A GUIDE TO
C VID Self-protection tips and strategies
Issue 01 | May 2022
A Family’s journey with COVID - page 13
Voiceof the GP Tips:
- page 5
Prevention: How transmission works - page 8
Mental Health: What it really means - page 15
Business: A guide for survival - page 19
Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) is a not-for-profit, charitable organisation established in 1996. CMRC is a leader in the provision of specialised support services to newly arrived migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants. CMRC works within a community capacity building framework to encourage individuals and multicultural communities to identify and address their own issues. It works in collaborative partnerships with a great number of agencies to provide services which have both an immediate and long-term benefit for the community. CMRC employs multi-lingual staff who can assist with specialised settlement information and referral to services.
Services provided include: • S ettlement services that assist new arrivals to build self-reliance and integrate into the local community • Youth support services • E mployment and training that assists the target group to understand and access the Australian labour market programs • Social enterprise and career-based opportunities • F amily support initiatives that address some of the social and cultural challenges for new entrants to Australia. •B usiness advice for small business operators from certain target groups •M ulticultural support workers program providing language and cultural assistance to DCJ and Brighter Future service providers • Cultural competency training and consultancy services • Community engagement and urban activation programs
CMRC HEAD OFFICE
OUTREACH OFFICE - RYDE
OUTREACH OFFICE - THE HILLS
Monday - Friday. 9am to 5pm. Level 4, 1 Horwood Place, Parramatta (02) 9687 9901
Shop 3030, Top Ryde City Cnr Devlin St & Blaxland Rd T 02 9858 1925
Community Hub Castle Towers Level 3, 6-14 Castle Street, Castle Hill
2 | Issue 01 | May 2022
Caring, friendly and helpful support for people experiencing all levels of mental health distress, in a calm and welcoming environment.
“I felt very welcomed and supported. I had felt like I had built the rapport with Mental Health Clinician within seconds after meeting her. Finding out I was able to have an option to talk to someone else such as the Peer Support Worker who had lived experience of what I was going through kind of made me feel a lot more calm, relaxed, supported.” Vanessa, Head To Health Participant, Feb 2022
Free Service - No referral needed - No waitlist Visit
29/20 Tucks Rd, Seven Hills
1800 595 212
Available Monday to Friday 8.30 – 5 pm.
The Seven Hills Head to Health Pop Up is a Neami National Service made possible by funding from Western Sydney Primary Health Network.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 3
A GUIDE TO
C VID Self-protection tips and strategies
www.accessnews.com.au www.facebook.com/AccessNewsAustralia/ www.youtube.com/user/AccessNewsAustralia
May 2022 • ISSUE 01 About Us The 2022 Living With Covid Guide was developed by the Community Broadcast Network as a community education project in collaboration with our partners who include:
Risks by behaviour
Life has started to get back to ‘normal’, but what are the continued risks of going about our daily routines? To help assess your own risk, we’ve created a complete list, from lowest to highest risk, so you can make a more informed decision regarding your safety.
Activities Opening the mail | Getting restaurant takeaway | Filling car with fuel | Playing tennis | Going camping Grocery shopping | Going for a walk, run, or bike ride with others | Playing golf | Staying at a hotel for two nights | Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room | Going to a library or museum | Eating in a restaurant (outside) | Walking in a busy downtown | Spending an hour at a playground.
Distribution The Living with COVID Guide is distributed in physical and hard copy. The digital edition is viewable here: www.accessnews.com.au www.parramattatimes.com.au www.greaterblacktownnews.com.au Hard copies are available at GP clinics and pharmacists in Western Sydney plus as an insert to Parramatta Times, Blacktown News and Australia Business Access.
Our Contributors Michael Walls email@example.com Dr Kean-Seng Lim Di Bartok firstname.lastname@example.org
Design and production JuJu Graphics
Having dinner at a friend’s house | Attending a backyard barbecue | Going to a beach | Shopping at a mall | Sending kids to school, camp, or day care | Working a week in an office building | Swimming in a public pool | Visiting an elderly relative or friend in their home to
Going to a hair salon or barbershop | Eating in a restaurant (inside) | Attending a wedding or funeral | Traveling by plane | Playing basketball | Playing football | Hugging or shaking hands when greeting a friend Eating at a buffet | Working out at a gym | Going to an amusement park | Going to a movie theatre Attending a large music concert | Going to a sports stadium | Attending a religious service with 500-plus worshipers | Going to a bar
YourUnderstanding Health C VID Voice of the GP
There are no vitamins or supplements that you can take, which are going to help you reduce your risk of getting COVID, nor of any other virus for that matter. It’s just general health.
