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Working with Gen Z – when you a clearly not one!


I am not even fully awake yet and I can feel the glowing rectangles of text burning into the back of my mind, beckoning me to come hither.
While I was sleeping, a few of the Gen Zs on my work team were up late, buzzing away in our group messaging space and now, while they sleep, their silent chatter calls to the rest of us.
It is a strong, invisible force that pulls me towards the screen.
Though there are no visible signs alerting me to their existence, the battle to ignore them is exhausting.
It’s been going on for months — and most days they win.
Before I’ve even put the kettle on I am scrolling through kilometres of text messages and emoji’s: the occasional ‘thumbs up’ and, of course, the ever present yellow circle faces with puffed out cheeks and red heart shaped eyes.
My mind fills with a whirl of responses and frustration and, by the time my family join me in the kitchen, the joy of the new day has already been washed away.
Navigating the work space via an online chat app requires one to be ‘switched on’ at all times.
If you miss a few hours of “conversation” it can take almost as much time to catch up.
Instant messaging is the way it works with this team, and their friends, and they are comfortable with it.
I, however, am struggling to speak their lingo.
Gen Z have grown up in the digital age, social media and mobile devices are a natural part of life.
In a face-to-face meeting recently I was told I had been coming across as unfriendly and somewhat abrupt.
As the conversation continued it became clear that my lack of emoji use had something to do with it.
I have been a user of the colon-close-bracket-smiley-face for years now, and I’ve even branched out to the semi-colon when I want to spice it up a little, but apparently my lack of puff cheeked golden orbs is sending its own message.
Emoji – those small digital images used to express an idea or emotion within text messages are important in some circles and if you get it wrong it can mean more text messages to establish the original meaning.
Try sending a ‘happy face’ by accident and see how long it takes to right the wrong, and as far as working out when to use the halo-wearing, sweating or sunglass wearing faces… well, when you do, can you let me know?
This experience has me wondering if instant messaging really does belong in the work place.
Perhaps it does – it just needs boundaries.
In our everyday life, we use texting regularly to make plans, ask questions and resolve queries like “what time will you be home tonight?”
However, it often seems to take longer and feels to me that it is a step backwards in communication.
Standing around typing and waiting for the response seems to be a waste of time and a missed opportunity to connect.
The question also sits unresolved and keeps our minds preoccupied while we wait for a reply.
These messages can often also lend themselves to miscommunication.
You can’t hear the tone of voice, and most often punctuation is not used, so the meaning can be misconstrued.
Here’s an example:
After numerous texts back and forth with a colleague there was still no resolution or plan to move forward on an issue.
The hours between a text and its response seemed to drag.
What could have been resolved in a few minutes over the phone took days.
Eventually I sent a text suggesting a phone call within business hours, estimating in would only take about 20 minutes to resolve the issue.
Eventually, with a little bit of fuss and a message to let me know how much my request was an inconvenience, the call took place and as predicted, the matter was resolved within the timeframe given.
Wrapping up the conversation I decided to ask a personal question, something like, ‘How are you going with all this?’ and instantly I regretted it.
What followed was a torrent of words telling me I was wasting her time and that she “doesn’t do phone calls”.
Suffice to say, communication between the two of us remained stilted for the remainder of the project.
So tell me, when texting is the default, and a phone conversation is often seen as time wasting, and unwelcome, how do you establish friendships over multiple short messages?
Perhaps the answer really does lie in the face of an Emoji.
Anyway, I’m off to my other job, where we work face to face and talk to one another across the office.
At lunch time we might walk to the bakery together and chat about our weekend.
Later, I’ll head home and possibly catch me some different kind of Zs.

 

Wait for it…. here we go…


MY GOOGLE Calendar informs me there are 30 days in September, but if you listen to Mike Brady there is only one day I’ll want to remember.
Do I really want to listen to a man who also wants me to get in there and fight?
Probably.
It just so happens that yet another lot of school holidays fall in September.
Fighting is surely the order of the day? Let us chart a typical day in the September holidays.
You wake up and it’s warm and sunny, by the time the offspring wake up, clouds have formed, the wind has sprung up and for goodness sake it’s started to pour with rain.
Excellent, we are now all trapped inside.
Wait for it… here we go…
“Mum, he just used all the milk so I can’t eat breakfast — I’m starving.”
Door slams.
Looks like I won’t be eating either.
Different door gets banged.

