TEN Eyewitness News: Call to ditch school skirts and dresses

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on June 16, 2017

Onlinehttps://tenplay.com.au/news/national/june-2017/call-to-ditch-school-skirts-and-dresses

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Winter can be a dreaded time for Aussie school girls. The boys get to don their slacks against the cold, while girls are forced to tough it out in skirts and dresses, with nothing but some thin stockings for protection.

But the winds of change are in the cool air.. with a new survey revealing a majority of school parents want a shakeup to uniform protocol.

The findings by key parent group South Australian Association of State School Organisations found that over 90 per cent of school parents surveyed think girls shouldn’t have to adhere to ‘traditional’ style uniforms.

The group’s Director David Knuckney said it wasn’t just parents who were against the uniforms.

“With negative gender stereotypes known to have disastrous impacts on female students, is it time to rethink making them dress like ‘girls’?” he told the Adelaide Advertiser.

“While schools have long held that uniforms improve discipline, experts, parents and students are now calling school uniforms sexist – a discriminatory disadvantage.”

A quarter of principals surveyed even supported chucking out uniforms all together.

But some educators say too much choice can be dangerous for students.

Mitcham Girls High principal Antoinette Jones said that students were generally less well behaved on casual clothes days.

“They are more rowdy, they are louder, they maybe don’t engage in their learning as much, and we don’t know why.”

Ms Jones said that uniforms also act as a ‘leveller’ between different socio-economic backgrounds.

Most schools are moving towards ‘flexible’ options for girls and a chosen dress code rather than a specified school uniform.

These include gender neutral options for both boys and girls rather than strict rules on what either can wear.

Ms Jones said that her school has a “wide range” of options so students could wear “whatever makes them comfortable”.

TEN Eyewitness News: Horror Christmas drowning death-toll prompts urgent calls for rip safety

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 29, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/horror-christmas-drowning-deathtoll-prompts-urgent-calls-for-rip-safety

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As NSW’s drowning death toll for the festive season jumps to six, and the search continues for 14-year-old Tu’ipulotu “Tui” Gallaher, who disappeared during a swim at Sydney’s Maroubra Beach on Tuesday night, authorities have urged tourists and locals to be more cautious in the surf.

Boxing Day alone claimed four lives, including a 60-year-old Grafton man, who entered the water in a bid to save his four nieces who were caught in a rip off a beach in the state’s north.

A couple of rips were also found where missing teen Tui was last seen, as Surf Life Saving Sydney conducted their search and rescue mission.

Rescue efforts resumed yesterday morning, after earlier being called off due to poor conditions.

“There’s no doubt that rip currents are one of the biggest dangers on Australian beaches, particularly if you don’t know how to spot them in the water,” said Surf Life Saving Queensland’s operations support coordinator Jason Argent in a recent release.

“Overconfidence can be a big issue when it comes to rip currents, particularly amongst that younger male demographic.”

Of the 280 people who died from drowning in Australian waterways between July 1 last year and June 30 this year, 83 percent were male.

Australian beaches claimed the most lives compared with lagoons, creeks, rivers and other waterways.

“We’ve found that a lot of people who think they can spot a rip actually can’t, and a lot of people mistakenly think they don’t need to worry about rips because they’re strong swimmers,” Mr Argent said.

“It’s important to understand that rips don’t discriminate and, tragically, in the past we’ve seen all sorts of people, from international tourists right through to regular beachgoers, drown after they were swept out to sea by a rip they didn’t even know was there.”

Mr Argent said that beachgoers should always protect themselves against rips by swimming at patrolled beaches only, in between the red and yellow flags.

Rips can be identified by darker channels of water with fewer breaking waves, while sandy-coloured water extending beyond the surf-zone can also indicate the presence of a rip.

Mr Argent said that because these areas often look calmer, swimmers can wrongly assume that they are the safest places to swim, and that’s when they get themselves into trouble.

However, if you do get stuck in a rip, there are a few things you should do to minimise the risks.

