Author: Allison Dimco
Ben Higgins, Youth Director at Alpha. tells Dave that young Australians are explore Faith including the Young Australian of the Year, Izzy Marshall who has backed the campaign to encourage more Christians to invite friends and family to explore faith through Alpha
Australians are most likely to go to friends and family (52%) or online (48%) to find answers to the questions they have about faith, beliefs and spirituality a new study has found. The poll, conducted by McCrindle Research on behalf of Alpha Australia also found that 1 in 9 Australians have wanted a conversation about Christianity in the past year, but have not been engaged.
The study, which surveyed 1,000 Australian adults, found that as well as approaching family and friends for answers, online communities (18%) and online content such as videos, talks and sermons (30%) were a key source of insight in their spiritual journey.
Melinda Dwight, National Director of Alpha Australia says, “We have known for many years the important role close relationships, such as friends and family have played in spiritual formation. But to see more than half of Australians would reach out to those close to them, is a significant reminder. In these past 12 months when connection has often moved online, as our lives have been disrupted, we have seen that the exploration of faith has continued through online connection.”
The survey also found that almost half of Australians (45%) had had a conversation about faith and beliefs with a Christian in the past 12 months. 1 in 9 Australians said they had wanted to have a conversation about Christianity but had not engaged with someone (11%).
Izzy Marshall, this year won the 2021 Young Australian of the Year – receiving her award recently from Prime Minister, Scott Morrision. Marshall is an advocate for Alpha and has seen how it’s led to honest discussions about her faith and faith in general in today’s society, she says, “You just need to host an Alpha and start a conversation. You don’t need an outcome, it just sparks an intellectual conversation, in a non-judgemental space. When I have hosted Alpha sessions with my friends, I have always been surprised at just how open they have been to hear and discuss issues of faith. It has never been about converting them, it was more about sharing why Christianity and faith is so important to me and the difference it has made in my life.”
A recent study found that 4 in 10 Australians were either extremely (20%) or very (18%) open to exploring different faiths and spiritual views and that younger Australians were more likely to be extremely or very open to these conversations (50% Gen Z, 44% Gen Y cf. 39% Gen X, 25% Baby Boomers; 31% Builders). Millions of people around the world have attended Alpha and despite recent reports of Christianity in decline in Australia in recent decades, Alpha Australia has seen over 500,000 attending since it launched.
Dwight concludes, “The results of the survey show that while we have often felt isolated and disconnected, many have continued to share their faith. The fact that 1 in 10 Australians didn’t have the conversation but were keen to do so, shows there remains a great opportunity, particularly in the online space, for churches and for Christians across the country to talk to those in their families, neighbourhoods and workplaces about Jesus and what the good news means for them.”
Garvan researchers have discovered a way to turn ‘energy-storing’ fat into ‘energy-burning’ fat – revealing a potentially much safer approach to treating obesity than current medication.
Dr. Yan-Chuan Shi tells Dave that in experimental models, the team targeted the Y1 receptor, which is found on fat tissues and helps store energy during starvation. They found that blocking the receptor increased body heat generation and reduced weight gain by 40%.
Obesity is a major public health issue which affects a third of Australian adults. Most current obesity medication targets appetite in the brain, which can have severe psychiatric and cardiovascular side effects and has seen many drugs withdrawn from the market.
This new therapy approach has the potential to be a safer approach, targeting obesity in the fat tissue directly.
Y1 receptor linked to obesity
Obesity and overweight are major public health issues, which in Australia are estimated to affect two thirds of all adults. The condition can lead to severe medical complications, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, and while lifestyle changes are essential to weight loss, medication is a crucial adjunct treatment option for some.
The authors of the study investigated Y1 receptors controlled by the molecule NPY, which is released in the body under conditions of starvation to help reduce energy expenditure and increase fat storage.
Surprisingly, the team discovered that Y1 receptors were produced at higher levels in the fat tissue of obese individuals.
The team then blocked the Y1 receptor using the experimental treatment BIBO3304 in a mouse model of obesity.
“In our study, we found that mice that were administered BIBO3304 and fed a high-fat diet gained about 40% less body weight over seven weeks than mice on a high-fat diet alone. This significant reduction of body weight gain was caused by an increase in body heat generation and reduction in fat mass,” says Dr Shi.
“Further, when we applied BIBO3304 to human fat cells isolated from obese individuals, we found that the cells began switching on the same genes involved in producing heat as the ones in mice, which suggests that targeting the Y1 receptor pathway may similarly increase fat metabolism and reduce weight gain in humans,” Dr Shi adds.
Targeting obesity at the source
“NPY is a metabolism regulator that plays a critical role during states of low energy supply, where it helps store fat as a survival mechanism. Today however, these advantageous effects can exacerbate existing diet-induced weight gain, leading to obesity and metabolic disease,” says co-senior author Professor Herbert Herzog, Head of the Eating Disorders Lab at Garvan.
The researchers say a crucial component of the study was to demonstrate that the experimental treatment BIBO3304 did not cross the blood brain barrier, and that the anti-obesity effects of blocking the Y1 receptor pathways occurred not via the brain, but specifically only in peripheral tissues.
“Most current prescribed treatments are aimed at reducing food intake by targeting the central nervous system. However, these can have significant psychiatric or cardiovascular side effects, which have resulted in over 80% of these medications being withdrawn from the market,” says Dr Shi.
