On Monday, we led our newsletter with analysis of a tragic mass stabbing event in Sydney. The deadly Westfield Bondi Junction attack was shocking and deeply saddening. Many are still reeling and will be for some time.

Now it’s Wednesday, and we’re leading with another piece on a second, separate stabbing event in Sydney. The incident at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church left two men injured and a great many more terrified as it played out on the live stream of mass.

With two such awful events so close together, comparisons were inevitable. But one key difference stuck out in yesterday’s coverage: the church attack was quickly pronounced a terrorist act.

Of the six victims in the Westfield attack, five were women. Women also comprise the majority of the injured. The New South Wales Police Commissioner said it was “obvious” the offender was targeting women.

So why, then, is that not also an act of terrorism?

As Greg Barton explains in his piece, whether something is deemed an act of terror doesn’t reflect its significance.

“Calling something a terrorist act doesn’t make it more or less serious than anything else, rather the categorisation is to provide conceptual clarity for the sake of the ensuing investigation.

"Events at Westfield Bondi Junction and the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church both seem awful, but while they share some similarities, they’re different sorts of crimes with different kinds of drivers and enablers. As police investigations continue, we’ll come to better understand the nature of both.”

And as Sydney-siders grapple with a second knife attack this week, some children will have big questions about what has happened. And they may be feeling scared and anxious. Child clinical psychologist Elizabeth Westrupp and her colleague Tomer Berkowitz write today about how to help your child feel safe.

Often parents can dismiss scary things in a bid to try to make a problem go away. But talking about these kinds of things can help children process them: “If your child is upset or anxious about what has happened, it’s important to notice, listen to and acknowledge their emotions. You can also empathise with your child – what has happened is awful and scary. Their response is perfectly natural.”

Erin Cooper-Douglas

Deputy Politics + Society Editor

Why is the Sydney church stabbing an act of terrorism, but the Bondi tragedy isn’t?

Greg Barton, Deakin University

Sydney has seen two stabbing incidents within days of each other. Grim comparisons are inevitable, but what makes them different?

After a second knife attack in Sydney, how can parents talk to their kids and help them feel safe?

Elizabeth Westrupp, Deakin University; Tomer Berkowitz, Deakin University

In the space of three days, there have been two devastating knife attacks. Your child may have seen these on the news or social media. Or they might be hearing about it from friends.

How the Lehrmann v Channel 10 defamation case shone an unflattering light on commercial news gathering

Denis Muller, The University of Melbourne

The judge in the high-profile defamation case described the saga as an “omnishambles” - and the media are included in that.

Critical minerals receive multi-million dollar support under Future Made in Australia policy

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Two major critical minerals projects in Queensland and South Australia will receive $400 million in federal government loans to to deliver Australia’s first high-purity alumina processing facility.

Choice and control: the NDIS was designed to give participants choice, but mandatory registration could threaten this

Sam Bennett, Grattan Institute; Hannah Orban, Grattan Institute

Many people in the disability community are distressed by the plan to register all NDIS providers. There could be a more nuanced approach that preserves their wishes.

Biden is cancelling millions of student debts – here’s what to expect from Albanese

Peter Martin, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

A few simple changes to Australia’s system of student loans would smooth increases in the amounts owing and make it easier to get home loans.

Is a 24-hour Home and Away channel the answer to subscription fatigue?

Alexa Scarlata, RMIT University; Ashleigh Dharmawardhana, RMIT University

On ‘FAST TV’ – free ad-supported streaming TV – you can watch Border Security non-stop, Mythbusters on a loop, or hours and hours of Baywatch.

Can AI read our minds? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be worried

Sam Baron, The University of Melbourne; Jenny Judge, The University of Melbourne

Brain scanners and AI can turn brainwaves into streams of text – but language only captures a tiny fraction of our mental experience.

Light pollution affects coastal ecosystems too – this underwater ‘canary’ is warning of the impacts

Kathleen Laura Sterup, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Abigail M Smith, University of Otago

The common triplefin is helping marine scientists understand the negative effects of ‘skyglow’ on coastal fish, which are already more exposed to microplastics, chemicals and noise pollution.

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