About jodiewhittakerjournalist

I am... an information bower bird, optimist, former educator, current affairs junkie, eclectic voyeur, mother of three, wife of one, dog and cat person and a proud community member. Currently studying journalism at Deakin University I plan to begin a career in feature writing, news gathering, research and broadcasting.

Dear Marker,

I have had a few technical glitches with the electronic element of my blog. When I changed the appearance, I somehow wrecked the RSS feeds. A few days of fiddling with Themes and Widgets has not really paid off.

I have had to go back to the drawing board and create a whole new blog to showcase what I could salvage of my old work. It does not have al the bells and whistles, nor the full research my initial one had; but it works.

I have been unable to find a way of creating a contents page, or other way of more simply directing you to the criteria I am presenting for assessment.

Please find the following items for your consideration:

My Feature Article, Baby Benefits,

Two of my best posts from the readings,

My Review piece featuring outside, scholarly references

The main blog posts, illustrating some of my research,

Photos, which are provided to illustrate the themes I am working with.

I hope that my blog posts are not too difficult for you to find. I am still very much getting used to presenting work in this fascinating new format, so my next blog will be so much better than what I have created here.

Best of luck in the search and with your assessment task.


Crusade for Kailtin: Post

Crusade for Kaitlin, by Billy Rule

Billy Rule uses an effective literary tool to engage readers, the second person. He directly address the audience, ensuring a feeling of intimacy and inclusiveness with the text. This is a powerful way to get under the reader’s skin, generating empathy with the protagonists, passion for the issues and produces an experience of the central figures’ emotions.


Rule uses ‘heart’ figuratively and literally as a recurrent motif, unifying descriptors and encouraging readers to seek the next reference. The piece begins inviting readers to recall trauma, reminding of time they’d felt ‘a claw of fear gripping your heart’. He teases with, ‘Something you didn’t expect and barbed wire wraps around your heart’, an allusion to oncoming pain encouraging the reader to continue to the end of the piece.


Rule places the narrative at the chronological start, Debra Chittleborough’s introduced, and her ‘heart was going just fine’. The statement builds impending doom.


Figuratively, heart is inferred to as the story’s pacing, resembles a pulse. It calmly introduces the protagonist and then creates a rapid panic, continuing, punchy, vigorous, short sentences, staccato phrasing and concise small words. (ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom)


The literal heart motif continues, ‘Debra’s heart seized’ on discovering her daughter’s drowning. When she attempts to reach the hospital, ‘heart pounding with fear’, obstacles block her path. Seeing her daughter initially, there ‘was a small heartbeat, but it was just from the drugs’, giving hope for life, before ultimate loss.


Final paragraphs see motif repeated; lasting effects of losing Kaitlin are experienced as a ‘cyclone ripping me apart inside, so when you’ve had your heart ripped out, people can’t see your pain.’


The power of Rule’s piece is the reader’s emotional reaction, empathising with the situations and protagonists. The loss of a child is almost too torturous to imagine. Rule eloquently describes Debra’s grief, frustration and anger. Readers yearn for her justice. Anyone who cares for children experiences a world we hope never to enter.


People I trust have cared for my three children on many occasions. I’ve taken Debra’s risk, assuming others as attentive, responsible and safety conscious.



The frank, earnest, open way Debra’s actions are portrayed captures grief and mourning, challenging readers to question maternal sanity. Unusual coping strategies include taking her dead child home, dressing her, brushing her hair, singing and reading to her in bed, and extended cuddles to say goodbye. The post funeral mention of the psychiatric emergency team, Debra’s friends wanting to take her away and concern at potential self-harm, invite readers to question grief becoming mental illness.


The media’s role in the push for change is highlighted. Pool fencing regulations are understood, but until Debra Chittleborough made her Crusade for Kaitlin, supervision was expected, not legislated for.


The media is a valuable tool for providing cautionary tales, evident as Rule recreates a mother’s experience, so others won’t have to live it.


In New York, Debra spoke to Today Show’s, Al Roker, showing a photograph of Kaitlin, reminding America, they ‘have to look after their kids.’


Australians reading the 2008 Walkley Award winner, saw reasons a child died and parent’s agony at preventable death.


The W.A. coroner concluded Kaitlin’s inquest, stating “the woman…was not watching Kaitlin and her own daughter…and there were no apparent suspicious circumstances.” These comments were widely reported, reminding Australian parents of the need for supervision.


Despite divorce, together the parents sued the friend who hadn’t prevented Kaitlin’s death. The court case enabled Debra to speak to the press, “People have got to be made accountable so they think before they walk away and leave young children in a pool.” Hopefully Debra’s crusade ensures others won’t repeat the error, which cost Kaitlin’s life.




The Height Report: Post (or statistics without yawning)

The Height Report by JOHN VAN TIGGELEN

The Age

Saturday March 3, 2007

John Van Tiggelen uses his own experiences as a Dutch (and there fore according to his piece) tall man as a commencement point for the illustration of fascinating studies into changes in human anatomy. He searches for clues to explain how and why his compatriots are vertically gifted in comparison to indigenous populations from other countries. He presents numerous pieces of statistical data seamlessly, in a conversational tone, peppered with humour.


