Stop Reacting and Start Managing!

The price we're all paying because there is not a national approach to COVID case management
This week's blog was going to be very different, but after being forced into a snap 3 day lockdown, I've decided to pen my thoughts.

Warning: This blog contains my frustrated rant as well as some possible simple solutions (and some RTO leadership lessons).

I understand and agree the health of all Australians is paramount, and like our Prime Minister and State Premiers, I don't want anyone to contract or heaven forbid, die from COVID-19 as a result of community transmissions.

However, I'm looking for a national and consistent response to a positive case rather than these snap State based lockdown decisions which continue to occur.

Why? Because I believe we're paying a very high price for uncertainty and instability – both now and in the long term.
FOCUS:  Embrace Your ROLE
Just like staff in our businesses, I believe Australians are looking to our political leaders for confidence, clarity and consistency (combined with transparency).

And yet, unfortunately, I don't feel we're getting this.

Instead of a proactive, measured and national approach to the management of positive cases; we're having many State Premiers play border politics because they are reacting, rather than managing, something which we now know is here for the long haul.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude towards what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.
Brian Tracy

Quite an appropriate quote, wouldn't you agree as our world has forever changed, and I'm doing my best to embrace this quote right now.  But as we all know, it is certainly hard to do when emotions are flying high and so much is at stake.

For months now, I've been saying to my coaching clients and members that just like any changes to the Standards, regulation and business operations; it's time to change the COVID conversation to determine how we can manage positive cases (in a reasonable way), rather than reacting to 1 or 2 positive cases which has often resulted in snap lockdowns and extreme border restrictions.

Now please don't misunderstand my position (and rant). I can certainly appreciate how difficult it must be to determine what steps should be taken when there is a positive case.

But what's frustrating me is because of how 'states rights' are established under the Constitution, the Prime Minister's hands are somewhat tied as to what direction and restrictions he can put in place; leaving us at the mercy of our State and Territory leaders.

I don't understand (though the cynic in me knows the reason) why aren't they working together, as part of COAG, to have a national position on how positive cases will be managed, what the magical number is which determines a lockdown, for how long etc?

Surely this is what the job description is all about – working for the good of the Country (not just their State) and providing constituents (aka us) with consistency, clarity and confidence so we can develop contingency plans and have some faith we'll be able to implement them.

At the moment, businesses and by default us, are at the whim of the government which has created unnecessary anxiety, confusion and frustration.

And look at the price we've paid and continue to pay

Snap lockdowns seem to be the only containment strategy to 'keep people safe', regardless of the effect on businesses who are struggling to survive which has a domino effect on the economy; as well as on our mental health and well being.

And by the way, no point doing deals with the airlines and telling us to 'travel at home' when we have no certainty we can not only get to the location and enjoy the holiday/football game etc we've travelled to and paid for; BUT also get home without further inconvenience and cost including forced hotel quarantine.

I'm also frustrated because I've been forced into lockdown when I haven't visited nor been anywhere near the places on the hotspot list.

Surely life needs to continue in a more measured and reasonable manner, and not operate under this constant fear and anxiety of possible shutdowns.

Because we need to be realistic – unfortunately, there will be more positive cases until everyone is vaccinated and we can see the vaccinations have worked.

Many small businesses will not survive further snap lockdowns and people's frustrations are also running high which could create the opposite effect – one of complacency and defiance which we definitely don't want.

What's in jeopardy right now in the Greater Brisbane area is:

Tourism industry decimated again who were just rejoicing because many had full occupancy and bookings for the first time in over 12 months. The lockdown is in the Greater Brisbane area but the loss and the financial pain is being felt even as high as Cairns due to border and travel restrictions which include the whole State.

Easter church festivities possibly lost again (and as someone who streamed live services last year – it is definitely not the same as being in church). I'm keeping everything crossed this does not occur.

Hospitality industry who thought they could finally remain open if they met square metreage requirements, are now back to take-away options or in many cases shut.

Small businesses and their employees who have lost work eg beauty industry, hairdressers and the list goes on, who can't work remotely so they've simply lost all their bookings for this week because we then have the Good Friday public holiday.

• Further frustration and anxiety amongst the public especially children and the elderly. Once again, there has been panic buying so stores have had to place restrictions on certain products. And I include children as one of the girls in my netball team didn't come to training because of the anxiety the lockdown created.

Due to the short notice of the lockdown, think of the amount of wasted time and energy which has been spent on phones and emails, by both businesses and the public, to cancel/change bookings, travel plans, childcare arrangements etc.

And let's not forget the mental health and well being of those in aged and community care who once again, have lost the face to face connection with their family and friends.

My fear for 2021 and beyond is that snap lockdowns as the 'circuit breakers' is the only strategy for containment as Premier Palazczuk intimidated 'this is what we can expect until we're all vaccinated'.

Surely there has to be a different (and better) way to manage this ongoing pandemic?

What's Next?
I'd like to see a more proactive and national case management strategy which allows you to travel and continue living your life, as long as you sign a declaration stating you haven't been to those COVID-19 hotspots.

And why aren't we following countries in the Northern Hemisphere and all doing the simple and apparently best preventive measure by mandating masks are to be worn indoors at all times and outdoors if you can't social distance until everyone in Australia is at least vaccinated and its deemed to be working (which is probably till at least the end of 2021).

This is how many countries are enabling their businesses and the community to manage COVID and they are gaining more engagement and minimising risks as a result. I would prefer to have this 'mandatory inconvenience' than be in this constant state of 'will we, won't be in lockdown?' or 'can we, can't we travel- even intrastate?'

I would also mandate using the COVID Safe App every time you leave your home and aren't at a venue where you have to check in and check out – to increase the speed and information pertaining to contact tracing.

Finally, where is the 'Devil's Advocate' person in these high level government meetings asking the 'common person' questions and ensuring the assumptions we all made like 'anyone working in the COVID hospital unit must be vaccinated' is actually being made mandatory policy.  In case you didn't know, that's where one of the clusters have come from and only yesterday, the Premier implemented this policy.

Is it any wonder people are angry and frustrated?

And here's my final thought:

I know many people running RTOs and working in 'RTO Land' often react (and at times negatively) to any change within the VET sector; rather than calming looking at how they can manage these changes within their RTO business operations.

As I've always said and it's the quote included on the back cover of my book:

If you don't like compliance and don't like change, then don't work for an RTO or be one.

So are you reacting to everything and everyone in your RTO, or have you developed an effective management strategy so you can calmly deal with whatever comes your way?

P.S. If you want a successful 2021, then download 20 of my most popular RTO business blogs including Prepare for Lockdown 2.0 here.

Dedicated to helping you manage your growing RTO business

Author: Tamara Simon

Tamara Simon is Australia's Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach who's driven to making your RTO life easier.

For over twenty years, she's been helping timepoor RTO Owners, CEOs and Managers get out of OVERWHELM so they can

- Get back in control and on track

- Grow their business... simply

- Reignite their passion for training

Find out more about Tamara Simon, her Coach In Your Corner RTO Membership Program and how she can take your RTO from Overwhelmed to Optimised here:

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