Ballarat, take a bow and as we do, know the job is not done yet. This week, Ballarat and the surrounding region, ticked ever-so-close to 90 per cent first dose vaccination of the eligible population.
This is an incredible effort, though as I say, the job is not done yet. It is about momentum and this is where leadership comes to play.
The momentum for vaccination has been steaming along in recent weeks and we have seen an almost 30 per cent increase in first dose uptake since the start of September. Perhaps this has been driven by the dread of lockdown.
Regardless, individuals, families, work colleagues and friends have encouraged, cajoled, inspired, persuaded and in some cases mandated each other to Roll Up Our Sleeves and get the jab.
The momentum has shifted and this has occurred because of individual displays of leadership. It is the actions of all of us that have come together to create impact.
Allow me to digress for a moment and bring a smile again to all those Melbourne Football Club supporters. When Bayley Fritsch kicked two goals in less than 30 secs, the momentum of the Grand Final shifted and set Melbourne on the path to their first Premiership in 57 years.
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It was Fritsch's boot that put the ball through the big sticks, but it was all 45 players on Melbourne's list and the all the staff at the football club that led to the outcome we saw on Grand Final day (not to mention the hundreds of others behind every individual involved).
Leadership is not the domain of the anointed or chosen one. It is the domain of many. When I hear government leaders speak of "My government" it makes me cringe as the language creates an air of unentitled ownership and superiority.
It sets one on a pedestal and alienates most, then gives agency to individuals to relinquish personal responsibility and sets up a mandate for blame.
No government could have delivered first dose vaccinations to almost 90 per cent of Ballarat's population. We have all made this happen. All of us have done this, including our local, state and federal governments, our many institutions both formal and informal, the media and our families, all driven by a key enabler of community - care.
No government could have delivered first dose vaccinations to almost 90 per cent of Ballarat's population. We have all made this happen.
Vaccination is a shining example that leadership is about WE not I.
We-ness is a real leadership term and can be defined by the social conditions that exist in a community. We-ness is a socially constructed view of leadership that brings people together through the common bonds of purpose.
Through this Pandemic We-ness has risen above any single individual leader no matter how "Great" they may be bestowed.
We'ness has seen us Be Kind to each other, has seen us support local businesses in ways we haven't done so before and has seen us slow down and savour what we have.
It is We-ness that has seen us comply with some of the harshest restrictions in the world, all for the common good.
"We are all in this together" was a national mantra at the start of this pandemic and whilst it's true at times we have faltered, we are holding our community together during this extended time of crisis.
There are many examples of this and our vaccination rates are an absolute testament to it.
In May, I wrote that contrary to what some were saying at the time, vaccination was a race and we could not afford to be left behind. We do know now that getting vaccines in as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible, right across the state and nation, reduces significantly the impact of this pandemic, sooner.
We do need to finish the job and just as Melbourne did in the final quarter of the AFL Grand Final, lets blow the result beyond expectation.
Why not more than 90 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated. To do this, WE must reach the most vulnerable in our community. We need to empower those who are unsure. We need to ensure accessibility for first and second doses and we will do this because we care.
Our leadership through this time, demonstrated through the incredibly important action of getting vaccinated, has charged us with purpose, provided a sense of solidarity and given us confidence that because of our combined actions, we will achieve the desired outcome.
Our vaccination task must continue to accelerate, we know it is our way out and we know it is within our capacity to do so.
We have shown our willingness to confront the toughest set of conditions we have ever faced and now we can look forward with optimism that together, we will get this done.
- Michael Poulton, CEO of Committee for Ballarat
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