Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Australia Zoo welcomes two red panda cubs

<p dir="ltr">Australia Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two red panda cubs, the first to be born at the Queensland-based facility run by the Irwin family.</p> <p dir="ltr">Announcing their birth on social media, the zoo posted, “Our Australia Zoo family has gotten a little bigger - Introducing our 2 red panda cubs! These two adorable fluff balls are enjoying lots of snuggles from their mama. This is a first for us and a proud moment to be giving this critically endangered species a helping hand.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Our <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AustraliaZoo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AustraliaZoo</a> family has gotten a little bigger - Introducing our 2 red panda cubs❤️ These two adorable fluff balls are enjoying lots of snuggles from their mama. This is a first for us and a proud moment to be giving this critically endangered species a helping hand. <a href="https://t.co/sK1w9WKb8I">pic.twitter.com/sK1w9WKb8I</a></p> — Australia Zoo (@AustraliaZoo) <a href="https://twitter.com/AustraliaZoo/status/1481593303347138562?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 13, 2022</a></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Red pandas are native to the high-altitude forests of Nepal, Burma, and China, and they usually give birth in early winter. They are considered endangered, largely as a result of habitat destruction and poaching.</p> <p dir="ltr">The zoo has also recently welcomed three cassowary chicks, and one of them, Fergo, has already become good friends with Bindi Irwin’s daughter, Grace. Irwin posted a photo on Instagram of the adorable pair last month, writing, “Two cute chickies! Meet Grace’s new best friend, Fergo, the cassowary chick. They absolutely love each other! We are so proud of our breeding program to protect this endangered species.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CXrfhLVvt1c/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CXrfhLVvt1c/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Irwin also celebrated the arrival of the red panda cubs, posting several photos of them with their mum on Instagram, and writing, “Welcoming the two sweetest bundles of fluff to our family. We are incredibly proud to be part of a breeding program for this critically endangered species.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CYq1lQtBz_5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CYq1lQtBz_5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Twitter</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Queen Elizabeth anxious over the release of Prince Harry's book

<p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p>Queen Elizabeth is understood to be feeling “a lot of anxiety” around the publication of her grandson Prince Harry’s memoir, coming later this year.</p> <p>Last year Prince Harry revealed he was writing a tell-all book about his life, saying it would be an “accurate and wholly truthful” account of his royal upbringing. The Duke of Sussex said it would be about “the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned” from his life so far.</p> <p>The book will come in the wake of a rift between Harry and his wife Meghan, and the rest of the royal family following their controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey last year.</p> <p>In it, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a number of explosive claims, including allegations of racism and a lack of appropriate mental health support from the rest of the Royal Family.</p> <p>Prince Harry also claimed his brother<span> </span>Prince William, and father<span> </span>Prince Charles, were “trapped” inside the so-called “Firm”, and by moving away from the royal family he wanted to “break the cycle of pain and suffering.”</p> <p>Royal commentator and biographer Katie Nicholl has told Closer magazine that the book is causing a lot of concern for Queen Elizabeth, aged 95.</p> <p>“The book will no doubt be full of more intimate and shocking revelations,” Nicholl said.</p> <p>“Harry wouldn’t have got a multi-million pound advance without promising some juicy details.</p> <p>“There’ll be more shocking claims to come, perhaps their biggest yet.</p> <p>“I’m sure the Queen has a lot of anxiety over that and the royals will be braced for more bombshells.”</p> <p>Prince Harry’s memoir will be the first of a number of books published by the Duke and Duchess after they signed a lucrative deal with Penguin Random House.</p> <p>The book is expected to be available later this year, most likely in the Australian spring.</p> <p>The Queen’s former footman, Paul Burrell, told<span> </span><em>Closer</em><span> </span>it was not a good time for such a book to come out.</p> <p>“This should be a wonderful year for the Queen, and there’s no doubt she’ll be looking forward to the Jubilee enormously,” he said.</p> <p>“But I’m sure she’s also very aware of what’s in store.</p> <p>“The year will be bookended by two very difficult events for her.</p> <p>“In January, we have all the drama surrounding Prince Andrew and, towards the end of the year, we’ll have Harry’s memoir, no doubt with more intimate bombshells.</p> <p>“I’m sure she’ll be very apprehensive about the year ahead, and other royals – especially William and Kate – will step up to support her more than ever.”</p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Letter from soldier delivered to widow after 76 years

<p>After 76 long years, a heartfelt letter form the battlefield has finally been delivered.</p> <p>Angelina Gonsalves received the letter in an unexpected delivery form the US Postal Service, which was written by her late husband while he was deployed overseas in 1945.</p> <p>Written by 22-year-old Sergeant John Gonsalves while stationed in Germany, the soldier wrote the letter to his mother to check in on his family and let them know he was believed to be coming home to Massachusetts soon.</p> <p>The letter was dated December 6th 1945, and was never delivered to his mother.</p> <p>Instead, it was delivered to his widow 76 years and three days later.</p> <p>"I got to read it and it was wonderful," Angelina Gonsalves, of Woburn, Massachusetts, told CNN on Wednesday. "It is in really good condition. I was amazed by that myself."</p> <p>When John wrote the letter, he and Angelina has not yet met. </p> <p>The pair married in 1953, eight years after the war, and had five sons together, before John died in 2015 at age 92. </p> <p>In the two page letter to his mother, who shared the same name as his wife, John discusses the "lousy" options for food and the horrible winter weather, claiming where he was stationed has not seen the sun in weeks. </p> <p>He closes the letter by sending love to his family, before signing and sealing the note and attaching a six cent stamp. </p> <p>"It was a joy to see her face light up reading his words," Brian Gonsalves, Angelina and John's son, told CNN.</p> <p>"To be able to see her read something he wrote and look back at that history, it's something she'll always have now."</p> <p>It is unclear where the letter had been hiding all this time, but it was found at the USPS Pittsburgh processing centre late last year. </p> <p>Dedicated employees at the centre understood the importance of the late soldier's letter, and started to track down John's next of kin to deliver the piece of history. </p> <p>"We are aware of the passing of your husband in 2015 (our condolences)," reads a letter from the USPS, which was sent with John's letter.</p> <p>"By virtue of some dedicated sleuth work by postal employees at this facility, we were able to determine your address, hence this letter delivery to you, albeit 76 years delayed. Due to the age and significance to your family history, delivering this letter was of utmost importance to us."</p> <p>The letter was delivered to Angelina just before Christmas, which her son said made the perfect gift. </p> <p>"It felt like he came back for the holiday season," he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: CNN</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Understanding how animals become infected with COVID-19 can help control the pandemic

