Friday, August 19, 2011

Occasional Child Care Funding Rally

A recent move by the Baillieu Government to scrap the Take a Break occasional child care program will have many local families forced into finding alternative services. The Take a Break program provides occasional child care for parents who otherwise may not have had the chance to have some important time to themselves.

The program gives parents the opportunity to do ordinary chores such as the shopping or housework or to undertake studies or to simply to have an uninterrupted rest. It also helps children learn to interact and get on with other children. This budget cut will affect 220 childcare centres across Victoria with parents now either facing increased fees or in the worst case scenario, that their child care services may be closed altogether. Occasional child care centres at risk include services in Panton Hill, Eltham, Diamond Creek, Warrandyte, Montmorency and Greensborough.

On 18 August 2011, parents, children and child care workers gathered on the steps of Parliament to lobby the State Government.
The protest drew attention to the 9,000 families across Victoria affected should the programs funding not be reinstated. And to the the loss of 140 jobs that will go with the scrapping of the program.
Impassioned speakers from the community let it be known how the Take a Break program benefits them and implored the Government to reinstate the 1.9 million dollar funding needed for the program to continue.

Out of many great speeches from very passionate protesters, one mother's words really stuck strongly in my brain. She talked about the toll of not having the opportunity to have a break has on parents.
Being a busy mother, she often never had any time for herself. 
She spoke about the relief that occasional child care had brought her and how much it had helped her health. 
The protesters felt let down by the Baillieu Government as other Australian states have continued to fund their occasional child care programs, despite the Federal Governement no longer directly funding the schemes.

To let the Government know how important occasional child care is, you can sign the petition at

I'd love to hear your views on the matter and how this issue may affect your community.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Motivation. Or lack of it.

Motivation. Sometimes I have a great struggle finding it.
For a long time I thought that motivation is a bit like a trait, you're born with it or developed it at a young age.
Everyone knows a person who seems to push through everything to fully achieve their goal.
It is amazing to see them in action. But nobody can do this all the time though and despite how natural it looks, when it comes down to it: you can decide. You can decide to take the opportunities you get and use them to your full advantage. You have the choice to sit back and relax or finish the job you're working on.

Try as I do sometimes I just cannot push myself to work to achieve a goal.
You could make me to read a hundred inspiration quotes but still there is this almost unmovable barricade blocking my path. When I should be leaping up and over, I find myself sitting slightly to one side barely attempting to recognise its existence. And I'm not the only one.
Various people I've known seem to sit in the same position, on the same path and feel unable to progress at all. We seem to be stuck in this inevitable loop of realising that there is a problem, half-heartily attempting to fix it and failing dismally. It really is quite depressing cycle and many go through it.
Even that talented achieving acquaintance.

It can be unbelievably hard to break this continuous pattern without some kind of aid.
Sometimes it helps just to talk to someone, even just for a short while because it is always useful to see a problem from a different perspective, perhaps you'd never seen it in that light.
You might even be surprised with the number of those who can relate, who've been there at some point and worked through it.

For me, motivation really comes in quite random bursts. A rush of inspiration might come at an inconvenient time, when I have no pen or paper to take it down or maybe in the night when I wake with an idea but know that I probably should try and return to sleep. So it drifts out of my mind and never gets developed. What motivates you? Can you easily find inspiration?

Friday, July 8, 2011

What makes a problem real?

A few weeks ago while reading through comments on an article discussing advertising and body image, I came across a response which at first response irritated me while later prompted much thought.
It shared someones views about body image - that it wasn't a real problem, whereas genuine problems where only things like mass poverty, starvation and serious diseases.

I agree with the fact that the latter are genuine problems but I don't agree with the invalidation of body image as an issue. What makes one more important than another?
Those who live in poverty didn't bring it on themselves but then neither did anyone who suffers with an eating disorder.
Some would argue that due to situation and cause, a problem like poverty can be the only genuine issue.
But how about everyone who has been debilitated with lack of self of esteem and everything that comes with body image problems? Is that not important because often you can't truly distinguish a cause?
If looked at these problems without bias, you'd find that both are substantial issues that stand very separately and really are incomparable.

