Inbox and Environment News Issue 212 

 May 3 - 9, 2015: Issue 212

  International Composting Awareness Week: Better Soil, Better Life, Better Future

Monday 4 – Sunday 10 May 2015

International Composting Awareness Week Australia (ICAW), is a week of activities, events and publicity to improve awareness of the importance of  compost, a valuable organic resource and to promote compost use, knowledge and products. We can compost to help scrap carbon pollution by avoiding landfilling organic materials and helping to build healthier soils.

FREE Composting and Eco - living workshop

6th May 2015: 10am - 12:30pm

Celebrate International Compost Week by joining our FREE workshop

Small, positive changes made by everyday people can have a significant impact on our environment. This course will open the door to living a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for you and future generations.

This workshop covers the following topics:

· An overview of all Kimbriki’s Eco House and Garden workshops

· What is Ecology?

· How can I make a difference?

· An introduction to the basics of organic gardening

· An introduction to ‘biogenics’ – the healing power of plants

· How your garden can keep you and your family healthy

· The tasting of edible flowers

· The real difference between organic and non-organic food

* Morning tea will be provided

* Every Pittwater resident who attends will receive a FREE compost bin or worm farm

Cost: Free

When: Wednesday 6 May 2015 - 10am - 12.30pm

Where: Kimbriki Eco House & Garden

Bookings are essential: Please call 9970 1194 or


ICAW Australia is an initiative of the Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE), a not-for-profit organisation conducting year round organic research, education and awareness activities.

CORE also organises National Organic Week Australia (NOW) which will take place between Friday 2nd and Sunday 11th October 2015.

 Madeira vine Beetle

Madeira Vine, Anredera cordifolia, is one of our worst noxious weeds, originating in South America. It starts flowering in March with obvious creamy catkins showing just how high it can climb. Its heavy foliage and aerial tubers break down and smother trees.

A biological control agent specific to this vine, already released in northern NSW, has been brought to Pittwater.

The beetle, Plectonycha correntina is bred by the Department of Primary Industries in Grafton. Both adult and larval stages eat the foliage. The adult beetle is about 5mm long. We anticipate it will help to control the weed, but it will not eradicate it.

100 beetles have been released into a breeding tent set up by Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA) in Avalon. A female can produce an average of 555 eggs. As numbers build up, PNHA expect to release beetles onto infestations in the Pittwater area. PNHA will also aid bushcarers in the eastern suburbs of Sydney by sending some of the beetles across the harbour to aid them in controlling the same weed.

More information is available on the Department of Primary Industries website –

Madiera Vine - courtesy Pittwater Council - Beetle image courtesy Save Our Waterways

 Cooee: Issue 60 - May/June 2015



O-fish-al business

In November 2014 the University of Technology, Sydney began rolling out artificial structures in the form of kitted out milk crates. These crates were attached to the underside of public pontoons around in Sydney’s estuaries, including Pittwater, at McCarrs Creek Reserve and Rowland Reserve. Since then the structures have turned into algae encrusted habitats for a range of juvenile fish species including leatherjacket, blue groper, luderick and even a sea horse!

The project is only five months in and has already shown some interesting results that will assist Pittwater Council in creating an Eco dataset to track fish recruitment on pontoons. The ability to undertake this work has been made possible with funding received from Transport for NSW. What will the researchers find on their next inspection? Only time will tell. Stay tuned for more!

For further enquiries contact Pittwater Council’s Climate Change Adaptation Officer on 9970 1369.


Local residents help restore our headlands

Our recent free native plants and information stall at Warriewood Headland last month was a great success. We received a good response from the local community, many residents receiving local native tubestock to plant on their property.

This program is part of the NSW Environmental Trust “Restoring Pittwater’s Coastal Headland Ecosystems” grant project to help restore four coastal headlands from North Narrabeen through to Mona Vale Headland.

The project aims to help educate the local community about local weeds, native fauna and habitat and the significance of the coastal bushland reserves within this locality.


Ask a sustainability expert Steps to Sustainability Online

Architects, tradies and designers provided free advice on solar, water re-use, green roofs and native plants and native bees last month. Fifty residents took advantage of free 10 minute consultations with our experts.

We also launched the revised edition of “Steps to a Sustainable Home” available online for anyone looking to make improvements to their home and garden.

More information available

Events - May to June 2015

Water bug watch

Saturday 30 May, 10am to 12:30pm

Get involved in the Australian Museum's Streamwatch citizen science program by joining us for this family friendly morning to learn from our local experts about the amazing creatures that live in our creek lines and waterways.

Autumn is a great time to get out there and look for water bugs. Water bugs are a great indicator of the health of our creeks and streams. In May the Australian Museum is supporting groups across Sydney in looking for water bugs as part of the “Water Bug Watch”. Become part of the Pittwater Council and Australian Museums volunteer Streamwatch water monitoring groups and help us to keep our creeks and rivers healthy.

When: Saturday 30 May, 10am to 12:30pm

Where: Meet at the end of Irrawong Road, Warriewood.

Bookings and Information

Online -

In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen

Phone: 1300 000 232

Littoral Rainforest Restoration of Newport Bilgola Escarpment

Join A New Porter Reserve Bushcare Group to Help Re-establish

New grant funding of $25000 from the Greater Sydney Local Land Services has been awarded to Pittwater Council to help in the restoration of Littoral or coastal rainforest at three sites within the Newport Bilgola Escarpment at Porter Reserve, Hamilton Estate and Hewitt Park over the next eight months. These funds will help consolidate and extend on ground works already undertaken by Council within these locations.

Pittwater LGA has a high percentage of Littoral Rainforest compared to other LGA within the Sydney Basin. Many are scattered small pockets with more substantial areas being located within the Newport Bilgola Escarpment. The Vulnerable Powerful Owls are known to frequent this area, roosting, feeding and nesting around the escarpment. More information about Powerful Owls is available

The project will include revegetation at Porter Reserve, of rainforest and coastal species within areas that are severely degraded.

A new Bushcare group has already been established at the southern area of Porter Reserve. This group meets on the 2nd Saturday of each month from 8 to 11am while a second Bushcare group is planned on the northern end of Porter Reserve within the grant location area. A community planting day will be organised in July with the date and time to be confirmed.

If anyone is interested in being part of the project please contact the Bushland Management Officer on 9970 1365.

Tuckshop Workshop

Wednesday 3 June, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Lunchbox Inspirations for busy parents – Lynsey Bradley from Tuckshop will be running a free workshop for Pittwater Council residents.

Typically a high proportion of school lunches end up in the bin. Not only is this bad for the environment, but your child may not be receiving the essential nutrients they need to sustain their energy levels.

Informed by research with over 300 primary school aged children who told us why they throw away their school lunches, this workshop is a great offering for parents who are often stressed about what to pack in the lunchbox that will get eaten, rather than discarded. Understand the different child ‘types’ when it comes to packing a lunchbox and make sure you pack the right food to match the type of child you have!

The workshop includes:

• strategies to encourage healthy eating practices

• keeping kids healthy through food and nutrition

• ideas and recipes for simple, healthy school lunches

• how to pack a waste free lunch

When: Wednesday 3 June, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Cost: Free

Bookings are essential! Please register in advance by calling 9970 1994 or email


World Environment Day 

5th of June, 2015

Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

World Environment Day (WED) is the biggest, most globally celebrated day for positive environmental action. Through WED, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) enables everyone to realise not only the responsibility to care for the Earth, but also reminds one and all of their individual power to become agents of change. Every action counts, and when multiplied by a global chorus, becomes exponential in its impact.

The WED theme this year is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” Living within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future. Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth.

You can find out more about WED 2015 and register an activityHERE

Climate extremes

by CSIRO - published April, 2015

Global climate models project increasing temperatures due to greater concentrations of greenhouse gases. This is likely to lead to more extreme weather events in Australia. This video explores how higher temperatures are likely to affect future changes in extremes and how we can adapt and plan for these changes.

This video has been produced by CSIRO in collaboration with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology with funding from Inspiring Australia.

 Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes

E. M. Fischer  & R. Knutti - Nature Climate Change (2015) doi:10.1038/nclimate2617 

Published online 27 April 2015

Climate change includes not only changes in mean climate but also in weather extremes. For a few prominent heatwaves and heavy precipitation events a human contribution to their occurrence has been demonstrated. Here we apply a similar framework but estimate what fraction of all globally occurring heavy precipitation and hot extremes is attributable to warming. We show that at the present-day warming of 0.85 °C about 18% of the moderate daily precipitation extremes over land are attributable to the observed temperature increase since pre-industrial times, which in turn primarily results from human influence6. For 2 °C of warming the fraction of precipitation extremes attributable to human influence rises to about 40%. Likewise, today about 75% of the moderate daily hot extremes over land are attributable to warming. It is the most rare and extreme events for which the largest fraction is anthropogenic, and that contribution increases nonlinearly with further warming. The approach introduced here is robust owing to its global perspective, less sensitive to model biases than alternative methods and informative for mitigation policy, and thereby complementary to single-event attribution. Combined with information on vulnerability and exposure, it serves as a scientific basis for assessment of global risk from extreme weather, the discussion of mitigation targets, and liability considerations.

 Oil Exploration in Australian Bight Whale Grounds: Andrew's story

By Wilderness Aus: Published 2015

We know the risks, and we know what's at stake. Right now, as the five year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico approaches, BP are exploring for oil in Australia's iconic and pristine Great Australian Bight. 

Together, we can protect Australia's beautiful coastlines and oceans from a potential disaster.

Kangaroo Island is a beautiful place. The thriving local tourism industry is the beating heart of this community, with thousands of people visiting every year to experience incredible marine life like whales, dolphins and seals up close. But now, all of this is under threat as global giant, BP, plans to drill for oil just offshore. Kangaroo Island local, Andrew, shares his story.