“Mum, she’s just gone into the shower, I wanted a shower”.
Of course you do.
You haven’t wanted to for the last three days whenever I’ve asked you to, but now that one of the three showers in the house is occupied, it’s imperative that you wash.
And apparently it has to be that shower.
Distressed screaming spews forth from a bedroom.
Wait for it… here we go…
“Mum, he’s stolen my phone charger”.
Really? A day ago, I had a charger and a fully functioning pair of earbuds.
Currently, I possess an empty wall socket and a white cord that has the left ear bud hanging on by the merest of threads whilst the right one is MIA.
As the caterwauling increases, my one manky earbud that’s hanging on by a wire fails to block out the incessant noise adequately enough.
I devise an escape plan.
With all of them too busy hissing at each other to notice me, I grab the car keys and sneak out to the garage.
Except, where there is meant to be a car, there is large empty car sized space.
School holidays — car service — of course.
Shoulders slumped, I drag my defeated butt back into the house and commit the most fatal of parenting fails.
“If you lot don’t stop fighting, I’m banning all electronic devices”.
Wait for it … here we go …
Complete silence as three sets of eyes unite, turn and bore into me like laser beams.
It’s only 9am.
It’s only day one.
It’s not the first time that I wished I drank coffee.
Or gin.
Or the perfect combo of the two.
Espresso martinis.
Backing away from the combined advancing force of three wi-fi-less teenagers, I feebly offer up a packet of Uno cards and my treasured childhood limited Australian edition Monopoly set, complete with Bourke Street before it was a Mall and Telecom before it became Telstra.
By some unspoken sibling super power, they have me surrounded, pluck Monopoly from my trembling grip and start to set up the board on the breakfast-less dining room table.
Game on.
I’m ready to get in there and fight, fly like an angel and show them my might.
I’m not called Cazaly for nothing.
I dazzle my treasured offspring with my entrepreneurial 1980s property developer style, snapping up properties, building houses and opening up the odd hotel.
Too busy congratulating myself on using the experience that only comes with being on the earth longer than all three of them combined, I make the typical Gen-X mistake and ignore the crumbling infrastructure.
I have failed to invest in the utilities and railway stations.
My portfolio slumps.
I find myself trapped like a commuter approaching Hoddle Street on the Eastern Freeway at 8:30 in the morning.
A few more poor rolls of the dice and I’m in and out of jail often enough that I could be cast for a recurring role in Wentworth.
Filing for bankruptcy, I realise I’m not called Cazaly at all and the crowd is definitely not on my side.
Without me to gang up on, the teenagers turn on each other.
The noise gets louder and louder.
“If you lot don’t stop fighting, I’m returning all electronic devices”.
Wait for it… here it comes…
High fives all round and
“Hey, have you seen the latest skittles Tik-Tok?,” as they clamber around each other’s phones.
Walking out the door to embark on my seven-kilometre round trip to IGA to get milk for my breakfast, it strikes me that Mike Brady was both right and wrong.
There really is that one day in September, but I truly do not want to remember it.
My Google calendar was also correct about there being 30 days, thankfully only half off them are in the school holidays.

Soak it up while it lasts

THE DAYS HAVE been short, and the landscape has been at perhaps its most hydrated.

The sky seems drab, but quite literally, soak it up while it lasts!

Before you know it, we’ll be back to dust and searing heat.

For the naturalist in mid-winter, things can seem uninteresting.

Many animals are tucked away in hollows and burrows and the “higher” plants (trees, grasses, flowers, etc) are at a standstill.

However, a whole different slice of biodiversity has been doing its thing this month.

The trick is just knowing how to spot them.

The large “flushes” of mushrooms may have passed, but the fungi are by no means silent.

Turning a clump of soil or leaf litter may reveal fine white hairs — hyphae — the roots of the fungi.

As these are highly sensitive to drying out, winter is their time to break down all of last season’s organic matter and cycle it back into soil.

Springing from the soil after a good drink are the ferns.

Their fronds emerge as coiled bundles known as fiddle heads, for their resemblance to the end of a classical string instrument.

Thriving in low temperatures, there is a clear connection between ferns and trees.

The canopy trees shield out the harsh sunlight of midday, whilst allowing the gentle, angled light of dawn and dusk to nourish the fern.

Often at sunrise and sunset, you will see a small beam of light, with a fern waiting in just the right spot to take full advantage.

The mosses and lichens too revel in the wet, and those fuzzy banks of moss play host to other species with their high moisture content, whilst simultaneously smothering out the weeds.

These will continue to drip out water for many months to come, helping those heavy rain periods nourish the landscape for a longer period.

