So long, & thanks for all the theory!

Eight years and still no degree.

Eight years, hundreds of texts, thousands of words, millilitres of tears, a handful of original ideas, hundreds of friends (made and lost), and so many poems – and still no degree.

Eight years, six good jobs, leadership of first a campus and then the national postgraduate association, where I fought long, hard, and loudly for everyone’s right to an excellent higher education experience, and still no degree.

Eight years, a deep understanding of cosmopolitan theory and the importance of food and foodways in society and politics, and an even deeper praxis from mindful eater to mindful farmer (and mindful meatsmith…)… and still no degree.

My PhD got me where I am today, but I don’t have a PhD, and I probably won’t because I’ve already arrived at my destination, and my work doesn’t require those letters at the end of my name.

I have loved my PhD for eight years, and today I’m letting it go.

When I switched disciplines from literature to cultural studies a decade ago it was a response to the latter’s explicitly articulated project to build public intellectuals – to be socially useful. 10 years immersed in cultural studies have aided me enormously in my desire to be socially useful.

While I have a very small regret not to pursue my agrarian intellectual life with a bonus three letters after my name, currently I’m shackled by them as I try to get on with doing my bit to transform Australia’s food systems.

I need hours each day to farm, butcher, deliver, and engage with eaters and fair food pioneers everywhere.  I need to do more of exactly what I am doing, not cloister myself to write something three people will read.  It’s a worthy project, but it’s no longer the right one for me.

Thank you to my long-suffering supervisor John Frow, those I’ve interviewed, and the many many colleagues and friends who have discussed, debated and nibbled at the edges of what our engagements with food really mean to any of us.  I wouldn’t be here today without your support, knowledge, critique and interest in this project.

I finally worked out how to savour the world while saving it, and it’s not in chapter three of my thesis, it’s here on the land, knife in one hand, pen in the other.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Kids on tramp

Using my privilege to interrogate yours

This is not a piece about Ben Pobjie. Nor is it about Justin Shaw, nor Gail Dines nor porn culture. This is a piece about what happens when feminists challenge those who would describe a feminist academic’s work as ‘hysterical screeching’. It is also a recap of a discussion on Twitter two nights ago where this actually happened.

Two nights ago on Twitter, Mike Brull (@mikeb476) challenged Justin Shaw (@juzzytribune) for referring to academic and anti-porn activist Gail Dines’ ‘hysterical screeching’ in an article Shaw wrote for the Kings Tribune. As I watched, the two squared off into what appeared to be pretty aggressive corners. I agreed with Brull’s critique, but admittedly, not with his debating technique, which I thought was a bit inflammatory, and so potentially unproductive.

This is not the beginning, but it’s a good place to start this very long post. These are between Brull and Shaw, with a very helpful interjection from @theriverfed:

@mikeb476: @juzzytribune Calling a woman “hysterical” b/c she’s too angry for you is like calling a woman “slut” b/c you think she’s too promiscuous

Continue reading Using my privilege to interrogate yours

On Dissent and Intellectual Honesty

You say a thing. I disagree with the thing you said and I tell you so. You say:

  1. Everybody is entitled to their opinion.
  2. Why are you so difficult?
  3. nothing, and look surly or distraught.

The first example is a ‘non-answer’, designed to stifle discussion and debate. I may have information you don’t have about the topic. Telling me ‘it’s just my opinion’ rather than engaging with the opinion or assertion of ‘fact’ achieves nothing except to silence me. Your original statement remains unchallenged and unchallengeable, because anything anyone might say is ‘just opinion’. This isn’t true. Not everything is opinion.

Academics are trained to research a topic until they know it inside and out. That doesn’t mean there can’t be new data at any time, that may shift the scholar’s position once uncovered. It does, however, mean the scholar is considered ‘an expert’ who has authority to speak on the topic. This authority has come with years of work and constantly challenging assertions and so-called common sense beliefs. It has not come from reading an article in the newspaper and then citing that article for the next year as authoritative.

Newspapers are not authoritative. Research is, as carried out by academics and other knowledge workers across many sectors who read widely, ask questions, observe, and engage in constant discussion and debate on a topic.

What you read in The Australian about climate change is not authoritative. What you read from the Union of Concerned Scientists is.