 Roundtable consultations post-2020 target begin

Joint media release: 30 April 2015

The Australian Government is continuing the conversation on the setting of Australia's next greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, with a series of roundtable meetings starting in Sydney today.

Ministers Bishop and Hunt will host the first of four stakeholder meetings as part of the Government's broad consultations on Australia's target beyond 2020 - which will be announced mid-year.

Minister Bishop said the Government was committed to taking strong and effective action against climate change and was working hard to deliver an agreement at Paris, in which all countries will participate.

"Paris will be a very important for climate action and we expect countries to reach a global agreement setting out their post-2020 plans," Minister Bishop said.

"Australia's target will reflect our fair contribution to the global response to climate change, taking into account our national circumstances and the actions of our trading partners and other major economies."

Minister Hunt said public understanding and support for Australia's future emissions reduction commitments was essential.

"These meetings will give us an opportunity to better understand views on what emissions reduction commitments Australia should make beyond 2020," Minister Hunt said.

"We've achieved our first round of international targets to 2012, we'll meet or beat our 2020 target, and we'll make a strong contribution to the post-2020 international process and targets."

The meetings will be attended by senior representatives from business, industry, the environment sector, Indigenous organisations and the research and academic communities.

Both Ministers will host another meeting in Perth on 1 May. Mr Hunt will also host meetings in Melbourne on 6 May and Brisbane on 7 May.

The Government recognises the importance of consulting widely on this issue. The meetings follow on from a public consultation process which closes tomorrow. To date the consultation has received over 430 written submissions.

More information is available online

 Australia can cut emissions and grow its economy – report

22 APRIL 2015

Australia can make deep cuts to its carbon emissions and move to full renewable energy for its electricity supply at a relatively low cost, an ANU report has found.

The report, written by Associate Professor Frank Jotzo and PhD scholar Luke Kemp, reviews the evidence from major studies over the past eight years.

It finds that the cost estimates for Australia reaching ambitious emissions reduction goals came down in every successive major report.

"Deep cuts to Australia's emissions can be achieved, at a low cost," said Associate Professor Jotzo, director of the ANU Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy.

Australia has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by five per cent of year 2000 levels by 2020, and is due in coming months to decide on emissions reduction targets for after 2020.

Australia is among the world's highest producers of per-capita carbon emissions, due to a heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation.

Associate Professor Jotzo's report, commissioned by WWF Australia (World Wildlife Fund), found the cost of moving to renewable energy was becoming cheaper, and strong climate action could be achieved while maintaining economic growth.

"At the heart of a low-carbon strategy for Australia is a carbon-free power system," he said.

"Australia has among the best prerequisites in the world for moving to a fully renewable energy electricity supply."

He said the costs of carbon-free technology, such as wind and solar power, have fallen faster than expected.

"For example, large-scale solar panel power stations are already only half the cost that the Treasury's 2008 and 2011 modelling studies estimated they would be in the year 2030," he said.

The report is available at the WWF Australia website. – PDF: 2.91 MB

 Trout spawning season starts 1 May

28 Apr 2015

Anglers in the Snowy Mountains are reminded that the annual trout spawning season commences in the region from Friday 1 May 2015.

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Inland Fisheries Manager, Cameron Westaway, said the annual trout spawning season fishing rules apply to the Thredbo River and its tributaries and the Eucumbene River and its tributaries (upstream of the Lake Eucumbene dam wall and including Providence Portal).

"Restrictions are in place to provide protection for early spawning brown trout," Mr Westaway said.

"The restrictions also provide fishers with the opportunity to catch a trophy sized trout – in particular the Eucumbene River has provided excellent fishing for large brown trout over the past few years."

A minimum size limit of 50cm, daily bag limit of one and possession limit of two trout will apply to these rivers from 1 May to the end of the Queen's Birthday long weekend on Monday 8 June.

"Anglers can use one attended rod and line with up to two hooks with artificial flies or lures and up to three treble hooks attached to any lure is permitted, while any fishing gear rigged for bait fishing is prohibited," Mr Westaway said.

The annual closure on fishing in trout streams for the rest of NSW will be in place from Tuesday 9 June 2015, allowing brown and rainbow trout to breed uninterrupted until the trout fishing season re-opens on the October long weekend on Saturday 3 October 2015. Trout dams remain open to fishing throughout the year.

"When the season opens again in October, a minimum size limit of 25cm, daily bag limit of two and possession limit of four trout will again apply to the Thredbo and Eucumbene Rivers," Mr Westaway said.

"DPI, in conjunction with local acclimatisation societies, has been stocking trout dams and rivers in NSW for many years, however it is important to provide increased protection for brown and rainbow trout during their annual spawning runs."

Fisheries officers will be patrolling the Thredbo and Eucumbene Rivers to ensure that fishers are abiding by these rules.

"The fishing can be fantastic which can attract large numbers of anglers. Fishers should respect each other, fish safely and take any rubbish home," Mr Westaway said.

Detailed information on the fishing rules can be found online or in the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide which is available from DPI fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.

 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.

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. 

 Saving the Grassland earless dragon

By National Parks and Wildlife;Published on 27 Apr 2015

The Grassland earless dragon is one of the country's most endangered reptiles. It's now confined to a handful of known locations on the Monaro in southern NSW and the adjacent Australian Capital Territory. Office of Environment and Heritage scientist Rod Pietsch has been at the forefront of efforts to conserve the species.

 A new future for corals: Persistence and change in coral reef communities

April 27, 2015 - Coral reefs, true reservoirs of biodiversity, are seriously threatened by human activities and climate change. Consequently, their extinction has often been heralded. Now, researchers are painting a less gloomy picture: the planet's reefs are not doomed to disappear. But they will be very different from the ones we presently know. A new coral fauna will emerge, coming from the species that are most resistant to temperature increases.

Some reefs are recovering

Are coral reefs condemned to disappear? During the first decade of the 21st century, the intensification of cyclones, the phenomenon of coral bleaching due to ocean warming, outbreaks of a coral-eating starfish and coral diseases left us with this fear. But today, scientists are revising their pessimistic forecasts from the previous decade. In fact, recent research works show that, while numerous coral species have indeed been declining for more than 30 years, other are holding firm or even increasing in abundance. Consequently, some reefs have recently managed to recover.

Expanding coral genera

During a vast international study over fifteen years, IRD researchers and their partners observed the ecological development of seven coral reefs throughout the world: two in the Caribbean, in Belize and in the American Virgin Islands, and five throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean in Kenya, Taiwan, Hawaii, Moorea and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Consequently, the scientists have shown the increase of certain genera, like the Porites reef corals, real reef builders that can resist temperature rises well.

They have also put these recent changes into perspective with regard to past events recorded in fossil reefs, showing that the abundance and structure of coral populations have already varied greatly over the course of past millennia.

Towards new underwater landscapes

These new data have enabled them to refine their mathematical models and to revise their forecasts for the coming decades. As ocean temperatures continue to rise, a subset of "winning" species will thrive: those that have the greatest heat tolerance, the best population growth rates or the greatest longevity. These species should progressively populate the planet's reefs, until they dominate them entirely.

Consequently, the underwater landscapes of the future will be very different to the ones that have been known for millennia. However, much remains to be discovered regarding this new coral fauna and its features. One question in particular remains: will these new eco-systems continue to meet the needs of the populations who depend on them?

Peter J. Edmunds, Mehdi Adjeroud, Marissa L. Baskett, Iliana B. Baums, Ann F. Budd, Robert C. Carpenter, Nicholas S. Fabina, Tung-Yung Fan, Erik C. Franklin, Kevin Gross, Xueying Han, Lianne Jacobson, James S. Klaus, Tim R. McClanahan, Jennifer K. O'Leary, Madeleine J. H. van Oppen, Xavier Pochon, Hollie M. Putnam, Tyler B. Smith, Michael Stat, Hugh Sweatman, Robert van Woesik, Ruth D. Gates. Persistence and Change in Community Composition of Reef Corals through Present, Past, and Future Climates. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (10): e107525 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107525

 Draft National Recovery Plan for the Southern Bent-wing Bat Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii

Linda F. Lumsden and Micaela L. Jemison, 2015

Public comment

You are invited to comment on this draft recovery plan in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The public comment period closes 1 July 2015.

If you wish to comment on this draft plan, please send your comments, quoting the title of the plan, to:


Mail: Terrestrial Threatened Species Section, Protected Species and Communities Branch, Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division, Department of the Environment, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601

About this document

This document constitutes the draft National Recovery Plan for the Southern Bent-wing Bat Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii. The recovery plan sets out the research and management actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, the threatened Southern Bent-wing Bat. The Southern Bent-wing Bat is listed as critically endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 in Victoria where it is considered critically endangered and listed as endangered under theNational Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 in South Australia. It is also listed as endangered in the Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012, under the revised taxonomic name of Miniopterus orianae bassanii. The long-term recovery objective is to ensure that the Southern Bent-wing Bat can survive, flourish and retain its potential for evolutionary development in the wild.

Documents at HERE

 Your chance to comment on plan to tackle feral cat threat

Department of the Environment: Media release, 9 April 2015

Feral cats threaten the survival of over 100 native species in Australia, and now is your chance to have your say on how best to reduce their impact.

The Department of the Environment is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to its national threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats.

Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews said the latest version of the plan sets out a national framework to guide and coordinate Australia’s response to the biggest single threat to our mammals.

“If you’re an Australian animal that’s small and spends time on the ground, feral cats are enemy number one. We need to look at different ways to stop feral cats pushing native mammals, reptiles, frogs and ground-dwelling birds to extinction, and that’s why this plan is important. It’s critical for iconic animals such as bilbies, bandicoots and wallabies, and the science shows even falcons and platypuses are now at risk from feral cats,” Mr Andrews said.

