David Jones’ new owner makes big changes

Sales at David Jones have soared under its new South African owner, which says it wants to turn the retailer into one of the world’s best.


South Africa’s Woolworths bought David Jones for $2.1 billion in 2014, and after taking control in August has significantly improved its sales performance and delivered an operating profit of $161 million.

David Jones’ last annual profit reported as a publicly listed company was $95 million, in 2012/13.

Sales grew 10.7 per cent in the six months to June, as almost 200 brands were taken off David Jones’ shelves and excess stock was reduced.

The amount of floor space dedicated to Woolworths-owned labels, including Country Road, Witchery and Mimco, was also increased.

Woolworths chief executive Ian Moir said he has big plans for David Jones, including huge improvements in customer service.

“The customer experience has got to be the best in Australia, and as difficult as this sounds we want it to be the best in the world,” he said.

“We’ll be spending a lot of money, achieving that is more important than anything else.”

New stores will also be opened, but with different formats than many customers are used to, such as the recently flagged concept store at Sydney’s new Barangaroo harbourside precinct.

“We see real growth for that business and we see ourselves driving a better relationship with the customer, driving much higher turnover, taking more market share and employing many more people,” Mr Moir said.

Plans to sell the company-owned flagship Market Street store in Sydney’s CBD and Bourke Street store in Melbourne are continuing, with the funds to be used for a major transformation of those sites once they are leased back.

“What we want to do is we want to have bigger businesses, with more on offer, more exciting environments, with a higher turnover than we currently have,” he said.

While the Australian economy appears set for challenging times, the higher income consumers David Jones is targeting are proving resilient, Mr Moir said.


Folau wins second straight Eales Medal

Wallabies fullback Israel Folau has added to an already bulging portfolio of accolades and awards by becoming the first player to win the John Eales Medal in successive years.


NSW Waratahs star Folau polled 138 votes on Thursday evening to beat two flankers, the Brumbies’ David Pocock (113) and NSW’s Michael Hooper (108).

NSW utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper (98) and Western Force back-rower Ben McCalman (95) rounded out the top five.

Folau, only in his third year of playing rugby after time in the NRL and AFL, is just the third player to win the medal twice after flanker George Smith (2002, 2008) and lock Nathan Sharpe (2007, 2012).

The medal is voted for by the Wallabies’ match-day squad on a 3-2-1 basis after each Test match.

The voting period for this year’s medal took in the Tests from the 2014 spring tour to the second Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand earlier this month.

The three-code footballer recently signed a new three-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union and the Waratahs.

Folau received the medal at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse just two days before the Wallabies leave Australia for a Test against the United States in Chicago on September 5, which will be their final hitout before the World Cup starts later that month in Britain.

He also picked up the award for Super Rugby try of the year after being deemed most responsible for Tolu Latu’s match-winning round-six five-pointer against the Brumbies.

Pocock, Hooper and fellow back-rower Sean McMahon were among other winners on the night.

Hooper won Australia’s choice for Wallaby of the year for a third straight year after polling the highest fan vote on the Rugby杭州桑拿会所,杭州桑拿网, website.

Pocock capped off a successful return from back-to-back season-ending knee injuries by winning the Australian Super Rugby player of the year award.

Melbourne Rebels star McMahon followed up his haul of three awards last year by being named Wallabies rookie of the year.

The Waratahs and their coach Michael Cheika were named Australian Super Rugby team and coach of the year respectively after they earned a second straight Australian conference title.

Towering Brumbies lock Rory Arnold was named Australian Super Rugby rookie of the year.

Other winners included Ed Jenkins (men’s sevens player of the year), Sharni Williams (women’s sevens player of the year), Ariana Kaiwai (women’s player of the year) and Queensland flanker Michael Gunn (Australian under-20s player of the year).

Inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame were pre-World War Two hooker John ‘Jock’ Blackwood, post-war halfback Cyril Burke and modern era centre, Tim Horan.

“It’s a huge privilege for me to get this award,” Folau said.

“What’s most rewarding for me is being recognised by my teammates – it’s a huge thing for me.

