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How fitness trackers can help you EARN

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Health insurance is a major Australian industry, and when you can get cheaper car insurance for driving safely, it only makes sense that Australians could earn or save thousands a year just by walking—and your fitness trackers can help you do it.

Many insurers already offer members benefits for walking a certain amount of steps per day. AIA offers $5 weekly vouchers for iTunes, Hoyts, Woolworths and Boost Juice for completing 12,500 steps per day, while others offer discounted premiums for staying active.

Medibank’s partnership with Coles offers 10 Fly buys points for every day customers reach 10,000 steps on their fitness trackers, which equates to about five cents. Similarly, Qantas gives frequent flyers the ability to earn points by cycling through the Qantas Assure Wellness Rewards program—although to earn 100 points, participants would need to ride 100km a week.

One US health insurer even will deposit actual cash into an account for members who complete a certain amount of steps a day.

Amy McDonough, senior vice president of strategy and operations for Fitbit Health Solutions, said the scheme can have a big impact on adding value for life—and these types of schemes are resonating with people.

“It’s heading in the right direction, and we’re really excited about that.”

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What are the major parties saying? A guide to this Federal Election

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Your choice matters. Image via Power FM.

The Federal Election can be a very confusing time—especially if you’re not really sure what to do, who to vote for, or what the major parties are even saying. It can be pretty overwhelming—particularly researching what it is you want to find. Here’s a guide on what the major parties are saying to help you decide:

The Greens:

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Image via the Greens.

Animal welfare

  • Stronger animal welfare standards and legislation with tougher penalties.
  • Ending unnecessary use of animals for testing and education.
  • Clear definitions of “free range eggs”.
  • Abolish animals in circuses.
  • Ban the slaughter of whales, greyhound racing, recreational shooting, selective breeding, race jumping and shark culling.
  • Stop the importation and exportation of zoo animals unless it will assist the continuation of the species.
  • Establishment of a national animal welfare body.
  • More power given to RSPCA and animal cruelty investigations.

Environment, climate change and nuclear energy

  • Plans for habitat management, species loss, and protecting native plants and animals.
  • Ratify international environmental law.
  • End broad-scale clearing.
  • Increase educational resources.
  • Cleaner oceans and protect costal zones.
  • Ban dumping and creation of new coal mines.
  • Detailed emission targets each year until 2050.
  • Net zero or net negative emissions within a generation.
  • 100% stationary electricity to be sustainable as soon as possible.
  • Renewable energy implementation and research.
  • Aim for a nuclear-free world.
  • Cease uranium mining and exportation.
  • Eliminate nuclear weapons.

Finance and economics

  • Banks to make greater contribution to public purse through taxes and levies.
  • Minimise ATM fees.
  • Programs introduced to improve Australian financial literacy.
  • Tax and superannuation reforms to benefit low-income earners.
  • Reduce excessive executive salaries.
  • Housing affordability and availability.

Workplace:

  • Stronger protection of worker’s rights.
  • Protection for casual and fixed-term probationary workers.
  • Childcare incentives.
  • Paid parental leave scheme.
  • Minimum of 5 weeks leave for all employees.
  • Shorter standard working hours.
  • Expenditure increase of 3% to support science and technology research.
  • End criminalisation of consensual sex work.
  • Protection of journalism sources and regional independent media.

Peace and security:

  • Ratify international human rights legislation.
  • Global disbarment strategies and promotion of non-violence.
  • Close foreign defence bases within Australia.
  • Stronger support for the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
  • Reform restrictive “counter-terrorism” legislation.
  • End global death penalty.

.Education:

  • More funding for schools based on equity.
  • More infrastructure and specialised teachers.
  • Free university education
  • 16 and 17-year-olds can vote.

Health and mental health:

Gender and sexuality:

  • Allow same-sex marriage.
  • Equal access to adoption, fostering and assisted reproduction regardless of sex, sexual orientation or marital status.
  • Transgender rights.
  • Remove religious exemption for anti-discrimination laws.
  • Create commissioner for sexuality, gender and intersex rights with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  • More funding to domestic violence and women’s shelters.
  • End the gender wage gap.

