mine visit

GET up close to a working mine with the Singleton Community Day mine tours on Saturday, April 7.

The free tours are being offered by Glencore, Yancoal and Bloomfield/Rix’s Creek as part of the Hunter Coal Festival.

The tours offer a rare opportunity for people to see a mine in operation with expert commentary and explanations from mine employees.

Buses will leave from Albion Park, Bathurst Street, Singleton, at 9am, 9.30am, 10am and noon and each tour will last about two hours.

Organisers have advised the schedule could change depending on demand.

Participants can choose from three mine sites – Bloomfield’s Rix’s Creek, Yancoal’s Mount Thorley Warkworth and Glencore’s Bulga Mine.

The tours are free but must be booked in advance through the festival’s website at in the Mine Tours section.

The tours will not operate if there is inclement weather and all site visitors must wear enclosed shoes.

Children must meet the legal age requirement for seatbelts and people under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be allowed on the buses or mine sites.




20 years ago, you probably would’ve laughed if someone said your life would one day be irrevocably changed by a company called Google. What’s a google?

But, as you know, Google’s become the largest entity in one of the biggest tech companies in the world. And it’s giving you a glimpse inside its robust research on what makes a great manager.

It’s no secret that being a good manager can make all the difference in how happy your team is and how well it performs. Google not only proved this to skeptics years ago, but also identified eight (later updated to 10) behaviours of its best managers. So why not learn from one of the most successful data-driven companies out there?

1. “Is a Good Coach”

Employees need and appreciate a manager who takes time to coach and challenge them, and not just when they’re behind.

As Muse contributor Avery Augustine put it, “When it comes to clients, the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease.” The same is true, she said, of employees you manage.

But “I realized that every employee needs to be managed—star performer or not,” she wrote. “And simply leaving some employees to do their jobs without any type of feedback or guidance was detrimental to their career development.”

2. “Empowers Team and Does Not Micromanage”

Micromanaging’s a common mistake managers make without even realizing it, one that discourages and frustrates employees.

But Google’s research found that its best managers don’t, instead offering the right balance of freedom and advice, showing they trust their direct reports, and advocating for the team, according to a sample breakdown from an internal presentation included in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article.

3. “Creates an Inclusive Team Environment, Showing Concern for Success and Well-Being”
In the first iteration of the list, this was described as “expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being.”

Several years later, the company’s updated this entry to reflect research on psychological safety that allows for risk-taking—which Google identified as an important characteristic of effective teams—and unbiasing, or the process of becoming aware of and combatting unconscious biases.

It’s not enough just to have a diverse team, good leaders and managers strive to create an inclusive environment every day.

4. “Is Productive and Results-Oriented”

Employees don’t want to work for a lazy boss. They’d rather be part of a team that’s productive and successful, and that’s hard to do if the leader doesn’t set the tone.

Former Muse editor Adrian Granzella Larssen explained that becoming a boss means you have to be on model behavior.

“As a manager, you’ll be looked to as a role model,” she wrote. “You can’t expect people to give their best at work if they don’t see you doing it, so be sure you’re always on your A game.” That means putting in the effort and getting results.

5. “Is a Good Communicator—Listens and Shares Information”

Communicating effectively is one of the basics of being a good manager (or a good employee for that matter). But it’s also important to remember that great managers prioritize listening.

“Focused, curious listening conveys an emotional and personal investment in those who work for us,” according to Muse contributor Kristi Hedges. “When you listen to people, they feel personally valued. It signals commitment.”

6. “Supports Career Development and Discusses Performance”

Google recently added the “discusses performance” component to this behaviour. The company pointed to research from Gallup that found only half of employees know what expectations they should be fulfilling at work.

“To free employees to take initiative and inspire high performance,” Gallup concluded, “managers need to set clear expectations, hold employees accountable for meeting them and respond quickly when employees need support.”

In other words, managers should not only help their team develop skills and advance their careers, but also be clear about expectations and give honest feedback about performance.

7. “Has a Clear Vision/Strategy for the Team”

Stephanie Davis, who won one of Google’s Great Manager Awards, told HBR that feedback reports helped her realize how important it was to communicate team vision in addition to company vision.

“They wanted me to interpret the higher-level vision for them,” she said. “So I started listening to the company’s earnings call with a different ear. I didn’t just come back to my team with what was said; I also shared what it meant for them.”

A clear and shared vision can also help members of your team work well together.


8. “Has Key Technical Skills to Help Advise the Team”

When Google first released its list of behaviors, the findings were somewhat anti-climactic. “My first reaction was, that’s it?” Laszlo Bock, then the Vice President of People Operations, told The New York Times in 2011.

The entries on the list may’ve been obvious, but their relative importance wasn’t, as Bock’s team found out when it ranked the behaviours.

“In the Google context, we’d always believed that to be a manager, particularly on the engineering side, you need to be as deep or deeper a technical expert than the people who work for you,” he said. “It turns out that that’s absolutely the least important thing. It’s important, but pales in comparison.”

So all hope isn’t lost if you find yourself managing people who know more than you.

9. “Collaborates Across Google”

Google recently extended its list by two when its employee survey found that effective cross-organization collaboration and stronger decision-making were important to Googlers.

Whether you’re at a large corporation, an early-stage startup, or a nonprofit, managing your team and leading it to success can depend at least in part on how well you can work with other teams.

Muse contributor Rebecca Andruszka gave some tips for improving communication with other departments for “the collective betterment of the company” (and, as she wrote, to avoid feeling like you work in Congress).

10. “Is a Strong Decision Maker”

Google’s last addition is a reminder that while it’s important for a manager to listen and share information, employees also appreciate one who can make decisions.

Muse Founder and President Alex Cavoulacos urged managers to go one step further and tell their teams not only what decision they’ve made, but also why they’ve made it. The small extra effort helps the team understand context and priorities, improve their own future decision-making, and stay engaged as well as informed.

One of the reasons this research was so effective was that it used internal data to prove what makes managers great at Google (and the company’s re:Work website provides some first steps for others who want to try to replicate its approach).

But that doesn’t mean the list isn’t helpful for people who don’t work there. After all, Google did go from being a made-up word to a household name in just a few years. People and companies now look to it as an example, not only in innovation, but also in its approach to management.




The Newcastle Permanent is marking 115 years in business. To the uninitiated, give us a snapshot of how it began?

Newcastle Permanent began in 1903 when a group of hardworking people who couldn’t get a home loan from the banks—because they weren’t wealthy—created a cooperative building society. They put their savings together to help everyone in the cooperative access a home loan and eventually everyone did. Fast forward 115 years and this is still the ethos of what we do today – helping people buy their own home.

The biggest milestones for the bank to date?

We now have more than $10 billion in assets and last financial year our loan growth exceeded that of the major banks. This asset portfolio makes us the largest customer-owned financial institution in NSW and the second-largest in Australia.

How many members do you have and what shape is the business in?

We have more than 320,000 customers predominantly in northern and central west NSW with strong growth in Sydney. We are the financially strongest customer-owned banking institution in Australia in terms of net assets.

The toughest moments for the building society in the past decade?

A stand out is the Global Financial Crisis. While Australia weathered the GFC storm relatively well, our government cooperated with an international banking regulatory framework to provide further protections for the global banking industry. This resulted in significant regulatory reform and oversight for Australian financial services operators. Add to this the need to respond to rapidly changing customer preferences for digital banking and it has certainly been an interesting decade.

And biggest highlight?

Reaching $10 billion in assets had been such an achievement, and for a business based right here in the Hunter!

The Royal Commission into Misconduct into the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has started and the big four are in the firing line. Will Newcastle Permanent make a submission?

It’s only early days, but at this stage is does not appear that we’ll be asked to participate in the Royal Commission.

Will the findings of the commission, due in 2018, affect your operations?

The Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission are quite broad and inquire into banking, superannuation, and the financial services industry. At the moment it is not really possible to predict what the outcomes and timings of the Royal Commission’s recommendations will be. However, it’s reasonable to expect there’ll be changes that will affect the entire industry, including Newcastle Permanent.

How can the Perm compete with the big four?

Our business model is different because we’re customer-owned. We don’t distribute profits to shareholders (because we don’t have shareholders), but instead reinvest our profits into the business to benefit our customers and their communities by keeping our loan and deposit rates very competitive.

What is the Perm doing via its Charitable Foundation that has a real impact?

This year the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation is also celebrating a milestone, marking 15 years of supporting our community. In this time the Foundation has provided more than $17.5 million to more than 420 life-changing and community initiatives.

Why is there nostalgia for the Perm in the Hunter?

The fact that we are often called “the Perm” says a lot! I think it’s the simple fact that we’ve always been here. Our head office is in the CBD, we employ almost 1,000 staff, we’re active in supporting our community, and at some stage of their life most Novocastrians have had a bank account with us. We’re intrinsically tied to the memories and lives of Novocastrians.

The Perm has had memorable ad campaigns, but did you expect the Sunshine Over My Shoulder song, created by local business The Proverbials, to become so loved?

We knew the 2012 ad campaign was special; majestically showcasing our region and how lucky we are that we can serve our region. But we never thought in our wildest dreams that the song would resonate so well and become a wedding song!

You worked at one of the big four before the Perm. How do the two differ?

