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"I felt duped": 95-year-old loses $1.6 million in bank scam

<p>A 95-year-old has been left feeling "sick" after she was scammed out of $1.6 million by heartless scammers claiming to be a bank. </p> <p>In November last year, Harriet Spring received a call from a man who called himself George Thompson, and said he worked for ING Bank. </p> <p>The man gained Harriet's trust over several months, at the difficult time that the great-grandmother was handling the sale of her mother's house.</p> <p>"Over time, I completely thought he was from ING, I had no reason to believe he wasn't," she told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/95-year-old-great-grandmother-loses-more-than-1-million-life-savings-to-scammers/f41540e7-f5c9-4c3b-89a7-ac94dd81bf6a" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>"George" then convinced Harriet the money from the sale of the house could build interest in an ING account, but it was actually being held by Westpac Bank.</p> <p>"It sounds implausible now, but the scammer had me convinced and I told my mother's bank, Teachers Mutual Bank, that this was an ING fixed term deposit, but it was being put in the Westpac bank," she said.</p> <p>"I put down the BSB number and the account number and what I thought was my name attached to the account, (my mother's bank) pointed out that it seems strange and ING account would be held with Westpac, but they still went ahead and authorised the transfer."</p> <p>When Harriet realised the scammers had taken hold of her life savings totalling $1.6 million, she felt "sick". </p> <p>"Obviously my world just fell out from under me - I just felt sick," she said.</p> <p>"I felt utterly responsible, I felt duped, foolish, ashamed - a lot of shame associated with it and I think that's why a lot of people don't come forward and talk about this kind of thing."</p> <p>Harriet has shared her story as a warning for others to be wary of potential scammers, while also calling on banks to have better protocols in place to stop suspicious transactions from going through. </p> <p>"Someone with basic training from the bank would have known that ING don't bank with any other banks and they should have flagged it," she said.</p> <p>"I believe the reality is that the banks 100 per cent put the blame on the victims and they minimise their own liability."</p> <p>"There should be some sort of system for compensating victims, the banks don't commit the theft, but they certainly drive the getaway car and they need to be held responsible for being complicit with this."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

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Yoko Ono selling John Lennon's New York home for first time in 50 years

<p>For the first time in 50 years, the house where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived in New York City has hit the market.</p> <p>The brick, bluestone and terra cotta structure at 496 Broome St. was the first home the pair bought together in New York City before they moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. </p> <p>Yoko Ono has held onto the property since she first bought it with the late Beatles member, and has now listed it with her son with JLL Real Estate, for an asking price of $US5.5 million ($8.23m AUD).</p> <p>“The building on Broome St. was sort of like a base for their artistic ventures,” Philip Norman, author of “John Lennon: The Life,” told the <em><a href="https://nypost.com/2024/05/21/real-estate/yoko-ono-lists-former-nyc-home-for-5-5m/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Post</a></em>. “Bank Street was their salon, where people could just walk in.”</p> <p>First built in 1885, the two-storey building has an open-plan format, with a gallery-like ground floor space with 14.4-foot-high ceilings, an open kitchen and a lofted bedroom.</p> <p>On the second floor, there’s a live-work space and a recording studio.</p> <p>“496 Broome St. is both a unique piece of New York history and popular culture and a prime investment opportunity for the right buyer,” said Paul Smadbeck, who holds the listing.</p> <p>“Versatile zoning and its location in one of the city’s most desirable and trendsetting neighbourhoods offers an exciting opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind property.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Mediapunch / JLL Real Estate </em></p>

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After 180 years, new clues are revealing just how general anaesthesia works in the brain

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773932/pdf/BLT.15.159293.pdf/">Over 350 million surgeries</a> are performed globally each year. For most of us, it’s likely at some point in our lives we’ll have to undergo a procedure that needs general anaesthesia.</p> <p>Even though it is one of the safest medical practices, we still don’t have a complete, thorough understanding of precisely how anaesthetic drugs work in the brain.</p> <p>In fact, it has largely remained a mystery since general anaesthesia was introduced into medicine over <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/08941939.2015.1061826">180 years ago</a>.</p> <p>Our study published <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0588-23.2024">in The Journal of Neuroscience today</a> provides new clues on the intricacies of the process. General anaesthetic drugs seem to only affect specific parts of the brain responsible for keeping us alert and awake.</p> <h2>Brain cells striking a balance</h2> <p>In a study using fruit flies, we found a potential way that allows anaesthetic drugs to interact with specific types of neurons (brain cells), and it’s all to do with proteins. Your brain has around <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cne.21974">86 billion neurons</a> and not all of them are the same – it’s these differences that allow general anaesthesia to be effective.</p> <p>To be clear, we’re not completely in the dark on <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0165614719300951">how anaesthetic drugs affect us</a>. We know why general anaesthetics are able to make us lose consciousness so quickly, thanks to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/367607a0">landmark discovery made in 1994</a>.</p> <p>But to better understand the fine details, we first have to look to the minute differences between the cells in our brains.</p> <p>Broadly speaking, there are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6591655/">two main categories of neurons in the brain</a>.</p> <p>The first are what we call “excitatory” neurons, generally responsible for keeping us alert and awake. The second are “inhibitory” neurons – their job is to regulate and control the excitatory ones.</p> <p>In our day-to-day lives, excitatory and inhibitory neurons are constantly working and balancing one another.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2017294">When we fall asleep</a>, there are inhibitory neurons in the brain that “silence” the excitatory ones keeping us awake. This happens <a href="https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/2018/01/07/why-do-we-get-tired/">gradually over time</a>, which is why you may feel progressively more tired through the day.</p> <p>General anaesthetics speed up this process by directly silencing these excitatory neurons without any action from the inhibitory ones. This is why your anaesthetist will tell you that they’ll “put you to sleep” for the procedure: <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2372">it’s essentially the same process</a>.</p> <h2>A special kind of sleep</h2> <p>While we know why anaesthetics put us to sleep, the question then becomes: “why do we <em>stay</em> asleep during surgery?”. If you went to bed tonight, fell asleep and somebody tried to do surgery on you, you’d wake up with quite a shock.</p> <p>To date, there is no strong consensus in the field as to why general anaesthesia causes people to remain unconscious during surgery.</p> <p>Over the last couple of decades, researchers have proposed several potential explanations, but they all seem to point to one root cause. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7709148/#:%7E:text=At%20presynaptic%20part%2C%20voltage%2Dgated,anesthetics%20to%20inhibiting%20neurotransmitter%20release.">Neurons stop talking to each other</a> when exposed to general anaesthetics.</p> <p>While the idea of “cells talking to each other” may sound a little strange, it’s a <a href="https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain/brain-physiology/action-potentials-and-synapses">fundamental concept in neuroscience</a>. Without this communication, our brains wouldn’t be able to function at all. And it allows the brain to know what’s happening throughout the body.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Two branching structures in orange, green, blue and yellow colours on a black background." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Colourised neurons in the brain of a fly.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Adam Hines</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What did we discover?</h2> <p>Our new study shows that general anaesthetics appear to stop excitatory neurons from communicating, but not inhibitory ones. <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/40/21/4103">This concept isn’t new</a>, but we found some compelling evidence as to <em>why</em> only excitatory neurons are affected.</p> <p>For neurons to communicate, proteins have to get involved. One of the jobs these proteins have is to get neurons to release molecules called <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22513-neurotransmitters">neurotransmitters</a>. These chemical messengers are what gets signals across from one neuron to another: dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin are all neurotransmitters, for example.</p> <p>We found that general anaesthetics impair the ability of these proteins to release neurotransmitters, but only in excitatory neurons. To test this, we used <a href="https://www.eneuro.org/content/8/3/ENEURO.0057-21.2021"><em>Drosophila melanogaster</em> fruit flies</a> and <a href="https://imb.uq.edu.au/research/facilities/microscopy/training-manuals/microscopy-online-resources/image-capture/super-resolution-microscopy">super resolution microscopy</a> to directly see what effects a general anaesthetic was having on these proteins at a molecular scale.</p> <p>Part of what makes excitatory and inhibitory neurons different from each other is that they <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00007.2012">express different types of the same protein</a>. This is kind of like having two cars of the same make and model, but one is green and has a sports package, while the other is just standard and red. They both do the same thing, but one’s just a little bit different.</p> <p>Neurotransmitter release is a complex process involving lots of different proteins. If one piece of the puzzle isn’t exactly right, then general anaesthetics won’t be able to do their job.</p> <p>As a next research step, we will need to figure out which piece of the puzzle is different, to understand why general anaesthetics only stop excitatory communication.</p> <p>Ultimately, our results hint that the drugs used in general anaesthetics cause massive global inhibition in the brain. By silencing excitability in two ways, these drugs put us to sleep and keep it that way.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229713/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><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, Research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>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/after-180-years-new-clues-are-revealing-just-how-general-anaesthesia-works-in-the-brain-229713">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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The alarmingly accurate predictions made 100 years ago

