The case for diversifying housing options for older Australians


Taking time off work with her first child, young mum Kate Kirsten felt increasingly anxious about the prospect of leaving her tiny daughter in childcare when it was time to return to her office.

She confided her fears one day on the phone to her dad.

“Well, I do miss you,” he said. “And I’m lonely living here on my own. Why don’t I just move in with you, and give you a helping hand?”

The pair talked it over and decided to give it a try. Twelve years on, they can’t imagine ever living apart again.

Her dad, Len Parsons, helped her bring up her two children, Sienna, now 12, and Will, 11. He loves living with his family and his grandkids absolutely adore him.  

“It’s worked out so well for us,” says Kate, 46, who lives with the children in a house in Leichhardt, in Sydney’s inner west, which has a studio in the backyard where Len, 87, sleeps and retreats to when he wants a quiet refuge.

“We all genuinely like each other and we’re great housemates.”

“Dad loves having so much time with his grandchildren, and they love his sense of humour and that he’s around so much.”

“In addition, it’s much more economical living together rather than him going to a retirement home and me paying for childcare. And we all get on well, and treat each other with patience and respect.”

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Kate, her father Len and her two children are just one of the many families choosing to live inb multi-generational households. Photo: Peter Rae

Social researchers say that, with slower population growth and the drop in migration, our society is ageing rapidly, with older Australians making up a growing proportion of the total population.

With that change, we need to look at fresh ways of housing more mature people and keeping them as a valued, and integral, part of the greater community.

Latest studies from the University of NSW’s City Futures Research Centre shows more and more of us are taking that challenge into our own hands, with one in five Australians – just like Kate and Len and the kids – now living in a multi-generational household.

Another project from Corelogic and Archistar found that there are 583,440 properties in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that have room enough to build an additional self-contained unit of at least 60 square metres.

“Different generations of the same family living together is something that’s traditionally been strong in other cultures overseas, but less common here,” says Craig Christensen, principal at the award-winning urban planning and design practice Hatch RobertsDay.

“But, really, it should be an option for all of us.”

“We need to build bigger apartments with separate space for grandparents, or houses with a studio or granny flat where they can have their own private space. I think this is going to be a growing trend.”

Another change Craig predicts is the growth of mixed-use developments, with aged-care living integrated into the whole, either with separate blocks, or dedicated floors for older residents in regular buildings.

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Len lives in his daughter’s backyard studio where has his own personal space when needed. Photo: Peter Rae

His practice worked with Sekisui House Australia to design the new Ripley Town Centre south-west of Brisbane to include senior living and aged care.

In Sydney, the Crown Group is creating the mixed-use complex Eastlakes, in the city’s south, to include apartments side-by-side with 80 stores, cafes and restaurants as well as an 1800-square-metre emergency and medical centre that’s likely to appeal particularly to an older demographic.

In addition, some of the apartments are likely to be specially planned with bigger bathrooms, handrails, non-slip tiles and wider spaces throughout to accommodate wheelchairs.      

“We’re seeing a lot of multi-generational families moving into our Green Square and Waterfall developments because it means they can live close to all the facilities they need,” says Crown CEO Iwan Sunito.

“Some like to live together as it’s part of their culture, or kids might be trying to save money after losing their jobs during COVID-19, while other family members might have separate apartments on the same floor or in other buildings in the same complex. But I also think that COVID made us all value our closeness to family more. And at Eastlakes, with that medical centre and being so close to the Prince of Wales Hospital, it’s going to be ideal for older members of the family.”

Another rapidly emerging trend is to have aged living above shopping centres, public transport hubs, restaurants or cafes.

In Sydney’s eastern suburbs, developer Lendlease bought, and completely refurbished, a vertical village of independent living units, the Ardency Trebartha, which now sits above one of Elizabeth Bay’s busiest, and most fashionable, cafes, Shuk. 

“I’m a regular, and go down to get coffee and food and meet my grandchildren there,” says resident Zandra Stanton, 82, who’s also chair of the residents’ committee.

“Some people get their meals delivered up to them too from the cafe, which is nice.”

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Zandra Stanton is an active member of her community within Ardency Trebartha as residential chairperson. Photo: Peter Rae

“We have one 98-year-old man in the building who goes down every morning for coffee and cake. I think getting together with other people there, and having a social life in the building, keeps a lot of people alive!”  

