Victoria’s Epidemic of Despair

The Victorian government has devised a new solution to mental health problems.  Using legislation under its “State of Emergency”, the police now arrest and fine persons suffering mental health problems who try to make any form of public outcry over their afflictions.  The premier, Daniel Andrews, has set the fine at $1650 per incident.  Keep trying to complain about your depression or mental illness, and the police will fine you again and again.


Shortly after this essay was published, Premier Andrews ended his curfew
and restored the right of anglers to drop a line, but only for two hours a day.
Golfers, however, were not so blessed.
For more, read on


Victoria’s state capital, Melbourne, has for months been experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis.  The Lifeline service has handled more telephone calls per day than ever in its entire history.  Suicides in Melbourne are at all-time peak levels.  Other counselling services report a tsunami in callers afflicted by depression and related problems, while social media is awash with escalating incidents of domestic violence and self-harm.

This mental health crisis is the direct outcome of the Victorian government’s heavy-handed strategy to control COVID-19, the toughest in the Western world.  But it seems to have caused more health problems than it is geared to prevent.

It is no exaggeration to say daily life is more tightly controlled in Melbourne than in Pyongyang.  For months now, Melbourne residents have been in effective home detention, most businesses having been forcibly closed by government decree.  Many will never reopen. Apart from the few still employed, residents are permitted to leave their home only for a single hour each day.  As well, the entire metropolitan area has been under nightly curfew from 8.00pm to 5.00am (this was broadened a week back by an hour to 9.00pm to 5.00am).  Any travel apart from that required by employment, is limited to 5 kilometres from home.  Venturing beyond 5 kms incurs a $1650 fine, while those caught outside suburban Melbourne get $5000 fines.

When enjoying their single daily hour outdoors, Melburnians can only either shop or exercise, and there are more restrictions on how and where to do so.  Most shops are shuttered, while certain parks and beaches are closed.  Local authorities have taped off benches and public seating in shopping strips and parklands; and cameras have been installed in some parks to monitor people exercising.  Uniformed police move on anyone who stops walking, sits down, or talks with others, threatening them with $1650 fines or arrest.

It is illegal to stop and talk with others in any public place, even if social distancing is being observed and masks worn.  Talking with someone is classified as a “gathering” and also incurs a fine of $1650 or arrest.  Even in North Korea people are permitted to talk to one another.

After nearly six months of this the Black Dog has truly settled in Melbourne.  The government runs constant advertising in local media advising residents to seek assistance if they have mental health problems or depression, but the cause of the crisis is not lifted. Social media is most revealing, for there has been widespread talk there of making a noise publicly, expressing their hurt, and highlighting the soaring self-harm and suicide rates.

Three attempts to hold a demonstration have been made during the last month.  Far from showing compassion, the Andrews government have treated all as instances of politically-motivated civil disobedience.  Those who have been suffering, the victims of this government instigated mental health crisis, were treated roughly by uniformed police, arrested, and fined.  Their anxious banners (slogans included “Open the Churches”, “We Bleed”, “Stop Suicides”) were confiscated and destroyed.

Watching Victoria’s premier at a recent press conference a memory suddenly sprang to mind.  His blasé dismissal of protestors who were so clearly suffering echoed the demeanour of Madame Nhu, First Lady of South Vietnam during my youth, famous for saying “Power is wonderful, and total power is totally wonderful.”  I found myself recalling Madame Nhu’s smiles when buddhist monks committed suicide by self-immolation, how she dismissively called these needless deaths “buddhist barbeques”.

I watch Melbourne each day and feel profoundly disturbed.  Compassion is dead here.  Life in this city has become a slow suicide.

  • Nezysquared

    There is a 7 letter word which begins with F and ends in T which is an apt description of temporary premier Andrews. Cockwomble is another. Whilst the rest of Australia is happy to acknowledge him as a complete and utter waste of skin as well as being an oxygen thief, it needs to be remembered that the people of Victoria elected him as premier, not once but twice. It would appear that despair and insanity are apt bedfellows in that sorry state…..

  • Stephen Due

    What we are seeing globally, not just in Victoria, are governments that look alright when not under pressure but lack the systems, principles and intellect to deal with a crisis. Honourable exceptions include Sweden and South Dakota. I note that in both cases the authorities expressly stated that they were not prepared to take action inconsistent with the liberty of their people.
    This is no trivial matter. Democrats recognise that personal responsibility and the free contest of ideas are essential for the health and well-being of all. The public good depends fundamentally on the liberty of the citizens. The authorities in both Sweden and South Dakota expressly stated, when announcing their reasons for not locking down, “We trust our people”.
    Australia should be pursuing revisions of existing emergency powers to make them more consistent with democracy. And why not have a program in schools to inculcate in children an appreciation of the historical legacy of liberty we all enjoy?
    It is said that free nations are never more than a generation away from tyranny. Consider this recent response from Daniel Andrews to a journalist: “This is not about human rights. Next question?”

  • Wyndham Dix

    “We trust our people”…the authorities of Sweden and South Dakota.

    In English justice we select at random a jury of twelve men (and women) good and true to weigh and decide upon the evidence brought before the Court concerning a defendant accused of committing a criminal offence.

    We do not select a panel of twelve experts whose very expertise and possible group-think distorts their perspective.

    Why should we not in the same way trust the sense of ordinary people to determine their responses to a threat such as the current corona/influenza virus, even if some official coaching or reminding about hand and oral hygiene and special care of the elderly and vulnerable is thought wise?

    The vast majority of ordinary people do not wilfully foul their own nests, nor, I suggest, their neighbours’.

    Common sense is not yet dead, despite growing pervasiveness of the nanny state and authoritarianism.

  • Karnjirrwala

    There is a twisted logic to Andrews’ unprecedented repression. The more stringent the repression, the deeper the crisis, the more stringent measures are justified. The problem that dictators face is the eventual pressure to lift the foot off the neck of the people, for then and only then will the regime be revealed as a self-serving sham.

  • Uhugh

    The author has fallen for the myth of the mental health crisis . The suicide rate in Victoria is lower than previous years . There have never been more mental health experts “ and resources – mental health is an industry with an insatiable hunger for ever increased funding. There is an emerging law – the more mental health organisations , the more mental illness – This iatrogenic factor – the constant conditioning by vested interests and virtue signallers about alleged incidence of depression and suicide significantly creates these conditions. The mental illness industry – is crowded with charlatans, health bureaucrats , fund seekers and mental health scammers , professional fake “ carers” and careerists who have a virtue signalling vested interest in maintaining the myth of the mental health crisis.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    Common sense and common humanity are quite uncommon in Dictator Dan’s domain and reign of terror.

    Social isolation is a punishment for any human being. It has profound psychological consequences if it goes on for too long.

  • Stephen Isaacs

    I refer fellow subscribers to two books by the great American Economist, Thomas Sowell. “Intellectuals and Society” and “A Conflict of Visions”. Dr. Sowell is now 90 years old and seems as sharp as ever. The over reliance on experts and unrestrained visions loom large in Victoria’s response to the Wuhan Virus. The books are worth reading but Youtube has a couple of Hoover Institute interviews with Dr. Sowell which cover much of the ground.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Dr Sowell is a treasure. His retirement has left a yawning chasm in our intellectual landscape.

  • sue

    The virus is and always was a hoax.
    Just another flu season.
    No deaths to speak of, just ask the President of the Bulgarian Pathologist’s Association.
    After conducting hundreds of autopsies they, The Bulgarian Pathologists conclude that Corona Virus can’t be detected as an instrument in any death tested.
    What’s different about them?
    They are an extremely maths and science based society but almost immune to western propaganda, therefroe a good source of scientific truth.

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