"We could lose everything." 10 women who have lost their job or income due to COVID-19.


As the coronavirus outbreak continues to unravel across the world, thousands of people around Australia are dealing with an uncertain future.

Across the workforce, thousands of industries have been impacted by the outbreak of the pandemic, as small businesses and entire industries struggle to stay afloat.

From hospitality to beauty to the wedding industry, new precautions about social distancing and strict travel bans means that thousands of workers are at risk of losing prospective income or even their jobs.

In order to shed light on the industries that have been hit the hardest by the outbreak of COVID-19, we decided to reach out to women who have lost their jobs or part of their income due to the pandemic.

From hairdressers and hospitality workers to marriage celebrants and photographers, here’s what they had to say.

Leanne – Business Owner

“We own a Martial Arts School. We have lost quite a few students already, and feel it is only a matter of time before we will be forced to close. We could lose our business, our livelihood, and in turn our home. Government support for our business structure is non-existent at the moment. The amount of stress we are under having to implement changes to our class format, keep up to date with ever-changing requirements, reassure our customers, and keeping our facility scrupulously clean at all times is taking a toll on our personal health.

“My husband is immunocompromised as he is currently undergoing chemotherapy, so that adds an extra layer of concern to our situation. We are in the process of preparing to change to be able to deliver our training program online to try and keep our business afloat should we be forced to close.


“The majority of our adult students are happy to continue training for as long as possible with the measures we have put in place; social distancing, no physical contact with other students, and requiring all students to practice hand hygiene. A few adults have commented that they ‘need to keep training’ to keep their mind off what’s going on. We have had to spend a bit of time educating younger students on hand hygiene, which concerns us a little.

“There are very few that will be unscathed from this.”

Sarah – Apprentice Hairdresser

“I’m a first-year hairdressing apprentice. Last Friday my bosses, unfortunately, had to tell me that due to the whole coronavirus situation, the business is suffering big time. They had to let me and two of our casual seniors go.

“This is my last week and yesterday my entire day was spent answering the phone rearranging appointments and dealing with cancellations. I think the entire industry is really going to suffer.

“I’ve tried to get another job, I even had an interview lined up, but the salon had contacted me at the last minute to cancel because they didn’t know what was going to happen and they couldn’t risk hiring.

“It’s horrible.”


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Kate – Marriage Celebrant

“I work as a marriage celebrant and as a facilitator of parenting and emotional programs. I have lost prospective income for both jobs. I have lost a lot of weddings that had over 100 guests and I have had all my groups cancelled through my work at Relationships Australia, which means I’ll have no work in the next school term.

“I am not worried as I am in a decent financial situation with little debt. However, as a family of four with a new baby due in July, it is worrying. If my partner loses work, as a result, we will definitely be impacted greatly. We won’t be impacted as badly as others, however, because we have made some very good financial decisions since we’ve had children, which means we don’t need much money to just be surviving.

“I am heartbroken for colleagues and other parents in situations like us who depend on their jobs to put food on the table. Working is a choice for me that I do to keep myself in the workforce and to set an example to my daughters… not everyone is as privileged as I am. My heart hurts for others far more than myself.


“I had work booked for next week. It was contracted group work at a local high school where we would be facilitating group work focused around healthy relationships. That has since been cancelled. That contracted work was going to be great money for the week for me to buy a few items for the new baby.”

Rachel – Admin Assistant 

“I lost my job as an admin assistant on Tuesday. I am a mum of two girls – a five-year-old and a three-and-a-half-year-old. My husband has his own carpentry business which is going okay for the moment, but it’s still concerning.

“We live near where the fires were recently and then the rain hit pretty hard and then on top of that, we have the coronavirus situation so everything basically snowballed.”

Bree – Retail, Tutor and Photographer

“I work three jobs – I tutor high school and primary students, I work at Bunnings and I also run my own photography studio. Obviously supermarkets are making a lot of money right now, but other retailers – not so much. We haven’t made budget in ages so as a casual worker, my hours have been cut. I’ve gone from working five days a week to working two days a week, sometimes even just one day a week in retail.

“Some parents have made the choice to keep their kids at home, which means we’ve had a lot of students pull out of tutoring and requesting refunds. The problem with this is that the term fees are made upfront. Therefore, the money has gone towards rent, bills, education supplies and my boss now has to refund these families out of her personal money, impacting her home life.


“My photography work has been more quiet than ever. We have a HUGE exhibition next week that it’s too late to pull out of and I doubt anyone will come.”

Cara – Sales Manager

“I was offered a job as a sale manager at the biggest resort in Banff, Canada. But two days after I arrived in Canada, I lost my job due to the coronavirus. I’m now stuck in Canada, trying to get a flight back to Australia as soon as possible.

“The whole resort had to be shut down due to the virus because of the travel bans and the fact that no one was travelling to Banff. No tourism meant no income, and no income meant that they had to shut down and do some lay-offs.

“I’m returning home unemployed. I’m currently looking for work in Australia but due to the current economy, my only options are really applying for a casual position at Coles or Woolworths.”

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Tara – Hospitality

“I lost my job in hospitality on Monday. I actually resigned from a job about six weeks ago. Within the time frame of giving my notice, working out my leave period and starting a new job, the world went mad!

“I started my new job at another Sydney restaurant group as a reservations coordinator. In that first week, I was already feeling anxious that this is not a great time to be starting a new job. The bookings were so quiet. Pretty much the only emails or calls coming through were for cancellations. Being a much smaller business, they were already being affected by loss of functions and no one dining out. Restaurant numbers were less than half of what they would normally be.


“On Monday, the operations manager sat me down and said they were going to have to let me go due to the impact COVID-19 was having on the business and it was a case of last in, first out.

“It really was just such bad timing to start a new job. In hindsight, I never would have resigned but no one could have predicted this. I’m certainly not the only one in this situation though. It’s such a stressful time for so many people and businesses. I don’t even want to think about how I’m going to keep paying rent.”

Jamie – Casual Worker

“I was made redundant in October in a marketing role. Since then, I’ve had a casual role in disability support services one day a week. I also just got a second job making jewellery for a designer but she had to pull the pin due to cancelled markets and trade shows.

“At the moment, I am on the dole. I’m a single mum of two. I make $1000 a fortnight and my rent is $800 a fortnight. I have $5,000 in savings and I was forced to borrow $2,000 from a friend, but things are obviously getting dire. I was saying a few weeks ago, ‘I haven’t hit rock bottom yet but I can see it from here’. Turns out it was a false bottom which has opened up and I’m still falling.”

Maria – Makeup Artist

“I’m a makeup artist and I’m losing hundreds of dollars worth of bookings by the day. Today alone, I have lost more than $800 worth of future bookings. With wedding cancellations and more and more events being postponed or cancelled, my bookings for the next few months are starting to look very, very bare.”


Chloe – Tourism

“I work in tourism so without tourists, my job has pretty much ceased to exist. I work as a tour guide at one of Sydney’s most popular attractions. We haven’t closed completely, but I only have one shift for the upcoming fortnight.

“I’m entitled to a minimum 36-hour fortnight, but I was typically working 40-45 hours a fortnight. Next fortnight, I have four hours and that’s pretty much the same for everyone.”

Feature Image: Getty.

For more on COVID-19:

The Australian Government Department of Health advises that the only people who will be tested for COVID-19 are those with symptoms who have either returned from overseas in the past 14 days or been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days. 

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.