Inbox and Environment News: Issue 314

May 28 - June 3, 2017: Issue 314

Avalon Boomerang Bags: An Idea That's Spreading To Stop Plastic Bag Use

Avalon Boomerang Bags - now at North Avalon shops - A J Guesdon photo, 25.5.2017

Avalon Boomerang Bags

11am-5pm @ sewcraft cook 
Unit 20/14 Polo Ave Mona Vale

Boomerang Bags is a bag-share initiative involving the installation of a number of ‘Boomerang Bag’ boxes throughout any given business district, shopping centre, street or market. Each box is stocked with re-useable bags for customers to borrow if they have forgotten to bring their own.

Unlike the traditional purchase-and-keep approach, Boomerang Bags are free, and local community members are responsible for returning the bags once they’re no longer required. The availability of free re-useable bags reduces the reliance of local businesses to supply bags to all customers, and encourages a mentality of re-use among local communities, thereby reducing the amount of plastic bag material entering our landfills and waterways.

So who makes the Boomerang Bags? Well, you do! Boomerang Bags are made by local communities for local communities, and are sewn from recycled and donated materials.

Get in touch if you'd like to donate materials, join us making bags, or implement Boomerang Bags in your own local area!

They're Back! NSW Whale Watching Season Begins In Earnest

Humpbacks breaching - photo credit Jodie Lowe, courtesy OE&H

They're Back! NSW Whale Watching Season Begins In Earnest

26 May 2017: NPWS
Migrating whales have already been spotted along the NSW coast from Eden to Kingscliff as the 2017 whale watching season kicks off in earnest.

Experts from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) are encouraging NSW residents to head to their nearest coastal national park to seek out a vantage point to see the whales on their annual migration north.

Senior Wildlife Officer at OEH Susan Crocetti said that from now and all throughout June and July, keen whale watchers are likely to see larger groups of humpback whales as they move along the NSW coastline towards warmer waters for breeding.

"We expect more than 30,000 humpback whales will make the migration this year, and they're already underway heading north," said Ms Crocetti.

"We will see them heading southwards, many with their newborn calves, during spring from September through to November, travelling at a much more leisurely pace than on their northward journey.

"NSW has over 860 national parks and reserves, and many of these are situated on the coast and provide excellent viewing opportunities to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants.

"If the spectacular sight of whales breaching, blowing and tail-slapping is on your bucket list, now is your chance to tick it off.

"Humpback whales are an incredible success story, having recovered as a species from the brink of extinction less than six decades ago, to the point where they can now be readily sighted in NSW waters between mid-June and December.

"There is a high chance you can see the whales from any location that offers ocean views.

"Some of our top vantage points are listed on the Wild About Whales website. Headlands in particular make a great vantage point to spot the whales without disturbing them," she said.

Vantage points in national parks usually also offer visitor facilities like a viewing platform or a walking track, and nearby picnic facilities and carparks.
  • find out more about the best whale watching vantage spots along the NSW coast, to learn about whale behaviours and different species of whales, and to download the free Wild About Whales mobile app (to log and view the most up-to-date whale sightings near you), go to
  • Share photos and experiences of your coastal whale adventure on the Wild About Whales Facebook page ( and learn how others are making the most of the whale watching season.
  • You can also join in the conversation and share your whale sightings on Twitter with the @wildaboutwhales community.
Stranded, entangled, or sick whales should be reported immediately to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Environment Line on 131 555 or ORRCA Whale and Dolphin Rescue on (02) 9415 3333 (24 hours hotline).
Barrenjoey Lighthouse - just one spectacular place to watch the whales go by from - photos courtesy OE&H
Humpback breaching - photo credit Jodie Lowe, courtesy OE&H

Retracing Steps Of Famous Botanist Leads To Rare Plant Rediscovery

Correa lawrenciana var genoensis - Photo by Dave Albrecht

Retracing Steps Of Famous Botanist Leads To Rare Plant Rediscovery

19 May 2017: NSW Department of Environment and Heritage (OE&H)
Rare plants that have not been seen in more than a decade have been rediscovered by four botanists in South East Forests National Park near Bombala.

The group of plant scientists from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the Australian National Herbarium embarked on the field expedition last month and were delighted to find four threatened species.

Dr Keith McDougall Senior Threatened Species Officer at OEH said the trip involved seven hours of trekking through steep rocky gorges and dense undergrowth in a remote part of the national park.

"We were absolutely thrilled to find these plants, particularly the endangered Genoa River Correa that not been seen in decades," said Dr McDougall.

"We set out hoping we would re-discover these plants but to actually seeing them thriving in the wild was very exciting.

"We assessed the health of the plants, monitored for potential threats and collected seed to build an insurance population," Dr McDougall added.

Joe McAuliffe from the Australian National Botanic Gardens said the Genoa River Correa was found close to the river in a moist, shady spot.

"Despite the species not being recorded in NSW since 1999, we were able to clearly identify it from its greenish tubular flowers and oval-shaped, hairy leaves," Mr McAuliffe said.

"Cuttings were taken from the plants and will be grown at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, establishing a living collection and essentially insurance against extinction," Mr McAuliffe said.

Right: Carefully taking cuttings to build an insurance population - OE&H Photo

The two day field trip also had a historical element said Dave Albrecht from the Australian National Herbarium.

"We trekked close to the steps travelled by the famous botanist Baron von Mueller, who discovered the Genoa River Correa in 1860," Mr Albrecht said.

"We stayed overnight at the same cattle station in Nungatta where Mueller visited more than 150 years ago and looked out over the same landscape.

Dean Ansell, Senior Project Officer at the NPWS said collaboration among organisations is vital for today's conservation work.

"It is our collective responsibility to work together and in this case, get our hands dirty, to try to secure these species' survival.

"We're planning on returning to the sites in Spring 2017 to continue exploring and to set up a monitoring program for the long-term protection of these species.

Species re-discovered in the region during this expedition included the Genoa River Correa, Deane's Boronia, Pomaderris Cotoneaster and Nalbaugh Nematolepis.

The expedition and associated conservation work is funded by the NSW Government's $100 Million Saving our Species program that aims to secure NSW's threatened species in the wild for the next 100 years.

Joe McAuliffe Australian National Botanic Gardens collecting - OE&H Photo
NPWS Dean Ansell with the Genoa River Correa - photo courtesy OE&H

Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich Von Mueller

Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller, KCMG (German: Müller) (30 June 1825 – 10 October 1896) was a German-Australian physician, geographer, and most notably, a botanist. He was appointed government botanist for the then colony of Victoria by Governor Charles La Trobe in 1853, and later director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. He also founded the National Herbarium of Victoria. He named many Australian plants.

Mueller was born at Rostock, in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. After the early death of his parents, Frederick and Louisa, his grandparents gave him a good education in Tönning, Schleswig. Apprenticed to a chemist at the age of 15, he passed his pharmaceutical examinations and studied botany under Professor Ernst Ferdinand Nolte (1791–1875) at Kiel University. In 1847, he received his degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Kiel for a thesis on the plants of the southern regions of Schleswig.

Mueller's sister Bertha had been advised to seek a warmer climate for her health, and the great botanist Ludwig Preiss, who had recently returned from Perth, recommended Australia, so in 1847, Mueller and his two surviving sisters sailed from Bremen. While still on the ship, he reportedly fished his first plants out of the water to analyse them.

He arrived at Adelaide on 18 December 1847 and found employment as a chemist with Moritz J. Heuzenroeder, in Rundle Street. He was an inveterate explorer, walking alone to Mount Arden and Mount Brown during his first year. Shortly afterwards, he obtained 20 acres (81,000 m2) of land not far from Adelaide in the Bugle Ranges, and had a cottage built there. He moved there with his sister Clara, intending to start a farm, but after a few months, he returned to his former employment.

Mueller thought to open a chemist's shop in the gold diggings, so in 1851, he moved to Melbourne, capital of the new colony of Victoria. He had contributed a few papers on botanical subjects to German periodicals, and in 1852, sent a paper to the Linnean Society of London on "The Flora of South Australia", thus beginning to be well known in botanical circles.

Mueller was appointed government botanist for Victoria by Governor Charles La Trobe in 1853, a post that was newly created for him. He examined its flora, especially the Alpine vegetation of Australia, which was previously unknown. He explored the Buffalo Ranges, then went to the upper reaches of the Goulburn River and across Gippsland to the coast. The neighbourhoods of Port Albert and Wilsons Promontory were explored, and the journey of some 1,500 miles (2,400 km) was completed along the coast to Melbourne

In the same year, he established the National Herbarium of Victoria, which can still be visited today. It has many plants from Australia and abroad, many of which were collected by Mueller. Since its earliest days, the Royal Botanic Gardens is involved in plant research and identification. This is done primarily through the National Herbarium of Victoria, which is based at the Gardens. The Herbarium is also home to the State Botanical Collection, which includes over 1.2 million dried plant specimens, and an extensive collection of books, journals and artworks. Research findings are published in the journal Mulleria, which is a scientific representation of the work done in the Gardens in any one year. More recently, the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology has been established to look at plants which grow in urban environments specifically.

Also, his large private library was transferred to the government of Victoria in 1865 and is incorporated into the library of the herbarium in Melbourne.

Then, as a phytographic naturalist, he joined the expedition sent out under Augustus Gregory by the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for the colonies. He explored the Victoria River and other portions of North Australia, was one of the four who reached Termination Lake in 1856, and accompanied Gregory's expedition overland to Moreton Bay. Mueller, for his part, found nearly 800 species in Australia new to science. He published in this year his Definitions of Rare or Hitherto Undescribed Australian Plants.

From 1854 to 1872, Mueller was a member of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science, which later became the Philosophical Institute of Victoria. He was president of the Philosophical Institute in 1859 when it received a royal charter and became the Royal Society of Victoria. He was an active member of the society's "Exploration Committee" which established the Burke and Wills expedition of 1860. Mueller promoted the exploration of Australia, and as one of only two members of the Exploration Committee with any experience of exploration, he made several speeches to the society on the topic. He did not favour the selection of Burke as leader, but due to factionalism in the committee, he had little say in the establishment, provisioning, or composition of the exploration party.

From 1857 to 1873, he was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, and not only introduced many plants into Victoria, but also made the excellent qualities of the blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) known all over the world, and succeeded in introducing it into the south of Europe, North and South Africa, California, and the extratropical portions of South America.

Melbourne from the Botanical Reserve [painted 1884] by Thomas Clark (1814-1883)
This view of Melbourne is seen from near the top of the Anderson Street hill in South Yarra. In the distance, Mount Macedon forms a backdrop to the nascent city. The term 'reserve' refers to the land set aside for the extension of the Royal Botanical Gardens. At the time of painting, the boundary of the gardens lined up with Clowes Street which runs off Anderson Street near the crest of the hill. The extension effectively doubled the size of the gardens, moving the boundary to the present-day Birdwood Avenue, close to Domain Road. Clark's viewpoint was one which would become favoured by later artists like Henry Gritten, whose 1867 painting Melbourne from the Botanical Gardens is also in the Library's collection. While Clark's work shows the area in its 'natural' pastoral state, Gritten's painting records the progress of civilisation. It depicts the ordering of nature through the plantings that were determined by Ferdinand von Mueller (1825-96) and his predecessors. Von Mueller was the Government Botanist from 1853 and Director of the Botanical Gardens from 1857. Picture courtesy State Library of Victoria - Image No.: 702600336

Mueller was decorated by many foreign countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, and Portugal. He was appointed a fellow of the Royal Society in 1861, and knighted as Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1879. A list of his 'Orders, offices, affiliations and sundry honours' has been assembled. Many of his decorations were received in return for supplying zoological specimens to royal museums.

He was the benefactor of explorer Ernest Giles, the discoverer of Lake Amadeus and Kata Tjuta. Giles had originally wanted to name these Lake Mueller and Mt Ferdinand, but Mueller prevailed upon Giles to name them Lake Amadeus, after King Amadeus of Spain, and Mt Olga, after Queen Olga of Württemberg; both kings had granted him honours. In 1871, King Karl of Württemberg gave him the hereditary title of Freiherr, to mark his distinction in 'natural sciences generally and in particular for the natural history collections and institutions of Our Kingdom'. He was then known as Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller.

