Gravity (for Jay – 2018)

Soft has moved in wearing fluffy slippers and refuses to leave. I remain unaccustomed to this spongy emotional self.

Hollowness was my closest companion for most of the early years.

In the driest place on Earth, where rootless mould has no purchase, between the last incident and then, the emptiness swallowed me.

I trusted no one, even myself.

Grief, I knew too clearly. The boomerang of trauma relived.

Unable to out run it or prize away the clawing fingers of childhood abuse, I chose the comfort of the dry.

In the firm flesh days of womanhood, I started to interrogate myself, whispering ‘how do you feel?’ A death star ‘fuck you’ glare and a single word echo.


I persisted, tapping at my temples, drilling for feeling, until God was let back in.

Time tumbled-weeded by, rocking the scales of struggle and gain.

And then your first-born innocence saved me.

Kicking back against the dryness, I toed the weak spot.

It crumbled dust-like and scattered on the wind.

The days of the long dry, are gone.

Forever more, at the slightest display of human kindness, I leak tears.

Like a busted suitcase, my private grief in jumbled exposure.

I cry for lost innocence. I cry for the power of hope. I cry in pain.

There are fleeting moments, when I yearn for the hollowness.

It is what it is.

Space cold. Pitch black.

It promises nothing and delivers the same.

Fear has carved a permanent scar, for cruelty is truly learned.

We do as we see, often bruised by what has been done to us, especially that which is done, so wrongfully.

I hold fast to the reins of forgiveness, forgiving myself first, then others.

Vanquishing swirling thoughts of deep shame, I remind my inconsequential self, that being human, means to learn, by trial and error.

I wear the crown of worthiness as my divine right.

I have loved some people too deeply. Some not enough. Some didn’t deserve my devotion and some I have short-changed.

Now I love only those that embrace the imperfect fragile me, and who act with loving kind intent. I place a firm boundary around the rest.

They are brumbies. Too wild, to truly trust.

I have let go.

Let go of the constructed ego, let go of competing for acceptance in a world that values coin and perishable things, for this illusion is the siren song of the shallow.

Peel back the silky film of truth about this too, too simple life.

Love is all that truly matters.

Seek it, give it, receive it. Repeat.

Seek it, give it, accept it. Repeat.

First and always first, love your imperfect self.

This is God’s gravity.


My Warrior Friend ( Juliette 19 Dec 2018)

My Warrior Friend

Before you died, a thunder of horses bolted across the night sky.

I am bereft, and my dog knows it, lying silently at my feet.

I weep openly, unashamed to love, for I know what treasure I have lost.

The wheels have spun, chores have been done.
I waltz on, despite the bony pinch of pain.

I have tried in vain, to bind you to this earth.
Tell the ferryman to still the oars.
Hold on, until your sister is near.

The war of honourable refusal is done.
In the end, tiptoeing away, to lie in graceful repose.

I pray for angels to light your way home, my warrior friend.

Phishing for reasons to opt out of My Health Record?

Trusting any government or non-government source to secure personal data is of concern to many people. It is well known that such breaches in personal data can have disastrous outcomes. It is not surprising that dark web identity hackers would find the My Health Record, an enticing challenge.

Australians have been waging a war against the ‘Australia card’ and various incarnations, since it was first raised at a national Tax Summit in 1985.

The objective then, was to amalgamate other government identification systems to act against tax avoidance and health and welfare fraud. The legislation was introduced in the parliament in 1986 but failed to gain a majority in the Senate and was repeatedly blocked by the opposition and minor parties.

Enter the tax file number scheme, which enables cross-referencing of benefits received and tax paid to individuals.

The Liberal Party had another go, post the London bombing in 2005, and plans to increase the capabilities of the Medicare card where announced under Minister Joe Hockey (Human Services). Implementation was thwarted by a defeat of the Howard Government and many Australians breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The Financial Systems Inquiry held around the same time identified that significant savings would be realised, however due to the majority of Australians who remained unconvinced of the government’s security of online identification, it was shelved. Until now.

With the advent of the hotly contested NBN policy, staged roll out and abject service failure experienced by thousands of citizens across Australia,  increases in complaints for poor service are as follows: up by 39.3% in Queensland, 36.5 % in Western Australia, 33.1% in Tasmania, 30.5 % in Victoria, 27.9% in NSW, 22.7% in South Australia, 20% in Northern Territory and 11% in ACT.

It is not surprising, that citizens are questioning the Australian Government’s capacity to deliver on technology and service?

There are a range of issues with the My Health Record to consider, including the aggressive approach in the generation of a record, unless you choose to opt out before October 15, 2018.