“I feel pretty lucky to get the award because there’s definitely guys within the squad who I personally think deserve this.”

Asked what parts of his game had improved since his medal win last year, Folau said: “I think probably trying to be a bit more consistent in the way that I’m playing and injecting myself in the game at the right time.

“This season, I haven’t scored as many tries and a lot of people have been talking about I haven’t been playing as good.

“But, for me, I’m really worried about just doing my job and I was really happy with the way things turned out regardless of how many tries I scored this year.

“For me, it’s not about that – it’s about playing consistent rugby and making sure I’m doing my role for the team.”


Stars back but Cotchin out in AFL teams

Lance Franklin, Matthew Pavlich and Jeremy McGovern are key inclusions this weekend but Richmond captain Trent Cotchin is a surprise omission from side to face Essendon.


Cotchin will sit out the must-win match against the Bombers with a back complaint as the Tigers look to keep driving their top-four campaign.

The inspirational skipper will be missing for the first time in two and a half seasons.

With their season on the line, Geelong have recalled Daniel Menzel after an incredible four years out with successive knee injuries.

When Menzel, 23, last played the Cats were two matches from hoisting a premiership cup in 2011, while against Collingwood they’ must win to keep their finals hopes alive.

He told the club’s website he was “feeling every emotion possible”.

“I still am extremely excited but I guess the nerves and everything else will kick in pretty soon too,” he said.

With his AFL future undecided, James Kelly also comes into the Cats side for George Horlin-Smith (omitted) and Josh Caddy (knee).

Collingwood have swapped defenders, with Nathan Brown and Matt Scharenberg included at Jack Frost and Alan Toovey’s expense.

Both North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs have made changes in their potential elimination final preview.

The Dogs have decided Zaine Cordy will make his debut and have recalled Matt Boyd, Jordan Roughead and Liam Picken among six changes.

Assistant coach Brent Montgomery said Cordy, brother to team-mate Ayce, was a “fierce competitor”.

“(With) pretty strong bloodlines with the family, he knows what its all about, he’s hit the ground running since he’s been here,” he told the club’s website.

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has kept Daniel Wells back from a senior return for another week, swapping Jack Ziebell and Taylor Garner for Luke McDonald (sore) and Lindsay Thomas (foot).

In the wake of Luke Hodge’s suspension, Hawthorn have resisted the temptation to rest senior players for their trip to Tasmania to face lowly Brisbane.

Will Langford will play his first match in eight rounds, with David Hale and James Silicy joining him in the 22 at the expense of Ryan Schoenmakers (dropped) and Paul Puopolo (ankle).

A pair of wantaway stars are included for Saturday’s remaining matches, with Chris Yarran recalled amid Carlton’s injury crisis and Charlie Dixon overcoming his ankle woes for Gold Coast.

The table-topping West Australian sides play on Sunday and both have some big inclusions in their extended squads.

Fremantle look set to offset Nat Fyfe by returning Pavlich to face Melbourne, while McGovern has been named by the Eagles to travel to Adelaide.

For Sydney, Franklin could return alongside Tom Mitchell and Gary Rohan against St Kilda.

Swans coach John Longmire said he would give the trio “every chance to prove their fitness”.

They did various things and all what was required of them. The good news is its all looking positive for all three of them at the moment,” he told the club’s website.


Diamonds eye sweep after win in opener

Australia’s netball world champions have set their sights on a series sweep of England after weathering a fourth-quarter fightback to take the opening Test.


Australia triumphed 58-52 in Liverpool in front of a raucous crowd on Wednesday, powering to victory on the back of stellar shooting displays from Caitlin Bassett (20/21) and Caitlin Thwaites (21/25) and a standout performance by goalkeeper Sharni Layton.

Player of the match Layton was a constant menace in defence, finishing with six interceptions and five deflections, and said the team was determined to go undefeated in the best-of-three series which continues with game two in London on Friday (Saturday 0630 AEDT).

“We didn’t come over here just for a fairy match. We definitely want to wrap it up. We don’t want to drop a game,” she said.

“I’m sure they’re going to come out even stronger and hungrier.