<p>A university researcher has uncovered predictions made in 1924 about what the world would look like 100 years in the future, with some of the predictions proving to be scarily accurate. </p> <p>The Canadian professor Paul Fairie shared a selection of headlines and articles made by newspapers in the 1920s on his X account, showing in what ways the world has changed and how it has remained the same.</p> <p>While some predictions made in 1924 hit the nail on the head, others couldn't be further from reality. </p> <p><strong>Accurate predictions </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Car speedways</em></span></p> <p>One newspaper clipping claimed that in the future, cars would be travelling on super "speedways" that allowed them to travel faster. </p> <p>While cars first hit the roads in the 1880s, it wasn't until the 1920s that vehicles became more common, with cities quickly trying to build safe roads to accommodate the growth in motor vehicles. </p> <p>“In the city of 2024, this authority predicts there will be three-deck roads; speedways through the heart of town,” the newspaper article predicted.</p> <p>The article also envisaged monorail express services to the suburbs replacing cars and buses and moving sidewalks (similar to airport travelators) that moved people in all directions, “serving all railroad stations and business districts”.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Women getting tattooed and dyeing their hair</em></span></p> <p>In the 1920s, tattoos were exclusively reserved for sailors, criminals and gangland figures until they became more commonplace. </p> <p>But one 1924 article predicted, incredibly accurately, that by 2024 women would be getting tattoos and dyeing their hair “all the colours of the rainbow”.</p> <p>“Debutantes of 1924 are shingle-haired, sleek-looking maidens with delicately rouged cheeks and provocative red lips,” the article stated.</p> <p>“The 1924 debutante successfully conceals her personality under paint and power."</p> <p>“The debutante of 100 years hence may revert to type and frankly copy her ancestors, who dyed their skins with woad; only, with the modern instinct for progress."</p> <p>“She may go still further and dye her complexion and hair all the colours of the rainbow.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Women becoming stronger</em></span></p> <p>The newspapers of 1924 also predicted that women of the future would be “physically strong, vital and alert.”</p> <p>One article predicted that women would spend more time in the outdoors, participate in sports, and would be “engaging by choice” in activities that were historically restricted to men.</p> <p>Intellectually, women would be “quick at wit and keen of judgment,” while spiritually, she would “radiate love and good will”.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Remote viewing </em></span></p> <p>One of the most accurate predictions from 1924 was the invention of technology that would allow people to view entertainment "remotely". </p> <p>“Many inconveniences which the touring artist now has to suffer will no doubt be eliminated,” one prediction read.</p> <p>“It will not be necessary to travel great distances. The strain of the concert tour will be dispensed with. Artists may not even have to leave their homes (to perform).”</p> <p><strong>Not so accurate predictions</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Horses becoming extinct </em></span></p> <p>One prediction from a 1924 newspaper believed that as cars took over as the main form of transportation, there would be no more use for horses and they would soon becoming extinct. </p> <p>“If a house would decrease in the same ratio as in the last ten or twenty years, it might be easy to tell when the last horse would give up his stall to an automobile,” the prediction read.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Self-launching beds</em></span></p> <p>Another not-so accurate prediction claimed that beds would soon come with a feature that would override the use for an alarm clock, but would come with a mechanism to launch you out of bed in the morning. </p> <p>Describing this futuristic scenario, the reporter wrote: “My bed turns over automatically and I am deposited on the floor”.</p> <p>“Eight o’clock and the switch operating above the fiendish substitute for an alarm clock is operated from school, so at the moment, I am in the same predicament as the rest of the 450 scholars.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

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Police fatally shoot armed 16-year-old after Bunnings carpark stabbing

<p>A 16-year-old boy has been shot dead by police after he stabbed a man in the carpark of a Bunnings Warehouse on Saturday night. </p> <p>WA Police were called to the hardware store in south Perth, which was closed at the time of the incident, after they received a call from the teen saying he was going to commit acts of violence. </p> <p>A second emergency call was then made a short time later after the teenager stabbed a man in the carpark, in what appears to be a random attack. </p> <p>Police Commissioner Col Blanch said when they arrived on the scene, they found a 16-year-old armed with a large kitchen knife.</p> <p>Commissioner Blanch said the boy lunged at officers with the knife and was shot, and died a short time later in hospital.</p> <p>The man who was stabbed, who is in his 30s, is recovering in hospital and is believed to be in a serious but stable condition.</p> <p>The police commissioner and WA Premier Roger Cook held a press conference on Sunday morning and described the incident as "extremely confronting".</p> <p>They said the boy was "running around a car park, armed with a knife" when police arrived. </p> <p>"They [WA police] exited their vehicle and were confronted with a male alone with a large kitchen knife," Commissioner Blanch said.</p> <p>"Two officers drew their tasers and one of the officers drew his firearm. They challenged the male to put down the knife, which he did not."</p> <p>Mr Cook said there were indications the boy had been radicalised online, saying at the press conference, "I want to reassure the community at this stage it appears that he acted solely and alone."</p> <p>"Members of the WA Muslim community, who were concerned by his behaviour, contacted police prior to the incident and I thank them for their help."</p> <p>It was also said the boy's family was cooperating with police.</p> <p>Commissioner Blanch said the incident was not being labelled as a terrorist attack at this stage.</p> <p>"It certainly has the hallmarks of one [but] the reason why I would declare it as a terrorist act going forward — it's about timing," Commissioner Blanch said.</p> <p>"That's something that we can work towards as we find out more information from the motivations behind this."</p> <p><em>Image credits: ABC / Shutterstock</em></p>

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“Such a cowardly thing”: Police hunt after e-scooter hit-and-run on 81-year-old woman

<p>Victoria Police have released an image of a man wanted in connection to an alleged attack on at 81-year-old outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground after an AFL game last Friday. </p> <p>Jessie Hatch, 81, was walking towards Jolimont Railway Station around 11pm when she was confronted by a man on an e-scooter, who told her to “move off the footpath”.</p> <p>Hatch then "explained that the footpath is not for vehicles and walked around him”, prompting the man to ride off, but he quickly turned around before allegedly hitting her from behind, causing her to fall to the ground and lose consciousness.</p> <p>According to Victoria Police, the rider allegedly did not stop to assist Hatch, and was unsuccessfully chased by a passerby.</p> <p>He was last seen heading west from the Swan Street Bridge.</p> <p>“She walked between 7-10m away and this guy’s doubled back and then smashed her from behind,” Jessie's son Ken told <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/mans-words-to-elderly-collingwood-fan-jessie-hatch-before-allegedly-hitting-her-with-e-scooter-in-mcg-hit-and-run-c-14571902" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>7News</em></a>.</p> <p>“Apparently she stopped breathing for 20 seconds or so, that’s what we heard.”</p> <p>Jessie is still in hospital recovering with five stitches in her hand and undergoing more tests on her spine to see if there is permanent damage.</p> <p>“Such a cowardly thing, I don’t know what would have gone into his head to do that,” Jessie told <em>7News</em> from her hospital bed.</p> <p>“Why would somebody do that? He should be ashamed of himself.”</p> <p>Police are investigating the incident, with Ken calling on the alleged perpetrator to come forward.</p> <p>“You made a mistake, you did something wrong, come forward,” he added.</p> <p>The man allegedly involved in the incident was of average height and had fair skin and a stocky build, with straight blonde/brown hair and grey/blue eyes.</p> <div> </div> <p>He was wearing thick-lensed glasses and a red jacket made of a shiny, waterproof material.</p> <p>Jessie’s story quickly gained attention around the AFL world, and Collingwood legend Peter Daicos was among those to offer his support.</p> <p>“I wanted to reach out, I heard about the incident after the game,” he said.</p> <p>“I hope you’re feeling better and I’m really looking forward to hearing that you’re back at the Collingwood games.</p> <p>“All the best from not just myself, but the boys and importantly the Collingwood Football Club. All our love, get well soon.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News</em></p> <div class="hide-print ad-no-notice css-qyun7f-StyledAdUnitWrapper ezkyf1c0" style="box-sizing: border-box; caret-color: #292a33; color: #292a33; font-family: HeyWow, Montserrat, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 15px;"> </div>

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Australian churches collectively raise billions of dollars a year – why aren’t they taxed?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706">Dale Boccabella</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>There’s a good reason your local volunteer-run netball club doesn’t pay tax. In Australia, various nonprofit organisations are exempt from paying income tax, including those that do charitable work, such as churches.</p> <p>These exemptions or concessions can also extend to other taxes, including fringe benefits tax, state and local government property taxes and payroll taxes.</p> <p>The traditional justification for granting these concessions is that charitable activities benefit society. They contribute to the wellbeing of the community in a variety of non-religious ways.</p> <p>For example, charities offer welfare, health care and education services that the government would generally otherwise provide due to their obvious public benefits. The tax exemption, which allows a charity to retain all the funds it raises, provides the financial support required to relieve the government of this burden.</p> <p>The nonprofit sector is often called the third sector of society, the other two being government and for-profit businesses. But in Australia, this third sector is quite large. Some grassroots organisations have only a tiny footprint, but other nonprofits are very large. And many of these bigger entities – including some “megachurches” – run huge commercial enterprises. These are often indistinguishable from comparable business activities in the for-profit sector.</p> <p>So why doesn’t this revenue get taxed? And should we really give all nonprofits the same tax exemptions?</p> <h2>Why don’t churches pay tax?</h2> <p>The primary aim of a church is to advance or promote its religion. This itself counts as a charitable purpose under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">2013 Charities Act</a>. However, section five of that act requires a church to have only charitable purposes – any other purposes must be incidental to or in aid of these.</p> <p>Viewed alone, the conduct of a church with an extensive commercial enterprise – which could include selling merchandise, or holding concerts and conferences – is not a charitable purpose.</p> <p>But Australian case law and <a href="https://www.acnc.gov.au/for-charities/start-charity/role-acnc-deciding-charity-status/legal-meaning-charity#:%7E:text=Taxation%20Ruling%20(TR)%202011%2F,set%20out%20in%20taxation%20rulings.">an ATO ruling</a> both support the idea that carrying on business-like activities can be incidental to or in aid of a charitable purpose. This could be the case, for example, if a large church’s commercial activities were to help give effect to its charitable purposes.</p> <p>Because of this, under Australia’s current income tax law, a church that is running a large commercial enterprise is able to retain its exemption from income tax on the profits from these activities.</p> <p>There are various public policy concerns with this. First, the lost tax revenue is likely to be significant, although the government’s annual tax expenditure statement does not currently provide an estimate of the amount of tax revenue lost.</p> <p>And second, the tax exemption may give rise to unfairness. A for-profit business competing with a church in a relevant industry may be at a competitive disadvantage – despite similar business activities, the for-profit entity pays income tax but the church does not. This competitive disadvantage may be reflected in lower prices for customers of the church business.</p> <h2>What about taxing their employees?</h2> <p>Churches that run extensive enterprises are likely to have many employees. Generally, all the normal Australian tax rules apply to the way these employees are paid – for example, employees pay income tax on these wages. Distributing profits to members would go against the usual rules of the church, and this prohibition is <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">required</a> anyway for an organisation to qualify as a charity.</p> <p>Some churches may be criticised for paying their founders or leaders “excessive” wages, but these are still taxed in the same way as normal salaries.</p> <p>It’s important to consider fringe benefit tax – which employers have to pay on certain benefits they provide to employees. Aside from some qualifications, all the usual <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/how-fringe-benefits-tax-works">fringe benefit tax rules</a> apply to non-wage benefits provided to employees of a church.</p> <p>Just like their commercial (and taxable) counterparts, the payment for “luxury” travel and accommodation for church leaders and employees when on church business will not generate a fringe benefits taxable amount for the church.</p> <p>One qualification, though, is that a church is likely to be a <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/fbt-concessions-for-not-for-profit-organisations/fbt-rebatable-employers">rebatable employer</a> under the fringe benefit tax regime. This means it can obtain some tax relief on benefits provided to each employee, up to a cap.</p> <h2>We may need to rethink blanket tax exemptions for charities</h2> <p>Back in an age where nonprofits were mainly small and focused on addressing the needs of people failed by the market, the income tax exemption for such charities appeared appropriate.</p> <p>But in the modern era, some charities – including some churches – operate huge business enterprises and collect rent on extensive property holdings.</p> <p>Many are now questioning whether we should continue offering them an uncapped exemption from income tax, especially where there are questions surrounding how appropriately these profits are used.</p> <p>Debates about solutions to the problem have focused on various arguments. However, more data may be needed on the way charities apply their profits to a charitable purpose, particularly those involved in substantial commercial activities.</p> <p>An all-or-nothing rule exempting the whole charitable sector may no longer be fit for purpose if it fails to take into account the very different circumstances of different nonprofits.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228901/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706"><em>Dale Boccabella</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Taxation Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, Senior Lecturer Taxation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>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/australian-churches-collectively-raise-billions-of-dollars-a-year-why-arent-they-taxed-228901">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Nine-year-old Aussie ballet prodigy scores full New York scholarship

<p>A talented nine-year-old is heading to New York City, after scoring a full scholarship to a prestigious ballet school. </p> <p>Malcolm Doyle's dad Nick said he and his wife knew their son had a talent for dance from a young age, and could not be more proud of the international attention his dancing has garnered.</p> <p>"He's been doing really well here in Australia and since last year, there's been a bit of a focus from overseas," Nick told <em><a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/aussie-billy-elliot-nine-year-old-ballet-prodigy-scores-scholarship-to-prestigious-new-york-academy/4e3fdf08-3fb7-41a4-89df-eb6ee4b58095" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Today</a></em>.</p> <p>"He got brought in to do an audition for Chicago's A and A Ballet, who were doing a world broadcast for auditions and from there, we just started to get a bit of interest."</p> <p>"And then this year, we let him do the auditions for the Royal Ballet and he ended up in Hong Kong over Easter."</p> <p>From there, Nick said the American Ballet Theatre in New York got in contact and offered Malcolm a scholarship. </p> <p>Malcolm ultimately turned down the offer and signed with another NYC school, the Ellison Theatre, who offered the youngster a full ride. </p> <p>The family are currently saving up to buy flights over to the US to check out the school, with Nick saying they will do anything and everything to support their son's dream. </p> <p>"It's taking quite a bit of the funds out of my bank account, but the love he's got for dancing, you can't stop him and even if we wanted to, I mean we get home after he's had a full day of dance and he's still dancing around the house," Nick said.</p> <p>Malcolm's dad has a performing arts background and his mum is also a classically trained ballerina and teacher, so Nick said Malcolm was either going to inherit the genes or "end up having three left feet".</p> <p>"He went and saw a production by the Queensland Ballet on the weekend, which he had never seen before and he walked out with half the choreography memorised in his head and trying to reproduce it.," Nick said.</p> <p>After being dubbed "Australia's own Billy Elliot", the Today hosts asked Malcom what it is he loves so much about dancing.</p> <p>"It makes me feel really excited and it's so amazing for me, the feeling I get when I dance," Malcolm said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today  </em></p>

Music

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Jock Zonfrillo honoured one year after passing

<p>Jock Zonfrillo has been remembered by his wife, Lauren Fried, and friend, Jimmy Barnes, a year after the MasterChef judge's tragic death. </p> <p>Fried organised a moving piper memorial for her late husband, which friends and family attended. </p> <p>His wife took to Instagram to share a montage of images from their life together with the caption: "One year. We watched the sunrise today in true Scottish style - wind, pouring rain, and Jock's beloved bagpipes as our soundtrack."</p> <p>"A day for us to try to accept that he's not coming home, that this is forever, that we were lucky he was ours," she added. </p> <p>"Forever their Papa and Dad. Forever My Love."</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" 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);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C6aIKvmvRsj/?utm_source=ig_embed&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> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </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;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C6aIKvmvRsj/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Jock Zonfrillo (posts by Loz) (@zonfrillo)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Jimmy Barnes shared a video of the poignant bagpipe-led tribute held at dawn in Bondi Beach on Wednesday, as the rocker, Zonfrillo's family and friends watched on. </p> <p>“On the beach before dawn, a lone piper playing in memory of our dear friend Jock Zonfrillo who left us one year ago,” the rocker posted with a video of the piper playing.</p> <p>“It was a true Scottish morning, cold, wet, windy, sand blowing onto our faces. Yes you were there.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" 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);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C6Z53EHBg29/?utm_source=ig_embed&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> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </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;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C6Z53EHBg29/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Jimmy Barnes (@jimmybarnesofficial)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Barnes' wife, Jane also shared her grief and sent her love to Zonfrillo's family “Aah Jock, this year has flown by so fast but it feels like you’ve been gone for so long. The lonely bagpipe, the wind and rain, a Scottish scene,” she posted.</p> <p>Barnes and Zonfrillo became close friends as they bonded over their Scottish heritage and love of food. </p> <p><em>MasterChef Australia </em>also paid tribute to the fallen judge on the first anniversary of his passing, with a wooden bench featuring a plaque dedicated to the late chef in the<em> MasterChef </em>gardens at the show's Melbourne headquarters. </p> <p>“In memory of Jock, one year on. ‘In life, you give back more than you take,’” the post read.</p> <p>Fans took to the comments to share their tributes to the late judge. </p> <p>"Beautiful. Still difficult not to see him on MasterChef anymore," one wrote. </p> <p>"Fatherhood looked so good on him. I can’t believe a year has passed so quickly and yet so slowly at the same time…." another said.</p> <p>"I can't believe it's been a year. My heart is with the MC family today. I shed some tears with the opening show of this season. He is surely missed," a third wrote. </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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"An absolute hero": 10-year-old boy rescues drowning swimmer

<p>Miles Babcock has been made an honorary member of Careflight after saving a woman who was drowning in Sydney Harbour. </p> <p>Miles, who is just 10 years old, was paddle boarding with his dad Graham when they spotted the woman who was struggling in the water. </p> <p>The 10-year-old remained calm and collected after spotting the woman in distress, and began directing his dad over to help the woman out of the water. </p> <p>Graham could not contain his pride for his son, telling <em>Today</em> that he did everything in his power to rush to her aid.</p> <p>"I'm just incredibly proud, it's one of those confronting situations where you never really know how you're going to react," Graham said.</p> <p>"But Miles was the one who spotted the lady in distress, he kept the board steady and told me to get in the water and go and get her, he helped get her onto the board, helped turn her onto the side and helped pat her on the back to help clear her airways."</p> <p>"And then as soon as I asked him to jump off the board because we needed to get into shore as quickly as possible, he just did exactly that." </p> <p>Another nearby paddleboarder helped get the lady onto Miles and Graham's board, while Miles stayed behind to catch a ride back to shore with another boarder.</p> <p>"He was a real, real trooper and an absolute hero on the day," Graham said.</p> <p>"And then all the people who came in and helped were just fantastic, it was one of those things where everyone came together."</p> <p>People on the shore had already called triple zero and the Careflight team worked with lifeguards and paramedics to help get the woman to hospital where she is recovering.</p> <p>In the days after the rescue, Miles was called into the Careflight base to meet with the crew who helped the drowning woman, as they made him an an honorary Air Crew Officer and praised his "heroic rescue".</p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?height=314&amp;href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMyCareFlight%2Fvideos%2F416634217746897%2F&amp;show_text=false&amp;width=560&amp;t=0" width="560" height="314" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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Old woman targeted and accused of shoplifting

<p>The photo of an elderly woman has sparked widespread outrage, as the older woman was targeted by police officers who accused her of shoplifting. </p> <p>A bystander snapped a photo of an old lady standing outside a Coles supermarket, as she was set upon by two police officer who began sifting through her shopping to check if she had stolen anything. </p> <p>Posting the photo to X, the bystander explained how the situation unfolded. </p> <p>"I just saw this poor old lady get arrested by police for shoplifting food," the post read. </p> <p>"I told them that I'll pay for her food and let her go and then I got threatened with being arrested for obstructing police. Boycott Coles and Woolworths."</p> <p>The pictures show the woman talking with police in the Melbourne CBD as a number of items from her shopping are placed on the ground.</p> <p>Commenters online quickly jumped to fury over the situation, defending the woman and calling for empathy for older people who are struggling financially.</p> <p>"This is so messed up. If people are forced to steal food, we need a better alternative," one said.</p> <p>"The elderly do not have enough to live on, pension rises are not covering food and  utility price rises and the government couldn't care less," another said.</p> <p>"In my neck of the woods, I see some elderly folk snacking on grapes in supermarkets. They are left alone to do so by staff," a third added.</p> <p>"Seems like some training in empathy and kindness is needed," added a fourth. </p> <p><em>Image credits: X (Twitter)</em></p>

Legal

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John Travolta's heartbreaking tribute years after losing wife and son

<p>John Travolta has shared a heartbreaking post commemorating his late wife, Kelly Preston, and son, Jett Travolta. </p> <p>Jett was only 16 when he passed away while on vacation with his family in the Bahamas in 2009. He had a seizure at the time and hit his head on a bathtub at their vacation home. </p> <p>His wife Kelly died in July 2020 aged 57, two years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. </p> <p>John took to Instagram to share a throwback photo of their family, on what would've been Jett's 32nd birthday over the weekend. </p> <p>“Happy birthday my Jetty — not a day goes by where you’re not with me,” he wrote.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" 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);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5sBcYKN9ub/?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> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </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;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5sBcYKN9ub/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by John Travolta (@johntravolta)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The post gained 400,000 likes with fans and fellow celebrities rushing to the comments to share their support. </p> <p>“Will never forget him, or Kelly,” wrote actress and good friend Rita Wilson.</p> <p>“Always in your heart forever and ever,” added actress Kristin Chenoweth.</p> <p>“And you will see him and her again.”</p> <p>“They are together and some day you’ll all be together again. Happy heavenly birthday Jett,” wrote one follower.</p> <p>"Happy Birthday to Jett and beautiful Kelly...two angels watching over you and family," added another. </p> <p>The couple had two other children together — daughter Ella, 24, and son Benjamin, 13.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram/ Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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94-year-old grandma takes on huge travel challenge

<p>"Grandma Joy" Ryan was 91 when she first got her passport, and she hasn't stopped travelling since. </p> <p>Now aged 94, she is embarking on a new global challenge with her grandson Brad Ryan, 42, with the intergenerational duo planning to travel to all seven continents in the world together. </p> <p>"I don't have many years left, [so] you hop to it," Grandma Joy told <em>CNN Travel</em>. </p> <p> "If you slow down, you don't get anything done."</p> <p>The pair, who are from the US, have already travelled to three continents, visiting Banff National Park in Canada last year to "represent North America well beyond just our own country", and Africa in 2023, visiting both Amboseli National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. </p> <p>Their most recent trip was to South America, where they travelled to Ecuador, and spent time in  the Galapagos Islands, as well as Chile. </p> <p>"It was amazing to see those huge tortoises," Grandma Joy recalled. "They could raise their shells up just like a convertible or something."</p> <p>Prior to travelling the world together, the grandma-grandson duo were actually estranged for around a decade due to a family rift that occurred after Ryan's parents divorced. </p> <p>After reconnecting in 2010, Ryan was telling his grandma about his previous hiking adventures on the Appalachian Trail and Mount Kilimanjaro, when he learnt that his grandmother "had never set eyes on a mountain."</p> <p>"That was one of her lifelong regrets," he said. </p> <p>"Her travel had been limited to just a few road trips to Florida with my grandfather when he was alive.</p> <p>"Her view of the world was always what she saw on the Travel Channel or just on the news."</p> <p>That conversation stuck with him and the pair embarked on their first journey together in 2015, when Ryan decided to take a weekend road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. </p> <p>"At 85, she saw her first mountain, climbed her first mountain and went camping for the first time and fell off the air mattress a couple of times and didn't complain," he said. </p> <p>He added, that having to move more slowly as he was travelling with his grandma, meant that he was able to appreciate everything in a more meaningful way. </p> <p>"I wasn't rushing through the places that I was visiting. I was really taking the time to appreciate smaller details.</p> <p>"The lens through which she is seeing the world is very different to most people my age. She doesn't visit a place thinking, 'Well, I'll be back again,' so there's more presence."</p> <p>They kept the adventure going and decided to travel to the 62 other US National Parks, and while it took them almost eight years with two-month long breaks between each trip, Grandma Joy made history last year. </p> <p>She became the oldest person to visit all 63 National Parks in the US. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" 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);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CsU_w4-rqyP/?utm_source=ig_embed&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> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </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;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CsU_w4-rqyP/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Grandma Joy’s Road Trip — Brad and Joy Ryan (@grandmajoysroadtrip)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"Being an old person sitting on the porch, this makes you feel like, 'Well maybe I did accomplish something.' So I enjoyed every bit of it," she said. </p> <p>Ryan himself is very proud of his grandmother's achievement, and after going viral with their national parks quest in 2023, he said that travelling with her has been a life-changing experience. </p> <p>"She shattered my preconceived notions about what it means to be an older person,"  he said. </p> <p>"Because she wasn't just sitting in the passenger seat looking out the window, although we did that too."</p> <p>He then described how Grandma Joy went ziplining at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia and whitewater rafting at Wrangell St. Elias National Park in Alaska at the age of 91, and how she reminded him of all the possibilities that come with getting older. </p> <p>"I think we all have this sort of innate dread about getting older," he said. </p> <p>"And we think about the limitations instead of the possibilities. She [Grandma Joy] reminds us of the possibilities that still exist."</p> <p>While the pair are currently "still recovering" from their latest trip to South America, they shared their plan to visit Australia later this year, and hope to  "hop over to Asia" after. </p> <p>Once they've ticked off Australia and Asia off their list, they plan to visit Europe and hope to end their trip in Antarctica. </p> <p>"Antarctica is the one that's like the wildcard," Ryan said. "We would love that, but getting there is challenging.</p> <p>"I'd like to end big, and I think Antarctica would be the cherry on top of this adventure."</p> <p>The duo document all their adventures on their Instagram account, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/grandmajoysroadtrip/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">grandmajoysroadtrip</a> and despite people wondering when they would wrap it up, Grandma Joy's "willing spirit" keeps her going. </p> <p>"I just take one step at a time, one day at a time, and thank the Lord every morning for giving me one more day," she said. </p> <p>"I try to be an optimist. The glass is half full, not half empty. And the people that you meet along the way lift your spirits.</p> <p>"You see people in worse shape than you, and I just think 'I've got a lot to be thankful for.'</p> <p>"Not everybody's lucky enough to have a grandson that's willing to drag them around."</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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50 years on, Advance Australia Fair no longer reflects the values of many. What could replace it?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/wendy-hargreaves-1373285">Wendy Hargreaves</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>On April 8 1974, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announced to parliament the nation’s new national anthem: <a href="https://www.pmc.gov.au/honours-and-symbols/australian-national-symbols/australian-national-anthem">Advance Australia Fair</a>.</p> <p>Australia was growing up. We could stop saving “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Save_the_King">our gracious Queen</a>” and rejoice in being “young” and “girt”.</p> <p>Finding a new anthem hadn’t been easy. There were unsuccessful <a href="https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/fact-sheets/australias-national-anthem">songwriting competitions</a> and an unconvincing opinion poll. Finally, we landed on rebooting an Australian favourite from 1878.</p> <p>After Whitlam’s announcement, Australians argued, state officials declined the change and the next government reinstated the British anthem in part. It took another ten years, another poll and an official proclamation in 1984 to adopt the new anthem uniformly and get on with looking grown-up.</p> <p>Advance Australia Fair was never the ideal answer to “what shall we sing?”. The original lyrics ignored First Nations people and overlooked women. Like a grunting teenager, it both answered the question and left a lot out.</p> <p>On its 50th anniversary, it’s time to consider whether we got it right. Advance Australia Fair may have helped Australia transition through the 1970s, but in 2024, has it outstayed its welcome?</p> <h2>How do you pick a national anthem?</h2> <p>A national anthem is a government-authorised song performed at official occasions and celebrations. It unifies people and reinforces national identity. Often, governments nominate a tune by searching through historical patriotic songs to find a <a href="https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/golden-oldie">golden oldie</a> with known public appeal.</p> <p>For example, the lyrics of the Japanese anthem <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimigayo">Kimigayo</a> came from pre-10th-century poetry. Germany’s anthem <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Deutschlandlied">Deutschlandlied</a> adopted a 1797 melody from renowned composer <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Joseph-Haydn">Joseph Haydn</a>. An enduring song or text offers star quality, proven popularity and the prestige of age.</p> <p>In the 1970s, Australia’s attempt at finding a golden oldie was flawed. In that era, many believed Australia’s birth occurred at the arrival of explorer <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/James-Cook">James Cook</a> in 1770. Hence, we narrowed our search to hymns, marches and fanfares from our colonial history for possible anthems.</p> <p>With 2020s hindsight (pun intended), <a href="https://theconversation.com/our-national-anthem-is-non-inclusive-indigenous-australians-shouldnt-have-to-sing-it-118177">expecting First Nations</a> people to sing Advance Australia Fair was hypocritical. We wanted to raise Australia’s visibility internationally, yet the custodians of the lands and waterways were unseen by our country’s eyes. We championed “history’s page” with a 19th-century song that participated in racial discrimination.</p> <h2>Changing anthems</h2> <p>With a half-century on the scoreboard, are we locked in to singing Advance Australia Fair forever? No.</p> <p>Anthems can change. Just ask <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Morrison_(jazz_musician)">James Morrison</a>. In 2003, the Australian trumpeter played the Spanish national anthem beautifully at the <a href="https://www.daviscup.com/en/home.aspx">Davis Cup</a> tennis final. Unfortunately, he <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2003-11-28/spanish-angry-over-anthem-mix-up/1516684">played the old anthem</a> that heralded civil war.</p> <p>Morrison’s accidental performance incited a fist-shaking dignitary and an enraged Spanish team who temporarily refused to play. Morrison did, however, to his embarrassment, later receive some excited fan mail from Spanish revolutionists.</p> <p>If we want to change our anthem, where could we begin? We could start by revisiting the golden-oldie approach with a more inclusive ear. Perhaps there’s a song from contemporary First Nations musicians we could consider, or a song from their enduring oral tradition that they deem appropriate (and grant permission to use).</p> <p>If we have learnt anything from Australian history, it’s that we must include and ask – not exclude and take.</p> <p>We could also consider Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton’s 1987 song <a href="https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/asset/101146-i-am-australian-various">I Am Australian</a>, which reached golden-oldie status last year when the <a href="https://www.nfsa.gov.au/slip-slop-slap-i-am-australian-join-sounds-australia">National Film and Sound Archive</a> added it to their registry. The lyrics show the acknowledgement and respect of First Nations people that our current anthem lacks. The line “we are one, but we are many” captures the inclusivity with diversity we now value.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KrLTe1_9zso?wmode=transparent&start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>I Am Australian wouldn’t be a problem-free choice. Musically, the style is a “light rock” song, not a grand “hymn”, which could be a plus or minus depending on your view. Lyrically, romanticising convicted killer <a href="https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kelly-edward-ned-3933">Ned Kelly</a> is controversial, and mispronouncing “Australians” could be considered inauthentic (fair dinkum Aussies say “Au-strail-yins”, not “Au-stray-lee-uhns”).</p> <p>That said, Australians are quite experienced at patching holes in our anthem. Advance Australia Fair required many adjustments.</p> <p>If the golden-oldie approach fails again, how about composing a new anthem? We could adopt <a href="https://nationalanthems.info/ke.htm">Kenya’s approach</a> of commissioning an anthem, or could revive the good ol’ songwriting competition. Our past competitions weren’t fruitful, but surely our many talented musicians and poets today can meet the challenge.</p> <h2>It’s time to ask</h2> <p>Fifty years on, we acknowledge Advance Australia Fair as the anthem that moved our nation forward. That was the first and hardest step. Today, if Australians choose, we can retire the song gracefully and try again with a clearer voice.</p> <p>Changing our anthem begins with asking whether the current song really declares who we are. Have our values, our perspectives and our identity changed in half a century?</p> <p>Australia, it’s your song. Are you happy to sing Advance Australia Fair for another 50 years? <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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226737/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/wendy-hargreaves-1373285">Wendy Hargreaves</a>, Senior Learning Advisor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>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/50-years-on-advance-australia-fair-no-longer-reflects-the-values-of-many-what-could-replace-it-226737">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock | Wikimedia Commons</em></p>

Music

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Husband and wife with dementia reunite after 30 years apart

<p>A former husband and wife with dementia have been reunited after 30 years apart when they moved into the same care home. </p> <p>Nancy, 86, and Stan, 91, were first married in 1957 in Edinburgh, despite their parents "forbidding" their romance and not approving of their union. </p> <p>The couple went on to have three children and lived happily, until Nancy was nearly killed by a brain haemorrhage when she was in her mid-50s. </p> <p>Nancy had to undergo life-altering surgery and a lengthy recovery time, which ultimately led to the downfall of her relationship with Stan and they filed for divorce. </p> <p>After their split, Stan met another woman when he was in his 70s, while Nancy never had another romance. </p> <p>When Nancy and Stan entered their 80s, they both began to show signs of dementia and could no longer care for themselves. </p> <p>Around Christmas time last year, their daughter Karen made the decision to put her father Stan, who suffered a fall while being cared for in Scotland, in the same home as Nancy, which is where she captured the heartwarming footage of them being reunited.</p> <p>In the clip, Nancy tells Stan he is "not bad looking for his age", while her ex-husband replies, "I recognise your face but I couldn't place who it was".</p> <p>The couple then agree to go on a date together and have a cup of tea, before having a kiss for "old time's sake."</p> <p style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #323338; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; outline: currentcolor !important;">The video was posted to TikTok by Karen's daughter Sarah-Ashleigh, who spoke to the <em><a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13196325/Heartwarming-moment-former-husband-wife-dementia-reunited-care-home-30-years-apart.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Daily Mail</a></em> about the family's decision to put both Nancy and Stan in the same care home. </p> <div class="embed" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: currentcolor !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: none; vertical-align: baseline; width: 600px; max-width: 100%; outline: currentcolor !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7341697620181519648&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40sarahashleighflorals%2Fvideo%2F7341697620181519648&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-useast2a.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-useast2a-p-0037-euttp%2F4189e3105ed04778a3de6a83a40077b6_1709372224%3Fx-expires%3D1712448000%26x-signature%3DcpIHZABQ%252FDnAqGU7bJYeryVnJlU%253D&key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>"We were so worried how this would go. It's so good to see them be friends again," she said.</p> <p>"Dementia is a horrible disease, but it's moments like this which we really just hold on to."</p> <p>"Granny struggles a bit more in general and gets anxious and confused but I think having someone there who she knows has done wonders for her."</p> <p>"She's always looking for him (even when he's right next to her) and they sit together a lot and bicker like the married couple they used to be."</p> <p>"Love might not be the same kind of love forever, it is a shape shifter, but it never leaves."</p> <p>"Their marriage didn't last forever but just seeing them have a friendship again just shows that love never dies."</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Caring

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Qantas connects two destinations for the first time in 50 years

<p>Qantas has announced a new international route that will see Aussies connected to a popular holiday destination for the first time in 50 years. </p> <p>Two return flights will operate each week between Sydney and Papua New Guinea's Port Moresby, adding to the service already running to the island nation from Brisbane. </p> <p>“These flights will meet the growing demand from the business community for travel between Australia and Papua New Guinea,” Cam Wallace, CEO of Qantas International and Freight, said. </p> <p>“Our new Sydney service will save customers at least three hours in travel time on return trip by avoiding a stopover in Brisbane.”</p> <p>The route is the latest international service to be added to Qantas’ network out of Sydney, with the airline suggesting it will support both business and trade between Australia and Papua New Guinea.</p> <p>Trailing behind island nations such as Fiji and Indonesia, Papua New Guinea's tourism industry is steadily growing in popularity largely due to containing the world’s third largest rainforest, crystal clear waters, and 45,000km of coral reefs.</p> <p>As the number of annual travellers to PNG increases, so does accommodation options, with Marriott International announcing earlier this year that they would be expanding their accommodation into Papua New Guinea, marketing those wishing to have an “extended stay”.</p> <p>“We are thrilled to establish our inaugural foothold in Papua New Guinea with this milestone opening”, said Sean Hunt, area vice-president of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific for Marriott International, in a statement.</p> <p>“This is also a debut for the Marriott Executive Apartments brand in the region, allowing us to diversify our offering to cater to ambitious and adventurous travellers who seek a premium, trusted extended-stay experience.”</p> <p>While the new tourism initiatives have been put in place to help boost the economy of PNG, Papua New Guinea currently has travel advisory warnings in place, with SmartTraveller urging visitors to “exercise a high degree of caution in Papua New Guinea overall due to high levels of serious crime, with “higher levels” applying in some areas.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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10 million animals die on our roads each year. Here’s what works (and what doesn’t) to cut the toll