The second response (that I am being difficult) is also a non-answer, but a more aggressive one in which I am positioned as an unreasonable person who won’t let a person speak freely. This answer, while serving the same purpose as the first (to silence me), is, I would argue, pernicious. It allows statements that commit symbolic violence to go forth and prosper.

You’re not racist/sexist/nationalist – I’m just difficult.

Continue reading On Dissent and Intellectual Honesty

Boycott Coles & Woolworths and Drink *Real* Milk

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR LOCAL DAIRY INDUSTRY AND SAY NO TO PREDATORY PRICING BY BOYCOTTING ALL DISCOUNTED MILK

IN FACT, YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BOYCOTT COLES AND WOOLWORTHS ENTIRELY, AS I HAVE FOR OVER TWO YEARS.

See Flavour Crusader’s developing list of dairies selling milk you might like to try instead. 🙂

On Quality: You get what you pay for

This article was originally published in Advocate: Journal of the National Tertiary Education Union, where I now have a regular column, “Knowledge *is* the Economy, Stupid”.

Everybody’s talking about quality. We’ve had the review of the Australian Qualifications Framework, the establishment of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and now the Government’s Higher Education Base Funding Review, which intends to benchmark course quality and student engagement. This latest review posits quality against cost in its very first dot point. If ‘you get what you pay for’, it would seem Australia has a problem given our lack of investment in higher education over the past 20 years.

The Base Funding Review echoes the higher education reforms in the 2009 Budget, which “stated the purpose as enabling Australia to participate fully in, and benefit from, the global knowledge economy.” All of this may well be laudable so long as we have a shared understanding of what is meant by ‘knowledge economy’. In a knowledge economy, human capital is highly valued, as people are the keepers of knowledge, and we are the connectors in an economy that is globalised and fluid. A knowledge economy should create critical, engaged, cosmopolitan citizens. It should value fairness and civility. If it is truly a knowledge economy, it must surely promote greater levels of participation in higher education as knowledge begets knowledge.

So how is Australia faring in its performance as a would be knowledge economy? Will our recent focus on quality improve our performance? Not so long as we continue to undervalue the human capital driving the economy, which we have systematically done for decades. While the current Government promises reform and has demonstrated some commitment by increasing higher education funding in the 2009 Budget (but not the 2010 Budget), it has a long way to go to recover from chronic underfunding by previous governments. Between 1995 and 2004, Australia was the only country in the OECD to have reduced public expenditure on higher education in real terms, leading to a situation where less than half of the sector’s funding is now public money. Private contributions are amongst the world’s highest, and we are now much closer to the USA than the UK in our reliance on student contributions (though the recent Browne Report there has signalled their intention to increase student contributions as well). While there are reasonable arguments for requiring some level of student contributions in a rapidly expanding higher education system – the most compelling being that one should contribute to a degree that virtually assures one a private benefit in the form of higher salary – there are equally compelling arguments to cap student fees and maintain public investment to ensure the broadest possible participation in a burgeoning knowledge economy.

On campuses, we all know what the consequences of decreased funding and increased reliance on student fees has meant. Australia’s staff to student ratios are now amongst the world’s highest, we perform poorly in international comparisons of student satisfaction surveys, more universities are offering voluntary redundancies than pay rises, and the sector has the second most casualised workforce in Australia. Remuneration, conditions and career pathways are woeful for casuals, many of whom are postgrads, the present and future leaders of Australia’s knowledge economy. Meanwhile, they live on stipends that sit at or below the poverty line, working far more hours than they’re paid to, as institutions consistently knock back requests for greater job security, recognition and participation in a collegial environment. Universities tell us they can’t afford to pay casuals more because of lack of government funding, as government tells us universities are not getting their priorities straight by investing in human capital.

Whose fault is this? Ultimately, we’re all to blame. Each time a casual academic accepts another exploitative contract, offered by a permanent staff member suffering workload issues that are exacerbated by a head of school who is ensuring the faculty dean will be happy with her bottom line, we get it wrong. And when the Australian public votes for a government that doesn’t invest seriously in the nation’s education and accepts that 25% of our educational dollar will fund private education, we get it wrong. And when peak bodies for the elite argue for a blurring of our qualifications that would allow doctorates to be situated on two of the 10 AQF levels, thereby damaging the integrity of the globally recognised PhD, they get it wrong. And when the Government continues to fund education in short, uncertain grant cycles and expects Australia to be a leader in research and innovation, they get it wrong. And when the Government makes grand plans to improve access to higher education for all, but fails to appropriately fund the increased numbers of students in real dollars that provide real lecturers and tutors and real desks in classrooms that are not overcrowded, they get it wrong.

