Relish the Happiness of Playing Solo

The fun doesn’t have to stop when you’re alone.

Your fun sensor doesn’t have to switch to ‘out of office’ just because friends aren’t available. Being alone can release pathways to new and different adventures, where your heart and mind can feast on a pleasure exchange reserved solely for you.


‘Play is being joyfully immersed in the moment, and as adults, we rarely do that.’ Catherine Tamis-LeMonda



Image credit: Clayton Ewerton from Unsplash

What fills your soul?

I’m not asking what you’re good at. What do you love doing?

I love colours and I love to paint, but I’m no maestro. I have a feeble awareness of textures and effects achievable with paint, but these are not important when I’m painting for fun because the outcome is not for scrutiny, it’s just for me. It doesn’t have to look like the image in my head. In fact, it rarely does. Sometimes there’s no image in my head at all – it’s just about the joy of splooshing colours together. Like the joy of creating the word splooshing.

As a kid, what did you do without being asked?

What did you do before school and responsibilities dictated your attentions elsewhere?

Did you love riding your bike or climbing trees?

Were you forming secret societies with the neighbourhood kids?

Did you love making a mess in the kitchen?
These could be clues as to what will bring you joy in the now.

Art links me back to the free part of my soul. Painting, drawing, moulding, building or crafting. These were things to which I simply gravitated in my spare time, because they filled my tank and let me just be me.

3 Proven Traits of a Playful Adult

The ‘Adult Playfulness Trait Scale’ uses a series of questions to work out how playful you are. It was designed using a combination of personality research and play literature. The conclusion landed on three human abilities that work as our internal play generators.

  1. Are you a fun seeker?

Is Fun a VIP in your life? When you see fun as important, you’ll take the initiative to make it happen. And when fun happens to you, you’ll value it enough to embrace it rather than push it away.


Image credit: olives from Pixabay


  1. Can you break the rules or do you let worry about consequences inhibit your fun?

There are always barriers to feeling free enough to have fun. You might worry about what people will think. You might have been raised to think that playfulness shows immaturity. You might believe you have no time for play. A playful adult will be able to navigate these obstacles and break through to the fun side.

  1. How spontaneous are you?
    Will you do something on impulse? Playful adults tend to go with the moment into unplanned activities. They allow a certain amount of careless flitting after shiny things – just for the fun of it.

These three playfulness factors are partly linked to our personality. Some people simply are more impulsive and therefore will more easily follow pleasure pathways. On the flip side, some of these playfulness factors are learned, so they can be nurtured. If we want to, we can get better at being a playful individual.

Why Nurture Your Ability to Play Solo?

  • You think differently in a different space.

Some of your unique interests may not be shared by those with whom you hang out. A run on the beach might be in your giddy dream zone but it’s someone else’s worst nightmare. Solitary play means you can get lost in what you love to do without worrying about others.


  • It’s called ‘flow’.

That zone where time disappears and you become totally immersed in the enjoyment of what you’re doing. It’s a form of play. Science shows us that when you’re in flow, you enter into deep concentration and the chatter of your brain dies down. In this time your brain increases its information-processing speed, stretching your mind to accomplish something. The result can be a feeling of being happy (even ecstatic), motivated and fulfilled.

Image credit: Alex Harvey from Unsplash


  • You aren’t dead.

You need to have spaces in which you, as an individual, can light up and sparkle, relishing being alive. Responsible tasks and tedious jobs don’t have to take up all the space. Finding these channels of fun wards off depression and facilitates happiness.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard.

  • Play is a way of being kind to yourself.

Taking time out to relax with something that brings you joy reduces stress hormones. It’s a form of mindfulness, which strengthens your ability to cope with stress, restores your creative energy and grows your capacity to sustain joy.

  • Your 10-year-old self will thank you.

Remember when you couldn’t wait to be an adult because then you could do whatever you wanted? You’re that adult now. You get to choose to eat dessert before dinner, or go to bed late, or to buy a plane ticket to the Great Barrier Reef, or to go to a class of your choosing. Don’t let your younger self down.

9 Playful Ways to Feed Your Heart and Soul Through Play

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  • Collect quotes, posters, digital wallpaper or cartoons that make you laugh. Dot them around your living spaces.
  • If cooking meals each night is becoming tedious, try a new recipe once a week or once a month.
  • Brighten up your commute to work (for those of you still commuting!). Find a fun game, or challenge, or comedy podcast to make it enjoyable. Make it your laugh-out-loud or sing-out-loud time.
  • Build short play breaks into your day – even your working day. Five or ten minutes are all you need to strum a ukulele, play on a balance board, make an origami creation, spin a yo-yo, toss juggling balls, or scoot around the block or the building on a grown-up kick scooter. Set an alarm to get into the habit, if you need play reminders at first.


Image credit: Anastasia Vityukova from Unsplash

Break the Rules

Change something you loathe into fun. Anything can turn into play if we adopt a playful mindset.

  • Getting fit doesn’t have to be punishment. Find a fun way to work up a sweat. Do an obstacle course in your local park. I recently discovered the ‘Healthy and Active’ section on my council website, which includes group exercise in the park, kayaking and dragon boat racing. Your avenue might be an adult dance class or martial arts.
  • Dance and sing while you clean. A little butt-wiggling at the sink, or taking full advantage of the acoustics while cleaning the shower, or a few extravagant twirls dancing with the vacuum-cleaner, can turn dull tasks into entertainment. If that’s not your thing, then at least make sure you listen to a comedy or feel-good music while you’re doing the dirty work.
  • At work, find desk-sized versions of game favourites – Scrabble, Jenga, Connect Four. Go and disrupt a colleague to play with you if needed.


Don’t Overthink It

  • Disengage from devices and digital connection. Give yourself permission NOT to put your fun activity on social media, but to fully absorb, enjoy and hoard your magical moments to yourself. It will free you to fully engage with what you’re relishing, without worrying about what others think.
  • Hide a secret stash of things that fuel your frivolity. A toy box, of sorts, that you can rumble through whenever you need a pick-me-up. It could include:
    • photos
    • fun childhood toys (poppers, silly string, a Slinky, bubbles)
    • sensory things that feel nice (vanilla scented anything, a foot soak, a stress ball, a massage roller)
    • a kooky musical instrument like a kazoo
    • something crafty like a pack of washi tape spools or a sand art kit.
    • an inspirational read – a poem, or book of quotes, or a favourite story

Collect these ‘shiny things’ over time. Don’t think too hard about whether it should go into the box or not – no justification is necessary.

Image credit: Braydon Anderson from Unsplash


Over to You

This blog series began because you, my readers, almost unanimously voted for the topic of relearning to play. Perhaps this pandemically-challenged year has left us all crying out for a good dose of fun as relief from the tensions of constant change. 

A little recap:

As this series comes to a close, I hope that rediscovering the benefits of a playful life has given permission once again to dally daily in the delights of play.

Please tell me about it.

  • Of the adult playfulness traits, which one is easiest for you?
  • What activities are you going to try to expand your individual play repertoire?
  • What was your best insight from this blog series?

Inspirational References:


Discover the Social Wealth of Play

Give and take in playful connection means everyone shares in the fun – adults included.


Connection with others is a basic human need. Whether it’s…

the invitation to what’s about to kick off,

collaboration backwards and forwards,

the jesting in friendly competition,

or bonding activities that stick in our memory,

… social play brings valuable human connection.


‘You can discover more about a person in one hour of play than you can in a year of conversation.’ – Meredith Sinclair


I was running around Sandgate roundabout trying to keep my eyes open despite the pelting rain, to pass the baton to Spiderman. That memory stuck with me. Believe it or not, this charity event with my workmates was full of merriment. Complete with grass skirts, wigs and other crazy accessories we’d rummaged, we formed a superhero team that splish-sploshed around a relay track. I cheered Wonder Woman with her rain-smudged make-up, and my team cheered me on as I brought the baton round the next leg, complete with dripping cloak. We were tired by the end, but it made us all the more heroic. It was a day of breaking barriers to experience a different kind of freedom together.

No normal clothes.

No normal work get-together.

No taking cover in the rain.

The companionship of being ridiculous together forged friendships through shared history-making that day. It remains a memory we all smile at.


We Need These Skills to Play Well With Others

For some of you reading this, the idea of silliness or doing something for no good reason can feel either immature or unproductive. Our beliefs on how important fun is, come from what was modelled to us as children or how our culture sees play. They can be legitimate joy-stoppers.

Some parents are more playful than others.

Some cultures are more recreational than others.


