31 August 2016

Why we need more Indigenous Australians to work in mental healthcare

Author :

Intentional self-harm among Indigenous Australians aged 15-24 is 5.2 times the rate among non-Indigenous Australians, and the suicide rate for Indigenous Australians is 2.6 times the rate for non-Indigenous Aussies, with some victims being as young as eight.

Since the 1980’s, Indigenous suicides and mental health issues have been on the rise, escalating in an increasingly worrying speed.

But this has not always been the case; in fact, suicide among Indigenous communities in pre-colonial times hardly existed.

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 found that since the colonisation, Indigenous Australians are exposed to a history of forcibly separation from families and children, as well as racism, alienation and exclusion. The Commission also found that many Indigenous Australians suffer from interconnected issues of cultural dislocation and personal trauma.

It’s been 27 years since the Royal Commission was released, and yet, Indigenous mental health is as much of an issue now as then, if not more so.

The recent broadcast of the ABC’s Four Corners, which showed the extreme torture youth are exposed to in detention centres, has again put Indigenous mental health in the spotlight, and has called for yet another Royal Commission.

With Indigenous mental health being such a nationwide issue, it would only make sense that there were resources in the Australian health services to assist the Indigenous population. However, these resources are shockingly poor.

Mental health services need to recruit more Indigenous Australians, who are better equipped to assist Indigenous patients. The services also need to better support an Indigenous workforce. They need to understand their culture and adapt the working arrangements to their individual responsibilities, providing them with further flexibility.

Mainstream mental health providers also need to train and educate their non-Indigenous staff to better understand and relate to the Indigenous culture. This is vital, especially when giving an Indigenous Australian a diagnosis. For example, in Indigenous communities mental illness may be seen as a ‘soreness of the spirit’.

In some instances, hallucination is considered part of the culture, but persistent auditory hallucinations are not as often seen as culturally based and would instead indicate a mental disorder. However, not fully understanding the Indigenous culture can lead to a patient getting the wrong diagnosis.
The key for non-Indigenous mental health workers is having a well-rounded approach and being able to consider both cultural and medical aspects to make an appropriate judgement.

If we want to have a chance to battle the increasing mental health issues in Indigenous communities, we need to start looking at the services we provide and make sure they are culturally adapted for Indigenous Australians. 

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

30 August 2016

Can tired workers be productive workers?

Author :

Sleep. It should be such a simple thing. We do it every day and all it takes to do it is lying down and closing your eyes.

Yet if the Internet is to believed, it’s not simple at all. A Google search for “how to sleep better” yields 317 million results. A seemingly endless list of articles and blogs offer tips for falling asleep quickly, sleeping longer and getting better quality sleep. Clearly it’s something we as a society struggle with. The Guardian perhaps puts it best, saying we are in the midst of an “exhaustion epidemic”.

This is an issue, because the benefits of sleep, and the problems caused by not getting enough, are well documented. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, being awake for 17 hours is equivalent to having a blood alcohol rating of 0.05. Safety and Health Wellbeing Magazine reports “inadequate sleep can affect workers’ ability to remain healthy and perform their work safely – and in safety-sensitive positions, can even put others in harm’s way.” 

Business Insider reports that sleep increases productivity at work, reduces the likelihood of making risky financial decisions and can even make you more articulate.

My first job when I left high school was as a wardsman at a large private hospital in Sydney. Any hospital worker knows the hours can be gruelling. It wasn’t unusual for me to work from 7am until 11pm, then back it up with another 7am start. It’s just part of the culture, and it definitely took its toll on workers after a while. This job helped me appreciate the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Recently I’ve taken on a new job which has driven this message home even more: I became a parent for the first time. My beautiful baby daughter is an absolutely joy and already I couldn’t imagine life without her. I will admit, however, I miss the sleep. It’s been at least six months since I slept through the night, and I’ve experienced a new level of tiredness I didn’t know existed.

Of course, this is something I expected, but I didn’t account for how difficult it would be not just to get up and go to the office every morning, but to maintain productivity and keep performing to the best of my ability. It’s not easy to do while sleep deprived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still hitting my KPIs and haven’t had any complaints from my manager, but there are days it’s a real struggle.
I’m not alone in this.

One parent in my LinkedIn network spoke about her efforts to remain productive and clear headed at work after her daughter was born.