<p>When veterinarians at the Antwerp Zoo noticed <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/05/hippos-test-positive-covid-antwerp-zoo-belgium">two hippopotamuses with runny noses</a>, they didn’t just offer them tissues to blow their noses. They administered tests, which came back positive for COVID-19, the worldwide virus that has plagued the globe.</p> <p>Since the start of the global pandemic almost two years ago, humans have not been the only species to contract the COVID-19 virus. Although the Belgian hippos were the first of their species to contract the virus, it has spread throughout the entire animal kingdom.</p> <p>COVID-19 has revealed how health connects humans, animals and the environment — <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/one-health">the approach that considers these relationships and connections is known as “One Health.”</a></p> <p>Responding to the pandemic has been a model of One Health in action. Veterinarians, physicians and environmental experts have needed to collaborate to determine which <a href="https://ovc.uoguelph.ca/news/node/632">species are susceptible to better understand how the COVID-19 virus spreads</a>.</p> <h2>Infected pets</h2> <p>In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic — if you can remember that far back — alarming reports of pets infected with the COVID-19 virus <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/canine-corner/202003/unfounded-fears-dogs-can-spread-covid-19-can-cause-harm">raised unfounded fears regarding the potential exposure and risk of viral infections</a>.</p> <p>In April 2020, two cats from different households in different parts of New York state became <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/s0422-covid-19-cats-NYC.html">the first domestic cats in America to contract the COVID-19 virus</a>, followed several months later by the <a href="https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/cat-becomes-first-animal-in-u-k-to-test-positive-for-covid-19-1.5040581">first positive British cat</a>.</p> <p>And although the first American dog to test positive for the COVID-19 virus died within a few months, <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/first-dog-to-test-positive-for-covid-in-us-dies">his symptoms indicated he likely had cancer</a>, suggesting that the virus may not have been the sole cause of his death. Although confirmed COVID-19 in pets is relatively uncommon, dogs and cats are at risk from <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/615304">catching the virus</a> from an infected household member.</p> <p>Conversely, however, and to great relief, overwhelming agreement has <a href="https://www.bva.co.uk/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions/#frequently-asked-questions-owners">emerged among major</a> <a href="https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/coronavirus-covid-19">veterinary societies</a> that <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19/sars-cov-2-animals-including-pets">the risk of humans</a> contracting COVID-19 <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/covid-19/pets.html">from their dogs and cats</a> is extremely low.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KDne4Zm4HBE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">A VICE report on COVID-19 and pets.</span></p> <p>Interestingly, an article in <em>Scientific American</em> reported on studies that showed that of the dogs and cats who lived in a household with a positive family member, <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/people-with-covid-often-infect-their-pets/">one of every five of the pets had the virus, though symptoms were relatively mild</a>.</p> <p>Currently, there is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abg2296">no need for dogs and cats to be vaccinated</a>, but <a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/8423409/covid-19-vaccine-animals-zoos/">pharmaceutical representatives are confident</a> in their ability to readily produce a vaccine to protect pets.</p> <h2>Animals at risk</h2> <p>At the beginning of this pandemic, researchers were eager to discover the extent to which COVID-19 was transmittable from animals to humans, given the potential for animals to “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-01574-4">spark new outbreaks</a>.”</p> <p>Early on, at least seven big cats — lions and tigers — at the Bronx Zoo <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/tiger-coronavirus-covid19-positive-test-bronx-zoo">tested positive for COVID-19</a>. By the end of 2021, more than 300 animals representing 15 different species contracted COVID-19, <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/more-animal-species-are-getting-covid-19-for-the-first-time">including hyenas, lions, tigers, snow leopards, gorillas, otters and deer</a>.</p> <p>Recently, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/08/snow-leopard-dies-covid-19-illinois-zoo">four snow leopards who contracted the disease</a> from humans have died in American zoos.</p> <p>Risks remain elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Captive gorillas, for instance, <a href="https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/nearly-all-gorillas-at-atlanta-s-zoo-have-contracted-covid-19-1.5586112">are highly susceptible to COVID-19</a>. Were the disease to spread to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abc5635">gorillas in the wild</a>, it would likely contribute to the depletion of the <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/9404/136250858">critically endangered species</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439954/original/file-20220110-23-1a86u4f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439954/original/file-20220110-23-1a86u4f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="an adult lowland gorilla and two smaller ones in an enclosure" /></a> <span class="caption">Nearly all of Zoo Atlanta’s Western lowland gorillas tested positive for the COVID-19 Delta variant in September 2021 after catching it from a zoo staff worker.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(AP Photo/Ron Harris)</span></span></p> <h2>Animal vaccines</h2> <p>If humans are not contracting COVID-19 from animals, why are scientists worried? After all, pets are more at risk from infected humans, and individuals who work closely with wild animals take appropriate precautions to prevent transmission. However, it is important to remember that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-00531-z">animals are the likely source of the current pandemic</a>: bats, in particular, carry a number of <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51496830">different coronavirus strains and are considered by many as the original carriers of SARS-CoV-2</a>, the virus that causes COVID-19.</p> <p>The transmission of the COVID-19 virus between humans and animals has been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abe5901">found in minks</a>, a phenomenon that spread within <a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/mink-covid-virus-mutation/">mink farms in the United States and Europe</a>. As a result, millions of minks have since been culled and there have been calls for banning mink farming.</p> <p>The most recent solution to human-animal transmission has been developing COVID-19 vaccines for animals. Because zoos are responsible for “<a href="https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/the-rise-of-covid-19-vaccines-for-animals-69503">often rare and high-value animals</a>,” some have begun to <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/bears-baboons-tigers-are-getting-covid-vaccines-at-zoos-across-the-us">vaccinate their residents</a>.</p> <h2>New viral diseases</h2> <p>There are concerns that <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/how-who-is-working-to-track-down-the-animal-reservoir-of-the-sars-cov-2-virus">the COVID-19 virus has the potential to remain undetected in an animal</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-00531-z">could mutate and become more infectious or dangerous to humans</a>.</p> <p>An estimated <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54246473">three of every four new infectious diseases in humans originated in animals</a> — and this continues to worry scientists. Researchers worry about “<a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-4685-GMB-2020-0355">zoonotic spillover</a>,” the movement of diseases between animals and humans, given the increased risk of “<a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.17269/s41997-020-00409-z">infectious agents capable of jumping the species barrier</a>.”</p> <p>The current pandemic has been called “<a href="https://impakter.com/coronavirus-china-one-health-solution/">a wake-up call</a>” for recognizing how the importance of One Health: a collaborative global vision committed to the health and well-being of humans, animals and the environment that can thwart future global health crises.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/173978/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/beth-daly-1224943">Beth Daly</a>, Associate Professor of Anthrozoology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-windsor-3044">University of Windsor</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/understanding-how-animals-become-infected-with-covid-19-can-help-control-the-pandemic-173978">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

COVID chaos has shed light on many issues in the Australian childcare sector. Here are 4 of them

