Author Archive

Grief in the Workplace by Faith Horizon

Posted: June 2, 2014 by ivoburum in Music


We will all be affected by grief at some point in our lives, regardless of our demographics. The impact of grief is a story that every one can relate to in some form or another.

How grief influences our ability to maintain employment is the core of my story. I wanted to focus on people who have either experienced returning to work after grief or who are recognizing the companies that provide support to bereaved employees.

My mother Phoenix Horizon lost her 18 year old daughter Chanelle unexpectedly in 2008. This has significantly affected Horizon’s physical and mental health, as well as her ability to sustain employment. I wanted to emphasis Horizon’s experiences by using two other bereaved mother’s accounts also.

Horizon has found support from bereavement groups such as ‘The Compassionate Friends’, which have branches all over the world. According to ‘The Compassionate Friends’ Victoria CEO Anne Wicking, grief accounts for 34 billion dollars worth of lost profit in the USA alone. This is due to lower productivity and the cost of having to retrain new staff when a bereaved person leaves.

According to the Summary Report Beyond the Death of a Child (2007)bereaved parents employment leave ranged from “a low of two weeks to a high of two years and eight months, with an average period of leave without pay of 15.5 weeks.” (Stebbins and Batrouney, p.8)

In the same report, the loss of a child caused further financial strain due to bereaved parents untimely resignation or retirement, being demoted, leaving without payment, absences in the workplace, abandoning or selling a business, losing employment entitlements, inability to undertake certain shifts or work on particular days (Stebbins and Batrouney, p.8)

The positive aspect of this story is ‘The Compassionate Friends’ have set in place the Compassionate Employer Recognition Awards, where business who have shown fair treatment towards grieving employees can be nominated. ( This not only honors companies who deliver supportive practice to bereaved workers, but according to Wicking, it also provides a template for other businesses to follow.

This coincides with the document ‘How to be a Compassionate Employer’ which condenses down the key points to be aware of when dealing with someone who is grieving. Most of these recommendations focus on emotional and mental support, rather than financial. It can be accessed at this link (

My story aims to bring awareness to the way grief affects people around us. Especially in a workplace setting, as employers or colleagues may be oblivious to a bereaved person’s needs if the death has occurred years ago. Additionally they may not feel comfortable discussing it at all. As Wicking notes grief is “the elephant in the room.”

Many people gain their sense of worth through employment, so the return to work for a grieving person should enrich both their financial and emotional lives through supportive workplace practices.

The job industry has become more competitive in current years now that applicants can go job hunting from the comfort of their own home with websites such as Linked IN and Seek.

With vast quantities of people online and marketing themselves to prospective organizations, it has become a requirement to be digital savvy to stand out above the pack.

For older generations who are accustomed to seeking work the traditional way, this has the potential to leave them out of their element and overlooked by employers.

“I believe it’s my age, I’m in that age bracket, in my 50’s, where a lot of companies are not interested in taking on somebody in that age bracket,” said Denise Docker, who has been out of work for two years now since the Government made her last job redundant.

Age has been shown to be a handicap in certain fields due to an assumed  lack of technical competency, the business image or physical requirements.

Older people, who have been out of work for a while, are now finding prospective employers are expecting basic skill sets involving digital technologies.

“If I was employing for a role that needed knowledge in certain technologies, then if an older candidate had the same aptitude with those technologies as the younger candidate, they certainly wouldn’t be discriminated against,” said Ray Pascoe, a small company owner.

For people such as Denise, who was let go from her last job due to Government budget cuts, it is fitting that the Government assume responsibility for providing her with training to make her more employable in the current job market.

Denise said that she was contacted by Seek to study for a certificate four in business free of charge, as they received Government sponsorship for people who were struggling to find work.

This is yet another example of the benefits which some people may be unknowingly forgoing as they have yet to step foot into the cyber world.

Online job hunting does pose its flaws as well as its advantages however.

Whilst it makes it easier for people to network and get in touch with the right people, it also floods the job market and dilutes the talent pool when employers are forced to sift through dozens, or sometimes hundreds of online job applications.

