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Brothers' epic journey across Australia to raise money for cancer

<p>Brothers Stefan and Lachlan Lamble have firsthand experience on how devastating cancer can be.</p> <p>The brothers, both in their 20s, lost their grandmother to breast cancer eight years ago, and recently had their other grandmother pull through a difficult cancer battle. </p> <p>After being inspired by their family's hardships, the Lamble brothers have set out on an epic adventure to cross Australia by foot in just 100 days. </p> <p>Stefan and Lachlan began their journey in Perth in February, and have spent 66 days so far battling difficult conditions while pushing their bodies to the limit. </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/p/C5fNETERB0s/?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/C5fNETERB0s/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Lambros (@lambrosarmy)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The pair are just days away from reaching Adelaide, and have had some trying times on their momentous journey so far. </p> <p>"One day reached 46 degrees and the soles of our shoes literally melted," Lachlan told <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/brothers-tackle-momentous-100day-cross-country-challenge-for-cancer-research/bcf7f2f5-482a-4ef3-9ca2-f4a0412beed9" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9News</a>. </p> <p>Their unwavering commitment to raising money for cancer research has garnered widespread support, with a legion of fans across the country cheering them on. </p> <p>"It gives us a bit of hope that there might be some new research, and that's all we can really hope for," she said.</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/C5z-9LaJtqS/?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/C5z-9LaJtqS/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by 9News (@9news)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The brothers aimed to raise $100,000 before they reach their final destination of Melbourne, but with the help of their dedicated supports, they reached their financial goal just after their halfway mark. </p> <p>Now, the brothers have their sights set on a new goal: $1 million before the end of the year. </p> <p>"We are doing it for everyone back home that has been impacted by cancer, so please find it in your hearts to donate at <a href="https://www.acrf.com.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ACRF</a> (Australian Cancer Research Foundation)," Stefan said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Former SAS Australia contestant recalls terrifying Ozempic overdose

<p>Former SAS Australia contestant Roxy Jacenko has opened up on the terrifying experience she had after overdosing on Ozempic. </p> <p>Jacenko was desperate to lose 15kg of extra weight, which she gained as a result of taking Tamoxifen - a hormone therapy drug she took for her breast cancer for seven years.</p> <p>“The Tamoxifen made me put on 15kg,” she said during  a special <em>7NEWS Spotlight TV</em> investigation into the drug. </p> <p> “And whilst to other people, they didn’t look at me and go, 'Oh well, she’s put on a lot of weight,' I didn’t feel comfortable.</p> <p>“And I tried everything. I tried the fad diets. I tried starting at a gym, doing workouts. I tried not eating much and I couldn’t shake the weight. I just wanted to fix it, and this seemed like the way. Ozempic seemed like the easy answer.”</p> <p>Weight loss is one of the side effects of the medication, which is usually used to help adults with Type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar. It is this side effect that has millions wanting to use it for weight loss. </p> <p>Despite Novo Nordisk - the pharmaceutical company supplying Ozempic -  advising the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration that supplies throughout 2023 and 2024 will be limited and it should only be prescribed by doctors to diabetics, people have found other ways to obtain it.</p> <p>Jacenko revealed that despite her local GP telling her she didn't meet the criteria for the injection, she bought it on the black market in Nowra, NSW and ordered an Uber to collect it for her. </p> <p>“It was about $2,500 for the drive there and back, and then it was another $700 for the two pens,” she said. “I was actually like a junkie. I look at it now and I was like a junkie.”</p> <p>She recalled how she took more than the recommended amount in a desperate attempt to lose weight. </p> <p>“I took four times the amount in one hit,” she revealed.</p> <p>“I felt OK at that point in time. The aftermath of it was I think I’m going to die.</p> <p>She added, “in the morning, I was driving to work. I was sweating. I was so hot and then I just kept vomiting nonstop. What not to do? One milligram of Ozempic.”</p> <p>“That night, I ended up in hospital. They had never seen this before. This was the first they had seen of an Ozempic overdose. Like the shaking, my whole body was shaking, I couldn’t control my legs. It’s like I had no control of my body.</p> <p>“My arms and legs were like this. And then in addition to that, they just start pumping you full of fluid. You can rest assure I came out skinny, but it didn’t last for long. Literally, I truly thought this is it. I’ve been sick in my time. Cancer was a walk in the park compared to how bad I felt for those three days.</p> <p>As a result, Jacenko no longer takes the the medication and has since stopped drinking and started following a healthy diet. </p> <p>"And if anyone asks me, “Would you do it again, Ozempic?” No freaking way. I literally thought, “This is it. I’m going to die.”</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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Survey unveils Aussies thoughts on tourism tax

<p>Earlier this year, Bali launched a controversial tourism tax, which meant that every traveller entering the island would have to pay a $15 fee, which the Indonesian province have said will be used for environmental and cultural projects. </p> <p>Now, Aussies have shared their thoughts on introducing a similar system here, and survey results have revealed that many are keen for the tourism tax to be introduced here. </p> <p>Travel provider InsureandGo conducted the survey and found that 60 per cent of Australians would support the government introducing a tax to combat the rising environmental toll of tourism.</p> <p>"Tourist taxes are a relatively new concept, but as travel demand swells, we are seeing more countries adopt the levy," InsureandGo Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Etkind said. </p> <p>"What's heartening is that only a minority of 37 per cent of respondents don't support tourism taxes, demonstrating just how many Australians support the concept of sustainable travel."</p> <p>The response comes amid increased sustainability concerns on our flora and fauna, which are being threatened by over-tourism. </p> <p>The tax is particularly supported by younger Aussies aged between 18 to 30, with 73 per cent of them saying yes to tourism taxes. </p> <p>Etkind said that this may be because younger Aussies are typically more aware of the environmental impacts of travel compared to the older generation, who may be less accustomed to the tax. </p> <p>Along with Bali, other cities and countries have started introducing similar fees to combat overtourism,  with Venice set to charge day-trippers a fee of 5 Euros ($8.20) per visit. </p> <p>Amsterdam, Netherlands has the highest tourism tax in Europe, with the former 7 per cent hotel tourist levy rising to 12.5 per cent this year. </p> <p>New Zealand also charges international visitors excluding Aussie citizens and permanent residents $25 levy ($32.64 AUD) to address the challenges created by tourism in its conservation areas. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

