Charity, Parents Beyond Breakup, Chair Brendan Blomeley, writes in the Hobart Mercury (full subscriber article):
In recent days, we have watched with heartfelt concern for our friends and family on the other side of Bass Strait, as many of them return to strict Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions.
While necessary, these measures have come at a price and for some, this price has been high.
The coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably changed our way of life. As the community grapples to deal with what appears to be the new norm, mental health support services have experienced an exponential growth in demand.
The prospect of job loss, anxiety about what happens when JobKeeper ends or simply how to meet daily bills, have been key concerns. For others, particularly separated families where children or one parent may live interstate, it is about when they will see each other again.
Last Friday, the Premier confirmed that our borders would not reopen on July 24 and, dependent on Public Health advice, may not open for some time.The Premier and his government, with the support of the opposition parties, has done a sterling job adopting public health advice to keep our borders secure and Tasmanians safe. However, for some, this price has been high and led to a corresponding spike in demand for mental health support services.
Parents Beyond Breakup is a national suicide prevention charity specifically focused on supporting separated families.
While social distancing restrictions have necessitated the move to online platforms of our local peer support groups, these, along with our national helpline and various online resources have, in line with sector peers, experienced a marked increase in demand for our services in recent months.
My children principally reside in Sydney with their mother and, pre-coronavirus, would travel to Tasmania fortnightly. The last time I was able to give them a hug was Friday, March 20, and while FaceTime is a great platform, believe me, virtual hugs are a poor substitute for the real thing.
Adding to the dilemma for separated families is the backlog in family law proceedings, which has been further frustrated by social distancing and related restrictions.
Parents Beyond Breakup plays a key role in supporting parents. In simple terms, each year there are many more Australian kids who get to keep their parents in their lives due to our support.
Any mums or dads experiencing breakup and in need of support, or anyone wishing to know more about our services, please contact us via phone 1300 853 437 or at www.parentsbeyondbreakup.com
Brendan Blomeley is national chairman of Parents Beyond Breakup, a national suicide prevention charity. He is also a Clarence City Council alderman.