The Impact of COVID-19 on Families in Hardship in Western Australia

The Impact of COVID-19 on Families in Hardship in Western Australia
The Impact of COVID-19
on Families in Hardship
in Western Australia
The 100 Families WA Project
August — 2020

100 Families WA Project Partners
Anglicare WA, Jacaranda Community Centre, The Centre for Social Impact The University of
Western Australia (CSI UWA), the UWA Social Policy, Practice and Research Consortium,
UWA School of Population and Global Health, Wanslea, Centrecare, Ruah Community
Services, Uniting WA, Mercycare, and WACOSS.
Through action research to
                  reduce hardship and
           disadvantage for families living
             in Western Australia, the 100
           Families WA project is working
                 towards a vision of an
               economically, socially and
              culturally just WA where all
           families are supported to thrive


Callis, Z., Seivwright, A., Orr, C. & Flatau, P. (2020).
The Impact of COVID-19 on Families in Hardship
In Western Australia. The 100 Families WA project
(Anglicare, Centrecare, Jacaranda Community Centre,
Mercycare, Ruah Community Services, Uniting WA,
Wanslea, WACOSS, The University of Western
Australia (Centre for Social Impact and the School of
Population and Global Health)), Perth, Western
Australia. doi: 10.25916/5f3b2a5e4bb42

Address for correspondence

All enquiries relating to the present report and the
research study should be addressed to Professor Paul
Flatau at the following address:

Professor Paul Flatau, Director
UWA Centre for Social Impact
The Business School
University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, WA 6009
The 100 Families WA Project

100 Families WA is a collaborative research project
between Anglicare WA, Jacaranda Community
Centre, the Centre for Social Impact The University of
Western Australia (CSI UWA), the UWA Social Policy,
Practice and Research Consortium, the UWA School
of Population and Global Health, Wanslea,
Centrecare, Ruah Community Services, Uniting WA,
Mercycare, and WACOSS. 100 Families WA has a
commitment to ongoing engagement in the project
of those with lived experience of poverty, entrenched
disadvantage and social exclusion.

The overarching goal of the project is to develop an
ongoing evidence base on poverty, entrenched
disadvantage and social exclusion in Western
Australia that will be used by the policy and practice
community in Western Australia continuously over
time to understand better the lives of those in low
income poverty, entrenched disadvantage and social
exclusion, the impact and effectiveness of the
community sector and government initiatives and
service delivery processes and what those in
entrenched disadvantage see as important for
positive change.


The 100 Families WA team thank the family members
that gave us their time and a window into their lives.
This project would not be possible without the
willingness and generosity of the families sharing
their stories.

We would also like to thank the outstanding team of
interviewers for their time, flexibility, and dedication
in undertaking the survey, as well as the partner
agencies and their staff for accommodating the 100
Families WA project so readily.

The 100 Families WA project acknowledges its
principal funder Lotterywest for its long-term support
to this critical project. Also acknowledged are the
significant in-kind and cash contributions made by
the project partners. Seed funding for the project
was provided by E/Prof D’Arcy Holman through the
School of Population and Global Health and from the
Bankwest Foundation.



       Executive Summary

       1. Introduction

       2. Methodology

       3. Health and Health Service Access

       4. Education

       5. Labour Force Participation

       6. Financial Stress and Income Support

       7. Service Access and Service Quality

       8. Overall Impacts

       9. Conclusion

       10. References


i | The 100 Families WA Project
Table 2.1:   Demographic characteristics of family members that completed the 100
             Families WA COVID-19 survey (n = 158)
Table 3.1:   Family member experiences of social distancing

Table 3.2:   Reasons for the cancellation or rescheduling of appointments due to COVID-19

Table 3.3:   Reasons for not accessing telehealth services

Table 4.1:   Additional resources required by parents and caregivers in order to continue
             schooling at home
Table 5.1:   Labour force status of family members

Table 5.2:   Impact of COVID-19 on ability to work

Table 6.1:   Types of government pensions, benefits, or other payments received in the last
             12 months
Table 6.2:   Ways in which the Coronavirus Supplement has affected family members’ lives

Table 7.1:   Proportion of family members that reported that the way they access services
             has changed due to COVID-19, by service type.
Table 7.2:   Reasons for not being able to access services when needed (n = 63)


                                                                                              #100FamiliesWA | ii
       Figure 1.1:             100 Families WA timeline of data collection activities and project outputs

       Figure 2.1:             Timeline of surveys (bar), active cases (line), and key events (scatter) that
                               impacted daily life
       Figure 3.1:             Feelings of depression or anxiety in the past week

       Figure 3.2:             Types of medical appointments that were rescheduled or cancelled due to
                               COVID-19 restrictions
       Figure 6.1:             Financial conditions in terms of paying for essential goods and services

       Figure 6.2:             Planned expenditure for the Coronavirus Supplement

       Figure 7.1:             Has COVID-19 stopped you from being able to access this service altogether?

       Figure 7.2:             How would you describe the change in service delivery? (n = 110)

       Figure 7.3:             In the past 3 months, how often did you access this service when you needed
       Figure 7.4:             Compared to before COVID-19, how well has this service met your needs
                               during the COVID-19 crisis?

iii | The 100 Families WA Project
Executive Summary
The 100 Families WA project          self-isolate, but practiced social
seeks to understand the lived        distancing, and only 2.5% chose
experience of entrenched             not to modify their behaviour at
disadvantage in Western Australia    all.
and what policy and practice
changes are required to              Feelings of depression and
significantly reduce and             anxiety “all of the time” or “most
ultimately end entrenched            of the time” in the week prior to
disadvantage. The 100 Families       the supplementary COVID-19
WA project utilises a unique         survey were much more common
combination of longitudinal          among family members (38.1%)
quantitative data, fortnightly       than among a general Australian
qualitative interviews with family   sample (17.1%).
members, and the active
engagement of those with lived       As illustrated in the 100 Families
experience to build a rich           WA Baseline Report, family
understanding of entrenched          members experience elevated
disadvantage in Perth. The first     rates of chronic health conditions
wave of data collection was          relative to the general population,
completed in 2019.                   thus necessitating significant
                                     interaction with the healthcare
The 100 Families WA COVID-19         system. Well over a third (40.5%),
report presents experiences of       of family members reported that
the COVID-19 pandemic, its           they had health-related
restrictions, and its early          appointments or procedures
economic and social impacts          cancelled or rescheduled due to
among 158 family members in          COVID-19. Less than half (41.0%)
the study who completed a            of family members accessed
supplementary COVID-19 survey        telehealth services; 42.3% did not
between May and July 2020. This      need to access them; and the
was a period which followed a        remainder were not offered
wave of COVID-19 cases in            (5.1%), did not want (6.4%), did
Western Australia and the            not have the equipment for
introduction of restrictions on      (3.8%) or could not afford (1.3%)
economic activity and on social      telehealth services.
interactions. The report presents
findings in the following domains:
health and health service quality,
education, labour market
outcomes, financial stress and
income support, service access
and service quality, and the
                                                                           had medical procedures or
overall impacts of COVID-19.
                                                                           appointments cancelled or
Health and health service access                                           disrupted

