Invasion Day

Australia Day is growing ever more contentious.

Initially I counted myself very firmly in the change the date camp and in truth I still lean that way. A number of things I’ve read recently have had me questioning the wisdom of that position and what the likely outcomes would be.


Indulge me and say for instance we change the date of Australia Day to May 8th or better still sometime late in the year when we are desperately short of public holidays and make it, like Easter, a floating holiday so that it always falls on a weekend, say the last Friday in November. Guaranteed long weekend, no need for sickies, warm weather, an altogether good time to celebrate what is great about our nation. Also keep the 26th of January as a public holiday rebranded as for instance Reconciliation or Survival Day. Invasion Day simply isn’t going to fly. All sounding fair enough so far I’d hope.


My concern is about what happens on January 26th that first year. Because there is a significant section of our community that is not going welcome or readily accept this change. How significant I don’t know, maybe within a decade they will have dwindled into insignificance. Right now I suspect the proportion is quite staggering, possibly as high as 30% of the general population who will resent and actively resist the change. Even with a bonus public holiday. How these people are treated will have very serious ramifications for us all.

Even the proposal for this change is creating deep divisions within communities. I don’t feel the potential consequences are being given enough discussion. If for instance this issue became a cultural touch stone to One Nation voters or Rise Up Australia, which seems quite likely to me, we would be looking down the barrel of some serious and ugly disrespect and push back both on the day and in the polls with our own inflammatory demagogues picking up even more seats in our parliaments. Thereby imperiling many of the gains in social justice fought for and won in past decades.

I have seen it suggested that we could practise a different way of conducting Australia day. Start with a fire ceremony, an acknowledgment of country, broadcast speeches by the PM and a select few of the new Australians of the year reflecting upon our history and injustices and challenging all Australians to find ways to improve our country together in the year ahead. Start and finish with national minutes of silence across all media, one each to reflect upon the past and look into the future. After midday fire up the barbecue, eat and celebrate what we have become together. I don’t have the answer and by dint of my heritage my opinion has limited weight.

Finally, in all honesty I think changing the date and signing a treaty, much as with marriage equality and a Federal ICAC is an inevitability it is merely a matter of time and political integrity. One of which we have, one we don’t.  How well the transition is handled will determine whether it is an act of healing or deepening division.



I think we may be about to witness something incredible.

I think Turnbull’s Liberal National government is going to lose their majority.

The scandals and catastrophic failures are snowballing. The latest parliamentary entitlements scandal, the tens of thousands of fraudulent Centerlink debt notices, Brandis’s ever more absurd breaches of legal ethics, Mr potato head’s tropical torture tents, the billion dollars for Adani, Joe ‘Age of Entitlement is Over’ Hockey smoking cigars on budget night ’14, now pulling pension as well as being paid as US ambassador. It is all rolling down hill, gathering speed, growing into a boulder of icy public discontentment, careening towards the most cataclysmic political failure in Australian history.

They really do have a snowballs chance in the proverbial and it will likely be even more impressive than this

Some of the governments ministers have been caught with their hands in the till. At a time when another arm of the same government is doubling down on claiming that the people who actually got off welfare owe it all back.

They have a one seat majority. For crying out loud they replaced Ley* with Sinodinos rather than risk bumping Tony back into play.

I will honestly be surprised if they make it to the first sitting day of the year intact. I don’t know what will happen when they lose the numbers, clearly they will retain minority government but for how long? The pool of buffoons from which they can replace Turnbull is small and tainted. Their characteristic inability to negotiate, the constant repetition of the idea that it is how they are selling their ideas not, you know the ideas themselves, that are the problem, their persistent inability to accept responsibility and blame for the consequences of their actions. All this leads me to believe that unlike our last minority government they will achieve very little at all besides digging themselves deeper holes, and short of a massive terror scare and a herculean effort from Rupert, eventually losing government.