Liberal:

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Image via the Liberal Party of Australia.

Workplace and tourism:

  • $20 million in funding to protect vulnerable workers.
  • Tax cuts for small businesses.
  • Tax incentives for innovative start-ups.
  • $23 million investment for small businesses.
  • Trans-pacific trade agreement and free trade with Indonesia, the European Union and Pacific Islands.
  • $20 million investment for infrastructure for tourist regions.

Environment:

  • Planting 20 million new trees by 2020.
  • $70 million investment for green spaces.
  • $30 million to support local parks.
  • Emissions reduction fund.
  • $15,000 to community groups for renewable resources.
  • $5 million to a threatened species recovery fund.
  • $3 billion to invest in the Great Barrier Reef and clean water over 10years.
  • $100 million aim per year for Smart Cities program.

Education:

  • Additional $60 million in funding for sport programs.
  • STEM funding of $73.6 billion over 4 years.
  • $4.6 million for alternate education pathways.

Technology and science:

  • A further $60 million to upgrade or create 499 new telephone bases to tackle an additional 3,000 mobile phone service black spots.
  • $50 million to the MyGov website.
  • $7 billion in funding for clinical trials.
  • $650 million in 4 years for medical funding, including $20 million for childhood cancers.
  • $1.1 billion for the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Security:

  • $2.5 billion boost to law enforcement and security.
  • $1 billion to strengthen borders.
  • $40 million Safer Communities Fund,

Labor:

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Image via the Labor Party of Australia.
Education:

  • $37.3 billion investment for education.
  • Girls Into Code initiative with $4.5 million in grants.
  • Safer Schools program of $6 million over 3 years.
  • Increase in child care benefits for low-income earners.
  • $50 million to support family day care systems.
  • $31 million funding for tertiary education.
  • Additional funding for undergraduates.

Health:

  • Restore medicare benefits.
  • Legalise medical cannabis.
  • Give citizens the right to die.
  • $72 million funding for mental health.
  • $7 million for breast cancer, $10.6 million for prostate cancer.
  • $25 million for dementia research.

Climate Change and Environment:

  • $500 million to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 50% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Net zero pollution by 2050.
  • $17.4 million in funding for Climate Change Authority.

Animal Welfare:

  • Ban cosmetic testing.
  • More investigations and sanctions to breaches.
  • Establishment of animal welfare body.

Infrastructure:

  • NBN to premises.
  • $400 million Western Sydney rail package.
  • $1.2 million National Cycling Strategy.
  • High-speed rail between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

Workplace:

  • Protect weekend penalty rates.
  • $4.5 million for Fair Work Commission.
  • No baby bonus.
  • Paid parental scheme leave.
  • Tax reductions for small businesses.
  • Crack down on multinationals.
  • More jobs and courses available.
  • Creative Australia Policy.
  • Building 12 submarines in South Australia.

Gender and sexuality:

  • Marriage equality.
  • $70 billion to family violence services.
  • $8.4 million investment for indigenous girls.
  • Paid parental violence leave of 5 days.
  • More coverage for women’s sport with $21 million in funding to the ABC.
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Image via Mamamia.

Despite all of these lovely promises, there’s no promises they will be put into place. I would encourage each and every one of you to think for yourselves–and to do your research: because your vote matters.

 

 

Eurobodalla Relay for Life: a community fighting cancer

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The Eurobodalla Relay for Life’s survivors and carers lap.

The Eurobodalla Relay for Life was held over the weekend at Batemans Bay’s Mackay Park, and was “better than expected” according to Cancer Council community engagement coordinator Grant Plecas. Zoe Simmons reports.

It’s time to free the nipple.

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Model and actress Cara Delevigne posted this image on Instagram in support of #FreetheNipple. Image via Instagram.

