OpinionHow to inspire a culture of improvement in writing

29/06/2019 // by admin

Too often, the term“CEO” stands for “chief editing officer”. Unfortunately, it comes with the C-suite territory. C not only means chief, but communication.
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Despite all the effort that goes into hiring and training, many of the best and brightest moving into well-paid positions lack an understanding of punctuation and grammar, and are poor spellers. It means the boss is often left to correct correspondence, particularly reports.

Yet poorly written correspondence is still being posted online or going out on behalf of the company. Often the bosses have no real expertise in English either, but they at least have an idea of what is expected.Good writing is good editing. Few people outside of sub-editors, songwriters, poets and people compiling shopping lists take the time to jot, or seriously reassess their written words. It always pays to have a pen and paper handy.

Senior executives require the five Cs: clarity, concision, completeness, courtesy and courage.

Clarity encompasses defining your reasons for writing, understanding your audience, and knowing your desired outcome. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and keep re-reading your document aloud to ensure it flows.

Concision relates to sentence construction and length. Less is always more. One idea, one sentence is a useful guide, and keep sentences to a maximum of 30-35 words. Paragraphs are best at three sentences.

Completeness means you have incorporated all the necessary information into the document. If you require a specific outcome, or action from the recipient, that should be clear.

Courtesy relates to tone, and shouldn’t be confused with writing in a gushing style. For some recipients a direct style is preferred. Assess your audience, adopt the correct tone and in so doing, pay them a courtesy.

Finally, have the courage to write directly and honestly, and to be ruthless when you self-edit.

It’s easy to add other words to the C-suite. Coaching and culture come to mind. Encourage everyone to adopt the five-C strategy, and inspire a culture of improvement in writing.

The aim is having confidence in everyone in the organisation to undertake any written task. Confidence, too, that they will seek advice and continually self-edit.

The end result should be clear and concise writing.

Darrell Croker is senior coach at Write For Impact.

Dutch cyclist living the dream when killed

29/06/2019 // by admin

Dutch national Gitta Scheenhouwer was living the “Melbourne dream” when she was killed cycling.A Dutch cyclist killed in a hit run has been remembered as a “sweet, spontaneous, cheerful” young woman who had just landed her dream job in her adopted hometown of Melbourne.
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Gitta Scheenhouwer, 27, was fatally run over by a stolen car while cycling in a Chapel Street bike lane at South Yarra on August 12.

In a statement released on Monday, her family spoke of their overwhelming grief.

“We can hardly put into words the deep pain and feelings of overwhelming sadness and sorrow at the loss of Gitta Scheenhouwer who was taken from all of us,” they said.

“She will always be in our hearts as the sweet, spontaneous, cheerful girl who was always busy with all of the things she wanted to do whilst smiling from ear to ear.”

Ms Scheenhouwer and her boyfriend Thomas had left the Netherlands to follow their longtime wish of living Down Under for a couple of years.

After studying and working hard, they arrived in May, visiting Sydney and Brisbane before settling in Melbourne.

Ms Scheenhouwer loved exploring on her new pushbike and was living the “Melbourne dream” with her boyfriend when she was killed.

“They were joyfully moving forward in life while relishing the journey, and were both using every minute to the max,” her family said.

“At first they explored the city as tourists, but after a while Melbourne was becoming their own and it started feeling like a home town.”

She found work a graduate architect within two months of arriving, which for her “was the best feeling in the world”.

“From then, it was time to focus and start working in the industry she loved,” her family said.

“What most others thought to be impossible and only dare to dream of, Gitta had succeeded.”

A memorial bike ride will be held to honour her life on August 28, stopping on the corner of Chapel Street and Grosvenor Street in South Yarra at 7.30am.

Police say the fatal crash occurred after a white Mercedes swerved into a bike lane.

Michael Panayides, 26, of no fixed address, is charged with culpable driving and failing to stop or render assistance. He will face court on December 4.

Australian Associated Press

Hectic start to Queensland’s fire season

29/06/2019 // by admin

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll says about 800 bushfires have ignited across Qld since Wednesday.Queensland’s fire season is off to a hectic start with fire fighters forced to contend with 800 bushfires in less than a week.
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On Monday, authorities downgraded advice for residents living near a large blaze north of Townsville.

Residents of Crystal Creek and nearby Mutarnee had been told to prepare to flee amid fears homes could be affected. But the threat has eased and authorities say there’s now no risk to property.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Katarina Carroll said about 800 bushfires have been reported across the state since since Wednesday.

They include more than 290 reported in the 24 hours to 8am on Monday.

“We are expecting bushfire activity to remain high over the coming days and it is imperative the public remain up-to-date and follow all instructions,” she warned in a statement.

A very high fire danger rating remains in place for much of Queensland with strong westerly winds expected to continue for much of the week.

QFES Superintendent Gary McCormack said some property had been lost in scores of fires that burned over the weekend, but so far no homes appear to have been destroyed.

