Inbox and Environment News - Issue 189 

 November 16 - 22, 2014: Issue 189

 Barrenjoey Lighthouse

By rcgusness

 Industry partnership supports Australian production of next-generation photonics

13 November 2014- An optical oscilloscope with 20 times the resolution of conventional electronics has been developed by the ARC Centre for ultrahigh bandwidth devices for optical systems (CUDOS) at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University.

"This is a major advance in a crucial diagnostic tool for next-generation ultrafast fibre optics communications systems used for broadband internet and cloud computing. It is made possible by our collaboration with Alnair Labs Corporation in Tokyo," said Professor Ben Eggleton, director of CUDOS.

"It opens the way for jump-starting the creation of an Australian optical chip foundry based on the local manufacture of highly specialised glasses used for low power, high speed processing on compact chips. We are well advanced in our talks with Alnair Labs about commercial scale supply of this technology."

The opening next year of the Australian Institute for Nanoscience at the University of Sydney and the Australian National Fabrication Facility node at the Australian National University means Australia is perfectly positioned to produce the world-class technology developed by this research.

CEO of Alnair Labs Dr Sze Set said, "This achievement is exciting proof of how industry and academia can collaborate on a global scale to realise the next generation of photonic technology with the potential for commercialisation."

An articleon the development of the oscilloscope will be presented this Friday, 14 November at a session of the Asia Communications and Photonics Conference in Shanghai, an annual gathering of the leading researchers worldwide in photonics and communications.

Dr Simon Lefrancois, from the University of Sydney's School of Physics, lead author of the article to be presented, said: "This is the culmination of four years of research and discussion with our industry partners. The ultrahigh resolution we have achieved is made possible by directly analysing the optical data with a laser beam rather than converting it to a slower electric signal. Our specialty glass greatly enhances the sensitivity of this interaction so that it can be done with low powers on a compact optical chip."

CUDOS is providing the chalcogenide glass optical chips using unique nano-fabrication capabilities developed in Australia.

The laser for optical data analysis is based on Alnair Labs' patented carbon nanotube short pulse technology.

The result is an instrument capable of directly resolving the terabit data signals (a thousand billion data pulses per second) being researched for next generation fibre optics super-channels.

 IUCN World Parks Congress Opening Ceremony 2014 by WPC Sydney

Streamed live on 11 Nov 2014

The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 will begin with an official opening ceremony combining formality with world-class entertainment to welcome delegates from around the world.

The event will kick off with a traditional welcome to country from Australia’s First People with an Aboriginal smoking ceremony, dance and music performances to promote the rich cultural heritage of the host country, Australia. IUCN President Mr Zhang Xinsheng will open the congress with an address followed by respective Australian government and NSW environment ministers.

Mr Luvuyo Mandela will pay tribute to his great grandfather Nelson Mandela, patron of the last IUCN World Parks Congress in South Africa. The ceremony will also include a handover of the Congress to the Australian hosts and an introduction to the Congress patrons and champions.

Through a spectacular live and audio visual performance, delegates will also see a showcase of some of the unique and precious natural areas from across the world and be reminded just how critical they are to our planet, our health and our survival.


Rob Stokes MP, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for the Central Coast , Assistant Minister for Planning 

MEDIA RELEASE  - Wednesday 12 November 2014 -Environment Minister Rob Stokes today welcomed Pacific Island leaders into Sydney Harbour as the World Parks Congress begins in Sydney with over 5,000 delegates gathering to participate in this once in a decade event. 

Pacific Islander crews have embarked on a 6,000 nautical mile journey aboard traditional canoes that ended in Darling Harbour today. 

Mr Stokes said the Congress is expected to inject around $34 million into the state’s economy and will provide an opportunity to discuss major environmental challenges in protecting the world’s most precious places. 

“I am delighted that NSW is hosting this important Congress where issues such as sustainable development and climate change can be discussed amongst the world’s environmental leaders with a view to finding common ground,” Mr Stokes said. 

“The history of park protection in NSW stretches back to the establishment of Royal National Park which is the second oldest national park in the world, and Australia’s first. 

“Today we announced the creation of the Everlasting Swamp National Park, which is one of the largest coastal floodplain wetlands remaining in NSW and an intact ecosystems of this size is extremely rare and globally significant. 

“The Congress will provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the world the state’s over 865 national parks and reserves, further bolstering the approximately 38 million visitors our parks estate attracts each year. 

“NSW has grown its national parks estate over the past 46 years from just 860,000 hectares in 1967 to over 7 million hectares or 9 per cent of the state’s total land area today. 

“Traditional owners continue to be an immense source of knowledge in the management of protected areas in NSW with almost a quarter of the state’s parks estate now under Aboriginal joint management agreements.

 New UNEP Report Unveils World on Track to Meet 2020 Target for Protected Areas on Land and Sea by IUCN 

15.4 Per Cent of Terrestrial Areas, 3.4 Per Cent of Oceans Protected, but Further Progress Needed to Cover and Effectively Manage Areas of Importance for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Sydney, 13 November 2014 – The world is on track to meet a 2020 target on the expansion of protected areas, but more work is needed to ensure areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services are prioritized for protection under equitably managed conditions, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report released today at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress.

Produced by UNEP's World Conversation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) in partnership with IUCN, and funded by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Protected Planet not only monitors global efforts to support and expand protected areas, but supports governments toward faster progress with recommendations for action.

The report finds that 15.4 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 3.4 per cent of the global ocean are now protected—highlighting growing global awareness of the need to safeguard the natural resources that will play a crucial role in the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals.

Protected areas are essential to the conservation of species, ecosystems and the livelihoods they support, and also play a key role in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change—for example, by reducing risks from natural hazards and providing a carbon sink through forests, 7.8 million km2 of which are in protected areas.

The report, the second in a series tracking progress toward meeting Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets,  finds that 1.6 million km2 of new protected areas have been designated since 2012. Since 2010, the total additional global coverage equates to 6.1 million km2—an area approaching the size of Australia.

Target 11 calls for effectively and equitably managed conservation areas covering at least 17 per cent of the world’s terrestrial areas and ten per cent of marine areas—especially  areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services—by 2020.

Protected Planet 2014 finds that the physical coverage aspect of the target is likely to be met, but highlights a lack of progress in other areas, such as: ensuring protected areas are appropriately

located in areas important for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are effectively and equitably managed, and are well-connected.

The report warns that without further concerted global action on appropriate targeting of areas to come under protection, integrated and improved national planning, and assessments of how protected areas are effectively and equitably managed, the overall target will not be met.

“Protected areas not only provide us with a vital ecological safety net but also play a vital economic role through the valuable ecosystem services they provide, from supplying water and timber, to sustaining tourism,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “As we work toward a comprehensive climate agreement, with the next meeting shortly taking place in Lima, and shape the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, it is crucial to expand protected areas in a targeted manner—thus supporting efforts to tackle climate change, and protecting biodiversity and the ecosystem services that sustain all of us.”

“This report shows that the will to do so is present,” he added. “We now need to build support and funding to ensure protected areas are effectively and equitably managed and cover enough important sites for biodiversity and ecosystem services-including marine protected areas.”

 “Ten years ago, the IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban gave birth to the idea of global protected area targets,” says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “Today in Sydney, we are proud to launch the Protected Planet report, which shows how well we have advanced in reaching our goals.

We are committed to making sure that our promises are not empty. What we need to see behind those figures are protected areas that are well and equitably managed, healthy, strong and able to deliver the full range of benefits that are essential for the survival of biodiversity and the wellbeing of people around the world.”

The protected area coverage was calculated using the August 2014 version of the World Database on Protected Areas. The database underwent a major update in 2014, based on the overwhelmingly positive response to a CBD request for parties to the convention to submit an update to UNEP-WCMC to compile the UN List of Protected Areas. By August 2014, 124 countries had submitted new data and 15 were in the process of submitting. 

Terrestrial protected area coverage has increased by about one million km2 since 2010, 126,000 km2 of which came since 2012. In total, 20.6 million km2 of terrestrial and inland water areas are now covered. To cover 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland waters, 2.2 million additional km2 of protected areas are needed.

Just over six million km2 of marine protected areas have been added since 2010, with 1.5 million km2 of this total coming since 2012. In total, 12 million km2 of the global ocean is now covered.

While marine areas are lagging terrestrial areas in attaining the target, real progress has been made in areas within coastal waters and national jurisdiction—reaching coverage of 10.9 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively.

However, only 0.25 per cent of seas beyond national jurisdiction are covered by marine protected areas, demonstrating a gap in conservation efforts and highlighting the urgent need to overcome challenges in establishing such areas where national governance systems do not exist.

To meet the ten per cent target in areas within national jurisdiction, a further 2.2 million km2 of marine areas will be required. In addition, 21.5 million km2 in the high seas need to be protected for the target of 10 per cent to be attained.

Recent increases at sea are mainly due to the establishment of huge areas in waters around Australia, New Caledonia and Britain’s South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. In 2014, New Caledonia designated all of its jurisdictional waters as a marine protected area, encompassing an area of about 1.2 million km2, the largest protected area in the world. 

If these areas were removed from the global marine statistics, coverage would be halved to only 1.8 per cent of the global ocean area and 4.4 per cent of jurisdictional waters. 

Lack of progress in other areas 

Protected Planet 2012 highlighted a raft of challenges revolving around management and governance of protected areas, and issued 13 recommendations on how to expand protected areas and better track progress.

Of the priority actions identified, only two were judged by Protected Planet 2014 to have shown good progress: enhancing national reporting to the datasets used to track global progress, and accelerating the targeted expansion of the global protected area network in terrestrial, inland water and marine areas.

Limited progress was recorded on the other recommendations—which included calls for improved understanding of the benefits of protected areas in supporting biodiversity and ecosystem services, better funding, strengthening local community engagement, and improving the connectivity of protected areas and their integration into surrounding landscapes.

The lack of sustainable financing is a particular area of concern—even though previous UNEP studies have shown that the overall economic benefits of protected areas greatly exceed the cost of managing them.

The financial investment required to establish and effectively manage an expanded protected area network to cover important sites for all wildlife groups by 2020 was estimated in 2012 to be $76.1 billion per year, the report says.

The report issued key messages and recommendations in these areas of concern to assist policy makers in ensuring the target 11 is fully met. These include:

Coverage of biodiversity and ecosystem services

In 2013, 22 per cent of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas and 23 per cent of Alliance for Zero Extinction sites were completely covered by protected areas, and on average less than half of each site was protected. Targeted expansion of protected area networks is needed to include some of these and other key areas on the land, and especially the seas. In addition, coverage of most ecoregions and species is not sufficient. Having a protected area network that adequately covers all important aspects of biodiversity and ecosystems services will require more than 17 per cent of the land and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas.

Effective management

Effectively managed protected areas conserve biodiversity and habitats. However, by 2013 only 29 per cent of the total area of nationally designated protected areas had been assessed for management effectiveness. Lack of effective management remains one of the largest problems facing the current global protected area system. More management effectiveness assessments, plus a greater focus on measuring biodiversity and social outcomes, are needed.

Equitable management

There is weak reporting and little available data on equitable management, both of which need to be strengthened to provide meaningful assessments of how equitable protected areas and other kinds of conservation areas are managed.


Available evidence on corridors indicates they have a positive conservation benefit. Despite a growing number of large connectivity projects, there is little knowledge of the level of connectivity between conservation areas across the wider landscapes and seascapes. Connectivity principles should be better incorporated into national planning and climate change adaptation programmes.

Benefits to people and nature

Protected areas deliver numerous benefits for people and nature and need to be recognized as a proven and cost-effective natural way to deal with global challenges such as water provision, food security, disaster-risk reduction, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. This should be fully acknowledged by integrating protected areas into national planning and decision-making processes across all sectors.

Role in the Sustainable Development Goals

Protected area coverage has been used as one of the indicators to track progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Protected areas, as vital elements of the landscape and models of sustainable development, could play an important role in the establishment and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). When the SDGs are agreed, the contribution of protected areas to each goal should be assessed to inform indicator development.

The full publication, Protected Planet Report 2014: Tracking progress towards global targets for protected areas is available at

The UN List of Protected Areas is available here: (ENG) (FRN)

 Barrier Reef Dump Ban announcement 

13th of November, 2014 - Last night our hopes for a safe and healthy Reef came a step closer to becoming a reality. 

During a speech in Sydney at the World Parks Congress, Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that the government will legislate a ban on dumping.

A ban on dumping is a huge part of the solution to protect the Reef - and the spotlight you’ve helped put on this out-dated practice has got us to this point Friend. 

The devil is always in the detail though, and unfortunately the ban is limited to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park - and doesn’t cover the full World Heritage area.

Why does this matter? There's a big difference between the two. Over 80% of recent Reef dumping has happened outside of the Marine Park, but within the World Heritage area. That’s because the Marine Park covers less of the Reef than the World Heritage Area does. 

A ban in just the Marine Park would still allow millions of tonnes of spoil to be dumped where plumes can easily drift onto coral and seagrass.

With the 2015 World Heritage Committee meeting fast approaching, the government needs to do the right thing and protect the entire World Heritage Area - or it risks an ‘in-danger’ listing for the Reef. 

The fight isn’t over and there will be a lot more we need to do together over the coming months.

But with every good announcement something exciting becomes clearer - we might just be the generation that rose to the challenge and saved the natural wonders of our Great Barrier Reef.

Louise Matthiesson

Great Barrier Reef Campaigner


 New Everlasting Swamp National Park To Boost Wetland Conservation 

Rob Stokes MP, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for the Central Coast, Assistant Minister for Planning 

MEDIA RELEASE - Wednesday 12 November 2014 

Over 5000 hectares of internationally significant wetlands will be protected following the creation of the Everlasting Swamp National Park and of the expansion to the Gwydir Wetlands State Conservation Area and Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve. 

Environment Minister Rob Stokes said creating the Everlasting Swamp National Park near Maclean in northern NSW would protect one of our largest remaining coastal floodplain wetlands, combining an additional 1700 hectares of land to the existing Everlasting Swamp State Conservation Area. 

“The Everlasting Swamp and the adjacent Imersons Swamp form one of the largest coastal floodplain wetlands remaining in NSW and an intact ecosystems of this size is extremely rare and globally significant,” Mr Stokes said. 

“The creation of a new national park will protect vulnerable wildlife and habitats, preserve water quality and natural connectivity in the landscape. It will enhance the protection of vulnerable floodplain wetlands, and protect wetland and estuarine biodiversity. 

“The Swamp provides internationally significant water bird habitat and provides feeding and breeding grounds for a number of birds listed under international migratory bird agreements. It is also an iconic bird watching area. 

“With the support of the local community, NPWS plans to restore the wetland to a more natural hydrological cycle and functioning wetland which will alleviate the acid flush risk and support a more sustainable fishing industry for the Clarence River. 

Mr Stokes said over 3000 hectares have been acquired for addition to the Gwydir Wetlands State Conservation Area, located on the Gingham (Upper Gwydir) Watercourse, about 60 kilometres west of Moree. 

“The Gwydir wetlands are an inland terminal delta that plays an important role in the biological functioning of the Murray-Darling Basin and provides important habitat when other major wetlands are dry,” Mr Stokes said. 

