Owning the rainbow.

When you see a rainbow, what do you think of?

Rain and sunshine. Refraction of light. A pot of gold or the full spectrum of colour?

Or do you think of the LGBTQI+ community?

Many people throughout the world probably think of the LGBTQI+ community, and this is the genius of owning the rainbow. The LGBTQI+ community has appropriated this great and beloved natural wonder as its own symbol to express everything that their community represents.

The rainbow permeated the successful social media campaign which eventually legalised same-sex marriage in Australia. The campaign asked the public to do everything from contacting their local politician, to wearing rainbow coloured laces for a day, to hanging a rainbow flag out their window to show support for the cause. The campaign worked, and it was successful it could almost be taught to future activists as an example of how to harness social media for a social cause – and it was all underwritten by the rainbow motif.

How did this happen?

US artist Gilbert Baker popularised the rainbow flag as a symbol for the gay community as far back as 1978. The San Francisco artist was apparently urged to create a symbol of gay pride by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States.

The different colours in the rainbow flag are associated with diversity and all have distinct meanings for people within the LGBTQI+ community. While the flag itself may have evolved since 1978, it is still a famous symbol of the LGBTQI+ community and a was a stroke of marketing genius on behalf of Baker.

Interestingly, the rainbow flag was also utilised to unite people during the Reformation, as far back as 1525. It was also suggested as a symbol of the Armenian Republic movement, the Cooperative movement, the Peace movement, Indigenous rights in the Andes, Basque nationalism, Jewish Autonomous Oblast and the Patriots of Russia political party. But how many people throughout the world would associate the rainbow flag with any of these movements? And how many of those people would automatically think of the LGBTQI+ movement?

It is a stroke of marketing genius. So much so that every time many people see a rainbow, they will consciously or subconsciously associate it with the LGBTQI+ community, just as people associate a yellow M with a certain fast-food restaurant. Better still, rainbows cost nothing and are thus free advertising.

Every time a local council paints a rainbow on a public staircase, people will think LGBTQI+

Every time a local council flies rainbow flags, people will think LGBTQI+

Every time the sun shines after rain, people will think LGBTQI+

Image: Mateus Campos Felipe

Do you love wombats?

Wombats are cute and cuddly, furry and funny. They waddle their fat little bodies in and out of their burrows and give birth to impossibly cute babies. They’re some of the cutest animals on the planet. Some might say they’re as cute as koalas.

They’re also under threat.

Mange is one of the biggest killers of wombats. The mange mite buries itself under the wombat’s skin triggering extreme itchiness which makes the wombat scratch, causing open wounds and scabs to form.  These become infected, the wombat loses condition, becomes dehydrated, malnourished and slowly dies. The good news is, it can be treated.

The Wombat Protection Society of Australia is working to eliminate that threat. WPSA is a national non-profit organisation created to raise awareness and money in order to provide wombats with immediate protection from harm. We enhance quality of life, fund projects that develop and protect suitable habitat and provide sanctuaries for Australian wombats.

Mange is considered to be the major health issue impacting wombat welfare. It is caused by the parasitic mite sarcoptes scabiei, and the society has brought attention and action to this issue by encouraging and supporting research and collaboration in the treatment and prevention of mange in both free living and in-care wombats. For more information, contact WPSA at mange@wombatprotection.org.au

You can help

Wombat rescue programs operate throughout Australia, and many are staffed by volunteers. You could perform one of the following volunteer roles:

Field visits

Volunteers and full-time staff visit wombat habitat and establish and maintain wombat flaps. The flaps are placed in front of the wombats burrow and every time the wombat brushes the trap, liquid medicine is emptied onto the wombats back. This kills the mange.

The medicine is also administered via a scoop, like a scoop used to retrieve a golf ball from the water. Volunteers scout the wombat when it is out of its burrow, and approach it like an assassin. Instead of killing the wombat, they get close enough to pour the medicine on its back, then chase it to its burrow to check on the condition of the flap.

How fast is a wombat?

There’s one way to find out.

Let’s not beat around the bush (well, not yet). It’s not glamorous work, it’s quite physical, and it can be quite confronting. Seeing a wombat with mange is a horrible sight. Some people might be affected by it, and some may never be comfortable with it. If so, perhaps another role might suit you better.