“They’re sold out games in London and (the crowd) is going to get right behind them as well.

“I’m expecting a tougher game. We’re really going to have to look at what we did tonight.

“We definitely didn’t have a perfect performance and if we want to stay on top there’s a lot of work we need to do because they’re an extremely strong side.”

Despite showing some cobwebs in their first match of 2016, Australia had the better of the first half, winning each quarter by two goals to open up a 30-26 lead at the major break.

Coach Lisa Alexander tested out several new combinations and made sweeping changes at halftime as the new era of Australian netball begins to take shape following the triple retirements of Kim Green, Rebecca Bulley and Julie Corletto after the World Cup.

England’s swarming defence put pressure on the Diamonds’ midcourt, which produced several uncharacteristic turnovers as combinations took time to gel.

However, the outstanding work of Layton and laser shooting from Thwaites ensured Australia remained on top at halftime.

The introduction of star shooter Bassett for the second half, paired with Natalie Medhurst who had started in the unfamiliar position of wing attack, swung the match further in Australia’s favour.

The pair combined for 15 goals as the tourists stretched their lead to seven at the final change.

Liz Watson, the 21-year-old Melbourne Vixens centre, got her first taste of international netball when introduced for the final quarter, as Alexander continued to tinker with her lineups.

“I think it’s great that Lisa put new combos out there,” Layton said.

“We do have to learn to gel together looking forward over the next four years.

“Those combinations will continue to gel like those old ones have.

“It is nice to have the confidence (of the old combinations) but I’ve got confidence in all the girls with whatever we put out.”


Australian shares open higher despite global market turmoil

The Australian share market has opened higher today.


At 10.10am the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 56.7 points, or 1.17 per cent, at 4,898.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 54.0 points, or 1.10 per cent, at 4,950.9.

On the ASX 24, the share price index was up 48 points at 4,859, with 16,501 contracts traded.

Global markets tumble as oil drops to 13 year low

Global equity markets dropped to their lowest levels in two and a half years on Wednesday to put them on pace for one of the most dismal monthly performances on record, as oil once again tumbled to 13-year lows.

The MSCI World equity index .MIWD00000PUS slumped 3.4 per cent to its lowest level since June 2013. The index has already dropped 11.1 per cent in January, which if sustained would be the worst monthly loss since October 2008, the month after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

The declines left the index down 20.5 per cent from its high on May 22, confirming a bear market on an intraday basis, generally defined as a drop of more than 20 per cent. 

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Wall Street tumbled more than 3 per cent, with each of the 10 major S&P sectors down more than 2 per cent, led lower by a drop of almost 6 perc ent in the energy .SPNY sector. Nearly 200 stocks in the benchmark S&P were down 20 per cent or more from their 52-week high.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 502.56 points, or 3.14 percent, to 15,513.46, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 59.34 points, or 3.15 percent, to 1,821.99 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 126.79 points, or 2.83 percent, to 4,350.16.

There have been steeper monthly drops only three times in the MSCI World index’s 28-year history, two of which occurred during the financial crisis in 2008.

“The damage being done in energy is spreading,” said Brian Fenske, head of sales trading at ITG in New York.

“Just getting up every morning and seeing the S&P futures down 1 to 2 per cent has a near-term psychological impact and puts some investors into risk-off mode,” Fenske said.

U.S. crude plunged to a low of $26.30, its lowest since May 2003 after the International Energy Agency warned the market could “drown in oversupply.” WTI CLc1 was last off 6.6 per cent to $26.59 while Brent crude LCOc1 lost 4.8 per cent, to $27.38.

European shares closed at their lowest level since October 2014, with the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 down 3.3 percent, to notch its biggest single-session decline in six weeks.

France’s CAC .FCHI and Britain’s FTSE .FTSE both tumbled more than 3 per cent for their worst session declines of the year and Germany’s DAX .GDAXI lost 2.8, for its worst daily drop since the first trading day of 2016.

Another key commodity, copper CMCU3, slipped 1.1 per cent, driving falls of 5.2 and 5.1 per cent respectively in Europe’s basic resources .SXPP and energy .SXEP sectors.

