Guest Who?

I know a lot of you have been following the story of Darrell and his struggle with his employer, DFAT. The following was written by Aaimi, Darrell’s mum.

I just… don’t even know what to say.

What a massive pack of cowards.


As a result of Darrell’s continuing battle against bullying within DFAT ranks, Darrell’s parents (Darrell Snr and Aaimi) started their own campaign to make the interested parties aware of the unacceptable level of leadership and management within DFAT and other public sector institutions. Their campaign flag ship is the Anti-Bullying and Discrimination League of Australia (ABDLA). Under this banner and with the aid of social media, they began to spread the message of their son’s plight and the inadequacies of a range of senior level Australian public servants. In order to further their crusade, Darrell Snr and Aaimi obtained, through a family member, some pointed but reserved merchandise (T-Shirts, pens, pencils etc.,) advertising the following message, ‘Stop Bullying in DFAT’. This material was sent to a number of politicians from both sides of the House to inform and to engender a reaction. In addition, a number of individuals were sent an e-mail as follows:

“As part of our anti-bullying campaign we have produced numerous promotional items to raise awareness of bullying and discrimination issues in Australia. Particularly, as we understand, conducted by yourself and others in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

We are freely distributing this material widely (internationally), noting you as a person who contributes to bullying and harassment in Australia and potentially the international community.


The Anti-Bullying and Discrimination League of Australia”

Meant to be provocative, Darrell Snr and Aaimi to date have not received a single reply or rebuttal to these e-mails.

In addition to the above actions, a partition to stop the bullying in DFAT was also started via social media, which has received support from people both here in Australia and from overseas.

Without any reasonable preliminary investigation, Mr Peter Varghese, Secretary DFAT, through Mr Chris Moriatis, First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division, has suspended Darrell Jnr pending an investigation into possible breaches of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct.

Darrell Snr upon hearing what had happened to his son attempted to contact Mr Varghese in order to clarify that his son had nothing to do with the Anti-Bullying and Discrimination League of Australia activities. Darrell Snr was told that there was no one available in Mr Varghese’s office/area, but someone would return his call. Darrell Snr is still waiting for that call. The office of Senator Bob Carr (Minister for DFAT) was also contacted, but Darrell Snr was told the matter was an internal DFAT issue that should be referred to Mr Varghese. (Somewhat difficult when he won’t accept your call!).

Darrell Snr and Aaimi will continue to promote the fight against bullying and discrimination in the workplace and demand leadership from executive level APS throughout Australia. Further attempts will be made to reverse the suspension of their son and to seek assurances that bullying is investigated and offenders and their supporters are held accountable.

Who is responsible for bullying in the workplace? There at least three groups responsible for bullying in the workplace; the actual individual who initiates or continues the bullying; those that are aware of the bullying and do nothing; and senior management or in the case of DFAT, the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries and Executive level officers. In the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Enterprise Agreement 2011-1014, the following statement is made:

Harassment, bullying and discrimination are unacceptable in DFAT and contrary to the APS Values and Code of Conduct. The department is committed to providing a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace, where all employees are responsible for promoting a work environment free from harassment, bullying or discrimination. Managers and supervisors have particular responsibilities for implementing the department’s Workplace Diversity Program as set out in the HRM, being alert to diversity issues in the workplace and taking timely action in response to reported or observed harassment, bullying or discrimination. The department does not tolerate behaviour which undermines morale and productivity and which, if not dealt with, can harm the wellbeing and performance of individuals and work units.

The fact that the Secretary and his senior executive team cannot honour this laudable sentiment indicates that they have failed in their responsibilities as the appointed leaders of the Department.


My challenge to Aussie journos still stands… does anyone have the balls for this?


