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New York City mocked for only just discovering wheelie bins

<p>New York City has been trolled online after discovering wheelie bins for the first time. </p> <p>In order to tackle the "trash revolution", the mayor of NYC Eric Adams announced that wheelie bins will be introduced city wide, instead of the current system which is just leaving rubbish bags on the street.</p> <p>Despite the introduction of wheelie bins being a great solution for the city's trash and rodent problem, many were shocked to learn that the receptacles don't already exist there. </p> <p>Introducing the roll out, Mayor Adams began his press conference rolling in a bin and proudly demonstrating how to use it before celebrating with colleagues.</p> <p>He said “many people thought it was impossible” that these wheelie bins were going to be part of the city’s “trash revolution”.</p> <p>“We all have one unified dislike, and those are those pesky New York City rats,” Mr Adams said.</p> <p>“They’re getting more and more bold. They no longer run from you. They just hang out and just do what they want. We want to make sure we change that in a real way.”</p> <p>NYC department of sanitation commissioner Jessica Tisch described the official NYC bin as a “beautiful, rat-fighting piece of engineering” to conquer the estimated three million rats that dominate the streets. </p> <p>The wheelie bin announcement, which was intended to impress New Yorkers, has also gone global – with Europeans and Australians baffled by concept of wheelie bins being new.</p> <p>“Oh my word! Are they seriously showing their constituents how to use a trash can?” wrote one person.</p> <p>“Huh, they don’t have wheelie bins? What century do they live in?” said a second.</p> <p>“How the hell is this revolutionary??” agreed another.</p> <p>“So they finally figured out putting your trash in piles on the sidewalk is not a good idea,” mocked someone else.</p> <p><em>Image credits: X (Twitter) </em></p>

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Plastic Free July is a waste of time if the onus is only on consumers

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bhavna-middha-1061611">Bhavna Middha</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ralph-horne-160543">Ralph Horne</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>Every year, the <a href="https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/">Plastic Free July</a> campaign asks us to refuse single-use plastic. The idea is that making a small change in our daily lives will collectively make a big difference. And hopefully, better behaviour will stick and become a habit.</p> <p>The intent is good, but consumers shouldn’t have to bear full responsibility for plastic pollution. Individual sacrifices – particularly temporary ones – <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301421509004728">won’t make a significant difference</a>.</p> <p>Governments, manufacturers and retailers need to get serious about tackling this problem. If Plastic Free July put pressure on the supply side of the equation, rather than demand, it could be more successful.</p> <p>Our research spans food packaging including plastics, waste, sustainable consumption and social practices. We know consumer demand is only one part of the picture. Eliminating plastic waste requires broader systemic changes.</p> <h2>The cabbage dilemma</h2> <p>Research shows consumers generally want to do the <a href="https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/news/news-articles/the-conversation-on-sustainability-has-changed">right thing by the environment</a> but find it <a href="https://theconversation.com/households-find-low-waste-living-challenging-heres-what-needs-to-change-197022">challenging</a>.</p> <p>Coming out of a supermarket with no packaging is difficult. There are few unpackaged food items and even when there is a choice, the unpackaged item may be more <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/want-your-fruit-and-veg-without-the-plastic-you-ll-have-to-pay-more-20231107-p5eib4.html">expensive</a>.</p> <p>Have you ever been stuck in the supermarket, choosing between the large head of cabbage you know you won’t finish before it goes bad, or the plastic-wrapped half-cabbage you really need?</p> <p>Consumers should not be forced to choose between food waste (another huge problem) or plastic waste. Maybe there’s another way. For example, why not sell cabbages of different sizes? Why do we need to grow such large heads of cabbage anyway?</p> <p>Both plastic consumption and food waste can be addressed by changing how we produce and distribute certain foods.</p> <h2>Governments, manufacturers and retailers must drive change</h2> <p>The onus for reducing plastic consumption and waste should be placed firmly on those who make plastic and profit from selling their products, as well as those who make and sell products wrapped in plastic packaging.</p> <p>Research has shown just <a href="https://www.csiro.au/en/news/All/News/2024/April/Global-study-finds-more-than-half-of-branded-plastic-pollution-linked-to-56-companies?utm_source=pocket_shared">56 companies</a> globally are responsible for more than half of the branded plastic pollution that ends up in the environment.</p> <p>Companies profit from using plastics because it is cheaper to use than changing to alternatives, such as cardboard or compostable materials, or using less packaging. This means companies choosing to avoid using plastics face unfair competition.</p> <p>It’s a tough habit to kick. Industry-led <a href="https://productstewardship.us/what-is-epr/#:%7E:text=Stewardship%20can%20be%20either%20voluntary,product%20stewardship%20required%20by%20law">voluntary schemes</a> are <a href="https://www.insidewaste.com.au/91038-2-product-stewardship-schemes/">limited in terms of both participation and outcomes</a>. Many companies are failing to meet their own <a href="https://www.asyousow.org/report-page/2024-plastic-promises-scorecard">plastic reduction goals</a>.</p> <p>Governments need to step in and force companies to take responsibility for the plastic and packaging they manufacture. In practice, this could involve similar schemes to the container deposit scheme for beverage containers, or returning plastics to stores.</p> <p>Replacing voluntary schemes with mandatory regulations and increased producer responsibility means companies will have to <a href="https://www.insidewaste.com.au/91038-2-product-stewardship-schemes/">invest in long-term changes designed with care</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UnXVU-06ciI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=1" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">What’s Plastic Free July?</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Cities are built around plastic</h2> <p>Our previous research has shown plastic performs an essential role in some, <a href="https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/geoj.12457">constrained circumstances</a>. We found vulnerable householders often rely on plastic to make life manageable, such as using plastics to cover belongings on the balcony, or using plastic cutlery and plates in student apartments with minimal kitchen space. This includes people with accessibility needs, people relying on public transport to shop for groceries, or people who are financially constrained or living in small high-rise <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-cant-keep-putting-apartment-residents-waste-in-the-too-hard-basket-200545">apartments</a>.</p> <p>Unsustainable lifestyles are not so much a choice as a product of poorly planned cities, housing and regulations. It is all very well if you are mobile and well-located, but if you live in a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-08/food-deserts-have-serious-consequences-for-residents-experts/6605230">poorly serviced</a> distant suburb and <a href="https://www.unsw.edu.au/newsroom/news/2023/01/are-you-living-in-a-food-desert--these-maps-suggest-it-can-reall">transport groceries or takeaway food</a> or buy things on the go, then plastic is perhaps the only current affordable way to make it work.</p> <p>So campaigns and solutions that do not consider how <a href="https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/geoj.12457">everyday lives and economy</a> are intertwined with plastics can <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s42949-024-00149-w">exclude people and spaces</a> who can’t access the alternatives.</p> <p>For example, there are ways to make <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1745-5871.12464">convenience eating more sustainable</a> in education settings. We have shown how <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1745-5871.12390">canteens and microwaves</a> in shared spaces can enable people to access affordable food with their friends, as in <a href="https://www.charlesabroad.cz/post/german-university-canteens-why-do-they-beat-the-czech-ones">University Mensa in Germany</a>.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://cur.org.au/project/tackling-food-related-single-use-plastics-in-diverse-consumption-contexts/">new research</a> will explore how single-use food-related plastics and packaging form an integral part of our daily lives, including shopping, work, cooking and storage.</p> <p>Sometimes new policies inadvertently disadvantage certain groups and communities, such as the aged, less mobile, people living in apartments, or low socio-economic groups. Before we roll out new policies and regulations, we need to understand the roles these materials play and the kinds of services and value they provide.</p> <p>We aim to develop a framework to inform policies and strategies that enable a just and inclusive transition to reduced plastic use.</p> <h2>What about after July?</h2> <p>Plastic Free July and similar campaigns are based on idea that making a temporary change will lead to more permanent lifestyle changes. But research shows temporary shifts are <a href="http://www.demand.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DEMAND2016_Full_paper_42-Shove.pdf">very different</a> to <a href="https://pure.manchester.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/32468813/FULL_TEXT.PDF">structural, permanent shifts</a> in <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781315816494-1/introduction-social-practices-intervention-sustainability-beyond-behaviour-change-yolande-strengers-cecily-maller?context=ubx&amp;refId=d608abad-39f9-4bb2-8754-56e9e2000c5e">practices</a>.</p> <p>Supermarkets will still wrap items in plastic and sell single-use plastic, even if we try to buy less during Plastic Free July.</p> <p>Ultimately, the focus should be on designing effective infrastructure and policy solutions for lasting results, considering how demand for plastic is produced in the first place.</p> <p>Some of these changes will require a shift in community expectations and food culture.</p> <p>Rather than pointing the finger at consumers, let’s get to work on redesigning our cities. We need to rethink how everyday practices, manufacturing and distribution systems are structured to eliminate plastic waste.<!-- 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/233436/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/bhavna-middha-1061611">Bhavna Middha</a>, ARC DECRA and Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Urban Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ralph-horne-160543">Ralph Horne</a>, Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research &amp; Innovation, College of Design &amp; Social Context, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</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/plastic-free-july-is-a-waste-of-time-if-the-onus-is-only-on-consumers-233436">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Only walking for exercise? Here’s how to get the most out of it