The only way to fix our current broken system is to take all this talk of quality and cost and invest in people, for we are the knowledge economy.

Too slow, says CAPA

Below is a piece run in the Campus Review yesterday, reprinted here with their permission.

02 Aug 10 by John Ross 

There’s more danger than hope in this month’s election, according to the peak postgraduate body.

There are two big dangers on August 21, according to the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA).

One is that Labor could win the election, and continue to implement its reforms at a snail’s pace.

The other is that the Coalition could win and slow the reform process even further – maybe stop it completely.

CAPA’s assessment follows its review of the outcomes of 20 higher education and research-related inquiries conducted since early 2008.

These reviews yielded over 300 findings relevant to postgraduate students, CAPA found, with the government so far responding to less than a third of them.

National president Tammi Jonas stressed that CAPA didn’t back any particular party. But she said the best-case scenario for CAPA was a returned ALP government with the Greens holding balance of power “to help push for faster reform”.

“If they hold the balance we will see the student services and amenities fee finally go through, for example. That would be extremely welcome to students across the country.”

Jonas said a Labor government with Greens influence would also be more likely to commit funding to research workforce strategy recommendations, and to extend the duration of Australian Postgraduate Awards (APAs) to four years.

“It seems that the two major parties are unwilling to fund things,” Jonas said.

“We’re hopeful to see enough change in government to get the funding behind the will.”

Jonas said CAPA’s worst-case scenario would be a Liberal win with the Coalition holding the balance of power.

“Then not only wouldn’t we see the student services and amenities fee go through. We’d see a complete dismissal of the importance of higher education in Australia as we saw under Howard – an anti-intellectual climate that doesn’t value a knowledge economy.”

She said the “middle ground” scenario would be “a government that looks very similar to what we have now”.

Such a government would “continue at a pretty slow pace, but at least with some goodwill to start to improve what has been in decline for 15 years”.

CAPA said postgraduates had won some major reforms to scholarships and income support in 2008 and 2009, with the number of APAs doubling between 2008 and 2012 while they attracted better indexation and a 10 per cent increase in payment rates.

All masters by coursework students will also gain access to income support by 2012.

But CAPA said unfinished business for postgraduates included further reforms to scholarships and income support, implementation of a national research workforce strategy, new quality arrangements, evolution of the “third phase” of international education and research, and better student services and advocacy.

Go to

capa.edu.au/federal-election-2010

A Civil Campaign

Yesterday’s announcement of the sacking of Catherine Deveny from The Age came as no surprise to many of us who have loathed her particular brand of lowbrow vitriol that covers a wide spectrum – from class hatred and ‘hipster racism’ to attempts at humour around the sexual activities of an 11 year old girl. And yet the Twitters are alight with dissent over whether she should have been sacked for her tweeting at the Logies.

Others have already blogged on the issues around whether she should have been sacked for her tweets and questioned why more socially destructive and offensive columnists like Andrew Bolt haven’t been fired yet. The most compelling piece I’ve seen came from Jason Wilson over on New Matilda, who asks why she was hired in the first place. And surely those of us who dislike Deveny’s work would agree that she’s hardly the worst offender. The other trollumnists should be reined in as well, in the interest of a more civil society.

And so I have an idea.

In my meeting yesterday with Graeme Innes, Race Discrimination Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner for the Australian Human Rights Commission, we talked through the complaints process available to all Australians if they think something published is discriminatory on the basis of race, sex, age or disability.

For example, if you read one of Bolt’s columns (and I don’t recommend it, though to get this campaign going many of us might need to) and find it offensive, you can lodge a complaint with the AHRC. Even if you believe an ‘anonymous’ comment is racist, sexist, etc, you can make a complaint and the publisher is responsible for defending or denying.

You can then tweet what you find offensive and suggest others might complain if they too find the material offensive. So rather than all of us simply tweeting our outrage, we can take action.

The AHRC (or you could use your state Commission, such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission) is required to investigate every complaint. Clearly, the system will look after itself – spurious complaints should not end up sacking somebody who is undeserving.

The important thing is that the AHRC and state commissions cannot act on racist comments in a column or the comments without an official complaint.

So it’s time to speak up!