“The new draft plan recognises there have been significant advances in feral cat research and control since the current plan was adopted in 2008. The use of remote sensing cameras and GPS tracking collars have made monitoring easier, and new baits will provide extra tools to control feral cats. We’ve eradicated feral cats from three Australian islands (Tasman Island, Faure Island and Macquarie Island) and are working towards that goal on two more (Christmas Island and Dirk Hartog Island).”

There’s a greater emphasis in the revised plan on:

having a feral cat bait available for use across all conservation areas in Australia

researching how fire and grazing practice can change native vegetation and impact on feral cats’ ability to hunt effectively

investigating further the role of diseases like toxoplasmosis spread by feral cats and how it passes on and affects native species, and

eradicating feral cats from islands and establishing more fenced reserves free from feral cats to protect threatened species under pressure from feral cats.

“We want to effectively control feral cats in different environments, develop alternative strategies for threatened species recovery, and increase public support for feral cat management.

“Later this month, the Department and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre will hold a national feral cat workshop in Canberra, where Australia’s leading feral cat experts will advise the department on performance indicators for tackling the impact of feral cats and present their latest research.

“I’ll be attending and expect the workshop will feed valuable comments and ideas into the revised draft of the plan. I am especially interested in ideas and comments on hard and measurable targets for reducing the impacts of feral cats. There will be plenty of opportunity for others to provide input as well, with the plan open for comment until 8 July 2015,” Mr Andrews said.

Find out how you can make a submission on the plan at Draft varied Threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats

 Zero bag limit for Australian bass and estuary perch starts 1 May

28 Apr 2015

Fishers are reminded a closure on taking Australian bass and estuary perch from all rivers and estuaries in NSW will be in place from 1 May, for a four-month period.

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Inland Fisheries Manager, Cameron Westaway, said the annual zero bag limit period has been extended to protect early migrating species.

"The zero bag limit will be in place from May to August, to protect these important native fish species while they spawn," Mr Westaway said.

"Both Australian bass and estuary perch form schools and migrate to parts of estuaries with the correct salinity to trigger spawning.

"These great native sports fish can be vulnerable to fishing when they are in large groups – hence the reason for the closure."

Mr Westaway said the zero bag limit does not apply to Australian bass and estuary perch caught in freshwater impoundments and dams, as they do not breed in these areas.

"All fish in freshwater impoundments, including Glenbawn Dam and Glennies Creek Dam in the Hunter Valley, Brogo Dam near Bega and Clarrie Hall and Toonumbar Dams in the northeast are stocked fisheries, meaning anglers may continue to fish for these species in those waters all year round," Mr Westaway said.

"It's worth noting the zero bag limit closure for rivers and estuaries does permit catch and release of these species during the spawning closure.

"The zero bag limit does not close any waters to fishing and does not affect anglers fishing for other estuary species, such as bream of flathead.

"However, any Australian bass or estuary perch caught must be immediately returned to the water with the least possible injury."

DPI fisheries officers will be patrolling bass waters during the zero bag limit period to advise anglers on the fishing rules and enforce size and bag limits for other species.

Detailed information on fishing rules can be found in the NSW DPI Recreational Fishing Guides, at DPI Fisheries offices, and at most bait and tackle stores.

Anglers should check they have a current NSW Recreational Fishing Fee, available from more than 1000 agents, including bait and tackle stores, on 1300 369 365 or online 

 Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby documentary launching in Kangaroo Valley 

Media release: 30 April 2015

Members of the public, near and far, are invited to the launch of a new documentary about the efforts, over two decades, of a Kangaroo Valley community group to help save the endangered Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby.

The launch of the documentary is on Saturday, May 16, at 4:30pmat the Kangaroo Valley Village Hall, followed by refreshments and live music. The film was produced for the Friends of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage using a NSW Environmental Trust Grant.

The Friends of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby was established in 1995 after community members alerted the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to a diminishing number of Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies within the Valley.

Subsequent surveys by the NPWS revealed a handful of rock-wallabies survived in the Shoalhaven and were in danger of disappearing altogether because they were being preyed upon by foxes. So the Friends worked with NPWS in starting a coordinated fox control program which continues today.

President of Friends Ms Chris Pryor believes the film highlights the unique partnership between the Friends of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, the NPWS and the local community, and their dedication over 20 years ensuring the conservation of this endangered species.

“The documentary shows footage of local conservation measures such as multi-tenure fox control programs and a captive breeding and release program. The film is a tribute to all the work that has been done by many dedicated individuals over 20 years,” Ms Pryor said.

“This enjoyable film shows footage of the enigmatic Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies in their natural habitat as well as sweeping views of the valley itself.

“Interviews with Friends members, community members and NPWS staff are featured throughout the film and we are excited to share this knowledge and experience with the broader community.

“The film makes it very clear that had the Friends of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby not formed 20 years ago and worked with NPWS in starting a coordinated fox control program, there would be no Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies in the Kangaroo Valley today. The ongoing support and participation of the local community in the fox baiting and shooting program has been vital to this success”.

The Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby is listed as ‘endangered’ under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

The Friends of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby aim to raise support for, and public awareness of, the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, to raise funds for projects aimed at recovering the species and to promote the control of feral species impacting on rock-wallabies. The Friends hope the documentary will help with this important cause.

Please visit the website to find out more about the group. A tax deductible donation can also be made on the site: link

“Come along and help us celebrate our 20 year anniversary and the launch of this wonderful documentary.”

 "On the edge" 

By NSW National Parks: Published on 27 Apr 2015

Coming soon - to be launched May 16

Twenty years ago the small rural community of Kangaroo Valley, south of Sydney, discovered a handful of endangered Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies were just hanging on in the face of fox and cat predation. Without action it was a virtual certainty the wallabies would be wiped out in the valley. A handful of local residents formed the Friends of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and started working with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to see if something could be done to ensure the wallabies survived into the future. Twenty years down the track "On the edge" looks at what happened and why the Brush-tailed Rock- wallaby lives on in Kangaroo Valley. Produced for the Friends of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and supported by a NSW Environment Trust grant.

 Cumberland Conservation Corridor plan delivers election commitment and 700 hectares of bushland rehabilitation and protection

Joint media release: 28 April 2015

The Australian Government will restore or protect approximately 700 hectares of Cumberland Plains woodlands through future land covenants, land acquisition and activities under the Green Army and the 20 Million Trees Programme.

This builds on the approximately 3,000 hectares of land permanently protected for conservation by the New South Wales Government.

The Australian Government is delivering on its election commitment to establish a Cumberland Conservation Corridor through three actions.

First, applications have been opened for grants to plant one million trees and rehabilitate 400 hectares within the Cumberland Conservation Corridor as part of the 20 million trees programme.

Second, fifteen Green Army teams will restore over 250 hectares of habitat in the Cumberland Conservation Corridor.

Third, the remaining part of the 700 hectares will be placed under conservation covenants through Commonwealth purchases and this land will be held in public hands forever. The first of these purchases, nearly six hectares of the highest conservation quality woodland in Londonderry, was announced today.

"Our support for the Cumberland Conservation Corridor recognises the importance of protecting remnant habitat and urban forests within and around our cities, particularly in Greater Western Sydney," Minister Hunt said.

"We are investing $15 million to protect threatened land under conservation covenants, send in the Green Army and provide funding for the community to plant one million trees on this land."

"We are undertaking a range of actions as part of our commitment to preserve urban green spaces in Western Sydney for future generations."

The natural and cultural heritage values of two blocks of land in Londonderry, near Penrith will be protected in perpetuity under conservation covenants.

"This land has been virtually untouched for the past 30 years and is in very good condition. Large trees and logs provide habitat for native wildlife, and more than 30 bird species have been identified in the area," Minister Hunt said.

Federal Member for Lindsay, Fiona Scott MP, said there are few available areas of land with high conservation value around Penrith.

"The protection of this land, which is an area equivalent to four Sydney Cricket grounds, is a major boost for conservation and for the many local people who are committed to preserving green spaces in the area," Ms Scott said.

Federal Member for Macquarie, Louise Markus MP said green corridors such as the one across the Cumberland Plains are important for protecting valuable habitat.

"Urban green spaces connect communities to the environment and improve the liveability of our cities. The people of Western Sydney are passionate about protecting their environment and I am proud that the Australian Government is delivering on our election promise," Mrs Markus said.

Funding is being provided by the Australian Government and the land will be managed by the Nature Conservation Trust and Conservation Volunteers Australia, in close co-operation with the state government agencies and Mulgoa Landcare.

Lisa Harrold from Mulgoa Landcare welcomed the significant announcement today.

"This is the single biggest initiative in terms of conservation in Western Sydney. The Federal Government has committed to conserving the most important remnants and this will ensure the protection of our native plants and animals into the future," Lisa Harrold said.

"The community is so grateful for the Government's involvement and financial investment in conserving the beauty of Western Sydney for future generations."

The local area is also receiving a boost with fifteen Green Army teams to be sent to the area to protect and restore habitat in the Cumberland Corridor.

"These projects recognise the significant social, economic and environmental values of Western Sydney. They will increase the resilience of the threatened Cumberland Plains woodlands and enhance the long-term survival and protection of several nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities," Mr Hunt said.

"The Green Army Teams will be removing debris, undertaking pest surveys, assessments and management, fencing, flora surveys, revegetation works and treating weeds. These activities also provide meaningful skills and training to the young people from Western Sydney working in these teams."

"The Australian Government is committed to planting 20 Million Trees by 2020 to re-establish green corridors and urban forests in urban and regional Australia. One million of these trees will be planted in the Cumberland Corridor, through a competitive programme round announced and open today."

Community and Landcare groups, councils and schools are invited to apply for grants of between $100,000 and $3 million from the 20 Million Trees Programme for tree planting and revegetation projects to conserve the Cumberland Plain and preserve important habitat for future generations.

