Country Town Crisis Reply

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Ice Age: a methamphetamine epidemic in Wellington. Photograph by Peter Devlin

After World War II, Australia entered a boom period of growth and prosperity. In rural areas, it was epitomised by the wool industry when the country ‘rode on the sheep’s back’; those who grew the wool came to symbolise and epitomise what it was to be Australian. However, since then a downturn in the fortunes of primary production has seen a corresponding decline in country towns.

Wellington is a small community in the state’s central west. Like many country towns, Wellington is feeling the social and economic pressures of a continued drought, a high welfare dependency and unemployment rate, a methamphetamine epidemic and a dwindling population.

Peter Devlin tells the story of this country town’s decline in this multi-media long-form narrative feature. The link below will take you to his special feature, ‘Country Town Crisis’.

It’s a dog’s life Reply

Dogs picFor academic and intellectual reasons, Siam Lim chose to investigate aspects of the pet industry as she was intrigued by the huge amount of money Australians spend on their pets, as indicated by industry and related organisations in surveys and reports. And she was interested for personal reasons — she has had three dogs, five cats, two birds, two rabbits and many fish.

In this detailed multi-media continuous narrative, she looks at how dog owners engage with their pets, what their pets give to them and what they are prepared to do for their pets. It explores the shared experience of owning a dog, whether it is about owners rescuing their dogs or their dogs rescuing them. It looks at how they look after their pet’s welfare and how pet owners’ lifestyles influence the way they bring up their pets. And it looks at how this has an impact on the growth of an industry catering solely to the needs of the four-legged family members of the Australian household. To see Siam Lim’s report ‘Talking about dogs’, go to her URL below:

Talking about suicide Reply

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Suicide continues to be leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44, according to the latest ABS report. Photograph by Ryan McGuire, used under Creative Commons Licence

Stigma surrounds suicide and many people are reluctant, or even too fearful, to talk about it, according to Nicole Parodi. Her aim with this narrative project was to inform readers about the impact that mental health, particularly suicide and suicide prevention, has on the Australian community and why research is important to improving suicide prevention strategies. She also wanted to share the perspectives of those bereaved by suicide that are often not included in discussions on suicide and mental health. Her decision to use a multi-media platform for this project was because she believes Internet and social media has shifted the way the audience receives the news and how quickly they receive it. This has new expectations of wanting access to information instantly and accurately. The online landscape has made news interactive as well as opening up opportunities for discussions. The URL to Nicole’s project is below:

FSI: Forensic Science Investigation Reply

Forensic Science use as headingLisa Robinson worked as a forensic biologist  with a government agency examining crime-scene evidence for body fluids and DNA profiling suitability while completing her postgraduate journalism studies. She chose to develop this multi-media long-form feature narrative about forensics because of her professional background. This series of articles probes deeper than most daily news articles, showcasing the real world of forensic science: what it’s really like to work in a forensics lab; new technologies; rethinking processes; and the use of forensic evidence in court. Copy and past this link to read Lisa’s report.

Beauty In Science: Finding truths in the beauty industry Reply

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How safe is lipstick? Photograph by Auntie P used under Creative Commons License.

Between products and services, the beauty business is a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2012, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s information and advice website Money Smart calculated that Australians spent $8 billion on beauty products and services. As Rose Walker reports, that’s equivalent to every person in the country, including babies, buying almost 16 luxury brand lipsticks a year or getting a whole head of highlights twice in a year at a leading hairdresser, if that’s more your style. And as she reports in the multi-media long-form narrative project, with the amount of money Australians are spending on products and treatments, it pays to know what works and, more importantly, which may be doing more harm than good. She investigates concerns about certain cosmetic problems, labelling restrictions in Australia, what to look for on a label, what it might mean, and the regulations applied to labels and claims. The URL to her site is below:

Aircraft Safety Reply

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On the flight deck, pilots go through pre-flight checklist for United Airlines flight between Los Angeles and Sydney. Photograph by Wagan Vota

Flight file: facts, fears and fantasies

Genevieve Lim chose this topic on Aircraft Safety because she always had a keen interest in it. From when she was a child, she wondered why planes could disappear or crash seemingly without any reason. So she developed this is multi-media long-form narrative to explore the subject, from the current unfolding story about the missing Malaysian flight MH 370 to interviews with a pilot, a flight attendant, an avionic engineer, a mechanical engineer to an aviation researcher, to a slideshow on aircraft accidents to a report on the world’s best airlines, Genevieve gives an insight into the aviation passenger business. The link below will take you to her special project.

