The Coronavirus pandemic continues to deliver sudden change and uncertainty. We have updated this web-resource to cut through the noise and focus on the most pertinent issues.
We have curated a careful selection of relevant and trusted resources for judicial officers and those working alongside them on the following topics:
- Emerging from lockdown
- Managing your mental health
- Collective trauma and collective grief
- Masks and Communication
- Staying in role
- Screen fatigue
- Supporting your family
- Physical fitness
- Self-care, compassion and mindfulness
- Archived resources
We will continue to update and refresh these resources throughout the pandemic. Any articles that have been removed from this page may be accessed here.
- Victorian judicial officers have 24/7 access to free, confidential counselling and support through the Judicial Officers Assistance Program. Call 1300 326 941
- A range of materials and supports directed to maintaining wellbeing through the Coronavirus period are available to judicial officers and court staff through the Courts Services Victoria intranet.
- We would love to hear from you. To send us your thoughts, suggestions, experiences and questions relating to judicial wellbeing through the pandemic, please email the Judicial Wellbeing Team.
Emerging from Lockdown
- As coronavirus restrictions ease, many Victorians are experiencing anxiety about returning to social, work and community settings. Some are categorising this as a ‘fear of going out’.
- The transition to a new stage can often trigger apprehension or anxiety about the unknown
- There may also be a sense of loss associated with letting go of the reduced levels of activity during lockdown and returning to our old schedules, which were often extremely busy, and any change – even positive change - requires adjustment.
- Our experiences of reintegration may follow a pattern of initial excitement, followed be apprehension. We may also feel overwhelmed by crowds during the early stages of reintegration.
- There will be a range of responses to emerging from lockdown, even within a family, couple or close friendships. This may create tension.
- Slowly building our confidence in social settings, by first interacting with small groups of people we are comfortable with, before moving towards bigger groups can help manage anxiety.
- It is also important to set boundaries and be prepared to say no so that we meet our own needs.
- We can pay attention to the positive aspects of lockdown or isolation, such as new wellbeing practices or routines. We should take steps to ensure these are not lost, which will help us manage our anxiety when returning to the ‘new normal’.
- Acknowledge within relationships that we will all have different comfort levels and will take different paths as we emerge.
- It's totally normal to have 'return-anxiety' about life post-COVID. Here's why' – A short article outlining the anxiety associated with emerging from isolation and how this may be managed.
- Fear of going out. Here’s how Melburnians can manage anxiety when returning to normal – An article examining how we can build our confidence in social interactions, following Coronavirus lockdown.
- The Path Back from Social Isolation – a guide written by a clinical psychologist, outlining the possible effects of reintegration and how to manage them.
Managing your mental health
- A survey of Australian adults found that one in four were ‘very or extremely worried’ about contracting Coronavirus.
- For some, this may translate into a debilitating fear which can create high levels of anxiety.
- This anxiety may be exacerbated by feelings of frustration or sadness at others’ non-compliance with the Coronavirus precautions.
- We can look after our mental health by developing holistic wellbeing strategies for the management of these negative emotions such as managing our self-talk, journaling, meditation, or exercise.
- In some cases, it may be useful to review our ‘information diet’ and limit our news and social media consumption.
- Reframing our negative thoughts into matters within or outside of our control may also be helpful to manage this anxiety.
- We can seek professional help if a high level of stress persists
- 7 ways to manage your #coronaphobia – an article discussing the prevalence of Coronavirus fears and how to manage them.
- Coping with change during COVID-19 – a resource from the Australian Psychological Society which provides strategies for managing change during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Coping during COVID-19 when not everyone will do the right thing – a factsheet prepared by the Australian Psychological Society outlining strategies to manage anxiety associated with others’ non-compliance with Coronavirus precautions.
- Acute mental health responses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia - a study of 5070 adults in Australia and their responsesto the Coronavirus pandemic.
Collective trauma and collective grief
- The experiences of Victorians during the Coronavirus pandemic have been recognised as collective trauma.