By 1873, influential Melburnians were critical of Mueller's scientific and educational approach with the Royal Botanic Gardens. Development of the gardens with an eye to aesthetics was sought. Mueller was dismissed from his position as director of the Botanic Gardens on 31 May 1873. He had done much to develop the gardens with the scarce resources at hand. Though his pay was not affected and he still continued as the government botanist, he never lost his sense of grievance over losing the position.

View in Botanical Gardens, circa 1865. from Cumming album of views of Melbourne, Dandenongs, South Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Shropshire in England. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, Image No.: 1657412

In April 1873, Mueller had created the genus Guilfoylia and described William Guilfoyle as "distinguished as a collector [who] evidenced great ardour" and held high hopes for his collecting ability. Mueller's opinion changed when Guilfoyle was appointed to take his place as director of the Botanic Gardens in July 1873. He accused Guilfoyle of being a "nurseryman [with] no claims to scientific knowledge whatever" and of getting the job due to being related to the wife of the responsible minister. Mueller subsequently abolished Guilfoylia as part of the genus of Cadellia in his botanical census of 1882. Guilfoyle went on to landscape the gardens in an aesthetic and pleasing style welcomed by most Melburnians.

In 1857, Mueller applied for and was granted the degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of Rostock; in 1883, he was awarded the Clarke Medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales.

He published 11 volumes of Fragmenta phytographica Australiae (1862–1881), two volumes of the Plants of Victoria (1860–1865), and other books on the Eucalyptus, Myoporaceae, Acacia, and Salsolaceae, all profusely illustrated. He also co-operated in the production of George Bentham's Flora Australiensis. He described many novel plant species sent by botanists from other parts of Australia, notably Maurice William Holtze from the Northern Territory, and encouraged settlers to send plants to him. Many women contributed to his collections. He took a leading part in promoting Australian exploration, especially the Burke and Wills expedition, which was the first to cross the continent, and in the various attempts to unravel the mystery which attended the fate of his fellow countryman Ludwig Leichhardt (1813–1848).

Mueller died in Melbourne and is buried in the St Kilda Cemetery. He was survived by his sister, Mrs. Clara Wehl, of Millicent, South Australia. His other sister, Mrs. Bertha Doughty of near Penola predeceased him. He never married.

Ferdinand von Mueller. (2017, April 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Top Photo: Baron Ferdinand von Mueller - [ca. 1876-ca. 1884] 
photo by J. W Lindt (John William) 1845-1926 photographer.
Inscription on verso in German, signed "von Mueller 16/1/84". 
Printed on verso: From J.W. Lindt / photographer ... 7 Collins Street East / Melbourne. Courtesy State Library of Victoria

Southern Oceans Focus Of New $20m Research Centre

May 2, 2017: CSIRO
A new research centre focussed on the role of the Southern Hemisphere oceans in the global climate will be opened today in Hobart, bringing $20 million dollars of funding over five years.
The Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research (CSHOR) is a collaboration between CSIRO, China's Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (QNLM), with support from the University of Tasmania and the University of New South Wales.

Appearing at the launch via video, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Arthur Sinodinos said the centre would paly a vital role in climate science in the future.

"The Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research represents a significant commitment to improving our understanding of the current and future role of southern hemisphere oceans in the climate of Australia, China, and the world," Senator Sinodinos said.

Robotic Argo floats will be used to understand more about ocean warming.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said CSHOR would study the oceans from the tropics to Antarctica, and would tackle fundamental questions about the future climate of Australia, China and the rest of the world.

"The oceans in the Southern Hemisphere play a crucial role in the climate system, absorbing more heat and carbon dioxide than any other region in the world," Dr Marshall said.

"Improving our understanding of the complex science at play in this system, will help us better manage the impacts of climate variability and change at a regional and global scale.

"CSHOR will complement climate research within CSIRO and will sit within our recently announced Climate Science Centre.

"It is also an exciting opportunity to work with China's leading marine science and technology organisation, and cultivate our close research relationship with China, which has been going strong for more than 40 years.

"Often in answering some of science's biggest questions, you need to take a global approach, and that's why as part of our Strategy 2020, CSIRO is working towards becoming a hub for more global collaboration like this."

CSHOR will be based at CSIRO's Marine Laboratories in Hobart and will support seven new research positions, primarily based in Hobart.

Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology Director Professor Lixin Wu said China, just like Australia, was exposed to risks from the changing climate, including future sea level rise.

"Although China and Australia aren't close geographically, many of the southern oceans processes that influence Australia's climate, also influence China's climate," Professor Wu said.

"Importantly, CSHOR will also look at the impact that melting Antarctic ice shelves will have on global sea level rise.

"Since climate change is a great challenge to the whole world, we have to rise to it hand in hand in collaboration.

"QNLM is committed to bringing benefits to our community and people through advancing science and has been focused on its strategy of strengthening coordination and cooperation with scientists around the globe.

"Since both QNLM and CSIRO are two of the world's leading climate research agencies, QNLM expects to work together with CSIRO, in helping China, Australia and the rest of the world to better tackle and adjust to climate changes."

CSHOR will also investigate climate phenomena like the El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which have a strong influence on the climate of both Australia and China.
The melting of Antarctic ice sheets and how this impacts future sea level rise will also be investigated.

Koala Fencing Contract Awarded For Woolgoolga To Ballina Upgrade

22 May 2017: Media Release - NSW Dept. of Roads & Maritime
  • Contract awarded to provide 10 kilometres of koala fencing on Woolgoolga to Ballina section of Pacific Highway upgrade
  • Fencing will reduce koala deaths from road strikes during major work
  • Ecologists will carry out pre-clearing surveys to identify koalas within the project corridor
A 10-kilometre stretch of new koala fencing will be built as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade to help keep local populations safe during and after construction work on the project.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the contract to provide the fencing had been awarded to Colemans Group (Aust) Pty Ltd, and was just one of a number of measures being put in place to protect koalas.

“The Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina is the nation’s biggest regional infrastructure project, with the highway on track to be fully duplicated by 2020. As part of the main civil works package, new koala fencing will be put in place as well as fauna connectivity structures to help native wildlife safely cross the new highway,” Mr Chester said.

“These types of projects prove that we can invest in world class infrastructure and protect native wildlife at the same time – a win-win situation for motorists, residents and the local environment.”

New South Wales Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said fencing would be installed prior to major work along sections of Wardell Road and the existing Pacific Highway between Wardell and Coolgardie to help reduce koala deaths from road strikes during construction.

“Koala specific fauna fencing will be installed on both sides of the new highway at key koala population areas before the upgrade opens to traffic,” Mrs Pavey said.

“About 133 combined and dedicated structures for koalas are planned for the 155 kilometre upgrade, 26 of which are in this area, next to koala hotspots and proposed habitat revegetation areas.

“Ecologists will carry out pre-clearing surveys to identify koalas within the project corridor, including checks by a koala detection dog. The ecologist will also be available during clearing activities and throughout the work.”

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the Woolgoolga to Ballina project team was targeting a ‘zero harm’ approach to managing koalas during construction of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.

“As part of this commitment, all workers will be inducted and trained in koala awareness and management with clear protocols and procedures on how to manage koala incidents on work sites,” Mr Hogan said.

“More than 90,000 trees will also be planted as part of revegetating at least 130 hectares of new koala habitat in the area - this is in addition to the project’s overarching biodiversity offset ratio of preserving about four hectares of land for every one cleared, including for fencing.”

New South Wales Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said project vehicles would be restricted to lower speeds in an effort to prevent koala deaths from road strike in the area.

“Project vehicles will be restricted to 80 km/h while travelling on roads between Richmond River and Coolgardie Road, and 50 km/h on Old Bagotville West Road and Back Channel Road. A speed reduction from 100 km/h to 80 km/h has been implemented for the general public on Wardell Road and Old Bagotville Road, areas frequently used by koalas,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“The Woolgoolga to Ballina project team is committed to working with the community and stakeholders to protect wildlife along the Pacific Highway to ensure the highest level of biodiversity protection.”

The Australian and New South Wales governments are jointly funding the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade on an 80:20 basis. For more information on the project visit

Experts Convene To Build Reef Resilience

24 May 2017: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Federal Government remains concerned about the impacts we are seeing to the Great Barrier Reef from global coral bleaching.

In light of recent reports of additional bleaching now more than ever all parties must focus on protecting this iconic environmental asset for its intrinsic beauty and its wider value to the nation.

As a result Reef experts from around the world are currently meeting in Townsville to focus on building the long-term resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

The two-day Great Barrier Reef Summit—Managing for Resilience showcases the unprecedented collaboration and partnerships that underpin the Australian and Queensland Government’s Reef 2050 Plan - our blueprint for action in a united effort to protect this precious asset.

The Reef 2050 Plan recognises climate change is the greatest threat to the Reef with the purpose of the Plan to boost its health and resilience in order for it to better deal with the effects of climate change.

It is critical for reefs worldwide, including the Great Barrier Reef, that international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are effective. Australia is taking strong action to address the global threat of climate change having ratified the Paris Agreement which will see Australia reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels - one of the highest targets on per capita basis in the G20.

While the extent of damage from coral bleaching has not yet been fully quantified, we have already observed significant decline of some parts of the Reef. As we await the outcomes of recent monitoring, we remain hopeful that those sections of the Reef that remain healthy will help seed recovery. The Great Barrier Reef is a large, complex system, made up of around 3000 individual coral reefs - many of which remain strong and healthy.

In addition to the many actions already underway to protect the Reef, such as reducing nitrogen and sediment run off and culling crown of thorns starfish, I have requested advice from the Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel and the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee on what further action could be taken to respond to recent coral bleaching.

The Australian and Queensland governments are investing more than $2 billion over the coming decade in the Reef 2050 Plan. Complementing this is the Coalition Government’s commitment of $1 billion through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for projects specifically tackling climate change and water quality.

This summit, hosted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, brings together the world’s best minds on coral reef protection. I welcome the efforts of all involved in it and look forward to receiving their advice on additional strategies to protect the Reef.

Reef Tribute To Marine Park Visionary

May 18, 2017" GBMRPA
Sir Sydney Schubert was a builder of vision and ideals — fostering infrastructure development around the state, as well as the creation of an agency to safeguard the largest living structure on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef.

Now part of that globally-recognised natural wonder will bear the name of the highly respected Queensland public servant, who believed economic development and a healthy environment could co-exist, with the proper frameworks in place.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Dr Russell Reichelt today announced that a reef located about 17.7 km east of Lizard Island will become Sir Sydney Schubert Reef — in memory of the man who skilfully steered the inception of the Authority and became one of its founding board members.

As Coordinator-General and Director General of the Premier's Department, Sir Sydney played a leading role in shaping Queensland’s economic development during the spectacular phase of growth in the 1970s and 80s.

The son of a train driver, equipped with degrees in both engineering and the arts from the University of Queensland, Sir Sydney combined enthusiasm for innovative planning methods with a no-nonsense approach to getting the job done.

“He had an innate drive to ‘see things done properly’,” his daughter Marie-Louise Theile said. “He did not tolerate mediocrity, procrastination or time wasters.”

But he could play the diplomat. It was his exceptional skill at building relationships which came to the fore during the creation of the Marine Park Authority in the mid-1970s.

“His vision was to see all of those interested parties in the Great Barrier Reef work harmoniously and constructively to ensure its safety and preservation, while still allowing it to be an economical and viable asset for those dependent on it for their livelihoods,” Ms Theile said.
“Syd worked tirelessly behind the scenes to navigate the agreement that enabled the establishment of the Authority.”

His commitment to the Authority did not end there; Sir Sydney joined the inaugural board of the agency and continued to serve as a board member for more than a decade, helping to guide the organisation during its formative years.

Sir Sydney retired from public service in 1988, but that didn’t slow him down.
In 2001, he became the Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for the Reef, as well as the CRC for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management. In 2003, he made it a hat trick; assuming the role of Chair of the CRC Torres Strait as well.

“Sir Sydney was a member of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and very strongly supported the use of the best available science and engineering for the protection of the Reef and in particular the conduct of sustainable tourism,” said Dr Reichelt, who was an executive member of the CRC Reef during Sir Sydney’s chairmanship.