“If you find yourself caught in a rip, it’s really important that you try to stay calm, conserve your energy as much as possible by floating in the water, and raise your arm to attract the attention of lifesavers or lifeguards,” he said.

“Whatever you do, never try to swim directly against the current. The majority of drownings attributed to rip currents have come after swimmers have begun to panic and tried to swim against the current, leaving them too exhausted to keep their heads above water.

“Instead, if you’re comfortable doing so, you can escape a rip by swimming parallel to the beach and then allowing the waves to assist you back to shore.”

TEN Eyewitness News: Five tips to keep your pets cool this Summer

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 29, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/leading-vets-offer-top-tips-on-how-to-to-keep-pets-safe-from-heatstroke

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When Australia’s Summer scorchers come around, we often think of the elderly and young children as being most at risk of heatstroke, but researchers say our pets are just as vulnerable.

With temperatures set to reach the high thirties in Sydney this week and expected to exceed 40C in our west, Dr Fawcett from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science says it’s more important than ever that we keep our companions cool.

“The mortality rate of dogs admitted to veterinary hospital is 50 to 65 percent so it is crucial owners take every precaution to make sure their animal companions are safe and healthy,” she said.

Heat stress can be harmful for dogs in two ways.

Firstly, injuries caused by direct heat or overheating, and then secondly with the after effects of dehydration, shock and poor circulation, according to Dr Fawcett.

“While some animals present with obvious symptoms such as panting, lethargy, noisy breathing and red gums, others will be more difficult to detect and may not even be hot to touch,” she said.

“Diagnosis is often tricky, because many owners have begun cooling their animal prior to veterinary attention being received – the presence of a normal or even LOW body temperature does not rule out a diagnosis of heat stroke.”

These are Dr Fawcett’s top five tips to keep our furry friends safe from heatstroke this season:

  1. Where possible, keep companion animals indoors or board them in an air-conditioned facility.
  2. Shade is key to keeping companion animals safe. Make sure they have access to shade all day, as shady spots can disappear as the sun moves.
  3. Cool and iced water is essential. I always provide a small ice-bucket for my guinea pigs on hot days.
  4. Provide adequate ventilation throughout the day.
  5. Do NOT leave animals in a car without air conditioning.

TEN Eyewitness News: Dining-room dive or Sydney’s biggest Airbnb bargain?

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 15, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/diningroom-dive-or-sydneys-biggest-airbnb-bargain

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Looking for a cheap night’s stay in Sydney this summer? Mel’s dining-room air mattress might be just the ticket.

A stark contrast to Sydney’s five-star hotel rooms booking for hundreds of dollars a night, the “humble and friendly beachside dive” in Chifley, south of the city, boasts “small”, “cluttered space”, bicycle availability, free parking and 24-hour check-in for just $15 a night.

Check-out is, oddly, at midnight.

Guests at this Airbnb lodging need only abide by a few house rules – drink alcohol in moderation, wash your own dishes, present your passport on arrival, don’t do illegal drugs, and preferably, be aged 13 or over as this accommodation “may not be safe or suitable” for 12-and-unders.

Smoking is allowed and shampoo is provided, but guests who want Internet access will have to use local WiFi “available at shopping centres, McDonald’s and libraries close by.”

A security deposit of $130 is required, but this Airbnb host offers 10 percent discounts for weekly stays, and a 30 percent discount for monthly stays.

Bruno, an online reviewer, has great things to say about his time on the Chifley air mattress:
“Awessome hoster. That is why I am going back there xD [sic].”

Nelson also highly recommends Mel’s dining room stay:
“Awesome host! Very helpful with local knowledge and places to sight see! Very friendly! Is a good spot to crash!!”

TEN Eyewitness News: Researchers: Aussie travellers at risk of bringing Zika back home

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 15, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/researchers-aussie-travellers-at-risk-of-bringing-zika-back-home

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Australian travellers are at risk of bringing the Zika virus and dengue fever into the country when they return from overseas, researchers warn, by unwittingly bringing back the eggs of exotic mosquito species.

