Inbox and Environment News - Issue 226 

 August 9 - 15, 2015: Issue 226

 World Suicide Prevention Day 2015 is Thursday 10 September. It is also RUOK? Day in Australia.

In 2015, the international theme of World Suicide Prevention Day is Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives.’

It is speaking up to reduce the stigma around talking about suicide prevention safely. It is about standing up to make a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It is about being self informed and aware of support and services available to all those touched by suicide and those building a resilient community to prevent suicide.

World Suicide Prevention Day events occur in local communities across Australia.

Find out more at:

The Diego de Leo Opening Address: Governor-General speaks at National Suicide Prevention Conference

4/8//2015: courtesy Suicide Prevention Australia

A copy of the Governor-General of Australia's speech to open the National Suicide Prevention Conference held in Hobart (from 26 to 29 July 2015).  - Full text of speech delivered at the National Suicide Prevention Conference 2015 is published below (please note it may vary slightly from that delivered on the day).

Good Morning.

It is a pleasure to be with you to open the 2015 National Suicide Prevention Conference and deliver the Diego De Leo Address. For many years Diego has been a leader here in Australia—and around the world—in how we seek to understand and prevent suicide.

To deliver this address bearing his name is both an honour and responsibility.

I think everyone in this room appreciates what a terribly complex issue suicide is.

What is it that drives people to a place of such despair, helplessness and isolation that they think they would be better off dead and that the world would be better off without them?

Well the reasons are many and varied—with social, genetic and environmental factors all at play.

But what we do know, is that despite all the time, resources and energy that has gone into suicide prevention—our suicide rates still demand our attention:

Every day 7 people take their own life—that’s two and a half thousand suicides every year.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for both men and women under 44.

Of all the deaths of young people, suicide is the cause in one in four cases.

And very sadly, the difficulties and discrimination still faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex people is reflected in the fact that they are 14 times more likely to try to take their lives than members of the heterosexual community.

Now factor in the 370,000 Australians who think about taking their lives and the estimated 65,000 suicide attempts every year, and it is pretty clear that suicide is huge problem.

The sad fact is that suicide continues to claim the lives of too many Australians:

The day to day lives of too many families, friends and loved ones are being turned upside-down by its impact.

And too many people are being damaged by non-fatal attempts or are tormented by suicidal thoughts.

This is not a situation that any society can tolerate.

But because suicide is so complex, it does not lend itself to straightforward solutions. There are no simple answers, no single cause and no easy plan of attack.

What we do know is that we have to try something different. To find new approaches, to be creative, to come up with new ideas, new innovations and new ways of doing things.

A range of strategies are required. But the effectiveness of the strategies we put in place are compromised if they operate in isolation from each other.

So we need approaches to suicide that are diverse and tailored but at the same time are integrated and mutually reinforcing.

Now I can see that this is not the easiest of things to do. But it is something that must be done. And this means for all of us…

Whether we be from government, business, the not for profit sector, or the research community, or whether we be practitioners, families, or people with a lived experience of suicide.…our challenge is to come together, to connect, to share and learn and to contribute to a system that saves lives—a system that makes the goal of halving suicide rates over the next ten years a reality.

Your being here today is a practical acknowledgement of just how important this sharing of ideas and knowledge is.

And the very theme of this years’ conference Changing Systems, Changing Lives reflect the determination that already exists to improve the way we address suicide and to improve our suicide prevention programs, services and strategies.

I would also make the point that all Australians have a role to play in suicide prevention.

I have seen first-hand how communities rally around and look after each other when times are tough or when tragedy or natural disasters strike. This is a great part of who we are.

But it is just as important that we keep our ‘emotional radar’ switched on every day—so that we are there for people who may be feeling vulnerable in their daily lives.

The ‘RU OK?’ Day is one initiative that reminds just how important it is to connect with people.

Sometimes, the very act of talking with those around you and staying in touch with friends and family is the most powerful thing we can do.

And as patron of organisations such as Menslink and beyondblue I continue to be heartened by initiatives that are tackling suicide ‘head on’.

In partnership with the Brumbies Rugby team, Menslink’s ‘Silence is Deadly Program’ is visiting Canberra schools and letting young men know that everyone has problems and that the best way to deal with them is to talk to someone.

The very simple principle is that ‘silence can be deadly and deadly isn’t cool’.

And what impresses me about beyondblue is that they have recognised that one size doesn’t fill all, and they have tailored their services accordingly.

Anxiety, depression and of course suicide, can affect anyone. And feelings of stigma and isolation often stop people reaching out for the treatment they need.

By providing information, support and advice specifically targeted at different groups in our society we are best able to meet the need of those we are seeking to help.

So, welcome, to this year’s conference.

This is about as far removed from an abstract esoteric event as you can get. Your work is about saving lives.

And that is why this conference and the work of Suicide Prevention Australia is so very important.

Thank you, and I wish you every success.

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. 

 Middle Head court proceedings

Department of the Environment: Departmental Statement

3 August 2015

The Commonwealth and Middle Head Healthcare Pty Limited and The Cove at Middle Head Pty Limited have reached an agreement to resolve all aspects of legal proceedings between them.

Following discussions with the Commonwealth, Middle Head Healthcare and The Cove have agreed to discontinue the Federal Court case against the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust by consent.

The resolution of this matter in a timely manner, without the need for continued court action, allows all parties to move on.

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust will continue to work to ensure that Trust land, including Middle Head, is integrated into the life of the city in a way that is consistent with the objects of the Trust, with a view to creating a lasting legacy for the people of Sydney and Australia.

The Commonwealth acknowledges the good faith, integrity and professionalism exhibited by Middle Head Healthcare and The Cove and its directors at all times in their dealings with the Government and the Trust.

 Get weed ready with NSW WeedWise app

04 Aug 2015

Following the successful launch of the NSW WeedWise app in March, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is encouraging land managers and farmers to put the technology to good use and plan their weed management strategies before spring.

DPI Manager Invasive Plants Programs Scott Charlton said the NSW WeedWise app is the first of its kind, combining profiles and control information for 300 high priority weeds for NSW.

"The app gives users a physical description of the weed, an image gallery and details about the weed's impacts, how it spreads, its preferred habitat and the herbicides registered for its control," Mr Charlton said.

"As well as finding out information, land managers and farmers can use the app to report high priority weeds to their local council.

"The app supports other significant investment across the state to limit the spread and impact of these high priority weeds."

Mr Charlton said feedback from land managers and farmers has been overwhelmingly positive.

"The app has been very popular, with over 2,200 downloads since it was launched in March this year," Mr Charlton said.

"User feedback has told us that the app is relevant, comprehensive and easy to navigate which will greatly benefit users."

Weeds impact significantly on agricultural production and the environment, so the new WeedWise app means everyone can take the driver's seat in managing weeds and preventing their spread in NSW.

The app was developed by DPI in conjunction with Reading Room Australia Pty Ltd.

NSW WeedWise is available free of charge through the Apple App Store or for Android users on Google Play.

 Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review – Update

Co- Chairs’ Update 6 August 2015

An update from the road 

We are now well into the final stages of testing our revised zoning options with the last week of meetings to occur next week in Queensland and Sydney. 

By then we will have held over 60 meetings in Sydney, Port Stephens, Adelaide, Fremantle, Broome, Darwin, Nhulunbuy, Mooloolaba, Cairns, Canberra and by phone, with regional and national stakeholders relevant to each of the five regions. 

Our aim has been to outline our proposed options and to identify any further issues that would require us to further refine our recommendations to Government. 

