Inbox and Environment News - Issue 208 

 March 29 - April 4, 2015: Issue 208

 Scrapping the Native Vegetation Act would be a black day for nature in NSW

26 March, 2015: Nature Conservation Council NSW

Conservation groups are appalled by the Coalition’s announcement today that it will seek to repeal the Native Vegetation Act if returned to government this Saturday.

“This is a black day for the state’s threatened wildlife and fragile soils,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said. “The Native Vegetation Act is among the most important nature conservation laws in NSW because it protects so much of the state’s wildlife like koalas and gliders from indiscriminate destruction. If new laws weaken protections for land and wildlife, Mike Baird will be remembered as the Premier who took us back to the dark days of broadscale land clearing.”

WWF National Manager of Science Policy and Government Partnerships Paul Toni said: “This law prevents uncontrolled land clearing, and has been credited with saving the lives of more than 250,000 native animals in its first five years of operation. [1] At the same time as the government is establishing a $100 million survival fund to stop a ‘race to extinction’, it is re-igniting the single biggest threat to native species – the broadscale clearing of native vegetation. The decision also risks wasting the $600 million plus that has been spent to protect native vegetation since 1997.”

Total Environment Centre Executive Director Jeff Angel said: “By leaving it so late in the campaign to announce this major policy shift, the Coalition cannot legitimately claim an electoral mandate for trashing the state’s most important nature conservation laws. The Coalition proposes the most significant overhaul of the state’s conservation laws in more than a generation, so the community requires time to understand the full implications of scrapping these laws. Detail proposals should be presented to the people so they can vote on them at the 2019 election.”

Nationals Leader Troy Grant and Environment Minister Rob Stokes announced today the Coalition would implement all the recommendations of the Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel [2], including: 

• Repealing the Native Vegetation Act 2003;

• Removing the requirement that land clearing only be allowed if it improves or maintains environmental outcomes;

• Placing greater reliance on biodiversity offsets; and

• Shifting approval for vegetation clearing to the planning system.

NSW National Parks Association CEO Kevin Evans said: “There is widespread concern within the environment movement about the Coalition’s plans to draft new conservation laws to replace the Native Vegetation Act, the Threatened Species Conservation Act, and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act. The Coalition’s has had a poor record on nature conservation over the past four years, so the community has little faith that protections will be maintained or improved in the new law.”

Humane Society International Campaign Director Michael Kennedy said: “The Coalition partners have been highly susceptible to pressure from developers and extreme elements in the farming community. We are concerned these elements will use their influence during the drafting of new laws to further unwind protections the community has fought decades to achieve.”

The Wilderness Society Acting NSW Campaign Manager Charlotte Richardson said: “Scrapping the Native Vegetation Act would undermine the $100 million commitment to threatened species recovery that Environment Minister Rob Stokes announced during the election campaign. The Native Vegetation Act was implemented in 2005 after a sustained campaign by The Wilderness Society and other conservation organisations, and since the law was introduced land clearing has declined by about 60 per cent a year. With almost 1000 plants and animals threatened with extinction in NSW, we cannot afford to go backwards on environmental protection.”





Humane Society International | Campaign Director Michael Kennedy | 

NSW National Parks Association | CEO Kevin Evans | 

NSW Nature Conservation Council  | CEO Kate Smolski  | 

The Wilderness Society | Acting NSW Campaign Manager Charlotte Richardson | 

Total Environment Centre | Executive Director Jeff Angel | 

WWF Australia | National Manager of Science Policy and Government Partnerships Paul Toni |


Documents pertaining to

Report A review of biodiversity legislation in NSW(1.5 MB - PDF)

 Blue Star Sustainability Awards - Keep NSW Beautiful

March 27th, 2015

Calling all people dedicated to our environmental future - Our Blue Star Sustainability Awards are now open! These annual awards aim to reward both individuals and group projects in NSW which are committed to promoting responsible environmental practices in their local areas. There are 10 different award categories, each with a regional and metropolitan winner. To enter, all you have to do is submit a short form online - it couldn't be easier!

Entries close on Wednesday the 20th of May 2015, so if this sounds like you, someone you know, or a project currently underway in your local area, head to our page and get entering! See:

 Independent report brings together knowledge on dredging and disposal

Published: 25/03/2015

An independent compilation of knowledge about the effects of dredging and sediment disposal on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has found the impacts will differ, depending on the location, timing, size and type of dredging and disposal activity.

The Dredge Synthesis Report was produced by a 19-member panel of experts, brought together through a joint initiative of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

The technical and scientific experts — with a range of skills from oceanographic modelling to coral ecology — were asked to review and synthesise existing studies and data on the biophysical effects of dredging and disposal, while also identifying key knowledge gaps.

The outcome is an overview of the potential impacts of dredging and disposal on habitats such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows, and on fish and species of conservation concern such as dugong or marine turtles.

Among its key findings, the panel concluded:

• In terms of direct effects, dredging and burial of seafloor habitats during disposal can have substantial impacts at a local level, but have only a small impact on the broader Great Barrier Reef and its biodiversity as a whole.

• In terms of indirect effects, sediments released by dredging and disposal have the potential to stay suspended in the water and move. This may be contributing significantly to the long-term chronic increase in fine suspended sediments in inshore areas, however there wasn’t consensus among the panelists on the extent to which this happens and its impact on biodiversity.

• Dredging and disposal may be a significant source of fine sediments in the World Heritage Area, in addition to other sources, such as land run-off. A general comparison shows past large dredging projects produced amounts of fine sediment similar in magnitude to natural loads coming from land run-off in the same region.

• The recent policy commitments to ban disposal of capital dredge material in marine environments will mean future disposal, which will be limited to maintenance dredging, will contribute much less fine sediment. This reduced amount will still need to be considered in the context of other cumulative impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

Project leader Dr Laurence McCook said the report acknowledged the challenges in assessing effects.

“Understanding the significance of dredging impacts compared to other natural and human pressures remains difficult,” Dr McCook said.

“For example, it’s difficult to compare sediment from dredging and the amount of sediment that flows off the land and into the ocean because there’s limited data and many differences in the physical and chemical make-up of different types of sediments.

“In many locations, the extent to which sediments are resuspended and transported by waves and ocean currents, or are stable in the long-term, is also poorly understood.”

Australian Institute of Marine Science research program leader Dr Britta Schaffelke said the panel proposed a number of ways to reduce the knowledge gap.

“A better understanding of how sediment moves, settles or disperses over the long term in the Great Barrier Reef can be achieved through more extensive, long-term monitoring and better integration of current monitoring and data,” Dr Schaffelke said.

“Further efforts are also needed to understand how increased turbidity and suspended sediments affect a wide range of marine species.

“The report also found the disposal of dredge material on land involves a different set of challenges to be considered, ranging from technical feasibility to the assessment of environmental impacts.”

The publication is part of ongoing efforts by GBRMPA and the Australian Institute of Marine Science to improve

understanding of the effects of dredging and dredge disposal, enabling better management of the risks associated with these activities.

The work of the panel will help in updating best practice guidelines, and in assessing proposed developments that involve dredging and disposal in the World Heritage Area.

The full report of the independent panel of experts is available and

Report Synthesis of biophysical impacts from dredging and disposal in the Great Barrier Reef scheduled for release on 25 March 2015. (9.97 MB PDF)

 The South West Marine Debris Cleanup c/- Surfrider Foundation Australia

Great to see one of our Surfrider volunteers, Ula, taking part in the South West Marine Debris Cleanup run by environmental scientist Matt Dell in Tasmania. The volunteer team collected a record amount of rubbish with 37,000 items picked up in one day and a total of just over 79,000 items for the week. The data is recorded so a pattern of pollution can be mapped and trends in plastic identified. The information is used by researchers at the CSIRO and other institutions.

Ula summed up her journey: "When you are standing on these wild beaches and seeing the amount of rubbish that's washed up on them, it sometimes can be really heartbreaking and you can feel like it perhaps is a losing battle."

"But I think what we all take from that is a lot of inspiration to keep cleaning our beaches, and also really push for that systemic change that really needs to happen."

