I am, you are

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.


Clever conversations

My feminism lecture at the State Library was completely sold out last night.  Interesting too in that we’d copped some criticism for having an all white female panel and while this is where we ended up, it wasn’t where we started.  Putting together a panel of speakers is both an art and a science and as a female ‘person of colour’ myself, gender and cultural diversity is something that is always at the forefront of my mind.  We struck out early on with a number of gay, male, indigenous and feminist people of colour as potential panelists, which isn’t something the general public is privy to.  I’ve been told by a highly credentialed pollster that people who come to public lectures are ‘self selecting’ anyway so there goes the argument for ‘diversity’… At any rate, we can’t nor do we try to be everything to every person – we can only ever show part of the conversation but not all.

L-R: Dr Beatrice Alba, Professor Jenny Graves, MC Francis Leach, Clare Bowditch & Bri Lee

We had a pretty powerful panel of women including external panelists musician Clare Bowditch (who’d ridden to the State Library on her bike!) and young feminist lawyer turned writer Bri Lee.  While we’ve got some way to go, it was interesting to hear Professor Jenny Graves‘ experience of sexism early on – behaviour that would get absolutely called out as unacceptable by young men and women now but was considered the norm in the 1960s and 70s.  Interesting too, Dr Beatrice Alba‘s evolutionary psychological experience and data that show even small or minor amounts of marginalism are damaging.  Clare Bowditch talked about her experience as a woman in both the music and media industries and as the mother of a 15 year old daughter, as well as her own experience as a ‘fat’ child growing up.  Bri Lee was an equally impressive speaker with an in-depth knowledge of the legal system revealing how antiquated it is and that class-ism and poverty are major issues alongside racism and sexism.  The lecture was livestreamed here and will soon be available as a Clever Conversations podcast on La Trobe University’s Soundcloud account.


Speaking of women, my friend Alisia is coordinating a Ladies in Black film fundraiser at the Lido Cinema in Hawthorn next month if any of you are interested in attending.  Alisia is also doing the catering for the event to raise money for the Order of Malta Australia.  I saw the trailer for the Australian film when I watched Crazy Rich Asians the other week and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

Image via Pared Eyewear

Despite unluckily being under the weather yet again, I did sit outside in the sun briefly yesterday and was happy to see all the new growth on the trees and shrubs in my back yard. Warmer weather is on its way and there are some Australian clothing and accessory brands that have recently caught my eye.  If you’re after new sunglasses, Pared Eyewear do some great styles and I also recently bought a pair of handmade Nelson Made sandals, which remind me a little of  the (much more expensive!) Ancient Greek Sandals Taygete Bow.  Lovely too some of the eco-reversible bathing suits by swimwear brand Baiia.com.au

Image via Nelson Handmade

Have a great weekend – I’m hoping the Melbourne Demons once again prevail over on the West Coast. Carn the Dees!

Image via Baiia Swimwear


Modern feminism is difficult to define as the word means different things to different people – men included.  I’ve been working on my next Bold Thinking Series lecture in September which will encompass many of the hot button issues of the moment including #MeToo, male privilege and power, the gender pay gap, gender equality, being a female in male dominated industries and the differences between men and women.  My two bosses and I, along with help of a focus group, have assembled an interesting panel to tackle this topic and I’ll share more next week once details are online.  Suffice to say that I think systemic change is needed across broader society in both the private and public sector at a policy level and this can only be done if men and women work together to make it happen.


Speaking of feminists I did want to mention that Kasey Edwards, who writes for Daily Life on this very topic is launching her Young Adult book The Girl Who Fell (above), published by Black Inc Books, on 4 September.  She’s co-written this with her partner in life Christopher Scanlon under their pen name Violet Grace.  Chris is an ex- La Trobe University academic who will forever be remembered as the man who wore kilts to work.

And yes, this post is dedicated to the memory of soul great Aretha Franklin whose music has been the soundtrack to many of us in life, including Mr Rosanna and me.