Local News - Victoria

Funeral workers feel strain as lockdown heightens ‘grief and anger’


Staff had done a good job in declining, he said.

“We’re trying to preserve the ability for people who die in the future, for their families to be able to attend funerals.

“If we do the wrong thing, if funerals become a cluster, we’ll lose the ability to hold funerals.

“If people couldn’t have a funeral service in Victoria, the mental health consequences for those left behind could be frightening. They’d be dire. Unresolved grief is a major cause of suicide.”

Funeral homes have introduced special sanitation measures in cases where the deceased had COVID-19.

Mr Pinder’s family company, Ern Jensen Funerals, has handled 24 such cases at its Preston and St Albans parlours, with 22 of those in the past month.

Mr Pinder and Ern Jensen Funerals staff in the protective equipment required to help prevent outbreaks.

Mr Pinder and Ern Jensen Funerals staff in the protective equipment required to help prevent outbreaks.Credit:Simon Schluter

All transfers and the preparation of dead people is now carried out by staff in full personal protective equipment, including face shields, disposable overalls and double gloves.

Clients whose relatives died with COVID-19 are now asked by phone about contact they had with their loved ones before death.

This step was introduced after one client who was met in person described having, the day prior, hugged and kissed their relative. The staff member involved has been tested for COVID-19 and the funeral has been postponed for 14 days.

Dead people who had COVID-19 must have a transparent plastic cover over their coffins during viewing and cannot be touched.

Mr Pinder said funerals for people who died with COVID-19 did not cost more and funeral homes had absorbed the cost of protective equipment.

The state government had refused the industry’s request to be labelled an essential service, which would mean protective equipment was provided.

Mr Pinder said up to 70 per cent of his company’s funerals were now filmed and either streamed or watched later, compared with up to 20 per cent before the pandemic.

He said it was the “most stressful time” he had seen for funeral workers.

“They’re absorbing people’s grief and anger and they do that anyway, but it’s heightened during the pandemic.”

For clients, “not being able to see their loved one leading up to the death, then not being present at the death in many cases, and then being forced to choose who can come to the funeral – all this combines to make the process incredibly stressful”.

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Parents who took children to park that was more than five kilometres from their home among 276 people fined by Victoria Police for breaching lockdown restrictions

Police have fined 276 people – the highest number of penalties in a fortnight – for breaching Melbourne’s coronavirus restrictions.

A couple visiting a playground more than five kilometres from their home because they were “sick of walking around their local area” with their children are among the latest to receive a penalty.

Victoria Police and ADF personnel patrolling Melbourne CBD during the stage four COVID-19 lockdown.

Victoria Police and ADF personnel patrolling Melbourne CBD during the stage four COVID-19 lockdown. Credit:Eddie Jim

The man and woman travelled to Wyndham in Melbourne’s outer west with their children, police said.

Other people fined for breaching stage four rules included a man crossing Edgevale Road in Kew, in Melbourne’s inner east, on Sunday evening. He was stopped by police and stated he was just getting cigarettes, despite being aware of the curfew.

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Victorian kids share their stories of school life in lockdown 2.0

Max Creighton, 8, and his dog Ruby.

Max Creighton, 8, and his dog Ruby.Credit:Justin McManus

My dog Ruby makes me laugh

Will there ever be a vaccine? I miss my friends. I feel lonely. Being in this situation makes me think more about the pets and how they are. It is a bit of a double-edged sword for them. They certainly get more attention, but they go out less. My dog Ruby makes me laugh and keeps me cheerful in lockdown. It is stricter than last time and I hope it is helping a bit more. And no, I am not tired of it if it helps get this under control.

Max Creighton, 8, Coburg

In a word

It sucks

Thomas McIntosh, 11, Carlton

Mostly I feel happy

Lockdown can make me feel like I’m in a cage at home. But I live in the Dandenongs and this week it snowed, which was brilliant. We didn’t do any learning and played. I worry about getting back to school, but I try not to think about COVID-19 too much. I enjoy spending time with my wonderful family. My brother entertains me and my dog gives me lots of licks. I feel a lot of different emotions, but mostly I feel happy. I still get to see my friends every day online and my phenomenal teachers help me.

Imogen Ilott, 10, Ferny Creek

Tired of coronavirus

School in Coronavirus 2.0 is better but worse. It’s better because everybody should know what to do. But it’s worse because we are in lockdown all over again. I am very tired of Coronavirus. We don’t get to go to into school, go to the beach, see our friends at school or see our families. My survival tips are to find a new hobby to do after your home schooling. Mine is skateboarding. You should exercise as much as you are allowed. I do it every day out the front of my house. You could also jump around, walk your dog or play on a trampoline.