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ken-nosaka-169021">Ken Nosaka</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>We’re living longer than in previous generations, with <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australians/contents/demographic-profile">one in eight</a> elderly Australians now aged over 85. But the current <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26561272/">gap</a> between life expectancy (“lifespan”) and health-adjusted life expectancy (“healthspan”) is about ten years. This means many of us live with significant health problems in our later years.</p> <p>To increase our healthspan, we need planned, structured and regular physical activity (or exercise). The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">World Health Organization recommends</a> 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise – such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming – per week and muscle strengthening twice a week.</p> <p>Yet few of us meet these recommendations. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-019-0797-2">Only 10%</a> meet the strength-training recommendations. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32488898/">Lack of time</a> is one of the most common reasons.</p> <p>Walking is cost-effective, doesn’t require any special equipment or training, and can be done with small pockets of time. <a href="https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s00421-024-05453-y?sharing_token=1vDsDJTN5WzPxi5YmSEkOfe4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY5hnPeFvF3FY4v2z1P9M2M0oiR78kXv1Yzj0ODMgckqhKOGHUABEd9UOPOfV5kPAj1jf1IYMIYkdIBv-DUEcKCOiDdNyj6MFypeDhSyeYQrWu_bvlAYtPUmOSaldFpmycA%3D">Our preliminary research</a>, published this week, shows there are ways to incorporate strength-training components into walking to improve your muscle strength and balance.</p> <h2>Why walking isn’t usually enough</h2> <p>Regular walking <a href="http://theconversation.com/health-check-in-terms-of-exercise-is-walking-enough-78604">does not appear</a> to work as muscle-strengthening exercise.</p> <p>In contrast, exercises consisting of “eccentric” or muscle-lengthening contractions <a href="http://theconversation.com/its-ok-to-aim%20lower-with-your-new-years-exercise-resolutions-a-few-minutes-a-day-can-improve-your-muscle-strength-193713">improve</a> muscle strength, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31130877/">prevent muscle wasting</a> and improve other functions such as balance and flexibility.</p> <p>Typical eccentric contractions are seen, for example, when we sit on a chair slowly. The front thigh muscles lengthen with force generation.</p> <h2>Our research</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31055678/">previous research</a> found body-weight-based eccentric exercise training, such as sitting down on a chair slowly, improved lower limb muscle strength and balance in healthy older adults.</p> <p>We also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28291022/">showed</a> walking down stairs, with the front thigh muscles undergoing eccentric contractions, increased leg muscle strength and balance in older women more than walking up stairs. When climbing stairs, the front thigh muscles undergo “concentric” contractions, with the muscles shortening.</p> <p>It can be difficult to find stairs or slopes suitable for eccentric exercises. But if they could be incorporated into daily walking, lower limb muscle strength and balance function could be improved.</p> <p>This is where the idea of “eccentric walking” comes into play. This means inserting lunges in conventional walking, in addition to downstairs and downhill walking.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wAI7z3XdY9o?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Eccentric walking means incorporating deep lunges into your movement.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>In our <a href="https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s00421-024-05453-y?sharing_token=1vDsDJTN5WzPxi5YmSEkOfe4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY5hnPeFvF3FY4v2z1P9M2M0oiR78kXv1Yzj0ODMgckqhKOGHUABEd9UOPOfV5kPAj1jf1IYMIYkdIBv-DUEcKCOiDdNyj6MFypeDhSyeYQrWu_bvlAYtPUmOSaldFpmycA%3D">new research</a>, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, we investigated the effects of eccentric walking on lower limb muscle strength and balance in 11 regular walkers aged 54 to 88 years.</p> <p>The intervention period was 12 weeks. It consisted of four weeks of normal walking followed by eight weeks of eccentric walking.</p> <p>The number of eccentric steps in the eccentric walking period gradually increased over eight weeks from 100 to 1,000 steps (including lunges, downhill and downstairs steps). Participants took a total of 3,900 eccentric steps over the eight-week eccentric walking period while the total number of steps was the same as the previous four weeks.</p> <p>We measured the thickness of the participants’ front thigh muscles, muscle strength in their knee, their balance and endurance, including how many times they could go from a sitting position to standing in 30 seconds without using their arms. We took these measurements before the study started, at four weeks, after the conventional walking period, and at four and eight weeks into the eccentric walking period.</p> <p>We also tested their cognitive function using a digit symbol-substitution test at the same time points of other tests. And we asked participants to complete a questionnaire relating to their activities of daily living, such as dressing and moving around at home.</p> <p>Finally, we tested participants’ blood sugar, cholesterol levels and complement component 1q (C1q) concentrations, a potential <a href="https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1096/fj.14-262154">marker of sarcopenia</a> (muscle wasting with ageing).</p> <h2>What did we find?</h2> <p>We found no significant changes in any of the outcomes in the first four weeks when participants walked conventionally.</p> <p>From week four to 12, we found significant improvements in muscle strength (19%), chair-stand ability (24%), balance (45%) and a cognitive function test (21%).</p> <p>Serum C1q concentration decreased by 10% after the eccentric walking intervention, indicating participants’ muscles were effectively stimulated.</p> <p>The sample size of the study was small, so we need larger and more comprehensive studies to verify our findings and investigate whether eccentric walking is effective for sedentary people, older people, how the different types of eccentric exercise compare and the potential cognitive and mental health benefits.</p> <p>But, in the meantime, “eccentric walking” appears to be a beneficial exercise that will extend your healthspan. It may look a bit eccentric if we insert lunges while walking on the street, but the more people do it and benefit from it, the less eccentric it will become. <!-- 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/224159/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/ken-nosaka-169021">Ken Nosaka</a>, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</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/only-walking-for-exercise-heres-how-to-get-the-most-out-of-it-224159">original article</a>.</em></p>

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“Entitled” bride unleashes after only seven people RSVP to her wedding

<p dir="ltr">A furious bride has been slammed online after unleashing on a lengthy tirade, calling out her friends and family who aren’t attending her wedding. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sara took to Facebook to share the extensive rant about her upcoming nuptials, after only seven people RSVP’d to the big day. </p> <p dir="ltr">The American bride-to-be called out those she invited to her destination wedding, saying they showed how little they “really” cared about her and her fiancé.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When we invited our friends and family to our destination wedding in Thailand, only nine people RSVP'd. Out of 150!!! OK, I get it, paying $3,000 to share my special day is too much for some of you. I'd pay for yours, but whatever,” she wrote. </p> <p dir="ltr">“But then, when we changed the wedding to be in Hawaii, so it's within everyone's reach, only seven of you RSVP'd? It costs less but less if you want to come? Is that what you think of me? You can't spare $2,000 to come and share our happiness?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Sara said that she was willing to take drastic measures to make up for the disrespect she'd been shown by her loved ones. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I'm tempted to just elope and not let any of you be part of our happiest day. This is it guys, you have three days to respond to our e-vites or we're deleting you off Facebook and good luck keeping up with our lives then.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“And don't get me started on the registry - only the cheap stuff is gone, I swear I thought I had better friends.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“[My fiancé] and I are asking you to reconsider.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Sara’s unhinged rant was quickly shared to a Facebook group dedicated to shaming people’s wedding choices, where it garnered hundreds of comments slamming the bride. </p> <p dir="ltr">“People who get married abroad have chosen not to have guests at their wedding,” one person said.  </p> <p dir="ltr">“Does she not understand people have jobs and kids or just simply don't want to spend thousands on someone else's wedding?” another asked. </p> <p dir="ltr">“If I was her friend I’d save her a job and unfriend myself after reading that,” a third person admitted.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Mortgage and inflation pain to ease, but only slowly: how 31 top economists see 2024

