Today, antifascist protesters converged upon Spring Street in Melbourne near the Parliament of Victoria. They went there to counter racist rallies being held by Reclaim Australia and the fascist United Patriots Front.

As usual Victoria Police was also in attendance, and in the days leading to the protest it had promised a large presence and random weapons checks in response to rumours of fascists bringing weapons and intending violence.

Victoria Police’s goal for the day was to facilitate Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front holding their rallies out the front of Parliament House. In order to achieve this mounted officers and members of the Public Order Response Team (PORT) complemented uniformed officers on the streets, and OC (Pepper) spray was deployed against counter-protesters.

Amongst those affected by the OC Spray was a casualty who began to experience respiratory distress, a not uncommon side-effect of OC spray and other such “less-than-lethal” chemical weapons. In the course of attending to this casualty and decontaminating others who had been affected, members of the Melbourne Street Medic Collective (including one pregnant woman) were attacked by police with OC Spray and kettled in a small space at the top of Little Bourke Street.

Footage of the incident will be reviewed as it becomes available but at this point there seem to be only two explanations for the deployment of chemical weapons against the Street Medics: some witness reports have indicated that Victoria Police officers were spraying the crowd indiscriminately and did not check who they were attacking until after the fact. Others have said that police ignored the shouts of the crowd advising them that someone was receiving medical attention and with the decision to spray all medics this action should be seen as a deliberate attack upon medical personnel and their treatment space.

As one of our medics has since remarked:

Possibly more than 100 people needed to be treated today as police indiscriminately fired pepper spray into the crowd, including onto an injured man who was struggling to breathe, was losing consciousness, and was awaiting an ambulance. They also sprayed the medics treating him. Someone had a seizure, two were taken to hospital and a few were sent home (by us as medics) due to the after-effects of the pepper spray (namely hypothermia-like symptoms of shaking and an inability to normalise body temperature). It was absolute fucking carnage and it was completely unnecessary and provocative. The racists didn’t cop any of the pepper spray at all as far as I know, and they got a three-line police escort away from the area.”

Victoria Police should rightfully be condemned for the deployment of chemical weapons, the targeting of medical personnel, casualties and medical treatment spaces with such weapons and, most of all, doing this in order to facilitate a public rally of racists and overt fascists and neo-nazis. Any assessment of the actions of antifascist protesters will conclude that they were inherently defensive: against threats of violence and the use of weapons by fascists and nazis as part of the United Patriots Front, and against the violence of racism and systematic oppression on the parts of Reclaim Australia, the United Patriots Front and Victoria Police.

The officers in command of PORT and of the event should immediately be suspended from their duties and investigations launched into how and why chemical weapons came to be used, and used against medics, injured persons and in treatment spaces. These investigations should be conducted with the possibility of demotion, termination from employment and/or laying of criminal charges (such as for assault) as outcomes.

Melbourne Street Medic Collective encourages all witnesses and concerned persons to lodge complaints with Victoria Police’s Conduct Unit and the Police Minister.

Police Conduct Unit
GPO Box 913
Melbourne VIC 3001

Telephone:1300 363 101
Email: “

Role Occupant The Hon Wade Noonan MP
Phone 03 8684 0900
Email Address
Portfolio Minister for Corrections
Minister for Police

Legal Aid Victoria has additional information on lodging complaints with police well worth a read.

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This morning a number of medics from Melbourne Street Medic Collective attended the East-West Tunnel community picket of Lend Lease in Docklands in order to support and assist picketers. Lend Lease is being targeted as one of the fore-runners in the bidding process to build the East-West tunnel link. We have supported this campaign as individuals and as a collective for some time and plan to continue this support into the future.

This morning’s action was notable for the level of brutality and violence employed by Victoria Police against picketers. At last week’s picket, organisers arranged to allow non-Lend Lease workers to enter the building after showing ID, and a similar proposal was raised today. However, Victoria Police – seemingly reeling from the positive media coverage generated by last week’s picket – refused to allow this, and instead chose to use workers (mostly from Fujitsu) as tools to create violence and negative press coverage.