Caroline Maguire, a social skills expert, devised something called the ‘Play Better Plan’ for struggling kids. In it she asks parents to reflect on their own social skills. These are some of the things kids need to see —and, of course, we need to have seen in our own parents— to successfully play with others:

  • We manage our emotions rather than let them manage us
    When we’re having a ‘big emotion’ like disappointment, we don’t expect everyone in the room to change for us. We have strategies to cope without becoming overwhelmed.
  • We can read a room
    We can tell the prevailing emotional tone in a room, and work out how to
    participate in the activity. We can adjust our energy level, tone or expectations to match the setting.
  • We can meet people halfway
    We can reciprocate with a smile, a gesture or answers to questions, and we will make the effort to step in from the sidelines when that’s needed.
  • We understand social cues and respond to them
    It’s those unwritten rules that we learn via facial expressions and body language, while being aware of our own non-verbal messages. We pay attention to these to help us ‘tune in’ to someone else’s thoughts.
  • We can see things through someone else’s eyes
    We can understand someone else’s perspective, which helps us understand their reactions to what we do and say.

Image credit: Egor Myznik from Unsplash

  • We can be flexible and adapt
    We understand that keeping a happy friendship or group is sometimes more important than being right. We accept we may not always be right, and that sometimes it’s appropriate to compromise or not to argue.
  • We can change our communication style based on our audience.
    We’ll interact differently with a five-year-old than we will with a good friend our own age. We’ll filter private and public information, and adjust what we talk about based on the interests of those around us.

If any of these social skills are challenging, playfulness may not come as easily to you. But the upside is that play, even as a grownup, is a powerful way to strengthen these skills and strengthen relationships in the process.


Want to build connection with others? Play will help you do that.

Whether it’s with your children, your spouse, your friends or your workmates – a bit of fun together goes a long way in bridging relationship gaps or simply forming better bonds.


Image credit: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen from Unsplash

  • Play invites connection
    There’s nothing like a good laugh among strangers to help break the ice in introductions. Have you noticed how the person who can make people laugh draws others in?When there’s something joyful in the midst of us, it can serve as a connection point. Like that pack of cards dealt out at the work lunch table, where Newbie is automatically included into the friendly banter.
  • Play grows your ability to empathise
    Whether it’s beach volleyball or Monopoly or a girl’s night out, having fun together means being alert to each others’ reactions.- Judging something from another’s perspective. Will they buy that property on this turn or the next?
    – Taking turns or cooperating: “Your ball!”
    – Choosing the right communication: the topics we select with our girlfriend who needs cheering up.When we’re playing well together, we’re building relationships by seeing situations through each others’ eyes.
  • Play lets you gently test relationships
    In play it’s okay to have both winners and losers. Differences can be sorted out without it all turning nasty, because it’s not about the outcome, it’s about enjoying something together. An atmosphere filled with good humour is a safe setting to explore relationship boundaries.How much teasing can that person take?
    How much physical touch is okay?
    How relaxed can I be with this group?If anyone oversteps a boundary during play, then “Sorry, I was only playing,” provides a graceful exit.


21 Playful Ways to Build Your Relationships


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With your family:

  • Make a family playlist together of fun things everyone would like to do. Include big adventures and small things that are easy and inexpensive. Doesn’t matter if you don’t get through the list, it’s just fun to have ideas that keep you stimulated.
  • Go on adventures together. Geocaching is a free and fun way to get out and about discovering and giving away ‘treasures’. Create scavenger hunts in your backyard or neighbourhood.
  • Go on a picnic with a difference. With younger kids, have a teddy bears’ picnic. For older kids, give them a REAL camera with lenses and shutters, and get them to take nature shots.

With your friends:

Image credit: NeONBRAND

  • Organise sport – volleyball, ice-skating, table tennis, cricket, badminton. I’ve recently discovered the inclusive fun of disc golf – like putt-putt, but with frisbees.
  • Have a retro-games night – play all the games your grandparents would have played, and ensure it’s a ‘devices off’ night. Mahjong, gin rummy, backgammon, Cribbage, Bingo. And you’re away.

With your partner:

  • Surprise them with a picnic dinner in the park or by the sea. Or you could both go on an organised mystery picnic.
  • Hire a personal chef for a few hours and have them teach you how to create a favourite dish. Then have a date night in when the chef leaves.


Break the Rules


With your family:

  • Who says you can’t beat your kids at their own games? Surprise them by getting good at their favourite video games, have nerf gun wars. Alternately do craft or baking or dress-up with them, or go bike-riding with them.
  • Restaurants can happen at home. Create a mock restaurant where the kids do the meal and serve it to the grownups.


With your friends:

  • Go somewhere the scout group would go – kayaking or rock climbing or archery or whitewater rafting. Without kids.
  • Go on all the rides at a theme park – without kids. Release your inner mojo at a trampoline park, let off steam at a go-cart track, scream down the slides of an inflatable park on water.
  • Don’t just watch a movie together. Dress up for themed movie nights based on a chosen movie – sleeping bags and firepit for campout movies, bling for glitz and glamour movies, or a colour based on the movie.

With your partner:

  • Get scared together. Do the Storey Bridge tour or go to the top of the highest building. Venture into a haunted house. Watch a scary movie.
  • You know that thing you’ve always wanted your partner to do with you but you’re not sure they’ll agree? Surprise each other on secret goofball dates.
  • Break your mould and do something utterly different together – a Segway tour, sing in a pub choir, go on an overnight hike, or try line dancing.


Don’t Overthink It

With your family:

  • Pick out some mystery items at the supermarket and get creative together on what to do with them.
  • Your kids love it when you can act their age. Have a full conversation with them in an alien language or go ape with them in the local playground.

Image credit: Rudy Anderson from Pixabay

With your friends:

  • Do something spontaneous. Call friends up on a whim (Ironically, it might help if you prep your friends for a spontaneous adventure ‘sometime’). Let friends in the group take turns introducing the group to ‘my favourite thing’.


With your partner:

  • Play in the dirt. An outside project that requires getting sweaty, dirty and tangled up together may require a hot shower afterwards.
  • Cook something together that you can’t even pronounce. Here’s an easy cocktail to get you going: Caipirinha with Cahaca
  • Paint a huge canvas together.


Over to You

What relationships would you like to build or strengthen?

What fun could you use to build that connection?

You could be that fun person who makes friends and draws others in – if you get good at play. Consider this your permission to play.

And please tell me about it.

  • What group activities bring you the most joy?
  • What new playful activity are you going to try?
  • Do you have a photo or idea to share?


Inspiring References:

How Play Lights up Your Brain


Give yourself a break from performance pressures by adopting a playful mindset. Let fun sharpen your mind and memory.


Image by Clay Banks from Unsplash

As kids we told stories, created games, and went on adventures in our backyards – just for the fun of it. Our brains lit up and grew as we played. As adults, the need to achieve in so many areas of life mean many of us have forgotten how to do something ‘just for the fun of it’. Remembering our playful selves not only activates our creative brain, but helps us respond more flexibly and work smarter, leaving more time for… fun.



Artist: Allison Adams. See more of her Groundbreaking Girls collection here.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to be a very serious person, right? As the first woman to become an associate justice of the US Supreme Court she was feisty. When it came to justice, according to one of her clerks, she was pretty scary. Yet, with her recent passing, her life is warmly remembered for her care, wisdom and advocacy. She says play helped her.

She said she owes her success in law school to her daughter, Jane. After going to a full day of classes, she would return home to her 14-month-old daughter just as the nanny left at 4pm. This was Ruth’s play time, until Jane fell asleep. It was their pleasure time together. After this break, Ruth could continue with the books again.

So I felt each part of my life gave me respite from the other. And I wasn’t so overwhelmed thinking that my whole world was the law school. I think I had a better balance, better sense of proportions of what matters.



A Time to Remember

When you think about how much of your day as a grown-up is taken up with To Do lists, goals and tasks, it comes as no surprise that in our performance-based culture we’re losing the knack for creating and imagining. Things like:

Exploring a pathway without knowing where it’s going.

Wondering about something as we turn it over in our hands.

Daydreaming about our dreams coming true.


Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

Carl Jung, the founder of analytic psychology, once looked for a way to retrieve his childhood creativity. He said of himself,
The small boy is still around, and possesses a creative life which I lack. But how can I make my way to it?” His solution was to go back to the play activities he’d enjoyed as a child.

Modern-day play expert, Dr Stuart Brown, says the same thing. He encourages adults to go back as far as we can to our clearest, most joyful, playful image that we have, and build from the emotion of that. He speaks of lives transformed by unlocking passions and inner drives from these happy memories.


So How Will Play Sharpen Up Your Brain?

Rediscovering play not only reintroduces a sense of wonder and revelry into our lives—it’s significantly good for our brains too.


  • Play Activates Your Brain All Over

By its nature, play promotes curiosity and exploration. Very often it involves doing something with your hands. As soon as your hands reach out and begin manipulating something in 3D, the cerebellum is fired up, which sends impulses to your frontal lobe, where your executive skillskick in. When this happens, you’re developing your working memory.


Image by Dominik Scythe from Unsplash

The simple acts of mixing cookie dough, tinkering inside the bonnet of a car, or playing the piano are physiologically tuning up your brain. The neurological processes involved are making you a better problem solver.


  • If it was Fun, You’re More Likely to Remember It

Adult learning is more likely to stick when it’s something enjoyable, like trying out a new hobby or exploring a new place.

When last did you fun-learn? A time you



heard stories or

did ‘hands on’ stuff

… on a course or in a meeting or at training. Compare how much you remember of that to how much you remember of the last news bulletin you watched. The playfulness in fun-learning stimulates your contextual memory, which is your recall of an event.

  • Play Triggers Creativity and Innovation

Dr Brown advises that rather than slotting play appointments into our schedules, we should aim for a state of play to be infused into all that we do – work, home, family, wherever. Engaging in play through our bodies, through objects, and with other people will enrich our lives by changing the way we think.

Workplaces are catching onto this. Neuroscience now backs the advantages of playfulness for increasing productivity and innovation. More employees are being allowed out to play during a working day. Whether a snatch of table tennis, a group relaxation session or an afternoon social, playful employees are less likely to become overwhelmed by work. Studies find playful workers to be happier, more satisfied at work and more likely to come to work.


11 Playful Ways to Stimulate Your Synapses


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Image by SplitShire on Pixabay

  • Write a limerick about someone you know and send it to them.
  • Print a heap of your favourite phone photos and get family members or housemates to do the same. Pile the pics in a bowl on a coffee table for people to pull out at random. Each will have a story to tell.
  • Try a new hobby. Learn to play your favourite song on a guitar or knit your first scarf.
  • Eat a fruit or vegetable that you’ve never tried before.


Break the rules

  • Who says you have to speak normally? Next time you’re at a restaurant only talk with an accent to the wait staff.
  • Dream crazy dreams. Pretend you have no limitations. Create an inspiration board full of pictures and words portraying your heart’s greatest desires, and display it somewhere you’ll see it often. You never know…
  • Who said you’re not dance video material? Make a dance video with a friend to your favourite tune and roll on the floor laughing as you watch it. This father and daughter get the vibe.

Don’t Overthink It

  • Play along with a child, completely following their lead. Don’t make any suggestions, just do exactly what they do or what you’re told. If they seem stuck on what to do with you, ask a question, starting with “I’m wondering …?” And ending with, “What do you think?”
    See how Tom Hanks answers kids’ questions, with a good dose of ‘tomfoolery’.
  • Up-cycle something. Transform a favourite old T-shirt into a bag, or paint a piece of jewellery. Explore thrift stores, garage sales or your own cupboards for something that needs a new lease on life. Imagine, create and play. Add things, chop things, twist, paint or glue. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out – find glee in the process. Check out these up-cycled clothes for ideas.
  • Take a bus or train to a town or city you’ve never visited. Just go to the station and get on the next one that pulls in. See if you can find the most fun thing to do in that place.
    OR If you’re not quite that brave, check your local ‘What’s On’ and pick an activity to attend.
  • You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never been brave enough to do? Rollercoaster rides, fly in a wind tunnel, touch a snake or paint with oils, for example. Grab some people you trust, let your hair down and gambol in new experiences.


Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Over to You

You now have a neuroscientific excuse to play. It’s good for your brain.

Take a trip down memory lane to remember your favourite play activities

Take a play break and light up your brain.

Australians, we have a long weekend to take our brains for a play spin.

Let’s play!

And please tell me about it.

  • What’s your earliest happy childhood play memory?
  • How do you play in your workplace?
  • Do you have a photo or idea to share?

Inspirational References:

Joy is What We’re After


Rediscover the wonder. Howl with laughter. Find glee in the simple things. Grow your happy. Play.


In a world that’s peppered a little too heavily with depression, anxiety and stress, few of us would refuse an extra dose of happiness. Playfulness is the booster shot. Fortunately, your capacity for fun is not something that requires a fairy godmother’s magic wand. It’s a space within yourself that has plenty of potential to grow. Sometimes it just needs a little nurturing.


Image credit: Ryan McGuire from Pixabay


When I worked with children with severe autism and intellectual disabilities, I learned a fascinating thing: it was often the parents, not the children, who needed to learn to play nicely. When children can’t speak, it’s the gleam in the eye that matters—that moment swollen with anticipation when both know what the other is going to do. That’s when the joy bursts begin.

I witnessed those profound moments when parents first learned they COULD communicate back and forth with their child. They discovered the wonder of shaking a shaker in unison, peeking out from behind a blanket in random explosions of “There you are!”, or collapsing in a heap together at the end of a song, in an eruption of giggles.

The adults needed to slow right down, stop doing stuff every 3 seconds and stop filling all the space talking.

The reason this worked? The emotional connection with another is the essential first step to many other things a child needs to develop, including playing.

Image credit: Robin Higgins from Pixabay


This gleam in the eye for grown-ups might be that knowing smile from an inside joke in conversation, or the wink you gave as you walked by, or the secret sign you recognised from across a room.

Discover The Playful Rat

Neuroscientists Pellis & Pellis ran play experiments with rats to uncover patterns formed through play-fighting. They found that rats need play to learn survival skills, but it wasn’t through honing movement, thinking or social skills necessarily.

Play helped them learn to adjust their emotions based on the unpredictable scenarios it presented (Apparently rats have feelings too).

Through play they learned when to be more aggressive, when they’d crossed a line, how to tease and how to show affection.

The take-home point for humans is that through play our brains learn to deal better emotionally with the unexpected things life throws at us. I interpret that as resilience.

And let’s face it – who doesn’t want to be playfully happy?

Play is, by definition, pleasurable. No expected outcomes – just pure enjoyment of the moment. Children are experts at it. They can turn something very functional into something far more amusing. Take the functional task of eating, for example. The joy of squishing mashed potato through your fingers and then trying it on your hair, or seeing how far peas can be thrown, and being thrilled by the bright colours of strawberries and pineapples.

When was the last time you threw spaghetti onto a wall to test if it was cooked?

It’s never too late to develop your playful side. The more you play, the more easily and naturally playfulness will come to you.

It’s not a personality thing. Play may look different to each of us, but we all have the capacity for fun-seeking and spontaneity, even if it requires a little coaxing.



So What Emotional Benefits Justify You Going Out to Play After This?


Being playful will improve your mental health.

  • Play counteracts depression

Without play we become incapable of experiencing sustained pleasure, says Dr Stuart Brown, in his book on how play shapes the brain. Doesn’t matter how old you are. The opposite of playfulness is depression. That’s a serious repercussion for not having enough fun.


  • Play is a stress reliever

A cheerful activity releases endorphins into your system. We like endorphins. They are happy hormones that give us natural highs.

The rat experiments from earlier crunched the numbers on this … After the rats had been through some rat stress, a dose of rough and tumble play lowered their fight-or-flight hormone levels, which had ramped up during the stress.

Play can change the stress status of your body from fight-flight mode to a happy high


  • Play keeps you young.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Grandparents, you already know this. Those playdough sculptures and cricket games with the grandkids keep the brain cells stimulated and the body moving. 

Laughing, singing, moving about happily or just becoming fully absorbed in something pleasant leads to taking fuller breaths, getting more oxygen into our systems and relaxing. Muscle tension eases, and with that, so does generalised fatigue, body aches and stiffness. When our digestive process relaxes we can better resist gastrointestinal disorders and cardiac tension.

Playfulness can actually increase your resistance to disease and boost your vitality.


  • Play can help to heal emotional wounds.

Since it’s not about outcomes, in play it is impossible to fail. A bit of silliness or spontaneous creativity can relax us and bring about a sense of well being. As play gently invites us into creativity, and through that, mastery, our self-esteem is given room to grow. Movement in play invites release, and creativity nurtures insight.

When talking is not an effective pathway for dealing with trauma, play can heal – even for adults. Just as our brains can be changed by trauma, they can be rewired with positive interactions through play.


