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Worried your address, birth date or health data is being sold? You should be – and the law isn’t protecting you

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australians don’t know and can’t control how data brokers are spreading their personal information. This is the core finding of a newly <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Digital-platform-services-inquiry-March-2024-interim-report.pdf">released report</a> from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).</p> <p>Consumers wanting to rent a property, get an insurance quote or shop online are not given real choices about whether their personal data is shared for other purposes. This exposes Australians to scams, fraud, manipulation and discrimination.</p> <p>In fact, <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/consumers-lack-visibility-and-choice-over-data-collection-practices">many don’t even know</a> what kind of data has been collected about them and shared or sold by data firms and other third parties.</p> <p>Our privacy laws are due for reform. But Australia’s privacy commissioner <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">should also enforce</a> an existing rule: with very limited exceptions, businesses must not collect information about you from third parties.</p> <h2>What are data brokers?</h2> <p><a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">Data brokers</a> generally make their profits by collecting information about individuals from various sources and sharing this personal data with their many business clients. This can include detailed profiles of a person’s family, health, finances and movements.</p> <p>Data brokers often have no connection with the individual – you may not even recognise the name of a firm that holds vast amounts of information on you. Some of these data brokers are large multinational companies with billions of dollars in revenue.</p> <p>Consumer and privacy advocates provided the ACCC with evidence of highly concerning data broker practices. <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Salinger%20Privacy.pdf">One woman</a> tried to find out how data brokers had got hold of her information after receiving targeted medical advertising.</p> <p>Although she never discovered how they obtained her data, she found out it included her name, date of birth and contact details. It also included inferences about her, such as her retiree status, having no children, not having “high affluence” and being likely to donate to a charity.</p> <p>ACCC found another data broker was reportedly creating lists of individuals who may be experiencing vulnerability. The categories included:</p> <ul> <li>children, teenage girls and teenage boys</li> <li>“financially unsavvy” people</li> <li>elderly people living alone</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>religious minorities</li> <li>unemployed people</li> <li>people in financial distress</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>people experiencing pain or who have visited certain medical facilities.</li> </ul> <p>These are all potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited, for example, by scammers or unscrupulous advertisers.</p> <h2>How do they get this information?</h2> <p>The ACCC notes <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/CPRC-working-paper-Not-a-fair-trade-March-2025.pdf">74% of Australians are uncomfortable</a> with their personal information being shared or sold.</p> <p>Nonetheless, data brokers sell and share Australian consumers’ personal information every day. Businesses we deal with – for example, when we buy a car or search for natural remedies on an online marketplace – both buy data about us from data brokers and provide them with more.</p> <p>The ACCC acknowledges consumers haven’t been given a choice about this.</p> <p>Attempting to read every privacy term is near impossible. The ACCC referred to a recent study which found it would take consumers <a href="https://www.mi-3.com.au/06-11-2023/aussies-face-10-hour-privacy-policy-marathon-finds-study">over 46 hours a month</a> to read every privacy policy they encounter.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The approximate length and time it would take to read an average privacy policy in Australia per month.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/publications/serial-publications/digital-platform-services-inquiry-2020-25-reports/digital-platform-services-inquiry-interim-report-march-2024">ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry interim report</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Even if you could read every term, you still wouldn’t get a clear picture. Businesses use <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">vague wording</a> and data descriptions which <a href="https://theconversation.com/70-of-australians-dont-feel-in-control-of-their-data-as-companies-hide-behind-meaningless-privacy-terms-224072">confuse consumers</a> and have no fixed meaning. These include “pseudonymised information”, “hashed email addresses”, “aggregated information” and “advertising ID”.</p> <p>Privacy terms are also presented on a “take it or leave it” basis, even for transactions like applying for a rental property or buying insurance.</p> <p>The ACCC pointed out 41% of Australians feel they have been <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/consumers-and-data/data-collection-and-use/how-your-data-is-used/articles/choice-renttech-report-release">pressured to use “rent tech” platforms</a>. These platforms collect an increasing range of information with questionable connection to renting.</p> <h2>A first for Australian consumers</h2> <p>This is the first time an Australian regulator has made an in-depth report on the consumer data practices of data brokers, which are generally hidden from consumers. It comes <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/data-brokers-call-transparency-accountability-report-federal-trade-commission-may-2014/140527databrokerreport.pdf">ten years after</a> the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a similar inquiry into data brokers in the US.</p> <p>The ACCC report examined the data practices of nine data brokers and other “data firms” operating in Australia. (It added the term “data firms” because some companies sharing data about people argue that they are not data brokers.)</p> <p>A big difference between the Australian and the US reports is that the FTC is both the consumer watchdog and the <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312913">privacy regulator</a>. As our competition and consumer watchdog, the ACCC is meant to focus on competition and consumer issues.</p> <p>We also need our privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), to pay attention to these findings.</p> <h2>There’s a law against that</h2> <p>The ACCC report shows many examples of businesses collecting personal information about us from third parties. For example, you may be a customer of a business that only has your name and email address. But that business can purchase “<a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">data enrichment</a>” services from a data broker to find out your age range, income range and family situation.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2004A03712/latest/text">current Privacy Act</a> includes <a href="https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/australian-privacy-principles/read-the-australian-privacy-principles">a principle</a> that organisations must collect personal information only from the individual (you) unless it is unreasonable or impracticable to do so. “Impracticable” means practically impossible. This is the direct collection rule.</p> <p>Yet there is no reported case of the privacy commissioner enforcing the direct collection rule against a data broker or its business customers. Nor has the OAIC issued any specific guidance in this respect. It should do both.</p> <h2>Time to update our privacy laws</h2> <p>Our privacy law was drafted in 1988, long before this complex web of digital data practices emerged. Privacy laws in places such as California and the European Union provide much stronger protections.</p> <p>The government has <a href="https://ministers.ag.gov.au/media-centre/speeches/privacy-design-awards-2024-02-05-2024">announced</a> it plans to introduce a privacy law reform bill this August.</p> <p>The ACCC report reinforces the need for vital amendments, including a direct right of action for individuals and a rule requiring dealings in personal information to be “fair and reasonable”.<!-- 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/230540/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/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law &amp; Justice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-your-address-birth-date-or-health-data-is-being-sold-you-should-be-and-the-law-isnt-protecting-you-230540">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Legal

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Gina Rinehart's financial advice for Anthony Albanese

<p>Gina Rinehart has offered some free and unsolicited financial advice to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the wake of his divisive Federal Budget. </p> <p>Australia's richest woman, who has no experience in politics, suggested cutting the fuel excise and halting immigration would have a greater positive impact on the economy, as opposed to the Albanese government's measures to curb the cost of living. </p> <p>Rinehart has been critical of the $300 handout to combat energy bills regardless of household income, and believes that a big-spending budget is not the best way forward.</p> <p>Rather than tax Australians more to hand the money out again through handouts and welfare, she said lower taxes overall was a better way forward.</p> <p>Ms Rinehart said cutting fuel tax, which the government has rejected as too expensive, was one option.</p> <p>“I have advocated strongly for the government to directly reduce costs of living for Australians by cutting their fuel excise taxes, which would spread not only to car users, but all products that require transport,’’ she told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/gina-rinehart-tells-anthony-albanese-to-cut-fuel-excise-migration/news-story/bb84ef69e8a19506e7e3ae3e1f678e7c" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a>.</p> <p>“I have also advocated for cutting other taxes, payroll tax, stamp duty and license fees, that not only would bring down the cost of living, but were supposed to have been cut when GST was introduced decades ago."</p> <p>“Big spending, big government costs all (which I advocate against), and adds to the costs of living."</p> <p>“Recycling taxes paid is very inefficient, the taxpayer is actually better off paying less tax, and spending their income as they prefer.”</p> <p>Ms Rinehart, who has racked up a net worth of over $46.5 billion AUD through her investments into mining, has previously suggested a better way is to cut taxes and allow people to keep more of what they earn.</p> <p>“To help people suffering the most on low incomes, such as veterans, pensioners and uni students, if the government really cared about these fellow Australians struggling with high costs, they would remove the onerous government paperwork and their unfair limits on pensioners, veterans and students working hours, each of whom face higher effective tax rates than me if they choose to work above a very small threshold of hours,’’ she said.</p> <p>“Letting Australians who want to work, work, would be not only better for those Australians and their families, but would save the need for the government’s very expensive policy of hugely increased immigration, to allegedly bring in more workers.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Darren England/EPA-EFE & LUKAS COCH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Editorial</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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5 questions to ask before becoming a carer

