(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

Stop me if this sounds familiar: you’ve spent the past two days doomscrolling and inhaling footage of unruly protesters causing a ruckus in the streets of Melbourne. You feel awful. What is the world coming to? 

I’m an internet reporter who has been following this anti-vaccine movement in Australia for the past two years and I’ve seen quite a few of these protests, encouraged by conspiracists and extremists. Between the broken bottles, flares and hi-vis vests, I think there’s real reason for optimism -- not despair.

We’re on day three of protests against a vaccine mandate in the construction industry. The Victorian government has temporarily shut the industry down after major outbreaks and shockingly high numbers of non-compliance on public health measures on sites. Zooming out, we’re on day 200+ of lockdowns in Melbourne. People are worn down from forced isolation and income insecurity. But looking at the problems clearly should give us some hope.