The Age Paradox Reply

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The former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce with Dr Patricia Edgar at the launch of Dr Edgar’s book, In Praise of Ageing. Photograph courtesy of Government House

The Age Paradox is a multi-media long-form narrative feature that explores the notion of ageing in Australian society, in particular the dichotomy between the economic need for older people to work for longer and the high levels of age discrimination present in employment. Writer Jackie Keast went beyond the political rhetoric and looked at how older people were framed during mainstream news coverage of the 2014 Budget. In almost all of the stories she studied, where older people were discussed, she found they rarely were interviewed as a source. Jackie remedied that with this project. You can read The Age Paradox at the link below:

The story behind the stories of ‘Women of Empire’ Reply

By Sangeeta Kocharekar 

Three groups of female mannequins stand in the foyer of the Waverley Library. They stand tall in their costumes. They look courageous. Humble. Unknown. Safiye and Ella

The mannequins represent the untold stories of the women whose lives were transformed by their experiences during World War I. These are the women who took over from the men on farms, the women who organised local Red Cross branches, the women who waited for the telegrams of news of their husbands and sons and brothers, and the women who sewed clothing for the troops.

These are the women selected for the ‘Women of Empire’ exhibition.

“I call them ‘extraordinary, ordinary women’ because they were ordinary women. They could’ve been anyone, they could’ve been from Canberra or Ballarat or Waverley in Sydney or Timbucktu,” says Fiona Baverstock, the exhibition’s curator.

“They were transformed by their experiences, but they also transformed themselves and the society around them.” Fiona worked with her husband, Keith Baverstock, who acted as Chief Experiences Officer (CEO), for three years to pull the exhibition together. Fiona and Keith are collectors and dealers in antique and vintage fashion, textiles and associated memorabilia, and have been involved with staging costume exhibitions for 10 years.

Keith has been involved in historical projects for 40 years in Australia and overseas. His main role is to market the exhibition, design the artwork, and plan the set-up and pack-down logistics. “Also, despite being a mere male, I do have a very good eye for fashion and do a lot of the purchasing here and overseas,” he says. More…

Women going to war Reply

By Wendy John

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World War 2 nurse Joan Fisher at the RSL ANZAC village, Narrabeen. Photo credit: Wendy John

As ISIS take over yet other Syrian city, 20 Australian women are training to serve in military combat roles for the first time. It’s a notion that makes Joan Fisher, 95, who served as a nurse during World War II, “horrified”.

Mrs Fisher did her training at Sydney Hospital before being deployed to the Australian hospital ship ‘Oranje’ in the Asia-Pacific area. She says she is shocked by the removal of gender restrictions on combat roles. “A woman could be a nurse or work behind the scenes in the offices. I just cannot understand the female mind wanting to kill. It makes me shudder.”

It’s only two years since the Australian Defence Force lifted restrictions on the 17 per cent of jobs previously excluded to women. Women may apply from 2016 but currently all female trainees have transferred from existing military roles. And Defence is guarding the trainees’ privacy from the media “to ensure they have an equitable environment in which to succeed and to avoid placing them under additional pressure”, according to a Defence spokesperson.

However, the pressures and risks of war are not unfamiliar to Australian servicewomen. Mrs Fisher recalls the ‘Oranje’ “zigzagging to avoid the submarines”. And she speaks with great sorrow when remembering when the hospital ship ‘Centaur’ was sunk off Queensland in 1943. “The ship had gone down with all hands and it was shocking, shocking.”

Currently, around 258 Australian servicewomen are deployed on overseas operations, where combat duties may be required of them regardless of their designated roles. More…

When truth telling becomes a casualty of surveillance Reply

By Greta Stonehouse

Information is freedom Pic credit Gallo

A protest of conviction. Photograph: Gallo

In the wake of new terror laws in Australia, journalists and whistleblowers now face up to 10 years jail for reporting on sensitive areas of national security. The first Walkley Media Talk of 2015 held recently at the State Library examined whether it is the duty of journalists to toe the government’s national security line, or is it more important than ever to dig up the truth? 

“Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift,” the Prime Minister Abbott said last September as the Government prepared to introduce counter-terrorism laws. It was a comment that caused journalists and citizens alike to wonder how this shift would manifest itself.

In light of the recent Federal Government reforms to data retention, the shift is beginning to be revealed in the cyber world. The recent Walkley Foundation discussion between award-winning investigative journalist Quentin Dempster, Four Corners journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna, and IT journalist Josh Taylor, examined what this means for Australian citizens, and its effect on journalism.

Under new reforms, telecommunication companies are obliged to keep the data of its users for a minimum period of two years. But what exactly is being kept?

“In the context of messaging — email, for example — it reveals the sender, recipient, time and date, but not the content. Access to content, I stress, requires a warrant,” the Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull said when introducing the Government’s controversial metadata retention laws [Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014]. He stressed the importance of data retention for investigations into counter-terrorism and cyber-security. More…