I am contacting you regarding my serious concerns about what I am witnessing in our State, in families and in individuals over the past 18 months and with my impassioned plea that you do not support any extension to the current State of Emergency, or any attempts to add extra powers through future pandemic legislation that will further restrict the freedoms of Victorians.
I am a nurse counsellor in private practice in North East Victoria. I provide psychoeducational support and debriefing to other practitioners including doctors, counsellors, mental health workers, nurses, social workers and others. I also provide generalist and mental health support and assessment to clients through Employee Assistance Programs and to the general public. For 2 years I also facilitated our regional Mental Health Professional’s Network (MHPN).
Within the MHPN network we would have up to 20 attendees at zoom meetings during the early phase of the COVID lockdowns. I was disappointed and concerned to discover that I was one of the only practitioners still providing essential face to face support to clients as many had reverted to online consults due to their own fears. At a time when isolation from family and friends along with dealing with added pressures of not working and home schooling which added huge stress, face to face contact was an essential part of the therapeutic service I was able to offer to my clients. Several would cry just knowing they were able to attend my office instead of just having to be supported online.
Practitioners in the network expressed extreme distress in managing the growing distress of clients and their inability to serve all of the needs of all of those who contacted them. Since that time, we have had many more months in lockdown, more family breakdowns, and more practitioners unable to cope and leaving or significantly cutting back their workloads leaving many without support.
When vaccine mandates were announced and people were faced with the coercive nature of ‘no jab, no job’ I saw distress that I have never witnessed before among more people than I could have imagined. Practitioners and my generalist clients alike, some of whom have vaccinated under extreme pressure and some of whom are not vaccinating and now closing their practices or losing their jobs have experienced this latest impact on their lives in devastating ways. I have grave concerns for how long it will take our society to recover from the emotional trauma of this time, which has been greatly exacerbated by a government that has worked to instil fear and hopelessness in people while significantly disadvantaging those least able to have genuine choice, those who live payday to payday.
The last two weeks alone, among others, I have provided counsel to:
- Two General Practitioners who have chosen not to vaccinate and are faced with leaving the professions within which they have a total of more than 40 years of service and experience.
- Four police officers who have served a combined total of 49 years in the police force and are now facing termination for not vaccinating.
- Three nurses and a paramedic who have given a combined total of 62 years of service. Three of them will be terminated and one will now leave her job after what she calls ‘caving to their bloody jab.. now how can I trust any of them again.. I just can’t do it anymore.’
- 7 people in the manufacturing sector, 2 of whom were in tears in my office the day before having what they referred to as the forced jab or they would lose their homes and likely their wives and kids. 2 had vaccinated in the previous days and felt betrayed and devastated that they’d been forced into such a position, and three who were being terminated for no jab.
- Numerous parents who are furious that their very young children are being told to wear masks at school, some of whom are at the point of taking their children from school in fear of what will happen to them next.
It is not my job to add to the coercion of the State to force my clients into vaccination, but to enable them to make their own best decision based on their own health priorities and social and professional circumstances. This has been the hardest work of my life as it is very difficult to help such people find hope in a future in this State when they are not even able to consider other job opportunities as all workers are now mandated.
Of course for me, an added challenge is knowing that I too will be forced to close my doors to face to face client work next week as I elect not to vaccinate at this time. This will leave hundreds without support every year, both those I see individually and through the many support groups I run that assist people through crises and trauma.
I also know of colleagues, and friends and of others my clients have spoken of who will be leaving healthcare and education rather than lose what they see as the last vestiges of freedom they have, that is control of their own bodies. After more than a year of having their movements restricted, their work and education controlled and even their ability to be with, and care for loved ones curtailed, they will not now give up this one last thing. I don’t blame them.
This simply cannot continue. People’s lives and livelihoods are being destroyed and the repair work is going to take a very long time. We must end the State of Emergency. We must restore people’s dignity, and put services in place to rebuild people’s emotional lives and relationships. This is an urgent situation, especially now with directives that will also harm our children with mandates to wear masks. Anxious children will have limited services when their mental and emotional health deteriorates in the face of such irresponsible and harmful requirements.
I implore you to please not support any ongoing State of Emergency. Consider all the families who do not have the resources that you have to maintain their jobs or to even have the community or family supports they need to get through these difficult times. Let us all have genuine hope that we can truly be free to live productive lives with the connections and contact we so desperately need for our wellbeing.