Life is tough, and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death may sell papers and get eyeballs on the page, but they don’t do much for our mental health.
If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.
Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.
Here are five of the best news stories we’ve seen this week to put a spring in your step and make the world feel just that little bit brighter.
Labor Appointed the Most Diverse Cabinet Ever
Labor has come out of the gate with a flying start and appears to be putting equality front and centre. One of the first acts made by new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was to add the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Island flags to the PM’s announcement podium to join the already standing Australian flag.
Albanese has since followed this important but symbolic gesture in appointing the most diverse cabinet the country has ever had. Of the 30 ministers sworn into office, nearly half are women. Women now hold key roles in 10 of the 23 core cabinet positions.
Australia also got its first female Muslim minister and a second Indigenous person to serve as Indigenous Affairs minister.
“A record number, in all three categories for women’s representation — in cabinet, in the ministry and frontbench positions,” Albanese said.
Yawuru elder Patrick Dodson was also appointed as special envoy for reconciliation and the implementation of the Uluru Statement From the Heart.
Humpback Whales Joined Bondi Surfers
A curious humpback whale and its calf joined three swimmers at Australia’s most famous beach on Monday, captured in amazing drone footage.
Jim Finn, Lucy Sargent, and Cailey Hodgson were swimming at Bondi when they suddenly became aware that they had company. Finn told the Today programme that the whales came so close that they could stare into their eyes.
“I was just doing a gentle freestyle and I could see its eye moving watching me and I rolled to my side and did a kick, it did a similar thing,” he said.
“In my head I’d like to think it was imitating me”.
G7 Countries Agree to Stop Funding Overseas Fossil Fuel Projects
The world’s seven largest economies agreed on Thursday that they would stop funding overseas fossil fuel projects in a move that will cut off major funding to carbon emission sources.
By the end of this year, the countries of Japan, the UK, the US, France, Italy, Canada, and Germany will no longer invest in oil, coal, and gas projects abroad. This would redirect around US$33 million from fossil fuels into renewable energy projects.
Alok Sharma, the British president of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop26) said that the move was a “massive win”.
The hope now is that this international precedent will encourage other nations to do the same.
Canada Introduced Sweeping Gun Law Reforms
While the world watches the continuing tragedy of unrelenting gun crime violence and mass shootings in the US, America’s closest ally has stepped up to do something about it.
In response to the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas, Canada moved swiftly to introduce a raft of sweeping gun law reforms that would restrict access to heavy weaponry.
Canada doesn’t have quite the same issue with gun violence as the US does, but the move is a strong symbolic gesture that swift action can and does happen. And hey, we know it works, because we did it too.
The new laws include a national freeze on handgun sales, removing firearm access to people with a history of domestic violence or harassment, and laws that require anyone flagged as a perpetrator of hate crimes and self-harm to surrender their weapons.
The new laws also require all rifles, automatic and manual, to only carry five rounds at a time and ban the sale of large-capacity magazines.
It’s not going to change things in the US, but, hopefully, it has some impact on the politics south of the Canadian border.
Spain Legislated Affirmative Consent Laws
The Spanish parliament this week approved legislation whereby only ‘yes means yes’ when it comes to sexual consent.
Affirmative consent, as it’s commonly known, narrows the definition of what healthy sexual relationships look like to focus solely on enthusiastic, positive consent to sexual acts. It’s designed to remove the pre-existing ‘grey areas’ around sex that have been used by perpetrators of sexual assault to get away with their crimes in court.
The bill, which has passed Spain’s house of representatives and is widely expected to pass the Senate, means that sexual assault survivors will no longer have to prove that something was done against their will. Instead, consent is only defined as an explicit expression of ‘yes,’ while silence or passivity do not count. Non-consensual sex that does not meet this definition now carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
The bill also requires minors who commit sexual assault to undergo sex education, consent, and gender equality training. It will also create a 24-hour network of crisis centres for sexual assault survivors and their families.