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Your views: on COVID confusion, casualisation and Centrelink

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Today, readers comment on the conundrum of a COVID breakout risk from an infected shopper who didn’t break rules, essential workers in multiple jobs, and JobKeeper shedding two million people.

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Commenting on the story: Spurrier apologises to man wrongly accused of breaching quarantine

OK, this man did nothing wrong, according to health authorities. So fine, let’s not blame him.

Yet he was in the community spreading the virus. Which is precisely what the guidelines are designed to prevent.

Doesn’t this imply that the guidelines – which we are told he followed – are problematic and should be reviewed?

Why aren’t the authorities being asked about this? – Jay Tolhurst

Thank god we are led by great health experts, they have done a remarkable job. We just need some great compliance experts to support them with positive reinforcement of compliance requirements and penalties for deliberate non-compliance.

This is not about blame, it is about protecting our community and stopping breaches of our health systems. We cannot blindly ignore how breaches occur. If we do, then we are bound to make the same mistakes again.

Rather than lecture the community about ‘blame’ based on the presumption that is what we are after, let’s focus on getting clear, accurate and consistent messaging to the public.

What I suspect the community is after is reinforcement that systems are being enhanced to prevent further breaches and that reasonable penalties are in place to deter those who may seek to disregard the instructions of health officials.

An immediate focus on these things may alleviate any community anxiety about Covid-19 and reinforce community trust in our holistic management of the pandemic. – Paul McKinnon

I very much hope that people don’t attack Professor Spurrier over the matter of the mistaken quarantine.

She has done a sterling job over the past months, keeping us informed, providing a calm centre, herding the many agitated cats of data and timeframes and potential panic.

There are many public servants working away behind the scenes around COVID-19 and it’s truly amazing that there haven’t been more mistakes. All credit to those who continue to show up, do their best, handle the public’s expectations with deftness and honesty, and weather the impertinences of the many (not all) media seeking the ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ headlines. – Nicola Stratford

Commenting on the story: Two million fewer workers on JobKeeper after rules tighten

Only after a month of thinking you were still covered by JobKeeper, only to be told that you weren’t.

We just have to go onto JobSeeker now, once you jump through the hoops and can register online. Losing six weeks support. No retrospectivity.  Way to save some money for the government. – Graeme Crook

Commenting on the story: Hasn’t read one, can’t access another: Minister in dark about medi-hotel reports

The question of people working across sites – and holding second jobs – was highlighted last week when it emerged two medi-hotel workers also had jobs at the Woodville Pizza Bar, now a significant hotspot in the cluster.”

This is a most important point – and in my opinion is not given as much emphasis as it should within the article – although to be fair this is true across the whole of Australia’s media landscape.

To put it in part relevance, we all know the story of “Typhoid Mary”, who was “blamed” for spreading the disease ‘purposefully’ by continuing to work as a cook in spite of knowing herself to be a “carrier”.

The fact is, the “authorities” simply expected for her to not work in her only occupation, and starve to death after becoming homeless. If you take away someone’s livelihood, you need to replace it as everyone has a right to “live a life”. “Typhoid Mary” is exonerated because she was not to blame – if the authorities had provided for her so that she could not infect people (and she still did) then she’d have been what she was blamed for – but the real blame lies at the feet of those who did nothing other than expect her to put their jobs ahead of her own life.

To tie this in, the “pizza worker” is essentially in the same boat. The workforce is so casualised these days that in order to pay the extraordinary rents demanded, increasing numbers of people need to work a number of jobs. The article does touch on this when it refers to “Victoria’s quarantine debacle specifically cited “personnel working at multiple sites among a range of concerns…” although this should have been especially applied to the aged care sector.  

There is no mention of the regulatory incompetence leading aged care workers into the necessity to work in a large number of establishments so that their employers can increase the profits they scam from their charges. For every essential worker who spreads the disease, the real blame lies with the incompetents (at best) who have caused such a situation to arise in the first place. I haven’t even touched on the lack of medical expertise/training now embedded into aged care facilities.

I put it that most of our “essential workers” in this country have suffered from such industrial ineptitude (at best) that far too many need to hold down two to four jobs just in order to make ends meet. In an event such as the current Covid crisis, that turns every one of them into a potential “super spreader” through no fault of their own.

If labour laws and regulations (and in Victoria’s aged care system this is the realm of the federal govt) did not force them to work so many jobs, the aged care and hotel quarantine situations would not have been such a concern – and systems would automatically be far more robust and effective. – Robert Alexander

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