“These additions comprise the largest remaining naturally vegetated wetland parcels on the Gingham Watercourse and importantly provide a landscape linkage between the Gingham Watercourse to the Lower Gwydir River. At Henty, in southern NSW, 200 hectares are proposed as additions to the Doodle Comer Swamp Nature Reserve. 

Mr Stokes said this nationally important wetland is the largest of a number of swamps and depressions scattered across the ‘Billabong Creek Valley Plains’. 

“As an ephemeral wetland comprising a shallow basin, it receives seasonal inflow from winter rains in most years,” Mr Stokes said. 

“This will enhance the diversity of wetlands protected in the reserve system, increase the protection of vulnerable floodplain wetlands, and safeguard wetland and estuarine biodiversity.”


Creative kids stick with environmental message

11 Nov 2014 - Children from three local primary schools—Narrabeen Lakes Primary School, Avalon Primary School and Maria Regina Catholic School—have been chosen as winners of a recent competition with an important environmental message.

Pittwater Council’s Natural Environment and Education Manager, Mr Mark Beharrell said the sticker design competition marked the completion of an extensive stormwater education program.

Mr Beharrell praised the high standard of entries submitted across, drawn from schools in Pittwater and Warringah in the Peninsula Community of Schools.

“The top three winning designs will be transformed into stickers for storm water drains using the tag line, “Only rain down the drain”.

“The stickers, will be presented to the schools at class room and assembly presentations mid-way through the term.

“Each school will be given the stickers place on their downpipes and additional storm drain stickers will be placed around local storm water outlets to reduce the chance of pollution ending up in our creeks and waterways,” added Mr Beharrell.

The Coastal Environment Centre located at Lake Park Road Narrabeen provides environmental education for both primary and secondary schools, tailored to the appropriate syllabus. 

For information on environmental programs for your school contact the Coastal Environment Centre on 9970 1259 or

 New Northern Beaches Plants Website

Pittwater native plants. PNHA member Gillian Gutridge is developing this website. Have a look!

Photo is Coachwood, cousin of NSW Christmas Bush, on Mullet Creek Warriewood.


Rob Stokes MP, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage ,Minister for the Central Coast, Assistant Minister for Planning 

MEDIA RELEASE - Wednesday 12 November 2014 

Environment Minister Rob Stokes today launched Google Street View imagery of some of the most picturesque and visited national parks in NSW. 

Mr Stokes said the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is the first organisation in Australia to be part of the Google program, which sees organisations borrow the Trekker technology to collect imagery of hard to reach places and help map the world. 

“NPWS have captured 360-degree imagery of 25 parks from Kosciuszko to Cape Byron, covering over 400 kilometres of walking tracks and 700 kilometres of roads and trails,” Mr Stokes said. 

“This new service means people can scope out walks before they travel, or get a glimpse of places they would otherwise find inaccessible. 

“People who have been unable to make it to the bottom of that gorge or the top of that ridge can now see all the sites our national parks have to offer. 

"In conjunction with the NSW National Parks website, this imagery will give people another great way to plan their park visits, check walking tracks for suitability and learn about the area beforehand. 

“We have a lot to be proud of in NSW with some of the most beautiful and remote places on the planet. 

“These maps will ensure people who may not have the ability to walk in some of these popular locations will still have the opportunity to experience our vast natural beauty from their lounge rooms on the other side of the world.” 

The Street View imagery is available to the public via the NSW National Parks website and Google Maps and can be accessed at:

 Ocean primed for more El Niño, experts say

November 13, 2014 - Salinity and temperature records from corals in a remote Pacific island in Kiribati show the ocean has warmed over the last sixty years and has set up the conditions for stronger El Niño weather events, which could significantly affect Australian weather.

A team of US, Australian, and Canadian researchers sampled corals from a remote island in Kiribati to build a 60-year record of ocean surface temperature and salinity.

"The trend is unmistakeable, the ocean's primed for more El Niño events," says lead-author Dr Jessica Carilli, now based at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Team member Dr Helen McGregor from the Research School of Earth Sciences at The Australian National University said the change in El Niño patterns could have a major impact on Australia's weather.

"During an El Niño event warm waters to the north of Australia move eastward, taking their rainfall with them," she said.

"This changes the pattern of Australia's rainfall and droughts significantly."

El Niños occurs irregularly every two to seven years and have often coincided with severe droughts in Queensland and New South Wales. The current conditions show that a weak El Niño has brought warmer and drier conditions to Australia for late 2014.

The team focused on regional differences in sea temperatures that generate the circulating winds known as the Walker Circulation, which drive the trade winds that bring moisture across the Pacific Ocean to the north of Australia.

The island from which the corals were sampled, Butaritari, was chosen for its location at one end of the Walker Circulation.

The team extracted a core from a Porites coral on the outer part of the atoll which showed a clear layer structure that, like tree rings, told the seasonal life story of the coral.

"This coral quietly laid down an excellent record of the ocean conditions at that location," Dr McGregor said.

"It greatly complements direct measurements of the ocean temperatures made by humans throughout the 60 year period, filling in the inconsistencies and gaps."

The team used the amounts of the chemicals strontium, calcium and oxygen in the coral to work out the ocean's salinity and temperature.

Jessica E. Carilli, Helen V. McGregor, Jessica J. Gaudry, Simon D. Donner, Michael K. Gagan, Samantha Stevenson, Henri Wong, David Fink. Equatorial Pacific coral geochemical records show recent weakening of the Walker Circulation. Paleoceanography, 2014; DOI: 10.1002/2014PA002683

Above: Dr Jess Carilli samples a Porites coral in Kiribati. Credit: Jess Carilli

Koala Count 2014

The Great Koala Count is back for 2014 from Nov 7-17! Citizen scientists can use the smart phone app Bio Tag or the Koala Count website to log information about sightings, where you went to look for koalas and other animals you saw during your walk.

Get on board below.

Coastal Environment Centre

The Coastal Environment Centre (CEC) is a multi-award winning regional community environmental learning centre, and Pittwater Council's environmental flagship. CEC is celebrating its 20th year this December

More at:

Monthly Cooee Newsletter below. If you would like to receive Council's environmental newsletter via email, please

November 2014 Cooee Newsletter includes information on: BushCare Planting Activities (volunteers needed), Workshops and Events, and great articles HERE 

 NSW Gas Plan Pursues CSG Mining

The NSW Government has released its NSW Gas Plan this week. NSW anti-mining group Lock the Gate has expressed disappointment over its ambiguity :

Clarity needed on CSG status in Sydney's water catchments

LTG Media Release November 13, 2014 - Community groups from across Sydney call on Premier Baird and Minister Roberts to make clear the status of coal seam gas mining in the Special Areas of Sydney Water Catchments once the current moratorium is lifted.

"For twelve months there’s been a moratorium on coal seam gas mining in Sydney’s drinking water catchments. The government’s new CSG plan released today fails to protect Sydney’s water catchments beyond this,” says Isabel McIntosh, spokesperson for Protect Sydney’s Water Alliance.

"Today Premier Baird has missed the opportunity to permanently protect the water supply for Sydney’s five million people from coal seam gas,” says Ms McIntosh. “An amendment to the Bill must be added that rules out the Special Areas of Sydney water catchments from the "unintended consequences" of coal seam gas now and forever.”

"We welcome the government’s commitment to accept all the recommendations of the Chief Scientist and Engineer’s independent review. In her report the Chief Scientist acknowledged that coal seam gas mining will inevitably have "unintended consequences" and that no matter how good the regulation it is impossible to avoid accidents, human error and natural disasters.”

"The Chief Scientist recommended coal seam gas only be approved in appropriate areas. The Sydney Catchment Authority also expressed strong opposition to coal seam gas in the Special Areas. We can’t allow the risk from coal seam gas in the special areas of Sydney Drinking Water Catchments. “

"This new CSG plan reflects the growing pressure from many segments of the community for the Government to act on coal seam gas. Many of Premier Baird’s own MPs are calling for protection of Sydney’s drinking water catchments from CSG," says Ms McIntosh.

Protect Sydney’s Water is an alliance of more than 50 community groups from across Sydney, the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Blue Mountains that is calling on the NSW Government to protect Sydney drinking water catchments from destructive mining practices.


The Sydney Morning Herald’s State Politics reporter, Nicole Hasham, in an article, ‘Coal seam gas projects in Sydney's water catchments could get the go-ahead’ published the same day, points out: ‘…Professor O'Kane's report had concluded that, in general, the risks of coal seam gas development could be managed. The report also said "unintended consequences" due to accidents, human error and natural disasters were inevitable. ‘


The NSW Gas Plan page on the Department of Trade and Investment - Resources and Energy states:

The NSW Gas Plan [  2.84 MB] is about securing gas supplies for NSW households and businesses by establishing a safe, sustainable industry.

In developing the Gas Plan the Government is acting upon the independent advice of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, as set out in the Final Report of the Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW [  243 KB]. This report by Professor O'Kane represents 19 months of work reviewing the coal seam gas industry. The final conclusion of this work is that the risks of gas development can be effectively managed with the right regulation, engineering solutions, and ongoing monitoring and research.

The Plan accepts all Professor O'Kane's recommendations.

The Gas Plan resets the approach to gas development in NSW.

Under the NSW Gas Plan, the Government will:

Make better science and information available to decision-makers and the community

Take a more strategic approach to issuing petroleum exploration titles

Introduce strong and certain regulation with a lead regulator responsible for compliance and enforcement of conditions of approval for gas activities in NSW

Share the benefits of gas development with landholders and local communities

Secure gas supplies by exploring all supply options

Read the: NSW Gas Plan [  2.84 MB] and the Government Response to the Final Report of the Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer [  78.8 KB]. Also available: NSW Gas Plan Common questions and answers [  169 KB].

For further information on gas and other initiatives in the NSW Gas Plan see also:

Office of Coal Seam Gas

All above documents available

 Demand justice for 150 wombats buried alive by a logging company

A logging company in New South Wales, Australia has buried at least 150 bare-nosed wombats while they were still alive. 

About 150 burrows were marked with GPS co-ordinates in bright paint by the Wombat Protection Society in the Glenbog State Forest, so loggers could avoid the burrows. The NSW Environment Protection Authority confirmed the Forestry Corporation had agreed to ensure entrances to the burrows weren’t obstructed.

However, the contractors ignored the markings, with some observers alleging they deliberately removed them, and buried the wombats alive by allowing debris to cover their burrows.

Wombat Protection volunteers found nine collapsed burrows, as well as four burrows that had been so compacted by machinery and logs that they couldn’t be re-opened. They also found a burrow where a road had been built right over the entrance.

Logging interests have tried to argue that bare-nosed wombats make various entrances to their burrows, however, wildlife experts say they just have one entrance in and out, so if it is ploughed over the wombats are subject to a slow death due to lack of food and water.

The callous disregard of the loggers is nothing less than animal cruelty – all of them must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Please sign and share the petition to demand justice for 150 wombats buried alive by a logging company. At HERE

 International meeting in Hobart Strengthens Antarctic Marine Conservation - No New MPA's - Yet

October 31st, 2014 - Member countries of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have agreed on a range of measures to conserve Antarctica’s marine living resources at the Thirty-third Meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

After considering a body of submissions based on the best available scientific data, the world’s leaders in Antarctic marine science and policy achieved alignment on a number of significant issues. Outcomes of the 33rd annual meeting of the Commission in Hobart include:

• the setting of catch limits for CCAMLR-managed fisheries

• agreement on a range of research to improve knowledge of toothfish biology and its ecosystem to support the precautionary management of toothfish fisheries

• confirmation of a staged process to develop a feedback management procedure to manage the krill fishery in the southwest Atlantic

• significant enhancement of the Catch Documentation Scheme to enable better monitoring of the movement of toothfish from point of landing through to market

• agreement to share vessel monitoring data, provided by fishing vessels to the CCAMLR Secretariat, with relevant Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres to improve search and rescue operations in the Southern Ocean

• agreement to hold a symposium in Chile in 2015, marking CCAMLR’s 35th anniversary, to consider the principal challenges for CCAMLR and how the organisation may respond to them.

Stakeholders from around the world have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of discussions on marine protected areas (MPAs). One proposal was jointly submitted by Australia, the European Union and France and covers an area of 1 million km2in East Antarctica. The other, submitted by New Zealand and the United States, covers 1.3 million km2 in the Ross Sea region.

Consensus was not reached on either of the proposed MPAs. Several Members requested additional time to consider issues associated with

• justification for the sizes of the proposed areas

• the proposed duration of the MPAs, and

• the process to support research and monitoring within MPAs and the implications for fisheries.

As CCAMLR operates on a decision-making model that requires consensus, the agreement of all 25 Members is required before a proposal is adopted and implemented.

‘A range of views and national interests on complex issues such as MPAs in international waters creates a challenging environment for reaching consensus,’ says CCAMLR Executive Secretary Andrew Wright.

Research and collaboration continue around the establishment of other MPAs (e.g. in the Weddell Sea) as part of CCAMLR’s representative system of Antarctic MPAs. These and other conservation issues will be considered at future meetings of CCAMLR.


Previously – the Discordant Twangs' Proposal for A Whale Sanctuary....

 United States and Kiribati Sign Historic Cooperative Arrangement to Protect Vital Marine Habitat in the Pacific

Sydney, 13 November 2014 – by WPC 

International Conservation Partnership on “Phoenix Ocean Arc” will Benefit 489,000 Square Nautical Miles of Ocean; Builds on President Obama’s Action to Expand Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined Republic of Kiribati President Anote Tong to sign a Cooperative Arrangement to coordinate and jointly support research and conservation activities for nearly 490,000 square nautical miles in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Monument) in the United States and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in Kiribati.

“With this cooperative arrangement, our two nations are embracing a shared vision of marine conservation that crosses political boundaries and helps protect pristine areas in the Pacific,” Jewell said at a signing ceremony in conjunction with the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s 2014 World Parks Congress. “It is a commitment we are making together for the health of our ocean as it faces growing pressure from climate change, ocean acidification and other threats.”  

The arrangement strengthens cooperative management of the two protected areas, collectively called the Phoenix Ocean Arc, that make up a wide swath of the Pacific, including entire island ecosystems, coral reefs, seamounts and marine areas. Collaborative activities may include scientific research, law enforcement, the removal of shipwrecks, conservation of seabirds, and eradication of non-native species, such as rats, from atolls.

“This collaborative arrangement will enhance efforts in strengthening enforcement and surveillance and we look forward to working closely with the U.S. on this,” said President Tong.

Earlier this year, President Obama signed a proclamation expanding the Monument, one of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world, to six times its original size. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Monument now protects nearly 490,000 square miles around tropical islands and atolls (including seven national wildlife refuges) in the south-central Pacific Ocean and is the largest marine reserve in the world that is completely off-limits to commercial resource extraction, including commercial fishing.  

Kiribati established PIPA in 2008 to protect 157,630 square miles in the central Pacific; UNESCO has recognized it as a World Heritage Site. The Government of Kiribati recently announced the closure of PIPA to commercial activities to be enforced starting in January 2015.

