The fairytale continues… Part 2 Under the Christmas Tree

It was three days before Christmas and the mice were busy. Having slipped through the encounter with the Ghost of Things Past, Ebenezer Morrison was feeling rather smug. Presents were tossed aside as Ebenezer crawled about under the party xmasxmas tree tree. He picked up one after the other, shook it, read the card and threw it over his shoulder. He searched and searched – nothing from Tony.  Peta, Jo, Julie – the pile of presents behind him grew and grew. Finally he found it and It was huge!  Wrapping paper shredded as pulled the package apart. He oohed and aahed – the SS, oops I mean social services!  Now he could dream some more – slashing, burning, inflicting misery – the possibilities were endless. “Thanks Tone my mate – wonderful pressie! I won’t let you down”

*Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental. No mice were harmed in the writing of this fairy tale.


An Australian Christmas Carol – A badly written, reconstituted moral tale – Part 1

Mr Ebenezer Morrison lay his head on the pillow.

“I did good today real good. I won’t be given moral lectures by anyone…but I got ‘em… oh yes … Now I can send those illegals back whenever I like. They will never be Australian”. He smiled and with a belly full of Christmas cheer drifted off to sleep.

“Mr Morrison, Mr Morrison”

“Go away” mumbled Mr M.

“Mr Morrison, Mr Morrison”

Mr M bolted upright so hard he nearly fell out of bed. “Who’s there?”

“Ghost of Things Past”

“How did you get in? Security!”

“They can’t hear you I’m afraid. You’re going on a little trip because one day soon you’ll be rewarded for your actions”

Mr M was pretty scared by now. Mr Abbott wasn’t answering his phone. “Damn” He threw the phone on the floor.

“Now look I’m all for free speech but mark my words – after this I’ll be checking your IP activity – in the interests of national security of course”

The Ghost of Things Past swept Mr M out of bed and into the night.

“Where the hell are we? Get me out of this dump”.

“We’re at Christmas Island for Christmas”.

The Ghost of Things Past led Mr M to every face, told every story, but still Mr M could not feel.

” They’re illegal” he grunted.

“No Mr M they are not.”

Next stop was Naru, then an orange floatie-thing on the sea, then Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

“But…but… I’ve stopped the boats!…and I’ve stopped people drowning!”

“But Mr M it is not ‘either or’ – it is not drown or be locked up like animals”

“But I let the children go…” Mr M began to cry. “Pleease I just want to go home to my nice warm bed.” The tears came harder now.

“That’s what they all say Mr M. You still have time to redeem yourself. Let the people go”

Back home and safe, Mr M. promised he would change.  No longer could he say he didn’t understand the pain, desperation and other consequences of his actions, and his actions alone.

“ Er.. one last thing.” The Ghost of Things Past pulled out a list.  “Can you tell me where I can find this Abbott fellow?”

 Post Script:

Love First Dog on the Moon’s A very first Dog Christmas

5 new year resolutions for social workers

  1. Be proud of your profession, its values and ethics. Contributing to an environment where social work values and ethics are respected (and talked about) can lead to greater work satisfaction.
  2. Develop a 12 month professional development plan (even if you have to pay yourself!). Professional development is the life-blood for all professionals – better than a face lift for reinvigorating and inspiring tired, overworked social workers.
  3. Inoculate against robotic and routine activities. Schedule in time for regular professional supervision (after hours or by telephone if need be).
  4. Connect with other social workers. Join a professional association or interest group, start one yourself or simply hang out with your peers.
  5. Establish ground rules around work/ life balance. If you find your case notes in the freezer and the steak in your desk drawer you’re in trouble!

Remember above all things, it is your clients and service users who value what you do most.


Be safe and happy over the holiday

Enjoy the break everyone. Look forward to posting more in 2014. Happy western New Year on the 1st, and Lunar New Year and Orthodox New year in January.  I think we missed Jewish New Year and Islamic New Year (so belated wishes). Same to anyone I have overlooked. Stay safe and be happy.

A social work Christmas

“Lying flat out like a lizard in the sun” usually doesn’t apply to social workers at Christmas. While the rest of the world seems to wind down, social work gets busier. When any long holiday approaches, “running around like a chook with its head cut off” is probably closer to the truth. Regardless of where social workers are, they make sure their clients have what they need over the holiday. So, this year I became curious about what’s on the internet about social work at Christmas.

There were only a few articles about social work among all the announcements about Christmas closures and opening times. xmas treeMost of them pointed out the difficult circumstances for the people social workers work with or drew attention to social conditions, disadvantage or breaches in human rights. Unfortunately, one or two portrayed social workers contriving elaborate plots to remove children at Christmas.

In 2011, a Social Care article pointed out that Christmas is not always a happy time and just how busy social workers are because of it. Families, addiction and how to survive the stress of the season was a focus for Social Work Today. Hope amid the impact of neoliberalism and a return to the Victorian era also got a mention.

