Lost in the Field

Happy new year! Since my last update, work became frenetic, as my projects moved rapidly. I lost myself in the land of fieldwork and endless reporting of results. Things ramped up in the lead up to our talk at the Institute of Public Administration Australia, on 6 August. I presented on two trials: increasing apprenticeship course completions, and encouraging trainee teachers to complete their final placements in rural and remote regions. Both these projects are now wrapped up and scaled across the state.

Over the past couple of months, I had been working with a colleague who is blind, on behavioural interventions to support the career progression of people with disability. Their expertise and lived experience was invaluable, as we swiftly moved from scoping the literature to completing our fieldwork. I’ve never before completed such a high volume of research, and written up the results, in such a compressed timeframe. We interviewed 50 people one-on-one as well as in focus groups. The data are fascinating; our participants were insightful and giving. We aim to publish our initial recommendations in the coming months, so fingers crossed this moves ahead.

I presented our early findings on our disability project to an internal policy audience on 3 December, on the International Day for People with Disability.

Outside of my paid work, my research on the sociology of gender has been translated into Spanish by the Association of Transgender and Intersex People of Catalonia. I’ve also just given permission for another one of my articles to be translated into Italian under Creative Commons (open access to all), so watch this space!

As the year wound up to a close, like most Australians, I’ve been deep in reflection about poor leadership on climate action and the bushfires currently engulfing the country.  Fire chiefs called on emergency planning in April, requesting that the federal government act on climate change preparedness, half a year ahead of bushfire season. These calls went unheeded. Instead, the nation has been watching with despair as four million hectares of Australian lands have been obliterated by bushfires, exacerbated by climate change. That’s the equivalent size of entire countries in Europe being incinerated. For comparison, though not to dilute the magnitude of other devastation, the 2019 Amazon fires burned 900,000 hectares, and the 2018 fires in California burned 1.8 million hectares.

We bear witness as Aboriginal communities observe their emergency plan on their ancestral lands, while elderly and sick people have no choice but to stay and hope for the best. We remain cognisant of them and other regional communities who have become displaced. As they run out of water and basic amenities. As half a billion animals and other trees and wildlife burn to oblivion. This includes 30% of koalas in New South Wales, along with hundreds of other species and plants, like the Western ground parrot in Western Australia, and the dunnart on Kangaroo Island. Mogo Zoo keepers are sheltering animals in their own homes, as other businesses burned.

We continue to rely on the unpaid labour of volunteers (and unemployed volunteers are denied social welfare reprieve); community members who have been battling blazes for four months, exhausted, and under-resourced.

Sign this petition to ask the Prime Minister to declare a climate emergency, which will help to better coordinate funds and planning.

Download the Fires Near Me and Live Traffic NSW apps to stay informed about the dangers, as bushfires are creating erratic weather events.

Stay safe. In the year head, let’s stay vocal about climate change and keep fighting for social justice for marginalised, isolated and other vulnerable communities.