Monthly Archives: July 2018

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Princess Diana replaced England’s stiff upper lip with a tremble

Diana arrives at the Sydney Entertainment Centre for the Victor Chang Dinner, October 31, 1996. Photo: Robert PearceLondon: “I sit here with hope because there’s a future ahead, a future for my husband, a future for myself and a future for the monarchy.”
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This was Princess Diana interviewed by Martin Bashir for Panorama in November 1995, less than two years before she died – after her separation from Prince Charles but before their final divorce.

It was vintage Diana, captivating television, a media master and victim walking her familiar line between cynicism, passion and restraint.

She casually coined soundbites (“I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts”) that would posthumously define her, and she fired shots at her husband (“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”).

She spoke of bulimia and depression and self-harm, her puppy-wide, dark-rimmed eyes peering from below her extraordinary hair.

She spoke about the media. “I never know where a lens is going to be,” she said. “A normal day [I] would be followed by four cars. There was a relationship [with the media] which worked before, but now I can’t tolerate it because it’s become abusive and it’s harassment.”

Shortly before midnight on Saturday, August 30, 1997, Diana was involved in a high-speed accident in the Place de L’Alma underpass in central Paris, as her car fled a fleet of pursuing paparazzi.

After two hours of emergency surgery she was declared dead, along with her new boyfriend Dodi Fayed and the driver, Henri Paul, who was drunk, and whom a 2008 inquest ruled was to blame, along with the photographers.

And there the story did not end.

An estimated 2.5 billion people watched her funeral at Westminster Abbey five days later. This, the 20th anniversary, has seen a blizzard of publicity, documentaries, books and interviews, magazine and newspaper special editions, across the world.

Somehow, still, we are captivated by the story of a troubled princess who left behind two traumatised boys and – arguably – changed the way royalty, celebrity and humanitarianism work.

A travel sickness bag is mandatory for much of the recent coverage. Even the most fervent Diana fan might choke on the Mail on Sunday’s declaration last weekend that Diana “swept away an old, accepted order of protocols and politenesses and ushered in a new era of compassion and liberalism”. Paragraphs later, the tabloid slavered over her “sculpted curves enhanced by a new wardrobe of swimwear” in the month before her death, an editorial position somewhere between lechery and butchery.

Plus ca change.

Her sons, Princes Harry and William, are still furious with the media, and as their role in the daily affairs of the royal family continues to grow, that fury must increasingly affect the Windsors’ media strategy.

In the documentary 7 Days,which is due to screen on the BBC on Sunday, Harry says, “I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people who chased her into the tunnel were the same people who took the photographs of her while she was still dying on the back seat of the car”.

William recalls his mother was deeply distressed in the years before her death after run-ins with photographers who waited “like a pack of dogs for her, chased her, harassed her, called her names, spat at her, tried to get a reaction to get that photograph of her lashing out, get her upset”.

In another recent documentary William said most of the times he saw his mother cry “was to do with press intrusion.”

“One lesson I’ve learned is you never let them in too far because it’s very difficult to get them back out again. You’ve got to maintain a barrier and a boundary. If both sides cross it a lot of pain and problems can come because of it.”

He was obliquely referring to his mother’s relationship with the media: she courted journalists and confided in them, trying to make them allies in her fight against the rest of her family. She deliberately exploited her fame to push causes. She told one interviewer she “felt compelled to perform”.

The scene of the car crash in Paris. Photo: AP

In her children, compulsion has become repulsion.

One year on from Diana’s death, the BBC’s Nick Higham wrote “the public needed someone to blame [and] the media was the answer”.

“The red-top tabloids were shocked by the public reactions. The result was a bout of media soul-searching and promises to do better.”

The paparazzi did indeed back off – but they didn’t go away. They sought other targets, mostly. Photographers and camera crews stayed clear of the royal children, begrudgingly.

Reporters still pried: a tabloid ruined the boys’ plans for a surprise 50th birthday party for their father, for example. And the entire phone hacking saga was exposed when, on the advice of a TV reporter friend to Prince William, the palace set police to investigate whether a tabloid journalist had accessed William’s voicemail for a string of royal scoops.

When it came to photos, foreign outlets filled the void: spicy (Harry cavorting in Vegas) and prurient (Kate Middleton sunbathing topless).

The latter case caused the royals to snap, breaking their usual silent-in-public, complain-to-editors-in-private strategy. William and Kate sued six people over the photos, which were published in two French magazines in 2012. In a statement read out to the court, Prince William said the photos were “all the more painful” in light of his mother’s death and the harassment she had experienced.

The verdict is due in September, and could set a precedent for celebrity paps in Europe – one way or another.

But anyone who tries to argue that Diana’s death doused the fires of celebrity-obsessed journalism hasn’t looked at journalism lately.

And recently Hollywood has developed monarch fever: HBO’s Elizabeth I, The CW’s Reign, E!’s The Royals, Showtime’s The Tudors, PBS’ Victoria, and Starz’s The White Queen, not to mention Netflix’s The Crown, which promises to catch up with Diana in season 3.

Beyond the media, Diana could lay claim to a deliberate, and successful, recasting of modern royalty. There are some who look at the Queen’s cameo in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, and see Diana’s ghostly hand pushing her out of the helicopter.

Andrew Morton, author of the scandalous (and secretly Diana-assisted) 1992 biography of the princess, told CBC radio earlier this month that Diana’s “is very much a living legacy with her children”.

“She’s kind of overshadowed or shadowed the lives of both boys, and in that sense as well, she’s always been present,” he said.

