A British study has found that heavy drinking triples the risk of dementia and most early cases of the disorder are caused by alcohol misuse, the largest study of its kind concludes. Scientists said that severe alcohol misuse could directly cause brain damage but that the priority now was to pin down exactly what level of daily drinking increased the risk of dementia. While some research has linked heavy drinking to dementia other studies found that moderate levels of alcohol might protect against the disease. In the latest study researchers looked at people with a hospital diagnosis of alcohol dependence or other drink-related conditions among 1.1 million people with dementia.


Dependence is defined as craving or preoccupation with alcohol drinking despite clear harmful consequences. Drink-related disorders were the lifestyle habit most strongly related to having dementia, higher even than smoking and high blood pressure, they reported in The Lancet Public Health. Not only were problem drinkers 3.3 times as likely to get dementia, but the majority of the 57,353 cases in which the disease appeared before the age of 65 were linked to alcohol, they conclude. Michael Schwarzinger, of the Translational Health Economics Network, who led the study, said: “Our findings suggest that the burden of dementia attributable to alcohol use disorders is much larger than previously thought.”


“This suggests that heavy drinking is a major risk factor for all types of dementia” Schwarzinger said. He said that the link was “likely a result of alcohol leading to permanent structural and functional brain damage”. Alcohol is implicated in about 8% of all dementia cases, the study suggests, rising to 57% of early-onset disease. Every year more than 200,000 people in Britain develop dementia and, with no cure, preventing the condition is our best hope. Tara Spires-Jones, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “There are other studies that indicate that moderate amounts of red wine may actually protect against developing dementia, however it is crystal clear that alcohol abuse is bad for your brain.”


Sara Imarisio, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said that the findings “lend even more weight to calls for people to drink within recommended guidelines. This study only looked at the people who had been admitted to hospital due to chronic heavy drinking, and doesn’t reveal the full extent of the link between alcohol use and dementia risk. “Previous research has indicated that even moderate drinking may have a negative impact on brain health and people shouldn’t be under the impression that only drinking to the point of hospitalisation carries a risk.” Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This study doesn’t change the advice to stick to no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.”


Clive Ballard, of the University of Exeter, said that researchers needed to pin down whether there was a clear level at which alcohol became harmful. Julie Breslin, of Addaction, who runs a project targeting drinkers over 50, said: “With more than 25 per cent of the adult UK population exceeding recommended weekly alcohol guidelines, it is imperative that this link is made clear to the public so they can make informed choices to reduce their dementia risk. Alcohol consumption and related harms are increasing in older adults but reducing in younger people, and as our ageing population grows we may start to see conditions such as alcohol-related dementia become more common.”


Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Church and religious organisations have told the federal government it should extend its compensation scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse to include those who have been convicted of serious crimes. A joint submission by the Anglican Church, the Uniting Church and the Salvation Army to a federal government committee examining the scheme said extending it would mean “all survivors are eligible for redress”. “It is well known and recognised by the royal commission that some survivors, as a result of their abuse, have engaged in abusive conduct themselves, including criminal conduct. It would be unfair that such persons are ineligible for redress,” the submission said.


The redress scheme was a central recommendation of the royal commission which handed its report to the government last December and will offer up to $150,000 to survivors and enable personal apologies from offending institutions. Survivors will have to sign a statutory declaration to get access to the funds. The federal government would like the scheme to begin on July 1 this year. But the scheme as proposed by the Turnbull government excludes anyone convicted of sex offences, or sentenced to prison terms of five years or more for crimes such as serious drugs, homicide or fraud offences.


Survivor groups have argued this will prevent many of the estimated 60,000 people who were abused from receiving compensation. “If the government continues with this policy, then they are complicit with allowing the churches, charities and state governments to not pay for the crimes committed against these victims,” the submission from victim support group, the Care Leavers Australasia Network, said. “If these institutions had cared properly for these children, many may not have committed crimes against society.” The commission found 61.8% of survivors were abused in Catholic institutions,  followed by 14.7 per cent in Anglican institutions and 7.3 per cent in Salvation Army institutions.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced he will issue a national apology to survivors of child sexual abuse later this year. The government will consult a “survivor-focused reference group” to help shape the apology which will come 10 years after Kevin Rudd offered an apology to members of the stolen generation. The parliamentary committee will hand its report on the redress scheme to the federal government shortly.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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The number of suspensions handed out at NSW primary schools has increased by 10 per cent in two years and students in south-western Sydney are being suspended more than four times as often as students in other parts of the city. Across NSW primary and secondary schools, 65,610 suspensions were issued in 2016, down from 66,020 in 2014,  the latest figures from the NSW Department of Education show. Primary school suspensions in NSW have risen by 10 per cent in two years.  More than 7540 primary school suspensions were issued in NSW in 2016, up nearly 10 per cent from 6860 suspensions in 2014.


The number of primary school suspensions has also outstripped the growth in kindergarten to year 6 enrolments of 4.1% over the same period. Changes at the primary school level in the past decade have put more pressure on teachers to lift student and school performance, and may have led to harsher disciplinary practices, according to Linda Graham, leader of the student engagement, learning and behaviour research group at the Queensland University of Technology. “Standardised testing and things like MySchool mean schools are engaging in gate-keeping processes to deal with the groups they have,” said Professor Graham, who has been researching disciplinary practices since 2005.


“There’s enormous pressure going all the way down to kindergarten to get kids ready for NAPLAN and primary schools are tending to become less inclusive and less flexible.” When looking at both primary and high school suspensions, schools in south-western Sydney recorded more than 9560 short and long suspensions in 2016, which is nearly four times more than any other part of Sydney.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Join the global conversation, hear the stories, be inspired and equipped to advance the gospel in your town/city. Movement Day Australia is being held at the Sydney Congress Hall on May 1-2, 2018. Special guest speaker Roger Sutton will share stories from the UK where God is moving in over 100 cities. This two-day conference is for pastors, missional leaders, market place leaders, intercessors and all who want to be involved in the proclamation of the gospel in word and deed to their communities. You will hear about what it means to collaborate with other Christian leaders from other denominations, backgrounds and spheres to reach your community with the gospel message. To find out more, visit or register for the gathering at:

Source: One Heart

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