AFRICA (To drink or not to drink, that is the question)

Did you know that Africa is the second driest continent after Australia? True fact.

Water in any country is the “Root of Life” and a basic human right , but for many of the worlds most vulnerable people, water pollution is a daily crisis faced by millions.

Unfortunately, water pollution is a huge problem throughout the continent of Africa, and sadly the underlying cause of almost every other problem going on there as well.

Yes I know, it is important to note, that water pollution exists everywhere around the world, however, Africa still remains one of the most heavily polluted continents when it comes to water supply.

In Africa, it is such a widespread problem that not one of the countries within it, is free from water pollution, many suffer from a lack of water altogether.

Of the one billion poverty-stricken people who reside there, the majority do not have access to clean, safe water at all. That is the equivalent of 1 n 8 people on the planet.

It’s hard to imagine the impact these polluted water sources have on a person, until you take a look at the facts.

There are numerous reasons why poverty has become such an epidemic in Africa. It can be caused by political instability, ethnic conflict, climate change, and many other man made causes, but the one that stands out the most in this country is the most overlooked, and that is lack of access to clean drinking water.

In order for people to understand just how significant the problem is, lets take a look at just how many diseases can be spread through water contamination alone. Whilst there is an endless list of diseases that can be transmitted to a person via the water, these are the ones that the people of Africa must face on a daily basis:-


Whilst Malaria is spread by mosquitos who breed in unclean water supplies, it is pregnant women and children under the age of five who are a greater risk. Though Malaria can strike at any age.


 This is a disease that affects the liver and can cause fever, significant weight loss, diarrhoea and a lot of pain and discomfort to the person. Even though in countries such as Australia, The UK and USA they have the resources to treat the disease, people in developing countries don’t and often succumb to it.


 A person infected with Cholera will experience diarrhoea, vomiting, as well as leg cramps. The dehydration caused by cholera can lead to death very quickly.


 Once again, Dengue fever is spread by mosquitos, and again, the chances of coming down with it are much higher in places where mosquitos breed, such as in unsanitary water conditions. Symptoms include, rashes, extreme pain all over, headaches and high fever. Whilst it isn’t always fatal, it can lead to liver malfunction which is.


 Parasites love to breed in unsanitary conditions, Giardiasis, ringworm, trichinosis, hookworm, scabies, and many others are present in the waterways. Again the parasites may not cause death, but transfer from one person to another is likely. When both animals and people share the same water, they are consumed and the stomach and other various parts of the body become breeding grounds. Even if you don’t drink the water, but an animal you consume does, you are likely to become infected by water-borne disease and illness.

When people become ill, they usually dehydrate, and without access to clean water, have no other choice but to consume the very thing that is killing them in the first place.

It is estimated that one child dies every few seconds from water related illnesses in developing countries throughout the world. Frightening statistics.

There are something like 319 million people living in Africa who don’t have regular access to sustainable, clean drinking water. This is a huge number, which might be hard for you to actually comprehend. To put it into perspective, in 2014 the total population of the USA was estimated at 318.9 million. The number of people living in Africa without access to clean water is equivalent to the entire population of the USA.

In Africa, approximately around 650 people a day die from water-related diarrhoea. The majority of these people are babies, pregnant women and the elderly.

Fourteen countries in Africa are affected by water stress, and they predict that in the next ten years, they can add another 11 to this group, which in turn means that almost half of the countries across the continent will not have access to enough water to sustain the people who live there.

Now lets look at the waterways in the Country. Of the rivers and lakes that exist throughout Africa, eighty of these are shared buy more than one country at a time. When so many people rely on one single source of water, it can lead to political and environmental issues. For instance, if one country decides to dam up a river, then people in another country that rely on that same water source experience the ramifications of such and act.

The environment is suffering badly also. Endangered species that can only survive in African conditions are slowly dwindling because of the disappearing and contaminated water source.

In Niger River alone, there are 20 species of fish and mammals that should be thriving and that don’t exist anywhere else in the world, however their numbers are depleting annually. Although conservation efforts are being made to rescue these animals, it’s believed that some of them will soon disappear forever.

To make matters worse, the infected fish and animals are consumed by the population. Adults have to face the decision every day, not only for themselves but their children, die from starvation and dehydration, or literally put their lives in the hands of mother nature. The risks of drinking contaminated water are just as severe as the risk of drinking no water at all.