Like with most elements of day to day life that have integrated themselves online, society will need to find its balance with the new and the traditional to find synergy.


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Australia rose to six per cent in February this year, for the first time in more than a decade. This jobless rate tops the figure reached during the height of the global financial crisis, when unemployment peaked at 5.9 per cent in June 2009.

Jomana Najeb is a Master of Creative Media graduate with a vast range of work experiences. “I’ve worked mainly in admin type roles, I’ve done a lot of project management, marketing, community events, I’ve also worked in sales…I’ve done a lot of various things, I’ve even worked in Communications as well.” Unfortunately with Victoria experiencing one of the highest jobless rates in the nation, finding work has been a challenge for Jomana and many others in a similar situation as her. Many people are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of opportunities despite their qualifications and skills.

For some it means venturing into alternative avenues to ensure they remain employed. Brendan Pearson is from recruitment agency, OzRecruits. He says the rise in unemployment rate has impacted their work. “There’s been a marked increase in the number of applications we’re seeing as unemployment grows, we’re noticing that a lot more people are finding out about our services.” Mr Pearson says some people are deviating towards other career paths they feel provide more stability. Additionally, Mr Pearson indicates a noticeable rise in interest for courses undertaken to develop skills necessary for some roles. With the shortage of full-time positions, OzRecruits has observed a trend towards job searchers applying for part-time, casual and even temporary roles.

Meanwhile, health experts are concerned about the health effects of lengthy periods spent in front of computer screens searching and applying for jobs. Psychologist and health advocate, Santilla Charlton says people should have a routine for their day while job searching and incorporate physical activity. “We encourage people to take some breaks as you would if you were in an office. Stretch your legs, go outside and get some fresh air. Make sure you eat healthily, don’t sit eating at the computer desk. Make sure you go somewhere, maybe outside in the backyard and have your lunch there.”

For Jomana, among many tasks on her daily to-do list, she has ensured exercise takes a high priority. To clear her mind from the stress of applications, she goes for a walk each day and has joined her local gym. Furthermore, as the uncertainty of the job market continues, Jomana says she’s prepared for other options. “I spend a part of my time researching all these other opportunities for how I could work for myself because I’ve decided that the job market is getting smaller and I’d like to consider working for myself.”


Geelong is a city going through a turbulent transition, stranded between its history and its future. Its modern legacy as a stronghold of heavy industry – led by Ford, Alcoa and Shell – is fading fast.

Ford has been closing its Geelong manufacturing works for some time, with the final jobs to go by 2016. Alcoa has announced that its ageing aluminium smelter and rolling mill would close in August, at a cost of 800 jobs. Last year Qantas axed just under 300 maintenance jobs at the nearby Avalon Airport and Target sacked 260 workers from its Geelong head office.

Geelong has a long history as a city, and with that, a long history of being able to rebuild itself from problems past. There is little doubt Geelong will reinvent itself as a smart city of the future on the back of its tourism, agriculture and, service industries, as well as its role as a port, and  its role as a hub for new industry, such as carbon fibre manufacturing.

The inevitable and immediate pain of future uncertainty looms for Geelong’s recently unemployed. One of the major problems with widespread job cuts to similar industries to an area in a short period of time is that it creates a situation where there are too many workers looking for what little work is still available. As Professor Louse Johnson explained during my interview with her, about one third of workers will find work in a similar industry, maintaining a similar standard of living; another third will find work in lesser jobs, reducing their standard of living. For the other third, it’s unlikely that they will work again. The question of whether to remain in Geelong, the bedrock of many workers’ lives, beckons also.

Fitter and turner Jay Craven, 24, was made redundant by Ford in Geelong in an early wave of job cuts. The atmosphere of redundancy is not a good one. The media seem to know information before the workers do, and there’s a general sense of despondency in the air as colleagues and friends turn on each other in a battle for job survival.