Instead of allowing small groups of workers to enter the building calmly and safely, Victoria Police used several members of the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to break through the community picket and violently thrust workers into the building, while causing distress and injury to those on the picket. Victoria Police did not merely play a passive response to non-Lend Lease employees’ desires to enter the building: on a number of occasions, Victoria Police officers were seen chasing after workers who had decided not to cross the picket line in order to convince them to change their mind and provide another opportunity to inflict violence upon the peaceful picketers.

As a result of Victoria Police’s actions we were required to provide care for a number of injuries. These included minor injuries (cuts and scratches) as well as more serious ones: one person reported an injured shoulder, another received treatment for a sprained ankle. Two people were offered treatment after having their legs trampled and pinned by police and another received treatment for a head injury.

As well as providing care for injuries we provided water and rescue remedy to keep picketers hydrated and in good spirits and we can happily report that the mood was definitely positive.

It cannot be said more clearly that our need to provide medical care stemmed directly from Victoria Police’s decision to employ violence as a tactic to break the community picket. As was acknowledged in the debriefing session after the picket this morning, the Napthine Government’s use of violence to oppose the tunnel picket campaign is proof of their lack of solid justification for the project. The cynical use of workers as collateral in the attempt to destroy the tunnel picket campaign can only be condemned and shows that Victoria Police and the Napthine Government will go to great lengths to ensure this project will continue: even placing the safety of Victorians in jeopardy.

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On Friday the 10th of May there was a nation wide action, calling for the end of mandatory detention and also for an end to the imprisonment of the ASIO Negative assessment refugees. We attended the Midday vigil out the front of DFAT (Casselden Place, Melbourne) to show our support to refugees and the demand to ending indefinite detention.

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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


On a sweltering hot day, the 24th of November, 100s of Melburnians gathered to defend the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne against the pro-life activists who regularly harass women and their partners using this clinic for termination of unwanted or medically risky pregnancies. This was the first action for the newly formed Melbourne Feminist Action collective, of which some Melbourne FACT members are a part, along with many other fine feminist organisers and political activists in Melbourne. After some inspiring speeches by Debbie Brennan of Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights (women are not incubators!), Colleen Hartland of the Greens (speaking on her own experience of using termination services), and Karen Pickering of Slutwalk and Cherchev la Femme (80% of the public support abortion rights, opponents of women’s right to choose are a small minority!), clinic defenders marched to City Square in celebration of the gains of the feminist movement in securing safe access to sexual and reproductive services in Victoria.

Thanks to good organisation, thoughtful social media health and safety promotion, and super-prepared activists on the day, there were no incidents needing first aid attention at the event. Nevertheless, Melbourne FACT street medics were prepared to help any one who needed it, we want rallies such as these to be empowering spaces and know sometimes that accidents and health-related incidents do happen. The only incident worth noting was a young pro-life activist who had fallen on the tram tracks in pursuit of Melbourne Feminist Action marchers, FACT appreciate the graciousness of this particular young woman requesting first aid and engaging in polite conversation about our opposing positions. It is my opinion that young people (particularly children) coerced into joining antagonistic pro-life actions deserve our sympathy, not our hatred. Indoctrination into neo-conservative religious and political cultures disempowers individuals, I feel it is better to offer kindness and demonstrate clearly there are realistic alternatives different to the ones they are taught by their institutions and patriarchs to fear.

My own personal experience of the Melbourne Feminist Collective and the rally to defend women’s right to choose has been a joyful one due my long-term involvement with this issue- I worked for Family Planning NZ as younger woman and was exposed to the multitude of reasons women and their families seek termination of pregnancy services. I’m proud of being able to help these people. To me, unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy is a fact of life and women need to have access to unbiased services where they can be appropriately counselled on their choices. It is my hope that we can grow a feminist movement influential enough to extend family planning and safe clinical services to all women in Australia, irrespective of whether they can afford the services or not. Additionally, we can see from the example of the recent U.S. elections that candidate’s policies on women’s reproductive choices can make or break political careers. I call on supporters of women’s rights and family planning services to mobilise around this issue as one that can have major impact on the 2013 Federal elections in Australia, let’s oust neo-conservatism and sexism from Australian politics!            @MelbFemAction            @CRWWmelbourne


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Tomorrow (Friday) evening, Melbourne FACT street medics will be meeting other activists at the State Library to protest Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza.

