Values Based Capitalism: The Imperative of Defining Commitment…

By Denis Bright Editorial insiders at The Weekend Australian (28-29 January 2023)…

A walk in the forest

Bayerischer Wald can be just as hard to get to than it…

An Emergent Premier Chris Minns - Uniting Sydney…

By Denis Bright After more than a decade in Opposition, NSW Labor is…

Forget Australia Day And Celebrate: Rum Rebellion Day…

After pointing out for a number of years that January 26th isn't…

Whither Constitutional Change?

Within a very short space of time, we are going to be…

Distracted by hate, we are robbed

We are at a crossroads. The Ultra High Net Worth Individual (UHNWI)…

Doltish Ways: Biden’s Documents Problem

Through the course of his political life, the current US president has…

From 2016: Captained by Crusaders

This account of an event at the Melbourne Club in 2016 was…


I've lived and learned for quite a number of years. I don't stop learning. A CPA and IT professional transitioning to a new career in health and well-being.

Book Review: Surviving the 21st Century

Surviving the 21st Century Humanity’s Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them is Julian Cribb’s latest book. I was halfway through Chapter Two when I thought, “This book should be mandatory reading for every politician around the globe.” Everyone, politician or not, can benefit and learn from the insights and information Cribb shares with us.

Cribb takes complex global issues and distills them into a crystal clear picture of where we currently stand. Surviving the 21st Century will not be as easy as our leaders would have us believe. After my thought of required reading for politicians, I read the dustjacket reviews. I know, I know – odd timing, convention suggests I should have read them first, but I prefer to make up my own mind.

One of the dustjacket reviews by Professor Clive Hamilton, author of Requiem for a Species and Earthmasters:

With astonishing breadth of knowledge and acute observational skills, Julian Cribb has given us a book that is a kind of report on the state of life on the planet. At the centre of life on earth, he tells us, is the creature known as homo sapiens – self-deceiver, degrader, destroyer, anything it seems but sapiens. And yet, if we peer through the gloom is that a spark we can just make out, the spark of wisdom?

Jenny Goldie, past president of Sustainable Population Australia writes, “This is an important book. Few others deal with so many confronting problems in an integrated way.” The added emphasis is mine. This is what I see as the greatest value of this book to any reader: scientist, politician, educator or layperson. Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas says, “… absolutely essential reading for all politicians and policy makers, voters and young people everywhere. … Grandparents should read the book with particular care.”

Ten Greatest Threats

Cribb takes the ten greatest threats to human existence and suggests we do “the very thing we humans have always done best: understand and find co-operative solutions to life-threatening challenges”. He doesn’t just describe the threats, he offers solutions.

Cribb got me in the first chapter, Homo suilaudans. The Self-Worshipper. He describes how we ended up with the sapiens tag simply so the father of taxonomy could avoid a massive dispute (or possibly worse, given the era) with the religious fanaticism of his time. Heaven help anyone who suggested humans were not some form of divine special creation. Cribb asks the question, did this actually set a terrible trap for humans? Perhaps it did. “A name is who you are.” Or who you think you are, or want to be. As this book so clearly describes, we are not wise. Not at all.

A Topsoil Fact

Some of the facts Cribb covers I was already aware of. But I have learnt much. One learning that I found particularly interesting involves topsoil. Cribb relates how today’s crop varieties are developed to grow in modern, degraded soils. Such crops are lower in micronutrients and higher in carbohydrates and this situation is a major driver of the global obesity pandemic and other diet related diseases. I look at such things from a personal perspective – is this likely to be contributing to the ever increasing and as yet unexplained incidence of auto-immune conditions? I share this to illustrate we are ALL impacted, all readers will find relevance. All of the threats are relevant to all of us – it is our survival at stake.

The water situation globally is horrifying. Deforestation. Population growth. Bringing all these problems together is what Cribb does so well. Big problems, readily solved. If we use some wisdom.

I don’t want to share spoilers – this book is one each reader needs to discover at their own pace. I could not read this book in one session. It is damn scary. It is also immensely encouraging because while the facts are disastrous, Cribb clearly shows there are ways we can get through this. Ways to ensure surviving the 21st century.

If we stop being Homo delusus.

The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.” – Voltaire (Surviving the 21st Century, p 171)

Like, you know, “clean coal”.

Fund Science

One conclusion I came to is the current trend of many in power ignoring science, of slashing funding for scientific endeavour, has to stop. That, my friends, is up to us, the voters.

I’ve never demonstrated or marched – been tempted a few times over the years, but never did. On Saturday, April 22, I marched. For science. I’m interested in surviving. I want my grandchildren to survive. I publish this review on ANZAC Day. My father fought in World War II – he didn’t fight so we could become extinct – at our own hands.

March for Science

 1,038 total views

Accidental Overeating is SO Easy

Today I learnt a valuable lesson about overeating. It is definitely a lesson I should NOT have had to learn (as in, I should already know better), but I’m very glad I did.

Edited to add clarification. I dislike counting calories, but I dislike pain a whole lot more. Given my ability to burn calories has been impacted by medical conditions, I, like many other people facing similar challenges, have to police my input given my reduced output. This is not an option unless I want to live on painkillers.

I had been at St. Vincent’s Hospital this morning for part of a pain management assessment. On the way home I stopped at the gym to do some indoor rowing and hit the treadmill, given walking outdoors in Melbourne’s current weather is a little on the risky side.

After burning off calories, I decided I’d buy myself lunch. I walked past Nando’s but decided to try something new. Two doors down was Spudbar with the tag line “a healthy addiction“.

Spudbar provides heaps of vitamins and minerals in our spuds and also through our range of fresh toppings. Top stuff for those wanting to be healthy and look great.


I was a very good girl and checked out the calories per serve (or so I thought). You see, Nando’s actually do provide nutrition per serve. My mind was working along that line so I didn’t correctly interpret the information I was reading – after all, all I wanted was some lunch! It was while entering the nutritional data into My Fitness Pal that the light dawned.

The nutritional information provided was PER 100 GRAMS, not per serve. The serve size was 663 grams. WHOA! All of a sudden my 365 calories per serve had morphed into a whopping 2,420 calories – more than DOUBLE my target total net daily calorie intake (see note 1). That’s 10,125 Kilojoules for those who prefer the Kj scale! Well over the average adult recommendation of 8,700 Kilojoules (depending on individual gender, age, weight, activity levels etc).

The only sensible thing to do was to stop eating! Which I did. Walked to the counter and asked them to put the remainder into a takeaway container for later.

Had I been paying attention to the size of the serving (or to the column headings), I would have done a quick calculation at a minimum of four calories per gram (see note 2) and realised it must have been more than 365 calories (600 * 4 = 2,400) per serve. But when you are busy and have other things on your mind there is a chance your mind doesn’t really absorb everything being presented to it. Also, humans tend to function on the basis of experience. My experience had been receiving nutrition information per serve in such a situation.

When I got home I weighed the container. 426 grams, meaning I ate over 200 grams, ingesting at least 730 calories. For lunch!

My intention is not to question the healthiness or otherwise of the Spudbar offerings. I will say Spudbar food is DELICIOUS so if you can cope with the calories, enjoy their menu! My intention is to highlight how easy overeating is in our western society. We then wonder why our scales don’t like us the next morning. Had I not been entering my meal information into My Fitness Pal I would not have realised I was overeating and would have merrily chewed my way through 2,420 calories thinking it was a mere 365 calories. I was planning on having enough spare calories banked to allow myself some ice cream today. THAT won’t be happening! If I were a male AFL footballer in my twenties 2,420 calories for lunch may not be a problem. As a 61 year-old woman with some physical restrictions for whom maintaining a healthy weight is essentially mandatory for joint protection and pain management: 2,420 calories for lunch is nothing short of a disaster!

Yes, indeed, caveat emptor. It is not the food vendor’s responsibility to ensure I manage my calories in and out. That is my responsibility. My lesson today was to BE MORE CAREFUL.

I feel very foolish, naturally, but I hope by sharing my stupidity I may alert others to the accidental overeating trap. Or is it just my failing?

Note 1: Personally I aim for 1,200 net calories a day, which means if I burn more, I can eat more. Yesterday I earnt 336 extra from swimming, so ate 1,510 calories. 1,200 + 336 = 1,536.

Note 2: 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates, 9 calories per gram for fat, 7 calories per gram for alcohol.


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 880 total views,  2 views today

I’m right, you’re wrong: that gives me the right to denigrate you

“I’m right, you’re wrong: that gives me the right to denigrate you.” I’m seeing this attitude everywhere. It isn’t constructive. I’ve probably been guilty of it once or twice myself – if I have, I’m sure someone will remind me.

I’m referring predominantly to the political sphere, although I am seeing this behaviour in other areas of life. While such behaviour is not new, it is becoming increasingly normalised in society. Mainstream media has changed over the years, the advent of digital publishing has shortened the news cycle and the click bait wars are a new battle every hour. Social media has arrived giving anyone with an internet connection a voice. Citizen journalists are now a thing. When I was a child an article could take quite some time to reach the media consumers. Now? Not so much. Lack of time leads to lack of quality, whether that be construction, fact checking or context. Living in a post-truth, alternative facts world we now have fake news. Not only that, calling something out as fake news is now a seemingly acceptable defence against unfavourable news reports.

Against that backdrop I see (and if you are honest I think you see it too) an increase in vitriolic attacks. I’ve written about this before, a few years ago: it is my impression it has only gotten worse since then. I am NOT going to reprint specific examples here because I don’t want to give greater exposure to op-eds, tweets, Facebook posts or articles that I feel are far from constructive, even if they illustrate my point. Spend five minutes on Twitter, read an on-line publication or two: it won’t take you long to find your own examples. Be fair – check your own “side” as well as the opponents.

But of course, it is only THEM, the other side, that do it, isn’t it? No, sorry, it isn’t – it is all sides. Not all people, but enough on all fronts, in this battle for the souls of the voters.

If I took everything I read literally, then ALL our politicians are liars and corrupt, the people are ALL either poor leaners, defrauding Centrelink or rich thieves possibly paying no tax, racist and sexist to boot. Some of these descriptions apply to some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. We are not all bad people!

If we are to get along, to improve society, save the environment, and to narrow the gap between the haves and the have-nots we have to accept the “other side” actually believes in their perspective. Or at least some of them do. I’ll admit I have difficulty swallowing the not infrequent “change of heart” statements that occur from time-to-time: I wonder what was the quid pro quo for that change of belief, or was it a genuine learning? Not all learning is correct, of course.

In my professional life at the moment I am working with two distinct groups of people, both with a very different focus in our work environment. We have to implement a solution that encompasses the operational and reporting needs of both groups. Part of my job has been to convince each side to ACCEPT the requirements of the other side as important. I don’t ask that they embrace the requirements of the “others” as their own, just accept those requirements are necessary and valid. From there we can actually have a conversation.

When I look at our political scene I see no understanding, no acceptance that maybe the other side has a valid requirement, argument or justification. What I see is “I’m right, you’re wrong: that gives me the right to denigrate you.” I’ll admit, there are times when I read something and the less altruistic part of me says to myself, “You know, Mr/Ms X, you kinda deserve that”. But I know it won’t solve anything. Some of those memes, articles, tweets are pretty damn vicious. I’ve also read some pretty stupid stuff – one example did the social media rounds yesterday. There is little doubt some will say I am writing pretty stupid stuff.

Why do we do this to “the other side” (bearing in mind we have several “sides” at the moment, some of which seem to be fracturing). We know most of us in our day-to-day life react negatively to being verbally abused. If I was in a hardware store and asked a question and the response implied I was “a bloody stupid idiot” would I be likely to spend my money there? Nope. If you came to me with an Excel question and my response was “What, are you kidding me, you really don’t know that?” in a derogatory tone, my guess is you’d find someone more sympathetic to your plight to assist you. I’ve helped a doctor with her printer – doesn’t mean my doctor is stupid or that I am brilliant: we simply have different professions. Just as we all have different political affiliations – or some of us have none and swing to our hearts content.

Our politicians are all to some extent driven by short term objectives, it is the nature of our political system. They get elected, they have a job for four years – after that who knows? We, the voters, want a long term focus by our government, but we rarely get it. If we had a more bipartisan approach to more issues we might all be better off. To achieve that we need to listen, to understand and to accept the points of view of others. Ensure all are heard. This is not achieved by screaming insults across the lower house floor or political followers hurling vitriolic insults in the media (whether that be on Twitter or in comments on mainstream media articles).

In many cases I am left wondering if the same person would use the same language used in tweets and comments (or articles) if they were standing face-to-face with their target.

The opponents believe, whatever their reasons, they are right. The truth is the people on Centrelink aren’t all defrauding the system or are all leaners, the rich aren’t all environmental vandals intent on pushing the tax burden down the food chain. Everyone wants (at least I hope so) a stable, secure future for their children and equitable opportunities. We seem to be focusing on our differences rather than our similarities. The aim seems to be to beat the other side (or sides) at any cost, even if that cost is high in the long term.

Our personal values and beliefs, many of which are formed during our upbringing, mean our individual understanding of terms such as equitable are different. The less well off want their children to be able to receive a quality education, for example, or aspire to become Prime Minister. The rich simply see that education as the norm and are likely to view becoming PM as part of their “responsibility”. I remember during my time at a private boarding school being told I didn’t belong there because Dad’s farm “wasn’t big enough”. I should have stayed in my place, on the appropriate lower rung of the social ladder as perceived by the speakers. Where did those kids learn that attitude? Yet “toffy” kids have similar insults thrown at them if they stray to the wrong side of the tracks. There is talk of late of the culture wars. It all ties into together: we are building walls. Walls of words. Words of hate. That’s before we even consider racism, sexism and religious differences.

Telling others they are stupid, don’t understand, are crooks, liars (without proof) etc is not going to encourage them to communicate. Part of the problem is the speed at which any of us can now react. Think back to the days when the only way a reader could register a comment for all to see was by writing a letter to the editor and hoping it got published. This took time. The letter author thought about the letter before writing, had somewhat cooled down by the time the letter was written, posted it (in an envelop with a stamp!), the editorial staff reviewed it, may or may not have edited it, may or may not publish it some days after the original article.

Today we can comment instantly. Yes, some sites are moderated, but the moderators then face charges of silencing free speech if they shut down inappropriate comments. It is a minefield. Any of us, right wing nut jobs, lefty loonies and PHONys, can fire off angry missives within ten seconds and as few as 140 characters. Often this is almost troll-like, although many would never consider themselves trolls (that’s everyone else, right?). Dig, stir, fuel the fire. There is safety in numbers, so those of like mind collude. This isn’t premeditated collusion, it happens on the fly, like the little bubbles of mercury joining together.

I know I have a tendency to draw together/link aspects of human life that others see as disparate. My article about possibly hating ourselves into oblivion was one such article. While I understand my perspective may be different, my objective is to encourage people to see the many threads converging. Before it is too late.

I once worked for a boss who was adamant a supplier could offer a cheaper price. I asked how, realistically, was the supplier going to achieve that given the supplier was also entitled to make a profit. The response? “That’s his problem”. No, it isn’t. Simplified, it is the problem of the whole supply chain. Supplier A pushes Supplier B (to Supplier A) for a cheaper price and so on down the line. Where, exactly does it stop? When the suppliers go out of business. I have worked for completely different bosses, that recognise our business is better served if the suppliers to our business actually stay in business. I suggest the first boss thinks only of the now and his ability to present himself well to his boss. The others take a longer term and broader view, wanting to benefit the many, not the one. I’ll leave you to work out which boss I did not respect. This is not the attitude we need in our representatives. Coal is the first boss, renewables the other bosses, if you like.

We must start to listen, to communicate in valid and meaningful conversations about the things that matter. We must elect leaders and representatives who can work together, not fight a constant blame game and drive us all to distraction in the process. They must be open to taking advice from qualified and experienced experts such as scientists. The media have a vital role to play in informing the voters and holding our representative accountable. In today’s advertising revenue driven world the media are often between a rock and a hard place – excellence takes time and skill. Time is a commodity we, well, we don’t have time for any more. Not, it seems, in the news cycle. I’ve read some articles lately that I actually have no idea what the article was trying to tell me – a visual soundbite with little substance at all.

Our representatives must also be willing, or to put it more bluntly, have the balls, to hold their colleagues accountable.

The punishment meted out to those in positions of power who transgress is not seen to be equitable, another thread that intertwines with all the others. In some cases these transgressions may quite legitimately be a case of simply forgetting a form or using the wrong card by accident (I have three cards in my wallet, two are black in colour and I’ve certainly forgotten the odd form or two in my life), in other cases there may be deliberate attempts to be dishonest. The vitriol that flies across the inter-webs is horrific, irrespective of intent, evidence, restitution or any other factors. We need to see fairness and accountability uniform in order to reduce the vitriol. If there were confidence in the systems, the outcries would hopefully decrease. I do fear one day a perfectly nice person who legitimately made a mistake is likely to be driven to self-harm. Not everyone copes with being attacked relentlessly. Perhaps people who would be valuable in our government will never take the risk.

Despite what I say here, there are aspects of being nice and engaging I find extremely difficult. The best I can do is try to “do unto others as I would they should do unto me”. People ignoring science, for example. How do we engage such people to expand their knowledge and understanding? Calling them morons is probably not the way to go, although I’ll admit to often wanting to scream “How can you be so bloody stupid?”

I’m an atheist, so the sort of theocracy espoused by Mike Pence horrifies me. Again, I want to scream “How can you be so bloody stupid?” But Mike Pence clearly fervently believes what he believes – telling him he is bloody stupid will only reinforce his view of atheists as the enemy, it certainly won’t encourage him to want to allow the non-religious any meaningful place in society because he is ultimately lead to believe we have value – and rights.

Equally, I have to accept he believes, may always believe, I am an evil non-believer who will go to hell. We both have a right to exist on this planet.

Hopefully we can co-exist.

 614 total views,  2 views today

Stranded RTO Students under Stress

Students are stranded as the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) fail rate leaves us in a stressful limbo.

Add Australian Careers Institute to the list, otherwise known as Sage Institute (of Fitness, Childcare, Massage and Aged Care, among others). I am (or is that technically “was”) a student of Sage Institute of Fitness.

As a student I am not about to enter the political blame game of which party did what, when or why. Mr Birmingham, right now the buck stops with you because you are in charge. Australia cannot leave students high and dry.

In correspondence received today, students are advised the following (emphasis added):

Students may still be liable to pay for the portion of the course that has been delivered. The Administrators will be in contact with those effected in separate correspondence.


We will endeavour to provide Statements of Attainment and Certificates during the administration period so long as resources are available.

The following holds out some hope.

The Group is a member of ACPET’s Tuition Assurance scheme. This is a scheme that provides support to students of closed colleges as per government guidelines. ACPET will shortly (in the next 3 to 4 business days) be contacting all affected students to outline their options moving forward. This includes:

Placing them with another training provider of the student’s choice;

Arranging re-credits of VET FEE HELP loans; and / or

Coordinating refunds of amounts paid to the Group.

I have spoken to ACPET, as have other students equally concerned about their future. At this stage ACPET are unable to provide specific advice. I have also contacted my local MP.

Many of us are almost complete. We have finished all class contact hours and are finalising our last assignment, an assessment done as part of the required 120 hours of practical placement. From the above correspondence we really do not know what will happen to us. In my case, I only need that last assignment marked and half of another I had at home for reference when Sage went into Administration. Other students are in similar positions, while yet others have scrambled to complete over the last few weeks. Students not so far advanced in their courses may (or may not) be in better positions to transfer to other providers.

I have received no communication from Sage. The first communication to all students received from the Administrator was, in my case, addressed to “Dear Stephen”. A follow-up letter to all students was addressed to “Dear Student”. As an IT professional, I can guess the most probable cause, however it did add insult to injury.

A new career was a choice I made when I was made redundant in 2015. Rheumatoid Arthritis means sitting at a desk all day is not the best approach to pain management. Exercise is. By changing careers I could not only help others in a similar physical/health situation, but also help myself. It made sense. Also, unemployment and I do not make good bedfellows.

When we were enrolled, we were told we would be able to work after six months of the course. This was great news to many students and we took this as a major benefit of doing the course. However, when we tried to work, we found this was not true.

I wrote a letter to Sage, the opening paragraph is below.

When I enrolled in this course I was very clearly told I would be able to work after six months, providing I had passed the requisite units to that point of the course. I now discover this is not correct. Fitness Australia will not register students part-way through this course, even if we have exceeded the requirements of Certificate IV. Unfortunately, I only discovered this after I had paid for the requisite insurance and registered a business name. There are tax implications as well, as without declarable revenue, expenses are not claimable.

Some twenty other students co-signed my letter and a meeting was held. Sadly, there was little resolution to be had. The situation was blamed on a miscommunication by the Sales Department. Poor consolation for those students who had budgeted on being able to earn money. Not foreseeing the current state of affairs, I went ahead and registered my trademark at not inconsiderable cost.

Another student is in his mid-forties and needs to work – he has two school age children. Another is turning fifty later this year and while he has other revenue streams, he also needs to work. We ALL need to work. We had university students in our class who need to work to fund their university education. We had other students who, like me, have health and/or medical reasons for doing the course. The common thread is we all are now stressed and in limbo.

We all made sacrifices to study for the year: our families made sacrifices to help us. Children missed Saturdays with their Dads, spouses missed their partners, household budgets were adjusted. It is not just the students who are affected. Some of us travelled considerable distances to attend school. At one point I was living in Craigieburn, working in Geelong and studying in the Melbourne CBD. All the travelling meant I could not realistically do practical placement hours at the same time. Another student had a senior managerial job and simply could not fit in practical placement hours and work and study – but that was OK at the time as we had twelve months after the completion of class contact hours to finish our practical placement hours. Now it appears that provision has been swept away.

Another complication that affected different students to varying degrees was Sage offered no assistance to organise the 120 hours of practical placement or the five individual people needed for the final assignment. Due to my age, specific area of interest and some physical limitations I found arranging practical placement difficult, let alone finding five athletes (the athlete requirement was later modified). When I did finally find a gym and a mentor and subjects, I was part-way through when the gym changed hands. The new operators are very kindly allowing me to continue, however now I don’t know if my work will be counted. To start again from scratch at my age would be a very difficult situation. Other mature age students face the same difficult choice.

Have we just wasted a year? Are we going to be left with an $18,500 VET-FEE debt (or payments to date lost) and no qualification? We do not know. This is extremely stressful. Of course, the number one instruction from my medical specialist is “keep stress out of your life”.

We, the students, had no part to play in reducing the TAFE system or in the growth of RTOs. Whether it was Labor, Liberal, Greens or One Nation is irrelevant to us. We, the students deserve better, more timely communication clearly addressing our concerns and offering us viable solutions. It is my understanding other students of other failed RTOs are in exactly the same situation as Sage students. The article below cites $32 million over two years for Sage alone – what is the total for all failed RTOs?

The college earned more than $32 million over two years through the now-scrapped VET FEE-HELP loan scheme, while graduating 45 per cent of students.

A hearing in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in October heard the college had spent $6 million marketing Commando Steve’s unique “cutting edge” Diploma of Fitness Coaching Course in one year.

Source: SMH

I feel for the staff, who have been made redundant. I know what that feels like. The teachers were wonderful and are as much victims of this disaster as the students are. They have done their best to try and finalise as many of us as possible, but in some cases it just isn’t possible.

The disabled have also been impacted (emphasis added).

Up to 3000 disabled students are at risk of having funding cut to their vocational education courses after the NSW government suspended 17 providers for failing to meet minimum standards under the Smart and Skilled program.

Source: SMH

While there has been some criticism of Sage in the press in the past and I have criticised Sage in this article, it is my experience Sage were trying to do the right thing. There was investment in new equipment and additional practical class areas. Appropriate flooring was installed. When students complained about the selling technique described above, management did engage with us. The teachers they employed were caring, knowledgeable and dedicated. I had to adjust my expectations of the academic standards required: I have a university degree and the standards set for vocational training are quite different, understandably. I was, as a student, quite critical of some of the course and assessment material yet I needed to be mindful I was not at a tertiary institution.

So many RTOs “going under” all at once may not be entirely their fault. The VET-FEE scheme has been terminated. It seems as part of the change-over to a replacement scheme, RTOs were not paid.

The college, which has campuses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, had received no federal government money since late 2016, after the axing of the scandal-ridden VET FEE-HELP scheme caused cash to “dry up”.

Source: SMH

No business can survive if the cash-flow suddenly disappears. Rent still has to be paid, teachers still have to be paid. Would Sage (and other RTOs) have survived if the matter had been handled better by the government department responsible? It seems to me this question is not being investigated sufficiently. Personally, I would prefer to see the TAFE system adequately funded: however I don’t like to see blame apportioned where it may not belong.

What would students find an acceptable resolution? I would be happy to have my VET-FEE debt adjusted to the level for Cert IV and receive a Cert IV qualification. Other students I have spoken to agree this would be an acceptable resolution for those of us who have completed the class contact hours and passed all the assessments related thereto. I stress this may not be acceptable to all by any means, but could be an option acceptable to some. Most of us have far exceeded the practical placement hours required for a Cert IV and although the course structure was different, surely the content in its entirety is comparable? We enrolled in the twelve month diploma because of the broader coverage, however we can all undertake continued professional development. Cert IV would enable us to be registered as professionals with Fitness Australia. We could then either launch our own businesses or seek employment. For many of us, studying for another twelve months is really not an option, no matter how dedicated we may be.

On behalf of my fellow students I ask the government to not enter into a blame game but to concentrate on the welfare of the students so unfairly and unexpectedly impacted by the current situation.

If you are an RTO student impacted by the current turn of events, please share your situation in the comments below, anonymously if you prefer. We need to remind the powers that be there are PEOPLE involved here, not just organisations who may or may not have tried to do the right thing. That is not our decision to make.

Footnote: For those who previously asked for an unemployment status update (refer article linked to above), yes, I am currently working in a role I love with great people in a great organisation. In a contract role: it will come to an end. I still need (and want) my fitness qualifications.


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 710 total views,  2 views today

Will we hate ourselves into oblivion?

Look around you, my friends. Hate. Everywhere. At first I thought to myself “this is worse than it has ever been”. Then I remembered the Holocaust, two World Wars, the Crusades, the Inquisition. Maybe this is just the next wave. It seems worse because the global population is the most it has ever been, so there is more hate noise spewing forth. But is it worse per capita? Probably not. Too many people shouting out hate for “the other side” rather than listening, comprehending, learning: the very things humans pride themselves on being able to do that allegedly separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

This time IS different though. This time our home is at stake.

“Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate,” said biologist Paul Ehrlich, of Stanford University in California. “We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”

Despite the scientific community becoming more vocal than ever before, many countries, prominent, influential countries, have leaders who deny there is any environmental problem at all. Trump declares concerns a hoax perpetrated by China, Turnbull changes his mind once Prime Minister and, believe it or not, there are worse waiting in the wings. I don’t understand David Archibald at all, nor am I going to try.

I do understand people having different views, perspectives, beliefs, religions. What I struggle with is the vitriol of discourse, the hatred expressed. Nothing will be solved if the best the human race can do is hate the other side.

We have the unthinkable happening in the USA: press freedom under threat. Sure, some members of the media have not maintained the required degree of professionalism in recent years. The internet has made it difficult to determine the real from the unreal, a large proportion of the populace has become addicted to “reality TV shows” (that bear no resemblance to reality at all).

There is no escaping, however, the seriousness and historical learnings from silencing the press.

It isn’t just the press. As the people rise up in protest in the USA, those in power move to shut them down – in eighteen states. THE democracy that held itself up as THE political system all countries should follow, whether they wanted to or not, is trying to silence the people.

Hillary Clinton called the Trump supporters “deplorables”. Not a sensible move. Trump spoke of “draining the swamp” (but refilled it with worse).

There is no doubt Trump lies. The evidence is overwhelming and easily found. In Australia we have our current Brandis issue: not the first and not the last.

The efforts to disenfranchise the general populace is astounding. Trump’s administration is busy winding back school lunches, health care and protections for the LGBT community. The Turnbull government just readjusted penalty rates, probably on the basis parents’ should be buying houses for their children rather than the children working Sundays to put fuel in the car to attend their classes to try to get that good job to be able to afford their own house before they are forty.

But, you ask, where is the hate in all of that? Indifference might indeed be a better description of some of the actions taken, but that indifference leads to the have-nots hating the haves. The haves don’t listen, don’t learn, don’t comprehend and react with hatred.

During WWII we had the capacity to destroy ourselves. Surprisingly, we managed not to. Today we have even greater capacity to hate ourselves into oblivion. Whether than be by destroying our planet due to environmental mismanagement fueled by greed or firing nuclear and chemical weapons around the globe, we have more than enough capacity to annihilate ourselves.

The biggest threats are the “wannabe haves”. The ones that aren’t the billionaires but see politics as an avenue to power and prestige. Pauline Hanson – from fish and chip shop owner to a very nice high profile, well paying, powerful role. Both Hanson and Trump generate hate by attacking anyone who is not like them. Their followers take up arms, literally, in the belief they are faithfully following their leaders. What I do not understand is the inability of the followers to assess these dangerous leaders with critical thought processes. The blind adoration and acceptance is astounding. What have we become? Can we no longer think for ourselves? People like Trump and Hanson seize upon the lack of critical thought in the the population as an opportunity for them to rise to power, yet crush the very voters that put them there. Before we know it, we WILL be repeating history.

Even if we successfully manage not to blow ourselves up, we are at risk of stressing ourselves out of existence. Google “stress” with “health” and there are number of reputable articles.

Not having a lunch at school is stressful. Not being able to afford health care is stressful. Missing classes because the student is unable to afford to get to class or buy textbooks is stressful. Renting is stressful (refer Sally’s Tweets above). Being unemployed is stressful. Not having food to feed your children is stressful. Stress is cumulative and a massive health risk.

The human race must find a way to stop hating “the others” and work together for the benefit of all. Until that happens, every single one of us is at risk.


 875 total views

Where are my (and your) taxes going?

While I was at Births, Deaths and Marriages I was stunned at the state of the waiting area. The seats were filthy. A friend asked “Did someone die or give birth on those seats?” when I shared the photo. Another along similar lines: “The right chair is for births, left chair for deaths. I’d hate to see the chair that’s used for marriages…”. Perhaps slightly flippant comments, but seriously, it is hard to understand how anything else could have made these seats quite this filthy. I noticed there seems to be a replacement program in progress as some seats are now plastic.

I then happened to find myself in Melbourne Central Station. Looking, as it happens, for a public bathroom. When I finally found one, the floor was filthy. Had nature not been demanding I obey, I would have found another convenience. Trust me, the photo is not nearly as bad as the reality.

Lack of cleanliness

We know the numbers of public servants employed per capita has drastically reduced over the years. Anyone who calls Centrelink knows not being placed on hold is an impossible dream. Yet The Sydney Morning Herald shares with us today that our federal government gave permission for Australia Post to keep the CEO’s $5.6 million salary a secret. Not technically a public servant, but such action is indicative of their perspective. Perhaps if we employed more taxpaying public servants at more realistic wages than $5.6 million per annum, we might have lower unemployment figures, have a phone answered at Centrelink and even, perhaps, we might have CLEAN facilities.

We all seem to pay a lot of tax (unless we are mining companies) to fund public services. Yet our hospitals are strapped for cash, TAFE is being killed off and the private education replacement isn’t working too well (the RTO I’m enrolled with has just gone into Administration, among others). I’m sure TAFE could have educated me for less than the $18,500 the course cost.

ROGUE operators drained billions of dollars in public funds through the vocational education system after a failed attempt to open the sector to the free market.



I know a few dirty seats and a dirty floor are not the worst things happening in Australia right now. However, they are very coal face indicators of a downhill trend.

As a taxpayer, I have simple expectations. I expect universal health, education, law enforcement, public transport and roads, environmental protection and various other services such as driver registration, births deaths and marriages and so on. Oh, and a decent NBN.

So far in the last twelve months I’ve broken a wheel (not just a flat tyre, broke the whole wheel) on the A10 and my car nearly fell into a huge pothole on the Westgate/M80 interchange. My RTO has gone into administration, I see our government risking destruction of our already fragile environment. I’m still on ADSL of some variety. I’m just one little person. Then I can’t find a clean seat to sit on.

Where are my taxes going?


It’s the economy, Stupid.

 686 total views,  2 views today

Would you give your bank statements to Births, Deaths & Marriages?

For reasons of privacy, I don’t like giving my bank statements to the government – but I’ve just been required to do exactly that.

After four marriages the time had come: I’m reverting to my birth name. While most people married and divorced within Victoria would have no problem reverting to their birth name, I am sure many other women in Victoria fall into my category: getting married overseas causes issues.

It starts when you get married overseas. While Australia recognises overseas marriages for most legal purposes, an overseas marriage certificate is not recognised for legally changing one’s name. For that (in Victoria at least), a Change of Name is required. Once you have had one Change of Name, you can forever thereafter only change your name by applying for another Change of Name.

To apply for a Change of Name at Births, Deaths and Marriages you must provide proof you have lived in Victoria for the preceding twelve months. There are four ways you can prove this, as shown in the above photo.

I had been living with my daughter and her husband for ten of the twelve months. Therefore I have no utility accounts covering the period. I did not have a lease agreement with my daughter (although Centrelink accepted a rent certificate from her). I was not enrolled in a Victorian tertiary institution (I was enrolled at an RTO). That left me with only one option – providing twelve months bank statements showing Victorian transactions.

When I objected on the grounds of not only privacy but also security (Births, Deaths and Marriages now has all the information required to impersonate me on the phone to the bank) I was told everything was strictly confidential as they are a government registry. Excuse my concern, but in my experience that doesn’t absolutely guarantee security. One just needs to look at the Trump leaks at the moment for evidence of that.

I also asked why a statutory declaration from my daughter was not acceptable. After all, Centrelink had no issue with accepting the situation. “Centrelink and us operate differently“, I was told.

So, much against my better judgement, I handed over twelve months worth of bank statements.

I can understand a car registration not being acceptable as proof I have been living here. After all, yes, I could live in NSW but own a car in Victoria which I let a family member drive. I’m not sure why my mobile phone records would not be acceptable, but then again do I want them knowing who I have called any more than I want them to have my purchasing history? We are required by law to change our address with VicRoads within fourteen days of moving, so I am not sure why my licence was not acceptable proof.

My situation is, I admit, rather unique. However I can’t help but feel this is yet another example of “big brother” being just a little too brotherly. There are other ways to prove I’ve been living in Victoria: payslips from employers, Centrelink communications to me in Victoria, licence (as noted above), medical bills from Victorian providers, a statutory declaration.

This whole situation made me feel decidedly uncomfortable. I am seriously considering closing that bank account and opening a new one. For security purposes.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages staff were lovely. They don’t write the policies, they just have to follow them.

 952 total views

The United and Ununited States of America 2030

Way back in 2016, when Donald Trump won his first election, I had sworn never to return to the USA while he was at the helm. I was 61 then, now I’m 74. The age when we attend more funerals than weddings, birthdays and christenings combined. So, it recently came to pass that I wanted very much to attend a dear friend’s funeral. In Mississippi.

Now, in 2030, we don’t know much about the USA. You see, by the time the 2020 election happened, many people were no longer allowed to vote. If a person was unemployed (and there were a LOT of unemployed by 2020), they could not vote. If a person was female, they could not vote. If a person had not been born in the USA, they could not vote. If they were a known LGBTIQ person, they could not vote. Trump was elected again. That was the last election in the USA. Trump, now 83, continued to tweet every morning but everyone except his fans ignored him.

By 2018 California was no longer part of the USA. Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode, Island, Vermont and New Jersey had all left the federation by 2021. They were now, if you like, the Ununited States of America. Yet to form a new nation formally, negotiations were ongoing. It was a bit like the Europe of old. Most of the military had aligned with the Ununited States, something that had apparently infuriated Trump because he could no longer threaten to invade other nations. Canada and several of the other Ununited States had built walls. Mexico had built a wall along the Texas/Mexico border, but California and Mexico enjoyed a mutually profitable and politically stable relationship.

I landed in Los Angeles as I always had in the past, to then be interrogated at the USA/California border before continuing my journey into the unknown. Although as an Australian, I could still get a visa waiver for California, the USA demanded to interview every non-citizen at the border. As there were no longer embassies around the world (except in Russia) it was impossible to be interviewed in Sydney or Melbourne prior to travel. Travellers were advised to allow a minimum of five hours for the interrogation.

The alternative of flying into Dallas Fort Worth, Texas was risky. If I got refused a visitor visa in California, I could just go back to my hotel. If I was refused a visitor visa on arrival in Dallas Forth Worth, I’d be incarcerated overnight then put on a return flight. While the chances of my being incarcerated were slim, I hoped, I did have a vocal anti-Trump history – if they found it. My phone was a disposable and I had a little old lady Facebook profile for just this sort of thing. Better not to take the risk.

California didn’t look much different than it had done when I had last visited in September 2016. The airport was just as busy as ever, although security was a little tighter. This, I was told, was to manage the never-ending stream of refugees from the USA. Trump, it seemed, had no problem with people leaving – if they weren’t with the program, they could go. The problem, of course, was California and the other Ununited States just didn’t have the capacity. What had started as a trickle had become a deluge in recent years.

I stayed overnight in LA. The hotel was luxurious without being ostentatious, the service was good, the staff were happy.

The next day I had a contact drive me around. I saw little evidence of homelessness or unemployment. California was a hive of activity. There was not a gun in sight except for the police. I read the local papers and watched the news channels. The crime rate was significantly lower than the peak in 2018, just prior to California leaving the federation.

Then came the time to go to the airport to fly into Trump territory. The queues were short – no-one was going in unless they had to. The five hours involved questioning and the immigration agents delving through the travellers’ phones, iPads, cameras, social media, emails and extended family connections. A lengthy questionnaire was required to be responded to in person. I almost expected to be blood tested. Finally, travellers were fingerprinted and x-rayed. I mean really x-rayed. On a table. At least this obviated the need for an internal examination. At 74 I wasn’t too keen on that idea.

There were plenty of empty seats on the plane. I popped up the armrests after take-off and slept much of the way. The plane wasn’t clean, the toilets smelt, there were not enough cabin attendants. The arrival lounge was grim. The one thing I noticed was no-one was smiling. I mean no-one. There was almost a suspicion of anyone getting off the plane, a “Why would you come here?” expression on peoples’ faces. It was very disconcerting.

In my taxi to the hotel I noticed an odd gender imbalance. There were old white men by the score, many fewer young men of any ethnicity and very few young women. I asked the taxi driver, “Where are all the women?” He scowled. In a deep southern drawl, he told me the women leave. They marry out, mostly to Chinese and Indian men (two countries with a historical shortage of women), he spat. His language was not quite as polite as I have relayed.

The people and the place looked poor, like a third world country. I’ve been to third world countries, I recognised the look, the smell, the facial expressions. The buildings were neglected, the roads badly needed repair, many of the traffic lights no longer worked. Businesses were boarded up.

What children there were (given the shortage of women) didn’t seem to be in school, but roaming the streets aimlessly. Homelessness seemed to be rife – and I was in the better part of town.

The hotel was reasonably clean, but everything was old. It was as if nothing had been replaced or refurbished for fifteen years. The food was passable, the service was sullen.
If I had to sum up the atmosphere in one word, it would be despair. No-one seemed to be happy. Everyone seemed to be living hand to mouth.

The television was obviously tightly controlled. As was the internet and print media (yes, it still existed). The news was strictly local and all wonderfully good. Trump’s policies were working, people were happy, wasn’t it terrific. Trump was the best President the world had ever seen. There might have been 1% happy, the faces I was looking at were certainly not.

I had been going to stay a few days, spend time with people I knew. I couldn’t, the place was too depressing. As soon as I had paid my respects at the funeral, I left. I spent those days in California.

I have never been so glad to reach Australian soil as I was today.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

 751 total views,  1 views today

Authoritarian regimes: Zimbabwe, Venezuela, next the USA

It is no secret I had grave concerns about the suitability of Donald J Trump. Now I’m having trouble sleeping at night. I’d like to pull together several articles I read today. Each paints a concerning picture in its own right. Together, they almost spell Armageddon. I’ve always been concerned about not what is happening today, but where it is leading. This is not just some small country having a few political issues. This is one of most powerful countries in the world – the outcome affects us all, especially other democracies. We’ve already seen our own government embrace Trump’s immigration bans.

The first is an article by Jennifer Wilson on this site, Trump’s Chief Strategist: I want to bring everything crashing down.

The relationship between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon is an unholy alliance, in which the shared goal is the destruction of institutions, and the undermining of the authority of traditional agents of governance and administration in the US.

There is a Twitter hashtag of #PresidentBannon indicating he is seen as the power behind the throne. He may have more difficulty than he thinks, trying to use Trump for his own agenda, as we shall see later in this article. That aside, he is a nasty piece of work with a lot of power as Wilson evidences.

The second article, How to Build an Autocracy, is written by David Frum, who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush during 2001–02. Not exactly, one suspects, a man wearing a democratic button.

First Frum paints the future.

The business community learned its lesson early. “You work for me, you don’t criticize me,” the president was reported to have told one major federal contractor, after knocking billions off his company’s stock-market valuation with an angry tweet. Wise business leaders take care to credit Trump’s personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his family.

The media have grown noticeably more friendly to Trump as well. The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner was delayed for more than a year, during which Time Warner’s CNN unit worked ever harder to meet Trump’s definition of fairness. Under the agreement that settled the Department of Justice’s antitrust complaint against Amazon, the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has divested himself of The Washington Post. The paper’s new owner—an investor group based in Slovakia—has closed the printed edition and refocused the paper on municipal politics and lifestyle coverage.

Then he goes on to look at the global situation, citing a “democratic recession” – democracies are in decline.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then—but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Larry Diamond, a sociologist at Stanford, has described the past decade as a period of “democratic recession.” Worldwide, the number of democratic states has diminished. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated.

What has happened in Hungary since 2010 offers an example—and a blueprint for would-be strongmen. Hungary is a member state of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country.

He then looks at Trump’s relationship with the congressional Republicans.

Trump has scant interest in congressional Republicans’ ideas, does not share their ideology, and cares little for their fate. He can—and would—break faith with them in an instant to further his own interests. Yet here they are, on the verge of achieving everything they have hoped to achieve for years, if not decades. They owe this chance solely to Trump’s ability to deliver a crucial margin of votes in a handful of states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—which has provided a party that cannot win the national popular vote a fleeting opportunity to act as a decisive national majority. The greatest risk to all their projects and plans is the very same X factor that gave them their opportunity: Donald Trump, and his famously erratic personality. What excites Trump is his approval rating, his wealth, his power. The day could come when those ends would be better served by jettisoning the institutional Republican Party in favor of an ad hoc populist coalition, joining nationalism to generous social spending—a mix that’s worked well for authoritarians in places like Poland. Who doubts Trump would do it? Not Paul Ryan. Not Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. For the first time since the administration of John Tyler in the 1840s, a majority in Congress must worry about their president defecting from them rather than the other way around.

It is a long article, but well worth reading in full.

Jane Caro has written The Virtual Reformation. Caro looks at why we are where we are.

Social researcher Hugh Mackay has dubbed our times an ‘Age of Anxiety’. All the old certainties have been turned upside down and the only thing that we are told we can rely on is an ever-increasing pace of change.

To a jittery population that is cold comfort. In our existential dread we thrash about for people to blame: the left, the right, Muslims, refugees, feminists, believers, unbelievers, terrorists and that reliable old omnibus – political correctness. The one thing we all agree on is that the future looks alarming and unpredictable. We are, we believe, in uncharted waters.

But perhaps that is not so. Perhaps human beings have been through something like this before.

Final words of warning from Andrés Miguel Rondón, In Venezuela, we couldn’t stop Chávez. Don’t make the same mistakes we did.

The recipe for populism is universal. Find a wound common to many, find someone to blame for it, and make up a good story to tell. Mix it all together. Tell the wounded you know how they feel. That you found the bad guys. Label them: the minorities, the politicians, the businessmen. Caricature them. As vermin, evil masterminds, haters and losers, you name it. Then paint yourself as the savior. Capture the people’s imagination. Forget about policies and plans, just enrapture them with a tale. One that starts with anger and ends in vengeance. A vengeance they can participate in.

That’s how it becomes a movement. There’s something soothing in all that anger. Populism is built on the irresistible allure of simplicity. The narcotic of the simple answer to an intractable question. The problem is now made simple.

If we look at all those threads, we can see the interweaving. For days I had been thinking of Mugabe and seeing Trump as the Western version. Then I read about Chávez.

As Frum highlights in his article, it is not now we need to worry about – it is in four, five, six years time. Unless we stop it now. Unless the American people stop it NOW.

There is a another article which is the match that will light the flames: in these days of fake news, however, I am wary. While the article is reported in many places, I can’t find it on a mainstream website such as Washington Post – but then, does that mean anything these days?

John D. Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who taught psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, minces as few words as the president in his professional assessment of Trump.

“Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president,” says Gartner, author of “In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography.” Trump, Gartner says, has “malignant narcissism,” which is different from narcissistic personality disorder and which is incurable.


The diagnosis is particularly worrying due to the behaviours of the patient. Behaviours that benefit only themselves – at any cost. Yes, Gartner broke his professional code to speak out, because he believes people need to know.

Robert Kuttner writes in The Huffington Post of The Inevitability Of Impeachment.

Only with his lunatic effort to selectively ban refugees (but not from terrorist-sending countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt where Trump has business interests) has Trump discovered that the American system has courts. It has courts. Imagine that.

The more unhinged he becomes, the less will conservative judges be the toadies to ordinary Republican policies that they too often have been. Anybody want to wager that the Supreme Court will be Trump’s whore?

In the past week, Republicans from Mitch McConnell on down have tripped over each other rejecting his view of Putin. They have ridiculed his screwball claim of massive voter fraud.

I believe this was written BEFORE the President fired his acting attorney general. I’m waiting for him to try to fire a judge, which he is not empowered to do.

We have every reason to be concerned. We also need to heed the lessons available to us and ensure this doesn’t happen in Australia.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

 1,343 total views,  2 views today

Customer Service is dead, at least at Optus

Customer Service is now Customer Obfuscation. I moved residence very early in January. During the week prior to the move I rang Optus to organise an internet connection. The internet is vital to my work and my study. I was told 18 days and that no technician would need to come to my home. I thought 18 days was an inordinately long time to wait for an internet connection in this day and age but I was sort of stuck – my mobile is with Optus: about the cheapest I could get was by bundling internet with my mobile. Apparently the delay is due to Telstra needing to do something technical in a box outside the premises. Why that takes so long is also beyond me.

Optus use Toll to deliver the modem. There was a saga with that as well, but I will not go into the details today – suffice to say it was added stress.

I called when I had not seen or heard of any modem, or any internet account details. I was assured I would have internet “after 7 pm tonight, just wait until 7 pm”. That’s lovely, I said, but I do not have a modem yet.That was on Thursday, January 19. I finally received my modem, left at the door unattended, on Friday, January 20. There was no internet, however. I called again, only to be advised that a technician needed to come out to connect the premises.

You may remember I was specifically told by Sales this would not be necessary. Of course this couldn’t happen on a Friday evening – no after hours availability. I demanded to speak to a supervisor and that was initially refused. This is important, because it is almost impossible to lodge a complaint with Optus – but more on that later. By the time I did speak to one I was quite stressed. This saga had gone on long enough and in my view Optus should have been bending over backwards to keep the customer satisfied. I was rather cross I’d been told no install technician was needed, only to discover at the last minute that one was indeed required.

That, I was told, was the fault of Sales. I should ring them and given them feedback, it was suggested. No, I countered, you call them and give the feedback. The next bit stunned me. The supervisor advised Support could not call Sales to provide feedback. What? Optus is a telecommunications company but can’t “telecommunicate” internally? No because the phones are for the customers, I was told. I can understand the Level 1 technicians not being able to call Sales, but a supervisor should be able to.

All this time Optus were gleefully charging me $10 a gigabyte for tethering my devices to my mobile data – thankfully that weekend a very kind neighbour allowed me to connect to her wi-fi.

On Saturday I tried contacting Optus via their Twitter account, rather than ring the Support number again. Eventually, after lengthy discussions, I booked a technician for Tuesday afternoon, January 24. I was specifically told the technician needed the whole half day – as it turns out he needs all of ten minutes. I had really wanted to go to another provider by this stage, but it seemed as if I was so close now: I couldn’t face starting the whole process with a different provider. Oddly, Optus sold me ADSL2+ whereas the Telstra website advises cable is available for my address. I haven’t followed up that apparent anomaly either.

The technician told me he had just learnt a trick a few days prior – when the user goes to the default router URL for the first time, the user needs to log in. The default username at initial connection is


Silly me, I expected a proper username from Optus. “No”, said the technician, “just leave it as it is and type in password as the password, all lower case. I only learnt that the other day – then it will bring everything down the line for you.”

I have a reasonable amount of IT experience and this sounded very odd to me, but OK, whatever. I just wanted the internet. It worked. For about two hours. I’ve since reasoned that john_citizen is probably a test username for troubleshooting purposes by technicians, set to time out after a specified period – my guess from my experience is about two hours.

So I call Support. I go through the whole Level 1 troubleshooting script including a factory reset of the modem. At one stage I was transferred out of Optus to a third party service (but was not told it was an outside provider) that wanted to charge me $90 to “fix” my computer, then transferred back to Optus when the external party decided it was definitely an Optus issue (by now there was a red light on the modem, you see). Back through the menu and recorded messages, again. I may well have confused the issue as I had tried setting up a Home Group at the exact time that the internet dropped out so initially I thought that MAY have been the problem. Far from it, as it turns out, but Support should have been able to determine that without transferring me out.

After about an hour I happened to mention the install technician had signed me in as john_citizen. What were my login details, the technician asked. No-one had given me any. 1 hour, 14 minutes and 29 seconds after my initial call, I had a username of my own and a temporary password that lasts 7 days. We tried unsuccessfully to log me into the Optus site that would allow me to change the temporary password to a permanent password, but I kept getting the error “Oops! Your account is not active. Please call Customer Care”. The technician I was speaking to could not fix that problem (he didn’t have the required access rights), but promised he would get the issue fixed and get back to me Wednesday evening. He tried, but my phone did not ring once – I got about five voicemail messages all at once delivered at nearly 10 pm. The Optus mobile service clearly wasn’t working very well either that day. In one message he left a “direct” number for me, but in the confusion with so many messages, I deleted the wrong one – the one with the number. So I waited hoping he would try again perhaps on Friday (Thursday was Australia Day). No further contact.

I really loathe calling the Support number. Once I get through the menu system to the option I need, I then have to listen to a recorded message that says something along the lines of ” Do you know that most broadband issues can be resolved by turning your modem off for 3 seconds then turning it back on. If that has solved your problem and you no longer need to speak to us, you may hang up now.” That message plays THREE times before you actually get a place in the queue. THREE TIMES! I wonder how many people actually hang up and never get through! Customer Obfuscation! So I waited, hoping for the call.

My temporary password was scheduled to run out tomorrow, so by today I decided I’d better get it resolved. I tried Twitter again. Notice it says “LIVE SERVICE” below.

Below is part of our conversation. Note the Optus representative clearly states “we are not a live chat service”. So the web site says it is but the operator says it isn’t?

Note also what is stated about the optuszoo link: “is our old self service and is only used for a small number …” Not according to the Support technicians – that is exactly where they take you to attempt to change the internet password. Customer Obfuscation!

I bit the bullet and called the Support number. Held on through the menu and the dreaded “switch off your modem” message THREE times. Explained the whole story yet again. The Support technician tested a few things, took control of my PC, then decided I needed to speak to Customer Service. On hold again. Customer Service painstakingly explain the “My Account” is different to the modem/internet login. Yes, I know this, however the only place I can change my internet password, according to the technicians, is from the Member Services area (which, if you remember, I was told on Twitter isn’t used any more). Customer Service did make some changes to my My Account, then I went to Member Services.

Surprise, surprise!!! The username showing there is the username from my OLD internet service, disconnected in February 2016. The internet username attached to this new service was nowhere to be found. The Customer Service representative tried to take control of my PC by couldn’t, then advised me she could not solve the problem, it was a problem for the Technical Support team and so I was transferred back. Different person, of course, so explain the whole thing all over again. Control of my PC taken over again. Finally, after I waited for ages for this technician to speak to her manager, it was decided an IT ticket needed to be raised. This phone call was 1 hour, 23 minutes and 55 seconds.

The above time totals nearly three and a half hours of my time. That doesn’t include the initial time to buy the service in the first place, the time taken for the conversations on Twitter and Optus Live Chat or the calls to Toll re the modem delivery.

Trying to complain to Optus is impossible. When a customer such as myself finally finds the complaint page, the number is the same number as everything else and as far as I could tell there was no Complaints menu option!

I’d tried asking for a supervisor once before – wasn’t going that route again. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman was my only option.

Each individual front line staff member did their best. It is not the front line staff I have a problem with. Optus really need to improve their systems, processes and procedures. I am a customer paying for a service, yet Optus seem to think they are doing me a favour by letting me spend my money on their service.

Once I have logged a problem, I want to be able to talk to the ONE person until such time as my issue is resolved. I don’t want to be transferred endlessly within and outside of Optus. I don’t want to spend hours of my time going in circles and being told contradictory information by different people. My time costs as much money as anyone else’s!

Sady, it isn’t just Optus. This is just one example of terrible customer service. I am sure readers can all share their own experiences in the comments.

Why is it so hard to provide decent customer service? Why do we all put up with the bad service?

Edited to add: While my medical conditions are not the responsibility of Optus, I am under medical instructions to reduce stress. Situations such as described here are extremely stressful and did result in a flare, so a day of considerable pain. I am sure I am not the only one in our community with similar issues.


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,182 total views,  2 views today

Makeup: ego boost or psychological trap?

I wear makeup. Sometimes. Other times I don’t. I have no passionate desire to rise at 4 am in the morning, as a friend told me some women do, in order to ensure I am “presentable” to leave the house. Today my attention was drawn to an article about makeup by Carly Findlay-Morrow, an appearance activist I hold in high regard.

The article was “Today I hid outside the office, too embarrassed to go to work. All because of my face.” While yes, the article is not a major exposé of world corruption, there are observations by the author I found interesting. (Emphasis added)

My fear of walking into an office (with many women who do not wear make up, mind you) without a mask on, sounds absurd. On the surface, it seems completely irrational.

But it is not completely unusual or unjustified. Ever since I was a teenager I’ve understood very clearly that my value is contingent upon my appearance. Just about everything in my world tells me that, from Instagram, to advertising, to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show which is just around the corner. Interestingly, work is one of the only places that doesn’t.

I think many women feel a disconnect between what they believe and what they do. We resent the discourses that underpin so many of our mundane daily routines. We can feel like hypocrites.

This was the bit that really concerned me:

And when I do finish my make up every morning, I don’t leave the house feeling ‘beautiful’. I feel adequate. Just.

I’m going to give Jessie Stephens the benefit of the doubt: I read this as she is expressing her reality, not writing click-bait.

Hillary Clinton, perfectly painted and coiffured for the duration of the presidential campaign, is now appearing with very little makeup. I detect foundation and blush and a fairly neutral lipstick, but little else, in the images on that report. Alicia Keys walked away from makeup in May this year, saying:

This was the harsh, judgmental world of entertainment and my biggest test yet. I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon. Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the “they’s” would accept me.

Ah yes, the “they’s”. The powerful ones, those who make decisions about your life. I know those “they’s”, only too well.

Here is my conundrum. I’ve always believed in equality. I’ve also always said I saw no need to burn my bra (the catch-cry of my youth) in order to be equal. Equality isn’t about sameness. I don’t for a minute think I have to wear a suit and tie, flat shoes and no makeup in order to earn equal pay for equal work. The sad truth is Jessica is right when she says “I’ve understood very clearly that my value is contingent upon my appearance”. That is the message we see in every TV ad, on every billboard, screaming from the glossy magazine covers of our society. It becomes our everyday “truth” even, if we know it to be false. The disconnect between what we do and what we believe that Jessica cites.

Even in writing what could be considered a cathartic admission of her own vulnerability to society’s subliminal message, she illustrated her makeup free visage with a meme image – which I am sure bears no resemblance to the real Jessica. The proportions are just all wrong, even if the eyebrows look similar (her assessment). In other words, her personal assessment of feeling “adequate” with makeup on runs very deep. Logic would suggest another way of saying the same thing is this: without makeup Jessica feels inadequate. It is that specific aspect that worries me. It is my impression Jessica hasn’t been through the rigors of childbirth yet, something that tends to strip us of any illusions about looking adequate! Makeup itself doesn’t create feelings of insecurity – those come from within – however in conjunction with society’s “standards”, makeup could certainly heighten those fears we all have as teenagers. In some cases, those insecurities become entrenched rather than thrown off with maturity.

