The New Normal: In Focus

The last 12 months will be remembered for years to come. When reports of a strange viral outbreak in Wuhan, China, evolved suddenly into national border closures, widespread lockdowns, and severe shortages of toilet paper, our authors came together to share their expertise on the world’s biggest news story – the global COVID-19 pandemic, and gave a wide range of perspectives on the impacts of the massive event.

In the year since a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020, much has changed. From the Victorian lockdowns here in Australia and the emergence of a hyper-contagious strains of the virus in the United Kingdom and South Africa, to the urgent roll-out of vaccines across the world and to a United States presidential election with huge impact, Policy Forum has covered closely the policy action of the last year. But the world is itching to know: what comes next?

As our first In Focus section of 2021, Policy Forum is rebooting our coronavirus pandemic coverage to meet the changing situation, and interrogating the question that should always be on a policymaker’s mind – where to go from here? As always, we hope you find the discussion valuable, and we invite you to join in the conversation.

Professor Quentin Grafton

Editor-in-Chief and Editor, The New Normal: In Focus section




School’s out – the COVID-19 crisis and school education

Insecure work, unemployment, and Australia after the COVID-19 crisis

Efficacy, equity, and Australia’s vaccine rollout


International students in Australia’s new normal

One step forward, two steps back

Toxic Maskulinity

From vaccine nationalism to vaccine diplomacy



Podcast: The wellbeing economy – a glimpse of the good life

Arnagretta Hunter
Sharon Bessell

Economics and finance | Australia


Rather than returning to the status quo, many are calling for a change in thinking (and in policy) as societies around the world grapple with the coronavirus crisis. One such advocate for change is global development expert David Hulme, who joins Sharon Bessell and Arnagretta Hunter for a fascinating discussion on the wellbeing economy in this instalment in our special mini-series. 

66 minute listen

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Riled Britannia with Bevan Shields and Elizabeth Ames

Bevan Shields
Elizabeth Ames
Mark Kenny

Government and governance | Australia


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new month-long lockdown as the country grapples with high COVID-19 infection rates and a stretched National Health Service. But will the British people and its politicians – so compliant and supportive of the threat first time around – be as willing to back the new measures? Mark Kenny talks to Democracy Sausage UK regulars Elizabeth Ames and Bevan Shields.

52 minute listen

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Democracy Sausage: COVID-19 and climate change lessons

Mark Howden
Arnagretta Hunter
Marija Taflaga
Mark Kenny

Environment & energy | Australia


The bushfire royal commission report released last week put climate change at the front and centre of its analysis, if not its recommendations. But as Australia has achieved such success in using scientific advice to respond to COVID-19, can it also start following the advice of scientists on tackling climate change? Mark Kenny is joined by Arnagretta Hunter, Mark Howden, and Marija Taflaga to talk bushfires, state vs federal responses, and the roadmap for addressing climate risk.

53 minute listen

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