100 years later, why don’t we commemorate the victims and heroes of “Spanish flu”?

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Peter Hobbins, ARC DECRA Fellow, University of Sydney

At Sydney’s enormous Rookwood Cemetery, a lichen-spotted headstone captures a family’s double burden of grief.

The grave contains the remains of 19-year-old Harriet Ann Ottaway, who died on 2 July 1919. Its monument also commemorates her brother Henry James Ottaway, who “died of wounds in Belgium, 23rd Sept 1917, aged 21 years”.

While Henry was killed at the infamous Battle of Passchendaele, Harriet’s headstone makes no mention of her own courageous combat with “Spanish flu”.

Harriet’s story typifies the enduring public silence around the pneumonic influenza pandemic of 1918–19. Worldwide, it killed an estimated 50-100 million people – at least three times all of the deaths caused by the First World War.

Read more: Why historians ignored the Spanish flu

After the disease came ashore in January 1919, about a third of all Australians were infected and the flu left nearly 15,000 dead in under a year. Those figures match the average annual death rate for the Australian Imperial Force throughout 1914–18.

Arguably, we could consider 1919 as another year of war, albeit against a new enemy. Indeed, the typical victims had similar profiles: fit, young adults aged 20-40. The major difference was that in 1919, women like Harriet formed a significant proportion of the casualties.

Read more: World politics explainer: The Great War (WWI)

Deadly flu spread rapidly

There was no doubt about the medical and social impact of the “Spanish flu”. Although its origins remain contested, it certainly didn’t arise in Spain. What is known is that by early 1918, a highly infectious respiratory disease, caused by a then-unknown agent, was moving rapidly across Europe and the United States. By the middle of that year, as the war was reaching a tipping point, it had spread to Africa, India and Asia.

About a third of the entire world’s population was infected with Spanish flu. Macleay Museum, Author provided

It also took on a much deadlier profile. While victims initially suffered the typical signs and symptoms of influenza – including aches, fever, coughing and an overwhelming weariness – a frighteningly high proportion went rapidly downhill.

Patients’ lungs filled with fluid – which is why it became known as “pneumonic influenza” – and they struggled to breathe. For nurses and doctors, a tell-tale sign of impending death was a blue, plum or mahogany colour in the victim’s cheeks.

This, sadly, was the fate of young Harriet Ottaway. Having nursed a dying aunt through early 1919, in June she tended her married sister Lillian, who had come down with pneumonic influenza.

Despite taking the recommended precautions, Harriet contracted the infection and died in hospital. Ironically, Lillian survived. But in the space of less than two years she had lost both a brother to the Great War and her younger sister to the Spanish flu.

An intimate impact worldwide

Indeed, as Harriet’s headstone reminds us, this was an intimate pandemic. The statistics can seem overwhelming until you realise what it means that about a third of the entire world’s population was infected.

Whatever your heritage, your ancestors and their communities were almost certainly touched by the disease. It’s a part of all of our family histories and many local histories.

Read more: How infectious diseases have shaped our culture, habits and language

It wasn’t just victims who were affected. Across Australia, regulations intended to reduce the spread and impact of the pandemic caused profound disruption. The nation’s quarantine system held back the flu for several months, meaning that a less deadly version came ashore in 1919.

But it caused delay and resentment for the 180,000 soldiers, nurses and partners who returned home by sea that year.

Leaflets like this one from Victoria tried to warn people of the dangers of Spanish flu. Board of Public Health, Victoria/Public Records Office of Victoria

Responses within Australia varied from state to state but the crisis often led to the closure of schools, churches, theatres, pubs, race meetings and agricultural shows, plus the delay of victory celebrations.

The result was not only economic hardship, but significant interruptions in education, entertainment, travel, shopping and worship. The funeral business boomed, however, as the nation’s annual death rate went up by approximately 25%.

Yet for some reason, the silence of Harriet’s headstone is repeated across the country. Compared with the Anzac memorials that peppered our towns and suburbs in the decades after the Great War, few monuments mark the impact of pneumonic influenza.

Nevertheless, its stories of suffering and sacrifice have been perpetuated in other ways, especially within family and community memories. A century later, these stories deserve to be researched and commemorated.

Read more: Speaking with: Peter Doherty about infectious disease pandemics

Despite the disruption, fear and substantial personal risk posed by the flu, tens of thousands of ordinary Australians rose to the challenge. The wartime spirit of volunteering and community service saw church groups, civic leaders, council workers, teachers, nurses and organisations such as the Red Cross step up.

They staffed relief depots and emergency hospitals, delivered comforts from pyjamas to soup, and cared for victims who were critically ill or convalescent. A substantial proportion of these courageous carers were women, at a time when many were being commanded to hand back their wartime jobs to returning servicemen.

In resurrecting stories such as the sad tale of Harriet Ottaway, it’s time to restore our memories of the “Spanish flu” and commemorate how our community came together to battle this unprecedented public crisis.

ref. 100 years later, why don’t we commemorate the victims and heroes of “Spanish flu”? – http://theconversation.com/100-years-later-why-dont-we-commemorate-the-victims-and-heroes-of-spanish-flu-109885

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Why are teachers mostly female? Because men get better pay in other professions

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Massimiliano Tani, Professor of Finance and Economics, UNSW

Women are considerably over-represented in the teaching profession. Recent data show, among recent Australian university graduates, 97% of pre-primary teachers, 85% of primary teachers and 68% of secondary teachers are female. Similarly, large proportions of women in teaching are also observed across the OECD.

The share of male teachers in Australia has been declining since 1977. What can explain this notable and persistent gender imbalance? Generally, it’s attributed to gender differences in occupational preferences and social roles.

Read more: Male teachers are an endangered species in Australia: new research

But our research suggests economic forces may be a key contributing factor. Understanding and addressing the reasons for the gender imbalance in teaching is important. It represents a distortion in this particular labour market. It could also send and perpetuate unhelpful signals about the career aspirations of men and women, to the detriment of both.

“It’s the labour market, silly!”

