Inbox and Environment News: Issue 300

February 12 - 18, 2017: Issue 300

Extreme Weather Conditions Close Many Sydney Region Parks, Tracks And Trails

Media release: 10 February 2017: NPWS
CLOSED: Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park - Applies from Fri 10 Feb 2017, 11.59pm to Mon 13 Feb 2017, 9.00am. 

Closed areas: All walking tracks and trails closed - dangerous fire weather conditions

All walking tracks and trails in this park are closed due to dangerous fire weather conditions until midnight Sunday 12 February 2017. This closure may be extended and any extension will be posted as soon as possible. Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, please contact the Bobbin Head Information Centre on (02) 9472 8949 or visit the NSW National Parks safety page for park safety guidelines.

The Basin campground can only be accessed by the ferry from Palm Beach. Penalties apply for non-compliance. Visit the NSW National Parks safety page for park safety guidelines.

Affects 36 locations in this park:
Aboriginal Heritage walk
Akuna Bay
America Bay walking track
Apple Tree picnic area
Bairne walking track
Barrenjoey Lighthouse
Basin Aboriginal art site
Beechwood Cottage
Birrawanna walking track
Bobbin Head
Bobbin Head Information Centre
Centre trail
d'Albora Marinas at Akuna Bay
Empire Marina Bobbin Head
Gibberagong walking track
Great North walk – Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Kalkari Discovery Centre
Mount Colah Station to Pymble Station cycle route
Mount Ku-ring-gai track to Berowra Station
Perimeter trail
Red Hands Cave walking track - Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Resolute picnic area
Salvation loop trail
Sphinx Memorial
Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head loop track
The Basin campground
The Basin picnic area
The Basin track and Mackerel track
The Pavillion picnic shelter
The Station picnic shelter
Topham walking track
Wallaroo walking track
Waratah walking track
West Head army track
West Head lookout
Willunga Trig walking track

The extreme heat and elevated fire danger rating predicted for the next three days (10 - 12 Feb) has forced the closure of many walking tracks and trails and some parks and camping areas across the Sydney region.

National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) Acting Director Metro Branch Deon Van Rensburg said the message is clear - check the NPWS alerts website for the latest park closure information before setting out and do not venture onto closed tracks or trails.

"With scorching temperatures predicted across Sydney the risk of fire is high and these closures are about safeguarding the public," Mr Van Rensburg said.

"Many tracks and trails in the Sydney metropolitan area have been closed along with a number of parks where safety is a concern in the event of fire, but some visitor areas will remain open.

"The most important thing is to be prepared and check the website for updates before you travel and then follow the safety advice and heed all warning signs and closures.

"We apologise for any inconvenience but are sure most will agree it is the right thing to do in the face of such extreme heat and heightened bushfire risk," Mr Van Rensburg said.

The latest information on park closures can be found at

Threat Abatement Plan For The Impacts Of Marine Debris On Vertebrate Marine Life

February 9, 2017: Threatened Species Commissioner 
This video (Below)is a must watch on the impacts of littering and marine debris. The number one threat to our marine turtles.
The Australian Government is currently updating our plan to reduce the impacts of marine debris. 

About the plan
In August 2003, 'Injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris' was listed as a key threatening process under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine life aims to provide a coordinated national approach to the implementation of measures to prevent and mitigate the impacts of harmful marine debris on vertebrate marine life.

Detailed information supporting this TAP is provided in the Background Paper, which describes in more detail the key threatening process and its management via prevention, removal and mitigation.

Review status
After considering the review of the Threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine life, the Minister for the Environment agreed with the Threatened Species Scientific Committee’s recommendation  that a variation of the threat abatement plan should be drafted.

The Australian Government is working to revise the national marine debris plan to limit the damage that plastic and other waste products cause to Australia’s marine life. The new threat abatement plan will set directions for marine debris research and management activities.

The Threat Abatement Plan for the Impacts of Marine Debris on Vertebrate Marine Species is being revised. The Department has released the draft Threat Abatement Plan for the Impacts of Marine Debris on Vertebrate Marine Species (2017) for public comment. Comments are invited until 13 April 2017.

Where to send your submissions
Comments can be sent via email or post to the addresses below. If you are unable to provide comments in writing please phone 02 6274 1359.

Environmental Biosecurity Section
Department of the Environment and Energy
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

Sea Kayakers Rescue Turtle In Distress

March 2016
Video captured off the coast of Gran Canaria shows kayakers rescuing a sea turtle which had become trapped in fish net.

If Victoria Can Ban CSG, NSW Can Too!

By The Wilderness Society
Coal seam gas (CSG) threatens our water, our health and our climate. Many jurisdictions around the world are permanently banning this dangerous industry, most recently Victoria. We do not need or want risky coal seam gas in NSW. 
It’s clear that the industry has no social licence in our state, yet vast and critical areas—as well as human health—are still under threat from CSG across the state.

Call on the new Premier Berejiklian and the new Planning Minister Roberts to follow Victoria's lead and ban this harmful and risky industry in NSW. 

Banning Fracking Once And For All

February 8, 2017: Victorian Government Minister for Resources - Wade Noonan

Landmark legislation to permanently ban fracking for gas will today return to the Victorian Parliament as the Andrews Labor Government puts regional communities first to protect our clean and green reputation.

Victorians have overwhelmingly embraced a ban on fracking to support farmers, the environment and the state’s vital food and fibre sector.

In a national first, the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 will:
  • permanently ban all onshore unconventional gas exploration and development, including hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and coal seam gas
  • extend the moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration and development to 30 June 2020
The Bill amends the Petroleum Act 1998 and the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 to implement  the permanent ban.

The legislation forms part of the Labor Government’s response to the 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas in Victoria which received more than 1600 submissions, mostly opposed to onshore unconventional gas.

Extending the moratorium to 2020 will allow for experts to carry out scientific, technical and environmental studies on the risks, benefits and impacts of onshore conventional gas

That work will be overseen by Victoria’s lead scientist in consultation with a stakeholder advisory committee made up of farmers, industry, local government and community members.

The Government has called on the Victorian Liberals and Nationals to support the Bill and take a stand on this critical issue for the state.

Victoria’s agricultural sector exports $12 billion in food and fibre products each year and employs about 190,000 people.

The Bill will ensure Victoria remains frack-free to support food and fibre production across the state, regional economies and local jobs.

We promised we would end fracking for good, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“Victorians have resoundingly rejected fracking, and we’re putting an end to it.” Minister for Resources Wade Noonan said.

“It threatens the reputation of our vital agricultural sector and puts the state’s world-class food producers and regional economies at risk.”

“Our ban on fracking is what the community has asked for, and I call on the Victorian Liberals and Nationals to support the Bill as it’s debated in Parliament today.”

Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 - Bills passed Assembly (go to the Legislative Council next) 9/2/2017

Petition: Ban Balloons Release

Goal - Australia-wide ban on the release of balloons and the use of helium to inflate balloons.

Problem: Released balloons always come back to Earth as litter. 
* When mistaken as food, balloons can slowly kill wildlife through digestive blockage, strangulation and choking. Affected wildlife includes marine animals such as shearwaters and turtles, as well as freshwater such as platypus. Farm animals can also be affected. 

* Many marine wildlife research scientists support a ban on the release of balloons, as do organisations involved with litter and marine protection, such as Boomerang Alliance, Tangaroa Blue, Lord Howe Island Museum, Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre and the Australian Platypus Conservancy.

* Marine Plastic Pollution is increased with balloon releases.

* Balloons are no longer made from natural latex but a synthetic. While the industry claims balloons biodegrade in the same time as “an oak leaf”, this can take many months or years, all the while posing a threat to wildlife. Non-biodegradable attached streamers and disks add to the litter and threat. 

* Mylar balloons do not biodegrade; they can cause power outages and spark fires.

* Agencies already spend a great deal of time and effort attempting to educate people about the environmental impacts of released balloons. Despite this and a variety of anti-litter and anti-balloon release laws across Australia, releases still occur.
* The use of helium enables the accidental release of balloons. With easy access to helium and helium balloons now ubiquitous at events and festivals, this is all too common. 
Just one released balloon will result in litter and pose a threat to wildlife.
* Alternatives to balloon releases include reusable banners, flags, ribbon dancers, or pinwheels. For memorials and fundraisers: plant trees or gardens, actions that promote life.

There is a global movement against the release of balloons due to their environmental impact (see BalloonsBlow. org). Australia could lead the way and be the first to nationally ban helium balloons.

Solution: The Federal Government unites the States and Territories of Australia for a national ban on the release of balloons and the use of helium to inflate balloons for non-scientific uses.

NSW And Victoria Put Basin Plan Under The Microscope

10 February 2017: Media Release - Victorian Government Minister for Water and NSW Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair
NSW Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair and Victorian Minister for Water, Lisa Neville have established an expert panel to review the offsets mechanism in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. The review will allow NSW and Victorian Governments to make sure the Plan delivers real environmental benefits without short-changing Basin communities.

The panel will provide advice on the technical foundations of the Basin Plan’s Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism. The mechanism allows for the 2,750 GL recovery target in the Basin Plan to be offset by 650 GL through projects that deliver equivalent environmental outcomes with less water. The SDL is the maximum amount of water that can be taken for consumptive use.

There is currently a lack of transparency around the assumptions that sit at the heart of the adjustment mechanism, and Minister Blair and Minister Neville want to ensure these assumptions are realistic and take account of all requirements under the Basin Plan so that a triple bottom line outcome is achieved.

The NSW and Victorian Governments understand the importance of water to the prosperity of our regional communities and remain committed to meeting their obligations under the Basin Plan.

Both Governments support investment in efficient water infrastructure, rather than buying water, and works and measures that achieve environmental outcomes with less water.

The panel will report to Ministers in mid-March and members include:

Dr Don Blackmore AM – 40 years of experience in water and natural resources management including a 15 year role as the Chief Executive of the Murray Darling Basin Commission until his retirement in 2004.