When I was at high school, makeup was banned. Now I see girls in Year 6 wearing makeup. Some of it caked on thicker than icing on an apple shortcake. Why? They are young and beautiful, not a wrinkle to be seen. But they don’t think so. Allowing them to wear makeup before they have developed a sense of who they are may not be the wisest choice we make.

Body image is also a problem for young men, there is no doubting that. I am concentrating on girls because girls have this shield they can employ: makeup.

If a young woman can’t feel adequate without makeup, without a shield, how can she feel adequate to defend her rights? Adequate to recognise gaslighting if she is subjected to it? Adequate to defend her right to vote for whom she pleases against the will of a patriarchal father, boyfriend or husband?

How can she feel equal?

Yet despite all this, I still don’t want to throw out my makeup. I like my makeup and I make no apology for that. This is one topic on which I do agree with Julie Bishop.

“I don’t think we should apologise for our femininity. I don’t think we should apologise for our interest in fashion,” Ms Bishop, 60, told Stellar magazine.

“I have always loved fashion and beautiful clothes and magazines and all of that.

“That doesn’t mean I can’t have a serious career and hold deeply complex, serious conversations about world events with people. To suggest you can’t do both is insulting.

“If you are confident, if you are relaxed in your own skin, don’t let them define you. Don’t let other people define you.”

Source: ABC

There is the time factor. Back on October I made the following post on Facebook. OK, yes, I know, I did everything including the nails – the actual makeup time was a whole 10 minutes. Even so, it does illustrate the amount of time women can spend on presentation.

Makeup effort

I’ve never been one for fake eyelashes (I tried once, too fiddly), can’t for the life of me work out the whole contouring thing and more often than not stick with mascara, eyebrows and lipstick. I’ve recently found eye makeup primer – wonderful invention.

Makeup (and hair) does make a difference. I’m no photographer, nor do I have the software to magically splice and rejoin images professionally – I’ve tried to get these as close as possible. As much as I dislike (age deterioration is my excuse) posting photos of myself au naturel, I feel it is unfair to use anyone else! I’ve also deliberately taken the sans makeup photo on a day when my hair is decidedly flat – it makes the comparison more stark – although the eyebrows (Jessica, I feel you) always need assistance!


I have no less intellect, no less ability to make my own decisions on my own terms without makeup. I don’t feel less adequate, just less “dressed up”. I certainly feel less dressed up. Men dress up too: smart suit, good shirt: I’m not sure if men have the same feelings of inadequacy when dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.

Will I go to my next job interview with a naked face? No, I won’t. I’ll conform to society’s expectations, I need a job. Just like Alicia conformed for so long. Part of me is ashamed of that (having just written this article), part of me doesn’t care. Because like Julie Bishop, I’m comfortable in my own skin. Besides, I like makeup.

I’ve broken all the rules: I’ve put makeup on in the car, on the train, on aeroplanes, after I’ve got to work, before going out for lunch. Whenever I managed to fit it in. I’ve never been one who reserved an hour to do my makeup in the morning.

How do we encourage girls and young women to be comfortable in their own skin? Not to feel “just adequate” if they have their makeup on, but to have confidence in themselves with or without makeup. How do we do this? In the face of messages such as those sent by Trump, “Look at her, I don’t think so“, the battle just got harder.

This isn’t about makeup: makeup is just the fall-guy here. It is about building self-esteem and confidence in the women of tomorrow.

 1,800 total views,  2 views today

The day I realised I belong to THAT generation

That generation – the one populated with a surplus, it seems, of angry, aging, white men attempting to cling to a sense of long-past-its-use-by-date supremacy. Even after the Trump election victory in the USA I somehow still thought of such men as “the older generation”. Not, to be honest, that I consciously thought about it – it just seemed that way.

I read many of the published letters of daughters to their Dads/parents expressing their concern over the parents’ voting choice. Even though I knew these daughters were young enough to be my daughters, somehow I still saw their fathers as not my generation. I did not see the same number of letters to mothers – which surprised me, given the percentage of white women (that actually voted) that voted for Trump. I did see an interesting analysis; it still doesn’t help me understand that particular demographic.

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a man I’ve known for many years that the reality of my generation was brought home to me. In response to something I said, he kindly suggested I read a column in that day’s Herald Sun. The sub-text proposed I would be enlightened – or have my views “corrected”. On the basis of “keep your friends close, your enemies closer” I do sometimes find myself reading the tabloid and always end up in a grumpy mood. In this case I chose not to subject myself to such an irritation.

Driving to school later that day, I was still puzzling why the conversation had taken the turn it had. The light dawned. Then an even bigger light blazed through my consciousness. HE IS YOUNGER THAN I AM. Oh my God, I thought to myself, these men are MY generation!

I have enough men of my generation as followers on Facebook and Twitter to know not all men of my generation fall into this category. Thankfully, otherwise I’d be rather distraught. Perhaps their existence has cushioned me from the reality. Men of the other variety don’t follow me – or I them. I was interacting with like minds, not seeing the wider picture. I also know there are many men of younger generations who are caught up in the ideology of regaining white male supremacy but I do think hope the ratio is lower. It is men of my generation and slightly younger that are in power: they worry me more.

As a society, we have made important progress in challenging men’s illegitimate authority in the past century. But the Trump campaign made it painfully obvious that men’s sexual exploitation of women, possible only in a society in which men believe themselves to be naturally dominant over women, remains deeply entrenched. The ease with which so many men embraced Trump’s celebration of sexual exploitation, and so many women were willing to excuse it, is evidence of the strength of patriarchal values and norms.

Source: ABC

The above article was written about the USA, clearly, but how applicable is the content to Australia? More so than I would have thought, despite the evidence of Abbott’s behaviour (and others of his ilk). Those are men I don’t know personally: somewhere in my sub-conscious I still viewed them as, well, rather odd. Not the norm. That was too scary. It wasn’t until someone I knew, someone of my own generation and cultural background, led me to my light bulb moment.

How, at my age, could I think all these patriarchal types were an older generation? I suspect it comes from my father. I recall my mother disagreeing with my father involving me in what my mother saw as “male stuff” on the farm. I drove tractors, worked in the shearing shed, delivered lambs, marked lambs (for city readers, marking is removing tails and testicles) and gave mouth-to-nose resuscitation to a calf. I never remember seeing my mother on a horse. I have a faint recollection of her steering (not driving, steering) a tractor once. I suppose I grew up more as a boy than a girl, per “traditional” roles. My father never treated me as if I was “the fairer sex” so why would men younger than my father treat women differently? Not just treat women differently, but minorities as well. My father, if he was still alive, would be 95. So men like Trump, only 25 years junior, I could still sub-consciously put in that “soon they’ll all be gone” category.

I can’t put men my own age in the “soon they’ll all be gone” category, for that means I have to include myself and I’m not planning on “going soon”. What I failed to acknowledge was Trump’s age in relation to my own. Selective reasoning on my part.

We have generations to still battle this societal problem. Fathers of my generation are still influencing their children and grandchildren, male and female. It is going to be tough being a parent in the USA for the next few years: yet is Australia really all that different? Just less “out there” perhaps, at least in relation to sexism although racism is particularly rampant at this time.

Now, as the reality of a Trump presidency sets in, concerned parents face a new slew of questions about raising their children in a time of collective change and uncertainty ― not to mention bad behavior being modeled by our highest elected official. Seventy-five percent of Americans with kids under the age of 18 say Trump is not a good role model for children, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll.

With kids being more exposed to arguments from adults around them and in the media, it’s important to teach them how to disagree and have their own opinions without attacking or undermining those who hold different views.

Source: Huffington Post – Advice From Psychologists On Raising Kids Well In Trump’s America

Now I have to adjust to being a member of THAT generation. I don’t like it already.

 804 total views,  2 views today

The Truth – Where Did It Go?

Do you consider yourself a truthful person? I do. Over the last decade I have come to wonder if truth is something from a bygone era. In business and in our personal lives, truth is something society either glosses over or flat out ignores.

A business example to start with. At a project review meeting an item (a functional requirement of a system) was flagged by the Programme Manager as “Needs Improvement”. It didn’t need improvement, a state which implies some work has been done, hours spent already – and hours equates to investment dollars.The item in question had not been started, it did not exist. No hours, no dollars invested. Zip,

Imagine for a moment you are a senior executive scanning the project status report. You see all items have been started, therefore understand from the report that the project is on time, on budget, in scope. However, if you scanned a report with items flagged as “not commenced”, it is reasonable to think your understanding of the status of the project might be rather different.

The picture painted by the language is a lie. The truth is at best glossed over, at worst ignored. If widespread within an organisation, such practices can have catastrophic affects. A family member recently described a situation where middle management were “fudging figures”: based on those reported figures a decision was made to cut the staff of a particular department. After the resultant loss of customers and the flow-on from those losses, the organisation is now trying to repair the damage. In the meant time it has lost customers that likely won’t return, suffered a hit to the bottom line, lost staff who likely will not return, therefore face recruitment and training costs to restaff appropriately. Costly exercise.

There is a web site I’ve always found rather amusing, MBA Jargon Watch. Australians used to joke about how Americans took 25 words to say something we Aussies would say in ten (or less). MBA Jargon Watch always reassured me we had escaped such obfuscation in our straight-to-the-point world.

One of my favourites:

best of breed (n. and adj.)
The finest specimen or example to be found in a particular industry or market. Like Papillons preening for the judges, companies position themselves as best-of-breed. In truth, however, few ever make it through the qualifiers.

Yet it seems we have indeed adopted the convoluted way of ensuring we don’t say anything directly. Sometimes I read business reports and have to read some parts of it two or three times before I come to the conclusion absolutely nothing is being said at all, let alone anything remotely truthful.

Many years ago a friend expressed the concern to me that “the truth is brutal”. Yes, I agree, it most certainly can be. Telling someone a loved one has been killed in a car accident or telling a spouse the marriage is over: both of these truths are indeed unpleasant and harsh to the recipient. They are also unavoidable truths.

In the worlds of politics and business the unavoidable is often avoided until the very last minute when it is often too late. In business, depending on how senior the perpetrator is, he or she may be pushed out quietly encouraged to leave and later pop up in another senior position somewhere else, ready to repeat the crime.

In politics it seems to be open slather, as the Trump campaign has so clearly shown us. There are a multitude of reputable articles providing evidence of his blatant lies throughout the campaign. Here’s one from The Washington Post. Not only has he lied, voters believe him.

Closer to home, we have politicians refusing to be truthful. To quote John Lord

”In the concoction, the recipe that is called leadership there are many ingredients. None more important than integrity, positiveness and the ability to trust and delegate. But it is truth that glues it altogether to create character.”

Yes, truth. That seemingly elusive, indefinable mode of communication that requires nothing more than, well, a little integrity. Politicians cherry pick facts to sell a policy, often ignoring brutal other aspects of the situation. Manus Island and Nauru spring to mind. Oh such a wonderful solution, we’ve stopped the boats. We also are inflicting incredible torture on the people we have incarcerated. That little fact is conveniently ignored.

I was always a tough mother. I refused to write “the dog ate his homework/the computer crashed/Daddy had a flat tyre” notes (unless any of those events actually happened) to excuse incomplete homework. Why? Two reasons: first, I wanted my children to learn to take responsibility for their actions and secondly, I didn’t want them learning to lie. Oh, yes, I took flak for that: “All the other mothers do it for their kids!” Not this mother, sorry. Kids start lying to avoid punishment. We need to reward truth. At home and in the workplace.

What has happened to the truth? Are adults actually too afraid of “getting into trouble”? They’d rather see other people get into trouble by losing jobs as a result of their “misdemeanor” adjusting of management reports? Do politicians think that lying for no other reason that to garner votes, then subsequently back peddle is OK? Rhetorical question alert there, obviously.

This isn’t the whole story. It isn’t just about telling the truth, but also about accepting the truth. I read an interesting article which I found quite concerning. The dark rigidity of fundamentalist rural America: a view from the inside. It is a long article, but well worth the time.

Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line, and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.” I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural, Christian, white Americans scared? You’re damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.

A column in the New York Times also caught my eye. You can’t always back peddle out of stuff you said, I’m afraid, even if you are the President-elect.

No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.

The world would be a better place if we were all truthful. The figures aren’t good this month, we didn’t reach the project milestone, I didn’t do my homework because I spent too much time playing video games, I’m only standing for President to make a lot of money, I think Dutton‘s a cretin (well, OK, maybe that last is a stretch, but at least demote the man). I will say this about Pauling Hanson – at least we know where she stands, even if we don’t like it.

Without the truth we all live in a fantasy land. That fantasy land is getting crazier by the day.


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 708 total views,  2 views today

Is there a prescription drug shortage we don’t know about?

I’m on drugs. The legal kind. Earlier this year one of my specialists suggested to me I fill my prescription whether I needed a refill or not as there was a nationwide shortage of the drug. In Australia? Yes. So I dutifully filled my prescription. Doing so required a number of visits to local pharmacies, but one had a small supply left. The next time I needed a repeat, I was given a substitute drug. I didn’t think too much of all this at the time, but my experience then shows this is not now a new problem.

Last week I needed two drug prescriptions refilled. Pharmacy 1 – no supply of either. Pharmacy 2 – no supply of either but could order Drug A in for collection the next day from another pharmacy. Pharmacy 3 – no supply of either. Pharmacy 4 – had Drug A (so I kept that in mind in case Pharmacy 2’s order failed) and was able to substitute Drug B for me with another brand, something Pharmacy 3 had specifically told me they could not do without another prescription.

So I eventually got both drugs but it took two days, four pharmacies and a substitute drug. Not to mention the time and the travel costs involved. Yes, I could have called around, but I was already out of the house, so just kept going. Had no local pharmacy been able to supply, I’d have gone home and hit the phone.

Tell me again, I do live in a rich western country, don’t I?

When I returned to Pharmacy 2 the following day to collect Drug A, I asked why were these shortages occurring. The pharmacist told me it is because the government has lowered the prices they will pay the pharmaceutical companies to the point there is no profit in selling the drugs to Australia. Consequently they send their production to countries where sales are more profitable. If demand is higher elsewhere, Australia misses out.There is no profit in drugs for the pharmacy either, I was told. That explains why pharmacies are selling so much other “stuff” these days.

The pharmacist pointed to several heavily laden shelves. “Diabetes drugs”, I was told. Ordered in bulk to protect the health of their regular diabetes patients, because the pharmacy expects a drug shortage.

I don’t understand how the system works. Maybe I should, but I don’t – and I suggest the majority of the population don’t know the finer details. We get a prescription, we go get it filled, we take the drugs. We cringe if it is something not on the PBS. That’s about all of the process most of us delve into. I did read the following on the PBS website, titled “Setting an approved ex-manufacturer price for new or extended listings“. At that point I decided I wasn’t the woman for the job.

Price negotiations with the responsible person for new or changed listings are undertaken by the Pricing Section on behalf of the Minister, following a positive PBAC recommendation. A Cost Information (PB11b) form is required to be submitted by the responsible person as part of the initial application to the PBAC.


After a price has been negotiated, the responsible person is requested to submit a Request for Approved Ex-manufacturer Price (PB11a) form in order to formalise the price offer. The responsible person is then notified by email when the Minister has formally agreed to the negotiated price.

Who pays for the drugs? The government or the pharmacies? Do the pharmacies act as distribution centres? I thought the PBS provided subsidies: perhaps I am wrong. I’m not sure I want to understand. What I do know is that as a patient prescribed medication by my medical specialists, I expect to be able to get that medication without the risk of politically induced shortages – or pharmaceutical company avarice. I don’t begrudge the companies achieving a profit, businesses running at a loss don’t stay in business for very long. Greed is not good, despite Gordon Gekko‘s beliefs – or the current competition on Melbourne’s Gold 103.4 radio station.

The first time I experienced a shortage with Drug A, I asked the specialist was there an alternative. He said yes, there was, but the side effects were pretty undesirable (my words, not his) and he’d prefer to avoid prescribing it.

I think of all the chronic condition patients in this country and wonder what the future holds.

In 2007-08, around 15% of people in the 0-24 age group reported having either asthma, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression or high blood pressure.

We read about the horrific medical costs in the USA and watch the Australian government undermine universal health.

I only questioned one pharmacist but what I heard was enough to cause concern and I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the speaker. Is there a mainstream investigative journalist who will take up the challenge to find out the truth? Do readers have similar experiences to share?

 743 total views,  1 views today

Will women lose the right to vote?

Impossible, you say? Women could never lose the right to vote, you say? I am reasonably concerned there will be an attempt to stop women voting in the USA during the next four years and if that happens in the USA …

I first felt my gut wrench when, back in October, #RepealThe19th was trending. Essentially, if only men voted, Trump would win. Back then, the counter argument was if only women voted, the result would be very different. No-one expected Trump to actually win: if reports post-election are to be believed even Trump did not expect to win. Then the election happened and 53% of white women voted for Trump. Admittedly, only about 55% of Americans exercised their right to vote, a shocking statistic, but not a topic for consideration in this article. How many white women didn’t vote at all?

It is of concern there seems to be some difficulty voting in the USA at the best of times: long queues at polling booths, arguments over keeping booths open to accommodate the numbers – and yet this was nearly the lowest voter turnout in two decades. Surely a nation that can spend billions on wars can afford a billion or two to ensure every eligible citizen can actually vote.

Aside from the practicalities of the election process, what we have seen since the result has been some very frightening behaviours. Neo-nazis running rampant, misogynists feeling they now have the right to attack women in public, bigots leaving notes on people’s cars telling then to go back to Africa. All of a sudden the KKK is almost an acceptable institution again.

It isn’t so much Trump personally I am worried about, it is his “Sieg Heil” followers. Trump will no doubt merely become (or is already) a pawn in a carefully orchestrated return to white male supremacy.

White male supremacy requires the removal of the rights of over 50% of the population – women. Yes, women are more than 50% of the population of voting age. Once women are suitably put back in their place, it isn’t much of a stretch to take away the rights of black Americans, LBGTI people, anyone not born in the USA: in fact anyone that is not a white male born in the USA. Look at who Trump is surrounding himself with – or being told to surround himself with: some very inhumane characters. Many of whom would prefer that women were put in their place.

Read very carefully many of the beliefs expressed by many of the men surrounding Trump. Some are totally weird – not just strange or old-fashioned – weird.

Women in the Middle East are fighting for the right to drive and vote, women in Turkey are fighting a law absolving men of statutory rape if the rapist marries the victim. If you think these Neanderthal white men running rampant in the USA aren’t cut from a similar cloth, I suggest you take off the rose-coloured glasses. Try this “rape activist” from the good ol’ US of A.

There are even women in the USA who suggest/believe women shouldn’t have the vote – Anne Coulter, for one. Great way to make a lot of money, of course, for her.

Now this lot are in power. Will your daughters retain the right to vote?


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,228 total views,  2 views today