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Super funds are using ‘nudges’ to help you make financial decisions. How do they work?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fernanda-mata-1533222">Fernanda Mata</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-wright-267597">Breanna Wright</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-smith-5152">Liam Smith</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Late last year the federal government announced <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/media-releases/government-unveils-comprehensive-financial-advice">measures</a> to make it easier for Australians to access financial advice.</p> <p>As part of this, the government wants super funds to use “nudges” to get members to engage more with their retirement investments and superannuation, especially when they’re starting work and approaching retirement.</p> <p>While the legislation containing the changes is still in the consultation phase, super funds are <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/super-funds-spend-big-ahead-of-advice-reforms-20240418-p5fkx6">upskilling staff</a> and making other changes to improve customer service or risk a government crackdown.</p> <p>Telling funds to use <a href="https://www.behaviourworksaustralia.org/blog/nudging-what-is-it-and-how-can-we-use-it-forgood">nudge theory</a> to advise on super comes as more than five million Australians are heading towards retirement.</p> <h2>What is nudge theory?</h2> <p>Nudging is used to encourage people to pick the “better” option, without taking away their freedom to choose differently.</p> <p>For example, sending regular reminders to members about the benefits of voluntary contributions can get them to increase the amount they put in. This nudge makes it easier for them to contribute more – the better option – while still allowing them to choose not to.</p> <p>Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/media-releases/government-unveils-comprehensive-financial-advice">explained</a> the government’s changes were needed because so-called “fin-fluencers” were providing unregulated financial advice on social media platforms to Australians unable to pay an adviser.</p> <h2>Helping people protect their interests</h2> <p>There are three ways, supported by research, nudges can help Australians engage with their super.</p> <p><strong>1. Future self visualisation</strong></p> <p>This involves getting young people to think about their <a href="https://www.halhershfield.com/considering-the-future-self">future selves</a> and visualise their life in retirement. This can help them to recognise the long-term benefits of getting actively involved with their super.</p> <p>Showing fund members how they might look when older by using an ageing filter software, for example, can make this visualisation more real for them and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23794607231190607">enhance understanding of their future selves, leading to higher engagement</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Simplification</strong></p> <p>We all know financial products and superannuation can be complicated. The information and choices presented can lead to <a href="https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/choice-overload-bias">decision paralysis</a>, causing people to delay or opt out of making a decision. By simplifying the process, funds can motivate people to get more engaged with their super.</p> <p>To get people to make voluntary contributions, for example, it might be more effective for funds to recommend <a href="https://siepr.stanford.edu/news/how-simple-nudge-can-motivate-workers-save-retirement">a specific percentage of their salary</a> rather than offering several options. Deciding whether to boost contributions by an extra 3%, 4% or 5% can be overwhelming, especially for people with poor <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-financially-literate-here-are-7-signs-youre-on-the-right-track-202331">financial literacy</a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Language and framing</strong></p> <p>The way options are framed and the language super funds use can significantly impact member engagement.</p> <p>Australians may be more likely to make higher voluntary contributions if they are asked how much they want <a href="https://www.bi.team/press-releases/the-small-nudges-that-could-make-young-people-142000-better-off-in-retirement/">to “invest” in their super </a> instead of how much they want to “contribute” or “add”.</p> <p>The word “invest” encourages people to think about future benefits, motivating them to make higher contributions.</p> <p>How options are labelled can also have an impact on <a href="https://www.bi.team/press-releases/the-small-nudges-that-could-make-young-people-142000-better-off-in-retirement/">member engagement</a> and decision making.</p> <p>For example, highlighting concrete benefits of different voluntary payments, such as “a 4% contribution keeps you above the poverty line”, and “a 10% contribution allows for a comfortable retirement according to Australian standards” can increase how much people are willing to contribute.</p> <h2>Ethical use of nudges</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.superreview.com.au/news/superannuation/industry-body-backs-super-fund-nudges-though-parameters-need-be-set">Financial Services Council</a> backs the government on getting super funds to nudge members about contributions and investments but says there are limits.</p> <p>Parameters around nudging should be set […] to ensure that the language is appropriate and does not ultimately amount to defaulting.</p> <p>For example, letting a customer know that as they approach retirement, they need to make a decision about what retirement product they wish to utilise would be an acceptable nudge, while contacting a customer to let them know that they will be placed in a product when they retire, would not necessarily be acceptable.</p> <p>The council emphasises the importance of super funds recognising <a href="https://www.superreview.com.au/news/superannuation/industry-body-backs-super-fund-nudges-though-parameters-need-be-set">people’s autonomy</a> when delivering a “soft” or “hard” nudge.</p> <p>Soft nudges are gentle prompts and reminders designed to guide people to make good choices without pressuring them, such as sending an email reminder to review their investment options. Hard nudges are more direct in their guidance. These might include recommending specific investment options.</p> <p>Despite these differences, <a href="https://www.behaviourworksaustralia.org/blog/can-we-have-a-quiet-word-about-behavioural-science">ethical use of nudges</a> should encourage engagement while respecting people’s autonomy by making it easy for them to opt out.</p> <p>The use of nudges presents a valuable opportunity to increase superannuation fund members’ engagement.</p> <p>Whether through future self visualisation, simplification or language framing, ethical nudges can motivate members to take action, leading to greater confidence in navigating the retirement transition and achieving retirement goals.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230404/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fernanda-mata-1533222">Fernanda Mata</a>, Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-wright-267597">Breanna Wright</a>, Research fellow, BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-smith-5152">Liam Smith</a>, Director, BehaviourWorks, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/super-funds-are-using-nudges-to-help-you-make-financial-decisions-how-do-they-work-230404">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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After 180 years, new clues are revealing just how general anaesthesia works in the brain

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773932/pdf/BLT.15.159293.pdf/">Over 350 million surgeries</a> are performed globally each year. For most of us, it’s likely at some point in our lives we’ll have to undergo a procedure that needs general anaesthesia.</p> <p>Even though it is one of the safest medical practices, we still don’t have a complete, thorough understanding of precisely how anaesthetic drugs work in the brain.</p> <p>In fact, it has largely remained a mystery since general anaesthesia was introduced into medicine over <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/08941939.2015.1061826">180 years ago</a>.</p> <p>Our study published <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0588-23.2024">in The Journal of Neuroscience today</a> provides new clues on the intricacies of the process. General anaesthetic drugs seem to only affect specific parts of the brain responsible for keeping us alert and awake.</p> <h2>Brain cells striking a balance</h2> <p>In a study using fruit flies, we found a potential way that allows anaesthetic drugs to interact with specific types of neurons (brain cells), and it’s all to do with proteins. Your brain has around <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cne.21974">86 billion neurons</a> and not all of them are the same – it’s these differences that allow general anaesthesia to be effective.</p> <p>To be clear, we’re not completely in the dark on <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0165614719300951">how anaesthetic drugs affect us</a>. We know why general anaesthetics are able to make us lose consciousness so quickly, thanks to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/367607a0">landmark discovery made in 1994</a>.</p> <p>But to better understand the fine details, we first have to look to the minute differences between the cells in our brains.</p> <p>Broadly speaking, there are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6591655/">two main categories of neurons in the brain</a>.</p> <p>The first are what we call “excitatory” neurons, generally responsible for keeping us alert and awake. The second are “inhibitory” neurons – their job is to regulate and control the excitatory ones.</p> <p>In our day-to-day lives, excitatory and inhibitory neurons are constantly working and balancing one another.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2017294">When we fall asleep</a>, there are inhibitory neurons in the brain that “silence” the excitatory ones keeping us awake. This happens <a href="https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/2018/01/07/why-do-we-get-tired/">gradually over time</a>, which is why you may feel progressively more tired through the day.</p> <p>General anaesthetics speed up this process by directly silencing these excitatory neurons without any action from the inhibitory ones. This is why your anaesthetist will tell you that they’ll “put you to sleep” for the procedure: <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2372">it’s essentially the same process</a>.</p> <h2>A special kind of sleep</h2> <p>While we know why anaesthetics put us to sleep, the question then becomes: “why do we <em>stay</em> asleep during surgery?”. If you went to bed tonight, fell asleep and somebody tried to do surgery on you, you’d wake up with quite a shock.</p> <p>To date, there is no strong consensus in the field as to why general anaesthesia causes people to remain unconscious during surgery.</p> <p>Over the last couple of decades, researchers have proposed several potential explanations, but they all seem to point to one root cause. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7709148/#:%7E:text=At%20presynaptic%20part%2C%20voltage%2Dgated,anesthetics%20to%20inhibiting%20neurotransmitter%20release.">Neurons stop talking to each other</a> when exposed to general anaesthetics.</p> <p>While the idea of “cells talking to each other” may sound a little strange, it’s a <a href="https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain/brain-physiology/action-potentials-and-synapses">fundamental concept in neuroscience</a>. Without this communication, our brains wouldn’t be able to function at all. And it allows the brain to know what’s happening throughout the body.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Two branching structures in orange, green, blue and yellow colours on a black background." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Colourised neurons in the brain of a fly.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Adam Hines</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What did we discover?</h2> <p>Our new study shows that general anaesthetics appear to stop excitatory neurons from communicating, but not inhibitory ones. <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/40/21/4103">This concept isn’t new</a>, but we found some compelling evidence as to <em>why</em> only excitatory neurons are affected.</p> <p>For neurons to communicate, proteins have to get involved. One of the jobs these proteins have is to get neurons to release molecules called <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22513-neurotransmitters">neurotransmitters</a>. These chemical messengers are what gets signals across from one neuron to another: dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin are all neurotransmitters, for example.</p> <p>We found that general anaesthetics impair the ability of these proteins to release neurotransmitters, but only in excitatory neurons. To test this, we used <a href="https://www.eneuro.org/content/8/3/ENEURO.0057-21.2021"><em>Drosophila melanogaster</em> fruit flies</a> and <a href="https://imb.uq.edu.au/research/facilities/microscopy/training-manuals/microscopy-online-resources/image-capture/super-resolution-microscopy">super resolution microscopy</a> to directly see what effects a general anaesthetic was having on these proteins at a molecular scale.</p> <p>Part of what makes excitatory and inhibitory neurons different from each other is that they <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00007.2012">express different types of the same protein</a>. This is kind of like having two cars of the same make and model, but one is green and has a sports package, while the other is just standard and red. They both do the same thing, but one’s just a little bit different.</p> <p>Neurotransmitter release is a complex process involving lots of different proteins. If one piece of the puzzle isn’t exactly right, then general anaesthetics won’t be able to do their job.</p> <p>As a next research step, we will need to figure out which piece of the puzzle is different, to understand why general anaesthetics only stop excitatory communication.</p> <p>Ultimately, our results hint that the drugs used in general anaesthetics cause massive global inhibition in the brain. By silencing excitability in two ways, these drugs put us to sleep and keep it that way.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229713/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, Research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/after-180-years-new-clues-are-revealing-just-how-general-anaesthesia-works-in-the-brain-229713">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Stamp duty is holding us back from moving homes – we’ve worked out how much

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>If just one state of Australia, New South Wales, scrapped its stamp duty on real-estate transactions, about 100,000 more Australians would move homes each year, according to our <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">best estimates</a>.</p> <p>Stamp duty is an unquestioned part of buying a home in Australia – you put your details in an online mortgage calculator, and stamp duty is automatically deducted from the amount you have to contribute.</p> <p>It’s easy to overlook how much more affordable a home would be without it.</p> <p>That means it’s also easy to overlook how much more Australians would buy and move if stamp duty wasn’t there.</p> <p>The 2010 Henry Tax Review found stamp duty was <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-10/afts_final_report_part_2_vol_1_consolidated.pdf">inequitable</a>. It taxes most the people who most need to or want to move.</p> <p>The review reported: "Ideally, there would be no role for any stamp duties, including conveyancing stamp duties, in a modern Australian tax system. Recognising the revenue needs of the States, the removal of stamp duty should be achieved through a switch to more efficient taxes, such as those levied on broad consumption or land bases."</p> <p>But does stamp duty actually stop anyone moving? It’s a claim more often made than assessed, which is what our team at the <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">e61 Institute</a> set out to do.</p> <p>We used real-estate transaction data and a natural experiment.</p> <h2>What happened when Queensland hiked stamp duty</h2> <p>In 2011, Queensland hiked stamp duty for most buyers by removing some concessions for owner-occupiers at short notice.</p> <p>For owner-occupiers it increased stamp duty by about one percentage point, lifting the average rate from 1.26% of the purchase price to 2.27%.</p> <p>What we found gives us the best estimate to date of what stamp duty does to home purchases.</p> <p>A one percentage point increase in stamp duty causes the number of home purchases to decline by 7.2%.</p> <p>The number of moves (changes of address) falls by about as much.</p> <p>The effect appears to be indiscriminate. Purchases of houses fell about as much as purchases of apartments, and purchases in cities fell about as much as purchases in regions.</p> <p>Moves between suburbs and moves interstate dropped by similar rates.</p> <p>With NSW stamp duty currently averaging about <a href="https://conveyancing.com.au/need-to-know/stamp-duty-nsw">3.5%</a> of the purchase price, our estimates suggest there would be about 25% more purchases and moves by home owners if it were scrapped completely. That’s 100,000 moves.</p> <p>Victoria’s higher rate of stamp duty, about <a href="https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/rates-taxes-duties-and-levies/general-land-transfer-duty-property-current-rates">4.2%</a>, means if it was scrapped there would be about 30% more purchases. That’s another 90,000 moves.</p> <h2>Even low headline rates have big effects</h2> <p>The big effect from small-looking headline rates ought not to be surprising.</p> <p>When someone buys a home, they typically front up much less cash than the purchase price. While stamp duty seems low as a percentage of the purchase price, it is high as a percentage of the cash the buyer needs to find.</p> <p>Here’s an example. If stamp duty is 4% of the purchase price, and a purchaser pays $800,000 for a property with a mortgage deposit of $160,000, the $32,000 stamp duty adds 20%, not 4%, to what’s needed.</p> <p>If the deposit takes five years to save, stamp duty makes it six.</p> <p>A similar thing happens when an owner-occupier changes address. If the buyer sells a fully owned home for $700,000 and buys a new home for $800,000, the upgrade ought to cost them $100,000. A 4% stamp duty lifts that to $132,000.</p> <p>Averaged across all Australian cities, stamp duty costs about <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">five months</a> of after-tax earnings. In Sydney and Melbourne, it’s six.</p> <h2>Stamp duty has bracket creep</h2> <p>This cost has steadily climbed from around <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">six weeks</a> of total earnings in the 1990s. It has happened because home prices have climbed faster than incomes and because stamp duty has brackets, meaning more buyers have been pushed into higher ones.</p> <p>Replacing the stamp duty revenue that states have come to rely on would not be easy, but a switch would almost certainly help the economy function better.</p> <p>The more that people are able to move, the more they will move to jobs to which they are better suited, boosting productivity.</p> <p>The more that people downsize when they want to, the more housing will be made available for others.</p> <p>Our findings suggest the costs are far from trivial, making a switch away from stamp duty worthwhile, even if it is disruptive and takes time.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225773/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, Adjunct Fellow, Department of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/stamp-duty-is-holding-us-back-from-moving-homes-weve-worked-out-how-much-225773">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Why don’t Australians talk about their salaries? Pay transparency and fairness go hand-in-hand