Take action in your local community and help shine a light on the global issue of plastics and other debris choking our oceans. Join your local Surfrider branch or one of the multitude of wonderful local groups trying to tackle this issue. Take Action.

See ABC report on – first run in Landline March 22nd, 2015


Posted by Andrew Perry on March 23, 2015 - Environment Tasmania: The Conservation Council

RTIs uncover systemic Tasmanian Government approval of logging known to damage Swift Parrot habitat.

Environment groups have today accused the Tasmanian Government of attempting to "pull a swiftie" over endangered species, by supporting logging of critical Swift Parrot breeding habitat against the advice of their own experts.

A report released today by Environment Tasmania, "Pulling a Swiftie", outlines the findings of a Right To Information (RTI) request. It found that the Forest Practices Authority referred a number of proposed logging coupes to DPIPWE for further advice in the 2013-14 financial year, as recognised guidelines for protection of the Endangered Swift Parrot could not be met.

To read the report and more, please click here.

Top: Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) - photo by J J Harrison.

 Conservation groups welcome Coalition’s $8 million commitment to Great Eastern Ranges conservation projects

23 March, 2015: Nature Conservation Council NSW

The NSW National Parks Association (NPA) and the NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC) have welcomed today’s announcement that a Coalition Government would invest $8 million in new conservation projects along the Great Eastern Ranges corridor.

The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) aims to stop the further extinctions of native species in eastern Australia by creating a 3,600km corridor from north Queensland to Victoria that would enable species to move, adapt to climate change and survive. [1]

It draws together more than 180 community, industry, government and non-government organisations in the conservation of our natural heritage by promoting landscape-scale connectivity and high-priority biodiversity projects within the corridor.

“This funding will continue to support on-ground works that protect environmental values and biodiversity by providing grants for community-driven, on-ground conservation efforts along the GER corridor,” NPA CEO Kevin Evans said.

“This commitment will help deliver the next phase of the Great Eastern Ranges conservation initiative, continuing the bipartisan political support for GER since the Carr Labor government established the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative in 2007.”

Currently there are nine regional partnerships along the Great Eastern Ranges that are delivering the positive environmental outcomes for local bushland and the corridor as a whole.

Environment Minister Rob Stokes also announced a Coalition government would provide $300,000 over two years to fund long-term plans and sustainable funding for the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative.

“These funds will help secure a sustainable future for the partnership that has led a globally significant conservation success story for the past eight years,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

“The private public partnership model that manages GER has international influence. This funding will support the ecosystems of the ranges corridor that provide multiple services, such as carbon storage, the provision and regulation of fresh water, and cultural benefits.


 Consultation invited on review of the National Carbon Offset Standard

Media release: 23 March 2015

The Australian Government has released a consultation paper on the review of the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) and the Carbon Neutral Program.

The NCOS provides companies the opportunity to voluntarily offset their carbon emissions and gain Government approved carbon neutral certification under the Carbon Neutral Program.

The NCOS helps businesses to calculate their carbon footprint or to develop carbon neutral products. It also assists consumers to make informed choices about carbon neutral products or services.

The Carbon Neutral Program, based on the NCOS, provides a way for businesses and other organisations to gain carbon neutral certification for their operations, products, services or events.

A diverse range of companies have chosen to become carbon neutral, including airlines, banks, councils and small businesses. Certified companies such as Qantas, ANZ, and Melbourne City Council offset around 1 million tonnes of emissions per annum under the Carbon Neutral Program.

The Government committed to review the NCOS as part of the Emissions Reduction Fund development in 2014 to ensure continuing integrity of the carbon offsets available to the Australian voluntary market and to improve uptake.

As part of the review, the government is seeking feedback on opportunities to broaden involvement in carbon neutral certification, including identifying certification models and making sure the eligible offsets list is up to date with the broader voluntary market.

The NCOS complements the Government's Direct Action Plan with the $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund as its centrepiece. Carbon Neutral Program participants have the opportunity to purchase ACCUs (Australian Carbon Credit Units) under the ERF including in projects such as savanna burning often done by Indigenous communities, environmental tree plantings and waste diversion activities.

The review is being conducted by the Department of the Environment in consultation with key stakeholders and the public. Businesses, community organisations and individuals are invited to make submissions on the consultation paper by 5pm AEST 22 April 2015.

The consultation paper and information on how to make a submission are available at

 Safeguard paper released for consultation: government to achieve targets

Media release: 26 March 2015

Safeguard paper released for consultation: government to achieve targets (PDF - 73 KB)

The Australian Government is seeking public feedback on options for the planned Emissions Reduction Fund safeguard mechanism.

The safeguard mechanism will ensure that abatement achieved under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is not offset by rises in emissions elsewhere in the economy.

Implementation of the crediting and purchasing components of the ERF are already underway, with the first auction to open on 15 April 2015.

The safeguard mechanism consultation paper released today incorporates views from across the community, including feedback received from businesses and community groups during the extensive consultation on the ERF Terms of Reference and Green Paper.

Businesses and the community are invited to make a submission on the safeguard mechanism public consultation paper by 27 April 2015.

The Government will consider this feedback in making final policy decisions on safeguard design, and will then release draft legislative rules for further comment.

The rules will be finalised in late 2015 and the safeguard mechanism will commence on 1 July 2016.

The ERF is the centrepiece of the Australian Government's efforts to tackle climate change.

The ERF will help drive private sector investment to achieve emissions reductions. The important thing is that emissions reductions are real, measurable and additional to business as usual.

Figures released this week by the Department of Environment show we will easily meet our commitment to reduce Australia's emissions by five per cent from 2000 levels by 2020.

Under Labor, Australia's abatement challenge to achieve the five per cent target was forecast to be 1,335 Mt CO2-e in 2008. This has now fallen to 236 Mt CO2-e.

We will achieve our emissions reduction targets, but unlike Labor, we'll do it without a multi-billion dollar job-destroying carbon tax.

Further information on the Emissions Reduction Fund is available

 Sunday Morning Birdwatching with PNHA

Would you like to know more about our local birds? Our guides can help you discover the birdlife in these wonderful bushland reserves.

26 April, Warriewood Wetlands, Warriewood

24 May, Chiltern Track, Ingleside

16 August, Chiltern Track (Wildflower study walk with a later start)

20 September, Irrawong Reserve, Warriewood

15 November, Warriewood Wetlands, Warriewood

Our birdwalks start at 7.30 or 8am and last for a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. Older children welcome.

Contact us to book and get details for each walk. Email or ph: 0439 409 202 / 0402 605 721. 


Community Garden Meeting 

31st Mar 2015, 6pm - 7pm

Come and chat to others interested in forming a garden group. Would you like to grow your own vegetables, if so you may like to join a community garden group.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for:

1. Council to provide an update

2. Members to meet and further organise their groups.

3. Discuss the administration tasks.

Venue: Pittwater Council Operations Centre, 1 Boondah Road, Warriewood.

(carparking available in Boondah Road in front of the sportsfields.)

RSVP: call Jenny Cronan on 9970 1357

Bangalley Headland Walk 

18th Apr 2015, 9am - 11am

Join us for a relaxing morning walk taking in the beautiful views and coastal bushland of Bangalley Head

Bangalley Head stands as the highest point and one of Pittwater’s largest bushland reserves on its clifftop coast line.

This - together with the great variety of native plants in the reserve and beautiful ocean views - makes Bangalley Head a haven for bushwalkers and wildlife alike. Native birds and marsupials - such as ringtail possums, honeyeaters, spinebills, finches and wrens - feed, breed and shelter among the dense thickets of coastal scrub and pockets of rainforest plants.

This is a fun event for all the family and a great opportunity to lean more about our amazing flora and fauna!

Meeting Point: Provided on booking

Bookings Essential!- Online In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception - Option 1)

 Farewell Shorebirds 2015

Are you up for the challenge? 

Right now over five million shorebirds are migrating from Australia to breed in the Arctic – for some that’s the equivalent of doing 309 consecutive marathons with only one or two drink stops along the way. And what’s more, once they have nested and raised their young, they turn around and do it all again.

