Image for What went right this week: Australia’s ‘healing journey’, plus more positive news

What went right this week: Australia’s ‘healing journey’, plus more positive news

Australia pledged to pay indigenous communities reparations, wildlife returned to Scotland’s rivers, and a life-extending cancer drug was approved for NHS use, plus more stories of progress (including a guide to taking climate action)

Australia pledged to pay indigenous communities reparations, wildlife returned to Scotland’s rivers, and a life-extending cancer drug was approved for NHS use, plus more stories of progress (including a guide to taking climate action)

Good news - Australia pledged reparations for indigenous people
Australia pledged reparations for indigenous people

The Australian government announced on Thursday that it will pay reparations to members of its indigenous population who were forcibly removed from their families as children. 

More than 100,000 indigenous children — known as the Stolen Generation — were taken from their families between the 1900 and 1970. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described it as a “great stain on our nation’s soul”.

Members of the Stolen Generation who are still alive will now be able to claim AU$75,000 (£39,800) in reparations. They will also be given support to address their health needs. 

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the reparations scheme was intended “to say formally, not just that we’re deeply sorry for what happened, but that we will take responsibility for it.”

The Healing Foundation, which represents indigenous communities, said the reparations were “a major step in the healing journey of Stolen Generations survivors”. It urged the government to provide trauma support to those affected as part of the scheme. 

Image: Aboriginal art. Credit: Esther 1721

A life-extending cancer drug was approved for NHS use
A life-extending cancer drug was approved for NHS use

Women with breast cancer in England will be able to access a new life-extending drug on the NHS, after health officials approved its for use this week. 

A major trial found that abemaciclib, in combination with another drug called fulvestrant, extended the lives of women with incurable breast cancer by seven months. Nevertheless, NHS officials rejected the treatment back in February on the grounds that it wasn’t cost effective at £2,950 for a packet of 56 tablets.  

However, this week the manufacturer of the drug, Eli Lilly, agreed to lower the cost of the drug for the NHS and the decision was reversed. The terms of the discount are confidential.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said the decision was “fantastic news for thousands of women with hormone receptor positive, HER2 negative incurable secondary breast cancer,” and that it would offer them “precious extra months”. 

Image: Angiola Harry

Sprat returned to the River Clyde in Scotland
Sprat returned to the River Clyde in Scotland

A small fish that plays a big role in the marine food chain has returned to the River Clyde in large numbers, according to a study by the University of Aberdeen. 

Researchers found that sprat, which is food for many other marine species, has increased its numbers 100-fold in the waterway since the late 1980s. Large concentrations of krill, which whales feed on, were also found. 

Like many rivers in the UK, the Clyde, which runs through Glasgow, has become heavily depleted due to pollution and overexploitation. However, life appears to be returning to the waterway, with benefits to the wider ecosystem. 

“Sprat form a critical part of the marine food chain, and are vital for other larger fish such as cod and whiting, as well as other animals further up the food chain,” said Prof Paul Fernandes, a fisheries scientist, who supervised the study.

“It is fantastic to see these parts of the food chain recover. This should, in time, lead to recovery of the populations of the larger animals that feed on them.”  

Image: University of Aberdeen

A survey found that beavers are recolonising Scotland
A survey found that beavers are recolonising Scotland

A wildlife survey in Scotland revealed this week that beavers are also rapidly recolonising the country’s waterways, some 400 years after they were hunted to extinction in the UK. 

The census by NatureScot, a government conservation agency, estimated that there were now 1,000 wild beavers in the country, spread over 251 sites. Three years ago the animals had just 120 territories. 

Beavers have become synonymous with the rewilding movement, but their return has been controversial. Some farmers opposed their reintroduction, fearing they would flood their land; supports say the animals can actually prevent flooding, and boost biodiversity.

NatureScot was criticised this week after granting licenses for disruptive beavers to be shot. Conservationists said beavers that interfere with infrastructure should be relocated, not culled. 

Image: Moritz Becker

New coffee shops to help homeless people in UK and Ireland
New coffee shops to help homeless people in UK and Ireland

A social enterprise that uses profits from selling coffee to help homeless people find their feet is opening 55 takeaway outlets in the UK and Ireland.

Change Please trains homeless people as baristas, offering them a Living Wage job, plus help accessing housing, a bank account and mental health support.

This week the social enterprise announced that it will be taking over 55 ATM Coffee outlets in train stations, airports and hospitals. Its CEO, Cemal Ezel, said the expansion proves that “you can offer an amazing product and do good at the same time”.

Image: Fahmi Fakhrudin

AI could diagnose dementia in a day — research

Scientists have begun testing an artificial intelligence system that they believe could diagnose dementia after a single brain scan. It currently takes multiple scans and tests to identify the condition. 

Early diagnosis of dementia could help improve patient outcomes, as there are some drugs that can help slow its progression. 

Consultant neurologist Dr Tim Rittman, who is leading the study, with neuroscientists from Cambridge University, described the artificial-intelligence system a “fantastic development”.

Image: CDC

Climate crisis
An English moor was transformed into a ‘giant sponge’

In a week that saw the climate crisis brought into sharp focus, the completion of a peatland restoration project near Manchester had added significance. 

Peat bogs store twice as much carbon as the world’s forests, but release emissions when they are degraded, as many of the UK’s peatlands are. 

Holcombe Moor in the West Pennines is one of them, but not for much longer. Conservationists have spent the last six months sculpting 3,500 scallop-shaped damns into the moor to help trap rainwater, rewet the peat and promote plant growth. 

As well as sucking up carbon dioxide, the restored peatland will help prevent flooding and provide a habitat for rare birds. Read the full report here.

Image: National Trust 

Positive News published its guide to climate action

Monday’s IPCC report on climate change made for scary reading. Its authors warned that an urgent fall in emissions was needed to advert a climate catastrophe. The findings were described as a “code red for humanity”. 

Given the scale of the challenge, it’s easy to feel helpless. However, there are many things you can do to shrink your carbon footprint, hold polluters to account, and save yourself from despair. 

Enter the Positive News guide to climate action, which was published this week to provide inspiration. Read it here. 

Image: Mika Baumeister

An act of kindness helped an Olympian athlete win gold

As the curtain fell on the Tokyo Olympic Games last weekend, the Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment (pictured) revealed how an act of kindness helped him win gold.

After turning up to the wrong venue for his event, Parchment was bundled into a taxi by an altruistic volunteer, who sent him on his way with enough money to pay the fare. He arrived at the right stadium in time and won gold. 

Parchment then tracked down the women, known as Tiana, to say thanks, repay his debt, and give her a T-shirt. The Jamaican tourism ministry said it wanted to “reciprocate the kindness” by hosting her on a trip to the island. 

Image: Yann Caradec/Creative Commons
Main image: Uluru, Australia. Credit: Jason H

What went right previously

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