Six months ago, no one had heard of the coronavirus. Now, several months into the pandemic, much of our daily lives have been transformed by its spread. In Australia, religious communities were one part of society expressly impacted by the ‘lockdown’ directives introduced to stem the spread of the virus. This essay describes the ramifications of the closure for some of Australia’s religious communities and considers what might be the long-term impact of the lockdown and our new social reality on the way these communities contribute to social cohesion in Australia.
While the economic risks of declining international student enrolments have been recently reported, this narrative explores how the divide between Australia and its Chinese students, exacerbated by broader political tensions arising from the “China debate,” also pose a threat to social cohesion – both on campus and beyond.