Warning: this post contains nipples.

It all started with a simple Facebook post.

Renee Gerber is a 21-year-old Queenslander—and she’s the latest person to get on board with the #FreeTheNipple campaign—in particular, a social media campaign promoting—you guessed it—nipples.

The campaign—set to launch later today—plays a game of “Guess Who?” by editing female and male (as well as transgender) nipples onto male bodies in order to protest the irrational and unequal status of women created by the sexualisation of the female nipple and breast. The goal of the campaign is to grant women the right to legally expose their breasts, as well as to destigmatise breastfeeding in public. In order to promote inclusiveness, the 20 images (with various quotes and captions) will include nipples of all genders, sexualities, races and body types.

“It’s important to understand that they’re simply body parts, and if you constantly sexualise them, that’s your own inappropriate interpretation.” Ms Gerber said.

After viewing an Instagram post last Sunday night about Orange is the New Black star Matthew McGorry doing something similar, Ms Gerber decided to upscale it into a campaign for equality. A simple Facebook post about her frustrations brought the campaign to life—and 29-year-old Clinton Ulfhedinn-Visi into the picture, who too believes it’s an important issue, and that women shouldn’t  be shamed for their natural bodies.

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Matthew McGorry photoshopped Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigan’s nipples in support of the #FreetheNipple campaign. Image via Instagram.

“It’s about mother’s breastfeeding, [women] swimming in uncomfortable tops, having to constantly think about what you’re wearing, and if you’re covered up correctly,” he said.

“It’s about the fact I don’t even think about putting a shirt on when it’s hot around the house. It’s the fact that it’s just simply not fair and equal.”

The pair hope the campaign will raise awareness, encourage conversation and eventually lead to parliamentary change with enough support.

“We want it to go viral,” Ms Gerber said.

While some may believe campaigns like this are immoral and useless, they may not realise that in Australia, women can be imprisoned for showing their nipples. According to section 393 of the Crimes Act 1900 ACT, indecent exposure, which is defined as “a person who offends against decency by the exposure of his or her person in a public place”, carries a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment. The legislation is similar in all other Australian states, with varied terms of imprisonment and in some cases, hefty fines

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“Who’s nipples are those? They certainly aren’t mine, but this picture is okay because i’m a male. I even stuck my chest out for you, why should the fatty lumps on my chest be okay when others are not? If those same nipples were on a different chest, this picture would violate T&C’s, be deleted, and I might even get a ban on my account. Sounds a bit ridiculous? That’s because it is.” Image via Facbook.

But really, why do we consider it “indecent”? The primary function of the female breast is to breastfeed—it’s only become sexualised because we as a society believe it to be. And let’s not forget that it was only a few decades ago that it was illegal for men to expose their nipples in public.

In the United States, it’s illegal for women to be topless—even when breastfeeding—in 35 states, with threats of up to 3 years imprisonment, and $2500 in fines. It was only 75 years ago that it was illegal for men—in all states—to be shirtless.

This is why the Free the Nipple campaign—which originated in the US—is so important. It even has a film dedicated towards the movement, which proclaims itself to be a “mission to empower women across the world” by standing against female oppression and censorship.

Ms Gerber said it’s just another form of female oppression—and also points out that women in other countries aren’t even allowed to show their ankles. While this may seem absurd to us, to them, it is normal—it serves as proof that our expectation on what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable for a woman’s body is purely social conditioning.

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Are they female nipples? Who knows. Image supplied.

“Cultures have long controlled women’s bodies, and unfortunately ours is one of them,” Mr Ulfhedinn-Visi said.

Even Facebook and Instagram follows the same logic—a person may post a picture of a woman’s entire breast, so long as it doesn’t reveal the nipple, as that would violate its “community standards”.

Ms Gerber believes Facebook further perpetuates the sexualisation of the female nipple, and that it is important to challenge that.

“With our photos, we’re refusing to reveal if the nipples used are male or female. It’s almost impossible to visually tell the difference,” she said.

