• Japan Bound

    I've hit 30 and am yet to leave the country... unless you count Tassie or Philip Island as overseas ( gotta cross a big bridge over some sea to get there...)

    Someone somewhere thought it would be ace to grant me two amazing parentals who gifted me airfares to (and from) Japan... leaving on Boxing Day.

    I'm a bit excited... so excited I can't feel my face/sleep properly/get enough Japanese game show clips into my viewing.  Check this one out...

    I did try to learn the language but seem to only be able to master the ones that have limited context eg. "Can I please go to the toilet?" and "Sit down and be quiet."  Needless to say I have offended many cultured persons by practising my phrases in conversation.

    As I'll be there over New Years, I've been worded up on the Japanese cultural tradition of creating "lucky dip bags" from old store stock... that's right peeps... show bags full of Japanese plastics/snacks/clothes n stuff all at throw away prices.  Eeeeek.


    so much san rio, so little time...


    I have a ridiculously large suitcase that I did offer to transport a friend in on the provisor they made their own way home - I'll need that extra space for all the treasures/plastic crap.

    Large -suitcase

    ok. not that big... but that'd be ace...


    There is also the opportunity to nude up and hang out at the onsen... Japanese bath houses.  I'm thinking I'll suit up in my standard neck to toe bathing attire and join these fellas instead

    Japanese Winter looms and although it's still cold and wet in Ballarat's Summer atm, I'm finding it a bit tricky to buy Winter clothes to take with me... oh well... might just have to shop it out over the :) ...


    this? big dub & kmart don't stock it... sad face


    Anyhow... I'll update just before I head off and will post some of the adventure here in coming weeks.

    Sayoooooonara for now.

    Kato San.

  • 5 Minutes of Fun by Caitlyn Haintz

    Not feeling number one? Why not try five minutes fun.

    Five minutes of fun is a small exercise to release endorphins and overall raise your emotions. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and are released during exercise, excitement, pain, love and sexual activity. They produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being and release negative emotions in the body.

    I came up with the idea one day myself when I was feeling down and needed a boost. We ironically were learning about endorphins and the brain in my health class and I knew that to release endorphins it involved smiling and exercising amongst other things, so I thought to myself; why not do some exercise and smile and feel awesome about myself?

    The great thing about five minutes of fun is you can do whatever kind of exercise - star jumps, throw a Frisbee, skip, run, dance anything! And you don't have to go for five minutes; you can do it for half an hour, or two hours if you want. You can do it by yourself or a group of friends.

    But what the really good thing about five minutes of fun is, at the end of it you feel great in yourself and you feel happy. It really does boost your mood, and relieve stress from your body and mind.

  • work of A Dead Poet


    She'll be my love, she'll be my life. She'll be everything I ever liked.

    She'll be laying next to me, talking the words of philosophy.

    I'll be thinking, I'll be dreaming, of the places she's already taken me.

    Then together we will stare, and I'll whisper I love you sister.

    Just remember to hold my hand.

    When I wake you up and I'm in tears, just remember that for all these years I've held you the closest.

    And let you in.


    Bonnie Taffe - A Dead Poet

  • So you know...

    So You Know

  • Schools need more money!

    Schools need more than money

    By Melita Knight


    There has been much debate about funding for education and where more of it should go: public or private?  Those whose children attend public schools will of course argue that public schools should get more. There is no doubting that some schools desperately need funds and that educational resources will be much improved if government schools had more money. However, everyone has the right to a good and proper education. This includes private school students whose parents choose to send them there, parents who also pay taxes and should also have a say in where that money goes.

    We do need to make our public education system the best it can be though. There are more students at public schools than private schools, and they are not selective with who they allow in; anyone, regardless of religious beliefs, background, or income, can receive an education.

    Some people doubt the quality of public education, even though there is no solid data which proves that its students are, educationally, worse off than those with private education.

    To truly improve public education we need more than just funding. We need to create an environment that students actually want to go to. This does not just mean a place where they don't have to worry about being bullied, though this is very important. It also means a place where they are going to be engaged, where their interest will be captured by the content and presentation of the work. Not all students have a passion for learning, so we need to think of ways to get these kids interested in their work so that they can get the most out of their schooling.

