Inbox and Environment News - Issue 204 

 March 1 - 7, 2015: Issue 204


 New species, the Ruby Seadragon, discovered

February 2015 – While researching the two known species of seadragons as part of an effort to understand and protect the exotic and delicate fish, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego made a startling discovery: A third species of seadragon.

Using DNA and anatomical research tools, Scripps graduatestudent Josefin Stiller and marine biologists Nerida Wilson of the Western Australia Museum (WAM) and Greg Rouse of Scripps Oceanography found evidence for the new species while analyzing tissue samples supplied by WAM. The researchers then requested the full specimen as well as photographs taken just after it was retrieved from the wild in 2007. They were further surprised by the appearance of the newly identified animal. The color was a bright shade of red and vastly different from the orange tint in Leafy Seadragons and the yellow and purple hues of Common Seadragons.

Stiller, Wilson, and Rouse gave their new discovery the scientific name Phyllopteryx dewysea, also referred to as the "Ruby Seadragon," and details are published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

"We're now in a golden age of taxonomy and these powerful DNA tools are making it possible for more new species than ever to be discovered," said Rouse, curator of the Scripps Benthic Invertebrate Collection. "That such large charismatic marine species are still being found is evidence that there is still much to be done. This latest finding provides further proof of the value of scientific collections and museum holdings."

Stiller identified the original Ruby Seadragon, a male carrying several dozen babies, as part of her graduate research on population genetics of the two known seadragons across the Australian coast (seadragons are found exclusively off southern Australia). She studies migration patterns and genetic diversity to help bolster seadragon conservation efforts.

"A CT (computer tomography) scan gave us 5,000 X-ray slices that we were able to assemble into a rotating 3-D model of the new seadragon," said Stiller. "We could then see several features of the skeleton that were distinct from the other two species, corroborating the genetic evidence."

The team believes the animal's coloring suggests it inhabits deeper waters than the Leafy and Common Seadragons, as the red shading would be absorbed at depth and effectively serve as camouflage.

Following the initial finding, Wilson combed through the collections at WAM and found a second Ruby Seadragon specimen that had washed up on a Perth beach nearly a hundred years ago, and Stiller tracked down two others archived in the Australian National Fish Collection.

"This new seadragon first entered the Western Australia Museum's collection in 1919and lay unidentified for almost a century," said Wilson. "Recognizing this new species demonstrates how museum collections underpin biodiversity discovery."

The authors now hope to put together a search expedition for Ruby Seadragons and witness them alive in the wild.

"It has been 150 years since the last seadragon was described and all this time we thought that there were only two species," said Wilson. "Suddenly, there is a third species! If we can overlook such a charismatic new species for so long, we definitely have many more exciting discoveries awaiting us in the oceans."

"I've always been fascinated with marine life, especially seadragons, so this is an amazing discovery," said Mary "Dewy" White, cofounder of the Lowe Family Foundation, which supported the research. "People always talk about going to outer space but they forget about the ocean we have here on our own planet. For me ocean conservation and research is paramount, and we need to do what we can to encourage and nurture ocean exploration."

Josefin Stiller , Nerida G. Wilson , Greg W. Rouse. A spectacular new species of seadragon (Syngnathidae). Royal Society Open Science, February 2015 DOI:10.1098/rsos.140458

Top: A 3-D scan of the newly discovered Ruby Seadragon. Image courtesy of University of California, San Diego

Australian artists' archives revealed for the 40th anniversary of International Women's Day

25 February 2015 

A moving archive of contemporary art, film and social history projects that reflect on past experiences of Australian women opens at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) on 5 March to commemorate the 40th anniversary of International Women's Day.

From the tales of women institutionalised in Sydney in past centuries, the pioneering Australian filmmakers of the 1970s, to a 2005 time capsule of 100 Sydney artists' interviews and, more recently, the creatively-motivated relationships of four daughters and mothers - the stories and works are as intriguing as they are diverse.

Future Feminist Archive is an exhibition and research initiative led by the University of Sydney's contemporary art school. It comprises four projects inspired by different archives that amplify the experiences of Australian women from contrasting times and backgrounds.

Heading the research is SCA's Associate Dean, Dr Jacqueline Millner. She said: "In recent years we have seen a groundswell of interest in feminism's role in contemporary art and culture.

"One significant landmark is this year's 40th anniversary of International Women's Day, which is also the 20th anniversary of The National Women's Art Exhibition held in over 150 venues across Australia and organised by the late feminist art historian Joan Kerr.

"Future Feminist Archive will mark the anniversaries by hosting a series of exhibitions and events that look at how the past is always with us. Archives can be understood as official records but they also present an opportunity to interpret the past differently. This inspires many artists, who go searching for what history has overlooked to bring us new stories and perspectives," said Dr Jacqueline Millner.

The exhibition includes a film produced by the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Projectthat shares the revelations of former residents of three historic Sydney institutions:- the Parramatta Female Factory (1821-1847); the Roman Catholic Orphan School (1844-1886); and the Parramatta Girls Home (1887-1974). Launched in 2013, the project is run by a voluntary group, Parragirls, headed by Bonney Djuric. It aims to create a historical record of the places, experiences and impact on the lives of the women who lived in these institutions.

Daughters Mothers, a centrepiece of the exhibition, brings to light the creative connections of four mid-career artists and their mothers. Judy and Joyce Watson, Sue and Peggy Pedley, Alison and Joan Clouston, and Toni Warburton and the late Enid (Soot) Warburton, all weave their family stories together with broader cultural history, and reflect on the inter-generational passing of knowledge.

Twenty-four hours of video of 100 Sydney artists interviewed by Anne Kay and Jane Polkinghorne in 2005 features in Artist Archive. The interviews capture the thoughts of each artist on what it means to be an artist, and the social and political issues that shaped their art. Ten years on, Artist Archive is a fascinating time capsule of Australian contemporary art and culture. The exhibition will include the reflections of some artists looking back on their earlier selves.

The exhibition also screens several ground-breaking films by Australian feminist filmmakers The films, which were made during the second wave of feminism in the '70s, have helped shape contemporary experimental film in Australia. They include rarely-seen works such as Maidens (1978) screened in Cannes in '78, We Aim to Please (1976), My Survival as an Aboriginal (1978), Size 10 (1978) and For love or Money (1983). Women's Gaze and the Feminist Film Archive is curated by Margot Nash, Jeni Thornley and Loma Bridge, and coordinated by Sarah Attfield.