Editor Michael Walls sat down with Western Sydney GP, Dr Kean-Seng Lim to explore some common myths and thinking around living with COVID. Michael Walls: I wanted to get a bit of a sense around immunity and COVID. I mean, what we can do to make our bodies more resilient to catching COVID or recovering. Dr Kean-Seng Lim: So that’s an interesting question that one. The bottom line is that COVID is a virus like many other viruses. So, what we would do to try to keep ourselves as healthy and as well as possible is the same as we would for any virus. This starts with our own personal health, which means healthy diet, healthy exercise, healthy weight, try not to smoke, try not to drink too much, and stay as well as possible from a general health perspective. There are no vitamins or particular supplements that you can take, which are going to help you reduce your risk of getting COVID, nor in fact, any other virus for that matter. It’s just general health. So, our best ways to prevent getting COVID are still the same ways that we’ve been talking
about all along, which is wearing masks, which would be highly recommended in any social setting, whether we’re going shopping, to school or visiting people, so wearing masks is still number one. Number two is social distancing. So, this means that when we are in the shops, we should still be watching out for that 1.5 metre distance as much as possible. Michael Walls: And what specifically of social gatherings? Dr Kean-Seng Lim: If we are having social gatherings, we can do them in an environment which has got good air flow and good air turnover, that will also reduce our risks of catching COVID. So, it’s a combination of keeping ourselves healthy, but also trying to be aware of how covid and other illnesses are spread and trying to do our best to avoid catching it, or rather trying to avoid transmitting it and catching it from these airborne masses.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 5
Michael Walls: I heard Dr. Nick Coates on the radio saying that if you’re really being serious about dealing with COVID, you could lose weight, get out go for a walk. Do you subscribe to this thinking?
So, if you should walk into a room where someone before you has COVID and they were not wearing a mask, there is a high probability that there will be a lot of COVID virus floating around in the air.
Dr Kean-Seng Lim: Well, that’s it. Okay. Now this one’s an interesting one, because there’s two elements to this question. The first one is risk of catching, and the second one is of having severe disease. I am not aware that weight increases or decreases your rate of catching COVID, because catching COVID is almost the luck of it, in that, if it’s floating in the air, you’ve got to try to make sure you don’t get it into your lungs. Which is why the masks and social distancing, as well as the high airflow environments are important, and of course vaccination. What we do know is that certain things predispose you to getting more severe COVID, and obesity is definitely one of them, along with poorly controlled diabetes, poorly controlled kidney disease. In fact, any chronic illness is liable to make you more likely to get severe COVID. So, it’s a slightly different question, or rather answer to catching COVID. It’s about how do I stop from getting severely unwell from COVID. And for that one, it is weight. It’s also about making sure that whatever conditions you have are well managed (so that’s asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease), and of course, being vaccinated.
Michael Walls: There seems to be studies done on this all the time, but are the masks very effective? So, in a group, say 250 businesspeople, ten people at a table. Now I know there’s no iron clad rule - but is it very effective, moderately effective?
Michael Walls: To what extent does being fit play in resilience to COVID? There’s no real rule of thumb, is there? Dr Kean-Seng Lim: There isn’t and unfortunately, that’s one of the problems of COVID, which is that there is a certain randomness as to the severity at which you get it. So, while we can say that if you have poorly controlled chronic illnesses and you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to get severe COVID, we can’t say that everyone who is in those categories is going to get severe COVID. The same applies for fitness, the fitter you are, the more likely you are probably not going to come down with severe COVID or not be severely affected, but just as equally because there is a certain randomness, you could be the unlucky one who does get severely unwell.. The best thing still is prevention, which is why I’m going to come back to vaccination, masks, social distancing, and airflow. Michael Walls: So, in terms of it’s in the air, can it linger? For example, if someone came into our house with COVID, can the virus still linger after the person has left? Dr Kean-Seng Lim: Yes. So, this has been another thing about COVID, because the virus has evolved and mutated from the very first version that we saw at the beginning of last year. Hang on, it was the year before now. Beginning of year before last. So, since the very first version, the virus has mutated. The first version did not seem to affect kids, so what we call the Alpha strain did not affect kids as much and did not seem to be as easily airborne. The evolution of the virus means that it’s now affecting kids more, it’s more contagious and it does seem to linger in the air more. The other element is, how much of the virus is in the air. How far can it go through the air and how much is in the air is dependent on a couple of factors. One of them is how much a person aerosolises. So, this means that if someone is singing loudly or is talking loudly, then they are going to project the viral particles more through the air. And the more the particles are in the air, the more it’s likely to linger.
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Dr Kean-Seng Lim: Well at a population level which means that everyone is doing it, the answer is it is actually very effective. And the reason is that masks protect not just against breathing it in, they also protect against projecting the aerosols through the air. So, if everyone’s using masks, that’s when it works best. The situation you described where you might be at a table of ten people and no one was wearing masks, the degree of infection risk in that situation will also depend on how loudly everyone was talking. So, this means, for example, if it’s a very noisy room, everyone’s going to be talking more loudly and they will project and spray aerosols around much more than if it was a conversation with the person next to you. There are quite a number of variables when it comes to this, but the bottom line is, masks are actually a very cheap, simple and effective way that we can continue to protect ourselves and others.
Michael Walls: So, if you’re the only one in the room with a mask on and no one else is, are you protected more so than the people who don’t have masks on? Dr Kean-Seng Lim: Well, you are. However, it does then in that case depend on what sort of mask you wear. Because in that situation, if you’re wearing a well fitted N95 or P2 mask, you are going to be better protected than if you’re wearing a cloth mask, because we know that cloth masks do not give the same level of filtration protection as a good well fitted mask does. So again, masks, and I think this might have been your question, there are degrees of protection from masks where a cloth mask is better than no mask, but it’s not going to give you as good protection as a surgical mask, which in turn is not going to give you as good protection as an N95 or P2 mask which is well fitted.
YourUnderstanding Health C VID Michael Walls: How about isolation? We’ve all heard of stories where one person in the house has got COVID and they’ve isolated and no one in the house has got it. Dr Kean-Seng Lim: Yes, absolutely. So, while there is a certain randomness to COVID in terms of how well it transmits to a household, that randomness is determined by a combination of vaccination, immune status and probably sometimes just the luck of things. We do know that if someone is isolating well, the risk of passing this condition, broadcasting this virus onto others is definitely reduced.
