to leave after the verbal direction).
“I am …………….…(name and position in company)
of the …………………(company), the person or agent of the person in peaceful possession of ……………………(property/land/place etc.).
To all those on/within ………… (name of property/street/road/place),
I revoke all lawful rights to be here,
and I now require you to immediately move yourselves and all of your personal property off ……………… (property/name/road/place).”
- Important – Whilst you have the right to take steps to defend persons and property, your response must be proportionate to the behaviour of the perpetrators (the threat). In this regard, carefully assess the conduct of the protesters to determine if the overt behaviour presents a clear and actual threat to persons or property – this type of behaviour can be very different to common protest behaviour that is often loud, disruptive and non-compliant – but it may not be threatening. A physical response or the presentation of any weapon to a protest group may have a significant impact on the behaviour of the group (and the subsequent conduct of the protest) and will be strongly scrutinised.
- The timeliness of the police response may be impacted by a number of factors including the location of the incident. However, contact triple zero as required (especially if the situation changes), and on arrival of police, provide as much detail as possible to the officers around what has occurred. Police will assess the situation and act/advise based on a number of considerations.
- Should the protesters still be on your property and police determine the most appropriate course of action is to immediately remove them, you may be asked to to provide another verbal direction to the protesters to leave the property (in the presence of police) – this direction may be similar to the direction you provided earlier to the protesters – but incorporate a request for police assistance. At this stage, police may issue a similar direction to the protest group, and then may give the direction to individual protesters before removing them from the property.
- In terms of protest related offenses: Police have the power to physically remove protesters from your property without commencing proceedings for any offence – this often occurs in protest situations to resolve the immediate issue. Having regard to trespass related offences – a person has the right to enter your property as it may be for lawful reasons (deliver a parcel or conducting a survey etc). It is the subsequent actions incorporating a number of factors that moves a trespass from a civil issue to a potentially criminal act. Should you wish to consider pursuing charges related to trespass offences (there is no formal requirement to do so), please be aware you (and any witness) may be required to provide statements in relation to your observations and conversations at the protest; you may also have to provide this evidence in court. Police incorporate your statements, any related recordings or observations, and information provided by protesters to assess if there is sufficient evidence to meet the required standard of proof – at which point proceedings for related offences may be commenced. To ensure you can make an informed decision about whether you make to make a formal trespass complaint and therefore participate in any associated court process, you may want to consider aspects such as attending and providing evidence in court, the related examinations of actions taken and the potential impact of any associated media reporting.
In terms of taking steps to prepare for protect activity, the following is offered:
- Where practical, ensure fences are in place and secure, and consider trespass related signage at key points in and around your property.
- Review your security footprint in terms of lighting and CCTV and address these as required.
- Be alert for any unusual activity from persons or vehicles in and around your property – including hire cars, unfamiliar vehicles and use of drones. Report any related activity to your local police or Policebank on 131444.
- Talk to your family members, collegues, and neighbouring properties about the above strategies and work as a collective group, ensuring everyone has an understanding of the process. Ensure you have quick access to a recording device and appropriate wording at the first sign of a protest ( perhaps keep a photograph of the wording document on your phone).
- If in doubt about any protest related issue, contact and discuss things with your local police as soon as possible.
Advice from the National Farmers’ Federation
Prepare yourself and your property
- Restrict entry – keep main gates shut and locked.
- Erect signage – put clear signs at points of entry, for example: “Warning – no entry without permission from the landowner”.
- Always adhere to best practice – whether activists are present or not, we all have an obligation to do the right thing by animals in our care.
- Engage with your community – talk with local police, neighbours, and friends and have them on speed dial for a rapid response when called upon for support.
- Stay alert – keep a watchful eye on activity on and around your farm, and share information with friends, neighbours and police.
- Stay informed – monitor news, social media and online forums to keep up to date with activist activity in your area. You should also read up on your legal rights.
During an activist protest
- Call 000 – police have asked us to pass on this recommendation. 000 will yield a faster response than any other police number.
- Explain your concerns – tell the emergency operator about the specific threats posed by the activists (for example to biosecurity, animal welfare, WH&S, lost production, etc.).
- Record everything – footage of faces and vehicle registration numbers. Note any identifying features of the activists, especially if they interact with livestock or enter your house yard.
- Do not use force – even what you consider ‘reasonable force’ may be used against you.
- If you need to intervene, be cautious – if you need to intervene to prevent harm to your animals or property, be calm and measured in your response and record footage of your actions.
