Inbox and Environment News Issue 218 

 June 14 - 20, 2015: Issue 218

 Trial of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval in the Lower North East Region

EPA Media Release: June 11, 2015

As part of the remake of the coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs), the Government is undertaking a limited three-month trial from June to August 2015. The trial required a temporary amendment to the IFOA for the Lower North East region to enable forest operations under different prescriptions to those currently required.

The Trial of the Coastal IFOA will be restricted to six harvest areas (compartments) on the mid-north coast of NSW (in the Lower North East IFOA region). It will test the following elements which are being considered for inclusion in the draft Coastal IFOA:

*A range of new multi-scale threatened species settings that have been designed to manage the potential impacts of timber harvesting on threatened species and habitats over time and across the landscape. These settings include new and improved threatened species provisions, such as enhanced tree retention and landscape habitat protection, which will be implemented for every harvesting operation whether or not threatened species records are present.

*New stream classification and protection measures that will be applied to all streams that have been accurately identified through new LiDAR technologies

*Establishing two thresholds for harvesting intensity within the existing regrowth zone.

The trial is not intended to be a scientific study, but rather an opportunity to implement a range of options to help clarify and finalise negotiations around the threatened species licence requirements at the landscape, stand and site scales.

The information obtained from the trial will provide an opportunity to further refine the proposed prescriptions and inform the finalisation of a draft Coastal IFOA. This includes ensuring that they deliver against the objectives of the remake and Government commitments to no erosion of environmental values while maintaining access to existing levels of wood supply. The trial will also consider some of the feedback provided by the threatened species expert panel. This will include improving the panel's understanding of how the various conditions might relate on ground in a real life setting. The expert panel will be involved in assessing the results of the trial.

This trial is not related to the proposed trial of timber harvesting on steep slopes. The Trial of the Coastal IFOA will not permit timber harvesting operations in any area that exceeds 25 degrees slope or is currently excluded due to steep slope requirements. The steep slopes trial remains in a conceptual stage and has not been approved by the government.

The trial will be implemented by the Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) and will be closely supervised by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries NSW. The EPA will oversee the trial to ensure appropriate controls are in place to minimise any potential environmental impacts. The trial will be undertaken in accordance with the EPA-approved document, Trial of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (PDF 132KB), which stipulates specific conditions and requirements for undertaking the trial. The prescriptions that are required for the purpose of the trial will no longer be authorised at the completion of the trial or if the trial is terminated by the EPA.

The Government will release a report that documents the undertaking and findings of the trial. This report will be made publicly available with the release of the Draft Coastal IFOA in 2015. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft Coastal IFOA and the trial.

The frequently asked questions webpage provides more information.


From above linked document:Trial of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (PDF 132KB)

Appendix A – Shortlist of State Forest Compartments Available to Conduct the Trial

The trial must only apply to no more than six compartments in the Lower North East IFOA region. Trial will occur across three separate having treatment zones.

“Compartments” for the purpose of the trial has the same meaning as that defined in the Threatened Species Licence, Environment Protection Licence and the terms of the IFOA.

To allow for flexibility due to wet weather, contractor selection, or timing of the field trial - the six trial sites may be selected from any of the following State Forest compartments:

1. Ingalba State Forest ; Compartments 35, 36, 37, 38, 39

2. Queens Lake State Forest; Compartment 10

3. Mount Boss State Forest; Compartments 62, 184, 185, 186, 193, 205, 206

4. Bulga State Forest, 11, 16, 17, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 158, 159

5. Lansdowne State Forest; Compartments 193, 194, 195, 199, 200, 201, 202

6. Kiwarrik State Forest; Compartments 17, 18, 19, 20

7. Bulahdelah State Forest; Compartments 129, 130, 131, 132, 140, 141, 143

8. Burrawan State Forest; Compartments 21, 22, 23

9. Styx River State Forest; Compartments 512, 515, 516, 523, 524, 525, 526, 527

10. Chichester State Forest; Compartment 22

11. Riamukka State Forest; Compartments 95, 98, 99, 155, 156, 157, 341

12. Middle Brother State Forest; Compartment 232

13. Bulls Ground State Forest; Compartments 54, 58, 60, 61, 62

Note: “Compartments” for the purpose of the trial has the same meaning as that defined in the Threatened Species Licence, Environment Protection Licence and the terms of the IFOA.

Petition by Land Water Future: Tell Minister Roberts you want a say about coal seam gas in our water catchments

Dear Minister Roberts,

Three of four coal seam gas exploration licences covering our drinking water catchments have been cancelled. Only Petroleum Exploration Licence 2 (PEL 2) remains. PEL 2 is a massive coal seam gas exploration licence that stretches from the Southern Highlands and Illawarra in the south, across south west suburban Sydney and extends to the Central Coast in the north. PEL 2 covers residential areas including urban growth areas in Sydney's south west as well as water catchments that provide drinking water to millions of people.

The CSG licence was first granted by the NSW Government back in 1993. Since then it's been renewed twice — first by Eddie Obeid, then by Ian Macdonald. But the public haven't had a chance to comment. 

AGL have been given until 10 July 2015 to give the government documentation about why this licence should be renewed. We're calling on you as Minister for Energy and Resources to also accept submissions from the general public, because it's time we got the chance to have a say about coal seam gas exploration in our communities and water catchment areas.

PS: You could always just buy-back PEL 2 under the scheme your government introduced, you have until June 30.

Sign: HERE

Clarence Colliery Discharge Investigation

June 2015


The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is currently conducting a five-year statutory licence review of Environment Protection Licence (EPL) no. 726 held by Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd. To support this review the EPA requested that the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) make an assessment of the impact of the Clarence Colliery discharge on the Wollangambe River, particularly considering the river runs through the World Heritage Area of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park, a part of the OEH estate. Fieldwork, laboratory and statistical analyses to support this assessment were conducted between October 2014 and February 2015.

The major conclusions from this assessment are:

 The surface headwaters of the Newnes Plateau generally have excellent water quality with very low concentrations of dissolved and total salts and very low concentrations of most metals, metalloids and non-metallic inorganics (excepting iron and aluminium).

 Clarence Colliery LDP002 introduces a high volume, point source of pollution to the Upper Wollangambe River.

 Very little dilution of the discharge (and contained contaminants) is achieved once it joins the Wollangambe River. This is largely due to the volume of the discharge, together with its location high in the headwaters of the Wollangambe River.

 Relative to ‘natural levels’ in the streams of the Newnes Plateau (including the  Wollangambe River upstream of LDP002), the LDP002 discharge has elevated levels of: dissolved and total barium; bicarbonate alkalinity; dissolved and total calcium; dissolved and total cobalt; conductivity; hardness; dissolved and total lithium; dissolved and total magnesium; dissolved and total nickel; dissolved and total potassium; dissolved and total strontium; dissolved and total sulfur; sulfate; alkalinity; total dissolved solids; and dissolved and total zinc.

 Relative to ‘natural levels’ in the streams of the Newnes Plateau (including the Wollangambe River upstream of LDP002) the LDP002 discharge had lower levels of chloride.

 For a number of analytes measured the difference in concentration was an order of magnitude (10 times) greater than ‘natural levels’ in the streams of the Newnes Plateau, and for some analytes (e.g. nickel, sulfur, sulfate, calcium) concentrations were 50 to 100 times greater.

 Nickel concentrations measured in LDP002 discharge waters were greater than the ANZECC/ARMCANZ (2000) default water quality guideline trigger value for nickel, designed to protect 95% of species; and greater than the NHMRC (2013) Australian drinking water guideline level. The current licence (EPL726) for Clarence Colliery does not specify a limit for nickel.

 Concentrations of zinc measured in LDP002 water (and downstream) exceeded the ANZECC/ARMCANZ (2000) water quality guideline trigger value for zinc designed to protect 95% of species, although they were below the EPL limit set by the EPA for  this discharge.

 The LDP002 discharge alters the water chemistry (pH, conductivity, alkalinity, ionic composition, suite of metals, metalloids, non-metallic inorganics) of the receiving waters close to where the discharge joins the Wollangambe River and for a considerable distance downstream (including at sites sampled within the GreaterBlue Mountains World Heritage Area).

 The LDP002 discharge waters exhibited acute and chronic toxicity to the freshwater cladoceran Ceriodaphnia dubia at a variety of dilutions. It also caused significant inhibitory effects on growth of the freshwater green alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata.

 The LDP002 discharge has the potential to be inducing toxic effects and reproductive impairment in sensitive invertebrate and algal species in the receiving environment of the Wollangambe River, including at sites within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

 OEH’s latest sampling suggests that the macroinvertebrate community downstream of the discharge is demonstrably different from that of the pristine  headwater streams of the Newnes Plateau. Further, the difference in macroinvertebrate communities extends to sample sites located within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

 Further investigations are needed to determine exactly which components of the LDP002 discharge waters are causing the observed acute and chronic toxicity.

 The full longitudinal extent of the discharge impacts on macroinvertebrate communities in the Wollangambe River also needs to be established.

 There is a clear need to review EPL licence conditions for nickel and conductivity (not currently on EPL726)The EPL limit for zinc, currently set at nearly 200 times the ANZECC/ ARMCANZ (2000) water quality guideline trigger value for the protection of 95% of species, should also be reviewed.

 Based on the results of the current study, consideration should also be given to setting EPL licence conditions for other contaminants in the discharge whose levels were found to be significantly higher than background levels in the Upper Wollangambe River and Newnes Plateau headwater streams.

 Given that the LDP002 discharge flows into a near pristine Newnes Plateau headwater stream which subsequently flows into the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area it is recommended that any review of EPL limits is based on ANZECC/ARMCANZ (2000) water quality guideline trigger values which are designed to protect freshwater species.