Initiatives such as the Cumberland Conservation Corridor are dependent on the commitment and hard work of groups on the ground delivering high quality conservation outcomes.

"The people of Western Sydney are fortunate to have the active and skilful involvement from groups including Mulgoa Landcare, the Nature Conservation Trust and Conservation Volunteers Australia - all committed long-term partners in the Cumberland Corridors initiative," he said.

More information about the 20 Million Trees Programme is available at


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Register Today and set up your page for The Winter Blanket Challenge 2015 today.’s aim is to start a Conversation about Conservation using the beard as the talking point. You can be part of this movement by growing your very own Winter Blanket for free in support of conservation and help raise $20,000 for Landcare Australia to plant native Australian trees.

Starting your beard on the 1st June and finishing on the 31st August, you will have the opportunity to create a very warm winter blanket for your face and raise funds at the same time! It’s free to grow and you will save a lot of money on shavers for three months! Already got a beard? Great! Get it sponsored and keep on growing!

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 Bigger bang for your buck: Restoring fish habitat by removing barriers

April 28, 2015 - A few years ago, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology created the first map of all the road crossings and dams blocking the tributary rivers that feed the five Great Lakes. These tributaries serve as migratory highways, providing fish like walleye and lake sturgeon access to headwater breeding grounds.

"It painted a pretty horrifying picture of what it's like to be a fish in the Great Lakes Basin," says Peter McIntyre, an assistant professor in the center, who led that study. "Seven out of eight river miles are completely inaccessible to the fish."

A new study from the same multidisciplinary team, published April 27 in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes a powerful new model to help decision makers maximize the cost-effectiveness of barrier removal projects that also restore migratory fish habitat. Recent years have seen growing efforts to chip away at the 7,000 dams and 230,000 road crossings that disrupt the basin's 661 tributaries.

Notes Tom Neeson, a postdoctoral researcher at CFL and lead author of the study, "If you're going to spend money on barrier removal projects, isn't it critical to know which projects are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck?"

For example, a $70 million investment to remove 299 dams and 180 road crossings -- coordinated across the entire Great Lakes Basin -- could double the amount of habitat accessible to migratory fish, the model finds. That is roughly the amount spent for such projects over the last decade, but until now decision makers have lacked tools for systematically comparing potential projects, the researchers say.

"The bottom line is, you don't have to spend that much money to get a massive return in terms of the amount of habitat accessible for fish," says McIntyre.

As the model matures, its creators say it could ultimately be used to reduce risk of species invasions, plan around aging infrastructure, and account for ongoing climate changes.

The research team recently used the model to launch a free, online tool, called Fishwerks, to help select barrier removal projects that open more fish habitat at lower cost. The team includes Michael Ferris, a UW-Madison professor of computer sciences and optimization leader at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID); Matthew Diebel of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR); Patrick Doran at The Nature Conservancy (TNC); and Jesse O'Hanley at the University of Kent.

"This is one of the pieces I am most excited about," says Diebel, a research scientist at the DNR who completed his postdoctoral research at CFL. "A lot of tools don't get used because they can't be accessed by decision makers."

Overall, the study examined the value of efforts coordinated both in time and in space to open more riverine highways for migrating fish, which contribute to a $7 billion annual recreational fishing industry in the Great Lakes Basin, which spans the U.S.-Canadian border.

Marrying high-quality data with high-power computing, the researchers found that for a given amount of money, barrier removal projects coordinated across the entire basin are nine times more cost-effective than projects completed at county or local watershed levels.

For example, the doubling of habitat achieved through a coordinated $70 million investment would cost $690 million if funding was distributed equally across all tributaries. Coordination at national or even individual lake levels was virtually as efficient as efforts coordinated throughout the Great Lakes.

"It works fine for decisions about Lake Michigan and Lake Superior to be fairly independent of one another," says McIntyre. "But as soon as you get below that level of coordination -- to the county or watershed scale where a lot of decisions are made -- the funding gets spread too thinly, and the model shows you're going to underperform drastically."

The study also showed that annual distribution of funds over a decade is 10 times less efficient than a single payout of the same amount.

McIntyre illustrates this with an example: "You can give a fishery manager a chunk of funding from a major restoration initiative, but if in year one she can't afford to tackle the dam at the mouth of the river, then what good is it to upgrade an affordable road crossing upstream when all the fish are still bumping their noses against the dam?"

While coordinating projects can present challenges, it is not unprecedented in this region, where diverse partnerships under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission have been very successful, the researchers say. Major restoration efforts have also been coordinated under the Obama administration's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has provided almost $1.4 billion since 2010.

Efforts need not be top-down, either, Neeson says. For example, individual watershed groups can use the same modeling tools to meet their own objectives while contributing to ecological improvements for the entire lake.

That could mean some groups decide not to spend funds for their own projects, in favor of projects elsewhere that may lead to greater benefits overall.

For example, conservation groups in one watershed may decide that sending their funds to another nearby watershed to remove a critical barrier may actually be the wisest investment, explains McIntyre.

"It's a trade-off between efficiency and equity, where you're distributing funds so everyone has a piece of the pie," says Diebel. "We have to be willing to say we're not going to work on this issue in my backyard because there is a better-value option elsewhere."

Additionally, Neeson says the model could be used to help combine distinct types of efforts to save money, such as merging fish needs with infrastructure priorities.

"If you can get conservation folks talking to the Department of Transportation folks, there may be opportunities to do fish passage projects during road maintenance projects and piggy-back conservation and construction at lower net cost," he says.

Doran, director of conservation for TNC-Michigan Chapter, says their work demonstrates "the immense value of collaboration in conducting these restoration efforts," while also highlighting the importance of restoring river connectivity in the region.

The team walked through a scenario on Fishwerks, the development of which was supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The site is hosted on WID servers and the interface is a Google Earth-style map, labeled with dams and road crossings, while filters and menu options allow for customized tasks.

"You can zoom in and out, compare different scenarios, look at this budget versus that budget or this lake versus that lake," McIntrye said as he navigated the site. "The information is now in the hands of anyone who wants to use it."

The researchers say the model will continue to improve with more data, which in turn will amplify the power of Fishwerks. Ferris notes the tool currently supports a crowdsourcing feature they call the "Wild West" where authenticated users can contribute their own data, helping to refine the database available to all users.

"The models we run tomorrow will be better because they will be educated by better data," he says. "Can we extend this model to more complex cases? Can we move forward to help with the more pressing issues the scientists don't know how to deal with or need new ideas to address?"

For example, while barriers have kept migratory fish from reaching ideal spawning grounds, many have also kept out invasive species and pathogens.

"This paper is step one," says Ferris. "Our new work is about good fish and bad fish now. We want the good fish to get to the places they need so they can breed, but we also want to limit the bad fish."

1. Thomas M. Neeson, Michael C. Ferris, Matthew W. Diebel, Patrick J. Doran, Jesse R. O’hanley, and Peter B. Mcintyre. Enhancing ecosystem restoration efficiency through spatial and temporal coordination. PNAS, April 2015 DOI:10.1073/pnas.1423812112

Above: The Two Hearted River, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Restoration efforts in the Two Hearted River Watershed include the removal of impassable road culverts to restore aquatic ecosystem connectivity. Credit: Drew Kelly for The Nature Conservancy

 Blue Star Sustainability Awards - Keep NSW Beautiful

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:

Climate change will affect vulnerable Australian people’s health most: Australian Academy of Science.

30 April 2015

The elderly, the sick, the very young and disadvantaged Australians are most likely to suffer health problems as the climate changes, according to a new report released today by the Australian Academy of Science.

Climate Change Challenges to Health: Risks and Opportunities has been endorsed by the Australian Medical Association. It examines the five major pressures on health that Australia will face as global temperatures rise and climates change. They include the health impacts of extreme weather events, changing patterns of disease, disruptions to food and water supplies, loss of livelihoods and increased threats to security.

The report found that these will exert the highest pressure on those people who are already the most vulnerable.

The report makes eight high-level recommendations for Australia to alleviate these impacts and better adapt to a changing climate. They include:

•    Measures to identify those most at risk and create programs and early warning systems to prevent adverse health impacts for the sick, the elderly, the poor, and people living in remote communities

•    Better national coordination of adaptation strategies through a new National Centre for Disease Control and a new National Food and Water Commission

•    Encouraging individuals and organisations to take early action to help those affected in their communities

The report and its 22 detailed recommendations are based on discussions between world experts and 60 early- and mid-career researchers at a Think Tank convened by the Academy with support from the Theo Murphy (Australia) Fund in Brisbane last year.  

Read (PDF 921 kb):  Climate Change Challenges to Health: Risks and Opportunities

Executive summary

By the end of the century, global temperatures are likely to have risen by at least 2°C compared with pre-industrial times. No nation will be immune to the resulting changes in the world’s weather patterns and as international negotiations aimed at reducing future carbon emissions continue to have limited success, it would be rash for any country to fail to plan to meet the consequent challenges to their infrastructure and citizens. For Australia, one of the most important concerns is the health of its people.

This report summarises the discussions and recommendations of a group of early- and mid-career researchers from a broad range of relevant disciplines who came together in July 2014 to consider climate challenges in relation to health in Australia. Five main impacts were considered.

Extreme weather events. These include heatwaves, droughts, storms, cyclones and floods. These will have direct impacts on lives, homes and communities, and will also place stress on the mental wellbeing of members of the community during prolonged events such as intense heatwaves.

Disease. Many diseases are likely to spread and increase in incidence as the climate warms. A growing human population with high rates of interconnectedness is also at risk from newly emergent and exotic diseases for which we have no treatment or immunity.

