Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Category Archives: national events

More milestones

I’ve been taking a few moments to review what I’ve written in the past, to think about, what I should be writing about both in the future – and right now. Because of course, right now will bridge what I have written about in the past, with what I want to write about in the future.

Of course, I will continue to write for myself. And hope that some of you out there will find value in what I am writing.

I’m not sure how normal this is, but it would really appear I must have a whole bunch of drop-in-once “followers” because my follower to like ratio is really quite terrible. I passed both 1000 likes in total, and 100 followers, within the last ten days. Over on other social media, I am back onto Twitter more than I have been for a while. While I’m not adding my own photos, I’m certainly active following other users on Instagram, and I’m making an effort to remember to use Facebook not as myself but as my page.

But, if I’m not sure why I’m online… is it still about Autism, or not? … then there remains somewhat of a problem.

If I’m here to be a consumer. That’s fine.

I think, though, for better or worse, there will be some politics flying around this space for the coming few months.

Local to my current home, and my intended home, and more broad election theme coverage (such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme, should any candidates or party mouthpiece bother to mention such a thing). Role on September, so I can return to normal scheduling!


Patriotism, jingoism, racism. A continuum, or something else?

Here we are in Australia we are facing the longest Federal election campaign since Federation in 1901. Our Prime Minister has announced that we will go to the polls in September 2013, to vote for a local representative, and so decide the ruling party who will confirm their Parliamentary leader as the Prime Minister.

All this is news to a lot of Australians, who strangely believe they individually vote for the Prime Minister. However, that is a topic for another day…

It is however the reason I’m particularly interested in local political news just at the moment. Far more so than firearm laws in other countries, the outcome of the September election will have a great impact on weather we succeed in implementing a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in this country, or not. It does seem to be one of those things which will either ramp up from its’ current situation – or fade into obscurity should the Liberal party come to power (nearly inevitably, for at least two parliamentary terms).

This scheme should be of significant interest to all Australian residents. However, without a Labor government, it will be doomed to the scrap-bucket of “good ideas of the deposed Governments of the day.

Huh? Two for two. I’m still distracted, from this news article where the alternative Prime Minister of Australia proclaims that his party will “always speak with an Australian accent.” Given the multicultural makeup of Australia, and the portion of Australian residents and citizens who are either migrants, or children of migrants… I’m not sure if this is a great statement, founded on patriotism, misplaced pride, or just ignorance that a great chunk of Liberal voters are themselves actually first generation Australians who are successful businesspeople in their own right?

Price of living in Australia

This week, Australia has suffered through the kind of extreme heat we are well know for all over the world.

With that heat has come terrible fires in at least three states. Right now fires burn around a place I once called home, in a village named Oura.

My thoughts go out to anyone who is suffering loss at this time.

New Years Eve – in pictures

It seems I missed actually presenting any kind of record of the New Year at Westy Central.


I hope the coming of the new year was a time of happiness and togetherness for all of you.

From the football field, to life

Sydney Swans, AFL Premiers for 2012

Sport is a great metaphor for life, just as war is. My wife already discussed life through the lense of war, so I’ll think about sports on the day of the Grand Final for the Australian Football League.

What did the Swans and their opposition the Hawks teach us this year during the Grand Final?

  • There are many players. You can’t hate them you just have to work with them and the role they are playing.
  • Sometimes the playing field is not level. That might mean that sometimes you have an advantage, you need to look for that and play to it when it comes your way.
  • Everyone has a job to do. If you don’t do yours, you’re letting down yourself, your mates, and your supporters.
  • It’s not over – till you stop trying.
  • If you’ve stopped trying before it’s all over – if you start trying again, it’s still not over.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize and it might just come your way.
  • If your coach isn’t giving you the success you need, even after you give them several chances, it might be time for a new coach. Sorry, Roosey, that seems to be how life worked out for the Swans.

Well done to the Swans. Keep chipping away, you might share some success like they just did.

They will not grow old

Today, it was announced that five Australian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have been killed – in two separate incidents. 20120830-223928.jpg

The detail of those events are to be honest unimportant and nothing I can say will be as well informed as any media site. But the message of tonight’s post is to express support of the commitment that sees these people follow through with their service.

That these new incidents are terrible is beyond question. Should these events trigger a reconsideration of the government policies that has our troops overseas? Quite possibly. But regardless of those policies, it is the role of those who are deployed to follow through with the mission they are deployed on, to execute the policy of the Government of the day.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and comrades of these latest casualties of our involvement in this conflict.

Apples land near the tree

Yesterday, I visited a person to help them with a problem they were having. While I was there we discussed a few other topics as people normally do.

This person runs some events in support of the autism community and mentioned to me some unusual behaviour she had noticed at a recent event. It related to the behavior of a carer rather than a participant.

Unfortunately, any organisation which delivers services to minors, has to engage those kids through a guardian. Possibly a parent, possibly somebody else. So here is an organisation which is delivering services to people with physical, mental and emotional elements, by engaging the carers. Most of those carers are closely related to the people they are caring for, and when we take our child to be assessed to identify what might explain their behaviour we are told there is a heavy hereditary component to these conditions.

So can somebody please explain to me why it is surprising to people who run respite services, that some of the people who need those services the most, might be less than sociable? Might have anxiety or social phobias which strongly impact how they deal with others?

ANZAC Day 2012

97th anniversary of 1915 landing
I’m in Canberra. It’s a crisp start, with a clear starry sky. It’s fantastic, that means it’s dry, and I’ve had enough wet dawn services the last few years.