Michael Walls: What about hand sanitiser? I’ve heard mixed stories around that. Dr Kean-Seng Lim: It’s important to consider that COVID is not the only virus out there and so we are going to be seeing more influenza, now that we have opened up the country and there’s more free travel and many other viruses and bacteria will be found on surfaces and can be spread from surface to person. Hand sanitisers remain a good way of protecting against other viruses, so we shouldn’t forget that. Also, while at this point, surface level spread is not looking like a major factor with COVID, it is possible that we will come across a time where we get a form of COVID which does persist and linger on surfaces as well given that COVID does mutate. Michael Walls: So how about spraying surfaces with Glen20 or other surface disinfectants, is that effective? Dr Kean-Seng Lim: Sure, I’m not aware of any research done as to whether that is any more effective than wiping down with soap and water or alcohol. I think that in general we would say that wiping down the surface with a disinfectant is going to be more effective than a spray, in general, because you are going to be removing particulates better. But I am not aware of any studies which show that one way or another is more or less effective for COVID.
Dr Kean-Seng Lim received his medical degree from the University of Sydney in 1991 before undertaking his residency in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. He has worked at the Mt Druitt Medical Centre for the past 20 years, where he is able to offer the holistic, collaborative care that has appealed to him since his days as an intern. He is the recipient of the RACGP’s 2015 GP of the Year Award.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 7
How best to prevent
It’s about Transmission Raina MacIntyre
As COVID-19 cases increase across the country, many people are asking what they can do to keep their families and friends safe.
They certainly protect against getting severely ill or dying, but two doses wane and do not protect much at all against symptomatic infection with Omicron.
Unfortunately, the Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 is now circulating widely in Australia, so going to work, school or socialising also comes with significant risk of catching and spreading the virus.
The Omicron variant evades the vaccine immunity much more than previous variants like Delta. A third dose substantially improves protection, but our 3rd dose rates are not as high as they should be, at around 70%.
There are hundreds of school outbreaks at the moment, with teacher shortages and many schools reverting to remote learning to manage the risk. Understanding the way SARS-COV-2 spreads is key to preventing transmission. The virus spreads through the airborne route and is inhaled. SARS-COV-2 spreads via tiny aerosols that accumulate in the air, especially in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, just like cigarette smoke does. Aerosols are more concentrated the closer you are to someone’s mouth and nose, which is why even in outdoor environments there is benefit in maintaining some distance away from each other.
Australia has very high vaccination rates, with over 95% of people 16 years and over having had two doses, and about 85% of children 12-15 years. Two-dose rates are lower in children 5-11 years, because of a delayed start to the program and spacing of the doses 8 weeks apart.
Primary school infections This explains the epidemics in primary schools at the moment, and the number of people getting infected at home from their school aged children. Unfortunately, vaccines alone are not enough.
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But even immunity from the 3rd dose wanes, and there is now a recommendation for a 4th dose for people 65 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 and over and people with severe immunosuppression. But the bottom line is, we need a layered strategy that includes vaccines, masks and safe indoor air. If you are not already vaccinated, get vaccinated and get as many vaccine doses as you are eligible for, as soon as possible. For all adults, being fully vaccinated means being triple-vaccinated. Get your boosters as soon as you are eligible. Pfizer and Moderna are similar vaccines and you should get whichever you can access earliest. You should also minimise contact with people who are not fully vaccinated and do not be afraid to ask if people are fully vaccinated and boosted. While it may cause some social friction, spending less time with unvaccinated family members and friends will be safer for you and them, and it will help you protect infants and children who are not yet eligible for vaccination. Approaching these conversations with empathy help unvaccinated friends to reconsider their decision. Masks are also important, and now that they are not mandated, wearing a respirator (which is a well fitted type of mask with high filtration, like a N95 or P2 mask) is even more important. Always wear a high-quality mask when in crowded indoor locations or when travelling.
Minimise your risk of COVID 9
inimise the risk of COVID-19 by avoiding large M gatherings, shopping online and have gifts and groceries delivered.
void spending time in busy indoor environments A like pubs, where lots of people are unmasked and likely to be emitting virus-laden aerosols into the shared air.
onsider skipping some functions entirely, C particularly if you live with or work with anyone at higher risk. If entertaining, use your alfresco or outdoor areas as much as possible and reduce numbers so it does not get too crowded.
pen as many doors and windows in your house O or apartment as you can, keep your space well ventilated. A portable air purifier with a HEPA filter can dramatically reduce risk, especially if you cannot open windows.
ee this guide by A/Prof Robyn Schofield and read S OzSAGE’s ventilation advice for more details.
esting is also important, if you have any T symptoms or are a close contact. A rapid antigen test (RAT) can be bought online, or at the supermarket or pharmacy.
he day of social events, use a RAT and ask your T party guests to get tested. If you can afford a pack of tests, you can test people at the door and get the results in 15 minutes.