No family members reported that
they had been diagnosed with
COVID-19 at the time of their
supplementary survey. In terms                                             felt depressed or anxious most
of social distancing and other                                             to all of the previous week,
precautionary measures, 60.3% of                                           compared to 17.1% in an
family members chose to self-                                              Australian general sample during
isolate at home, 32.3% did not                                             COVID-19

                                                                                                #100FamiliesWA | iv
Education                              Financial stress and income
       The short duration of                  In terms of financial stress, almost
       homeschooling in Western               half (49.4%) of family members
       Australia during the period of the     (versus 26.0% of Australians)
       COVID-19 and the efforts of            reported that they were
       schools, teachers and the WA           financially stressed or very
       Department of Education appear         financially stressed in terms of
       to have minimized the effects of       being able to afford essentials.
       COVID-19 on parents’                   The majority (89.1%) of family
       homeschooling efforts. Almost          members received income
       three quarters (73.6%) of family       support payments in the year
       members with school-aged               prior to survey, with 50.6%
       children in their care felt they had   reporting receiving the $550 per
       enough resources to continue           fortnight Coronavirus Supplement

       their children’s schooling at          which was available to those on
       home. The remaining family             JobSeeker payments and certain
       members felt they needed               other income support payments.
       additional resources, including                                               with children felt they had
       internet resources (access, better                                            enough resources to continue
       speed, and more bandwidth),
       equipment (computers,
                                                                                     schooling at home. The
                                                                                     remaining family members felt
       webcams), and resources about
                                                                                     they needed additional
       how to teach their children as
                                                                                     resources, including internet
       well as what to teach.
                                                                                     resources (access, better speed,
                                                                                     and more bandwidth),
       Labour market
                                                                                     equipment (computers,
                                                                                     webcams), and resources about
       The majority of family members
                                                                                     how to teach as well as what to
       interviewed were either
       unemployed (12.7%) or not in the
       labour force (68.3%) at the time
       of the COVID-19 supplement. A
       further 13.6% were employed.
       Just over half (55.0%) of the
       family members that were
       unemployed felt the COVID-19
       pandemic had affected their
       ability to look for work, and 35.0%
                                                                                     of the family members that were
       felt it had affected their                                                    unemployed felt the COVID-19
       motivation. Almost a third (28.6%)
                                                                                     pandemic had affected their
       of the family members that were
       not in the labour force felt their                                            ability to look for work
       ability to look for work had been
       affected by the COVID-19
       situation and 33.9% felt it had

       affected their motivation. Among
       family members who were
       employed, 40.0% reported that
       their ability to work had been                                                were financially stressed in
       affected by COVID-19.                                                         terms of paying for essentials,
                                                                                     compared to 26.3% in an
                                                                                     Australian general sample.

v | The 100 Families WA Project
The Coronavirus Supplement lifts       majority of family members also
recipients’ income above the           reported changes to the way that
relative poverty line. In a previous   services were accessed. The
report, the 100 Families WA            changes to service access as a
project reported on the significant    result of the COVID-19 restrictions
adverse impacts on family              were perceived as positive or
members’ lives of a Newstart (the      more positive than negative by
forerunner of JobSeeker) payment       46% of family members, and
set well below the poverty line.       negative or more negative than
The most common impact that            positive by 54% of family
family members reported as a           members.
result of receiving the Coronavirus
Supplement was improved quality        As expected, services that cannot
of life (n = 41; 51.9%). This          be delivered as easily without in-
included reduced stress, the
ability to reduce arrears on rent
and utility bills, pay off debt, and
                                       person contact were most
                                       affected both in terms of
                                       disruptions to access and family
                                                                             of those receiving the $550
life being simply easier and more      members’ perceptions of services’     covid-19 supplement said it had
comfortable.                           ability to meet their needs.
                                       Services that were particularly
                                                                             improved their life
                                                                             this included reduced stress, the
“Pretty much every aspect. Dental,     negatively affected from the
                                                                             ability to get rid of arrears on
fast track mental                      perspective of family members
                                                                             rent and utility bills pay off debt,
health/counselling. I can eat          included mental health services,
                                                                             and life being simply easier and
better which improves my physical      laundry and personal care
                                                                             more comfortable.
health. I can do everything I need     services, and employment
to do to get myself ready to go        services.

back to work and become a good
tax paying member of society.
Won't have to worry about bills
too much. Can relax a bit. I can
afford reliable access to the
internet. I can afford to buy a new                                          30% housing pathway and
phone instead of saving for two                                              housing support
months or wondering whether my                                               45% financial services
money will be stolen or taken to                                             48% health services
pay off debt collectors.”                                                    50% food services
                                                                             58% employment/job search
Service access and service quality                                           61% mental health services
                                                                             63% laundry and personal care
Access to a broad range of                                                   services.
community services was
interrupted altogether for many
family members as a result of                                                Service
COVID-19. The proportion of
family members for whom service
was stopped varied by service
type, from 30% for housing
pathway and housing support, to                                              changes
50% for food services, 58% for                                               were most common in mental
employment/job search services,                                              health services (87.5%),
61% for mental health services
                                                                             health services (69.9%)
and 63% for laundry and personal
care services. A substantial                                                 and food services (63.9%).

