My Internship with Celebrate Living History

Rhiann from Swinburne University is one of the interns from the Celebrate Living History program, she shares her experience from this semester.


So excited to be featured in the Richard Simpkin exhibition The Locals of Frankston

Me at exhibitionI am so excited to be  in The Locals of Frankston exhibition at Frankston Arts Centre Curved Wall. Richard Simpkin photographed the local characters of Frankston and I was one of them! The exhibition will run from 14 May-27 June 2015.

The story that joins my photograph

Bev Wilkinson is a journalism graduate who discovered the stories of Frankston seniors and turned their tales into an exhibition.

At first it was hard to gain the seniors trust, she rocked up to community groups with most seniors exclaiming, “Are you here to join us?”

Then gradually she started to gain credibility and covered stories from the humble factory worker to a real estate pioneer.

Through covering these stories, she realised that some seniors feel like they are invisible. She realised these stories were a way to make seniors visible and most of all validate that they are important with so much to offer.

This sparked the seed for Celebrate Living History, which is an organisation, focused on bridging the generation gap between seniors and young people.

With passion in her belly she flew to Griffith University on the Gold Coast and spoke with Professor Stephen Stockwell who said yes to interns following in her footsteps and covering the stories of seniors.

Since then she has gone on to involve Swinburne University and recently Frankston High School who submitted stories for the Celebrate Living History of Frankston exhibition held at Cube 37 in 2014.

It is Bev’s dream to continue with Celebrate Living History and not just cover the stories of Frankston residents but seniors on an international level.

She wants to open doors and truly believes that every senior should feel like a rock star. And if she has her way they will be cherished just like they should.

Follow your heart it might take you places

By Bev Wilkinson Celebrate Living History 

You know when your too excited to sleep? Well that’s how I felt when I attended the Walkley Grants for Innovation in Journalism workshop in Melbourne.

Hanging with my crew Emma and Melissa at General Assembly Melbourne
Hanging with my crew Emma and Melissa at General Assembly Melbourne

First up, I really have to thank one of my volunteers Jeana for getting Celebrate Living History to this stage; she has a way with words that are not only intelligent but also powerful. She knows how to make a grant application stand out from the rest. They say you’re only as good as your team, and I’ve been lucky to garner the support of the community and student interns from Griffith University and Swinburne University.

I was grateful to have the opportunity to make the workshop a learning experience for the Swinburne University journalism students that are part of the Celebrate Living History program. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm that Melissa, Emma and Rhiann brought to the workshop and they made the experience much more richer.

In a way being one of the participants at the workshop validated my passion for connecting elders with young people, it was wonderful to be surrounded by others with amazing ideas.

At the start of day one we were asked to explain what Celebrate Living History is about, I was a tad nervous but I spoke from the heart that’s where the best stuff comes from.

Hard at work at the workshop photo courtesy of Alex Wake
Doing creative stuff photo courtesy of Alex Wake

In a nutshell I’ve been working on Celebrate Living History for three years and I love the opportunity to really connect with a senior and discover the wealth of stories they have to share. I also love working with the students, that’s the stuff that gets me excited. They have the opportunity to create content for their journalism portfolio and really get to branch out of their comfort zone and use their interview skills to get to know a senior’s story.

It was really good that I got to share what I was passionate about but also the students got to chat about what they have gained from the internship program. Melissa has been with Celebrate Living History since 2012 and it was amazing to see what she has gained by not only working with me, but also interacting with the seniors to tell their story. I love that she was passionate about reducing the social isolation of seniors, this reminds me of the time that I was working at nursing home as a personal care attendant, I would feel really depressed that I did not have the time to really sit down and have a proper chat with the residents. It was all about the physical but not what was happening mentally, I would see the residents who were surrounded by family and it would make such a difference, they were happy and most of all loved. But then I would see the residents that never got any visitors it was like a light went off in their head, all they would do was sit and watch TV. I wanted to do something but as a personal care assistant I didn’t have time, it was like a conflict of interest I would get in trouble for spending too long chatting. In my heart I knew I could never pursue a career as a personal care attendant long term, but it was a great learning experience to see the other side of the coin. There was one day, where in the morning I was tending to a 103-year-old and in the afternoon I was hanging with 20- year -old students, it was refreshing to be the person in between. I have the opportunity to connect two very diverse generations and for that I am grateful.

