Women of Impact website

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In June 2016, I provided copy editing and photo editing services to the University of Wollongong’s Research Office and helped build a website to showcase the work of 40 female academics.

I also drafted copy to help promote the website via social media, specifically Twitter.

View the results

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STRATEGIC REVIEW: Mapping Floods in Jakarta Tweet by Tweet

For Strategic Review, Indonesia, I wrote a 2,750 word article highlighting the impact and potential of PetaJakarta.org, a platform to map flooding in Jakarta in real time. The article appears in the October-December edition of the magazine, in print and online, and is credited to Tomas Holderness and Etienne Turpin as the article is based on their white paper.

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PETAJAKARTA.ORG FEATURED IN WORLD DISASTERS REPORT

A system that turns geo-tagged Tweets about flooding in Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, into valuable data in real-time is featured in this year’s World Disasters Report.

The report, commissioned by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, praises PetaJakarta.org as a case study of community-level response to disasters.

PetaJakarta.org turns geo-tagged Tweets by Jakarta’s citizens into valuable data. The platform allows citizens to share flood information with social media peers while simultaneously providing the Jakarta Emergency Management Agency (BPBD DKI Jakarta) with data to support decision making for disaster response.

The report cites the University’s partnership with both the Jakarta Emergency Management Agency and Twitter Inc., which represents a world first collaboration between Twitter, a university, and a disaster management agency.

“This is a significant achievement as this is effectively the gold standard for developments within the Disaster Risk Management sector,” Dr Tomas Holderness, one of two lead researchers on the project, said.

The World Disasters Report is produced each year by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Report, which was launched on 1 October 2015, examines the complexities and challenges local actors face in scaling-up and sustaining their humanitarian response.

“Local actors are always the first to respond. In 2015, we saw local people and organisations at the centre of operations rescuing thousands trapped in the rubble after the earthquake in Nepal, setting up evacuation centres in the wake of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, and on the frontline of the protracted conflict in Syria,” Elhadj As Sy, the Secretary General of the IFRC, said.

“But their effectiveness goes beyond their proximity. Local groups, including National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, are effective because of the perspective they bring, their understanding of language and cultural norms, and because they are permanently present in communities and able to accompany them to address risks before disaster strikes.”

Jakarta is one of the world’s fastest developing cities and is prone to flooding during the monsoon season.

“What we are trying to understand and achieve is how to blend data sources to enable those various communities – responders and the urban poor – to have transparency and access to the information that they are both using,” project co-director Etienne Turpin told the IFRC.

According to the IFRC, in 2013 alone, more than one million people were affected by flooding and 80,000 were displaced.

“Floods often happen very fast, trapping and killing people and often catching communities unawares. The Jakarta Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) in turn struggles to keep up with both flooding patterns that can change by the hour and a consequently constantly fluctuating response,” the report states.

About the report

The World Disasters Report is an annual independent publication commissioned by the IFRC, contributing evidence-based research on the challenges, trends and innovations in disaster risk reduction and crisis management. The report is an important body of research, which builds on discussions at the 2015 UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. It makes a direct contribution to next year’s World Humanitarian Summit where the localisation of aid is one of the key thematic areas of focus.

Petajakarta.org
PetaJakarta.org is a web-based platform that runs on custom built open source software known as CogniCity. The system turns geo-tagged Tweets into valuable data and, importantly is transferable and could readily be deployed in other cities to address issues such as waste management, transport and traffic congestion, weather emergencies, and even elections and governance.

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For University of Wollongong

Arts graduates recognised as women of influence

Two UOW alumni have been named in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of influence Awards.

Van Badham, a writer at the Guardian, and Kathleen Roma Greer, artistic director and founder of Micro Galleries, are both listed under the list’s inaugural Culture category.

Kathleen Roma Greer is currently based between Hong Kong and Australia and works as a performance maker and curator and is driven to facilitate social change and change the world in “small and creative ways”.

In January 2013, Kathleen founded Micro Galleries, which reclaims disused and forgotten spaces and reactivates them as tiny galleries that are free and accessible to the local community.

