Together Apart - An inside account on how our VIC SHAPIANS have been staying connected during the lockdown


An inside account of life in VIC’s lockdown from our very own Faye Watson

Pick a spot anywhere on earth – drop a pin. Wherever it lands, you can bet that some form of lockdown has visited and may even be firmly still in residence. We live in an age where technology supports and enables our connectedness at any time, from any place. Yet – this year we’ve been forced into a solitary state that few of us would have been able to imagine before now. The psychological fall-out has undoubtedly been felt throughout the world, and its effects are becoming a familiar story.

From my own perspective, the world constricted by a long way. My family of origin are UK based, so as much as I’m used to not having them on tap – being faced with an indefinite separation and watching with horror as the COVID story unfolds over there has been nerve-wracking to say the least. Then, like many Melbourne families; one of us lost a job, we abruptly found ourselves home-schooling and the structure of life as we knew it gave way to uncertainty, more questions than answers and constantly being on the alert for another seismic change. All of this, of course, takes its toll on mental health. Anxiety, insecurity, lack of human contact and the realisation that we truly are at the mercy of an invisible entity called COVID-19 are things we just accommodate every day.

Taking the lockdown mantra “we’re all in this together” to heart, our Senior Leadership Team recognised pretty quickly that some extraordinary stops needed to be pulled out to find that extra layer of connection. We’re a sociable and supportive lot at the best of times – so we set to work on finding ways to hold one another up during the worst of times, with some fantastic results!

Here’s a look back along the lockdown timeline…

  • SHAPE VIC virtual pub:opens every Friday at 4.00, drop in for a chat! 
  • How are our projects going? How are people coping at home? Can I see my SHAPE mates? Look no further than the introduction of a regular staff meeting video. We Jump from creative site-walk throughs to beleaguered novice-teacher parents to lonesome home-alones with plenty of comedy moments and cinematic soundtracks… staff meeting engagement reaches a record high!
  • And now for something completely different: every week we’ve had a new online activity to join in with…
  • Yoga:Ohhhhm, breathe, stretch, fall over – repeat
  • Indigenous painting class: so privileged to be taught by Bibi Barba
  • Dress-up Disco themed trivia: featured a heavily photoshopped Senior Leadership Team, whilst staff wore a variety of shiny synthetic fabrics and sported big hairstyles 
  • Paint the boss night: We engaged an artist to teach us the rudiments of painting using coffee (how very Melbourne), producing amazing(!) portraits of our GM. The wine really helped with creativity.
  • Most bonkers mask competition: Purely for our own amusement, enormously ingenious and creative entries revealed some artistic and slightly worrying latent abilities among us.
  • Comedy night: We may not have been able to reach the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year, but it reached us in the form of a hilarious chat with local comedy circuit favourite Dilruk Jayasinha
  • Sessions with the fantastic Bek Smith: who put psychological theory into a series of satisfyingly digestible packed-lunches covering everything from overcoming insecurities and coping with burn-out to conquering procrastination
  • Time for skilling-up: our PCT team rallied fast and pulled together a fantastic variety of peer to peer training courses, designed to entrench our technical knowledge share our collective expertise. 

What’s coming – well who really knows? But we think it’s fair to say that along this unpredictable and bumpy road, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to reach out and support one another. Whatever comes, we’ve got this!

Faye Watson | Executive Assistant
SHAPE Victoria