- The direct trauma impact may be experienced as a feeling of grief.
- It may also have indirect impacts such as changing our relationships or how we perceive the world.
- To manage the impacts of this collective trauma, we can seek support from others who understand and who have gone through it themselves
- Leaders can promote safety, calm, self-efficacy and community-efficacy, connectedness, and hope.
- We can also pay attention to the positives in our life, as this gives us more energy to manage the challenges, we face during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Practicing self-compassion will also allow us to develop better resilience to face these challenges
- 'Dear Australia, your sympathy helps, but you can’t quite understand Melbourne’s lockdown experience' – an article discussing the impact of Victoria’s lockdown and how we can manage these impacts.
- How Getting COVID-19 Forced Me to Re-Examine My Life – an article discussing the broader impacts of contracting Coronavirus.
Masks and Communication
- Wearing masks disguises non-verbal communication, therefore it is important to alter our communication accordingly.
- Conveying emotion or expressing empathy are more difficult without non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and it can also make communicating with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds more difficult.
- This can cause stress and frustration and can often exacerbate already present feelings of isolation
- In order to alleviate these issues, it may be helpful to consider strategies employed by other professions who regularly communicate wearing masks, such as doctors.
- It is important that we remain mindful of our communication, considering the ways in which we ordinarily communicate using gesture and tone to convey a message. We already use many non-verbal cues to communicate that will not be obscured by a mask.
- Body language, such as turning to face the person we are communicating with and ‘underlining’ our verbal communication with gestures are also helpful strategies to improve communication
- Looking at the person we are communicating with and maintaining eye contact will improve rapport and relationship building
- Overall, we should be more ‘deliberate’ with our use of facial expressions, body language, and tone.
- He's been wearing a mask for 30 years. This is what he wants you to know – a paediatrician’s advice for communicating whilst wearing a mask
- Communication skills for staff wearing PPE – a short guide for healthcare staff about communicating when wearing a mask
Staying in role
- Role clarity is a well-established cornerstone of professional wellbeing, and a protective factor against occupational hazards such as vicarious trauma and burnout.
- Judicial role clarity, and thereby the sustainability of judicial work, has historically been supported by a range of rituals and structures, from the architecture of the courtroom to the conventions of court hearings. In lockdown, the task of judging continues in the absence of many of these rituals and structures.
- In addition, working more from home has entailed a blurring of the boundaries between work and personal lives, with many judicial officers having to bring troubling case materials and evidence into their homes.
- We are experiencing changing levels of productivity and 'crisis adaptation' throughout this pandemic.
- The consistent advice from experts is to consciously establish a new work routine - one that builds in healthy habits, regular start and finish times, and daily connection with colleagues.
- To consciously connect with ‘role competence’ and your sense of professional efficacy, incorporate a simple daily ritual of writing down what you accomplished over the course of the day, or “I have…, I did…., I can…”
- A downturn in productivity may be managed by setting some small, achievable tasks and working towards more complex tasks.
- Focusing on small organisational tasks, responsible communication and physical care will also maximise productivity in challenging circumstances.
- How to save a Disastrous Day in your COVID-19 Quarantine - a short article discussing crisis adaptation and management of productivity during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- What is the shadow I am casting - 10 questions from Dr Peter Shaw, UK Leadership Coach who has worked extensively with leading judges in the UK and Australia, to ask yourself as you continue your role under these very changed circumstances.
- Get dressed and set goals - a short article from The Conversation on the routines not to break when working from home.
- Virtual communication requires the brain to be ‘hyper-focused’ on verbal cues, due to the loss of non-verbal cues.
- Silence in virtual communication also increases anxiety about the interaction.
- We also experience heightened pressure to 'perform' as we feel are being watched more than during face to face communication.
- The use of technology can also affect our eyes, described as ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’. This contributes to the feeling of fatigue associate with technology.