Lendlease managing director retirement living Nathan Cockerill says it’s a great way of avoiding the loneliness and isolation that older Australians often feel.

“They want to stay local and connected to their community, loved ones and require different services and amenities to complement their lifestyle,” he says.

“Ardency Trebartha is a great example of what we’re planning for the future – it’s a multi-storey apartment building that’s located in the inner city with harbour views. It has a popular cafe on the ground floor, and within the building, there’s a hair and beauty salon, bar and lounge, library and cinema. The building is integrated with the surrounding area rather than being a closed community so that residents can stay connected.”

One of the main difficulties at the moment for older Australians is that they simply don’t have enough housing options, believes Professor Bruce Judd of the University of NSW, who’s currently collaborating with Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, on research on population ageing and housing issues. 

“A lot of people really want to live in single-level houses with two to three bedrooms, no stairs and a small courtyard,” he says. “But while those sorts of villas were built in the 1960s and 1970s in places like Rockdale and Kogarah, they’re not really available now.

Villas are usually single level homes in a small complex.
1970s style villas are usually single level homes that are accessible to older residents requiring mobility assistance.

“We talk about downsizers moving into smaller houses, but they still need space. They want bedrooms for their grandkids to come and stay and to use for hobbies, or an office, or for sewing or exercise. In one project, we found only nine per cent of over-55s had actually downsized to a smaller number of bedrooms.”

Many of them are nervous about apartment living, too, Judd believes, as they’re worried about noise from their neighbours next door, below and above, have an aversion to dealing with the owners’ corporation and, since they’re usually on fixed incomes, don’t like the possibility of strata levies increasing.

“But some builders are now building three-generation homes with private areas so grandparents can have their own space, and there are more dual-key apartments [apartments that can be divided into two] coming onto the market.”

Dr Debbie Faulkner, director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute at the University of Adelaide, is carefully watching the development of more innovative models of housing for older people. These range from special units of public housing, to co-operative housing, to friends getting together, buying land and building housing for them all.   

“But we need to make it easier for these models in terms of the planning and financial systems,” she says. “It can be very onerous in the current situation.” 

Even if 20 per cent of new houses in Australia included features like grab-rails and step-free entrances, it would allow many more older people to age in their own homes, says Craig Christensen.

“Building more liveable housing could reduce the need for care and could promote greater independence in the older age group,” he says.     

Making society generally more age-friendly can also do a lot to help. The growth of community gardens often offers older people the chance to participate in a pastime they may have grown up with.

Peter Ives, secretary of the Addison Road Community Garden in Marrickville, and himself in his 70s, says it can prove a great way to mix.

Many community gardens accept compost donations.
Volunteering in public initiatives such as community gardens is one way older Australians remain connected within their local communities. Photo: Supplied

“Some older people may attend for exercise and to socialise and for amusement,” he says. “Others might come to grow the food they like to eat, as well as for the company.”

Having company is, indeed, one of the most important requirements of healthy ageing. Isolation, loneliness and depression are the real killers.

Happily, Len Parsons, surrounded by the love of his family, considers himself in an ideal position. So many of his neighbours know him too, from his volunteering at the local playgroup and church. 

“They all say we’re so lucky to have him with us,” says Kate Kirsten, the editor of magazine Take 5. “And we think so too.”

Sienna agrees. “It’s good having family around all the time,” she says. “I never have to remember to carry keys on me!”

Will grins. “And he tells good jokes,” he says. “He’s very funny – even though he barracks for the wrong footy team …”

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African Australians like Jumess are working to reverse the effects of internalised racism and showcase their culture


Before she left the house with her natural afro, Jumess Dinanga used to practise what she would say to the bullies.

“I would feel so much anxiety, so before I stepped outside I would be running through the reactions that would be given to me for having my natural hair out,” she said.

Growing up in Melbourne’s outer-western suburbs during a time of media-fanned moral panic around African gangs, Jumess did everything she could to suppress her heritage.

“I used to get bullied about my nose, my lips, and my hair, so they were huge insecurities for me,” she said.

“There are a lot of things that you start hating about yourself.”

