Category Archives: Advocacy

Announcement! EM&U Founder Gayle Nicholas has stepped down from her role!


I would like to announce that Gayle Nicholas who is the founder member of Empowering Monash and YOU has suspended her role with EM&U while standing for Council. Gayle and I established EM&U to provide information to community members and to give them the opportunity to have a say, such as community issues relating to Local Government.

Thank You Gayle Nicholas

I would like to thank Gayle for her outstanding role with EM&U and strongly advocating for community engagement with Monash Council.

Please keep in mind though EM&U will still be running as usual and team members or contributors will still be involved.  If you have any enquires please do not hesitate to contact us by email at or through the ‘Contact Us‘ page.

EM&U’s role does not involve election campaigns so if you would like to contact Gayle Nicholas, details below.

Facebook Page Page: @Gayle4Monash 


Hariklia Nguyen – Co-founder of Empowering Monash and YOU (EM&U)


How To Vote – Preference Deals and Whisperers

There’s a Federal election coming soon and there’s a good deal of debate and confusion about preference distributions and the new Senate vote counting process.  This post, hopefully, will clear that up for some people and answer a few questions.  There’s more information in the FAQ section on the Australian Electoral Commission‘s website.

How Many Votes Are Needed To Be Elected?

In both the House of Representatives and the Senate the number required is calculated by the following formula:

q = 1 + f/(v+1)

Where “q” is the number of votes required (the quota), “f” is the number of formal votes cast and “v” is the number of vacancies to be filled.

In the Reps, there is only one vacancy to be filled (v=1) in a given seat so a candidate needs one vote more than half those cast – a simple majority.

In the Senate, we’ll be voting for 12 Senators from Victoria (v=12) so a candidate must get 1/13th of the formal votes plus one.  Once 12 candidates have that quota there will be 1/13th minus 12 votes available which means nobody else can beat those already elected.

How Are Votes Counted?

In order to achieve a quota all formal ballot papers are distributed to the candidate allocated the number 1 on the paper (the first preference) and then counted.  If no candidate has achieved the quota above, the candidate with fewest votes is eliminated and those papers are distributed to the remaining candidate with the next lowest preference.

In the Reps, the process continues thus until a single candidate has an absolute majority and there it stops.

In the Senate, it’s a little more complicated because we need to elect more than one Senator.  So, once a candidate attains a quota s/he is declared elected but any excess votes beyond the quota are redistributed at reduced value.  If this didn’t happen, there would not be enough votes in the pool to create 12 quotas.  (You can find the full explanation on the AEC website here:

So, let’s say the quota is 10 000 votes and Ms Bloggs achieves her quota but has 12 000 votes at that stage.  The 2000 “surplus” votes are redistributed to other, as yet unelected candidates.  But which 2000?  In fact, all 12 000 papers are now redistributed to the next preferred candidate but at a reduced value of s/q where “s” is the surplus; in this case, the transfer value would be 2000/10 000 or 0.2 – every one of Ms Bloggs’ papers would be redistributed at one fifth of its value to other candidates.

Counting continues eliminating unsuccessful candidates and redistributing their votes and the fractional surpluses of elected Senators until all 12 vacancies have been filled.

You Can’t Waste Your Vote!

It’s the redistribution process which ensures YOUR vote is not wasted if you choose an unsuccessful candidate.

Let’s say you have strong views on a specific issue and there’s an independent candidate standing on that particular issue.  “Single issue” candidates are rarely successful but if one represents your view you can indicate that to whoever is ultimately elected by giving your champion your first preference.  On the assumption that your champion is eliminated, your vote then goes to your next preference so you still influence which of the more likely contenders is elected but they receive the hint that there’s an important issue to which they should attend in the electorate.

It should be noted that in the Senate, if you select only the minimum number of preferences required (see below) and all those candidates are eliminated, your vote will be “exhausted” and won’t contribute to electing a senator.  You should consider the chances of your preferred candidates being successful when deciding how many votes to cast above or below the line since only YOU ultimately determine where your preferences go.

Party Preference Deals and Your Preference

Much has been made in recent days of preference deals being done between Labor and Liberal Parties to put each other ahead of The Greens.  Both of the major parties are worried they may not win government in their own right and may have to rely on preferences but neither likes the idea of a third party spoiling their duopoly.  You will see these deals reflected in their respective “How to Vote” cards.

