29 February 2016

Victorian State Liberal Party Director admits to Fraud.

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Victorian State Liberal Party Director, Damian Mantach pled guilty to a total of 44 charges relating to false printing of invoices and other fraudulent expenses billed to the Liberal Party of Victoria, as well as other fraudulent charges billed to MP’s offices and paid by State or Federal authorities.

“Initially.. I was under substantial financial stress and I got myself into too much debt,” Mantach is quoted as saying in a police interview. “When I took the money, it was basically to relieve pressure in my personal life.”

The fraudulent practices took the form of inflated invoices, allowing Mantach to collect a “levy.” When initially questioned about the levy by Liberal Party Staffer, Andrew Camenzeli, Mantach told him not to be concerned about, and that he’d take care of it.

Auditors were later to track Mantach’s spending and find he had used the money to buy half a million dollars’ worth of shares, a cafĂ© for $611,000 as well as an $81,000 car and $45,000 in home loan repayments. To date, only $466,713 has been recovered from Mantach.

Mantach, who was Victorian State Director for the Liberal Party from 2011 until his resignation in March 2015, is due to return to court in May.

Fraudulent behaviour from senior managers is on the rise in corporate Australia, and as the economy continues to weaken and business confidence continues to be weak, business leaders need to watch out not only for criminals on the internet, but for Senior Managers feeling the pinch.

Dr Russell G Smith, Principal Criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology delivers an insightful Keynote address at Akolade’s 5th Annual Australian Fraud Summit 2016 being held at The Menzies Hotel Sydney, May 24th – 26th 2016.

Dr Smith will be discussing Fraudsters an the Top: The incidences of fraud among senior management examining the latest strategies to overcome and prevent fraud from your senior management team.


Tickets for Akolade’s 5th Australian Fraud Summit 2016 are on sale now. To view the programme or for further information, 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. Mike’s first published work will be the short story Seeds of Eden, in the Sproutlings Anthology scheduled for release in March 2016.

26 February 2016

How social media is being used to catch fraudsters

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Welfare payments make up a third of all government spending in Australia. It is estimated that every year, $3 billion of tax payer’s money is paid to people who have lied about their circumstances. With the increased global use of social media, government agencies including Centrelink, ATO or Medicare are using social media to catch people cheating the welfare system.

It was revealed recently that Centrelink has contracted private investigators to trawl social media accounts of suspected welfare cheats. This is part of the Department of Human Services Taskforce Integrity’s operations to detect, disrupt and prevent non-compliance and fraud.

According to the former Minister for Humans Services, Stuart Robert, the operations have led to 3072 compliance reviews, 1888 cases of overpayment and five arrests on warrants for failing to attend court for welfare fraud offences.
"The success of Taskforce Integrity's initial operations is very promising and clearly demonstrates the Government's commitment to ensure Australia's welfare system supports those who genuinely need a helping hand," said Minister Robert.
"While most people receiving welfare payments are honest and do the right thing, there is a small segment of the community who still think it is okay to cheat the system. Taskforce Integrity will continue to collaborate with its partner agencies to meet the challenges posed by welfare fraud and ensure those individuals who deliberately defraud the system are caught."
Laurie Patton of the lobby group Internet Australia said it was an important lesson for people to be aware that all their social media activities were monitored.
“A lot of people are unaware to the extent to which their private information is available to governments and other agencies,” he said.
“A significant issue is that people are entitled to know what their information is being used for.”

To read more about Taskforce Integrity’s operations, please click here - https://www.humanservices.gov.au/corporate/taskforce-integrity

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.

25 February 2016

How to retrain the brain: Overcoming bad habits and replacing them with good ones

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Everyone has a bad habit, whether they’ll admit to it or not. Some of us smoke, some drink too much and others make themselves grand promises to exercise daily and instead are up to season 7 of Supernatural on Netflix.

But why do people do things they know aren’t healthy or supportive to their long term future?
Back in the dark ages of the late 1990’s I bought a CD set from Anthony Robbins, Personal Power. It went for 30 days. Every night for 30 days I sat down in my spare room/office and listened to Anthony Robbins extol the virtues of neuro linguistic programming.

