22 November 2014

A long week (and missed deadlines (again)

Spectacular view from Allens, Level 28 Deutsches Bank Place, Phillip Street, Sydney
A huge week - and am completely behind in my deadlines (AGAIN!).  Though, it was all in a good (and inspirational) cause.

On Sunday I headed to Sydney for a three days of meetings. One of the highlights of course, was braving the Sydney roads and heading out to Maitland two and a half hours north (and a bit west-ish). There I finally met Debbie Barwick, one of the true pioneers of Indigenous Business. Debbie runs the Mandurah-Hunter Indigenous Chamber of Commerce as well as the New South Wales Chamber of Commerce. Debbie and I had an chance to talk about how chambers, compare similarities and note differences. We also had a chance to talk about the National Network of Indigenous Business Networks and Chambers of Commerce.

By Thursday I was home again, heading straight to the SEQICC Indigenous Business Networking event at Nomad's Palace at Eat Street Markets. It wasn't as well attended as I'd hoped it would be, but in the end I had some great conversations and met a few new faces. The SEQICC has been operating for nearly ten years, but growing and developing a strong and Indigenous business networking organisations, is a long road. It requires that we continuously be open to new ideas, new approaches and new ways of servicing our community.

There is a momentum building in Indigenous business right now. I'm really looking forward to being part of it.

Of course, my long week has meant that I've missed a bunch of deadlines (again). Onward and upward. 

11 November 2014

Things (quotes) that make you go hmmm .. a Brisbane G20 quote that will make your eye twitch.

One thing you notice consistently about Australians is they will not tolerate injustice and there's nothing more unifying than when somebody gets the rough end of the stick.

Quote is by police negotiator Tony Clark, in an article by Kathy McLeish, on the ABC News tonight.

I can say nothing more, except 'Excuse me? Did you just hear what you said?" Read more for yourself 

Small business - stop chasing followers

Despite being a decade old, there are still many in business new to "social media" as a marketing tool.

Wearing my Indigenous Small Business Supporter hat, I still see many small business people (especially when they're starting out) posting things like,
"only 40 more likes to 500"
 "wow! We've got 1000 followers now"
"help us get to 300 followers and we'll give something away".

I get it. It looks good if your page has a good number of followers. It tells visitors that other people think your product must be good, and it can serve to validate your hard work. 

But it's really important, that in the race to reach a number ending in '00, or '000, or even '0,000, you don't forget what it is, or should be about. 

It's not about the numbers, it's about the engagement. Having 10,000 followers is easy if you have enough money. But 10,000 followers who don't care about your product are worth less than 10 followed who love your content.

Spend less time worry about getting new followers, and more time serving the ones you have - with great content and a worthy product.

10,000 likes is great, but if no one buys your stuff, they're just a waste of your precious time. 


04 November 2014

Amex's Shop Small Campaign is all Jab



Last night while watching catch up (yes. I'm guilty of not hating on Ten's Party Tricks. I quite enjoy it), this add appeared throughout the program. It's a good little ad - good sentiment, well made, and released at the right time (in the lead up to Christmas)

However, I'm bewildered as to why American Express would run a support-small-business-this-Christmas campaign. While it's an excellent sentiment, very few small businesses take American Express due to their high merchant fees (it costs businesses more to take a payment using an Amex card than other cards).

But perhaps the intention here is to create meaningful content that supports the needs of the market/audience it wants to have. Through this campaign American Express is becoming an advocate and champion of Australian small business. And rather than focus on the purchaser (as in Visa's Priceless pitch), it's choosing to focus on businesses who are still reluctant to accept Amex cards. If you can convince stores to accept Amex, buyers will not be as reluctant to use them.

The Shop Small campaign looks like its working to create goodwill before going for the sales pitch somewhere down the track. If you're a Gary Vaynerchuck follower, this is clearly a jab (and a very good one), before the right hook.

Looking forward to seeing where this one goes.

An introduction to Gary Vaynerchuck if you're unfamiliar with his work: http://vimeo.com/89621314

Innocent Victim

Authorities today told the waiting crowd that the missing victim of the Sunday Nanna Nap incident  had been found after being missing for two days.

The victim was directly airlifted to a waiting team of health professionals. It is reported she is stable but still in a critical condition. More updates as news arrives. 


* I fell asleep on my glasses, then couldn't find them. Wearing my back-ups. Good for distance, but not great for reading. :-( 

28 October 2014

Less than 24 hours in Cairns, we descend.

We had a brief getaway in Cairns and Innisfail last weekend for a family function. Turns out we were in Cairns for less than 24 hours, but it was worth it regardless, as we had a quick catch up with family.

Here is some footage I shot as we were landing. It's a little shaky but I love how you can watch the shadow as we descend.

 

23 October 2014

Miss Dhu and the fight to end Black Deaths in Custody


I'm on the bus on the way home from the National Day of Action for Miss Dhu, a young women who died while in police custody a few months ago, and my mind is a haze.