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Oil shares in Europe are down more than 14 perc ent already this year and at their lowest levels since March 2003. That has been a major weight on the FTSEurofirst 300, which is down nearly 12 per cent in 2016 and more than 23 per cent from its high in April.

The Nikkei share average .N225 shed 3.7 per cent to its lowest close since Oct. 24, 2014.

The safe-haven yen JPY= climbed as risk appetite soured, dragging the dollar to a one-year low, as investors trimmed the chances of more tightening by the Federal Reserve. The U.S. currency was down 1 per cent at 116.44 yen after hitting a session low of 115.96 yen.

While the dollar fell against the yen, it was strong against emerging market currencies, compounding the misery for many countries already suffering from low oil prices.

Demand for U.S. bonds, another asset sought in times of uncertainty, was high, with yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR down to 1.9477 per cent, after falling as low as 1.93 per cent, up 25/32 in price.


Drug firms ask for help in superbug fight

More than 80 international drug and biotech firms have urged governments to work with them to combat drug-resistant superbugs which could kill tens of millions of people within decades unless progress is made and new antibiotics found.


In a declaration at the World Economic Forum in Davos, they called for co-ordinated efforts to cut unnecessary use of antibiotics and support development of new ones, including through changing drug prices and investing in research.

The 83 pharmaceutical companies and eight industry groups urged governments around the world to commit money “to provide appropriate incentives…for companies to invest in R&D to overcome the formidable technical and scientific challenges of antibiotic discovery and development”.

Any use of antibiotics promotes the development and spread of so-called superbugs – drug-resistant infections that can evade the medicines designed to kill them.

International alarm about the superbug threat is rising after the discovery in China of a gene called mcr-1 that makes bacteria resistant to all known antibiotics.

“For the world to continue to have new antibiotics, we need investments in basic science and novel incentive models for industry R&D, and to protect our existing treatments we need new frameworks for appropriate use,” said Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson.

Former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill was asked in 2014 by Britain’s prime minister to conduct a full review of the problem and suggest ways to combat it.

In his initial report, he estimated antibiotic and microbial resistance could kill an extra 10 million people a year and cost up to $100 trillion by 2050.

While the problem of infectious bugs becoming drug-resistant has been known since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, it has grown as drugmakers have cut back investment in the field.

In their Davos declaration, the companies pledged to encourage more appropriate use of new and existing antibiotics, including more judicious use of the drugs in livestock.

They also promised to increase investment in R&D and work to ensure affordable access to antibiotics.

Britain’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, said the declaration was “a clear sign of industry’s collective commitment to beating the threat of antimicrobial resistance”.


Defence ministers discuss anti-IS strategy

Defence Minister Marise Payne says coalition nations fighting Islamic State must capitalise on recent battlefield gains by ensuring stability in areas won back from militants.


Defence chiefs from coalition partners including the US, Australia, Britain and France have pledged at a meeting in Paris to boost coordinated efforts in combating Islamic State.

The talks focused on the military strategy of the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, and ensuring partners “coordinate and collaborate on that strategy”, Senator Payne said in Paris.

“We know that as we make gains in places such as Ramadi we must ensure that stabilisation continues after those gains and that we support local communities in re-establishing themselves and engaging in their own country.”

Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air support, were able to wrest back control of the western Iraqi city last month.

In Washington earlier this week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the militant group’s use of technology and social media was “very sophisticated and agile” and required a more rapid response.

Senator Payne said the talks in Paris pursued the issue further.

“I think this is an international question, not just a question for Australia, and very much has been part of our discussion today that this is a multi-faceted activity,” she said.

“It’s more than just a military campaign. It requires engagement in the modern battle platform, if you like, and that includes social media.”

In a joint statement, the defence ministers re-committed to working with the US-led coalition “to accelerate and intensify the campaign” against Islamic State.

“We agreed that we all must do more,” US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter told reporters after the talks, which involved the “core” military coalition members, including Germany, Italy, Australia and The Netherlands.

Australia has 780 defence personnel deployed in the Middle East providing training and air support and is the second largest contributor in Iraq after the US.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Islamic State was in retreat but that “it’s now time to increase our collective effort by putting in place a coherent military strategy”.

