After nearly eight weeks, we slowly roll towards the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, eagerly anticipating the prospect of gradually relaxed restrictions.
Those people newly unemployed face a critical juncture in their lives: a loss of financial security, structure and purpose, however, as they emerge from lockdown, they may also begin to rally some sense of possibility – of hope.
Cultural and media organisations have fallen over themselves to provide connection and joy and to acknowledge our struggles and the toll this lockdown may take on our wellbeing.
Our mental health and physical health have gained a high profile in the messages of the media, health professionals and politicians alike.
The often negative impact on our mental and physical health during this pandemic lockdown is legitimised by research and experts.
We know that people suffer and deteriorate if kept from connection with loved ones and others.
We deteriorate if denied meaningful activity and our security is threatened, or information about our security is withheld.
Our politicians and those “in charge” are judged on how well they arrange for our protection and inform us in times of fire, flood and pestilence.
Our good health is known to depend on the timely and safe cessation of the restrictions imposed on our freedoms and choices.
Although we have withdrawn into our shells in order to remain safe, we rest largely secure in the knowledge that a dignified and meaningful, safe, connected life is the goal of our elected government.
All non-Indigenous Australians have travelled from elsewhere for a better, safer life here and we hang on relentlessly to this life we have claimed.
How is it then that we can vote in political parties that we legitimate to build detention centres and arrange offshore “processing centres”? How is it then that we can vote in politicians who assign interminable, impotent (no financial, educational or medical entitlements) visas which we know will force women, children and men into endless, soul-destroying mental and physical health, often life-destroying, lockdowns?
All without the supports we currently require and celebrate, without access to culture, or friends, without a sense of place – without hope?
How are asylum seekers different from us? How can we in good conscience vote in political parties who espouse the permanent lockdown of people who, just like our recent relatives, came here for safety and a life worth living?
How can we justify that they live in semi or permanent lockdown when we struggle with weeks?
How are they different from us?
Karen Chugg, Inverloch.