“How to Vote” cards are parties’ suggestions to voters.  Apparently about 75% of voters follow HTV cards, there’s absolutely no obligation to do so – YOU number the boxes on YOUR ballot paper and YOU should do so according to YOUR preference for the various candidates and/or their parties.

In the Reps, you number ALL candidates according to your preference.

In the Senate you must number either AT LEAST six boxes above the line (there are 38 boxes plus a column of independents this year!) or AT LEAST 12 candidates below the line.  If you number only six boxes above the line and you don’t include one of the three major parties (ALP, LNP coalition or Greens) you’ll only nominate about 12 candidates and your vote will probably be exhausted before all senators are elected.  Similarly, if you choose only 12 candidates from the smaller parties below the line.  If you don’t want votes going to the major parties and you want to maximise your influence, mark more boxes.

Why, and How, Has Senate Voting Changed – The Preference Whisperer?

At the last Senate election a number of minor candidates and parties got together with a “preference whisperer”.  They agreed on a series of “group voting tickets” which were so constructed that a single “1” vote above the line (the old way of voting) channelled all their preferences to the same place.  As each of these less likely candidates were eliminated their votes flowed together to elect, most famously, Senator Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

Some people have argued that this meant he was elected on fewer first preferences than others who were eliminated and that’s true.  However, it’s also true that a full “quota” of voters indicated, whether they knew it (having researched their nominated party’s group voting ticket) or not, they would rather have him than anyone else.

Under the new Senate voting rules parties are no longer permitted to create group voting tickets and votes at the top of a column distribute preferences down the column then stop – a party or group on the ballot paper cannot cause preferences to flow to any other party or group.  This makes it somewhat harder for minor candidates to get elected but it also makes it clear to voters exactly where your vote is going.  Some candidates have formed voting blocs already to be listed in the same column – that’s legal and it’s transparent to voters.

It’s worth noting too that if you want to vote for the “ungrouped” independent candidates in the Senate, firstly they are at the far right of the ballot paper and, secondly, you must vote below the line as they don’t have a box above the line.

Who Are the Monash Candidates?

The City of Monash is in Victoria for the Senate.  You can find the list of all 38 groups and 16 independent Senate candidates on the AEC site here.

Four House of Representatives seats overlap the City of Monash boundaries: Bruce, Chisholm, Higgins and Hotham.


The declared candidates for each of the electorates are shown below in the order in which they will appear on the ballot paper.


Researching the Candidates

Later this week I hope to write an open letter to all candidates listed above and invite them to comment on issues of importance to readers of this blog.  Their answers will be published verbatim and without commentary.

Issues for their feedback will come from any comments received on this post and questions about Aged Care, Refugees and Immigration, and Environment policy.

An aged care service opening their doors to community participation!

Community Engagement
Community Engagement – Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Uniting AgeWell have decided to implement a Community Advisory Committee (ACAC) where community members have an opportunity to participate and play a role in improving aswell as planning for future services. They provide home care, independent and assisted living, respite, residential care and community therapy programs.

Community advisory committees are usually implemented at Hospital or Community Health services. They are monitored against a mandatory Standard 2: Partnering with consumers. This ensures that consumers or community members play a role in the decision making and to improve the safety and quality of care provided. More info: Partnering with Consumers Standard 2 Factsheet

Aged Care facilities do not have to follow this standard and operate consumer committees but Uniting AgeWell has decided to  implement one and set up a consumer register. They are probably one of the first to establish such a committee. 

I cannot stress how important it is for aged care facilities or providers to implement these types of committees as it will ensure transparency and accountability, as well as community members advocating for people who use these services. I would like to see other aged care providers implement these committees. It is also a good example of the ‘Doing it with us not for us’ Victorian government’s policy on consumer, carer and community participation. Standard 2: Partnering with consumers should be implemented for aged care providers and made mandatory. 

If you would like to participate in the AgeWell Committee Advisory Committee you can contact contact Nickie Arthur on  9862 0076 or by  email at

An induction and orientation program will be provided and training through the Health Issues Centre for appointed members. Source – Giving older people a voice.

Want to know about your role in the committee? Click on link provided to direct you to their handbook. AgeWell Community Advisory Committee Handbook.