Diana explicitly intended this. She told Bashir the royals needed to change their relationship with the public, to “walk hand-in-hand as opposed to be[ing] so distant”, and she wanted to achieve that through William and Harry.

“I take them round homelessness projects, I’ve taken [them] to people dying of AIDS, albeit I told them it was cancer ??? I want them to have an understanding of people’s emotions, people insecurities, people’s distress and people’s hopes and dreams.”

Charles Spencer, Diana’s younger brother, told BBC radio last month that part of Diana’s legacy was “she has left behind this image of what royalty can be and what it needn’t be”.

In his eulogy at her funeral he pledged to guide her sons “so their souls can sing openly ?- not immersed by duty and tradition”, and he now believes “it’s worked out very well – Diana was in their life long enough for them to receive an enormous amount of her values and warmth and humanity and I think people see that.”

The wider royal family also realised they had to change after Diana’s death.

On the eve of Diana’s funeral the Queen told the nation, “I for one believe that there are lessons to be drawn from her life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death”.

Floral tributes to Diana outside London’s Kensington Palace in 1997. Photo: AP

She was admitting the royals had badly mismanaged their response in the moment. Diana’s death was the gravest royal crisis since the abdication. They had made a terrible mistake by holing up in Balmoral in Scotland – protecting William and Harry, it was later claimed, though this is hard to square with the decision to put the boys behind their mother, parading through the streets of London in Diana’s funeral procession.

Royal biographer Penny Junor told Radio 4 documentary A Royal Recovery, “the whole family was in danger. The minute Prince Charles heard Diana had been killed his first words were ‘They are going to blame me’.”

One of the Queen’s most trusted former advisers, Mary Francis, told the London Telegraph the royal family had feared “calls for some kind of republican action”.

The narrative that Diana changed the Windsors is not universally accepted. According to some palace watchers, the royal family was modernising regardless. It had a discussion group made up of senior members of the family, dubbed the “Way Ahead Group”. They had made significant moves reflecting modern times: the Queen had started paying tax and she funded the repair of Windsor Castle in 1992 out of her own purse. They had brought in an accountant to straighten up the royal finances, and had cut the number of family members whose lives were paid for directly from the annual government grant known as the Civil List. Most heart-wrenchingly for the Queen, the Royal Yacht Britannia had been scrapped, and she had not asked for a replacement.

Author Monica Ali also doesn’t have any truck with the theory that Diana changed the monarchy. “The monarchy is much as it was pre-Diana,” she wrote recently. “Diana’s life and death didn’t reinvigorate the monarchy, it reignited our fascination with it.”

Outside palace walls, Diana’s charity work has stuck with the next generation. Harry, William and Kate have founded Heads Together, a campaign that aims to “end the stigma and change the conversation on mental health”. They continue working for many of the charities their mother introduced them to.

But they have big boots to fill. And some argue that Diana’s true successors are not William and Harry, but Bono and Angelina Jolie.

The BBC’s Jackie Long wrote that Diana “made giving glamorous”.

“She embodied the caring ’90s but still hung on to some of the style-obsessed ’80s. Princess Anne had trudged around the Third World doing charity work for years – she just didn’t do it so beautifully.”

Diana held hands with AIDS patients, wandered dangerous London streets to meet the homeless, travelled to African and Bosnian battlefields sown with land mines.

Harry told a documentary this year “she had the ability to literally change the mindset of millions of people”. She is widely credited with the success of an international landmine ban treaty, signed months after her death.

Diana talks to amputees who lost limbs to land mines, in Angola in 1997. Photo: AP

For Diana, it was where she felt she belonged. She told Martin Bashir, “I found myself being more and more involved with people who were rejected by society – with, I’d say, drug addicts, alcoholism, battered this, battered that – and I found an affinity there.

“I respected very much the honesty I found on that level with people I met, because in hospices, for instance, when people are dying they’re much more open and more vulnerable, and much more real than other people.”

Journalist Andrew Marr wrote that Diana’s life and death coincided with a shift in Britain. The country left behind the greed-is-good ’80s, and was becoming “more compassionate, more informal and more image-conscious”, he said.

Whether she was setting the pace or sensing the trend, Diana had been at the forefront. Her death “revived the culture of public sentiment”, Marr said.

Andrew Morton agrees, saying “Britain’s stiff upper lip brigade ended with the funeral. And we have more of a trembling lower lip.”

“I think that we’ve become a more expressive nation, a more touchy, feely nation than we were perhaps 30 or 40 years ago. And I think that Diana is a symbol of that.”

Earl Spencer, Princes William and Harry, and Prince Charles, at Diana’s funeral.

Author Monica Ali wrote in 2011 that Diana has frequently been blamed for “our newfound emotional incontinence”.

“It’s likely that the way she chose to speak out did accelerate a trend for greater openness, that her death had an impact on the ersatz sense of community that surrounds certain tragedies,” Ali said.

But she chooses to view it in a positive light. “For some people, Diana will always be the patron saint of the self-obsessed. I see her differently. I think she had a lasting influence on the public discourse, particularly in matters of mental health. When she spoke publicly about her bulimia, the effect was powerful.

“Speaking out instead of shrivelling up was not just a sign of wilfulness – but of her determination to direct her loss and suffering outwards. It was a mark of her strength of character; small wonder that millions of people instinctively responded to that.”

Ali says Diana also fundamentally changed the world of charity.

She showed the way for the Madonna and Angelina Jolie, for George Clooney in Darfur and Bono in Washington DC. “Put simply, Diana made philanthropy sexy.”

