It is probably the fate of ppl like me that, where a father rejects his son as an offspring and a person,  for a safe anchor and harbour in life will never exist. When cut adrift emotionally and spiritually from an early age, its left to yourself to determine those anchors and safe harbours. Without moral or cultural references.

Ironically, being the spiritual yet searching vagrant that I am, my anchor is Barb. And I am and I am determined to be, until I draw my last breath, the anchor and safe harbour for my wife and my children. What I never had I am determined that my family will take for granted.

A good, trusted and close friend, responded to an email I sent him along the lines of this note. I sent it in confidence. He said I should share it. He said it would help others.

As always, our great fear is even if we have things under control, the perceptions would be otherwise. I have reservations, but I also have great faith in my friend’s advice that there are others who might benefit from a simple conversation about accepting the process of walking the Black Dog.

If I have learned one thing from my clinical psychiatrist from 2 years of treatment and rebuilding, its OK to talk about this stuff if the people you ask respect your reasons and motivations.

3.5 years ago I hit a brick wall mentally and emotionally and could find no way out. A messy meltdown resulted and my loving family picked me up, and frog-marched me off to a GP, where I began a journey of discovering a lifetime of sadness, grief, anxiety and depression. 2 years with a professional who helped me unlock things from the darkest, dampest trenches of my mind has resulted in my being able to see light above those trenches. I am learning to deal with and do things with that light.

I remember half way through my time with my psych saying "I just want to be normal again" . Her response to me was "What do you consider to be normal?"

So life now is about finding a "new" normal, one that recognises that I will probably always walk with that fabled Black Dog, but with good support, and appropriate medication, it (so far) no longer walks me.

Some will look at me incredulously; in possible disbelief. Quite reasonably. No outwardly visible signs. No strange (or more than usual strange!) behaviour ..... ("Is he making it up?")

The stigma of shame and fear of judgement, being self-indulgent and being considered weak, flawed, often drives us to be adept confidence tricksters. And the fear of under-performing, making excuses and letting people down, drives us even harder.

Part of being in the light now is being able to trust people with your own story of the journey. I am very much more in control of who I am, what I am and what I feel. I am one of the lucky ones. I had a family who loved me and cared about me. I had access to the best of professional help and support. I have the best of friends and working environments.

And the point of this message?

Many others are not so near as blessed and fortunate as me. The scourge of those dark demons in people's heads pervades modern society and is a particular issue for some much younger than me.

Beyond Blue is very much the vanguard at the battlefront. If we are to continue the battle against those dark damp trenches in people's minds and the packs of Black Dogs that roam unleashed amongst us, then Beyond Blue really needs our support.

A group of very caring, enthusiastic and driven people, (led by a person who understands my little journey because she has also survived much more than me), have come together in a community called "Evolution Runners" Yes, they run, regularly :-) Now, so do I. They're raising money for Beyond Blue. So I have joined them in their efforts.

Please forgive my long note, but it is my way of saying that because of the work of organisations like Beyond Blue, I am back on my feet. I am an example of what can happen when things "go right".

My very humble request is to ask you to consider a small donation to

Beyond Blue, not for me but for others who by rights, should have the same opportunities and support that I received. I am now strong enough to say that what happened to me is real, it is an illness, and it can be treated successfully.

Please join me in helping those who are helping those many others who are yet to start that journey into the "new" normal. The link to the Evolution Runners Donation Page is here:

My grateful thanks

As residents of the Central Highlands region we have a rare opportunity to share our aspirations for the region directly into the heart of State Government through the newly formed Regional Partnerships.

As chair of the Central Highlands Regional Partnership, I’m here to tell you that this initiative is  different, and it’s critical that people understand the opportunity we have to genuinely influence how State Government supports priorities in our region.

On November 15, residents from across the region will be gathering in Ballarat for the first Central Highlands regional assembly, and joining us in the conversation will be various Ministers and senior State Government staff, all there to listen to YOUR priorities for YOUR community.

[Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, and should not be taken in any way to be reflective or endorsed by the Victorian State Government or the Central Highlands Regional Partnership committee in respect of which I have the privilege of being Chair. However you may take it as a sign of my excitement and enthusiasm for this initiative for our regional and rural communities :-) ]

Yesterday, the Victorian Government announced that it's investing $1mil in Digital Plans for all 9 Regional Partnerships. The initiative is an important component of the $45mil Connecting Regional Communities Program announced by the Victorian State Government last year.

Since the mid 90s, the Victorian Government has been the vanguard of State Governments in fighting to close the Digital Divide. Whether it was setting up Televillage initiatives or aggregating telecommunications and broadband services for the benefit of schools and essential services. The Victorian Government has usually been on the front foot. Even at a national level, Victoria has been unafraid of bucking the initiatives when they didn't add up. And in the midst of what was an increasingly frustrating period of inaction and lack of direction at the Federal level in the mid 2000s, many of us were left to do whatever we could with the adhoc and piecemeal iniitiatives that were offered up.

Swing forward to 2009 and the announcement of version 2 of the National Broadband Network. There was finally a recognition of the fact that the telecommunications and broadband infrastructure market had failed the regional and rural areas and there was finally something that local governments and regional and rural communities and businesses could focus on in moving the regions forward. But as always, its one thing to build new infrastructure, its another thing for the regions to leverage it. Many questions came from regional and rural Australia as to what the NBN would do for us and why such a bold and expensive project needed. The gap between knowing this was important and knowing what to do was evident.