9 Playful Ways to Give Yourself a Joy Boost

Ready for a booster shot? Here some things to try:

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  • Organise a game night. There’s nothing like cheerful banter around a board game to get the play juices flowing. And don’t be fooled! Those who claim they are not fans are often the ones who surprise you most with their buffoonery.It doesn’t have to be board games. One of my favourites is themed murder mystery nights. I have never laughed so hard as the night my usually deep-thinking friend took centre stage as a gregarious celebrity for the mystery evening, complete with accent, selfies, dinner meditation and companion bottle of wine (pictured above).

    If you aren’t able to host, try a location-based game. Two on my wishlist are a real-life rendition of Cluedo in the city, or an adventure in an Escape Room.

  • If getting regular exercise doesn’t excite you, try a fun alternative workout.
    “I need another hoola hoop session on my balcony tonight.”
    My work colleague once stunned me with this inspiring comment. Of course! What a great way to get the blood circulating.Instead of a training circuit in a gym how about a running around with your arms in the air, aka flying a kite? Or try stand-up paddle boarding. Or community bike riding. Or a self-defence class.
  • Seek out comedy, simply to laugh. Watch a comedian live, or find an amusing podcast that will meet your recommended daily dose of laughter.
    ‘There’s No Such Thing as A Fish’ is a podcast on Spotify that has me laughing out loud. It’s a fusion of fact and comedy, discussed by a rotating crew of presenters who have fun with the absurd things of life. 

– Trevor Noah’s multiracial humour is one of our favourites, especially in his South African shows.

– A TV show that cracks us up is ‘The Goes Wrong Show’. The first episode went viral. That resulted in another six hilarious episodes where actors improvise as their theatre skits go very wrong.


Break the rules

  • Down with Stranger Danger! You’re old enough now discern a suspicious person without this blanket rule. Not all strangers are evil.
    – Chuckle with the mum in the park about her cute toddler’s antics.
    – Offer to help the backpacker who looks lost.
    – Joke with the shopper next to you who just spilled his coffee.
    I don’t know about you, but my endorphins shoot up when I’ve had an unexpected laugh with a stranger. It’s a feel-good moment of all being well with you and your fellow man, and the world not being so hostile after all.
  • Impossible! How could that be? Magic tricks and illusions can sprinkle a little fun around when you next have the chance to thrill a captive audience.
  • Ignore age recommendations on kids’ toys. Indulge your playful spirit with nerf guns, water-slides, rub-on tattoos or beading kits. It’s for your benefit, but kids will love you for it too.


Don’t overthink it

Image credit: Tookapic from Pixabay

  • Play with a pet. Especially a baby one. They’re play geniuses, and they’ll get you smiling and moving and chasing and cuddling in all manner of unpredictable, joy-filled capers.
  • Create something that you have no skill at creating. Rope in someone else to up the hysterics. Fish around on Pinterest for a truly unattainable goal, and experience the freedom of cutting, snipping, pasting, sewing, painting, sawing, hammering or assembling, for absolutely no functional reason at all, other than to laugh.
  • Have a ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. Do everything your heart desires in your city. Breakfast, bike ride, art gallery, river cruise. Extend it by booking somewhere for the night and snuggling with your loved one by a fireplace with a good glass of wine.


Over to You

What form of play is beckoning to your laughter within?

Where will you find the most joy in play?

It’s yours for the taking.

Make space for it in your calendars or write it on your To Do list, and go play.


And please tell me about it.

  • What comedy podcasts or shows can you recommend?
  • What ideas are you going to try?
  • Do you have a photo or idea to share?


Inspirational References:

How Your Home Can Become a Fun Place.


Say yes to pops of playfulness, starting where you live.


Imagine you could enter your home and have it embrace you with joy regardless of the day you’re having. Playfulness begins when you’re relaxed, secure and can just be yourself. When your home is a place of gleeful inspirations, you’ve made a good start in relearning the wonder of play. And it’s more important than you might think— it’s essential to your wellbeing. Read on to start giving yourself permission to play.


We all played as kids, so we’ve got the know-how. Even if, as adults, we’ve gotten a little rusty, the need to play is wired into our brains and we never outgrow it. It’s a built-in safeguard to ensure life never gets too deadly serious, because that’s… well—deadly. Serious. Responsibility, with it’s ever-increasing importance as we grow up, can tend to boss around our spontaneous, freely expressive, carefree selves.

Maybe that’s where your requests for this topic came from, my curious friends? Maybe it’s because you want more fun in your life? You want to reconnect with your inner child who knows just how to spin around with dizzying delight, be enthralled by new discoveries and frolic with anyone who cares to do so for no good reason. Good news! Anyone can power up their PLAY-ability again with a few simple strategies. This blog series will show you how.

So let’s begin, shall we?

The first step is easy. It starts in the comfort of your own home. Why? Here are 3 good reasons:

  1. Home is a sanctuary.
    To play with joyful abandon, we need to feel safe. The merriment inside us will only peek out when there’s trust and acceptance in the atmosphere. Where better than our home to find this space?
  2. Home is where we can be our most authentic self with others. 
    When we’re relaxed, the setting is ready for shared bursts of playfulness with others in the house whether family or housemates. With humour in the house, deeper connections are made.
  3. Home is a place of expression.
    You know what it’s like. That moment when you walk into someone’s house and instantly have a fuller picture of who they are. Maybe you’re amazed by what takes pride of place on their cabinet, or you can just feel the atmosphere of calm or chaos or sport or family.
    Our personalities leak out in our home. When we dot the happy parts of ourselves around our homes, playfulness is not far behind.


Now, for those of you with perfectionist qualities, with a place for everything and everything in its place, a gentle word. The need for orderliness could wrestle your fun-seeking longings. If that’s you, you might need to make a few little concessions as the cogs of rediscovering playfulness are oiled, because play, by nature, is unpredictable and creativity may just get a little messy.


What are the most playful spots or things around your house?

My husband and I are not great decor or maintenance people, so things in our house can become a little tired. But there is one spot that continues to bring me joy and is often a conversation piece. It’s a wall with three paintings. We painted this wall a textured charcoal, to showcase three bold paintings in brushstrokes of red, yellow, blue and green. They pop on that wall. But more than that, they bring back memories of our adventures in Hong Kong—of perusing a market of strange delectables, of buying our very first real paintings from the artist herself, and of going for a swim in the warm South China Sea.

‘To miss out on play is to miss the harvest of a well-lived life,’ says play author, Dr Stuart Brown. Professors Sergio and Vivien Pellis take the neuroscience perspective and suggest that play ‘may be a process underlying lives worth living’.


If play gets this much credit, then surely it deserves to be given more room in our lives?


9 Easy Ways to Play at Home

Invite Fun as a VIP 


Break the Rules

  • Instead of a table cloth, spread butcher paper on the dining table and draw or write away.  Write questions at each person’s place setting, or make up a collaborative silly poem, or collect the best things about every day over a week, or rubber stamp it all over. Keep it as a work of art and use it for your next dinner party.
  • Who said you can’t draw on walls? Doodle on the bath tiles with bath crayons during a bubble bath. Use liquid chalk to write inspirational quotes on the window above the kitchen sink or leave a joke on the mirror.
  • Wall colour doesn’t have to come from expensive art pieces. Add fun wall stickers to a dull wall to liven it up. Here are a few fun ones: 
    – Birds on wires
    – 80s party confetti
    – Tall daisies

  • Why sleep inside? Many of you have already done this during pandemic lockdowns – have a campout in the back yard, complete with fire pit and s’mores.


Don’t Overthink It

  • Put together a dance playlist of your favourites. Whether you’re at foot-tapping level, or up to wiggling and jiggling, or right up there in full booty-shaking, hands-in-the-air dancing, just enjoy music for the sake of it. Whether on your own or with others around, have a bit of fun while washing the dishes or folding the laundry. Or just any time.
  • You know how card games tend to live in cupboards, only to make an occasional entrance? How about leaving a few out around the house, for when the whim hits. You might find it connecting people at unexpected times.


The good news is that it’s not hard to make your house a PLAYhouse.

Is your home a safe place? You’re already halfway there. Can you think of 5 things in your house that spark joy? You’re already striding forward.

Can’t think of 5 things? Don’t worry. Start building a list or just be on the lookout from now for things that make you bubble.

From now on, give yourself permission to play… in your home.

Go on! Escape your functional mind for a moment and have some fun.


And please tell me about it.

  • What are your favourite places or pieces in your house?
  • What ideas do you want to try?
  • Do you have an idea or a photo to share?


