Archives for category: Australia

Our lips twisted into a sardonic smirk as we arched our eyebrow in disbelief. Was there no limit to the ridiculousness that the PTB would engage in to defend admin?

It started innocuously enough. With some spare time on our hands we were asked to do a particular task, one not relished by anyone in the office. Indeed, almost studious avoided. With the universal dread we accepted it and that is where the trouble began.

Like our colleagues, we noted the procedural flaws. It is something with a bit of time (and admittedly money) could be streamlined far more efficiently. There at heart of the current dispute laid the letter.

The letter, due to legislative reasons needs to conform to particular strictures, but we pointed out that a certain paragraph shouldn’t be formatted in that manner and another needed slight amendment. A two minute job. Yes? No.

“But that is how is it supposed to be. The paragraph is supposed to be like that.”

“No, it is not. We checked (insert relevant website) and it is not supposed to be like that.”

“But that is how is formatted.”

“No, it is not. You can check the (insert relevant website) and you can also check (collaborating source) .”

“It must have been like that. It wouldn’t be like that otherwise.”

“It has never been like that…(until your stupid admin started we added silently)”.

This continued for a while, as PTB drew upon every possible defence that it was not a problem within the remit of admin.

“Fine, we have a look at it.” PTB said exasperated and wanting me out of their office.

A week later, we asked if the template had been fixed. You guessed correctly, of course it hadn’t.

“Is it fixed yet?”

We were greeted with silence.

“Why don’t you tell me where the template it is and we will fixed it.”

Again silence. Otherwise, it would be interpreted as bullying the admin, if it was to be fixed.

“There is nothing wrong with it and that is how the template is (insert relevant website)”. We were amused but not surprised how quickly they were to defend admin vigorously and their *cough* infallibility.

“No, it is not.” At this point we thought, Why are we bothering?, if you want a letter to go out indicating a deficiency in education in the organisation, not my problem.

Reluctantly, PTB looked at the websites and conceded that the template may need to change.

So, a month later, the template has not been changed as to do so would be an admission that admin was wrong. We can’t have that as it is better to appear amateur hour than upset admin.

“You didn’t read my email, did you?”  was my accusatory tone to PTB.

“We did read it!” was the defensive reply.

“Really and what? Didn’t comprehend it?”

We have always been a cynical and bitter person but with every passing year immersed in such unrelenting stupidity it is sometimes hard to bite one’s  tongue.

Admittedly, emails can get overlooked in an inbox but when there is a pattern of emails being ignored and questioning emails demanding information that has been provided days, weeks beforehand is aggravating.  Some days there is no point bothering.

 

 

 

The annual  (Australia’s education system is f*cked) hand wringing began early this summer with the news that Australia had fallen in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rankings.  The *absolute shame*that even Kazakhstan had out performed Australia brought the usual calls for more funding (um…there is this little law of diminishing returns) even though said funding had increased by 50% since 2003.

Since 2011, TIMSS shows Australia plunging from:

  • 18th to 28th on Year 4 mathematics
  • 12th to 17th for Year 8 maths
  • 12th to 17th for Year 8 science

The TIMSS results perhaps were not a surprise to the education profession or anything new. (Let’s face it, it is a cut and paste summer story).  In 2015 the idea had been floated that perhaps maths and science should be compulsory in the final years of high schools.  (And Australia should address the other two elephants in the room 1. The foundation for further science education is not laid properly in primary school and 2. Australia may need to import STEM teachers).

That maths and science has long been neglected in the education system was not revelation.  The competition we saw as we flicked through the Woolworths catalogue was.

bic

What? We recall the days when stationery competitions required a degree of skill.  Colouring-in perhaps? But scrawling your name with a particular branded pen becomes execution of a dying art???  The promoters helpful provide ‘facts’ about handwriting to fill any concern parent with fear. (Marketing 101).