Page from Little Book of Happy
Page from Little Book of Happy

During the second day we worked more on our ideas and we got to know the other grant applicants better, it was really a privilege to be surrounded by so much talent. I enjoyed hanging with Alexandra Wake from RMIT University during the creative exercise she made a mini vision board, which showed where I would like to be in five years. She had Celebrate Living History being a major program supported by Melbourne Museum and James Kirby Managing editor of the Eureka Report being a mentor; I think this is something that I would love to aspire to. In return I made Alexandra a little book of happy which was about disconnecting from technology and spending time doing things that make her happy. I sound a bit hippy but we spend so much time surrounded by technology that we don’t have time to look around and enjoy the environment around us. I think that’s a shame and we should all take time to take a breath and just be ourselves without distraction.

Talking about James Kirby, I ended up being late for the start of the workshop. But Rhiann saved the day, I was impressed that she managed to talk eloquently about Celebrate Living History and I think this shows that even if I was not there that I have people around me that share in the vision and passion that I feel. That’s where I want Celebrate Living History to be, to live on even when I’m gone. I know from interviewing seniors how important it is to leave a legacy and I see Celebrate Living History as my contribution to the world.

All in all it was an amazing opportunity and I am glad that Celebrate Living History got to this stage, we find out if we receive funding to build a more educational and interactive website in June but I think even if we don’t receive the grant, I am richer for this experience.

The Grammar Bible

I love this grammar guide! I still use it every time i’m editing student’s work 🙂

Bev Wilkinson Times

This is my favourite grammar guide which I have enjoyed since my second year of university. I have definitely lost count of the number of times, I have utilised this bible to assist in editing articles, writing and teaching.

I don’t think i will ever stop using this guide as it covers all the basics and the confusing elements of the English language.

I hope you enjoy this guide as much as I have!

Grammar – The Basics

Word Classes


Nouns are words which refer our thoughts to the things about us. Nouns can identify several features:
1. Number – whether there is singular or plural.
2. Possession – who owns what.
3. Simple or Compound – Simple consist of only one word while compound nouns are often made up of more than one word. Simple nouns include words like sugar, cat, photo while compound nouns include words such…

View original post 4,325 more words

Coffee with Cait McMahon

So it is round three of the challenge to have coffee with experts on social networking site Linked In.

This time we met Cait McMahon who is manager of trauma and resilience programs at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Cait McMahon, Melissa Haber and Bev Wilkinson at the ABC canteen
Cait McMahon, Melissa Haber and Bev Wilkinson at the ABC canteen

I decided to invite one of my journalism interns Melissa Haber from Swinburne University to meet Cait and learn how to interview war veterans from an expert.

Words cannot describe how exciting it was to score an insight into the world of journalism at the ABC.

We were so lucky, that Cait decided to give us a tour of the ABC and we got to see a newsroom in action.

It is funny the studio looks so big on television but in person it is a small space, kind of resembling the studios, which the students use at university.

I loved that we got to see where the reporters worked and even the cameramen having morning tea before their next job!

Soon we were headed to the canteen where we ordered our coffees and found a comfy spot to chat.

I started to explain the student internship program, which I created three years ago to document stories of seniors.

Then I chatted about the war veteran’s project, which involves journalism students around Australia documenting stories of veterans from the past, present and future.

Cait stopped me and asked, “How are you funding this project?” I replied I’m the main funder; this is something that I’m really passionate about, because I get to use my university degree and most of all mentor journalism students.

Inside the ABC office Melbourne
Inside the ABC office Melbourne

Then Cait mentioned one of her friends who may be able to help with potential funding or even advice on interviewing military personnel.