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-t-kulik-150471">Carol T Kulik</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>In Australia, it’s not the done thing to know – let alone ask – what our colleagues are paid. Yet, it’s easy to see how pay transparency can make pay systems fairer and more effective.</p> <p>With more information on how much certain tasks and roles are valued, employees can better understand and interpret pay differences, and advocate for themselves. When pay is weakly aligned with employee contributions, pay transparency can be embarrassing for firms.</p> <p>As the government continues to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/think-your-male-colleagues-earn-more-than-you-soon-you-ll-know-for-sure-20240104-p5ev7i.html">legislate for pay transparency</a>, wise employers should move to identify – and correct – both real and perceived inequities.</p> <h2>The salary taboo</h2> <p>At one extreme, imagine that you work for California-based tech company Buffer, which develops social media tools.</p> <p>Buffer lists the salary of every company employee, in descending order, on its <a href="https://buffer.com/salaries">website</a>. Salaries are non-negotiable and all Buffer employees receive a standard pay raise each year. Prospective job applicants can use Buffer’s online <a href="https://buffer.com/salary-calculator/senior-data-engineer/intermediate">salary calculator</a> to estimate their pay.</p> <p>Does Buffer’s pay system make you cheer – “yay, no uncomfortable salary negotiations!”, or squirm – “what, my salary is on the website?”</p> <p>Most probably, both. There is a persistent social norm researchers call the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272723000725">salary taboo</a>. We want to know, but we don’t like to ask, and we definitely don’t want anyone to know that we’re asking.</p> <p>In Norway, an app that enabled users to <a href="https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20160256">access neighbors’ tax-reported income</a> was enormously popular – but only while the user could remain anonymous.</p> <h2>The problem with not knowing</h2> <p>Historically, companies have given employees only minimal information about their pay systems, and some have even prohibited them from sharing their own pay information.</p> <p>Such non-transparency creates two big problems.</p> <p>First, managers place <a href="https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/achieving-meritocracy-in-the-workplace/">too much trust</a> in organisational systems. The more managers become convinced that pay decisions accurately reflect employee contributions, the less diligent they become about monitoring their own personal biases. Without accountability, it’s easy for an organisation’s pay system to drift into inequity.</p> <p>Second, in the absence of comparative information, employees often suspect they are being underpaid – even if they aren’t.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.payscale.com/research-and-insights/fair-pay-impact/">survey</a> of over 380,000 employees by data firm Payscale, 57% of employees paid <em>at</em> the market rate and 42% of people paid <em>above</em> the market rate all believed they were being underpaid.</p> <p>However, unfounded it might be, a nagging sense of inequity can drive people out the door. Payscale estimates that people who <em>think</em> they are underpaid are 50% more likely than other employees to seek a new job in the next six months.</p> <h2>Pay transparency is trending</h2> <p>Broadly speaking, pay transparency policies see companies report their pay levels or ranges, explain their pay-setting processes, or encourage their employees to share pay information.</p> <p>Some companies voluntarily share pay information in response to workforce demand, but there’s also a trend toward mandating pay transparency.</p> <p>In Australia, pay secrecy terms are <a href="https://theconversation.com/pay-secrecy-clauses-are-now-banned-in-australia-heres-how-that-could-benefit-you-195814">banned</a> from employment contracts and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is <a href="https://www.wgea.gov.au/about/our-legislation/publishing-employer-gender-pay-gaps">publishing employers’ gender pay gaps</a>.</p> <p>The European Union’s <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/es/ip_22_7739">Pay Transparency Directive</a> already publishes gender pay gaps and requires employers to provide comparative pay data to employees upon request. Several US states and cities now require employers to <a href="https://www.govdocs.com/pay-transparency-laws/">include salary ranges</a> in their recruitment materials.</p> <h2>Pay transparency usually has positive effects</h2> <p>In equitable pay systems, pay differences align with the differential values employees bring to the business. When pay systems are transparent, it’s easy for employees to recognise when they – and their coworkers – are being appropriately rewarded for their contributions.</p> <p>Evidence is building that such transparency is often a good thing.</p> <p>For one, it can increase employee <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/002224377801500204">performance and job satisfaction</a>. People also generally <a href="https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/717891">underestimate their bosses’ salaries</a>, so pay transparency can inspire employees to aspire to higher-paid senior positions. And pay transparency identifies staff with unique expertise, so <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2016-01521-001">employees seek help</a> from the right coworkers.</p> <p>Pay transparency has also been shown to help narrow gender pay gaps. As pay transparency rules spread across public academic institutions in the US, the pay gap between male and female academics <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-022-01288-9">dramatically narrowed</a> (in some states, it was even eliminated).</p> <p>In Denmark, where firms are now required to provide pay statistics that compare men and women, the national gender pay gap has <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jofi.13136">declined by 13%</a> relative to the pre-legislation average.</p> <h2>But it can still be risky</h2> <p>Every pay system has pockets of unfairness, where managers have made <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2001-01537-002">special arrangements</a> to attract or retain talent. Pay transparency exposes these exceptions, so they can be immediately explained or corrected.</p> <p>But if there are too many such pockets, managers need to brace for a productivity downturn. When pay transparency reveals systematic inequities – for example, disparities based on gender – overall organisational <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4341804">productivity declines</a>.</p> <p>Over the long run, pay transparency leads to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jofi.13136">flatter and narrower</a> pay distributions, but distributions can also be too flat and too narrow. Managers making pay decisions are aware that their decisions will be directly scrutinised and may <a href="https://journals.aom.org/doi/10.5465/amj.2020.1831">become reluctant</a> to assign high wages even for high performance.</p> <p>If pay <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-022-01288-9">loses its motivating potential</a>, employees can become disheartened, especially <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/peps.12054">star performers</a>.</p> <h2>Proceed with caution</h2> <p>As stakeholders on this issue demand more transparency, employers would be wise to stay ahead of legislative moves.</p> <p>Independently making the first move is a show of good faith and can unfold in stages. A good first step is to reveal the pay ranges associated with groups of related roles, giving employers time to conduct internal audits, communicate with employees and systematically correct inequities as they surface.</p> <p>In contrast, having to reveal pay data because of a government mandate can publicly expose patterns of inequity and cause permanent damage to a company’s reputation.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224067/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-t-kulik-150471">Carol T Kulik</a>, Research Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-dont-australians-talk-about-their-salaries-pay-transparency-and-fairness-go-hand-in-hand-224067">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Two-up, Gallipoli and the ‘fair go’: why illegal gambling is at the heart of the Anzac myth

