July 8, 2014

My Run-In With The Guy With The Dragon Tattoo, In The Centrelink Queue

This morning I paid a standard required visit to Centrelink. Lovely they wanted to see me to catch up on things. Maybe it was to prove that I hadn't gone off overseas to join a jihad? like my neighbour ...at least I think that's where my enigmatic "bro next door" has gone.

Anyway, I'm standing there in the line, just inside the automatic entrance doors. I'm last in the queue, until a guy enters, and stands behind me. Maybe under that Ned Kelly beard, he's got a great sense of humour, knits Aran sweaters, makes perfect ganache, can dance the polonaise, flies 747s ...and is single. Woo-hoo!

We're a happy, meek and mild bunch. Nothing for us to worry about? Health co-payments. Heck, what's that? Final warning notices from the gas company? Hilarious! Being an economic vegetarian. Priceless. But then I start to think that perhaps I'm in the wrong queue. Perhaps I'm in the Medicare queue?

I forget to ask the guy behind me, if he'd mind my spot, when I beeline off to speak to the kind looking Centrelink man, sitting several metres away, at an enquiry desk.

me:  Hellooo! Do I need to be in that queue over there if I already have an appointment?
Kind man:  Yes, you still have to line up in THAT queue.
me: Righto then.

So I toddle back to the queue, which has moved beyond the door, almost out onto the foot path ...like a reverse conga line towards the adjacent suburb. And badly misreading the situation, I presume that the guy, who previously stood behind me - in my original "queue spot" - would remember me, an esteemed "lady of uncertain age". So naturally, I return to that initial place ...in the queue ...in front of him. Wrong move.

And as I glance up at the guy (I'm short, he's tall), I notice the dragon tattoo he has encircling his neck, and I realise I'm not in Kansas anymore. It's Planet of the Apes all over again.

Tattoo guy:  Don't push in!
me:   I was here before.
Tattoo guy:  You were never here before! NEVER seen ya!
me:  You don't remember me?
Tattoo guy:  If you WERE here, you would've been on THAT side of the carpet!

I have no idea what tattoo guy is garbling on about.  And his dragon begins to twist and turn. In no time they both start to get really stroppy. And nobody else, standing in the line, shows any sign of remembering me. Is it no wonder I don't get the jobs ...

But, I wanted to say to my fellow unemployed queue-ees: "Don't I look like a person who knows people, who know people, who know other people?"  But of course, that's not true. Not now. Not in these unemployed dog days when all I get to do - is mingle with a guy with a dragon tattoo, in the Centrelink queue.

I don't want to cause a fracas, become known as a troublesome Centrelink client, end up on someone's iPhone and the 6 o'clock news, being blasted by grumpy tattoo guy - who naturally has the rest of the queue siding with him. Typical. No different to a job interview panel really. Although maybe if my brouhaha with tattoo guy did go viral, I could tell my story to Tracie Grimshaw, and someone might offer me A JOB!

But I back away slowly - averting my gaze from dragon features, and scuttle to the end of the queue - thus avoiding further Centrelink conniptions.

Image: flickr

May 22, 2014

Wink Exposes Hidden Job Market

Ok. Enough already about the wink. And apparently the wink has gone global! Global? However, ironically, it hasn't made its way onto WinkNews.Com.

But I'd watch that space!

The dreary lowdown

So during a discussion on the May 2014 budget, Prime Minister Tony Abbott winks during a radio interview when a caller phones in to explain how things have got so bad for her, that she, a grandmother! - has had to make the tragic career switch to employment as a sex hotline worker - to make ends meet ....so to speak.

Now Twitterdom and media tarts are bursting their cyber-seams, ranting and raving about the said wink. And they're going ballistic, saying what a nasty piece of work our Tony is for responding in this way. Many infer that the wink was an overt wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of a wink ...meaning the wink reflected a viscious, misogynistic streak in our PM's personality.

But perhaps he was just over-tired, had lint in his contact lens, or just finds our Jon Faine quite attractive. Well I do!