- Computer Vision Syndrome can be managed with the ’20-20-20’ strategy, which suggests that for every 20 minutes of screen use, users should focus on a point 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- A sector with a longer history of managing screen fatigue is Air Traffic Control. The industry standards recommend that workers do not have a period of two hours without a break of at least 30 minutes. This can be extended on a pro-rata basis (15 mins for every hour worked) if the workload pressures demand it.
- Building transitions into virtual communication to facilitate regular breaks helps manage fatigue.
- The reason Zoom calls drain your energy - an article discussing the reasons why virtual communications increases fatigue and suggesting some strategies for management
- The Effects of Digitalization on Human Energy and Fatigue - an academic literature review on the most recent research around the impact of technology on fatigue.
- Computer Vision Syndrome – an outline of the causes, treatments, and strategies for management of computer vision syndrome.
- Regulation of Work Hours for Air Traffic Controllers - an example of measures taken by another sector for the management of screen fatigue.
Supporting your family
- Existing relationship dynamics are becoming more significant for couples. Couples are managing less privacy, blurred boundaries and sometimes an imbalance of labour.
- Parents are also feeling pressure to protect their family and to maintain some semblance of normalcy.
- Many parents have expressed concern about the possible long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on their children’s mental health.
- Try not to pull away from relationship tensions, plan for privacy as well as some ‘tuned in’ couple time, negotiate expectations about household tasks.
- The coronavirus pandemic provides parents with the opportunity to model resilience and teach their children about compassion for themselves and others
- This may include undertaking random acts of kindness together, such as sending messages of support to frontline workers or providing practical support to immunocompromised family members or neighbours.
- Children’s resilience will be strengthened by their social supports, especially their family, so it’s important to maintain this support throughout the pandemic
- Will the Pandemic Have a Lasting Impact on My Kids – an article examining the past experiences of children who lived through traumatic events and how the negative impact on them was limited
- 8 Relationship Issues All Couples Face During Lockdown and How to Fix Them - a short article outlining the key issues faced by couples during the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown and some strategies for managing these issues
- From toddlers to teens - How to talk about the Coronavirus - from Beyond Blue, suggestions for parents about how to have a ‘helpful conversation’ with their children about Coronavirus
- COVID-19, distancing & family wellbeing - strategies for maintaining and promoting family wellbeing during self-isolation and the coronavirus pandemic.
- Judicial work has always been sedentary, but the Coronavirus restrictions have meant that many of us are sitting more and moving less than we would usually.
- Out usual routines and places of physical exercise may not be available to us, and incidental exercise is dramatically reduced.
- Meanwhile, we may find ourselves eating and drinking more, as other forms of entertainment, comfort and pleasure are limited.
- The World Health Organisation recommends that over the course of a week, adults undertake 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise, as well as 3-4 minutes of light movement or stretching every few hours.
- With gyms and classes all closed, exercise videos have filled the vacuum. Here we recommend two websites offering a library of free video classes for general exercise and yoga.
- Blender fitness - a broad selection of short, professional fitness classes and programs. This is a free resource and the classes are designed to be completed in the home without equipment
- Yoga with Adriene - a series of free, online yoga classes, varying in length and style, from beginners to advanced.
- Healthy at Home: Physical activity - advice from the World Health Organisation about the physical activity requirements for different ages.
Self-care, compassion and mindfulness
- The state of the world is rapidly changing due to Coronavirus and this rapid change can take a toll on our mental and physical health.
- We may be unable to be as productive and efficient under the changed working conditions as we were before
- It is important that we take practical steps to manage our mental health so we can reduce anxiety and stay connected and grounded.
- Practical steps can include mindfulness practice, self-compassion and other meditation practices to cultivate acceptance and groundedness
- Practices for growing an unshakable core – a series of meditation practices for different purposes including motivation, mindfulness, and happiness.
- Self-Compassion meditation - a series of short, guided mediations for mindful self-compassion from, Chris Germer, a clinical psychologist and co-developer of the mindful self-compassion framework.
- Self-compassion test - a ‘self-test’ to provide insight into our own level of self-compassion.
- Smiling Mind app - the leading mindfulness meditation app in Australia.