Benjamin Gabbett Gaffney

Courtesy of Sarah Finn.  Circa 1992
Courtesy of Sarah Finn. Circa 1992

30th December 1971 – 30th July 1992

A personal dedication to Sarah and all of my thirty five cousins (Gaffney’s and Ellis’), to my brother and sisters and Liam, Dylan and Ryan.
Today marks the twenty second death date of our special Benjamin, usually I don’t like to be so sombre but the recent death of the young motorbike rider, just up the road ( has resurrected many thoughts and feelings.
Benjamin died as a young twenty year old in a “bad accident” and I am taking this opportunity with you all to share and celebrate some of my moments with Ben.
To me, Ben was my older cousin, friend and mentor.
The last time I saw Ben, we borrowed my mum’s old car and went on a road trip to Toowoomba. I remember this trip clearly as it was my opportunity to get to know Benjamin a little better, one-on-one, as young adults (N.B. my younger brother Josh was with us too).
After the trip, Ben and I went to a friend of mine’s party, then we went bush-bashing, yes, in my mums’ car. Naively, I had never been bush-bashing before, I felt scared and thrilled all at the same time. Most of all, I just thought it was COOL that Ben wanted to hang out with me.
When I was in Year Eleven, I was very much a lost soul, Ben and Sarah helped me through a few teenage angst moments (and I will always be forever grateful). Ben and I also lived in the same house at Paddington (Nanna’s) for a short while. During one conversation, Ben asked how school was going, what am I studying and so forth, I asked him about an art assignment that I could not get my head around. Benjamin read it and came back the day later with an armful of resources for me.
The assignment was about Line, Rhythm, Shape/Line/Dominance, Proportion, Tone, Colour, and Contrast. Benjamin purchased a $5 copy of the Handbook of Art (1971. The Specialty Press Limited: North Clayton, Victoria.), from the old Patty’s book store at Paddington. He also had a made me a bound book of his own notes and comments on Line, Rhythm, Shape, etc.
I would like to share with you the remains of that bound book that Ben gave me, with reference to the Handbook of Art.
(To those of you that knew Ben, I hope you get a giggle out of his references and a thrill out of seeing his writing.)
I have also managed to dig up a piece of paper from the “Prayers of the Faithful” from Ben’s funeral:

Ben has touched many people’s hearts and I pray that these people reflect the peace and love that he wished for them.


(Written and spoken by me.)

Help us to learn gentleness and peace from Ben’s example.


(Written and not sure if spoken by Aunty Grace Watson.)

Ben you’ll always be, Forever Young.
To me you’ll be Forever Young.

Your smile will stay with me.
And ignite my dormant soul.

Free us from our earthly bonds.
With light guide or way to the stars.

Your peace gave us a sign.
May your peace leave us a sign.


(Written and not sure if spoken by John Ryan.)


Chris is Frantic

One of my very first University assignments, for Script writing, I received a distinction. Submitted on the 30th of March, 2001.