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>A panel of 31 leading economists assembled by The Conversation sees no cut in interest rates before the middle of this year, and only a slight cut by December, enough to trim just $55 per month off the cost of servicing a $600,000 variable-rate mortgage.</p> <p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/au/topics/conversation-economic-survey-81354">panel</a> draws on the expertise of leading forecasters at 28 Australian universities, think tanks and financial institutions – among them economic modellers, former Treasury, International Monetary Fund and Reserve Bank officials, and a former member of the Reserve Bank board.</p> <p>Its forecasts paint a picture of weak economic growth, stagnant consumer spending, and a continuing per-capita recession.</p> <p>The average forecast is for the Reserve Bank to delay cutting its cash rate, keeping it near its present 4.35% until at least the middle of the year, and then cutting it to <a href="https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/3028/The_Conversation_AU_February_2024_Economic_Survey.pdf">4.2%</a> by December 2024, 3.6% by December 2025 and 3.4% by December 2026.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="xV821" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/xV821/4/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>The gentle descent would deliver only three interest rate cuts by the end of next year, cutting $274 from the monthly cost of servicing a $600,000 mortgage and leaving the cost around $1,100 higher than it was before rates began climbing.</p> <p>Six of the experts surveyed expect the Reserve Bank to increase rates further in the first half of the year, while 20 expect no change and three expect a cut.</p> <p>Former head of the NSW treasury Percy Allan said while the Reserve Bank would push up rates in the first half of the year to make sure inflation comes down, it would be forced to relent in the second half of the year as unemployment grows and the economy heads towards recession.</p> <p>Warwick McKibbin, a former member of the Reserve Bank board, said the board would push up rates once more in the first half of the year as insurance against inflation before leaving them on hold.</p> <p>Former Reserve Bank of Australia chief economist Luci Ellis, who is now chief economist at Westpac, expects the first cut no sooner than September, believing the board will wait to see clear evidence of further falls in inflation and economic weakening before it moves.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="ZQgno" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/ZQgno/7/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>Inflation to keep falling, but more gradually</h2> <p>Today’s <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/">Reserve Bank board meeting</a> will consider an inflation rate that has come down <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-7-new-graphs-that-show-inflation-falling-back-to-earth-220670">faster than it expected</a>, diving from 7.8% to 4.1% in the space of a year.</p> <p>The newer more experimental monthly measure of inflation was just <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-7-new-graphs-that-show-inflation-falling-back-to-earth-220670">3.4%</a> in the year to December, only points away from the Reserve Bank’s target of 2–3%.</p> <p>But the panel expects the descent to slow from here on, with the standard measure taking the rest of the year to fall from 4.1% to 3.5% and not getting below 3% until <a href="https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/3027/The_Conversation_AU_2024_economic_survey.pdf">late 2025</a>.</p> <p>Economists Chris Richardson and Saul Eslake say while inflation will keep heading down, the decline might be slowed by supply chain pressures from the conflict in the Middle East and the boost to incomes from the <a href="https://theconversation.com/albanese-tax-plan-will-give-average-earner-1500-tax-cut-more-than-double-morrisons-stage-3-221875">tax cuts</a> due in July.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="buC9f" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/buC9f/6/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>Slower wage growth, higher unemployment</h2> <p>While the panel expects wages to grow faster than the consumer price index, it expects wages growth to slip from around <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/wage-price-index-australia/latest-release">4%</a> in 2023 to 3.8% in 2004 and 3.4% in 2025 as higher unemployment blunts workers’ bargaining power.</p> <p>But the panel doesn’t expect much of an increase in unemployment. It expects the unemployment rate to climb from its present <a href="https://www.datawrapper.de/_/w9h9f/">3.9%</a> (which is almost a long-term low) to 4.3% throughout 2024, and then to stay at about that level through 2025.</p> <p>All but two of the panel expect the unemployment rate to remain below the range of 5–6% that was typical in the decade before COVID.</p> <p>Economic modeller Janine Dixon said the “new normal” between 4% and 5% was likely to become permanent as workers embraced flexible arrangements that allow them to stay in jobs in a way they couldn’t before.</p> <p>Cassandra Winzar, chief economist at the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, said the government’s commitment to full employment was one of the things likely to keep unemployment low, along with Australia’s demographic transition as older workers leave the workforce.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="pAioo" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/pAioo/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>Slower economic growth, per-capita recession</h2> <p>The panel expects very low economic growth of just 1.7% in 2024, climbing to 2.3% in 2025. Both are well below the 2.75% the treasury believes the economy is <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/speech/the-economic-and-fiscal-context-and-the-role-of-longitudinal-data-in-policy-advice">capable of</a>.</p> <p>All but one of the forecasts are for economic growth below the present population growth rate of 2.4%, suggesting that the panel expects population growth to exceed economic growth for the second year running, extending Australia’s so-called <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-in-a-per-capita-recession-as-chalmers-says-gdp-steady-in-the-face-of-pressure-212642">per capita recession</a>.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="TO8bP" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/TO8bP/4/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>The lacklustre forecasts raise the possibility of what is commonly defined as a “technical recession”, which is two consecutive quarters of negative economic somewhere within a year of mediocre growth.</p> <p>Taken together, the forecasters assign a 20% probability to such a recession in the next two years, which is lower than in <a href="https://theconversation.com/two-more-rba-rate-hikes-tumbling-inflation-and-a-high-chance-of-recession-how-our-forecasting-panel-sees-2023-24-208477">previous surveys</a>.</p> <p>But some of the individual estimates are high. Percy Allen and Stephen Anthony assign a 75% and 70% chance to such a recession, and Warren Hogan a 50% chance.</p> <p>Hogan said when the economic growth figures for the present quarter get released, they are likely to show Australia is in such a recession at the moment.</p> <p>The economy barely grew at all in the September quarter, expanding just <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/national-accounts/australian-national-accounts-national-income-expenditure-and-product/latest-release">0.2%</a> and was likely to have shrunk in the December quarter and to shrink further in this quarter.</p> <p>The panel expects the US economy to grow by 2.1% in the year ahead in line with the <a href="https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2024/01/30/world-economic-outlook-update-january-2024">International Monetary Fund</a> forecast, and China’s economy to grow 5.4%, which is lower than the International Monetary Fund’s forecast.</p> <h2>Weaker spending, weak investment</h2> <p>The panel expects weak real household spending growth of just 1.2% in 2014, supported by an ultra-low household saving ratio of close to zero, down from a recent peak of 19% in September 2021.</p> <p>Mala Raghavan of The University of Tasmania said previous gains in income, rising asset prices and accumulated savings were being overwhelmed by high inflation and rising interest rates.</p> <p>Luci Ellis expected the squeeze to continue until tax and interest rate cuts in the second half of the year, accompanied by declining inflation.</p> <p>The panel expects non-mining investment to grow by only 5.1% in the year ahead, down from 15%, and mining investment to grow by 10.2%, down from 22%.</p> <p>Johnathan McMenamin from Barrenjoey said private and public investment had been responsible for the lion’s share of economic growth over the past year and was set to plateau and fade as a driver of growth.</p> <h2>Home prices to climb, but more slowly</h2> <p>The panel expects home price growth of 4.6% in Sydney during 2024 (down from 11.4% in 2024) and 3.1% in Melbourne, down from 3.9% in 2024.</p> <p>ANZ economist Adam Boyton said decade-low building approvals and very strong population growth should keep demand for housing high, outweighing a drag on prices from high interest rates. While high interest rates have been restraining demand, they are likely to ease later in the year.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="syk8x" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/syk8x/6/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>In other forecasts, the panel expects the Australian dollar to stay below US$0.70, closing the year at US$0.69, it expects the ASX 200 share market index to climb just 3% in 2024 after climbing 7.8% in 2023, and it expects a small budget surplus of A$3.8 billion in 2023-24, followed by a deficit of A$13 billion in 2024-25.</p> <p>The budget surplus should be supported by a forecast iron ore price of US$114 per tonne in December 2024, down from the present US$130, but well up on the <a href="https://budget.gov.au/content/myefo/index.htm">US$105</a> assumed in the government’s December budget update.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709"><em>Peter Martin</em></a><em>, Visiting Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</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/mortgage-and-inflation-pain-to-ease-but-only-slowly-how-31-top-economists-see-2024-218927">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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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>

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Autistic boy wins national golf title after only THREE games

