Sunglasses to protect my eyes from pepper spray, trench coat to hide my microphone, and a helmet to protect my head from flares.
A face mask isn’t the only covering I need as a news reporter in Melbourne, Australia
Isn’t it funny how Melbourne was voted top 10 safest city in the world on Sunday.
Two days later, I’ve never felt more scared to be at work.
I could feel thousands of eyes glare towards me as I pulled my microphone out, to show our global audience what it feels like to be in the city experiencing the longest lockdown in the world.
To my left, hundreds of the Victoria’s top authorities. Riot police were sent to control the protesters, who first gathered outside the CFMEU—Australia’s main trade union headquarters.
To my right, hundreds of protesters shouting anti-vaccination messages.
And I was standing in the centre—fuelled by adrenalin, waiting for movement from either side.
I was scared of the unknown, standing in the middle of passionate Melburnians who were chanting for their freedom from months of stay at home orders
Thousands of construction workers in metropolitan Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria were stood down after the state government shutdown was announced last night.
Some held a banner reading “freedom”, while others chanted “f*** the jab”.
I feel their anger, I too want to live a life free of government mandated restrictions and emerge from lockdown in Melbourne—a grim reality we’ve lived for too long.
I understand that I’m extremely privileged to be classified as an essential worker. I attend my shifts at the newsroom and can rely on a steady income.
For many, we don’t know what it’s like to be at breaking point. There were protestors in the CBD today who have been out of work for months, struggling to put food on the table and just want their voices heard—because that’s all they have left.
In a shared sense of frustration and anger, some protestors turned violent, with some participants throwing objects, including bottles, at police.
It’s my job to inform people. Rolling coverage on the scene is authenticity
Yet I was shoved and screamed at by angry protestors for standing outside Queen Victoria Market with a microphone.
This is a similar experience for many who work in media.
For giving protestors a voice. For reporting fairly and accurately.
Some argue it’s media who “paint a bad picture” or “write a bad narrative” – but how can you make up the narrative of journalists getting attacked whilst on the job – who are there on scene to hear, report and share their opinions, feelings, and actions.
One identified and unmasked woman approached me so close to the point of touching noses.
“You are FAKE NEWS” she spat into my face. I felt like a targeted villain in a sea of vigilantes
Standing alongside other Australian media outlets, I experienced the first hand hate and disgust towards reporters.
My heart was pounding a million miles a second. I gripped my umbrella tight, in case a protestor launched on me.
I was glad I was wearing a long sleeve jacket, shielding my microphone when off camera to avoid being a target.
A fellow reporter told me to keep sunglasses on my head to use for eye protection from pepper spray and flares.
Many female reporters stayed close to cameramen, as another layer of protection.
We stayed close behind police, who were getting many more profanities sprayed at them. I’m sure they were just as anxious to the unfolding events playing out before our eyes as we were.
Running to keep up with protestors barging through the streets of the City of Melbourne, I witnessed Channel 7 reporter Paul Dowsley get physically attacked.
A protestor approached his camerman and shook him to the ground.
Shortly later, Dowsley had a can of drink thrown at the back of his head while he was presenting live on camera.
“I’ve been grabbed around the neck today, I’ve had urine tipped on me, and now I’ve had a can of energy drink thrown on me,” he said.
Dowsley’s bleeding head was shown on camera. This shakes me. It actually makes me sick to my stomach.
If you can protest against a jab, no matter what industry you’re in, you’re privileged
I’m a fully vaccinated young adult, but it was stressful being amongst unmasked anti-vaxxers parading their hatred towards the Covid-19 vaccination.
Several protesters identified themselves as construction workers and CFMEU members who opposed mandatory vaccinations.
I understand the hesitation towards receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, but it’s an answer to being at work safe and having a ‘normal’ life beyond these life shattering lockdowns.
Just metres down the road from protestors chanting against the effectiveness of COVID vaccines, frontline health workers are treating Covid-19 patients on ventilators in the intensive care unit at the state’s best hospitals.
My dad is frequently in and out of Royal Melbourne Hospital, and visitors are currently banned.
He has a rare airways disease as a result of cancer, and I’m vaccinated to protect him.
It’s one thing seeing images of people the government calls “[people of] appalling behaviour on site and on our streets” but being in the centre of them, I see the pain in their eyes.
They’ve simply had enough, and it’s not just tradespeople. People of all professions joined the protest to support construction workers today and these scenes will only continue to make headlines.
