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Time to end drug company distortion of medical evidence

<p>While there’s much to celebrate in medicine, it’s now beyond doubt that we have <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f7141">too much</a> of it. Too many tests, diagnoses, pills and procedures are wasting resources that could be better spent meeting genuine need.</p> <p>As a recent <a href="http://www.oecd.org/health/tackling-wasteful-spending-on-health-9789264266414-en.htm">OECD report</a> concluded, up to one-fifth of health spending may be wasted, and many patients “unnecessarily harmed” by treatments they didn’t need.</p> <p>Antidepressants, for example, can be life-savers for some people. But drug company-funded studies have <a href="https://ebm.bmj.com/content/early/2019/09/24/bmjebm-2019-111238">overplayed their benefits</a> and <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4320">downplayed</a> their harms, contributing to overuse and unnecessary side effects.</p> <p><a href="http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2009/Conflict-of-Interest-in-Medical-Research-Education-and-Practice.aspx">Widespread industry influence</a> is jeopardising the integrity of research and medical education, and threatening the quality of patient care.</p> <p>Today in <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l6576">The BMJ</a> a global group of researchers, doctors, editors, regulators and advocates outline key strategies to reduce the financial entanglement with industry. The first step is ensuring the evaluation of any new tests, treatments and technologies are free from industry influence.</p> <p>Distorted research, education and clinical practice</p> <p>A huge proportion of medical research is currently funded by industry – in the United States <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2089358">almost 60%</a>. Yet there’s a <a href="https://www.cochrane.org/MR000033/METHOD_industry-sponsorship-and-research-outcome">mountain of evidence</a> that company-sponsored studies tend to overstate product benefits and playdown harms.</p> <p>One example is cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins. A <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040184">review</a> analysing almost 200 studies of statins found that company-sponsored studies were much more likely to find results favourable to the sponsors’ drug.</p> <p>There’s similar distortion with devices, like <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5515">pelvic mesh</a>, used to treat pelvic organ prolapse. In this case, poor testing meant many women received the mesh without knowing the risks of horrendous harms, including severe pain, infection, and repeated surgery.</p> <p>Those same companies then <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/6/e016701">sponsor the “education” of your doctor</a>, often with the evidence they’ve funded, and good food and wine.</p> <p>As a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2528290">study of 280,000 doctors reveals</a>, accepting just one sponsored meal is associated with higher prescribing of the sponsor’s products: a 20% increase in statins, and a doubling of antidepressants.</p> <p>Industry argues it’s information helps patients, but a <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000352">systematic review</a> found differently. Doctors who accept marketing, including sales representatives, tend to prescribe more, at higher cost, and lower quality, such as prescribing an inappropriate drug, or prescribing that is not in line with guidelines.</p> <p>Just look at the opioid epidemic in the United States. One <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2720914">study</a> found the amount of marketing, including payments to doctors, was associated with small but significant increases in both prescriptions and deaths from overdose.</p> <p>How to end commercial influence</p> <p>Evidence of the dangers of financial relationships with industry has caused many groups to seek more freedom. As we show in today’s <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l6576">BMJ Analysis</a>, there are signs of change.</p> <p>In Norway, industry-supported education can no longer be used formally by doctors, and the government funds independent drug information.</p> <p>Some medical journals no longer accept drug company advertising. Citizen groups like the US <a href="https://www.nwhn.org/">National Women’s Health Network</a> accept no funds from companies selling healthcare products.</p> <p>The biggest challenge is working out ways to evaluate tests and treatments, free from the influence of companies developing them. But radical reform is in the wind in many places.</p> <p>In <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2362.2009.02226.x">Italy</a>, the promotional budgets of drug companies are taxed to create a pool for independent research.</p> <p>In Britain, <a href="https://cancerunion.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Medicines-For-The-Many.pdf">Labour</a> is proposing the government funds clinical trials and creates <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/24/labour-pledges-to-break-patents-and-offer-latest-drugs-on-nhs">state-owned pharmaceutical makers</a>.</p> <p>More needs to be done</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l6576">proposals</a> are from a team with expertise across medicine, law, and philosophy and includes people from The BMJ and the World Organisation of Family Doctors.</p> <p>We argue the pathway to independence includes three key reforms:</p> <ul> <li>government policies ensuring the evaluation of tests, treatments and technologies is free from sponsor influence</li> <li>reforms to ensure medical education is free from industry support and on-going professional accreditation can’t be gained from company-sponsored events</li> <li>new rules to end marketing interactions between industry and prescribing doctors, such as sales representatives’ visits.</li> </ul> <p><em>Written by Roy Moynihan. Republished with permission of <a href="/While%20there’s%20much%20to%20celebrate%20in%20medicine,%20it’s%20now%20beyond%20doubt%20that%20we%20have%20too%20much%20of%20it.%20Too%20many%20tests,%20diagnoses,%20pills%20and%20procedures%20are%20wasting%20resources%20that%20could%20be%20better%20spent%20meeting%20genuine%20need.">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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How plant-based meat is stretching New Zealand’s cultural and legal boundaries

