Morning mail: vaccination plan, medal blitz, stolen generation payouts

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters

Good morning. A bold new plan for Australia to hit its vaccination targets, the gold medal blitz continues in Tokyo, and recompense for the stolen generations – these stories and more in Thursday’s morning mail.

Dentists, speech pathologists and podiatrists could be pressed into relieving a “fatigued and burnt out” vaccination workforce under a proposal put forward by the government’s Covid taskforce chief. Flagging “workforce constraints” as a major impediment to Australia’s chances of reaching an 80% vaccination target by the end of the year, Lt Gen John Frewen suggested that other health workers could help administer vaccines, with health students another ready alternative. The Delta variant now spreading throughout Sydney is becoming “an epidemic of younger people”, a leading epidemiologist has warned. Prof Greg Dore says “a large proportion in their 20s and 30s” are becoming hospitalised during this coronavirus wave due to the higher vaccination rate among older Australians. Meanwhile, Aboriginal health organisations have expressed concerns that a lack of data is covering over “big gaps” in vaccination rates in regional communities, and frontline health workers have raised errors with the Australian immunisation register.

Australia has collected its 15th gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics, with Matthew Belcher and William Ryan winning the men’s 470 class event in the sailing. The men’s pursuit team claimed bronze in cycling after a calamitous crash by New Zealand, with Kareena Lee also picking up bronze in the women’s 10km marathon swim. The 800m runner Peter Bol came agonisingly close to securing the track and field team’s first medal of the meet, only to be run down over the final stages.

Members of the stolen generations could receive payouts worth $378.6m under a new redress scheme announced by the Morrison government. Living members removed from their families as children will receive one-off payments of $75,000, as well as an additional $7,000 “healing assistance payment”, as part of the Closing the Gap initiative. The prime minister is expected to announce further funding connected to the initiative today, including $254.4m for Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, and an additional $160m for childcare and early education.

Australia

A newborn baby&#39;s feet
The number of babies born to older mothers has been increasing over time, data published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows. Photograph: Simon Dannhauer/Alamy

The average maternal age of Australian women has risen from 27.1 to 30.8 over the past four decades, with one-in-four now giving birth aged 35 or over. The number of babies born to women 35 or over has also almost doubled in the past two decades.

The NSW government’s plan to have year 12 students back to in-classroom teaching by 16 August appears unlikely to proceed, with Gladys Berejiklian flagging a rethink. HSC exams scheduled for October will still take place.

The Sky News presenter Sharri Markson has called YouTube’s one-week suspension of Sky News Australia “the most extreme cancellation of free speech imaginable”. The broadcaster reportedly violated the platform’s Covid medical misinformation policy.

The world

A California wildfire
The Dixie fire jumps Highway 89 north of Greenville in Plumas county, California. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

Hot, dry weather has fuelled the explosion of California wildfires once again, with one fire in the state’s north growing to more than 1,000 sq km, prompting the evacuation of an additional 15,000 residents.

The Taliban have targeted Afghanistan’s acting defence minister with a suicide bomb and gunfire attack inside Kabul’s high-security Green Zone. The minister was unharmed but eight others were killed in the attack.

At least 16 people on their way to a wedding in Bangladesh have been killed by lightning. The group were caught in a thunderstorm shortly after disembarking from a boat. More than 200 people are killed each year by lightning during the country’s monsoon season.

Previously unseen footage of John F Kennedy from 1963 has emerged in Ireland. The president is seen riding in an open sedan car, waving to cheering crowds – in scenes eerily similar to his assassination months later.

Recommended reads

By her own admission, Angela Christodoulou likes to be busy. So when the veteran of four decades of juggling multiple jobs and managing retail stores finally hit a downturn, she turned to koalas. “For as long as I can remember I’ve always been befriending animals. As a young kid I used to pick up lizard eggs and hatch them and find penny turtles in various creeks around Brisbane.” But since finding Napoleon, in 2015, the now 57-year-old went on a spree, rescuing 337 koalas, as well as founding the Queensland Koala Society and planting more than 300 eucalyptus trees at her specialised rehabilitation centre.

For the first time in a year, the value of new housing loans in Australia has declined. So is this the end of the run? Greg Jericho quashes such talk. “Oh you sweet naive thing. Of course not! We’re talking about the Australian housing market here – nothing will prevent its lunacy from continuing!” And with investor spend nearing the record high-water mark of 2015, house prices appear set to continue rising. In fact, by the year’s end they could be as much as 30% above what they were a year ago.

This week’s guest curator of the 10 funniest things on the internet is Guardian Australia’s very own Naaman Zhou. If you’re looking for genuine enchantment or to find out Olivier Giroud’s childhood fears, then you’ve stopped at the right stable.

Listen

With data suggesting only one in four aged care workers are fully vaccinated, many in the sector have claimed government plans for vaccination rollout were beset by shortcomings. On this episode of Full Story, the Guardian Australia reporter Chris Knaus explores what went wrong.

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.

Sport

Australia v Germany, Olympics basketball
The Boomers play Germany in Tokyo. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP

When the Boomers take on Team USA for an Olympic medal it will be a squad of players made in Canberra. And from a program launched in 1981 with “21 athletes and no basketballs”, Australia’s dominance in Tokyo has been a long time coming, Kieran Pender writes.

England have made a scratchy start in the first Test against India at Trent Bridge, squandering a solid start to be all out for 183. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami were the chief tormenters for India, with 4/46 and 3/28 respectively.

Media roundup

The head of the national Covid taskforce is developing a Plan B to target “the hesitant”, the Australian writes. Lt Gen John Frewen also said the time for incentives was “not now”, as “Australians are turning up” to be vaccinated. Frustrated pharmacists are waiting up to two weeks for vaccine deliveries, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, with only one in four pharmacists rolling out AstraZeneca vaccines due to slow supply. And a unanimous ruling by the high court has bolstered business’ ability to define employment by contract, the Financial Review reports, reversing a previous decision that left certain employers liable to $39bn worth of backpay claims.

Coming up

The national disability insurance scheme minister, Linda Reynolds, will appear at a hearing of the inquiry into NDIS independent assessments.

The Grattan Institute will hold a webinar titled “Modelling the spread of Covid in a reopened Australia”.

And if you’ve read this far …

It’s a trigonometric sequence reminiscent of Pythagoras. Except that it precedes the “father of geometry” by about 1,000 years. That’s the startling discovery by an Australian mathematician, who may have inadvertently challenged much of what we claim to know while examining a 3,700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet.

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