Category Archives: National News

Drowning deaths in Australia up 71% over summer holiday period


A recent report from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia shows a dramatic escalation in the number of drowning deaths this summer.

In the period from the 24th of December to the 12th of January, 41 people drowned – a 71% increase on the same period 12 months ago.

Royal Life Saving’s CEO Rob Bradley said thousands of people have been affected by these 41 drowning deaths, which he described as deeply troubling.

Surf lifesaving flag at Kingston Beach

Surf lifesaving flag at Kingston Beach

“Frankly, we are horrified and we remind people to make sure you are swimming at a recognised swimming location.  Do not over-estimate your ability,” he said.

Mr Bradley said the drownings happened at many different water locations.

“A common misconception is that most drownings happen at the beach. Inland waterways are very treacherous. Rivers and lakes may appear on the surface to be calm and tranquil but can be very dangerous,” Mr Bradley said.

In Tasmania, 10 surf life saving clubs provide volunteer patrol services on weekends from December to March.

Kingston beach, in the south of the state, is patrolled during these months on Sundays and public holidays.

Kingston beach patrol captain Phil Leishman said swimming between the flags is the safest way to go, but that not everyone heeds that message.

“The parents will bring the younger kids in here, but the teenagers will always go outside because it’s not cool, they don’t think it’s cool to swim between the flags,” he said.

Watch chair and surf lifesavers on Kingston Beach

Surf life savers on Kingston Beach

Kingston Beach with flags

Kingston Beach on a public holiday

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Filed under Health, National News, State and Local

West Australian drought linked to Antarctic snowfall

An ice core from Antarctica has uncovered a link between drought in Western Australia and increased snowfall in Antarctica.

Dr Tas van Ommen, a glaciologist with the Australian Antarctic Division, studied a 750 year old ice core from Law Dome in East Antarctica.

The results of the research by Dr van Ommen and co-author  Vin Morgan have recently been published in Nature Geoscience.

Law Dome

Law Dome, Antarctica. Photo by Tas van Ommen © Commonwealth of Australia

“The ice core shows how much snow fell at Law Dome each year, and we have compared the modern portion of that with meteorological records from Australia,” Dr van Ommen said.

“What we found was amazing. While we were noticing extra moisture in east Antarctica and increasing snowfall, we were seeing dry conditions over south-west Western Australia,” he said.

There has been a 15-20% decline in winter rainfall in south-west Western Australia since the late 1960s, and at the same time there has been a 10% increase in snowfall at Law Dome.

Dr van Ommen said it appears that a change in atmospheric circulation patterns off southern Australia is responsible.

Dr Tas van Ommen collecting ice core

Dr Tas van Ommen collecting an ice core at Law Dome in Antarctica. Photo by Joel Pedro © Commonwealth of Australia

“In the past three decades the strength of persistent high and low pressure systems off southern Australia have increased, directing more warm, moist air south towards the coast of Antarctica and dry, cold air north in winter,” Dr van Ommen said.

“This does not appear to be in the range of natural variability: we can see from the ice core that an event like the increased snowfall at Law Dome would only come along once every 38,000 years without some change in climate patterns and, given the connection we see with Western Australia, it would suggest that the drought is also not a natural event,” he said.

Dr van Ommen said the change may be due to human-induced atmospheric changes; from reductions in ozone and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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Filed under Environment, National News, World News

New mothers at risk on road

(100 word version)

Sleep deprived new mothers have been compared to drink drivers when it comes to their ability to control a motor vehicle.

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) studied 24 new mothers to determine the effect of post-partum fatigue on their driving.

Dr Kerry Armstrong, from QUT, said new mothers are at risk behind the wheel from sleep deprivation.

“Research has shown that if someone’s awake for 17 hours, it can be similar to having a blood alcohol content of 0.05 per cent,” she said.

“If they’ve been awake for 24 hours, it’s similar to being two times over the limit,” Dr Armstrong said.

Dr Armstrong said the research showed that where previous research only showed fatigue effects up to six weeks post-partum, their research showed mothers could be effected for 12 weeks, and even up to years.

