Territory Stories

Sunday Territorian Sun 22 Aug 2021



Sunday Territorian Sun 22 Aug 2021


Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT






Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.

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News Corp Australia

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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News Corp Australia



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12 OPINION SUNDAY AUGUST 22 2021 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 THINK OF THE CHILDREN THROUGH THIS TIME TOO THIS time is confusing and weird for everyone. As an adult you can understand the reasoning be-hind a lockdown and while you may not be happy with it you might be able to see the logic in it. But for a child, theres less knowledge and less logic. For kids processing this time when they are still learning so much about the world must be difficult. Since the pandemic started, the demand for psychological help has increased dramatically and that is not just adults, it is children asking for help too. There are kids as young as five making calls to Kids Helpline. We need to start not just prioritising adult mental health but childrens mental health, too. The focus on the economic cost of a lockdown is always in the spotlight but lockdowns bring more than just an economic cost. There is a psychological one too. Imagine being trapped under the same roof as your violent parents. For those in these awful circumstances, theyd much rather risk catching Covid-19 than know theyre likely to be beaten or verbally abused. There are some heartbreaking stories that have emerged from these lockdowns that highlight alarming statistics. Kids Helpline has doubled the number of counsellors since the pandemic last year in March. The Kids Helpline slogan anytime, any reason is true. They offer help to not only kids but young people up to the age of 25 too. There is a guide on the website to help young people navigate through the difficult time of Covid-19, covering topics like coping with quarantine and socialising while social distancing. They offer services tailored to different age brackets of social situations like parents, teachers and young adults. Peer support groups are also available online which are free, private, safe and anonymous. You dont need a reason to chat, this remarkable resource is here to be used call 1800 55 1800 anytime. While Kids Helpline is great, it cannot be the end goal. Instead, we must be focusing on kids not needing to call for help and for a lot of the issues, this would be fixed by not being locked down. But in the meantime, governments must ensure that while theyre providing assistance to businesses who close, they must also be adequately staffing and funding the mental health system before we have a tragedy on our hands. TOUCHED BY THE ROAD TOLL THIS YEAR 24 LAST YEAR 17 WHEN Darwin went into athree-day lockdown thisweek, my son had aquestion that was probably uppermost in the minds of many other blokes who live in the Top End. My brother-in-law lives up there and like plenty of other Darwinites, when not working he enjoys fishing and drinking beer. If Darwin is in lockdown, does that mean Uncle Matt wont be allowed to go fishing? my son asked my wife. Nothing remarkable about the question, other than the fact that my son turned four on July 22. I am certainly not putting him forward as some kind of Doogie Howser-style prodigy, especially given his genetic disadvantages on the paternal side. But coming from a four-year-old, it is a pretty amazing question, in that it confirms how the youngest of kids can absorb every aspect of something as complex as a pandemic, and know immediately through an overheard conversation or news report that lockdowns, by definition, involve the suspension of certain freedoms. What a crappy week it has been. When my wife dropped our six-year old son off at school on Tuesday, she was listening to an interview I was doing on the radio with a woman called Durkhanai Ayubi, an Afghan-Australian woman who runs a hugely successful restaurant business and has an honours science degree from Flinders University. Shes the living embodiment of everything the Taliban abhors, and in discussing the impact of the Talibans rise to power in her birthplace, she said she had already heard stories from relatives back home of teachers saying goodbye to their female students because they feared they would never see them again. Far out. The bleak symmetry of this got to my wife as she was saying goodbye to our six-year-old at school, and she lost it. Why are you crying Mum? our son asked. She explained that there were good people and bad people in the world and that in a country overseas, the bad guys were back in charge. Its the sort of trite stuff parents resort to when the alternative is too unpalatable, but I thought a pretty fair explanation aimed at someone who has just turned six. As a general rule, I have always had limited time for those worry-wort pieces about how do we explain all this to the kiddies. Being a journo and being married to an ex-politician, I have never really been bothered that all four of my kids have grown up in a house where the news is always on and often being discussed. This week, however, I had a complete stop the world, I want to get off moment, which probably came after a couple of hours on the couch reading Twitter and watching the increasingly gut-wrenching and desperate scenes from Kabul Airport. Between the pandemic and now Afghanistan, there appears to be no respite from the misery. Indeed, in my hometown the other day, the thirdbiggest story was the conviction of a noted local medico on a string of sickening child abuse charges. Hand me the remote. The best thing I have done in recent times was to upgrade my Foxtel to a new IQ box that lets you select certain channels as favourites. I have picked three Lifestyle Food, Lifestyle Food 2 and SBS Food. Its a handy foil to all the aforementioned horrors. When the news gets too unbearable, with the flick of a switch, theres Rick Stein walking along the cliffs of Cornwall with his dog Chalkie explaining the secrets of a perfect fish pie. But back to kids. As an adult, it is easier to rationalise or absorb things that are genuinely distressing on account of two things a knowledge of history and life experience. There is nothing that has occurred in my lifetime that comes close to what it must have been like living through World War II. The seemingly unstoppable rise of Nazism, the Japanese bombings of Darwin, life in London during the Blitz, the aftermath of the Holocaust, the POW camps of Singapore and the Thai-Burma Railway this is the high watermark of human evil and misery. Little kids dont have a knowledge of history. Teenagers may actually be worse off, as they have enough life experience to yearn for a return to life pre-lockdown, at a time when going out and socialising and being free is vital to their development. From the aforementioned field of bleak news items, one of the most disturbing this past week was Damon Johnston in The Australian writing on the Andrews governments suppressed report on the impact of the 200-plus day lockdown on young peoples mental health. All this makes me reflect on my laissez-faire attitude to household news consumption, and consider the often intense and news-driven nature of our household conversation. If there is an answer to any of this, it may well be Rick Stein, flaking poached cod into a white sauce, folding in some cheese, covering it with mashed potato and baking it at 180C for 30 minutes. DAVID PENBERTHY IS A NEWSCORP COLUMNIST Fishing for angst answers DAVID PENBERTHY Te'fiitorian ~ELL A, l'eoeu; ~ {2006\.'\ ','OO(Z. L\ll l\)1)01.\) 't'ELL AT PEOPt IN 1\-46 S\-lof5 'IElt ATT\-\E R)'t\L\T""I 0~ \T AlL r, r, 6E-r A Sot'E1'-1~A'r Ff2.01Nl All "T\-\ 'iEU.l~(:, c.(Eu.. AT P~t'L~ ON \\-1" 1~,E~e, $~01' ,M(; \;\ELL. up A6oOT "<00(2.. 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