                                                                                                     #100FamiliesWA | vi
1. Introduction
       The 100 Families WA project is a      on food insecurity, life on             waiting for COVID-19 to blow over
       three-year collaborative research     Newstart (now called JobSeeker),        before resuming job searching, or
       project between a group of            and access to non-government            having to take on additional caring
       Western Australian community          services. A Baseline report             duties. However, discouraged job
       agencies (Anglicare WA,               examining outcomes across               seekers represent both a social
       Centrecare, Jacaranda Community       domains of social, health, and          and economic concern for
       Centre, MercyCare, Ruah, Uniting      economic wellbeing was released         Australia in terms of lost
       WA and Wanslea), the Western          in August 2019. (See the list of        opportunities and lower output
       Australian Council of Social          publications at the end of this         and productivity in the medium to
       Services, researchers at The          report and the 100 Families WA          long term.
       University of Western Australia,      website for further details.) In this
                                                                                     Particular concern has been raised
       and families participating in the     report, we examine the impacts of
                                                                                     about the health and social
       project.                              COVID-19 on 100 Families WA
                                                                                     impacts of COVID-19 on
                                             family members, particularly in
       The 100 Families WA project seeks                                             disadvantaged populations.
                                             terms of health, education, labour
       to understand the lived                                                       Socioeconomic deprivation has
                                             market outcomes, financial
       experience of entrenched                                                      been found to be a predictor of
                                             position, and the accessibility and
       disadvantage in Western Australia                                             COVID-19 infection and of
                                             quality of services provided to
       and what policy and practice                                                  subsequent hospitalisation in the
                                             family members.
       changes are required to                                                       UK (Niedzwiedz et al. 2020) and
       significantly reduce and ultimately   The impact of COVID-19                  the US (Finch & Finch, 2020;
       end entrenched disadvantage.                                                  Noppert, 2020).
                                             The COVID-19 pandemic has
       Entrenched disadvantage occurs
                                             created shockwaves for us all. It       It is hypothesised that the
       when people face sustained low
                                             has affected us as individuals and      relationship between
       income over time inadequate to
                                             families but the pandemic has also      socioeconomic status and COVID-
       meet basic needs, and face
                                             affected community services, not-       19 infection and outcomes arises
       significant barriers to overcoming
                                             for-profit organisations,               due to frequently occurring
       disadvantage in one or more
                                             healthcare providers, aged care         factors that limit the choices of
       major human wellbeing domains
                                             providers, and the private sector.      those with few economic means,
       including mental and physical
                                             Early models predicted a $34.2b         such as living in substandard
       health, housing, education, safety,
                                             reduction in Australia’s gross          housing and experiencing
       jobs and social relationships.
                                             domestic product (GDP) over one         homelessness, being insecurely
       Disadvantage for some may be
                                             year, as a result of a coronavirus      employed without leave
       experienced over the very long
                                             pandemic (PWC, 2020). Recent            entitlements, having health issues,
       term including across generations.
                                             Australian Bureau of Statistics         and having caring responsibilities
       Inspired by New Zealand’s Family      labour force statistics (Australian     that preclude or limit self-isolation
       100 project, led by Auckland City     Bureau of Statistics, 2020) indicate    as a family unit.
       Mission, the 100 Families WA          that over 800,000 jobs were lost
                                                                                     Further, for similar reasons, it is
       project is a mixed-methods action     across Australia from March 2020
                                                                                     proposed that the economic
       research project that engages         to May 2020 with only a third
                                                                                     downturn and recession will
       families experiencing entrenched      regained in the two months since,
                                                                                     disproportionately affect those
       disadvantage to identify what         posing significant long-term risks
                                                                                     already experiencing
       works in the current policy and       to Australia’s economy and labour
                                                                                     socioeconomic disadvantage,
       practice environment, what            market. Unemployment continues
                                                                                     while also creating socioeconomic
       approaches should be expanded,        to rise and we now have one
                                                                                     disadvantage among new cohorts.
       what barriers exist, and how we       million Australians unemployed.
                                                                                     Those with low educational
       can break the cycle of entrenched     Unemployment is only part of the
                                                                                     attainment and those working in
       disadvantage. The project             picture; in addition to perennially
                                                                                     low-skilled jobs are more likely to
       positions families as partners in     under-reported
                                                                                     face job losses and difficulty
       the research and that their voice     underemployment, over 200,000
                                                                                     finding work in the months and
       and ideas for change are              Australians have dropped out of
                                                                                     years to come (Rollston & Galea,
       paramount.                            the labour force since the
                                             beginning of the pandemic. This
       Previous bulletins of the 100
                                             withdrawal from the labour force
       Families WA project have focused
                                             may be temporary for many –
1 | The 100 Families WA Project
Additional concerns have been          had lost 30% or more of their         Baseline (Seivwright & Flatau,
     raised about intergenerational         income relative to the same           2020), only 7.0% of family
     disadvantage, with new research        month in the year prior. The          members that completed the 100
     finding that socioeconomically         JobKeeper scheme encourages           Families WA COVID-19
     disadvantaged children engage in       and enables businesses to keep        supplementary survey were
     more passive screen time and less      employees on the payroll and to       experiencing homelessness. As
     sleep, and have lower access to        facilitate employees’ return to       COVID-19 surveys were conducted
     educational resources in a home        work once conditions improve. By      primarily over the phone or
     environment which inevitably           mid-May, 910,055 businesses and       online, we were unable to reach
     translates to poorer educational       not-for-profits had enrolled in the   homeless family members as
     outcomes (Arnup, Black, &              JobKeeper program and 759,654         effectively as housed family
     Johnston, 2020).                       of those had made claims resulting    members. Further attempts at
                                            in $8.7b of payments to around        reaching those experiencing
     Australian Government responses        2.9m employees (ATO, 2020).           homelessness as part of the 100
     To COVID-19                                                                  Families WA project are underway
                                            WA State Government responses         and will be reported on in the
     The Australian Government has          To COVID-19
     rolled out an array of income relief                                         study’s final report next year.
     and economic stimulus packages         The WA State Government has           The 100 Families COVID-19 report
     targeted at various levels –           initiated significant measures to
     individuals, small businesses,         mitigate the health and economic      The present report represents a
     community services, and                impacts of COVID-19. Like the         step towards understanding the
     government services (Australian        federal measures, state-level         impact of COVID-19 on those
     Government, 2020). The measures        measures are targeted towards         experiencing hardship. Concerns
     that have received the most public     businesses, community services,       about COVID-19 emerged
     attention and, arguably, have the      and individuals. As part of a suite   approximately half way through
     most immediate impact on low-          of measures, the WA Government        the collection of the 100 Families
     income Australians and                 announced a $444 million housing      WA Wave 2 (or Year 1) survey.
     particularly many 100 Families WA      stimulus package including a          Through the effort and
     family members are the                 major social housing program          commitment of the project team –
     Coronavirus Supplement and the         along with other stimulus             partner agencies, interviewer
     JobKeeper payment.                     responses including the               team and researchers alike – along
                                            Apprenticeship and Traineeship        with the invaluable time and
     Announced on 22nd March 2020           Re-engagement Incentive. There        participation of our family
     and implemented on 27th April          were significant measures focused     members, we were able to
     2020, the Coronavirus Supplement       on ensuring that emergency and        continue data collection through
     saw an additional $550 per             community services could              the worst of the restrictions in WA
     fortnight added to income support      continue to meet demand. The          (affecting the latter third of the
     payments for people receiving          WA Government also placed a           data collection). Further, we were
     JobSeeker payment (previously          freeze on increases to all            able to include a set of dedicated
     Newstart), partner allowance,          household tariffs, fees and charges   questions about the impact of
     widow allowance, sickness              effective 1 July 2020 and a six-      COVID-19, and followed up to
     allowance, youth allowance,            month moratorium on residential       ensure that family members who
     Auststudy, ABSTUDY, parenting          tenancy evictions was introduced      completed their survey before the
     payment, farm household                in April 2020.                        inclusion of the COVID-19
     allowance, and special benefit                                               questions were able to provide
     (Services Australia, 2020a). The       Support packages in the               their responses.
     $550 Supplement represents an          community sector included a
                                            $28.1 million support package for     We present findings about
     effective doubling of many
                                            victims of family and domestic        people’s health, education
     payment types and, in particular,
                                            violence and a $6.8 million           (impacts on children), labour
     the raising of unemployment
                                            commitment to homelessness            market engagement, financial
     income support payments above
                                            services together with funding for    circumstances, access to and
     the relative poverty line. The $550
                                            two new Common Ground                 quality of services during COVID-
     Supplement is in place until 24th
                                            facilities in Western Australia.      19, and general impacts of COVID-
     September 2020, after which it
                                            Unlike in other states, there was     19. Consideration is given to when
     will reduce to $250 per fortnight
                                            only a small-scale program            survey responses were recorded
     until 31st December 2020
                                            targeted at providing temporary       in relation to the number of
     (Services Australia, 2020).
                                            accommodation in motels and           COVID-19 cases and government
     The JobKeeper payment,                 hotels. While 17.3% of our full       restrictions and responses to stop
     announced on 30th March 2020,          100 Families WA sample was            the spread of COVID-19 and
     offers a $1,500 wage subsidy to        experiencing homelessness at          mitigate negative economic
     employers whose organisations                                                impacts.