Page 9 :  Relative to ‘natural levels’ in the streams of the Newnes Plateau (including the Wollangambe River upstream of LDP002), the LDP002 discharge was found to have elevated levels of: dissolved and total barium; bicarbonate alkalinity; dissolved and total calcium; dissolved and total cobalt; conductivity; hardness; dissolved and total lithium; dissolved and total magnesium; dissolved and total manganese; dissolved and total nickel; dissolved and total potassium; dissolved and total strontium; dissolved and total sulfur; sulfate; alkalinity, total dissolved solids; dissolved and total vanadium; and dissolved and total zinc. In contrast, relative to ‘natural levels’ in the streams of the Newnes Plateau (including the Wollangambe River upstream of LDP002) the LDP002 discharge had lower levels of chloride. For a number of analytes the difference was an order of magnitude (10 times) greater than ‘natural levels’ in the streams of the Newnes Plateau and for some analytes (e.g. nickel, sulfur, sulfate, calcium) concentrations were 50 to 100 times greater

© 2015 State of NSW and Office of Environment and Heritage

Full report at: HERE - PDF: 982 KB


Stop Springvale Colliery's Extension Plan - write a letter to Planning Minister Robert Stokes 

Nature Conservation Council of NSW: June 10, 2015

Wastewater discharge from a coal mine near Lithgow is adding deadly toxins to Sydney's drinking water supply and harming species at the bottom of the Wollangambe River's food chain.

Studies have recorded 90 per cent drop in the abundance of macroinvertebrates, including the water bugs stonefly, mayfly and caddisfly, critical food sources for larger animals, including fish and birds.

Take action:

 Organics Market Development Grants Now Open

Media release: 11 June 2015 EPA

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) announced today the opening of a new grants program designed to grow the market for recycled organics in NSW.

For the first time, councils, businesses, government and community groups can apply for funding of up to $500,000 for any project that promotes or develops recycled organics.

Amanda Kane, Organics Manager, NSW EPA, said, “The new grant program complements the work the EPA is doing to increase kerbside collections and processing capacity for organics in NSW. Now we’re looking for industry and local government to work with us to close the loop by developing new and innovative ways to increase demand for the recycled product.

The new Organics Market Development grants are available under two streams:

Stream 1: Product Quality – Grants of between $10,000 and $50,000 are available to contribute to projects that will improve product quality and/or understanding of the benefits of quality recycled organic products.

Stream 2: Market Development – Grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 are available to contribute to projects that will develop new markets or expand existing markets for recycled organics.

Interested applicants have the opportunity to attend one-of-three information sessions to find out more about the new grants and the application process.

The first session will be held on 25 June Skillset Flannery Centre, 341 Havannah Street, Bathurst between 10am to 1pm. Parking is available on-site.

The second session will be held on 29 June at the Holiday Inn, Marsden Room 18-40 Anderson Street, Parramatta between 10am to 12pm.

A webinar will also be held on 30 June between 10-11.30am Webinar 30 June 10-11.30 am 

Registration for each session is essential using the following links:

Bathurst information session 25 June 10am-1pm 

Parramatta information session 29 June 10am-12pm 

Webinar 30 June 10-11.30am

Visit the EPA website to download the Organics Market Development grant application form and guidelines and to register for an information session.

 Call for community feedback on Orica Kooragang Island Facility

Media Release: Department of Planning and Environment - 

11 Jun 2015

A proposal to increase limits on the amount of ammonia produced at the Orica Kooragang Island facility is on exhibition for community feedback.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on Orica Australia’s application which seeks to increase the annual production limit of ammonia by 25,000 tonnes.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive and this is taken into consideration when we develop our recommendations,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.”

The application will be assessed against strict, consistently applied environmental criteria.

To make a submission or view the environmental impact statement, visit

Submissions can be made until Tuesday 23 June.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Attn: Planning Services

GPO Box 39

Sydney NSW 2001

The EIS is also available to view in person at:

Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney

City of Newcastle Council, 282 King Street, Newcastle

Nature Conservation Council, Level 2, 5 Wilson Street, Newtown


Direct link to NSW Planning & Environment  webpage:- 

Orica Ammonium Nitrate Upgrade - Modification to 08_0129 Orica Ammonium Nitrate

 Continuing our commitment to air quality with launch of Clean Air Champions initiative

Media release: 12 June 2015, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

I am delighted to launch the Federal Government's Clean Air Champions Initiative at the 55th Melbourne Boat Show today.

The Clean Air Champions initiative will support work towards establishing the National Clean Air Agreement by bringing industry and communities together to support this important environmental objective.

Clean Air Champions are a select group of representatives from industry, community and academia and will be helping to raise awareness and knowledge of air quality issues through their own clean air activities.

I am pleased to announce that Mr Gary Fooks will be the first Clean Air Champion.

Mr Fooks has been involved in the outdoor power equipment and outboard motor industry for many years and has spent a decade working to reduce emissions from non-road spark ignition engines and equipment.

Mr Fooks is also chair of the Blue Sky Alliance, a group of manufacturers and distributors of non-road engine products, who believe that Australians deserve to breathe clean air.

I look forward to working with Mr Fooks along with other key industry bodies from the non-road spark ignition engines and equipment sector.

More Clean Air Champions will be announced shortly.

Non-road spark ignition engines and equipment includes a wide range of petrol powered equipment covering outboard marine engines and outdoor powered equipment. They are estimated to contribute up to 10 per cent of the overall level of air pollutants in urban environments in Australia.

The Commonwealth, in cooperation with States and Territories, is currently finalising a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) on options to reduce emissions from non-road spark ignition engines and equipment. It is anticipated that this work will be incorporated into the National Clean Air Agreement once established.

For more information on the National Clean Air

 Southern Highlands locals forced to take on Hume Coal

June 10, 2015 - by Land Water Future

Southern Highlands local Kathy Roche, 79, is fighting cancer, but she's also fighting a coal company, and she says she'll give it everything she's got.

Kathy and her husband John are fighting to protect their Southern Highlands property — a 3 day equestrian eventing course of Olympic standard. Kathy and John were recently named the NSW Eventing Volunteers of the Year. Kathy was a pharmacist in Moss Vale for many years and John the local doctor.

Korean-owned Hume Coal is seeking access to drill on a number of Southern Highlands properties, including Kathy and John's, as part of its exploration program for a proposed new mine. The landholders have locked the gate, but they are now being forced into arbitration with the coal company.

This September four of the Southern Highlands landholders will face off against Hume Coal in the NSW Land and Environment Court, challenging the coal company's decision to try to force access.

The court case will challenge Hume Coal's right to access under section 31(5) of the Mining Act, which deals with "significant improvements". Significant improvements can include items such as stock-proof fences, formed roads and tracks, cropped or improved paddocks, within a 200 metre radius of dwellings and 50 metres around gardens.

"This case is precedent setting," said Peter Martin, local resident and spokesperson for the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group.

"It is the first time that a group of property owners have got together in NSW to challenge a mining company's ability to access all of their properties for exploration because of the significant improvements. These properties are all highly developed and we contend that Hume Coal has no right under s31 to come on and drill holes given the inconvenience for landowners, disruption to day-to-day operations and potential significant damage to the properties concerned," he said.

The upcoming case follows the recent court action where Southern Highlands Coal Action Group took the Minister for Resources and Energy and Hume Coal to the Land and Environment Court challenging Hume's latest approval to drill 25 more exploration holes in Sutton Forest. The result of that case is not yet know but the judgement is expected within 4 to 6 weeks. Many of the 25 holes were proposed to be drilled on the properties involved in the second legal case.

"This case came about because Hume is forcing all these landowners into arbitration against their will and then refuses to recognises significant improvements on these properties. Hume says that it can have its trucks, drill rigs and utes travelling back and forward through the properties at will as long as they don't drill their holes in these locations. They also refuse to test this in court but challenge the landowners to do so which is a form of legal intimidation in our view. We think this is nonsense and is not the intent of the legislation," said Mr Martin.

The case is set to start on September 14 and go for 5 days. A visit by the Court to the properties concerned will be held over the first two days. All the properties are neighbours along or near Golden Vale Road.

 Half million dollar rescue package for Orange-bellied parrot

Joint media release: 12 June 2015, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment and The Hon. Matthew Groom,Tasmanian Minister for the Environment, Parks and Heritage

Today, the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot has secured a $525,000 lifeline from the federal government to help rebuild its numbers after the discovery of beak and feather disease in its wild population.

"Upon discovering of the outbreak, I immediately called on my Department for an urgent strategic response to this latest threat to one of our rare migratory parrots, and funding has been identified on advice from the Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews," said Minister Hunt.

"These funds will boost the Tasmanian Government's captive breeding and recovery programme for the orange-bellied parrot and make sure we keep the parrot's insurance population safe, as well as look after the wild population."

These funds will build momentum for emergency action to save the species ahead of a special meeting of experts today, to be chaired by the Commissioner and attended by members of the orange-bellied parrot recovery team, Birdlife Australia, Zoos Victoria, the National Environment Science Programme Threatened Species Recovery Hub, avian experts, disease specialists and the Tasmanian Government.

"We are focused not only on the short-term goal of limiting the spread of the disease in the orange-bellied parrot but on the long-term one of increasing its population so the species is better able to ward off threats in future," said Minister Hunt.

"Only about 50 to 100 of the birds are believed to survive in the wild, earning the orange-bellied parrot the unwanted status of the world's most endangered parrot species as well as a place on our national threatened species list.

"But the orange-bellied parrot is a survivor, braving Bass Strait each year in its migration from summer breeding grounds in Tasmania to summer feeding grounds in coastal Victoria and South Australia.

"I want to make it clear that the Australian Government is not going to give up on this species."

Minister Groom said this funding will build on the efforts already being implemented by the Tasmanian Government, which has provided more than $800,000 over three years to help the species recover.

"This funding from the federal government will strengthen an existing program that has delivered good results so far for the Orange-bellied Parrot. The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment's actively manages a substantial part of the total captive-breeding population of around 330 parrots," said Minister Groom.

"Captive-bred birds released into the wild have already produced fledglings, in a major milestone for the species.

"This allocation will deliver a boost for practical actions to combat beak and feather disease as well as breeding and release actions like remote cameras at breeding and feeding sites and new customised nest boxes that give the parrot a better chance against predators."

Australian parrot species have experienced outbreaks of beak and feather disease before. It is a common disease among parrots and cockatoos, but the low numbers in the orange-bellied parrot population means that it has a severe impact on the survival of the species.

The federal government is taking unprecedented action to protect Australia's threatened species – this includes the appointment last year of Australia's first Threatened Species Commissioner.

Next month the Australian Government will host a Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne to bring together for the first time a cross-section of society with a common concern for Australia's animals and plants, to explore solutions and promote practical and effective ways of tackling threats to their survival.

Top: The Orange-bellied parrot (Photo by Dave Watts0 - Courtesy Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife

 Implementation of Reef 2050 Plan the focus at Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum

Joint media release: 10 June 2015, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment; The Hon. Jackie Trad MP, Deputy Premier of Queensland; The Hon. Dr Steven Miles MP, Queensland Minister for Environment

Commonwealth and State Ministers met today in Brisbane for the 40th meeting of the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum. This is a significant milestone and is a testament to the close working relationship enjoyed by successive Commonwealth and Queensland governments in protecting the Reef.

Today, both Governments again welcomed the draft decision from the World Heritage Centre which acknowledged the significant and unprecedented work undertaken by both governments and which recommended against the Great Barrier Reef being listed as "in danger".

The sharp focus for Governments now is on implementing the recently released Reef 2050 Long term Sustainability Plan, which will lock in the strategic improvements necessary to improve the health of the reef.

This commitment and follow-through will give confidence to the World Heritage Committee as we look ahead to the final decision to be released in Bonn later this month.

Our implementation strategy provides a clear roadmap to achieve this and identifies lead organisations, timeframes, reporting and governance arrangements.

Ongoing successful implementation of the Plan will continue to be supported by the Australian Government's $140 million Reef Trust and the Queensland Government's $100 million injection over five years.

The Reef 2050 Plan was developed through a partnership approach with all interest groups, and we intend to continue that highly collaborative and consultative approach.

We have already made progress against a number of actions in the Reef 2050 Plan, building a strong foundation for success. This includes a historic ban on the disposal of capital dredge material in the entire Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Commonwealth has already banned the disposal of capital dredge material in 100 per cent of the area under Commonwealth legislative control – which represents 99 per cent of the World Heritage Area.

Queensland is currently in the process of legislating a ban in the remaining 3000 square kilometre area that includes port areas, and falls outside of the Marine Park under Commonwealth control.

Together, this means no capital dredge disposal can occur in any part of the World Heritage Area.

Shortly, both Governments will sign an updated Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement which incorporates the Reef 2050 Plan as a schedule to the Agreement. This reaffirms our commitment to work together to protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef for future generations and gives the 35-year blueprint the highest possible level of agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland.

Updates to the Intergovernmental Agreement will highlight our continuing joint arrangements for management of this iconic natural asset.

We are also establishing a Reef 2050 Advisory Committee comprising community and industry representatives, to provide a stakeholder and community perspective on implementation of the Reef 2050 Plan.

Work is also nearing completion on establishing an investment baseline outlining all current federal, state and local government expenditure as well as private and philanthropic investment in the health of the Reef.

This work will provide a starting point for future investments and coordination of activities which support the outcomes of the Plan. The investment baseline will be released ahead of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn.

This will include both increased physical work to reduce sediment, nitrogen and pesticide runoff, and increasing monitoring as part of the work of the respective independent expert scientific and water panels.

Australians are rightfully proud of the Great Barrier Reef and recognise its immense biological, economic and cultural value. Together, we are committed to protecting it for future generations.

 Integrated Mining Policy

The NSW Government is proposing a new whole-of-government approach to mining applications

Feedback is sought on the Integrated Mining Policy. The Policy proposes to:

• require information from mine applicants earlier in the assessment process, including the requirement to show how they arrived at their preferred project designs;

• provide one whole-of-government set of Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements for mining applications; and

• clarify Government policies so they are easier for the community to understand and industry to navigate, including policies around biodiversity offsets, impacts to endangered swamps, water regulation and voluntary land acquisition.

Community and industry consultation is happening in two stages, with the first stage now on exhibition until 9 July 2015. In this first stage the following items are on exhibition:

• Standard Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements FOR STATE SIGNIFICANT MINING DEVELOPMENTS - MAY 2015   (SEARs) : PDF 1.5 mb  HERE 

 Mine Application Guideline - Specific development application requirements for State Significant mining and extractive industry developments under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979  : PDF 678.11 kb HERE

• Policy Framework for Biodiversity Offsets for Upland Swamps and Associated Threatened Species - IMPACTED BY LONGWALL MINE SUBSIDENCE  MAY 2015: PDF: 360.39 kb HERE

The second stage of consultation will involve exhibiting the remaining Integrated Mining Policy documents and will occur in coming months.

The Integrated Mining Policy will apply to all State significant mining developments, including coal and mineral mines. It does not include petroleum operations or coal seam gas proposals, or any exploration activities, and it does not change existing legislation (further coal seam gas reforms are being developed as part of the NSW Gas Plan). 

Submissions are invited until 9 July 2015Read more and have your say


Improving mining regulation in NSW

Media Release: Department of Planning and Environment

A proposed whole-of-government approach applying stringent, consistent requirements to mining applications is on exhibition for community and industry feedback.

The improvements would mean better information for communities living near proposed mines and are part of the wider plan to improve mining regulation in NSW.

“The community and industry have raised concerns that the system is too complicated and difficult to navigate,” a Department spokesperson said.

“That’s why we want their feedback on this Integrated Mining Policy, which would introduce clear policies on important mining issues, would make information more accessible for the community and reduce costly duplication for industry.”

The Integrated Mining Policy (IMP) would maintain the existing high standards that minimise the impacts of mining, while: 

requiring information from mine applicants much earlier in the assessment process. This includes showing how they arrived at their preferred project designs so community members can better understand why planning decisions are made.

providing one, whole-of-government set of Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements for mining applications. This will be clearer for applicants to comply with and easier for the community to understand.

clarifying Government policies so they are easier for the community to understand and industry to navigate, including policies around biodiversity offsets, impacts to endangered swamps, water regulation and voluntary land acquisition.

“Mining is vital for NSW. It provides jobs for tens of thousands of people and helps unlock the state’s economic potential,” the spokesperson said.

“We want the community to be armed with better information to help them understand the impacts of mining and how mining companies are working with the Government to reduce them.”

Community and industry feedback will be essential to establishing the final shape of the IMP. Consultation is happening in two stages, with the first stage now on exhibition until Thursday 9 July 2015, consisting of the:

IMP overview

new standardised Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements

Swamp Offsets Policy

Mine application guidelines

To view the documents and provide your feedback,

The second stage of consultation will involve the remaining IMP documents will occur in coming months.


Direct link to documents: 

 Save Berowra Valley's Stringybark Ridge

There are plans afoot to destroy part of Berowra Valley National Park to make way for sports fields.

The national park was only created recently after years of community campaigning, a victory the plan of management threatens to undermine.

Local groups, including Save Stringy Bark Ridge, are determined to maintain the hard-fought protections afford by winning national park status, but they need your help.

Please sign their petition:

Help Save Stringybark Ridge

See Submission HERE links you to the Berowra Valley National Park Draft Plan of Management and how to lodge submissions. 

Stringybark Ridge, Pennant Hills, in Berowra Valley National Park is threatened with development of sporting fields. This rare ridge top Shale Sandstone Transition Forest should be protected. Support the NPWS Masterplan for the area cleared several decades ago; support informal camping, particularly for the Great North Walk, and picnic areas for families.

Submissions must be lodged by July 6th - more in Have Your Say below

 NSW Govt.Office - HAVE YOUR SAY

Design of the Gas Community Benefits Fund

What is the Community Benefits Fund for Gas?

The Government has announced the establishment of the Gas Community Benefits Fund to benefit communities in which gas producers operate.

The Government doesn't have a fixed or pre–determined model (design) which it has committed to, in the development of the fund.

Seeking the view of the public and stakeholders will be critical to maximising the value of the fund for communities in NSW.

Have Your Say

NSW Trade and Investment, Resources and Energy is responsible for the establishment of the fund and has developed a discussion paper to facilitate the establishment of the Fund. 

You are invited to submit your view on the Gas Community Benefits Fund in writing by 5:00pm, 17 July 2015 via email or mail to:

Gas Community Benefits Fund, Strategy, Policy & Coordination,Division of Resources & Energy, Level 48, MLC Centre / 19 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Please note: in the discussion paper, questions are presented to provide feedback. The questions are a guide, and are not intended to restrict comments on any other issues that you consider relevant to the design of the Fund.

Email: Date: May. 21 - Jul. 17, 2015

Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

More Information:   (02) 9338 6935 

Agency Website  Consultation Website 

Berowra Valley National Park and Regional Park Draft Plan of Management

The exhibition of the draft plan provides an important opportunity for the community to have a say on future management directions for Berowra Valley National Park and Berowra Valley Regional Park.

Why is a plan being prepared now?

A new plan of management is being prepared, following the reclassification of most of Berowra Valley Regional Park to Berowra Valley National Park, in recognition of the park’s high conservation value.

What has been updated?

Under national park status, conservation measures are a strong point of focus. National park status also allows for sustainable visitor use, subject to strict controls. Nine hectares of the original Berowra Valley Regional Park have been retained in order to accommodate local dog walkers on existing management trails.

What opportunities will the community have to comment?

The draft plan of management is on public exhibition until 6th July 2015 and anyone can make a comment.

Members of the public are invited to comment by submitting a via email submission to

or by post to:

The Planner, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 3031. Asquith NSW 2077

Draft plan of management (POM) on page of Consultation website:HERE 

Draft second edition of Environmental Guidelines: Solid Waste Landfills – public consultation

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released a draft second edition of the Environmental Guidelines: Solid Waste Landfills.

The previous edition was released in 1996. It has several limitations associated with its age, including out-of-date legislation and policy, as well as not providing detailed treatment of a number of technical issues.

This draft second edition aims to address these limitations and to provide an updated set of minimum standards for design, construction and operation of a modern landfill facility. Further details about the main changes are outlined in the Questions and Answers below.

Download the Draft Environmental Guidelines: Solid waste landfills (Second edition, 2015) (PDF 1MB).

The EPA is seeking comments from industry, government agencies and the community on the draft guidelines and welcomes any comments by 30 June 2015.

Submission address

Environment Protection Authority Attention: Waste Operations PO Box A290 Sydney South NSW 1232

See all documents at:

Snake Rock Aboriginal area draft plan

Draft plan of management for the Snake Rock Aboriginal area

What is the draft plan of management for?

The draft plan is on public exhibition until 25th September 2015, it provides members of the community with the opportunity to have a say on the future management direction/s for the Aboriginal area.

Have your say

Anyone can make a comment of the draft plan by sending a written submission by email to: online at NSW Office of Environment and Heritage's website or by post to:

The Planner - NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service

PO Box 144, Sutherland NSW 1499

Formal Submission

Date: Jun. 12 - Sep. 25, 2015: Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

Submission address

The Planner NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service PO Box 144 Sutherland NSW 1499

More Information:  NSW NP&WS Planning Team  (02) 6841 0921 

 Agency Website  Consultation Website

 Sending ice to Antarctica

8 June 2015

Scientists are planning to ship ice to the Antarctic. They're afraid that mountain glaciers around the world are melting as a result of climate change and want to store samples of ice in a new vault in the coldest place on Earth.

At 4,350m the Col du Dome sits just below the summit of Mont Blanc.  Covered in snow, it appears to be a permanent, frozen fixture in the Alps - but looks can be deceptive.

"In 1994 we measured the temperature inside the glacier and in 2005 we went to the same place and we saw a warming of 1.5C," says Jerome Chappellaz, of the French National Centre for Scientific Research which is involved in creating a new ice store in the Antarctic.

"When it comes to non-polar glaciers, because of global warming, a lot of them are going to disappear this century and those at the highest altitudes are already experiencing summer melting.  We are probably the only scientific community whose archive is in danger of disappearing from the face of the planet. If you work on corals, on marine sediments, on tree rings, the raw material is still here and will be for many centuries," he says.

Only a tiny amount of mountain glacial ice has ever been collected and studied, and in 2016 the Col du Dome will become the first contributor to an Antarctic ice vault.  The archive will be housed in a snow cave at the Concordia Research Station - a permanently manned base, jointly operated by scientists from France and Italy.  Stored safely in a giant frozen trench, the ice cores can simply be sealed in bags 10m below the surface where the temperature maintains a steady temperature of -50C.

 Second Review of the Fuel Quality Standards Act

Media release: 12 June 2015; The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

The Australian Government today announced the second independent review of its Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000.

I am delighted to appoint Marsden Jacob Associates as the independent reviewer. Marsden Jacob will partner with Pacific Environment/Toxicos for the review.

The two firms bring with them a wealth of experience on the assessment of environmental regulation.

Fuel quality standards place limits on substances in fuel that, when burnt in vehicles' engines and expelled through an engine or vehicle's exhaust, can adversely affect people's health and the environment.

The Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 provides the legislative basis for national fuel quality and fuel quality information standards in Australia.

By world standards, Australia has very clean air but it is important to review our current legislative framework for fuel quality to ensure we continue to have effective, efficient and appropriate means to support a clean air future.

Road transport emissions are a major contributor to air pollution, particularly in our urban communities. Since 2000, the number of vehicles on Australia's roads has increased by around a third and better fuel quality and emissions standards has ensured some good progress has been made.

The more we know about the effects of air pollution, the more important it is that fuel quality and emissions are effectively managed.

As the Australian community has interests in the environmental and vehicle operability issues relating to fuel quality, industry, businesses and members of the public will have the opportunity to provide input into the review.

It is expected a final report will be provided to the Government by November. The review will complement activities under the National Clean Air Agreement, which is currently being developed.

The review is also in line with the government's deregulation agenda which aims to reduce regulatory burden while achieving environmental outcomes.

Further information on national fuel quality and fuel quality information standards and how to contribute to the Review is available

 Presentation - managing water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments

Queensland Audit Office: Published on 9 Jun 2015

Report 20: 2014-15

This report sought to determine whether the adverse impact of broad scale land use on the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef was declining. To determine this we focused on:

- the efficacy of the activities and programs undertaken or funded by Queensland Government agencies

- the effectiveness of monitoring of these activities and programs

- the reliability of public reporting of outcomes, particularly the reporting on the achievement of the Reef Plan targets and progress toward long-term goals.

Download full report at:

 2015 Environment Minister's Award for a Cleaner Environment

Media release: 5 June 2015, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

I am delighted to mark World Environment Day 2015 with a call for nominations for this year's Environment Minister's Award for a Cleaner Environment.

This award aims to recognise outstanding contributions by Australians towards achieving a cleaner, healthier environment and a more resilient and sustainable Australia.

The Australian Government's plan for a Cleaner Environment plan rests on the pillars of Clean Air, Clean Land and Clean Water and national heritage protection.

I want this award to recognise Australians taking practical, direct action under one or more of the three environment pillars - air, land and water. I know how many groups and individuals across the nation are working locally to achieve great things, not only for their own communities but for environmental health of the nation.

The Minister's award is part of the 2015 Banksia Sustainability Awards programme and is open to individuals, businesses or community organisations working towards a cleaner environment.

Projects that demonstrate how they have contributed to the Government's Clean Air, Land and Water environmental pillars are eligible for consideration. Projects need to address at least one or more of the pillars.

Clean Air entries could involve projects including revegetation and land management, energy efficiency, pollution control and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, recycling and waste management.

Clean Land entries could include work to protect threatened species, eradicate weeds and reduce fuel in bushland reserves, protect beaches from erosion or rehabilitate coastal foreshores.

Clean Water entries may be stabilising riverbanks and reducing weed density to promote healthy local waterways or taking action to help marine species in our oceans.

For more information on the Environment Minister's Award for a Cleaner Environment, including a nomination form, go to

Nominations close on 4 September 2015.

 Innovation in Priority Problem Wastes Management Grants Program

Program snapshot

Category: Recycling Innovation Fund 

Amounts: Total funding of $8.5 million.

Stream 1 - $7 million to support innovative infrastructure projects that demonstrate new and emerging technologies; individual grants: $100,000 to $1 million to cover 50 per cent of capital costs.

Stream 2 - $1.5 million targeted at establishing recycled material markets for the priority problem wastes through research and development; individual grants: $20,000 to $100,000 to cover 50 per cent of capital costs.

Eligible bodies: Industry, councils, not-for profit, tertiary/research organisations. 


Status: Round 1 opened 19 May 2015. Depending on the level of interest and funding awarded, this may be the final round. Grants close 5 pm 16 July 2015.

Managed by: NSW Environmental Trust 


The Innovation in Priority Problem Wastes Management Grants Program aims at innovative projects that will provide new recycling infrastructure solutions, establish (or expand) recycled material markets through research and development, and improve and introduce new approaches and technologies to increase the efficiency of recycling facilities for the wastes listed in the Environment Protection Authority's 'priority problem' wastes list.

Wastes targeted as priorities under both streams of the program are 'problematic' materials that are not captured under other Waste Less, Recycle More programs, do not have existing mature markets or are contaminating waste streams that could otherwise be recovered if they were removed.

The final list of Priority Problem Wastes that have been adopted by the Environment Protection Authority for the program include:


Plastic film and other plastics

Copper Chrome Arsenic (CCA) timber and other treated timbers

Tyres and rubber

Nappies and incontinence pads.

Strong and compelling proposals for other wastes will still be considered. These other waste could include:

materials that lack established recycled material markets in NSW

residue wastes generated from recycling processes

contaminants that if removed could increase the recovery of a waste stream

high toxicity, low volume waste streams that pose significant risk of harm to the environment and human health.

How to apply

Download application forms and guidelines from the NSW Environmental Trust website

 Google's Ocean Views 

C/-Save Our Marine Life (Australia)

June 9, 2015

Google celebrated World Oceans Day by launching a very different Street View! Without leaving your computer you can explore over 40 underwater locations around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef.

The images can be used to monitor change over time, and show the beauty of our oceans and the threats they face.

see them all here: 

 Turtle handling a top priority for Indigenous rangers

Published: 09/06/2015 - GBRMPA

Injured turtles in far north Queensland will now have a smoother ride to rehabilitation after Yuku Baja Muliku rangers recently shared their turtle handling skills with local fisherman and marine park rangers in Cooktown.

The training focused on how to best pick up sick and injured turtles out on the water and transport them to the Archer Point Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority acting director of Indigenous Partnerships Paul Cochran said this training was important for giving injured turtles the best chance of survival.

“Transporting injured turtles to the turtle hospital can be risky business,” he said.

“Injured turtles need to be handled carefully so they have the best chance of recovery once they get to the turtle hospital.

“The training by the Yuku Baja Muliku rangers is part of their Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement, which formally describes how the group manage traditional activities, such as hunting, on their sea country.

“The Yuku Baja Muliku rangers have done an outstanding job using their Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement to help endangered and vulnerable turtles.

“They’ve built the Archer Point Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre from scratch — it’s an excellent facility to care for sick and injured turtles.

“The community also self-imposed a ban on traditional turtle hunting while they research turtle populations in their sea country.”

The rehabilitation centre was built following cyclone Yasi, which destroyed seagrass meadows off Archer Point and left sea turtle populations stressed.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef Region and evidence of their sea country connections goes back over 60,000 years.

There are approximately 70 Traditional Owner clan groups whose sea country includes the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

 More water savings and capped bores for the Great Artesian Basin

Joint media release: 9 June 2015

The Australian Government in partnership with the Queensland Government is delivering more investment to ensure water savings for Queensland’s Great Artesian Basin, one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world.

As a result of a new agreement, Queensland will be eligible to receive a share of $15 million to help assist landholders rehabilitate remaining free flowing bores in the state. 

Federal Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment Bob Baldwin said the Australian Government had been working with Great Artesian Basin jurisdictions since October 2014 to get the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) back up and running.

“The Great Artesian Basin is the lifeblood of many rural communities and their related pastoral, agricultural, mining and tourism activities, which is why preserving its water is so important for these communities and the environment,” Mr Baldwin said.

“Uncontrolled flow from bores and open earth bore drains in the Basin threatens the health of important groundwater-dependant ecosystems and access to artesian water by property owners.

“As a government, we’re committed to creating more sustainable communities and the GABSI agreement reduces water wastage.

“I thank the local member Bruce Scott for his work to ensure that this important program continues to deliver results for his communities.”

Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Hon Dr Anthony Lynham said the State had now committed to Phase 4 of the program so that capping of remaining uncontrolled bores and piping of open bore drains could commence.

“With a share of $15 million of funding on offer we’ll be targeting projects that best suit the needs of Queensland’s rural communities,” Dr Lynham said.

“The GABSI has supported rural communities and environments for 15 years. Continued collaborative investment from the Australian Government will assist in maintaining the basin’s precious resources as well as ensure the long-term sustainability of basin industries, communities and ecological and social values, including the renowned spring systems.

“The Queensland Government has committed to contributing matching funds towards progressing the completion of capping and piping of outstanding flowing bores under the new program.

“Landholders can contribute to the total cost of the project through in-kind and cash contributions.”

Dr Lynham said that Queensland would soon commence seeking expressions of interest from eligible landholders to participate in the new program.

Federal LNP Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott said this was a great outcome for producers and communities dependent on the Great Artesian Basin.

“Now that the Queensland Government has come on board, I encourage landholders with free flowing bores to submit an expression of interest to ensure the sustainability of our precious water resources,” Mr Scott said.

“The success of this project over the last 15 years shouldn’t be underestimated. We’ve seen 364 uncontrolled bores rehabilitated and 12,214 km of bore drains replaced with pipelines, but there is still more work to do.

“I’d like to thank many landholders in Maranoa who have already completed work under this program, which is contributing to annual water savings of more than 130,000 megalitres.”

 Aboriginal Elder wins court case to protect environment

05/06/2015: EDO NSW

The Lismore Council and NSW Department of Planning decision to remove environment protection zones from the environmental plan that will allow the development of the North Lismore Plateau has today been ruled invalid by a court after legal action by Aboriginal elder, Michael Ryan.

EDO NSW, on behalf of Mr Ryan, challenged the validity of the changes made to the Local Environmental Plan in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

The last minute amendments removed the only legal protection for important plants, animals and Aboriginal cultural heritage.  The Environmental Plan originally protected 28.5 per cent of the 255 hectare North Lismore Plateau site. The rest of the rural land was mostly zoned for housing development.

The environmental protection zones had been included in the original proposal for the Local Environmental Plan amendment and were publicly exhibited by Lismore City Council. They were intended to protect Aboriginal heritage sites and areas of environmental value. These zones included regenerating lowland sub-tropical and dry rainforest, which provide habitat for threatened fauna, such as koalas, the Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, and threatened microbat species, as well as sites containing the rare native plant species, Thorny Pea and Hairy Joint grass.

The environmental protection zones were removed, apparently due to the Department of Planning’s ongoing review of the use of environmental zoning by councils in northern NSW.

Mr Ryan objected to the removal of the environmental protection zoning due to its potential impact on the cultural heritage and environment of the North Lismore Plateau. The basis of his objection related primarily to the fact that the Environmental Plan that was made was fundamentally different to the one everybody thought was being made and as it was publicly exhibited.

Mr Ryan argued that given that no opportunities for public consultation were provided in regard to the fundamentally altered Local Environmental Plan amendment, there had been a failure to provide procedural fairness to the community as the law requires.

 Pittwater YHA Backpacker Hostel - Nature & Wildlife Heaven

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

Abbott Government invests further $40 million to address gaps in frontline community services

10 June 2015

Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison today announced the Abbott Government will invest an extra $40 million into more than 100 frontline community services across Australia following a comprehensive gap analysis of the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) grants scheme.

“On becoming Minister I announced that existing frontline community services which were unsuccessful as a result of a comprehensive tender process under the DSS New Way of Working for Grants scheme would receive bridging funding to ensure continuity of services. This funding, through to 30 June, also enabled the government to identify and address critical frontline service gaps that emerged as a result of the grants process which concluded last December,” Minister Morrison said.

“Organisations identified and selected as part of this process will be offered contracts and funding for two additional years, from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2017. This gives certainty to the Australians who rely on these services and to the volunteers, staff, and management who provide them.

“Ninety four organisations have been identified and will now be offered contracts and extended funding to provide ongoing services in these areas see list on [Department of Social Services website]. My Department is engaging with these organisations to work through the contractual arrangements.  An additional 17 service providers in the area of mental health are also now being sourced to deliver services in other gap areas. This process will be finalised and outcomes advised in the near future. 

“In total more than 100 organisations will receive ongoing funding in excess of $40 million, in funding secured in the 2014/15 Budget, to deliver important frontline community services in areas, after having been unsuccessful in the social services grants round that was finalised last December.

“The organisations receiving these funds play important roles in our local communities – from providing rehabilitation services to those affected by drugs and alcohol, playgroups for children with special needs, to providing support to adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

“I thank my Parliamentary colleagues for bringing these service gaps to my attention. Their representations have been a critical part of this process to ensure that services will continue to be there for those who need them.

“The Abbott Government is investing in some 700 organisations across Australia delivering important services and activities to support their community as part of the DSS New Way of Working for Grants scheme.”

Services and activities now available to the community through a range of different grants programmes include:

• Children and Parenting Services to boost prevention and early intervention services, provide resources that are aimed at improving children’s development and wellbeing, and support the capacity of those in a parenting role

• Settlement Services, shared by 90 organisations across Australia which help newly arrived migrants and refugees to become active and fully participating members of the community

• Community Mental Health to assist organisations across more than 50 locations deliver early intervention support for children and young people up to 18 years of age to reduce risk factors for poor mental health and improve mental health outcomes enabling them to reach their full potential

• Financial Counselling, Capability and Resilience programmes to support Australians experiencing personal and financial hardship, to address their financial difficulties, and build long-term capability critical to improving or rebuilding their lives

Find and Connect services and representative organisations which provide specialist support for people adversely affected by past institutional, child welfare and child migration practices and policies

• Building community capacity, assisting community organisations to respond to local needs, support vulnerable individuals and families, facilitate partnerships that will result in better services and service integration, and increase participation of people in community life

• Volunteer Support Services and one-off Volunteer Innovation and Collaboration projects through helping community organisations build better volunteering practices and on-the-ground support and information for volunteers

• Diversity and Social Cohesion funding to deliver activities and events that empower and connect local communities and their leaders, including the national Harmony Day celebrations.

“These grants not only meet the Abbott Government’s commitment to a host of community groups across Australia, they also provide greater certainty for social service providers to improve service delivery for the community,” Minister Morrison said.

To assist people locate services of interest to them, the DSS Grant Service Directory will be launched on the Department’s website - DSS Grants Service Directory this week. The directory is an easy to use online tool that allows services funded through this process to be searched by type or location.

For more information on the Department of Social Services’ New Way of Working for Grants scheme visit the DSS Grants page

 Study lists top 10 causes of ill health in Australia


Lower back pain is the leading cause of ill health in Australians according to an international study, supported by UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. 

Lower back pain is the leading cause of ill health in Australians according to an international study, supported by UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. 

The study led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington and published in the Lancet, analysed 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries.

The study assessed the impact of each of the conditions on mobility, hearing, vision or whether it caused pain in some way, to determine years lived with disability (YLDs).

In 2013, neck pain, migraines, and anxiety disorders were among the 10 leading causes of YLDs in Australia. For women in Australia, diabetes and Alzheimer’s have replaced iron-deficiency anemia and hearing loss in the top 10 causes of YLDs.

It also found people across Australia are living longer but spending more time in ill health as rates of nonfatal diseases and injuries, including low back pain, major depressive disorder, and other musculoskeletal disorders such as shoulder injuries and fractures from osteoporosis, decline more slowly than death rates.

Co-author of the study, Professor Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW, says the health of Australians is increasingly threatened by non-fatal ailments like back and neck pains and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety

“At the same time, deadly diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes are also costing Australians many years of healthy life. It is critical that we understand which diseases and injuries are causing disability so that we can effectively allocate resources.”

Other key findings from the study include:

• As people aged they experienced a greater number of ailments resulting from nonfatal diseases and injuries: the number of people who suffered from 10 or more ailments increased by 52% between 1990 and 2013.

• A relatively small number of diseases have a massive impact with just two acute diseases – affecting people for less than three months – caused more than 20 billion new cases of disease globally in 2013: upper respiratory infections (18.8 billion) and diarrheal diseases (2.7 billion).

Leading causes of YLDs in Australia for both sexes in 2013

1. Low back pain

2. Major depressive disorder

3. Other musculoskeletal disorders

4. Neck pain

5. Migraine

6. Anxiety disorders

7. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

8. Asthma

9. Age-related and other hearing loss

10. Diabetes mellitus

Read the full NDARC media release here

Full study available here

 Heart attack risk increases 16-21% with use of common antacid

June 10, 2015

Adults who use proton pump inhibitors are between 16 and 21 percent more likely to experience a heart attack than people who don't use the commonly prescribed antacid drugs, according to a massive new study by Houston Methodist and Stanford University scientists.

An examination of 16 million clinical documents representing 2.9 million patients also showed that patients who use a different type of antacid drug called an H2 blocker have no increased heart attack risk. The findings, reported in PLOS ONE, follow a Circulation report in 2013 in which scientists showed how -- at a molecular level -- PPIs might cause long-term cardiovascular disease and increase a patient's heart attack risk.

"Our earlier work identified that the PPIs can adversely affect the endothelium, the Teflon-like lining of the blood vessels," said John Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., a senior author of the PLOS ONE report. "That observation led us to hypothesize that anyone taking PPIs may be at greater risk for heart attack. Accordingly, in two large populations of patients, we asked what happened to people that were on PPIs versus other medications for the stomach."

The PLOS ONE study's principal investigator was Stanford vascular medicine specialist Nicholas J. Leeper, M.D.

In the present study, the researchers found a clear and significant association between exposure to PPIs and the occurrences of heart attack.

"By looking at data from people who were given PPI drugs primarily for acid reflux and had no prior history of heart disease, our data-mining pipeline signals an association with a higher rate of heart attacks," said the PLOS ONE report's lead author, Nigam H. Shah, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Stanford, where the work was done. "Our results demonstrate that PPIs appear to be associated with elevated risk of heart attack in the general population, and H2 blockers show no such association."

The estimated increase of heart attack risk ranges from 16 to 21 percent, because of uncertainty in the estimation process, Shah said.

The FDA estimates about 1 in 14 Americans has used proton pump inhibitors. In 2009, PPIs were the third-most taken type of drug in the U.S., and are believed to account for $13 billion in annual global sales. Doctors prescribe PPIs to treat a wide range of disorders, including gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, infection by the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and Barrett's esophagus. The drugs can also be purchased over the counter. PPIs come in a variety of slightly different chemical forms, always ending with the suffix "-prazole," for example, omeprazole or lansoprazole. Brand examples of PPIs are Nexium, Prilosec, and PrevAcid.

H2 blockers are another type of antacid drug. They are not believed to be associated with increased risk of heart attack or cardiovascular disease. Examples of the drug are cimetidine and ranitidine. Brand examples of H2 blockers are Zantac and Tagamet.

The researchers collected data from two repositories -- STRIDE (Stanford Translational Research Integrated Database Environment), which contains information about 1.8 million Stanford hospital and clinic patients, and a subset of information for 1.1 million patients from the Web-based electronic medical records company Practice Fusion, Inc. Both sources of patient information were anonymized before the researchers accessed the data.

The group scanned the databases for patients who were prescribed proton pump inhibitors or other drugs, such as H2 blockers, and also looked to see if a given patient had a mention of having experienced a major cardiovascular event, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), in their medical record.

Patients who had used PPIs were found to be at 1.16-1.21-fold-increased risk of heart attack.

A 2013 report to Circulation by several of the present report's coauthors, including Cooke, raised the possibility that PPIs could lead to cardiovascular disease in the general population.

"This led us to use powerful 'big-data' approaches to try to determine whether PPIs might in fact be associated with risk in 'all comers,' Leeper said. "Our report raises concerns that these drugs -- which are available over the counter and are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world -- may not be as safe as we previously assumed."

In the future, the researchers say they hope to conduct a large, prospective, randomized trial to determine whether PPIs are harmful to a broader population of patients.

Nigam H. Shah, Paea LePendu, Anna Bauer-Mehren, Yohannes T. Ghebremariam, Srinivasan V. Iyer, Jake Marcus, Kevin T. Nead, John P. Cooke, Nicholas J. Leeper. Proton Pump Inhibitor Usage and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction in the General Population. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (6): e0124653 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124653 

 Funding for autism early intervention research

9 June 2015 - Joint Media Release with: Parliamentary to the Minister for Education, Scott Ryan

The Abbott Government announced today it will provide research funding for a pilot study on the transition of children with autism to primary school.

The Federal Minister with responsibility for disability, Senator Mitch Fifield, joined Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, Senator Scott Ryan, to visit the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre (ASELCC) at La Trobe University in Bundoora to make the announcement today.

The Senators announced $278,000 has been allocated to research body Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to conduct the study, of which the La Trobe ASELCC is a member.

Minister Fifield said that the funding was in addition to $16 million funding for Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres (ASELCCs) announced in March this year by the Abbott Government.

“This is timely research that will evaluate the transition of children with autism from early intervention settings to primary school,” Minister Fifield said.

“It will provide valuable insight into what makes a successful transition to school for children with autism.”

“The pilot is part of a larger project to evaluate early intervention outcomes for children with autism and will lay the ground work to develop evidence-based guidelines for best practice,” Minister Fifield said.

Senator Scott Ryan said the Abbott Government is committed to improving the lives of children with disability and their families.

“Early intervention has a critical role in helping children with disability develop their capacity and readiness for school,” Senator Ryan said.

“That’s why the Abbott Government has committed to funding this research, which will help to improve our knowledge and understanding of how we can help children with autism to reach their full potential as they move into school.”

“It’s great that local kids with autism in Bundoora and the surrounding area will have the opportunity to take part in this pilot,” Senator Ryan said.

 Detecting blood clots with portable device

10 June 2015

Blockages in lung arteries could be diagnosed safely in real-time helping as many as 20,000 respiratory patients in Australia each year with emerging technology being developed by electrical engineering researchers at the University of Sydney.

Results of a 3 year ARC funded project investigating an alternate method for diagnosing pulmonary embolism (PE) that combined Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) and saline based contrast was published as a feature article in The Journal of Physiological Measurement and followed up on Medical Physics Web, the number one online resource for medical physicists this week.

PhD candidate Trang Nguyen, an Australian Research Council Postgraduate Award recipient and lead author on the paper says the team was focussed on developing a portable, radiation-free and non-toxic device to replace the current invasive procedure which relies heavily on methods such as CT pulmonary angiograms.

Nguyen says:

"This approach exposes a patient to ionizing radiation and nephrotoxic contrast agents. It also requires a patient to be moved to a dedicated imaging chamber, which is far from ideal for critically ill patients."

"EIT is an emerging clinical tool. It is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that uses electrical currents to probe impedance changes within the body," explains Nguyen.

"Ventilation and perfusion are two sides of the same coin. We started from the premise that in order to understand the physiological state of the patient's lungs, both ventilation and pulmonary perfusion information are required. We were particularly motivated by the possibility of using EIT for diagnosis of PE," she explains.

With assistance from Westmead Cardiology Research Group, the team concluded that EIT can reliably detect the difference between normal and embolized lungs with a one-sided perfusion defect, pointing out that a larger trial is required before the method can be used clinically for diagnosis of PE.

Pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. The blockage usually is caused by a blood clot that travels to the lung from a vein in the leg.

"While PE can lead to severe and possible long-term damage of the cardiovascular system, its symptoms are highly unspecific," says senior author Dr Alistair McEwan and Nguyen's PhD Supervisor.

"As EIT is less invasive and does not use radiation, we are hopeful that it can be used as a first-stop imaging diagnosis for PE before a CT pulmonary angiogram is prescribed, to reduce radiation and contrast exposure in patients," says Dr McEwan who leads a research team dedicated to researching the electrical properties of biological tissue.

"Understanding these properties will enable us to better address a range of major health challenges relating to cardiovascular disease, cancer and nutrition," he says.

 Longest ever tiger shark tracking reveals remarkable, bird-like migrations

June 9, 2015 -  Tiger sharks are among the largest and most recognizable sharks on the planet, yet many of their habits remain mysterious because they are long-distance travelers that are hard to track. But a new study, reported in the June 9 issue of the journal Scientific Reports, has yielded the first ever continuous, two or more-year satellite tagging tracks for the animals. This study reveals remarkable, and previously unknown, migration patterns more similar to birds, turtles and some marine mammals than other fishes.

Long believed to be mainly a coastal species, the tiger sharks, in fact, made more than 7,500 kilometer, round-trip journeys every year between two vastly different ecosystems -- the coral reefs of the Caribbean and the open waters of the mid-North Atlantic. Furthermore, they returned reliably to the same overwintering areas each year, a discovery with significant conservation implications.

The study was led by James Lea and Brad Wetherbee, Ph.D., co-first authors, and senior author, Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., all of whom work out of Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) Guy Harvey Research Institute in Florida. Renowned marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey, a Ph.D. fisheries ecologist, is also an author on the paper and co-led the project's tagging work, which took place near Bermuda, in collaboration with the Bermuda Shark Project.

'As apex predators, the presence of tiger sharks -- and other large sharks -- is vital to maintain the proper health and balance of our oceans,' said Dr. Shivji, who is professor at NSU and also the director of NSU's GHRI. 'That's why it's so important to conserve them, and understanding their migratory behavior is essential to achieving this goal.'


The details of the movements and migrations of tiger sharks and most other large shark species have been a mystery because they are difficult to track for more than a few months because of tag or other logistic limitations. For this project, the tags the team attached to sharks near Bermuda lasted in many cases more than two years, and in some cases more than three years, sending satellite position data each time an animal surfaced.

One tiger shark, named Harry Lindo, traveled more than 44,000 kilometers (27,000 miles), the longest track distance documented for a tiger shark and possibly the longest ever published for a shark.

'It is truly remarkable,' said Harvey of the animal's travels.

Tiger Shark Highway

The researchers were able to show that adult male tiger sharks in the Atlantic repeatedly spend their winters in Caribbean island locales including the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Anguilla. Then, during summers, they travel far into the North Atlantic, often more than 3,500 kilometers and as far north as Connecticut, though well offshore in nearly the middle of the ocean.

'These repeated journeys were very unexpected,' said Lea, who also works out of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 'The tiger shark has traditionally been considered a coastal species, and it is rare among sharks to so easily and habitually switch between the two vastly different environments.'

Remarkably, the sharks followed the same pattern each year and returned to almost the same small area in the Caribbean each time.

'Even though they've got a whole range of islands to choose from, it seems like each animal has its favorite winter spot,' said Shivji.

For the tiger sharks, the migrations are something like a 'highway road trip,' on their way to definite destinations. Bermuda is a handy spot for tiger shark tagging because it is the equivalent of a popular highway exit -- lots of animals stop off there for a break while heading north or south. But for the most part the animals travelled directly between their migration destinations, meandering around only after arriving.

Why They Go

What makes the tiger sharks so committed to particular areas is still an open question. At the south end, the story may be fairly simple. Female tiger sharks are common in the Caribbean in the winter, so the Caribbean may just be the best place for male tiger sharks to find dates, although this is just an educated guess.

Why they go so far north is more complicated. How far they go seems to be guided by avoidance of colder temperatures -- information that offers one example of how migration research can help to predict the implications of climate change for sharks.

'There's got to be something really good up there to make the sharks undertake such massive, repeated swims, but exactly what is a puzzle,' said Shivji.

One possibility is that they go to feed on young loggerhead turtles that also migrate north -- indeed when the researchers examined stomachs of some tiger sharks killed by long liners in the region, they found turtle remains. But then there are also turtles much farther south.

Great White Similarities

The only other instance where researchers have found a broadly similar, repeated migration pattern between coastal and distant open water regions is with the warm-bodied, great white and salmon sharks in the Pacific Ocean. White sharks migrate in the winter from the California and Baja coasts to a mid-Pacific open water area dubbed the 'White Shark Café.'

'We joke that tiger sharks, not being media stars like white sharks, wouldn't be comfortable in a 'café' and prefer to hang-out in their 'truck-stop' in the mid-Atlantic,' says Wetherbee, who is also based at the University of Rhode Island.

Conservation Implications

Tiger sharks are nearing threatened status, in part because of targeting for the soup fin trade. One of the most important implications of the new research, therefore, is for conservation.

'Understanding how these animals use the oceans is the first step toward effective conservation,' said Harvey. 'Protecting migratory species is a great challenge because they can be found in such a wide area. Protecting the areas where animals, such as tiger sharks, spend the most time is a tractable goal once those areas have been identified.'

Guided in part by early access to the GHRI team's data about the importance of the Bahamas habitat to the tiger shark's annual migratory pathways, The Bahamas government established a shark sanctuary in 2011 prohibiting commercial shark fishing in their territorial waters.

How to Follow Sharks

All of the satellite tracks for tiger sharks in this study, as well as ongoing tracks for other species including mako sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and marlins, can be found online

1. James S. E. Lea, Bradley M. Wetherbee, Nuno Queiroz, Neil Burnie, Choy Aming, Lara L. Sousa, Gonzalo R. Mucientes, Nicolas E. Humphries, Guy M. Harvey, David W. Sims, Mahmood S. Shivji. Repeated, long-distance migrations by a philopatric predator targeting highly contrasting ecosystems. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 11202 DOI:10.1038/srep11202

Top: This is the tiger shark from a side view. Credit: Courtesy of Nick Filmalter/Danah Divers

 Tasmania's Willow Court Barracks Precinct and Frascati House to be assessed by the Australian Heritage Council

Joint media release: 10 June 2015; The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment; Eric Hutchinson MP, Federal Member for Lyons

The Australian Government is pleased to announce that Tasmania’s Willow Court Barracks Precinct and Frascati House, New Norfolk, will be assessed by the Australian Heritage Council for possible inclusion on the National Heritage List. 

“I am delighted the Willow Court Barracks Precinct and Frascati House will be included on the Australian Heritage Council’s work plan,” Minister Hunt said.

“The inclusion of the Precinct and Frascati House on the Australian Heritage Council’s work plan was the first step towards possible national heritage recognition of this important site of our early colonial history.

“I was fortunate enough to visit Willow Court last year at the invitation of Eric Hutchinson. It’s a very impressive place and an important part of our history.”

“Eric Hutchinson is a great local member and a very strong advocate for the ongoing protection and recognition of the Willow Court Barracks Precinct and Frascati House.” 

The Federal Member for Lyons, Eric Hutchinson, said Willow Court Barracks Precinct and Frascati House were components of the first mental health institution in Australia.

“Regardless of what findings come from the assessment, this will provide a comprehensive reference document for the first time about the historic and social significance of this precinct,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“There are many people at New Norfolk who will welcome this decision because of their close, emotional ties to Willow Court which has been a significant part of the town’s history for more than 170 years.”

Willow Court Barracks Precinct reflects the evolution of philosophies for treating the mentally ill over 170 years from the 19th century asylum model to the more supportive and integrative health care approaches developed in the 20th century. 

The Australian Heritage Council’s assessment is expected to be completed by June 2017. 


About Willow Court:

Willow Court is the oldest, continually run asylum located in the island state of Tasmania, Australia and had its heritage start in 1827. This is older than the well-known and well visited Port Arthur. Asylums like Willow Court that once segregated and housed people with disabilities have lain empty and often unused for the last decade. As the Social Model of care was rolled out the vacating of these institutions began. Tasmania was the first state in Australia to de-institutionalise all of the people it housed and closed the doors of Willow Court/Royal Derwent Hospital in late 2000.

This social experiment was watched by other states in Australia, which also had started their own journey of de-institutionalisation. Communities were left with large complexes and equally large maintenance bills, often too much for small municipal councils or state governments to bear through their rate payer/tax payer base. Theft, arson and vandalism all added to already growing problems of natural decay. This is the story of Willow Court in New Norfolk Tasmania, a peaceful township on the banks of the Derwent River 30 km from Hobart.

Find out more here:

 Parasitic art in Denmark’s Sculpture by the Sea


Forget Bondi. UNSW's Richard Goodwin has taken his latest public art work to Scandinavia for Denmark’s version of Sculpture by the Sea.

UNSW Professor Richard Goodwin is one of only seven Australian artists selected to take part in Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus – Denmark, an outdoor exhibition of 55 sculptures displayed on the coast of Denmark’s second-largest city, Aarhus.

An award-winning artist and architect, Goodwin is exhibiting TWIN PARASITE, a large-scale sculpture that features a wheel-less car appearing to have collided with a column in mid-air.

The sculpture builds on the artist’s previous Exoskeleton and Parasite series, which explore Goodwin’s fascination with mechanics and the transformation of existing objects and architecture to give new meaning.

He describes TWIN PARASITE as “the collision of architecture in process and ideas about sculpture or experimental art post 9/11”.

Goodwin, from UNSW Art & Design, has been awarded numerous major prizes including: The National Sculpture Award 1985, The Sculpture by the Sea Prize 2003, Helen Lempriere Award 2004, the Blackett Award for Architecture in 2004, and the Wynne Prize from the Art Gallery of NSW 2011.

His architectural practice concentrates on parasitic connections between private and public space. Recent works include the Cope Street parasite and the Deepdene Parasite.

More than half a million visitors are expected to visit the Danish Sculpture by the Sea, which opened last week.

The initiative to establish the annual exhibition came from The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark’s enthusiasm for the Bondi exhibition, which they visited as part of Sculpture by the Sea’s 15th anniversary celebrations.

Top: TWIN PARASITE by Richard Goodwin

 A Swift Exit For Tasmanian Parrot

10/06/15: BirdLife Australia

The Swift Parrot is on track to extinction at a faster rate than almost any other Australian bird. BirdLife Australia’s Head of Conservation, Samantha Vine, explains why.

Above: The Critically Endangered Swift Parrot. Photo by Chris Tzaros

With their vibrant colors, cheerful calls and fast-flying athleticism, it’s hard not to love the Swift Parrot. Yet the bird has a history of provoking animosity, with the parrot regularly finding itself at the centre of a conflict that has divided communities for decades: the management of Tasmanian forests.

The species became infamous in 2006 when the Federal Court of Australia ruled that forestry operations in Tasmania’s Wielangta area were likely “to have a significant impact on the Swift Parrot by reducing part of its prime nesting habitat, being habitat used by it when suitable foraging conditions exist.”

Yet logging of Swift Parrot breeding habitat continues apace under a deal between the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Governments, known as the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). Under the RFA legislation, any deals reached are exempted from the protective provisions of the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act (EPBC) which are in place to protect endangered species.

Although they spend their winters foraging across Victoria, NSW, the ACT and Queensland, the less than 1,000 pairs of remaining Swift Parrots rely on Tasmania’s mature eucalypt forests to breed. As stated in the 2011 National Recovery Plan for the Swift Parrot, “the persistence of this species is mainly threatened by loss and alteration of habitat from forestry activities…”

Above: Forest loss in Tasmania's Southern Forests Swift Parrot Important Breeding Area (SPIBA) between 200-2012 (red) alongside the remaining fragments of Swift Parrot breeding habitat (blue). Map supplied by Dejan Stojanovic

Recent revelations that the Tasmanian Government ignored the expert advice of its own scientists and allowed Swift Parrot breeding habitat to be logged shine some light on how this threat is allowed to continue. Documents obtained under Tasmanian Freedom of Information laws show that the Tasmanian Environment Department (DPIPWE) sought specialist expert advice regarding five proposed logging coupes within an identified ‘Swift Parrot Important Breeding Area’ in the Southern Forests. The expert advice warned that logging in the coupes would result in the loss of critical breeding habitat and interfere with the recovery of the species. Yet, despite the advice, the Department approved logging in three of the five coupes for which information was provided.

The documents reveal that the Tasmanian government is both aware of the risk posed to Swift Parrots by ongoing logging of its habitat, and that it will permit logging to occur irrespective of clear, strongly worded expert advice to the contrary.

Since these revelations, more evidence points to a systemic problem. Bruny Island is a critical refuge for Swift Parrots. Nevertheless, Swift Parrot breeding habitat on the island is currently being logged. Logging is also proposed adjacent to the beautiful Inala Private Reserve, which was fortunately protected by a conservation covenant as part of BirdLife Australia’s Woodland Birds for Biodiversity Project. As well as being home to Swift Parrots, Inala provides habitat for Forty-spotted Pardalote, the Tasmanian subspecies of Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, white morph of the Grey Goshawk, and Masked Owl. Almost 100 species of birds have been recorded at Inala and the nature-based tourism venture directly employs seven Bruny Islanders and several local businesses to provide services such as catering. Yet Forestry Tasmania has served notice of intent to clearfell the neighbouring property (identified as Coupe SB016B) in October this year. In April, local businesses and landowners called for immediate cessation of logging Bruny Island coupes known to contain Swift Parrot nests.

The logging of documented nesting sites raises uncomfortable questions about why logging is still allowed in critical areas for Swift Parrots. Management tools like the ‘Threatened Fauna Advisor’ and the ‘Swift Parrot Interim Habitat Planning Guideline’ are already available and a great start for managing the competing interests of logging and Swift Parrots. However, the Freedom of Information documents and current logging of known breeding habitat on Bruny Island and in the Southern Forests points to a systemic failure of governance that could drive the species to extinction in the very near future.

In recognition of the very high risk of extinction the parrot now faces, BirdLife Australia is calling for an immediate halt to all logging of Swift Parrot breeding habitat until we can be certain that enough breeding habitat is protected.

Ongoing habitat loss will likely worsen the situation, which makes it all the more imperative that logging of Swift Parrot breeding habitat on Bruny Island—which is free from Sugar Gliders—immediately and permanently cease.

We rely on our governments to look after our threatened species. Yet the situation in Tasmania demonstrates a breach of faith with the public, who have trusted both the State and Commonwealth Governments to protect this iconic species.

With deforestation in core breeding habitat still happening today in Tasmania, BirdLife Australia’s Threatened Species Committee and Research and Conservation Committee found that the species satisfied the criteria for listing as Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act. A nomination to the Federal Government has been submitted. 

Swift Parrots are one of only three migratory parrots on the planet. To lose them due to a failure in governance is simply unconscionable. For so long as Forestry Tasmania continues to log known Swift Parrot breeding habitat it contradicts the principles of sustainable forest management, and BirdLife Australia will continue to oppose their application for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification.

The Regional Forestry Agreement that exempts Forestry Tasmania from our national environmental law expires in 2017 and BirdLife Australia will fight to ensure that the Commonwealth can once again intervene if the State continues to drive a species down the path to extinction. We also continue to oppose the handover of Commonwealth environmental approval powers to any state or territory under the proposed ‘one-stop-shop’ arrangements. Because the Swift Parrot is a matter of national environmental significance it belongs to all Australians—just like koalas or the Great Barrier Reef—and a federal safeguard should always exist so that a State Government can’t permit extinction just because it is inconvenient for the profit line of vested interests.

Volunteers needed to survey for Swift Parrots in 2015

Each year since 1999 hundreds of dedicated volunteers survey for the now Critically Endangered Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater. Both of these species are highly nomadic and travel the south-east of the continent in search of food. The Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater survey weekends are on the third weekend in May and first weekend in August each year. They provide critical long-term data on the movements, habitat use and population size of the Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater. If you cannot do a survey on those dates, we are happy for people to get out a week either side of those weekends. Incidental sightings are always welcome, as we maintain a database of sightings for both species.

For more information about the Swift Parrot surveys and to get involved go to

 Study links brain inflammation triggered by chronic pain to anxiety and depression

June 9, 2015 - Brain inflammation caused by chronic nerve pain alters activity in regions that regulate mood and motivation, suggesting for the first time that a direct biophysical link exists between long-term pain and the depression, anxiety and substance abuse seen in more than half of these patients, UC Irvine and UCLA researchers report.

This breakthrough finding also points to new approaches for treating chronic pain, which is second only to bipolar disorder among illness-related causes of suicide. About a quarter of Americans suffer from chronic pain, making it the most common form of enduring illness for those under the age of 60. The Institute of Medicine estimates that this costs our society more than $635 billion per year.

In work with rodents, Catherine Cahill, associate professor of anesthesiology & perioperative care at UCI, Christopher Evans of UCLA's Brain Research Institute, and colleagues discovered that pain-derived brain inflammation causes the accelerated growth and activation of immune cells called microglia. These cells trigger chemical signals within neurons that restrict the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers.

The study also reveals why opioid drugs such as morphine can be ineffective against chronic pain. Morphine and its derivatives normally stimulate the release of dopamine. But in research on mice and rats in chronic pain, Cahill and her colleagues learned that these drugs failed to stimulate a dopamine response, resulting in impaired reward-motivated behavior.

Treating these animals in chronic pain with a drug that inhibits microglial activation restored dopamine release and reward-motivated behavior, Cahill said.

'For over 20 years, scientists have been trying to unlock the mechanisms at work that connect opioid use, pain relief, depression and addiction,' she added. 'Our findings represent a paradigm shift which has broad implications that are not restricted to the problem of pain and may translate to other disorders.'

The results of the five-year study appear online in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Next, Cahill and her team aim to establish that pain-derived changes in human brain circuitry can account for mood disorders. 'We have a drug compound that has the potential to normalize reward-like behavior,' she said, 'and subsequent clinical research could then employ imaging studies to identify how the same disruption in reward circuitry found in rodents occurs in chronic pain patients.'

A. M. W. Taylor, A. Castonguay, A. J. Taylor, N. P. Murphy, A. Ghogha, C. Cook, L. Xue, M. C. Olmstead, Y. De Koninck, C. J. Evans, C. M. Cahill.Microglia Disrupt Mesolimbic Reward Circuitry in Chronic Pain.Journal of Neuroscience, 2015; 35 (22): 8442 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4036-14.2015

 Study shows Australia’s flash flooding risks increase as peak downpours intensify


Thirty-year weather records from 79 locations across Australia reveal peak downpours during storms are intensifying at warmer temperatures, leading to greater flash flood risks. 

Patterns of peak rainfall during storms will intensify as the climate changes and temperatures warm, leading to increased flash flood risks in Australia’s urban catchments, new UNSW Australia research suggests.

Civil engineers from the UNSW Water Research Centre have analysed close to 40,000 storms across Australia spanning 30 years and have found warming temperatures are dramatically disrupting rainfall patterns, even within storm events.

Essentially, the most intense downpours are getting more extreme at warmer temperatures, dumping larger volumes of water over less time, while the least intense periods of precipitation are getting weaker. If this trend continues with future warming, the risk of flooding due to short-term extreme bursts of rainfall could increase even if the overall volume of rain during storms remains the same. The findings were published today in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“These more intense patterns are leading to more destructive storms, which can significantly influence the severity of flood flows,” says lead author and PhD candidate Conrad Wasko, from the UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “The climate zones we studied in Australia are representative of most global climates, so it’s very likely these same trends will be observed around the world.” 

Previous studies have looked at rainfall volumes over the total duration of storms, but this latest UNSW study is the first to look at temporal rainfall patterns within storms. Australian Bureau of Meteorology data from 79 locations across the country were used instead of computer simulations.

“Our results were consistent across all the climate zones in Australia, regardless of season or storm type, without exception,” said co-author and UNSW engineer, Professor Ashish Sharma. “This was an unexpected finding, and it supports our hypothesis that increasing temperatures are changing rainfall patterns.”  

“It means that most people in Australia can expect to see intensification in the magnitude of flash flooding in smaller catchments, particularly in urban or residential areas,” says Professor Sharma.

The paper quantifies this increase for a range of Australian cities representing different climates and finds that for a five degree Celsius temperature rise the flood peaks could increase by an average of 5% to 20% for a typical medium-sized catchment.

The increase in flood peaks are estimated to be about 19% for Hobart, 12% for Sydney, 10% for Perth, and 45% in Darwin, which has a tropical climate and a markedly different storm pattern than the other cities.

“The fact that these increases represent changes only in the intensity of rainfall within storms, and not the total volume of rain – which will also increase as temperatures warm – is concerning,” says Professor Sharma. “These results highlight the need for local councils to think about redesigning sewage and road infrastructure, and updating guidelines about where it’s safe to build homes.”  

The team analysed the 500 largest storms by rainfall volume from each of the 79 locations, taking into account near-surface temperatures at the time. These storms were then divided into five equal time-periods to determine when rainfall was heaviest.

Wasko says the next step is to incorporate the findings into a model that can predict rainfall in future climates. “That’s the big caveat,” he says. “Is our present-day climate indicative of potential changes to future climates? Or will we begin to see entirely new weather systems emerging as climates change?” 

 Sports participation shake up to get Australians off the couch

11 June 2015

The Abbott Government will unveil a new strategic way of supporting participation in organised sports as part of a $134 million funding package that will also focus on supporting high performance athletes in their charge to Rio.

Minister for Health and Sport Sussan Ley today announced over $22 million would be invested in sports participation in 2015/16 as part of the Abbott Government’s Play.Sport.Australia strategy. 

This includes a new funding model that will, for the first time, allocate funds through a transparent category structure based on a sport’s performance in engaging and delivering grass roots participation. 

It comes on top of the Abbott Government’s $100 million Sporting Schools participation initiative, which is currently taking applications at the Sporting Schools website.

Ms Ley also announced today almost $100 million would be invested into Australian National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) for high performance in 2015/16, with a particular focus on those sports leading into the Rio 2016 Olympics, with another $12 million to support athletes direct. 

“It’s essential for the health of Australia that the Government continues to have a balanced approach to investment in sport focussed on grassroots participation right through to our elite athletes,” Ms Ley said.

“The Abbott Government’s commitment continues to invest in sports that can contribute to the growth of participation numbers and provide more people with access to the health and social benefits that sport provides,” Ms Ley said.

A total of 27 sports have had their overall investment allocation increased in 2015-16 to improve participation through Government and sporting bodies working together to get more Australians active.

“This model provides a simple and clear approach to investing in participation and ensures support is given to the greatest number of grassroots participants,” Ms Ley said.

“This investment, along with the $100 million commitment to Sporting Schools earlier this year, highlights the Government’s desire to deliver a healthier nation through providing more opportunities for Australians to participate in sport.”

Ms Ley said the high performance allocations to sports followed a rigorous assessment of each sport’s ability to deliver positive outcomes at the upcoming Rio Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

“These grants represent the Government’s commitment to giving Australia’s elite athletes the best possible support as they prepare for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics next year and the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018,” Ms Ley said.

“The investment in high performance sports reflects the robust approach that has been adopted under Australia’s Winning Edge game plan.”

Investment decisions are based on a set of principles and an evidence-based approach that assesses a sport’s ability to contribute to the ambitious targets set out in Winning Edge.

Ms Ley said the additional $12 million would be provided to more than 750 eligible athletes under the means tested direct athlete support program known as dAIS.

“The Government is proud that it has maintained the investment funding pool for sports and athletes in 2015-16 and that in partnership we can continue to see outstanding international performances as well as create more participation opportunities for Australians.”

For more information visit the Australian Sports Commission website.

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.