In a recent paper, we considered whether women (and men) choose to become teachers in line with or in spite of economic incentives. In the context of Australia, research shows the quality of people who choose to go into teaching responds to the relative wage distribution in the labour market. In other words, a higher wage attracts better quality teachers.

Our analysis investigated whether the gender composition in teaching reflects the relative wage distributions for women and men. In particular, we compared the salaries of women choosing to become teachers to that of women choosing other professions. We also carried out a similar analysis for men.

This approach helps explain the observed gender distribution. For men, the opportunity cost of becoming a teacher relative to choosing another profession is high. Men give up a higher potential salary by choosing teaching over a non-teaching career.

For women, the opposite occurs. Average salaries are lower in non-teaching occupations, so the choice to become a teacher comes at a substantially lower opportunity cost. It can even be a more profitable career choice than others because for women with a Bachelor of Arts (BA), teaching is one of the best paying jobs.

Read more: We need to support more men to become primary teachers

This suggests wage structures in the labour market underpin occupational choices. Men and women face different trade-offs and opportunity costs when choosing careers. This may contribute to the observed concentration of women – or feminisation — in certain occupations.

Clearly, the concentration of women in teaching is problematic from a gender equality perspective. Parents, students and schools value the exposure to a diverse workforce that is more representative of society.

What can be done to attract more men to teaching?

A seemingly obvious solution is to increase teachers’ salaries across the board. But this may, in fact, raise the concentration of women in teaching even more. Higher salaries would further increase the returns in teaching relative to other professions for women.

Raising salaries for all teachers wouldn’t necessarily encourage more men to go into teaching. from www.shutterstock.com

But it would have a small or negligible impact on the returns for men. Men would continue to be attracted to the higher salaries in professions other than teaching.

Efforts to raise the share of male teachers are likely to have limited success until the underlying structural economic incentives are addressed. That is, the higher wages in non-teaching jobs, which tend to pull men away from teaching.

Read more: Primary schools are losing more and more male teachers, so how can we retain them?

Discussions around the gender composition of different occupations, particularly teaching, tend to focus on factors such as gender predisposition, social influences and job attributes, such as greater flexibility and work-life balance. These factors may play an important role to varying degrees, but reviewing and reforming the monetary incentives which influence gender segregation in occupations is a good starting point.

Additional ways we could address this are by:

  • providing additional scholarships for men in teaching
  • ensuring teaching career plans fulfil the ambitions and expectations of both male and female teachers
  • improving the image of teaching as an essential job to enhance a society.

ref. Why are teachers mostly female? Because men get better pay in other professions – http://theconversation.com/why-are-teachers-mostly-female-because-men-get-better-pay-in-other-professions-109569

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

View from The Hill: O’Dwyer’s decision turns the spotlight onto Bishop

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The political down time over summer can be something of a respite for an embattled government. But for Scott Morrison, it has just brought more setbacks. The weekend announcement by cabinet minister Kelly O’Dwyer that she will leave parliament at the election is the latest and most serious.

O’Dwyer says she wants to see more of her two young children, and would like to have a third, which involves medical challenges.

Her decision is understandable. The first woman to have a baby while a federal cabinet minister has been juggling an enormous load.

But with the general expectation that the Morrison government is headed for opposition, many people will think (rightly or wrongly) that O’Dwyer was also influenced by the likelihood she faced the grind of opposition, which is a lot less satisfying than the burden of office.

Bad timing for the minister for women

Her insistence at Saturday’s joint news conference with Morrison that he will win the election won’t convince anyone.

If the Liberals didn’t have their acute “woman problem”, O’Dwyer’s jumping ship wouldn’t be such a concern. She’s been a competent minister, not an outstanding performer. She was not in “future leader” lists.

But it’s altogether another matter to have your minister for women bailing out when there has been a huge argument about the dearth of females in Coalition ranks, damaging allegations of bullying within the Liberal party, and high profile Victorian backbencher Julia Banks deserting to the crossbench.

All in all, the Liberal party is presenting a very poor face to women voters. It was O’Dwyer herself who told colleagues last year that the Liberals were widely regarded as “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.

Anti-women climate-change deniers?

An effort earlier this month to have assistant ministers Sarah Henderson and Linda Reynolds talk up the Liberals’ credentials on women looked like the gimmick it was.

O’Dwyer says she has “no doubt” her successor as the Higgins candidate will be a woman. Morrison also says he thinks there will be a female replacement.

But this just highlights how the Liberal party’s failure to bring enough women through the ranks now forces it into unfortunate corners.

The candidate will be chosen by a local preselection. As one journalist quipped at the news conference, is the situation that blokes needn’t apply?

And what if a man happened to win? Remember Morrison’s experience in the Wentworth byelection, where he wanted a woman and the preselectors gave him Dave Sharma?

Read more: Grattan on Friday: Wentworth preselectors’ rebuff to Morrison caps week of mayhem

Sharma was generally considered a good candidate – and Morrison is happy for him to have his second try against independent Kerryn Phelps at the general election.

Assuming, however, that Higgins preselectors heed the gender call, it seems they will have some strong female contenders to choose from.

Paediatrician Katie Allen, who contested the state election, has flagged she will run; Victorian senator Jane Hume is considering a tilt.

There is inevitable speculation about whether former Abbott chief- of-staff Peta Credlin might chance her arm for preselection.

But her hard-edged political stance would be a risk in an electorate where the Greens have been strong – savvy Liberals point out a climate sceptic wouldn’t play well there. And it would be embarrassing for her if she ran for preselection and was defeated.

O’Dwyer rejects the suggestion she was swayed by the possibility she might lose Higgins. Some Liberals were pessimistic about the seat after the party’s drubbing in the Victorian election, and Labor was ahead in two-party terms in a poll it commissioned late last year.

Read more: Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer says Liberals were ‘subject to threats’ in leadership battle

But the government has a 10% margin in two-party terms against Labor, and despite the polling the ALP doesn’t expect to win the seat. (In 2016 the Greens finished second.)

