Is work giving you a pain in the back?

A significant number of Australians are required to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time due to their work requirements.

Regardless of your posture or position throughout the day, any sustained position can contribute to common musculoskeletal complaints including neck pain and back pain, muscle strain, stiffness, and headaches.

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African memoires

By Jacobus Vorster

Natal, 1975: I was born in the peaceful halls of Addington hospital – a former war sanctuary situated on the northern beaches of Durban, South Africa. The city exhibits an array of diverse cultures and fabulous architecture that date back to the British colonial 1800s, when people searched for fortune and adventure to tame Mother Africa. This story, however, begins at a moment when a young Jacobus trekked 265 kilometres northeast with his parents, to the ‘Kingdom of the Zulu’. 

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Meet CQUni alumnus Shirley Boon

As The Big Issue’s newly appointed National Operations and Events Support Coordinator, CQUni alumnus Shirley Boon is passionate about creating meaningful opportunities for women. She plays a pivotal role in the coordination of the Women’s Subscription Enterprise, which provides job opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantage women through the sale of The Big Issue magazine subscriptions.

Shirley shares her thoughts on how we can create a more gender-balanced world, as part of this year’s International Women’s Day. #BalanceforBetter

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Meet CQUni alumnus Jade Collins

Jade Collins is an innovator and gender-equality advocate and has recently been awarded CQUniversity’s 2019 Alumnus of the Year – Social Impact. She’s the co-creator of Femeconomy, which mobilises the female economy, empowering consumers to buy from brands that are gender-diverse.

We talked to Jade about how she got to this point in her career and her thoughts on this year’s International Women’s Day theme #BalanceforBetter.

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Bear facts – 11 things you should know

Perceptions of Brown Bears (Ursus arctos), or “grizzlies,” are often driven by what people see on television or in movies, but in many cases that is a long way from reality. Although some wild animals can cause serious harm, they are more likely to run the other way providing people allow them the respect they deserve. The following eleven bear facts highlight some unique characteristics to remember before heading out into ‘Bear Country.’

1. Bear Behaviour Is Unique To Each Individual

Like people, bears have unique individual characters and an awareness of personal space. The diversity in a bear’s response to encroachment on its critical space makes each encounter different. The essential space of a bear is the area around it that it may defend, and it is vital to adhere to safe distances. A safe distance is one that causes no change to the bears’ behaviour or disturbance in its activity, and it will differ in each situation. In very general terms, a relaxed bear is one that doesn’t pay much attention to you, but it is important to know signs of stress to understand when to back off. Signals to be aware of may include yawning, salivating, jaw popping, head down with a direct focus, mouth open, a potential bluff charge and ultimately an actual charge. In each situation, it is essential to be aware of the surrounds and subtle cues to avoid escalation.

2. There Is A Pecking Order

There is not a ‘bear pack’ as such, but there is order within a bear population. Based on age, size and temperament bears live in a complex dominance hierarchy with adult males at the top and sub-adults and cubs at the bottom. Social position in this hierarchy is determined and kept through aggressive behaviour while trying to avoid physical altercations.

3. Bears Can Co-Exist

Although some individuals avoid other bears in their home range, many bears can co-exist near each other. Adult males may stay away from others to avoid conflict, adult females with cubs will avoid adult males to limit any threat to their young and sub-adults may group for safety in numbers. Bears in a region may know one another and, like people, some bears like each other and some do not get along within their home ranges.

4. Bears Do Not Have Territories

Bears share home ranges with other bears and are not territorial. They will not keep other members of their species away from their range, and this mutual use of resources and surrounding land is a foundation for social behaviour within the species.

Brown Bear Sleeping

5. They Are Most Active During the Day

Usually, bears are active from morning to the evening but may be seen anytime during the day or night. Avoidance of humans can lead to bears becoming more active at night. After denning, some coastal bears head to estuaries to graze on sedge and other plants and mussels and gunnel fish within the intertidal zones. During this period, they may be feeding up to fifteen hours a day or more to maintain condition.

6. Bears Are Extremely Curious

Bears have good eyesight, excellent hearing and a very keen sense of smell. They will use these heightened senses to examine objects, listen for noises and follow odours to assess whether they can eat or play with it. Standing up on their back legs is a result of curiosity and investigation.

7. They Are Sensitive To Changes In Their Environment

The introduction of new things to their habitat or changes in conditions may unsettle bears. Bears can be described as neophilic, as they can be attracted to a novel item or scent. A strange, additional item in the area may provoke curiosity with some element of risk assessment determining if the bear will investigate or not. This is often not an act of aggression and more an indication of how sensitive they are to their surrounding environment.