Food and water. Disrupted supplies of water and high temperatures will stress crops and promote algal blooms in reservoirs while rising ocean acidification will affect fisheries.

Jobs. Livelihoods—including farming, fishing and tourism—will be particularly badly affected from soaring temperatures, droughts and storms. Employment patterns will be changed and disruptions to supply chains will threaten businesses.

Security. Threatened food supply chains, changing patterns of infectious diseases, and forced migration from land rendered uninhabitable will trigger tension, unrest and violent conflict.

The report also makes it clear that those who suffer the worst effects of climate change will, in general, be the most vulnerable members of society—in particular, the sick, the elderly, the very young and the poor. Others at risk will include pregnant and breastfeeding women and those who are socially, culturally or linguistically isolated. Research should therefore be enhanced to increase our knowledge about climate change’s most likely victims and to improve management solutions aimed at helping them. There is a lack of information about less visible minority groups including the homeless, drug users and migrant groups, and this should be addressed. Information of this kind could help create a portfolio of research that can be used to improve the overall wellbeing of Australia.

Many of the concerns addressed by the different groups who produced the report have considerable overlap. The issues of disease and food and water supply provide an example of this intertwining. Rising temperatures will promote pathogen dispersion and algal blooms in water supplies. Food quality and safety will also be affected directly and indirectly by increasing temperatures, potentially changing the nutrient content of food and increasing the cost and complexity of ensuring safety standards. Adverse impacts on food production will then lead to higher prices and reduced access to nutrition, particularly in disadvantaged or remote communities. This, in turn, will make individuals more vulnerable to disease, in particular to new pathogens that might be spread by vectors, such as mosquitoes that thrive as temperatures rise.

There should therefore be a commitment to create more interdisciplinary approaches in the development of our knowledge about climate change and its many interconnected impacts on Australia and the health of Australians. Key issues that should be covered include poverty, migration, conflict, jobs, security and demographic change as well as specific forecasts about likely physical outcomes, including particular types of pathogens that may affect the country, and the effect of climate change on water supplies. Another important concern for the authors was the need to address how expert advice can best be communicated to governments and their agencies and to the broader community.

The impact of climate change in Australia is likely to vary considerably according to region. Drier conditions are expected to prevail in the southern half of the continent, affecting water supply in cities. Reduced rainfall is also likely to affect Australia’s food bowl, the Murray–Darling Basin, which may become more susceptible to pests, crop diseases and reduced water quality and volume. In addition, rising ocean temperatures and acidity will irreversibly damage key marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, and affect fisheries. Regional food security issues will therefore have implications for Australia.

Internationally, threats to human security and population health will be magnified in low-income countries that are more vulnerable to climate change effects, for example Pacific Island nations. Problems will include erosion of livelihoods; food insecurity; sea-level rise; extreme weather events; increased risk of rivalry and violent conflict within other nations; and migration and population displacement caused by depletion of resources and degradation of ecosystems required to sustain life.

Australia has an important role to play in the Asia–Pacific region, and will not be able to insulate itself completely from the effects of climate change on its neighbours. In such circumstances, Australian military personnel may become engaged in foreign conflicts, peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions, with risks to their physical and mental health. Research into the determinants of peace and how to avoid conflict could be strengthened and allow Australia to play a constructive role in the region without endangering its military personnel.

Major recommendations

The five different groups of experts involved in writing this report made a total of 22 recommendations. They are listed throughout the document and combined below as eight high-level recommendations. All the recommendations should be examined in the context of the evidence provided in each section; they are put forward as being critical in ensuring Australia is properly prepared for the challenges that climate change will pose to the nation’s health.


A clear message highlighted by all the groups was that some people in Australia will be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than others. The ill and frail are at particular risk from heatwaves, for example, while poor and socially deprived individuals may suffer disproportionately from disruption to water and food supplies, particularly in remote areas and among socially diverse communities. Establishing systems to monitor the health of these individuals should be considered a priority. This process should also focus on understanding the factors that lead to people becoming vulnerable to climate-related health effects in the first place. This will help define and implement appropriate long-term strategies to deal with the future impacts of climate change.


There should be a coordination of assessments of the different threats posed by climate change and also the nation’s responses to them. In particular, there should be a properly established research agenda that focuses on the various ways that climate change will affect the nation, especially the frail and elderly.


In addition to coordinating research programs, there should be an improvement in communication about the dangers that lie ahead and about the need to take actions to avoid specific threats. Early warning systems for various risks (bushfires, floods, droughts) should be coordinated and an understanding gained into why some people choose to ignore warnings. In addition, basic education should be improved in order to achieve broad support for future long-term strategies adopted by the government to counter the effects of climate change.


More interdisciplinary approaches into the development of our knowledge about climate change should be created in order to help understand the various ways that it will affect the health of the nation. Key issues to be covered should include poverty, migration, conflict, jobs, security and demographic change.


There should be a reversal of the downward trend in public investment in agricultural extension and in relevant research and development. High priority should be given to establishing a Food and Water Commission, which would plan for control of future health problems related to food and water, and to setting up an Australian Centre for Disease Control. The latter would unify surveillance, coordinate responses and direct research initiatives in relation to new diseases that will affect the country as global warming takes effect. National coordination is key in these areas. The incorporation of climate–health issues into community development and building design should also be tackled.


Mechanisms should be put in place to make it easier to access information. At present there are long delays in acquiring mortality data—for example during heatwaves—which hampers emergency responses and also slows down the development of long-term strategies. In addition, a great deal of health, agricultural and water data is not made available online at present, and is often insufficient for comprehensive analysis. Proper access, linkage and coordination of such information are vital for the future.


The potential impact of climate change on human health will require complex responses from society—which reinforces the need for Australia to pursue the goal of national and international reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases.


There is no need to wait for the government to act. Individuals, communities, local councils, schools, universities and others should be encouraged to take early action to identify those vulnerable to climate change in their area and support them. In this respect, social media could play a critical role in the future.

 Population and birth rates: Claims about decline of the West are 'exaggerated'

April 27, 2015 - A new paper by Oxford researchers argues that some countries in Western Europe, and the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand now have birth rates that are now relatively close to replacement, that the underlying trend in Europe is upwards, and that population aging, although inevitable, is likely to be 'manageable'.

The publication in the journal, Population Studies, by Professor David Coleman and Associate Professor Stuart Basten, provides a more optimistic demographic picture of the future in the West, in contrast to the commonly accepted narrative. Much has been written about the Death of the West: how declining birth rates, falling populations, and population aging will reduce Europe and end the supremacy of the US while Asian superpowers, such as China and India, see their economies grow to match their huge populations.

The authors say while the West and the English speaking world will have to accept some 'painful adjustments', the population time-bomb scenario is simply wrong. It points out that although the Western economies have difficulties with the rising costs of pension entitlement for its aging populations, societies are adapting through increases in retirement age and other measures. Countries in the developing world, however, are facing a variety of different challenges. It argues that these have been understated; in some cases persistent substantial population growth, in others rapid fertility decline leading to severe levels of population aging. In many of these societies, political and social instability makes adjustment difficult.

On the other hand, many countries in Western Europe have reasonably favourable demographic trends that are 'more stable and sustainable than supposed' (with total fertility rates between 1.8-2.1). In countries such as the UK, robust birth rates combined with record immigration ensure that population decline is not on the agenda and indeed that population growth has become a problem, argues the paper. Western countries, for all their difficulties, benefit from established civil society, functioning democracy, the rule of law, relatively high levels of trust in political institutions, and some degree of equality between the sexes, it suggests.

By contrast, half the world's populations now live in countries where the birth rate is below replacement, including Brazil, Iran, Turkey and the southern half of India, says the paper. It suggests Brazil, Iran, Thailand and Indonesia may face decades of below replacement fertility, an experience already familiar to China. It says the birth rates may fall in many of these populations to a level lower than that in much of Europe and the USA, because of the slow pace of change of traditional patriarchal society and the sexual inequality that goes with it. That may lead to substantial population aging before the economy becomes mature enough to support its aging population.

The paper adds that other countries with large populations or rapid demographic change will experience particular problems as they are likely to have to deal with a deteriorating environment brought on by climate change. India's growing population, soon to become the biggest in the world, faces challenges of resource sustainability made worse by its vulnerability to climate change, the paper argues. Fast developing countries with rapidly falling fertility rates also face the prospect of having to support a faster aging population, becoming old before they are rich. Other problems are more cultural and institutional, it says, as few of these countries are developed democracies with high quality justice systems and civil society, and pervasive corruption threatens their political stability. The paper argues that these factors hamper the ability of countries to react to demographic change.

Co-author Professor David Coleman from the University of Oxford said: 'Much has been written about the 'Death of the West', with its threatened demise reportedly due to the low level of reproduction in Western countries. We show that this so-called decline has been exaggerated and trends in European fertility have been misunderstood. With immigration, fertility rates have gone up in many European and English-speaking countries. India and China and other fast growing economies have their problems too. Fast rising populations in developing economies do not equate with future success as demographic changes are difficult to absorb if they happen too rapidly. Countries with mature social and political systems will find such transitions easier to bear.'

Co-author and Associate Professor Stuart Basten said: 'Many commentators focus on China as the future global superpower -- ever growing in economic and political stature. However, China risks falling into a low-fertility trap coupled with severe levels of population aging. Even when allowed two children, couples prefer one child, with my research showing that this attitude has been reinforced by the urban conditions that families are forced to adjust to and policies that are not family-friendly. Both East and West have their separate different challenges which may mean painful periods of adjustment for everyone concerned.'

1. David Coleman, Stuart Basten. The Death of the West: An alternative view. Population Studies, 2015; 69 (sup1): S107 DOI:10.1080/00324728.2014.970401

 The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery

by The Lancet TV: Published on 27 Apr 2015

Find out more: here

Five billion people worldwide do not have access to safe and affordable surgery and anaesthesia when they need it, and millions of people are dying from common, easily treatable conditions like appendicitis, fractures, or obstructed labour as a result according to a new Commission published in The Lancet. 