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bruce-moore-291912">Bruce Moore</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>Two-up is an Australian gambling game in which two coins are placed on a small piece of wood called a “kip” and tossed into the air. Bets are laid as to whether both coins will fall with heads or tails uppermost. It is one of the core activities of Anzac Day celebrations - and a beloved tradition.</p> <p>The word <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/ANZAC">ANZAC</a> was created in 1915 as an acronym from Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. By 1916 it was being used emblematically to reflect the traditional view of the virtues displayed by those in the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/event/Gallipoli-Campaign">Gallipoli campaign</a>, especially as these are seen as national characteristics. This cluster of national characteristics includes mateship, larrikin daredevilry, anti-authoritarianism, and egalitarianism.</p> <p>The game of two-up became indicative of these qualities. Mateship was evident in the way the game brought together people of disparate backgrounds. Larrikinism was evident in the defiant rejection of authority and convention.</p> <p>Two-up was always illegal, because the game is an unregulated form of gambling (although from the 1980s it became legal in most Australian states on Anzac Day). But in spite of the illegality, it was widely regarded as the fairest of gambling games, and at the time of the First World War the verbal command for the coins to be spun was not “come in spinner” (as it is now) but “fair go”. Indeed, the important Australian concept of the “fair go” was in part cemented by its role in the game.</p> <p>Two-up was the common pastime of the urban working-class man, and it feeds into the elements of egalitarianism and anti-authoritarianism that are central to both the Anzac myth and the Australian myth.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=466&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=466&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=466&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=585&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=585&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/458543/original/file-20220419-17-6mgarp.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=585&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Two original 1915 Australian pennies in a kip from which they are tossed.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Roland Scheicher/ Wikimedia</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Two-up and wartime life</h2> <p>From the very early period of the First World War, two-up assumed great importance among the Australian troops. Soldiers reported that two-up was played on the battlefield during the Gallipoli campaign, even when under shellfire. As the war dragged on, numerous stories were told about Australian soldiers’ obsession with playing it.</p> <p>In 1918 the <a href="https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10676229">war correspondent Charles Bean</a> studied the daily life of a company of Australian soldiers stationed at a brewery in Querrieu in northern France.</p> <p>He places great emphasis on two-up, writing in his diary in 1918: "Two-up’ is the universal pastime of the men. … It is a game which starts in any quarter of an hour’s interval or lasts the whole afternoon. The side road outside becomes every evening a perfect country fair with groups playing these games in it - a big crowd of 70 or 80 at the bottom the street, in the middle of the road; a smaller crowd of perhaps twenty on a doorstep further up. … The game is supposed to be illegal, I think; but at any rate in this company they wink at it."</p> <p>Two-up was important not just in taking soldiers’ minds off the realities of the war, but also in creating a strong sense of community. Photographs from the war that show the men playing two-up reveal how it brought them together physically in a communal activity.</p> <p>This helps explains why men, who in civilian life may have had little or no interest in gambling, joined in the camaraderie and fun of the two-up fair, and by so doing blotted out the boredom, isolation, and loneliness of much wartime experience.</p> <h2>Anzac Day and tradition</h2> <p>Playing two-up became an integral part of the diggers’ memories of the experience of war, especially when commemorated on Anzac Day. By the 1930s the playing of two-up outdoors after the Anzac Day march had become an entrenched tradition.</p> <p>As the ranks of diggers from the two world wars declined, so the structure of Anzac Day changed in emphasis. In recent years the Dawn Service has increased greatly in popularity, while the Anzac Day march has <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-07/concern-over-australias-dwindling-number-of-world-war-veterans/10911602">suffered from dwindling numbers</a> of veterans. The streets of Sydney and similar cities are no longer dotted with two-up games in the afternoon. The games have shifted to pubs and clubs, and they are largely played by people with no experience of war.</p> <p>Those people who play the game on this day do so not for any deep-seated gambling impulse or because they would love to play the game on every other day of the year. They play two-up because it has become part of the meaning of Anzac Day.</p> <p>Anzac Day has always combined solemnity and festivity. The Dawn Service commemorates the landing at Gallipoli, and the sacrifices that ensued. Its mood is solemn.</p> <p>In the past, returned soldiers reminisced, told war yarns, drank, and played two-up. The soldiers have passed on, but their larrikinism survives in the tradition of the game they have bequeathed to their descendants.</p> <p>We should not underestimate the significance of rituals of this kind—the playing of two-up is a way in which Australians can become not just observers of, but participants in, their history and their myths. Two-up is a ritual that links the present with the past on this one day of the year.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/181337/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bruce-moore-291912">Bruce Moore</a>, Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Literature, Languages, and Linguistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/two-up-gallipoli-and-the-fair-go-why-illegal-gambling-is-at-the-heart-of-the-anzac-myth-181337">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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50 years on, Advance Australia Fair no longer reflects the values of many. What could replace it?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/wendy-hargreaves-1373285">Wendy Hargreaves</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>On April 8 1974, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announced to parliament the nation’s new national anthem: <a href="https://www.pmc.gov.au/honours-and-symbols/australian-national-symbols/australian-national-anthem">Advance Australia Fair</a>.</p> <p>Australia was growing up. We could stop saving “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Save_the_King">our gracious Queen</a>” and rejoice in being “young” and “girt”.</p> <p>Finding a new anthem hadn’t been easy. There were unsuccessful <a href="https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/fact-sheets/australias-national-anthem">songwriting competitions</a> and an unconvincing opinion poll. Finally, we landed on rebooting an Australian favourite from 1878.</p> <p>After Whitlam’s announcement, Australians argued, state officials declined the change and the next government reinstated the British anthem in part. It took another ten years, another poll and an official proclamation in 1984 to adopt the new anthem uniformly and get on with looking grown-up.</p> <p>Advance Australia Fair was never the ideal answer to “what shall we sing?”. The original lyrics ignored First Nations people and overlooked women. Like a grunting teenager, it both answered the question and left a lot out.</p> <p>On its 50th anniversary, it’s time to consider whether we got it right. Advance Australia Fair may have helped Australia transition through the 1970s, but in 2024, has it outstayed its welcome?</p> <h2>How do you pick a national anthem?</h2> <p>A national anthem is a government-authorised song performed at official occasions and celebrations. It unifies people and reinforces national identity. Often, governments nominate a tune by searching through historical patriotic songs to find a <a href="https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/golden-oldie">golden oldie</a> with known public appeal.</p> <p>For example, the lyrics of the Japanese anthem <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimigayo">Kimigayo</a> came from pre-10th-century poetry. Germany’s anthem <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Deutschlandlied">Deutschlandlied</a> adopted a 1797 melody from renowned composer <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Joseph-Haydn">Joseph Haydn</a>. An enduring song or text offers star quality, proven popularity and the prestige of age.</p> <p>In the 1970s, Australia’s attempt at finding a golden oldie was flawed. In that era, many believed Australia’s birth occurred at the arrival of explorer <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/James-Cook">James Cook</a> in 1770. Hence, we narrowed our search to hymns, marches and fanfares from our colonial history for possible anthems.</p> <p>With 2020s hindsight (pun intended), <a href="https://theconversation.com/our-national-anthem-is-non-inclusive-indigenous-australians-shouldnt-have-to-sing-it-118177">expecting First Nations</a> people to sing Advance Australia Fair was hypocritical. We wanted to raise Australia’s visibility internationally, yet the custodians of the lands and waterways were unseen by our country’s eyes. We championed “history’s page” with a 19th-century song that participated in racial discrimination.</p> <h2>Changing anthems</h2> <p>With a half-century on the scoreboard, are we locked in to singing Advance Australia Fair forever? No.</p> <p>Anthems can change. Just ask <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Morrison_(jazz_musician)">James Morrison</a>. In 2003, the Australian trumpeter played the Spanish national anthem beautifully at the <a href="https://www.daviscup.com/en/home.aspx">Davis Cup</a> tennis final. Unfortunately, he <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2003-11-28/spanish-angry-over-anthem-mix-up/1516684">played the old anthem</a> that heralded civil war.</p> <p>Morrison’s accidental performance incited a fist-shaking dignitary and an enraged Spanish team who temporarily refused to play. Morrison did, however, to his embarrassment, later receive some excited fan mail from Spanish revolutionists.</p> <p>If we want to change our anthem, where could we begin? We could start by revisiting the golden-oldie approach with a more inclusive ear. Perhaps there’s a song from contemporary First Nations musicians we could consider, or a song from their enduring oral tradition that they deem appropriate (and grant permission to use).</p> <p>If we have learnt anything from Australian history, it’s that we must include and ask – not exclude and take.</p> <p>We could also consider Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton’s 1987 song <a href="https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/asset/101146-i-am-australian-various">I Am Australian</a>, which reached golden-oldie status last year when the <a href="https://www.nfsa.gov.au/slip-slop-slap-i-am-australian-join-sounds-australia">National Film and Sound Archive</a> added it to their registry. The lyrics show the acknowledgement and respect of First Nations people that our current anthem lacks. The line “we are one, but we are many” captures the inclusivity with diversity we now value.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KrLTe1_9zso?wmode=transparent&start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>I Am Australian wouldn’t be a problem-free choice. Musically, the style is a “light rock” song, not a grand “hymn”, which could be a plus or minus depending on your view. Lyrically, romanticising convicted killer <a href="https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kelly-edward-ned-3933">Ned Kelly</a> is controversial, and mispronouncing “Australians” could be considered inauthentic (fair dinkum Aussies say “Au-strail-yins”, not “Au-stray-lee-uhns”).</p> <p>That said, Australians are quite experienced at patching holes in our anthem. Advance Australia Fair required many adjustments.</p> <p>If the golden-oldie approach fails again, how about composing a new anthem? We could adopt <a href="https://nationalanthems.info/ke.htm">Kenya’s approach</a> of commissioning an anthem, or could revive the good ol’ songwriting competition. Our past competitions weren’t fruitful, but surely our many talented musicians and poets today can meet the challenge.</p> <h2>It’s time to ask</h2> <p>Fifty years on, we acknowledge Advance Australia Fair as the anthem that moved our nation forward. That was the first and hardest step. Today, if Australians choose, we can retire the song gracefully and try again with a clearer voice.</p> <p>Changing our anthem begins with asking whether the current song really declares who we are. Have our values, our perspectives and our identity changed in half a century?</p> <p>Australia, it’s your song. Are you happy to sing Advance Australia Fair for another 50 years? <img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226737/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/wendy-hargreaves-1373285">Wendy Hargreaves</a>, Senior Learning Advisor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/50-years-on-advance-australia-fair-no-longer-reflects-the-values-of-many-what-could-replace-it-226737">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock | Wikimedia Commons</em></p>

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How to fall asleep without sleeping pills: 7 natural sleep aids that actually work

<p>It’s 3am and you’re suddenly wide awake. Try these seven science-backed strategies to fall back to sleep fast.</p> <p><strong>Give meditation a try </strong></p> <p>As a mindfulness coach, I’m very aware of the day-to-day anxieties and worries that can interfere with a good night’s sleep. One of the most effective natural sleep aids is a quick meditation session to ease yourself out of those stresses. If you’ve never meditated before, you’ll likely find the meditation interrupted by thoughts flashing through your mind.</p> <p>It’s important for you to know that this isn’t a failure on your part, and that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Thinking is just what the brain does, as naturally as lungs take in air. The point is to be non-judgmental yet aware of your thoughts, bodily experiences and breath, moment by moment.</p> <p><em>Sleep better, feel better! <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/rollers-resistance/27-72435-gaiam-strengthen-stretch-kit?affiliate=GAIAM6O" target="_blank" rel="noopener">This Blackout Sleep Mask from Gaiam</a> will help you feel well rested and renewed. </em></p> <p><strong>Stop wanting to fall asleep</strong></p> <p>It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it? Sometimes trying too hard to do something is the very thing that prevents us from achieving it – and that’s never more true than when it comes to falling asleep. Desperately wanting to sleep will only stoke anxieties that will further stress your brain, essentially feeding it the message that it’s not safe to sleep.</p> <p>Throw in those worries about your to-do list at work the following day, and the whole thing can snowball into a panic attack. Try letting go of that feeling that you absolutely must sleep now, and observe your own anxieties for what they are without judgment. When you stop looking at sleep as a goal, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep.</p> <p><em>Before you climb into bed, set aside 10-15 minutes to help relax your body and mind, with <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/restore-massage/27-73353-gaiam-wellness-acupressure-neck-back-pillow?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this wellness acupressure neck and back pillow from Gaiam</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Start a journal </strong></p> <p>If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, pick up a pen and paper (not your phone!), and start writing: simply scribble down an account of what’s going on inside your head. Although there’s no “right” way to journal, you might start by listing the events of your day, and from there, how those events and encounters made you feel.</p> <p>Building this structured picture of your thoughts may help you see that the problem that’s keeping you up at night, and is likely less overwhelming than you thought. Why my insistence on a pen and paper? First off, studies show the simple motor action that’s involved in the act of handwriting has a calming effect. Secondly, the light emitted by laptops and phones isn’t conducive to falling asleep.</p> <p><strong>Find yourself a "3am friend"</strong></p> <p>Some of us are lucky to have a ‘3am friend’, that close confidant you can call up in the wee hours knowing that they won’t hold it against you in the morning. Although it’s great to have someone to talk to when you want to fall asleep, it’s important that the conversation doesn’t just rehash the anxieties that are preventing you from catching shut-eye in the first place.</p> <p>Rather than using the call to seek solutions for those issues, talk about things that calm your nerves, or even have them assist you in deep breathing. It may sound silly, but doing a series of deep, relaxing breaths can help you let go of the troubles that are keeping you wide awake.</p> <p><strong>Take a warm shower</strong></p> <p>Taking a warm shower not only relaxes your muscles and soothes minor aches and pains, but it also raises your core body temperature. As soon as you step out of the shower, your body starts working at lowering that temperature, which is something that normally happens when you’re falling asleep naturally.</p> <p>(That’s why we always feel the need for a blanket when we sleep, no matter how warm it is!) By kick-starting that temperature-lowering process, you’re tricking your body into falling asleep fast.</p> <p><strong>Stretch yourself to sleep </strong></p> <p>Anxiety keeping you up? Research suggests mild stretching can help take the edge off and relax muscles that have become stiff and sore after a long day. We’re not talking intricate yoga poses or acrobatics here, either: Simple stretches like an overhead arm stretch and bending over to touch your toes should do the trick. Ramp up the relaxation potential with a soundtrack of ambient noise at a volume that’s just barely audible.</p> <p>There are plenty of white noise apps that are free to download, but soft music can work as well (so long as there are no lyrics). Just remember, if you’re using an electronic device to play these sleep-promoting sounds, make sure it’s placed screen-down so you’re not distracted by the light it emits.</p> <p><em>Stretching is healing, and this <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/rollers-resistance/27-72435-gaiam-strengthen-stretch-kit?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Strengthen and Stretch Kit from Gaiam</a> is a great way to start. An on-line workout is also included to get you started.</em></p> <p><strong>Read (or listen!) to something new</strong></p> <p>When you’re struggling with insomnia, it might be tempting to pull an old favourite off the bookshelf. In reality, it’s better to read or listen to an audio book that covers a topic on which you know absolutely nothing. New information, while taking attention away from the stressors that are keeping you up at night, gives your brain enough of a workout to make it tire more quickly than when it’s engaged with familiar subjects and concepts.</p> <p>Again, if it’s an audio book or podcast you’re listening to, make sure the light-emitting side of the device is face down to keep the room as dark as possible. Darkness and warmth play an essential part in the production and maintenance of melatonin, the hormone that plays the central role falling asleep.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article by </em><em>Deepak Kashyap </em><em style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/sleep/how-to-fall-asleep-without-sleeping-pills-7-natural-sleep-aids-that-actually-work" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Body

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10 million animals die on our roads each year. Here’s what works (and what doesn’t) to cut the toll

