Pharmacists ‘such a part of the community that they’ve been forgotten’.


Pharmacists are among the forgotten heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, says one stakeholder, as Australians prepare to thank essential workers

Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants have been singled out as a group to be praised on Tuesday, May 5, as part of the Giving Tuesday promotion.

Australia is launching Giving Tuesday, an event which began in the United States in 2012 and is aimed at encouraging giving in all its forms: donating, giving thanks, performing a kind act or volunteering.

Traditionally Giving Tuesday is in December but COVID-19 has inspired an impromptu global campaign, and thousands of Australia’s community groups and nonprofits plan to use Giving Tuesday as a catalyst to raise money, recruit volunteers and thank supporters.

The campaign will kick off today, May 5, with an Ovation Across the Nation, where Australians are encouraged to thank the people who have helped keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those singled out for thanks are:

  • pharmacists and chemist staff;
  • doctors and nurses, lab workers, cleaners, receptionists, admin staff, security and IT professionals in our hospitals and GP clinics;
  • supermarket shelf stackers and checkout operators;
  • truckies, couriers and food deliverers; and
  • carers and educators of kids and vulnerable communities.

Spokesperson Brett de Hoedt told the AJP that it was time to recognise the importance of pharmacy’s contribution to getting the country through the COVID-19 crisis.

“We realise that pharmacists are absolutely frontline workers, and they’re a source of information and referral – they work seven days a week sometimes till midnight – and we feel that they may have been a little forgotten in the response to COVID-19,” he said.

“I think they’re such a part of the community that they’ve been forgotten, and they are not a group of people who complain.”

He said that other groups of workers have – rightly – been outspoken about their need for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but pharmacists have been more likely to get on with their jobs.

“They also deal with groups in the community who are very vulnerable – young parents, elderly people, people with chronic disease, so the groups who are most at risk from Covid.

“There’s been not a word of complaint. And I think we’re taking them for granted, and that includes their pharmacy assistants.

“Thank you, for their tireless work, and their independent and scientific information. They’ve been the backbone, the quiet achievers.”

The ovations are expected to be performed by Australians solo, as a family, with a group they belong to such as a sporting club or with workmates. Most ovations are expected to last a minute or two.

Athletes, performers, workplaces have begun recording their ovations which range from the conventional to the theatrical. A pack of Royal Society for the Blind support dog puppies (along with their humans) have recorded an ovation.

“This pandemic revealed that everybody – from doctors to check out operators and delivery drivers – are essential to daily life,” says Giving Tuesday Ambassador Rev. Tim Costello. “It’s shown that together we can rise to a challenge and achieve more than we can individually. It’s time to say thanks.”

The Ovation Across the Nation is not a fundraiser and no registration is required though people are encouraged to share their ovations with the hashtag: #GivingTuesdayNOW and to visit www.givingtuesday.org.au for more ways to give.

Beyond the Ovation, Giving Tuesday will launch a Giving Register matching community groups with potential supporters and release results of a survey investigating the impact of COVID-19 on community groups.

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