As many as nine out of ten people care in low-income and lower-middle income countries cannot access basic surgical.

But this situation can be turned around in two decades if the international community wakes up to the enormous scale of the problem, and commits to the provision of better global surgical and anaesthesia care worldwide says the report.

 Brain differences seen in children with dyslexia, dysgraphia

April 28, 2015 - University of Washington research shows that using a single category of learning disability to qualify students with written language challenges for special education services is not scientifically supported. Some students only have writing disabilities, but some have both reading and writing disabilities.

The study, published online in NeuroImage: Clinical, is among the first to identify structural white matter and functional gray matter differences in the brain between children with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and between those children and typical language learners. The researchers say the findings underscore the need to provide instruction tailored to each of these specific learning disabilities, though that is currently not mandated under federal or state law.

"This shows that there's a brain basis for these different disabilities," said co-author Virginia Berninger, a psychologist who heads the UW Learning Disabilities Center, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "So they require different diagnoses, and different instruction. We've got to start acknowledging this."

The study involved 40 children in grades 4 to 9, including 17 diagnosed with dyslexia -- persisting difficulty with word reading and spelling -- and 14 diagnosed with dysgraphia, persisting difficulty with handwriting, along with nine typical language learners. The children were asked to write the next letter in the alphabet following a letter they were shown, to write the missing letter in a word spelling, to rest without any task, and to plan a text about astronauts.

The children used a fiber-optic pen developed at the UW that allowed researchers to record their writing in real time while their active brain connections were measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI.

The three groups differed from each other in written language and cognitive tasks. The control group had more white matter connections, which facilitate functional connections in gray matter for language processing and cognitive thinking. By contrast, children with dyslexia and dysgraphia showed less white matter connections and more functional connections to gray matter locations -- in other words, their brains had to work harder to accomplish the same tasks.

"Their brains were less efficient for language processing," said lead author Todd Richards, a UW professor of radiology.

The results, Berninger said, show that the two specific learning disabilities are not the same because the white matter connections and patterns and number of gray matter functional connections were not the same in the children with dyslexia and dysgraphia -- on either the writing or cognitive thinking tasks.

Federal law guarantees a free and appropriate public education to children with learning disabilities, but does not require that specific types of learning disabilities are diagnosed, or that schools provide evidence-based instruction for dyslexia or dysgraphia. Consequently, the two conditions are lumped together under a general category for learning disabilities, Berninger said, and many schools do not recognize them or offer specialized instruction for either one.

"There's just this umbrella category of learning disability," said Berninger. "That's like saying if you're sick you qualify to see a doctor, but without specifying what kind of illness you have, can the doctor prescribe appropriate treatment?"

"Many children struggle in school because their specific learning disabilities are not identified and they are not provided appropriate instruction," Berninger said. Recent UW research published in February in Computers & Education shows that computerized instruction has tremendous potential to help time-strapped teachers in regular classrooms provide such instruction for children with dyslexia and dysgraphia, but only if they are correctly diagnosed.

"Dyslexia and dysgraphia are not the only kinds of learning disabilities. One in five students in the United States may have some kind of a specific learning disability," Berninger said. "We just can't afford to put 20 percent of children in special education classes. There just aren't the dollars."

1. T.L. Richards, T.J. Grabowski, P. Boord, K. Yagle, M. Askren, Z. Mestre, P. Robinson, O. Welker, D. Gulliford, W. Nagy, V. Berninger. Contrasting brain patterns of writing-related DTI parameters, fMRI connectivity, and DTI–fMRI connectivity correlations in children with and without dysgraphia or dyslexia. NeuroImage: Clinical, 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.nicl.2015.03.018

 Impulsive, angry personalities more prone to aggressive driving, accidents, study finds

April 28, 2015 - Past research has suggested that people with impulsive, angry personality traits run a higher risk of engaging in aggressive driving behavior than people without those characteristics, and a new study for the first time confirms those earlier findings. The new research - which contributes to understanding the significant problem of belligerent driving - could be used in designing traffic safety campaigns that more effectively train aggressive drivers to alter their behavior, according to the researchers.

Drivers who are readily angered by slower drivers, detours and similar traffic disruptions could be taught to become more aware of their responses and modify them to reduce accident risks, according to the authors. For example, they could be taught to be more mindful of the traffic conditions likely to trigger their anger and to focus on other less aggravating traffic factors. The new study, "Trait predictors of aggression and crash-related behaviors across drivers from the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic" -- by Amanda N. Stephens of the Accident Research Centre, Monash University, Australia, and Mark J. M. Sullman of Cranfield University, United Kingdom -- recently appeared in the online version of Risk Analysis, a publication of the Society for Risk Analysis.

For the new study, a total of 268 male and 281 female fully licensed drivers between the ages of 18 and 75 years voluntarily completed an online questionnaire. The questionnaire was based on well-established systems for measuring traits, such as the Driving Anger Expression Inventory and the Road Rage Questionnaire, which include questions about shouting or swearing at another driver, threatening to hurt another driver, intentionally damaging another vehicle and intentionally hurting another driver.

The authors state that their study's aim was to test a proposed model of driver crash-related behaviors and compare how the model fit with data for drivers in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. According to the model, the personality traits of boredom proneness, impulsiveness and sensation seeking, coupled with driving anger, would predict aggressive driving. Such driving would, in turn, "be a reliable contributor toward crash-related conditions, including near-misses, slips of attention (loss of control of the vehicle and loss of concentration) and moving violations," according to the authors. Their study confirmed the model, "with anger and impulsivity being significant predictors of aggressive expression and this in turn predicting subsequent crash-related behavior." The findings held for both Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Although the new study to some extent replicates previous research, the results make a novel contribution to the broader field because the study used a sample of drivers from the general community, whereas previous research used American university students. Until now, the generalizability of the university results had not been assessed. Drivers in the current study were older and more diverse. In addition, the new study is the first to provide information on self-reported aggression of drivers in the Republic of Ireland and is also the first to support the proposed relationship between impulsivity and driving anger with more than correlational analysis, which provides only limited information about the relationships between variables.

1. Amanda N. Stephens, Mark J. M. Sullman. Trait Predictors of Aggression and Crash-Related Behaviors Across Drivers from the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic. Risk Analysis, 2015; DOI:10.1111/risa.12379

 Working for wellbeing

23 April 2015 - New $2.4 million joint ANU-Flinders research centre to tackle the social and policy origins of health inequality in Australia.

From dirty politics to poor urban planning, thousands of Australians’ lives are being cut short and their health compromised every day because of bad policy and social choice.

These are what experts call the social determinants of health inequity, and can include access to basic materials, control over our lives and participation in policy decisions.

In Australia, which has enjoyed 24 years of uninterrupted growth, at their most extreme it sees the poorest 20 per cent of the population die six years earlier than the richest 20 per cent. The nation’s Indigenous population lives, on average, 11 years less.  

Now a new joint research centre between The Australian National University and Flinders University launched Friday by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is set to tackle these inequalities. 

The $2.4 million, five-year NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on the Social Determinants of Health Inequity will look at how social factors like employment, housing, social exclusion, education, income and wealth all combine to negatively impact someone’s chances of long-term health. 

The Centre will be jointly run by co-director Professor Sharon Friel, director of the ANU Regulatory Institutions Network and Professor Fran Baum, Professor Fran Baum, Foundation Director of the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University.

Professor Sharon Friel said that the CRE would be dedicated to ensuring fairer health outcomes and improving the wellbeing of Australians.

“The difference in life expectancy or the quality of life are fundamentally unfair and a choice,” she said.

“These health differences are avoidable, they are manmade and they are policy choices. Every public policy – not just health policy – has the potential to affect human health and wellbeing. 

“We can make it a policy choice to allow it to be like that, or we can make a policy choice to do something about it. Personally, I’m for doing something about it.”

Professor Friel said that to achieve this goal, a major aspect of the Centre’s work will be to use case-study research to increase awareness of health equity as an issue in political and policy agendas.

One of the first case studies will be examining how the closure of the Holden manufacturing plant in Adelaide will impact the wellbeing and help of former employees.

“As well as investigating the level of consideration given to the issue of health equity in key economic, social and health policies such as trade, Medicare and Paid Parental Leave, we will explore the ways in which international, national, state and local policies interact in local communities,” Professor Friel said.

At the end of the five-year funding cycle, the Centre aims to have provided a range of evidence on all aspects of the policy cycle and the ways in which policies interact to affect health equity.

“We also hope that policy makers in all sectors will be using our research to inform policy development so that policy is fairer,” Professor Baum said.

The Centre brings together those people in Australia and internationally who are at the forefront of research in the social determinants of health equity and public policy. 

Among other priorities, it will train researchers who are able to work across sectors and disciplines, and who can put theory into practice to achieve equitable health outcomes.

Fellow ANU researchers Adrian Kay, from Crawford School of Public Policy, and Lyndall Strazdins, from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, will join the Centre as chief investigators. 


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

Finding a better way through Sydney's inner city congestion


Can we help find a better way through inner city congestion? A cross-faculty team of five UNSW Australia students have created ‘Project StepCity’ as their entry into the inaugural U21 Global Ingenuity Challenge.

A cross-faculty team of 5 UNSW Australia students have created ‘Project StepCity’ as their entry into the inaugural U21 Global Ingenuity Challenge. Find out more:

About UNSW is the place to find out about studying at UNSW Australia (the University of New South Wales), a powerhouse of cutting-edge research and teaching in the Asia-Pacific based in Sydney. 