O’Dwyer, who is also minister for jobs and industrial relations, remains in her positions and in cabinet until the election. Understandably Morrison would not want a reshuffle. But having a lame duck minister in the important IR portfolio is less than optimal.

Attention turns to Bishop

Inevitably O’Dwyer’s announcement has turned attention onto the future of former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop. Bishop has said she is contesting the election but there is continuing speculation she might withdraw.

While she has previously left open the possibility of running for the opposition leadership this makes no sense.

Now in her early 60s, her chances of ever becoming PM would be virtually nil if Labor won with a good majority and was set for two terms. That’s if she had the numbers to get the leadership in the first place.

It is assumed Bishop has said she’s staying so she stymies any replacement she doesn’t want (such as attorney-general Christian Porter whose own seat is at risk) and can secure a candidate she favours.

Even though she’s a backbencher now, it would be a another blow for the Liberals if Bishop does decide to retire at the election.

Read more: Julie Bishop goes to backbench, Marise Payne becomes new foreign minister

She was humiliated when she received only a handful of votes in the August leadership ballot. Her treatment left her deeply angry, especially because none of her Western Australian colleagues supported her.

But out in the community she is very popular and many voters still can’t understand why, when there was a change of prime minister, she was not the one chosen.

If Bishop were to walk away, she would be making a rational decision. But it would send another powerful negative vibe to voters about the Liberal party and women.

ref. View from The Hill: O’Dwyer’s decision turns the spotlight onto Bishop – http://theconversation.com/view-from-the-hill-odwyers-decision-turns-the-spotlight-onto-bishop-110159

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Deer Woman is a work of immense power and restraint

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Caroline Wake, Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance, UNSW

Review: Deer Woman, Sydney Festival

One of the most exhilarating things about Wesley Enoch’s tenure as Artistic Director of the Sydney Festival has been the huge increase in the number of First Nations artists programmed, not only from Australia but also Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. Festival audiences have had the opportunity not only to witness a local festival being decolonised, but also to listen to an increasingly global dialogue through and about First Nations performance.

Like Gabriel Dharmoo’s Anthropologies Imaginaires and Cliff Cardinal’s Huff in the 2017 festival, Deer Woman is a work written, directed, designed, composed, stage managed and performed by First Nations artists from Canada. And like these works, it too is anchored by a solo performance of fierce skill, focus and precision.

On entering the theatre, we see a sparse set: two screens stand at roughly 45 degrees to the audience and 90 degrees to each other; in between the screens, there is a camera on a tripod and a blue cooler. The screens display infrared footage of deer nosing about in the forest, their eyes glowing green. In the background, the Everly Brothers croon “Devoted to You,” “Walk Right Back,” and “Love Hurts.” The harmonies are beautiful but the titles and lyrics do not bode well.

Throughout Deer Woman, Cherish Violet Blood expertly balances the demands of cinematic and theatrical acting. Prudence Upton

Silence falls, except for the crickets, and Lila (played by Cherish Violet Blood) enters from between the screens. She puts on a hoody, opens the cooler, pulls out a can and cracks it open. It gives a satisfying hiss. “Hey, I’m back,” she says – apparently, we have already been conversing.

Having established that we are in the middle of something – though we are not sure what – Lila begins to set the scene. The first act introduces us to Lila’s girlfriend, Gloria. Lila tells how Gloria, who works at a halfway house, got free tickets to a performance and decided to take the women for an outing. Unbeknownst to her, it featured a woman hanging on a meat hook while a man fisted her. The audience gasps at the inappropriateness, but we are not off the metaphorical hook either.

Instead, Lila teases us about going to see the show, crying a little bit, exclaiming over its “power” and “importance,” and heading home feeling like a good person. “Enjoy your pain porno!” shouts Gloria as she and the women leave at interval. We, on the other hand, have already been warned that Deer Woman has no interval. How are we going to negotiate the next 90 minutes?

This mood of teasing, daring and warning the audience shifts into something happier in the second act. Lila stands – finally – and takes us back to her childhood. Her favourite people are Aunty Gary – her mother’s queer brother, who is described as “our only uncle and aunty; we’re really lucky he’s both” – and her sister Hammy.

We then learn about Lila’s sexual abuse, which she decides she can take as long as it keeps her little sister safe, and her young adulthood in the army. It is while she is away that Hammy goes missing. It seems that Lila was protecting a country that still does not protect its own. The third act deals with the aftermath of Hammy’s disappearance, including Lila’s detailed plans for revenge.

Deer Woman is a work of immense power – to invoke the theatregoer mocked in the first act – but also restraint. Tara Beagan’s script is immaculately structured, and the language is striking for its specificity (welfare pops, Gretzy, the Chinook, the Sally Ann), poetry (Bob is as “quiet as a stump” and Gary is a “pessimistic cheerleader”), and bleak humour (Gloria claims to attend the “uni of life – you graduate by not getting killed”).

Deer Woman excels because of its solo performer, Cherish Violet Blood. Prudence Upton

The set, by director and designer Andy Moro, is similarly effective. Most of the time, the live performer and the two screens are in sync but occasionally they decouple. One screen might dissolve into footage of the fairground while the other screen might freeze Blood’s face wearing a particular expression. The sound design is similarly understated: we hear the distant cries of people enjoying rides, crowds at a rally, and one sister singing the other to sleep.

None of this would matter though if the wrong person were cast as Lila and Deer Woman excels because Blood does. Throughout the entire show, Blood expertly balances the demands of cinematic and theatrical acting, combining subtle facial gestures within the frame with expansive physical ones beyond it. It is a consummate performance that oscillates between entertaining, confessing to, disciplining, daring and playing with the audience.

Within the context of this year’s festival, Deer Woman serves as an important counterpoint to Adam Lazarus’s Daughter, one of the most conservative shows – in form, content and politics – I have seen in some time. Indeed, I could not help but think of Daughter in the opening scenes, when Lila is describing Gloria’s disastrous outing to the theatre, which features a “white guy saying real rank stuff”. While both shows are solo performances that deal with gender and sexual violence, that is where the similarities end.