You should also have a COVID-19 plan in case someone in the household becomes infected. Having a pulse oximeter is a good idea – if you get COVID, you can monitor your own oxygen levels. Some smart watches can do this too. Work out who would care for others who are dependent on you, such as children or pets. Have a plan for isolation within the home – is there a separate bedroom and bathroom a sick person could use? OzSAGE offers a range of practical advice to reduce the spread of COVID, based on a Vaccine-PLUS and Ventilation strategy. You can find out more information here: https://ozsage.org/wp-content/ uploads/2021/09/Safe-Indoor-Air-advice.pdf
Professor Raina MacIntyre is Head | Biosecurity Research Program | Kirby Institute | UNSW Medicine Professor of Global Biosecurity & NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 9
village to raise a child It takes a
By Tara McGuigan
Addressing digital poverty
“Please help me!”, Ruqia pleaded, having told me her three sons, all of them in high school, had no computer at home on which to do their studies. “No computer … three kids in high school, with no computer?” For a moment I found it hard to get my head around how a student at school could manage without access to a computer. A computer is now a basic tool for education, something like a pen and book were last century. “How do they manage, especially with schools in lockdown during Covid and the only learning being online?” I asked Ruqia. Her beautiful dark, soft eyes held all the sadness in the world as she told me how her children managed with extreme difficulty accessing their learning using a mobile phone. Imagine fleeing your homeland, leaving most of what you own behind to find safety in a foreign land where everything from basic food and culture to language to education is alien and confusing. Imagine how hard it is as a parent to know your child’s struggle is compounded because they have no access to the basic tools for their studies. My heart was wrenched as I clarified Ruqia’s story with Narayan, a case worker from the Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) in Parramatta. Narayan told me that Ruqia’s family is one of many suffering this plight. As a Salvation Army officer I knew immediately what my next project would be — sourcing computers for migrant families who had recently settled in Australia on refugee visas.
Pictured at the launch of the Digital Transformation Project are The Salvation Army’s Captain Tara McGuigan (Project and Launch Coordinator) and LieutenantColonel Miriam Gluyas (Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army in NSW/ ACT) with Helen Mouscas (Senior Director, Dell Technologies ,Australia and New Zealand), and Melissa Monteiro(CEO, Community Migrant Resource Centre).
Narayan and I agreed we would start by identifying 20 families with adolescents or primary school aged children that could receive computers. Then, in collaboration with The Salvation Army’s information technology department, we contacted Dell Technologies who, with no hesitation, said ‘Yes!’. They were thrilled to be a part of the project and would supply 20 brand new laptops loaded with all the basic software students would need for their schooling, plus laptop sleeves. Dell also offered one years’ support to the recipients. I’m reminded of the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ The Salvation Army, Community Migrant Resource Centre and Dell Technologies are working hand-in-hand to provide hope and a future for some of the most marginalised people in the world through gifts they could only have dreamt of before. Representatives from all three organisations were present on Friday 4 March at a lunch event in Parramatta, to hand over the computers to the recipient families. The lunch itself comprised food from the recipients’ countries of origin. My heart was moved that day Ruqia asked for help. Her eyes are engraved in my soul for good. As a community we can reach out to touch lives at their most desperate points and together raise child … after child … after child, family … after family … after family. Tara McGuigan (Captain)
Representatives of The Salvation Army, the Community Migrant Resource Centre and Dell Technologies gather around recipients of computers in the Digital Transformation Project. The three organisations joined hands to launch the project in Western Sydney on March 4.
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Relationship Manager CALD Communities, NSW Public Relations, NSW The Salvation Army Australia Territory salvationarmy.org.au
Your COVID Business Legal Advisor • Business Disruption prevention • On-line and CyberSecurity protections • Post COVID employment matters • Watertight supply contracts
(02) 8858 3211 | email@example.com
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 11
Lifeduring the pandemic
Helping families cope with the pandemic C
oping with Covid-19 has been especially difficult for families - but for those who have come from other countries, with little English, the roller-coaster ride of the pandemic has been particularly difficult. The Community Resource Centre (CMRC), based in Parramatta, has been at the forefront of helping the migrant community navigate the rocky path of the pandemic to make everyday life easier. CMRC Early Intervention Project Officer Norma Boules started fielding community concerns as December closed in.
During COVID and Delta, CMRC had been receiving some Emergency Aid funding but there was no additional funding for Omicron, so existing networks of partners and donors were required to keep pace with demand for financial and material aid. “Supermarkets were experiencing supply issues and many families were reluctant to leave home once the news started about December thousands of cases daily,” Ms Boules said.
Over and January, CMRC supported over 100 refugee and vulnerable families with case support and emergency aid interventions.
“Normally I would start closing down service support from December 17 but really, over the entire Christmas and New Year period, I was having to support a range of our Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan families, many of whom had just arrived into the country over the last three months,” Ms Boules said.
“I remember two Afghan families were in the Emergency Department and we had to immediately deliver aid packages to the family members remaining at home. Omicron was spreading fast and some of my clients have health impacts three months later.
“The “Clayton’s” lockdown period did see communities facing loss of income as family members were isolating at home and unable to work. RAT test pricing soared. Local chemists around Merrylands were selling single RAT tests for $25, which was too expensive for our families.”
CMRC is now seeing refugee communities in Western Sydney in recovery, accessing booster appointments and some confidence returning to accessing support in person.
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Family faced tough times DI BARTOK As a mother of a young family of four children, Mira Semino dreads becoming ill, even mildly. When her children are ill, Mira and husband Arthur fuss over them, following medical advice and their own parental instincts. But, when, one by one the whole family becomes ill with Covid-19, including stalwart Mira, life becomes tough. “It has been a hard time,” Mira, who, like her husband, hails from the Philippines. They live with their children aged 1, 2, 6 and 10 in a Parramatta apartment. “My husband was the first to become ill, with a fever and sore throat, even though he had been wearing a mask at work, then the next day our youngest son had symptoms, then I started feeling unwell but ignored by symptoms as I had to carry on for the family.” Eventually, all of the family tested positive for Covid. Arthur, who had just started a new job as handyman, was told by his boss to stay at home, not being paid.
“That was tough,” Mira said. “But he is back at work now. The hardest part was the home-schooling as we didn’t have a suitable computer.” The school came to the rescue, lending the family a laptop so the two eldest children could do their schoolwork. “One of the most difficult things was shopping - as we shop for Filipino food, home delivery from a conventional supermarket was not the same,” Mira said.
Now that everything has returned to normal, Mira and Arthur worry every time their children develop a sniffle. “Children often get colds, especially with the changing weather, but now it is more of a worry,” Mira said. Mira said better access to Rapid Antigen Tests and more family support would make life easier for all families, especially those with language difficulties.
Mira Semino and her four children.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 13
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YourMindset Taking care of your mental health
What is Mental Health? S
imply put, it is the state of your mind, feelings and emotions which allows you to enjoy and cope with day-to-day life. Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to contribute to his or her community.
Mental health helps determine the way we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Its deterioration can be more difficult to identify as there are less obvious physical signs such as a visually observable wound.
Some common changes are: Sleep pattern Struggling to fall asleep, and/or waking up during the night. Eating patterns Loss of appetite or binge eating. Thought processes Experiencing excessive worry, paranoia, or racing thoughts. Mood Feeling prolonged sadness, irritability, over-whelmed, hopelessness. Low motivation Feeling tired or fatigued. Body tension Muscle pain or increased heart rate. Behaviour Withdrawing from others and/or participating in risky behaviours. Unhealthy coping strategies Increase in drug or alcohol consumption and excessive screen time. Low self-esteem Lack of confidence and motivation, interest, and enjoyment in things. Concentration May have difficulty focusing on tasks. Information taken from the World Health Organisation and mentalhealth.gov
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 15
K OUT FOR
What are the signs we need to be aware of that indicate our mental health is at risk and what could happen if these signs go unchecked. Our mental and physical health are interconnected. When one is left unchecked, it significantly increases the risk in developing problems in the other.
Hygiene is lacking, not taking showers as often, not putting as much pride and effort into your appearance.
It’s important to note that everyone can have different symptoms (physical and emotional) depending on their situation and that help is there if you need it.
Poor hygiene is a sign of self-neglect and could lead to severe depression.
Feeling scared a lot of the time without really knowing why. Not enjoying activities that used to be enjoyable.
Could lead to anxiety and other mental health concerns.
Could lead to depression and other mental health concerns.
Having problems concentrating.
Could lead to poor decision-making and an inability to complete important daily activities.
Eating a lot more or less than usual. This is especially of concern when it is due to how we feel eg. incredibly nervous or incredibly stressed.
Slowly withdrawing and isolating ourselves from friends and family. Could lead to a loss of friends and social connection which in turn, could lead to depression.
Feeling tired for no reason, all the time.
Unhealthy eating habits can lead to fatigue and poor decision-making which in turn can lead to anxiety and depression.
Feeling overly emotional or feeling limited emotions. Could lead to drastic mood swings and unpredictable behaviour.
Could lead to a steep decline in important activities such as studying or fulfilling job responsibilities, followed by failing exams/courses and being let go from a job.
Having problems sleeping, whether too much, too little, experiencing insomnia or waking up in the middle of the night unable to fall back to sleep. May be a sign of anxiety or depression and if left unchecked, may slow or halt recovery.
Having a persistent low mood, feeling burnt out, overly agitated and lack of motivation.
Can impact other aspects of your life such as physical health, personal relationships, work and self-esteem.
Taking care of your mental health
16 | Issue 01 | May 2022
Habits of a lot of people changed during the pandemic. Some adjusted reasonably well, though others could not. Let’s look at some examples of these changes.
rior to the pandemic, some people had not experienced mental health concerns, however, due to the restrictions, a lot of people faced unemployment, were isolated from their loved ones, lost their loved ones and were unable to be with them due to the risk of contracting the virus. All this impacted daily life and most people found they were lacking a routine, they were not motivated to even get up, did not have the energy to do small tasks, were always breaking down but were unable to understand why, some have also been experiencing anxiety and depression.
Stories of adaptation Some people have faced tough challenges, such as small business owners who were not considered essential workers. They have had to shut their shops for an indefinite time, while still required to pay rent with having no income stream. Some of the people I know personally have turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms to be able to handle the stress of their situations. However, others I know have used that time to spend with their families and concentrate on themselves. A lot of my friends and acquaintances have developed a mental illness, most common being GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and situational depression. This may not have stemmed purely due to the pandemic, but their symptoms were heightened enough to the stage where they were diagnosed. Some people around me have adopted some unhealthy habits such as procrastinating and withdrawing from social situations. How this looks might differ from person to person however, I have noticed that people became used to staying at home and socialising using online mediums rather than face to face interactions. It can be hard to maintain a good work/life balance if you are working from home. I have heard stories of people working later and later into the evening as they no longer need to leave the office.
