The Shadow Pandemic Group’s Radical Plan to Save ‘World’s Most Incarcerated Children’

A new ministerial wallet and a public holiday are part of a Victorian parent advocacy group’s drive to help the “world’s most incarcerated children” recover from the effects of Covid.

The Shadow Pandemic Group's Radical Plan to Save 'World's Most Incarcerated Children'

Shadow Pandemic group members Moran Dvir and Jacquie Blackwell spoke to the Pandemic Declaration Accountability and Oversight Committee in state parliament on Friday about the mental health effects the pandemic was having on the public.

The group has developed a nine-point plan to help children recover after spending the better two years at home.

It includes appointing a child recovery minister at the state and federal levels, a public holiday, “Victorian Children’s Day” on October 21, and legislation to ensure schools close and reopen first in a future pandemic.

Camera IconMoran Dvir is one of the organizers of the Shadow Pandemic. Delivered Credit: Delivered

The role of the child recovery minister is said to be separate from Victoria’s education and mental health portfolios, with the shadow pandemic saying a “responsible person” was needed to lead the recovery.

The proposed public holiday will coincide with the last day of the lockdown in 2021 and include free family vouchers for attractions such as zoos, theme parks, restaurants, and museums.

Other ideas proposed include free vacation programs for low socioeconomic or vulnerable families, an independent panel of health experts to review all government policies that affect children, and subsidized membership to community clubs and sports.

Ms. Dvir and Ms. Blackwell said they wanted to ensure their children’s lives were not forever affected by Covid after their physical and emotional development was “irrefutably marred”.

“We are asking the Victorian government and the opposition to urgently implement a plan targeting children and young people and their psychological, social, economic, educational, and physical recovery,” they said.

“Our children’s lives should not be forever limited by Victorian government decisions in 2020 and 2021.

“Let’s restore our children’s childhood. Let’s put our children on the road to recovery.”

Education and Mental Health Minister James Merlino rejected the idea of ​​an extra holiday, saying the government was focused on helping children recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Camera Minister of Education and Mental Health James Merlino has responded to the group’s suggestions. NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui Credit: News Corp Australia

“From a group that every day in 2021 called on the government to be irresponsible for keeping students at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a call to take them out of school for another day is downright ridiculous,” he said.

“We are focused on delivering a true pandemic recovery for young Victorians – from youth mental health to individualized support programs for education, we are making sure every young Victorian gets the support they need as we put these challenging years behind us. to leave.”

The Shadow Pandemic has since said that the proposed holiday would be a day to celebrate childhood.

“As a parent lobby group, we are proud to have a consultative, open process in determining and lobbying for the best way forward for our children,” they said.

“The purpose of Victorian Childhood Day – whether a holiday or not – is to put our children first and return childhood to its rightful place.”

Last week, the group shared testimonies in the state parliament from parents, families, teachers, doctors, and allied health professionals about what children had been through during the lockdown.

They include eating disorders, school refusal, anxiety, and self-harm bills.

Lori J. Kile
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