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778">Graeme Coulson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>There’s almost no warning. A dark shape appears on the side of the road, then you feel a jolt as something goes under the car. Or worse, the shape rears up, hits the front of your vehicle, then slams into the windscreen. You have just experienced a wildlife-vehicle collision.</p> <p>This gruesome scene plays out <a href="https://www.bbcearth.com/news/australias-road-kill-map">every night across Australia</a>. When these collisions happen, many animals become instant roadkill. An <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/handle/2123/23121/Thesis%20updated%20for%20library%20submission.pdf?sequence=1">estimated 10 million</a> native mammals, reptiles, birds and other species are killed each year.</p> <p>Others are injured and die away from the road. Some survive with <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">terrible injuries and have to be euthanised</a>. The lucky ones might <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">be rescued</a> by groups such as <a href="https://wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue</a>, <a href="https://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/">Wildlife Victoria</a> and <a href="https://www.wires.org.au/">WIRES</a>.</p> <p>Wildlife-vehicle collisions also increase the risk to whole populations of some threatened species, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/WR17143">Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo</a> on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland.</p> <p>People are affected, too. Human <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/1742-6723.13361">deaths and injuries</a> from these collisions are rising, with motorcyclists at greatest risk. Vehicle repairs are <a href="https://www.mynrma.com.au/-/media/wildlife-road-safety-report--final.pdf">inconvenient and costly</a>. Added to this is the distress for people when dealing with a dead or dying animal on the roadside.</p> <p>How can we reduce the wildlife toll on our roads? Many measures have been tried and proven largely ineffective. However, other evidence-based approaches can help avoid collisions.</p> <h2>Evidence for what works is limited</h2> <p>Many communities are worried about the growing impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions and are desperate for solutions. Recent reports from <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">Europe</a> and <a href="https://westerntransportationinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/4w7576_Huijser_etal_WVC_ConnectivityLiteratureReview_PooledFundStudyFinalReport_2021.pdf">North America</a> review the many methods to reduce such collisions.</p> <p>Do these findings apply to Australia’s unique fauna? Unfortunately, we don’t have a detailed analysis of options for our wildlife, but here’s what we know now.</p> <p>Well-designed fences keep wildlife off our highways but also fragment the landscape. Happily, animals will use crossing structures – overpasses and <a href="https://theconversation.com/good-news-highway-underpasses-for-wildlife-actually-work-187434">underpasses</a> – to get to food and mates on the other side of the road. Fences and crossings do work, but are regarded as too costly over Australia’s vast road network.</p> <p>As for standard wildlife warning signs, drivers <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494358/">ignore most of them</a> after a while, making them ineffective. Signs with graphic images and variable messages get <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani3041142">more attention</a>, but we need road trials to assess their effect on drivers and collision rates.</p> <h2>Whistling in the dark</h2> <p>Some drivers install cheap, wind-driven, high-pitched wildlife whistles on their vehicles. Tests in the United States 20 years ago found humans and deer <a href="https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1582071">could not hear any whistling sound</a> above the road noise of the test vehicle. Yet these devices are still sold in Australia as kangaroo deterrents.</p> <p>The Shu-Roo, an Australian invention, is an active wildlife whistle. It is fitted to the bumper bar, producing a high-pitched electronic sound, which is claimed to scare wildlife away from the road. Sadly, <a href="https://rest.neptune-prod.its.unimelb.edu.au/server/api/core/bitstreams/3c3154e0-2f48-5b73-a6cd-a7423c2a75ee/content">our tests</a> show the Shu-Roo signal can’t be heard above road noise 50 metres away and has no effect on captive kangaroo behaviour.</p> <p>We also recruited fleets of trucks, buses, vans, utes and cars to field test the Shu-Roo. Nearly 100 vehicles covered more than 4 million kilometres across Australia over 15,500 days. The drivers reported just over one wildlife-vehicle collision per 100,000km travelled, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2021.042">there was no difference in the rate</a> for vehicles fitted with a Shu-Roo versus those without one.</p> <p>The virtual fence is the latest attempt to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. It uses a line of posts spaced along the roadside, each with a unit producing loud sounds and flashing lights aimed away from the road. Vehicle headlights activate the units, which are claimed to alert animals and reduce the risk of collision.</p> <p>Early results from Tasmania were encouraging. A 50% drop in possum and wallaby deaths was reported, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/AM19009">this trial had many design flaws</a>. Recent trials in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/10/752">Tasmania</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/10/1323">New South Wales</a> and <a href="https://www.redland.qld.gov.au/downloads/download/292/virtual_fence_to_reduce_vehicle_collisions_with_wallabies_on_heinemann_rd_-_final_report_2020">Queensland</a> show no effect of virtual fencing on collisions with possums, wallabies or wombats.</p> <p>Our concern is that this system is being <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-02/wildlife-fence-trial-underway-in-queensland-and-phillip-island/12268110">rolled out</a> in <a href="https://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/about-council/news-and-publications/media-releases/2023/june/councils-innovative-trial-helping-keep-local-wildlife-safe">many</a> <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-26/nsw-south-coast-council-first-virtual-fence-to-protect-wildlife/101571600">parts</a> of <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/the-stealth-tech-aiming-to-stop-roos-from-becoming-roadkill-20231222-p5etda.html">Australia</a>. It gives the impression of action to reduce collisions with wildlife, but without an evidence base, solid study design or adequate monitoring.</p> <h2>A very messy problem</h2> <p>The problem has many dimensions. We need to consider all of them to achieve safe travel for people and animals on our roads.</p> <p>At a landscape level, collision hotspots occur where wildlife frequently cross roads, which can help us predict the collision risk for species such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13465">koalas</a>. But the risk differs between species. For example, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01530">on Phillip Island</a> most wallaby collisions happen on rural roads, while most involving possums and birds are in urban streets.</p> <p>Traffic volume and speed are key factors for many species, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2306">kangaroos</a>.</p> <p>Driver training and experience are also important. In the Royal National Park in New South Wales, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/6/6/40">half the drivers surveyed</a> had struck animals, including wallabies and deer. Yet most still <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">weren’t keen</a> to slow down or avoid driving at dawn and dusk.</p> <p>Road design has a major influence on wildlife-vehicle collions too, but the planning process too often <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2022.959918">neglects wildlife studies</a>.</p> <p>Smarter cars are <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">being developed</a>. One day these will use AI to spot animal hazards, apply automatic emergency braking and alert other drivers of real-time risk.</p> <p>To explore potential technological solutions, Transport for NSW is running a <a href="https://www.eianz.org/events/event/symposium-using-technology-to-reduce-wildlife-vehicle-collisions">symposium</a> at the University of Technology Sydney on May 21. The symposium will cover wildlife ecology and the evidence base for options to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions in Australia.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If you see an injured animal on the road, call <a href="https://www.wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue Australia</a> on 1300 596 457. for specific state and territory numbers, go to the <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">RSPCA injured wildlife site</a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222367/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778"><em>Graeme Coulson</em></a><em>, Honorary Principal Fellow, School of BioSciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-die-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-what-works-and-what-doesnt-to-cut-the-toll-222367">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Who will look after us in our final years? A pay rise alone won’t solve aged-care workforce shortages

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-duckett-10730">Stephen Duckett</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Aged-care workers will receive a significant pay increase after the Fair Work Commission <a href="https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/pdf/2024fwcfb150.pdf">ruled</a> they deserved substantial wage rises of up to 28%. The federal government <a href="https://ministers.dewr.gov.au/burke/fair-work-decision-aged-care">has committed to</a> the increases, but is yet to announce when they will start.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Tens of thousands of aged care workers will receive a major pay rise after the Fair Work Commission recommended the increase. <a href="https://t.co/NeNt1Gvxd9">https://t.co/NeNt1Gvxd9</a></p> <p>— SBS News (@SBSNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBSNews/status/1768557710537068889?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 15, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>But while wage rises for aged-care workers are welcome, this measure alone will not fix all workforce problems in the sector. The number of people over 80 is expected to <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-08/p2023-435150.pdf">triple over the next 40 years</a>, driving an increase in the number of aged care workers needed.</p> <h2>How did we get here?</h2> <p>The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which delivered its <a href="https://www.royalcommission.gov.au/aged-care/final-report">final report</a> in March 2021, identified a litany of tragic failures in the regulation and delivery of aged care.</p> <p>The former Liberal government was dragged reluctantly to accept that a total revamp of the aged-care system was needed. But its <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/respect-care-and-dignity-aged-care-royal-commission-452-million-immediate-response-as-government-commits-to-historic-reform-to-deliver-respect-and-care-for-senior-australians#:%7E:text=Minister%20for%20Senior%20Australians%20and,%2C%20dementia%2C%20food%20and%20nutrition.">weak response</a> left the heavy lifting to the incoming Labor government.</p> <p>The current government’s response started well, with a <a href="https://theconversation.com/anthony-albanese-offers-2-5-billion-plan-to-fix-crisis-in-aged-care-180419">significant injection of funding</a> and a promising regulatory response. But it too has failed to pursue a visionary response to the problems identified by the Royal Commission.</p> <p>Action was needed on four fronts:</p> <ul> <li>ensuring enough staff to provide care</li> <li>building a functioning regulatory system to encourage good care and weed out bad providers</li> <li>designing and introducing a fair payment system to distribute funds to providers and</li> <li>implementing a financing system to pay for it all and achieve intergenerational equity.</li> </ul> <p>A government taskforce which proposed a <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-will-aged-care-look-like-for-the-next-generation-more-of-the-same-but-higher-out-of-pocket-costs-225551">timid response to the fourth challenge</a> – an equitable financing system – was released at the start of last week.</p> <p>Consultation closed on a <a href="https://media.opan.org.au/uploads/2024/03/240308_Aged-Care-Act-Exposure-Draft-Joint-Submission_FINAL.pdf">very poorly designed new regulatory regime</a> the week before.</p> <p>But the big news came at end of the week when the Fair Work Commission handed down a further <a href="https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/pdf/2024fwcfb150.pdf">determination</a> on what aged-care workers should be paid, confirming and going beyond a previous <a href="https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/sites/work-value-aged-care/decisions-statements/2022fwcfb200.pdf">interim determination</a>.</p> <h2>What did the Fair Work Commission find?</h2> <p>Essentially, the commission determined that work in industries with a high proportion of women workers has been traditionally undervalued in wage-setting. This had consequences for both care workers in the aged-care industry (nurses and <a href="https://training.gov.au/Training/Details/CHC33021">Certificate III-qualified</a> personal-care workers) and indirect care workers (cleaners, food services assistants).</p> <p>Aged-care staff will now get significant pay increases – 18–28% increase for personal care workers employed under the Aged Care Award, inclusive of the increase awarded in the interim decision.</p> <figure class="align-center "><figcaption></figcaption>Indirect care workers were awarded a general increase of 3%. Laundry hands, cleaners and food services assistants will receive a further 3.96% <a href="https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decision-summaries/2024fwcfb150-summary.pdf">on the grounds</a> they “interact with residents significantly more regularly than other indirect care employees”.</figure> <p>The final increases for registered and enrolled nurses will be determined in the next few months.</p> <h2>How has the sector responded?</h2> <p>There has been no push-back from employer groups or conservative politicians. This suggests the uplift is accepted as fair by all concerned.</p> <p>The interim increases of up to 15% probably facilitated this acceptance, with the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-does-the-budget-mean-for-medicare-medicines-aged-care-and-first-nations-health-192842">recognition of the community</a> that care workers should be paid more than fast food workers.</p> <p>There was <a href="https://www.accpa.asn.au/media-releases/accpa-welcomes-further-aged-care-wage-rises">no criticism from aged-care providers</a> either. This is probably because they are facing difficulty in recruiting staff at current wage rates. And because government payments to providers reflect the <a href="https://www.ihacpa.gov.au/">actual cost of aged care</a>, increased payments will automatically flow to providers.</p> <p>When the increases will flow has yet to be determined. The government is due to give its recommendations for staging implementation by mid-April.</p> <h2>Is the workforce problem fixed?</h2> <p>An increase in wages is necessary, but alone is not sufficient to solve workforce shortages.</p> <p>The health- and social-care workforce is <a href="https://www.jobsandskills.gov.au/data/employment-projections">predicted</a> to grow faster than any other sector over the next decade. The “care economy” will <a href="https://theconversation.com/care-economy-to-balloon-in-an-australia-of-40-5-million-intergenerational-report-211876">grow</a> from around 8% to around 15% of GDP over the next 40 years.</p> <p>This means a greater proportion of school-leavers will need to be attracted to the aged-care sector. Aged care will also need to attract and retrain workers displaced from industries in decline and attract suitably skilled migrants and refugees with appropriate language skills.</p> <p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/demand-driven-funding-for-universities-is-frozen-what-does-this-mean-and-should-the-policy-be-restored-116060">caps on university and college enrolments</a> imposed by the previous government, coupled with weak student demand for places in key professions (such as nursing), has meant workforce shortages will continue for a few more years, despite the allure of increased wages.</p> <p>A significant increase in intakes into university and vocational education college courses preparing students for health and social care is still required. Better pay will help to increase student demand, but funding to expand place numbers will ensure there are enough qualified staff for the aged-care system of the future. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225898/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-duckett-10730">Stephen Duckett</a>, Honorary Enterprise Professor, School of Population and Global Health, and Department of General Practice and Primary Care, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/who-will-look-after-us-in-our-final-years-a-pay-rise-alone-wont-solve-aged-care-workforce-shortages-225898">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Retirement Income

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"It's just not fair": Driver slams council for misleading parking fine

<p>A furious motorist has taken aim at a Sydney council's parking solution that resulted in an "outrageous" and "unjustified" fine. </p> <p>Ben drives to the Campbelltown train station in South West Sydney every day for his workday commute, and has recently been forced to find alternative parking plans due to a major disruption. </p> <p>A multi-deck carpark is being built near the station to accommodate the influx of traffic, but while the site is under construction, a makeshift parking lot has been set up. </p> <p>While the new car park will add 500 parking bays when completed, residents have claimed the council has drastically reduced the number of spaces in the meantime.</p> <p>Ben told <em><a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/sydney-parking-rules-drivers-outrage-over-tiny-detail-in-parking-fine/4cfe4d45-c311-4587-b68a-fc1d017675fc" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9news.com.au</a></em> parking had become "a nightmare" since the temporary lot opened, leaving many motorists with no option but to park along the fence line. </p> <p>It's this act that saw Ben receive a $129 parking fine in the mail. </p> <p>He was outraged when he was issued a fine on February 9th for "not stand vehicle in a marked parking space" when he had no other parking option. </p> <p>"They've advertised that the temporary car park is the same amount of spaces lost during the construction, which is severely incorrect," he said.</p> <p>"I can only assume they are fining loads of drivers as that space along the fence line is always full of cars parked the same as mine was."</p> <p>Along with the fine itself, ticket inspectors supplied Ben a photo of a wordy and confusing sign located near the entrance to the lot, which only added to his frustration with the local council.</p> <p>He said while there were no marked bays along the fence line, signage was not clear enough to indicate to drivers they weren't allowed to park there.</p> <p>"I mean it's just not fair. It's a temporary gravel parking lot," he said.</p> <p>"They've created this mess and now they are targeting innocent commuters fighting to just leave their car somewhere to catch public transport into work."</p> <p>A spokesperson for Campbelltown City Council told <em>Nine News</em> they understood the construction of the new car park would "create some disruption".</p> <p>"A temporary 113-space parking lot has been opened adjacent to the existing parking lot in order to offset some of the parking loss," they said.</p> <p>The council was "actively monitoring and reviewing the current parking and signage arrangements as well as community feedback, to identify any further improvements that could be made and inform any additional community notification required".</p> <p>"While this review takes place, vehicles will only be fined where a safety risk to both other vehicles and/or pedestrians is identified," the spokesperson said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News</em></p>

