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NSW, Australia – top 3 places to go for $2.50

By Olivia Morris,  4 June, 2016


The Opal card has been a recent hot topic of discussion with various crackdowns and changes to fares but one of the hidden gems of the scheme is frequently overlooked. All day travel for $2.50 on a Sunday. 

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View of the Blue Mountains from Sublime Point Lookout in Leura. One of the many places you can go to for only $2.50 on a Sunday in NSW. // Olivia Morris

You may be thinking: “Travel for $2.50? That is impossible!” Well, that is where you are mistaken. The Opal card scheme in New South Wales enables anyone to go anywhere in the state on a train, bus or ferry for $2.50 on a Sunday. It is a fantastic way to encourage people of all ages to explore what NSW has to offer.

The cap for Sunday travel was implemented in 2014, two years after the Opal card scheme was put into effect. Prior to this, only pensioners and travellers with children were eligible for the cap.

“The Sunday $2.50 cap has been a huge success. You only have to look at the numbers,” a spokesperson from Transport for NSW said. On average in 2015, 86,000 Opal cards used the Sunday cap every month and numbers are only increasing. In the last four weeks alone there was an average of 146,000 Opal cards that use the Sunday cap.

Lately, there has been widespread negative coverage of the Opal card scheme. Back in March, “Opal hacking“. More recently in May, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced an end to free travel after eight paid journeys, instead a 50 per cent discount will take place after eight journeys. These changes will commence in September.

One thing that is not changing, however, is the Sunday $2.50 cap which is great as enables so many people to explore this wonderful place. NSW is home to numerous natural attractions, both inland and coastal, and Australia’s most populous and oldest city, Sydney. No wonder this state is one of the leading destinations in Australia and in the entire southern hemisphere.

So, I decided to highlight three must visit destinations you can go to for $2.50 on a Sunday so you can use your Opal card to its maximum potential.

Royal National Park

The Royal National Park is a vast region of dense forests, cliffs and beaches, 29 kilometres south of Sydney. Hidden in the bush of the national park you’ll find lagoons, waterfalls, secluded beaches and breathtaking coastal trails. Surprisingly, it is one of the most overlooked locations in NSW despite being the oldest national park in the world.

One of the best treks to do is the Otford to Wattamolla coastal walk. Catch the train to Otford, around one hour from Sydney Central Station. The entire walk will take you around four hours. On your way you’ll pass Garie Beach, which is surrounded by some incredible cliff faces, lush greenery and a cluster of heritage-listed shacks built in the ‘30s.

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Garie Beach surrounded by plenty of lush greenery. // Olivia Morris

Whilst I was tackling this trail, I struck up a conversation with one fellow walker named Tony Fisher who owned one of the shacks, which are now holiday homes. When he visited he drove to the Royal National Park but he told me how refreshing it was to see people utilising the public transport and said, “I wish I could see more people doing the same thing”.

From Garie Beach, the walk to Wattamolla is around two hours with spectacular coastal views the whole way. Wattamolla is home to a freshwater lagoon in a secluded cove which flows out into a vast sandy beach. The lagoon also has a waterfall, which despite warning signs, you’ll most likely see people jumping from!

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Wattamolla Lagoon. // Olivia Morris

 

Northern Beaches 

Video of some of the Northern Beaches from Manly to Dee Why. // Olivia Morris

The northern coastal suburbs of Sydney, better known as the Northern Beaches, extend from Manly Beach right up to Palm Beach near Ku-Ring-Gai National Park.  It is an extremely sought after part of Sydney for families to live in and is an area which has seen property prices soar in recent years.  However, even if you don’t live there the Northern Beaches are still an absolute must to visit.

The Northern Beaches stretch over 40km with some beaches such as Narrabeen spanning over 3.6km and some just as little as 350m, like Freshwater.  There are plenty of walks connecting all the beaches and there is definitely no shortage of coastal views.

Couple, Alan and Elena Johnson regularly take advantage of the Sunday travel to go to the Northern Beaches. Elena said, “It’s such a great thing having the cap on a Sunday, especially for using the ferries. We just get the bus down to Circular Quay from the inner-west and jump on a ferry to Manly and work our way up to Curl Curl. We’re wanting to try to get the bus right up to Palm Beach and see what the walks are like up further north.  We’ll probably do that in the summer months though, as it’s getting a bit cold now!”

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Make use of the ferry discounts on Sundays. // Olivia Morris


Blue Mountains

Moving away from the coast lies the Blue Mountains, one of the most visited places not only in NSW but in the whole of Australia.  It’s hard to believe that these mountains are only two hours inland, west of Sydney and span over 11,000 squared kilometres. They are a listed World Heritage Area and has been regarded as one of the top places to visit in Australia by TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet.

Within the national park alone there is so much to do, it could take you a good few Sundays to even make a dent in covering it! The great thing is trains run almost hourly on a Sunday from Sydney Central Station and the journey to Katoomba is approximately two hours.

There is an endless list of things to do at the Blue Mountains so choosing where to start is understandably difficult. One of the most popular spots to visit is the Three Sisters which you can view by getting off the train at Katoomba and doing the Three Sisters walk. However, you also get some incredible views of the Blue Mountains by getting off the train at Wentworth Falls or Leura.