<p>In a heartwarming tale that's sure to make your day, a spirited 12-year-old schoolboy from a charming rural town nestled in the Bay of Plenty has ignited pure joy in New Zealand's golfing community – in a story that will warm your heart and put a smile on your face.</p> <p>Meet Bayleigh Teepa-Tarau, the newest sensation in the world of golf, hailing from the picturesque township of Tāneatua, a place so small it doesn't even have its own golf course. But that didn't deter this young prodigy as he set out to conquer the national Zespri AIMS Games held in the vibrant city of Tauranga.</p> <p>The Zespri AIMS Games is one of Australasia’s largest junior sporting events, held annually in Tauranga Moana. Celebrating diversity, the Games provides an opportunity for adolescents from all demographics and education contexts to compete in sporting competitions, to meet others from outside their normal peer group, and to learn and build on their social interaction skills. The Zespri AIMS Games is highly regarded by national education and sporting organisations and is considered a leader in its area.</p> <p>Now, here's the twist that's sure to make you leap with excitement: Bayleigh had played a grand total of just <em>three rounds of golf</em> in his entire life before this tournament! It's almost like a golfing fairytale in the making. Armed with borrowed clubs, a pair of basketball boots and a big beaming smile, our tee-master extraordinaire embarked on his golfing journey, leaving everyone in awe.</p> <p>You might wonder how a newcomer to the game fares in such a prestigious competition. Well, let us tell you, Bayleigh was given a scoring handicap to reflect his beginner status. And did he rise to the occasion! With booming drives and precision iron shots, he amassed a staggering 87 Stableford points over his three nine-hole rounds. A true underdog story.</p> <p>But Bayleigh's triumph doesn't stop there. Alongside his schoolmates Pedro Robinson and Lincoln Reritito, he clinched the team title, earning well-deserved glory for Tāneatua School. They faced off against students from schools all over New Zealand and came out on top.</p> <p>When asked about his love for golf, Bayleigh's face lit up with joy as he exclaimed, "The thing I love about golf is hitting my driver. I dreamed about coming here and finishing in first place. And I had a lot of fun." </p> <p>Thanks to the incredible support system behind this young golfing sensation, Bayleigh's journey to the top wouldn't have been possible without the unwavering support of his family, including his dad Hemi Tarau and Pare Teepa, his grandfather, and nan. Their pride in Bayleigh's accomplishments is immeasurable.</p> <p>What's even more inspiring is that Bayleigh has autism, and his journey has been one of transformation. From spending most of his time in class under his desk, not speaking, to becoming a golfing superstar, it's a testament to his determination and the incredible power of sports to boost confidence and bring joy.</p> <p>And here's another heartwarming twist – Bayleigh's path to golf was paved by his school's teacher-aide, Whetu Wiremu. He noticed Bayleigh's fascination with swinging a stick and decided to introduce him to golf. Wiremu's dedication and passion for the game not only changed Bayleigh's life but also the lives of other young students from Tāneatua School.</p> <p>For Wiremu, it's not just about golf but also about instilling life skills and values. He believes that golf, with its unique blend of competition and camaraderie, can offer these kids opportunities beyond their community, transcending boundaries and challenges.</p> <p>As for Bayleigh's future, he's setting his sights on competing in the Special Olympics. With a heart full of determination and a community that believes in him, there's no telling what incredible heights he'll reach. To that end, a <a href="https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/backing-bayleigh" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Give A Little</a> fundraising account has been established to help support this inspiring youngster and help him on his way. </p> <p>In the end, Bayleigh's story reminds us all that joy, determination and unwavering support can overcome any obstacle. It's a testament to the power of dreams, the magic of sports, and the beauty of small communities coming together to celebrate their rising stars.</p> <p><em>Images: </em><em>Jamie Troughton / Dscribe Media</em></p>

Family & Pets

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“Only an Irwin!”: Bindi’s latest update on Grace stuns fans

<p dir="ltr">The Wildlife Warrior cannot hide her pride in the latest update showing just how well Grace is following the family’s nature-loving footsteps.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bindi Irwin took to Instagram to share a video of Grace exploring a beach in Australia as the proud parents watched on.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Winter #Beachday” she captioned the photo.</p> <p dir="ltr">There was one tiny detail in the video that caught everyone’s attention, and it was the moment Grace said "Like a plesiosaur” as she walked through the water.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bindi echoed her daughter’s statement, and fans were stunned at the two-year-old’s knowledge of animals.</p> <p dir="ltr">Plesiosaurs are aquatic reptiles which were common during the Jurassic period and went extinct around 66 million years ago.</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/CuiUsdWhOAi/?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/CuiUsdWhOAi/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Many fans were impressed that the two-year-old knew about the Plesiosaurs existence, while others were stunned at her articulation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“How many two-year-olds know about plesiosaurs or even how to say that word, only an Irwin!!” wrote one fan.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I don’t even know what it is!” one fan commented to which another one added: “Same 😂🤣I was like a please?..”</p> <p dir="ltr">“That’s very impressive, you’re raising her to appreciate nature and every living thing on the planet 🌎 even the species that don’t exist anymore aww 🥰,” commented another.</p> <p dir="ltr">A few others commented on the “magical” view and how proud the late Steve Irwin would be of his granddaughter.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You know Grampa Steve is looking down on you with a happy smile on his face,” one commented.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So sweet your Dad is beaming from above,” wrote another.</p> <p dir="ltr">Just last month Bindi posted an adorable <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/irwin-genes-are-strong-bindi-shares-adorable-candid-snap" target="_blank" rel="noopener">candid snap</a> of her daughter cuddling a giant tortoise, and Grace’s love for animals only seems to grow.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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John Legend welcomes new baby only FIVE MONTHS after last one

<p dir="ltr">Chrissy Teigan and John Legend have announced the birth of their fourth baby, a son named Wren Alexander Stevens, who was born via a surrogate.</p> <p dir="ltr">The couple shocked fans with the surprise announcement since their third baby, a daughter named Esti, was born just five months before Wren.</p> <p dir="ltr">John posted a sweet family pic with the caption: “Wren Alexander Stephens, our new love.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The newborn’s middle name was inspired by his surrogate mum, Alexandra.</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/CuCuPVqpuMB/?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/CuCuPVqpuMB/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Chrissy also posted a lengthy Instagram update on their surrogacy process, and also mentioned her late son Jack.</p> <p dir="ltr">“For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted four children,” she began the post sharing that the desire has started from the time she was a little girl and would play pretend.</p> <p dir="ltr">“After losing Jack, I didn't think I'd be able to carry any more babies on my own.</p> <p dir="ltr">“To be honest, I've personally blocked out a lot of my mindset during that time, but one clear memory is being surrounded by people who wanted to make sure I wouldn't go through that pain and loss again,” she added about her late son Jack.</p> <p dir="ltr">Chrissy then proceeded to explain that she and John mutually agreed to give IVF another go, in hopes of making her dream of having four kids come true.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In 2021, we reached out to a surrogacy agency, with our first correspondence inquiring about perhaps having 2 tandem surrogates, to each bring us a healthy baby boy or girl.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“And so we restarted the IVF process, the same process that gave us our beautiful Luna and Miles. We made new embryos. We did my transfer, and were so happy to learn it worked - we were pregnant with our little girl, Esti.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She added that their IVF success coincided with the time they met Wren’s surrogate mum and shared the appreciation she had for Alexandra.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The first embryo we tried with Alex didn't survive, and I will never forget how hard she fought to get ready for a second transfer. How much she gave up of her own body - surgeries to get scar tissue cleared, the mental toll it takes to go through all of that for yourself, much less for other people,” she wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">And overtime, their patience paid off: “As we crept toward the safe zone of my own pregnancy, we were overjoyed to learn Alexandra had become pregnant with a little boy. Our little boy.”</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/CuCsL8bJ0pd/?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/CuCsL8bJ0pd/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Chrissy shared how overjoyed she was pregnant with her “best friend” and how grateful she was.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We want to say thank you for this incredible gift you have given us, Alexandra.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And we are so happy to tell the world he is here, with a name forever connected to you, Wren Alexander Stephens. Our hearts, and our home, are officially full. And to our Jack, we know both their angel kisses are from you,” she ended the post.</p> <p dir="ltr">The happy news comes almost two years after the celebrity couple lost their son Jack 20 weeks into Chrissy’s pregnancy.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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12 trusted home remedies that will only make you worse