DIY

Wombat flaps need to be constructed. At the moment, many are scraped together with donated or recycled materials including plastic take-away containers, vegemite jar lids and open for inspection signs. Someone with construction skills and a desire to save these beloved animals could create a more sturdy, permanent design for a wombat flap – you could do it all in your shed.

Administration

Administration is a large part of wombat protection, and can include any of the following tasks:

Website design

Data entry

Rostering

Letter writing

Grant requests

Social media marketing

Report collation

Event organisation

Education and teaching

To volunteer in an admin role, you don’t have to live near wombat habitat in order to help, in fact you don’t even have to leave the house. There are roles you could perform from the comfort of your loungeroom.

For further information and to find out how you can help protect these lovable creatures:

http://www.wombatprotection.org.au

info@wombatprotection.org.au

0448 087 994

Images: University of Tasmania, Getty Images, Australian Reptile Park, Paul Looyen

Who should lead a nation?

There are two types of leaders: boring administrators and inspirational heroes.

Who would you prefer to lead your country?

Personally, I want a boring administrator to lead my nation. Boring administrators fulfill the role of a national leader, which is to essentially ensure that schools are funded, rubbish is collected, hospitals are staffed and trains run on time. It’s a boring job, best performed by boring people. Politicians are public servants and the highest ranking politician in the land is the highest ranking public servant in the land. A highly-paid and famous public servant, but still a public servant.

Unfortunately, too many world leaders have forgotten this, and have succumbed to the temptation to be seen as strong, charismatic, brave heroes.

Politicians do paperwork. Ultimately, that is their job. They review current policies regarding public services. They draft new policies and negotiate to have them implemented. Politicians on all sides of the political spectrum will strive to have their world view reflected in policy, but ultimately all of them are administrators.

That’s not to say politicians are boring per se. They can be as exciting and interesting as they want in their free time. They can front alternative rock bands, make funky art, do extreme sports or whatever they want, as long as they remember that when they are performing their role as a politician, they are supposed to be boring.

Brave, inspirational, strong and charismatic leaders struggle to combine substance with their style.

Donald Trump epitomises style over substance. His substantial fortune funded a slick public relations campaign which won him the election and kept him in office. He deliberately positioned himself as a strong, charismatic leader making bold statements to persuade impressionable voters to elect him. It worked. He even coined the phrase ‘Fake News’ to drown out the voices of reason, the voices of the boring administrators who offered the electorate statistics, facts and objective information gleaned from the boring paperwork they had done in their role as public servants. Trump reigned as a populist leader who was apparently strong and brave, and did nothing to serve the public. If you vote for strong leaders, you risk creating another Trump.

In Mexico some years ago, people vowed to vote for Enrique Pena Nieto because he is ‘muy guapo’, or very good looking. Perhaps not the best reason to vote for a president. It worked, though, and he became president, but few people would nominate Mexico as a land of public service efficiency.

Leaders such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Boris Johnson in the UK and Scott Morrison in Australia have also fallen into the Trump trap. They posit themselves as strong, courageous leaders who can improve and protect their country, but forego the boring administrative tasks required of a leader.

Scott Morrison is called ‘Trump Lite’ and famously displayed his organisational incompetence during the recent Australian bushfire crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the damaging floods. A boring administrator would have saved many Australian plants and animals, homes and people’s lives.

Morrison also makes endless statements claiming to ‘stand up to’ fellow world leaders in times of crisis. He famously attacks China when his popularity wanes and pretends to be courageous towards the emerging superpower. The statements increase his popularity among gullible, impressionable voters (and the racists) who demand inspirational, brave leaders, but they are not the wise words of a skilled administrator addressing the country’s largest trading partner. A boring administrator would treat China appropriately, and protect Australia’s economy and exports.

Brave, strong charismatic leaders often need an enemy. They will often create one to appear strong, and this can manifest as real life conflict.

Morrison’s predecessor also succumbed to popularism. Former prime minister Tony Abbott flaunted his impressive muscular physique honed through daily exercise, and implied that it was central to his ability to run the country. Yes, it was impressive for a man of his age, but do you need a six pack to manage tax rates? He also promised to shirt-front Vladimir Putin at a world leader’s summit, before eventually shaking his hand and smiling. Not only did he fail to deliver his promise, he also placated voters who expect a leader to be physically strong and brave, rather than boring and intelligent. He also forgot that you can’t shirt-front someone who never wears a shirt.