<p>Earlier this year, the New Zealand-based pizza chain <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/78790234/the-history-of-hell-pizza">Hell Pizza</a> offered a limited-edition “Burger Pizza”. Its customers weren’t told that the “meat” was plant-based.</p> <p>Some customers <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/113824494/hell-pizza-covertly-dishes-up-beyond-meat-burger-patties">complained</a> to the Commerce Commission, which enforces consumer law in New Zealand. Yet, <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/113867599/scorned-hell-pizza-customers-bitter-over-fake-burger-meat">others</a> did not mind – or even appreciated – the move. The Commerce Commission, however, warned that the stunt likely breached consumer protection law.</p> <p>Hell Pizza’s ruse should catalyse discussion around the scope and purpose of consumer law, the culture of meat consumption and the future of animal farming. Under current law, “teaching through deception” is not possible. But we argue that consumer law needs to adopt a more nuanced approach.</p> <p><strong>Traditional legal approach</strong></p> <p>In October, the Commerce Commission <a href="https://comcom.govt.nz/case-register/case-register-entries/the-depths-lp-ta-hell-pizza/media-releases/commission-warns-hell-pizza-over-burger-pizza">warned</a> the pizza chain that it had probably breached the <a href="http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1986/0121/latest/DLM96439.html">Fair Trading Act 1986</a>. In particular, it had likely made false or misleading representations.</p> <p>The Commerce Commission <a href="https://comcom.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0034/178792/Warning-letter-to-The-Depths-LP-trading-as-Hell-Pizza-Redacted-25-September-2019.pdf">stated</a> that a “burger traditionally includes a patty of minced beef” and “medium-rare is a term associated with meat, usually beef”.</p> <p>As a result, the pizza chain advised it had <a href="https://comcom.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0034/178792/Warning-letter-to-The-Depths-LP-trading-as-Hell-Pizza-Redacted-25-September-2019.pdf">no intention</a> of engaging in this kind of campaign again. Interestingly, the pizza company has recently announced that the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbaEo19Oc9k">Burger Pizza is back on the menu</a>.</p> <p>Australia’s consumer law around misleading and deceptive conduct is notably similar to New Zealand’s. In Australia, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-15/push-to-ban-milk-meat-seafood-labels-on-plant-based-produce/11513754">debates</a> around the meaning of the terms “milk”, “seafood” and “meat” are taking place. These discussions present an opportunity to rethink some of our conventions.</p> <p><strong>When is meat meat?</strong></p> <p>The traditional need to protect consumers from deceptive practices is clear. That said, it is perhaps also time to nudge consumers to reconsider their preconceptions and consumption of meat.</p> <p>Hell Pizza said it launched its plant-based meat product out of concerns for the future of the planet. According to the company, <a href="https://hellpizza.com/wickedpedia/2019/07/03/burger-pizza-statement">80% of consumers did not have an issue with being duped</a>, and 70% would order the pizza again.</p> <p>There are a few good reasons to reduce the amount of meat we eat. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19339402">Research shows</a> that meat consumption is putting pressure on the environment. The amount of food and water required to raise animals for consumption <a href="https://news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat">exceeds</a> the nutrient value humans get from consuming meat. Further, livestock create <a href="https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.11034">waste and emissions</a> that contribute to climate change.</p> <p>Plant-based meat may be more environmentally friendly. It also eliminates concerns around animal rights. Additionally, it is often perceived as a <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cf90/d287aa226b483aed430ff4f0432081bfd3d7.pdf">healthier alternative</a>.</p> <p><strong>Future foods</strong></p> <p>The plant-based meat industry faces two immediate challenges. The first is taste. If meat substitutes do not taste as good as animal-based meat, people will be <a href="http://freakonomics.com/podcast/meat/">less willing to consume them</a>.</p> <p>The second main challenge is cost. If plant-based meat is significantly more expensive than animal-based meat, consumers may opt for the latter.</p> <p>The cost of plant-based meat has become affordable enough for prominent market players, such as <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/116767086/dominos-adds-plantbased-meat-to-its-pizza-menu">Dominoes Pizza</a> and <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/116657991/burger-king-finds-recipe-for-success-with-its-impossible-whopper">Burger King</a>, to offer plant-based products.</p> <p>Hell Pizza was not the first New Zealand company to offer its consumers plant-based meat products. In another controversy, Air New Zealand offered plant-based burgers in the business cabin on selected flights. This led to some criticism, including the deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, who was acting prime minister at the time, complaining that it was a “<a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/105216779/air-nzs-impossible-burger-criticised-by-former-primary-industries-minister">bad look</a>” for the airline not to promote New Zealand meat.</p> <p>Such a response is short-sighted. Animal farming is an important industry in New Zealand, <a href="http://www.environmentguide.org.nz/activities/agriculture/">contributing significantly</a> to the economy and social fabric. Because of its importance, New Zealanders should take seriously the potential impact of plant-based meat and the consequences of this emerging market.</p> <p><strong>Market disruption</strong></p> <p>Some companies have already stated their aspiration to completely <a href="http://freakonomics.com/podcast/meat/">replace animals as a food production technology</a> by 2035. The meat industry is likely to use its power to protect its interests. But these interests are not the only ones that should be voiced and considered.</p> <p>Instead of merely criticising companies that offer meat alternatives and use innovative marketing tools to do so, we should embrace these initiatives as an opportunity to rethink some of our conventions. We need to adapt to new realities in ways that make our societies more ethical, while also encouraging consumers to be more mindful of the environment and health-related aspects of their foods.</p> <p>The boundaries of consumer law should reflect this. The law regulates against misleading and deceptive conduct mainly because it is purportedly bad for consumers. However, the law should adopt a more holistic approach - one that considers the motivation for the allegedly misleading behaviour.</p> <p>Protecting consumers from deceptive conduct is not an end in itself. Perhaps the degree and context of the misleading behaviour should be considered against other legitimate objectives. We believe that such legitimate objectives include caring for the environment, minimising animal cruelty and advancing public health.</p> <p><em>Written by Samuel Becher and Jessica C Lai. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-plant-based-meat-is-stretching-new-zealands-cultural-and-legal-boundaries-127901">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Understanding the financial pages

<p>Looking at the financial pages of the daily newspaper may seem like a bewildering onslaught of information with reams of market statistics and measurements. This can make the investment world seem quite complex and intimidating, but when you break it down and try to grasp each of the component parts, it is well within the capacity of most lay people to understand.</p> <p>Here are a few tips that may help to get you started:<strong><br />Firstly, a word of warning</strong><br />Beware of the temptation to start reading the financial pages in the same way you would read the form guide for horse racing!</p> <p>It is easy to get caught up in habit of tracking daily movements of particular share values, but this can distract you from the taking the broad, long term view that is so essential to successful investing. In short, don’t be tempted to try and ‘pick winners’.</p> <p><strong>Understanding the ASX table</strong><br />The financial section of the newspaper will normally show the full list of companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Next to each company will be a range of figures, usually beginning with the price of the share for that company at the end of the previous day’s trading. Some publications will also show a three letter ‘ASX code’ used to identify the company.</p> <p>Other measurements shown on this table include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Weekly volume</strong> – The total number of shares of a company that were bought and sold within the last week.</li> <li><strong>Price movements</strong> – This may be shown as the price change since the previous day’s closing price, or it may be shown as a change over the previous week and some financial tables will even show the change over the last 12 months.</li> <li><strong>Dividend yield percentage</strong> – This figure is sometimes also shown and is the amount a company pays out in dividends each year as a percentage of the current share price. For example, if a particular share has a value of $100 and has paid a dividend of $5 then its dividend yield is 5% ($5 divided by $100).</li> </ul> <p><strong>Market indices</strong> <br />While the ASX table breaks down the performance of each company separately, you can also look at the collective performance of the market as a whole via the ‘All Ordinaries Index’. This tracks the movement of the total value of all shares on the exchange and the change over the last week and month may also be shown.</p> <p>Apart from the All Ordinaries Index, there are also a range of other sub-indices which indicate the performance of different segments of the market. The ASX 200, for example, is an index that tracks the change in collective value of the largest 200 public companies.</p> <p>Some indices focus on specific industrial segments. The S&amp;P ASX200 Energy Index, for example, measures the largest 200 energy companies. There are indices for and range of other sectors, such as health care, industry, finance, and metals and mining.</p> <p><strong>International markets</strong><br />Financial pages will also usually show various indices for major stock markets in other countries, such as the Dow Jones index in the USA, the FTSE in the UK and the Hang Seng in China.</p> <p><strong>Commodity prices</strong><br />The prices and price changes of key commodities are also a feature of many financial pages. Oil and gold are two such commodities that will usually be shown because of their importance as indicators of the general direction of the world economy and of market sentiment.</p> <p><strong>Exchange rates</strong><br />These are another important indicator of economic conditions and the state of the economies of different countries relative to each other. The financial pages will usually show the daily movement of the Australian Dollar against major world currencies, such as the US Dollar, the Euro and the Yen.</p> <p>There can be many factors within each country’s domestic economy which influence the movements in exchange rates. These can include interest rates, inflation, political stability, government debt and terms of trade.</p> <p><strong>Making sense of it all</strong><br />It would obviously take quite some time if you were to review and analyse all the items being reported and measured on the daily financial pages. Even if you do have the time to do that, it takes a considerable amount of skill and experience to interpret what different movements mean.</p> <p>Often the day to day movements in things like share prices and exchange rates are the result of transient factors and it is only a consistent analysis over a long period of time that can start to make a coherent interpretation.</p> <p>While it can be interesting to follow the fluctuating fortunes of particular shares, or the daily machinations of indices, commodities and exchange rates, it helps to have a financial adviser on your side to look at the bigger, long term picture.</p> <p>They will have access to expert research resources that constantly analyse markets at home and abroad and can position you to grow wealth without the need to personally keep track of day to day changes.</p> <p>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/money/financial-planning/understanding-the-financial-pages.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></p>

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Ex-police sergeant charged for stealing from homes of the dead

