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How research is helping to shape Australia’s recovery from COVID-19

I recently had the privilege to be part of an expert taskforce brought together to advise the Australian Government on the COVID-19 recovery effort.

We developed a report called the ‘Go8: Roadmap to Recovery’, which provides evidence-based recommendations for how Australia should approach the relaxation of social distancing and support recovery from the pandemic.

The multidisciplinary taskforce consisted of expertise an array of fields, from infectious disease scientists, epidemiologists to philosophers and economists, as well as people from a range of career stages to promote diversity in thought. I was brought on as an Early Career Researcher from UNSW.

One of the fascinating aspects of this work was the use of an anonymous collaborative reasoning platform. This process was designed to mitigate group reasoning effects such as social dominance and promote self-emerging leadership on various tasks. The result was that all input was considered purely on merit and all consensus was reached through discussion.

My codename was cockatoo943 and I worked alongside other brilliant Native Australian Wildlife such as Wallabies, Possums, and Bilbies to produce the report in a short two-week timeframe. Despite many late nights and sacrifice of the Easter long weekend, it was heartening to see how an unprecedented pandemic generated a sense of aligned purpose, comradery, and collaboration.

My main contributions centred around psychosocial health and wellbeing in the general population and key considerations for older Australians. They included recommendations for safe visitation practices in residential aged care, practical and social supports to help older adults remain at home, and frameworks to promote mental health and wellbeing during and post-pandemic.

This opportunity was valuable in allowing me to apply my knowledge and skills to facilitate positive outcomes for society and advocate for the issues faced by older Australians. More importantly, it served as unique learning opportunity which taught me new ways of thinking, problem-solving, and relating to others.

The report was well received by the Government and I can already see positive changes occurring. I look forward to seeing how researchers can continue to respond to emerging national priorities and support efforts to protect and stabilise Australia’s health, wellbeing and economic position.

By Nicole Ee