Though a tentative ceasefire has been announced, Israel’s actions form part of a 60+ year narrative of violence against and displacement of the Palestinian peoples. The most recent conflict, called “Operation Pillar of Defence” by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) began with the assassination of a senior member of Gaza’s Hamas-led government with a guided missile attack against his car. Were any other country to assassinate a senior member of another country’s government there would certainly be repercussions – especially if they were assassinated as a result of a missile being fired into another country. Yet this has not been the case with Israel and Australia’s Prime Minister Gillard even failed to acknowledge the assassination when officially responding to the violence in Gaza.

As Senator Doug Cameron alluded, Israel has a long history of terrorism against other countries in the region and has been accused of war crimes during the 2006 invasion of Lebanon (for the use of white phosphorus against civilians) and in the Operation Cast Lead ground invasion of Gaza in 2008 (when Israel was again accused of using white phosphorus and for using Palestinian children as human shields). Despite their aggressive history, Israel often plays itself as the victim and the current campaign has achieved some notoriety for hijacking the language of anti-state violence activism to promote war and violence against Palestine. The IDF and its supporters have also accused Hamas of using journalists and hospital patients as human shields during Israeli bombings, but this logic relies on an understanding that Hamas has deliberately put these people at risk: the journalists who were bombed by the IDF were working in media company buildings that are known to have offices for international media and that were declared key targets by the Israelis and bombed without warning to destroy the communication antennas on their rooftops. The accusation of using patients as human shields comes from Israel’s assertion that Hamas has taken to using the basement of Al-Shifa Hospital to avoid bombardment by the Israelis; given the considerable risk of guided missiles, I am not surprised by their choice of headquarters.

Though a ceasefire is now in place the threat of violence lingers and there are around 1,000 people who have been injured in attacks on Gaza in the last week. Al-Shifa hospital has suffered greatly as a result of the Israeli blockade of Gaza that has prevented medical supplies and pay for the hospital’s workforce reaching their destinations and this situation has only worsened during the recent conflict. This situation is replicated at other hospitals in Gaza and al-Awda hospital in Gaza’s north, which provides “all emergency, surgical, and maternity services” to a population that is 70% refugees lost its director after he too was killed by an Israeli missile attack.

To this end, a small number of our members have individually pledged to support assistance for medical aid in Gaza and recommend that anyone else interested in helping to ensure Gaza’s hospitals are able to provide best treatment donate through Medical Aid for Palestinians. MAP is a British charity but it has a good track-record of support for Gaza and has a better chance of ensuring donations make it past the Israeli blockade.

£5 pays for antibiotics.

£10 pays for medicine to treat sever blood loss.

£50 pays for 600 disposable syringes.

£85 pays for antiseptic to treat 30 patients who have suffered from burns.

£100 pays for a trauma care kit to treat one person who has a life threatening injury.

£1,100 pays a doctor for one month to work in Gaza.

£9,000 pays for all the supplies needed to run a burns unit for one month.

For more information about tomorrow’s rally, please click here.

