COVID – 19 in Victoria, Australia

Sr. Julianna Drobik O.P.
Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands.

When COVID – 19 broke out in Wuhan in January it took time for most Australians to absorb the emerging pandemic crisis. It was not until the rising cases in Europe followed by the US that the enormity of this global crisis began to impact on Australians in March. A national lockdown was put in place. Our prime Minister declared “We are all in this together”. Australians like the rest of the world was thrown into a new “norm” working from home, physical distancing, restricted contact outside the home, remote learning and finding ways to reach out to each other. There was a feeling across the country that we were in this together. In the beginning, sisters, families, friends and colleagues reached out to one another.

As COVID cases were on the increase particularly in the state of Victoria, stricter measures were enforced, state and regional borders were closed and the message ‘we are all in this together’ changed to state government leaders exercising their power. Protectionism’ became the new norm. Sadly, closed borders between states and rural areas and cities became politicised with highly charged rhetoric from government and business leaders blame gaming poor management and decision making. Victorians having lived through the longest lockdown were struck with a second wave only to return, after a brief reprieve, to a more stringent lockdown, isolation from loved ones and increased uncertainty for their futures.

I am one of 8 Dominican sisters, (all in the vulnerable age group) living in Victoria. Community prayer and life together has been put ‘on hold’ for the past six months. Easter and Dominican celebrations for St Catherine and St Dominic’s day have been celebrated alone. Masked up for a front door visit has been all that we have managed with sisters within our 5 km radius limit. Visits to sisters in aged care facilities have been ‘out of bounds’. The experiences of living through the pandemic in Australia are not the same. What have we learnt from living through this extended lockdown in Victoria about ourselves and what have we learnt about being Dominican community for one another near and far?

I am mindful that many of our Dominican sisters and brothers around the world have and are suffering in ways we know not. Be assured you are not forgotten in prayer.

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