Global Responses

In our interconnected world a pandemic travels faster, economic shocks hit harder, and the policies and responses of nations far from our own have real effects on our everyday lives. Understanding the different challenges and responses to this crisis globally is vital to formulating a sustainable response here in Australia. Who we choose to support and align ourselves with during the crisis will have far reaching effects for Australia and beyond.


Policy Insights

  • Coming out of this crisis, Australia should focus on creating a better understanding of, and stronger ties to, our heterogenous Asian neighbours. Read more.
  • In order to alleviate the socio-economic effects of the current crisis in the United States, decision makers need to move beyond reactionary policies and start planning for the future. Read more.
  • Governments around the globe, including in Australia, need to undertake a care audit of the policies and investments that have been put in place in response to COVID-19. The decisions that are made now, will shape the stability and sustainability of our future, for the better, or, for the worse. Read more.
  • Governments and policymakers need to address the current and future impact of COVID-19 for communities affected and displaced by conflict. This should involve a coordinated response that accounts for the increased financial and health burden that COVID-19 will have on already vulnerable populations. Read more.
  • Global governance entities need to be restructured to include the voices and experiences of traditionally marginalised people and civil society more generally. Read more.
  • Policymakers need to consider how gaps in policy and social cohesion may be exploited by extremist groups seeking to undermine state responses and fuel an atmosphere of fear. Read more.

Coming out of this crisis, Australia should focus on creating a better understanding of, and stronger ties to, our heterogenous Asian neighbours.

Dr Howard Manns

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

The need for successful linguistic and intercultural communication has come to the fore during the COVID-19 crisis. We need culturally and linguistically adept experts to interpret and navigate international crises. Such experts can help guide us through the complexities of the self-interest of nation-states, and the common international will necessary to stymie international problems. Cultural and linguistic experts can also assure intra-national inclusion and messaging to migrant and marginalised communities.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

I think a greater, more open and innovative approach to our Asian nations and their linguistic and cultural heterogeneity is still lacking. It goes without saying we have inextricable historical links to the UK and the USA. But the world is getting more complex.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

Paul Keating argued in the 1990s that "Asia is where our future sustainability lies." I think this crisis has brought this point into greater focus. Australia is on a pivot of sorts between our historical links to Europe, and our geographic position in, and growing demographical links to, Asia. On this pivot, Australian can emerge as a global leader in the 21st century. We can define ourselves as leaders in this sphere by capitalising on what Michael Clyne has called our language potential. We need to have an honest, clear and critical discussion about what this means in practical terms.

Additional resources

Misajon, R., Manns, H., Bliuc, A-M. & Iqbal, M. (2016) Australia-Indonesia attitudes & understanding: Qualitative research of contemporary attitudes & interventions. Report for Australia-Indonesia Centre & Australian Department of Education.

Bowe, H., Martin, K. & Manns, H. (2014) Communication Across Cultures: Mutual Understanding in a Global World (2nd edn). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goebel, Z., Cole, D. & Manns, H. (eds) (2020). Contact Talk: The Discursive Organization of Boundaries. London: Routledge.


In order to alleviate the socio-economic effects of the current crisis in the United States, decision makers need to move beyond reactionary policies and start planning for the future.

John Pilbrow (PhD candidate)

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

In the US, the major challenge moving forward is readiness at the outbreak of the next crisis - pandemic or otherwise.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

An acceptance that business or policy as usual simply no longer works.Restrained stances on policies like healthcare, economic stabilisers and employment protection only serve to hasten the impact of crises on vulnerable populations.It's time to accept that a pragmatic approach to policy with readiness for crises is necessary.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

Make a plan of action now. In terms of attitude, the present administration in the US appears content to return to business as usual. This will not be sufficient if the US endeavours to be more prepared in the next instance. Calls to reopen the economy immediately might satiate some, but ignored are issues brought to the fore by COVID-19, particularly where it concerns vulnerable populations. For instance, discussions about the economy should be addressing the often-symbiotic nature of healthcare access and employment - whereby some workers' insurance is only guaranteed so long as they are employed. This means people are not only losing their jobs, but their health insurance as well. Another key consideration is access to the ballot. Expanding access to absentee voting will better guarantee that democracy can function in the US in the face of crises.

Additional resources

Pilbrow, J. (2020) Normalcy, the Golden Age and the Troubled Present.


Governments around the globe, including in Australia, need to undertake a care audit of the policies and investments that have been put in place in response to COVID-19. The decisions that are made now, will shape the stability and sustainability of our future, for the better, or, for the worse.

Professor Jacqui True

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

A key challenge for governments and international organisations brought into sharp relief by the COVID-19 crisis is how to build inclusive economies that ensure stability and sustainability? Women’s participation in all spheres of life including in the economy, is essential to sustainable and durable peace and to the realization of human rights. Yet, conflict and war are increasing with the contemporary failure of half of all peace processes with the effects of violence on economic development long-lasting, while global economic gender gaps have been widening since 2017. How can we promote women's economic rights and participation in fragile and conflict-affected environments as well as in countries recovering from COVID-19?