At a big four all your work is devoted to lining the pockets of shareholders. At Newcastle Permanent, we’re all about people. Our mission statement is we are “Here for good” and that means for our customers, our people, the community, and the long term. This was a pleasant culture change coming from a big four where the community wasn’t even a consideration!

What innovation is ahead for the Perm?

Our customers are rapidly shifting their preferences to online banking. I think the last time our industry saw such a shake-up was when computers became the norm more than 30 years ago. We’re working towards a time where our customers, if they wish, will not need to visit a branch to do any of their banking—and that day isn’t too far away.



So, you’ve got a gap in your resume? Maybe you decided to travel, or go back to school, or maybe you looked after a sick relative, or you took time out to be a parent yourself. Whatever the reason, you’re probably feeling like your job hunt is going to be that much harder. Surely any recruiter looking at your resume is going to run a mile away.

Not necessarily.

Most employers nowadays recognize that it’s rare for anyone to stay with just one or two companies for their whole career. Plus, job security isn’t what it used to be (unfortunately).

As a recruiter, I’ve interviewed my fair share of candidates, and if there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s this. Think about how to present your gap. With a little foresight, you can turn a potentially tricky interview situation into a masterclass in personal branding.

1. So, You Lost Your Job
Some people find it embarrassing to talk about being laid off, but it’s unlikely to elicit anything but sympathy from your interviewer. It’s fairly commonplace these days. Just remember not to badmouth your past company or boss. Instead, focus your response on all the positive things you achieved while you were there.

Don’t Say
“That #!&$! company had it in for me from day one. I probably would’ve left anyway.”

Do Say
“Unfortunately, the company had to implement some budget cuts and, due to their ‘last-in, first-out’ policy, I was made redundant. However, I’m proud of what I achieved during my time there, something which can be reinforced by my previous manager, who’s one of my referees.”

2. So, You Quit Your Job and Traveled the World
The key with this one is to focus on how traveling contributed to your personal development, rather than how much fun you had schlepping around the world with nothing but a backpack and a smile. If you took on any paid or volunteer work during this time, concentrate your response on the additional personal and professional skills it’s given you.

Don’t Say
“Well let’s face it, partying in Thailand is a lot more fun than going to work. I’m pretty sure I had an awesome time, but I can’t actually remember most of it.”

Do Say
“I spent a number of years working at a company in a very demanding job, in which–as you’ll see from my references–I was very successful. But I’d reached a stage in my career where I wanted to focus on my personal growth. The time I spent traveling taught me a lot about how to get along with people of all ages and cultures. Now I feel more than ready to jump back into my career with renewed energy and focus and I feel this role is the ideal way to do that.”

3. So, You Went Back to School
This is perhaps the easiest one to explain. Particularly if what you did is relevant to your chosen career. Even if not, it’s easy to put positive spin on something that requires a certain level of intelligence and hard work.

Don’t say
“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, so I stayed in school rather than getting a job. I am still uncertain if this career path is right for me.”

Do Say
“I wanted to expand my career options by completing some training/getting a qualification in x. Now that I’ve achieved my educational goals, I’m looking forward to using my qualifications to benefit the company I work for. This role is the perfect way for me to do that because…”

4. So, You Took Time Off for Health Reasons
Brevity’s key here. The interviewer won’t expect (or want) you to go into painstaking detail about an attack of depression or a serious back operation. Prepare a straightforward explanation that you’re comfortable sharing. Mention how proud you are that you were able to overcome your health problems and then move the conversation swiftly into the present day by discussing the relevant skills you have to offer this company.

Don’t Say
“Whoa, yeah, things were pretty bad there for a while..”

Do Say
“I went through a tough time emotionally/physically due to… and I took some time out to concentrate on getting better, so I could get back to work as quickly as possible. I’m pleased that I overcame that challenge because it’s made me a stronger person but now I’m fully recovered and ready to focus on the next stage of my career.”

5. So, You Had to Take Care of Your Family
Remember, caring for the sick or elderly and raising a family are tough jobs that require a huge range of skills, which you now have in abundance. No interviewer should make you feel like your decision to prioritize family over career reflects badly on you.

If you had time to keep your skills and industry knowledge up to date, make sure you mention this. End the discussion by telling the interviewer that you’re excited to recommit yourself to your career. And remember, any company worth your time and effort should recognize what an all-round superhero you clearly are.

Don’t Say
“I live the closest to my mom so I drew the short straw in having to take care of her. I just couldn’t handle looking after her and holding down a job!”

Do Say
“After a lot of thought, I decided that my top priority was my child/elderly parent/sick spouse. However, I made sure to keep my professional skills up to date during that time. Now I’m in a position to refocus on my career and I’m looking forward to utilizing all the additional soft skills I’ve learnt.”

Lastly, remember that lying on your resume or in interview is a really bad idea. When you’re asked about a gap in your employment, take a deep breath and acknowledge the interviewer’s concern. Stay composed and don’t get defensive: it will reassure the interviewer that you’re confident and comfortable with your reasons so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be too.


Cessnock youth off street

Young people in Kurri Kurri and surrounding areas now have a place to meet new friends, get help with school work and seek information on a range of services.

Youth Off The Streets’ Hunter Valley Outreach has officially opened its drop-in centre at 35 Station Street, Weston.

The drop-in centre is located next door to the service’s former premises, which had room for office space and not much else.

Hunter Valley Outreach manager Kim Lenard said it was a goal of hers to move into the bigger space since she started with the service eight months ago.

“The young people are pretty excited to have somewhere extra to go,” she said.

The drop-in centre will operate on weekday afternoons, and Ms Lenard said she hopes other community organisations will be able to use the space earlier in the day.

Along with office space for Ms Lenard and her three staff, the new site has games tables, books and space for young people to socialise.

Youth Off The Streets’ director of outreach services Ranna Peera said while its outreach programs are mainly focused on visiting areas where youth already congregate (such as skate parks), the drop-in centre provides young people with an added option to access its services.

“It’s not a typical thing for us, but we have trialled it, and it has worked,” she said.

“It’s an added option that could be of great benefit for young people.”

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson conducted the official opening on Thursday afternoon.

Ms Swanson – who grew up in Heddon Greta – said the drop-in centre could make a difference in the lives of local youth.

“I know what it feels like to be a kid from a town where there’s not a lot to do sometimes,” she said.

“There’s no beach on your doorstep, and limited public transport options, so it’s great that we we have things here for young people to do.

“It could be that intersection in the road where they come along and have that conversation that could put them on a different path.”

The Weston drop-in centre will be open weekdays, with structured activities for under-12s on Tuesdays (3.30pm to 6pm); homework help and tutoring on Wednesdays (3.30pm to 4.30pm) and over-12s’ activities on Thursdays (3.30pm to 6pm).

Hunter Valley Outreach also run programs at East Cessnock Skate Park on Monday afternoons from 3.30pm to 6.30pm, and Kurri Skate Park on Friday nights from 5.30pm to 9pm.




You know the feeling. You’ve been selling for a few years, you’re regularly hitting your numbers, and you think you’re ready for a promotion. But sales is a labour-intensive job. The day-to-day stress can be deflating, and most of the time, it takes everything you’ve got just to meet your goal.

So, how do you get to the next level without taking your foot off the revenue pedal? Not by working an extra three hours every day—that’s only going to burn you out. Instead, do a few little things every day to flex your leadership muscles and still meet goals.

Here are five smalls tasks to incorporate into your daily workflow to build towards a promotion. And remember, it’s not about getting the position, it’s about becoming the person who deserves the position.

1. Help Your Colleagues
You might not have the title of sales leader, but by helping your co-workers you can start being a leader on your floor today. After all, a title won’t make people follow you, their trust and belief in you will—and you don’t need a title to build that.

New reps always need help when they start. Ask if you can help them ramp up and find success. It might be as simple as telling them how to access certain software or letting a new rep listen to a few of your calls. Or, offer to do a few ride-alongs.

When you have small talk with co-workers, ask them how they’re doing and really listen to their response. Then, ask to help.

A few months ago, I noticed a recently promoted colleague struggling to perform. We decided to review a few call recordings and see if we could identify gaps. Turns out, an hour of my time was enough to kick his performance into high gear.

2. Stop Eating Alone
If you’re like me, you’re glued to your computer and phone most of the day, spilling lunch on your keyboard and slurping down quick mugs of coffee on your way back from the kitchen.

Instead of staring at your screen for 10 straight hours, use lunch or coffee breaks to network. If you sell for a company with multiple sales teams, meet with reps and leadership in other teams to learn what their segments are experiencing.

Learn how they made it to where they are today. What was their first job? Did they attend any special trainings or classes? What was their big break, and what did they do once they got there? Pick someone who’s career you’d like to emulate and ask them what steps you should take to achieve the same type of growth.

3. Understand the Skills You Need
And find out how to get them. Be honest with yourself—you’ll need to know how to do more than hit an individual quota when it comes to managing a team.

If you’re a great salesperson but don’t know how to interview people, ask your boss, “If I hit 115% of goal, can I sit in on your next interview call?”

Have hiring down but need to be better at running efficient meetings? Ask for the opportunity to run your team’s weekly call review if you exceed next month’s goal. Need to work on one-on-one coaching? Ask if you can mentor someone on the sales team.