Julie-Ann Ellis
A gorgeous looking guy with a backpack on his back is walking along a grubby road in downtown Bangkok. The traffic on the street is loud and obtrusive despite the fact that it is early afternoon and the majority of the Thai people are at work. Cars are spewing out carbon dioxide that add to the already polluted atmosphere of Bangkok.
There is an Australian Flag depicted on CHRIS’ backpack and he is wearing faded blue denim jeans with a matching faded green ‘V.B.’ t-shirt. His mother would be horrified at him if she could see him now, his chocolate colored brown hair is in dire need of a cut and is face is starting the beginnings of a beard. On the top of CHRIS’ toned and tall body is a bright orange terry toweling hat. To compliment his ensemble CHRIS is wearing a black belt, also around his waist is a black leather MONEY POUCH, and of course his comfortable old ‘Docs’. The locals in the street are pointing and staring at the stranger with the bright hat, whom is oblivious to his surroundings.
Car horns blaring and the general banter of people and life can be heard, as CHRIS continues down the street he has his nose buried in a back packer’s bible, the TRAVEL GUIDE. The TRAVEL GUIDE is open on a page with a description and menu of a Restaurant named the ‘Asterix and Obelix’.
Cut to:
2. P.O.V. CHRIS.
CHRIS stops walking and looks up, then back down to the TRAVEL GUIDE and back up again. In relief whilst returning the TRAVEL GUIDE to his back pocket.
Cut to:
CHRIS enters the front doors and can hear the operatic music playing quietly and appropriately. A few rays of sunlight make it into the room through the darkened windows and are entering the fluorescent-lit room. After CHRIS’ eyes adjust to the lighting, he looks around the RESTAURANT. The walls, floors and fittings are solid timber paneling to match the Swiss theme of the RESTAURANT named the ‘Asterix and Obelix’.
Cut to:
4. P.O.V. CHRIS.
CHRIS can hear the hustle and bustle of a RESTAURANT to his right, so he turns his head to investigate. The clanging sound of pots and pans and a tinkering sound can be heard. There is a general murmur from the staff as they are preparing tables for dinnertime. The waiters who do not even notice CHRIS’ presence are placing the accompanying cutlery, condiments, glasses and flowers on the tables.
CHRIS turns around and can see a BAR, which is of a brilliant polished timber. The wall behind the BAR is covered in mirrors with shelves displaying a mixture of Western and Eastern Alcohol.
The bartender is polishing GLASSES and staring at people getting on with their daily duties outside of the large windows facing the street. There is a lone man who is sporting a sparkling red HAT, sitting on a STOOL drinking a pint of frothy amber liquid and smoking a rolled cigarette.
The customer is of obvious European descent and proves the fact by picking up “THE AUSTRALIAN” to read.
There is a DOOR at the end of the BAR, with a picture on it displaying the international sign of the male toilet. The Thai name HAWNG is also posted on the DOOR.
Cut to:
The DOOR is still swinging behind CHRIS, as he has entered the camouflaged bleach smelling room. CHRIS tries to push a DOOR to a cubicle and realises that there is something jamming it shut. A COIN OPERATED MACHINE that releases the door is causing the problem.
CHRIS, whom is frustrated and anxious, rummages through his MONEY POUCH for the relevant COIN needed to enter the TOILET. All CHRIS can find are COIN’S that are not the correct currency. He then pulls the TRAVEL GUIDE out of his BACK POCKET and flicks the pages until he finds a page with pictures of several coins on it. A look of recognition appears on CHRIS’ face as he recognises the correct COIN.
CHRIS returns the TRAVEL GUIDE to his BACK POCKET, then continues his search for the correct coin. He tries his MONEY POUCH again, but still cannot find the right “Rian” needed. Understandably upset now, CHRIS is swearing under his breath. CHRIS stops himself, takes a breath, and places both hands in his POCKETS. He pulls out several loose COINS and finally finds the correct one.
An excited and smiling CHRIS holds up the RIAN. In his act of happiness, CHRIS drops the COIN. The COIN whirred and shines across the stained floor. CHRIS’ face is red from cursing loudly.
CHRIS drops to the FLOOR in a commando roll, and chase after the COIN. On reaching the COIN, he accidentally knocks it and causes it to change direction. Rolling towards the DRAIN in the middle of the FLOOR. Finally falling in the DRAIN, with the sound of ping, ping, ping, and a final clang.
CHRIS is frantic. His face and actions show that he is thinking of an alternative action by looking around the room. Maybe he can find a useful object to help get the COIN out, so he checks under all of the DOORS to the toilets. CHRIS cannot see anything or anybody that may be of help. In a look of severe anxiety, CHRIS starts to undo his belt and unzip his fly.
Camera angle is showing the back of CHRIS. CHRIS is relieving himself in the drain. The sound of running water is heard and CHRIS cries out in pure relief.
Cut to:
Enter the CUSTOMER with the sparkling red HAT. The CUSTOMER doesn’t realise what CHRIS is doing, until he turns around. He sees CHRIS urinating into the drain. The CUSTOMER has a horrified look on his face, as he steps towards CHRIS, he pulls a POLICE BADGE from his POCKET.