And now the Prime Minister, has been forced to defend the wink.

The apology

Mr Abbott said on Thursday morning that he WAS responding to the ABC radio host, when he winked during the interview.

"Look, I was looking at Jon Faine, he was smiling at me and I winked back at him," Mr Abbott told Channel Nine. "I shouldn't have done it, Karl. I should've been more focused on the caller and more focused on the interview."

Mr Abbott said he was "momentarily distracted" by Faine.

The question

So why didn't Abbott's media minders, simply instruct him to wink at Karl during the subsequent Channel Nine interview? At least that tactic would have ended the story, and the Twitter feeders would've soon returned their collective gaze, to under-employed internet kitty cats.

The bigger issue

Winks aside, as an astute and sensitive lady unemploymentista, I empathize with the damsel, grandma'am in distress. I know how underwhelming life is on a pension. Of course in my case, it's the thrills and spills of the Newstart Allowance

Ok, so I'm not a grandmother. But I'm grumpy and old enough to be one. And don't employers seem to know (or imagine) that factor ...when they receive my carbon dateable job applications - as I rarely hear back from them. Which is another key issue people! Now why is there no united, collective Twitter shout about that particular inequity?

So is the sex hotline industry the way to go then?

Returning to topic. I too, coincidentally, have considered a similar career move into sex hotline work - having found it impossible to get ANY regular job as a librarian/general dogsbody ....even pharmacy delivery boy roles seem to be a no go zone.  When I saw the latter job advertisement, stuck to the local chemist window, I seized the day - and naturally applied within. Unfortunately, it appeared they only wanted an eager kid with a push-bike.  

"But wouldn't a car, driven by a grown-up (woman of a certain age), be more efficient, and safer than a kid on a bike?" I said to the pharmacist, in response to his flaccid interest in my application. Apparently he'd been flooded with applications ...from eager kids, that is. 

It's another strange, but true snippet from the rivetting life of a mature lady-unemployable, as she searches - undaunted - for the unsearchable. I digress.

A case study in skill matching

My yummy-grandmummy, sex hotline idea germinated several months ago, during compulsory "Job Readiness Skills" classes - run by our Australian Government's, Department of Employment.  Yep, those tedious (taxpayer funded) remedial job search sessions, are somewhat useful - after all ...for the mature job seeker, investigating the so-called, hidden, unexplored, niche job markets! Very niche.

We unemployees had been sitting around the table - participating in the usual daily discussions, about our unique "barriers to employment" - led by our fascinating French national course facilitator. 

I'd explained to the group, and Monsieur, how I would happily apply for the myriad Call Centre roles on offer, but knew I'd fail tragically once on the job, because of the fact that (despite my "mature-age", and self-evident people-person/life skills), I clearly sound like a thirteen year old, when I speak on the telephone.

Annoying phone marketers have candidly and blatantly told me this (even though I'm old enough to be the world's grandmother!).

Often, when telemarketers call, they routinely ask me if there's an adult at home. Damn those presumptuous dweebs!  And really Joe Hockey (Bill Shorten et al), who (except Rolf Harris), wants to be pestered over the phone - by a thirteen year old? - about suspect investment proposals, cheap energy plans, and dodgy holiday options.

That said, when one career door slams shut, another supposedly opens. 

How so?

A fellow unemployee in the job centre class - a laid-back Kiwi bloke (who defined his job du jour as "womaniser"), encouragingly informed me, that "a thirteen year old's voice", was an attribute, that's keenly sort after by the sex hotline industry (and its associated dubious clientele).

Now why hadn't I thought of that career option, and skills-match before?!

And with my womaniser friend's hot job tip almost fading from memory, I continue to contemplate, the built-in perks of such a career move. For it would allow me to traverse the usual ageist recruitment hurdles, work from home (thus avoid travel costs), have makeup free days every day!, watch TVSN at whim (and therefore maintain the supposed lifestyle of an unemployee), wear pyjamas all day long (more savings), and perhaps claim my phone, other utilities bills, and even costs for replacing the said pyjamas (work uniform) - in my annual tax return!