By the end of the of programme I’d quit smoking, stopped drinking, given up junk food and was wombling around the suburb sweating to the Spice Girls in an effort to lose weight and get healthy.

A month after I finished the programme I was sitting on the couch, cigarette dangling from my lips with a glass of wine on the table, next to a packet of Doritos and a container of dip.

For the 30 odd days of the programme I was pumped. I saw changes. My life became more focused and I was doing whatever it took to bring about the changes I wanted. After the programme finished I maintained it for a short time, but then excuses started clawing their way back. I was tired. I’d worked all day, commuted 2 hours to work and 2 hours home. My favourite show was on the TV – no idea what that was anymore, but I couldn’t miss it – and I’d do it tomorrow.

By the end of 30 days tomorrow never came. Instead I went right back to where I was when I started. I’ve always wondered why? What about the goals I’d set during those days of listening to a compact disc no longer inspired me to keep going?

Bad habits have an ummm bad habit of derailing the best of intentions. Recently I was house sitting in Sydney. My commute from work went from 2 hours door-to-door to 40 minutes door-to –door and that included a 25 minute walk from the train Station to my house and waiting times for trains. When I first came to Sydney I set a bunch of good, healthy habits.

They lasted a couple of weeks before I discovered Menulog and the ease with which food could be ordered and delivered to the house. On the coast we have 2 options for Menulog and I’m not a huge fan of the restaurants so basically it’s a no go.

Strangely enough a diet of pizza, Chinese, Italian, and the Portuguese Chicken shop a block from my house left me thinner than I’d started, but I’m putting that down to daily walking.

I’ve never been great at replacing my bad habits, but I have found a few tips that work, when you apply them one at a time. Replacing your bad habits with good habits needs to be done one bad habit at a time. Trying to do them all at once is a recipe for disaster.

Stress is a major contributor to bad habits. My position is fairly stressful. I live and die by deadlines. Everything seems to be due tomorrow and that doesn’t even acknowledge the random tasks I inherit daily. In my past life the best way to unwind was to sit down and have a glass of wine. I did it every night at one stage. It didn’t really do much to unwind the stress, but it did make me feel very grown up.

As the amount of wine went from one glass to two or three I started to realise that apart from helping my weight to expand it wasn’t do much for me in any other way.

I bought a rusty old exercise bike. The seat hurts and the last time I used it a peddle shot off across the patio and landed in the pool. But it doesn’t matter. I downloaded an exercise training app, and began replacing the nightly wine with a nightly 20 minute exercise bike ride.

By the end of the first month I’d saved $250 on wine and lost 4 kilos. I rarely drink now, and never at home on my own. Instead, when I feel stressed I ride that exercise bike like the hordes of Hades are on my tail and invent new ways to hunt down whoever invented the exercise bike.

Boredom is another useful trigger when looking at starting a life-long bad habit. I often used to complain about being bored. Bad habits give us a way to relieve the boredom and feel like we’re doing something, even if it’s not productive.

The best way to replace a boredom related bad habit is to not be bored anymore. I potter about gardening, weeding things, pruning things, watering things. I like watching seeds grow into plants and plants flower. I recently decided that I want to grow things I can eat, so I’m attempting to grow a Chilli plant from seed. I don’t eat Chilli, but it's the thought that counts.

The one thing I have learned over the years of bad habits is you don’t lose them, no matter how much you want to. If you stop a bad habit you end up with spare time, which only increases your chances of picking the habit up again. Instead, you need to replace it.

  • I replaced a nightly glass or three of wine with a medieval torture device of an exercise bike;
  • I replaced lying around complaining there’s nothing on television with wandering around the garden, in a big hat, chopping everything in sight and growing plants from seeds;
  • I replaced vague and empty self-promises with doing one “thing” each day to bring me closer to achieving a very specific goal I’ve had in mind since I was a child; and
  • I replaced removing bad habits instead choosing to replace them with something else.


