Susan Pavan: i3 Publications.
“You are free (in Australia) until you say no to the vaccine…”
Pat, former nurse, 65, Victoria.
March 2, 2022, Sydney, Australia. Rain pelted on the concrete city pavements and the wind whipped the blocked-off streets guarded by armed on-duty police officers.
Across the road, outside the oldest public building in town, a couple of thousand emergency and health workers, alongside their supporters, stood together in protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
“Sack them all, sack them all…” the protesters roar directed towards the politicians inside the State Parliament House of New South Wales, Australia.
City workers who blended into the grey and dreary CBD, walked by the protest.
Hidden under umbrellas wearing face masks; the city workers either looked straight ahead or peered into the luminous screens of their mobile phones seemingly oblivious to what event had surrounded them.
Before Covid-19 this city and its people were bustling and bright. Now, this cosmopolitan; harbour-side town is a shadow of once better times.
Protesters, face-mask-free with high-visible workwear greeted each other like long-lost family, breaking up the city’s monotonous undertones.
Not far from the police officers, liken to a scene from an outback poem, a bearded man in a bushranger jacket and a hat stood by the protest’s outskirts feeding his friendly mongrel of a dog.
A former government worker standing next to the man and his dog told this writer of how people are fearful of attending the freedom rallies against vaccine mandates in case they are identified by employers.
The man gave this journalist a pair of bright orange ear plugs. He pointed towards the city’s central park, Hyde Park, where he believed a sonic weapon, Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), were spotted by a fellow protester.
During the past two years the general public are most-likely unaware, similar military grade weaponry used in the Hong Kong “pro-democracy” protests against protesters, have also been used on the protesters against vaccine mandates and lockdowns in Australia.
In the act of “Covid-19 policing” rubber bullets; pepper spray, particularly in the anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne, 2021, and LRADs against protesters in Canberra, February, 2022, were fitting of any wartime scenario.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) stated in a parliamentary House of Representative question request, addressed to United Australia Party Leader (UAP), Mr Craig Kelly, confirming the use of LRADs in the Parliamentary precinct in Canberra earlier this year on protesters against vaccine mandates.
Whilst AFP stated, voice only communications functions were enacted, protesters reported injuries such as minor burns; lethargy and blistered lips.
Extremists? Or Everyday People…
“These are firefighters; nurses, paramedics and teachers pleading for their jobs,” said Mr Christian Marchegiani, a stood down teacher and organiser from Reclaim The Line, a grass-roots group of frontline workers against Covid-19 vaccine mandates. “More than ever, with these floods do we need these workers now…”
Firefighters who want to help with the flood recovery, claimed their services have been declined: “We can’t go up and do what we have trained for years to do in order to help the community,” said Mr Steve McDonald, a firefighter on a 10NewsFirst report.
Mr McDonald, protesting against vaccine mandates, told this journalist in a follow-up interview, that he headed north to the New South Wales flooded region of the Northern Rivers, as a citizen volunteer.
Mr McDonald said he helped rescue a local resident in need. The resident revealed to the rescuer that she was “triple vaccinated” and listened with tears to Mr McDonald’s story of vaccine imposed mandates.
“It shows when the walls are broken down, we are all connected, and we are bigger than the divide enforced on us,” said Mr McDonald.
During the first week of the floods, it’s now widely reported that the government left the flooded communities to fend for themselves establishing a NSW Government independent inquiry into its slow response.
What is not widely reported, is that stood-down and unvaccinated frontline workers from all parts of the country, travelled to the region as volunteer citizens aiding in the rescue and recovery in these flood-stricken communities.
According to a conservative media report, the State Emergency Service (SES) have kept Covid-19 health orders in place, turning volunteers away during a crisis even though vaccine mandates are in the process of being dropped around Australia and worldwide.
In the heart of the protest, a group of grandmother’s covered small children as they sheltered around the stage.
“Hands off my grandkids…”
Grandmother, Sydney, Australia.
Mr Mark Latham, the state leader of One Nation, reportedly attempted to book a conference room in the state parliament for protesters to sit out of the heavy rain, during a hearing into Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
At the time of publishing, Mr Latham, who was once the nation’s opposition leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), was unable to comment for this story.
“Due to the weather, the group had applied to watch today’s hearing from inside parliament but they said their request was cancelled at the 11th hour,” reported Mrs Amelia Brace in a 7News report aired the same day of the protest.
Mr Latham explained: “It was put to me that these people were undesirable people and we don’t want them anywhere near the parliament.