How Not To Write A Guest Post.

by Lori Dwyer on March 1, 2013 · 5 comments

There’s nothing much I can say here, really. Take it away, Mel…


I spoke to Lori quite some time ago about writing a post her blog. This blog. She threw the doors open and said I could choose my topic. Write about anything, she said, go nuts. Or some version of that. I have adhered to her instructions perfectly and driven myself around the bend and back again attempting to write THE perfect guest post for her. I think, in the end I did it. It’s a perfect balance of me and her. It’s us in a blog post. It came to me one day as I drank another litre of coffee, tapped away at the keyboard for the millionth time. And it was perfect.

The selection of a topic was the first hurdle I encountered. What do I write about? My blog is about me, me, me, me, which hardly translates to someone else’s blog. So I considered writing something like 5 steps to get and stay happy. But it seemed trivial in the face of the serious business that is this blog. And my friends, well they tell me, that I write better if I’m not trying too hard. I considered writing about my life. But most of you don’t know me, so that’s probably not that interesting to you. There’s no relatedness. No connection {yet! I’ll get you. Love me, love me!}. I considered writing about the darkness, when it creeps up on you. My own struggles with bipolar and anxiety. And I did. But I went and posted it on my blog. Whoops.

In the end, I decided to write a post about what goes through the mind of one blogger when you give her an open forum and free rein. So my very next concern is delivering something of quality. Of substance. Or at very least a post that entertains. I post once or twice a day on my own blog, all the good stuff goes there {brilliant, riveting, hilarious. Promise}. Sometimes I write a post and I’m like, meh, I’ll keep that one. To write a guest post is a selfless act indeed. To hand over something that is good, maybe even better than what you have written for your own blog in a while, to someone else to publish is hard. And if you ask my Mum, well, I just don’t share very well. But in spite of this I start to write anyway. I start to form the words, they appear on the screen one after another after another.

Then come the vanity concerns. What if they don’t get me? Worse. What if they don’t LIKE ME!? What if her readers are annoyed at the sudden hand over of this space to a new face? What if, panic, gag, they demand Lori reclaim the space and purge me from it immediately? All concerns triggered by my ego and that little voice inside me that reminds me day after day in its finicky little voice in my head, that no, no one likes you, you’re not very smart and I think your nose is too big. Bet you’ve had your own encounter with that fellow. He’s a jerk.

So it takes a while and soon I just let go and let God. Or, you know, whoever is in charge of such things. I think deep down it could be me, but don’t tell anyone. And I write. I write about my fears, my triumphs and I write about the things that make us the same person, connected by our human being’ness. I write this post and I realise, it’s kind of perfect for Lori’s beautiful blog. It’s a post that is what it is. It’s beautiful in its own way, lilting like a song, challenging too. It talks to the frailness of the human spirit, the need for community and for love. The desperate searching if those things are lacking.

It turns the corner and my blog post about guest posting becomes a lesson in life’s lessons. It becomes a lesson is letting go of the things you can’t control. It’s a lesson in friendship and the things we do to help out our friends. It becomes about community and love and personal battles. It’s a manifesto of blogging from the core of your being and allowing all things their time. Seasons change and all that. And just like that, it’s done.

It’s perfect. I send it off. I smile, content.


This is not that post.

This is just a tribute.



Melissa Walker Horn is the chief blogger at Suger Coat It, a blog about living the sweet life. Known as Suger on her blog, Melissa loves her family, too much butter on fresh bread, laughing with your back teeth showing and anything with stripes on it. A social media addict and consultant, you’ll find her anywhere you search for Suger with an E



Guestage- Can You Really Have It All?

by Lori Dwyer on February 21, 2013 · 2 comments

I like interesting people… meet The Plumbette.


Can you really have it all? I’ve asked myself this question so many times because I WANT it all, but I’m pretty sure I can’t HANDLE it all at once.

My name is Rebecca Senyard, and I am a female plumber or plumbette, a stylist, a blogger, a wife, a mother, and soon-to-be mum to another bub. The more I get older, the more responsibilities I either get handed to me or throw myself into.