After being subjected to recurring racist acts, Jumess’ feelings of shame intensified.

“We were walking after school and there was this truck of workers who pulled down the windows and were screaming: ‘thugs, gang members’,” she said.

Another time, she and her friends were refused entry to a retailer without being given a reason why.

“When we finished our exams, we thought: ‘Let’s go to the shopping centre’,” she said.

“[The retailer] told us we couldn’t come in.

“We saw another group of Caucasian girls, and we asked them, ‘Can you try and go in?’

“They went in with no-one being questioned. That’s when we realised there was a huge problem.”

She started straightening her hair and even changed her last name on job applications to see if that would improve her luck.

“Every time I changed my last name to something else, I would get the job interview,” she said.

“I felt like I had to work ten times harder to prove myself.”

It took an encounter with a young girl at her church to change her mindset.

“I’m a Sunday school teacher, and there was this little girl that came to me with her natural hair in an afro,” she said.

“I said: ‘You look so beautiful with your natural hair, that’s a beautiful afro, if I had an afro I’d go everywhere like that’.

“And the girl said: ‘No, I want to braid it or do something with it, because I don’t want to go to school like this, I’m going to get bullied’.”

In that moment, Jumess said she saw her “own shame reflected back”.

“That reminded me of myself,” she said. “If I told her to keep her afro, I would be a hypocrite.

“That’s when I realised enough was enough. I wasn’t going to let my shame be passed to the next generation.”

It was later that Jumess realised her self-hatred about her appearance was internalised racism.

“We try to fit in with everybody, when we can’t fit in with everybody anyway.”

Internalised racism is a person’s tacit acceptance of common understandings or stereotypes about themselves, says University of Melbourne researcher Adam Seet.

Dr Seet authored a recent study into how internalised racism manifests in Australia, interviewing teenagers and adults about their experiences.

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Severe weather affects where four in 10 Australians want to live


Natural disasters and severe weather events have affected where four in 10 people want to live, a new survey shows, and prompted almost a quarter of Australians to consider moving homes.

Almost half of Australians have made or plan to make changes to their home in response to severe weather, a national survey has found, while 6 per cent have made a major move and left their region.

The Westpac Severe Weather Impact Report  also found more than half of Australians believed such weather had become more frequent in their area, with more than a third directly affected at their home, according to Ross Miller, Westpac Group’s chief customer engagement officer.

Mr Miller said more Australians were taking steps to prepare their homes, but there was more work to do.

“They are actively taking steps to prepare their home, and this appears to be a regular household budget item. The average household is spending $1000 on making modifications to their home such as landscaping, shutters, double-glazing and smoke detectors.

The survey found 48 per cent of Australians had planned changes, with landscaping (22 per cent), tree removal (19 per cent), and installing extra smoke detectors (14 per cent) the most common action taken.

Waterfront properties at Collaroy were damaged again in Monday night's king tide.
Living by the water is still the dream for many, even though they expect severe weather to increase. Pictured is the damage caused to waterfront homes on Sydney’s northern beaches by a king tide in 2016. Photo: Nick Moir

But concern about climate change and its impact would not deter many Australians from the dream of living by the coast or in the country, with 51 per cent of respondents saying living near the water or coast was more important than severe weather when choosing where to live. Four in 10 respondents said the same for living in the country or the bush.

Severe weather has rarely been front of mind for the influx of sea and tree changers looking to relocate off the back of the coronavirus pandemic, according to valuer David Notley, a director at Herron Todd White Brisbane.

“It’s really not on a lot of people’s radar, they’d rather be close to beach, close to the coast, or living on rural property and the ability to work from home at the moment is really making that more possible,” Mr Notley said.

While climate change and extreme weather was more front of mind for buyers in the months following bushfires, flooding and storms, it typically became less of a concern as time went on.

“Back after the January 2011 floods in Brisbane we saw buyers becoming quite discerning towards those properties that were flood affected,” he said.

“It saw a lot of people retract from the market, it stopped people from buying, but again as time went on it become more back of mind and all those areas have now since recovered,” he said. “It gets to a point where it’s out of sight and out of mind.”

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The 2011 floods brought Brisbane’s real estate market to a halt but only for the short term. Photo: Glen Hunt GTH

While the floods became less of a factor for buyers, Mr Notley said, many in affected areas still researched where the watermark had reached,  mitigation efforts and insurance premiums.