Just to have a tax return (oh what joy), and be in a position (like normal people), to pay any of the additional taxes, announced in the budget - now remains a mere fantasy. 

I know ....I need to get a life. But MONEY!

So where do I sign up, for a job as a grumpy-but-spunky chat line unemployee? As with standard Call Centre modus operandi, here's hoping I'll be given large-print idiot scripts to follow - for those regular blank senior moments.



Meet Gloria, the Phone Sex Worker who made Tony Abbott Wink

Image: flickr

April 13, 2014

Diary of a Foreign Minister, Aged 13 and 3/4? Discuss.


With Sue Townsend passing away in recent days, I can't help thinking about her fictional Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, when considering Bob Carr's current memoir: Diary of a Foreign Minister. For there are many similarities.

For starters, both tomes are heavily interwoven with political themes.  While Adrian Mole's thoughts, capture something of the zeitgeist of the UK during the Thatcher period, Bob Carr reflects on his diplomatic exploits in Australian politics, at home and abroad. Also, both books would clearly appeal to many readers as a realistic and humorous treatment of the inner life of an adolescent boy.

Yes, I said an adolescent boy! 

For those whiny, belittling comments made about Julia Gillard's "distinctive, broad Australian accent" are VERY year 10 student - Bob. And for such a snarky comment, any year level coordinator, would have you sitting on the Parliament's naughty step - in transit to detention! 

Now Bob, we can't all have your mellifluous tones (which have always made me think of John Wayne).  And why? Because, if you looked lately, you'd notice that we live in Australia. It's not Kansas! And, our Australian accent, in all its variations - is gorgeous. I say that, as the off-spring of what's best described as a united nations union. And since I won't be auditioning for a role in Homeland (or, as Downton Abbey's Lady Gaga), any time soon - that broad Australian accent is good enough.

Of course, many commentators are saying that Bob's light hearted, self-deprecating banter (concerning business class frequent flying), has been taken far too seriously ...that he's just having a laugh. And, of course it's inferred, that those not laughing - just don't get it (and are therefore, in other words, just pathetic, stupid, low IQ goose brains). However, in these so-called post-entitlement times, we "the unentitled" do get it Bob.

Lost in translation

For "poor" Bob moans that business class travel is akin to slavery: Nessun dorma! ... "No edible food. No airline pyjamas. I lie in my tailored suit."

And, of the in-flight entertainment system, he moans, "There are no English subtitles for the Wagnerian opera!" 

Oh Mr Bob Carr, please! Where does one start? Those comments are simply not funny.

For those slices from your former, VIP Foreign Minister life "up in the air", make one wonder, how you ever did manage to get from A to B (on a regular basis), in between plane rides - if you couldn't even think ahead, and pack in your hand luggage: a pair of pyjamas, or towelling onesie, and of course not forgetting an Oslo lunch. And, if you're reading this drivel dear Mr Carr, here's a link to google translate - very good when lost in translation. (And I'm the jobless one!?).

Actually, had you donned a comfy onesie, I pity the passengers waking up to that vision of you, from across the aisle ....no doubt it just could send them scuttling back to economy, or even to the loos . . . zu erbrechen! (forgive the German). So probably best you forever remain in the fetching Mr Bean suit.


The other classes 
Now even I (one free-range unemployee), know what it's like to travel business class.  Of course, unlike you Mr Carr, it wasn't at the Australian taxpayer's expense. It was back in the dark ages - during the golden age of air travel, employment ...even unemployment! Twas in the post-cat litter, carb rich, pre-twitter era. God bless it.

At the start of a Rome to Melbourne British Airways flight, there I sat in economy class, beside a mother and her baby. Feeling they'd be needing additional leg space, during the 24 hour flight, I promptly asked the air hostess if there was an alternative seating arrangement. She kindly explained, that the only option would be to move me (me!) to business class. 

So off to business class I toddled. And for 24 hours, life WAS different. Moreover, for our troubles, at the end of the trip, they gave "we business class people", a gratis bottle of champagne - each!  I was pleasantly happy about that. Back then, who cared about first class freeby pyjamas (for I was already wearing my jim jams when boarding the plane). It's all obviously been downhill since then.  I digress.

Chris Kenny notes, that in his time as Foreign Minister, Carr travelled much more extensively than was required, all the while, tweeting selfies with his interlocutors. Now why doesn't that surprise me!

Such revelations, from the minutiae of a Labor MP's life, therefore remain perplexing.  After all, isn't Labor supposed to identify with "the workers" and economy class?

Penny for your thoughts people.


Marriage relationship vouchers: Why not, plus 7 more for the unemployed

Productivity Commission predicts retirement at 70 ...

Australian welfare reform: It's all Greek to me

 Photo: flickr

March 22, 2014

Guardian Digital Journalism Scheme - a day in the life [By Erica Buist]

Still pinching herself that her blog about being jobless (may have) landed her this job as a trainee journalist, in the second instalment Erica Buist describes a typical day in which getting retweeted by blokes named Ricky from Reading take the rote out of the routine.


‘Does this belong to you?’ – the question digital journalism trainee and her desk neighbour were too polite to ask.

There is no typical day at the Guardian.

The 10 trainees have wildly different backgrounds, skills, qualifications and jobs. We sit at different desks, go to different meetings, pitch and work on different ideas, projects and campaigns with different departments and flow between them all. The only typical thing is the messiness of my desk. 

There’s a near-empty capless Evian bottle that my workmate and I are too polite to throw away, each of us assuming it must belong to the other.

However, I will attempt to give an idea of what goes on once we bleep our way into the Kings Cross offices …

9am Plonk myself at my desk. Yes, plonk. It’s way too early in the day to simply sit myself down with the grace of a smug ballet dancer. Somewhere between logging on and perusing the news for feature ideas, I blink in disbelief. I have a job. In 2014. At one of the only newspapers I never want to fling across a room. How?

I got hired on the Guardian digital journalism scheme because of my blog, How to Be Jobless.

Flabbergasted that I wasn’t immune to the job crisis affecting a million other young people, many of them as or more qualified than me, I started blogging anonymously, hoping to turn my jobless bleatings into something that would entertain people in the same position.

Somehow, it worked.

A little community of jobless, underemployed and thoroughly peeved young people built up, we nicknamed ourselves the pyjama-army, or "pyjarmy", and I became the unofficial voice of the jobless youth. I like to think I’m here because Alan Rusbridger liked my blog, but it’s just as possible he hated it and thought giving me a job might be the ticket to shutting me up.

10am Morning conference. Open to all staff, people wander in and gather on the soft yellow sofas, chatting away. When word gets out that Alan has started speaking we all hush and lean in to hear. (It sounds like we’re in a big room – we’re not, Alan just has a very soft voice. Other bosses get “Kick me” signs stuck on them; it’s about time someone stuck a tiny microphone on Alan.)

He tells us about the Guardian’s online performance the day before, and section editors announce their departments’ content for the day.

Sometimes, guests are invited to talk (off the record, so no details, sorry!) about their organisations. At my second ever conference at the Guardian, the guest was Steve Coogan. I didn’t get to speak to him but I hugged him with my eyes. I don’t think he noticed.

11am On the best type of day, someone will say to me, “Here’s a topic. We need you to write something funny on it, by lunchtime.” I used to do standup comedy, but found I preferred not looking at the audience, especially in dank underground comedy clubs on weeknights when I had a perfectly good pair of pyjamas at home. Now, if I write something serious, I have to comb through it picking out the jokes like bits of gum stuck in a child’s hair.

1-2pm Lunch in the subsidised canteen, which serves as much kale as you imagine the Guardian canteen would.

2-5pm Apart from writing, editing, pitching and researching, the afternoon usually involves an informal meeting with colleagues, as there’s always a project to discuss.

Once I was in a meeting and I took a sneaky glance at my phone. I had a Facebook message from a friend: “Ricky tweeted your article!”

What kind of message is that? Who the hell is Ricky? I typed a reply.

