A message for the timesPublished on 30th March 2020
Thankfully for most Australians the impact of COVID-19 has been in the abstract, at least in terms of health. With case numbers still low at the time of writing, the financial impacts have been highlighted in expanding queues outside Centrelink Office as government measures to control the spread of the virus progressively lock down more parts of the economy.
But pretty much every Australian has felt the impact of COVID-19 at the supermarket, where weeks of panic-buying have pushed supply chains – and in particular toilet paper stocks – to breaking point. There have been videos shared of shoppers in violent exchanges over toilet paper and other staples that have been echoed in supermarkets across the world.
These images, and evidence of people hoarding food and emptying supermarket shelves have been portrayed as the very worst of human behaviour. On the other hand it’s understandable that people faced with significant uncertainty, fearing further lockdowns and threats to their income have tried to exert some control over their situation. Politicians have been quick to call out and berate those buying more than they need, condemn the behaviour that has proved almost as contagious as the virus itself.
In the midst of all of this the National Farmers Federation (NFF) has devised a campaign to reassure the community. The social media posts are headed by farmers delivering a simple message with #gotyourback. In the short videos, farmers described how they are continuing to work each day, with extra care for their staff and customers, to deliver more than enough food for all Australians.
There are no calls to “thank a farmer”, no self-congratulation, just comfort from farmers who remain amongst the most trusted members of the community.
After years of harrowing drought images and media reports of the rural community struggling, the campaign paints farmers in a different light. Signs that this campaign may now be gaining some grass roots support are encouraging.
We hope the NFF message that #gotyourback are shared far and wide, its strikes the perfect note of compassion and reassurance in a time of uncertainty and isolation for so many people.
We reckon politicians could take a leaf out of the NFF book when it comes to striking the right tone to persuade and reassure the Australian community. Then again, our politicians don’t have quite as much credit in the trust bank as farmers do!