Future of Work 2017

For the fourth year in a row, I attended the Future of Work conference, hosted by the Centre for Workplace Leadership. This year was very different, smaller scale, one day and on the University of Melbourne Campus. Last year it was at the picturesque Fed Square, and the two years previous, at the Melbourne Convention Centre, also known as Jeff’s Shed.

The funding for the first three years had come from the federal government as well as generous sponsors. This year, no federal funding, and limited sponsorship. Despite the different funding arrangement, it was a worthwhile experience and I was really glad I went.

A much greater focus on gender and diversity this year than in previous years, less about technology and disruptive innovation. I had several people say hello to me from seeing my tweets about the sessions and presenter quotes. My most active time on Twitter tends to be at conferences like this, and specifically this conference, over the last four years.

I had a few conversations with newbies, volunteers, staff and previous attendees. I also had a good chat with the previous director of the Centre for Workplace leadership, about his extended sabbatical, health and upcoming projects. In the past the events had become like family, this year with so many of the former crew not present, it was a different feel. At times I noticed myself feeling like it was a bit of talkfest, stuff we’d covered previously and not progressed, notably education and HR practices.

One session stood out, the YLAB crew talking about intergenerational workforces. Really walking the talk about how they engage young people and how they bring older and younger workers together. It was certainly the most interactive and interesting session. The final session with Michelle Ryan was also a highlight, debunking the myths about why women don’t get to the top or into leadership positions. Her research really looked beneath the assumptions and the ‘fix women’ approach. She also agreed to a podcast interview which is pretty exciting.

At the end I also got into a great conversation with a woman from BHP who was on the final panel and a guy who had recently taken over from a prominent career transition company, I had seen him approach speakers and felt suss but then when I actually spoke to him and heard that the first thing they check in on with a new client is wellbeing, that impressed me.

So much more to share and that will come, I wrote in my notebook, provided at registration, (yes, so analogue!) on each of the learnings from the sessions, and will share more as the concepts percolate.


This is post 28 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Stage Performance

What does a 5 year old’s dance performance and public speaking have to do with eachother? Having attended the dance performance yesterday, something the instructor said made an impression. She said something about developing the confidence of the students.

This brought to mind the participants of the program I ran for CMY last year. Many of them had never done any public speaking so when it came time to pitch their business on stage at a performance hall, many of them freaked out. Even though we arranged for them to come and try the stage out for a mini-practice run before the big night, there were a lot of nerves. Making sure walking up on stage to pitch wasn’t their first experience of the lectern wasn’t enough to calm them.

But if you can imagine your first experience of being on stage at 5 years old and having regular exposure to this kind of thing at a young age, you might not be so nervous at the graduation of your entrepreneur program when you join your fellow classmates to pitch your business.

It made me think how lucky Lily is to have the chance to dance her heart out with a big group of girls her age and older, to test out her stage legs. Food for thought.


This is post 27 in 45 posts for 45 years.

MYAN Conference

I was at the MYAN conference today, that’s the Multicultural Youth Australia Network which is the national body of the organisation I work for, CMY, the Centre for Multicultural Youth.
I was asked to help with the world cafe being run by master facilitator and sector development lead for CMY, Linette Harriot.

There were close to 70 people in the room and we had over a dozen tables of young people, youth workers, education and employment professionals. The topic was education to employment. We had a handful of panellists sharing their experiences before we turned to the group and got them to discuss the issue of what it takes for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to successfully transition from education to employment.

The discussion was lively and the buzz in the room was exciting to be around. We had very astute and proactive volunteers helping out as well. One noted a table that was having discussion that was really going beyond surface ideas.

One of the stand out comments for me was a representative from an innovative and highly successful employment service that noted the important difference between education being outcome focused, you do the work, you get an outcome, to employment which is probability focused, you can apply for a job it’s not a given that you’ll get it. And they’re likely to face additional barriers with both unconscious bias and overt racism.


This is post 26 in 45 posts for 45 years.

Water body

Twice today my body was immersed in water. First for an hour in the floatation tank, 800lbs of salt in a big beautiful pod were your body is buoyant, held, floating fully relaxed.

The second time I was doing laps at the pool with my partner. Third week in a row. Water bourne exercise. Almost the opposite of the chilled out nature of the float.

