The first ever March for Men Australia was held yesterday at Melbourne’s Federation Square. It was a highly anticipated event given that it was the first type of event of its kind in Australia. It was also the first public event organised by rising local social media star Sydney Watson. It was promoted on Facebook through Sydney’s Facebook page and other popular Facebook personalities such as Avi Yemini and The Young Conservative where it generated much interest.

The purpose of the rally in its description was to show the men in our lives that they matter and their issues matter. It was emphasized that it was not anti-women but encouraging solidarity between men and women so they can stand together in support of one another. It was supported by Bloke’s Advice which aims to offer support to men in whatever struggle they are facing.

Because Sydney Watson is pro-Trump and expresses conservative views it was consider by the media a gathering a far-right misogynist men’s rights advocates and rape apologists. Those attending were also guilty of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and supporting fascism. The local left certainly agreed with these reports and the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) who protest any right wing gathering in Melbourne organized a counter protest.

On the day there was heavy police presence of around 100 deployed around Federation Square to make sure the counter protestors could not disrupt the march. There were random weapons searches and police on horseback.

Attendees of the march were estimated to be around 500 congregated at the main square terrace. March for Men t-shirts were for sale for $10 with proceeds going to Dads in Distress. A Gofundme campaign to cover operating expenses exceeded its target of $5000 which meant that the extra money raised could also go to Dads in Distress. Organizers also gave out March for Men flags, stickers and flyers to attendees. CARF with their Antifa flag and No Nazis Never Again banners met at St Paul’s Court at Federation Square.

The march began with a rendition of the national anthem before hearing from four speakers.

Jarryd Chircop, a young musician was first who spoke bravely about his experiences as an abuse victim from people from both genders and how he persevered through a troubled youth.

Robert Brockway, a writer for A Voice for Men and a spokesman for Men’s Rights Australia spoke about the false gender narrative and listed the problems that men currently face in regards to father’s rights and the benefits that fatherhood and male roles bring to our society.

Chani Randazzo a mother of three sons spoke about her experience in domestic violence shelters and how they neglect to care for the male victims of domestic violence and take a extreme negative view about men without seeing men as people who can assist others flee domestic violence.

Last up was Robert Tiller, a relationship counselor who was fired from his position Relationships Australia WA after he shared a Bettina Arndt article at his workplace. He is currently launching a legal case against Relationships Australia and in the process of establishing his own private practice. He spoke from the heart about the support the men in our lives need.

All speakers had to deal with chants, sirens and other noises coming from the CARF protestors who made their way up to the main square and tried to break the police lines. Two arrests were made as minor scuffles broke out when police lines did not hold. There were reports some latecomers to the rally were denied entry to the area by the police. CARF then moved to the Flinders Street Amphitheater which police then moved over to block the area.

The march then took place from Federation Square down Flinders Street with the chant being ‘March for Men. Respect for All’ finishing at the Queen Victoria Gardens before the crowd dispersed. As people made their way back to Federation Square there were no post-march clashes with CARF protestors who had stayed behind.

The mainstream media attention that evening was all about the clashes that was caused by the CARF protestors. None of the content of speeches were reported with only about 10 seconds of Sydney Watson’s remarks throughout the day was aired on the news.

But the real story was that the marchers outnumbered CARF 3 to 1 and it was an overwhelming success. For Sydney Watson’s first public event it was managed professionally with the main schedule not interrupted.

Given the success of yesterday’s march it has the potential to become an annual event and could possibly be rolled out to other cities in Australia. The challenge for the organizers now is to keep the momentum going and keep men’s issues on the media and policy agenda which is often consumed by the feminist lobby.

The Unshackled will be releasing video highlights over the coming days.

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