The following year, the Social Work Helper reminded us about the violation of gay rights in Uganda. The Daily Mail told us who would be working Christmas Day in the UK and the British Association of Social Work reminded us about our online activities and professional boundaries – good to remember every year!.

I had to go back six years to find anything remotely light about social work at Christmas when 10 social work jokes from community care crackers  was published.

So for this year everybody, stay safe, enjoy and try a bit of self-care!

From my French diary


A meeting in Paris

Connecting via social media reminded me of my trip to France and my French social work colleagues who were extraordinarily kind and hospitable. It was in Paris where I experienced the dangers of not speaking the language!

 On the 2pm train from Zurich to Paris, a young woman spoke to me in French (of course) so I smiled at her and moved from the window seat to my own in the aisle. Unfortunately, changing seats didn’t have the desired effect. The poor woman, obviously frustrated, increased her volume and her French became more rapid. It seems I respond to language barriers with a blank expression and an inability to speak. At this point appalled by my stupidity, she began yelling bebe, bebe.  That didn’t work so she added gestures to the conversation patting her belly.  “Oh you’re pregnant” I said wisely.  She shook her head and the volume increased. She pointed at me. “No I’m not pregnant” I said. Finally, a man in uniform arrived and in eleven English words fixed the problem. “She has a baby and prefers to sit in the aisle”. I moved to the window with relief while the woman retrieved her very cute but sick, restless and teething child from somewhere in the train.

At the Louvre

At the Louvre

In the next few weeks I was almost arrested in the Louvre for mistaking an exit for an entrance; accidentally blinded a medium sized child while trying to photograph the Mona Lisa (always check your flash is off); was chased in the Metro by a small crowd trying to return the scarf I had dropped; repeatedly alarmed taxi drivers by sitting in the driver’s seat; and basically said merci or oui in response to whatever was said to me.  I caused much amusement at the Armee du Salut men’s hostel when I arrived with my suitcase to attend the French CIF (Council of International Fellowship) social workers’ meeting (not to stay!).  I thought I was looking for a café not a men’s hostel. I didn’t know at the time that l’Armée du Salut meant the Salvation Army though it seems pretty obvious now.  I got hopelessly lost trying to find the red line in the Metro. Due to a French compulsion for asking directions, I learned very quickly how to say in French that I don’t speak French. Getting lost is an art form in Paris. I certainly mastered the art of endlessly walking round and round the Arc de Triomphe looking for the street that led to the hotel, but that’s another story.

Under the Eiffel Tower

Under the Eiffel Tower

Even leaving Paris was memorable.  At Charles de Gaulle airport, an eighty-seven year old war veteran kept me engaged in French conversation and mime.  He regaled every passer-by with what I am sure was ribald commentary.  He was going to hospital to have surgery for his knee or heart – I couldn’t decide – maybe it was both. A picnic of cheeses, sausage, baguette and what looked like red wine was laid out beside him.  The old man was suspicious of rules and regulations.  He winked, held up his half eaten baguette and slid out a knife from its centre.  He winked again and returned it to its hiding place. He needed it for his cheese.  He somehow managed to convey that he would not travel with luggage as he preferred to keep his valuable close.  Customs were not to be trusted.  His pyjamas, x-rays and

Inside the Louvre

Inside the Louvre

hospital letters were in a hard covered briefcase which he invited me to inspect. He winked, pointed to his case, tapped his chest and said ‘diplomat’.  He laughed, winked again, pointed to the case and went ‘boom’ and laughed again.  (Don’t be alarmed, he was joking).

 The best thing in Paris when you are hot is the Colonel – lime sorbet in vodka. The police, ambulance and firefighters like to make a lot, and I mean a lot of noise.  Parisians are thin because they walk so much – don’t believe anything else.  People strip to their swimsuits on the riverbank of old Paris at the first hint of sun.  There are plaques on the buildings and schools.that tell how many Jewish adults and children were taken during World War II and describe how it happened.  The people are kind, friendly and helpful. Paris is amazing…and of course so are French social workers.

5 reasons why working until you’re 80 is a bad idea

Politicians are planning to raise the minimum retirement age and should think again. Next we’ll be told 80 is the new 70. There are 5 good reasons why working until you’re 80 is a bad idea.

  1. Yearly sick leave quotas will increase. There freeimage-5852168-highare too many preventative screening tests after 50.
  2. Fractured femurs will cause workplace insurance to skyrocket.
  3. Grandparent Leave will  be introduced because no one is at home to look after the kids.
  4. All product labelling will be redesigned with large print. Otherwise the peaches will end up with the pears on supermarket shelves
  5. Compulsory superannuation will go. Many of us won’t get to retire so the whole scheme will no longer apply. Use the money to pay university debt instead – the Uniannuation Fund! …mmm…this one might be a good idea.