Water Aid Australia, are forging ahead in leaps and bounds, to combat the problems in Africa.

To them the solution is surprisingly simple. Long lasting water projects such as wells, dams, rain catchments, etc can be built which will provide a reliable source of safe water to consume. However the villagers need to be training in hygiene practice to ensure that it remains clean and free of disease.

The water projects aren’t expensive to set up, and the impact they can have on a community is priceless. But to set them up takes money. Money clearly a country such as Africa, doesn’t have, so this is where the generosity of others comes to hand.

If you can help assist this project in any way, please log onto

Would you deprive your own child of fresh drinking water????



There is so little known about Haemophilia , a genetic condition that causes abnormal bleeding.

Derived from the Greek words ‘Haima’ (blood) and ‘philia’ (a tendency toward) Haemophilia is a bleeding disorder caused by a gene mutation. Your blood doesn’t clot properly, and this makes it difficult to control bleeding.

When most people cut themselves, your bodies natural reaction is to heal the wound. Within seconds of the injury, cells in the blood (known as platelets) clump together around the wound.

It is these platelets along with proteins, calcium and other clotting factors come together to form a clot. Think of it as a plug that covers the wound to stop the blood from running away, just like water in the tub.

As a rule, haemophilia generally effects only males, but in very rare cases, it has also been found in females.

When a blood vessel is injured, special proteins in your blood called ‘clotting factors’ act to control blood loss by plugging or patching up the injury. If you have lower than normal levels of a clotting factor, then you are termed a haemophiliac.

Some people have a mild form of haemophilia, whilst others are far more severely affected.

There are two types of haemophilia:-

  • Haemophilia A (also called classical haemophilia) It is the most common type. It is caused by lack of clotting factor 8, which results from a mutation of gene F8.
  • Haemophilia B (sometimes called Christmas Disease) Is caused by lack of clotting factor 9, which results from a mutation of gene F9.


Most people who suffer from haemophilia have a family history of bleeding problems.

  • Easy brusing from an early age
  • Bleeding for no obvious reason, especially in joints and muscles
  • Greater than normal bleeding following injury or surgery
  • Abnormally heavy bleeding either after child birth or during menstruation.

Although bleeding usually becomes apparent during infancy, some children don’t show any symptoms until they begin walking or running.


If you suspect you have haemophilia, a simple blood test can measure the levels of clotting factors. These tests can show the type and the severity of the disease. Genetic testing can confirm a diagnosis of haemophilia, however a gene mutation can’t always be found.

Even though haemophilia is a rare condition, you are not alone. Australia currently has around 2,600 people diagnosed with the disease.


Below is the story of 17 month old Lachlan Gracey, one of the many sufferers. Lachie has an unresolved gastrointestinal bleed and his doctors can’t figure out what is causing it.

Brisbane parents Shannon and Charles Gracey, have to be more vigilant than most when it comes to looking after their son. Any slight brusing or swelling could result in an urgent dash to hospital.

Shannon always knew there was a 50-50 chance of passing on the disorder when she fell pregnant and it was confirmed in an ultrasound that she was expecting a boy. You see, her grandfather also had Haemophilia and passed away at the tender age of 42. Usually the females are the carriers and pass it onto their sons. The gene can also be passed onto a daughter who then also becomes a carrier.

Lachie’s factor level is only nine per cent. This indicates he is classified as mild, however there are still risks if he was to have a big fall and if that fall was to cause internal bleeding.

In the event Lachie suffers a severe bleeding episode, one of the first obvious signs is “Malena”, this when his parents see a black tar like faeces. Lachie will then rapidly decline, becoming lethargic, his complexion will turn grey and then he vomits blood. When this happens, Lachie is rushed into hospital for urgent blood transfusions and factor treatment via a drip for anywhere up to a week.

A less severe episode still requires a trip to hospital, and a possible admission for factor treatment.

With Lachie’s health a constant worry, his parents are planning on taking him to Canada, the headquarters of the “World Haemophilia Federation” where a huge amount of very positive research is being done. They are hoping to get a better insight into new developments in the treatment of haemophilia and how this can assist Lachie in his ongoing care now and in the future.

