Whatever it takes

It feels like an age ago since I last posted and it’s a new world we now find ourselves in. I never thought I’d live in a time where a global pandemic would strike, but here we are. It has hit home this weekend with the Banyule Festival being cancelled as well as my children’s usual Saturday morning sport. Rather than being ‘out there’, the coronavirus is now here on our doorstep.

There’s never been a greater need to stay calm and to plan and prepare, while we still have time, to minimise the challenge that is on its way. My media and communications colleagues at La Trobe have spent the past few weeks and months in critical incident team meetings planning for all the different scenarios, including the one which emerged this week. Many workplaces have also enacted their crisis management plans with Telstra instructing two thirds of their entire workforce to work from home for the next two weeks. Much of its workforce has already been doing this on a regular basis in terms of business as usual so they are well placed to weather the storm in terms of moving entirely to working online.

As for me, working at a university where there has been one positive case is unsettling, however we can only continue as instructed by our leaders who have consulted with leading health experts from all the relevant areas and follow their advice. Like our fellow teaching and medical professionals including friends who are nurses (my personal frontline heroes), academic and professional staff at the uni are being asked to step up and keep going.

I think a state-wide (and possibly national) shut down is imminent and it may now be a question of when so my advice would be to ensure you stock up grocery-wise without panic buying (knowing that essential services like supermarkets and chemists will stay open) and be prepared to receive a text or email from your childcare centre, kinder, school or workplace at short notice regarding moving to online learning or working from home (if you can). Social distancing and getting on to things early have helped countries like Singapore and Hong Kong deal with coronavirus better than others.

I think if you can look at a prolonged confinement period at home in a positive light, it may be an opportunity to catch up on your reading, podcast or movie list or sign up for some online learning. Or tackle other life admin like de-cluttering, paperwork and all those odd jobs around the house you never seem to find time to do. If you’re a cook or gardener, some time spent cocooning at home may be an unexpected boon. I’ve also been loving some of the scenes of Italians singing together from their balconies that are doing the rounds on Facebook. If you are a creative and imaginative person, then there are all sorts of possibilities.

Don’t forget to exercise, keep up your liquids (especially hot water and tea) and spend time in the sun, living in the present. It is a gift to be alive and health is wealth; this has never been more apparent than now. Time to assemble people…



Do you make your own luck or is it something that just happens?  All I know is that while bad things happen to good people, a lot more good things happen to good people and that most people in the world are good as I tell my children.

I had a colleague who attended the recent La Trobe PG Expo with speaker Todd Sampson and her take out regarding his advice was that we apparently grow more arrogant and inflexible as we get older.  All the more important I think to stay flexible (and active) in mind and body, to stay humble (and grateful) and to stay brave.  We can lose courage as we grow older and grow more fearful but I think that’s the challenge of life and the journey that life itself presents.

Lucky is the name of the exhibition that opens at Bundoora Homestead tomorrow that explores the history and effects of gold mining and the pursuit of wealth in Australia interrogating the Australian dream of finding a better life – a fair go – in the context of cultural, racial and political inequalities.  It sounds absolutely fascinating and given that my ancestors came here in the time of the gold rush, a very relevant one for Asian Australians.

Julie Bishop Event Hero Image v2

Speaking of political, my lecture with the Honourable Julie Bishop MP is now completely sold out but you will be able to watch the livestream.  I am looking forward to meeting her next week and hearing what she has to say, particularly her personal reflections on leadership, lessons learnt and being a female politician.  She held nothing back in her recent talk at a Future Women event where she said, ‘If you’re trying to be a man, it’s a waste of a woman’.  Strong words indeed…

Mr Clever

I’m really hoping it’s Friday as it’s been a massive week.  My team held the Rudd on the PM Years Melbourne book launch at the Sofitel on Wednesday night for close to 400 people and it was a big night.  Love him or hate him, Mr Rudd tends to elicit fairly strong reactions from people and it has been an interesting exercise for me in relationship management and diplomacy both within and outside the greater University with this one.