<p>Thinking about becoming a caregiver? Deciding to step up and provide care for a loved one is a huge responsibility. Make sure you’re prepared and ask these five vital questions first.</p> <p><strong>Do I need to hire help?</strong></p> <p>Just because you’re taking on caregiving duties doesn’t mean you have to be super human. It’s perfectly okay to ask for help, whether it’s in the form of a cleaner or someone to take on tasks that you would prefer to outsource. According to Health.com, 40 per cent of caregivers say dealing with incontinence is one of their most difficult task, while 30 per cent say helping relatives bathe is hard as well.</p> <p><strong>What is my Plan B?</strong></p> <p>If something should happen to you and your schedule or demands change, it’s important to discuss a back-up plan. As the primary carer, a lot of responsibility will rest on you so make sure you have a Plan B before you need one.</p> <p><strong>Should I be compensated?</strong></p> <p>A survey found that 60 per cent of careers adjust their work schedule to look after others, which means either cutting back hours or taking a leave of absence. While you might not want to accept money to care for loved ones, it’s a good idea to have an open discussion with close friends and family about how the responsibilities might impact your life and earning capacity, so that all parties agree on a fair solution.</p> <p><strong>What is Power of Attorney?</strong></p> <p>If you are looking after someone with memory loss, you may need to look into a legal document called power of attorney. Talk to family about who should have this responsibilities, and how you will navigate legal issues that could arise.</p> <p><strong>Who is my support group?</strong></p> <p>Roughly one in three carers don’t receive any help. Having a strong support network of people you can turn to, even just for a chat, can make a huge difference. You might be surprised by how many people you know are also caregivers.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

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"Arrogance personified": Rich lister slammed for "pointless" job advice

<p>An Aussie rich lister has gone viral for all the wrong reasons, after her "tone deaf" advice for young Aussies to get a job fell flat. </p> <p>Sarina Russo, who made her start on the property market, shared the importance of relying on yourself to achieve financial independence.</p> <p>Ms Russo, who is ranked 59th on Australia’s 2024 Rich Women list with an estimated net worth of $271 million, runs a business that provides government-funded entrepreneurship programs to create self-employment opportunities.</p> <p>Known for handing out unsolicited financial advice, Russo was filmed on sharing her opinions on young people holding down work. </p> <p>“Today I thought I would emphasise how important it is to have a job,” she said. “You know, I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve been an ambassador for being the ‘Job Queen’ for Australia and global for something like 45 years," she said.  </p> <p>“I just want to emphasise that if you have a job, you have dignity. You have a job, you have more respect and positive self esteem."</p> <p>“If you have a job, you become financially (in)dependent and absolutely empowered. You can become more, enjoy more, have more and see more."</p> <p>“So today, I’m going to say to you and say to myself ... let’s get a job, let’s get excited, let’s get that passion growing and I’ll see you at the top. Ciao for now.”</p> <p>Given the current state of the job market for young Aussies in the wake of increased reliance on AI, many were quick to slam Ms Russo's comments. </p> <p>Social media users said her comments were "hypocritical" and "arrogance personified" given that she made her fortune as a landlord and became a multimillionaire based off other people's employment. </p> <p>“Yes watch Sarina, dressed in designer funk wear, as she meanders through the extravagant but ultimately aimless alleyways of the wealthy yet pointless. With each step, she peels off essential life lessons, like “I’m the jobs Queen; Get a job!” Classic. So tone deaf” one person wrote on Twitter.</p> <p>“Standing outside the Westin Hotel telling people to get a job as if nobody’s thought of it. Last day of the comedy festival - no stars,” another wrote under her Instagram video.</p> <p>This is not the first time Ms Russo' controversial comments caused a stir, attracting controversy two years ago after posting a video of herself telling victims of the devastating Queensland floods that “it’s the time to exercise”.</p> <p>Ms Russo told the victims “fitness is everything” and to “just do it”.</p> <p>“We’re here overlooking the most beautiful city called Brisbane and sadly last week we had massive floods – once in a hundred year flooding, and it called massive devastation,” she said to the camera.</p> <p>“But you know, when things are going wrong and endorphins are low, this is the time you need to exercise.I really believe that fitness is everything.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

Money & Banking

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‘Girl math’ may not be smart financial advice, but it could help women feel more empowered with money