“I tried as much as possible to get out of the office for at least 15 mins each day to recharge the batteries. A simple walk to get lunch or a coffee, or even having a meeting over coffee out of the office helped,” she said.

Another spoke about the strategies he and his partner employed when they became parents.

“For us the key was being clear on sharing night time duties. We took turns at parental leave (six months each). So the non-working parent would do Monday-Thursday night as the parent getting up at night, the working parent did Friday-Sunday night. Not perfect, but helped get through the day,” he said.

I know parents aren’t the only ones who feel tired at work. In fact, the Huffington Post reported 76 per cent of workers feel tired most days of the week. That’s a huge majority of workers who aren’t as productive or effective as they could be – clearly something workplaces need to work on.

Christian Berechree joined Akolade’s production team in May 2016. He has a Bachelor of Media and Music and a Masters in Journalism.

Christian is a musical theatre geek and a new dad, and he’ll happily spend hours telling you about either or both of those things.

29 August 2016

Reporting more traumatic than the crime

Author :

Last year Australians lost $45 million to online scams yet it remains one of the least reported crimes.
Surveys have revealed that only a third of all victims of online scams and fraud report the crime in an official capacity.

Often the experience of reporting is as traumatic as the victimisation itself and the barriers facing the targeted individual prevent justice from being achieved.

Oh, the shame

There is often a stigma associated with falling victim to online fraud with a common attitude being that they brought the experience on themselves. The tendency to blame online fraud victims results in their reluctance to report the crime.

In an interview quoted on The Conversation, a victim revealed his experience: “I expect [the police] to be sympathetic, but these two police guys, they just laugh, I was humiliated […] I submitted a police report, and I made a statement and they tell me ‘we cannot do anything about this with you and your lover boy in [overseas country], you just write to Scamwatch’.”

It’s not just the money

The impacts of online scams can reach further than your bank account. Victims often experience depression, turbulence in personal relationships and unemployment. There are limited specialised support services available for victims of online scams and fraud.

Where do you file your report?

From reporting to consumer protection agencies to officially reporting with police, victims often feel overwhelmed by their options and ultimately fail to act at all. Victims may also find themselves on a ‘merry-go-round’ of responses, being sent from one agency to the next. Telling their story repeatedly to no avail results in increased frustration and ultimately lost faith in the justice system.

When I asked police which avenue was best to report through, they directed me to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network. As the name suggests, ACORN allows you to securely report cybercrime incidents online and includes an education portal aimed to address the crime before it occurs. 

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

26 August 2016

File sharing: a Swedish religion

Author :

Worshiping at the ‘Apple Chapel’ is nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek expression for most of us, but Sweden is literally putting its faith to technology.

In 2012 the Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet officially registered the Church of Kopimism as a religion organisation. The church professes that “information is holy and copying is a sacrament.”

“A religion is a belief system with rituals,” the Church’s website reads.The missionary kopimistsamfundet is a religious group centered in Sweden who believe that copying and the sharing of information is the best and most beautiful that is. To have your information copied is a token of appreciation, that someone think you have done something good.”

The church recognises CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols and believes in the open distribution of knowledge to all.

According to the organisation, “information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains, and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore, copying is central for the organization and its members.” They regularly hold “Kopyactings”, religious services in which they share information with each other via copying.

Over 2002-2008, file sharing accounted for 40-60% of all bandwidth usage, according to Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf (2009:12). It’s in our phones, on our computers, on our TV screens and filtered through our lives.

Civilization is the direct result of the human need to share. Michael Tomasello, the Max Planck Institute, claims that we exist as we do because of our tendency for “collective cognition.”

Whilst we may not have been baptised into the Church of Kopimism, by being born into this era we are born to worship a digital deity. The Swedes have embraced the worship of the exchange of information, how long will it be until the rest of the world realises that we do too?

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

25 August 2016

Why hospitals need to innovate

Author :

It’s official: Our hospitals are facing more demand than they can handle.

In some parts of Melbourne, emergency departments are “being deluged with hundreds more patients than they were at the same time last year,” according to The Age. State-wide, Victorian hospitals treated 400, 985 patients between April and June. This is 15, 581 more than were treated in the same period last year. Some hospitals experienced a 15 per cent increase in patient intake.

The story is no different in Tasmania. At the Royal Hobart and Launceston General hospitals, elective surgeries have been cancelled due to “bed block”, the ABC reported. Neroli Ellis, Australian Nursing Federation secretary, said patients were facing unacceptable waiting times for treatment.

