Lifebroker; Navigating Insurance in the Gig Economy

Freelancing is a huge part of my life, as I know it is with a great many others in my social circle; and seemingly the most popular way to earn a few extra dollars. If you work in television production, food delivery, IT or writing, this is especially true, although the “gig economy” affects a great many other sectors. I can only speak from experience.

 You’re never sure where your next paycheck is going to come from. As soon as you send in your invoice and get paid, it seems like it’s all gone out to pay bills. It worries me that, if I ever got sick or injured or had my laptop stolen, I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills at all. While the ‘gig economy’ is popular at the moment, with Uber and Deliveroo dominating our social media feeds, it pays to understand how we can both enjoy the flexibility of the gig economy but also ensure we see the benefits of traditional employment.

 That’s why insurance is so important. If anything should happen to you, or your property, insurance can be there to cushion the fall. If you remembered to make your payments on time.

 I know a lot of my friends, who work gigs as well, don’t have insurance because they think they don’t need it. The biggest barrier for many navigating the gig economy is what we are actually entitled to, and what we are not. For example, a freelancer generally has to work at minimum 20 hours a week before they can be eligible for income protection insurance. I have always worked more than this, and never realized I fell into this category. Finding the right insurance, though, can be a nightmare. Navigating the landscape can seem like something impossible to do.

 That’s where Lifebroker comes in.

 Whether you’re looking for life insurance, income protection, business expenses, total and permanent disability cover, or trauma cover, they can help you compare a wide variety of options.

They have 8 of Australia’s leading insurers you can choose from including TAL, MLC, and AMP. Depending on what you need, and how much you can afford, they can point you in the right direction. They even have great life insurance calculator, as well as an income protection calculator, to help you figure out how much cover you may need. It’s easy to use, and you can compare policies in detail, or simply by price. Compare income protection policies, and see what’s available out there.

 If, after all that, you’re still not sure what to do, you can call them on 13 54 33 to speak to an insurance specialist. Or, of course, you can email them using their online form.

 Sure, I love the flexibility and excitement of the gig economy. I love not knowing where I may end up working next week; but I don’t love not knowing how I will pay my rent should I unfortunately get ill or injured and cannot work. Fortunately, the ease of Lifebroker’s digital platform allowed me to understand what is available to me and most importantly, and easy want to access it. As someone who loves having options, I am glad that companies like Lifebroker provide options to those of us navigating the gig economy.

 Lifebroker only provides general advice, which means they haven’t considered your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement to understand if the product is right for your financial situation or needs.


We need to Be Better

I wrote something similar to this last year after reading Clementine Ford’s Fight Like a Girl, but with the #MeToo hashtag making the rounds, I feel it’s important to talk about it again. All these women around me, more every day, who have suffered. It’s heartbreaking.

I saw a post, from where I can’t remember, talking about how #MeToo places the onus on victims/survivors to display the scale of the problem, forcing them to “out” themselves to affect the social change necessary to stop sexual assault and harassment from being such an epidemic. I can see it from both sides.

On the one hand, seeing just how many women in your life have suffered at the hands of men like and unlike you will certainly show the scale of the issue, which may then cause you to stand up where before you may not have realized the intensity of the issue. On the other hand, it shouldn’t take innumerable women sharing their stories for you to act in a positive way towards women, or help them or speak out when you see them being mistreated.

Other posts I read – some from women, some from men – turned it back around on the men, bystanders or offenders. It stated that men should be posting #MeToo, accompanied by the times they did nothing when a man was making a woman uncomfortable, or when they did something to make a woman uncomfortable.

And that’s hard. And it should be hard. Just because you seek forgiveness, doesn’t mean it will be given. The important part is being self-aware and trying to become a better person. I’ve already seen a couple of men in my feeds do this.


There were times when I pursued a woman despite her insistence of being uninterested. Pop culture teaches young men that “no doesn’t really mean no, you just have to be persistent”. This is wrong. No means no. We are regaled with tales of men “wearing women down” until they said yes, or other such manipulations. This isn’t okay. We can’t keep teaching men this.