What we have heard so far 

We are very pleased to report that our proposals have generally been well received and that consultations have been going well, with stakeholders providing constructive feedback. 

As you can imagine there are differing views on zonation. Balancing competing interests is always challenging but we believe that with this further stakeholder engagement we are finding workable solutions and refinements to our options.

Some of the strong messages we have heard  so far are to maintain a national representative system of Commonwealth marine reserves that recognises a range of uses in our marine environment, including commercial and recreational fishing, traditional use, tourism and oil and gas activities. We have also heard clear messages to maintain the integrity of no-take marine national park zones as a central part of the system of zonation used in our marine reserves network. 

Our focus continues to be the extent to which our options improve conservation and/or socio-economic outcomes, or how they make it easier for users to comply with or Parks Australia to manage the areas in the future. 

Addressing misinformation 

There have been some instances where we have heard inaccurate and disingenuous claims about our proposals – even in advance of us actually discussing an area with the relevant stakeholders. This is unfortunate and disappointing. 

We would not entertain any proposal to allow commercial fishing or oil and gas activities in no-take marine national park zones. 

We are working hard to consider the views put to us on an area and we hope you will see how we balance these different views in our final recommendations. 

We would encourage everyone to get the facts from us – visit the CMR Review website ( and subscribe to our updates or send us an

Completion of the Review 

We understand the importance to many stakeholders of completing our Review quickly in order to allow the Government to consider the recommendations and start the process of developing management plans to provide the certainty many stakeholders are seeking. 

We plan to deliver our reports to the Government as soon as possible. 

Prof. Colin Buxton Mr Peter Cochrane 

Co-Chairs of the Bioregional Advisory 

 Shenhua and other coal projects greenlighted to clear thousands of hectares of critically endangered bush

August 06, 2015 - Lock the Gate Alliance

Analysis by the Lock the Gate Alliance released today has shown an area of native vegetation greater than the size of Royal National Park south of Sydney has been approved for clearing in the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin since 2010.

The report, Greg Hunt, Shenhua and the Box-Gum Bungle, estimates that more than 17,892 hectares (ha) of native vegetation, including critically endangered areas, have been approved for clearing by coal mining projects in the two agricultural regions in the past five years.

Key findings of the report are that:

An estimated 6,256 ha of the area approved for clearing is critically endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodland, one of the most threatened ecosystems in Australia.

The Federal Government approval for Shenhua’s Watermark coal project gives the green light to clear 937 ha of native vegetation, of which 738 ha is endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodland

Clearing by farmers of endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodland in good condition is strictly prohibited by the NSW vegetation laws, but no such laws apply to mining projects.

"This analysis reveals for the first time that the cumulative impact of clearing of native vegetation and endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodland for coal mines is severe, environmentally damaging and markedly inconsistent with constraints on agricultural clearing,” said Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Carmel Flint today.

"Box-Gum Grassy Woodland is important breeding and foraging habitat for woodland animals such as Regent Honeyeaters, Squirrel Gliders and Superb Parrots.

"It’s a community of plants and animals that have been pushed to the brink in recent years and these last stands in NSW are vitally important on a national level.

"What we’re seeing yet again is governments giving special treatment for the interests of mining over those of precious places, land and water resources.

"Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt claims his hands were tied on the Shenhua mine approval, and he was without power to reject the mine. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"The Minister should be considering the full cumulative impacts of clearing approved by him on critically endangered species such as the Box-Gum Grassy Woodland.

"The Minister had wide powers to reject the Shenhua Watermark coal project, given that mine itself will clear 738 hectares of this critically endangered community.

"The planning system is broken when it comes to coal mine assessments. We urgently need stronger laws and political leaders who can act in the best interests of our land and rural communities, not those of the mining industry," she said.

 To read the full report, click here. -   PDF 424.41 KB

 New Director for Australian Antarctic Division

Secretary- Dr Gordon de Brouwer

MEDIA RELEASE: 30 July 2015

I would like to congratulate Dr Nick Gales on his appointment as the next Director of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Dr Gales is currently the Australian Antarctic Division’s Chief Scientist and the Department of the Environment's Chief Science Adviser.

Dr Gales has been a member of the Australian Antarctic Division since 2001. He has an in depth understanding of the scientific, operational and policy responsibilities of Australia’s Antarctic programme and brings on-ground Antarctic and Southern Ocean experience to this role.

Dr Gales started his career as a vet, moving quickly into applied research working in Antarctica and undertaking a PhD on Australian sea lions. After periods running marine mammals research programmes for the Western Australian Government and the New Zealand Government, he moved to Hobart in 2001 to undertake a senior research role at the Australian Antarctic Division.

Dr Gales was responsible for the development of the Australian Marine Mammal Centre and leading Australia’s scientific effort at the International Whaling Commission.

Dr Gales takes on this challenging role during an exciting and important time for Australia’s Antarctic programme supporting the Goverment in delivery of its 20 year strategic plan for Antarctica and finalising acquisition of a new icebreaker. I am confident that Australia's Antarctic programme will continue to be in good hands under Dr Gales’ leadership.

After four years as the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division Dr Tony Fleming will retire on 6 August. Dr Fleming has led the Australian Anarctic Division with commitment and enthusiasm lifting awareness of Antarctic issues in Australian and international communities, modernising Australia’s Antarctic scientific programme and establishing a proposal for a system of marine protected areas in Antarctica.

I congratulate and thank Dr Fleming for his leadership of the Australian Antarctic Division and contribution to the Department of the Environment.

 Why honey bee sex can be dangerous

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A discovery by scientists at UWA (University of Western Australia) that a widespread fungus that causes dysentery in honey bees can be sexually transmitted may impact bee breeding programs world-wide. 

A research team at the UWA Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER), working with scientists from The University of Sussex in the UK, discovered the fungus Nosema apis which causes dysentery in bees via faecal contamination can be transmitted from sick male bees to virgin queens.

CIBER Director Professor Boris Baer said the study, published in the international, peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, had major consequences for breeding programs.

“To this point, semen used for artificial insemination has typically been regarded as safe, and has been freely shipped around the world,” he said. “This finding questions this practice. It calls for additional tests on the semen to avoid spreading the disease across Australia and internationally.”

Researchers at CIBER found it takes three weeks until the sperm quality of sick males is affected and they start dying from the disease meaning semen collected for breeding programs may be impacted.

“It also gives them time to fly from the hive and mate, transmitting the fungus to virgin queens who once impregnated, transport it home to their own hives with potentially catastrophic results,” said Professor Baer.

Scientists were also able to show that the fungus impacts the productiveness of honey bee colonies. By gluing radio frequency tags onto the backs of honey bee workers, the team found that sick bees were less likely to leave the hive to forage and carried less pollen when coming back compared to healthy ones.

 Outdoor Media Association: A  Policy of Environment & Sustainability

August 4, 2015

A great recycling initiative turning old billboards into surfboard bags, totes, backpacks, hip pouches, wallets, SUP blade covers and more. We're also doing the same in Australia:

- Inspired by a sandwich press:

- Shelter and beds for victims of natural disaster:

Environment & Sustainability

As the peak representative body for the Australian Out-of-Home (OOH) industry, the OMA recognises its responsibility to minimise the impact of the industry's operations on the built and natural environment, and to contribute to the sustainability of the communities in which it operates.

The OMA recognises that to remain a financially responsible industry, it requires leadership through assisting members with regulatory and marketing support, monitoring global industry trends, abiding by the industry's Code of Ethics and promoting best practice.

