Welcome to the latest edition of the Work 'n' Care newsletter. Each month we try and bring you stories that embody all aspects of a carers life. Our aim is to empower you in your caring role and to make your life a little easier. Contact us with your experiences and ideas as the process of sharing can make a carers life just that little bit easier. Read the latest edition below or use the links on the right to navigate our story archives.

 

Be happier in a few minutes daily

If you are interested in happiness and positivity tips and articles, spend some time on the Dr Happy website.

Happy
If you are interested in happiness and positivity tips and articles, spend some time on the Dr Happy website.

Dr Happy has been posting info on this theme for more than 10 years at drhappy.com.au

The material comes from various sources and happiness gurus all over the world, like the gem below, adapted from Hal Elrod’s best seller ‘The Miracle Morning’ which has helped redefine the mornings and the lives of millions of readers since its release in 2012.

Every morning, right when you wake up, do each of these six things for one minute.

  1. Sit upright, legs crossed, eyes closed in silence. Let your thoughts pass through. Breathe slowly and deeply, like you’re meditating.
  2. Read or recite a short set of affirmations, a little pep talk for yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror for extra oomph.
  3. Visualize yourself going through your day. Open your window or step outside, look at the sky, and imagine yourself actually doing the things you will do that day, whether it’s grocery shopping, filling an Excel spreadsheet, writing, cold calling people or flambé-ing a chicken.
  4. Do ONE set of exercises. That’s it. Shoot for however many repetitions you can muster that day. Say it’s push-ups. Try for 20. Sometimes it might be 50 (or five). Take a walk. Adapt to how well you feel.
  5. Read one page of a book. This isn’t about crossing items off your reading list. It’s about finding one good piece of insight to accompany you throughout the day.
  6. Write into a one-sentence journal. Many people over-complicate journaling. It’s helpful even if you just answer one question with one sentence. You cannot write a sentence without learning something. Pick one question you’ll answer each morning, for example: How do you feel right now? What did you learn yesterday? Are you ready to take on the day? Why/why not?
  7. Plan how and when you might do a small act of gratitude or appreciation on this day. Imagine bringing a smile to somebody’s face. This could be the office cleaner, a person standing a supermarket aisle, a friend or relative. Nothing is better than making someone happy each day. The happiness bubbles up within you and enhances your wellbeing, work and productivity.
That’s it! These few minutes will pay off for the rest of your day, and, if you do it regularly, for the rest of your life.

How to shine at your next job interview

Every job interview is a potential doorway to a new life.

Job Interview
Every job interview is a potential doorway to a new life. Your job is to impress. Being well informed and well-practised will help you relax, be more confident, articulate and successful.

Here are some interview tips that may help our working carers who are seeking a new job.

Practice makes perfect  

You will have the most confidence going into an interview if you have practised well beforehand in an interview setting. This is where your best friend, partner, mum, dad or the cat come in handy! Sit them down and give them a list of potential questions and ask them to grill you, while you sit across the table and answer.

Well okay, maybe not the cat, but if that is your only audience, ask yourself the questions and direct the answers to the mirror! You should dedicate a few hours each day to practising for interviews.

Another idea is to pay for a career development or recruitment service that offers mock interviews.

Try and get interviews with lots of similar organisations – even if you don’t want that particular job – the practice will be beneficial and you will have much more confidence when that dream job comes along.

Keep a list of how you answered each question and reflect on how you could answer better next time.

Prepare a structure you can use to answer questions

You need to have a well-developed structure for answering questions – especially problem-solving questions – and memorise it.

You need an idea of how to start. Sitting there blank-faced will not help you one iota.

Always repeat the question to the interviewer. You want to be sure you understand it and have all the relevant details. This will clarify your thinking and buy you a little bit of time to get your thoughts in order.

Tell them any assumptions you are making. Be clear what the OUTCOME or OBJECTIVES are that they wish to achieve in the given scenario. Don’t be afraid to ask any clarifying questions.

Even if you don’t know HOW to solve the issue, give them the APPROACH you might use. Discuss the trade-offs of the approach (authority to act/staff conflict/time/space/complexity of issue/likely consequences of two different courses of action and so on).

They are more likely to be interested in your thought processes and approach than the ultimate solution you propose.

Create a bank of pre-rehearsed answers for standard questions.

Give job hunting dedicated time

Make sure you have enough time in your schedule to invest in your job search process. You should be checking job ads every single day.

Set aside necessary money for travel expenses (you may have to pay fares if the job interview is distant).

Be prepared to get on the bus, train, plane or drive halfway to the moon and back to attend interviews. Be on time, even if it means being an hour early.