Putin is himself a strong, charismatic leader. He poses endlessly in photos boasting of his physical virility and prowess. He portrays himself as a strong leader and he eventually believed his own hype. Experts attribute his invasion of Ukraine to his ego, and his desperation to be seen as a strong leader, in the vein of a conqueror determined to restore the glory of Russia and the former Soviet Union. If you vote for strong leaders, you run the risk of creating another Putin.

Strong leaders keep us safe.

This is a popular belief and refrain. Proponents point to leaders like Winston Churchill as examples of charismatic and brave leaders who protected a nation during times of war. Yes, a brave leader might guide us through a war, making rousing speeches of courage and resilience, vowing to face the enemy anywhere at any time, even on the beaches. But a skilled administrator, a boring public servant, could prevent us from going to war in the first place.

“She’s got no balls.”

You’d hope not, because then she wouldn’t be a she – but that’s a different discussion. The quote comes from an acquaintance discussing candidates in an upcoming local election, made in reference to the incumbent female representative. The conservative, middle-aged man believed the woman wasn’t strong, brave, confident or aggressive enough to lead their region.

Why?

They didn’t say. They just believed she had no balls. Clearly they expected a leader with as much style as substance, perhaps even more of the former. They didn’t want a boring public servant.

Media darlings

Modern politicians must exist within the modern media landscape. They must present well and this will force all of them to consider ‘optics’ before and during their political term. However, many politicians prioritise optics too greatly and neglect their duties. Only voters can prevent leaders from concentrating too heavily on optics and instead force them to dedicate themselves to their work.

Next time you consider who to vote for in an election, ask yourself:

Does charisma staff hospitals?

Does charisma care for the elderly?

Does charisma improve children’s literacy?

Does charisma make the trains run on time?

Does charisma keep wages high?

Does charisma create employment?

Also remember this:

Boring politicians do their job and let us get on with our lives.

Boring politicians are not noticed, except when they make mistakes. When the trains don’t run on time, hospitals are understaffed, school children are left without teachers and roads are full of potholes, politicians are noticed. They shouldn’t be. They should administer our nations and regions and remain in the background.

Boring politicians avoid the headlines. Boring politicians resist the lure of fame, they ignore the temptation of the perfect soundbite or witty retort at their opponents.

Boring politicians are more efficient. Thus, you spend less time dealing with their departments, and more time enjoying your own life.

Image: Aditya Joshi

Have You Seen This Man?

Authorities and welfare organisations are attempting to identify and locate a man seen wandering Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs pleading with local sporting clubs to become their no. 1 ticket holder.

The man is believed to have grown up in the region and is described as Caucasian, middle-aged, chubby and bespectacled, who is ‘…otherwise unremarkable aside from an affixed smirk which is equally arrogant and condescending”

The desperate man was first sighted in Bondi Junction wearing a Sydney Roosters jersey and baseball cap. Witnesses say he ordered a beer at Artie’s before approaching club bosses, muttering,

“How good are the Roosters!” and demanding to be made the club’s no.1 ticket holder for season 2022 and beyond.

The dejected figure was then seen in Kingsford a few hours later in cardinal and myrtle, claiming to be best friends with Rus. He ordered a beer at Henry Morris Bar and demanded to be made no.1 ticket holder of the Rabbitohs.

Stories of similar sightings throughout the East then emerged.

“Yeah, that’s the guy we saw a while ago,” confirmed club bosses at Randwick Rugby Union Club.

“Dressed in our jersey and scarf, ordered a beer and forced everyone to shake his hand. Kept saying; ‘How good are the galloping greens’ then said Campo’s gonna have a great season, and asked if the Ella brothers were all fit. We felt sorry for him until he demanded to be made no.1 ticket holder, then we showed him the door.”

Beasties stalwarts recounted their own tale of the listless wanderer.

“Seen some strange things at footy clubs, you know, boys will be boys, but this was bizarre. Decked out in full playing kit, even the shorts – not pretty – strolled into The Field and ordered a beer and insisted on meeting a board member. One of our execs decided to humour the poor guy, but when she introduced herself, he scoffed and demanded to meet a ‘real’ board member. That’s when our props did some lineout practice and dumped him on O’Sullivan Road.”