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p>If you’ve ever calculated cost per wear to justify the price of an expensive dress, or felt like you’ve made a profit after returning an ill-fitting pair of jeans, you might be an expert in <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/girl-maths-tiktok-trend-its-basically-free-b1100504.html">“girl math”</a>. With videos about the topic going viral on social media, girl math might seem like a silly (<a href="https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/girl-math-womens-spending-taken-seriously">or even sexist</a>) trend, but it actually tells us a lot about the relationship between gender, money and emotions.</p> <p>Girl math introduces a spend classification system: purchases below a certain value, or made in cash, don’t “count”. Psychologically, this makes low-value spending feel safe and emphasises the importance of the long-term value derived from more expensive items. For example, girl math tells us that buying an expensive dress is only “worth it” if you can wear it to multiple events.</p> <p>This approach has similarities to <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/modernportfoliotheory.asp">portfolio theory</a> – a method of choosing investments to maximise expected returns and minimise risk. By evaluating how each purchase contributes to the shopping portfolio, girl math shoppers essentially become shopping portfolio managers.</p> <h2>Money and emotions</h2> <p>People of all genders, rich or poor, feel anxious when dealing with their personal finances. Many people in the UK do not understand pensions or saving enough to <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/workplacepensions/articles/pensionparticipationatrecordhighbutcontributionsclusteratminimumlevels/2018-05-04">afford their retirement</a>. Without motivation to learn, people avoid dealing with money altogether. One way to find this motivation, as girl math shows, is by having an emotional and tangible connection to our finances.</p> <p>On the surface, it may seem that women are being ridiculed and encouraged to overspend by using girl math. From a different perspective, it hints at something critical: for a person to really care about something as seemingly abstract as personal finance, they need to feel that they can relate to it.</p> <p>Thinking about money in terms of the value of purchases can help create an <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/every-time-i-use-my-card-my-phone-buzzes-and-that-stops-me-shopping-ps0fjx6nj">emotional relationship</a> to finance, making it something people want to look after.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GPzA7B6dcxc?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>The girl math we need</h2> <p>Women are a consumer force to be reckoned with, controlling <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/bridgetbrennan/2015/01/21/top-10-things-everyone-should-know-about-women-consumers/#7679f9d6a8b4">up to 80%</a> of consumer spending globally. The girl math trend is a demonstration of women’s mastery at applying portfolio theory to their shopping, making them investment powerhouses whose potential is overlooked by the financial services industry.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/28/women-paid-less-than-men-over-careers-gender-pay-gap-report">Women are disadvantaged</a> when it comes to money and finance. Women in the UK earn on average £260,000 less than men during their careers and the retirement income of men is twice as high as women’s.</p> <p>As I’ve found in <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Gender-and-Finance-Addressing-Inequality-in-the-Financial-Services-Industry/Baeckstrom/p/book/9781032055572">my research</a> on gender and finance, women have lower financial self-efficacy (belief in their own abilities) compared to men. This is not helped by women feeling patronised when seeking financial advice.</p> <p>Because the world of finance was created by men for men, its language and culture are <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Gender-and-Finance-Addressing-Inequality-in-the-Financial-Services-Industry/Baeckstrom/p/book/9781032055572">intrinsically male</a>. Only in the mid-1970s did women in the UK gain the legal right to open a bank account without a male signature and it was not until 1980 that they could apply for credit independently. With the law now more (<a href="https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2023/03/02/pace-of-reform-toward-equal-rights-for-women-falls-to-20-year-low">but not fully</a>) gender equal, the financial services industry has failed to connect with women.</p> <p>Studies show that 49% of women are <a href="https://www.ellevest.com/magazine/disrupt-money/ellevest-financial-wellness-survey">anxious about their finances</a>. However they have not bought into patronising offers and <a href="https://www.fa-mag.com/news/gender-roles-block-female-financial-experience--ubs-says-73531.html">mansplaining by financial advisers</a>. This outdated approach suggests that it is women, rather than the malfunctioning financial system, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/16/women-are-not-financially-illiterate-they-need-more-than-condescending-advice">who need fixing</a>.</p> <p>Women continue to feel that they do not belong to or are able to trust the world of finance. And why would women trust an industry with a <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/genderpaygapintheuk/2019">gender pay gap</a> of up to 59% and a severe lack of women in senior positions?</p> <p>Girl math on its own isn’t necessarily good financial advice, but if it helps even a handful of women feel more empowered to manage and understand their finances, it should not be dismissed.</p> <p><!-- 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/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, Senior Lecturer in Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</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/girl-math-may-not-be-smart-financial-advice-but-it-could-help-women-feel-more-empowered-with-money-211780">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Asking ChatGPT a health-related question? Better keep it simple

<p>It’s tempting to <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/news/chatgpt-and-dr-google/">turn to search engines</a> to seek out health information, but with the rise of large language models, like ChatGPT, people are becoming more and more likely to depend on AI for answers too.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>Concerningly, an Australian study has now found that the more evidence given to <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/chatgpt-an-intimate-companion/">ChatGPT</a> when asked a health-related question, the less reliable it becomes.</p> <p>Large language models (LLM) and artificial intelligence use in health care is still developing, creating a  a critical gap when providing incorrect answers can have serious consequences for people’s health.</p> <p>To address this, scientists from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the University of Queensland (UQ) explored a hypothetical scenario: an average person asking ChatGPT if ‘X’ treatment has a positive effect on condition ‘Y’.</p> <p>They presented ChatGPT with 100 questions sourced from the <a href="https://trec-health-misinfo.github.io/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TREC Health Misinformation track</a> – ranging from ‘Can zinc help treat the common cold?’ to ‘Will drinking vinegar dissolve a stuck fish bone?’</p> <p>Because queries to search engines are typically shorter, while prompts to a LLM can be far longer, they posed the questions in 2 different formats: the first as a simple question and the second as a question biased with supporting or contrary evidence.</p> <p>By comparing ChatGPT’s response to the known correct response based on existing medical knowledge, they found that ChatGPT was 80% accurate at giving accurate answers in a question-only format. However, when given an evidence-biased prompt, this accuracy reduced to 63%, which was reduced again to 28% when an “unsure” answer was allowed. </p> <p>“We’re not sure why this happens,” says CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and Associate Professor at UQ, Dr Bevan Koopman, who is co-author of the paper.</p> <p>“But given this occurs whether the evidence given is correct or not, perhaps the evidence adds too much noise, thus lowering accuracy.”</p> <p>Study co-author Guido Zuccon, Director of AI for the Queensland Digital Health Centre at UQ says that major search engines are now integrating LLMs and search technologies in a process called Retrieval Augmented Generation.</p> <p>“We demonstrate that the interaction between the LLM and the search component is still poorly understood, resulting in the generation of inaccurate health information,” says Zuccon.</p> <p>Given the widespread popularity of using LLMs online for answers on people’s health, Koopman adds, we need continued research to inform the public about risks and to help them optimise the accuracy of their answers.</p> <p>“While LLMs have the potential to greatly improve the way people access information, we need more research to understand where they are effective and where they are not.”</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="asking chatgpt a health-related question? better keep it simple 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=301406&amp;title=Asking+ChatGPT+a+health-related+question%3F+Better+keep+it+simple" 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/technology/ai/asking-chatgpt-a-health-related-question-better-keep-it-simple/">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/imma-perfetto/">Imma Perfetto</a>. </em></div>

Caring

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COVID is surging in Australia – and only 1 in 5 older adults are up to date with their boosters

