29 January 2016

Tips for improving your email marketing campaign click-through rates

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In a recent survey by Marketing Charts, over 30% of email marketers’ top focus for 2016 is to increase subscribers’ engagement rate, followed by improving segmentation and targeting.



Click rates generally tells the marketing team how the useful their content is. Decreasing click through rates is an increasing problem for the success of email marketing campaigns. In a survey of 303 email marketers, over 53% of the people have indicated that low click-through rates has been their biggest obstacle, followed by the lack of an effective strategy.

Research shows that mobile devices have a lower click through rate than desktops, which has accounted for 72% of the click throughs. A reason for this is because mobile devices have a smaller screen, providing poor user experience as it makes navigating on websites more difficult than PCs. 


As emails are considered the most effective form of digital marketing, it is crucial for marketers to form a strategy that will increase their email click through rates. Here are some tips for you to get started:

Targeting your content to a smaller, segmented list

It is crucial to understand what type of content is relevant to your target market. It is also important to note that not all content will suit your market and if all your clients have been receiving a generic email, they may delete or unsubscribe from your emails if the content is irrelevant to them. To improve on the click rates, you can cut down on the number of people you are sending the email to by segmenting and targeting the market to a niche list.

Make your links effective

Research has shown that it is best to avoid generic phrases such as “click here” as readers are uncertain where the link will go to. To make your links relevant to your audience, your link should be descriptive and concise, and have the link directed to the most relevant information. For example, if you are selling a service, direct your link to the services website rather than your general business website.

Embed more links

Users have had success with including multiple links to the same content within the email. This is best used for campaigns with a direct call to action such as prompting people to “donate now”. Instead of having one link with the call to action, place several around the email such as the start of the email, within the body of the text and at the end of the email.

Test your campaigns

To determine which email is most captivating for your audience, create separate email campaigns and take a small sample of audience to test the campaigns on. Once you have the statistics, you can send the remainder of your database with the email that has performed the best. Make sure you keep track of your best performing campaigns so you can always use these as a basis for your future ones.

Being brought up in a typical Chinese family in Australia, Vivian takes pride as an ABC (Australia-born Chinese) where she happily embraces both the Chinese and Australian cultures. 

In high school, Vivian wanted to become a fashion designer, however she has developed a passion for running events after working backstage for multiple live shows. Prior to starting at Akolade, Vivian worked 4 years in the wine industry and she misses the wine tasting sessions and openly drinking on the job. As the Marketing Coordinator, Vivian enjoys using her creativity to design unique and fun campaigns for each event. In her spare time, Vivian loves to spend time with her two adorable cat and dog. 

How to manage the need for outpatient services

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Tens of millions of occurrences of outpatient care take place every year in Australia however outpatient services continue to be viewed as the ‘poor cousin’ of their inpatient counterparts.

A number of factors in acute health care have been pushing additional demand onto outpatient services, including the National Emergency Access Target (NEAT), National Elective Surgery Target (NEST) and of course the growing need to reduce health care expenditure. With the cost of a hospital admission priced at well into the thousands, it is very clear why health services are relying more and more on the relatively cost efficient non-admitted care.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 42 per cent of outpatient services were for “Allied health and/or clinical nurse specialist interventions” and only 34 per cent were for Medical consultations, in 2013-2014.

Faced with long wait lists with poor transparency many clinics are unaware of the size of the problem, this coupled with service users who are failing to attend and constantly growing demand for outpatient services in acute health outpatient services are under huge strain.

If hospitals cannot reduce wait lists and improve access and flow through outpatient services the implications will be far spread.

The NSW Bureau of Health Service Information’s survey of approximately 7 million outpatient services provided across NSW public hospitals. The feedback was over all positive however key access areas where highlighted as shortcomings.