International Travel

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Flash droughts are becoming more common in Australia. What’s causing them?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/milton-speer-703091">Milton Speer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lance-m-leslie-437774">Lance M Leslie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.drought.gov/what-is-drought/flash-drought">Flash droughts</a> strike suddenly and intensify rapidly. Often the affected areas are in drought after just weeks or a couple of months of well-below-average rainfall. They happen worldwide and are <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377274397_Flash_drought_A_state_of_the_science_review?_tp=eyJjb250ZXh0Ijp7ImZpcnN0UGFnZSI6InB1YmxpY2F0aW9uRG93bmxvYWQiLCJwYWdlIjoicHVibGljYXRpb24iLCJwcmV2aW91c1BhZ2UiOiJwdWJsaWNhdGlvbiJ9fQ#read">becoming more common</a>, including in Australia, due to global warming.</p> <p>Flash droughts can occur anywhere and at any time of the year. Last year, a flash drought <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-20/dams-dry-up-as-drought-takes-hold-in-hunter-valley/102996364">hit the Upper Hunter</a> region of New South Wales, roughly 300 kilometres north-west of Sydney.</p> <p>These sudden droughts can have devastating economic, social and environmental impacts. The damage is particularly severe for agricultural regions heavily dependent on reliable rain in river catchments. One such region is the Upper Hunter Valley, the subject of our <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2225-1154/12/4/49">new research</a>.</p> <p>We identified two climate drivers – the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=enso">El Niño Southern Oscillation</a> and <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=iod">Indian Ocean Dipole</a>) – that became influential during this drought. In addition, the waning influence of a third climate driver, the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=sam">Southern Annular Mode</a>), would typically bring rain to the east coast. However, this rain did not reach the Upper Hunter.</p> <p>Flash droughts are set to get more common as the world heats up. This year, a flash drought developed over western and central Victoria over just two months. While heavy rain this month in Melbourne ended the drought there, it continues in the west.</p> <h2>What makes a flash drought different?</h2> <p>Flash droughts differ from more slowly developing droughts. The latter result from extended drops in rainfall, such as the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/">drought affecting</a> parts of southwest Western Australia due to the much shortened winter wet season last year.</p> <p>Flash droughts develop when sudden large drops in rainfall coincide with above-average temperatures. They mostly occur in summer and autumn, as was the case for Asia and Europe in 2022. That year saw flash droughts appear across the northern hemisphere, such as the megadrought affecting China’s <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/acfe21">Yangtze river basin</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352340923000264?via%3Dihub">Spain</a>.</p> <p>The flash drought devastating the Upper Hunter from May to October 2023 developed despite the region being drought-free just one month earlier. At that stage, almost nowhere in NSW showed any sign of an impending drought.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?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/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=276&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=276&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=276&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=347&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=347&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=347&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Maps of drought conditions in NSW in April 2023 compared to the next six months" /><figcaption><span class="caption">NSW Department of Primary Industries’ combined drought indicator in April 2023 (a) and combined drought indicator for May–October 2023 (b) show how rapidly a flash drought developed in the Upper Hunter region.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024, using NSW Department of Primary Industries' data</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The flash drought greatly affected agricultural production in the Upper Hunter region, due to the region’s reliance on water from rivers. Low rainfall in river catchments means less water for crops and pasture. It also dries up drinking water supplies.</p> <p>Flash droughts are characterised by abrupt periods of low rainfall leading to rapid drought onset, particularly when accompanied by above-average temperatures. Higher temperatures increase both the evaporation of water from the soil and transpiration from plants (evapotranspiration). This causes soil moisture to drop rapidly.</p> <h2>The Upper Hunter drought is part of a trend</h2> <p>Flash droughts will be more common in the future. That’s because higher temperatures will more often coincide with dry conditions, as relative humidity falls <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377274397_Flash_drought_A_state_of_the_science_review_tp=eyJjb250ZXh0Ijp7ImZpcnN0UGFnZSI6InB1YmxpY2F0aW9uRG93bmxvYWQiLCJwYWdlIjoicHVibGljYXRpb24iLCJwcmV2aW91c1BhZ2UiOiJwdWJsaWNhdGlvbiJ9fQ#read">across many parts</a> of Australia and globally.</p> <p>Climate change is <a href="https://climate.ec.europa.eu/climate-change/consequences-climate-change_en">linked to</a> shorter, heavier bursts of rain followed by longer periods of little rainfall.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?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/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=196&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=196&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=196&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=246&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=246&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=246&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of Upper Hunter region showing drought indicators in December 2023" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Intense drought conditions continued in the Upper Hunter in December 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024</span></span></figcaption></figure> <figure class="align-right "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=376&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=376&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=376&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=472&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=472&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=472&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of NSW showing average temperature ranges recorded for May–October 2023." /><figcaption><span class="caption">The sharp drop in rainfall coincided with the Upper Hunter’s highest average maximum temperatures on record for May–October 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>In south-east and south-west Australia, flash droughts can also occur in winter.</p> <p>In May 2023 rainfall over south-east Australia dropped abruptly. The much lower rainfall continued until November in the Upper Hunter. Over this same period, mean maximum temperatures in the region were the highest on record, increasing the loss of moisture through evapotranspiration. The result was a flash drought. While flash droughts occurred in other parts of south-east Australia, we focused on the Upper Hunter as it remained in drought the longest.</p> <h2>What were the climate drivers of this drought?</h2> <p>We used machine-learning techniques to identify the key climate drivers of the drought.</p> <p>We found the dominant driver of the flash drought was global warming, modulated by the phases of the three major climate drivers in our region, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole and the Southern Annular Mode.</p> <p>From 2020 to 2022, the first two drivers became favourable for rain in the Upper Hunter in late winter through spring, before changing phase to one supporting drought over south-east Australia. Meanwhile, the Southern Annular Mode remained mostly positive, meaning rain-bearing westerly winds and weather fronts had moved to middle and higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere, away from Australia’s south-east coast.</p> <p>Combined, the impact of global warming with the three climate drivers made rainfall much more variable. The net result was an atmospheric environment highly conducive to a flash drought appearing anywhere in south-east Australia.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.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/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=464&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=464&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=464&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=583&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=583&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=583&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of Upper Hunter region showing drought indicators in December 2023" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Intense drought conditions continued in the Upper Hunter in December 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Victoria, too, fits the global warming pattern</h2> <p>As for the flash drought that developed in early 2024 over western and central Victoria, including Melbourne, it continues in parts of <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/#msdynttrid=_ytsVsw1a3IFZ7xGCnQz8mw1Gum_n_0JUdQyt2hUVCo">western Victoria</a>. The flash drought followed very high January rainfall (top 5% of records) dropping rapidly to very low rainfall (bottom 5%) in February and March.</p> <p>It was the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/maps/rainfall/?variable=rainfall&amp;map=decile&amp;period=2month&amp;region=vc&amp;year=2024&amp;month=03&amp;day=31">driest February-March period</a> on record for Melbourne and south-west Victoria.</p> <p>At the beginning of April, a storm front <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/severe-weather-storm-warning-for-victoria-and-melbourne-easter-monday/41d5d383-b70d-4d36-a649-38632bc607de">brought heavy rainfall</a> over an 18-hour period to central Victoria, including Melbourne.</p> <p>The rains ended the flash drought in these areas, but it continues in parts of western Victoria, which missed out on the rain.</p> <p>The pattern of the 2024 flash drought in Victoria typifies the increasing trend under global warming of long dry periods, interspersed by short, heavy rainfall events. <!-- 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/227052/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/milton-speer-703091"><em>Milton Speer</em></a><em>, Visiting Fellow, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lance-m-leslie-437774">Lance M Leslie</a>, Professor, School of Mathematical And Physical Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</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/flash-droughts-are-becoming-more-common-in-australia-whats-causing-them-227052">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Embracing healing: The rise of medical cannabis in Australia