Micro Galleries brings art to communities to have a positive impact. Photo by Teresa Schebiella.

Bringing together international and local artists, Micro Galleries features work that challenges ingrained ideas, blurs the line between street art and fine art, and demonstrates that art is for everyone and it can have a positive impact on a community. Importantly, the project aims to show people that art does not have to only be presented in galleries and theatres, but can break out of these spaces and ingrain itself into a community.

Since 2013, Micro Galleries has come together in Hong Kong, South Africa, Bali, Indonesia and Australia.

“It’s quite humbling to be selected along with 99 other sensational women doing the most extraordinary things. I am particularly proud of Van Badham and I both being selected as graduates from the Creative Arts programs at UOW.”

“Growing up in a low-socioeconomic area in the Illawarra, it was pretty tough to imagine art being my way of life – but I saw how it brought so much beauty, magic, hope, possibility, change and inquiry to people who chose to or could engage with it. I wanted to be someone who could bring that to others, to those who might not normally have access to it.

“I have been fortunate enough to have an opportunity do that: working with my amazing team Teresa Schebiella, Bonnie Greene and Zena Churchill to bring Micro Galleries to communities.”

“I am so grateful to have been selected – and I really hope the outcome of it is that it inspires another kid in regional housing commission to read, look, enquire and create their own positive change somewhere in the world.”

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Van Badham, based in Melbourne, is a writer, a columnist at Guardian Australia, and one of Australia’s most passionate and prolific Tweeters (@vanbadham has sent 125 thousand tweets since joining the microblogging service in April 2009 and currently has 27 thousand followers). Naturally, Van is known for being opinionated and a woman of strong principles. Her words inspire some and infuriate others, but are always entertaining.

“It’s an extraordinary, intimidating and very humbling achievement to be included on the list of the 100 women of influence,” Van said.

“Looking through the profiles of women showing leadership and innovation, from engineering and science and public policy, to medicine, community development, business and culture, is inspiring. For me, it’s a vindication of everything feminists have fought for – the right of women to define themselves by their own character and chosen vocation, rather than to play out their lives in some arbitrary and nonsensical, restrictive gender role. It isn’t so long ago when careers – personally chosen careers – weren’t an actual life option for the vast majority of women.

“My mother was never provided the opportunity to pursue her vocational calling – but it’s thanks to women like my mother who fought so hard for things to be fairer for their daughters and young women who came after them that these opportunities are growing. One thing common to women on the list is a commitment to mentoring other women, because for all the new opportunity we still live in a society that obstructs and impedes women’s access to influence and leadership experience – and those of us who have been able to claim a space in public life are aware, I think, of the support we received from other women to get there, and the support we have an important obligation to provide to the women who come after us.”

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The most influential in each category, and the most influential overall, will be announced at an awards evening at the Sydney Town Hall on 15 October.

3D printed flutes: Instagram snapshots

THE FAR FUTURE IS RAPIDLY DRAWING CLOSER – AND IT WORRIES US

When it comes to the future of humanity, many people fear the worst.

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A study that investigated the perceived probability of threats to humanity and different responses to them in four Western nations — US, UK, Canada and Australia — has found that many people are seriously concerned that our existing way of life will end. A significant amount of people are also concerned that humans will be wiped out within the next 100 years.

The study found that:

  • 54 per cent of people surveyed rated the risk of our way of life ending within the next 100 years at 50 per cent or greater;
  • Almost a quarter (24 per cent) rated the risk of humans being wiped out within a century at 50 per cent or greater;
  • Almost three quarters (73 per cent) believe there is a 30 per cent or greater risk of our way of life ending (30 per cent said that the risk is 70 per cent or more);
  • Almost four in ten (39 per cent) believe there is a 30 per cent or greater danger of humanity being wiped out (10 per cent said the danger is 70 per cent or more).

