My Recent Work

There’s a word for this new snowflake version of Scrabble. Do I need to spell it out?

I get it – you’re a Scrabble purist horrified by Mattel’s “unforgivable” update of the game. They’ve released a “dumbed-down” version in which players work collaboratively on a series of challenges rather than compete against each other. “We want to ensure the game continues to be inclusive for all players,” Mattel vice-president Ray Adler said. You’re triggered and must voice your outrage because Scrabble is no mere game; it’s an institution! And institutions must be protected. (Except any that

I wasn't an alcoholic, but this is how I stopped relying on 'Mummy wine time'

There’s nothing like moving to music with zero self-consciousness. Maybe I’ll swing my arms around my head. Great idea! What if I try break dancing? No worries!

Cut to the present day, where I spend most of the time feeling like I’m failing as a parent, with, until recently, zero free dancing. Instead, I focused on my mum-guilt. I wasn’t present enough. I wasn’t firm enough. I was too firm. My toddler had a meltdown at the shops, and everyone was watching.

Then, so often, 5 pm rolled around, a

What “Prosper” can teach us about Hillsong, hypocrisy, and the danger of becoming too big

There is a scene in the Stan Original series Prosper — a show that means to give a fictionalised treatment of the growth and travails of Hillsong Church — which reflects a conspicuous aspect of the megachurch’s approach to charity. The charismatic pastor, Cal Quinn (played by Richard Roxburgh, and modelled after Hillsong founder Brian Houston), is trying to convince his son Jed (Jacob Collins-Levy), who has turned his back on the church and now runs an inner-city homeless shelter, to join the ch

I’m teaching my child not to have a best friend

It’s crazy how quickly your child powers through noteworthy stages. In utero, they grow from a grain of rice to a grape, to a rockmelon. Then they’re born, and before you know it, they’re rolling, crawling, running, learning your real name isn’t Mum. Suddenly, they’re four years old and entering the “best friends” stage. Do close friendships carry too many pitfalls? I wasn’t prepared for this. There’s no manual or app with cute animations explaining how to support your child as they start stompi

A new book about Bridget Jones, but not that Bridget Jones

It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is no greater love than that of a romance writer for their genre, which is especially true in the case of The Other Bridget by Rachael Johns, one of Australia’s most productive novelists. In Rachael Johns’ latest romance her main character, Bridget Jones, has a woeful love life. Johns’ other specialty is rural romance. You know the picture: shirtless muscular men in Akubras and R.M. Williams boots on the covers, so there is a lot of preaching fro

Sorry Frozen, but it’s time children let it go once and for all

Dear Frozen, happy 10th anniversary. Disney, can we have something new now? The time has come to let it go. I know I’m treading on thin ice here, weighing in on a film for which I’m not the target audience, but let me explain. As we arrive at this anniversary, I find myself reflecting on the phenomenon that this Disney film has become over the past decade. When it first blasted onto the scene in 2013, I was in my 20s: footloose and fancy-free, only vaguely aware of the tidal wave-sized obsession

I demand my kids hug their grandparents. Am I a bad mother?

Though it’s an increasingly controversial stance among those who subscribe to the gentle parenting movement, I make my children hug their grandparents. To some, enforcing my two young kids these kinds of rules is considered to be on par with sending them to Neverland Ranch for a sleepover. Our “child-focused” culture in which “the ethos is that we should be hyper involved, hyper present, hyper emotional and hyper organised” is, says clinical psychologist Dani Klein, leaving many parents overwhel

After 14 years, I left the disability sector. Money alone can’t fix its problems

A few months ago, I left the disability support industry that I had worked in for 14 years behind. Despite finding the work hugely rewarding, supporting a young family on the industry’s wages was becoming harder, so I made the difficult decision to leave.

Among the 222 recommendations the disability royal commission handed down last week was the need to strengthen the workforce within disability services, which have reached what the commission said were “crisis levels”. Along with the NDIS frag

Forget a female David Brent – give women original characters

I am all for the matriarchy. In the words of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song: “Females are strong as hell.”

When done well, a female-led TV show or film can do justice to the complexities and diversities of women’s stories. But when it comes to gender-flipped reboots, like Australia’s upcoming take on The Office starring Felicity Ward as our very own David Brent meets Michael Scott, there needs to be a truly good reason for them.

