The COVID-19 pandemic is teaching Australians a lot about themselves.
One lesson, sometimes forgotten, is that government is at the very centre of our lives.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the government are relying more than ever on the public service, both for its advice, and to implement its response to the pandemic. It's not exaggerating to say that lives and livelihoods depend on the federal bureaucracy.
The public service is rising to the challenge. Thousands of its staff are volunteering to be redeployed to the departments and agencies needing help.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the influence of governments on our lives, it also shows that the federal bureaucracy is indispensable. That's a home truth, but sometimes a forgotten one.
COVID-19 has changed Australia at discombobulating speed, but it's transforming the Australian Public Service with similarly dizzying rapidity.
The bureaucracy started the year with a goal to become more cohesive in its work and thinking - summarised in the mantra of having "One APS".
The chief operating officers committee started this year. One of its purposes has been to implement the Australian Public Service reform process outlined by the Prime Minister in 2019.
But within a week of its first meeting it had to begin focusing almost exclusively on the government response to COVID-19.
Monthly meetings transformed to daily ones as the committee worked to give the APS a collective approach to dealing with the coronavirus, and make its policies and support for the workforce consistent. The pandemic has forced the public service to think differently.
What could have taken years is being compressed into weeks, even days. That achievement is something to be applauded, but it comes with a cost.
There are inconsistencies and omissions in the ways some changes are being implemented, most obviously in the move to working from home.
It was perhaps inevitable that the APS's adaptation to higher volumes of remote working would raise problems.
The public service is shifting thousands of its staff from the workplace to home offices (and, reportedly, makeshift desks on kitchen counters and dining tables).
The Australian Public Service Commission has stopped short of making such a move mandatory for all but essential staff. It has left it up to each department and agency to have the final say on who works from home and who is needed in office.
Public servants are understandably anxious about the risks of contracting COVID-19 either at work or in travelling to and from the office.
Many complain of intransigent managers knocking back work from home requests for no apparent reason. Others say their agency lacks the basic equipment like laptops and security devices to support remote working, despite the strong recommendation of both the prime minister and the APS Commissioner Peter Woolcott that people be enabled to work from home where possible.
Some organisations seem to be adapting to this requirement better than others. Around half of Australian Taxation Office officials are now working from home and other agencies are picking up the pace as well.
Change is coming in other ways too.
Thousands are being redeployed to areas of the public service like Services Australia which have experienced an extraordinary surge in demand.
This is requiring a level of interagency cooperation and coordination that has long been talked about but never quite realised.
Now it is happening.
When the COVID-19 crisis eventually stabilises, as at some point it will, there are hopes that many of these innovations in the way the public service operates will persist.
The virus outbreak will likely leave an indelible imprint on our society, changing some things for the better and some for the worse.
If those lasting changes include improved cooperation and coordination across the APS and a greater appreciation of how important a strong and effective public service is to all our lives, that will be all to the good.