There were times when I said nothing when I knew a friend of mine was being harassed. I was a teenager and my friend’s boyfriend was being cruel to her and I did nothing, because I was scared of him. I counseled another one to leave her boyfriend because he was becoming violent, but again he was older and bigger than me, and I was scared. I never confronted him or her other friends to help her.

I’ve spoken about a woman as if she were an object, once right in front of that girl. Young and stupid and drunk is no excuse. I knew better. I should have been better, but I wasn’t.

When I was a teenager, I used manipulative tactics to try and get a girl to be with me, and then was angry when she refused. I felt I was “owed” something. I didn’t really realize what I had done until years later when I reflected on it, learned more, tried to be better. Doesn’t change what was done.

Growing and becoming a better person involved re-examining uncomfortable truths about who you are, who you were, and who you want to be. It sucks. It hurts. And the people you hurt may never hear how sorry you are, and even if they do, they may never forgive you. That’s okay. You just have to work at being a better person, every day, all the time.

This was hard as hell to write and my guts are roiling and I want to cry, but it’s important that we, as men, own up to our shit. We have to call our friends out on it, too, because if we don’t, we are complicit. We have to help ourselves, and each other, #BeBetter.

Long Live the King of Zombies

I can’t really explain what George A. Romero zombie films mean to me without sounding silly. I mean, they’re just zombie movies, right? Shuffling monsters slowly making their way to devour your flesh. Your FLESH, NOT your brains – that’s only because of that stupid Return of the Living Dead. Thanks, John A. Russo.

But these films were more than that. Often bottle films – taking place in one location – and made on a small budget, these films were discussions of human nature, of the end of times, of people enduring it all. All that with gorgeous, ahead-of-their-time gore special effects that made your skin crawl.

Night of the Living Dead is, to me, essentially a perfect movie. The people are horribly imperfect, the setting is a dark house in woodland country, all with a bummer ending that still haunts me to this day. It was made in 1968 and Romero cast the best actor he knew, Duane Jones, who just happened to be black. There’s a quote attributed to Romero saying that Jones, “simply gave the best audition”. It’s easy to see why: Jones played Ben with such intensity with equal measures of softness that it’s hard to picture any different kind of portrayal.

Initially, Romero didn’t intend for the film to make any kind of comment on race relations in America, but he kind of couldn’t avoid it by casting a black man as the lead hero in a film in 1968. The ending of the film, which sees Ben killed by sheriffs after surviving the entire night alone, surrounded by the undead, is heartbreaking.

The film was also addressing a taboo that had never been filmed before: cannibalism. Night was the first zombie film to feature cannibal zombies, whereas before they had only been black magic-related. Romero essentially founded half the pop culture we have today by making the decision to turn his zombies into cannibals.

Dawn of the Dead was the big magnum opus that everyone knows: survivors doing their best to ride the apocalypse out in a mall. It’s a trope. The Dead Rising games made a franchise out of it, Zack Snyder “remade” the film in what was essentially a modern homage to the genre. The ending, which features two of our heroes flying out on a helicopter, was originally much darker. Originally, while trying to board the helicopter, something was supposed to go wrong and their heads were meant to get cut off. Romero was obviously a fan of grim endings.

Day of the Dead, though, that one was my favourite. It got remade in the 90s in essentially a shot-for-shot remake, but the originally from 1985 is so much better. Taking place in an abandoned missile silo, scientists and soldiers must deal with each other in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. It doesn’t go well.

The flesh-eating effects in that film were beyond excellent. It also features an amazing line: as the lead soldier is being devoured by zombies and he starts screaming, “Choke on it!” It was improvised, which was a risky move considering the production had essentially fun out of film, so if Romero didn’t like it, they couldn’t reshoot it.

These movies make me think about death, about people, about the world. They bring me comfort, they disturb me, they make me laugh and scream and everything in between. I can’t explain it. Even the later films that were not reviewed kindly (Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead) I enjoyed. Except Land of the Dead, which I thought was a bit dumb, but it had Dennis Hopper in it, so it was still very enjoyable to watch.

