Hidden impact of coronavirus shutdown

AS a kid growing up in the 1970s, my biggest concern was whether my frozen iceblock - known as a Sunny Boy - had a freebie inside.

The exaltation at seeing the yellow writing on the inside of the Sunny Boy or Glug, advising that you'd won a free one, was akin to seeing Dougie Walters smash Bob Willis for a six to score a hundred in a session.

How things have changed. Life was pretty simple back then. Be home before the lights go on, fish and chips Friday night and dad throwing us into the car on Saturday afternoons to head to the local TAB where he'd bet up on champion jockey George Moore.

As I took my little bloke to school a few times last week, with the radio on 4BC as always, all we heard was coronavirus.


Children are going to be home for prolonged periods during the pandemic. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Children are going to be home for prolonged periods during the pandemic. Picture: Sam Ruttyn


Naturally and intuitively, as the death toll soared in Italy and cases spiked in Queensland, he was inquisitive. How bad is this dad? Are a lot of people going to die? What's going to happen? Will we get time off school?

It got me thinking that the kids of today have a lot more on their plate than those of yesteryear, and the advent of the iPad is just one reason. Access to mainstream and social media is so much more pronounced.

The climate-change zealotry among our teenagers now seems so insignificant as we face the greatest known recent threat to mankind.

Kids are being bombarded with the health and financial implications of coronavirus and it is obvious that many are anxious and, in some cases, fearful.

It's not just kids. There are many Australians right now bunkered down, petrified at the prospect of leaving their homes as there's an escalation in positive cases.

It's not "just like the flu''. It is a killer pandemic, and while the chances are you will be OK if you get it, it's a game of Russian roulette - especially if you're over 70 or predisposed to another illness.

As the debate rages about whether schools should be locked down, there seems an inevitability that more disruption to education is likely. Most universities are now teaching their students online.

It may well mean your children will be home for an extended period. Many thousands of parents have already exercised their right to pull their children out of school.

Be ready. Learning remotely is now upon us. Working from home is very much upon us. This newspaper today was created and executed by a team of journalists working from home. As humans, we adapt.



So what can we do to keep our children as relaxed and chilled as possible?

This is what the Harvard School of Education recommends as you navigate your way through this crazy and unprecedented event.

It advises making developmentally informed decisions about what children need to know and understand in order to feel safe.

We need to focus on creating an environment where children can ask the questions that matter most to them and reassure children they are gong to be safe, and that you as their caregiver will also be taking steps to ensure that you stay safe.

We should encourage compassion for vulnerable people, and expanding your child's circle of concern and avoiding stigmatisation by emphasising that getting sick is part of being human and we all need to help each other to feel safe.

The reality with kids and coronavirus is that there are going to be special events like birthdays which can't be done in the coming months. They may be prevented from seeing their grandparents for long periods.

Self-isolation is now the norm. Last week, a parent at our school had to make the decision to cancel her son's ninth birthday because of the risk. That would not have been an easy conversation.



Kids don't rationalise like adults. As any parent will tell you, it's all about them.

So the impact of coronavirus is not an easy sell.

But rest assured, they are being bombarded with the implications of this killer virus and they will not be immune. Keep your kids safe at all costs. Making tough calls now will prove right in the long-term. Guiding them through this difficult time will be a challenge but getting it right today is non-negotiable.

Please stay safe and do the right thing. And for goodness sake, chill out at supermarkets. There's enough to go around.



IF LOCAL government elections go ahead on Saturday - and there's still a question mark on that - the race for City Hall in Brisbane will go right down to the wire.

LNP strategists are worried that with coronavirus, older people will be reluctant to leave their homes to vote.

They say more older people vote LNP than for Labor.

ALP strategists believe its lord mayoral candidate Patrick Condren is in with a real chance of topping the incumbent, Adrian Schrinner.


Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has been preoccupied with the coronavirus crisis ahead on the council elections.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has been preoccupied with the coronavirus crisis ahead on the council elections.


Schrinner's campaign has been hampered by the City Hall response to coronavirus. He's been working around the clock to ensure Brisbane is on the front foot if cases spike.

"It's virtually ended his campaigning but his belief is that this is the time real leaders stand up and that's why he's virtually sleeping in his office,'' an LNP insider said.



On the Gold Coast, incumbent Mayor Tom Tate will win again but the battle for divisions is shaping up, especially in vacant electorates like those of Dawn Crichlow (Southport) and Paul Taylor (Broadbeach).



Toowong resident Deanne Morrison continues her campaign for justice.

Ms Morrison has written to Queensland Health to complain about a so-called cover-up of her treatment at the hands of bureaucrats. After seven years, nothing.



Expect prosecutors to start dropping cases with little chance of success because of the closure of courts and no-jury trials.

The coronavirus will lead to a huge backlog of cases to be heard, so you can bet the powers that be will streamline the process.



Chief Justice Catherine Holmes raised eyebrows at the recent Queensland Law Society symposium when she used her address to talk about political appointments to the bench.

According to four lawyers who were at the event, the Chief Justice spoke of the High Court judges who gave us the recent controversial decision on indigenous criminals, Love and Thomas.

She said three of the four judges were appointed by the Coalition's George Brandis, which is true.

Is it appropriate for the state's top judicial officer to be pontificating on political appointments? I don't have a problem with it. Others certainly do, judging by the emails from lawyers that landed in my inbox. It was the High Court that overturned the Court of Appeal's decision to downgrade wife-murderer Gerard Baden-Clay's charge from murder to manslaughter. Holmes was president of the Court of Appeal for the Baden-Clay decision.


Originally published as Hidden impact of coronavirus shutdown