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adrian-esterman-1022994">Adrian Esterman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Do you have family members or friends sick with a respiratory infection? If so, there’s a good chance it’s COVID, caused by the JN.1 variant currently circulating in Australia.</p> <p>In particular, New South Wales is reportedly experiencing its <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-09/nsw-sydney-covid-variant-virus-pandemic-hospitalisations/103298610">highest levels</a> of COVID infections in a year, while Victoria is said to be facing a “<a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/victoria-in-midst-of-double-wave-of-covid19--as-jn1-triggers-infections-surge/4dada2cb-7d56-436a-9490-cad1d908a29a">double wave</a>” after a surge late last year.</p> <p>But nearly four years into the pandemic, data collection is less comprehensive than it was, and of course, fewer people are testing. So what do we know about the extent of this wave? And importantly, are we adequately protected?</p> <h2>Difficulties with data</h2> <p>Tracking COVID numbers was easier in the first half of last year, when each state and territory provided a weekly update, giving us data on case notifications, hospitalisations, ICU numbers and deaths.</p> <p>In the second half of the year some states and territories switched to less frequent reporting while others stopped their regular updates. As a result, different jurisdictions now report at different intervals and provide varying statistics.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://www.health.vic.gov.au/infectious-diseases/victorian-covid-19-surveillance-report">Victoria</a> still provides weekly reports, while NSW publishes <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Documents/respiratory-surveillance-20240106.pdf">fortnightly updates</a>.</p> <p>While each offer different metrics, we can gather – particularly from data on hospitalisations – that both states are experiencing a wave. We’re also seeing high levels of COVID <a href="https://www.health.vic.gov.au/infectious-diseases/victorian-covid-19-surveillance-report">in wastewater</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, <a href="https://health.nt.gov.au/covid-19/data">Northern Territory Health</a> simply tell you to go to the Australian government’s Department of Health website for COVID data. This houses the only national COVID <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/covid-19/reporting?language=und">data collection</a>. Unfortunately, it’s not up to date, difficult to use, and, depending on the statistic, often provides no state and territory breakdowns.</p> <p>Actual case notifications are provided on a separate <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">website</a>, although given the lack of testing, these are likely to be highly inaccurate.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/covid-19/reporting?language=und">Department of Health website</a> does provide some other data that gives us clues as to what’s happening. For example, as of one month ago, there were 317 active outbreaks of COVID in aged care homes. This figure has been generally rising since September.</p> <p>Monthly prescriptions for antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme were increasing rapidly in November, but we are not given more recent data on this.</p> <p>It’s also difficult to obtain information about currently circulating strains. Data expert Mike Honey provides a regularly updated <a href="https://github.com/Mike-Honey/covid-19-genomes?tab=readme-ov-file#readme">snapshot</a> for Australia based on data from GISAID (the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) that shows JN.1 rising in prevalence and accounting for about 40% of samples two weeks ago. The proportion is presumably higher now.</p> <h2>What’s happening elsewhere?</h2> <p>Many other countries are currently going through a COVID wave, probably driven to a large extent by JN.1. These include <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/506301/covid-19-complacency-waning-immunity-contribute-to-fifth-wave-epidemiologist">New Zealand</a>, <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/facemasks-mandatory-spain-hospitals-b2475563.html">Spain, Greece</a> and the United States.</p> <p>According to cardiologist and scientist Eric Topol, the US is currently experiencing its <a href="https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2024-01-04/covid-2024-flu-virus-vaccine">second biggest wave</a> since the start of the pandemic, linked to JN.1.</p> <h2>Are vaccines still effective?</h2> <p>It’s expected the current COVID vaccines, which target the omicron variant XBB.1.5, are still <a href="https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/seven-things-you-need-know-about-jn1-covid-19-variant">effective</a> at reducing hospitalisations and deaths from JN.1 (also an omicron offshoot).</p> <p>The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) updated their <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-update-on-the-covid-19-vaccination-program">advice</a> on booster shots in September last year. They recommended adults aged over 75 should receive an additional COVID vaccine dose in 2023 if six months had passed since their last dose.</p> <p>They also suggest all adults aged 65 to 74 (plus adults of any age who are severely immunocompromised) should consider getting an updated booster. They say younger people or older adults who are not severely immunocompromised and have already had a dose in 2023 don’t need further doses.</p> <p>This advice is very confusing. For example, although ATAGI does not recommend additional booster shots for younger age groups, does this mean they’re not allowed to have one?</p> <p>In any case, as of <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccine-rollout-update-8-december-2023?language=en">December 6</a>, only 19% of people aged 65 and over had received a booster shot in the last six months. For those aged 75 and over, this figure is 23%. Where is the messaging to these at-risk groups explaining why updating their boosters is so important?</p> <h2>Should we be concerned by this wave?</h2> <p>That depends on who we mean by “we”. For those who are vulnerable, absolutely. Mainly because so few have received an updated booster shot and very few people, including the elderly, are wearing masks.</p> <p>For the majority of people, a COVID infection is unlikely to be serious. The biggest concern for younger people is the risk of long COVID, which research suggests <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02051-3">increases</a> with each reinfection.</p> <h2>What should we expect in 2024?</h2> <p>It’s highly likely we will see repeated waves of infections over the next 12 months and beyond, mainly caused by waning immunity from previous infection, vaccination or both, and new subvariants.</p> <p>Unless a new subvariant causes more severe disease (and at this stage, there’s no evidence JN.1 does), we should be able to manage quite well, without our hospitals becoming overwhelmed. However, we should be doing more to protect our vulnerable population. Having only one in five older people up to date with a booster and more than 300 outbreaks in aged care homes is not acceptable.</p> <p>For those who are vulnerable, the usual advice applies. Make sure you’re up to date with your booster shots, wear a P2/N95 mask when out and about, and if you do get infected, take antivirals as soon as possible.<!-- 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/220839/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/adrian-esterman-1022994"><em>Adrian Esterman</em></a><em>, Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</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/covid-is-surging-in-australia-and-only-1-in-5-older-adults-are-up-to-date-with-their-boosters-220839">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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90-year-old grandma's secrets, regrets and brutal "advice"

<p>An amazingly sprightly 90-year-old grandmother has appeared on TikTok to share her deepest regrets in life, leaving viewers both amused and contemplative with her surprising take on being a nonagenarian.</p> <p>The video, which has garnered a whopping 70,000 views, features the wise words of wisdom from a woman who has seen it all, or at least enough to make her wish she hadn't seen quite so much.</p> <p>The nanna, who spilled the beans to her inquisitive granddaughter <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@racheljdillon?lang=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rachel Dillon</a> – an online fitness coach –  began by revealing what she wishes she did less of in her life.</p> <p>"Probably less of nothing," she admits. "I mean I never worked after I was married or anything like that. I wish I had probably done more mixing with people with that. More socialising." </p> <p>It's then that the truth bombs really start to drop. When Rachel asks, "Do you have any regrets", a cloud of laughter fills the room, before the answer comes.</p> <p>"Yes, I do regret marrying too young," she says emphatically. "I met my husband when I was 13 and he was 15. We got married at 17 and 19. I met him at the library. He used to ride me up on the bicycle when I was going to the library."</p> <p>Then, when asked about the secret to turning 90, Rachel's grandma confesses not only that there isn't one, but that she regrets having made it this far at all.</p> <p>"I didn't really want to get to 90," she declares with the nonchalance of someone choosing between tea and coffee. "I've had enough. I've had all I wanted out of the world. I am quite happy to go and meet my little puppy dog waiting there for me."</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">When asked about her secret to looking so young, Rachel's grandma almost brushes the question aside, laying the blame simply in the quality of her genes for having "always been a fox", according to Rachel.</span></p> <p>The final question, and the final brutally honest response – which may have made Rachel regret asking about regrets – was simply: "Do you have any advice for us?"</p> <p>"Oh God no," comes the world-weary answer. "Not the way the world's going. No, I'm just glad I'll be gone. I don't want to be part of anything that I can see going on."      </p> <p>TikTok users were quick to commend the grandmother, not just for her unexpected revelations but also for her timeless beauty. "She looks absolutely amazing," gushed one admirer, proving that age is just a number – albeit one that sometimes takes us by surprise.</p> <p>In the end, this nonagenarian nanna has become an unexpected sensation, leaving us all to ponder life's mysteries, library love stories, and the prospect of meeting puppy dogs in the great beyond.</p> <p>If her story has taught us anything, it's that life is unpredictable, love can blossom in the unlikeliest of places (like a library), and sometimes it's OK to regret that hasty decision to say "I do" before you even knew how to do your taxes.</p> <div class="post_body_wrapper" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 8px 0px 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #323338; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif;"> <div class="post-body-container" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"> <div class="post-body-renderer-component post_body" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: top; position: relative; transition: max-height 0.14s ease 0s; overflow: hidden; color: var(--primary-text-color); max-height: none;"> <div class="post-body-content" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; width: 630px; overflow: auto hidden;"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px 15px 15px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; position: relative; overflow: auto; color: var(--primary-text-color); font-family: var(--font-family); line-height: 1.5; word-break: break-word;"> <div class="embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; width: 600px; max-width: 100%; outline: none !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7311465610821651720&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40racheljdillon%2Fvideo%2F7311465610821651720&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-sg.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-alisg-p-0037%2Fo49EYZFdsEDJhfBAiE2gfGE8l3IAR2qBQx14iB%3Fx-expires%3D1702681200%26x-signature%3DL%252FvO6dLXwqFOi09XENAbVmG4tgs%253D&key=5b465a7e134d4f09b4e6901220de11f0&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <div> <div><em>Images: TikTok / @racheljdillon</em></div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

