COVID STORIES: Personal insights from the pandemic years

A message from Emma King

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over.

As I write this, in early 2023, record-breaking numbers of Victorians and people across Australia continue to be affected by the virus, sometimes in long-term and devastating ways.

Nevertheless, as a discrete period characterised by broad-based public health restrictions and unprecedented health, economic and social flow-ons, the ‘peak’ pandemic years of 2020 and 21 are, for better and for worse, behind us.

For many Victorians, the specific pain points of those years are still felt as fresh wounds.

For others, there were things gained – a respite from poverty in the form of temporarily increased government benefits, improved workplace flexibility, or the social cohesion that came from neighbours stepping up to help each other out – that we should not forget or leave behind.

As the peak body of Victoria’s community sector, one of VCOSS’s missions is to platform the stories of people who are marginalised or disadvantaged, whose voices are not often heard. Accordingly, during 2020 and 2021 VCOSS ‘gave the microphone’ to Victorians in many different positions.

This included people in front-line industries unable to work from home and isolate. It included people for whom isolation was the overriding and overwhelming experience of the pandemic. It included those caught up in the most extreme of the Government’s pandemic measures, such as the ’hard lockdowns’ of public housing towers, and those for whom the pandemic was marked by escalating racism, ableism and other forms of exclusion.

This publication brings together stories – in the form of first-person articles and interviews – that we heard and told during those strange, difficult days and months.

Some of the pieces were published as part of VCOSS’s My Corona series: personal stories about the pandemic. Others were produced in partnership with Vic Health, as part of the Good health in the time of COVID project. These stories are a valuable record and a resource for the future. Wherever you are in the ‘COVID recovery’ journey, we hope you find something to relate to in them.  

VCOSS is the peak body for Victoria’s social and community sector, and the state’s premier social advocacy body.

We work towards a Victoria free from poverty and disadvantage, where every person and community experiences genuine wellbeing.

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VCOSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country, and we pay respect to Elders and Ancestors. Our business is conducted on sovereign, unceded Aboriginal land. The VCOSS offices are located on Wurundjeri Woiwurrung land in central Naarm.