<p><strong>Proceed with caution</strong></p> <p>Any herbal supplement or remedy could potentially cause liver or kidney failure or have dangerous interactions with other medications you may be taking. That’s why physician Dr Ehsan Ali, recommends you ask your doctor before popping any herbal pill or natural cure.</p> <p>“All patients of all ages should check with their doctor first about what home remedy they want to try,” says Dr Ali. “Better to be safe than sorry!”</p> <p><strong>St. John's Wort</strong></p> <p>This herb is touted as a treatment for depression, but comprehensive studies are lacking. Dangers can arise when patients are already taking other medications. There have been incidents of St. John’s Wort interfering with birth control pills, leading to unintended pregnancies.</p> <p>The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warns that St. John’s Wort can disrupt the action of many medications, including warfarin, antidepressants, and anti-rejection drugs following organ transplants.</p> <p><strong>Kava</strong></p> <p>This herb, grown on South Pacific islands is often suggested for anxiety. It has been found to have a calming effect similar to Valium. Research, including a study published in 2015 in the journal Trialssuggests that kava may be an effective treatment for generalised anxiety disorder.</p> <p>However, heavy consumption of the herb is linked with heart problems and eye irritation.</p> <p><strong>Kitchen cures for burns</strong></p> <p>Kitchen cures can seem harmless and certainly, food products can make gentle and effective beauty treatments (think: avocado or honey masks for skin and hair). But when someone has an injury or disease, natural products can do more harm than good.</p> <p>Dr Svetlana Kogan, a holistic physician, has heard many potentially dangerous cures for injuries, including applying egg whites to burns. Egg whites, especially organic ones, can be full of bacteria – including salmonella – which could lead to serious infections. Instead, minor burns can be treated at home with cool water and acetaminophen for pain.</p> <p><strong>Gargling with mouthwash</strong></p> <p>The common cold continues to confound doctors and there isn’t much sufferers can do except stay hydrated. But when the symptoms progress to an inflamed throat, indulging in the common practice of gargling with mouthwash can do more harm than good.</p> <p>“Gargling inflamed tonsils with mouthwash is actually very irritating to the area and does not have any effect on potential strep throat,” says Dr Kogan. Her recommendation for a sore throat? Warm liquids to soothe the inflamed area and get plenty of rest.</p> <p><strong>Money</strong></p> <p>The best use for money when it comes to your health is paying your medical bills. But some people use currency to try and cure ailments. For years, placing a coin or other hard, flat object on a baby’s belly to help heal an umbilical hernia has been a common practice in many cultures – a very unsafe practice: “An umbilical hernia is a gap in the layer of muscle in the abdominal wall (called the rectus abdominis muscle),” explains Dr Danelle Fisher, a paediatrician.</p> <p>“The muscle usually grows together and the hernia goes away on its own in more than 90 per cent of babies who are born with it. Having an object strapped to the baby’s belly is not advisable because it can cause a skin infection and it doesn’t change the hernia or hasten its healing.” (Not to mention that coins can be pretty dirty and are a choking hazard for your baby.) So what should you do if your baby has an umbilical hernia? Nothing, aside from watchful waiting and consulting with your child’s paediatrician.</p> <p><strong>Breast milk</strong></p> <p>Mother’s milk is the best possible natural food for babies. Although many mothers claim their milk clears up skin conditions, there’s no scientific proof of this, warns Dr Sarah Yamaguchi, an obstetrician and gynecologist. “Breast milk can transmit infectious diseases such as HIV and pumped breast milk if not stored properly can be contaminated and can actually introduce bacteria into an already infected area,” says Dr Yamaguchi.</p> <p>Instead, she advises, patients suffering from infections or inflamed skin should try to keep the area clean and dry and seek medical attention.</p> <p><strong>Castor oil</strong></p> <p>In her work as an obstetrician, Dr Yamaguchi has seen her fair share of women in the final stages of pregnancy who just cannot wait to have their baby. She has seen many women take castor oil believing it will jump-start labour.</p> <p>“Castor oil may help if you are constipated and need to pass a bowel movement, but it’s not going to help you go into labour and it tastes awful,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Syrup of Ipecac</strong></p> <p>This syrup, made from the roots of a South American plant, is often kept in the home by parents to act as a counter treatment for accidental poisoning, as it induces vomiting. However, this form of treatment is incredibly dangerous, warns Dr Fisher.</p> <p>Many poisons do further damage when they make their way out of the body, damaging the oesophagus and potentially causing breathing problems. Dr Fisher advises parents not to use syrup of ipecac at all. The only appropriate reaction to a child swallowing something poisonous, she says, is to call your local Poison Control immediately and seek medical treatment.</p> <p><strong>Charcoal</strong></p> <p>Some people believe that activated charcoal, often derived from coconut shells, is thought to trap and remove dangerous toxins from the body. It is often recommended for treating bloat and constipation. However, it is a controversial treatment.</p> <p>Dr Kogan has heard of patients swallowing activated charcoal for detoxification purposes, which she strongly discourages. “It is dangerous because it can cause life-threatening intestinal obstructions and severe dehydration,” she says. Eating well and drinking plenty of water can have similar, but safer, detoxification effects on the body.</p> <p><strong>Blowing on or licking a wound</strong></p> <p>Parents everywhere are known for spitting on a tissue and using it to clean their children’s faces and sometimes even to clean a wound. Blowing on or introducing saliva to a cut is very dangerous.</p> <p>“Our breath and saliva have tons of bacteria which can contaminate the wound and lead to an infection,” says Dr Kogan. Instead, use fresh water and consult a doctor if needed.</p> <p><strong>Vitamins</strong></p> <p>As long as you follow a healthy diet, you’ll get all the vitamins and minerals you need. That’s good because sliding into the habit of trying to make up supposed deficiencies with supplements can quickly lead to trouble, warns Dr Kogan.</p> <p>The danger comes when people ignore the recommended doses and take too much of a particular vitamin. Too much vitamin D, for instance, can cause liver and heart problems, while an overabundance of B6 can lead to nerve toxicity; a vitamin A overdose can even cause death in extreme cases.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/12-trusted-home-remedies-that-will-only-make-you-worse?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Body

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Over-55s the only group to receive Centrelink payment boost

<p>Older recipients of JobSeeker will receive a higher welfare payment as the federal budget is set to include an increase in payments for 227,000 Aussies.</p> <p>According to <em>7News</em>, the budget will include an increase in the base rate of the JobSeeker for people aged 55 and above.</p> <p>The change honours Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ promise that an increase “will be focused on the most vulnerable”.</p> <p>Finance Minister Katy Gallagher previously committed to a “significant improvement” in terms of the budget.</p> <p>When asked if the rate of JobSeeker would be lifted, Gallagher revealed the budget would contain “ongoing” investments to help people with cost-of-living pressures, in addition to one-off measures.</p> <p>“This budget will have a significant cost-of-living package and that cost-of-living package will be targeted to the most vulnerable Australians,” she said.</p> <p>About 227,000 Jobseeker recipients are 55 and over, which is the highest number of any age group and the group most likely to be unemployed long-term, meaning they are without a job for five years or more.</p> <p>The majority of people in this group are women.</p> <p>Senior sources reportedly told <em>7News</em> that the increase will be modest, not the $100-a-week advocates are hoping for but what the budget can afford.</p> <p>The change is unlikely to please Raise the Rate campaigners, who have called for the government to bring payments above the poverty line.</p> <p><em>7News </em>reported that the government will sell the moderate increase as a “responsible first step”, an increase that will help the most vulnerable of JobSeeker recipients and honours its election commitment to do what it can to help within the restraints of the budget.</p> <p>The pressure continues to pile up for the government to substantially increase income support payments above $49.50 a day for singles on JobSeeker and $40.20 a day for Youth Allowance.</p> <p>An open letter to the Prime Minister, which has been signed by more than 300 politicians, community advocates and prolific Aussies, called for an increase to be included in the budget to support those most in need.</p> <p>“Right now, the rate of JobSeeker is so low that people are being forced to choose between paying their rent or buying enough food and medicine,” the letter, coordinated by the Australian Council of Social Service, read.</p> <p>In 2022, the council’s research found six in 10 people on income support were eating less or reporting difficulty getting medicine or care due to their inadequate income. This increased to seven in 10 in March 2023.</p> <p>The budget plans to extend single-parenting payments and increase rental assistance - particularly for women.</p> <p>Around $120 billion in Morrison Government road and rail projects will be reviewed and money reprioritised, with hundreds of smaller projects likely to be stopped.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Live art exists only while it is being performed, and then it disappears. How do we create an archive of the ephemeral?

