Thursday, March 24, 2016

Campaigns and fundraisers

    • In my paper about how volunteering is propping up a broken system I am also writing about fundraisers and campaigns. There are lots of things I don’t understand.
    I see lots of fundraisers that don’t account for all costs: time, health, environment. I see fundraisers where the people who make the stuff are the people who buy the stuff. That’s not efficient. I see people wearing rubber wrist bands that will take hundreds of years to degrade. I see people buying plastic stuff that will probably end up in the ocean. I see people sending Christmas boxes to children in the Pacific Islands, who then have to live with the wrapping and plastic on their island or in the ocean. I see cupcakes and donuts. A teacher I know was selling chocolates to raise money for a children’s hospital. At one school the students ran a campaign taking enviro-selfies. They declared it a success because they had 300 likes on Instagram. It made zero impact on the environment.

    I see the RSPCA gives a tick to dead animal products.

    I see people shaving their head for the Leukaemia Foundation. A girlfriend in Melbourne told me she was planning to do it. I asked her not to.
    • I don't like the 'Shave for a Cause' campaign. There are a few reasons why. I understand that people want to raise money and to make cancer patients feel less alone, but shaving your head isn't a great way to go about it. At a school I was working at the students were doing it, and everyone was clapping and cheering, and a teacher who had just recovered from breast cancer was in the staff room sobbing. I couldn't participate. When you shave your head you don't lose your eyebrows and eyelashes. That's the weirder part than having a bald head. When you shave your head your hair grows back soft and normal. After chemo your hair grows back different and weird. My hair is very different now from what it was. It is coarse and weird. I had my head shaved because the hair on my head had died and was coming out in clumps. It was confronting and distressing. My main concern was hiding it from my kids. Having non-cancer patients walking around with bald heads makes it harder to identify the real patients (unless I'm at hospital). I don't know if people I meet have a shared experience or not. Helen Razer calls it 'cancer cosplay', and she's right. Traditionally shaving one's head symbolises a loss - mourning or a loss of identity - it reminds me of entering the army or a concentration camp - a way of stripping people of their individuality. It's punitive. That’s why patients who have chemotherapy (which makes you sick - it’s poison) feel the loss of their hair. Because I’ve had cancer treatment I’ll never be the same again. I’m on medication. My bone density is weakened. I take supplements. I need to stay out of the sun for the rest of my life. I’m always worried about relapsing. I understand people might not have thought of these things before, but it isn’t an act of solidarity. When I saw a child at my daughter’s primary school get his head shaven at school, I cried.

    • Here’s another one: the White Ribbon Campaign. 
    • Women have been telling men, forever, to stop hitting women. Men get the idea to say the same thing (because everybody knows that no-one listens to women). They name the campaign. They have ambassadors and advocates (some of whom have a record of violence against women). They buy billboards. They sell white ribbons. They are heroes. (Men who speak out about women's rights can even be Australian of the Year!)
    • What are they doing? Do they provide funding for abused women? Help the campaign to provide women’s refuges? Organise counselling for violent men? Campaign against sexist advertising, the porn industry, gender equality in power positions on boards or in government, change the way violence against women is reported in the media? No. They are asking men to take an oath. They say 156,636 people have taken their oath and their reach is growing. That’s their aim and their product (although, you could argue their product is themselves).   
    • Now, lets follow the money.
    • According to their  professional, corporate looking website, their funds come from donations, merchandise, events, partners and philanthropic organisations, and receive 10% government funding. Their revenue in 2013/2014 was $2,697,261. They aren’t funding anything that helps women in a practical way, so what is their money spent on? Paying men to run their events and campaigns and show what great guys they are for telling men to stop hitting women. A swanky website doesn’t pay for itself. It is very corporate looking, with a mission statement and graphics. The money goes to paying themselves. They are a not for profit organisation.

    Meanwhile I see the Coalition for Women's Refuges, made up of women who have worked in women's refuges and feminist groups for years or decades, campaign for the restoration of safe places for women and children to go when abused, working for free with no money, no website, no corporate sponsorship, no big media campaign. Why is that?

    I see welfare programs that were once run by government agencies now run by church based groups. The church based groups can afford to deliver services more cheaply because they use volunteer labour. They can access more volunteer labour by funnelling people into that labour through their programs. These groups own property, pay no tax, accept tax deductible donations, and, one could argue, have a vested interest in keeping people poor and uneducated in order to prop up their own institutions. These institutions have systematically abused children and covered it up. They are not ethical.

    You can see what I mean by fundraisers and campaigns being inefficient, damaging, or ineffective. They are propping up broken systems. The way to fix the broken systems is to campaign for proper use of taxpayers’ money. Children's hospitals should be funded. Animals should be protected. Victims of domestic violence should have safe refuge. Australia should give aid internationally. Guess which countries do these things rather than run stupid, time wasting campaigns and fundraisers? Nordic countries.

  • So, here's my suggestions. Whenever we are asked to donate or fund-raise or volunteer, say this: No, but I will send an email to a politician asking that your program be funded properly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mother advocacy 2016


We have two events planned for Mamapalooza this year: a film showing and a comedy night.