Their emotions were raw. Their message was clear.
And as I write my own headlines and tell their stories. I just wish to be safe and respected.
Aussie comedian on viral climate billboard crusade | ticker VIEWS
Australian comedian is on a climate crusade to hold world leader’s accountable, one billboard at a time
Dan Ilic is no stranger to the publics attention. He is a renowned presenter, comedian, and filmmaker, and podcast guru. Ilic is passionate about tackling climate change and using his voice and platform to hold Governments to account.
In October, Ilic managed to book the biggest electronic billboard in Times Square, New York City. The aim of the campaign was to humiliate the Australian Government and its climate change perspectives.
Ilic raised money from over 2000 people to fund the billboard campaign in one of the busiest places in the world. At the cost of $16,000 for ten minutes on screen, the sign wasn’t cheap, but it was effective.
The vocal billboards captured the attention of the world and did not hold back on their messaging. This campaign followed weeks of debate over Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison attending the COP26 Glasgow climate meeting.
Morrison held off on confirming his attendance at the critical meet until the last moment, announcing on October 15 that he would be going. Ilic suggests it may have been the billboards that convinced the Prime Minister to book his flight to Glasgow.
COP26 Climate Summit
World leaders are preparing to convene in Glasgow at the historical COP26 climate summit. Australia has been divided on what targets it will be taking to the meeting. Its Nationals Party continued to hold off on an agreement but has agreed to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Do we give them a lollipop or take them to Disneyland, I don’t think you should get any awards for doing the bare minimum.”
Dan Ilic- Comedian, Presenter, Podcast Host
COP26 has been deemed one of the most critical climate meets of all time. The world will be watching on as world leaders make their ambitions and targets to cut their emissions.
All of the science says we’re experiencing climate change and if the world doesn’t act now it will be too late.
“The real issue is, what’s going to be our 2030 target?”
Scott Hamilton, energy expert & Ticker Climate co-host
After incredible attention and success with the Times Square billboard campaign, Ilic has his eyes set on other key areas to gain traction. There will be a billboard at the front of Barnaby Joyce’s office of a burning Kangaroo and one near the seat of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
“It’ll say something like… Hey, it’s time to buy a standing desk because you’re about to lose your seat.”
Dan Ilic- Comedian, Presenter, Podcast Host
Biden channels his inner Gough | ticker VIEWS
As Joe Biden prepares to face his most momentous week as president, with his entire legislative agenda on the line in Congress over the next few days, Biden is channeling his inner Gough Whitlam, who famously said:
“You’ve got to crash through or you have got to crash.”
Whitlam was more charismatic, more tumultuous in bearing and outlook, more larger than life than Biden.
But not more of a dreamer of what a good government should stand for. The pillars of Whitlam’s policy agenda – health care, education, labour rights, human rights, anti-racism, gender equity, fairer taxes – are the same as what Biden is championing in his “Care Economy” program.
The president has been clear: he demands action now
He wants to take his climate policies to Glasgow to show the world that the United States is a leader in moving the planet to net zero by 2050 – and a lot more progress before 2030.
And he wants to tell the American people that more help on the issues they care about every day – good jobs at good wages, education for their children and removing the wolf of poverty from their doors, expanded access to affordable health care, rebuilding roads and digital highways – is about to arrive.
Republicans are unalterably opposed and are resisting the Biden program with full political force.
The Democratic margin in the House is three votes. There is no margin in the Senate; all 50 Democrats, plus the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, are essential. This is why Biden said in his CNN Town Hall last week that, in the 100-member Senate:
“Every one is a president. Every single one. So you gotta work something out.”
That’s what Biden is doing. He is in the late stages of reaching an agreement with his Democrats in both chambers. He has had to jettison free community college, reduce paid parental leave, abandon lower prescription drug prices through Medicare and higher tax rates for corporations.
Still, if this scaled-back legislation is passed, Biden will have this year delivered $5 trillion in economic stimulus and investment in American households.
In scale and scope, what Biden has on the table in Congress is as significant as Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.
This is why this week is Biden’s crash through or crash moment
If he succeeds, it will be momentous in its own right, and will give Democrats momentum as they face the midterm elections for the control of Congress next year.
If he succeeds, it will give Biden political capital to prosecute the racial equity agenda in a Senate choked by its rules for legislative debate.
