More than 1,000 people gathered in Sydney and Melbourne central business districts today to express solidarity with the US Occupy Wall Street movement and protest topics ranging from corporate greed to environmental degradation.
The rallies, held in Martin Place in Sydney and the City Square in Melbourne, officially commenced at 2.30pm in tandem with similar occupations across the world.
Demonstrators in Sydney chanted slogans and displayed anti-corporate placards in front of the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of Australia and other large Australian banks and financial institutions.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith was one of the speakers who addressed the gathering in Sydney.
"We are here because we are the 99 percent. We are the majority and we want to fight the brutality of the capitalist system that exploits all the working class," one speaker said.
Several other trade unionists also spoke, including a member of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), a Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) member and Louise Arnfield, President of the NSW branch of the Financial Services Union.
Ms Arnfield, 52, told ninemsn she was at the protest because she believed it was possible for the financial services industry to be profitable without enslaving people with debt.
"Members come to me and tell me they have to meet aggressive targets to sell debt to their customers," Ms Arnfield said.
"This ends up debt-stressing the community."
"So we've got stress inside the workplace and communities that can't afford to educate their children and have a quality of life."
"And all that money is moved up to the top, to the executives. So we just want a fair go for everybody."
Many protestors said they were in the square because they felt there was no political party that represented them or could achieve the changes they were calling for.
The protest organisers hope many who attended the rally will spend the night in the square. Just after 5pm there were around seven two- and three-man tents set up as well as two much larger ones.
The Occupy Sydney movement has spawned from the Occupy Together group which drew inspiration from the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt in February that resulted in the downfall of the dictatorial Mubarak regime.
Demonstrators in New York have occupied Zucotti Park near the city's financial district for over a month to protest the bailout of Wall Street and excessive corporate salaries and bonuses.
Over the last fortnight the movement has spread not only across the United States but internationally with activists planning demonstrations in 78 countries on October 15.