“Well not long ago they were teaching our children in the schools,” he added.
The majority of mainstream media report on this group and label them as the “anti-vaxxer movement”.
Though recently, various publications have started reporting the group as “anti-vaccine mandate protesters.”
While independent and social media describe this group as “the freedom movement.”
This writer, trained in traditional print journalism, restrains from the practice of discriminatory labelling such as “anti-vaxxer,” reporting this group as a ‘freedom protest against vaccine mandates.’
When questioning the protesters themselves, most will tell you they are “everyday Australians” or “freedom loving people.”
There are various organised groups in the freedom movement that are considered “fringe” and are often reported in the mainstream media unfavourably as a whole group.
However majority of protesters are individuals, such as grandparents, parents and workers, who have one commonality; they believe Australia is not free and that the vaccine mandates impeding freedom is just the tip of the iceberg.
Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates in Australia
“I feel my daughter was coerced to keep her job, she was in tears, I was in tears… We are highly distressed,”
Margaret, a mother of a young teacher, Sydney, Australia.
As the weather conditions eased, so did the protesters chanting outside parliament building.
The next location for the protest, was a major Australian broadcaster, Seven Network, nested a minute walk-away in Sydney’s Martin Place, also known as “The Heart Of The City”, where major national banks also reside.
As the crowd marched to this location, this journalist spoke with a volunteer firefighter from the Australian northern state of Queensland.
In a pair of thongs and a waterproof firefighter jacket, the volunteer firefighter explained the confusing state of Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
The volunteer said full-time Queensland firefighters are reportedly exempt from vaccine mandates, whilst volunteers are not. While in the next state of New South Wales, the vaccine mandates for all firefighters still remain.
To add to the confusion a “no-jab no-job” policy was not made mandatory by the Australian Federal Government but is enabled through state government and corporate enterprise.
According to the Australian Fair Work Ombudsman the jurisdiction of the eight Australian state and territory governments, govern vaccine mandates and the federal government governs the aged-care sector as well as its own public servants.
State and federal politicians are excluded from such mandates practiced widely on its citizens. An example of “freedoms” for some and not for all in this country.
Vaccine mandates have been employed by all jurisdictions, but vary in scope. Various mandates also extend beyond workplaces, with patrons in Queensland unable to attend hospitality venues until April 14, 2022, and unvaccinated citizens are unable to fly internationally.
The inconsistency of restrictions between states, cause confusion amongst the public.
From the public health policy perspective on vaccine mandates, The University of Western Australia report on “vaccine hesitancy” as a concern to public health.
“Policy-makers in France and Italy were primarily driven by operational challenges, with their vaccination programs coming under threat as their populations became less compliant,” Associate Professor Katie Attwell said in an educational news report.
“While California and Australia didn’t face the same threats, pro-vaccine activists, utilised local opportunities to heighten political pressure on decision makers to make vaccine refusal more difficult, said Associate Professor Attwell.
The study looking at the drivers behind new childhood vaccine mandates in different parts of the world reportedly found mandates were attractive for governments.
“Mandates can help resolve systemic problems on the one hand and more local, minor or technical problems on the other, all without imposing onerous costs or policy complexity,” Associate Professor Attwell said. “However, these policies also come with risks, challenges, and unforeseen consequence.”
Real-Life Consequences Of Vaccine Mandates
“I’m sitting home unemployed because of a decision I made about my health.”
Ms Jackie Cheal, nurse of 35 years, Sydney, Australia.
A consequence reported by the protesters, is the “enforcement” of compliance as oppose to an “incentive” through Covid-19 vaccine mandates. This has resulted in the loss of highly skilled and experienced workers and volunteers from frontline; emergency, military, health and education sectors during a time of work shortages and catastrophic floods in Australia’s eastern states.
In at least six months of interviews, all these workers have commonly described on how they are drawn to serve the public… More than anything these workers want to get their stories out to end Covid-19 vaccine mandates for all Australians.
They are have been stood down with no pay; some now homeless, divorced and disowned by family and friends.
Yet they still turn up, still stand up for what is arguably right and still want to contribute to a society that has turned its back on them.
The people under umbrellas outside Network Seven’s building, started to roar: “Tell the truth, tell the truth…”
Holding a mainstream journalist background, this writer attempts to comprehend what must be going through the working journalist’s minds while watching the protester’s outside the building calling-out for truth.