“In both government and scientific research, Sir Sydney served to protect the Reef for many years. He was a terrific and greatly respected boss.”
Sir Sydney relinquished all three posts in 2007, due to ill health. He died in August, 2015, at the age of 87.

A high-flying career garnered him many accolades during his life, including a knighthood in 1985 and an honorary doctorate from James Cook University in 2006, but his daughter remembers him as a humble man who savoured small pleasures.

“Many of his visits to the Reef were work related, however one of our most memorable family holidays was, in fact, on Heron Island.” Ms Theile said.

“Dad was most at home with his toes in the sand, bathers, no shirt, looking out to sea. He was ultimately a man of simple pleasures, who loved nature and the environment.”

Queensland Jobs, Investment And Royalties Boost From New Resource Policy

Media Statement: JOINT STATEMENT

Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
The Honourable Jackie Trad

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment
The Honourable Curtis Pitt

Saturday, May 27, 2017
The Palaszczuk Government has unveiled a development policy that will deliver the best deal for Queenslanders and opens up the state to more jobs, more investment and more royalties.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the policy would unlock development in the Galilee and Surat Basins and the North West Minerals Province and new jobs and new business opportunities. 

“State Cabinet has unanimously agreed to a new policy approach for the future development of the Galilee and Surat Basins and the North West Minerals Province,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Under this new policy, the Adani Carmichael mine will pay every cent of royalties in full.

There will be no royalty holiday for the Adani Carmichael mine.

“Opening up these three regions for development has the potential to support thousands of new jobs that are needed in regional centres along the coast as well as in outback Queensland.

“This will squeeze every dollar and every job out of these projects.

“My sole focus this week has been to lead negotiations that ensure Queenslanders get the best deal that will see more jobs and more money flowing into our state.

“This is the right policy that will provide certainty and deliver jobs, royalties and opportunities for years to come.

“It will unlock these resource areas so that projects can proceed and deliver thousands of new jobs for regional Queenslanders.

“The same approach will apply to all greenfield projects in these Basins and the North West Minerals Province such as the Adani Carmichael Coal project.

“Opening up these three regions for development has the potential to support thousands of new jobs that are needed in regional centres along the coast as well as in outback Queensland.”

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Palaszczuk Government’s policy delivered on Labor’s election commitments.

“All royalties will be paid and if they are deferred they will be paid with interest and with security of payment in place,” Ms Trad said.

“That’s more money for our state to spend on infrastructure, renewables, health and education.

“Consistent with our election commitments, cabinet has determined that any NAIF funding needs to be between the Federal Government and Adani.

“There will be a new financial assurance model that ensures operators comply with environmental conditions and cover rehabilitation costs.”

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the framework provides investor certainty and encourages new development and business opportunities in the Basins and the North West Minerals Province.

“Investors accessing the new resources framework will be required to provide jobs, common-user infrastructure and have a positive impact on the state’s finances,” Mr Pitt said.

“This revised model will apply to future resource development proposals in the three regions and will replace ad hoc arrangements negotiated in the past.

“It is a transparent policy framework that will apply equally to project proponents looking to invest in these under-developed resource regions.”

All greenfield projects approved after the completion of comprehensive environmental impact assessments by State and Commonwealth agencies will abide by the following principles:
  • all royalties due to the State are paid over the term of any agreement (inclusive of interest foregone costs), with security of payment and no adverse budget impact to the state;
  • any agreement with a proponent will not involve the direct expenditure of public funds in the project or in directly‑related economic infrastructure for that project (noting that Government Owned Corporations (GOCs) may still supply economic infrastructure on commercial terms to resource project proponents);
  • the provision by the proponent of third party access infrastructure or other acceptable economic infrastructure to the State; and
  • projects must have significant regional employment, generation of royalties and economic opportunity benefits, such as the potential to assist in opening up undeveloped resource basins.

$1.5 Billion Upfront Cash Bond Needed For Adani Mine Rehabilitation Liability – Report

May 24, 2017: Media Release - Lock the Gate
New analysis by Lock the Gate Alliance released today estimates that it would cost at least $1.5 billion to rehabilitate the Adani Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland.

The detailed analysis has been undertaken using publicly available documents regarding the planned rehabilitation and closure strategy proposed by Adani Mining and applying the Queensland Government’s standard financial assurance calculator plus a contingency.

The Alliance is calling for the bond to be paid upfront, to prevent Australian taxpayers bearing all the risks because Adani Mining Pty Ltd is in a parlous financial position and is only solvent due to support from its parent company in India.

“There is a massive risk that Australian taxpayers will be left to cover the costs of part or all of the rehabilitation of the Adani coal mine,” said Carmel Flint, spokesperson with Lock the Gate Alliance.

“We estimate that the financial assurance required for the first five years of the full 60Mtpa mine plan should be at least $1.5 billion in order to protect taxpayers from financial risks”.

Although there has been speculation that Adani is contemplating ‘downsizing’ the project, it is the 60Mtpa mine that has been approved and as far as Lock the Gate can ascertain there has been no revised proposal submitted.

“We believe that the Queensland Government should require that Adani Mining pay the amount as an upfront cash bond, to prevent taxpayers ending up with the bill.

“It is crucial that the financial assurance is calculated in a precautionary manner, in order to protect Queenslanders from major financial risks.

“If Adani Mining are not required to put up an upfront cash bond, then the costs of rehabilitation will effectively be another massive subsidy from taxpayers to enable Adani Mining to commence a mine that will leave a far-reaching environmental legacy,” she said.

The analysis by the Lock the Gate Alliance should be considered a conservative estimate, as it only takes account of some elements of rehabilitation such as open cut voids and slopes, out of pit dumps, tailings dams, mine affected water dams and stream diversions.

The Queensland Government has started a reform process for mining rehabilitation, and Lock the Gate is calling on it to deliver on that for the Adani Carmichael mine.

The Queensland Government should require that: 
Detailed transparent analysis be undertaken before the mine’s Plan of Operations is signed off by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Financial assurance are calculated using transparent processes based on best practice standards with independent expert review
There should be no financial assurance discounts for Adani Mining and they should not be allowed to use their own financial assurance calculator
The mine Plan of Operation must require the company to restore the original contour of the land, prohibit final voids and undertake progressive rehabilitation.

New Species Of Bus-Sized Fossil Marine Reptile Unearthed In Russia

May 25, 2017: University of Liege

This is an artistic reconstruction of Luskhan itilensis. Credit: Copyright Andrey Atuchin, 2017
A new species of a fossil pliosaur (large predatory marine reptile from the 'age of dinosaur') has been found in Russia and profoundly change how we understand the evolution of the group, says an international team of scientists.

Spanning more than 135 Ma during the 'Age of Dinosaurs', plesiosaur marine reptiles represent one of longest-lived radiations of aquatic tetrapods and certainly the most diverse one. Plesiosaurs possess an unusual body shape not seen in other marine vertebrates with four large flippers, a stiff trunk, and a highly varying neck length. Pliosaurs are a special kind of plesiosaur that are characterized by a large, 2m long skull, enormous teeth and extremely powerful jaws, making them the top predators of oceans during the 'Age of Dinosaurs'.

In a new study to be published today in the journal Current Biology, the team reports a new, exceptionally well-preserved and highly unusual pliosaur from the Cretaceous of Russia (about 130 million years ago). It has been found in Autumn 2002 on right bank of the Volga River, close to the city of Ulyanovsk, by Gleb N. Uspensky (Ulyanovsk State University), one of the co-authors of the paper. The skull of the new species, dubbed "Luskhan itilensis," meaning the Master Spirit from the Volga river, is 1.5m in length, indicating a large animal. But its rostrum is extremely slender, resembling that of fish-eating aquatic animals such as gharials or some species of river dolphins. "This is the most striking feature, as it suggests that pliosaurs colonized a much wider range of ecological niches than previously assumed" said Valentin Fischer, lecturer at the Université de Liège (Belgium) and lead author of the study.

By analysing two new and comprehensive datasets that describe the anatomy and ecomorphology of plesiosaurs with cutting edge techniques, the team revealed that several evolutionary convergences (a biological phenomenon where distantly related species evolve and resemble one another because they occupy similar roles, for example similar feeding strategies and prey types in an ecosystem) took place during the evolution of plesiosaurs, notably after an important extinction event at the end of the Jurassic (145 million years ago). The new findings have also ramifications in the final extinction of pliosaurs, which took place several tens of million years before that of all dinosaurs (except some bird lineages). Indeed, the new results suggest that pliosaurs were able to bounce back after the latest Jurassic extinction, but then faced another extinction that would -- this time -- wipe them off the depths of ancient oceans, forever.

Fischer Valentin, Benson Roger B J, Zverkov Nikolai G, Soul Laura C, Arkhangelsky Maxim S, Lambert Olivier, Stenshin Ilya M, Uspensky Gleb N & Druckenmiller Patrick S. Plasticity and convergence in the evolution of short-necked plesiosaurs. Current Biology, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.04.052

Free Winter Flu Jabs Nothing To Sneeze At

25 May 2017: NSW Health
​With Winter just around the corner, NSW Health is urging anyone who has not yet had a flu shot to visit their GP to get vaccinated.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director, Health Protection NSW, said each year an estimated 800 to 1000 people die from flu-related illnesses in NSW.
“Vaccination offers the best protection from flu. This year’s flu vaccine covers the four influenza strains likely to circulate in Australia,” Dr McAnulty said.
“We encourage all people to have the vaccine, and particularly vulnerable groups who have a higher risk of a severe illness if they catch the flu.”
The annual flu vaccination is provided free of charge to pregnant women, Aboriginal people aged six months to five years and over 15 years of age, everyone aged 65 years or over and people with a medical condition that puts them at high risk of severe flu, such as severe asthma, heart disease or diabetes.
 “Flu activity during last year’s winter was higher than usual,” Dr McAnulty said. “The number of people presenting to emergency departments with flu-like illness was also above the expected range.”
NSW Health received a total of 35,409 influenza notifications from late June to late September in 2016 and at least 191 patients with influenza were admitted to intensive care or coronary care units.
“Many people with chronic medical conditions don’t realise that their condition puts them at greater risk of severe flu,” Dr McAnulty said.
“It is also vital pregnant women have a flu shot as they have a higher risk of hospitalisation, pre-term delivery and possibly death if they catch the flu. The vaccination is safe and also provides protection in the infant’s early months.”
The following precautions can also help stop the spread of influenza:
  • Cover your face when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw away used tissues straight away
  • Clean your hands thoroughly and often
  • If you are vulnerable to severe influenza see your doctor as soon as flu symptoms start as early treatment of flu can help prevent complications.
For more information see the NSW Health influenza factsheet.