    It is not just the school environment that is important, but also the home one. Importance needs to be placed on education and completing set work on time. Parents need to encourage and support their children's education, and create a space where they can get work done without distractions.

    Public schools need to be a place where intelligence and creativity can be nurtured. While those who struggle with their school work and who may be disadvantaged in other ways do need help and support, we cannot overlook those who are doing well academically or artistically. Private schools, with their smaller class sizes, are better equipped to give these students the attention they need to fulfil their potential. It is much harder in public schools to give students the attention they need, whether they are struggling or succeeding academically, or are somewhere in between, students will do much better if they get more attention.

    For students to get the best education they can, the government must also look at the quality of the content being taught. Schools in rural and regional areas have far less subjects to choose from than their metropolitan counterparts. Subjects such as history and geography which should be compulsory subjects are only available to some.

    Extra funding will always be needed and welcomed, but it is not the only thing that our public schools need.

    Are you a young person who wants their opinion heard? Lead On Ballarat is looking for young people to work with journalists to write on youth issues. For more information contact Lead On Ballarat:

  • Graffiti is often simply art in an inappropriate place

    What constitutes art? This is a question that has plagued mankind for centuries, and will continue to do so for many more. Yet it is an important one for the Ballarat community. There has been much talk online, in the paper, and around the community in relation to graffiti, particularly tagging. Many view it as vandalism, pure and simple. No questions asked. Graffiti, however, encompasses more than just tagging. Street art is another form of graffiti, one that requires talent and may comment on social or political issues. Any person can scribble their name on a wall; it takes an artist to be able to create a piece which makes you feel something other than anger at someone defacing private or public property.

    Tagging decreases the city's beauty and harms its reputation. Comparatively, street art can enhance the city's look and add to its culture in a positive manner. Despite the difference between the two, both are still considered illegal.

    In other communities around the world, the subject of legalising graffiti has been raised. However, if we legalise graffiti, it would legalise all that it encompasses: tagging, street art, and everything in between.

    An alternative is to create a space where artists are allowed to express their creativity. Placing graffiti walls around the city which people can write, draw, or paint on will give artists and aspiring artists somewhere to practice and put their work without fear of repercussions. Even setting up a space where their work can be displayed, an exhibition centre of sorts, or where they can work with other artists to improve their skills may give theses graffiti artists another focus for their creativity and graffiti skills.

    This solution may not entirely eradicate Ballarat's graffiti problem, no solution probably will. It can, however, decrease the amount of vandalism seen around the city. Educating graffiti artists on which buildings are heritage listed, private property, and other buildings which are complete no-nos to put their art on will make people more aware of where they can and cannot put their art.

    We must monitor graffiti hotspots and enforce punishments for those caught vandalising public and private property. They need to realise that graffiti is illegal, and that their actions have consequences.

    Some citizens of Ballarat also need to be educated about graffiti artists. There are people who say that graffitists need to stay in school or get a job. Yet it is not just youth who tag and do graffiti art. There are many adults who also do it, many which work as graphic designers during the day.  Type-casting graffitists will not help to solve the problem.

    We need to understand graffiti artists and why they do what they do so that we can find more and better ways to decrease the amount of graffiti seen in the city. By working with graffiti artists, we can find or create places where they can put their work without angering residents and vandalising property.

  • Youth Homelessness in Ballarat

    By Stephanie Jensen

    Homelessness is a persisting problem in the city of Ballarat. Events such as Christmas in July and the National Homeless Persons' Week in August have been established as permanent fixtures on the calendar to promote awareness and concern for those who consistently go unnoticed. As we leave the harsh winter months behind, those left still standing find themselves warmer, yet no better off. The Ballarat Soup Bus sees a consistent amount of homeless attendance, who are sustained by a nightly meal they have no hope of providing for themselves. These people are well below the poverty line, and are kept alive by hand-outs, foraging and occasional free meals. For most people, notions of homelessness will conjure up images of an elderly man, raving in the street, on his last bottle and paying the price for an irresponsible lifestyle and addictive personality.

