Why fitness and wellbeing are a necessity in today’s job market…

 A single drop of water dangles on the tip of a precipice, just waiting to be free. Like it’s predecessor a few seconds before, it makes a rippling sound as it impacts the floor below.

“Drip… Drip… Drip…” the drops start to go, as the precarious flow of liquid gradually picks up speed. However it’s no tap that this salty torrent of water is now coming from.

Instead…. It’s coming from me….

For the past twelve weeks, I’ve been doing something that I never would have thought myself doing again, upon coming out and transitioning a few years ago. Sports-bra, pony-tail, pink shorts and all, I’m presently sweating it out at the gym, oblivious to all of the movement, stretches, laughs and groans that are occurring around me.

Furthermore, as the smile on my face and my cheeky banter with my personal trainer Loren plainly shows, I’m enjoying each and every second of it and ultimately itching for more.

As my lower legs start pounding from the pressure of doing thirty second sprints on an air resistance bike, my mind starts reflecting upon how like a lot of other women and trans-women especially, the mere thought of engaging in exercise publicly was more than enough to turn me off the idea of even entering a gym, let alone one of the largest ones within Sydney. Breathing deeply, though in rhythm with the bicycle beneath me, such thoughts quickly melt away as the endorphins from giving my muscles a wake-up call bring a natural high into being throughout the entirety of my body. Like a hawk swooping gracefully into its nest, that sense of wellbeing ultimately makes me realise just how at home I’m starting to feel within my own body, which in and of itself is an experience that I know that I’ve never truly felt before now. Read more

I am more than my body…

By Kate Doak
By Kate Doak

On Monday the 25th of May, a chill went through my veins in a way that is indescribable with words, as my arms started to convulse in the throes of an overwhelming anxiety attack that left me feeling sick to both my personal and professional cores.

There in black and white on the screen in front of me, was a paragraph that challenged not only my gender identity and sexuality, but my ability to remain professional and impartial in a way that no journalist, let alone person, should ever be expected to face. Like a rabbit caught within the eyes of a snake, it left me feeling terrified in a way that I had not felt in years, as the memories of some of the worst times in my life came flooding back. Read more

Is Sydney awash with a Transgender friendly culture?

By Kate Doak
By Kate Doak

A few days ago, The Guardian’s Fred McConnell asked a question that’s left me thinking pretty seriously about the society that I’m living in today. Namely, does Sydney have a progressive enough environment that LGBTI people, particularly Trans-people, can feel loved and safe within.

Now to most people that would be a pretty straight-forward question, however after some of the events that I’ve experienced over the past few months, I’m reticent to give either a definitive yes or no as an answer.

Senator Sarah Hanson Young (Greens – South Australia) talking at a Parliamentary Friends of LGBTI Australians function in Canberra on July 16th, 2014. Her co-chairs are The Hon. Warren Entsch & Graham Perrett MP (Photo: Kate Doak)

That’s because while there’s undeniably a lot of goodwill towards the LGBTI community as a whole present within the Sydney metropolitan area, there’s also a lot of issues, concerns and events that get conveniently swept underneath the carpet within this city on a day to day basis, by both the powers that be and the LGBTI community itself as a whole.

Now for the most part, I’ve been extremely lucky ever since I packed my bags and headed down to Sydney a couple of years ago from the far reaches of northern New South Wales. From having the unwavering support of service providers such as The Gender Centre through to having a lot of friends and mentors from both the LGBTI and wider community who’ve stood steadfast beside me each step of the way, I couldn’t have wished for a better time or place to transition in.

Needless to say, with friends, mentors and allies such as Kate McClymont, Christine Forster, Michaela Whitbourn, Virginia Edwards, Amy Coopes, Lauren Ingram, Rachel Smith, Julie Lawless, Mark Textor, Sarah Davis, Ebony Allen, Peter Lloyd, Penny Sharpe, Tracey Spicer and a whole studio full of people from places such as Fairfax, News Corp, The Hoopla, SBS, Seven and the ABC amongst others, I know that I’ve got both the personal and professional networks that I need here in Sydney not only in order to thrive as a person, but to love life in general as well. Read more

2014 ~ Some thoughts from a year of being myself….

By Kate Doak

If there’s something that I’ve always wished for throughout my life, it’s been the ability to always be myself all day and every day in ways that I could only dream of previously imagining.

From exploring the utter highs and lows of humanity through to the journeys of family, joy, sorrow and love, I’ve always wanted to experience everything that life could offer me, while embracing it all.

Now while I’m now doing that and I feel as if I’m experiencing the much lauded concept of “having it all”, I can’t help but recognise the fact that for each and every one of us that there’s a different meaning to that phrase which in turn directly challenges how we live and engage with the never ending events within our lives.

Self Portrait at Museum Station, Sydney – Kate Doak – 2/12/2014
Self Portrait at Museum Station, Sydney – Kate Doak – 2/12/2014

Like a massive soap bubble taking shape within a home-made bubble wand, our minds are constantly moulding the desires that each and every one of us has throughout each and every stage of our lives. So while sometimes “having it all” may feel impossible to grasp and comprehend for any of us, at other times it can be completely and utterly within our reach.

