Displaying items by tag: Australasia

Friday, 05 August 2022 09:50

Global: floods

Devastating flash floods have killed 37 people and hundreds are still missing in eastern Kentucky’s worst disaster for decades. The death toll will continue to rise. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed. People are sitting on their porches, hoping somebody is coming to save them. See  In July, Sydney in Australia was hit with a month’s worth of rain in five days; people are still cleaning up three feet of swirling mud. Pakistan has 7,000+ glaciers, but rising global temperatures are causing them to melt rapidly, creating thousands of glacial lakes that might burst and release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, flooding villages in just a few hours. Worsening Indian monsoons cause Mumbai residents to commute on Venetian gondolas and inflatable dinghies. This year residents are being asked to tweet details about floods in their neighbourhoods. The data is then used to issue immediate geographically-specific flood alerts.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 13 May 2022 09:08

Australia: election and climate change

Scott Morrison's government is criticised for its inaction on climate change. When Australia - long considered a climate policy laggard – holds an election on 21 May, the outcome could be significant for the planet's future. Still reliant on coal for most electricity, it is one of the dirtiest countries per capita, making up over 1% of global emissions with only 0.3% of the world's population. It is also a massive supplier of fossil fuels globally; when that is factored in, it accounts for 3.6% of the world's emissions. Australia is most at risk from climate change, having recently suffered severe drought, historic bushfires, successive years of record-breaking floods, and six mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. It is racing towards a future full of similar disasters. Climate policy played a role in toppling three prime ministers in a decade. Most voters want tougher climate action, but some coal towns in swing constituencies are key to winning elections.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 21 April 2022 20:39

Australia: feeding the elderly

One in three nursing homes still spend less than $10 a day per resident on food despite being given an extra $10 a day by the government to improve the standard of meals. A government audit of 2,600 residential aged-care facilities’ spending on food and ingredients for the last six months of 2021 shows average daily food spend per resident is about $12.35. 67% of residential services in the past six months reported an average daily spend on food and ingredients of more than $10 per day. The audit concluded that 2% of nursing homes are still spending an average of less than $6 per day. The aged care services minister said the sector’s performance ‘isn’t good enough’. All providers spending less than $10 per resident per day on food would be referred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to consider regulatory action.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 03 March 2022 22:02

Australia: rain bomb

A storm battering Australia, described as a rain bomb, began flooding the Brisbane area on 27 February and damaged 15,000 properties before moving south. New South Wales river towns were under water the next day, with Wilsons River rising 14.46 metres. A flotilla of private boats rescued residents trapped in flooded homes. Authorities were overwhelmed by the scale of the rescue operation. On 1 March military helicopters airlifted stranded people from rooftops of flooded neighbourhoods in eastern Australia and then the wild weather slowly moved south. By 3 March half a million people across NSW were under evacuation orders. Warragamba Dam west of Sydney was spilling 225 gigalitres a day, which meant that thousands of households and businesses could avoid damaging flooding from the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers north-west of Sydney. Pray for threatened communities to be safe as river levels continue rising. Pray for the 11,747 families who have requested help from military and other rescue services since the crisis began.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 13 January 2022 20:06

Australia: Novak Djokovic visa challenges

Tennis player Novak Djokovic wears a wooden cross and is known for praying during his matches. He received a visa to visit Australia on 18 November and arrived in Melbourne on 5 January with a Covid exemption approved by Tennis Australia's chief medical officer and a Victorian government independent expert panel. Novak belongs to the Serbian Orthodox church and on 7 January (the Orthodox Christmas Day) he was held in detention for an invalid visa while lawyers fought for his freedom. Three days later a judge ruled he could remain in Australia. Djokovic wants to play in the Australian Open, which begins on 17 January: if he won he would become the most successful men's player in history. However, Australia's immigration minister insists his recent Covid infection does not exempt him from vaccine requirements and could still deport him. He admitted that there were mistakes on his immigration forms and that he had met a journalist after testing positive for Covid.

Published in Worldwide

On 25 November prime minister Scott Morrison introduced a controversial Religious Discrimination Bill, which will allow faith-based organisations to prioritise hiring and enrolment of people from their faith. The bill, tabled just months before next year’s election, is seen as an attempt to woo votes from religious citizens, as Mr Morrison is a Pentecostal Christian. When introducing the bill to parliament, he said it would protect those who expressed their religious faith outside the workplace as long as it did not cause financial damage to their employer. ‘People should not be persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s. Australians shouldn’t have to worry about offending an anonymous person on Twitter.’ The bill will be put to vote in the lower house next week, but is unlikely to pass into law before the elections.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 21 October 2021 20:55

Australia: missing four-year-old

On 16 October four-year-old Cleo Smith was camping with her family. During the night she woke up and asked for a drink of water. Ms Smith checked on her other daughter, Isla, who was sleeping separately, then went back to bed. A few hours later she woke up to give Isla a bottle and saw that Cleo had gone. Her red sleeping bag was also missing. It is a very harsh environment, with limited freshwater. If she wandered off and is still in the area, there are grave concerns for her survival. Investigators are now imploring people across Australia to keep their eyes peeled for her, as another scenario is abduction. Marine and sea-based searches, mounted section officers, helicopters, drones and local Aboriginal bush trackers have all been deployed to help locate Cleo. The police are determined for a positive outcome, saying that they are ‘throwing everything’ at the effort.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 30 September 2021 21:51

Australia: is the PM attending COP26?

Australia is the most carbon-polluting nation in the world per capita, yet prime minister Scott Morrison may not attend the November landmark climate conference. He said he had not made any final decisions on attending, saying, ‘I have to focus on things here and with Covid. Australia will be opening up borders around that time. There will be a lot of issues to manage and I have to deal with those competing demands.’ Australia is expected to present its updated 2030 emissions cuts at the conference. It is one of the world's top exporters of coal and gas. Mr Morrison said he wants Australia to achieve net zero emissions ‘as soon as possible’, but he has not outlined any measures to do so and has not committed to net zero by 2050. A UN report ranked Australia last out of 170 member nations for its response to climate change.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 23 September 2021 21:30

Australia: earthquakes and violent protests

One of Australia’s biggest earthquakes on record (magnitude 6.0) struck near Melbourne, damaging buildings. It was felt 500 miles away in Adelaide and Sydney 600 miles to the north. Over half of Australia's 25 million population lives in the southeast in an area from Adelaide to Melbourne to Sydney. Quakes are relatively unusual in this area. The shaking and damage did not stop hundreds of angry demonstrators from holding a protest across Melbourne against a vaccine mandate for construction workers (there are more Covid cases in the construction sector than there are Covid patients in the whole hospital system). Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations before making arrests. Earlier in the day the protesters had marched through the city centre, chanting their opposition to the mandate. See

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 13 May 2021 20:38

Australia: closing the gap for Aborigines

A documentary about a ten-year-old Aboriginal boy's experience in school has reignited the debate about Australia's failure to give indigenous children a good education and a fair start in life. Australia's ‘national shame’ was recognized in 2008, and the government pledged to ‘close the gap’ for indigenous people in terms of life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment. By 2020 most of the seven targets had not been met. Seventeen new targets have now been set, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. Currently young indigenous people are 17 times more likely to be jailed than non-indigenous counterparts (43 times more likely in the Northern Territory). A young indigenous man is more likely to be in prison than university. In Aboriginal town camps there are days with no milk, and children eat breakfast at school. Some nights there is no electricity, so children play I-spy under the stars.

Published in Worldwide
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