Inside the kit of an ABC journalist

As the journalism industry has  shifted to online platforms, the traditional role of journalists has changed immensely. With the number of people employed in newsrooms constantly decreasing, journalists are often expected to write their own story, take their own photos and videos, write their headlines and then edit the article themselves.

Journalists are becoming a one man band.

As Jessica Hinchliffe of the ABC puts it, “journalists are becoming a one man band”.

To stay on top of it all, Jessica and other ABC journalists carry around a special kit of media goodies to make sure they are always prepared in the field. This is what Jessica says all serious journalists should have.

1. Osmo Mobile Gimbal Stabiliser

 

DJI OSMO mobile (with iPhone 7)

This device is a stand that allows you to record steady videos on your iPhone. As the device is weighted it keeps your phone straight while recording videos. Theses babies are valued at $400 a piece but if you are serious about your video work they are a sound investment. Jessica says that high quality filming is essential in keeping people engaged so an Osmo is a must.

2. iRig Microphone

MICROPHONE

This is a microphone that plugs straight into your iPhone. Jessica suggests getting one that uses the lightning connector rather than the headphone hole, because it is much more secure. “This is one of the best tips I can give you,” she said.

Canon 7D Camera

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A camera is a must have to take all those important photos. It has a zoom lens that allows photos to be taken from a distance which is not possible from an iPhone.

Iphone 6

iphone 1An iPhone has become a must for journalists, it’s important to get applications and is used to record videos. It also provides constant connection to the internet and colleagues.

Report It App

This app is popular amongst journalists as it allows you to record high quality audio in the field that gets sent straight back to the news room.

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First home buyer numbers spike in Queensland

With rapidly rising house prices, years of stagnant wage growth and the struggles of saving for a loan, recent debate has pointed to the end of home ownership and with it, the ‘great Australian dream’ for the next generation. This has not stopped young Queenslanders defying the odds, with recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that for many, this dream is still alive.

Over 2200 first home buyers entered the Queensland market in June, 2017 marking the highest monthly total in eight years, since the Rudd Government’s GFC stimulus scheme saw first home ownership spike in October 2009. The Queensland Government has since implemented a similar scheme to encourage more people to enter the market and argues that a recent increase in the value of the First Home Owners’ Grant has spurred this increase in first home buyers.

State Labor Candidate for the seat of Everton, David Greene, says his party is committed to helping first home buyers and have clearly done so through a recent boost to the First Home Owners’ Grant which means that Queensland now has the most generous state-wide grant of all the mainland states.

“The Palaszczuk Government recognises how difficult it is for first home buyers to get into the housing market. That is why the government temporarily increased the First Home Owners’ Grant from $15,000 to $20 000 on July 1 last year,” he said.

This $5 000 boost, which is only available to be used on new properties, was due to end in July 2017, but was recently extended to the end of the year. “The 2017-2018 Budget contained additional funding of $30 million to extend the boosted grant offer for a further six months, to give first home buyers until December 31, 2017 to access the Government’s generous incentive,” Candidate Greene added.

Cat Milton, a Spokesperson for the Queensland Treasury Department said the decision to extend the boosted grant came after success in its initial period. “The response to the temporary boost has been pleasing, with a 36.1% increase in the number of Queenslanders receiving a First Home Owners’ Grant payment between the 2016-2017 period, compared with 2015-2016,” she said.

Owing to this grant, Queensland continues to solidify itself as the country’s leading performer when it comes to first home ownership, with all other states except Western Australia, continuing to face significant long-term declines in the number of first home buyers entering the market.

In the first six months of 2017, Queensland experienced a 13% surge in the number of first home buyers, compared with the same period last year. These results easily outperform other Australian states, particularly those down south.  Both Victoria and New South Wales reported declines of over 5% in this period, with the number of Tasmanian first home buyers plummeting by 15%.

CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, Antonia Mercorella attributes the strong numbers and growth in Queensland to more than just the boosted grant, but also the state’s reasonable housing prices, particularly when compared to Victoria and New South Wales.

“Whilst property prices have rocketed away from earning capacity, leaving home buyers struggling to save for a deposit in the southern states, the situation in Queensland is very different,” she said.

“Queenslanders have many opportunities to get their foot on the property ladder. In greater Brisbane there are more than 100 suburbs with a median house price at or around $500 000 and this is considered affordable.”

This is reinforced by the fact that the average home loan size for first home buyers in Queensland is significantly less than that of other states. In June 2017, the average size of a Queensland first home buyers loan was $293,100, significantly lower than $371 900 in New South Wales or Victoria’s $330,200.