A “GO FUND ME” account has established and the money raised will go towards some of the travelling costs, and appointments/treatment for set out for Lachie. The majority of funds will go into making a documentary to help raise awareness of Haemophilia, and those who suffer the consequences of having it. Through the generosity of the general public, the tally is just over $10,000 but more funds are needed.

Please watch the short video and all donations are most welcome no matter what size the contribution.  Simply just go to and follow the prompts.

From Lachie’s family and friends, thank you for your support.

Melbourne International Singers Festival is proud to present Fantastic Festival Concerts on Sunday June 11th

GALA Festival Concert #1

5.00pm – 6.30pm

Featuring the spectacular Divine Divas of Sunbury conducted by Adam Przewlocki, Musica (Queensland) conducted by Melissa Gill and Men Aloud! Conducted by Dr Jonathon Welch AM

GALA Festival Concert #2

8.00pm – 9.30pm

Featuring Co-cheol, award winning a cappella quartet with spine tingling harmonies taking you on a journey to the Celts and beyond, and THECHO!R one of Melbourne’s most exciting non-auditioned choirs, created and conducted by Dr Jonathon Welch AM

Tickets at

1 ticket: Standard $24.90 / Concession $21.90 / student or child $16.90
2 concert package: Standard $44.90
NB Transaction and booking fees may apply

Proceeds from the Festival support the School of Hard Knocks providing arts and cultural programs to the vulnerable and marginalised in our community. Please check our website for information about the Festival and the work of the School.

Enquiries Call 0419 337 283 or email

School of Hard Knocks

Find us on Facebook and Twitter

Free to the Public Information & Support

Evenings for Family & Friends of Drug or Alcohol addicted loved ones


Support & Education Evening for Families and Friends Affected by Drug or Alcohol Addiction

The First Step Program is proud to announce a series of Information and Support evenings tailored towards families and friends of those affected by Drug and Alcohol Addiction.

These evenings will seek to provide a forum for families and friends to build support networks and to acquire insight and coping skills for dealing with those affected by Drugs and Alcohol.  Evenings will include the opportunity for group discussion and problem solving.

Thursday April 20th, 5-7pm:         What is addiction and what are the treatment options? Medical perspectives.  Presented by Dr Peter Wright.   Discussion facilitated by John Chellew, Social Worker

Thursday May 25th, 5-7pm:         Coping strategies.  Implementing boundaries, reducing conflict and improving communication.  Facilitated by John Chellew, Social Worker

Thursday June 22nd, 5-7pm:       Addiction and the Law.  Presented by First Step Legal Service Principle Lawyer, Tania Wolff.  Discussion facilitated by John Chellew, Social Worker       

Where:                                                 First Step Medical Clinic

                                                                42 Carlisle Street,

                                                                St. Kilda VIC 3182

Cost:                                                      FREE OF CHARGE

                                                                *note places strictly limited, if you are unable to attend please provide 48 hours notice so that your place may be allocated to someone else in need.

Bookings:                                            03) 9537 3177 or

Included:                                             Light refreshments

Places are strictly limited and will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis.  

Run by The First Step Program. 

Supported by the City of Port Phillip Community Grants Program.

(insert First Step logo) (insert City of Port Phillip logo)

There’s cause for celebration and concern in how Australians are giving to charity

Roughly 60% of donors to Australian charities give on the spur of the moment

Some 80.8% of adult Australians – 14.9 million of us – contributed financially to charities and non-profit organisations in 2015-16. At A$12.5 billion, total giving was well up from $4.7 billion a decade ago. The average donation of $764.08 was up too in real terms, by $210.16.

However, the percentage of people donating dipped from 87% over the same period. Annual data on tax-deductible donations tells a similar story, underlining the concern about a flatlining future for Australian charities if fewer people donate.

Trends emerging from the Giving Australia 2016 study, previewed last December, are cause for both celebration and concern.

Volunteers giving more

Some Australians are doubly generous, giving their time and their dollars. This link between volunteering and donating was clear in the Giving Australia research.

Those who both gave and volunteered donated nearly twice as much on average as givers who did not volunteer ($1,017.11 compared to $536.69).

An estimated 43.7% of Australians volunteered an average of 2.5 hours a week, and a median of 55 hours over the year. This was up from 44 hours in 2005.