<p>Live performance exists only in the moment it is being performed. Its ephemeral nature means it is transient and impermanent, and cannot be experienced again in precisely the same way. </p> <p>How do artists hold on to the works that they make? What of the invisible labour that is rarely acknowledged or named? </p> <p>Over the last ten years, performance artist Leisa Shelton has completed a series of participatory artworks which focus on the mutability of the archive: gathering audience testimonies and mapping artistic lineages. </p> <p>Now her new show, Archiving the Ephemeral, brings five works together in a beautifully curated installation. </p> <p>Archiving the Ephemeral is a celebration of the artist, the artistic process and the audience experience. </p> <p>Shelton’s expansive career, built on collaboration, care and conversation, grounds the exhibition. The show reflects her focus on curating and re-framing interdisciplinary work to address the limited opportunities for recognition of contemporary independent Australian performance.</p> <h2>Meticulous design</h2> <p>Marked by a spare, distinctive design, Archiving the Ephemeral is located in the Magdalen Laundry at the Abbotsford Convent. </p> <p>Rich with a bright green wooden industrial interior and aged painted walls, the laundry is a perfect background for the specifically placed items, the carefully lit tables and the long lines of patterned artefacts. </p> <p>Fragile ideas are framed and held within a crafted, artisan aesthetic. Objects are carefully made and remnants are meticulously gathered.</p> <p>Along one side of the space, 132 brown paper packets are laid out in a continuous line on the floor. Each package contains a set of archival materials, burned to ash, which corresponds to an artistic project from Shelton’s career.</p> <p>An accompanying video depicts Shelton’s meticulous process of burning, piece by piece, her entire performance archive to ash. </p> <p>In a methodical and meditative process, the ash is sifted and packaged into the hand-crafted paper bags. The bags are then hand-punched and sewn with twine, typed, labelled and categorised: a kind of devotional honouring of the materials even as they are brought to dust. </p> <h2>A living archive</h2> <p>The exhibition includes an opportunity for each of us to become part of the living archive through conversations with two ground-breaking elders of Australia’s performance art scene, <a href="https://abbotsfordconvent.com.au/news/in-conversation-with-stelarc-and-jill-orr/">Jill Orr and Stelarc</a>. </p> <p>On the night I attend, I sit with Stelarc. We discuss Kantian <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant">notions of time</a> as he tells me about his <a href="http://stelarc.org/?catID=20353">Re-Wired/Re-Mixed Event for Dismembered Body</a> (2015). It’s a delightful moment of personal connection with an artist I’ve admired for years.</p> <p>Across one wall are four large hanging papers listing the name of every artist on every <a href="https://www.artshouse.com.au/about-us/">Arts House</a> program from 2006-2016, laboriously typed. </p> <p>On the night I attend, these lists elicit lively conversations among the artists present as we study the names and dates (in my case, slightly desperately searching to see if my own name is there), and recall shows, people, events, stories and collaborations.</p> <p>Much of Shelton’s work is gathered from conversations with audience members about art and artists. </p> <p>In Mapping, a set of burnished stainless-steel canisters, beautifully marked with engraved identifications, sit on a bench underneath a suspended video screen on which artist names appear and disappear in an endless, floating loop. </p> <p>The canisters contain details of profoundly memorable artists and performances collected from 1,000 interviews, dated and stamped. They are hand-welded, sumptuous objects which hold the interview cards securely locked under fireproof glass designed to withstand cyclones, fires and floods.</p> <p>The many hand-written files of Scribe contain multiple documents which can be taken out and read. The sheer number of pages is overwhelming, and the breadth of audience commentary – joyful, moved, connected, inspired – is breathtaking.</p> <p>It’s a poignant reminder of the traces borne out beyond the artist’s own experience of performing a work: an often surreal and lonely moment once the audience has left the room.</p> <h2>A practice of care</h2> <p>Archiving the Ephemeral fosters a practice of care and acknowledgement which extends to the practical ways in which our trajectory through the room and engagement with the artworks is enabled. </p> <p>The Convent is an apt site for such a careful collection. Analogue processes and objects are foregrounded. Typewriters, brown paper, string, awls and aprons are part of the painstaking construction process. Attendants and scribes act as custodians in the space, facilitating a gentle holding of the material.</p> <p>We are given the opportunity to continue the archive as it evolves and devolves around us. As I make my way through the space, I notice my own embodied archival actions - taking notes, speaking to others - as I continue the trajectory of documenting the documents. We are not just witnessing one artist’s body of work. Archiving the Ephemeral focuses on the need for greater visibility, recognition and honouring of Australia’s experimental and independent artists, and speaks to the many collaborations, associations, and intricate connections that mark a significant – if unacknowledged – cultural legacy.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/live-art-exists-only-while-it-is-being-performed-and-then-it-disappears-how-do-we-create-an-archive-of-the-ephemeral-201939" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Art

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Only days left for one Aussie state's residents to make $1000 claim

<p dir="ltr">New South Wales residents who faced the brunt of July 2022’s floods have only one week remaining to claim their $1000 lump sum payment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the Disaster Recovery Payment [DRA] - of $1000 per adult and $400 per child - as he set off to tour some of the hardest hit regions in July 2022. The news gave some hope to those who had lost everything in the disaster that swept through their homes, and the chance to secure the likes of clothing, food, and temporary shelter.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the peak of the devastation, over 100 evacuation orders - amounting to roughly 85,000 people - had been issued across the state, with thousands of properties inundated, with SES crews responding to over 370 flood rescues, and a frightening 7600 help requests. </p> <p dir="ltr">People living in the local government areas [LGAs] that were directly impacted by the floods are eligible, although certain criteria must be met. Service Australia outlines that you (or a dependent child to whom you’re the principal carer) must be an Australian citizen or hold an eligible visa, be in an eligible LGA, and must be claiming the payment for the first time. </p> <p dir="ltr">Those whose homes suffered major damage due to the floods and required either repair or replacement in certain areas, as well as those whose “major assets” - the likes of caravans, vehicles, water tanks, and sheds - were also in need of repair or replacement are eligible for the payment as well. </p> <p dir="ltr">And residents who were seriously injured, or had an immediate family member (who is/was an Australian citizen) die or go missing in the floods, are also eligible. </p> <p dir="ltr">Furthermore, individuals who lost income as a direct result of the floods may be able to get the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment [AGDRP]. If this is the case, they are then also able to claim the DRA.</p> <p dir="ltr">As for which LGAs the payment covers, residents from the following who felt the floods’ impact should look into it: Bayside, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Canterbury Bankstown, Central Coast, Cessnock, Cumberland, Dungog, Fairfield, Georges River, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Kempsey, Kiama, Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Liverpool, Maitland, Mid-Coast, Muswellbrook, Nambucca Valley, Narromine, Newcastle, Northern Beaches, Oberon, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Randwick, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Singleton, Strathfield, Sutherland, The Hills, Upper Lachlan, Warren, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly, and Wollongong. </p> <p dir="ltr">New South Wales residents who are eligible only have until April 5 to make their claim. To check your eligibility status, <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/who-can-get-new-south-wales-floods-july-2022-australian-government-disaster-recovery-payment?context=62849">head to Service Australia</a>. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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“We only wish Dad was here to see it”: Kylie Gillies' heartfelt gift for her mum

<p>Kylie Gillies has shared a heartwarming video to her social media of the moment her mother received a very special gift from the family. </p> <p>As Kylie explained in her caption, where she paid tribute to the love her parents had shared over the course of their 57 year marriage, the story behind the gift was near as dear to them all as the present itself. </p> <p>In the clip, Kylie’s mother - Marg - can be seen sitting at a table in a luxurious jewellery store, with a box in front of her. She opens it to reveal a ring, and immediately turns to the camera, overwhelmed. </p> <p>“A story 50 years in the making,” Kylie wrote. “In the 1970’s my Dad gifted Mum a sapphire. A loose stone - from Inverell. It remain[ed] wrapped in a little brown envelope in Mum’s drawer for decades.</p> <p>“I recently asked her why? She said ‘well we’re not the sort of people to get jewellery made. And there were always other priorities I guess.’</p> <p>“I’m sure those other priorities were my sister and me. All those things that young girls need. And want! And Mum and Dad never put themselves first.</p> <p>“So with Dad’s recent passing our thoughts turned to that sapphire. Mum said Dad had always loved them and actually wanted Mum to have a sapphire engagement ring. That was 1963!</p> <p>We thought it was time to do something.”</p> <p>She started to wrap up her caption by thanking the House of K’dor for “turning that little stone into something big for our family”, and for the love that had gone into designing the meaningful gift, telling them “you were as excited as she was.”</p> <p>“We only wish Dad was here to see it too,” she said, in what was surely a sentiment echoed by the entire family, who Kylie gave individual mention to after declaring, “we love you Mum.” </p> <p>Kylie’s father - and Marg’s husband - passed away in 2021 at the age of 91. At the time, the TV host wrote that he was “a much-loved husband to my mum” and that he “looked after us all for so long.”</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/Cp9moHHpZVs/?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/Cp9moHHpZVs/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Kylie Gillies (@kyliegillies)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Her friends and fans’ hearts were warmed by the significance of the gift for the family, and took to Kylie’s comments section to let her know. </p> <p>“Just perfect,” wrote her <em>The Morning Show </em>co-host Larry Edmur. </p> <p>“So precious,” agreed Melissa Doyle, with Natalie Barr contributing a single teary-eyed emoji. </p> <p>“This story made me tear up,” shared one follower, “I'm sure your dad was watching from above elated knowing his wish came true 50 years later.”</p> <p>And in addressing two of her friends, one fan wrote, “this is what we were talking about, the past generations sacrificing and prioritising a need and want.”</p> <p>“Oh I love this … I have a very similar story,” said another. “I received a beautiful sapphire from my aunt and uncle when I was 18. They found it while prospecting in the ‘60s. My uncle cut and polished it all by himself. They never had children of their own so held onto it until I was old enough to appreciate it. I still have it wrapped in a tissue in my jewellery box just waiting for me to do something with it.”</p> <p>“Thank you for entrusting Tarick and I with something so precious,” said Zena, one of the two who had worked on the ring. “It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to work on this creation with you for your beautiful mother Margaret. It’s moments like this I pinch myself with just how lucky I am to be able to do what I do, seeing your mothers face light up brought me so much joy.”</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Only in Florida! Woman's shocking find lurking in backyard pool