Anyways Cait started chatting about the DART Centre for Journalism and Trauma and mentioned some great resources such as the News, Media and Trauma video which showcases a wide range of Australian journalists recounting experiences and lessons learned while covering traumatic stories.

It is such a great video that covers real life experiences of journalists in the field and how they coped with situations such as horrible car accidents. Some of the journalists had no idea how to deal with the trauma and instead of talking about their experiences drowned their fears at the local pub.

We got chatting about creating a comfortable space for the veteran to be interviewed in. Cait told us to make a plan, make sure the interview is set up to ensure the veteran feels in control, it is the simple things that matter such as making them a cup of tea and explaining in detail what the interview will involve. Even asking the veteran where they would like to sit develops a form of trust.

Sometimes the best thing to do is set an interview up for success ask if there are no go zones and any concerns about what will happen during the meeting.

One of the fears from students is what to do if the veteran starts crying or becomes angry during the interview, which is very relevant as some of the memories being brought up may be quite distressing.

Cait’s advice is to simply ask if the veteran would like to stop, some veterans may find it a relief to cry and let it all out.

If it gets too distressing, Cait says to ask if the veteran would like to call someone to help.

Sometimes being angry can open doors, if you ask simple questions such as “I can see that your angry, I’m sorry for your anger, would you like to tell me about that?”

Make sure you keep in your role and acknowledge that we are all human with feelings and emotions.

In regards to what happens after an interview, Cait says to always fact check before you publish. It sounds obvious but if you publish an article with the wrong information, it may cause offence to the veteran you interviewed. Journalist Sharon Mascall-Dare has created a great Anzac Day Media Style Guide as part of her PHD, which covers interviewing veterans in detail, this guide may come in handy if you are concerned about military lingo and history.

Some of the ethical issues may be if the veteran zones out and starts talking about something they may wish not to be published. Even though they have agreed to an interview, they may not realise that this information will be shared on a large level.

Sometimes it is best to send a copy to the veteran so that facts can be checked and if there is something in there that they wish not to share with the public, then they have the ability to say so. Even better is if you can meet up over coffee and discuss the article.

Cait mentioned Story Corps, which is an American project that aims to inspire people to record their story in sounds. Story Corps is such a great initiative and the website has some fantastic questions that can lead to amazing content.

All and all it was amazing to meet Cait and learn of the great work she does at the DART centre, I can’t wait to pass on these important tips to students involved in the Celebrate Living History internship program that’s for sure!

I wanna be a super carnie!!!!

When I graduated from high school I was asked so what do you want to be when you grow up?

I remember being absolutely stumped the world was my oyster but I had no idea what to do with it!

It is hard when your 18 to know what you want to do in life, there is so much choice but you don’t really know what is for you.

I thought being an air hostess looked glamorous but I was too short to place luggage in the overhead lockers, so I decided to pursue a course in tourism.

I learnt how to run events and put my hand up to volunteer at major festivals and loved most of the course. But when it came to Galileo the travel booking system I truly and utterly sucked, despite this I graduated with a diploma of events management but had no idea what to with this hard earnt piece of paper.

I applied for jobs but the only gig I got was working at Footsies Pizza in the kitchen. This gig lasted for two weeks and I was fired for being too slow at food preparation but won major points for chatting to customers!

Luna Park Induction 2001
Luna Park Induction 2001

Lucky for me a stint in theme parks was waiting! I had applied to work at Luna Park as a ride operator; I thought it was pretty cool to have such a fun place to call work. I remember when I got the call that I was successful, this invoked me running up and down the hallway yelling “I got it.”

I was insanely excited and grew to love Luna Park and in particular the people there, at the time I felt like I had been inducted into a very big family!

Somehow the very big dream of being a carnie master hit my head, I wanted to work in all the theme parks of Australia!

