The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2021-06-07T23:30:00Z Media release 2021-06-07T23:30:00Z media-release Special eBook releaseAnniversary edition of Julietta Jameson’s Christmas Island, Indian Ocean marks 20 years since the Tampa crisisHow a tiny island and a boat full of refugees changed Australia forevereBook available July 15, 2021 through select major digital bookstores and participating librariesISBN: 978-0-6451128-7-0 “At last, a book that tells us all about Christmas Island: a place we have previously heard about as an entry point for people seeking asylum in Australia, but otherwise a blank spot in most Australian minds.”- Julian Burnside AO QC Melbourne-based author, Julietta Jameson will release a new, edited version of her moving 2003 book, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, which will be available for the first time in eBook format from July 15, 2021.This special anniversary edition marks twenty years since the ‘Tampa crisis’, when a Norwegian freighter rescued hundreds of asylum seekers from a sinking Indonesian fishing boat and attempts to deliver them safely to Christmas Island were thwarted by the Australian government, sparking outrage amongst humanitarians and attracting global media attention for all the wrong reasons.It is a deeply-affecting account of Jameson’s journey to Australia’s most isolated territory … an extraordinary place, at an extraordinary time.Originally published in paperback form by ABC Books, the eBook version of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean has been revisited by the author, who during the lengthy editing process, found that the questions and issues raised at that time are every bit as relevant and important today as they were then.Says Jameson, “This book came about when, one morning in the latter stages of 2001, I heard an ABC Radio interview with Captain Don O'Donnell, the harbour master of Christmas Island. He was describing the moving send-off the islanders had given the Tampa when she finally sailed away, her human cargo having been taken off her deck by the SAS and delivered to the Australian war ship, the Manoora, to eventually be taken to Nauru. As a journalist, an avid hobbyist on matters of the human condition and from the point of view of my own confusion about this and many other things in my life, I decided to go to the island and see what was going on for myself. “As I set off, Australian public debate on the ‘Tampa crisis’ and the government's ensuing ‘Pacific Solution’ to ‘stopping the boats’ was passionate, polarised and front-page news, which almost feels quaint in 2021, given how normalised and widely accepted strong-arm tactics – some might say cruelties – towards asylum seekers have become. “Editing this book for the twentieth anniversary of the Tampa crisis, as I revisited my reflections of and at the time, it seemed like the questions I'd asked twenty years earlier had barely touched the sides of what was to come. Moreover, the answers I thought I had found had been dashed against the jagged rocks of hardened hearts and minds.“But I believe it is valuable to look at where we came from, in order to understand how we got here. At the very least, the remarkable humanity the Christmas Islanders showed in the latter part of 2001 might serve as a reminder of the humanity in us all.” ABOUT THE AUTHORJulietta Jameson is an Australian author who has lived and written in Los Angeles, London, Sydney and Melbourne as well as more remote places such as Australia’s Christmas Island for this book, the New South Wales outback for Tibooburra and the Legend of the Tree of Knowledge, and Italy, Greece and Switzerland, following the travels of the poet Lord Byron for her book, Me, Myself and Lord Byron.She has also written biographies and her journalistic career has spanned the gamut: hard news, finance, the arts, celebrity and travel. In addition, she writes screenplays for cinema and TV. Julietta is based in Melbourne, Australia. MEDIA CONTACT (for interview, extract and review requests):Erin Jamesonerin(at)jamesonandco(dot)com / +61 419 323 663 CHRISTMAS ISLAND, INDIAN OCEANCopyright © Julietta Jameson 2003 First published February 2003This edited edition © Julietta Jameson 2021 Published July 2021 Media release: Too Peas In A Podcast at Yarraville Laughs 2021-03-17T23:03:40Z media-release-too-peas-in-a-podcast-at-yarraville-laughs-2 Annabel Crab from the ABC and Chat10Looks3: “I started listening as I was running around, catching trains, doing stuff and before I knew it I had listened to about four episodes… Every single podcast I cried... The way they laugh together is so wonderful, you can’t help bursting into laughter... I love the opportunity to hear their voices... I love hanging out with them...Their capacity to find joy in things… is wonderful.” Mia Freedman on Mama Mia Out Loud: “The happiest thing I’ve listened to in a long time and it really shouldn’t be... Their laughter is like balm for my soul. I can’t even explain how much I love listening to it.” On Mothers Day Eve - Saturday, May 8 - Too Peas In A Podcast will finally make its way to the Yarraville Laughs stage, with Kate and Mandy giving their honest, down-to-earth take on life’s trials and tribulations that have earned tham an international following. It’s been a full year since Yarraville Laughs - like every other venue and promoter in the country - had to reluctantly announce the cancellation of its shows which were close to being sold out. One of those shows was to be the live debut for two of the funniest mums on the planet, Kate Jones and Mandy Hose, who were to record their breakout podcast, Too Peas In A Podcast.Fast forward to 2021 and these hilarious women were Victoria’s nominee for Australian Of The Year, have signed a book deal with Penguin Books and tripled their audience throughout the pandemic lockdowns - uplifting their audience with their irreverent banter about raising their respective additional-needs children, both mothers of twins! They also managed to squeeze in a sold out show at Sydney’s Comedy Store.The audience will be taken on an emotional rollercoaster of tears one minute, laughter the next (and often at the same time), as the two chat about parenting twins with disabilities and additional needs. While indeed, the topics they delve are not necessarily laughing matters, Mandy and Kate’s natural ability to cut through the crap and let the audience see the funny side of their emotional ups and downs is contagious.As challenging as 2020 was for so many, Too Peas In A Podcast at Yarraville Laughs promises hilarious anecdotes which are totally relatable, such as drinking gin out of teacups in the afternoons, accidental swearing during remote learning classes, playing remote tricks on teachers - all while wearing pyjamas day in, day out.As Kate says, ‘I think we provided a bit of a lifeline - not only for ourselves, but for our listeners.‘During the pandemic, no one was talking about educating kids remotely with additional needs - only us.’And for the grammar geeks amongst us, it’s well worth a listen to hear their explanation of the almost unforgivable spelling in the title, Too Peas in a Podcast.This is a rare opportunity to be part of the recording of one of this country’s true podcast sensations, so come and see them live, find out what is so a-pea-ling!Listen to Too Peas In A Podcast HERELISTINGS INFO:Too Peas In A PodcastSaturday, May 8The Yarraville Club, 135 Stephen St Yarraville.18+ EventBookings: www.yarravillelive.comPh: 03 9689 6033Doors open: 6pm (dining); 7.15pm (show only)Show time: 8.00pmTicket Options:Supper & Show $99.00 + bfReserved Seating Section A $59.00 +bfReserved Seating Section B $49.00 +bfGeneral Admission (standing) $39.00 +bf MEDIA CONTACT:Jameson & CoErin Jameson - 0419 323 663 / erin(at)jamesonandco(dot)com Ajak Kwai announces new album, single and launch show 2021-03-15T09:56:26Z ajak-kwai-announces-new-album-single-and-launch-show PLEASE REPLY TO REQUEST YOUR REVIEW/AIRPLAY COPY OF LET ME GROW MY WINGS BY AJAK KWAIAustralia’s renowned songwoman of contemporary South Sudanese music, Ajak Kwai will release her fifth studio album, supported by a live album launch at Melbourne’s Night Cat on Friday, April 23. With Ajak’s dedication as a passionate activist for refugees in Australia, the album is aptly titled Let Me Grow My Wings, an eclectic collection of twelve self-penned songs which reflect her observations, influences and connections since moving to Australia in the late nineties.Performed in English, Arabic and Ajak’s native language, Dinka, the record sees Ajak honouring the traditions of her homeland, yet defying stereotype in what is best described as “modern South Sudanese rock” (credit to award-winning composer, songwriter and producer Jan Skubiszewski who mixed and performed additional instruments on five songs).Backed by a pulsing rhythm section, piano and guitars feature throughout, with rhythmic rock gems like the opener, Love Not Bitterness (sung in English, urging people of the world to choose love over hate), Cool (Track 3 - Ajak’s message to young people, sung in English and Dinka, telling them they don’t need to act the fool to be cool, Life Is A Mystery - sung entirely in Dinka - in which Ajak questions why she ended up in Australia whilst so many of her people lost their lives (the final track on the album), and the album title track (Track 2) - one that Ajak says she feels closest to and is the first single off this album - in which she expresses (also in English and Dinka) her desire for the people in her community to have the same opportunities and be treated equally in Australia.Then there are emotive ballads such as In Our Hearts (Track 7), featuring the Yogyakarta State University College of Music Choir, with a poignant message (in English and Dinka) that we are all the same, no matter what colour or race and Don’t Make The Woman Cry, Ajak’s dedication to women, urging suppressors to choose kindness over harm.Says Ajak, 'My experiences in Australia inform my songs and my music. Music is a universal language – maybe one day we will forget our differences and hold the hands of one another. ‘This album is a collection of those hopes and dreams for an integrated future where we are one and can share and be accepted for what my community has to offer.’Ajak also explains, “It has taken years to complete this album, as I’ve kept getting distracted with my work as a community promoter and educating people at the Migrant Resource Centre, which takes me to many areas of Melbourne’.She hopes that by taking time out to concentrate on her own art and completing this album, she will inspire people with her music and lyrics to create a more positive environment for themselves.Let Me Grow My Wings will be available worldwide on CD and download, on all major online stores from April 23, 2021.In addition to Ajak’s band, the album’s impressive credits include Jan Skubiszewski, Nicky Bomba, Simon Lewis, Boris Conley, Chris Basile (prominent on guitar throughout), Kate Madden, Robin Mai and Aaron Wilson (who has also directed her forthcoming music video for the title track). Filmmaker and Ajak’s longtime friend, Margot McDonald executive produced the project. The songs were recorded at Nicky Bomba Studios, Jan Skubiszewski’s Red Moon Studios, and Simon Lewis’ Panorama Studios, where it was also mastered.In her live shows, Ajak, with her stunning, distinctive vocals fronts a four-piece rock band consisting of lead guitarist Kumar Shome, Matt Erickson on bass and Kofi Kundpe on drums/percussion, occasionally joined by special guest musicians. As well as being ambassador for the Melbourne International Arts Festival, she has performed at major festivals around Australia and internationally, including Mofo, WOMADelaide, Panama Festival and the Tamar Valley, Port Fairy and Woodford Folk Festivals.Ajak is also a popular broadcaster in Melbourne, as host of a weekly show on one of the city’s much-loved community radio stations, PBS. Airing each Monday between 1300 and 1500 AEST, the show - called Come Together - focuses on music that promotes love and acceptance and on bringing her community into the radio realm.The single, Let Me Grow My Wings will be released on Monday, March 22, ahead of the album launch on Friday, April 23. Ajak will be joined onstage by her live band plus special guests and supports to be announced. Tickets are $20+bf or $25 on the door, available at thenightcat.com.au.For more information about Ajak Kwai, check: www.ajakkwai.com MEDIA CONTACT:Erin Jameson - 0419 323 663 / erin(at)jamesonandco(dot)comLISTINGS INFO:Friday, April 23Ajak Kwai + special guests TBAThe Night Cat, 137-141 Johnston St, FitzroyT: 03 9417 0090Entry: $20+bf; $25 on the doorTickets: thenightcat.com.au Remote Activation VR Trial at Ashfield Baptist Homes a “Success” 2021-03-12T03:15:03Z remote-activation-vr-trial-at-ashfield-baptist-homes-a-success-1 Residents and care staff took part in an Australian-first virtual reality (VR) trial using ‘remote’ activation VR kits at Sydney’s not-for-profit aged care facility, Ashfield Baptist Homes (ABH), on 2nd March, 2021.The remote activation trial was part of an ongoing pilot program by VR streaming platform, Inverse, to explore the therapeutic benefits of VR and opera amongst older people and residents living with dementia, as well as to test the feasibility of distributing remote activation VR Kits for the Aged Care sector nationally. ABH, Executive Care Manager, Barry Cowling said: “The trial was a great success! Nine of our residents were involved in the pilot, including some living with dementia. “There were some initial adjustments necessary when the residents firstly donned their headsets, but soon after they were totally engaged with the opera performance, following the action, reacting to music by tapping their feet, moving their bodies and applauding after each aria.”The residents were treated to VR recitals staring Melba Opera Trust alumni Stacey Alleaume, Nathan Lay, Michael Petruccelli, internationally renowned pianist Amir Farid, and hosted by the host of the ABC’s The Opera Show Mairi Nicolson. “The performance included three 20-minute recitals, which was helpful for those residents who find it harder to concentrate for long periods,” explained Barry.“Music and art therapy are often used to motivate aged care residents, but immersive technology such as virtual reality can be a powerful tool for "reminiscence therapy". It allows residents to immerse themselves in their past, stimulate emotions and memories, and just generally improve their wellbeing. So, watching the residents clap, laugh and move to the music and follow the ‘on stage’ action was just awesome.”One of the Ashfield Baptist Homes residents, Rita aged 91, expressed: “I wanted to reach out and talk to the ladies sitting having supper. It was so good. It’s the first time I’ve experienced virtual reality and I loved it.”Inverse founder Darren Vukasinovic said: “We are thrilled with how the first remote activation trial went. We recognise this is new ground for most aged care facilities, so ensuring that the care staff at Ashfield Baptist Homes were supported by the Inverse tech team during set-up, the test-run and the trial itself was critical. “For many residents it is also the first time they have ever experienced fully simulated immersive technology, so it is truly heart-warming to see the swaying, clapping and tapping as they are transported from the everyday to a stunning operatic experience. “With thanks to the support of the ABH team, we are certainly one-step-closer to a national rollout of the remote activation VR kits, which is incredibly exciting.”Inverse is inviting expressions of interest amongst aged care providers wanting to learn more about the remote activation VR Kits for their wellbeing resident programs via https://inverse.live/agedcare - ENDS -Images, Logos: Ashfield Baptist Homes - Media File YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvbjXWyx6Rs About Ashfield Baptist HomesAshfield Baptist Homes Limited is a standalone not-for-profit organisation operated by Ashfield Baptist Church providing aged care based on Christian principles for people of all denominations in the Inner West of Sydney.http://www.abh.org.au/ About InverseInverse is Australia’s-first ever ‘live’ 3D virtual reality (VR) platform, created to connect fans, families, friends and communities with the enriching experience of ‘live’ performance art and music, remotely. Inverse aims to enable access to experience live events like never before. Through its fully immersive 3D VR technology, Inverse enables musicians, performing artists, venues and event organisers to open-up a whole new experience economy for the ever-evolving digital age, whilst staying connected with those audiences who may be unable to physically attend ‘live’. Born amid the adversity of COVID-19, Inverse is independently owned and was founded by Darren Vukasinovic, CEO of Melbourne-based extended reality (XR) technology start-up, Ignition Immersive. http://inverse.live/ About Melba Opera TrustMelba Opera Trust provides Australia's leading opera development program for exceptional young artists. The program was founded on the legacy of Dame Nellie Melba, and is driven by her belief that 'a beautiful voice is not enough'. Melba Opera Trust engages an international network of experts to deliver a tailored program of artistic, professional and personal development that prepares artists for a global career in opera. How to keep mentally healthy this festive season. 2020-12-10T01:53:40Z how-to-keep-mentally-healthy-this-festive-season The festive season can be both exciting and daunting. For some it can be a time of stress, anxiety and loneliness. This year, more than ever, it’s important to look after your mental health and wellbeing. Mentally Healthy WA, through the Act Belong Commit mental health promotion campaign, is encouraging Western Australians to reach out and support one another this Christmas. Here are 10 tips to help you and your loved ones to keep mentally healthy: ·        This festive season, especially, is a time to focus on KINDNESS.  Small things matter: write a kind note for someone to show them you care, stay calm and patient on the road. ·        Try to reconnect with family and friends, even though some of us may not be able to meet in person. Call someone you haven’t seen in ages. Reach out to someone who will be alone this Christmas. ·        Start a new tradition this festive season. Connect with your neighbours for a game of cricket or join the family for a picnic with Christmas leftovers.  ·        Sleeping ok? Rushing around to meet deadlines can be exhausting. Make sure you are getting a good nights’ sleep whenever you can. ·        Remember to stay active at this time of year. Take time to go for a walk. It’s important for your mental health and can make you feel good. ·        Giving feels good. Make a difference this festive season by organising a charity collection with your family or workplace. Contact a local charity to find out what’s needed by them. ·        Enjoy solitude. Don’t forget to make time to reconnect with yourself during the busy holiday period. Do something relaxing - get outside, try some yoga or indulge in an afternoon nap.  ·        Reflect on the past, plan for the future. Think about how you can prioritise your mental health in 2021. ·        Learn something new this festive season. Look online for a card or other game that you can learn with your family or friends. ·        Make Act Belong Commit your family motto for 2021. Being active, having a sense of belonging and having a purpose in life all contribute to good mental health. “Whilst the festive season can present many challenges for people around connecting with others, it also draws attention to the importance of having a sense of belonging – whether that’s with family or friends,” says Associate Professor, Christina Pollard, Director of Mentally Healthy WA. Yogazeit Ltd is a partner of the Act Belong Commit campaign helping to promote positive mental health strategies at the individual and community level. “We’re passionate about empowering mentally healthy communities through accessible Yoga and Mindfulness for the Young and Young at Heart.  Taking a deep breath this festive season and taking a moment to being ‘present’ can bring a welcoming change to overwhelming situations or busy Christmas schedules. We’re looking forward to supporting the Act Belong Commit Message in 2021 and we’re hoping to seeing you at one of our inclusive Yoga and Mindfulness Programs: At School – at Aged Care – or in the Community,” says Regina Cruickshank, Executive Director of Yogazeit Ltd.   About Act Belong Commit: Act Belong Commit is directed from Curtin University’s Mentally Healthy WA. Funded by Healthway and the Mental Health Commission, the Act Belong Commit campaign promotes mental health by reminding us to regularly: ·       ACT: Do something to keep mentally, physically, socially, spiritually and culturally active. ·       BELONG: Do something with someone to keep connected to friends, family, community and culture. ·       COMMIT: Do something meaningful – get involved in activities that provide meaning and purpose. At www.actbelongcommit.org.au you’ll find helpful information including hundreds of simple, do-able and achievable activities you can do to improve your mental health.   CONTACT: Meg Clarey 0438417566 PARTNER ORGANISATION CONTACT: Yogazeit Ltd Regina Cruickshank 0405 551 635 Retirement Income Review: Debt free equity release must be considered 2020-11-20T04:16:23Z retirement-income-review-debt-free-equity-release-must-be-considered Friday 20 November 2020. Homesafe Solutions Pty Ltd (Homesafe) has welcomed the outcomes highlighted in the Federal Government’s Retirement Income Review Report, and the recognition of the importance of equity release solutions to address the funding needs of Senior Homeowners. The release of the Australian Government’s Retirement Income Review Report has recognised that the family home, which represents the largest share of net wealth for Australians aged 65 and over, is already regarded as an important role in the retirement income system. The report also highlights the availability of equity release products for retirees and that accessing home equity could have a "bigger impact on improving retirement income than increasing the superannuation guarantee". Homesafe Chief Operating Officer, Ms Dianne Shepherd said that “Accessing the equity built up in the home, to enable older Australians to fund a comfortable and independent retirement, makes sound financial sense for many senior Australians, and many already use this strategy” The only debt-free equity release alternative is Homesafe Wealth Release™, a product provided by Homesafe Solutions Pty Ltd in partnership with the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank. Homesafe Wealth Release is Australia’s only alternative to reverse mortgages, and the only strategy which provides seniors with a lump sum amount debt-free. For over 15 years Homesafe Wealth Release has assisted thousands of older homeowners to access some of the equity tied up in their homes. The Homesafe solution has no repayments, no compounding interest charges and provides significant protections for the homeowner to remain in their homes, debt free, for the rest of their lives. “The Homesafe equity release product was designed to enable senior homeowners to access the wealth tied up in their homes by selling a share of the future sale proceeds of their home and to avoid going into debt. Rather than taking out a capitalising interest loan and then carrying the risk of future property growth rates as the debt increases, with Homesafe the homeowner can sell a part of their home today and protect a share of the future equity in their home for their own needs or to leave to their Estate. Homesafe customers know how much equity will remain in their hands when they eventually sell. This clarity and control over costs has been essential for Homesafe’s customers. As the number of Australian “baby boomers” reaching retirement continues to grow, the role of equity release will become ever more important and it is crucial that seniors understand the options which are available to them now, and what impact their decisions may have in years to come. Government has an unprecedented opportunity to facilitate greater efficiencies in the equity release market, not only for the benefit of individuals but also the wider economy, and to support the efficacy of the industry by working with providers of equity release products to ensure the wider ageing population can access the stored wealth in the homes when they need it the most. ENDS How do you see things? 2020-09-16T05:36:44Z how-do-you-see-things Are you the glass half full type of person or the glass half empty? I guess at times we are both.Recently I was pre-arranging a funeral for a client, her elderly mother in the final stages of life and sadly like many with dementia. She hadn't seen her mother or held or hand for many months, COVID restrictions saw to that. On the surface, it just appeared to be a very sad situation.As we began to talk and I started to learn a little about her mum, my client described how her mother had always been full of fun and laughter and these are the memories she would carry with her, not the sad ones.She told me a story of when her mother in her 70s and wheelchair-bound, but still full of life had an appointment with her neurologist. The prognosis wasn't good and the specialist explained to her mum the ramifications of her diseases. She sat quietly in her chair as he explained as well as he could what to expect. After he had finished talking she sat silently for a few minutes. Concerned, the doctor walked over to her chair and knelt in front of her. Her eyes suddenly lit up, like a light bulb had just been switched on as she casually queried the doctor, "would sex therapy help?" Startled but as quick-witted as her, the doctor fired back "well, do you have someone in mind?" with that twinkle still in her eye she replied, "do you have a younger brother?" Needless to say, the room erupted in laughter.It got me to thinking, even at the worst of times, it is the way in which we choose to deal with a situation which will dictate the manner in which we move forward.COVID restriction has unquestionably thrown great hardship on many people. For me, I have been amazed at the manner in which families have accepted and dealt with loss during this time.So maybe next time you are faced with what seems an insurmountable challenge in life, remembering the story of my elderly client might just bring a smile to your face and maybe assist you in looking at your situation in another way, Paul Keating's HECS-style loans plan unfair; aged care insurance simpler and more efficient 2020-09-14T13:19:03Z paul-keatings-hecs-style-loans-plan-unfair-aged-care-insurance-simpler-and-more-efficient Proposals for a HECS-type model to fund aged care completely miss the point, according to public finance expert Dr Marc Robinson. The HECS-type model was proposed by former prime minister Paul Keating in evidence to the Aged Care Royal Commission.Dr Robinson said that the biggest problem facing aged care is the minority of elderly people who end up needing particularly long periods of expensive residential care because they suffer from dementia or other very severe disability. “Everyone should be protected against this risk through social insurance, which would pay for aged care costs above a certain threshold. That way, those who end up being part of this unlucky minority would be protected from the huge financial burden of care. Everybody should pay a premium - in the form of a supplement to the Medicare levy - in order to pay for this insurance,” he said.Dr Robinson addresses the aged care challenge, and what is needed to tackle it, in his just-published book Bigger Government: The Future of Government Expenditure in Advanced Economies.As a member of the OECD Advisory Panel on Budgeting and Public Expenditures and former staff economist at the International Monetary Fund, Australian, Swiss-based Dr Robinson has advised more than 30 countries on budgeting reforms. “Mr Keating's proposal is, in effect, that everyone should pay the full cost of their aged care unless there are insufficient assets in their estates to do so. This would be like having health system in which government lends everybody money to pay for their healthcare during their lives, and then grabs the estates of anyone who had incurred very high healthcare expenses during their lives due to particularly poor health.”Dr Robinson said that a just and effective aged care system is one that not only looks after people who have limited capacity to pay, but also protects everyone against the risk of drawing the short straw in the "dementia lottery". “This is the principle that guides aged care policy in the countries with the best aged care systems, such as Japan, Germany and the Netherlands. Even the British conservative government of prime minister Boris Johnson is moving now to implement an insurance-type system.“In principle, aged care insurance could be provided either by the government or by private insurance companies. However, international experience shows that, for such insurance to work, it has to be compulsory for everyone. And if insurance was provided by private insurers, it would have to operate under a system with a standard policy and premiums regulated by the government. “Overall, a government insurance system would be simpler and more efficient,” he added.EndsNote: More information about Paul Keating’s loan plan can be found here:https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-14/paul-keating-calls-for-hecs-style-loans-for-home-care-at-rc/12661136OECD: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.About the Author:Dr Marc Robinson is an internationally-recognised authority on government finances with extensive experience in budgeting, public financial management and fiscal policy. He is a member of the OECD Advisory Panel on Budgeting and Public Expenditures, and also of the IMF’s Panel of Fiscal Experts. A resident of Switzerland, he is a Swiss and Australian dual national. In Australia, Dr Robinson was a senior civil servant and professor of economics. He was formerly a staff economist in the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. He has consulted on budgeting and fiscal policy matters to more than 30 countries ranging from European Union members to middle and low-income countries. Dr Robinson has published many books, monographs and articles on government budgeting issues. He is a frequent guest speaker at conferences and symposiums held by international organisations and national ministries of finance. His new book (Bigger Government, The Future of Government Expenditure in Advanced Economies (376 pages, Arolla Press) documents how and why advanced nations are headed for a new era of bigger government with health, aged care and tackling climate change to have greatest impact on spending pressures. pfmresults.com & biggergovernment.comMedia enquiries:Issued on behalf of Dr Marc Robinson by WMC Public Relations Pty Ltd. Contact Wendy McWilliams on (03) 9803 2588 / 0421 364 665. E: wendy@wmcpr.com.au Dr Marc Robinson can be contacted on +4143-508-0912 and E: marc@pfmresults.com Who is Your Funeral Director -Part 2 2020-09-05T22:18:09Z who-is-your-funeral-director-part-2-1 Who is your funeral director? Where do they come from? What is their expertise? What does the future hold for the industry and people who work in it?In previous blogs, I have written about my experience and what led me into the funeral industry. In this blog, I look at some of the changes in the industry in recent decades, giving you insight into who your funeral director might be and how they got into the industry.There wouldn't be a day go by someone tells me I'm working in a "bulletproof" industry. They think that because everyone dies, there will always be work for me. It's not surprising that other people want to be part of what they too believe is a 'future proof" industry. So, as the industry draws in new people, questions arise as to who these people are, their qualifications and what they contribute to the industry as it changes over time?The funeral industry has undergone a significant change in my lifetime. I grew up in a time when some funeral directors still manufactured coffins and caskets rather than purchased them from large manufacturers. Many staff came to the industry from the factory floors. Funerals were typically religious. The most significant difference between funerals was whether they were catholic or protestant. Burials were the main form of disposition.In the 1960s and 70s, with immigration beginning to shift from European countries to also include new arrivals from Asia, we began to see new religions appear. This diversity meant changes particularly in terms of ethnic customs and traditions. Funeral homes had to adapt quickly and most did so quite well.At this time, few of our new Australians had the desire or will to work within the funeral industry. Over the following few decades, not much changed. Sure there are more new arrivals from a wider range of countries having different traditions and cultures to those we had become accustomed to. This has meant funeral staff have had to acquire a better understanding of the needs of our changing Australian industry and above all else, flexibility.The funeral industry was changing behind the scenes. Larger family businesses were absorbing traditional family-owned business. The centralisation of mortuaries and garaging enabled significant cost efficiencies. Much smaller family-owned business did not have family members wanting to carry on in the family business. Something not unique to other industries, but with 24 hour 7 day a week commitment, the funeral industry does not have the appeal of many others.For those starting a career in the funeral industry, there was a hierarchal ascent. Similar to an apprenticeship but without the formality. Staff would begin as a hearse driver working alongside the most experienced member of the team, the conductor. Typically, conductors have years of experience and have undergone a similar "apprenticeship". Previously, there were very few women in these roles. Indeed there were few women in funeral service altogether.After a few years working alongside a conductor, the hearse driver would progress to the coach driver, the third person in a funeral crew. The coach driver has the job of collecting and looking after the family on the day of the funeral. The coach driver would then become a conductor, and the cycle would begin again.Funeral staff would be involved in the delivery of a diverse range of funerals, rosaries, viewing, and other services such as transfers of deceased or body collection from Nursing homes, hospitals or coroners, etc. All staff were required to be on rotational 24/7 after-hours standby for night work. When not doing funerals, staff were involved in coffin preparation, placing handles and writing names plates on coffins and sometimes lining them, there is always cleaning to be performed.Vehicles are the funeral directors' mobile shop front, and most companies spent a lot of time ensuring there showpieces were kept immaculate.Companies varied as to how these processes worked. Some would insist that all conductors were also funeral arrangers while others found that some staff were better at funeral delivery than others.The mortuary has always been a field on its own. Many funeral staff had no desire or will to work within the mortuary. Larger funeral homes typically had qualified mortuary personnel called embalmers. Smaller companies often had no qualified staff in the mortuary, and they may have had general funeral staff performing necessary mortuary procedures. Some of the larger funeral homes were big supporters of mortuary training and our family business at times had up to 12 or more qualified embalmers on staff. The training and encouragement to train staff have often been attributed to the principals or owners of the business. Those owners that had worked in mortuaries were more likely to encourage training than those that didn't. The early embalmers in Australia had either learnt overseas or were part of the early learning with the British Institute of Embalmers. Some funeral homes paid for embalming courses and tuition for their staff. Sadly today this is often not the case, and students are typically required to pay out the hefty course fees on their own. Television shows such as CSI have probably attributed the large numbers of young women now working within our mortuaries. The 1980s saw the introduction of the large foreign-owned companies become part of the Australian funeral industry, purchasing the larger family-owned groups. As a result, many companies that had often worked and helped each other out from time to time came to see themselves as competitors. The mutual assistance of the past died overnight. Corporatisation had arrived and quickly permeated the market changing the culture of funeral service forever. The traditional family names of the business often remained but the founding principles of many of these businesses didn't. The funeral industry, like many others, had moved into a financially driven market.In the past, the staff knew their employers as well as they knew their own families. Instead, with corporatisation, staff would either change industries or change allegiances based on money. For some, this also appeared to be a lucrative time to enter the industry. Subsequently, we have seen a proliferation of small independent funeral operators enter the market. Some have a laptop, and that's it.It is now possible to get trade services in mortuaries, deceased transfers, hire hearse and staff. While there are some excellent trade services around, there are also horror stories of sub-standard quality as the market is increasingly driven by price.An industry that had once moved to the introduction of nationwide infection control standards often now seems more concerned with the length of time that training might take rather than the benefits these skills may bring. Subsequently, few workers within the industry have ever undertaken any form of training in industry-based occupational health and safety.Many traditional operators have made calls for industry regulation and or licensing. This is not new, yet there never seems to be any consensus as to what needs to be regulated or how. Often these calls are based on minimum equipment and vehicle standards. It is difficult to find any evidence around the world that in the absence of any of these standards, any risk to public health exists. Often these calls are based on creating barriers to entry to increase start-up costs.Some say their unscrupulous operators out there. No doubt there is. Yet, in highly regulated professions these unscrupulous operators still exit. So regulation won't stamp them out.So who is your funeral director?Funeral operators are calling themselves many things these days, the latest is a funeral event organiser. Indeed a person may call themselves a funeral director but never handle a deceased. Some of these people may have spent years or even decades in the industry but never had to dress or prepare a deceased. Many of us have heard of instances, where new consultants are given a case and told to see a grieving family on their first day of employment, no experience, no training and no knowledge.A funeral is made of a broad range of services. Foremost the funeral director is engaged for the disposition of the deceased. For some funeral organisers, this is seen as a minor aspect of their services! Whilst there are many new services, such as catering, printed materials, audiovisual now on offer, we should not lose sight of the reasons a family would engage a funeral director in the first place.So maybe its time to recognise funeral directors who are skilled qualified and experienced in all aspects of the funeral industry. Not all funeral directors are the same. Many have spent their life perfecting their skills and craft.Maybe its time to recognise the "Master Undertaker" for their services.So when you engage a funeral service next time, maybe you should ask a few questions?Robert Nelson is a fifth-generation Funeral Director and Managing Director of Robert Nelson Funerals based in Melbourne, Australia, he is a member of the British Institute of Embalmers and has studied and worked in funeral service in both Australia and overseas. ABC Cremations Opens in Melbourne 2020-08-21T23:40:37Z abc-cremations-opens-in-melbourne ABC Cremations has opened in Melbourne. Founder and 5th generation funeral director Robert Nelson, says experience, "knowledge and caring are essential attributes in this business" and with more than 3 decades of personal experience Robert should know. Robert says "ABC Cremation was formed just to assist the increasing number of families wanting, simple, no fuss, affordable, low cost or cheap direct cremation services across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.WHAT ARE DIRECT OR UNATTENDED CREMATIONSUnattended or Direct cremation is the simplest and most affordable form of disposition. We collect you're loved from the place of death and bring them into our care, no viewing or family services are held. Some families choose to have a memorial service or gathering at a later time. Once all documentation is completed your loved one is conveyed to the crematorium for Direct cremation.After the cremation, you can choose to have the cremated remains returned to you or scattered by the crematorium.All arrangements are made via telephone and internet.ABC Cremations only provides for Direct Cremations throughout Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.We keep it simple in order that you can have a simple affordable direct cremation.To keep things simple there is one low fee of $1,499 inc GSTFind out more https://abccremations.com.auor call (03) 8640 0944 Who is your funeral director? 2020-08-21T07:37:34Z who-is-your-funeral-director I was born in the early 1960s. My father was a funeral director, so was my grandfather and his father and his father too. This would later make me a 5th generation funeral director. My forebears came to Australia in search of gold finding their way to the Victorian goldfields, where to make ends meet began an undertaking business. As they were carpenters they were able to manufacture all their own coffins, hence the term furnishing undertakers.In the 1960s we still manufactured our own coffins and living on the funeral home during our early years providing a fascinating playground. Back then all of our coffins were made from solid timbers, not the composite timbers of today. Our funeral home seemed huge as a young child and out the back was our manufacturing area. Raw timber was cut and bent with hot water to make the shoulder of the coffin. French polishers were employed to hand rub and apply polish to the coffins and we even had our own die works where metal handles and fittings were cast. There was a special area where the internal coffin drapery was cut and stitched.There was lots of activity and smells and for a young boy, lots of nails and little nick nacks to play and make things with.For us living in a funeral home as very young children, life was normal and has always been, we were involved in what any other child would do with sport or hobbies. We were always aware of staying away from the office or chapels whilst families or mourners were there and to be quiet. I guess as a young child on a funeral home you inevitably see things you shouldn't and probably like any other child living on a funeral home you did. Going to kindergarden was fun, dad was sometimes busy so one of the drivers would take me in one of the big black mourner's cars, they were huge, you could lie across the back parcel shelf. No doubt some people would think this is weird today, but that was our life and it is what business our family was in. Coffins and caskets were everywhere in the factory, to us they were just boxes or things our family made, not receptacles for the dead. Back then there were no mobile phones, computers, fax, pagers etc. Phones could not be diverted. People had to live on the funeral home and it was very much a husband and wife affair. When the phone rang dad would need to go out and collect the body and later arrange the funeral whilst mum stayed home to answer the phone.When people die away from home dad would often go and collect the body from the county. I remember travelling with him on several occasions. As a child, I quite enjoyed these trips.As we got a little older, we moved off the funeral home and into suburbia and as children didn't spend much time around the funeral home. We did what any other kids did.During my mid-teens, I became involved in the business in a very hands-on way. The Victorian funeral industry had become quite militant (as had many other industries at this time) and the entire industry went on strike. People still keep dying and the work doesn't stop. Our company had contracts with the Coroners office to transfer the deceased to the coroner's office. Reportable death cases included homicide, suicide, road trauma and unknown causes of death.School didn't stop and often during these strike actions, I would assist in the collection of deceased on the way to school. Despite being around death from birth, it was a harsh introduction.I entered the