Brett Tucker – broad range of experience in water resource management and agriculture in a career spanning 25 years. He established Blackwatch Consulting, specialising in the provision of strategy, governance and operations advice to Government agencies.

Chris Arnott – has worked across the Murray Darling Basin since 1994 and led the development of the first national snapshot of environmental water in the Australian Environmental Water Management Report 2010. He is also the co-founder of Aither, specialising in establishing, implementing and evaluating effective public policy performance frameworks.

Professor Peter Davies AM – aquatic environmental scientist with 35 years’ experience in aquatic environmental issues nationwide and internationally. He is also director of Freshwater Systems, an independent aquatic environmental consultancy.

“This issue is above politics. Communities north and south of the Murray River are facing the same challenges. That’s why I am standing with my Victorian colleague to make sure we get the SDL adjustment right.

“To continue to get the best deal possible for NSW under the Basin Plan we need to keep water where it is needed most – in our regional communities, producing the food and fibre of this great state.

“This is a very experienced panel that will provide Governments with an assessment of the adjustment methodology to enable more informed decision making about environmental benefits and ensure operational matters are fully considered.

“I have been very clear that the Basin Plan can be implemented, but not at all costs.

“Models alone do not deliver outcomes and they don’t make the difficult decisions for us – at the end of the day we need a pragmatic, real-world decision and of course this is informed by models.

“Working with Minister Neville in this way ensures NSW is delivering on the Basin Plan in a way that puts communities first.”  NSW Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair said.

Victorian Minister for Water, Lisa Neville stated, “I will always stand up to get the best for Victoria and working together will get us the best result. This is about two states putting borders aside and working together to get the best result for the community.”

“This expert panel will provide oversight and certainty for communities that the Plan is working in the best interests of farmers and the environment.”

“We support the recovery of water through infrastructure investments to reduce leakage and evaporation in our irrigation systems – but we don’t support further water buybacks.”

“Striking the right balance between implementing the Basin Plan, supporting local communities and protecting the environment is central to our approach.”

Extreme Fires Will Increasingly Be Part Of Our Global Landscape, Researchers Predict

February 6, 2017: University of Tasmania
Increasingly dangerous fire weather is forecast for Australia and the Mediterranean as the global footprint of extreme fires expands, according to the latest research.

University of Tasmania Professor of Environmental Change Biology David Bowman led an international collaboration -- including researchers from the University of Idaho and South Dakota State University -- to compile a global satellite database of the intensity of 23 million landscape fires used to identify 478 of the most extreme wildfire events.

"Extreme fire events are a global and natural phenomenon, particularly in forested areas that have pronounced dry seasons," Professor Bowman said.

"With the exception of land clearance, the research found that extremely intense fires are associated with anomalous weather -- such as droughts, winds, or in desert regions, following particularly wet seasons.

"Of the top 478 events, we identified 144 economically and socially disastrous extreme fire events that were concentrated in regions where humans have built into flammable forested landscapes, such as areas surrounding cities in southern Australia and western North America."

Using climate change model projections to investigate the likely consequences of climate change, the research found more extreme fires are predicted in the future for Australia's east coast, including Brisbane, and the whole of the Mediterranean region -- Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Turkey.

"The projections suggest an increase in the days conducive to extreme wildfire events by 20 to 50 per cent in these disaster-prone landscapes, with sharper increases in the subtropical Southern Hemisphere, and the European Mediterranean Basin," Professor Bowman said.

The research has been published in the scientific journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The research is released on the day the State remembers the impact of the1967 bushfires in the city of Hobart and across the South, which claimed the lives of 62 people, left 900 injured and more than 7,000 homeless.

The Cascade Brewery was destroyed during the Tasmanian Bushfires of 1967. 4 million beer bottles were fussed together from the intense heat.

David M. J. S. Bowman, Grant J. Williamson, John T. Abatzoglou, Crystal A. Kolden, Mark A. Cochrane, Alistair M. S. Smith. Human exposure and sensitivity to globally extreme wildfire events. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2017; 1: 0058 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-016-0058

Powerful Change: A Profile Of Today's Solar Consumer

February 7, 2017: Queensland University of Technology
People with higher incomes and better education no longer dominate demand for the domestic solar market in Queensland with a new QUT study revealing the highest uptake in solar PV systems comes from families on medium to lower incomes.

Over the past decade the profile of Queenslanders acquiring solar PV has changed significantly based on a study by QUT Dr Jeff Sommerfeld investigating the factors influencing solar PV uptake.

Dr Sommerfeld, from QUT's Creative Industries Faculty School of Design, said the study had knocked on the head any notion that solar PV was reserved for high-income, inner city, green voters.

"In fact, the highest uptake of solar PV systems is coming from families, those on low-incomes and with homes of three bedrooms or more," Dr Sommerfeld said.

The results of the study have been published in the latest edition of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews titled Influence of demographic variables on uptake of domestic solar photovoltaic technology.

Dr Sommerfeld said financial capacity, education status and home ownership had in the past been found to be important pre-requisites in the uptake of solar PV, but in reality there were a more complex system of variable factors at play.

"For the first time we have compared solar installation data since 2001 against factors including income, mortgage repayments, rent, family size, ownership, education status and number of bedrooms," he said.

"This revealed that the current uptake of solar PV is based on a complex mix of demographic factors rather than taking for granted a person's income, education or living in trendy suburbs.

"Despite the initial upfront investment, the vast majority of people acquiring solar are in outer suburbs that often have lower average incomes.

The results of the study showed:
  • the profile of consumers now acquiring solar PV users is vastly different from a decade ago;
  • income and education no longer define those acquiring solar;
  • home ownership remains a crucial feature of solar PV customers; and that the dwelling was most likely to be a house with three or more bedrooms occupied by a family of two or more; and
  • being aged over 55 years emerged as important features of current solar PV customers and may reflect concern about controlling electricity costs.
Dr Sommerfeld said the results of the study offered important policy implications for the introduction of emerging technology, such as the widespread introduction of battery systems.

"At the moment this technology is very new, priced out of reach for many and considered innovative," he said.

"But just like we have seen with the solar PV uptake where innovators take the lead, early adopters quickly follow and then the wider population comes on board, this research is a signpost of what we might expect to see with the introduction of battery systems."

Jeff Sommerfeld, Laurie Buys, Kerrie Mengersen, Desley Vine. Influence of demographic variables on uptake of domestic solar photovoltaic technology. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2017; 67: 315 DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2016.09.009

Invitation To Nominate Significant Places To The National Heritage List

Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
All Australians are invited to nominate places of exceptional natural, Indigenous, or historic significance to the nation for possible inclusion in the National Heritage List.

Nominations are now open for the 2017-18 assessment period and all Australians are welcome to recommend a place that contributes to our national story.

The National Heritage List celebrates and protects places of outstanding heritage value to all Australians. It reflects the story of our development as a nation, our spirit and ingenuity, and our unique, living landscapes.

There are 107 sites in the National Heritage List, from well-known places such as Uluru and the Sydney Opera House to lesser-known but equally important sites such as the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument in Queensland or the Bonegilla Migrant Camp in Victoria.

Listed places are protected under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and approval must be obtained before taking any action to ensure there is no significant impact on the national heritage values of the place.

Nominations for the National Heritage List should set out the qualities or values of the place that make it outstanding to the nation by indicating how it meets one or more of the heritage criteria. It is also important to ensure that the nomination is supported by all owners and occupiers and Indigenous people with rights or interests.

After consideration of all the places nominated and advice from the Australian Heritage Council on them the Government will decide on a final list of places for the Council to assess.  

The Australian Heritage Council will invite public comment on the places under assessment and consult extensively with everyone interested in the place, particularly owners and occupiers and Indigenous people with rights or interests.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved in this process and nominate places of outstanding significance to our nation.

The nomination period for the National Heritage List opens today (13 December 2016) and closes on 17 February 2017. For more information visit

$10 Million To Protect Koala Habitat 

Media Release: Hon. Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment 
The NSW Government will invest $10 million over five years to acquire vital koala habitat and will embark on a whole-of-government koala strategy to secure NSW koala populations, Environment Minister Mark Speakman announced today.

The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane AC’s Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW, released today, recommended developing an overarching strategy and investing in key areas of koala habitat.

Mr Speakman said the NSW Government commissioned the independent review in March.
“The independent review proposes 11 recommendations to help develop a strategy that can secure and eventually increase NSW koala numbers,” Mr Speakman said.

“The strategy will also complement the koala conservation work already being done under the NSW Government’s flagship $100 million Saving our Species program. This work will include projects, which improve koala habitat and trialling artificial water sources for koalas to mitigate heat stress.

“The $10 million investment follows the creation in March of flora reserves totalling 120 square km on the South Coast, run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to protect the last known local koala population.”

A three-month consultation program will include regional community information sessions, stakeholder meetings, webinars and information/feedback via a web portal.

“We want communities to look at the independent review and provide input to help direct the NSW Government’s strategy so we can preserve this iconic species for all generations to come,” Mr Speakman said.

To comment on the strategy’s direction
and to find out more about the NSW Government’s koala conservation
efforts through the Saving our Species program

Public exhibition for the Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project is from 4 December 2016 to 11:59pm 3 March 2017. You are invited tocomment on the Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project by sending a written submission during this time. Visit: HERE

Unearthing Immune Responses To Common Drugs

February 6, 2017: Monash University
Australian researchers are a step closer to understanding immune sensitivities to well-known, and commonly prescribed, medications.

Many drugs are successfully used to treat diseases, but can also have harmful side effects. While it has been known that some drugs can unpredictably impact on the functioning of the immune system, our understanding of this process has been unclear.

The team investigated what drugs might activate a specialised type of immune cell, the MAIT cell (Mucosal associated invariant T cell). They found that some drugs prevented the MAIT cells from detecting infections (their main role in our immune system), while other drugs activated the immune system, which may be undesirable.