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Boss slammed for demanding an employee complete work during annual leave

<p dir="ltr">A boss has been dubbed an “abysmal manager” for demanding his employee join a video call for work, despite being on annual leave. </p> <p dir="ltr">Businessman Ben Askins, who has dedicated his TikTok account to calling out unacceptable workplace behaviour, read out the text exchange between the man and his boss, who quickly became unreasonable in his demands. </p> <p dir="ltr">The first message came from the man’s boss, who asked “Where are you? Haven’t seen you at your desk today? I need to run something by you.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The employee responded, reminding his boss that he was off on pre-approved annual leave, and was enjoying a holiday abroad in Spain. </p> <p dir="ltr">Despite his holiday, the employee still offered to help, saying he could “probably jump on a quick call when I am on the bus from the airport if it is really urgent.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C2QFCsgtSoS/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C2QFCsgtSoS/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Ben Askins (@benaskins.official)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Unhappy with the compromise, the demanding boss then asked if the employee would “jump on a Zoom call when you get to the hotel” as he would “prefer to do this in person”. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Sorry, not really possible, we have a really packed schedule,” the worker replied to his boss, to which the manager hit back with, “Damn, wish you had told me that you were on annual leave.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The man reminded his boss he had signed off his leave two months prior and it was “in the system” but he came back saying, “Lol as if I would remember that. It is poor form for you to not remind me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As Ben continued to read the text exchange, he added his own commentary on the situation, saying, “It's your job to remember that, it's not his fault you're just being unbelievably shocking at yours.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is so bad, this poor employee has done everything right; he's got it signed off two months in advance, he's done all the handover, he's done everything he could have done,' Ben ranted. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Because the manager is shocking, it's now impacting the employee's holiday. I just hate it when that happens.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ben, a self-described “champion of younger gens in the workplace” said the heated chat showed the boss's “really poor” form and “abysmal management”. </p> <p dir="ltr">“What are you doing being so unorganised? Because the problem when an unorganised manager happens it hits down to the team below him - what the hell he's playing at? I have no idea,” he said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Ben's clip was viewed more than 2.3million and had users fired up, with thousands of comments flooding in in support of the burnt out employee trying to enjoy his holiday. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p> <p> </p>