“People weight up pros and cons of it, if helps that the market now is stronger,” he said.

Mr Miller said communities affected by extreme weather and natural disasters were more aware that the more active steps they took, the more quickly they were able to recover.

“My experience of working with customers and communities through times of natural disaster is that communities are becoming more resilient,” he said.

“There is a sense of confidence within these communities that they know the active steps they need to take to prepare and build resilience.”

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Almost a quarter of survey respondents said severe weather had made them reconsider where they would like to live.

While 80 per cent of survey respondents had taken some form of action, Mr Ross said there was room for improvement, with emergency plans identified as a key weakness – with seven in 10 respondents having taken no steps to save emergency numbers, download relevant apps or prepare an emergency kit, for example.

The survey also suggested more than a million Australians had not checked their home insurance in at least five years, half of whom had never checked their cover since taking out their policy.

Mr Miller said it was important people took the time to check their cover, as being underinsured could cause unnecessary financial hardship.

“Having been at the forefront of assisting our customers in the January 2020 fires, I know and I saw how being properly insured helped households bounce back and recover much more quickly,” he said,

He said climate change had long recognised by Westpac as one of the most significant issues that would affect the long-term prosperity of Australia’s economy and way of life.

He added Westpac was working to help customers understand how it could affect their homes and assets — with the launch of a Disaster Hub — to help them make the right decisions to prepare, respond and recover.

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Charter freight flights from South America help get stranded Australians home during coronavirus pandemic


Victoria Keating has barely slept in days and her small team of Queenstown travel agents is in desperate need of a break.

For weeks, they have been working from across the Tasman to help Australians stuck in various parts of South America.

Today, they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a charter flight from Chile’s capital, Santiago, to Sydney.

“It’s been quite the rollercoaster,” Ms Keating said.

“Getting the plane was difficult, getting the seats into Australia was difficult.

“We just really wanted to try and get as many people home as possible.”

More than 120 Australians are expected to arrive on the charter flight, which cost passengers just under $4,000 a ticket.

After they disembark in Sydney, the plane is scheduled to fly to Auckland where it will pick up South Americans wanting to return home from New Zealand.

“Which was particularly scary … it’s a big risk to take but we knew that the demand was there.”

Limited options for Australians in South America

Samuel McDowell and his family made it home to Sydney from Paraguay.(Supplied)

Ms Keating moved to New Zealand from Australia nearly 17 years ago.

As COVID-19 shut the international travel industry down last year, she noticed a large number of South Americans living in Queenstown with no way of getting home.

Her agency, X Travel, started trying to find people seats on cargo flights but were soon inundated with requests from Aussies and Kiwis in South America wanting to travel in the other direction.

“For many countries, including the likes of Peru and Colombia, the borders actually didn’t open until October,” Ms Keating said.

Samuel McDowell and his family got seats on another one of X Travel’s flights earlier this year after struggling to find a way home from Paraguay, where he and his wife were working as doctors for a rural health clinic.

“They were just brilliant, they made it all happen,” he said.

Three smiling women facing the camera
Fanny Lindblad-Hillary, Niki Davies and Victoria Keating from X Travel(Supplied)

“The [other] options were very convoluted, you had to go up through America or even worse through Europe and the risks of getting stranded were very high.

“And then of course there’s the cost. And for a family of five like ours, $50,000 was not reasonable or attainable for us at that time.”

Race against time for pregnant Australian

Another Australian with personal experience of the challenges many are facing is Annalisa Powell, who recently made it home from Brazil.

She first wanted to return after she and her Brazilian partner lost their work as musicians due to COVID-19.

However, the situation became more urgent when they realised she was pregnant.

“[Our] flights got repeatedly cancelled and then bumped and then cancelled … and it was getting later and later in the pregnancy,” she said.

Ms Powell completed her two weeks’ quarantine in New South Wales before arriving in her home state of Western Australia.

“When we touched down on Perth soil, I was just exhausted I guess from the whole experience,” she said.

“We were sitting in the airport waiting for my parents to come and when I saw them I just broke down, it was crazy.