“Ricky Martin?” I joked, “That’s nice of him.”

“Not Ricky Martin, Ricky GERVAIS.

I don’t know why, but I burst out laughing. It seemed absurd, yet it’s quite ordinary. Ricky Gervais is just a bloke. Of course he reads a newspaper. Why wouldn’t he tweet a story he sees? Especially one that happens to be about a service that streams his shows.

Ironically, that article was a learning curve for me. I was shadowing the TV editor for a day and felt particularly ignorant as I don’t have a TV. Even though your job as a journalist is to try to be an expert in whatever you happen to be writing about, I told the editor I only had Netflix, so blog ideas were unnervingly scarce. After some mad research to familiarise myself with the minefield of weirdness that is British television, she said “Why don’t you write about the fact that you have Netflix, and no TV?”

The experience taught me something important: there’s always an idea (and sometimes a bloke from Reading will share it).

It’s easy to forget the reach you have when you go from your own blog to a Guardian one, because on the face of it, the procedure is the same. You fact check, you spell check, you consider the reader, you link to relevant pages and sources, you publish. You reply “thank you” to kind comments. You try to ignore or laugh off the abusive ones. You get the bus home.

Which I do, around 5:30 or 6pm. But today wasn’t a typical day, not even by Guardian standards. Because today I made a breakthrough. I shook things up. I took a stand.

I threw out that Evian bottle.

This article is republished here with the generous permission of the team at


Erica Buist is a journalist at the Guardian, and creator of the UK based blog -  HowToBeJobless.  Find further articles in the Guardian, and Go Think Big.Co.Uk.


Image (Top of Page) flickr

March 15, 2014

Finding Jobs in the Social Media IT Age [By Leah Castro]

In this age of the ever ubiquitous social media, it's not a surprise to find that Facebook, Twitter, and other supposedly personal pastimes can play a role even in the job hunt.

I've been working in the headhunting industry for 5 years now, and here are some tips that I can give, based on my experience:

1. Think before you post

So you had a rough day at work. You think your boss is a demon from the underworld. Or you had a case of the Monday blues and just chucked a sickie. These are ramblings you'd want to share to the Internet world, but you might just want to think before hitting the "Post" button.

I'm sure most of you by now are savvy enough to have your bosses and co-workers on a separate restricted list to prevent them from reading these top secret posts. That's a good first step.

But consider this possibility: in the future, you may find yourself in search of a different career path, or just a different company to work with. One of your Facebook/Twitter friends might be your future new boss or reference. What if s/he remembers all the posts you've made? Do you think s/he will still recommend or accept you for the job?

2. Voice out intelligent opinions

From time to time, use the Internet to broaden your horizons. Learn something new. Read the news. Research about pressing issues. Then share about your thoughts.

On Twitter, consider replying to key persons related to the matter you're talking about, and say something worthwhile. These persons do reply from time to time, especially if they found your opinions particularly insightful. This may help you broaden your network and find like-minded people who might point you to potential career opportunities.

3. Stalk (subtly and ethically of course)

By stalking, I mean find companies you really want to work for, find out the people involved in these companies, and see if they have public Twitter profiles. Follow them, find out what they are looking for in a candidate, and when they post Tweets that you have something to say about, then try doing tip #2 above. Follow their official company Twitter / Facebook account as well. The company might post about their goals and missions from time to time. Or some events they've attended that might present clues for you.

If someone from the company replies to one of your Tweets, or better yet, follows you, you can try to segue into asking for a job interview. Just make sure you don't go too overboard with this!

4. Let your passions be known

Get a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is a social network that is specifically for professionals, jobseekers, and headhunters. Be sure you put in a photo of yourself. In the event you get an interview, the interviewer will remember you more. Also, be descriptive about your expertise. Write concrete experiences you've had in the past that have helped you hone your skills for the intended job. Think of this as your online resume.  Make it a killer one! 

Don't have enough experiences under your belt yet? Consider #5 below.

