An open door

Graeme Stuart in his new officeI’ve recently moved into a new office. Its north-facing windows look over bushland and we’re serenaded by birds through the day. I also have a desk that I can use either sitting or standing – so much better than sitting at a desk all day. The down-side is that we (four of us) are separated from the rest of the Family Action Centre. We’re not far away but are in a building with a number of University services. One thing I’ve found interesting is the difference an open door makes. Continue reading

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Song for Sunday – Shine

You can give your life
You can lose your soul
You can bang your head or you can drown in a hole
Nothing lasts forever, but, you can try
Look around you,
Everyone you see, everyone you know is gonna (Shine) Shine

If you bear with me, there is a connection between today’s Song for Sunday and the strengths-based focus of the weekend reading.

A few years ago I heard an interview with Vanessa Amorosi in which she spoke about Shine. It was written for an old school friend who committed suicide and the original lyrics were “Everyone you see, everyone you know is gonna die.” Mark Holden (another Australian singer/songwriter) suggested they change “die” to “shine” and in doing helped create a very different song. Amorosi is convinced it created a much better song, and the success of the song suggests she is right.

I probably don’t need to labour the connection with a strengths-based approach: by shifting the focus, the song changed from a bleak, depressing song to a positive, uplifting anthem that Amorosi performed at the opening of the 2000 Paralympics.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to watch some previous songs for Sunday:

  1. All the songs
  2. “Songs from the Wood” by Jethro Tull
  3. “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins
  4. “Satellite” by Lena
  5. “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor (Priscilla Queen of the Desert version)
  6. John Lennon’s “Image” by Playing for Change
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Some weekend reading – strengths-based practice

My most popular post, is on strengths-based practice and the strengths perspective so this weeks collections of readings are about strengths-based approaches to working with individuals and families.

Strengths-based practices: The evidence. A discussion paper by Natalie Scerra from UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families – Scerra provides an overview of research on strengths-based practice. Continue reading

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Gayby Baby – Opponents kick own goal

A number of schools around Australia are planning to screen Gayby Baby today as part of Wear it Purple day (supporting tolerance of acceptance of sexual diversity). Gayby Baby follows four people (aged 10-12) whose parent’s happen to be gay.

Perhaps not surprisingly when the Daily Telegraph made some sensationalist claims on their front page about the film being shown at Burwood Girls High School (where the filmmaker used to go to school), it become a hot issue. Despite the school not having received any complaints from parents (according to the Department of Education), the debate was intensified when the NSW Minister for Education banned the film from being shown during school time. Schools were told that a screening could only be considered if “it is an integral part of the planned curriculum for an age-appropriate year group”. Continue reading

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Song for Sunday – When I grow up (from Matilda)

I’m not sure if it makes us bad parents, but Jasmine and Alexa have been into Tim Minchin for many years. When we heard, in 2011, he had written the lyrics and music for a musical based on “Matilda” by Roald Dahl (an author they loved) we promised we would take them. Tickets eventually went on sale late last year in time for Christmas presents, and last night we finally fulfilled our promise.  Alexa has been waiting nearly 1/3 of her life!

It was a wonderful night and Matilda deserves all its awards and accolades.

Just because I find myself in this story,
It doesn’t mean that everything is written for me.
If I think the ending is fixed already,
I might as well be saying
I think that it’s OK!

And that’s not right!

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to watch some previous songs for Sunday:

  1. All the songs
  2. “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins
  3. “Teach your children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,
  4. “Luka” by Suzanne Vega
  5. “Don’t pay the ferryman” by Chris De Burgh
  6. “Child in Time” by Deep Purple (and a version by Blackmore’s Night)
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Some weekend reading – same-sex parents

Kay Faust, a supporter of traditional marriage from the USA, is currently in Australia speaking against marriage equality. When I watched her on Q and A, I was unconvinced by her logic. I agree with some of her positions, e.g., that children often suffer when parent separate, but she seems to go on to argue that gay relationships are unstable, transient and not focussed on kids, and she ignores the fact that some heterosexual relationships can be quite destructive for the children involved. I do not see evidence to support these claims.

This week’s readings include a FactCheck on some of her claims and articles which address some of the issues she raises.

FactCheck Q&A: was Katy Faust correct on same-sex family studies and kids’ rights? by Simon Crouch via the Conversation – Crouch critiques some of Faust’s claims and considers the reliability of some of her sources. Continue reading

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Young Aboriginal fathers talk about being dads

Colleagues of mine (Craig Hammond, Charlie Faulkner and Richard Fletcher) have been interviewing young Aboriginal fathers from Newcastle, Moree and Tamworth about being dads. They have produced four short videos as part of Stayin’ On Track.

I originally embedded all four videos in the post, but they asked me just to include the short promo one. You can watch all of them at Stayin’ On Track web site.

They now hope to expand their website for young Aboriginal fathers with info and support. There aren’t many chances to hear from young dads, let along young Aboriginal dads, so it’s a great initiative.  These videos continue the work of Craig in creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers.

The reason they asked me to remove the other three videos is that as part of the research they are asking people where they are from (postcode or country) before they watch the video.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Being an Aboriginal father in prison
  2. Workshops for Aboriginal fathers in prison – challenges
  3. Workshop for Aboriginal fathers in prison – what worked
  4. Workshop for Aboriginal fathers in prison – what we learnt
  5. Creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers
  6. A great 1 minute video of fathers and their kids
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Song for Sunday – Songs from the Wood

Thursday was Global Overshoot Day and I’m keeping with the environmental theme for this week’s song. It’s actually quite hard to find good songs which talk about the looking up the environment. I’ve decided to go with  the title track from Jethro Tull’s “Songs from the Wood” released in 1977.

Let me bring you songs from the wood:
to make you feel much better than you could know.
Dust you down from tip to toe.
Show you how the garden grows.
Hold you steady as you go.

I still love Jethro Tull (to my partner’s disappointment!) and and we’ve been listening to a bit of them recently because Jasmine has just started working on flutter tonguing, playing split tones and vocalising on the flute (all of which Ian Anderson, the flautist, is renowned for).

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to watch some previous songs for Sunday:

  1. All the songs
  2. “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins
  3. “Teach your children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,
  4. “Don’t pay the ferryman” by Chris De Burgh
  5. John Lennon’s “Image” by Playing for Change
  6. “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
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Some weekend reading – Global Overshoot Day

(Photo: Evan Leeson)

(Photo: Evan Leeson)

Yesterday was Global Overshoot Day: the day on which the world’s annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas can provide (e.g., food, wood, natural fibres and carbon dioxide absorption) exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. So, not surprisingly, this week’s articles focus on environmental sustainability.

We’ve consumed more than the earth can produce this year from National Geographic –an overview of global overshoot day including historical data (e.g., in 1970 Global Overshoot Day was 23 December and in 2000 it was 4 October). Continue reading

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How many blog views per day?

Number of blog views per day

Number of blog views per day

I sometimes wonder how many views per day other bloggers receive. I know I should be writing for myself; I know that just because somebody “views” my blog it doesn’t mean they read anything; and I know that blogging isn’t a popularity context. But I do follow the number of views I receive a day with interest and I do wonder how similar bloggers compare.

I started playing with a blog in late 2010 and started this blog on WordPress in February 2011. Its readership has slowly been increasing. In 2011 I averaged 14 views/day with small increase in 2012 to 23 views/day. At this stage I decided that unless it increased to at least 50 views per day, I was going to call it a day. I’m still going because the following year (2013) I averaged 103 views/day and last year it grew to 217 views/day. So far in 2015 it’s averaged 274 views/day.

Compared to many blogs it’s pretty small and I know there are many bloggers out there (including other academic bloggers) with a much wider readership. An economics professor at the University of Newcastle gets tens of thousands of views on a typical day ( and I often see other bloggers who seem to grow a loyal and engaged readership quite quickly. Just because there are much more popular blogs out there, doesn’t mean I’m feeling down. Essentially I’m pretty happy with how it’s going although I do confess to hoping it will keep increasing. I would love to be up around 500 views by the end of next year and eventually make it to 1000 views per day.

While it would be nice to increase the readership, I don’t want to do it by changing my focus. I’m happy to experiment with my writing style and some of the content, but still want to keep it well-researched and referenced. It isn’t a personal blog about my life; it’s a blog about families, community engagement and environmental sustainability.

Most of my views are the result of internet searches rather than regular readers; which I suspect is largely due to the nature of the blog. Yesterday the 500th person subscribed to the blog (thanks Les!) and nearly that number again “follow” it via twitter or facebook. I know there are some loyal readers (thanks!) and a few universities refer students to particular blog posts but a bit over half (55%) of the views during the past year have been from internet search engines. I actually suspect quite a lot of my readers are students, because the number of views per day drop significantly during semester breaks in Australia and the USA.

If you are a blogger, I’d love to hear how many views you receive a day and what you are aiming for.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Blogging as an academic
  2. Blogging – not just a popularity contest
  3. Why I blog
  4. Saturday quote (and why it will be the last regular one)
  5. Teaching community engagement to students from 29 disciplines
  6. Online community engagement – from tools to strategy
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