I recently returned from the US. My sister picked me up from the airport and whisked me home to the family farm roughly halfway between Albury and Wagga where I have been waiting out two weeks in self isolation.
Cities all over the world have been going into lockdowns and enforcing measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. I thought I'd share what self isolation might mean in a regional or remote community based on thoughts during my own solitude.
The nicest thing about self isolating on the farm is I can safely go outside, whereas people in cities are confined to their tiny apartments, backyard or whatever small private space they have, I'm lucky to have a backyard of nearly 3000 acres to play in! I've got open spaces to exercise, take a walk or enjoy the weather with little chance of spreading germs to others.
IN OTHER CORONAVIRUS NEWS:
Another good thing about self isolation on the farm is work life is mostly uninterrupted. Working from home is normal for farmers and not seeing others for days at a time isn't that unusual. Of course, life can't go completely as normal. If you need to pick up supplies everything becomes a bit more tricky.
For some things you could negotiate a 'dead drop', but you can't just stroll down the supermarket aisle. It's a big favour to ask someone to drive 60km to drop off food, pharmacy products, or whatever other essentials you need. Luckily I have not been left wanting.
When the option of face to face interaction is removed, we rely more heavily on phones and the internet to keep in touch. Unfortunately, a lot of regional and remote areas have poor mobile phone coverage or slow and unreliable internet connections. Furthermore, farmers are generally older and might not know how to use some technologies.
Connectivity issues certainly aren't a new problem in remote communities, but being forced into self isolation again highlights the need for appropriate services. In a time when Australia is facing uncertainty and anxiety from COVID-19, we're going to want to be more connected than ever before to check in on our loved ones and stay updated on news.
In the past few days I've realised that forced self isolation has a completely different, more sinister tone than regular farm isolation. Simple activities, like going to the footy, which are important to remote communities for belonging and togetherness, are under threat. On the farm we are more alone and coronavirus is going to intensify this isolation.
- Victoria Ellis spent time at The Border Mail last year as the Cameron Thompson Scholarship recipient