<p>A 66-year-old ex-police sergeant whose job it was to comfort grieving families may land himself in jail after it was found out he was stealing from the homes of the dead. </p> <p>Graeme 'Taff' Williams’ role was “sudden death coordinator” at Stoke Newington police station, in London, UK, until 2013.</p> <p>His job was to locate relatives of the deceased and log their belongings and valuables.</p> <p>However, it was revealed William’ stole more than $10,000 and valuable furniture from the homes of three deceased people after visiting their homes.</p> <p>He was “trusted implicitly” by his employers and was paid an annual salary of $52,966.82 by the time he retired.</p> <p>Williams was convicted of three charges of theft by a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court.</p> <p>Prosecutor, Alexandra Felix, said Williams abused his position “by helping himself to the cash that was recovered, stealing it and providing information to heir hunters in return for payment”.</p> <p>Expensive furniture, artwork and other pricey goods were stolen from the home of one deceased, whose family thought were being taken to a homeless charity.</p> <p>An $800 watch, a 60-inch flat-screen TV, a fridge-freezer and washing machine were missing from the home, said the deceased's sister.</p> <p>She noted only the expensive items were the ones that had gone missing.</p> <p>William told Hackney council in 2012 that $35,835 had been recovered from the home of an elderly man who had been moved to a care home despite $40,835 being “banked” in the superintendent’s safe.</p> <p>Despite retiring in 2013, he continued to volunteer at Newingtown station and made money from heir hunters.</p> <p>Jurors heard $6,520 was missing from $46,315 cash that was found from under the bed of a man who died in his flat in 2015.</p> <p>Police raided Williams' home and found $20,000 in a safe and $5,000 in a box.</p> <p>Not stopping there, he had also received $11,504.02 in “discretionary” referral fees from heir hunting firm Fraser and Fraser, after he left the force.</p> <p>Company boss Andrew Fraser told jurors that as far as his firm was aware Williams was retired.</p> <p>Her further went on to say he hadn’t realised he was still working with police.</p> <p>“I knew he was retired because I was invited, as lots of other people were to his retirement. I didn't know he continued to work at Stoke Newington police station” Mr Fraser explained.</p> <p>“A number of cases were referred to us after his retirement. I think there might have been a dozen or so.</p> <p>“A couple of cases were looked at but we didn't spend much time on them but couldn't establish much value in them.</p> <p>“'After he retired he was a private individual. These referral fees were paid out at discretion.</p> <p>“Payments of $8,000 and $3,504.02 were paid in discretionary referral fees in relation to two estates.”</p> <p>The court heard that Firm Fraser had received an email addressed to them from William’s police email on at least one occasion.</p> <p>“The whole firm thought he had retired from the police,” Mr Fraser said.</p> <p>“If I knew he was still any matters referred to us from a police officer I would not have made payment. We saw him as a member of the public from after his retirement.”</p> <p>Williams denied but was convicted of three charges of theft. A separate charge of fraud was dropped earlier in the trial.</p> <p>Judge Alex Gordon ordered a medical report and bailed Williams ahead of sentence on 7 January.</p>

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“You destroyed my life”: Widow’s heartbreaking reply to man who killed her husband

<p>A man who bashed a grandfather in Adelaide to death with a hammer in front of his wife has been ordered to spend the rest of his life under mental health supervision.</p> <p>In May 2018, Steven Berg stormed the house of the couple and attacked 74-year-old Deon Hewitt who was cooking dinner with his wife, Patricia. The attack ended in death.</p> <p>Patricia saw the horrific crime and said to Berg in court that he “destroyed my life”.</p> <p>"You destroyed my life. I couldn't even say goodbye to the man I spent the best parts of my life with…. For this I will never forgive you."</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F9NewsAdelaide%2Fvideos%2F1434612646686069%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p>Berg was found not guilty of murder due to mental incompetence as the court was told he was suffering delusions at the time of the unprovoked and random attack.</p> <p>"My husband was my best friend, taken from me in the most horrific way - You have inflicted more pain on my family than any sentence can on you - until my final day I'm to live without my husband, stuck with the memory of that night," Ms Hewitt said.</p> <p>Five victim impact statements were read out in court by family members of Leon, as his grandchildren outlined their grief and the toll his passing had on their mental health.</p> <p>"When we were feeling down, we had Pop to call," they said.</p> <p>Leon and Patricia’s daughter Vanessa said that as long as Berg is detained “society is a safer place”.</p> <p>"the day you took dad from us, we lost a mother as well - I fear for the day Berg is released - While he is detained, society is a safer place,” she said.</p> <p>Berg is being held in the secure mental health facility of James Nash House.</p>

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Our grandchildren learn through play – it shouldn’t stop at preschool

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The </span><a href="https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/123771/Transition-to-Primary-School-A-literature-review.pdf?sequence=1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">transition from preschool to school</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is a big deal for many children and parents. Over the next few weeks, many preschoolers will take part in a </span><a href="https://www.cela.org.au/category/around-australia/page/4/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">transition program</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, designed by their teachers, to prepare them for school.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They’ll meet their </span><a href="https://www.kidspot.com.au/school/primary/starting-school/what-is-the-first-year-of-school-called/news-story/d66b0b9a2a5d6959dd97c01328420028"><span style="font-weight: 400;">foundation</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> teachers, spend some time in a classroom and hopefully make some new friends.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These children’s education has so far focused on </span><a href="http://ceril.net/index.php/articulos?id=594"><span style="font-weight: 400;">play-based learning</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. This means they’ve learnt through exploring and playing, supported by skilled early childhood educators.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But they’re about to enter a world of formal learning. Although play-based learning does happen in schools, there tends to be a stronger focus on instruction.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The current system isn’t working for many students. One-quarter of children who start school </span><a href="http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/reports/educational-opportunity-in-australia-2015-who-succeeds-and-who-misses-out/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">aren’t developmentally ready for this transition</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/childhood-anxiety-australia-report/7214886"><span style="font-weight: 400;">levels of mental ill-health among children</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are concerning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many educators and researchers argue </span><a href="https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3692&amp;context=ajte"><span style="font-weight: 400;">more play in the early years of school</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> could better support children’s transition and learning. Parents think so too. In a </span><a href="https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/social-affairs/school-children-have-too-much-phone-time-not-enough-play-time"><span style="font-weight: 400;">recent survey</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, 93% of parents acknowledge the benefits of play and 72% said the first years of school should focus more on play-based learning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If we’re genuinely committed to improving outcomes for all children – and we know play benefits learning – we need to better integrate play-based learning into schools’ formal learning structures.</span></p> <p>How do we learn through play?</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Increasing play-based learning in schools means changing how we think about playing. When many of us think about play, we probably think of free play, which is unstructured and directed by children, usually without adult involvement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Play-based learning, though, is </span><a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10409289.2016.1220771"><span style="font-weight: 400;">more usefully conceived as a spectrum</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, with free play at one end and teacher-guided, </span><a href="https://www.monash.edu/conceptual-playworld/about"><span style="font-weight: 400;">playful learning</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> at the other. In between are a variety of methods either entirely based on play, or incorporating elements of it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For example, a skilled educator can help children discover new ideas when they play with water. The educator might encourage children to playfully experiment with water tubs and toys in a way that allows them to develop their own hypotheses about how water behaves in certain situations and why.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The educator could work with the children to test their hypotheses, questioning and talking to them about what they observe during their play.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Play-based learning in the early years of school can </span><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/183693911103600416"><span style="font-weight: 400;">significantly improve kids’ language and social connections</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Research shows the impact of play-based learning extends into other areas of development too.</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Quality-is-key-in-early-childhood-education-in-Australia.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">High-quality</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> play-based learning can:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">strengthen </span><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325171628_Neuroscience_and_learning_through_play_a_review_of_the_evidence"><span style="font-weight: 400;">neural pathways associated with learning</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">enhance </span><a href="https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-use-play-learning"><span style="font-weight: 400;">well-being</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">improve </span><a href="https://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-play.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">memory and organisational abilities</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">teach children </span><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329000371_Play_cognition_and_self-regulation_What_exactly_are_children_learning_when_they_learn_through_play"><span style="font-weight: 400;">self-regulation and problem-solving skills</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">encourage </span><a href="https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/images/pedal/play-culture-article.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">creativity and critical thinking</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Quality depends on warm and responsive relationships with skilled educators and an environment that facilitates exploration and learning. It also involves a developmentally appropriate learning program.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The skills children learn through play equip them </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/play-based-learning-can-set-your-child-up-for-success-at-school-and-beyond-91393"><span style="font-weight: 400;">to engage with formal, academic learning</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. When children start to develop and harness these skills, </span><a href="https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/play-based-learning/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">research shows</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> they’re better able to cope with the demands of formal learning and thrive later on in school.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And when more than </span><a href="http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Australias-health-tracker-overview.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">70% of children don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, play is even more essential.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many researchers and educators believe less play – inside and outside the classroom – </span><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/all-work-and-no-play-why-your-kids-are-more-anxious-depressed/246422/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">may be contributing to rising levels of anxiety, depression, and challenges related to attention and self-control</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. For children experiencing high levels of stress or other forms of disadvantage, </span><a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/3/e20182058"><span style="font-weight: 400;">play can be a vital antidote</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The </span><a href="https://www.pc.gov.au/research/supporting/deep-persistent-disadvantage/deep-persistent-disadvantage.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">links between disadvantage, poor health, changing lifestyles, and inequality</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are, of course, complex. But there is </span><a href="https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/18189/16/EPPE_TechnicalPaper_12_2004.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">good evidence</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to suggest how we approach education in the early years – particularly in relation to play – is an important part of how we address these challenges.</span></p> <p>Australia’s school system downplays play</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The </span><a href="https://www.education.gov.au/early-years-learning-framework-0"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Australian Early Years Learning Framework</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> guides educational programs for children aged 0-5. It complements the </span><a href="https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Australian Curriculum</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, which guides learning throughout primary and secondary school.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While complementary, the frameworks take quite </span><a href="https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3692&amp;context=ajte"><span style="font-weight: 400;">different approaches to play</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Play is a fundamental component of the Early Years Learning Framework. In contrast, the curriculum’s focus on academic performance has </span><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/education/political-pressure-takes-the-fun-out-of-kindy-say-academics-20140506-zr5b3.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">extended formal learning to the early years of school and even preschool</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, despite the fact play-based learning is far more appropriate at these ages.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are a few policy options that can support more play-based learning in the early years and ensure it is integrated into education in the middle years of childhood and beyond. These options include:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029435-000-too-much-too-young-should-schooling-start-at-age-7/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">starting school later</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (either by changing legal starting ages or parents electing to start their children later)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.edutopia.org/article/research-tested-benefits-breaks"><span style="font-weight: 400;">more or longer breaks</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for play during the day</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4jDZn2d3VrAenFUMGFodTBIaUE/edit"><span style="font-weight: 400;">extending play-based approaches into the early years of school</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">integrating more play-based learning into existing approaches.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Increasing school starting ages by law would involve governments and parents meeting the significant cost of an extra year of early education and care. </span><a href="https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/social-affairs/school-children-have-too-much-phone-time-not-enough-play-time"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Research</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> shows most parents want less break time at school, and schools are already finding it difficult to adequately cover the curriculum in the time they have.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While some policy options are likely to gain more traction than others, there is strong support for increasing play-based learning in schools. This will require teachers, governments and families to all be on the same page about the benefits of play for children’s learning. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Kate Noble. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/children-learn-through-play-it-shouldnt-stop-at-preschool-126921"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Conversation. </span></a></p>