There was never any question about the fact that with the progressive rollout of the NBN, it was important for local governments to grasp the potential. But with little technical understanding or experience of high speed broadband and communications, it was important to get the message out that it was not about technical prowess but economic and social outcomes and benefits. Together with the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CERDI), we've worked with local Governments in many parts of Regional Victoria to create understandable and comprehensible digital strategies and plans with a focus on closing up on the Digital Divide. You'll find a lot of the work here. 

Many of those strategies were adopted by local councils in their region and some of them have been refreshed. But a lot of this process was about councils bravely trying to tackle the onslaught of technology in their own areas and in some cases having a "go it alone" focus. Tackling the implications of a digital revolution whilst dealing with the question of when and how the NBN would be delivered to regional and rural populations has been daunting even for the experts. 

What is important now, and agreed throughout all 9 Regional Partnerships, is a recognition of the critical importance of good telecommunications and broadband infrastructure and services to the regional and rural populations. As we have long said, the further out you go from a metropolitan centre, its a case of less want more need. And its not just about the NBN. Some have remonstrated that with the 4G network rolled out, 5G in the starting blocks and NBN on its way, regional and rural connectivity issues are already being solved. Anyone who lives outside of a major population centre in the regions well knows otherwise.

First, there are still holes in mobile coverage. That's why there is a mobile blackspots program at both Federal and State level. Secondly, the NBN is primarily a consumer and small business network. There are solutions that businesses and organisations need that will be outside of the NBN's remit and footprint. An example is narrowband networks, and their impact on IoT and emergency services. And long term, beyond 2020, we want to make sure that we have the evidence and data to measure whether those existing services such as NBN, are keeping up with our needs. 

So what's different about the Digital Plans initiative this time around?

The very first iteration of the Digital Plans are scheduled to be completed by the end of June. It doesn't sound like a lot of time, but this is where the plans *start* its not where they finish.

Behind the plans themselves will be a significant and cumulative database, comprising technical data about networks and where they are, service providers, products, services, government infrastructure .... etc etc. Overlaid on top of this base will be information collected from the regions and communities as to services available, unmet demand and forecasts of new developments, new business initiatives and new planning.

As the plans develop and evolve, so too will the database of information grow, going from a status report on the state of play in the region to a report card on how well we are going in closing the Digital Divide. This will be collected in an online resource with the ability of Councils, businesses and members of the community being capable of leveraging it against providers and Governments about what have, what we don't have and what we need in Regional Victoria. We'll have the evidence and data and we'll be able to map out the shortfalls and be innovative about what it is we can do in the future with good infrastructure.

Each of the nine regions will have its own unique challenges and needs, but for the first time, the Digital Plans initiative gives us an ability to take a consistent statewide regional viewpoint and long term focus. All going well, each of the Digital Plans might well form up as a chapter of a plan and strategy for the entire State.

The Central Highlands Regional Partnership has had the good fortune of having a long antecedence in taking the initiative when it comes to broadband and telecommunications infrastructure. What we are doing in leading off this initiative, is leveraging our experiences, good and bad, for the benefit of the other Partnerships. 

We have spent many years being frustrated by a lack of progress in our regions in closing that fabled Digital Divide and having the attitude that "The Cavalry's not coming, we ARE the Cavalry" . This time we got listened to, and this time I think we've been empowered supported and resourced to get things done.



This is a woman who was invulnerable. It was a strange trigger. Along time ago, we swiped all of the photos from Barb's Mum's home, from the 50s. I scanned them in. These photos, and a million other family photos from our collection flash up randomly on the TV screensaver. She asked for her wedding photos. And she asked to be moved to the sofa so she could see properly. 

I put them in a slow loop and she sat there quiet, transfixed and concentrated. I think she sensed a tipping point.

The world of the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) is a far different place from what it was 10 years ago. One of the biggest evolutions has been that in relation to how digitally enabled small businesses are compared to then. Whilst there is still a long way to go there are some pretty interesting statistics that have come out of the annual Sensis e-Business Report 20161.

My mother in law, close friend, mentor and feisty lover of life, is dying. She's 80 and she is being ravaged by an unkind cancer that has resulted in an open wound below her neck that has now worked itself to the bone. The pain is becoming more intense and the discomfort is evident. And in spite of all of this Doreen Magness is the epitome of grace under fire.

Once an ample, healthy and always handsome woman, she is now but a mere slip of a body. But there is so much more to her than that. She has chosen to end her days with us. You'd have thought that a dying octogenarian required intensive attention. Yes there are things that need to be done, but there is this beaming light in our house that speaks volumes about accepting the inevitable but more importantly, taking each day at a time and making the most of what we have.

Version 1.4:  13 November 2015


Well, finally, we are legally allowed to lane filter on a motorcycle.This article is an attempt to gather up as much information as possible. Bear in mind that while other States also have lane filtering laws, they differ from Victoria's and we won't be looking at them in this article.


WARNING WARNING - I am not writing this piece up as legal advice, these are purely my views on the new legislation. If you have any concerns about the new legislation, ring Vic Roads or talk to a lawyer! Do NOT rely on what is written here for anything other than amateur guidance.


 So what is Lane Filtering?

Lane filtering is defined by Vic Roads as follows:

Lane filtering is when a rider moves at low speed between slow-moving or stopped traffic. The new laws are being brought in to clarify what motorcycle and scooter owners are permitted to do.  

This is different from lane splitting, which is moving in between and passing traffic at high speeds.