"Our hospitals have got huge bed block and huge hours, or days waiting in emergency departments," Ms Ellis said.

"The bottom line is we haven't got enough capacity to meet our needs in Tasmania, and that means we need to open more beds.”

This isn’t a surprise to me, but it confirms what I suspected. A few months ago I conducted extensive research into Australia’s hospital system. One of the key considerations for hospital managers was Australia’s rapidly growing and ageing population. Hospitals have been bracing themselves for inevitably increased demand on their services but I didn’t see the actual numbers until now.

Increased and often unmanageable demand creates a number of issues for hospitals. The Tasmanian example shows that patient wait time goes up as the hospital resources available are quickly outweighed by the number of people requiring access to them.

There are other implications, including the amount of time doctors and nurses are able to spend with patients as the number of patients grow. Fiona Stanley Hospital and several other major hospitals in Perth performed poorly on patient and staff satisfaction surveys, according to Perth Now. Notably, the score for length of time doctors spent with patients feel 6 per cent below target.

Dr Nikki Stamp, a heart surgeon, wrote on the Huffington Post about the tragic errors that take place in hospitals, including those leading to the death of patients. Dr Stamp listed a number of factors behind these errors including “time, systems, equipment or resources”. It’s not much of a stretch to make the connection between Dr Stamp’s observations and increased strain on hospital staff brought about by a growing number of patients.

South Metropolitan Health Service chief executive Dr Robyn Lawrence put it best when he said “the hospitals’ executive and I have significant work to do”. He’s not wrong: All hospital executives and managers have to work hard to keep up with increased patient flow. They need to look for new systems and innovative approaches, otherwise the problems of wait times and inflated costs will only grow.

To contribute to this important conversation, Akolade has put together the Innovations in Hospital Management Forum, to be held 18-20 October in Sydney.

It’s the only conference on the market bringing together nothing but executive-level hospital leaders.

The event presents case studies on some of the most forward-thinking and transformational hospital projects in Australia, including Central Adelaide Local Health Network chief executive Julia Squire speaking about SA Health’s Transforming Health Agenda and the New Royal Adelaide Hospital development. Emma Clarke, Director of Innovation and Redesign at Western Sydney Local Health District will present on the innovative work being done at some of Sydney busiest hospitals, Westmead and Blacktown.

We know hospitals are facing problems that need solutions. The Innovations in Hospital Management Forum is the event to attend to hear about the solutions that work. I look forward to seeing you there.

Christian Berechree joined Akolade’s production team in May 2016. He has a Bachelor of Media and Music and a Masters in Journalism.

Christian is a musical theatre geek and a new dad, and he’ll happily spend hours telling you about either or both of those things.

24 August 2016

The unlikely work colleague

Author :

It is easy to feel demotivated, stressed and tired at work. Have you found a way to combat these problems yet?

Some Australian workplaces have adopted an increasingly popular method of easing the tensions in the workplace. It includes some fur, some barking, a wet nose, a tail and four legs.

Many companies are now introducing pets in the workplace to boost morale in the workplace. These unlikely colleagues will occasionally let out a bark, run around the office wagging their tail, however a study in 2012 has shown employees have reported feeling less stressed around pets in the office as well as helping to spark conversations between employees, including those who don’t typically talk to each other.

Steven Fledman, Executive Director of Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, said that employees are happier with pets around the office as they feel supported by their employers and are more likely to collaborate and work in teams.

In Sydney’s Purina office, the country business manager stated that he has seen staff relax as soon as a pet approaches them. He has also said there’s been some heated meetings with other departments, however the atmosphere changes as soon as a dog or cat walk into the room and sometime resulting in a change in conversation.

Almost half the employees who brought dogs to the office reported an increase in productivity however there’s been no report of decrease in productivity for those who did not bring their beloved pets to work.

Many employees sit and work for long hours during the day, by having a dog in the office, it reminds the staff to take a short break from their tiring work and go out for a short walk and come back refreshed. 

Employees have also said that they would never dread coming into the office if they had their furry friends with them.  The Brooklyn, a New York based company said that office pets help to lift the spirits and gives a sense of community and connection between the employees.

In Sydney’s Purina office, they have found that pets have helped to attract new talent as well as retain their employees.

With all these benefits, are you going to introduce your furry friends into the workplace?