<p>In recent years, Australia has made significant strides in healthcare, particularly in the realm of alternative medicine. One such breakthrough gaining widespread recognition is the availability and utilisation of medical cannabis. <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/body/how-nurses-are-changing-the-conversation-around-medicinal-cannabis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">As attitudes shift and research unfolds</a>, the once-stigmatised plant is emerging as a source of genuine hope and relief for patients across the country.</p> <p>Medical cannabis, derived from the cannabis plant, contains compounds known as cannabinoids, notably THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), which possess therapeutic properties. While recreational use remains a contentious issue, the medicinal potential of cannabis cannot be overlooked.</p> <p>In Australia, its legal status has evolved; in October 2016 the Australian Government changed the law to allow organisations to grow cannabis for research and to make pharmaceutical products, allowing patients to access cannabis-based products under specific conditions.</p> <p>One of the most significant benefits of medical cannabis is its ability to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients suffering from various medical conditions. From chronic pain and epilepsy to nausea induced by chemotherapy, medical cannabis offers relief where traditional treatments can fall short or have significant long-term side effects. For people with debilitating illnesses, this alternative therapy can open doors to a life with reduced discomfort and enhanced well-being.</p> <p>Moreover, the availability of medical cannabis fosters a more patient-centric approach to healthcare. By recognising the diverse needs of individuals and offering alternative treatment options, healthcare professionals empower patients to take control of their health journey. This shift towards personalised medicine acknowledges that what works for one person may not work for another, and cannabis-based treatments provide another tool in the arsenal of healthcare interventions.</p> <p>Australia's embrace of medical cannabis also extends to research and innovation. With an increasing number of clinical trials and studies exploring its efficacy and safety, the medical community is uncovering new insights into the potential applications of cannabis-based therapies. This commitment to scientific inquiry ensures that medical cannabis is integrated into healthcare practices responsibly and ethically.</p> <p>Furthermore, the legalisation of medical cannabis opens doors for economic growth and innovation. Australia's burgeoning cannabis industry has the potential to create jobs, stimulate investment and drive technological advancements in cultivation, processing and distribution. By capitalising on this emerging market, Australia can position itself as a global leader in medical cannabis research and production.</p> <p>Take the example of <a href="https://www.montu.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Montu</a>, a Melbourne-based medical cannabis company that in November was <a href="https://www.montu.com.au/_files/ugd/0ee6ca_f78badef1cf64ccba22263ed6b5ea5d0.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">named the fastest-growing tech company</a> in the entire country for the second consecutive year. The groundswell of public and investor support for such a company – whose stated mission is to deploy technology to create a better medical cannabis ecosystem for suppliers, practitioners, pharmacies and the patients they serve – is testament to the rapidly growing popularity of medical cannabis as a viable everyday resource for health and wellbeing. </p> <p>Companies like Montu that are streamlining and regulating access to medical cannabis via a growing network of medical practitioners are playing a vital role in getting help for those who need it most. Even though Montu was only formed in 2019, with its first products entering the market in 2020, the evolution of its company ecosystem has been dramatic to say the least. Now with a diverse range of companies under its umbrella, Montu is using innovative solutions to enhance the patient experience – from their "Leafio" dispensing system bridging the gap between suppliers and pharmacies, to their growing variety of products and brands, to their "Alternaleaf" telehealth service that connects patients with expert clinicians, and their high-end "Saged" professional online learning portal for healthcare professionals, this integrated approach is shaping a future where medical cannabis is accessible, efficient and tailored to meet the diverse needs of patients and healthcare providers alike.</p> <p>Perhaps most importantly of all, the availability of medical cannabis promotes harm reduction by offering a safer alternative to potentially addictive pharmaceutical drugs. For patients struggling with opioid dependence or other addictive substances, cannabis-based treatments provide a non-addictive option for managing symptoms, reducing the risk of substance abuse and overdose.</p> <p>The legalisation of medical cannabis in Australia marked a pivotal moment in the nation's healthcare landscape. With growing recognition of the therapeutic potential of cannabis-derived treatments, Australia has taken decisive steps to ensure that patients in need have access to this alternative therapy.</p> <p>Through rigorous regulation and oversight, the legal framework surrounding medical cannabis balances patient safety with the need for compassionate care, allowing individuals suffering from debilitating conditions to explore new avenues of treatment.</p> <p>This landmark decision not only reflected a shift in societal attitudes towards cannabis but also underscored Australia's commitment to evidence-based medicine and the well-being of its citizens.</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">As attitudes towards cannabis evolve and its medicinal benefits become more widely recognised, Australia stands at the forefront of a healthcare revolution – one of </span>hope, healing and a future where patients can experience relief and improved quality of life.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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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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Australia's oldest person bids farewell to iconic beach house

<p>In a heartwarming tale that speaks to the enduring love for cherished places and the passing of generational torches, Marija Ruljancich, Australia's oldest person, has bid farewell to her beloved holiday retreat.</p> <p>The Sorrento pile, nestled on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, has found new hands, marking the end of an era and the dawn of a promising new chapter.</p> <p>Marija, who reached the remarkable milestone of 110 years in 2023, has been the guardian of this beachside haven for countless years. With its origins tracing back to 1960, when it was designed by the esteemed architect Daryl Jackson AO for local businessman Robert Riley, the house has stood as a testament to timeless design and cherished memories.</p> <p>The sale of this iconic property has not only captured the attention of locals but also stirred the hearts of many across the nation. Despite its undisclosed transaction sum, it's understood that the sale falls within the property's estimated range, a fitting exchange for a home steeped in history and affection.</p> <p>What truly warms the soul is the buyer's commitment to honouring the legacy of Riley House. With plans to restore the dwelling to its original glory, there's a palpable sense of joy and relief within Marija's family. The Melbourne-based buyer, driven by a passion for preserving architectural heritage, sees beyond the bricks and mortar; they envision a continuation of the house's story, enriched by their own memories and experiences.</p> <p>As Liz Jensen of Kay & Burton Portsea recounts the emotional journey of the sale, it's evident that this isn't merely a transaction; it's a celebration of life, love, and the power of preservation. </p> <p>"Congratulations to Australia’s oldest living person," Liz wrote on Instagram, "as today she successfully sells her long-held and much loved Sorrento mid century beachside family holiday home designed by Architect Daryl Jackson AO."</p> <p>The buyer's dedication to retaining even the smallest details, such as the built-in speaker nestled within the dining room cupboard, speaks volumes about their reverence for the past and their vision for the future.</p> <p>Amid whispers of demolishing the home, the decision to uphold its structure stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of community and connection. For those who walked through its halls during inspections, the house isn't just a property; it's a repository of memories, a canvas upon which stories of old Sorrento are painted with every creaking floorboard and whispering breeze.</p> <p>For Marija and her family, and for all those who have been touched by its charm, the legacy lives on – a timeless reminder of the beauty found in preserving the past while embracing the promise of tomorrow.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram | </em><em>Kay & Burton Portsea</em></p>

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Whooping cough is surging in Australia. Why, and how can we protect ourselves?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laurence-don-wai-luu-1415508">Laurence Don Wai Luu</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australia is facing a whooping cough outbreak. Some <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">2,799 cases</a> were recorded in the first three months of 2024. Cases are highest in Queensland and New South Wales, with more than 1,000 recorded in each state.</p> <p>The last time Queensland recorded more than 1,000 cases in three months was <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">the first quarter of 2013</a>. This was at the tail end of a significant outbreak that spanned 2008 until 2012 – Australia’s largest reported outbreak since the <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdi2205-pdf-cnt.htm/$FILE/cdi2205c.pdf">widespread introduction</a> of whooping cough vaccines <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-pubs-annlrpt-oz_dis19_91.htm/$FILE/ozdis1917_91.pdf">in the 1950s</a>. More than 140,000 cases were recorded during this period, with the number peaking at 38,748 in 2011.</p> <p>There was a smaller outbreak between <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">2014 and 2017</a>, with more than 60,000 cases in these years.</p> <p>So what is whooping cough, why are cases rising now, and how can you protect yourself?</p> <h2>It’s most dangerous for babies</h2> <p>Whooping cough is a serious and <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/whooping-cough">highly contagious</a> respiratory disease. Also called pertussis, it’s caused by the bacteria <em>Bordetella pertussis</em>.</p> <p>The initial symptoms of whooping cough resemble other cold and flu-like symptoms. These include runny nose, sneezing, mild cough and fever. However, as the disease progresses into the second week, the coughing fits become worse and more frequent. After or between bouts of coughing, patients may gasp for air and produce the characteristic “whoop” noise.</p> <p>The disease is also sometimes called the “100-day cough” as it can last for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7150027/">6–12 weeks</a>. It’s especially serious and can be life-threatening in newborns who are yet to receive their vaccinations. In older children who are fully vaccinated, as well as adolescents and adults, the disease is normally less severe. However, even in adults, the coughing can lead to <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMicm1701940">fractured ribs</a>.</p> <p>Antibiotics are used to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ebch.1845">treat whooping cough</a> but are most effective when given during the initial stages of the illness. The best protection in the first instance is <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/whooping-cough">vaccination</a>, which prevents most cases of serious illness, and reduces the spread of whooping cough in the community.</p> <p>It’s recommended children are given six doses of a whooping cough vaccine (which is combined with vaccines for other diseases) between the ages of roughly two months and 13 years. Vaccination is free under the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/immunisation/vaccines/whooping-cough-pertussis-immunisation-service">National Immunisation Program</a> for children and pregnant women. Vaccinating women against whooping cough during pregnancy protects newborns in their first months of life.</p> <p>Immunity from these vaccines wanes over time, so it’s also recommended adults receive a booster, particularly those who may come into frequent contact with babies.</p> <h2>Why are cases rising now?</h2> <p>Whooping cough outbreaks generally occur <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/whooping-cough">every 3–4 years</a>. Due to COVID measures such as border closures, social isolation and masks, the number of cases declined dramatically during 2020–23. If trends had followed the usual outbreak cycle, this might have been around the time we’d have seen another outbreak.</p> <p>Missed <a href="https://ncirs.org.au/ncirs-study-confirms-decline-childhood-vaccination-coverage-throughout-covid-19-pandemic">routine whooping cough vaccinations</a> at the height of the pandemic may mean Australia is more vulnerable now. Reduced immunity in the population could be one of the reasons we’re seeing a rise in whooping cough cases in Australia and other countries including the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pertussis-epidemiology-in-england-2024/confirmed-cases-of-pertussis-in-england-by-month">United Kingdom</a> and the <a href="https://www.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/han/advisory/2024/han-advisory-5.pdf">United States</a>.</p> <p>In Australia, cases have been particularly high during this outbreak in children aged 10–14.</p> <h2>A potential superbug</h2> <p>Over the past two decades, whooping cough has been getting better at evading vaccines and antibiotics. Most vaccines used in Australia and other developed countries stimulate your immune system to recognise and target <a href="https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/contents/vaccine-preventable-diseases/pertussis-whooping-cough">three to five components</a> of the bacteria.</p> <p>Over time, the bacteria that causes whooping cough has been slowly acquiring mutations in these genes. These mutations make the bacteria look slightly different to the one used in the vaccine, helping it better hide from the immune system.</p> <p>Most of these changes were small. But in 2008, a new strain appeared in Australia that no longer produced <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/20/4/13-1478_article">pertactin</a>, one of the components targeted by the vaccine. This means your immune system, like a detective, has one less clue to recognise the bacteria.</p> <p>This new strain rapidly increased from <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/6/18-0240_article">5% of strains found in 2008</a>, to become the dominant strain in less than ten years, making up <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6537726/">90% of strains</a> by 2017. This pertactin-negative strain was shown to survive better in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26432908/">vaccinated mice</a> and may have contributed to the high number of cases in the 2008–12 outbreak.</p> <p>Worryingly, since 2013, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest-threats.html">antibiotic-resistant strains</a> of whooping cough have become <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/22221751.2019.1587315">widespread in China</a>. While there are other antibiotics available, these are not recommended for infants <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/whoopingcough/Pages/workers-managing-cases.aspx">younger than two months</a> (the age group at most risk of serious disease). These resistant strains are increasingly <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1035_article">spreading through Asia</a> but are not yet in Australia.</p> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>It’s too early to know how big this outbreak will be or what strains are responsible for it. Greater tracking of whooping cough strains, like we do with COVID, is needed to inform future vaccine design and treatments.</p> <p>Importantly, although the bacteria is evolving, current vaccines are still very effective at preventing serious disease and reducing transmission. They remain our best tool to limit this outbreak.</p> <p>To protect oneself, vulnerable newborns, and the wider community, everyone should ensure they are up-to-date with their <a href="https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/contents/vaccine-preventable-diseases/pertussis-whooping-cough">whooping cough vaccinations</a>. You can check this with your GP if you’re not sure. And anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms should <a href="https://ncirs.org.au/ncirs-fact-sheets-faqs/pertussis">stay away</a> from infants.<!-- 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/226918/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/laurence-don-wai-luu-1415508"><em>Laurence Don Wai Luu</em></a><em>, Lecturer and Chancellor's Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</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/whooping-cough-is-surging-in-australia-why-and-how-can-we-protect-ourselves-226918">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss in Australia. So how are people accessing it?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-pace-1401278">Jessica Pace</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-bartlett-849104">Andrew Bartlett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839">Nial Wheate</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>To say that Ozempic is a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2024/jan/31/obesity-drug-ozempic-novo-nordisk-record-wegovy">blockbuster drug</a> is an understatement. Manufacturer Novo Nordisk is scrambling to expand production sites to keep up with global demand.</p> <p>While Ozempic is only approved for the treatment of diabetes in Australia, it is also marketed overseas for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy.</p> <p>Social media is full of posts and endorsements by celebrities who are using it for weight loss. Faced with limited access in Australia, some people who need the medication for diabetes can’t access it.</p> <p>Others are turning to the internet to source it from compounding pharmacies – a practice Australia’s regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), plans to clamp down on.</p> <h2>How doctors are prescribing Ozempic</h2> <p>Use of Ozempic for weight loss in Australia is considered “<a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#why-the-tga-cant-stop-offlabel-prescribing">off label</a>”. This is when a doctor prescribes a medicine for a purpose outside of what is approved.</p> <p>Ozempic is only approved to be used for the treatment of diabetes in Australia, but its off-label prescribing for weight loss is driving <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#when-will-the-ozempic-shortage-end">shortages</a> which the TGA thinks will last until 2025.</p> <p>To manage these shortages, Australian doctors and pharmacies are being asked <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#information-for-prescribers">not to start new patients</a> on Ozempic and to prioritise it for patients with type 2 diabetes who are already stabilised on this medicine.</p> <p>However, the TGA <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#why-the-tga-cant-stop-offlabel-prescribing">says</a> it: "does not have the power to regulate the clinical decisions of health professionals and is unable to prevent doctors from using their clinical judgement to prescribe Ozempic for other health conditions."</p> <h2>Why can’t we just make more?</h2> <p>The active ingredient in Ozempic, semaglutide, is a delicate <a href="https://www.britannica.com/story/what-is-the-difference-between-a-peptide-and-a-protein">peptide</a> molecule made up of two small chains of amino acids. It’s just one in a family of drugs that are classified as GLP-1 inhibitors.</p> <p>Because it’s a peptide, its manufacture is complex and requires specialised facilities beyond those used to make normal chemical-based drugs.</p> <p>It is also delivered via an injection, meaning that it has to be manufactured under strict conditions to ensure it is both sterile and temperature controlled.</p> <p>This means increasing production is not as simple as just deciding to manufacture more. Its manufacturer <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#why-the-tga-cant-stop-offlabel-prescribing">needs time</a> to build new facilities to increase production.</p> <h2>Compounding pharmacies are making their own</h2> <p><a href="https://www.fda.gov/drugs/guidance-compliance-regulatory-information/human-drug-compounding#:%7E:text=Compounding%20is%20generally%20a%20practice,needs%20of%20an%20individual%20patient">Compounding</a> is the practice of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients of a drug to create a formulation tailored to the needs of an individual patient.</p> <p>Australian law allows <a href="https://www.pharmacyboard.gov.au/codes-guidelines.aspx">pharmacists to compound</a> only when it is for the treatment of a particular patient to meet their individual clinical need and there is no suitable commercially manufactured product available. An example is making a liquid form of a drug from a tablet for people unable to swallow.</p> <p>Compounded products are not held to the same safety, quality and efficacy standards required for mass produced medicines. This recognises the one-off nature of such compounded medicines and the professional training of the pharmacists who prepare them.</p> <p>Recently, pharmacies have been relying on these compounding rules to produce their own Ozempic-like products at scale and ship them to consumers around Australia.</p> <p>However, there are risks when using these products. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently <a href="https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/medications-containing-semaglutide-marketed-type-2-diabetes-or-weight-loss#:%7E:text=Are%20there%20concerns%20with%20compounded,available%20to%20treat%20a%20patient.">warned consumers</a> of the dangers of using compounded formulations that contain particular salt formulations of semaglutide. It has received more reports of side effects in patients using these products.</p> <h2>How the regulator plans to tighten the loophole</h2> <p>The TGA is taking a number of steps to tighten the compounding loophole and there are ongoing investigations in this area.</p> <p>In December 2023, the agency issued a <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/news/safety-alerts/compounding-safety-information-semaglutide-products">public safety warning</a> on the dangers of these compounded medicines.</p> <p>More recently, it has proposed <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-29/compounding-pharmacies-mounjaro-ozempic/103283926">removing GLP-1 drugs</a>, which includes Ozempic, from Australia’s compounding exemptions. This would effectively ban pharmacies from making off-brand Ozempic. This proposal is <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/news/media-releases/consultation-remove-glucagon-peptide-1-glp-1-receptor-agonist-analogues-pharmacist-extemporaneous-compounding-exemption">currently under consultation</a> and a final decision is expected by June this year.</p> <p>If you want to access the drug for weight loss before the shortage is over, be aware that compounded products are not identical to approved Ozempic and have not been evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy.</p> <p>Supply of copycat versions is also likely to be limited, given the ongoing TGA crackdown.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Read the other articles in The Conversation’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/au/topics/ozempic-132745">Ozempic series</a> here.<!-- 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/224859/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 --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-pace-1401278">Jessica Pace</a>, Associate Lecturer, Sydney Pharmacy School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-bartlett-849104">Andrew Bartlett</a>, Associate Lecturer Pharmacy Practice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839">Nial Wheate</a>, Associate Professor of the School of Pharmacy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</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/ozempic-isnt-approved-for-weight-loss-in-australia-so-how-are-people-accessing-it-224859">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Surprising causes of most deaths on Australia’s beaches

<p>Worried about sharks at the beach? Turns out these fearsome fish are not the biggest killers on Australia’s coastline when it comes to non-drowning deaths.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>Instead, depending on a person’s age, it’s more likely that a heart problem or misadventure will lead to mortality, according to research from Surf Life Saving Australia, whose red-and-gold clad patrol teams provide patrol and rescue services for beaches across the country.</p> <p>More than half of non-drowning deaths in the decade between July 2012 and June 2022 were caused by cardiac-related conditions. These accounted for 319 of the 616 deaths along Australia’s coasts.</p> <p>Traumatic and collision injuries – such as blunt force trauma – were the next most common cause of death, accounting for fewer than 1 in 6 deaths.</p> <p>Falls accounted for 1 in 10 fatalities, with marine animal interactions 1 in 20.</p> <p>But the data has other insights beyond cause of death. Males were far more likely to be killed on the coast; victims in almost 9 out of 10 cases.</p> <p>And while people aged over 50 account for most deaths, primarily through cardiac conditions, those below the age of 50 are overrepresented in all other mortality cases.</p> <p>This, the researchers say, is an important consideration when interpreting the data, as deaths from any cause are highest among older people. </p> <p>“Our research showed that males were 5.2 times more likely to die than females, with younger populations found to die disproportionately along the coast with the primary causes being falls and traumatic/collision injuries,” says the study’s lead researcher, Sean Kelly.</p> <p>Kelly and the other SLSA researchers point to those all-cause mortality comparisons. People aged 70+ have 118 times greater all-cause death rate than people aged 16-24.</p> <p>But when looking at non-drowning coastal deaths, it’s only 6 times greater, highlighting disproportionate deaths among young people in these environments.</p> <p>They suggest this is due to higher levels of coastal visitation and the type of activities young people participate in. Where a person lives also matters.</p> <p>“Those living in or visiting rural and remote areas were also found to be at higher risk, largely due to poorer access to services and longer incident response times,” Kelly says.</p> <p>“<a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/nature/marine-life/shark-attack-triggers-shark-cul/">While sharks are often top-of-mind for those visiting the beach</a>, all marine creatures including sharks and jellyfish only made up 5% of non-drowning deaths and less than 2% of overall coastal deaths.”</p> <p><em>The study was <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anzjph.2023.100113" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published</a> in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.</em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1"><em><img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/MICROSCOPIC-TO-TELESCOPIC__Embed-graphic-720x360-1.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" width="600" alt="Buy cosmos print magazine" title="surprising causes of most deaths on australia’s beaches 2"></em></noscript></p> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=300638&amp;title=Surprising+causes+of+most+deaths+on+Australia%E2%80%99s+beaches" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></em><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/australia/surprising-causes-of-most-deaths-on-australias-beaches/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/matthew-agius/">Matthew Ward Agius</a>. Matthew Agius is a science writer for Cosmos Magazine.</em></div>

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‘To truly forget life for a while – a reprieve and a reward’: why Australians love going to the cinema

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ruari-elkington-105955">Ruari Elkington</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Australians have had plenty of time in the last 100 years to work out what they value about cinema-going and why it matters. Head to any cinema and catch the Val Morgan advertising in the pre-show. Take a closer look at the date the company was founded. Not 1984, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Val_Morgan">but 1894</a>. That’s more than 125 years of “Making Messages Memorable” on Australian screens.</p> <p>We have a deep and abiding love for cinema in this country. Over the last century, the experience of going to the movies has both shifted significantly (<a href="https://villageroadshow.com.au/-/media/VRL-Corporate-Media-Library/Documents/Press-Releases/2017/5-December-Gold-Class-Celebrates-20-Years.pdf">we invented Gold Class, you know</a>) and somehow remained resolutely enduring in terms of appeal.</p> <p>My colleague Tess Van Hemert and I have spent the last two years <a href="https://research.qut.edu.au/dmrc/projects/resilient-screens-investigating-the-value-of-australian-cinema-exhibition/">researching</a> the cultures and practices of cinema-going and how cinema sites shape that experience.</p> <p>A typical response in our research was: "I love the cinema experience. It’s a bonding experience, if it’s good it’s an emotional and cathartic experience."</p> <h2>‘A reprieve and a reward’</h2> <p>Cinemas <a href="https://www.bfi.org.uk/industry-data-insights/reports/measuring-economic-value-cinema-venues">are a catalyst</a> for social, cultural and economic activity wherever they operate, from single-screen regional sites to major multiplexes in suburban shopping malls. Cinema, our participants said, is the “ideal” way to watch a movie: "I like to sit as close as I can to the screen so that the ‘real’ world is completely blocked out. I am immersed in &amp; in awe of the film only. To truly forget life for a while – a reprieve &amp; a reward."</p> <p>Cinemas also mirror communities back to themselves. We may go in alone, as a couple or with family and friends, but in the cinema we form a community.</p> <p>When reflecting on returning to the cinema between COVID lockdowns, one person spoke of seeing American Utopia "There were only about 10 people in the cinema. We didn’t know each other but we all started spontaneously dancing, first in our seats, and then everyone ran down to the floor in front of the screen to dance together. It was like a mini music festival when live music was banned."</p> <p>Despite the cost, despite the hassle, despite the need to leave the couch, Australians turn up time and time again to cinemas. In 2023, the Australian box office generated nearly <a href="https://if.com.au/australian-box-office-neared-1b-in-2023/">A$1 billion</a> (although this is down on <a href="https://variety.com/2020/film/asia/australia-annual-box-office-drops-1203476275/">pre-COVID figures</a>). Four of the top ten highest grossing films of all time in Australia have been released <a href="https://www.valmorgan.com.au/2022-at-the-movies">since the pandemic began</a>. Australian census data tells us cinema-going remains Australia’s <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/people-and-communities#:%7E:text=44%25%20of%20people%20attended%20the,popular%20cultural%20venue%20or%20event">most popular</a> cultural activity.</p> <h2>‘Being able to switch off’</h2> <p>When cinemas face closure – or shut temporarily, as they did during the pandemic – the outpouring of community support can galvanise a community and remind them of all the times and ways in which they valued that access to that experience.</p> <p>One participant spoke of seeing their first film in the cinema after the pandemic: "It made me appreciate the whole cinema experience more. Getting out and being able to switch off was a welcome change."</p> <p>In our research, we observed how cinemas began to <a href="https://www.palacecinemas.com.au/blog/the-cinema-why-we-love-it/">articulate</a> their value to community through the pandemic period of forced closures.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://eprints.qut.edu.au/243758/">large-scale national audience research</a> we conducted in partnership with Palace Cinemas the value audiences derive from cinema-going was as diverse as the programming.</p> <p>They remembered specific films, such as watching the opening credits of Force Awakens with a crowd of avid fans, or feeling like they were “experiencing summer in Italy” while watching Call Me By Your Name.</p> <p>They focused on memories of the people they were with, such as feeling “all grown up” while seeing arthouse films with their dad when they were a kid.</p> <h2>‘Float in the memory’</h2> <p>They spoke about the feelings they had before during and after the screening and the experience overall. One respondent wrote of loving the end of a film: "the quiet few minutes as the credits roll and you float in the memory of the film. This only happens for me when I see it in the cinema."</p> <p>Another participant spoke about leaving the cinema and: "doing a walk around the block thinking about the movie, still thinking about the movie driving home."</p> <p>One participant said they love “being able to have respectful (unbothered) alone time publicly”.</p> <p>Clear in this data is that memorability – and the experience of cinema – is far more nuanced than the simple appeal of watching a big film in a big room on a big screen. Cinemas continue to serve Australian communities in far more complex way than simply movies and popcorn.</p> <p>Cinema has always battled headwinds. Since radio, cinema has constantly faced in-home entertainment technology that was supposed to knock it over completely – TV, colour TV, cable, satellite, VHS, DVDs and now streaming. Each time, the desire for people to come together in a space and watch something unique in a way they can’t find anywhere else, with a level of engagement they can’t find anywhere else, has prevailed. We all have a kitchen at home, but we still love going out to restaurants.</p> <p>Disney, Warner Bros and Australia’s own Birch Carrol and Coyle all celebrated 100 years of operation in 2023. To sustain another century, more research is needed to better understand how cinema-going must continue to evolve to meet shifting audience expectations.<!-- 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/222597/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/ruari-elkington-105955">Ruari Elkington</a>, Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries &amp; Chief Investigator at QUT Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland 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/to-truly-forget-life-for-a-while-a-reprieve-and-a-reward-why-australians-love-going-to-the-cinema-222597">original article</a>.</em></p>

Movies

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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>

Domestic Travel

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How 8-year-old Ruby McLellan became Australia's youngest home owner

<p>Move over, monopoly tycoons and pretend princes of pretend kingdoms – meet Ruby McLellan, the pint-sized powerhouse who's rewriting the rules of real estate and giving the term "property ladder" a literal twist.</p> <p>That's right: Ruby is just eight years old and already owns a four-bedroom house. Meanwhile, most of us can barely find matching socks in the morning.</p> <p>Now, before you start picturing a tiny landlord with a playhouse adorned with "No Girls Allowed" signs, let's delve into Ruby's remarkable tale of fiscal responsibility and pocket money prowess.</p> <p>While most kids her age were still trying to figure out if they preferred chocolate or strawberry milk, Ruby was busy checking out property market trends and crunching numbers like a seasoned Wall Street mogul. With the help of her siblings, Angus (14) and Lucy (13), Ruby pooled their collective pocket money - a grand total of $6000 - to secure a deposit for their first property. Their weapon of choice? Not lemonade stands or tooth fairy funds, but good old-fashioned hard work and frugality. The result? A four-bedroom home in Clyde, southeast of Melbourne, bought by the McLellan kids for $671,000.</p> <p>Their dad, Cam McLellan, CEO of a property investment company, guided them through the labyrinth of real estate jargon, teaching them about positive gearing and growth corridors. While other kids were learning their times tables, Ruby was calculating potential rental yields. Talk about a head start in life!</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">And while their friends were blowing their allowances on the latest toys and gadgets, these pint-sized property moguls were saying no to impulse buys and yes to long-term investments. It's like they were born with calculators instead of rattles.</span></p> <p>Now, you might be wondering, what's next for these mini-magnates? Well, they plan to hold onto their property until Lucy and Angus hit their early 20s, ensuring they've waited through one full "growth property cycle". After that, it's off to the races, with hopes that their humble abode will fetch a cool million bucks.</p> <p>But Ruby's not stopping there. She's already asking about tax implications and property sales, proving that she's got the brains to match her business acumen. Who needs a lemonade stand when you can have a diversified investment portfolio?</p> <p>So, while most kids are busy mastering Fortnite dances or perfecting their TikTok routines, Ruby McLellan is out here making moves in the property market. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll all be renting from her property empire.</p> <p>But just remember, when you're paying rent to an eight-year-old landlord, be sure to pay on time. Late fees might include extra homework assignments or a mandatory bedtime story session. Hey, it's all in the lease agreement...</p> <p><em>Image: The Today Show</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Bunnings has toppled Woolworths as Australia’s most ‘trusted’ brand – what makes us trust a brand in the first place?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>Think of some of the world’s biggest brands: Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Apple. With what do you associate them? Are they positive associations? Now consider, do you trust them?</p> <p>Brand trust is a measure of how customers <em>feel</em> about a brand in terms of how well the brand delivers on its promises. Trust is an important measure for any organisation, large or small.</p> <p>Whether or not customers trust a brand can be the difference between choosing that brand’s products or services over another.</p> <p>In Australia, Woolworths <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">held the title</a> of our most trusted brand for three and a half years. But recent cost-of-living pressures have put supermarkets in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.</p> <p>Roy Morgan Research’s <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">most recent trust rankings</a> show Woolworths has slipped to number two, handing its crown to hardware behemoth Bunnings.</p> <p>It’s clear that trust is fragile and can be quickly squandered when brands lose touch with those they serve.</p> <p>So what makes us trust a brand in the first place? And why do we trust some more than others?</p> <h2>What makes us trust a brand?</h2> <p>According to customer experience management firm Qualtrics, <a href="https://www.qualtrics.com/au/experience-management/brand/brand-trust/">brand trust</a> is</p> <blockquote> <p>the confidence that customers have in a brand’s ability to deliver on what it promises. As a brand consistently meets the expectations it has set in the minds of customers, trust in that brand grows.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are many ways to go about measuring brand trust. A typical first step is to ask lots of people what they think, collating their general opinions on product quality and the brand’s customer service experience.</p> <p>This can be strengthened with more quantifiable elements, including:</p> <ul> <li>online ratings and reviews</li> <li>social media “sentiment” (positive, negative or neutral)</li> <li>corporate social responsibility activities</li> <li>philanthropic efforts</li> <li>customer data security and privacy.</li> </ul> <p>Some surveys go even deeper, asking respondents to consider a brand’s vision and mission, its approaches to sustainability and worker standards, and how honest its advertising appears.</p> <h2>Is this a real and useful metric?</h2> <p>The qualitative methodology used by <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">Roy Morgan</a> to determine what Australian consumers think about 1,000 brands has been administered over two decades, so the data can be reliably compared across time.</p> <p>On measures of both trust and distrust, it asks respondents which brands they trust and why. This approach is useful because it tells us which elements factor into brand trust judgements.</p> <p><a href="https://roymorgan-cms-prod.s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/07035120/9472-Risk-Monitor-Quartely-Update-December-2023-1-1.pdf">Customer responses</a> about the survey’s most recent winner, Bunnings, show that customer service, product range, value-for-money pricing and generous returns policies are the key drivers of strong trust in its brand.</p> <p>Here are some examples:</p> <blockquote> <p>Great customer service. Love their welcoming staff. Whether it’s nuts and bolts or a new toilet seat, they have it all, value for money.</p> <p>Great products and price and have a no quibble refund policy.</p> <p>Great stock range, help is there if you need it and it is my go-to for my gardening and tool needs. Really convenient trading hours, and their return policy is good.</p> </blockquote> <p>In addition to trust, there are three other metrics commonly used to assess brand performance:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>brand equity</strong> – the commercial or social value of consumer perceptions of a brand</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>brand loyalty</strong> – consumer willingness to consistently choose one brand over others regardless of price or competitor’s efforts</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>brand affinity</strong> – the emotional connection and common values between a brand and its customers.</p> </li> </ul> <p>However, trust is becoming a disproportionately important metric as consumers demand that companies provide <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernhardschroeder/2020/01/16/from-the-traditional-to-the-outrageous-four-brands-that-use-honest-transparency-to-build-loyal-customers-with-non-traditional-marketing-and-branding/?sh=6689f81320a1">increased transparency</a> and exhibit greater care for their customers, not just their shareholders.</p> <h2>Why do Australians trust retailers so much?</h2> <p>Of Australia’s top ten most trusted brands, seven are retailers – Bunnings, Woolworths, Aldi, Coles, Kmart, Myer and Big W.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.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/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.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/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="table shows that Bunnings is now Australia's most trusted brand, and Optus the least trusted brand." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The latest changes to Australia’s most trusted and most distrusted brand rankings.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia)</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>This <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90901331/america-most-trusted-brands-companies-report-2023-morning-consult">stands in contrast</a> with the United States, where the most trusted brands are predominantly from the healthcare sector.</p> <p>So why do retail brands dominate our trust rankings?</p> <p>They certainly aren’t small local businesses. Our retail sector is <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/in-the-shopping-trolley-war-the-supermarkets-have-to-give-20240122-p5ez4k">highly concentrated</a>, dominated by a few giant retail brands.</p> <p>We have only two major department stores (David Jones and Myer), three major discount department stores (Big W, Target and Kmart) and a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-23/a-history-of-the-duopoly-coles-woolworths/103494070">supermarket “duopoly”</a> (Coles and Woolworths).</p> <p>It’s most likely then that these brands have been enjoying leftover goodwill from the pandemic.</p> <p>As Australia closed down to tackle COVID-19, the retail sector, and in particular the grocery sector, was credited with enabling customers to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/inside-story-how-woolworths-and-coles-joined-forces-to-avert-covid-19-disaster-20200611-p551lk.html">safely access</a> food and household goods.</p> <p>Compared with many other countries, we did not see a predominance of empty shelves across Australia. Retailers in this country stepped up – implementing or improving their online shopping capabilities and ensuring physical stores followed health guidelines and protocols.</p> <p>Now, with the pandemic behind us and in an environment of high inflation, the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/woolworths-coles-supermarket-tactics-grocery-four-corners/103405054">big two supermarkets</a> face <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/feb/20/do-coles-woolworths-specials-actually-offer-savings-choice-survey-supermarket-price-gouging-inquiry">growing distrust</a> and a <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Supermarket_Prices/SupermarketPrices">public inquiry</a>.</p> <h2>Lessons from the losers</h2> <p>After <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/nov/20/optus-scandals-network-outage-cyberattack-ceo-resignation-kelly-bayer-rosmarin">two high profile disasters</a>, Optus finds itself the most distrusted brand in Australia.</p> <p>Its companions in the “most distrusted” group include social media brands Meta (Facebook), TikTok and X.</p> <p>Qantas, Medibank Private, Newscorp, Nestle and Amazon also made the top 10.</p> <p>The main reason consumers distrust brands is for a perceived failure to live up to their promises and responsibilities.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/09/18/amazon-working-conditions-safety-osha-doj/">worker conditions at multinational firm Amazon</a> are seen by some consumers as a reflection of questionable business practices.</p> <p>Other brands may have earned a reputation for failing to deliver the basics, like when chronic <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/transport/compensating-travellers-for-cancelled-flights-long-overdue-20240212-p5f45c">flight delays and cancellations</a> plagued many Qantas customers.</p> <h2>Lessons from the winners</h2> <p>On the flip side, consumers have rewarded budget-friendly retailers with increased trust in the most recent rankings.</p> <p>Aldi, Kmart and Bunnings have improved their standing as trusted brands, no doubt in part because they have helped many Australian consumers deal with tight household budgets.</p> <p>As discretionary consumer spending continues to tighten, we may see a more permanent consumer shopping <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/retail/rise-of-the-value-shopper-as-budgets-are-crunched-a-threat-and-opportunity-for-retailers/news-story/9b7a355cfb3866ec60d2ee42b7cbd567">shift towards value for money</a> brands and discounters.</p> <p>Trust is a fragile thing to maintain once earned. As we move through 2024, Australian companies must pay close attention to their most important asset – strong relationships with those they serve.<!-- 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/225578/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/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, Senior Lecturer in Retail Marketing, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/bunnings-has-toppled-woolworths-as-australias-most-trusted-brand-what-makes-us-trust-a-brand-in-the-first-place-225578">original article</a>.</p>