Word count: 137

Based on this story  http://news.ninemsn.com.au/health/1005527/new-mums-drive-in-a-haze-study

Study exercise was to find an online news story, and ‘role play’ the interview with a friend or family member, having them play the role of the interviewee, and me as the interviewer. Therefore all comments in this post are not those of Dr Kerry Armstrong – they have been made up for the purposes of this study task.

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Filed under Health, National News

New mothers at risk on road

(Week 4 tutorial task)

300 word version

Sleep deprived new mothers have been compared to drink drivers when it comes to their ability to control a motor vehicle.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety studied 24 new mothers from southeast Queensland to determine the effect of post-partum fatigue on their driving.

Dr Kerry Armstrong, from QUT, said new mothers are at risk behind the wheel from sleep deprivation.

“Previous research has shown that that post-partum fatigue should disappear after six weeks, but we’ve found that the new mothers still felt exhausted 12weeks after giving birth”, Dr Armstrong said.

“And of course all parents will tell you that they can have interrupted sleep patterns for a lot longer than that – up to years,” she said.

“To put it in context, research has shown that if someone’s awake for 17 hours, it can be similar to having a blood alcohol content of 0.05 per cent”, Dr Armstrong said.

“Then, if they’ve been awake for 24 hours, it’s similar to being two times over the limit, or 0.1 percent”, Dr Armstrong said.

Dr Armstrong said the study also showed new mothers often showed a decreased awareness of their body’s need for rest, and the safety implications of fatigue.

“New mums tend to push through the tiredness to get things done that need to be done: looking after the baby, washing, cooking and so on,” Dr Armstrong said.

“It’s clear that new mums need to be more aware of the risks of post-partum fatigue,” she said.

Dr Armstrong said the research would be used to help develop ways to help new mums with this situation and raise awareness of post-partum fatigue and the safety implications, including brochures and other intervention methods.

Word count: 289

Based on this story  http://news.ninemsn.com.au/health/1005527/new-mums-drive-in-a-haze-study

Study exercise was to find an online news story, and ‘role play’ the interview with a friend or family member, having them play the role of the interviewee, and me as the interviewer. Therefore all comments in this post are not those of Dr Kerry Armstrong – they have been made up for the purposes of this study task.

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Filed under Health, National News

God is good, but guardian angels, ESP and astrology are too

According to this article in the Age, a survey done in the past week shows Australians are becoming much more mix-n-match with their belief systems. The story’s quite interesting, looking at the percentages of people surveyed who believe in a God, and other things, like UFOs, extrasensory perception, astrology, heaven and hell.

This part of the article tickled my fancy:

“The 50 per cent of the population classified as Christian were also asked about their specific beliefs in Jesus. Ninety-four per cent believed he was a real person who lived 2000 years ago. And although 91 per cent believed he was the son of God, only 72 per cent think the mother of Jesus Christ was a virgin.”

This story focuses on a trend.

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Filed under National News

Restauranteurs lose defamation case against critic

Seeing as I have a hospitality background, and now work in PR and study journalism, this conflict story was of particular interest to me.

The owners of Sydney restaurant Coco Roco have lost a defamation case against restaurant critic Matthew Evans and Fairfax. In September 2003, Evans published a review in the Sydney Morning Herald, referring to the restaurant as ‘a shocker’, having unpalatable food, bad service, and rating it 9/20 – stay at home.

The judge found that the defence of truth was established, in relation to the bad service. The judge also found that the defence of comment was established:  the ordinary reasonable reader would understand that the review was the opinion of the reviewer.

Story on the Australian website here.

So hooray to reviewers being able to publish honest reviews. And good on those who do. And those who actually adhere to the MEAA code of ethics and disclose conflicts of interest, and don’t review places they have an interest in, and pay for all their meals.

Unfortunately I know there are those who do exactly the opposite: writing glowing reviews of venues they have an interest in, and favouring reviewing places where they don’t have to pay for their meal.

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Filed under Entertainment, National News

Honey houdini hound reappears

Awwwww…. 

The classic human interest story. 

Lost dog reunited with owners

Honey the Pomeranian with owners Bronwyn and Courtney. photo: Herald Sun

 

Honey the Pomeranian went missing from her home in Victoria in 2003. And last week – six years later – she was reunited with her owners. Poor little Honey ran away on the same day as her owner Bronwyn’s mother died. 

Full story here.

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