Police, permits and politics: Navigating life on Australia's state borders during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lily McCann, Sandra C. Thompson, Floraidh Rolf, Tegan Podubinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To explore the ways in which the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected Australians who live and travel in cross-border regions in the course of their daily lives. Design: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with participants by telephone. The analysis utilised qualitative exploratory methods and provided rich data through immersive and reflexive analysis. Setting: Interviews of people across Australia. Participants: Of 90 people interviewed in relation to their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, 13 described challenges related to border crossing that impacted their usual work and personal life. Main outcome Measure: Description of challenges faced by Australians living close to state borders due to internal border closures in the early period of COVID-19 (2020). Results: Policy changes surrounding border closures negatively impacted people’s wellbeing in Australia with three key interconnected themes identified for Australians living in cross-border regions. First, border closures presented participants of these communities with physical barriers which reduced access to healthcare and employment. Second, participants reported how restrictions on travel to neighboring states and territories impacted their mental wellbeing. Finally, many Australians in cross-border regions faced financial struggles exacerbated by border closures. Conclusion: Normally, interstate borders are largely invisible with formalities relevant to few circumstances. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians who used to regularly cross these borders in the course of their daily activities were no longer able or willing to do so due to the uncertain circumstances surrounding border policy. This study elaborates on the impact of these closures on people’s physical, financial, and emotional state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-372
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number3
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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