After a protest event
- Provide evidence – give all identifying footage to the police and make a formal complaint.
- Consider legal action – you might like to explore your ability to sue identified intruders.
- Tag AustralianFarmers – mention us if you post any footage to social media, or send a copy directly to the National Farmers’ Federation. This can be invaluable in our advocacy work.
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and its member bodies are all tirelessly working to stop extreme activist behaviour on farms and protect our farmers.
Advice from Agforce
Displays of anger, engaging aggressively or worse, physically, will play into the hands of activists and work against you. These actions are the last thing you, your family, or the industry need. They are counterproductive and help the activists’ cause.
Instead, while the activists are videoing you, video them right back. Video everything they do and attempt to identify the ring leaders, but don’t get in their way.
Call police immediately via Policelink on 131 444 if you find trespassers on your property, or on 000 if you or your family feel in danger.
You should provide trespassers with written direction to leave your property using a template similar to the below. Upon reading this Alert, make sure you print or write out the below bolded text, inserting your own personal information; and have it with you, in your hand, and read it out to the trespassing activists. Reading this out and providing trespasses with this official direction will assist police when removing trespassers.
“I am …………….…(name, and position in company if applicable) of the …………………(company if applicable), the person or agent of the person in peaceful possession of ……………………(property/land/place etc.). To all those on/within ………… (name of property/street/road/place), I revoke all lawful rights to be here, and I now require you to immediately move yourselves and all of your personal property off ……………… (property/name/road/place).”
Producer Advice – farm trespass In the event of potential activity by issue-motivated groups, it is recommended that all primary producers review their current security arrangements. Should any unauthorised persons attend any property, the lawful occupier should immediately contact police (000 if considered an emergency or Policelink 131 444).
To assist, attached is a precis of Queensland legislation which primarily relates to prescribed circumstances for police to take action. This includes provisions of the Criminal Code which encompasses the rights of landowners (those in ‘peaceable possession’).
Importantly, police officers can be requested to assist to remove person(s) from any land, structure, vessel or place under Criminal Code section 277: ‘Defence of premises against trespassers – removal of disorderly persons’. Persons attempting to enter, who, in the opinion of the person in peaceable possession (or authorised delegate), are not abiding by the conditions of entry may be advised that they have been refused entry and are not to enter (by way of a direction given by the Owner/Manager or delegate).
It is therefore recommended that a direction be given by the owner/manager of the land to those trespassing.
Greenshirts Movement Advice
PREPARATION – URGENT
In the wake of the farm invasions we have seen, and the extreme likelihood there will be more very soon, we have had advice on current actions you should take. Here are some suggestions.
1. Keep main gates shut and locked
2. Signage – “Warning – no entry without permission from the landowner or you will be deemed to be trespassing, and will be sued. Guard dogs patrol this property”
3. Engage with local police, neighbours, and friends. Have them on speed dial etc so they can rapidly respond and turn up as support.
4. Keep an eye out for suspicious “convoy movements” and phone ahead in the direction of travel
5. Make friends who may work in fuel stations aware of what is going on and ask then to act as an early warning system.
1. Footage is your friend. Everyone who attends in support MUST bring cameras. Record footage of faces, rego numbers, identifying features, any action or activity including with livestock equipment and especially any entry into house yard.
2. DO NOT USE FORCE – even so called reasonable force can be something that could be turned against us.
3. Force (reasonable) may be used to protect against an act of force or violence, or direct damage to animals or property.
4. Possibly place yourselves in the way of intruders vehicles to prevent their departure until police arrive. Any physical attempt to move you can be viewed as assault – get footage.
1. Provide copies of all identifying footage to police
2. Place images on social media and ask public to help identify intruders – Green Shirts will assist by using our platforms to post this material.
3. Make formal complaint to police
4. Consider taking civil action to sue identified intruders.
5. Support Green Shirts to lobby all levels of government, police, judiciary to change/act upon laws to protect us and our livelihoods.
This needs to not only be shared but we also need to hit the phones to make people aware and to develop the networks for support in case of invasion.
There are some big ones planned SOON. We only have sketchy details but have already contacted authorities for action to be taken.
You cannot afford to wait or muck about – if it is not you they are coming for it will be someone you know or a fellow producer.
EDIT: This is based on QLD laws and from advice given to us to date. We encourage everyone to ensure they understand how the laws of their state may differ.