<p dir="ltr">Florida woman Lynn Tosi was not the only one who wanted to stay cool during the summer.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tosi came home to an unwanted guest: a 3.5 m alligator that had busted through her screened-in porch and was vibing in her pool.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I just kind of circled around, not knowing what I was going to do next. I sure wasn’t going outside,” Tossi said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The crook-a-dile waddled through a nearby forest to try and find water, and struck gold when he found Tossi’s pool.</p> <p dir="ltr">Without a care in the world, the insti-gator left a large hole in Tosi’s screened-in porch.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He busted right through there, kind of like the Kool-Aid man, you know,” Tosi shared.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the weather gets warmer, Alligators are becoming increasingly active, and Tosi, who has learned from this wild encounter, encouraged all homeowners to double-check their pools and lakes before diving in.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The professional coming to take him out was actually pacing and got on the phone and was really surprised by what they were up against,” Tosi recalled.</p> <p dir="ltr">In another image, the Alligator can be seen restrained, and they were lucky it didn’t snap.</p> <p dir="ltr">This encounter is one of three reported in Valusia County over the last five days.</p> <p dir="ltr">Trappers have reminded residents that the alligators are most active at dusk and dawn.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Lynn Tosi, NBC, CNN</em></p> <p dir="ltr"> </p>

Real Estate

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‘We are only passing through’: stories about memory, mortality and the effort of being alive

<p>Chris Flynn’s <a href="https://www.uqp.com.au/books/here-be-leviathans">Here Be Leviathans</a> is a collection of short stories that seems quirky and light-hearted, propelled by its creative use of perspective. Each story is established from a surprising vantage point and so the world as Flynn imagines it becomes topsy-turvy – anything at all might be alive and sentient. Animals, chairs, boats, you name it.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Review: Here Be Leviathans – Chris Flynn (UQP) and The Tower – Carol Lefevre (Spinifex)</em></p> <hr /> <p>A bear eats a teenager, and thus inherits the boy’s memories. An airplane seat describes its last day at work. A hotel room observes its favourite couple, who return over the years. A monkey details a trip into outer space. But these stories are driven by more than quirky inspiration.</p> <p>The point-of-view might offer an interesting hook, and Flynn’s tone may be jaunty at times, but the stories are propelled by deeper themes of mortality, death and existential pointlessness. Flynn uses perspective to reflect and question the way we think about things.</p> <h2>Memory and mortality</h2> <p>Many of the characters in this collection die, have died or are about to die – but there’s also a counter-theme of connection. The bear may eat the teenager, and so the ranger is hunting him down; we enter a hide-and-seek game for survival. But it’s the connection the bear and ranger have, the mutual respect they share, that becomes the message of the first story, Inheritance.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?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/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=896&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=896&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=896&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1126&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1126&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1126&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>Flynn also explores ideas of memory transference, and this imbues the story with lingering, thoughtful hope: something that pervades the whole collection. In Flynn’s world, death can be a means to existence – as long as our memories keep living, our experiences and perspectives continue to exist.</p> <p>Flynn’s use of unexpected points of view allows him to avoid the sentimental. In 22F, he tells the story of an airplane seat abandoned in the jungle and we’re left with the superb image of moss growing up and over the upholstery, claiming the seat for the natural domain. We learn about the seat’s history, the work-politics of neighbouring seats, and observations of the passengers who have sat in them. We see glimpses of these human cargoes that simultaneously show the banality and profundity of life.</p> <p>The collection took Flynn ten years to write, and he includes notes at the end about his process and the stories’ origins. For instance, he describes how 22F was inspired by the Werner Herzog documentary <a href="https://letterboxd.com/film/wings-of-hope/">Wings of Hope</a>, which interviewed Juliane Koepcke, the sole survivor of a 1971 airplane crash. Together, Herzog and Koepcke journey to the site of the crash and find parts of the airplane in the jungle. Flynn says the story is about:</p> <blockquote> <p>Memory and place. A reminder that we are only passing through and that everything is part of something larger.</p> </blockquote> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.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/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">One of Chris Flynn’s stories is told from the perspective of an airplane seat abandoned in the jungle.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Leslie Cross/Unsplash</span>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The importance of memory and place is further explored in the story A Beautiful and Unexpected Turn, where we follow the perspective of a hotel room that takes a special interest in its guests, Diane and Hector. We see the waxing and waning and waxing of their relationship. At the end, the room says:</p> <blockquote> <p>We are places of passage, of transience […] Eventually, I would be demolished, perhaps to make way for another hotel or an apartment block, or nothing […] I would become rubble, and then dust.</p> </blockquote> <p>This could be the larger message of the book – our lives are transient and then we become dust. The connections we experience and inspire are what give us meaning in the moment.</p> <h2>Complications of care</h2> <p>Carol Lefevre’s <a href="https://www.spinifexpress.com.au/shop/p/9781925950625">The Tower</a> also emphasises place. This thoughtful collection of short stories is very different from Flynn’s in tone and focus, but it too grounds storytelling in the themes of place and mortality.</p> <figure class="align-left zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?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/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=928&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=928&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=928&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1166&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1166&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1166&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>The Tower is structured around a series of interlocking narratives about Dorelia MacCraith – in the very first story, after losing her husband Geordie, she sells her house and buys a new one, with a tower. Her children, who she does not consult, are suspicious of this defiant act.</p> <p>Straight away, the reader is thrust into the negotiations and complications of care. People who Dorelia once cared for are now asserting (or trying to assert) forms of reverse care. And many stories in the collection reverberate with related themes – women caring for children and partners and parents, or making decisions about their positions as carers, especially in the context of trying (or deciding not) to have children.</p> <p>The interconnected stories about Dorelia and her tower are the centrepiece of the collection. Yet Dorelia finds this house of her own by accident, when driving her dear friend and fellow artist Elizabeth Bunting to an appointment:</p> <blockquote> <p>they took a wrong turn, and then another, until at the end of the a quiet cul-de-sac, set among sheltering trees, stood the most adorable house […] and above the porch rose a small tower.</p> </blockquote> <p>I appreciate that it is the women’s friendship – their spark of connection and humour are immediate and inviting – that enables Dorelia to find her tower oasis. I also appreciate that this critical act occurs during a moment of generosity and care: Dorelia is driving Elizabeth to an appointment.</p> <p>While Dorelia may find her tower by accident, we never feel Lefevre is accidental in rendering the lives of these women on the page. The prose is carefully controlled, as is the detail and world-building – and the deeper reflections of the stories kaleidoscope through one another, building in nuanced ways.</p> <h2>Reimagining the crone</h2> <p>Of course, symbolic permutations resonate throughout this text – a tower of one’s own harks to <a href="https://theconversation.com/skin-and-sinew-and-breath-and-longing-reimagining-the-lives-of-queer-artists-and-activists-from-sappho-to-virginia-woolf-184459">Virginia Woolf</a> and Rapunzel. Dorelia reimagines the crone from the Rapunzel <a href="https://theconversation.com/reader-beware-the-nasty-new-edition-of-the-brothers-grimm-34537">fairy tale</a> as central and heroic.</p> <p>This rewriting and revision of the crone – and her motives and backstory – seems key to recognising women’s narratives more generally, and prioritising a multiplicity of stories and experiences within the Australian literary canon. In this sense, it feels like Lefevre is in conversation with authors such as Drusilla Modjeska, <a href="https://theconversation.com/intellectual-fearlessness-politics-and-the-spiritual-impulse-the-remarkable-career-of-amanda-lohrey-187354">Amanda Lohrey</a> and Charlotte Wood.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?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/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=319&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=319&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=319&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The main, recurring narrator of The Tower reimagines the crone from the Rapunzel fairytale as central and heroic.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>In <a href="https://theconversation.com/tarot-resurgence-is-less-about-occult-than-fun-and-self-help-just-like-throughout-history-139448">tarot</a> mythology, the card of The Tower considers the collapse of old structures. We get a sense of this in the reflexivity of the text, as well as in its story-world – as Dorelia faces life without her husband Geordie. Indeed, old age itself collapses life as she’s known it. The interplay between the textual and the intertextual resonates in this collection, making this book as enjoyable to later ponder as it was to actually read.</p> <p>Here Be Leviathans and The Tower are two very different short-story collections to consider in tandem. They vary in voice, tone and style. Yet both engage with the precariousness and effort that is at the foundation of being alive, and making meaning from our short time on the planet.<!-- 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/193628/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/shady-cosgrove-153726">Shady Cosgrove</a>, Associate Professor, Creative Writing, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</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/we-are-only-passing-through-stories-about-memory-mortality-and-the-effort-of-being-alive-193628">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Retirement Life