The results, published in Nature Immunology overnight, may lead to a much better understanding of, and an explanation for, immune reactions by some people to certain kinds of drugs. The findings may also offer a way to control the actions of MAIT cells in certain illnesses for more positive patient outcomes.

The multidisciplinary team of researchers are part of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, and stem from Monash University, The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland. Access to national research infrastructure, including the Australian synchrotron, was instrumental to the success of this Australian research team.

Dr Andrew Keller from Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute said that T cells are an integral part of the body's immune system.

"They protect the body by 'checking' other cells for signs of infection and activating the immune system when they detect an invader," he said.

"This arrangement is dependent on both the T cells knowing what they're looking for, and the other cells in the body giving them useful information."

PhD student Weijun Xu from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience used computer modelling to predict chemical structures, drugs and drug-like molecules that might impact on MAIT cell function. Such small compounds included salicylates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like diclofenac, and drug metabolites.

University of Melbourne Dr Sidonia Eckle from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said the implications point to possible links between known drug hypersensitivities and MAIT cells.

"A greater understanding of the interaction between MAIT cells and other host cells will hopefully allow us to better predict and avoid therapeutics that influence and cause harm," she said.

"It also offers the tantalising prospect of future therapies that manipulate MAIT cell behaviour, for example, by enhancing or suppressing immune responses to achieve beneficial clinical outcome."

Andrew N Keller, Sidonia B G Eckle, Weijun Xu, Ligong Liu, Victoria A Hughes, Jeffrey Y W Mak, Bronwyn S Meehan, Troi Pediongco, Richard W Birkinshaw, Zhenjun Chen, Huimeng Wang, Criselle D'Souza, Lars Kjer-Nielsen, Nicholas A Gherardin, Dale I Godfrey, Lyudmila Kostenko, Alexandra J Corbett, Anthony W Purcell, David P Fairlie, James McCluskey, Jamie Rossjohn. Drugs and drug-like molecules can modulate the function of mucosal-associated invariant T cells. Nature Immunology, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/ni.3679

Myopia Cell Discovered In Retina: Dysfunction Of Cell May Be Linked To Amount Of Time A Child Spends Indoors

February 6, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered a cell in the retina that may cause myopia when it dysfunctions. The dysfunction may be linked to the amount of time a child spends indoors and away from natural light.

"This discovery could lead to a new therapeutic target to control myopia," said Greg Schwartz, lead investigator and assistant professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

More than a billion people in the world have myopia, whose incidence is rising and is linked to how much time people spend indoors as children.

The newly discovered retinal cell -- which is highly sensitive to light -- controls how the eye grows and develops. If the cell instructs the eye to grow too long, images fail to be focused on the retina, causing nearsighted vision and a lifetime of corrective glasses or contact lenses.

"The eye needs to stop growing at precisely the right time during childhood," Schwartz said.

It has long been long known the retina contains a signal to focus the image in the eye, and this signal is important for properly regulating eye growth during childhood.

"But for years no one knew what cell carried the signal," Schwartz said. "We potentially found the key missing link, which is the cell that actually does that task and the neural circuit that enables this important visual function."

Schwartz named the cell, "ON Delayed," in reference to its slow responses to lights becoming brighter. The cell was unique among many other cell types tested in its exquisite sensitivity to whether an image was in focus.

He described the neural circuit as the diagram that reveals how this cell is wired to other cells in the retina to acquire this unique sensitivity.

How too much time indoors may trigger myopia
The indoor light spectrum has high red/green contrast, which activates these clusters of photoreceptors in the human eye, creating the equivalent of an artificial contrast image on the retina. It's likely the human version of the ON Delayed retinal ganglion cell would be overstimulated by such patterns, causing aberrant over-growth of the eye, leading to myopia, Schwartz said.

The study will appear in the Feb. 20 print issue of Current Biology. It was published online Jan. 26.

To conduct the study, Schwartz and co-author Adam Mani, a postdoctoral fellow in ophthalmology at Feinberg, used microscopic glass electrodes to record electrical signals from cells in a mouse retina while presenting patterns of light on a digital projector.

The next goal is to find a gene specific to this cell. Then scientists can turn its activity up or down in a genetic mouse model to try to induce or cure myopia.

The study is part of Schwartz's larger body of research to reverse engineer the retina by identifying new retinal cell types in mice. The retina has about 50 types of retinal ganglion cells, which together convey all the information we use to perceive the visual world. Each of these cells provides different visual information -- such as color or motion -- about any point in space.

Schwartz, who is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), wants to identify the new cells by their specific function, analyze their genetic signatures and understand how the cells are interconnected within the retina and to their targets in the brain. His research could lead to gene therapy to treat blindness and to improve the function of artificial retinal prosthetics.

The article is titled "Circuit Mechanisms of a Retinal Ganglion Cell with Stimulus-Dependent Response Latency and Activation Beyond Its Dendrites." Original written by Marla Paul. 

Adam Mani, Gregory W. Schwartz. Circuit Mechanisms of a Retinal Ganglion Cell with Stimulus-Dependent Response Latency and Activation Beyond Its Dendrites. Current Biology, 2017; DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.033

$125 Million To Help Our Scientists Make The Next Great Medical Discovery

February 4, 2017: The Hon Greg Hunt MP – Minister for Health, Minister for Sport
The Turnbull Government is backing Australia’s world-leading medical researchers and scientists with $125.3 million to support their work in making the next major medical breakthrough.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding includes almost $39 million to fight multiple types of cancer facing children and adults, marking a significant investment on World Cancer Day.  
The research that’s being done today by our scientists is helping to make a better tomorrow for all of us.

Among the institutions receiving new funding, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne has been awarded $13.5 million to continue its world-leading research into cancer immunology and immunotherapy.

I am delighted to announce the $125 million funding grants at Peter Mac today.

Researchers at Peter Mac are looking at ways to boost the human body’s own ability to destroy cancer cells. The work they do is truly incredible.
In Queensland, the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute will receive almost $20 million to develop the tools needed to eliminate tropical diseases – an issue that’s still of particular importance and relevance in the sunshine state.

And with almost $43 million in new grants, medical research in New South Wales is receiving a major boost – with a particularly strong focus on cancer treatments and neuroscience.

Professor Paul Keall from the University of Sydney is one of those in NSW, and his team will receive $7 million to transform the way radiotherapy is delivered, increasing cancer control and decreasing side effects – a move that could help one in every two Australians who require this type of cancer treatment.

The grants will also support more than 230,000 Australians who live with chronic Hepatitis C Virus, with $7 million awarded to Professor Margaret Hellard from the Burnet Institute, to further her Direct Acting Antivirals work which has a cure rate of more than 90 per cent.

At the University of Adelaide, researchers will study how best to care for premature babies at home.

A New South Wales University team will investigate ways of limiting unexpected cardiac arrests in hospitals.

A team at the University of Tasmania will investigate if post-traumatic stress disorder is genetic.

And a Monash University group, in partnership with the AFL, will conduct a detailed study of detection and management of sports concussion with real-time detection of head impact in male and female footballers.

This are just a small, but very impressive, snapshot of the 110 projects and 232 researchers that will share in $125.3 million.

Mental health is a very strong personal passion of mine, so I think it’s fantastic that almost $10 million will be invested in this area.

The five-year grants will enable highly experience researchers to work together to tackle difficult problems in health and medicine.

As Health Minister, I am committed to building the world’s best health system right here in Australia.

The Turnbull Government is providing significant support for medical research and we have a rock solid commitment to Medicare.

For more information on the NHMRC grants, visit the NHMRC website. 

Grant highlights
Professor Joseph Trapani -  Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
Immunobiology and immunotherapy of cancer
Program Grant – $13,202,440
The Peter Mac centre is changing how cancer is treated. For 60 years, there have been three effective cancer treatments: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, often used in combination. For the last five years there has been a powerful fourth treatment – the patient's own immune system. The Peter Mac Centre has developed advances in immune-based therapies and poised to develop several further immunotherapies and is on track to test them in patients during the term of this grant.

Professor James McCarthy - QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Tropical diseases: Translating discoveries into better health
Program Grant—$19,803,660
While major progress is being made in the control of many infectious diseases occurring in tropical areas, including malaria, worms and the bacteria that cause strep throat, current tools will not permit their full control or elimination. Professor McCarthy and his team aim to improve understanding of these diseases and to develop the much-needed tools that will be required for their elimination.

Professor Ashley Bush - Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Biomarkers to aid clinical trials for neurodegenerative disease
Program Grant— $13,179,875
Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease continue to affect more Australians every year, due to an ageing population and the lack of effective drugs currently available. While these diseases present with different symptoms, Professor Bush’s team discovered that they share a common underlying feature—the inability to clear certain metals and proteins from the brain. The program aims to explore these clearance pathways in the brain and identify new targets to help better diagnose and treat these diseases.

Professor Paul Keall - University of Sydney
The Australian MRI-Linac Program: Transforming the science and clinical practice of cancer radiotherapy
Program Grant—$7,001,475
Approximately 48 per cent of cancer patients require radiotherapy. The Australian MRI-Linac Program will change the science and clinical practice of radiotherapy by explicitly targeting the dynamic anatomy and physiology of cancer, increasing cancer control and decreasing treatment side effects. Successful completion of Professor Keall’s program will have a direct impact on the treatment and lives of Australian cancer patients in the near future.

Professor Margaret Hellard - Burnet Institute
The elimination of Hepatitis C as a global public health threat
Program Grant—$7,001,475
More than 230,000 Australians live with chronic Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, with an estimated annual health care cost of $6.5 billion if left untreated. New highly effective HCV medications—direct acting antivirals (DAAs)—have a cure rate of more than 90 per cent. DAAs will revolutionise HCV care and can now stop HCV-related deaths and transmission making HCV elimination possible. Professor Hellard and her team’s program will directly contribute to the global response to HCV elimination and Australia achieving elimination by 2030.

