The Covid-19 Pandemic was a unique, disruptive and at times catastrophic experience for our community. Three years since the start of the pandemic, we have still not come to terms personally and collectively with its impact on our lives and our society.
Inspired by the Covid Truths - The People’s Commission and Public Inquiry Committees project, run by social movement organisations in India, this project will involve holding several Pandemic Public Hearings in locations across greater Melbourne and potentially regional Victoria.
These public events will be an opportunity for all members of the public to come forward with their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. They will be able to speak to the impacts on all aspects of their lives: work, health, education, economic, familial, social and psychological. The event may provide opportunities for people to be heard by organisations, government and the media. It will also be an opportunity for the community to collectively process the difficult and life changing experiences of the pandemic.
We hope these public hearings will create a model for how we can process major catastrophic events as a community, to understand how they have changed us and learn lessons for the future.
We know that in a time of rapidly escalating climate change impacts, major events (fires, floods, heatwaves, destructive storms and so on) will continue to impact on our communities. We hope that these hearings will provide useful insights into how communities can support each other during and after times of crisis.
The first pilot hearing for this project will be held on Saturday October 21, for members of the Darebin community. RSVP here to register your interest.
How will it work?
The event won’t be a ‘town hall’ style forum. Instead there will be groups of 10-12 chairs with a facilitator to guide discussions and document what they hear from participants. Those documented discussions will then be synthesised in a report and there will be an opportunity for community members to return to make sense of what came out of the process and work out if there is anything they want to work on as a community or advocate for in the wake of the discussion.
The facilitators will hold the discussions in blocks of time across the day, so people can choose a time slot to attend that works best for them. We will release more information about the time slots closer to the date.
At this point we do not have plans for what will be done with the feedback we receive. But we expect that there will be useful information and recommendations appropriate for local and state governments, non governmental and community organisations, and we will aim to produce a report that will be freely available to the public.
How can I get involved with organising?
We are currently looking volunteers in the Darebin area who may be able to help us organise the hearing. If you are involved in the local community and can join our organising collective, please contact [email protected].
We will need assistance with:
- Event organisation and promotion
- Mobilising local participating organisations
- Hosting and facilitating hearings
- Facilitating participation of a diversity of groups in the community, e.g. translation services
- Developing documentation of the project
After our Darebin pilot, we will evaluate how the process has gone and look into holding further hearings in different areas. If you live in a different area and are interested in helping to organise one in your local community, please contact [email protected].