Professor Bill Randolph, Director of The City Futures Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, agrees that lower house prices in Queensland have given first home buyers an edge over buyers in the southern states, but has reservations on the heavy use of the First Home Owners’ Grant by state governments.

Whilst he agrees that the scheme has had value as a short-term demand stimulant to bolster overall housing consumption, he believes it is a waste of money in the longer term.  “The scheme simply gets washed out in marginally higher property prices and brings forward first time buyer purchases that would be made over a longer period, leading to an inevitable slump in buyers to follow,” he said.

“There are much better ways of spending public funding to make housing more affordable, but the First Home Owners’ Grant is popular with politicians as a vote winner,” he added.

As both major parties prepare for the Queensland state election in 2018, this issue will be important, in targeting younger voters. With the current extension to the boosted First Home Owners’ Grant due to finish at the end of the year, it is yet to be seen whether early election promises will see the grant once again extended, helping Queensland to continue experiencing first home owner growth.

 

Queensland’s boosted $20 000 First Home Owners’ Grant misses the mark in regional areas

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Regional Queenslanders looking to enter the housing market may be missing out, despite the Queensland Government’s recent announcement to extend their boosted $20 000 First Home Owners’ Grant until the end of the year.

The boosted scheme which offers first home buyers an extra $5000 and saw the monthly total of Queensland first home buyers reach a nine year high in June, is only eligible for use on new properties and this has some experts questioning its effectiveness in rural Queensland.

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REIQ CEO, Antonia Mercorella believes the scheme should include established properties.

While Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella welcomes the boosted grant, she urges the government to broaden its scheme to include established housing as she believes the current scheme limits the positive effects in rural Queensland.

 “In regional Queensland, where houses are already in oversupply and the median house price is falling across most markets, the First Home Buyer Grant should be broadened to include established homes,” she said.

In rural areas it is often substantially more affordable to purchase an already established property, rather than a new one, which means many first home owners are getting no benefit towards their purchase.

“It is possible to buy an established home for cheaper than it is to build one, so the grant is significantly less successful in regional Queensland than it is in the southeast corner of Queensland,” she added.

The REIQ is often a voice for the the housing and real estate industries in regional Queensland.

Changes to the First Home Owners Grant

Established homes were included in the initial $7000 First Home Owners’ Grant scheme which was introduced in 2000 to compensate the expected increase of housing costs from the introduction of the GST.

This was scrapped by the Queensland Government in 2012, as it was argued that the grant on established housing was no longer achieving its goal and was pushing up property prices by increasing demand without increasing supply.

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The First Home Owners’ Grant has had a number of boosts and reforms since 2000.

State Labor Party Candidate for the seat of Everton,  David Greene,  says his Party’s scheme is not only about helping first home buyers but also about stimulating the Queensland housing and construction industries.

Related Article: First Home Buyer Numbers Spike in Queensland

“The program is strategically designed to incentivise the construction of new housing which will in turn create work for the many local contractors, subcontractors and suppliers who rely on the building industry,” he said.

Whilst this may be having a positive effect on the South East, Antonia believes building more houses in regional Queensland is leading to an oversupply of housing that has seen house prices drop more than 35% in recent years.

“Regional Queensland markets do not need additional homes and any price recovery is pushed further towards the horizon with every new home that is built”.

“Regional Queensland markets do not need additional homes and any price recovery is pushed further towards the horizon with every new home that is built,” Antonia added.

Saving on Established Housing

Whilst the grant is not available on established housing, Labor Candidate David Greene believes that the Queensland government offers other generous avenues for people choosing to buy an established home as their first property to save.

“While the availability of First Home Owners’ Grant is restricted to new homes, the transfer duty home concession and transfer duty first home concession remains available to all new home owners who purchase a home which they will occupy, regardless of whether the property is a new or an existing home, allowing Queenslanders to save,” he said.

For information on the First Home Owners’ Grant in Queensland and to find out whether or not you are eligible visit the Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant website.

Tweet: QLD First Home Owner’s scheme not helping regional area says @REIQ CEO. #REIQ #FHOG.

 

How to make money blogging: Top tips from ‘Styling You’ founder Nikki Parkinson

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Nikki Parkinson, founder of the successful blog Styling You.

As the media has become more digitised, many people have jumped ship from sinking traditional media forms to newer content sharing platforms like blogs to create lucrative businesses.  “If you haven’t got the ability to change and adapt you will get lost in the media landscape,” says Nikki Parkinson, founder of the successful, award winning blog Styling You to a room full of young journalism students. Nikki is one of those people who has turned her passion into a successful income stream through blogging.