Being a female plumber can be daunting but it can be extremely satisfying helping people in a practical way. Did I always want to be a plumber? No. As I grew up and watched my dad run a plumbing business, the passion for plumbing did not get passed down to me, but the determination to build a business that assisted others did.

Just to be up front now, I’m not a tomboy and I’m not gay. Never have been or intend to be. ;) No discrimination or judgement here from ladies who are! I love my dresses, my shoes, make-up and shopping like any other woman and just because I choose to work in a male dominant industry, doesn’t mean I have to ‘grow balls’ to be noticed or taken seriously. I get noticed without trying. I stick out like a sore thumb, but for the right reasons – for doing my job well and offering an alternative choice for stay at home mum’s who wish to use the services of a female plumber.

rebecca truck photo 002

Since becoming a mum, I have enjoyed being a plumber more. I love interacting with our clients, assisting them with their plumbing problems and being able to work when I want. I work with my dad as a ‘dad and daughter’ plumbing team. I will admit that there are some plumbing jobs I just don’t have the strength to do on my own, but working with my dad means I won’t get stuck, and since my dad is semi-retired, it allows him to keep active too.

Doing my plumbing apprenticeship was one of the hardest experiences I have ever gone through. It’s no cliché that apprentice boys like to talk dirty. Porn magazines were the norm at TAFE, as was the swearing and rough talk. For me, I found TAFE the hardest part of my apprenticeship to deal with. For some strange reason, I wanted to ‘fit in’ and yet, the values these blokes had were so far below my own. It made me realise how important it is to all of us to be accepted and to not feel left out.

In the last year of my apprenticeship, I had to finish 3 blocks of TAFE (approximately 12 weeks). Every lunch break, the apprentices would have lunch at the local pub that had topless waitresses. Totally not my scene. So I went to the library and decided to Study a Diploma in Fashion Styling. It was completely random and opposite to plumbing and I loved every part of the course. I started a part-time styling business called Styled By Bec – really as a back-up if I ever chose to leave plumbing.

Nowadays, I work 1 to 2 days a week on the tools as a plumber, I blog about being a plumber and offering advice about problems I come across in my trade on The Plumbette, I style clients and sell jewellery on as per client demand and I have a fabulous husband whom I have been married to for over 7 years and 1.5 kids! I love my life, and enjoy all the hats I choose to put on. My constants are my husband and my daughter (and soon to be baby). They take priority – all the other roles assist with being able to pay for the bills or keep my mind active. As most mum’s know it can be hard work being a full-time stay at home mum and sometimes… it can be boring.

I’m not perfect. I struggle with balancing work and family. My life isn’t perfect. I know that life can be hard, but we have a choice to be real and be positive no matter what is going on in our lives.

I have faith in God. I always believe that things happen to us for a reason and God is able to do immeasurably more than we can think or imagine. I have never felt more close to God than when I was struggling to do my apprenticeship. Four years later He honoured me with Dux Plumbing Apprentice of the Year for 2009 and the Judges Outstanding Achievement award at the Construction Skills QLD Awards in the same year. There are always rainbows after the rain, but sometimes we miss them because we are so focused on how the rain is stopping us from getting to where we want to be.

So can we really have it all? Yes and no. I think it comes down to choice – choosing to be content with what can’t be changed, and changing what we can despite the risk.


Rebecca Senyard is Brisbane’s Award winning plumbette! She started her apprenticeship in 2006 and received her provisional plumbing and drainage license early 2011.  The Plumbette is Rebecca’s blog on all things plumbing, including experiences working in a ‘man’s world’. It’s Plumbing worth blogging about! This blog is written for men and women who haven’t a clue about plumbing and want to know more, for plumbers and apprentices who can relate to Rebecca’s experiences, and for girls who wish to embark on a career as a plumber or in any other male-dominated profession. It’s really for anyone who wants to read it and be inspired or thankful that they don’t get to deal with what plumbers deal with everyday!