Last year my father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the second biggest cancer killer in Australia.
I'd heard of it before but brushed it off and so quickly was really relevant in our lives.
All I could really think of was the percentages of survival, if it had spread and if the surgery would be successful. It was so bizarre how something that we'd never discussed or really even thought of now stood a chance of taking my father's life. It's weird when sometimes the things you take for granted are suddenly taken away and you realise just how lucky you were to have them and would now do anything to get them back.
Sometimes I guess things don't seem quite as real unless they happen right next to you.

Before condemning a problem as not worth your time, please look at it from each angle and in every light. Just because it doesn't affect you directly at the moment doesn't mean it couldn't. 
How many people can tell what will happen to you in the future? 
All of a sudden things that you have never even glanced at are some of the most important issues in your life.
But in an odd way, some problems can give you hope for a better day tomorrow and make you grateful for the things you'd never think to be thankful about before. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fame, money and true ambition

Sometimes, it is assumed that when you have money, you live the ultimate life. I think if you ask for the life ambitions of many people popular answers would be: to achieve fame and with it extreme amounts of money.

Over a year ago, I longed and longed for this expensive necklace and I was so excited when there finally was a chance for me to have it. Then I got it and it wasn't such a big deal any more: I had it and it wasn't just out of reach like I felt it was before. Strangely, I sort of liked the sensation of being close enough to touch but too far to grab. If I'm being honest, I haven't worn it yet. I'm too scared of loosing it or damaging it. This sort of takes the fun away from owning it; it's only admired privately by few sets of eyes.
 With money you can have almost anything, you could have everything one could own. But is having everything really that fantastic? What then is there to strive for? To be less greedy?

I wonder if those who will do anything for fame realise what it really might be like. Sure, you might be able to afford a massive house and live in luxury but think of things you couldn't do. You couldn't walk through a city street and you couldn't go grocery shopping without the incessant cries of paparazzi, following and documenting your every move. You'd have to start to thoroughly think about everything you say because you know those people who takes anything out of context? You'd have about a million of those to deal with too! I'm not sure if I'm the only one who likes to escape for some time to myself but can you imagine how hard it would be to evade the invasive media? In this way - I understand why some celebrities are often brought to breaking point. The tremendous pressure and the persistent invasion of life would be truly infuriating.

So I ask you to reconsider your ambitions because it can be so easy to be blinded by bias feelings. Would they really lead to the life you would like? I urge you to think about each side and about the effects on everyone you know. Have you ever chosen goals and then realised that when you thought them through rationally, they really don't suit you at all?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Homelessness - what can be done?

I haven't really seen much homelessness before because I rarely go into the city or bigger suburbs but the experiences I have had really stick in my head, despite it being quite a few years ago.
When I was quite a bit younger, I was confronted with homelessness for the first time and was sickened by it.
I still remember the day, my family and I were on the road and we drove into a street with a line of shops and offices and a church. We saw him on the ground, in a sleeping bag, lying outside of the veterans counselling office - which was closed at the time. He lay on the ground with a couple of frames positioned near him, all by himself. Sadly, also near him was a bottle of turpentine and a Coca Cola, both of which he'd been drinking. 
As we witnessed this man, we saw people coming out of the church, walking right by him. Not one of them stopped. No one asked him how they could help. My mother and father went to talk to him and my mother called the police, who got the ambulance. I cannot say whether he survived because I don't know, the police didn't say when my mother rung them up later on.