To finish off, here’s a picture of my favourite work friend from my previous role, Blue, hard at work.

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 pets; a cat and a dog. 

23 August 2016

Redundancies – don’t risk costly repercussions to your organisation

Author :

As tough economic times are forcing corporations across Australia to lay off staff in mass redundancies, HR professionals must successfully navigate an employment law minefield, or risk costly repercussions for their companies.

Recently, Australia’s workforce is reeling from a string of corporate redundancies, such as the death of retail giant Dick Smith which saw 3,000 jobs lost from its Australian and New Zealand operations, while mining giant Rio Tinto is expected to slash up to 700 local jobs from its WA operations in coming months.

Fairfax Media had shared plans to cut 120 editorial jobs and newspaper reports claim that telco giant Optus plans to axe about 1,000 workers in a $215 million cost-cutting exercise.

Employers must ensure that any redundancies are fair and lawful, by complying with the terms of each individual employment contract. Any employers that fail to comply with these obligations can be slapped with a range of penalties, from individual claims for unfair dismissal or breach of contract to larger claims regarding breaches of civil remedy provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

Returning to 2016 is Akolade’s 11thWorkplace Law Fundamentals seminar, brings together some of Australia’s leading law firms and in house counsel’s to share best strategies to overcome complex workplace issues.

This year’s conference examines recent case law examples to explain imminent changes and develop practical and legal information required to mitigate the risk of workplace claims and disputes.

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.

22 August 2016

What can you do to improve patient flow in your Emergency Department?

Author :

The Royal Melbourne Hospital is Victoria’s second largest public health service. The hospital receives more emergency ambulance transports than any other hospital in the state. Last year, there were a total of 65793 patient attendances and close to 30000 inpatient admissions seen at the hospital. Therefore, a new model of care was designed and implemented to improve patient flow with the ED.

Professor George Braitberg, Director of Emergency Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital recently sat down with us to share some of the hospital’s successful implementations, particularly, the newly created 6 bed behavioural assessment unit to cater for the care of substance affected patients and mental health problems.

Please give a brief overview of what your session will cover at Improving Patient Flow in Emergency Departments 2016?

The Behavioural Assessment Unit (BAU) was designed to improve the care of patients with acute behavioural disturbance due to any cause; mental health, dual diagnosis, drug usage, acute drug toxicity and/or psychosocial problems. The area is nursed appropriately to care for patients post chemical restraint, post overdose and all staff are trained in de-escalation techniques. Our emergency mental health clinicians and addiction medicine clinician have been co-located in the unit.

The unit improves flow by freeing up general ED cubicles for this challenging cohort of patients. By providing monitoring facilities and ALS trained nurses patients do not spend long periods of time in resuscitation and monitored ED cubicles. In addition police and paramedics can take appropriate patients directly to the area and bypass an ED cubicle altogether.

What do you consider to be the key focus areas for development in your area of patient flow and patient centred models?

BAU facilitates a team approach to a challenging but increasing cohort of patients. The unit is designed around patient needs, taken from the “behavioural” perspective not the diagnosis.

What are the main challenges in these areas of development?

The main challenge was to ensure there was a collective understanding of the aims of the unit and in particular what it was not – it was not a secluded mental health ward or a psychiatry unit.

What are your priorities for the 6-12months ahead?

Bed down the unit – ensure that the appropriate cohort is consistently identified and staff are confident to move patients into the area from triage.

What will be the key takeaways from your session?

How to transition from a thought bubble to a new model of care.

Professor Braitberg will be speaking at Akolade’s Improving Patient Flow in Emergency Departments Forum being held on the 28th-30th September 2016 in Melbourne.

Don’t miss his practical case study on examining the success of 6 newly created bed behavioural assessment units as he shares with us how to improve quality and safety of patients, develop and encourage strategic relationships, and foster a culture of innovation.

19 August 2016

Australia's Prime Minister "Kanyed" at First Major Appearance Since the 2016 Election

Author :

In 2009, Rapper Kanye West interrupted the acceptance speech of singer Taylor Swift when she was accepting the VMA for Best Female Video. Whether he meant to or not he went down in infamy and his name alone now stands for being interrupted.

On Wednesday, in his first major economic address since winning a one-seat majority in the July election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was Kayned, by a handful of asylum seeker protesters.