Miss Dhu ended up being part of the criminal justice system because of $1000 in unpaid fines. Two days later she was dead. Her death represents a sickness in our society, and in the systems we have created. Systems that do not see Aboriginal people has being human. Systems that abrogate responsibility when someone dies. Brother Ricky Pascoe today said
"the system is the prison, not just the room with bars".
How true is this statement? We are all part of a much broader system, and any "choice" we have is qualified and limited. Some of us are better placed than others to navigate the world, and this privilege means that it can be hard to see what life is like for those who live outside it.

But there are too many rules, often unspoken, or even at times ever-changing. So many rules that if you're not equipped you will more than likely fail. The criminal justice system for too many, is the end of the line. Sister Debbie Kilroy said today
'Miss Dhu's death reminds us that the system sees Aboriginal women's lives as disposable". 
Too many Aboriginal women and men end up in jail. What impact does this have on our community's greater well-being? How can we allow a generation of women and men to be lost to incarceration?

As a mum, I cannot imagine how Miss Dhu's mother and family must be feeling today. It may be some small consolation to them that people from all over Australia are thinking of their daughter. But their grief is unimaginable to me. As we stood there this morning, one sister requested that Archie Roach's song,  Child play. We bowed our heads as this beautiful, sorrowful yet hauntingly appropriate hymn was played.  So many, too many souls now gone. Few stood there today without tears and breaking in their hearts.



The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was a comprehensive investigation and clear direction forward into matters of black deaths in custody. I remember how excited we were when the report was published, followed by anger when, over the proceeding decade, it became clear that few of the report's recommendations had been or would be implemented.

The ongoing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system is a matter of national importance. Yet it receives scant public interest, and apparently even less policy interest. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be killed while in police custody than by the so-called menace of terrorism. Yet where are the advertising campaigns and press interest? If you're not seen as human, your deaths and your sorrow are not as important as others.

I have a (slight) hope that Miss Dhu's unnecessary and senseless death puts a spotlight on Australia, and leads to change. We must continue to talk about the this issue, to keep it in the national spotlight, whether it be through the streets, or in other ways, like art, movies, literature, academic writing, classroom activities. We must continue to keep talking, for to stop means we no longer exist.

My thoughts are prayers are with Miss Dhu's family, and many other families around the continent, whose loved ones were taken from them too early.


21 October 2014

Vale Gough Whitlam


Spent the morning glued to ABC 24 News. What a man and what a legacy.

20 October 2014

Opening Speech for Shannon Brett's I didn't get to cry til now.

Shannon Brett's I Didn't Get To Cry Til Now Indigenous Art Exhibition

I was honoured in 2012, to be invited to open Shannon Brett's I Didn't Get To Cry Til Now exhibition at the Tanks, in Cairns.

To start I would like first to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Yidinji people, and acknowledge their ongoing sovereignty of the land and sea. I would also like to acknowlege the people here today. I’m from down south, from Brisbane. I’ve known Shannon for a few years now from when she was a student at Queensland College of Art doing the Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art. And I’m very humbled to be here to speak about the exhibition and to introduce Shannon’s work to you all.

It’s been a long time since I was a teenager and my early twenties were literally twenty years ago. And in reading this body of work, I’m conscious that it’s primary audience is not me, but my young daughter, my nieces and other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in this community and in communities around the country.

You see, despite the fact that women have come yes indeed come along way, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women (and men) have come along way, there is still so much work to be done.

As a parent, I worry about the messages that my daughter is consistently being sent. The dichotomous messages about how to behave, what to expect. If we look at images of young women online - so much of it is about exhibitionism for a known or unknown audience, it’s all accentuated cleavages and pouty fish lips. On television, there are consistent messages that if you’re not skinny you don’t deserve nor will you find love. High profile journalists and media sources tell our young people that on the one hand, they’re being raised in the most dysfunctional families in the country, and yet on the other, if they get too much of an education they could end up not being authentic enough to live and work within their own communities.

I also worry for my three teenage sons, what messages are being sent to them about how women behave,  about what women expect, and about how women wish to be treated. There are so many messages - both racist and sexist - that seem only designed to keep young people confused and mentally battered.

bell hooks has labelled this type of representation as being part of the project of White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy. That, is that “the interlocking systems of domination - of race, sexism, misogyny, homophobia - that define our reality”

Patricia Grace, a Maori writer has argued that books (and the media) can be dangerous to young Indigenous people, as they do not reinforce our values, actions, customs, culture and identity, 
  • when they tell us only about others they are saying we don’t exist; (how many young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women appear regularly in as three dimensional characters across Australian media?)

  • they may be writing about us but are writing things which are untrue; (how regularly do media outlets across the country create and re-create racist narratives about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)

  • when they are writing about us but saying negative and insensitive things which tell us we are no good; (The Australian newspaper anyone?)
 