8. Bears Are Easily Distracted

Despite all the benefits of their heightened senses and their curious nature, bears can sometimes be oblivious to what is going on around them. A bear using a trail may have its head down following a scent, preoccupied with food or ambient sounds, such as a flowing river that may drown out other noises. It is possible in these circumstances for a bear to have a surprise encounter with a person. In these cases, it is advised for hikers and the like to make some noise while out in the forest, periodically calling out softly to let unsuspecting bears know people are around and give them a chance to avoid the encounter altogether.

Check out more great videos on Colin’s YouTube channel here.

9. Bears Are Extremely Intelligent

Bears have a keen awareness of their environment, they learn from encounters with people and are extremely intelligent. Increased vigilance behaviour by a feeding bear, while people are around, can have a negative impact. A bear that is being disturbed by people and continually looking up is losing crucial feeding time, which can impact on long-term survival. It is not just a single disturbance, it is the cumulative effects of repeated disturbances that influence behaviour. So, keeping a safe distance will increase the chances of a bear going about its business comfortably.

10. Bears Are Not Vicious

Bears are shy animals and will usually choose to avoid people. A primary reason they will be around humans is if they are forced to due to the location of food. This may occur in response to encroachment by industry, habitat loss, or by people hiking near a desired food source during various times of the year. It is important to remember that bears will actively protect crucial food sources and a mother with cubs will always be highly alert to her surrounds.

11. All Wild Animals Must Be Respected

The response from a bear during any encounter with people is usually at the expense of the bear. Bears are always on the lookout for their preferred foods which may include sedge, berries, and salmon or other forms of protein. Feeding bears can lead to them becoming food-conditioned to people, which may be good for people but at great detriment to the bears. This may bring them closer to people, putting them at higher risk of a close encounter that results in them being killed by humans.

Colin Rossiter is currently studying a Master of Applied Science (Wildlife ecology) at CQUniversity. He is part of a research team studying brown (grizzly) bears at Knight Inlet Lodge in the Glendale Cove region of BC, Canada. This blog post first appeared in Wild Ark. You can read Colin’s blog and see more photos and video here.

Podiatry student shares how dyslexia gave her a different spin on life

My name is Madelaine Parker, I was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and this is my personal journey with dyslexia and how I gained university entrance. In my first year of school teachers noticed I was often disengaged and was unable to understand basic classroom content. It became evident, because of this, that I had an underlying learning disability.

By the age of eight, I knew that I was struggling with my school work and this hindered my overall confidence. Within the same year, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Although accommodations were made, the schooling curriculum was very scheduled, rigid and did not offer much flexibility for my learning needs. This caused a large amount of emotional and mental stress growing up. However, these struggles at school, in combination with my highly competitive and motivated nature, lead me to my fourteen-year figure skating career.

“…teachers told my parents that due to my dyslexia I would be unable to complete high school…”

As high school commenced teachers told my parents that due to my dyslexia I would be unable to complete high school too and obtain university entrance. Shortly after this, my school and home were all destroyed in the Christchurch earthquakes. In order to maintain a sense of normality, my family and I moved to Sydney where I continued my figure skating career and attended The Corresponded School of New Zealand.

Maddie was about to see her Olympic dreams become reality when she sustained a life changing injury.

To the disbelief of my high school teachers I graduated but just missed out on university entrance. This did not concern me as I was preparing to move to Canada in preparation for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. 

During my preparation for the Olympic Games, I sustained an injury to my hip. This resulted in eight operations and total pelvic reconstruction. During this time, I retired from skating, moved back to Sydney and lost my sense of purpose. I completed my Certificate III and IV in Fitness, however, I wanted more for myself.

It was through my own research and sporting career that I decided to study podiatry. I reached out to my sports podiatrist, Trent Salkavich, who informed me that CQUniversity had started a Podiatry program.  

I was informed that the University offered a pathways program called STEPS. STEPS is a completely government-funded program that transformed my life and I now have a new direction and sense of purpose.

Completing STEPS and my first year in my degree with CQUniversity was without a doubt one of my biggest achievements to date. I feel the lecturers, and all other management involved, want me to succeed and achieve my goals. I feel they are all rooting for me. In the future, I would love to work in paediatric podiatrist care or with elite level athletes.

I am an example of making the impossible possible and through dedication, planning and utilizing the university’s support systems I am making my dreams a reality. I could not speak more highly of the STEPS course and the opportunities it has opened up for me. I don’t know where I would be without it.

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