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IT’S OKAY, it’s a man. No violation to community standards here. Image supplied.

“The nipple is a way to feed children. We all start as female in the womb, that’s why men have nipples in the first place,” Mr Ulfhedinn-Visi said.

“This view we as a society have of women’s bodies is really toxic and harmful,”

“We deserve the right to our own bodies—we’re born with them. When that right is taken away, it becomes oppressive,” Ms Gerber said.

“It’s an example of pure female objectification.”

Support for the campaign—even before it’s official release—has been astounding, with many volunteering their nipples as tribute. Australian model JD Gower, as well as model and musician Barnaby Oakley, are involved as well as a few others yet to be confirmed. Ms Gerber hopes to collaborate with the Veronicas, as she’s collaborated with them on similar issues in the past. Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevigne are also strong supporters of the American Free the Nipple campaign.

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Miley Cyrus posted an image in support of the #FreetheNipple campaign, which was shortly removed for violation to community standards. Image via Instagram.

“People are waking up to the sexist and slut shaming ideologies we’ve been taught, and they’re not happy,” Ms Gerber said.

“It’s time for change.”

Team Quoll: Supporting Quoll-ity Research in the Illawarra

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A crowdfunding campaign is being launched by Team Quoll’s Elira Reynolds in order to determine the situation, and ensure the survival of the endangered spotted-tailed quoll in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands region. The University of Wollongong honours student hopes to raise $4000 in order to purchase necessary equipment, and access remote areas.

Since last year, Ms Reynolds and other members of Team Quoll have set up 109 camera sites around the Illawarra. Only three quolls have been detected, which is a success rate of 2.8%.

“It’s a lot less to expect than if the quolls were doing well in the area,” Ms Reynolds said.

The spotted-tailed quoll is the largest remaining carnivorous marsupial on Australian mainland. Very little is known about the species—particularly in the Illawarra region.

“It’s been estimated their range has contracted about 50% since European settlement,” Ms Reynolds said.

Ms Reynolds intends to use odour treatments and additional camera sites to study the quolls, as well as the impact of the red fox—no quolls were found in areas where foxes were detected.

“We don’t know if the population is stable, increasing or decreasing, and we don’t know how the species needs to be managed to ensure its survival in the region,” she said.

The spotted-tailed quoll is the only quoll species found on the east coast since the extinction of the mainland eastern quoll in 1963.

Team Quoll citizen scientist Craig Murrell said more studies are needed to determine how the situation can be improved.

“If we don’t do something very quickly, very soon, then we’ll also lose the tiger quoll, along with the eastern quoll,” Mr Murrell said.

“If you care about quolls, and if you want to see quolls return . . . the way they used to be here, then giving a donation is . . . a really good way to do that,” Ms Reynolds said.

You can donate to the crowdfunding campaign here.

Team Quoll are an animal activist group concerned with the sparse population of the endangered spotted-tailed quoll in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands.

QUOLL INFOGRAPH

Want more Team Quoll? Follow them Twitter.

New abortion laws: one small step for womankind

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Yesterday, the ACT introduced new legislation which decrees there will be 50-metre exclusion zones around abortion clinics, preventing anti-abortion protesters from congregating and harassing women outside of ACT medical clinics.

The Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment Bill was introduced by Greens member Shane Rattenbury in July, who believes women should have access to abortion services without fear of abuse.

“This is fundamentally about a woman’s right to medical privacy,” he said, inviting would-be protesters to raise their concerns to the Legislative Assembly instead.

Anti-abortion protesters have been gathering outside abortion clinics for the past 16 years, according to Angela Carnovale of the Women’s Centre for Health Matters.

“Even silent vigils convey judgement,” she said.

The amendment is one step closer towards reproductive equality, as under current legislation, women do not have control over their own bodies. The NSW Criminal Code states that any person who obtains or assists with an unlawful abortion may be sentenced up to ten years imprisonment. The 1971 case of R v Wald set the precedent that an abortion is lawful if it was deemed necessary to protect a woman from serious danger to her life, self or mental health.