Both PIPA and the Monument are sites with strong conservation mandates; opportunities for global research; challenges to managing and enforcing regulations; and threats from illegal or unregulated fishing and trespassing.

With pressures on the ocean increasing, permanent protections for the most valuable and productive marine ecosystems are especially important. Enhanced coordination between PIPA and the Monument will provide an expanded safe haven for fish and other wildlife to live unharmed by commercial activity.

“The Pacific Ocean provides food security, global weather and climate stability, recreation and inspiration, and jobs and prosperity,” Jewell said. “Protecting the health and integrity of these vast wild areas and their marine wildlife is good national and international policy and demonstrates to the world the benefits of cross-border marine protection.”

In June, President Tong was a featured speaker at the Department of State-hosted “Our Ocean” Conference. The conference brought together individuals, experts, practitioners, advocates, lawmakers, and the international ocean and foreign policy communities to gather lessons learned, share the best science, offer unique perspectives, and demonstrate effective actions to chart a way forward to protect the ocean.

For more information on the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument:refuge/pacific_remote_islands_marine_national_monument/

For more information on the Phoenix Island Protected

 Coral Triangle Initiative – Supporting our regional partners

Joint media release - 13 November 2014

Australia is providing a further $6 million to the Coral Triangle Initiative, supporting the 120 million people in our region who rely on rich and diverse marine life for their livelihoods.

Often called 'the Amazon of the seas', the Coral Triangle is home to 76 per cent of the world's known coral species and is home to the highest reef fish diversity with 37 per cent of the world's reef fish species. The Coral Triangle is also an important area for such high-profile species as tuna and blue whales.

The Initiative is a partnership of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

Australia's funding will help these countries to improve sustainable use of this outstanding natural heritage.

At the regional level, it will focus on three priorities: developing and implementing integrated, ecosystem-based management of countries' seas and coasts; improving economic opportunities through a regional approach to ecotourism, and support for communities to manage and sustainably develop their natural resources.

In keeping with Australia's development priorities, our investment in the Coral Triangle Initiative will support activities that build sustainable economic growth, encourage private sector development and empower women and girls.

The new funding builds on $7.2 million that Australia has provided to the Coral Triangle Initiative since 2009.

 Have a say in the future of Kamay Botany Bay National Park

Media release: 31 October 2014

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is asking the community to comment on proposed amendments to the Plan of Management for Kamay Botany Bay National Park at La Perouse.

NPWS Director Mr Tom Bagnat said the public exhibition of the proposed amendments would seek comments on how visitors and the community want to enjoy the popular precinct.

“This area of Kamay Botany Bay National Park has an amazing history that tells the story of thousands of years of Aboriginal culture in the area, the story of European settlement and fortification, early exploration by the French and the importance to occupants of Happy Valley during the Great Depression and after,” Mr Bagnat said.

Mr Bagnat said the proposed amendments would aim to revitalise the La Perouse area by:

Improving the area for all visitors, encouraging more visitors to the Museum and providing better access for people wanting to explore the area and particularly better access for people who are less mobile; and

Exploring opportunities for leasing and adaptive reuse of the area and the existing buildings, including the potential for the use of the existing building as a café, kiosk or function and conference facility to make the area more attractive for visitors.

Discussions have commenced with Randwick City Council, who have expressed an interest in assuming an active management role in the precinct. Any lease will be guided by the updated PoM and ongoing public consultation.

“These are draft amendments for public discussion and allowing the public to have a say,” Mr Bagnat said.

 “Kamay Botany Bay National Park is significant to all Australians, which is why it was listed on the State Heritage Register in 2013.

“We are encouraging as many people as possible to look at the amendments and let us know what they think. Submissions are open until 17 December 2014.”

The draft amendments to the Plan of Management for Kamay Botany Bay National Park re available

 Agricultural Green Paper released: it’s time to have your say

The Australian Government has released the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper today and is asking everyone in agriculture to have their say on a range of new proposals and policy suggestions.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said that the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper that the Coalition Government has carriage of is seminal to who we are, where we came from, and is a vital part of the puzzle of how we get out of our current financial bind.

"The Green Paper outlines fresh ideas on a range of vitally important issues for the future of our nation including infrastructure, drought support, trade and finance.

"The Green Paper is a reflection of the Coalition Government's commitment to maintaining family farming as the cornerstone of Australian agriculture and to support those on the land who engage in food and fibre production, an inherently noble and good occupation.

"People on the land feed and clothe people. You are on the land if you farm, if you work in an abattoir, if you transport produce in logistics, if you are a vet or a farm worker and if you are the family that owns the farm.

"I said I wanted to hear the big ideas, to shake things up—I was looking for new policies to truly support our farmers and our strong agricultural sector into the future. The Green Paper certainly delivers with options to consider 25 diverse policy themes," Minister Joyce said.

"Now it's about whittling these ideas down and deciding what’s really important to take into the future, particularly given the tight fiscal environment we are working in.

"As a nation, we need a competitive and innovative agricultural sector—a sector that increases farmgate profitability, has expanded export and trade opportunities, and strengthens our rural and regional communities.

"Some of the suggestions stakeholders had for drought support included increasing support for commercial multi-peril crop insurance, more accurate weather and climatic information and increased mental health support.

"In infrastructure, we want the views of producers on the costs and benefits of major investments ranging from road, rail and shipping terminals to regional air hubs, new dams, and communication services and programmes.

"Regarding water infrastructure, the government is seeking to identify new dam and infrastructure projects that can deliver Australia's water supply needs in the future.

"The paper suggests ways to reduce Commonwealth, state and territory regulatory burden and to improve market competition by strengthening domestic competition laws.

"Many of the submissions received through the issues paper consultations raised the need for greater investment in biosecurity information and intelligence gathering tools.

"In terms of taxation and finance, the government is also seeking input on proposals to amend income tax averaging provisions, alter non-commercial loss rules and change the eligibility boundaries for the Zone Tax Offset.

We're looking to farmers to tell us about the most important ideas and the policies we should focus on to take agriculture forward—so feedback will be very useful.

"Everyone has the opportunity to have their say on the Green Paper. Submissions are open online until 12 December 2014. Now is the time to help shape Australian agriculture into a stronger, more profitable and more sustainable sector," Minister Joyce said.

To read the Green Paper, or provide a submission in response, visit:

 Separate curriculum for students with disability no good for anyone

By Michelle Bonati, Ilektra Spandagou, Cathy Little and David Evans (published in The Conversation)

12 November 2014 - The review of the Australian curriculum raises major concerns about access to a quality curriculum for students with disability. Under the guise of creating greater inclusivity, the review recommends a separate curriculum for some students with disability.

The Australian curriculum has been at the centre of public attention since its inception, but the needs of students with disability have been largely absent from the debate. The recent Review of the National Curriculum states:

There is an extensive discussion of issues related to students with disability. Recommendation 10 states that the national curriculum authority, ACARA, should:

This aspect of the review was widely reported in the media with an implicit acceptance of its accuracy. It is so commonplace for people with disability to miss out on services and resources that it is easy to accept that this is also the case with the Australian curriculum.

Providing something "extra" and "different" to people with disability is often seen as a benevolent and appropriate response. While there is scope for improvement in the inclusiveness of the Australian curriculum for all students, the direction the review proposes is a problematic step backwards.

A core argument presented in the review, described by the Australian Special Education Principals' Association in their submission, is:

Part of the argument here is that the educational needs of some students are so different, due to their developmental stage, that an age-appropriate approach to education isn't relevant or beneficial. "Pre-intentional" is not a cognitive developmental stage. Being intentional is part of our human condition. For some students, alternative ways of expressing their intentions may be required.