Key issues to be addressed:

·         Appointments stating late
·         Inconsistency in health professionals seen from visit to visit
·         Rarely told how long wait would be for appointment to start
·         Poor parking availability
·         Cleanliness of clinic Increasing patient satisfaction
·         Improving waiting list transparency



 Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field.

28 January 2016

Behavioural economics and its application in driving consumer reaction

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Behavioural Economics: a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain economic decision-making.”

The use of behavioural economics to drive better policy engagement is a relatively new field, ripe for exploration. By gaining an understanding of the power subtle changes can have and the impact they have on consumer behaviour, governments across Australia can better sell their economic policy messages, creating buy-in and community support.

Behavioural economics is the application of psychological insights into how human’s behave and react.

“Behavioural economists have shown that the hyper-rational, self-interested agents of standard economics are mythical creatures,” say Reuben Finighan, Senior Research Officer at the Melbourne Institute and Fellow of the ARC Life Course Centre of Excellence at the University of Melbourne in an article “The potential of behavioural economics: beyond the nudge.”

“Real-world people," he continues “are irrational, struggle to exert control over their emotions and impulses, and are social animals with a fondness for fairness.”

An exercise by the Economist put the idea of behavioural economics to the test when they launched two subscription offers simultaneously. The two offers were for an online only subscription for the price of $56 and a subscription for both the online and a print version for $125.

At first the demand for the first option was overwhelming. When the Economist released a third alternative, a print only subscription for $125 the tide changed. In comparing the three offers, consumers elected to purchase the second option. $125 for both the print and online options. But what had changed?

The introduction of the third option gave the consumers the belief that by purchasing the third option they were gaining the online subscription for free. The introduction of the third option suddenly made the second much more attractive and negated the first option altogether.

From a policy perspective behavioural economics can assist Australia’s Governments to help counter cognitive bias against traditional policy tools.

By collecting insights on the social, cognitive and emotional behaviour of both consumers and institution’s, Government’s will be able to drive better policy and engagement to the market. If Australia’s governments were able to apply subtle changes in the delivery of new policy initiatives they could have a big impact on voter’s behaviour.

Take a retail example. If you were to enter a store and see two special offers available, which would you automatically gravitate too; Buy 1 get 1 free, or 50% off if you buy two? Most people would gravitate automatically to the Buy 1 get 1 free option, but why? At first glance the word free stands out. People like a bargain, and 1 free resonates as more of a personal benefit than paying 50% for each item, despite the fact you’ll ultimately pay the same price.  

Amity Durham, Executive Director – Behavioural Insights at the Department of Premier and Cabinet in New South Wales will be discussing this important new innovation in policy at Akolade’s Australian Government Data Summit  to be held at the Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra March 22nd- 24th 2016.

Amity will be discussing how to utilise behavioural insights in the data, design and delivery of policy initiatives and examining the power of subtle change to deliver powerful impacts on behaviour.


 Akolade’s Australian Government Data Summit 2016 is on sale now. For further information on the topics covered, and the leading speakers who will be sharing their insights please click here.

27 January 2016

How to avoid identity theft: 6 tips to reduce your risk while shopping online

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The local shopping centre is not open 24 hours a day. It doesn’t allow you to compare prices from all over the world and it certainly doesn’t save petrol and hassle by coming to you and that’s the appeal of online shopping. But there’s a price to pay for all that added convenience: RISK.

Online retailers frequently require you to enter your personal information like home address, phone number and your credit card details in order to shop with them. This immediately makes you vulnerable to identity theft so it’s important to be cautious when ordering online.

According to a survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology, Australians undertook 6.1 billion transactions involving a credit or debit card, with 1.5 million of these being fraudulent last year. The survey also found that approximately half of those who had experienced some form of identity theft have suffered out of pocket financial losses totaling more than $850 000. To read more about the survey, click here.

 AIC’s Principal Criminologist Dr Russell Smith said while cybercrime is costly and frustrating for victims, it is important to be aware that traditional methods of deceiving are still widely used by cyber criminals.