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778">Graeme Coulson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>There’s almost no warning. A dark shape appears on the side of the road, then you feel a jolt as something goes under the car. Or worse, the shape rears up, hits the front of your vehicle, then slams into the windscreen. You have just experienced a wildlife-vehicle collision.</p> <p>This gruesome scene plays out <a href="https://www.bbcearth.com/news/australias-road-kill-map">every night across Australia</a>. When these collisions happen, many animals become instant roadkill. An <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/handle/2123/23121/Thesis%20updated%20for%20library%20submission.pdf?sequence=1">estimated 10 million</a> native mammals, reptiles, birds and other species are killed each year.</p> <p>Others are injured and die away from the road. Some survive with <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">terrible injuries and have to be euthanised</a>. The lucky ones might <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">be rescued</a> by groups such as <a href="https://wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue</a>, <a href="https://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/">Wildlife Victoria</a> and <a href="https://www.wires.org.au/">WIRES</a>.</p> <p>Wildlife-vehicle collisions also increase the risk to whole populations of some threatened species, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/WR17143">Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo</a> on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland.</p> <p>People are affected, too. Human <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/1742-6723.13361">deaths and injuries</a> from these collisions are rising, with motorcyclists at greatest risk. Vehicle repairs are <a href="https://www.mynrma.com.au/-/media/wildlife-road-safety-report--final.pdf">inconvenient and costly</a>. Added to this is the distress for people when dealing with a dead or dying animal on the roadside.</p> <p>How can we reduce the wildlife toll on our roads? Many measures have been tried and proven largely ineffective. However, other evidence-based approaches can help avoid collisions.</p> <h2>Evidence for what works is limited</h2> <p>Many communities are worried about the growing impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions and are desperate for solutions. Recent reports from <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">Europe</a> and <a href="https://westerntransportationinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/4w7576_Huijser_etal_WVC_ConnectivityLiteratureReview_PooledFundStudyFinalReport_2021.pdf">North America</a> review the many methods to reduce such collisions.</p> <p>Do these findings apply to Australia’s unique fauna? Unfortunately, we don’t have a detailed analysis of options for our wildlife, but here’s what we know now.</p> <p>Well-designed fences keep wildlife off our highways but also fragment the landscape. Happily, animals will use crossing structures – overpasses and <a href="https://theconversation.com/good-news-highway-underpasses-for-wildlife-actually-work-187434">underpasses</a> – to get to food and mates on the other side of the road. Fences and crossings do work, but are regarded as too costly over Australia’s vast road network.</p> <p>As for standard wildlife warning signs, drivers <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494358/">ignore most of them</a> after a while, making them ineffective. Signs with graphic images and variable messages get <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani3041142">more attention</a>, but we need road trials to assess their effect on drivers and collision rates.</p> <h2>Whistling in the dark</h2> <p>Some drivers install cheap, wind-driven, high-pitched wildlife whistles on their vehicles. Tests in the United States 20 years ago found humans and deer <a href="https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1582071">could not hear any whistling sound</a> above the road noise of the test vehicle. Yet these devices are still sold in Australia as kangaroo deterrents.</p> <p>The Shu-Roo, an Australian invention, is an active wildlife whistle. It is fitted to the bumper bar, producing a high-pitched electronic sound, which is claimed to scare wildlife away from the road. Sadly, <a href="https://rest.neptune-prod.its.unimelb.edu.au/server/api/core/bitstreams/3c3154e0-2f48-5b73-a6cd-a7423c2a75ee/content">our tests</a> show the Shu-Roo signal can’t be heard above road noise 50 metres away and has no effect on captive kangaroo behaviour.</p> <p>We also recruited fleets of trucks, buses, vans, utes and cars to field test the Shu-Roo. Nearly 100 vehicles covered more than 4 million kilometres across Australia over 15,500 days. The drivers reported just over one wildlife-vehicle collision per 100,000km travelled, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2021.042">there was no difference in the rate</a> for vehicles fitted with a Shu-Roo versus those without one.</p> <p>The virtual fence is the latest attempt to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. It uses a line of posts spaced along the roadside, each with a unit producing loud sounds and flashing lights aimed away from the road. Vehicle headlights activate the units, which are claimed to alert animals and reduce the risk of collision.</p> <p>Early results from Tasmania were encouraging. A 50% drop in possum and wallaby deaths was reported, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/AM19009">this trial had many design flaws</a>. Recent trials in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/10/752">Tasmania</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/10/1323">New South Wales</a> and <a href="https://www.redland.qld.gov.au/downloads/download/292/virtual_fence_to_reduce_vehicle_collisions_with_wallabies_on_heinemann_rd_-_final_report_2020">Queensland</a> show no effect of virtual fencing on collisions with possums, wallabies or wombats.</p> <p>Our concern is that this system is being <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-02/wildlife-fence-trial-underway-in-queensland-and-phillip-island/12268110">rolled out</a> in <a href="https://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/about-council/news-and-publications/media-releases/2023/june/councils-innovative-trial-helping-keep-local-wildlife-safe">many</a> <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-26/nsw-south-coast-council-first-virtual-fence-to-protect-wildlife/101571600">parts</a> of <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/the-stealth-tech-aiming-to-stop-roos-from-becoming-roadkill-20231222-p5etda.html">Australia</a>. It gives the impression of action to reduce collisions with wildlife, but without an evidence base, solid study design or adequate monitoring.</p> <h2>A very messy problem</h2> <p>The problem has many dimensions. We need to consider all of them to achieve safe travel for people and animals on our roads.</p> <p>At a landscape level, collision hotspots occur where wildlife frequently cross roads, which can help us predict the collision risk for species such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13465">koalas</a>. But the risk differs between species. For example, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01530">on Phillip Island</a> most wallaby collisions happen on rural roads, while most involving possums and birds are in urban streets.</p> <p>Traffic volume and speed are key factors for many species, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2306">kangaroos</a>.</p> <p>Driver training and experience are also important. In the Royal National Park in New South Wales, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/6/6/40">half the drivers surveyed</a> had struck animals, including wallabies and deer. Yet most still <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">weren’t keen</a> to slow down or avoid driving at dawn and dusk.</p> <p>Road design has a major influence on wildlife-vehicle collions too, but the planning process too often <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2022.959918">neglects wildlife studies</a>.</p> <p>Smarter cars are <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">being developed</a>. One day these will use AI to spot animal hazards, apply automatic emergency braking and alert other drivers of real-time risk.</p> <p>To explore potential technological solutions, Transport for NSW is running a <a href="https://www.eianz.org/events/event/symposium-using-technology-to-reduce-wildlife-vehicle-collisions">symposium</a> at the University of Technology Sydney on May 21. The symposium will cover wildlife ecology and the evidence base for options to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions in Australia.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If you see an injured animal on the road, call <a href="https://www.wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue Australia</a> on 1300 596 457. for specific state and territory numbers, go to the <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">RSPCA injured wildlife site</a>.</em><!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222367/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778"><em>Graeme Coulson</em></a><em>, Honorary Principal Fellow, School of BioSciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>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/10-million-animals-die-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-what-works-and-what-doesnt-to-cut-the-toll-222367">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Heroic great-grandma saves two-year-old from collapsed ceiling

<p>In a heart-stopping moment of bravery and maternal instinct, 88-year-old Nicky Panagiotidis shielded her great-grandson, two-year-old Harvey, from a collapsing ceiling in their Melbourne home.</p> <p>The incident occurred at Panagiotidis' residence in Ascot Vale, where she was caring for Harvey late in the afternoon.</p> <p>According to Harvey's mother, Nicole Brown, the terrifying ordeal unfolded suddenly. As the ceiling began to crack, Panagiotidis swiftly reacted, rolling over off the couch to cover young Harvey with her own body. Brown, overwhelmed with gratitude and admiration for her grandmother's quick thinking, remarked, "I just know that motherly instinct that she has went through her to be a hero - she is actually a hero for him," <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/ascot-vale-great-grandmother-saves-grandson-from-ceiling-collapse/9f2bd38f-5254-4f53-981b-e3fb4b9c1bd9" target="_blank" rel="noopener">she told 9News</a>.</p> <p>In a moment of urgency, Panagiotidis managed to contact her daughter, Julie Polimos, informing her of the dire situation: "The ceiling is on top of me and we can't move." Emergency services promptly arrived at the scene, discovering the pair with thankfully minimal injuries.</p> <p>Despite the trauma of the event, Panagiotidis displayed remarkable resilience. Despite suffering bruising on her back and shoulders, she managed to walk to the ambulance and was later discharged from the hospital.</p> <p>Speaking of her mother's strength, Polimos highlighted Panagiotidis' dedication to traditional values, noting her commitment to home-cooked Greek Mediterranean meals over takeaways. "She doesn't buy takeaways, she always cooks home meals... Greek Mediterranean meals," Polimos proudly stated.</p> <p>The family attributes the ceiling collapse to a water leak, which they had noticed a week prior, observing cracks and sagging in the structure. However, amidst the unfortunate circumstances, they are immensely grateful for the fortunate outcome and the selfless actions of Panagiotidis, which will undoubtedly be remembered as a testament to the extraordinary love shared within the family.</p> <p><em>Images: 9News</em></p>

Family & Pets

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On a climate rollercoaster: how Australia’s environment fared in the world’s hottest year