Future Feminist Archive will be launched with a talk by prominent Australian artist and SCA's artist-in-residence Tracey Moffatt who will be discussing her recent work on 4 March (6pm).

Artists and filmmakers in the Feminist Film Archive will speak at a symposium on 6 March (10am-3.30pm) at the Art Gallery of NSW. The artists in Daughters Mothers will talk about their work at SCA Galleries on 7 March (11am-1pm).

Event Details: Future Feminist Archive

When: 5-28 March 2015 (official opening: Wednesday, 4 March at 6pm)

Where: Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney, Kirkbride Way, Rozelle

Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-5pm; Sat 11am-4pm. Closed Sun.

Cost: Free


Restoring Coastal Headland Ecosystems Grant events

As part of the NSW Environmental Trust ‘Restoring Coastal Headland Ecosystems’ grant, a number of community events are being planned. 

Pittwater Council would like to welcome and encourage any residents who have not attended these events before and all those who have in the past. 

Come along, get to know your neighbours and enjoy the satisfaction of helping your local area!

Free Native Plant Giveaway – Warriewood Beach – Saturday 18 April from 8am to 12pm. To be held opposite the Warriewood Beach cafés and shops on Narrabeen Park Parade. The free plants will be for local residents at Warriewood and Turimetta. Come along and select some local native plants designed to your coastal conditions. 

Community Planting Event – Turimetta Beach – Sunday 26 April from 9am to 12pm. Meet at the main beach track and grass area above Turimetta Beach (opposite 58 Narrabeen Park Parade). Tools, equipment, morning tea and training provided by Council. Come along, wear comfortable clothing, closed shoes and give us a hand!

Warriewood Beach Bushcare Group - please call the Bushcare Officer for dates to be scheduled. 

NEW Mona Vale Basin Bushcare Group - first meeting scheduled for Saturday 7 March from 8am to 11am. Meet in the reserve on the corner of Surfview and Bassett St East. 

Mona Vale Dunes Bushcare Group meets regularly on the 2nd Saturday and 3rd Thursday of each month from 8:30 to 11:30am. Meet at the end of Golf Avenue, Mona Vale. 

For further details regarding the Bushcare groups or events please contact the Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367 or for information regarding the grant project please call the Bushland Management Officers on 9970 1363 or 9970 1390.

 Volunteers needed to help with Powerful Owl Surveys

The Powerful Owl Project was established in 2011 and is managed by BirdLife Australia’s Threatened Bird Network (TBN) and Birds in Backyards Program (BIBY). With the aid of citizen scientists, the Powerful Owl Project aims to investigate the distribution and breeding ecology of Powerful Owls in Sydney’s urban landscape and enhance the management of this species. Throughout the duration of the project, over 300 volunteer owl observers have been trained in survey techniques and allocated to a survey site where they monitor breeding activity, in order to map and monitor the breeding success of the Powerful Owl. 

They are looking for new volunteers to help out with the monitoring of known breeding sites around Greater Sydney. Monitoring involves searching for the nest tree (by looking for whitewash or listening for calls) and observing what the owls are doing (courting, in the hollow with chicks, feeding chicks, etc). Sites need to be monitored at least once per month during the Powerful Owl breeding season (March to September) and some sites might involve a walk to the nest site, sometimes over uneven terrain.

No experience is necessary for volunteering, and an all-day training workshop will be provided for new volunteers at North Narrabeen on Saturday 28 March. 

If you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch with BirdLife Australia and they can work out the best site location for you. 

When: Throughout the 2015 Powerful Owl breeding season (March to September)

Location: Various locations throughout the Greater Sydney, more information to come. 

Contact: Caroline Wilson, BirdLife Australia, please contact before 15 March so they can get an idea of numbers for the workshop.

 Commonwealth Threatened Species Commissioner missing in action for Ballina’s threatened koalas

19 February, 2015 - Media Release

The NSW Nature Conservation Council has joined the fight to save the Ballina koala population threatened by the Pacific Highway upgrade, and is appealing to the Commonwealth Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews to intervene in support of the Friends of the Koala.

“Mr Andrews has been in the role for almost eight months but has done nothing to address the plight of the nationally significant koala population in the Blackwall Range wildlife corridor,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

“This issue is clearly within the Threatened Species Commissioner’s area of responsibility, so we are now appealing to him to intervene on behalf of our iconic koalas on the North Coast.”

Ms Smolski said she was writing to the Commissioner after the Friends of the Koala had approach the Nature Conservation Council for assistance.

“Friends of the Koala President Lorraine Vass came to me in frustration because the Commissioner has failed to respond to their requests for help,” she said.

“I am hopeful that NCC, as the state’s peak environment body, might be able to get a commitment from the Commissioner, or at least an acknowledgement that a very real problem exists.”

Ms Vass wrote to Mr Andrews last on July 23, 2014, explaining that the Ballina koala population faced extinction within 20 to 25 years if the highway went through the middle of Blackwall Range, as is planned. Regrettably, his office has still not responded.

In her letter, Ms Vass’s letter said:

… population modelling evidence … indicates a potential for localised extinction of the koala meta-population within a time-frame of 20 to 35 years post construction of the Upgrade.

We have written to Minister Hunt on several occasions urging him to ensure the survival of the nationally significant koala population in the Blackwall Range wildlife corridor by directing that the route for Section 10 does not pass through the area which is currently supporting resident populations.

We now ask you to bring the full influence of your position to the matter which, if not resolved, will have catastrophic implications for the survival of koalas in our region.

“I am now writing to the Commissioner asking him to closely examine the plight of the Ballina koala community as a matter of urgency, and to do everything in his power to make the state government change the route of the upgrade,” Ms Smolski said.

Ballina’s Koalas Petition -  International Fund for Animal Welfare - IFAW 

Please help us save the Ballina 200. The Ballina 200 is a critical source population of 200 koalas at Ballina, NSW. It just happens to be right where the State government wants to re-route the Pacific Highway. This route would make this population extinct by 2030. Please download our petition, print it, have as many people sign it as possible and send it back to us here at IFAW at the address on the petition. We need your petitions back by 31 March.

Petitions at HERE

A koala settled in for a little nap. Photo: Friends of the Koala


Clean Up Australia Day 2015

SHOROC councils would like to thank all the volunteers who have helped clean up our local area over the last 25 years. This year is the 25th Clean Up Australia Day so join in and you help clean up our local beaches, lagoons, parks, bushland and sportsfields. Already almost 100 clean up sites have been registered  in the Manly, Mosman, Pittwater and Warringah council areas showing how keen and green our local residents are.

