By Asghar Zaidi, University of Southampton

It’s no secret that the global population is ageing.


We’re living longer than ever and are healthier until much later in life. But we’re still struggling to adapt to this changing demographic – and some are struggling more than most.

So if we are going to get old, where should we do it? Which country in the world will take the best care of us? Which country pays the closest attention to the needs of older people and makes the best use of their skills?

The ageing population is the outcome of extraordinary developments in technology, medicine and public hygiene. Equally important are changes to our lifestyles. More of us are eating better and regular exercise is now a fundamental part of many people’s lives.

But until relatively recently, our understanding of the capacities and vulnerabilities of people in older age has been tied to pre-industrial preconceptions about ageing. In the eyes of many people older people are still a burden rather than a resource.

The increasing availability of data on old age is changing this though. A good example is the Global AgeWatch Index, produced by HelpAge International. This provides credible comparative information on the wellbeing and quality of life of older people across the globe. The evidence generated by the index has helped us identify what makes it possible for older people to fare better.

Head north

The latest index tells us that the best place to grow old is Norway. Here, you will be among the richest pensioners in the world and will enjoy a supportive, age friendly environment. Or, if that doesn’t take your fancy, Sweden, Switzerland and Canada are other good options. These countries are particularly good at offering quality health and social care systems and provide better access to employment for their older citizens than other countries.

The values of the Global AgeWatch Index provide a measure of the potential that each country has to match the best-performing country in the sample. For example, Sri Lanka’s overall index value of 51.7 means that older people’s well-being in Sri Lanka is 51.7% of the best performing state (100), giving it a shortfall of 48.3 percentage points below the best performing country, Norway.

It includes information in four areas to give a fuller picture of how well cared for older people are. It measures health status by looking at life expectancy at age 60 and the psychological well-being of older people. It takes into account income security by looking at whether pension incomes are adequate and cover enough people.

The personal capabilities of older people are also captured by investigating education and the extent to which older people are employed. And it considers how far their home countries offer an enabling, age-friendly environment – can older people there feel safe in their neighbourhood? Do they have access to crucial public services? All these are important considerations that make for a better life in old age.

Apart from Japan, all of the top ten countries are in Western Europe, North America and Australasia. Israel and Estonia also join the top 20 this year. The top scoring countries enjoy a rich standard of living, have high-coverage pension systems, high levels of healthcare provision and supportive social environments.

The UK comes in 11th place. It has a poor position in comparison to other European countries with respect to poverty among pensioners. It also lags behind others in the psychological well-being of older people. One dimension in which it scores relatively better is the enabling age-friendly environment – it ranks third in the world for that.

The analysis shows how important social and external environments are in determining older people’s ability to live well. One important factor is personal safety and another is access to public transport. These are key to older people’s quality of life, enabling them to access services (such as healthcare and shops) and friends and family.

A combination of low personal capabilities and a restricting external environment can have a serious impact. This prevents older people from taking advantage of opportunities like making social contacts and reduces their resilience to threats that affect them during old age, such as ill health and disability.

Don’t book a flight yet

Towards the lower end of the league are countries that have been slower to improve pension provisions and employment opportunities for their older citizens. There are fewer chances to access free healthcare and less community care and subsidised transport. Many African nations place at the lower end of the spectrum, including Ghana, Uganda and Morocco, which comes in 83rd place.

Bottom rung. Global AgeWatch Index 2014


Ukraine ranks towards the bottom, having scored badly across three out of four categories – including the health status of its older population.

The older populations of the three lowest-ranked countries, the West Bank and Gaza, Mozambique and Afghanistan, account for less than five per cent 5% of the total population. This points to issues that reduce people’s chances to survive to old age in these countries. The countries need to take action now to prevent the young people of today from living in poverty in their old age.

Latin American countries have been improving in this respect. Chile leads a cluster of countries in the region, ranking at number 22. Part of this success is attributed to the expansion of social pensions across Latin America.


Latin America on the up. Global AgeWatch Index 2014


These kinds of pensions are said to a game changer for older people. Tax-financed, non-contributory, social pensions have the potential to create a basic regular income for some of the very poorest older people. In comparison, contributory pensions have not lived up to the expectation to support older people in low and middle-income countries. This is largely due to the fact that many people in these countries work in the informal sector and consequently do not qualify for formal pension schemes.

Top scoring Norway first introduced its universal rights-based pension in 1937, long before it achieved its current high-income status. Sweden, which has recently celebrated 100 years of its universal pension system, also rates highly in this metric. Both systems were put in place at a time when these countries were what would now be called “emerging economies”. Similarly, the best-performing African country, Mauritius (38), introduced a universal pension back in 1958.

