Thursday, 25 March 2021
COVID-19: Healthcare Workers
I cannot be as entertaining as the previous speaker, but I will do my best to recognise the hardworking nurses and medical staff of the Northern Beaches Hospital because, during our lockdown over Christmas and New Year—when we saved Christmas for the people of Horsley Park and New Year for the people of Australia—when we needed these people most, the nurses and doctors of the Northern Beaches Hospital and Mona Vale Hospital stepped up to the challenge posed by COVID-19.
At the best of times working in health care is one of the most difficult professions. During a global pandemic it is almost unbearable. Yet throughout 2020 and 2021 we on the Northern Beaches could not be more grateful to our health professionals. There was no rulebook on how to handle the mass influx of pandemic patients, yet despite the risks posed to themselves and their families, they persevered through some of the most trying conditions that our hospitals have ever had to face. The crisis was truly unprecedented. The reason we are now in such a strong position and can meet with our family and friends once again is their capacity to respond to the pandemic. Their level of selflessness was exemplary and quite literally saved lives. Businesses today are open, unemployment is falling, and our economy is growing again, only because of the work of our doctors and nurses.
Mona Vale and Northern Beaches hospitals are the reasons why we now have freedom of movement once again. It's often forgotten that our society is underpinned by the hard work of those in our health-care system; that whether you are a young professional, a retiree, a student or a small business owner, we all rely on our hospitals during our most vulnerable moments. In many ways the pandemic reminded us of the timeless truth that the health and wellbeing of our community rely on those who serve our community, frequently at their own peril.
Whilst the rest of the world continues to suffer, we stand out as one of the only nations that is now operating at something approaching normality. Cases throughout the world and in many countries continue to cause lockdowns, further decimating livelihoods, driving up unemployment and costing the lives of thousands of victims. It will take countries like the United States years to fully recover from the devastation that is unfolding there today. In contrast, we are already experiencing the beginning of our economic recovery. It is ultimately because our health-care professionals were able to act decisively during a time of uncertainty and confusion that enabled us to preserve as a nation through one of the most trying times we have ever had to face. Whilst we will not become complacent, we are the envy of the world as we enjoy our basic freedoms and can reclaim livelihoods lost as a result of the pandemic. As we continue to roll out the vaccine, once again we will be relying on health-care workers to help our community's most vulnerable and those who struggle with existing medical conditions.
I'm also cognisant of the fact that instances of mental health issues amongst our health-care workers have risen because of the increased pressure caused by COVID-19. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of supporting those who have helped us during the pandemic. That is why the government is continuing to increase funding for mental health care providers and emergency support services. It is not only a matter of dealing with emergency situations, but looking at a plan to deal with the long-term fallout from the pandemic. I was particularly proud during the pandemic when I saw businesses give additional support to our doctors and nurses. One of the groups most affected by the pandemic has been those in the health-care profession. We thank them today for all that they have done. They have made our lives better, our nation stronger, and our communities more resilient.