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Thursday, 9 April 2020

Hon. Bernie Ripoll
Director, SAS Group

There are very few silver linings to our current circumstances, global or local. Whether we like it or not, we are in this together.

As human beings, we prove every day just how adaptable and effective we are at reorganising our lives. Things that were previously thought impossible, such as restrictions on our freedoms, or a government stimulus package that will require our grandchildren to repay, are now accepted without revolt. The length of time in which we must endure this state of flux is unknown but returning to the “the way things were” is also not possible.

Australia it seems, just as it did during the global financial crisis, can respond quickly and effectively to minimise the impact of our current COVID-19 crisis. We are also a leading developer for a potential vaccine that solves this crisis long term. As mostly law-abiding and caring people we are responsive to our neighbours in need and have a great capacity to solve national problems. This quality forms part of that hard to define Australianness invoked in times of natural disasters and bad times - being Aussie!

Sadly though, despite these great national characteristics, many Australians will have their lives disrupted permanently. Job losses, business closures, bankruptcy, loss of income, change of lifestyle and personal restrictions make life very challenging.

Finding any silver lining is difficult, but perhaps there is something we can all share - the luxury of time. In times like these, we have no option but to take an optimistic view and invoke the power of the Aussie spirit.

You’ve heard it all before – there aren’t enough hours in a day, days in the week, I’m just too busy, flat out as we like to say. Somehow, as we get older and “busier” the hourglass filled with sand that slowly empties, seems to speed up each passing year, but for the first time in a very long time, I feel as if the sand is flowing out a little slower. I have more time during the day and week, not less work, just more time. Sure, it’s because I’m not doing all the same things as before, but that’s my point.

COVID-19 has disrupted my life but it has also reconnected me to people I haven’t seen or spoken with in a long time as well. Where I was once too busy travelling, getting to meetings, or spending too much time at events captured by my own attendance - now I feel more in control, more able to be selective and more productive.

This is not a solution for everyone. All our circumstances are different, but what can be shared equally is the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family. Choose your own technology platform to connect and chat while cooking dinner, working in the home office or garage. What would have been awkward and unnecessary in the past is now normal and a point of reconnection.

Not restricted to just personal life, even serious business meetings normally requiring a suit and tie are being conducted with participant’s wearing t-shirts and shorts in the comfort of their own home. No-one seems concerned - these are very unusual times.

It will be difficult to adjust to a changing work environment or job loss questioning what the future may bring, but as Australians, we should take the Aussie spirit with both hands and grasp the luxury of time. The opportunity to do things that have been put off for years need not be put off any longer. Whether it’s back to school online to learn a new skill, qualification or hobby, whether it’s painting the fence, fixing the leaking taps, cleaning out cupboards, doing the garden, calling family and friends, or just time to reflect.

We could complain, but there’s always plenty of time for that later, instead, let’s grab the opportunity and make something with it. The luxury of time only works going forward, for once you get to control the speed. Happy Easter at home.

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