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Out of Touch: COVID Stories from WA

Funded by the State Library of Western Australia, this collection of stories documents experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit Australia in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic lead to the declaration of a State of Emergency on 16 March 2020. Western Australia went into strict lockdown between the months of March to May, with further restrictions continuing for months after.

During this time, events were cancelled, schools shut down, and parks became overcrowded. Thousands of individuals, businesses, communities, and organisations were severely impacted as they were forced to work from home, social distance, and book emergency flights home.

This collection explores the pandemic’s impact on essential workers, family members, athletes, academics, policy makers, young people, and migrants, and contributes a record of this remarkable time in history.

Our deepest gratitude to our storytellers: Kate Alderton, Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Peter Bol, Rafael Gonzalez, Suzanne Green, Brad Hilliard, Michelle Johnston, Robyn Lambird, Rachael Lynch, Joanne Micallef, Mary McConnell, Christine McCormack, Brad Ness, Matt Wearn, Zee Zunnur.

Thank you to our producers: Sisonke Msimang, Kristen Marano, Rita Saggar, Mason Vellios.

Rafael Gonzalez shares his experience of getting a new job, moving out of home, and having his life put on pause, all while in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robyn Lambird was pushing their body to peak performance ahead of their first Paralympic Games when the news of the postponement of the Paralympics came down.
Dr Michelle Johnston outlines what a day in the emergency department looked like during the pandemic. COVID-19 highlighted the severe inequalities many people face within Australia as well as the incredible strength of medical workers and other essential workers during this time.
Dancer Zee Zunnur moved to Perth with her partner during the pandemic. Zee shares her experience of quarantining in a new country and the impact COVID-19 had on her career, on making friends, and her artistic trajectory.
Throughout the pandemic, Olympic runner Peter Bol navigated new ways to train and involve young aspiring athletes on his daily runs.
Sisters, Joanne Micallef and Suzanne Green share beautiful memories of their father and the difficulties of grieving when isolated from one another in lockdown. 
When Brad Ness and his team couldn’t train together anymore at the Western Australian Institute of Sport, they got creative. Brad brings us on the journey of how COVID-19 brought this team closer together.
Mary McConnell is the Disaster Management Coordinator at Joondalup Health Campus, which took in over 40 COVID-positive patients, many of which were from the German cruise ship, the Artania.
Kate Alderton is the director of the Aboriginal Engagement Directorate within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Kate shares insight on the impact COVID-19 had on policy making for rural and remote Aboriginal communities across Western Australia.
Prof Anna Arabindan-Kesson was living in the United States when the pandemic struck the world. This period of time was particularly urgent for Americans with mass anti-masker protests, riots, and the important resurrection of the Black Lives Matter movement after the unlawful murder of George Floyd.
Brad Hilliard reflects on the way the school community reacted to the pandemic all while pushing back exams, cancelling leavers, and converting to online learning. 
When COVID-19 hit Perth, Rachael Lynch was celebrating being international goalkeeper of the year and playing her 200th game. A registered nurse: she quickly stepped off the field and onto the frontlines to fulfil what she calls a “moral duty.”
When the global pandemic was becoming increasingly urgent, Christine McCormack received news that a close family member was terminally ill.
Matt Wearn was headed into what he calls “one of the best years of his life,” when the news of the postponement of the Olympics came down.
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