How on Earth do bloggers make money?

“How on Earth do bloggers make money?” is the question that people like Nikki are constantly faced with. Earning eight times more now than she did as a senior journalist at a Sunshine Coast newspaper eight years ago, there is no doubt that blogging can be financially rewarding, if done correctly.

Here are some of Nikki’s top tips for building a successful blog.

Be Authentic

To run a financially viable blog the most important thing to do is to be able to find your own niche and build an online community that engages with you. Building an online community is based on trust between you and your audience, something which Nikki puts down to just being your authentic self. “An authentic you will find an audience, you can’t go in there start a blog and copy someone else,” says Nikki. Being authentic and finding a niche that suits you, will attract people with similar ideas who will be happy to engage with your content.

Use Social Media

Effective use of social media is one of the best ways to get your blog out there and increase your engagement. Nikki emphasises choosing a couple of social media platforms and using them well, rather than trying to spread yourself too thin. Nikki also emphasises the importance of having your own website as a centralising point for all your content. Whilst the popularity of social media such as twitter and Instagram may change over time, having a core website will ensure that your content has a home regardless of social media trends.

Have multiple income streams

The key to success and sustainability in running a blog is having lots of different income streams.

By building an engaged online community who trust your advice, you will be able to sell them your products. Nikki through her website has had success selling her book “Unlock Your style”, something she would not have written had it not been for her successful blog. Nikki is also able to sell her online styling program and also receive affiliate sales by stocking a number of her favourite brand’s products on her website.

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There is a Styling You Shop on Nikki’s blog that sells her products.

Developing relationships with brands relevant to your blog can be a great way of diversifying the business’s income. Through being a brand ambassador, you get to do photoshoots, attend events and be involved in the promotion of the brand’s message, whilst giving exposure to your blog. This can often also lead to sponsored posts which gives brands access to your audience.

To find out more about Nikki Parkinson’s journey to success check out the video below.

 

 

Are Millennials Engaged with the News?

There is this idea that millennials, the young generation of Australians, lack interest in the news and don’t feel concerned with what’s happening in the world around them.  As a millennial myself, I can say that this is not the case. Young people, in particular university students, are very engaged in what happens around them, clear in recent debates over university fees, climate change and same-sex marriage. While we may not absorb news from newspapers and televisions as much as the previous generation, we get our news from different avenues.

To find out more on the news intake of millennials, Journofeed has undertaken a survey of 50 university students from across four of Queensland’s major universities; the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland, Griffith Univeristy and ACU. This survey asked five questions and whilst the results from a small pool of students are certainly not definitive of the whole generation’s activity, they do give a good indicator of the trends in this age group. The average age of participant was 20

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The rise of social media.

Unsurprisingly, social media platforms take the reign as the most popular place for university students to receive their news. Over half of the people surveyed said that Facebook was their main source of news and when including Twitter and other forms of social media, this equated to 66% of respondents getting their news most regularly from a social media platform.

Receiving news through social media has become more common with the increase in the use of smart phones over the last decade and the convenience of accessing news anytime and anywhere. Facebook remains a strong driver of traffic to external news websites with 64% of respondents saying that they click on a link to an external news article from organisations such as ABC online or the Brisbane Times at least once a day.

The decline of Newspapers

The results of the survey also suggest a difficult future ahead for traditional print publications with zero of the 50 respondents citing newspapers as their main source of news. A quarter of respondents said they had not read a newspaper in over a year whilst 4% said they had never read a newspaper, something unheard of a few decades ago.

Majority of respondents said it had been more than a month but less than a year since they had read a newspaper. Of those who said they had read a newspaper in the last week, many made comments to specific purposes such as reading one in the waiting room, or reading one for an assignment, indicating it is not a regular occurrence for them.

Television remains relevant

Television remains relevant to the university students sampled with over 30% saying it is still their main source of news. Over 75% of people said that they watch television news such as Channel 7 or the ABC at least once a week, with 10% saying that they still watch it daily.

What was surprising was the fact that half of those surveyed said they first found out about the Sydney Lindt Café Siege via television, despite more people claiming that Facebook was their primary news source. Comparative only 28% of people said news of the siege broke to them on Facebook. This may be put down to the fact that the Sydney Siege occurred in the morning, a time when many people have the television turned on at home. The siege first broke live on Sunrise as their studio is in Market Place, with the people watching that program finding out instantly.