| Page 6 |                                                                                                #100FamiliesWA | 2
The future of disadvantage in                    important to note that some of                100 Families WA project involves
       Australia                                        these changes may be positive; for            two waves of quantitative data
                                                        the first time in decades, income             collection with 400 family
       Those most vulnerable in
                                                        support payments for jobseekers               members via a survey, and
       Australian society experience the
                                                        are above the relative poverty                fortnightly interviews for a year
       greatest adverse impacts from
                                                        line, and the JobKeeper initiative            with a subset of 100 family
       COVID-19. This serves to reinforce
                                                        has, at least temporarily,                    members. The timeline below
       the importance of the 100
                                                        stemmed some outright job                     outlines the data collection and
       Families WA project. We know
                                                        losses.                                       reporting activities of the 100
       that, despite its generic label, the
                                                                                                      Families WA project to date, and
       experience of hardship is far from               The importance of this research
                                                                                                      until the project’s conclusion in
       static or homogenous. External                   cannot be understated. Data
                                                                                                      July 2021. At the time of
       factors including economic                       collection for the 100 Families WA
                                                                                                      publication, no further data
       conditions, government policy,                   project is almost at its conclusion.
                                                                                                      collection for the 100 Families WA
       and community service sector                     However, we argue that continued
                                                                                                      project is funded.
       practice and policy interact deeply              research into the experiences of
       with experiences such as health                  vulnerable Australians as the
       issues, homelessness and family                  impact of COVID-19 continues to
       and domestic violence to                         unfold is critical. Accordingly, we
       drastically affect wellbeing.                    advocate strongly for the
       COVID-19 forces rapid changes to                 continuation of the project.
       these external factors and it
                                                        Timeline of 100 Families WA
       remains to be seen how these
       changes will affect the lives of                 At its current level of funding, the
       those experiencing hardship. It is

       Figure 1.1: 100 families WA timeline of data collection activities and project outputs

                                                                                   30th July 2018:
                                                                                   First Community Conversation

                                                     29th August 2018:
                                         Second Community Conversation

                                                                                  27th November 2018 - 5th April 2019:
                                                                                  Baseline survey data collection (n = 400)
                                              May 2019 - August 2020:
                                  Fortnightly qualitative interviews (n = 100)
                                                                                 May 2019:
                                                                                 Bulletin 1
                                                                July 2019:
                                                             Baseline report
                                                                                 October 2019:
                                          November 2019 - July 2020:             Bulletin 2
                                              Wave 2 survey data collection

                                                                                 March 2020:
                                                                                 Bulletin 3

                                      September - November 2020:
                                                              Focus groups
                                                                                  March - July 2021:
                                                                                  Co-design and research
                                                                                  translation activities.
                                                                 July 2021:
                                                                 Final report

3 | The 100 Families WA Project
2. Methodology
Wave 2 survey and COVID-19                  This COVID-19 report presents                •   Overall impacts: summary of
supplement                                  findings in the following                        the impacts of COVID-19 on
                                            domains:                                         100 Families WA family
Data collection for the Wave 2                                                               members, including
survey began on 27th November               •   Health: how was access to                    statements in their own words
2019. As it was designed to                     health care affected by COVID-               provided to open-ended
measure change over time relative               19, and what self-isolation                  questions.
to the Baseline survey, it covered              methods were people
the same domains of                             experiencing hardship able to            Sample demographics
socioeconomic wellbeing: service                use? To what extent did
use, housing, quality of life,                  people feel anxious or                   Table 2.1 outlines key
economic participation, substance               depressed?                               demographic characteristics of the
use, health, and mental health. In                                                       158 family members that
April 2020, the research team, in           •   Service access and quality:              completed the 100 Families WA
collaboration with the broader                  how, and to what extent, did             COVID-19 survey. Relative to the
100 Families WA project team and                people’s access to services              Baseline sample (n = 400), there is
the Community Advisory Group,                   change, and how were these               a slight overrepresentation of
developed a set of questions to                 changes perceived by service             women, and a slight
examine the emerging impacts of                 users?                                   underrepresentation of Aboriginal
COVID-19 and government and                                                              and Torres Strait Islander family
                                            •   Education: did parents feel              members. This likely reflects the
community sector responses to                   supported with respect to the
the pandemic. These questions                                                            higher proportion of men who
                                                resources provided to                    were homeless at baseline and,
were incorporated into the Wave                 continue schooling at home?
2 survey from 4th May 2020. The                                                          therefore, more difficult to reach,
survey questions were also                  •   Labour force participation:              and digital exclusion and/or a
presented as a COVID-19                         how was labour force                     preference for face-to-face
supplement to Wave 2 for family                 participation affected by                contact among Aboriginal and
members who had completed                       COVID-19; how many family                Torres Strait Islander family
their Wave 2 survey prior to 4th                members’ ability and                     members.
May. Data collection ceased at the              motivation to look for work
end of July 2020. The figure below              was affected;
outlines responses to the Wave 2
survey and the COVID-19                     •   Financial stress and income
supplement relative to Western                  support: How were family
Australia’s COVID-19 cases and                  members’ finances affected by
WA State Government and                         COVID-19. How did people
Australian Government responses                 who received the income
to the COVID-19 pandemic.                       support payment supplement
                                                intend to use their income?

Table 2.1: Demographic characteristics of family members that completed the 100 Families WA COVID-19 survey (n = 158)

                                                                                                       n                      %
 Female                                                                                              114                 72.2%
 Male                                                                                                 43                 27.2%
 Other gender identity                                                                                 1                  0.6%

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
 Yes                                                                                                  32                 20.3%
 No                                                                                                  126                 79.7%

                                                                                                                   #100FamiliesWA | 4
Timeline of data collection
          Figure 2.1, below, presents a
          timeline which maps 100
          Families WA data collection
          against active COVID-19 cases,
          and key community and State
          and Commonwealth
          Government responses to

          Figure 2.1: Timeline of surveys (bar), active cases (line), and key events (scatter) that impacted daily life

                                   16                                                                                                                                          400


                                                                                                                                                                                     Daily active cases (N, line)
      Surveys completed (N, bar)

                                   12                                                                                                                                          300


                                    8                                                                                                                                          200


                                    4                                                                                                                                          100


                                    0                                                                                                                                          0
                                   27-Nov-19   27-Dec-19      27-Jan-20     27-Feb-20       27-Mar-20           27-Apr-20           27-May-20        27-Jun-20         27-Jul -20

                                                                           Social distancing           Max. all
                                                                          Max. gatherings: 100       gatherings: 2
                                   -4                                                                                                                                          -100
                                                                                        Max. gatherings: 2
                                                                                 Excl. Weddings (5), Funerals (10)
                                                                                                                         Phase 1      Phase 2    Phase 3     Phase 4
                                                                                 Australian             WA Regional                         WA Regional borders reopen
                                                                                borders close           borders close        WA regional (excl. Aboriginal communities)
                                   -8                                                                                     boundaries eased                                     -200
                                                                                         JobKeeper          1st $750     $550/fn coronavirus supplement             2nd $750
                                                                                                              ESP                                                      ESP

                             -10                                             Supermarket               Schools            Schools     Students required to
                                                                                limits   Pubs, church, close              reopen         attend school
                                                                                          gyms close,
                                                                                         services move
                             -12                                                             online

                                               Wave 2 N=230                                                            COVID-19 Supplement N=148
                                               Wave 2 with COVID-19 Questions N=10                                     National Restrictions
                                               State Restrictions                                                      Income Supplement
                                               Community Response                                                      Border Control
                                               Active Cases

          Note: ESP = Economic Stimulus Payment.