From 21 March – 19 April, BirdLife Australia will be celebrating its annual migratory shorebird event, Farewell Shorebirds. We are challenging Australians to join the birds, by registering their human-powered kilometres against the bird-powered kilometres. Do we as a nation have what it takes to walk, jog, cycle or swim as far as these incredible birds?

As well as registering your kilometres for the shorebirds, we are encouraging Australians to follow the departure of eight popular shorebirds through our online Departure Lounge. It includes the Bar-tailed Godwit from the Hunter Estuary in NSW, the Curlew Sandpiper from Point Cook in Victoria, the Eastern Curlew from Queensland’s Moreton Bay, the Greater Sand Plover and the Red Knot from the Broome Bird Observatory in WA, the Great Knot from Lee Point in Darwin, the Red-necked Stint from Barrow Island in WA, and the Ruddy Turnstone from South Australia.

To be a part of this exciting event head to the website, log your distance travelled each day, help reach the national target, learn about shorebirds and go into the draw to win some incredible prizes! 

 Changing Behaviour Together - NSW Waste Less, Recycle More Education Strategy 2015–17

Have Your Say

What are we doing?

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) seeks your views on the draft education strategy to support Waste Less, Recycle More,a $465 million package to transform waste and recycling in NSW over five years.

Why are we doing it?

To meet the goals of the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2014–21, education is crucial.  This education strategy, Changing Behaviour Together, is a framework for us, our partners and stakeholders to change community behaviour through targeted education.

This strategy will:

• drive education and behaviour change initiatives across all sectors

• outline clear actions for the EPA and our stakeholders, and

• provide a framework to evaluate education activities.

Date: Mar. 13 - May. 28, 2015


Stakeholder consultation on the draft strategy will be open for ten weeks, closing at 5 pm, Friday 29 May 2015. Submissions are encouraged from local councils, council groups and all industry sectors and can be made via the EPA’s Regional Delivery Team at email:


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

 Commercial Fishermen Join Sea Shepherd in Stopping Illegal Fishers 

March 26th, 2015 - Paul Watson: Paris, France  


The fishing vessel ATLAS COVE joined the Sea Shepherd ships BOB BARKER and SAM SIMON today in the pursuit of the poaching vessel THUNDER.

The captain of the ATLAS COVE prepared the following was delivered in Spanish by the Chilean Chief Engineer on board the F/V ATLAS COVE

Translated it reads:

Fishing Vessel Thunder, Good Morning. I speak on behalf of my captain, Good Morning. This is Fishing Vessel Atlas Cove. This ship is a member of COLTO, the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators. We have taken position alongside the Sea Shepherd ships Bob Barker and Sam Simon to show support for their actions to stop all illegal fishing operations. Your ship is one of those that continues to fish illegally.

Both governments and NGOs are determined to stop this illegal activity. The people behind you won't let you go passively. Their reputation speaks for itself; and you Sir, are their target. They won't stop until you stop. So do yourself a favor: go home and stay there. If you want to keep fishing in the Southern Ocean, then do it through the right channels like everybody else does and become a responsible person - a responsible and legal operator.

And most importantly, help yourself become a responsible person, a responsible human being. We have to take care of the little that is left in the seas because if we don't, then there will be nothing left for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Over.

 New research for saving species on tropical islands as we prepare for big operation

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 23/03/2015 

Importance of tropical island restoration recognised by international scientific journal as we prepare for the biggest ever operation to save birds from extinction in French Polynesia

The May 2015 issue of international journal Biological Conservation is dedicated to tropical island conservation.  The special issue recommends best practices for restoring islands to their former glory by removing invasive rats, which have caused incredible destruction since they were introduced by humans.

These techniques have been pioneered in the Pacific by BirdLife International and partners such as Island Conservation, and now used around the globe. We were involved with an expert symposium in 2013 that led to this special issue of Biological Conservation.

This comes at a time when BirdLife is preparing with partners for its biggest island restoration projects ever: a huge and important operation to remove invasive species in French Polynesia, where most native birds are at immediate risk of extinction. As our boat is preparing for its mission to the remote Acteon and Gambier archipelagos, this project has currently reached 79% of its funding target. 

This operation is taking action for Critically Endangered species Tuamotu Sandpiper and Polynesian Ground-dove, through tried-and-tested science that has seen us remove rats and other killer invasives from 34 islands in five Pacific countries. But before the boat can leave, we still need your help to reach the target and implement over one year’s careful planning and research. Following this news, you can be sure that you will be supporting a project that is backed by the best scientific research and advancements.

 Your support will allow the Critically Endangered Polynesian Ground-dove to recover (Pete Morris; - picture at top)

Invasive rats have travelled with humans to over 80% of the world’s islands groups, where negative impacts have been recorded on 173 species of plants and animals, many of which are imperiled. Rat removal is one of the most immediate and significant actions needed to help restore these ecosystems. However, as the authors illustrate in the special issue, rat removal on tropical islands have had a lower success rate than those in temperate zones, and recently dropped below 80 percent, creating a critical gap in our island restoration toolkit.

The special edition in Biological Conservation includes ten peer reviewed papers focused on cutting edge tropical island research on rat biology and management, recommended best practices for rat removal, and emerging technologies which might be game-changing for island restoration. This represents a path forward for improving research and removal of rats on tropical islands. Ultimately, this means we can work towards saving more endangered island species faster in the tropics where conservation is most sorely needed.

The benefits of this collective knowledge are being applied to the operation to be conducted by BirdLife and its partners (including Island Conservation) in French Polynesia in May. This collaboration and the resulting advancements will further improve the likelihood of success on six islands aimed at safeguarding eight globally threatened bird species. Importantly the operation will also continue to build the knowledge of is biologists and island restoration practitioners protecting the vulnerable habitats and highly threatened wildlife of tropical islands.

Steve Cranwell, Programme Manager, Invasive Alien Species Programme, BirdLife International.

 Making connections: Galapagos Islands look to the Reef

Published: 25/03/2015

They‘re two spectacular underwater wildernesses and two of the most famous world heritage areas on the planet — and now one is providing direct assistance to the other.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is this week hosting two field officers from Ecuador’s Directorate of the Galapagos National Parks to share insights on how zoning rules are enforced.

The Galapagos Islands — renowned for their unique, endemic wildlife and for inspiring Charles Darwin’s theory of biological evolution — are under increasing pressures from human activities, including rapidly growing tourism and overfishing.

The fact-finding mission to Townsville follows a recent visit to Ecuador by GBRMPA reef recovery manager Darren Cameron to provide advice on the steps needed to build an effective network of marine park zones.

“The Galapagos Islands are in a similar position to where we were about 10 years ago, where we had zoning arrangements in place but they weren’t extensive enough to adequately protect biodiversity,” said Mr Cameron.

“The Ecuadorian Government recognises the national and international importance of the Galapagos Islands and is considering introducing a network of no-take areas across their terrestrial and marine ecosystems to build upon their existing zoning plan.

“Given it’s been more than a decade since we rezoned the Marine Park and extended no-take areas to around one-third of the area, there’s plenty of knowledge we can share from this experience.

“Our message to the scientists and managers from the Galapagos Islands is that zoning is an effective foundation to protecting biodiversity, but that you need to define and map all of your different environments, establish objectives for zones, and develop clear rules on what activities are appropriate for each zone.

“Once you’ve done that, it’s a matter of making sure you achieve a balance between adequately protecting the area and supporting the sustainable use of the industries and communities that value and use these areas.”

This week’s trip by Ecuadorian representatives will provide a close look at the many practical measures used to enforce and encourage compliance with the zoning rules.

“This visit is another demonstration of the high regard that other countries have for our Marine Park management, and particularly our compliance system that monitors an area the size of Japan,” Mr Cameron said.

“We’re able to show that good management of marine reserves requires a compliance tool kit, including measures such as education and communication to encourage people to stick to the rules, as well as legislation, regulations and a permit system to help with enforcement.”

Elements of the compliance program to be showcased include surveillance measures, and the delivery of practical on-ground activities that help to maintain the functioning of marine and island ecosystems.

The Galapagos World Heritage Area, located 1000 km from the South American continent, consists of 19 islands and is 130,000 square kilometres in size.