Do they see these people as truly crazy or are they to afraid to listen and report their stories in case they get labelled “anti-vaxxer”…
Over the roaring crowd and heavy rain, a protester yelled to this interviewer wearing a media vest: “We are here today because they (the mainstream media) have contributed to the division of this country and vilified our true heroes with decades of experience.”
Today, however, it would soon appear the protesters would have a small break in the weather…
As the crowd quietened, the organisers of the protest announced to the protesting crowd that two major national news networks were reporting on the protest.
In the middle of a sea of umbrellas, a mainstream media cameramen caught the people’s message against vaccine mandates.
Personally hand-written messages on protester’s boards were filmed by Network Seven and Network Ten cameramen in protective rain gear.
Capturing the fallen stories of the heroes of yesterday, unemployed today.
No jab. No job. No way
2020 Caring for Covid Patients – 2021 Unemployed
The writing on the back of the white shirts, stained and smudged from the pouring rain, stated:
Police – 33 Years.
Nurse – 44 Years.
Mother – Teacher 18 years…
“These people have come out for no other reason but just to end the vaccine mandates,” said protest organiser, Mr Marchegiani, to 10NewsFirst senior reporter, Mr Lachlan Kennedy.
A firefighter of 35 years, stood down, Mr Tony Camilleri interviewed in the 10NewsFirst, explained further to this reporter: “I’m at peace with my decision, I know what’s right for me and my body,” he said.
When asked how many lives he’d saved during his career, “I’ve lost count…” he smiled.
A nurse of 44-years cried with this writer and spoke of the division and hurt she’s witnessed in the community caused by “fearful messaging” during the Covid 19 response: “We were all living in an illusion, blind to see what was truely happening and what were losing,” she further explained on the loss of freedoms in this country.
A worker from a major aviation company, who wished to remain unnamed and was unable to make it the protest out of fear of being identified, said: “There are so many of us out there who have lost our jobs in aviation and so many other industries.
“We are just praying that this all comes to an end very soon and we can get back to living normally without being judged or ridiculed,” she said.
As interviews continued between the mainstream media and the organisers of the protest, protesters filmed the interaction and peacefully watched.
To scratch the surface on the resistance to the Covid-19 vaccines is a complex subject involving many layers of reasons and beliefs beyond a simple label as “hesitant.”
A starting point is understanding why professionals are questioning the Covid-19 vaccination.
There are no blanket official numbers on Australian workers and volunteers stood down or coerced from Covid-19 vaccine mandates available at the time of publishing.
Mainstream media and MPs report this group as a minority who are struggling for relevance amid the country’s alleged high vaccination rate.
One year ago in May, 2021, only around three million, out of (close to) 26 million Australians were vaccinated against Covid-19.
Yet at the time of publishing it is alleged Australia is amongst the most vaccinated nations in the world, with a double vaccination rate of 82.5 per cent, and its covid death toll a total of 5,959.
Though at time of writing, the third “booster” roll-out showed dwindling numbers in Covid-19 vaccination rates.
Mr Mark Latham of One Nation reportedly challenged the state education department on vaccine mandates during a teacher’s shortage in the state.
The New South Wales Government responded 99 per cent of teachers “complied” with the Covid-19 vaccine mandates. They said 125 teachers were stood down and one principal.
Mr Latham has claimed up to 9000 casual teachers can’t work because they aren’t vaccinated.
But Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, refuted the figure, insisting it is constantly changing.
Mr Latham told 2GB radio host Ben Fordham he obtained the data through the Department of Education.
“This is the truth,” reportedly said Mr Latham.
This writer has interviewed and received hundreds of messages from workers in Australia who are distressed at being coerced by Covid-19 workplace mandates.
An interview includes young female teachers and their parents who were in tears after hearing of how their daughter’s, felt forced to be vaccinated to keep the job they loved and had studied for years to achieve.
Prior to the vaccine mandate announcements mid-2021 in Australia, research showed up to a 41 per cent of Australians in May, 2021, were “vaccine hesitant”, with 20 per cent being of this cohort strongly opposing the Covid-19 vaccination.
Since strict lockdowns, restrictions and mandates, Australia has now one of the highest double-dosed Covid-19 vaccination rates in the world.
What is the truth? – is Australian’s Covid-19 high vaccination rate due to goodwill or is it simply down to coercion?
According to The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, had said the high vaccination rates were based on the “good will” of the Australian people.
“You are only free when you have choice…”
Anya, 22, Canberra, Australia.
In hundreds of interviews, most of the people considered “hesitant” who questioned the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccinations, believe they do not have enough information on the risks to be fully informed.