With water so widespread, life is good for our amphibious friends, the frogs.

Their habitat is at its greatest extent at this time of year.

Small dams and even dips/trenches in the landscape may be full of water now, but not so in summer time.

As the summertime grasses are drowned by water, a host of macro-invertebrates — water bugs — move in to feed on the decaying grass, triggering the beginnings of the freshwater food chain.

Without fish to eat their tadpoles, and nice small, tadpole sized meals swimming about, these little puddles are the perfect place for frogs to complete their life cycle.

Such water logged soils, when combined with high winds prove the down fall of many trees at this time of year.

Some healthy giants, but also many smaller dead trees that lost the race for top spot.

If you’ve had such an event at your house/your local bit of park, look out for weeds that may germinate in these areas come spring.

As if this didn’t make life hard enough for the poor possums, with very few moths about, many possums subsist only on the odd gum leaf in winter.

Our wildlife doesn’t truly hibernate like bears; however, many possums enter a low energy state or “torpor”, sleeping deeply but still waking nightly for a little snack and a stretch.

Winter is when a hollow in a dead tree becomes prized real estate.

As the inside of the tree rots it releases heat, much like a compost heap, just enough to keep a hollow a little warmer than the outside world.

The first few acacia flowers signal an explosion just around the corner.

More subtle signs of spring appear in the form of orchid leaves appearing on the ground surface, and various lilies putting out some foliage ready for the spring time delight.

So, chuck on your favourite trench coat, some good boots and get out in the bush while it is still full of life’s most precious element — water.

Ian Hawkins is a local ecologist, operating his own small business, Magpie Ecology.

When will I receive my 2019 tax assessment?


THERE ARE two significant changes this year that may delay the time when your tax return can be processed and assessed.
If you are anticipating a tax refund, then be prepared for the refund to hit your bank account later than you may be expecting.

The Impact of Single Touch Payroll Reporting (STP)

Commencing  July  1 , 2018 , employers with 20  or  more employees have been required to report their payroll details to the ATO on a real time basis each pay period.
Employers with less than 20 employees may have voluntarily elected to adopt this real time reporting system.
Employers will have until July 31, 2019 to finalise their STP data for the 2018/19 financial year, with that date to change back to July 14 each year subsequently.
So how might this change affect you?
If your employer has been reporting under STP you will no longer receive a Payment Summary (also previously known as a Group Certificate) but instead will be replaced by an Income Statement that you will need to access through your myGov account or your tax agent.
For the current year only, you may not be able to access this information until as late as July 31. Furthermore, consistent with prior
years, other pre-fill data including dividends, interest, share disposals, and private health insurance cover details are progressively uploaded on to the ATO systems and may take time to be finalised.
If you receive income from trust funds this information is often not available until late September.
From July 1, 2019 STP reporting will be extended to include all businesses with employees other than family businesses comprising only family members as employees, who may report on a quarterly basis together with the lodgment of their quarterly BAS.
Furthermore, if proposed measures announced in the 2019/20 Federal Budget become law, from July 1, 2020, STP data collected by the ATO will be expanded and shared with other Commonwealth agencies to ensure individuals receiving Government benefits are paid their
correct entitlements.

The Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LAMITO)

Taxpayers with taxable incomes below $37,000 have for many years been entitled to a non-refundable Low Income Tax Offset (LITO) of $445 phasing out to zero at a taxable income of $66,666.
In the April 2019 Federal Budget t h e C o a l i t i o n G o v e r n m e n t foreshadowed the introduction of a new additional tax offset (LAMITO) to provide additional temporary nonrefundable tax relief to low income earners and also encompassing a new level of temporary tax relief to middle income earners to be available for the 2019 to 2022 income years.
At the time of writing this column, this foreshadowed legislation is yet to go before Parliament, but current undertakings from the Opposition suggest that the legislation will be supported.
N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h e b u d g e t proposal could be subject to some amendments in order to pass through both Houses of Parliament.
Should the legislation as outlined in the budget pass unchanged then individuals with a taxable income under $37,000 can expect an additional non-refundable LAMITO of $255 making a total LITO and LAMITO of $700.
The amount of the L AMITO increases for taxable incomes above $37,000 to reach a maximum of $1080 at a taxable income of $90,000, thereafter reducing at the rate of 3% of the excess taxable income over $90,000.
If your tax return is processed and assessed prior to the proposed LAMITO legislation passing through both Houses and receiving Royal Assent, your tax return would subsequently need to be amended by the ATO to accommodate the impact of the LAMITO on your 2019 assessment.
This therefore is the second reason you may choose to delay lodging your tax return until after July 31 or later until the LAMITO tax offset becomes law and ATO systems are updated to accommodate any changes from the proposed legislation as outlined in the Budget.
Please remember both of the tax offsets explained above are nonrefundable.
This means that you must have incurred a tax liability and either paid PAYG tax instalments through the year or your employer has withheld PAYG tax from your wage or salary during the year.
If not, then the tax offsets will be an offset against your unpaid tax liability reducing the tax payable on your tax assessment.
If your employer has withheld tax sufficient to cover your tax liability, the tax offsets will reduce (offset) your tax liability thus producing a tax refund.
If you use a tax agent to prepare your tax return, the above factors may explain why your tax agent chooses to delay lodging your tax return this year until all relevant pre-fill tax information is available to download into your tax return and thus avoid the added expense of having to lodge an amended return.