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The Three Sisters from Sublime Point Lookout. // Olivia Morris 

The Charles Darwin walk at Wentworth Falls is a popular walk as it is an easy one-hour stroll through the bush which then opens up to see the magnificent views of the mountains and waterfalls. The most impressive views I’ve come across at the Blue Mountains is at the Sublime Point Lookout in Leura and it definitely lives up to its name. You get 360-degree views of the Blue Mountains which go on forever and you can even see the Three Sisters in the distance.

Backpacker Jake Crosby has been to all three locations and all on Sundays. He said, “Obviously I’m on a budget since I’m a backpacker and travelling Australia can be really expensive. So, the Opal $2.50 cap has been great for coming to the Blue Mountains and going to other places in NSW.”

Journey from Sydney to Sublime Lookout Point in Leura, Blue Mountains National Park, NSW. // Olivia Morris

Whoever said travel has to be expensive?

For more information about Opal travel visit www.opal.com.au.

 

Does the Automatic Fire Alarm system work well?

Liu Xusheng (Lux)

A fire alarm was identified as false alarm in the University of Sydney / Lux
Continue reading “Does the Automatic Fire Alarm system work well?”

Missing express deliveries in Australia

There are three things in Australia you may never see: the old without caring, the traffic police on duty, and the couriers who are divinely appearing and demonically vanishing at your doors.

With regard to express delivery service in Australia, “terrible” becomes the most popular adjective. The news of complaining courier service are never suspended. Only in Sydney, partly estimated, hundreds of people lose their deliveries or get impaired parcels every year.

Moreover, sometimes, couriers passing by your house is not to deliver your parcel but leave an uncertain note. Maybe you would receive a post note tomorrow out of blue, just like me.

On 20th April, the landlady of my previous rental unit suddenly called me to fetch two post notes about a parcel. She thought maybe I bought something online with the wrong address. What amazed me is that there is no intact name and contact number on the two notes, and one only has a letter of “Y” on the name column. To figure out what happened, I went to the post office in Hurstville. After a persistent wait in line and search of a whole afternoon, the clerk ultimately told me there was exactly not any packages of mine, maybe the courier made a mistake. It took me a whole afternoon, and just replied “Maybe”.

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Believe you also have the similar experience that although waiting at home for the whole day, you still never meet the courier bringing your parcel knocking the door. Actually, in most situations, you would just find a note left in your mailbox and written by “Failure to deliver”.

“Maybe we and the couriers live in the two different Australia.” Larua Liu, an international student from the University of Sydney said, “Sometimes I stay at home all day, but I never heard the sound of knocking on the door, all the parcels I received in Australia are brought back by myself. It’s disgusting.”

Compared to you actually have a parcel to collect in the post office, it must be more annoying to receive a wrong letter. According to Yang Liu, another international student in USYD, “I’m not interested in shopping online, so generally, I don’t have dealings with couriers.” she said, “But what confused me is I received an email from the reception of my building. It said I had a parcel to collect. But the fact was I and the assistant sought every corner of the reception and got nothing finally.”

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According to the statement of the reception in Queen Mary Building where Yang lives, they actually received a note about Yang’s parcel from the Australia Post. “While, the courier merely wrote the wrong name.”

But why do we always miss the courier’s visit? Shortly before, a video about a Courier leaves note and runs rather than deliver parcel reveals the naked truth. It is about a Sydney mom Julie Salama who was waiting at home for a parcel from Australia Post. The same with Laura, Ms. Salama also received a note under the door. But when she checked the doorstep security camera footage and found the courier hadn’t even checked.

The video shows the courier walked to the door and dropped the note, before hurrying back to his van without knocking or ringing the doorbell, or carrying any parcel on his hands.

Thanks to the unquestionable evidence of the video, Australia Post had to apologize to Ms. Salama. But it expressed that although the parcel was sent through Australia Post, the actual delivery was outsourced to another courier company, StarTrack. “Apparently, this is shifting responsibility.” Laura said “the couriers are too lazy”.

For that, Dr. Glenn Morrison, Journalist and university lecturer, holds a different view. He met the similar situation before. “ It ever took four months to send a damaged book to me through the Australia Post.” Due to the huge workload, many workers of courier serviece do not treat parcels carefully so that the parcels often suffer damanges in varying degrees.

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He said “Indeed, Australian Post systems do have a lot of problems which actually needed to improve. But I don’t think the full necessarily lazy for the postmen themselves. I think they just do their job like anyone else. I think the system or sorting mail is probably more blamed. They are been under stuffed and very organized anymore. But I don’t really know. It may be a mystery.”

“The post offices are very good at explaining themselves to the customers. They are very secretive and protective of the systems.” Dr. Morrison added, “The customer relation is very poor.”

In terms of the reasons for the decline of Post Service, Dr. Morrison expressed that “I think Australia Post is under a lot of pressure. Because of the change of the technology, the web 2.0 . Most people email or Facebook message, or use the phone, very few people write letters anymore. So the Australia Post is under pressure to find new ways to earn money. And I think the service isn’t nearly as good as it used to be”.