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What is micellar water and how does it work?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniel-eldridge-1494633">Daniel Eldridge</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Micellar water, a product found in supermarkets, chemists and bathroom cabinets around the world, is commonly used to remove make-up. It’s a very effective cleanser and many people swear by it as part of their skincare routine.</p> <p>So, what is micellar water and why is it so good at getting makeup and sunscreen off? Here’s the science.</p> <h2>What are micelles?</h2> <p>Oil and water generally don’t mix, which is why you’ll struggle to remove makeup and sunscreen (which both contain oils) with just plain water.</p> <p>But micellar water products contain something called micelles – clusters of molecules that are <em>very</em> effective at removing oily substances. To understand why, you need to first know two chemistry terms: hydrophilic and hydrophobic.</p> <p>A hydrophilic substance “loves” water and mixes easily with it. Salt and sugar are examples.</p> <p>A hydrophobic substance “hates” water and generally refuses to mix with it. Examples include oil and wax.</p> <p>Hydrophilic materials will happily mix with other hydrophilic materials. The same goes for hydrophobic substances. But if you try to combine hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials, they won’t mix.</p> <h2>How are micelles formed? It’s all about surfactants</h2> <p>The micelles in micellar water are formed by special molecules known as surfactants.</p> <p>Surfactant stands for surface active agent. These molecules looked at their hydrophilic and hydrophobic brethren and said, why not both? They are typically comprised of two ends: a head group that is hydrophilic and a tail that is hydrophobic.</p> <p>When a small amount of surfactant is added to water, the two ends of the molecule have competing interests. The hydrophilic head wants to be in the water, but the hydrophobic tail can’t stand water.</p> <p>Add enough surfactant and, eventually, we will pass a critical micelle concentration and the surfactants will self-assemble into clusters of approximately 20 to 100 surfactant molecules.</p> <p>All the hydrophilic heads will be pointing outwards, while the hydrophobic tails remain “hidden” at the centre. These clusters are micelles.</p> <p>These micelles have a hydrophilic exterior, meaning that they are very happy to remain mixed throughout water. However, in the centre remains a hydrophobic pocket that’s very good at attracting oils.</p> <p>This is very handy, and helps explain why adding some detergent (a surfactant) to water will allow you to wash an oily saucepan. The surfactant first helps lift of the oil, and then the oil can remained mixed into the water, finding a new home in the hydrophobic centre of the micelle.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fnRBCn8fm2o?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Micellar water in action</h2> <p>Surfactants are in your dishwashing detergent, your body wash, your shampoo, your toothpaste and even many foods. In all of these cases, they are there to help the water interact with the dirt and oils, and micellar water is no different.</p> <p>When you apply some micellar water to a cotton pad, another convenient interaction occurs. The wet cotton is hydrophilic (loves water). Consequently, some of the micelles will unravel, with the hydrophilic heads being attracted to the wet cotton pad.</p> <p>Now, sticking out from the surface will be a layer of hydrophobic tail groups. These hydrophobic tails cannot wait to attract themselves to makeup, sunscreen, oils, dirt, grease and other contaminants on your face.</p> <p>As you sweep the cotton pad across your skin, these contaminants bind to the hydrophobic tails and are removed from the skin.</p> <p>Some contaminants will also find themselves encapsulated in the hydrophobic centres of the micelle.</p> <p>Either way, a cleaner surface is left behind.</p> <p>Look at how a cotton wipe soaked in micellar water cleans up a small oil spill, in comparison to water alone.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Nge5FEiuYE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>So why shouldn’t I just use dishwashing detergent to wash my face?</h2> <p>Technically, that would work as detergent does indeed contain lots of micelle-forming surfactants.</p> <p>But these particular surfactants would probably cause a lot of skin and eye irritation, while also damaging and drying out your skin. Not nice.</p> <p>The surfactants in micellar water are chosen to be mild and well tolerated by most people’s skin. But micellar water isn’t the only skincare product to contain micelles. There are many other face-cleaning products that also make great use of surfactant molecules and work very well too.</p> <p>Now, it’s not perfect. While it is effective at removing a wide range of contaminants, thick or heavy makeup might not come off easily with micellar water (you might need to do a more vigorous clean).</p> <p>Some products say there is “zero residue”, although the fine print clearly states this refers to visible residue.</p> <p>Many products also state there is no rinse off required. Surfactants will remain on your skin after product use, but for many people they don’t cause irritation. If your skin is feeling irritated after using a micellar water product, you can try rinsing afterwards or discontinuing use.</p> <p>And as is the case with many cosmetic products, you should test it first on a small patch of skin before using it all over your face.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219492/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniel-eldridge-1494633"><em>Daniel Eldridge</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-micellar-water-and-how-does-it-work-219492">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What are the new COVID booster vaccines? Can I get one? Do they work? Are they safe?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paul-griffin-1129798">Paul Griffin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>As the COVID virus continues to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36680207/">evolve</a>, so does our vaccine response. From <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-mark-butler-mp/media/new-covid-19-vaccines-available-to-target-current-variants?language=en">December 11</a>, Australians will have access to <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-recommendations-on-use-of-the-moderna-and-pfizer-monovalent-omicron-xbb15-covid-19-vaccines?language=en">new vaccines</a> that offer better protection.</p> <p>These “monovalent” booster vaccines are expected to be a <a href="https://theconversation.com/cdc-greenlights-two-updated-covid-19-vaccines-but-how-will-they-fare-against-the-latest-variants-5-questions-answered-213341">better match</a> for currently circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.</p> <p>Pfizer’s monovalent vaccine will be <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-mark-butler-mp/media/new-covid-19-vaccines-available-to-target-current-variants?language=en">available</a> to eligible people aged five years and older. The Moderna monovalent vaccine can be used for those aged 12 years and older.</p> <p>Who is eligible for these new boosters? How do they differ from earlier ones? Do they work? Are they safe?</p> <h2>Who’s eligible for the new boosters?</h2> <p>The federal government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) recommendation to use the new vaccines, after Australia’s regulator <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/products/covid-19/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-vaccines-regulatory-status">approved their use last month</a>. However, vaccine eligibility has remained the same since September.</p> <p>ATAGI <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-recommendations-on-use-of-the-moderna-and-pfizer-monovalent-omicron-xbb15-covid-19-vaccines?language=en">recommends</a> Australians aged over 75 get vaccinated if it has been six months or more since their last dose.</p> <p>People aged 65 to 74 are recommended to have a 2023 booster if they haven’t already had one.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=315&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=315&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=315&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=396&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=396&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560533/original/file-20231120-21-4igdnx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=396&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">For people without risk factors.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-10/atagi-recommended-covid-19-vaccine-doses.pdf">Health.gov.au</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Adults aged 18 to 64 <em>with</em> underlying risk factors that increase their risk of severe COVID are also recommended to have a 2023 booster if they haven’t had one yet. And if they’ve already had a 2023 booster, they can consider an additional dose.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=311&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=311&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=311&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=391&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=391&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/560532/original/file-20231120-26-70jfyr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=391&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Advice for people with risk factors.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-10/atagi-recommended-covid-19-vaccine-doses.pdf">Health.gov.au</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>For adults aged 18 to 64 <em>without</em> underlying risk factors who have already received a 2023 booster, an additional dose isn’t recommended. But if you’re aged 18 to 64 and haven’t had a booster in 2023, you can consider an additional dose.</p> <p>Additional doses aren’t recommended for children <em>without</em> underlying conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID. A primary course is not recommended for children aged six months to five years <em>without</em> additional risk factors.</p> <h2>Monovalent, bivalent? What’s the difference?</h2> <p><strong>From monovalent</strong></p> <p>The initial COVID vaccines were “monovalent”. They had one target – the original viral strain.</p> <p>But as the virus mutated, we assigned new letters of the Greek alphabet to each variant. This brings us to Omicron. With this significant change, we saw “immune evasion”. The virus had changed so much the original vaccines didn’t provide sufficient immunity.</p> <p><strong>To bivalent</strong></p> <p>So vaccines were updated to target an early Omicron subvariant, BA.1, plus the original ancestral strain. With two targets, these were the first of the “bivalent” vaccines, which were approved in Australia <a href="https://theconversation.com/omicron-specific-vaccines-may-give-slightly-better-covid-protection-but-getting-boosted-promptly-is-the-best-bet-190736">in 2022</a>.</p> <p>Omicron continued to evolve, leading to more “immune escape”, contributing to repeated waves of transmission.</p> <p>The vaccines were updated again in <a href="https://theconversation.com/havent-had-covid-or-a-vaccine-dose-in-the-past-six-months-consider-getting-a-booster-199096">early 2023</a>. These newer bivalent vaccines target two strains – the ancestral strain plus the subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.</p> <p><strong>Back to monovalent</strong></p> <p>Further changes in the virus have meant our boosters needed to be updated again. This takes us to the recent announcement.</p> <p>This time the booster targets another subvariant of Omicron known as XBB.1.5 (sometimes known as <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-kraken-subvariant-xbb-1-5-sounds-scary-but-behind-the-headlines-are-clues-to-where-covids-heading-198158">Kraken</a>).</p> <p>This vaccine is monovalent once more, meaning it has only one target. The target against the original viral strain has been removed.</p> <p>According to advice given to the World Health Organization <a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/18-05-2023-statement-on-the-antigen-composition-of-covid-19-vaccines">in May</a>, this is largely because immunity to this original strain is no longer required (it’s no longer infecting humans). Raising immunity to the original strain may also hamper the immune response to the newer component, but we’re not sure if this is occurring or how important this is.</p> <p>The United States <a href="https://theconversation.com/cdc-greenlights-two-updated-covid-19-vaccines-but-how-will-they-fare-against-the-latest-variants-5-questions-answered-213341">approved</a> XBB.1.5-specific vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in <a href="https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-takes-action-updated-mrna-covid-19-vaccines-better-protect-against-currently-circulating">mid-September</a>. These updated vaccines have also been <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-10/auspar-spikevax-xbb.1.5-231012.pdf">approved in</a> places including Europe, Canada, Japan and Singapore.</p> <p>In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved them <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/products/covid-19/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-vaccines-regulatory-status">in October</a>.</p> <h2>Do these newer vaccines work?</h2> <p>Evidence for the efficacy of these new monovalent vaccines comes from the results of research <a href="https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent=&amp;id=CP-2023-PI-02409-1&amp;d=20231117172310101">Pfizer</a> and <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/auspar/auspar-spikevax-xbb15">Moderna</a> submitted to the TGA.</p> <p>Evidence also comes from a <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.08.22.23293434v2">preprint</a> (preliminary research available online that has yet to be independently reviewed) and an update Pfizer <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/downloads/slides-2023-09-12/10-COVID-Modjarrad-508.pdf">presented</a> to the US Centers for Disease Control.</p> <p>Taken together, the available evidence shows the updated vaccines produce good levels of antibodies in <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/auspar/auspar-spikevax-xbb15">laboratory studies</a>, <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.08.22.23293434v2">in humans</a> and <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/auspar/auspar-spikevax-xbb15">mice</a> when compared to previous vaccines and when looking at multiple emerging variants, including EG.5 (sometimes known as <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-who-has-declared-eris-a-variant-of-interest-how-is-it-different-from-other-omicron-variants-211276">Eris</a>). This variant is the one causing high numbers of cases around the world currently, including in Australia. It is very similar to the XBB version contained in the updated booster.</p> <p>The updated vaccines should also cover <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-evasive-and-transmissible-is-the-newest-omicron-offshoot-ba-2-86-that-causes-covid-19-4-questions-answered-212453">BA.2.86 or Pirola</a>, according to <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-10/auspar-spikevax-xbb.1.5-231012.pdf">early results</a> from clinical trials and the US <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/respiratory-viruses/whats-new/covid-19-variant.html">Centers for Disease Control</a>. This variant is responsible for a rapidly increasing proportion of cases, with case numbers growing <a href="https://twitter.com/BigBadDenis/status/1725310295596560662?s=19">in Australia</a>.</p> <p>It’s clear the virus is going to continue to evolve. So performance of these vaccines against new variants will continue to be closely monitored.</p> <h2>Are they safe?</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent=&amp;id=CP-2023-PI-02409-1&amp;d=20231117172310101">safety</a> of the updated vaccines has also been shown to be similar to previous versions. Studies <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.08.22.23293434v2">comparing them</a> found no significant difference in terms of the adverse events reported.</p> <p>Given the availability of the updated vaccines, some countries have removed their approval for earlier versions. This is because newer versions are a closer match to currently circulating strains, rather than any safety issue with the older vaccines.</p> <h2>What happens next?</h2> <p>The availability of updated vaccines is a welcome development, however this is not the end of the story. We need to make sure eligible people get vaccinated.</p> <p>We also need to acknowledge that vaccination should form part of a comprehensive strategy to limit the impact of COVID from now on. That includes measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, focusing on ventilation and air quality, and to a lesser degree hand hygiene. Rapidly accessing antivirals if eligible is also still important, as is keeping away from others if you are infected.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/217804/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paul-griffin-1129798"><em>Paul Griffin</em></a><em>, Professor, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-the-new-covid-booster-vaccines-can-i-get-one-do-they-work-are-they-safe-217804">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How do stimulants actually work to reduce ADHD symptoms?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mary-bushell-919262">Mary Bushell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p>Stimulants are <a href="https://adhdguideline.aadpa.com.au/">first-line drugs</a> for children and adults diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But how do they actually work?</p> <h2>First, let’s look at the brain</h2> <p>ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition, which means it affects how the brain functions.</p> <p>Medical imaging indicates people with ADHD may have slight differences in their brain’s <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/195386">structure</a>, the way their brain regions work together to perform tasks, and how their brain’s chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, pass on information.</p> <p>These brain differences are associated with the symptoms of ADHD, including inattention, impulse control and problems with memory.</p> <h2>What stimulants are prescribed in Australia?</h2> <p>The three main stimulants prescribed for ADHD in Australia are dexamfetamine, methylphenidate (sold under the brand names Ritalin and Concerta) and lisdexamfetamine (sold as Vyvanse).</p> <p>Dexamfetamine and methylphenidate have been around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3666194/">since</a> the 1930s and 1940s respectively. Lisdexamfetamine is a newer stimulant that has been around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873712/">since</a> the late 2000s.</p> <p>Dexamfetamine and lisdexamfetamine are amphetamines. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873712/">Lisdexamfetamine</a> is inactive when it’s taken and actually changes into active dexamfetamine in the red blood cells. This is what’s known as a “prodrug”.</p> <h2>So how do they work for ADHD?</h2> <p>Stimulant drugs are thought to alter the activity of key neuotransmitters, dopamine and noradrenaline, in the brain. These neurotransmitters help with attention and focus, among other things.</p> <p>Stimulants increase the amount of dopamine and noradrenaline in the tiny gaps between neurons, known as synapses. They do this by predominantly blocking a transporter that then prevents their re-uptake back into the neuron that released them.</p> <p>This means more dopamine and noradrenaline can bind to their respective receptors. This <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/auspar-lisdexamfetamine-dimesilate-180515-pi.pdf">helps</a> connected neurons in the brain talk to one another.</p> <p>Amphetamines also increase the amount of dopamine the neuron releases into the synapse (the tiny gaps between neurons). And it stops the enzymes that break down dopamine. This results in an increase of dopamine in the synapse.</p> <h2>What effect do they have on ADHD symptoms?</h2> <p>We still don’t fully understand the underlying brain mechanisms that change behaviour in people with ADHD.</p> <p>But <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6109107/">research shows</a> stimulants that modulate noradrenaline and dopamine can improve brain processes such as:</p> <ul> <li>attention</li> <li>memory</li> <li>decision-making</li> <li>task completion</li> <li>hyperactivity.</li> </ul> <p>They can also improve general behaviour, such as self-control, not talking over the top of others, and concentration. These behaviours are important for social interactions.</p> <p>Stimulants <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15737659/">reduce ADHD symptoms</a> in about 70% to 80% of children and adults who take them.</p> <p>Some people will notice their symptoms improve right away. Other times, these improvements will be more noticeable to parents, carers, teachers, colleagues and partners.</p> <h2>Not everyone gets the same dose</h2> <p>The optimal stimulant dose varies between individuals, with multiple dosage options available.</p> <p>This enables a “start low, go slow” approach, where the stimulant can be gradually increased to the most effective dose for the individual.</p> <p>There are also different delivery options.</p> <p>Dexamfetamine and methylphenidate are available in immediate-release preparations. As these have short half-lives (meaning they act quickly and wear off rapidly), they are often taken multiple times a day – usually in the morning, lunch and afternoon.</p> <p>Methylphenidate is also <a href="https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&amp;id=CP-2010-PI-03175-3&amp;d=20231023172310101">available</a> in long-acting tablets (Concerta) and capsules (Ritalin LA). They are released into the body over the day.</p> <p>Lisdexamfetamine is a long-acting drug and is not available in a short-acting formulation.</p> <p>The long-acting stimulants are generally taken once in the morning. This avoids the need to take tablets during school or work hours (and the need to store a “controlled drug”, which has the potential for abuse, outside the home).</p> <h2>What are the side effects?</h2> <p>The most common side effects are sleep problems and decreased appetite. A <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012069.pub2/full">recent study</a> showed children and young people taking methylphenidate for ADHD were around 2.6 times more likely to have sleep problems and 15 times more likely to have a decreased appetite than those not taking methylphenidate.</p> <p>Headache and abdominal pain are also relatively common.</p> <h2>Can someone without ADHD take a stimulant to improve productivity?</h2> <p>Stimulants are tightly controlled because of their potential for abuse. In Australia, only paediatricians, psychiatrists or neurologists (and GPs in special circumstances) can prescribe them. This follows a long assessment process.</p> <p>As stimulants increase dopamine, they can cause euphoria and a heightened sense of wellbeing. They can also cause <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK576548/#:%7E:text=The%20immediate%20psychological%20effects%20of,and%20may%20result%20in%20insomnia.">weight loss</a>.</p> <p>A common myth about stimulant medicines is they can improve the concentration and productivity of people without ADHD. A <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/full/10.1126/sciadv.add4165">recent study shows</a> the opposite is true.</p> <p>This study gave a group of 40 people online arithmetic tasks to complete across four sessions. At each of the sessions, participants were given either a placebo or a stimulant before completing the task.</p> <p>The results showed that while stimulants did not impact getting the correct answer, it increased the number of moves and time to solve the problems compared to a placebo. This indicates a reduction in productivity.</p> <p>However, the myth that stimulants improve study prevails. It’s likely that users feel different – after all, they are taking a medicine that speeds up messages between the brain and body. It may make them “feel” more alert and productive, even if they’re not.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215801/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mary-bushell-919262"><em>Mary Bushell</em></a><em>, Clinical Assistant Professor in Pharmacy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-do-stimulants-actually-work-to-reduce-adhd-symptoms-215801">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How can I get some sleep? Which treatments actually work?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alexander-sweetman-1331085">Alexander Sweetman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jen-walsh-1468594">Jen Walsh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicole-grivell-1468590">Nicole Grivell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p>Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Do you stay awake for a long time at night? Do these sleep problems make you feel fatigued, strung-out, or exhausted during the day? Has this been happening for months?</p> <p>If so, you’re not alone. About <a href="https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/special-sleep-reports/chronic-insomnia-disorder-in-australia">12-15%</a> of Australian adults have chronic insomnia.</p> <p>You might have tried breathing exercises, calming music, white noise, going to bed in a dark and quiet bedroom, eating different foods in the evening, maintaining a regular sleep pattern, or reducing caffeine. But after three to four weeks of what seems like progress, your insomnia returns. What next?</p> <h2>What not to do</h2> <p>These probably won’t help:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>spending more time in bed</strong> often results in more time spent <em>awake</em> in bed, which can make <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-do-i-stop-my-mind-racing-and-get-some-sleep-207904">insomnia patterns worse</a></p> </li> <li> <p><strong>drinking coffee and taking naps</strong> might help get you through the day. But <a href="https://theconversation.com/nope-coffee-wont-give-you-extra-energy-itll-just-borrow-a-bit-that-youll-pay-for-later-197897">caffeine</a> stays in the system for many hours, and can disrupt our sleep if you drink too much of it, especially after about 2pm. If naps last for more than 30 minutes, or occur after about 4pm, this can reduce your “sleep debt”, and can make it <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-i-fall-asleep-on-the-sofa-but-am-wide-awake-when-i-get-to-bed-208371">more difficult</a> to fall asleep in the evening</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>drinking alcohol</strong> might help you fall asleep quicker, but <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1300/J465v26n01_01">can cause</a> more frequent awakenings, change how long you sleep, change the time spent in different “stages” of sleep, and reduce the overall quality of sleep. Therefore, it is not recommended as a sleep aid.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What to do next?</h2> <p>If your symptoms have lasted more than one or two months, it is likely your insomnia requires targeted treatments that focus on sleep patterns and behaviours.</p> <p>So, the next stage is a type of non-drug therapy known as cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (or <a href="https://www.sleepprimarycareresources.org.au/insomnia/cbti">CBTi</a> for short). This is a four to eight week treatment that’s been shown to be <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2022.101687">more effective</a> than sleeping pills.</p> <p>It involves education about sleep, and offers psychological and behavioural treatments that address the underlying causes of long-term insomnia.</p> <p>You can do this one-on-one, in a small group with health professionals trained in CBTi, or via self-guided <a href="https://www.sleepprimarycareresources.org.au/insomnia/cbti/referral-to-digital-cbti-programs">online programs</a>.</p> <p>Some GPs are trained to offer CBTi, but it’s more usual for specialist <a href="https://psychology.org.au/find-a-psychologist">sleep psychologists</a> to offer it. Your GP can refer you to one. There are some Medicare rebates to subsidise the cost of treatment. But many psychologists will also charge a gap fee above the Medicare subsidy, making access to CBTi a challenge for some.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.12703%2Fr%2F11-4">About 70-80%</a> of people with insomnia sleep better after CBTi, with improvements lasting <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2019.08.002">at least a year</a>.</p> <h2>What if that doesn’t work?</h2> <p>If CBTi doesn’t work for you, your GP might be able to refer you to a specialist sleep doctor to see if other sleep disorders, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2016.04.004">obstructive sleep apnoea</a>, are contributing to your insomnia.</p> <p>It can also be important to manage any mental health problems such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.5694/mja2.51200">depression and anxiety</a>, as well as physical symptoms such as pain that can also disrupt sleep.</p> <p>Some lifestyle and work factors, such as shift-work, might also require management by a specialist sleep doctor.</p> <h2>What about sleeping pills?</h2> <p>Sleeping pills are <a href="https://www.sleepprimarycareresources.org.au/insomnia/pharmacological-therapy">not the recommended</a> first-line way to manage insomnia. However, they do have a role in providing short-term, rapid relief from insomnia symptoms or when CBTi is not accessible or successful.</p> <p>Traditionally, medications such as benzodiazepines (for example, temazepam) and benzodiazepine receptor agonists (for example, zolpidem) have been used to help people sleep.</p> <p>However, these can have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38623.768588.47">side-effects</a> including a risk of falls, being impaired the next day, as well as tolerance and dependence.</p> <p>Melatonin – either prescribed or available from pharmacies for people aged 55 and over – is also often used to manage insomnia. But the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2022.101692">evidence suggests</a> it has limited benefits.</p> <h2>Are there new treatments? How about medicinal cannabis?</h2> <p>Two newer drugs, known as “orexin receptor antagonists”, are available in Australia (suvorexant and lemborexant).</p> <p>These block the wake-promoting pathways in the brain. <a href="https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.22nr03385">Early data suggests</a> they are effective in improving sleep, and have lower risk of potential side-effects, tolerance and dependence compared with earlier medicines.</p> <p>However, we don’t know if they work or are safe over the long term.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsab149">Medicinal cannabis</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13793">has only in recent years</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/sleepadvances/zpac029.048">been studied</a> as a treatment for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/sleepadvances/zpac029.005">insomnia</a>.</p> <p>In an Australian survey, <a href="https://doi.org/10.2147/nss.s390583">more than half</a> of people using medicinal cannabis said they used it to treat insomnia. There are reports of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0272241">significant benefit</a>.</p> <p>But of the four most robust studies so far, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsab149">only one</a> (led by one of us, Jen Walsh) has demonstrated an improvement in insomnia after two weeks of treatment.</p> <p>So we need to learn more about which cannabinoids – for example, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol or cannabinol – and which doses may be beneficial. We also need to learn who can benefit most, and whether these are safe and effective over the long term.</p> <h2>What now?</h2> <p>If you’ve had trouble sleeping for a short time (under about a month) and nothing you try is working, there may be underlying reasons for your insomnia, which when treated, can provide some relief. Your GP can help identify and manage these.</p> <p>Your GP can also help you access other treatments if your insomnia is more long term. This may involve non-drug therapies and/or referral to other services or doctors.</p> <hr /> <p><em>For more information about insomnia and how it’s treated, see the Sleep Health Foundation’s <a href="https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/sleep-disorders/insomnia-2">online resource</a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212964/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alexander-sweetman-1331085">Alexander Sweetman</a>, Research Fellow, College of Medicine and Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jen-walsh-1468594">Jen Walsh</a>, Director of the Centre for Sleep Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicole-grivell-1468590">Nicole Grivell</a>, Research Coordinator and final year PhD Candidate at FHMRI Sleep Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-can-i-get-some-sleep-which-treatments-actually-work-212964">original article</a>.</em></p>