5. Connect with friends and offer your expertise

Post on your profile and offer your services for free or at a really cheap price. For example, if you're an aspiring web developer, offer to make websites for your friends' businesses for free. Want to get into event planning? I'm sure you have a friend who's getting married or throwing a birthday party. Offer to help out in the planning process. Are you an accountant perhaps? It's safe to say that majority of your friends would LOVE to ask for advice from someone they know and trust. By doing this, you can put more substantial content to your resume and you might even be referred by satisfied clients to people that can just help you land your dream job!

6. Social media as your portfolio

Facebook is a great place to post photos that show your expertise. Post a photo of a successful party you helped plan. Or some plumbing tips that you yourself can attest to. 

Speaking of photos, Pinterest is an awesome place to share them, too! Pinterest is basically a site full of gorgeous photos, and if people like them they will share it to their friends until you reach a new network of people!

Blogs are also a great way to showcase your skills. You can post free useful tutorials for people - viewers will always appreciate them and share them to friends.

They say "It's not what you know, it's who you know". I say, "it's what you know that helps you find who you need to know"!

Note: While I've outlined several ways to turn your social media accounts into assets for your job hunt, this doesn't mean that I think your accounts should be restricted to that. I still agree that our Facebook profiles are personal, so feel free to post about a recent meal you can't stop raving about... or how hot you think Chris Hemsworth is ;)

Leah Castro works at PNI Business Solutions an IT recruiting agency that caters to SMEs from all over the world.


Cartoon Image: flickr

February 21, 2014

Job Hunting In Barbie's Dream World [Mutual Obligations: ep 15]

When the following Monday comes around, after not hearing back from Mr Darcy, I resolve to go along to the new Job Skills Training activity, that he'd spoken so glowingly about. Gosh was I excited. NOT!

Instinctively, I decide to go with the flow of the Job Network's "program", rather than risk the penalties imposed on absconders (aka no Newstart allowance for several weeks), meaning no money to cover essential utilities, food, lodging, telephone, transport, prescription medication - and in a worst case scenario - perhaps ending up living in an Ikea box under a tree. Better still, there's always the possibility of being a night time stowaway, in one of the faux interior settings, within the actual Ikea store itself? Oh what fun! Although faux bathroom plumbing could be an issue.

Returning to theme ..... Mr Darcy never did return my phone calls, or emails. In fact he seems strangely absent from the job agency that day.  

Mr Darcy goes AWOL

And quite unexpectedly, I'm soon informed that Darcy has left the Job Network - for good. Gone. Just like that. Where do they go?....I always wonder? In the past six months, I'd gone through four! such case workers. And sadly, I had so many other participatory activities scheduled, for myself and Darcy .... I digress.

And then well hello Dolly!

Moving forward, oh what joy? it was to meet the job skills "guru" (one hoped), who would be conducting our course over the next four weeks. 

She's best described as being everything that Monsieur wasn't....(insert heavy sad sigh).  For starters, she bore a strong resemblance to an anorexic version of Lara Bingle ...(insert lugubrious yawn).  Fortunate for her, and unfortunate for a mega-menopausal unemployed uber-cougar of a certain age, who (during such tiresome remedial jobseeking sessions), would so benefit from the visual distraction of another perky Frenchman in tight jeans.  Please Mr Kevin Andrews won't you send me another of those DEEWR employees of excellence....to take the mind off one's pitiful joblessness? ....so late in one's career.

Wearing a mini mini-dress, stiletto heels, and displaying perfect salon quaffed, blonde hair - this new gal on the block, appeared to be a walking, talking, living Barbie doll! And I would say Barbie perhaps had only recently celebrated losing her first teeth, taking her first Contiki Tour (do they still run them?), drinking her first schnapps, getting her first push-up bra, the front door key to mummy and daddy's house, and of course the key to their deluxe model, uber-fuschia Winnebago!