What’s interesting is that things are totally opposite in China. Chinese couriers also do some trouble on recipients actually. For example, they will disturb your dream by knocking the door continuously in the early morning, or send messages to make you crazy until your Inbox is full.

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“Chinese couriers always pose an indomitable gesture on me. It is likely they couldn’t see the sun of tomorrow if I did not sign for the parcel today.” Laura giggled, “but compared to the Australian couriers always ignored me, I prefer the couriers coming to bother me, actually.”

In view of this, the couriers in Australia and China can learn something from each other.

By Yidi Zhang (Edith)

SID: 450108042

 

International Students Fight for A Voice on USYD Campus

How do local students think about their overseas fellow classmates?

(Video: Yang Liu)

 

 

 

At 6.30 p.m. on May 18th, among the busy students passing by, a lean girl in bob haircut suddenly crouched down with her arms around herself, at Eastern Avenue in the University of Sydney.

Yifan Kong, a Chinese girl, was participating in the Student Board Election of the University of Sydney Union. The Board is responsible for the decision making of Union collectives and activities. She was the only one international student among the nine candidates.

At this time, the voting process just finished. While other campaigners heaved a sigh with relief, Kong was almost struck by the pressure. She was so anxious about the success after running for the election for over a month.

 

Kong and the Boom of Chinese Overseas Students

Kong was born in Beijing, the capital of China. Like many Beijingers, she is an outgoing girl coming from a high-educated, wealthy family. Her father once participated in a short-period session at the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. Both of her parents work in the field of civil aviation. They are very supportive of her overseas study.

After graduating from the high school affiliated with Beijing Normal University, Kong came to Sydney last year, as part of the boom of Chinese students studying in Australia.

Since the reform and openness policy launched in the 1970s, China’s economic growth has created a burgeoning middle class. Because of the One-Child policy, they pay intense attention to the only one child’s education. Hence, more and more Chinese students go abroad to achieve higher education.

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The influx of international students is still increasing. Picture: Department of Education and Training.

Matching this backdrop, according to the Department of Education and Training of Australia, the number of international students in Australia has risen sharply, reaching 421,258 until February 2016.

In terms of University of Sydney, international students accounted for 22.6% of the total students, ranking 7th on the list of Australian universities admitting international students in 2014.

Mr. John Shields, the Deputy Dean (Education) of Business School at University of Sydney, told the reporter, “Since 2013, the proportion of international students in Business school has increased considerably, and now (Semester 1 2016) stands at 62%… The majority of our international students from mainland China.”

 

Overseas Students with Assimilation Challenges

In spite of the above optimistic figures, Mr. Shields added, “experience tells us that many of our international students have difficulty engaging with domestic students and local communities.”

In order to help them face the challenges, University of Sydney has set up various types of preparing courses at Centre for English Teaching (CET) including language improvement and academic writing training, while in the core unit BUSS5000 Critical Thinking in Business School, international students still showed high fail rate in last year.

As for the engagement problem, it remains a swelling. The newcomers still tend to stick to their fellow national groups.

Kristine Carbonell, a local postgraduate student told the reporter, “they (international students) are cool, but sometimes it’s a little hard to talk to them because they keep together and speak their own language.”

 

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When asked questions of assimilation, Lidan Wang, an international student in USYD, showed a worried face. Picture by Yang Liu.

 

For some Chinese students such as Lidan Wang, a Chinese girl just landed in Sydney this semester, they try to go to some parties and bars to fit in Australian culture. “But I’m not familiar with their jokes… I don’t have friends to talk with. Neither am I brave enough to chip in strangers’ chat.” It made Wang’s “small step” as well as a “giant leap” to reach out finally turn out to be a vivid example of the “wall flower” unfortunately.

 

Kong and Her Election

Unlike most of her Chinese friends, Kong is open to unfamiliar situations and would like to develop her leadership. She is very active in campus social life. She went through a five-week-long preparing course in CET after she received the certification of enrollment, and then entered the university formerly as a bachelor student. Since then, she has been an activist for refugee movement, a reporter for the university student newspaper Honi Soit, a playwright and a producer for the university’s experimental little theatre.

 

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Yifan Kong was holding the pink board “Chinese Students SAY YES!” in the Campus Refugee Action Collective parade. Picture supplied: Yifan Kong.

 

“I’m more likely to communicate with people, rather than to immerse in research and papers”, said she. This characteristic might be a prerequisite for her participation of the Union Board Election.

Kong’s decision of competing for the Election was gestated in her part-time working experience. At that time, she was an intern cashier in a Seven-Eleven Convenience store. Her friend, a formal cashier, complaint about the underpay problem to her. He was officially paid fifteen dollars per hour, but he had to transfer five dollars back to the store manager. Otherwise, he could not maintain the cashier position. After chatting with her Chinese classmates on this problem, Kong found that her friend was not the only o student marooned.

When helping them to defend rights, she noticed that there was no international student member on the Student Union Board, which meant that the current decision-making directors did not have on-the-ground accessibility to the ostudents’ problems and difficulties.

This discovery finally contributed to her nomination.

“I want to be the voice of international students”, said she, “now that international students have accounted for a fifth of the total students, we deserve to have a say”.

