The Victorian government gave its citizens hours to return, without providing the necessary information or infrastructure to support them through 14 days of isolation. Then they faced a total lack of sympathy from fellow Victorians.

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Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

A month ago, I was looking forward to enjoying Christmas with my family in Sydney — after a pretty tough year that was mostly spent in strict lockdown in Melbourne. With a border closure between Victoria and NSW that lasted for months, I hadn’t seen my mother, siblings, nieces, or nephews since rushing back home from Sydney in March.

There was an overwhelming sense of deja vu from that trip when Premier Daniel Andrews announced suddenly on 20th December that any Victorians in Sydney had to return before midnight. If they came back within the next 24 hours after that, they would have to isolate at home for 14 days. …


In an absolute s***storm of a year, it’s encouraging to see democracy in action.

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The author with her dog.

It’s an understatement to say that 2020 has been a very strange year — for everyone. In my case, it’s not only a pandemic that has turned my life around, but a dog.

A year ago, my partner and I were talking about fostering a dog from the largest animal shelter in our city. A couple of weeks later, we picked up Dash — a greyhound who had suffered abuse at the hands of the racing industry. We were told we would be given support with his behavioural issues. …


Amid the ongoing culture wars, a “for or against” mentality has removed all nuance from political discussions.

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A lack of data is allowing killing to happen behind closed doors — unreported, unaccounted for, and largely unknown by the public.

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Earlier this year, before our lives were upended by a global pandemic, our little household suffered its own personal tragedy. Our foster greyhound Dash was killed by a so-called animal welfare organisation after completing his foster placement with us — becoming another statistic in the broken animal shelter system.

Reports of the numbers of cats and dogs killed in Australian shelters each year vary widely — from 100,000 up to more than 250,000. Without a standardised system for monitoring dogs entering council pounds and shelters, it is impossible to find an accurate figure.

In fact, a study completed over several years and published in 2017, showed “a lack of comprehensive and reliable data at the federal, state and local government levels across public and private agencies”. In lieu of government-collected statistics, the researchers had to develop their own methodology to estimate the annual numbers of dog admissions and their outcomes. …


More women are choosing not to have children — but you wouldn’t know it from watching film and TV.

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When I think about how women are portrayed on-screen, the final image in the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill comes to mind.

In a montage laden with sentimentality, we are whisked through Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts’ romantic life — culminating in a scene on a park bench. He is ensconced in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, a fittingly-intellectual read for a professional bookseller. She is draped across his lap, cradling her pregnant belly and staring serenely at the group of children playing around them.

What is effectively communicated in a few seconds is embedded into women by popular culture from when they are little girls: motherhood is the completion of her journey. …


Seeing my old school in the news has resurfaced anger from the 13 years I spent there.

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Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

No matter how hard you try, it seems you can’t escape your childhood. Even if you unfriend everyone you went to school with, leave the WhatsApp chat group, ignore invitations to your 5, 10, and 15 year reunions, and move interstate — you can still turn on the news and come face to face with your past when your religious school becomes a hotspot in a global pandemic.

This was the case for me a few weeks ago. It has been almost 20 years since I graduated from school — and I have never set foot in the place since. But as the days passed and the COVID-19 cluster grew, I felt a familiar sense of anger rise to the surface, one that has bubbled beneath the veneer of my godless life for almost two decades. …


Isolation has forced us to re-think our relationship with time.

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Today is Monday. I know because I checked my diary and not because it is any different to yesterday, when I had two work meetings on what was apparently a Sunday. People keep asking me how long we’ve been in lockdown now in Melbourne and the answer is truthfully, I don’t know.

I no longer have any sense of time — days blur into nights and back into days. I can’t be sure whether something happened yesterday, last week, or last month. I sleep in the afternoon when I feel like it (most days) and I change out of my pyjamas (or don’t) at whatever time I remember to do so. …


On #ChallengeAccepted and how female empowerment has been co-opted by capitalism (and the Kardashians).

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What does the word “empowered” mean? If you were believe the hashtag on Instagram, it would seem to denote being female-identifying, having a camera, and a black-and-white filter.

The most recent trend circulating on the social media app, renowned as a platform for pretty people to post flattering photos of themselves, was #challengeaccepted whereby women posted flattering black-and-white selfies and “challenged” other women to do the same.

Celebrities — having learned seemingly nothing from the trainwreck “Imagine” video — were quick to jump on the bandwagon. …


The endless culture wars are as exhausting as the confinement.

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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

During this pandemic, my routine — and that of everyone in my city of Melbourne — looks something like this. Spend all morning waiting for the time of the Premier’s press conference to be announced. Wait for the press conference where today’s number of new cases is delivered. Anxiously hope that it is lower than yesterday’s. Spend the rest of the day worrying about the fact that it isn’t. Wonder constantly if the tickle in my throat means I should get tested (even though a sore throat is a reliable feature of the Melbourne winter). Think I’ll wait and see if it’s worse tomorrow. …


On the hollow promise of “socially conscious sheltering”

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Photo by Tillmann Hübner on Unsplash

In February this year, the brief reprieve between the bushfires and the global pandemic, I found out that a beautiful greyhound that I’d fostered through a large animal shelter was killed for treatable anxiety.

My grief and guilt slowly turned to anger when the shelter justified its decision by pointing to the time and resources that would be necessary to rehabilitate a dog like Dash, who had been traumatised by the racing industry.

Until this experience, I had no idea about the way that pounds and shelters operate in Australia — and how horrifying the statistics are. It is estimated that up to 100,000 cats and dogs are euthanised each year, many of them healthy and capable of rehabilitation (given, of course, the necessary time and resources). …

About

Claire J. Harris

Global wanderer. Expert thumb-twiddler. Screenwriter, travel writer, and copy writer. Find me at www.clairejharris.com.

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