No contest

Overall, there is a significant disparity between the nations at the top and those in the lower third. On income security, for example 26 countries in the index scored less than half the top values set by Norway and France. By income security, it means that almost all pensioners have a pension income entitlement, and the pension receipts afford a decent standard of living.


Best and worst. Global AgeWatch Index 2014


The results in the 2014 Insight Report of the Global AgeWatch Index also point to clear evidence of mismatches between advances in longevity and the evolution of policies that empower older people. In particular, many sub-Saharan, Middle Eastern and Asian countries achieve less than one-third of the desirable level of quality of life and wellbeing.

A clear message is that greater social policy priorities, including social protection and universal social services are needed to improve older people’s wellbeing, while at the same time making systems of welfare provisions more sustainable.

It’s important to note that the persistence and impact of social and economic restrictions accumulate over a person’s lifetime. If a person struggles throughout their life, they will be worse off in old age. Human development must therefore be promoted across the life course; building resilience at all stages of life to enable people of all background and abilities to live a better life in old age.

Hard Evidence is a series of articles in which academics use research evidence to tackle the trickiest public policy questions.

Asghar Zaidi receives funding from the European Commission as well as from the ESRC.

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TattsBet is out, UBET is in

January 30th, 2019

Lotteries and wagering firm Tatts Group is rebranding its wagering business under the “UBET” moniker, in what it says is the biggest change in the division’s 52-year history.


The Tatts wagering division, currently known as TattsBet, will start using the new name – which reflects the Australian colloquial term meaning “of course” – in early 2015.

Tatts has been working on revitalising its wagering operations for more than 12 months to fight back against a swarm of online competitors.

Tatts chief executive Robbie Cooke says Tatts has not invested enough in the wagering division in recent years and had been slow to adapt as other corporate bookmakers entered the market.

The new brand name will be accompanied by a new website, the unveiling of new, different “flagship” betting outlets and an intense marketing campaign.

Mr Cooke said the rebrand was a critical part of Tatts’ revitalisation of its wagering business.

“UBET is a great, punchy name. It’s embracing where the business is heading and that’s making sure we have a vibrant, live, young brand that responds both to racing and sport to be used across all our customer touch points,” Mr Cooke told AAP.

“We’ve got a two-year horizon in our minds for an intense repositioning of the business.”

The first thing that customers would notice under the rebranded business was the new digital aspect: the website and the new mobile app.

The new website was aiming to make it easier for punters to make their bets and was designed to be available on a desktop computer, a tablet or a smartphone.

Mr Cooke said Tatts’ retail outlets had not changed since the 1990s, and the old TAB was not particularly inviting.

Tatts was now making dramatic alterations.

Tatts does just under 70 per cent of its transactions through retail outlets.

Mr Cooke said improvements in facilities at Doomben racecourse in Brisbane already had generated a nice lift in transactions on course.

Mr Cooke said Tatts had not engaged in any intensive marketing in the past.

A step-up in marketing spending had been flagged to the share market, but Tatts was keeping the amount under wraps.

Mr Cooke said the securing of Tatts’ wagering franchise in Queensland earlier this year under more favourable tax rates had given it the firepower to lift its spending on marketing without having any major impact on the bottom line.

The Tatts wagering division operates more than 1,400 retail outlets in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and has a national presence through online, mobile app and phone services.

In the 2013/14 financial year, Tatts’ wagering division suffered a two per cent fall in revenue to $642.3 million, and earnings before interest and tax fell 7.4 per cent to $144.1 million.

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AC/DC perseveres with new album

January 30th, 2019

AC/DC finally joined iTunes in 2012 after years of refusing to do so.


But make no mistake, the Australian rock band is still old school.

“I would like everybody to buy vinyl again,” guitarist Angus Young said in an interview.

“That’s my favourite.”

He continued with a loud laugh: “They ought to make them portable – iVinyl.”

AC/DC, which has enjoyed four decades of success, will release Rock Or Bust, its first album in six years, on December 2. It is the follow-up to Black Ice, which sold 784,000 units during its first week in 2008.

The band has yet to join Spotify, something Young said is possible.

“I guess, if it’s doing a good service. I mean, we’ll certainly entertain the idea, I suppose,” he said, though Cliff Williams followed with the question: “Is it like Pandora? I’ve heard of it.”

Rock Or Bust, which has received favourable reviews, is a typical AC/DC album and one the band hopes fans will listen to on record players, in addition to iPhones. It was recorded in May.

“You want people to put it on and go, ‘That’s AC/DC and no one else,”‘ Young said.