Her proposal mainly focused on the international students’ issues, such as reserving a place on every Club and Society executive for an international student, and creating an International Student Portfolio within the Board.

 

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Yifan Kong was introducing herself and explaining her policy to two international students. Picture by Yang Liu.

 

When one of her followers was asked the reason of voting her, the girl said, “I’m quite interested in this project, and Koko (Kong) is very brave,” She whispered, gazing at Kong on the stage of Manning Bar, in the evening of 18th May.

It was about 8.30 pm. Kong was hugging other elected candidates just announced to be the next members.

She has become the first international student elected on the Board since 2008, verified by Michael Rees, current Union Board President.

“Despite people telling me … that international students don’t care about politics (a rather bigoted stereotype)”, as Hannah Elten, a German USYD student who acted as Kong’s campaign manager, wrote on her Facebook, “Koko (Kong) ended up receiving 1451 votes”, with the first place ranked among the competitors.

Kong has inspired more Chinese students to engage in the social and political engagement on campus. They are fighting for more ways to assimilate and present themselves.

Posted by Yang Liu (450504864)

The Rental Scam Leads to Heartbreak

By Jingyun WANG,  1st JUNE , 2016


An international student was swindled by a bogus landlord out of $6000 in a new type of rental scam, when taking a flat in Rhodes, Sydney.

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A heart-struck young woman / Jingyun Wang

“It’s totally beyond my wildest imagination.”


Dolores curled upon on the sofa, eating chips and watching TV. It was a warm afternoon, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, the second day she moved in this flat. After two hours tidying, she looked around her new home, feeling a sort of satisfied but tired. She decided to have a rest. Noisy from the TV was some big, but her focus was not on the programme, she just needed a little background sound and continued to think. She hesitated whether to buy some household articles from IKEA which is only about one kilometre away. By the way, she wanted to hang out the nearby to explore some greens or parks, wondering where she could walk with her dog Shasha who was still staying a pet care centre then.

Suddenly, the door was opened, a man walked in, glanced around the living room, and finally looked at Dolores, asking whether she is the friend of Chen and how many days she would stay in there? At present, Dolores felt instinctively there was something wrong and something odd. Chen was indeed the man whom she took this flat from, but they were not friends, did not know each other until a few days ago. Further, she would not live here several days; she had signed a half-year rental contract with Chen.

The man who was standing in the living room is the real principle tenant of the flat. The fact is that Chen rented a bedroom daily and pretended to be the landlord of the flat to let Dolores, defrauding her of 6000 AUD.

Dolores called police immediately and waited for the police officer to arrive. “Tough time, my mind went blank,” she said, “it’s totally beyond my wildest imagination.”

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A Residential Area in Rhodes/ Jingyun Wang

Rental scams are not new things, especially for oversee students in Australia. According to a report by Sydney Morning Herald, a number of heavy rental rip-offs aiming to international students happened in Sydney in 2010, so that both the University of Sydney and the University of NSW warned their students not to readily believe renting message. Similarly, Meld Magazine, a media outlet target to international students’ affairs in Melbourne, reported rental scams in 2012.

To nip these frauds in the bud, all media, universities, the government and other institutions give tips to inspect the places before paying deposit and bonds. “Insist on inspecting the property-a drive-by is not enough. With these types of scams, the property may genuinely exist, but it is owned by someone else,” claimed by Australian Competition &Consumer Commission.

But for Dolores, inspecting is not enough, she met a master scammer. Although the feeling of uneasy had appeared in her mind a few times during the renting process, the real flat and keys melted here mistrust away.


“But he answered me that ‘you already have keys and pictures of my Photo ID…nothing are worth of worrying,”


In earlier April, Dolores went back to Sydney after long summer holidays and planned to take a whole flat closer to the college. She searched online and also posted to-rent messages in several websites and platforms. Before long, Chen replied her via WeChat and said he could apply a flat in Rhodes. Pictures of rooms were good and the rent was fair. Dolores quickly appointed the inspecting with Chen at the next day.

Weird things happened. Before entering the flat, Chen told Dolores a friend of a friend was still living in a room, he would request her leaving without offending friends. So before negotiating with his friend, he did not want to let that renter know. “He requested me to pretend to be his friend, came for casual visiting rather than inspecting,” Dolores said.

Although feeling strange, she accepted, “He looked honest and his attitude was sincere…it seemed he was that kind of man who highly valued the friendship.”

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The Building in Rhodes where Dolores would like to rent/ Jingyun Wang

Dolores was satisfied with the flat. After considering over a night, she determined to rent it. A day after, she signed the contract, paid $3000 deposit and $1500 rent by cash in advance, and got the keys. But there was something that enabled Dolores to feel anxiety: the place where they met was a café rather than the flat, further, the contrast was extremely rough, only with rents and lease but without the address of the flat nor other details.

Dolores spoke out her doubt. “But he answered me that ‘you already have keys and pictures of my Photo ID…nothing are worth of worrying,” she retold their dialogue, and then was in silence.

“So you chose to trust him again,” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered and nodding, her face was expressionless, and her eyes fixed on the far away where Shasha played, speechless again for a little while. Then she looked back me, saying she moved into the flat in the following day and paid another $1500 rent. Everything seemed normal. “I thought I was too suspicious,” she said. However, she was not suspicious and the whole thing is worth of deliberateness.