    This stereotype has been irrevocably shattered, however, by the increasing problem of youth homelessness, showing that although so much has been achieved through the Salvation Army and donations, the problem of homelessness has nonetheless managed to traverse generations. And how couldn't it? The social, political and economic environment our youths face today is undeniably formidable; in an age where one would need a degree just to get a job in the mailroom at a law firm, what happens to those who can't afford (through lack of familial support or funds) a university education? There are many who are encouraged by unemployment rates, which haven't risen above five per cent for quite some time; yet a more qualitative perusal of such stats will inevitably paint a less positive picture: full-time positions, enough for a person to live on, are scarcer than ever, with a trend towards part-time, casual and relief work. Many of the jobs that offer such limited hours are also notorious for their lack of permanence and consistency, further limiting the choices that youth have today.

    But joblessness doesn't guarantee homelessness. Rather, it is one of the factors which contribute significantly to the economic slippery slope that leads to stretched household budgets and unstable home lives. While Ballarat residents are being constantly informed of the significant homeless presence in their own backyard, it becomes an issue of turning public concern into public action. We all know what homelessness looks like, but what are the causes? These can be as varied as they are damaging; this variety has the potential to muddy what we think we know about the homeless population. The face of homelessness has changed: the spectrum can include both employed and unemployed, students and professionals, PhDs and freelancers. What these unlikely victims lack is a solution that addresses the roots of the problems that led to their homelessness; whether they are on the street or couch-surfing, it creates a vicious cycle that is self-perpetuating often unbreakable. The denial of one of the basic constituents to human life, shelter, is both the result of devastation, and is devastating. Unless true actions are taken to make sustainable differences to these people's lives, this social problem may persist to reach an ever-more tragic end.


    Are you a young person who wants their opinion heard? Lead On Ballarat is looking for young people to work with journalists to write on youth issues. For more information contact Lead On Ballarat:

  • Searching for a home

    By Melita Knight

    People have four basic needs: food, water, clothing, and shelter. Unfortunately for 105 000 Australians, these necessities are non-existent.

    There are just over 400 people in Ballarat who are homeless, this is 47 in 10 000 people homeless compared to the state average of 42 per 10 000.

    Homelessness is not simply living without a home. It is living without safety, and security. Rough sleepers, couch surfers (people staying temporarily with friends), and people staying in emergency shelter are all regarded as homeless.

    Homeless youth from rural towns and cities tend to stay in their area rather than going to larger, more urban areas to seek help. Therefore it is even more important to try to help and reduce the amount of homeless in Ballarat.

    Services like the Uniting Care, Centacare and Peplow House provide people with short-term accommodation, and the Soup Bus provide a small meal after-dark to those who cannot afford it. But if we really want to help get people off the streets, we need to do more.

    There are many buildings around Ballarat which are simply sitting there collecting dust. If the council were to purchase one of these buildings and convert it into a housing and educating facility for the homeless, then it would go a long way to solving Ballarat's homeless problem.

    The old civic hall is one such building which the Ballarat Council already owns and are planning to redevelop anyway. If they redeveloped the old civic hall for homelessness purposes it would solve more than one problem.

    A centre for the homeless could not only provide shelter for those who have none, but it could provide educational services to help homeless people get back on their feet. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only 51 per cent of homeless youth in Victoria stay within the school system.  This is a worryingly low percent, and one we can change if we give them the chance to learn and study even if they can't afford it.

    By combining a homeless shelter with an education facility, the community would also be able to provide homeless and disadvantaged people with skills and knowledge to help turn their lives around. Cooking skills, business skills, social skills, and life skills, could all be taught in workshops throughout the week. The facility could also house a psychiatrist or therapist to help people deal with abuse-physical, emotional, drug and alcohol-which is one of the leading causes of homelessness.

    Everyone has the right to feel safe, secure, and to have access to basic human needs. When there are people who do not have these, not always through fault of themselves, the council and the community has the responsibility to help provide these.

