KEEP hope and a little humour, community leaders are urging, because life in Ballarat is about to get a lot harder. Again.
Community complacency is a key concern as stage three lockdowns officially come into play in regional Victoria from late on Wednesday night. Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday that in more than 3000 door knocks to monitor lockdowns, 800 people were not home when required.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton urged people across the Ballarat region to keep perspective and, as tough as conditions were about to become real, to keep a positive mindset to focus on what we could do.
"We know what downhill looks like now, but there's so much opportunity in it for us if we look to positives," Mr Poulton said.
"I think it's easy to look too much at negatives. People got through harder times in the past, there have been harder times in history. Those who lived through the war faced incredible hardships and did so with hope in mind because they wanted to see the other side.
"Let's not lose hope for what the future might look like."
People got through harder times in the past...Let's not lost hope for what the future might look like.Michael Poulton, Committee for Ballarat chief
There is a danger in losing community spirit and innovation that emerged with strength in Ballarat's first stage three lockdown, a Federation University psychology expert warns. Dr Ashley Humphrey said there was a strong degree of apathy approaching tighter restrictions once more, largely because the novelty factor had worn off.
"Humans are very quick to adapt and the term 'new normal' has been thrown around a lot. This time, it has been normalised since we did six weeks of lcokdowns not long ago," Dr Humphrey said.
"People don't tend to take it as seriously anymore because it is more normal."
He said while the Aussie spirit could be wonderful, the pandemic had exposed its shortcomings.
Dr Humphrey said, compared with international cultures of cooperation and strong community goals, Australians were so used to complete autonomy in their lives. He said adhering to strict values - again - was tough.
This was a key reason why Mr Poulton called on Ballarat people to take a wider look at what was going on around them with coronavirus impacts in other parts of the world. Even Melbourne.
"The fact I could drive into work this morning, albeit with social distancing, is a privilege," Mr Poulton said. "Let's not take for granted and jeopardise what we have got."
City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor said the restrictions would undeniably cause pain in the region and people would be doing it really tough. This was why we could not afford complacency.
People don't tend to take it as seriously anymore because it is more normal.Dr Ashley Humphrey, Federation University psychology
Cr Taylor pointed to iconic museum Sovereign Hill, one of Ballarat's major employers, that was forced to close its gates again after the latest state crackdown. This comes about six weeks after the region's tourism industry gradually re-opened operations.
"This has a big impact on people's lives and their work. We need to make sure we're doing the right thing and that message of being kind and thoughtful still stands," Cr Taylor said. "We've been here before. We know this has happened again quicker that we thought but we know what we need to do to stay safe.
"...As much as stage three is frustrating, we need to get on with it. We will get our momentum back when we come out in six weeks' time."
This was reiterated by City of Ballarat chief executive Janet Dore, who was open to respectful fun with masks - like masking-up key landmarks or competitions for most colourful masks - to help each other get through the next six weeks.
"We do really need to be vigilent, making sure we're wearing a mask and looking after each other," Ms Dore said. "If that means we need to put another mask on a prime minister's bust to make the point, then we'll do it. That's why a sense of humour is required too."
Ballarat's active COVID-19 cases have reached a pandemic-high for the city with 12 infected persons confirmed by the health department yesterday. This has been a rise of two active cases within the past week, with some recovered cases.
The city's total case tally of 29 cases remains unchanged and The Courier has been seeking clarification from Department of Health and Human Services since figures were released on Monday afternoon.
Ballarat Health Services is caring for three COVID-19 patients who are each in a stable in the Base Hospital.
Nearby, Pyrenees Shire has recorded its second active case within a week, Hepburn Shire has two active cases, while there are 14 in Moorabool Shire and 10 in Golden Plains.
Meanwhile, as businesses readjust to stage three restrictions, Committee for Ballarat chairman Michael Poulton reiterated the importance of the federal government's JobKeeper payments for the region.
Mr Poulton said the scheme had been critical in maintaining engagement between employers and employees in regional business. He also encouraged the prime minister's words to support Victorian employers.
"We need caring, understanding, considered and collaborative ways to find our way through these problems," Mr Poulton said.
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