Last year an estimated 572,400 volunteers removed 15,700 tonnes of rubbish at 7,140 sites right across the country. You can join in:

Clean Up Australia Day – Sunday 1 March

Get involved by registering your own clean up site or volunteer at a site near you


Are you prepared for coastal storms?

Michael Hall from The Climate Institute will be presenting his photographic work at the Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) in the lead up to Earth Hour with a focus on coastal storm impacts. ‘The Story of Our Planet Unfolds’ is a pictorial display on how climate change is already impacting our planet. 

The severity of no action on climate change was highlighted in the Climate Council’s report released last year called Counting the Costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding, which found more than $226 billion worth of asset exposure along the Australian coastline for the 2100 climate change projections. An additonal report called The Impact of Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change on Surf Life Saving Services (2011) highlighted the specific vulnerability of SLSCs to climate change with the majority of Australia’s club houses located on sandy beaches which are particularly exposed to extreme weather events and sea level rise. 

Find out from the SES how you can prepare for the impacts of climate change on our coasts from increasing storm events. 

When: Tuesday 17 March, 7:30 – 9:30pm

Where: Avalon Beach SLSC – Club Room

RSVP by Friday 13 March to

 Parliamentary inquiry calls for halt to gas drilling in NSW

Lock The Gate Alliance -  February 25, 2015 

Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed the release today of the NSW parliamentary report into the supply and cost of gas, saying that the Parliamentary Committee has effectively called for a halt to CSG drilling in NSW.

The report recommends that no more CSG be contemplated in New South Wales until the Chief Scientist’s recommendations are fully implemented and that there be an audit of the regulatory tools available to the Government to improve transparency and openness in the gas market.

Contrary to industry scare campaigns, the Committee confirmed that recent gas price hikes have been caused by the CSG mining and export industry in Qld, and that no amount of CSG drilling in NSW will reduce prices.

Furthermore, they stated that is the industry that is responsible for supply and cost shocks and that “All governments must take action to ensure the interests of the wider community come first.”

Lock the Gate National Coordinator, Phil Laird, said, “The Government must take these recommendations to heart and act now to put the Gloucester and Narrabri projects on hold before any more damage is done."

“After waiting so long to hear the Chief Scientist’s recommendations, we cannot wait any longer for them to be implemented. The NSW Gas Plan is now in tatters, and must be completely re-written off the back of this report.

“We are calling for Mike Baird to immediately announce a completely new approach which puts CSG mining on hold in NSW.

“We support a COAG discussion and full and open transparency in the gas market.

“The pain that is being experienced by landholders, manufacturers and gas consumers is being caused by the greed and secrecy of the gas giants, and the national interest is suffering."

Select Committee on the Supply and Cost of Gas and Liquid Fuels in New South Wales Ordered to be printed 25 February 2015 according to Standing Order 231. Chair: The Hon. Robert Borsak MLC. At HERE  - PDF: 1.1MB

 Stop the Chop Code 10/50 NSW

Published on 26 Feb 2015


STOP THE CHOP is a community alliance formed to bring the 10/50 Code to a grinding halt. We want immediate withdrawal of the Code and repeal of the enabling legislation as soon as Parliament returns. We are supported by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the peak NSW environment group, and at many other wildlife, birding and environmental groups in NSW

Code 10/50 severely sets back urban tree protection and conservation measures fought for by the community over many decades and usurps an effective system of Council assessment and control already in place with cooperation and technical support being provided by the RFS.


Kevin Humphries MP Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Minister for Western NSW 

MEDIA RELEASE Friday 20 February 2015

Minister for Natural Resources, Lands & Water Kevin Humphries is encouraging managers of local parks and reserves, state parks, showgrounds and caravan parks to start preparing applications for funding under the next round of the Public Reserves Management Fund Program. 

Mr Humphries said the 2015/16 round of the PRMFP will open in early March 2015, delivering at least $15 million to improve public reserves across the State. 

“Public reserve managers from across the State will soon be invited to apply for grants and loans to assist them to develop, maintain and improve public reserves,” Mr Humphries said. 

“Public reserves are wonderful assets that are highly valued by local communities. In many cases their ongoing success is vital to local sport and social activities, as well as business and tourism in regional towns.

“The 2015/16 funding program differs from past years as it will be a single round, so it is very important for reserve managers to take note of the application dates when they are announced. 

“Crown reserve caravan parks, local parks and reserves, state parks and showgrounds on Crown land will be eligible for funding, along with freehold showgrounds and schools of arts. “It will be open to a wide range of activities including repairs and maintenance, pest and weed control, recreational infrastructure, environmental initiatives and other capital projects to improve the condition of Crown reserves. 

“Applicants seeking larger amounts, including grants or loans over $500,000, are also encouraged to apply.” 

Mr Humphries said the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has allocated more than $80 million to the PRMFP over the past four years. 

“The program’s success relies on the good work undertaken at a grassroots level by managers, reserve trusts and local communities, and the NSW Government will continue to ensure that our public reserves continue to be managed by and for the public,” Mr Humphries said. 

“The program is just one example of the NSW Government’s commitment to the cultural, sporting, economic and recreational life of communities across NSW.” 

Information on how to apply this year will be on the Crown Lands website at

 Great Barrier Reef corals eat plastic

February 24, 2015 - Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.

"Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater," says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

"If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic," Dr Hoogenboom says.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs.

Despite the proliferation of microplastics, their impact on marine ecosystems is poorly understood.

"Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and microplastics can have negative effects on the health of marine organisms," says Dr Hoogenboom.

"We aimed to determine whether corals from inshore coral reefs consume microplastics, and whether there is potential for plastic pollution to affect coral reefs."

As part of the study the researchers put corals collected from the Great Barrier Reef into plastic contaminated water.

After two nights they found that the corals had eaten plastic particles.

"Corals get energy from photosynthesis by symbiotic algae living within their tissues, but they also feed on a variety of other food including zooplankton, sediment and other microscopic organisms that live in seawater," says study lead author Nora Hall, a James Cook University Masters graduate.

"We found that the corals ate plastic at rates only slightly lower than their normal rate of feeding on marine plankton," she says.

The plastic was found deep inside the coral polyp wrapped in digestive tissue, raising concerns that it might impede the corals ability to digest its normal food.

The team also sampled the waters adjacent to inshore coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef.

"During this testing we found microplastics, including polystyrene and polyethylene, although only in small amounts," says study co-author, Kathryn Berry, a PhD student at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

The researchers say the next step is to determine the impact plastic has on coral physiology and health, as well as its impact on other marine organisms.