So, in closing, here are few helpful tips I’ve found work well when trying to break a bad habit:

Chose a substitute habit – replace anything with a download app with an overly enthusiastic American woman telling you how fantastic you are as you try to keep both pedals on an exercise bike

Change your routine – A friend of mine quit smoking several years ago. She had a very clear outcome in mind that forbade her from smoking. So she went through her house and threw out every single thing that triggered her need for a cigarette. She also started to do “other things,” in danger times. Morning tea, she walked around the block. Lunch, she ate in a food court where smoking was banned. It was the little changes she made to her routine and the various triggers that gave her the ability to reach her goal of living without cigarettes and also helped her achieve the end goal too.

Work in a group – boredom has trouble hanging around when you’re working with a friend on setting a new lifestyle in stone. Join a group of people who have the same goal. Join a writing group if your plan is to be a novelist when you ‘grow up.’ Join a Bonsai group if you want to grow miniature tress. For every hobby you want there’s bound to be at least one or two people who can join you. Not only do you get to make some new friends – maybe – but it’s harder to let yourself down when others are cheering you on.

Visualisation – I know it’s had a lot of coverage since the documentary The Secret hit the airwaves, but visualisation has been around forever. I remember as someone in my early teens being given a book about visualisation by my Aunt. Thinking about succeeding isn’t visualisation though. It takes effort and it takes having faith in yourself to follow the nudges and hints you get. Still, even if you’re a bit hesitant visualisation can really lift your energy, at least for a while. Do it often and regularly and you’ll be surprised at the changes.

You may well fall over, but get up again – all those people you read about who are overnight successes have one thing in common. They’re not overnight successes at all. They worked hard, fell over, got back up and tried again. The popular story of Thomas Edison always sticks out for me. When asked how he felt that he had failed 10,000 to invent the light globe, Edison famously replied;

I have not failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”


Whatever the bad habit you’re trying to replace know that you don’t need to reinvent yourself. You are doing well, just as you are. All you are doing is tweaking the direction of your life course. Give yourself a break from time to time.

Changing a bad habit to a good one takes time, diligence and effort. The good news though, is what else are we going to do with our time, watch Netflix?

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.

24 February 2016

41% of Managers too busy for workplace diversity

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Do you know what the biggest reason for why companies can’t have a diverse workforce?
41% of the managers claim they are “too busy.

Besides making diverse companies look better to the public eye, companies need a diverse workforce to give wider perspectives and can contribute to different things the company is working for. 

By being diverse, a company recognises that individuals have different traits and characteristics, which sets them apart from the rest of the society.  Diversity can be in many different formsincluding: gender, age, race, sexual orientation, physical qualities, disability, education level, life experience, work experience, socio-economic background, personality, marital status, carers responsibilities, religious beliefs, geographic location, income level and many more.

To have an inclusive company culture is to value, respect and support the staff for their individual needs and ensure that the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their full potential. This should be reflected in the company’s culture, practices, visions and relationships that support a diverse workplace.

What are the advantages of having a diverse workforce?

Increase in creativity

Having a diverse company allows businesses to deliver and connect with a wider range of customers and engages employees to bring in different ideas and perspectives to the workplace. By bringing in people from different backgrounds, the company can benefit from different solutions or ideas for resolving an issue.

Increase in productivity

Workforce diversity will see an increase in productivity and competitive advantage. It increases employee morale and encourages them to work more efficiently and effectively. Diverse leadership within the company will also see new skills and methods to manage teams and improving productivity.

Language skills

Global companies or companies that are planning to expand in the global market will benefit greatly by employing people of diverse language backgrounds. For example, by hiring a Chinese person who can speak Chinese and understand the Chinese culture will have an easier time when communicating with Chinese companies. Also, companies who employ people of different nationalities will increase the reputation of the company in the global market, usually meaning an increase of presence and sales.

Positive reputation

Job seekers are drawn to companies with a diverse workforce as they feel they would not be discriminated. Employees like to know they will be treated fairly and respected the same way regardless of their race, gender or ethnicity. Companies will also have a higher morale amongst their staff and be able to retain their high talent.

Recognising diversity involves valuing individual differences people and positively embrace and support these unique characteristics to the benefit of the company.

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. 

23 February 2016

Guest Post: More changes ahead for Australia's IR landscape

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Workplace relations ultimately impact our productivity, resilience and effectiveness as a nation. The role of Workplace Relations practitioners is central to understanding, implementing and managing the best available opportunities for their organisations
 
Akolade recently caught up with Lisa Burrell, General Manager – Workplace Relations from the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry ("Victorian Chamber") to discuss all things workplace relations, including the much anticipated release of the Productivity Commissions review into the Workplace Relations framework, and what it may mean in practice for Australian businesses.