To this end, the OMA assists its members by:

• Monitoring and reporting on evolving OOH technologies that reduce the impact of OOH on the built and natural environment

• Working with member companies to establish achievable and measurable industry-wide environmental initiatives, including benchmarks for reducing waste generation, including recycling programs for OOH advertising skins, programs to conserve energy, water and natural resources through increased efficiency as well as the introduction of new technologies and production methods and targets to increase the number of fuel-efficient vehicles within operational transport fleets

• Coordinating industry-wide initiatives that provide sponsorship or in-kind support towards community causes and not-for-profit organisations

• Consulting on a regular basis with regulatory agencies and other key stakeholders on the planning and integration of OOH so as to add to the public benefit

• Communicating openly and constructively with relevant authorities, government agencies and the community on sustainability and environmental issues that relate to the OOH industry

• Supporting members’ own environmental and sustainability policies through targeted promotion and education among internal and external stakeholders

Featured Member Initiative

OMA Members’ own environmental and sustainability policies are also supported by the OMA through targeted promotion and education among internal and external stakeholders.

Rojo Pacific was the first Australian, large format industry member of the Vinyl Council’s PVC Product Stewardship Program.

The Vinyl Council and its industry members, including Rojo Pacific, teamed up with Monash University to complete a 12 week project exploring the recycling of printed PVC billboards, with funding from the Victorian Government’s ‘Future Designers Program.’

Disaster Relief

In the past the OOH industry has donated used advertising skins so they can be converted into tarpaulins to be used as shelter and beds for victims of natural disaster.

The OMA has facilitated the delivery of over 70 pallets of skins from various OOH formats, generously donated by OMA Members.

They were sent to the Overseas Disaster Resources Organisation that provide services to victims of natural and man-made disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti, the cyclone in Fiji, the 2009 floods in Pakistan, Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu 2015, as well as people affected by the Ebola outbreak.

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

 Russia to move into Antarctica 

August 5, 2015: C/- Antarctic Ocean Alliance

Russia's new maritime policy has a newly created zone: Antarctica. We hope this includes a view to protection of its oceans.

“Seeing that in the last few years there have been many new developments with regard to Antarctica, this has become a very important region for Russia,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Find out more here:

 Have your say on modifications to Wambo Mine

Media Release: Department of Planning and Environment

5 Aug 2015

A proposal to make modifications to Wambo Mine 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 application, which seeks to develop three additional underground longwall panels to recover an additional 5.6 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal.

This will result in a minor increase in coal processing waste.

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 environmental impact statement, visit Submissions can be made from Wednesday 5 August 2015 until Monday 24 August 2015.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning & Environment, 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

Singleton Council, Administration Centre, Cnr Queen Street & Civic Avenue, Singleton

Nature Conservation Council, Level 2, Wilson Street, Newtown





PittwaterEcowarriors: Published on 7 Aug 2015

Hawkweed, having devastated New Zealand, has arrived in Australia.  In NSW, dogs are being trained to sniff the weed out.

 Court overturns approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine

5/8/15: EDO NSW

The Federal Government’s approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland, which would have been one of the largest coal mines in the world and responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions, has been overturned in the Federal Court of Australia.

Environmental legal centre EDO NSW, representing the Mackay Conservation Group, challenged the approval given by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to the $16.5 billion project.

Sue Higginson, principal solicitor of EDO NSW said, ‘The decision of the Court to set aside the Carmichael mine’s federal approval was based on a failure by the Minister to have regard to conservation advices for two Federally-listed vulnerable species, the Yakka Skink and Ornamental Snake. This kind of error in the decision making process is legally fatal to the Minister’s decision.’

‘The conservation advices were approved by the Minister in April last year, and describe the threats to the survival of these threatened species, which are found only in Queensland. The law requires that the Minister consider these conservation advices so that he understands the impacts of the decision that he is making on matters of National Environmental Significance, in this case the threatened species.’

‘The case also alleged that the Minister failed to consider global greenhouse emissions from the burning of the coal, and Adani’s environmental history, however these matters are left unresolved before the Court.’

The mine is now without legal authority to commence construction or operate.

‘It will be up to the Minister now to decide whether or not to approve the mine again, taking into account the conservation advices and any other information on the impacts of the project.’

Mackay Conservation Group will be holding a press conference at 11.30 am this morning outside the Brisbane Supreme Court on the grass area between the Supreme and Magistrates Courts.

Read the Court Orders here:

EDO NSW and EDO QLD have set up a climate litigation fund to assist the community when they approach us seeking to protect the environment and communities from the impacts of climate change

 Illegal fishing operation fined over $2 million​

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Peter Dutton MP

6 August 2015: Media Release

The Australian Government welcomes news that the crew of the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessel Perlon - detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in May this year - has been convicted of offences under the Malaysian Fisheries Act.

A Malaysian court has fined the master and the crew of the Perlon approximately AUD $600,000 and ordered forfeiture of the catch valued at approximately AUD $1.8 million.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the conviction sent a strong message that the international community was united in the fight against IUU fishing vessels. 

“The Australian Border Force and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority will not only continue to target IUU fishing vessels in the Australian maritime domain, but continue to work with international counterparts to share information and support investigations and prosecutions to ensure justice is done,” Mr Dutton said. 

“Malaysia is an important regional ally in the fight against IUU fishing and we are proud to work in very close partnership stamping out such trade in our region.  

“I would like to extend my thanks to Malaysian authorities for their efforts on this matter and say that we look forward to working with them on similar cases in the future.” 

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, echoed Mr Dutton’s commitment to work together with Australia’s international partners to combat this global issue. 

In November last year the Australian Government released the second National Plan of Action (RPOA) to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. 

Australia and Malaysia are two out of the eleven RPOA partner nations. 

“This is yet another demonstration of international cooperation successfully leading to IUU fishers being stopped,” Senator Colbeck said. 

“Earlier this year in April, following a boarding of the vessel by the then Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority were able to use their extensive networks to alert South East Asian countries of the possible arrival of this vessel into their ports, which resulted in the initial detention of the Perlon by Malaysian authorities."

“Today’s outcome is a great result and would not have been possible without the relationships we have built with our neighbouring countries through initiatives such as the RPOA on IUU fishing and international authorities working together to share information and take action.”

IUU fishing threatens food security, undermines the sustainability of natural marine stocks and disrupts the economic stability of communities which rely on sustainable fisheries. 

The Australian Government is committed to targeting vessels involved in this trade, investigating the actions of people suspected of involvement, interrupting the supply chain of illicit catch and dismantling the business model of IUU operators. 

 Sunday Morning Birdwatching with PNHA

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

20 September, Irrawong Reserve, Warriewood

15 November, Warriewood Wetlands, Warriewood

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

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

 Fish go deep to beat the heat

August 5, 2015 - A James Cook University study shows fish retreat to deeper water to escape the heat, a finding that throws light on what to expect if predictions of ocean warming come to pass.

JCU scientists tagged 60 redthroated emperor fish at Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef. The fish were equipped with transmitters that identified them individually and signaled their depth to an array of receivers around the island.

The experiment monitored fish for up to a year and found they were less likely to be found on the reef slope on warmer days. It’s thought the species head for deeper water in response to warmer temperatures.

The research team considered temperature, air pressure, rainfall, wind and moon phases as reasons for the shift, but discovered the only significant correlation was with temperature – the red throat emperor were consistently monitored when water was less than 24 degrees Celsius.