funeral industry full time the day after my 21st birthday, I had worked in hospitality for the 3 years after leaving school. I couldn't believe how similar the two industries were. Although different types of events, funerals were events and there was lots of organising, preparation and skill involved. I dived into it headfirst and wanted to learn everything.For the first few years, I was a funeral directors assistant, collecting deceased, driving the hearse and assisting in up to 4 funerals a day, learning all the time from the most experienced conductors and taking it all in. A conductor is a supervisor and central point of contact for the family. Back then the conductor may have spent many years as a Funeral Directors Assistant before being offered the role as Conductor. They were highly experienced and knowledgable. Sadly today, people are often made conductors the moment they walk through the door, missing out on those years of experience and knowledge.I was fortunate to be able to travel and attend conference, seminars and training sessions around Australia and overseas. During these travels, I was offered training in The United Kingdom and spent a number of months working in funeral homes around London.On return to Australia, I studied and after a few years gained my embalming certificate and was accepted into the British & Australian Institute of Embalmers. In the United States, I trained and specialised in Mass Fatality mortuaries, still an area of interest to me today.Education, learning and knowledge in our industry are ongoing and a necessary part of our professional development sadly once again overlooked by many.Despite the erratic nature of call out work, spending time with my family is the most important part of my life. Happily married with a recently turned teenager we live a very active live and balancing work life is the most difficult thing we have to deal with.The days of the funeral family are fast disappearing with many children choosing not to follow on in their parent's profession. Corporate funeral directors are replacing them and sadly decades of experience and knowledge is also disappearing.So when you next meet a funeral director, you may care to ask them their background and experience.Robert Nelson is Managing Director of Robert Nelson Funerals Pty Ltd AASW launches Reconciliation Action Plan, in the lead up to International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020-08-07T03:03:50Z aasw-launches-reconciliation-action-plan-in-the-lead-up-to-international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples The Australian Association of Social Workers has today launched its third Reconciliation Action Plan July 2020-June 2022, which is an Innovate Plan. It also comes in the lead up to the UN’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples which is on Sunday, 9 August. 2020’s theme is COVID-19 and Indigenous People’s Resilience. AASW’s Reconciliation Action Plan describes the steps the Association can and will take to create opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Social Workers. AASW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative Board Director Linda Ford said, “Our new plan prioritises our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Social Workers and is about taking actions and defining how we work with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in our communities. “With this plan and alongside our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander colleagues, we will strive to be the best possible allies, by actively listening, by decolonising the way we work, by working in partnership and by making sure Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander colleagues and members of our communities shape our work.”Ms Ford said that building authentic relationships requires accepting the truth and understanding.She said, “We also know that to build authentic partnerships requires truth-telling and real understanding. Acknowledging the black history of our country, the historical role of Social Work and the current status of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in our community is essential in building partnerships that are grounded in truth.“I want to commend my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters and all they have done during COVID-19, their resilience and their determination to defend their communities and keep them safe. As this year’s theme for Reconciliation was, we are truly IN THIS TOGETHER.”You can review the AASW Reconciliation Action Plan July 2020-June 2022.You can review the AASW’s webpage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander actions to date, including our 2004 Acknowledgement Statement.ENDSAbout Reconciliation Actions PlansThere are four types of Reconciliation Action Plans endorsed by Reconciliation Australia: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate.To interview Linda Ford, please contact Ellie Cooper on 0413 532 954. Social workers urge government to lead economic recovery by investing in social housing 2020-08-04T06:23:42Z social-workers-urge-government-to-lead-economic-recovery-by-investing-in-social-housing During National Homelessness Week, 2-8 August this year, Australian social workers are calling for more investment in social housing to help end homelessness.Last month, the AASW submission to the Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia, called on the federal government to build or acquire additional social housing. AASW National President Christine Craik said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we can respond to homelessness quickly as a response when there is a threat to public health, and this quick response has protected some of the most vulnerable people in our society. “During this pandemic, the Victorian government has housed many who were homeless as part of a public health response until April next year. We welcome this move, and would argue that this initiative needs to happen on a more permanent basis, not just during a pandemic and needs to be implemented across the country. “We are supporting the Everybody’s Home campaign this week. Building social housing and repairing empty or substandard public housing needs to be prioritised in all neighbourhoods across Australia. This kind of initiative will result in local jobs, economic stimulus and work towards social cohesion across the country. This pandemic has wreaked havoc with our most vulnerable communities and if there is to be one positive thing to come out of this, let that legacy be that this was the time we took a different path around social housing and committed ourselves to eradicating homelessness forever. “For anyone, becoming homeless can feel like a personal failure and many of our cultural myths and negative stereotypes around homelessness and poverty feed into this. You can tell a lot about the health of a community by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. We need to challenge these myths and those negative stereotypes about homelessness and mobilise politically to end homelessness for good. We urge everyone to use this week to engage with the Everybody’s Home campaign.”Social workers know the effects of housing insecurity on vulnerable people. We know the ways in which this intersects and complicates other systemic disadvantage, including family violence, child protection and mental health. See the Scope of Social Work Practice areas in Homelessness, Family Violence, Child Protection and Mental Health. Scope of Social Work Practice – HomelessnessScope of Social Work Practice – Family ViolenceScope of Social Work Practice – Child ProtectionScope of Social Work Practice – Mental HealthENDS Social workers welcome an increase in Medicare mental health sessions in lockdown areas: a start but not the full answer 2020-08-04T01:53:11Z social-workers-welcome-an-increase-in-medicare-mental-health-sessions-in-lockdown-areas-a-start-but-not-the-full-answer The AASW welcomes the announcement by the Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday, 2 August on the increase in Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS)-funded mental health sessions in response to the escalating COVID-19 lockdowns.AASW National President Christine Craik said, “Our social workers who provide these sessions for those accessing mental health supports under Better Access tell us that the expansion of the number of allowable sessions is critical. The effect of the continuation of the lockdown in Victoria, and the growing uncertainty and anxiety that COVID-19 is causing, will see many people requiring additional and long-term support.The AASW has consistently, and persistently, called for an increase in allowable mental health sessions, over a long period of time and not just in response to the COVID-19 situation.Ms Craik said, “As stated in our numerous submissions to the MBS Review, and more recently the COVID-19 Inquiry, we believe MBS Better Access needs to be based on need and level of complexity. One size does not fit all. “Increasing the number of sessions will allow social work mental health professionals to better support individuals to work through the anxiety and complicated presentations we are seeing at this time. And while it is a welcome start, it will not alone be sufficient to address the growing mental health needs of the community and the growing demand on mental health professionals and services. We also need to see an extension of the use of telehealth and technology to support people where it is appropriate. For example, there is a huge need for work to address recovery for those who have experienced family violence. This has never been met in the current structure”We have welcomed the focus the government has placed on the mental health needs of the community through the pandemic, and now is the time to implement the recommendations of the MBS Review Taskforce on Better Access. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) have reported instances of their service users rationing their sessions despite significant concerns about the implications of this, combined with a worsening of symptoms as this pandemic continues. AASW social workers report observing an increase in service users presenting with suicidal thoughts and concerning behaviours. “It is clear that if we are to work to support the mental health of Australians through this pandemic and into recovery, there needs to be adequate service provision, and this is a long-term proposition, not a short-term situation.”The federal government’s MBS review has identified the need for an increased number of sessions and the AASW looks forwarding to continuing to work with government on this issue alongside addressing pay parity for all mental health professionals who are undertaking the same work. All social workers in Australia are supporting people through this current crisis. To locate an accredited mental health social worker, visit the AASW’s GP webpage .ENDSAbout Accredited Mental Health Social Workers Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) are recognised providers with Medicare Australia and other programs, delivering clinical social work services in mental health settings and utilising a range of evidence-based strategies. Members of the public can receive a referral from their GP under Better Access. For more information, see our website. Eliminate heating bill shock with infrared ray heaters 2020-07-21T01:35:11Z eliminate-heating-bill-shock-with-infrared-ray-heaters With heating bills skyrocketing while people are working from home through additional usage, there is a way to bring the cost down but still keep cosy and warm. Data from one energy company shows households are using 16 per cent more electricity during the pandemic than at the same time last year. Heaters that use Far Infrared (FIR) thermal waves as the heat source cost a fraction of the price to run conventional heating and they are also a lot healthier. Infrared ray heaters emit a very high ratio of heat as radiant heat, which heats objects directly, like the sun, rather than warming the air. This means that anyone in the heater’s direction is warm as soon as the heater is turned on.Andatech’s Ionmax Ray Heater is extremely economical to operate, being almost half the cost of reverse cycle air conditioners and almost one third of the operating cost of space heaters.“When working at a table or desk in one room or part of a room, it’s the people who need to keep warm, not the whole air mass,” said Jaka Exstrada, product specialist at Andatech.“In addition, because it’s a portable heater, the Ionmax Ray Heater is ideal for people who rent as it can move homes with the occupants.”The many problems associated with traditional heaters are eliminated with an Ionmax Ray heater. For example: Humidity levels are maintained because the FIR radiation doesn’t dry out the room’s atmosphere, providing a healthier and more comfortable environment.Dust and pollen that cause allergies aren’t blown around rooms because the heat is delivered more efficiently.Heating a large room with high ceilings or drafts can take an age whereas the Ionmax Ray delivers heat instantly, even at a distance and without any glare.Patented designAllowing heat to be delivered where it’s wanted, the Ionmax Ray has a patented design relating to a versatile tilt mechanism, which allows a balanced and smooth 10 degree downward and 30-degree upward movement. It also has an auto swing of 70 degrees and manual rotation of 60 degrees.Extensive safety features are in-built including a child lock, overheat cut-off, tilt-off protection and 10-hour auto switch off.The heater’s easy-to-use control panel allows users to set the timer at one hour increments up to nine hours and determine the level of comfortable heat desired with nine heat settings from 200W to 1200W.Andatech’s Ionmax Ray heater is suitable for the home, study, office, shed or garage and has whisper quiet operation. The bedroom is a perfect location as it doesn’t dry out the air, leaving occupants with a much more refreshing sleep.Priced at $489, it comes with a one-year warranty that can be extended for a further two years.www.andatechdistribution.com.au/products/ionmax-ray-ion801* Check the website for a comparison between standard heaters showing the approximate operating costs per year.About Andatech:Andatech is a 100% Australian owned company that designs, supplies, supports and services safety and wellness products including high quality alcohol and drug testing equipment, and air quality products. The company has the widest range of Australian Standard-certified breathalysers in Australia, which are designed for personal use, in workplaces, at hospitality venues (wall mounted) and as car interlock devices. Drug testing kits cover saliva and urine testing of 7 drug groups providing error-free results. Air quality products include dehumidifiers, air purifiers, humidifiers and aroma diffusers. Other safety products include dash cams and vehicle jump starter power banks. andatech.com.au and andatechdistribution.com.auMedia enquiries:Wendy McWilliams, WMC PR, T: 03 9803 2588 E: wendy@wmcpr.com.auHIGH RES IMAGES AVAILABLE (refer to media release for thumbnails)