Whereas Daughter employs theatre to amplify the loudest voice in the room, i.e. that of the privileged straight man, Deer Woman puts a queer woman of colour centre-stage, has her survey the room and speak her desire to destroy it. Indeed, rather than the violence against women, it seemed to be the idea of women taking revenge that shocked the audience. People who had been sitting forward started to lean back, several people walked out, and one woman muttered to her companion “this is horrible.”

Deer Woman features a sparse set. Prudence Upton

Companies often grant reviewers only one ticket, meaning that I regularly see theatre by myself. When a show finishes I always walk briskly and purposefully to the car park or train station, informed by a lifetime of banal advice: walk as if someone is expecting you, keep your keys at the ready, call someone on your phone, don’t wear headphones, do wear shoes you can run in if need be.

But on the night of Deer Woman, I walk more slowly, open my chest and shoulders, feel the strength in my back. There is an army of big sisters out there, I think to myself, and we are coming for you. In the morning, news of Aiia Maasarwe’s murder would break and I would shrink back to my normal size. But for one glorious moment, I was – like Deer Woman – wild and free.

Deer Woman is being staged as part of the Sydney Festival until January 20.

ref. Deer Woman is a work of immense power and restraint – http://theconversation.com/deer-woman-is-a-work-of-immense-power-and-restraint-110096

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Refuge City, a new kind of city for our times

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Julian Bolleter, Deputy Director, Australian Urban Design Research Centre, University of Western Australia

Australia is one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world. Nonetheless, in recent times many Australians have come to regard population growth, and particularly immigration, as a problem – at best – to be solved. In contrast, we believe population growth and migration present a creative opportunity to shape new Australian cities unlike any we have built to date.

In a globalised economy where technology has prevailed over geography, Australians are natural global citizens. However, all is not well in multicultural Australia. Recent and credible polling indicates that 64% of Australians think the level of immigration over the past decade has been too high – up from 50% in 2016.

Read more: Australians think immigration should be cut? Well, it depends on how you ask

We believe such opinions (in part) stem from entrenched migration patterns. Currently 90% of new arrivals settle in Sydney or Melbourne where they compound housing affordability and congestion issues, among others. Migrants from overseas are the main contributors to both cities’ populations growing by over 100,000 people each year.

In response to these issues, the Morrison government is considering a plan requiring some new migrants, including refugees, to settle for up to five years in regional areas.

However, there are limits to this approach. Voting patterns indicate Australians in regional Australia are also often resistant to increased migration. Moreover, the mechanisation and automation of farming mean that jobs are often scarce.

So what can Australia do?

Australia will need more drastic solutions over the longer term. Refugees now number over 25 million people worldwide. Due to climate change alone a deluge of refugees is predicted by 2050, particularly in Asia – 144 million in China, 63 million in India and 62 million in Bangladesh.

In the face of this, demographer Bernard Salt asks:

What does Australia do? Board and turn back every boat? Leave the refugees without support on the Kimberley coast? Plan to help as many as we can and then hope we can ship back tens of thousands of people?

Clearly, Australia will need a plan to deal with this situation, particularly given the panic over the arrival of small numbers of “boat people” and the Coalition government reducing immigration to the lowest level in more than a decade. We could bemoan a lack of support for increased immigration in Australia, or instead bear this resistance in mind and try to find a creative (part) solution.

This is where our Refuge City model is potentially instructive. As Robert Wiblin has urged in the past:

If Australians are not so enthusiastic about sharing their good luck with refugees [and migrants], a charter city administered by Australia will at least allow them access to the governmental and legal institutions which have served Australia so well.

In line with this sentiment, we have designed an urban model for a bustling, multicultural and entrepreneurial metropolis located on Australia’s northern coast which would run under its own charter. Such a city would provide refuge and opportunity for many migrants, above and beyond what Australia already accepts through its humanitarian migration program.

An indicative plan for Refuge City. ‘Future Making’ students and staff, University of Western Australia

Read more: New cities? It’s an idea worth thinking about for Australia

A city of cities on the north coast

Why the northern coast? We selected this area because it has many advantages, such as proximity to rapidly growing Indonesia, availability of mineral and energy resources, and – in the case of the Northern Territory – Commonwealth control of land. This is important because it gives the federal government full legislative power to create a charter city unconstrained by opposition from the states.

Refuge City would comprise dense, car-phobic and adaptable urban neighbourhoods (of up to 32,000 people) based partly on migrant ethnicities – forming a city of cities, rather than a monolithic mass of urbanism.

A city of cities: a model of the proposed Refuge City. ‘Future Making’ students and staff, University of Western Australia

As required, this form would enable different cultural groups to follow many of their own cultural practices and develop a measure of self sufficiency. The design of these neighbourhoods would be developed with the communities and would reference – within limits – the urban traditions of the residents’ home countries so to provide a “home away from home”.

A cross-section view of a Refuge City neighbourhood. Nur Mohd Rozlan, Author provided

Rather than the cultural model of the “melting pot” – which is under assault in many cities of the world – these urban neighbourhoods would cradle islands of relative cultural specificity yet maintain an overall cultural diversity. Natural areas, recreational open spaces and schools would provide crucial interstitial spaces between the urban islands and their respective communities. Moreover, an integrated bus system and a wide distribution of jobs would also stimulate interactions between communities. This will moderate the cultural specificity of the urban islands over time.

The design of each city neighbourhood will reference the urban traditions of the residents’ home countries. ‘Future Making’ students and staff, University of Western Australia

Adapting the charter city model

Like other charter cities such as Shenzen, an independent government would govern the city, running it with respect to a specific charter. The autonomous government will incorporate an alliance of representatives from Australia’s federal and territory governments and potentially other countries within the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Read more: Xiong’an, Xi Jinping’s new city-making machine turned on

The charter’s terms, which will define the city’s operation, include a much lower personal and company tax regime than elsewhere in Australia, to stimulate investment and jobs. Businesses would pay workers the Australian minimum wage but would not otherwise offer award wages or conditions. Complementing this will be a basic but liveable social security, housing, education and primary health care system.

