The Coronavirus pandemic continues to deliver sudden change and uncertainty, and the introduction of Stage 4 restrictions has created new wellbeing challenges for the community. 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:
- Masks and Communication
- Coming in and out of isolation
- Managing our mental health
- 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.
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
Coming in and out of isolation
- A second lockdown and greater restrictions may have a significant impact on mental health and the impact will be different this time.
- Following the announcement of the second lockdown, Beyond Blue saw an 88% increase in calls to their Coronavirus support services.
- Many Victorians are experiencing anger, frustration and anxiety about the implementation of a second lockdown and Stage 3 and 4 restrictions.
- Evidence also indicates that the difference in circumstances between States in Australia will increase the feeling of isolation for Victorians
- Approach the second lockdown and restrictions proactively. Planning for wellbeing is crucial as we struggle with motivation and fatigue.
- Lean on past lockdown knowledge; what helped last time and what we wish to let go of now?
- Avoid searching for somewhere to lay blame. Being ‘realistic’, remembering that this measure is for public health and is not personal will help with management of mental health during this period.
- Establish, or continue to build, routine exercise and activity into each day is important
- Plan ways to virtually connect with colleagues, family and friends
- Be aware of negative thoughts and manage thinking that increases anxiety. Focus on the ‘now’ and avoid attempting to predict the future.
- Coronavirus Melbourne - Mental health toll of second COVID-19 lockdown – a short article suggesting strategies for limiting the mental health impact of second lockdown
- Melbourne’s second lockdown will take a toll on mental health – an article outlining the mental health concerns associated with a second lockdown and how it may differ from the first lockdown
- New lockdown sparks mental health concerns – a brief discussion of the mental health concerns of second lockdown and some proposed strategies for management
- Mental health fears as Melbournians lock down – The impact of second lockdown form the perspective of a doctor in Melbourne
Managing our mental health
- Research indicates that we are experiencing an overall increase in mental distress compared to pre-coronavirus times, especially as lockdown and other restrictions continue, with no clear end in sight.
- Absorbing the many changes, challenges and uncertainties of our current situation, and managing their potential impact on our mental health, calls us to build resilience.
- The departure from our regular routine requires us to engage in new strategies to structure our day
- Consciously focusing each day on some of the ‘upsides’ or what we are learning about ourselves though difficult experiences helps us to build resilience and perspective.
- When times are difficult, it is especially important to practice self-compassion – which involves having the intention of being mindful, kind to ourselves and remembering that we are not alone in this struggle.
- Gratitude Practice and Present Moment Awareness can also build our resilience, and help us hold more lightly any worries we have about the future.
- Creating structure and routine is important and may be achieved by asking ourselves daily questions and setting ourselves daily goals by asking these questions.
- 'Five Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience' – a short article detailing helpful resilience-building strategies
- Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself in Quarantine – a helpful exercise to provide structure and routine during quarantine
- Remembering what really matters strengthens our resilience – A video interview between therapist, Linda Graham and clinical psychologist and author, Jonah Paquette, discussing resilience-building strategies.
- 10 tips for building resilience - an outline of some simple steps to build resilience.
- Mental Health before and during the COVID-19 pandemic – research paper on the possible impact of coronavirus on population mental health
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.
- Collectively, we are experiencing grief.
- This grief includes grieving loss of connection, mastery and professional efficacy, changes to the economy and our sense of ‘normal’.
- We are also experiencing anticipatory grief, fearing about the future impacts of coronavirus.
- Failing to recognise this grief has led to experiences of disenfranchised grief, which can enhance feelings of isolation for those experiencing it.
- It is important to recognise and name the grief we are feeling.
- Acceptance allows us to find control in the situation. This helps us to manage our grief.
- We shouldn’t ignore grief; however, we need to find a balance in our thinking.
- That Discomfort You're Feeling is Grief - a short interview with grief expert, David Kessler, identifying grief as the prevailing emotional force in our experience of the pandemic, and possible management strategies.
- Coronavirus: Recognising disenfranchised grief amid COVID-19 - discussing the importance of recognising grief and loss throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
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.