To me Shannon’s exhibition, I Didn't Get To Cry Till Now, is an attempt to speak back to the representation and stereotype Aboriginal woman. She demonstrates and makes explicit, that behind the stereotype, behind the narrative, there is a person, a human being. She brings forth the racialised and gendered self that is rendered Invisible by the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchial project that is colonised Australia.

Mary Graham, a Kombamerri Elder and philosopher has talked in her work about the reflective and questing Aboriginal mind. One that is in tune with community and that seeks to understand ourselves and maintain relationships with others. The questing mind, to be on a quest, a challenge, to question, to think critically. This resonates with me, when I see Shannon’s work. Her work is about her, and about the women and men in her life.

Shannon isn’t the only one, she’s not the first. Others have gone before her - Destiny Deacon, Fiona Foley, and Dianne Jones, and many others. Shannon continues their legacy as story tellers who speak back to power, who represent their own families and communities, who gives voice to those who are rendered voiceless in the ongoing colonisation of this land.

I’ve known a few artists at the start of their careers and watched as they’ve gone from being emerging to established artists. That journey can take over a decade. But I have no doubt, that Shannon with the support of her family and community, will continue to grow from strength to strength. Ladies and Gentleman, I would like to introduce to you Ms Shannon Brett …

Thankyou.

18 October 2014

Indigenous Business Networking - Friday Coffee Morning

indigenous business networking - friday coffee morning

It has to be said up front that I loathe early mornings, and I don't drink coffee. I had one cup of coffee once ... actually it was a few sips of a cup that someone made for me. So let's get that square straight up ...

Despite loathing both these things (early starts + coffee), this morning I hosted the first Indigenous Business Networking - Friday Coffee Morning for the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. I say the "first", because I'm hoping that there will be many more.

Look, the thing is, I fu3king love being in business, despite how haphazard my business practices might be. I love the thought of going out and hustling for the next gig. The reality is, this is much more exciting that pulling a fortnightly wage (probably a hugely unfair description of employment .. but there you go ... ). (sorry kids)

I also love the idea of Blackfella businesses finally, after EVERYTHING, of making it, and smashing the competition. This may not be my business, but I can see a few out there who are doing just that (I'm thinking of Gilimbaa and Carbon Media here).

I've written a post on the SEQICC site, that explains what the event is, and how I'm involved.  In this post I invoke Working Girl. If you know, you'd get the reference straight up. 

It's 12am, and with that, goodnight.

Cheers, Leesa

Ps. I hate the smell of coffee. Give me straight black tea any day. 

08 October 2014

Exacting revenge on shoddy journalism

Yesterday's shocking and disrespectful Courier Mail front page made me wonder if some "journalists" and their editors would benefit from a dose of their own medicine. 

Someone should create a publication that specialised in delving into the personal lives of shoddy journalists, those journos who have gone that step too far. 

I wonder if they might amend their practice, if we splashed their unmasked image across the paper (and remember, it's an image that is in every newsagent, supermarket, Facebook feed and Twitter stream across the region/state/country). I wonder if they would rethink the questions they ask and the stories they wrote, if the world were suddenly let into their worlds, their relationship status, their unique and perhaps odd habits. 

When I see and read stories that have gone too far, all I can think about is what if the shoe were on the other foot?

29 September 2014

Learning to write for others

In early September I was approached to do some writing for a Murri business - two posts per week for two months. I replied that I'd never done that kind of work, but I'd be happy to give it a go. Last night (Sunday night) I posted off drafts of the next two articles at around 2.30am.

I'm pretty much half-way through the job, and I thought I'd write a quick reflection.

I have a loose-ish deadline of each Monday (as the posts get proofed, edited, and approved, then emailed to the web administrators), so I form the ideas during the week, often writing on the weekend and sending off on Sunday night/Monday. The client is Murri, and we personally lead similar lives. I'm also free to write about issues that Mob experience, and face.  Some of the content I write for the client, could easily be written here and wouldn't look out of place.

I think writing for this client isn't as hard as it could be, but bloody hell it's hard work.

Reflection so far:

  1. The posts are almost ALWAYS on my mind. Every part of my life and reading goes to forming possible ideas. The client has given me a list of keywords and possible topic ideas, but producing two posts per week means that I'm looking for a variety of concepts - or new ways to say something similar. So if you see me during the week and I'm kinda looking a bit vague, it's because I have a deadline. 
  2. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, reading, clicking, browsing. On the outside, it looks like I'm being completely unproductive, but all of that information I consume, goes into forming posts for the client or even for my own websites. I've also decided to head to offline - Murri novels as well as newspapers and magazines, to get inspiration. 
  3. The other thing I've found is that while I tend to think about the post for about five to seven days, playing with possible "hooks" or approaches to the post, the actual execution of the piece is around an hour or so, sometimes shorter. I've learned to trust that it will come. At midnight last night I still didn't have it, but by 2.30am, I'd written the two posts and sent them off. I suspect I get a little high out of not knowing if I'm going to find the hook for a post in time. Clearly I love living life on the edge.

