R U OK? day was held around Australia on 10 September. Traditionally held on the second Thursday of September each year, R U OK? day is a reminder to ask others this important question to stimulate an open conversation about how those around us are feeling. This year, World Suicide Prevention Day fell on the same day and is recognised across the globe to raise awareness around the topic of suicide, as well as to create a focus for action to prevent its occurrence.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, suicide is the leading cause of death among 15-24, and 25-44 year olds in the country.
This year it is increasingly important for everyone to support those who are struggling with their mental health, particularly as a large number of people are affected by the pandemic in some way.
Are we okay?
It has now been six months since all of our lives have been impacted due to this unprecedented pandemic. Many in business remain closed, while workers have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, creating a significant level of uncertainty and financial insecurity for thousands of people.
As demonstrated in our Remote Learning 2.0 story, teachers are undertaking the challenge in their role in what has been the most difficult year of their careers. Essential workers, particularly those in the healthcare industry have been working harder than ever. The list goes on.
Filipinos among top 5 communities in Victoria who tested positive for COVID-19
The Philippine Times has learned that the Filipino community has been among the top 5 multicultural communities that have been infected with COVID-19 in Victoria.
Nearly 20,000 positive cases have been recorded in the state in total, however, it is unknown exactly how many Filipinos are among these cases.
During the second peak of the virus in July and August, the suburbs of Tarneit, Truganina, Hoppers Crossing were reported by the Department of Health and Human Services as the top coronavirus hotspot in Victoria. These suburbs are known to be areas where thousands of Filipinos reside.
The high number of cases likely comprise of those who work in aged care and hospital settings. Understandably though, many who have tested positive are not comfortable sharing their story. However, some like Denis Baniqued and his pregnant wife Mary Rose Quinto took the opportunity to inform the community of the reality of COVID-19 in their story.
As a result of the need to support the Filipino-Australian community in Victoria, key state government authorities conducted meetings with community leaders and media in recent weeks to discuss the challenges faced. A roundtable discussion was facilitated by the Victorian Multicultural Commission with a successful engagement of over 50 representatives in the community.
With an extended lockdown and a clear roadmap to reopening being announced on 6 September by Premier Daniel Andrews, it is fair to ask, how we are all feeling?
Most Filipino Australians agree with lockdown extension
A total of 320 Filipino-Australians responded to the question on The Philippine Times’ Facebook page on 6 September:
‘How do you feel about Melbourne remaining under Stage Four Lockdown for two weeks?’
A total of 230 (or 71%) respondents said that they either liked or loved, or supported the decision, while 81 people (or 25%) said they were sad, disappointed or angry about the extension. Ten people were either shocked or found the decision amusing.
As reflected in the survey, the majority of Filipinos in Victoria are resilient, hopeful and somewhat optimistic about the current situation in the state. There will be others however that will require continued support from friends, family and work colleagues.
The Philippine Times stands by our readers who are struggling during the pandemic and refers them to relevant organisations. If you need help, please reach out to us.
R U OK? Day is a reminder that every day you can ask others around you ‘Are you okay?’ It is important to maintain the conversation with those around us, and you don’t need to be an expert to have the conversation. Remember, a conversation could change a life.
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