Romero “…of the Dead” zombie flicks were one of those franchises I thought would keep going long into the apocalypse. Romero was this undying (no pun intended) figure, the smiling grandfather of modern creature horror. He was, by all accounts, a lovely man who just loved making these movies. The world is sadder without him in it.

Putting a Name to It, Officially

I have been convinced, for pretty much since I’d heard about it, that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The ticks, the patterns, the thought processes, it all felt so familiar. After reading Mara Wilson’s wonderful article on Cracked, I was more convinced than ever that this was something that was living and breathing in my brain.

Today, I had that confirmed.

I started therapy a few weeks ago because, for a variety of reasons, I felt like I hadn’t been coping with life. My panic attacks were becoming a little worse and somewhat more frequent; my social anxiety was increasing; and my lethargy, and general lack of motivation, was affecting my creative life as well as my work.

It didn’t take me long to bring up the fact that I thought I had OCD, and listed all the symptoms I had. My therapist decided to give me a test and, there it was in black and white: mild to moderate OCD. Actually, closer to the ‘moderate’ end, 2 points off of the “moderate to severe” spectrum. Then we went through a list of the things I obsess over and the compulsions I have.

Next week, we begin on coping strategies.

I can’t even express how good it feels to be…vindicated. That this is real. That this is happening. That I’m not crazy in my beliefs. It was like a weight off my shoulders. It has a name, it is real, and I have it, and that’s okay.


13 Reasons Why

Let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why for a minute. Be ye fairly warned all who tread here: this article will have spoilers, and will also be discussing suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, Lifeline Australia is there to listen on 13 11 14.

To say that the show is controversial is, perhaps, a bit of an understatement. There seems to be an argument going around that the show is damaging and that it romanticizes suicide. While I can see their point, I don’t agree.

First of all, for all those saying that it’s “dangerous for kids to watch”, the show is rated MA15+. No one under this age should be watching it, and there’s good reason for it. The show discusses (and portrays):

  • rape
  • sexual harassment
  • severe bullying
  • suicide
  • violence

And I know, we’re all old hats at watching violence by now, but still. At 15, teens are assumed to be old enough to be able to understand what’s going on, and the intricacies of at least some of it. While some say that’s too young, it kind of isn’t. Think about yourself at 15 and you’ll realize you knew more than the credit you’re willing to give to kids.

Besides that, around that age is when – horribly, one way or another – most people begin to interact with the above, as well as strong emotions, consensual sex, and a variety of other self-discovery moments.

Now, for anyone suffering from depression, I can see the worry. This show seems to make an “excuse” that Hannah’s suicide “solved” some things in this town. People’s crimes come to light, revenge is had, comeuppance is served, etc. It seems to give some purpose to her action.

But, if you paid any attention at all, you see it was a horrible thing that happened to a scared, sad, damage young woman. And her actions, by sending these tapes around, were vindictive, dramatic, and damaging. Especially to Clay.

She says on “his tape” that he doesn’t deserve to be there, and – later on – that he  “didn’t care enough”. That’s a load of horse shit. if she had been an inch more honest with him, then maybe he could’ve seen what was going on. Or maybe not. The point is, Hannah isn’t perfect nor is she forgiven, at least not to a discerning viewer.

The show does not flinch away from the brutality, pain, and sadness that is her suicide. The moment she slits her wrists is physically and emotionally painful to watch. And the following scene where her parents find her is, in a word, devastating. This show does not romanticize suicide, it shows it as it is: an awful thing that happens. If you think that Hannah’s suicide is romantic, then you need to reassess your idea of what romantic is.

One aspect of that idea is that, although people did not respect her in life – except for a precious few people who were there for her – they respected her, loved her, talked about her, in death. And that this was some kind of desirable outcome. But this fundamentally misunderstands the reason people were talking about her. The attention is sad, in some cases sinister, and she was responsible for hurting the lives of people she cared about.