Lead researcher, Dr Leanne Currey said most studies looked at the effect ocean warming would have on fish biology, not on how they would distribute themselves to compensate for higher temperatures.

“This is a commercially important fish and we are looking at a significant depth shift,” she said.

Dr Currey said the species is caught by commercial and recreational anglers near coral reefs, and is the second most favoured fish, behind the coral trout.

“If it’s not around in the shallows in the future then fishers will have to redirect their efforts and it may be significantly harder to catch them,” she said. The fish has been known to tolerate depths of up to 160 metres.

Dr Currey said instead of diving deeper, the species may instead shift south in search of cooler water at the same depth. She said some red throat emperor had recently been caught off Perth, far from their normal habitat further up the West Australian coast.

She said the next phase of the research was to investigate whether the fish could adapt physiologically to warmer sea temperatures, as it appeared other species could.

Link to pictures and paper: Top: Redthroated Emperor (Picture: Michelle Heupel).

 Improving mining regulation in NSW: Stage 2

Media Release: Department of Planning and Environment

28 Jul 2015

The Department of Planning and Environment today released a number of guidelines for public feedback, which provide clear and consistent requirements for State significant mining development in NSW.

The guidelines are part of the broader Integrated Mining Policy, and include:

Independent Audit Guidelines – to ensure that independent audits of State significant developments in NSW adopt a consistent approach and meet minimum standards.

Web-based Reporting Guidelines – to encourage operators to apply a consistent approach to the publication of information regarding mining operations and make more information available to the public.

Annual Review Guidelines – to assist operators of State significant mining developments to prepare annual reviews.

Water Regulation and Policy – to provide an overview of the current policies and regulations in relation to possible water impacts from mining and petroleum developments in NSW.

Planning Agreement Guidelines – to assist councils and mining companies in negotiating planning agreements for State significant mining developments.

A spokesperson said this was the second stage of the Integrated Mining Policy’s exhibition and gave the community and industry a chance to provide feedback on the draft documents.

“These Guidelines and policy documents will help major mining projects operate safely and comply with their approval conditions,” the spokesperson said.

This is part of a suite of mining policy reforms. The first stage of the Integrated Mining Policy, focussing on applying stringent, clear and consistent requirements to mining applications was released in May for public comment. The Department is currently considering feedback.

In addition, the NSW Government also released a draft amendment to the state policy governing mining in NSW – the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) known as the Mining SEPP.

The draft amendment would remove a provision making the significance of the resource the principal consideration under the Mining SEPP when determining mining projects. It was on exhibition for public feedback this month and the Department is currently considering the feedback.

The exhibition of the Integrated Mining Policy Stage 2 is open until 7 September.

To give feedback visit


Direct link: 

 National Parks experts welcomed home from Canadian Wildfires

Media release: 2 August 2015

Eight National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) fire experts were warmly welcomed home this morning after spending two weeks assisting with the Canadian wildfire emergency.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Deputy Chief Executive, Michael Wright, thanked the team for their enormous efforts as part of the 102-strong Australian crew sent over to join an international firefighting operation.

“The crew returning today spent 14 days fighting fires across the Canadian province of Alberta,” said Mr Wright.

“They worked tirelessly to support the Canadian authorities and fellow international crews from Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States who joined forces to tackle this unprecedented fire emergency.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome the crew home safely and indeed humbling to hear how they tackled the emergency from the ground and air.

“Our guys certainly did us proud and have been great representatives of NPWS and Australia in general.

“Naturally in such an intense situation a great camaraderie developed between the Australian and international teams, contributing to the success of the operation,” said Mr Wright.

The eight NPWS fire specialists who returned today are Mark Crisp (Air Base Manager), Tom Denman (Fire Behaviour Analyst), Ian Dicker (Air Operations Branch Director), Damien Dubrowin (Planning), Simon Hawkes (Air Support Group Supervisor), Andrew Heighway (Ignition Specialist), David McKenzie-Jackson (Divisional Supervisor), and Sean Thompson (Planning).

“In welcoming this crew home I also want to wish the fifty-five Australian emergency services personnel, including four NPWS team members who remain in Canada all the best.

“The second crew are continuing to offer assistance with the fires in British Columbia and are expected home in the coming weeks,” said Mr Wright.

Nearly four million hectares have been burnt so far during this wildfire season, more than double the figures from 2014.

British Columbia’s relationship with Australia in sharing firefighting resources has been in place for over 15 years. This agreement allows for the exchange of personnel, knowledge, skills, equipment, technology and mutual support in the event of an emergency.


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.

 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

 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 

 Proposed threatened species listings: Have your say on proposed threatened species listings

What's this about?

The Fisheries Scientific Committee (FSC), established under Part 7A of the Fisheries Management Act 1994, proposes to list the following animals found in NSW as threatened species:

• Stocky Galaxias (Galaxias tantangara) – Critically Endangered Species 

• Hanley’s River Snail (Notopala hanleyi) – Critically Endangered Species

• Darling River Snail (Notopala sublineata) – omit as an Endangered species and insert as a Critically Endangered Species

The FSC reviewed information and found that the three species are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in NSW in the immediate future, as determined in accordance with criteria prescribed by the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2010.

The proposed determinations can be viewed at DPI Fisheries Head Office, District Fisheries Offices and on the Fisheries Scientific Committee website.

Have your say

The public are invited to view the proposals and submit written feedback via email or by post:

Fisheries Scientific Committee - c/- NSW DPI, PO Box 1305, Crows Nest NSW 1585

Formal Submission: Date: Aug. 5 - Sep. 16, 2015, Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm


 Where’s the birdy? Remote camera captures breath-taking images at Swan Hill wetland

Media release: 5 August 2015

A well-placed camera has captured amazing images, giving insights into the flow-on effects of environmental watering at a wetland near Swan Hill.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has managed the delivery of 230 megalitres of water to the Murray Downs wetland since September 2014.

In that time, site surveys have revealed the presence of seven frog species, 12 different native birds as well as goannas and kangaroos.

While statistics tell part of the story, it’s the images captured on a remote camera that are attracting most of the attention.

Environmental Water Management Officer Emma Wilson said the camera had recorded more than a dozen native animals visiting the site.

“A sequence of images show an eagle coming in to land on a log then hopping down to the water’s edge for a closer inspection,” Ms Wilson said.

“It spreads its wings, wanders into the water then flies off - they’re amazing pictures.

“A few days after the eagle’s visit, a heron stops by followed by a mudlark, some white-winged choughs and a parade of ducks – wood ducks, grey teals, and Pacific black ducks.

“Some are quite oblivious to the camera while others seem a little camera shy, like the white-necked heron that stays long enough to be photographed just twice before leaving,” Ms Wilson said.

The use of remote cameras is helping water managers to understand the role wetlands play in supporting a suite of faunal groups as they alternate between wet and dry phases.

Early analysis of the images suggest that fallen timber plays a role attracting fauna to wetland sites.

Pictures from the motion sensitive camera also show changes in the condition and variety of plants at the site.

“We can see new canopy growth in the river red gums and wetland plants emerge, bloom and set seed,” Ms Wilson said.

Environmental water is a lifeline for the wetland which is located on private property and no longer receives sufficient natural flows.

In collaboration with the landholder, OEH has managed the delivery of this flow to the wetland via the landholder’s pump and irrigation system.

“The wetland responded within hours of the water arriving,” Ms Wilson said.

“Frogs were calling, the ducks arrived soon after and an array of waterbirds in the days following.

“While the water has now receded and the event has come to an end, the effects are ongoing.

“We plan to repeat the process when conditions suit.