Professor David Atkinson - University of Western Australia
Improving mental health screening for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women and mothers of young children
Partnership Project—$1,369,612
Mental health during and after pregnancy is important for the well-being of both mother and infant. Unfortunately, Aboriginal women in remote Australia have high levels of anxiety and depression, which can have significant short and long-term impacts on both mother and child. Currently these issues are often not identified and, if identified, services may not feel equipped to address them. This study aims to improve screening for, and contribute to addressing, perinatal mental health issues.

Courtney Ryder - The George Institute for Global Health
Quality of life, associated psychological and economic family impacts, and trajectory of recovery in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paediatric burns patients
Postgraduate Scholarship— $86,117
Over a third of burns injuries in Australia are paediatric, with over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Burns are a major injury, having devastating long-term consequences, connected to psychological distress, trauma, cost and disability. Ms Ryder’s research will focus on quality of life measures, economic impacts and psychological distress, and investigate enabling and inhibitory factors to burns recovery in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their family.

Dr Kareeann Khow - University of Adelaide
Fragility fractures and outcomes in older people
Postgraduate Scholarship—$86,733
Falls and broken bones are costly health problems among the elderly, even more so when there is a growing older population aged over 65 years. In Australia, about one million older people have at least one fall each year and about 40–60 per cent will sustain major injuries including broken bones. Dr Khow’s research will identify effective ways to reduce falls and improve outcomes of those who break a bone, especially of the hip.

Over-Thinking And Stress Stops Most From Losing Weight 

When it comes to diets, most Australians tend to over-think, have too high expectations and are anxious about failure - all of which can derail the best intentions.

CSIRO behavioural scientists have recently identified the dominant diet type among Australian adults, revealing why many people find it hard to maintain a healthy diet.

They found there are five behavioural "Diet Types" with the over-thinking, anxious perfectionist the predominant type.

The CSIRO surveyed more than 28,000 Australian adults to identify the personality traits and behavioural patterns in relation to eating and weight loss.

The 'Thinker' diet type was the leading type among 41 per cent of adults. People who identify with the Thinker diet type are goal-oriented and analytical.
Yet these same qualities can be counterproductive to achieving diet goals when the Thinker tends to over-analyse every decision, set unrealistic expectations and give themselves little margin for error. This type is more prone to self-doubt, anxiety and stress, which can lead to over-eating and low success.

The research found Australians are motivated to lose weight with nine out of 10 of the surveyed adults attempting to lose weight in their lifetime. About 50 per cent have made more than six attempts while almost 20 per cent has tried more than 25 times.

Even with this strong motivation and persistence to lose weight, obesity rates remain high.

The Diet Types program aims to address this gap by identifying a person's psychological characteristics which play a key role in improving diet success.

The most and least common of the five main diet personality types across the surveyed population were:
• The Thinker - 41% - Overthinking and worrying about failure leads to stress which can derail diet progress
• The Craver – 25% - Craves delicious food and finds it hard to stop, leading to overeating in tempting situations
• The Foodie – 15% - Loves making, eating and experiencing food
• The Socialiser – 15% - Flexibility is essential – you won't let strict food restrictions stifle your social life
• The Freewheeler - 4% - Makes spontaneous and impulsive food choices, finds planning meals hard

"If you have struggled to maintain your diet after a few weeks, your personal diet type will shed light on what behaviours and habits are creating a barrier for you," CSIRO Behavioural Scientist Dr Sinead Golley said.

"Knowing your personal Diet Type helps you maintain a healthy eating plan because you are more aware and equipped to manage moments of weakness.

"Successful weight loss requires a different mindset, focused on long-term total wellbeing. If you identify as a Thinker, you can improve your eating habits by reflecting more on positive changes and rewarding progressive achievements towards your goal."

The data revealed interesting results for the other four diet types. The second most common type, 'The Craver' scored high for people who were obese, while people who identified with 'The Foodie' type were more likely to be a normal weight. This suggests that Cravers may need particular strategies to help them cope with strong desires for food.

When it came to differences between the generations, 'The Craver' group had a high proportion of young adults. Older people scored high for 'The Socialiser' type.

The CSIRO launched the new online Diet Type assessment last month to help Australians better understand their personal diet type to successfully maintain a diet. Participants fill in a short survey to receive instant, personalised feedback about the participant's diet type profile and the right strategies to manage it.

More than 28,000 completed the Diet Type assessment in the first two days after it launched. By early February more than 55,000 people have completed the assessment.

"The large number of participants using the Diet Type assessment demonstrates Australians are highly motivated to understand their personal diet type and what drives their eating habits," CSIRO Research Director and co-author of the Total Wellbeing Diet, Professor Manny Noakes, said.

"Our goal with the diet type program is to connect people with a more personalised eating plan to deliver more sustainable, longer lasting changes in healthy eating habits."

If you'd like to learn more or complete the diet type assessment for free please visit

Grants To Support Participation Of People With Disability At Conferences

7 February 2017
The Australian Government is offering grants of up to $10,000 to assist people with disability to participate in nationally-focused, disability-related conferences held in Australia.  

The Hon Jane Prentice, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, said the the National Disability Conference Initiative will ensure people with disability have the opportunity to participate in conferences about issues affecting their lives.

“These grants will help people with disability to participate in events which may have otherwise been inaccessible to them,” she said.

“Conference organisers can use these grants to ensure people with disability can better participate by developing accessible materials, employing Auslan interpreters or offering assistive computer devices or software, aids or appliances.

“The funds can also be used for expenses such as conference fees, travel and accommodation for people with disability.”

The National Disability Conference Initiative aims to promote inclusive and accessible communities, consistent with the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020.

Grants are available for nationally-focused, disability-related conferences held in Australia between 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018.

Applications close at 2pm AEDT on 14 March 2017.  

More information about how to apply for a National Disability Conference Initiative Grant can be found at


08 February 2017
Prime Minister
Minister for Indigenous Affairs
The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council has been refreshed with new membership as part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to closer engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The new Council will play an important role by engaging at the heart of Government, including with the Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet, collaborating with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and ensuring the government is well positioned to renew the expiring Closing the Gap targets in the year ahead.

The appointments reflect the expertise and innovation that exist in Indigenous Australia and we look forward to working with the new Council to drive better outcomes for our First Australians.

The following Council members have been appointed for a period of three years:

Andrea Mason – CEO of the NPY Women’s Council Susan Murphy – CEO of Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation Ngiare Brown – Professor of Indigenous Health at the University of Wollongong Roy Ah See – Chair of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council Chris Sarra – Founder and Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute Djambawa Marawilli – Traditional owner from Baniyala

All members of the Council appointed today are highly respected in their chosen fields and bring strong practical policy knowledge. This will ensure the Council is able to provide the Government with a range of advice to help deliver better outcomes in partnership with Indigenous people and communities.

Today’s appointments are part of a two-staged appointment process. The new Council members will meet and provide advice to the Government on the final makeup of the Council and its terms of reference. This will include engaging with other Indigenous Australians who have requested to be on the Council. This is a strong endorsement for the continuation of the Council and demonstrates that Indigenous Australians are  very focused on working in partnership with the Government on the issues impacting their communities.

The refreshed Council reflects the Government’s deep commitment to doing things with Indigenous Australians in a genuine partnership. The Council is expected to work with, and draw in, other Indigenous Australians to ensure the Government has advice from a range of stakeholders and communities.

We have asked that the Council continue to focus on the Government’s priorities of education, community safety and justice, and employment.

We thank the members of the Council who have served over the past three years, in particular Warren Mundine for his service as Chair. We look forward to continuing to work with the former Coucil members, seeking their guidance, experience and expertise.

Civil Society Delegates For CSW61 Announced

7 February 2017: Media release - Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
The Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash today announced the non-government delegates to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61).

Ms Jahna Cedar, Ms Elizabeth Shaw and Ms Leann Wilson will represent Australia at CSW61, the world’s highest forum on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

"I am delighted to announce the 2017 non-government CSW delegates, who were selected based on their leadership qualities and outstanding contributions to their communities and the advancement of women," Minister Cash said.

The CSW meets annually in New York to promote women’s rights and actively shape global standards on gender equality and women’s empowerment. This year, CSW61 will be guided by the theme of women’s economic empowerment, with a focus on the empowerment of Indigenous women.

"Boosting women’s economic participation is essential for our society to prosper in the 21st century," Minister Cash said.

"With the employment rate for Indigenous women 25.5 percentage points below the rate for non-Indigenous women it is crucial that the discussion includes economic empowerment through employment for Indigenous women."

"I’m confident that Australia’s non-government delegates will contribute productively to these important discussions."

Non-government delegates play an invaluable role in ensuring a broad range of views are represented at CSW. The delegates will provide expert advice to the Australian Government and liaise with domestic and international civil society organisations.

CSW61 will be held in New York from 13-24 March 2017. For more information, visit the UN Women website.

Non-government delegates to the CSW61

Ms Jahna Cedar
Ms Cedar is the Executive Officer at Gumala Aboriginal Corporation and has worked and advocated for gender equality and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reconciliation for over 18 years. Ms Cedar’s achievements are marked by her induction into the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

Ms. Elizabeth Shaw
Ms Shaw is the President of UN Women Australia, the youngest woman to hold the position. Ms Shaw has written extensively on gender issues and presented on diversity and inclusion options around Australia and at the UN. In 2016, she was listed as one of Australia’s ‘100 Women of Influence’ by AFR and Westpac.

Ms Leann Wilson
Ms Wilson is the Executive Director of Business Development and Innovation for Regional Economic Solutions. Ms. Wilson has worked extensively to progress the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, with a focus on women’s leadership and empowerment.

Consumers King As Country Of Origin Laws Pass Parliament

9 February 2017: Media Release
A KEY commitment to introduce sweeping changes to Australia’s Country of Origin labelling system was delivered last night, as the Turnbull-Joyce Government kept its commitment to Australian consumers, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack says.

