In Parliament

Members Statement - COVID Policy Hurting Kids



Wednesday, 15 September 2021.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton):

The State Labor Government has justified every decision it has made during the pandemic by saying that the imposition of punitive policy has been based on expert health advice.

Within days, these decisions will have led to Melbourne becoming the most locked up city on the planet.

Victorians know that our children have been amongst those most affected by these punitive policies.

As parents look at their children, they know the damage that is being done to their kids—government policies that have kept our children locked out of schools; banned kids from playing in playgrounds or using skate parks; and policies that have permanently isolated young people.

Even the Premier himself has whipped up the threat of danger to our children by saying that as a dad, the threat terrifies him.

All of this damage has been done in the name of so-called expert health advice— advice that Victorians have never seen.

But what do the available health facts actually show?

It’s true, evidence shows, that delta infection rates are higher in young people under 18 years of age.

But hospitalisation rates are: 1.7 per cent for children aged between 0 and four; 1.4 per cent for children aged between five and 11; and 2.2 per cent for children aged between 12 and 17.

We also know that the virus has not caused the death of any Australian child. These health outcomes are matched by a growing body of expert opinion from health experts—experts willing to put their name to their advice.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, in its recently released report ‘COVID-19 and Child and Adolescent Health’ has found that: ‘Children and adolescents who have COVID-19 commonly have no symptoms, or only mild symptoms’ and that ‘The Delta variant does not appear to cause more severe disease …’.

And Associate Professor Margie Danchin, an immunisation expert at the Royal Children’s Hospital, has said: ‘There is this real groundswell of panic among parents … Overall, parents need to know that kids still mostly get mild disease with a sore throat, runny nose and fatigue mostly, like a nasty cold, but they are very unlikely to get sick’.

Similarly, Robert Booy, a professor at New South Wales’ Children’s Hospital at Westmead has said: ‘They can catch infection easily but most cases have no or mild symptoms. You might not even know you’ve had COVID-19’.

These are the facts put forward by experts willing to put their name to their health advice.

What should disturb every Victorian is what the health experts are now saying about the real cause of damage to our children.

As the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has found: ‘The main risks to children and adolescents’ health in this pandemic continues to be due to indirect effects on mental health, wellbeing and education, which are worsened by continued lockdowns and school closures’.

The experts are saying that the main risk to our kids is mental health— exacerbated by government policy.

Parents know that the mental health crisis is the real shadow pandemic.

There are 173 Victorians in hospital with COVID today—of the 4038 active cases
in the State.

Yet, the recent Victorian Agency for Health Information, child and adolescent edition, report shows that each day almost 50 children and teenagers present to emergency departments in a mental health crisis—at an average of 342 each week.

Of course, we need to implement policy to protect our kids.

But we also need to stop policy which the experts say is damaging our kids.

Because right now, Victorian children are silently screaming. And this State Labor Government isn’t listening to them.