What does the community think about implementing a mandatory Standard 2: Partnering with consumers

If you would like to advocate for this to happen you can send a letter to Hon MP Sussan Ley, Minster for Health and Aged Care asking for this standard to be implemented  to ensure transparency and accountability in aged care facilities or services.

If you are aware of other aged care providers who run consumer advisory committees and not attached to hospitals, please let us know by contacting us.

Links to more information about consumer committees

Consumer Health Forum

Health Issues Centre

Participation and Communication

Our Health, Our Community

Links to other services with committee participants

Monash Health

Link Health and Community

Eastern Health

Aged Care Complaints Commissioner New Website!


The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner new website is now running!

An independent complaints system was implemented and hopefully concerns will be managed appropriately and efficiently. Independent Aged Care Complaints arrangements [152.8 kB]

They have a variety of resources or information for the community, especially on raising a concern about an aged care provider. Have a look at their ‘How aged care advocacy can help you’ factsheet –

Fact sheet – How aged care advocacy can help you –

“Advocacy is defined as ‘the process of standing alongside an individual who is disadvantaged and speaking out on their behalf in a way that represents the best interests of that person.’ An advocate will assist the person receiving aged care to achieve the best outcome for them.”

The Elder Rights Advocacy is the service for Victorians who receive an aged care service that is funded by the Australian Government. Please contact them if you feel that you need support in raising a concern or you feel that your concern has not been taken seriously by your aged care provider.

Elder Rights Advocacy

Update! Increasing Choice in Home Care – Stage 1

Source: My Aged Care
Source: My Aged Care

In October 2015 there was an opportunity to provide feedback on stage 1 home care reforms to provide funding for a home care package, where the consumer will have more flexibility on the choice of provider – Increasing Choice in Home Care – Stage 1.

A webinar/webcast was held on the 19 October 2015 to discuss the changes and viewers to ask any questions on the changes. To view the webinar please click on link provided – Increasing Choice in Home Care Webiner. 

From July 2018, the Government will combine the Home Care Packages Programme and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme into a single care at home programme to make it easier to provide services. 

More links:

Older australians will have more choice in services 

More choice and better care for older Australian –  my aged care

Watch this blog  for more updates!

No Jargon, Plain English! – An inexpensive solution for Monash Council

Council information jargon
Image courtesy of iosphere at

Have you seen this article?

Monash Council needs gun communications expert to decipher planning jargon into ‘plain English’. Monash Leader Mayor Paul Klisaris says Monash Council might have “lost some people’s interest” with jargon in the first mail-out.  – Source: Monash Council needs gun communications expert to decipher planning jargon into ‘plain English’ 

Perhaps Monash council should have joined the ‘Drop the Jargon’ day and pledged to use plain language! This day was for professionals, health services and local governments to challenge themselves to use plain language.  

Monash council needs to understand what community consultation and engagement is, as if they did they would have asked the community if a communications expert is needed or the best option to help the community understand information or plans provided to them.

This is what I propose!

Why waste funds on hiring a communications expert when there is a simple way to communicate information to the community?

The best way to provide information to the community is to implement or commence a Community Information Reference Group. Community members can join to review information, including budget and proposed planning documents to ensure that fact sheets are written in plain English and cater to all consumers or community members. This way the community will understand the information provided to them and can have a say. The council can follow examples from health/community services which already provide information, that is accessible and easy to understand and reviewed by community members as part of the Standard 2: Partnering with Consumers. 

A great example is what Link Health and Community has introduced. Their publications or information are reviewed and approved by consumer members. They also have a vital role in producing their quarterly magazine to ensure that it is in a format that is suitable for community members.  

Other Councils such as Mitchell Shire Council have prepared plans in consultation with the community and developed in a format to communicate to community in a clear way. Link: Wallan Structure Plan, Mitchell Shire Council

Review Council Information
Image courtesy of ddpavumba at

This option would be more cost effective as well as Council consulting and engaging with the community. Hiring a communications expert would only assist short time and will not cater to the changing diversity and demographics of the community. Community members are the experts! They are the ones that will read the information provided to them!