A meeting of defence ministers from all 26 military members of the international coalition against Islamic State will be held next month.


Doctors Think Teenagers Should Be Screened Annually for Depression

Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that kids and young adults ages 11 to 21 be screened annually for depression, a nod to the notion that, yes, mental health is an integral part of a kid’s overall well-being.



The recommendation comes after a series of sobering studies on mental health and young people. In 2013, for example, suicide was the leading cause of death after “unintentional injury” (accidents, in other words) for those ages 15 to 34. The reasons for the increase aren’t clear, though some recently have pointed to increasing amounts of parental and societal pressure to do well in school. Regardless, in 2013, the American Psychological Association conducted a survey that found one in three young adults reported symptoms of depression, an illness that can of course lead to suicidal thoughts.

So doctors are hoping that the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” way of thinking will play out in this instance. But there’s a catch. Methods of screening for childhood depression — which often consist of interviews with kids and their parents along with the use of tempered-down adult depression tests — have faced criticism for being inaccurate, often misdiagnosing what turns out to be anxiety. The AAP has released its mental-health screening suggestions with a variety of options for young adults, but critics argue that false positives — that is, people diagnosed as depressed when they are actually not — is a real, potentially dangerous issue.  

The AAP has attempted to create screening guidelines and a step-by-step evaluation method to separate cases of depression among this age group from other mental-health issues that might be affecting the patient to combat this criticism. But the troubling part for many observers and critics isn’t just the messiness of screening and figuring out if a kid is clinically depressed or having a different mental-health issue. It’s also the antidepressants, which bring some potentially deadly side effects. (Though, on the other hand, when the FDA warned people of this side effect, researchers found that teenage suicide rates actually spiked when antidepressant use was curbed.)

The complicated conclusion is this: While the AAP recognizes there is a troubling pattern of suicide among teenagers and young adults, there isn’t a surefire way to diagnose depression. Still, this is a first step toward recognizing the important role of mental health in the overall health of an individual. As the AAP notes in a press release, “Feelings need checkups, too.”


Hug it out bro: the importance of World Hug Day

Hugging – we have a love hate relationship with the warm fuzzy embrace.


Being wrapped around our colleagues makes us feel awkward, but cuddling our partners, friends and family usually gives us a feeling of love and a sense of protection.

Today is World Hug Day, celebrated by a handful of countries every year and its time Australia, the nation that gave birth to the free hugs movement, got in on the big bear hug too.

Here’s why …

The feel good factor

We’re hard wired to share and benefit from physical contact with each other, it makes us feel happier and healthier when we hug, squeeze or pat each other because touch “lights up the reward centre in the central nervous systems,” says Sabine Read, a registered psychologist and social commentator for radio station 3AW.

“Even a warm handshake, a pat on the back, or lying close to mate on the couch can help contribute to improving our emotional and physical well-being.”

Hugging ­means less trips to the doctor

Hugging definitely helps us feel good but according to researchers in the Untied States it does more than that – hugging reduces the chances of us getting sick.

You wouldn’t be alone if you thought hugging to prevent illness sounded illogical. But a study that saw 404 volunteers infected with the common cold found that those who were hugged more were less likely to become ill because they were less stressed.

Embracing increases life expectancy

In Sweden, studies even showed that people had a better chance of living longer and links between a healthier lifestyle – less smoking and drinking –  if they increased the amount of physical contact with others.

If hugging is so beneficial – what stops us from doing it more often?

A lack of touch and hugging also leads to sadness, loneliness and depression. So why aren’t we squeezing each other to death. “Fear, rejection, hurt, family of origin influences and cultural benefits” are all reasons why we avoid hugging. Read says that it’s “important to explore these barriers that prevent us from touching each other.

“Most of us can benefit from learning how to ask for the touch we desire. Often relationship difficulties are correlated with a lack of touch,” says Read who often works with couples and families and sees the sadness and loneliness that arises through lack of touch.

