In­spir­ing let­ters from lock­down



Tia Ki­ley first heard about coron­avirus when she over­heard her par­ents talk­ing about peo­ple get­ting sick over­seas. Now the 10-year-old Queens­lan­der is one of thou­sands of Aussies penning let­ters to record this in­cred­i­ble mo­ment in our his­tory.

LET­TERS penned by or­di­nary Queens­lan­ders are paint­ing a pic­ture of what the state has ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing COVID-19 - from fear­ing for the fu­ture and miss­ing hu­man touch, to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing clearer skies and the joys of back­yard camp­ing.

Ex­perts say writ­ing your own let­ter can help to process “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the pan­demic, the worst since the Span­ish flu 100 years’ ago.

The Courier-Mail to­day high­lights some of the let­ters writ­ten by Queens­lan­ders as part of Aus­tralia Post’s Dear Aus­tralia cam­paign, which en­cour­ages peo­ple to write let­ters doc­u­ment­ing their ex­pe­ri­ence of lock­down to be pre­served for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

While 10-year-old Tia Ki­ley was learn­ing tram­po­line tricks and camp­ing in her back­yard, 20-year-old Mad­die Con­aghan was de­liv­er­ing hot meals to re­turned trav­ellers in a “quar­an­tine ho­tel”.

Se­bas­tian Draper, 37, missed hu­man touch and Marie Kelly-Mo­ran ap­pre­ci­ated clearer skies while long­ing for a time she could cud­dle her grand­chil­dren.

“We’re feel­ing a dis­tance be­tween us like we’ve never felt be­fore,” renowned au­thor

Mor­ris Gleitz­man, 67, (inset be­low) wrote in his let­ter. “But we still have sto­ries.”

For­mer Young Aus­tralian of the Year, Lu­cas Patch­ett, co-founder of home­less char­ity Or­ange Sky Laun­dry, wrote of the toll the pan­demic had taken on those less for­tu­nate as the or­gan­i­sa­tion was forced to wind back op­er­a­tions. “This pan­demic has forced us to tem­po­rar­ily pause the 250 shifts, 10 tonnes or wash­ing, 150 safe hot show­ers and 1500 hours of con­ver­sa­tion that hap­pened each week across the coun­try,” he said.

Re­search psy­chol­o­gist Trish Obst said writ­ing a let­ter about your ex­pe­ri­ences, even if you never posted it, was ther­a­peu­tic.

“There is heaps and heaps of re­search on the ben­e­fits of re­flec­tive jour­nal­ing, it’s quite a com­mon ther­a­peu­tic tool,” Dr Obst said. “I think it’s an ab­so­lutely fab­u­lous idea, it prob­a­bly will help peo­ple to think more clearly about their ex­pe­ri­ence and think about what was the good, the bad and the ugly on it. From a men­tal health per­spec­tive that’s a re­ally good thing be­cause it helps to in­te­grate your ex­pe­ri­ences into your sense of self.”

Dr Obst said read­ing other peo­ple’s let­ters can make you feel more con­nected.

“It makes you feel part of the com­mu­nity that has had to go through this to­gether,” she said.

Se­lected let­ters will be put on the Dear Aus­tralia web­site and a host of oth­ers archived at The Na­tional Ar­chives of Aus­tralia in Can­berra.

Pic­tures: Lachie Mil­lard

Mad­die Con­aghan and Tia Ki­ley (op­po­site page) pen their words of wisdom.

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