Legislation passed by the Senate last night will clarify when to use “made-in” and “packed-in” claims.

“These changes are sweeping and necessary, and will give consumers more information about the products they purchase from supermarket shelves clearly and concisely,” Mr McCormack said.

As Small Business Minister, Mr McCormack has responsibility for consumer affairs and says better information for consumers was central to the Coalition’s plan.

“We understand how busy Australian consumers are and how they want more information on Country of Origin labelling, which is easy-to-use and clear,” Mr McCormack said.

“That’s why we consulted widely on the scope and scale of the labelling system, to give consumers the information they want.

“More and more, Australians are conscious of where their food comes from and want to buy Australian product to keep our farmers doing what they do best, whilst keeping jobs and services local in communities.

“As a country MP I also understand how crucial these sweeping changes are for producers and for country communities more broadly. This is an issue constituents have often raised with me since I was elected to Parliament and I am delighted the Government has delivered on our promise.

“Businesses can now be confident in rolling out the new labels and consumers will soon see even clearer information for their favourite products on supermarket shelves.”

For food businesses, an online tool to assist businesses in creating labels, along with a range of other information and support for business, is available at the

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin' 

TV Movie, The Times They are a Changing' (1964)
Directed by: Daryl Duke

Bird Walks And Talks 2017: PNHA

Come and see and hear some of our fantastic native birds, many of which you'll never see in your garden. Join in a Sunday guided bird walk with Pittwater Natural Heritage Association. All walks  start at 8am and end about 10am.

March 26, Irrawong reserve. Meet at corner Irrawong Rd and  Epworth Rd.
May 28, Warriewood Wetlands, meet at End of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen.
August 27 Chiltern Track. Meet at gate, off northern of Chiltern Rd Ingleside.
September 17 Irrawong reserve. Meet at corner Irrawong Rd and Epworth Rd.
November 26 Warriewood Wetlands. Meet end of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen. 

Bring binoculars if possible. Drink, hat and comfortable shoes.
More information contact or 
Ph Kerry on 0402605 721.

You don't need to book but if we know you're coming we'll watch out for you. Call if in doubt about weather as we won't go out if it's raining.

Av. Green Team Back At Work

Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon in Sydney. Trying to keep our area green and clean!

Keep up to date with and join in their next cleansvia their facebook page

Broken Hill North Mine Recommencement Project

Recommencement of underground mining operations at the Broken Hill North Mine (see attached Environmental Impact Statement). 

Exhibition Start   05/02/2017
Exhibition End 06/03/2017

Project is currently on public exhibition and opportunity for public submissions is available. Visit HERE

$1 Million In Grants To Support Environmental Research

Media release: 6 February 2017- NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
Grant funding of $1 million is now available as the NSW Environmental Trust Environmental Research program opens for expressions of interest.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Chief Executive and Trust Secretary Michael Wright said the funding will go towards helping solve current and future environmental issues with innovative and sustainable research solutions.

"The funding supports academics and scientific institutions, working in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders, as they use applied research to investigate new knowledge and advanced techniques to answer complex environmental issues," Mr Wright said.

"For the 2017 grant program, new research priorities have been set and proposals must focus on contaminants and pollution; biodiversity; climate adaption and/or mechanisms for social engagement.

"Past funding has played a critical role in a variety of projects, from investigating the ecological benefits of blackwater through to examining identification of hazardous organics at fire scenes.

"The funding will go towards preventing environmental harm and forging successful, real-world solutions to solve environmental problems in NSW.

"Individual grants of up to $150,000 are available and I encourage interested researchers to apply.

"A total of 187 expressions of interest were received in the last funding round; I anticipate high interest in this round too," Mr Wright said.

The 2017 Environmental Research program, run by the NSW Environmental Trust, opens for expressions of interest on Monday 6 February and closes on Monday 13 March.

To find out more about the application process visit the Environmental Trust’s website: Environmental research grants.

Myna Action Group 

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
Indian Mynas - what a pest - like flying rats. 
Can you help distribute our new flyers about our Northern Beaches Indian Myna Action Group? 

They are for people in cafes and coffee shops, explaining why not to feed these birds and how to get involved in their control. Just take a few and hand out where ever you can. Cafe staff are usually glad of the help. Contact us on for more information and have a look at

Indian Mynas are displacing our native birds. 
They often nest in and around shops where their food source is. I took this one down this morning in Avalon (no chicks or eggs but I disturbed the female). There were literally hundreds of tiny bits of plastic in the nest which makes you think that all this plastic would be swilling down the stormwater drains into the sea.

Clean Up Australia Day 2017

Register or join a site at:

Coasters Retreat
Meeting Point: The fire brigade shed
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 9:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Contact Wilma Taylor - Email:

Avalon Beach
Meeting Point: Avalon Beach SLSC.
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 9:00 AM
End time: 10:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Guy Williment - Email:

Avalon Dunes Careel Creek
Meeting Point: near Avalon Skate Park
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 8:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Marita Macrae - Email:

Bayview Shore Front
Come For Half An Hour Or As Long As You Can Manage. Plastic Is The Number One Material Caught In The Mangroves, Buried In Mud And Sand And Mixed In With Shore Debris.
Meeting Point: Bayview Baths - in the park to the right of Gibsons Marina
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 08:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Louise Smith - Email:

Coastal Environment Centre
Representing: Upper Northern Beaches Rotary Club
Meeting Point: Volunteers will meet at the Coastal Environment Centre and work north towards Warriewood SLSC
This Clean Up is a recurring one which takes place yearly.
Next Clean Up: March 5th 2017
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 9:30 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Michael Baxter - Email:

Mona Vale Beach
Representing: Blackmores Ltd
Meeting Point: Car park next to Bronze Cafe
Date: March 2nd 2017
Start time: 7:00 AM
End time: 2:00 PM
Site Coordinator Details
Jackie Smiles - Email:

Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Representing: Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment
Meeting Point: Berry Reserve
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 8:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Judith Bennett - Email:

Red-Letter Day For Rabbit Management

7 Feb 2017: NSW Department of Primary Industries
February 2017 marks a huge turning point in pest rabbit management for Australia, with the national mail out of information to drive the release of RHDV1 K5, the Korean strain of a naturally-occurring rabbit virus first released here in 1996.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) invasive species manager, Quentin Hart, said information kits have this month been mailed to 265 community release sites in NSW, prior to the March release of RHDV1 K5.
"The community is leading and managing the strategic release of the virus across NSW, with support from NSW DPI and Local Land Services," Mr Hart said.

"Three intensive management sites near Orange, Gundagai and Hay, linked with the community-led sites, will be managed and monitored by NSW DPI and Local Land Services."

Information kits include specific instructions on how to manage and monitor rabbit control programs, including RHDV1 K5 and conventional management.

NSW DPI advises rabbit owners to vaccinate domestic rabbits and provide additional protection against the virus and myxomatosis by keeping rabbits inside or in insect-proof enclosures.

Pet owners should contact a veterinarian for advice on how to protect their rabbits, with online information available from the Australian Veterinary Association.

Release of RHDV1 K5 is planned nationally in the first week of March 2017 as part of Australia’s 20-year plan to reduce negative impacts on agriculture, the environment and communities through managing rabbit populations.

The European rabbit is Australia’s most destructive agricultural pest animal, costing more than $200 million in lost agricultural production annually and wreaking havoc on the environment and biodiversity, affecting 304 threatened native plant and animal species.

National release of RHDV1 K5 has been delivered through the Invasive Animals CRC, with major financial and in kind resources provided by the Australian and NSW governments, CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation and Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia.

Native species, like this mountain pygmy possum living in the Snowy Mountains Kosciuszko National Park, are critically endangered by the damage rabbits cause in destroying their habitat and food sources.

New Approach For Assessing The Social Impacts Of Mining

By NSW Dept. of Planning & Environment
The assessment of the social impacts of mining projects will be strengthened following the exhibition of draft social impact assessment guidelines.

The guidelines have been developed to improve the quality and utility of social impact assessments, which in turn will drive better project design and provide greater certainty to local communities and proponents.

Examples of positive social impacts may include increased employment opportunities and support for local businesses and organisations, whilst examples of negative social impacts may include community dislocation and amenity loss.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the new guidelines reflect the important principle that people are at the heart of planning decisions.

“It’s critical that impacts on communities are thoroughly considered and addressed in the assessment of mining projects,” Mr Stokes said.

“These guidelines will support consistency and fairness in decision making, while driving greater accountability and transparency with respect to the social impacts.”

The draft guidelines have been informed by:
  • meetings with local groups in eight locations across rural, regional and remote NSW;
  • advice on current leading practice from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, a respected leader in the field of social impact assessment; and
  • consultation with peak community, environment, industry, local government and Aboriginal groups via the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Advisory Forum.
The draft guidelines have been released for an extended public exhibition and submission period of 12 weeks from 8 December 2016 until 3 March 2017. The Department will also conduct community workshops and stakeholder briefing sessions.

To view the draft guidelines or to make a submission, please visit

Draft NSW Marine Estate Threat And Risk Assessment Report Released

January 2017: Media Release - NSW DPI
The Marine Estate Management Authority has released the draft statewide Threat and Risk Assessment (TARA) Report for the NSW marine estate.
Authority Chair Dr Wendy Craik said the draft report summarises the first statewide evidence-based assessment of the threats to the social and economic benefits of the marine estate and the environmental assets that support them.

“The draft TARA report has been developed based on the best available scientific evidence and advice from experts, stakeholders and the community,” she said.

Dr Craik said the NSW community had helped identify the social and economic benefits our estuaries and coastline provide, and the importance of the environmental assets that underpin them, during a statewide survey in 2014.

“These benefits include recreational pursuits such as swimming or surfing at the beach, boating, fishing, and commercial and tourism opportunities such as shipping, commercial and charter fishing, SCUBA diving and others,” she said.

“Community members and stakeholders now have an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft report, which highlights potential threats to these benefits and the marine estate’s environmental assets.”

Dr Craik said short videos and an interactive tool are being provided to facilitate community feedback and discussion by presenting the report results in a user-friendly way.

“We are committed to managing our marine estate for the benefit of the community, and this report and the process is designed to support and encourage participation,” she said.

The final report will inform the ongoing management of the NSW marine estate through the drafting of a new 10-year Marine Estate Management Strategy.

It will also be considered in the creation of new management plans, starting with the Solitary Islands and Batemans Marine Parks.

The draft TARA report includes revised findings for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion, now called the ‘Central Region’.

The draft report delivers on a key commitment of the NSW Government, to provide evidence-based management of the NSW marine estate, and is a requirement of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014.

More information

The public comment period closes on Friday, 31 March 2017. Key marine estate stakeholders will be invited to participate in a series of workshops to be held along the coast in February and March

Tomato Festival Sydney

February 18 – February 19
Feb 18 at 10 AM to Feb 19 at 4 PM
The Band Lawn at The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

The award-winning Tomato Festival Sydney returns for a fourth year on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 February, 10am – 4pm at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Bring along the whole family for an inspiring harbourside food festival celebrating all things tomato.

Set on the spectacular foreshore lawns of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the Festival Village will be buzzing with exciting, fun and delicious activities, with something for everyone.
  • Village market dedicated to local producers and artisans
  • Talks and cooking demonstrations
  • Relish pop-up café & bar
  • Free Garden tours
  • Children’s activities including pizza making
  • Tomato mandala
  • Home-grown tomato competitions
  • Free Diggers Heirloom Tomato Taste Test
  • Longest Tomato Lunch
Tomatoes are enjoyed all over the world, in all manner of ways. From salads to sauces, pizza to pastas, the fabulous tomato has become a key ingredient in all our lives. This is your chance to celebrate them!

In 2016 chillies spiced up the Festival, in 2017 it will be the fragrant and diverse world of herbs!

The Festival promotes local and seasonal produce, heirloom varieties, bush tucker as well as growing and preserving the season’s bounty in an imaginative and accessible way. This, in turn, can change behaviour and drive a passion for food, where it comes from and an understanding of the important role plants play in our lives

Planning Reforms To Boost Housing Supply

09.01.2017: Ministerial Media Release - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
Making it simpler to build a home and enhancing community participation in key decisions will be now easier through a package of red tape-busting reforms released for consultation by the NSW Government today.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 target delays in Development Application (DA) processing by councils, while also enhancing community confidence in the planning system.

The proposed changes include standardising the format of council’s development control plans to make them easier to understand and navigate, giving developers incentives to resolve objections before lodging DAs, and focusing councillor attention on strategic planning with greater numbers of DA assessments being processed by staff or local planning panels.

Local communities will have greater opportunity to participate in strategic planning for their neighbourhoods as early as practicable, with each planning authority required to prepare community participation plans. 

Other proposed changes include leveling the playing field for the assessment of major projects by ending transitional arrangements under Labor’s controversial Part 3A development assessment which will prevent the misuse of modifications. 

Mr Stokes said the state was experiencing the longest housing construction boom in NSW history with the latest figures for the 12 months to October showing 74,577 approvals, the second highest on record.

“However, there is still more work to do and these planning reforms build on our impressive results over the past five years by making it easier to build new homes,” Mr Stokes said.

“The NSW Government is determined to do everything it can, including making the planning system more efficient, to ensure housing supply gets to homebuyers fast.”

Mr Stokes said NSW Treasury estimated there is pent up demand for up to 100,000 new homes due to the former Labor Government failing to provide adequate supply.  

Proposed updates to the EP&A Act include:
• Investigating incentives for developers to consult with neighbours and the surrounding community to ensure disputes are resolved prior to a Development  Application proceeding to council;
• New powers for the Planning Minister to direct a council to establish a local planning panels of experts and community representatives;
• A standardised format for development control plans, produced in consultation with councils, to promote consistency across the confusing array of up to 400 formats currently used in NSW;
• Authority for the Department of Planning and Environment Secretary to ensure the efficient processing of developments that require separate approvals and advice under different NSW legislation;
• Measures to ensure that local environmental plans are kept up to date;
• Extending and improving the complying development assessment process that currently covers most new one or two storey dwellings, to include greenfield developments and terrace housing.
• Simplifying and consolidating building provisions to remove confusion for developers;
• Widening the availability of internal review options for proponents aggrieved by council decisions as a faster, low cost alternative to court action; and
• Introducing fair and consistent planning agreements between developers and councils to ensure there is more transparency on deals to fund public amenities, affordable housing, transport and other infrastructure.

Mr Stokes said the planning reforms would assist the NSW Government deliver the 725,000 new homes forecast to be required by 2036 to house an extra 1.7 million residents.

The community is encouraged to have its say on the proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. These updates are on public exhibition from 9 January – 10 March 2017, and can be viewed at 

The consultation package comprises four documents:
2. Bill guide  
3. Draft Bill - Environmental Planning and Assessment
Amendment Bill 2017

Have your say on the draft updates to the EP&A Act 
Consultation is now underway on the draft amendments to the EP&A Act, details of which are at the ‘Key documents’ tab above.

The public consultation period for the Bill is from 10 January 2017 to 10 March 2017.

We encourage our stakeholders, interested community groups and individuals to review the reforms and respond:
• by mail to: 
Planning legislation updates 2017
NSW Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

Lendlease To Deliver One-Kilometre-Long Bridge On Pacific Highway

MEDIA RELEASE: 09 February 2017
JOINT RELEASE WITH: Kevin Hogan, Federal Member for Page
Melinda Pavey, NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight
Chris Gulaptis, Member for Clarence
Lendlease Engineering announced as preferred contractor to deliver kilometre-long bridge over the Richmond River, one of two major bridges on the 155-kilometre Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade
Full duplication of the Pacific Highway on track for completion by 2020
A new one-kilometre-long bridge over the Richmond River at Broadwater is a step closer following today’s announcement of Lendlease Engineering as the preferred contractor to deliver the project.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the bridge was part of the 155-kilometre Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

“The bridge over the Richmond River at Broadwater is the second of two major new crossings on this section of the upgrade, along with the new Clarence River bridge at Harwood,” Mr Chester said.

“More than 100 bridges, including new or replacement bridges over existing creeks, underpasses and overpasses, will be built as part of this transformational and life-saving project, which has already helped halve fatalities on the Pacific Highway since the upgrade commenced.”

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the progress made on the bridges was just one sign of the momentum in the Woolgoolga to Ballina section.

“Between Woolgoolga and Ballina, work is now underway on 104 kilometres of the upgrade, with the remaining 51 kilometres in planning. Work is well advanced between Woolgoolga and Glenugie, with this 26-kilometre section of the upgrade on track to progressively open to traffic in 2017, weather permitting,” Mr Hogan said.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the announcement was great news for the local community.

“The Pacific Highway corridor is a critical link for hundreds of thousands of motorists travelling on the east coast each year. The tender will provide local opportunities, which is always welcome,” Mr Gulaptis said.

New South Wales Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the upgrade was Australia’s largest regional infrastructure project.

“This upgrade of the existing highway from Woolgoolga to Ballina to a four-lane divided road will be the final link in the duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2020, and this section remains a hive of activity,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Soft soil works, which are being carried out before major work begins, are continuing at a number of locations along the length of the upgrade, including around Maclean and Woodburn,” Mrs Pavey said.

The Australian and New South Wales governments are jointly funding the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade on an 80:20 basis. More information on the project and the various works underway is available

Have Your Say On Proposed Improvements To Campbells Cove In The Rocks

08.02.2017:  Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

A proposal by Property NSW for public domain and foreshore improvements at Campbell’s Cove in The Rocks is on exhibition for community consultation.
The proposed works include:
  • a new 10-metre-wide promenade
  • a new waterfront leisure area and amphitheatre for public events
  • a shared plaza/pedestrian square with reduced land levels, pedestrian circulation and truck access to the new Overseas Passenger Terminal wharf extension
  • new east-west connections from the Campbell’s Cove promenade to Hickson Road and The Rocks
Submissions can be made from Wednesday 8 February until Friday 10 March 2017. 
View the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or make a submission here. 

2017 Elizabeth O’Neill Journalism Award Recipients

8 February 2017: Media release - Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Julie Bishop MP
I am pleased to announce that Australian journalist Bonny Symons-Brown and Indonesian journalist Josie Susilo Hardianto are the recipients of this year’s prestigious Elizabeth O’Neill Journalism Award.

Ms Symons-Brown, Supervising Producer and Reporter of The Drum, ABC TV and Mr Hardianto, International Desk Editor of Kompas newspaper, will spend two weeks in Indonesia and Australia respectively, to gain a stronger understanding of contemporary issues in each country.

As part of their visits, Ms Symons-Brown and Mr Hardianto will meet with community leaders, government officials, industry representatives and NGOs.

The Award commemorates the distinguished career of Elizabeth O’Neill OAM, who died in Indonesia in the service of the Australian Government on 7 March 2007. The awardees share Elizabeth’s commitment to encouraging better mutual understanding between Australians and Indonesians through accurate and informed media coverage.

The annual Elizabeth O'Neill Journalism Award is sponsored by the Australian Government through the Australia-Indonesia Institute

The Life And Lens Of Photographer George Caddy

The photographs of Australia’s most important amateur photographer are an astonishing modernist record of Bondi Beach and its people during a remarkable era. The champion jitterbug dancer captured the incredible displays of ‘beachobatics’ popular at the time as well as fitness fanatics, leisure seekers, bathers and lifesavers enjoying the famous strip of sand during the 30s and 40s.