Authorities also received complaints about the unwelcome intruder from the Waratahs, Sydney Swans and Sydney FC, as well as Sydney Coastal Junior Cricket Club.

Sydney Coastal staff immediately contacted police after the man appeared at a junior competition saying,

“I know Dave Warner and Kaja, Kawi, Kijawa…you know, the foreign bloke.”

“We made it clear we want nothing to do with him – I mean, we’ve got kids at this club.”

Law enforcement and mental health experts have not identified a precise cause for the behaviour, which began in the lead up to the most recent federal election. Police are also investigating a possible link with an eerily similar case at Shark Park in early 2016.

Image: Craig Greenhill

First published in The Beast magazine, March 2022.

When Emily Watts rides she starts a conversation.

Emily Watts is a young Australian cyclist with ambitions to reach the top and to inspire people in the process. She recently won the best young rider category at the Tour Down Under and rides for a team with a mission to advance women’s sport and promote positive mental health among the wider community.

Emily’s cycling career began on the quiet roads of Hartley on the edge of the NSW Blue Mountains, and the 21-year-old is now a familiar sight on her long, lonely training rides whenever she makes it back home.

While the dream of world championship and Olympic success dictates Emily’s strict daily routine, she is acutely aware of the need to ensure her general wellbeing and holistic development. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Education / PE Teaching at the University of Sydney and teaches swimming part-time, and is looking for a well-rounded World Tour team to join in the future.

“I’d like to ride for Canyon Sram or Trek Segafredo, because they seem to have the same values that I have. Each individual rider in the team is supported and they look like they enjoy being in the peloton, and it’s important for me to ride for a team with the right atmosphere.”

Emily is a General Classification rider with Knights of Suburbia, a team which actively promotes the wellbeing of its riders and the general community.

“KOS is a team with a strong meaning behind it. We’re a competitive cycling team and we race to win, but we’re more than that. The team was established with the specific goal of providing opportunities for female cyclists who don’t have the financial resources or other resources to race full time.

It’s also part of a community with a strong focus on supporting people through mental health struggles, and the values of the team align with my personal values. Everyone in this team is supported and this is something that I really enjoy about racing with them.”

KOS is aligned with the Love Me Love You Foundation, which promotes positive conversations about mental health and helps people through those challenges in life. The group runs social rides from Melbourne to Mt Isa, with the goal of bringing people together to remove the sigma around mental health and to promote wellbeing.

It also creates an extra element for the members of KOS.

“Riding for a team like this does carry more responsibility. The way we carry ourselves, the way we speak in public and the way we conduct ourselves is very important because when we pull on the jersey, we’re not just representing ourselves but also a community and the team which has a purpose. When we ride, we’re advocates for LMLY.”

Emily has also faced mental health issues in her own life, from specific challenges in elite sport to negotiating adolescence. As recently as January her mental fortitude and flexibility was tested.

“At the Tour Down Under, I was road captain on stage 1, which was a new responsibility for me. Normally I get pretty stressed before a stage, but this time I had to stay calm for the sake of the team and relax into the race.”

It worked, as Emily won the stage in a sprint against riders from some of the world’s best teams.

She also overcame challenges during high school.

“I went through mental health issues, some which affect all teenage girls going through high school like identity, and high academic expectations.”

Emily’s dedication to sport, and her passion for cycling, also caused some issues, even in a sports-mad nation like Australia where sports stars are adored.

“Some students saw my sport and dedication to cycling as bizarre and I was seen as a bit of a weirdo. There was definitely an aspect of tall poppy syndrome. It might also have been because I developed a greater sense of maturity than the average teenager, because when I was in high-school I was already racing and training with cycling squads and many of them were adults.”

“Or maybe it was just jealousy because I was beating the boys in the cross-country races.”

As a future secondary teacher, Emily is also very aware of mental health issues in teenagers, and in particular the impact of social media, especially because today’s elite athletes are required to have a presence on social media. They use social platforms not just to communicate with fans, but to promote themselves, their sport, their team and especially their sponsors.

“I’m very aware of the dangers of social media and how it affects young people. What matters is the way we use social media, and not putting everything on it, and being careful about what we see. For teenagers, it’s vital that they learn how to self-manage.”