Summary of Findings

Millennials are clearly still engaged with the news, just in a different way to the previous generation. Social media has clearly impacted the news sphere, whilst newspapers will continue to phase out as younger audiences are less engaged with them.

 

Fashion and art fuse in shoe brand Wittner’s latest collection

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By Daniele Antonaglia.

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Wittner’s latest collection inspired by Van Gogh’s art includes four designs; Lente, Herfst, Ete and Hiver. Photo by Daniele Antonaglia.

Art and fashion are colliding like never before, inspiring creative design and innovative styling across cotemporary catwalks, fashion houses and retail shelves from high street to high end. The world of fashion is evoking hallmark works from the visual arts as inspiration to create standout designs in the rapidly homogenizing industry. With blossoming floral motifs, green palm shaped cut outs and woven wheat crafted straps, Australian shoe brand Wittner is the latest label to do this with their ‘Art of Style’ capsule collection, combining inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh’s works with this season’s shoe trends, to create truly unique must have styles.

The limited edition, four shoe collection is a collaboration between the century old fashion footwear label and the National Gallery of Victoria, in celebration of the largest collection of Van Gogh works to ever travel to Australia in the much anticipated “Van Gogh and the Seasons” exhibition, currently on display in Melbourne. The project, which has been in design and development for over seven months, draws its inspiration from Van Gogh’s admiration of the seasons and landscapes. To Van Gogh, the seasons held a deep meaning representing the circle of life in nature from bloom to death and this is an obvious theme in many of his most renowned paintings.

Wittner Product Manager Louise Patrick, says that naturally the focus on the seasons in the current exhibition inspired her to create four styles for the collection representing Summer, Winter, Autumn and Spring.

“There is a Van Gogh quote that I drew most of my inspiration from: ‘Spring is the fresh green of young corn and the pink blush of blossoms. Autumn contrasts the yellowed foliage with violet hues. Winter is the white of snow against its black forms… Summer is the contrast of blues and the golden bronze of the corn’” said Louise.

Inspired by this quote, each style takes on the colour palette of one of Van Gogh’s famous paintings. Spring style, Lente, is a feminine pink open-toed heel with a sweeping flower strap across the foot that encapsulates the florals of spring as inspired by Van Gogh’s Orchard in the Blossom. Summer style Été, embodies the warmth of the season and captures the beautiful fusion of greenery and wheat, as portrayed in Van Gogh’s classic Wheat field with Cypresses. Autumn style Herfst is a heavier look. The rich suede pump covered in hand-made leather flowers represents the combination of textures and colour that come with Autumn’s arrival, as inspired by the same deep hews in Van Gogh’s Vase with Honesty. Winter style Hiver, pins snowy white flowers to a rich combination of leather and suede in a classic boot shape inspired by Van Gogh’s Winter Garden.

Anticipating that the range would be launched in May 2017, the design team at Wittner were conscious of the fact that the pieces still had to be seasonally relevant as they would be displayed in a number of their flagship stores across the country. While the designs are interpretations of Van Gogh’s work, the collection also encapsulates some of the hottest footwear trends straight from European runways, making them the must-have statement piece for your wardrobe this season.

“Floral motifs are a huge trend for the coming Spring season and we decided to be first to market and launch this application in the ‘Art of Style’ collection. The colour palette of styles Herfst and Hiver is very relevant to the rest of the Winter 2017 Wittner collection. The deep wine colour in Herfst sits back with the berry tone for the season, and as Hiver is black and white it is very classic and timeless,” said Head Designer Louise.

Up and coming fashion blogger for JordyBlogs, Jordy Christensen agrees that the collection’s vivid colours and dramatic silhouettes are at the heart of this seasons trends and loves that the collection, whilst fashion forward, still presents signature styles. “The beauty to me is that they are still, at their core, really classic shoes. The Summery opened toe block heel sandals, a classic pointed heel and an essential black boot really make the perfect canvas for the trendier elements,” said Jordy.

“My favorite style from the collection is the Herfst Autumn pump. It is just such a great fusion of the most current trends including lace ups, the bold berry colour and the pointed toe, all very wearable art features that really exude Van Gogh’s essence,” Jordy added.

Art has served as a muse for the design team at Wittner for a number of seasons. From embroidered tapestries in Parisian cafes, to old paintings in French op shops to styles inspired by the Kinky Boots stage show, inspiration from unique art forms has allowed Wittner to produce cutting-edge in house designs that cannot be found at its competitors.