Read more

A journalist’s reflections on Sydney’s “Day of Days” in at Martin Place….

By Kate Doak
By Kate Doak

If there’s one thing that will stay with me for many years from the afternoon of the Lindt Cafe Siege, it’ll be the memory of seeing families strolling up the length of Martin Place and taking “selfies” from just beyond the confines of the police barricade. Like moths being entranced into the flame, it was almost as if some people were viewing the ultimately horrific scene unfolding across the street from the 7 newsroom as a festival, rather than a psychological nightmare that’d emerged from the depths of Hell.

Martin Place Siege - 15/12/2014 - Photo: Kate Doak
Looking up towards the Martin Place Siege – 15/12/2014 – Photo: Kate Doak

But while the general public is often shielded from such atrocities (hence their fascination with such events when they happen on their front door), more often than not it’s the emergency services, professional media, victim’s families and social workers amongst others who bear the full brunt of the stories that tend to unfold in extremely graphic fashion around them, as it’s ultimately their responsibility to do so. From the Royal Commission into Child Abuse through to the events within the Lindt Chocolate Cafe, sometimes there’s scenes that can neither become unseen nor be forgotten by those who witness them.

Now as a freelance journalist who occasionally works with the likes of international news divisions such as the one run by the American Broadcasting Company, on a couple of occasions it’s been my job to get in and find the hard hitting news that hurts, even when it rips away at your emotions (and those of your colleagues) in ways best left publicly unsaid. Needless to say while such stories are ultimately traumatic, they also help fully describe and showcase the true nature of the human condition as we know it, in ways that help us rediscover ourselves as people.

Read more

A View to a (Political) Kill – A photographer’s view of ICAC’s Operation Spicer….

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.
Further escapades through the department stores adjoining ICAC with Joe Tripodi - Photo: Kate Doak
Further escapades through the department stores adjoining ICAC with Joe Tripodi – Photo: Kate Doak

With ICAC’s Operation Spicer having recently drawn to a close, many people around New South Wales (and Australia as a whole) have been wondering over recent weeks just how deep the taint of corruption has reached within both state and federal politics over recent years.

From coal loaders & “Black Ops” in Newcastle through to property development within the Western Suburbs of Sydney, neither Labor nor the Coalition have escaped the ICAC’s 007-like wrath during Operation Spicer, with over a dozen current and former politicians having been caught up within one of the longest public inquiries of the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s history.

Between delivering detailed analysis and commentary of the events occurring at ICAC over recent months with a smattering of cricket related puns and Shakespearean prose for SBS News, not to mention live tweeting the proceedings of the commission to the point where even Counsel Assisting The Commissioner Geoffrey Watson was publicly saying that I was proverbially on fire, I’ve essentially had a front-row seat (with my Nikon D3200) to one of the most spectacular periods of political intrigue in Australia’s history over the course of the past few months.

Read more

A Transgender journey “In My Shoes” – To Parliament House in Canberra and back again…..

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of presenting a short film on Transgender Youth to a group of politicians, staffers and other dignitaries at Parliament House in Canberra.  This group, otherwise known as the “Parliamentary Friends of LGBTI Australians”, focuses heavily on improving the lives of all Australians who are a part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex communities, as well as their partners and allies. Furthermore, it’s also bi-partisan — having members from all of the major political parties and the cross-benches — which is a rarity within Australian politics today.

This was the second time that I’d appeared at a “Parliamentary Friends of LGBTI Australians” event having produced a radio documentary on the group for “All the Best” on FBi Radio in November 2012, prior to moving to Sydney and starting my transition in earnest in 2013.

Speaking in Parliament House - Photo: Kate Doak
Speaking in Parliament House – Photo: Kate Doak

The film in question, “In My Shoes”,  is a short production that was recently commissioned by The Gender Centre of NSW in Sydney and produced with the assistance of Monique Schafter (ABC 7-30 and Hungry Beast) as well as cinematographer Mat Govoni.  Since the idea for this production was first raised at The Gender Centre, I’ve been honoured to have a role in this film’s production in both logistical and advisory capacities, amongst others.  Needless to say, the stories of the five young adults in this film are heart-touching, educative and profound in so many ways and will undoubtedly help to save the lives of many other Transgender Youth in the years ahead. Read more

Morrison responds to questions over his Platinum-etched Sri Lankan tea set…

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has responded to questions surrounding a gift that he received from the Sri Lankan Secretary for Defence and Urban Affairs Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa earlier this year during a Joint Working Group function on asylum seekers between Australia and Sri Lanka.

In a very carefully worded statement to The Deadly Newt, the Minister’s office refused to state why he decided to keep the seventeen-piece Noritake Odessa Platinum tea set that was presented to him by Mr Rajapaksa on the 22nd of April 2014, while suggesting that Mr Morrison was entitled to keep the platinum-etched gift from his Sri Lankan counterpart according to existing parliamentary regulations on such matters.