Being a female athlete also forces Emily to spend more time on social media than she otherwise might.

“It’s also a bigger part of the sport in the women’s peloton because there’s not as much coverage of our races on TV or in the media in general. We need to be active on social media to get our story out there and to try to attract support for ourselves and our teams, and even for a foundation like LMLY.”

Images: Getty Images, Knights of Suburbia

One element missing from Australia’s secondary schools.

The majority of Australian secondary schools are missing practical environmental sustainability projects. The same projects are increasingly prevalent in Australian primary schools.

The projects include compost bins, organic gardens, nature play areas or native gardens. Very few secondary schools in Australia allow teenage students to get their hands dirty and experience practical environmental projects.

How do I know?

I’m a secondary school teacher. I’ve taught full-time or part-time in many different secondary schools throughout Australia and I’ve seen very few practical environmental sustainability projects in any of the schools.

Why?

Secondary students learn environmental education, so why don’t they have the chance to put this theory into practice?

Crowded curriculum

Yes, the Australian secondary school curriculum is very crowded and education authorities seem determined to cram even more topics into it every year. Yes, schools would need to find a time and space to include practical environmental activities, as well as finding qualified teachers to deliver them. However, projects such as compost bins do not need to be taught in a specific subject at the expense of other topics.

Students can use compost bins when they eat. They can fill compost bins at recess and lunch time to dispose of organic food waste. Students would need to be taught which food scarps can and can’t go into the bins and their use would need to be monitored, but most teenagers should be smart enough to learn how to correctly us compost bins. Many already use them at home. The food waste can then be added to soil to create earth, especially if the school has some kind of native garden or organic food garden. Students could lead the project which converts the food waste to soil.

In my experience, the only secondary schools conducting this sort of program are Steiner schools or specific environmental schools.

Lack of space

Yes, inner-city and urban secondary schools are restricted by the lack of physical space in the school grounds. This in itself, however, can be turned into a learning point. How do we create a sustainable project in such a small space? How do we colectively solve the problem? Teenagers can be more adaptive and creative than many people think. Also, many of the same teenagers are likely to live in high-density areas when they leave school, so school is a great time for them to learn about how to create a sustainable project in restricted space. Urban sustainability is a growing movement, and many people have found practical solutions to this problem. It is possible.

Money

Yes, government schools in Australia are underfunded. That said, government primary schools manage to access funds for compost bins and other resources required for practical environmental projects. Can secondary schools do the same. Private schools certainly don’t lack money – when will they spend it on environmental resources?

Are teenagers too old?

Many primary school students are involved in environmentally-friendly projects on a daily basis. Many primary schools have compost bins, where students from Kindergarten to Yr 6 place their food scraps, after being educated on which food waste can go in compost.

Some primary schools even have separate rubbish bins in their classroom, and students are encouraged to avoid putting any items in the waste bin. It can even become a source of pride for the class to produce ‘zero waste’ on any given day or week. Of course, students are encouraged by incentives, but it has been successful in many schools, and some primary schools now produce very little waste for landfill, instead sending it to recycling or to compost. The compost then nourishes the school’s own organic garden.

Why can’t this be done with teenagers?

Teenagers are surely more able to distinguish between landfill, recyclables and organic waste. However, it is unusual to see a compost bin in any Australian secondary school.

Teenagers are more suited to practical environmental projects. They are old enough to design, plan and prepare a project, and old enough to create the project with their bare hands, with appropriate supervision. Teenagers could realistically create a native plant garden or organic garden from scratch.

Why should they?

Children will inherit the planet we are now shaping. They are also just a few years from becoming the decision makers in the world.

Do you know why?

If you’ve read this far, and you know why practical environmental projects are scarce in Australian secondary schools, feel free to get in touch. Better still, if you know of secondary schools which are doing this, and you know how to convince other schools to do the same, let us know.

Image: Element5Digital

Waverley Council Launches the SITTY 2 Surf.

Waverley Council has paired up with Randwick Council to launch the SITTY 2 Surf initiative and guarantee uncrowded waves to the surfers of the Eastern beaches.

SITTY 2 Surf actively promotes a burgeoning trend sweeping Australia’s eastern seaboard. Beautiful young things don their favourite bikini, boardies or wetsuit, and carry their surfboard to the beach, before taking myriad selfies and posting to Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok or Youtube (SITTY), without ever dipping a toe in the water. SITTY Surfers merely exploit the image of surfing to attract and impress online followers.