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Why aren’t today’s protests leading to revolutions?

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We live in a world of violent challenges to the status quo, from Chile and Iraq to Hong Kong, Catalonia and the Extinction Rebellion. These protests are usually presented in the media simply as expressions of rage at “the system” and are eminently suitable for TV news coverage, where they flash across our screens in 15-second splashes of colour, smoke and sometimes blood.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These are huge rebellions. In Chile, for example, </span><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50191746"><span style="font-weight: 400;">an estimated one million people demonstrated last month</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. By the next day, </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/27/chile-hundreds-shot-and-beaten-street-protests"><span style="font-weight: 400;">19 people had died</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, nearly 2,500 had been injured and more than 2,800 arrested.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">How might we make sense of these upheavals? Are they revolutionary or just a series of spectacular eruptions of anger? And are they doomed to fail?</span></p> <p><strong>Key characteristics of a revolution</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As an historian of the French Revolution of 1789-99, I often ponder the similarities between the five great revolutions of the modern world – the English Revolution (1649), American Revolution (1776), French Revolution (1789), Russian Revolution (1917) and Chinese Revolution (1949).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A key question today is whether the rebellions we are currently witnessing are also revolutionary.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A model of revolution drawn from the five great revolutions can tell us much about why they occur and take particular trajectories. The key characteristics are:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">long-term causes and the popularity of a socio-political ideology at odds with the regime in power</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">short-term triggers of widespread protest</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">moments of violent confrontation the power-holders are unable to contain as sections of the armed forces defect to rebels</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the consolidation of a broad and victorious alliance against the existing regime</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">a subsequent fracturing of the revolutionary alliance as competing factions vie for power</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the re-establishment of a new order when a revolutionary leader succeeds in consolidating power.</span></li> </ul> <p><strong>Why today’s protests are not revolutionary</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This model indicates the upheavals in our contemporary world are not revolutionary – or not yet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most likely to become revolutionary is in Iraq, where the regime has shown a willingness to kill its own citizens (</span><a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/09/middleeast/iraq-protest-death-toll-intl/index.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">more than 300 in October alone</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">). This indicates that any concessions to demonstrators will inevitably be regarded as inadequate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We do not know how the </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/university-under-siege-a-dangerous-new-phase-for-the-hong-kong-protests-127228"><span style="font-weight: 400;">extraordinary rebellion in Hong Kong</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> will end, but it may be very telling that there does not seem to have been significant defection from the police or army to the protest movement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">People grow angry far more often than they rebel. And rebellions rarely become revolutions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, we need to distinguish between major revolutions that transform social and political structures, coups by armed elites and common forms of protest over particular issues. An example of this is the massive, violent and ultimately successful protests in Ecuador last month that </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/14/ecuador-protests-end-after-deal-struck-with-indigenous-leaders"><span style="font-weight: 400;">forced the government to cancel an austerity package</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The protests in Hong Kong and Catalonia fall into yet another category: they have limited aims for political sovereignty rather than more general objectives.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All successful revolutions are characterised by broad alliances at the outset as the deep-seated grievances of a range of social groups coalesce around opposition to the existing regime.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They begin with mass support. For that reason, the Extinction Rebellion will likely only succeed with modest goals of </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/06/how-extinction-rebellion-put-world-on-red-alert-year-since-it-was-founded"><span style="font-weight: 400;">pushing reluctant governments</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to do more about climate change, rather than its </span><a href="https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/faqs/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">far more ambitious aspirations</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of a national Citizen Assembly, populated by ordinary people chosen at random, to come up with a programme for change.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mass protests also fail when they are unable to create unity around core objectives. The Arab Spring, for instance, held so much promise after blossoming in 2010, but with the possible exception of Tunisia, failed to lead to meaningful change.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Revolutionary alliances collapsed rapidly into civil war (as in Libya) or failed to neutralise the armed forces (as in Egypt and Syria).</span></p> <p><strong>Why is there so much anger?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fundamental to an understanding of the rage so evident today is the “democratic deficit”. This refers to public anger at the way the high-water mark of democratic reform around the globe in the 1990s – accompanied by the siren song of economic globalisation – has had such uneven social outcomes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One expression of this anger has been the rise of fearful xenophobia expertly captured by populist politicians, most famously in the case of Donald Trump, but including many others from Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and Victor Orbán in Hungary.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Indeed, there are some who claim that western liberalism has now failed).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Elsewhere, the anger is popular rather than populist. In upheavals from Lebanon and Iraq to Zimbabwe and Chile, resentment is particularly focused on the evidence of widespread corruption as elites flout the basic norms of transparency and equity in siphoning government money into their pockets and those of their cronies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The broader context of today’s upheavals also includes the uneven withdrawal of the US from international engagement, providing new opportunities for two authoritarian superpowers (Russia and China) driven by dreams of new empires.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The United Nations, meanwhile, is floundering in its attempt to provide alternative leadership through a rules-based international system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The state of the world economy also plays a role. In places where economic growth is stagnant, minor price increases are more than just irritants. They explode into rebellions, such as the recent tax on WhatsApp in Lebanon and the metro fare rise in Chile.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There was already deep-seated anger in both places. Chile, for example, is one of Latin America’s wealthiest countries, but has one of the worst levels of income equality among the 36 nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.</span></p> <p><strong>Rebellions with new characteristics</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Of course, we do not know how these protest movements will end. While it is unlikely any of the rebellions will result in revolutionary change, we are witnessing distinctly 21st century upheavals with new characteristics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most influential approaches to understanding the long-term history and nature of protest and insurrection has come from the American sociologist Charles Tilly.</span></p> <p><strong>Tilly’s studies of European history have identified two key characteristics.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First, forms of protest change across time as a function of wider changes in economic and political structures. The food riots of pre-industrial society, for instance, gave way to the strikes and political demonstrations of the modern world.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And today, the transnational reach of Extinction Rebellion is symptomatic of a new global age. There are also new protest tactics emerging, such as the flashmobs and Lennon walls in Hong Kong.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tilly’s second theory was that collective protest, both peaceful and violent, is endemic rather than confined to years of spectacular revolutionary upheaval, such as 1789 or 1917. It is a continuing expression of conflict between “contenders” for power, including the state. It is part of the historical fabric of all societies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even in a stable and prosperous country like Australia in 2019, there is a deep cynicism around a commitment to the common good. This has been created by a lack of clear leadership on climate change and energy policy, self-serving corporate governance and fortress politics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All this suggests that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not only whistling in the wind if he thinks that </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/01/scott-morrison-threatens-crackdown-on-secondary-boycotts-of-mining-companies"><span style="font-weight: 400;">he can dictate the nature of and even reduce protest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in contemporary Australia – he is also </span><a href="https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/publications/activist-wisdom-practical-knowledge-and-creative-tension-in-socia"><span style="font-weight: 400;">ignorant of its history</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Peter McPhee. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/we-live-in-a-world-of-upheaval-so-why-arent-todays-protests-leading-to-revolutions-126505"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Conversation.</span></a></em></p>