“This will enable us to maintain habitat for the threatened southern bell frog, allow wetland plants to recruit and improve the overall condition of the site,” Ms Wilson said.

See the amazing pics here: 

Top: Murray Downs wetland 2015 enviro watering: Wedge-tailed eagle - Office of Environment and Heritage NSW Government picture

 Scientists to help us understand our amazing plants and animals

Media release; 3 August 2015

Australia is home to around eight per cent of the world’s plant and animal species – yet only 25 per cent of those are known to science. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment Bob Baldwin today announced a grant programme designed to help further our knowledge.

“We need to understand the relationships and evolutionary history of our plants and animals in order to fully understand the health of our environment and what we need to do to protect it,” Mr Baldwin said.

“That’s why it is critical to have a grant programme like this. Through the Australian Biological Resources Study, we’re inviting experts including early career researchers to apply for research grants, beginning 2016-17.”

There are two types of grants aimed at scientists of all levels, plus a programme to boost support for PhD students on an Australian Postgraduate Award.

“The three year Research and Postdoctoral Fellowship grants help us define and describe new species and increase our knowledge of Australia’s biodiversity. These projects often have a strong practical application for our public services, agriculture and other industries as well,” Mr Baldwin said.

“In April I had the opportunity to spend some time with a previous grant recipient from the University of Wollongong, who is studying flesh flies. Flesh flies help police by giving different clues about the time and place of death. Speed is obviously of the essence in these cases, and the university’s researchers are identifying better and quicker ways to identify the individual species – cutting down the detection time.”

Researchers working in the priority areas of biodiversity conservation, public, plant and animal health and taxonomy (the formal describing of species) can apply for three year grants of up to $90,000 per annum through the programme.

There are also capacity-building grants of $10,000 for honours, masters and PhD students.

“We’re also offering a $10,000 boost to students who are beginning a PhD in this important field. The Australian Government strongly believes science is at the heart of our society and economy. By supporting the scientists of tomorrow through programmes like these, we’re encouraging invention and innovation, crucial to driving our economy and creating new products and jobs.”

Last year the Australian Government invested in 21 research projects through a $2 million package of National Taxonomy Research Grants, bringing Government investment in the grants to $5.3 million so far.

“We’re going to build again on that investment in 2016-17. I’m looking forward to seeing more exciting and innovative project proposals this time,” Mr Baldwin said.

Over the last 12 months, the Australian Biological Resources Study’s National Taxonomy Research Grants have resulted in the classification and description of more than 740 new species and 70 new genera (a group of species).

For more than 40 years the Australian Biological Resources Study has helped researchers contribute to Australia’s plant and animal knowledge. Located at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, today the programme is managed by Parks Australia.

Applications for the 2016-17 grants close 28 October 2015.

For more information

 Oral contraceptives have prevented about 200,000 cases of endometrial cancer in the last decade

August 4, 2015 - Use of oral contraceptives (usually referred to as "the pill"), even for just a few years, gives substantial long-term protection against endometrial (womb) cancer, and the longer the pill is used the greater the reduction in risk, according to a detailed re-analysis of all the available evidence, published inThe Lancet Oncology journal.

Researchers from the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer estimate that in the past 50 years (1965-2014) about 400000 cases of endometrial cancer have been prevented by oral contraceptive use in high-income countries, including about 200000 in the last decade (2005-2014).

"The strong protective effect of oral contraceptives against endometrial cancer -- which persists for decades after stopping the pill -- means that women who use it when they are in their 20s or even younger continue to benefit into their 50s and older, when cancer becomes more common," explains study author Professor Valerie Beral, from the University of Oxford in the UK.

She added "Previous research has shown that the pill also protects against ovarian cancer. People used to worry that the pill might cause cancer, but in the long term the pill reduces the risk of getting cancer."

The researchers pooled data on 27276 women with endometrial cancer in 36 studies from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South Africa -- virtually all the epidemiological evidence ever collected on the effect of oral contraceptives.

The findings reveal that every 5 years of oral contraceptive use reduces the risk of endometrial cancer by about a quarter. In high-income countries, 10 years of oral contraceptive use reduces the risk of developing endometrial cancer before age 75 from 2.3 to 1.3 cases per 100 users.

Although estrogen doses in oral contraceptives have decreased appreciably over the years, with pills in the 1960s typically containing more than double the estrogen dose of pills in the 1980s, the reduction in endometrial cancer risk was at least as great for women who used the pill during the 1980s as for those who used it in earlier decades. These results suggest that the amount of hormones in the lower-dose pills is still sufficient to reduce the incidence of endometrial cancer, say the authors.

The proportional risk reduction did not vary substantially by women's reproductive history, adiposity (amount of body fat), alcohol use, tobacco use, or ethnicity.

According to study author Dr Naomi Allen, also from the University of Oxford, UK, "The existing evidence suggests that medium-to-long-term use of oral contraceptives (ie, for 5 years or longer) results in substantially reduced risk of endometrial cancer. Over the past 50 years (1965-2014), we estimate that about 400000 endometrial cancers have been prevented in women before the age of 75 years in high-income countries through the use of oral contraceptives, with about 200,000 prevented during the last decade (2005-14)."

Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer.Endometrial cancer and oral contraceptives: an individual participant meta-analysis of 27276 women with endometrial cancer from 36 epidemiological studies. Lancet Oncology, 2015 DOI:10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00212-0 

 University of Sydney launches Brain and Mind Centre

6 August 2015 - Premier Mike Baird launched the University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre on July 28th, 2015, bringing together leading scientists nationally and internationally to address critical health issues of the 21st century – disorders of the brain and mind.

The Premier said that through partnership with the Brain and Mind Centre, the NSW Government is embarking on a once-in-a-generation series of health and welfare system reforms, aimed to reduce over-reliance on crisis care and other hospital-based services. This new approach will strengthen community-based support for people who experience conditions that include clinical depression, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, autism, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and drug addiction.

Disorders of the brain and mind now account for more than 40 per cent of all health-related disability. Together they cost the Australian economy an estimated $30 billion each year.

"The Brain and Mind Centre represents a completely new way of conducting research. The breadth and depth of multidisciplinary research to be conducted by the centre will be unparalleled both in Australia and internationally," said Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney.

The Brain and Mind Centre will bring together all of the University’s various disciplines in health and medical research, science, psychology, engineering, and information technology, but also its expertise in ethics, law, philosophy, economics, education, workplace structure and social organisation.

The initial five-year work of the Centre will focus on three key themes: building and maintaining a healthy brain and mind across the life cycle; being in control of one’s own actions; and maximising the social and economic participation of those living with disorders of the brain and mind.

This Centre’s work is underpinned by expertise in the four key domains of neuroscience, clinical medicine, population health and public policy. It brings together researchers, clinicians, practitioners, students and patients and their families across an extensive network of shared facilities and health precincts.

The Brain and Mind Centre represents a completely new way of conducting research. - Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor

The University also announced the creation of two new Research Chairs in mental health, both supported by the University, private philanthropy and the NSW Government. The first is the Michael Crouch Chair in Child Mental Health, focusing on changes in brain development that underpin childhood risks to the major mental disorders.

The second is the Chair in Youth Depression, focusing on the period of teenage and early adult life when the onset and persistence of major mood disorders gives rise to the greatest risk of ongoing disability and suicidal behaviour in young Australians.

Co-director for Health and Policy, Professor Ian Hickie said: “These new chairs will give us the opportunity to transform the landscape of treatment and management of mood disorders in young people in Australia.”