Independent Expert Panel To Begin Mental Health Review

22 May 2017: NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies
Five mental health experts with wide reaching clinical and lived experience will join NSW Chief Psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright to begin a review of the practice of seclusion, restraint and observations across the NSW mental health system.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies confirmed the review will consider whether existing legislation, policy, clinical governance and practice standards are consistent with national standards, international best practice and the expectations of patients and the community.
“We need to know appropriate policies are in place in our hospitals and mental health facilities and the extent to which staff actually adhere to existing policies and protocol,” Mr Hazzard said.
“No stone will be left unturned, to ensure people living with mental illness in this state are receiving the best possible care and treatment in the least restrictive environment.”
Mrs Davies said the independent panel had been carefully selected. The expert team, led by Dr Wright, will include:
  • Dr Kevin Huckshorn, CEO, Huckshorn and Associates
  • Karen Lenihan, NSW Principal Official Visitor
  • Julie Mooney, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery for Southern NSW LHD
  • Dr Robyn Shields, Deputy Commissioner at the NSW Mental Health Commission
  • Ms Jackie Crowe Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Mental Health Commission.
“The diverse panel brings together views of those with lived experience of mental illness, international experience on pathways for reducing seclusion and restraint, and a deep understanding of the NSW mental health system,” Mrs Davies said.
“We are keeping an open mind on the best way forward until we receive expert advice on how improvements can be made in ways that do not jeopardise the quality of care or the safety of staff and other patients.”
The Panel will visit NSW Hospitals, acute mental health units, mental health intensive care units, and declared emergency departments and review past cases of seclusion and restraint. The public will be able to make submissions and there will be the opportunity for face-to-face consultations through public workshops.
“It is critical that we ensure the mental health system treats patients with dignity, and respect and that their clinical needs are being met,” Mrs Davies said.
A final report and recommendations on a pathway for the reduction of seclusion and restraint practices in NSW will be completed by early December. The full Terms of Reference for the review can be found
Panel members

Dr Murray Wright, Chief Psychiatrist, NSW Ministry of Health
Dr Murray Wright is a graduate of the University of Sydney Medical Faculty, completed his post graduate training in Psychiatry in South Eastern Sydney, and has worked in a range of metropolitan, rural and regional centres, as a clinician and, increasingly over the last 10 years, in various leadership roles, including Director of Mental Health services and, since October 2014, NSW Chief Psychiatrist.
His clinical interests include consultation-liaison psychiatry, emergency psychiatry, psychiatric and substance misuse comorbidity, and psychiatric impairment among health professionals and police officers.
Dr Wright has had a longstanding interest in service improvement, quality and governance, and played a significant role in the introduction of the first Maintenance of Professional Standards program by the RANZCP in the early 1990s.
In addition to his public sector roles, Dr Wright has maintained a private practice since 1990, with a focus latterly on general adult psychiatry, and assessment and treatment of health professionals and police.
Dr Wright has also worked in a consultant capacity with the Medical Council of NSW in a number of roles over the last 20 years, including the provision of assessment reports as a Council Appointed Psychiatrist, participation as a Performance Assessor, and as a panelist for the Impairment Programme, Professional Standards Committees and Section 150 Hearings. He is a Peer Reviewer for the HCCC and a part-time member of the NSW Medical Tribunal.
Dr Wright was the Chair, Psychiatry State Training Committee HETI from 2007-13, and has had a number of roles with the RANZCP, including membership of the Quality Assurance Committee 1990-95, Exams Committee 1996-02, Exemptions Sub-committee 1996-05, Consultation-Liaison Working Party 1992-94, NSW Branch Rural Psychiatry Steering Group 2002-08.
Dr Wright’s role as NSW Chief Psychiatrist includes an oversight of quality and safety for mental health services, investigation/ review of critical incidents associated with mental health services, and contributing to improvements in patient safety.
Ms Karen Lenihan, Principal Official Visitor
Karen Lenihan is the Principal Official Visitor for New South Wales under the NSW Mental Health Act 2007. She has held this position since February 2016.
With a background working as a clinician, educator, manager and executive, Ms Lenihan has broad working experience in health service delivery and policy. Her prior positions include Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery for the former Greater Southern Area Health Service, Director of Alcohol, other Drugs and Corrections Health at ACT Health and Manager, Population Health in NSW Health. In these roles, the dominant focus was on service improvement and reorientation toward excellence in patient care. 
Initially she trained as a general registered nurse and then a psychiatric registered nurse in the UK before moving to Australia. She then gained a social science degree (BSocSc) with majors in political science and sociology, a management master degree (MBA) with a major in human resource management and a postgraduate degree in mental health practice (GradCertMentalHealthPrac). She is also trained as a women’s health nurse with specialisation in the area of domestic violence.
She recently spent several years at Charles Sturt University where she focused on organisational development and change management. Having now returned to work in Health, this experience has enhanced her knowledge base and broader her capacity to achieve effective results in reform and change environments.
Ms Lenihan’s career is characterised by her work with fringe populations who experience high levels of social stigma and disadvantage. She is passionate about quality service provision, is a strong advocate for social justice and believes in equity of access to the resources available in contemporary society. 

Dr Kevin A. Huckshorn PHD, RN, MSN, CADC, ICRC; CEO, Huckshorn and Associates
Dr Kevin Huckshorn is CEO of a behavioral health consulting business, Kevin Huckshorn & Associates, Inc. that she initiated in December of 2014.
Dr. Huckshorn served as the past Director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) for the state of Delaware (2009-2014). The position oversaw the planning, program development, fiscal responsibilities, contractual obligations, contract monitoring, licensure, federal block grants, operations of the state mental health hospital, and all DSAMH community provider contractors. This position managed a budget of over $120 million, 600+ state staff, and a variety of community mental health and substance use service providers. Dr. Huckshorn was also the lead on the DE USDOJ Settlement Agreement (signed in 2011) and, in that role, was able to lead Delaware toward substantial compliance, along with her team, with the targets in that settlement agreement by October of 2014.
Dr. Huckshorn is a licensed and certified mental health nurse and substance abuse clinician with practical knowledge from 38 years of professional frontline experience working in a variety of public and private behavioral health organizations and substance abuse programs. She has extensive experience in both inpatient and outpatient program development, including developing and managing peer-run projects; leading state hospital service re-design; and directing recovery-based mental health and substance abuse services. She is published on adult and youth topics including violence, treatment adherence, trauma-informed care, and workforce development. She serves on the editorial board of one U.S. peer reviewed mental health-nursing journal and consults with two others; and co-authored a book with William Anthony, PhD, titled “Principled Leadership in Mental Health Systems and Programs” (2008).
Dr. Huckshorn was the past Director of the Office of Technical Assistance for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors and the National Coordinating Center for Seclusion and Restraint Reduction where she led the development of an evidence-based model to prevent violence and the use of seclusion and restraint titled “Six Core Strategies” that is on the federal NREPP database of approved models (2001-2009). Dr. Huckshorn has also worked internationally in Canada, Finland, United Kingdom, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia on issues related to seclusion and restraint, trauma-informed care, compliance with the ADA and Olmstead, and implementing recovery-oriented systems of care.

Dr Robyn Shields, Deputy Commissioner, Mental Health Commission of NSW
Dr Shields has worked in the mental health sector for many years and is now undertaking specialist training as a psychiatry registrar.
Since her career started in mental health, Dr Shields has concentrated on raising the status of people experiencing mental illness in the public consciousness, talking about trauma informed care and recovery,  as well as developing new models of care for mentally ill people for the most disadvantaged groups, particularly Aboriginal people and forensic patients.
As a proud Aboriginal woman, Dr Shields is acutely aware of the need for communities to design and control their own services.
Ms Julie Mooney, Executive Director, Nursing and Midwifery, Southern NSW LHD

Julie Mooney has extensive experience in leadership positions and mental health service delivery. She has participated in a number of complex external clinical reviews. She originally trained as a mental health nurse in Goulburn and currently holds the position of Executive Director, Nursing and Midwifery at Southern NSW Local Health District.
Ms Jackie Crowe, Commissioner, National Mental Health Commission
Jackie Crowe is dedicated to encouraging greater understanding, compassion and respect for people affected by mental ill health, the suicidal mind and the families, friends and carers who journey with them. Ms Crowe has been involved in mental health and suicide prevention issues in various advocacy, advisory, public speaking, research, consultancy and commissioner roles – at the local, state, national and international levels over many years.
Ms Crowe works to help create a better world that values all people, social justice and ends discrimination. Her work is always grounded in the perspectives of people affected by mental ill health and suicidal concerns. She is solution focused and has an enthusiastic vision about what is possible. She enjoys engaging in differing opinions and views which inform her work.
Ms Crowe combines her lived experience, understanding of the grass roots and knowledge of high-level strategic policy and planning, with her familiarity with recovery and well-being to shift thinking about mental illness and suicide. 

Designer Worm Spit Supercharges Healing

May 25, 2017: James Cook University

Dr Michael Smout preparing cell cultures to test granulin’s cell proliferation properties. Image courtesy of James Cook University

Every day 12 Australian diabetics have a limb amputated because of a non-healing wound. Globally, it's one every 30 seconds.

A molecule produced by a Thai liver parasite could be the solution to those non-healing wounds -- and scientists from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) are now able to produce a version of the molecule on a large enough scale to make it available for laboratory tests and eventually clinical trials.

The molecule is granulin, one of a family of protein growth factors involved with cell proliferation.

"It's produced by a parasitic liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini, which originally came to our attention because it causes a liver cancer that kills 26,000 people each year in Thailand," parasitologist Dr Michael Smout said.

As part of their work on a potential vaccine to protect people from the parasite, Dr Smout and colleagues established that the granulin it produces has a hidden talent -- it supercharges healing.

"We realised the molecule, discovered in worm spit, could offer a solution for non-healing wounds, which are a problem for diabetics, smokers and the elderly," he said.

With fellow researchers from the AITHM at James Cook University in Cairns, Dr Smout has been investigating ways to produce granulin in sufficient quantities for larger-scale testing.

The team first tried recombinant DNA techniques, effectively inserting granulin into bacteria, with the aim of producing plentiful supplies of a reliable copy of the molecule.

"Unfortunately, granulin didn't perform well when we introduced it to E. coli bacteria, so we couldn't use recombinant techniques to produce a testable supply," said Professor Norelle Daly, whose research involves exploring the potential of peptides as drug candidates for therapeutic applications.

"We had to go back to the drawing board and find a way to synthesize part of the molecule -- to build our own version of designer worm spit," she said.

The researchers worked to establish which parts of the molecule were critical to wound healing, and to find a way to reproduce the active parts of granulin molecules (peptides).

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy revealed the molecule's complex shape: a string of amino acids bent into a twisted 3D shape that includes hairpin bends.

"In biology the shape and fold of a molecule can be critical to its function," Dr Smout said. "Getting the fold right is important -- it can be like the difference between throwing a well folded paper plane, or tossing a crumpled ball of paper."

After testing different segments and structures, the team concluded that those hairpin bends were the key.

"They're held in the twisted 3-D shape by disulfide bonds, and surprisingly we've found that by introducing an extra, non-native, bond we can produce peptides that hold the right shape to promote healing," Professor Daly said.

"You could say we've found an extra fold that helps our peptide paper plane fly straight and target wounds."

The lab-produced granulin peptides have shown great promise in tests, driving cell proliferation in human cells grown in lab plates, and demonstrating potent wound healing in mice.

Now that they can mass-produce perfectly folded, wound-healing peptides, the researchers are looking for potential partners as they progress towards further testing and eventually clinical trials.

"We have plenty of work to do before clinical trials, but we're confident we have a very strong contender for what could one day be a cream that a diabetic could apply at home, avoiding a lengthy hospital stay and possible amputation," said Professor Alex Loukas, whose work includes the investigation of hookworm proteins to treat autoimmune and allergic diseases.

"A take-home cream would be a great step forward for those with chronic wounds, and it would also save our health system a great deal of money.

"One in every seven diabetics in Australia will have a non-healing wound at some point, and many suffer amputations as a result. It's estimated the long hospital stays involved in treating chronic wounds cost our healthcare system AU$3.7 billion per year."

The research is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Paramjit S. Bansal, Michael J. Smout, David Wilson, Claudia Cobos Caceres, Mohadeseh Dastpeyman, Javier Sotillo, Julia Seifert, Paul J. Brindley, Alex Loukas, Norelle L. Daly. Development of a Potent Wound Healing Agent Based on the Liver Fluke Granulin Structural Fold.Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2017; 60 (10): 4258 DOI:10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00047

National Plan For Elite Sport And Participation

22 May 2017: The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
Minister for Sport

Today I invite all Australians and the sporting community to play a part in shaping the Turnbull Government‘s new National Sport Plan. 

The Plan will be a long-term strategy for the whole of sport and will examine four key pillars of participation, performance, prevention through physical activity, and integrity.

A national lottery, to be developed with the states, and activity to boost participation are amongst options being considered.

Consultation will also engage on major sporting events, sports infrastructure, sport governance and funding. 

Throughout this process key stakeholders will work closely with the Government, including the states and territories, the Australian Sports Commission and their respective sports, the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Australia. 

The Commonwealth makes a significant contribution to Australian sport and the Plan will help to inform clear policy objectives across the entire sector.

Australians love sport. It is one of the defining characteristics of our culture and it is in our DNA.

We come together to play sport at local ovals, fields, courts, parks and beaches. We jump out of bed on a Saturday morning for junior sport and flock to the footy, netball and countless other sports to support our sporting champions. 

Participating in sport also makes us healthier both physically and mentally and it is the basis for so many friendships. 

Being physically active also reduces our risks for many diseases including heart disease and type two diabetes.