 ‘63% of parents believe handwriting will be lost in 20 years time’ – Bright Futures are Written by Hand study, commissioned by BIC Australia, undertaken by Quantum Market Research. November 2015
• Almost Half of our adult population in Australia admit to having problems with literacy – Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia, 2011-2012
• 15% of children handwrite less than once a week – Bright Futures are Written by Hand study, commissioned by BIC Australia, undertaken by Quantum Market Research. November 2015
• Experts recommend at least 15 minutes of handwriting a day for students – Hanover Research (2012). The Importance of Teaching Handwriting in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Hanover Research. Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting

But it begs the question what are children been taught at school?  Doesn’t appear to be the basics of reading , writing and arithmetic. Science and Maths are not judging by the continued slide down international rankings. Swimming? That seems to have been jettisoned.  Literacy? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.  Handwriting would appear to be an extra-curricular activity now.

Why?  Because the genesis of this blog is to document the mind numbing stupidity of the work-place.  A prohibited activity if we were a public servant.

Daniel Starr,Starr v Department of Human Services [2016] FWC 1460 a front line public servant first came to the powers to be’s attention when in April 2015 he contradicted posts by the Department of Human Service’s social media unit on the online forum ­Whirlpool.

The social media unit (Flick@HumanServices) posted youth allowance claims took at least 21 days to process but could be longer than expected.

Starr (mmmdl)responded by posting the benchmark was now 42 days and claiming that by giving incorrect information, it was “doing nothing other than giving people false hope, and increasing customer traffic”.

The department then trawled mmmdl’s various comments posted over the years and built a profile which they then ran against internal HR files to determine mmmdl’s identity.   Are you following?  A poster corrects the department’s erroneous assertions and they go on a witch-hunt!!!!

Of course there were the injudicious comments which hereto had not come to the Department’s attention. In 2012, Starr described appointments with long-term social security benefit recipients as “an appointment for the ­spastics and junkies.” It is Centrelink…

Starr was sacked as he breached the Code of Conduct (not for the post that first caught the Department’s attention) but the Fair Work Commission stated the Department had overstepped and should he should be re-instated.

This case is important  as it makes a distinction between senior and lower level public servants, and spells out how admin(front-line) workers are unlikely to derail government policy, no matter how critical they are online.

The Vice Commissioner found: I reject completely the proposition requiring all members of the APS to be respectful at all times outside of working hours, including in the expression of their attitude to the government of the day. It would require express and absolutely unambiguous language in the statute to justify the conclusion that such a gross intrusion into the non-working lives and rights of public servants was intended.’

It can be argued that APS Code of Conduct is being used to silenced Government critics but where does a public servant’s private life boundary begin?  Should you be sacked for something that was posted years ago?  Where does it leave employees in the private sector?

The Department intends to appeal the Starr decision to the full bench.

 

Sources:

#86 (08.04.2016) Unfair Dismissal: Social Media Posts No Grounds for Dismissal

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/the-hunt-how-the-public-service-tracks-down-internal-critics-20160404-gnxjqv.html

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/silencing-public-servants/7367576#transcript

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/centrelink-staffer-who-called-clients-spastics-reinstated/news-story/b0dc565d93a9c33b34d6cc0f9efd6048

 

 

So, Good Morning
Good Morning
Sun beams will soon smile through
Good Morning
Good Morning to you and you and you and you (From Singing in the Rain)

Oh dear, it is now official. Failing to greet your colleagues with “Good Morning” and unfriending them on Facebook is a form of bullying.

Lifting straight from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Rachael Roberts was a real estate agent with 10 years’ industry experience. Since November 2012, she has been working at Tasmanian real estate agency VIEW Launceston.

Ms Roberts went to the Fair Work Commission alleging she had been bullied by her employer, mainly in her interactions with Lisa Bird, the sales administrator and the wife of the agency’s principal.

Ms Roberts said when she complained to the agency principal James Bird that she was not getting a fair representation of her properties displayed in the front window of the agency, Mrs Bird called a meeting and accused her of being a “naughty little school girl running to the teacher”.