Meeting Delta Goodrum at Luna Park
Meeting Delta Goodrum at Luna Park

At that stage I had been at Luna Park for four years and I wanted a change of scenery so I set my sights on Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.

So I applied and got asked to come up for an interview, this was a beginning of a new adventure and my love of this great city.

I was the only person in the room that flew from Melbourne to work as a ride operator, the only chick who was insane enough to think she could work at all the theme parks in Australia!

Reflecting back I remember that interview as if it was yesterday, I was nervous but quietly confident in my heart I knew I would get it.

Once again it was time for a happy dance! I got the job! I packed my bags and stayed at the Islander Backpackers in Surfers Paradise.

One of my new roommates Karen from Wales soon become one of my closest friends, we both braved the freezing cold pool because hey were both from cold climates! The water was warm to us! Well that was what we kept telling ourselves! Karen was in Australia on a stop over to meet her boyfriend who lives in New Zealand. I will never forget the time all us orphan backpackers had pizza for Christmas dinner, it is funny you will always find company if you seek it!

One of my friends at Dreamworld told me about Broadbeach Flatmates which is a service connecting those who want a place to live on the Gold Coast.

I was lucky the second place I visited was perfect and I met Nick who was my new flat mate. It was weird from being in a room with five strangers to having my own room!

My last housemate on the Gold Coast Jesse
My last housemate on the Gold Coast Jesse

But I soon adjusted and grew to love my new suburb Southport that was conveniently located to public transport and most of all had a pool!

Can you tell I was a tad obsessed with swimming? It was such a treat to jump in the pool after a long day of work!

Anyway Dreamworld was so different to working at Luna Park but it was an absolute blast to be working at such a diverse theme park.

My favorite ride to operate was the Wipe Out, mainly because I got to do cool hand signals! For me it felt weird that we could not rotate and experience a range of rides, at Luna Park we could rotate. It makes such a difference to experience something different; a change of scenery always does wonders. The most torturous ride was the Wild Thornberrys, mainly because it was a huge ball pit with lots of kids screaming!

Dreamworld crew
Dreamworld crew

So what turned out to be one season ended in five seasons! I was only up on the Gold Coast for the summer but ended up staying and studying Journalism at Griffith University!

Go figure life is never predictable! I think I have a new saying for the Gold Coast “Go for a season stay for five years!”

Hmmm I don’t think I’ll win many tourism awards with that one! Anyway I spent three and a half years studying what I grew to love! I always knew I love to write and this was the perfect course for me.

At Griffith University
At Griffith University

I fell in love with writing in every way I could from feature writing to news style it was an amazing gift to indulge in something that I was passionate about!

When it came to graduating, I remember being sad in a way I was saying good-bye to what I loved. I knew I loved to write but I also knew it was going to be struggle to get a job in the industry.

Sure enough I was soon attending interviews with friends I had made at university. It was strange it felt like suddenly we were enemies fighting for the same thing.

I never ended getting much paid work in journalism, other than my freelance stuff for Paws and Claws where I interviewed people about their pets.

Fast forward to 2010 that was the moment I flew back to Melbourne where I was once again on the elusive job hunt.

I ended up getting work in mainly tourism and hospitality, it was good but I was not doing what I was passionate about.

While looking through old photos of my family, I thought it would be great to create a slideshow for my uncle’s birthday present.

This sparked the beginning of a business called Golden Days Images, which scans old photos to DVD. Unfortunately I was not successful; I ended up spending more than the money coming in!

Hanging with Griffith University Professor Stephen Stockwell
Hanging with Griffith University Professor Stephen Stockwell

But it was a great learning ground to create Celebrate Living History which is an organisation focused on connecting young people with seniors to document stories.

I’m still in the same situation spending more money than what is coming in, but in my heart I know this is what I was born to do. Sometimes the job picks the person and in this case I believe I was chosen to make Celebrate Living History a success.

I was interviewing people for an exhibition celebrating Frankston locals and I was chatting to Dorothy Dempster who was talking about her experience growing up. In that moment I thought it would be so sad if she never had the opportunity to share this experience with the community. In my heart I wanted to have young people learn from older people and an internship program started formation in my head.