 “Identity crime has been around for a long time. There are the tried and true methods of stealing information, like from a tombstone or taking letters out of mailboxes. So the old ways still exist,” said Dr Smith.

Here are 6 simple tips to protect you from the growing problem of identity theft whilst shopping online:

  1. Avoid shopping online or online banking from public computers – public computers may not have the security measures like firewalls and antivirus software that you have enabled on your home computer so entering personal information on them may put you at risk.
  2. Make sure you use a website that you know and trust – Is the site secure? Once you’ve decided to share your credit card or other personal information with the website make sure the website is protecting your information by encrypting it. Look for the lock symbol at the top of your browser and make sure the website starts with “https”.
  3. Read the website’s reviews - Lots of sites allow customers to rate their experience with vendors. Take the time to read these ratings to find out from past customers if they’ve had good experiences with the vendor you are considering. While you shouldn’t make a decision about these reviews alone, reviews can give you some information about the reliability and value of a vendor.
  4. Check the privacy policy – Another way of staying safe online is to check the privacy policy of the website you’re considering ordering from. The policy will let you know how they will use your personal and financial information. If you’re not comfortable with or can’t understand the website’s privacy policy, you should probably shop elsewhere.
  5. Keep records of your orders to track your purchases
  6. Use different passwords across all websites and change your passwords every 6 months

For more online shopping safety tips, click here 

The best part of my job as a Conference Production Manager is to create and manage my own conferences from concept to delivery, identify future conference topics as well as giving me a chance to expand my business card collection. Having a bit of a sweet tooth, you will always find me having lollies on my desk or you will catch me browsing on fashion sites during lunch breaks.

26 January 2016

Humans in a Tech Era – are we really working smarter?

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We’re in 2016 - a fast-paced, constantly achieving era where technology is central to everything we do – from our interactions to work processes, from our hobbies to how we plan next week’s agenda. Much is automated and everything is measured. Our core human interactions are quickly being inundated by the whirlwind of emails, likes, texts and data that consume our days, simply because of the functions that allow instant interaction. 

Translate this to our 21st century workplace, and you would think we would have a relaxed, 3-day work week with much of our work tasks completed with technology’s aid.

Deloitte University Press recently released a report entitled “Simplification of work: The coming revolution” (2015) showing statistics regarding our work trends compiled from various sources:

  • In one day, more than 100 billion emails are exchanged, yet only one in seven is critically important
  • The average employee now spends over one-quarter of the workday reading and answering emails
  • People now check their mobile phones more than 150 times a day
  • 40 percent of workers believe it is not possible to succeed at work, make a good living, and have enough time to contribute to family and community


All things considered, with advanced technologies, surely humankind should be less frantic and be able to achieve more important outcomes in our work days with fewer hours spent working and exchanging emails. Or at least that’s the state of bliss we are all aspiring towards.

Technology has supposedly provided us with the means to achieve more with less, but really- has it improved our quality of life, or is it really driving us to work harder because we’re supposed to be achieving more with the abundance of technological tools?

A recent article on this site expounds on this quandary.  According to the writer, technological advancements have achieved more productivity in our world today than what noted economist John Maynard Keynes predicted in the 1930s. But interestingly, these productivity gains have not translated to less working hours and more relaxed human beings. The article goes so far as to argue that humans should not be working anymore in this day and age, with all the technological advancements available. Yet, we find ourselves being busier, our days more filled with work tasks, and our gadgets never resting.

