Israel, an extraordinary country populated by extraordinary peoples -75% Jewish and 21% Arabic. Resilient, resourceful, innovative.

We had been promising ourselves a visit since 1991 when our travel plans to attend a wedding in Jerusalem were thwarted by the beginning of the first Gulf War. So, finally, we made it to the Promised Land in October 2018 … enchanting us with a multitude of warm and wondrous memories; answering several long-standing questions about the Middle East; but, leaving us with anxiety about the medium and long-term future of the State of Israel.

Our trip was aided and abetted by our travelling companions, long-standing Jewish friends from Melbourne, who had visited Israel many times during the past 50 years. They organised a local Israeli guide, an historian, who answered our weird and left field questions, at every step along the way. Plenty of planning ensured that we saw and did all that we wished, much of it off the traditional tourist path.

The opt out period for withdrawing from the My Health Record has been postponed for a further three months. This is the third delay in the implementation of the scheme to grant all Australians a default, although initially blank, online health record.

The scheme was first scheduled to commence in mid October 2018 after an initial three month opt out period. Health Minister Greg Hunt has acceded to pressure from the privacy lobby to delay the implementation until 31 January 2019.

The Federal government has announced funding of $556,000 for a North Coast Relapse Prevention Aftercare Service to be run by the well-regarded, not-for-profit organisation The Buttery.

The aim of the program is to support people who have been treated for alcohol and/or drug dependence, including prescription opioid dependence, and could relapse if not appropriately supported.

The Australian Senate’s Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic has tabled a report with 22 recommendations including the need for a government tax on sugary drinks, mandated Health Star Ratings on food packaging and a ban on junk food ads on television until 9.00pm.

Nothing short of these measures will be effective in helping reduce Australia’s alarming obesity rates - 63 per cent of adults and 27 per cent of children aged 5 to 17 are overweight or obese - according to the multi-party committee, chaired by GP and Greens leader Dr Richard Di Natale.

One Hundred Years of Dirt

One Hundred Years of Dirt
Rick Morton
Melbourne University Press - 191pp

Although relatively short this memoir by Rick Morton comes across as a number of books in one, mostly very moving and something of a wake-up call for those who would discriminate against rural dwellers, people of differing sexualities and those with mental health conditions.

The author, who rose from dirt poor Queensland roots to become a senior journalist with The Australian, fits all three categories and harbours understandable anger for many of his life experiences.