Archive for June, 2009

So what’s the extra Connex people on the platforms at Parliament station achieving?

The cynics amongst us might say it gives the company more visibility close to where key contract decisions get made. Wouldn’t it be better spending the money on having more suburban stations manned and making the service safer at night?

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Imperial Kingdom – Yum Cha

We had one of those happy occasions today where we got the whole family together for lunch – had a great time.

Where did we go? Yum cha at the Imperial Kingdom, 546 Waverley Road (cnr Blackburn Road), Glen Waverley. Googling “imperial kingdom glen waverley” seems to do the trick if you need more details.

There was, as usual, an incredible range of offerings and it was all absolutely fantastic. We got there at 11:30am – it was already starting to fill up by then, so reservations are definitely recommended. It’s definitely the spot for weekend yum cha. Highly recommended.

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The ever growing popularity of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has resulted in people taking up a lot more causes. Recent examples of this are the campaign to change a Twitter avatar to green as a form of protest against the alleged rigging of the Iran elections, and a plethora of Facebook groups ranging from bushfires, to cancer, to dogs as shark bait, etc.

Unfortunately, all this has achieved is to make it easy for people to claim they are supporting a cause, when all they are really doing is making a couple of mouse clicks on a computer. Tokenism!

In most cases, they are appropriate causes for people to support. Indeed, I’ve joined a whole bunch of them myself. And I’m as guilty of tokenism.

Isn’t it time for us to get a bit more genuine, a bit more serious about our support for appropriate causes? If we’re concerned about bushfires, as a minimum we should be donating money. But why not contribute some time to organisations like SES, CFA or Red Cross? Or a myriad of other organisations who are currently providing support to those impacted by the fires?

If we’re concerned about Iran, then why not donate to Amnesty International? Or better still, why not give them some of our time? Dogs? RSPCA. Cancer? Get out there and actively support the vast range of support organisations.

Next time you think about starting or joining a cause on Twitter, Facebook or the like, why not make sure it’s a group where you can say I actively did something for that cause. We need more people who are genuine about the causes they support and not just mouse clickers.

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The Age is reporting this morning that Fairfax is going to relaunch the National Times, as an online edition.


My previous blog entries probably give some clues about what I think about the Australian media industry in general. Generally low quality and constantly looking for sensation rather than strong analysis and reporting.

If Fairfax manages to give us the National Times as it was previously, it will be great. To quote Fairfax Media chief executive Brian McCarthy, “The National Times brand was synonymous with intelligent and thought-provoking journalism”.

The August launch is certainly something to look forward to.

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Australian media organisations – GIVE ME A BREAK!

  • How many human rights atrocities occurred?
  • How many children from third world countries died of malnutrition?
  • How many people died from cancer?
  • How many innocent people were attacked in the streets?
  • How many people were belted up by their partners?

While you have been giving these mindless nuff nuffs, and their respective entourages, the time of day.

This is an absolute low point in the life and times of media in Australia – Channel 9 for the way it is behaving and the other media outlets for the way, nay the fact, that it is even being reported.

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We’ve had a couple of free tickets to the Werribee Open Range Zoo stuck on the fridge for a while. When we looked at them the other day, we realised they expired in a week or so, so decided to go and check it out today. I’d been to Werribee Zoo a couple of times before, the last time being six years ago. Carol had never been before. It turned out the tickets were worth more than $50, so we were pleased we didn’t let them expire.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, Carol and I just love going to a zoo – the last one was the Calgary Zoo in Canada this time last year.

For those that haven’t been to Werribee Zoo, there are three walking tours and also a bus tour, the latter being a fully enclosed bus that takes you through a series of exhibits in an hour. There’s probably not a lot of point describing it in finite detail as that’s all here à
http://www.zoo.org.au/, along with the details for Melbourne’s other two zoos.

Suffice to say, we had a great day, certainly much better than we expected. The zoo’s definitely improved in six years – the lion and hippo exhibits are excellent. Disappointments? The usual expensive crap food one seems to get at these sorts of attractions and no elephants. The latter are coming soon apparently. I won’t hold my breath for the former to get any better.

Here’s the pick of my photos taken on a fairly challenging day as far as the light was concerned. Camera is a Nikon D40X with a Nikor 18-135 zoom.

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Australia has once again qualified for the World Cup, following a draw with Qatar overnight. This is a fantastic effort, qualifying for two World Cups in a row, in a sport that has not traditionally been a national strength. It speaks volumes for the progress football has made in recent years.