In a recent interview, the two members were full of laughter and good energy as they discussed their new music and upcoming world tour, planned for next year.

But the band is in the midst of turmoil and tragedy despite its success. Drummer Phil Rudd was recently charged with threatening to kill, and guitarist Malcolm Young, who has dementia, left the group in September.

Rudd, who showed up late to court in New Zealand this week and clowned around by jumping on the back of one of his security guards, is also charged with possessing methamphetamine and marijuana.

Young said Rudd was acting strangely as the band recorded Rock Or Bust and were starting to promote it. They plan to go tour without him, he said.

Ironically, Rudd’s next court appearance is set for the same day that Rock Or Bust will be released.

Young, 59, said his older brother, Malcolm, is doing fine, but couldn’t play any longer.

“It was progressing further, but he knew he couldn’t do it. … He had continued as long as he could, still writing. But he said to me, ‘Keep it going,”‘ Young said.

Malcolm, 61, is being replaced by their nephew, Stevie Young, who filled in for Malcolm during AC/DC’s US tour in 1988. Stevie also plays on Rock Or Bust.

“He’s about the closest who plays like Malcolm and he knows that style. And for him it’s natural, the way he plays,” Young said. “Malcolm has that hard-rhythm solid sound and Stevie … he grew up on that. That’s who he emulated. He stuck to that style, which is a unique thing.”

“Stevie’s personality is very much like Malcolm’s as well, and you kind of play how you are,” Williams, 64, chimed in.

The band members said they’re extremely happy with the outcome of the new album, especially Brian Johnson’s vocals.

“He was sounding great from (the) get-go. He was a bit worried,” Young said.

“We were upstairs, but we could hear him from downstairs. He was sounding great. He still … sounds rather angelic in a rough sort of way,” he said, laughing again.

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Set a firm limit on the amount of information your device can download before you decide to start surfing the web in a plane, otherwise you might find yourself facing some hefty fees.


Eyebrows were raised earlier at recent reports about a Canadian businessman on his way to Singapore who ended up with a nearly $US1200 ($A1298) bill because the amount of information downloaded was much higher than the amount included for free in the airline’s $US25 access fee.

But a little caution can make sure the same fate doesn’t befall others.

Rules for smartphone use on a plane are very similar to those one should observe when travelling outside of one’s smartphone plan area so as to avoid unexpected fees: turn off automatic updates and don’t let apps have access to mobile phone services.

But, since the telephone can also access the internet with wi-fi, even more caution is needed on a plane, says Thomas Bradler of the Consumer’s Centre of the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

“The standard settings aren’t enough here,” he said.

“To avoid higher costs, you should deactivate automatic updates, as well as email updates.”

Bradler recommends reading the fine print of any contract, since these normally contain details about costs related to activity.

“If the contract does not clearly explain the costs incurred, you should take the bill to the airline and demand at least a partial repayment,” he said.

Some airlines have begun offering package deals.

Lufthansa, for example, has 24-hour passes, while Emirates doesn’t charge for the first 10 megabytes.

Still others provide free service to frequent flyers.

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Gunmen have killed four members of a polio vaccination team in Pakistan, with one survivor recounting screaming at police and dozens of passers-by for help before it finally arrived.


Wednesday’s attack – the latest in a series by militants in Pakistan – happened on the eastern outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province.

Thousands of other polio vaccinators will refuse to go back to work unless they are assured of greater security, a representative says.

“A team of seven polio workers was getting ready to launch the fourth and final day of the campaign when two men riding a motorbike opened fire on their vehicle,” provincial home secretary Akbar Durrani told AFP.

The vaccination team leader, who wished to be identified by her first name ‘Rubi’, said the driver of her minivan fled when the men on the motorbike pulled out in front and flashed a gun.

“Then they started firing from the front; I received bullets and fell down. I was bleeding. Then they went to the side of the vehicle and started firing,” she said.

Rubi and others got out of the minivan after the gunmen fled the scene, but minutes passed before they could flag down help.

A motorcycle rider finally came to their aid, but two more workers, a husband and wife, died of their injuries on their way to hospital.

The attack was later condemned by federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid.

Haleem Shah, president of the Polio Workers Association of Baluchistan, said his colleagues will not go back to work until they were assured of greater security.

“We are in contact with the government and we have demanded that we won’t participate in the campaign until we are provided security,” he said.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic.

Attempts to stamp it out have been badly hit by opposition from militants and attacks on immunisation teams, which have claimed more than 60 lives in the last two years.

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The federal government is open to legalising the medicinal use of marijuana, two prominent Liberals say.


Senator Ian Macdonald and MP Warren Entsch are supporting a private cross-party bill due to be tabled in parliament later on Thursday.

Mr Entsch says Prime Minister Tony Abbott and others in the government support medicinal marijuana while Senator Macdonald doesn’t expect the issue will need to go to a conscience vote.

“I’ve actually spoken to the prime minister on this… and he confirmed to me that he certainly supports medicinal cannabis,” Mr Entsch told reporters in Canberra.

In August Mr Abbott threw his support behind medicinal marijuana in a letter to radio talk-back host Alan Jones.

“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” he wrote.

State governments in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia have expressed interest in being part of an opt-in-opt-out system.

Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale says a regulatory body would determine for what conditions marijuana products could be prescribed.

But a doctor’s discretion would still play a big part.

“Some doctors may decide they don’t want to be involved in it,” Senator Di Natale said.

“The great majority will recognise the immense therapeutic benefit.”

The bill also creates a tightly-controlled farming regime for marijuana, similar to medicinal opiates in Tasmania.

Among the other parliamentarians who have thrown their weight behind the bill are Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Labor’s Anne Urquhart.

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A woman who was allegedly involved in a murder and attempted murder of Bankstown Brothers 4 Life members has been granted bail after her mother posted a $1.


4 million surety.

Police say Amanda Crowe – along with Farhad Quami, 32, Mumtaz Quami, 29, and 22-year-old Jamil Quami – murdered Mahmoud Hamzy in Revesby Heights in Sydney’s southwest last year.

Mr Hamzy, the cousin of notorious NSW prisoner and Brothers 4 Life boss Bassam Hamzy, was found dead in his garage just after midnight on October 29.

Days later on November 7, it is alleged Crowe was involved with a shooting and attempted murder of another gang member.

Crowe, who faces a raft of other charges, including participating and directing a criminal group, appeared in prison greens via AVL at the Supreme Court on Thursday to make a bid for bail.

Describing the crown case against her as weak, her barrister Winston Terracini SC said it rests on one witness who has given two different versions of the event.

“The fact that he has changed his version is alarming and the unreliability of that witness will be brought into play,” he said.

Mr Terracini also submitted that there was no ballistic, DNA or fingerprint evidence to tie Crowe to the alleged murder of Mr Hamzy.

“There are some intercepted telephone calls taken by the police. They have some relevance but they do not go to the issue of us being involved in the murder,” he said.

“Other material tends to suggest some knowledge of things but fall far short of participation,” he said.

Mr Terracini also rejected the crown’s submission that if released Crowe could pose a risk to witnesses.

“How on earth can they be more protected than they are now? They are all in jail.”

Justice Stephen Campbell said it was concerning the shootings were alleged to have arisen from a war between the different branches of the organised crime group.

While Crowe did pose an “unacceptable risk” if released on bail, he said these risks could be ameliorated by strict bail conditions.

These included that she surrender her passport and have no association with members of the gang.

It came after the court heard her mother would post $1.4 million in surety to secure her daughter’s release.

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The Queen has been given a lifetime achievement award for her devotion to equestrian sport.


The monarch, who is usually responsible for handing out honours rather than receiving them, accepted the prestigious Federation Equestre Internationale accolade – a white gold and diamond brooch of nine interlinked horseshoes – at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

The Queen’s love of horses is well known and she is likely to be delighted with the unique award.

The FEI – equestrian sport’s international governing body – said the award recognises the Queen for her leading role as a supporter of equestrian sport throughout her reign.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, the outgoing FEI president who as a teenager was the first woman to represent Jordan internationally in equestrian sport, presented the brooch to the Queen, describing her afterwards as a “true horsewoman” who has a “truly extraordinary” bond with her horses.

Watching was the Duke of Edinburgh, who shares the Queen’s love of horses and who was heavily involved in equestrian sport himself as an accomplished carriage driver who represented Britain in the World Championships.

Philip was also president of the FEI for 22 years between 1964 and 1986 and received its Award for Dedicated and Distinguished Services in 2001.

Keith Taylor, chairman of the British Equestrian Federation, who was also at the ceremony, praised the Queen’s knowledge of horse breeding and spoke of how important equestrian sport was to her family – with both her daughter, the Princess Royal, and granddaughter, Zara Phillips, winning championships and representing Britain in the Olympics – with Zara netting a team silver at London 2012.

Thoroughbred horses bred by the Queen have won more than 1600 races, including every Classic except the Epsom Derby.

The Queen also plays host to the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show, which features international jumping, dressage and driving.