"We are also investigating whether fish on coral reefs eat plastics, and whether plastic consumption influences fish growth and survival." Dr Hoogenboom says.

1. N. M. Hall, K. L. E. Berry, L. Rintoul, M. O. Hoogenboom. Microplastic ingestion by scleractinian corals. Marine Biology, 2015; 162 (3): 725 DOI: 10.1007/s00227-015-2619-7

These are corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Mia Hoogenboom

 Parks Week 2015 – Watery Events in Pittwater and Surrounds: Connect With Nature

Visit a national park and connect with nature during Parks Week 2015. Held from Monday 9 March to Sunday 15 March 2015, this annual celebration highlights the important role that our parks play in local communities and the natural environment.

Over 35 great tours and events will be held in NSW national parks, on the theme ‘connect with nature’. Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve, the oldest nature reserve in Australia, will celebrate its 150th anniversary with apublic festival showcasing the local environment. There will be entertainment, exclusive cave tours, and overnight camping packages are available so you can stay the weekend.

Activities across NSW include Aboriginal Discovery programs, ranger talks, wilderness walks, native tree plantings and WilderQuest tours for kids. You can take a surfing lesson or a guided kayak tour in pristine waters, explore lush rainforest on a mountain biking or 4WD adventure, or spot native wildlife on a sunset hike.

Enjoy one of the many tours that will be offered at a discounted rate, or choose from a range of free activities specially planned for the whole family. You can also visit new areas of national parks that are usually restricted to the public for conservation purposes.

Parks Week 2015 has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust and the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, and is supported by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Parks Eco Pass operators.

Pittwater kayak tours

Where: Ku-ring-gai Chase Nat. Park

When: Saturday 14 March 2015, 6am to 8am, 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm

Join Pittwater Kayak Tours on a kayaking adventure, paddling past the majestic sandstone cliffs of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney. Medium. Suitable for children aged 5-12 years, and they must be accompanied by an adult. Adults up to 60 years and over, with a medium level of fitness.

Price: $40 per person. Not wheelchair accessible.

Bookings: Bookings required. Phone 0412 057 176 or emailPittwater Kayak Tours.  

Basin campground stand up paddle board safari

Where: The Basin campground in Ku-ring-gai Chase Nat. ParkSaturday 14 March 2015, 11am to 12.30pm and Sunday 15 March 2015, 11am to 12.30pm

Discover the natural treasures of The Basin in Sydney's Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on this unique stand up paddle boarding experience during Parks Week

Parks Week promotional offer: Book for 3 people and the 4th person comes free. Adult $50 per person. Child $45 per person. 90 minute experience. Bookings required. 

Phone 0415 121 648 and mention 'Parks Week' to receive this special offer.  

Contact: EcoTreasures, 0415 121 648

Ku-ring-gai Gibberagong Creek kayak tour

Where: Ku-ring-gai Chase Nat. Park 

When: Monday 9 March, Saturday 14 March and Sunday 15 March 2015. Tours operate 10am-12.30pm and 2pm-4.30pm on each day.

Get back to nature in Sydney's Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park with this discounted kayak tour offer for Parks Week. Bookings required.Email Southern Cross Kayaking  or contact 0439 936 480. Quote 'Parks Week' to receive the discount.  

Marramarra Creek bushcare camp

Join NPWS on a special Parks Week volunteering weekend, and help restore the habitat of native Australian plants along the Hawkesbury River

During Parks Week, NSW National Parks is hosting an overnight bushcare camp at Marramarra National Park. On day 1, we’ll make our way in an NPWS car convoy to the start of the Marramarra Ridge trail, and take a guided Discovery walk to Marramarra Creek. Enjoy a rest and bite to eat before heading a little downstream to our weeding site, where we’ll target scattered lantana and wild tobacco. After setting up camp at Marramarra Creek campground, volunteers will have plenty of leisure time to explore the creek and a enjoy a spotlight walk. On day 2, we’ll get busy with a little more bush regeneration before walking back to Fiddletown.

The Marramarra Creek bushcare camp takes place over 2 days. Volunteers meet at Fiddletown, to transfer overnight equipment to an NPWS convoy car before a guided walk to Marramarra Creek. Bush generation tools, on-site training and catering are all provided.

When: Saturday 14 March 2015 at 9am to Sunday 15 March 2015 at 4pm

Where: Marramarra National Park. See getting there information.

Presented by: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

Grading: Medium. Suitable for adults.

Price: Free. Not wheelchair-accessible.

Bookings: Bookings required. Please phone 0419 753 798 or emailTegan Burton to reserve your spot.  

See more events for Parks Week 2015 at HERE

 Getting bottles and cans out of our streets, beaches and waterways

22nd February 2015 – Media release

NSW Premier Mike Baird has announced a re-elected Baird Government will introduce reverse vending machines across the state as part of a cost-effective container deposit scheme for the recycling of drink containers.

Mr Baird and Environment Minister Rob Stokes today announced the decision at Coogee beach and said the government will engage in comprehensive community consultation on the design of the scheme and the incentive structure for communities to participate.

By 1 July 2017, communities will be rewarded for their recycling efforts through the use of reverse vending machines at popular beaches, parks, and public spaces across NSW.

The Baird Government’s preferred model is a cost-effective scheme in which consumers, or a charity of their choice, receive a small financial reward for depositing a drink container in a reverse vending machine; but we are open to better alternatives.

“We want to help communities look after their local environment by being better equipped to tackle litter and increase recycling,” Mr Baird said.

“We estimate that at least 800 reverse vending machines will be installed across NSW – offering communities the opportunity to be rewarded for contributing to positive environmental outcomes in the places where they are most needed.”

Mr Stokes said the government has decided that a state-based scheme, using reverse vending machines and targeting containers that are predominantly consumed away-from-home, will be both cost efficient and effective.

“Beverage containers currently account for one in every three pieces of litter, polluting our beaches, parks and waterways,” Mr Stokes said.

“Our container deposit scheme will complement, rather than compete with, our existing kerbside recycling system and help the government achievement our ambitious litter reduction and recycling targets.

“Over the next 12 months we will consult with the community and industry on how we will implement a scheme, which will be underpinned by a comprehensive cost benefit analysis.

“The final design of the container deposit scheme will be announced in 2016, and will include the use of reverse vending machines and an incentive for the community to participate.”

The consultation with the community and industry will focus on:

The location of reverse vending machines;

The incentive for community participation;

The scope of containers to be redeemable under the scheme; and

The involvement of local government and the recycling industry in the scheme.

Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith said this announcement was a great day for communities across NSW who have campaigned for a container deposit scheme.

“The cost to the community of littering goes beyond visual pollution. Greater respect for neighbourhoods by disposing of rubbish properly helps to protect our local natural environment and limits health impacts for people and sea life,” Mr Notley-Smith said.

“I’m proud to be part of a government that has listened to strong community concerns about litter and will introduce a container deposit scheme in just over two years.

“Under Mike Baird’s leadership we have the ambitious goal of having the lowest litter rate in the nation and a container deposit scheme will be a crucial element in achieving that goal.”

 Artesian Water Is Aid to Progress And Prosperity Of Moree. Australian Colour Diary 8

Published on 24 Feb 2015 by NFSA

From The Film Australia Collection. Made by the National Film Board 1958. Directed by Jack S Allan. Moree in western New South Wales, is the centre of a rich pastoral and agricultural district. The key to its success is water - artesian and sub-artesian. This film looks at how the area’s cattle, linseed and wheat production industries profit from this water source as well as the social amenities and benefits it brings.

 Panel to review governance of Australian energy markets

Media Release: 25 February 2015 - The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP – Minister for Industry and Science

The Australian Government is continuing to drive reforms in the energy sector with a focus on ensuring the energy framework and institutions are relevant to both households and businesses.

Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said an expert panel will review national energy market governance arrangements to make sure they reflect the changing market.

“The way Australians use energy continues to evolve, and it’s no longer a case of one-size-fits all,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Australia has diverse and extensive energy assets. Our energy wealth and our reliable, efficient and competitive energy system are among our chief competitive advantages because they drive our local economy.

“It’s important that we make full use of our energy assets, so that Australian consumers reap the benefits and to cement our growing role as a global energy superpower.

“In recent years there have been significant changes to the national energy market, including as a result of advances in technology such as computerised electricity trading, a growing renewable sector and a quickly expanding gas market.

“While the market has proved itself highly resilient, the importance of good governance remains even more critical in a world of higher energy prices, of changing ownership structures and of new technologies like photovoltaic solar systems, electric vehicles and smart meters.

“Dr Michael Vertigan AC will chair the panel, and will be joined by members Mr Euan Morton and Professor George Yarrow.

“The panel will complete the review according to the Terms of Reference agreed to by the COAG Energy Council.

An Issues Paper, to be released in April, will be followed by a broad public consultation process. A draft report will then be released in July for further consultation. The final report is due to be submitted to the COAG Energy Council in September 2015.

More information on the review including the Terms of Reference is available on the COAG Energy Council website at

Australia’s record of reform includes:

• The formation of the COAG Energy Council which has policy oversight for energy markets;

• the establishment of the Australian Energy Market Commission as an independent statutory rule maker and market development body to which anyone can propose rule changes to meet new circumstances

• the establishment of the Australian Energy Regulator to provide consistent national regulation for energy networks, and

• the establishment of the Australian Energy Market Operator to maintain the stable operation of wholesale markets and transmission systems.

 Keep calm, anger can trigger a heart attack!

24 February 2015

University of Sydney research reveals that the risk of a heart attack is 8.5 times higher in the two hours following a burst of intense anger.

Published today in European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, this is the first Australian study to investigate the link between acute emotional triggers and high risk of severe cardiac episodes.

"Our findings confirm what has been suggested in prior studies and anecdotal evidence, even in films - that episodes of intense anger can act as a trigger for a heart attack," said lead author Dr Thomas Buckley, Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney, and researcher at Royal North Shore Hospital.

"The data shows that the higher risk of a heart attack isn't necessarily just while you're angry - it lasts for two hours after the outburst.

In the study, 'anger' was qualified as 5 and above on a 1-7 scale, referring to 'very angry, body tense, clenching fists or teeth, ready to burst', up to 'enraged, out of control, throwing objects'. Anger below this level was not associated with increased risk.

"The triggers for these burst of intense anger were associated with arguments with family members (29 per cent), argument with others (42 per cent), work anger (14 per cent) and driving anger (14 per cent)," said Dr Buckley.

"The data also revealed that episodes of anxiety can also make you more likely to have heart attack.

"High levels of anxiety were associated with a 9.5 fold increased risk of triggering a heart attack in the two hours after the anxiety episode.

"Increased risk following intense anger or anxiety is most likely due to increased heart rate, blood pressure, tightening of blood vessels and increased clotting, all associated with triggering heart attacks," he said.

The study was an investigation of consecutive patients suspected of heart attack and confirmed by angiography reports at Royal North Shore hospital. Patients confirmed with acute coronary blockage were admitted, interviewed about their activities in the 48 hours before the onset of symptoms, and usual frequencies of activities were recorded for comparison.

"Although the incidence of anger-triggered heart attacks is around 2%, of the sample, those people were 8.5 times more likely to have a heart attack within two hours of the emotional episode. So while the absolute risk of any one episode triggering a heart attack is low, this data demonstrates that the danger is very present.

"Our findings highlight the need to consider strategies to protect individuals most at risk during times of acute anger.

Senior author Professor Geoffrey Tofler, Preventive Cardiology, University of Sydney said "Potential preventive approaches may be stress reduction training to reduce the frequency and intensity of episodes of anger, or avoiding activities that usually prompt such intense reactions, for instance, avoiding an angry confrontation or activity that provokes intense anxiety.

"Additionally, improving general health by minimising other risk factors, such as hypertension, high cholesterol or smoking would also lower risk.

"For those at high risk, it is possible that medication such as beta-blockers and aspirin taken at the time of a trigger may interrupt the link between the stressor and the heart attack. We are currently recruiting subjects for a study examining this option.

"Our research suggests that when managing a person with heart disease or in preventing heart disease in others, a person's frequency of anger and anxiety should also be assessed and be part of helping individuals to take care of themselves.

"Our message to people is they need to be aware that a burst of severe anger or anxiety could lead to a coronary event, so consider preventative strategies where possible," Dr Tofler said.

Study: Triggering of acute coronary occlusion by episodes of anger

Fast facts:

- Each year around 56,000 Australians suffer a heart attack.

- This equates to around 153 heart attacks a day, or one heart attack every 9 minutes.

- Each year, almost 9,300 Australians die of heart attack.

- One in four people who die from a heart attack die within the first hour of their first symptom.

 Sensor-packed smartphones can read your mood, guard your data, and wreak havoc in the wrong hands

February 24, 2015 - Smartphones can already do pretty much everything, right? Actually, UAB computer scientists have a few more ideas. They're tapping into the accelerometers, proximity sensors and other environment-aware chips packed into modern phones to help users stay safe -- and keep ahead of the bad guys.