Inspirational References: 

  • I love this book by Meredith Sinclair: Well-Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit. A number of my ideas for these blogs have come from her insights.
  • Dr Stuart Brown’s quote is from his book, ‘Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.’
  • The Pellis & Pellis quote is from their book, ‘The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience.’


Update 2 June


This will be the final blog in this series of coronavirus updates. The series has fulfilled its purpose. It was created to give you meaningful snapshots when rapid-fire information was flying at us and changing our world at a dizzying rate.


Official updates on ‘normal’ Australian matters are becoming more common than coronavirus updates. That tells me we’re on a more even keel. The frameworks for the new normal have been created. Now it’s mostly left foot, right foot, as we walk out the plans on this road to recovery.


My Parting Health Snapshot to You

Australia – you’ve done incredibly well from all reports. While the Chief Medical Officer keeps emphasising that we still need to be careful, he confirms we are on track with our health recovery plans.


When’s the Vaccine Coming?

We wait now, as the world waits, for a vaccine to end this thing once and for all. So how’s that all going?


Around the world there are more than 100 vaccine projects on the go. The last stage of development is testing on people, and that has already begun in 9 projects. But there’s still a long way to go before we get the green light. Dates being thrown around by experts are between January and July next year. That’s like – still a YEAR away. (For a reminder on why making a vaccine takes so long, check out my blog on 1 May.)



The proudly Australian news is that the University of Queensland remains in the spotlight. They’ve reached the stage just before human testing and earned themselves another $2 million from the federal government to keep up the good work. England’s Oxford University has begun testing on 500 people, and could have a useable result by September.


Other contenders include biotech companies like Moderna and Inovio. Lots of pharmaceutical companies are pulling out all the stops too. Johnson & Johnson, and Sanofi are two of those. The Wuhan and Beijing Institutes of biological products, are also making good progress.


My Parting Economic Snapshot to You

Unless there is an outbreak of the virus, the government’s laser focus is now on job creation. In fact, National Cabinet will now have the sole agenda of creating jobs.


The National Cabinet, birthed in response to the pandemic, has worked so well it’s going to keep going. ScoMo is shaking up federal government structures to improve the country’s governance for the economic recovery. ScoMo said the regularity of meetings between heads of state via teleconferencing has meant they’ve been able to keep a clear mission and a good pace in finding solutions together. Because they operate under federal cabinet rules, they can make decisions without the formalities and “theatre” that previous meeting formats held. And they even ‘hang out’ together before meetings. 


So it’s out with the old COAG (Council of Australian Governments) and in with the new. But they won’t be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Councils and important task forces that sat under COAG, like women’s safety and closing the indigenous gap, will be reset and continue.

During the COVID-19 period, National Cabinet will continue meeting online fortnightly. In future, it’ll be once a month. The treasurers of states and territories will also meet regularly with them and take responsibility for funding agreements.


State News



Easing Restrictions:


Schools: By 9 June all children will be back in classrooms, with Victoria and Tasmaniacatching up to the rest.


Travel: State border closures for leisure travel remain an agenda item, despite the federal government providing no advice to maintain these. Queensland is hanging onto their decision to keep borders closed. Western Australia has lifted restrictions for specific regional travel within the state. (Meanwhile, federal government is moving towards opening a

safe travel zone between Australia and New Zealand. )  South Australia launched a ‘Welcome Back’campaign to boost same-state travel and has seen a 77% increase in Airbnb bookings compared to the same week last year.


Infrastructure: Construction projects are being turbo-boosted nationwide in the quest for job creation. New South Wales has multiple large projects underway, including airport and rail construction. Victoria is fast-tracking building works for community sport.


The arts: New South Wales is providing a Rescue and Restart package for struggling art and cultural organisations, recognising how the arts can be “a place of refuge and a source of inspiration in these challenging times”. In Victoria funding has been given to multicultural media outlets which “have been particularly crucial as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic,” according to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs.



The Stats


Globally, on 11 May we reached 4 million COVID-19 cases.

By 23 May we reached 5 million.  

Yesterday we reached the 6 million mark, having tragically lost more than 370,000 people to the virus.


Globally, the curve is still rising and this pandemic is far from over.


Conversely, in Australia stats continue to show recovery. 

There have been 7,204 cases of COVID-19

  • 6,619 have recovered
  • Sadly, there have been 103 deaths
  • There now are only 3 people with COVID-19 in ICU
  • Approximately 30,000 tests are being conducted each day, with a 0.5% positivity rate
  • There were 6.1 million downloads of the CovidSafe app as at 29 May



Hope Over Fear


Snapshots of a Healing World


Our Health:

  • Staying at home has made more smokers want to quit smoking. Between January and May this year, 310% more people than last year downloaded the My Quitbuddy app.
  • A survey of 11,000 people in 11 countries revealed people are eating more healthily in lockdowns – more fresh, frozen and canned food in place of ready meals, more meal planning, more time spent on food preparation, less waste overall.


Our Environment:

There have been multiple reports of animal life returning to areas that have quietened down as a result of lockdowns, and here’s a particularly lovely one: flamingos flocked to lakes in Mumbai, India. Still in India, the peaks of the Himalayas can be seen from the Punjab city area, after decades of their visibility being obscured by air pollution.



Heroes Emerge:

  • A 92-year-old piano teacher, also a Holocaust survivor, had to stop lessons due to lockdowns in Denver, USA. Not for long. Dr Cornelia Vertenstein, known affectionately as “Nellie”, used Facetime on her iPad. She not only continued, but also held her spring recitals online.
  • British Captain Tom Moore, who I mentioned in my blog on 16 April, went on to be knighted for his extensive fundraising for the NHS (National Health System) during the pandemic. When he also successfully turned 100 years old, he received more than 125,000 birthday cards, filling a school hall with them. You can watch the heartwearming video clips here.



Your Tip for Today


We Like to Move It, Move It.



As Australia gets back to work, one place that is difficult to socially distance yourself, is public transport. The AHPPC has just provided some advice on remaining as COVID Safe as possible on public transport:


  • Plan the shortest possible public transport route to limit time spent on it.
  • Don’t use public transport if you are not feeling well. Unless it’s an emergency. And if you reeelly, reeeelly have to use it while you are not well, wear a mask and cough into your elbow. 
  • Wash your hands before and after travelling. Maybe keep some sanitiser or wipes on you.
  • Distance yourself as much as possible from others, and avoid contact.
  • Check operator’s requirements – like using tap and go passes, cashless payment or any seating restrictions.
  • Download the COVIDSafe app to help with tracing in case you’re unknowingly exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Adjust your work hours if possible, so you can travel in off-peak times that are less crowded.




What About You?


  • What signs of our healing world have you noticed?
  • Have you used public transport since restrictions eased?

I’d love to hear your stories. Last chance.


It’s been real. Thanks so much for reading.



Information Sources 

Minister of Health on Vaccine – 2 June


Healthline: Vaccine Development – 26 May


Gavi: Vaccine Tracker – 11 May


Prime Minister’s Media Release on National Cabinet – 29 May


Prime Minister’s Press Release on National Cabinet – 29 May


WHO Situation Reports – Global stats – 1 June


WHO Situation Reports – other dates


Health Minister – Smokers want to quit – 1 June


Good News Network – Healthier Eating – 31 May

Elle: Flamingos in India and 92-year-old piano teacher – 21 May


CNN – Himalayas visible – 9 April


AHPPC Advice for public transport – 2 June


Update 27 May



New JobMaker Package – Doing What Makes Businesses Go Faster


As we unfurl from pandemic hibernation, the gritty truth is hitting us. It’s harder starting up than closing down.

ScoMo told his story yesterday of huddling with a sports strategy team years ago, in a dingy old building. The guiding principle for strategy was clear: ‘do what makes the boat go faster’. And their team won. Today, to restore 850,000 lost jobs in Australia, we need to ‘do what makes businesses go faster’, to win the battle for jobs.


Enter JobMaker.


Money boosts from the government are helping businesses right now, but ScoMo reminded us that stimulus packages are an emergency response – we are dealing with an economic crisis. Many businesses are in ICU, so to speak. But at some point businesses need to be able to earn enough again to get back on their feet, and ‘get off the medication’. After all, they drive the economy, which provides the revenue to fund essential government services like hospitals, fire services, security, and social welfare.



So What Makes Businesses Go Faster?

