Tuesday, 31 August 2021
Within the community the consensus is clear: the children need to go back to school. In the quiet, deserted streets of Melbourne there are no conversations and no people meeting. Through telephone calls and zoom calls I'm told all the conversation is almost always the same. Parents, doctors and teachers are all concerned. Recent reports indicate that in my home state of Victoria more than 340 teenagers a week are ending up in the hospital with mental health emergencies—an 83 per cent rise on last year and a 162 per cent increase from 2019. Anyone will tell you that these figures are truly horrific. It's a clear indication of the negative effects of the 212 days of the Andrews government's lockdowns.
While battling one health pandemic it is essential that we do not create another one. Return to school can only be achieved with safety at front of mind. What is occurring right now is simply untenable. Our young people need to go back to school. Once all school staff members are vaccinated there would be no reason this could not happen.
Our wonderful, highly educated teachers know that social interaction is a fundamental prerequisite for learning. Many years of research make it clear that social cohesion is essential for educational and cultural assimilation, especially in the formative years. These teachers want face-to-face teaching because they know it is best for the children. Parents want it because they can see that their children need it.
The so-called shadow epidemic is anything but. There are so many people on social media talking about how it's affecting their families. Doctors have been on radio and in the newspapers. These children need a childhood. They need something to look forward to. They need to go back to school.