“I think at this point in my life I need some family support and I just didn’t have anything in Brazil.”

Australian Government defends support

Hundreds of people packed together at an airport in Peru.
Peru is one of the South American nations where more than 1,000 Australians remain stranded.(Supplied: Merinda Kyle)

Ms Powell speaks highly of the support she received from the embassy in Brazil but other Australians in South America have told the ABC they feel let down by the federal government.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said the government had provided support for the charter flight landing in Sydney today.

It also said its highest priority was helping vulnerable Australians overseas.

“Since March, DFAT has helped over 40,700 Australians return on over 500 flights including over 15,000 people on 108 government facilitated flights,” it said.

“Twenty of these facilitated flights assisted Australians to return from South America.”

Of the 40,000 Australians around the world still registered with DFAT as wanting to return, around 1,000 are believed to be in South America.

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Vaccinating all Australians by October ‘a tall order’



ANU’s Sanjaya Senanayake says it will be a tall order to reach the government’s target of having all of Australia’s vaccinations administered by October, but is hopeful it may be reached.

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Coronavirus scammers prepare to target Australians over vaccine rollout, experts warn


There are thousands of fraudsters preparing to exploit the COVID-19 vaccine program, experts say, warning the scams will look legitimate and the people behind them may even know your name, phone number and email.

Michael Connory, a cyber security consultant and CEO of the company Security in Depth, said there was a significant number of scam emails sent in the UK and US relating to vaccination programs.

“[They have] scammed numerous people, tens of thousands of people over in the UK, as well as in the US,” he said.

Fraud protection consultants said the rollout of vaccinations across Australia this week was giving fraudsters a prime opportunity to pose as health authorities.

“Bad actors will look for opportunities — be it tax time or be it the imminent distribution of vaccines.” Mr Levinsohn said.

Mr Connory said scams would be very hard to distinguish from genuine communication.

“It will look like a legitimate email coming from a government agency,” he said.

He said he expected the scams would convince people to click on a link to give personal information or install malicious software that steals information.

“Cyber-criminals then take that personal information, and use that for things such as identity theft, which is hugely prevalent in Australia.” Mr Connory said.

He said people should expect scammers to call or even text them.

“That text will say something like: ‘Hi Michael, here is your COVID information’ with a link,” he said.

“Now because you can’t really see the link in detail on the text, it’s much more likely that you will click on the link, and it will take you to a compromised website.”

The other way criminals had been scamming people, was by duping them into trying to “jump” the vaccination queue.

“They’re going to say, ‘if you want to get the Pfizer vaccine rather than the AstraZeneca vaccine, then pay $150 and you can jump the queue’,” Mr Connory said.

“The reality is that there’s no jumping the queue.”

Then there is what else scammers can steal from you, Mr Connory said.

“What they’re really looking for is your information, the more personal information they have on you, such as your Medicare details, your driver’s licence, your date of birth — they can then utilise that information and attack you from an identity theft perspective,” he said.

“These individuals will go out and get credit with your name, they will create companies, they will start to trade, they can get mobile phones with your details, they can do a whole range of different things with your personal information.

“Last year, the Australian Cybersecurity Centre and ID Care, which are both government organisations, had a look at 41,000 cases of these types of scams, and the average loss was $18,000 per person.

“We’ve seen from research that within Australia … on average 20 per cent of individuals will still click on a link.”

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Flight of Fancy podcast: Australian’s best wine regions


Is there a better combination in the world than travel and wine? OK, how about travel and food and wine? Or how about travel and food and wine and beautiful scenery? Or how about travel and food and wine and beautiful scenery and art and exercise and history and helicopter rides? That sounds pretty good, right?

And this is what you get when you visit wine country in Australia. Whether you choose the Barossa or Margaret River, the Yarra Valley or the Hunter Valley, Adelaide Hills or the Mornington Peninsula – or a region far lesser-known and boutique – you are in for something special. You’re in for excellent food, high-quality wine-tasting experiences, and a whole range of other activities that fit perfectly with the relaxed but sophisticated vibe of Australia’s viticultural hubs. 

But which regions are best? And what should you do when you get there?