“It was a lesson, I will never be cheated again.”


After realising the swindle, she nearly blacked out, cried, and did not know what to do anymore. At length, she called and texted a few close friends to come. A few hours later, two police officers from Burwood Police Station came and made a record. According to the Photo ID, police officers told her Chen has defrauded over ten International students in Sydney and one police officer is still tracing him.

Meanwhile, they also said Dolores’s case might be hard to be filed due to the insufficient evidence. “(It was because of) failing to compose the chain of evidence,” she said. This was one of a few things she could remember. Her brain was still clutter when dialoguing with police officers.

“It (the extremely simple and informal contract) is one of the critical barriers for Dolores’ case being filed,” said by Margaret Kirkby, who is the Senior Student Advice and Advocacy Officer from Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA), and has abandon experiences and legal knowledge of assisting international students to deal with rental issues.

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Residential Tenancy Agreement/ source: NSW Fair Trading

She said under the Residential Tenancies Act, to sign a contract (lease) called a Residential Tenancy Agreement is necessary to rent a home. But most international students are not aware this, which increase the risk of being swindled.

“With the tenant having to complete this, it shows that their acting in good faith with the (Residential) Tenancy Act,” said she, “it also creates to get more evidence for the students who’s renting a home. It is a documentary prove.”

In addition to the rough contract, Ms. Kirkby emphasised that paying cash-in-hand was another significant issue in Dolores’s case and many others. “Do not ever agree to pay in cash, unless the other party writes you out of a valid receipt,” she said.

For Dolores, it is somewhat late. Considering the difficult to limit the damage, she eventually did not go the police station in nest day to formally submit the files. After being putting up in her friend’s room for the several nights, Dolores finally rented a new flat and moved in with her Shasha. She said she no longer minded it, “it was a lesson, I will never be cheated again.” Then she drew a deep sign as if bowing out the suffering inside her.

Like Dolores, a high percentage of victims just gave up like Dolores, but Ms. Kirkby encouraged them to take action. She also expressed a willingness of assistance for Dolores.

 

 

 

 


According to the requirement of Burwood Police Station, the cheater’s name, “Chen”, in the article is an alias.

 

(Jingyun Wang SID 450078642)

Getting Married in China is Harder than You Think

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Buying a House Is A Essential Condition of Getting Married in China

‘Just be quick! They won’t find out!’

She sneaked into the study room and opened the last drawer under the desk when nobody was at home. Suddenly the door was opened. She turned around and saw her mother’s pale face.

‘Amy! You’re going to steal the Household Register, aren’t you?’ Her mother yelled, ‘You’re not allowed to marry him! Never!’

Amy was speechless. She was indeed trying to steal the Household Register, a required family identification to register for marriage. Her mother does not approve the marriage because her boyfriend couldn’t afford a house in Beijing. They broke up after a week.

Amy is not the only one who is struggled with the failed attempting marriage. Getting married in China is harder than people usually think because Chinese marriage is influenced by various elements that might surprise you. This is not only a social issue but also a cultural reflection.

 

The Cultural Reason

Interview with Amy

Amy agreed that a man should buy a house for marriage in China. The ability to provide a house is a socially acceptable rule for Chinese male. According to a survey in 2012 by Horizon Research & Consultancy group, 75% of potential brides take the ability to afford a house into consideration.

It is not only the requirement from the potential bride, but also from the bride’s parents. Renting a house is not acceptable to most Chinese parents. In the traditional Chinese culture, a house has been seen as a guarantee to show the man’s ability to afford the good living condition for his wife.

Moreover, Chinese parents have the huge rights to express opinions in their children’s marriage. Although some modern young female do not require a house, young male still need to get permission and bless from the parents.

 

Policy Background

The One-Child Policy also has a huge impact on failed attempting marriage because it results in the abortion based on sex selection that prefers male.

By 2030, projections suggest that more than 25% of Chinese men will never have married. Too many single man will also result in some social changes such as homosexuality.

 

Economic Pressure

The failed attempting marriage is related to the high property price. The chart below is a translated version of the property price in suburb Beijing. The price of each square meter is over 130,000 Yuan (26,000 AUD). It will take approximately 2.5 million AUD to buy a three-bedroom apartment, which is too high to afford.

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A Property Price in Suburb Beijing. Retrieved from the website of Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. Translated by Shuang Liu

Jerry Zhang, the loan consultant of Concept Finance, works for applying loans for property buyers in Sydney. He compared the income and property costs between Australia and China, based on his over 20 years experience of living in China before immigrated to Australia.

‘A two-bedroom apartment in a second-tier city in China will probably cost $400,000 while the average annual income is about $20,000 for people aged 25 to 30. You need to work for 20 years to buy a house. However in Sydney, a two-bedroom apartment in Kogarah is about $800,000 while the annual income is about $80,000. You just have to save money for about 10 years. There are also lots of great policies in Australia such as First Home Owners Grant. The property right in China is only 70 years but in Australia is permanent.’