Online Exhibition and Story by the wonderful State Library of NSW at:

Teachers May Be Cause Of 'Obesity Penalty' On Girls' Grades

February 7, 2017
While obesity is often thought of as a health problem, a new study by a University of Illinois at Chicago sociologist suggests that discrimination by body weight may be the more important factor for obese white female students' lower success in school.

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Sociology of Education, indicates that the relationship between obesity and academic performance may result largely from educators interacting differently with girls of various sizes, rather than from obesity's effects on girls' physical health.

Even when they scored the same on ability tests, obese white girls received worse high school grades than their normal-weight peers.Teachers rated them as less academically able as early as elementary school, according to the report's author, Amelia Branigan, UIC visiting assistant professor of sociology.

Branigan analysed elementary school students around age 9 in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, and high school students approximately 18 years old in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997 cohort. The elementary school students were evaluated by teacher-assessed academic performance, while grade point average was the measured outcome used to assess the high school students.

The study found obesity to be associated with a penalty on teacher evaluations of academic performance among white girls in English, but not in math. There was no penalty observed for white girls who were overweight but not obese.

"Obese white girls are only penalised in 'female' course subjects like English," Branigan said. "This suggests that obesity may be most harshly judged in settings where girls are expected to be more stereotypically feminine."

Consistent with prior work on obesity and wages and other academic outcomes, no similar association was found in either math or English for white boys, or for black students of either sex. This may reflect findings that obesity is more stigmatised among white women than among white men or individuals of other races, according to Brannigan, who says social interventions for teachers may lessen the performance gap.

"As we continue to combat childhood obesity, efforts to also counter negative social perceptions of obese individuals would have advantages in terms of both educational outcomes and social equity more generally," she said.

Amelia R. Branigan. (How) Does Obesity Harm Academic Performance? Stratification at the Intersection of Race, Sex, and Body Size in Elementary and High School. Sociology of Education, 2017; 90 (1): 25 DOI: 10.1177/0038040716680271

2017 Domestic And Overseas Commemorations

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said 2017 would feature a number of significant military commemorations to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have fought to defend our country.
Registration to attend overseas commemorations is now open and passes are provided at no cost. Details on how to register are available on DVA’s website at Passes are not required to attend domestic commemorations.

In Australia, commemorations will be held for 75th anniversaries of Second World War events, the Fall of Singapore, the Battle of the Coral Sea, Bomber Command operations, the Battle of Milne Bay, the Battle of El Alamein and the culmination of the North Africa campaigns, and Kokoda and the Beachheads. A commemoration will also be held to recognise the 70th anniversary of the contribution made by Australian peacekeepers and peacemakers around the world.

Overseas, Australia will commemorate the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Bullecourt in France, the Battle of Polygon Wood in Belgium and the Battle of Beersheba in Israel from the First World War.

The Australian Government will support Anzac Day Dawn Services in France, Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Borneo in 2017.
On 25 April, the commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt will be recognised in a service at the ‘Digger Memorial’ in the Australian Memorial Park in Bullecourt. More than 1,100 Australians were taken prisoner during the Battle of Bullecourt — the largest number captured in a single engagement during the First World War.

A commemoration to mark the Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood will be held at Buttes New British Cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium on 26 September 2017. Polygon Wood was one of five battles in which Australians were involved as part of the larger British and dominion offensive known as the Third Battle of Passchendaele. In eight weeks of fighting there were 38,000 Australian casualties.

On 31 October 2017, in Israel, a commemoration will recognise the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, and the famous charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade. At sunset on 31 October 1917, the light horsemen charged the Turkish lines using their bayonets as swords; the momentum of the surprise attack carried them through the Turkish defences and more than 1,000 prisoners were taken.

In 2017 Australia will also mark its other days of national commemoration including Battle for Australia Day, Merchant Navy Day and Remembrance Day.

“As a nation we continue to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in defence of our nation,” Mr Tehan said.
“It is incredibly moving to stand on a foreign field where Australians have fought and died for our values and reflect on the enormous debt we owe to the men and women who serve in our military.

“Many Australians will be planning overseas trips this year to attend a commemoration service and pay their respects and I encourage them to register early.”

Key Domestic and International Commemorations for 2017

15 February 2017 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore - Ballarat, Victoria
25 April 2017  Anzac Day Canberra Anzac Day Turkey Anzac Day France Anzac Day PNG Anzac Day Thailand Anzac Day Borneo Anzac Day Belgium Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt Australian War Memorial Gallipoli, Turkey Villers-Bretonneux, France Isurava, PNGHellfire Pass, Thailand Sandakan, BorneoYpres, Belgium Bullecourt, France
4 May 2017 Battle of Coral Sea Day Australian War Memorial
4 June 2017 75th anniversary of Bomber Command Operations -Australian War Memorial
25 August 2017 75th anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay  - Australian War Memorial
14 September 2017 70th anniversary Australian Peacekeepers and Peacemakers -Anzac Parade, Canberra
26 September 2017 Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood, Passchendaele - Zonnebeke, Belgium
23 October 2017 75th anniversary of the start of El Alamein -Australian War Memorial
31 October 2017 Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba, Sinai Palestine Campaign - Be’er Sheva, Israel
2 November 2017 75th anniversary of Kokoda and the beachheads - Australian War Memorial

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Joint Strike Fighter To Make Australian Debut At The Australian International Airshow

7 February 2017: Media Release
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Minister for Defence Industry the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced that Australia’s two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters will make their first appearance in Australia at the Australian International Airshow.

Minister Payne said it was fitting the aircraft would make its first visit down under in time for the airshow, which comes one year after the Turnbull Government released the 2016 Defence White Paper that sets out a plan to create a more capable, agile and potent Australian Defence Force.

“The Joint Strike Fighter will be joined at the Airshow by Australia’s first EA-18G Growler,” Minister Payne said.

“Together, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the EA-18 G Growler represent a potent and technologically advanced air combat and strike capability that is essential to our ability to defend Australia and our national interests.

“Australia is the only country outside the United States operating the EA-18G Growler and its arrival represents a significant leap forward in our capability, introducing a dedicated electronic attack capability for the first time.”

Minister Pyne said this would be one of the most exciting airshows the ADF had organised, representing a significant occasion for defence industry. 

“The EA-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning II represent the latest in cutting edge aviation technology, and include some of the very best of Australian industry,” he said.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the Australian public to see the future of aviation.

“The F-35A will bring significant opportunities to Australian industry, with already over $800 million in local design and production work, which is expected to grow significantly as the programme matures and production increases,” Minister Pyne said.

“Australian industry will continue to benefit when the jets are in service after Australia was selected as the JSF sustainment and maintenance hub for Asia and the Pacific following negotiations with the United States during my visit in October,” Mr Pyne said.

The first two F-35A aircraft, AU-001 and AU-002 will arrive at the airshow on Friday 3 March, returning to the United States via RAAF Base Amberley allowing Australian pilots to continue their training. The visit is a significant contribution by the United States Air Force Training Command, and Lockheed Martin to facilitate the deployment from Luke Air Force Base during their training period.

The F-35A will enter Australian service from late 2018, to replace the ageing FA-18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornets. Australia is a strategic partner in the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and has committed to 72 aircraft.

For tickets or media accreditation visit

For more information on Plan Jericho visit

Students Who Enjoy Or Take Pride In Math Have Better Long-Term Math Achievement

February 8, 2017
Research has shown that students' learning and cognitive performance can be influenced by emotional reactions to learning, like enjoyment, anxiety, and boredom. Most studies on this topic have been done in labs. Now a new longitudinal study out of Germany investigates how students' emotions in a school context relate to their achievement. The study focused on achievement in math, which is not only important for education and economic productivity but is also known to prompt strong emotional reactions in students.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Munich, Australian Catholic University, University of Oxford, University of Reading, University of Konstanz, and Thurgau University of Teacher Education. It appears in the journal Child Development.

"We found that emotions influenced students' math achievement over the years," explains Reinhard Pekrun, professor of psychology at the University of Munich and Australian Catholic University, who led the research

"Students with higher intelligence had better grades and test scores, but those who also enjoyed and took pride in math had even better achievement. Students who experienced anger, anxiety, shame, boredom, or hopelessness had lower achievement."

The research was conducted as part of the Project for the Analysis of Learning and Achievement in Mathematics (PALMA). It included annual assessments of emotions and achievement in math in 3,425 German students from grades 5 through 9. Students were representative of the student population of Bavaria, which primarily includes youth from nonimmigrant White families, but represents a broad mix of socioeconomic backgrounds and both urban and rural locations. Students' self-reported emotions were measured by questionnaires, and their achievement was assessed by year-end grades and scores on a math achievement test.

The study also found that achievement affected students' emotions over time: "Successful performance in math increased students' positive emotions and decreased their negative emotions over the years," according to Stephanie Lichtenfeld, senior lecturer at the University of Munich, who coauthored the study. "In contrast, students with poor grades and test scores suffered from a decline in positive emotions and an increase in negative emotions, such as math anxiety and math boredom. Thus, these students become caught in a downward spiral of negative emotion and poor achievement."

The study's finding that emotions influenced achievement held constant even after taking into account the effects of other variables, including students' intelligence and gender, and families' socioeconomic status. The results are consistent with previous studies showing that emotions and academic achievement are correlated, but they go beyond these by disentangling the directional effects underlying this link. Specifically, the research suggests that emotions influence adolescents' achievement over and above the effects of general cognitive ability and prior accomplishments, the authors note.

The study's authors recommend that educators, administrators, and parents work to strengthen students' positive emotions and minimise negative emotions related to school subjects, for example, by helping students gain a greater sense of control over their performance. They also suggest that providing students with opportunities to experience success may help reduce negative feelings and facilitate emotional well-being, which can promote students' educational attainment.

Future research on this topic could explore whether the pattern found here pertains to other age groups and academic subjects.