Max Rollo, 10, Fitzroy North

Can’t wait to go back to school

Home-schooling 2.0 has been much better for me this term because I know what to expect and my teacher Mr Millman is awesome. Home schooling is the highlight of my day, obviously because I have nothing else to do except for going outside and doing gymnastics on the trampoline. My survival tips are making sure you go outside every day even if it’s freezing! Hugging my dogs also helps me if I’m not having the best day. I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL!

Evie Aitken, 10, Mount Eliza

A few petty fights

I have to admit homeschooling is starting to feel pretty drawn-out. I have gotten into a few petty fights with my family (me deciding I should learn to handstand against the wall and marking it with my grubby socks, or me and my brother yelling over Catan). But then there’s good things. The teachers have promoted some great activities (gaining a pen pal, and a backyard winter sleep-out in support of homeless people). With a few PJ days in the mix and TRYING to make bread, I feel pretty lucky.

Lucia Frazzetto, year 9 student

I loved my COVID cake

On 31 July, I turned 7. I asked for a COVID cake. My auntie made one for me. It was green in the shape of a hill with lollies stuck on to show the spikes and germs. I loved my COVID cake!

Louise Razga, 7, Mordialloc

Are teachers bored at home?

My experience of home learning has been easier this time, because I already know how to use the computer and google classroom. But, I wonder what the point of learning is if I don’t get to see my friends. I have also been thinking about asking my teachers how they would feel if they were forced to do boring home learning, but what if they consider working at home boring too? I sometimes wish that computers and iPads weren’t invented so that I did not have to do tiring home learning!

Milo McQueen, 9, East Brunswick

It’s only Monday!

Well, it was fun and exciting around the start. I was staying at home, sleeping in, eating whenever I wanted to and going to the toilet without a bathroom pass. Now however, I am getting bored of this. When will it end? I’m finding the days long and tiring and the week seems to drag on forever. It’s only Monday! I have three subjects of homework to do. Don’t worry, the homework isn’t that bad but it’s getting boring. I sometimes wonder if we will ever get out of this and if the world will ever be the same. Most likely not though.

Leo Bonomi-Bowen, 15, Moorabbin

Don’t want Mum to get sick

I like sending my work into my teacher on my iPad and hearing her comments back. I love playing with my new puppy while doing school. But I’m bored of being on my own. My Mum’s a midwife and she works shiftwork delivering babies. I wish she could work from home too as I don’t want her to get sick. My grandmother is very strict as she was a teacher once but I’m showing her how to be kind. I wish there was no COVID-19 because if there wasn’t we wouldn’t have to do home schooling all together!

Méabh Hennessy, 7, Camberwell

I love online learning

I personally love online learning and I find that it has a better working environment than school.
In school most students find it really hard to work as they can get distracted from sitting next to
their friends, the class is loud and mostly talking, students are going to their lockers, students
going up and down the hallways. Most students feel pressured from tests so being at home in
your own environment can help students not feel so pressured and nervous. In conclusion I
think schools should consider online learning.

Amelia Sureda, 12, Reservoir

We’ve lost motivation

I’m currently a year 12 student and I’ve been studying from home since the end of term 2. I have a pre-existing condition, so I have had to stay home from school since June. My first experience with lockdown was really good, I vastly preferred it to the classroom structure and loved that my learning was a lot more self directed. However, this time around it has been very challenging as I miss a lot of information and I have lost almost all my motivation. Many of my friends, who’ve also had to stay home, feel the same way. You just lose your will.

Angus Corr, Mont Albert North

Better this time

I think that home schooling this time is better because the teachers have learnt some lessons about what can work and what can’t work. I have worked some things out too about home learning. But I am still getting used to not seeing my friends in person. Otherwise its great! Even though I have to do it for six more weeks. I enjoy art the most because it takes the longest time to do.

Mia Gavens, 6, Ascot Vale

Getting used to working with my sister

I think that this remote learning is better than last time because my teacher remembered students are at different levels. I am still getting used to starting work early and working with my sister. I love doing my work fast so I can play.

Evan Gavens, 8, Ascot Vale

A tree-house to read in

I feel a bit sad that I can’t see my friends and I really miss the monkey bars. But I feel happy that I can read lots of books – I’ve even read a 12 chapter book in a day. I have been happy though, because I have a tree-house to read in and my cat is ‘at school’. I’m a bit tired of home learning because I’ve done it for more than 10 weeks. For a survival tip, if you feel a bit sad, talk to someone, call a friend or ask your teacher a question.