Except for costs element, Jerry also mentioned that Westerns don’t ask for a house as an essential condition of marriage.

 

However, Jerry believes that high property price only exists in the first-tier and second-tier cities in China and the average house price in small cities is still affordable.

‘The marriage pressure in small towns is much lower than in big cities. The social rule is also changing because more and more people have realised that a house is not the essential condition for marriage. There are many people get naked marriage as far as I know.’

 

Naked Marriage

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A Couple Were Engaged in Their Rented House in Guangdong Province

What Jerry mentioned is a new marriage concept without purchasing a car, a house and hosting a wedding party.

In the traditional marriage, a ceremonious wedding party represents the family’s strong economic conditions and high social status.

However, increasingly young people pay more attention on pure love. The materialism in the contemporary society has been gradually weakened.

 

The New Property Polity                                                                                                

As the perception changed gradually, the property policy has also been improved. A new property policy was announced in March 2016 in Shanghai.

According to the policy, local families with one property will have to pay 70% down payment if the new house is either above 140 square meters or priced above 4.5 million Yuan (900,000 AUD).

The new policy will regulate the second-home buyers who buy the house for appreciation so that the property price will remain steady or even decreased.

The new policy may change both the marriage issue and economy development in China. It is a trial implementation in Shanghai. If it is effective in controlling the property price, the policy will be applied in other cities.

Getting married in China is harder than you think. It is necessary for the government to apply new policies. There is still a long way to go to accept new social rules for both younger generation and their parents.

 

Posted by Shuang Liu (440514914)

Undercover Gender Inequality in the Workforce

While gender inequality is still lingering around the workforce, it is undercover in a subtle and implicit way that we are likely to neglect how powerful it can be.

 

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                                           Women in the workforce. Image via CNN.com

When it comes to gender equality, undoubtedly human being have achieved enormous amount of progress with regard to education, medical health, politics and workforce. We can’t help but ask, how far can we truly achieve gender equality in our society? Is gender equality really a big deal if we want to reach out our democratic future?

That sounds a bit broad and confused considering multiple uncertainties remain at present. Let’s narrow down the scope and focus on gender equality in the workforce as our exploring topic here.

Gender pay gap still exists in all parts of the world, in particular, Australia ranks 36 out of 145 countries in terms of global index of gender equality, according to a statistic report conducted by The Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Moreover, men as a whole earn an average total of $27,000 per year more compared with women, even in the same position.

Moreover, it turns out women receive different results in terms of employee performance, revealing from a research conducted two years ago. Specifically, female group received 87.9 per cent of performance reviews containing criticism whereas as their counterpart males, the figure was only 58.9 per cent. That is to say, the performance rating system favors more on men than rather on women, pro-male bias still exist among our society.

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Gender bias towards leadership.  Image via flickr.com

Debby as a software engineer in an Australian company addressed that gender equality matters and it needs attention both from male and female.

“As you might have imaged, working in a men-dominant industry is not quite easy, since it is hard to notice you are belonging to the minority in this situation. In general, you have to work as equally as men and even much more so that they won’t judge you in a different way, in short, I don’t want to be regarded as a weak link in my team, that feels awful,” Debby shared her thought during the interview.

Speaking of her personal experience after having worked in this company for three years, she pointed out that she was treated equally in general regarding salary, holiday leave, medical welfare, to name a few. “My colleagues treat me really well in a polite and respectful way, in fact, we become very good friends and keep in touch after work.”

However, she admitted that there were several times that made she felt she was under disadvantaged position, or occurred to her that gender issues actually hinder her from achieving her goals.

“Though I am one of the members in my department, at times I still find myself out of this team, they would prefer to directly discuss problems with other male staffs and avoid eye contact with me in meetings, which made me really uncomfortable. Just because I am not a man doesn’t mean I should be differentiated based on their perception. ”

She gave an example in order to explain her statement before. “I remembered last year our team was designing a program for an important partner, I didn’t know we’d changed the code until I received an email from my boss. I ran to him immediately and asked why I had no idea about it, he explained that they discussed it after work at bar, apparently I was isolated simply because I didn’t hang out with these guys, which made me in a quite passive position.” After that, she signed, “it can’t be worse than sitting in the dark simply because of your own gender at work.”

In other words, gender inequality can be reflected in subtle yet hidden way that won’t be discovered explicitly, people going through this situation more or less don’t realize gender discrepancy as it shown. Therefore, it makes dealing with this issue become much complicated and tricky among public.

It is true that female employees nowadays have to confront with more serious issues compared with men such as maternity, babysitting and returning workforce after giving birth. Man and woman are born to be different, both physically and psychologically, which leads to discrepancy in all aspects of life, hence we cannot change but accept this fact. Given that, the only thing we can do is to admit gender issue and ensure it is developing toward a good way.

Now that there are a quantity of organizations relevant to gender equality in our life, Lean In is one of these that has attracted huge attention in recent years. Debby said she has joined in this entity several months ago, and she decided to invite more friends to become a member of this group as she though each individual can learn something from this organization.

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Screenshot of Lean In Circle

“We form a small Lean In circle that encourages people to join in regardless of the fact that they are male or female. In this community, we share stories about gender and then discuss it in a broader way. Currently we are making effort to reach successful female leaders to lead our group as role models so that more and more people can be influenced and motivated by our community.” Debby proudly explained how the group works.