Retirement Life

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"I just don't like old skin": Jane Fonda's bizarre confession

<p>Jane Fonda has made an unusual confession about her dating life, explaining why she would only date people of a certain age. </p> <p>The Hollywood legend, 85, has been married three times throughout her life: first to director Roger Vadim from 1965 to 1973, then to activist Tom Hayden from 1973 to 1990, and finally to CNN founder Ted Turner from 1991 to 2001.</p> <p>Fonda is currently single, but doesn't plan on staying that way. </p> <p>Despite being open to finding love, the actress has a very specific criteria for potential suitors to meet before agreeing to a date. </p> <p>On the <em>Absolutely Not</em> podcast, the Oscar winner initially suggested she was done with men for good, saying, “I’m done, I’m over, I’m [almost] 86 years old, even in the dark I wouldn’t want to be naked in front of anybody.” </p> <p>But she then went on to confess that there’s still a chance she could fall for a man, but they would just have to be substantially younger. </p> <p>“And here’s another thing, I’m ashamed to say this, if I were to take a lover, he’d have to be 20. Because I don’t like old skin,” said Fonda.</p> <p>She continued, “And consequently, I don’t want to foist that on anybody else. I assume other people are like me, I just don’t like old skin.”</p> <p>“I disapprove of 86-year-old men with 20-year-old women, so I’m not going to repeat it. I can ogle them, and I can’t pretend that I don’t get turned on if I see a certain kind of a person, but no, no, no, I don’t want to force that on anybody.”</p> <p>Her confession has been criticised on social media, with some suggesting the star would be “cancelled” if it was a man that had said the same about young women. </p> <p>“This is seriously weird,” tweeted one fan, while another said: “But an 85 year old man wanting to date a 20 year old woman is disgusting? Am I right?”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Relationships

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7 tips for matching wine with food

<p>Food and wine matching is the perfect way to enhance the flavours of your meal, and while the people who get paid to do if for a living would have you think it’s a complex science, it’s actually not too hard to do. Here’s a simple seven-step guide to get you started as a food/wine-matching expert!</p> <p><strong>1. Sweet with heat</strong> – Wines that have a little bit of residual sugar (like a German Riesling) combine really well with spicy foods. This is because as the residual sugar enters your mouth it actually cools down spice in your food and creates a balance that allows you to savour the flavour.  </p> <p><strong>2. Smoke with oak</strong> – When cooking foods that have been grilled or charred, you really want to be looking for a wine that has been aged in oak barrels. Oaked wines tend to be a little more intense, so they need to be matched with grilled/charred foods that can match and bring out the fruit flavours.</p> <p><strong>3. Match flavours and textures</strong> – Similar flavours and textures go well together, as you’d imagine. Just as rich foods suit rich wines, mild foods go well with mild wines and as a general rule when food and wine possess similar qualities they can complement each other and enhance common flavours.</p> <p><strong>4. Fats with acid and tannins</strong> – Wines that are high in acid (Sauvignon Blanc) or tannin (Cabernet Sauvignon) go well with fried or fatty foods and help round out the flavours in your mouth. It also acts as a palate cleanser and creates balance between the rich/oily foods and the wine.</p> <p><strong>5. Sweet with salt</strong> – As anyone who’s ever combined blue cheese with port would agree. The combination will bring out the fruity taste in sweet wine and the savoury taste in salty foods. So yeah, you’re completely justified with your pairing of a bottle of Moscato with a packet of Cheezels.</p> <p><strong>6. Sweet with sweet</strong> – But as anyone who’s had ice cream served with another variety of ice cream would agree two sweet things can make a very sweet thing. Sweet wines can help bring out the flavours in the food. Just take care to make sure the wine is sweeter than the food is.</p> <p><strong>7. If it grows together, it goes together</strong> – Hey, there’s a reason why you generally don’t have stein of lager with a bowl of risotto. Foods and wines of a particular ethnicity or region usually work together like clockwork and naturally have flavours and textures that work well in combination. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Food & Wine

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No more brown leaves: sage advice from a gardening expert

<p>We’ve all been there before. We’re watering our seemingly healthy houseplant when suddenly there it is: a tinge of brown on the plant’s leaf. Yikes. But what do brown tips on leaves mean for your plant, and what can you do to make them go away? Read on to find out.</p> <p><strong>Lack of water or humidity</strong></p> <p>If your plant is sporting crispy, dark, or brown tips on its leaves, it may mean you need to water more often. Check the soil moisture and slowly reduce the number of days in between watering. Watch your plants for signs of improvement.</p> <p>Lack of humidity could also be the cause. Tropical plants prefer higher humidity levels than we have in our homes. When we turn on the heat in winter, there’s even less moisture in the air. Group plants together so that as one loses moisture through its leaves, the neighbours benefit. Or place plants on saucers or trays filled with pebbles and water. Set a pot on the pebbles above the water. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around the plant, where it is needed.</p> <p><strong>Lack of nutrients</strong></p> <p>A lack of key nutrients may be behind the brown tips on leaves of your plant. Burned-looking leaf tips, or old leaves with dark green or reddish-purplish colouring, may indicate a phosphorus deficiency. With a potassium deficiency, you may see yellow or brown along older leaf tips and edges, yellowing between veins, curling leaves, or spotting.</p> <p>For potted plants, add a slow-release type of fertiliser to the soil mix before planting. Every time you water, a little fertiliser is released, providing a steady flow of nutrients. But depending on the growing conditions and number of plants in the container, a midseason boost may be needed. Stay on top of your fertiliser applications by making notes on a calendar.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/gardening-tips/why-does-my-plant-have-brown-tips-on-the-leaves" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Home & Garden

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"Creepy" reaction to Robert Irwin debuting his girlfriend on social media

<p>Robert Irwin finally made his relationship with Rorie Buckey Instagram official with a cute selfie shared to his four million followers. </p> <p>While many were supportive of the couple's budding romance, a few others couldn't hide their disappointment as their dreams of having their own fairytale romance with the conservationist were crushed. </p> <p>“You just broke the hearts of tens of thousands of young girls across the world. Congrats tho,”  commented one person. </p> <p>“Siri play that should be me by Justin Bieber,” commented another. </p> <p>"So this is what heartbreak and betrayal feels like," commented a third. </p> <p>"I don’t think I can ever recover from this," wrote fourth. </p> <p>"What if this was my last straw robert," wrote another. </p> <p>One fan even asked him: "HOW COULD U CHEAT ON ME !?😭"</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CwUpgBprVDf/?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/CwUpgBprVDf/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Robert Irwin (@robertirwinphotography)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The post itself gained almost 400,000 likes in the first eight hours after it went live, and a few comments have called out the fans who were disappointed in the star. </p> <p>“Some of these comments are creepy as,” wrote one.</p> <p>“This comment section is disappointing remove yourself from whatever parasocial relationship you’ve constructed and treat people with kindness,” commented another. </p> <p>“As much as I do have a celebrity crush on Robert, I think everybody should be happy for him. His life,” wrote a third. </p> <p>"Why are these comments so creepy? If you cant be kind, just stop. They look happy, leave them be," added another. </p> <p>The couple were first spotted cuddling at a Queensland beach late last year, and made their first <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/beauty-style/robert-irwin-makes-red-carpet-debut-with-girlfriend" target="_blank" rel="noopener">red carpet debut </a>at Sydney's International Convention Centre last month. </p> <p>Buckley, who is late star Heath Ledger's niece, is currently living in Perth, so the young couple are currently making their relationship work long-distance. </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