What does this mean for the workplace in 2016? With interconnectivity and technology taking over, yet with workers feeling more overworked and pressured than ever, how do companies ensure that they sustain a high-performing workforce that is able to work smarter and have more time for life?
The “Simplification of work: The coming revolution” report (Deloitte University Press, 2015) offers these tips for simplifying your workplace, largely inspired by GE’s efforts over the last few years:

  • Make simplification a business and HR priority. Start by creating a team focused on simplifying the work environment. Ask employees about time-wasting and complex processes, and develop a business case to justify redesign.
  • Get email and unproductive meetings under control. Decide on what is important and reduce the number of emails, meetings and conference calls
  • Invest in more integrated, simpler technology. Rather than looking for more features, companies should evaluate software based in part on its ease of use.
  • Implement design thinking and process simplification within HR: HR teams should lead by removing steps and using design thinking to implement “just enough” processes and technology



There is no doubt that there are some work tasks that no machine or automation process can take over, especially in a crisis or large project which require lots of communication, risk management and problem-solving. However, as a rule of thumb, organisations should carefully consider the principles of being lean and agile, and make the simplification of work a priority.

Su grew up dreaming of being a journalist, dodging bullets and gunfire with a camera thrust in front of her reporting from a war zone. Having realised that she is not really as agile as she thought, she has settled for dodging cockroaches in metropolitan Sydney as her adrenaline fix. Su is inquisitive and loves a good challenge, which is why she has chosen to produce conferences at Akolade. In her spare time, Su likes to read, drink green tea, and fantasise about making the world a better place; getting rid of the need for war journalists entirely.

25 January 2016

Australian university students well placed for a global career.

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Senator, the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment congratulated Australia’s universities for their high rankings with international raking agency, Times Higher Education.

“I congratulate our universities on these rankings, particularly the Australian National University which was the highest ranked at 25th place,” Senator Colbeck said.

Times Higher Education rankings placed 24 Australian Universities in the top 200 most internationalised universities in the world and 16 in the top 100, making Australia the second most represented country in listing of the world’s most international universities in the rankings released in January 2016.

The rankings follows Australia’s success in the overall ranking of the world’s best universities, announced by Times Higher Education in October 2015, where six of Australia’s universities ranked in the world’s top 100, led by the University of Melbourne in 33rd place. Australia placed fifth in the most represented country in the top 100 list.

“The Government wants to ensure that our students are receiving an education with a strong international focus, which will adequately prepare them for global career paths,” Senator Colbeck said. “It’s pleasing to see that our universities are some of the most internationally-focused in the world.


“Today’s announcement will ensure we continue to attract the world’s top students and researchers to our universities. It also confirms our domestic students are receiving an internationally-focused education that will enable them to remain competitive in an increasing globalised jobs market.” 

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy. Mike’s first published work will be the short story Seeds of Eden, in the Sproutlings Anthology scheduled for release in March 2016.

22 January 2016

Top three tips on Not-For-Profit mergers

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Did you know NFPs now employ over 8% of the total Australian workforce? According to the 2015 NFP Governance and Performance Study by the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ the NFP sector now employs over one million people.

The study, which surveys senior leaders to determine NFP priorities annually, has outlined the top three priorities for the next year as:

·         Maintaining or building income
·         Clarifying strategic direction
·         Diversifying income sources


Similarly Akolade recently surveyed delegates at the Effective Program Evaluation for NFPs conference and found the top issues facing NFPS are: income generation and developing innovative business models.



The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) recently reported that the Australian NFP sector is worth a staggering $103 billion. Hence it is no surprise NFPs are aiming to be more commercially minded to boost organisational performance and income.

A key insight from the 2015 NFP Governance and Performance Study was the increasing number of mergers occurring in the NFP sector, with those surveyed providing advice on mergers.

  1. Recognise the needs of your services end users and ensure that senior leadership is empathetic to their needs before and during merger
  2. Explore multiple strategies and how they each align to your mission before choosing a merger
  3. Make sure you and the other party have developed a clear vision for the entity post-merger

To learn more about NFP Income Generation, make sure to click here.

Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field. 



21 January 2016

Aged Care in 2015 - A quick look back on the year that was

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The aged care sector has seen important changes taking place in the last few years. There have been program updates and changes to the sector, with reforms in machinery of government and policy shaking up ‘business as usual’ in the sector.