It might be hard in the beginning, but telling your boss you’d rather receive these opportunities than a bonus will show how serious you are about making it to the next level.

4. Solve a Problem
To find growth opportunities, look for company or team gaps and fill them. Is there a communication gap between sales and marketing? Find out how to fix it. Does your company have a major initiative coming up? Get ahead by solving potential pain points.

I knew someone who kept getting crushed by competitors when he was a sales rep. He was selling software that was difficult to install, and his competitors beat him every time because they had partnerships with software implementation specialists.

Instead of taking this problem to his boss and complaining, he made his own deal with an implementation company and started winning business—a lot of business.

His company took notice of the increased volume and asked for his secret. When he told them what he’d been doing, they decided to scale his partnership framework and put him in charge.

5. Always Be Learning
Leadership requires a broad skill set, and reading gives you the alternative strategies you need to excel in your daily work. If you’re not reading sales books and blogs, you should be.

Think you don’t have time? Load up on sales and leadership podcasts or audiobooks on your commute or while you’re cooking dinner.

And, if your company offers class reimbursement, take advantage and enroll in local or online seminars.

Lastly, regularly attend meetups or other networking events in your city. You can learn as much from other people facing similar challenges as you can from the pages of a book.

It’s one thing to want a promotion and another thing to work for one. Start by incorporating these five strategies into your workflow, and see your manager and co-workers take notice.



Young classical musicians will be performing at events across the Hunter thanks to a new support program.

The money comes from Newcastle City Council’s Support for Arts and Cultural Organisations program.

The Newcastle Youth Orchestra (NYO), Catapult Dance and The Lock-Up were announced as the first recipients for the funding.

“The project based funding is designed to support the growth and vitality of Newcastle’s arts and cultural,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

NYO’s project includes over a dozen public performances over the course of its two-year grant period, professional development opportunities for its musicians, expanding its performances beyond Newcastle to Singleton and the Central Coast, and the purchase of new music.

Orchestra Manager Sally Ebert said the organisation was grateful for the opportunity.

“NYO is a relatively new organisation, we’re entering our sixth year, and this support will help us take our performances to the next level and cement our reputation in the region,” Ms Ebert said.

While the first round projects are getting underway, other Newcastle based arts and cultural organisations are invited to apply for the second round of funding, with expressions of interest now open.

The next round of funding will be allocated to two eligible organisations for projects to commence in the 2018-19 financial year. A total of $100,000 is available, subject to final adoption of council’s annual budget for 2018-19. An organisation may apply for up to $70,000 per year for up to three years.




I feel like I need more than just a traditional resume or cover letter in order to stand out to the tech companies I want to work for. What else can I do to separate myself from the competition that’s applying to these innovative companies?


Dear Desperate to Stand Out,

You really hit the nail on the head. Competition’s tough across the board and tech is leading the way.

Your first step to getting noticed is to get in the right mindset. What does that mean? Don’t think like a recruiter, but more like a marketer. Your product is your experience. Here’s how a marketer would sell it.

1. Focus on Presentation
Maybe you’re not a graphic designer, but that shouldn’t be stand in the way of creating an eye-catching resume. There are plenty of tools that make design easy for everyone—many even offer templates designed by experts.

And don’t just stop there. Think of all the other points of contact a recruiter could have with you—including your LinkedIn profile, other social media handles, a blog, an online portfolio, and so on. Make sure they are all polished and contribute to a cohesive personal brand.

2. Spread the Word
A solid resume or cover letter doesn’t accomplish anything if the right people don’t see it. One surefire way to stand out is to proactively put it in front of the right people and to make it easy for them to notice it.

For example, there’s a story of a candidate who used Snapchat geo filters to advertise his portfolio in front of creative directors at the agencies he wanted to work for. You may not want to go that far, but that core idea has some merit. Think of how you can make yourself discoverable.

Don’t be intimidated. This can be something as straightforward as finding an acquaintance who works at the company and asking for a referral, or even dropping a friendly note to the hiring manager on Twitter or LinkedIn.

3. Make it Personal
Anything that starts with the dreaded, “To Whom it May Concern” will find it’s way to the trash can in a hurry. But, it’s hard to ignore a message when it’s highly targeted and personalized.

Start by showing that you took the time to get to know both the hiring manager and the company. Stand out from the competition by finding unique themes, attributes, projects, values, or needs you have in common and then incorporating those into your application materials.

Proving that you’ve done your homework on the role and the company empowers you to present yourself as a seamless fit, while also demonstrating your high level of interest in that opportunity.

Getting the job you want with the company you want to work for can be challenging. But, the right mindset and approach will help you reach your goals faster.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns.




NEWCASTLE could become Australia’s answer to Nashville if Mick Starkey and the city’s tourism chiefs can bring their dream for the city’s nightlife to reality.

Mr Starkey, the operator of the Stag & Hunter in Mayfield, is pushing a bold plan to bring together the pieces of the city’s music scene into a unified attraction that can drive tourism into the city.

Rather than focusing entirely on offering acts places to play, Mr Starkey said he wanted to make the city a place for musicians to develop, live, record and prosper – in turn boosting the economy. His vision has garnered backing from the Newcastle Tourism Industry Group.

Chairman Gus Maher said making the city a cradle of creativity had broad appeal. “Both young and more mature travellers participate in the arts, which live music typifies,” Mr Maher said.

“They will stay overnight, eat, drink and spend in local venues – all of which contributes to economic development and jobs.”

Mr Starkey pointed to storied music cities like the country music capital and New Orleans as examples where “people travel the world to go there”, saying many of the raw materials already exist in the city.

He said he was hopeful the NTIG backing would help the idea spread. “There’s many spokes in this wheel and they can be the group to bring it together,” he said.

“We’ve got some amazing talent that isn’t being seen,” he said. “There’s all these ancillary industries too, we’ve got a number of studios that are doing amazing things.”

“Whilst it currently exists on a smaller scale, I want us to be recognised internationally and not only draw people from Newcastle, Sydney and NSW but from around the world.”

Mr Starkey said he wanted to form a working group and lobby MPs to create a new story around the city’s nightlife that would attract visitors. “For 10 years it’s been touted as a bloodbath,” he said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily about trading hours, I think it’s about messaging, saying that we are a great and artistic area.”

While he conceded building the reputation would be a “slow-burn”, he said the benefits would branch out far beyond the music scene.

“People talk about how great Newcastle was in the ’80s and fostering these great bands … times have changed but we want to encourage that,” he said.

“If collectively we are marketed in a way for people who come to see live music and original music, there’s going to be benefits to that.”



Let’s be clear: It’s innovate or die out there.

Ideas are the currency that buys you a starring role in today’s workplace. But too many people prioritize ownership over adoption, and watch their ideas waste away as a result. Truth is, you’ll be more effective if you work collaboratively with a team to turn ideas into action.

Here’s why you should ditch the old ideation silo and give your best thoughts to the group.


Team Buy-In Makes Things Happen
Ideas are often the prelude to change, and change generally rubs people the wrong way. So, how to get around the very human—but avoidable—friction that comes from shaking things up? Go out of your way to gain your team’s buy-in on the things that may affect them.

Especially if you’re a manager, inclusive decision-making may not only get you a better outcome by melding more minds during the ideation and decision-making processes, it ensures that the team understands the motives and considerations behind new ways of working. Ultimately that means less pushback, a deeper awareness about what led to decisions in the first place, and a more evenly distributed stake in the outcome.

Whether or not you’re a manager, this is a good way to conquer any resistance to change.


Tap Into a More Diverse Range of Opinions
A team brainstorm may be no better than a private one if everyone in the group thinks the same way. You need to mix it up.

Study after study has shown that diverse groups—gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, age, etc.—produce better ideas and make better decisions. Cloverpop, a company that tracks companies’ decisions to help them manage the decision-making process, found in a two-year study that gender-mixed teams comprising a wide range of ages and geographic representations made better decisions than homogeneous teams 87 percent of the time.

Makes sense. People with different backgrounds have different outlooks, motivations and experiences that shape their contributions at work. Hearing their voices and ideas produces a more well-rounded exchange of thoughts vetted by a wider variety of perspectives.

You may have to do some work to get a good mix of people in the room, but it’s worth it. While you’re at it, don’t discount less obvious diversity factors, like years of experience and time at your company.


See How Ideas Hold Up Against Messy Human Stuff
We’re all human, and regardless of race or gender or any of the other factors above, we’re simply wired differently.

For example, think about Myers-Briggs psychological types. People have different ways of perceiving and interpreting information, different thought patterns and emotional reflexes. The idealists on your team will have different ideas than the cynics. The process-oriented people will see things differently from the gut-driven types.

Working through ideas with a mix of personalities will help you find middle ground and flesh out a plan of action that works for everyone.


Test Your Assumptions
Idea sharing can be a valuable vetting exercise if everyone’s encouraged to speak candidly. Ask people to poke holes in your logic, to prove why your proposal won’t work, and to name every single thing that could possibly go wrong. The harder to tear down, the better the idea. Use the feedback to reformulate your idea until you’ve patched the flaws.

If you’re a team lead, this is even more critical. Sometimes you have to design new ways of working but you’re not the best person to do so because you’re not the closest to the facts on the ground—the people who work for you are. They can probably see the peril that lurks in a new idea right off the bat, and they’ll respect you more for recognizing that and hearing what they have to say.


