opinion

“As a Victorian, I have never been more disappointed than I am today.”

Apart from a nine month stint in Canberra, I have lived in Victoria my whole life. I was born in Melbourne, raised in regional Victoria and now my family – husband, two daughters, goats and cats - are growing up here too. 

I have always been proud of living in the ‘Garden State’, the ‘Education State’ and all the other numberplate versions of Victoria there have been. I love the people, I love the vast regions and culture, I love the community. 

Yes, even with the surge of COVID-19 numbers within Victoria, I have always been absolutely in love withand proud of the state that I live in.

Until today.

Because today everything changed. Today I was let down. Millions of Victorians were let down by members of our own community.

When Premier Andrews announced our second biggest number of positive cases – 627 – second only to yesterday's 723, he also announced that one in four of the people who were meant to be in isolation were not home when door knocked.

One in four COVID-19 positive people were not self-isolating. They were not at home.    

Watch: Daniel Andrews announce that masks will be mandatory across Victoria. Post contiues below.


Video via Sky News Australia

130 Victorians who should have been at home, in isolation, doing the responsible thing, the right thing for the health and safety of themselves, their family, their friends, their colleagues, their neighbours, their community, of all Victorians were NOT. AT. HOME.

And like being kicked in the guts when you are already down, some of these people had been doorknocked by the Australian Defence Force more than once and had not been home either time. 

Premier Andrews said it was "difficult to understand" why the 130 people who were door knocked were not at home.

But I disagree with Mr Andrews, because it isn’t ‘difficult’ to understand. It is more than ‘difficult’ - it is completely impossible to understand.

It is absolutely inexcusable.

Before today I had thought that what was happening in my home state was immensely sad, it was incredibly unfortunate, but ultimately it was the result of a highly infectious virus that together as a state we were doing our best to beat. 

I had thought that there was only the odd person here or there doing the wrong thing, just a handful of ‘bad eggs’.  

But after seeing those numbers today – ‘one in four’ - it has become clear to me that instead of it being sad, or unfortunate and due to a virus, it is really our own fault. Or, more accurately, it is the fault of a particular group of people. This one in four. 

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Due to their absolute disregard for their own and others’ health and safety, due to their complete stupidity and selfishness, these individuals are spreading COVID-19 throughout workplaces and communities, where they then spread to schools, to hospitals, to aged care homes where our most vulnerable suffer and die, due to no fault of their own.

Here are the facts:

There are currently 5385 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria.

105 Victorians have died.

There are 312 cases in hospital, and 34 in intensive care.

877 active cases are related to aged care facilities.

This one in four, who are at work, or who are out in the community - seeing family or friends, or going to the shops or wherever it is they are going, are not only breaking the law. They're contributing to these statistics, this loss of life, and they are doing so with full knowledge.  

In a press conference on Thursday, Mr Andrews had a message for Victorians who were doing the wrong thing after it was revealed a number of Victorians who tested positive were “at work”.

“You cannot go to work if you are sick. You simply can’t. All you will be doing is spreading the virus and putting people at risk. And it’s not a matter of judgment, it’s not a matter of criticism. I’m not criticising people. It’s the wrong choice to make, but I understand it, I understand why people would make that judgment. We are not judging them, just asking them, there is support for you and please don’t go to work if you have symptoms. That is our request of you and I cannot be any clearer. If it continues then these numbers will continue to go up.”

But unlike Mr Andrews, I don’t understand. Many of us don’t understand. I do judge you, and so do many others, because as Victorians we are angry. We are frustrated. We have done the right thing - we have socially distanced, worn masks, stayed at home, abided by the restrictions, the lockdowns, suffered financially, psychologically, physically and sacrificed so much, some have even died, and you have let us down. 

You – this one in four - are letting us down. 

As a Victorian I am ashamed. As a Victorian, this breaks my heart. 

Today, Mr Andrews finished his press conference with this:

"The job that I have means I am responsible for the things that don't go right. But your responsibility as my fellow Victorians is to follow the rules and do your part.

I'll do mine and I ask you to do yours.

You have to stay at home, you have to get tested when you're sick. We are all in this together whether we like it or not."

I wonder though - Victoria, are we really all in this together?

Shona Hendley, Mother of cats, goats and humans is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature image: Instagram/@shonamarion and Getty.

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