Tassie’s brain haemorrhage

Tassie’s brain haemorrhage

For many, university represent freedom – intellectually, socially and economically. Tertiary education can stretch our horizons, taking us to places beyond. For Tasmanians, it seems, University often takes you off the island.

This is beyond a brain drain.
In 2013, 14% of all Australian university applications were for an interstate or international university. Tasmanians, however, appeared decisively keener to move, with 43% of their applications being for universities beyond their borders.

Tassie Interstate Uni Applications 1

Tasmanians were also more likely to go through with their intentions. While interstate offers are only accepted 40% of time (Australia wide), Tasmanians’ acceptance rate of 62% is by far the highest of all states.

Tassie Interstate Uni Offers1

The end result: 24% of Tasmanians heading off to university start by boarding a boat (or plane). In comparison, 7% of non-Tasmanians leave their state to attend university.

Tassie Interstate Uni moves 1

Maybe it’s time for the University of Tasmania to revamp their advertising campaign.


Alternative music drowns out the call for change

Alternative music drowns out the call for change

Like many of my generation, I have fabulous memories of Australia Day from my teenage and Uni years.  In fact, I used to claim Australia Day to be my favourite public holiday.

This is in no small part for two reasons:

Since the early 90s, Triple J has been galvanising Australia Day’s place in contemporary culture, providing the youth with strong bonds and fond memories. In fact, Triple J has helped Australia Day seem like the most inclusive day of all: the day in which all it takes to have access to the country’s best musical festival is a radio; and a mobile to have a say.

The day plays perfectly to all Australian clichés: sun, beer, music, mates, and backyard BBQs.

All while turning a blind eye to what the day represents.

For over 20 years, Triple J has been doing the community a disservice. Perhaps unwittingly so, but these positive connotations of the 26th January are distancing an increasingly large section of the community (over 2 million in 2014¹) from recognising the terrible past it represents, and the symbolic weight it still holds for many today.

The devastation of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, which begun with the arrival of the British colonisers on the 26th January 1788, was so severe that roughly 10 times more Indigenous people died by Australian Federation than all Australian casualties in WWI².

Triple J is a wonderful radio station which supports youth and independent music across the community. They support initiatives such as mentoring and unearthing Indigenous artists, as well as the National Indigenous Music Awards. This year the Hottest 100 is also partnering with AIME to “help close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian students”³.

So, this all begs the question: why do they continue to host their biggest day of the year on a day which commemorates the beginning of a massacre, dispossession, and centuries of legislated racial discrimination which almost destroyed the ‘oldest living cultural history in the world’4?

While it might be difficult to move Australia Day for now, it may help if we stop drowning out the calls for change with the coolest karaoke party ever.

Does the Hottest 100 even need to be on a public holiday?  Is the Hottest 100 Day not enough of a celebration?

Sure, it’d be great to still have it when it’s hot… so how about the third Saturday of January? It even ensures you get an extra day to recover before going back to work!

Let 2016 be the last Triple J Hottest 100 held on the 26th January.

Let 2017’s Hottest 100 be a day we can all celebrate!

#letsmovehottest100day #hottest100


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_J_Hottest_100

[2] https://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/ww1/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indigenous_Australians

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/hottest100/15/donate/

[4] http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-indigenous-cultural-heritage

No cause for celebration

No cause for celebration

With the end of year festivities behind us, those of us fortunate enough to have a job have one thing on our minds… the next public holiday.

Unfortunately our next public holiday is one which comes with mixed feelings. Sure, it’s a day off in the Australian Summer, perfectly timed to enjoy the world’s biggest music democracy, but it is also a reminder that Australia (like many countries) has not faced up to its horrific past.

Most of the 197 countries with a recognised ‘national day’ on Wikipedia¹ celebrate one of the following categories:

  • 143 – Independence from a foreign oppressor or colonial power
  • 22 – Drastic change of governance (e.g. a revolution, becoming a communist nation, or a republic), usually towards its current form
  • 13 – Royalty (e.g. Queen’s birthday, Coronation day)
  • 9 – Unification from previously separate nations, or a separation from a previous group
  • 4 – a religious occasion

Four countries chose a different cause for celebration:

  • Portugal commemorates the death of a famous poet, Luís de Camões (best national day ever!)
  • Spain remembers having colonised an entire continent
  • New Zealand celebrates the Treaty of Waitangi, between the British Crown and Māori chiefs; and
  • 1 country celebrates the day on which a foreign colonial power invaded its land, and started a devastation which led to the death of an estimated 90% of its native population.

Australia – the only country in the world which celebrates having been invaded/ colonised – the day in which another nation’s flag was raised on its soil, (the British Flag in Sydney Cove).

Many momentous occasions have taken place since Australia gained independence in 1901². The combination of these has led to what many of us enjoy today.

Choosing the perfect day will no doubt be a difficult decision. But avoiding one of the worst should be a no-brainer.

Celebrating the beginning of a massacre, dispossession, and centuries of legislated racial discrimination which almost destroyed the ‘oldest living cultural history in the world’³ shows an absolute lack of empathy for humanity, and seems entirely at odds with what one might expect are commonly held beliefs of “modern Australians”.