“We did lose some structures, mainly sheds. We have lost a few caravans and some vehicles as well,” he told ABC television on Monday.

“We need to get in and assess the degree of damage.”

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the state’s fire season, which is only 20 days old, was off to a very challenging start.

He warned that would continue in the weeks and months ahead, with fuel loads high and soil moisture low amid drought conditions across much of Queensland.

Meanwhile police have charged a man with arson over nine blazes lit in the Kingaroy area over the past two weeks.

It’s alleged the 26-year-old lit the fires on vacant land and while nothing was damaged the flames came close to surrounding property and fences. He’s due in court next month.

Australian Associated Press

Newcastle-based health insurer nib’s profits increase to $133.5 million, full year 2018 results show

29/06/2019 // by admin

NIB managing director Mark Fitzgibbon at the Newcastle office. Picture: Marina Neil
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NIB has announced a net profit of $133.5 million forthe 2018 financial year –an11.1 per cent increase from the previous year.

On Monday, the Newcastle-based health insurer released its full year results for 2018, which revealed a total group revenue of $2.2 billion, up 11.5 per cent from 2017.

Throughout the year there was$1.5 billion in Australian residents health insurance (arhi) claims, which fundedmore than 280,000 hospital admissions, and 3.7 million dental and ancillary visits.

The insurer had a groupoperating profit of $184.8 million, up20.2 per cent from the previous year, and a statutory operating profitof $169million, up by12.2 per cent.

Managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said private health insurance, domestically, was a tough market.

“But we grew at 3 per cent, which is six times the industry average,” he said.

“Little old nib – because we have less than 9 per cent of the market –accounted for almost half of the entire industry growth last year.”

The growth of the company’s “adjacent businesses”had contributed to their earnings.

Related reading: NIB waives insurance premiums for drought-affected farmers

“We insure about 160,000 international workers and students visitingAustralia, we have abusiness in New Zealand, and we have a global travel insurance business today, with offices around the world,” he said.

“And those businesses are growing impressively.

“It’s part of our mantra in the business that profits are only the consequence of doing what you’re meant to do very well.

“In our case, it’s helping people access world class health care, and we are doing that. We paid for 280,000 hospital admissions last year.”

Mr Fitzgibbons said the 2018 premium increase of 3.94 per cent was the lowest it had been in14 years.

Related reading: NIB revenue hits $1.1 billion in soft market

“We are a company valued at $3 billion. About80 per cent of our shareholders are mum and dad investors, and a lot of those are Newcastle and Hunter people,” he said.

“We need to make a profit as a business.

“One of the benefits of our success is that premiums don’t have to go up as much as they have in previous years.

“Last year was the lowest the premium hasbeen in 14 years, and I reckon next year will be lower again.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said they would also be selling health insurance in China by the end of this financial year.

“We are very focused on affordability and reducing costs, and hopefully, reducing the pressure on future premium increases,” he said.

Joy as Korean families meet after 65 years

29/06/2019 // by admin

About 90 families from North and South Korea have wept and embraced as the neighbours held their first reunion events in three years for relatives wrenched apart by the Korean War.
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The brief reunions are set to total just 11 hours over the next three days in the North’s tourist resort of Mount Kumgang after the neighbours renewed exchanges this year following a stand-off over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to the reunion events at a summit in April.

About 330 South Koreans from 89 families, many in wheelchairs, embraced 185 separated relatives from the North with tears, joy and disbelief. Some struggled to recognise family not glimpsed in more than 60 years.

“How are you so old?” Kim Dal-in, 92, asked his sister, Yu Dok, after gazing at her briefly in silence.

“I’ve lived this long to meet you,” replied the 85-year-old, wiping away tears as she clasped a photograph of her brother in his youth.

Siblings Kim Gyong Sil, 72 and Gyong Yong, 71, wearing the traditional hanbok dress, coloured pale violet, stood nervously staring at the entrance, awaiting their 99-year-old mother Han Shin-ja. They could not speak for minutes, wailed loudly and rubbed their cheeks and hands.

“When I fled home in the war…,” Han said, faltering as she choked with emotion and left her sentence incomplete.

The separated families are victims of a decades-long political gridlock since the 1950-53 war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty, with ties increasingly strained as Pyongyang rapidly stepped up its weapons programs.

More than 57,000 South Korean survivors have registered for the family reunions, which usually end in painful farewells.

The reunions should be scaled up sharply, held regularly, and include exchanges of visits and letters, said Moon, himself a member of a separated family from the North’s eastern port city of Hungnam.

“It is a shame for both governments that many of the families have passed away without knowing whether their lost relatives were alive,” he told presidential secretaries at a meeting.

From Thursday, 88 more groups of relatives will meet, comprised of 469 individuals from the South and 128 from the North, Seoul’s Unification Ministry says.

The reunions, which began in 1985, can be a traumatic experience, say survivors, who know they are unlikely to see their relatives again, since many are 80 or older and first-timers typically get priority for visits.

Australian Associated Press