We are Australian. They’re the lyrics to the unofficial Australian anthem I am Australian by The Seekers and which I think better reflect contemporary Australia. The celebration of Australia Day has been a vexed issue for a number of years now with First Nations people and other Australians referring to it as National Day of Mourning or Invasion Day. I would prefer we celebrate on 1 January – the Federation date when we became the Commonwealth of Australia uniting our states.
Unity is a lofty aspiration and while some have disagreed with our Prime Minister changing the words of Advance Australia Fair to ‘one and free’ – it’s something also re-iterated in I am Australian – ‘we are one, but we are many’ and despite our differences, we need to ensure all Australians are included and diversity celebrated. Sadly this isn’t reflected in the data but for me, it’s something to work towards together with representation from those groups who do not yet have a seat at the table.
My time at La Trobe has given me greater insight into difference and diversity and forever changed some of my thinking. It was my last week ‘in the office’ this past week and a flurry of activity catching up with my careers counsellor to finish updating my CV, preparing for an external job interview (which I didn’t land but was still great experience and more on that later), tidying up loose ends and cleaning up my computer files along with farewelling over 100 people at all levels across the university. Working at La Trobe has been a great privilege and honour and not something I ever took for granted. There were some last minute developments and if they eventuate I’ll let you know but for all intents and purposes I have left the university and will be seeking greener pastures elsewhere.
Where to from here? As a professional staff member I’m lucky to have transferable skills and that is now the question as much as there are many people looking for work from industries most affected by COVID-19 – tourism, retail, hospitality, aviation and the university sector. Higher education is Victoria’s largest export industry of $12.5 billion and it has received little government support as much as the Uni unsuccessfully applied for JobKeeper on behalf of its staff last year. I’ve been interested to read the findings of the National Skills Commission and emerging occupations to consider.
There is growth in healthcare, aged care, disability services, transport, social housing and infrastructure so something to bear in mind if you’re looking for work or thinking of re-skilling. I also think trades and teaching are options if you have a passion for working with your hands or with young people.
The role I missed out on due to lack of direct major gift experience was with the IWDA – the International Women’s Development Agency – the leading Australian agency entirely focussed on women’s rights and gender equality in the Asia Pacific. An interesting organisation and one which reflects my values, particularly as a feminist and woman of colour. Still, it was great experience to get to interview and be in the running, which is all you can ask for on the job hunt.
I pivoted before Christmas while I still had the energy applying for roles and reaching out to my network and their referrals. I now have a number of coffee meetings to organise and think I’m more likely to find my next role in the hidden job market – directly approaching people who are in influential positions or leaders who can help me on my journey.
On this Australia Day long weekend, I thought you might be interested in some of the images I took from the Destiny Deacon curator’s talk I attended online earlier this year. Destiny is a La Trobe alumna and (in the words of the NGV where her solo show is now showing) one of Australia’s boldest and most acclaimed contemporary artists – I love the humour in her work, which also makes a political statement, as an Indigenous artist based in Melbourne.