Q: We are working in an evolving and continuously challenging environment. What do you see as the main challenges for Workplace Practitioners over the next 12-18 months?

In the World Economic Forums 2015-16 Global Competitiveness report, Australia doesn’t place in the Top 100 on key workplace relations indicators which included hiring and firing practices. While this is no surprise to practitioners within the system, it reflects the stark realities of some of our current constraints.

The overarching and continuing challenge for employers is no doubt delivering results and initiatives, whilst managing compliance and risk in a very complex system. Within this, the key upcoming challenges for practitioners as I see them are:

  • Planning for, and managing legislative changes that may come out of the next federal election. In the current context and climate, we would expect to see workplace relations as a fundamental part of the upcoming federal election platforms for both parties.
  • Continuing to balance and manage flexibility issues that are part of the needs of a contemporary workplace, within an overlay of expanding legislative coverage and protections.
  • Maintaining employment engagement, productivity and skill sets as our economy continues to evolve and consumer habits change. More and more businesses may be experiencing both growth and decline across separate areas of their business and this will continue to present a key management challenge.

Q: The Productivity Commission report was released late last year and is currently with the government for review. What are some of the most significant changes that may come out of this?


We ultimately saw some hits and misses for Australian business within the report. As with any reports of this nature, the challenge and opportunity presented by this will now be subject to legislation being put forward and passed by government.

The Victorian Chamber welcomed a number of the final report’s recommendations, including:
  • Aligning penalty rates on Sundays in hospitality, entertainment, retail, restaurants and cafes with Saturday rates.
  • Reform to curtail the cost impost of state based public holidays in addition to the national public holidays, as recently seen with the introduction of two new public holidays in Victoria.
  • An emphasis on substance rather than process for unfair dismissal claims and return of upfront assessments.
  • Recognition that the enterprise agreement approval process is overly rigid and requires reform.
  • Addressing ‘strike first, talk later’ tactics that subject business to costly disruptions. The PC has recommended prohibitions and restrictions that would limit this avenue.
  • The PC’s assessment that the costs involved with expanding existing portable long service schemes would not be justified

Other key areas that the PC final report proposed was reform to the Fair Work Commission appointments and structure, the introduction of “Enterprise Contracts” as a new type of employment instrument and changes to Greenfields agreements.

Q: What do you see as the lost opportunities within this report?

In our view, the report falls short in a number of areas.  A key area is the missed opportunity to provide key improvements to both unfair dismissals and adverse action ‘general protections’ claims.

The report does propose is reforms to limit the ability of frivolous and vexatious claims to proceed, and for greater powers to award costs against applicants. While these will improve the existing system, it does not go to the heart of the issues being faced by employers having to respond to an ever increasing volume of claims.
We were particularly disappointed that our recommendation to remove the newly introduced ‘complaints’ element of the expansive general protections regime was not adopted, despite our analysis revealing only one successful case in over six years attracting coverage under the expanded legislation. Conversely, business has had to contend with thousands of complaints, with the added complexity of a reverse onus of proof.  The ability for an employee to later lodge proceedings against a business if they have made a complaint – any complaint - is ultimately being used and abused.

While employers are seeing success if defending these claims, it obviously comes at a great cost to a business to go through lengthy court proceedings, and commercial decisions to settle are a reality. Unfortunately, as long as this legislation remains in place, it seems that the thousands of claims against employers and an ongoing rise in ‘go away money’ is set to continue.

The report also misses the opportunity to recommend crucial changes to restrict access to unfair dismissal claims, including for small business exceptions, high income earners and genuine redundancy situations. By way of example, large businesses will continue to have different groups of risk for high income earners, depending on whether or not they are award or enterprise agreement covered. Currently, an award covered individual could earn well over the general cap of $137,600 and be eligible, with some awards and agreements seeing individuals paid well in excess of this able to access the low cost arena of the Fair Work Commission.


Q: You will be speaking at and chairing the next Workplace Relations practitioners forum – what do you see as the key learning opportunities for attendees?

