Thursday, February 18, 2016

I believe in Unicorns

I’ve spent the past four months looking for a job. It’s a demoralising, dispiriting venture.

Experience counts for nothing. Especially when you are over 50. This could be just a rant from one individual, except I keep meeting other over 50s, especially women, who are underemployed, unemployed or desperately hanging on to a job to accumulate enough superannuation to retire with the ability to eat and keep a roof over their head.

Ageism exists, age discrimination exists.

Employers are not allowed to discriminate by age but they do by requiring a “recent graduate” or “university degree is mandatory”. Trust me, I’ve been reading the job ads on for four months. I’ve had one interview in four months. I’ve begun calling any employer or recruiter that insists on a university degree. Today I asked a recruiter why their client would insist on a degree over experience. She could not answer my question. I cannot ask them, because they are not identified in the ad.

It is an ad for a communications manager that I could do with my eyes closed, but I do not have a degree because when I finished high school people who wanted to be journalists mostly went and completed a cadetship.

I have worked for The Sydney Morning Herald. I have been an adviser to four Federal politicians. I was the media relations and communications manager for a leading industry group.

Today our Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison gave some bizarre interviews about the Budget where he said he was not going to sell the Australian people a unicorn. Huh?

I have no idea what this means, but at my daughter’s school the logo is the Unicorn which is referenced as a symbol of grace, strength and beauty with its horn reaching towards a star of enlightenment.

The school is named after Alfred Deakin, the second Prime Minister of Australia. It is 6km from Australian Parliament House.

There are students from 67 cultures, including students from the embassy families that make up the Canberra community.

The children at this school are proud of their school and their school community. They have an amazing group of teachers and they are told that they can do anything they want to in their lives. The academic, cultural and sporting traditions of the school are way beyond anything I experienced at a country high school in the 1970s, so I would expect that things have improved. What I didn’t expect all those years ago when I won a cadetship on the Nambucca Guardian News was that the media would be reshaped entirely and so many of my very experienced and talented colleagues would be made redundant by the organisations that had nurtured them and exploited their commitment for decades.

But here we all are. I have been studying art and learning to paint as I have a dream to run an art gallery by the sea in my dotage. A sort of Margaret Olley retirement where I fill my house with interesting stuff and paint it and sell paintings. If I achieve 1/1000th of the recognition she did I will be happy.

For now I read the job ads and despair. I am not a recent graduate of anything except a long-term romance that resulted in two children and two houses and ended.

I’m a single mother of a boy who is about to join the Australian Army and a girl who is in Year 10 and doing the very best she can to make her family and her teachers proud.

I want to work and have been doing some freelance media consultancy and working in a friend’s art gallery for a bit of cash.

Luckily my bank (which bank?) is extremely understanding and has given me a bit of a holiday on mortgage repayments.

I’ve been a worker and a taxpayer all my life but I’m stumped by recent events.  And every other day I meet another Australian who is over 50 and unable to find work. They try to invent their own jobs or start a business or whatever it is they do to keep the wolves from the door.

And our Federal Treasurer is talking about unicorns.

Friday, February 5, 2016

TGIF Rant, for your consideration

Our Government this week has made gender equity in travel a priority for Australian sport. Yes, that's right, it is making it compulsory for men and women athletes to travel in the same class (business) and stay in fancy hotels. This is for the greater good of our nation, because when our sports people win, we all win. We pay for this. Well, taxpayers pay. I don't pay any tax because I've turned into a multinational corporation. I have no income, so I pay no tax. That's how economics works. Radio National has a new program about finance and economics. It is written for two year olds. I know this because I listened to the first episode. I will not be listening to any more.

Never mind the 300 CSIRO scientists whose careers are to end because of a funding cut. Didn't someone a while ago invent the phrase "the clever country". Nope. Not going to happen.

Never mind the poor souls languishing in Nauru and on Manus Island, who dared to escape wars and worse in their homelands and chose the only way they thought possible to achieve a modest life in a new land. At least the Anglican Church stepped up and offered sanctuary to the babies and families who are under threat of being returned to Nauru. It's almost worth returning to regular churchgoing over this alone, now that the kiddy fiddling has been put under the spotlight, although that was mostly perpetrated by the Catholics.

In Sydney, the lock-out laws mean there is no nightlife, which means fewer jobs for thousands of musicians, bar staff, chefs, waiters, taxi drivers. But that's OK. Because the Nanny State has us all tucked up in our beds by 9, so we can rise at 5 and go and work for the man. Well, those who have jobs can. But don't expect to have enough money in retirement because the legislated changes to the Superannuation Guarantee are to be cut. It's irrelevant for the many who have no job, or not enough work anyway. But if you do have a job you have to rise at 5 if you live in Sydney because as one of my friends found this week it takes two hours to drive from Gladesville to Surry Hills, a distance of 12.1 kilometres.

Fun fact: Did you know that the portion of the base salary ($199,040 as of I January 2016 for MPs and Senators) that is not parliamentary allowance for the purposes of the Parliamentary Contribution Superannuation Act 1948 is $41,540?

And then there is TAFE. It's already bleeding, with course fees out of the reach of many of those who are trying to train so they can WORK. Now the Feds want to completely bastardise it. Goodbye.

I met a man this week who said with the change to Malcolm Turnbull as PM it is now possible to travel overseas and not be ashamed to be Australian. How did this happen and how farking sad is that?

Wasn't KRudd the great white hope that was going to save us from John Howard? His bastardry became apparent early on. If you ever want to know what is going on at Parliament House, talk to the security guards. They had tales of being called in at very odd hours to guard the insomniac PM who would think working at 2am was good for the country and good for his mind. Surely the only good thing any PM should be doing at 2am is sleeping, or maybe taking a call from Vladimir Putin, if he happens to phone.

Oh and while I'm at it what about the twat Jamie Briggs who had to drink to cope with the pressures of being a junior minister?

Mate, people drink because they like a drink, not because you are lonely when your job takes you away from home. You did know what you were signing up for when you ran for parliament. God, I feel sorry for his wife. She has four children.

Then there is the National Party. What hope if they are going to have the deputy leader assume the leadership? I'm not sure I have ever heard the current leader mention retirement but if you leak a story to enough journalists it grows legs, especially in the off-season.

At least Chris Bowen is showing he has a spine. There is some hope after all. And I'm quite loving the politicians who call out Fran Kelly when she states their position on something and they have never said any such thing. Go Andrew Robb!

I gallery sat yesterday. For three hours. After the first hour when we swapped some paintings over no one came in. Not one person. No wonder Van Gogh went mad.

I have no idea what to do with myself. Should have been a sports star. Look at the way the old fogies at the Australian Open were treated. They are god-like. Rod Laver is God.

I was brought up in a Christian household where we were taught to be nice to everyone but I see all sorts of bastards doing better than me.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What's next?

There have been so many changes in my life in the past few years that I'm feeling as though my head has been in perpetual spinning motion. Sometimes I even feel a bit giddy.

Life presents its challenges to all of us but I would never have envisaged being this age and underemployed and single.

I have many skills and much wisdom. This week I interviewed three really smart men about two complex studies they had conducted. Today I am finishing three paintings to place in my friend Martine's hair salon so the lucky patrons may enjoy the art and maybe buy one to take home with them.

This afternoon I am going to gallery sit in a beautiful space where I have had paintings displayed for seven months. I have sold one. I will take my quilt project with me as I would like to finish this masterpiece I am working on for a friend.

It's back to school this week for Miss B and the two-month countdown is on for Mr C's big adventure. Yesterday I sorted out my finances. In amongst all of this the family home is going up for sale.

When my mother was dying from cancer she used to say she must have killed a Chinaman* in a previous life.

I don't know what I did in a previous life but I've worked hard in this one and I'd like to receive the gifts the Universe has for me. This week, please.

Chinaman, must have killed a phr. a phrase noting bad luck.
[1910 Henry Lawson The Rising of the Court 299 'What have I been up to?' 'Killin' a Chinaman. Go to sleep.']
1930 Vance Palmer The Passage 272 'But my luck's out – I must have run over a Chinaman some time or other.'
1951 Dal Stivens Jimmy Brockett 184 'You're restless, Jimmy,' Nan said, teasing me. 'Have you killed a Chinaman?'
1982 Joe Andersen Winners Can Laugh v. 58 Superstition plays an important part in the life of the racing fraternity. The sighting of an oriental person before, during or after placing a bet is always regarded as a sure sign that fortune will smile on you. (A run of bad luck is usually attributed to the killing of one by the unlucky punter.)
1995 Paul Vautin Turn It Up! 62'You've heard the expression, 'You must have killed a Chinaman,' well I'm so out of luck that I reckon in a past life I must have been a tank driver in Tiananmen Square or something because I must have got dozens of 'em.'
1996 Tracks (Sydney) Jun 81/4 Young American Hank Mills wins the Rip Curl Pro Trials from Chris Davidson and the luckless Nick 'I killed a Chinaman' Wood.