Taking care of your mental health
During the pandemic, there has been an increase of individuals who are not coping with the lack of social interaction due to the restrictions. As humans, it’s essential that we keep social and get out and about in the community. This is extremely hard when everyone is trying to keep others and themselves safe from COVID. Since the restrictions, there are individuals who still feel unsafe going out in the community and others who have gone straight back to their usual routine. It’s important to keep your networks close whether that be over a phone or video call, whether that’s connecting with friends or family.
hanks to the evolution of technology, not much T has changed for some people I know. They are functioning quite well, especially if they preferred relaxing in their home. They are on their phones talking to friends and family and doing a lot of online shopping! Some people have been feeling the negative effects of lockdown. Due to lockdown, their routines have had to shift drastically, and some people had a very difficult time adjusting. They couldn’t do a lot of the things they used to do, such as getting up at their regular time to get ready for work or drive their children to school. Instead of keeping as much of their routine the same, they slept in a lot more and felt bored sitting at home with nothing to do.
not so much
Some people’s coping strategies have not been accessible during the pandemic, such unable to go to the gym due to closures or not being able to visit family and friends which has caused their stress levels to increase. We have all been adjusting to lockdowns and diminished face to face social contact. For some, this has created frustration due to lack of social interaction or it has increased anxiety during social situations. For others, this has been a key time for self-growth, for re-evaluating themselves, setting up new goals and readjusting their lives. These are two sides of the same coin – It’s all a matter of mindset.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 17
How one woman made working from home work for her! Susan knew she needed routine and structure to get her through the day. See what changes she made to allow that to happen.
9 M ade an office space, on the dining room table (working in a different room from her bedroom). 9 D esigned a work calendar structure (diary) as though she was in the office. 9 H aving a lunch break and eating lunch in the backyard. 9 R eplacing snacks for herbal tea or fresh lime in soda water.
9 C hallenged some of her unhelpful thoughts of others perception of their workload and capacity. 9 T urned the computer off at the end of the workday. 9 I ncorporated self-care activities, walking every afternoon when the workday had completed as a transition to home activity.
Taking care of your mental health
Our clinicians’ TOP 10 practical tips for staying mentally fit in challenging times.
Who can I contact if I feel unsafe?
Try to get between 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
000 if safety cannot be guaranteed.
Enjoy a balanced diet.
Drink plenty of water.
Family member or relative you trust that can come over if necessary.
Get your body moving, even if it is just a daily walk
Having a set routine with achievable tasks
6 Self-care whatever that may mean for you. (Meditation, relaxation techniques, Journal, watch your favourite movie or read a favourite book). 7
Stay social with friends and family via technology.
8 Maintain work/home boundaries and have set breaks. If you are working from home, it is important to maintain those boundaries to avoid burnout. 9
Reduce Drug and Alcohol intake.
10 Ask for help either from a mental health professional, friends, or family. These tips were provided by Seven Hills Head to Health mental health clinicians. Head to Health is a new, free service for anyone experiencing mental health distress. If you are concerned about your mental health call Head to Health on 1800 595 212 for your local service. No referral is needed and there is no wait list. You can also visit your GP for a mental health plan.
18 | Issue 01 | May 2022
Friends that you trust and know about your mental health concerns. Call them as a distraction from your thoughts, or just someone to talk to.
Professional hotlines: 24/7 crisis lines. You can call these crisis lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Emergency - 000 Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636 - Open 24/7 Beyond Blue chat online Open 3pm to midnight, 7 days a week Beyond Blue - Email support www.beyondblue.org.au/support-service/Email Lifeline - 131 114 Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800 Mental Health Line - 1800 011 511 Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
Tips for your business Success Proven measures that small and medium business owners can take to minimise their stresses and improve their chances of success and sustainability.
unning a small and medium business is a challenging and exciting journey, it can be rewarding, but at the same time it can be challenging and stressful dealing with uncertainties, problems to solve, bills to pay and profit to be made. While you need to focus your time and attention on your business to make it successful, it’s also essential that you take care of yourself, as it can affect your mental health and the mental health of your staff. Some of the common challenges in running a Small and Medium business may include: • Uncertainty about the future, not having a clear direction how to sustain and grow your business profitably. • Limited resources and having to wear many hats. • Feeling isolated and not having someone to share business worries, such as human resource issues, marketing and sales issues, operation issues, financial issues, customer issues, legal and compliance issues and not having someone who can understand and solve these problems. • Putting in long hours and working intensely to meet the demands of your business and putting out fires. • Ongoing cash flow and financial concern, including chasing payments, unable to pay wages and bills on time, and not making money. • Worry over where the next job is coming from or lack of revenue. • Feeling the burden of the financial wellbeing to yourself, family, employees and others. One of the best ways to minimise these business stresses that might adversely affect the business owners’ mental health is to cure the roots of these stresses and taking the following proven and pragmatic measures:
Have a clear Business Strategy and Business Model Our business environment is changing faster than ever, with the Covid pandemic, aggression in Ukraine, global warming, changes in social trends, advancement in technology and supply chains under pressure. This brings enormous new challenges regarding the way people live their lives and run their business.
Issues cannot be solved using previous strategies and wisdom, businesses require new strategies and thinking. A clear direction and having more certainty about your business, will reduce your anxiety and stress. Spend some critical time and get expert assistance if required so that you are not running blind. Create a clear business road map about how to compete in the current environment and uncertainties by understanding your customer buying behavior and needs, crafting your products/services accordingly and making your marketing, sales, human resources, operations, financials and customer services work.