Later that day, Ms Roberts found that Mrs Bird had deleted her as a Facebook friend.

The tribunal found unfriending her on Facebook showed a “lack of emotional maturity” and was “indicative of unreasonable behaviour”.

And …

The tribunal also found that Mrs Bird acted unreasonably when she did not acknowledge Ms Roberts in the morning and delivered photocopying and printing to other employees but not Ms Roberts.

On another occasion, Ms Roberts asked Mrs Bird to carry out a rental appraisal urgently. However, Mrs Bird sent the appraisal by letter instead of via email, which was the normal procedure.

Moral of the story:

  1.  Don’t friend anyone from work on Facebook (particularly the boss’s wife).
  2. If you have a problem with someone don’t trust them to carry out a task which is urgent.

Happy New Year! Don’t you love the smell of crayons? The endless colours (apparently Crayola has 133 colours). On special in January as the Back to School Sales commence and the endless articles about an education system in crisis appear in the media.

Shock, horror! The study that seems to have captured the public imagination is Brian Moon’s 2014 enquiry published in the Australian Journal of Teacher Education.  The  study concluded ‘Many undergraduate students appear to have literacy problems so fundamental that remediation in the late stages of their degree program cannot hope to overcome a lifetime of poor literacy performance. It seems that problem can only be addressed in future by setting and applying appropriate admission standards and intervening much sooner in the students’ academic careers.’

Really?  Is this such a surprise?  It has long been known that the decision made in the 1970s to omit grammar from the curriculum had a devastating impact but perhaps more disturbing were the revelations concerning the limited vocabulary exhibited by the subjects.  Sixty five percent failed to score above 50% in the spelling test administered :

Easier         Harder
argument amateur
beginning conscience
coronary exaggerate
definite hypocrisy
maintenance miscellaneous
principal/principle parallel
resistant rhythm
sentence supersede

The second task was a test of vocabulary and morphological knowledge, including the ability to state word meanings and to identify word elements such as roots and affixes.

General vocabulary Professional vocabulary
agrarian cognition
candid draconian
hyperbole heterogeneous
orthodox homogeneous
peninsula pedagogy
malign profession
sanguine variance

(Yep, didn’t need a study to know that the results on the -ological would be dismal as this is not taught at school ).

And if you are curious about some of the definitions proffered check it out here.

Unless there is a significant cultural change whereby a staunch anti-intellectualism is no longer fervently embraced then in twenty years time there still will be a collective gasp of horror from the chattering classes when such a study is replicated.


Moon, B. (2014). The Literacy Skills of Secondary Teaching Undergraduates: Results of Diagnostic Testing and a Discussion of Findings. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(12)

Or so Teen Talk Barbie uttered in 1992. Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Talk about self-fulling prophecy.  Fast-forward twenty-two years and it seems that Barbie is still struggling with algorithms but don’t worry (the very male) Steven and Brian will help her out.

Where would the twenty-four hour news cycle be without the fauxrage of social media?  For without it, ‘Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer’ may have still languished and the wider world ignorant of such gems as “I’m only creating the design ideas. I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!”

Empowerment?  I think not.  Mattel’s fault? Perhaps, not?

Two words:  Unconscious bias. This book reflects no more than the greater trust society places in a man’s technical ability. From the playground where girls rate their mathematical ability lower than their male counterparts to the workforce where female graduates tend to be placed more often  in client facing roles whereas male graduates are more likely to be given the opportunity to develop their technical and analytic skills.  Come crunch time, the female cannot compete as the hard skills have not been developed.

So back to Barbie and her moribund IT career.  This book did not just appear.  It is a product of a cynical marketing department.  It would have been test marketed.  Approved by corporate.  Signed off by someone at Random House. Not one person questioned Barbie’s technical skills (or lack thereof)  before a viral rant? In other words, we are back in 1992 where a corporate culture not only does not put faith in a female’s technical ability but does not believe that it exists in the first place.  That should be the story, not a narrative about a doll that can’t code.