Responses to the survey were categorised as nihilism (the loss of belief in a social or moral order; decadence rules), fundamentalism (the retreat to certain belief; dogma rules), or activism (the transformation of belief; hope rules):

  • Almost 80 per cent agreed “we need to transform our worldview and way of life if we are to create a better future for the world” (activism);
  • About a half agreed that “the world’s future looks grim so we have to focus on looking after ourselves and those we love” (nihilism);
  • More than a third said “we are facing a final conflict between good and evil in the world” (fundamentalism).

The results of the study, conducted by Dr Melanie Randle of the School of Management, Operations and Marketing at the University of Wollongong, and Richard Eckersley, a Director of Australia21 Ltd, a non-profit strategic research company, is published in the journal Futures.

Read: Public perceptions of future threats to humanity and different societal responses: A cross-national study, Futures

Richard Eckersley said many of the threats we face – such as climate change, depletion and degradation of natural resources and ecosystems, nuclear and biological war and terrorism and runaway technological change — are not new. Scientists and other experts and reputable journals have warned of the dangers for decades.

“Nevertheless, the evidence is growing stronger, especially about climate change, and never before have the possible impacts been so powerfully reinforced by actual events, including natural disasters and calamities, and their sustained and graphic media coverage.”

Dr Randle said people’s responses to the study likely represent a general uncertainty and fear rather than a fear based on a considered assessment of a specific threat.

“It shows a loss of faith in a future constructed around notions of material progress, economic growth and scientific and technological fixes to the challenges we face. This loss is important, yet barely registers in current debate and political discussion.”

“At best, the high perception of risk and the strong endorsement of an activist response could drive a much greater effort to confront global threats. At worst, with a loss of hope, fear of a catastrophic future erodes people’s faith in society, affecting their roles and responsibilities, and their relationship to social institutions, especially government.”

Mr Eckersley added: “Despite increasing political action on specific issues like climate change, globally the scale of our response falls far short of matching the magnitude of the threats. Closing this gap requires a deeper understanding of how people perceive the risks and how they might respond. Offering false hope is not the solution. For the challenges to be addressed, they must first be acknowledged.

“Ultimately, the far future is rapidly drawing closer – and it worries us.”

NB: The study involved a survey of over 2,000 people in Australia, US, UK and Canada. Findings were similar across countries, age, sex and other demographic groups, although some interesting differences emerged.

For University of Wollongong. Read the original article.

REPORTING THE RIVERINA

Four journalism graduates take up post in regional NSW with WIN News Riverina.

Rural and regional newsrooms are the deep end. They’re a mainstay in their community, a source of local knowledge and news. but also a challenging (and rewarding) environment for young journalists wanting to report the issues facing regional Australia.

Since its launch in 2007, dozens of graduates from UOW’s journalism program have migrated to newsrooms in regional areas. In the Riverina area, in south-western News South Wales, locals currently get their nightly television news from four UOW graduates — Jared Constable, Tanya Dendrinos, Sarah Navin, Samara Gardner (pictured left to right above. Photo: Michael Patterson).

While some journalism students are prepared to discover their preferred medium along the way, Tanya Dendrinos, from Campbelltown, had a career in television in her sights from day one.

“If I was going to be a journalist, I was going to be in broadcast journalism and more specifically, television,” Tanya said.

“I assessed the array of journalism courses on offer at universities across the state and the UOW course stood out as the one that would best prepare me for the career I wanted. It was intensive, had television-specific subjects as well as an on-campus television station.”

Newcomers to the Bachelor of Journalism are quickly introduced to UOWTV Multimedia and are promptly prepared to begin contributing to the platform.

“Working on a nightly news bulletin is very different to putting together a UOWTV update but the skills I learnt were invaluable,” Tanya said.

“UOWTV taught me the basics of putting together a news story: lining up talent, conducting an interview, shooting vision, writing, voicing, editing and working to deadlines. I have no doubt these skills got me my first job. When it came time to do an internship with WIN News, I already knew the basics, I understood the work it took to get a story together and I was able to prove myself as a young journalist and potential employee.”

Tanya started with WIN News Riverina as a journalist in April 2013. She was made Chief of Staff a year later.

“Regional news is the best start a journalist can have … you’ll never get a better opportunity to learn your craft.