In the opening minute of his speech, attention in the room (and those watching the broadcast live on TV and the Internet) was instantly diverted as a protester climbed up on the stage holding what has to be the most Australian protest poster ever.

FFS Close the Bloody Camps.

While others in the crowd chanted and heckled the Prime Minister, the protester on stage stood with her poster held aloft. I can't tell you what the PM was talking about, from reading articles earlier in the day it was basically a rehash of the Government's economic plan from the election anyway, but I can tell you what that poster said.

And honestly, that's the problem. 

In the 24/7 social media driven world of today's media, there is no attention span. The country - and it's journalist - live on a steady diet of sound bytes, snippets and the latest witty memes. I have read a lot in the media - both mainstream and non-mainstream - over the past couple of years lamenting the 'birth of the 3-word slogan" but it seems anything more than 3 words at a time is beyond a lot of the populations attention span.

A year or so ago I sat in a Sydney Boardroom and listened to then ABC Head of News, Kate Torney discuss the loss of fact checking and the increased need for 'the next headline' in a society now demanding instant, up-to-date coverage. She spoke passionately about the time before social media, about how politicians in the days before Twitter were able to deliver clear, outlined policies and the media was able to dissect them, research them and fact chat them before they were released in one of the days 2 newspaper editions. 

Today however, the luxury of time has gone and with it the ability for the media to paint a clear picture, preferring instead to prop up the inane, the trivial in the drive for ratings, and clicks. Click bait headlines are preferred over in-depth pieces. And while this isn't all the media, the lack of attention paid to the news being delivered is starting to show. 

You don't have to look back to far to be able to find examples of how easy it is for the Australia's media to change the narrative. 

In the lead up to the 2010 election, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a comment that would be drawn out time and again, used as a bludgeon to prove her unfit for office. Then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott crowd it from roof tops, in front of every media camera and microphone he could find. It proved her to be a liar, the nickname Juliar comes from that time. 

The comment, which would later prove to be the best tool in the Opposition arsenal was simple.
"There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, let me be clear."

Those 15 words are now rather infamous.

They are also inaccurate.

As the Prime Minister was vilified from one side of the country, no one in the mainstream media bothered to stop and hold the Opposition Leader to account. No one said "Mr Abbott, that is not correct."

Instead the media and the shock-jocks ran with witticisms such as; Juliar and Bob Brown's Bitch. Sydney shock-jock Alan Jones said straight out that Prime Minister Gillard's father had died of shame from having a daughter who could lie so badly. And no-one with the power to do anything bothered to think beyond the click bait.

The full quote from the television commerical was:

 "There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but let me be clear. I will be putting a price on carbon and I will move to an emissions trading scheme." 

In September 2015 Malcolm Turnbull gave the following as his reason for rolling Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the back bench.

 "It is clear enough that the Government is not successful in providing the economic leadership that we need.... We need advocacy, not slogans. We need to respect the intelligence of the Australian people."

And yet, the 2016 election was all slogans. Jobs and Growth, Continuity and Change. Perfect policy for the social media age. Even Labor's campaign to protect Medicare got the journalistic boffins in a frenzy when someone came up with MediScare. 

On Wednesday the Prime Minister's message was again ignored. Lost in a sea of tweets, and news bulletins that focused only on the protesters. I saw a lot of news coverage - both online and off  - and there was next to nothing about the Prime Minister's economic address at the CEDA Melbourne Lunch.

The media were instead shocked that a middle-aged woman would hold up a sign with FFS on it. 

The main message from the PM's speech never had the change to resonate because it was destined to be ignored for the juicy protesters scandal instead. 

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 most recently published story, Seeds of Eden, is featured in the Sproutlings Anthology released in March 2016. Mike is also editing the Anthology – Community: Tales of the LGBTI scheduled for release in June 2017.

18 August 2016

Boys, trading nude photos without consent is a crime.

Author :

I can't believe anyone has to say this. Boys, trading nude photos of women (and under age girls) without their consent is a crime. 

While Australian's grapple with the undeniable need for better policies surrounding reducing domestic violence how do we, as a nation, address the forever rising incidences of domestic violence and sex assault?

Yesterday media organisation news.com.au broke the horrific story of a website dedicated to swapping and buying nude photographs of high school girls. 

The unnamed website has been repeatedly reported to Australian authorities, however as it is hosted overseas the police have been quoted as saying "there is nothing they can do about it."