Logically, if trollumnists start attracting as many complaints as they do rabid comments of agreement, they becomes liabilities for their employers, as Deveny did for hers it seems.

The trolls have had their day. It’s time we take away their oxygen.

A Loser on Twitter #alot

So one day I noticed that @rod3000, @thewetmale and @nomesmessenger were playing with a new hashtag #alot. It appeared to be an amusing way to emphasise just about anything, for example ‘I’m hungry #alot’ or ‘This government needs an enema #alot’. For the many spelling pedants out there, of which I’m one, it’s somewhat alarming, but many of us took up the challenge nonetheless. Watching some of the twitterati like @s_bridges come slowly on board made the game all the more fun.

Eventually, I learned that #alot means Australian Liberals On Twitter. Oh, right, so we weren’t just playing with good spellers… culture jamming a wingnut feed made the hashtag that much more amusing. If you look at the #alot page, you’ll quickly see it’s full of the sort of people who believe universal health care is a threat to freedom.

And so we continued with our game (many still do). A few weeks ago, a Twitter user who goes by the self-aggrandising (& politically repugnant) handle @MiltonFriedmans (yes, I’m aware the ‘s’ is superfluous, though I gather he isn’t), started retweeting me (& @rod3000 & presumably others) & re-hashing it to #KevinPM (I don’t even want to know what that page is). First though, he asked me whether there was a reason why we were spamming up their feed. I replied ‘yep’. He said he didn’t really mind, but could I please change my ‘disgusting’ avatar (it’s my legs in stripey socks, btw). I said, ‘lol, nope’. I figured that would be the end of our interactions.

How wrong I was. I can perfectly well understand a person objecting to others spamming a feed that is intended to be on topic (though there’s surely a thesis in what that means on the twitters), and to express this objection by doing his own spamming. Unfortunately, however, this belligerent individual chose to spam me directly through @s. There were a few over the last couple weeks which I mostly ignored, but last night he really went on the attack. It appears he has now had the belated wisdom to delete his stream of harassment, but I can see the @s on Tweetie on my iPhone. He @’d me 16 times in under 2 hours last night. What pearls of wisdom and high intellectual debate were these?

There were the personal attacks:

MiltonFriedmans: I’m assuming that between HECS debts, FEE-HELP and AUSTUDY, @Tammois shows leadership in the field of taking taxpayer money. #alot

MiltonFriedmans: @tammois would fit in well with Stalin & Kim Jong-Il! Http://bit.ly/alUkal #alot

MiltonFriedmans: @tammois Only a lefty would assume challanging [sic] one’s logic 2B being “cyber bullied”. Most people explain their logic, not ask for help #alot

And then there was the false attribution RT:

MiltonFriedmans: RT@Tammois How can a 19yr old in their 1st degree, often living at home & having never had a career possibly//vote in a Fed election? #alot

If he’d had any wit, perhaps I would have bitten, though I suspect not. I don’t find that engaging with wingnuts in 140 characters is productive, nor generally remotely interesting. So instead I blocked him, as his badgering was tedious and badly spelt. This morning I glanced at his page to see whether he had laid off, only to discover he was carrying on still, mostly linking to my blog and ranting about VSU, as you can see.

I actually find this quite annoying still, though I’m choosing to ignore him and his 93 followers (none of whom have joined his attacks, happily, and one who asked him not to RT him in order to support his attacks on us).

I will respond briefly to what I think were actually some marginally interesting taunts about undergrads representing postgrads. First, it’s important to ignore the elision of voting with representing – not everybody is always eligible to run for office in pretty much any form of democracy of which I’m aware (eg age requirements, citizenship…). The rules applying to voters are typically different and more open, as they should be.

On the question of representation though, I’ve already spelled out my thoughts on the importance of separate and independent representation for undergrads, postgrads and internationals. Su made a great point in the comments about mature age undergrads, even though they are the minority, but I would still argue that it isn’t only about age (though that is a significant part of the issue of undergrads representing postgrads), it’s also about experience with the academic structures of postgraduate degrees, as well as the associated welfare issues specific to doing these degrees (income support, facilities and resources, etc).

So I happily stand by my claim that undergrads should not be representing postgrads. I also stand by my assertion that @MiltonFriedmans was bullying me with his incessant @ing and personal attacks. Culture jamming, in my opinion, which may include tactics such as spamming a hashtag, is not about individual, personal attacks. I guess us lefties can leave that nastiness to the ‘Classical Liberals’ over on the #alot page, which I’ve decided not to spam anymore, btw, in order to avoid provoking more bullying.