If you would like more information about what’s happening in Gaza at the moment, you should follow @wgwau @Dr_Tad @antlowenstein @erinmcunningham and @pdanahar

Photograph shared by Jimmy Yan on the Facebook Event page


Photograph shared by Jimmy Yan on the Facebook Event page

On Sunday the 21st of October, Melbourne FACT attended the ‘No To Offshore Processing’ rally. There were 5 FACToids in attendance to keep an eye on the crowd and make sure everyone at the action stayed safe. The action started at 1pm outside the State Library of Victoria with speeches from Adam Bandt (Greens Deputy Leader), Theo Mackaay (Victorian Council of Churches), Michelle O’Neil (Victorian State Secretary, Textile Clothing & Footwear Union). A speech was also made by a Tamil man who had come to Australia seeking asylum as an unaccompanied child and had been processed in a detention center at the age of 13. His speech was extremely emotional as he detailed the atrocities that he had seen, including witnessing the death of his brother at the hands of the Sri Lankan Military Forces. “Why is the life of a child from another nation worth any less?” was a question he posed to the audience that was received with silent nodding as it clearly resonated with the rest of the protesters.

Sri Lankan refugee speaks of his experiences

According to news reports at its peak the action had 300 protesters present.  The March left from the State Library and headed down Swanston St. The march gained a lot of attention from on-lookers with several hecklers, however the group remained undeterred and continued to march and chant. The march ended at the Princess Bridge where the protesters sat down in Solidarity with those currently in detention and offshore processing centers.

Sitting on the Bridge at the end of the March

Sitting on the Bridge at the end of the March

If you want to be a part of the next Refugee action there is going to be a ‘Welcome the Refugees’ Barbecue and Festival on the 6th of November 2012 (Melbourne Cup day) from 1pm at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre – 53 Hampstead Rd, Maribyrnong.

Follow the link below for more details:

Reclaim the night

Reclaim the Night has been running in Australia since 1978 and has been a march for Women to stand up to oppression, sexual assault, rape, victim blaming and all forms of violence. It has been a global event since the 1970s when women across the world took a stand against the crimes that were being committed against women in their local communities.

On the 20th of October this year Melbourne FACT took to Sydney Road in Brunswick to make sure the women and men reclaiming the streets could do so safely.

When we arrived at the corner of Barkley St and Sydney Road at about 6:45pm there was already a small group amassing in front of the ute that was being used to hold the sound system and as a platform for the speakers. When Melbourne FACT attends a rally we split into small groups of two or three street medics – our buddy teams. As a sign of respect to the attendees we divided into pairs that had both a male and female first aider (except for one group which was female only as we were going to walk up the front in the women only section). We felt that this was important as the emotions on the night were likely to be high and the nature of the action meant that female attendees may have felt uncomfortable approaching a male first aider for help.

The speeches started at 7pm and Melbourne FACT moved to our set locations to watch the crowd as more and more people joined the crowd on the road. There were 3 speakers who shared their views on the plight of women and the injustices that have plagued victims in the past (and still do) and discussed what they believed needed to happen in the future to change the issues facing women. Their speeches engaged the crowd and apart from one heckler the speeches went on without any issues and built up an incredible energy in the crowd.

At 7:45pm the MC for the night explained that the main banner was moving out onto the road and directly behind them there would be a women’s only section. By this point in time the crowd had swelled and the Lane heading toward Coburg on Sydney Road was closed by the police. As I was part of the group up the front it was great to see the women’s only section walking together and it was heart warming to know that there were groups of men and children in the section behind us walking in solidarity with the women. As we walked down Sydney Road we did not suffer any heckling or jeering, the local community responded passionately, many people honked their horn in support and people in local eateries cheering us on from the sidewalks.

By the time we had reached the finishing point of the march at the corner of Sparta Place and Sydney Road there were between 4,000 and 6,000 marching to reclaim the night. Some even suggested that there were 4,000 women marching and 2,000 men walking with them in solidarity. Either way the numbers were far greater than had been expected by the organisers and meant that for a period of time the crowd  shut down an entire block and declared their intent to oppose violence in all its forms and to reclaim the night with chants and drum banging.


The march was highly successful with more attendees than expected and some news sources even stating that it was the largest Reclaim the Night to have happened in decades – hopefully with such high attendance and coverage in the main stream media these issues will start being faced by the greater public and cause social change.

We would like to thank the Organisers for arranging the march and for inviting MelbFACT to work with them.