Thursday, 3 June 2021
Today I want to take a moment to give a shout-out to all the parents down in Victoria slogging it out under lockdown to homeschool their kids. As a parent of two wonderful children, I understand the struggles and difficulties of raising kids while managing your career and life. Don't get me wrong, this isn't meant to discourage any prospective parents. Raising my children was one of the most rewarding things I've done in my life but it wasn't always easy. When you throw spontaneous lockdowns into that mix it gets even harder. I've had parents in my electorate come to me and tell me how hard it has been working from home while simultaneously teaching their kids.
Schools are doing their best throughout this time, and they deserve praise too. Adapting to a new situation required them to evolve their curriculum to an online system, which hasn't always been easy. What is unfortunate is that this process hasn't got any easier. Last week, in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19, my home state of Victoria entered into its fourth lockdown. At this stage, Victorians have become experts at handling their lockdowns, but the Andrews government has not seemed to achieve the same level of expertise. Schools were thrust into yet another lockdown and stopped educating schoolkids face to face on orders from the Victorian government. Parents were once again left in the lurch. Instead of full days of education, kids were left with minimal study loads throughout the week. I don't blame the schools for being in this position. They didn't ask for lockdown. Instead I asked the question: why has the Andrews government not put sufficient contingencies in place for schools going back into lockdown when they were aware of this being a possibility?
We were told that the Victorian government had learned from the mistakes of previous lockdowns. We were told that they had dramatically improved their contact-tracing infrastructure. We were lulled into a false sense of security, and now we're all paying the price. I'm thrilled that year 11s and year 12s can return to face-to-face teaching under the latest lockdown announcement, which happened yesterday, but what about those in year 10 or in grade 5? Years 11 and 12 are important years of schooling, of course, but there is so much critical learning that needs to be taught prior to this age, and now children across Victoria have had that right taken away from them for a fourth time.
I want to be clear: the health of Victorians is always and will always be paramount. I will never dispute that. Instead, what I question is why the Andrews government, who were surely more than aware of our exposure to future COVID-19 outbreaks and further lockdowns due to weaknesses in the contact-tracing infrastructure they developed, didn't develop measures to protect the education of our children.
I understand this fourth lockdown has hit Victorians really hard. For those people in Chisholm who are struggling throughout this time, if you need support, please reach out to my office, and we will help you. Our community is always ready to help one another, and I know for a fact that so many great organisations in Chisholm are doing great work to get people through these difficult times.