They feel information on associated risks have been withheld from the government and media. This is confirmed with big pharma, such as Pfizer, having been allowed suppression orders on its adverse reactions.
Many report, particularly those affected by workplace mandates, of the lack of clinical trials compared to traditional vaccines, are of concern.
Majority were mainly concerned about the Covid-19 vaccination, not traditional vaccines.
Another area of concern is the lack of substantial hard evidence of workplace risk assessments on the current Covid-19 vaccines.
They are concerned with a reported shorter-time limit of production; reports of short-term efficacy along with the lack of long-term studies on the new MRNA technology on human health, especially in pregnant women; babies and children. Along with increased reports of heart complications amongst athletes and young males are of other concerns.
Majority believed mandates are “draconian” and are highly concerned by the fact there are current gag orders on health workers including doctors and nurses.
Many feel their right to privacy on their medical health private information has been breached.
There is also distrust with reported conflict of interests; failed PCR tests, media manipulation of facts particularly in response of exaggerated and incorrect Covid-19 crisis forecasts in medical modelling and cases of diagnostic confusion of terms such as ‘with’ and ‘of ’ Covid-19.
Many said the government and the media manipulated the public’s perception of Covid-19 through “fear mongering” and believed the mainstream media did not scrutinise the government decisions on this highly contested issue of the Covid-19 response.
These are not conspiracies….
Speaking at a reported independent, membership-based think tank, Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) on February 28, 2022, Mr Perrottet, spoke of a strategic collaboration between the two states of Australia involving New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria.
Mr Perrottet, the leader of News South Wales, explained the reasons for collaboration of states in launching the synchronised Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) program and retail QR code sign implementation, not under the name of science but to socially counteract panic and increase confidence in parents and the community.
He spoke of the collaboration with the Premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews: “I get criticised for being, ‘the open-up guy’ and he gets criticised being, ‘the lock-it-down guy….'” stated the Mr Perrottet. “It was a strategic plan for both of us to mirror settings where possible.”
He stated the justification of this confidence building strategy was to counteract alleged Covid-19 fear mongering in the media.
“That type of reporting, over this period of time, has depleted confidence in our people.
“So we actually only bought it back for one reason only – to install confidence so people would go out..”
This raises questions on what other restrictions were enforce on citizens which were not based on science…. And regardless of the unscientific justifications, why didn’t the politicians just tell the truth to the public instead of manipulating the truth in an expensive taxpayers exercise…
Mistrust Towards The Mainstream Media
The freedom protesters against Covid-19 vaccine mandates were asked to move from the Network Seven building.
The reason? Another organised protest was to take place.
It is now illegal to protest in the state of New South Wales, Australia, without a permit, and in several precincts unlawful protesting, resulting in economic loss, can end in criminal charges of up to $22,000 or two years in prison.
Protesters with Ukraine national flags arrived.
There were around one hundred people, angry and grieving for fellow Ukrainians affected by the Russian and Ukraine conflict.
A chef and a protester from the freedom rally who was from Ukraine wanted to join the protest but was told he was not welcomed because he supported “Putin-supporters.”
Aside from this point, if this group protesting against vaccine mandates is a minority; is it the ethical practice of Australian journalists to refuse reporting their point-of-view…
There are also other concerns and many unanswered questions surrounding corporate censorship, on who is funding the media and how does it affect news briefs given to reporters…
Here is an example of an experienced editor in 2021 during strict lockdowns briefing staff of a major news online outlet to not promote “anti-vax” views calling it a “disease”: “Make sure your stories are rubbishing their ridiculous claims,” said the editor of The Daily Mail, Barclay Crawford.
This reporter fears such an editorial practice of censorship in the name of “hate speech” or “misinformation” under the name of journalism is a slow-and-slippery descent into undemocratic mass produced propaganda despite a state-of-emergency or not.
As the interviews ended, and the mainstream media news team took off into the rain. Emotions were high and mixed amongst the protesters.
Speaking to groups of protesters, people said they did not think the media would turn up… Others said the damage has been done and it makes no difference…
“We just want the truth,” said a stood-down state emergency volunteer.
From observing and reporting on the freedom movement it appears the people in the movement have a differing and diverse set of backgrounds; beliefs and opinions.
A father, Luke*, who supported the frontline workers said. “I have been a loyal Labor supporter since I was a child, in fact it was generational.