Bilijana Davis Greig, 6, Caulfield North

Get organised

Home learning is definitely not easy. There are a lot of disadvantages, however believe it or not there are some perks too. I am certainly managing home learning 2.0 better than the first time I started. One very helpful survival tip I have to all students doing home learning is to stay organised. I cannot express in words how helpful it was to keep all my work organised in a folder or even using sticky notes. However, one thing is for sure home learning is not easy and that is why we all need to stick together.

Sanvi Bidhania, 8, Broadmeadows

Happy and sad

Remote learning makes me feel happy and sad at the same time. Happy for sleep ins and hot lunches but I do miss my friends. I miss leaving my home every day and I miss doing the things I love outside of my home. Remote learning can be boring and it is easy to become lazy and not really try to do my best. I feel nervous because I don’t know how long this will continue for. I can’t wait to go back to school and get back to doing the things I love doing?

Charlotte Baker, 12, Eltham

You will be swearing everyday

I’m doing home schooling because of COVID-19. I am not very happy about it but I am history. We are now up to stage 4. It is very draining. For thank heaven sake!!! I am sorry I am swearing but if you were in a pandemic, you will be swearing everyday just like ME!!! The End.

Yana Iliou Hom, 7, Fitzroy

We took 2019 for granted

Boy did we take 2019 for granted. No one could’ve predicted what kind of impact this once in a century pandemic would’ve made, overnight we went from happily attending face to face to now, that becoming an ever so sweet dream. At first it was as if I had hit a brick wall not being able to wake up for online classes as well as receiving an overload of work, but slowly but surely it is becoming the new normal. Study habits have changed, students like myself are now forced to be more independent. In hindsight, maybe this is for the better being without distractions.

Massoud Safi, 15, Glen Waverley

Red belt from my lounge room

Here we go again. Back to online school, living in our pyjamas, rewatching movies and playing with our pets more. As a year six student, this wasn’t how I imagined I would be spending my last year of primary school. I’m doing Taekwondo from home and it is weird – I just got my red belt from my lounge room. I recommend something to keep you busy, like writing, painting or learning something new, like a language. At least we can sleep in during these dark times. But most importantly please stay home – I really don’t want to graduate via zoom.

Stella Joyner, 11, Gladstone Park

A lot of stress

I don’t know whether I am learning from home or living at school. These past few weeks have blended school and home. When remote learning was introduced, I was excited as it was something new. The second round wasn’t exciting because of the sleepless nights, stacks of homework, and a lot of stress. My lessons are shorter and then there are technical problems which minimise my learning time. I am an introvert and not being able to interact with my friends has made it harder to speak out in class and made me close up even more.

Nadia Slezak, 13, Hawthorn

I’m adapting

As a VCE student, lockdown 2.0 continues to present unique struggles, such as completing SACs over video-conferencing. Obviously, communication is a little stilted with only emails and video calls to compensate, and technology issues are still aplenty. Despite this, there’s a certain liberation
associated with completing assignments at my own leisure. Prior to the lockdown, I spent two hours
commuting every day, so lockdown 2.0 has given me time to spend with family, and of course, to
catch up on sleep. It’s definitely not how I envisioned my VCE journey, but I’m adapting, and
surprisingly, even enjoying remote learning.

Divyangana Dutta Rao, 16, Boronia

Keep your head up

These past few weeks have been difficult. I feel I am doing better with schooling at home this time. But it feels more difficult for some reason. Home-schooling wise, it is bad because we don’t get to have the one-on-one time anymore and we also don’t have our social interactions with other students and teachers. But isolation wise, it has been mostly boring. Not being able to go out as a family, play outdoors and visiting friends and relatives is the most difficult. My survival tips would be keep your head up high and try to remain positive.

Jacob Young, 13, Tarneit

Sienna and Josh Lindeman with their bunnies, Cookie and Bingo.

Sienna and Josh Lindeman with their bunnies, Cookie and Bingo.Credit:Eddie Jim

Used to lockdown

Last Lockdown I was scared, anxious and tired. However now that I am used to lockdown it is a lot less intimidating. I am quite tired of it as I have a really loud twin brother and having a twin brother has a lot of cons. I have been surviving lockdown by eating healthy, going to bed at a reasonable hour “most nights” and playing with my two gorgeous bunnies, Cookies and Bingo, both boys.