Relationships

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Karl's mum steals the show on Today

<p>Karl Stefanovic's mum has stolen the show on <em>Today</em> after she called in to offer some health advice. </p> <p>The <em>Today</em> panel were discussing tick bites on Friday morning, consulting Dr Nick Coatsworth earlier in the show about how to remove them, with the doctor saying you must remove the tick around the head, as well as any pincers to reduce the risk of reactions and inflammation.</p> <p>After consulting Dr Coatsworth, Karl's mum Jenny joined the conversation via video link to ask some advice from a parents point of view. </p> <p>"So, let's go to Dr J now, AKA my mum, Jenny from the block," Karl joked before introducing his mum on the show.</p> <p>"I had a big argument with you at the start of the year about all this, when I pulled a tick out of a cousin and you got very cranky at me, so what is your solution?"</p> <p>"I got cranky, because you didn't know if it was a tick and I saw it and said it was a tick and my suggestion is, if you can't get it out right from the head, like Nick the doctor [said], you need to go to the doctor and get it all out," she said.</p> <p>"I said if you leave the head in it can cause infections and you can get all those sort of weird tick diseases these days."</p> <p>"Jenny knows what she's talking about," Today co-host Sarah Abo said.</p> <p>"Before we go Dr J, where do you think you went wrong with me as a parent?" Karl questioned his mum as his co-hosts giggled.</p> <p>"Did you leave a tick inside your own son, Jenny?" Sarah joked.</p> <p>"We got them," Karl quipped as his mum added that he didn't get too many.</p> <p>Jenny added that you need to put some alcohol on the area where the tick was after pulling it out at the head, with Karl joking, "And that's where my love of alcohol came from!"</p> <p>"It all makes sense now," Sarah added.</p> <p>Karl's sister-in-law and co-host of <em>Today Extra</em> Sylvia Jeffreys said with a laugh, "The best part of that was the way she very carefully dodged that question about where it all went wrong, Karl!"</p> <p>"And thanks for revisiting that one, Sylvie," he responded.</p> <p>"Couldn't help it!" she quipped.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"Gosh, this is hard": Jana Pittman's cry for parenting advice

<p>Jana Pittman has pleaded with parents for advice on how to tackle the common issue of sleep deprivation with her two babies. </p> <p>The former Olympian and mum-of-six posted a lengthy story on Instagram, detailing  the sleep issues she is experiencing with 16-month-old twins Quinlan and Willow.</p> <p>In the candid post, the retired athlete turned doctor shared how much she was struggling, calling her babies "the worst sleepers" she's ever had. </p> <p>"So while I am managing... I am no longer thriving!"</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/CuVN6n0haGj/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CuVN6n0haGj/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Jana Pittman (@janapittmanofficial)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Pittman shared a series of vulnerable photos to her page, posing with her twins who celebrated their first birthday in March this year.</p> <p>"I love my kids but simultaneous twin sleep issues is killing me! Plus the new onset tantrums x 2 can drain the smiles away. They are 16mths old and the worst sleepers I have had," the mum captioned the post.</p> <p>"I used to call Willow 'princess peach' but her new name is 'cranky crab' and 'Quinny Bear' is now 'midnight monster'."</p> <p>"I joke.. but sleep deprivation is real!! They will grow out of it in time and I know how privileged I am to have them when so many are struggling with infertility but gosh this is hard!!"</p> <p>Jana admitted she had even hired a sleep consult to try to help her kids' issues, but Pittman's working schedule made it hard for her kids to form a routine. </p> <p>"I work a lot of nights, so my little ones have different people caring for them. It means routine is hard," she expressed.</p> <p>She then ended her post with a call out to other parents for advice, writing, "Anything that works, please share as I am sure I am not the only one on this roller coaster."</p> <p>Many parents chimed in to the comment section sharing their pieces of advice, while the overall message to the Olympian was to hang in there, as her babies will eventually grow out of it.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

Body

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Thief asks woman out on date after robbing her at gunpoint

<p>A US woman has gone through the harrowing experience of being robbed at gunpoint, but it was what happened after the fact that was almost as eerie.</p> <p>Amber Beraun was checking the mail one night at her Indianapolis home in May when she was approached by a man with a gun.</p> <p>The gunman was later identified as Damien Boyce.</p> <p>Speaking to WRTV, Beraun said she was confronted by Boyce, who attempted to enter her home. She refused and gave him all the cash she had handy, which came to $100.</p> <p>Before he made his escape, Boyce asked Beraun a very unexpected, and quite frankly bizarre question - to add him on Facebook.</p> <p>The thief also noted he was planning to pay her back.</p> <p>Beraun responded, telling him she “believed” him and that “times just get rough”.</p> <p>Boyce proceeded to ask the woman to “come chill”.</p> <p>He was later arrested by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and charged over a separate armed robbery on June 12, where two people got shot and one was hit in the head with a brick.</p> <p>He was also charged with his robbery of Beraun.</p> <p>Beraun said her local neighbourhood has been affected by the terrifying incident.</p> <p>"It makes me a little on edge knowing that people walk up and down the street, looking for places to commit crimes," she said.</p> <p>"It makes it a little different when you hear noises at night."</p> <p>Beraun insisted she "never" thought something like this would happen to her.</p> <p>"He took away my sense of safety from my home."</p> <p><em>Image credit: ABC America</em></p>

Legal

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Advice on dealing with tricky in-laws

<p>From heated discussions to awkward family dinners, your relationship with your in-laws can have a big impact on family time. Here’s how to navigate this sometimes tricky dynamic.</p> <p>There’s nothing worse than heading to a family engagement when you have a son-in-law (or your daughter’s parents-in-law) that you just don’t get along with. Whether there's been a fight that you haven’t been able to move on from, or you simply don’t get along, if you find your in-laws draining or annoying, you may need to change the boundaries.</p> <p>Do you know the old saying, “good fences make good neighbours”? Think of your in-laws like your neighbours – there needs to be really good fences (aka boundaries) in place for the relationship to run smoothly. The best way to go about this is in such a way that you don’t make anyone feel as though you're closing them out, but rather comes off that you are simply focussing on yourself and things you have going on.</p> <p>Once you’ve set boundaries, don’t be afraid to talk to your family and in-laws about them, they’re not as fragile as you think. But do choose your words carefully and keep the focus on you and what your needs are, rather than making any judgements or comments about them or their behaviour.</p> <p>Still not sure how to deal with your son, daughter, sister or brother in-law? Here are some top tips for setting boundaries and dealing with awkward situations:</p> <ol> <li>The person with the primary relationship (for example your daughter, not your son-in-law) should be the one to step in and help fix a problem if it arises. You should never be the messenger or go straight to an in-law. Gently raise the issue or concern with your immediate family member. </li> <li>Decide with your partner, or in your own time if you are single or widowed, what type of role you want your in-law/s to play in your life. If you don’t get along and spending time with them just seems to cause issues, then you might want to limit catch-ups to birthdays and big events. This is ok. Just be gentle if asked to explain. And keep your explanation brief and about you. Something along the lines of, my schedule is quite busy at the moment or I don’t feel up to going out too much, but I am looking forward to the next family get together. </li> <li>Never criticise your family for their relationship with his or her spouse/your in-laws, nor comment on your in-law to your immediate family member – for example don’t criticise your son-in-law to your daughter/his wife. This tends to only lead to complications and awkwardness. And remember, you only know what your daughter tells you and if they come to you everytime they’re upset or angry with their partner or their partner’s extended family, you’re only hearing the problems when your daughter is frustrated and upset. You might not hear all the good things and about when they make up. Don’t take these things on board and stay out of it by reserving any judgement or comments. </li> <li>Don’t get involved. Easier said than done, right? You have to trust that you have brought your children up right and they are responsible enough to navigate their own relationships, treat others respectfully and can stand up for themselves if need be. As such, you should not get involved in their issues, arguments and general day-to-day dealings with their other relationships. Stay on the peripheral, be there for some light guidance if need be, but ultimately you should just help them come to their own opinions, decisions and judgements on things rather than sharing your ones with them. </li> <li>Don’t get pulled into arguments by your child and in-law. You can be supportive and still let the couple handle their own problems. Take a step back and trust that you have raised an adult who has the vision and the courage to resolve the problems that concern his/her own family. Couples need to set boundaries for their own relationships and this can, as I am sure you know, take some time to find the right ones. </li> <li>Think of yourself as a guest. When spending time with family in big groups, and especially when you’re at someone else’s home, it is best to think of yourself as a guest and act accordingly. For example you may not like the way you son’s wife is doing things in her home (child rearing, cooking, cleaning etc), but unfortunately it is not really any of your business. This is between your son and his wife. A good checkpoint is to ask yourself if you have a sense of entitlement and expectancy that is inappropriate. If there are issues that you just can’t stand but can’t let go, then you may need to consider not visiting them.</li> </ol> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Survival guide for cool-weather camping

<p>Being comfortable is king to enjoying winter camping. Take a look at our suggestions to help you gear up and get out there when the weather is cold but the campfire is hot.</p> <p><strong>Shelter</strong></p> <p>It’s one of the most important aspects of camping in any season! Your bedding and shelter arrangement should be both comfortable and functional so you can always create a home away from home.</p> <p>Winter around the country can mean different things – for instance, some camp spots during winter are often covered in a blanket of snow where as at others the temperature is cool at night and moderate during the day. Depending on the type of winter you’ll be camping in, you’ll need to adjust the shelter and bedding options to suit but there are a few things every winter camper should be aware off.</p> <p>Make sure your tent pegs are suited to the type of ground where you’ll pitch your tent or shelter. For example in light sandy soil conditions a strong sand peg should work well however in snow covered ground or loose sand locations a longer sturdier peg will keep you tent and shelter firmly in place. Laying a ground sheet underneath your tent will help keep the dew and moisture away from your gear. Pitching your tent or shelter in a location that will take advantage of the morning sun is also a nice touch and one that your fellow campers will appreciate!</p> <p>If you’re likely to be camping in light snow or humid conditions, it’s a good idea to pitch a flysheet over your tent or even a tarpaulin. This will trap “dead air” between your tent and the cold air providing extra insulation and will also help reduce moisture and condensation from appearing in your tent. The same principle applies to your swag – a fly and ground sheet will help prevent condensation and creating a layer of dead air will help give you a comfy and warmer sleep.</p> <p>Hot Tip: Using a ground sheet underneath your tent or swag will help prevent moisture from entering your shelter from below.</p> <p><strong>Sleeping</strong></p> <p>What you sleep in or on can also affect your comfort level. In cold conditions the humble airbed isn’t the best insulator so it’s a good option to use a self-inflating or 4WD mattress. These bedding options also trap dead air and your body warmth will help to create a warmer bed of air to sleep on. Your choice of sleeping bag is also important so it’s a good idea to match the bag to the climate. Along with fill material and weight, sleeping bags are also rated on their insulation or temperature rating. Sleeping bags such as the Blackwolf Zambezie sleeping bag are suited to sub-zero temperatures where as less insulating sleeping bags will keep you comfortable in plus zero degree conditions. Some of us “feel the cold” more than others so it’s important to take this into consideration when deciding what sleeping bag you’ll need. We recommend using a sleeping bag rated to below the temperatures you’re expecting – it’s easier to make yourself cool than it is to add extra warmth.</p> <p>Hot Tip: Hot water bottles are great additions for a warm sleep.</p> <p><strong>What to wear</strong></p> <p>Dressing in layers is a great idea as this allows you to adjust your warmth to suit the conditions or activity. A base layer such as thermals will control your core body temperature. An insulating or middle layer such as a fleece jumper will create a micro-climate and trap warmth around your body. An outer or protective layer will protect you from the elements such as wind or rain.</p> <p><em>How To: As most of your body heat is lost through your extremities don’t forget your accessories such as beanies, scarves and gloves.</em></p> <p><strong>Cooking</strong></p> <p>Everyone loves a warming winter meal and we all have memories of a great winter stew or roast. Bringing these meals to the campsite in winter and sharing them with family and friends are easily some of the best pleasures of winter camping. Cooking over a fire is a great idea as the campers are able to enjoy the warmth provided by the fire whilst the meal is cooking. Options for cooking over a fire include the traditional cast iron cookware or fire grill and cast iron plate. Cooking options not needing a fire include thermal cookers such as the Dream Pot or a Cobb cooker. These options are perfect for cooking delicious stews, soups and roasts.</p> <p><em>Hot Tip: When cooking with cast iron, charcoal briquettes provide a long burning and consistent source of heat making cast iron cooking so easy! If firewood is your heat source, don’t forget to bring enough firewood for your heating and cooking needs!</em></p> <p>With a heap of easy cooking options available there’s no reason why you can’t be sharing a warm and hearty stew or sensational roast on your next winter camping trip.</p> <p><strong>Winter warmers</strong></p> <p>Comfort and warmth are key for enjoying your winter camping experience. Hot showers and gas heaters are just two options that will make your winter camping trip much easier and more comfortable. Gas heaters are great as they are portable and provide a constant source of heat. Water heaters such as the Coleman Hot Water on Demand system are popular options for winter campers – who can say no to an instant warm shower or hot cuppa?</p> <p><em>First appeared on the Ray’s Outdoors website. <a href="http://blog.raysoutdoors.com.au/expertadvice?category=Camping" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Visit them</strong> </a><a href="http://blog.raysoutdoors.com.au/expertadvice?category=Camping" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>here for more camping advice</strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/caravan-camping/2015/05/4-campfire-recipes/">4 simple and delicious campfire recipes you should try</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/caravan-camping/2015/05/outdoor-photography-tips/">Outdoor photography tips to help you take shots like a pro</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/caravan-camping/2015/03/bush-damper-recipe/">How to make bush damper</a></strong></em></span></p>

Domestic Travel

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Long-married couples said not to know each other as well as newlyweds

<p>You would think decades of marriage together would give older couples plenty of time to get to know each other but an interesting new study suggests otherwise, finding that couples who have been together for decades are worse at predicting what their partner likes than newlyweds.</p> <p>The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, tested young couples, aged from 19 to 32, who had been together for an average of two years and older couples, aged from 62 to 78, who had been together for at least 40 years. Each of the 116 participants was presented with a series of descriptions (of foods, movies, house designs and so on) and asked to rate his or her preference and predict how their partner would rate the item. They were also asked to estimate how many of their predictions were correct.</p> <p>And well, overall, we’re not great at knowing what our significant other likes, even though we think we are. Young couples got 42 per cent of their predictions right and older couples only predicted 36 per cent of their partners’ preferences, when both couple groups overconfidently estimated they would get 62 per cent of answers right.</p> <p>“This is surprising because, compared to younger couples, older couples had much more time and opportunities to learn about each other's preferences over the course of their relationship,” the team of psychologist wrote.</p> <p>They suggested that younger couples may be more motivated to understand their partners during the early stages of a relationship.</p> <p>“Another reason could be that older couples pay less attention to each other, because they view their relationship as already firmly committed or because they think they already know their partner well,” said one of the researchers, Dr Benjamin Scheibehenne of the University of Basel.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Relationships