The site is believed to cover more than 70 Australian high schools from across the country, with the sites users posting requests for nude images of various young women. The site, according to the news article, contains thousands of images ranging from close up nude photos to images of young high school girls engaging in sexual conduct. Most of the young women who are on the site have no idea they are even being featured. 

This latest scandal follows the recent Melbourne Grammar Video scandal, which showed a Year 12 student instructing his peers not to choose any girl under a rating of 7 to be their date at a school formal. The casual sexism of the video drew condemnation from Melbourne Grammar Alumni including prominent Barrister and Human-Rights advocate Julian Burnside.

"Bad behaviour by kids at school is not something uncommon and is not something new." he was quoted as saying at the time. "But if we think we treat women equally in Australia we're simply deluding ourselves."

Sadly, neither of these two situations are alone. In another shocking revelation from The AGE, Brighton Grammar - another exclusive private school in Victoria - came under fire for an Instagram account that had been set up by students to invite them to vote for the "Slut of the Year." The Instagram account, which led to two Year 11 students being expelled, featured images of girls (the youngest being only 11 years of age) without their consent.

The Instagram account, which was deleted, it is currently under investigation by the Police and the school moved to reassure the community it was addressing the issue.

"The posting of last Friday is anathema to everything we stand for at Brighton Grammar, however, given it happened I have contacted one of Australia's leading cyber educators and plan to meet with her very soon to review our current programs of educating the boys and provide guidance to parents on matters relevant to social media and the online world," said Brighton Grammar Headmaster Ross Featherstone at the time of the incident.

The Mother of one of the young girls first raised the situation when it came to her attention her daughter (who is in Grade 6) was featured on the Instagram account. The mother said it wasn't an isolated incident and she had screen shots of numerous offensive messages the same boys sent to other young girls in the past. 

At the root of the issue is the casual sexism and misogyny inherent in the Australian population. As I wrote in a recent article on this blog, it is not all men. It is not all families. But frankly, that means nothing. If you dismiss this sort of issue as "them" not "us" you are a as culpable of the long-term damage as those who perpetrate it.

What is becoming of our country when a young girl who is in Year 6 can't walk home from school without someone taking photos of her and posting her image on an Instagram account labeling her a candidate for Slut of the Year?

What is becoming of our country when young women can't attend High School without having men paying others to hunt down naked photos of them and having those moments posted on the internet without thought of the consequences?

In an article yesterday about the latest website scandal, the paper quoted young women who had found themselves on the sight asking for their images to be removed, only to have the male posters directly blaming the victims for being "sluts". Erasing images from the internet is a next to impossible task. 

In a follow up article yesterday, Australian National University cyber-crime expert Roderic Broadhurst said it's often impossible to get the photos offline or catch those behind the sites.

"There's no control, no guarantee of getting them (the images) back. These young women possibly have to live with the fact these images are out there forever."

Cold comfort indeed, to the more than 2000 young girls from the 70+ schools featured in yesterday's article. 

The Australian Federal Police is currently investigating the website with both their local and international law enforcement partners to "evaluate this matter and determine an appropriate course of action."

This is not another case of "boys will be boys." This is heinous violation of the privacy of these young women. Their photographs are posted without their permission, their bodies suddenly available to anyone with a mouse and a lap top. 

Given the ages of High School girls in Australia, this is also Child Pornography. 

"It is important to note that creating, accessing or distributing child pornography is a serious offence, even if you are child yourself," an AFP spokeswoman told Fairfax Media yesterday.

"Child pornography offences have a maximum penalty of 15 years' imprisonment."

It is time that the Australian public drew a line in the sand.

This behaviour is unacceptable. It is time we as a nation demanded policy makers, governments, educators and parents stepped up to the plate and taught their sons what respect means.

If we, as a nation, continue to allow things like this to slide with a sigh, or a weary shake of the head, then all the talk in the world about stopping domestic violence and treating women equally will be for nothing.

Are we as a nation willing to sit back and watch another generation of domestic abusers get their first taste of dehumanising women?

Would these same boys be as amused if the photographs were of their mothers, sisters or nieces?

Would these same boys be as amused if the roles were reversed and it was their nude images being shared without their consent for anyone on the internet to find?

It's not a difficult concept and those whose primary responsibility is the education of the next generation (both teachers and parents) need to start doing more, and need to start teaching that all actions have consequences. 

