I did an internship this year with SmartCompany and StartUpSmart. Both companies are affliated and are online based news sites focused on business and start up business news. Below is the story I on poor Asian language skills.


Poor Asian language skills represent a “looming lost opportunity” for Australian business

Tuesday, 28 August 2012 12:14
Joanne Koh

The small number of Australians proficient in Mandarin represents a huge disadvantage to Australian companies seeking to do business in China, according to a leading architecture firm.

CPA Australia has warned there are only 300 Australian students learning Chinese in year 12 across the country who are not native speakers.

John Bilmont, principal director of PTW Architects, calls this a “looming lost opportunity”.

“There is a real gap here as Australian schools typically offer European languages rather than Asian options, which is curious because Australia is firmly rooted in Asia,” he says.

PTW Architects has offices in Shanghai and Beijing, and encounters language issues from time to time.

“The vast bulk of our language skill needs are directly related to our business requirements in China and involve teams of PTW staff and associated professionals working together.

“The main language issue we face is when we have technical manuals and the like, which are themselves vaguely expressed and need to be ‘understood’ as well as interpreted into English,” he says.

But he told SmartCompany that PTW Architects tries to employ multi-lingual staff to combat the language problem.

“The lost opportunities extend beyond business interests and include the lost understanding and appreciation of the social, cultural and artistic qualities of China and other Asian nations,” he says.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and with Chinese emerging as a global language of business, Bilmont says it’s time the education sector made some changes.

“In my opinion, our education system would benefit from including Chinese and other Asian languages in the core curriculum subjects,” he says.

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I did an internship this year with SmartCompany and StartUpSmart. Both companies are affliated and are online based news sites focused on business and start up business news. Below is the story I did regarding the fears of the end of the mining boom.

Mining boom not over yet but will reach its peak in 2014: BIS Shrapnel report

Monday, 27 August 2012 12:03
Joanne Koh

The mining boom is far from over and will reach its peak in two years, according to a report by economic analysts BIS Shrapnel.

Frank Gelber, chief economist at BIS Shrapnel, predicts the peak will come in 2014, as the second half of the decade will see major minerals projects in Queensland and Western Australia for three to five years.

Gelber predicts investments in the mining industry will continue to grow and other sectors will pick up as the mining sector eventually slows.

The BIS report follows Resource Minister Martin Ferguson’s controversial comment last week that the mining boom is over.

Speculation that the mining boom has finished circulated after BHP Billiton announced it would abandon its Olympic Dam expansion in South Australia.

Gelber told SmartCompany that despite any weakening in investment, mining remains extremely profitable, with strong production in prospect.

“The current media discussion is about mining investment, which is stimulating investment-related activity in design, construction, equipment and business services, and adding significantly to our capacity to produce commodities,” he says.

Gelber predicts strong commodity prices will ensure the Australian dollar stays high for a few more years, putting pressure on trade-exposed industries.

He said the point that is being enforced in the report is the mining boom is not over yet as there are still projects to sustain activity.

Gelber said the real question now is about the next round of projects, and how it will impact the economy.

Click here for the original PDF document for this story.


This is a news report I did for Triple R 102.7 FM’s Midday News. As part of the radio journalism program, students are to do 2 shifts of news reading for Triple R FM. My team mates and I conducted the interviews for this shift and organised the bulletin under the guidance of our Radio Journalism tutor Nasya Bahfen. Click on play below to hear our bulletin.  

This is an article I wrote for the May 2012 edition of City Journal. It is written for the entertainment section about Yarn Bombing in Melbourne’s changing street art scene.


Melbourne Street Art Meets Kitschy Craft


A new form of street art has seen some public objects being bombed – yarn bombed, that is. Colourful crocheted yarn covers trees, lamp posts and bicycle stands and have been sighted in Melbourne’s artistic suburbs, such as Brunswick and Fitzroy. This quiet phenomenon has been around since 2005, but has recently garnered more popularity and enjoyed a surge of media attention. It is a favourite at community festivals, and craft superstore Spotlight even promoted yarn bombing groups through Facebook in December last year.

Compared to graffiti, yarn bombing is a relatively new addition to Melbourne’s renowned street art repertoire. But with increasing popularity, yarn bombing doesn’t seem to have the rebellious reputation as graffiti instead of public chastisement, Melbourne ” nds these woollen creations endearingly old-school. So why does graffiti cop criticism, and yarn-bombing not? Some suggest it could it be a gender issue, as gra! ti is predominantly carried out by men and yarn bombing is predominantly done by women.

Well-known fiber artist’ and yarn bomber, known only as Bali, has been yarn bombing since 2008. She is the founder of the largest collective of yarn bombers in the world, called Yarn Corner, which comprises of local and international members who contribute to large scale projects in Melbourne. But for Bali, yarn bombing isn’t a matter of graffiti-by-way-of grandma– it’s a legitimate act of rebellion.

“To the average person, a knitted or crochet piece shouldn’t be attached to a piece of infrastructure, but who’s to say that it can’t? Who’s to say that we can’t rebel against those that say it shouldn’t be there?” says Bali. Others simply argue yarn bombs add some colour to an otherwise dull urban environment.

Yarn Corner has created works for the Frankston Council and has already been commissioned to complete a project for the Coburg Carnivale in June. From time to time, the City council have intercepted some of Bali’s yarn bombings, but agreed to let the pieces stay intact. Graffiti, on the other hand, does not always receive this kind of support. Graffiti has long suffered a love/ hate relationship with the media and the public, with its vandalistic roots continuing to stigmatise modern street artists. But Thom Bonilla, a Melbourne-based graffiti artist, says Melburnians are gradually learning to accept graffiti as a part of the city’s identity.

“The (graffiti) street art scene will never change in the sense that the Kings (those who have amazing talent) will always get props. In saying that, more new talent is coming out, kids are doing gra! ti at a much earlier age,” he says.

Kifka Kingan, from the Metro Art Gallery, agrees graffiti is beginning to transcend its poor public image. “I think street artists have a genuine intention to illustrate public property to have their work seen and get their name out there, because of their artistic drive to share their talent and perspective with the world,” she says.

“There are even consultants that work with the council to be more mindful of artwork that should be considered a public city asset rather than something to be ‘cleaned up’.” As Melbourne’s street canvas becomes more colourful than ever, it’s up to graffiti and yarn artists alike to convert the public to their cause. A challenge, to be sure, but then again – how does the saying go? – a stitch in time saves nine…

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