Families and health workers featured in Victorian coronavirus ad campaign speak up to spark change
Craig French doesn’t mince his words when he describes what he does for a living.
Associate Professor French, the intensive care unit director at Western Health, is on the front line of the state’s escalating coronavirus battle and is likely to be a common sight on television screens across the state in the weeks ahead.
He is one of the people featured in an emotional coronavirus advertising campaign launched by the State Government, which seeks to highlight the mental and physical toll of the pandemic.
The multi-language advertisements showing people suffering from the virus will be circulated on television, radio and social media.
The emotional ads mimic previous campaigns launched by the Government on the consequences of smoking and speeding while driving.
The four different ads involve a nurse, doctor, parents of a healthcare worker, and a man who was put into an induced coma for 72 hours after contracting the virus.
‘If they get sick, we’re in big trouble’
Associate Professor French, who described ICU workers as “the last line of defence”, said those put into the wards had to be isolated, even from their own family.
Loved ones, who are normally welcomed to the hospital, are unable to visit and instead receive updates over the phone or on video calls.
“I just can’t imagine how difficult that is for them,” Associate Professor French said.
On top of that, there is the constant fear associated with coming into regular contact with COVID-positive patients.
“There’s always, in the back of your mind, that unsettling feeling that you could catch this yourself,” he said.
Deb and Greg Williams, whose daughter Catherine is a nurse at the Royal Children’s Hospital, are also in the campaign.
“We’ve got to look after our medical staff because if they get sick, we’re in big trouble,” Ms Williams said.
“We’re very nervous because we’re in that difficult age group. We really do need to stay inside and stay safe.”
Virus feels ‘like drowning’
Another man featured, Michael, survived a bout of COVID-19.
It was only when he woke from an induced coma, he found out that his elderly mother-in-law caught the virus and later died.
In the commercial, Michael said it feels “like drowning” when you have the virus.
The ad campaign was launched as a growing number of people are diagnosed with the virus in Victoria, while some continue to openly flout the rules.
Over the weekend, several videos emerged of shoppers in Melbourne refusing to wear masks and arguing with police and retail staff.
Police said 126 people had been fined for breaching Victoria’s lockdown rules in the last day, 20 of whom were for failing to wear a face covering while outside.
One man from South Melbourne was fined after trying to drive 100 kilometres to go surfing.
“Whilst police will use discretion in the first seven days since the [Chief Health Officer] direction was issued, we will not hesitate to issue fines to people who are obviously and blatantly showing a disregard for community safety by failing to wear a mask,” a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.