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Angry scenes erupted in a Sydney court after an ex-Christian Brother was sentenced to at least two years in jail for indecently assaulting boys at NSW schools more than 30 years ago.


Desmond Eric Richards, 76, pleaded guilty earlier this month to abusing four boys between 1972 and 1982 in Albury, Wagga Wagga and Strathfield in Sydney’s inner west.

District Court Judge Peter Zahra on Thursday sentenced him to a non-parole period of two years after imposing a maximum sentence of three years and three months for the offences.

Shortly after the sentence was handed down and as Richards was escorted from the court, one of his victims shouted “you piece of f***g s**t, I’m going to drag you back in here and see you do 30 years.”

Others vocalised their disappointment with the sentence while some could be heard to say “hear hear”.

During each of the attacks in 1972, 1976 and 1982 Richards would isolate one of the boys and molest him, before subjecting his victim to weeks of physical punishment for minor transgressions.

“It’s difficult to see how the conduct continued unabated for so long,” Judge Zahra said.

“The complainants were either not taken seriously or were stalled by the order.”

Judge Zahra noted Richards’ frail condition, advanced age, numerous cancer treatments and signs his brain had lost mass, which might affect his memory.

The court had earlier been told that Richards claimed to have no memory of the incidents although the former brother has said he was “rocked” by the impact of his behaviour on the victims.

But Judge Zahra said his memory likely wasn’t affected at the time of the assaults.

Outside court Richards’ lawyer, Greg Walsh, said: “Though Brother Richards will find it difficult in jail – he’s 76 and in very poor health – obviously there needed to be general and specific deterrence.”

Richards has not taught in a Christian Brothers’ school in 29 years.

One of his victims said he was happy his fight to be heard had finally ended.

“For forty years I’ve been telling my story and finally someone has listened,” he told AAP outside court.

“I can move on.”

The Christian Brothers apologised without reservation for Richards’ behaviour in a statement and urged anyone with evidence of sexual abuse to go to the police.

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(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

A long-awaited report has recommended a royal commission into sexual abuse allegations at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.


The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, or DART, report found a significant number of serious allegations of abuse had never been investigated and individuals had not been brought to account.

Peggy Giakoumelos reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

The taskforce was formed in 2012 to examine about 2,400 historical allegations of abuse within the Australian Defence Force, in some cases recommending victims be compensated.

One outstanding issue remains a series of sexual assaults on female cadets at the Defence Force Academy in the mid 1990s.

Australia’s Chief of Army David Morrison has not commented on the specifics of the report.

But he told the ABC’s 7:30 program the ADF is committed to righting some of the wrongs of the past. 

“I can assure you and your viewers that the ADF leadership team, headed by the two CDFs, David Hurley and Mark Binskin, the vice chiefs, the service chiefs, are absolutely committed to trying to atone for some of the dark issues in the ADF’s past. The DART has done a great job in raising the profile of those men and women who have suffered at the hands of others in our Defence Force and the leadership team of the ADF know that it is on our watch to do something about it.”

The DART report is recommending a Royal Commission because it says many serious allegations of abuse were never investigated and the Defence Force doesn’t have capacity to deal with the allegations.

A royal commission would look into abuse between 1986 – when ADFA was established – until the present day. 

The report found at least 36 women were abused between 1991 and 1998, most of whom were under 20 at the time and some as young as 17.

Allegations range from indecent assault to rape and were perpetrated mainly by male cadets.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick led a review into the ADFA Skype sex scandal.

She says while it’s up to the government to decide whether to go ahead with a Royal Commission, the needs of victims have to be taken into account.

“Whatever mechanism is decided whether a Royal Commission or something else, that we don’t retraumatise victims of abuse. Because I meet victims of abuse in the military in my current work. For many of them they’ve moved past this chapter, they just want to move forward. So they are the competing considerations and whether or not a royal commission would actually add something additional to what has already been done as well.”

The Vice President of the Defence Force Welfare Association Les Bienkiewicz agrees a Royal Commission may be needed.

But he wants the general public to know that there isn’t a widespread culture of abuse within the ADF.

“There’s a great loss of confidence that this might cause by the general public to the ADF as a whole and we think that’s quite sad. And while we welcome a royal commission and fully accept that there’s been many incidences of abuse in the ADF over many years, we’ve also got the view that there’s actually no systemic or inbred culture of abuse within the Defence Force and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of ADF personnel act honourably and they share our disgust over the unacceptable behaviour of a few. We’re very pleased that the reports has been released and if it needs to go to a royal commission, well then so be it.”

Defence Minister David Johnston says the government will consider all the recommendations including the possibility of setting up a royal commission.




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