Head Designer Louise believes that globalisation and online shopping has led to increased consumer competition in Australia, meaning it is even more important to stock a variety of unique pieces exclusive to Wittner. “Our team always strives to draw inspiration from obscure areas and art has definitely been a big part of our inspiration for a few seasons now. Our product team is fortunate enough to be able to visit incredible galleries and spaces all around the world” she said.

This influence of Van Gogh’s paintings to Wittner’s ‘Art of Style’ Collection is just the latest in a long history of collaborations between art and fashion. Fashion theory expert and former Vogue Italy contributor, Dr Tiziana Ferrero-Regis can trace the historical background of fashion and art’s long standing relationship back to the time of Charles Worth, who elevated designs to an art form of its own. “In the 1800s Charles Worth, the first couturier and father of Haute Couture, promoted himself as an artist. He used to dress like Rembrandt and declared that he was an artist, not a dressmaker,” she said.

This tradition continued in the 1910s, with revolutionary French fashion designer Paul Poiret, whose designs were sought influence from various art forms. Poiret was inspired by fauvism, a style of painting that emphasises simplification and uses vivid colours. He also took inspiration from other art forms including the Ballets Russes, which influenced him to create his now famous lampshade dresses.  Dr Tiziana Ferrero-Regis believes that “art was used as a way to lift fashion out of being a feminine job and from being mere dressmaking to an art form in itself”.

The fusion of art and style has continued into today’s fashion scene with art being seen “as a point of difference amongst the global homogenisation and casualization of contemporary fashion”. This is more blatant than ever before, with many artist’s work appearing in the latest designs of global fashion houses. Renowned artist, Andy Warhol has had multiple collaborations with major fashion Houses including Versace and Dior, whilst the current Louis Vuitton Collection contains imitations of some of the world’s most famous paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci and Van Gogh on its handbags.

Louis Vuitton Brisbane

High end French brand, Louis Vuitton has also incorporated art into their latest collection of bags, as evident in the window display of their Brisbane store. Photo by Daniele Antonaglia.

Not only has art been a driving muse for the inspiration of fashion, but the hard work of designers is now in itself being recognised as an art form which is worthy of display in galleries. A number of fashion exhibitions pass through the National Gallery of Victoria’s doors each year celebrating that fashion can often be wearable art. Among those notable collections are The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Cat Walk, Viktor and Ralph: Fashion artists and a celebration of fine jewelry in Italian Jewels: Bulgari Style.  Later this year, the gallery will be home to The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haut Couture and will display 140 garments designed by Christian Dior Couture. Along with Van Gogh’s work, Wittner’s The ‘Art of Style’ Collection can be seen on display at the National Gallery of Victoria until the 8th July 2017.

 

 

 

 

Harris Andrews: Journey to the AFL

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By Daniele Antonaglia.

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With his heart pounding, sweat running down his face and hands tightly clutched to the ball, player number 31 takes his chance. Over 50 metres out from the post, he steps back readying himself for the kick. A sea of Lions jerseys roar as the ball glides through the centre goal in a moment the young player will never forget.  Just like that Harris Andrews scores his debut goal in the AFL.

The story of his swift rise to the top level of Australian football is one that every young player can only dream of as they take to the junior league field each Saturday, but for Harris Andrews, this has become his reality.

There is no question that Harris Andrews is a player to keep your eye on, in fact at over two metres tall he is difficult to miss. Watching him on the field, it is clear that he has natural instincts for the game, honed over 15 years of playing. His energy, speed and command of the ball along with his ability to use his height and launch himself into the air for key intercepts, has grabbed the attention of commentators and spectators. In his short time at the senior level of AFL, Harris has made a big impression on the game, earning himself a Rising Star Award nomination, but for him this is something he never imagined.

In a whirlwind of events, his journey from a high school student working at a fast-food take away, to Brisbane Lions draftee is what Harris describes as “a massive flash that went by so quickly”. Considering himself a late-bloomer in the game, Harris believes his level of play substantially improved after he got taller. “When I turned 16, I shot up, I grew a lot, and then was able to use my height in the sport. That helped me get noticed,” he said.

After showing his versatility in successfully playing both forward and defence, Harris was invited to join the Brisbane Lions Academy late in 2013, before being selected for the state team and eventually getting drafted to the Lions for the 2015 season. Harris made his debut earlier than expected, after a series of injures plagued the Lions side and he was then able to show everyone what he was capable of.

Raised in a football fond family, with his dad from AFL-crazed Victoria, Harris first put on the brown and yellow jersey for the Aspley Hornets at age five. He quickly developed a love for the sport on the field and in the stands, becoming a proud supporter of Essendon, something which he would learn to mention sparingly. At eight-years-old on the first day of a football camp in Brisbane, Harris in his Essendon gear found himself the easy target in amongst a pride of Lions jerseys. “There was about 200 kids there 199 were wearing Brisbane Lions jerseys and I was the only one not wearing one,” he recalls.

But there is no doubt now that Harris has the heart of a lion.

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The last two seasons have seen the Lions take a tumble down the ladder, but Harris remains optimistic for the year ahead. With a new coach at the helm, the club is set to take a new direction in 2017 which has already seen them claw themselves to a two-point victory in their first game against the Gold Coast Suns. For Harris, the excitement and surrealism of getting on the field was fine in his first years, but now “the novelty has worn off” and he is “pumped for the team to bring home some wins”.

Harris’ unwavering commitment to his fitness is visibly obvious and despite his height he has worked hard at the gym to add bulk to his frame. A strict “no bad food diet” and intense training five days a week sees him continually improving his physical form. Harris maintains that one of his biggest struggles since joining the club was watching his friends turn 18 and not being able to go out and celebrate with them, but at the end of the day he knows he is in a job that will hopefully set him up for life.

Harris has given up a lot, “On weekends when his friends are out at parties, he is always training,” says his younger brother Alex Andrews. “He’s sacrificed a lot to get to where he is and is willing to make those little sacrifices to set him apart from the rest,” adds longtime friend Aaron Bell, with whom he used to play basketball.

While Harris’ life has certainly changed, his friends and family maintain that he has stayed humble despite his success and is still the same down-to-earth, competitive guy, keen to throw some banter around with his mates. “He hasn’t changed, he still loves a sneaky supreme pizza, it’s just annoying to verse him in anything physical now because he’s too big,” said Aaron. When asked to describe Harris as a friend, one of the words that Aaron brings up was ‘selfless’. While he is not at home as often as before, his brother Alex also maintains that despite seeing Harris less since he moved out, they spend a lot more “quality time” together.

Harris represents the new generation of player, he is fast on the field, yet also focused on a future after football. Under no illusion that his AFL career will last forever, Harris is preparing for the next step in his journey and is studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the Australian Catholic University. “You don’t want to reach the end of your football career in 10 years and go jeez what am I doing now,” he says.  At only-20-years old Harris is proud to be in the settlement process of purchasing his first property, “it’s actually going into settlement in the next couple of weeks”.

Whether they like it or not, professional athletes are public figures and along with that comes the microscope of the media and the pressure of being a role model. Harris understands the impact that sportsmen can have on young kids, looking up to many AFL players himself as a young boy. “It’s very important that kids have good role models and that professional sports people, live up to that,” he said. With his teammates, Harris enjoys inspiring the next generation, visiting the kids at local schools and clubs. The kids, wide-eyed and excited, often ask “how do you become a professional player”, to which Harris responds in the only way he can. “If you work hard and dream big anything can happen.”

Fate drives the Fast and Furious franchise to world domination

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By Daniele Antonaglia.

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The Fate of the Furious brings more cars and more action to the franchise. Source: Screenshot from Universal’s Fate of the Furious trailer.

The Fate of the Furious has sped to the top of the global box office earning a record breaking $US532.5 million worldwide in its opening weekend. The eighth instalment in the Fast and Furious franchise raced past the $529 million record set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and soared well above other top global openings from Jurassic World and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Despite this success, the idea that a movie from the Fast and Furious franchise could break records set by the likes of Star Wars and Harry Potter is something that even the most optimistic analysts would have considered impossible when the franchise began 16 years ago. What makes The Fate of the Furious’ opening weekend record truly unique, is the unprecedented level of growth that the franchise has had to achieve over its seven sequels to become the box-office breaking phenomenon it is today.

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This infographic presents the four films with the largest global opening weekends ever and also presents the total Global Box office of the first film in  each franchise. Whilst the Harry Potter, Star Wars and Jurassic Park series have been raking in phenomenal amounts of money since their first film, the Fast and Furious franchise began with a comparatively low box office. Its box office has grown exponentially to achieve this record.

With humble beginnings in street racing The Fast and the Furious, released in 2001, was inspired by a 1998 Vibe Magazine article documenting the real life racing scene on the streets of New York. Starring Vin Diesel as elite street racer, Dominic Toretto and Paul Walker as the lead-footed undercover cop Brian O’Connor, the movie went on to become a modest success grossing $207 million on a budget of $38 million.  Since then, the Fast and Furious franchise has become one of the biggest and most unexpected success stories in Hollywood with its total box office today standing at almost $4.5 billion. Growing with each new addition, every film in the series, with the exception of 2006’s Tokyo Drift, boasts significant global box office growth from its predecessor. In fact, the franchise’s seventh instalment Furious 7 easily out-grossed the total takings of the franchise’s first four films combined.

Whilst the series has always had a strong following in the United States, the performance of its more recent additions, show that its huge success has stemmed from enormous audience growth in markets outside of Hollywood’s homeland. This is clear in the way that 70% of the first film’s total takings came from the United States compared to less than 24% for Furious 7. Exponential growth in foreign markets saw the Fate of the Furious open number one in all of its 63 markets so far, including record openings in 17 of those. Clearly, the franchise has connected strongly with audiences across the globe and this can be put down to its truly diverse cast of multi-ethnic, big name stars. It is no surprise that audiences connect more closely to films when they see themselves being represented and with Latinos, Asians, African Americans and Brits among those at the helm of this franchise, global audiences have become part of the strong family that the films represent.

Diversity has been clear since the title film in 2001, which turned the tables on the traditional Hollywood cast. Set in the multiethnic streets of blue collar Los Angeles, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor is the only blue eyed, blonde hair guy in sight. Along with ethnic diversity, it was established early on that the lead women in this franchise were as tough as the men that they stood alongside. Proud Latina Michelle Rodriguez was introduced playing the role of Letty Ortiz, Dom’s girlfriend and a skilled racer herself, who we later learn can throw a serious punch. Along with Dom and his sister Mia, played by Jordana Brewster, we see the emergence of a tight-knit family who are prepared to ride and die for each other and the development of a family code that would become synonymous with the franchise.

Two years later in 2003, 2 Fast 2 Furious saw the addition of another powerful woman to the franchise, in the form of witty Customs Agent Monica Fuentes, played by Eva Mendes. With the addition of another Latina to the series, the film continued to grow strong with Hispanic audiences. While Vin Diesel was absent from this sequel, two series regulars were added, in the characters of computer geek Tej and Brian’s quick mouthed friend Roman Pierce. Portrayed by rappers Ludacris and Tyrese, the cast began to reflect multicultural America. By the time of Furious 7’s release casting decisions like these helped draw diverse opening weekend audiences in the United States with 37% being Hispanic and 24% African American.

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A diverse cast. From left to right: Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Tyrese, Ludacris and Jordanna Brewster. Source: Image of a signed Furious 7 collectors plaque, taken by Daniele Antonaglia.

Tokyo Drift, saw the franchise take a detour with a whole new cast of characters and had audiences wondering where the movie fit in. Taking a slight dip at the box office, it was not until the seventh that its connection and relevance to the rest of the franchise was truly understood. This film introduced another key member of Dom’s team in the character of Han, played by Sung Kang.  Set in Tokyo, this film marked the first of many foreign trips in the franchise and helped further establish the films fan base in Asia.

Over the next few films the franchise expanded from street racing to action heists and 007 type stunts from locations across the globe. From Commandeering a 20 tonne safe through the streets of Rio in Fast 5, to parachuting cars out of planes and driving Bugattis between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi, the laws of physics became no barrier to the insane stunts the films presented.

The films also saw an impressive line-up of new cast members adding action legends and proven box office draws Dwayne Johnson as DSS Agent Hobbs and Jason Statham as bad guy, Deckard Shaw. The addition of these two to the original cast led to some high testosterone punch ups and made for some thrilling entertainment. A number of other diverse additions were seen in Israeli actress and future wonder woman Gal Gadot, Puerto Rican singers Don Omar and Tego Calderon, Spanish actress Elsa Pataky, Academy Award winner Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron.

With great gains also came a huge loss and at the height of its growing success the franchise found itself at a crossroads after the death of beloved star Paul Walker. The way the loss was addressed in the films and by the cast made it clear that the strong family code promoted on screen was something that they also shared in real life. Underneath the racing and stunts the Fast and Furious has always been a series about the bonds of family and that is something that people from all corners of the globe can relate to.

This franchise has made audiences laugh often and cry unexpectedly. It has taken us places that we could have never imagined when watching Paul Walker eat that first tuna sandwich. Having amassed millions of fans across the globe, the franchise has proven to be a success story like no other.

With two more films slated for release the only question now is, where to next?