“When Covid-19 hit I saw that Labor is not what it used to be. My whole belief system crashed and it was hard at first. But now I can see issues beyond what is perceived as left or right…”
This is not an unusual story of those feeling disappointed and disillusioned from major Australian parties such as the Australian Liberal and Labor parties.
This writer also believes a vital part of history is being underreported by mainstream media and academia.
Some believe the mainstream media is of no relevance and opt to source their information from grass-roots independent media.
With over 100,000 followers on Facebook, Mr Michael Gray Griffith from Cafe Lockout who spoke to this writer at a protest in Canberra, said: “Forget about the mainstream media – it’s dead.”
Mr Rukshan Fernando, also known as the Real Rukshan, is a videographer and independent journalist covering live protests to large audiences on Facebook, said: “It is not good for the people when they are, at worst, ignored.”
Mr Graham Hood, a former commercial pilot captain of 55 years and speaker against vaccine mandates, said the mainstream media coverage influenced public perception and when reported correctly gives “credibility” to the movement.
Jack*, a protester against vaccine mandates, said: “The media is the virus.”
“Why are they (the media) doing this to us, my friends and family won’t speak to me because of what they read.”
Judy*, a grandmother-of-three, Sydney, Australia.
There are fringe elements in this movement as there are in all movements including the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and communist groups, whose goal is to bring down capitalism and home ownership, but the media does not exclude reporting or vilifying on BLM as a whole.
This writer asked a mainstream reporter at an earlier protest; why is the media labelling all the group in such a manner?
The reporter responded: “You can assume they are all anti-vaxxers.” I asked the reporter; if you have asked the protesters if they are anti-vaxxers? He said: “No.”
Majority of the reporters this writer has witnessed at protests are junior reporters green, freshly out of university.
Only recently, at this Sydney rally and at the Canberra freedom convoy protests in February, debatably the largest amount of protesters in Australian history, senior reporters were present.
Majority of the protesters, this interviewer has spoken with at the freedom rallies, say they are not against all vaccines. They say they just want to know more about the Covid-19 vaccines and have not been given all the information to make an informed decision.
The organiser of this protester, Mr Christian “Mack” Marchegiani, believed that the bigger the numbers at the protests, the more media attention will be captured in the group fighting Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
“Canberra (in February) is where it all really started to take-off; you had up to 100,000 at the protest on the first Saturday and by the following 500,000,” he added.
The official number from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) reported in media outlets were ten thousand. Judging by the footage it’s clear the AFP numbers are far from conservative.
Organisers; independent media and protesters have claimed the mainstream media and government often downplayed the size of protesters at freedom rallies.
Though the tide may be turning slowly, with trickles of fairer media reports on protests against vaccine mandates.
Unfortunately due to wild weather conditions; flooded communities and reported political differences between leaders in the freedom group, numbers have been fluctuating during the past month.
However week-after-week protests across the nation continue to be formed by what matters most; the power of the people, a force proven greater then that of the most torrential weather…
“No one has been hurt by rain,” said a protester on the 10News First report. “You got to get uncomfortable when you’re fighting for freedom.”
If you have stories on vaccine mandates; a worker affected by Covid-19 vaccine mandates, or report any factual errors in this article, email Susan Pavan: [email protected]
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Mother of four Susan Pavan has extensive experience working as a journalist for both mainstream and smaller publications.
Here is an image of her on the job at the remarkable gathering of Australians earlier this year that was the Convoy to Canberra.
She writes: In Australia, 2021, while experiencing one of the longest lockdowns worldwide, this writer sought to expose the media and government manipulation of truth particularly around the vilification of everyday Australians protesting against the vaccine mandates.
Due to censorship and fear of police cracking down on Australians posting truth about the Covid-19 response on social media, this writer found it initially a challenge to publish posts and stories exposing police brutality of protesters on a mainstream platform.
Shortly after the protests against lockdowns reached violent heights; this writer reached an accumulation of over a million views worldwide seen by CEOs; office workers, government agencies and activists alike, revealing the truth that otherwise would have been hidden.
Having worked and studied on both left and right media, this writer seeks a central point of balance and now publishing her own long-form investigative newsletter, Inform. by i3 Publications.
Stories of emerging second class of citizens from workplace mandates; lack of transparency in the protected public health documents and gag orders, censorship, economical, bodily and social human rights abuses under the justification of “the greater good” are being under-reported at best and misrepresented at worst.
Her goal is to reinstate the traditional function of the fourth estate as the watchdog of the public domain rather than what is has so sadly become, the guard dog of privilege, government overreach and private enterprise.