ECEC workers in Western Sydney felt punished during lockdowns
The Sector > COVID-19 > ECEC workers in Western Sydney felt punished during lockdowns

ECEC workers in Western Sydney felt punished during lockdowns

by Freya Lucas

October 12, 2022

Workers from critical frontline sectors, including early childhood education and care, have described their experiences as residents from Western Sydney during the extended lockdown periods, outlining how the measures impacted their mental health and financial wellbeing. 


Their perspectives, along with those from home care providers (disability and aged care), manufacturing, and warehousing, have been captured in a 32-page report from the Australian Catholic University and the United Workers Union.


The report draws on 22 interviews with essential workers, most of them women, in Western Sydney from various Local Government Areas (LGAs), finding that they felt  “punished” by the COVID-19 lockdowns, believing they were treated “unequally and unfairly” with harsher lockdowns during the COVID-19 Delta outbreak.


People from Sydney’s most multicultural suburbs felt targeted and racially discriminated against, the report notes, particularly when compared to Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs residents who were allowed greater freedoms during the lockdown.


“Residents of Western Sydney and other LGAs of concern were forced to contend with tougher restrictions on physical mobility and night-time curfews than elsewhere in Sydney,” the report said.


From July to September 2021, people living in 12 LGAs including culturally diverse Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, and Parramatta were subjected to “stricter stay-at-home orders, a night-time curfew and more overt enforcement by (state) government and police authorities”.


The report’s authors concluded that “punishment rather than social assistance was the norm in Western Sydney”. Around 300 Australian Defence Force personnel were deployed to work with local police, patrolling the streets and door-knocking during the restrictions.


Without the option of working remotely, many essential workers had to absorb the burden of testing and vaccination mandates in July and August 2021, even though health infrastructures could not meet initial demand, the report notes.


“In the event that Australia experiences future pandemics on or above the scale of COVID-19, Western Sydney’s workers cannot afford a repeat of this inadequate response from government and big business,” the authors conclude.


To access a copy of the report please see here

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