Sienna Kate Lindeman, 12, Kew

Play with Lego

Remote learning 2.0 has been an atrocious disadvantage; but disadvantages have
advantages, like I get to sleep more and spend time with my family more. The disadvantages
are my laptop constantly goes flat and I get into more arguments with my family. Here are
my survival tips for remote learning: 1. I play with Lego when I have free time. 2. I get things
done quickly, so I have the rest of the day to play. 3. For my last tip, I always try to be happy.

Isaac Sharpe, 10, Point Cook

Dance practice is a nightmare

I’m in year 9 at a select-entry performing arts school. I’m in the dance program. This means that not only do I have to do academic at home, but dancing as well. In a compact space, which doesn’t have the right flooring, it is a nightmare, and because of all this I am prone to injuries. Academics hasn’t been great either. The first time round was okay, because people used to chat in the meetings. This time round everyone is disillusioned that we had to go back home, now no one talks at all.

Noah Sharpe, 14, Point Cook

Sakshi Sharma, 12.

Sakshi Sharma, 12.Credit:Jason South

Go outside to calm down

I never thought before I’d be sitting in front of a computer all day looking at a screen. Remote learning 2.0 has been a fine experience for me. It is way better than remote learning last time, but is still not the best. I sometimes have times where I just can’t think of anything and can’t do anything. I sometimes just get fully tired of this and the computer screen but I don’t give up, and do things that help me feel better. Something I do is forget everything about school work and go outside to calm down.

Sakshi Sharma, 12, Epping

Bored out of my life

My experience during the pandemic has been a rather unsuccessful challenge. It is a good time to spend time with family. The homework is not that hard. If I feel good, then I can finish early. One of my best survival tips is to have Netflix or siblings if you have any. Don’t forget about pets. They always make you smile and laugh with their cuteness. The biggest challenge has to be being BORED OUT OF MY LIFE. I’m trying to get out of the habit of being lazy, so let’s see how that works out.

Muheyra Noor, 12, Doveton

No school in some countries

I enjoyed being in school because of my friends and teachers. For some students learning online has been hard because we miss everyone. However, we have to stay at home to try to help the government and the people in our community to save lives. Remote schooling is amazing. We can see our classmates and teachers every day and most importantly we can still learn! This is good because in some countries there is no school and no online learning, so we are lucky that we are learning online in our beautiful country.

Ambreen Zahra Hamdam, 13

Friends in my street

Lock down 2.0 started nine days after I went back to physical school. After seeing my friends for only nine days I go back to seeing them online. Lucky enough I have a few friends who live on the same street as me and I talk and exercise with them every day. It makes me really sad to see that millions and millions of people have to suffer each day because of COVID-19.

Moshe Meyer, 11, St Kilda East

Mourning VCE year

I’m upset and disappointed. I’m mourning the loss of what should have been one of the best years of my life. Year 12 is traditionally full of learning, celebration, connection – a rite of passage taken away from us. There are people much worse off than I am, and I know this is for the best, yet I can’t help but feel the loss of what this year should have been. It’s hard to stay motivated and continue our studies on The Crucible and matrices as if everything is normal, when the world is far from it.

Emma Christina, 17 , Lysterfield

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Are the costs of lockdown worth the pain? Economists weigh in

As early as April, Foster appeared on ABC TV’s Q&A to point out the trade-off of “quality-adjusted life years” from harsh lockdowns, including deteriorating mental health, increased domestic violence and higher suicides as the pressures of joblessness bite.

The list goes on, says Foster.

It includes the crowding out of non-COVID-related healthcare, lower productivity for workers forced to juggle kids at home and what she estimates as a $50 million to $100 million hit to the future wages of children who suffer interrupted schooling.

More broadly, says Foster, lockdowns and the fear they foster are incubating poor physical and mental habits among children.

Fear of friends

“Children are learning that going outside and playing on a playground is unsafe and that they shouldn’t go and see friends because the friends might make them sick. That will stay with them. That is not an insubstantial cost; that will only be evident in many, many years. But again, how do you quantify that cost? Not easy.”


But not impossible. And Foster is clear that lockdown creates more costs than benefits: “Absolutely. If you look across the spectrum of costs, I think there’s no question.”

On the other side of the battle lines is University of Melbourne economics professor Bruce Preston, who believes equally as firmly that the benefits of lockdown exceed the cost.

Partly in response to Foster’s arguments and partly just to flesh out the issues, Preston and economist Richard Holden released a cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns in late May.

What is a life worth?

Where Foster uses “quality-adjusted life years” or QALYs in her analysis, Preston uses a “value of a statistical life” methodology, which is based on surveys that ask people how much they would be willing to pay to buy additional years of life. This yields a dollar figure on the value of a human life of $4.9 million, which is used in government as the basis for making many decisions on the potential value of policies on say, road safety or medical funding.