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If you’re 65 or over and want to work, you’re far better off in New Zealand than Australia

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>Want to keep working after you’ve reached pension age?</p> <p>The Australian government has just made it a <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/jim-chalmers-2022/media-releases/getting-more-australians-back-work">little bit</a> easier, increasing the amount you can earn per year from work before losing some of your pension by A$4,000 on an ongoing basis.</p> <p>Late last year, it temporarily upped the so-called <a href="https://www.dss.gov.au/seniors/programmes-services/work-bonus">work bonus</a> from $7,800 per year to $11,800 to “<a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/555212/original/file-20231023-17-xduxan.PNG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip">incentivise pensioners into the workforce</a>”. It was part of the government’s response to its September jobs and skills summit.</p> <p>It meant pensioners could earn an underwhelming $227 per week from work without harming their pension, up from the previous $150.</p> <p>The rules for older workers are very different in New Zealand. In fact, if Australia adopted New Zealand’s approach, we could have an extra 500,000 willing workers – a fair chunk of them paying tax.</p> <h2>What’s NZ doing differently for older workers?</h2> <p>Last month, as part of his <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/employment-whitepaper/final-report">employment white paper</a>, Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers made the increase to $227 per week permanent.</p> <p>Chalmers headlined the announcement: <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/jim-chalmers-2022/media-releases/getting-more-australians-back-work">Getting more Australians back into work</a>.</p> <p>But it’s doing an underwhelming job. In Australia, <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/aug-2023">15.1%</a> of the population aged 65 and older are in some kind of paid work, up from 14.7% a year earlier.</p> <p>In contrast, in New Zealand the proportion has just hit <a href="https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/labour-market-statistics-june-2023-quarter/">26%</a>. That’s right: more than one-quarter of New Zealanders aged 65 and older are employed.</p> <p>It’s a similar story if we look at how Australia and New Zealand compared to others internationally on labour force participation (which covers those in paid work plus people actively looking for it).</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="qjojO" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/qjojO/5/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>New Zealand wants to see that number rise further. It has been talking about <a href="https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/what-we-can-do/seniorcitizens/older-workers-employment-action-plan/the-ageing-workforce-briefing-paper-future-of-work-governance-group-meeting-4-may-.pdf">33.1%</a> of its population aged 65 or more in paid work, which is what Iceland has.</p> <p>What is New Zealand doing for over-65s that Australia is not?</p> <p>You won’t find it mentioned in either treasury’s employment <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/employment-whitepaper/final-report">white paper</a> (released in September) or <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/2023-intergenerational-report">intergenerational report</a> (released in August) – even though National Seniors Australia <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/NSA-Employment-White-Paper-Submission-Final-Web.pdf">pointed it out</a> in submissions.</p> <p>One crucial thing New Zealand is not doing is annoying pensioners who work.</p> <p>Australian pensioners in paid work get called in for discussions with Centrelink, if it looks as if they are at risk of doing too many hours and going over the $227 per week limit.</p> <h2>The more you work, the more your pension is cut</h2> <p>Pensioners who do go over the $227 per week limit lose half of every extra dollar they earn in a cut to their pension.</p> <p>Plus tax, this means they lose a total of <a href="https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/media-releases/employment-white-paper-cop-out">69%</a> of what they earn over the limit where their tax rate is 19%, and 82.5% on the portion of earnings taxed at 32.5%.</p> <p>And this is <em>after</em> the boost designed to “<a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/555212/original/file-20231023-17-xduxan.PNG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip">incentivise pensioners into the workforce</a>”.</p> <p>Last year’s jobs summit also set up a <a href="https://www.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/resource/download/womens-economic-equality-taskforce-final-report.pdf">Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce</a>. It reported this week, drawing attention to the “disincentive rates” facing second earners (usually women) who return to work after caring for children.</p> <p>It said that taking the loss of benefits, tax and childcare costs together, the penalty for returning to work was more than half of what was earned on the first three days of the week, and up to 110% of what was earned on the fourth and fifth days.</p> <p>My point here is that the losses facing age pensioners who attempt to work are of a similar order – in Australia but not in New Zealand.</p> <p>Australia’s rules aren’t just stopping pensioners from taking on extra hours. They seem to stop them taking up paid work at all.</p> <p>There were 2.6 million Australians on the age pension in June this year. Only <a href="https://data.gov.au/data/dataset/dss-payment-demographic-data/resource/7a6457a8-44a3-406c-b552-62eb0fef9d66">83,925</a> reported income from working. That’s just 3.2%.</p> <h2>NZ pensioners keep their pensions</h2> <p>What’s different about New Zealand is that New Zealand’s pensioners don’t face a penalty if they work. They simply face income tax.</p> <p>In New Zealand, the age pension (which is called <a href="https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/seniors/superannuation/who-can-get-it.html">superannuation</a>, making it confusing for Australians) is paid to everyone of pension age. There’s no income test or assets test. You get it because you are a citizen or permanent resident.</p> <p>Australia wouldn’t need to go as far as New Zealand to get the same benefit. We would simply need to ditch the pension income test in cases where that income came from paid work, leaving the assets test in place.</p> <p>Then there would be no concern about working.</p> <h2>Half a million reasons for change</h2> <p>If we made that change – and if the same proportion of older Australians chose to work as New Zealanders – we would soon have an extra half a million older Australians able to step into fields such as teaching, where there are <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/jobs/job-vacancies-australia/latest-release">15,500 vacancies</a>, and health care and social assistance, where there are 68,100 vacancies.</p> <p>It would cost the federal government money because it’d put more Australians of pension age on the pension.</p> <p>But it’d cost less if we abolished the special tax concession for seniors and pensioners, known as the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/income-deductions-offsets-and-records/tax-offsets/seniors-and-pensioners-tax-offset/">seniors and pensioners tax offset</a>. In New Zealand, senior citizens face the same tax rates as everyone else.</p> <p>And it would cost less as more pensioners earned wages and paid income tax.</p> <p>Calculations prepared for <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/NSA-Employment-White-Paper-Submission-Final-Web.pdf">National Seniors Australia</a> by Deloitte suggest that beyond a certain point, the change would become revenue-positive – actually boosting federal coffers – as the extra income tax revenue outweighed the cost of the extra pensions.</p> <p>National Seniors is calling its campaign <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/advocacy/fairer-retirement-income-system/let-pensioners-work">“let pensioners work”</a>.</p> <h2>Tapping into the cash economy</h2> <p>Importantly – and here’s where we get to a fact National Seniors might not like me mentioning – that would happen not only because more senior Australians were employed, but also because more senior Australians were employed <em>legitimately</em>.</p> <p>It’s hard to get a handle on how many senior Australians are working and being paid in cash, which they store rather than bank to avoid tripping the income test. But we do know this.</p> <p>At the end of March, there were <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/tables/xls/a06hist.xls?v=2021-04-05-19-23-58">18</a> Australian $100 notes in circulation for each Australian resident, an astonishingly high proportion given the use of cash for transactions is <a href="https://theconversation.com/cash-could-be-almost-gone-in-australia-in-a-decade-but-like-cheques-wholl-miss-it-208020">collapsing</a>.</p> <p>In New Zealand at the end of March, there were just <a href="https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/statistics/series/reserve-bank/bank-notes-in-the-hands-of-the-public">five</a> New Zealand $100 notes in circulation for each New Zealand resident.</p> <p>That may be just a coincidence.</p> <p>But New Zealand is certainly making it easier for retirees to work legitimately, rather than stay at home or accept cash in hand.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216260/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709"><em>Peter Martin</em></a><em>, Visiting Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-youre-65-or-over-and-want-to-work-youre-far-better-off-in-new-zealand-than-australia-216260">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Princess Beatrice reveals the “most terrifying moment” in her life

<p dir="ltr">Princess Beatrice has shared the “most terrifying moment” that she encountered at work. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 35-year-old royal has been open about her struggles with dyslexia, and has opened up on a podcast about a major challenge she faced at work. </p> <p>"I was anecdotally talking about how difficult it was at work," Beatrice, who works for US-based technology firm Afiniti, told podcast host Kate Griggs. </p> <p>"Sometimes you get handed a whiteboard pen and you've got to do the group think again and collaborate and off you go to the whiteboard."</p> <p dir="ltr">"And I was thinking that's the most terrifying moment for me in my life, and please don't ever make me do it. I'll do a speech tomorrow but don't give me a pen and a whiteboard."</p> <p dir="ltr">Beatrice also shared the difficulties she faced as a child, and having to go through school before being formally diagnosed with dyslexia. </p> <p dir="ltr">"The early days of school really, really stand out as to those moments where you just don't fit in and you can't figure out what it is about you," the royal said candidly.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I remember trying to do extra lessons with teachers and just sort of blankly staring up at her face, and she was like, 'why are you looking at me? The words are not on my face' [and] I said 'well, they're not on the page either'."</p> <p dir="ltr">"So the early days, in and around that understanding that my brain worked slightly differently, I remember them being a real challenge."</p> <p dir="ltr">Princess Beatrice became emotional when talking about the teachers who helped her during her schooling career, saying she "probably wouldn't be the person I am today if they hadn't been there in my life".</p> <p dir="ltr">The princess also paid tribute to her mum, Sarah Ferguson, for championing her to find a new way to do things.</p> <p dir="ltr">"My family and I are incredibly close, so I would say that all throughout our lives, we've been able to go through everything with humour and with joy and my mum really instilled that," Beatrice said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Mind