Here’s the list, and the corresponding challenges that JobMaker needs to address:

  1. Skilled labour: needs healthy industrial relations
  2. Affordable and reliable energy: requires resources
  3. Research and technology: draws on higher education
  4. Accessible investment capital and finance: needs open banking
  5. Markets to connect to: needs digital economy and trade
  6. Economic infrastructure: supports manufacturing and regional development
  7. Simplifying government regulations businesses must comply with: deregulation and federal reform
  8. Efficiency of taxes to encourage businesses to invest in and employ more workers: needs the tax system to support jobs investment.


This is JobMaker – the change agenda for next 3-5 years.

Its goal is simple: make more jobs.



Yesterday, ScoMo started on Point 1. The other points will be addressed in the coming weeks and months.


Matchmaking Skills and Industry Needs.

Basically, this is all a bit of a mess. Federal Government hands over $1.6 billion to states and territories every year, and never hears about it again. As a result, there is no consistency in skills training across the country. A nurse training in Queensland may be subsidised less than half that of a nurse training in New South Wales. For that reason, potential future nurses in Queensland may choose another profession instead.


To help shape things up, a National Skills Commission has been set up to do an overhaul. Already, Skills Organisation Pilots have started where workers are needed – human services, digital technology and mining. The projects will work out what qualifications these industries need.



Therapy for Industrial Relations

A finger on the pulse of relationships between Australian employers and employees reveals many are not healthy. Employers often feel their sacrifices for the business are overlooked, and employees feel they do not get their fair share of benefits. Workers’ unions and employer groups have lost sight of their purpose: getting workplace settings right for the business to succeed.


The result of the tension: workers unnecessarily lose their jobs, or employers keep people out of jobs. Working relationships need to be restored to get the opposite result: more employers on track to pay their workers, and more workers being employed. Now, ScoMo urges, is the time to lay down our weapons, and find cooperative solutions.




Task #1 of JobMaker: Bring People Together

Between now and September the minister for industrial relations, Christian Porter, will chair five working groups to nut out a JobMaker package. It’s going to be a challenge, and ScoMo acknowledges it may not work, but it’s worth a try. People who have been at odds with one another are going to be put in a room together to find one mutual solution – a pathway to sensible, longlasting reform that will make jobs.


They will discuss and negotiate things like awards, enterprise agreements, casual and fixed term employees, compliance and enforcement. The government will take the lead after this consultation.



The Stats for Australia


There have been 7,133 cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with 478 active cases remaining.

  • Sadly, there have been 102 deaths
  • 5 people are in ICU
  • 6,553 people have recovered


Progress on Making Australia COVID Safe:


Testing is still on the increase as a defence to COVID-19 as we gradually return to normal activities:

  • Australia now has 485 testing clinics, with one of the most accurate testing regimes in the world.
  • 177,000 people were tested in the last week (about 25,000 per day)
  • 6% of tests returned positive for COVID-19


Tracing via the COVIDSafe app:

  • We’ve just topped 6 million downloads of the app

The app has already proven its worth. In Victoria, a man who had been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 was not identified by that person, but was identified through the app.


Isolating the bug when it appears:

  • Most new cases are still imported, so hotel quarantine at Australia’s borders for international travellers is effectively isolating these cases, and has saved many lives by stopping the spread.
  • The North West Tasmania outbreak demonstrated that if there is an outbreak in a suburb, a facility or a region, a Stage 4 lockdown forms a ‘ring of containment’ that has been effective in stopping the spread.



Hope Over Fear


Speaking of MAKING things…


Time at home has fuelled creativity for many, and the results are now emerging.


Giant Kookaburra for Laughs



In Bellbowrie, Queensland, Dr Farvadin Daliri has sculpted a giant kookaburra. The big bird’s 8.5m height, along with its recorded laugh and moving beak is entertaining local people as well as local kookaburras, who come for a ‘sticky beak’.


Dr Daliri is originally from Iran, where he studied fine art and sculpture. He came to Australia as a refugee in the mid-80s. In Townsville he founded the Townsville Cultural Festival. This is not his first sculpture. A giant koala, the Jolly Swagman and Slim Dusty also feature in his portfolio.

We want to have the last laugh over COVID-19 with the kookaburra, we’ll also have laughing workshops along the road so we can get everyone laughing around it and make them feel better,” he said. 


Creative Ventures Around the Globe:


  • In Spain, artist Okuda San Miguel, has partnered with an organisation supporting work for people with learning disabilities and special needs. Together they’ve brightened up 10 silos across the region with beautiful, artistic paintwork. It’s formed an inspiring open-air gallery.


  • In Somerset, UK, a family decided to pass the time by colouring every brick of their home with a different chalk colour. The dad decided to help by climbing a ladder to complete the work all the way to the top. The cheerful sight has stopped traffic at times, and received lots of attention on Facebook.



Your Tip for Today


Still on the topic of CREATION


Many creative ways of combatting COVID-19 have emerged over time. Unfortunately, most are not founded on evidence, and some are good for a laugh.


DO NOT put your faith in any of the following statements:

  • Hot temperatures kill the virus. Nope
  • 5G networks are spreading the virus. Nope. NO NEED to burn down 5G towers, people.
  • Vitamin C is an effective treatment for COVID-19. Nope.
  • Ibuprofen exacerbates coronavirus. Nope – fake WHO report. Keep taking your meds.
  • Hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for COVID-19. Not yet proven.
  • UV rays kill the virus. Nope. The UV rays will probably do your skin damage, just like the sun does.
  • Garlic prevents infection. Nope. But garlic is still good for you.
  • Breathing techniques can cure the virus. Thanks J.K.Rowling – some more good fiction work there.
  • Microwaves sanitise masks. Nope. Bad idea. It can damage the mask and set your microwave alight.


News Alert: There is no cure for COVID-19 yet.

Find more COVID-19 mythbusters here.


What SHOULD you believe?

Do these three and stay COVID free:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Physical distancing
  • Use the COVIDSafe app.



What About You?


  • Have you had any creative work emerge over the past weeks?
  • Have you had a double-take at any COVID-19 myths?

I’d love to hear your stories.



Information Sources


Prime Minister Press Release – 26 May 2020


Department of Health stats


Minister for Health, Greg Hunt: COVIDSafe app update – 24 May


Minister for Health, Greg Hunt on progress in health measures – 25 May


ABC News – Giant Kookaburra – 26 May


Good News Network – Painting by People with Disabilities – 22 May


Australian Gov: COVID-19 Mythbusting – 25 May






Update 22 May



Health updates are becoming fewer, as economic recovery takes centre stage. This story pressed some buttons…

Casual Worker Entitlements: Workers are Happy but Businesses Could Sink

It started with a Federal Court ruling on Wednesday that Workpac should pay annual leave to a long term casual worker. The mine worker, Mr Rossatu, has been employed by Workpac for 3.5 years on a rolling roster.


Why is this surprising?

Well, casuals usually get paid an additional 25c per hour casual loading fee because they don’t get leave entitlements. The court reasoned that Mr Rossatu’s job reflected that of a permanent employee because it was ‘regular, certain, continuing, constant and predictable employment.’ And he didn’t have to pay back the casual loading fee.


While the court case had nothing to do with COVID-19, it’s caused an outcry by small and medium sized businesses struggling to get back on their feet in a coronavirus economy. The ruling will not affect all casual workers, but it will have implications for long term casual employees. And that means businesses may have to cough up backpay.


Since the cost of these payouts, estimated around $8 billion, might kill the lifeline effect of JobKeeper, the decision is likely to be appealed. Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann acknowledged that this is ‘very bad for business’. He said that Federal Government is considering whether a legal fix is needed, and will intervene on appeal. FairWork Australia has since posted that “We’re reviewing the information” and that they will update their message soon.



Boost for Roads and Community Facilities




Despite ScoMo remaining rather quiet this week, his media release today announced another $1.8 billion to stimulate construction projects through local governments. Improving bridges, tunnels, bicycle and walking paths, picnic shelters and park barbeques will increase local employment and help communities reconnect.


States Get Active on Job Creation


New South Wales has fast-forwarded school plans so that all children will be back in classrooms on Monday, relieving parents to get back to work. Pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants can now host up to 50 customers if they have the space for it. Plus, funding has been released for construction projects  – a retail centre, industrial facilities, three new schools and road projects that will create an estimated 5250 new jobs.



Victoria is helping universities to keep going, with funding, and facilitating angel networks to invest in start-up businesses.  Funding for water works is creating job opportunities as well as a Building Works package that will stimulate the resources sector, and in turn support infrastructure and development.