One thing I do have to get better at is keeping notes. I'm so bad. I have an Evernote account, and it's a complete mess right now. There's no order or structure to it. I'd like to get to the point where I can create a file of quotes or passages that either inspire or can be used down the track.

It's an interesting experience - writing for others. I've done it only a few times (Brisbane City Council, State Library of Qld), and only as one offs. I also feel like I'm not as effective as I could be as a writer because I have had no training in writing. My only training is my Bachelor of Commerce and my incomplete Masters degree. It's all just trial and error - writing emails, and posts. I have given thought to doing a Grad Dip in Communications or something similar, as a professional development activity. Basically, I have no idea if I'm any good, but people keep giving me work, so perhaps I'm not as bad as I'm programmed to think I am (yes, that old self-esteem bug again!). I'm a thousand miles from even thinking about calling myself a writer.

I do wonder if it could become a full-time gig. I'd be concerned that I just wouldn't be able to pump out enough interesting, coherent, or original words each day. More to ponder.

Anyway .... onward, upward, and over ....

27 September 2014

River Fire 2014



Perhaps it's because we live on a hill. Perhaps it's because we all live in walking distance to each other. 
Perhaps it's because Brisbane in September is beautiful. 
Perhaps it's because we are just looking for any excuse to have "fancy" cheese and a spot of beverage. 

It may be some, all, or none of the above  reason/s that RiverFire is a thing in our house. 

Usually what happens is the kids (now teen/adults) fire up the pit (a collection of old pavers in a circle) in mum's yard (she lives on the highest hill) and roast marshmallows, I purchase a beverage or two, and consume ridiculous amounts or cheese or chocolate. We take our chairs and manage to find a vantage point, usually on the footpath (along with many other residents of our suburb) taking our radio with us so we can enjoy the distant pyrotechnic display in simulcast with a local radio station. 

This year however, courtesy of the cashed up neighbours who paid for another neighbours' trees to be "trimmed" this week, we sat beside the back shed, with our view only slightly encumbered by foliage. 

In past years we have marvelled at the dump and burn of the F1-11s, but now that they are retired, we have only a few other fighters and the fireworks. 

I think I inhabit the sphere of people who scoff at such displays of firepower, with Riverfire being seen as a eco-unfriendly, resource-wasting, superficial, 15 minutes of fame.

I know I too should scoff but I can't. 

Perhaps it's because of the anticipation.
Perhaps it's because it marks the end of the Brisbane Festival.
Perhaps it's because the weather is wonderous. 
Perhaps it's because of the ACDC/Phil Collins soundtrack.
Perhaps it's because I like to have a drink.
Perhaps it's because I enjoy having my family around me, and love that others in my neighbourhood also use Riverfire as an excuse to fire up their BBQs and get together with their peeps. 

It may be some, all, or none of these reasons. Whatever it is, I hope Riverfire continues well in to the future. 



23 September 2014

An Aboriginal perspective on protest violence

Today (25th September 2014) Aboriginal artist Richard Bell posted this:
Aboriginal people have practiced peaceful resistance since, at the latest, the mid 1930s. Vincent Lingiari led a strike by Aboriginal stockmen at Wattie Creek that lasted for eight years - easily the longest worker's strike in Australian history, perhaps the longest in the World. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was a brilliant and powerful use of symbolism. Those events were peaceful protests. All our recent struggles have been peaceful, yet were faced with violence. We have persisted with peaceful, dignified and creative protest along the way.

It's interesting that anyone else in this country would think it is okay for them to choose violence when we, the original owners of this land, don't.
While we need to be mindful of not participating in and thus contributing to the current media hysteria around the increased national security levels and terrorist threats, (and Richard is mindful of this), I think Richard's statement is pertinent to anyone who believes that intentionally violent protests (including acts of terror) would be acceptable.

This is first and foremost Aboriginal land. And that should not be forgotten.

30 August 2014

What do you think of my Widget?

A few years ago I created an aStore, which is an Amazon Store. I must have had it linked to the old Critical Classroom site, but had long since forgotten about it. I was listening to a podcast this week, and finally remembered that I had an account, and thought I'd add it back in.

Anyway, I'd created categories, each with their own list of texts. I've read or own the majority of books in the store. They're awesome. Tonight, I've added in a few more texts, created another widget, and added one to here, as well as at the Critical Classroom.

I have no idea where I should put it. So for tonight I'll leave it where it is.


29 August 2014

Sometimes late at night, I have to listen until they pass ...

We kinda live beside / under a street.

The ground at the side of the house is at a 75 degree angle. And the street is just beside that. If you were going too fast and/or lost control of your car, you could easily jump the curb, and smash into our house.

Sometimes, late at night, when the cars and trucks are loudest, I listen until they pass. Until it's safe.

I'm happy the kids are sleeping on the other side of the house.

==

Sometimes I also watch planes until they're safely on their way.

26 August 2014

Altering landscapes in the suburbs



Late last week, we woke to the felling of trees less than 100 metres away. I'm not sure the image really shows how much has been lost. I suppose it's not on an Amazon scale, but in our little suburb, in North-West Brisbane, not far from the CBD, it feels enormous. 

Over the past few years, Everton Park has become a-buzz with the progress termites intent on a sub-dividing one house allotments, and turning them into two house spaces. In the early days, it shocked me. How could they? There's no yard? What about the kids?

Over time though, with my eyes open to how others' live, I have begun to relax my standards. Everytime I went to Sydney, I noticed that inner-suburb yards are rarely as big as ours in Brisbane, that it's normal for there to only be a metre between dwellings. Perhaps it's not so bad after all. We all know that urban sprawl isn't great. We should suck it up, reduce our allotments and let more folks in. On one level I totally agree with that sentiment. 

It's the initial shock that is the worst. Each day as I drive past the above scene, I'm reminded of what's not there. The skyline is different. It's naked. It's bare. It makes me jolt, or "start". Having lived here for forty-odd years, skylines tend to grow with you. When it's suddenly altered, it's not real. 

I'm betting that the bulk of the construction will be done by Christmas. They move lightening fast around here. So the new skyline will soon be formed. This time next year, we will have moved on and forgotten. 

It's when the scars are fresh, that we feel it most. Walk past and you can smell the fallen trees. But the scars will heal, and our suburb will take on its new shape. And only us oldies will remember when ...

==

There is another side to this story. The little building on the left is the old scout hut, and the trees in front of the hut were not part of the development. However the Brisbane City Council refused to listen to local people who requested that the trees be retained. The bush land was home to many birds and possums all of whom would no doubt be "feeling it" this week. 

25 August 2014

To Sydney and back again, and the John Fries Award 2014


Feeling naked in Row 1 on this Jetsar A320. 

Clearly I made it, to Sydney and back again. Despite my hesitation at booking, I grabbed a flight a few hours before it departed. Once again an excellent visit. 

I headed along to the John Fries Art Award event at COFA UNSW Galleries. I knew a few of the entrants in award. Sadly none of those won. The award was given to Bridie Lunny for a sculptural-performance work This Endless Becoming

The award reaffirmed my knowledge about my lack of knowledge about contemporary Australian art. I get contemporary Australian art created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. But the rest? I need to do a lot more work on that!

Congratulations to Bridie Lunny. 

See you in September Sydney.

08 August 2014

Why I have trouble booking flights more than a few days ahead



I have real problems booking flights too far in advance. If you know me in real life, you already know that I leave it to the last possible minute. Even overseas trips! Anyone would think we were cashed up! Most of the time, short-notice flights cost way more than those booked in advance. But I can't do it, I always end up leaving it to the absolute last minute possible (a stress-filled mix of price, availability & timing).

I know it's because of the kids. Yes they're teens now, but I still have this sense of needing to be here for them. Not so much the eldest boy, who is almost living on his own now and is wonderfully independent. But the youngest three, who are still in high school, I still feel the need to be here as much as possible.

I usually finish my work day around 3.30 / 4.00pm, even though that usually means I will work through the evening or on weekends to catch up. It's also why my career has been more eclectic (lots of casual/ part-time, and sessional work rather than full-time) than focused on one clear path (though that's really a tale for another post). And it's also why I prefer working in the suburbs where I can get home or to school within ten minutes or so, rather than being in the city where peak hour traffic can be a nightmare. Four years ago, travelling over an hour through peak hour traffic from Southbank to the high school when my eldest was hit by a car was truly the last straw and a defining moment in where I would work in the future.

Late last year though I took on a Directorship with a national body with the meetings occurring monthly (or so) in Sydney. I only took on the role, after much thinking about the role (the invaluable experience and the importance of the issue) and my family stuff, and what it would mean in reality. In addition, I've also significantly increased my work commitments this year, that sometimes take me out of Brisbane, for example, taking on the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair last month. It's been a huge leap for me personally to do this. I know that other parents manage being away from their kids much more effectively than me. And it sure as hell says nothing about the quality of mine or their parenting. Just being here does NOT make me a better parent. But it's just something that I need to do. I can't explain why. If I ever bothered to go to a counsellor I might unpack why I am this way, and it would be interesting to find out. One day maybe.

But of course, apart from the "mental/emotional" need to be close to the kids, there's also the practical. Over almost twenty years of being a parent, one thing is for sure, you're never guaranteed what the next day or for that matter, the next hour will bring. How many days have we got up in the morning thinking the day will look like x, and before you know it, the day is spent in a doctor's surgery or at the Royal Children's Hospital? We've had our fair share of third degree burns, broken arms, broken legs, stitches, infections, etc, so it means you're never sure what's going to happen. Imagine being in another city when that happens? That would just kill me.

Take this week for example, I'm supposed to be in Sydney on Tuesday for a Board Meeting. And the staff are doing the right thing and are trying to book my flights, but poor things, I just can't yet commit, because I need to wait to see how M is after his unexpected surgery this week. He'll be fine of course, they always are, but I can't leave. Just not yet. I want to be in Sydney on Monday, and will probably wake up Monday morning and book my flight then.

When you're part of a family (not just a parent), you never know when you'll be called away from work and when your best laid plans end up on the roundabout instead.

07 August 2014

Thank you again Queensland Health (and our public health system)

Leaving your child unconscious on the surgery table, even for the most routine operation, is surely a test of anyone parent's metal. Dressed in my blue slippers, blue surgery "hat" and white gown, my baby boy held my hand as the anaesthetist found the vein and eventually put him to sleep. "Unconscious" is different to "sleep". You know how kids, even the overgrown ones in their teens, look peaceful when they're asleep? Well unconscious is very different to that. It's a little disturbing.

I'm so grateful to the staff of the Royal Children's Hospital today. Within a couple of phonecalls on Tuesday, a Category 3 (procedure to take place within 365 days) due in October, was bought forward, first to September, and then to today. I'd mentioned how his leg was hurting and the staff were wonderful jumping the appointment forward. 

I've written in the past about this {link to follow when I'm on a desktop}, and I guess this is part 2 of that story. 

It's so easy to judge Queensland Health - they're an enormous bureaucracy, a system. And sure they have their faults. But I wanted to write a post that acknowledged the wonderful staff we've met. Today it was the committed, though wonderfully frazzled guy at Admissions. So many in this surgical clinic to get through, and yet he and his colleague got through all of us - taking time to explain things and then arrange volunteers to guide us to Day Procedure Clinic. There were the surgical team, each made us feel like we could ask anything, taking time to explain what was going to happen. They even let me walk into theatre and stay with him til be fell asleep. And tonight, as a day procedure unexpectedly turned to an overnight stay, the ward nursing staff have been fantastic. 

Qld Health get the bad news stories all the time in the press. Sure systems break, but there are so many great professionals who do their work above and beyond, and in doing so, keep our loved ones healthy. 

This week Medicare turned 40 years old. I'm one Australian who is truly grateful for our public health system. My boy has received probably tens of thousands of dollars in heathcare, (hours of physio, surgery, nursing) and the most expensive part of it for me as been the carparking.

Don't take what we have for granted, as flawed as it maybe. We need to be careful, for it may disappear before we realise just how wonderful it was. 

06 August 2014

Getting on: changing hands



I'm 45 years old this year. I don't feel it. 

"I don't feel it" is what people say when they realise that 45 (or some other age) isn't what they thought it would be like. When they realise that the age they are isn't as old as they imagined it to be. It's surprising isn't it? 

When you're 18, 45 seems so old. But of course, once you get here, you realise it isn't. The face you see in the mirror looks the same, but it's only the face in that old pic from 1990, that is barely recognisable. 

I'm happy with being 45, everything is going well enough. Kids are grown/growing up. My hair is going grey, and I've decided to let it go that way. Other bits and pieces are droopie, but it doesn't bother me too much. All the standards stuff (sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol etc) is good, so I'm not on any regular medication.

There is one change though, that over the past few months that isn't great (the first of many?) …. It's my hands, specifically my fingers. They hurt. I bump them and I wince with pain. I can't click my fingers anymore and I'm having real trouble opening packaging. I can still type and text easily, but other normal movements, like when I wash and dry the dishes, make me want to scream. Quick and casual movements are increasingly painful. 

I went to the doctor about it in Feburary. She prescribed my some anti-inflammatories. She said that's the first step. If the anti-inflammatories don't work, then I have a form all ready for blood tests for arthritis. 

So today, 6 months after that first appointment, I finally headed to the chemist and picked up the medication (the waiting 6 months between the appointment and picking up medication was sad and stupid). 

When I got home, I joked to my mum "where's my medicine box?" (My parents have sooo much medication for various ailments). Is this my first? The first of many? 

Is this some kind of turning point? My mum says her Aunty Gracie (my Grandfather's sister) whenever she was asked how she was, she'd say "upta shit, takes a lotta strength ta get old". 

If old Aunty Gracie is right, it's certainly going to be an interesting second half. 

I thought I might write occasionally about "ageing" on Not Quite Cooked. When I initially Googled (yes, I google medical conditions) what was up with my hands, the results were shit.

I want to read about ageing and getting old, and what it's like from a human / personal perspective.

I'm sick of the gorgeous Hollywood Over-50 features. I'm so glad (not really) that Helen Mirren looks awesome in a bikini, but I don't connect with her. I want to read about and see real women who are working normal jobs and running small businesses, maybe raising kids and grand-kids, looking good (or not), but all "being" older.

Perhaps by writing about it, I'll find others in the same boat.

So I took my first Apo-Meloxicam today. I hope it works. I'll let you know how it goes. Have you used an anti-inflammatory? Have you noticed changes?

Watching real-world violence online

Last night I saw an incredibly disturbing video on Facebook. A friend had commented on the video that was on their stream, so it hadn't technically been shared by any of my Facebook friends, but simply appeared because of the comment.

The video was of a man beating (kicking repeatedly, punching, hair-pulling) what appeared to be a woman on the ground. Disturbingly, the video also had two young children in it, who appeared to be attempting to subdue and stop the man. The children were clearly distressed.

I initially started watching the video thanks to Facebook's instant video play, then it was a about another twenty or so seconds before I could work out what was happening, another twenty seconds shocked by the violence of what was happening, and probably another twenty seconds stunned that this could even be real. I didn't finish watching it. I was sitting with my 15 year old son who was also distressed by what he saw. 

I'm stuck with two thoughts:

Firstly, how long before the rest of my Facebook network begin sharing this video? Not everyone  (and this includes me too on occasion) of my Facebook friends applies common sense or filters before they share content. The high volume of ridiculous meme images and nutty conspiracy rubbish is testament to that. The ripped leotard image that is currently doing the rounds also reaffirms my lack of faith. What does it say about you/us, that you/we would share this video? It's important to note that the video was accompanied by non-English text, so for me, being only English speaking, there is literally no context for what is happening. How does the world benefit from people sharing this video? It's not funny, it's not ironic. It doesn't make you feel good. You can't even say it's a thoughtful video that makes you think because there is no text or contextual information. It's clearly NOT a PSA.

I'll admit I've shared some shitty stuff in the past, but this video is so incredibly violent, mesmerisingly so. 

Secondly, what impact does this video being online have on the people who were actually in the video? We don't know their names. I'm assuming it was a husband, wife and their two children. After watching the video you're left wondering if she survived? And if so, what physical and mental scars does she now carry? How old were the children when this happened and how are they faring now? How have they been impacted by {probably} their father's violence? How have they been impacted by their father's violence being recorded and then shared around the world?

Is the world a better place for this video? I think not.

Dragonista recently wrote of the horrific images from Gaza and other conflicts, that are consistently appearing in our streams. I have to agree with her position.
I agree the world should bear witness to the atrocities being inflicted on innocent children, women and men. I acknowledge that graphic images can help jolt the comfortable western world out of its complacency when it comes to such violence.
But in using such images we must as a society be mindful of the real harm that actual depictions of violence and death can also inflict on those of our own communities who are vulnerable and at risk. 
By all means draw attention to the inhumanity of war and other violence, but please retain your own humanity by protecting those who would be harmed by its depictions.
Surely, there is no good in the constant viewing of real world horror - whether it be still or moving image. 

05 August 2014

We saved the RDA

{Am posting this using my phone, so can't hyperlink. Will update later}

So, the PM announced today amongst a whole bunch of national security/anti-terror stuff, that the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, in particular Section 18C, will no longer proceed.

We are all very happy about this news. Many institutions, led by the wonderful National Congress, fought hard in defence of the proposal. It was great to see them lead the charge in developing partnerships with other cultural-ethnic-minority interest groups, to present a strong voice. Heartening to hear too, that there were a number of LNP who were willing to cross the floor on this. 

Apparently some are unhappy with the decision. Wow. It must be so hard being so powerful that a government attempts to alter the law just for you. {I will not link to them}

The biggest shoutout of course goes to the original deadly people who were willing to put their reputations, their privacy and anonymity, on the line in the original court case that, I believe, prompted the proposed changes. You mob are proper solid. 

Today we won a small victory in a big battle. Enjoy. 

On the Winter Lurgies

So around May and June I was strutting around the place, sickness free, with everyone around me, dropping with the cold and flu. When I say "strut", I mean, strut. I was arrogant and all "I told you so" with the kids. (Wear warm clothes, out shoes on, where's your scarf and beanie? etc, etc)

So a week out from CIAF, I fall, and fall hard - fever, cough etc. Somehow I come good enough to drive to Cairns, do the madness that was the exhibition, and drive home again. And now, a week later, I'm hit again - temps, vomiting, blocked nose, and praying for no sore throat. 

But what I wanted to reflect on, is how amazing the kids have been through my two bouts of sickness. They've,

- made me countless cups of tea (clearly trained to believe that tea fixes everything) 
- growled me for not wearing warm clothes
- growled me for looking at my phone when I should be asleep
- looked for cough lollies and panadol for  me
- dispensed lots of cuddles and tucking into bed
-offering me blankets and pillows

It's so lovely to see the concern and tenderness in them. I'm sick, but their caring has made the whole month a lot a better. 

On coming good

It's been a bit if a dark patch. I think I'm coming good, though having the winter lurgies isn't helping my state of mind. Thinking about and analysing (and probably over-analysing) the triggers, stressing about the avoided responsibilities, pretending nothing's wrong with smiles and "upbeat", are all part of a long time rhythm for me.

I'm grateful today for K, without her today, I would have simply been dressed for an exercise session, without actually doing ang exercise. And I'm grateful for M, as without her, I would have spent the day sitting on my bed, dressed in my exercise gear, and thinking about the work and exercise I should (and want to) do.

How do you keep a career going when dark patches frequent you? Haven't worked that one out yet. 

01 August 2014

On "Birth is no time for war stories"


Being pregnant is an intense time. In reality though, if it all goes well, it's only 9 or so months out of decades of succeeding years of child-rearing. On reading Tara Moss's 2012 post "Birth is no time for war stories" tonight, I was reminded of something that I had been meaning to reflect upon and write about for a while. And yes, as Tara says, this is probably my Big Truth, but I personally found the birth stories of other women wonderful - scary, hopefully, anxiety inducing and inspirational.

When I told people (and when I say "people" I mean women) around me that I was pregnant, 90% of the time they would give me their birth story experience. In the beginning it was interesting, by the second pregnancy I was probably a little over it, but by the third and fourth pregnancy, I realised that I was receiving a gift.

Many of the women, some in their 70s and 80s would tell me of their births, or offer their child-rearing advice. A lot of the advice was dated and irrelevant, and by modern standards, to be absolutely avoided. But I learned to see, and receive the stories, as gifts.

I marvelled at how an 80 year old women who has seen her own children grow up and go on to have their own kids, could so clearly recount her experiences of being pregnant and giving birth.

Being pregnant is incredible (yes, yes, my Big Truth). It's so difficult to capture the intensity of having that little creature inside of you for so long. I was laying in bed the other night and I was thinking that babies and toddlers are like little parasites (? not sure if this is the right word here) that latched on and remained latched til at least ten years old. I used to love how they could be busily playing in the same room as me, then when I would get up and move to another room, they would gradually, with little fuss or bother, follow me, and start playing again. Crazy little ducklings. I remembered how they all "owned" my breasts for years. My body was never my own during that period. I was food, comfort and the centre.

I for one am truly grateful for the stories - even the gory ones (and there were some!). I felt like I was joining a club - of old aunties. By listening to and acknowledging their stories respectfully, I hope I too gave them a gift - the opportunity to bring back old memories, reminisce, laugh and have a little cry.

I may be 45 years old and well past my reproductive years, but I still remember each of my four births like they were yesterday. I will always remember the sisterhood of stories, even from women who have now passed on, as part of that wonderful crazy period of my life.

27 July 2014

Loki. What's that?

Sister: What's that?
Me: Just Tumblr.
Me: *showing her the screen* Everytime I log into Tumblr a picture of Tom Hiddleston comes up. 
Sister: Who's that?
Me: *unbelieving* Loki
Sister: What's that? 
Me: *speechless*
Sister: *starts Googling* Well he's nothing special. Just the usual white boy. 

#lol 

That's what happens when you still have toddlers. 

24 July 2014

Look at the view out of my office window today

Today we're in Cairns working at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. We (Iscariot Media) are representing proppaNOW, and selling artwork and tshirts. It's a funny thing, thinking about where the business has come from over the past two decades. I would never have imagined myself speaking confidently about the artists and their works. It's easy with the proppaNOW group though,  as their work is clear in it's intention and I know their bodies of work so well. 

I'm looking forward to the next three days. It's a completely self-funded event, so fingers crossed, Cairns will love (and then buy) our shirts. 



17 July 2014

Dealing with the fallout

Dealing with the repercussions or fallout of a black dog period, sometimes makes coming out of it just as difficult as being in it. 

Tomorrow isn't always "just" another day. 

*repercussions may include, unanswered emails and phone-calls, avoided conversations, missed meetings, unpaid bills, unattended relationships. 


09 July 2014

NAIDOC and Blak History Month


July is crazy.

In addition to the Blog Carnival Deadly Bloggers is hosting, we worked last week at Teneriffe Markets for twelve hours, which I posted about on my Iscariot Media blog.

We are also launching Dark and Disturbing in two days at Musgrave Park. HOLY!!!!!

I'm also writing for Blak History Month and I haven't even started!!! (Sunday I promise) Follow it on Facebook or on Twitter to get your Great Moments in Blakistory Fact Sheets each day.

I also have a bunch of SEQICC duties, including meetings, social media-ing, and attending two corporate function.

I've done no exercise for the past two months and I'm beginning to feel it. Anita Heiss is currently training for a half-marathon, and she manages to do that and train. She's getting up before dark, in winter, in Sydney. Surely, I could find time to walk around the park once a day?? I wish I was addicted to exercise and movement. I love it when I do it, but when I stop, I'm completely stationary.

That's it. It's all I can afford right now. I have a report to finish before I get to bed, and tomorrow is bump-in for Musgrave, and a couple of meetings, and a corporate gig and art exhibition in the evening. *le sigh*

Come and say hello if you're going to Musgrave. I think we're in tent 106. See you there!!