 World's most iconic ecosystems: World heritage sites risk collapse without stronger local management

March 2015 - Without better local management, the world's most iconic ecosystems are at risk of collapse under climate change, say researchers. Protecting places of global environmental importance such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest from climate change will require reducing the other pressures they face, for example overfishing, fertilizer pollution or land clearing.

The international team of researchers warns that localized issues, such as declining water quality from nutrient pollution or deforestation, can exacerbate the effects of climatic extremes, such as heat waves and droughts. This reduces the ability of ecosystems to cope with the impacts of climate change.

"We show that managing local pressures can expand the 'safe operating space' for these ecosystems. Poor local management makes an ecosystem less tolerant to climate change and erodes its capacity to keep functioning effectively," says the study's lead author Marten Scheffer, chair of the Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management at the Netherlands' Wageningen University.

The authors examined three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Spain's Doñana wetlands, the Amazon rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. While many ecosystems are important to their local people, these ecosystems have a global importance--hence their designation as World Heritage Sites. For instance, the Amazon rainforest is a globally important climate regulator.

Like coral reefs, rainforests and wetlands around the world, these sites are all under increasing pressure from both climate change and local threats.

For example, the Doñana wetlands in southern Spain are Europe's most important wintering site for waterfowl, hosting over half a million birds, and home to numerous unique invertebrate and plant species. Nutrient runoff from the use of agricultural fertilizers and urban wastewater is degrading water quality in the wetlands, causing toxic algal blooms, which endanger the ecosystem's biodiversity. A warming climate could encourage more severe blooms, causing losses of native plants and animals, say the researchers.

"Local managers could lessen this risk and therefore boost the wetlands' climate resilience by reducing nutrient runoff," says co-author Andy Green, a professor at the Doñana Biological Station. He added that nutrient control measures could include reducing fertilizer use, improving water treatment plants and closing illegal wells that are decreasing inputs of clean water to the wetlands.

Rising temperatures and severe dry spells threaten the Amazon rainforest and, in combination with deforestation, could turn the ecosystem into a drier, fire-prone and species-poor woodland. Curtailing deforestation and canopy damage from logging and quickening forest regeneration could protect the forest from fire, maintain regional rainfall and thus prevent a drastic ecosystem transformation.

"A combination of bold policy interventions and voluntary agreements has slowed deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon to one fourth of its historical rate. The stage is now set to build on this success by ramping up efforts to tame logging and inhibit fire," says Daniel Nepstad, executive director of Earth Innovation Institute.

The Great Barrier Reef is threatened by ocean acidification and coral bleaching, both induced by carbon dioxide emissions. Local threats such as overfishing, nutrient runoff and unprecedented amounts of dredging will reduce the reef's resilience to acidification and bleaching.

"It's an unfolding disaster. The reef needs less pollution from agricultural runoff and port dredging, less carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, and less fishing pressure. Ironically, Australia is still planning to develop new coal mines and expand coal ports, despite global efforts to transition quickly towards renewable energy," says co-author Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

"As a wealthy country, Australia has the capability and responsibility to improve its management of the reef," adds Hughes.

"All three examples play a critical role in maintaining global biodiversity. If these systems collapse, it could mean the irreversible extinction of species," says Scheffer.

The authors suggest their evidence places responsibility on governments and society to manage local threats to iconic ecosystems, and such efforts will complement the growing momentum to control global greenhouse gases.

Yet, in the three cases they examined, they found local governance trends are worrisome.

"UNESCO is concerned that Australia isn't doing enough to protect the Great Barrier Reef. It would be disastrous for the $6 billion reef tourism industry and Australia's reputation if they list the GBR as 'in danger.' We need to put science into action to prevent this from happening," urges Hughes.

According to co-author Scott Barrett, the problem is one of incentives.

"These ecosystems are of value to the whole world, not only to the countries that have jurisdiction over them. It may be necessary for other countries to bring pressure to bear on these 'host' countries or to offer them assistance, to ensure that these iconic ecosystems are protected for the benefit of all of humanity," says Barrett, who is also a professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Above all, the paper raises awareness of the great opportunities for enhanced local action.

"Local management options are well understood and not too expensive. So there is really no excuse for countries to let this slip away, especially when it comes to ecosystems that are of vital importance for maintaining global biodiversity," says Scheffer.

M. Scheffer, S. Barrett, S. R. Carpenter, C. Folke, A. J. Green, M. Holmgren, T. P. Hughes, S. Kosten, I. A. Van De Leemput, D. C. Nepstad, E. H. Van Nes, E. T. H. M. Peeters, B. Walker. Creating a safe operating space for iconic ecosystems. Science, 2015 DOI:10.1126/science.aaa3769

Improved local management of fishing, nutrient runoff and dredging could increase the Great Barrier Reef's resilience to ocean acidification and coral bleaching from climate change. Credit: Ed Roberts

 More big storms increase tropical rainfall totals

March 25, 2015 - University of New South Wales

Increasing rainfall in certain parts of the tropics, colloquially described as the wet get wetter and warm get wetter, has long been a projection of climate change. Now observations have shown that an increase in large thunderstorms is the primary reason for this phenomenon.

Joint research from the Monash branch of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (ARCCSS) and NASA published in Nature found even though other types of rainfall has decreased in frequency and the total number of thunderstorms remained the same, the increase in big storms had elevated total rainfall.

"The observations showed the increase in rainfall is directly caused by the change in the character of thunderstorms in the tropics rather than a change in the total number of thunderstorms," said lead author from ARCCSS Dr Jackson Tan.

"What we are seeing is more big and organised storms and fewer small and disorganised storms."

Thunderstorms play an important role in rainfall in the tropics. Despite organised deep convective storms only occurring 5% of the time in the world's equatorial regions, they deliver almost 50% of all its rainfall.

The research has also contributed to answering the important question whether the increase in rainfall observed in the tropics was simply caused by the fact of a warmer atmosphere or whether the underlying circulation in that region had changed.

The changes to the deep convection discovered in the study suggested a dynamic change in the climate system was responsible for the change in rainfall.

"If this rainfall change was caused simply by a warmer atmosphere holding more moisture, we would have expected an increase in the average rainfall when each system, organised or disorganised, occurs," said Dr Tan

"Instead, the number of organised storms, which is largely controlled by the dynamics of the atmosphere, have increased in frequency, suggesting that the increase in rainfall is related to more than a simple warming of the atmosphere."

Climate model results have long suggested that we would see increased precipitation in the tropics as a result of climate change. However, the exact nature of this change remained unclear.

The revelation that large thunderstorms appear to be the source of increased precipitation in the tropics explains why climate models may have difficulties in accurately representing the details of tropical rainfall.

The small-scale processes giving rise to thunderstorms make their direct simulation in climate models impossible given current computing power.

"This limitation, which is a well-known issue in global climate models, might well be a contributing factor to the precipitation errors and the bias towards light rain," said another author from Monash University, Prof Christian Jakob.

"Given how important these large storms are to rainfall in the tropics, it is vital that there is a renewed effort to represent convective organisation in global climate models if we are to fully understand precipitation changes in the future."

1. Jackson Tan, Christian Jakob, William B. Rossow, George Tselioudis. Increases in tropical rainfall driven by changes in frequency of organized deep convection. Nature, 2015; 519 (7544): 451 DOI: 10.1038/nature14339

Photo; Large thunderstoms are becoming more common in the tropics increasing total rainfall. Credit: Image courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.

 BOM's stormchasers keeping the world safe

Joint media release: 23 March 2015

Today is World Meteorological Day, a day that recognises the valuable contribution meteorology makes to the safety and prosperity of all Australians.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Bob Baldwin, said World Meteorological Day offers an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary contribution meteorological science makes to the decisions people make each day and the contribution Australia makes to the world's meteorological knowledge.

"In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology provides round-the-clock analysis and prediction to produce weather forecasts and warnings that help people to fly, work and live safely, and indeed prosper, within our vast and varied landscape," Mr Baldwin said.

"But I expect few would understand the extent and breadth of that work: the 450,000 forecasts, 18,500 weather and ocean warnings, 420,000 aviation weather products and 250 long-term outlooks on weather, climate and water that the Bureau issues each year.

