Where are the messages of hope and resilience?
13th August 2020

Credit:Illustration: Jim Palvidis

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SUPPORT DURING THE PANDEMIC

Where are the messages of hope and resilience?

Many of us are feeling the adverse effects of the prolonged lockdown and social isolation. So many things we have taken for granted have disappeared. There is uncertainty about the future as we anxiously wait for an effective vaccination. No wonder there are mental health issues. The usual disaster recovery efforts on which communities rely are simply not applicable in a pandemic – and internet solutions go only so far. The blame game and arguments about state and federal responsibilities add distress rather than clarity.

Some sociologists have suggested the media has replaced religion in repairing the social fabric, providing good news stories to balance the gloom about the terrible toll the virus takes and its relentless spread. Where are the messages of hope and resilience? Where are the voices of religious and spiritual leaders? Surely Dan Andrews and his team of health experts cannot be expected to do it all. Let us show more wisdom, compassion and creativity. We can do better.
Irene Renzenbrink, North Fitzroy

Support for the mental health of children and parents

Child mental health is greatly affected by parenting, yet Medicare does not fund services to help parents develop effective actions to support their children. Medicare rebates are only available for services provided to the person with the problem – i.e., if children are struggling with mental health problems, services must be provided directly to them.

Australia is a world leader in developing parenting programs that are effective in improving the mental health of children and parents. But a review by the Sax Institute, which is based in New South Wales, found that fewer than 10per cent of families in Australian schools have access to such programs.

Given the number of families experiencing unemployment, economic stress and social isolation due to the pandemic, the Commonwealth Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan sensibly recommends that children with mental distress have access to programs that meet the needs of them and their families. A recent review of Medicare rebates recommended they should include interventions with parents. We call on the federal government to enable these programs to be delivered by authorised practitioners as part of the Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative.
Professor Daryl Higgins, Australian Catholic University, Professor John Toumbourou, eakin University, Professor Jan Nicholson, La Trobe University

The suffering of the frail aged during the pandemic

My mother is nearly 98 and has spent the last 10 days in an isolation bed in a COVID-19 ward in hospital. She lives in an aged care home and was one of the 40 residents who tested positive. She was transferred late at night to hospital and, due to the restrictions, was unable to take any possessions, clothing, glasses or hearing aids. She is confused and terrified.

Born into the Depression, she lost her father when she was 10 and had to leave school at 13 to work. She saw family members go to war and recently had to attend the funerals and say her goodbyes to both of her beloved sons. No mother in their 90s should have to bear this much pain. And now this. She has been protected in lockdown in the aged care home since March and was unable to have my weekly visits. Older people are frail and vulnerable and highly at risk. Let us hope our efforts in stage four lockdown allow them to regain the peace, familiarity and respect they deserve.
Karen Meyer, South Melbourne

The high cost of utilities when you’re home 24/7

Now that stage four and all that comes with that – isolation, children at home 24 hours a day, loss of income – has been enforced upon us for six weeks, the government needs to support us in the area of our increased utility bills. Firstly, it is winter and it is long and cold. Secondly, we are forced to stay home all day and night, every day. How can the government not help with this? And the support should not be complicated by eligibility and criteria.
Andreia Brodsky, Caulfield North

THE FORUM

Our brave new world

Is anyone else curious about how the new order will look? Will schools initiate a platform for those students who have thrived from being home schooled? Will this become a mandatory option?
Will aged care facilities be required to have qualified nursing staff and dedicated treatment facilities onsite? Will we return to caring for our elderly in our homes as our predecessors did? Working from home has become a comfortable and practical option for many, so what will happen to office spaces and the car industry? This pandemic has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of our current practices.
Amanda Sundberg, Point Lonsdale

A world most disunited

Amidst the alarm bells that Western countries in particular are raising about Russia’s approval of a supposed coronavirus vaccine lies a sad reality. We are not working together. The pandemic has proven to a world so hell-bent on globalisation that it does not have the collective diplomatic strength to establish a functional international market.