The content of this article is not intended to be used as professional advice and should not be used as such.
B r i a n S p u r r e l l F C PA , C TA ,
Registered Tax Agent, is Director
o f Personalised Taxation & Accounting Services Pty Ltd.
PO
Box 143 Warrandyte 3113.
Mobile: 0412 011 946

bspurrell@ptasaccountants.com.au,
www.ptasaccountants.com.au

The season of insects, moths and fungi

PERHAPS MY favourite cyclic event of the naturalist calendar was the mass emergence of the rain moths.

It was usually an April phenomenon after the late summer storms had swept across the city and began to break the drought of summer.

Mists returned to the river valley and the steadier rainfall of March and April would refresh the earth and kick start the ecological processes that had laid dormant over Summer.

It was then that the rain moths would appear at an outside light that had been left on.

Hundreds of them, in a display of dazzling diversity.

There were heliotrope moths, twin emeralds, Clara’s satin moths, geometrids, white satin moths, granny’s cloak moths and many, many species, big and small that I could not put a name to.

The mass emergence of the rain moths provided a guaranteed food supply, a rich source of protein for the local birds essential for their late winter breeding cycle.

This critical food resource would give them an advantage over the spring/ summer migrating birds coming to the Yarra Valley.

Sometimes there would be the huge wattle goat moths that were as big as small birds.

Moths, whose caterpillars would chew their way through black wattle trees before entering the ground to emerge when the rains softened the earth enough for them to dig their way out.

Sometimes there would be great numbers of Bogong moths that would be blown off course on their trek to the mountains of the Great Divide where they historically were gathered and eaten by the local First Nations Peoples.

However, I haven’t experienced the rain moth emergence now since 2010, the year the Millennium drought broke.

Before that I recorded it in 1997, the year the Millennium Drought begun.

Twice in over 22 years instead of something that was an every-year event.

The drop in rainfall across the Yarra Valley has curtailed these critical ecological events.

It is not just moth numbers that are reduced, it is across the whole spectrum of insects.

The fall in insect presence gets mentioned in Field Naturalist Club newsletters.

People notice their car windows don’t get covered in insects on long summer drives.

Entomologists worry about it.

The fall in average rainfall that we are experiencing is also affecting the prevalence of fungi which — like the rain moths — would generally begin showing on mass around April in the old rainfall patterns.

Fungi are important to all life on many levels.

The majority of plants require a mycorrhizal relationship with fungi by which the fungi facilitate plant growth by breaking down nutrients in the soil and making them available to plants.

They influence the well-being of human populations on a large scale because they are part of the nutrient cycle in ecosystems.

They naturally produce antibiotics to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria, limiting their competition in the natural environment.

Important antibiotics for human use can also be isolated from fungi.

When we talk of biodiversity, the numbers of species are dominated by insects and fungi.

Of all the known species in the world, vertebrates have 2 per cent of the species, plants 11 per cent, insects and invertebrates 43 per cent and fungi 44 per cent of the total species.

Species diversity is one of the greatest stabilizing influences on our planet.

A diverse ecosystem is a stable ecosystem.

The protection of biodiversity is one of the three core objectives of the Australian National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Future.

Conserving biodiversity is vital for maintaining our quality of life and our standard of living in the long term.

“So important are insects and other land-dwelling arthropods that if all were to disappear, humanity would not last more than a few months.

Most of the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would crash to extinction about the same time.

Next would go the bulk of flowering plants and with them the physical structure of most forests and other terrestrial habitats of the world. The land surface would literally rot.”

—Wilson-The Diversity of Life