Our students need specialised assistance

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Our students need specialised assistance

I am a teacher who works with traumatised students. School students have suffered immense psychological harm from repeated lockdowns and the spectre of COVID-19 hanging over their formative years. Schools need the resources so they can help them to recover. The solution being pushed by Coalition MPs is more funding for school chaplains (The Age, 1/09).

Students need qualified professionals, such as psychologists, and schools need to put all staff through specialised programs, such as Berry Street’ s Trauma Informed Positive Education. They also need to adjust the curriculum so they can implement these strategies.

Most school chaplains have limited counselling training and are not able to address the needs of the students. Of course, it is the cheapest option available and will appeal to Scott Morrison’s world view and ideological fixation. It will do nothing to help students who will carry the unmanaged trauma through their schools years and into adulthood.
Rohan Wightman, Muckleford

Relax, the kids will be all right if they’re at home

People whining about the impact of lockdown on children with no childcare need to be reminded that it was not so long ago that there were not these options and children were home with their mothers. Unsurprisingly, they did not suffer from this experience. My husband grew up on a farm and did not interact with other children until he was five and worked out surprisingly well. This is not the situation anyone wants, but is no worse than the toll on doctors, nurses, paramedics and many others.
Susan Simpson, Surrey Hills

Damage to children from laissez-faire governments

Chris Uhlmann (Opinion, 1/9) says “the mental health catastrophe is not a product of the disease, it was decreed by government” and “on the balance of risk, all the evidence, so far, points to the fact children are facing far greater harm from their governments imprisoning them than they will from the disease”.

Perhaps he could have a look at what happens when the virus hits unvaccinated populations with laissez-faire governments. How many children lose their parents, family members and communities? Perhaps he could describe the present and probable mental health effects on these children together with the economic consequences.
None of us like lockdowns. The simplistic anti-lockdown stance is counter-productive and does nothing to identify what governments and communities can and should do to best support the distressed children and adults in our largely unvaccinated society.
Margaret Arblaster, Malvern

Letting them make their own fun, without parents

There seems to be a strong concept that children have to be entertained during restrictions. A a child, I was not entertained, and I am sure my contemporaries were not either, as polio and other viruses raged. With few books, and no computers, phones or PlayStations, we played and invented daily – that is why I have been a creative person in my life. It has been a great pleasure to see children climbing trees, making cubby houses out of fallen branches and enjoying other fun activities in our local park. During lockdowns, playgrounds seem to be more of a support for parents than for children.
Ron Reynolds, Templestowe

Our primary students need to be back at school

Thank you, Liam Mannix, for your considered article (The Age, 31/8). It is a low risk to send primary children back to school but an enormous benefit for their wellbeing, and it takes the pressure off parents who are working.
Peter Hendrickson, East Melbourne

An unfair risk to teachers if schools re-open

Liam Mannix says school-aged children are unlikely to be seriously affected by COVID-19. However, teachers are much more likely to experience serious problems if they contract the virus. Schools are workplaces and employers are required by law to provide safe workplaces for their employees.
Anthony Hitchman, St Andrews


The poor need the vaccine

We should be very concerned about our federal government’s “vaccine swap” with Singapore (The Age, 31/8). How is it OK for a country with low COVID-19 numbers, a very low COVID-19 death rate, an excellent health system and a high vaccination rate to take extra vaccine when nearby neighbours have the exact opposite? I guess that an Indonesian life is not worth as much as an Australian life.

This is another shameful example of First World countries valuing the comfort of their citizens about the very survival of citizens of Third World countries.
Our federal government slashes foreign aid and there is hardly a whimper. Indeed, there is tacit acceptance that this is necessary to “balance the books”. Well, if we need to balance the budget on the backs of the poorest people on the planet, we really are morally bankrupt.
Con Differding, Torquay

Seeking more details

We are well-informed each day about the number of COVID-19 tests, cases detected and locations of infection sites. We are also informed about the number of deaths (usually in NSW) but are not always informed of the proportion of new deaths of people who are not fully vaccinated. Could we please have this information too?
Basil Jenkins, South Yarra

Restriction contradiction

Recently I moved into a new apartment and I am trying to have my television set up and mounted on a wall. No, I cannot get a technician to do this because of COVID-19 restrictions. I called a large, electrical retailer and a salesman advised me that if I buy a new television and bracket, they can deliver and install it, “absolutely no problem”.