<p>Thousands of families are without childcare as <a href="https://www.acecqa.gov.au/resources/national-registers/service-temp-closure-info">hundreds of services</a> have had to close due to a surge in COVID cases, while many more are running at reduced capacity. Many parents dread another <a href="https://theconversation.com/from-covid-control-to-chaos-what-now-for-australia-two-pathways-lie-before-us-174325">chaotic year</a> that may have them jugging <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2022/01/06/executive-functioning-is-much-harder-for-children-from-chaotic-households/">childcare and work</a> at home.</p> <p>The government <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-government-has-again-rescued-the-childcare-sector-from-collapse-but-short-term-fixes-still-leave-it-at-risk-166568">rescued the childcare sector</a> several times over the past two years – making services eligible for a portion of their pre-pandemic payments as families pulled their children out. But these measures were only temporary.</p> <p>The childcare system was already busting at the seams before COVID. I led an <a href="https://uneprofessions.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_38j3CdPsHnM8l81">international survey</a> in 2021, during the pandemic, in which early childhood educators’ gave ideas on how their government could support their work. In Australia, 51 educators participated.</p> <p>Here are four preexisting the issues that have <a href="https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/early-childhood-directors-are-carrying-an-exhausting-load-during-covid-19-even-beyond-major-outbreaks-research/">increased during the pandemic</a>.</p> <h2>1. Staff shortages</h2> <p>Currently, many childcare services are closed and others are operating at reduced capacity because staff are either sick with COVID or close contacts that need to isolate. But staffing problems plagued the sector well before the pandemic, with <a href="https://theconversation.com/early-childhood-educators-are-leaving-in-droves-here-are-3-ways-to-keep-them-and-attract-more-153187">more than a 30% staff turnover</a>.</p> <p>The agency responsible for early childhood education and care, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), released its <a href="https://www.acecqa.gov.au/national-workforce-strategy">National Workforce Strategy</a> in 2021. It revealed 25% of educators have been at their service for less than a year. This high turnover harms relationships with children who need continuity.</p> <p>In a 2021 <a href="https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/73-of-early-educators-plan-to-leave-the-sector-within-three-years/">survey of almost 4,000 Australian educators</a>, 73% said they planned to leave their job within three years. The <a href="https://bigsteps.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Exhausted-undervalued-and-leaving.pdf">reasons</a> included low pay, overwork and being undervalued.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440392/original/file-20220112-23-1qok3m4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440392/original/file-20220112-23-1qok3m4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Child pouring out sand." /></a> <span class="caption">73% of early childhood educators plan to leave the profession.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/z02yFSgVRbA" class="source">Markus Spiske/Unsplash</a></span></p> <p>Women make up <a href="https://www.acecqa.gov.au/national-workforce-strategy">91% the early childhood education and care workforce</a>. Pay is low in traditionally female occupations, and many educators leave simply because they <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022185618800351">cannot afford to stay</a>.</p> <p>ACECQA has fast tracked <a href="https://www.acecqa.gov.au/qualifications/requirements/children-preschool-age-or-under/recognition-as-an-equivalent-early-childhood-teacher">quick conversions</a> for primary and secondary school teachers into early childhood education, despite large and important differences in teaching philosophies.</p> <p>But there is unlikely to be a stampede to become one of Australia’s <a href="https://au.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/lowest-paid-jobs-in-australia">13th lowest paid workers</a>, just above a housekeeper. The national average salary for a childcare worker is A$29.63 per hour, but many earn as little as <a href="https://www.payscale.com/research/AU/Job=Childcare_Worker/Hourly_Rate">A$23.50</a>. This is in comparison to an average school teacher who earns <a href="https://www.payscale.com/research/AU/Job=Primary_School_Teacher/Salary">A$33.65</a> per hour.</p> <p>One educator in our study called for</p> <blockquote> <p>recognition of the equal value of early childhood educators with primary school teachers, especially for university-trained teachers, who experience a huge pay gap.</p> </blockquote> <p>Casualisation in the sector is another issue leading to high turnover. As part of government COVID rescue packages, permanent staff could receive JobKeeper payments, but casual staff at childcare services were not eligible. Many <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2021/08/05/hypervigilance-is-wearing-ecec-educators-down-as-the-pandemic-continues/">casual staff left</a> the sector.</p> <p>Government oversight is needed but there is always confusion about which government is responsible. Then there are also differences between community based and private services.</p> <h2>2. Nobody is responsible for the sector</h2> <p>Australia has one of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/quality-childcare-has-become-a-necessity-for-australian-families-and-for-society-its-time-the-government-paid-up-131748">highest levels</a> of privatisation in early childhood education in the world. This makes it harder for governments to control casualisation. However, the government sets the award wages.</p> <p>In a recent speech to the National Press Club, New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-08/perrottet-bid-to-take-over-childcare-from-commonwealth/100681344">said</a> he wanted states and territories to be able to take over responsibility for childcare from the federal government. This was part of his plan for “reform for a postpandemic world” which he said should be “state led, not Commonwealth led”.</p> <p>The federal government funds childcare, through subsidies, but providers are largely private and set their own fees. The state and territory governments fund community preschools.</p> <p>The federal government is responsible for the sector’s standards, frameworks and curricula, but the state and territory governments regulate them. This messy web makes it more difficult to reform the sector and manage costs for families.</p> <p>One level of government taking responsibility for childcare and preschool services will go some way to fixing the problems.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FIef0mCk7Ao?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet wants the states to take over responsibility for childcare.</span></p> <h2>3. Too much paperwork</h2> <p>In <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2021/07/26/acecqa-shares-findings-from-national-workforce-strategy-as-recruiting-challenges-persist/">ACECQA’s survey</a>, educators blamed <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2043610615597154">administrative overload</a> as one of the <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2021/07/26/acecqa-shares-findings-from-national-workforce-strategy-as-recruiting-challenges-persist/">three main reasons</a> they wanted to leave the profession.</p> <p>The increasing paperwork came as governments created <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=2ahUKEwi86rWw4Jv1AhUTS2wGHSpPD7MQFnoECCYQAQ&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aasw.asn.au%2Fdocument%2Fitem%2F936&amp;usg=AOvVaw0tkTyvOjf6LvcG5WzaJeYG">managerial systems</a> disguised as <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02680939.2017.1352032">quality assurance</a>, to try to regulate the sector.</p> <p>Now, educators must <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02680939.2014.924561">collect big data</a> every day, including <a href="https://bigsteps.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Exhausted-undervalued-and-leaving.pdf">mountains of checklists</a> for regulation and to document children’s learning. This extra workload <a href="https://educationhq.com/news/managerialism-has-taken-over-in-early-childhood-education-109737/">reduces time</a> spent on quality interactions. It also makes <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2021/10/25/bound-for-burnout-early-childhood-educators-are-swimming-against-a-gendered-micromanaged-tide/">educators feel micromanaged</a>, affecting their <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2020.1836583">identity and confidence</a>.</p> <p>Echoing the <a href="https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/childcare/report/childcare-overview.pdf">Productivity Commission’s findings</a> in 2014, educators in our study said governments must “reduce paperwork”, which they described as “ridiculous”, “complex”, “indecipherable”, “frustrating” and “random”. As one educator said: “we need some paperwork, but we also need to be there for the children”.</p> <p>Over 60% felt frustrated three or more times a week. Nearly 40% of educators said the paperwork required for accreditation compliance (assessment and rating) <a href="https://educationhq.com/news/managerialism-has-taken-over-in-early-childhood-education-109737/">decreased the time</a> they spent with children.</p> <h2>4. High burnout, low morale</h2> <p>Despite being an essential worker, <a href="https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/early-childhood-directors-are-carrying-an-exhausting-load-during-covid-19-even-beyond-major-outbreaks-research/">educators are undervalued</a>, struggling for <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/18369391211050165">recognition</a>. Their strengths <a href="https://www.iejee.com/index.php/IEJEE/article/view/1447/532">are not mentioned</a> in <a href="https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/belonging_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia.pdf">curriculum</a> documents.</p> <p>Overwork is the <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2021/07/26/acecqa-shares-findings-from-national-workforce-strategy-as-recruiting-challenges-persist/">second reason</a> educators want to leave. Our study showed that during the accreditation period, when they need to fill out regulation requirement documents, 50% of staff reported working unpaid hours. <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2021/09/14/accreditation-effects-on-early-childhood-educator-morale/">Staff morale</a> also suffers during accreditation.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440556/original/file-20220112-21-1sgijcd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440556/original/file-20220112-21-1sgijcd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Childcare worker talking to kids." /></a> <span class="caption">Despite doing essential work, childcare workers are burnt out and suffer from low morale.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/preschool-teacher-talking-group-children-sitting-1214667421" class="source">Shutterstock</a></span></p> <p>During the pandemic, educators reported an <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/18369391211040940">increased burden</a> with extra time needed for cleaning, health requirements, communicating with parents, rearranging work plans and spaces, caring for staff, and constant <a href="https://thesector.com.au/2021/08/05/hypervigilance-is-wearing-ecec-educators-down-as-the-pandemic-continues/">hypervigilance</a>.</p> <p>One said, “I would prefer to work somewhere for the same or similar wage with less stress and take-home work”.</p> <p>Burnout is the <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13158-020-00264-6">third reason</a> educators want to leave. “The demand on educators is too high. The pressure is intense”, one told us.</p> <p>The National Workforce Strategy recommends directors give educators links to well-being services and strategies. While this is well-meaning, it is simplistic given the level of crisis.</p> <p>For example, we found 70% of educators felt overtired and 60% felt overwhelmed three or more times in the last week.</p> <p>Recognition of childcare as an <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/18369391211040940">essential service</a> – with assured funding provision and a more streamlined level of government regulation – is key to reforming the sector’s status, and educators’ pay.</p> <p>The sector is in crisis, so we need to stop talking about ideas to change it and take action towards <a href="https://thrivebyfive.org.au/">total reform</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/174404/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marg-rogers-867368">Marg Rogers</a>, Senior Lecturer, Early Childhood Education, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-chaos-has-shed-light-on-many-issues-in-the-australian-childcare-sector-here-are-4-of-them-174404">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Pixabay</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Mum outraged after nine-year-old daughter given alcohol at a sleepover

<p dir="ltr">A British mum has taken to the internet to vent her frustrations after her daughter was given alcohol at a sleepover without her permission.</p> <p dir="ltr">Susan wrote on the Netmums forum about a birthday sleepover her nine-year-old daughter attended for a friend’s 10th birthday. She wrote, "My daughter attended a 10th birthday sleepover with five girls (mix of nine and 10 year old's) from school. I'm very friendly with all the mums. They had a great time and my daughter came back exhausted but in good spirits.</p> <p dir="ltr">“During the day she told me bits and bobs of what they got up to and it all sounded lovely until she mentioned that she tried a snowball (Advocaat and lemonade) and I'm furious.</p> <p dir="ltr">"At home she's had the odd sip of bucks fizz (champagne and orange juice) with me and my husband, but the mum has given my child (and other children) some alcohol without my permission. Worst of all my daughter thought it was her fault and got [very] upset."</p> <p dir="ltr">The post attracted a lot of attention, with most commenters agreeing that Susan was right to be angry, with some even calling it child abuse and urging her to call the police or child protective services. One commenter wrote, "I agree that this was not on at all! At the very least, if she was planning on letting them try the snowball she should have checked with the parents first that it was OK."</p> <p dir="ltr">Another mum shared her own experience in a similar situation, saying, "I'd also be absolutely livid. I've been there with my 14-year-old daughter. If there's alcohol involved the parents' permission should be obtained. I'd not be letting my child near that house again as trust would be completely shattered."</p> <p dir="ltr">Others said they couldn’t see the issue as she had given her daughter alcohol in her own home, with one commenter saying, "I think if she is allowed a bucks fizz at home then a little snowball is not really that bad? You need to talk to your daughter about drinking alcohol and what is allowed and what isn't.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In the UK, it is against the law to give children alcohol at home if they are under the age of five. That means that on private premises like homes, children aged five to 16 are allowed to consume alcohol, although<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/alcohol-and-the-law/the-law-on-alcohol-and-under-18s" target="_blank">Drinkaware</a><span> </span>and the Chief Medical Officers advise against it.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: hobo_018</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

New birthday snaps of Crown Princess Mary's youngest children

<p dir="ltr">The Danish Royal Family have released new photos of Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, the youngest children of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, to mark their 11th birthday, which they celebrated over the weekend.</p> <p dir="ltr">The photos were taken by Mary herself, and show the children in jeans and winter coats. In some of the photos, the twins are holding matching puppies. In addition to the photos of the pair together, there are portrait photos of each child on their own.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CYd2zWlgsFg/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CYd2zWlgsFg/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by DET DANSKE KONGEHUS 🇩🇰 (@detdanskekongehus)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">The photos were posted to the family’s Instagram account, accompanied by the caption, “On the occasion of their birthday, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess have shared new photos of their two youngest children - as well as the family’s two small and lively puppies.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The children celebrated their birthday privately with their family over the weekend, and their birthday celebrations came just a week before the celebration of their grandmother’s 50th year on the Danish throne.</p> <p dir="ltr">One fan commented, “A mother of twins is pleased to see that you are making two posts and not a joint one. They each deserve theirs - so do all the others.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The twins were born in Copenhagen in 2011, and are Frederik and Mary’s youngest children. Their siblings are Prince Christian, 16, and Princess Isabella, 14.</p> <p dir="ltr">Just days ago, the couple posted to Instagram to announce the cancellation of a gala banquet at Rosenborg Castle on 4 February 2022 to celebrate Mary’s 50th birthday. The statement said that the couple hoped to be able to reschedule the celebrations for later in the year, while on the day, Mary will celebrate privately with family.</p> <p dir="ltr">The family lives in Copenhagen, at Frederik VIII’s Palace at Amalienborg. Vincent is fourth in line to the throne, while Josephine is fifth, Vincent having been born 26 minutes earlier than his sister.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Danish Royal House</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Terminally ill man graduates college alongside his granddaughter

