Monthly Archives: April 2020

Diggers. Shining a light on our current hardship.

My grandfather was a Digger – a Navigator for the RAAF in WW2 in New Guinea and the Coral Sea. He saw the best and worst in men, fighting on both sides. He rarely spoke of it, but when I was nine years old, he took our whole family on a trip, by boat, to deepen our understanding of, and honour, our history.

We started our journey of remembrance in Rabaul in PNG and finished, after layovers in Singapore and Hong Kong, at the Nagasaki Peace Park in Japan. My grandfather held no malice; he held no grudge; rather he believed that every man, on whichever side he was fighting, loved his country, was making sacrifices for his nation, and its future, and by the doctrine of that culture. 

No history class or book I’ve read since has left such a deep impression on my spirit.

As I reflect on the sacrifices our Anzacs made, I hope that we can take inspiration from their spirit as we navigate the challenge our society faces today. The sense of mateship, helping others and working together to achieve a common goal are values that continue to inspire us.

During this time of uncertainty in the face of COVID-19, we can take heart that the collective measures of our individual actions are making a significant difference to our mortality rates. It is a difficult time, and everyone is experiencing different levels of hardship; whether it be by loss of income, loneliness, family ructions, failed businesses, unimaginable financial hardship, increased anxiety or health challenges. This pandemic is taking a toll on societies around the world, and yet there are great examples of people being united like never before; unexpected acts of human kindness, people coming together to help where they can, and the arts, music and comedy lifting our spirits. This is no time for malice or resentment.

This weekend we are provided with an opportunity to reflect on our Diggers and the sacrifices they made to contribute to Australia’s future. To those who fought for us, we will remember you.

I, along with many other Australians, will be proudly participating in Light up the Dawn on Saturday to remember all those who have served and sacrificed. It is also wonderful to see what other members of our community are doing to show their thanks during this time of isolation. Charles Cameron, the CEO of our industry association, the RCSA, is spending Saturday taking the Last Post to the people of Euroa; his unique way of celebrating the ANZAC spirit and remembering those who have served. 

#LightUpTheDawn #AnzacDay2020 #lestweforget #ANZACspirit

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

This will be a thing. Face masks in the workplace.

I had never understood face mask wearing in public. To me, face masks indicated a cultural misunderstanding, a weird convention I couldn’t grasp. Were the wearers suggesting our pollution levels were up there with Shanghai’s, were we particularly foul mouthed, or were they themselves escapees from some infectious sanatorium? 

I’ve now done a backflip on this thinking. The more facts I read about ‘Face Masks’ the more convinced I am that they will be key to us getting back to business as usual. Or at least close to BAU.

While a mask won’t necessarily save the wearer if exposed, it lessens the likelihood of infection. How it really helps is in protecting ‘the other’ from the ‘wearer’. That insight flipped my judgement of public mask wearing from ‘negative and weird’ to ‘positive and respectful’. 

Supporting evidence is mounting by the countries ‘beating’ COVID-19:

  • Taiwan – Masks are mandated in many public areas such as public transport
  • China – Any region or city where there is the slightest trace of the virus, the wearing of masks is mandated by law
  • South Korea – The Government has sent face masks to every house
  • Singapore and Hong Kong – Have urged all citizen to wear masks all the time, as a sign of respect to others and a small amount of self-protection
  • Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Bosnia Herzogovina, Israel – mandated public mask wearing

Results are showing improved reductions in new case rates when mask wearing is combined with various stages of lock downs.

A bandanna, an old school cotton handkerchief or a pharmacy bought face mask will help us all, and maybe get us back to work, and on with life, as we knew it.  If we all get on board, it will normalise the previously abnormal.

What do you think about face masks in your world @work?

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Posted in The world @work

Prescience!

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

Thanks Joni Mitchell

I’m grateful this week. Enormously grateful to our Federal Government for the recently legislated JobKeeper initiative. Grateful that six million Australians might retain some semblance of a career, continuity of employment, a basic living wage and for organisations to ward off insolvency. Imagine the alternative – never ending Centrelink queues, mental health catastrophes, insolvency tsunamis and potential civil unrest.