Not everyone agrees that Diana changed the world. Pulitzer-winning writer Anne Applebaum has called Diana’s legacy “pea-sized”. She wrote in Slate magazine that “the genuinely bizarre aspect of the all-consuming Dianamania that gripped Britain [after her death] is how slight a trace it has left behind. Actually, the royal family is pretty much the same, only quieter. From Diana, they learned that there is such a thing as too much publicity.

“One could argue that Diana’s truest legacy is the screaming emotionalism of the British tabloids – except that it long pre-dates Diana, and in fact helped create her in the first place.”

Telegraph columnist Simon Heffer also swam against the tide of sentiment. Ten years ago he wrote a column titled “Diana just another dead glamorous celebrity”, railing against “the absurdities of the cult” that had grown up around her.

“Ludicrous ideas are voiced of her contribution to humanity,” he said. “[Her death] showed just how unpleasant mass hysteria is. But worse, it revealed an increasingly ungrounded and shallow society that can attach such significance to such things.”

He hoped the 10-year commemoration of Diana’s death would be the last such public event, and “those who still feel the need to mourn will now be encouraged to do so privately”.

Ten years later, he has been proven so, so wrong.

A grand family

Althorp Estate, the Spencers’ ancestral home in the Midlands. Photo: Althorp Estate

It’s often forgotten that the “people’s princess” came from one of Britain’s grandest families. But visitors to Althorp Estate, the Spencers’ ancestral home in the Midlands, and the site for Diana’s final resting place, will emerge under no illusions that she was a royal outsider – despite being the first Englishwoman to marry an heir in 300 years.

This is one of the country’s grandest homes. Althorp is set in rolling English countryside (one of the first times that Charles met teenage Diana, he was visiting for a “shoot” on the grounds).

Its halls and rooms are lined with endless aristocratic portraits, dating back centuries. The house was built in the 16th century but a Bose speaker system here, a bedside thriller there betray the fact this is a living aristocratic home.

And some speak of its owner’s anger. An exhibition enshrines the Earl Spencer’s handwritten notes for the press statement he made on hearing of his older sister’s death. There is a hash mark and he has added a second-thought paragraph, saying “I always believed the press would kill her in the end” and accusing every proprietor and editor who ever paid for an intrusive photo of having “blood on their hands today”.

At the main house, the first room is floor-to-ceiling horse and hounds paintings. But in the next room is a different, modern work: contemporary artist Mitch Griffiths’s Rehab. It shows a near-naked man in crucifix position, his addictions on display including a champagne bottle in a bucket marked with the blood-red logo of The Sun newspaper.

And upstairs, in a Tudor-era long room where ladies used to take their exercise when it rained, another Mitch Griffiths titled Britannia sits front and centre. It’s a portrait of a haughty young woman in a short denim skirt, CCTV camera on her shoulder, police tape on her empty pram. She is the modern UK, and she’s not there to be loved.

It is placed last in a series of oil paintings of the mistresses of King Charles II.

A guide tells me Earl Spencer wanted to imply they were “no better than she is”.

Outside, a short walk away, you find the oval lake, at the centre of which is a round island, in the middle of which lies Diana’s grave, concealed by clippered hedges. The message is Diana-esque. She is protected but on display, withdrawn but exposed.

Come see me. But don’t get too close.

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‘Gold medallist in mother guilt’: Butler’s Labor of Love

“Mummy, I wish that Kevin Rudd was still prime minister.”
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So goes the refrain of Labor MP Terri Butler’s sevenyear-old daughter and fiveyear-old son.

This is not because they particularly miss Rudd’s programmatic specificity or sauce-bottle shaking. They just reason that if Rudd was still PM, their mum would not be in Federal Parliament.

Butler, 39, who won Rudd’s Brisbane seat of Griffith in a byelection in 2014, says it’s “hard to overstate” the impact a full-time political career has on families. As she writes in a new book, Labor of Love, published next week, she became a “gold medallist in mother guilt” when she first came to Canberra.

“When I go to the school, all the mums and dads seem to know each other and I sometimes feel like a bit of an outsider. Even the grade two Facebook page is a mystery to me,” she writes.

But despite this, Butler, who is Labor’s spokeswoman on domestic violence, equality and universities, insists all the effort is worth it. “Often things that are worth doing aren’t easy,” she told Fairfax Media,

She also wants other people to come along for the ride. Acknowledging that faith in democracy is at a “low ebb”, she argues “don’t just expect others to do the heavy lifting”.

“If people of good will decide that politics is just pointless … they are in danger of leaving [it] to the passionate, extremist few.”

Butler’s book not only comes amid declining support for both major parties in Australia. It also comes as other parliamentarians publicly negotiate their home and political lives. Minister for Revenue and Financial Services and mother of two, Kelly O’Dwyer, has recently returned to work, after becoming the first cabinet minister to give birth during her term in office. Earlier this year, Labor frontbencher Kate Ellis announced she would retire at the next federal election so she could spend more time with her young family.

Butler has been an ALP member for almost 20 years and was a workplace relations lawyer before entering Parliament. She says participating in politics – whether as a party member, official or politician – is not strange or scary.

“I think being involved in politics is just something that people do alongside their lives. It’s not this thing that only zealots do and people that have no other life do,” she says.

The book details many examples where politics and the personal collide: such as charting a careful seating plan at her wedding to union official Troy Spence because they are from different factions of the ALP (and so had Left and Right faction guests); of offering peanut butter sandwiches to keep her kids happy during meetings; and of the pain of miscarrying while working on an election campaign in her mid-20s.