          WA Phase 1: maximum of 10 people in gatherings, WA Phase 2: maximum of 20 people in gatherings, WA Phase 3: maximum of
          100 people in gatherings, WA Phase 4: maximum of one person per two square metres in gatherings.

5 | The 100 Families WA Project
3. Health and Health Service
     As a public health crisis, the               practiced self-isolation and/or             isolate but practiced social
     primary focus of the COVID-19                social distancing. Table 3.1                distancing, which is defined as
     crisis has been the impact of the            displays the frequencies and                continuing activities outside of the
     virus itself – identifying and               proportion of the sample that               home, but following the
     containing infections. At the time           experienced the different forms of          prescribed rules set by the
     of completing the survey, none of            social distancing. Family members           Western Australian Government
     the family members reported that             could select more than one                  including those around limits on
     they had contracted COVID-19.                option.                                     the number of people that can
     One family member (0.6%)                                                                 attend gatherings and keeping
     suspected they had had it (i.e.,             The term ‘quarantine’ was used to           1.5m from strangers. A number of
     called the COVID-19 hotline or saw           describe the mandatory                      family members (6.3%) were not
     a doctor), but they had not been             quarantining of those returning             able to self-isolate, because they
     tested. Three family members                 from overseas or interstate travel,         were working in an essential
     (1.9%) had experienced COVID-19-             or those who had contact with a             service, and a few (2.5%) did not
     like symptoms but did not seek to            confirmed case. At the time of the          alter their social interactions and
     get tested and managed their                 survey, 8.2% of family members              activities.
     health situation on their own. Two           reported that they had been
     family members (1.3%) reported               required to quarantine in their
     that they had been tested for                home, and 0.6% somewhere else.
     COVID-19, but were awaiting                  Interviewers were advised to
     results.                                     explain that ‘self-isolate’ in the
                                                  context of this survey referred to
     Experiences of social distancing             choosing to stay at home, and only
                                                  leaving the home to exercise or
     Family members were asked to                 shop for essential items. Over half
     indicate whether they had been               (60.8%) of family members chose
     required to quarantine at some               to self-isolate. A third (32.3%) of
     point, and whether they had                  family members did not self-

     Table 3.1: Family member experiences of social distancing

                                                                                                                   n               %
     I have been required to quarantine in my home                                                                13              8.2
     I have been required to quarantine elsewhere                                                                   1             0.6
     I chose to self-isolate at home or elsewhere                                                                 96            60.8
     I could not self-isolate because I work in an essential service                                              10              6.3
     I did not self-isolate, but practice social distancing                                                       51            32.3
     I did not self-isolate or change my social interactions and activities                                         4             2.5

     Note: Percentages do not equal 100.0%, as family members could select multiple options

| Page 14 |                                                                                                             #100FamiliesWA | 6
Mental health impact                           time” and “all of the time” to               sample. These figures indicate that
                                                      create “most to all of the time”.            the family members in the study
       To examine the mental health                   We have done likewise in the case            were experiencing much higher
       impacts of the COVID-19 situation,             of the 100 Families WA COVID-19              rates of depression and/or anxiety
       family members were asked the                  survey. Figure 3.1 below visually            symptoms than the Australian
       question “How often did you feel               depicts the comparison between               general population. It should be
       depressed or anxious, during the               the family member responses and              noted that across all 12 waves of
       past week?”. The response                      the national responses. It should            the Taking the Pulse of the Nation
       options for this question included             be noted that this question asks             survey, the highest proportion of
       “none of the time”, “a little of the           about feelings of depression or              Australians that felt anxious or
       time”, “some of the time”, “most               anxiety and did not require a                depressed for most to all of the
       of the time”, and “all of the time”.           clinical diagnosis.                          week was 20.0% (lowest 14.9%),
       This question was drawn from the                                                            well below the proportion of
       Taking the Pulse of the Nation                 Over a third (38.1%) of family               family members reported here.
       survey, which has been conducted               members reported they had felt               Similarly, the lowest proportion of
       weekly since April by the                      depressed or anxious for most to             Australians that felt anxious or
       Melbourne Institute (Melbourne                 all of the time during the past              depressed for little to none of the
       Institute, 2020). The Wave 8                   week, compared to 17.1% of the               week was 52.9% (highest 60.6%),
       survey was selected as the                     national sample. Just over a fifth           which is still substantially higher
       national comparison point for this             of both family members (21.3%)               than the proportion of family
       report as it took place between                and the national sample (23.4%)              members reported here.
       25-28 May. At this point in time,              reported feeling depressed or
       half of family members had                     anxious for some of the time
       completed the COVID-19 survey.                 during the past week. Less than
       The publicly reported figures for              half (40.6%) of family members
       Wave 8 combined the responses                  reported feeling depressed or
       “none of the time” with “a little of           anxious for little to none of the
       the time” to create “little to none            time, during the past week,
       of the time”, and “most of the                 compared to 59.6% of the national

       Figure 3.1: Feelings of depression or anxiety in the past week

              100 Families WA: Perth COVID-19 Survey                       40.6%               21.3%                 38.1%

       Melbourne Institute National COVID-19 tracker                               59.6%                     23.4%           17.1%

                                                             0%            20%           40%         60%             80%           100%
                             Little to none of the time                 Some of the time            Most to all of the time

       Note: Excludes three family members that skipped this question.

       Melbourne Institute National COVID-19 tracker data is taken from the Taking the Pulse of the Nation survey which contains
       responses from a national sample of 1200 which has been stratified by gender, age, location to be representative of the Australian
       population (Melbourne Institute, 2020). The figures presented here are taken from the Wave 8 (25-28 May) survey, to serve as a
       national comparison, as half of the family members’ responses to the COVID-19 survey were collected before/after this wave. The
       national percentages have been adjusted to exclude missing responses.

7 | The 100 Families WA Project
Cancellation of medical                      sterilise the treatment facilities                      were asked whether they had had
appointments and procedures                  between patients and minimise                           any medical appointments or
                                             contact in waiting areas. These                         procedures cancelled or
At the end of March 2020,                    restrictions meant that access to                       rescheduled due to the COVID-19
Western Australian hospitals                 healthcare services and medical                         restrictions. Under half (40.5%) of
cancelled all Category 3 elective            procedures was limited.                                 the family members had
surgeries and reviewed the                                                                           experienced a cancellation or
urgency of Category 2 elective               Telehealth services were                                rescheduling due to COVID-19.
surgeries in order to free up                expanded during the restrictions,                       The family members were then
resources in preparation for a               so that people could access                             asked to indicate which types of
COVID-19 outbreak (Cook, 2020).              healthcare from home. Initially,                        appointments had been cancelled
The reduction of elective surgeries          there were only Medicare Benefits                       or rescheduled. Family members
sought to preserve face masks and            Schedule telehealth items for                           could indicate more than one type
other personal protective                    those who were considered                               of healthcare service (see Figure
equipment, and increase hospital             vulnerable, which included those                        3.2 for the full distribution of
capacity. Allied health                      isolating on the advice of a                            responses). Of those that had an
professionals were not exempt                medical practitioner, those aged                        affected appointment, over a third
from the COVID-19 social                     over 70, Aboriginal and Torres                          (35.9%) had to cancel or
distancing requirements and many             Strait Islander people aged over                        reschedule a surgery or medical
were limited to only providing               50, those who are                                       procedure. Over a third (35.9%)
appointments to address acute                immunocompromised, and those                            had to cancel or reschedule an
conditions (for example, dental              with new babies or are pregnant.                        appointment with a specialist.
emergencies such as severe                   These criteria were relaxed to                          Under half (39.1%) had an
toothache or abscess; ADA, 2020).            enable more Australians to access                       appointment with an allied health
Some allied health and GP                    healthcare remotely via telehealth                      professional cancelled or
practices elected to close during            services.                                               rescheduled, 18.8% with a general
April and May, while those that                                                                      practitioner, and 9.4% with
remained open reduced the                    To investigate how family                               another healthcare professional.
number of appointments available             members were affected by the
to allow for adequate time to                restrictions on healthcare, they

Figure 3.2: Types of medical appointments that were rescheduled or cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions
                                                                     35.9%        35.9%
                                             Proportion of “Yes”



                                                                   Surgery or   Specialist   Allied health     GP           Other
                                                                    medical                  professional


Note: Donut chart includes all family members that completed the survey.

Column chart includes only those that indicated that they had had a medical appointment rescheduled or cancelled due to COVID-
19. Percentages do not add up to 100.0% as family members may have had more than one type of appointment affected by COVID-

                                                                                                                             #100FamiliesWA | 8
Reasons for the cancellation of              resources. The health service                 professional was in an at-risk
       medical appointments and                     being closed was the reason                   category (9.4%). Some (9.4%)
       procedures                                   offered by 15.6% of family                    family members did not feel
                                                    members.                                      comfortable accessing healthcare
       The family members who had                                                                 services during the height of
       medical appointments cancelled               For the purposes of this survey,              COVID-19 and 4.7% had to cancel
       or rescheduled due to COVID-19               ‘at-risk’ was defined as those who            or reschedule because they were
       were asked to indicate why this              were immunocompromised, aged                  self-isolating. Others (6.3%) did
       occurred. Table 3.2 presents the             above 70, Aboriginal and/or Torres            not feel that a telehealth
       frequencies and proportions                  Strait Islander aged above 50, or             appointment was an appropriate
       associated with the reasons for              pregnant. Family members                      substitute for a face-to-face
       appointment disruption. A third              reported that appointments were               consultation.
       (34.4%) of family members                    cancelled or rescheduled both
       reported that their procedure was            because they are in an at-risk
       cancelled to free up beds and                category (10.9%) or the healthcare

       Table 3.2: Reasons for the disruption of appointments due to COVID-19
                                                                                                                          n               %
       The health professional is in an at-risk category                                                                  6           9.4
       I am in an at-risk category                                                                                        7          10.9
       I was self-isolating                                                                                               3           4.7
       I didn't feel comfortable accessing services                                                                       6           9.4
       Procedure was cancelled to free up beds and resources for COVID-19                                               22           34.4
       Service was closed                                                                                               10           15.6
       Telehealth was not appropriate                                                                                     4           6.3
       Other                                                                                                              6           9.4
       Total                                                                                                            64          100.0

       Note: Table includes only those that indicated that they had had a medical appointment rescheduled or cancelled due to COVID-19.

       Access to telehealth services                  example, a webcam; 3.8%), not                as the COVID-19 survey had to be
                                                      being able to afford it (1.3%), and          conducted with the same
       Telehealth provides an at-home                 not wanting to have their                    resources required for telehealth
       alternative to face-to-face                    consultation online (6.4%). It               (over the phone, or via a
       healthcare appointments.                       should be noted that those in the            webcam), due to the COVID-19
       However, it requires that the                  broader study who were unable to             restrictions in place during data
       patient/client have access to a                access telehealth services may be            collection.
       webcam and steady internet                     underrepresented in this sample,
       connection, or be comfortable
       taking the appointment over the
       phone, and have a private and
       quiet space in their home. To
                                                    Table 3.3: Reasons for not accessing telehealth services
       examine the potential barriers
       to telehealth that family
       members experienced, family                                                                                             n          %
       members were asked if they had               Yes                                                                        64    41.0
       accessed telehealth, and if not,
                                                    No, I did not need telehealth services                                     66    42.3
       why not (see Table 3.3). While
       42.3% of family members did                  No, that was not offered to me                                              8     5.1
       not need to access telehealth                No, I could not afford it                                                   2     1.3
       services, and 41.0% did access
                                                    No, I did not have the equipment                                            6     3.8
       telehealth, the remaining 16.7%
       needed medical care but did not              No, I did not want an online consultation                                  10     6.4
       access telehealth. Reasons                   Total                                                                     156   100.0
       included: the service not being
       offered to the family member                 Note: Excludes two family members that did not answer this question
       (5.1%), not having the right
       equipment (for