What many practitioners find as they progress within their career, is that it becomes increasingly difficult to find opportunities to bounce ideas off peers or colleagues – often because they are employed in one of the highest positions within their own organisation. Workplace Relations is also a relatively small field.

This conference is a unique opportunity to hear ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’, from industry leaders, who will share some of the challenges and achievements that they have been a part of. Based on feedback from previous Akolade forums, the strong networking connections formed amongst delegates have also proved well worth the investment for the challenges that inevitably crop up throughout the year – being able to test thinking, or ask how a particular project element panned out, can save a considerable amount of time and energy involved in having to work through all options individually.


Finally, there is a fantastic array of speakers at this years forum. I am personally looking forward to hearing from ‘behind the scenes’ from businesses who have been involved in key initiatives, are leaders in their field – and in some cases seem to achieve the limitation of disputes through successfully managing their industrial relations platforms, in what are highly contentious industries and situations. 

Lisa Burrell is the General Manager of Workplace Relations at the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Lisa manages a team of over 20 Workplace Relations professionals, who are responsible for providing Vic Chamber services to both members and non-members including general advice, training and one-one consultancy and advocacy services across a range of HR and IR issues.
 
Lisa’s background includes work in a number of diverse employee relations roles having previously worked in public transport, tourism, state government and ASX listed companies, prior to joining the Vic Chamber in 2009.  Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts (Health and Behavioural Science) from the University of Wollongong as well as recently completing post graduate qualifications in Law (Workplace and Employment Law) from Monash University.

22 February 2016

Australian Unemployment Continues to Rise.

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Figures released in February show the seasonally adjusted employment rates stands at 298,300, or 2.6 per cent) higher than it was this time last year and well above the decade average of 1.8 percent. 

Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said the underlying trend of the Australian labour market continues to demonstrate encouraging resilience, despite facing international headwinds and share market turmoil.

"There is still considerable underlying strength in the labour market. The overall trend and the statistics show the Australian labour market is holding is holding up well," Minister Cash said.

"Participation has increased slightly to to 65.2 per cent, employment is higher than it was this time last year and we are seeing positive signs in relation to job vacancy figures."

Compare with January 2015, the ABS data shows over the past 12 months;
  • Total employment has rise by 298,300 or 2.6 percent
  • Full-time employment has increased by 157,800, or 2.0 per cent to stand at 8,185,800
  • Part-time employment has increased by 140,500 or 3.9 per cent to stand at a record high 3,708,700
  • Female employment has risen by 163,200 or 3.1 per cent.


While the figures are encouraging, the unemployment rate in Australia shows job growth is not as strong as it appears, with the seasonally adjusted estimate dropping marginally for the second month in a row. 

The reported jobless rate was 6.0 per cent for January 2015 - up from 5.8 the previous month - an improvement to this time last year when it was 6.3 per cent. 

If the trend continues to show the same pace of decline, it will shave a point from the unemployment rates every  two or three months, a rate of improvement which is sustainable would mean no need for the economy to be boosted by lower interest rates. 

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.

19 February 2016

Digital marketing: Changing the world, one click at a time

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As anyone in the marketing industry knows, the rules are currently being re-written right under our feet.

Long established strategies are no longer working as they used to and the move to faster, cheaper, digital marketing avenues is the only way organisations are going to stay abreast.

The digital environment is revolutionising all aspects of marketing, and marketing and branding experts are expected to embrace the digital blitz or be left behind. Though as the digital landscape continues to change, challenges certainly play a part.

CIO article describes common online marketing mistakes:

  1. Not having clear campaign goals
  2. Not targeting the right audience
  3. Not employing a customer-centric mindset
  4. Impersonal (or incorrect) personalisation
  5. Overlooking mobile
  6. Writing off email marketing
  7. Not doing A/B or split testing
  8. Being anti-social on social media
  9. Buying social media followers


Read the full article here, and gain some tips on what you can do to avoid making these mistakes.

One that stands out to me is employing a customer-centric mindset. Subsequently with digital marketing comes the new hot topic of customer experience.

Today consumers are more interactive and involved in their purchases and they seek to be informed, engaged and even entertained before buying.