The Hon. Scott Morrison and Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa -- Source: Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra
The Hon. Scott Morrison and Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa — Source: Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra

“The item was a gift of the Sri Lankan Government”, stated a spokesman from Mr Morrison’s Ministerial office.

“The Minister has complied with the relevant guidelines on disclosure.”

The spokesman also declined to answer questions over the level of engagement that Minister Morrison and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship had partaken in with Mr Rajapaksa as a part of the repatriation of 41 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka over the last weekend, as well as the status of the professional and personal relationships between the two politicians.

According to overseas vendors, the Noritake Odessa Platinum china collection in a 17-piece configuration has a Recommended Retail Price between approximately $936.14 and when purchased either online or via authorised vendors. 

Morrison receives gifts from Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence officials

By Kate Doak

The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison received a seventeen-piece platinum-etched tea set as a personal gift from the Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence and Urban Affairs, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the 22nd of April 2014, according to his latest declaration to the Parliament via the Registrar of Member’s Interests.

Jason Clare (ALP) and Scott Morrison (Lib) - Source: The Hon Scott Morrison's website.
Jason Clare (ALP) and Scott Morrison (LIB) – Source: The Hon. Scott Morrison’s website.

Within his declaration, Mr Morrison stated that he received the Noritake Odessa Platinum tea set during an Australian Sri Lankan Joint Working Group function in Canberra and that he had decided to keep the gift after paying only $4.30 to the Parliament’s Collector of Public Monies, in accordance with parliamentary regulations.

Pecuniary Interests Statement - Minister Scott Morrison - 28/5/2014
Pecuniary Interests Statement – Minister Scott Morrison – 28/5/2014 Source: Screenshot of Minister Morrison’s submission.

This gift was made at the same event where a Deed of Transfer was signed for the transfer of two Bay Class Australian Customs vessels, ACV Corio Bay and ACV Hervey Bay, to the Sri Lankan Defence Forces. These vessels will be formally commissioned into the Sri Lankan Navy over the coming days, during an event that Minister Morrison will reportedly be attending.

Mr Rajapaksa, who is the brother of the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has previously been accused of war-crimes during the later stages of the country’s civil war by the former Chief of the Sri Lankan Army Sarath Fonseka, while a UN report that was published on the 31st of March 2011 by the Secretary General’s “Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka” has also uncovered instances of the Secretary of Defence ordering physical attacks against Journalists since taking up his position in 2005.

Noritake China – Odessa Platinum Collection. Photo courtesy of www.noritakechina.com
Noritake China – Odessa Platinum Collection. Photo courtesy of www.noritakechina.com

The Minister for Immigration’s office was approached for comment in regards to the events surrounding the gift that Mr Morrison received in April from Mr Rajapaksa, the minimal amount that Mr Morrison paid the parliament in order to keep the gift and Mr Rajapaksa’s potential involvement with the transfer of 41 Sri Lankan asylum seekers between both Sri Lanka and Australia over the weekend. However as of the advised deadline for this article, Minister Morrison’s office had not responded to the aforementioned inquiry.

According to the Noritake website the Odessa Platinum Collection isn’t available as a seventeen-piece set, while the collection itself isn’t available for sale within Australia at this time.

Eddie Obeid, ICAC and the “Neverfail Springs” Water Truck……

By Kate Doak
By Kate Doak

One of the fun things about being a freelance journalist is that one day you can be producing a radio documentary, while the next you can be staking out notoriously corrupt politicians at the gateway to their illustriously fitted out mansions.  Needless to say, that’s the situation I found myself in recently, when the Independent Commission Against Corruption dropped yet another bombshell on its favourite former member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Eddie Obeid.

Now while getting powerful photos of Eddie walking out from his humble abode, finger-waving and clenching his fist with his mouth agape for the Sydney Morning Herald sure is a lot of fun, it’s the weird and unexpected events that occur throughout such days that stay in your mind forever. While the mad scramble to get your shots becomes forgettable after a time as one stake out blends into another, it’s the jaw dropping moments that make you go “surely not” that stick with you throughout your career.

The Obeid mansion in Hunters Hill, during a Neverfail Springs delivery - Photo: Kate Doak
The Obeid mansion in Hunters Hill, during a Neverfail Springs delivery on the day Eddie Obeid was found to be corrupt by ICAC – Photo: Kate Doak

Needless to say, I sincerely doubt that anyone was expecting a “Neverfail Springs” delivery truck to deliver about a dozen bottled water containers to the Obeid Family’s mansion at EXACTLY the same time that Eddie Obeid was being declared corrupt for his dealings regarding water licences at his Cherrydale Park farm near the proposed Mt Penny coal mine. Nor do I think any of the other journalists there expected a location scout for a 1970’s themed television drama production to come knocking on Eddie’s door that afternoon as well.

Ah Eddie…. You do like your non-Cherrydale Park water and sense of irony fresh, don’t you….