In the show, there is legitimately no reason why Clay should be on the tapes, other than he respected her wishes and walked away from her when she demanded it. Sure, he said some insensitive things, but who didn’t at 15, 16, 17, 18, 28? And yet she put him on there, and broke him. And he is broken, make no mistake.

What this show does, and I feel like this was much of its purpose, was to make me reflect upon every interaction I have ever had with another person.

In high school, an acquaintance of mine took his own life. We didn’t know each other super well, but we greeted each other in the halls, talked in the library or at the bus stop. We had interactions. And after he died, I racked my brain for anything, anything, I could have said that may have contributed. And I know that down that road lies madness, but how could I not? How could anyone not?

Clay did the very same thing, and instead of Hannah merely saying “you did nothing, I just needed you to know”, she says “I demanded you leave, and you left, and that was the reason you made me kill myself”. And that’s self-absorbed and horrible.

And I guess that’s the point here. Hannah isn’t perfect, what she did was damaging and wrong. The other people on the tapes? Perhaps they deserved it, perhaps not. The idea is to get you talking about how you deal with your problems – especially teens – and how we talk and interact with other people.

My point here is that 13 Reasons Why is not romantic, it’s depressing, and it should be. If it was treated any other way, it wouldn’t be treating the topic with reverence. There are many other places to point fingers in Hollywood for romanticizing suicide – we do it all the time. Acts of heroic self-sacrifice are the most common, and I think I’ve only seen it treated with enough heavy emotion twice (in JJ Abrams’ first Star Trek and in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman).

This show is starting an important conversation about a lot of things, but most especially about the important of talking to someone when something is going wrong. Hannah never did. Clay didn’t. None of these kids do. And I know it’s naive to think they’ll talk to their parents, but they barely talk to each other!

Talk to each other. Be kind to each other. And pay attention.


A Eulogy for a Writer of Eulogies

It was almost fitting that Denis Johnson, author and poet, died without much fanfare. There were no television specials. No social media flashmobs of grief. There were very few public airing of grief, online or in print. Those who knew him and those who read him, however, held their own private vigils for a man who can be easily described as “God to the word” (bookstore employee) and with a similar style to “early Hemingway” (John Updike).

I discovered Denis Johnson by accident. It was in 2014 and I was in Kinokuniya Bookstore in Sydney, and I picked up his novella Train Dreams. He had me hooked from the first paragraph.

In the summer of 1917 Robert Grainier took part in an attempt on the life of a Chinese laborer caught, or anyway accused of, stealing from the company stores of the Spokane International Railway in the Idaho Panhandle.

The novella, barely over 100 pages long, packed more punch than most of the novels I had ever read up until that point. Every page was filled with some of the most poetic and efficient prose; it was a genuine pleasure to read. It didn’t take long for me to get my hands on almost everything else he had written.

Not everything was a success, for me, in terms of his work. I never got into the National Book Award-winning Tree of Smoke, nor the beautiful titled Already Dead: A California Gothic. It’s not that the writing wasn’t good, they just never grabbed me.

Everything else I devoured, though. Jesus’ Son, Nobody Move, Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, The Name of the World, and The Laughing Monsters were all intense, beautiful reads. I only just got my hands on Fiskadoro and Angels. And there’s something wonderful about the fact that I am still discovering him, even after he’s passed. I haven’t read any of his poetry, but I look forward to it.

Johnson was a writer of the downtrodden, the broken, the unlucky. Everything was a beautiful eulogy for some broken, poor soul. He described his own work as “a zoo of wild utterances“, and that really does suit.

There is almost a desperation to convey how beautiful the horror of life can sometimes be; how the ugliness of it all is what makes it so special. And because of that desire to show the wildness of everything, he never stuck to a single style. Nobody Move is in the style of a noir detective tale; Fiskadoro is post-nuclear apocalypse; Train Dreams is the life of one man on the American frontier.

“I get bored quickly and try another style, another genre, another form,” he said to The LA Times in 2014.

“To me the writing is all one thing, or maybe I should say it’s all nothing. The truth is, I just write sentences.”