Another statement that needs further scrutiny is the assertion that a substantial proportion of students with a disability are achieving at a prior-to-foundation level - as outlined in the Initial Australian Government Response to the review:

Accurate and reliable data about the education of students with disability is lacking, and the exercise on the National Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability is still in partial implementation.

Therefore, actual evidence supporting this assertion is unclear. Do these students exist at this level or is it that they haven't achieved these learning outcomes due to various barriers, including ineffective instruction? The real question is, why do students need to achieve these learning outcomes before they can gain access to age-appropriate curriculum?

So what should be the starting point for a discussion aimed at ensuring access to a quality and flexible curriculum for all students? The review doesn't mention the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Australia. Nor does it refer to theDisability Standards for Education (2005) under the Disability Discrimination Act (1992).

These legislative frameworks require an inclusive curriculum for students with disability based on the principle of "on the same basis as" other students. Any separate curriculum for students with disability would violate their rights.

Decades of research have demonstrated that students with intellectual disability can learnacademic content. Students with moderate to severe intellectual disability are able to acquire skills in literacy, maths and science within the context of addressing their personal needs.

Often the process of teaching students with intellectual disability academic skills requires more intensive, systematic instruction and opportunities for students to generalise skills. This means we should be strategic about the curricular priorities by focusing on what is most important to learn for the students' current educational setting and future life. For some students, a greater emphasis might be needed on acquiring skills in the "general capabilities" areas, such as literacy, numeracy, personal and social skills, and information technology skills.

We know from international experience that separate curricula and programs reinforce low expectations. The recommendation for a separate curriculum for students with intellectual disability hearkens back to a developmental approach, which as early as 1980 was universally rejected as ineffective for promoting positive school outcomes and only reinforces low expectations for achievement.

Students with intellectual disability do not need to achieve pre-foundation level outcomes before they have the right to access age-appropriate curriculum. This relegates them to a school career focused on content only appropriate for infants and preschool age children (this could mean a Year 10 student sorting shapes). Denying these students access to age-appropriate learning does not promote their dignity or positive school outcomes.

The review of the Australian curriculum is an opportunity to look back at what has been achieved and find a progressive way forward in an inclusive curriculum for all. Inclusivity hasn't been a prominent principle in the development of the curriculum and resources designed to respond to student diversity have followed a retrospective, add-on approach. However, this doesn't minimise their value and potential in upholding the dignity of students with disability to access a robust, meaningful and personalised curriculum on the same basis as their peers.

 Palau - Searching for Heroes – Bent Prop Project

Published on 7 Nov 2014

Passion meets technology in the search for downed aircraft in the South Pacific. The BentProp Project is a group of volunteers who search for and help repatriate missing World War II Airmen. Their searches were long and arduous until they enlisted the scientific know-how of Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD and The University of Delaware. What they find is truly inspiring.

Find out more about The BentProp Project:

Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD:

University of Delaware:

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Music: Thinnen "Tomorrow" and "Teller"

 Colour your world with mind painting!

11 November 2014 - For those people who don't believe they have a 'creative bone in their body', now there's the opportunity to challenge yourself to mind painting! A group of students from the University of Sydney are the masterminds of a unique, digital art project Mind Paintings, which was be launched for the 'The 7mm Pitch' public installation at Broadway's Central at Central Park, on Friday, 14 November at 6pm.

As part of the Masters of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts (MIDEA) program at the University of Sydney, Mind Paintings is an innovative, interactive project that enables people to paint with their minds by reading their brain waves.

The University of Sydney project led by MIDEA Lecturer Dr Caitilin de Bérigny and international lighting designer Bruce Ramus, in collaboration with Adobe and the University's innovation lab, is the first of its kind in Australia.

Using a Mindwave wireless device, the wearable headset picks up the user's electroencephalogram (EEG) that measures the brain's electrical signals. Alpha waves and beta waves, which record the attention and meditation levels of a person, are translated into abstract digital paintings.

Mind Paintings at Central offers visitors the opportunity to sit inside a 'meditative pyramid' and watch their brain waves paint live before their eyes on a massive digital display. Levels of stress and relaxation, picked up through brain activity, are reflected in the final digital painting.

Dr Caitilin de Bérigny said: "For the first time, we can get a creative glimpse of a person's state of mind. The more meditative and relaxed the state of a person, the greater the visual impact on the digital canvas.

"The project transgresses the boundaries between the physical and the virtual. Thought becomes visual, mood becomes art, inside becomes outside.

"It shows us the potential that interactive technology can play, encouraging health and well-being through meditation. The more you meditate, the greater your potential to create digital artworks," she said.

Mind Paintings is the second University of Sydney project to feature in 'The '7mm Pitch' at Central - a digital art program curated by Bruce Ramus and an ongoing initiative of the Central at Central Park team.

Bruce Ramus commented: "Mind Paintings explores the idea of a greater mind, and whether the energy we feel in our body can precede our thoughts.

"Using sophisticated technology, as well as a lot of hard work and self-examination, the students have created a beautiful suite of works that will not only enhance the public space at Central, but will encourage people to express themselves creatively.

"It's been a joy to watch the students respond to this challenge creatively, and to see how they have developed an understanding of their own creative process," he said.

The public will engage with up to twelve works that will revolve on the digital wall at Central between 12noon and 3pm daily from 15 to 28 November 2014.

"Central is delighted to be showcasing Mind Paintings on its digital wall. It's an innovation that we know our visitors will really enjoy engaging with, and we're proud to be able to offer something so unique within our 'Living Mall'. We believe it's another example of why we are more than a mall, and a must-visit destination for the local community," said Felicity Armstrong, Central Centre Manager.

The 7mm Pitch

The 7mm Pitch refers to the distance between each pixel that forms Central's digital wall and is a curated digital art program commissioned by Central at Central Park. The program is the only one of its kind within a retail space in Australia, and plays host to a diversity of works curated by Ramus, the creators of the wall, in an extension of the design and art program that has been at the core of the unique Central Park development since it was first conceived.


The Masters of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts (MIDEA) trains students to push the boundaries of contemporary design, by combining analytical design thinking, human-computer interaction and emerging technology. The studio-based teaching environment challenges students to critically engage with the human experience of a computer-enhanced world, giving graduates the ability to build creative technology that has the potential to transform and shape our world in the future.

 Astronomers dissect the aftermath of a supernova

November 10, 2014 - In research published today in theAstrophysical Journal, an Australian led team of astronomers has used radio telescopes in Australia and Chile to see inside the remains of a supernova. The supernova, known as SN1987A, was first seen by observers in the Southern Hemisphere in 1987 when a giant star suddenly exploded at the edge of a nearby dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud.

In the two and a half decades since then the remnant of Supernova 1987A has continued to be a focus for researchers the world over, providing a wealth of information about one of the Universe's most extreme events.

PhD Candidate Giovanna Zanardo at The University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research led the team that used the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile's Atacama Desert and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) in New South Wales to observe the remnant at wavelengths spanning the radio to the far infrared.

"By combining observations from the two telescopes we've been able to distinguish radiation being emitted by the supernova's expanding shock wave from the radiation caused by dust forming in the inner regions of the remnant," said Giovanna Zanardo of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, Western Australia.

"This is important because it means we're able to separate out the different types of emission we're seeing and look for signs of a new object which may have formed when the star's core collapsed. It's like doing a forensic investigation into the death of a star."

"Our observations with the ATCA and ALMA radio telescopes have shown signs of something never seen before, located at the centre or the remnant. It could be a pulsar wind nebula, driven by the spinning neutron star, or pulsar, which astronomers have been searching for since 1987. It's amazing that only now, with large telescopes like ALMA and the upgraded ATCA, we can peek through the bulk of debris ejected when the star exploded and see what's hiding underneath."

More research published recently in the Astrophysical Journal also attempts to shine a light on another long-standing mystery surrounding the supernova remnant. Since 1992 the radio emission from one side of the remnant has appeared 'brighter' than the other.

In an effort to solve this puzzle, Dr Toby Potter, another researcher from ICRAR's UWA node has developed a detailed three-dimensional simulation of the expanding supernova shockwave.

"By introducing asymmetry into the explosion and adjusting the gas properties of the surrounding environment, we were able to reproduce a number of observed features from the real supernova such as the persistent one-sidedness in the radio images," said Dr Toby Potter.

The time evolving model shows that the eastern (left) side of the expanding shock front expands more quickly than the other side, and generates more radio emission than its weaker counterpart. This effect becomes even more apparent as the shock collides into the equatorial ring, as observed in Hubble Space Telescope images of the supernova.

"Our simulation predicts that over time the faster shock will move beyond the ring first. When this happens, the lop-sidedness of radio asymmetry is expected to be reduced and may even swap sides."

"The fact that the model matches the observations so well means that we now have a good handle on the physics of the expanding remnant and are beginning to understand the composition of the environment surrounding the supernova -- which is a big piece of the puzzle solved in terms of how the remnant of SN1987A formed."

Journal References:

Giovanna Zanardo et al. Spectral and morphological analysis of the remnant of Supernova 1987A with ALMA & ATCA.Astrophysical Journal, 2014 (in press) DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/796/2/82

T. M. Potter, L. Staveley-Smith, B. Reville, C.-Y. Ng, G. V. Bicknell, R. S. Sutherland, A. Y. Wagner. MULTI-DIMENSIONAL SIMULATIONS OF THE EXPANDING SUPERNOVA REMNANT OF SN 1987A. The Astrophysical Journal, 2014; 794 (2): 174 DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/794/2/174

An outline of the equatorial ring and inner debris, as seen with the Hubble Space Telescope (green/blue contours), on top of ALMA observations of the remnant at 345 GHz (red/orange, with rendering). Credit: G. Zanardo, ICRAR-UWA

 Dive Safe: A few quick tips for boat drivers

By NSWMaritime Published on 4 Nov 2014

Skippers need to understand what the blue and white alpha flag means and divers need to make sure they can be seen by passing boat traffic. Learn about what you can do out on the water to enjoy safe diving.

 World class mental health facility opens doors at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

13 November 2014 - A new 73-bed mental health centre unveiled today at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital provides a unique opportunity to bring together the world's best mental health practice and cutting-edge research to benefit the people of NSW.

Named The Professor Marie Bashir Centre, the $67 million building is a joint initiative of the NSW Government, Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney.

Due to welcome patients next week, the six-storey centre was officially opened this morning by the Premier, Mike Baird, NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, NSW Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell, and former governor and patron, Dame Marie Bashir.

The centre features a six-bed short stay unit, an assessment unit, physical therapies suite, acute adult inpatient services, with capacity to manage mothers and babies in a defined pod, and a high dependency unit. It also houses the state's eating disorder services under the one roof for the first time, and provides seven University of Sydney beds dedicated to translational research.

"It represents a new era in the way we care for people in our community," says Sydney Local Health District's Director of Mental Health Services Associate Professor Victor Storm. "The majority of people who have experienced mental illness recover well and lead fulfilling lives in their communities when they have access to necessary care and support."

"The University of Sydney, through the Brain & Mind Research Institute, has been a key partner to this specific project since its inception," says University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence.

"The university advocated strongly for this unique development in which it commits its research and education programs that can make real and direct benefits to individuals and families affected by mental illness. The challenge now is to deliver on the aspirations of all those who have supported the project."

"The new centre is a further example of the NSW Government supporting the University of Sydney and the Sydney Local Health District to deliver world class, evidence based mental health services," says Professor Ian Hickie, Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute.

"Specific examples include our NHMRC and CRC-backed programs for early intervention for teenagers and young adults, sophisticated use of modern brain imaging technologies, the development of new treatments for severe depressive disorders and the utilisation of modern communication technologies to deliver better long-term outcomes.

"In the first instance, BMRI-led teams will focus on developing better interventions for young people in the early phases of major mood or psychotic disorders. Through the generous support of the NSW Government and private philanthropy, the University of Sydney is currently appointing a new Professor of Youth Depression to enhance our capacity to deliver in this key area of mental health services."

The building has been named in honour of one of the District's most significant champions for mental health, and a much loved member of the RPA and University of Sydney families.

"Professor Bashir worked within our hospitals in mental health for many years, becoming an advocate for thousands of people across the system," says the District's Chief Executive, Dr Teresa Anderson.

"Her commitment to improving the lives of people living with a mental illness, her compassion, and her ability to make every person that she comes into contact with feel special and important is inspirational, and her legacy will continue in this centre."

The Professor Marie Bashir Centre will house the state's eating disorder services under the one roof for the first time. It will also include a six-bed short stay unit, a ground floor assessment unit, physical therapies suite, acute adult inpatient services, including capacity to manage mothers and babies in a defined pod, a high dependency unit, as well as seven beds dedicated for research, putting the centre at the forefront of international best practice in psychiatric care.

It integrates many of Sydney Local Health District's mental health services in addition to providing seven University of Sydney beds dedicated to translational research. The purpose-built centre provides a contemporary, warm environment featuring beautiful wall murals, a roof top garden, barbecue and break out areas for staff, patients and visitors.

The Centre is a joint initiative of NSW Government, Sydney Local Health District and University of Sydney.

 Medicare spending on general practice is value for money

By Helena Britt, Christopher Harrison, Clare Bayram, Graeme Miller, Joan Henderson, Julie Gordon

11 November 2014 - Last year taxpayers spent A$6.3 billion on GP services through Medicare, about 6% of the total government health expenditure. This was a 50% increase (A$2.1 billion) in today's dollars over the past decade and equates to about A$60 more per person in real terms.

Health Minister Peter Dutton says this growth is "unsustainable". He plans to introduce a GP co-payment in hope of reducing the number of times Australians visit a GP and to ensure users foot some of the bill.

But targeting primary care for cost savings could backfire. Research we're releasing today shows that while the number of GP visits has increased, the services are cost-effective. If the same services were performed in other areas of the health system, they would cost considerably more.

Under pressure

Unsustainable or not, Australia's health-care system faces a number of challenges, most notably from the rising prevalence of chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This is due to three major factors.

Australia has an ageing population as our world-class health system keeps us alive longer.

In response to government encouragement through Medicare initiatives, GPs are diagnosing disease earlier and providing preventive interventions for health risk factors and diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

An increasing proportion of Australians are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for chronic conditions.

Earlier diagnosis means people are living longer with diagnosed disease. The result is exponential growth in required care over their lifetime.

The search for more cost-effective health care for our population should be applauded. But reducing spending on GP services is not the answer.

What do we get?

Our team has been studying general practice activity for over 16 years through the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health(BEACH) program. This cross-sectional encounter-based study uses changing random samples of about 1,000 GPs per year, each of whom contribute details of 100 encounters with consenting patients. This provides a representative sample of about 100,000 encounters per year from across the country.

Results from one of the BEACH books, released today, shed some light on what we got for the $2.1 billion of extra Medicare spending on general practice. In 2013-14 there were 35 million more GP services than ten years earlier, a 36% increase. This included 17 million more attendances by patients aged 65 years and over (a 67% increase).

Length of GP consultations recorded through BEACH suggest that the average consultation now takes almost one minute more than a decade ago. The result is that GPs spend an extra ten million clinical hours with their patients, a 43% increase.