Turn Ideas Into Action
In some ways, the idea is the easy part. The real challenge is executing.

If you think of ideas not as inventions that come out of thin air but as innovative solutions to complex problems, you and your team will have a better foundation for brainstorming.

And in the end, you’ll have a much easier time activating ideas if they’re vetted by a diverse group willing to provide constructive criticism, even if it means swallowing some pride and surrendering credit for the outcome.


Serving the region’s needs

Posted by | January 28, 2018 | Community

Maitland private

With a continued commitment to investing in private health care services in the greater Hunter Region; Maitland Private Hospital, a member of the Healthe Care Group, has introduced a new ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) service to the region, capitalising on recent investments in state-of-the-art surgical theatres and equipment.

Maitland Private Hospital CEO, Sue Ellen Blomfield, believes that the introduction of the new specialists is a win for the residents of the Maitland and Greater Hunter region.

“By investing in such equipment and advanced surgical theatres we can attract the best surgeons to our region. This means that Hunter residents no longer need to travel to Sydney or further afield to access the very best care available.

“The demand for ENT services in the greater Hunter region is clear, with many ENT specialists having excessive waiting periods, for both consultations and procedures. The addition of five new ENT Specialists to the area has already begun to alleviate these excessive wait times.

“With 156 beds, six operating theatres, new day surgery unit, and plans to expand further, we are actively engaging with the community to ensure we focus investment on servicing identified needs within our region.”

Surgeries ranging from tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy and grommets to advanced airway reconstructions, otology, rhinology and laryngology are just a few of the ENT procedures performed at Maitland Private Hospital.

Patients wishing to book a consultation can be seen by a specialist within a fortnight, and their surgery performed within a month.




Newcastle business owners looking for compensation to reduce the impact of light rail construction have instead been offered advice and assistance from a service that’s already available to businesses across NSW.

It was NSW Small Business Commissioner Robyn Hobbs’ main offer of help to more than 120 business people she addressed in Newcastle on Wednesday at an emotionally-charged meeting that ended with shouting from the floor. Ms Hobbs also offered to be part of a new working group to help businesses in the coming months and said Newcastle traders that required mediation wouldn’t face the $750 fee that the final stage usually costs.

 But several CBD business owners spoke of the hardship that they and their neighbours had faced since construction had closed large sections of Hunter Street. They called for better access, compensation and a greater effort to draw people back into the city.

Paul Murphy, who owns Churchills Carpet Court, argued that the state government should make low-interest loans or grants available to businesses, similar to what was offered in the wake of the 1989 earthquake. Traffic engineer Ron Brown said the difficulties people currently faced driving into the city was “a big obstacle”.

Ms Hobbs said the situation in Sydney, where the government was granting rent relief to businesses in the light rail construction zone because of delays, was different from the Hunter’s situation.

While she was “not ruling out” advocating for a grant, loan or compensation program for Newcastle businesses, she cautioned that extensive investigations would have to take place before she would approach NSW Treasury.

“I appreciate the fact that you believe you are going through a disrupted period in your lives – and you are,” she said. “One of the difficult things is you have to live through it.”

Ms Hobbs said business owners were entitled to four free consultations with Business Connect, a support service available across NSW that can help sort out cash-flow problems, give social media advice, provide mediation and contact landlords on behalf of business owners.

Late in the meeting when Ms Hobbs was referring to the expected benefits light rail would bring to the city, an audience member yelled: “if we’re still here”.

Another attendee followed: “Newcastle businesses will be doing great when it’s all done, but they’ll be different businesses”.

Hunter Development Corporation CEO and Revitalising Newcastle project manager Michael Cassel also took questions and gave an update on the progress of the light rail project.

Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said the issue of assistance for businesses was “unresolved and something we are going to have to work on”.

Mr Hawes and executive manager of business advocacy group Newcastle Now Michael Neilson – whose groups organised the meeting at the suggestion of Ms Hobbs’ office – both said the key to getting through the difficult period was working together and “looking forward, not looking back”.

In a statement after the meeting, Mr Hawes said “there was a lot of emotion in the room” and business owners had delivered a clear message.

Call for access, not more advertising

If you ask Bernie Hockings, easing the pain of light rail construction for city businesses isn’t about getting the job done quicker – it’s about doing it “better”.

Mr Hockings, who owns Metro Cycles, was one of several frustrated business owners who made their feelings clear to NSW Small Business Commissioner Robyn Hobbs at a meeting on Wednesday. His comments came after Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel assured the gathering that the job was being completed as quickly as possible.

Mr Hockings dismissed suggestions from the crowd that loans or grants should be available to affected businesses – he said improving access to businesses should be the top priority.

“I don’t want more advertising, I want access. Do it better, not faster,” he said. “If you paid me to get out of my lease and out of the city, I would.”

He told the Herald he had been hesitant to speak up because when he had in the past, internet trolls targeted his business’ Facebook page.




Being stuck in a rut sucks. If there’s one thing I could wish for you, it’s that you never have to deal with a situation that holds you back from being happy, successful, or fulfilled.

That, unfortunately, is an unrealistic wish (even more unrealistic than wishing I could turn everything I touch into chocolate). Because like failure, ruts are inevitable. And the good news about that not-so-fun fact is that they ultimately help make us stronger, smarter, and more successful individuals.

Just look at a few people in your life who you admire—how many of them went through a struggle that forced them to reevaluate their goals or path?

Since I’m someone who doesn’t love surprises (except the birthday kind), I’m going to tell you right now exactly which ruts you’ll find yourself in throughout your career.


1. Being Bored
No matter how much you love your job, how many hours you work, or how large the pile of to-dos is on your desk, there will come a time when you will find yourself suddenly underwhelmed, unmotivated, or unstimulated at your job for days on end.

It could be for a number of reasons. Maybe your boss has stopped challenging you. Or, maybe you’re making the mistake of not seeking out challenges, or looking for exciting projects. Or, maybe you’ve found yourself in a new role that isn’t as exciting as you thought it would be.

Whatever the reason, boredom is usually pretty fixable. You can ask your boss for better projects, or see if you can chip in on what other teams are working on, or find ways to keep learning, like taking online classes or attending conferences related to your industry. If that still leaves you no better than you were before, it may be time to move on and find a role that’s more engaging.

2. Feeling Unhappy
Unhappiness is a more serious sign to keep an eye on.

Why is it so much more common than we realize? Because for one, we’re fickle beings—we’re always changing our minds and shifting our priorities. Which means the things we want in our careers now may change one, two, five years from now. That’s OK!

The other reason is because sometimes we’re really bad at recognizing when we’re miserable. We’ll place the blame on other things (woke up on the wrong side of the bed, had a bad commute, a crazy boss) rather than accept that something bigger is affecting us.Figure out what is making you unhappy and use that information to decide what your next steps will be.

Maybe it means transferring roles internally, changing companies, or switching industries entirely. Or maybe it’s even more simple than that. Maybe it’s talking to your boss about an overwhelming workload. Or asking your co-worker to stop talking to you when you’re working at your desk.

Whatever the cause, take the time to identify it and start making moves to solve it.

3. Doubting Your Career Path
Unless you’re very lucky, you won’t find yourself satisfied in the same role in the same industry throughout your entire career.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re unsure about what you want to do next—even if you’ve spent 10 years in your role and are now doubting everything. The good news is that it’s never too late to make a change, whatever that means for you. The even better news is that you don’t have to have it all figured out when you’re 30, 40, 50.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “When you are finished changing, you’re finished.” Don’t be finished.


4. Feeling Like Nothing’s Going Right
Ever have those months when nothing’s going right? You keep messing up basic tasks, your manager keeps sending your work back with heavy revisions, your co-workers keep shutting down your ideas?

It could be your fault—if you’re job searching, for example, and getting nowhere, it might be worth reconsidering you’re approach.

But it could also be due to external forces, like a company restructuring or a bad boss. If so, it’s worth figuring out whether these can be fixed, and if not, what steps you can take to better set yourself up for success.


5. Having to Deal With a (Big) Change
Your company just went through a huge merger, half your department got laid off, you got laid off, they brought in a new boss, or oyou’ve moved to an entirely new city for a job.

One day, something major will happen that will shake up how you do things and think about your career. While it’s practically impossible to prepare for something like this, remember that it’s common. And, that it’s salvageable. And, that the feelings of loss and doubt and frustration and sadness won’t last forever. And, that you’ll come out stronger and more equipped to handle anything that comes your way. If you don’t believe me, read this.


The last thing I want to emphasize is that it’s easy to feel alone when you’re in these ruts, or that no one understands what you’re going through. But I can confidently tell you that everyone experiences these. Why else would I write this article?

So, don’t be afraid to admit when you’re in one—if you don’t, you’ll regret not making a change sooner. And if you still feel like the only one, chat with people just like you (and get some reassuring advice) on our Stuck in a Rut discussions platform.




The man in charge of rolling out Newcastle’s new bus network says it will be a “quantum step up” for commuters in the city.

Mark Dunlop took over from Keolis Downer Hunter chief executive Campbell Mason in December after 33 years in South Australia’s public transport system.

On Sunday, he will take the wheel as Keolis Downer’s Newcastle Transport launches an overhaul of bus routes and timetables six months after the state government privatised the network.

Mr Dunlop, who moved to Newcastle in September, said his team had drawn on customer and driver feedback, Opal data and the company’s Australian and international experience to devise the network.

“Overall, from what I’ve looked at this network, I’m very confident that the package overall is a quantum step up,” he said.

“The network here hasn’t changed since 2008, and, whilst I haven’t been in Newcastle for that long, but with any community the dynamics and geography and social parameters change over that time.

“Something that traditionally ran down the street in 1953 is going to change.

“Yes, will there be issues? Will there be people trying to work through it? It’s a big change. We understand that. We understand it can be daunting.”

Some commuters have complained about losing direct bus services to the CBD and other key destinations, such as shopping centres.

Mr Dunlop said the new network was based on routes feeding into “spines” of high-frequency services, which would require more transfers for some commuters.

“It’s all about high-frequency routes and feeding into those and giving more travel options. There are people who will have to change a bus, but that’s all been built in and timetabled.

“It’s not hop off a bus and wait 20 minutes.

“It’s all been timetabled to connect and you’re on a spine that’s with a 15-minute frequency.

“Our operations team and designers have worked hard to make sure that all meshes together.”

The company, which also runs bus networks in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, has drawn flak from Newcastle commuters and the government for underpaying drivers and cancelling services.

The Newcastle Herald reported this week that on-time running statistics for buses had deteriorated in the three months after Keolis Downer took over, a problem the company attributed to “Supercars, school formals and King Street congestion”.

Mr Dunlop would not disclose the firm’s targets for increased patronage on the new network but was confident the timetables had been “appropriately timed to real conditions”.

“I think all of us have to acknowledge what everyone’s been dealing with in traversing Newcastle,” he said. “That’s a matter of life, but the new network has taken that into account.”

He said the company would continue to adapt the network based on customer feedback.

Keolis Downer will have “travel concierges” and pink-shirted customer service staff on board buses and ferries from Sunday to help commuters.



Worried what your boss thinks of you—if they like you, trust you, and think your contributions match up to their expectations?

If so, you’re not alone. Considering you’ll end up spending 10 years of your life at work, getting along with your boss is not only critical to succeeding in your career, but matters for your overall happiness and engagement at the office.

With that in mind, here are three easy ways to develop an effective, productive, and mutually rewarding relationship with your manager (even if they’re a tough cookie to crack):

1. Stop Using Email to Have Important Conversations
Is email your go-to forum for everything? In certain cases, it could be hurting your relationship. Even if it’s your manager’s favorite medium, it’s time to break the pattern of always relying on this.

Opt for in-person meetings if the conversation’s beyond a task or agenda-setting item—for example, if you’re asking for something or apologizing for a mistake. Not only is it just polite, it’ll most likely lead to a more productive discussion and help ensure you and your boss are truly on the same page.

“All of us are the worst possible version of ourselves in digital media,” adds Celeste Headlee, journalist and author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. “We might think we are persuasive in email, but scientifically, we are so much more persuasive in person.”

2. See Your Relationship With Your Boss as a Two-Way Street
Too often, we see ourselves as the executors and our managers as the creators of work, forgetting that our manager is also responsible for their own assignments.

So, if you want to immediately improve your relationship, ask them this simple question: “What can I do for you?” By opening up this conversation, you open the door for them to delegate projects they may not have otherwise considered. And, taking on stretch assignments can improve your visibility and lead to career advancement.

3. Be a Good Recipient of Feedback (and Ask Pointed Questions)

Get in the mindset that you want actual, honest feedback—and be physically ready for it.
Even if the feedback seems insensitive, kindly explain how the approach hurt your feelings, but then ask questions to get at the root of the problem, making it clear you really do want to improve. If you’re a good feedback recipient, your boss will be more likely to share valuable advice with you, which will ultimately help you grow.

And, if you’re finding that you only getting positive feedback, ask your manager to be more specific, or try mentioning something you wish you’d handled differently.

“If you open a dialogue with self-reflection, you give your boss—who might be uncomfortable giving you criticism—the opportunity to go on the learning journey with you,” advises Denise Cox, VP of Technical Services at Cisco Systems.

Finally, don’t wait for periodic reviews to get constructive feedback. If you can, ask your manager to schedule time to meet one-on-one weekly or monthly.

Research by Gallup shows that 50% of employees leave their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career,” which means building the right kind of relationship with your boss can make a real difference to your job satisfaction and career progression. Plus, it’ll make your friends and family find you much more enjoyable to be around outside of work.




Newcastle City Council has welcomed a $5 million Australian Government grant to deploy digital technology to make it easier to move around the city and run it more efficiently.

The Smart Move Newcastle project, part of Council’s Smart City vision, will integrate digital technology in vehicles and infrastructure to deliver a more convenient multi-modal transport system and yield productivity and energy efficiency gains.

In addition to the $5 million contribution, Newcastle City Council together with partners will contribute $10 million. Key city partners include Keolis Downer, the University of Newcastle, Eighteen04, CSIRO and RDA Hunter.

The federal funding will support a range of initiatives including:
• A pilot electric vehicle hub on the city fringe with chargers for electric cars and e-bikes for hire
• On-demand bus transport offering a more personalised service
• Autonomous vehicle trials
• Bus stops with technology to provide users with real-time information, such as when the next bus is due and how many seats are available
• Roads and intersections with real-time traffic analysis to give emergency vehicles green lights and commuters a heads up on traffic jams
• Inroad sensors to provide data on parking availability via apps
• Sensors in buildings to monitor and manage energy use and provide business insights
• Cameras in smart light poles to analyse cloud coverage and estimate solar energy production

The announcement follows the NSW Government’s $10 million commitment to the $17.8 million Hunter Innovation Project (HIP) in September last year.

The HIP is now delivering smart city infrastructure throughout Newcastle’s CBD and will establish an innovation hub for researchers, industry and entrepreneurs to commercialise ideas and promote economic development.



The prospect of returning to work after years away from my career was daunting. I faced a host of challenges: a lack of recent and relevant experience, outdated corporate skills, and uncertainty about my Baby Boomer place in a Millennial-focused world.

I still thought, however, based upon my early career success and an advanced degree in my field, that I’d get a great offer in no time. It didn’t happen. My strategy—jumping into a role that was the wrong fit (and later leaving), followed by picking up consulting gigs here and there and then trying to explain it all in a resume with gaps and changes—was failing. I needed a strategic shift.

So I changed everything, from how I was approaching the job search process to my end goal. As a result, I applied for and landed a returnship, with Goldman Sachs. (If you’ve never heard of it, a returnship is an internship for people returning to the workforce.) It enabled me to add current and substantive experience to my resume, and reset my career path so I could once again move forward.

Here are the six most important lessons I learned in my quest to get back on track.

1. Update Your Online Presence
Being a somewhat tech-savvy boomer, I had a LinkedIn profile.

But too many people have ones that are lackluster or outdated. If that’s you, place this at the top of your to-do list. Both recruiters and hiring managers use the site to find and screen candidates.

I left off dates for my degrees to minimize age bias, and truncated my experience to the past 10 to 15 years (I recommend you do the same!).

2. Network—Always
You may think that networking is just for young professionals who need to meet new people. That’s simply not true. It’s beneficial regardless of your age.

For example, I had a friend put in a good word for me, and I know that helped me to be considered for the role at Goldman.

Here are four things you should start doing (if you’re not already):

Periodically touch base with professional contacts. Be memorable by sending a personal note and an interesting article once a month.
Let the other person know that you respect their time by being specific when you have an “ask.” Say (or write): “I’d really appreciate your perspective—can we speak/meet for 15 minutes?” And then stick with that time commitment.
Extend your network. Ask your contacts to connect you with their contacts.
Follow-up with a thank you note, every time. Take it to the next level by offering to be of help if they ever need your perspective or expertise.

3. Make it Easy for People to Help You
If you’re asking someone to refer you, give them everything they need, so they can simply send along your details.

So, if you’re applying to a role at their company, this includes the job name, job number, your resume, and bullets outlining what skills and experience you’d bring that match the requirements for the role.

People are busy, and so if you give them a complete email they can simply forward, it’s a lot more likely it’ll get passed on.

4. Refine Your Elevator Pitch
When you’ve had a lot of experience, it’s important (though often hard) to be clear about your objectives.

What are your areas of expertise?

What type of role are you looking for?

It’ll be tempting to rattle off everything you’ve done in the past, or say, “I can really do anything.” But a long speech can be overwhelming for listeners—and can make you look overqualified—and unfocused. So, cut it down and zero in on one thing you want the other person to come away with. My rule of thumb is that it should be no longer than 30 seconds.

5. Practice Self-Care
Unreturned emails, closed doors, and rejection all sting. But, it happens to pretty much everyone, especially when you’re outside the “sweet spot” of hiring prospects.

There’ll be surprises for better and worse: People that you’d have bet would be right there to help aren’t; and people you barely knew will do all they can.

So, it’s all the more important to be kind to yourself: go the gym, meet friends, and see a movie! That stuff may seem frivolous when you’re job searching, but it’ll help you feel happier—and keep you from letting your identity be wrapped up in your professional life.

6. Pay it Forward
Once you’ve landed in your new role, do what you can to help a colleague or friend of a friend. It could be at work, like offering to mentor junior employees.