Whilst many of his colleagues tried to find work in and around Geelong to varying degrees of success, Jay decided to apply for a jobs in Melbourne. After a period of applying for jobs without luck, a family friend suggested he apply for a maintenance job at Yarra Trams. When he found out that he got the job, the decision to head down the highway was an easy one. Unlike some of his colleagues whom were rentrenched in Geelong with homes and young families, Jay’s only attachment was a sentimental one, having lived in the area his whole life.

Jay now lives in Preston with his sister, who also works in Melbourne. He is really enjoying the change, believing his fresh start will allow him to better develop a career and grow as a person. No one likes seeing people lose their jobs, but for Jay, redundancy was was the catalyst for a positive change in his life.

Young manufacturing boss by Candy Huang

Posted: June 1, 2014 by ivoburum in Economics, mojo, Rural Events
Tags: ,

This young manufacturing boss was a student two years ago, he has had some special experience that others cannot imagine. He realized his dream, created his own brand “AUMORE WOOL”, and became a factory owner in Australia. His name is Clark, and now he is the founder and managing director of Chuanxin international Pty Ltd.

When we made an appointment for an interview, I waited outside his factory for him and notice the large sign, “AUMORE WOOL”. The neighboring factory worker Chris told me Clark was a really excellent young man, worked very hard, and that everyone who worked in this street knows him. I began to image what sort of a person he is.

During the interview, Clark told me a long story about his personal life, and how hard he worked in order to start this business. I found that this young man was very passionate for his own business, he showed me his factory and the products and told me the story about the machine. Although he had lot of pressure and stress on business, this young man was still calm and had a serious plan. I supposed that was the real difference between him and all the rest.

David, who is a boss form Mobile Essential says, “in today’s market competition, product quality is most important.

Clark said that, he flew to different places hand-picked wool in every season, and chose the best wool in the world used to make a quilt. Every time a product was sold to a different country, he hung the national flag of that country in the factory. “I want to hang the national flag of different countries in whole of industry,” Clark says proudly.

Now, his career going very stable, and he has more long-term goals. That is, to make his brand “AUMORE WOOL” a world leading luxury brand.

From a student to a young manufacturing boss is not the end of Clark’s story, it is just beginning, he has a long way to go to realize his dream.

More and more person chose to adopt animal when they want to have a pet. In my hometown, Taiwan, government and celebrities are beginning to support this issue in recent years.

When I came to Australia in 2013, I found lots of pet owners in Australia especially in Melbourne chose adoption than buying. This is because most of them think pet shops or puppy farms are making profit through animal. For the people who love animal it is so unethical.

Through I chatted with my friend, Emily, she talked to me some cruel situations of pet shops happened, like inbreeding program. And she also talked to me something about RSPCA because she adopted two dogs last year.

RSPCA Australia (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is an Australian government funding organization. In Australia, each state has an RSPCA organization. RSPCA Victoria was established in 1871, it located in Burwood Highway, near Deakin University.

I do an interview to test about the awareness of adoption in RSPCA.I interviewed people who walked around RSPCA to ask them some simple questions such as ‘Do you know how to adopt an animal in RSPCA?’ But most of interviewees think to adopt a pet in RSPCA is a hard task.

Thus, I came to RSPCA and ask them how to adopt an animal in RSPCA? The answer was surprised me! The staff told me they knew choosing the pet for people are takes time. So, to make this process easier, RSPCA has introduced a national website called ‘Adopt A Pet’ that will let you view some of the animals waiting to be adopted at RSPCA locations across Australia.

Besides, if you prefer come to RSPCA directly, they are also welcome. You just do three steps: find a pet, fill the form and wait thee phone call.

The reason why you can take the pet directly, this is because they have to do some survey on your family background. The staff told me they want to make sure every pet find a right home. It is very important for these stray pets. They do not want to they ever come back again. They want to they stay and be happy and live for their rest lives in their new homes.

In the future, if you or your friends want to buy a pet, think about adopting in RSPCA. They are as same animals as you see in pet shops. Please, support adoption, because love does not come with a price tag.