Always, always call if you are going to be late or cannot make it – whatever the reason.

Get well informed

You need to treat every job interview as a test of your knowledge – and study for it.

Read articles or borrow books from the library about the industry in which you are seeking a position.

You need to be informed about the main issues facing that industry; the global implications to Australian businesses, the main problems your organisation is likely to be facing in their marketplace – even if it doesn’t directly relate to your particular position. What is government policy relating to that particular industry? What is the ‘bible’ for that industry? Read it!

Follow these tips and you will be prepared and relaxed for any interview, which will significantly increase your chances of getting that job. Good luck in your next interview!

Award winner ‘too disabled’ for mainstream education

Award winner ‘too disabled’ for mainstream education

Joel Satherley was considered ‘too disabled’ for mainstream education. But as a young adult, and against all odds, he won a major Australian Government award.

His mother, Work ‘n’ Care editor Zoe Satherley, shares her personal journey and reflects on widespread media discussion in recent weeks around the segregation of students with disability from regular classes, and the continuing maltreatment of students with disability in educational settings.

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Nine years ago, I lost a beloved son who had significant disability encompassing autism and cerebral palsy.

Today, listening to the ongoing debate about whether students with disability should be included in mainstream classes, and recent stories about the horrific treatment of students with disability in Australian schools, I can only reflect sadly that Australia still has a very long way to evolve before we see respect, inclusion and acceptance as the norm for our sons and daughters.

When will they be allowed to live valued lives, embedded in the fabric of their community, with the support they so rightly deserve? How long must we keep fighting for their basic human rights?

Despite the significant gains made in disability rights and legislation, the struggle against ignorance continues.

We have all listened to TV, radio and press debate in recent times suggesting that students with disability, like my son, need to be removed from our classrooms because they hold the other students back. There are ‘special’ schools for them and that’s where they belong.    

Now, on the ninth anniversary of his death, I am reminded of the long battle our family had to get our son, Joel (who had extremely high support needs), into a regular classroom setting where he could have an education commensurate with his abilities.

He was one of those ‘difficult’ kids. A kid who rebelled against the situation he found himself in. So, he spent quite a bit of time in ‘isolation’ receiving ‘therapy’ a.k.a. punishment. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he would be strapped, sobbing, into a rigid standing frame for hours on end, only to wet himself and be transferred to a small caged area, where he was left to howl alone.

Then… they were all put in isolation: the kids came back after a holiday break to find that their ‘special unit’ had been segregated from the rest of the school by a black-painted iron-bar fence two metres high. We pulled him out of school. We were threatened by the authorities.

I remember sitting on the phone for hours and days on end, relentlessly calling schools within a radius of 800 kms from our Central Coast home. Shockingly, no mainstream school would accept Joel as a student. He was, the then Department of Education said, ‘too disabled’ to be included in a regular mainstream class.

We lodged a complaint with the Disability Discrimination Commission and kept looking for a school.

The only place where Joel was potentially welcome was Nimbin Central School, on the NSW North Coast. We had no idea back then where Nimbin was – only that we were going there, no matter what.

But even that seeming miracle challenged our family’s self-worth. I was invited to a special staff meeting to plead my case for Joel’s enrolment. The teachers then retired to take a vote. The Principal, Alex Benham, used his casting vote to support the enrolment. I remember he had a pink rose quartz crystal on his office desk. It became my favourite gemstone.

In time, with amazing support from Gillian Smith, a visionary Department of Education disability support consultant, Joel thrived at school, astonishing staff and students alike.

In Year 7, his first year at the school, music teacher Myra Virtue asked the class to name some famous composers. Two students managed to name one composer each. Anyone else? Any composer will do! There was silence.

Joel put up his shaky hand. He was still the new boy, the ‘disabled kid’ who talked funny and couldn’t walk. There was snickering. Twenty minutes later the bell had rung and Joel was still going strong, having named more than 50 composers! The teacher was filling the board with names … the class stayed in. Unheard of. They cheered him on. He was a legend after that.

In his final year, Year 12, Joel triumphantly shared the award as the school’s most outstanding student. He had a huge number of deeply connected and caring friends, who gave him a standing ovation… and partied on into the night with him. Years later, these were the same wonderful friends who visited frequently as he struggled with terminal cancer.

What is important to put on record, is that Joel received full-time teacher aide support for his six years of high school. It paid massive dividends. Individualised support is crucial to successful inclusion – for the student, for the teacher, and for the class.

Later, again with a great deal of individualised support, Joel went on to study art and drama at TAFE, and writing at Southern Cross University.