“A recent report commissioned and published by customer experience software vendor SDL found that, “60% of global consumers are willing to pay more for a product if the brand delivered a positive customer experience.” Marketing Magazine article states.

Many of us can agree that we become loyal to a company when we experience a positive customer experience. Though as we continue to merge into new digital platforms, how do you continue this same level of customer experience?

“Innovation can be a tricky beast to tame, especially in the digital space. It’s far too easy to get excited about ideas early on and jump into a project without understanding what impact it may have. The real trick is to find the areas of your customer’s journey that are beginning to break down and focus on innovating around these areas.”


Embrace the digital marketing era and set clear what your company’s goals are that suit your customers.

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 February 2016

5 Dementia care tips

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There is no cure and current treatments aren’t conclusive. It’s the disease that directly affects 47.5 million people worldwide. Its impact on family and friends can be akin to that of the loss of a loved one.

Progress towards a cure date? On July 22nd at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, in Washington, DC, researchers from big pharmaceutical, Eli Lilly delivered a cutting edge presentation on the discovery of an antibody that slows down the illness’s progression. The antibody is called solanezumab. This is in no way a cure but it does provide some glimmer of hope for a future cure and treatment for this insidious disease.

What about provision of care? In Australia there is a new case diagnosed every 6 minutes. Such a rapid increase of cases is placing increasing pressure on the age care system. Under 65s are also being diagnosed with greater frequency.

People living with dementia exist in a vulnerable state. Many benefit from being in residential or community care and find the opportunities to interact with others residents or staff very positive. However, there are still many cases where the basic human rights of people have been compromised within aged care settings due to inexperience and lack of resources. The challenge for both residential and home care providers is to ensure the best quality of care is delivered to the increasing number of clients presenting with dementia.

What can age care providers do to ensure high quality of care is delivered?

Based on Akolade’s leading Dementia Strategy Summit (include hyperlink to microsite here) here are 5 organisational tips for providing optimal care to people dementia complex consumers:

1. Embed an effective governance structure in your organisation
  • Map the current governance approach that underpins your dementia care. Then build up your leadership capacity to support this structure and enable growth.
  • Remember to actively evaluate the success of your programs
2. Instill consumer directed care principles into your care

  • Embed ‘relationship centered’ dementia care throughout your organisation and emphasise quality of life as a key objective of all care provided
  • Develop 3 way partnerships with people living with dementia, their families and your organisation.

3. Develop front line workforce competency to ensure best dementia care is delivered on the ground

4. Optimise funding opportunities from the commonwealth funded dementia programmes

5. Leverage new technologies there are more ways than ever before that aged care providers can leverage technology to provide high quality care. This is not only a great way to strengthen quality of care but also to innovate and differentiate your care services.

Start by:

Looking for connected eHealth solutions

There are software providers that are now connecting aged care providers with the wider health care sector. This enables aged care providers to access vital health care history for their clients and can be enormously useful especially when dealing with clients suffering from memory loss.  

Download assistive apps for care staff

From virtual fence trackers to activity and heart rate monitors and advice on how to keep consumers safe around their home. Many apps are free or can be purchase

Utilise software to reduce medication errors

By using an effective medication management systems, aged care providers are able to dramatically reduce medication errors and eliminate missed signatures. When dealing with people living with dementia this can be a very useful tool.


For additional resources check out Alzheimers Australia NSW’s Quality Dementia Care Research and stay tuned for further details about Akolade’s upcoming 2016 Dementia Strategy Summit!

From a young age Luana wanted to become a teacher. She would line up her teddies in a row and teach them for hours on end. However, she eventually grew tired of their nonchalance and has ended up leading a team of producers instead- which she finds far more fulfilling and stimulating!  
Luana comes from an experienced production and management background. She has produced and topic generated events across Asia and Australia.

Luana enjoys learning about emerging trends and drivers for change and loves the notion of the 'butterfly effect'- that change can start small but grow immeasurably through a ripple effect.

17 February 2016

Australian lonely hearts defrauded of $22.7 million in 2015

Author :

In the lead up to Valentine's Day, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warned the online dating community to watch out for any love interest asking them for money. 