The blistering hypocrisy of their ridiculous sense of entitlement the government holds is the most galling thing about the whole mess. These people who year after year have voted to increase their wages well above inflation, who have voted to increase their pension well above the median wage yet still penny pinch for Cabcharges from the airport to Mal’s place, or a trip to the polo to rub noses with Gina. These same people who think it is OK to charge everyone more to visit doctors, to renege on funding arrangements for public schools, to slash public dentistry programs, to risk driving childcare prices through the roof** (this on top of cutting the wages of childcare workers*** as one of their very first acts of parliament), propping up the ever expanding housing bubble while cutting investments in public housing, to build toll roads while cutting from public transport, to cut from actually profitable renewable investment and invest billions in coal, to undermine our human rights commissioner and keep children in concentration camps, in adult prisons or as a final middle finger to decency send them to countries they don’t even know for failing to meet the standards of the community they were raised in. These people who suck hard on the teat of the fossil fuel industry, fully concious that it’s business model fully intends to burn us all on the alter of quarterly profits.**** These people have the damned pride to claim that they have fiscal or moral authority on anything.

We are entitled to representative government. We are entitled to hold our representatives accountable. We are entitled to expect that corruption in public office when detected is appropriately punished and corrupt politicians are to be removed from office. I demand a federal ICAC with the power to prosecute now.

Until then prepare your popcorn because this is only going to get better.


End rant. Time to paint.


*Even the despicable pond scum in the Murdoch press have smelt blood in the water and are turning, looking to be on the winning side as always. ‘The Australian’ link >> .

**Eww a Daily mail link >> .

*** Item two on the list.

**** Citation no longer required.

800m of Childish Freedom

Somewhere in a photo album there is a photo of a a 6 or 7 year old me dressed in stonewash and a loud 80’s shirt standing proud as punch with a bright red and orange BMX in front of my mothers house in Balmain. This house:

Photo snapped by my good friend Steven Kiernan on the way back from dinner a few nights ago.

That bike granted me freedom. A great deal of freedom. Much as the cop in ‘Stranger Things’ describes it; ‘A bike Like that is a Cadillac to these kids’. With it I had freedom of the neighborhood and I used it. The most common journey for me was of course the seemingly epic ride to my school of the time. This weekend I decided to see just how far that really was. As it turns out it was only 800m and often done in company but often as not alone or on foot. The route I most often took is plotted below.

800m of freedom. Also of note at the time Mort Bay park was a derelict and forbidden wonderland that I was furiously lectured for exploring more than once. 

That journey is illegal now. Until the age of ten NSW children are apparently unable to even cross the road without assistance and police have been known to threaten DOCS involvement for independent children even when crossing a road is not required.

I was lucky then and lucky as a teacher at West End, my year four class of two years ago repeatedly won the ‘Golden Boot’ award for active travel with 100% of students walking, riding, Public transporting or Park and Striding (Driven but dropped off 500m distant). That is a rare thing and a credit to the West End public community. But only a handful traveled truly independently. I have also lived on the main access street for one of Brisbane’s most prestigious private boys schools and the twice daily traffic jam of furious, stressed and ultimately dangerously driven luxury vehicles is memorable by comparison. Self reliance is not a skill that gets magically switched on at eighteen, it takes years and experience to develop. Only by giving children the trust to find their own limits and learn their confidence in their own abilities can it blossom. I believe walking to and from school independently is one of the safest and best ways for children to develop resilience and self reliance.

We are looking to live in a town/ village or community where children still play outside and where trusting children is normal. Such places do still exists but they are rare.

I would really like to see some more examples of others childhood walking journeys.

Not for competition mind,


but because I think it would be nice to have a raft of good digital reference to use as a reality check for the more extreme variety of hysterical parents.  It is easy enough to do.

Start at google maps.

Search for the school or other feature you travelled to independently.

Select the directions button





Change the start location to where you began your trips and select the method of travel. You can drag the line of travel to match your preferred route.







Screen shot the result. In windows the built in screen cap utility ‘Sniping tool’ can be found by beginning typing its name in the start menu. On Mac, buy a PC.

I kid, I kid. Command + Shift + 4 will give you a custom area screen cap.

Upload to an image host of your choice, or email them to me to edit in here.

Thanks for participating.

Also check out free range kids if you like the idea.


Edit: First responder, my brother in law Ken Wilson provides this map of his walk from about grade 3 (probably 8 or 9 years of age) onwards with his sibling. Sandgate is a major road but the crossings are clear.

News Limited

We have had a busy couple of days including two very late nights, a wedding reception and a ridiculously expensive trip to one of my favourite book shops on earth.
I’ve had this post stewing since I saw this headline in an unmentionable fast food restaurant on the way to Orange 3 Days ago.


Now the Murdoch press prints ridiculously inflammatory bullshit all the bloody time. On this occasion whether due to hunger or general irritation I let it get my goat, snapped this pic and stewed on it until the next day when I noticed a post about it on r/Australia where upon I posted a version of the following rant. But I missed the peak of discussion as the post was slipping off the front page by then.

  1. First and foremost, despite indicating that the picture is an example of the children’s art work, the picture is clearly digitally fabricated adult work masquerading as childhood scribbles. It is my understanding that there is a legal requirement that this is acknowledged and it way well be on page 9 but I and many others didn’t open it to check.
  2. With direct experience I can pretty much guarantee that this whole exercise began with student concern NOT as is indicated in the article by the teachers ideological positioning. Students likely came into the class with questions and enthusiasm about a news item they had been exposed to and wanted to know what they could do. I have direct experience of students coming into class concerned about refugees, turtles and plastic bags and shark finning. In each case I have encouraged the creation of letters, posters and petitions as ways to communicate their concern. Directing these students energy into writing letters to a Senator seems a pretty good response no?
  3. Since when was children caring about the treatment of other children an ideological problem?
  4. What the actual fuck is wrong with these people?
  5. If your first response when a child asks you to help get other children out of concentration camps is to question who told them about the camps and attack their educators instead of you know, praising their compassion. Then you are not a moral authority and are in fact a human of questionable ethical character.

The Murdoch press has been screaming ‘Fire’ in the proverbial crowded theatre for too long. It either needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into legal requirements for honesty and good faith reporting or to be dismantled.

Start right now with a Murdoch blocker. You wont miss them, but they will miss us.

Morning Routines

A common feature of almost every productivity text I’ve ever read is the creation of a good morning routine.

Mine is a bit ah, haphazard.

On a good day I rise, shave, shower, make coffee and food and have time alone for about twenty minutes to read, meditate or workout prior to our Gro Clock announcing to the boys that it is time for them to rise at 7AM. On a bad day the boys wake up and bang on the shower door. There is no peace, no serenity, only Zorg. Or at least two little boys ravenous for banana toast and attention.

Today was good day.

For a blessing I had 45 minutes of sweet peace.

But… I accomplished nothing with it. Partially because I went to bed at midnight and particularly whilst unwell 6 hours is simply not enough, but also because the inexorable time suck of the internet drew me in. Nearly an hours unproductive browsing later and I still wasn’t feeling awake, I hadn’t worked out and hadn’t prepared lunch.

Sleep is the first key factor to address. As of now I have an alarm set for ten to eleven. To be in bed by. Meditation, language tapes and workouts are all very difficult to engage in when it is a battle to be awake. Here’s hoping this can help.

Making lunches vies for pole position as my least favourite part of work. Typically with work guaranteed the following day we make a dinner with leftovers suitable and container them up the night before, failing that I’ll make sandwiches prior too. With the day to day uncertainty of relief that hasn’t always been possible and there have been a lot of long uninspiring looks in the cupboards at 7AM.


My season breakdown and debrief of Westworld to follow in a day or three.


Forms to fill in and art to make.

Super Lame

Accomplished a lot of tiresome little admin jobs today. Shuffled my Super around, and stopped multiple accounts from charging for insurance. I have managed to reduce my super portfolio to four companies now. The eventual aim is to get it all into Australian Ethical, but it seems like every employer I have dealt with in the last few years has had a prearranged relationship with their own industry or other Super fund.

Yes it is dodgy, no it is not illegal, I’ve checked. So I have one fund for each school system I have been working in as well as the AusEthical account I periodically roll everything into.

What should be illegal is each fund automatically adding life insurance and deducting insurance premiums. The fund the local Catholic school is affiliated with, which as I only do occasional casual work with the school has only a small deposit, prompted the whole process today as I recently discovered that they had halved my deposit in fees alone during over the course of the year. They will also likely charge some bullshit exit fee when I close the account and roll the deposit over to ethical after my last pay from that school.

Also sorted health insurance again which has been pending since we got back.

Fencing, like the construction of a fence, a swim and good bit of Lego construction consumed the rest of the day.


While there is some good news from Standing Rock.

Unbelievably despite very vocal and clear opposition prior to the past state election and election commitments to the contrary. both the Queensland and Federal Governments appear to be rolling over and digging deep into the public purse to build the Carmichael mine.

Super lame behaviour.






Today I calculated a rough estimate of my lifetime carbon footprint.

I based my figure on the results generated by a variety of online carbon footprint calculators all of which are a bit cumbersome and I had to make a lot of assumptions. Generally I have erred on the side of more rather than less carbon. I have accounted for every piece of airplane travel I have ever undertaken as either SYD to LON flights or BNE to MEL flights. I have averaged half the electricity usage in my house over two billing periods and multiplied that by my thirty eight years. I have claimed responsibility for the entirety of the pollution produced by my family car, a 2011 Hyundai diesel wagon over a 15000km distance year again multiplied by my entire life. In similar fashion I have accounted for food, public transport, entertainment, electronics, furniture and waste disposal, generous estimates all and with no shortcutting for good behaviour like the limited meat consumption we are striving for or the lifelong composting of food waste.

I have to this point in my life been responsible for something on the order of five hundred and seventy seven tons of carbon emissions.

Using the 25 story ‘Gotham City Building‘ from the Brisbane skyline for scale. 577 tons as 8.2m cubes stacked in an array would approximate something like this:


It seems to me that a significant problem among climate denialism is a lack of imagination. I don’t suffer that problem, quite the opposite in fact.

My average output appears to fall somewhere between nine and sixteen tons per annum. The significant amounts of plane travel this year have pushed me upwards of twenty tons.

Damn right I live in the first world.

If I continue to err on the generous and I give myself a generous lifespan of say ninety six years my lifetime output will be one thousand four hundred and forty seven tons.

But I have decided that I want a Carbon Positive life.

I want to make sure I take more carbon out of the atmosphere in my life than I put into it. Leave it better than I found it as it were. To that end I am going to actively reduce my own emissions but I am also researching meaningful carbon offsetting techniques with which to meet this goal.

One of the concrete things I took away from ‘This Changes Everything‘ (Which you really ought to read) is that most carbon offsetting is total bullshit. Lots of dodgy operators and Howard era economics like ‘not cutting down this forest is a carbon offset’. Even so if I were to take the easy option and use, for instance one of the tree planting services listed here, as they are at least actively removing carbon from the atmosphere, I would be looking at a cost between eighteen and twenty five thousand dollars. Which needless to say I don’t have to spend. The how to accomplish this goal will is a work in progress.

Lots of ideas floating around, more are welcome.

Doubtless lots of work to do.








Candlebark is an extraordinary school.

But I knew that. I read the principal John Marsden’s books as a teenager and young adult and have I have been reading articles and following their development as a school since before I became a teacher. Candlebark and Brightworks are two of the most interesting experiments in education I know of and only Candlebark is accessible to us.


Hanging Rock is quite close to the school

One of my overarching impressions is of trust. This school trusts its students. They do not expect them to always do the right thing, or recognise all risks or behave with ‘adult’ maturity.

But they do trust them.

They trust them to move around the school independently, they trust them to feed themselves at the communal meals, they trust them to clean up after themselves.

I can’t stress enough that trusting students is a really radical idea in modern Australian education. I spend an inordinate amount of time, particularly as a relief teacher, setting expectations for and making students, often by repetition, walk in quiet neat lines for movement about the school. It is completely pointless, an activity that they will never repeat outside of the military in adulthood. It serves no useful purpose whatsoever. Children after all really only have two speeds; run or sleep, this school indulges that. Teachers say; meet me at such and such a place in five minutes and they leave the how up to the children, many of whom have bikes and scooters on campus for just such purpose.