People who travel to Southeast Asia during the holiday season, particularly Bali, are especially vulnerable.

Zika infections exploded in South America earlier in the year, with world health authorities fearing a global pandemic. The virus is primarily contracted through mosquito bites, but can also be sexually transmittable up to six months after initial infection.

Particularly worrying, Zika has been linked to horrific birth defects, including microcephaly, if pregnant mothers are infected.

“If these exotic mosquito species find a way to our suburbs and become established, it creates the perfect conditions for a local outbreak of Zika or dengue,” Dr Cameron Webb, Medical Entomologist at University of Sydney and NSW Health Pathology, said.

“While we can’t prevent people infected with Zika or dengue coming to Australia, we can prevent the establishment of exotic mosquitoes species, so that widespread outbreaks can’t occur.”

Dr Webb, lead author of the Sax Institute’s Public Health Research & Practice journal, published Wednesday, said that we need to be more mindful of what we bring home from our holidays.

“It is very easy for people to unwittingly bring exotic mosquito eggs back into Australia via water bottles, vases or other belongings,” he said.

Some of the species that could carry potentially deadly viruses are the Aedes aegypti, the ‘yellow fever’ mosquito, and the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.

Dr Webb says that while repellents are generally a cheap and effective way to protect yourself, you need to choose the right ones.

“Unless you are prepared to reapply every one to two hours, it’s safer to avoid botanical extract-based repellents available from health food stores, tackle shops and the ‘homebrews’ available from local markets,” he said.

“Australians at home and abroad should instead choose a repellent containing DEET, picaridin or ‘oil of lemon-eucalyptus’. There are hundreds of different formulations to choose from in the supermarket or the pharmacy that will keep you and your family safe.”

Dr Webb says that communities and health authorities need to be monitoring suburban areas as well as wetlands, because these deadly mosquitoes can survive under both conditions.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Former politician Pat Farmer to run City2Surf for cancer

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on August 11, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/former-politician-pat-farmer-to-run-city2surf-for-cancer-20160707-gq0lq0

Pat Farmer was 18 when he knew he wanted to run.

Now a holder of several world records, he ended up running around Australia, through the Middle East, and in 2011, more than 20,000 kilometres from the North Pole to South Pole.

“It was, without a doubt, the most incredible feat of endurance I think anybody’s ever done,” he said about the trek, which took more than 10 months.

“I reflect on it now and I don’t even know how I did it myself. You’re in the moment, you plan these things for years, then you just get out there and give it your best shot.”

As a kid, he was inspired by Cliff Young, a potato farmer from Victoria.

Young, at 61, won what Farmer called the “toughest race on earth” – the Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon – in the 80s.

“The wonderful thing about that was it showed me that ordinary people could aspire to doing extraordinary things, not just the elite,” he said.

“Cliff will always be the factor behind all my fundraising and everything I’ve done.”

Farmer dedicated his running career to charity from the word go, and has since raised millions for several organisations and causes.

“For me, it’s not even so much about the running, but what I can use the running to do,” he said.

“It’s taking the emphasis on me setting records, running and racing, and putting it on the needy.”

Farmer said that no matter what field he is in, whether it be sport, business or politics, he is always driven by a love of helping others.

Farmer was elected the Liberal MP for Macarthur in 2001, and served in Parliament as the secretary for education, science and training. He says he is disappointed by Australia’s current political climate.

“I think in my days [they] were certainly more focused on public outcomes than their own personal interests,” he said.

“Today’s politicians need to focus on the community that they represent rather than themselves. At the end of the day, you can talk as much as you like, but you really need to hit the ground running and show people what you’re made of.”

Farmer said that if he wasn’t kicked out of the Macarthur seat by his party in 2009 for living out of the electorate, he would still be in politics.

This year, Farmer is training and running alongside the Cancer Council Gold Team – 25 runners doing The Sun-Herald City2Surf, presented by Westpac.

The team hopes to raise more than $165,000 for the charity, and Farmer said they were well on their way.