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/albert-van-dijk-25318">Albert Van Dijk</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shoshana-rapley-711675">Shoshana Rapley</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tayla-lawrie-1517759">Tayla Lawrie</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Global climate <a href="https://wmo.int/media/news/wmo-confirms-2023-smashes-global-temperature-record">records were shattered</a> in 2023, from air and sea temperatures to sea-level rise and sea-ice extent. Scores of countries recorded their hottest year and numerous weather disasters occurred as climate change reared its head.</p> <p>How did Australia’s environment fare against this onslaught? In short, 2023 was a year of opposites.</p> <p>For the past nine years, we have trawled through huge volumes of data collected by satellites, measurement stations and surveys by individuals and agencies. We include data on global change, oceans, people, weather, water, soils, vegetation, fire and biodiversity.</p> <p>Each year, we analyse those data, summarising them in an <a href="https://bit.ly/ausenv2023">annual report</a> that includes an overall Environmental Condition Score and <a href="https://ausenv.online/aer/scorecards/">regional scorecards</a>. These scores provide a relative measure of conditions for agriculture and ecosystems. Scores declined across the country, except in the Northern Territory, but were still relatively good.</p> <p>However, the updated <a href="https://tsx.org.au/">Threatened Species Index</a> shows the abundance of listed bird, mammal and plant species has continued to decline at a rate of about 3% a year since the turn of the century.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Environmental condition indicators for 2023, showing the changes from 2000–2022 average values. Such differences can be part of a long-term trend or within normal variability.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.wenfo.org/aer/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/2023_Australias_Environment_Report-1.pdf">Australia's Environment 2023 Report.</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Riding a climate rollercoaster in 2023</h2> <p>Worldwide, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-2023s-record-heat-worsened-droughts-floods-and-bushfires-around-the-world-220836">77 countries broke temperature records</a>. Australia was not one of them. Our annual average temperature was 0.53°C below the horror year 2019. Temperatures in the seas around us were below the records of 2022.</p> <p>Even so, 2023 was among Australia’s eight warmest years in both cases. All eight came after 2005.</p> <p>However, those numbers are averaged over the year. Dig a bit deeper and it becomes clear 2023 was a climate rollercoaster.</p> <p>The year started as wet as the previous year ended, but dry and unseasonably warm weather set in from May to October. Soils and wetlands across much of the country started drying rapidly. In the eastern states, the fire season started as early as August.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there was generally still enough water to support good vegetation growth throughout the unusually warm and sunny winter months.</p> <p>Fears of a severe fire season were not realised as El Niño’s influence waned in November and rainfall returned, in part due to the warm oceans. Combined with relatively high temperatures, it made for a hot and humid summer. A tropical cyclone and several severe storms caused flooding in Queensland and Victoria in December.</p> <p>As always, there were regional differences. Northern Australia experienced the best rainfall and growth conditions in several years. This contributed to more grass fires than average during the dry season. On the other hand, the rain did not return to Western Australia and Tasmania, which ended the year dry.</p> <h2>So how did scores change?</h2> <p>Every year we calculate an Environmental Condition Score that combines weather, water and vegetation data.</p> <p>The national score was 7.5 (out of 10). That was 1.2 points lower than for 2022, but still the second-highest score since 2011.</p> <p>Scores declined across the country except for the Northern Territory, which chalked up a score of 8.8 thanks to a strong monsoon season. With signs of drought developing in parts of Western Australia, it had the lowest score of 5.5.</p> <p>The Environmental Condition Score reflects environmental conditions, but does not measure the long-term health of natural ecosystems and biodiversity.</p> <p>Firstly, it relates only to the land and not our oceans. Marine heatwaves damaged ecosystems along the eastern coast. Surveys in the first half of 2023 suggested the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef plateaued.</p> <p>However, a cyclone and rising ocean temperatures occurred later in the year. In early 2024, <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-great-barrier-reefs-latest-bout-of-bleaching-is-the-fifth-in-eight-summers-the-corals-now-have-almost-no-reprieve-225348">another mass coral bleaching event</a> developed.</p> <p>Secondly, the score does not capture important processes affecting our many threatened species. Among the greatest dangers are invasive pests and diseases, habitat destruction and damage from severe weather events such as heatwaves and megafires.</p> <h2>Threatened species’ declines continued</h2> <p>The <a href="https://tsx.org.au/">Threatened Species Index</a> captures data from long-term threatened species monitoring. The index is updated annually with a three-year lag, largely due to delays in data processing and sharing. This means the 2023 index includes data up to 2020.</p> <p>The index showed an unrelenting decline of about 3% in the abundance of Australia’s threatened bird, mammal and plant species each year. This amounts to an overall decline of 61% from 2000 to 2020.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Line graph of Threatened Species Index" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Threatened Species Index showing the abundance of different categories of species listed under the EPBC Act relative to 2000.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.wenfo.org/aer/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/2023_Australias_Environment_Report-1.pdf">Australia's Environment 2023 Report</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The index for birds in 2023 revealed declines were most severe for terrestrial birds (62%), followed by migratory shorebirds (47%) and marine birds (24%).</p> <p>A record 130 species were added to Australia’s <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/biodiversity/threatened/nominations">threatened species lists</a> in 2023. That’s many more than the annual average of 29 species over previous years. The 2019–2020 <a href="https://theconversation.com/200-experts-dissected-the-black-summer-bushfires-in-unprecedented-detail-here-are-6-lessons-to-heed-198989">Black Summer bushfires</a> had direct impacts on half the newly listed species.</p> <h2>Population boom adds to pressures</h2> <p>Australia’s population passed <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/population-clock-pyramid">27 million</a> in 2023, a stunning increase of 8 million, or 41%, since 2000. Those extra people all needed living space, food, electricity and transport.</p> <p>Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/climate-change/publications/australias-emissions-projections-2023">have risen by 18% since 2000</a>. Despite small declines in the previous four years, emissions increased again in 2023, mostly due to air travel rebounding after COVID-19.</p> <p>Our emissions per person are the <a href="https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/report_2023">tenth-highest in the world</a> and more than three times those of the average global citizen. The main reasons are our coal-fired power stations, <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-passenger-vehicle-emission-rates-are-50-higher-than-the-rest-of-the-world-and-its-getting-worse-222398">inefficient road vehicles</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/mar/11/how-many-cattle-are-there-in-australia-we-may-be-out-by-10-million">large cattle herd</a>.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there are reasons to be optimistic. Many other countries have dramatically <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/co2-gdp-decoupling">reduced emissions without compromising economic growth</a> or quality of life. All we have to do is to finally follow their lead.</p> <p>Our governments have an obvious role to play, but we can do a lot as individuals. We can even save money, by switching to renewable energy and electric vehicles and by eating less beef.</p> <p>Changing our behaviour will not stop climate change in its tracks, but will slow it down over the next decades and ultimately reverse it. We cannot reverse or even stop all damage to our environment, but we can certainly do much better.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225268/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/albert-van-dijk-25318">Albert Van Dijk</a>, Professor, Water and Landscape Dynamics, Fenner School of Environment &amp; Society, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shoshana-rapley-711675">Shoshana Rapley</a>, Research Assistant, Fenner School of Environment &amp; Society, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tayla-lawrie-1517759">Tayla Lawrie</a>, Project Manager, Threatened Species Index, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>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/on-a-climate-rollercoaster-how-australias-environment-fared-in-the-worlds-hottest-year-225268">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Dean Ingwerson | NSW.gov.au</em></p>

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Firefighter praised for sweet interaction with three-year-old

<p>A cooking mishap for one Aussie family ended with a heartwarming moment shared between a firefighter and a young girl meeting her hero for the first time. </p> <p>Firefighters were called to a home at Blue Haven on the NSW Central Coast on Saturday, after a fire broke out on a kitchen stove top and spread to the range hood. </p> <p>They were quick to put out the blaze and just as they were about to leave, three-year-old Mia was too excited to meet her heroes that she couldn't let them leave just yet. </p> <p>"Once we got there and ascertained that there was no fire spread to the roof and other areas... their daughter decided to take me away into the room to see the new books she got," Doyalson Fire and Rescue Station Manager Dirk Ziekenheiner told Yahoo News.  </p> <p>"Which I then obviously took the opportunity to read," he added.</p> <p>A picture of the sweet moment was shared on social media, with the firefighter sat on one of Mia's pink chairs and the three-year-old keenly listening to him read the story. </p> <p>Mia also impressed the firefighter with her own safety knowledge, as she shared her understanding of calling Triple-Zero in an emergency, how to escape a fire and the importance staying outside after evacuating. </p> <p>"Obviously her parents did really well and schools pass on the message, and you know that safety messages are key to surviving a house fire, especially these days," Ziekenheiner said.</p> <p>"If you don't know what to do, and you never plan for it, then you're probably behind the eight ball... this girl was amazing, she knew all those key messages which is really important."</p> <p>Aussies praised the firefighter in the comments of the post, with many of them commenting on how "cute" the moment was. </p> <p>Mia's father, James, also added that his daughter was very excited to meet her heroes despite the circumstances. </p> <p>"Mia watches a lot of children's TV shows which feature firefighters so she already knows they're heroes and they rescue people," James said.</p> <p>"Having now seen first-hand the great work they do, we'll continue to spread the word about fire safety and we encourage others to do the same.</p> <p>"Our family never thought we'd come this close to losing our home to fire, so the key is to not be complacent about the risks."</p> <p><em>Image: Fire and Rescue NSW / Facebook</em></p> <p> </p>

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