Or, it could be that someone contacts you seeking your advice. Remember how you felt when you were job searching and do your best to find the time!

And of course, when you’re hiring in the future, give those who’ve had winding career paths a second look.

After my 10-week returnship program ended, I was asked to stay on for another year—and I did, happily. When my role recently came to an end, leaving Goldman Sachs was bittersweet.

But one thing that made me feel better is that I knew I was ready to find my next, more permanent position. On this search, I have not only a solid and recent accomplishment to leverage, but all of the lessons I’ve learned the last time around, as well as some new and treasured Millennial friends.



Hunter Young Professionals (hyp) is seeking community champions, thought leaders and change agents for their 2018 board.

The local networking organisation specifically targeting young professionals is looking for individuals who are passionate about their cause to join the organisation with enthusiasm, desire and focus.

President, James Callender said a position on the hyp board provides opportunities to challenge one’s self, meet new people, learn new skills and advocate for the growth and direction of our local community.

 “2017 has been a strong year for hyp. Our membership continues to grow as young professionals gravitate towards the annual learning journey that we facilitate. The 2017 impact journey featuring local and national keynote speakers saw record event attendance and new venue activation,” James said.

“We have come a long way this year and we are looking forward to seeing and experiencing where the new board will take the organisation in 2018.”

Nominees for the 2018 hyp board are expected to combine their acquired skill set with a desire to learn, collaborate, facilitate and grow as a professional. The organisation supports four key focus areas of communications, events, membership and sponsorship.

To be eligible to nominate for a board position and vote at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), it is a constitutional requirement that you are a registered voting member of HYP and between the age of 18 and 40. HYP membership is free.

Nominations are open for the 2018 Hunter Young Professionals board until 31 December. Voting will take place at the organisation’s AGM on Tuesday 30 January 2018 at Queens Wharf Hotel.

“If you want 2018 to be a year of change, challenge, reward and recognition, nominate yourself for the hyp Board,” James said.

“It’s a chance to learn, contribute to the community and inspire others.”




Whether you consider this fact disheartening or motivating, you can’t deny its truth: You probably spend more time with your co-workers than you do with anyone else.

When you’re in the office at least 40 hours per week, the people you work with become a big part of your life. So it pays to have solid relationships with them.

Not only does that give you a strategic advantage in the workplace (hey, it never hurts to be well-liked!), it also makes work that much more enjoyable.

If you don’t consider yourself particularly close with your colleagues, don’t worry—cultivating a more caring and supportive atmosphere at work doesn’t need to be a complicated undertaking.

Here are four super simple things you can do to show your co-workers that you care and, as a result, make your office a place that you look forward to spending time in.

1. Offer Help

Think of the last time you were struggling at work. Maybe you were swamped and overwhelmed, or perhaps you were stuck on a challenging project.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had stopped by your desk and provided some advice? Or even offered to take something off your plate? Wouldn’t that alone have made you feel so much more valued and supported?

Absolutely. So, why not do that same thing for a colleague? When you see someone who’s stressed or confused, just ask: Is there anything I can do to help?

Even if your co-worker doesn’t actually take you up on your offer, just the fact that you recognized the challenge and wanted to do something about it goes a long way in fostering a more empathetic culture.

2. Get Personal

No, you don’t need to get too personal—after all, you’re still in the office.

But, even though you’re in a work setting, aim to forge a relationship with the whole person—not just a job title.

This means that the more you can get to know about your colleagues’ interests and passions outside the office, the easier it will be to connect with them on a more human level.

Whether it’s asking about his marathon training or admiring her desktop background featuring a photo from her recent vacation, don’t neglect to strike up the occasional small talk. Doing so will demonstrate your investment in them, while also giving you common ground that you can use to connect even further.

3. Provide Recognition

Everybody loves to get a pat on the back for a job well done—that’s universal. But gratitude and adequate recognition can easily fall by the wayside when we’re wrapped up in the chaos of our everyday lives.

Step up and be that colleague who always applauds the hard work of your team members. Maybe that involves sending a quick Slack message to let her know how much you enjoyed her presentation. Or, perhaps it means highlighting your co-worker’s contributions when your boss commends you for your own hard work on a recent project.

These sorts of comments might seem small, but they can make a huge impact when it comes to helping others in your office feel valued.

4. Do Something Nice

Little acts of kindness won’t go unnoticed—particularly in the office. So, when’s the last time you did something nice just because you felt like it?

Go ahead and pick up some bagels on your way into work one morning (when in doubt, free food is always effective). When you’re heading out for lunch, ask that colleague who looks insanely busy if you can get anything for him.

Your co-workers are sure to appreciate those little niceties and treats that you sneak in every now and then. Plus, as an added bonus, doing these sorts of things makes you feel good too!

These four strategies are great for showing your co-workers that you actually care about them. And they’re incredibly simple and take almost zero effort on your part.

So, if you’re eager to forge better, more supportive relationships with your colleagues (and if you aren’t, you definitely should be!), put these four tips to work. You’re sure to become one of the most-liked people in your office—while simultaneously cultivating a more positive atmosphere for your entire team.




The story of Newcastle’s urban renewal project has been squeezed into road cases and is set to roll out to Australian cities and towns.

The mobile exhibition, ‘Renew In A Box’, is on display at Newcastle Library until the end of January, and will be offered in conjunction with Renew Newcastle’s not-for-profit consultancy service.

Renew Newcastle is a social enterprise project that finds spaces for artists and creatives over the short- and medium-term, within buildings or outdoors, in Newcastle’s CBD that are currently vacant, not used, or awaiting redevelopment.

Buildings were “borrowed” for the project, Renew Newcastle’s general manager Christopher Saunders said.

“And that’s what you’ll see in these boxes.”

An independent economic study by the Centre of Full Employment and Equity at the University of Newcastle found in 2017 that for every $1 invested in Renew Newcastle it returned $14.40 and added $3 million to the economy.

Renew Newcastle is supported by the NSW Government through Urban Growth NSW, Hunter Development Corporation and NSW Premier’s Department, and backed by Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Now and The GPT Group.

Renew Newcastle has consulted on 39 projects in cities and towns around Australia.

The Renew Newcastle model has been the subject of a television series Not Quite Art on ABC TV, and the book Creating Cities by its founder Marcus Westbury.

More than 200 projects have launched in Newcastle using the Renew model in nine years.

Artists and creatives are only ever temporary tenants, free to stay as long as the buildings were not being used. They must be ready to vacate within 30 days if required.

In Newcastle more than 30 Renew participants have gone on to sign commercial leases on the buildings they started in.




For Tourism Hunter chairman Will Creedon, the Newcastle 500 Supercars event was a success before a single race was run on the weekend.

“People are starting to see the significance of events,” Mr Creedon said, “and the emergence of the visitor economy. That is really, really satisfying. A lot of people in our region have been harping about what tourism can do. This is one of the events. It doesn’t matter if it is Supercars. It is how we have set ourselves up.

“A lot of people have worked hard. Some will never be known. I want to thank them. By having such a major event it allows us our next step.”

He offers a bevy of events in Newcastle and the Hunter over the past 10 years that have proved the region has the infrastructure in place to hold a major event like Supercars. He reels off a list of acquired strengths – volunteers, police, business support and industry. And the events that preceded Supercars: Special Olympics, World Youth Games, Asian Cup and home-grown festivals like Steamfest in Maitland.

Mr Creedon’s busy mind is already focused on the next big thing.

“Our first major event just happened to be Supercars,” he said. “The thing is, it’s the first major event. That is really important. For me, it is about where do we set ourselves up for in the future.”

One creative idea floated by Creedon: why not take advantage of the massive temporary infrastructure and road closures put in place for the Supercars event, perhaps as early as next year. The concept: immediately after the Supercars host a convention around engineering technologies and other smart technologies, drawing the best from Asia and the Hunter region.

He is also an advocate for the property along Newcastle’s foreshore from Nobbys lighthouse all the way to Wickham coming under separate management.

“I believe we need an authority to program and drive that area,” he said. “I’m not talking buildings, I’m talking about activities, events, things that enrich our everyday lives. By default, it will enhance cruise activities. It will enhance the reason to live here.”

Mr Creedon envisions it as a “global playground” capable of drawing 400,000 visitors on a weekend.

Turning the old Newcastle train station into a vital tourism drawcard is essential, he said. “It’s not about the built form. You can be really clever there.”

He said the location could be “our Statue of Liberty”.

So many changes in the past five years have already contributed to Newcastle becoming a buzz city to others around the nation and world, he said.

“We don’t know how great we are, and how great we can be,” he said.



Meetings are expensive. Not because you’re charging people to attend (obviously), but because they use people’s time; time that could be spent doing lots of other revenue-generating things. In fact, one study found that a recurring meeting of mid-level managers was costing one company $15 million a year!.

$15 million a year!

Not to mention, you also need to take into account the prep time as well as the context-switching time. Professor Gloria Mark at University of California, Irvine found that it takes an average of 25 minutes for a worker to return to their original task after an interruption.

Knowing these stats means that when I’m debating whether I need to call a meeting, I ask myself what it’s worth (literally). Is this the best use of everyone’s time, mine included? And not so infrequently, the answer is “nope.”