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Government makes changes to error-prone robo-debt collection

<p>The government has overhauled its much-criticised robo-debt scheme which has seen many welfare recipients asked to repay money they do not owe.</p> <p>A Tuesday email to staff in the Human Services department’s customer compliance division said “additional proof” would now be required when using income averaging to identify overpayment and raise a debt.</p> <p>“This means the department will no longer raise a debt where the only information we are relying on is our own averaging of ATO [Australian Taxation Office] income data,” the email said.</p> <p>“In the past we have asked people to explain discrepancies to us. In the future, even if someone does not respond to these requests, we will seek more information to help us determine if there is a debt.”</p> <p>There will also be a freeze on some existing debts while they are re-examined.</p> <p>The email said the department would focus on those where the person had not replied to requests for clarification.</p> <p>An assessment would then be made about whether further information was available to clarify what debt there was.</p> <p>The Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert played down the changes and did not apologise for past errors under the system.</p> <p>“The government makes no apologies for fulfilling our legal obligation to collect debts with income from clients and of course, with wider debt collection.”</p> <p>He said the present income averaging system would continue to be used in assessing debt. The key “refinement” would be the addition of “proof points”.</p> <p>Robert said he had asked for the review of the “small” cohort “who have a debt raised solely on the basis of income averaging so we can commence discussions with them and seek further points of proof”.</p> <p>People did not need to contact the department – it would contact them.</p> <p>A robo-debt class action lawsuit is investigating whether the more than 400,000 debt notices issued since mid 2016 were lawful. The claim is that “averaging” an individual’s fortnightly earnings based on a “simplistic application of an imperfect computer algorithm”, does not appear to be lawful.</p> <p>Opposition spokesman Bill Shorten said for years the government claimed there was “nothing wrong with its revenue raising monster.”</p> <p>“But now under immense pressure from Labor and with a looming class action [Robert] has hit the emergency brakes on this scheme.</p> <p>"They’re junking the reverse onus of proof where victims have to prove they don’t owe the debts. That means robo-debt is being taken to the wreckers yard.</p> <p>"Other changes signify the regime going forward will not be robo-debt as we know it.”</p> <p>But Shorten said questions remained, particularly what happened to those who had been wrongly assessed and to the money wrongly collected.</p> <p><em>Written by Michelle Grattan. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/government-makes-changes-to-error-prone-robo-debt-collection-127324">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Bill Cosby gives first prison interview: no “remorse”

<p>For the first time, disgraced star Bill Cosby has given an interview in prison. </p> <p>The 82-year-old continues to remain defiant about the sexual assault that landed him behind bars, and further insisted he’s not guilty and the jurors were “imposters.”</p> <p>Cosby said he will never admit to any wrongdoing, even if it means losing out on winning parole from SCI Phoenix, near Philadelphia, USA - where he is serving up to 10 years for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004. </p> <p>“When I come up for parole, they’re not going to hear me say that I have remorse,” Cosby said in a series of prison phone calls, as reported by<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://blackpressusa.com/nnpa-newswire-exclusive-bill-cosby-speaks-from-prison/" target="_blank">BlackPressUSA</a>.com.</em></p> <p>The disgraced comedian added he believes he will be serving his full sentence. </p> <p><em>The Cosby Show </em>star further said his trial was unjust as his jurors were going to convict him no matter what evidence was presented. </p> <p>“It’s all a set-up. That whole jury thing. They were impostors,” Cosby said, and noted that one juror was overheard saying before the trial, “he’s guilty, we can all go home now.”</p> <p>Cosby - who refers to his jail cell as his “penthouse” - told a reporter he now spends his time in lockup lecturing fellow inmates during Saturday sessions of a prison reform program. </p> <p>“I go into my penthouse and lay down and start to think about how I can relay a message and give it on Saturdays so that they would hear it and feel it,” Cosby said.</p>

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Bob Hawke’s eldest daughter breaks silence on legal stoush over will

<p><span>Bob Hawke’s eldest daughter has broken her silence on her sister’s legal battle over the former prime minister’s will.</span></p> <p><span>Two months after the Labor veteran died in May, <em><a href="https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2019/07/16/bob-hawke-will/">The New Daily</a></em> reported that Hawke awarded $750,000 to each of his three children – Sue Pieters-Hawke, Stephen Hawke and Rosslyn Dillon – as well as his stepson Louis Pratt, and left the rest of his multimillion-dollar estate to his wife Blanche d’Alpuget in his will.</span></p> <p><span>The outlet also reported that Dillon was preparing to take legal action against d’Alpuget for a greater share of her father’s estate.</span></p> <p><span>In a new interview with <em><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/sue-pieters-hawke-shares-stories-about-her-father,/11715758">7.30</a></em>, Dillon’s older sister Pieters-Hawke said she believed her provision was adequate.</span></p> <p><span>“I don’t share that dispute,” Pieters-Hawke said.</span></p> <p><span>“I love and respect my sister. I don’t share her view on this one and beyond that, I honestly regard it as a private family matter.</span></p> <p><span>“I’m grateful for what I received. It’s made a difference to me in my life. It is mostly locked away but it means I don’t have to have financial anxiety.</span></p> <p><span>“I can supplement the pension, along with work and whatever, and my kids don’t have to worry about me.</span></p> <p><span>“I’m really happy about that and I can respect that other people have different views. That’s fine.”</span></p> <p><span>Dillon has reportedly engaged Sydney family law specialists Tiyce &amp; Lawyers to represent her in challenging the will. If a private agreement could not be reached between the parties, the matter will proceed to the NSW Supreme Court.</span></p>

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450,000 cars recalled for brake fluid leak that could make them catch fire

