“Is this real?” It’s one of the first questions Australians are asked when they share videos or news stories on social media about our state and federal government’s response to Covid-19.
To many outsiders, the footage out of Australia flooding our social feeds appears more like a scene from a dystopian Hollywood flick than the laid-back land down under that has often be regarded as one of the best places in the world to live.
There’s little wonder the nation attracted a record of more than 9 million tourists between July 2018 and June 2019. But following the events of 2020-2021, it might be safe to assume Australia has been thoroughly crossed off many a foreigner’s travel list.
Australia’s Insanely Strict Lockdown Requirements
Recently, Melbourne, which boasts of being “one of the world’s most liveable cities,” set a record for the longest lockdown endured worldwide. On September 23, the city with a population of over 5 million people hit 235 days in lockdown – that’s eight whole months essentially under house arrest, unless you’re emerging for the few arbitrary reasons the government has deemed “essential.”
But it’s not just records Australia is breaking with their Covid response. We might also argue that the heavy-handed measures are breaking the nation, breaking the people, breaking the economy, and breaking the vital relationship between the public and the police who are enforcing the state government’s health mandates. And what’s worse, there’s just no end in sight.
Over the past 18 months, not only have Australians had to endure indefinite home detention, but some parts have been placed under curfew orders. There have been extensive and tight movement restrictions, preventing citizens from venturing more than 5km from their primary place of residence, and requiring civilians to apply for paper permits to travel outside of their local government areas. Borders have been closed. Masks have been made mandatory, inside and outside. It’s now compulsory for citizens to use the state’s QR code check-in system for them to keep a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve been with.
Non-compliance has, at times, been met with what many would regard as excessive force. Which made it all the more disturbing when hundreds of Australian Defence Force military personnel were called in by state police to “help crack down on Covid-19 compliance.” Perhaps worst of all, we’re now seeing yesterday’s “Covid heroes” being threatened with unemployment if they fail to take a Covid vaccine. Aged care workers, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police, schoolteachers, and health care workers have been hit with a “no jab, no job” mandate, despite the fact that most of these industries are facing a nationwide staff shortage.
Australia’s Mental Health Crisis
Naturally, such excessive measures have triggered another crisis, often unspoken, namely the disturbing impact on Australians’ mental health, particularly among young people. The number of suicide and self-harming teens presenting to emergency departments in one state has increased by almost half since the beginning of the pandemic. According to reports, suicidal teens are flooding state emergency departments with the “number of 12-17 year old presenting to ED with self-harm or suicidal ideation increasing by 47% in the year to July 2021 compared to 2019.”
The Kids Helpline revealed children as young as five were seeking help from self-harm and suicidal concerns.
It was only in June this year that data from the Kids Helpline revealed children as young as five were seeking help from self-harm and suicidal concerns amid excessive lockdown measures. The Financial Review reported at the time that, “Emergency interventions to protect young people in Victoria from suicide and child abuse have skyrocketed by 184% over the past 6 months, as the state grapples with the mental health consequences of repeated Covid-19 lockdowns.”
We Don’t Need To Be This Afraid of Covid
Ok, sure – but there’s a virus on the loose in Australia too, right? For the sake of perspective, and with all of this in mind, let’s note that the average age of death with Covid in Australia is approximately 85 to 86 years, with an overall fatality rate of about 1.6%. That’s three to four years above the nation’s average life expectancy. Hence, of Australia’s 1,307 deaths with Covid (at the time of writing), more than 700 occurred in aged care facilities.
Furthermore, most people in Australia diagnosed with the virus are under 50 years of age, making up more than 75% of cases. The vast majority of which have not required hospitalization or clinical intervention. The chances of recovery from Covid for individuals under 50 is over 99%, with hospitalization rates of about 7.2%.
In August, NSW Health admitted many of Australia’s then 993 Covid casualties died from something else.
Understandably, the Australian public is slowly, very slowly, growing restless as much of the narrative we’ve been fed over the past year and a half has crumbled in light of an increasing understanding of what we’re dealing with. Even more so after NSW Health, in August, admitted many of Australia’s then 993 Covid casualties died from something else or had even recovered from the virus. There seem to be more protests opposing mandates and with them an increasing number of Australians are growing sympathetic and even supportive of their resistance.
It's been said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Those of us living through this nightmare in Australia are understanding these words more than ever. They say that big government makes small citizens, and if you ever need proof of that look no further than the land of the “young” and, so-called, “free.”
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