First interview with Dorothy Dempster
First interview with Dorothy Dempster

The next day I booked a flight to the Gold Coast and spoke to my old lecturer Professor Stephen Stockwell. All this without making an appointment, it was pure luck that he was sitting on the floor surrounded by books in his office.

That moment was pure gold, and I am so glad Griffith University provided the first journalism interns because that is where I learnt to write and discovered what I was passionate about.

Fast forward to 2015 since then I have spoken at senior community groups and gained interns from not only Griffith University but Swinburne University.

I have also had the opportunity to work with Frankston High School students to showcase the Celebrate Living History of Frankston exhibition at Cube 37. This is a collection of photographs and stories of seniors I interviewed in 2012.

The Celebrate Living History of Frankston exhibition at Cube 37 in 2015 brought generations together, which made all the hard work worthwhile.
The Celebrate Living History of Frankston exhibition at Cube 37 in 2015 brought generations together, which made all the hard work worthwhile.

So while I may not have achieved super “Carnie Queen” status, all of what I have learnt I believe has put me on this path.

It is just a matter of making my dream job come true.

Some great family photos

One of my favourite seniors Bruce Petrie shared his family photo album with me. I love really old photos, there is something wonderful about how they captured images back then. Its not like today you can take as many photos as you can and delete the images you hate! Back then you had to be careful and make sure everything was perfect, as film was quite expensive to develop. Some great shots from the year 1800….

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Procrastination my friend and foe

I suppose if there is one thing i’m guilty of, it is not focussing when I need to!

Everybody needs good friends, hanging with the folks at the North Gold Coast U3A.
Everybody needs good friends, hanging with the folks at the North Gold Coast U3A.

Now I don’t do this on purpose, it is my curiosity that often leads me into deep procrastination mode.

Just the other day I was investigating statistics for the grant we are applying for and all of a sudden I was looking at an obituary.

I was like Huh? What am I doing and then I thought wow he had an extraordinary life! Then I started dreaming about what life would be if I lived in the 1950s!

Yeah I tend to go way off the track, but then I often find my way back or discover the land of chocolate and green tea! Mmmm chocolate! My friend and enemy how can you taste so good but be so bad?

So back to the subject of digging way to deep! One of my friends had a major giggle when I showed her the book How to say it to Seniors by David Sole M.S P.A, this intellectual has a lot of interesting things to say about how we interact with seniors.

My friend was like “Why are you reading this? Just keep it simple! You interact with seniors all the time.” I replied “True, but its so interesting!”

Now I’m not going to do a book report and in all honesty I’ve read only a small part of the book, but David has some valid points, its funny when we are little all we think of about is moving forward.

All our goals are set in the future and we don’t tend to dwell in the past. All we think about is moving forward such as how to earn the perfect career job or when to create a family.

But when you are a senior this is the time that you pause and reflect on your life, this is the time to look backward and try to assess what life is about.

It is hard to be in senior’s shoes because not everyone can be. I can’t say that I know what an elder is thinking because I’m too young to see.

There was a part in the book where David mentions that he was in a café and a father and son was having breakfast. The father was talking about how he has to apply for the driver’s license again because of his age. He was chatting about what the road rules were like when he was young and some of his fondest memories of driving. The son looked bored and interrupted his father by talking about the current road rules and what his father needs to do to pass.

This resulted in an argument; instead of having a pleasant breakfast together the moment was ruined. What the son did not realise was that his father did not care if he passed or not. It was about being in the moment and enjoying each other’s company not about the future.

What the son should have done is indulged in the memories with his father and asks questions such as “What was it like driving when you were young?” He would have got some great answers and an opportunity to get to know his father better.

I suppose its all about the circle of life, I was chatting to my friend about how everything always comes full circle. We are born and we depend on our parents to live and thrive then we grow old and depend on our children, family or friends to keep going.

