The Delta response to the rising number of Delta strain Covid cases in greater Sydney, an additional 100 police officers have been deployed across southwest Sydney.
The Delta is little question that the Delta strain is extremely transmissible; it has moved from Bondi, where it was initially detected, to western and southwest Sydney. Although the virus itself does not discriminate, policy reactions can, whether due to deliberate or unconscious bias. When the Delta strain began to spread, we didn’t see helicopters and cops pouring over Bondi. Last Christmas, there was no police cavalry on the northern beaches.
The Premier of New South Wales stated on Friday that “We all require to work together” also that “it is relevant to all of us” if we want to return to “normal life.” We are now employing police officers to enforce the healthy behaviors required to slow the spread of the virus, demonstrating what it means to securitize health. We appear to have lost an opportunity to learn lessons on how to “operate together” 18 months after Covid arrived in Australia.
However, the publishing of the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into the Melbourne towers lockdown. Treating a health problem as a security problem is not the solution, and it should not be regarded as a standard approach to a health crisis. The disproportionate policing of lower socioeconomic neighborhoods with a history of poor relationships with police is not the solution to a health issue. Berejiklian has claimed that the response is not “political,” but this ignores the unconscious prejudice that not only politicizes the political and law enforcement responses but also imbues them with racism and elitism.
It also illustrates the failure of coherent community and political messaging and the failure of meaningful and inclusive dialogue with culturally and linguistically diverse groups – all of which can have disastrous health consequences.
People who have grown up in “suspicious” communities that have been continuously viewed through a security lens or as a “threat” are not blind to the dangers of policies based on preconceived ideas that people are unreliable plus intrinsically unsafe or “a risk” to others – and the law enforcement responses that inevitably flow as a result.