On this episode of Flight of Fancy, the Traveller.com.au podcast, I’m joined by fellow travel writer Ute Junker, and Ultimate Winery Experiences executive officer Kate Shilling to talk wine – and more specifically, about the parts of Australia in which it’s produced, and the things you can do when you get there. Because a visit to wine country is not just about the stuff you drink. It’s about a whole universe of experiences that match it like, well, food with wine.

A new episode of Flight of Fancy is released every fortnight, so don’t miss out. Subscribe to Flight of Fancy on iTunes, Spotify or your favourite podcasting app and join the Flight of Fancy Facebook group.

You can listen to the newest episode below or via your podcasting app.

This Flight of Fancy episode is hosted by Ben Groundwater, produced by Annie Dang and mixed by Lap Phan.

 

To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.



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Australians pause to remember Hannah Clarke and her children, one year on from their murders


This article contains references to domestic and family violence. 

Australians have joined the parents of murdered mother-of-three Hannah Clarke in lighting a candle to honour their daughter, one year on from her death.

Hannah and her three children, six-year-old Aaliyah, four-year-old Laianah and three-year-old Trey, were murdered by her estranged husband in Brisbane last February. 

Parents Sue and Lloyd Clarke went on to set up a foundation in their legacy – Small Steps 4 Hannah – that aims to educate the community on domestic violence and push for legal reform. 

“Our family and friends have been through some pretty dark times in the last 12 months,” Sue and Lloyd said in a video posted on the foundation’s Facebook page on Friday. 

“We’re going to remember them as bright, happy people who brought light to everyone they met.” 

Brisbane was lit up on Friday to honour Hannah, her children and other victims of domestic violence.

Small Steps 4 Hannah Facebook page

Monuments were lit up around Brisbane on Friday ahead of an evening vigil, with Hannah’s parents also asking the community to light a candle in their memory at 5:30pm (local time) and post a photo on social media. 

“As the sun goes down, we invite you to light a candle for them, and for all victims of domestic and family violence,” Lloyd said. 

“Let’s keep the flame burning, until there is no darkness,” Sue added. 

Pictures began to flood Facebook and Twitter on Friday evening accompanied by the hashtag #HALT – an acronym for Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. 

Shannon Fentiman, Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, was among those to post a photo, saying domestic and family violence “has no place in our community”. 

“Tonight, we pause to remember Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey and light a candle for them, and victims of domestic and family violence,” she wrote on Twitter. 

“We can change. And we must change.” 

There had been earlier concerns the tribute would not be able to proceed on the foundation’s Facebook page after it was caught up in the platform’s Australian news ban. 

Small Steps 4 Hannah was among the non-media organisations on Facebook – including critical health, weather and domestic violence services – that were hit by the ban for at least part of Thursday

“It’s very upsetting. It’s very, very disappointing,” Sue told reporters on Thursday. 

The page was restored later on Thursday night. 

In Canberra on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison remembered Hannah and her children and the “unspeakable, unthinkable” crime that ended their lives.

“We must do all we can to support those suffering from family violence. Hannah we … thank you and we will never forget,” Mr Morrison told parliament.

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese added: “We cannot be bystanders, not now, not ever. Let us be guided every day by their memory and let them never fade.”

Calls to criminalise coercive control 

Sue and Lloyd Clarke are part of a push to criminalise coercive control in domestic relationships. 

There are growing calls to make intimidation, stalking and other forms of coercive control illegal under reforms to domestic violence laws across Australia, with federal politicians, families of victims and journalists joining a campaign urging states and territories to outlaw it.

The term ‘coercive control’ is used to describe a deliberate pattern of abuse occurring within intimate relationships. It can include emotional and psychological manipulation, along with social, financial and technology-facilitated abuse. 

It is the most common risk factor in the lead up to a domestic violence homicide, according to Women’s Legal Service NSW. 

A review carried out from 2017-2019 by the NSW Coroner’s Court found 99 per cent of intimate partner homicides were preceded by “coercive and controlling behaviours towards the victim”.

The Queensland government this week announced it would set up an independent task force to investigate the implementation of coercive control legislation.

Tasmania is so far the only state which has already implemented laws dealing directly with controlling behaviour.

New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory are considering similar laws after campaigning from women’s safety organisations.

“We need to make sure that our understanding of domestic abuse is enshrined in law and then that can filter right throughout the community,” Hayley Foster, CEO of Women’s Safety, told SBS News. 