The Australian Ageing Agenda recently published a post on the highs and lows of the aged care sector in 2015, gathering thoughts from various leaders in the sector.

We take a look at some of these thoughts on key milestones in 2015 and what worked well:

  • Choice and control measures in the 2015 budget. From February 2017, funding from the government will follow the individual rather than the provider, putting more control in the hands of the customer. As the full implementation continues to be rolled out, changes are already taking place among providers to prepare for the wave of changes.
  • The shift of aged care from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health. This move will greatly benefit people suffering from dementia, a disease which is the second leading cause of death in Australia. Many people with dementia do not currently access aged care services, and this machinery of government change will ensure that policy and debate will champion the cause of dementia sufferers.
  • Increased industry engagement and consultation in government departments. People in the sector have commended this improvement in 2015, and expressed hope that the increase in discussion and sharing of information will steer the industry through a period of change.
  • The readiness of the sector for Consumer Directed Care (CDC). Transitions are never easy, but 2015 saw the CDC being mandated to all home care providers as of 1 July, and the home care sector in general saw a smooth transition to the new model of care.
  • Greater strides towards healthy ageing. Healthy ageing and wellness promotion programs were championed amongst residential and community services in 2015, and this saw reduced frailty and an improvement in quality of life.

Su grew up dreaming of being a journalist, dodging bullets and gunfire with a camera thrust in front of her reporting from a war zone. Having realised that she is not really as agile as she thought, she has settled for dodging cockroaches in metropolitan Sydney as her adrenaline fix. Su is inquisitive and loves a good challenge, which is why she has chosen to produce conferences at Akolade. In her spare time, Su likes to read, drink green tea, and fantasise about making the world a better place; getting rid of the need for war journalists entirely.

20 January 2016

Death by procrastination

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We are now well and truly in the year 2016. How have your New Year resolutions been going?

For me, I am starting to feel the guilt as I think about the gym sessions, eating habits and excercising the dog promises that I swore would (finally) happen in 2016. I’m sure I can’t be the only one guilty of procrastinating.

Research shows that 20 percent of us are chronic procrastinators. Psychologist Sharon Draper discusses that chronic procrastinators constantly avoid difficult tasks by looking for distractions. With the availability of the many social media channels in today’s world, this has made distractions much easier.

Joseph Ferrari, PHD and associate Professor of University of Chicago identifies 3 types of procrastinators:

Thrill Seeker
The thrill seekers enjoy the feeling of working against a deadline and so they feel they can procrastinate.

Avoider
The avoiders procrastinate as a means of avoiding judgement, whether it is success or failure.

Indecisive
The indecisive procrastinators are usually perfectionists but procrastinate to shift responsibility from themselves.

So the question is, how do we beat procrastination?

Luckily for us procrastinators, psychologists have come up and put together 3 strategies for us to get our work done. 

Count the time left until the deadline

Researchers at University of California have discovered that if we view their deadlines in terms of days rather than months or years, we will start working on our goals 4 times sooner.
An example raised was if someone was planning to pay for their baby’s university fees, by thinking it as 6570 days, rather than 18 years, will help them kick start a savings plan sooner.

Start from the little things

Pier Steel, psychologist from University of Calgary suggests we should create artificial deadlines to ensure we are working towards the big goal at the end.
For example, if you are trying to write a 100,000 word book, the large amount of words is likely to scare you and hence scaring you into procrastination. Instead, you should focus on a smaller target such as 500 words per day, which will make the goal seem more achieve-able.

Delete distractions

The internet has played a huge part for today’s procrastinators, whether it be scrolling through social media channels, reading the news, or like me, finding more sources for my research! To combat this, it is worthwhile to find an app like Freedom, which will help block the internet whilst you work.
Sometimes, it is more productive to move yourself to another environment, such as the library or a quiet corner in the office so you can work in silence and not be distracted by those around you.