Tina is one of my friends who worked for PWC, the world’s second largest professional services network, in Beijing branch in her home-country China. When everyone admired her having such a good job, she decided to quit it and come to Australia to undertake further education. There was no doubt that this decision surprised not only her friends but also her parents.

Scott, a Deakin University student, is studying his Master Degree of Marketing. He worked in an Apple store for six months before he came to Australia. They both worked in the world famous company where they received a decent salary and welfare, most people hope to work in such companies after graduation.

Why did they choose to give up their jobs and go abroad to take further education? That aroused my curiosity: Isn’t it a risk?

Later I searched on the internet and found that their example is not the individual phenomenon, many people in China stayed at their jobs for a few years and then go abroad taking further education in USA, UK or Australia. Among them I found some people whose age is above 30.

Both Tina and Scott mentioned that working in China has a lot of pressure not only physically but also mentally. The competition is intense in China and after a few years they found the job is no longer attractive. And also the environment issue is getting worse and worse. All the things above drives them to escape.

They pointed out that for people with working experience, the advantages of studying abroad outweigh the disadvantages. Firstly, they can understand well what they study due to their previous experience. Secondly, they find it much easier to find a part time job to supply the daily expense in Australia. Last, when they go back, the experience of studying abroad can win them a better job.

Nick Ko, International Students Advisor, working at Deakin Student Life told me international students definitely have more advantages compared with local students when they go back after graduation. Australia is a multicultural country and has high quality universities. Students here can have more diverse experience. It helps the way they think, the way they deal with things and helps them to find work.

In recent years, more increasingly Chinese students choose to study in overseas universities. According to a report by the Chinese Ministry of Education, the admission number of the college exam (Gaokao) decreased from 10.5 million in 2008 to 9.15 million in 2012. Among those students who did not take the exam, was a group who studied overseas. There were 340,000 Chinese students at universities abroad in 2012. This number increased 20% compared with last year. More specifically, the Australian government reported in 2013, that China is the largest source country of international students for Australia. In 2011, there were almost 160,000 enrolments by Chinese students, which accounted for 30% of all international student enrolments in that year.

One important reason is Chinese students believe they can achieve better education in Australia than in China. The education industry is a pillar industry in Australia, which is constantly improving the educational system to attract students from all over the world. Australian universities are ranked amongst the top universities in the world; amongst these are University of Melbourne, Australian National University and University of Sydney.

Secondly, the economic situation of Chinese people has greatly improved. Many Chinese families have enough money to support their child to study overseas. Those Chinese parents hope their child can open the eyes and obtain abundant knowledge and experience through studying overseas.

Finally, it is a common view in China that overseas graduates can get high-income jobs. At present, in China, the average national graduate has a great deal of pressure to get a good job. As a result, many graduates are not employed or are not willing to look for a job. Therefore, studying overseas can help them to change this situation.

After graduation, some of Chinese students hope to immigrate to Australia. Australia also welcomes people from different areas. There are over 7 million immigrants in Australia. Why do they want to stay here? Maybe the most important thing is that Australia has a great living environment. For example, Melbourne achieved world’s most livable city status several times. Moreover, Chinese graduates can make much more money in Australia than in China. In addition, immigrates can enjoy many Australian public welfare.

On the other hand, the majority of Chinese graduates in Australia hope to come back to China. According to a report of Chinese education ministry, the number of Chinese students coming back to China after graduation grew 38% in 2011. One reason is the policy about immigration is stricter for international students. Many Chinese students choose to study accounting and finance in Australia. This is because they know it is good way to immigrate. However, after graduation, students who want to immigrate to Australia need to get a result of 7 score of IELTS. It is pretty difficult for most Chinese students of business faculty. Moreover, some of them maybe do not adapt to the life style in Australia. There is totally different culture between Australia and China. Furthermore, at present, the Chinese economy is quickly growing. There are many opportunities for overseas graduates. According to a survey of Australian Education International, 77% of employed Australian-educated graduates are satisfied with their job in China. Therefore, through studying in Australia, it is not a problem to get a good job for Chinese students when they come back to China.