Through a dark and difficult few months, picnics truly earned their place in the sun. Think, “Bridgerton lakeside promenade” meets “wide selection of Aldi cheeses”. Think, why weren’t we doing this before?
A draft report from the Disability Royal Commission highlighted the present, imminent and inequitable dangers of re-opening before all disabled people have had accessible opportunities for full vaccination.
Clutching a roadmap with little regard for these recommendations, NSW folk awoke nonetheless to find themselves in a dissonant State of startling normality. We can go to the pub, the club, we’re back to bottomless brunch.
This roadmap is a joyride for some, but for those of us left vulnerable it’s simply reckless driving.
As a disabled woman, I am well-acquainted with the grief of induced stagnation. I’m far too familiar with having my autonomy, choice and independence disabled by the choices of others, and circumstances beyond my control.
One of the most powerful traits of freedom is the freedom to resist. We don’t have to do something just because it’s legal. We can choose lower-risk activities to protect the wider community. We can still have picnics.
Keeping picnics around isn’t just protective for those of us with compromised immune systems. Psychologists and those with lived expertise of mental ill health have recently been highlighting the struggles of “re-entry anxiety”.
The general advice? To come out of lockdown at our own pace. Preserving picnics as a key part of our social calendar allows for a graded-debut.
With fewer crowds, open air, and a lower risk of transmission, keeping picnics as a social staple may be the secret to a smoother transition for many.
Here we have an opportunity to learn about accessibility, and the importance of planning in a way that enables all to safely attend.
Hosting a picnic over a house party, for example, can accommodate immuno-diversity within a friendship group. Keeping access needs at the heart of any gathering will be a welcome change to Sydney’s social life, pandemic or not.
It’s time to Slip, Slop, Slap, Slide, Seek, Socially-Distance and Snack.
What an incredible thing we will have done to have stayed a little longer stuck in the mud.
Grace White is a Sydney-based writer, music tutor and advocate for social justice who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies from the University of Sydney.