Find out more about the University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre at:

 Powerful molecular promoter of colon cancers

August 5, 2015 - Cancer researchers already know of some oncogenes and other factors that promote the development of colon cancers, but they don't yet have the full picture of how these cancers originate and spread. Now researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have illuminated another powerful factor in this process.

"This work reveals and unravels an additional pathway for the origin of colon cancer," said senior author Anil K. Rustgi, MD, the T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine and chief of the Gastroenterology division. Explorations of this pathway could lead to new ways of categorizing and treating colon cancers.

The research, published this week in PLoS Genetics, follows a 2013 study in Genes and Development from Rustgi's group, which found that a protein called LIN28B promotes cancerous growth in intestinal cells by suppressing the Let-7 family of molecules.

LIN28B has attracted keen interest among biologists in recent years. The protein's suppression of Let-7 molecules normally helps keep embryonic stem cells in their stem-like state, not only in humans and other mammals but in evolutionarily distant species too. When Let-7 molecules are allowed to work, cells tend to move out of the stem-like state and mature into specific cell types, with much less capacity for uninhibited growth.

This ancient interaction between LIN28B and Let-7 is clearly important for the normal development of animals to maturity and for other growth-related processes such as tissue regeneration after injury. But as Rustgi and other scientists have been finding, LIN28B's suppression of Let-7 is also abnormally switched on in many cancers.

In the new study, Rustgi's team, including first author Blair B. Madison, PhD, who at the time was a postdoctoral fellow in the Rustgi laboratory and is now an assistant professor of Medicine at Washington University, looked downstream of the LIN28B/Let-7 interaction, to determine how Let-7 molecules normally keep intestinal cells from turning cancerous.

Let-7 molecules are not proteins. They are short stretches of RNA (microRNAs, or miRNAs) that work within cells to regulate the expression of various genes. To understand better what Let-7 miRNAs normally do to prevent cancer, Rustgi's team created transgenic mice that produce no Let-7 miRNAs in the intestinal lining.

The researchers observed that adenomas adenomatous polyps, as well as adenocarcinomas resembling typical human colon tumors, sprouted in the intestines of all these no-Let-7 mice by mid-adulthood, increasing their mortality compared to normal mice. Analyses of the tumors, and of derived "tumoroid" three-dimensional cell clusters cultured in the lab dish, pointed to a protein called Hmga2 as a major factor in the tumors' development.

Hmga2 is normally produced during the fast-growth period of fetal life and is thereafter suppressed by Let-7 miRNAs. Rustgi's team observed that in the intestinal lining of the no-Let-7 mice, as well as in tumors and derived tumoroids, Hmga2's gene was expressed at unusually high levels. Using antibodies to mark Hmga2 proteins, they found it to be particularly abundant in tumors that had begun to spread beyond the intestinal lining.

The researchers also found that experimentally lowering Hmga2's production, introduced by another line of transgenic mice, significantly suppressed tumors induced by Lin28b, and suppression of Let-7. What's more, experimentally lowering Hmga2 production in cultures of intestinal tissue from such mice significantly reduced the cells' tendency to proliferate, whereas increasing Hmga2 levels boosted that proliferation.

Analyses of gene expression in the tumors showed a strong relationship between the elevated expression of Hmga2 and the elevated expression of genes considered classic markers of stem cells. That observation adds to findings in recent years that many cancers, including colon cancers, may be driven in part by cancer cells that are in a stem-like state--which may enable them not only to proliferate more easily, but also to better withstand therapies.

Clearly, other factors were also at work in spurring the development of tumors in the Let-7-suppressed mice. Indeed, the researchers found evidence in the tumors of the overactivation of the Wnt signaling pathway, a known promoter of colon cancer--which in these cases may have become spontaneously switched on in some cells. "We suspect that that's the main dysregulation that occurs after Let-7 suppression to boost tumor progression," said Rustgi.

To check the relevance of these mouse results to humans, Rustgi's group examined several hundred human colorectal cancer samples, and found, among other things, lower-than-normal expression of Let-7 miRNAs, and higher-than-normal expression of HMGA2 (the human version of the mouse Hmga2 protein) as well as stem cell markers. In these human cancer samples, HMGA2 expression was also associated with a more advanced stage of tumor growth and reduced survival.

The findings point to a surge in HMGA2 as one of the key factors that promotes colon cancer in the many cases where Let-7 levels are suppressed. HMGA2 is already being considered as a target for new treatments for other cancer types, and this study suggests that targeting HMGA2--perhaps in concert with Wnt signaling factors--may make a difference in colon cancer too.

"We think that there's an axis of cancer promotion here, from LIN28B to Let-7 to the targets of Let-7, including HMGA2, and if one could disrupt the latter with therapeutics, that might help alleviate colon cancer progression and maybe metastasis as well," said Rustgi.

HMGA2 levels may also have a prognostic value, since in this study high HMGA2 levels correlated with more advanced and invasive tumors and a poorer outcome. "We might consider a different therapeutic approach for such patients," Rustgi noted.

B. B. Madison, Q. Liu, X. Zhong, C. M. Hahn, N. Lin, M. J. Emmett, B. Z. Stanger, J.-S. Lee, A. K. Rustgi. LIN28B promotes growth and tumorigenesis of the intestinal epithelium via Let-7. Genes & Development, 2013; 27 (20): 2233 DOI: 10.1101/gad.224659.113 

 Combined impact of smoking, early menopause on mortality

August 5, 2015 - Women may now have yet another reason to quit smoking given the results of a new study that is being reported online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). The Swedish study involving 25,474 women is the first to quantify the combined effects of smoking and age at menopause on overall mortality in terms of survival time by investigating the role of smoking as a possible effect modifier.

A harmful association between younger age at menopause and overall mortality has already been documented. In this study that followed a large population of Swedish women over 16 years, the difference in median age at death between women with menopause at 40 years and women with menopause at 60 years was 1.3 years.

Cigarette smoking, which decreases age at menopause, has been identified as the only lifestyle factor modifying this association. Compared with current smokers, former smokers and never smokers had an older median age at death of 2.5 years. When the analysis was restricted to current smokers, the difference in age at death between women with menopause at age 40 years and women with menopause at 60 years increased from 1.3 years to 2.6 years.

The authors of the study concluded that not only does the age at menopause and smoking relate in predicting mortality, but also that smoking exaggerates the effects of estrogen deficiency on women with menopause at a younger age. However, differently from other studies, this study demonstrated a nonsignificant association between age at menopause and mortality among never smokers. Of note was the fact that the women with later menopause were more likely to be nonsmokers and more likely to use hormone therapy.

"This study provides credible evidence that women can proactively work to delay menopause through various lifestyle choices such as stopping smoking," says NAMS Medical Director Wulf Utian, MD, PhD, DSc. "The ultimate benefit to them is that they may well extend their life expectancy."

The article, "Differences in age at death according to smoking and age at menopause," will be published in the January 2016 print edition of Menopause.

Bellavia, Andrea MSc; Wolk, Alicja Dr Med Sci/PhD; Orsini, Nicola PhD. Differences in age at death according to smoking and age at menopause. Menopause, August 2015 DOI:10.1097/GME.0000000000000501  

 High salt intake could be a risk factor for multiple sclerosis

August 5, 2015 - Here's another reason to put the salt shaker down: New research in mice shows that diets high in sodium may be a novel risk factor in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) by influencing immune cells that cause the disease. Although this research does implicate salt intake as a risk factor, it is important to note that dietary salt is likely just one of the many environmental factors contributing to this complex disease, and very much influenced by one's genetic background. This finding was published in the August 2015 issue ofThe FASEB Journal.