9 | The 100 Families WA Project
4. Education
A major concern arising from            symptoms in youth or                    payments will have provided at
COVID-19, aside from its health         adolescence, raising concerns that      least temporary alleviation of
impact, is the impact on children.      school closures will impede             financial burdens for those who
In addition to stress and anxiety       schools’ and teachers’ ability to       received it, many family members
among children about the virus          identify and address young              did not. Only 51.2% of 100
itself and the changes to their day-    people’s mental health needs            Families WA family members with
to-day life brought about the virus     (Golberstein, Wen & Miller, 2020).      children reported receiving
(World Health Organisation,             Teachers and schools also play an       income support payments that
2020), the impact of school             important role in identifying other     were eligible for the $550
closures is of particular concern. It   serious issues that can emerge in a     fortnightly supplement.
is estimated that COVID-19 related      young person’s life, such as            Accordingly, it is important to see
school closures are affecting the       homelessness (Thielking, La Sala &      how family members with children
education of 80% of children            Flatau, 2017).                          coped with school closures and
worldwide (Van Lancker & Parolin,                                               other disruptions to their
2020). Gaps between higher and          A significant issue is the longer       children’s lives.
lower socioeconomic children in         term impact that the interruptions
literacy and numeracy are known         to essential services such as school
to widen during summer school
holidays and there are concerns
that, although schooling will
                                        will have on children. Research
                                        shows that even short-term
                                        disruptions to food security, for
                                                                                 of family members with children
continue, that the modified format      example, can lead to longer term
                                                                                 in their care were not
will have similar effects due to        disparities in educational
                                                                                 receiving income support
children of lower socioeconomic         attainment, health, and
                                                                                 payments that were eligible for
status lacking adequate access to       psychosocial functioning (Dunn et
                                                                                 the $550 fortnightly Coronavirus
the internet and devices, and           al. 2020). Paired with the
often not having quiet, private         knowledge that early life
places to study (Van Lancker &          disadvantage predicts long term
Parolin, 2020).                         health, education, economic
                                        participation, and social wellbeing     Over half (54.4%) of family
The concerns around school              outcomes, there is a clear need to      members that completed the
closures relate not only to             support children and families           COVID-19 survey had children in
educational achievement, but also       experiencing disadvantage to            their care, and 84.9% of these
food insecurity, physical health,       mitigate the impacts of COVID-19        (45.6% overall) had children who
and mental health. School-based         from worsening their life               were school-aged in their care.
food programs ensure access for         experience.                             The number of children in family
many children to at least one                                                   members’ care ranged from 1 to 8,
nutritionally valuable, free or         Previous 100 Families WA reports        with an average of 2.1.
affordable meal per school day,         and bulletins have shown the
alleviating a major cause of stress     impact of disadvantage on parents       In Western Australia, parents of
for many parents (Dunn et al.           and children. We have presented         children attending public school
2020). As well as nutrition, school     evidence that suggested that            were asked to not send their
provides formal physical education      parents were going without food         children to school after March 30,
as well as natural active play          in order to feed their children         one week before Term 1 was
opportunities; the move to online       (Seivwright, Callis & Flatau, 2019),    scheduled to end, to allow
schooling and the restrictions on       that more than 1 in 5 family            teachers and schools to prepare
outside play as a result of physical    members (22.8%) could not afford        remote teaching resources. During
distancing requirements pose a          a hobby or leisure activity for         the final week of Term 1 (April 6-
significant risk for weight gain and    children (Seivwright, Callis &          9), only supervision (not teaching)
obesity among children                  Flatau, 2019), and 26.3% could not      was available for children whose
(Workman, 2020)                         afford for children to participate in   parents could not safely keep
                                        school trips and school events that     them home (Laschon, 2020).
In relation to mental health, the       cost money (Seivwright & Flatau,        Though it was anticipated that the
majority of adults with mental          2020). While the Coronavirus            whole of Term 2 would be
health issues first experienced         Supplement to income support            delivered online, WA’s

                                                                                                       #100FamiliesWA | 10
comparatively mild experience          Table 4.1: Additional resources required by parents and caregivers in order to
       of the pandemic in terms of            continue schooling at home
       virus cases saw the Premier
                                                                                                                     n           %
       calling for all students (except
       those with medical
                                             Equipment (e.g. computer, webcam)                                      11         57.9
       vulnerabilities or family
       members with chronic health           Access to the internet                                                  7         36.8
       issues) to return to in-person        Faster internet                                                         6         31.6
       school by the start of week
       four of Term 2 (May 18)               More internet data                                                      5         26.3
       (Government of Western                Access to apps                                                          5         26.3
       Australia, 2020). Restrictions on     Access to apps for children                                             5         26.3
       school activities have since been
       further lifted, and most school       Information about what to teach my children                             9         47.4
       activities, such as assemblies,
       camps, excursions, sports             Information about how to teach my children                             10         52.6
       carnivals, swimming lessons,
       choirs, and exams can now take        Other                                                                   7         36.8
       place, subject to physical
       distancing requirements (WA           Among the 19 family members                   outcomes. There are clear areas in
       Department of Education, 2020).       who felt they needed more                     which support is needed,
                                             resources in order to continue                particularly given the belief that
                                             their children’s schooling at home,           COVID-19 and, therefore,

      73.6%                                  36.8% said they would need
                                             access to the internet, 31.6%
                                             needed faster internet, and 26.3%
                                                                                           potential temporary lockdowns
                                                                                           and restrictions are going to be
                                                                                           part of our lives for the
      of family members with school-         said they needed more internet                foreseeable future. Access to the
      aged children felt that they had       data. Equipment, such a computer              internet and appropriate devices
      enough resources to continue           or webcam, was cited as a need by             with which to access it for
      their children’s schooling at          57.9% of family members who                   schooling purposes have once
      home.                                  required additional resources to              again emerged as a strong need
                                             continue their children’s                     for several family members.
       We asked family members with          schooling. Interestingly, while
       school-aged children in their care    47.4% of family members with a                Irrespective of COVID-19,
       whether they felt they had the        need for additional resources                 increasing digital inclusion for
       resources they needed to continue     wanted additional information                 socioeconomically disadvantaged
       their children’s schooling at home.   about what to teach their children,           families and children should be a
       Almost three quarters (73.6%) felt    even more (52.6%) wanted                      priority in light of the increasing
       that they did. This may reflect the   information about how to teach                reliance on digital technologies
       short duration for which parents      them. This has important                      and the benefits that can result
       had to homeschool; 70.9% of           implications for the future as it             from effective use of such
       responses to the COVID-19 survey      suggests a greater focus on                   technologies. In addition, while
       were gathered after children had      contact between teachers and                  family members’ responses
       returned to school, so parents may    parents particularly for those                indicate that the resources
       have been looking back on the         without strong educational                    available to them are generally
       homeschooling experience with         backgrounds.                                  sufficient, further tips and support
       positive feelings such as relief.                                                   with regard to how to effectively
       Alternatively, it could reflect the   “Struggled with learning at home.             teach them may help parents and
       high level of support available to    Technology didn't work, needed                caregivers to enhance children’s
       parents from schools. The WA          support to get the computer to                educational experience in general,
       Department of Education               work.”                                        and will definitely be useful in the
       developed a Learning at Home                                                        case of future issues that
       website, a centralised source for     Thus far, it appears that the brief           necessitate learning from home.
       learning resources and support for    nature of the interruption to in-
       parents, carers, and children. Of     person schooling in WA has meant              “A better understanding of what
       course, such resources are less       that family members caring for                they are doing at school. School
       helpful to those without adequate     children have not perceived too               work today I don't understand.”
       access to the internet.               many issues in relation to their
                                             children’s schooling which will
       “They are doing great, schools are    hopefully translate to a minimal              “[I need] resources about how to
       looking after them well”              interruption to children’s learning           get them to do it”

