Wanted: Communication skills, social responsibility, effective leadership

How to mitigate a covid crisis

In Sydney we breathe a sigh of relief, having avoided a coronavirus second wave. Melbourne has not been so lucky. And at this stage of the pandemic’s development, “lucky” is not an entirely inappropriate word. Sure, the incompetence, blame shifting and wilful ignorance of leaders from Donald Trump to Narendra Modi, Boris Johnson to Jair Bolsonaro, has exacerbated upheaval in the countries of the citizens they supposedly represent.

A number of factors may have lessened the pandemic’s impact on Australia compared to other countries, for now, but as the fresh wave on infections in Melbourne demonstrates, we in Sydney are only a cough away from another round of strict lockdown measures. Kurt Vall warns of the dangers of complacency and the need for leadership in these times of uncertainty.

I’m seeing a lot of commentary on what’s going on in Melbourne from people who don’t live here and possibly never have. It’s always very easy from the outside to either overplay or underplay the situation. Things might not look that bad here at the moment, and on one level they’re not. As I like to remind myself, no one is dropping bombs on us.

But for those of us living through this, it is actually very frightening. The numbers of cases increase and the recalcitrance of many in the community to do the right thing in terms of social distancing and mask wearing remains problematically high. 

On top of this, there is no clear strategy being adopted by the government for how we will get out of this mess. The government has been playing this by ear right from the beginning, reacting to the numbers as they come out each day and week.

Essential Requirements: A Clear Strategy

A clear strategy would reduce uncertainty and reassure the community that the government is effectively managing the crisis. It would also provide a yardstick for how well the measures that are being implemented are working and what might need to be changed. It would facilitate changes being made in ways that are measured, evidence-based and avoid the confusion that we have seen so far with almost constant chopping and changing of restrictions.

As a result, we don’t know how long lockdowns and curfews are going to go for, and we have absolutely no sense of what might come next. The government is asking people to do the right thing, and attempting to coerce compliance. 

But they are not effectively communicating with us.

And they are not getting the situation under control at this time. Given how far we are into this crisis, it is far from clear that the government has the fundamental ability to get the situation under control. This uncertainty is adding to the significant anxieties about the virus itself, especially as more evidence emerges of its impacts. 

Isolation is not usually a friend to mental or physical wellbeing, especially when the ability to exercise in open air is so heavily restricted.

Yes, it is much worse in other places and for many other people. But we are not in other places and we are not other people. So please, let’s not assume that we understand what other people are going through, or how bad or not bad it might be for them. Instead, we should focus on understanding and supporting each other so we can get through this together.

Take care and stay safe friends. Peace and love to you all.


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