It is clear that gender inequality cannot be solved in a few years, especially we are dealing with the implicit part of the issue in the workplace. No matter what accounts for this inequality, we have to get rid of the general bias or stereotypes towards gender and remind ourselves where we are in current stage and how much progress have we achieved in this journey.

Coming back to the final question: how can we solve gender inequality in the workforce? Apparently we cannot answer it at this moment and hopefully we can see its success in the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

Thousands protest against Baird government

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Protesters out the front of NSW parliament house

Thousands have descended upon NSW state parliament to protest against a myriad of political hot topics including the Westconnex project and recently abolished councils across the state, during the afternoon of May 29.

After first congregating at Town Hall in Sydney’s CBD to hear from speakers including Greens MP David Shoebridge, who spoke on new civil liberty laws; and Keep Sydney Open founder, Tyson Koh who addressed the impact of the Mike Baird government’s lock-out laws; the rally marched from George Street to NSW parliament house.

Speaking in front of the vocal and responsive crowd at Town Hall, former Leichhardt Mayor and subject of Mike Baird’s local council axings, Darcy Byrne spoke on the recent local council amalgamations and corruption among newly appointed leaders.

“We are all here today, because premier Mike Baird is completely out of control and it’s time to send him a message, take a stand and say that we will resist his rule,” said Byrne. “On May 12th, in the most undemocratic, authoritarian action seen by a leader in this state in living memory, Mike Baird with the stroke of a pen got rid of 42 mayors, and every elected councilor in the local governments that they represent.”

There’s “more to come” warned Byrne with the incumbent Liberal government ‘putting the noose around the neck’ of another 23 mayors ‘who they hope to extinguish within the next couple of weeks.’

“In fact the only places where elected representatives have remained is of course those in Liberal marginal electorates that Malcom Turnbull is worried about losing at the election – and he should be worried and we all know why,” said Byrne. “Because casino Mike has given up governing for the people of this state he’s now just ruling for his party and his mates.”

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NSW parliament house

Local St Peters resident and spokesperson for the WestConnex Action Group, Pauline Lockie, addressed the growing opposition to the Westconnex project across Sydney communities. Lockie arrived from overseas last year to the news that her house in St Peters, the first home she has owned, had been compulsorily acquired and knocked down to make way for Westconnex. Subsequently, she has worked as an activist and spokesperson to media on the resistance to the Westconnex in conjunction with organising protests.

“If Westconnex is built it will destroy endangered species thousands of old growth trees and parks, and hundreds of homes and businesses from Parramatta to Haberfield, Rozelle, Camperdown, St Peters and down to Beverly Hills in Sydney’s south west,” said Lockie.

“It will expose tens of thousands of men women and children to increased pollution from the unfiltered stacks that will be built across the route as well as the huge feeder roads that will be needed to pump cars into the tunnels.”

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A protester’s poetic protest

Lockie said the $16.8 billion project came with a price tag that equated to half a billion dollars for every kilometer. “For the enormous price we are getting a toll way that mainly just duplicates failed roads that we’ve already got like the M4, M5 East, Parramatta Road and the city Westlink.

“Of course all of those roads were once supposed to be the solutions to other congested roads in our city – all they have done is make traffic worse.”

Tracing back to the origins of the Westconnex proposals in 2012, Lockie said the project was first put on the table by Nick Greiner because the toll road industry was in crisis. “Tollways such as the Cross City and Lane Cove tunnel have [since] gone either spectacularly bust or they were well on their way.”

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Protesters closing down George Street in Sydney’s CBD

Companies involved with the construction of the aforementioned toll roads, including property company Leighton are ‘now being sued for providing misleading and inflated traffic forecasts on those roads.’

“Companies like Macquarie Bank were also involved in failed tollways yet in 2013 when the NSW government started planning Westconnex, it invited those companies among others to sit down at a table with them and help them plan and justify Westconnex,” said Lockie.

“Leighton has landed million dollar contracts all over the Westconnex including unbelievably the kind of traffic modelling it’s now being sued for elsewhere. Macquarie bank holds the financing contract until 2070 and these are just a few of the hundreds of contracts that have been awarded for Westconnex – most of which have been awarded before any planning approvals were granted.”

“If the Baird government gets away with doing this, it will become the way everything is done in NSW with no transparency, no accountability, no consultation and no benefit for anyone except the big companies that are pocketing billions of dollars of our money,” said Lockie.

Listen to former Leichardt Mayor, Darcy Byrne speak at the rally:

Frank Haines has been a lifelong resident of Sydney’s inner west, growing up in Sydenham and living in Stanmore for decades. Haines said the thousands in attendance demonstrated the discontent of Sydney’s communities, in opposition to the removal of elected councils and Westconnex project.

“It’s quite a remarkable situation we have here, where it feels like our civil liberties and democratic rights have been completely disregarded by those meant to be governing us,” said Haines.

“Clearly people are unhappy and there’s a lot of different communities here protesting – it’s not just one suburb we are talking about here.”