The devastation of Australia’s first peoples was so severe that over six times more Indigenous people died by Australian Federation than all Australian war casualties in all wars, ever (4).

The Indigenous population is only now reaching pre-colonisation numbers, over two centuries on (5).

Recognising that colonialists were not the national heroes we once painted them to be is not a novel idea. Countries across the American continent (6) have long been moving away from celebrating Columbus Day, which marked Spanish colonisation. Instead focusing on the impact colonisation had on indigenous peoples across the continent, and the work needed to mend interactions.

The 26th January is not a day for BBQs, beers, and country-wide sing-alongs to the year’s best music.

It’s a day of mourning.

Perhaps a day to acknowledge how far we’ve come, and reflect on how far we’ve got to go.




[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Day

[2] http://www.australia.gov.au/about-government/how-government-works/federation

[3] http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-indigenous-cultural-heritage

[4] https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/war_casualties/ – All war casualties =  102,815. Indigenous casualties is estimated by the loss of 90% of commonly agreed estimate of 750,000 people pre-invasion

[5] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3238.0.55.001 compared to pre-colonisation estimates

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbus_Day

From KFC to GFC

From KFC to GFC

It seems you can’t turn your head these days without having an eye poked out by a fried chicken wing.

In the land of foodie-fashion, Melbourne (Australia), fried chicken is running amok. From the eastern KFC variety (Korean Fried Chicken), to American ‘Southern-style’, our feathered friends seem to be cornering the market. And these are only the latest additions to our growing consumption previously satiated by parmas and charcoal chicken.

However, it seems the chicken proliferation is not a new phenomenon, nor is it limited to Melbourne.

Chickens have long been the most populous farmed animal, and their growth in the 20th century has put them in a league of their own. Over the past 50 years the world chicken population has increased 5-fold. It is currently estimated at 21 billion.

Not all chicken farms are growing equally.
Whilst the United States once dominated chicken production, accounting for as many as 1 in 3 chickens killed in the early 1960s, China and Brazil have quickly caught up. China has in fact overtaken the US since 2012, with over 9 billion chickens roaming at any one time.

Whilst these three countries account for around 40% of all chicken production, many other countries continue to increase their production.

That’s a heck of a lot of KFC, chicken biryani, chicken schnitzels, and chicken suffering.



Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations Statistics Division
World population history

You son of a migrant!

You son of a migrant!

Over the course of the 20th century Australia experienced a remarkable increase in high school graduation rates.  This has been relatively stable for almost two decades at 74%, but is it evenly spread across the community?


One interesting variable impacting education attainment is immigration status.  It is not surprising that when designing an obstacle course for foreigners to jump through in order to be granted visas, the immigration department would include an education hoop.  As such, the fact that migrants have higher rates of high-school completion than the local variety is to be expected.
The extent of this effect is somewhat dependant on which corner of the globe the migrants arrive from, but all regions result in higher rates than those born in Australia*.
The data herein refers to people aged 20 to 29, to focus on the more current situation, while also reducing the impact of the change over time while also being mindful the rates have been stable since the mid 1990s.
* Regions grouped by the Standard Australian Classification of Countries( SACC)2011: http://abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/1269.0
Interestingly, however, this effect endures beyond the first generation.  According to Census 2011 data, people born in Australia to two migrant parents are 18% more likely to complete high school than Australians with non-migrant parents.  Those with one migrant parent are 8% more likely (this appears to be the case regardless of whether the migrant is the mother or father).
Unfortunately the Census does not provide information beyond the previous generation, so we can’t (from this source) examine how long the migrancy influence is felt for.  
Come November, data on tertiary education will become available, allowing for much greater analysis of such topics. More to come.
All data presented in this post was sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 Census: http://abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/Census?opendocument#from-banner=GT



After a recent spate of births and pregnancy announcements on my facebook feed, it seemed Australians were finally heeding the words “one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country” (Costello dixit).
This should not surprise me as the majority of my friends are in their birth-giving prime (perhaps not biologically, but at least numerically). In fact, their age distribution closely mirrors Australia’s fertility rate curve1.

What is surprising is how far behind the national average my friends are. Only 29% of my female friends aged 30-342 have reproduced. This is less than half the national average for the same cohort (62%)3 . By my age, 47% of Australian women have had at least 2 kids! Whilst my facebook friends in their late 30s (35-39) do some catching up, they still fall way behind their national quota (63% vs. 79%). If I thought my world was being overran by babies, I can’t imagine what the average early-30s-Australian’s Facebook page looks like!

I always thought my friends were special, and at least on this topic it seems to be the case, but I suspect the effect is mostly one of delayed production, rather than a total boycott. This will probably be exacerbated by the rapid growth in the fertility of over 35s.

While the rate falls away after 40, with less than 1% of women in Australia giving birth past 42 in 2010, the fertility rate of 35 year olds has doubled since 1989. Moreover, the rate for 40-year-olds has more than tripled in the same period.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised when infants completely take over my feed in the coming years.

1: Births, Australia, 2010 – http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3301.0
2: Friends grouped in 5-year brackets (mostly for confidentiality reasons… and lack of exact age information)
3: Australian Census of Population and Housing, 2011.