So, what to do then? Easy! Send a simple but critical email to keep everyone informed and on track.

What to Include

There are three key things you need to cover:

Logistics: why the meeting was canceled and, if it’s a recurring meeting, what to expect for next time
Action: any critical action items completed or pending
Information: any updates or general FYIs for the group

Note: Don’t fall into the trap of putting the action items and logistics last. Having the most critical information higher up ensures that it’s seen when your colleagues skim their email. Oh, and a bonus tip for you: Put people’s names in bold if they need to do anything to make triple sure they notice.



NEWCASTLE’s pedigree as a pub rock city is on show as part of a museum exhibition celebrating its heyday.

Rock This City offers a glimpse through time to the sweaty band rooms of pubs and clubs around the city in the 1970s and 1980s until February 4.

It features acts like The Heroes, DV8, A Rabbit, Total Fire Band and Live Wire.

The exhibition features objects from the era, gig posters, outfits and video footage. It also covers the infamous Star Hotel riot of September 1979.

The Newcastle Museum exhibition shares its name with a book by professional historian and researcher Gaye Sheather published last year.

It came together through more than 20 interviews with musicians including Mark Tinson (A Rabbit, The Heroes), Greg Bryce (DV8), Dana Soper (The Magic Bus) and former journalist and musician Leo Della Grotta (Baron).

Ms Sheather helped curate the showcase of the city’s glory days of live music.

She told the Newcastle Herald in 2016 that the period laid a foundation for bands like The Screaming Jets and Silverchair.

“I guess the environment had changed by then and Triple J has become national, so there was more scope for bands to play to greater audiences,” she said.



The University of Newcastle (UON) has attracted $12.2m in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding to investigate some of the nation’s and world’s greatest health challenges.

Announced today by the Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the NHMRC funding for Newcastle will support 17 research projects and three fellowships.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, said the NHMRC’s support for Newcastle’s researchers was testament to the University’s reputation for conducting world-class research.

“The University of Newcastle boasts some of the most accomplished, innovative and internationally-renowned minds in health and medicine,” Professor Hall said.

“Today’s announcement by the Australian Government bolsters Newcastle’s outstanding research performance in stroke and fertility, and acknowledges our strengths in research delivery across respiratory diseases, cancers and, mental health and substance use.”

“Research carried out at UON benefits not only the Hunter community, but also creates impact both nationally, and worldwide. Today’s announcement of almost $12 million in new funding will allow our academics to continue to lead the way in health and medical research.”

The NHMRC funding announcement includes support for the following projects:

$1.4m to Professor Amanda Baker and her team to develop Quitlink: Accessible smoking cessation support for people living with severe and enduring mental illness. This project will use the peer workforce, whose development in mental health services is a national priority, to bridge the persistent gap between mental health services and Quitline.
$385,000 to Dr Chantal Donovan and her team to target remodelling in COPD, chronic asthma and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). These diseases have enormous socioeconomic burdens in worldwide, and are amongst the most common, debilitating lung diseases, characterised by a loss of lung function leading to severe breathing difficulties.
$870,000 to Associate Professor Christopher Dayas and his team: Cognitive inflexibility and the development of pathological habits in brain diseases.
$1.1m to Professor Murray Cairns and his team to examine complete genomics for mechanistic insight and precision treatments of schizophrenia.
$640,000 to Professor Murray Cairns to investigate the network biomarkers of traumatic stress resilience and sensitivity. This project will explore why some individuals exposed to trauma respond adversely while others do not. Traumatic stress is a significant precursor for chronic mental and physical illness, which collectively represent a substantial burden of disease globally.
$650,000 to Associate Professor Brett Graham and his team who will determine how a recently discovered network of nerve cells in the spinal cord contributes to extreme, persistent pain, and explore how it could be targeted to provide pain relief.
$1m to Associate Professor Christopher Grainge and his team to investigate whether bronchoconstriction (airway narrowing) worsens asthma.
$925,000 to Professor Philip Hansbro and his team explain the role and potential for therapeutic targeting of toll-like-receptor 7 (TLR7) in emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
$905,000 to Professor Phil Hansbro and his team to define the roles and targeting interferon-epsilon as a new therapy for influenza in asthma and COPD.
$820,000 to Dr Gerard Kaiko and his team to investigate functional characterisation of novel metabolites in asthma and identification of new biomarkers.
$175,000 to Dr Heather Lee and her team to target cancer-initiating cells with DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitors, which may lead to the prevention of cancer progression.
$405,000 to Associate Professor Joerg Lehmann and his team: First ever system to continuously and directly measure the internal anatomy to guide breast cancer radiation treatment under deep inspiration breath hold.
$530,000 to Professor Brett Nixon and his team for their project: Elucidating the role of epididymosomes in the transfer of fertility-modulating proteins and regulatory classes of RNA to maturing spermatozoa.
$450,000 to Dr Kirsty Pringle and her team to explore the factors that inhibit the trigger of preterm birth, the single largest cause of death in infants. This may lead to the identification of novel treatments that have the potential to delay the onset of preterm labour.
$510,000 to Associate Professor Rohan Walker and his team to investigate paralysis of microglial (a type of cell located throughout the brain and spinal cord) in post-stroke neurodegeneration (SND): help or hindrance?
$490,000 for Associate Professor Rohan Walker to assess stroke induced disturbances in glymphatic clearance: implications for brain repair?
$675,000 Professor Xu Dong Zhang for their project: Role of lncRNA IDH1-AS1 in regulating c-Myc driven-glycolysis and tumorigenesis.
The NHMRC also announced three Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) Fellowships to UON researchers:

Associate Professor Gillian Gould, School of Medicine and Public Health ($180,000)
Mrs Rachel Sutherland, School of Health Sciences ($180,000)
Dr Kate Bartlem, School of Psychology ($180,000) – offered under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Next Generation Clinical Researchers Program from the MRFF Health Special Account.
Professor Christopher Grainge is a Staff Specialist in Respiratory & General Medicine at Hunter New England Health. Dr Rachel Sutherland is Nutrition Manager at HNE Population Health. Dr Kate Bartlem is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at HNE Population Health.




Fact: Working with other people is hard. Even when you like them.

And over the years, I’ve tried different strategies to improve relationships (or, at the very least, prevent myself from freaking out in people’s faces).

But then, last year, I started going to therapy to deal with a situation outside the office. And I was surprised to realise that a lot of the advice I was getting could be applied to the workplace, too.

In fact, by using these therapist-approved strategies, I’m able to deal with difficult work situations much better now. So, before you let co-workers drive you up another wall, here are three new things to try.

1. Validate the Person’s Feelings Before You Do Anything Else

You know that passive aggressive co-worker who drives you nuts? Dealing with their behaviour can be super annoying!

Now, most of us don’t need therapy to recognise that we don’t have any control over others’ moods or behavior. But, instead of getting irritated about it, my therapist taught me a trick that makes that reality way easier to accept. All I have to do is imagine why someone might be acting the way they are, identify how I would feel if I were in their position, and then validate that feeling.

For example, if a client asks me to turn a project in sooner than we’d initially agreed and then gets annoyed when I say no, I’ll first try to identify why they might be making this request. Maybe their boss is putting pressure on them. If that were me, I’d be feeling really stressed out. And, I’d be disappointed if my request for an accelerated deadline were turned down. So, I’ll tell my client, “I imagine that this is probably disappointing for you.”

I know it sounds a little hokey, but this works wonders. By trying to empathise (even if I think the person’s wrong) and then validating what they’re feeling, I’m able to shift my attitude from frustration to empathy.

And, the client feels heard, too. Nine times out of 10, they’ll calmly reply, “Yes, I do feel disappointed.” It’s like identifying the feeling takes the hot air out of the situation. I’m then able to reiterate that I can’t accommodate an earlier deadline without things escalating.
2. Say What You’re Actually Thinking—and Say it Clearly

When I used to find myself in an awkward situation, I’d usually scramble to make things less awkward as quickly as possible. This usually meant bending over backward to make the other person happy, with no regard for my needs or feelings.

Now, I use a simple formula that I learned in therapy to clearly and concisely make my point:

the change I’d like + why the current option isn’t working + why my preference is better

For example, I had a client who said she hated my proposal. I’m perfectly fine with constructive feedback, but telling me you hate something doesn’t help me at all. So I said, “I’d like us to communicate with each other more respectfully because telling me you hate something doesn’t feel constructive. I’d prefer if you provided me with specific feedback about what isn’t working for you because that’ll help me to to deliver the work product you’re looking for.”

She immediately apologised and we were able to get on the same page from there.

As I’ve become more comfortable telling people what does or doesn’t work for me, being more assertive has gotten less scary. Even better, it’s made my working relationships stronger and more honest.
3. Set Boundaries

I’m a recovering people pleaser with a serious compulsion to say “No problem!” without even thinking. This usually leads to me feeling stressed and resentful, which isn’t good for me (or fair to my co-workers).

Getting comfortable with setting boundaries has made a huge difference. When a client asks me to sit in on a last-minute meeting or my boss wants me to work late, I now pause and consider whether or not it’s something I am willing and able to take on. If it’s not, I simply say, “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me.” If it makes, sense, I’ll offer up a reason or an alternative solution. But sometimes, no just means no.