When asked why she chose to include this last detail, Butler replies: “I wanted to say politics is something you do while real life’s happening.”

Butler, who will be known to viewers of question time as one of the most vocal and expressive MPs on the Labor side (seated just behind Labor leader Bill Shorten) says she and her husband rely on an “army” of people to help them do their jobs.

Butler’s parents live with them on a shared block, Spence’s parents help and they also pay a carer to look after the kids. The Queensland MP stresses it’s important to be upfront about the support they have.

“You can’t give people the impression that you’re some sort of superhuman because they think they can’t measure up to that standard,” she says. “I’m doing this not because I’m intrinsically better at it than any one else, but because I’m willing to put my hand up.”

Writing a book has become something of a rite of passage for Labor MPs. In the past two years, up-and-comers Clare O’Neil???, Tim Watts and Sam Dastyari??? have written books, while senior frontbenchers Andrew Leigh, Chris Bowen and Mark Butler have also been published on various political themes.

But when asked about her ambitions in politics, Butler replies with a modest – and impersonal – goal: “I want us to be in government.”

She is still in touch with her predecessor in Griffith, although does not to ring him frequently, given his busy international career.

“I’m very fond of Kevin. I have to say, I try not to bother him too often.”

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Cats seal second and deal Giants a huge blow

It might be time to dismiss two long-held beliefs that have dominated football discussion: that this is Greater Western Sydney’s flag to lose, and Geelong cannot challenge without Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood.
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For all the knocks on the Cats, they are firmly in premiership calculations after a powerful performance at their Simonds Stadium fortress on Saturday night.

Their 44-point drubbing of the Giants, set up by a powerful third term where they slammed six goals to one, has given their campaign a massive shot in the arm and delivered an equally big blow to the pre-season flag favourite.

The win has secured the Cats a top-two finish, ensuring a home qualifying final, and will force the Giants to have to take the scenic route to the last Saturday of September.

Whatever happens on the last day of the home-and-away season, the Giants’ finals path is now fraught.

If Richmond lose, the Giants will meet the Cats again in a fortnight. It would take a considerable improvement for them to turn the tables, particularly if the AFL schedules the game in Geelong.

The other scenario is equally unpalatable – a trip to face the Crows at Adelaide Oval where they were crunched by 56 points in round one.

A top-two berth was hard to imagine at the start of the month when the Cats were emphatically beaten by Sydney and lost premiership stars Selwood, Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan.

They have since won three on the bounce – their two most impressive coming against fellow finalists. This was arguably their most complete performance, topping their against-the-odds victory over Richmond.

Dangerfield was again superb, finishing with 33 possessions – 24 of which were contested. He brought teammates into the game with his work at the coalface and his use of the ball.

His highlight came during a banner third term when he crumbed and goaled from his own marking contest.

Selwood’s absence was not missed with Scott Selwood and Mitch Duncan on song. These leaders will need to have strong finals for the Cats to succeed but watch out if they do.

The younger Selwood held his own against Dylan Shiel, his 12 tackles giving the Cats midfield a harder edge. Sam Menengola again defied his humble draft origins with an accomplished display.

Geelong’s forward set-up was potent, bringing up triple figures for just the third time in the past three months.

Tom Hawkins, back from suspension, was influential without dominating the scoreboard, creating space for Dan Menzel and Steven Motlop. He will be better for the run.

The Giants had a night to forget with little working for them. Their midfield, with the exception of captain Callan Ward, was well beaten.

They were smashed for contested possession, which meant their ball movement lacked its usual fluency. They were not allowed to play their game.

Steve Johnson had a shocker in front of his old fans, having little influence with his eight possessions. His position in the Giants side must now be under huge doubt.

Injury has provided the Giants with an alibi for much of the year but this was the strongest team they have fielded all season.

The Cats were lively early, winning the ball in close and moving the ball briskly into an open forward line for Hawkins and Menzel. When they did not score, their pressure allowed them to lock the ball in and force the Giants into panic kicks.

There were few instances when they were able to run the ball freely, but when they did they were dangerous.

The Cats were ferocious early in the second, pushing their lead out to 19 points. When they had the chance to hurt their opponents, they showed no mercy – and through legitimate means.

Greene and Jacob Hopper both wore badges of honour, floored by knees in the back from marking contests.

Nor were the Cats missing tackles. Brendan Parfitt’s on Stephen Coniglio was a beauty, thwarting a promising forward thrust. His effort was in marked contrast to Greene’s attempt on ruckman Zac Smith, who was able to dance around his supposedly more agile pursuer.

But the Giants found a way. Aidan Corr provided the spark with a desperate tackle on Dangerfield. His teammates followed and suddenly the Giants were winning key contests across half-back, allowing them access to the corridor. It was fleeting.

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Push for more flexible family-friendly hours

Owen Wareham and his daughter, 9 month old Harriet and wife, Karla play in Wentworth Park, together on Saturday, August 26, 2017. Photo by Cole BennettsMost working Australians are too scared to ask for more flexible hours to juggle family caring responsibilities because they are worried about job security, a national survey has found.
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Owen Wareham, was nervous about asking to reduce his hours in a marketing job after his daughter Harriet was born nine months ago. But his Sydney employer has been very supportive in allowing him to reduce his hours from five to four days a week at its Brisbane office.

The arrangement allows him to care for Harriet one day a week and his wife cares for her two days, with the remaining two days spent in childcare.