Babies need lots of hugs too

Not only adult’s benefit, hugging is important to babies’ early development. Sharon Daniels, a Cairns based psychologist said: “There has been much research on orphans who were not hugged as babies, they often have problems with thriving, in addition to emotional issues later in life.

“Where children have difficulty forming attachment to other people, they often have difficulty bonding with their own children,” says Daniels. Sabina Read added that frequent and loving touch reassures babies. But importantly “it has also been associated with improved sleep and greater social development in infants”.

We need to hug lots of different people

Everyone profits from hugging in fact. Both the initiator and the recipient get much more than just a warm fuzzy feeling out of the two handed embrace. And everyone should hug everyone, as a diversity of huggers – yes that means colleagues too – is the best way to wreak the benefits.  “I think we do with more hugging,” says Daniels, “although we need to be mindful of when it is appropriate and when it is not”.

“World Hug Day may sound corny, but in a world where fear, pain, hurt, anger and disconnect surround us, I like the idea that World Hug Day may serve as a reminder of the pleasure and important of touch for each and every one of us,” says Read.

So why should we limit our embraces to one day – get hugging Australia.


Family fundraising for mother’s Russian MS treatment

Diagnosed more than 17 years ago, Ms Moore’s condition has deteriorated to a point where her speech, vision and mobility are severely affected.


Her family are pinning their hopes on a controversial treatment called haematopoietic stem cell transplant treatment (HSCT) – where bone marrow is injected with a patient’s own stem cells to “reboot” the immune system.

Clinical trials at a British hospital have shown promising results in patients with the most common form of the disease – called relapsing and remitting MS.

However, the results are preliminary, and the effectiveness of the treatment on people with the progressive form of the disease, which Ms Moore has, remains unclear.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has previously warned against what it calls “stem cell tourism” in a warning on its website about the risks of unproven treatments.

However, the Moore family says they have exhausted all other options.

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Ms Moore is slated to begin the treatment at Russia’s A.A. Maximov centre in April, and her daughter Rebecca said the family is ready to “try absolutely anything”.

“If you live with mum day-to-day, you would to see to the extent that she’s affected,” she said.

“The main things [affected] is her speech… she has the words in her brain but can’t physically get them out.

“It’s extremely difficult. I was six years old when she was diagnosed so I’ve never really known it to be any different.

“It’s really hard watching your mum go through that… you would obviously do absolutely anything to take it all away.”

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About 20 patients received bone marrow transplants using their own stem cells in a clinical trial at Britain’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Some patients who were paralysed have been able to walk again.

Professor Basil Sharrack, from the hospital, told the BBC Panorama program: “To have a treatment which can potentially reverse disability is really a major achievement”.

Professor of stem cell sciences at the University of Melbourne, Dr Martin Pera, said the treatment uses chemotherapy, which is more aggressive than other treatments available.

“There are clinics offering this treatment outside of a trial setting, at considerable cost and obviously patients who are suffering will look for answers,” he said.

“But really until we have carefully conducted trials that look in a very careful way at the outcomes of this treatment will we know whether its any good.

“This is not like taking an asprin or a valium. These are toxic drugs with a number of side-effects. Certainly its not a treatment you would undergo unless you had very strong indications that it would actually do some good.”

The Moore family are fundraising to pay for Mary’s treatment.


Nose spray relieves childbirth pain: study

Women may soon be able to use a nasal spray for pain relief during childbirth following successful trials by an Australian midwifery researcher.


The nasal spray analgesic drug, fentanyl, was shown to be just as effective in relieving labour pain and have fewer side effects than pethidine injections, which are commonly used.

Fentanyl nasal spray is commonly used for pain relief in children and in patients being transferred by ambulance.

As a result of the Flinders University and the University of Adelaide study involving 156 women, fentanyl is expected to be offered as an alternative medication in South Australian maternity hospitals this year.

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“Women can self-administer a controlled dose using the nasal spray, under a midwife’s supervision, which helps them feel more in control of their pain management and avoids the need for additional intervention and painful injections,” said lead researcher Dr Julie Fleet.

Fentanyl resulted in less nausea and sedation, shorter labour, fewer babies admitted to the nursery, fewer breastfeeding difficulties and greater satisfaction, she said.