"And even fewer would know of the extent and benefits of the Bureau's highly valued collaboration internationally.

"Australia's specialist satellite research, analysis, and technical skills have led to a strong collaborative arrangement with European, Chinese, Japanese and American agencies, that allows Australia access to their satellite data. In turn the Bureau not only produces a wide range of satellite products that help with Australian forecasts and research but it then packages that into formats suitable for on-sending to Pacific and neighbouring nations.

"Australia is surrounded by a highly active volcanic region often known as the ring of fire. Earthquakes and volcanoes occur almost daily and the Bureau contributes significantly to international tsunami warning systems in the Indian and Pacific oceans; and produces volcanic ash advisory information for all aircraft flying through the region, one of only nine such advisory centres in the world.

"Last week the skills of meteorologists in the Pacific came to the fore when they tracked and warned of the impending destruction from Tropical Cyclone Pam. Many of those forecasters would have benefited from the specialist skills they gained from training courses run by the Bureau, both in Australia and in the Pacific.

All of this has been greatly enabled by the World Meteorological Organization that was established 65 years ago today, and the collaborative culture it has created.

"The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the Bureau is able to further improve on that science and service, and is providing funding for the purchase, installation and operation of a new supercomputer," Mr Baldwin said.

"Announced in the 2014-15 Federal Budget, the tender process is well underway, with the successful tenderer expected to sign a contract mid-year and the supercomputer to be fully operational from mid-2016.

"The new supercomputer will ensure the continued delivery of high quality forecasts and warnings and enable the Bureau to meet the increasing needs of a wide range of stakeholders into the future.

"As we recognise World Meteorological Day, I encourage all Australians to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of meteorology on their daily lives."

World Meteorological Day is celebrated on 23 March each year to recognise the anniversary of the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization, which first met on that day in 1950.

 A mile deep, ocean fish facing health impacts from human pollution

March 25, 2015 - Deep-water marine fish living on the continental slopes at depths from 2,000 feet to one mile have liver pathologies, tumors and other health problems that may be linked to human-caused pollution, one of the first studies of its type has found. The research, conducted in the Bay of Biscay west of France, also discovered the first case of a deep water fish species with an "intersex" condition, a blend of male and female sex organs. The sampling was done in an area with no apparent point-source pollution, and appears to reflect general ocean conditions.

The findings have been published in Marine Environmental Research, by scientists from Oregon State University; the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in the United Kingdom; and other agencies. It was supported by the European Union.

The research is of particular interest, OSU researchers said, when contrasted to other studies done several years ago in national parks of the American West, which also found significant pollution and fish health impacts, including male fish that had been "feminized" and developed eggs.

"In areas ranging from pristine, high mountain lakes of the United States to ocean waters off the coasts of France and Spain, we've now found evidence of possible human-caused pollution that's bad enough to have pathological impacts on fish," said Michael Kent, a professor of microbiology in the OSU College of Science, co-author on both these research projects and an international expert on fish disease.

"Deep in the ocean one might have thought that the level of contamination and its biological impact would be less," Kent said. "That may not be the case. The pathological changes we're seeing are clearly the type associated with exposure to toxins and carcinogens."

However, linking these changes in the deep water fish to pollution is preliminary at this time, the researchers said, because these same changes may also be caused by naturally-occurring compounds. Follow up chemical analyses would provide more conclusive links with the pathological changes and man's activity, they said.

Few, if any health surveys of this type have been done on the fish living on the continental slopes, the researchers said. Most past studies have looked only at their parasite fauna, not more internal biological problems such as liver damage. The issues are important, however, since there's growing interest in these areas as a fisheries resource, as other fisheries on the shallower continental shelf become depleted.

As the sea deepens along these continental slopes, it's been known that it can act as a sink for heavy metal contaminants such as mercury, cadmium and lead, and organic contaminants such as PCBs and pesticides. Some of the "intersex" fish that have been discovered elsewhere are also believed to have mutated sex organs caused by "endocrine disrupting chemicals" that can mimic estrogens.

In this study, the health concerns identified were found in black scabbardfish, orange roughy, greater forkbeard and other less-well-known species, and included a wide range of degenerative and inflammatory lesions that indicate a host response to pathogens, as well as natural cell turnover. The fish that live in these deep water, sloping regions usually grow slowly, live near the seafloor, and mature at a relatively old age. Some can live to be 100 years old.

Partly because of that longevity, the fish have the capacity to bioaccumulate toxicants, which the researchers said in their report "may be a significant human health issue if those species are destined for human consumption." Organic pollutants in such species may be 10-17 times higher than those found in fish from the continental shelf, the study noted, with the highest level of contaminants in the deepest-dwelling fish.

However, most of those contaminants migrate to the liver and gonads of such fish, which would make their muscle tissue comparatively less toxic, and "generally not high enough for human health concern," the researchers wrote.

The corresponding author on this study was Stephen Feist at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in Weymouth, England.

In the previous research done in the American West, scientists found toxic contamination from pesticides, the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture, industrial operations and other sources, which primarily found their way into high mountain lakes through air pollution. Pesticide pollution, in particular, was pervasive.

Together, the two studies suggest that fish from some of the most remote parts of the planet, from high mountains to deep ocean, may be impacted by toxicants, Kent said.

1. S.W. Feist , G.D. Stentiford, M.L. Kent, A. Ribeiro Santos, P. Lorance.Histopathological assessment of liver and gonad pathology in continental slope fish from the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Marine Environmental Research, 2015 [link]

photo; The testicle from a male trout which contains a developing egg is an example of "intersex" conditions that can result from pollution. Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon State University

 Public consultation on national parks establishment - HAVE YOUR SAY

Comment is sought on the proposed directions, socio-economic considerations and community involvement in creating new national parks and reserves in NSW.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) acquires land for the establishment of new national parks through various means such as the transfer of other public land, the voluntary sale or transfer of private land, bequests and donations, or through biodiversity offsets, in order to achieve the objectives of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

NPWS is considering whether opportunities exist to improve the national parks establishment process.

Two documents, a directions statement and a socio-economic report on land acquisition, have been prepared to form the basis of a consultation with the community.

This consultation is occurring in response to a Parliamentary Inquiry into Management of Public Land Management in NSW(External link). As a consequence of the inquiry, the NSW Government has committed to publicly consult on:

updating the NSW National Parks Establishment Plan

the social and economic implications of new park proposals

how to improve community involvement in the reserve establishment process.

Directions Statement for National Park Establishment

In response to Recommendation 3 of the Management of Public Land in NSW Inquiry, the NSW Government made a commitment to:

“Review and update the NSW National Parks Establishment Plan to take account of recent information and current and future conservation priorities.

This will reinforce the scientific basis for building the national parks system, consistent with international best practice and nationally agreed frameworks.”

A Directions Statement for National Park Establishment(External link) has been prepared to reframe the NSW National Parks Establishment Plan(External link) that has guided land acquisition since 2008. The purpose of the directions statement is to:

convey the types of conservation priorities that are important to the expansion and enhancement of the National Park Estate

present the NSW Government’s focus for effort and investment in reserve establishment over the next five years (2015-2020)

Consultation period 19 January 2015 to 12 April 2015

See relevant documents and Have Your Say

Transforming human services for the digital era

by CSIRO - Published on 23 Mar 2015

Innovation is critical in providing better public services to all Australians. As governments the world over commit to digital services agendas, the Australian Government Department of Human Services has taken a leading position in digitally transforming its services. However, the health and welfare payments system is extremely complex and critical. With more than a third of Federal expenditure under its management, the challenge for the department is to improve the customer experience and at the same time improve efficiency and service levels. In 2009, the department and CSIRO formed the Human Services Delivery Research Alliance to inform digital transformation with hard evidence and multidisciplinary research. Learn about some of the outcomes of the Alliance in this animation or visit our website:

 Blood test may shed new light on Fragile X related disorders

March 26, 2015 - A blood test may shed new light on Fragile X syndrome related disorders in women, according to a new study published in the March 25, 2015, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Fragile X is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability and the most frequent genetic cause of autism.

