On your marks

Well it was close but no cigars this weekend in terms of early easing of restrictions. It’s tantalisingly near but with the recent outbreak in Melbourne’s north, I think things were always looking like November for the economy opening up. I’ve started Christmas shopping supporting local retailers and I hope if you’re still working, you’re also doing the same.

Windmill at Banyule Flats Reserve

While I fear things may potentially worsen post March-next year, we have to give things a red hot go now and I’m thinking particularly of those in the arts, recreation, tourism and hospitality whose businesses need to be reinvigorated to give them the greatest chance of surviving on the other side of this pandemic.

Banyule Business is holding a free How to build a roadmap to success online workshop on 11 November if you are a local business determined to ride out the storm. Like with most things, while some businesses may go under, those built on the strongest foundations will survive and people who’ve been able to pivot and diversify their business stand the greatest chance.

For me, this time in lockdown has crystalised what’s important and who’s important in life – what we’re prepared to put up with (or not) and this time has been a reckoning and appraisal for most of us. If you’ve been lucky enough to live in a functional home environment, I think the pandemic has actually brought people closer together and it’s the simple pleasures in life that I’ve appreciated – cooking, reading, walking and talking to friends and family. I’ve sought solace in nature and I think green spaces have been incredibly important for people’s mental health.

We cannot live our lives in denial but must confront our issues whether we like it or not if we are to move forward and progress as individuals, and in life. With that in mind, there are a couple of interesting lectures being held next month to round out the year at La Trobe.

COVID-19 and the Pandemic of Denial moderated by ex-ABC broadcaster Jon Faine is being held on 10 November as part of my former Bold Thinking public lecture series while A Farewell to Arts: On the Morrison Government’s University legislation is being held on 19 November as part of our Ideas & Society series convened by Emeritus Professor Robert Manne.

As an arts graduate, I believe increasing of the price of humanities degrees will have unintended consequences such as increasing the prestige of these degrees while not necessarily reducing demand and with bigger margins to be had, universities will still continue to offer these courses. La Trobe’s media and communications course has an incredibly high employability rate for its graduates with a focus on practical subjects like The Agency and it was the same for my Public Relations degree from RMIT.

Studying an arts degree has been one of my greatest achievements in life of which I’m incredibly proud. I mentioned this as part of the video series my Cultural Committee at work undertook over winter and we’ve been rewarded with a Staff Award nomination for our videos. Whether we win or lose, it’s been a great way to end our year with our plans now centring around an outdoors Christmas picnic if we are allowed to meet as a division.


Hope on the horizon

How are you going? It’s been a long haul this year and it ain’t over yet. As much as we might wish the remainder of this extraordinary year to be over – it’s still important to live in the now however painful it might be. I’m not sure if you’re feeling as spent as I am but yesterday’s news couldn’t have come any sooner. Melbourne has done it hard these past few months and I’m glad that we can now visit our family and friends (at least outdoors) across Melbourne’s metropolitan area.

River Gum Walk Heidelberg at dusk

I’m also very happy for some of my local friends and business owners like Shane Scrutton from Yarra Tennis Coaching (below in action) in Eaglemont who can finally re-open and I am very much looking forward to my hair and beauty appointments now that they are back on the agenda! I think many of us will be taking ‘after’ pictures of ourselves to celebrate – looking good does make you feel better in what has been a harrowing year for most of us no matter where you live in the world.

The end of the year will come around sooner than we think with the AFL Grand Final, Spring Racing Carnival and Christmas all taking place in the next 10 weeks. It promises to be an interesting end of the year for me with things still playing out on the work front at La Trobe – either way, change is an inevitable part of life and having lived with uncertainty professionally since March, it will be good to know in coming weeks and months whether my future continues in higher education or takes me to other places. One thing I’ve learnt in life is to not hang on so tightly to things as everything always changes and we must change accordingly. Every end is a new beginning and I look forward to what the future holds. Somehow we must all continue to move forward and I wish you luck on your own journey.

Pretty in pink

Indeed she is. My friend Kath Elliott (below) is the poster girl (literally) for this year’s Breast Cancer Network Pink Bun campaign. She discovered a lump last winter and was lucky to get it looked at straight away and after chemo, surgery and radiation over the past year – she has made a full recovery with the support of her gorgeous family who also feature in the posters you’ll see in and around Kew and all Baker’s Delight stores where you can buy the charity buns on their own or in 6-packs. The biggest learning for me is that breast cancer often develops in people with no history of it in their family – it’s not necessarily hereditary.