Another encounter with water today was the counselling session I had, first time with a new therapist, first time in a few years since I last sat in the chair. Her approach brings in a bit more somatic work and body wisdom which I’m looking forward to but also a bit freaked out by and named. She was great, I talked about how my awkward self might struggle a bit, but cognitively I know it’s a good thing, just might take a bit to get the rest of me there.

I did manage to dive deep enough into the pain and water came out of my eyes. There’s been so much that’s happened this year, and I’ve been really good at putting my pain aside and getting on with it. My body wasn’t so cool with that, after three weeks of illness, insomnia was the next thing to alert me to the need to do some serious self-care. So floating, swimming and therapy are all part of that plan. I’m getting started and it feels good.


This blog post is 25 in 45 posts for 45 years.

Unnamed Emotions

Yesterday I was driving along Bell St to Fairfield. I saw a group of people with a banner and a painted wheely bin, a few people were holding signs and wearing t-shirts with the cause or statement written on them. I strained to see what it was about. I saw the words Manus and Mining. I think they were making a link between concessions made to get Adani mining in Australia, while we treat detainees in Manus in a subhuman way.

Image taken from media: Protesters from the Refugee Action Coalition hold placards during a demonstration outside the offices of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Sydney, Australia, April 29, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

I tooted my horn in support. I waved and did the ‘thumbs up’. A couple of them waved back. One person looked at me in disgust, anticipating that I wasn’t in support of their actions. Once he realised, I could see his face change, I was relieved to see he understood I was with him.

The interaction left me emotional. A sudden rush of emotion filled my body. I wanted to weep, instead of trying to understand it, and figure out if I was just proud or maybe feeling guilty for not joining them, I let my emotion be. As the second wave came a few moments later, I struggled to stay in what felt like a weird combination of pride and pain. I got curious about the wisdom it had to offer.

They were expressing their dissatisfaction about government actions by literally taking to the streets. Good on them! In response I felt the pain, I also felt proud of them. I felt the pain of all the people who are pissed off that our government is putting peoples lives in danger and letting dubious companies come extract minerals from our land. It’s infuriating. And as I gave myself permission yesterday, I felt the feeling. I felt the pride and pain in the same emotion.

Our language for emotions is pretty limited, and to describe the feeling isn’t an easy one. But it feels important to try. It feels important to name it however awkwardly, and imperfectly. Have you ever experienced that? Where you struggle to name what you felt? I’m curious if it’s similar or different to my experience.


This post is 24 in 45 posts for 45 years.


Last night my partner and I went to see Nanette, Hannah Gadsby’s comedy swan song. It was the best performance I’ve seen in a long time. Such a powerful message, and exquisitely powerful vulnerability. I have so much admiration for the way she used the power of her voice, how she made us laugh before she made us cry. She moved us from appreciating her being heartbreakingly funny to getting what the heartbreak was about. And it’s not just a personal story, it’s a story for all of us. 

Hannah did a brilliant job of making us laugh, and helping us understand what laughing at a joke was about, breaking the tension. She took us with her as she described why she wasn’t going to do comedy anymore. She made a very compelling case for it and had us all supporting her choice by the end of the show.

Through the narrative of Nanette, she illuminated the path to her choice to retire from comedy. She showed us the deeper layers of pain and how it was really unhealthy for her. She shared the rest of the story, after the funny bits, about how badly she was treated, how she was viciously beaten and no one helped. She named the damage done through her lived experience of growing up when Tasmania was deciding if homosexuality should be legalised. She described how internalised homophobia happens.

I can only imagine how others felt at the end of the show but I saw a lot of other queer looking women as well. It felt really validating, especially after the recent vote on same-sex marriage. It felt a little bit more ok to be who we are as a female couple walking out of the theatre at the end. Hannah’s people were there to hear her, believe her and have their story told through her. She speaks on our behalf.

I felt for the woman at the end of our row, weeping, the woman sitting next to her, presumably a close friend or relative, with her arm around her, consoling her. I wanted to give her space, to wait before we walked past her. I wanted to share our collective pain, but it didn’t seem the space for it.

Despite the sadness and tension I was left with, it gave me hope for people everywhere being able to stand up and be heard, be believed. It gave me hope that these sorts of stories can help us take collective responsibility for making a change in our society. That we can heal together.

Hannah has several sold out shows and added a couple extra which means a lot of people will get the message. Thousands will be impacted by her story, her call to hold her story. It made me wonder about the ripple effect and what may come of this. Will more people stand up when they witness behaviour that discriminates or adds to the shame people feel for being themselves? How will we respond to the call to take collective responsibility, that is the subtext of her message? Will we change the way we see and react to injustice? I hope so.


This post is 25 in 45 posts for 45 years.


I give myself permission to miss a couple of days of blogging.

I give myself permission to not be thrilled with the plebiscite results.

I give myself permission to feel the pain and grief that came up for me just before and during the outcome.

I give myself permission to regret that I didn’t go to the places my people were gathered to find out the results and be in community.

I give myself permission to be glad my workplace is a safe place to be out, and to be emotional.

I give myself permission to change my mind and go into the city to be with friends.

I give myself permission to celebrate and feel that it’s a good day to be gay.

I give myself permission to celebrate in a way that suits me.

I give myself permission to be annoyed at the neighbour complaining the music was too loud, I give myself permission to lose respect for him being so over the top and not hearing me say I’d turn it down at least 10 times in response to his vitriol.

I give myself permission to feel bad.

I give myself permission to feel good.

I give myself permission to be complex.

I give myself permission to be human.

I give myself permission to be real about my experience.


Thank you to Brené Brown for inspiring me to give myself permission.


This post is 23 in 45 posts for 45 years.



Disposition can describe a wide range of ways of being, yet our mind likes to simplify with a binary, positive and negative. Using this simplicity we might say that some of us tend to put our emphasis on what’s wrong. In fact, many of us do, we’ve evolved that way to keep us safe. And yet there are people who tend toward positivity. These folks are often referred to as having a ‘sunny’ disposition. Shining the light on goodness.

When we come into contact with them we are affected. They can lift our mood. When we come into contact with someone at the other end of the spectrum, someone who might be called a contrarian, they can bring us down.

I recently came into contact with a contrarian. Telling me what’s what instead of being open to my perspective. It didn’t feel good at all, I felt dismissed and discarded and ultimately unimportant.

It reminded me of a quote from Brené Brown that had a big impact on me, it had me much more mindful of what I bring to each day, and though seeing what’s wrong is important, ultimately I want to contribute more than I criticise.

“At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life I want to be able to say that I contributed more than I criticized.” — Brené Brown

This is post 22 in 45 posts for 45 years.

The Future of the TAC

Yesterday my partner got her vehicle registration notice. It includes a significant fee for the Traffic Accident Commission, 58% of what she pays goes to TAC. These funds go toward supporting victims of traffic crashes in the costs associated with recovering from traffic-related injury.

She noted that in the future when there are driverless cars, the need for this sort of fund will decrease. That the number of people dying or being injured on the roads will decrease with reduced human error. 

It might be hard to imagine self-driving cars being less accident prone but they are far more equipped to detect and respond to threats than our ability to process information on the road. Our brains only process 40 bits of information per second, computers by definition compute at a far faster rate than we do. Cars and driving them are huge parts of our identity, looking forward to getting your license when you’re young and dreading losing it when you’re old. It’s associated with freedom and independence.

Can you imagine the freedom of your car service picking you up and taking you to your destination like a taxi but without the stress of the potential for human error? Can you imagine having the option to choose a transport service that is social, where people actually talk to each other and want to talk to each other.

Can you imagine the point where the evidence of human error being so great that it starts a debate about if we should stop letting humans operate large machinery like cars? I wonder what will happen to the TAC then.



This post is day 21 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Delayed Gratification

When circumstances beyond your control mean you have to wait to sell your house, it means mowing the lawn and pulling weeds on a day you’d rather be enjoying the sunshine in a more leisurely way.

We’re still waiting for planning permits for our old house. Once we get them, we will put it on the market and sell with plans. We let go of the idea of going through with the development after such significant delays. Paying two mortgages was only meant to be for a short time and it’s been prolonged more than we anticipated. So we’ve rented it out so we can at least cover part of the costs of still owning it.

So after saying goodbye to the lawn and fruit trees, we said hello to them again today and spent a few hours getting it looking respectable. I will be SO glad when we no longer own it and are not responsible for mowing the lawn. Did I mention how much I hate lawns?

So until then I will wait for the slower than molasses planning permit to be approved and do the things that go with owning the house. It’s not how we planned things to be but it is what it is.


This post is day 21 of 45 posts for 45 years.