The importance of independent representation

I had my first ever article published on the ABC The Drum site, which they titled A Foreign Despair. It’s predominantly a look at the welfare issues facing international students, and points to policy gaps and lack of action, as well as inadequacies in our national infrastructure. I finish by highlighting the importance of an independent, national voice for international students in Australia, something that’s been missing since Master Sheng and his crew took over the old NLC in a truly unscrupulous way (and some might argue there’s a legal case in it). CAPA has been very active in supporting international students, and has had international student officers for decades on our Council, but we believe this student population needs its own independent national body once again, with whom we will work closely to cover postgrad issues for internationals.

This brings me to the importance more broadly of democratic representation, especially where there is taxation (yes, that old phrase). Of course I’m referring to the devastating effects of so-called Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU), whereby universities have had to fund student associations, leading to the closure of many of them across the country where uni administrations have failed to be supportive. Too many that are surviving are doing so by amalgamating the postgrad and undergrad bodies, and sometimes also the overseas student associations (OSAs), leading to the bizarre situation where undergrads are the presidents and typically hold the majority of the elected positions with postgrads usually only having one dedicated spot on these councils.

So I made a claim at the Universities Australia conference last week that if there must be amalgamations, there should be a constitutional requirement that the presidents be postgrads. One can imagine the response from undergrads, but even a postgrad campus president asserted that this would be undemocratic and elitist. I argue that it is simply ensuring that representation is done by those best placed to represent their constituents – that is, postgrads by definition all have undergraduate qualifications and so are well able to represent that cohort, but undergrads are clearly not in a position to represent their postgraduate colleagues. How can a 19 or 20 year old in the middle of their first degree, often still living at home and having never had a career possibly represent the average 34-year-old postgrad? How could they represent someone like me – a 39 year old mother of three doing my fourth degree (1 undergrad, 2 postgrad coursework, & now the PhD), having had a couple of careers, including management experience?

Now imagine a postgrad officer on the amalgamated bodies, which in all the examples we’ve seen in Australia consist almost exclusively of undergraduate members. These undergrads make their factional deals about electing office bearers, as they are party political. The postgrads by and large are issues-focused people who got involved in representation because they’ve seen, heard and experienced firsthand the many things that can go wrong in the academy. They’re put off by the intense party political environment of the council, and can’t get much support or resources specific to postgrads, as the undergrads don’t see the need for such things (eg dedicated postgrad facilities and advocates, postgrad-specific publications, or indeed, in the case of a number of these amalgamated bodies, paying CAPA’s annual fees to ensure national representation for postgrads, though they continue to pay their NUS fees).

Why do postgrads allow ourselves to play subaltern to undergraduate hegemony? I know some out there will attest to the hegemons’ relations with the government… and Imma let you finish. I don’t know of any student association that would allow men to serve as women’s officers, nor local students as international officers. It’s time we insisted that undergrads stop serving as peak representatives on bodies responsible for postgrads. And although postgrads could represent the undergrads, quite honestly, most of us don’t want to. We believe that those currently undertaking undergrad degrees are best placed to represent themselves, and we ask for the same recognition in return.

In these times of severe resource scarcity due to the disastrous VSU legislation and the Opposition’s continued stonewalling on the Student Services and Amenities Bill, we’re going to have to speak up for our right to independent representation, advocacy and support. Postgraduate students, both coursework and research, are already important, active members of Australian society, and they’ve returned to study to increase their value in the knowledge economy. They make the difficult choice to live with financial stress and insecurity through additional study in hopes of a return on that investment later, and for some, simply because engagement with learning and critical thinking is a lifelong passion. As a society, we need to collectively value the contributions made by students during and after their period of study, and one of the many ways we can do this is by insisting on independent representation.

Who’s going to help me get this #RIOT going?

Food and the art of representation

This article appeared this week in Campus Review – an interview with me about the year ahead as CAPA President. 🙂


Julie Hare

February 15, 2010

Campus Review

I am what I eat. You are what I feed you,” Tammi Jonas’s bio on Twitter asserts. When the new president of the Council of Postgraduate Associations is not cooking – or thinking about, talking about and communicating about food – she’s completing a PhD (with a food focus – of course) and representing the country’s 270,000 postgraduate students.