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"I can only do so much": we asked fast-fashion shoppers how ethical concerns shape their choices

<p>You’ve found the perfect dress. You’ve tried it on before and you know it looks great. Now it’s on sale, a discount so large the store is practically giving it away. Should you buy it?</p> <p>For some of us it’s a no-brainer. For others it’s an ethical dilemma whenever we shop for clothes. <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JFMM-01-2019-0011/full/html">What matters more</a>? How the item was made or how much it costs? Is the most important information on the label or the price tag?</p> <p>Of the world’s industries that profit from worker exploitation, the <a href="https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/">fashion industry is notorious</a>, in part because of the sharp contrast between how fashion is made and how it is marketed. </p> <p>There are more people <a href="https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_575479/lang--en/index.htm">working in exploitative conditions</a> than ever before. Globally, the garment industry employs millions of people, with <a href="https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/briefingnote/wcms_758626.pdf">65 million garment sector workers in Asia alone</a>. The Clean Clothes Campaign estimates <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/poverty-wages">less than 1%</a> of what you pay for a typical garment goes to the workers who made it.</p> <h2>How much does a worker make on a $30 shirt?</h2> <p>Some work in conditions so exploitative they meet the definition of being <a href="https://www.commonobjective.co/article/modern-slavery-and-the-fashion-industry">modern slaves</a> – trapped in situations they can’t leave due to coercion and threats.</p> <p>But their plight is hidden by the distance between the worker and the buyer. Global supply chains have helped such exploitation to hide and thrive. </p> <p>Do we really care, and what can we do?</p> <p>We conducted <a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMM-06-2021-0158">in-depth interviews</a> with 21 women who buy “fast fashion” – “on-trend” clothing made and sold at very low cost – to find out how much they think about the conditions of the workers who make their clothes, and and what effort they take to avoid slave-free clothing. Well-known fast-fashion brands include H&amp;M, Zara and Uniqlo.</p> <p>What they told us highlights the inadequacy of seeking to eradicate exploitation in the fashion industry by relying on consumers to do the heavy lifting. Struggling to seek reliable information on ethical practices, consumers are overwhelmed when trying to navigate ethical consumerism. </p> <h2>Out of sight, out of mind</h2> <p>The 21 participants in our research were women aged 18 to 55, from diverse backgrounds across Australia. We selected participants who were aware of exploitation in the fashion industry but had still bought fast fashion in the previous six months. This was not a survey but qualitative research involving in-depth interviews to understand the disconnect between awareness and action.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMM-06-2021-0158">key finding </a> is that clothing consumers’ physical and cultural distance from those who make the clothes makes it difficult to relate to their experience. Even if we’ve seen images of sweatshops, it’s still hard to comprehend what the working conditions are truly like.</p> <p>As Fiona*, a woman in her late 30s, put it: “I don’t think people care [but] it’s not in a nasty way. It’s like an out of sight, out of mind situation.”</p> <p>This problem of geographic and cultural distance between garment workers and fashion shoppers highlights the paucity of solutions premised on driving change in the industry through consumer activism. </p> <h2>Who is responsible?</h2> <p>Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, for example, tackles the problem only by requiring large companies to report to a <a href="https://modernslaveryregister.gov.au/">public register</a>on their efforts to identify risks of modern slavery in their supply chains and what they are doing to eliminate these risks. </p> <p>While greater transparency is certainly a big step forward for the industry, the legislation still presumes that the threat of reputational damage is enough to get industry players to change their ways. </p> <p>The success of the legislation falls largely on the ability of activist organisations to sift through and publicise the performance of companies in an effort to encourage consumers to hold companies accountable.</p> <p>All our interviewees told us they felt unfairly burdened with the responsibility to seek information on working conditions and ethical practices to hold retailers to account or to feel empowered to make the “correct” ethical choice.</p> <p>“It’s too hard sometimes to actually track down the line of whether something’s made ethically,” said Zoe*, a woman in her early 20s.</p> <p>Given that many retailers are themselves ignorant about <a href="https://www.afr.com/wealth/investing/companies-risk-litigation-over-modern-slavery-ignorance-20201215-p56nix">their own supply chains</a>, it is asking a lot to expect the average consumer to unravel the truth and make ethical shopping choices.</p> <h2>Confusion + overwhelm = inaction</h2> <p>“We have to shop according to what we care about, what is in line with our values, family values, budget,” said Sarah*, who is in her early 40s. </p> <p>She said she copes with feeling overwhelmed by ignoring some issues and focus on the ethical actions she knew would make a difference. “I’m doing so many other good things,” she said. “We can’t be perfect, and I can only do so much.” </p> <p>Other participants also talked about juggling considerations about environmental and social impacts.</p> <p>“It’s made in Bangladesh, but it’s 100% cotton, so, I don’t know, is it ethical?” is how Lauren*, a woman in her early 20s, put it. “It depends on what qualifies as ethical […] and what is just marketing.”</p> <p>Comparatively, participants felt their actions to mitigate environmental harm made a tangible difference. They could see the impact and felt rewarded and empowered to continue making positive change. This was not the case for modern slavery and worker rights more generally.</p> <p>Fast fashion is a lucrative market, with <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/the-billionaire-family-behind-fast-fashion-powerhouse-boohoo-2019-11?r=AU&amp;IR=T">billions in profits made</a>thanks to the work of the lowest paid workers in the world.</p> <p>There is no denying consumers wield a lot of power, and we shouldn’t absolve consumers of their part in creating demand for the cheapest clothes humanly – or inhumanly – possible. </p> <p>But consumer choice alone is insufficient. We need a system where all our clothing choices are ethical, where we don’t need to make a choice between what is right and what is cheap.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-can-only-do-so-much-we-asked-fast-fashion-shoppers-how-ethical-concerns-shape-their-choices-172978" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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"Am I the only one?" Magda reveals the alarming state of her health

<p>Magda Szubanski has shared the details of her various health conditions, revealing she has battled several illnesses throughout her life.</p> <p>The actress and comedian, 61, listed her various health woes in an interview with <a href="https://www.nowtolove.com.au/tvweek" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener">TV Week</a> magazine, and said she wondered if there were others with similar problems.</p> <p>"There are times in my life I've been absolutely blighted by illness," she said.</p> <p>"Osteoarthritis, migraines, anxiety - I also suffer from sleep apnoea - and that leads me to ask, 'Am I the only one who feels like this? Are other people feeling the same way? Do they have the same challenges?'" she added.</p> <p>The frank admission comes just days after Magda called for <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/body/magda-szubanski-calls-for-fat-people-to-be-protected-from-online-hate-speech" target="_blank" rel="noopener">vilification rules</a> to be put in place for "fat people" online, only to be blasted by her following. </p> <p>The comedian shared the controversial tweet in which she wondered why "fat" people are not "protected" from hate speech online. </p> <p>She wrote, "It's interesting to me that you are banned from attacking just about every identity on Twitter except being fat. Why are we not protected from vilification?"</p> <p>Szubanski was then blasted by several heartless online users, as she received comments such as, "Have another Snickers bar. Sounds like your blood sugar is low," and "Lose some weight then."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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