But it clearly doesn’t impress the ABC! I flicked the radio on at 7:00am this morning, specifically to hear what had happened. I would have loved to stay up and watch it on Foxtel, but wasn’t confident I could stay awake. I had to wait for the third sports story, about eight minutes into the ten-minute news bulletin. It didn’t rate as being more important than Carlton beating Brisbane in the AFL, and even worse, Port Adelaide beating Fremantle. Nor did it rate as being more important than the West Indies beating Australia in Twenty20 cricket, far and away the most unimportant and insignificant format of the game.

C’mon ABC Radio, lift your game! Last night was a significant event in Australia’s rich sporting history. And you dropped the ball in the way you reported it.

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Well, isn’t that a mouthful?

I wanted to spend a bit of time blogging about AIIMS. Why? Firstly, it’s something that I need to become much more strongly across than I am at the moment. I figure that if I have to write about it, to do that properly, I’ll need to read all the material I’ve got so far. Secondly, for those of you who aren’t closely involved in emergency services, I wanted to give a bit of an insight into the structured way that incidents should be managed. It’s not simply a matter of rushing around pointing wet stuff at hot stuff so to speak, and hoping it all ends up OK.

As the title indicates, AIIMS is an incident management system, or methodology, that is or will be used by a number of different emergency service agencies in Australia. Red Cross is in the process of implementing AIIMS for incident management.

So why introduce AIIMS? There are three key positives from my perspective. Firstly, it just makes extremely good sense to approach incident management in a methodological, structured way, just like most other things we do. Cooks do things according to recipes, ambulance officers have protocols, pilots have checklists. Why wouldn’t emergency management be undertaken based on an appropriatly documented, structured approach? Perhaps it seems more logical to me because I’ve worked in IT for 30 years and we are absolutely conditioned to doing things based on methodologies.

The second positive about AIIMS is it is scalable. Not all Red Cross activations will be of the magnitude of the recent bushfires. Indeed, when I was activated this afternoon to provide 25 meals to emergency services personnel at a police-controlled incident, my first thought was how I should manage it according to the AIIMS guidelines.

Thirdly, the first I in AIIMS stands for Inter-service – AIIMS has already been rolled out amongst the various fire authorities and is being progressively rolled out by other emergency service organisations. This means the various agencies will be able to more easily and effectively work together at the same incident, based on a consistent management approach.

So what are the key aspects of AIIMS? The first thing to understand is it is all about management by objectives. An Incident Action Plan (IAP) is developed to document priorities, objectives, strategies and tactics. Indeed, this is exactly the same as what should happen in business, with the development of a business strategy and the accompanying tactics that will be used to achieve the strategy.

The following diagram nicely shows the functional structure associated with implementing the IAP.

The grey box shows the Incident Management Team, which comprises four roles, namely Red Cross Commander, Planning Officer, Operations Officer and Logistics Officer. To put it simply, the Red Cross Commander is responsible for the management of the incident. The Planning Officer and all his subordinates are the “thinkers”. Similarly, the Logistics people are the “getters” and the Operations people are the “doers”. Put another way, the planners gather information, prepare plans and strategies and provide administrative support. The logisticians obtain and maintain human and physical resources. The operations people manage activities and resources.

To make it easy to identify relevant people in the hurly burly of an emergency operations centre, different coloured tabards are used for the different functions, white for Red Cross Commander, yellow for Planning, red for Operations and blue for Logistics.

The diagram above shows a range of different units sitting within the Planning and Logistics functions. This is meant to be a brief summary of AIIMS, so I won’t go into that detail here. Suffice to say, in a big incident like the February fires, most of these units were in action as part of Red Cross’s response. For my activation this afternoon, I was Red Cross Commander as well as wearing the yellow, red and blue. I had one person as a team member within Operations, who picked up and delivered the meals. I felt like Joseph with his technicolour dream coat. Only joking of course, but a good example of the scalability.

Hopefully this has given a good high-level insight into the implementation of AIIMS at Red Cross. There’s a lot of work needs to go into the implementation over the coming months, but I reckon it will be great when it’s up and running.

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The evidence seems to be mounting that the Country Fire Authority (CFA) is going to end up being the whipping boy as a result of the Royal Commission into the February fires in Victoria. The Sunday Age (May 31, 2009, page 3) is reporting that the CFA believes the senior counsel assisting the commission is “prosecuting” its members. It also reports the CFA is considering briefing its own lawyers as a result of its dissatisfaction with those appointed by the State Government.

I want to state my absolute support for the CFA, and all emergency services organisations involved in the fires. Victoria has never before had to deal with a tragedy of such magnitude. While every emergency service will identify areas that it could have done better, all emergency services personnel should stand tall.

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