Have a clear financial road map for your business Plan and understand your revenue targets and how to achieve them, your costs for running your business at least for the next 12 months, and make sure that they will be feasible for your business sustainability and profitability. Plan and understand your cash flow situation on a weekly basis for the next 12 months, anticipate issues and come up with solutions. • Review your business performance at least monthly and take prompt correction actions required. • Join a business networking group, a business building group or a business chamber that will give you connections and support from other business owners. • Focus on what you do well, delegate or outsource tasks as much as practicable. • Allocate time to work on the business and not only in the business, keep an eye on ongoing changes, adapt and flourish. • Do not hesitate to get expert help when needed, it’s worth much more than what you invest in them.. Eric Tjoeng – CEO and Founder of Business Growth and Exit Specialists (BGES) has been recognised as one of the 10 Australian Business Strategists & Experts to Watch in 2021 by the Australian Business Journal. As an MBA qualified leading Business Strategist, Business Acquisition, Business Growth, Future Proofing and Exit Specialist, Eric’s passion is to help businesses achieve their goals. Visit: www. bges.co for more information.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 19
EMPLOYING POST COVID:
What to include in Employment agreements! Anthony Sangster Robles
hile the health challenges of COVID may pass, the ramifications of the pandemic will remain with businesses for years to come. Employment Agreements are a future challenge for business owners and employees. There are three aspects for consideration for updated Employment Agreements relative to pandemic events.
Compliance with Workplace Health and Safety legislation From administrative tasks, like policy and procedures for contact tracing, and hand sanitisers for Employer’s duty of care, you also have to consider what a health and safety order means for a business. Today’s Employment Agreements must include provisions that clearly sets out both Employer and Employee’s duties in the event of a health and safety order from a respective authority. With the inevitable difference on ideologies, it is critical for a business to have clear directions and arrangements in place to avoid any issues with noncompliance by employees.
It is also important that the business itself is compliant to avoid heavy fines. This could be up to $5,000.00 on the spot fine issued by the police.
Reduced hours provisions A Work Health and Safety Order may allow an Employer to reduce full-time Employees to part-time. Any reduced hours may require a clearly defined threshold either for loss of business, or a health and safety restriction, or due to the practicality of work being carried out under restrictions. The employment agreement needs to reference the type of events that may require reduced hours, as well as some additional provisions. Those provisions should include, among other things, a definition of impossible/impractical work; the limitations of hours to be changed, or agreed, between the parties involved; and the conditions where Employees get their hours reduced or their employment terminated in specific events. There have been temporary changes to Modern Awards, introduced by the Fair Work Commission, to accommodate our recent pandemic. One area that has not changed is that an Employer cannot reduce the rate of pay of an Employee without an agreement in writing.
Stand down provisions Allowing an Employer to lawfully stand down an Employee without pay during a period of time requires some type of order. This likewise applied to Employees to preserve their employment. This is similar to “pause” options, where Employees will not work for a period but return to employment once conditions change. Consideration in applying this provision, is that the employee cannot be usefully employed due to stoppage of work or a cause outside of the Employer’s reasonable control.
What should you do? Employment agreements require updating due to changes in industrial agreements that arose from the pandemic and conditions applicable to any future events. Businesses also evolve over time and previous agreements may not work if you have digitised your business or moved online. Employment is a risk for business as well as employees. We are experienced business lawyers with an integrated and practical approach to business and law to protect all parties. Our business legal team are happy to chat with you about your current situation and future requirements. Call us on 02 88583211.
20 | Issue 01 | May 2022
COVID AND CYBERSECURITY:
5 key focus areas
for your digital business! Nicholas Fisher
n March of 2020, Australia saw thousands of businesses and millions of employees go online due to the COVID lockdown. At that moment, it became evident that many were not adequately prepared to move into the digital space. In particular, many businesses had no cybersecurity policies in place to protect their digital assets. At the same time, cybercriminals had more content than ever to illegally access, use and sell. It is now essential to understand that you are in a postCOVID digital world and to keep up, you need to secure your digital business assets properly in these five key areas in the modern, post-COVID era.
Lack of Awareness The COVID related move to working online has made it brutally clear that many business employees have no clear idea about cybersecurity – they are your weakest link. It is vital that your staff be trained and educated to understand the meaning of cybersecurity, the type of cybersecurity threats, and what to do if a cyberattack occurs on your business network. Without proper education and training, you have lost the fight against cybercrime before it has even started. Hence, staff education and awareness about cybersecurity is a key focus area for your digital business.
Lack of Budget Many businesses do not adequately budget for cybersecurity. Just like all other essential areas of your business, cybercrime requires a sufficient budget to cover not only pre-emptive action but also for remedying any issues that may arise out of a cyberattack. By adding cybersecurity costs into your annual budget, you ensure that your business networks are able to defend themselves appropriately.
Lack of protection Digital businesses that lack awareness and a budget also tend to lack competent protection for their digital assets. Cybersecurity can come in many forms, such as twofactor authentication, anti-virus software and network protection software. These forms of protection work side by side with the cybersecurity education and training your employees receive in order to create a strong barrier between your business and any cybercrime.
Lack of backups One area of cybersecurity that many businesses miss is the use of backups and cloud storage services. Cloud storage and backups assist cybersecurity in two ways. First, cloud storage and backups provide a way to access your digital business assets even after a cyberattack has shut down your network, keeping your business running. Second, cloud storage applications have their own forms of cybersecurity that go a long way in protecting your digital assets at a smaller cost.