Further details on the Plan, including options for submitting views, are available at the National Sports Plan website.

Contributions and ideas are due by 31 July 2017.

Submissions should consider the key issues listed on the website. Further guidance on topics for discuss will be released in the coming week. This is not an exclusive list but is designed to stimulate debate and discussion. 

This process of public consultation is one part of a wider program of extensive stakeholder consultation, designed to ensure everyone has the opportunity to have their say.

Celebrating Reconciliation Week

23 May 2017
Statement - Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion is the
Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Two of the most significant events in Australia’s modern history will be acknowledged and celebrated in the lead up to National Reconciliation Week.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the overwhelmingly successful 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the historic Mabo High Court decision.

A range of initiatives and events will be held during and in the lead up to the National Reconciliation Week to properly acknowledge the important role the 1967 referendum and Mabo High Court decision have played in our country’s journey towards reconciliation.

The events will honour the Indigenous leaders for their spirit and determination they displayed to change the nation. We are reminded by the 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report of the injustices and the trauma but we also look to the future with hope and optimism.

The Prime Minister will deliver a statement to Parliament tomorrow in the presence of surviving campaigners and family representatives of the 1967 referendum and 1992 Mabo decision. 

The statement will acknowledge the two anniversaries, thank Indigenous leaders for their enduring spirit and for striving for change that bettered the nation, and remind Australians the injustices that challenged Australians in 1967 have helped to set the scene for our continued journey of reconciliation.

The Prime Minister and Members of the Government will also meet with the National Indigenous Youth Parliament this week.

National Reconciliation Week begins on Saturday and runs until 3 June. Communities are encouraged to share their stories of anniversary celebrations under the banner of #NRW2017. The Government has also supported local communities to celebrate the important anniversaries in their own way through a local government grant funding round.

Further information on activities and programmes that the Commonwealth Government is supporting during National Reconciliation Week is available at the Reconciliation website.

New Approach For Autism

23 May 2017: Media release - The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services
The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services has announced a new way to help those with autism access the services they need.

Mrs Prentice said collaboration between the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) and National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will help the autism community access more support.

This project builds on an earlier collaboration between the Autism CRC and NDIA to develop Australia’s first national diagnostic guideline for autism – a critical step to ensuring consistent and equitable access to autism diagnosis for children and adults.

As part of the collaboration, a world-first research study is underway to identify the most effective interventions for children on the autism spectrum based on individual characteristics.

This is the second project commissioned under the collaboration, which aims to ensure those on the autism spectrum reach their full potential.

Mrs Prentice said the findings of the study would provide much needed information on which approaches may be more effective for different types of autism.

“The work of the NDIA and Autism CRC seeks to find innovative support for people on the autism spectrum with the aim of giving them great outcomes in life,” Mrs Prentice said.

Director of the Autism CRC Diagnosis Research Program, Professor Andrew Whitehouse, said the potential to identify different subtypes of autism would completely transform the way people on the spectrum access therapy.

“We know it’s important for children on the autism spectrum to access timely and targeted early intervention, however, there is considerable variability in how children respond,” Professor Whitehouse said.

“Results of this research will provide a unique and highly significant evidence base that will allow matching of interventions to the child's profile, thereby maximising treatment outcomes.”

The project will be undertaken in the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in each state and is one of a number of initiatives under the Helping Children with Autism funding program to support families and their children on the spectrum.

“The collaboration with the NDIA allows for the extension of the project for the next two years, significantly bolstering this world-first initiative,” Mrs Prentice said.

Autism CRC is the world’s first national research effort focused on autism across the lifespan, working together with the autism community to provide the evidence base to support individuals on the spectrum throughout their lives. Autism CRC provides the national capacity to develop and deliver evidence-based outcomes through its unique collaboration with the autism community, research organisations, service providers and government.

A major study was launched in October 2016 to develop Australia’s firstnational diagnostic guideline for autism, commissioned under a collaboration between Autism CRC and the NDIA.

Sleep Disorders Affect Men And Women Differently

May 23, 2017
A new study suggests that men and women are affected differently by sleep disorders.

Results show that women are more likely than men to have more severe symptoms of depression, trouble sleeping at night, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Women also have a higher degree of difficulty concentrating and remembering things due to sleepiness or tiredness. In contrast, male snoring was more likely than female snoring to force bed partners to sleep in different rooms.

"We found that females were more likely to have sleeping disorders associated with daytime sleepiness," said co-author Dr. John Malouf, founder of SleepGP sleep clinic in Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia. "Females were also likely to feel more affected by the burden of their symptoms."

The main purpose of the study was to understand the differences in functional status between the sexes when they present to primary care providers with sleep problems.

"What was surprising about the results was that while men and women tended to present at a similar age, their symptoms and the effect on their lives differed markedly," said lead author Allegra Boccabella, research associate at SleepGP clinic. "We didn't expect there to be differences across the board in terms of the different aspects of people's lives."

Study results are published in the May 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Boccabella and Malouf conducted a retrospective clinical audit of 744 patients who received sleep-related health care from 7 private general practices in Australia between April 2013 and January 2015. Patients completed a variety of sleep-related questionnaires, including the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), the Snoring Severity Scale (SSS), and the Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire 10.

According to the authors, understanding how the symptoms reported by women differ from those of men can help medical professionals manage sleep disorders more holistically.

"If we can identify the ways that their lives are affected, we can help produce better outcomes for the patient," said Boccabella.

Allegra Boccabella, John Malouf. How Do Sleep-Related Health Problems Affect Functional Status According to Sex? Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2017; 13 (05): 685 DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.6584

Delivering $33 Million To Help Fund Our Next Medical Breakthrough

May 19, 2017: Media Release - The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, Minister for Sport
The Australian Government will provide $33 million to fund world-leading medical research trials and fellowships, supporting doctors and scientists to uncover the next breakthrough and improve the health of all Australians.
The funding will provide doctors, nurses and medical researchers with necessary tools to test their research in a clinical environment while safely speeding up the process so research gains can be translated into better outcomes for patients sooner. 

Ahead of International Clinical Trials Day tomorrow, I am delighted to announce four major initiatives to further strengthen Australia’s research and medical trials sector.

Through our Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), $13 million will be used to support research into a number of public health areas which contribute to the highest burden of disease, including the application of precision medicine.

The Australian Clinical Trials Alliance will receive $5 million to support their work in ensuring Australia maintains its world-leading clinical trial standards and continues to support the clinical trials sector.

Australia has produced many world class researchers including Nobel Prize recipients. The MRFF will inject $8 million to support the next generation of Australian researchers – including a major boost to the number of National Health and Medical Research Council fellowship schemes.

To create a better collaboration, the Turnbull Government is also providing $7 million over four years to help redesign State and Territory clinical trial operating systems. 

This will help to establish a state-based, one-stop shop to centralise, streamline and rationalise clinical trial administration – a move supported by all jurisdictions. This investment will make it easier for trial investigators and sponsors to navigate the system and speed recruitment and start-up procedures.

Supporting medical research is one of the key pillars of the Turnbull Government’s Long-Term National Health Plan. 

As part of this year’s Budget, we are also funding the latest in advanced medical research technology with $68 million towards the establishment of Australia’s first Proton Beam Therapy facility at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

We are on track to double our current medical research funding, with $1.4 billion allocated under the MRFF by 2020-21 – including over $640 million in 2020-21.

Under the MRFF, $65.9 million will be immediately shared by eight research projects, including trialling new drugs, devices and services, clinical fellowships, and projects to address childhood obesity.

Other projects include international cooperation to address pandemic, tackling antimicrobial resistance, and supporting cutting edge ideas and the next generation of researchers.

States Need To Put Energy Consumers First

24 May 2017: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP
Minister for the Environment and Energy
Today the Federal Court handed down a major decision that will increase electricity prices for New South Wales customers by around $3 billion.

This reaffirms the Turnbull Government's position of wanting to abolish the Limited Merits Review (LMR) process to stop network businesses gaming the system.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) had originally agreed to allow the networks to re-coup a much lower number but this was overturned by the Australian Competition Tribunal last year and subsequently upheld by the court today.

The Federal Government has had a clear policy to reform the LMR process but states who own network assets like Queensland and New South Wales have stood in the way those reforms.

By blocking attempts to stop network businesses gaming the system the Queensland and New South Wales governments have given a green light to higher electricity prices.

For some time the Turnbull Government together with the strong support of Victoria and South Australia has been trying to get the states to agree through the COAG Energy Council to stop this rort but self-interest by those looking to increase the value of their assets has hung consumers out to dry.

"Energy networks who have appealed determinations stand to earn an extra $7 billion over the next five years if their appeals are upheld." - Josh Frydenberg, Media Release, 8 September 2016

The LMR process is the root cause of today's decision which will see consumers paying more through higher electricity prices.

The LMR process allows energy networks to contest decisions of the AER through the Australian Competition Tribunal by appealing how much they can re-coup from customers.

Network businesses only appeal against the decision of the AER if they want to slug consumers more.

It is the clear view of the Turnbull Government that the AER is best placed to make decisions on how much energy companies can re-coup from consumers and not the Australian Competition Tribunal.

The COAG Energy Council reached a compromise position in December 2016 to reform the appeal mechanism.

The Federal Government calls on all the states to come together at the COAG Energy Council in July to implement the commitment made last December. If they don't they will have to explain to consumers why they will have to pay higher power prices.

Statement To Parliament On The 50th Anniversary Of The 1967 Referendum And The 25th Anniversary Of The Mabo Decision  

24 May 2017
Parliament House, Canberra
Prime Minister of Australia
The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull

Mr Speaker.

Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunawal dhawra. Wanggarralijinyin mariny bulan bugarabang.

I acknowledge we are on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

Australians come from nearly 200 countries, of all faiths, all cultures and all backgrounds. 

And yet in a world where conflict and intolerance seem more intractable than ever, we live together in peace and harmony in the midst of extraordinary diversity.

Our nation has a bright future and much to celebrate.

However, Mr Speaker, we know that we have not always treated our First Australians with the respect that they deserve.

Truth is the first step towards healing.

And this week we honour those milestones that helped our nation chart a course towards reconciliation and healing - the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, 25 years since the Mabo High Court decision, and 20 years since the Bringing Them Home report.

Fifty years ago, laws and regulations controlled where our First Australians could and couldn’t move and what they could and couldn’t do - lives limited, lives demeaned, lives diminished.

Generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were removed from their families and communities. We acknowledge that this removal separated children from their mothers and fathers, their families, their lands, their languages and cultures - cared for by their ancestors for over 50,000 years.

Indigenous Diggers, returned from war having defended our freedoms, our democracy and the rule of law, were denied the rights of citizenship for which they had so fiercely fought.

Fifty years ago our nation was given the opportunity to vote for change.

And, Mr Speaker, our nation did. 

No member of this place authorised a ‘no’ case.

The Parliament and the community were united.

The Constitutional amendment was substantial, as it needed to be.

And the result defined our nation.

The 1967 Referendum had the highest ‘Yes’ vote of any Referendum before or since.

By working together as one, we voted as a nation to enable the Commonwealth to make laws relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and for our First Australians, who had always been here, to finally be counted in the official population.

As the Indigenous rights campaigner, the late Chicka Dixon told his daughter Rhonda, who is here today, ‘The government counted everything. They counted the cattle, the cars, the TVs, but they didn’t count us. It’s like we were invisible’.

A campaign badge said ‘Vote Yes for Aborigines’ and the Referendum was known as ‘the Aboriginal question’. But this was a question about our Australian values, and the nation voted yes for Aborigines and for Australians.

And so the campaign was fought on the platform of rights and freedoms. Indigenous people wanted and demanded to enjoy the full and equal rights of the citizenship they had been granted years earlier.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in many parts of the country could still not freely attend public swimming pools, sit in the classroom at a public school without fear of exclusion, or have a drink with their mates at the local pub. And fundamentally our First Australians could not shape their own identity.

And that discrimination and exclusion diminished us all as Australians.

It did not reflect the sacrifices and the contribution our First Australians made to our nation, or indeed the humanity of all of us, all our fellow Australians.

90.77 per cent of people recognised this injustice and voted for change.