UNSW is recognised as the Australian university with the strongest links to industry and claims the largest proportion of alumni in top CEO positions. With more than 50,000 students from more than 120 countries, we have one of the most diverse student populations. 

For more information:

 How cracking explains underwater volcanoes and the Hawaiian bend

April 28, 2015: University of Sydney

University of Sydney geoscientists have helped prove that some of the ocean's underwater volcanoes did not erupt from hot spots in Earth's mantle but instead formed from cracks or fractures in the oceanic crust.

The discovery helps explain the spectacular bend in the famous underwater range, the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, where the bottom half kinks at a sixty degree angle to the east of its top half.

"There has been speculation among geoscientists for decades that some underwater volcanoes form because of fracturing," said Professor Dietmar Muller, from the University of Sydney's School of Geosciences in Australia and an author on the research findings published in Nature Geoscience.

"But this is the first comprehensive analysis of the rocks that form in this setting that confirms their origins."

It has long been accepted that as Earth's plates move over fixed hot spots in its underlying mantle, resulting eruptions create chains of now extinct underwater volcanoes or 'seamounts'.

One of the most famous is the Hawaiian-Emperor chain in the northern Pacific Ocean. The seamounts of that chain are composed mainly of ocean island basalts -- the type of lava that erupts above hot spots.

But north of the Hawaiian chain, in a formation called the Musicians Ridge, researchers found samples from seamounts that were not made up of the ocean island basalts you would expect from plates moving over a hot spot.

"The oldest part of the Musicians Ridge formed approximately 90 million years ago from hot spots but these new samples are only about 50 million years old and have a different geochemistry," said Professor Muller.

"They did not form because of a hot spot but because of plates cracking open at their weakest point, allowing new magma to rise to the seabed and restart the formation of underwater volcanoes. They are near extinct hot spot volcanoes because that hot spot action millions of years earlier helped weaken the crust (the layer directly above the mantle) where new volcanoes now form."

Vulnerable spots in Earth's plates crack when they are stressed, in this case due to movement of the Pacific Plate which started to dive or submerge back into Earth's crust at its northern and western edges around 50 million years ago.

The formation of these younger seamounts caused by the deformation of the Pacific Plate at its margins suggests a link to the unique bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor chain.

"We believe tectonic changes along the margins of the Pacific Plate around 50 million years ago put the weakest points of the Pacific Ocean crust under tension and created the youngest Musicians Ridge seamounts," said Professor Muller.

"It also caused the flow in the slowly convecting mantle under the Pacific to change dramatically, to the point that the Hawaiian hot spot in Earth's mantle changed its position.

"The resulting seamounts along the Hawaii-Emperor chain changed their position accordingly and the bend was born."

This work provides a solid foundation for understanding other 'non-hot spot' volcanism seen elsewhere, for example the Puka Puka Ridge in the South Pacific.

1. John M. O’Connor, Kaj Hoernle, R. Dietmar Müller, Jason P. Morgan, Nathaniel P. Butterworth, Folkmar Hauff, David T. Sandwell, Wilfried Jokat, Jan R. Wijbrans, Peter Stoffers. Deformation-related volcanism in the Pacific Ocean linked to the Hawaiian–Emperor bend. Nature Geoscience, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2416

Top: Na Pali Coast on Kauai island (stock image). It has long been accepted that as Earth's plates move over fixed hot spots in its underlying mantle, resulting eruptions create chains of now extinct underwater volcanoes or 'seamounts'. One of the most famous is the Hawaiian-Emperor chain in the northern Pacific Ocean. The seamounts of that chain are composed mainly of ocean island basalts -- the type of lava that erupts above hot spots. Credit: © SergiyN / Fotolia

 $246 Million Nanny Pilot Programme to Support Families in Work

28 April 2015

The Abbott Government will provide support to families who struggle to access affordable child care services when working, studying or looking for work by establishing a $246 million two year pilot programme to extend subsidy support to home care services provided by nannies, Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison announced today.

“The two year Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Programme represents the first major tranche of the Abbott Government’s new child care package and will provide subsidised care for about 10,000 children, especially in middle to low income families,” Minister Morrison said.

“This initiative demonstrates that the Abbott Government understands there are many families in work and wanting to work who find it difficult to access mainstream child care services.

“Key workers such as nurses, police officers, ambulance officers and firefighters, as well as other shift workers, are too often unable to access child care and take advantage of government support because of the nature and hours of their work.

“The same is often true for families in rural and regional areas and those who have children with special needs, for whom mainstream child care services are often inaccessible, lack the necessary flexibility or do not cater for their specific needs.

“While acknowledging the importance of levelling the playing field for families needing more flexible child care services, the government will be proceeding carefully with subsidising nannies to avoid any unintended consequences.

“We also want to ensure the programme is well targeted and insulated as far as practicable from abuse.

“The two year pilot programme will determine whether a more sustainable programme can be affordably put in place for in-home care nanny services, including necessary integrity measures and quality standards.

“Trialling a range of family circumstances will help to determine the best settings for delivering child care in a child’s home under the child care subsidy.

“The government will be working with employee organisations such as police associations, and other key stakeholders to establish the programme and identify participants in the pilot scheme which will commence in January 2016.

“Government assistance will be provided by way of an hourly subsidy to be paid per child towards the cost of using a nanny. The subsidy will be paid directly to services and will be adjusted according to family income, consistent with the broader child care subsidy model soon to be announced.

“The Productivity Commission Report into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning recommended nannies be an eligible service for government assistance to families. The Commission found that for some parents, particularly those undertaking shift work such as nurses, police and emergency service personnel, nannies are used because working arrangements do not fit within standard operating hours of long or family day care. This is also the case for families in regional and rural Australia.

“This has been reinforced to the government through our targeted consultation process as part of the development of our families’ package. Increasingly nannies are being used by families to make sure they can meet their workforce commitments. Parents doing shift work or working irregular hours need the reassurance that their children are safe and happy in their home while they work to support their family, as do those families in rural or remote locations or those with other accessibility issues.

“A major focus of the pilot programme will be on services in rural and regional areas. The government will be taking an incremental and balanced approach to the pilot. Nannies are not meant to replace mainstream child care services but we want families to be able to choose the care type that suits them best, including using nannies in addition to other forms of child care.

“I look forward to working closely with the sector to implement this pilot programme and to ensure we get the best possible outcome for Australian families and their children.

“The Coalition Government is committed to developing a child care system that is more accessible, flexible and affordable and better meets the needs of modern families to be in work,” Minister Morrison said.

Families and service providers will be able to apply for the pilot later this year and must meet approved guidelines. This will include safeguards similar to those applied in family day care such as outlawing 'children swapping' practices and ensuring that  people providing informal care are ineligible, such as other family members. Only families on incomes below $250,000 per year will be eligible for support. The total subsidy paid to a family also cannot exceed the amount paid to a nanny.

To be eligible for subsidy, nannies will be required to be attached to an approved service.

Service providers will be selected through an open tender process. Applicants will be required to demonstrate how they will provide support for families and nannies, including contractual and insurance requirements. Existing service providers in family day care and long day care may also elect to become involved.

Nannies must be 18 years of age and have a current Working with Children Check and first aid qualification but will not be required to hold a minimum early childhood qualification.

The National Quality Framework will not be a requirement for the pilot programme. The government will leave it to parents to decide if they wish to engage a nanny with formal educational qualifications. There will be no differential subsidy provided in these circumstances.

The pilot will commence on 1 January 2016 and run until 31 December 2017. Provision has been made to continue support at the same level beyond the trial period, as an on-going measure.

More information about the Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Programme will be available on the Department of Social Services website at

 Alternate theory of inhabitation of North America disproven

April 27, 2015 - There has long been a debate among scholars about the origins of the first inhabitants of North America. The most widely accepted theory is that sometime before 14,000 years ago, humans migrated from Siberia to Alaska by means of a "land bridge" that spanned the Bering Strait. However, in the 1990s, a small but vocal group of researchers proposed that North America was first settled by Upper Paleolithic people from Europe, who moved from east to west through Greenland via a glacial "ice bridge." Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, working with colleagues the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and elsewhere, have definitively disproved the ice bridge theory.

One piece of evidence that advocates of the ice bridge theory rely on comes from the Chesapeake Bay. In the early 1970s, the crew of a scallop trawling vessel, Cinmar, was operating off the coast of Virginia when it hit a snag and pulled up an ancient stone blade, along with pieces of a mastodon skeleton. Since radiocarbon dating isn't available on inanimate objects, scholars correlated the date of the blade with the mastodon, which they could date at more than 22,000 years old.

"For more than two decades, proponents of the ice bridge theory have pointed to similarities between North American stone blades such as the one allegedly dredged from the Chesapeake and blades left by Solutrean foragers in western Europe," said Michael J. O'Brien, a professor of anthropology at MU and dean of the College of Arts and Science. "We know, however, that Solutrean culture began around 22,000 to 17,000 years ago, which is later than North American dates pointed to by ice bridge theorists as proof that Solutrean people populated North America. That includes the date from the Cinmar mastodon."

Mizzou scholars, including O'Brien's postdoctoral student, Metin Eren, and graduate student Matthew Boulanger, point to the lack of first-hand accounts from the crew of the Cinmar who recovered the blade and mastodon remains. All published accounts were first written by proponents of the Solutrean hypothesis. According to a telephone interview of the ship's captain, he "took particular note of the water depth" and "plotted the area on his navigation charts."

"While the interview indicates that the Cinmar captain took detailed notes, researchers never indicated that they actually observed the charts," O'Brien said. "In fact, captains keep 'hang logs' in which they record readings when they hit obstructions on the ocean floor. We reviewed countless snag reports from the Bay and the time frame when the snag should've occurred and didn't find anything to corroborate the story. One of the most famous snags of all time -- when the crew pulled up a mastodon -- and it's just not reported."