In the Northern Territory, about 3000 people are back at work again and many have enjoyed their first pint at the pub again, as approximately 450 food and drink venues reopened, with more expected to open their doors from 5 June as the third stage of restrictions ease. Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, appointed a task force

to provide advice on economic recovery, including creating jobs, cutting red tape and attracting investment.



Tasmania will begin aggressive construction programs in the weeks to come, bringing forward projects like building houses, schools, roads, bridges and dams.


Queensland has granted additional funding for small businesses. A Rural Economic Development grant has seen 14 businesses boosted by innovative technology and the creation of more jobs as a result:

  • A vegetable farm will gain a facility to slice, dice and powder second rate produce to reduce waste
  • A mango farm will soon have digital technology to test fruit maturity and defects, so that no mature mango is lost in manual testing.
  • A vegetable company can now use x-ray technology in fully automated cob inspection, cutting and packing processes.



Quick News Tidbits


The ATO amended the recorded number of employees on JobKeeper from 7 million-ish to only 3.5million. This reduces the predicted package cost to $70 billion rather than $130 billion. The reason? They found that some employers had used incorrect numbers on their application forms, writing the payment value rather than number of employees. This has not affected the scheme payouts.


A new national set of entry-level skills needed across Australia has now been developed and will be fast tracked by training sectors to respond to industry needs. Workers are primarily needed in the aged care and disability sector.


All types of elective surgery can now resume in public and private hospitals. Health services will make clinical decisions and select eligible patients based on urgency, PPE use and ICU capacity.


Image by Olga Guryanova from Unsplash



The Stats


Today tragically marks 100 deaths from COVID-19 in Australia.


There have been 7081 cases of COVID-19 in Australia

  • 6,472 people have recovered
  • 9 patients are in ICU


While Australia’s coronavirus health crisis simmers down, on the global front, daily counts of new COVID-19 cases keep rising. Italy and Spain’s curves are now flattening. The UK, US and Russia are showing the first signs of new cases declining. However, in some countries, like India, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and South Africa, case numbers are still rising significantly.


Hope Over Fear


Feeding the Hungry


Farmers Provide Food Relief

After droughts, bushfires and now coronavirus, many families have been hard hit. Due to high demand for food relief, FoodShare, an emergency food provider, has recruited about 30 farms to donate their produce to communities doing it tough, sometimes feeding up to 3000 people in a week. FoodShare anticipates that the demand will increase in September, when government supports are reduced. Aussie farmers have been generous, donating tonnes of fruit and vegetables in season.




How to Keep Feeding Elephants That Eat for 20 Hours a Day

Further afield in Nepal, with the tourism trade brought to a standstill, owners of elephants ‘employed’ in this trade were struggling to feed them. Elephant Aid International, who work closely with mahouts and farmers, facilitated a win-win plan. Firstly, the elephants got permission to enter a national park during the day, which is not usually permitted. Secondly, workers who had lost their jobs were recruited to harvest crops on farms that were otherwise going to rot, to sell to the elephant owners.



Your Tip for Today


Job searches may need a little more attention in this coronavirus economy.


Here are some tips  for your next job search (from 7 News):

  • Don’t be idle – be out there connecting with potential employers.
  • Don’t be disheartened by the current climate. If you can show you are the best person for the job, you’re likely to get it.
  • Reach out to your contacts and update people on what you’re looking for.
  • Let everyone you are interacting with know what you offer and to keep you in mind if they hear a potential job comes up.
  • You may need to take a job that is different from what you are looking for. Now is a good time to upskill with the government offeringcut price higher education packagesto help fill skill shortages.Or check out My
  • Give the best hours of your day to your job search but don’t let it take over your life.
  • Remain visible online through your LinkedIn profile.
  • Be kind to yourself – and be curious while job hunting.


Read more of the article here.



What About You?


  • What do you think about the latest court ruling on casual workers?
  • Do you find job searches tougher right now?
  • What are you most thankful for today?



I’d love to hear your stories.




Information Sources



Federal Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann on Casual employment – 22 May 2020


FairWork Australia on Casual Employees – 20 May 2020


ABC News – Federal Court ruling on Casual Entitlements – 21 May


ATO JobKeeper update – 22 May 2020


Prime Minister’s media release on road and community funding – 22 May 2020


The Squiz Podcast – 22 May 2020


Federal Minister for Employment on National Skill Set – 21 May


AHPPC on Elective Surgery – 22 May


John Hopkins University COVID-19 Map


Good News Network – Feeding Nepal’s Elephants – 20 May


ABC News – Farmers donate produce to FoodShare – 21 may




Update 19 May



Attention WHO and China:

Independent Inquiry Pending

At the World Health Assembly, member states make decisions regarding the World Health Organisation. Held yesterday and today, this time the EU proposed an inquiry for WHO’s performance during the coronavirus pandemic. And naturally, that means – you guessed it – China would be investigated. This motion, also pushed for by the US and Australia, was backed yesterday by 116 countries in total.




WHO’s take on it:

In the WHO Director-General’s opening remarks he welcomed “… a step-wise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation.” He acknowledged that in past epidemics, reviews had resulted in new frameworks and regulations. He said, however, that the world didn’t need new plans, systems or organisations – it simply needs to implement and strengthen those already at our disposal.


China’s take on it:

President Xi Jinping said China would cooperate, but he slipped in a few conditions. He stated that the inquiry should happen “after it [the pandemic] is brought under control” and that it should be “led by the WHO.” Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, had made it clear in the motion that Australia wanted the investigation to be by an external body.


The result:

It seems that the WHO’s independent oversight advisory body will suffice for the inquiry, as long as WHO doesn’t escape scrutiny of itself.




What Happens When Mental Health Goes Mad?

When your country anticipates mental health taking a big hit, you make a unified, national response plan. Last Friday, Christine Morgan, CEO of the National Mental Health Commission, outlined the Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Plan that National Cabinet has endorsed. After talking to lots of people two main needs surfaced: supports for a diverse range of situations; and needs of particularly vulnerable groups being met.


What has already been done?

Mental health service delivery has become far more agile and innovative during the pandemic, with digital services meaning that more people have been able to engage help.


What’s still being worked on?

  1. Getting good data. So that we know what is actually going on with people’s mental health, what we can expect and where services are most needed. Like the fact that there have not actually been more suicides, and whether that changes in future, or not.
  2. Reaching people within their own communities, especially those who have disconnected from services.
  3. Providing the actual help that’s needed, when it’s needed.



So if we follow Japan’s trend, and suicides actually decrease because of COVID-19, better data might help to explain why. Are the risk factors what we think they are? What exactly are the silver linings of COVID-19 that have protected people from suicide? Being at home? Stopping to take care of ourselves? Or having more lifelines just a phone call away?


With the plan in play, hopefully, we’ll find out.



Travelling Across Australia – Are We There Yet?


ScoMo suggested in his last press conference that we could start looking forward to moving around the country more widely. In fact, if we do that, we’ll be helping tourism get back on it’s feet.


But it might not be so easy when Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have movement restrictions across their borders, while New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory do not.



As restrictions ease, many from Australia’s cooler climates would relish a trip to sunny Queensland during the July school holidays. But rather than entertaining the idea of borders reopening, the Premier of Queensland’s simple message to Queenslanders today was: “Get out and explore your own state.” And another $50 million is being granted to the QLD tourism industry to help keep businesses afloat.


Sorry guys, Great Barrier Reef holidays are reserved for Queenslanders only right now. (Needless to say, tour operators are not too happy.)




The Stats for Australia


We’ve reached the 7000 mark: there have been 7060 cases of COVID-19 in Australia.

  • 6389 people (90%) have recovered
  • Sadly, 99 people have died
  • 12 people are currently in ICU


Over 1 million tests have now been conducted in Australia, showcasing our top-notch testing ability, which is one way we stay COVID-safe.


5.7 million Australians have already downloaded the COVIDSafe app, but we still need more people to participate.



Hope Over Fear


It’s National Volunteer Week


The most recent survey showed that 3 in 10 (about 6 million) people volunteer in Australia, and COVID-19 brought a new surge. Simply stated, Australians are good at rallying when help is needed.


A Surge of Volunteers

Meals on Wheels lost many of their usual older volunteers when COVID-19 restrictions ramped up. But others who had been stood down from their jobs and received JobKeeper or JobSeeker decided to use their time to give back. Meals on Wheels were grateful to be able to continue the human connection with those they support, especially those living on their own.


Backpackers Provide Welcome Farm Relief

International backpackers like Ben working in the fitness industry and Lucie working as an au pair  were about to be sent home due to COVID-19 restrictions, when they were provided with an alternate option. Blaze Aid recruited them as volunteers to help restore farms affected by the bushfires.