He became an in-demand speaker, sharing his compelling personal journey and advocating for a fair go for people with disability. The Institute for Family Advocacy and Leadership Development made a film about him.

In 2007, against all odds, he was the inaugural Australian Government National Disability Awards personal achievement prize winner.

Now, if backward-thinking people had their way, students like Joel would spend their education years in little concentration camps behind bars, in ‘special’ units that are under-staffed and under-resourced, out of sight and out of mind.

They would be denied the chance to realise their full potential, to develop lasting, freely-given friendships, and to make meaningful contributions to society.

New generations of so-called ‘normal’ kids would grow up in absolute ignorance – intolerant of difference, fearful, and unsure of how to relate to a person with disability. They might reach adulthood as uninformed, bigoted, individuals – like some of our politicians. As organisational leaders and decision-makers, they would continue to carry their prejudice and fear with them.

People with disability deserve so much more from us than this. We need to speak up wherever and whenever we see discrimination against them and stand with them, shoulder-to-shoulder, as allies and advocates. 

Get behind workplace flexibility – or lose out

Diversity Council Australia (DCA) has developed online resources to help organisations build flexible teams, jobs and organisations.

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Diversity Council Australia (DCA) has developed online resources to help organisations build flexible teams, jobs and organisations.

The Future-Flex resources are adaptable to different industry sectors and we have written about many of them in previous issues.

They can help make the dream of flexibility a mainstream element of any workplace and we encourage our working carers to share them with their managers.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see workplace flexibility implemented across the entire workplace?

For example, if you want to design a particular role to be more flexible, you can use the Future-Flex Tool 2. It uses a ‘work design’ mindset to step you through a process of (re)designing an individual’s job for flexibility.

About job design

Job design means designing an individual’s job to enable flexibility. This involves restructuring the parts of a particular job (e.g. tasks, duties, responsibilities, location, timing) to improve the performance and wellbeing of the organisation, the team, and individuals.

Future-Flex 2 Tool takes individual employees through six steps to re-design their job. Steps 1 to 5 can be done by employees by themselves or with a team member if this is easier.

In the final Step 6, the employee discusses their job design proposal with a trusted team member (if they have not done this already) and then their manager.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: what are your job characteristics?

Describe the main characteristics of your job. For example, your job title, key job/work outcomes, job location and timing, and the flexibility of your job, team and organisation.

Step 2: what are your main tasks, responsibilities & connections?

List your main job tasks and responsibilities. Estimate the percentage of time and energy you give to each task. Rate how important each task is to achieving your job/work outcomes.

List your main job connections. Your job connections are the people you need to connect with (have on-going relationships with) to deliver your job/work outcomes. Rate how important each connection is to achieving your job/work outcomes.

Step 3: what are the flexible parts of your job?

Identify which job tasks, responsibilities, and/or connections could be changed to be more flexible. Try to be open-minded and creative about your job and possible changes. Remember, the aim is to make changes which maintain or improve performance and wellbeing – your own and that of your team and organisation. What type of flexibility would you like (e.g. greater control of shifts, working from more than one location)? Keep this in mind to create ways to make your job tasks, responsibilities, and/or connections more flexible. See the Future-Flex Getting Creative Guide for ideas (link below).

Step 4: design your job for flexibility!  

Create your re-designed job. Use your findings from the Step 3 to summarise your re-designed job. As part of this, redefine your job’s characteristics and main tasks, responsibilities and/or connections (where relevant), and the job flexibility you propose.

Step 5: what are the opportunities and implications?

Identify the positive impacts of your proposed re-design – for yourself, your team, and your organisation (e.g. Are there any financial savings such as better productivity or reduced office space?)

Identify and address any negative impacts – for yourself, your team and your organisation (e.g. Are there any costs relating to back-filling roles or providing new equipment?)

Step 6: discuss and finalise your new flexible job design

Talk about your proposed design with a trusted team-mate. Refine your proposed design based on the feedback provided by your team-mate.

Talk about your proposed design with your immediate manager or your team (if you or your manager is keen to take a team-based approach to flexible work).

Future-Flex is a partnership initiative between DCA, the Retail Council, National Australia Bank, Allens, IBM, BAE Systems Australia and IAG, which generates practical guidance for managers, teams and individuals on how to implement and mainstream workplace flexibility through work design.

You can download a synopsis of the report here:

https://www.dca.org.au/files/file/Research/DCA%20Future%20Flex%20Synopsis%20Online%20Accessible.pdf

Natural light is best in offices

Why you should focus on workplace happinessWhy you should focus on workplace happiness

 

Natural light is the best light for your health and productivity at work but it is generally overlooked by employers.

Natural Light Office

Read more: Natural light is best in offices