After introducing his observations relating to his own height queries, he makes a joke, before switching into investigative and reporting mode. He poses a question about height, then looks to everyday folk to solve his dilemma, before steering his piece into an examination of scientific examinations regarding height. Ask a… (insert the occupation) works well to see perspectives on growth.


Van Tiggelen’s use of the accessible experts who have experience with height introduces his analytical enquiry from micro, through meso and then macro observations about height. He begins with himself, goes through to Dutch observations with local experience, then looks at the global community’s occurrence of height.


VanTiggelen uses a refreshingly down to earth approach when presenting his statistic heavy piece. It could have been dull and inaccessible, but her breaks down technical or scientific terminology into lay terms and uses humour to lighten the piece. His presentation of research flows well as mades the piece feel like he is on a personal quest because of the way he chronologically points out the discoveries along his journey.


I enjoyed his description of Holland as the land of the giants. He brings lots of issues to light I had never considered an aspect of excessive height, like the discomfort of plane seats, clothing challenges and medical treatments possible to hinder growth.


This piece is a wonderful illustration of how statistical data and reports can be the fodder for humorous, meaningful and personal reporting.





Baby Benefits Feature Article

Unexpected Joys From Young Motherhood

Posted on June 5, 2013


 Ollie commando crawls across aged carpet, weaving between chair legs and pram wheels toward the open door. With plump, rosy cheeks and mop of blonde curls, the cherubic ninja powers towards freedom. Against clattering equipment and garbled music, distant laughter and muted discussions echo through the building. Sky blue track pants fall away behind him, exposing chunky white legs and one striped sock. He motors on. Aromas waft into the room, beckoning him out further. A few more sneaky paces and he can investigate.

“Sorry Mister!”

Patent black shoes, bare ankles then two tall legs block the way. Ollie cackles being scooped into the air. With a few bouncy steps, he is returned to the classroom. Chubby little fingers reach toward the sign on the door, ‘Welcome’.

Ollie wriggles, burying his face into Helen’s chest in mock coyness. She snuggles the 11-month old close, muffling delighted squeals as they return to the classroom.

“Poo! You stink,” she whispers, carrying him around a battered table, past laminated posters featuring parts of speech, multiplication tables, safety instructions and the Wiggles.

“Here you are,” Helen announces, startling girls huddled around a laptop, “time for new pants here.”

Ollie’s mother Jackie is enrolled in a program created to meet the unique educational needs of young parents. Like 3.8% of all Australian births last year, Ollie was born to a mother under the age of twenty.

Seventeen-year-old Jackie disengaged from formal education in year eight. Headstrong and confident, she confesses, “I quit school and didn’t do anything for nearly a whole year, just doing my own thing, rebelling. I was so naughty.” She recognises she made some poor choices and followed a bad crowd into trouble. Picking at nail polish, she admits school didn’t interest her. She yearned for independence and didn’t like authority. Jackie felt forced to learn things of no interest. She believed she didn’t belong, so left.

Alienation and social isolation contribute to poor school retention. These feelings are amplified if a girl becomes pregnant. Someone young with the extraordinary responsibility of a child, may not find traditional schooling relevant. Add sleepless nights, nappy changes, health concerns, potential post natal depression plus breastfeeding and it’s no wonder teen parents have little in common with school peers.

Diversitat’s Young Parents Program (YPP) gives the opportunity for young expectant mothers and teen parents to meet and exchange experiences. Peer teaching and learning occurs in a welcoming environment. YPP provides somewhere positive and motivating to belong, a first for some students.

Helen Foord developed and coordinates YPP. She mentors young mothers with a warm, calm manner, knowledge and compassion. Beyond literacy and numeracy, Helen teaches nutrition, baby settling techniques, infant development, time management and first aide.

The classroom is in a community centre, where members of the public gather to learn and share skills. Jackie and Ollie learn together. While Jackie works toward achieving herVictorian Certificate of Advanced Learning, (VCAL) Ollie socialises with other children, spends time with different people, enjoying new toys away from home.

Students are taught how to access to community resources. Learning how to ask for help gives parents greater confidence. YPP sessions include support from welfare workers, personal trainers and cooking classes. The core of YPP is ensuring relevance and purpose in learning.

Jackie was embarrassed at not reading or writing well, so a friend recommended YPP after experiencing the program. “I used to hear things some adults talk about and think, I have no idea what they were saying. When I had to fill in forms, I always had to get someone to help me out, as I just couldn’t get it.”

With Ollie, Jackie’s world is changing for the better. Having a child in her teens made her eligible for YPP and motivated to complete secondary education. Improving literacy and numeracy brings future choices. She gains confidence along with qualifications.