This renewed confidence inspired our first Indigenous Parliamentarian to join the Liberal Party—Neville Bonner who entered the Senate in 1971.

Pat Dodson, Malarndirri McCarthy and Jacqui Lambie serve in the Senate today as Neville Bonner did.

And Ken Wyatt was the first Aboriginal man to be elected to this House, and Linda Burney the first woman.

Ken, the Minister for Ageing and Indigenous Health is the first Indigenous Minister in a Commonwealth Government. 

The 1967 Referendum provided the constitutional basis for our native title legislation and heritage protection.

And in response to the historic Mabo High Court case, which overturned the doctrine of terra nullius, the Parliament passed the Native Title Act in 1993.

Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights and interests in the land have been formally recognised in over 40 per cent of Australia’s land mass.

The number of determinations under the Native Title Act now outweigh the number of claims currently registered.

The ownership and custodianship of the land has led to greater economic empowerment of communities across the country, the preservation of culture, and a network of Indigenous rangers who maintain our lands for our children and grandchildren.

And just as we could not foreshadow all the positive implications of these changes, great things can flow from amending the Constitution again.

We must not forget, Mr Speaker, that the road to the 1967 Referendum was neither short nor easy.

For more than 50 years before, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had fought to stop discrimination by governments.

There were many compromises along the way.

Building on the success of the ’67 campaign, 50 years on, we now have the chance to take another step in our journey.

An important Indigenous designed and led discussion is occurring at Uluru today, as our nation considers further changes to the Constitution.

It is vitally important our First Australians consider and debate the models of recognition, free of political interference, and that the diversity of views and opinions within the Indigenous communities are discussed.

The next step in Constitutional recognition needs to be embraced by all Australians, but it needs first to be embraced by our First Australians if it is to be proposed at all.

I know I speak for the Leader of the Opposition when I say we both look forward to receiving the report from the Referendum Council.

The early campaigners who stood up for what was right, who fought to stop discrimination and whose contribution to the nation has been so remarkable should be recognised, remembered, well known.

As I was saying to some of you earlier this morning – you have written great bold chapters in our nation’s history.

Campaigners like Worimi man Fred Maynard, who established Australia’s first all-Aboriginal political organisation, the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association in New South Wales in the early 1920s. Fred wanted the right for Aboriginal people to determine their own lives, control their own land, and for the New South Wales Government to close the Aborigines Protection Board.

Campaigners like William Cooper, a Yorta Yorta man from Victoria, who tried to petition King George V seeking Aboriginal representation in the Australian Parliament. The then Government said ‘no good purpose’ would come of sending the petition, and they didn’t - a glimpse of the political powerlessness experienced by Aboriginal people in those days. I acknowledge the presence in the House today of William Cooper’s great-grandson Kevin Russell.

Jessie Street had an unwavering belief that the time was right to launch the campaign for the 1967 Referendum. Jessie said: “You can’t get anywhere without a change in the Constitution and you can’t get that without a referendum. You’ll need a petition with 100,000 signatures. We’d better start on it at once”. And together they did. We welcome Jessie’s grandson, Andrew Mackay, and great grandson, Will Mackay, who are here today.

Joe McGinness brought state representative bodies together to speak with one respected voice to Government and the people of Australia. Joe is one of the great unsung leaders of our nation. Senator Pat Dodson has said that Joe was: “The inspiration to many…who have joined in the battle for justice. He has provided wisdom and advice, guidance and correction, humour and hope.” We welcome his daughter Sandra McGinness, who is here with us today.

Sir Doug Nicholls was a founding member of the renamed Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, a coalition of church leaders, unionists and Indigenous activists.

Sir Doug’s daughter Aunty Pam Pedersen and granddaughter Diana Travis—who were both in the campaign, Diana as a teenager—are also here today.

These are just some of the many people who brought wisdom and leadership to ‘67’s cause.

So too did Jack and Jean Horner, Stan Davey, Shirley Andrews, Pearl Gibbs, Hannah and Emil Witton, whose daughter Heidi and granddaughter Keren Cox-Witton are with us today.

And, of course there was Faith Bandler who campaigned so hard—for 10 years—and who would help bring the Referendum home.

Faith’s vision was clear—to see Aboriginal people as ‘one people’ with all Australians.

Hers was a message, not of assimilation, but of unity - of black people and white people working together, equally valued. Faith did not want to be singled out - in her view the Referendum outcome was the result of good teamwork

We honour all those who stood together including those in the house with us today—Aunty Dulcie Flower, Aunty Shirley Peisley, Aunty Ruth Wallace, Uncle Bob Anderson, Uncle Gordon Briscoe, Dr Barrie Pittock and Uncle Alf Neal.

The Freedom Riders led by the young Charlie Perkins in 1965, brought racial discrimination into the minds of Australian households and appealed to a great Australian value - a fair go. Welcome Eileen Perkins, Charlie’s wife, his son Adam and three grandsons.  

And on the 3rd of June we will acknowledge a critical milestone in Indigenous land rights—the 25th anniversary of the historic Mabo High Court decision.

It was Eddie Mabo and the other plaintiffs, Father Dave Passi, Sam Passi, James Rice and Celuia Mapo Salee who's perseverance brought about the High Court of Australia’s decision to recognise the native title rights of the Meriam people of the Murray Islands in the Torres Strait.

And they are all represented here today. I want to especially acknowledge the presence of Eddie Mabo’s wife, Aunty Bonita and their daughter Gail. 

Eddie Koiki Mabo was an advocate of the 1967 Referendum, fighting for equal rights including education. But despite the success of the ‘67 campaign, in 1972 Eddie Mabo still had to get permission from the Queensland authorities to visit his dying father on Mer Island. That permission was denied. Six weeks later his father died.

Gail wrote: “My father never forgave the government authorities for this injustice. It fuelled his determination for recognition and equality in society”.

In 1982 the Mabo case began.

It was hard fought and it took its toll.

Eddie Koiki Mabo passed away on the 21st of January 1992, just months before the High Court recognised what he and his fellow plaintiffs had always known - that Mer Island belonged to the Meriam people and that Meriam customs, laws and cultures had existed for tens of thousands of years.

Mr Speaker, we were fortunate to have Eip Karem Beizam from Mer Island who performed a hymn in memory of that momentous time.

Thank you for your beautiful hymn, and for bringing the Meriam language into the parliament today.

Au Esau - thank you.

We have come a long way since the Referendum and the Mabo case, but we have not come far enough.

We have made gains in child health and infant mortality rates and in fighting chronic disease. Native title holders are unlocking their lands for cultural protection and economic empowerment.

More Indigenous students are enrolling in university than ever before, and around two-thirds are women. For Indigenous university graduates, there are no employment gaps with the rest of the Australian population. 

But the gains are not enough.

I want to ensure that Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are equally educated and equally empowered—that Australians are ‘one people’, as Faith Bandler and her fellow campaigners so desperately hoped and fought for.

That’s why today, in furtherance of our programs and our policies and objectives we are announcing a $138 million education package further to enable the economic and social inclusion for which the ’67 campaigners fought.

As Sir Douglas Nicholls said: "All we want is to be able to think and do the same things as white people while still retaining our identity as a peoples".

For full inclusion in the economic and social life of the nation, we need our young Indigenous people to have a solid education, while keeping strong their identity.

Mr Speaker, today we reflect on the past and its impact on the present. We look forward with hope and optimism. We are joined today by 50 Indigenous Youth Parliamentarians who stand today on the shoulders of these giants.

I want to thank the ‘67 Referendum campaigners and thank the Mabo campaigners for the gift they gave our nation through their perseverance and dedication to their peoples and cultures.

And I thank all First Australians who preserve their ancient culture, work so hard to maintain and recover ancient languages.

Your culture defines who you are, it speaks to your country, your identity, your belonging.

And as we embrace in reconciliation your culture enriches us all.

For time out of mind, for more than 50,000 years your people and your culture have shaped and been shaped, cared for and been cared by, defined and been defined by this land, our land, Australia.

Your culture, our culture, is old and new, as dynamic as it is connected - on the highest tree top the new flower of the morning draws its being from deep and ancient roots.

Now it is up to us, together and united, to draw from the wisdom and the example of those we honour today and so inspired, bring new heights and brighter blooms to that tree of reconciliation which protects and enriches us all.

UNSW And The George Institute Mark New Era In Australian Health Research

Two of Australia’s biggest medical research organisations, the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) and The George Institute for Global Health, have entered a new strategic partnership to dramatically boost health research and contribute to the kind of high impact insights and outcomes that will transform lives around the world.

The George Institute’s affiliation with UNSW Sydney is the biggest move by an Australian medical research institute and marks a significant new chapter for both organisations.

The founders and principal directors of The George Institute, Professors Stephen MacMahon and Robyn Norton, said: “UNSW and The George Institute are both world leading organisations driven by a common purpose – to improve the lives of millions of people, not just here in Australia but around the world.

The new collaboration will help shape the future of medical research.

“Chronic diseases like heart attacks, stroke and diabetes are on the rise globally and we need solutions right now to tackle this growing epidemic. Partnering with UNSW Sydney ensures we can deliver both affordable and accessible treatments and prevention programs that will make a difference, and especially to those living in low and middle-income countries.”

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said: “At UNSW we believe we have a responsibility to use our expertise to benefit the broader global community. The complementary research strengths of the partners will enable us to find new ways to have a global impact.”

Both UNSW Sydney and The George Institute share a strategic vision for driving change through impactful research. As planning continues for further collaboration, there are already moves to align the focus and scope of their combined work.

Vlado Perkovic, George Institute Executive Director for Australia, will lead the non-communicable diseases theme as part of the UNSW Medicine’s thematic research strategy. Meanwhile, UNSW staff will work with The George Institute’s Chief Scientist, Anushka Patel, to identify new international research opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

The George Institute’s affiliation with the University of Sydney ended last month. Over the past 18 years, the George Institute has grown from just a handful of staff to now employing 600 people globally with centres beyond Australia in India, China and the UK.

“We would not be where we are without the support of the University of Sydney, and we have both benefited greatly from our collaboration. But today is a new day, and we are excited by the future and what we can achieve over the next 18 years,” added Professors MacMahon and Norton.

UNSW’s Professor Jacobs said: “The new collaboration will help shape the future of medical research, with initial areas to focus on non-communicable diseases and injuries; clinical trials; epidemiology and biostatistics. 

“We are also eager to collaborate in the emerging field of healthcare ‘big data’.

“We have ambitious plans for the partnership. These include a focus on research to improve the health of women, girls and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; research on health-focused social enterprises; and the establishment of a global health policy think tank,” Professor Jacobs said.

About The George Institute
The George Institute for Global Health is headquartered in Sydney, with major centres in China, India and the UK, and projects in approximately 50 countries worldwide. The George Institute is focused on some of the biggest challenges to improving global health, especially for those at socio-economic disadvantage or living in resource-poor settings. Since its founding in Sydney in 1999 as an independent research institute, The George has grown to become a global organisation with a reputation for publishing in the top medical journals in the world, as well as contributing to major changes in policy and practice.

About UNSW Sydney
UNSW Sydney is committed to making a difference through pioneering research and preparing the next generation of talented global citizens. The University, which ranks within the top 100 worldwide, has announced its 2025 Strategy to position it as Australia’s global university, among the world’s best. Driven by innovation and excellence, the UNSW Faculty of Medicine is proud to rank among the world’s top 50 medical faculties and among Australia’s leaders in medical education and research, addressing some of the most significant health issues facing society. UNSW Medicine’s theme-based research strategy focuses resources on identified areas of excellence including cancer; neuroscience, mental health and addiction; infectious diseases, immunity and inflammation; and non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease. 

ASKAP Telescope To Rule Radio-Burst Hunt

May 23, 2017: CSIRO
A CSIRO telescope in Western Australia has found its first 'fast radio burst' from space after less than four days of searching.

The discovery came so quickly that the telescope, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) near Geraldton in Western Australia, looks set to become a world champion in this fiercely competitive area of astronomy.

The new fast radio burst finding was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

'Fast radio bursts' or FRBs are short, sharp spikes of radio waves lasting a few milliseconds. They appear to come from powerful events billions of light-years away but their cause is still a mystery. The first was discovered in 2007 and only two dozen have been found since.