“Fentanyl administered by the nasal spray doesn’t completely eliminate pain – as it can when administered as an epidural, which blocks all sensation – so it is suited to women who still want to be able to feel something,” Dr Fleet said.

“It’s also good for women who might not be able to have an epidural due to conditions such as pre-eclampsia.”

Pethidine and fentanyl are opioids, which cross from the mother to the baby.

But when pethidine is processed by the body it’s converted into another active drug and remains in the baby’s body for three or more days, potentially causing breathing trouble, drowsiness and irritability.

“Because fentanyl is not converted in the same way and is out of the system within two to seven hours, it has less chance of producing negative effects on the baby.”

Dr Fleet is now examining whether the nasal spray will also reduce the need for epidurals.


Govt will seek mandate before tax change

The Turnbull government has yet to decide whether it will pursue a hike in the GST but any change will be put to voters at the next election, a senior Liberal insists.


Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the government is focused on making the tax system more growth-friendly in order to steer the economy away from resource driven growth.

The government had not made a decision about changes to the tax system or the GST but would get a mandate from voters at this year’s federal election, Senator Cormann told ABC radio on Thursday.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill appeared to take a swipe at Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s opposition to changing the GST.

There was a “massive and undeniable revenue problem” threatening school and hospital services, as well as the federal budget.

“Both major parties at a national level must front up to the fact that we need to find additional revenue,” Mr Weatherill told The Australian.

Labor backbencher Nick Champion told Sky News he was “stunned” any Labor premier would support a change to the GST.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge said Mr Weatherill showed “what a small person” Mr Shorten was.

Mr Shorten said he didn’t blame state politicians, who were facing a “fiscal cliff” because of the federal government’s cuts to schools and hospitals.

“I understand that they’ve effectively been taken hostage by the massive cuts that the Abbott-Turnbull governments are imposing on schools and hospitals,” he told reporters in Darwin.

A 15 per cent GST would not only mean higher living costs but would kill consumer confidence and force small businesses to lay off workers.

“It’s a rotten idea and it should be put in the dust bin of history and that’s where Labor is going to put it.”


Should women exercise during and after pregnancy?

Nigel Stepto, Victoria University and Cheryce Harrison, Monash University

Michelle Bridges was this week branded “irresponsible” and accused of providing a “poor message” to new mums following an Instagram post of her workout one month after giving birth.


The workout boasts 56 minutes of exercise – 32 minutes of jogging and 24 minutes of walking in intervals. Prefaced with the self-recognition of an experienced trainer, it was therefore advised that women “dial down” the duration to “15-20 minutes of total work”.

Young women of reproductive age are a high-risk group for sedentary behaviour. They also face increased barriers to physical activity including family and work commitments. So it’s commendable to advocate for women to be physically active after giving birth.

However, exercise prescription in a public forum is not individualised or tailored to medical, physiological and musculoskeletal variations that exist during pregnancy and after giving birth.

While it’s important women are encouraged to be physically active during this time, it’s important to consider the type, frequency, intensity and duration of physical activity. This should always be done in conjunction with a health-care professional based on your individual fitness, health and your pregnancy.

Fairfax media reported new mums are generally advised against running for three months after birth. However, this doesn’t seem to be backed up by evidence, at least for a normal uncomplicated pregnancy. This recommendation is more appropriate where surgical interventions have been needed or musculoskeletal injury occurred during pregnancy and/or child birth.

related readingExercise during pregnancy

In the absence of specific national recommendations for pregnancy and after giving birth, otherwise healthy women are advised to follow national physical activity recommendations for Australian adults. This includes accumulating 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

Any activities or exercise undertaken at this time should be at a pace that is comfortable for you, not cause you to overbalance or place extreme forces or pressure on any of your joints.

Usual exercise routines will require higher-than-normal efforts to complete. As such, these should be altered to a lighter intensity based on how you feel. Be aware that your body will be changing shape and physiology as it adapts to your pregnancy.