<p>A grandfather-granddaughter duo from Texas have shared a heart-warming milestone together. </p> <p>Melanie Salazar, 23, and her grandfather Rene Neira, 88, have both graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) alongside each other. </p> <p>Rene first began his higher education in the 1950s, but when he fell in love and started a family, he was unable to finish his studies in the traditional four-year span. </p> <p>Throughout the years, Rene took part in online classes, but decided to re-enroll in college in 2016: the same year his granddaughter began her freshman year at the same school. </p> <p><span>"It just so happened that he wanted to go back to school again at the same time that I was starting." Melanie Salazar told <a rel="noopener" href="https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/04/us/grandfather-granddaughter-graduate-college-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a>. </span></p> <p><span>"It wasn't intentionally planned, but it just worked out that way that we were in school at the same time."</span></p> <p><span>"I didn't know that we would actually get to share that moment together," Melanie said.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CXW-XSZrxf9/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CXW-XSZrxf9/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Melanie Salazar ♡ (@melaniesalazara)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span>Melanie said she didn't share any classes with her grandfather due to their differing majors, but the pair would often meet up for lunches, study in the library or even carpool to campus together. </span></p> <p><span>Just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Rene suffered from a stroke and had to take medical leave from class. </span></p> <p><span>Unable to navigate the world of full-time online classes, Rene was only a few classes shy of completing his degree and his family rallied around him to get him the degree he has always wanted. </span></p> <p><span>"We, as his family, were able to advocate for him and request to see if there was any way that he could be recognised or honoured for all the work that he had done." Melanie told CNN.</span></p> <p><span>It wasn't until the week of graduation they found out he would be honoured.</span></p> <p><span>"It was definitely an early Christmas miracle that they were willing to recognize him." Salazar said.</span></p> <p><span>"When we walked past the curtains onto the stage, I was overcome with emotion and started to tear up because I didn't know that we would actually get to share that moment together." </span></p> <p><span>Salazar said, "I told him afterwards, 'You did it, grandpa! College is over!'"</span></p> <p><span>Melanie received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications, while Rene got a degree of recognition in economics. </span></p> <p><span>"It's never too late to go back to school." Salazar shares. "Whatever your circumstance, there's people that are ready and willing to help you follow your dreams."</span></p> <p><em>Image credits: Twitter @UTSA</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Pope labels couples choosing pets over children as selfish

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Pope Francis has called couples who have pets instead of children selfish while speaking to a general audience on Wednesday.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Pope also argued that forgoing parenthood "takes away our humanity" and poses risks to wider society.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He made the comments while speaking about Saint Joseph, Jesus' earthly father.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While lauding Joseph's decision to raise Jesus as "among the highest forms of love", the Pope veered onto the topics of adoption, orphaned children, and couples that opt for animals over children.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more", he </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.9news.com.au/world/opting-for-pets-over-children-is-selfish-and-takes-away-our-humanity-says-pope-francis/fc15279d-cfdb-4b58-85d0-5bdcef68bdfe" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one - but they have two dogs, two cats … yes, dogs and cats take the place of children.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Yes, it’s funny. I understand, but it is the reality. And this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity. And in this way civilisation becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children.”</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Dear Pope Francis I’m a catholic who chose dogs over children but I don’t consider myself selfish. Probably doing this over populated world a favour <a href="https://t.co/9AMFs2JS9p">pic.twitter.com/9AMFs2JS9p</a></p> — dominic dyer (@domdyer70) <a href="https://twitter.com/domdyer70/status/1479116896867794948?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 6, 2022</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though it may be surprising as the Pope is considered quite progressive, these comments echo the Catholic Church’s teachings about the importance of couples bearing or raising children.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Pope Frances said couples who cannot biologically have children should consider adoption.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them?” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption. But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His statements have since drawn criticism on social media, with some calling out his comments about childless couples while the church continues to face allegations of sexual abuse against children.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Worry about all those sexual abuse allegations against the church instead of childless people <a href="https://t.co/5ggoAJTpGr">pic.twitter.com/5ggoAJTpGr</a></p> — Enter The Void (@killl_the_rich) <a href="https://twitter.com/killl_the_rich/status/1478832192591695874?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 5, 2022</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Christian leader has made several controversial statements relating to animals in the past. He made similar comments about couples choosing pets over parenthood in 2014, while comments he made in 2016 that appeared to claim that animals go to heaven were analysed and later called into question.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, he has had plenty of positive interactions too, having been photographed petting dogs, holding birds, and carrying a lamb over his shoulders.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Bride goes viral for not wanting elderly guests at her wedding

<p dir="ltr">A bride has gone viral online after seeking advice regarding her wedding plans, namely her plan to issue a ban on all guests over the age of 70.</p> <p dir="ltr">The woman posted to the popular ‘Am I The A**hole’ subreddit, asking if she was in the wrong for not wanting elderly guests at her wedding for fear they might take some of the attention away from her.</p> <p dir="ltr">The ban on elderly guests would have included her grandparents, as well as her fiancé’s grandparents, and she revealed that she finds her fiancé’s grandmother Alzheimers’ Disease “really depressing”. She also expressed concerns that elderly guests might need a lot of care and attention that couldn’t be provided on the day.</p> <p dir="ltr">She wrote, “My fiancé and I decided that we don't want anyone over 70 at the wedding and are making a blanket rule so it's fair to everyone. I really don't want any of this to ruin our big day. I don't want his grandma shouting or making noise during the ceremony or my grandpa needing help and being a big distraction, and I feel like people are going to be paying a lot of attention to them instead of the wedding and the wedding couple.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think they would be bored and more comfortable at home anyway, and it's an opportunity for their caregivers to come out and relax and have fun without worrying about caregiving responsibilities for the evening. My fiancé is on board but the rest of my family is upset. AITA?”</p> <p dir="ltr">The majority of commenters were quick to criticise her blatant ageism, calling her “the worst” and warning her that her actions were going to hurt and offend a lot of people. One person wrote, “If my Cousin or sibling was getting married and tried to pull this crap I would 100% skip their wedding and take my grandparents out for dinner or something. And I’d implore my other family members to do the same.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another said, “This isn't you caring about their feelings over the look of the thing, this is you caring about the look of the thing over anyone's feelings. I'm sure your grandparents will be heartbroken you don't want them there.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Being over 70 is not the same as being under 10 - you can't exclude people just because they aren't able to do the cha cha slide. You are going to offend and hurt a lot of people.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Other commenters argued that it was no different to excluding children from weddings, telling the bride, “It’s your wedding and you’re allowed to invite whoever you want”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Several users felt that given how controversial the post was, it was bound to be fake, with one person writing, “This is 100% someone gathering fodder for the next argument over child-free weddings. Look at the way OP describes the elderly relatives...These are all the same reasons people don't want small children at their weddings, point-for-point. I don't think OP left out anything.” Another user agreed, saying, “That was my thought. They're setting up for an argument that if we can't ban old people from weddings, then child-free weddings shouldn't be allowed either.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: CareyHope</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

How hot is too hot? Here’s how to tell if your dog is suffering during the summer heat