Based on an assumed mortality rate of 1 per cent and potential deaths of 225,000 in Australia, Holden and Preston estimated a potential benefit to society of $1.1 trillion from lockdown.

Preston concedes the evidence has since moved on to show a much lower mortality rate from COVID-19. But he still thinks the potential benefits of lockdown, while lower, exceed the costs.

‘The economics is clear-cut that it’s better to shut down.’

Bruce Preston, University of Melbourne economist

“I think the economics is clear-cut that it’s better to shut down,” he says.

“I think the economic costs of not dealing with the public health problem are more significant than dealing with it and getting back to normal life.”

Preston says many of the costs that opponents of lockdown point to arise with or without lockdown.

“You get the recession regardless of whether a government mandates a lockdown. It’s not the lockdown that is costly, it’s the virus.”

Foster concedes this, but says lockdowns don’t help.

A substantial point of difference between opponents and advocates of lockdown appears to be whether lockdowns actually work to eradicate the virus and yield the potential benefits touted.

Foster is sceptical: “I actually don’t see the benefit of locking people down. The burden of proof should be on the government that these lockdowns actually save lives and I’ve not seen that that’s true. The hardest lockdowns started after infection rates were peaking and then started coming down.”

Preston says there is little choice but to try. The alternative, of stop-start reopening and shutdowns, destroys confidence.

“That’s going to be way more problematic than just getting on top of things. I think an important question for Australia is why we just didn’t get it done back in April and May. My sense is the Prime Minister kind of lost his nerve and caved in to business pressure to reopen.”

Less damage

Advocates of lockdown say they produce less economic damage in the long run, if successful.

Says Preston: “I think you give people the confidence to engage in normal economic life and I think without that confidence, it’s going to be impossible to get the economy back on track.”

Sweden is a sticking point in the debate.

Preston says Sweden, which never closed schools, proves that substantial economic damage is inevitable even without lockdowns.

The Swedish conundrum

Foster agrees Swedish people engaged in precautionary behaviour even without lockdown.
But they were happier, she says, than those subjected to strict rules.

She says: “I’ve seen some survey data from them where they didn’t look like they were as scared about the virus relative to other things as other countries’ populations were. So they actually did a much better job of controlling the fear and then you have just higher satisfaction and everything else.”

Foster says surveys in Britain show people there have suffered a slide of 0.7 percentage points in life satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10. That could be due to the lockdowns or just the fear of the virus itself.

It’s likely it’s both, says Foster. Lockdowns come at a price.

‘Those kinds of deprivations cause mental stress.’

Gigi Foster, UNSW economist

“When people are shut off and away from their family, their friends et cetera, we do know that those kinds of deprivations cause mental stress,” she says.

“You have to make a judgment call on what fraction of the fall in the UK wellbeing data, for example, is really attributable to that versus just being scared of the virus.”

Foster concedes she has not published a full cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns because “the quest for that perfection is foolhardy”.

Preston and co have attracted harsh criticism for the assumptions in their modelling.

But the war of the cost-benefit analyses over lockdowns is far from over.

As Australia’s business community starts a pushback against Melbourne’s harsher lockdowns, and as the situation in Sydney hangs in the balance, the debate has much further to run.

Foster says her anti-lockdown position is not ideologically driven, as it is for some commentators.

She says: “My position, as with everything that I take a position on, is not motivated at all by any kind of adherence to an ideological camp or political party or any other ideas-based conviction. It’s very much more: what can we do, practically speaking, right now, to best promote human welfare. If there is an ideology that motivates me, that’s what it is: how do we get the most welfare?”

The need to promote the welfare of Australians through continued economic growth and job protection for the long run is, ultimately, something upon which economists on both sides of the lockdown debate agree.

They just have very different answers on how we should achieve it.

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Merri Creek pristine as locals pick up litter during lockdown exercise

“They’re out more, they’re walking, they’re seeing more of these issues, and saying ‘I want to be involved’, which is great.”

But it’s not only the creek that’s benefiting as wildlife-killing soft plastic is pulled from its rapids.

“It’s actually improving people’s emotional and mental health,” Ms Cirillo said.

“Collecting litter is a real tangible thing. It feels good that they’ve cleaned up, and they can say that they’ve done something for their local environment.

“It’s also just connecting with your local nature. Nature doesn’t rely on us, we rely on it.”

More people have also been reporting litter, with app Snap Send Solve, which allows users to report maintenance issues to councils, logging a 37 per cent increase.