“Our study is crucial evidence that blocking Y1 receptors in peripheral tissues without affecting the central nervous system is effective at preventing obesity by increasing energy expenditure. It reveals a new therapeutic approach that is potentially safer than current medications that target appetite,” says Professor Herzog.
“Our team and other groups have revealed further potential benefits in targeting the NPY-Y1 receptor system, including the stimulation of bone cell growth, and improvement in cardiovascular function and insulin resistance,” he adds. “We hope that the publication of our findings will lead to increased interest for exploring BIBO3304 and related agents as potential treatments for obesity and other health conditions.”
The SES is encouraging the Tasmanian community to join in the celebrations for Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day) on Wednesday 19 May.
SES Tasmania Director Andrew Lea tells Dave Across the State there are more than 600 volunteers give their time for the SES.
Wearing a lot or just a splash of orange for the annual national event is a simple way to show support for SES volunteers, which is also held in National Volunteers Week this week.
“Across the state there are more than 600 volunteers who give up their own time to train and respond to storms, floods, road crash rescue and search and rescue,” SES Tasmania Director Andrew Lea said.
“They are integral to our emergency preparedness and response. They
respond to incidents at all hours of the day and night, sometimes missing important family occasions in order to provide assistance.”
Within the last year dedicated Tasmanian SES volunteers have spent in excess of 10,700 hours responding to a range of natural disasters and
incidents, helping to keep the community safe.
SES volunteers also commit to many hours of training, maintaining their skills and ensuring they are as prepared as possible for when an emergency occurs.
This year’s WOW Day will see Tasmanian locations at Wrest Point Casino Tower, Sandy Bay, Paranaple Centre, Devonport, Burnie Council Building, Burnie, Huon Valley Hub, Huonville, Leven River Bridge, Ulverstone, SES North West Regional Headquarters, Burnie, TasRail Train, and SES State Headquarters, Hobart will be donned in orange for the occasion. SES volunteers will also abseil down the Wrest Point Casino Tower on Wednesday.
For more information about WOW Day, visit www.wowday.com.au/tas
The Honourable Elise Archer MP, Attorney-General MP, Minister for Justice, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Building and Construction, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Heritage representing The Honourable Peter Gutwein Premier of Tasmania announced Kaytlyn Johnson as the prestigious Premier’s Young Achiever of theYear Award winner, who was selected from the ten category winners.
Dave chats with Kaytlyn who firstly won the First National Real Estate Leadership Award from a strong field of young achievers and was presented by Ray Ellis, CEO, First National Real Estate.
The winners were announced last Friday in the Tasman Room at Wrest Point.
Kaytlyn Johnson, 19, of Lapoinya hopes to inspire Indigenous Women. Kaytlyn was selected as one of seven Student Ambassadors, as part of the celebration of 150 years of Public Education in Tasmania. She was a key member in “Project O” – a group of young women advocating for those without a voice. They held a ‘Colourathon’, which raised over $12,000 for women and children experiencing family violence. Kaytlyn was co-president of the Student Executive Council in high school and was the 2018 Tasmanian Indigenous Girls AFL Team captain.
Receiving an ATAR of 96.4 in Year 12, she was accepted into the University of Melbourne and awarded the Chancellor’s Scholarship.
The ten category winners are:
• Bryce Taylor, 21 of Railton – Colony 47 Transition to Work Award
• Bianca Templar, 26 of Ravenswood – Dental South First Nations People Achievement Award
• Kaytlyn Johnson, 19 of Lapoinya – First National Real Estate Leadership Award
• Lara Emmett, 21 of Ulverstone – Heather & Christopher Chong Community Service & Volunteering Award
• Liam Johnston, 18 of Underwood – Motors Tasmania Sports Award
• Beadoughs Donuts of Emu Heights – Qoin Small Business Achiever Award
• Holly Bowden, 28 of Sandy Bay – Spirit of Tasmania Tourism and Hospitality Award
• Grace Tame, 26 of Bellervie – Spirit Super Create Change Award
• Raw Strength Tasmania of Rokeby – St.LukesHealth Healthier Communities Award
• Jessica Benge, 28 of Port Sorell – TADPAC Print Service to the Disability Sector Award
Winners each received $1,000 thanks to prize patron, Axsys along with a magnificent trophy. Kaytlyn Johnson received an additional $2,000 from the Tasmanian Government and a State trophy.
Bron Shelverton was also announced as the People’s Choice Award winner and received an accommodation package from Free Spirit Pods including two nights’ accommodation for two in one of their luxury Pods, plus a $60.00 voucher to use at The Bruny Island Hotel.
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Luke and Susie Holt are a married couple who have come from unbelievably different backgrounds to form a home and work life together.
Marrying in 2003, Luke and Susie always had hopes of working together since strangely, they actually enjoy each other’s company!
Luke says, “We come from very different families. I was raised by Christian parents, but headed down a path of drugs and alcohol until I met Jesus at age sixteen.” Susie, on the other hand, wasn’t brought up in a Christian home, and discovered God through Girl’s Brigade, and experiences at Beach Mission.
They have spent 18 months working together delivering a breakfast radio program on Melbourne’s 89.9 LightFM, another 2 years on Juice1073 on the Gold Coast, and now on Ultra106five.
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