Mr Wareham plans to eventually return to five days a week when Harriet is older.

“I was quite apprehensive about asking at first, but once I asked everyone at work was supportive, so it was pretty straightforward,” he said.

“Part of the reason I wanted to do it was our baby is a little girl and I wanted to model good behaviour her. I didn’t want her to grow up only seeing women as carers.”

A new survey has found 60 per cent of more than 5400 Australians surveyed have never asked for reduced hours to assist with family life and caring responsibilities with many citing job security or a workplace culture that does not support flexible work.

It also found that almost 40 per cent of workers have asked their employer for reduced hours for caring and almost a quarter of had been knocked back. Employers were 50 per cent more likely to reject a male worker’s request for reduced hours.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions, which commissioned the survey, has applied to the Fair Work Commission for a new entitlement for all workers to temporarily reduce their hours to help them manage parenting or other caring responsibilities.

The Commission will hear the case in December and determine whether all modern awards should be changed to provide employees with an entitlement to reduce their hours for a period before returning to full-time work.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said many people are stopped from providing family care because workplace laws and rules had not kept up with modern life.

“Whether a dentist in Newcastle, a security guard in Sydney or a teacher in Melbourne, working women and men have told us that juggling both caring for family and working is a major issue for their lives,” Ms Kearney said.

“The cost on individuals and families is enormous, with some survey participants estimating they are doing in excess of $50,000 a year in unpaid caring for a family member.

“Many of the survey respondents said their workplace culture was not flexible and others said they did not ask their employer for reduced working hours because they feared they would get sacked. This is the disgraceful reality of our modern workplaces.”

In its submission to the Fair Work Commission, the ACTU argued that access to flexible working arrangements is arbitrary and unable to be enforced or when granted, can involve a downgrading in the status or security of their work.

The ACTU submission to the Fair Work Commission says that for too long the starting point for accommodating family responsibilities has been the assumption that all employees will be available to work full-time and a case needs to be made to departure from that norm.

“The ACTU’s application seeks to tilt the starting point to a more equitable and realistic position, where it is accepted that employees must reconcile work and family responsibilities, and to align workplace norms to the reality of workers’ lives,” the submission says.

It will on Sunday launch a new campaign to “change the rules for working women and families”, with its new survey results showing that 85 per cent of working Australians also have significant family caring and/or parenting responsibilities.

“The ACTU wants a new right for all Australian workers, especially women who predominantly carry the caring load, to have the right to part-time or reduced hours temporarily while they have important family caring responsibilities,” Ms Kearney said.

“We are using all our legal options to make this a reality for working women and families.”

ACTU survey findings:

??? Almost 85% of Australians have or have had a caring role;

??? 65% had cared for a child of school age or younger

??? 27% had cared for someone frail or aged

??? 25% had cared for someone with a medical condition

??? 14% had cared for someone with a mental illness.

??? Almost 40% of workers have asked their employer for reduced hours for caring and almost a quarter of these had been knocked back;

??? Almost one in two workers needs access to reduced hours for caring;

??? Women are almost twice as likely to ask for reduced hours for caring;

??? Employers are 50% more likely to reject a male worker’s request for reduced hours;

??? Inflexible workplace culture is the reason most cited for workers not asking for reduced hours to care for a family member;

??? Nearly one in five workers surveyed was not able to access reduced hours needed for caring responsibilities.

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Motivation makes getting started easier

INSPIRING: A scene from one of the films to be shown at the Women’s Adventure Film Tour at Tower Cinemas on September 6. Picture: SuppliedFinding a reason to get moving can be the biggest hurdle for many.
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And everyone is motivated by different things.

I always say, find something that works for you. Try new things, sign yourself up for an event or be inspired by the people around you.

With spring upon us, now is the time to find what motivates you and get yourself ready for a spring clean as far as your health is concerned.

There are a few things coming up that could provide motivation.

The first is the Women’s Adventure Film Tour, which is travelling around Australia as a celebration of Women’s Health Week.

The Women’s Adventure Film Tour is a collaboration of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Aspire Outdoor and She Went Wild.

It will be in Newcastle on September 6, with a screening at Tower Cinemas from 7pm-9pm.

The Tour features a selection of short films of inspirational women’s adventure and cultural stories.

According to Janet Michelmore, executive director ofJean Hailes for Women’s Health, “The films are not only inspirational, but demonstrate how the way you feel physically has a profound effect on your state of mind and emotional well-being”.

“This balance between our physical and mental health is an important element of overall good health and a focus for this year’s Women’s Health Week,” she said.

Watching other people be active or hearing their stories always gets me motivated and may be just the thing that gets you inspired too.

Speaking of Women’s Health Week, Wild Women on Top, who are a hiking group famous for their annual Coastrek events around Australia,are hosting a free 5km hike around Sydney Harbour on September 8.

The walk will highlight the health benefits of hiking, including the social element as well the positive impact on physical and mental health. Women can regsiterat梧桐夜网wildwomenontop南京夜网.

I am motivating our whole family to move through September by signing them up to Steptember, whereyou take 10,000 steps per day for 28 days straight to raise funds for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Funds raised through the campaign go towards providingvital equipment, therapy and services to children and adults living with cerebral palsy, as well as for groundbreaking research into the prevention and hopefully one day a cure for CP.

The cause has particular resonance for us as we know a beautiful young boy by the name ofJoe Bankswith cerebral palsy.

Seven-year-old Joe developed CP during birth and cannot walk unassisted.

