To market, to market

I’ve not posted recently about some of the intricacies of my current role. It is a big portfolio – ranging from being directly responsible for marketing communications for four of our key executive leadership programs but also maintaining strategic oversight of ANZSOG’s Alumni Program and managing the Alumni Advisory Council – one of our three key alumni cohorts. I also assist my Director with whole-of-school promotion and act in her role in her absence managing four staff members.

Our First Nations Conference next week in Brisbane happens every two years – the last one being held online due to COVID. This time around, it’s all hands on deck as much as some of our speakers and attendees from Aotearoa New Zealand have been affected by their state of emergency there. We are expecting over 800 people, which is the biggest event I’ve ever worked on and I am expecting to be pulling in some long hours helping manage attendees over the three days, hosting an Alumni Advisory Council in-person meeting (the first in two years), hosting the alumni tables at the gala dinner and being responsible for the ANZSOG stall at the Marketplace area where people will congregate for catering at break times from Great Hall and ‘yarning’ sessions with keynote speakers and facilitators. The event itself is being hosted by ABC journalist Dan Conifer. It is an ambitious undertaking for an organisation of our size but I think one which will continue to define us in the First Nations space.

With the help of our creative graphic designer, I managed to pull a whole-of-school brochure together in the space of one week – not an easy task given the amount of internal stakeholders we have. I thought you might be interested in seeing the whole menu of programs and areas ANZSOG works in. For attendees in Brisbane, you’ll see me and my colleagues on the Marketplace floor wearing our ANZSOG black T-shirts with our First Nations original Maori and Aboriginal artwork emblazoned on them.

Speaking of which, other retailers and sponsors will also have tables at the Marketplace including the Aboriginal Art Co. After reading about the founders on the Design Files a few years ago, I’m very excited to see what they’ll have on offer at their stall. If you like Aboriginal Art, I’ve not visited but often drive past Mandel Aboriginal Art Gallery at 673 Heidelberg Road in Alphington, which should do well there as the Yarra Bend development continues.

Image: Tony Maticevski @David Jones

Lastly, I’ve been amusing my colleagues and other friends with my gala dinner outfit story. After leaving things very last minute last Friday, I ended up going through my existing wardrobe and discovering I no longer fit not one, not two, not three… but four of my little black dresses and other evening gowns. With lockdowns and middle age spread – I’ve gone up a whole dress size – yowsers! So I found myself at David Jones last Sunday looking for a dress that actually fits me for next week’s gala dinner (which is more smart casual) and in future, I intend to hire a Glam Corner gown and be more organised. Still, this absolutely beautiful Toni Maticevski instrumental gown at David Jones caught my eye – it’s a showstopper if you have a special occasion and can afford the eye-watering price tag! My dress next week is a far more modest affair. Wish us luck.


Of dragons and lions

The Lunar New Year festival is coming to an end although I’ve been very much reminded of it this past weekend.

On Friday night I attended a gala fundraising dinner for the inaugural Vietnamese Museum of Australia (to be located in Footscray) at the Melbourne Town Hall hosted by actor/performer/speaker/comedian Diana Nguyen and with special guest speaker Tamie Fraser AO, widow of ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser who was instrumental in bringing out so many of the Vietnamese diaspora in the 1970s.

My uni friend Mylinh is a volunteer and had organised two tables of friends as guests. We were treated to a number of spectacular lion dance performances during the night including lions all lit up in LED lights, a Welcome to Country by Reconciliation Victoria’s Co-Chair Shane Charles, martial arts, singing and dancing along with the usual suspects of a silent auction and car raffle. It was lovely to see Mylinh’s non-Vietnamese guests fully get into the spirit of the night taking selfies with the lions and the Minister of Multicultural Affairs.

I don’t see my uni friends as often as I’d like but we go back a long way and continue to share a lot of good times as our selfie photos will attest! The end of the Lunar New Year is bookmarked by dragon boat racing today at the Docklands and Melbourne has turned on the weather for the races. Melbourne’s Sea Dragons are competing in the ‘extreme canoeing’ event so may the best team win.

Closer to home the Malahang Lantern Festival is being held in Heidelberg West on Friday 17 March from 5 – 10pm and looks like it will be just as spectacular for all things illuminated and floating or ground-based. If you’re a cyclist it coincides with Route 2@Lantern Festival being held by Reels on Wheels curated night-time bike ride (you will need bike lights to participate and be a competent cyclist).

Things are also hotting up in Alphington with the Alphington Primary School Fair being held next Sunday 26 February from 11am – 5pm in Yarralea Street and the Alphington Show on Saturday 25 March from 11am – 2pm for ‘a little bit of country in the city’ at the Alphington Community Centre at 2 Kelvin Road.

The extended 5-day Moomba Festival is being held on the March Labour Day long weekend in our capital city kicking off the many festivals to come in March and April. I was in the city briefly yesterday and there were lots of people around – it has become the place to both live and be entertained in and two of my current work colleagues who grew up in Singapore and Vietnam now reside right in the heart of town walking distance to our office – no excuses to be late for work!

Twilight Sounds

Indeed there were last night at Heidelberg Park. Mr Rosanna and I missed the start of the night but caught PBS DJ MzRizk and The Meltdown‘s lead singer Simon on keys with Indigenous musician Benny Walker and his band. The park looked like a wonderland with the backdrop of purple lights against the trees when Mahalia Barnes took to the stage as the headline act.

Mahalia Barnes on stage at Twilight Sounds

I hadn’t been to Twilight Sounds since it was last staged at Sills Bend by Banyule City Council. While it was more dispersed, and possibly more subdued, than in previous years last night, I felt waves of nostalgia hitting me when I remember all the previous concerts and kids Arty Farty festivals held in the same location throughout my children’s kinder and primary school years. I felt like I was being embraced in the local parklands last night and feel so lucky to have been part of the local community. It was wonderful to see all the little kids running around, teenagers, younger parents and older couples dancing! We’re lucky to still have this flagship music event held in our local community.

Benny Walker and band – Twilight Sounds

It has felt different moving to Ivanhoe where peace and privacy are highly valued, but where we are still feeling our way regarding the local community, which can feel more exclusive. We’re lucky to have family in the area and two or three groups of friends from Heidelberg also move into the area but I expect it to take just as many years as we were in Rosanna to feel the same about Ivanhoe. I feel grateful to have great neighbours – one who surprised us on Christmas Eve morning with a hamper full of food and drink and the other who leaves vegetables from her garden at our front door on a regular basis. The local baker now recognises me in the street and given I see most of my friends from our old ‘hood, I now have the best of both worlds with the merging of the old and the new.

Food truck at Twilight Sounds

Life has felt better this week but I’ve also made a concerted effort to change my mindset and focus on the positive and what I can do in terms of changing my neural pathways – ruminating on the negative is only going to make me very unhappy. The buddhist saying, With our thoughts, we create the world is so true. Your world will be as you see it. It hasn’t stopped me feeling a level of grief about some of the things I cannot change, but it’s important to feel what you feel and then let it go.

Mr Rosanna and me – Twilight Sounds

Work has been very busy and ANZSOG is holding our almost completely sold out First Nations Conference 2023 next month for over 750 people at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. My whole team is flying up north to work at the event along with our Dean and CEO, First Nations and Thought Leadership colleagues. I will be looking after our Alumni Advisory Council, members of whom have never met face-to-face in the past two years, as well as alumni attending the gala dinner so it promises to be a big week, in more ways than one.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

It’s the name of the book by Japanese writer Toshirazu Kawaguchi that’s next on my reading list, along with Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood and A Routine Infidelity by Elizabeth Coleman. I did finish Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au which recently won The Novel Prize. For authors and musicians, it’s been great to read about a number of wins with Australian writers now being compensated for e-book library loans and the establishment of Music Australia – a similar entity to Screen Australia but for the music industry that has been recognised as a serious business. Speaking of music, a reminder that Twilight Sounds, which has a great lineup of soul musicians this year, is on next Saturday from 5 – 10pm at Heidelberg Park Oval on Beverley Road.

The year has largely begun for most of us unless you’re studying at university and the roads and pace are busy once again. I’ve had a pretty tough start to my year with the demands of my job and I’m not immune from the universal issues that face middle-aged families like mine – cost of living pressures, ageing parents and dealing with teenagers who’ve not necessarily fared well these past few years. It can be pretty unrelenting and feel a bit bleak at times.

I’m trying my best to action the things that contribute to a happy life well lived – a positive mindset, movement and flow states, nurturing relationships with the people around me and being grateful for what I do have. I returned to in-person yoga classes this week and have also started swimming lessons (which were more advanced than I was expecting!) as well as been having long baths and walking outdoors in my self-care efforts this week, when I did hit a low point.

We’re very lucky to have our own dog but also dog-sat my friend Mel’s golden retriever Snoopy last weekend and had a double dose of pet-therapy. I thought you might also find this pic (above) amusing – she obviously played a bit too hard in the heat conking out with her head on the water bowl. Ah dogs – they are such funny creatures! Hopefully a better week lies ahead.