Money & Banking

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Elevating tradition: La Traviata at the Sydney Opera House

<p>Opera Australia is set to enchant audiences as it opens its highly anticipated 2024 season with the Sydney premiere of Sarah Giles’ acclaimed production of Verdi’s timeless masterpiece, <em>La Traviata</em>. The curtains will rise on January 2nd at the iconic Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House, promising an unforgettable journey into the world of love, sacrifice and redemption.</p> <p>Hailed as "an absolute triumph" by <em>The AU Review</em> and described as "audaciously new" by <em>InReview</em>, this co-production by Opera Queensland, State Opera South Australia and West Australian Opera promises to deliver the quintessential glamour of <em>La Traviata</em> while offering a fresh, female perspective. Director Sarah Giles skilfully brings the inner turmoil of Violetta to the forefront, shedding light on the harsh realities and heartaches of her life as a courtesan.</p> <p>Enhancing the narrative, Charles Davis' masterful set design delves into Violetta's public and private spheres, while his costumes brilliantly capture the opulent world of lavish parties and extravagance synonymous with <em>La Traviata</em>.</p> <p>For the first time, the award-winning conductor Jessica Cottis will take the baton, leading the Opera Australia Orchestra and the celebrated Opera Australia Chorus through Verdi's emotionally stirring score. Audiences can anticipate spine-tingling renditions of iconic pieces such as the lively "Brindisi" and the achingly beautiful "Sempre libera".</p> <p>Taking centre stage as Violetta, Australian soprano Samantha Clarke, fresh from a string of successful debuts in prestigious venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is set to mesmerise audiences with her poignant portrayal. Joining her are the talented Australian-Chinese tenor Kang Wang, reprising the role of Alfredo, and New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, making his Opera Australia debut as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>As the season progresses, rising Australian soprano Sophie Salvesani will step into the shoes of Violetta, a role she previously captivated audiences with in 2022. Alongside her, Australian tenor Tomas Dalton returns as Alfredo, while baritone Luke Gabbedy, fresh from his acclaimed performance in OA's five-star production of the <em>Ring Cycle</em> in Brisbane, graces the stage as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>Prepare to be swept away by the passion, drama, and timeless melodies of <em>La Traviata</em>, as Opera Australia invites you to experience this unforgettable journey of love and sacrifice, reimagined for a new era.</p> <p>Don't miss your chance to witness this exquisite production at the Sydney Opera House, from January 2nd to March 16th, 2024. For more information, <a href="https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/opera-australia/2024-season/la-traviata" target="_blank" rel="noopener">click here</a>.</p>

Art

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"Fly high sweet Nacho": Robert Irwin shares sad loss of beloved pet

<p>In a world often dominated by headlines of turmoil and strife, there's something oddly comforting about the internet rallying around the loss of a beloved pet chicken.</p> <p>Yes, you heard that right – a chicken named Nacho has captured the hearts of thousands, and her departure from this world has left a void in the Irwin family and beyond.</p> <p>Robert Irwin, the perpetually enthusiastic conservationist and wildlife warrior, took to Instagram to break the news of Nacho's sad passing. In a heartfelt video message, he shared the sorrowful tidings with his followers, who had grown fond of the feathery friend through their virtual interactions.</p> <p>“Hi guys, very sad news to report. Unfortunately, our gorgeous little chicken Nacho, who I know you all fell in love with, and we love so much, sadly passed away,” <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Robert lamented, his voice tinged with genuine sadness. </span>“She was a beautiful old chook who lived a lot of great years and we’re really, really, really, really sad to lose her.”</p> <p>And oh, what a life Nacho must have lived! Robert reminisced about her golden years, filled with clucking adventures and pecking escapades. </p> <p>But, amid the sorrow, there shone a glimmer of hope as Robert introduced two new feathered friends into the Irwin fold – Waffles and Mochi. With names as delightful as their predecessor's, these plucky newcomers are sure to fill the coop with joy once more.</p> <p>In the world of social media condolences, the outpouring of love and support was nothing short of heartwarming. Messages of sympathy flooded Robert's feed, with followers expressing their condolences for the loss of Nacho while warmly welcoming Waffles and Mochi into the fold.</p> <p>"Fly high, sweet Nacho," one commenter bid farewell, echoing the sentiments of many who had come to adore the quirky chicken.</p> <p>There were also words of encouragement and delight for the newest additions to the Irwin menagerie. "Waffles and Mochi are adorable, and I also love their fluffy feet!" exclaimed one enthusiastic follower, proving that even in times of loss, there's always room for a little bit of joy.</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/C4YEoIOill7/?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/reel/C4YEoIOill7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Robert Irwin (@robertirwinphotography)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>This isn't the first time the Irwins have shared their grief over the loss of a beloved animal companion. Just a couple of years ago, they bid farewell to their cherished echidna, marking the passing of a creature who had been a part of their family for an impressive 38 years.</p> <p>In a world where bad news often seems to dominate the headlines, the simple story of a chicken named Nacho reminds us of the power of love and connection – even in the most unexpected of places. So here's to you, Nacho; may your wings carry you to chicken heaven, where the sun always shines, and the corn is always plentiful.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Young WA cop dies at his own engagement party