I can’t imagine not having any friends or family in my life but for some seniors this is normal. Some of their friends may have passed away or their family might have moved away.

I’m glad there are many senior groups out there because everybody needs friends and someone to talk to. One of the statistics I looked at mentioned that social isolation is equivalent to the health effects of smoking 15 cigarettes a day or consuming more than six alcoholic drinks daily.

Such horrible statistics that inspire me to keep going to make Celebrate Living History a success, I love that I have the opportunity to link young people with seniors. They not only learn from each other but also have the opportunity to spark a friendship.

So on that note, I better get cracking on this grant application, I would love the opportunity to make the Celebrate Living History internship program grow and prosper!

Confession Time with a person in the spotlight

By Bev Wilkinson

Bev with Fred Harrison
Bev with Fred Harrison

Imagine being picked on because you were tall and kind of awkward. Well this is how it all started for CEO of Ritchies Supermarkets Fred Harrison who admits as a child he was a scaredy cat.

Meeting Fred was like being in a confession booth it was fun to delve into the past and discover what makes a great CEO from the ground up.

We chatted about growing up in Frankston and Fred told me, he was never very adventurous and got bullied because he stood out from the crowd.

This did not stop Fred from making new friends at Frankston High School where he developed his confidence and became a little bit more adventurous.

If Fred could give advice to his 13-year- old self he would say to be more confident.

“I think too many people let themselves down by lacking self confidence, I think it is important to be a positive confident person at a young age even if it is a bit of a show,” he says

“But at the same time I got taught a valuable lesson in life that is treat people like you would like to be treated yourself, to me that is the most important attribute.”

Surprisingly Fred started at Ritchies from the age of 13 when he was determined to become a millionaire by selling fruit and vegetables.

This enterprising teenager would gather the fruit and vegetables that grew in his backyard and then sell them to the green grocer at the Ritchies Thompson Street Store.

“I thought I was a millionaire and I supplied Ritchies fruit and veg for three years,” he says

“I got a bit sick of it as a kid growing up, they said why don’t you come down and work as a casual at our Frankston store which I did and in fact I celebrate my 40th anniversary on February six next year.”

For those that wish to follow in Fred’s footsteps he stressed the importance of education.

“I think it is important to complete a university degree, I never I look back and have any regrets in my life but if there is one thing I could finish it would be my degree, I got half way and tried to do the degree at Monash part time,” he says

“Not that its held me back but to get to the starting gate you almost need a degree, so I don’t think it really matters what the degree is I think its more the discipline and the fact that you completed the degree, completed the challenge and was self disciplined,”

“Having the confidence and maturity to complete the degree, I think is the step in the right direction.”

Fred says he is very passionate about communication and most of all gaining respect in business.

“Work hard you simply cannot achieve unless you are a hard dedicated worker and the other is you have to be able to communicate well, “he says

“You must be able to mix and get on well with people that does not mean you have to suck up to them or you have to be their best friend it does mean you gain respect,

“The best way of getting someone’s respect is to be a hard worker and lead by example, the second way is to communicate and go out of your way to initiate leadership,

“To me leadership is about recognising being persistent and winning people over.”

Fred is very passionate about the role that small and independent businesses play in the community.

“We understand as an independent it is hard to be the leader on price,” he says

“Price is not our biggest attribute we had to work on other attributes. Try and discover our strengths we found as an independent our strength is community,

“We came up with the Community Benefit program in 1994, and today we have raised 3.6 million for clubs,

“We are very proud, it is nice to put your money where your mouth is, independents keeps the big guys honest, I will always go out of my way to support an independent rather than a big massive chain who survive through their size and weight. “

If I had to dot point the key pieces of advice that Fred Harrison shared they would be

-Have Fun while you work

-Discipline will get you everywhere

-Call on support of people who are role models or mentors.

All on all meeting Fred Harrison was a sure delight and shows that hard work and discipline is a valuable attribute to work on in business and most of all in life.