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

Globally, we are stuck between the competitive individualism of the market and the failure of state socialism and the social democratic welfare state. Missing from the discussion of economic and global recovery is the concept of a “regenerative state.” This is a moment of openness after crises (such as COVID-19 or conflict, disaster or financial collapse) when policy and governance can be revisioned to recognise the value of the care economy and the social infrastructure needed to support it as well as the physical, built and resources environment; to facilitate inclusive, participatory dialogues underpinned by attention to issues such as the depletion of women's labour in households and communities, and the pandemic of gender-based violence; and to incorporate accountability mechanisms through a democratic framework for regeneration that reshape gendered power relations.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

A care audit of all COVID-19 policies and investments domestically and internationally is necessary to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic recovery as well as global stability for future generations. The window of opportunity and time to act to build back better is now.

Additional resources

Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre

Rai, S. M., True, J. and Tanyag, M. (2020) From depletion to regeneration: addressing structural and physical violence in post-conflict economies in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 26:4., pp., 561-585.

True, J. (2020) Women’s leadership could enhance global recovery from COVID-19. Prio Blogs.

Rai, S. M. and True, J. (2020) A regenerative state or business as usual? Warwick Blogs.

Davies, S. E., Harman, S., True, J. and Wenham, C. (2020) Why gender matters in the impact and recovery from COVID-19. The Lowy Institute.


Governments and policymakers need to address the current and future impact of COVID-19 for communities affected and displaced by conflict. This should involve a coordinated response that accounts for the increased financial and health burden that COVID-19 will have on already vulnerable populations.

Associate Professor Katrina Lee-Koo

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

Supporting populations affected or displaced by conflict.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

Much of the global focus has been on COVID-19 in reasonably developed countries. The unique challenges that are posed in protecting diverse conflict-affected communities from the spread of COVID-19, particularly in makeshift displacement camps, is frequently missing from public discussions.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

Populations affected by conflict are uniquely vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. They live in close, often makeshift quarters, often do not have reliable access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and suffer multiple health concerns with limited healthcare access. It is a global responsibility - and the responsibility of individual nations - to support vulnerable populations around the world who lack the capacity to protect themselves from this threat. This can be done through co-ordinated provision of financial and aid resources, information sharing on the virus, and protective measures and responses. This must be done alongside long-term planning for sustained conflict resolution.

Additional resources

Gordon, E. and Lee-Koo, K. (2020) The danger of disease in the world’s largest refugee camp. The Lowy Institute.

West, A. (2020) Coronavirus, war, and the new inequality. The Religion and Ethics ReportABC Radio National.


Global governance entities need to be restructured to include the voices and experiences of traditionally marginalised people and civil society more generally.

Dr Tom Chodor

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

The biggest challenge is the secular stagnation of the global economy, which has been hampered by low growth, stagnating incomes and inequality since 2009. Governments and institutions like the G20, IMF and OECD have struggled to resolve these challenges, which will only be exacerbated by the economic shock of Covid-19.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

The discussions to address these policy challenges need to expand their focus beyond the technocratic policy prescriptions which have dominated for the past 40 years and look at new ideas and perspectives. To do this, they need to meaningfully include traditionally marginalised actors in civil society.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

The key to addressing these challenges is to reform existing governance structures to make them more responsive to the interests and perspectives of traditionally marginalised actors. These issues can only be resolved globally, and thus require the transformation of global governance institutions to broaden their focus to addressing the negative impacts of global economic integration and promoting a more sustainable and equitable form of growth. It would also require reforms of the means through which such institutions engage with civil society, to give it opportunity to meaningfully challenge and contest policy agendas in order to increase their efficacy.

Additional resources

Chodor, T. (2020) Missing in action: The G20 in the Covid crisis. The Lowy Institute.

Hameiri, S. (2020) Covid-19: Why did global health governance fail? The Lowy Institute.

Bishop, M. and Payne, T. (2019) Reglobalisation in action- Part 1: Rehearsing the concept. Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute.


Policymakers need to consider how gaps in policy and social cohesion may be exploited by extremist groups seeking to undermine state responses and fuel an atmosphere of fear.

Dr Alexandra Phelan

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

Like states, extremist groups, have similarly had to adapt to the unprecedented crisis posed by COVID-19. Such groups have been able to leverage the crisis by providing public health services vis-à-vis the state in their areas of influence in order to enhance their legitimacy, and use the pandemic to their propaganda advantage.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

Non-state armed groups, including gangs and terrorist organisations, often use their improvement of civilian health and welfare as an example of their organisational legitimacy and efficiency. Combined with exploiting COVID-19 in extremist propaganda, this can negatively affect public confidence in government.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

In many countries, ineffective (and, in some cases, a lack of) government response to COVID-19 can provide openings for extremist groups to not only adopt governance roles, but to promote their own public service campaigns based on misinformation and conspiracy. This in turn creates public mistrust, heightens perceptions of government inefficiency, and can play a key role in drawing legitimacy to not only the organisation's "cause", but the group’s ability to respond efficiently to crises. Effective, good governance and public health responses are the ultimate high-water mark for state’s responding to these challenges, but it is also important for policymakers to be aware of malign disinformation campaigns that extremist groups are currently using to their advantage to sow fear. Effective policy should take this into account, and consider how government strategies - or a lack of a public health response - can actually be used to the advantage of extremist groups.

Additional resources

Phelan, A., Veronika, N., Stenger, H. and Gayatri, I. (2020) COVID-19 and violent extremist groups: adapting to an evolving crisis. Monash Lens.

Bloom, M. (2020) How terrorist groups will try to capitalize on the coronavirus crisis. Just Security.


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