There’s something so perfect about that. That no one genre or style or topic could contain what he saw in the world. How the beauty and the horror was never contained in one place, always “defying readers’ expectations”.

I don’t really know what else to say other than I’m horribly sad that he’s gone. He is considered one of the greatest writers of his generation, but it feels as if nobody knew his name. And again, there is something so perfectly Denis Johnson about that. I know that sounds corny or ridiculous, but I’m processing this as it comes to mind. You just have to read him to understand it, I suppose. So, please, do that.

I’ll finish this up with two quotes. One is the writing advice he offered to his students: “Write naked. Write in exile. Write in blood.

And the other is the stunning opening passage to Fiskadoro, which I am about to start reading:

Here, and also south of us, the beaches have a yellow tint, but along the Keys of Florida the sand is like shattered ivory. In the shallows the white of it turns the water such an ideal sea-blue that looking at it you think you must be dead, and the rice paddies, in some seasons, are profoundly emerald.


McDonald’s Done Did Wrong

Companies make mistakes. That’s a fact of life. What seems odd, though, is when they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as McDonald’s has so recently done. Now, I love McDonald’s, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing more satisfying than sinking my teeth into a delicious burger when that’s exactly what I’m in the mood for. I don’t find them any more or less reprehensible than any other large fast food company. In fact, I take more umbrage with KFC’s practices, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m here to talk about the Create Your Own Taste debacle. More specifically, how they don’t do it anymore.

McDonald’s spent what I can only assume was millions of dollars on installing those ordering kiosks, big Create Your Own Taste signs, rolling out the special packaging, and everything else that comes with introducing something new to an established restaurant.

This logo was everywhere!

And then, one day, without warning, in one of possibly the stupidest moves I’ve ever seen, they just ditched the service.

I discovered they’d abandoned the idea when I went in to eat at McDonald’s close to my home. My girlfriend and I went to the kiosk and, lo and behold, we couldn’t find the option. So, I went up to the girl at the counter and she very politely informed me that they no longer did Create Your Own Taste.

So we left. We left and went to another one around the corner that still did it. Slowly but surely, though, all the locations stopped doing it. And I can’t wrap my head around it. They had made such a big deal out of it, trying to make McDonald’s classy with its table service and new burgers and customization. Only to be replaced with a Gourmet Creations menu, which is six sucky burgers that suck.

The move to discontinue Create Your Own Taste isn’t only one that irritates me, but is one that is going to drive away customers. It already has.

My girlfriend is a vegetarian and, after McDonald’s got rid of their (incredibly limited run) veggie burger patty, there was nothing for her to eat but the fries and the ice cream. With Create Your Own Taste, she suddenly had options: bun filled with vegetables! A haloumi burger! Wrap that shit in lettuce! It was great. We could actually eat McDonald’s together! Now, that’s over.

People from my parents’ generation were also coming back to McDonald’s. The choices were so good. My dad said that the Create Your Own Taste burger he made was one of the best he’d had in Australia, and I can’t help but agree. I had created my perfect fucking taste. My mum, who’s gluten-free, could have a chicken burger wrapped in lettuce. We could go to McDonald’s as a family and everyone could enjoy it. Now, that’s over.

My parents don’t go anymore. Their friends don’t go. My girlfriend doesn’t go. I go less, because I’m not as excited. The taste on my tongue for the burger I created will go unsated forever.

And why? No answer. And what of all those signs falsely advertising the best thing McDonald’s ever did? They’re still standing, a testament to a massive failure in management. I’m honestly baffled by this decision.

Create Your Own Taste made eating McDonald’s fun again. It made it feel like eating out. Bringing home those big cardboard boxes of burgers and fries felt like something special, like Maccas felt when you were a kid. And then they killed that in favour of burgers that, honestly, taste far, far worse than their original menu.

Also, you’re telling me you can create a goddamn chicken Big Mac, but you’re gonna get rid of one of the best burgers you ever made: the crispy chicken jalapeno?? For shame, McDonald’s.

Rest in peace, you delicious bastard.