    If we were to create a combined homeless shelter and education facility, then we will not only provide the citizens of Ballarat with more jobs and better access to education, but we can help to end the homeless problem.

  • Mair St Redevelopment

    Mair Street redevelopment

    By Georgie Hudson


    The redesign of 300-304 Mair Street is intended to stimulate Ballarat's economy for business and to help develop the community's growth, as well providing new office accommodation for over 1,500 office based jobs in the heart of the city. This may be beneficial for business development, but should business development be Ballarat's number one priority for the next few years?

    300-304 Mair Street is one of Ballarat's most memorable historic structures and is sadly also the most neglected. It was built in the 1950s after the Royal Prince Alfred Hall (which was built on Grenville Street in 1867) which was burnt down in 1953, which was suspected to be caused by arson.

    During its opening year in 1956 the hall was used as a venue for celebrations during the Summer Olympics for events hosted by Ballarat - rowing and kayaking. It was in the 1960s when the two sculptural bronze statues made themselves an addition to the site. A depiction of William Shakespeare as an actor/director was sculpted in 1960, and Sir Walter Scott was sculpted in 1961.

    For decades, 300-304 Mair Street was a major social venue in Ballarat, a venue for numerous concerts, balls, dances and graduations, as well as school examinations and exhibitions. It's a shame that such a memorable building in Ballarat is being torn down and replaced by office buildings when it could be used to benefit the community.

    The redevelopment of 300-304 Mair Street will provide the community of Ballarat with 270 new car parks as well as new meeting spaces within the new building for the community which is great, but what about the people who don't have the opportunity to own a car, or don't have the opportunity to be a part of company meetings, or don't even have the opportunity to read this article?

    This $40 million project should be rethought for the sake of the people in this community who don't have the opportunity for their voice to be heard. If this memorable hall is going to be torn down, it should at least be substituted with a place which supports the people in the community.

    In Ballarat alone, there are approximately 400 people living homeless every night, which may not seem that many compared to our population of approximately 96,000, but this is still well exceeding the state average. Forty million dollars could easily provide a place for these people to feel safe and welcome, and could help with providing education and job opportunities for these people who for whatever reason, didn't get that opportunity.

    This new building has forced Ballarat to borrow $30 million of the total cost. If the site were instead a project for the community itself, the cost could have been much lower. If the Ballarat community were building a place for our less fortunate and homeless citizens to take shelter, be provided with education and assistance with job employment opportunities, we would have been much more inspired to assist with the project, thus meaning there would be an extensive amount of community involvement, which would make us a much more coherent community as well as lowering the cost for the project.

    The hall should be used as a support site for the community, for the people who don't have the opportunities that some of us do have. To submit your ideas and suggestions, simply visit the City of Ballarat's website, head to the project pages and directly to the Community Advisory Panel, or email directly to

  • The Civic Hall

    The Civic Hall

    -Samuel H. Crombie

    Well as most of us are aware the council has revealed plans over time which involves the redevelopment of the Civic Hall that will cost 27 million dollars not including the car park facility estimated at another 13 million dollars. The idea is currently aimed at the production of a mass office space complex to provide space for 1500 office-based jobs.

    The project is aimed at furthering Ballarat's ever growing economy/community to encourage its growth, meaning more people and a bigger town. This will perhaps to help turn it into more of a city, like Melbourne for example. Statistically and money-wise, for Ballarat's economy, it is a great idea though myself personally, I put the health, quality of life of our children and future generation before any dollar bill.

    However, in saying this, not everyone will agree and no one can expect this of any town that everyone will agree with the council at all times. The same can be said in my case and in the interest of debate, I would suggest the use of the Civic Hall for the arts, youth services, functions, council events and anything which may bring and/or improve the quality of living in Ballarat for citizens of all ages. Transforming the Civic Hall into something like Ballarat Learning Exchange (BLX) in Camp Street would be amazing, as the problems today's youth are facing are growing as is the economic problems which suggests perhaps a happy medium could be had to solve both our problems?