 “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” – Pablo Picasso

Being brought up in a typical Chinese family in Australia, Vivian takes pride as an ABC (Australia-born Chinese) where she happily embraces both the Chinese and Australian cultures. 
In high school, Vivian wanted to become a fashion designer, however she has developed a passion for running events after working backstage for multiple live shows. Prior to starting at Akolade, Vivian worked 4 years in the wine industry and she misses the wine tasting sessions and openly drinking on the job. As the Marketing Coordinator, Vivian enjoys using her creativity to design unique and fun campaigns for each event. In her spare time, Vivian loves to spend time with her two adorable cat and dog. 

19 January 2016

The role of an executive assistant is multifaceted.

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As an executive assistant, you need numerous skills to support the grinding demands of your boss, ranging from time management, problem-solving, to effective multimedia skills.

Within the public sector, an executive assistant’s role constantly evolves and they often have to effectively deal with ‘change’ – whether it be a change of their manager, responsibilities, role or work environment.

“The schedulers, gatekeepers and caretakers of the corporate world are rarely seen, but they have a profound effect on the daily lives of the executives they serve,” The Wall Street Journal states in an inspiring article.

“The work can be thankless and often comes at a cost to their own personal lives, but these workers wield subtle influence at a company's highest levels--and no small amount of power.”

The Keynote presenter at Akolade’s upcoming National Public Sector EA PA Summit, Zelda la Grange, had the privilege of working for one the most inspirational and influential figures of the last century, Nelson Mandela.

In 1997 she was promoted to become one of the three Private Secretaries in President Mandela’s personal staff. In 1999 he requested her to remain in his services beyond retirement. Zelda served Mr Mandela for 19 years in different capacities until his death on 5 December 2013.

Zelda will be joining us in February for the National Public Sector EA & PA Summit to discuss her experiences and lessons learned as Private Secretary and Executive Assistant to Nelson Mandela.

Zelda graciously took the time to answer a few of our questions.

A major concern that many EAs and PAs have is to find work-life balance. Do you have any tips that you would like to share?

Personally I did not manage this well. My job was different than that of any other PA – there was no other person with the stature of Nelson Mandela so the situation was unique with very unique and specific challenges - and I had to make certain decisions in this regard.  It always remains a choice though no matter what the circumstances.

What is your favourite quote from him?

My favourite quote is: no person is born hating another. People learn to hate and if they learn to hate they can be taught to love.

What is the single most precious memory of working for Mr Mandela that you will cherish for the rest of your life?  


Most certainly the last time I saw him alive.

After finishing University with a degree in Business Marketing, I decided to make a big jump across seas for the first time and move from the east coast of America to Sydney, Australia. I landed my first job in a sales position in the event industry and soon thereafter moved into a marketing assistant role – following I had the pleasure of interviewing with Akolade which got me to where I am today.
Akolade is a fun, innovative company that brings together people from different walks of life to implement change. As the Marketing Manager, I have the pleasure of wearing many hats which motivates me to succeed, reach people in an array of avenues, grow our events to their full potential, and raise our story. As for me, I am a kind dedicated woman who loves to work hard, exercise, cook, be social and have some fun.

18 January 2016

Changing community expectations surrounding workplace sexual harassment

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Sexual harassment in Australia’s workplaces continues to be a major headache for both staff and HR managers alike. A 2014 report from the United Nations stated that Australia has one of the highest rates of reported sexual assault in the world at a rate of 92 people out of 1,000 of the population estimated to have reported sexual assault.

Recent allegations against NSW Labour general secretary Jamie Clements has again brought workplace sexual harassment into the headlines.

The application for an AVO by former NSW Labor staffer Stephanie Jones alleged Mr Clement pushed her against a wall and attempting to kiss her. The AVO was dismissed after Mr Clements signed an out-of-court arrangement not to approach Ms Jones for a period of 12 months.