<p>Hot weather can be dangerous to our canine friends. Humans can sweat all over our body, but dogs can only sweat on their paw pads, which is not much use when it comes to shedding body heat.</p> <p>So how hot is too hot to take your dog out? It depends on the dog and their individual risk factors (more on that in a minute). For me, 33℃ is where I start to consider whether or not to take my dogs outside, and try to think of cooler places we could visit.</p> <p>If they were older or heavier, I might not take them out at all on days over 30℃. Dogs can struggle on very humid days so I factor that in, too.</p> <p>Here’s what you need to know about how to care for your dog on a hot day.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437053/original/file-20211212-23-1o3loh4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437053/original/file-20211212-23-1o3loh4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="spoodle dog" /></a> <span class="caption">Dogs with long noses, like Fonzi, have more cooling structures.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Lucy Beaumont</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <h2>What are the risk factors?</h2> <p>A dog’s main cooling mechanism is panting, which draws air through the nasal cavity and the mouth and over the capillaries found there.</p> <p>This allows for evaporative cooling, just as sweat on our skin does, but it happens <em>inside</em> rather than outside. It’s also a much smaller surface area than our skin, so dogs are generally not as good at shedding body heat as humans.</p> <p>If the dog is overweight, they may have more trouble keeping cool than if they are lean.</p> <p>A dog with underlying health issues such as heart problems may also be at greater risk.</p> <p>Very young or old dogs may have more trouble with temperature regulation.</p> <p>Dogs that have had a chance to get used to warmer temperatures over a month or so are less susceptible to heat distress.</p> <p>Because some cooling occurs in the nasal cavities, dogs with short faces have fewer of these cooling structures and are more susceptible to heat distress.</p> <p>Dogs with long noses have more surface area for cooling in their nasal cavities, and are theoretically more resistant to heat distress as a result. But much depends on the individual dog and its history.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437054/original/file-20211212-13-1lcms43.JPG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437054/original/file-20211212-13-1lcms43.JPG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="labradoodle" /></a> <span class="caption">Dogs with thick coats, like Stella, may struggle to shed heat on a hot day.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Lucy Beaumont</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <h2>Your dog’s coat plays a role but should we shave them?</h2> <p>Larger or heavier-bodied dogs generally shed heat more slowly than smaller dogs, as is the case across the animal kingdom. For example, smaller penguin species tend to visit warmer climates, while larger penguin species stay in colder climates.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437114/original/file-20211213-15-wxuu3h.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437114/original/file-20211213-15-wxuu3h.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Dogs from cooler climes – like Kivi Tarro, a Finnish lapphundtend – to have heavy, insulating coats while those from warmer places tend to have thin hair.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Melissa Starling</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Dogs from cooler climes tend to have heavy, insulating coats while those from warmer places tend to have thin hair, which helps shed heat quickly.</p> <p>So, would your dog be cooler if you shaved them for summer?</p> <p>It’s true insulation works both ways; cold or hot air outside the body cannot easily penetrate a thick coat and affect core temperature. But a dog is always producing body heat, especially when they are active or excited, and this internal heat may escape slowly through a thick coat.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437113/original/file-20211213-13-1xxwrzi.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437113/original/file-20211213-13-1xxwrzi.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Kivi Tarro, a Finnish lapphund, shows off his haircut.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Melissa Starling</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>For many thick-coated, otherwise healthy dogs, it helps to keep their coat free of tangles and dead undercoat during warmer months. This reduces the insulating properties of the coat.</p> <p>Clipping the coat shorter can allow them to stay cool more easily. You could also consider clipping the belly and groin very short. This won’t help much when the dog is active but could help when the dog lies on a cool surface. However, be mindful not to go too short on upper parts of the coat, or the skin can be exposed to sunburn.</p> <h2>How to ‘ask your dog’ how they’re doing</h2> <p>We should always “ask the dog” how they are doing.</p> <p>Signs a dog is too hot include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>panting a lot during the warmer months, even when not exercising</p> </li> <li> <p>seeming lethargic and reluctant to exercise</p> </li> <li> <p>regularly seeking to cool themselves by getting wet, or lying on cool tile or wood floors with as much skin contact as possible.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Always consider the following rules of thumb:</p> <ul> <li> <p>if it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your dog</p> </li> <li> <p>make sure water is available for drinking or immersing the body in when exercising on hot days</p> </li> <li> <p>know your dog’s panting. Dogs usually have a pant cycle where they pant for a short period and then stop for a few breaths or more and then start again. If they start panting constantly, they may be struggling to cool themselves</p> </li> <li> <p>if they can’t hold a ball or toy anymore, froth at the mouth because they can’t easily swallow, or have trouble drinking due to panting at the same time, get your dog to some shade and let them rest. Monitor for signs of heat stress</p> </li> <li> <p>signs of extreme heat distress include: vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, being unsteady on their feet, or limping. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you see these signs. Heat injury can be lethal!</p> </li> <li> <p>pick shady, cool places to let your dog have a run if it’s warm. Go early or late in the day when the temperature has come down a bit. Early mornings are typically cooler than the late afternoon</p> </li> <li> <p>the lack of airflow in cars can turn them into deadly ovens within a few minutes, even if the windows are down. So never leave your dog alone in a car, even for a few minutes.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172957/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-starling-461103">Melissa Starling</a>, Postdoctoral researcher, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-hot-is-too-hot-heres-how-to-tell-if-your-dog-is-suffering-during-the-summer-heat-172957">original article</a>.</p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Planning, stress and worry put the mental load on mothers – will 2022 be the year they share the burden?

<p>The COVID pandemic has made the very private issue of the domestic division of labour – the way housework and childcare are divided – a very public issue.</p> <p>During lockdowns, the burden of housework and childcare grew significantly for men and women in <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gwao.12497">opposite-sex</a> and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/08912432211001303">same-sex couples</a> both in Australia and <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gwao.12727">elsewhere</a>.</p> <p>Overnight, homes became offices, childcare centres and makeshift schools and it was mothers who largely stepped into these teaching and caring roles at the expense of their <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1097184X21990737">anxiety levels and sleep</a>.</p> <p>While the pandemic exacerbated the physical demands of care – housework and childcare – it also exacerbated another part of the work that keeps households and families running: the mental load.</p> <h2>What is the mental load?</h2> <p>A lot has been written about the mental load over the past two years, with many confusing the mental load with household labour – cleaning and cooking or caring after children – or planning tasks involved with childcare. But the mental load is so much more.</p> <p>In our recently published <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13668803.2021.2002813">research</a>, we define the mental load as the combination of two types of work or labour: <em>cognitive labour</em> and <em>emotional labour</em>.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437061/original/file-20211212-13-131ekhu.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Mother organises things on her phone, while looking after kids at the kitchen table." /> <span class="caption">The mental load is more than just planning.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/L8oEIAZ59_g" class="source">Vitolda Klein/Unsplash</a></span></p> <p>The cognitive aspect of the mental load involves the <em>scheduling</em>, <em>planning</em>, and <em>organising</em> required to support the smooth operating of families. This type of work ranges from organising a play date to planning dinner.</p> <p>We argue this cognitive work becomes <em>a load</em> or the mental load when it has an emotional element, for example, when there is worry or stress attached to these tasks.</p> <p>Some have described list-making as the mental load, but list-making isn’t always stressful or emotional and, importantly, list-making has a finite beginning and end.</p> <p>But, once cognitive tasks like list-making take on an emotional element – like worry about whether Nana will like her present, anxiety about how relatives will get along at holiday dinners and stress about filling stockings while finishing work – then it becomes the mental load.</p> <h2>How does the mental load operate?</h2> <p>We argue the mental load operates in families and societies in three ways.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437068/original/file-20211212-23-f80euq.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="Busy woman sits at a cafe on her computer, talking on the phone." /> <span class="caption">The mental load can be performed anywhere, anytime.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/u_9ANn3JpVU" class="source">Aviv Rachmadian/Unsplash</a></span></p> <p>First it’s <em>invisible</em> – it’s the type of work that is done internally. Unlike housework or childcare, it’s unseen and therefore hard to recognise.</p> <p>Second, the mental load is <em>boundaryless</em>. Because it’s invisible, it can be performed anywhere or at anytime.</p> <p>American sociologist Arlie Hochschild termed women’s domestic labour done after work as the “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Shift">second shift</a>” but the mental load has no shifts – it can be done before, during and after work or even during time that should be spent sleeping.</p> <p>And lastly, the mental load is <em>enduring</em>, meaning it never ends. Unlike housework such as like cooking or cleaning, thinking and caring about family members never ends, which is why the mental load can be so burdensome and Nana still reminds you to take a jacket.</p> <h2>How can we lessen mental loads in 2022 and beyond?</h2> <p>Individuals and society can do a number of things to decrease the mental load.</p> <p><strong>1) Make the mental load more visible by quantifying it</strong></p> <p>We have no robust, standardised and nationally representative measure of the mental load. This means, unlike housework and childcare, we have no idea the volume and consequences of the mental load for Australians.</p> <p>Recent reports on <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/dec/07/women-do-21-hours-more-unpaid-work-than-men-study-suggests">housework</a> show women do 21 more hours of unpaid work than men. They may also spend the bulk of the day thinking about, planning and worrying about their families.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437063/original/file-20211212-27-yirblq.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Older woman rides a bike through a cobble-stone street." /> <span class="caption">The mental load can last long after your children have left home.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/Q1KRS5xRGfM" class="source">Clem Onojeghuo</a></span></p> <p>Yet, we have no measure of this labour and, importantly, we don’t know how men carry the mental load either.</p> <p>Quantifying and capturing how much time we spend on the mental load and how this is shared between couples will help lay the groundwork for change.</p> <p><strong>2) Acknowledge the toll on women</strong></p> <p>The pandemic has left workers burnt out, stressed and overwhelmed by the intensity of balancing work, homeschooling and full-time care demands while isolated at home.</p> <p>It’s no wonder the pandemic has knocked <a href="https://arts.unimelb.edu.au/the-policy-lab/projects/projects/worsening">mothers out of employment</a>.</p> <p>Mothers are exhausted not only from the physical demands of work and family but also the cognitive labour of holding it all together at work while worrying about torpedoing children’s educational futures from keeping them home, alone and glued to screens.</p> <p>The mental load, as the unrelenting internal nag, is a drain on well-being with serious consequences for economic productivity and fatigue.</p> <p>The mental load is a national health emergency and should be treated seriously by workplaces and governments alike.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437065/original/file-20211212-21-zc03ez.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Woman concentrates on a computer while working from home." /> <span class="caption">The mental load affects women’s health and productivity.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/g9KFpAfQ5bc" class="source">Annie Spratt/Unsplash</a></span></p> <p><strong>3) Help families better reconcile work and family demands</strong></p> <p>Both organisations and governments need to be better at helping families combine their work and care responsibilities. The mental load overloads women (and some men) particularly at work when they are thinking and worrying about their children’s needs.</p> <p>Workplaces need to improve support for families to lessen the mental load. This may mean more working remotely or concrete programs to support workers’ mental loads. This is also likely to improve workers’ productivity.</p> <p>At the same time, governments need to provide better care infrastructure to support families, for example more universal affordable childcare, supports for transitioning children to and from school, and better aged care. This will lessen workers’ worries about the experiences of loved ones while they’re engaged in paid work.</p> <p>Ultimately, the mental load is a mental health issue and companies and governments should treat it as such. This will unburden families, and particularly mothers, from managing the mental load alone.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172599/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leah-ruppanner-106371">Leah Ruppanner</a>, Associate Professor in Sociology and Co-Director of The Policy Lab, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-churchill-3035">Brendan Churchill</a>, ARC Research Fellow and Lecturer in Sociology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liz-dean-189942">Liz Dean</a>, Lecturer in Sociology Program, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/planning-stress-and-worry-put-the-mental-load-on-mothers-will-2022-be-the-year-they-share-the-burden-172599">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Rich Smith/Unsplash</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Mum makes dating ad for daughter in Times Square