Joe’s mum, Rachael Laing, told me “kids like Joe would love to be able to walk even a couple of steps”.

So, that is why we are doing it. Because we can, and in the process of being active ourselves and improving our own health, we can help others, which I think is a strong message to give our own kids.

Hopefully a few of you out there will sign up to. For more information, go to梧桐夜网steptember.org419论坛.

GOOD CAUSE: Taking part in Steptember will help kids with Cerebral Palsy like Newcastle’s Joe Banks, pictured with his sisters Audrey, left, and Millie, right.

Winter Warmer WorkoutThis is it, we have just four days left of winter. So get ready to launch into your spring campaign on Friday.

Here is a session to get you started. Itis a combination of strength and fitness and takes on a pyramid format. That means, for each exercisedrop by one or two repetitions as you move through the set. For example, start with 10 squats, run, eight or nine squats, run, all the way down to two or one squats. Run, walk or skip for 20-30 seconds between each.

Exercises: Squats, dead lifts, push-ups (or shoulder punches), rows, lunges, bicep-shoulder press, triceps extension. Finish with core work.

Upcoming fitness eventsWalk With Us for World Suicide Prevention, September 8, Dixon Park:Lifeline Hunter Central Coast is holding a walk to Merewether Baths and back in support of suicide prevention in the community. There will be a breakfast and yoga in the park to follow. Register at梧桐夜网lifelinehunter.org419论坛.

Walk 4 Hope, September 16, Croudace Bay:A 4km walk raising funds and awareness forHuntington’s Disease.梧桐夜网huntingtonsnsw.org419论坛.

Fernleigh 15, October 22, Fernleigh Track:This 15-kilometre course can be done as an individual or in a five-person relay.梧桐夜网runnsw南京夜网419论坛.

Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother. [email protected]南京夜网419论坛.

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Captive to extremes: weather obsession shapes human history

Australians Google the weather more than sex.
Nanjing Night Net

But it wasn’t always this way. Just a few years ago, sex was a much more popular search term than whether it’s going to rain, hail or shine.

So what’s changed? That’s the question author and academic Lawrie Zion hoped to crack while writing his new book The Weather Obsession.

It’s hard to imagine a better person for the job. The former journalist – who helped start Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown – was just a child when he first visited the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne.

That day he left clutching a book of Australia’s climatic averages under his arm, one of his most prized childhood possessions. He has been a self-described weather nerd ever since: poring over newspaper weather charts and, later, watching as newsrooms adapted to the digital age and fed the appetite for weather information with videos and slick graphics.

The weather captivates unlike anything else, according to Zion, because it is ordinary but extraordinary at the same time.

“Weather retains an unpredictability,” he said. “In the last 50 years we’ve been able to insulate ourselves from its extremes, but it’s still relevant to the way we conduct our daily lives.”

The Weather Obsession serves as a neat history of the bureau from its origins in 1908 to its current use of a $77 million supercomputer.

The book alsoexplores a common thread that ties all weather stories together – unmet demand. Take for example the Bureau of Meteorology’s 700,000 Facebook followers, and the 3.15 billion annual page views of its live radar service.

Zion says the logical conclusion is that humans are hardwired to find the weather interesting (and not just a conversation filler).

“The studies in the US point to that,” he said. “If you live in an area where the weather is more predictable, you’re much less likely to care about weather information in comparison to a place like Melbourne which has famously unpredictable weather. It’s a powerful connection that’s shaped human history.”

The Weather Obsession is out now via Melbourne University Press.

Lawrie Zion will be speaking at the 2017 Melbourne Writers Festival, which runs until September 3. The Age is a festival sponsor.

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Takács Quartet takes Newcastle by storm

Takács Quartet: Second violinist Károly Schranz, cellist András Fejér, violist Geraldine Walther and Edward Dusinberre..The acclaimed Takács Quartet delivered a performance of signature virtuosity at The Harold Lobb Hall at Newcastle Conservatorium of Music on Saturday, August 26.
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Touring nationally for Musica Viva from August 10-28, this was the much loved quartet’s eighth visit down under.

Performing classics by Haydn (String Quartet in F major, op 77 no 2) and Beethoven (String Quartet no 12, op 127), bookending a specially commissioned piece by Australian composer and Musica Viva Artistic Director Car Vine(Quartet no 6 ‘Child’s Play’), Takácslived up to their reputation for musical ‘telepathy’ from the first note.

All quartet music demands teamwork but Haydn’s Op 77 raises the bar on so many levels and providedthe perfect vehicle for these seasoned performers to display their varied brilliance united as one in a piece of vast complexity.

Founded in 1975 by four Hungarian musicians, two of whom are still with the group–second violinist Károly Schranz and cellist András Fejér–Takácsis completed byAmerican violist Geraldine Walther who joined 11 years ago and British leader Edward Dusinberre who has notched up 24 years.

So important to each other are they professionally and personally, each is the beneficiary of each other’s life insurance.

They have won virtually every major quartet award the world can bestow, and then some, and are revered for the energy, precision and depth with which they approach their repetoires.

Performing upwards of 80 shows a year at all the great music halls of the world, they are based at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The group have a relationship with Vine stretching back 13 years when they performed his fourth quartet.

Since then, every time they have toured Australia, they have asked to play one of his pieces.

Vine’s sixth quartet “Child’s Play”was commissioned with the support of recently retired Musica Viva Chairman Michael Katz and his wife Frédérique Katz, The Seattle Commissioning Club, who are long-time friends of the Quartet, and Carnegie Hall, where the group is a frequent visitor and wherea future performance of the piece is already scheduled.