In a report from 2008, the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 43% of people who had made a complaint alleging sexual harassment didn’t feel as though their complaint was taken seriously by management, while 21% had a lack of faith in the complaint process.

Ignoring or failing to take sexual harassment allegations seriously can be a costly mistake for an organisation.

An article from the ABC in December 2015 outlined the case of a female road construction worker who was subjected to: assaults, sexual harassment, bullying and rape threats.

During the trial, her lawyer, Liberty Sanger said her client “had tried very hard to bring the behaviour to her employer’s attention, but her complaints were laughed off.”

Victorian Supreme Court Justice, Terry Forrest awarded the complainant – Ms Karen Matthews - a $1.3 million payout.

Justice Forrest found in his judgement that Ms Matthews was a good worker and now suffered a chronic psychiatric illness and agreed with medical advice that Ms Matthews was unlikely to ever work again.

While the full payout of $1.36 million isn’t the highest payout in Australia it was a very high payout for a sexual harassment case, and sends a strong message to all employers they must have a zero tolerance approach to bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.

The implication to businesses from this and other high profile cases is it is a costly mistake not to take serious and appropriate action when a sexual harassment complaint is lodged. In recent times, there have been a number of high profile cases that have received large payouts.

With 222 sexual harassment complaints lodged in the last financial year court decisions are reflecting the changing community standards with victims now more likely to receive six-figure payouts.

Making certain your policies and procedures surrounding workplace sexual harassment complaints are strong and robust helps to provide organisations with the steps they need to protect not only their businesses and reputations, but more importantly their staff.

Akolade is again running its intensive 1-day 10th Fundamentals of Workplace Law event across Australian in April 2016. For the latest court findings, legislative changes and to ensure your policies reflect the best possible standards please click here.


Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.

15 January 2016

Top 3 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2016

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And before you can say “Goodbye 2015”, 2016 is already upon us. As organisations plan their strategies for the coming year and take stock of efforts in years past, one common theme runs through the psyche of all businesses: the evolving world of marketing, and how social media has become a key focus in this mix.

Social media continues to evolve and innovate at a reckless rate – every second day there is a new add-on or function that takes online interaction to a whole new level. Given this changing landscape and the prevalence of social media in this decade’s marketing activities, we took a look at some top social media trends for 2016, curated from The Guardian, Huffington Post and the Social Media Examiner.

Live video content becoming mainstream

Facebook recently released Facebook Live, a function that - as its name suggests - allows users to post live video content on Facebook. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and gives already popular video apps like Snapchat, Instagram and the budding Periscope a run for their money. What this means for businesses is that they can and should harness the power of live video to reach out to audiences. This site offers tips to make the most out of the instant availability of video content; including going behind the scenes to offer your customers a sneak peek into your world, posting Q and As for audience interaction, and offering product demos.

The importance of behavioural data

When life shifts, so do consumer needs and wants and hence, purchasing habits. As such, The Huffington Post predicts that organisations that have the ability to drill down into smaller sized data - such as when consumers are expecting a baby or getting married - will be most effective in their social media efforts. This is because organisations will be able to create customised content that targets consumers when they are more likely to make a purchase and advocate for the brand.

Messaging, Messaging, Messaging

The growth of private group messaging and messaging apps cannot be underestimated. The Social Media Examiner suggests that we are already seeing more users creating private group chats and migrating to these interactive functions on social media channels. This will lead to a push in social media marketing where the most valuable content will only be seen by those who are granted permission to see it on these private messaging outlets. This will also turn customer service on its head, leading to more communication between businesses and consumers on private messaging. The Guardian echoes the importance of messaging apps in 2016, and predicts that platforms that target the Asian market particularly will find a whole new world of marketing and commercial transaction opportunities open up.

Creativity, instant availability and personalisation of content will be taken to a whole new level in social media this year. So will the algorithms that allow social media platforms to charge for advertising.  There are exciting times ahead, and the ones who can look forward to these trends and adapt their social media strategies accordingly will be the ones that thrive.