11 | The 100 Families WA Project
5. Labour Force Participation
 On the 24th March 2020, strict        Table 5.1: Labour force status of family members
 COVID-19 restrictions were
 introduced which meant that                                                                                    n          %
 businesses deemed non-                Labour force participation rate                                         50     31.6
 essential had to temporarily
                                       Employed – Worked in the last week                                      22     13.9
 close, including beauty therapy
 salons, cinemas, nightclubs,          Employed - Away from work                                                8      5.1
 concert venues, fitness centres,      Unemployed - Actively seeking work and able to work                     20     12.7
 museums, and libraries                Not in the labour force                                                108     68.4
 (Morrison, 2020). Restaurants         Actively seeking work and not able to work                               2      1.3
 and cafes were reduced to take-
                                       Not engaged in work and not actively looking for work                    9      5.7
 away food and drink services
 only. The closure of these            Home Duties                                                             39     24.7
 businesses meant that many            Student                                                                  7      4.4
 people lost their employment.         Unable to work due to health condition or disability                    39     24.7
 To assist, a federally funded         Retired                                                                 11      7.0
 JobKeeper payment was
                                       Other                                                                    1      0.6
 introduced, where businesses
 that could demonstrate that          Total                                                                   158    100.0
 their annual turnover would be
 reduced by 30-50% (depending
on business size) due to COVID-19,    home duties and caring
could apply to provide their          responsibilities (24.7%), actively
employees with a $1500                seeking work but not available to              COVID-19 impact on employment
fortnightly payment, to ensure        work (1.3%), not engaged in work
that their employees would retain     and not looking for work (5.7%),               As the labour force status
their job while the business was      and other (0.6%).                              questions are concerned only with
closed. Unfortunately, not all                                                       labour force participation in the
employees were eligible for the       Reasons for being away from                    previous week, family members
payment, as it was only available     work                                           were also asked if COVID-19 had
for contracted positions, or casual                                                  impacted their employment
positions that had been held for at   Ordinarily, reasons for being away             situation. While the COVID-19
least 12 months. Only one family      from work include                              restrictions brought on significant
member in the study reported          holiday/personal leave, temporary              job losses and business closures,
that they were receiving              illness, and being temporarily                 some industries did need to
JobKeeper.                            stood down. To assess whether                  expand their workforce. Family
                                      COVID-19 had an impact on work                 members were asked if they
Family members were asked about       attendance, family members (n =                gained work as a result of new
their labour force status in the      8) who reported that they were                 demand created by COVID-19. Of
week prior to the survey. Just        away from work in the week prior               those who were employed, 13.3%
under a fifth (19.0%) of the family   to the survey were asked to                    (n = 4) got their current job and
members had some form of              explain why. Three family                      6.7% (n = 2) got more hours in a
employment, having worked             members said that their workplace              job they already had. One family
(13.9%)or being away from work        had been temporarily closed due                member who was not in the
(5.1%). In order to be considered     to COVID-19 restrictions and two               labour force due to their studies
unemployed, family members had        reported that they were not given              reported that they had previously
to have been actively seeking and     any hours. One family member                   got more hours in a job they
available to work, 12.7% met this     said their mental health issues                already had.
definition. Just over two thirds      were affecting their ability to
(68.4%) of the family members         work, having also taken personal               Family members were also asked if
were not in the labour force, due     leave. One family member was                   they had been stood down or
to retirement (7.0%), health          away from work due to caring                   retrenched at any stage, because
condition or disability (24.7%),      responsibilities and another had               of the COVID-19 pandemic, and
engagement in education (4.4%),       taken holiday/personal leave.                  overall, 11.5% (n = 18) said that

                                                                                                            #100FamiliesWA | 12
they had. In terms of their current           members’ physical ability to work,            employed, 40.0% reported that
      labour force status, 13.3% (n = 4)            aside from the economic effects of            their ability work had been
      of the employed family members                the restrictions, family members              affected by COVID-19. They felt
      and 20.0% (n = 4) of the                      were asked if their ability to work           less productive at work (23.3%),
      unemployed and actively seeking               had been affected by COVID-19.                more stressed (3.3%), and
      work family members reported                  Table 5.2 presents the distribution           concerned about contracting or
      that they had been stood down or              of responses by employed family               spreading the virus (3.3%). Some
      retrenched due to COVID-19. Of                members (those who worked or                  family members were working less
      the family members who were not               were away from work during the                because their mental health was
      in the labour force, 5.1% (n = 2) of          last week) and family members                 affected by COVID-19 (10.0%), or
      those who were unable to work                 who were unemployed or not in                 they had extra caring
      due to health condition or                    the labour force. Responses from              responsibilities (13.3%). Of the
      disability, 7.7% (n = 3) of those             the unemployed family members                 family members that were
      with caring responsibilities/home             have been combined with those                 unemployed or not in the labour
      duties, and 22.2% (n = 2) of those            who were not in the labour force              force, 23.1% felt their ability to
      who were not looking for work,                as it may be the case that many of            work was impacted due to COVID-
      reported that they had been stood             those who are not in the labour               19, due to additional caring
      down or retrenched at some stage              force are not actively seeking work           responsibilities (14.1%), mental
      because of COVID-19.                          because of the current economic               health effects of COVID-19 (3.8%),
                                                    situation. Family members who                 and concern about contracting or
      COVID-19 impact on ability to                 were not in the labour force due              spreading the virus (5.1%).
      work                                          to a health condition or disability
                                                    and those who were retired were
      To examine the impact of the                  excluded from this question. Of
      COVID-19 pandemic on family                   the family members who were

      Table 5.2: Impact of COVID-19 on ability to work

                                                                                                              Unemployed/Not in the
                                                                                        Employed                   labour force
                                                                                         (n = 30)                    (n = 78)
                                                                                           n             %             n          %
      My ability to work has been affected by COVID-19                                    12           40.0           18        23.1
      I am more stressed at work                                                           1            3.3      -
      I feel like I am less productive at work                                             7           23.3      -
      I am working less/unable to work because I have extra caring
      responsibilities as a result of COVID-19                                             4           13.3             11           14.1
      I am working less/unable to work because my mental health is
      affected by COVID-19                                                                 3           10.0              3            3.8
      I am unable to work because I am worried about COVID-19                              1            3.3              4            5.1
      My ability to work has not been affected by COVID-19                                18           60.0             60           76.9

      Note: Percentages may not add up to 100.0, as family members could select multiple options.
      Those who were employed were asked if they were “working less” due to caring responsibilities and mental health, whereas those
      who were not working were asked if they were “unable to work”.
      Unemployed/Not in the labour force excludes those who are retired (n = 11) and unable to work due to health condition or disability
      (n = 39).
      “I am more stressed at work” and “I am unable to work because I am worried about COVID-19” responses may be underrepresented
      as they were coded from the “other” text responses.

       COVID-19 impact on looking for               disability and those who are                  felt it had affected their
       work                                         retired), were asked whether the              motivation. Almost a third (28.6%)
                                                    COVID-19 situation had impacted               of the family members that were
       The family members who were                  their ability and motivation to look          not in the labour force felt their
       unemployed (actively seeking and             for work. Just over half (55.0%) of           ability to look for work had been
       available to work), and those who            the family members that were                  affected by COVID-19 situation
       were not in the labour force                 unemployed felt the COVID-19                  and 33.9% felt it had affected their
       (excluding those who were unable             pandemic had affected their                   motivation.
       to work due to health condition or           ability to look for work, and 35.0%

13 | The 100 Families WA Project
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