Update 12 May
Success in smashing the coronavirus is not just being able to say ‘no new cases’. We’re only winning when the livelihoods of Australians are being restored too.
Today would have been Federal Budget Day, but since the crisis scooted that over to October, we got a ministerial update instead. It was a pretty impressive summary by the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, of a lot of action over the past two months.
The economic picture right now. It’s bad.
Globally, this economic recession is massive. The 2009 global recession contracted the world economy by 0.1%. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) predicts this recession to contract it by … wait for it … 3%.
To give an example of how it’s impacted some of the world so far:
- China experienced its first quarterly fall of GDP on record – 9.8%
- Italy, France and Spain have also had their largest drop in GDP ever.
- The US has processed 33 million jobless claims in the last 7 weeks, and has an unemployment level of 14.7%
Australia is also expecting its largest fall in GDP ever, of 10%. That’s a $50 billion drop in what the country usually produces.
Snapshot into the near future?
You’ll probably see about 1.4 million unemployed Australians hanging about, all much more cautious about money. Which means they’ll be buying 16% less stuff for their homes, holding back on business and housing investments (18% less), and only buying half the usual amount of new cars. So all those industries experience the knock-on effect.
Restrictions have halved the number of job ads going out, and travel is down by 97%. Here’s a reality check – on Easter Sunday last year there were 40,000 air travellers; this year there were 31. As would be expected, accommodation and food services have sustained the most job losses.
So then what happens?
As most of you know by now, the Government provided some essential lifelines, and Josh Frydenberg outlined those nicely today. You’ll find a neat list in my blog on 8 April 2020 or in his speech.
The scale is huge. If you like the numbers:
- 5.5 million Australians are now on JobKeeper (6 million was the predicted number) via the 835,000+ businesses that enrolled
- More than a million people have needed support through JobSeeker
- 3 million people have requested early release of their superannuation, amounting to $10.6 billion
- 11,000 businesses have accessed $1 billion through the loan guarantee scheme via their banks.
- 450,000 small and medium sized businesses have received over $8 billion through the cash flow boost
Maybe all this spending is not SO bad if you consider that for the first time in 11 years, Australia had returned from a debt of $48.5 billion to a surplus. Of course that ship has now sailed, but it has saved many livelihoods.
Now, growing the economy and enhancing productivity is the way we recover from the big spend.
And Now for the Good News
ScoMo’s 3-step plan for the road to economic recovery allows for the possibility that on its completion, 850,000 workers should have their jobs back. Break it down further – 250,000 people could go back to work in the next month.
The GDP is expected to increase by $9.4 billion with each completed step. Makes sense when you think about it. As shops open, people spend more. As cafes and restaurants open, supply chains from the agricultural sector are supported again. As groups are allowed to gather outdoors, sport clubs and fitness companies can pick up again. As parks are opened and more travel is allowed, holiday destinations will have visitors again.
Here’s the clincher
During full restrictions, the economy was losing $4 billion a week. We could recover significantly if we progress through the 3 step plan as hoped. BUT we have to stick to all the health advice of social distancing and hygiene, and of course, having our COVIDSafe app on. If restrictions have to increase because the virus gets out of control again, the economy suffers. And a healthy economy is what funds healthcare, education and other essential services.
The 4 million mark of COVID-19 cases was reached yesterday.
- There have been 278 892 deaths worldwide
- There were 88 891 new cases yesterday
- There have been 6948 cases of COVID-19 in total
- 89% of cases (6179 people) have recovered
- Sadly, there have been 97 deaths
- 16 people are currently in ICU
Hope Over Fear
Did you know that handwashing for health is as old as the profession of nursing?
Today is International Nurses Day.
It’s the day Florence Nightingale was born, and she was the one who first figured out that handwashing saves lives.
Across the world, nurses are heroes of the battle against COVID-19, providing care to the most vulnerable. Right now in Australia there are 390,000 registered nurses. Their work is not only the high-stress care on the frontlines. Nurses also manage infection control in aged care, provide rehabilitation for substance abusers, lead multidisciplinary teams, help with research and care for those at the end of their lives.
More are joining this workforce. To increase Australia’s health care capacity in ICUs, 20,000 new online education places were recently funded by the Federal Government. In March, a refresher course was also offered to Registered Nurses who want to re-join the workforce. 5000 nurses expressed interest, and all 3000 places were filled. Just shows that nurses are the kind of people who like to help.
Today Minister Greg Hunt said we “should stand as one and applaud our amazing nurses”.
I agree. How about cheering on a nurse that you know today? Or do what the Australian College of Nursing suggests – honour nurses by doing something for your own physical and mental health wellbeing.
Nike Honours Healthcare Workers
In honour of all healthcare workers around the globe, Nike produced a unique shoe designed to be easy to clean, and to provide walking support for 12-hour shifts with less than an hour of sitting time. They’ve donated 30,000 pairs to hospitals in the US and 2,500 pairs in Europe.
Your Tip for Today
Support, Not Suicide
While there is a map of the road out of Australia’s economic crisis, the reality is that some are desperate right now. The Australian Medical Association has praised the National Cabinet for its support of mental health services. Despite this, they recognise that in addition to the 3000 lives that are tragically lost through suicide each year, an additional 750 – 1500 suicides are anticipated due to the COVID-19 crisis. A surge in youth suicide in particular is likely.
It may come as a surprise that at least 15% of suicide deaths are not connected with an established history of mental health concerns (the other 75% is). Suicide is usually the result of multiple factors causing feelings of hopelessness and high stress. Job loss and money problems are on that list. Unemployed males are 4.6 times more likely to suicide than employed males. Small to medium sized business owners, contractors and workers with no paid sick leave are less likely to take time off to care for their physical and mental wellbeing, so they have worse health outcomes overall.
What will help?
- Well-timed interventions are important for reducing the impact of stress
- Easy access to mental health services
- Connectedness with family and individuals
- Connection with community and social institutions (like churches, clubs and social groups)
For anyone experiencing the hopelessness or stress of unemployment or financial trouble, here are some 24 hour crisis support services you can reach out to:
Phone 13 11 14 or Crisis Support Chat
Suicide Call Back Service
Phone 1300 659 467 or online counselling
Phone 1800 551 800 or WebChat counselling
Mens Line Australia
Phone 1300 789 978 or online counselling
Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling
Phone 1800 011 046 or visit their website
Qlife – LGBTI peer support and referral
Phone 1800 184 527 or webchat 3pm to midnight daily
What About You?
- Is your employer starting to talk about getting you back to work yet?
- Do you know a health worker you can cheer on?
- Have you downloaded the COVIDSafe app?
I’d love to hear your stories.
Ministerial Statement on the Economy – 12 May
WHO situation report – 11 May
Department of Health stats – 12 May
Federal Minister for Health on International Nurses Day – 12 May
Federal Minister for Health on 3000 nurses re-enrolled – 7 May
Australian College of Nurses, Nurses We Celebrate You – 12 May
Nike designs and donates shoe for healthcare workers
Australian Medical Association Joint Statement – Suicide & Mental Illness – 7 May
Turning Points: Imagine a World Without Suicide (Sept 2019)