Sister Philomene Tiernan

My mother told me last night (I don’t have television) of the tragic death of Sister Philomene Tiernan.  Sister Philomene was on board flight MH17.  She was much loved, spiritual and strong woman whom was a staff member at my sister school Kincoppal-Rose Bay School (Society of the Sacred Heart) and will be sadly missed by many.

The Sydney Morning Herald ( said, Sister Philomene Tiernan, “was returning home after attending a conference in Britain, a theology course in Ireland and a spiritual retreat in Burgandy, France.

The Kensington resident had also used the trip to visit Paris’ St Francis Xavier Church where Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart is buried.  Sister Tiernan was a Sister of the Sacred Heart.”

There will be a memorial for Sister Philomene in Brisbane at Stuaratholme School in the near future.  For further information:

The lone man

Two days ago, I was at home doing my housework and listening to the radio. The twelve o clock news revealed “a bad accident at Lota.” The idea of a “bad accident” made me shiver as I lost someone special to me twenty years ago to a “bad accident.”

Yesterday, I drove past the crash scene (just two hundred meters from my house) several times during the day. In the morning, I noticed a lone man just sitting there with his head down, I drove past again and the lone man was still there. In the afternoon, he was still sitting there.


I pulled over, got out of my car, walked over to him and said, “You don’t know me but I couldn’t help noticing that you are in pain. Can I hug you?”

The lone man said, “I just miss him so much.”

I hugged him and he wept (and of course I teared up as well).

After a few moments, the lone man said, “thank you very much, people in this neighborhood have been so kind to me.”

I told him that I know what he is going through and touched his shoulder and left him to his personal grief.

The lone man's grieving spot. Photography by Julie-Ann Ellis
The lone man’s grieving spot.
Photography by Julie-Ann Ellis

Queensland Police have stated:
Fatal Crash, Lota
July 23, 2014 at 9.56pm
A 26-year-old Robina man has died following a single vehicle crash earlier today.
At around 10.55am, police were called to the Esplanade at Lota following reports a motorcycle had lost control and crashed.
The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

For once, I was not thinking about myself or my little world. I don’t know if I made an impact on the lone man but I truly hope that eased his burden, if only for just a moment.

Reflective Essay of my Journalism Internship

This Reflective Essay was written in October 2006 and refers to my previous blogs Evaluation ( and Tattu TV (

As a student journalist in my first job placement, I will discuss the role as researcher for – a television program (Briz 31, Wednesday, 8.30 pm & Sunday 3.30 pm) that aims to promote Brisbane’s emerging performing artists. While learning progressively throughout the previous five months, I created the position of researcher for the gig guides myself.
Journalists and other media professionals face the challenge of adapting to the skill requirements of the new technologies while maintaining or improving their professional and ethical values. (Henningham 2000: 295)

The position as researcher required me to gather a great deal of information, and I usually spent a large amount of time on the internet. Generally, websites were checked to confirm the information I previously gathered from other sources. I progressed in my internet capabilities and became quite efficient in retrieving information of any kind, but specifically current events in Brisbane.
White (1996: 59) confirms, “The art of basic news research is knowing where to find the information you need – quickly.”
In addition to the the internet, I collected information from sources such as; billboards located in Brisbane City and The Valley, pamphlets from the Brisbane City Council Tourist Information located in the Brisbane City Mall, pamphlets and street press mags from music stores and cafes around the Brisbane metropolitan region, information was also collected from newspapers such as The Courier Mail and The Wynnum Herald. In short, I targeted material that may have advertised events in Brisbane.
Whilst undertaking the skills required of my role, I was aware of the professional and ethical values of a journalist and endeavored to put them into practice. When I communicated with people through the internet, face to face or on the telephone, I portrayed myself in a positive manner and always carried out my tasks professionally. the skills involved while carrying out the above tasks were: basic manners, asking relevant questions, listening, note taking and checking that all facts were correct.
Furthermore, it was essential that I was concious of the MEAA/AJA Code of Ethics (Tanner 2005: 35), – not just in my internet use but throughout the entire conduct of my role in the position hed at and beyond, in my journalistic career.

