A woman whose income has been cut off by Melbourne's fifth lockdown but doesn't qualify for government support was stunned when strangers set up a GoFundMe to help pay her rent.
Carly Soderstrom, 35, was blown away by the kind act – but said it was "disgusting" it had fallen to the public to support her.
The single photographer lives alone in Torquay, 60km from Victoria's capital city where her business is based, making her ineligible for the government's emergency support packages.
So far, strangers have raised close to $16,000 to help Carly get through this fresh lockdown, which she has described as a "mortifying position" to be in.
"Since lockdown two, the message has been, 'We're all in this together, we need to save lives', but we're not – the disparity is huge," she told news.com.au.
"As a sole trader there are no grants for us. In October they came out and said there was one, but I wasn't eligible because we [sole traders] needed to have a commercial lease – again we fell through the cracks."
When Melbourne was plunged into a five-day lockdown again on Thursday after the state had 18 confirmed cases of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19, Soderstrom took to social media in utter despair to explain the reality she – and other small business owners – were facing.
Her tear-filled, emotional video quickly spread far and wide, with many resonating with the "heartbreaking" and "exhausting" situation.
"The video was so full of fury and passion and fire," she told news.com.au "I knew that if you try and maintain decorum and don't swear or get angry, people don't listen.
"How does this keep happening? We're on our knees, we're desperate."
Soderstrom's video was so powerful, it prompted a fellow Victorian Michael Smith to set up a fundraiser to help.
"Carlz has put her heart and soul into being the voice in this crazy mess of lockdowns," he wrote on the GoFundMe page.
"She is completely destroyed and defeated like a lot of us."
Soderstrom said she found out about the page when it had raised around $3000, writing on social media she was only going to accept enough to cover her rent and then the rest would be paid forward to others in the same boat.
"It's disgusting the general public has to support me but the government will not," she told news.com.au
"It's a welcome Band-Aid but it doesn't fix the problem, yes I can pay my rent next month – but I still can't open my business.
"We can't plan for the future, we can't earn money, we don't know what the future looks like."
Admitting she is "exhausted" and "broken", Soderstrom said it feels like "my country has turned its back on me".
"I feel a part of me has died, the spark to want to participate in life has gone. There's no motivation to get up and keep going when you know the wind is going to be taken out of your wings again and again."