For women used to running, we would recommend progressing to moderate to light jogging or brisk walking. Weight lifters could perhaps consider modifying their exercise programs to incorporate aerobic-style activities of light to moderate intensity with less weight-bearing exercise. Specialised yoga and pilates classes for pregnancy are also widely available.

The aim is to maintain or improve fitness to cope with pregnancy, not train for competition. The most important thing is that you are aware of warning signs that indicate you should stop exercising. These include vaginal bleeding, regular painful contractions, amniotic fluid leakage, breathlessness before exertion, dizziness, chest pain, muscle weakness affecting balance and calf pain or swelling.

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These recommendations do not apply to pregnant women who have heart or lung disease, incompetent cervix (weak cervical tissue leading to premature birth), are pregnant with twins or triplets with risk of premature labour, persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding, placenta previa (where the placenta is in the wrong place) after 26 weeks gestation and pre-eclampsia, where exercise and physical activity should be avoided unless under strict medical supervision.

With a safe upper level of exercise intensity during pregnancy yet to be established, an activity that can be easily quantified to monitor the intensity and exertion is recommended, specifically sticking to moderate levels of exertion.

We recommend gauging exercise intensity using a rating of perceived exertion scales. Women might aim to reach exertion levels of 13-14 on a scale of 6 to 20, where 7 is very very light, 11 is fairly light, 13 is somewhat hard, 15 is hard and 19 very very hard. Examples of safe exercise activities to start or maintain during pregnancy include:

• walking

• swimming

• aqua-aerobics

• stationary cycling

• low-impact aerobics

• modified Yoga

• modified Pilates

• running and jogging (after consultation with health-care team)

• modified strength training.

There is little evidence to suggest regular moderate intensity exercise throughout pregnancy is detrimental to the baby’s development or birth weight, or that it increases the risk of preterm birth, or raises maternal body temperature sufficiently to impose risk.

In normal pregnancies, and when physical activity is at recommended levels, there is general agreement the benefits of exercise far outweigh any risks. Contact or high-risk sports should obviously be restricted.

Despite the recommendations and minimal risk, pregnancy is usually associated with decreased levels of activity. Concerns about safety and potential adverse effects on the developing baby, as well as changing body shape, tiredness and time constraints are the most common barriers for women during pregnancy.

Exercising during pregnancy, however, has many benefits. These include decreased likelihood of gaining weight, gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders such as pre-eclampsia, and of needing medical interventions during birth, including caesarean sections.

Exercising after giving birth

Latest guidelines suggest physical activity can be resumed gradually after giving birth as soon as is medically safe, depending on the mode of delivery, and in the absence of other health issues.

Depending on each woman’s personal circumstances, even after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, there will be a need for rest and recovery. This physically demanding experience is associated with significant hormonal changes required to return the uterus to its pre-pregnant state while switching on milk production to sustain the newborn baby.

Return to exercise should be gradual and in conjunction with a health-care professional. Within hours or days of the delivery, this may mean starting to walk in short bouts (three to five minutes) a few times a day, gradually building up to longer and harder sessions of 20-30 minutes.

Alongside a resumption in exercise, women should regularly practise pelvic floor exercises. Returning to pre-pregnancy exercise regimens or sporting activities should be a gradual process of reconditioning yourself in small increments over weeks and months depending on your personal circumstances.

In the absence of complications, resumption of moderate activity has not been associated with any adverse effects. No negative impact has been found on breast milk composition and volume, provided adequate food and fluid intake is maintained, or on infant development.

On the plus side, exercise has been shown to help prevent weight gain in the period after giving birth, and may promote modest weight loss (around 1.5 kg). It has also been found to reduce the severity of postnatal depression by 50-60% – irrespective of the exercise intensity (light/moderate/vigorous), and especially when undertaken in group environments.

Women wishing to start or maintain exercise routines during and after pregnancy are recommended to seek advice from their health-care team including an obstetrician, gynaecologist, midwife, general practitioner, or accredited exercise physiologist.

Nigel Stepto is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist affiliated with Exercise and Sport Science Australia, He also has received funding from NHMRC.

Cheryce Harrison is a National Heart Foundation Research Fellow (100168).