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Divorce led me to my true love

<p><em><strong>Over60 community member, Mary Green, 63, shares her story about how when her marriage suddenly ended after 44 years she found that it was a blessing in disguise.</strong></em></p> <p>"On the Easter weekend of 2012 I was dumped by my husband of 44 years! After a small disagreement I had gone to our holiday flat on a remote golf course outside Melbourne to work on a book fast approaching its publishing deadline. When I messaged that I would be back on Tuesday, he replied by SMS that he had changed the locks.</p> <p>I was incredulous. Marriage is often not easy, but I was about to find out just how tough I was. For the next two months I travelled gypsy style between the golf flat and the tiny new South Yarra studio my second of three sons had just moved into. I have not been inside our family home since.</p> <p>This was the situation I was in when I decided to date. At 63 I just started again. I joined three online dating sites and did not waste time. I booked to meet seven men in the next seven days, apparently breaking all the rules of being cautious and discreet. All seven men were polite and interesting. We had a coffee or met in a wine bar and I had fun, but there was no chemistry. I was just happy being free from my husband.</p> <p>During this time my husband sent my belonging to me on a truck (which I paid for) and when I was sorting through the boxes of files, a page caught my eye. It was the minutes of the golf estate owner’s corporation, and out jumped the name of a man that I had been at school with. Our sisters were best friends in those days. I checked Facebook, and there he was, with three children, seven grandchildren – but I couldn’t see a wife. A bit of messaging banter later, I asked him to ring me.</p> <p>We met up for a drink that turned into dinner and a hug that I will never forget. In my eyes he was still the handsome sporting hero that I had beaten in the high school mixed doubles tennis finals. He was not looking to date. I hoped he would just give me some lessons in online dating. He had been divorced for about 15 years and had two very long relationships with women that he had met on dating sites. He told me that my booking of seven men in seven days was breaking the rules, but also admitted that he had stacked his dates, just hours apart, in order to meet them all. By Christmas 2012 we were a couple in love.</p> <p>It’s been nearly two years since that first date and I am grateful for the internet and the coincidence that we both owned property on the same golfing estate. He plays A Grade, and I try. We are similar in so many other ways that it’s quite spooky sometimes. Our families have embraced each other and the joy of just knowing he is there helps me immensely through what has been a difficult time.</p> <p>Having worked as a support in my ex-husband’s career, and suddenly having to pay bills without a job of my own, led me to Centrelink. They said that I was too old to retrain at no cost, unless I wanted to study Aged Care – something rather peculiar in that thinking, a subsidised course in bookwork software would be more useful and help me save on accountant’s fees. In the meantime I’m setting up my own Facebook blog, called Healthy Ageing. If I can find a good man on the internet, I am optimistic about building a good lifestyle on it too."</p> <p><em>*Names have been changed</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Relationships

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How to leave a legacy to look after those you love

<p dir="ltr"><em>It can be difficult getting on top of your own finances, and knowing how to prepare for the transition to the next generation, but with these tips from financial expert Jacqui Clarke, it has never been easier to manage your money, “so it doesn’t manage you”. </em></p> <p dir="ltr">Leaving a legacy involves more than just material wealth. It encompasses the values, memories, and support you provide to your loved ones even after you're gone. A legacy is the enduring impact and influence you leave behind, shaping the lives of others and the world around them. To be honest, in the context of family and looking after those that you love, it’s something that’s being created from the moment your children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews are born. Legacy can simply be the way you do things and ensuring your descendants know this. For others it might be a lifelong passion project that you want to continue supporting after your lifetime.</p> <p dir="ltr">To ensure your way, your wishes and your wealth are successfully transitioned to the next generation and create an enduring legacy there are 3 crucial steps to consider. Let’s delve into the significance of these elements and explore practical steps you can take to leave a lasting legacy that will benefit those you care about the most.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Understanding Estate Planning </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Estate planning is the process of organising and distributing your assets after you pass away. It allows you to have control over who receives your property and ensures your wishes are carried out effectively. By engaging in estate planning, you not only protect your loved ones from potential legal disputes and unnecessary financial burdens but also provide them with a clear roadmap for the future.</p> <p dir="ltr">Start by taking inventory of your assets, including your savings, investments, real estate, and personal belongings. Next, consult with a qualified estate planning lawyer who can guide you through the creation of essential documents such as wills, power of attorney and possibly testamentary trusts. These legal instruments will help safeguard your assets, minimise tax liabilities, and ensure that your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes, forming a solid foundation for your lasting legacy.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Communicating Your Intentions </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Effective communication is essential when it comes to leaving a legacy. Clearly expressing your intentions and discussing your estate plan with your loved ones can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts down the line. Initiate an open and honest conversation about your plans, and explain the reasons behind your decisions. This will help your family understand your intentions and provide them with peace of mind during a potentially challenging time.</p> <p dir="ltr">While discussing your estate plan, it's vital to listen to your loved ones' concerns and consider their perspectives. Encourage dialogue and address any questions or uncertainties they may have. Engaging in these conversations demonstrates respect for their opinions and fosters a collaborative approach to legacy planning.</p> <p dir="ltr">By effectively communicating your intentions, you lay the groundwork for a legacy that encompasses not only financial assets but also the values, memories, and guidance you wish to pass on to future generations.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Incorporating Non-Financial Aspects </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Leaving a legacy isn't limited to financial matters and serious hiccups can occur if you miss this one. Consider the non-financial aspects that make up your legacy, such as your values, traditions, and life lessons. Take the time to document your family history, personal anecdotes, and insights that can guide future generations. This could be in the form of a written memoir, video recordings, or audio messages. As an example, my parents loved touring Australia, so I asked them to provide me with all their road trip planning documents, another example are collating the recipes from my grandmother and wanting to ensure these weren’t lost.  </p> <p dir="ltr">Family gatherings are a brilliant opportunity to promote a sense of openness about your planning. It’s a good time to chat about family heirlooms and meaningful possessions with your family members, not just your sentimental items but asking them if you hold something that carries sentimental value to them. You might be surprised by the reaction you get. Seemingly everyday “things” may serve as a special reminder of your love and the unique bonds you share.</p> <p dir="ltr">Your legacy encompasses not only the tangible assets you leave behind but also the intangible gifts of wisdom, love, and values that shape the lives of your loved ones. By incorporating these non-financial aspects into your estate plan and actively transmitting them, you ensure that your legacy extends beyond material possessions and leaves a profound impact on those you cherish.</p> <p dir="ltr">Leaving a legacy is about more than just divvying up your net worth. Through estate planning, effective communication, and the incorporation of non-financial aspects, you can shape the future and ensure that your loved ones are well taken care of. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Jacqui Clarke FCA, FTI, GAICD, JP, author of <em>Stop Worrying About Money </em>(Wiley, $29.95), is a trusted advisor, board member, executor and veteran business executive. </strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>As a personal wealth and money management expert and over three decades of experience, 25 years at Deloitte and PWC helping high-net-worth families, individuals and business owners to build, manage and preserve their wealth. Her message is simple: with careful planning and effort, you can manage your money, so it doesn’t manage you.<a href="https://www.jacquiclarke.me/"> https://www.jacquiclarke.me/</a></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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