The ACCC reported 2,620 Australians reported losing almost $23 million to dating and romance scams in 2015. 

"Romance scams continue to cause significant emotional and financial harm to the community. We know these figures are only the tip of the iceberg as many victims are reluctant to admit to friends, family or authorities they fell for a scam," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. 

"Scammers are experts at preying on people's weaknesses and will spend months and even years grooming victims and lowering their defences. Inevitably, the fraudster will spin a tall tale about why they suddenly need your financial help, ranging from medical emergencies to failed business ventures to needing to rebook flights to visit you."

"Once victims realise their admirer is actually a criminal, the emotional consequences are devastating. This is why disrupting relationship scams continues to be a priority for the ACCC," Ms Rickard said. 


Image supplied by scamwatch.gov.au 



The ACCC's Scam Disruption Project has sent over 6,000 letters asking individuals who sent money to high risk jurisdictions to reconsidering sending money offshore. 75 per cent of those who received these letters ceased sending money for at least six weeks.

"Nearly one quarter of reported romance scams originate on social media, particularly on Facebook," Ms Rickard continued. "The ACCC is looking to work with social media platforms to keep romance scammers off their sites and to help users recognise when they are being scammed." 

Press Release: $22.7 million lost to dating scams in 2015

As the world moves increasing into an online environment, the importance of understanding how to protect yourself from unscrupulous people determined to take advantage of you has never been more important. 

Akolade is pleased to announce the 5th Annual Australian Fraud Summit 2016 returns to Sydney in May 2016. With international guests, expert discussions from leaders in both the private and public sectors, and the latest insights into preventing, detecting and investing fraud, Akolade's 5th Annual Australian Fraud Summit 2015 is the one fraud event in Australia you can't miss in 2016. 

Registrations are now open, For further information on the conference, topics or speakers, 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. Mike’s first published work will be the short story Seeds of Eden, in the Sproutlings Anthology scheduled for release in March 2016.

16 February 2016

What is the value of EQ within your business?

Author :

Having worked in the conference industry almost 6 years now, I’ve come to realise that how I respond to my emotions has a major influence on my ability to work effectively with others. And working in a highly competitive, deadline driven and stressful environment, the ability to harness the power of my emotions to create significant connections with others and be a positive influence can sometimes be a challenge.


Leadership at its core is an invitation to a future that is better than today. People willingly follow leaders who have a strong sense of optimism and aspire to bring the very best to this endeavour. To grow and develop as a leader, we need to be able to grow and develop our emotional intelligence. Over the years, I have learnt to implement these four key dimensions; self-awareness, personal mastery, leadership connections and influencing others into my daily work life.


Self-awareness is when you’re aware of your emotions and how your emotions may impact on your life. For example; by nature, I have a short temper and can sometimes allow it to get the better of me. However, I’ve come to accept that things don’t usually go as planned and I’ve learnt to not allow my performance as a Manager is affected by frustration and anger.  When it’s close to handing in my conference program on deadline week, I am calm as a cucumber and not a frantic mess.

Secondly, I’ve recognised that I don’t need to be a slave to my emotions and have developed different techniques to help replace my emotional patterns that do not serve me well with the ones that do. In other words, through conscious choice and creation of new thinking habits, you can master your emotions and rewire the way your brain responds to your emotions.  

The third dimension is leadership connections. This process begins with a leaders’ ability to accurately perceive the emotions of others and understand their immediate reactions and behaviours. This is not about being sensitive to others. It’s getting firmly into their shoes and tightening up their laces. It means thinking and feeling as others think and feel. Even though you think and feel differently. I’ve learnt that having empathy is simply not enough. To create profound connections, you must demonstrate your willingness to open up your own personal agendas and commit to being of service to others.

The fourth and final dimension is influencing others. Put simply, moods matter. If you are positive and upbeat, you inject energy and passion into your organisation. If you are pessimistic and gloomy, you suck the energy and passion out of your organisation. Which one are you?

In summary, emotional intelligence just means blending your rational side with your emotional side. In these times with increasing complexities, increasing stress, increasing pressure, emotional demands are growing. As the demands increase, we also have to now intentionally and deliberately learn and practice these skills so that we can be effective in the environment that we’ve created. 

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.