Fragile X, which is caused by a mutation in a single gene on the X chromosome, affects about 1 in 4,000 men and 1 in 6,000 women. Even more common are Fragile X carriers of a lesser change in the Fragile X gene called a premutation, occurring in 1 in 450 men and 1 in 150 women. Fragile X premutation carriers have normal intellect, but some can develop physical symptoms over time. They are also more likely to develop social anxiety and depression.

In the study, researchers compared 35 women who had the premutation to 35 women who did not have this genetic change. The participants took tests of their brains' executive functioning skills, such as inhibition and selective attention, and rated themselves on scales for depression and social anxiety. They also had blood tests to measure the amount of methylation in the Fragile X gene. Methylation adds methyl groups to some of the DNA, which inactivates that part of the X chromosome. Methylation is one type of so-called epigenetic changes, alterations in genes during the lifetime that affect their expression.

The researchers found that the women with the premutation who had high methylation levels were more likely to have depression, social anxiety and problems with executive functioning skills. In this group, worse scores on the executive function skills were correlated with having increased symptoms of anxiety and depression; this relationship was not seen in the women who did not have the premutation.

"These results are exciting, because it means we could use an easily accessible blood test to help diagnose people who have the premutation genetic abnormality and identify who is more likely to have problems and begin early treatment," said study author Kim M. Cornish, PhD, of Monash University in Victoria, Australia. "This finding could also help us better understand the Fragile X premutation, as we can develop studies based on whether women are likely to develop these disorders."

K. M. Cornish, C. M. Kraan, Q. M. Bui, M. A. Bellgrove, S. A. Metcalfe, J. N. Trollor, D. R. Hocking, H. R. Slater, Y. Inaba, X. Li, A. D. Archibald, E. Turbitt, J. Cohen, D. E. Godler. Novel methylation markers of the dysexecutive-psychiatric phenotype in FMR1 premutation women. Neurology, 2015; DOI:10.1212/WNL.0000000000001496

 How our DNA may prevent bowel cancer

March 24, 2015 - University of Melbourne

The link between taking aspirin, and similar medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDS), and bowel (colorectal) cancer prevention is well established.

However, the mechanisms behind the protective effect have not been understood and it is not known why some people appear to benefit while others do not.

Conducted by investigators from four countries, including Professors Mark Jenkins and John Hopper from the University of Melbourne, the findings suggest this protection differs according to variations in DNA.

"We've known for a long time that aspirin lowers the risk of bowel cancer, but we also know that not everyone gets the same degree of protection," said Professor Mark Jenkins, a co-author of the paper and Director of the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Population and Global Health.

"The aim of this study was to investigate if genetic variation can be used to determine who will benefit from taking aspirin and who will not," he said.

For the study, Professors Jenkins, Hopper and collaborators analysed the combined data from ten large studies conducted in Australia, USA, Canada and Germany.

They compared genetic and lifestyle data from 8,624 people who developed bowel cancer with that of 8,553 people who did not.

An important component of this data included 1,085 participants from Australia who enrolled in the Australasian Colorectal Cancer Family Study.

"This study confirmed that for most people, taking regular aspirin and NSAIDs lowered their risk of bowel cancer, but it also showed that the benefit from taking these medicines was not the same for everyone, and one of the differences was in their DNA" said Professor Jenkins.

"While most people benefit from aspirin, there was DNA evidence that about 1 in 25 people do not, and in fact may increase their risk of bowel cancer if they take aspirin," Professor Jenkins said.

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Melbourne

 NHMRC funds better targeted cancer imaging and radiotherapy

25 March 2015

The National Health and Medical Research Council has funded clinical trials of a medical device that delivers better targeted radiotherapy for people with lung, breast and abdominal cancers.

Developed by a team from the University of Sydney, the 'Breathe Well' biofeedback device improves medical imaging and the pinpoint delivery of radiotherapy.

"Every breath we take is different and unpredictable," says Paul Keall, Director of the Radiation Physics Laboratory at the University of Sydney.

"When we're imaging cancers that are moving due to breathing, then this irregularity causes … errors in the images that we are using to target the cancer with radiation."

The biofeedback device helps patients breathe more regularly while undergoing imaging and radiotherapy - see video.

It does this by producing two images on a screen - a graphical representation of their usual, regular breathing pattern, and an image of their real-time breathing.

The patient watches the screen during imaging and radiotherapy and tries to match their breathing to their observed breathing profile.

"They essentially play a game to match their current breathing signal to the target wave form which has been selected for them," Professor Keall says.

Nine times out of ten, the mere act of breathing normally leads to significant imaging errors in the diagnosis and treatment planning for thoracic and abdominal cancers.

Dangerously, this often leads to imprecise radiation treatment because the beam will miss part of the tumour and hit surrounding healthy tissue instead.

Imprecise radiation treatment due to unpredictable breathing affects 5,000 lung cancer patients in Australia and an estimated 650,000 million lung cancer patients globally every year.

Helping patients breathe in a more predictable pattern improves the accuracy of imaging and the effectiveness of radiotherapy by increasing the amount of radiation that hits a tumour. It also reduces side effects because less radiation reached healthy tissue.

The new NHMRC grant will help the University of Sydney team led by professor Keall to conduct trials of the device in Australia, Europe, Asia and the United States over the next three years. It will also support further product development with a view to making the device widely available.

The device is expected to improve treatment of lung, breast, liver, pancreas and kidney cancers.

The team's grant is one of 18 NHMRC grants worth $12.9M awarded to University of Sydney researchers. These grants provided in the latest funding round are intended to help translate treatments from an idea in the lab to commercially viable products.

The grants are part of $123.5M in total NHMRC funding that will also support early career researchers and a range of collaborative projects.

 University of Sydney supports Human Rights Commission campaign

24 March 2015

The University of Sydney today renewed its pledge to support the Human Rights Commission's Racism. It stops with me campaign, which is designed to encourage Australians to reflect on their own role in countering racism.

Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner and University alumnus, Tim Soutphommasane, spoke at an event held on campus today to celebrate the University's commitment to the campaign and to promote respect and tolerance on campus.

The Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said the University was committed to strengthening inclusion and celebrating diversity.

"The University of Sydney values and respects the social, cultural and linguistic diversity of our academic and student community," Dr Spence said.

"Our campuses reflect Australia's vibrant multicultural communities, with students from more than 134 different countries studying at the University."

Dr Spence said the University's support of the Human Rights Commission's Racism. It stops with me campaign was part of a suite of initiatives to strengthen access and equity policies at the University.

"Racism damages individuals and communities and it is important that we join with others to take a stand against it," Dr Spence said.

"At the University of Sydney our shared purpose is to support researchers and students from all different backgrounds to thrive and realise their full potential. This binding purpose is clearly enshrined in the University's Strategic Plan 2011-15 and is a guiding goal of our institution."

The University of Sydney has demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting inclusion and is working to improve the representation of equity groups across the University's professional and academic positions.

"A strong equity and diversity policy is critical to ensure the University is globally competitive and in a strategic position to leverage the benefits of our diversity," Dr Spence said.

"As an institution we must continue to focus on how we as a community can continue to promote inclusion."

 Trauma and hope combine in Redlands art prize


The Tampa incident and post-Cold War culture have provided rich inspiration for an academic-student pairing in the Redlands Art prize.

Scientia Professor Dennis Del Favero is one of 21 respected Australian artists selected to The Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, which provides the opportunity for finalists to nominate an emerging contemporary artist to participate in the exhibition.

Master of Fine Arts candidate Tanya Dyhin was nominated by Professor Del Favero because of “her poetic and powerful approach to contemporary issues”.

“Tanya’s work engages with post-Cold War culture and society, which is rarely tackled in the Australian arts scene,” Del Favero said.

Dyhin said she was “absolutely delighted” to be nominated by Del Favero, whose work has been exhibited in major international museums and galleries, the Sydney Film Festival, Biennale of Architecture Rotterdam and the Biennial of Seville.

“It’s a great honour to be nominated by such an accomplished artist – I feel like I need to pinch myself,” she said.