Reinhard Pekrun, Stephanie Lichtenfeld, Herbert W. Marsh, Kou Murayama, Thomas Goetz. Achievement Emotions and Academic Performance: Longitudinal Models of Reciprocal Effects. Child Development, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12704

Public Consultations To Inform National Electricity Blueprint

Department of the Environment and Energy: Media release
The Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, is commencing a wide-ranging open public consultation process.

The Independent Panel’s preliminary report, released on 9 December 2016, included a number of observations and questions to guide these consultations. A blueprint informed by the public’s perspectives will be released in the first half of 2017.

“Electricity is the lifeblood of the nation and I encourage members of the public to share their point of view with the Review Panel,” Dr Finkel said.

The consultation sessions will be held on the following dates:

Adelaide, Crowne Plaza Adelaide: 30 January 2017: 5 pm – 7 pm
Brisbane, Sofitel Brisbane Central: 2 February 2017: 5 pm – 7 pm
Melbourne, Ibis Melbourne Hotel and Apartments: 8 February 2017: 5 pm – 7 pm
Hobart, Hotel Grand Chancellor: 13 February 2017: 5 pm – 7 pm
Sydney, Karstens Sydney Function Centre: 15 February 2017: 5 pm – 7 pm

Members of the public are invited to attend the session in their capital city.
The Panel will also hold targeted meetings in capital cities for businesses, researchers, policy specialists and consumer groups involved with the energy sector.

Details on registering for public sessions and the targeted meetings are available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website.

Theft And Drugs Behind Rise In Female Offenders

8 February 2017: Media Release - Australian Bureau of Statistics 
The number of female offenders increased by 5 per cent (4,957 offenders) in 2015–16, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Director of Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne, said that by contrast, male offenders increased by only 49 offenders, or less than 1 per cent.

"Theft was the most prevalent principal offence for females, while the largest increases in female offender numbers were for Theft (up 12 per cent), Illicit drug offences (up 8 per cent) and Acts intended to cause injury (up 6 per cent)," said Mr Milne.

"The number of female offenders proceeded against for Illicit drug offences has almost doubled since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09." 

Despite the increase in female offenders in 2015–16, there were more than three times as many male offenders (323,949) as females (97,304). 

This publication also contains the second release of experimental statistics about offenders of Family and Domestic Violence related offences. Details of the background information, methodology and key findings can be found in the chapter ‘Experimental Family and Domestic Violence Statistics’.

Further information can be found in Recorded Crime – Offenders, Australia 2015-16 (cat. no. 4519.0), available for free download from the ABS website:


Saturday 11th February, 2017 By Surfing NSW
The Ocean and Earth Regional Junior Titles are the start of the pathway to NSW Junior and Grommet State Titles and the Australian Junior Titles.

The eight Ocean and Earth Regional Title events will run between March and May 2017. 

All qualifiers for the Ocean and Earth NSW Junior Shortboard State Titles and Havaianas NSW Grommet State Titles will be determined by the aforementioned regional titles.

All Regional Titles registrations will open online Monday 13th Feb at 5pm

NSW Far North Coast Junior Shortboard Regional Titles  
Event Date: 13-14th May    
Lennox Head 

NSW North Coast Junior Shortboard Regional Titles
Event Date: 1-2nd April
Sawtell Beach *RESCHEDULED*

NSW Mid North Coast/Newcastle Junior Shortboard Regional Titles 
Event Date: 27-28th May   
Newcastle (TBC)

NSW Central Coast Junior Shortboard Regional Titles
Event Date: 25-26th March
Soldiers Beach

NSW Northern Beaches Junior Shortboard Regional Titles      
Event Date: 13-14th May
Long Reef Beach

NSW Southern Beaches Junior Shortboard Regional Titles
Event Date: 13-14th May             
Cronulla Beach

NSW Illawarra Junior Shortboard Regional Titles    
Event Date: 21st May      
Shellharbour Beach

NSW South Coast Junior Shortboard Regional Titles
Event Date: 28th May
Jones Beach, Kiama

Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW

BHP Billiton Science And Engineering Awards Winners 2017

February 7, 2017: by CSIRO
It is estimated that by 2030, 40 per cent of current Australian jobs probably won't exist as we know them and that the pathway to the careers of the future will mostly come from a STEM education.

Twenty-six Australian teenagers, selected as finalists in the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards, have proven themselves to be STEM leaders of the future by producing work that has solved real-world problems with innovative inventions and ambitious scientific investigations.

BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards winners 
A beach-side rip warning system, a laser system to keep cyclists safe on roads, and research into treatments for diabetes and antibiotic resistant bacteria are just some of the projects that have been chosen for the finals of the 2017 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards.

At a ceremony in Melbourne today, attended by CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall, BHP Billiton Foundation Director Pat Risner and Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) Treasurer Jenny Weber, the winners of the 2017 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards were announced.

They are:
1st Place Engineering Award: Justin Mitchell from Victoria
1st Place Investigations Award: Jade Moxey from New South Wales
Winner of the Innovation to Market Award: Amber Kraczkowska from South Australia
Winner of the Teacher Award: Hamish Gibson from Western Australia
2nd Place Engineering Award: Callum & Declan Predavec from Mosman High School, New South Wales
2nd Place Investigations Award: Amy Zhou from Queensland
3rd Place Engineering Award: Dylan Sanusi-Goh from Victoria
3rd Place Investigations Award: Rebekah Kang from New South Wales

Selected finalists will represent Australia at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in the United States in May 2017.

Karen Wood, Chairman of the BHP Billiton Foundation, said the Foundation was thrilled to support bright, young future scientists and engineers.

"I'm very proud of what the Awards aim to achieve in encouraging students to explore, research and delight in the study of science, and challenge their understanding of the world around them," Ms Wood said.

The Awards, which have been running since 1981, reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects that demonstrate innovative approaches and thorough scientific or engineering procedures.

CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall said it was critical to support and promote STEM for students.

"STEM drives innovation globally but in Australia the participation and engagement in STEM subjects by school students is declining," Dr Marshall said.

"These Awards are an innovative and inspiring way to connect with future STEM professionals and encourage them to join us in tackling the challenges of tomorrow.

"The work that these students have done is truly inspiring and I have high hopes for the future of Australia."

The Awards are a partnership between the BHP Billiton Foundation (a charity funded by BHP Billiton), CSIRO and ASTA. They are supported by the BHP Billiton Foundation and managed by CSIRO.

Declan Predavec And Callum Predavec
Mosman High School, NSW

Hi-Viz bike system
With cars and bikes increasingly sharing our roads, safety is a major issue for cyclists. Declan, along with his older brother Callum, developed a laser that marks a one metres safety distance behind a bike to help motorists avoid getting too close to cyclists. To create the project they used 3D printing to produce the various devices involved in the laser system such as a warning screen on the back of bicycles that warns motorists if they are driving too close to a cyclist. More in video below:


THE KOOKABURRA was always a very contented bird, and even though he has never been able to sing he never be-came jealous of those who could.

He was not even in the least annoyed when he heard the lyre-bird boast one day that he was able to sing much better than any other bird.

However, some who heard this foolish boast became angry and gathered together to see if anyone could sing better than the lyre-bird.

But as each one sang, the lyre-bird copied its song and sang it more sweetly than ever before.

Now the kookaburra, who was fat and contented even though he could not sing at all, was amused to hear everyone trying so hard to sing nicely.

It all seemed so very funny that at last he burst out laughing.

But the lyrebird thought that the laugh was the song of the kookaburra and tried to copy it; and this made the kookaburra laugh so loudly that the lyrebird was forced to admit that he could not do it so well.

Even today the kookaburra can laugh much more heartily than the lyrebird, and when he thinks of this he laughs so loudly and merrily that all the bush seems to be ringing with his happiness. 

From: ABORIGINAL LEGENDS: THE KOOKABURRA (1952, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 12 (The Argus Magazine). Retrieved from


This story was told to me  by an old Murrumbidgee squatter, who had it from a local tribe, although I expect that in the re-telling, he has added to it. It might be of some interest to Review readers, for I believe it to be little known. It all happened long ago, in the days when the waters had left the land. There are still in our country persistent legends which tell of the time when Central Australia was dotted with huge lakes, and even to this day the belief in an inland sea has not yet been forsaken in some quarters. 

In those days, the Kookaburra was a very morose sort of creature indeed, who lived entirely upon fish. So when the waters left the land, taking the fish with them, the Kookaburra became more miserable and morose than ever, little liking his new diet. Now it came to pass that some little 'Joey' Kangaroos mischievously teased the Kookaburra, poking fun at his great beak, his lugubrious face, calling out: 'Long nose! Long nose!' 

This caused the highly incensed Kookaburra to chase 'Joey,' who always escaped by jumping into his mother's pouch, shaking a decisive tall at the indignant bird. It happened one day that 'Joey,' safe in his mother's pouch, called out to Kooky: 'Long nose! Long nose!' 

So Kooky waited on a nearby gum tree, hoping for a chance of retaliation. Now it happened that mother kangaroo began to browse, and "Joey," still in his mother's pouch, and feeling very hungry, also began to feed. - It so happened that every time ".Joey' got his teeth fixed into a nice juicy root, mother would stand up, and hop a few yards away. .Joey, being in her pouch, had to go with her, but no sooner did he stretch out his neck again, the better to feed on the tempting herbage, than mother would hop away. 

This happened so many times, and the look of disappointment and surprise on "Joey's" baby face was so keen, that the kookaburra felt a funny sort of feeling in his throat, and suddenly he buirst out with his "Ha ha ha ho ho ho he ha. ' 

No animal likes being laughed at, and ever since that day "Joey" has never called out "Long nose! Long nose!"'' any more. And whenever you see two or more kookaburras sitting on the fence rail. you may be sure that one will be telling the other the story of the rude little ".Joey" who couldn't get a feed, and presently you will hear them all join in with their "Ha ha ha ho ho ho he he ha." 
From: WHY THE KOOKABURRA LAUGHS (1932, April 5). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved  from

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. 

Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.