Tanner et. al. (Tanner 2005: 2) reiterates;
Ethics is not an optional add-on to the practice of journalism, but actually underpins that practice. Whether journalists ultimately opt to act ethically or not, they will nevertheless wrestle daily with their consciences in deciding what path to follow about the rights and wrongs of what they are doing. This is because journalists are not independent operators. They serve a variety of masters ranging from the general public to, more immediately, their editorial supervisors and the company they work for.

The information I gathered then had to be sorted, any event over a week and a half away was to be used. It was necessary that the events I chose for the gig guides were colorful and diverse in nature, for example, The Guide (music) – a jazz gig, a pop gig, a punk gig, a rock gig, a music festival, etc. Even if I had heard of the band (event and so on), I still needed to check that they were in fact from Brisbane, or at least from Australian and not too “mainstream” so that it was in keeping with the cultural direction of the program.
The database I created, consisted of; three word documents (Music, Arts, and All-Ages); each of these were divided into sub sections – dates (e.g., Episode 18 – events between 2nd and 8th of November) , each date corresponded with the airing of the program. Firstly, I collated the information and placed it into the relevant sub-headings (Music, Arts, and All-Ages) and secondly, the information was placed into the relevant date sub-headings. After I had put all of the information I gathered – from the last week – into the database, I cut and pasted it into a new document that could be passed on to the rest of the crew, along with the script.
The new document of the gig guides was primarily a table; if had two columns; the rights side of the table was sub-divided into What, When, Where, Wallet (cost), Website information, and the left side of the table was for the script. It was presented clearly and concisely which allowed for easier reading by all staff. Additionally, I continued this role after the university semester was completed.

Compared with traditional paper chases, the ease and speed of electronic access to documents is astonishing. In the past, reporters may have faced a veritable ware hows full of pages of paper-based information whose sheer volume deterred serious probing. But databases, keywords searches, and cross-referencing assist journalists not only in quickly gathering information but also in interpreting what it means. (Conley & Lamble 2006: 348)

I have been with since June this year (2006) and that time I have created my own position within the organisation. Within the role as researcher, I established the routine task of organisation carried out and each week, I have been expected to do so, independently and resourcefully. Indeed, the role I played and tasks I carried out at varied greatly from week to week. i enjoyed this variety; I saw them as an opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills while learning a new area of the television industry.
My attitude of being never afraid to ask a question, enabled me to pick up other tasks with relative ease and I often helped direct or produce segments for I was willing to do or learn anything that would aid in my contribution to the organisation (as well as my own knowledge and experience). The various tasks I performed, were: researcher, scriptwriter, runner, interviewer, audio, secretary and liaison.
I have noted that toward the end of the period with, my colleagues demonstrated their confidence in myself by deferring to my opinion on a number of occasions. I am a team player and enjoyed the responsibility of making significant decisions while maintaining the ethical standards expected. I learnt many valuable practical skills through this position and am absolutely thrilled and grateful for the opportunity.


Conley, David & Stephen Lamble. (2006), The Daily Miracle: An introduction to Journalism. Oxford University Press: South Melbourne, Victoria.
Henningham, John. ed. (2000), Institutions in Australian Society. Oxford University Press: South Melbourne, Victoria.
Tanner, Stephen. (2005), Journalism Ethics at Work. Pearson Education Australia: Frenchs Forest, New South Wales.
White, Sally. (1996), Reporting in Australia. macMillan Education Australia Pty Ltd: South Yarra, victoria.