Jonas’s blog, called ‘Tammi Tasting Terroir’ and subtitled ‘The infrequent and imperfect yet impassioned musings of a PhD candidate, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and would-be cultural commentator with a penchant for food and community …’ sums it up.

The blog is a random mix of recipes for sourdough and passionate monologues on the state of higher education.

Food frames most aspects of Jonas’s life – even the political. Two years ago she held a soup kitchen for University of Melbourne tutors under vice-chancellor Glyn Davis’s office window to draw attention to poor conditions and unpaid work that their lot in life.

“We got everyone to come down with their fingerless gloves and I made a giant pot of potato and leek soup. I literally fed the tutors,” laughs Jonas.

More recently, she drew national attention to the issue of casual teaching when she resigned from the University of Melbourne council – and then wrote about it in an article for New Matilda.

Now her penchant for the big political statement is due to find its fulfilment in her role as president of CAPA – and she hope’s individual branches will follow suit.

While she likes the publicity, Jonas says her resignation from Melbourne University council was more than just a stunt.

“I certainly wanted the publicity to keep shining light on the issue [of exploitation of casual staff], otherwise no one will realise we need their sympathy,” she says.

“It wasn’t so much a stunt as a principled and ethical resignation, because I was no longer willing to be part of a body that wasn’t in my view behaving ethically by leading the way and ensuring all members of the academic community are being treated fairly.”

The issue, which Jonas says she had been campaigning on for years (and is itemised on her blog), revolved around postgraduate students being asked to present unpaid “guest lectures”, lack of adequate office and desk space, and unpaid work in other areas such as marking.

However, she would like it known that Melbourne is not the worst culprit – and can point the finger at any number of the other universities which she considers even more exploitative.

As Jonas takes up the top gig with CAPA, 2010 might be the year that some of the more pressing issues to do with postgraduate workforce issues get resolved. The government’s research workforce strategy reference group is due to report in the first half of the year.

“We’ve had the Bradley and Cutler reviews, but there are still many issues around lack of sustainability [of the research workforce] if things don’t change,” says Jonas.

“We have too many people leaving the sector because it’s not attractive enough. We are particularly interested in seeing conditions improve for research students both as casual labour and also in terms of their own basic minimum resources – computers, desks and so on – when they are doing their study. And then, of course, there are follow on effects of that on coursework postgraduates such as having better funded teaching programs so everyone is getting better quality courses.”

Jonas says other key items on her agenda for the year include the welfare of international postgraduate students and the quality of coursework programs on offer.

Originally from the US, Jonas moved to Australia 18 years ago after meeting her husband Stuart while backpacking around London.

“Being a migrant explains my interest in national identity,” she says. “My passion for issues around international students I’m sure [is partly inspired] from being a migrant myself – although I’ve never been identified as one because I’m white and sound a lot like the people here.

“I often assert my migrant status to highlight for people the diversity of what migrants are.”

Jonas recently chaired a working group to set up a new national representative body for international students and is hopeful it will be launched later this year.

The CAPA and National Union of Students initiative came about in the aftermath of the hijacking of the former representative body, the NLC, by a group led by a Chinese businessman Master Shang (CR, 27.04.10 and 11.05.10).

“It’s such an important job – they have no independent national voice right now and we would like to see international students representing international students again.”

Jonas said the third big ticket item for CAPA is student services and student organisation. CAPA’s finances have been savaged since VSU legislation introduced by the Howard government. With the Student Services and Amenities Bill currently being held up in the Senate, there is uncertainty as to whether the government will get the support necessary to get it passed.

“CAPA is really struggling to survive. If you look at some of our achievements last year such as making sure that postgraduates got the stimulus funding, the rise in APAs and getting income support for masters students, these are really big achievements. If we didn’t exist, none of these things are likely to have happened.

“I find it extraordinary that people [politicians] who are in the business of representation themselves don’t understand the importance of the representation we provide.”

While Jonas has a big year ahead, she said there is no way her PhD (on multicultural foodways and cosmopolitanism in Melbourne) will get put on ice. With an invitation to submit an article to the Australian Humanities Review and another to present a paper at the international food ethnography conference in Finland in August, Jonas says she will plough on.

In the meantime, there is also CAPA, the family and food, beautiful food.

Find Jonas’s blog at http://tammijonas.blogspot.com