Now don't I sound like a grumpy, and jealous old wench. But really, dear reader, this stick-insect thin chickster must have been half my body weight, oops - I mean AGE! Moreover, I imagine her employment history would span mere nanoseconds, in contrast to my twenty five years or so, in the workforce. And so naturally I just couldn't help wondering why that Job Network agency couldn't show some wisdom and prudence, by at least hiring a middle-aged Barbie to run the show? It was a far cry from the mature and extraordinarily nuanced - midlife Monsieur - who had conducted our class of 2013 .

C'est la vie.

Oh where are you Monsieur when I so need you!

Final plea bargain

But, before the session gets under way, still convinced the mysteriously AWOL Mr Darcy has placed me in the activity by mistake - I ask Barbie if there's any chance I could be excused from attending? 

Please please, pretty please Miss Barbie! Please say you'll give an old dame one of those Get Out of Jail Free cards, from the Monopoly community chest ...So that I can return to the sanctity of my home office, which is (after months and months of unemployment), now state-of-the-art, purpose-built solely for prolific job application production. Furthermore Miss Barbie, don't I look like a dame who already knows her beans on applying for jobs and cold calling?


However, what indeed was I thinking?! BIG brain malfunction on my part.  Of course, no such luck exists in Job Networkville. And no surprises ....I don't get a reprieve. Though it was worth a try.

A to Z of Barbie

And yet, amazingly, despite my initial teething problems, my feelings of intrepidation soon disappear - when on day one, I discover how nice and congenial Barbie seems. For despite her skinny frame, youth, and unblemished complexion, she appears so pleasant, warm, and friendly! The Job Jetwork hostess with the mostest!  And I simply can't stop myself from letting Barbie know, that with her presentation, poise, and personality - I foresee a lucrative future for her as a commercial TV weather girl.

Barbie tells us that her actual training and career goals are in Marketing and Event Management. And we unemployables are, after all - an event to manage. So she's come to the right place, I tell her.

Our esteemed job-skills facilitator then provided enthralling snippets of her own work and home life. And going into full throttle - Barbara Walters mode, I ask Barbie, if there's a Ken in her life? I just had to know. And there was! Which was just as well, as she didn't hold back from revealing all, about her nasty brother. Barbie informed us, that her obnoxious sibling, also worked as a Job Skills Trainer - in another job centre - within the same building. Spooky!  Perhaps they're Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews' love children?

Then predictably, Barbie puts the spotlight back on we unemployables, by asking each participant to explain to the group, how they ended up being in the course. Now isn't that obvious Barbie? Are you trying to rub our noses in it?!

And then day one turns into day two - and still what a swell? party we unemployables were having. Of course since Barbie was clearly a food avoider, there was no free lunch on offer, although she did kindly let us have "lavatory breaks".

And then there was role play!

We had to split up into pairs and role play. Lucky me, I got to role play with the nonchalant and spunky young Jeremy ...A fresh-faced lad of thirty years, with oh so beautifully cut wavy hair, which hung in just the right direction across his smooth forehead. And there was not a facial stud, or tattoo in sight.  For a woman of uncertain age (suffering gross facial metal and tattoo fatique), who as an unemployee doesn't get out much, Barbie's job readiness class was transforming into a (government funded!) speed dating service, minus the added expense. Entirely win-win.

Jeremy's task, was to get to know anything he could about me in five minutes. Wow! A conversation all about me! And I talked and drivelled on about my family dynasty, the mafia connections, the challenges I encountered navigating a sibling bridezilla, the dream I had about Mr Darcy and his rabbit, my problems with a domestic rat, the importance of doggy daycare, whether he had a pirate costume? ...and was he free next week to role play with me?

And then I got a second chance to role play with Jeremy. Only this time it was the young spunkster's turn to drone on about himself. However in that instance, Barbie told me I had to express a total disinterest in what the young spunk had to say. Why?

Did any of us learn anything from this pointless exercise? Yes we did. We discovered that, at the going rate of $900, or thereabouts (per unemployed participant), the course so far seemed like a waste of Australian taxpayer money. Regardless, I was quite chuffed, when Barbie applauded me in front of the other unemployables - for my excellent body language skills! 

And I thought, that perhaps Barbie was not so bad after all.