On the topic of baked goods, the highlight of my week as a moonchild was finding out Lune Croissanterie were delivering to our postcode and placing an order for delivery on Friday. While the pain au chocolat and ham and gruyere croissants were very good – Lune’s signature almond croissants were the best I’ve ever had – light, flaky and super crispy at the same time and worthy of the adulation. No doubt I will be going on a run later today to burn off some calories!

It has been a pretty downcast week – my colleagues and I have been pretty flat and the weather hasn’t helped. It has definitely been a long haul and it’s not over yet – somehow we collectively need to see through these final difficult weeks and I know it’s been hard for even the strongest of us to keep going – everyone’s mental health has taken a hit.

I am a strong believer in taking action to address worry. You may be interested in La Trobe’s upcoming Ideas and Society lecture on COVID-19 and the mental health of Australians being held on Wednesday 21 October with a stellar lineup of panelists including Professor Patrick McGorry AO, Professor Michael Kyrios and La Trobe’s Professor Jennifer McIntosh AM.

If you are a small business owner you may also be interested in Primed to Thrive – the second round of La Trobe’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program to help small business adapt and innovate funded by Business Victoria and in partnership with Investible – a leading early-stage investment group and experts in entrepreneurial development. Applications for this round close tomorrow. I’m also on a new steering committee at work looking at the formation of a consulting club in partnership with industry promoting consulting as a career to students, who will need to pivot their careers in any way they can.

I was happy that the federal budget places young people front and centre as it’s been long overdue but terribly disappointed at the lack of support for women who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic in so many ways. If we don’t have women to advocate for us in government, we become second class citizens and I agree with the sentiments of this Age article by Wendy Tuohy Triple Whammy: Budget overlooked women when they needed it the mostpublished today. I’ve become increasingly more politically-minded as I’ve got older and it’s encouraging, at least, to see more diversity in this year’s local council elections. Without structural change and representation, things will never change – we have to be the change that makes things happen and we also need men to support us.

Image via Craft Victoria

On a lighter note, it’s been lovely to see some life breathed into the city with Craft Victoria’s Craft poster gallery – a series of celebrated craft artists on posters featured on the streets of Melbourne throughout October. While I never made it to the Benaki museum while in Athens two years ago, it’s been exciting to hear that the Hellenic Museum (located in the former Royal Mint building) is trying to rally support for a satellite arm in the old Land Titles Office building in the city – it will be a major coup for Melbourne if it happens and it was also great to see hipsterville…oops sorry make that Yarraville, in Time Out’s 40 coolest neighbourhoods in the world coming in at number 5.

Once in a blue moon

We’ve kicked over into the last quarter of the year and October is an unusual month. It started with a full moon and and will finish with another full (blue) moon on Halloween. An interesting month too given local council elections and an upcoming US election now impacted by the current President of the United States being struck down by COVID-19. Interesting times indeed! I’m not sure if you gazed at the stars during the week and saw Mars lit up by the moon in the night sky (below) but it can give us some perspective that despite this strange and uncertain time, the earth still travels around the sun every day and life goes on eternal.

It has been gruelling in Melbourne and some people are clearly over lockdown and abiding by the rules. We just need to hang on for a couple more weeks…for those of us with older kids, we hope to hear when they are returning to in-person classes after most of this year spent remote learning. It’s been hard for all students big and small and I’ve been working with the Graduations team these past few weeks as we work out what to do for 2020 graduating cohorts who want to wear the hat, collect their certificate and have that mantlepiece photo of the occasion with their family and friends. It is a rite of passage and while there’s no escaping a virtual component, we are looking at innovative ways they may be able to still celebrate.

Officer House 55 Outlook Drive Eaglemont images via realestate.com.au

I’ve had close dealings with a couple of completing students this year and it’s been interesting for me to hear their take on things and understand the unique challenges they face on finishing university in 2020. It is something that weighs on my mind and it’s been quite heartbreaking to hear of instances in online lectures where students have been breaking down and crying.

After a delayed start, the spring real estate market is open albeit operating differently with private inspections only and online auctions. This beautiful house at 55 Outlook Drive in Eaglemont has caught my eye – one of three Arts and Crafts-era homes in the area designed by Harold Desbrowe-Annear at the start of last century. May it go to a lover of period homes and architecture (that wood panelling and library!).