“SITTY2Surf is an exciting initiative through which both councils will keep SITTY Surfers out of the water,” began a joint statement.

“It addresses the scourge of overcrowded waves, which is an unfortunate side-effect of living in paradise, and it works in the following way.”

“Councils have installed fibre-to-the-shore superfast broadband at surf beaches for real time uploads, encouraging SITTY Surfers to pose anywhere on the shoreline, except between the red and yellow flags. In addition, cloud seeding will ensure endless blue-sky days, and the water will be treated with a bright blue dye like the ponds at fancy golf courses, to create the ultimate backdrop.”

“Trucks will start delivering sugar-white sand from Hyams Beach, and giant fans will be installed at surfing beaches to create wind-blown hair. They also offer the added bonus of providing permanent offshore winds.”

Keeping SITTY Surfers on the sand reduces the likelihood of surf rage and has been established to coincide with the reopening of Australia’s borders, which is sure to lure hordes of international surfers back to beaches such as Bondi.

Council also explained that a team of stylists, makeup artists and brand consultants will be on hand at every beach except Clovelly and Coogee to prettify the Bondi beauties and the smooth-chested Cariocas from the land of Samba. As a result, the only people left in the water will be crusty old men on longboards, bodysurfers, and those of us who long ago accepted that we are not Instaworthy.

SITTY Surfers can use the SITTY2Surf App to check who currently has the most followers and wins priority to the best patch of sand. The app will also carry a daily list of trending hashtags, as well as advice on who we must StandWith on any given day.

Via the app, councils will also have the power to remove followers from the accounts of any SITTY Surfer caught entering the water and actually surfing a wave.

“In this way, SITTY 2 Surf will be more effective than a threat from a Bra Boy, and will deter more surfers than a beach full of blue bottles.

First published in The Beast magazine, April 2022.

Scott Morrison faces yet another attack.

Embattled Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under more pressure after an online petition was launched to remove him as no.1 ticket holder of the Cronulla Sharks rugby league team.

The petition is called New no.1 Sharks fan and is yet another sign that the leader of Australia is becoming less and less popular with the public, just as he is poised to announce a federal election.

Morrison has been no. 1 ticket holder of the club since 2016 and is a familiar sight at home games at Shark Park. He often appears in team colours during photo opportunities and has made himself so synonymous with the region that he earned the nickname LiarFromTheShire.

The petition is proposing that Morrison be removed from the role for a number of reasons. It claims that he is an imposter because he grew up in the Eastern Suburbs and only started supporting the club after moving to The Shire. It also claims that changing a footy team halfway through life is ‘UnAustralian’ and that he should be replaced in the role by someone who has a proven link to the club and has contributed meaningfully.

The petition is currently collecting signatures from the Australian public and will reportedly be sent to the Sharks if it attracts enough interest. Club bosses will then be asked to put the proposal to a vote, and let registered members decide if Morrison stays or goes.

Image: Craig Greenhill

Emily Watts is hungry for more success.

Emily Watts is chasing domestic and international success in 2022 after claiming the biggest win of her young career in January.

Emily won stage 1 of the Tour Down Under to start the year and also claimed the white jersey as best young rider. This followed bronze medals in the U23 Road Race and ITT at the national titles, and proves that she if fulfilling her undeniable potential.

Success at TDU preceded a block of training with the Podium Potential Academy in Adelaide on the track and the road, before reuniting with Knights of Suburbia teammates at the Tour of Gippsland.

Emily has won medals on the track at national level, but sees her future on the road and has mapped out a three-year-plan accordingly. Now that she has beaten some World Tour riders, she wants to join them.

“By 2025, I’d like to be riding for a World Tour team,” she said, while confirming that success at the World Championships and Olympic Games is the ultimate goal. The first step is to perform well on the National Road Series before heading overseas for the remainder of 2022.

“Winning the GC at the Tour of Tasmania is a major goal. I’m looking to learn as much as I can over the four days of the race, and combine this with what I learned at the TDU this year.”

One lesson was managing the added responsibility as road captain on stage 1 of the TDU.

