top of page
  • swinjournalism

Get out! The campaign to rid one suburb of neo-Nazis

Groups in Melbourne’s West are holding demonstrations to rid the suburb of a neo-Nazi holdout. Aaron Carriero reports. 

Far-right activists get all the headlines — but standing in opposition to them in Melbourne are activists like Sam Forbes, who is on the frontlines of fighting back against the rise of neo-Nazi activity. 

In short, where they show the facesm, so do Forbes and his fellow campaigners.

“Every time they show their face, we want to show our face as well, and show that we have far, far more people than they do,” Forbes says.

“If they do anything, go anywhere or host a rally anywhere about anything, we will be there in numbers to send the message.” 

In December last year, it was revealed that a gym in Sunshine, one of Melbourne’s most multicultural suburbs, was being used as a meeting ground for a group of neo-Nazis called the National Socialist Network. Locals were appalled and so was the rest of Australia. 

In July, a group known as the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) rallied a group of over 350 people outside the gym’s doors with one message, “Nazis Out of Sunshine”.

It was only a few months ago when the same group attended the infamous anti-trans rally held by British campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (“Posie Parker”) in Melbourne’s CBD.

Above: CARF protesters at a rally earlier this year. (Photo: Supplied, Sam Forbes)

The event lead to a public outcry, people across Australia spoke out and condemned the act, not just for its anti-transgender rhetoric, but especially for terrifying vision of men performing the Nazi salute on the streets of Melbourne. 

Something needed to be done, there was a serious problem festering in Australian politics and the Victorian Government later made the gesture illegal, with the Premier saying: “I wish it didn’t have to be said, but clearly it does: Nazis aren’t welcome.”

Now, months later, the revelation of a Nazi-affiliated gym in Sunshine has been an alarming reminder that more needs to be done. That is why CARF are on the front line. 

The Legacy Boxing Gym in Sunshine West has been at the centre of these rallies after the National Socialist Network held a “white power lifting” event. 

“We don't think you have to wait until they're a huge, serious threat. One Nazi is far too many,” Forbes says.

“People are pretty rightfully disgusted because it's Sunshine West. It's one of the most multicultural suburbs in Melbourne.”

The Legacy Boxing Gym has been de-registered by The Australian Boxing Federation, and calls have been made for the Brimbank City Council to revoke its licence.

The mayor of the Brimbank City Council,Bruce Lancashire, said in a media statement that while council did not have the power to cancel or revoke a planning permit, it did condemn the meeting. 

“Brimbank Council shares the community’s concerns about the alleged links between Legacy Boxing Gym in Sunshine West and the activities of neo-Nazi activists,” he said.

“On behalf of our community, Brimbank City Council condemns any intolerant, racist or fascist activity - or sentiment – within Brimbank, and in any other place.

“Brimbank is a proudly diverse community and has been a Refugee Welcome Zone for a number of years.”

Forbes says Melbourne has long been regarded as one of Australia’s most multi-cultural cities, with its progressive atmosphere making it relatively immune to far-right extremism. 

“Throughout the last 50 years the Nazis had never really been able to have a foothold. You know, they can grow in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra, but Melbourne's always been the toughest nut to crack,” he says.

“But it's also this specific suburb of Melbourne. Sunshine. It's such a flagrant message they're sending. Like if you go to the gym, you’ll see swastika flags, it’s not hidden at all.” 

Forbes says that CARF seeks to gather different left-leaning groups into a united opposition to the Nazis presence in Sunshine. 

“It's based around an autonomous collective. There's no formal membership or anything like that.

“Instead of calling eight different rallies for the same thing, it's to have a central organisation to coordinate antifascist actions.”

Victoria Police made an effort to keep the peace during one recent demonstration by forming a blockade between the gym and the CARF crowds. Forbes says “they set up blockades on the road, had horses, an evidence-gathering team, and lines and lines of police. Probably anywhere from 100-120 cops at the rally in total”.

Forbes says that freedom of expression and identity must be protected, and people shouldn’t be targeted because of who they are. “We’re giving confidence to masses of people who are victimised by this kind of stuff. Empowering them.” 

He says that each time they extinguish appearances by the far-right, they help those that are oppressed by their views. 

“Whenever Nazis show their face, we will as well, with much more numbers than them.” 


Top Stories

Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
bottom of page