Dyhin’s work Rebirth explores the feminine aspects of her Ukrainian culture and its impact on her identity.

Rebirth is a 162cm female skeleton covered in synthetic flowers similar to those used in the vinok – a floral wreath integral to the traditional Ukrainian costume.

“I used different coloured flowers to bring out the contours of the bones – I wanted to use a skeleton, such an obvious symbol of death, and transform it into something beautiful,” said Dyhin. “I’m hoping viewers will be reminded of themselves and their own mortality.”

Dyhin said the violent riots in the Ukrainian capital Kiev in November 2013 helped inform Rebirth.

“It struck a chord with me, people banding together so powerfully to drive social change – at the same time my Ukrainian grandfather died so it was a very emotional period.”

Del Favero’s Tampa, 2001 also deals with politics, memory and trauma.

The computer graphic installation explores the Howard Government's refusal to permit the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa, carrying 438 rescued refugees, to enter Australian waters in 2001.

The four-minute installation, which combines an original music score with archival audio from the battlefields of Afghanistan, gives a birds-eye view of a violent ocean through a circular, porthole projection.

“I’m trying to give viewers a sense of what the refugees would have experienced without being didactic or dogmatic,” said Del Favero, who said the installation is emblematic of the culture of fear Australians are now living in.

“People fleeing persecution are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. My hope is to change the conversation from questions of legitimate border entry to questions of hospitality.”

UNSW Art & Design alumni Shaun Gladwell, Claire Healy and Sean Cordiero joined the strong contingent of Redlands finalists, along with 2014 Archibald Prize winner and Art & Design student Fiona Lowry.

The Redlands Prize runs from 26 March–23 May at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, with all works available for purchase except the two winning works.

Top: Tanya Dyhin - Rebirth (2015). 

 Admission Impossible by NFSA

Published on 25 Mar 2015

From the Film Australia Collection. Made by Film Australia 1992. Directed by Alec Morgan. For much of the 20th century, successive Australian governments pursued a policy of deporting and barring entry to any race of people they considered undesirable. This was known as the White Australia policy. Admission Impossible is the true story of the behind-the-scenes political forces and the propaganda campaigns that attempted to populate Australia with “pure white” migrants.

 Men and suicide: Know the warning signs


Men who feel suicidal often display distinctive warning signs, offering those closest to them significant opportunities to intervene, a study by UNSW researchers at the Black Dog Institute has found.

Men who feel suicidal often display distinctive warning signs, offering those closest to them significant opportunities to intervene, a study by UNSW researchers at the Black Dog Institute has found.

The Men’s Experiences with Suicidal Behaviour and Depression Project (PDF – 1.04 MB)  found there was an urgent need for more and better campaigns to educate the public about the warning signs and how to respond.

Funded by beyondblue and The Movember Foundation, the study was led by UNSW Associate Professor Judy Proudfoot and UNSW Scientia Professor Helen Christensen, chief scientist and director of the Black Dog Institute.

The research was based on face-to-face interviews and online surveys with more than 200 men across Australia who had recently attempted suicide, and 165 friends and families of men who had recently attempted to take their life.

It found four common characteristics among suicidal men: stoic beliefs about masculinity, depressed or disrupted mood, the presence of stressful situations, and a tendency to isolate socially and use coping mechanisms that avoid, prolong or worsen the issues.

“This important research and the four factors for men that it identifies adds to our knowledge and shows that suicidal distress can be observed and identified,” said beyondblue chief executive Georgie Harman.

“These factors interact and lead men to think they are a burden and imposing on others and ‘unmanly’ if they seek help from family and friends when, usually, nothing could be further from the truth.”

The research identified actions family members and friends could take to stop at-risk men attempting suicide, including ‘male bonding’ that prevents a downward spiral happening, and not leaving a man’s side when he is ‘acutely suicidal’.

Almost all of the surveyed men said support from someone they trusted and respected was important in interrupting a suicide attempt. Eight out of ten men said having someone listen with an open mind, rather than simply saying that everything would be OK, had also helped.

Professor Christensen said the results demonstrated that a diverse set of solutions is needed to ensure all people experiencing poor mental health are identified and received help.

“Building on health promotion programs such as beyondblue’s Man Therapy campaign and Movember, we now need to develop and deliver clinical solutions that are accessible to Australian men of all ages and backgrounds,” she said.

More than five men die by suicide every day in Australia, almost double the number killed in road accidents. Australian men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.

If you think you or someone you care about may be suicidal, you can talk to trained mental health professionals 24/7 via the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636, via web chat from 3pm to midnight every night at


25 March 2015

A report released today has found that advanced physical and mathematical sciences make a direct contribution to the Australian economy of around $145 billion a year, or about 11 per cent of GDP.

When the flow-on impacts of these sciences are included, the economic benefit expands to about $292 billion a year, or 22 per cent of the nation’s economic activity.

The report was commissioned by the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Australian Academy of Science and produced by the Centre for International Economics (CIE).

“For the first time we now have the numbers on the table showing the importance of these sciences to the Australian economy,” Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Chubb said. “It is too easy to take the benefits of science and innovation for granted, and this report shows that the knowledge from these disciplines supports and enhances economic activity which benefits all Australians.”

Australian Academy of Science President Professor Andrew Holmes said the report was a significant step in improving public awareness of the economic contributions of Australian science.

“The detailed report carefully maps out the pathways by which advanced physical and mathematical sciences yield economic results,” Professor Holmes said.

The figures in the report are conservative and only include the economic benefits of discoveries and innovations implemented in the past 20 years in physics, chemistry, earth sciences and the mathematical sciences.

The report includes examples of how these sciences benefit the economy, such as advanced mathematics supporting the effectiveness of mobile phones and wireless internet, and sets out a selection of breakthroughs that have had an economic impact.

The report, titled The importance of advanced physical and mathematical sciences to the Australian economy, did not examine the economic benefits of biology and life sciences. The economic impact of these sciences could be assessed in further studies.

The importance of advanced physical and mathematical sciences to the Australian economy - available

 World's largest asteroid impacts found in central Australia

March 23, 2015 - A 400-kilometer-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth has been found in Central Australia. The crater from the impact millions of years ago has long disappeared. But a team of geophysicists has found the twin scars of the impacts -- the largest impact zone ever found on Earth -- hidden deep in Earth's crust.

Lead researcher Dr Andrew Glikson from the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology said the impact zone was discovered during drilling as part of geothermal research, in an area near the borders of South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

"The two asteroids must each have been over 10 kilometres across -- it would have been curtains for many life species on the planet at the time," said Dr Glikson.

The revelation of such ancient violent impacts may lead to new theories about Earth's history.

"Large impacts like these may have had a far more significant role in the Earth's evolution than previously thought," Dr Glikson said.

The exact date of the impacts remains unclear. The surrounding rocks are 300 to 600 million years old, but evidence of the type left by other meteorite strikes is lacking.

For example, a large meteorite strike 66 million years ago sent up a plume of ash which is found as a layer of sediment in rocks around the world. The plume is thought to have led to the extinction of a large proportion of the life on the planet, including many dinosaur species.

However, a similar layer has not been found in sediments around 300 million years old, Dr Glikson said.

"It's a mystery -- we can't find an extinction event that matches these collisions. I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years," he said.

A geothermal research project chanced on clues to the impacts while drilling more than two kilometres into Earth's crust.

The drill core contained traces of rocks that had been turned to glass by the extreme temperature and pressure caused by a major impact.

Magnetic modelling of the deep crust in the area traced out bulges hidden deep in Earth, rich in iron and magnesium, corresponding to the composition of Earth's mantle.

"There are two huge deep domes in the crust, formed by the Earth's crust rebounding after the huge impacts, and bringing up rock from the mantle below," Dr Glikson said.

The two impact zones total more than 400 kilometres across, in the Warburton Basin in Central Australia. They extend through Earth's crust, which is about 30 kilometres thick in this area.