So what is the drama about getting a tradie in to do exactly the same job? Similarly, I cannot get anyone to install blinds but I can have a gas lift bed delivered and assembled. It does not make sense.
Carole Ruta, Cheltenham

Some short drives, please

Please, Premier, can we be allowed to teach our kids to drive? With lockdown there are fewer cars on the roads and our kids need plenty of practice to keep them safe.
Jason McCutcheon, Malvern East

Let our premiers lead

It is just white noise. Let’s get there first. Until we actually reach that level of vaccination across our nation (urban, rural and remote), posturing and pressuring the state and territories is a politically motivated diversion tactic. Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian need to deal with their own problems and let our state leaders, lead.
Virginia Harding, Aireys Inlet

Is it ‘no plan Michael’?

How deliciously and comically ironic that Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien should be heading an advertising campaign titled “No Plan Dan”. Who has been the political leader consistently without any idea of a plan?
Ross Corben, Merton

Ease more restrictions

Surely we now realise that zero cases is not possible or realistic and it is time for selective relaxation of current restrictions. Why can’t my local gym open now with only vaccinated people and staff able to attend? Keep the numbers to a maximum of 20 at any one time if you like. Surely that is safer than waiting until we get to 70per cent vaccinated and then just letting anybody attend?
Neale Meagher, Malvern

Focus on joys of spring

It is time for your correspondents to move on from complaining about people not following COVID-19 rules. It is spring and the days are getting longer and warmer, so enjoy the sunshine, trees in blossom and flowers in gardens, and smell the roses.
Lindsay Cooper, Brighton East

Protect all our rights

Re “It’s a health and safety issue, it’s not apartheid” (Letter, 31/8). Amnesty International supports measures that protect the right to health and recognises rights need to be balanced – public health orders can override other liberties if they are necessary and proportionate. Yet over the past 18 months, we have seen countless examples of severe and, in many cases, unnecessary state overreach around the world in the name of protecting public health.

If this government wants to implement a vaccine passport, it must not trample on the rights of the vulnerable, but instead protect our rights and chart a course out of this pandemic which has affected us all so dramatically.

While Australia remains without substantial human rights protections, this balancing of rights and freedoms will continue to be unclear. This is a key reason why Australia desperately needs a Human Rights Act.
Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International Australia

Let’s not get complacent

I cannot help wondering if that light at the end of the tunnel that everyone is talking about is actually an express train called COVID-19 roaring towards us.
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights

Living my life, my way

There is no denying that the pandemic is a tragic nightmare. But at a personal level there is some compensation. I can over-indulge in chocolate without anyone knowing and I can have a second helping of my wife’s excellent apple pie.

It is also possible to avoid showering every day and not to take so much trouble with shaving. I know what you’re thinking: “Keep your distance from that self-indulgent, old man from the eastern suburbs”. During lockdown, that is not such a bad idea either.
Ken Barnes, Glen Iris

Taking responsibility

Your correspondent says Toby Greene “may well be guilty as charged but the onus lay squarely with Greater Western Sydney for their failure to educate and discipline him to ’pull his head in‴⁣⁣ (Letters, 1/9).

As a teacher of adolescents in Victoria for 40 years, I can attest that one can “teach” very well indeed, but that students have to be willing to “learn” and then apply that knowledge.