Op 127 is the first of Beethoven’s late quartets and it’s fair to sayDusinberre is all over it, having written a book on Beethoven in 2016 and garnered a swag of awards.

Rivaling Haydn’s Op 77 in complexity and vision, it provided a suitably mesmerising second half to an unbelievable show, highlighting yet again the great performers and music Musica Viva brings to Newcastle each year.

And it’s set to continue, with Vine announcing the line-up for the 2018 Music Viva International touring concert series before Saturday night’s show commenced.

Writes Carl Vine:

Musica Viva’s 2018 International Concert Season glitters with dazzling talent and unexpected gems.

Superstars of the Baroque,Tafelmusik, deliver an incredible theatrical expedition inBach and His World, legendary German clarinettistSabine Meyermakes a surprising appearance in the company of the remarkableAlliage Quintettfor a program of orchestral favourites especially arranged for this unusual ensemble. A leading virtuoso fêted the world over, violinistRay Chenundertakes his second national tour for Musica Viva with pianistJulien Quentin.

Electrifying wizard of the mandolinAvi Avitaljoins the energetic youngGiocoso String Quartetto present masterworks old and new. For more than 70 years the unparalleledBorodin Quartethas encapsulated generations of Russian string-playing tradition; it once more bringsits trademark musical depth and perfection to our concert halls.

Joyce Yang, Silver Medallist in the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, offers two powerhouse programs of scintillating piano music, and theBenedetti Elschenbroich Grynyuk Trioperform sparkling programs that combine the trios of Brahms and Ravel with solo sonatas by Strauss and Prokofiev.

Australian composition figures strongly through the season, with new works commissioned fromElena Kats-Chernin,Elizabeth YounanandMatthew Hindson, and repeat performances ofGordon Kerry’s atmosphericIm Windepiano trio.

Legendary musicianSir András Schiffwill perform two specialGala Concerts. This grand master of the piano performs just one time each in Sydney and Melbourne, ina wonderful opportunity for Australian audiences.

For more information visitmusicaviva南京夜网419论坛.

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Departing doctors on Manus Island don’t know who will replace them in two months

The international medical company contracted to look after refugees on Manus Island has no idea who will replace it in just two months when Australia withdraws entirely from the island.
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International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), which runs a round-the-clock clinic at Australia’s regional processing centre (RPC) and a smaller service in Lorengau, will depart Papua New Guinea on October 31 when its contract ends.

The RPC is due to close completely by that date, but about 700 refugees are still awaiting promised resettlement in the US, and the future for 250 asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected also remains uncertain.

Fairfax Media understands senior staff at IHMS are concerned that they have not been told who will take over the provision of medical services for the refugees and asylum seekers, and no handover process has commenced.

Asked about the issue at a press conference last week, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said: “There’ll be contracted arrangements entered into with providers and that information will be provided as it normally would be.”

He said further questions should be directed to IHMS. But IHMS referred inquiries to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which in turn said it was a matter for the PNG government.

Fairfax Media spoke with Gao Thau, chief medical officer at PNG’s health department, who described the situation as “worrying” and said he was awaiting direction from the Australian government.

“We have to get the information from Australia whether they will give this facility to Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“It’s at a high level, so we can’t make any definite statements, we have to get the statement from the government of Australia.

“If the government of Australia decides to hand over to PNG then we will take over. We are still waiting for that.”

PNG’s new cabinet was sworn in earlier this month and Dr Thau said his department had been “unable to brief” the new health minister because of the lack of clarity from Australia.

“I think we just have to wait patiently,” he said.

The development came as PNG’s new attorney-general, Davis Steven, reportedly told Australian officials PNG was “not going to allow” Australia to leave Manus Island without a plan for the men left behind.

“The PNG government is not going to allow a situation where Australia has withdrawn and leaves behind all these international fugitives who they expect us to carry on our steam,” he told the ABC.

Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim said it was a clear sign PNG would not be complicit in Australia’s decision to “abandon” the men on Manus Island.

“This is no surprise,” he said on Saturday. “The Australian government has treated the PNG government with absolute contempt all the way through this sorry saga.”

Mr Dutton has long insisted the centre will close on October 31, following a PNG Supreme Court ruling last year declaring the refugees’ ongoing detention unconstitutional. Parts of the facility have already been shuttered.

About 60 sick refugees and asylum seekers have been transferred to Port Moresby in recent weeks for appointments with doctors in the capital, according to other refugees on the island.

Authorities are also pressuring refugees and asylum seekers to move to a transit centre in Lorengau. In May, the immigration department confirmed capacity at the transit centre was being expanded to 440.

Department statistics showed 791 men remained at the Manus Island RPC on July 31. The numbers at Lorengau are said to fluctuate daily, while earlier in the year, Mr Dutton said about 36 refugees had chosen to resettle in PNG.

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Multi-million dollar blowout to road upgrade backlog

21 August 2011, news, Canberra Times photo by STUART WALMSLEY. People from all over Australia converge on Canberra for a Convoy of No Confidence in the Federal Government. Truck owner-driver Peter Whytcross leads a convoy of vehicles from Western Australia across the ACT/NSW border on the Barton Highway. Mr Whytcross has covered 5800km over six days between Port Hedland and Canberra. SPECIAL 1NSW regional councils face a multi-million dollar backlog to upgrading critical road infrastructure, according to the NRMA.
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In its latest Funding Local Roads report, the motoring organisation revealed the infrastructure backlog across the state has increased from $1.73 billion in 2014-15 to $1.96 billion, an increase of 13 per cent.

