Date published: 
10 September 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

LISA MILLAR:

The COVID crisis is playing on the minds of so many this year. So let's delve into that further and bring in one of the Federal Government's Deputy Chief Health Officers, Ruth Vine. Good morning, Ruth. Welcome to Breakfast.

RUTH VINE:

Good morning, Lisa.

LISA MILLAR:

It's not only R U OK? Day, it's also World Suicide Prevention Day, and we were speaking to the former prime minister, Julia Gillard, about that before. You're actually coming to us from Melbourne so you know what life is like here, but gosh, coronavirus has really changed the landscape for a lot of people and their mental health, hasn't it?

RUTH VINE:

It has. I mean, 2020 has. I was thinking about this just earlier today that 2020 has just been a year like absolutely no other - I'm not quite sure where it's gone but you think about so many things that haven't happened, I'm sure many people haven't had holidays, there hasn't been a snow season, and we just heard just before of the terrible negative impact it's had on many people's aspirations and current businesses. And so for people to maintain that hope and realise- and just to keep reminding ourselves that there is a reason why we are doing this, that there's a need for solidarity. and a need to look beyond this remains incredibly important to keep our- you know, keep that sort of sense of forward projection and hope in the future.

LISA MILLAR:

What's being done to make sure that we are looking after people?

RUTH VINE:

It's a- firstly, this is a very multilayered thing. So there are very broad things, like some of the economic supports that we know about - JobKeeper, JobSeeker. I think you- it was in the media this morning, I think, that Lifeline has had an enormous increase in the number of calls. Well, in order for them to meet that they also needed to have increased capability and increased capacity, so there'd been additional funding provided to help lines like Lifeline, and Beyondblue, and Kids Helpline and others - so there's been that. There's also been increased funding to enable people to access more services through Medicare for those people who are in deep distress and who really do need professional assistance, so for people to be able to have longer support and more support. And of course we've seen a massive shift in where and how health services, including mental services, are delivered. So I think there's also been supports provided through education, through and Headspace, to reach younger people who, in many ways, have found this time more difficult and more challenging than their parents or older people…

LISA MILLAR:

Yeah.

RUTH VINE:

…. although I think just about every group has some areas of vulnerability.

LISA MILLAR:

I think you are probably right there. There's been a lot of debate over the impact of the curfew, pressure on the Premier to drop it. Greg Hunt, the Health Minister, saying well - as Brett Sutton admitted yesterday - that there wasn't- or the day before, that there wasn't a health imperative to having the curfew. What should happen with it?

RUTH VINE:

This is an interesting one, isn't it? I mean I think- we have heard through this pandemic, and we've seen just how important health advice has been, and we've seen again, all layers of government heeding and responding to that health advice. But health advice, I have to say, is only one part of what we're going through with the impact on other resources - on the Defence Force, on police, on others also needs to be factored in. And I think there's probably been deep consideration given to how those resources are being deployed in our- among our leaders.

LISA MILLAR:

The numbers we've received just in the last couple of minutes while you were waiting to come on air, 51 cases today in Victoria. When are we going to start dropping below that 50 mark on a regular basis?

RUTH VINE:

Lisa, I'm hanging out for that as much as anybody as I sit here in Melbourne. The trajectory does seem to be heading in the right direction. I think it's become part of our normal day-to-day life that we do pay heed to distancing, we do pay heed to minimising our interaction. Clearly we're all champing at the bit to be able to go beyond 5ks and do other things But- so I do think we need to hold the course, I do think we've had that explained to us, and I also think that - coming back to the mental health impacts of that - we need to keep reminding ourselves and each other how to live in this way which is of course to try and maintain our social connectedness, to exercise, to structure our day, to give ourselves small pleasures along the way, and especially a reminder today to reach out to others who might be more isolated and who might well be struggling.

LISA MILLAR:

All right. Ruth Vine, thank you very much for joining us.

RUTH VINE:

And thank you.

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