1. A.Y. Glikson, A.J. Meixner, B. Radke, I.T. Uysal, E. Saygin, J. Vickers, T.P. Mernagh. Geophysical anomalies and quartz deformation of the Warburton West structure, central Australia. Tectonophysics, 2015; 643: 55 DOI:10.1016/j.tecto.2014.12.010

Photo: Dr Andrew Glikson with a sample of suevite - a rock with partially melted material formed during an impact. Credit: D. Seymour

 Photo Gallery: Retrospect – Afghanistan war stories brought to life

24 MAR 2015

UNSW and ABC Radio have collaborated on a multimedia archive providing unprecedented access to the experiences of Australian veterans who served in Afghanistan.

Retrospect: War, Family, Afghanistan  explores the impact of the war on the lives of six former Australian Defence Force personnel and their families through six ABC radio documentaries, a dedicated website, and an immersive digital archive at UNSW’s iCinema. 

Above: Mirabad Valley, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan 2010. Photo: Neale Maude

 Pittwater YHA Backpacker Hostel - Nature & Wildlife Heaven

Pittwater YHA hostel is nestled on the hillside of Morning Bay in Ku-ring-gai National Park. This hostel is an easy escape from the busy city life of Sydney and ideal for groups. 

Attractions include bushwalks to lookouts and Aboriginal engravings, plus from the hostel you can see native birds, wallabies, possums and goannas.

This backpacker hostel is perfect for those wishing to get out of Sydney without actually leaving Sydney. Escape for a week or just a weekend.

 University of Sydney welcomes Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill

19 March 2015

The University of Sydney has welcomed the passage of the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill through the Senate as an important development for Australian research and higher education.

Professor Jill Trewhella, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University, said the passage of the bill was the culmination of a long process to avoid harmful consequences for Australian research, innovation and trade.

"The swift passage of this bill is an example of a genuinely constructive, bipartisan and broad approach," said Professor Trewhella.

"In particular, this is the result of an encouraging collaboration between the Department of Defence, leading academics, and legal and policy staff at the University of Sydney. The University has been active in the debate since the first introduction of the act, and our advocacy has been central to this important reform.

"The former Minister for Defence, David Johnston, was instrumental in referring the act to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade, whose oversight has been key, and in ensuring the more consultative approach taken by Defence. The new Minister, Kevin Andrews, has also been helpful in ensuring Senators were well briefed on the issues of concern for the sector. Shadow Minister for Defence Senator Stephen Conroy and his staff also played an important part in gaining the opposition's support for the changes.

"Finally, Senator Scott Ludlam has worked hard to ensure a thorough understanding of a very complex piece of legislation has been promulgated throughout the Senate along with the importance to the sector of the swift passage of the bill."

The amendment bill significantly improves the Defence Trade Controls Act by excluding many low-risk routine research activities that would otherwise have required permits. Importantly, it also ensures the tough offence penalties enforced by the act will be delayed for a further 12 months while appropriate compliance systems and processes are established.


History's most important document?

The History Council of NSW is delighted to announce our involvement in the celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta. This symposium has been organised in conjunction with the Magna Carta Committee, the Rule of Law Society and the State Library of NSW.

The signing of Magna Carta in 1215 marked an important step in the movement away from arbitrary, monarchical rule towards responsible, constitutional government. By the end of the eighteenth century Englishmen had come to believe strongly in the principles of trial by jury and no taxation without representation-even if the latter took the form of virtual representation. These principles were carried to the colony of NSW and were at the heart of the movements to establish trial by jury and representative (or at least consultative) institutions, which commenced within two decades of the founding of the colony.

The 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta in 2015 provides the appropriate opportunity to re-examine this document and its role in British and Australian history. In this day long symposium, five speakers, including Prof Nick Cowdery, Prof David Clark, Prof John Hirst, Dr Rosemary Laing and Dr Andrew Tink, will explore the historical and contemporary significance of this groundbreaking document.

This event will take place on Thursday May 7 2015. This event is free but bookings are essential!

See more at HERE

 Premier launches volunteer recognition program

Media Release

NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello today launched a program to acknowledge the selfless actions of volunteers. Member for Granville Tony Issa joined Mr Baird and Mr Dominello at the Granville Youth and Community Centre to launch the Premier’s Volunteer Recognition Program in front of about 200 volunteers.

“The program will recognise the two million volunteers in NSW who together give up 240 million hours of their time to support others each year,” Mr Baird said. “In dollar terms, their combined effort supporting our community is worth about $5 billion to our economy.

“This program recognises the support volunteers provide, a commitment made when we launched the first ever NSW Volunteering Strategy in 2012.

“Volunteering is a gift and it’s hoped this initiative will encourage more people to volunteer by shining a light on the incredible contributions already being made.”

Mr Dominello said the Premier’s Volunteer Recognition Program will have six levels of recognition and nominations for recognition in the adult categories open from today.

“High school students in Years 9, 10 and 11 will be eligible for three of the categories of recognition, which we hope will one day tie in with the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Nominations open today for two categories of volunteer recognition – for individuals who have offered their services for more than 25 years, as well as lifelong contributors.”

Mr Issa said the program would be welcomed by community organisations, such as the Granville Multicultural Community Centre which rely on volunteers.

“The Youth and Community Centre’s new fit-out and landscaping was made possible through 2,500 hours of volunteer labour from Granville Multicultural Community Centre and the South Granville Men’s Shed – making it the welcoming place it is today,” Mr Issa said.

“These acts of generosity and community spirit are happening right across NSW and this new program will ensure volunteers are appropriately recognised.”

To nominate a volunteer for recognition please  Direct link: HERE

Nominations are invited for the first round of recognition which will close on 20 April.  Local members of Parliament will present recognition certificates in National Volunteer Week from 11-15 May 2015.

The Premier's Volunteer Recognition Program provides a greater recognition of volunteers than has ever been possible and complements the NSW Volunteer of the Year Award program.

The Program aims to recognise people who commence volunteering when young, and is designed to continue recognition through the volunteering and life course. This will enable local people to recognise and celebrate those who make ongoing contributions to supporting communities.

The Program involves six categories:

• Students age up to 14 years or end of Year 9 (criteria: 3 months regular volunteering and minimum of 13 hours in one year)

• Students age 15 years or end of Year 10 (criteria: 6 months regular volunteering and minimum of 26 hours in one year)

• Students age 16 years or end of Year 11 (criteria: 12 months regular volunteering and minimum of 52 hours in one year)

• Volunteering effort by those up to 40 years of age

• People with more than 25 years of volunteering experience

• People with more than 40 years of volunteering experience.

Adults Nominations at: HERE

Students: The NSW Government is encouraging students to experience the benefits of volunteering and to have their volunteering contributions recognised through their schools and universities.

Government, Catholic and Independent schools that are interested in participating in the Premier's Volunteer Recognition Program may register their interest with NSW Volunteering. Web tools are available for students to track their hours through 2015, and to create a resume of their volunteering each year.

NSW Volunteering: T:9561 8597, E:

Contact: Paul Sabatier.


An idea was born

Frustrated at being unable to obtain Local Pittwater Actual weather from any source the means to achieve such information was investigated. (All current internet weather sites give Terrey Hills weather even when you request one anywhere around Pittwater)

Through the Federal Minister for The Environment, referred to the Bureau of Meteorology to be told that just one station would cost $29,000 and that no funding was available – that was a red rag to a bull.

This is despite the fact that there are no BoM Coastal Weather Stations between North Head and Norah Head – a distance of 67Kms. Going south there are stations every 11 – 30Kms to Kiama.

Without any Government assistance, private equity was volunteered by a very generous local willing to give back something to our idyllic Pittwater.

Not only is he funding one station – the aim is to eventually have 5 -6 around Pittwater.

This data will benefit sailors, fishermen, power boats, seaplanes, Marine Rescue, Maritime, Water Police, National Parks, the Rural Fire Service and yacht clubs.

On Saturday 21st February, 2015 the first station was commissioned at Observation Point, Palm Beach. 

This website is most comprehensive with the data available in various formats including gauges that give analog and digital readings:

Webcams will be incorporated subsequently to give a birds-eye-view.

Permission is pending from Rob Stokes – State Member for the Environment – to position one station on Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

This will give both coastal and Pittwater coverage.

Other sites will follow when siting permission is obtained.

Report by Rohan Walter

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.