The discovery of the new burst, FRB170107, was made by CSIRO's Dr Keith Bannister and his colleagues from CSIRO, Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) while using just eight of the telescope's 36 dishes. The discovery is the culmination of a decade of science and engineering development by CSIRO and Curtin University.

"We can expect to find one every two days when we use 12 dishes, our standard number at present," Dr Bannister said.

To make the most recent detection, the researchers used an unusual strategy.

"We turned the telescope into the Sauron of space -- the all-seeing eye," Dr Bannister said, referring to the dark overlord in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings."

Usually ASKAP's dishes all point at the one part of sky. But they can be made to point in slightly different directions, like the segments of a fly's eye. This multiplies the amount of sky the telescope can see. Eight ASKAP dishes can see 240 square degrees at once -- about a thousand times the area of the full Moon.

The new burst was found as part of a research project called CRAFT (Commensal Real-time ASKAP Fast Transients survey), which is led jointly by Dr Bannister and Dr Jean-Pierre Macquart from the Curtin University node of ICRAR.

Dr Macquart said the new burst was extremely bright and that finding it was "as easy as shooting fish in a barrel."

FRB170107 came from the edge of the constellation Leo. It appears to have travelled through space for six billion years before slamming into the WA telescope at the speed of light.

The burst's brightness and its apparent distance mean that the energy involved is enormous, making it extremely challenging to explain.

"We've made a hard problem even harder," said Dr Ryan Shannon (CSIRO, Curtin University and ICRAR), who analysed the burst's strength and position.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the FRB detection was a sign of the full potential of ASKAP.

"Radio astronomy has a long history of innovation in high-speed communications, and this unique capability is embedded into ASKAP -- from the receiver to the signal processing -- making it a uniquely powerful instrument for astronomy," Dr Marshall said.

In addition to the discovery of the new burst, Dr Bannister has a big reward -- a happy family.

He'd been telling his three kids for months about his plans.

"Every day as I left for work they'd ask, 'Are you going to find a radio burst today, Daddy?'" he said.

And when it finally happened, "they were too excited for words."

"They just looked at me, smiled, and gave me a great big hug!"

K. W. Bannister, R. M. Shannon, J.-P. Macquart, C. Flynn, P. G. Edwards, M. O’Neill, S. Osłowski, M. Bailes, B. Zackay, N. Clarke, L. R. D’Addario, R. Dodson, P. J. Hall, A. Jameson, D. Jones, R. Navarro, J. T. Trinh, J. Allison, C. S. Anderson, M. Bell, A. P. Chippendale, J. D. Collier, G. Heald, I. Heywood, A. W. Hotan, K. Lee-Waddell, J. P. Madrid, J. Marvil, D. McConnell, A. Popping, M. A. Voronkov, M. T. Whiting, G. R. Allen, D. C.-J. Bock, D. P. Brodrick, F. Cooray, D. R. DeBoer, P. J. Diamond, R. Ekers, R. G. Gough, G. A. Hampson, L. Harvey-Smith, S. G. Hay, D. B. Hayman, C. A. Jackson, S. Johnston, B. S. Koribalski, N. M. McClure-Griffiths, P. Mirtschin, A. Ng, R. P. Norris, S. E. Pearce, C. J. Phillips, D. N. Roxby, E. R. Troup, T. Westmeier. The Detection of an Extremely Bright Fast Radio Burst in a Phased Array Feed Survey. The Astrophysical Journal, 2017; 841 (1): L12 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa71ff

Securing The Future Of Australian And Children’s Screen Content

23 May 2017: Media Release - Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts, Manager of Government Business in the Senate

The Turnbull  Government has today released terms of reference for a review into Australian  and children's screen content.

The review was  announced as part of the Government's comprehensive package of reforms to  support Australia's broadcasting sector.

The objective  is to provide policy options to Government on the most effective support  mechanisms for the Australian production sector. Specifically, mechanisms to  support Australian drama, documentary and children's content and the Australian  Screen Production Incentive will be reviewed.

The review will  be jointly conducted by the Department of Communications and the Arts, the  Australian Communications and Media Authority and Screen Australia to leverage  the expertise in all three organisations. It is expected to conclude by the end  of 2017.

The Government  invites contributions to the review. More information, including the terms of  reference, is available

Further information on the Government's package  of reforms for supporting the broadcasting sector is available at:

Calling Koala Spotters In Blue Mountains And Hawkesbury

23 May 2017: NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage
The NSW Government is investing a further $63,000 into its Iconic Koala Project in a bid to better understand the often elusive marsupial across the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains Local Government Area.

The Blue Mountains Koala Project, which is being led by Dr Kellie Leigh from the not-for-profit organisation Science for Wildlifeexternal link, is in partnership with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), universities and San Diego Zoo Global.

OEH’s ‘Saving our Species’ Senior Team Leader, Linda Bell said the project is satellite tracking up to 10 koalas in areas where they have never been studied, to provide new insight into their tree use and habitat preferences, including their daily and seasonal movements across the region.  

“Koala disease and koala genetics studies are also being conducted to better understand genetic diversity and relationships with other regional and national koala populations,” Ms Bell said.

“The Hawkesbury Local Government Area and lower Blue Mountains region supports known populations of koalas, and over the past ten years community sightings of koalas in this region have increased.

“This suggests a potentially growing koala population and this study will provide invaluable information of where they are, what risks and threats they face and assist in developing measures to protect them,” said Ms Bell.

An important objective of this project is to map areas where koalas are seen around human development and to identify threat hotspots such as roads around Bell’s Line of Road, Kurrajong, Grose Vale and Colo Heights.

Dr Kellie Leigh said the project was already revealing interesting insights into the individual personalities of the koalas they are currently tracking.

“We’re finding koalas are using unexpected habitats, particularly some of the males. One was regularly using such sandy soils that he was found sheltering in an Old Man Banksia tree,” Dr Leigh said.

OEH and Science for Wildlife is encouraging the local community to report any sightings of koalas across the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains Local Government Area through the below website and Facebook page.

If you see or hear a koala, please report your sighting on the Science For Wildlife website: 

The support for the Blue Mountains Koala Project complements the koala conservation work already supported by the NSW Government's flagship $100 million Saving our Species program.

Have Your Say On NSW Government's Biodiversity Reforms 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017: Media Release - The Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, Minister for Trade and Industry and The Hon. Gabrielle Upton, Minister for the Environment 
The NSW Government will undertake one more round of public consultation before its improved and simpler land management reforms take effect.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the new system would provide strong environmental safeguards, while ensuring routine farm work was exempt from regulation.

“These landmark reforms will allow our farmers to produce the food and fibre that we need and increase their productivity, while also producing better outcomes for our environment,” Mr Blair said.

“I am proud we will very soon deliver on an election commitment we made to farmers to repeal the unfair and ineffective Native Vegetation Act.”

This package is the final stage of the NSW Government’s land management and biodiversity conservation reforms.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the reforms were backed by an unprecedented investment of $100 million in the Saving Our Species program, as well as $240 million over five years, and $70 million each year after that, for private land conservation.

“These reforms also put in place strong protections for native plants and animals including threatened species,” Ms Upton said.

The regulations, codes and guidelines and other documents released for public comment are:
Facts sheets and guides that provide detailed information on key topic areas are also available to assist you in making a submission.
Consultation closes on 21 June and the reforms will commence on 25 August 2017. how to Make a submission here
For more information, visit

Have Your Say On First Cottan-Bimbang National Park Draft Plan Of Management

24 May 2017: Media release - NPWS
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is calling for comment on the draft Plan of Management for Cottan-Bimbang National Park and State Conservation Area (SCA), and The Cells SCA.

NPWS Director Russell Madeley said the draft plan is on exhibition until 14 August and outlines the parks' values and proposed management.

"Plans of Management are legal documents that enable us to have a clear understanding of the values of the reserves and how we will manage them into the future," said Mr Madeley.

"The draft Plan of Management reflects the park as it is today and was put together with input from a variety of stakeholders including Aboriginal representatives, Forestry Corporation of NSW, and Lower North Coast and Northern Tablelands regional advisory committees.

"These parks are located between Wauchope and Walcha in the hinterland of the NSW north coast and form part of one of the largest connecting areas of old-growth forest in northern NSW.

"The parks contain varied and rugged wilderness landscape of high conservation values, protect a wealth of Aboriginal cultural heritage and are home to a section of the original convict-built road linking Port Macquarie and Walcha.

"Other important natural values include Mount Seaview Wilderness Area, 29 threatened animal species and five threatened plant species.

"A feature of the new plan is to improve a number of existing recreational opportunities including four-wheel driving, trail bike riding and horse riding.

"We have worked closely with Port Macquarie and District 4WD Club to identify the most popular four-wheel drive routes, while keeping them outside the declared wilderness areas.

The draft Plan of Management for Cottan-Bimbang National Park and SCA and The Cells SCA can be viewed at:
  • Gingers Creek Café on the Oxley Highway between Walcha and Wauchope
  • NPWS Office, 22 Blackbutt Road Port Macquarie, 2444, NSW
  • NPWS Office, 78 Hargreaves Drive, Taree, 2430, NSW
  • NPWS Office, 188W North Street Walcha, 2354, NSW
  • OEH Customer Centre (Level 14, 59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney)
  • OEH 'Have your say' website at National Park group draft plan of management
Submissions on the plan must be received by 14 August 2017.

Citizen Science Checking Bellinger River Water Quality

23 May 2017: Office of Environment and Heritage
School students and members of the local community are being encouraged to become citizen scientists in a new project to help look after the Bellinger River and its special inhabitants including the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle.

Coinciding with World Turtle Day (23/5) the launch of the Bellingen Riverwatch - Our River, Our Future, will see the community playing an important role in monitoring the health of the River.

Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Director Science, Jo White, said citizen scientists will sample water at sites along the Bellinger River to look for changes in the water quality and life forms and help fill gaps in the Monitoring River Health Program.

"The Bellingen Riverwatch project will focus on the health of the entire river system, which is home to various threatened species such as the Southern Myotis fishing bat fishing bat, Giant Barred Frog and the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle," Ms White said.

"The Bellinger River Snapping Turtle is native to the Bellingen Shire, and disease outbreak in early 2015 was responsible for the death of a large proportion of the turtle population.

"The turtle was designated 'Critically Endangered' in April 2016 and although a new virus is thought to be associated with this mortality event, very little is known about the disease.

"Understanding water quality is one part of an ongoing Bellinger River Turtle Management Program and the recovery of the Bellinger River Turtles.

"The OEH' Science Division, in collaboration with the Saving our Species (SoS) program, OzGreen, NSW Waterwatch, Bellingen Shire Council, Bellinger Landcare and the Western Sydney University, has developed a citizen science project to collect consistent water quality data in the Bellinger River.

"Citizen science is research undertaken by members of the public in collaboration with scientists, and it is driving a new era of public participation in scientific work.

"This project will fill an important information gap ensuring the availability of quality data in the region over time.

"There is strong community interest to work with OEH and collect scientifically rigorous long-term data that can be used to inform decisions about managing the health of the river into the future," Ms White said.

Applications Open For Threatened Species Recovery Fund

Media release: 5 May 2017 - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP
Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Turnbull Government invites community organisations across Australia to apply for funding under the Government’s Threatened Species Recovery Fund to help fight extinction.

Through the Threatened Species Strategy, the Government is committed to turning around the fortunes of nationally-threatened species like the bilby, numbat, mountain pygmy possum, eastern bettong, cassowary, swift parrot and Australia’s endangered eucalyptus trees.

The $5 million Threatened Species Recovery Fund, through the National Landcare Programme, makes funds available for projects that can help meet the targets and objectives in the Threatened Species Strategy through strengthened community involvement in the recovery efforts.

The Fund will provide seed money and community grants—worth between $20,000 and $250,000 (GST exclusive)—for local projects that strongly align with the targets and objectives of the Strategy. The grants will be awarded to eligible groups through a competitive process.

This Fund further highlights the Turnbull Government’s commitment to protecting our native species.

Since the appointment of the Threatened Species Commissioner in June 2014, the Government has mobilised more than $211 million for projects that support and protect our threatened species.