Here are seven innovations that could be coming soon to your favorite device.

1. Watching your back

Most of us are very protective of our phones. Ragib Hasan, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences Department of Computer and Information Sciences and director of SECRETLab, wants them to return the favor. He is developing software to turn a phone into a digital wingman, using information from its camera, microphone, accelerometer and other sensors to gauge a user's attentiveness and respond appropriately. When it detects that a person is driving, for example, it could silence all but the most important alerts. If it decides from the way that you're walking and talking that you are drunk, it could prevent you from making bank transactions. Hasan's code will also save important security warnings for times when you are alert, rather than groggy from sleep.

The project builds on a study by Munirul Haque, Ph.D., who recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Hasan's lab, and collaborators at Marquette University. The researchers found that a phone can do a remarkably good job at sensing mood. They parsed camera images to read facial expressions and accelerometer data to judge energy expenditure (anxious people tend to pace; inactivity is often a signal of depression). Their system was able to recognize six different "affective states": anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.

2. Learning your style

You may be only one of millions of people with an iPhone, but the way you hold your phone -- and take pictures and send text messages -- may be unique. Nitesh Saxena, Ph.D., an associate professor in the CIS department and director of the SPIES lab, is a pioneer in "behavioral biometrics" security research. He's pulling together data from accelerometers, gyroscopes and proximity sensors to chart the characteristic gestures a user makes when answering a call or snapping a selfie. Once his software learns your moves, it could unlock your phone automatically -- and freeze when it detects that it is in the wrong hands. A system that taps into user interactions with multiple connected devices, such as Google Glass or the new Apple Watch, would be even more secure, Saxena says.

3. Replacing your password

Newer phones can measure temperature, humidity -- even barometric pressure. A combination of these readings could offer a secure way to log in to your computer and make passwords obsolete, according to research in Saxena's SPIES lab. "Zero-interaction" authentication systems operate much like the keyless entry and starting systems on some cars -- they rely on Bluetooth or other signals from a smartphone to grant a user access. But existing systems, such as the publicly available app BlueProximity, are vulnerable to relay attacks. A team of criminals -- one close to the user, the other near his or her computer -- can relay/eavesdrop on the verification process and defeat the system, Saxena says. His team has found that combining readings from multiple sensors, including GPS, audio, temperature and altitude, can thwart relay attacks. They have developed an Android-based app, called BlueProximity++, that uses these readings to instantly -- and securely -- unlock laptops and other devices as soon as the user's phone gets within range. This is a joint work with a team of researchers at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University in Finland.

4. Tracing your steps -- without sacrificing your privacy

The GPS sensors found in most smartphones are a great way to track location history -- where a person has been and when. That information could be a big help for people in many professions, including salespeople and insurance adjustors. But central tracking is unpopular with employees, and relying on an individual's own logs is equally problematic. All it takes to game the system is a $10 device that can alter GPS readings. Hasan's team has developed a middle way between these alternatives. Known as WORAL, or Witness Oriented Asserted Location Provenance, it relies on inexpensive WiFi routers and strong encryption methods that enable a user to check in at a designated location on the WORAL app and store that information securely on his or her own phone. That check-in is validated automatically by another WORAL user who is present in the same location, creating a collusion-resistant proof that the person actually was where he or she said she was. The technology, which was funded by a $583,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security, could also be used to track products through a supply chain, Hasan notes. His team is now developing WORAL as a commercial product.

5. Protecting your payments

Apple Pay, Google Wallet and a host of competing mobile payment systems rely on near-field communications (NFC) technology, which is built into many Android phones and the latest version of Apple's iPhone. With NFC chips, users can make payments by tapping their phones against a reader at retail stores. The trouble is, NFC is vulnerable to "ghost and reader" attacks (a form of relay attack), where a criminal intercepts a user's credentials at one location and transmits them to a confederate waiting to make a purchase at another location. When an unsuspecting customer buys a burger at a restaurant, for example, the confederate may use the credentials to make a simultaneous purchase at a jewelry store. But Saxena's team has developed a countermeasure to verify that the payment request is actually coming from a user in the same location as the reader. Their system uses signals from a combination of sensors, including lists of nearby WiFi hotspots and their signal strengths, and short audio snippets captured by the phone's microphone. The NFC reader compares notes with the phone -- if the signals match, the payment is authorized.

6. Guarding your digits

Criminals have come up with plenty of ways to steal PINs from unsuspecting ATM users. The latest high-tech wrinkle, according to Hasan, involves heat-sensing cameras. Criminals read the buttons a customer has pressed immediately after he or she has walked away. Hasan's SECRETLab is devising a new way to beat the "shoulder surfing" problem: generating an extra set of randomized numbers that surround an accountholder's real PIN. All the customer would have to do is use his or her phone to snap a picture of a QR code that appears on the ATM screen. It would return a list of numbers, with spaces left blank for the actual PIN: 64_51_90_19_, for instance. The random numbers would change each time a customer uses an ATM, so even if criminals managed to get that password, they wouldn't be able to access the account. Banks could implement the system with minimal investment, Hasan adds; it would require only a simple software update and no new hardware.

7. Sensing danger

There's potential trouble in all these high-tech sensors, however. Researchers from the SPIES and SECRET labs found that they could hijack smartphone sensors to trigger previously implanted malicious code. Using messages hidden in music, videos, magnetic fields and vibrations, the researchers were able to take control of devices from as far as 55 feet away. These "context-aware" attacks could be used to create mass chaos by setting off alarms or even interfere with an aircraft's communications during landing. And such schemes would be "very hard to detect and even harder to prevent" with current security measures, the researchers say. They are now working on novel methods to block such attacks.

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. A smart phone that detects that a person is driving could silence all but the most important alerts.  Credit: Image courtesy of University of Alabama at Birmingham


Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.


25 February, 2015

Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb expects nominations for the 2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science to reflect the passion of all those involved in science, teaching, research and innovation.

“I am often inspired by the dedicated persistence of those who see a brighter future for Australia through science. We are proud of our researchers and teachers and we know they are passionate about their work. We want to know about it. We need them, or their colleagues or friends, to tell us why what they do is important,” said Professor Chubb, who is also Chairman of the Prizes Committee.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are highly regarded awards for excellence in science and science teaching. A new prize for the Commercial Application of Science will be awarded this year.

“I am pleased to see a new prize category which promotes research entrepreneurs as national role models. Recognising our trailblazers is an important part of building an entrepreneurial culture.

