A Week in the Life Of: Lindy Morrison OAM

Photo by Tony Mott

With decades of experience behind her, Lindy Morrison OAM has certainly made her mark in the Australian Music Industry, and now she joins us for a Week in the Life Of!

If you’re curious as to what the OAM stands for after her name, it is a Medal of the Order. This medal recognises Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service. Lindy was awarded the medal in 2013, after being recognised for her service to the Australian music industry as not only a performer, but advocate too. As well as that, she was also awarded the Ted Alberts award in 2014 from APRA for outstanding services to Australian Music. 

Lindy isn’t just in the music industry, she actively works as a social worker as well. She is part of the Australian Association of Social Workers and applies her knowledge into her day job as the National Welfare Coordinator for Support Act, where she has been working for the past 20 years. Lindy completed her Bachelor of Social Work in 1972. Towards the end of her degree, Lindy was appointed full time work as an Aboriginal Field Officer for the Aboriginal Legal Service. While working in this position, she took up drums, which then as the years went on, progressed into a career. Lindy played in multiple bands, the most well known being The Go Betweens

Over to you, Lindy!

1. A job description in your own words

I’ll start with Support Act first because I’m the national welfare coordinator for them. Post COVID, it’s been a really huge job because I used to work on my own, now I’m managing a team of six social workers and we’re distributing grants in the payment of bills to music workers, crew and artists who have been impacted by COVID so obviously I’m really busy. Most days I’m looking at the applications when they come in to make sure they’re eligible, if they are not eligible I just send a note back to the person who applied explaining exactly why they are not eligible and to reapply. Then I distribute those to the social workers and wait for their reports with recommendations about how to spend the grant – most people choose rent. That’s pretty much what I do with that work.

My other work is of course playing drums. I’ve been working with Alex the Astronaut recently, so I’ve been rehearsing and performing with her. We did a Like a Version last week, that was really fun and it’s actually quite hard work, it’s not as easy as you think. I got there at 7:30am with the kit and it really wasn’t until 10:30 that it was mic’d up. They’re incredibly thorough, it’s an amazing team of people, doing the sound and visuals, it’s quite a lot of people all working together. Of course being the drummer, you’re on the floor for the longest because there is so much to be set up around a kit. But it was great, it was just a really exciting day and I really enjoyed it.

I’m not always thinking about the drums, the other thing that I do which is kind of interesting, is that I sit on the board of PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited). I represent recording artists, and PPCA is the collection society for the licensees for the copyright in the sound recording. So that’s been an elected position by recording artists in Australia. I’ve sat on that board for over 20 years, and this will probably be my last term because it’s time I moved on I realise. It’s been an extraordinary experience sitting on the copyright board.

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2. A brief daily journal over a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)

During COVID I am on the computer by 7am. I work 25 hours a week with Support Act. Everyday I’m working from 7am to about midday, I pick up a bit more in the afternoon. In the afternoon I’ll do drum practice. I also have to oversee Go Betweens accounting so I might do a bit of that. I listen to music that I might have to rehearse, I’ll practice what I have to rehearse. Most nights, during COVID, I’m in bed and asleep by 9:30pm. So I have a very tight life during COVID. 

3. Challenges and accomplishments in your week

I suppose the challenge would be to keep delivering funds to music workers in need, and the accomplishments is that we do get our grants to music workers in need. 

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4.  Highlights of the week (pros of the job)

I really enjoy working with other social workers. I was on my own for so many years, about 20 years or so working as a social worker on my own, without other social workers. To now have a lot of social workers working around me, I just find it so affirming and so encouraging and so supportive because we all do think the same. In the past I’ve often felt that I was on my own in discussions if I had a point of view that no one else had. Now I find that other people agree with my point of view, so that makes me feel good. 

5. Lowlights of the week (cons of the job)

The lowlight is when you find somebody ineligible and they get really angry at you and can be really mean. It’s completely out of my control, we are incredibly flexible but sometimes people are not able to provide the right material. We’re pretty broad minded, people have to work in the industry professionally for three years and their income has to be less than their expenses. People make mistakes all the time about their expenses and are not aware of what they spend. Sometimes applications come in, and I know they are struggling, but they haven’t been able to show me that on paper, so I just explain to them, “Look have another look, you’ve forgotten stuff. You know you’re struggling, you’re living on nothing, so have another look”. So yeah I mean, we’re pretty generous. 

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6.  Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field

It’s very specialised working with the music industry. It’s a bit of a tricky question because I’m not quite sure whether to take the social work side of that or the music industry side of it, because it’s the combination of the two that makes it work. 

I guess what I’d say to people is, if you choose an industry to work in, then think about all the different aspects you can work in in that industry. It particularly works as you get older because you need to broaden out in the industry to keep in work, and I see that with a lot of older musicians. There are many different roles they cover in the industry, and because they’ve been able to as they get older, just spread, moving into other jobs to support their music. So always keep your eyes open in the industry for other areas you can work, because every other area that you work teaches you something, and will always benefit every part of your career, every aspect of it. 

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