The number of problems managed at these consultations has also significantly increased. GPs managed an additional 68 million health problems at these encounters (an increase of 48%), including 24 million more chronic problems.

Management of these problems involved an additional ten million procedures (a 66% increase) and 12 million clinical treatments, such as counselling, advice and education, than a decade ago.

Clearly, increases in the amount and complexity of GP clinical work are reflected in additional Medicare expenditure. If other medical specialists and/or emergency departments had provided these extra services, they would have cost far more.

The average cost of a GP visit was A$47 from Medicare, plus a A$5 patient contribution. For a private specialist, the average visit costs Medicare A$82 plus a A$38 patient fee.

A visit to the emergency department, which is paid by state and territory governments, costs far more. In Western Australia, for example, an emergency department visit in 2011-12 cost A$599 on average.

More, not less primary care

International research has repeatedly concluded that investment in primary care is the most cost-effective way to provide population health care. As GP services are far cheaper than other types of medical services, discouraging GP visits by introducing a standard co-payment for most patients would increase costs to governments, now and later.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but one effective way to contain the cost of Australia's health care would be to expand the use of GP services.

One issue not acknowledged in the discussion about health costs is the increasing number of patients with multiple chronic conditions. These patients use more resources and are more likely to have fragmented care due to the number of health professionals involved. GPs play the central role in co-ordinating the management of patients with multiple chronic conditions, reducing costly hospitalisations.

As the age of government-supported retirement increases, many Australians will have to work until they are 70. This highlights the importance of promoting good health across the lifespan, through a strong focus on primary and secondary prevention and co-ordinated management of chronic conditions.

In any one year 85% of us visit a GP, but only about 15% of us are admitted to hospital, where a far greater proportion of health funds is spent. GPs supply the bulk of care to the population, so general practice is where our investment should be.

If we want to strengthen our health-care system and ensure its sustainability into the future, it makes sense to encourage people to use its cheapest and most efficient arm: general practice.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

 History Week 5- 13 September 2015 – War, Nationalism and Identity

We are delighted to announce the new theme for History Week 2015 - War, Nationalism and Identity. Registrations for events and speaker connect will open in early November, 2014.

How does war shape ideas of nation and identity? Is baptism on the battlefield a prerequisite of nationhood and a sense of national identity? What are the roles of ideas and political movements in creating and shaping nation states? In 2015 the theme of History Week will focus on the history of nation building, nationalism and national identity as the products of both peaceful and violent processes, focussing on generals and politicians, constitution makers and revolutionaries.

History Week will take place between 5- 13 September 2015.

It is often argued that the Australian was born of War, on the slopes of Gallipoli to be precise. But historians have also suggested that the cost of the war was so great- the country was left internally divided, a generation of men was lost on the battlefields of the Western Front and the economy was left shattered- that in 1919 Australia was a broken nation.

The Second World War  was also seen as a nation building exercise, especially in the dark days of late 1941, early 1942, when invasion seemed imminent and political leaders argued that Australia’s capacity for resistance would be a measure of the strength of nationhood. But World War II proved less costly both in economic and human terms, and this time the country was not left divided by sectarian or political issues. In 1945 Australia was better prepared for growth and prosperity than at any time in its history.

How then does war shape ideas of nation and identity? Is baptism on the battlefield a prerequisite of nationhood and a sense of national identity? What are the roles of ideas and political movements in creating and shaping nation states? In 2015 the theme of History Week will focus on the history of nation building, nationalism and national identity as the products of both peaceful and violent processes, focussing on generals and politicians, constitution makers and revolutionaries.

Find out more at:

 New Dean for Nursing and Midwifery at Sydney University

13 November 2014 - Associate Professor Donna Waters will be Sydney University's new Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, the University announced today.

Associate Professor Waters will commence her new role on 22 January 2015.

University Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said he looked forward to working with Associate Professor Waters as she leads the faculty and as a member of SEG.

"I am particularly pleased that, after conducting an international search, we have appointed an existing member of the faculty to the deanship. This is testament to the contribution Donna has made to the faculty, including as Associate Dean (Research), and also underlines our commitment to promoting women leaders within the University."

Associate Professor Waters joined the University in 2009, having previously worked at the Children's Hospital, Westmead, the College of Nursing and Justice Health NSW.

She is a registered nurse with 25 years experience in the management of nursing, medical and health services research.

Associate Professor Waters enjoys exploring the practical challenges of research with students and her particular research interests lie in evidence-based practice, especially innovative strategies that aid the transfer and implementation of research evidence into clinical practice.

 Rosetta Live: #3 Touchdown

Published on 12 Nov 2014

For the first time in history, scientists are attempting to land a robotic probe on a comet - the final and most challenging stage of the Rosetta mission. Nature Video heads off to the European Space Agency's mission control in Darmstadt, Germany to bring you the events as they unfold. In this final episode, the real nail biting begins. With its progress now totally in the hands of fate, will Philae land safely?

Follow the live blog here:

 Bright future for biomedical research and teaching - Wallace Wurth Building

13 November 2014 - The $140 million redevelopment of the Wallace Wurth Building has today been officially opened by the Federal Minister for Health, Peter Dutton. The transformed and expanded building, home to UNSW Medicine and The Kirby Institute, now boasts teaching, learning and research spaces equal to any in the world. 

David Gonski, Fred Hilmer, Peter Dutton and Peter Smith opening the new Wallace Wurth Building

Minister Dutton said innovative health and medical research is a key driver of better health care and outcomes. 

“This state-of-the-art building will be full of people with passion and drive to improve the health of the nation and all Australians stand to benefit from ongoing investments in medical research,” he said. 

The original Wallace Wurth Building, named in honour of UNSW’s first president and chancellor, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1963. It served its purpose well, but was designed for its times. 

Today’s redevelopment has almost twice as much floor space and expansive state-of-the art laboratories. It features flexible teaching spaces designed to support collaborative, 21st-century learning styles and practice suites in which today’s students can master the clinical communication skills they will need to become the best of tomorrow’s medical practitioners. 

The entire development, including The Kirby Institute, can accommodate more than 1250 students and 750 research staff. 

Dean of UNSW Medicine Professor Peter Smith said students and staff are delighted with the new facilities. 

“UNSW Medicine can now proudly offer its students and researchers an inspiring, superbly appointed and contemporary environment in which to learn and make discoveries.”

The first stage of the Wallace Wurth redevelopment was completed in 2013 and brought The Kirby Institute onto UNSW’s Kensington campus for the first time. With UNSW Medicine settled into the Wallace Wurth Building, the Lowy Cancer Research Centre next door and a nearby Biological Sciences Building scheduled for completion in 2017, UNSW’s upper campus is set to become a biomedical research and teaching precinct of international signficance.

The precinct’s close proximity to premier hospital facilities will support the rapid translation of research into clinical trials and provide reseachers, clinicians and students with new opportunities to be at the forefront of advances in patient treatment.

UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer said: “We hope our exciting new biomedical research precinct, which is home to many fine students and researchers, will encourage productive collaboration between disciplines and great achievements. It will further boost the University’s international reputation as a research leader in these fields.”

The redevelopment of The Kirby Institute was funded by both Commonwealth and State governments, and UNSW, with significant contributions from donors including The Atlantic Philanthropies. The redevelopment of the medical sciences component of Wallace Wurth has been funded by UNSW.

The new Wallace Wurth Building

The 1960s Wallace Wurth Building (Photo: Max Dupain)

The Wallace Wurth redesign was undertaken by two multi-award winning firms: Lahz Nimmo Architects and Wilson Architects. Their stellar design portfolios include the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, which attracted an International Property Award as well as an Australian Institute of Architects NSW Public Architecture Awards commendation.