Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, Melbourne
39 minute video file (.mp4 multimedia format), transferred from original videocassette. In colour, with sound. Original was released with a booklet explaining the broader context for the documentary.
In October 1986, Victorian nurses began an historic strike action which was to last 50 days. Breaking Point (1998) is a retrospective work, reflecting on the 10 years following the 1986 Victorian strike. It was produced by Mark Bird and Nicholas Bird (of Waterbyrd Filmz, the production company that, as outlined above, also made Vivien Bullwinkel, Nurse TV and Australian Nurses). In this film, it is not primarily images of striking nurses and the words of striking nurses that tell the story, but the voice-over. The narrator (Patrick J. Bonello) positions the strike alongside other national and world events of 1986, ‘the year that changed the nursing profession in Australia forever’. In this film, the strike is framed as a pivotal one in the history of Australian nurses, and one that affected individual nurses deeply and transformed their profession irrevocably. There is a conscious discussion on the emotional effects of the 1986 strike – relationships broke up, people had no money, unionists could not feed their families, it was hard to keep going, families fought over the strike, picketing nurses recalled getting spat at, and there was even a death threat.
[Description adapted from Milner & Brigden, 2014, pp. 116; 118]