How will Australia look back at its COVID-19 restrictions in defining our cultural landscape?

What will pandemic response teach us in retrospect?

Opinion
CWA national president Tanya Cameron ponders how Australians are coping with the ongoing challenges of lives being disrupted, distances between families and businesses being pushed to the limit.

CWA national president Tanya Cameron ponders how Australians are coping with the ongoing challenges of lives being disrupted, distances between families and businesses being pushed to the limit.

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CWA president Tanya Cameron considers how hindsight will judge the nation's response to COVID-19.

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During the years preceding Federation in 1901 there was much debate and plenty of posturing.

But, in the end, compromise, rational thought and a sense of national pride led us to become one country.

The National Museum of Australia records defining moments of history and notes Federation was a huge achievement and created a sense of independence for Australians, but that "...the desire for independence does not seem to have been the main driver of the Federation movement - it was more a desire for unification".

COVID-19 and preceding events will no doubt be recorded as defining moments in Australia's history. But I wonder whether this will be documented as significant for creating positive or negative changes to our political, economic and cultural landscape.

My research revealed some surprising similarities between the 1919 Spanish Flu and the COVID-19 pandemic - in the way state and federal governments responded and the subsequent political fallout.

A national meeting was held, agreements made, and responsibilities accepted. But in a few months, tensions flared, borders closed and the political blame game started.

Earlier this year, when the potential enormity of the impacts of COVID-19 started to sink-in, our leaders finally stepped-up.

The National Cabinet spoke with one voice, necessary amendments to legislation were passed almost overnight, funds were distributed and faint glimmers of collaboration and true leadership were spotted.

At the community level, we had already been subjected to history-making natural disasters and our instincts were heightened to protection mode.

The horrors of prolonged drought, devastating floods and life-shattering fires - all relayed in real time on our screens - had us on the edge of our seats, wondering when it would end and what we could do to assist.

Enter compassion, camaraderie, understanding, respect, thoughtfulness and altruism. Millions of dollars were raised, resources deployed and exhausted volunteers returned day after day.

We took to social media to support each other - from home schooling tips to sharing recipes, connecting with friends and family and asking the important question R U OK?

We discovered the importance of being self-sufficient and new ways of working and doing business.

For a brief moment in time, it seemed we had a shared goal and purpose. After all, we were all in this together.

Enter human nature and loss of freedom.

Most were prepared to change and put up with a bit of inconvenience - for a time.

Lockdowns and border closures served their purpose to keep us safe and act as a 'pause button' while we reset our ways of thinking and doing.

But has it now gone too far? We have found ourselves in situations we never thought possible in a so-called 'united' country.

So many lives have been disrupted, families kept apart, business and industry pushed to the limit - no wonder we are reacting and opinion is divided.

The freedoms we took for granted have become - at the least - a paper-trail nightmare and, at worst, impossible. Have we come full circle?

The story How will Australia look back at its COVID-19 restrictions in defining our cultural landscape? first appeared on Stock & Land.

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