“As you can imagine, for me, the distance is much shorter than what I would normally compete in,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to support other runners to realise their best.”

“You’ll see in the City2Surf, ordinary people from all age groups, and even people with a disability, will complete the distance. To me, that’s a gold medal performance and they are the inspiration for ordinary Australians.”

The Sun-Herald City2Surf will be held in Sydney on August 14.

Register online at: www.city2surf.com.au

The Sun-Herald: 2016 Census: Bungy jump master tops the list of the jobs fewest people do

Published in The Sun-Herald on August 7, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/2016-census-bungy-jump-master-tops-the-list-of-the-jobs-fewest-people-do-20160623-gpq2td

Boris Joy is a bungy jump master – a rare find in Australia, with only three recorded in the 2011 census.

The profession tops the list of the 10 least-reported jobs nationwide last time ahead of this year’s census, on Tuesday.

After 10 years in the business, Mr Joy thinks he has one of the best jobs in the country.

“I had been in banking for eight years and decided to do something I’d never imagined I would do,” he said. “I just answered a job for a receptionist, funnily enough, and there you go.”

Being a jump master means that Mr Joy controls the bungy jump deck and is responsible for equipment and the safety of jumpers who visit AJ Hackett in Cairns, Queensland.

He loves being able to engage with people and see how they handle stressful situations.

Mr Joy says there are so few bungy jump masters in Australia because there are only two companies that offer the activity.

“People are always surprised to hear that we’re one of the only ones,” he said. “It’s a difficult business to start up without specialised knowledge of the industry.

“It’s basically as per a need basis. If we need more, then more will get trained up.”

Mr Joy thinks that people may be deterred by the dense Bungy Jumping Code of Practice and complicated insurance process for businesses.

This may explain the remainder of the top 10 most unpopular jobs in Australia – five are in the adventure sports industry.

2. Hunting Guide – four people

This job requires employees to be properly licensed hunters. Hunting licences are difficult to obtain, and guides are mostly required to work out of fully-licensed outfitters who are responsible for staff and insurances. Potential business interests are deterred by complicated processes and hunters often work independently without the assistance of a guide.

3. Mountain or Glacier Guide – 16 people

These guides have the task of leading groups or individuals through mountain ranges and glaciers, where they often partake in high-risk activities such as fishing and hunting, climbing and whitewater rafting. They are responsible for equipment and the safety of participants.

4. Trekking Guide – 24 people

Their work requires them to lead groups or individuals over long walking distances, often through hazardous terrain. Trekking guides must assess the risks involved in a trek and ensure the safety of patrons.

5. Whitewater Rafting Guide – 28 people

Guides, usually employed by licensed outfitters, are responsible for ensuring the safety of participants during this hazardous activity. The adventure sport also relies on a specific natural environment to work; rapids that are particularly dangerous may pose too many risks to customers.

6. Plastic Compounding and Reclamation Machine Operator – 51 people

Operators control mixing and grinding machines to prepare powders and liquids used to make plastics. They are also responsible for the recycling of materials. Machine operators are now largely redundant as most Australian manufacturing is done by machinery.

7. Deer Farmer – 56 people

Deer farms serve as hunting attractions or for the production of livestock. There is relatively little demand in Australia for venison in comparison to other meats such as lamb, beef and chicken. Hunting is generally done on larger grounds, and deer farms only provide limited game.

8. Electrician (special class) – 62 people

Special class electricians service and repair intricate or complex circuitry. They are typically called upon when tasks exceed the capabilities of general electricians.

9. Clinical Haematologist – 72 people 

Haematologists are concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders. As this is a specialist field, demand for these practitioners is less than general medical personnel.

10. Paediatric Surgeon – 76 people

These surgeons deal with fetuses, infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. Although general surgeons are equipped to operate on most younger patients, there are some cases where paediatric surgery is ideal or necessary.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Over 65s out-drink youth daily, NSW Chief Health Officer’s alcohol report shows

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 21, 2016 – co-authored for Kate Aubusson

Online: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/over-65s-outdrink-youth-daily-nsw-chief-health-officers-alcohol-report-shows-20160719-gq9g92.html

Young people may binge drink, but over 65s are the biggest daily drinkers.