<p>A Western Australian police officer has tragically passed away following a freak accident at his own engagement party. </p> <p>Senior Constable Liam Trimmer, 29, and his fiancee had gathered with family and friends to celebrate their upcoming marriage, when Trimmer fell and cut a carotid artery in his neck, leading him to bleed out.</p> <p>While they did everything they could to save him and provide first aid, Trimmer tragically passed away before paramedics arrived. </p> <p>"Everything was done to try and save him but it wasn't to be and I know everyone that was involved are really, really hurting. I think they wish they could just wake up from this nightmare," Commissioner Col Blanch told <em>9News</em>. </p> <p>"This extraordinary officer loved helping the community and was a fine example of WA policing and it's just such a tragedy.</p> <p>"(He was) a very, very confident, capable young man with his whole life ahead of him, and that's how sad this is."</p> <p>The senior constable moved to Australia from the UK in 2013 and graduated from Joondalup Police Academy that same year. </p> <p>He then moved to Kalgoorlie in 2017 where he joined the Gang Crime Squad and the tactical response group.</p> <p>The police union have also paid tribute to the senior constable.</p> <p>"Every time a death occurs for a police officer, it doesn't matter how it really does rock the core of the Blue family," WA Police Union President Paul Gale said.</p> <p>The welfare and safety division will provide support to those impacted by this tragedy and police will prepare a report for the coroner. </p> <p><em>Images: 9News</em></p>

Legal

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Virgin Australia announces big news for pet owners

<p>Virgin Australia has made a major announcement for pet owners who worried about leaving their furry friends at home when they travel. </p> <p>Outgoing Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka announced on Thursday that they will be the first Australian airline to let small animals travel in the cabin. </p> <p>The revolutionary move is subject to regulatory approval, but if it gets through, Virgin will launch the pet flights on specific domestic routes within the next 12 months.</p> <p>Only small animals will be allowed to travel under the new rules, with specific rows on pet flights reserved for those travelling with their small dogs and cats. </p> <p>They will also be required to be held in a pet carrier under the seat in front of the owner for the duration of the flight, and will not be able to roam around freely or sit on people’s laps for the entirety of the journey.</p> <p>“Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality. It’s something that commonly happens overseas and is proven to work well,” Hrdlicka said.</p> <p>“Almost 70 per cent of Australian households have a pet, so this announcement is really significant for a large proportion of the country."</p> <p>“It’s also a great thing for pet-friendly accommodation providers who will benefit greatly from increased connectivity and the ease for travellers to fly with their pets. It really will be a whole new economy for pet travel in Australia.”</p> <p>This change will not affect existing arrangements for approved service animals, and passengers travelling with larger pets could still pay for them to be transported as cargo.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Virgin Australia</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Mistake in email causes Virgin Australia passenger to miss flight

<p>A Virgin Australia passenger was left $800 out of pocket after he arrived at a closed check-in desk despite arriving well before the departure time, and he now believes that it's because of a mistake in the email he received from the airline. </p> <p>Max Cameron, 64, flies several times a week between Launceston airport in Tasmania and Melbourne for work, and received an email from the airline saying his flight was delayed back in January. </p> <p>"I got a text and an email from Virgin saying, very sorry to let you know your plane has been delayed by 45 minutes,"  he told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>. </p> <p>The email also read "Check-in will now close 30 minutes prior to this time."</p> <p>"I thought, well done Virgin. You've come through… you've let me know when I have to be there. And as a result, I got out to the airport at 9:25pm for a 9:45pm closure of check-in," Cameron said. </p> <p>However when he arrived there was "literally not one person in the Virgin terminal,"  so he eventually had to leave, with no choice but to buy another flight ticket which cost him $800 including extra accommodation and transport costs. </p> <p>"I put my tail between the legs, went back and bought another ticket. I was very annoyed about that but I had no choice... check-in closed early," he said.</p> <p>After submitting an enquiry to the customer service team, they told him he had to arrive 30 minutes before the <em>original</em> departure time - a different instruction to what he received in the email, with the revised departure time. </p> <p>At the time, the enquiry was closed and the team said he would not receive any compensation. </p> <p>Cameron, who was unsatisfied with the response, then spoke to a supervisor at the airport, who told him: "Oh my God, it looks like they sent you the wrong email".</p> <p>According to Yahoo News Australia, Cameron reportedly did receive incorrect information which led him to miss his flight. </p> <p>Cameron has since been in touch with the airline and hopes to be reimbursed, but remains "unhappy" after what he had to go through. </p> <p>"It's not the money but the lack of accountability... there is no service mentality anymore," he said.</p> <p>"What Virgin has done to me is just so wrong".</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: Yahoo News / Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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“I’m excited to be back”: Fergie joins list of luminaries Down Under

<p>Sarah Ferguson has returned to Australia for the first time in years to help battle a major problem facing our nation, while sharing her love for the country.</p> <p>The Duchess of York is visiting Melbourne to take part in the <a title="www.globalcitizen.org" href="https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/now/melbourne/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Global Citizen NOW</a> summit from March 4th, which is seeking to drive urgent action to end extreme poverty and address the climate crisis in the Asia-Pacific region.</p> <p>In an exclusive interview with <a href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/why-sarah-fergie-ferguson-duchess-of-york-is-back-in-australia/news-story/0a99dbcd4c518d12dcd56b11e89186ba" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a>, Fergie shared her love of Australia, describing the country as a "haven" and sharing her excitement to be back Down Under. </p> <p>“Australia feels like a home away from home to me,” the 64-year-old royal said.</p> <p>“My sister Jane has lived here for decades, so I have visited many times over the years. I have so many memories of wonderful moments."</p> <p>“I remember the excitement of going to the Melbourne Cup with my mother, for example. I’m excited to be back again to make new memories." </p> <p>“I love the Aussie outlook on life and of course I adore your incredible landscapes and wildlife, which are like nothing you see in Europe." </p> <p>“Australia has often been a haven for me. One thing I particularly like is that there is no culture of building people up in order to knock them down again later, which you see elsewhere.”</p> <p>Fergie will be joined at the summit by hundreds of other leading voices, famous personalities and political figures, including actor Hugh Jackman, musicians Crowded House and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. </p> <p>The Duchess said that she has taken a special interest in the issue of preserving the planet for future generations, worrying about what the state of the world looks like in the years to come for her grandchildren. </p> <p>“Becoming a grandmother has really changed my outlook on life,” she revealed.</p> <p>“I have always loved nature and the great outdoors, but now I find myself reflecting on what sort of world we are going to leave to our grandchildren’s generation."</p> <p>“Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look great, does it? So far, my generation has failed to take the big decisions necessary to safeguard the future of the planet, to the point that scientists are telling us the changes we are seeing to our climate and biodiversity are becoming irreversible."</p> <p>“I really hope we can take global, concerted action to change things. We have a responsibility to do so."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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