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Lots of women try herbs like black cohosh for menopausal symptoms like hot flushes – but does it work?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sasha-taylor-1461085">Sasha Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Menopause is the stage of life where the ovaries stop releasing eggs and menstrual periods cease. Most Australian women go through menopause between <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp20154">45 and 55</a> years of age, with the average age being 51 years, although some women may be younger.</p> <p>Hot flushes and night sweats are <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrendo.2017.180">typical symptoms</a> of menopause, with vaginal dryness, muscle and joint pains, mood changes and sleep disturbance also commonly reported. Up to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25706184/">75% of women</a> experience menopausal symptoms, with nearly 30% severely affected.</p> <p>These symptoms can negatively impact day-to-day life and wellbeing. The main therapies available include menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) and non-hormonal prescription therapy. Some women will elect to try complementary and alternative medicines, such as herbal medicines and nutritional supplements. Black cohosh is one of them.</p> <h2>What causes hot flushes</h2> <p>The cause of hormonal hot flushes (also called hot flashes) still isn’t completely understood, but the decline in oestrogen at menopause appears to play a role in a process that involves the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833827/">area of the brain that regulates temperature</a> (the hypothalamus).</p> <p>Factors linked to a greater likelihood of hot flushes include <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19675142/">being overweight or having obesity</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25706184/">smoking</a>.</p> <p>MHT, previously known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), usually includes oestrogen and is the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26444994/">most effective treatment</a> for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes. But women may choose complementary and alternative medicines instead – either because they shouldn’t take hormone therapy, for example because they have breast cancer, or because of personal preference.</p> <p>Close <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26224187/">to 40%</a> of Australian women report using complementary and alternative medicines for menopausal symptoms, and up to 20% using them specifically to treat hot flushes and sweats.</p> <h2>A long history</h2> <p>Complementary and alternative medicines have a long history of use in many cultures. Today, their potential benefits for menopausal symptoms are promoted by the companies that make and sell them.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419242/">complementary and alternative medicines</a> women often try for menopausal symptoms include phytoestrogens, wild yam, dong quai, ginseng and black cohosh.</p> <p>Black cohosh (plant name <em>Cimicifuga racemosa</em>) was <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">traditionally</a> used by Native Americans to treat a variety of health concerns such as sore throat, kidney trouble, musculoskeletal pain and menstrual problems. It is now a popular herbal choice for hot flushes and night sweats, as well as vaginal dryness and mood changes.</p> <p>There are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37252752/">many theories</a> for how the active ingredients in black cohosh might work in the body, such as acting like oestrogen, or affecting chemical pathways in the brain. But despite extensive research, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">evidence to support these theories remains inconclusive</a>.</p> <p>It is also not clear whether black cohosh is effective for hot flushes. Results from individual studies are mixed, with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17565936/">some</a> finding black cohosh improves hot flushes, while <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18257142/">others</a> have found it doesn’t.</p> <p>A 2012 <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">review</a> combined all the results from studies of menopausal women using black cohosh to that date and found overall there was no proof black cohosh reduces hot flushes more effectively than an inactive treatment (placebo). <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">This review</a> also revealed that many studies did not use rigorous research methods, so the findings are hard to interpret.</p> <p>A more recent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33021111/">review</a> of clinical trials claimed black cohosh may ease menopausal symptoms, but the included studies were mostly small, less than six months long, and included women with mild symptoms.</p> <p>There is also no meaningful evidence black cohosh helps other symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal symptoms, sexual problems, or poor general wellbeing, or that it protects against bone loss.</p> <p>Evidence for how black cohosh is absorbed and metabolised by the body is also lacking, and it is not known what dose or formulation is best to use.</p> <p>More good quality studies are needed to decide whether black cohosh works for hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms.</p> <h2>Is it safe to try?</h2> <p>A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33021111/">review of studies</a> suggests black cohosh is safe to use, although many of the studies have not reported possible adverse reactions in detail. Side effects such as gastrointestinal upset and rashes may occur.</p> <p>While there have been <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2008/188/7/liver-failure-associated-use-black-cohosh-menopausal-symptoms#0_i1091948">rare reports of liver damage</a>, there is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21228727/">no clear evidence</a> black cohosh was the cause. Even so, in Australia, black cohosh manufacturers and suppliers are required to put a warning label for the potential of harm to the liver on their products.</p> <p>It is recommended black cohosh is not used by women with menopausal symptoms <a href="https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/cancer-types/breast-cancer/impacted-by-breast-cancer/physical-changes/menopause/treatments-menopausal-symptoms">after breast cancer</a>, as its safety after breast cancer is uncertain. All women should consult with their doctor before using black cohosh if they are taking other medications in case of possible drug interactions.</p> <p>Many women like to try herbal therapies for hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms. While black cohosh is generally considered safe and some women may find it helps them, at the moment there is not enough scientific evidence to show its effects are any better than placebo.</p> <p>Women experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, should talk to their doctor about the best treatment options for them.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211272/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sasha-taylor-1461085"><em>Sasha Taylor</em></a><em>, Research fellow, Chronic Disease &amp; Ageing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, Chair of Women's Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/lots-of-women-try-herbs-like-black-cohosh-for-menopausal-symptoms-like-hot-flushes-but-does-it-work-211272">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Do blue-light glasses really work? Can they reduce eye strain or help me sleep?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-downie-1469379">Laura Downie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Blue-light glasses are said to <a href="https://www.baxterblue.com.au/collections/blue-light-glasses">reduce eye strain</a> when using <a href="https://www.blockbluelight.com.au/collections/computer-glasses">computers</a>, improve your <a href="https://www.ocushield.com/products/anti-blue-light-glasses">sleep</a> and protect your eye health. You can buy them yourself or your optometrist can prescribe them.</p> <p>But <a href="https://mivision.com.au/2019/03/debate-continues-over-blue-blocking-lenses/">do they work</a>? Or could they do you harm?</p> <p>We <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD013244.pub2/full">reviewed</a> the evidence. Here’s what we found.</p> <h2>What are they?</h2> <p>Blue-light glasses, blue light-filtering lenses or blue-blocking lenses are different terms used to describe lenses that reduce the amount of short-wavelength visible (blue) light reaching the eyes.</p> <p>Most of these lenses prescribed by an optometrist decrease blue light transmission by <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/opo.12615">10-25%</a>. Standard (clear) lenses do not filter blue light.</p> <p>A wide variety of lens products are available. A filter can be added to prescription or non-prescription lenses. They are widely marketed and are becoming <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/opo.12615">increasingly popular</a>.</p> <p>There’s often an added cost, which depends on the specific product. So, is the extra expense worth it?</p> <h2>Blue light is all around us</h2> <p>Outdoors, sunlight is the main source of blue light. Indoors, light sources – such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and the screens of digital devices – emit varying degrees of blue light.</p> <p>The amount of blue light emitted from artificial light sources is much lower than from the Sun. Nevertheless, artificial light sources are all around us, at home and at work, and we can spend a lot of our time inside.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Blue light-filtering lenses block some blue light from screens from reaching the eye" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Screens emit blue light. The lenses are designed to reduce the amount of blue light that reaches the eye.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/blue-light-blocking-ray-filter-lens-2286229107">Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Our research team at the University of Melbourne, along with collaborators from Monash University and City, University London, sought to see if the best available evidence supports using blue light-filtering glasses, or if they could do you any harm. So we conducted a <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD013244.pub2/full">systematic review</a> to bring together and evaluate all the relevant studies.</p> <p>We included all randomised controlled trials (clinical studies designed to test the effects of interventions) that evaluated blue light-filtering lenses in adults. We identified 17 eligible trials from six countries, involving a total of 619 adults.</p> <h2>Do they reduce eye strain?</h2> <p>We found no benefit of using blue light-filtering lenses, over standard (clear) lenses, to reduce eye strain with computer use.</p> <p>This conclusion was based on consistent findings from three studies that evaluated effects on eye strain over time periods ranging from two hours to five days.</p> <h2>Do they help you sleep?</h2> <p>Possible effects on sleep were uncertain. Six studies evaluated whether wearing blue-light filtering lenses before bedtime could improve sleep quality, and the findings were mixed.</p> <p>These studies involved people with a diverse range of medical conditions, including insomnia and bipolar disorder. Healthy adults were not included in the studies. So we do not yet know whether these lenses affect sleep quality in the general population.</p> <h2>Do they boost your eye health?</h2> <p>We did not find any clinical evidence to support using blue-light filtering lenses to protect the macula (the region of the retina that controls high-detailed, central vision).</p> <p>None of the studies evaluated this.</p> <h2>Could they do harm? How about causing headaches?</h2> <p>We could not draw clear conclusions on whether there might be harms from wearing blue light-filtering lenses, compared with standard (non blue-light filtering) lenses.</p> <p>Some studies described how study participants had headaches, lowered mood and discomfort from wearing the glasses. However, people using glasses with standard lenses reported similar effects.</p> <h2>What about other benefits or harms?</h2> <p>There are some important general considerations when interpreting our findings.</p> <p>First, most of the studies were for a relatively short period of time, which limited our ability to consider longer-term effects on vision, sleep quality and eye health.</p> <p>Second, the review evaluated effects in adults. We don’t yet know if the effects are different for children.</p> <p>Finally, we could not draw conclusions about the possible effects of blue light-filtering lenses on many vision and eye health measures, including colour vision, as the studies did not evaluate these.</p> <h2>In a nutshell</h2> <p>Overall, based on relatively limited published clinical data, our review does not support using blue-light filtering lenses to reduce eye strain with digital device use. It is unclear whether these lenses affect vision quality or sleep, and no conclusions can be drawn about any potential effects on the health of the retina.</p> <p>High-quality research is needed to answer these questions, as well as whether the effectiveness and safety of these lenses varies in people of different ages and health status.</p> <p>If you have eye strain, or other eye or vision concerns, discuss this with your optometrist. They can perform a thorough examination of your eye health and vision, and discuss any relevant treatment options.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213145/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-downie-1469379"><em>Laura Downie</em></a><em>, Associate Professor in Optometry and Vision Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/do-blue-light-glasses-really-work-can-they-reduce-eye-strain-or-help-me-sleep-213145">original article</a>.</em></p>

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No, the Voice proposal will not be ‘legally risky’. This misunderstands how constitutions work

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-partlett-708330">William Partlett</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>The “no” campaign’s primary argument in the current referendum debate focuses on the dangerous consequences of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.</p> <p>This argument is relevant to the parliamentary debate about how a constitutional Voice to Parliament will be set up through legislation. But it has no bearing on the referendum debate.</p> <p>This debate involves a different, moral question: do you support the idea of recognising First Australians in the Constitution by giving them a voice on matters that affect them?</p> <h2>What exactly is the ‘no’ campaign arguing?</h2> <p>Although the “no” campaign opposes a constitutionally enshrined Voice, some of its key leaders are not against the general idea of a Voice institution itself. Instead, many “no” campaigners, including Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, <a href="https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/voice-to-parliament/dutton-says-his-priority-remains-establishing-a-local-and-regional-voice/video/45255e2fa30463000b1111d7188db1aa">support</a> legislated Voice institutions at the regional level.</p> <p>The “no” side also does not oppose constitutional recognition for First Australians. Dutton has recently promised that if the Voice referendum fails, the Coalition would <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/sep/03/peter-dutton-says-coalition-will-hold-indigenous-recognition-referendum-if-voice-to-parliament-vote-fails">hold another referendum</a> on First Nations constitutional recognition if it is returned to power.</p> <p>The “no” side’s main argument, therefore, is a very specific one. It focuses on what it claims are the dangerous consequences of recognising First Australians by placing a Voice institution in the Australian Constitution.</p> <p>In its official campaign <a href="https://aec.gov.au/referendums/files/pamphlet/referendum-booklet.pdf">pamphlet</a>, the “no” side claims that doing this will:</p> <ul> <li> <p>be “legally risky” and lead to litigation</p> </li> <li> <p>“risk delay and dysfunction” in government</p> </li> <li> <p>be a “costly and bureaucratic” institution with “no issue beyond its scope”.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Finally, the “no” side claims the Albanese government has not put forth any details on how this Voice body would function, and it would be a “permanent” change that will open the door for “activists”.</p> <h2>The nature of constitutions</h2> <p>These concerns, however, fundamentally misunderstand how constitutions work.</p> <p>Constitutions are not detailed documents that anticipate every possible circumstance. On the contrary, they are by nature short and incomplete documents. They inherently contain large gaps.</p> <p>In Australia, the evolution of constitutional institutions has been primarily shaped by parliament through legislation.</p> <p>Take the constitutional provision creating the High Court as an example. The Constitution contains very little detail on how the High Court operates. It does not even specify how many justices will be on the court. It merely says:</p> <blockquote> <p>The High Court shall consist of a Chief Justice, and so many other Justices, not less than two, as the Parliament prescribes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, it was left to parliament to establish the jurisdiction and powers of the High Court in the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016C00836">Judiciary Act</a> in 1903. And since then, parliament has passed numerous amendments that continue to shape the operation of the court, ensuring it continues to develop in line with the needs of contemporary Australian society.</p> <p>For instance, the court has <a href="https://www.hcourt.gov.au/about/history-of-the-high-court">increased</a> in size from three to seven justices in order to handle its increasing case load, which many in the early 20th century thought would be very light.</p> <h2>The Voice to Parliament proposal</h2> <p>The proposed Voice body will operate in the same way. The <a href="https://voice.gov.au/referendum-2023/referendum-question-and-constitutional-amendment">proposal</a> is typical of other clauses already in the Constitution – it contains little detail other than there “shall be a body” called the “Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders Voice” that will make “representations” to parliament.<br />Details on how the body is selected and how it will operate are explicitly left to parliament.</p> <p>The final section of the proposed Voice provision <a href="https://voice.gov.au/referendum-2023/referendum-question-and-constitutional-amendment">states</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>the parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.</p> </blockquote> <p>If the October referendum vote is successful, it will be up to the current parliament to pass the foundational legislation setting up the Voice body. But this law will always be subject to change by subsequent parliaments. If there are problems with the way it functions, future parliaments can fix those issues through amending legislation (just as the functioning of the High Court has changed over time).</p> <p>The proposed constitutional Voice will, therefore, operate in much the same way as a legislated Voice would. In the end, both would be controlled by parliament.</p> <p>The various concerns of the “no” side are best suited to this legislative debate. For instance, it will be important to ensure the legislation creating the Voice does not lead to dysfunctional government or become a costly or ineffective bureaucracy.</p> <p>But the “no” side’s concerns have no bearing on the constitutional question we all must answer in the referendum.</p> <h2>A moral question</h2> <p>Instead, we face a clearer, moral question on October 14: do we support the idea of recognising First Australians in the Constitution by giving them a voice in matters that affect them?</p> <p>In answering this question, it is worth considering the <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/rciadic/national/vol1/">findings</a> of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody from more than 30 years ago.</p> <p>The commission linked the shocking number of First Australians dying in state custody to the historical fact that Aboriginal people have faced “deliberate and systematic disempowerment” for more than a century. It said:</p> <blockquote> <p>Decisions were made about them and for them and imposed upon them.</p> </blockquote> <p>Only First Nations empowerment, the report concluded, would overcome this disadvantage.</p> <p>This empowerment process began with a series of First Nations regional dialogues that ultimately called for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament in 2017. This empowerment is not real, however, until we heed this call.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212696/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-partlett-708330"><em>William Partlett</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/no-the-voice-proposal-will-not-be-legally-risky-this-misunderstands-how-constitutions-work-212696">original article</a>.</em></p>

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