“You have limited resources, a big area to cover and tough deadlines but you get an opportunity to write about everything, to learn about a wide variety of topics and tell stories that really matter to the community in which you live.”

In the six months that Sarah Navin has been a part of the team, she’s reported on a wide variety of topics.

“Some of my favourite stories so far have been a local man who stays up all night in the kitchen making nutbars to raise money for the Cancer Council, or a Charles Sturt University (CSU) researcher who has linked the enzymes in olives to preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” the Wagga Wagga local said.

“I’m loving immersing myself in the Riverina, chasing the local stories where I grew up … [and I’m learning a lot], getting the opportunity to cover everything from agriculture to medicine to politics. It’s a steep learning curve, but that’s the best way to do it.”

Sarah, 23, says Studio 20 Live, a show broadcast live via YouTube created by students with the help of Shawn Burns, was a valuable part of her education.

“We had everything from a cooking segment to game show challenges, to interviews with locals on the couch. We also designed the set and had a crew filming and producing. One day we took the show outside during lunch time which was a blast. It was just a great time experimenting with different ideas, bouncing off each other and watching the show grow, plus it was ‘live’ so that brings with it more unpredictability, which is always fun.”

A stint overseas at University of Sheffield in the UK where she had her own radio show broadcasting in the university’s cafes and medical centre, and internships with Channel 9 News and the Today Show, further provided Sarah with an insight into what a career in television involves.

“The dream has always been [to work on the travel show] ‘Getaway’, but we’ll see how that goes. I am just really passionate about television since getting a taste of it and would love to see where it takes me.”

Samara Gardner joined WIN in May 2014. The 24-year-old studied a double degree — Journalism and a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Theatre).

“I was really interested in doing a double degree with theatre and found that UOW was one of the few universities with the flexibility to combine such two very different degrees,” she said.

While a metro newsroom and an opportunity to present the news appeals to Samara, she agrees with her colleagues that a regional newsroom provides the best opportunities to learn.

“We source, interview, write and voice our own stories – an opportunity that wouldn’t be afforded to an entry level journalist in metro news … we are constantly offered the opportunity to learn, grow and expand our skill base.”

Like Tanya, Samara credits UOWTV with preparing her for the newsroom.

“UOWTV equipped me with so many essential skills that I still use daily. My favourite experience would have to be hosting our live coverage of the 2013 federal election. It was a full day and a team effort, but the experience really compounded my love of news and how exhilarating it can be to be a journalist during an event like that.”

Jared Constable, 22, from Wollongong, has dreams of being a sports reporter, breaking national and international news on a major news network such as FOX.

He’s not “wishing away his” time in regional NSW as a news and sports reporter though.

“I’m really still honing my skills and learning the trade. These communities are so alive and often go unnoticed by giant news corporation’s fixed in big cities. I want to continue telling regional stories to the wider community.”

Another former UOWTV reporter, Jared is energised by today’s fast-paced news cycle.

“Journalism is a front-row ticket to the news and you get to share with people what you see as you see it. What more could you want in a profession?”

“I constantly refer to the tools I learned while out on the job as a UOWTV reporter, whether it be the questions I ask, or the manner in which I deal with interviewees, and it underpins my moral compass when assessing every story I follow,” he said.

Originally published by the University of Wollongong

YOUNG JOURNALIST WINS PRESTIGIOUS WALKLEY AWARD

Lifting the lid on sexism in the medical profession lands UOW graduate Alice Matthews a coveted award in journalism.

Less than a year after graduating and starting as a researcher at the ABC in Ultimo, Sydney, Alice Matthews has won a Walkley Award. The 24-year-old was nominated for, and ultimately awarded, the Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year Award for Radio/Audio Journalism for shedding light on sexual harassment in the medical profession.

By broadcasting the concerns of vascular surgeon Dr Gabrielle McMullin about sexism among many male surgeons, Alice helped spark a conversation that has continued until today, even prompting universities to consider implementing sexual harassment education in health courses.