Imagine having to find a place to sleep every night...
Another time, when I was about 10 or so, I saw a  homeless man kneeling on the pavement in a busy Sydney street. His head was down and he was holding a small cardboard box with a sign above it explaining his situation. He had kids which he couldn't feed. My Mum gave my brother a two dollar coin, which he tossed into the box. Mum still feels dreadful about the situation. What really upset me is that though there were many people walking by no one seemed to stop.
105, 000 people are homeless each night in Australia. 23% of these people are children. In Victoria, 6400 12-25 year olds are homeless every night. About 51% of homeless young people in Victoria manage to stay in education. What causes people to become homeless? Causes can include: the large drop in affordable accommodation, domestic violence, financial difficulties, family problems, relationship breakdown, drug or alcohol addiction and mental illnesses.  

But what can be done?
Charities have done a great deal to help the homeless people in Australia but they don't have enough money or places to rehouse everyone. Of course, it is more easier said than done but I think their should be much, much more accommodation available. It would be great if there were more places that could rehouse whole families, rather than having to split them up which would be very traumatic, especially for children.
What do you think about homelessness? What do you think should be done about it? 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Success, failure and expectations

Have you ever met one of those people who seems to succeed and achieve wherever they go in life?
It might be that they seem to have a perfect job or maybe they have flawless relationships.
You might begin to wonder why they are so lucky or maybe attempt to find their secret key to success.
The media often seems to do this, with headlines like: 'She's 50 and has the body of a 20 year old, what is her secret?' Probably intense physical training and an incredibly healthy diet. Maybe an amazing set of genes. Possibly both. Although we know that nobody is perfect, we can assume that someone is because of the way they appear. Every now and again we are reminded that no matter how smart or pretty someone is, everyone has failures and things that hold them up in life. Sometimes we can see a glimpse of the struggles which even the most successful can suffer. This sometimes shocks us because of the high expectations that we place on people, which in reality are often completely unreasonable.

The thing is, I used to think I knew someone who had a 'flawless' life, they believed in themselves and had a lovely family and loyal friends - what more could you ask for? But after a while, she came out of her shell and instead of being the confident happy girl she seemed, I saw a different side. A girl who had insecurities and a lot of anger bottled up inside of her, a more human side. I was shocked as I'd only seen her in robot form, functioning merely in a state which appealed to others. Although I didn't really like her, I understood her more. I valued the fact that I could see where she was coming from instead of seeing this strange 'perfect' girl.

To some failure and seeing flaws cause much pain and suffering but for me they are just a part of life which we can learn from. Not a great part, I admit, but an important part because something can be drawn from almost any failure. Do you ever feel that you have to be a 'perfect' human? Do you feel more comfortable around those showing themselves more fully?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The milk price cut - who really benefits?

In January 2011, Coles supermarket lowered the price of home brand milk to a dollar per litre.
When I first heard this I thought that perhaps this was a good thing, after all living prices are expensive so if this helps make it cost less, why not?

The chief executive for Aussie Farmers Direct, Braeden Lord has said, 'they can't denigrate the product by reducing the price without some knock-on effects in the milk supply chain.'
By bringing the prices down, the dairy industry will be severely effected.
Many farmers were affected by the recent flooding, they are trying to keep up financially and some fear that this will be a strong blow to them. A large dairy farm co-operative have said that in some parts of NSW and QLD, those in the dairy industry earned 54.11 cents per litre, only 4 cents more than the break even price in 2009-10. Coles has said that they would absorb the price cuts but some have thought that if the price cut stays for a lengthened time it would have to impact the farmers.

Apart from this, quality could be effected.
Aussie Farmers Direct have said that the generic milk sold in supermarkets is often diluted with byproducts from the cheese industry.
Aussie Farmers Direct milk does not contain any extra permeate which is a natural byproduct that many large milk companies add a lot of to help level the amount of fat in each bottle.
Braeden Lord has said that his company do not add it to their milk as they believe it takes away the real taste of the milk
The Tasmanian milk processor, Betta Milk have discouraged customers from buying 'inferior quality dairy products from mainland producers.'
I know that for many this price cut will come as a blessing but for the farmers it seems to be a curse. I encourage you, that if your budget it can take it, support farmers and don't buy Coles brand milk.
Will you be buying Coles brand milk? Why? Why not?