<p dir="ltr">A woman with terminal cancer has<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10370849/Mom-cancer-61-takes-Times-Square-billboard-help-daughter-30-boyfriend.html" target="_blank">taken out a billboard in Times Square</a><span> </span>to help her daughter find a boyfriend, with the hope she can see her marry before she dies.</p> <p dir="ltr">Beth Davies was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, receiving chemotherapy to treat it.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, she was informed in June 2020 that she had developed metastatic breast cancer which had spread to her bones.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 61-year-old Boston woman is now hoping to help her daughter Molly, 30, secure a partner so that she can watch her daughter walk down the aisle. She also wants “to know I am leaving her in good hands”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Last week, Ms Davies’ 14-by-seven-metre ad went up at the famed spot, showing a photo of Molly and a link to her profile on dating app Wingman, which lets friends and family share testimonies about the person and pitch them as a suitable partner.</p> <p dir="ltr">Beneath the photo, a message from Beth was also included, reading: “I’m Molly’s wingman and her Mom”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846641/daughter-ad1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d923f15e7b954133a78f2a04f169b2bc" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: The Daily Mail</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Speaking to the<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://nypost.com/2022/01/03/cancer-stricken-mom-gets-times-square-billboard-to-help-daughter-find-a-man/" target="_blank"><em>New York Post</em></a>, Ms Davies said she and her husband Rick were determined to help Molly get married.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I would like to see my daughter well-settled,” Beth told the publication.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Considering that I have serious health issues, there is urgency.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She is currently taking Ibrance tablets, which she hopes will keep the cancer at bay for at least two years.</p> <p dir="ltr">Molly told<span> </span><em>The Post</em><span> </span>the app and billboard “cases a wider net”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I want someone who adores me and someone I adore as well. I want someone who adds to my life. If this broadcasts that, it will all be worth it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Her mother added that her role as ‘wingwoman’ to her daughter came after Molly acted as her wingwoman.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is only fair since Molly acted as my wingman, escorting me to various oncology appointments,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though Ms Davies said some of her friends’ daughters would “kill them” for attempting a similar stunt, Molly said she appreciated her mum’s efforts.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s such a trip. Especially up there next to Gen-Z icon Olivia Rodrigo,” Molly said of the billboard.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846642/daughter-ad2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/969c6959ffe746bca39f62a4ef29e9ff" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Beth Davies (Facebook)</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Since its appearance, Molly and her mum have made the trip to Times Square together, with Ms Davies sharing photos of them beneath it on Facebook.</p> <p dir="ltr">The billboard ad came to be after Molly’s profile came to the attention of Wingman’s founder Tina Wilson, who arranged the whole thing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“She still is focused with love and attention for her daughter and so I wanted to help her accelerate that search and find someone great,” Ms Wilson told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international/mom-gets-times-square-billboard-to-help-daughter-find-a-date/2927663/?_osource=SocialFlowTwt_DCBrand" target="_blank"><em>NBC</em></a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Beth Davies (Facebook)</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

One-year-old receives a heart-warming letter from Windsor Castle

<p><em>Image: The Sun</em></p> <p>A young girl has received a letter from Windsor Castle after dressing up as The Queen for Halloween.</p> <p>One-year-old Jalayne Sutherland caught royal attention after donning an adorable double-breasted overcoat with a matching hat, a white wig and pearls around her neck.</p> <p>She was photographed by her mum, Katelyn Sutherland, standing alongside her family corgis. Katelyn, from Ohio, America, sent the photograph to The Queen on a whim - and said she did not expect to receive a reply.</p> <p>She said, "The biggest inspiration for the outfit was the fact that our dogs are our daughter's best friends."</p> <p>“We wanted to do something where they could all be included together. We are most definitely fans of the Royal family and truly admire how the Queen walks by faith."</p> <p>Katelyn said her daughter's costume was met with lots of praise as she took her trick-or-treating on Halloween this year.</p> <p>She added, “While walking around on Halloween we received many, many compliments but my favourite reactions were when people bowed to her or did the royal wave and said, ‘Your Majesty!’”</p> <p>The letter, from the Queen's lady in waiting for the Hon Marry Morrison, said, “The Queen wishes me to write and thank you for your letter, and for the photograph you thoughtfully enclosed."</p> <p>“Her Majesty thought it kind of you to write to her, and The Queen was pleased to see the photograph of your daughter, Jalayne, in her splendid outfit."</p> <p>“Her Majesty hopes you all have a very Merry Christmas, and I am enclosing a little information about the Royal Pets, which Jalayne might like to have.”</p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Harry and Meghan’s Christmas card features first photo of Lilibet

<p dir="ltr">Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have released their virtual Christmas card, and it comes with a delightful surprise for the holidays: the first photo of daughter Lilibet.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor was born in June, but no photos of her have been released by the family, until now. In the family photo that graces the virtual greeting, Meghan is holding Lilibet up in the air as the entire family smiles and laughs together, Archie sitting on Harry’s lap.</p> <p dir="ltr">The photo was taken by Alexi Lubomirski at the couple’s Santa Barbara home during the summer, meaning Lilibet is a newborn in the photos. Lubomirski also shot the couple’s engagement photos in 2017 and their official wedding photos in 2018.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sharing the photo to Instagram on Thursday, Lubomirski wrote, “This is one of those rare and special projects, that one is fortunate enough to be a part of. To be able to continue the story of this family whom I first photographed as an engaged couple, then on the day of their wedding, as a married couple and now seeing their love manifest into two beautiful children, has been a delightful honour.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CX1ANa6OTCU/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CX1ANa6OTCU/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Alexi Lubomirski (@alexilubomirski)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“Anyone who has seen my #AllLoveSeries, will know that one of the greatest joys I receive from photography, is when I am able to photograph "love" in some form or another. To be trusted by your subjects enough, to open themselves up and have their connection documented and translated into an image, is one of the greatest gifts a photographer can have.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This day with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was one such joyous experience, and one that I feel extremely privileged to have been invited to capture.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The family’s Christmas card reads, "This year, 2021, we welcomed our daughter, Lilibet, to the world. Archie made us a 'Mama' and a 'Papa', and Lili made us a family. As we look forward to 2022, we have made donations on your behalf to several organisations that honour and protect families — from those being relocated from Afghanistan, to American families in need of paid parental leave: Team Rubicon, Welcome.US, Human First Coalition, Humanity Crew &amp; Paid Leave For All, PL+US Marshall Plan for Mums.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Wishing you a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year, from our family to yours!"</p> <p dir="ltr"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846556/https___prodstatic9net.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/933e518d25504b4c80c0ec5b47c3582e" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Two babies survive being flown through a tornado in a BATHTUB

<p>When a terrifying tornado started on its path of destruction in the US state of Kentucky last week, grandmother Clara Lutz jumped into action. </p> <p>Clara's house began to shake, as she grabbed her grandchildren and sheltered them in the bathtub along with a blanket, a pillow and a Bible. </p> <p>15-month-old Kaden and his three-month-old Dallas were then ripped from their grandmother as the whole bathtub was pulled out of the house by the storm along with the babies, as Clara told the local <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.14news.com/2021/12/17/2-babies-survive-after-tornado-carries-them-away-bathtub/" target="_blank">Channel 14 News</a>. </p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">“Next thing I knew, the tub had lifted and it was out of my hands,” she said.</p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">“I couldn’t hold on. I just – oh my God.”</p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">Clara began looking for the kids through the wreckage, after she had just been struck in the back of the head from the bath's water tank. </p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">Her house was stripped down to the foundation, as the extent of the damage was shared on Facebook.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?height=476&amp;href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftrevion.benton.9%2Fvideos%2F1060808244737027%2F&amp;show_text=false&amp;width=267&amp;t=0" width="267" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true" allow="autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; picture-in-picture; web-share"></iframe></p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">“All I could say was, ‘Lord please bring my babies back safely,” she said.</p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">“Please, I beg thee.”</p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">The bathtub was found upended in her backyard, with her grandchildren inside. </p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">Three-month-old Dallas was taken to hospital for a head injury he sustained during the terrifying ordeal, but has made a full recovery. </p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">More than 90 people have been confirmed dead after more than 40 tornadoes tore their way trough several states in the US.</p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020"><em>Image credits: Facebook - Sierra Lutz</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