“This was a story that landed in my hands on my very first reporting shift for radio current affairs. A colleague, Lindy Kerin, passed on an alert for an e-book launch last minute and I just had to run out the door. I attended thinking I would cover the launch and the book. But I was also given an article by Dr McMullin which I read in the cab on the way, and that led me to believe she had a lot to say.”

“What I thought the story would be is not what the story became. Dr McMullin’s words changed it. The story she told was powerful, she was frank and what she said was shocking. She was very brave to speak out and even braver for following through. I kept pursuing the story because Dr McMullin sparked an important discussion and I wanted to make sure that continued, and hopefully led to change.”

Alice said she learnt a lot doing th

e story: “It taught me that journalism, someone’s story, can be an instigator of change or at the very least create widespread awareness … It made me realise the impact giving someone a voice can have, and highly value the role journalism can play.”

About Alice’s work, the award judges said: “Alice’s stories help expose behaviour that seems unimaginable in Australia in 2015. Acting on instinct, and working within tight time constraints, Alice has detailed the sexual abuse suffered by women training to be surgeons and the steps educators have now been forced to implement to deal with the controversy. Gripping, revealing and a wonderful example of powerful current affairs.”

From Bathurst to Broadcast

Winning a Walkley is a defining moment for many journalists. In 2008, the Walkley Foundation launched the Young Journalist of the Year Awards to recognise the hard work, creativity, and skill of new and emerging talent in Australian journalism. For those who are recognised early on in their career, it’s an event that opens doors in a competitive industry that is continuously in a period of change.

“It’s awesome to see people get behind young people entering the industry,” Alice said, adding that, though awarded to an individual, the award recognises the work of many. “I think the most validation is for the people involved in the story. It’s an indication that the issues Dr McMullin raised have been brought to light, acknowledged and given the time they deserve.”

Alice said she chose to study journalism because she wanted to tell stories. “Journalism seemed to be a profession where I could combine everything I loved. It was a way I could work with people, be creative, write, take photos and learn about sound. But I think the main reason I chose journalism was because I fell in love with storytelling. I was always fascinated by the stories of my mum and dad and that has always stuck with me.”

Before she became a Walkley Award winning journalist, Alice, who was born in Bathurst, naturally had moments of doubt, wondering if she had made the right decision.

“I went through what I call a mid-degree crisis. I questioned why I was studying journalism and worried that maybe it wasn’t for me. I think that was a valuable experience because I was forced to solidify the reasons to keep going and get past the challenges.”

UOW’s journalism lecturers, including journalism lecturer Shawn Burns and oral historian and documentary maker Dr Siobhan McHugh, played a significant role in maintaining her enthusiasm for the job, providing encouragement and assurance along the way.

“My experience with my teachers is what I valued most while studying journalism. They showed me that journalism can be a beautiful craft. Undoubtedly, it was their encouragement that kept me going when I thought I didn’t want to. They were supportive, patient, passionate, and talented and I have so much respect for them and their work. My teachers gave me the opportunities to connect to the industry and the survival skills to stay in it.”

Alice studied broadcast journalism under Dr McHugh and received internships at both ABC Illawarra and ABC Sydney. Alice was a reporter with UOWTV, she contributed to an extended feature with Dr McHugh about improving outcomes for recipients of Meals and Wheels in the Illawarra, which also aired on ABC Illawarra, and was among a group of students who travelled to Paris to work with journalist and academic Julie Posetti and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), working on the UNESCO Internet Study: Privacy and Journalists’ Sources.

“Alice was one of those students that always went the extra mile,” Dr McHugh said. “From day one, Alice was blown away by the capacity of radio. She was open to all forms of media but she understood that radio can go deeper than just news. She appreciated that an audio story allows the listener to focus on what’s being said and how it’s said.”

Alice said: “I value that people don’t get as intimidated by a microphone like they do a camera. There is something about not showing your face than seems safer. A voice is very powerful, because when it’s on its own people don’t tend to judge, instead you listen and you hear details in a voice that communicate emotions in a very raw way. Siobhan McHugh opened up my eyes to this. Also, I love podcasts.”

Written for the University of Wollongong