“Normally I get pretty stressed before a stage, but this time I had to stay calm for the sake of the team and relax into the race.”

It clearly worked, as the KOS team planned their attack perfectly and launched Emily to the biggest win of her career in the bunch sprint, a result which surprised many, including Emily herself.

“I’m not a pure sprinter, I normally sprint well under load, but being an uphill sprint worked to my advantage over the pure sprinters. The win improved my confidence in sprinting, but If I did decide to become more of a pure sprinter, I’d have to change my training.”

The same is true of her climbing. She regards herself as a proponent of short, sharp, punchy climbs, and for that reason has her sights set on GC results in the long term.

Upon completion of the 2022 Australian racing season, Emily plans to travel to the United States to chase races, prize money and increased exposure in Criteriums and road races. If this objective is achieved, she will then head to Belgium in future years and into the heartland of international cycling.

“In Belgium there are races almost every day, plus a very high standard of racing and the chance to be noticed by some world tour teams.”

“I’d like to ride for Canyon Sram or Trek Segafredo, because they seem to have the same values that I have. Each individual rider in the team is supported and they look like they enjoy being in the peloton, and it’s important for me to ride for a team with the right atmosphere. This is what I feel riding for the Knights of Suburbia team as well.”

Despite planning to base herself in Belgium, Emily does not anticipate a career in Cyclocross.

“Cyclocross requires some pretty good bike handling skills and coordination. I don’t have very good hand-eye coordination, so maybe I shouldn’t ride Cyclocross,” she laughs, while also ruling out a career in AFLW:

“I’m studying a Bachelor of Education, PE Teaching, at Sydney Uni, and on a teaching practicum recently I had to teach the kids how to kick an AFL ball and, well, when I finally managed to kick it the kids all clapped and cheered.”

21-year-old Emily may have planned her career trajectory perfectly as the sport of women’s cycling continues to grow.

“By 2025, there might be more races for women,” she predicts.

“We already have the Giro d’Italia Donne and the women’s Paris Roubaix. I handled the gravel sections of some of the Aussie road races well, so who knows. This could mean more opportunities for female cyclists in general.”

Racing the Giro or the Hell of the North is a long way from the tiny town of Hartley on the edge of the NSW Blue Mountains where Emily grew up on the family property.

While a country childhood denied her the chance to train with a local squad on a daily basis, riding alone day after day helped to forge the self-discipline and mental strength that are vital to road cycling success. She is now a national U23 champion in the Individual Time Trial.

“I would get up at 5.30am to get in some training before going to school in Bathurst, and sometimes I’d leave my bike at the Principal’s house and then ride home to Hartley. I don’t remember exactly how long it would take, but I think it was about 60 – 70 km.”

“Plus, riding to places like the Jenolan Caves was enjoyable, and riding on the road to Oberon was hilly, so that developed my climbing skills.”

There was one ride, however, on which her father and younger sister would join her.

“To the Lolly Bug shop, because we could buy lollies halfway.”

Images: Getty Images

It’s not real until it’s royal.

Why does the world always wait for a member of a royal family to validate an issue before acknowledging its gravity?

Countless news headlines lead with comments from a random royal on social issues, and photos of royals are splashed across websites even though the royal played no part in the event or speaks with no authority on the issue.

Royals are propagandists

Royal families are the world’s most gifted propagandists. They have used propaganda for centuries to maintain hegemony. They have used propaganda to convince their subjects that they rule by divine right, through the mandate of a chosen deity.

When royals attend an event, they do so for propaganda. Their marketing arm, which is large, arranges suitable photo opportunities which maintain the positive public image of the family and the very institution, in the same way that marketing teams present a positive, and inaccurate, image of politicians.

Propaganda is powerful.

In many countries, royalty is the government and the government controls all media. This certainly explains the positive coverage of the Sultan of Brunei, and explains the reaction to his decrees. The Sultan is known to issue a ‘titah’, or an address to the nation, whenever he feels the need. Every person in Brunei must get off the streets, close their shops, cease classes and other non-essential tasks, and tune into the address.

The Sultan will lecture his subjects on any topic. He might tackle the issue of obesity among Bruneians. The very next day, every government employee, school and university student will be forced into a government mandated health check and fitness program, which normally lasts until everyone loses interest, or until the next ‘titah’ is delivered on a completely different topic.