Greene is an adult who made a decision to act as he did – show reprehensible behaviour towards an umpire. No one at the club taught him to do that. To imply that others are also responsible only encourages Greene, and others, to abrogate individual responsibility at every opportunity.
Denise Butler, Cobden

Penalising the needy

Re “Harvey Norman’s JobKeeper refund revives scrutiny calls” (Business, 1/9). The saying “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer” seems to be the case when it comes to JobKeeper. According to this article, “Services Australia told Senate Estimates in early August that more than 11,000 people had a debt notice sent to them following a review of their government support and JobKeeper payments”. Again those in greater need are penalised, whilst businesses are given the option of repaying what was not theirs to keep in the first place. It seems a repeat of the robodebt debacle.
Jane Taylor, Newport

Giving back, ethically

Can’t we just say “thank you” without demanding explanation of the motives of business heads who repay JobKeeper? Maybe it is good for their image – so what? Maybe there is a tax advantage. Maybe some are just making an ethical decision. Not all successful business people are the ruthless villains of fiction; some are just decent people who have done well.
Colette Jewell, Traralgon

All power to Rooney

Thanks, Julie Szego, for your comment on Age reviewer Jessie Tu’s “shredding” of Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People – “Colour equation doesn’t add up” (Opinion, 1/8). When I read Tu’s piece, I started to think she and I had read different books and that she was talking about some other country, not Ireland. For me, Normal People was a standout read of 2018
Frances Baker, Beechworth

A question of tokenism

Thanks, Julia Szego, for pointing out what should have been blindingly obvious – literature is more than simply counting how many people of colour are mentioned in a work. And in a country like Ireland, including the odd character of colour is simply, as you point out, tokenism. After all, Othello only had one black person as far as I recall. Jessie Tu, are you taking notes?
Chris O’Connor, Yarraville

A new call to arms

If we can no longer rely on the United States to keep trouble at bay – “Holding the middle ground” (Opinion, 31/8) – brace yourselves for Defence Minister Peter Dutton and others within the government pushing hard to spend billions more on weapons and equipment that will be absolutely useless if a major power decides it wants to take over Australia. Money that, of course, should instead be used to support the more vulnerable and less wealthy in our community.
David Parker, Geelong West

Focusing on the UN

Peter Hartcher mourns the passing of the US’ time as self-appointed world policeman. We could just wait for some upstart nation to take the job, or we could make an effort, for the first time, to make the United Nations work as it was originally intended to.
Tony Haydon, Springvale


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Recurring lockdowns, restrictions, curfews. How tiring. I’ve got the Delta Blues.
Harry Kowalski, Ivanhoe

Stylish leggings, fake Bulgari sunglasses, masks dangling on wrists, coffee cups. Just another walk in the park near my home.
Mary Mandanici, West Preston

Premier, please let the barbers go back to work. I look like the wild man from Borneo.
Geoff Combe, Cheltenham

So glad we didn’t learn to live with polio.
Angela Thomas, Ringwood

Not only have we got the Prime Minister for NSW but now we have the Premier for Australia.
Russell Woodley, West Footscray

Only 15 days to go to the vaccination deadline for workers in residential aged care. Colbeck had better get a move on.
Margaret Sullivan, Caulfield North

In Australia a 12-year-old will soon qualify for a Pfizer vaccine. In Israel, that vaccine is a booster.
Dr Anita White, Kew


Sad to have silence in September at the MCG. Bliss not to have noise in November at Albert Park.
Bronwen Murdoch, South Melbourne

If the AFL appeals Greene’s penalty, it will show umpires their employer doesn’t respect them.
Bruce Dudon, Woodend

It’s not easy being Green(e).
Peter Johns, Sorrento

Is there any chance Kyrgios could bring forward his retirement?
Ricky Dennis, Murrumbeena

GF: Everyone is in ore of WA.
Steve Haylock, Mount Waverley


Miners’ profits (1/9) go into miners’ pockets.
Terry Malone, Warburton

I still won’t be lining Gerry Harvey’s pockets with my money.
Philip West, Jan Juc

Yesterday was Wattle Day. It should also have been Australia Day.
Bob Greaves, Mount Eliza

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