Parents have the right to ‘opt out’ on behalf of their children, and those aged over 14 are able to opt out for themselves. Does this reflect a policy shift regarding general age consent?

There are options for children aged 14 -18 to keep their medical records private from their parents. No doubt that the majority of Gen Z’s will be able to do so without too much hassle. How will this effect choices regarding pregnancy or gender identification for a young person?

In principle, having a system where all your blood tests, prescriptions, diagnoses, vaccinations and allergies are recorded in one place sounds smart. You can link your Advance Care directives here as well, which records your wishes for varying stages of your physical decline. However, as the Health Record itself states it should not be relied upon as a clinical record.

Is Aldous Huxley’s dystopian future just a little closer when such information could be obtained by security breach, and used to make decisions regarding an individual’s suitability for employment, procreation analysis or as a direct marketing tool?

And then there is a small matter of identity theft. Access to personal information such as your name, date of birth, address and other details enable fraudsters to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, start an illegal business or apply for a passport.

Will the 98,000 plus Generation X and Y who are now on the electoral roles after the Marriage Law Postal Survey agree or disagree with this government intervention?

The lofty aim may be to provide the medical profession instant access to knowledge to save your life, act as a mechanism to reduce pharmaceutical abuse by control and to house end of life options and donor registrations.

Huxley is quoted as espousing, ‘Within the next generation, I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis, are more efficient as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience’.

Will those who opt out, have identified themselves as ‘non-complaint’ and potential troublemakers? If you are over 50, you will not rate with much interest. After all it is the largely the younger generations that will keep the wheels of industry spinning to generate taxable incomes and to support the needs of the ageing populations.It may be unfurling slower than expected by Huxley, who was a futurist and activist, however controls are in place now, to monitor citizens to ensure that harmony is maintained and the wheels are moving.

Perhaps resistance is futile. Try telling that to the French or the recent LGBTQI movement. As defined by, resistance is an organised effort to withstand the legally established government or occupying power with the objective to disrupt civil order and stability.

It can also be simply active resistance to an ideological belief or perceived cultural norm. It is not terrorism to express your democratic right for privacy.

To read more regarding the reasons to opt out:

Urban design flexibility required to support all

Building agility into house design which supports all stages of a family life has become essential, as families look for ways to retain investment in larger parental homes and seniors look for alternatives to remain living independently. There are models throughout the world that reflect the growing need to think differently about design.

In 2006 in Canada, laneway housing was introduced principally in Vancouver under the EcoDensity initiative. Houses of approximately 51 metres square, one to two stories, with one or two bedrooms are built on the back half of a traditional lot in the space usually reserved for a garage. The objective is to build affordable houses, lower living costs and transportation costs by concentrated urban living close to services and offer housing design that reduce costs for lighting, heating and cooling.

In Australia, we have long taken advantage of ancillary dwelling, commonly known as ‘granny flats’ which offer a 70 metre square dwelling. These usually include a small kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, and enable occupants to live, independently from the main house. With changes to the State Planning Policy introduced in 2013, these ancillary dwellings are now used to provide housing opportunities for private tenants, carers or unrelated seniors and students. Many retirees are using these as ‘lock and leave’ homes while they join the flocks of grey nomads caravanning their way around Australia, and others offering theirs as Air BnB options.

A new initiative is using technology to provide a platform for seniors to develop ‘virtual retirement villages’, assisting to create networks between seniors living independently in their own homes. These networks are active and supporting thousands of seniors in the US, and an Australian first has been launched, the ‘Waverton Hub’, in northern Sydney.

A membership fee provides paid staff and the infrastructure to support a centralised online network, which offers social activities, learning and fitness as well as assistance with daily tasks, such as bringing in rubbish bins and getting to medical appointments, but is privately owned and operated.

This model in the US has 50 communities with over 3,000 people connecting in their own ‘Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities’ (NORCs) and evolved from senior enclaves developed in local areas which promoted a senior friendly living environment.

Another growing number of seniors are choosing to live in share houses. Seen as the exclusive domain for adventurous 20 somethings, the share house is experiencing a resurgence as the chosen place for people who would not otherwise be able to access to a property of value or the lifestyle that it affords.

In 2016,, recorded the largest increase of house sharers was in the 60 – 64 bracket with a 43% increase. Website launched in 2004, has assisted thousands of people Australia wide to find accommodation options. Co-founder Amanda Graham, reflected, that ‘some people are going into shared housing because they can’t afford an alternative. They might have divorced, or lost a partner, been made redundant or relocated. Others are simply hitting their 50’s still with a large mortgage. Our site is about using the digital economy to connect people.’

Remember for many this is not a new experience, having done so in their 20’s only to revisit it again in their 50’s and 60’s. While providing the real option of companionship, shared housing does not suit those with complex health care needs.

While building agility is not new. Zoning that allows subdivision, designs that support ease of retro-fitting and accessibility and adaptability, to support not only those with disability but the frail aged should be the norm.

Design that embrace environmental practices such as solar energy, natural light-filled areas, green roofs, insulation which improves thermal performance and stormwater management, have tangible fiscal advantages for seniors.

Design considerations that promote fiscal maximisation, support people as they transition from empty-nesters to retirees, make downsizing more attractive and affordable to an increasingly connected and environmentally aware ageing population.

Currently Australian Standard on Design for Access is based on 18 – 60 year olds. However it could be argued that if you apply the 8 80 Cities model, then if it is suitable for 8 year olds to 80 then it will suit all people. Residential housing communities should also offer access to parks and recreation facilities within distances that the frail aged can manage, with appropriate seating, well-lit paths and support mobility scooters and walkers.

On a local note, it will be interesting to watch the development of Shire of Dardanup’s Wanju townsite. This 1245 hectares urban development is projected to support 20,000 homes, offer 4000 jobs, include 3 public, and 2 private high schools and 9 public and 2 private primary schools. The draft Wanju District Structure Plan outlines the proposal for inclusivity, with a mix of residential densities, dwelling sizes, types and tenure, including affordable homes,both on the open market and Department of Housing, to buy and rent and part buy/ part rent.

A conceptual video is available here:

West Australia is yet to develop a Habitat for Humanity chapter. See the great work of this organisation here:

Playlist for the future

Music is unashamedly my first love. I like to believe that everyone can recall the first album that they purchased. That is when vinyl was originally king, not a retro choice.

I have only met one person in my life that openly boasted that he had never purchased an album. I immediately took a dislike to him. Seriously how can you trust someone, who sees no value in music?

One of my first albums was A Night at the Opera by Queen, released on 21 November 1975. What followed was a collection of Australian rock (Sherbet), UK punk (Dave Warner), R&M (Michael Jackson) and many singles, some which I won from a radio competition. Perhaps that is where my love of that medium started?

I remember the first time I raided another person’s record collection. My family was house-sitting for a wealthy English family that had chosen to go overseas during the 1974 Queensland floods. I discovered Shirley Bassey’s, Yesterday When I Was Young (1970) and as an impressionable 13-year-old, I fell in love with the absolute power of storytelling and Bassey’s boundless emotion.

There were plenty of arguments in the corridors of my childhood home, about the repeat playing of Ian Dury & The Blockheads single, ‘I Wanna Be Straight’.

Teenagers always find a voice. It seemed to aggravate my English parents that it was one of their own who persisted in promoting new wave rebellion and dystopian propaganda.

My favourite rock track is unashamedly a Jimmy Barnes classic, Lay Down Your Guns’. This track may well reveal my 1980’s youth, but it also reminds me of my time in the heady days of working in bar management in rock and roll venues in Kings Cross, Sydney. It is energising and passionate, with a great rock beat and a sexy sax player.

US social worker, Dan Cohen, has developed a Music & Memory program, which features in a 2014 documentary, Alive Inside.

The use of music to trigger the memory of people with dementia is backed by neuroscientific research. The objective is to stimulate memory, improve mood and to activate physical movement. All that you need is music from your era and a great set of headphones.

So I suggest that you start collating your playlist now. I have over 3000 tracks to chose from.

I would be more than happy to be reminded of those rock and roll days. I still play a mean Tamborine and anytime that I want to smash out a little noise, this is the track that I choose.

So my sons, don’t forget to pack, my iPod, noise-cancelling headphones and the tamborines, when you move me into residential care!

Don’t worry about my neighbours, most of them will be deaf.

Motivated to make a difference

(If you have been wondering what I’ve been doing – this is my 100th post on ‘just saying’ at


What motivates an individual to undertake employment as an individual support worker, either in aged care or disability care settings?

There is no debate, that the work requires a specialist skill base. It can be physically demanding, emotionally draining, confronting and leave many workers dealing with grief and loss on a regular basis.

And then there is the small matter of poor staff ratios and low wage. So why choose this occupation?

Aged care and disability care are essential social services, and with a rapidly ageing population, the Productivity Commission estimate that by 2050, Australia will need 980,000 aged care and disability workers. There is a ongoing skills shortage and need for labour. Is that enough motivation?

It could be argued that for many support workers, the motivation is greatly influenced by their desire for intrinsic rather than extrinsic benefits alone.

Many recently qualified individual support workers are driven by social justice values, like those before them and enter the industry armed with work practicum experience, personal stories of caring for a loved one and/or genuinely want to make a difference in the lives of others.

