Party like it’s 1999

Well actually more like the early 2000s in my case. It’s me and my bestie Jules (pictured below) looking like extras from a 90s girl band having a joint birthday party way back when. My birthday plans this weekend were dashed by a sick child but the pandemic has taught me, if anything, about the need to just let go and go with things. My family went ahead without me and proceeded with yum cha at Crystal Jade in Melbourne’s Chinatown (food envy also below!) given multiple family birthdays in June and July so I’m glad I managed to have dinner with some La Trobe friends at Va Tutto bistro in Ivanhoe on Friday night, which does excellent food and service.

Me and Jules at our joint birthday party

There are a number of talented young chefs in new food spots in the north-east at Hope Street Radio, Florian and Public Wine Shop. Also love that the Pav Queen in Alphington now has a permanent home in an old butcher’s shop if you’re after an Aussie dessert. And speaking of food, it’s consultation time until 13 July regarding the Preston Market Precinct development which is facing the prospect of 2200 apartments being built on site where the car park is currently located.

Dumplings at Crystal Jade

Change can be tricky and I know artists and artisans located in the famous heritage-listed Nicholas Building in the city (my second favourite after the Manchester Unity Building) are worried about their creative space with the building currently up for sale.

It’s NAIDOC week next week which has reminded me of my voluntary work I’ve not progressed with Women of Colour Australia although founder Brenda Gaddi was mentioned in the media a few weeks ago as was ANZSOG’s Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith AO (my biggest boss) who received a Queen’s Birthday honour.

I was reading with interest about jobs of the future being broken down into ‘hearts, heads or hands’ and working in the NFP space is definitely the former. I think charity roles allow you to pick up valuable skills for use in any environment private or public. The fate of the higher education sector is still a vexed question and I am feeling for my ex-La Trobe colleagues who I feel have been left behind in more ways than one.

Cake Mail cake

On a brighter note, I was thrilled to receive a birthday cake (above) from my friend Martha courtesy of Cake Mail and a book of poetry (below) from my eldest son. That’s a lot of pink!


A Woman of Colour

Indeed I am and after venting on this very blog about my frustration over lack of diversity in the media for a long time now, I have put my hand up to manage communications and engagement on a voluntary basis for new NFP Women of Colour Australia (WOCA) and be part of the systemic change needed to ensure our diverse society is represented in all spheres of life – political, economic, social and cultural – and at the highest levels.

There is nothing quite like a moment whose time has come and after being endorsed by La Trobe alumna and cross-cultural consultant (and Ambassador) Tasneem Chopra OAM (who I have previously worked with), I was appointed by WOCA founder Brenda Gaddi a few weeks ago after presenting to her Board and also asked to join WOCA as a non-executive Director (more on the operational side) over the next 12 months in its inaugural year. Needless to say, I am feeling the weight of responsibility as well as incredibly humbled. Most of the other women of colour involved have many titles and letters after their name like PhD or MBA or work as CEOs or at C-suite level. I have my work cut out for me now trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together and the way forward.

I’m a big subscriber to ‘nothing about us without us’ in terms of representation of the cohort you’re working with and it was great to see the ABC take this into account with their Diversity and Inclusion Commissioning Guidelines for screen content – things have changed and I’ve noticed advertisements on free-to-air commercial TV have used more diverse people in the last 5 years to reflect, even if not at a program level (Australian soapies and Boards -you are still very white).

All images above by Rod Ceballos Photography

Inspiring too to read about the amazing rise of Australian Chinese blogger turned Vogue China editor-in-chief Margaret Zhang at the ripe old age of 27! She has set the bar high with her other achievements as a classically trained ballet dancer and pianist who scored 99.85 for her HSC and graduated from the University of Sydney in commerce/law. WOCA founder Brenda Gaddi has a background in blogging and previously met Margaret Zhang, which she was telling me about via Google Meet on Friday. It is a small world.

Women of Colour logo (and digitised image of Brenda Gaddi’s mum Electa)

On the paid job front, I’ve been put forward by recruiters for a number of temporary communications roles in education and local government so we’ll see what happens as it would be good to contract in the interim while I continue to job hunt. I would love to find a permanent professional home after working close to 5 years on fixed term contract – it’s difficult to plan when you live year by year without certainty. Although interesting too has been the decision by some of my high flying friends in the corporate sector to resign from their permanent jobs this year (without jobs to go to) on the back of COVID-19 and other burnout – it has taken its toll. This has been a time of great reckoning and transition for many people and the journey you go on as an individual without a job is just as fascinating as where you end up landing.

On a final note, I feel a bit narcissistic but thought I’d post some of the beautiful photographs Rod Ceballos took at my photo shoot the other week. I’ve reached an age where I don’t like having my photo taken or looking at the end result but I think he’s done a great job in capturing who I am as well as making me feel incredibly comfortable during the process – it is a real skill and talent. Thank you Rod – I can see why Banyule Council use you as their go-to photographer!