UNFORTUNATELY Australia Day seems to be as much a time of discord as it is a cause for celebration.
Many of us understand the seething resentment surrounding a day which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.
Not only were the first inhabitants of our island colonised, they were also overrun by criminals - hardly an auspicious start to the forming of a great nation.
Despicable deeds were done by the "invaders".
Land was stolen, traditional owners were massacred, Aboriginal children were removed from their families, while adults were made to work in menial positions for little pay.
That kind of behaviour was a modus operandi for the colonisers, who had been invaded in their own land countless times. Through these hostilities, they had developed a warlike, domineering way of thinking that had no respect for any indigenous culture they encountered.
We probably should look at shifting Australia Day to another date, so every one of us can feel pride in inhabiting a great country without being reminded of the shackles of our past.
Australia's bad backs are no joke
I'M FEELING very bonded with millions of my fellow Australians right now, painful as it is.
With about 25% of the population, I'm on common ground - health wise.
The reason for this extraordinary connection is my ailing back.
Fact is, I could hardly move earlier this week. The degenerating lower back has again let me down in chronic fashion.
The slightest movement is done with an accompaniment of groans, yelps and occasional bad language.
Statistics on bad backs toted up by the University of Sydney are quite staggering.
"On any given day in Australia, one quarter of the population is suffering back pain, and nearly 80% of adult Australians will experience back pain some time during their lives," according to researchers.
I imagine, after such a revelation, that lots of clever people in the Australian health sector are doing their best to prevent the situation from getting any worse.
Particularly now, when children are on their way back to school and out shopping for supplies, spine specialists are hard at work informing youngsters about the right backpack to buy and how it should fit.
A lot of the time, I think it's what they put in the perfectly designed backpack that could be risking their healthy spines.
I've seen kids aged under 10 struggling to carry packs that dwarf them both in size and weight.
If they fell backwards, they'd be like splayed turtles trying to right themselves.
Inflicting such a burden on our little ones can't be sensible.
As one who has endured debilitating back pain "in spasms" for more than three years, I wish I'd known when I was younger what the physiotherapist taught me after an especially bad back attack.
Bend your knees when lifting something heavy; keep your spine straight - don't twist it; don't spend 20-plus years working at a computer without frequent walk-breaks...
Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Eat well, stop smoking and exercise daily.
Chill out - stress can actually increase the risk of back pain.
I could have added a bit of my own advice: don't make the silly mistake of attempting to learn to ski in your mid-40s when you've led a largely sedentary existence until then.
The very wide splits I accomplished on the ski slope at Thredbo must have set some kind of record, but left me crawling on all fours the next day.
Anyone with a "bad back" can be the butt of cynicism and mirth.
It's long been associated with skiving off work.
Back pain is the leading cause of work loss days with 25% of sufferers in the 18 to 44 age group taking 10 or more days off a year, according to Sydney Medical School researchers.
As long as it's a genuine affliction, then it's no fun, so let's show some sympathy.
Professor Rachelle Buchbinder says lower back pain and osteoarthritis are now ranked second only to cancer as the leading cause of disease burden in Australasia.
"With ageing populations, it is highly likely this burden will increase," she said.
"Research is urgently needed to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies."
For me, it's far too late for prevention. I can't go "back".
I've heard acupuncture works wonders.
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