Maybe we did have some idea that the music at the fairground would be quieted, the lights dimmed and we’d be seeing out a long night. Maybe it was one too many entitled ‘meh’s’ that got me on my soap box when I referred to the privilege of work at an introductory welcome I gave back in December. Slade Group sponsored the VCCI luncheon with The Hon. Richard Wynne, Victorian Minister for Planning and Housing, and on rereading the few paragraphs it does paint a backdrop for the richness of a working life – did we know how much we’d miss it when it was gone? (And for all the healthcare workers and those in the food staples supply chain, I wish for you that the music does soon slow, the merry-go-round you’re on is going way too fast for comfort.)

‘Minister Wynne, around the table we’re a microcosm of Victoria at work, supporting Australians in their daily lives. One of our own key-lines at Slade Group is ‘Love Work, Love Life’.  

Unlike the social media posts that reference ‘Hump Day’ as the day you have to suffer to get closer to the weekend, or ‘Thank God It’s Friday,’ we know differently. We know that work is also a privilege and leads to better lives…, mental health and… family wellness and prosperity… Just ask the young Greeks… who in 2014… were up against a 30% unemployment rate, OR the South African health system… that knows in pockets, where unemployment is over 30%… so is the spike in AIDS. That’s why the ‘jobs jobs jobs’ pitch of any government is so important.

This year, across our Group we’ve appointed Non-Executive Directors, CEOs, CFOs, and Divisional Directors to leading national organisations…, academic and professional leaders across education and government and the arts…, worked heavily with Victoria’s infrastructure and property and rail sectors… We manage major on-hired contracts, and we are working against the tide in sourcing digital and technical talent where demand far outstrips supply.

Collectively, I think you’d agree that we’re fiercely proud of Melbourne and Victoria.

We depend on our elected Ministers and our respected Public Servants to develop policy and make decisions in the public interest. We’re on the brink of sharing this city with 5 million people, many of whom are also new to our country and whom we have to invest in to ensure they will also benefit from our built environment, our infrastructure, distribution and logistics, digital and technical investments, health, education, our arts and culture, and our precious natural resources.

Richard Wynne was the guest speaker, generous with his time, answering a lot of questions around planning, none of which much occupy our thoughts right now.

How are you managing through this changed world @work?

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Posted in The world @work

From little things… Easter, a time for renewal

It was while waiting to cross at the lights on Spring Street last week, standing (suitably) apart from a couple on my walk home, when I overheard one say, “Things will really get bad when Bunnings closes.”

I wanted to step closer and join that conversation. Unable to, I’m thinking aloud, privileged to share with you my own Bunnings – to Easter – to renewal – to growth story.

Whatever circumstance you find yourself in this Easter; overworked, underworked or out of work, my hope is that we can use these four days to pause, to see them as an opportunity to consider new beginnings.

In the Northern Hemisphere, from where many of our ancestors originated, Easter was a Spring celebration – a time for renewal and new life. They planted in Spring, partied hard after the back-breaking work, prayed for a good season of growth, welcomed spring rains and looked forward to a bountiful harvest in five to six months.

Which brings me back to my Spring Street eavesdropping moment. The things we work on now give us a sense of accomplishment, and hope for the future. How much would we miss Bunnings if its doors had to close at this time – painting, repairing, refreshing our homes, feeding our soil, new plantings for our pots or plots and gardens.

In the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in temperate and cool climate regions, we go into Autumn and look towards winter. We have more thinking and planning time, but also seek out the plants that will grow into a bountiful harvest as we come through into Spring. We can clean out and clean up our homes and nurture personal relationships. None of it need cost a cent, but we can look back and be proud to have turned ‘the worst of times’ into ‘the best of times’. We can indulge in personal passions (so long as they don’t involve travel), sharpen our skills and improve on every day…

The theme of ‘Renewal’ marked the Pagan’s Springtime celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere. Every faith has its festivities and I’m wishing you all a Northern Hemisphere-like Easter this year, a time for renewal.

I’d love to hear what you will plant, nurture and begin to grow this Easter.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work