<p>Nissan is recalling over 450,000 vehicles worldwide due to a brake fluid leak that could cause them to catch fire.</p> <p>Due to the fire risk, Nissan is urging owners to park the vehicles outdoors and away from structures if the antilock brake light comes on for more than ten seconds.</p> <p>The recall covers the Nissan Murano SUV from 2015 through 2018 and Maxima sedans from 2016 to 2018. There are other cars included, which are Infiniti QX60 and Nissan Pathfinder SUVs from 2017 to 2019.</p> <p>Most cars are in the US and Canada.</p> <p>Nissan says that the antilock brake actuator pump can leak fluid onto a circuit board causing electrical shorts and fires.</p> <p>It’s Nissan’s third recall for the same problem, and the company keeps expanding the number of affected models.</p> <p>About 120,000 US vehicles were recalled in 2016 and Nissan further recalled 215,000 in 2018, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://thenewdaily.com.au/money/consumer/2019/11/16/nissan-recalls-450000-vehicles-worldwide/" target="_blank">The New Daily</a></em>.</p> <p>Nissan dealers will now replace the pumps on all of the vehicles. Notices telling owners of the safety risk will be sent December 2.</p> <p>Owners will get a second notice next summer when additional parts are available.</p> <p>In a statement on Friday, Nissan said a seal in the pump can leak brake fluid onto an electronic control circuit board. In rare cases, the leaks could cause an electrical short.</p> <p>“Nissan Group is committed to the safety, security and satisfaction of our customers and their passengers,” the statement said.</p>

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How to shop smarter and save big

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I truly believe that all of us can shop smarter. Just take a bit of time before shopping to plan what you need, during shopping to ensure you get everything (and prevent another trip, which incurs costs on fuel) and after shopping to make sure your goods are stored correctly so they will last until you cook and eat them.</span></p> <p><strong>Here are some tips:</strong></p> <ul> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Keep your shopping list somewhere where you will see it all the time and then remember to take it with you when you shop. I keep mine on a spreadsheet open on my computer (because I’m on the computer all day) – but I used to keep it on my fridge door. (I attached some old magnets to the back so it would stay there.) You can also keep it in your phone if you prefer; that way you will be less likely to leave it at home!</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Pay attention to unit prices. Since 2009 it’s been compulsory for every supermarket in Australia to provide a unit price for every item so that shoppers can quickly compare costs. Unit pricing breaks the cost of a product into a unit of weight, volume or number. For example, chocolate will have a unit price per 100 g, milk a unit price per litre and a bulk pack of breakfast bars or drinks might list an ‘each’ price.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">In most cases, the larger the size or amount, the smaller the unit price. For example, the unit price of a 1-litre carton of milk might be $1.20 per litre, yet for a 2-litre carton it might be $0.90 per litre.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don’t always assume that you are getting a good deal when buying in bulk. Sometimes it is actually cheaper to buy multiples of the smaller packs. So always check the unit price before you purchase.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Pay cash instead of using a card. (Use the internet to work out how much your items will cost before you go.) It forces you to keep to your budget.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Take a calculator (or use your phone) and add up what you are spending as you go.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Never shop when you are hungry (I know you’ve heard it before, but it makes a huge difference.)</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Try not to shop with young children – it’s distracting for you and stressful for everyone (especially if they’re hassling you nonstop to buy toys or sweets and you’re not giving in!). If shopping with preschoolers is unavoidable, give them a special ‘job’ to do (putting stuff in the trolley), or put them in the trolley with a colouring book.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bring your own bottle of water and sip it to get you past the chocolate, soft drink and snack aisles. Better yet, don’t even go down them!</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Avoid shopping at peak times (Saturday mornings and 3–5 p.m. weekdays).</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">Never shop at eye level – that’s where the supermarket promotes the product with the highest profit share. Brands pay a premium to have their products at eye-level for people who don’t care too much about what they’re buying and just want to grab it and go. Check out the bottom shelf, then the top.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the truly best place of all to find the cheapest items is at the ends of the aisles. This is where the supermarket places bulk items that they want to get rid of quickly – and they will sell them at close to cost price. Take advantage of this – especially with staple items.Check out the clearance section. It’s often a messy, uncoordinated pile, which discourages most shoppers – but don’t let it discourage you. If you are patient enough to weed through this section you may just find an item or two on your list.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">The only time to stray from your budget is when you encounter an unexpected sale on staple items that you just can’t go past.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you keep to your budget, give yourself a small, inexpensive treat as a reward (or just put a couple of dollars in a piggy bank to save up for something just for you).</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400;">And the biggest hint of them all: check your receipt. Supermarkets make mistakes all the time. If you find an error, they will often refund you the cost of the entire item, not just the error, so by checking for mistakes, you could get a few items for free!</span></li> </ul> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is an edited extract from The $50 Weekly Shop Weekday Dinners by Jody Allen, published by Penguin Random House and available now, RRP $24.99</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Jody Allen. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/wyza-life/how-to-shop-smarter-and-save.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Discover 4 essential investing rules

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’ve spent 37 years working in either journalism or stockbroking and the same follies keep coming up time and time again.</span></p> <p><strong>Rule 1: Diversify</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first rule is easy, and one that we hear about all the time, that is, diversify. All that stuff about eggs and baskets is absolutely true. When you only have a small amount to invest it’s tough splitting it half a dozen ways, but consider the alternative.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For instance there was the Queensland financial adviser who put his entire life savings into a Nigerian scam. This really happened. Aside from the fact that he should have been preaching diversification, he should have known enough about those Nigerian scams to give it the ten foot pole treatment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Over time one of the best performing asset classes is shares, also known as equities. Even though they have periodic crashes, as we all know, they are easy to buy and sell and there are a variety of different share types, depending on your appetite.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are growth shares, that don’t pay much of a dividend but whose prices rise solidly over time. There are dividend yielding shares, which work well for retirees because of the tax free benefit of franked dividends, and also consumer staples, often called defensives, because they hold up well in the bad times. Not forgetting new issues, known at IPOs or Initial Public Offerings, which is why the stock market came about in the first place: to raise money from the public for worthwhile ventures.</span></p> <p><strong>Rule 2: Go for fully franked dividends</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The tax system in Australia encourages companies to pay local tax, and retirees to hold shares, by ruling that if a company has paid local tax, then the shareholders don’t have to pay tax again if they are in the retirement phase. That means that if you are getting a dividend yield of, say 6 per cent on some bank shares you own, and you are retired, it’s really the equivalent of around 8 per cent. In today’s low interest rate environment, that’s gold dust.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most popular shares in Australia for this are the Big Four Banks and Telstra. But remember, if too many people pile in as buyers there’s a risk the share price will subsequently fall, so don’t just pay any price to buy them. Take advice.</span></p> <p><strong>Rule 3: Don’t overstretch yourself on property</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don’t overstretch yourself on property when there’s a chance interest rates will rise. That’s where we are at the moment ... interest rates are at historic lows and that’s been exciting investors who have been looking much more closely at the monthly mortgage repayment they can afford, than the medium term outlook for property. Rates aren’t going to go up much any time soon, but when they do, so do mortgage repayments.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To be fair to the banks, they’ve pulled right back on lending to investors and have in recent years “stress tested” loans to make sure borrowers can survive a two per cent lift in rates. That’s eight 25 basis point rises in rates by the Reserve Bank. That simply won’t happen any time soon, but meantime don’t buy into anything that’s going to have you financially stretched just because rates are low.</span></p> <p><strong>Rule 4: Take control</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Find out how the share market works and bear in mind that the costs of buying and selling shares are lower now than they have ever been in Australia, thanks to the rise of online trading. Focus initially on buying shares that won’t suddenly let you down but at the same time, you usually have to take a bit of risk to make a good return. Don’t go for anything that looks too good to be true, as it usually is, but a careful crack at a few new floats isn’t the worst way to find out how the market operates.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">See which online advice and market access services are available and sign up to them. Some, like OnMarket’s app, are free, while others provide several different levels of information, some free and others by subscription.</span></p> <p><em>And remember, see Rule one.</em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Andrew Main. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/money/investment/four-essential-rule-for-investors.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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3 easy ways to eradicate mould at home

