By Brendan Nottle
It started with ones and twos, which eventually became a trickle. Within a few days, it had become a human deluge.
They were people, many young, some attempting to support their families, many just trying to survive, who had been suddenly stood down at the beginning of lockdown 4.0. Many of them worked in the hospitality sector and through absolutely no fault of their own, they were stood down without pay. As their income ground to a sudden halt, their costs didn’t. Rent, utility bills, and in some cases, medical costs, continued to flow.
People in this group were calling us and coming to our Bourke St centre, so our already stretched resources were stretched even further.
This invisible group barely rated a mention in the millions of words that were written and spoken in the media about lockdown 4.0.
However, their plight was becoming increasingly desperate – both physically and mentally.
We knew that we had to respond urgently. Waiting for the outcome of government funding applications was not going to cut it. So, we put the word out through social media about the desperate plight of this invisible group.
The great thing about Melbourne is that when one invisible group suffers, many other invisible individuals and groups quietly put their hand up to help. This may come in the form of that hand being placed in their pocket with financial help being offered. Or it could come in the form of an outstretched hand providing much-needed voluntary assistance.
Coles came to the party with 2000 frozen meals being offered. The catering staff at Parliament House provided additional meals as well. Budget Car Rental provided freezer vans to assist with the safe delivery of the meals. Literally thousands of meals were delivered in a few days to casual workers that had been stood down. More importantly, the invisible casual workers had been reminded that an invisible army had stood with them during lockdown 4.0 and reminded them that they were not forgotten. As we head into a cold Melbourne winter with all of the uncertainty of whether there will be further COVID-19 outbreaks, let us never forget the invisible who often fall through the gaps and suffer in silence.
Let us also remember the invisible individuals and groups in Melbourne that quietly step up, without fanfare, to care for the forgotten •