While the infrastructure backlog for all regional councils in NSW combined fell from $32.1 million to $11.2 million, several councils in the Snowy Mountain region recorded an increase.

The Snowy River Council registered a 141 per cent increase during the 12-month period, rising from $9.29 million to $22.41 million.

Bombala Council’s backlog for 2015-16 was $5.28 million, up from $5.08 million.

The data recorded by the NRMA took place before many councils in the region were amalgamated.

The former Queanbeyan Council’s backlog bill more than quadrupled from $660,000 to just more than $3.5 million, while the previous Palerang Council jumped from $6.8 million to $7.2 million.

Cooma-Monaro as well as Goulburn Council were the only councils surrounding the ACT that registered a drop in infrastructure backlog, coming in with a 0.5 per cent and 5.9 per cent drop respectively.

According to the report, 80 per cent of Australian roads are maintained by local councils, with the council backlog potentially leading to more crashes.

“The deterioration in the condition of local council roads assets has resulted in the reduced condition of the road network, impacting the day-to-day movements of motorists, especially in regional areas,” the report said.

“Roads will become less safe to drive on, with the unintended consequence of more crashes on the local road network.”

A similar infrastructure backlog is also taking place in the ACT, with the NRMA highlighting a report released earlier this year by the auditor-general stating the cost to upgrade Canberra roads was expected to increase to $71 million by 2019-20.

The backlog in the territory has grown by more than 400 per cent since 2010-11.

NRMA local director Kate Lundy said the increase in backlog was often due to only one road being able to be upgraded at a time due to funding constraints.

“Invariably it is a cycle, and as one priority is fixed, another emerges,” she said.

“One example is the Barton Highway duplication, which will cost a lot of money and when it’s done, there are other things that won’t be funded due to that being one large expense.”

Ms Lundy said the federal government should invest a greater proportion from money raised from the fuel excise levy to local roads as a way to clear the backlog.

“That change will start to address the shortfall, and it’s a huge shortfall,” she said.

“Without a change in approach, we’re really just cycling through band-aid solutions with regards to road safety.”

Other recommendations from the NRMA include fast tracking funding for the federal government’s Roads to Recovery program and establish Road Stewardship Maintenance contracts to improve the delivery of road infrastructure.

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Shattered Cheika says Wallabies deserved to beat All Blacks

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika believes Australia deserved to beat the All Blacks given how well they played but is refusing to be a gallant loser after his side went down by six points at the death.
Nanjing Night Net

Cheika also took a swipe at referee Nigel Owens and his assistants, saying they were tough on the Wallabies throughout the match.

The Wallabies, who got out to a 17-0 lead after 15 minutes to stun the home side, were mowed down after Beauden Barrett scored a match-winner with 144 seconds remaining to give his team a famous 35-29 victory.

While the Wallabies’ fighting spirit might change the narrative of Australian rugby for the time being, Cheika was a shattered man afterwards.

“I am not angry. I am just very, very disappointed because I felt like we did enough to win the game,” Cheika said. “We put everything into it and we wanted to get something out of it.

“The gallant loser thing’s not on. We should have won that game. We know it.

“The people who have been giving it to us will say the other mob had a bad day. I don’t know.

“Over my three years as we have been together, we have got better but we can’t afford to wait that long because we have to win game one and two. It’s just really disappointing that the series is not alive anymore.”

Captain Michael Hooper said: “I was proud of the way we bounced back this week during training. But I am not happy with the result. It still shows an ‘L’ next to the scoresheet. We came here to win, we had confidence we were going to win and we didn’t get that.”

Afterwards, Cheika took aim at match officials and while being interviewed on the field, said: “We did enough and had a few key calls against us at really important times. That’s the way she rolls, maybe the script was written.”

Pressed further on the comments, the Wallabies boss decided to express his confusion as to why All Blacks second-rower Brodie Retallick did not get in trouble for a supposed lifting tackle on Australian back-rower Ned Hanigan.

“The guy can’t end up on his head any other way but then it’s a freebie ??? just as well he didn’t break his neck,” Cheika said. “I have to tread lightly here. It was clear to everyone he [Retallick] has picked one of our blokes up and put him on his head. Categorically. He has his arm through his leg and picked him up.

“It’s irrelevant if it was fair or not because that’s the way it was officiated. That stuff does not in any way excuse not finishing that game off, with three minutes to go and a kick-off to us.

“There were some calls last year in Auckland and we have been hit again here. I suppose it is just disappointing.”

After having 54 points put on them in the opening 48 minutes of last week’s match in Sydney, the Wallabies restored a degree of public pride with an improved defence and attitude.

“I am always proud and pleased with the team ??? even last week when it was harder to be proud,” Cheika said. “Because I see what they’re doing off the field. I know chaps are throwing eggs and bombs and everything our way, that’s the way she rolls.

“We dropped a few kick-offs that were really crucial. I was pretty pleased with the game and just some of the improvements in some of the areas that we wanted to work on. At the end of the day, you’ve got to win from there.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was relieved after the match and knew his men were below their best in a match they were expected to win comfortably.

“It’s hard to tell whether they [Australia] have turned the corner,” Hansen said. “They’ve always been a good side. They played some good rugby tonight and they’ll be disappointed. They could have easily won the match.

“To be 17 points down and come back, you’ve got to have good composure and to lose the lead again ??? a lot of sides would have chucked it in but they didn’t and they got the reward for it.”

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