Becoming a mother at any age is challenging, but Jackie’s process is an extraordinary learning curve. “I’m out of home for the first time, cooking, balancing money, being a parent and doing everything. I used to hear Mum talking about how hard her job [as a mother] was and I ‘d think, ‘oh yeah’, but she’s right. It’s difficult… Not what I imagined.” Jackie seems more mature than most seventeen year olds, highly organised and well attuned to her son’s needs. Life experience made her street-smart, YPP increases her book-smarts.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare use educational levels as “indicators of individual’s ability to compete in competitive labour markets”. In their recent report onhealth and wellbeing, they link reduced literacy rates to a reduction in employment prospects and decreased health. The institute’s research observes “completion of secondary education is important for full participation in many aspects of adult life, related to socio-economic status and the potential for better health”.

Specialist Midwife, Lisa Henderson, coordinates Baxter House antenatal service for young mothers. She notes positive opportunities for change can come from pregnancy. “I’ve seen some girls go down a wrong path then find a better way because of having a baby. Whether or not they stay with that good choice becomes another issue. I’ve seen lots of good, positive outcomes from teen.”

In her office at Geelong hospital, Lisa is the front line with teenagers, providing pregnancy care for the regions mothers under the age of 20. In a quiet, reflective manner she comments that a baby can mean a future with greater choices, especially for disadvantaged teens. Re-engagement with education is one such opportunity. “I do a lot of work trying to get girls back into education. Just bringing up the subject, ‘how do you feel about going back to school or doing some kind of course’ is important. It’s good to be engaged and belong to something, rather than just waiting around for months for a baby to arrive.”

Parents carry enormous financial burden. Career paths become few or non existent without education. Lisa sees “some girls are certainly very motivated to continue their learning. I’ve seen some who had dropped out of education get back into education because they now have responsibilities and they want to go down a good path. They become more motivated. Some girls just drift and don’t see links between education and their life outcomes.”

After two terms of YPP Jackie sees the benefit. “I’m only just starting to really get how you all [educated adults] talk to each other. You use big words, different words. Before I was at Diversitat, I’d have had no idea what you were saying. I’d nod and smile. I love now my mind’s opened up. A click happens. Things just fall into place, one thing after another. Things just get easier.”

Jackie plans to continue education after her VCAL is complete. Since discovering an affinity with children, she will commence a TAFE certificate in childcare, next year.

Jackie is changing from school drop out to productively employed, thanks to her little boy.

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Choice of Young Parenting Program as my feature’s central focus

Why this Centre as Focus?

Posted on April 24, 2013

As a feature writer, I thrive on observing the fabric and rhythm of ordinary life, shining light onto average people to uncover extraordinary stories.

To observe people going about their everyday lives, I visited to a local community centre.  I wanted to explore the happenings and negotiations occurring within a building that houses a gaggle of diverse networks.

I felt sure there would be a little gem of an idea, hiding amongst dusty, dated rooms. I discoverd that this facility was bursting at the seams with individuals who unite to become groups, gather into clubs, come to sessions, provide peer support systems, share hobies as a collective, attend various gatherings, learn at classes, become diverse organisations, form like minded guilds, become committee members and above all this is a place to belong as friends.

My initial story concept was to explore  the more unusual elements or individuals amongst the cacophony which is the Geelong West Diversitat Community Centre. There I discovered  a wealth of inspiration for feature pieces.


Feature Research File researching ideas and making pitches…


A partially edited interview with Jennifer Bond, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Geelong Hospital

I have had difficulties when editing this audio file, so have provided one short (but still several minutes long) clip from a series of interviews I have performed while learning about the challenges and wider perspectives of teen pregnancy and education.

In this interview, Jenny Bond discusses her role as a specialist nurse in the outpatient’s clinic at Geelong Hospital. An aspect of her career in outpatient provisions, is perform  accompanying young girls during their obstetric exams. She undertakes this role since law requires anyone under 18 years of age, must have an adult with them while being physically examined by a Dr.

At the 4 minute.15 second mark, Jenny discusses her views on maternal age. She sees child birth at a younger age is safer and less complicated than at a mature age.  Her perspective comes form years of midwifery experience and clinical practice. She acknowledges that girls are getting their first periods earlier with each generation and they are physically ready for pergnancy and delivery at earlier ages than in previous years.



Forced Adoption

The Australian Government was in a unique position on March 21st, 2013, as it publicly acknowledged the wrongs caused by past political leaders. The apology recognised the depth of pain felt by numerous women and children because of legally forced adoption. The apology was made by our Prime Minister on behalf of our entire government.

Hopefully this action will enable the victims of forced adoptions to access much needed assistance and begin their healing.



One of the most valuable sources of information: ABS

I use the Australian Bureau of Statistics website in order to access a vast range of statistical data.

This enables me to generate highly informed and well researched pieces of feature reportage.

The ABS provides access to historically and social relevant information as the statistical data is interpreted by leading demographers, statisticians and researchers. This research and information gathering is necessary for a thorough comprehension of issues  surrounding an article’s central theme.



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