Lack of innovation Cybersecurity should not just be the employee’s problem; it needs to start in the boardroom. Many long-running and successful businesses are also the ones that have the most significant gaps in cybersecurity. This is because the heads of those businesses either do not know about cybersecurity or do not believe it to be an issue. It is vital that cybersecurity be treated as if it were as important as advertising or financial goals. Thus, as the business owner, you need to lead by example and seek to innovate your network protection and cyber insurance. Nicholas Fisher is a graduate solicitor under the supervision of Katherine Hawes, the Principal Solicitor of Digital Age Lawyers.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 21
DIGITAL BUSINESS AND COVID: What you need in place! Suhayl Ali, Senior Solicitor – Business Law
hile the world contains the pandemic, businesses focus on whatever is needed to ensure their continuity and survival. This reimagining of the business world shifts and continues working amidst lockdowns. To stay competitive in the post-covid world, new strategies and practices are required.
Survey Results Not only businesses but consumers have adopted digital technologies during COVIID across all age groups. Consumer take-up of online channels moved dramatically and businesses had to respond in turn. That means businesses need to ensure their digital channels are on par with or better than those of their competitors to succeed in this new business environment.
What to do? Specifically, companies and businesses will need to: • Enhance digital innovations and presence. • Modernise their customer support operations. • Build a trusted technology ecosystem. • Get to know their people, inside and out – both employees and consumers. But it is not just about digitising and moving to a digital future. Companies and businesses must also reimagine customer journeys to reduce friction, and provide better services. For example, Airlines are rapidly reinventing the passenger experience with contactless journeys focused on traveller health and safety. There have also been overhauls to practices for traveling via ships that focus on traveller health and safety to reengage consumers. Companies and businesses have also shifted to remote-working models. A remote setup allows companies and businesses to mobilise global expertise instantly and respond to customer inquiries more quickly. This new procedural change in remote working is now arguably substantial enough to reconsider changes to former more rigid business models. However, the above is not a fix all for an organisation. Businesses need to have the relevant capabilities, and skills to ensure their survival in the post-covid world.
22 | Issue 01 | May 2022
However, this requires a careful examination of which software they have invested in and either future-proof that investment or upgrade software. Businesses need to identify gaps in their services as well as the services and products of their competitors and look at how those organisations offer digital services and what difficulties they may be encountering. The important question for any business is what technology can help to fill in the gaps so that they can operate seamlessly, creating a smooth, straightforward experience for employees and customers. The goal should be to create streamlined services across the organisation. Conferencing software, platforms for hosting innovative projects, tracking capabilities to monitor customer experiences, and other important forms of software should be selected for their ability to create a unified experience. Businesses need to operate with as little confusion and as few disruptions as possible.
Managing Digitisation Every organisation will become digital to a degree. That requires new management techniques to avoid disruption. The key areas to address are software contracts, digital policies and procedures, and both intellectual property and cybersecurity protections. Our business legal team are on hand for a chat if you require a digital health check to ensure you are least disruption pathway – 02 8858 3211.
COVID BUSINESS DISRUPTION: Applying Learnings to Minimise Crisis Impacts Kerri Theodoridis, Solicitor
e all know that COVID has turned our gaze onto our resilience, response, recovery and reinvention, in a climate of economic, social and financial instability. We also understand that there are significant risks caused to organisations, large and small, when there is a disruption to usual operational practices that affect finances as well as the health and wellbeing of their employees. For some the impacts have been disastrous, in contrast to the fruitful opportunities that have arisen for others, while others have held steady, steering their business for survival.
Human Risks The safety and wellbeing of employees is paramount and their absence has significant impacts on operation capabilities. A COVID safety plan, specific to the operational needs of your organisation, should protect staff whether on premises or remote or both. Where employees are working from home, ensure that mental health risks are addressed through implementing active engagement amongst employees through online communication platforms.
One lesson that we should all learn is that preparation for these risks and risk management strategies are implemented and form part of the organisation’s contingency business plan.
If employees are required to be present on premises, it is important to have safety measures in place such as regular cleaning and social distancing practices and even the implementation of rapid antigen testing.
To combat supply chain issues, it is paramount to maintain ongoing relationships with several local suppliers, if possible, to ensure continued provision of goods and services required to operate the business. A contract is a perfect way to start.
We have learnt that our working environment, during a crisis, is ever changing with many unknowns and much unpredictability. Therefore it is important to continually try to predict what may happen and have the appropriate Contingency Business Plan in place, along with asset protection policies, procedures and contracts, to ensure that your business is not only prepared but has safeguards.
To avoid fraud, have controls in place detecting fraud at any time, regardless of any COVID restrictions. Implement regular meetings with team members as fraud is ever changing and so too is the plan to combat fraudulent activity. Make sure your debt recovery processes are revised and robust.
Technological Risks Cyber-attack, through the use of devices and software by employees is the biggest risk factor. Ensure that both devices and software are safeguarded to protect sensitive information, both when working on premises or remotely. Common methods are multi-factor authentication, security system and device protections that are in line with global security standards and are monitored, reported and continually updated. Train your staff to be alert.
The best business is one that continues to operate during a crisis and survives. Call us for a chat if you require assistance in developing your business contingency plan to manage your supply chain, ensure your digital assets are protected or your Employment Agreements need an update – 02 8858 3211. NB: Kerrie Theodoridis is a Solicitor under the supervision of Katherine Hawes, the Principal Solicitor of Digital Age Lawyers.
Issue 01 | May 2022 | 23
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SCAN AND DONATE 24 | Issue 01 | May 2022