Economic statelessness will remain a dream until vital products are depoliticised. So as we drive our economy and along with it, people’s lives further into the ground, we should stop and think. Why are we so concerned that ‘‘Russian hackers’’ may have stolen vaccine data from Western pharmaceutical companies when, if this research had been shared between countries from the very beginning, we would probably have a vaccine by now? Instead of collaborating efficiently, we are mired in the most political of pandemics.
Leonardo Balsamo, Blackburn South

Too early for blame game

The current wave of COVID-19 cases is distressing for all of us, and nerves are understandably frayed. However, the attacks on the Premier by sections of the public, the Opposition and the media are not helping.

Daniel Andrews is battling to lead Victoria out of this tragedy. His biggest mistake, it seems, was to trust a small group of Victorians to do their job diligently and sensibly and not act like selfish idiots. He made a misjudgment there. The rest of us would do well to work together to try to prevent this disaster from getting any worse, and leave the ‘‘blame game’’ until we have some semblance of control over the situation.
Cheryl Day, Beaumaris

Buck stops with Premier

Not so long ago we had the bank scandals – secret and illegal commissions, non-reporting of illegal transactions and various other misdemeanours. The end result was that some bank chairmen and CEOs were forced to resign. Why? Because the buck stopped with them. Despite the fact that they did not personally carry out these misdeeds, they were responsible for the actions, or lack thereof, of their underlings.

This is the way it should be. So why is the Victorian Premier still trying to hide from the truth and shift the blame to other people when it is he who is ultimately responsible for the enormous damage done to this state and hundreds of families?
Stan Thomson, Sandringham

Media’s feeding frenzy

It beggars belief that the media in particular are so intent on undermining Dan Andrews at the absolute worst time to do so. They smell blood like sharks.

Right now we need unity across the board, and that includes all political parties, state and federal. So if Andrews has stuffed up, who cares right now? Dig as much dirt as you can in a few months time because, right now, taking his authority out from under him is doing more harm to us than him by a long shot. I am astonished that those who are leading the pack have not worked that out.
Gary Davis, Mildura

Just answer the questions

I am a retired senior Victorian government officer who worked in the departments of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and Finance, and Police and Emergency Services. Daniel Andrews has contributed to the uncertainty about why the Australian Defence Force was not used in the hotel quarantine program.

On a number of occasions he told Victorians he had good relations with the Prime Minister and had been granted all requests he made for help from the commonwealth. In recent days he told us that he did not think the ADF was on offer for the hotel quarantine activity. These are clearly contradictory statements. He needs to tell Victoria how, when and why he concluded it was not on offer. A complete answer on this issue does not require an inquiry led by retired judge Jennifer Coate.
Allan Griffin, Carnegie

Dan’s to blame, of course

Will New Zealand’s media now demand that Jacinda Ardern resign because she has allowed the virus back in to her country? Surely she is to blame. Or perhaps Dan Andrews is to blame
Margaret Ludowyk, Brunswick

Our divided country

First, I am very glad to have Daniel Andrews who is trying his best. God preserve us from the current alternative. I am very concerned that we are following the present day American politics. We have government employees told not to speak to the inquiry, politicians avoiding questions, federal versus states along political lines and finger pointing by states. I do not care what went wrong. This is not the time for blame games. Find out what did not work. Work out how to do things differently. And keep trying again. Because this virus is not going away.
James Guthrie, Hawthorn

Information voters need

The state government’s ban on letter-boxing of local council candidates’ election material under Stage 4 restrictions makes no sense. Everyone is allowed a daily, one-hour walk within five kilometres of home. Genuine local candidates should live in the ward for which they are standing and should have a number of local supporters who can legitimately spend their hour’s exercise walking designated streets with a handful of flyers. The upshot of the ban will be to disadvantage candidates who cannot afford Australia Post’s costs and residents who rely on this means of communication for election information.
Carlota Quinlan, Eltham

No respite for hot spots

I agree with Ben Groundwater – ‘‘Answer lies with you, the traveller’’ (Comment, 13/8). However, having experienced Kyoto as something resembling the MCG on Grand Final day, I believe the tourist dollar is actively encouraged by these ‘‘hot spots’’ and their governments.