Michael Forno reckons he would rack up 10 to 20 alcoholic drinks when he’s out with mates, once a week at most.

“I drink to have fun with friends … it helps the conversation move and to get along,” the 23-year-old said.

Nicolette Barbas got her first drink – a Vodka Cruiser – from her mum when she was 16. These days the 21-year-old sips three to six during a night out.

“I know I’m sensible and I won’t go overboard … [but] everyone sort of does silly things when they’re drunk. It’s part of the fun,” she said.

Kahli Gifford’s mum also bought her first drink when she was 16. She averages about six drinks twice a week.

When young people drink they tend to go pretty hard, judged against national health recommendations.

But the latest NSW Chief Health Officer’s report shows 16 to 24-year-olds are the least likely to drink daily.

The biggest daily drinkers in the state are overwhelmingly over 65.

It’s a stark generational disparity often overlooked in Australia, where the short-term harms of alcohol can often take precedence over the health effects of long-term drinking.

It’s the difference between an intoxicated teen falling over and hitting their head, and a budding retiree with liver failure.

Less than 1 per cent of people aged 16 to 24 drank daily compared to roughly one in seven people (14 per cent) over 65, the report released on Thursday found.

Over-65s also had two times the rate of hospitalisations for alcohol-related problems compared to the 15-24-year age group.

Alcohol risk awareness campaigns had predominantly targeted youth drinking, addiction specialist Adrian Dunlop said.

“But we’re trying to have a more meaningful dialogue about alcohol-related harms,” he said.

The findings among older Australians showed a “worrying trend”, especially when this group exceeded four drinks a day, he said.

“We need to think about the older populations a lot more and how alcohol is contributing to chronic disease [including] cirrhosis damage and alcohol-related brain injury,” he said.

The younger crowd still out-binged drink their elders, the report showed.

More than one in three 16-24-year-olds drank at levels that increased their long-term health risks compared to one in eight over-65s. Almost one in five 12-17-year-olds who drank reported doing so to get drunk.

Roughly one-third had been given their first drink by their parents and about three in five had their last drink under adult supervision, the report showed.

Excessive alcohol consumption is the leading contributor to illness and deaths in Australia for people up to 44 years old, costing the NSW economy more than $3.87 billion a year.

One in four adults drink at levels that put their long-term health at risk, a decline of 5.5 per cent over the past decade, the report showed.

It also found Aboriginal people were equally likely to abstain from drinking alcohol as non-Aboriginal people, though Aboriginal people who did drink were more likely to do so at risky levels.

But Australians’ attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol were clearly shifting.

Young people were delaying their first drink, and drinking at less hazardous levels than they used to, the report showed.

High school students who reported drinking in the past 12 months dropped from three in five in 2005 to two in five in 2014, and binge drinking was down from one in 10 to one in 20 over the same period.

The rate of 15 to 24-year-olds presenting at emergency departments with acute alcohol problems also declined from more than 3500 in 2007 to about 3000 in 2015.

“There are benefits to drinking aside from health. It’s part of Australian culture for many people. It’s how we celebrate birthdays and Christmases and socialise generally,” Dr Dunlop said.

Older generations needed to shed the misinformed belief that a glass of wine a day had any health benefit.

“That theory has been blown out of the water,” he said.

The tipping point between acceptable and risky drinking was also unclear for many people, Dr Dunlop suspected.

National guidelines recommend men and women drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce their lifetime risk of alcohol-related harms.

To reduce short-term risk of injury men and women should stick to no more than four standard drinks on any occasion.

NSW’s Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said it was encouraging to see decreasing numbers of adults drinking at levels that increase long-term risk of harm, but more needed to be done.

“[Excessive drinking] not only affects the drinker but can also contribute to relationship and family problems, public intoxication, and other criminal offences”, and increased the likelihood of aggressive behaviour, she said.

With Cassandra Morgan