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It can be difficult to identify hidden mould in an older home. However, once you have discovered it, you can learn to eliminate it forever.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Spores are small, often incognito little gremlins that can grow from one to many in a very short amount of time. They can remain invisible for months or even years, but if they are left alone, they can slowly take over your house and affect your family's health.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, what should you do to identify exactly where those unwanted little spores are lurking?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Energy-efficiency expert and scientist Jenny Edwards from Light House Architecture and Science has uncovered helpful mould precautions tips specifically for Australian homes.</span></p> <p><strong>Tip 1: Don’t block off airways </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the winter months it is easy to close the blinds early and lock in the heat from the heater. However, doing this will create a petri dish of mould in your room, especially bathrooms. Edwards suggests that you should always install a new extractor fan in the bathrooms of older homes. It will stop the moisture from growing spores.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Handy hint:</strong> Keep the extractor fan on after you leave the shower because it needs time to work. </span></p> <p><strong>Tip 2: Try not to dry your clothes inside </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sometimes drying your clothes inside is unavoidable. However, if there is a ray of sunshine outside and a slight breeze, try and let your garments blow in the wind. Wet clothes drying inside will increase the moisture in the air and lead to condensation. Condensation, of course, grows the mould and that is what we are trying to avoid.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Handy hint:</strong> If you do dry clothes inside then at least put them in the sunniest room in the house and have the windows open to allow some sun and air in.</span></p> <p><strong>Tip 3: What do to if your house already has mould </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can be super cautious and attentive but mould can still creep through the cracks. So, if you do discover mould that you missed upon execution, here is what you do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">CEO for Mycology Dr Heike Neumeister-Kemp says that the best way to get rid of mould is using white vinegar and a microfibre cloth. If there is a huge amount of mould that you can't reach, then the last resort would be to use a dehumidifier to attack the build-up of moisture.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you live in a home that is a little older, have a building inspector check for any mould if you think you can smell it but can’t find the source of. It can make the difference.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Handy hint:</strong> The best way to get rid of mould is using white vinegar and a microfibre cloth.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Stewart Bunn. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/3-easy-ways-to-eradicate-mould-at-home.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></em></p>

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Drivers bamboozled over three-way speed limit

<p>A confusing Sydney road featuring three different signs enforcing the speed limit has baffled drivers. </p> <p>A reddit user posted an image of the road with multiple signs with the caption “Let’s play a game.”</p> <p>One sign told drivers to a red light speed camera, saying the speed limit is 50km/h. On the ground, leaning up against that sign post is another sign which says 40km/h due to road work. </p> <p>However, to add to the confusing sage, on the road, the big “60” indicates the speed limit is 60km/h.</p> <p>The road is O’Riordan Street approaching Gardeners Road in Alexandria, in Sydney’s inner city.</p> <p>“Legally, the speed limit is enforced if the numbers are surrounded by a red ring. So the numbers on the road virtually mean nothing, in the eyes of the road laws,” one user wrote.</p> <p>“It's 40. Road work signs supersede the posted limit,” another added.</p> <p>“I work for the traffic control company that is in that area, if it is Alexandria. They're meant to cover other signs if they put out a 40 sign, so someone was lazy,” one Reddit user wrote.</p> <p>The photo was then taken to Facebook page<span> </span>Dash Cam Owners Australia<span> </span>which managed to cause a stir. </p> <p>“The police have answered this question before when it's asked, they say the lowest speed limit is the one that applies,” one informative person replied. </p> <p>A few Facebook users joked all the speeds together should be added together so 40, 50 and 60, which would equal 150km/h.</p> <p>O’Riordan Street’s speed limit was reduced from 60km/h to 50km/h on October 13, 2019. </p> <p>The Road and Maritime Service website reads “Where a road work speed limit sign is displayed, the speed limit is enforceable and must be obeyed.</p> <p>“When approaching roadworks pay attention to all signs and obey reduced speed signs.”</p>

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How easy is it to flip a property?

<p>‘Flipping’ or buying properties to do up and sell can be a lot of work but the pay-off could be huge when the time comes to selling your fixer-upper. With risk comes rewards and flipping properties may just be the best financial decision for you, but weigh up the odds first.</p> <p><strong>Risk versus profit</strong> <br />Most people recognise the risks that come with flipping properties. You invest your time and hard earned money into renovating a home but it may not always pay off when it comes time to sell. Before you do anything, you must plan your budget for fixing up the fixer-upper and budget down to the smallest of things. Investing Answers suggests that you pay for the house in cash and avoid getting a mortgage for it. Even splitting the investment with a partner will be better. Having a mortgage is a "fixed obligation" and it adds extra pressure for you to be successful with flipping.</p> <p><strong>What do buyers look for?</strong> <br />The <a href="http://www.nationalpropertybuyers.com.au/buyers-agents-australia/?gclid=CLXI2pmL_c4CFQuMvQodUnQG9A">Real Estate Buyers Agents Association</a> recently released a survey of the most popular features that Australians want for their new home. These are the top 10 features:</p> <p>1. Open plan living</p> <p>2. At least two bathrooms</p> <p>3. Natural light </p> <p>4. Close to schools and shops</p> <p>5. Kitchens that flow out to outdoor entertainment</p> <p>6. Two living areas</p> <p>7. Level yard</p> <p>8. Pantry</p> <p>9. Storage space</p> <p>10.Secure car space</p> <p>Now that you know the most popular features, you can start to plan your renovations with them in mind. Aussies love to renovate their homes but perhaps more importantly, they like to do it themselves. This means that there will be a lot of costs saved on hiring people to build or demolish.</p> <p><strong>Best house on the worst street or worst house on the best street?</strong> <br />Location can make or break your gains when flipping a property; just remember -  it's all about the serenity. Buying a run-down house and fixing it up can be great, but not if it is on a terrible street. You have to ask yourself if the features of the neighbourhood are going to add value to your home. Research the past rates of property growth in surrounding streets, as well as nearby schools and amenities.</p> <p>If you are now entering the world of flipping property, know that it is a tough game to play. But if you win, the rewards can set you up for a successful financial future. Talk to the team at <a href="https://www.firstnational.com.au/">First National Real Estate</a> to find out the best places to buy for your next investment. </p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/how-easy-is-it-to-flip-a-property.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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How to have a real work-life balance

