Writers Lament the Passing of Physical Letters as Australia Post Grapples With a Diminishing Postal Service

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The Postal Service predicts that formal letters will become an afterthought as digital communication continues to take precedence – a sentiment met with disappointment by many.

Before the advent of email and smartphones, handwritten letters were once essential, providing a powerful medium to express sentiments from love declarations to conveying tragic news. 

Letter writing is an expression that is necessary for well-being, and I feel that digital communication takes that away,” says Melanie Knight, an avid letter writer from Melbourne.

This week, Australia Post raised the alarm as it reported a staggering $190 million loss in its letter service within six months. As our population grows, the demand for more delivery points increases costs and reduces the letters delivered annually by Australia Post.

Australia Post’s CEO Paul Graham has expressed worry over the sustainability of their letter service and that all possible solutions will be explored, including evaluating delivery frequency. This “inescapable decline” is estimated to make letters a minor communication by 2030.

Knight, an expressive arts therapist who leads creative letter-writing workshops, expresses how the loss of such a practice could significantly affect society.

Even though there’s thousands of emojis, [digital communication] is so homogeneous,” Knight says.

The way I might choose to share, from minutiae and mundane to something that feels very big and profound, just comes out so differently when you sit down and really pick the words that go down on paper instead of using your thumbs,” Knight added.

The postal service is on the brink of financial ruin due to its letter delivery unit, which has imposed a significant burden. Despite raising the introductory stamp price to $1.20 recently, more is needed to prevent losses by June’s end if changes are made soon.

Today, Australia Post is primarily a parcel and services provider, as domestic letters generate less than 20% of the total revenue. 

This significant decrease can be attributed to businesses transitioning more towards electronic options such as online billing systems. Ultimately, packages reign supreme when it comes to driving income for this particular postal service.

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