On arrival, migrants would receive a temporary visa. They would be able to apply for a skilled migration visa if they gain marketable skills from the city’s trade schools and university campuses, or a permanent business visa if they establish a successful business (both business and education would be conducted in English).

Moreover the city would avoid the need for mandatory offshore detention of arrivals by boat, which the UN Human Rights Council has condemned as a “massive abuse” of migrants. This has in turn profoundly damaged Australia’s moral authority globally. Despite our tarnished reputation, Australian residents would be welcome in Refuge City, whether as students attending global university hubs, starting a business, or enjoying the city’s bustling diversity while on a weekend getaway. Conversely, Refuge City residents would also be able to visit other Australian cities, and in particular Darwin.

Through a leasehold model, Indigenous landholders would maintain ownership of Refuge City land and gain a sustainable and substantial rental income from it. This is not unprecedented. Canberra embodies a similar system, with all land leased to “owners” as a Crown lease.

Moreover, given Indigenous culture’s continuing ownership and intimate knowledge of the land, we would develop the Refuge City designs with land councils. Without such sincere engagement, traditional owners would rightly veto new city development under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

Through our Refuge City model Australians could aid many more refugees than they would otherwise accept as fully fledged immigrants to the existing cities. In so doing, we could make Australia the world’s great 21st-century refuge.

Refuge City montage. By Julian Bolleter based on a photo by Ludo Kuipers, Author provided

Read more: Australia, a nation in need of compassion-focused therapy

ref. Refuge City, a new kind of city for our times – http://theconversation.com/refuge-city-a-new-kind-of-city-for-our-times-106992

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Back to work? Take lunch from home to save time and money – and boost your mood

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle

Heading back to work after the holidays means turning your thoughts to what’s for lunch. Are you a meticulous lunch planner, or do you only make a decision once those first hunger pangs signal it’s lunchtime?

Whether you bring lunch from home or buy it from a staff canteen or food outlet will depend on the availability of food nearby and whether you have a workplace kitchen with a fridge, microwave and sandwich press.

While it’s easy for work lunch to be an afterthought, there are multiple advantages to bringing your lunch from home and eating in a staff room, rather than at your desk.

Read more: What is a balanced diet anyway?

Planning healthy lunches and eating with others can lower your stress, improve your work performance and help your bank balance – not to mention improve your overall nutrition.

Being organised is worth it

Planning meals for the week ahead gives you more control of your food choices.

The most recent national nutrition survey of 4,500 adults found those who “grazed”, rather than ate regular meals, had poorer diets and were more likely to carry excess weight.

Rather than thinking about your options at lunchtime, plan and shop for the week ahead. Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

A 2017 French study of 40,000 adults found those who planned their meals were 13% more likely to have the healthiest eating patterns and 25% more likely to consume a better variety of healthy foods, compared to those who didn’t plan.

The planners also had about a 20% lower risk of having obesity. But we need to keep in mind that this is an association and does not prove causation.

Read more: Want to be happier, healthier, save money? It’s time to get cooking

Even doctors report that poor nutrition at work makes them feel irritable, tired, hungry, frustrated and unwell. It makes it harder for them to concentrate, and affects their performance and decision-making.

Workplace interventions to promote healthier eating have included nutrition education, support or counselling to help change behaviours, personalised feedback on nutrition and/or workplace changes such as increased availability of healthier meals, vegetables, fruit and water. These programs have led to small but positive improvements in dietary patterns, lifestyle choices and feelings of wellness.

One study found eating with others at work helped promote social cohesion and boosted poeple’s sense of well-being.

In another study that followed 39,000 Thai adults over four years, researchers found those who ate by themselves were more likely to be unhappy.

Company is food for the mind. Shutterstock

Put happy food in your lunch box

Having a healthy diet may lower the risk of developing depression, according to a review of the research into diet and depression, which pooled results from 21 studies involving 117,229 people.

The researchers found high intakes of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy products, and low intakes of animal foods, were associated with a lower risk of depression.

A greater risk was linked to high intakes of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, lollies, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes, gravies and low intakes of vegetables and fruit.

In a program aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intakes in young adults, those who were given two extra serves to eat each day reported an increase in vitality, well-being and motivation compared to those told to stick to their usual (low) intakes.

Take fruit you actually like, even if it’s a bit more expensive. Alliance/Shutterstock

Interestingly, participants who were given vouchers to purchase more vegetables and fruit, and sent text message reminders to eat more of them, didn’t increase their fruit and vegetable intake as much as those who were actually given the extra serves.

So having the healthy foods available is key to eating them.

Take lunch to save money

Preparing food at home saves you money. A survey of 437 adults in the United States found those who prepared meals at home more often spent less money on food away from home, less money on food overall, and had healthier dietary intakes.

Australian research shows eating healthily can be more affordable than eating unhealthy foods.

The image below shows the ingredients to make five work lunches that incorporate:

  • 3 serves of salad/vegetables
  • 2 pieces of fruit
  • a tub yoghurt or cheese
  • vegetable sticks with some dip for snacks.

Plan a lunch menu, write a matching shopping list and start saving money. Bronte Goddensmith 2019

This costs about A$7.50 a day. If you bought a fast-food lunch plus a couple of snacks it could cost A$10-A$15 or more each day.

Over a year, the savings from bringing lunch from home versus buying it adds up to A$600 to A$1,800 for one person.

Read more: We asked five experts: is cheese bad for you?

Pack a healthy lunchbox the night before

You need to be organised to take your own lunch so other factors that influence your food choices don’t hijack good intentions. Try these tips:

1) plan your lunches for the week – write a matching shopping list so you have all the ingredient at your fingertips

2) invest in a lunchbox – pack it the night before and put it in the fridge. That way you minimise time needed in the morning to make lunch

Be creative so it’s easy to eat healthy food at work. Image from Rijk Zwaan 2018

3) try a lunch of leftovers – as you clear away the evening meal, pack leftovers into microwave safe storage containers and refrigerate

4) portion out healthy snacks in small containers – this could include nuts, dip and vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, baby corn, snack cucumbers and carrot sticks.

