Update for 15 April
Redeploying the Unemployed
If you were thinking of changing careers, now might be the right time.
There are national shortages of workers who are helping Australia’s response to COVID-19. Yesterday, Federal Minister Dan Tehan announced that studying is being encouraged to increase the availability of workers in these fields. Beginning in May, university fees for certain courses will be cut by up to 75% to encourage enrolment. Short certification courses will include the vocational fields of teaching, nursing, allied health, agriculture and science.
The Minister confirmed that more information is coming as to the exact courses being offered, along with a central help line for enquiries. In the interim people can contact universities for more information.
Cushioning the Blow of Rising Unemployment
Australia’s 5% unemployment rate pre-pandemic has now climbed into double digits, echoing the 10% unemployment rate when Australia navigated the global recession.
[CORRECTION 17 April: Unemployment rate has only risen to 5.2% at this stage, but is predicted to rise to double figures. Source:
The $200 billion JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs will do much to cushion the blow of unemployment for some 6 million Australians. A hopeful theory is that while the depths of this crisis will be worse than that of the global recession, the journey up and out of it will be much faster, as people resume jobs that are being held for them. Government measures should mean that struggling or closed businesses should not have to go into receivership or be chased down by creditors when the pandemic subsides.
Don’t Forget JobsHub
This online tool enables job seekers to find employers offerering multiple job opportunities, or employers within specific geographical locations. Charts give a good indication of needed workers in the current climate.
Click here to check out your options – https://www.dese.gov.au/covid-19/jobs-hub
Charity Begins at Home
In Australia, there are those not eligible for government benefits, who are now living on the bread line. Foodbank reported that approximately 1 million people are in need of food basics to feed their families.
Federal Minister for Social Services, Anne Ruston, announced yesterday that $200 million will be provided to the charity sector, particularly emergency and food relief, to help those on the fringes of society. She acknowledged that food providers in particular have been hit with a triple whammy – fundraising is more difficult, many older volunteers can’t come to work, and supply chains have been impacted with a 27% reduction in stock they can buy.
192 existing Commonwealth organisations have been selected to receive the funding. These include organisations like the Salvos, Vinnies, Anglicare, Uniting Care, Foodbank, Oz Harvest and Red Cross.
A further $20 million will be spent on financial counselling services like National Debt Helpline, Money Support Hubs and Problem Gambling for those needing advice and support in the economic downturn.
Remembering the World’s Poor
Despite the disappointing news of President Donald Trump pulling US funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the remainder of the G20 countries continue in solidarity. Funds go towards essential work for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, who are hit the hardest during crisis.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, reported that in Africa, health workers often fall victim to infectious diseases, or even die, because they lack sufficient protective equipment and that, “This is unacceptable.”
With commercial flights grounded, medical supplies in African depots are ready for distribution, but remain stationary. Supplies include face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks, medical aprons and thermometers, ventilators and lab equipment for testing and tracing.
Thanks to the UN’s World Food Programme which is helping by using their aircraft and air bridges, the first ‘Solidarity Flight’ left from Addis Ababa yesterday. This forms part of a larger plan to reach 95 countries in Africa. The plan will enable treatment of more than 30,000 patients, saving lives in the countries that have the weakest health systems. The planes will also carry frontline health and humanitarian workers.
Which age group of Australians holds the highest number of COVID-19 cases?
(Hint: It’s different for males and females.)
Scroll down for the answer.
- There have been 6,416 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with only one death in the last 24 hours. Sadly, 62 people have now died.
- More than half of those who have been affected have now recovered.
- 1844,863 confirmed cases
- 117,021 deaths
Hope Over Fear
Faster diagnostic tool – all doctors need is internet access
Professor Patrick Brennan, a diagnostic imaging specialist at the University of Sydney, heard the call for help in response to COVID-19, and has shifted development of a unique online diagnosis improvement tool from screening for breast cancer to screening for COVID-19.
A CT scan of the lungs is one way COVID-19 can be diagnosed. But it’s not foolproof, as other diseases can give similar appearances of ‘ground glass’ in the lung. That means skilled doctors are needed to diagnose from scans, but the number of suffering patients now far outnumbers these doctors who can make accurate diagnoses.
The new tool, DetectED-X, is an online platform that helps to analyse CT scans. Using artificial intelligence and algorithms it can recognise the appearance of COVID-19 more rapidly.
The implications for the world are huge. Here’s why:
- Diagnosis of COVID-19 just got faster and more accurate.
- Junior doctors can now make the diagnosis.
- Because the only requirement is an internet connection, it is available worldwide. 77 countries were using it at the last count.
- In a move of global solidarity it’s been made available at no cost. That means that it will help greatly in developing countries where radiologists may be in very short supply.
- Earlier and better diagnosis will reduce the load on healthcare systems and save lives.
Your Tip for Today
Not a frontline worker? There are still many ways you can help your community. Here are some ideas:
- If you are well, check in on your neighbours and people in your local community, taking into account social distancing and good hygiene. This could be as simple as a note in their letterbox.
- VisitGo Volunteer for volunteer opportunities that are currently available, both related to COVID-19 and for organisations who may have a shortage of volunteers due to COVID-19
- Give blood if you can. Our friends at Red Cross Lifeblood have taken necessary steps to ensure donor centres are safe.
- Adopt a healthcare worker. Do you know anyone who is working particularly hard in the COVID-19 response? Ask what you can do to help them. You’ll find a Facebook group here with some ideas.
- Donate to a local charity that is helping with the response to COVID-19. They could probably really use that help.
- Be a changemaker. Team up with others who are passionate about the causes you care about. Change starts with people working together.
If you are aged 29 and under, join the Red Cross’snew youth network, RedxYouth. Members get to decide the big humanitarian issues they want to tackle and how.
- Help charities share their messages by sharing them on your social media platforms. Bonus points: put a reminder on your phone to do this once a week.
What About You?
I’d love to hear your stories.
- Would you consider changing vocation in this time?
- What ways have you found to help those in your community?
Drop me a comment below.
Answer to trivia question:
Females aged 20-29 have the highest incidence of contracting the virus, and for males it’s the 60-69 age category.
Prime Minister interview on the Today show – 14 April
Federal Minister Dan Tehan on discounted university courses – 14 April
WHO – First UN Solidary Flight – 14 April
Paul Murray (Sky News) podcast – PM in the AM – 14 April
Anne Ruston – Federal Minister for Families and Social Services on charity funding – 11 April
University of Sydney – World-first tool to improve COVID-19 diagnosis
ABC Interview with Prof Brennan on new diagnostic tool
Ways to Help
Global Citizen – 6 Ways You Can Help Your Community Respond to Coronavirus
Red Cross – Make a Difference