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Far too many Australians are stressed at work and it’s taking a toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), one in five workers suffers from some form of mental illness whether that be depression, anxiety, stress disorders or suicidal thoughts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Untreated mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces approximately $10.9 billion every year. The importance of easing this stress and anxiety is clear. But is the solution as simple as cutting down on work?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Shannah Kennedy, life coach, corporate speaker, author and co-creator of the Master Class of Wellness, a program that empowers professionals to reach their highest potential, says you can have a successful career and achieve a happy, balanced life without giving up your work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’re taking our work with us everywhere we go these days. Work-life balance isn’t about having lots of time off work, it’s about blending our work and recreation to where we feel we have a sense of control over our health - mentally, physically and emotionally,” she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kennedy says we are often to blame for pushing ourselves too hard. One way we do this is that we don’t set clear boundaries on how we use technology and there is often no separation between our work life and our personal life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Checking phones next to our beds, checking our emails constantly affects the neural pathways for addiction. So people aren’t sleeping properly, they are overwhelmed by information and there is no off switch,” she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The inability to say no to people’s requests when we really should be looking after our own interests is another contributing factor. We quite often put others’ interests ahead of our own trying to be the best family member, employee, or friend that we can be. Kennedy calls this the ‘disease to please’ and it’s a habit that has to be broken if we are going to find a better work-life balance.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many people may not even be aware that they are stressed, caught up in what Kennedy calls the ‘treadmill of life’. Telltale signs include sleep apnoea, overreacting to situations and having thoughts that replay in your head constantly. You may also find that you’re not really present in your relationships, may have high blood pressure or have trouble tasting your food.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Those close to retirement age can be particularly at risk of stress and anxiety as they often haven’t prepared for life beyond work and find themselves having to contemplate starting all over again. “Many have forgotten to work on their friendships and hobbies and have to start from scratch when they retire,” says Kennedy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Life coaches Shannah and Lyndall share their tips for achieving that work-life balance we all long for</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But by managing your workplace stress you can become more productive at work and a healthier, happier and more inspired version of yourself. Follow these key strategies to begin your transformation.</span></p> <p><strong>Learn to say “No”</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We fear rejection and we fear missing out, but it’s important to realise that you can’t do everything without it having a detrimental effect on you,” says Kennedy. But how can you say no without offending people? Kennedy says it’s about being nice first. “Thank the person for their invitation and then say ‘unfortunately I can’t make it this time’. Use the time to do something that helps you rest and rejuvenate instead,” advises Kennedy.</span></p> <p><strong>Have a plan and track your time</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Track your time with a timetable and include work but also activities such as yoga, meditation and social catch ups that improve your mind, body, hobbies and relationships. You should schedule this time in the same as you would important business meetings, advises Kennedy. “Book in the asset first. You are that asset in life and it’s about protecting that asset and booking time out to work on and with that asset,” says Kennedy.</span></p> <p><strong>Have technology boundaries</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don’t sleep with your phone next to your bed and incorporate technology blackout periods into your day. Not checking your work emails will make you feel calmer, but you will also find you become more productive, free from distractions like social media. “From 8pm at night in my house, it’s phones and tablets switched off. Similarly, phones and devices are kept off until after exercise and breakfast and that gives us time to switch off too,” says Kennedy.</span></p> <p><strong>Move your body</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Exercise is a perfect stress release and has the added benefit of keeping us fit, healthy and reenergised. Instead of coming home from work and having more ‘screen time’, invest in your body by going for a walk or taking an exercise class. You will feel more refreshed when you do have to tackle those stressful work deadlines.</span></p> <p><strong>Breathe deeply</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kennedy calls this her big secret that allows her to perform better and without stress in her working life. “Most of the population use only 30 per cent of their lung capacity. They are not maximising the oxygen intake into their bodies and their brains so they can’t think; they can’t make decisions,” she says. To reap the benefits of life-giving oxygen take five deep breaths three times a day. “You can change your whole mental state if you learn how to breathe properly,” says Kennedy.</span></p> <p><strong>Use technology to help you</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don’t be a slave to technology. “Make it your slave and become more productive,” says Kennedy. Program your phone’s calendar with things that are non-negotiable to you and set your phone to notify you when you should be doing them. “That means my yoga, my walk, my friend time, my finances. When you get a notification to do your finances for example, you know you can’t go to bed until you finish them,” Kennedy says.</span></p> <p><strong>See a life coach</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bring some extra help into your life by finding a life coach. “A qualified life coach can help educate you about how to better manage your work-life balance and then help you create the structure you need to be the best version of yourself by helping you improve your health, wellbeing, your family life and career,” says Kennedy.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Dominic Bayley. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.Wyza.com.au">Wyza.com.au.</a></span></em></p>

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NSW looking to remove speed camera warning signs

<p>The NSW government is considering scrapping speed camera warning signs across the state in a move it claimed could save 54 lives a year.</p> <p>Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance said road fatalities had increased and the government was looking at strategies to reduce preventable deaths.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/downloads/dynamic/nsw-road-toll-daily.pdf">Transport for NSW</a>, there have been 312 lives lost on the road so far this year, up by 14 compared to this time last year. The figures are on track to overtake the 2018 record of 347 deaths.</p> <p>“Expert advice says we could save 54 lives a year by removing speed camera warning signs,” Constance said in a statement.</p> <p>“We’ve seen speed cameras reduce fatality rates by 80 per cent at intersections around this state.</p> <p>“Everyone needs to know, if you adhere to the law, you don’t pay a fine. If you pay a fine, the money’s going into the road safety fund to try and teach you to do the right thing in the first place.”</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/our-work/reports/mobile-speed-cameras">report released by the state’s Auditor-General</a> last year said warning signs for speed cameras “limit the effectiveness of the program”, and their removal could help create “a perception that speeding can be enforced anywhere at any time”.</p> <p>The NRMA has spoken against the possible move, with spokesman Peter Khoury saying the signs are important to lower road toll.</p> <p>“The signs are important, they play an important educational role on our roads and the cameras then do the enforcement,” Khoury told <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/nsw-to-remove-speed-camera-warning-signs/news-story/6a8f1b60e744e01bd7b50c503c9f597f">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p>“These cameras intentionally go into some of the most dangerous locations on the roads where people have been killed or injured. What we want is people to slow down – there’s no point telling them two weeks later with a fine in the mail.”</p> <p><a href="https://7news.com.au/travel/driving/sydneys-speed-cameras-make-104-million-in-revenue-in-12-months-c-511092">Reports released last month</a> found that Sydney drivers have paid $104 million in speed camera fines in the last 12 months.</p> <p>However, Khoury said he did not want to focus on the revenue-raising potential of the proposal, which could see the speed camera revenue rise by $200 million a year.</p> <p>“We don’t want it to be a discussion about revenue, we want it to be about what we can do to reduce this horrific road toll,” Khoury said.</p>

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Carer found guilty of assaulting 81-year-old dementia patient

<p><span>A carer who punched her 81-year-old dementia patient in Wollongong has been described by a magistrate as “disturbing” and “nasty”.</span></p> <p><span>On Thursday, Alicia Gawronski was found guilty of common assault and intimidation of Gladys Buchanan in August last year.</span></p> <p><span>Gawronski, who had been working as the live-in carer for Buchanan in her Thirroul home in New South Wales’ south coast, could be heard yelling and swearing at the patient in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-31/alicia-gawronski-guilty-of-punching-81-yo-dementia-patient/11660182" target="_blank">two videos recorded by police</a> outside the elderly woman’s home.</span></p> <p><span>“You are full of s**t,” Gawronski said. “No-one is going to believe someone who is full of s**t and has got dementia, remember that.”</span></p> <p><span>Gawronski also made some threats, including: “If you keep behaving like this, you’ll be going to a nursing home, and I’m going to make sure it’s the worst one available.”</span></p> <p><span>Sounds of slapping and screaming could also be heard in the video.</span></p> <p><span>Buchanan’s neighbour Stephen Leebold called the police after hearing the noise coming from the house.</span></p> <p><span>“There was no way you would talk to a human being like that unless you were trying to denigrate them,” Leebold said.</span></p> <p><span>Senior Constable Brack Lipinski, one of the police officers who responded to the triple zero call, said he saw Buchanan sitting on the floor without her pants on before Gawronski punched her in the leg.</span></p> <p><span>Gawronski said at the court that the slapping noise came from her hitting herself in an attempt to gain Buchanan’s attention.</span></p> <p><span>“Me slapping myself to get her attention, when she goes into these episodes she is not there anymore, it is quite heartbreaking,” she said. “But I am trying to get her to come back.”</span></p> <p><span>She also defended her threats, saying they were akin to “Aussie larrikin pub talk” and not meant to “scare” Buchanan. </span></p> <p><span>“It wasn’t in a sense to upset or scare her, but she didn’t want to go and it got to a point where I couldn’t care for her then she would have to go,” she said.</span></p> <p><span>Magistrate Roger Clisdell said Gawronski was “delusional” for assuming that her physical and verbal abuse against the elderly woman was normal behaviour.</span></p> <p><span>“One could go so far as to say the tone is poisonous, nasty, threatening, mean-spirited,” Magistrate Clisdell said.</span></p> <p><span>“To say what happened that night was ‘disturbing’ was to put it mildly. She was abused and threatened.”</span></p> <p><span>The magistrate said Gawronski had “reached the end of her tether and she was incapable of looking after Ms Buchanan” after rejecting a geriatrician’s advice to put the patient in high supported care.</span></p> <p><span>Gawronski will receive her sentence in December.</span></p>

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