Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has caused fury with his response to Jordan Grace’s tragic suicide.
The rugby player took his own life after Western Australia’s complete border shutdown left him separated from his family in Victoria.
Grace was only a few days short of his 21st birthday when he ended his life in 2021.
Moving to Western Australia was meant to be the next step in his sporting career, but Covid regulations left him living in what has been described by many as a ‘prison state’. Western Australia is the undisputed lockdown capital of the world, with McGowan keeping the borders completely shut for nearly 700 days. Even now that they are ‘open’ the restrictions on travel are severe.
Mark McGowan’s response to the death was almost off-hand.
“Sorry to anyone who suffered over the last two years. It hasn’t been pleasant. It’s been a difficult time for everyone and making these decisions was not something that I ever expected I’d be put in that position but here I am, and I did the best I could,” said McGowan.
McGowan’s border stance and pursuit of ‘Covid Zero’ has been repeatedly criticised, especially as other Australian states have moved out of the pandemic.
Even after Grace’s death, McGowan’s government made life difficult for the Victorian family. Despite both parents being double-vaccinated (which at the time classified as ‘fully vaccinated’), they had to apply for and obtain special passes. Upon arrival, they were subjected to a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.
The family had other children in Victoria, making the onerous 14-day quarantine impossible for them to comply with – leaving the heartbroken relatives to choose between collecting their son’s body and possessions, or looking after their children.
“All we wanted was to go and be with our son. Go and grab all his things and bring them home with us. That’s all we wanted to do. Simple as that, and start the grieving process,” said Grace’s father, Steve Grace, to the 7:30 Report.
“If we were able to fly over there for his 21st [birthday] and spend some time with him, things may have been different.”
Isolation for young people, particularly young boys, has been a significant concern throughout the pandemic’s lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
In October 2021, experts warned that self-harm among teenagers had risen 40% during the Covid pandemic – not as a result of the virus, but of the health orders. In Victoria during late 2021, Victoria reported 156 teens being rushed to hospital every week for self-harm injuries.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, “There is, too, a shadow pandemic occurring before our eyes – anxiety, depression, and far worse is on the rise – and only an easing of restrictions will stem the tide.”
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