5) buy a range of fruits you really like – relative to the cost of snacks from vending machines, it’s less expensive and much better for you

6) try making a stack of sandwiches, such as curried egg or cheese on weekends and freeze them

7) make a mini-salad in a snaplock bag using baby cos lettuce cups, cherry tomatoes and capsicum so you can grab and go

8) freeze bottles of water and add one or two to you lunch box to keep food cool on your way to work.

ref. Back to work? Take lunch from home to save time and money – and boost your mood – http://theconversation.com/back-to-work-take-lunch-from-home-to-save-time-and-money-and-boost-your-mood-107717

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

It’s designers who can make gaming more accessible for people living with disabilities

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Ben Egliston, PhD candidate in Media and Communications, University of Sydney

Anyone can play video games, right?

If you’ve been following recent buzz in the gaming industry, you might be under the impression that video games are more accessible than they’ve ever been. Popular talking points include how video game audiences are increasingly large and diverse.

This perception is due, in large part (as games researcher Jesper Juul identifies), to the rise of more user-friendly interfaces that bypass many of the roadblocks associated with controller “literacy”. (For example, knowing that if you want your avatar to jump further you need to hold the jump button down rather than just press it.)

Read more: Game therapy: serious video games can help children with cerebral palsy

It’s true that more people are now able to play games without such a high degree of prior gaming knowledge – thanks to haptic play on mobile devices and natural interfaces on videogame consoles, such as those displayed by the recent Nintendo Switch or Sony’s PlaystationVR. These control schemes are more intuitive, and far less reliant on players accumulating controller literacy.

But despite the celebratory discourse around gaming’s increased accessibility, serious efforts to make gaming accessible to people living with disability remain rare.

The videogame industry needs to improve in this area. And that depends on changing the assumptions made at a design level about who plays video games.

Videogame designers make assumptions about the body

We know that people with disabilities play videogames – and make money by livestreaming their play as well as competing in e-sports tournaments.

AbleGamers is an organisation that advocates for disabled gamers, and it estimates there to be around 33 million gamers with disabilities in the United States alone.

But recent media reports suggest that people living with a disability face barriers to entry formed by inaccessible technologies.

All video games – from those played on a PlayStation 4 to an Oculus Rift – are technologies of the body. We scan movements on the screen with our eyes, grip controllers with our hands, rapidly tap buttons with our fingers, and so on.

But the assumption that everyone who plays video games has a body that functions in the same way can be exclusionary for gamers living with a disability.

Pokemon Let’s GO features motion-based controls for capturing Pokemon. from www.shutterstock.com

The current state of play

One aspect of Ablegamers work involves evaluating video games from a disability perspective.

For example, its evaluation of the Nintendo Switch points out some usability issues for disabled players. Its report addresses the Switch controller’s inability to reprogram buttons – a function necessary for those unable to use the traditional configuration.

It also addresses an inability to change screen font sizes, a potential issue for players with visual impairments. These issues underline how the Switch’s design is based on normative assumptions about the bodies that will use it.

AbleGamers has published an open access manual for more inclusive game design.

Read more: How playing video games can change your retirement

Aside from the hardware, there can also be usability issues within games themselves. A number of games released in 2018 exemplify a lack of accessibility.

For example, the recent Spyro Reignited Trilogy for current generation consoles did not feature subtitles. Subtitles are a necessity for deaf players, and an option in many contemporary games.

Another of the year’s most hotly anticipated releases, Pokemon: Let’s GO, featured motion-based controls for capturing Pokemon. As one of the main game play features, this has created a number of accessibility issues for players with physical disabilities unable to perform the requisite gesture.

In both of these instances, and indeed in many more, considerations of disability have been sidelined, and players with disabilities potentially excluded from play.

How is this being redressed?

There have been some recent advances by game developers which seek to increase accessibility.

This year Microsoft has released its “Adaptive Controller” for the Xbox One, which is designed to redress accessibility issues present with the Xbox One’s standard controller. As the controller’s advertising copy reads:

Designed primarily to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility, the Xbox Adaptive Controller features large programmable buttons and connects to external switches, buttons, mounts and joysticks to help make gaming more accessible.

The Xbox adaptive controller provides more options for players. Xbox

For the most part, though, players are still incredibly reliant on third-party developers to create specialised devices, which can be costly. For example, one device used by a quadriplegic Dota 2 streamer costs $449. This creates potential economic barriers for players with disabilities.

As researchers David Wästerfors and Kristofer Hansson point out, players with disabilities are also creating their own specialised controllers.

But shouldn’t the onus be on game developers to make gaming accessible?

Read more: Stay alive, and if something moves, shoot it: one year of phenomenal success for Fortnite

Awareness at design level

Redressing a tendency to marginalise disability in games requires much more awareness of disability at a design level.

“Game engines” – the tools used for the creation of video games – are already encouraging accessibility. Epic Games’s Unreal Engine 4 is a good case in point. This engine allows game developers to see what their game would look like with various forms of colour blindness, enabling them to more diligently incorporate disability into game design.

We need to see more of this in the industry.

In 2018, video games are culturally significant, and central to the lives of many. It’s crucial that, within the context of broader conversations about gaming and exclusion, we take issues of disability and accessibility in gaming seriously.

The stakes of being excluded will only increase, as videogames become more central in our everyday lives.

ref. It’s designers who can make gaming more accessible for people living with disabilities – http://theconversation.com/its-designers-who-can-make-gaming-more-accessible-for-people-living-with-disabilities-107594

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

What’s the deal (or no-deal) with Brexit? Here’s everything explained

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Giovanni Di Lieto, Lecturer of international trade law, Monash Business School, Monash University

On June 23, 2016 the United Kingdom held a referendum to decide whether it should leave or remain in the European Union. More than 30 million people took part in the vote with 51.9% choosing to leave and 48.1% to remain.

Six months later, the new Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a speech in which she said:

the British people voted for change… And it is the job of this government to deliver it.