"We hope to provide a comprehensive understanding of how and why environmental factors interact with individuals' unique genetic make up to influence autoimmune diseases such as MS," said Dimitry N. Krementsov, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Medicine, Immunobiology Program at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.

To make this discovery, Krementsov and colleagues fed a high salt diet or a control diet to three genetically different groups of mice. Researchers then induced a disease in these mice that mimics human MS. In one genetic group, both males and females fed a high salt diet showed worse clinical signs of the disease. In the other genetic group, only females showed a negative response to salt. In the third genetic group, there was no response to salt. Genetics were the critical factor. In the mice that did respond to salt, there were no direct changes in the function of their immune cells, but they showed signs of a weakened blood-brain barrier.

"As is the case with other things, you need to get enough salt so your body functions properly, but not too much or things start to go haywire," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This report helps shed light on what can go wrong in individuals with genes that make one susceptible to autoimmune disease. It also helps us understand how much salt is just right for any given individual."

D. N. Krementsov, L. K. Case, W. F. Hickey, C. Teuscher.Exacerbation of autoimmune neuroinflammation by dietary sodium is genetically controlled and sex specific. The FASEB Journal, 2015; 29 (8): 3446 DOI: 10.1096/fj.15-272542

Fear, truth and love - our relationship to the Coast - Daniel Ware

Published on Apr 6, 2015: TEDxGriffithUniversity

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


04 August 2015: Media Release: Prime Minister, Minister for Defence

The Commonwealth Government is delivering a long-term plan for a strong and sustainable naval shipbuilding industry. Over the next 20 years the Government will invest over $89 billion in ships and submarines for the Navy.

This critical investment will generate significant economic growth and sustain several thousand Australian jobs over decades It is a key part of our commitment to a safe and secure Australia.

The Government will implement a continuous build of surface warships in Australia. This means that Australia’s shipbuilding workforce will build Navy’s Future Frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels. 

It’s the first time that any Australian government has committed to a permanent naval shipbuilding industry.

This strategy will transform Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry and put it onto a sustainable long-term path, giving the workforce certainty into the future. 

The former government failed to commission a single naval warship from an Australian shipyard for the six years it was in office. This created the current shipbuilding ‘valley of death’. The Coalition Government’s plan will put an end to the boom-bust cycle that has afflicted the naval shipbuilding industry.

Today, the Government announces that it is:

Bringing forward the Future Frigate programme (SEA 5000) to replace the ANZAC class frigates. As part of this decision, we will confirm a continuous onshore build programme to commence in 2020 – three years earlier than scheduled under Labor’s Defence Capability Plan.  This decision will save over 500 hundred jobs and help reduce the risks associated with a ‘cold start’. The Future Frigates will be built in South Australia based on a Competitive Evaluation Process, which will begin in October 2015.

Bringing forward construction of Offshore Patrol Vessels (SEA 1180) to replace the Armidale class patrol boats by two years, with a continuous onshore build commencing in 2018 following a Competitive Evaluation Process. This decision will maintain around 400 skilled jobs that would otherwise have been lost. It will also reduce the number of man-hours that would be wasted on the Future Frigate programme if the existing workforce was disbanded and reconstituted, setting it on a stronger path for earlier completion.  

In the short term these two measures will sustain around 1,000 jobs that would otherwise have been lost. Once both programmes ramp up they will guarantee around 2,500 Australian shipbuilding jobs for decades.

The third major pillar of the Government’s naval shipbuilding plan will be based on the outcomes of the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) for Australia’s future submarine. 

Overseen by an independent panel of experts, the CEP will ensure that capability, cost, schedule, and key strategic considerations – along with Australian industry involvement – are carefully and methodically considered by the Department of Defence. There will be more submarines and more submarine-related jobs in Australia.

Addressing the serious cost overruns, delays and productivity problems affecting the Air Warfare Destroyer programme is essential to restore public confidence in Australian naval shipbuilding and ensure future projects deliver world-class capabilities for the Defence Force and value for taxpayers.

Following a forensic audit, and building on significant improvements made through the recent interim phase of reforms, the Government is acting decisively to reform the AWD programme. By the end of October 2015 substantial additional shipbuilding management expertise will be inserted into the AWD programme and an additional $1.2 billion will be invested in the programme budget. 

The Government will also undertake further reform of ASC to ensure Australian shipbuilding is best structured to support a continuous build programme and future naval projects are delivered on time and on budget. 

To this end, the Government has commissioned a strategic review of ASC’s shipbuilding capacity. The review will consider how best to implement long-term arrangements. 

Recognising that the Adelaide shipyards and workforce are strategic national assets, the review will consider options to ensure they are structured to support the Government's commitment to naval shipbuilding.  This will include discussions with the South Australian Government on the future of its Common User Facility at Techport, which forms an important part of the Adelaide shipyards.

The outcomes of the review will be considered in conjunction with future decisions on submarines and surface shipbuilding programmes. 

The Coalition Government’s historic investment in Navy capability will be a centrepiece of the fully-funded Defence White Paper that will be released later this year.  It will set out the Government’s plan to equip the Australian Defence Force to meet current and future challenges.

 First Australian study investigating hospital-treated injuries due to intimate partner violence

5 August 2015 - A new report has provided an analysis of the effects on women’s physical health resulting from Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). This is the first Australian study to investigate IPV-related assault injuries in women utilising routinely collected hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) data.

The study, conducted by Erin Cassell and Angela Clapperton at the Monash Injury Research Institute, was based on hospital data held by the Monash Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU).

The study analysed hospital admissions and ED presentations in Victoria from 2009/10 to 2013/14, and found 3794 IPV-related assault injury cases among women aged 15 years and over, an average of 759 per year.

“This count is conservative because of underreporting of IPV-related assault injury cases on hospital datasets and under recognition of cases in the emergency department,” Ms Cassell said.

The majority of injured women (80 per cent) were in age range 15-44 years. From age 45 the frequency of cases decreased as age increased. The perpetrators most commonly hit, punched, kicked or shoved their partners, although some assaults involved knives and blunt objects. The head face and neck was most commonly injured body site.

Among the 1660 admissions, fracture was the most common injury type (22 per cent) followed by superficial injury (19 per cent). However, among the 2134 emergency department presentations, superficial injury was the most common injury type (25 per cent) followed by dislocation, sprain and strain (15 per cent).

At least 11 per cent of the women admitted to hospital for IPV-related assault injury were pregnant, with evidence suggesting that the abdomen/pelvic area was over-involved in these assaults. Available information indicated that former partners were involved in at least 8 per cent of IPV-related assault injury cases.

Reducing family violence is a national and state priority.

“Routinely collected hospital data can be used to monitor the effectiveness of strategies and measures to reduce IPV but the completeness and quality of data collected in Victorian hospitals needs to improve. The advantage of using hospital data is that it includes cases not reported to the police,” Ms Cassell said.

"We also need to investigate what care and support is given to women experiencing partner violence when they present to Victorian hospital EDs and whether it is adequate, as there is evidence from overseas studies that women experiencing partner abuse are high users of ED services," Ms Cassell added.   

View the full report, of the Monash Injury Research Institute. PDF – 3.31 MB

 Rolling in the deep: Underwater rugby (UWR)

3 Aug 2015: UTS - When PhD candidate Gwenael Cadiou first played underwater rugby (UWR) he knew he’d found the sport of his dreams. Encouraged to try the “anti-gravity” contact sport by fellow UTS Science student Kasper Brodersen, Cadiou joined the only Sydney club (UNSW Underwater Rugby Club) in March 2014. By September he was playing in Australia’s first national competition.