My aunty is kind enough to drop me to a bus. The first two buses are full well before I can get on board, great that so many Canberrans and visitors are motivated to say thanks and show respect for the sacrifices made by so many.

I start listening to the pop trash on the radio as some very cold people around me say not much – small jokes, a brief exchange about two-up games later in the day – and another bus arrives. This one’s empty and I’m straight on down the back of an Action bendy bus. I watch a guy younger than me dressed in a suit walk past with a rack of medals on his breast to make any crusty digger give pause. Along with everyone else joining in to say thanks, an older couple sit down as I move seats to make way for a young boy and his grandfather. Within a few moments these two guys recognise each other and they are chatting about their past ANZAC days in France, Belgium, and tours of battlefields in Europe. Other than these two guys the bus is quiet in the predawn chill. We drive past increasing numbers of cars parked by the roadside, and the trickle of people becomes a stream before the bus stops. More to follow…

National War Memorial, Canberra, Pre-dawn ANZAC Day 2012

National War Memorial, Canberra, Pre-dawn ANZAC Day 2012

I arrive with the stream of others off the buses, the parade ground is maybe 50 deep, the stands are full, so I go back the way I have come to stand on the hill. From the flagpoles i strand in the crowd looking down at the massed people, filling the parade square, in front of the podium which is lit not brightly, but… Enough to tell the darkness it is not welcome. The flags stand proud as the crowd continues to build, and shiver, waiting (how much harder would it have been to wait in the damp pre-dawn packed in with mates, wondering which you would see ever again? We can’t complain for our momentary discomfort.)
More to follow….

5.19. My clock must be wrong, as the voice of the catafalque party commander silences the crowd – he brings his guard to attention, moments later the snare can be heard accompanying as the slow march into position. As the rattle of the snare synchronises the outwards turn, the cockatoos take to the sky… Complaining about the pre-dawn rouse from their roost.
The honour guard bow their heads as the flags remind us yes it is windy. A hush settles… Then a voice on the PA tells us all there’s 5 minutes to go, and the solemn mood is half tossed aside – an explanation, unrequested, at a moment when mystery would have extended the moment.
More to follow….

The service proceeds, in the customary sequence; only the dignitaries change but the theme of what they have to say is now as laid down in tradition as the emu plume in the slouch hat of the tank trooper, harking back to the earlier days of the nation. We stand in silence, joining in for those brief few moments we can – showing how every year we become even more distant from a single god, a single faith and a single church as the numbers joining in for Abide With Me or the other hymns gets smaller each year. The snare rings loudly, and the catafalque party abandon their watch over the memorial, marching with paces ringing out as the three ranks mount then ascend the stairs before turning left across the façade of the memorial.

I think, after my early rise, bus ride, and shivering in the darkness, I have found two moments to hold onto: the call of the cockatoos, and the ringing out of those boots as the guard climbed those stairs, with the eyes of all assembled watching on.

We were all united, there to say, thank you.

Lest we forget.

National War Memorial, Canberra, ANZAC Day 2012

National War Memorial, Canberra, completion of Dawn Service ANZAC Day 2012

Another great excuse for shin-ding!

Most my regulars already know about the fantastic web group that Nicole English kicked off over at the Autism United Ning community. Over the long weekend we celebrated not just Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, but also a certain Bogan Princess  (complete with sash presentation). Happy Big For OH!

For the second time, a whole bunch of people who usually only meet each other on-line met at Club B, bringing along a whole bunch of citizens of the spectrum. This time, the weather kept everyone indoors… which did bring about a few concerns but they were pretty minor really! Far fewer trains than last time, but they still made an appearance. It was also nice to see another bloke, not just Westie & Brian. Maybe next time at Club B there’ll be another one… or two… no pressure!

It was a fantastic evening, and a fantastic opportunity to catch up with everyone shortly after the first confirmed “in the wild” sighting of Valerie Foley’s The Autism Experience in an actual book-shop. Budding author that she is, quite a few signed copies were presented, and there was a lot of discussion of how well travelled, dog-eared, and tabbed for future continuing reference each persons copy had already become.

Oh and to the management of Club B, it seems you’re definitely in the sweet spot for the Sydney chapter of Autism United (we need t-shirts, or bag patches or something). On behalf of all the Westies, I hope you open the club to us again and again…

…flooding rains…

This time around the Westies are in luck: not only are we high and dry but no-body remotely related to us has been flood afflicted.

For my early childhood, apparently being flooded in – or out – of the family farm was a routine event. There is a photo of me in a highchair well after the floodwaters had receded. The highchair is on top of the dining table. The water mark on the wall passes about the level of my chest.

And apparently that wasn’t even one of the bad floods! It was after a flood so normal that people could bother taking time to grab a Polaroid of the moment. (And yeah, it was a polaroid taken in 1970-something – so there’s nothing to put online… 😦 )

The evacuations used to be on a truck, or a tractor, or in an “army duck” amphibious vehicle.

This time around, the floods have truly devastated Queensland. They have knocked huge swathes of Victoria for a six. And close to where I previously lived, whole houses over a hundred years old were swept away near Lockhart. And of course, over in WA they were being burned out at the same time. Maybe, before you go giving all your charity money straight to the Queensland appeal, you can check to see if someone closer to home doesn’t need your help first?

For many of us the only issue is if there will be a new tax, or if insurers will increase all policies to pick up the tab for the queenslanders. Strange, I thought I already paid tax so the pollies had some change in the tin to rebuild infrastructure, and I thought insurers re-insured their risks so that my policy wouldn’t have to increase just because other policy holders make claims.

We’ll see where that comes to, and be thankful that this time around, we were left untouched and didn’t have to join the crowd in some evacuation centre.

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