Su grew up dreaming of being a journalist, dodging bullets and gunfire with a camera thrust in front of her reporting from a war zone. Having realised that she is not really as agile as she thought, she has settled for dodging cockroaches in metropolitan Sydney as her adrenaline fix. Su is inquisitive and loves a good challenge, which is why she has chosen to produce conferences at Akolade. In her spare time, Su likes to read, drink green tea, and fantasise about making the world a better place; getting rid of the need for war journalists entirely.

14 January 2016

Medicare cuts: Policy v Spin

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There's been a lot of talk about the recent cuts to Medicare payments for pathology services which were flagged in last December's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, particularly in relation to the possibility of increased costs to the consumer for services such as pap smears, MRI's, urine/blood tests, X-rays and ultrasounds."

The situation came to a head when popular website mamamia wrote a post outlining the increased costs of pap smears and the possible long-term ramifications of making preventative medical tests more user pay than they currently are.

In light of the article, Australian Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Sussan Ley MP was quick to label the claims misleading, with a spokesperson for the Minister stating:

"There are no changes proposed in MYEFO regarding the cost of either receiving or delivering a physical pap smear examination undertaken by your GP or specialist, nor their billing practices. Nor is there any reduction in the dollar-value of the Medicare rebate a patient receives to undertake associated pathology tests." 

While this is true, the cuts in question relate to an incentive payment paid directly to pathology corporations separate to the Medicare rebate. The payment, labelled inefficient in the MYEFO is valued at between $1.40 and $3.40. 

So where has the uproar come from? Is the Health Minister being honest with the people when she says this cost will not create a rise in patients out of pocket expenses, or are the pathology companies simply generating press coverage because they're going to be losing money.

The reality is that whether the Government labels the payment inefficient or not if the pathology companies and practitioners don't cover this loss themselves, it will be passed onto the patient. It's basic business. Will the business absorb the loss of revenue or will they increase their prices and pass the loss onto the consumer?

In a January 7 interview with ABC, Doctor Michael Harrison, President of the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia suggested the figure of "$1.40 - $3.40," put forward by the Government could snowball when it reaches the stage of patients being billed for pathology tests.

"When you have a pathology test we can't actually raise a bill until we've done the test.. If we don't bulk bill and send it straight to Medicare, we have to send an account to the patient." Dr Harrison said.

"This is the bit the Minister doesn't understand," he says. "Once you start sending accounts out - that's a very costly exercise. The Government is saying it's only cutting $3.20, but it costs $15 to $20 to send out an account. So the gap could be more than $30, it could be as high as $50 or $60."

The changes are scheduled to take effect from July 1 2016 but still need to pass the Senate. With Labor vowing to block the move in the Senate the Government could face a rocky path to trying to pass the changes. 

Independent Tasmanian Senator, Jacqui Lambie said in a media release on January 10 2016 that she would fight to stop the Turnbull Government from making any changes to Medicare:

"I will do whatever it takes in the Australian Senate - including voting against all Liberal/National Government Legislation - to stop Malcolm Turnbull and his incompetent Health Minister Sussan Ley from increasing the cost for Australia women to access vital Cancer health checks." said Senator Lambie. 

Opposition Health Spokesperson, Catherine King, said the cuts could have a devastating impact on women's health. In a statement she said pap smears had been a major part of preventing cervical cancer.

"Given the possible consequences of not having this test, this is a disastrous move for women's health that will be not only bad for patients, but a short-sighted measure that will cost the health system more in the longer term."

However, the Health Minister's spokesperson dispute this by saying:

"This payment was only introduced in 2009 at a cost of $500 million over five years - it is not a long-standing fundamental pillar of Medicare."

The reduction in the incentive payment is projected to save the Government $650 million over four years if it comes into effect from July 1 2016.



Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.