Cadiou’s subsequent selection in the Australian UWR Team last April means he has a unique, if somewhat quirky, claim to fame: a French-born marine biologist in the first Australian team to compete at an UWR World Championship.

He describes UWR as “the greatest sport on the planet”.

“UWR combines freediving, tactical teamwork, and personal technical skills like ball passing and tackling in a 3D environment. In fact, it’s really more than a sport in many ways, for me it is a lifestyle that brings a community of water-lovers together in a friendly and fun spirit.”

UWR originated in Germany in the 1960s as a way to keep divers fit during winter. Fifty years later, it’s now forging a following in Australia. The fast-paced, contact sport is played by two, six-a-side teams in a five-metre-deep pool. Each player wears a mask, snorkel and fins, and holds their breath to tackle underwater. The round saltwater-filled ball can be passed a few metres in any direction before it starts to sink. Players score goals in a small basket located at the bottom of each end of the pool.

Cadiou’s lifelong love of water has certainly shaped his life. But growing up in central France, away from the sea, what fuelled his passion for the life aquatic?

“It’s true, I grew up in inland France but we always spent our holidays on the coast. I am also part of the ‘Captain Cousteau generation’. He, SCUBA pioneer and explorer Jacques Cousteau, was very big in France, very influential.

“I started scuba diving at seven, progressed to spear fishing and free diving and that really was one of my big motivations to come to Australia in 2008.”

After completing a master’s in marine science in France, Cadiou worked as an environmental consultant and underwater surveyor for 10 years before connecting with the freediving community in Sydney. His network quickly extended to UTS Professor of Marine Biology David Booth who was looking for volunteers who could dive to help with a weedy seadragon population study. It was Booth who suggested Cadiou apply for a PhD scholarship as an international student.

And Cadiou did. Booth became his supervisor and the project, using acoustic telemetry to track fish movements, has resulted in a productive collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. It also gained Cadiou the first Thyne Reid Doctoral Fellowship from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS).

“Without Dave and UTS I wouldn’t have been awarded the scholarship or the SIMS Fellowship. The SIMS funding was really very helpful because I didn’t have any money at the beginning of the project to buy the acoustic tags I needed to conduct my research.

“Without encouragement from my fellow UTS research student community I wouldn’t have discovered the joy of UWR at the right time in my life. Having recently turned 39, I also think I’ve reached a level of maturity where I can accept the demands of the sport and still have fun.”

This research is funded by:  SIMS/Thyne Reid Doctoral Fellowship, Paddy Pallin/National Parks and Wildlife Foundations, UTS International Postgraduate Research Scholarship

Byline:  Marea Martlew, Faculty of Science

Top: Underwater Rugby. Photo by: Bree Tranter

 Why the long face? Horses and humans share facial expressions

August 5, 2015 - Horses share some surprisingly similar facial expressions to humans and chimps, according to new University of Sussex research.

Mammal communication researchers have shown that, like humans, horses use muscles underlying various facial features -- including their nostrils, lips and eyes -- to alter their facial expressions in a variety of social situations.

The findings, published in PLOS ONE today (05 August 2015), suggest evolutionary parallels in different species in how the face is used for communication.

The study builds on previous research showing that cues from the face are important for horses to communicate, by developing an objective coding system to identify different individual facial expressions on the basis of underlying muscle movement.

The Equine Facial Action Coding System (EquiFACS), as devised by the Sussex team in collaboration with researchers at the University of Portsmouth and Duquesne University, identified 17 "action units" (discrete facial movements) in horses. This compares with 27 in humans, 13 in chimps and 16 in dogs.

The study's co-lead author, doctoral researcher Jennifer Wathan, said: "Horses are predominantly visual animals, with eyesight that's better than domestic cats and dogs, yet their use of facial expressions has been largely overlooked. What surprised us was the rich repertoire of complex facial movements in horses, and how many of them are similar to humans.

"Despite the differences in face structure between horses and humans, we were able to identify some similar expressions in relation to movements of the lips and eyes.

"What we'll now be looking at is how these expressions relate to emotional states."

The researchers analysed video footage of a wide range of naturally occurring horse behaviours to identify all the different movements it is possible for horses to make with their face. They also carried out an anatomical investigation of the facial muscles that underpin these movements. Each individual facial movement that was identified was given a code.

Co-lead author Professor Karen McComb said: "It was previously thought that, in terms of other species, the further away an animal was from humans, the more rudimentary their use of facial expressions would be.

"Through the development of EquiFACS, however, it's apparent that horses, with their complex and fluid social systems, also have an extensive range of facial movements and share many of these with humans and other animals. This contributes to a growing body of evidence suggesting that social factors have had a significant influence on the evolution of facial expression."

She added that a systematic way of recording facial expressions would have a wide range of uses. "With EquiFACS we can now document the facial movements associated with different social and emotional contexts and thus gain insights into how horses are actually experiencing their social world. As well as enhancing our understanding of social cognition and comparative psychology, the findings should ultimately provide important information for veterinary and animal welfare practices."

Jen Wathan, Anne Burrows, Bridget M Waller and Karen McComb.EquiFACS: The equine Facial Actin Coding System. PLOS ONE, 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131738

Top: Horses use similar facial muscles to humans, suggesting an evolutionary parallel in how horses and humans use the face to communicate. Credit: Jennifer Wathan

More Australian Newspapers added to Trove

The National Library of Australia is pleased to announce that the following newspapers, digitised by the National Library through the Australian Newspaper Plan program, have been recently added to Digitised newspapers and more on Trove. Many of these newspapers are currently being added to Trove and further issues will become available shortly.
New South Wales
- Blue Mountains Daily (Katoomba, NSW : 1939)
- The Blue Mountains Times (Katoomba, NSW : 1931 - 1937)
- Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1915 - 1954)
- The Enterprise (Katoomba, NSW : 1913)
- Katoomba Times (NSW : 1889 - 1894)
- Manilla Express (NSW : 1899 - 1954)
- The Record of the Blue Mountains (Katoomba, NSW : 1924)
- Bowen Independent (Qld. : 1911 - 1954)
- Pittsworth Sentinel (Qld. : 1919 - 1954)
South Australia
- Adelaide Chronicle and South Australian Advertiser (SA : 1839 - 1840)
- Adelaide Chronicle and South Australian Literary Record (SA : 1840 - 1842)
- Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
- Port Adelaide News (SA : 1878 - 1883)
- Port Adelaide News and Commercial and Shipping Gazette (SA : 1878)
- Port Adelaide News and Lefevre's Peninsula Advertiser (SA : 1883 - 1897)
- Port Augusta Dispatch (SA : 1877 - 1880)
- Port Augusta Dispatch and Flinders' Advertiser (SA : 1880 - 1884)
- Port Augusta Dispatch (SA : 1884)
- The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)
- The Port Pirie Standard and Barrier Advertiser (SA : 1889 - 1898)
- South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide, SA : 1845 - 1847)
- South Australian Gazette and Mining Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1847 - 1852)
- Times (Victor Harbor, SA : 1987 - 1999)
- Whyalla News (SA : 1940 - 1954)
- Church of England Messenger (Melbourne, Vic. : 1905)
- Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (South Melbourne, Vic. : 1860 - 1870)

National Library of Australia:
Digitised newspapers and more on Trove:
Australian Newspaper Plan Program: