Wednesday, November 26, 2014


It's election time in Victoria and as has become the norm, both sides have launched smear campaigns which are almost impossible to avoid.

While telling lies and distorting the truth is expected from politicians these days, there has been one message that I have heard over and over again during this election that I can't ignore - "Liberal's TAFE cuts". It is misleading (surprise, surprise) and I think people should know the broader context.

Firstly, there are a variety of institutes/organisations that provide vocational education and training (VET) in Australia. These include TAFEs, universities, community providers, private training organisations, industry training organisations, etc.

The history of VET in Australian is actually quite interesting, but I want to keep this post succinct (somewhat). What is important to know is that the majority of VET funding was previously channelled to TAFEs. However, COAG (Council of Australian Governments) issued a policy that training funding should be contestable for lower level VET courses (e.g., Cert I to Cert III).

Why would COAG do that? Because the overwhelming feedback from individuals and employers is that TAFEs are inflexible and are not providing training and skills that meet industry needs. This is why many enterprises are registering their own training organisations and training their own staff.

VET is meant to be about providing skills that our workforce needs, that industry and business needs. When those needs are not being met, something needs to change.

Most States have already adopted contestable funding models (although NSW tried to resist for as long as possible). There is the Certificate 3 Guarantee in Queensland, Skills for All in South Australia, Smart and Skilled in NSW and the Victorian Training Guarantee in Victoria.

All of these reforms and programs are demand/consumer driven. This means that the organisation that student chooses is the organisation that gets the funding.

I'm the first to admit that there are some 'dodgy' training organisations out there, but they are a minority. Regardless, giving students/employers a choice make sense.

I should note that other funding cuts (e.g., reduction to subsidy rates) have also affected TAFEs in Victoria, but they haven't been specifically aimed at TAFEs. All Victorian training organisations were affected by these cuts.

If TAFEs want to survive they need to adapt to their environment, after all it's greater competitiveness that COAG was trying to stimulate in the first place. But I assure you that regardless of the number of TAFEs in Victoria, there will still be access to great training.

(Please note - I'm not politically aligned and I usually try to avoid the circus, although I do strongly support our right to vote.)

Monday, February 17, 2014

religious education

I personally don't mind the idea of religious education, but it should be just that - an education. 

Kids should know that people throughout the world (including Australia) follow different religions and that each religion involves different beliefs and behaviours. Kids should also know that some people aren't religious at all. Education is a great way to raise awareness and prevent intolerance. However, it is not necessarily a school's job to teach this and schools should definitely not be indoctrinating kids. 

I remember coming home from primary school and telling my parents that God made rainbows. (I obviously hadn't learnt about light refraction and reflection at this stage.) How sad it is to see that the Victorian school system has not changed much in 20 years.

- Dani

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a weighty issue

I always get sucked into reading people's comments on news articles, I just can't help it. Often these opinions make we squirm in my chair. "How can people think like this?" I wonder. But I never do anything about it.

Today is different though, today I want to share my opinion.

James Adonis' article in The Age delves into the impact of our ever increasing waistlines on workplaces, based on a report by Deloitte.

But it's not the article I want to respond to, it's the comments. As with any article about obesity there tend to be two major types of responders:
  • The fatty-haters that seem to think fat people are lazy, stupid and disgusting
  • The fatty-sympathisers that often make excuses for our current trend of constant expansion

Obviously there are responses that don't fit into these two categories, but you get the gist.

Now I'm not going to make excuses about being fat. Yes, sometimes working a 12-14 hour day does stop me from exercising. Yes, sometimes the unhealthy food in the office kitchen does tempt me. But it is my choice to do this job, if I wanted a job that was more flexible or demanded fewer hours, I could probably find one. And no one forces a Freddo into my mouth, I make the choice to eat it. (Although an office fruit bowl could offer a sweet alternative - hint hint.)

But... contrary to popular belief, not all fat people are stupid or uneducated or "unable to be educated". And some of us are well aware that 1kg of broccoli costs less than a bucket of KFC. And! Can you really generalise that a fat person is lazy purely because they are fat?

I am not proud of the situation I am in with my weight, but I am proud of almost everything else about my life. My weight is only one factor that determines who I am. Being 88kg and 164cm, I am technically obese, but I am also much more than that.

There are three big things the "fatty-haters" keep bringing to the forum that really bothers me.
1. Fat people are disgusting
2. Fat people are lazy
3. Fat people are stupid

Firstly, if you are disgusted by fat people, it is you who has a problem not the fat person. You can be concerned about the health and well-being of a fat person, though that can seem condescending, but you shouldn't be disgusted by them. Being disgusted by fat people (or disabled people or people with physical abnormalities) is completely superficial. So as I said before, you are the problem not the fat person.

Also, why do you let it bother you? I personally don't like tattoos and I think a lot of people will regret them in the future, but I am not disgusted by someone because they have chosen to ink their body.

But there are disgusting people out there. Do you know who is disgusting? Men who treat women like a punching bag. Paedophiles. And Collingwood supporters - ok that one is a joke. But you get the point. People should be judged by their actions, not their looks.

Now I can see why people might assume that fat people are lazy, but let's be honest, it is all about priorities. If I am hungry and there is no food in the house, I am not a lazy person, I am a determined person who is going to leave the house to get food.

You couldn't even generalise that all fat people are physically lazy, as there are an abundance of fatties out there that are more active than their thinner counterparts. So it really does come down to balance and priorities. At some point a fat person has ingested more energy-laden food than they have burned, and they haven't done the reverse.

Ah, now the last point is the toughest one for me personally, because a little part of me thinks that I am stupid. (Yes stupid, but not uneducated or unintelligent). Because I have all the knowledge I need to lose weight. In fact, I had this knowledge before I gained the weight. But I have continued behavioural patterns that encourage weight gain. (It does seem a little stupid.)

So this issue doesn't seem to be about smarts so much as it is about capability. Knowledge is only half the battle, you need this willpower to put it all into practice.

Lastly, I know that a lot of these commenters' views are often based on prejudice but there is also some truth to them. Some fat people are lazy and some might be stupid. The same could be said of nearly any subsection of the population. And the statistics might even support these views. But how is that going to help anyone?

So, to the all the fatty-haters and concerned friends/family, thank you for noticing us but your criticism is not very helpful. Here are some suggestions to turn your negative views and concerned thoughts into useful actions.
  • Dine together at restaurants or cafes with predominantly healthy options
  • Instead of catching up over coffee suggest a walk in the Botanical Gardens
  • Don't focus on physical attributes - yours, theirs or anyone else's (we all need to feel more comfortable in our bodies - one of the biggest issues I deal with is constantly feeling uncomfortable in my body, especially during exercise - our bodies are amazing and useful (no matter their size) and should be treated as such)
  • Start a social sport team and ask all your friends to join
  • Be less obvious - this applies to both disgust and concern - constantly telling someone how concerned you are about their weight really doesn't help
  • Focus on the positives - we all have skills and talents, and these should be recognised

Please note that I think people should strive to maintain a healthy body and that being fat shouldn't be considered the 'norm'. But there are plenty of things worse than being fat - let's get some perspective people.

- Dani

Friday, August 9, 2013

time out

Hello to anyone still out there, I am amazed you have stuck around.

I'm writing to let you know that I am feeling very little love for this blog at the moment. Writing about what I eat and when I exercise has started to feel trivial.

It's pretty easy to eat healthier and exercise regularly, but alas I have failed to make these changes. Whether I achieved this or not though, it doesn't deserve front page news. So why should I dedicate a blog to it?

I thought a blog might be a way to motivate myself, to be accountable. But instead of being a motivator, it has often left me angry and frustrated, particularly when I haven't achieved my goals. And when you are the ultimate editor, it's too easy to leave out the 'naughty' behaviours.

In fact, I am currently at my heaviest weight ever. That's pretty conclusive evidence that this blog has not contributed to me achieving my healthy and fitness goals. Now obviously I'm not blaming the blog for gaining weight, that is entirely my fault, but the blog hasn't been a useful tool in helping me to steer myself in a different direction.

So, where does this leave us? My Instagram account will still heavily feature fitness and food related pics and I will probably still write a post every now and then, but it won't be exclusively about health and fitness. Often I feel the need to share my thoughts or opinions about a number of issues, so they'll probably feature a little more often.

I hope you've enjoyed sharing this journey with me, but for now I'll say "see ya later". It's time for a time out.

- Dani

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

rice paper rolls

Um... why didn't anyone tell me that making your own rice paper rolls is WAY better than buying them?

Ok, some of you probably did tell me that and thanks to an impromptu Asian supermarket trip with my sister, I finally made them!

Delicious and light, rice paper rolls will be a regular feature during lunch from now on. Oh and the best thing about making your own, is that YOU choose the ingredients. I know... it's amazing!

- Dani

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

lean in

Lean In is a women's empowerment foundation established following the release of Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. I haven't read this book yet, but I have genuinely enjoyed reading some of the content on the Lean In website. (Check out the 'Letters from Dad'.)

One of the projects started by Lean In is 'What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?', which is based on the following premise...

Studies show that even after college, women are less ambitious than their male peers. They avoid leadership roles. They are afraid to speak up. 
Why do women harbor such fear? Why are they afraid to raise their hands? 
...and it got me thinking.  What would I do if I wasn't afraid?

At first I thought "I'm not afraid", and in the conventional sense, I'm not. But then I realised that there are subtle fears shaping my life. For example, I would love to travel more, but with only 4 weeks annual leave a year, I would probably have to quit my job to truly pursue that goal. And while I really like my job, which is the main reason I haven't just packed and left, I'm also afraid that a prolonged period of travel could negatively effect my future career prospects.

So here is brief list of some of things I would do if I wasn't afraid.

1. Travel the world for 12 months or so

2. Talk to my parents more openly

3. Believe that I can (do anything)

Which then leads me to the question... what would you do if you weren't afraid?

- Dani

Saturday, July 6, 2013


While my 'feminist views' tend to focus on the education of women and breaking down social expectations and stereotypes, I felt the need to share with you this confronting video about domestic violence.

Please note that domestic violence does not only occur to women. Many men in Australia are physically assaulted by their partners.

- Dani