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 most recently published story, Seeds of Eden, is featured in the Sproutlings Anthology released in March 2016. Mike is also editing the Anthology – Community: Tales of the LGBTI scheduled for release in June 2017.

17 August 2016

That time I was famous on LinkedIn

Author :

I have had my share of bad jobs. The kind that made me groan to wake up in the morning at the thought of going to work. Jobs that felt like they were going nowhere and had no obvious redeemable features.

Thankfully that’s not the situation I’m in now. I love my job and the company I work for (and I’m not just saying that because I’m writing on said company’s blog). I look back on those awful jobs almost fondly – they definitely taught me a lot and ultimately helped me get where I am.

Given my experience with bad jobs, my ears perked up when I heard someone complaining about their job on the train the other day. I was pretty taken by what they had to say and decided to post the following on LinkedIn:

“A person behind me on the train complained about their boss, colleagues and workplace nonstop from Chatswood to Hornsby. It wasn't irritating, it was interesting and got me thinking.

1. Your boss and company culture, good or bad, make all the difference.
2. Why do people stay in jobs or workplaces they clearly can't stand? I know there are reasons but I'm certain the stress and dissatisfaction can't be worth it.”

It was the first time I had ever posted anything on LinkedIn and I expected it might get one or two likes from friends or colleagues. Turns out it received a lot more interest than that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking viral levels on engagement, just a relatively modest 48 likes and 19 comments (plus some replies). But it definitely drove home the fact that a lot of people are, or have been, unhappy with their jobs. Here’s what some people had to say:

“People stay stuck in what they know. Misery is comfortable – change and improving your situation is not. I wouldn’t underestimate the power of denial either – you can whinge endlessly about your job and still not be able to admit that you’re not happy, as that necessitates doing something about it.”

“I don’t want to deny that there are far too many bad workplaces and poor managers, but this person is deeply stuck in their own victim-hood.”

“It’s an employer’s marketing. What choice does a worker have? Bills to pay. No time to even consider chasing another job where you may not be better off anyway.”

Some people offered advice for those stuck in jobs they can’t stand:

“Ultimately we are our own agents for changes. In any situation you can choose to accept it, change it or remove yourself from it.”

“Always interesting to consider who is listening and it is a waster opportunity not to consider the others in the train as the link to their next job.”

“If a person is unhappy in their position they should change jobs. If they decide to do nothing, then they should stop complaining and accept it, because an employer will not change for you.”

While this is all very interesting and made me feel like an internet celebrity for a couple of day, there are some important points to be made about job satisfaction. According to a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD), “almost one in four workers were looking to leave their jobs because of the failure of managers to engage and retain staff.” Job satisfaction is linked directly to productivity, staff retention, loyalty and general health and wellbeing.

With so many employees apparently unhappy, workplaces clearly need to do something to get them back on track. It’s tempting to think throwing money at the problem will help, but unfortunately it’s not that easy – according CIPD, remuneration is not necessarily linked with job satisfaction.

So what can be done to make work a less painful experience for employees? Here are a few proven methods, according to the good people at 15Five, Small Business and Chart Your Course:

Create a positive work environment

This will look different for every workplace, but find out what your gets your employees out of bed in the morning and offer that. Don’t make assumptions – not everyone wants a foosball table or vending machines.

Engage staff to evaluate satisfaction levels

On the subject of not making assumptions, don’t just assume staff are happy because they’re not saying anything. Ask them and find out what’s really going on. Be strategic and purposeful about this.

Recognise and reward your employees

I’ve heard so many stories of people having their contributions overlooked or their achievements attributed to someone else. Make sure credit is given where credit’s due.

Treat all team members with respect

This might sound like common sense but unfortunately it’s all too common for workplaces to have a culture of criticising team members and gossiping. Treat every member of your team with respect to make them feel valued and appreciated.

Provide training and advancement opportunities

PROVIDE, don’t just PROMISE. I can’t tell you how many “6 months from now…” conversations I’ve had. Inevitably, 6 months turns into 12, which turns into 18 and I quickly realise I’m going nowhere. I know I’m not alone in this and it’s a big part of why people just give up on companies.

Don’t be a workplace full of grumblers and complainers. Be somewhere people can’t wait to go each day.

Christian Berechree joined Akolade’s production team in May 2016. He has a Bachelor of Media and Music and a Masters in Journalism.

Christian is a musical theatre geek and a new dad, and he’ll happily spend hours telling you about either or both of those things.