Council could commence a long term transparent Information Reference or Working Group and consider these points:

  • Diverse community members should have input in reviewing information or plans to ensure all are catered for
  • Run informal meetings monthly or what members prefer to review items and ensure there are no barriers for members of the group to attend and participate
  • Members to have input on the planning and delivery of information to the public
  • A community engagement officer to facilitate the meetings and take notes or record of discussions, but members should have authority over the decision making
  • Councillors should be invited to the group to listen and seek advice, not as members of the group, as this will ensure community members will have unbiased feedback and authority over discussions and decisions
  • Members to decide on guidelines that are suitable for the committee and reviewing information

Info standing man EM&U Stuart MilesLinks to more info:

Example of a plain English guide

Victorian Government Accessible Communication Guidelines

Communicating data with Colour: a guide to producing accessible maps and visual data

Communicate Clearly – A Guide to Plain English

The challenges of communicating the law to the public

Accessible Communication Guides – Whitehorse Council

Darebin’s Inclusive Communications Charter

Wyndham Cruiser – Wyndham Council

Should Aged Care facilities have registered nurses on duty 24/7?

Aged careA State Parliamentary Committee accepted submissions on an inquiry for the need for registered nurses in NSW aged care facilities for residents who require a high level of care. Click on link:  Detailed Inquiry document.


You can also read more about it by clicking on link provided to direct you to this article:

Inquiry to investigate how aged care residents will fare without registered nurses on duty 24/7

An inquiry will examine how aged care residents will be affected if registered nurses are not rostered on all shifts.
An inquiry will examine how aged care residents will be affected if registered nurses are not rostered on all shifts. (ABC News)

An inquiry will examine how New South Wales’ most vulnerable aged care residents will fare in a future without registered nurses on duty at all times.

Aged Care Crisis submitted their response to the inquiry. They recommend that the  “state based Public Health Act 201031 should be amended accordingly until the federal Aged Care Act 1997 is amended to specify all nursing homes with high care residents should be staffed at all times by at least one registered nurse.”
Link to their submission: Aged Care Crisis Submission
Want to know more about Aged Care Crisis:

Submissions from other organisations click link provided: Submissions to Registered nurses in New South Wales nursing homes.

I agree that all aged care facilities with high care residents should be staffed at all times by at least one registered nurse!

Some residents have complex care needs and should be monitored by a registered nurse at all times. These resident’s are human beings and should be cared for appropriately, with qualified staff and with dignity.  There have been many cases where resident’s have been put at risk without qualified staff. We need more nurses, not less!




Quality in aged care – Better Practice Melbourne 2015

Better Practice conference

Melbourne — Complaints Scheme presentation — Friday 29 May 2015 ‘

Conference summary

This two-day conference is suitable for CEOs, management and senior staff in aged care – both residential aged care and home care.

With this year’s theme, Quality – Through the looking glass, we are asking you to reflect on yourselves, on what the term ‘quality’ means, and how you deliver quality for your care recipients. By at first looking within, we can look through the looking glass to a vision for the future. Look within, before looking out.

Our keynote speakers include ABC personality Dr Norman Swan who will speak on Quality in aged care, whose problem is it? How consumers can be partners; and Dr Jenny Basran, Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, who will speak on how technology can bring quality to another level.

via Better Practice Melbourne 2015 – Conference summary | Online Registration by Cvent.


New rating system to rate Independent Living Providers – Living Well Navigator’s Owl Ratings

Introducing Living Well Navigator’s Owl Ratings

Owl ratings

Looking for a retirement village and not sure where to start? Living Well Navigator’s Owl Ratings is the place to go. It’s an Australian first; an innovative online resource based on what residents of individual villages say matters to them most.

via Introducing Living Well Navigator’s Owl Ratings.

In the future they will extend the owl rating to home care services and residential aged care.

What to know more click on link provided or watch video

Have you seen this new guide? YOUR GUIDE TO NEW CHOICES IN HOME CARE

Do you need help to understand home care packages and what to expect? Click on links provided for more info.

Link to consumer booklet:



Here you will find information and resources that will help you or your representative to understand how home care packages work when they are provided using a consumer directed care (CDC) approach. Home Care Today supports you as you work out what to expect, what choices you have and how you can make decisions about your home care.


via Have you seen this new guide? YOUR GUIDE TO NEW CHOICES IN HOME CARE.