A failure at 6? Data-driven assessment isn’t helping young children’s learning

<p>Children’s <a href="https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/providers/edcare/veyldframework.pdf">early years</a> from birth to the age of eight are crucial for their social, emotional and intellectual development. However, early years education in Australia is fragmented. It operates across two spaces, the pre-compulsory period, often called early childhood education, and the first three years of compulsory schooling.</p> <p>In recent times the focus in these three years has been on assessment that produces numerical data. Teachers need to demonstrate children are meeting standards.</p> <p>In contrast, in the pre-compulsory years the focus is on observing and interacting with the child. Practices are based on the belief that all children have agency and are capable learners.</p> <p>A chasm has opened up between these <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Early-Childhood-and-Compulsory-Education-Reconceptualising-the-relationship/Moss/p/book/9780415687744">separate education systems</a>. Children go from playing to being tested in the blink of an eye. This abrupt change in young children’s education is problematic.</p> <h2>What does research tell us about the early years?</h2> <p>A <a href="https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/391647/Dunn356707Accepted.pdf?sequence=2&amp;isAllowed=y">2015 review</a> of research on best practices in the early years identified key factors in successful teaching and learning. The review noted the importance of:</p> <ul> <li> <p>a smooth transition between pre-school education and compulsory school education</p> </li> <li> <p>play-based learning</p> </li> <li> <p>seeing children as capable and having agency in their learning</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/speakinglistening/Pages/teachingpracdialogic.aspx">dialogic interactions</a> involving <a href="https://earlychildhood.qld.gov.au/earlyYears/Documents/language-dialogic-in-action.pdf">rich discussions</a> between children and between children and teachers.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Australia has introduced a mandated curriculum and a national assessment program in primary schools. The review noted this meant many early years teachers have adopted a more formalised and narrow approach to learning in schools. It isn’t appropriate for young children.</p> <p>We can see the resulting <a href="https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/where-are-the-early-years-of-school-in-contemporary-early-childho">divide between non-compulsory and compulsory</a> early years education in Victoria. On the one hand, teachers need to acknowledge the needs of children from birth to eight years. On the other hand, for those between the ages of five and 12, the <a href="https://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/">Victorian Curriculum</a> requires teachers to assess and report against curriculum standards.</p> <p>The focus on formal assessment and numerical data in the early years of schooling means children as young as six can be labelled as failing. In countries like Finland and Singapore, which have been <a href="https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/strongperformers/">identified</a> as <a href="http://timssandpirls.bc.edu/pirls2016/international-results/pirls/student-achievement/pirls-achievement-results/">high-performing</a>, children do not even <a href="https://expatchild.com/school-starting-ages-around-world/">begin formal schooling</a> before the age of six or seven.</p> <p><iframe src="https://data.worldbank.org/share/widget?indicators=SE.PRM.AGES&amp;type=shaded&amp;view=map" width="100%" height="380" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2304/ciec.2014.15.2.185">One study</a> has described the early years in countries like the United Kingdom, America and Australia as being at the mercy of top-down policy development, leading to “a highly prescriptive and assessment-driven early years climate”. <a href="https://www.routledge.com/The-Datafication-of-Primary-and-Early-Years-Education-Playing-with-Numbers/Bradbury-Roberts-Holmes/p/book/9781138242173">UK researchers</a> have identified the “datafication” of early years education and its impacts on children and teachers. And <a href="https://researchoutput.csu.edu.au/en/publications/a-sociological-analysis-of-australias-naplan-and-my-school-senate">Australian researchers</a> used the term “adultification” to describe the unrealistic expectations placed on young children.</p> <h2>So what happens in our schools?</h2> <p>My doctoral <a href="https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/268186">research</a> found “datafication” and “adultification” defined the early years of schooling in Victoria. I engaged with more than 100 early-years teachers to explore their literacy teaching and assessment practices. The recurring theme was these teachers were expected to frequently assess young children in formal ways that provided numerical data.</p> <p>Teachers voiced frustration. One described the early years as “death by assessment”. Another lamented that community expectations were unreasonable, saying “people are hung up on data, numbers”.</p> <p>There was an overwhelming sense that the teachers knew their children best and should be given the agency to assess and plan for literacy teaching rather than being required to use a suite of commercially produced assessment tools.</p> <p>The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (<a href="https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/providers/edcare/veyldframework.pdf">VEYLDF</a>) is designed to support early years teachers working with children and families. Its premise is that children have the greatest opportunities to develop neural pathways for learning and are also most vulnerable to negative experiences from birth to eight years.</p> <p>The framework is based on research into best practice for children in these years. Rather than formal assessment based on numbers, the VEYLDF advocates for assessment that is authentic and responsive to how all children can best demonstrate their learning and development.</p> <p>The Victorian Education Department <a href="https://www.education.vic.gov.au/childhood/professionals/learning/Pages/veyldf.aspx">encourages</a> teachers in schools to use the framework. However, little is known about how many actually use the framework to inform teaching and learning.</p> <p>Making it mandatory to report against curriculum standards from the time children begin compulsory schooling sets the boundaries for how many teachers operate. It is hard to have a foot in both camps when reporting against these standards is mandatory and you feel compelled to prepare children for what comes next – which includes <a href="https://www.nap.edu.au/">NAPLAN</a>, the national assessment program.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/432555/original/file-20211118-18-1xgrfo5.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Group of laughing and smiling children together among trees" /> <span class="caption">‘Death by assessment’ threatens the joy young children find in learning.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>Schools can still let children be children</h2> <p>However, some schools are turning their backs on the relentless measuring of young children’s attainments. <a href="https://www.sjfootscray.catholic.edu.au/">St John’s</a>, a multicultural primary school in Melbourne’s inner west, is one example. You only need to look at the school <a href="https://www.sjfootscray.catholic.edu.au/learning/">website</a> to see its philosophy differs from many others.</p> <blockquote> <p>“St John’s Horizon [a school community-developed vision] clearly states ‘KIDS AT THE HEART’ which encapsulates our focus and belief in the image of the child – the child who is capable, curious, full of wonder, rich in knowledge, able to construct and co-construct his or her own learning. We believe in JOY – Joy in learning.”</p> </blockquote> <p>A conversation with the then principal, Gemma Goodyear, gave me an insight into these beliefs, which are inspired by teaching and learning in schools in <a href="https://www.reggiochildren.it/en/reggio-emilia-approach/">Reggio Emilia</a>, Italy. Goodyear said children do not come to school to be “fixed”, and the teachers engage them by providing meaningful, contextualised learning experiences. And, yes, through their focus on rich learning they still get great results without relentless testing.</p> <p>It is time to revisit the early years of schooling and ensure teachers have the skills and understandings they need to support learners in this phase. These years should be a time when children become engaged and excited about learning, a time of great joy, and a time when children are allowed to be children.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/169463/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martina-tassone-1270226">Martina Tassone</a>, Early Childhood and Primary Course Coordinator and Language and Literacy Lecturer, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-failure-at-6-data-driven-assessment-isnt-helping-young-childrens-learning-169463">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Pets and our health: why we should take them more seriously

