Smelling the roses

The La Trobe University Distinguished Alumni Awards were held on Monday evening and it was a long day and night for me. They are an annual event which were held in the city at Metropolis Events at Southgate which offered glittering night-time views of Melbourne and it was spectacular to get there late afternoon where we could see Arbory Afloat on the Yarra opposite us.

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I got to mingle at the start of the evening talking to a number of high profile people I’d previously worked with when I managed the Bold Thinking Series including Virginia Trioli (who was one of the winners) and her partner Russell Skelton, Tony Walker, Geoff Walsh and Professor Jenny Graves AO plus a number of other leading academics and industry professionals with ties to La Trobe. Prior to the Awards, guests were also treated to a surprise performance by the Australian Ballet School – one of the University’s partners.

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Writer and academic Dr (now Professor) Clare Wright was MC with Chancellor John Brumby AO making presentations along with Vice-Chancellor John Dewar to the stellar lineup of winners, which included Young Achiever Awards to Melbourne AFLW player Daisy Pearce and surgical resident Dr Batool Albatat; rural women’s pioneer Alana Johnson, epidemiologist Dr John Hopper AM, SecondBite co-founder Simone Carson AM and ABC Melbourne Mornings host Virginia Trioli completing the field.

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My wider team and La Trobe staff were given the beautiful floral table decorations at the end of the night and so I have stopped to smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of life this week, knowing that lift itself is a gift.

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Speaking of flowers, the Bee Shed Launch Party is being held on Sunday at the Alphington Farmers Market and my friend and Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Director Ella Hinkley is involved with the Pollinator Alliance while tomorrow the Rosanna Primary Old School Fair, the Paella Sangria Churros night (fun!) at The Pioneer Cafe, the annual Watsonia craft fair and the Melbourne Ceramics Market in Collingwood (which local ceramic artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen is part of) are all on – it’s a big day.

If the weather holds, the Malahang Festival is also on this Sunday in Heidelberg West as well as the Public Run Day at the Box Hill Miniature Railway. Strange to think our Spring weather has been so mild this year and my thoughts have been with our NSW neighbours up north battling those horrific bushfires this week. Stay cool…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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Image via Baiia Swimwear

The F-word

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Image via Bold Thinking Series

Feminism that is.  Details are now online for Embracing the F-word: has feminism had its day? being held on 20 September featuring La Trobe academics – genetic scientist Professor Jenny Graves AO, a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow who has had a long and distinguished career including winning the Prime Minister’s Award for Science in 2017 and Dr Beatrice Alba, an evolutionary psychologist.  They’ll be joined by musician, actor and broadcaster Clare Bowditch and young feminist writer and editor Bri Lee, who recently released her memoir called Eggshell Skull.  It’s a pretty powerful panel and I’ve already spoken to all the panelists who have much to draw from and contribute to what will be a very timely conversation.

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L-R: Dr Sara James, Natalie O’Brien, Francis Leach, Melissa Browne and David de Garis

I had my Smashed avo: is there a war on youth? lecture last night (pic above) at the State Library and it was a fantastic night with another very strong panel all with different perspectives and professional backgrounds which made for a very diverse discussion on the sociological, economic, business, technological and political intersection that we are now at.  My biggest take outs were that Gen X and Y women need to become more financially literate, Millenials have superannuation (if not housing) and opt in on issues online that interest them rather than swear allegiance to a particular political party or union (and that this generation needs to move from the activist space to policy in order to enact some of the change they want to see happen), Gen X have been largely silent because they are in the middle of juggling careers and family and not all Baby Boomers are out there spending their kids’ inheritance.  Some more creative solutions put forward included more social and co-housing as well as simplifying tax concessions, offering more incentives to downsizers and finance to those on short-term contracts, increasing Newstart and abolishing payroll tax.  I finished my night having a late dinner at Cookie with an ex-work friend and feeling a bit weary today.

It’s been an interesting week in politics given we now have a new Prime Minister and I do despair that young people are becoming more disillusioned and disenfranchised by the shenanigans of both major political parties in Australia.  Perhaps some more bold thinking (and action) required there…