But if Biden fails, if the Democrats do not unify and vote this legislation through the House and Senate, Biden’s presidency will come to a screeching halt. There will be no more progressive legislation of real consequence.
Unlike Gough, Biden cannot be removed as president by a Governor General, but there will be nothing to save his presidency from paralysis for the balance of this term.
The world’s most locked down city is free but is re-entry anxiety hitting Melbourne? | ticker VIEWS
Melbourne was once the world’s most liveable city. It appears that Covid-19 agrees, as the city recently ended its sixth lockdown
Victorians have been isolated for 262 days. It’s a grim statistic. In fact, it makes Melbourne the world’s most locked down city.
Unsurprisingly, Victoria is also the state with Australia’s highest number of Covid-19 infections (over 73,100), and deaths (1,005).
During lockdown, people began smiling through their face masks as they greeted passers-by on their daily walks. Cupboards were cleaned, old clothes were thrown out, and alcohol consumption was rife.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews put it bluntly, “these are shitty choices”.
But on Friday, restaurants popped open their first bottles of champagne in months; and people left their homes outside of curfew hours. These are the things that weren’t allowed just days ago, under the state’s strict stay-at-home orders.
But for some, the mental health toll of being locked down for such a long time is hitting home.
Ticker’s own Dr Kieran Kennedy says re-entry anxiety are “feelings of uncertainty, fear and anxiety around pandemic restrictions lowering”.
Psychiatrists believe re-entry anxiety is characterised by a major period of change.
What can help?
There are a range of techniques that are clinically proven to reduce anxiety during periods of change.
- acknowledge it
- take it slow
- put a simple routine or structure in place
- plan steps to get back outside
- look after yourself
- talk to people
- recognise the symptoms.
As Melbourne, and the world opens back up, there’s one word that comes to mind for me: balance.
The shadow pandemic
Australia has recently made the shift from a Covid-zero and lockdown mentality, to living with the virus.
Other countries have already adopted this approach, like the United Kingdom, where case numbers are spiking, and smaller nations like Singapore.
“We need to update our mindsets. We should respect Covid-19, but we must not be paralysed by fear.”SINGAPORE’s PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG
Some places are still working towards Covid-zero, including China, which was once the epicentre of the virus.
But as countries begin to emerge from the height of the pandemic, the mental health impacts are also coming to light.
LifeLine—a mental health support service—reported its busiest days in its 57-year history. Calls have reportedly increased by 40 per cent in recent months.
“Just two years ago we were averaging under 2,500 calls a day,” the company’s chair, John Brigden said.
You can almost feel these impacts in Melbourne. From businesses with a ‘for lease’ sticker splashed across their front windows, or for me, the reluctance of jumping straight into a weekend of socialising.
“Today we are regularly seeing more than 3,500—a 40 per cent increase.”Lifeline chair John Brogden.
Our health experts are telling us that it isn’t the end either.
Professor Adrian Esterman is a former epidemiologist with the World Health Organisation. He says there are a “host of potential viruses” that may cause the next pandemic in our lifetime.
It’s important to acknowledge this, because we are not immune to disasters or change. The world is a complex place.
Importantly, there’s no race to get back to anything. Yes, restrictions have eased but for some, the time to adjust may take a little longer.
I’m not trying to suppress anyone’s feeling of excitement, rather, just shine a light on the perils of re-entry.
Back to reality
As cities bounce back from an incredibly devastating and dark period, I’m having different conversations with my peers.
We’re talking more about our mental health—the harsh toll of being isolated from the things that we love.
But moving back into a ‘normal’ routine—with social and community commitments—isn’t easy.
In fact, research shows that sudden changes can lead to tiredness, stress and irritability—the term known as re-entry anxiety.
Above all, it can lead to unease. We’ve all changed our priorities and daily activities for well over a year, it’s bound to affect our recovery.
For me, I wonder what the world will look like in a month, and years to come.
I’m not in any hurry to rush back to ‘normal’ because our entire sense of normality has changed.
I think it’s been nice to strip life back, and appreciate the smaller things—a walk on the beach; dinner at the table; or connecting with an old relative.
However, I appreciate that the world moves fast, and people are keen to suppress these recent memories.
As people make reservations; gather outdoors, and see their friends; it’s time to enjoy these freedoms—at our own pace.
But remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you are struggling—short, or long-term.
If you, or someone you know needs help, please contact your local helpline.
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