I’ve learned that setting boundaries can also be a proactive exercise. I’ll often tell new clients up front that I don’t check emails over the weekend or that I need a full 24 hours to respond to new requests. Managing expectations and setting boundaries from the start helps me to avoid annoying or uncomfortable situations in the future.

In no way am I suggesting that you should start saying no to every request from your boss, or setting ridiculous boundaries with your co-workers. These relationships are two-way streets, and you’ll sometimes need to bend to accommodate others.

I also understand that not everyone can turn down their manager when she asks them to work late or to avoid email all weekend—everyone’s boundaries will be different. But, learning about these strategies has made it way easier for me to navigate difficult and uncomfortable situations, so I’m pretty sure that they’ll work for you, too.


Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes say new ferry stops at Stockton and Wickham should be a “very strong part” of the state government’s transport master plan for the Lower Hunter.

The state government’s Draft Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan lists new ferry stops in Newcastle as an “initiative for investigation in 10 to 20 years, subject to business case development”.

But Cr Nelmes said a new ferry wharf to service Stockton’s 4000 residents, airport commuters and Port Stephens should be a priority, along with a stop near the new Wickham transport interchange.

Hunter Development Corporation is understood to have included a future Wickham wharf in its planning for a stretch of vacant Honeysuckle waterfront land near the marina.

“Linking passengers from the expanding suburbs north of the Hunter River, and from Newcastle Airport, directly to the interchange would certainly create a better commuter experience for those passengers, especially workers who commute daily for work,” Cr Nelmes said.

She said a new Stockton wharf could be built near the refurbished North Stockton Boat Ramp.

Newcastle City Council announced last week that it was investigating doubling the size of the car park at the Stockton terminal, from 120 to 250, and introducing paid parking. It has included a north Stockton terminal in its feasibility study.

The Newcastle ferry service catered for more than 450,000 passengers in the past year, according to Transport for NSW Opal card data, although the true number could be significantly higher.

Transport for NSW told the council in June that a draft of the 40-year Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan would be released in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Exploring options for an additional ferry stop at north Stockton would naturally ease pressure on the Stockton terminal, and the surrounding commuter car parking, as well as providing a great option for commuters travelling to Newcastle from north Stockton and Port Stephens,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Ultimately, expanded ferry services should also be a very strong part of the NSW government’s integrated transport plan for Newcastle, along with all other modes of transport required to assist Newcastle transition from a great regional centre into an emerging global city.”

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp also urged the government to include the Wickham interchange in its short-term thinking, saying 10 to 20 years was far too long to wait.

Supercars will use the existing Stockton car park and parkland to the west and east as a paid parking area during the Newcastle 500 weekend in late November.



You’ve likely heard the advice to add numbers to your resume bullets. It helps recruiters really picture the impact you’ve made in your position, and it frankly just sounds more impressive.

See for yourself: Which person would you hire?

Person 1: Duties included taking field measurements and maintaining records, setting up and tracking project using Microsoft Project, and developing computerized material take-off sheets.

Person 2: Initiated and managed tracking systems used for the Green District water decontamination project, saving $125,000 on the overall project through a 30% decrease of staff allocation time.


Of course, I know what you might be thinking: Sounds great, but what if I just don’t really work with hard numbers? Maybe you’re in a role that requires softer skills, or maybe you don’t have hard data or sales reports to pull from.

That’s OK! Truthfully, no matter what you do, you can add some numbers and data to your resume to give it that extra touch.

Here are three ways to quantify your experience without being in an inherently quant-y field:

1. Range

Not knowing the exact figure for things is often a big deterrent for using numbers in resumes. But one way to overcome this is to use a range.

It’s perfectly fine to not know exactly how many clients you see a month or how many calls you take a week, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still quantify it.

Give it your best estimate, and the range will show that there is a bit of leeway. And, of course, focus on your impact.

2. Frequency

Now that you know it’s fine to use a range, one of the easiest ways to add some numbers is to include how frequently you do a particular task (after all, that’s a number that applies to pretty much everyone).

This is particularly helpful in illustrating your work in high-volume situations—a hiring manager will be able to see just how much you can handle.

3. Scale

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Employers across the board care about money—and saving it. Including the frequency of your actions give a great sense of scale, but an even more eye-catching way to do this is to talk about the bottom line.

Think about all the things you do that ultimately save your company money, whether it’s streamlining a procedure, saving time, or negotiating discounts with vendors. Multiply those actions by how frequently you do them, and pop them into your resume bullets (remembering, again, that rough numbers are OK).

Numbers make such a huge difference in resumes—no matter what your work involves.

So, the next time you’re polishing your resume, try adding a few numbers to quantify your work and see how they really drive home the impact you’re capable of making.


A Facebook post has sparked a storm of nostalgic excitement among the Newcastle community.

Could beloved restaurant Big Al’s be reopening in Newcastle?

That was the promise from a mystery hospitality operator on Facebook on Saturday.

Thousands of Novocastrians were ecstatic with the news, but no further information has been released.

Fairfax Media attempted to make contact with the anonymous poster and received this message in response.

“Thank you for you interest in the return of the iconic Big Al’s Family Restaurant. The social media response to our post has been overwhelming, with a reach of over 180,000 people. We won’t be releasing any further details at this early stage. However, the relaunch of Big Al’s will involve experienced hospitality operators, carefully recreating the sandwich and subs which everyone has come to know and love. We will be releasing more details over the coming months for a relaunch in the first half of 2018. Thank you.”

It looks like the popular family restaurant, which closed in October 2006, really is due for a comeback.

The burgers, the fries, the little red plastic baskets and all. It is almost too much to handle!


You’ve waited months for this moment—the chance to prove your worth to your boss and get a leg up in your career.

Let me break it to you: You won’t get what you want if you don’t prepare properly. In fact, your review will only go well if you get organized and collect all your information before the talk.

So, with that in mind, here’s what you need to do the night of your next performance review to put yourself in a great position for a productive conversation that’ll get you ahead in your career and get you on your boss’ good side:

1. Learn How to Respond to Feedback

You know not to yell (right?). But do you know there are ways to respond to negative feedback that actually make you look good?

You’re going to want to pay attention to the following because it’s possible you’ll receive some not-so-great feedback. And even if you’ve been doing fabulous work, it’s almost guaranteed you’re going to receive some form of constructive criticism (no one’s perfect, after all).

First, as Muse Career Coach Emily Liou points out in an article about handling negative feedback, own up to your mistakes and be ready to offer a solution or show initiative to do better.

And, says Muse Writer Rich Moy, avoid blurting out things like “I didn’t realize that was wrong” or “It won’t happen again!”

2. Collect Your Accomplishments

Think you deserve a raise?

It’s so important to state your case by listing out your accomplishments (including how much money you’ve made for the company, the skills you’ve learned, the relationships you’ve built, and the projects you’ve completed) over the past six months or year.

3. Review Your Current Goals

Did you set goals at your last review? Or, do you have some personal ones of your own?

Either way, reviews are a great time to look back at what you were hoping to accomplish and see if you, well, actually did them.

If you met your goals, what did you learn along the way? Which ones are you most proud of? How can you build on them in the future?

And if you didn’t achieve them, how far did you get? Did your priorities change? What held you back? What can you do differently going forward?

Jot down some notes to discuss further with your manager when you meet. Which leads me to…

4. Set Some New Goals

Now that you know how far you’ve come, now you can decide where you want to go.

Do this by setting some realistic, yet ambitious goals. Consider the following:

What skills would you like to master by your next review?
What responsibilities do you want to take on?
What projects are you passionate about pursuing?
What weaknesses would you like to improve upon?
What goals would you like to continue to build on?
What role do you want to shoot for one to three years from now? What can you do now to put yourself in the running?

5. Prepare Any Lingering Questions

Especially if one-on-one time is rare in your office, reviews are super helpful for getting some of your most burning questions answered. It could be about the status of your team or department, or the goals of the company, or possibilities for career growth (like budget to get some professional development help).

6. Prepare for a Tough Conversation

Maybe your boss will bring up some serious concerns. Maybe you even seen a performance improvement plan coming. Or, maybe it’ll be a normal review on your manager’s end, but you’re going to have to raise your hand to discuss bigger issues.

For example, now’s a good time to talk about the fact that you’re bored in your role or you’d like to consider an internal transfer.

Having these conversations is hard! But being prepared makes it a little easier.

7. Pat Yourself on the Back

Finally, give yourself some credit for making it to this big milestone. Sure, it happens every year, and you may not even receive anything special except for a simple “Great work” from your manager, but you’ve made it through what was probably a busy, exhausting, or even tumultuous period—look back on it, pat yourself on the back for everything awesome you did, and know you’re going to kick even more butt after this review.


Now all you have to do is double-check your review time (in case you have a jam-packed day), lay out a slightly-nicer-than-usual outfit (it doesn’t hurt), and get some beauty sleep.

And no matter what happens, because you’ve prepared, you’re sure to handle it like a champ.



Newcastle’s heritage buildings will get a hand from the state government with funding.

Nobbys Headland will receive $39,000, while the Maritime Museum will get more than $64,000 for projects that “increase community interaction and participation” with heritage.

The museum said it plans to use its funding for an animation project, which includes a 360-degree 3D virtual reality exhibit.

Income generation, activation options and flexible interpretive spaces will be explored for the headland.