You are invited to our Mamapalooza Film Showing
WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? by film maker Pamela Tanner Boll.
This academy award winning documentary features five fierce women who refuse to choose between mothering and work. Through their lives we explore some of the most problematic intersections of our time: mothering and creativity, partnering and independence, economics and art.
Where: The Women's Library, 8/10 Brown St. Newtown
When: Saturday 14th May, 2pm to 5pm
Discussion and refreshments after the film.
Please invite your friends.
Part of the Mamapalooza Festival.
Other events include: Mamapalooza Stand-Up 
and Mamapalooza Music Night  Celebrating Mothers in the Arts


A spectacular night of hilarious mama-comedy like you've never seen before!
Lou Lou Pollard - Host
Amanda Gray
Dolores Lorette
Christina Van Look
Sallie J Don
Frida Deguise

Location Tap Gallery 1/259 Riley Street Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia
$20 at the door.
LOU LOU POLLARD - She’s wowed audiences at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Sydney Comedy Festival & Adelaide Fringe as well as supporting Arj Barker & appearing on TV shows including Playschool and the Today Show.
AMANDA GRAY has a relentless assault that’s delivered with a deadpan, straight-faced style, packing a huge armoury of laughs. No topic is sacred, no taboo untouchable.
DOLORES is sharp, blunt and a quick witted delight. With stage presence galore, Dolores has even been described by those in the industry as ..too Funny!
"A very funny lady" - The Funny Tonne.
With support act by Ana Key and the Bra Girls! 

The AMIRICI conference is on in Melbourne in July. I am delivering a paper arguing that volunteering is propping up broken systems and we shouldn’t have to fundraise. It includes reference to this:

Again, if you have any ideas to share, that would be welcome.

Also, this blog is referenced in a book being published in the UK. Oh, and I was escorted from the Hilton whilst protesting to save women’s refuges.

Autumn equinox 2016

It’s Equinox break in Term 1, 2016, and what’s happening? It's been a while, so I have sub-headings.


Well, I have been applying for jobs.

Most of the jobs have been part time or temporary at Catholic schools. The only jobs advertised within the Department of Education (my natural home, you would think) are rural or regional. My interview with the Department is a month away.

I can't tell you how sick I am of reading the word 'passionate'.

I have registered to do casual work and thought that once everything was set to ‘go’ that I would be getting a call each morning and running out the door to go wherever needed. But no. I have been getting up each morning and there have been no calls. Well, I’ve had two calls, but they were in the afternoons, and I didn’t see them in time to respond. So, I’ve probably fallen off those lists. (There are 40,000 casual teachers in NSW.) A bit sad, really.

I’ve been doing professional development. I’ve been to two English Teachers’ professional development days, which I’ve paid for myself. I really am quite capable of doing the job my peers are currently doing. I’m doing a course on The State of Education in Australia, in which we have guest speakers who are politicians or professors. The group is small so we have good access to knowledgeable people and can ask questions. I did training to be an adjudicator of debating. What more could I do?

I have two students I tutor, which I enjoy, and I’m happy to take on more students. I put in a lot of preparation for my students. I’ve approached the coaching colleges, but they want teachers with three years experience.

I’m also applying for non-teaching jobs. I’m overqualified for these jobs but haven’t got an interview yet.

So I’m looking at plans B, C, D, E, and F.

I’m writing two books and preparing sessions I can present at schools (even though I don’t like the privatisation of education that is happening, little by little, in public schools, but what else can I do?)

I’m thinking I’ll end up patching together some sort of part time and piecemeal work.

I’m open to any suggestions. However, I'm not prepared to pretend to be a Christian when I'm not. (There is lots of casual work available in Catholic primary schools, but I would need a priest or minister to endorse me to be able to work in that system. It's not going to happen.)

Wish me luck!


The family is fine. The two teenagers are working at fast food outlets. One is a vegetarian and one is vegan - we are all compromised in one way or another. We are now a vegetarian household. The youngest still wants to eat meat, and is visiting friends and neighbours more regularly at mealtimes. She says she wants to marry a butcher. I’ve been telling friends she will work for meat.

We’re thinking about how to rearrange the house to be more functional for older children. Does anyone want a free piano?

The youngest is unhappy at school, and truly, I would homeschool her if we could forego any potential earnings.

It is coming up to a year since my mother died. We have celebrated the first Christmas without her, her birthday, now Easter, soon Mothers’ Day. Over the past few years I have been kind of steeling myself for when she goes. I’m not sure it helped. I’ve been more functional than I was when my sister died, but I can’t talk about it anymore than this.


As I think I’ve already said, since the stem cell transplant I find it a bit difficult to know when I’m really sick. I don’t know if I should expect to ever be really energetic again, so I just plow on. It’s hard to know what is caused by side effects of the medication and what is simply ageing.

It may be that there is never anything wrong with me that can’t be helped with exercise. I do know that I’m not as strong or flexible as I once was, so I can work on that.

The long, hot summer seemed endless. It was uncomfortably hot. I had a solstice party, which I’ll continue to do, but it seems a long time ago. I’m relieved it’s autumn.