But while experts agree coercive control needs to be urgently acknowledged and understood, some say Australia’s criminal justice system is not ready to introduce a standalone offence – and doing so could risk more harm to marginalised communities. 

Additional reporting by Jennifer Scherer and AAP.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

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Facebook to restrict Australians from sharing or viewing news content


Facebook has announced that it will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content in response to Australia’s proposed media bargaining laws.

In a blog post, the social media giant said that it made the decision after being unable to find a “solution” in discussions with the Australian government.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content”, Facebook said.Credit:AP

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” said William Easton, Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand managing director.

“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.

“Unfortunately, this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook.”

More to come

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Nearly 10 per cent of Australians will refuse jab


A staggering number of Australians have expressed reluctance to putting their arm forward for a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a new survey released by the federal government.

In the findings released on Tuesday night, 27 per cent of eligible Australian respondents aged over 16 were unsure if they would get a jab while 9 per cent said they would definitely not get the vaccine, with the main causes of the reluctance being a belief the long term side effects were unknown and the jabs were developed too quickly.

Only 48 per cent of the respondents said they would get the vaccine as soon as it was available, providing a concern to health authorities as the rollout is due to begin at the end of the month.

But the attitudes towards the vaccines appear to improve the longer the scheme is scheduled to be dispersed across the population, with 64 per cent saying they would definitely get it at some stage and 71 per cent declaring they would choose to have it some time by October.

RELATED: Three in four Australians say they will get jab

Curiously, the reservations are at odds with the understanding among respondents about the importance of the vaccine: 86 per cent agree the jab will help protect vulnerable Australians and 79 per cent agree vaccines across the population will reduce the risk of the health system being overwhelmed.

The three main motivators for choosing to take the jab, according to the government-commissioned survey, is protecting themselves from catching the deadly virus, keeping the country safe from coronavirus and protecting the elderly and most vulnerable.

The results follow findings from research group Ipsos earlier this month which found three in four Australians were willing to get the vaccine when it became available, revealing similar concerns about the rapid development.

“The early hesitancy we saw around the globe wasn’t being driven by the public buying into conspiracy theories,” Ipsos Australia director Jessica Elgood said.

“It was more likely to be reasonable, thoughtful people being hesitant because they didn’t know what they needed to know to make the right decision.”

RELATED: Push for Facebook to unveil vaccine lies

The Pfizer vaccine arrived on Australian shores this week and the Australian government has also thrown its support behind the AstraZeneca jab following fears over its effectiveness in people aged over 65.

On Tuesday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted the AstraZeneca jab approval for use in people aged 18 and above, placing no upper age limit on its recommendation.

European regulators had butted heads over whether to approve the vaccine for people aged above 65 amid concerns over its effectiveness in that age group.

But the TGA quelled those fears, announcing approval on Tuesday and saying there were “no safety concerns in this age group” arising from clinical trials.

The administration’s John Skerritt said the jab’s rollout in the UK, where there was no upper age limit, showed a strong immune response among the elderly.

“Our analysis of the data gives us no reason to suspect that the vaccine would not be fully efficacious in older groups,” he said.

Various European countries have put an upper limit of 65 on the AstraZeneca vaccine, while Italy restricted its use to people under 55.

The TGA recommended a “case-by-case” assessment before administering the jab to people aged over 65 but Professor Skerritt clarified the only time the jab should not be recommended was when administering it would be futile.

“If someone only has a few weeks to live, you won’t give them a hip replacement and may not give them a vaccine,” he said.

“That’s what we’re talking about, but the vaccine is recommended for use in all ages.”

Australia has ordered 53.8 million AstraZeneca doses, 3.8 million of those sourced from overseas, with drug manufacturer CSL to produce the other 50 million doses in Melbourne in a move the government says will safeguard Australia against international supply issues.

The overseas doses are set to be administered in early March, with the Australian-produced doses to follow later that month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said attention would turn to ensuring the vaccine was spread quickly and effectively across the country.

“It’s going to make a huge difference to how we live here in Australia this year and in the years ahead,” he said.

The jab will be administered in two doses, which are recommended to be spaced 12 weeks apart.

— With Finn McHugh

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