While researching the history of the stone tool, its recovery and whereabouts for more than 40 years, the team also found inconsistencies with the origins and the ownership of the ship itself. The research team found that discrepancies in photographs of the Cinmar, the size of the ship and where it was assembled all point to contradictions in key pieces of the ice bridge theory.

"Until inaccuracies are cleared up, there really is no reason to accept the find as evidence of anything connected with the early peopling of North America," O'Brien said.

1. Metin I. Eren, Matthew T. Boulanger, Michael J. O'Brien. The Cinmar discovery and the proposed pre-Late Glacial Maximum occupation of North America. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.03.001

Above: Map of Bering Sea. The Bering Strait is a comparatively shallow area between Alaska and Siberia. Credit: NOAA

 New exhibition sheds light on the lives of Australia’s post-war migrants

27 April 2015

Snakes in the laundry and dreary meals of mutton are just some of the memories post-war immigrants have shared in A Place to Call Home? Migrant Hostel Memories. This fascinating photographic exhibition rekindles memories of life in Australia's migrant hostels.

A Place to Call Home? Migrant Hostel Memories, a touring exhibition from the National Archives of Australia, is being hosted by the Whitlam Institute (opens in new window)  at the University of Western Sydney's Parramatta campus, and will be open to the public from 14 May to 24 July.

"While this latest exhibition is based around photographs held in our collection, it is these human recollections, both good and bad, that bring it to life," said National Archives curator Amy Lay.

"People recalled the tastes, the sights and smells (including the 'rotten' scent of mangoes) which, on our companion website Destination: Australia, evoked memories and strong responses from other immigrants.

"Such memories, with their depth of personal emotion and culture shock, give us an insight into what it meant to cross the world in hope of a new life."

One woman, 14 when she left England, recalls her mother 'crying and shaking' as they boarded the ship, leaving their extended family sobbing on the wharf. They had little hope of seeing each other again. As the family waited in Brisbane for 'processing', her mother murmured 'Whatever have we done, John?', later describing the migrant camp as 'this hellhole'.

The exhibition features highlights from a collection of around 22,000 photographs, taken by government photographers documenting the experiences of post-World War II migrants to Australia.

The photographs were taken between the late 1940s and the 1990s. Known as the Immigration Photographic Archive, the photographs form part of the National Archives of Australia collection.

Images from the archive were used to encourage re-location to Australia to prospective migrants and to help local Australians welcome new migrants into the community.

Director of the Whitlam Institute, Mr Eric Sidoti, says the Institute is delighted to bring the exhibition to the Parramatta campus.

"The Whitlam Institute is proud to continue its tradition of hosting national exhibitions that tell an important story about Australia's political, cultural and social history," says Mr Sidoti.

"This collection represents such an important time in Australia's multicultural history. Visitors will no doubt identify with the stunning images, and hopefully reflect a little on their own experiences.

"We encourage people to come, visit, and learn more about our post-war migration years and how they have shaped modern Australia as we know it."

A Place to Call Home? Migrant Hostel Memories will be officially opened by acclaimed poet Associate Professor Peter Skrzynecki OAM, at 6:30pm on Friday 8 May. 

This touring exhibition from the National Archives of Australia has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory board.

In association with the A Place to Call Home exhibition, the National Archives of Australia will be running a free one hour workshop at the Female Orphan School on Saturday 23 May from 11am on how you can contribute your migration story to the Destination Australia website. Bookings are required. Please contact 02 9685 9210 or email the Whitlam Institute.

Whitlam Institute - University of Western Sydney: Parramatta Campus - Female Orphan School, Building EZ, Corner of James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road, Rydalmere NSW 2116



MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday 28 April 2015 

Combining extraordinary risk-taking theatre with a harrowing piece of history, the Opera House will challenge audiences with a retelling of Western Australia’s Pinjarra Massacre in Bindjareb Pinjarra from 27 – 28 June. 

On 28 October 1834, 90km south of Perth in a place known as Pinjarra, a violent conflict took place between Mounted Police and the local Nyoongar tribe. Estimates put the Nyoongar fatalities between 70 – 150 people. One policeman died. History books recorded the event as The Battle of Pinjarra. The Nyoongar people retold of the massacre of an indigenous community. 

But Bindjareb Pinjarra is not a history lesson. This is a live, oral retelling of a shared history. There is no recorded script, no playwright and no director. Created and performed by The Pinjarra Project, the work deliberately grows with audience input and moulds to each audience’s interpretation of events and their contributions of contemporary issues that resonate with them. This unique format provides a rich forum for learning about both the events that took place in Pinjarra and the way history can be shaped and distorted in its retelling. 

2015 marks the 21st anniversary of the original play which premiered in Perth in 1994. Since then this ever-changing, malleable theatre experience has toured extensively across metropolitan and remote Australia. 

Although no two performances are ever the same, there is a format to telling the story that switches between three narratives: the time of the massacre; an unnamed time when black and white children meet and learn about their shared history; and the present day, which has constantly changed over the play’s 21 year history. 

Acclaimed actor Kelton Pell was one of the original creators of Bindjareb Pinjarra and returns to the stage for this season. An award-winning actor, he is known to Australian audiences for his stirring performances in Redfern Now, Gods of Wheat Street, Cloudstreet, feature film Bran Nue Dae and various productions for Sydney Theatre Company and Black Swan Theatre Company. Born in Western Australia, Pell tells the story of the Pinjarra massacre with the perspective of a local who is carrying through the tradition of sharing stories passed down through generations. 

Sydney Opera House Head of Indigenous Programming, Rhoda Roberts, presented Bindjareb Pinjarra as part of The Dreaming Festival in 1997 and believes it has retained its significance. “This was an important story to tell and reconciliation theatre is a powerful way to share it with modern audiences. As a people we have an oral storytelling tradition and Bindjareb Pinjarra is true to that custom. This practice also demonstrates how history moulds and changes in its retelling. In a way, Bindjareb Pinjarra reclaims our story.” 

Sydney Opera House Head of Children, Families & Creative Learning, Bridgette Van Leuven, believes this is brave, risk-taking theatre combined with a compelling piece of history, “The Pinjarra Project has cleverly used comedy as a device to approach a sensitive subject and a dark period in our history. The way the piece has evolved over 21 years has also become part of its own living history. This is an opportunity to examine both our past and the assumptions through which we view historical events.” 

Challenging and thought-provoking, Bindjareb Pinjarra is history relived, retold and rewritten. 

BINDJAREB PINJARRA: Dates: 27 – 28 June 2015 

Venue: Studio, Sydney Opera House

Bookings: 02 9250 7777

 Nation’s largest diabetes conversation

Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley is calling on Australians to have their say as part of the nation’s largest conversation about the best ways to prevent, treat and cure diabetes. 

Ms Ley today announced the opening of a national consultation process to help guide the Abbott Government’s development of a National Diabetes Strategy – an election commitment. 

Ms Ley said diabetes affected the lives of most people in some way, shape or form and this was a critical opportunity for all Australians to participate in finding the best ways to prevent, treat and cure this rapidly growing national problem at the Department of Health's Consultation Hub. 

“Over one million Australians are now living with diabetes, while hundreds of thousands more are either at high risk of contracting the disease or are living with it and don’t know,” Ms Ley said. 

“However, diabetes doesn’t just affect the lives of those who have it. It takes a heavy toll on their family and friends, their job, the sustainability of the health budget and our national prosperity. 

“For example, the overall cost of diabetes to the Australian economy is estimated to be as high as $14 billion annually. 

“That’s why it’s so important we get a broad diversity of views. Whether you’re a carer, parent, employer, doctor, researcher or someone living with the disease, we want to hear your views, experiences and ideas about addressing this rapidly growing national problem.” 

Ms Ley said there were over 200 new cases of diabetes diagnosed in Australia every day. 

“Diabetes also contributes to a range of other serious health burdens, including heart attacks, strokes, amputation, blindness, kidney failure, depression and nerve disease, which is why this government is committed to delivering a National Diabetes Strategy,” Ms Ley said. 

“This national strategy will aim to prioritise Australia’s response to diabetes; identify the best approaches to addressing the impact of diabetes in the community; and position Australia as an international leader in diabetes prevention, management and research.” 

Comments received through this consultation will inform the National Diabetes Strategy, due for release late 2015. Consultation will close Friday May 17. 

Ms Ley thanked the National Diabetes Strategy Advisory Group for their work, including developing a consultation paper to help generate public discussion and ideas and is available at the Department of Health's Consultation Hub.

The call for public feedback follows face-to-face consultations held last year in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Alice Springs and Hobart. 

The National Diabetes Strategy Advisory Group is co-chaired by the Hon. Judi Moylan and Professor Paul Zimmet AO and supported by a range of health, community and economic experts. 

Additional Facts and Figures: 

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for approximately 85 per cent of people with diabetes. 

Diabetes is underlying or associated cause of one in every ten deaths in Australia. 

Healthcare that is directly attributable to diabetes costs approximately $1.7 billion per year, while the total cost of diabetes annually has been estimated to be as high as $14 billion. 

Annual direct costs for people with diabetes complications are more than twice as much as for people without complications; $9,600 compared with $3,500. 

It is estimated that for every 100 people with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in Australia, at least another 25 may be living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. 

Obesity is considered a major cause of diabetes. At present, 63 per cent of Australian adults over the age of 18 are overweight or obese, as are approximately 25% per cent of children aged between 5 and 17, and these rates are even higher among people from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Details of Online Discussion and Questionnaire at: here

The consultation is open until 11:59pm AEST on Sunday 17 May 2015 


By Sydney Opera House

Revealing Archaeology takes you on a journey through the transformations of the Opera House site evidenced by recent archaeological discoveries. These discoveries were made during excavation work for the Opera House's new underground loading dock.

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.