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OP-ED: A Different World Awaits Us, Post COVID-19

Thursday 16 April 2020, The Examiner

When the coronavirus crisis is finally over, and it will be, in six or twelve months, one of our biggest challenges will be making sure people have survived not just financially, but mentally. The toll this crisis is taking on our communities of all ages cannot be underestimated. We have had serious challenges in the past, but during my years on earth, I have never seen anything like it. The Vietnam conflict would be the closest with our young men and women going off to war and many people conscripted into the forces.

I can only imagine the stress, grief and worry that caused for people in not knowin

g if their loved ones would return from war, and if so, in what condition. In reality, while this is a different challenge, and not underestimating the dangers of this virus, I am grateful that my children simply need to be careful to avoid this virus and are not being sent off to a battlefield in a far-flung country. A

s is said, if you are not working, stay home and save lives.

There are numerous issues with COVID-19 affecting people in countless ways.

Financially it could take years for many businesses to recover, and some may never recover. Imagine having a business such as hospitality, and I can relate to this as my husband Bruce owned the Royal Oak Hotel for 42 years, having sold it in late 2018. While Winter has always been stressful for the hospitality industry, they have usually managed to come out the other side with Spring, Summer and interstate tourists adding welcome relief.

For these businesses now having enforced closure, it must be a nightmare they are hoping to wake up from. To help our businesses survive we must support them now, from online shopping to takeaway meals, as all provide a valuable service to our community plus much-needed-employment.

The jobseeker and jobkeeper payments will go some way to assist workers to meet several commitments, but there are still people that will fall through the gaps and this is not acceptable. If we are all in this together, no one should be left behind.

Let's not forget our farmers either. Where would we be without them? How often they struggle to make ends meet particularly with drought or floods, and we should look at some way of ensuring they are adequately equipped financially to weather the many storms as they often don't qualify for any assistance.

On the positive side, I am pleased to see that many of our homeless now have a roof over their heads with Winter fast approaching and maybe for some this will be the change required to alter their circumstances into the future. We should remember that above dark clouds, there is still blue sky.

During this disruptive period for year 12 students to assist those wishing to go to university, and to ensure they are not disadvantaged, interested students will be able to apply after the Easter holidays through an online university portal. UTAS will send the school principal a list of the students who have applied with a recommendation form for them to complete for each student and return along with the students' year 11 results. Offers will start to go out to students after UTAS receives the school's recommendations. UTAS will still work with the state government to ensure that students get an ATAR at the end of the year, but most students should have offers to UTAS before they receive their ATAR.

To a different learning, I have learnt a new way of contact with my family, two of whom live interstate. I have never been overly computer literate, but I have now discovered Facetime and WhatsApp. It's not that hard once you give it a go. How good is it to be able to speak with loved ones far away, or in these times of social distancing, a few streets away and see them.

I am not fond of the term "social distancing" and believe it should be more "spatial distancing" because people need social contact. we need to talk to people and while it's often easier to put off phoning "mum" or "dad", and it can be seen as a chore, make the effort. It is only when our parents are gone that we truly appreciate them.

Let's be clear about this, once the COVID-19 threat is over we will all need to support each other. It will be a different world. Hopefully a world where we appreciate our environment, the great place we live and the people around us. Let's look out for each other, be kind and considerate as together we will get through this.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC


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