Loss of social connections was a theme that was strongly represented among interview participants. Societal changes as a result of COVID-10 have led to the loss of formal ways of connecting and belonging, for example through church, clubs and groups. These changes have been felt across all age groups, income levels and sectors of society, but of course are exacerbated for people already vulnerable and disadvantaged.
New ways of connecting via digital means have emerged as an opportunity for some during the pandemic, with examples of family and friends finding purpose and belonging through digital engagement. However, for some limited or variable access to data restrict their ability to connect with others sufficiently.
Three in ten respondents to the VicHealth survey (30%) reported that they had found staying connected to friends and family hard or very hard during coronavirus. Groups that were feeling less connected during the first lockdown restrictions include those who were aged 18-24 years (39%), those who spoke a language other than English at home (39%), people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (59%), those with a self-reported disability (33%), those who were unemployed during February 2020 (36%), and those in a lower income bracket (30%) on Jobkeeper (42%) and Jobseeker (39%).
Tim Costello speaks of finding new, common rituals. Whether it is joining in online free church services, recreating school graduation ceremonies in an online environment.
Some examples of people creating new rituals and structured ways of connecting were:
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OSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Victoria, their diversity, histories and knowledge and their continuing connections to land and community. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and Elders of past, present and future.
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Victoria, their diversity, histories and knowledge and their continuing connections to land and community. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and Elders of past, present and future.