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Our hopes and fears for 2022

  • 14 January 2022
Across the globe, in times of plenty and times of famine, homo sapiens used to huddle together around comforting fires to share stories and nourishment, all the while projecting their hopes for the coming season. The coming year: what would it allow or provide? New ways to hunt? New fruits to gather, quadrupeds to chase down, fish to splash after, flighty creatures to throw things at, or crops to plant?

We’ve been in a pressure cooker, these past two years. More than a score of historians had memorably described 2020 as the sixth-most ‘stressful year ever’. With that in mind, Eureka Street has entrusted me with a chance to prognosticate; I have looked dimly through the glassy eyes of New Year’s Eve towards the riches and perils of 2022, I have donned my baggy green thinking cap, consulted the familial spirits (enduring the spousal briefing on politely acceptable aspersions) and had a crack. Predictions and speculations look ahead; I looked at the past trends of the past two years and make these humble observations. With the stage set for dire times, here are six trends to look for. Here’s hoping.

More debt, less employment

Amidst the continuing COVID-19 uncertainty and economic instability, with projections that the federal and state governments will double their total indebtedness by 2024-25, there are the usual concerns that robots (read automation) will steal one in 10 Australian jobs. And, alarmingly for lovers of science fiction and excitingly for dystopians, artificial intelligence is touted as making our nation’s healthcare ‘more nimble, adaptive, personalised, safe and effective’. Will AI show any improvement on a federal government that has consistently under-ordered or slow-motioned products such as vaccines and tests? That remains to be seen. 

Less divisiveness, more kindness

We are scraping the bottom of the social welfare barrel, yet COVID-19 has apparently changed our nation’s social fabric, surprisingly, by seeing reports of higher rates of trust; this has been alongside peaks in social isolation and loneliness, with half of Australians reporting they feel ‘more lonely since the start of the pandemic’. If we can show kindness by sharing what we have as individuals, as friends, as families, as communities, subcultures and a society, perhaps we can start to address this. Unfortunately, that leads us to the next trend.

More scarcity, less equity

We will have less. And ‘we’ means poorer Australians. The pandemic has strained our capacity, rendering many people unemployed and the vast majority