We have delivered Australia’s first Threatened Species Strategy which sets out clear and measurable targets to secure the future of 20 priority birds, 20 priority mammals and 30 priority plants by 2020. It also commits to eradicating feral cats from five islands and establishing 10 mainland wildlife enclosures free of feral cats.

In February this year, I launched Australia’s first Threatened Species Prospectus, which invites business, industry and the philanthropic sector to partner with government to invest in over 50 science-based projects that fight extinction.

Community project proposals for support from the Fund that leverage private sector investment and align with projects in the Prospectus are encouraged.

More information on the Threatened Species Recovery Fund, including details on how to apply, can be found on the National Landcare Programme website: 
Applications close on 15 June 2017.

Review Of Complying Development In Greenfield Areas

The NSW Government is seeking your feedback on the Background Paper - A Review of Complying Development in Greenfield Areas and Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for a proposed new Greenfield Housing Code. 

We’re committed to speeding up the delivery of new homes in new land release (greenfield) areas to meet the needs of NSW’s growing population and improve housing affordability. 

Complying development is a streamlined planning and building approval which allows the construction of one and two storey homes and associated development, such as swimming pools and balconies, provided they comply with the pre-determined development standards in State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP). 

In 2014/2015, complying development certificates were issued on average in 20 days. Promoting the fast-tracked complying development approval pathway saves homeowners time and money. 

• recommendations to overcome barriers to using complying development in greenfield areas (for example delays with obtaining other approvals and the inability to carry out complying development on unregistered lots); 
• guidance on well-designed subdivisions for greenfield areas; 
• simplified and tailored development standards for complying development under a new Greenfield Housing Code. 

The proposed Greenfield Housing Code, is detailed in the EIE and will form part of the State policy for exempt and complying development. The simplified standards have been tailored to suit the requirements in greenfield areas, accommodating narrower lot widths, simplifying setbacks for ground and upper levels and allowing double garages on 10m wide lots. 

A simplified and tailored Greenfield Housing Code will make it easier and cheaper for people to find or build homes to suit their lifestyles, and help grow the economy by providing a boost to the housing industry and the wider NSW economy. 

The Code also ensures greenfield areas are leafier and more environmentally friendly by including landscaping requirements for complying developments. 

The Department also proposes developing a set of master planning and subdivision guidelines for greenfield areas to be used by councils to inform their own Development Control Plans and by applicants to provide details on developing well-designed subdivisions and masterplans. 

We welcome your feedback on the proposed Greenfield Housing Code, and in which new release areas it should apply.

Submissions can be made until 16 June 2017: 
• by email to: 
• by mail to: Director, Codes and Approval Pathways, NSW Department of Planning and Environment, GPO Box 39, Sydney, NSW 2001 

Key dates and other information
Exhibition Commences          16/05/2017
Exhibition Concludes          16/06/2017

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.

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 0402 605 721.

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.

Barangaroo Public Consultation

The Barangaroo precinct is divided into three sections:
Barangaroo South – a mixed-use neighbourhood which accommodates commercial office buildings, residential apartments, shops, cafes, restaurants, a resort hotel, and cultural facilities.
Central Barangaroo  – sitting between the Barangaroo Reserve andBarangaroo South, Central Barangaroo (5.2 hectares) includes a cultural and civic focal point for recreation, relaxation, events, festivals, entertainment and leisure activities. 
Barangaroo Reserve – six hectares of open space with lookouts over Sydney Harbour, extensive walking and cycling trails, idyllic coves, picnic spots and places for quiet contemplation.

The Department is asking for feedback on proposed developments to the following areas of Barangaroo:
Watermans Cove at Sydney Harbour - including an  array of public seating and a boardwalk featuring steps down to the water
Watermans Quay - increasing the width of the current temporary street and including generous tree-lined footpaths and pedestrian crossings   
Hickson Park - one-hectare of public parkland with free Wi-Fi, eating and meeting spaces, park furniture, and bike parking
Wulugul Walk – an extension of the existing boardwalk which hugs Sydney Harbour along the length of Barangaroo 
Barangaroo Avenue – an extension of the existing street to create a slow speed pedestrian friendly street.

The development proposal is on public exhibition from 18 May until 19 June 2017 and feedback is invited. Submissions must be received by 19 June 2017 to be considered.

You can make a submission by:
post to: Director Key Sites Assessments, Planning Services, Department of Planning and Environment, GPO Box 39, Sydney, NSW 2001.

All submissions will be made public in line with the Department’s objective to promote an open and transparent planning system. If you do not want your name published, please state this clearly at the top of your submission. Before making a submission, please read our privacy statement.

Barangaroo Public Domain: Hickson Park, Watermans Quay, Barangaroo Avenue, Wulugul Walk, Watermans Cove and the Public Pier

The Planning Application seeks approval for public domain works for all of Hickson Park (located within both Barangaroo South and Central Precincts), Watermans Quay, the remaining section of Barangaroo Avenue in Barangaroo South, Wulugul Walk (including the expanded boardwalk required by condition of Concept Plan MOD 8), Watermans Cove and the Public Pier.

Exhibition Start 18/05/2017
Exhibition End 19/06/2017

2017 Eco Schools Grants Program Open For Applications

Media release: 26 April 2017
Educators and school communities are once again encouraged to apply for an Eco Schools Grant to ignite and nurture their students’ passion to learn about the environment. 

Eighty grants of $3,500 each are now available under the NSW Environmental Trust Eco Schools Grants program, which has supported a variety of environmental projects in schools from waste management to worm farms for nearly 20 years.  

Office of Environment and Heritage Executive Director Ian Hunter said the grants help provide curriculum-based environmental education for children and the program proudly funded its 1000th project last year.

“Eco Schools Grants recognise the important work of educators in environmental conservation projects and I encourage schools to apply for one of the eighty grants,” Mr Hunter said.

“Research shows that when young people develop an appreciation of the environment early on it influences their behaviours later in life.

“Schools are uniquely placed to teach students about sustainability, why it’s important to take care of our environment and what good environmental citizenship looks like,” Mr Hunter said. 

Teachers from Bonnyrigg High School in Sydney’s west used their Eco Schools Grant to bring history and science to life through environmental education with a medieval food garden.

“Students learned about garden functionality, soil health and sustainable living. Science students also used the plants to study photosynthesis and helped their school create a resource to facilitate hands-on learning for years to come,” Mr Hunter said.

“Grants this year will be offered to student-focused environmental management projects, including water and energy conservation, recycling, bush regeneration, habitat improvement and food gardens.

“Schools are also encouraged to develop projects for students with special needs,” Mr Hunter said.  
Interested schools in NSW are encouraged to register on theSustainable Schools NSW website  and grant applications can be submitted until Monday 19 June, 2017.

All registered schools in NSW can apply for funding for new projects or a separate additional stage of a previous project. Schools currently delivering an existing Eco Schools Grant funded project are not eligible.

Photo - Bonnyrigg Highschool Eco Schools Grants Garden
Educators and school communities are once again encouraged to apply for an Eco Schools Grant to ignite and nurture their students’ passion to learn about the environment. Photo Courtesy OEH

Sydneysiders Urged To Listen Out For 'Powerful Owls'

April 7th, 2017
Beth Mott, Birdlife Australia is asking Sydney residents to report the presence of Powerful owls in their area.

Please report any sightings to 

If you are interested in becoming a Powerful Owl Project volunteer or would like to submit a sighting of a Powerful Owl, please

You can help us learn more about the Powerful Owls by letting us know if you see or hear one in your area (particularly around Sydney, Blue Mountains, Newcastle, Central Coast,  Illawarra). Send an email (to the email addresses above) with your location (street address or GPS location), an attached photo or call recording (if you have it), details of when you saw or heard the bird, and anything interesting you noticed about where it was or what it was doing (e.g. holding prey, perched on a tree branch).

Caution:  rarely, some birds can get very aggressive while nesting and it can be very dangerous for people to be too close to the nest tree at night. If you come across a Powerful Owl nest hollow, use caution and please do not approach it (especially at night). Do not use flash photography at the nest as this may disturb the birds and cause them to abandon the nest.

Powerful owl Ninox strenua- picture by Paul Wheeler, 2014 - at Clareville. 

Department Seeks Community Input On Hume Coal Project Proposal

30.03.2017: Departmental Media Release -Department of Planning and Environment
The local community in the Southern Highlands is encouraged to give feedback on an application for an underground coal mine that will go on public exhibition today.

The Department of Planning and Environment is exhibiting the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) application for the Hume Coal Project for an extended period of 90 days, beginning today until 30 June.

Clay Preshaw, Director of Resource Assessments, said members of the community are encouraged to give feedback as part of the community consultation process.

“Every submission is read and considered as part of the Department’s assessment of the EIS,” Mr Preshaw said. “We are seeking feedback from the public and a wide range of stakeholders. We encourage any landowner, individual or group to share their views on the Hume Coal Project and Berrima Rail Project with us.

“There is a high level of public interest in these applications and we understand the EIS is a lengthy document - that’s why we are going above and beyond in seeking community input.”

Mr Preshaw said the Department had arranged public information sessions, giving the local Southern Highlands community a chance to meet with Department representatives in person.

“Information on the assessment process will be provided and department officers will be able to answer any questions the public may have about the planning process,” he said. “We will also meet with special interest groups during the exhibition period.
“The Department assesses all applications on their merits, in accordance with the planning legislation and all relevant NSW Government policies and guidelines.”
Mr Preshaw added that the Department will apply a rigorous, scientific approach to the assessment of the proposal and seek the best advice available from independent experts.
“At this stage, the Department will seek advice from experts in the fields of groundwater, mining, subsidence, and economics. We will also be seeking expert advice from specialist government agencies.”
The Hume Coal Project proposals involves a new underground coal mine extracting up to 3.5 million tonnes of coal a year over 19 years. The associated Berrima Rail Project involves the extension of the Berrima railway line to connect the proposed mine to the Main Southern Railway.
For more information please visit the Major Projects website

Call For Public Comment On Draft Seabird Threat Abatement Plan

15th March 2017
Public comment is now being sought on the draft Threat abatement plan for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations (Threat abatement plan for incidental catch of seabirds). The public consultation period is open until 30 June 2017.

The draft Threat abatement plan for incidental catch of seabirds provides a national strategy to guide the activities of government, industry and research organisations in abating the impact of oceanic longline fishing operations on seabirds in Commonwealth fisheries.

The consultation paper and related documents are available on theDepartment of the Environment and Energy website. Your comments on this consultation paper are welcome.

Further information about the existing Threat abatement plan 2014 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations is available at the Threat Abatement Plan – seabirds page

A black-browed albatross with chick, on Macquarie Island. (Photo: Kim Kliska)

Avalon Boomerang Bags 2016 Workshops

Boomerang Bag Working Bees run in Mona Vale onTuesdays 11:30am- 5pm.

For those of you unable to come to workshops there are many other ways to get involved, just let us know you're willing by leaving a comment or sending us a message.

Pictured is a Boomerang Bag Box. 

The boxes are located at:

Avalon Organics
Hertford Chemist
Avalon Wholefood
Fresh Fruit and Veg
Johnson Bros Mitre Ten
Avalon Meats
Avalon Rec Centre
Watch this space for another venue soon.

A huge thank you to everybody who has helped Boomerang Bags Avalon get this far. But the work is not over yet. Materials and more hands always welcome  Facebook page  Profile

Newport Community Gardens

Anyone interested in joining our community garden group please feel free to come and visit us on Sunday at 10am at the Woolcott Reserve in Newport!

Keep in Touch with what's happening on Newport Garden's Facebook:
Permaculture Northern Beaches

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

Do you like to enrich the earth as much as benefit from it?

Find out more here:


Avalon Community Garden

Community Gardens bring people together and enrich communities. They build a sense of place and shared connection.


Avalon Community Garden is a community led initiative to create accessible food gardens in public places throughout the Pittwater area. Our aim is to share skills and knowledge in creating fabulous local, organic food. But it's not just about great food. We also aim to foster community connection, stimulate creative ideas for community resilience and celebrate our abundance. Open to all ages and skills, our first garden is on the grounds of Barrenjoey High School (off Tasman Road). Become part of this exciting initiative to change the world locally. Contact us or Visit us artwork: