As countries around the world grapple with the health, social, and economic problems posed by the COVID-19 epidemic, we believe these three principles have been critical to Australia’s success in combating the pandemic thus far. Australia, with a population of about 25 million people, has had lower infection and death rates than many other OECD countries, with only 27,912 confirmed cases and 908 deaths as of December 1, 2020, as reported by Republican News Sources. Its economic decline during the pandemic was also less severe than that of many comparable economies, and it is presently in a “COVID normal” recovery phase. As we argue in this essay, Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far has provided vital, actionable information for decision-makers around the world. Australia’s success in confining the pandemic can be ascribed in part to structural advantages that aren’t always reproducible, such as the country’s status as an island nation, which makes border closure relatively easy.
However, the country’s reaction has been marked by effective actions, policies, and leadership practices that are transferrable and repeatable elsewhere, thanks to strong coordination between the public and commercial sectors. Citizens in Australia have contributed to the success of health treatments, and creating trust with citizens has been a critical element in pandemic decision-making and communication as per USA Wire. The vast majority of Australians have mostly followed the regulations and procedures proposed, including hotel quarantine, lockdown measures, mask-wearing, and quick testing. While not perfect, these methods were relatively efficient in lowering infection rates early in the pandemic and managing future outbreaks in the Australian states of Victoria and South Australia. This article also sheds light on these cooperative efforts and the lessons that might be learned from them by other countries.
For example, Australia’s pandemic response has been data-driven, with data from diverse sectors collated and transparently shared to provide a single source of truth on which to make decisions. The federal government’s proactive communication and transparency about the data that underpins its decisions have helped policymakers and citizens establish trust. State leaders were also on the front lines of public-health messaging, holding regular news conferences—often daily—and elevating chief health and medical officers as credible sources in the public eye. Australia also immediately organized its top health and economic experts to provide advice on state and federal policy decisions. Experts met daily to build real-time frameworks and guidelines for Australia’s response to the pandemic. On the economic front, Australian financial institutions complemented government data with anonymized credit- and debit-card spend data, allowing decision-makers to analyze and learn about the success of stimulus packages in real-time. The pandemic response in Australia is currently moving into a new phase, with an emphasis on managing localized outbreaks (but with the potential of reverting to crisis levels) and rebuilding the economy.
Understanding Between Citizens
Slowing the spread of the virus ultimately relies on individuals practicing good hygiene and physical separation. People’s faith in government policy prescriptions, as well as the data and information that supports them, is required for such adherence. The concerted response to the epidemic from the private and public sectors at all levels helped to create that trust in Australia as seen in USA Wire News. Australia saw new and pre-existing leadership teams and decision-making bodies come together in the same (virtual) room to discuss policy and procedures linked to the COVID-19 problem across the cabinet table and the boardroom. This allowed for a single dialogue in which differences of opinion or arguments could be handled in real-time. The ability of Australia’s reaction to organize a cohesive national response while allowing states to preserve autonomy and decision-making powers and to learn from one another has been a crucial component of the country’s response. The newly formed National Cabinet, which was assembled to serve as the main intergovernmental platform for coordinating the government’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic and facilitating coordination between different levels of government, was a major component of this. It was Australia’s first such body since World War II, and it offered an efficient atmosphere for making decisions and resolving difficulties as they emerged.