Bruneians are forced to get healthy because a royal commented on the issue, despite the fact that countless doctors, nurses and health experts had been advising Bruneians to get healthy for years.

But who are royals in reality?

What authority do they hold?

They’re simply born or marry into a particular family.

They’re not scientists, so they speak with absolutely no authority on the issue of climate change. Despite this, Australian news networks devoted much column space to a meeting between the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prince Charles of England. The article implied that Morrison had to justify Australia’s climate policy to Prince Charles. The same news networks rarely, if ever, show Morrison meeting with environmental organisations, Greens politicians, victims of climate events or renewable energy corporations. Morrison is not shown justifying his (deplorable) environmental policies to those who are experts in the field or victims of climate change. Yet somehow the issue of climate change becomes real when a royal speaks about it.

Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth II spoke at COP26 in 2021. The world has ignored expert scientists, conservationists, ecologists, renewable energy advocates and other environmental authorities for years and years, but the moment an unqualified royal speaks about climate change, the media endorses the Queen’s call to protect the environment, as if now we must start to tackle climate change.

Lecturing the world on democracy

Royals are not immune to lecturing the world on democracy, especially when it is under threat. Prince Charles of England brought this to the world’s attention when he commented on the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

Prince Charles was reported in the mainstream media criticising the attack and claiming that the values of democracy were under attack.

“In the stand we take here, we are in solidarity with all those who are resisting brutal aggression,” he was quoted as saying. Even his son and daughter-in-law, Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, said they stood with the people of Ukraine.

Thus, the royals claimed they stood in solidarity with all those resisting brutal aggression, except when that same brutal aggression saw countless territories stolen from indigenous people in the name of king and crown and led to the creation of the British Empire.

Rugby World Cup

Prince Harry made headlines when he entered the dressing rooms immediately after South Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup and congratulated Siya Kolisi and the team. The victory was significant because Kolisi was the first black captain of the Springboks to win a world cup, not so long after black South Africans were barred from even playing the sport. Kolisi was a story in himself having overcome many obstacles to captain the winning team. And yet, It was as if the victory was not real until Prince Harry personally congratulated the captain.

This is despite the fact that the British royals are certainly not experts on race relations and the rights of oppressed people. They are the oppressors, even in the case of South Africa. The English government, headed by the royal family, colonised South Africa and oppressed and murdered Indigenous South Africans. It is largely the fault of the British royal family, and the Afrikaaners, that it took so long for a black South African to captain the ‘Boks.

Proof of their poor record on race is British colonisation, as well as the tabloid news stories about a leaked message from within the British royal family decrying the racial background of Meghan Markel and the colour of her child’s skin.

Harry and Meghan made news for other reasons.

In January 2022, news outlets reported their concerns over the spread of COVID misinformation on Spotify. This is a worthy statement. But, again, why did media networks devote so much space to the concerns of a pair of royals, when health experts, media experts, governments and other authorities in this field had been raising the same concerns, with much more authority, for months and months prior to the royal statement.

Royals are celebrities

Royal families these days are nothing but celebrities. Celebrities create clickbait. This explains some of the attention given to royals in the media. But most articles and headlines do more than note the presence of the royal. They are written in such a way that the presence or comment of the royal validates an issue or event that was hitherto less important.

Interestingly, articles about a royal calling for an end to world hunger often run beside an article about which royal wore a designer-label dress better.

In all of the examples listed above, how much actual work had each royal devoted to each issue?

How much time had Prince Harry spent trying to encourage and welcome black South Africans into rugby union. How much work has he done in this sphere since sneaking into the dressing room?

How many meetings had Harry and Meghan conducted with Spotify before demanding an end to COVID misinformation? How many meetings have they had since issuing that statement?

What has any royal family, anywhere in the world, done to alleviate world poverty. What have they done in any real sense? Many of them could start by offering some of their enormous personal fortunes and wealth to those in need.

So why is it not real until it’s royal?

Perhaps we can blame the Spanish, or speakers of other Latin languages. In Spanish, the word ‘real’ means both ‘real’ and ‘royal’. Thus, Real Madrid is not the ‘authentic’ Madrid football team, but the ‘royal’ Madrid football team.

Finally, the world is still waiting for a royal to condemn the actions of Raphael Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Image: http://www.ft.com