Also, take a look at the media with their travel guides promoting the latest ‘‘inky dinky spot’’ they have just found that is relatively free of mass tourism. This only ensures an A380 full of tourists will arrive very soon. And try to expect responsibility from people such as the ‘‘flip flops’’ who fly to the snow to escape the lockdown. Unfortunately once borders are opened, the tourist industry will gear up to seduce the weary into travel and, of course, the world’s hotspots will be the target.
Bob Whiteside, North Warrandyte

Call that a vacation?

Ouch, Ben Groundwater. I would be so stressed attempting to put into practice all your suggestions to become a ‘‘better’’ traveller that I would need a holiday from my holiday.
Paul Cook, Coburg

What’s not to love?

Whether it is cheating or not (Comment, 13/8) is beside the point. My new e-trike has changed my life. It is a joy and a clean mode of transportation. It is a win-win for all.
Caroline Morgan, Mordialloc

Our basic human rights

What a great article on aged care by Prateek Bandopadhayay (Comment, 12/8). It summed up the shocking way our elderly are often treated, something many of us were not familiar with. To think that residents apparently lose many basic human rights merely because they have moved house is disgraceful. Unable to see a doctor when they want to, have access to hospital care when required, or even to communicate with their family is not what we might expect in a democratic society. Shame on the authorities responsible. How much longer will we tolerate this?
John van Galen, Lovely Banks

Call off the attack dogs

Before the Republicans start trying to destroy the credibility of Senator Kamala Harris, the running mate of Joe Biden, they should remember how they chose Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate in 2008. Now she was a stable genius.
Mary Mandanici, West Preston

Pressure on universities

University students who fail half their subjects in their first year stand to lose access to government subsidies and loans (The Age, 13/8). I would have thought that the universities themselves, after applying careful criteria about why these students fail so early in the piece, would terminate their enrolments rather than continue to collect their fees. Maybe universities’ dependence on fees, and their revenue constraints, are why they keep these students enrolled in their faculties?
Henk van Leeuwen, Elwood

Field Marshall Monash

A justifiable precedent has been set with the Prime Minister recommending that Australian war hero Edward ‘‘Teddy’’ Sheean be given a posthumous Victoria Cross. Next there should be a field marshal baton for General Sir John Monash.
Barry Abley, Newtown

Taking their chances

In recent weeks I have noticed a trend for joggers to run on the road, presumably in an attempt to social distance themselves from other pedestrians. However, I would rather social distance from a fast-moving car than the odd person walking on the footpath.
Martin Bando, Bentleigh

Please, enough already

Am I the only one who is sick to death hearing about Essendon Football Club player Joe Daniher
David Hamilton, Hampton

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

The US

Trump on Mount Rushmore (11/8)? When you’ve got a full house of court cards, the only sensible bid is no Trumps.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

If Trump wants his face on Mount Rushmore, why doesn’t he just sign an executive order?
David Price, Camberwell

It’s pleasing Biden has chosen his running mate on talent, not tokenism.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Coronavirus

O’Brien calls for Andrews’ resignation. Now? I don’t think much of your timing, Michael.
Jenny Stewart, Kensington

Andrews says the ADF didn’t offer to support Victoria’s troubled quarantine scheme. I don’t believe him.
Hans Jakowenko, Bendigo

O’Brien blames the state government for COVID-19 deaths. When will he attack the federal Liberals for aged care deaths?
Alex McKnight, Ashburton

Daniel Andrews, the Aussie Trump (‘‘fake news’’) or Sergeant Schultz (‘‘I know nothing’’).
Geoff Parkes, Warranwood

The best Michael O’Brien can come up with is that Andrews should resign. What about some positive, even helpful comments?
Judith Dunn, Bentleigh East

Watch and learn, Premier. Ardern takes quick, decisive action.
Kim Bessant, Footscray

I missed the exemption for wearing a mask when talking on a mobile.
Heather Barker, Albert Park

Bunnings stores open to tradies only. It only sells masks, does it?
Ian Hill, Blackburn South

Furthermore

Port Adelaide and Brisbane in the grand final? Who cares where they play?
Wasyl Abrat, Mornington

Well said re mass tourism, Ben Groundwater (13/8). Spot on.
Trish O’Brien, Woodend

First-year university students who fail half their subjects should consider a career in politics.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda

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