opinion

OPINION: Australia isn't perfect. But this week, it really feels like the lucky country.

This weekend we can’t go the pub, the beach, the movies, or out for dinner.

We can’t catch up with our friends, or see our grandparents, or even lay in the park and read a book.

This week thousands more Australians lost their jobs, with an estimated one million people out of work.

Anxiety, fear, depression, stress and loneliness are reaching levels many of us have never experienced in our lifetimes. It’s made even more painful by the knowledge that those we love are struggling, too.

And yet this week, I truly feel like I am living in the “lucky country.” The country that has so far managed to evade the extreme impact COVID-19 has had on places like the UK and the US. The country that looks after its people. The country that has – to some extent – slowed the growth of a virus that has skyrocketed elsewhere.

WATCH: Pandemic leave has been announced for Australian workers. Post continues after video.

Video by Australian Government

The statistics coming out of our hospitals are scary.

26 Australians have died as a result of COVID-19, and more than 5000 people have contracted the virus.

But the statistics coming out of Europe, America and the UK are scarier.

2,900 deaths in the UK, 6,000 deaths in the USA, 10,000 deaths in Spain, 13,900 deaths in Italy.

The current COVID-19 figures.

Our doctors and nurses aren’t making heartbreaking decisions like their Italian counterparts about who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t.

That’s not to say we won’t get there – we might. But this week has shown us what we can do as a nation when we work together to flatten the coronavirus curve to ensure we don’t get there.

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We’ve seen the rate of infection drop from 25-30 per cent to nine per cent thanks to social distancing and we’ve seen the majority of Australians cop the hard new rules on the chin, retreating into their homes and giving up everything that makes life normal in the process.

Yes it took a while, and there were full beaches in NSW and Victoria just a few weeks ago while Aussies –  used to every freedom in the world – struggled with the restrictive new rules.

But we’re adapting, we’re learning, and it’s working.

Coronavirus Australia update Bondi
Bondi Beach was filled with people ignoring social distancing rules just a few weeks ago. Image: Getty.

The Morrison government may have done a lot wrong in recent months and weeks, but this week, for many, they've also done a lot right.

As of this coming Sunday, childcare will be free for those who need to continue working, like nurses and teachers who are sacrificing their own health out in the community.

The Job Seeker and Job Keeper stimulus packages, worth $24 billion and $130 billion, are helping those who've lost work, and those who don't want to have to let employees go.

They're not perfect.

Nothing will be perfect right now during a time of absolute crisis. But there are a great number of Australians who are breathing a sigh of relief about their futures this weekend as a result of our government's action.

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The government this week made a deal with the private healthcare sector, and now we have 34,000 more hospital beds and 105,000 more staff ready and willing to help us in our fight against coronavirus.

hospital corridor
Our government has this week made significant decisions to keep our country afloat during this pandemic. Image: Getty.

In the last two weeks, Scott Morrison's government has spent $200 billion readying our country to get through this crisis, and we're expecting more help in the form of rental relief to come.

Yes, there may be serious consequences down the track. Yes, there are still professions working (teachers, hairdressers, retail) who are begging the government to shut them down. No, we don't have nearly enough funding for the domestic violence crisis social isolation is predicted to cause.

It's not perfect.

But in our time of need, our government is digging deep into their coffers and plugging big gaping holes in our economy as they bring in more and more vital restrictions in a frantic bid to stop the spread.

In our time of crisis, we've seen real leaders of strength and calm in NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, WA Australian Medical Association President Andrew Miller, the ABC's Dr Norman Swan, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, to name a few.

They're being honest with us. They're being frank with us.

Australians Told To Stay Home As Restrictions Increase In Response To Coronavirus Crisis
Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian addresses the media as she does every morning. Image: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.
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Sure, there's been mistakes. Sometimes big ones.

Like the NSW government letting the Ruby Princess cruise dock in Sydney without properly screening its passengers. Like the panic buying that stripped our shelves of toilet paper and pasta leaving our vulnerable even more vulnerable. And like the government's failure to take the advice of doctors asking them to close our borders earlier.

But it was never going to be perfect.

It's a pandemic - it's unprecedented. There are going to be missteps, none of us have ever done this before.

But as we all prepare for another weekend of bunkering down in our homes to do our part for the eradication of this insidious virus in our country - I feel proud to be Australian.

We are luckier than so many right now.

Feature image: Getty Images.

- With AAP.

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.
To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

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