The gender-flipped reboot is not a recent phenomenon, d

The ‘recovering teacher’ who’s written a portrait of small-town teacher life

“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth,” Doris Lessing famously said, and Gabbie Stroud’s move into fiction with Things That Matter Most is a testament to this. Stroud, who calls herself a “recovering teacher”, has written much on the ongoing teacher shortage, including her brilliant 2018 memoir, Teacher, and the 2020 follow-up, Dear Parents. Her 2016 essay, Teaching Australia in Griffith Review was shortlisted for a Walkley Award, making her one of the leading voices calling

It’s great that your child loves Spider-Man and Elsa, but they have no place at Book Week

It’s that time of the year when two words strike fear into the hearts of parents who couldn’t papier-mache a boat to save their lives: Book Week.

Last year, during a frenzied costume rush, I found myself embroiled in a debate with my three-year-old about why an Elsa (from Frozen) dress wasn’t appropriate for Book Week. “Look at this!” I said, holding a Snugglepot and Cuddlepie print dress. She looked at me with the kind of ridicule only a three-year-old can muster, and I had flashbacks of my mo

Life is dark and absurd. No wonder kids shows celebrating this are winning awards

My toddlers adore Teletubbies. As soon as the show’s baby-faced sun-God rises in the sky, they go off like a frog in a sock.

The Teletubbies plod on-stage with their dead eyes, weird noises, and anthropomorphic vacuum cleaner, and I silently categorise the various controversies surrounding them over the years: A televangelist’s accusation of Tinky-Winky’s latent homosexuality, which led to him (Tinky-Winky, not the televangelist) becoming a gay icon; the infamous lion and bear scene which clawe

Non-alcoholic booze is the dumbest invention since the appendix

Of all the pointless things to ever be invented (blankets with sleeves, umbrella shoes, appendixes), the most pointless surely has to be alcohol-free booze. You could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into a bottle-o in the soft drink aisle of your local supermarket, with alcohol brands like Carlton, Wolf Blass, Peroni, Heineken and James Squire all pumping out versions of non-alcoholic beverages to meet growing demand for products that look, taste and smell like alcohol while not actually

Let’s have some self-respect and not fall for celebrity group pictures

Among the many great questions of life (Is there a God? What is consciousness? Who is Kim Kardashian dating?) the ultimate one is: Why do group photos of celebrities break the internet? Last week, Kristen Bell posted a few “holiday snaps” to her Instagram account including a picture of a long table full of famous faces like Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Adam Scott, Olivia Munn, John Mulaney and Jimmy Kimmel (who reportedly owns the place they’re staying). Although the lack of d

I used to love Black Mirror, but it’s completely lost the plot

I used to feel more intelligent just watching Black Mirror. The Netflix series was clever, twisty, and deeply prophetic. It was light on happy endings but had moments of intense emotion and epiphany. Take episodes Be Right Back and San Junipero, which delt with the possibilities of digital afterlife, or Bryce Dallas Howard’s incredible performance in Nosedive, which was a joyous critique of social currency culture. “It’s like a Black Mirror episode!” became standard conversational fare anytime s

Does saying ‘no’ to checkout charities make me a bad person?

I’m picking up a $1.50 coffee from the servo, and the lady asks if I would like to donate $2 to kids with cancer. I squirm awkwardly before saying “no thanks”. I imagine she must be wondering how this degenerate demon clawed its way out of the seventh circle of Hell. What kind of person doesn’t want to help kids with cancer? “We already give to a few places,” I say, needing to justify my morality. I wonder if I should pull out my bank statements to show her evidence. Maybe if I grabbed her by th

In an era of time-hacking, I just want to decorate fake bedrooms

Walking around Melbourne’s 2023 Oz Comic-Con, it feels like I’ve slipped through a crack into a confluence of dimensions: Anime and superhero characters mingle with Disney princesses chatting to Care Bears. Three Spider-Men line up for gyros while an eight-foot-tall Grim Reaper waves at a toddler, and a Stormtrooper wheezily brags from behind his mask that he made the costume himself.

I love this culture – this unbridled passion for imagination and play where people willingly line up for hours
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