For the full box office details of films 1-7 see the infographic below.

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Brisbane closed for business as severe weather strikes

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By Daniele Antonaglia.

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At Toombul Shopping Centre flash-flooding caught drivers off guard. Photo by Daniele Antonaglia.

Brisbane was brought to a standstill today after widespread flash flooding enveloped much of South East Queensland in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, which has left a path of destruction down the Queensland Coast.

The Premier of Queensland, Anastasia Palaszczuk, announced this morning that schools from Agnes Water, down south to the New South Wales border, would be shut in an attempt to encourage Queenslanders to stay indoors.

Over 1000 schools, both public and private were closed and many universities including The Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland followed suit, disrupting the daily routine of many.

“I apologise for any inconvenience, but I don’t apologise for putting the safety of Queenslanders, families and children front and centre,” said Premier Palaszczuk in a press conference earlier today.

Workers across all sectors from retailers to barristers and businessmen were sent home leaving Brisbane’s CBD looking like a ghost town.

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Usually bustling King George Square is abandoned as city workers are sent home. Photo by Daniele Antonaglia.

Government employees were among those forced home, something which also occurred  during the Brisbane floods in 2011.

“They sent all non-essential personnel home. It was for the safety and wellbeing of the public and also to keep roads free for any response teams to use” said Patrick Falzon, a Queensland Government Employee.

Heavy rainfall saw some suburbs experiencing over 200 mm of downpour in less than 12 hours causing flash flooding across Brisbane.

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Flash flooding in the Northern suburb of Toombul. Photo by Daniele Antonaglia

From flooded parks at Bridgeman Downs to sunken cars at Toombul Shopping Centre, the wrath of Debbie continues to be felt.

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A park at Bridgeman Downs goes under after heavy rain. Photo by Daniele Antonaglia.

Community outraged after Brisbane City Council approves a 47-storey development near Customs House

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A controversial development next to the Customs House Precinct will pose threats to a century old fig tree (Pictured above). Photo by Daniele Antonaglia.

By Daniele Antonaglia.

Brisbane’s iconic Customs House and a historic fig tree on site are at risk, after the Brisbane City Council approved a 47-storey development next to the heritage listed Customs House precinct, without consulting the community.

The development, approved on the 23rd December 2015, permits Cbus Property to construct a skyscraper at 443 Queen Street that infringes council’s heritage guidelines which stipulate that only low-level developments should be approved to preserve the area’s rich culture.

The development’s approval relied upon the use of a relatively unknown transferable development rights mechanism that gave Cbus Property authorisation to develop without disclosing details or consulting the community during the project’s approval process.

Kirsten Lovejoy, Greens party candidate for central Brisbane, has questioned  the Council’s priorities in approving the development in this way.

“It’s outrageous the way they approved it, they didn’t consult the community at all which is something I think is very important,” Ms Lovejoy said.

“It is clear that the council’s drive to make a profit is undermining things that are important to the community.”

The sudden approval of the development without any community consultation has also led to anger amongst residents who believe the area, in particular the precinct’s 100-year-old fig tree, should be protected.

Tracy Stanley, a member of the Protect Customs House Precinct protest group, has voiced her concern with the proximity of the new development to the precinct and the damage it could cause to the century old fig tree.

“The development is set to be built a couple of metres out from the edge of the precinct, which is way too close and breaking the heritage listing guidelines,” Mrs Stanley said.

“At this proximity the fig tree will be physically damaged through pruning as it overhangs the area of future development, also in the future the car park of the development will be the same height as the tree and it will constantly be faced with toxic fumes and chemicals.”

Other issues raised because of this development include the obstruction of Customs House views and the diminishing of the area’s historical value.

There are concerns that the height of the proposed building will overshadow Customs House which acts as a cultural and historical beacon in Brisbane’s CBD.

Dr Robert Riddel, an architect involved in the restoration of Customs House and former Queensland Heritage Council Member, believes that heritage buildings are vital to the history of an area and subsequently, that the view of Customs House from areas of Brisbane CBD must be protected.

“Heritage buildings help to tell the story of a place and its past and define its identity,” he said.

“Customs House is a landmark in the city and views of landmarks need to be protected. Anything that prevents it being seen will be detrimental.”

The cause to ban this development has gained traction and an official petition has over 2000 signatures.

The offices of Councillor Vicki Howard and Councillor Amanda Cooper along with the Council media team were contacted to voice their views on the issue, however they were unable to respond.

Note: This article was written in June 2016 and further developments may have since occurred. Interviews are original content.