“The other categories recognise important work at various stages of the supply line – the teaching of science, early to mid-career research in the life and physical sciences and significant work contributing to a better world.”

Nominations are now open for the prizes to be awarded in 2015:

• The Prime Minister’s Prize for Science recognises a significant advancement of knowledge through science.

• The Prime Minister’s Prize for the Commercial Application of Science is awarded for the translation of science knowledge into a substantial commercial impact.

• The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year and theMalcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Yearacknowledge the work of our best early to mid-career scientists.

• The Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools recognise excellence in science teaching.

For further details visit:

 The numbers are in: As many as two in three smokers will die from their habit, Australian study concludes

February 24, 2015 – A large Australian study of more than 200,000 people has provided independent confirmation that up to two in every three smokers will die from their habit if they continue to smoke.

The research, published in the international journalBMC Medicine, is the first evidence from a broad cross-section of the population to show the smoking-related death toll is as high as two thirds.

"We knew smoking was bad but we now have direct independent evidence that confirms the disturbing findings that have been emerging internationally, said lead author Professor Emily Banks, Scientific Director of the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study and a researcher at the Australian National University.

"Even with the very low rates of smoking that we have in Australia we found that smokers have around three-fold the risk of premature death of those who have never smoked. We also found smokers will die an estimated 10 years earlier than non-smokers."

Until relatively recently it was thought that about half of smokers would die of a smoking-related illness, but newer studies in UK women, British doctors and Amercian Cancer Society volunteers have put the figure much higher, at up to 67%.

"We have been able to show exactly the same result in a very large population-wide sample," Professor Banks said.

The research is the result of a four-year analysis of health outcomes from more than 200,000 men and women participating in the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study ? the largest longitudinal study of healthy aging in the Southern Hemisphere.

Australia has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world -- at 13% of the population ? and is an international leader on plain cigarette packaging. "But our findings are an important reminder that the war on tobacco is not yet won, and tobacco control efforts must go on," Professor Banks said.

The research was supported by the National Heart Foundation of Australia in collaboration with major 45 and Up Study partner Cancer Council NSW and was conducted by a national and international team. It also found that compared with non-smokers, smoking just 10 cigarettes a day doubles the risk of dying and smoking a pack a day increases the risk four- to five-fold.

The NSW Heart Foundation's CEO, Kerry Doyle, said the Australian Government was on the right path in driving down smoking rates through initiatives like tax increases and plain packaging.

"Higher tobacco prices have been shown to be the most effective intervention available to governments to reduce demand for tobacco. With smoking being a major cause of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease the more deterrents people have between them and smoking, the better," Ms Doyle said.

Scott Walsberger, Tobacco Control Manager at Cancer Council NSW, said the research results highlighted an important message for smokers: "It's never too late to quit ? no matter what your age, or how much you smoke."

1. Emily Banks, Grace Joshy, Marianne F Weber, Bette Liu, Robert Grenfell, Sam Egger, Ellie Paige, Alan D Lopez, Freddy Sitas, Valerie Beral. Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. BMC Medicine, 2015; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12916-015-0281-z

 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill Introduced

Wednesday, 25 February 2015:Media release

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has announced that the Government has today introduced a bill to extend the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 for three years,until 28 March 2018.

The original Act expires at the end of this month.

The Act recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of Australia, and records the Australian Parliament’s commitment to work toward a referendum on Indigenous constitutional recognition.

Constitutional recognition in our democracy’s founding document would be a watershed moment as it would acknowledge the incredible contribution Indigenous Australians have made to this nation over many centuries and unify the nation.

A referendum will be held as soon as possible, to ensure that Parliament’s formal recognition of the first Australians continues.

The Prime Minister has said he hopes to see a successful referendum held on or before 27 May 2017, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum which ensured Indigenous Australians were counted as full citizens and gave the Federal Government responsibility for Indigenous Affairs.

The Government is committed to fixing the Australian Constitution, so that it acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as the first peoples of this great nation.

 Final report of McClure Review into Australia’s Welfare System Released

25 February 2015: Media Release

Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison has today released the final report of the McClure Review of Australia’s Welfare System - A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes.

“I am pleased to release the final report of the McClure Review of Australia’s Welfare System. This report points to the need for a simpler welfare system that focuses on supporting getting people into work, helping those who need our assistance most while respecting the taxpayers who have to pay for it,” Minister Morrison said.

“The review was commissioned in late 2013 by then Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Kevin Andrews to examine how the welfare system could provide incentives to work, support those who are genuinely not able to work, support social and economic participation, be affordable and sustainable, easy to access and understand, and able to be delivered efficiently and effectively.

“This report, which was led by Patrick McClure AO, provides a comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations on simplification of Australia’s welfare system.

“Of the 10.1 million Australian income tax payers 8 million pay that tax so that we can fund the $150 billion welfare bill this country carries. If Australia keeps going this way, it will inevitably reach 10 out of 10 income tax payers. It is important we get that the funds we are committing to welfare payments and the system that facilitates those payments ensures that we get this support to those who need it and we respect those who have to pay for it.

“Above all, the government’s focus is to acknowledge those who need our help while respecting those who pay for it.

“One of the key recommendations is a major redesign of Australia’s welfare payment structure to address the costly, confusing and inequitable elements of our current system.

“This is a worthy goal and provides a positive vision of how our welfare system could work more effectively in the future.

“I look forward to the conversation and feedback that this and the many other proposals in the report will generate.

“There are currently around 20 different income support payments and 55 supplementary payments, which the report recommends reducing to five: Tiered Working Age Payment, Supported Living Pension, Child and Youth Payment, Carer Payment and the Age Pension.

“It suggests that each of the recommended payment types better reflects people’s circumstances, covers basic costs of living and supports those seeking employment.

“The report also examines how the system could better support people to find work, including initiatives that increase workforce participation for disadvantaged people to ensure all Australians gain the benefits of employment growth.

“The Government will consider the report’s recommendations and will make further decisions on these commencing with the 2015-16 Budget, and as part of a longer term vision of Australia’s welfare system.

“I thank Mr McClure and the other Reference Group members, Mr Wesley Aird and Ms Sally Sinclair, for their important work on the report. Its completion is the culmination of many months of hard work by the Reference Group, and includes input from an extensive consultation process” Minister Morrison said.

The review report will be available at

 Acute use of cannabinoids depresses motor neuron activity

February 23, 2015 - New research could explain the acute lack of coordination and difficulty speaking and breathing experienced by some people who use cannabis.

Why do some habitual marijuana users have difficulties speaking, breathing or swallowing food? Is it true that people who use this substance may suffer acute lack of motor coordination? Does the use of cannabis cause muscular weakness? These questions have been addressed by researchers of the NeuroDegeneration and NeuroRepair Group of the University of Cadiz, directed by professor Bernardo Moreno, and who recently published a study related to this topic in the journal Neuropharmacology.

This study reveals that synthetic analogues of the psychoactive compounds of marijuana significantly reduce the activity of motor neurons. To fully understand the importance of this discovery, it is necessary to bear in mind that up until now there were no studies focusing on this subject. All the work known to date related to cannabis and its effects had been based on the psychomotor mechanisms (the higher central nervous system) and there was no study focused on describing the direct impact of cannabinoids on the neurons that control the muscles, that is, the motor neurons. Therefore, at the University of Cadiz it was decided to work on this topic using the motor hypoglossal nucleus (that controls the movements of the tongue) as a model, given that "the tongue is an important muscle used in respiratory phenomena, in speech, it is necessary to swallow food, i.e., it has many functions that in cannabis users, appear to be disrupted," explains professor Bernardo Moreno.

Thus, "during the investigation, we used an animal model in which we studied the alterations produced by synthetic cannabinoids on the activity of the motor neurons of the hypoglossal nucleus. In doing so, we discovered that these psychoactive compounds inhibit the information that reaches these neurons via the synapses (structures specialized in the communication of information between neurons). In other words, cannabinoids hinder the transmission of information between neurons." A consequence of this fact is, for example, that muscular weakness is produced as "the motor neuron, that is the one that gives the order to the muscle to contract, sees its activity reduced which, as a consequence, would weaken the strength of the muscle contraction," as doctor Moreno points out. All of this could lead to problems speaking, breathing and even swallowing food.

Nevertheless, this action mechanism could also explain the beneficial therapeutic effects that marijuana has on motor disturbances in people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis for example, given that "in pathological processes associated with muscular hyperactivity phenomena, the reduction in motor neuron activity induced by cannabis could lead to a symptomatological improvement."

This study, carried out as a consequence of the studies on synaptic mechanisms performed by this group at the University of Cadiz, opens a new avenue of research for the scientific community. In spite of this, "our work will be steered towards other territories. At this time we are in the middle of a study focusing on the effects of cannabinoids as possible mediators of synaptic plasticity (phenomenon involved in motor learning), although it must be made clear that these compounds are not the central theme of the work of our research group," concludes Bernardo Moreno.

In order to carry out this study, the work of the researchers of the UCA, Victoria García Morales (pre-doctoral scholarship holder at the UCA) and Fernando Montero (postdoctoral contract from the Junta de Andalucía) has been fundamental and, directed by professor Bernardo Moreno, they have carried out all the experimental stages. Equally, we must mention that this discovery has been made thanks to the funding of two research projects, one by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, now the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and the other by the Junta de Andalucía.

Victoria García-Morales, Fernando Montero, Bernardo Moreno-López. Cannabinoid agonists rearrange synaptic vesicles at excitatory synapses and depress motoneuron activity in vivo.Neuropharmacology, 2015; 92: 69 DOI:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2014.12.036

 The University of Sydney receives $1.4m sculpture gift

24 February 2015

The University of Sydney has received a significant sculpture gift valued at $1.4 million created by Andrew Rogers- one of Australia's most recognised contemporary artists today.

Rogers' generous donation of his sculpture work 'Individuals', first exhibited in New York in 2013, is the most significant gift of sculpture by a living artist in Australia.

Located today outside the new Faculty of Law building at the University of Sydney's Camperdown campus, the sculptural installation has been presented by the Australian artist to the University through the Federal Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

University of Sydney's Vice Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, said: "This is an extraordinary gift to the University. It takes a visionary artist to understand and appreciate the intersection between art and academic endeavour. 'Individuals' is doing more than enhancing the beauty of our campus; it acts as a driver of deeper thinking and reflection for our students and staff."

'Individuals' was first exhibited by Rogers at the gateway to the United Nations in New York City, in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. It was unveiled by Sir James Wolfensohn, the ninth President of the World Bank, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Hall, and alumnus of the University of Sydney Law School. At the time, it was one of the largest installations of bronze cast forms to be installed in New York.

Andrew Rogers said: "'Individuals' is a metaphor for the inseparable relationship between singularity and community. We are all individuals possessing the sanctity of a singular life and the ability to express ourselves. At the same time we are part of the society within which we live.

"With the lack of respect for the sanctity of individual life that we see around the world today, the message of the sculpture is significant and well placed outside the Law Faculty of a leading university."

Comprising 15 sculptures of varying heights up to 3.5 metres, each bronze cast form is similar yet different, as we are as individuals; each one balanced on a tightly curled base that unfurls as it extends upwards and outward in a continuously undulating spiral movement.

Chris Fox, a sculptor and lecturer in Art and Architecture at the University of Sydney, remarked: "The repeated unfurling bronze forms are dynamic and seductive in materiality, and allow for a connection between ground plane and the Law building behind. Temporary and permanent art projects throughout the university are vital in building a connection to site for the students, staff and visitors."

Melbourne-based Rogers has an international following with over 300 sculptures found in plazas and buildings around the world. Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, former Mexican President Vincente Fox and the late Nazi hunter and holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal have commissioned his work.

One of Rogers' monumental projects is his ongoing land art series 'Rhythms of Life' that he began in 1998. Billed as the largest contemporary land art undertaking in history, it comprises 51 massive stone structures in 16 countries across seven continents and has involved over 7,500 people.

'Individuals' exhibition history

'Individuals' comprises 15 bronze forms abating in height from 3.5m to 1m. Elements of 'Individuals' have been previously exhibited within Australia and overseas:- The Rassenga Internationale Di Scultura Di Roma in Italy where the 3.1 metre high edition was exhibited at the Casina Valadier in the Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome; 1.5 metre edition was exhibited at Scope Basel; a triptych of the 1.5 metre editions titled 'We Are' was a finalist and exhibited in the 2012 Wynne Exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

'Individuals' derives from Rogers' sculpture 'I Am', which is located in prominent public and private collections around the world including: Canberra National Airport, Australia, 7.5m; Montreal, Canada, 3.5m; Borusan Contemporary Art Museum, Istanbul, Turkey, 3.1m; The Tower, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 3.3m; National Foods Headquarters, Melbourne, Australia, 2.9m, 2.7m and 1.6m; and Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria, Australia, 2.7m