The essence of Australia Guesthouse — B&B culture

[lead] Do you have had enough of hotels? From the forest cabin up in Blue Mountain to the chateau villa in Western Australia, from youth hostel in Melbourne to the century cottage in Adelaide, it is here where the deepest memories engraved on.

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Some rooms of B&B are very comfortable  CREDIT: Castle Keep B&B

 

In the mid-1980s, B&B spread from UK and emerged as a bed & breakfast (B&B) accommodation service in Australia. Nowadays, B&B becomes a popular accommodation choice in America, Europe, China and New Zealand.

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B&B sign CREDIT: STOCKSOLUTIONS/ALAMY

 

B&B originated in 1960’s Britain. it was a B&B (bed and breakfast) family accommodation pattern which was often ran as a family sideline that offered countryside accommodation with the combination of local culture, landscape, ecological and environmental resources as well as agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery activities. This conception divides it from hotels.

 

The advantages of B&B

With the development of tourism in Australia, more and more Australian residents have set up private guesthouses and provide tourists with a new accommodation environment.

In Australia tourism resort and countryside towns, board with “B&B” on it can often be seen on the roadside. Houses with this kind of board offers B&B service and are usually 3-6 rooms in size.

‫Different from traditional hotels, B&B provides no luxury amenities. However, it can offer tourists to experience local customs, enjoy the zest and service of the owner of B&B, and experience the life different from the past.

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Treehouse Blue Mountains CREDIT: Airbnb/Lionel
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Century cottage   Source from Wechat

Miss. Han Qingqing is a foreign student is Australia, also a travel enthusiast. She said, “I have visited more than 20 countries and countless cities. Visited Japanese tatami, British castles and Taiwan rustic guesthouse. In Australia, I have lived in the Blue Mountain forest cabin, modern apartment in Melbourne and small house built in mid 19th century in Adelaide. The difference I felt about Australia B&B is its themes and featured diversity. Like winery house, forest cabin, canyon villa, seaside cottage and youth apartment etc. Various featured and beloved guesthouses can be found on the website. Moreover, the scenery around B&B is very beautiful.”

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Modern Apartment Source from Wechat
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B&B room Source from Wechat

Hosts of B&B are largely local or long-term residents. Tourists could share conversation with the host, make new friends and experience native rural life. Moreover, the price is much cheaper than hotels.

Qingqing said, “when you use accommodation apps and search hotels or B&B, you will find the big difference in price between hotels and B&B. In Australia, a normal hotel will cost 250 Australian dollars one night. But B&B is far cheaper. It varies in accordance with locations and levels. Usually ranges from 70 to 200 Australian dollars. What is more, it must be ordered in advance before arriving in Australia as it is run by small family. ”

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The interviewee of Miss Han Qingqing

Different from standard services in hotel, surprises can be expected living in B&B ran by local residents. For example, you sometimes may find a bunch of flowers laying on the bedside. What is more, when talking to the owner of B&B, you can listen to the stories of the owner’s family and some local gossips.

Qingqing recalls that, “I remembered one night, the owner of that B&B was an old couple, who were very friendly and talkative. One day, we just experienced the jump in Australia, so we played our video of jumping to them after supper. Unexpectedly, the more than 70 years’ old lady said that she had jumped 10 years ago. Then she shows us her video of jumping. Since the shooting effect of now and 10 years ago were different, the two videos were very funny.”

Sometimes, the kind host may offer you tea and coffee or snacks. You can use the kitchen, the washing machine, the dish-washing machine, parking lots and so on. B&B can meet these requirements which may can not be satisfied in hotels.

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Kitchen of B&B   Source from Wechat

Potential problems with B&B

‫B&B prevails as a fresh accommodation ecology. But potential problems exist such as security and sanitation problems. Firstly, the security issue of B&B deserves great attention. Many guesthouses run without business license and government regulation. In the meantime, host of B&B can not make right judgement on customer’s identification.

‫Secondly, there are some flaws in house management and sanitation. B&B houses are usually short of hands, and service is not professional. The host acts as manager as well as attendant who manages multiple rooms at the same time.

‫Qingqing said, “Sanitation condition varies in different guesthouses. In some guesthouses, the bedding is quite clean, but in some guesthouses, the bedding and hygienic condition are ordinary. ”

‫With the rapid development of B&B, it will become much more standard.

 

Travel tips

‫While facing these potential problems, Qingqing also provides some of her own experience. Firstly, judgement should be made on the basis of the comments, pictures, basic information and descriptions on the house when choosing house and landlord. Normally, houses that received more comments tend to be more secure. Secondly, communicate with the landlord, it helps to form a deep knowledge of the house. Lastly, private booking is not recommended. Booking, Tripadvisor, Airbnb and some other B&B booking social media platforms are more of an option. If any problems occur, timely contact can be made with their operators.

‫Accommodation itself is a part of the journey. Living in B&B is a direct way of experiencing foreign life. Apart from the travel, the host of the B&B and their “home” can make you feel at your own even in a foreign land.

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Map data  Source from 2016 Google

Keywords: B&B, Guesthouse, Tourists, Australia

 

More Reading:

https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Property/Your-home/Renting-out-part-or-all-of-your-home/

 

DI CHEN

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