Right now these backpackers camp out in the Tooma showgrounds on the edge of the Snowy Mountains, with an Argentinian volunteer chef ensuring they eat well. During the day they rebuild fences and help with other farm repairs.


The result? They’re enjoying making a big difference while getting to know true Aussie culture, as they’re welcomed by farmers who are only too happy to have the help.



Your Tip for Today


How can I know if I’ve had COVID-19 or not?

Some people have really mild symptoms, or none at all. So how do you know if you’ve fought COVID-19 and gained immunity?


The only way to know is to get tested.


There are 2 types of tests:

  1. The PCR test.
    Cells on a swab taken from your nose and throat, or other body fluids are grown in a petri dish. Then they’re tested for any genetic material from the virus.
  2. The Serology test.
    Quicker and cheaper than the PCR test but not as accurate. It tests for antibodies which your body produces when it fights the virus. It can miss the virus if you’ve only just caught it and your body’s immune response has not yet kicked in.

 More work is being done on developing new tests.


If I’ve had COVID-19, can I get it again?

It’s unlikely. You probably have immunity for at least a year, if not for life. While there have been reports of apparent re-infection, most of these second positive tests were done 7 – 14 days after recovery. It is likely that the PCR tests, which cannot distinguish between a ‘live’ vs ‘inactive’ virus, picked up the excretion of the non-infective genetic material. In Australia patients currently have to test negative for the virus twice before being released from isolation.



If I think I may have had it, am I ethically obligated to tell the people I came in contact with?

It’s up to every individual to do what they think is right, but advice is – yes – to alert people. Especially it if was in the last 14 days, as they would know then if they had been exposed enough to get sick.


What About You?


  • Are you hoping to travel interstate for the July school holidays?
  • Have you, or are you volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Have you had the experience of a PCR or serology test for COVID-19?


I’d love to hear your stories.



Information Sources


World Health Assembly opening speech by Director-General – 18 May


President Xi Jinping’s speech for the World Health Assembly – 18 May


Prime Minister’s Press Conference with Christine Morgan – 15 May


NSW Govt – Border Restrictions


QLD Govt – Tourism – 19 May 2020


ABC News – Surge of volunteers – 28 April


ABC News – Backpackers help Restore Fire-devastated Farms – 16 may



Lab tests online (supported by the Australian Govt – Therapeutic Goods Administration)


The Guardian – Have I already had coronavirus?


Australian Govt – Department of Health – Information for Clinicians: FAQs





Update 14 May





What is This Anti-Dumping Thing?

It’s got nothing to do with the tip, and it’s not a new dating law. You’ll hear about it more in international trade circles.


China recently did two things in trading with Australia.



  • First, they placed an 80% anti-dumping tax on our barley exports into China. (Barley is mostly used for beer and animal feed) Anti-dumping tax, I have learned, is a tariff that a government adds onto foreign imports when it believes the price offered is below market value. It’s when the company is charging its home market a higher price than the overseas buyer. The issue: those low prices can undercut the importing government’s markets, damaging their local economy.
  • Secondly, on Monday (11 May) China stopped beef imports from 4 major meat suppliers in Australia, reportedly due to violations of customs and quarantine standards.


There seem to be two interpretations of these actions within Australia.


  • One view is that China’s timing suggests a pushback because of Australia insisting on an independent coronavirus enquiry. This, it is thought, could be a low-risk threat by China, as the dumping allegation apparently doesn’t hold much merit.
  • The second view, which is what ScoMo said on Tuesday, is that the anti-dumping trade issue started 18 months ago and is not linked to coronavirus concerns. From a bit more digging I learned that Australia imposes up to 144% tax on China’s steel imports. Today ScoMo said the trade negotiation will continue via normal channels, and “… Australia will do the right thing when it comes to respecting other countries’ laws.”


As for the beef export issue, which could have implications for Australian farmers, talks with Beijing are being set up by the Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham.



What Do We Do With Overcrowded Prisons in a Pandemic?



Prison is meant to limit freedom, but which human rights are protected? Prisoners, especially substance-abusing, sick prisoners are at a major disadvantage if COVID-19 enters an overcrowded prison.


Here’s what the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggested:

  • If people don’t absolutely have to be imprisoned, release them. We’re not talking about letting unrepentant murderers back into society. We’re talking about people in detention for substance abuse, or for minor, non-violent offences, especially women and kids. Let ‘em out. In fact, WHO suggests closing those types of detention centres – research shows they don’t do much good in reform anyway.
  • Give everything a good clean and keep it that way.
  • If prisoners are sick, make sure they keep getting their usual treatments.


As for human rights – security and health are the biggies.  So if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a prison, prisoners should be monitored and treated like anyone else, making sure public health authorities are aware.




Zoning back in on Australia….



Could JobKeeper Be Taken Away in the Upcoming June Review?


This question keeps knocking about. Both the Minister for Finance and ScoMo have been clear that it will remain in place for the six months. ScoMo and the Treasurer clarified today that the review is necessary because the scheme was put into place in record-breaking time.


Although JobKeeper was carefully designed, some anomalies and issues would be expected because of the speed at which it was implemented. The June review will look at these, and the experience of it ‘on the ground’ and make any amendments needed.


Because of JobKeeper, the forecast peak of unemployment in Australia will be reduced from 15% to 10%. That’s a big difference in numbers of people. JobKeeper is providing an essential lifeline for, as of today, over 6 million Australians, holding employers and employees together as we build a bridge towards economic recovery.




State News


Interested in how each of the states and territories are travelling with their Steps towards easing restrictions?


In the lead, easing into Step 2 already:

  • Western Australia (although they’re talking about their eastern borders remaining closed for 6 months. Hmmm.)
  • Northern Territory started their version of Step 1 on 1 May, and will be easing into their Step 2 tomorrow.


Step 1 Has Started in:

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • South Australia
  • Victoria – but still with the message to stay at home if you can, and only close friends and family should visit.
  • Queensland – with extra relaxation for those in the outback


Step 1 is About to Start in:

  • New South Wales – tomorrow. School news: Phase 1 of four phases to return children to their classrooms, began on Monday. All grades currently attend school on one day a week. 
  • Tasmania will ease further restrictions from 18 May, but with more limited travel. School news: selected school grades are returning to classrooms from 25 May.




The Stats for Australia


  • There have been 6,989 cases of COVID-19 in Australia
  • Sadly, 98 people have died.
  • 6,301 people have recovered
  • 18 people are in ICU




Hope Over Fear


It IS Rocket Science



Our very own NASA. But it doesn’t look nearly as glamorous in a Gold Coast business shed.


Maybe I’m not getting the whole picture here but, wow, I discovered today that just down the highway from me there are space rockets being launched. Yes, Gilmour Space Technologies is going to be partnering with the Defence Force to develop rocket technology.


(So their day job is like…  go out onto fields to see if the latest rocket works?)


Here’s why it’s good news. Today we heard from ScoMo that 600,000 Australians have lost their jobs. And the big mission now is to get people back into jobs. But of course, there have to BE jobs to get back to.


Well, Gilmour Space Technologies estimates that they’ll be creating around 500 jobs over the next 3 years with this new project. That will be very good news for about 500 people.





Your Tip for Today


If you’re a health worker, you may be interested in having tons of useful COVID-19 information at your fingertips.


WHO Academy Launched an Information App for Health Workers

In a survey in March interviewing 20,000 health workers around the globe, the vast majority asked for accessible virtual learning.


So…..yesterday, WHO launched a mobile app with resources, tools, training, workshops and up-to-the-minute guidance on helping patients with COVID-19.


And it’s free.

You’ll find it in all the usual app stores as ‘WHO Academy’.




What About You?


  • Tell me you learned about anti-dumping today? Did you? You heard it first from me. We’re learning buddies.
  • Would you take a job launching rockets into space?
  • Have you downloaded the COVIDSafe app?



I’d love to hear your stories.




Information Sources


Prime Minister’s Press Conference – 14 May 2020


WHO – Deprivation of Liberty – 13 May



WHO Academy app – 13 May

Finance Minister on JobKeeper – 13 May 2020 Finance Minister


ACT Govt – Step 1 in place – 12 May


Northern Territory Govt Roadmap


QLD Govt – Step 1 begins (8 May)


Western Australia Govt – coronavirus update 11 May


Tasmania Govt – coronavirus update 9 May


ABC News – Gold Coast Rocket Scientists – 14 May 2020