Mark Glasson | Chief Executive Officer, Anglicare WA
Over the Christmas period I spent some time reflecting on the difference between what was currently happening with how we experienced Christmas in 2020. It seems to me that in 2020 we ended the year strongly with hope for a better 2021. We had negotiated COVID-19 and there was a sense of energy and renewal as we headed for the new year.
Our most recent Christmas however was different. Our hopes for 2021 were largely unfulfilled as the pandemic and our responses to it continued to pummel our families and communities. Closed borders, distant relatives, the threat of lockdowns, underlying fears and anxiety meant for many getting through the year became a real slog. It was like we crawled to the line.
As I thought about how our hopes had been dashed, I became increasingly concerned about 2022 and our preparedness for the next challenge COVID-19 sends our way.
As I saw the Omicron chaos unfolding on the other side of the country I wondered “how will we get through this?”
One thing we know is that the impact of COVID-19 to date has not been universally shared. 75% of all deaths were people living in residential aged care and there have been almost four times as many deaths due to COVID-19 for people living in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest. The virus might have entered on cruise ships and aeroplanes, but it was felt most severely by the old and the poor.
As we move into the new year and open up to the rest of the world, we need to ensure that we don’t neglect those who have already paid the highest price. At Anglicare WA we are bracing for a shock – we expect the people and families we serve, and members of our own team will be put under enormous physical, emotional and financial pressure.
To get through this we will all need to dig deep and lend a hand whenever we can. I expect demand for our services will increase rapidly in the first six months of the year. We are anticipating more people and families in housing stress and facing homelessness, increases in family and domestic violence, less financial security and escalating levels of anxiety and mental illness. It will be tough though I am confident that Anglicare WA will rise to the challenge.
A lot of people will not need our services though, they will just need a friendly face, a listening ear or someone to help with shopping or chores. I am also confident that the community of Western Australia will rise to this challenge; it is what we have always done.