Where it got messy is deciding how to leave the Union. Would it be a clean break, the so-called hard Brexit, or a softer version where some links to the EU remained?

But first, a bit about the EU

The European Union is an economic and political partnership of 28 European countries across the whole continent, including France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, the UK and Ireland. It operates under a “single market” which means goods, services, capitals and people can move around as if the member states were one country.

Nineteen of the member countries, not including the UK, share a common currency, the Euro. The EU also has its own parliament which sets rules in areas including the environment, transport and consumer rights.

The European Union is made up of 28 member states. Reuters

May’s hard Brexit strategy

Theresa May’s vision for leaving the European Union came in a Brexit White Paper, which she delivered to Parliament on February 2, 2017. The paper explained that, in negotiating the exit with the EU, the UK would:

  • not be seeking membership of the EU’s single market
  • pursue a new strategic partnership with the EU
  • pursue a new customs arrangement with the EU to secure new trade agreements with other countries bilaterally and in wider groupings.

In substance, this white paper is a clear indication for the hard Brexit option. A soft Brexit would be where the UK would somehow remain in the European single market, or at the very least become an external member of the EU Customs Union. This is the case for Turkey and some micro-nations including Monaco, Andorra and San Marino.

Read more: Experts read the Brexit white paper – so you don’t have to

A customs union is an arrangement between two or more countries which allows goods to circulate freely in the area of the union. This is done by removing tariffs between the countries inside the union and introducing a common external tariff for the countries outside the union.

A customs union does not cover trade in services and flows of capital and people. But the treaties that have established the EU enshrine the single market (of which the customs union is a component) in four inextricable pillars: the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. For the EU this is an all-or-nothing package, so that single market members cannot pick and choose only some of the four freedoms.

Hard or soft, deal or no deal?

The issue of a hard or soft Brexit is different from that of the deal, or no-deal, Brexit. The first issue has already been set: it’s a hard Brexit, as Theresa May is not seeking membership of both the EU single market and Customs Union.

May isn’t seeking for the UK to remain part of the European Customs Union. Picture taken in UK specialty store in Berlin by Clemens Bilan

This allows the UK to independently negotiate international trade agreements either with individual countries or other customs unions after the UK’s official withdrawal date: March, 29 2019. After this date, the UK and EU may or may not strike a deal on what happens next.

So, the post-withdrawal arrangements with the EU comprise the deal or no-deal issue currently at stake: will the UK crash out of the EU with or without shared plans, and with or without a gradual implementation period?

The Brexit deal

Both the UK government and the EU governing bodies clearly prefer to split with a deal and a more gradual separation process. To this aim, the two sides have spent nearly two years in the painstaking negotiation of a withdrawal agreement.

This is the now infamous “Brexit deal” – a 585-page legally-binding text agreed to by the EU and UK government on November, 14 2018. The deal sets the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU and can only enter into force once ratified by the UK parliament.

But, on January 15, 2019 Britain’s House of Commons rejected the Brexit deal by a stunning and unprecedented majority of 230. More than one third of Theresa May’s majority MPs joined the opposition parties against the Brexit deal despite confirming their confidence on the government the following day.

Read more: Theresa May Brexit deal hammered in parliament, but be wary of prospects of a new ‘consensus’ approach

So what’s the problem with the deal?

Like in an actual divorce, the rejected agreement sets the terms for splitting the assets, liabilities and people shared across the two sides. Leaving aside the numerous legal resolutions especially affecting commerce, the deal in particular defines how much money the UK owes the EU and the terms under which the estimated £39bn will be paid.

Theresa May’s deal (between the EU and the UK) on Brexit was shot down by a majority in the House of Commons. Parliamentary Recording Unit Handout/EPA

The deal also preserves the existing residency and working rights of UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and of the EU citizens living in the UK up until the end of the Brexit implementation period set for 31 December 2020.

But the thorniest issue of the Brexit deal, and the one that proved to be its major fault line, is the proposed method of avoiding the return of a physical border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – an EU member state.

Ireland is split in two, and there are no hard borders as long as everyone is part of the EU. from shutterstock.com

The Northern Ireland backstop

The island of Ireland is divided into two separate entities: the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent nation member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK and has 18 seats in the UK parliament.

The Northern Ireland backstop is a convoluted measure of last resort to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland until the UK and the EU can find a long-term solution for an indefinite period – even after the expiration of the Brexit implementation period (December, 31 2020).

The fact is – with or without the Brexit deal – the Brexit White Paper’s outline to stay outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union means that, eventually, a physical border will reappear on the island of Ireland.

Read more: Would staying in a customs union after Brexit avoid a hard border with Ireland?

This is an ominous prospect as memories of the “Troubles”, the bloody Northern Ireland conflict triggered by border clashes in the late 1960s – between the majority unionist or UK loyalist Protestant population and the minority Catholic or Irish nationalist one – are still fresh.

Over the years the UK and Ireland’s EU membership eliminated any hard borders in Ireland. This played a major part in spelling the end of the Troubles in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which is also based on keeping the whole of Ireland border-free.

A hard Brexit repudiates one of the cornerstones of the Good Friday Agreements and, short of a customs union with the EU, any deal would only kick the can down the road. Theresa May’s proposed solution is the Irish border Brexit backstop.

Conservative Brexit hardliners and the Northern Irish Democratic Union Party voted against Theresa May’s deal. PAUL MCERLANE/EPA

It’s called a backstop precisely because it pushes the UK border with the EU back away from Northern Ireland. This would mean Northern Ireland would all but remain subject to the EU legal framework and be kept virtually separate from the rest of the UK for an indefinite time.

And this is why the conservative Brexit hardliners, and the small but indispensable Northern Irish Democratic Union Party (DUP), voted against Theresa May’s deal. Despite the fact a majority of Northern Irish voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, the DUP fears the backstop would provide momentum to those who wish to reunify Ireland.

Read more: Brexit and Northern Ireland: the latest commitments explained

On the other hand, despite Theresa May’s insistence, the EU is not providing any legally binding guarantee of a definite expiry date for the Irish backstop. The EU’s strategic game is clear, as the continuing existence of the Irish backstop provides yet another strong negotiating chip in respect to any future dealings with the UK.

