A chance encounter inspired NSW Young Australian of the Year Daniel Nour to help the homeless

Daniel Nour recalled how using his medical skills to help a homeless person in London inspired him to start a non-profit to assist others in need.


Dr Daniel Nour, director and founder of Street Side Medics. Source: NSW Australia Day Address

Daniel Nour was leaving Waterloo station on London's Underground when he saw a crowd gathering.

Thinking it was a musician busking, he took off his earphones and walked towards the crowd, curious to see what was going on.

But as he got closer, he quickly realised it was a man having a seizure. At the time, Dr Nour was studying in the cardiology department at Imperial College in London.

“My training kicked in and I tried to create a safe space so as to prevent the gentleman from harming himself,” he said.

“Once the seizure ceased, I performed my ABCs and did all that I could to make sure that he was stable until the paramedics arrived.”

Daniel Nour founder of Street Side Medics
An image of members of the Street Side Medics team. Source: Instagram- Street Side Medics

When the man was finally taken to hospital, Dr Nour noticed several of the man’s friends were watching on and that the entire group was homeless.

One of the women thanked him and told him the man had suffered from regular seizures.

She said they hadn’t taken him to hospital as they felt neglected by the healthcare system.

“As someone who grew up admiring the healthcare system, who had just spent the last six years of their life dedicated to learning as much as possible … this really was a slap in my face,” Dr Nour said.

“This lady would rather live and suffer on the streets and self-manage her medical issues simply because it was either too difficult, hard to access or worse because she didn't trust that we as doctors cared enough or would take her seriously.”

The 26-year-old -  the 2022 NSW Young Australian of the Year - shared this story during this year’s New South Wales Australia Day Address, becoming the youngest person to give the annual speech.

Dr Nour described his life as echoing the “Australian dream”, with his parents migrating to Australia from Egypt in the 1970s. His father worked for the Department of Children's Services before starting his own office furniture business.

Unlike his brother Chris, Dr Nour said growing up he was “the headache” of the family, who was the class clown and often in trouble at school.

But he quickly grew out of this phase as he changed schools.

It was that moment on the underground that was one of the pivotal moments that would inspire Daniel to start up Street Side Medics once he returned from the United Kingdom.

Founded in 2020, the organisation is a not-for-profit, GP-led mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness or who are otherwise vulnerable.

Dr Nour, who also works as a junior medical doctor at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, now leads a team of 250 volunteers and 120 doctors as part of four clinics at Street Side Medics. 

Street Side Medics provides medical care and check-ups for patients without them needing to present identification or a Medicare card.

He said the barriers for homeless people in accessing medical care often include a lack of awareness, prohibitive costs, lack of transportation or documentation, as well as stigma and embarrassment.

“As a result of these barriers, many Australians who are experiencing homelessness have worse health outcomes than the average Australian,” he said.

“Many suffer illnesses in silence, many die of conditions which could have been treated and many avoid interventions that could have potentially improve their quality of life, or possibly even prolong their life.”

Daniel said he never started up Street Side Medics thinking of the thousands of people’s lives he could change. Instead, “at least just one” life made better would be enough.

“Let's support and encourage each other to be the very best version of ourselves and make Australia the wealthiest place in the world,” he said.

“The place where no matter how young, how naive, how far-fetched your idea is, you will be supported because the worst that will happen is a lesson. 

"Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”

4 min read
Published 19 January 2022 at 5:44pm
By Eden Gillespie
Source: SBS News