– August 20, 2020
melbourne

The Seekers’ much-loved chorus lyrics for the iconic song ‘I am Australian’ are: 

“We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian.”

This song symbolises a nation whose people, history, culture and landscape are deeply intertwined. It is a song that celebrates both Australia’s diversity and its unity.  

Sadly, this pandemic has made a mockery of our inclusive spirit. We are not all Australians anymore. We are Queenslanders, West and South Australians, New South Welshmen, Victorians, Tasmanians and Territorians, much like before Federation, 120 years ago. We shut and open our borders at a whim keeping out the ‘others,’ at the expense of families, livelihoods and our mental and physical health. Our aspirations of creating a truly cohesive, healthy and happy nation are being placed in jeopardy and the ‘lucky country’ is disappearing before our very eyes. 

We are relentlessly subjected to fear-mongering spin and those who dare to voice an opinion questioning the existing narrative are considered pariahs. Our worries about what’s occurring to the fabric of the community are not represented in the mainstream media or through our leaders. Yet underneath our apparent compliance with all the rules, edicts and restrictions there is a growing undercurrent of unrest, grief and anger coming from many quarters.  

Up until very recently the mental health consequences of the lockdown have been largely ignored. Another A$100 million here or there for unspecified mental health support is not going to solve the tsunami of mental illness and ‘deaths of despair’ that are already occurring through suicide, self-harm, depression, trauma, illness, substance abuse and domestic violence caused by the dramatic and sudden changes to our lifestyle and livelihood. These ‘deaths of despair’ are predicted to far outnumber the deaths from the coronavirus. 

We are losing our freedom, civil and human rights, jobs, businesses and futures. Under Victoria’s Declarations of Disaster and Emergency almost all of our freedoms have been eroded. Police can walk into any person’s home without a warrant, seize any property, act in any way they want and ignore the legislative protections that we have always relied on. 

Our community faces the real threat of a widening gulf between rich and poor, further discrimination on race, gender and age, and a worst-case scenario of social unrest because there is no end in sight and people are losing hope. 

 There are the devastating stories of those locked in tiny apartments with their children, resulting in countless cases of domestic violence. Or the desperation expressed by this single mother:

“I am self-employed and a sole parent. This whole thing has made me feel so vulnerable and, to be honest, scared. I am unable to work due to the new rules and have been remote schooling my son. I am generally a positive happy person but am finding myself in despair wondering if and when we can all get back to actually just living our lives. Where has our freedom to have a voice and choice gone if we don’t stand and take it back?  I feel that we as Victorians will be under a dictatorship that will destroy way more lives than COVID-19.”

Politicians and the media spend thousands of words analysing the significance of 278 new COVID-19 cases in Victoria one day versus 372 new cases the next, when in the midst of all this the big picture is lost.

This year there have been a total of 23,035 coronavirus cases in Australia and 421 deaths (with the large majority of those aged 70+). In 2019 there were 310,000 influenza cases in Australia and 900 influenza-linked deaths. Yet everybody continued to go about their daily lives as normal and there was never a whisper of a State of Disaster, let alone lockdowns and border closures.  These figures tell their own story and indicate that the harsh so-called ‘protective measures’ undertaken by the authorities are incredibly destructive. 

All lives matter and the welfare of our country as a whole is paramount. Every aspect of our livelihood and our unique way of life is at stake. Do we really want to physically isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and bring back the ‘tyranny of distance’ which so long inhibited the development of Australia?

It is distressing to stand by and witness the fragmentation of our beautiful country and everything we have strived for. Our education, tourism, arts, entertainment, small business, hospitality industries and entrepreneurs will never recover if we don’t open up Australia. A national suicide is taking place as we watch and wait. 

We all empathise with the highly exposed health industry workers. Yet, we are seeing the future of millions of Australians placed into the hands of well-paid politicians and medical experts who have scant, if any, understanding of the workings of economic and social systems. How can they empathise with people whose entire life’s work has been devoted to building a sustainable business that supports their family, community and ultimately the nation?

Through public health education we can protect the vulnerable and strengthen our immune systems. So why stop all human interaction, destroy livelihoods and ultimately paralyse the nation?

Wake up Australia, we are being brainwashed – it’s time to stand up and say enough is enough! We have tried numerous mitigation measures, but the time has come to acknowledge that we don’t know the answers and that we will all need to learn to live with the virus, because the so-called ‘cures’ (lockdowns, curfews, border closures etc.) are destroying us as individuals and our country as a whole.

Our leadership must acknowledge the suffering of countless thousands of Australian citizens affected by measures taken to ‘defeat’ the virus. We need a collective plan that restores our civil and human rights and returns us to a liveable, albeit new normality. If we ever want to sing that inspiring Seekers song together again, then it’s time for all Australians to start thinking and acting collectively for the good of us all and for the future of this ‘lucky country.’

Tania de Jong

Tania de Jong

Tania de Jong is an Australian soprano, social entrepreneur, business woman, global motivational speaker and event producer. Tania is the Founder of Creative Innovation Global, Creative Universe, Creativity Australia, Dimension5, Music Theatre Australia, Pot-Pourri, The Song Room and co-founder of Mind Medicine Australia.

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