Virtual volunteering is on the rise. Approximately half of all charities had a volunteer program offering virtual opportunities – with nearly two-thirds of this via mobile phone.

Larger businesses giving more

In 2015-16, businesses gave a total of $17.5 billion. This was made up of:

$7.7 billion in community business partnerships (80% from large businesses);

  • $6.2 billion in donations; and
  • $3.6 billion in (non-commercial) sponsorships.

Even though they make up just 0.2% of Australian businesses, larger businesses were more likely to give, and in greater amounts. They now commonly report seeing their contribution to their surrounding communities as an ethical obligation.

‘Planner donors’ giving more

Some people give on the spur of the moment. This applies to roughly 60% of donors.

Others consider, plan and deliberate about their giving. Some sign up to give in a sustained way month by month. Others might sit with their children and plan what donations they will make as a family in the year ahead.

On average, these “planner donors” donate six times as much in a year as the impulse donor.

Technology and social media bypassing some charities

Technology and social media are increasing in both penetration and influence when it comes to charities. Crowdfunding, where people and their networks give directly to individuals and causes, has gathered momentum. This is part of a broader wave of direct citizen action.

In many cases, this results in charities being cut out of the giving process.

Technologically, the charitable sector runs the risk of being left behind. Nearly one-quarter of charities (23%) still do not have a website. Data security was a sector concern, as was the age profile and tech-savviness of non-profit leadership.

Philanthropy – stable priorities but changing processes

Nearly three-quarters (72.5%) of respondents to the survey of philanthropic foundations and philanthropists that was part of the study had not changed their preferred areas of giving in the past decade. These remained focused on social services, education and research, health, culture and recreation, and development and housing.

What has changed since 2005 are the processes of giving. Philanthropists and foundations are making greater use of initial expressions of interest and online technologies for applications and their review.

They are also proactively searching for non-profit organisations to fund, and increasing initial checks on non-profit organisations’ capacity to deliver.

Collective giving momentum

Group giving in its various guises has grown – whether as a family, school, workplace, or as one of the newer collective giving structures.

Examples of the new structures are giving circles – groups of people who pool their donations and decide together how to disburse them – like Women and Change, Impact 100 Sydney North, Impact 100 Fremantle, or popular dragons-den-style events such as The Funding Network and 10 x 10.

Givers are interested in the chance to share common values and to bond with like-minded people that collective giving offers. They also like learning about different non-profit organisations and community needs, and being able to multiply the impact of their giving.

What’s next?

Giving comes in many forms. Australians have differing discretionary amounts of money, time and goods to donate, so people give according to their means.

The impact of giving is immense in more than dollar terms, both for the recipient and for the giver. But the decreasing giving participation rate is a concerning trend that needs to be monitored.

This article was co-written by:
Wendy Scaife
[Associate Professor and Director, Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of Technology ]and
Christopher Baker
[Research Fellow, Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, Swinburne University of Technology]

Be inspired and make a real difference at Hand In Hand – a Celebration of Courage, Joy & Love!

Presented by School of Hard Knocks

Melbourne Town Hall, Saturday 10th December, 3pm

Do you long to listen to beautiful arias from your favourite operas, groove to gospel and swoon to classics that you know and love? Do you want to celebrate this Christmas just a little bit differently?

Hand In Hand, presented by the School of Hard Knocks seeks to raise funds for the School’s new women’s and men’s choral programs, No Excuses! and Men Aloud! singing out against family violence! “The School of Hard Knocks is so very excited and proud to offer these choir programs for such important causes and to help build positive physical and mental wellbeing through singing!” Dr Jonathon Welch, the Founding Artistic Director of the School of Hard Knocks said.

Gather your family, friends and colleagues together and come along. We would so very much welcome your support! Hand In Hand has a myriad of featured artists Liane Keegan, John Bolton Wood, XL ARTS, the Absolutely Everybody massed chorus, the award winning Footscray Yarraville City Band, THECHO!R, Hallelujah Gospel Chorus, Dr Kathleen McGuire and Dr Jonathon Welch AM.

A range of balcony and cabaret seating options, with or without refreshments are available. Tickets start at just $28 for adults and $23 for concession and under 18