<p>Pets are a powerful positive influence in many people’s lives. No doubt many people reading this article are part of the estimated <a href="http://animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Pet-Ownership-in-Australia-2013-Summary-ONLINE-VER.pdf">5 million of 7.5 million</a> Australian households with a pet.</p> <p>Although the evidence body is small, pets have been shown to have positive effects for physical health for some time. <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/15_0204.htm">A new study</a> found children with a pet dog were less likely to suffer from anxiety than those without. In the early 1990s researchers showed that pet owners had significantly lower levels of <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1435469">risk factors</a> for cardiovascular disease like blood pressure.</p> <p>Research has also found <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1295517/">general health improves</a> after getting a pet and is maintained in the long term, in comparison with a matched control group without pets. However, we are still not encouraging and funding research into how health systems, services and public policy can tap into this resource, especially in mental health.</p> <p>Getting this topic taken seriously in academia is also difficult. It is seen as frivolous and light-hearted, and not part of legitimate health sciences. Consequently, there is only a piecemeal body of academic literature on the role of pets in mental health.</p> <p>Across various fields such as <a href="http://anj.sagepub.com/content/35/3/363.abstract">criminology</a> and <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103111002411">psychology</a>, we can find ad hoc pieces of research linking human mental health to human-animal relationships with positive benefits.</p> <p>The lack of a coherent body of evidence means it is difficult to show that pets are important in any one population group or field, even after piecing the existing research together. Few health science fields consider there is enough evidence to support publishing new papers, often on the grounds that “evidence is lacking”.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/101397/original/image-20151110-21232-8kfgqa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/101397/original/image-20151110-21232-8kfgqa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Companionship.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fotografierenderpunk/10369267436/" class="source">Flickr/fotografierenderpunk</a>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <p>We also found animal fields were reluctant to publish articles that suggested animals could be a resource for human wellness. This was seen as devaluing animals.</p> <p>This conundrum of responses results in a lack of published research, leading to a perception that it is unimportant. This perception shapes the views of funding bodies, so researchers have difficulty in obtaining funding. In turn, there is a dearth of research and a fragmented undeveloped field of understanding.</p> <h2>Are pets good for us?</h2> <p>Scanning the fragmented body of literature that does exist suggests that pets are highly significant in the mental wellbeing of many people. The field of domestic violence is the most advanced in considering the role of pets in health and wellbeing.</p> <p>Some women will stay in a violent relationship because of threats to their pets by an abuser. If services assisting women to escape domestic violence don’t allow pets, they will <a href="http://works.bepress.com/elizabeth_strand/5/">stay with the pet</a>. Some services have been implementing <a href="http://alliephillips.com/saf-tprogram/saf-t-shelters/">pet-friendly approaches</a> in response to this evidence. This level of attachment between women and their pets suggests that pets may also act as a coping or support mechanism, whether they stay or leave.</p> <p>Young homeless people <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24728815">have reported pets</a> as providing unconditional love, reducing loneliness and improving quality of life and wellbeing.</p> <p>Pets may provide helpful structure in the lives of people experiencing mental illness: addressing a pet’s needs <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Krupa+and+Zimolag+2009">provides a reason</a> for depressed pet owners to get up in the morning.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/101398/original/image-20151110-21184-1lmgj01.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/101398/original/image-20151110-21184-1lmgj01.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">A reason to get up in the morning.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fitzrovia/8744751810/" class="source">Flickr/Amro</a>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <p>Pets also add to older people’s <a href="https://animalsandsociety.org/assets/library/774_s5.pdf">quality of life</a> by providing social support and companionship and reducing loneliness, fear and <a href="https://www.animalsandsociety.org/assets/library/638_morethanafurrycompanion.pdf">social isolation</a>.</p> <p>Some of the most recent research in this area is returning to <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9566.12176/abstract">old data</a> and discovering that pets have been overlooked and even removed from older people’s stories of what adds to their quality of life.</p> <p>Recent yet-to-be-published research undertaken with colleagues found some older people are giving up pets early on in their ageing because they are afraid of not being able to take them into care, or because they are concerned for their pet if something happens to them.</p> <p>Not taking pets seriously in how we consider and support ageing means we may be condemning some older people to <a href="http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5493/">isolation and loneliness</a>. We should develop ways to support older pet owners and ensure pets do not have to be relinquished when people go into full-time care. At present this process is ad hoc and informal.</p> <p>Just because people want their pets with them does not necessarily mean that pets help with health outcomes and wellbeing. But the evidence that does exist shows that they do help. For example, PET (positron emission tomography) scans show that <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2752/175303712X13240472427311">pets reduce stress</a>, and most <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20180089">cancer patients with pets</a> claimed their pets helped them during their treatment.</p> <p>By not treating pets as a serious part of human wellbeing, we are overlooking a powerful health-promoting resource. Exploring and supporting the role of pets in human lives and health may be far cheaper, with fewer side effects and greater unanticipated positives than the continual search for new drugs and technological solutions to human wellness.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/janette-young-129283">Janette Young</a>, Lecturer in health policy, politics and promotion, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisel-odwyer-170118">Lisel O'Dwyer</a>, Senior Researcher, Social and Policy Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/pets-and-our-health-why-we-should-take-them-more-seriously-47774">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Flickr/ US Pacific Fleet</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Australians love their pets, so why don’t more public places welcome them?

<p>Venture to the local shops and you’ll probably see dogs outside on the footpath waiting for their owners. Perhaps the store has provided a hook for dog leads and a bowl of water for thirsty canines. But travel further from home, into the city centre for example, and you are unlikely to see many dogs, or other pets. The same applies to most parks and beaches, and certainly to cafés, bars, restaurants, department stores, and public transport.</p> <p>Although Australia is a nation of pet owners and pet lovers, our non-human companions are not welcome in most public spaces in our towns and cities.</p> <h2>Pets outnumber people</h2> <p>Some <a href="http://animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/AMA_Pet-Ownership-in-Australia-2016-Report_sml.pdf">62% of Australian households have a pet</a>. While these rates are similar to those in the United States (65%), they are much higher than the United Kingdom (40%) and continental Europe (around 40%), where pets are much more visible and tolerated in public places.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/261128/original/file-20190226-150694-1rbis3g.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/261128/original/file-20190226-150694-1rbis3g.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">The British have a much more tolerant attitude to pets in public places.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cafe_Couple.jpg" class="source">Almonroth/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-SA</a></span></p> <p>There are <a href="http://animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/AMA_Pet-Ownership-in-Australia-2016-Report_sml.pdf">4.8 million pet dogs, 4.2 million pet birds and 3.9 million pet cats</a> in Australia. Of those of us who don’t have a pet, <a href="https://www.canstar.com.au/pet-insurance/how-much-do-we-spend-on-our-pets/">59% report we would like one in the future</a>. The ratio of pets to people in Australia is 101:100 – there are more animal companions than <em>Homo sapiens</em>.</p> <p>In fact, <a href="https://www.canstar.com.au/pet-insurance/how-much-do-we-spend-on-our-pets/">more of us live in a house with a cat and/or a dog than with a child</a>. For many people, especially those without children, pets are increasingly being anthropomorphised and replacing human family members.</p> <p>Pet ownership rates are not rising significantly in Australia, but our spending on pet-related goods and services is increasing substantially. In 2016 we <a href="http://animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/AMA_Pet-Ownership-in-Australia-2016-Report_sml.pdf">spent A$12.2 billion on pets and pet-related goods and services</a>.</p> <p>Businesses are responding to the growth of the pet supplies sector by developing and marketing everything from vegetarian pet food to sophisticated smartphone surveillance apps. The market for pet insurance, pet day care, pet taxis, grooming and funeral services is robust, providing many opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-ups to tap into consumer demand for pampered pets.</p> <h2>High-density housing and shrinking yards</h2> <p>At the same time as spending on pets is increasing, our backyards are shrinking, with many of us choosing high-density apartment living. In addition, new housing developments feature larger houses and garages, which dominate the block <a href="https://architectureau.com/articles/what-has-happened-to-the-australian-backyard/#img=0">at the expense of front and back yards</a>. This means there is much less room for our pets at home than ever before.</p> <p>Historically, the Australian dream was a house on a quarter-acre block with plenty of outside space for pets, but <a href="https://architectureau.com/articles/what-has-happened-to-the-australian-backyard/">blocks and yard space are shrinking in new housing developments</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/261619/original/file-20190301-110115-j0vml9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/261619/original/file-20190301-110115-j0vml9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">New housing developments (this one is in the Newcastle suburb of Fletcher) offer a lot less yard space than they used to.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/housing-development-fletcher-newcastle-new-houses-1005762796" class="source">Ben Jeayes/Shutterstock</a></span></p> <p>With outdoor living space disappearing, pets and their owners must increasingly turn to public spaces for social activity and interaction.</p> <h2>Pets in public places</h2> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/261130/original/file-20190226-150721-5ksi44.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/261130/original/file-20190226-150721-5ksi44.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Australians face many restrictions on where they can take their pet, even if it’s just for a walk outdoors.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/-JsZ6o5nIhs" class="source">leonides ruvalcabar/Unsplash</a></span></p> <p>The problem is that pets are not welcome in many public places. In most local council areas, the presence of domesticated animals is heavily restricted and governed by myriad council by-laws.</p> <p>Local parks and beaches are mostly off-limits. The <a href="https://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/services/animals-and-pets/animal-fines-and-penalties">fines for non-compliance are hefty</a>.</p> <p>If you want to take your dog to a local café, you’ll have to sit outside. Even if you go to a “human-friendly” dog or cat café you won’t be served food because most pet cafés <a href="https://www.health.qld.gov.au/public-health/industry-environment/food-safety/requirements/animals">aren’t permitted to make or serve human food</a>.</p> <p>In most cities, pets are not allowed to travel on trains, trams, buses or ferries; travelling with pets is either outlawed altogether or managed with strict guidelines for restraining pets and restricted travelling times.</p> <p>Research confirms the many benefits of pet ownership. In terms of general health and well-being, they improve our mental health and often provide the impetus to exercise. These are important issues for our time-poor, fast-paced and stressed-out society.</p> <p>Pet ownership also allows for interaction with others in social settings and in local communities. The importance of pets in fostering social interaction has been established in a <a href="http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201706209705/neighbourhood-s-best-friend">study</a> that found owning a pet is incredibly important for well-being and increasing social connectedness in neighbourhoods. In fact, 60% of participants in the study who owned a dog knew their neighbours better than those without a dog. Even 25% with a different type of pet reported the same.</p> <h2>City planning for pets</h2> <p>There is clearly a need to provide more public places for animals and humans to interact, particularly in settings that allow for greater social interplay. As city planners work towards cities that are “smart”, “green” and “walkable”, the focus should also be on making our towns and cities much more pet-friendly by providing outdoor spaces that encourage and foster interaction between animals and humans.</p> <p>We need an approach that recognises the benefits of human-animal connection and makes provisions for “animal-friendly” cities by opening up more areas for pets and their owners.</p> <p>Given Australia’s passion for pets, we should be able to interact with them in public. This will help us strengthen social ties, build local communities, improve our health and reduce social isolation.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/112062/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, Lecturer in Retail Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-mortimer-1322">Gary Mortimer</a>, Associate Professor in Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australians-love-their-pets-so-why-dont-more-public-places-welcome-them-112062">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Anastasiya Lobanovskaya/Pexels</em></p>

Family & Pets

Our Partners