La Trobe University image by Savs Photography

As I mentioned last year when I worked with his office, whatever you think of him, Mr Rudd is an exceedingly clever man.  I consider myself more literate than the average punter but my breath was taken away by his everyday vernacular – his vocabulary is quite extraordinary.  You can have a listen on the Bold Thinking Series livestream if you’re interested in the conversation where he spoke on democracy, disruption to institutions, Australian media ownership and more.  He did go a little off piste given the remit we gave him in terms of topic but the predominantly young, Uni student audience lapped it all up and queues were out the door for selfies and book signings with Mr Rudd after the event, when I left the venue after 10pm.  He leads a cracking pace too in that his team flew out the next morning at 5am bound for Sydney.

L-R: Mr Rudd & MC Patricia Karvelas – La Trobe University image by Savs Photography


For me, it was lovely to look after MC Patricia Karvelas who did a great job despite being a little bit under the weather and to spend time in the green room with La Trobe academic and former Triple J broadcaster Lawrie Zion having a chat.  No rest for the wicked in that I had my Is democracy broken? panel discussion (picture below) last night at the State Library with VC’s Fellow and Fairfax columnist Tony Walker and the panel he’d assembled including Mark Textor, Michele Levine, Katharine Murphy and Geoff Walsh.  All were outstanding speakers who very generously lent their time and expertise to the event – Katharine Murphy’s insights into political journalism and how the industry has been completely disrupted were probably the most fascinating to me given my profession.  She has also written on the subject with her On Disruption book (only $15!) currently available at independent bookstores.  Again, you can see the whole conversation on the Bold Thinking livestream page.  And yes, I did buy a copy of Mr Rudd’s book – the bibliophile in me couldn’t help myself.

L-R: Mark Textor, Michele Levine, MC Tony Walker, Katharine Murphy, Geoff Walsh and Professor Nick Bisley

There were some tech issues with both events on the night – event-management is definitely not for the faint hearted – but the show always goes on no matter what.  The Eaglemont Artisans market in Eaglemont Village is on this weekend as well as the Textile Art Community Spring into Fashion event with the Bell St markets in Heidelberg West.  The Darebin Music Feast is currently on as well as the British Film Festival at Palace Cinemas. Enjoy your weekend – I’ll be taking it easy…


Picture perfect

The Spring real estate market is well and truly underway and these houses in Lower Plenty have both caught my eye.  One is a grand old dame and a bit of a classic at 53 – 55 Rosehill Road while the other one at 37 Panorama Avenue has been modernised and styled by someone with a great eye.  Lower Plenty is a bit of a hidden secret in Banyule – country meets city and if you’re someone who likes being surrounded by a sea of green, then it may be the place for you.  As much as I like it, it’s not close to public transport or shops but I suspect that’s the reason many people do like it – for its relative remoteness, privacy and seclusion on big blocks of land.

37 Panorama Avenue Lower Plenty image via Jellis Craig

It’s been a long week for me organising and promoting both my Rudd on the PM Years book launch next Wednesday night at The Sofitel and the Bold Thinking Series Is democracy broken? event next Thursday night at the State Library Theatrette.  You’re about to see a whole lot of mainstream publicity for the Rudd event but I suspect it’s had an impact on my other event the following night.  An ex-Prime Minister is a hard act to follow!  Either way, I’m looking forward to both events for different reasons.

Image via Boogie Nights Dance

I’ve got a number of people I know getting married before the end of the year and sadly, weddings are now the only events I have where there is dancing!  While my clubbing days may be behind me (’90s house music still rocks), Boogie Nights Dance adult dance classes in Carlton has caught my eye – what a fabulous excuse to go out and get on down for those of us no longer in our late teens and early twenties.  Nothing like tearing it up on the dance floor…have a great weekend.