They trust students to finish tasks and they expect them to do so. They do not set weekly busywork homework but they do expect incomplete work to be done in a student’s own time and returned. Students do take on tasks and projects that will only reach completion in the students own time.

They trust students to play safely within a large area of wilderness and to take first aid kits and walkie talkies if they are going out of what I gather are mostly visual limits. Pre-prep spend half days in the bush with sandwiches playing and learning how to move safely in that environment.

I asked a lot of questions but not enough and for my inattentiveness, N didn’t get to ask enough of her own at all. They had good answers for most. I didn’t ask enough questions about how a typical school day ran for students. How it is they incorporate National and Victorian curriculums into their format. I saw within different classrooms evidence of work on homophones, multi modal science units, the only pleasant sounding recorder lesson I have ever heard and a great variety of visual art. I saw students using blades and hot glue, riding bikes, playing chess and reading.

I saw not one single piece of Crafp.


The Crafp Cycle (Illustration due an update to comply with my ‘No stick figures’ class rules)

They have a Stephanie Alexander model school garden and they are actively using it. They have chooks and a pig, horses and a school dog. Students are able to spend time with the animals and be involved in their care. Food is prepared by cooks and the whole school eats together informally but off china with utensils. Food as with all excursions, camps and materials are included in the moderate but far from extreme fees. Only the instrumental music program costs extra.

They actively teach and have lessons devoted to chess, performance, public speaking, self reliance, bush craft, animal husbandry and problem solving. They do week long single topic focus study. They have an exciting curiosity driven pedagogy.

They only have one computer lab and students are only allowed in it accompanied by an adult. The justification here being that they believe “Students spend enough time device focused at home”. The limits of trust found here with screen time are interesting. Although each room has a projector and teachers use them widely, students are not permitted devices at school except on buses, where music is allowed. I am sure some people will think this is all very well and it is clearly working for the school. I think that there is perhaps a kernel of neo-ludditism to the protocol. But the children and screen time debate is a rant for another evening altogether.

It appeared visibly less multicultural than even the local public school here in Cobar. Unfortunately I think that this is a common feature of alternative education in Australia. I am not going to speculate on the why, only say that it is disappointing. The cultural melting pot of an inner city school doesn’t work everywhere but it does have real value in breaking down cultural barriers and stereotypes.

Candlebark is much better suited than most schools to prepare children for the challenges of the coming decades.

In particular this school better than any other I have so far been to is set up to give students the skills to survive mass automation and runaway climate change. Unfortunately it is also poorly geographically situated. Bush fires are an ever present risk and climate change will only exacerbate this.

The school takes fire safety very seriously. They have a fire bunker building (The library) capable of sheltering for the whole school, but they plan on never needing it. The school has its own buses and will evacuate well in advance of a fire front if it ever came to that. Also as red alert days are usually announced at least a day in advance they simply close the school on such days. At the moment they typically lose three to six days of school this way each year. That number is destined to rise. The Macedon ranges are pretty but very, very vulnerable to fire and the school and the new high school they have purchased are both in fairly thickly forested areas.

I would love to work there, it is clear that teaching is valued and rewarding and fun in that school. I would be happy to send my children there and we will be lodging an application pack even though we are not yet sure that we actually want to live close enough to do so. It isn’t perfect but it is a bloody good school and we can’t rule it out.


We had planned to drive direct from our Candlebark interview home to Cobar, but as we didn’t get on the road until three thirty the eight and a half hour drive had to be broken up for safety. We spent the night in a dive motel in Griffith after nine. Ate Mc dissapointment for breakfast and were home for lunch yesterday. All with a touch of sun and a feeling of serotonin debt that hasn’t quite passed yet. F has gotten sick and I’m fighting a sore throat. I got to see the local dance troupes annual performance on relief with year ones today. Which was… lets say an experience. Learning to use the public school’s 3D printer tomorrow.




On Bullying


I survived bullying. I was called gay from late year five until I left high school and went to Tafe in the city at the end of grade 10.

It didn’t matter that I wasn’t gay, not even slightly. It didn’t matter that family members and family friends were gay and I didn’t have issue with it. The label stuck, provoked a reaction and haunted me for years. The staff mostly didn’t get involved. Close friends wouldn’t hang out with me within sight of school peers. School was a pretty unrelenting misery, I have but a handful of good memories or lasting friendships from that time, barely any which were from within my actual year level. It was a dark and depressing period and it marked me for decades to come. Distrust of authority, body image issues, loneliness and trust issues as well as an overwhelmingly negative view of academia are among the lasting effects I have dealt with and I believe largely overcome.

I have been thinking about posting on the topic for some time. My high school cohort is going to celebrate a twenty year anniversary of a year twelve I didn’t attend this year. I didn’t attend the ten year and I have no compulsion to attend this one. I have mentally forgiven my antagonists but I have no desire or need to see what has become of them.

The announcement that thirteen year old Tyrone Unsworth committed suicide after a campaign of bullying based on his supposed sexuality touched a nerve. It is deeply sad and disappointing that people are still dying for who they love in supposedly progressive societies the world over. I believe his death could have been averted if people had stood up for him, challenged his antagonists and demanded better from them. The school will doubtless have to audit its monitoring and management procedures. I hope that among their responses is the introduction of  the Safe Schools Program

There will be a lot of baying for blood from “concerned citizens” targeting the alleged bullies families and the alleged oblivious staff of the school. This is deeply unhelpful. Believe me when I say that there was a time when I wanted to see violence visited upon my antagonists. I and the thousands of other bullying victims around the world understood, to our shame, a little of what drove the Columbine boys to their awful end. Every authoritarian punishment based response to bullying I have observed has backfired, often badly. I have seen restorative justice both succeed and fail to deal with victimisation of students peers. In fact the only actually successful anti bullying technique I have ever encountered is the ‘Method of Shared Concern‘. Blaming and hating on the perpetrators doesn’t help the victims, it just makes the perps better at hiding their crimes.


Programs which normalise acceptance, compassion and community are the strongest weapons we have against bullying and the bigotry and medieval morality of an outspoken group of religious fundamentalists should not be permitted to get in the way of their implementation.



Homework and preparation for the big drive.

Tomorrow morning we embark on a four day expedition to visit Candlebark and explore the surrounding suburbs.

Everything’s Shit

So that gastro bug got me after all. Had to leave work and have a good lie down. No vomiting for me so far fortunately.

I woke to find that 2016 has gone 3 for 3 in bad election outcomes. Yay!


I take no pleasure in saying it. I told you so.

Even a day ago I thought maybe, maybe it is going to be OK. Maybe Clinton will scrape a win and actually show some spine and the dire climate trajectory we are on could be turned around.

But no. Nothing good will come of this.

For me culpability for this catastrophic fecal tsunami falls squarely on the shoulders of the DNC, The Clintons and the media that colluded with them and in turn gave so much attention to the demagogue. They brought a knife to a gun fight. They got beaten by new media, memes and fucking 4chan. This election was about antiestablishmentism and they, through collusion, media blockading and occasional outright fraud selected the most divisive and unpopular establishment democratic candidate of my lifetime. In so doing they shafted the one candidate that could not only have beaten Trump but could actually have led the fight against neoliberalism and climate change globally.

I don’t want to sound too pessimistic but at this point I honestly think another American civil war is not out of the realm of possibility. Not straight away, but when the lists start forming and the camps begin filling, when the little injustices and the overt bigotry begin to grate on people a year or two down the line. Things may get very ugly indeed.

Anyway western civilisation we had a pretty good run. It is a shame but I have had a saying for years now;

“If we can’t convince our democratically elected leaders to change, we probably deserve to go extinct

It’s just a pity we will take so much of the biosphere with us, but hey evolution has time for a few more experiments before the sun expands.