Merri Creek users reported a build-up of litter at Coburg Lake, which the creek flows through, after heavy rain caused rubbish to wedge between tree trunks and branches in early May.

Mayor Lambros Tapinos said the council had organised a number of clean-ups using a small boat, while it awaits traffic management support so it can remove the trees with a crane.

Before and after photos show transformation into a sparkling creek.

For the past 25 years, litter coordinator Paul Prentice has spent one day a month picking up rubbishnear Merri Creek.

The retired school teacher usually takes groups out, but during restrictions he’s only had the sweet magpie-larks’ song , the gentle rippling waters and the blossoming silver wattle to keep him company.

“Natural areas are just so important to our physical and mental and spiritual health,” he said

“It certainly keeps me feeling happy and healthy and relaxed.”

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Although new stage 4 restrictions will prevent people from collecting litter, locals will still be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour during the permitted one hour of exercise each day.

Mr Prentice, who lives by himself, said cleaning the creek among the gum trees had given him pleasure while he couldn’t socialise due to coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s just wonderful I’ve got these creeks to enjoy and make a contribution to keeping them tidy,” he said.

“We’re very blessed in Melbourne.”

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Childcare centres in chaos on first day of lockdown as parents rush to obtain permitted worker forms

Permitted workers can work from home and put their children in care, as long as there is no adult available to supervise the child at home. Babysitting and nannying arrangements can be maintained, but new arrangements cannot be put in place.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos tweeted out a final list of permitted industries shortly after midnight on Thursday.


  • Only children of permitted workers, who cannot be supervised at home, and those who are vulnerable can access childcare in Melbourne for the next six weeks.
  • Permitted workers include nurses, emergency services, some retail staff, meat workers, media and construction workers. Full list here.
  • Permitted workers can only put their children in care if no other adult is present in the home who can supervise them.
  • Babysitting – paid or unpaid – is allowed for permitted workers, if it’s a continuation of an existing arrangement.
  • Grandparents are discouraged from babysitting because they are in a vulnerable category, although this is not prohibited.
  • Permitted workers can drop their child at a family member’s home for care.

Parents scrambled to organise paperwork on Wednesday evening.

At Dawson Street Childrens’ Co-operative, three other parents, all medical workers, could not produce their forms in time to get their children into the centre on Thursday morning.

“It’s just been diabolical,” Ms Lawton said.

“Three emergency services families haven’t been able to bring their children in today, because … their workplaces haven’t been able to get the letter signed.”

Ms Lawton said she was still unsure of how many families will use the not-for-profit service during lockdown and how many staff she would need.

Those staff who are not needed on site will lose income.

“We won’t be standing staff down but the intention is to pay staff half wages if they’re not on premises,” she said. “We don’t want to be doing that but as a not-for-profit organisation we don’t have any option.”

The stage four restrictions are an attempt to drive down stubbornly high numbers of new COVID-19 infections in Victoria and include extensive limits on which industries can operate.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government was “trying to be as flexible as we possibly can”.

“But the challenge here is that if … every industry leader or every employer or every family that put to me a well-argued, impassioned, logical case, if I said yes to all of them we would have more people working today than we had under stage three,” he said.

The federal government injected an extra $33 million into the Victorian childcare sector on Wednesday, to cover the cost of lost fees as parents are forced to keep their children home.

Families in Melbourne’s lockdown areas have been given 30 more days of “allowable absences” over the next six weeks, meaning they will not have to pay to keep their children enrolled, conditional upon each centre agreeing to waive the gap fees they ordinarily charge.

Centres will receive a top-up on transitional payments they currently receive from the Commonwealth to pay staff.

The size of the top-up payments will depend on how many children are absent, with centres that have an attendance rate below 30 per cent to get top-up payments of up to 25 per cent.


Those with an attendance rate of more than 30 per cent will get a 5 per cent top-up.

Daniela Kavoukas, policy and advocacy co-ordinator at the Community Child Care Association, said the government’s 11th-hour release of information meant services did not know how many parents would be able to send their children in the next six weeks and therefore how much financial support they would receive.

“We’ve had some centres say we’ll be OK, others have said it’ll be a nightmare,” Ms Kavoukas said. “But it is going to be a loss for a service over six weeks.”

Cardinia Lakes Early Learning Centre director Tamika Hicks said attendance numbers had already dropped dramatically.

“Today we had 107 children booked in and we’ve currently got 12 children,” she said.

“We’ve sent quite a few staff home early, some are doing program planning, we’re doing a spring clean. We’ve got no choice but to make it work,” she said.

Ms Hicks said she would not have to stand any employees down but only because staff were working together to share absences, using annual leave and taking brief periods of leave without pay.

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Local News - Victoria

Melbourne’s hard lockdown

Melbourne’s hard lockdown

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Lockdown 2.0 in Melbourne, with a curfew and locals told to stay within five kilometres of their homes.


Flinders Street Station Credit:Joe Armao


Princes Bridge. Credit:Joe Armao


Southbank PromenadeCredit:Joe Armao


Little Bourke StreetCredit:Joe Armao


State Library.Credit:Joe Armao


Swanston Street (between Lonsdale and Bourke)Credit:Joe Armao


Southbank PromenadeCredit:Joe Armao


Federation SquareCredit:Joe Armao


Collins Street tram would normally be packed at lunchtime. Credit:Jason South


9.30am An empty Parliament station during stage 4 lockdown COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Credit:Joe Armao


9.30am An empty Parliament station during stage 4 lockdown COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Credit:Joe Armao


9.30am An empty Parliament station during stage 4 lockdown COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Credit:Joe Armao

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Local News - Victoria

Lockdown 2.0. Your questions answered.

Join us today as The Age’s Science Reporter, Liam Mannix, Chief Reporter, Chip Le Grand, and Senior Reporter, Jewel Topsfield, explore the impact of lockdown 2.0 and what it means for Victorians.

The discussion will be streamed live here today from 1-1.45pm and is exclusive to subscribers. This discussion will also be available to watch on-demand on this page after the event.

Got a question? Submit your questions now ahead of the discussion or share them during the talk. And don’t forget to vote for the questions you want answered by our journalists.

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Local News - Victoria

Pandemic lockdown impacts ‘could push thousands more children into care’

But Berry Street chief executive Michael Perusco said he was “unfortunately very confident” the severe scenario – in which treatment is not available until 2022 and the economic recovery is slow – would play out. He said 4500 more children than usual would be placed in out-of-home care due to the pandemic, unless intervention occurred.


“There’s some really strong indicators that COVID is increasing the risk factors for abuse and neglect, and at the same time is reducing families’ ability to cope with those increases in stressors because we have to isolate,” Mr Perusco said.

“It’s a double whammy, if you like – it’s increasing risk and there is less opportunity for families to do something about it, including because there is less access to social services.”

He said child protection reports jumped when restrictions were eased after the first lockdown, and he expected another rise in reports once the current lockdown ends.

If families don’t get the right support, “the blunt instrument of removing children from families will be used, which will in fact make things worse in the long term”, he said.

Deb Tsorbaris, head of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare – which represents more than 100 of the state’s family services organisations – said investment could help change the projections.

The Social Ventures Australia report argued a $180 million investment every year in targeted early intervention programs that have been used in places such as New Zealand would deliver savings of $1.8 billion.

“This is a [state] government that has plans and we’ve had some positive soundings with the Treasurer before COVID about this work. They’re highly engaged with it,” Ms Tsorbaris said. “This is about averting further human tragedy.

“It’s even more urgent than it was six months ago for governments and the sector and the community to want to do something about this, because actually there are solutions right in front of us”

Mr Perusco said early intervention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who continue to be over-represented in child protection statistics, must be determined by the Indigenous community.

“The last thing the Aboriginal community need is more white people telling them what to do with their children,” he said.

Kaitlyne, 23, whose last name has been withheld, was in primary school when child protection services became involved with her family.

Her mother was violent towards her older sister, which meant her sister – who did most of the caring – was removed and lost contact with her siblings for two years. After a stint in foster care, Kaitlyne and her infant brother were sent back to their mother. The family received little meaningful support and the cycle of abuse and neglect continued.

“He didn’t want to go home, he was terrified and he looked to me for support,” Kaitlyne, who was no older than 12 at the time, said of her brother.

She now works as a youth advocate. She said one thing that annoyed her as a child was that she was rarely asked what was happening to her, or even listened to – and that was the big lesson for authorities now.

“There were so many situations when people would assume, or just label you as this naughty child wasting the taxpayer and court’s time. That’s what silences children and keeps them quiet. These kids should be heard and especially with COVID right now.”

Minister for Child Protection Luke Donnellan said the Andrews government has invested an extra $2.5 billion in new services and programs in child protection, including investment in early intervention programs and an extra 650 practitioners.

More than $45 million had been invested during the pandemic to help provide outreach support to families, Mr Donnellan said.

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What happens if Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown doesn’t work

Victorian authorities have imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the world on residents living in Melbourne but an expert has warned worse could be in store if the current stage 4 restrictions don’t work.

In releasing a list of industries that would be forced to close, Premier Daniel Andrews caused confusion yesterday when he referred to the possibility of stage 5 restrictions.

On Sunday, Mr Andrews announced stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne that prohibit people from leaving their homes unless it’s for one-hour of exercise a day. One person in the household is allowed to do grocery shopping.

Retail, some manufacturing and administration businesses will be forced to close while supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops and pharmacies are among the businesses allowed to keep operating.

Mr Andrews said if these coronavirus restrictions could get infections under control then they would not have to countenance even further action.

“The damage from which would be altogether, well, it would be in another category, it would go even beyond this because it wouldn’t just be changing how the economy works, it will be changing very much the way we live our lives even further,” he told reporters.

Reporters noted that the Premier’s media release mentioned stage 5 but when he was asked to explain this he said: “The reason stage five is mentioned is because there is no stage five. It doesn’t work.

“Otherwise, we will have to develop a set of rules that will even further limit people’s movement. I don’t want to get to a situation where we’ve got to take those steps,” he said.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton further added to the confusion when he was asked about it.

“We’re not thinking about a Stage 5,” he said. “We’re thinking about a successful Stage 4. We know it can work. But it does require – and this is what talking about a Stage 5 is – it does require everyone’s co-operation.”

Of course one reporter then asked the obvious question: “Why was it mentioned?”

Prof Sutton responded: “Well it mentions it because it’s saying that the alternative is inconceivable. We need everyone to do what’s required now in order to get to where we want

to be.”

Melbourne University epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely told he didn’t think there was a stage 5, at least not that he knew of, but he did think authorities could further tweak current restrictions.

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Further tightening could include:

• Closing all construction

• Further narrowing the definition of essential workers

• Closing bottle shops

• Shutting bakeries

• All takeaways shut

• Restricting shopping to once a week, not once a day

• Residents not allowed outside for one-hour of exercise

• Road blocks at all exits from metropolitan Melbourne

• Hard regional grid lockdown

• Random road blocks between suburbs

• Shut down all taxis, with only skeletal public transport available

• Compulsory mask wearing in homes.

But Prof Blakely said he didn’t think measures such as forcing people to wear masks in their homes would be likely even though it would probably help to bring down infections.

“These measures would provide marginal gains and may see the rates come down a few percentage rates faster, although it’s unclear as I haven’t modelled it yet,” he said.

“Those are the only places left to go and I don’t think they will have a huge impact.”

Prof Blakely said it wasn’t apparent what the Premier was referring to in his comments but he may have been pointing to tougher shopping and stay-at-home restrictions.


Prof Blakely believes that the current stage 4 restrictions will work to bring cases down but enforcement of the rules is crucial.

“I am confident, we saw it work in Spain, Italy and the UK. It will work as long as we’ve got enforcement. If there are breaches then that’s a different matter but there is simple mathematics to this.”

He believes the next question is how long does Melbourne have to be in stage 4 lockdown in order to achieve the goal of “no community transmission”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia is aiming for “no community transmission”, which is when there are no new cases without a known source identified for 28 days.

At this stage it’s unclear whether Victoria will still be able to achieve this, but Prof Blakely believes experts will have a better idea in about three weeks when the impact of the stage 4 restrictions is known and can be modelled.

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Melbourne’s restrictions are now among the most strict in the world but Prof Blakely said it was crucial that residents followed the rules as otherwise this could see the lockdown further extended.

“Do this well, don’t muck around. For anyone breaking the rules there should be warnings for the first week then the full rate of penalties after,” he said.

“A week ago there were so many examples of people not being at home when they should be in isolation.”

He said it was human nature for people to believe they wouldn’t be the ones to get sick.

“It’s very common psychology and for those who have had the virus, once their symptoms are gone, they may think, ‘Why should I stay in isolation for another 10 days?’

“But we know that you can still be transmitting the virus even when you don’t have symptoms.

“Yes it’s a pain but given where we are it’s utterly critical that everyone abides by the rules.”

He said this applied equally for businesses that may naturally look for loopholes in rules.

“The idea of looking for loopholes, that has to go both at an individual and business level.”

Prof Blakely said the availability of JobKeeper, JobSeeker and now the pandemic payment were in place to help people get through.

“It’s going to be tough but if we muck around now it’s just going to go on and on,” he said.

“We just have to do this well and that will maximise our chances of elimination as well as reducing the time we have to spend in hard lockdown.

“No matter what camp you are in, the message is the same, go hard and obey the rules.” | @charischang2

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