Basically, if a practitioner doesn’t believe a woman meets this criteria, she cannot get an abortion. This sets the dangerous precedent that women and their opinions do not matter—they are secondary to an unborn foetus, and therefore second-class citizens.

End 12 is a Greens pro-choice campaign that has long fought for exclusion zones around clinics, as well as the decriminalisation of abortion. It believes women have the right to choose without fear of prosecution or harassment. A survey by the Greens indicated 86% of Australians believe abortion should legalised, while 76% did not know abortion is a criminal offence.

Greens senator Larissa Walters believes these laws are archaic, dangerous and regressive.

“They have no place in modern society where women should always have their own control over their bodies.”

Exclusion zones are set to come into force in six months.

Sydney Comic-Con: unleash your inner geek!

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Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver (which doubles as a TV remote). Jon Snow’s sword from Game of Thrones. Katniss’s mockingjay pin from The Hunger Games. Dumbledore’s wand. Replicas of Dean’s beloved Impala from Supernatural. What do these things have in common? Well, they were all at Sydney’s Oz Comic-Con.

Comic-Con parades and celebrates television shows, comic books, movies and anime that have defined a generation. These are franchisees which have taught us right from wrong, to believe in ourselves, and to fight for what we love. They’ve shown us pain, they’ve shown us grief—but they’ve also shown us we are stronger than any adversary we face. To some, Comic-Con might simply seem like a bunch of nerds doing nerd-like things. Well, on behalf of “nerds”, I’d like to tell you: we’re super freaking awesome.

Gender swap Harley Quinn and the Joker from DC!

That being said, before last week, I was a Comic-Con virgin. And boy, Sydney did not disappoint. The normally lonely enormous Sydney Exhibition Centre was transformed into a glorious and magical wonderland of all things wacky and unique. There were hundreds—if not, thousands—of stalls with comic books, trinkets, figurines, intricate sculptures, jewellery, obscure clothing, original art works, fake weapons and things I’m not even sure how to describe. Comic-Con has everything you’re looking for, and everything you never dreamed you’d find.

Apparently, this Harley Quinn and Joker didn't even know each other: but that didn't stop her licking his face. Very Harley Quinn.
Apparently, this Harley Quinn and Joker didn’t even know each other: but that didn’t stop her licking his face. Very Harley Quinn.

Though there were a range of guest stats from much-beloved franchises, such as Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, Bobby from Supernatural, as well as various characters and voice characters from Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Scrubs, Charmed, Vikings, Soul Eater, Dragon Ball and Avatar: The Last Air Bender, it was the phenomenal cosplay which took centre stage.

There was a gender-swapped version of X-Men’s Magneto, Jane from Tarzan, the TARDIS from Dr Who, a brilliant Black Widow from The Avengers, Kakashi from Naturo, and one particularly awesome Juzo from Tokyo Ghoul, as well as a few hundred Harley Quinn—with the Joker, of course. Apparently, I’m not the only one who is super-duper excited for next year’s Suicide Squad movie! There was also a pretty cute little girl dressed as Darth Vader, but I didn’t get a picture, because that would have been creepy.

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The best cosplay for me, hands down, was a mind-blowing rendition of Mystique from X-Men. As part of a hands-on make-up stall, this particular woman was painted and primed for hours upon hours—but the end result was stunning.

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Sorry for the quality! I took it on my phone. But how cool is this?!

When I asked if I could have a picture, she replied enthusiastically and said she would channel her inner Mystique.

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Personally, I dressed up as a rather mediocre version of the Scarlet Witch from The Avengers: Age of Ultron—and subsequently, due to my laziness, had to keep avoiding better-dressed versions of myself. Next year, I’ll actually put in some effort—stay tuned, guys!

Characters from the anime Attack on Titan.

Comic-Con was wacky, intriguing and mind-blowing—and I can’t wait for next year.