In the lead up to the State Election, the Napthine government has pledged some $21 million to teach Year 9 students first aid.

On paper this is impressive: students will be taught “to administer first aid to victims of heart attacks, strokes, burns and other medical emergencies” and Dr Napthine has suggested it will bolster students employability as employers will give preference to new workers with first aid qualifications. Yet the good Doctor’s enthusiasm belies a simple fact: without a properly equipped, staffed and paid ambulance service the efforts of the best first aiders will be thwarted. Without properly funded, equipped and staffed public hospitals our ability to provide full care to casualties is also compromised.

First aiders have a vital role to play in the workplace and the community, providing initial care for the ill or injured until medical help arrives. In the US, several states have now made it a mandatory requirement for high school students to become CPR-certified in order to obtain their high school certificates; various jurisdictions in the EU also require drivers to have basic first aid skills. As the EU Red Cross says, first aid is an act of humanity and so should be encouraged where possible.

However, it is impossible to ignore the emphasis placed upon waiting for ambulance support in the Emergency First Aid and Provide First Aid courses. When teaching first aid we emphasise the necessity of following the Chain of Survival, which urges prompt access to ambulance and advanced life support services (such as those provided by MICA Paramedics). We also make the point that while one can elect to leave out rescue breaths when performing CPR this brings with it a severe risk of brain damage in the casualty, especially in Melbourne where less than three-quarters of top priority calls are able to be met by ambulance crews within 15 minutes. Ambulance Victoria’s refusal to release detailed insights into ambulance response times on the grounds that it would “excite public controversy” is a clear indication that response times are falling behind.

This policy, if enacted, would be of benefit to Victoria and its people – of this there is no doubt. However considering the track-record of the Baillieu and Napthine governments, which have spent much of their time trying to beat back the rights, benefits and conditions of public sector nurses and paramedics, this policy must be seen for what it truly is: a distraction from the ongoing crisis in the public healthcare sector. If this is an achievable policy there should be no reason for the ALP, Greens and whomever else wishes to contest the election to make similar pledges as well. But we must not sell out our health and wellbeing for a gimmicky election promise.


Other articles of relevance:

Vanstone’s Sham Solution: “Let the sick die!”

Mandatory Training and Marginalisation


At the beginning of the year a number of our crew were interviewed by Nick & Katie from Perth’s Progressive Podcast. We talked about the history of Street Medicine, Occupy (Melbourne), organizing using Anarchist principles, Activist Burnout and building Affinity Groups.

Click on the image below to listen to the complete interview.

And if you are desperate to hear independent media in Australia:

be sure to listen to the Progressive Podcast each and every month.

ProgPodcast Interview

In debates around the Middle East, and in particular the Israel/Palestine conflict, Edward Said’s sentiment (that “malicious generalisations about Islam have become the last acceptable form of denigration of foreign culture in the West”) is often invoked to explain the denigration and outright exclusion of the Palestinian peoples. Although I disagree with Said’s sentiment – a cursory examination of comments regarding welfare quarantining and the Northern Territory Intervention providing a wealth of evidence to that effect – it is not without merit. Certainly, Muslims have emerged as prominent pariahs in Australia and Western society more generally. Only a few months ago Alan Jones lost his appeal against being held accountable for inciting the Cronulla Riots (2005) and in the aftermath of a protest in Sydney against the film Innocence of Muslims Andrew Bolt weighed in with a column simply titled “We let them in. Now they threaten“. As an historian of Australian society I would suggest that the general attitude towards Muslims in Australia closely resembles the old hatred and suspicion of Catholics amongst the white, Anglican community with the added stain of racism – anyone who has heard a racist go off on a diatribe would know that all it takes to be classed as a Muslim is to not be white, have an accent and otherwise have offended the sensibilities of someone mired in the values of the 1950s. To this end it is fairly easy to conclude that concerns around the “security threat” of asylum seekers were born from the misconception that all asylum seekers are Muslim.

The campaigns of hatred against Muslims are more prevalent than one might initially suspect and tied up with all manner of other Right-wing or plainly lunatic issues. As someone who lived in Geelong for a number of years it was quite a shock to see a far-Right group had placed stickers around the CBD advocating violence against and deportation of Muslims; Geelong was also the hometown of “Ban the Burqa Day” which, despite national media coverage, only managed to rouse two people: the organiser and his flatmate. In Clayton, a proposal (now approved) to build a new Mosque for students was met with a number of objections but none so outrageous as that lodged by the Monash Uniting Church chairman, Richard Farrell, who said that “a mosque is a training ground for religious moderates at one end of the scale and religious fanatics at the other end …such opinions in extreme cases can promote “jihad” and the destruction of the “infidel” right up to teaching about assassination and bombing of Christian and other establishments.” As well as being reminiscent of anti-Irish sentiments during the 20th century, Farrell’s argument rather ignores the fact that such broadbased criticism could (and was) used against Churches at various points.

At almost the same time, the City of Casey council was caught up in another fight over an application to build a Mosque. One Councillor, Sam Aziz, waged an almost hysterical campaign against the proposed Mosque, threatening to resign as Deputy Mayor and complaining about freedom of speech issues when his calls to invite speakers to address the Council on “the dangers of Islam” were soundly, and repeatedly, rejected. Of the numerous and well known Islamophobes promoted by Cr Aziz was Pastor Danny Nalliah who (incidentally) had a proposal before Council at the same time to build a new Church – next door to the proposed Mosque site. Nalliah’s complaints against the Mosque were varied and wild: as well as saying “I don’t think we can live side by with a mosque next to us based on what’s happening in Europe,” Nalliah claimed that the Mosque would cause local residents to become “fed up” and sell their houses. These houses would then be bought by Muslims, creating a “Sharia zone” in the local area. None of the articles suggested why locals might become fed up – even the possibility of disturbance by the Call to Prayer was mooted by one Mosque supporter who said “We don’t have loudspeakers and we don’t want to have loudspeakers. And would the church have a bell?”

If the name Pastor Danny Nalliah sounds familiar, it may be because he claimed that the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed nearly 180 people, were caused by the passage of abortion laws in the Victorian State Parliament. Or perhaps you may have caught the Australian describing him as a “fanatic” in an article quoting Senator Barnaby Joyce as saying, “This is the lunatic Right, this is crazy, ill-informed stuff… These are not the sort of people you do preference deals with.” Maybe you read the news that he has launched a new, far-Right Party (Rise Up Australia) with the support of “Lord” Christopher Monckton, climate skeptic extraordinaire. It is an uncomfortable position to ever agree withBarnaby Joyce but his description could not have been more apt when considering some of the quotes to come from Nalliah’s speech to launch Rise Up Australia: “I think God created Chinese fried rice, and I love pizza … but please do not come and tell me that sharia law should be introduced in Australia. You go back to where you came from.”

The issue of whether the Left should support Muslims has been debated intensely over many years, but I would recommend reading the Overland’s debate on the issue. In any case where a minority is being oppressed and victimised simply for being part of the “Other”, the Left should come to their support. When a prominent voice of hatred places itself within our reach, we should be prepared to meet them and drown out their hate. When this comes with the threat of violence, Street Medics have an important role to play in mitigating that violence and supporting those who make a stand against hatred.

On February 19th the Dutch politician Geert Wilders will be addressing Melburnian audiences at the invitation of the Q Society. One of the most prominent Islamophobes worldwide, Wilders has enjoyed the support of many conservative and far-Right politicians and activists: Anders Breivik, the English Defence League, Paul Sheehan of the Age, Menzies House (ardent supporters of Andrew Bolt and Corey “Bestiality” Bernardi) and… Pastor Danny Nalliah. Some try to excuse his politics with nuanced discussions on Islam and feminism, terrorism and the like but even if the arguments were not flawed from the start they would remain irrelevant as their conclusion is that Islam should be killed off before it kills the West. The likelihood of groups like the English Defence League engaging with issues like feminism is patently ridiculous and one would expect that Wilders knows his views are an incitement to murder.

When Wilders gives his speech in Melbourne on the 19th of February, we will be there to meet him and drown him out. If Wilders’ supporters carry through with threats of violence, we as Street Medics will be there to support progressive activists.


For more information on the rally, please visit this Facebook event.

There will be two organising meetings: one on Wednesday 13th of February and another on Saturday 16th to finalise all the details and tactics followed by a working bee to make the placards to be used on Tuesday evening.


[This article was written by Zoidberg, a Street Medic with MelbSMC


 “Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning.”

Occupy Melbourne: Day 3

An untold story from  Melbourne Street Medic Collective early history is contained within the pages of the Occupy Melbourne Reflects Journal (click here for the FREE DOWNLOAD)

The Occupy Movement sought to bring together a diversity of voices. In June 2012, some of those voices answered a call to contribute to the Occupy Melbourne Reflects project. The resulting stories are a snap shot of opinions and reflections upon the events of the preceding tumultuous 9 months.

This collection of thoughts, analysis and stories offer a valuable  resource because so much of the Occupy Story played out on social networks where considered perspectives were often lost in a cacophony and where reflection is all but impossible to practice. And lessons must be learned if activists and social movements are to flourish. A life-changing convergence like Occupy offers valuable insights into where to go next with our struggle against the policy’s of the 1%.Some of those lessons may very well be preserved within this zine as a lasting legacy on how Occupy played out in Australia.

The MelbFACT story is called: THE SECRET ORIGIN OF AN AFFINITY GROUP and can be found on Page 25 of the journal.


 The opening quote is from: ^ Boud D, Keogh R and Walker D (1985) Reflection, Turning Experience into Learning, Routledge. ISBN 0-85038-864-3p. 19