So what are the alternatives to Theresa May’s hard Brexit deal? Wild guesses include delaying or withdrawing the withdrawal, so to speak, while some even call for a second Brexit referendum. Considering the political uncertainties and legal realities, any guess is little more than wishful thinking.

ref. What’s the deal (or no-deal) with Brexit? Here’s everything explained – http://theconversation.com/whats-the-deal-or-no-deal-with-brexit-heres-everything-explained-110024

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Aged care royal commission benefits Generation X: it’s too late for the silent generation

Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Joseph Ibrahim, Professor, Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University

A surprising group of people stand to benefit from the aged care royal commission, whose hearings start today. These are residents of nursing homes in the far future — people in their 50s and 60s, and their children. How is that possible?

All current nursing home residents the royal commission was established to help will have died before there is any substantive change.

The latest statistics show there are 207,142 older people living in 2,695 facilities owned by 902 different providers. These providers receive more than A$11.2 billion a year from the commonwealth government. A total of 57,769 residents, or more than 27%, die every year.

Read more: Many older people in care die prematurely, and not from natural causes

Residents on average live in nursing homes for two years and six months. This is shorter than the average of three to five years it takes for most royal commissions to form, investigate, conclude and deliver their recommendations.

How did we get here?

It’s been a long road to this royal commission, paved with repeated shocking and disturbing episodes of neglect, abuse and poor care for our vulnerable elderly parents, grandparents and neighbours in residential care.

However, Oakden was the final straw. The South Australian aged care mental health facility closed in 2017 following revelations of abuse and neglect dating back a decade.

Read more: Too many Australians living in nursing homes take their own lives

This royal commission has its genesis in the 1997 Aged Care Act. Perhaps its greatest failing was a lack of an explicit single national common standard and understanding of the purpose of residential aged care facilities. That is what should be achieved for the person who becomes a resident.

We all understand the purpose of child care, schools, hospitals and prisons. We judge these by how they improve the lives and well-being of people they serve. However, the absence of a common positive social understanding of the purpose of nursing homes contributes to the community’s inability to judge how well they perform. The Act describes nursing homes’ tasks, activities and services but this is not enough.

Evidence was there, but not acted on

Another important and under-recognised factor is that the decade the Aged Care Act was written coincided with new thinking around patient safety, evidence-based practice and clinical governance.

However, over the next two decades, successive governments, regulators and providers did not manage to actively or sufficiently apply this new knowledge to practice. That includes evidence from premature deaths investigated by coroners across Australia.

Read more: What is ‘quality’ in aged care? Here’s what studies (and our readers) say

For instance, Riverside nursing home’s licence was revoked after 57 residents had kerosene added to baths in January 2000 to control an outbreak of scabies. A fundamental contributing factor was the failure to apply up-to-date evidence. We’d known about a better treatment for scabies since 1931.

Read more: There’s no need to lock older people into nursing homes ‘for their own safety’

In Quakers Hill, a recently employed registered nurse admitted to deliberately lighting a fire that killed 14 people. Contributing factors included the failure of clinical governance systems to recognise and assist impaired health professionals; and a lack of scrutiny of the employee’s qualifications and credentials.

And in Victoria, staff failed to disclose to the family, GP and coroner the true circumstances of a resident who was found dead, lying head-first in an outdoor water feature. A contributing factor was not promoting the right culture for incidents to be reported and disclosed openly.

What will the royal commission uncover?

The royal commission will revisit the known. It will also uncover more criminal acts and other deliberate acts of elder abuse. It will examine care that causes unintended harm and premature death from injury.

Read more: Elder abuse report ignores impact on people’s health

The scale of the investigation is enormous and far greater than most people realise. We don’t know the breadth and depth of harm across the nation as this has not previously been examined in a rigorous, systematic way that we do with health care.

The royal commission appears to have limited its investigation to the nature of care over the past five years, which covers the current 207,142 living residents and the those who died in the past five years (around 290,000 residents).

The health department’s submission to the House of Representatives inquiry into residential aged care (submission 72, p8), advised receiving reports of assault or alleged assault of 1.2% of residents a year. Over five years, the total number of residents affected would be more than 12,400 incidents (1.2% of 207,000 residents each year for five years).

Along with these serious incidents of potential abuse remains the question of substandard clinical care. A conservative estimate would be based on the premise that aged care performs as well as health care, which harms a minimum of 6% of patients from each interaction. This equates to more than 62,100 incidents of harm (6% of 207,000 residents each year for five years).

Read more: Violence between residents in nursing homes can lead to death and demands our attention

The scale of neglect and abuse is potentially so large the royal commission will be consumed with addressing the potential criminal and human rights abuses. This is also consistent with why royal commissions are usually called — to investigate corruption, impropriety, illegal activity or gross administrative incompetence.

The challenge facing the royal commission is to better understand and rectify substandard clinical care by identifying how the aged care sector, government, regulators and health professionals failed to recognise, report and address this harm. By comparison, we’ve know how to do this in the health care sector since 2000.

We also need the royal commission to lead to reforms that shift the sector from being ranked 17th of 96 countries internationally to one that is exceptional, on par with the performance of our health care system.

Who is this royal commission for?

This royal commission matters most to those who are still young, healthy and living at home. It is this group who will receive the benefits of any positive reforms or suffer the consequences of any shortcomings.

Given the broad terms of reference for the royal commission, it is difficult to imagine how it will deliver its findings in 12 months. A more realistic estimate is the inquiry will take up to three years followed by a fourth year for the incumbent government to consider the recommendations, a fifth year for reform to be debated in parliament and legislated, then five years for any substantive policy and practice reforms to be put in place.

This takes us to 2030, by which time at least four cohorts of residents will have entered a nursing home and died.

ref. Aged care royal commission benefits Generation X: it’s too late for the silent generation – http://theconversation.com/aged-care-royal-commission-benefits-generation-x-its-too-late-for-the-silent-generation-106607

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media