The behaviours of individual support workers that excel in their role include, the ability to act with compassion, adhere to ethical confidentiality, demonstrate patience, inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, and be supportive of ‘person centred care’. Then there is the matter of personal care skills, which require capability and often a strong stomach.

It is agreed by many psychologists and organisational behaviourists, that workers operating from intrinsic motivations are fully engaged and are often more productive.

It would be foolish to think that the extrinsic rewards of a wage, recognition, a sense of belonging, praise and public acclaim is what singularly motivates a person to work in social services.

Extrinsic reward can be a useful tool, when applied to a tedious work-related task, to build momentum and skills.

Many people sacrifice intrinsic reward for extrinsic rewards, focusing on their exterior lives to find their sense of meaning. Often finding that ‘time’ to invest in activities that bring about a sense of personal satisfaction can be the real challenge.

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull stumbled recently with poorly selected words, when he said that an aged care worker can ‘aspire to get a better job’. The worker was 60 years old.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten took the opportunity to claim that the Prime Minister was ‘disrespectful of aged care workers’, at a time when there was a long-term industry demand and protracted staff shortages.

Politics aside, the objective is to have high-quality individual support workers and enable them to be ‘work ready’ for an industry that is demanding.

As for the Prime Minister, it seems that perhaps he has more in common with that ’60 year old age care worker’ than he realises. Both appear to be ‘intrinsically’ motivated, it may be only a matter of wage disparity and degrees.

Oh and that inconsequential thing, called privilege.

Younger people with disability need unique solutions

It has long been a concern of many that younger people with disability do not have adequate care options. This view is shared by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Luke, Bo’sher of the Summer Foundation and reflected in the June 2018 National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) report card.

The report identified the six most important outcomes for the NDIS to achieve for young people with high care needs, including reducing the number of people being admitted to aged care and improving the lives of those currently living in aged care facilities.

This has been a long conversation which has sparked the interest and support of many others including Bernard Fanning from the now defunct rock group, Powderfinger, who raised awareness of the work of Brisbane based organisation, Youngcare.

Fanning, along with Channel Nine’s Sylvia Jeffreys and Karl Stefanovic, celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue and Channel Nine’s The Block, designer Darren Palmer are all Ambassadors of Youngcare. Youngcare’s partnerships are extensive including Foundation Partner, SunCorp.

Youngcare, like Summer Foundation are focused on the national issue of the current inappropriate and inadequate care for young people with disability especially those with individuals with high care needs.

Youngcare acts as a conduit for industry, government and the community to work together to bring change to the housing sector.

The Summer Foundation support the disability, health and aged care systems to work more effectively with younger people in nursing homes.  They prototype effective housing alternatives, which integrates smart home technology and good design with a support model designed to promote independence, in well-located community settings. They also develop practice guides, training materials and new models for government and non-government organisations, an undertake academic and applied research for evidence based solutions.

The Summer Foundation was established in 2006 by Di Winkler, an Occupational Therapist who has specialised in the area of severe brain injury for over 20 years.

Currently there are over 12, 000 young people with disabilities in accommodation which does not facilitate the ‘person-centred care’ mantra of the NDIS. Young people with disability are living in aged care, hospital rooms, rehabilitation centres and inappropriate accommodation that is frankly not suitable for their age.

Through the NDIS some participants with high care physical needs may be able to receive funding for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

These participants will be given both financial means and the autonomy to command and secure their own choice fo quality supported housing. The demand for SDA is significant with the estimated number reaching over 28,000 people.

Youngcare and Summer Foundation believe that ‘now’ is  the time for unique investors, developers, government, banks and care providers to work together to solve the disability residential crisis.

The Summer Foundation report highlighted that current options, are incredibly detrimental, resulting in the reduction of independence, the loss to each individual’s ability to reach their potential, and is sadly socially isolating. Bo’sher states, ‘that 82% of younger people in residential aged care rarely or never visit their friends and around 13% never go outside’. Most would agree that this is unacceptable.

The Summer Foundation is advocating for policy and process improvements that will improved NDIS outcomes for people with complex support needs.

Their six solutions include:

  • Better coordination between NDIS, health and aged care sectors
  • Remove bureaucratic hurdles preventing people from accessing the NDIS
  • Provide more support to bring young people from aged care to the NDIS faster
  • Develop an effective national approach to quality and safeguarding for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)
  • Commit to a transparent process for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Price and Framework reviews
  • Invest in building the capacity of people with disability to self-manage their supports.

More information about the Summer Foundation can be found here:

More information about Youngcare can be found here: