Inbox and Environment News - Issue 223

 July 19 - 25, 2015: Issue 223

 What does a life lived on the autism spectrum look like?

14 July, 2015:  Dan Wheelahan, UNSW

The overwhelming sense of feeling ‘different’ is familiar to many of the 230,000 Australians living with autism. But how does that actually play out as an adult in day-to-day life? 

A first of its kind UNSW-led study is aiming to better understand how adults with autism experience their world.

The overwhelming sense of feeling ‘different’ is familiar to many of the 230,000 Australians living with autism. But how does that actually play out in day-to-day life?

A first of its kind UNSW-led study is aiming to better understand how adults with autism live and experience adulthood, in order to enhance their quality of life and wellbeing.

Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder which costs Australia an estimated $7 billion annually. Many adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience a range of social disadvantages including mental health problems, limited community participation and low employment rates.

The Australian Longitudinal Study of Adults with Autism spectrum conditions (ALSAA) is the first Australian longitudinal study to examine the lives of adults aged 25 and over with an autism spectrum condition.

Study leader, UNSW neuropsychiatrist, Professor Julian Trollor says despite growing public awareness there remains a lack of understanding surrounding the experiences of adults with autism, especially middle-aged and older Australians.

“Much of the research into autism has been focused on children and that means that the understanding of the experience of adults with autism is relatively limited,” Professor Trollor says.

“We also know that there is huge variability amongst people on the autism spectrum, so it’s important we better understand the different challenges and strengths of the groups of individuals on the spectrum.

“There is a clear need for more long term studies that look at the progression of autism over an individual’s lifetime, and this study will help fill that need.”

Joint study leader, postdoctoral research fellow, Dr Kitty-Rose Foley says the study will also examine the lives of carers of adults with autism spectrum conditions.

“Allowing individuals living with autism and their carers to contribute to this research will ensure we collect meaningful data to inform health services and guide policy development,” Dr Foley says.

The study is being conducted under the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism CRC), which is Australia’s first national cooperative research effort focused on autism.

The questionnaire-based study can be completed online or in writing, with an optional follow up questionnaire in two years. The questions cover a broad range of topics including mental and physical health, employment, behaviour, emotions, coping, memory, friendships and use of health services.

Adults 25 years or older, who have a diagnosis of Autism spectrum condition or Asperger’s syndrome (and/or their main carers) who interested in taking part in the study should contact Dr Foley at or (02) 9385 0620. 

 Major cities create unhappy Australians: A snapshot of our nation revealed

15 July 2015: University of Melbourne

Australians who live in towns of less than 1,000 residents or rural locations have significantly higher levels of life satisfaction than those living in major cities, according to Australia’s most comprehensive household survey.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey undertaken by the University of Melbourne found that the kind of community a person lives in, impacts their happiness significantly. Having neighbours who help out and homes and gardens in good condition adds to a person’s life satisfaction. 

According to report author, Associate Professor Roger Wilkins, from the University’s Melbourne Institute, the category of people in Australia that rated the highest life satisfaction were women who lived in Queensland. 

“The report examines what makes Australians happy and healthy. It is vital tool for researchers and policymakers who examine and construct the social and economic direction for Australia,” said Associate Professor Wilkins.

What makes Australians happy and healthy

• Major cities offer least life satisfaction.

• Living with a partner increases men’s health, but not women’s.

• Towns smaller than 1,000 people and non-urban areas increase life satisfaction the most, closely followed by urban areas outside major cities.

• Neighbors helping out and doing things together have large positive effects on life satisfaction.

• Those who lived in wealthier areas report higher levels of life satisfaction.

Employment and earnings

• Having a child significantly reduces likelihood of women re-entering the workforce but has no impact on men’s employment.

• Changing employer is the best way to improve earnings growth.

• The gender pay gap is increasing for part time workers.

• Australians over 50 are the least likely to re-enter the workforce.

• Time spent on welfare benefits is longer for those who commence on unemployment benefits than for those who commence on parenting payments.

Relationship satisfaction

• Men and women in de facto relationships are, on average, more satisfied with their partners.

• The longer the duration of the relationship, the lower the satisfaction (except after 20 or more years of marriage).

• Kids make us less happy in relationships.

• On average, men are more satisfied with their partners than women.

Parent/child relationships

• Children who moved out of the parental home at 21-24 years had an optimal outcome in terms of income and wealth in later adulthood. The situation is significantly worse for those who move out   before the age of 18 and to a lesser extent 18-20 or over 25.

• Having an employed mother while a daughter is 14 years of age means she is more likely to have a higher income later in life, however, for a son this doesn’t make any difference.

Sexual identity and wellbeing

• People who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) on average have poorer health and are less happy than people who identify as heterosexual.

• Gay and bisexual men feel less safe than heterosexual men.

• Smoking rates are much higher in LGB people – 33.8% of males and 26.8% of females – compared to 19.8% and 14.1% for heterosexual males and females respectively.

The HILDA Survey has been running since 2001, and approximately 17,000 Australians are interviewed yearly on issues from housework and income to health and happiness.

 “The HILDA Survey helps to shine a light on changing trends in the Australian community and economy,” said Associate Professor Wilkins. 

The HILDA Survey was initiated, and is funded, by the Australian Government through the Department of Social Services.

Read The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey 

 Like sitting, standing in the workplace may have long-term health consequences

July 14, 2015 - Recent research has warned of the health detriments associated with sitting for long stretches of time at the office, but what about the nearly half of all employees worldwide who are required to stand for more than 75% of their workdays? Prolonged standing is associated with short-term adverse health issues, including reports of fatigue, leg cramps, and backaches, which can affect job performance and cause significant discomfort. A new study published in Human Factors suggests that, over time, this type of sustained muscle fatigue can result in serious health consequences.

"The work-related musculoskeletal implications that can be caused by prolonged standing are a burden not only for workers but also for companies and society," notes María Gabriela García, a PhD candidate in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zürich. "Long-term muscle fatigue caused by standing for long periods of time has not received much attention."

In "Long-Term Muscle Fatigue After Standing Work," García and fellow human factors/ergonomics researchers Bernard Martin and Thomas Läubli asked participants of two age groups to simulate standing work for five-hour periods. Participants could take brief seated rest breaks and a 30-minute lunch.

The authors found evidence of significant long-term fatigue following the five-hour workday, even when it included regular breaks, and that adverse symptoms persisted for at least 30 minutes following a seated recovery period. Moreover, young adults ages 18 to 30 were just as likely to experience long-term fatigue as were workers over the age of 50.

"Long-term fatigue after prolonged standing work may be present without being perceived," continued García. "Current work schedules for standing work may not be adequate for preventing fatigue accumulation, and this long-lasting muscle fatigue may contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and back pain."

M.-G. Garcia, T. Laubli, B. J. Martin. Long-Term Muscle Fatigue After Standing Work. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 2015; DOI: 10.1177/0018720815590293

 Back from the dead: Catastrophic Science

Published on 6 Jul 2015

Subscribe now to UNSWTV:

Can you bring a creature back from the dead? And why would you want to anyway? Scientists at UNSW Australia are working with collaborators to bring back an extinct and rather special amphibian. Find out why in this latest episode of Catastrophic Science, the series that unearths some of the positive work being done in the wake of catastrophic events.

UNSWTV is the official channel of UNSW Australia (the University of New South Wales), a powerhouse of cutting-edge research and teaching in the Asia-Pacific based in Sydney. 

For more information:

 What happens when cosmic giants meet galactic dwarfs?

July 12, 2015 - When two different sized galaxies smash together, the larger galaxy stops the smaller one making new stars, according to a study of more than 20,000 merging galaxies.

The research, published today, also found that when two galaxies of the same size collide, both galaxies produce stars at a much faster rate.

Astrophysicist Luke Davies, from The University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), says our nearest major galactic neighbour, Andromeda, is hurtling on a collision course with the Milky Way at about 400,000 kilometres per hour.

"Don't panic yet, the two won't smash into each other for another four billion years or so," he says.

"But investigating such cosmic collisions lets us better understand how galaxies grow and evolve."

Previously, astronomers thought that when two galaxies smash into each other their gas clouds--where stars are born--get churned up and seed the birth of new stars much faster than if they remained separate.

However Dr Davies' research, using the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey observed using the Anglo-Australian Telescope in regional New South Wales, suggests this idea is too simplistic.

He says whether a galaxy forms stars more rapidly in a collision, or forms any new stars at all, depends on if it is the big guy or the little guy in this galactic car crash.

"When two galaxies of similar mass collide, they both increase their stellar birth rate," Dr Davies says.

"However when one galaxy significantly outweighs the other, we have found that star formation rates are affected for both, just in different ways.

"The more massive galaxy begins rapidly forming new stars, whereas the smaller galaxy suddenly struggles to make any at all.

"This might be because the bigger galaxy strips away its smaller companion's gas, leaving it without star-forming fuel or because it stops the smaller galaxy obtaining the new gas required to form more stars."

The study was released today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, published by Oxford University Press.

So what will happen in four billion years to the Milky Way and Andromeda?

Dr Davies says the pair are like "cosmic tanks"--both relatively large and with similar mass.

"As they get closer together they will begin to affect each other's star formation, and will continue to do so until they eventually merge to become a new galaxy, which some call 'Milkdromeda'," he says.

L. J. M. Davies, A. S. G. Robotham, S. P. Driver, M. Alpaslan, I. K. Baldry, J. Bland-Hawthorn, S. Brough, M. J. I. Brown, M. E. Cluver, M. J. Drinkwater, C. Foster, M. W. Grootes, I. S. Konstantopoulos, M. A. Lara-López, Á. R. López-Sánchez, J. Loveday, M. J. Meyer, A. J. Moffett, P. Norberg, M. S. Owers, C. C. Popescu, R. De Propris, R. Sharp, R. J. Tuffs, L. Wang, S. M. Wilkins, L. Dunne, N. Bourne, M. W. L. Smith.Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA): the effect of close interactions on star formation in galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2015; 452 (1): 616 DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv1241

Top: An image using galaxy images from the Hubble Space Telescope to show what happens when galaxies of different sizes collide. Credit: The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research


Tuesday, 14 July 2015: Media Release

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, has welcomed the release of a series of draft recommendations, which outline proposed changes to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of the commercial fishing industry in NSW. 

The independent Structural Adjustment Review Committee (SARC) is writing to all commercial fishing businesses in NSW, with each fisher receiving the draft recommendations that relate to their business. 

“This state needs a commercial fishing sector that is viable and sustainable long in to the future. Doing nothing is not an option, which is why the NSW Government will make the necessary reforms to secure the future of this industry,” Mr Blair said. “This reform is about providing greater certainty and security to the commercial fishing industry – something this sector deserves. 

“But this reform is also about assisting fishing businesses to either exit or remain in the industry, through a $16 million business adjustment program.” 

All commercial fishers are encouraged to examine the materials they receive from the SARC, and to use this next period of consultation to provide constructive feedback to assist the committee with finalising its recommendations. The SARC has considered extensive stakeholder feedback and will now consult further with the commercial fishing industry on its draft recommendations. 

The SARC has recommended modifying the $16 million adjustment program, removing a number of high impact options from consideration and giving commercial fishers more time to adjust to the changes. 

The SARC will make final recommendations to the NSW Government in September 2015. The NSW Government will make no final decisions in relation to the reform until after it has considered the SARC’s final recommendations. More information, including all of the SARC’s draft recommendations, is available 

Industry Working Groups will meet with the SARC during the consultations while individual fishers and other stakeholders can make written submissions on the Draft Recommendations by 31 August 2015, via:


Mail: Structural Adjustment Review Committee

c/o PO Box 4291, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450


Tuesday, 14 July 2015: Media Release

Environment Minister Mark Speakman has announced a round of changes that will transform the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust into a more efficient and responsive organisation. The changes follow the operational integration of the Botanic Gardens with the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, which already has resulted in more customer focused organisations. Mr Speakman made the announcement as he revealed the name of the Royal Botanic Garden’s planned architectural centrepiece, which will become a world leading horticultural display centre when opened next year. Mr Speakman said The Calyx in the Royal Botanic Garden would set a new benchmark for the public display of horticulture and would provide a stunning new education and interpretation facility for Sydney. The word “Calyx” refers to the sepals of a flower collectively, forming the outer floral envelope that protects the developing flower bud. The Calyx, which replaces the now demolished horticultural display centre, will open next year as the centrepiece of the Botanic Gardens’ 200th anniversary. Mr Speakman said while the announced organisational changes would transform the Botanic Gardens, the government remained committed to ensuring that science, education and horticulture continued to be central to the Botanic Gardens. 

“Almost $23 million has been allocated to capital projects across the sites managed by Botanic Gardens,” he said. “The Trust’s overall budget of $70.4 million for 2015-16 is a 26% increase on the 2014-15 revised estimate.” 

“This investment is part of a major modernisation program underway across these parks and gardens that will create a world-class, sustainable operation for generations to come.” The announced organisational changes, under the leadership of Executive Director, Kim Ellis and his team, have three key objectives: 

1. To transform the organisation into a world-class scientific institution, creating engaging and relevant science and horticulture for the community. 

2. To create a sustainable organisation – environmentally, socially and financially – capable of on-time delivery of projects at value-for-money to the taxpayer. 

3. To build new capabilities and services that do not currently exist in areas such as tree management, science communication, education and visitor services. 

However, to achieve these aims the Botanic Gardens must reduce inefficiencies in its operations, and create and sustain new streams of revenue. As part of this process, some positions will be abolished, with new roles created to ensure the Botanic Gardens’ ability to deliver on core responsibilities is not impaired. For example, lawn-mowing services currently conducted in-house will be outsourced. These measures, along with creating multi-site maintenance contracts, will give the Botanic Gardens greater bang for its buck. There will be a net reduction in staffing levels of around 15 positions across both the Botanic Gardens and Centennial Park Trust, with more than 240 roles maintained and enhanced. Mr Speakman said the community could expect to see an improvement in services and facilities and greater engagement through education as well as greater access to the Gardens’ facilities such as the Pathology Lab and Botanic Library. “Australia’s oldest scientific institution is set for a bright future as it looks towards the next 200 years.” 

 Threatened Species Strategy will set target to save 20 bird species by 2020

Media release: 15 July 2015 - The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

The Australian Government will secure the future of 20 of our threatened bird species by 2020, setting an ambitious new target to reverse declines in their populations.

We have to work harder to meet these challenges. We also have to work smarter. So, for the first time, an Australian Government has identified a list of bird species for priority action and committed to improving their fortunes within five years.

I want to bring these birds back far enough from the brink to survive in the wild long-term. I want future generations to enjoy the colour, movement and song they bring to our lives. 

The first 10 birds identified for priority action are: the helmeted honeyeater, hooded plover, eastern bristlebird, regent honeyeater, mallee emu-wren, plains-wanderer, night parrot, Alligator Rivers yellow chat, and Norfolk Island's green parrot and boobook owl.

Two more – the orange-bellied parrot and western ground parrot – will benefit from emergency interventions. The remaining eight species to receive special attention will be identified over the next 12 months, in consultation with the community.

It is a pleasure to be able to make this significant announcement at the launch of the Birdlife Australia report in Melbourne today.

The report's findings highlight the threats facing our birds, ranging from habitat loss and fragmentation to feral cats and foxes.

It's not enough to add birds to our national threatened species list and plan to save them. We have to go one step further, by putting those plans into action.

At the Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne tomorrow, I will release Australia's first national strategy for threatened species. It will clearly set out what will happen by when, turning good intentions into clear and measurable targets. The recovery of 20 bird species by 2020 is one such target.

As a down payment on this target, I am pleased to announce funding for New South Wales Government projects that will help two of our priority bird species: the plains-wanderer and hooded plover, both listed nationally as vulnerable. 

We will contribute $100,000 to one project to tackle the 90 per cent decline in plains-wanderer numbers since 2001. It will control the rabbits and weeds that are degrading the plains-wanderer's grassland home in the Riverina and establish an insurance population for this rare species - the sole member of a family of birds found only in eastern Australia.

We will also put $40,000 towards the study of two subpopulations of the hooded plover on NSW's south coast. By banding the shorebirds, tracking their movements and analysing their genetics, the project will help us better understand how the groups interact and how to conserve them.

The latest announcements are in addition to the $525,000 committed last month to the orange-bellied parrot, in response to the discovery of beak and feather disease in the wild population of this critically endangered bird.

It is possible to recover birds at risk of extinction because we have access to high quality science and can act in partnership with the community and other governments.

Implementing evidence-based actions such as habitat restoration can support recovery of these birds and also protect the reptiles, frogs, insects and plants that share the same home. 

 Mystery Marsupial spotted at Nombinnie Nature Reserve

Media release: 14 July 2015

National Parks and Wildlife Service staff are excited after a positive sighting of an endangered Kultarr in Nombinnie Nature Reserve in Central Western NSW - the first time the marsupial had been seen in that area for 20 years.

 NPWS Ranger, David Egan was stunned to find clear images of the endangered marsupial on one of the reserve’s infrared cameras.

 “It is amazing to think that in over 270, 000 hectares of reserve, the camera captured one tiny Kultarr marsupial foraging its way through the reserve,” Mr Egan said.

 “It is a positive outcome for the conservation of the species and for the biodiversity of the Nombinnie Nature Reserve – it’s just great to know they are still out there”

 Listed as ‘endangered’ on the NSW Threatened Species Register, Kultarr’s are known for their large ears, long delicate legs and thin brushy tail.

 Comparable to the size of a large mouse, the Kultarr is an interesting creature that pivots on its front feet to change direction as it bounds rapidly through the scrub.

 Mr Egan said that the species’ small size and nocturnal qualities, rendered it notoriously difficult to track.

 “The installation of infrared cameras in the region have been instrumental to rediscovering threatened species in the Nombinnie Nature Reserve and have captured some great images of foraging Kultarr’s in the woodlands.

 “They have also picked up other small mammals such as Common Dunnarts and are proving a valuable resource for cataloguing fauna in such a large reserve,” Mr Egan said.

 “The main threats to the Kultarr are habitat destruction and predation by cats and foxes. NPWS, in cooperation with several park neighbours has endeavoured to reduce these threats by introducing a highly successful fox bating program”

 “With solid evidence of the Kultarr’s existence in Nombinnie, we can now build this into research and data collection currently underway and develop strategies to best approach future conservation and management practices,” Mr Egan said.

 A targeted strategy for managing the Kultarr is currently being developed under the Saving Our Species program managed by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

The public is encouraged to report any sightings of the species to staff at our NPWS Western Rivers Office in Griffith on (02) 6966 8100. 

Picture: Kultarr, Antechinomys laniger, Alice Springs Desert Park by Mark Marathon 

 Oceans slowed global temperature rise, until now

July 16, 2015 - A new study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the subsurface waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, thus accounting for the slowdown in the global surface temperature increase observed during the past decade, researchers say.

A specific layer of the Indian and Pacific oceans between 300 and 1,000 feet below the surface has been accumulating more heat than previously recognized, according to climate researchers from UCLA and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They also found the movement of warm water has affected surface temperatures. The results were published July 9 in the journal Science.

During the 20th century, as greenhouse gas concentrations increased and trapped more heat on Earth, global surface temperatures also increased. However, starting in the early 2000s though greenhouse gases continued to trap extra heat, the global average surface temperature stopped climbing for about a decade and even cooled a bit.

In the study, researchers analyzed direct ocean temperature measurements, including observations from a global network of about 3,500 ocean temperature probes known as the Argo array. These measurements show temperatures below the surface have been increasing.

The Pacific Ocean is the primary source of the subsurface warm water found in the study, though some of that water now has been pushed to the Indian Ocean. Since 2003, unusually strong trade winds and other climatic features have been piling up warm water in the upper 1,000 feet of the western Pacific, pinning it against Asia and Australia.

"The western Pacific got so warm that some of the warm water is leaking into the Indian Ocean through the Indonesian archipelago," said Veronica Nieves, lead author of the study and a UCLA researcher with the UCLA Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, a scientific collaboration between UCLA and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The movement of the warm Pacific water westward pulled heat away from the surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific, which resulted in unusually cool surface temperatures during the last decade. Because the air temperature over the ocean is closely related to the ocean temperature, this provides a plausible explanation for the global cooling trend in surface temperature, Nieves said.

Cooler surface temperatures also are related to a climatic pattern called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which moves in a 20- to 30-year cycle. It has been in a cool phase during the entire time surface temperatures showed cooling, bringing cooler-than-normal water to the eastern Pacific and warmer water to the western side. There currently are signs the pattern may be changing, with observations showing warmer-than-usual water in the eastern Pacific.

"Given the fact the Pacific Decadal Oscillation seems to be shifting to a warm phase, ocean heating in the Pacific will definitely drive a major surge in global surface warming," Nieves said.

Previous attempts to explain the global surface temperature cooling trend have relied more heavily on climate model results or a combination of modeling and observations, which may be better at simulating long-term impacts over many decades and centuries. This study relied on observations, which are better for showing shorter-term changes over 10 to 20 years.

Pauses of a decade or more in Earth's average surface temperature warming have happened before in modern times, with one occurring between the mid-1940s and late 1970s.

"In the long term, there is robust evidence of unabated global warming," Nieves said.

Co-authors are Josh Willis and William Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

V. Nieves, J. K. Willis, W. C. Patzert. Recent hiatus caused by decadal shift in Indo-Pacific heating. Science, 2015; DOI:10.1126/science.aaa4521

 Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Act:  Review of environmentally hazardous chemicals legislation

What is the Regulation about?

The Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Act and the Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Regulation regulate hazardous chemicals at various points throughout their life-cycle, from manufacture to use and disposal. The Act commenced in 1985 and has not undergone a fundamental review since that time despite the development of new industrial chemicals and chemical processes and technologies over the intervening years. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is undertaking a review of the environmentally hazardous chemicals legislation with a view to modernising it. A discussion paper has been prepared outlining proposed changes to the legislation. These changes seek to enhance the EPA’s ability to prevent adverse health and environmental impacts from hazardous chemicals as well as simplify some processes.

Have your say

The EPA welcomes comments from the community on the proposed changes.

The discussion paper and further information about the review are available at

Formal Submission

Date: Jul. 9 - Aug. 21, 2015

Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

Submission address

Manager Chemicals Reform Environment Protection Authority Po Box A290 Sydney South NSW 1232

More Information:

Agency Website 

 Consultation Website 

 Bees with tiny transmitters on their backs show how disease harms the threatened insects

July 14, 2015 -  James Cook University researchers in Australia are creating a buzz in bee research, gluing tiny transmitters to the backs of the insects for the first time.

Lead researcher, JCU's Dr Lori Lach, said the team glued Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chips to the backs of 960 bees, providing new insights into how disease affects the threatened insects.

"We just had to hold them in our hands and hope the glue dried quickly. It was actually quite a process -- they had to be individually painted, then individually fed, then the tag glued on. Then individually scanned so we knew which tag was on what color and treatment bee and which hive it was going into. It all had to happen within about eight hours of emergence because as the day goes on they start learning how to fly and they get better at stinging."

It was a unique use of the technology and allowed the bees to be monitored individually for the first time.

"No one had looked at bees at this level before, to see what individual bees do when they are sick," said Dr Lach.

Scientists infected half the insects with a low dose of nosema spores, a gut parasite common amongst adult honeybees, while the rest remained disease free.

Using the RFID tags in combination with observations at the hives and artificial flowers, the researchers were able to see how hard the bees worked and what kind of material they gathered.

The species of nosema used in the study (Nosema apis) has long been thought to be benign compared to the many other parasites and pathogens that infect honey bees, and no one had previously looked for the effect of nosema on behavior with such a low dose.

"We knew dead bees couldn't forage or pollinate," said Dr Lach. "But what we wanted to investigate was the behavior of live bees that are affected by non-lethal stressors."

In a just published paper, researchers say infected bees were 4.3 times less likely to be carrying pollen than uninfected bees, and carried less pollen when they did. Infected bees also started working later, stopped working sooner and died younger.

Dr Lach said nosema-infected bees look just like non-infected bees, so it's important to understand the behavioral changes the parasite may be causing.

"The real implications from this work are for humans. About a quarter of our food production is dependent on honey bee pollination. Declines in the ability of honey bees to pollinate will result in lower crop yields."

Lori Lach, Madlen Kratz, Boris Baer. Parasitized honey bees are less likely to forage and carry less pollen. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 2015; 130: 64 DOI: 10.1016/j.jip.2015.06.003

Top: Bee with tiny transmitter on her back. Credit: Image courtesy of James Cook University


by savetheliverpoolplains

 The Shenhua Watermark Mine Gets Federal Approval

EDO NSW (Environmental Defenders Office NSW)

The Shenhua Watermark mine has received Federal government approval:…/2011-6201-approval-decision…

This is the same mine that EDO NSW is representing Upper Mooki Landcare Inc in a current challenge to its approval by the NSW Government.

As our Principal Solicitor, Sue Higginson, says "Shenhua needs both state and commonwealth approvals to lawfully mine and work on the site. The state approval is currently under challenge in the court by our client. In these circumstances the usual practice is not to commence any ground works until the outcome of the proceedings/case is known”:

A hearing has been set for 31 August to 3 September in the NSW Land and Environment.

See more at: HERE 

 NSW Govt.Office - HAVE YOUR SAY

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

Have your say on proposed modifications to Mannering and Chain Valley collieries

Media Release: Department of Planning and Environment

15 Jul 2015

A proposal to make modifications to Mannering and Chain Valley collieries will be on exhibition from today for community feedback.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the applications, which seek to:

 increase the rate of coal handling and dispatch at Mannering from 1.1 million tonnes per year to 1.3 million tonnes per year

 increase the rate of coal extraction at Chain Valley from 1.5 million tonnes per year to 2.1 million tonnes per year

 extend the completion date of Mannering by four years to 2022

 increase staff at Chain Valley by 60 to around 220 people

 change the design of Chain Valley’s northern mining area

 clear minor amounts of vegetation to protect infrastructure from bushfires.

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.”

To make a submission or view the applications, can be made from Wednesday 15 July 2015 until Thursday 6 August 2015.

Written submissions can also be made to:

The Department of Planning and Environment

Attn: Planning Services, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001

The applications are also available to view in person at:

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

 Lake Macquarie City Council, 126-138 Main Road, Speers Point

 Wyong Shire Council, 2 Hely Street, Wyong

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


Direct link to Mannering: HERE

Direct Link to Chain Valley:  HERE

 International report confirms: 2014 was Earth’s warmest year on record

July 17, 2015 - In 2014, the most essential indicators of Earth's changing climate continued to reflect trends of a warming planet, with several markers such as rising land and ocean temperature, sea levels and greenhouse gases ─ setting new records. These key findings and others can be found in the State of the Climate in 2014report released online by the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

The report, compiled by NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from 413 scientists from 58 countries around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.

"This report represents data from around the globe, from hundreds of scientists and gives us a picture of what happened in 2014. The variety of indicators shows us how our climate is changing, not just in temperature but from the depths of the oceans to the outer atmosphere," said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D, Director, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.

The report's climate indicators show patterns, changes and trends of the global climate system. Examples of the indicators include various types of greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. The indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets.

"This is the 25th report in this important annual series, as well as the 20th report that has been produced for publication in BAMS," said Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director. "Over the years we have seen clearly the value of careful and consistent monitoring of our climate which allows us to document real changes occurring in the Earth's climate system."

Key highlights from the report include:

Greenhouse gases continued to climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2014, once again reaching historic high values. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 1.9 ppm in 2014, reaching a global average of 397.2 ppm for the year. This compares with a global average of 354.0 in 1990 when this report was first published just 25 years ago.

Record temperatures observed near the Earth's surface: Four independent global datasets showed that 2014 was the warmest year on record. The warmth was widespread across land areas. Europe experienced its warmest year on record, with more than 20 countries exceeding their previous records. Africa had above-average temperatures across most of the continent throughout 2014, Australia saw its third warmest year on record, Mexico had its warmest year on record, and Argentina and Uruguay each had their second warmest year on record. Eastern North America was the only major region to experience below-average annual temperatures.

Tropical Pacific Ocean moves towards El Niño-Southern Oscillation conditions: The El Niño-Southern Oscillation was in a neutral state during 2014, although it was on the cool side of neutral at the beginning of the year and approached warm El Niño conditions by the end of the year. This pattern played a major role in several regional climate outcomes.

Sea surface temperatures were record high: The globally averaged sea surface temperature was the highest on record. The warmth was particularly notable in the North Pacific Ocean, where temperatures are in part likely driven by a transition of the Pacific decadal oscillation -- a recurring pattern of ocean-atmosphere climate variability centered in the region.

Global upper ocean heat content was record high: Globally, upper ocean heat content reached a record high for the year, reflecting the continuing accumulation of thermal energy in the upper layer of the oceans. Oceans absorb over 90 percent of Earth's excess heat from greenhouse gas forcing.

Global sea level was record high: Global average sea level rose to a record high in 2014. This keeps pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend in sea level growth observed over the past two decades.

The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low: The Arctic experienced its fourth warmest year since records began in the early 20th century. Arctic snow melt occurred 20-30 days earlier than the 1998-2010 average. On the North Slope of Alaska, record high temperatures at 20-meter depth were measured at four of five permafrost observatories. The Arctic minimum sea ice extent reached 1.94 million square miles on September 17, the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. The eight lowest minimum sea ice extents during this period have occurred in the last eight years.

The Antarctic showed highly variable temperature patterns; sea ice extent reached record high: Temperature patterns across the Antarctic showed strong seasonal and regional patterns of warmer-than-normal and cooler-than-normal conditions, resulting in near-average conditions for the year for the continent as a whole. The Antarctic maximum sea ice extent reached a record high of 7.78 million square miles on September 20. This is 220,000 square miles more than the previous record of 7.56 million square miles that occurred in 2013. This was the third consecutive year of record maximum sea ice extent.

Tropical cyclones above average overall: There were 91 tropical cyclones in 2014, well above the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms. The 22 named storms in the Eastern/Central Pacific were the most to occur in the basin since 1992. Similar to 2013, the North Atlantic season was quieter than most years of the last two decades with respect to the number of storms.

The State of the Climate in 2014 is the 25th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The journal makes the full report openly available online. (PDF)

 Common birds facing decline

15 July 2015

BirdLife Australia has today released the 2015 State of Australia’s Birds Headline Report that shows a number of Australia’s best-loved birds species are declining in some regions. 

Launched today at Melbourne Museum by Environment Minister the Hon Greg Hunt MP, this report is part of Australia’s most comprehensive series tracking bird populations and health.

“Birds tell us a lot about our natural world,” said Paul Sullivan, CEO of BirdLife Australia.

“The Australian Bird Index is a nationwide health-check of Australia’ s birds and their environments. 

“Most surprising, this report shows , in some regions, declining numbers of common birds like the willy wagtail, kookaburra and magpie-lark.  These are birds that many Australians take interact with daily.

“We’ve known for some time that many rare bird populations are declining, but we were not aware of the decline of these very common and iconic Australian birds. 

“This data is a wakeup call.  BirdLife Australia and the scientific community will now look at what is causing decline of common species numbers.  

“Another concerning trend is the decline in numbers of birds of prey in the Arid Zones of South Australia, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.  Raptors – such as  falcons, owls and eagles - play a critical predator role in Arid Zone ecosystems, so we must invest in conservation initiatives.

“The report is an outstanding achievement for citizen science.  The data we rely on is collected by passionate bird-lovers all around Australia.  Volunteers use standardised methods to monitor bird species in their own local areas and contribute their findings to the Index, allowing us to map a nation-wide picture.

“Since 1998 this army of volunteers have amassed over 14 million records and more than 900,000 surveys.  That is a truly unique accomplishment and contribution to global bird conservation.  Similar indexes in Europe, Canada and the US show us it is possible to set  a baseline and act early to reduce biodiversity loss,” said Mr Sullivan.

To download a copy of the report, go to

 Pittwater YHA Envirofun Weekend August 28-30. 

Do something important and have fun too! PNHA assists with birding and botany activities. Eight years of Asparagus removal in Spotted Gum forest have transformed the bush. Go with friends, book through the hostel. 

Volunteer for two mornings’ bush regeneration and receive:

• Free accommodation

• 2 evening meals + 2 BBQ lunches + 2 morning teas

• Free use of kayaks

• Alternatively come for a Sat or Sun morning's bush regeneration

and enjoy a morning tea & bbq lunch & kayak

Cost: $20 contribution for a weekend of great company, food and activities.

Bookings Essential: $50 non-refundable booking fee with a $30 refund on arrival.

Phone: 9999 5748 Email:

 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. 

 Draft change to Mining Policy on exhibition

Media Release: The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning - 7 Jul 2015

The NSW Government today released a proposed amendment to the Mining SEPP, which would remove a provision making the significance of the resource the principle consideration under the Mining SEPP when determining mining projects. 

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 is otherwise known as the Mining SEPP. 

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the draft amendment reflects the legislative requirement for decision makers to consider the likely environmental, social and economic impacts of a mining development. 

“The protection of the environment and the promotion of the social and economic welfare of the community have always been objects of planning legislation,” Mr Stokes said. 

 “The careful deliberation of environmental, economic and social issues is fundamental to good planning. 

“This proposed amendment reflects the importance of balance in assessing the likely impacts of mining developments.”

To view the draft amendment and to make a submission, please

A complete review of the Mining SEPP is currently underway and will be subject to public consultation later this year.

Exhibition Concludes 21/07/2015

Direct link at:

 Willy Wagtail at Careel Bay - Picture BY A J Guesdon, 2011. 

 Katandra Sanctuary Open Days 2015

Katandra opens to the public every Sunday in July, August, September and October, from 10am to 4pm. The first will be Sunday July 5th with entry by donation.

See: Katandra Sanctuary Open Days 2015 by Marita Macrae

 Environmental assessment and clean up continues after Clarence Colliery mine incident

Media release: 14 July 2015

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has detected further areas of coal fines in the Wollangambe River within the World Heritage Area of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park after an incident on 2 July 2015 at the Centennial Coal, Clarence Colliery mine site near Lithgow.

EPA Director South Gary Whytcross said the EPA’s immediate priority has been on containment, clean-up and inspecting the river on the ground to determine the extent that the coal fines have moved downstream.

“The incident has resulted in many tonnes of coal fines and course reject material, including coal rock, and gravel being dispersed into the environment surrounding the mine site,” Mr Whytcross said.

“The EPA has inspected different sections of the Wollangambe River downstream of the spill and confirmed that coal fines have settled on the River bed and in pools from 1 to 4.5 kilometres downstream. Further investigations will be undertaken this week to inspect for coal fines in the rugged gorge area beyond the 4.5 kilometre point.

“The EPA is working closely with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in undertaking this work and is also receiving expert scientific advice from the Office of Environment and Heritage about the environmental impact.

“Ground inspections at an accessible point on the River near Mount Wilson, 14 kilometres downstream of the spill have confirmed that coal fines have not reached this far downstream.

“The EPA has also launched a legal investigation and the total amount of material involved in the incident will be determined through the investigation.”

On 3 July 2015 the EPA issued Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd with a Clean Up Notice (No. 1531813) in relation to the spill. This Notice is publicly available via the public register on the EPA’s website.

Mr Whytcross said the EPA has been monitoring compliance with the Clean-up Notice.

“The company has installed twenty-two silt fences between the spill site and the Wollangambe River to prevent any further material reaching the River. The company is required to check and maintain the fences daily and remove any coal material to ensure it does not reach the River.

“Clean-up activities are expected to continue for some time given the extent of the incident and the difficult terrain in which the material has been deposited.”

The EPA is also continuing its legal investigation into the incident.


Cooee! Environmental Newsletter - July/August 2015


Welcome to Dog Day by the Bay 2015; Kids on the Coast - Winter; Indian Myna Eradication Program; Swamp Wallaby sighted at Turimetta; Protect your cat, protect our wildlife!; Cats and wildlife expo - Sunday 26 July; Trial de-sexing program; Reducing woodsmoke;  Weed alert: Rhus Tree; Gardening volunteers needed - Mona Vale; National Tree Day; What’s your beef?; Weed Society of NSW giveaway!;  Looking for a creative outlet?; New phone app for Pittwater’s walks; Bush regen and envirofun weekend!; The Mona Vale Sustainable Home; Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment; Costa gets serious about soil; Bushcare schedules - July and August



National Tree Day 2015

26th Jul 2015: 9am - 9am

Come along to Whitney Reserve, Pittwater’s venue to participate in this year's National Tree Day. Come along and help plant areas of the creekline and adjacent slope with native plants.

Please wear appropriate clothing (long sleeves, trousers, sturdy shoes and a hat) and bring a bottle of water.

Council will provide you with refreshments and free native plants for you to plant in your own garden.

Venue: Whitney Reserve, Whitney Street, Mona Vale

Contact: Jenny Cronan at Pittwater Council - 9970 1357


 Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - Expression of Interest

Published on 8 Jul 2015

Expression of Interest for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is now open. For more information, visit

 EPA investigating oil spill near asphalt plant in Rutherford

Media release: 14 July 2015

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is undertaking an investigation after an oil spill incident was detected on Tuesday 14 July 2015 in Rutherford Industrial Estate.

EPA Manager Hunter Region, Adam Gilligan, said that at 9:00am on 14 July, while conducting an inspection of Stony Creek, Rutherford, an EPA officer observed a lagoon blanketed with a viscous, oily substance with a hydrocarbon odour. The oil slick covered an area of approximately 60m2.

“Fire Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Hazmat unit was contacted and attended the site, and determined that the oil was contained within in the lagoon. FRNSW requested a waste contractor to remove the oil. Clean-up has commenced. The contractor has advised that clean-up should be completed tomorrow.

“EPA officers have advised that no oil was found in Stony Creek upstream or downstream from the lagoon, and that the oil was localised in the lagoon. Samples have been collected, and the drains of nearby premises are being inspected.” said Mr Gilligan.

EPA officers are currently seeking information from the nearby industries to determine whether the oil originated from their premises.

This incident follows an oil spill in the area in August 2014. On that occasion, the source of the spill could not be identified. Significant resources from the EPA and FRNSW were involved in the clean-up and investigation of that incident. The area has also been the subject of complaints regarding odour, with 26 complaints received by the EPA during the last two weeks. The EPA is investigating these odour complaints.

“It’s concerning to see this area again being the subject of a pollution incident. Industries and transporters operating in the area are on notice that the EPA will be deploying significant resources to the area in the weeks ahead to make sure that environmental requirements are being complied with.

“Residents of Rutherford and surrounds deserve an environment that is respected and protected by local industries,“ Mr Gilligan said.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Environment Line 131555.

 Have your say on proposed modifications to the Moolarben coal mine

Concurrent proposals to modify Stages 1 and 2 of the Moolarben coal mine are on exhibition for community feedback.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the two applications, which seek to:

 Increase the size of longwall panels in an already approved mining area and relocate underground mine access arrangements, allowing an additional 3.7 million tonnes of coal to be recovered over the life of the mine

 change the size of one coal stockpile and the location of another coal stockpile

 build mine support infrastructure, including a coal conveyor and ventilation shaft

 increase the approved production and transportation limits.

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 Department is obliged to address all proposals it receives, and consistently applies strict rules in assessing applications.”

To make a submission or view the environmental assessment, can be made from Friday 3 July 2015 until Friday 31 July 2015.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Attn: Planning Services

GPO Box 39

Sydney NSW 2001

The EA is also available to view in person at:

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

 Mid-Western Regional Council, Administration Centre, 86 Market Street, Mudgee

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

Direct link here


The NSW Government is improving the management of our precious marine estate with the launch of a new Threat and Risk Assessment Framework.

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, and Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman, today released new guidelines on how the NSW Government will assess the threats and risks to our marine estate.

“Last year, an historic bill passed the NSW Parliament to make sure the state’s marine estate is managed based on science and not politics,” Mr Blair said.

“This is the first step in implementing this Marine Estate Management Act 2014, which sets out a robust legal requirement to assess economic, social and environmental threats, such as pollution, loss of biodiversity, restricted access, anti-social behaviour, and impacts of pests and diseases.

“This framework, developed by the Marine Estate Management Authority with expert guidance from the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel, is at the heart of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s new era in marine estate management.”

Mr Speakman said the framework will consider not only the imminent threats to our coasts and marine waters, but also the cumulative impacts and potential threats over the coming decades.

“This will allow the NSW Government to focus its efforts around the key threats to the marine environment, and deliver on its vision for a healthy coast and sea,” Mr Speakman said.

“We are committed to managing our marine environment for the greatest well-being of the community, now and into the future.”

Initially the framework will be applied to two key projects:

- a state-wide Marine Estate Threat and Risk Assessment; and

- the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment, covering the area from Newcastle to Shellharbour.

The community is encouraged to have their say about both of these projects and the framework in the coming months, and the Authority may refine the framework over time after it has been applied to the first two projects.

The Ministers also today launched an interactive web portal to allow the community to have input into the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment by providing local information on benefits and threats associated with their favourite sites within the bioregion. 

The NSW Government is now seeking crucial information from the public regarding sites within the bioregion, the benefits they gain from their use of these sites, and what they see as key threats and ideas on how to manage those threats.

Along with expert input, the information people provide will help identify management options to enhance marine biodiversity conservation whilst maximising community benefits.”

Eleven sites in the Hawkesbury marine bioregion have already been identified for priority assessment and the community is invited to nominate additional sites via the web portal that they would like to see considered:

• Barrenjoey Head (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Bouddi National Park Marine Extension

• Bronte-Coogee (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Cape Banks (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Chowder Bay

• Long Reef (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Narrabeen Head (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• North Harbour (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• North Harbour extension – Manly Wharf and Manly Cove

• Magic Point, Malabar

• Wybung Head

The web portal, framework and more information can be accessed at

Direct Link to page:

The web portal will be open until 28 August 2015.


Never grown a beard before? This is your chance to grow a new beard this Winter!

Already got a beard? Get it sponsored and keep it growing!

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

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

Register here

50 million year old volcano cluster near Sydney

Published on 12 Jul 2015 BY CSIRO

Australia’s new ocean-going research vessel Investigator has discovered extinct volcanoes likely to be 50 million years old, about 250 km off the coast of Sydney in 4,900 m of water. While scientists were searching for the nursery grounds for larval lobsters, the ship was also routinely mapping the seafloor when the volcanoes were discovered. They haven’t been found before now, because the sonar on the previous Marine National Facility (MNF) research vessel, Southern Surveyor, could only map the sea floor to 3,000 m, which left half of Australia’s ocean territory out of reach. The centre of the volcanic cluster is 33 31 S, 153 52 E, which is 248 km from Sydney Heads. The cluster is 20 km long and six km wide and the seafloor 4890 metres deep, with the highest point in the cluster rising up to 3998 metres.

 Submerged volcano cluster discovered off coast of Sydney

July 13, 2015 – Australia's new ocean-going research vessel Investigator has discovered extinct volcanoes likely to be 50 million years old about 250 kilometres off the coast of Sydney.

The chief scientist for the voyage, UNSW Australia marine biologist Professor Iain Suthers, said the volcanoes were discovered in 4,900 meters of water during a search for nursery grounds for larval lobsters. At the same time the ship was also routinely mapping the seafloor.

"The voyage was enormously successful. Not only did we discover a cluster of volcanoes on Sydney's doorstep, we were amazed to find that an eddy off Sydney was a hotspot for lobster larvae at a time of the year when we were not expecting them," Professor Suthers said.

The four extinct volcanoes in the cluster are calderas, which form after a volcano erupts and the land around them collapses, forming a crater. The largest is 1.5 kilometres across the rim and it rises 700 metres from the sea floor.

Professor Richard Arculus from the Australian National University, an igneous petrologist and a world-leading expert on volcanoes, said these particular types of volcanoes are really important to geoscientists because they are like windows into the seafloor.

"They tell us part of the story of how New Zealand and Australia separated around 40-80 million years ago and they'll now help scientists target future exploration of the sea floor to unlock the secrets of the Earth's crust," Professor Arculus said.

"They haven't been found before now because the sonar on the previous Marine National Facility (MNF) research vessel, Southern Surveyor, could only map the sea floor to 3,000 metres, which left half of Australia's ocean territory out of reach." "

On board the new MNF vessel, Investigator, we have sonar that can map the sea floor to any depth, so all of Australia's vast ocean territory is now within reach, and that is enormously exciting," Professor Arculus said.

Professor Suthers said the 94-metre Investigator has other capabilities that marine scientists in Australia have never had before, and the vessel will be key to unlocking the secrets of the oceans around our continent and beyond.

"Investigator is able to send and receive data while we're at sea, which meant the team back on base at UNSW in Sydney could analyse the information we were collecting at sea and send back their analysis, along with satellite imagery, so we could chase the eddies as they formed," Professor Suthers said.

"This is the first time we've been able to respond directly to the changing dynamics of the ocean and, for a biological oceanographer like me, it doesn't get more thrilling," Professor Suthers said.

"It was astounding to find juvenile commercial fish species like bream and tailor 150 kilometres offshore, as we had thought that once they were swept out to sea that was end of them. But in fact these eddies are nursery grounds along the east coast of Australia."

The research voyage led by Professor Iain Suthers departed Brisbane on 3 June and concluded on 18 June in Sydney, with 28 scientists from UNSW, La Trobe University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Sydney, the University of Auckland, the University of Technology Sydney, and Southern Cross University.

The centre of the volcanic cluster is 33 31 S, 153 52 E, which is 248 kilometres from Sydney Heads. The cluster is 20 kilometres long and six kilometres wide and the seafloor is 4890 metres deep, with the highest point in the cluster rising up to 3,998 metres.

Story Source:

The above is reprinted from materials provided by University of New South Wales. The original item was written by Deborah Smith. 

 NSW Govt.: Investing in quality teaching, improving student results

14th July 2015: Media Release

A major new investment begins today in NSW public primary schools, which will enable more than 1,000 of the best teachers to mentor and coach other teachers, improving the results of students.

NSW Premier Mike Baird, Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli and Lane Cove MP Anthony Roberts today met some of the first students and teachers who will benefit from the $224 million Quality Teaching, Successful Students package during a visit to Ryde East Public School.

“As teachers and students return to school for term three I’m proud to be delivering on this key election commitment. As we improve the skills of our teachers, we will help students achieve better results,” Mr Baird said.

“In the best school systems in the world, the top teachers pass on their expertise to their colleagues and that helps lift teaching standards in every classroom in that school.”

The package which begins this term will enable selected teachers to:

• Mentor and coach other teachers;

• Observe teachers in their classrooms and demonstrate effective teaching strategies;

• Monitor student performance data across the school to ensure teachers are focused on areas of need; and 

• Collaborate within their school and with colleagues in other schools.

A recent three-year study of 6,000 NSW public school teachers found that collaborating with colleagues was the most significant professional learning practice for primary teachers.

“This initiative, made possible by NSW signing up to the Gonski agreement, gives schools an opportunity they have been seeking for years – to use their best, most experienced teachers to improve teaching and learning in every classroom,” Mr Piccoli said.

“The $224 million will provide additional staffing so that selected experienced teachers can take up these important leadership roles across their schools.

“In line with the Local Schools, Local Decisions education reform, principals – who are best placed to make decisions about their schools – will determine how to use this new staffing resource.”

 Disability support payment rules tighten

13 July 2015: Media Release

Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison announced the number of people being granted a Disability Support Pension (DSP) has now dropped below the levels experienced under Labor, with application rejection rates at the highest level in more than a decade.

“The Abbott Government is serious about ensuring the integrity of our welfare safety net. This means ensuring it is focused on those most in need of support, while cracking down on those who want to game the system,” Minister Morrison said.

“Last financial year, there were 41,832 applicants granted a DSP, compared to Labor’s peak of 91,131 grants, in 2009-10.

“Under the Labor government the grant rate for the payments spiked to 64.5 per cent in 2008-09, on average more than 7,000 a month.  Under the Coalition government the approval rate in 2014-15 has dropped to 36.9 per cent, which is on average less than 4,000 a month.

“The DSP is not a set and forget payment, and we have tightened compliance and enforcement measures so taxpayers can have greater confidence in our welfare safety net. More than eight of ten income taxpayers are needed to pay for our annual social services bill. The contribution of these taxpayers must be respected by ensuring that welfare system focuses on those most in need.

“As part of the suite of measures applied to the DSP, applicants are now required to have their claims assessed by a Government Contracted Doctor.

“Further, the total number of recipients claiming the DSP has fallen from 827,460 in 2011-12 to 814,391 last financial year.

“We are aware that people’s conditions can change over time and as such reviews are being conducted.

"The DSP payments cost taxpayers $17 billion annually and this measure will provide an additional level of assurance to the DSP claim process.

“The requirement for a Commonwealth doctor to assess DSP claims has been in place since January this year for applicants under 35 and living in capital cities, and is now being rolled out to all applicants.

“Treating Doctor’s Reports will no longer be required for new DSP claims.

"The Abbott Government is committed to getting our welfare budget under control, by reigning in the expansion of the welfare system that occurred under previous Governments to ensure we have a sustainable safety net for the future," Minister Morrison said.

For more information visit:  HERE 


c/- Royal Australian Historical Society

The State Library of Victoria (SLV) has launched a new website called 'Victorian Places'. It lists every town and suburb in Victoria and provides a history for each place with, photos, maps, excerpts from newspapers and current demographic information.

It's similar to the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) for towns and suburbs. It will certainly come in handy in the heritage sector and for researchers working on place based projects.

The State Library of Victoria has taken a leadership role in this website in partnership with Monash University and the University of Queensland 


This is the bumper sticker NASA’s New Horizon team have on their cars

July 14, 2015 


14 JULY 2015

After nine-and-a-half years and just over five billion kilometres, the much anticipated and incredibly long awaited close-up view of Pluto is only hours away.

NASA's spacecraft New Horizons will make its closest encounter with Pluto at exactly 9:49.57pm (AEST) today [14 July 2015].

CSIRO's Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) will be the first place on Earth to receive the closest encounter images as it's sent through from the space probe.

The world will see for the first time what Pluto actually looks like as the spacecraft flies 12,500 km above the surface, taking detailed measurements and images of the dwarf planet and its moons.

CDSCC is part of NASA's Deep Space Network and is one of only three tracking stations in the world that has the technology and people with the capabilities to provide the vital two-way radio contact with spacecraft like New Horizons at such incredible distances from Earth.

"We have tracked New Horizons since its launch in January 2006 and are currently receiving the latest images and telemetry from the spacecraft which allows the mission team to make decisions about course corrections and to begin the key science observations," Director of the CDSCC Dr Ed Kruzins said.

Radio signals from New Horizons will take about 4.5 hours to reach the CDSCC and are incredibly weak.

However thanks to the big dish's high sensitivity on Earth at CDSCC , Pluto will come in loud and clear.

There will be so much data collected it will take up to a year before all of the images and science observations made by the spacecraft are fully transmitted back to Earth.

Head of CSIRO's Astronomy and Space Science, Dr Lewis Balls said the New Horizons mission was one of the great explorations of our time.

"There is so much we don't know and not just about Pluto, but also about similar worlds," Dr Ball said.

"Reaching this part of our solar system has been a space science priority for years, because it holds building blocks of our solar system that have been stored in a deep freeze for billions of years."

While Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006, it is thought to contain important clues about the origins of the Solar System.

These icy bodies are thought to be relics of the materials that originally built up to become the larger planets. This will be the first time that scientists can study this process as it happens.

"CDSCC has been involved in many of space exploration's greatest moments, from capturing images of the first moon walk to receiving amazing views from the surface of Mars, and the first 'close-ups' of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune," Dr Ball said.

"Capturing Pluto will be the capstone of this amazing space adventure.

"CSIRO is capturing space history in the making. We will be rewriting textbooks and science that will be taught in the classrooms of tomorrow."

Below: Three billion miles from Earth and just two and a half million miles from Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has taken its best image of four dark spots that continue to captivate.

 Are you sitting your way to an early grave?

July 14, 2015

Many of us lament the fact much of our day is spent inactive and that we are seated at work, in the car and at home watching TV. 

Researchers from the University of New England are looking for individuals who want to change their everyday sitting habits for healthier, more active alternatives.

UNE’s Associate Professor John Malouffsays previous research shows that extensive sitting contributes to health problems and early death.

Despite growing awareness of the risk and the detrimental effect on people’s health, many individuals have trouble changing their habit of sitting in everyday situations.

“I used to have a two hour return commute to work, sit for hours a day at work, followed by hours sitting watching TV. I now live close enough to walk to work. I stand at work, including during parts of meetings. I also stand often when I eat and when I drink tea,” A/ Prof. Malouff said.

Co-researcher, Katrina Kastanias, has also applied elements of the program to her own life at work and when using public transport.

“Having learned practical ways to sit less, I am mindful to stand whenever I can,” Ms Kastanias said.

The research team are hoping participants will experience a decrease in sedentary behaviour and that the study will contribute scientific understanding of how to motivate people to sit less in everyday life.

People interested in participating in the confidential study can register via the following link 

 Over $900,000 for National Heritage Listed Rippon Lea House and Gardens

Media release: 13 July 2015 - The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

The Australian Government will provide over $900,000 in support for one of Victoria's most recognisable National Heritage places – Rippon Lea House and Gardens.

Rippon Lea House and Gardens is one of the 18 National Heritage places to receive project funding under the Australian Government's Protecting National Historic Sites programme.

The Protecting National Historic Sites programme supports activities that protect, manage, maintain and conserve places listed on the National Heritage List for their historic values and contribute to the management and long-term sustainability of these places.

The Rippon Lea House and Gardens project will create a new community heritage hub and bring to light previously untold stories of the place.

The reinstatement of the workers entrance and the conservation of the house staff areas, garden, and stables will tell the story of those who worked behind the scenes of a 'great house'.

Rippon Lea's stables, coach house, conservatory, orchards and kitchen gardens will also undergo work to create the infrastructure for a heritage community hub for artists, exhibitions and other community events.

This new infrastructure will enable the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), the site's owner and manager, to build on the recent success of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition, to increase visitor numbers, and community engagement with this special place.

I am delighted this project coincides with the National Trusts' 60th anniversary in Victoria.

The Government recognises the vital role the National Trusts play across Australia in the promotion of our national heritage. Projects, including heritage festivals, Trust News publications, and educational programmes including public and interactive resources, are supported by the Australian Government through the National Trust Partnership Programme.

Further information about Protecting National Historic Sites is available at: HERE 

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.