Inbox and Environment News - Issue 241 

 November 22 - 28, 2015: Issue 241

Reforms to Better Manage Our Coast

Friday, 13 November 2015

Planning Minister Rob Stokes today released draft reforms for consultation to make coastal management in NSW simpler, forward-thinking and easier to implement. 

“The NSW Government recognises the importance of our state’s saltwater economy and we want to see thriving, resilient communities living, working and playing on a healthy coast now and into the future,” Mr Stokes said. 

“We want to replace and improve on the outdated and complex web of laws managing our coast. The current Act is complex, difficult to navigate, and its one-size-fits all approach is no longer fit for purpose. 

“Since the original Coastal Protection Act was enacted in 1979 our understanding of coastal processes has improved dramatically. We know our coastline is not a fixed object, but a dynamic, ever-changing environment with a range of natural processes.” 

The reforms include:  

• A draft Bill for a new Coastal Management Act.

• Key elements of a new Coastal Management Manual.

• Proposals for a new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). 

The draft Bill redefines the coast as four distinct areas of coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests; coastal vulnerability areas; coastal environment areas and coastal use areas to identify each area’s unique management requirements. 

The manual will provide guidance to local councils and clear, step-by-step instructions to support them to manage their coast using the new Coastal Management Act. 

The new SEPP will help manage the legacy of existing coastal hazards and help plan to ensure new hazards are avoided. 

A three-month consultation period will run to ensure everyone has a chance to have their say. Go to 


Our future on the coast: NSW coastal management reforms

The public consultation package includes a draft Coastal Management Bill, an Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), and key elements of a draft coastal management manual.

Additional elements of the proposed new framework will be released later for public comment, including further components of the manual, maps of the coastal zone that will form part of the SEPP and proposals concerning the effects of coastal erosion on coastal boundaries.

Have your say

The public is invited to read the documents for consultation and provide feedback about the new approach.

Submit feedback by 29 February 2016 via consultation form or post to:

Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290 , Sydney South. NSW 1232

Information sessions on the coastal management reforms will be held in coastal locations during late November and early December 2015. Details on the information sessions is available.

You are invited to join an information session on the coastal management reforms: to find out what will be on exhibition, how the proposals have been developed and how to have your say.

Community information sessions will include some short presentations, information displays and plenty of time to have your questions answered.

WHEN: Monday, 23 November 2015 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (AEDT) - Add to Calendar

WHERE: Manly Surf Club Hall - Ocean Beach, Manly (cnr Ashburner St & South Steyne) 



Friday 27 November, 7 - 9pm

Come and join us after dark for an exciting evening looking for some of the nocturnal creatures that live in Pittwater. It’s a great chance to learn about our wonderful wetlands and its inhabitants. This walk is suitable for children aged five and above. 

Where: Meet point provided on booking.

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


North Narrabeen Aquatic Reserve

Saturday 12 December, 2:30 - 4:30pm

Come and join us on a low tide rock platform tour. Once the ocean retreats an amazing world becomes uncovered for us to enjoy. Investigate the amazing diversity of life that lives between the land and the sea and how creatures survive in such a unique and challenging environment. Sea stars, sea hares, limpets and crabs are some of the amazing creatures that call these rock platforms home.

The tour is a great opportunity to learn about the amazingly abundant life that exists in these special places. Guided by local experts it’s a great way to learn more about a world that is rarely seen. An amazing adventure for all the family!

When: Saturday 12 December, 2:30 - 4:30pm

Where: Meet point provided on booking.

What to bring: Sturdy covered shoes that can get wet, hat, sunscreen, water, camera (optional).

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

 Humane Society International v Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd

EDO NSW: November 18, 2015

On behalf of Humane Society International (HSI), EDO NSW successfully acted in Federal Court contempt proceedings against Japanese whaling company, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd (Kyodo).

The Federal Court of Australia has ruled that Kyodo is in contempt of Court, and fined the company $1 million.

In January 2008, we successfully represented HSI in long-running Federal Court proceedings which resulted in the Court declaring that Kyodo was breaching Australia’s federal environmental law by whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in the Australian Antarctic Territory. The Court granted an injunction to restrain Kyodo from further breaches of the Federal environment law.

Following the Court’s ruling, HSI representatives travelled to Japan and served the injunction on Kyodo. Despite this, Kyodo has continued its whaling activities in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. No enforcement action was taken pending the outcome of the International Court of Justice hearing into Japan’s whaling program.

In March 2014, the International Court of Justice found that Japan’s whaling program was not in accordance with scientific research programs provided under international law and ordered Japan to cease its whaling program. However, in October 2014, Japan announced its intention to recommence whaling under a new program that it again claims is for scientific research.

With Japan’s whaling program due to recommence around December 2015, in these proceedings HSI sought to enforce the 2008 injunction. HSI applied to the Federal Court in September 2015 seeking orders that Kyodo is in contempt of the 2008 injunction by continuing to interfere with and kill whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. The case will be heard in November 2015.

We are grateful to barristers Jeremy Kirk SC and James Hutton for their assistance in this matter.

Top: Minke whales. Image: Adrian Baddeley

 Centennial Coal's spill into the Wollangambe not cleaned up!

Published on 28 Oct 2015 by Alex Allchin

Shown here is a section of the Wollangambe that apparently has been cleaned up by Centennial Coal, under order of the EPA. The fact that this is what we found is completely unacceptable.

On Thursday, 2nd July, a stockpile of coal fines at the Clarence Colliery collapsed and slid downhill into the Wollangambe River. It entered the river at a point within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, and has since travelled more than 10 km downstream, leaving a trail of pollution as it went.

This river, which we care deeply about, had been damaged in what the EPA have called a serious environmental incident. An incident that needs to be rectified as best possible, and then big changes made so that similar events do not occur again in the future.

Find out more information at and join the facebook page over at here

 Wollangambe River Pollution and Coal Spill

Published on 20 Jul 2015 by Jim Vaughan

On July 2, 2015 a major coal spill from Centennial Coals Clarence coal mine washed into the Wollangambe river.

Above Photo courtesy Lithgow Environment Group Inc. : July 7  - "A walk on Newnes Plateau on the weekend with a shock walking on the other side of the Wollangambe River near Wollangambe Crater. Zooming in on what was even more of a surprise to find the recent coal wall collapse."

* Coal Waste heaps rarely collapse, and when they do it almost always occurs during periods of heavy rain, but in this case the collapse occurred in fine weather. This suggests that either the large coal waste heap was completely unsound or not an engineered structure, or, some "highly unusual factors" were in play. 

Colong Foundation for Wilderness

 EPA Investigates Major Incident at Clarence Colliery

EPA Connect Newsletter- September, 2015

The EPA is currently investigating a major spill from a coal reject stockpile at Centennial Coal’s Clarence Colliery near Lithgow.

The incident occurred on the 2 July 2015 and resulted in many tonnes of coal fines and course reject material spilling from the mine and dispersing down the hillside and into the Wollangambe River, up to eight kilometres downstream of the spill site.

“The immediate focus of the EPA’s investigation has been on containing and cleaning up the spill to minimise impact on the environment,” said EPA Director South Gary Whytcross.

 “The EPA issued a Clean-up Notice to the company on 3 July 2015 which outlined the requirements for the clean-up of the environment.

 “The first step the EPA required of the company was to install 22 silt fences between the mine and the river to contain the material and prevent any further impact to the river.

 “Coal fines from the drainage line between the mine and the river have been removed and the clean-up of the material on the hillside is also complete.”

Gary Whytcross advised that the EPA has worked closely with the Office of Environment and Heritage and National Parks and Wildlife Service to inspect the impact to the river and determine the best approach to removing the coal fines from the river.

 “I would also like to thank bushwalkers who used local knowledge to locate and report on coal fines in sections of the Wollangambe River that are very difficult to access.

 “On 18 August 2015 the EPA issued a second Clean-up Notice to Centennial Coal outlining the methods for clean-up of the river to ensure minimal risk to the aquatic and riverine environment.

 “The clean-up of the river is progressing. The company is required to continue cleaning the river until the EPA is satisfied. In-stream barriers are in place to limit any downstream movement of the coal fines in the river.

 “The EPA has required the company to provide weekly reports and has been undertaking regular inspections.”

The EPA is also undertaking a thorough legal investigation into the incident to determine the circumstances surrounding the cause and any breaches of environmental legislation.

 A copy of Centennial Coal’s Environment Protection Licence (726) for the Clarence Colliery, including a copy of the clean-up notice’s issued are available on the EPA website: POEO Public Register search

 Mining policy guidelines give industry and community confidence

30.10.2015: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment today announced the publication of two final Integrated Mining Policy guidelines.

The Integrated Mining Policy aims to:

• ensure the community has access to relevant and timely information about mining projects

• provide industry and the community with clarity about expectations regarding mining assessments

• improve the regulation and assessment of major mining projects

• help manage the environmental and social impacts of mining.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the policy helped address concerns about the complexity of the system for assessing major mining projects. 

“The Integrated Mining Policy helps make the system simpler by clarifying the Department’s expectations, ensuring rigour in assessments and maintaining high standards of community consultation,” the spokesperson said.

The two parts of the Integrated Mining Policy released today are:

• Indicative Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements that outline common assessment requirements that proposed mining operations must address in the Environmental Impact Statement as part of a development application

• Annual Review Guideline that brings together the annual reporting requirements of the Division of Resources and Energy and the Department of Planning and Environment into a single, concise document.

Stage 1 and 2 of the Integrated Mining Policy were exhibited for public comment in mid-2015. The final guidelines took these comments into account and the document has been amended where appropriate. 

Guidelines for the economic assessment of mining and coal seam gas proposals are currently on exhibition until 24 November.

Further information:

Other IMP documents, such as the Planning Agreement Guideline, are being revised by the Government following public consultations. All documents will be published once finalised.

Once all the IMP documents are finalised, the Government will consult with stakeholders about the implementation process. If there is any inconsistency between the IMP and the conditions of existing approvals, the requirements of an approval will take precedence.

 Have your say on modifications to Austar coal mine

10.11.2015: Departmental Media Release, Department of Planning and Environment

A proposal to extend one of Austar coal mine’s development consents to provide for an additional five years of mining until 2022 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 also seeks approval to include three new longwall panels at the mine located 10 kilometres from Cessnock. 

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 (EIS), visit

Submissions can be made from Tuesday 10 November until Tuesday 24 November 2015.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning and Environment, Attn: Director – Resource Assessments, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001

The application and EIS is also available to view in person at:

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

• Cessnock City Council, 62-78 Vincent Street, Cessnock

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


Direct link: 


Coraki Quarry- Have Your Say

The proposal involves establishing a new quarry to extract a maximum of 1 million tonnes per annum of hard rock material over an operating life of approximately 7 years subject to the duration of the Pacific Highway upgrade project. 

The project involves using a portion of the existing Petersons Quarry to establish and operate the processing plant. Vehicular access to the project is via Seelems Road and Petersons Quarry Road. The project will involve transporting material off-site by trucks, primarily to supply the Pacific Highway upgrade project.

Job Status EIS Exhibition

Project is currently on public exhibition and opportunity for public submissions is available

Assessment Type SSD

Project Type Mining, Petroleum & Extraction > Extractive Industries

Application Number SSD 7036

DGRS Issued: 22/05/2015

Exhibition Start 10/11/2015

Exhibition End 10/12/2015



Have your say on the expansion of a waste and recycling facility at Lucas Heights

10.11.2015: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

A proposal to expand the existing waste and recycling facility at Lucas Heights is on exhibition for community feedback.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the application which seeks to increase the quantity of waste processed at the Lucas Heights Resource Recovery Park by 410,000 tonnes to 1,140,000 tonnes per year by:

• increasing the capacity of the existing landfill by 8.3 million cubic metres and extending the life of the landfill from 2025 to 2037

• increasing the approved quantity of waste landfilled by 275,000 tonnes to 850,000 tonnes per year

• relocating the existing garden organics facility and increasing the capacity of green waste by 25,000 tonnes to 80,000 tonnes per year

• constructing an advanced resource recovery technology facility to recover resources (such as steel and organics) from up to 200,000 tonnes of general solid waste per year

• rehabilitating the site after closure in 2037 to create 124 hectares of parkland for future community use.

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 (EIS), visit

Submissions can be made from Friday 6 November until Friday 18 December 2015.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning and Environment,  Attn: Director –Industry Assessments, GPO Box 39,  Sydney NSW 2001

The application and EIS is also available to view in person at:

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

• Sutherland Shire Council, 4-20 Eton Street, Sutherland

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


Direct link:

 Have your say on extending the Rixs Creek Mine Project

03.11.2015: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

A proposal to extend the Rix’s Creek Mine Project located near Singleton 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:

• extend the approved duration of mining operations from 2019 until 2038

• recover an additional 32 million tonnes of coal over the duration of the project

• increase the maximum approved extraction rate of coal from 2.8 million tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes per year

• extend the western boundary to construct a new area for waste rock

• increase the hours of operation of the coal handling and processing plant from four- and-a-half days a week to seven days a week

• transport up to approximately 2.7 million tonnes a year of coal via rail to the Port of Newcastle

• continue using the existing waste storage areas

• construct a second New England Highway underpass

• progressively rehabilitate the site.

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 (EIS), visit

Submissions can be made from Tuesday 3 November until Thursday 3 December.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning and Environment, Attn: Director – Resource Assessments GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001

The application and EIS is also available to view in person at:

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

• Singleton Shire Council, Administration Centre, Corner of Queen Street & Civic Avenue, Singleton

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


Direct link:

 Economic assessment of mining guidelines

What's this about?

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on draft Guidelines for the Economic Assessment of Mining and Coal Seam Gas Proposals.

The guidelines have been updated to ensure economic assessments are more robust and consistent across NSW. In particular, the guidelines will have a greater focus on the impact of the project on the local community, as well as the state.

Economic assessments are used to inform consent authorities about the economic impacts of a major project, and are one of a number of factors considered in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

View and comment on the revised guidelines on the NSW Planning and Environment  website until 24 November 2015.

Have your say

Submit your written feedback online  or post to:

Deputy Secretary, Growth, Design & Programs Division, Department of Planning and Environment, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001

Exhibition Date: Oct. 14 - Nov. 24, 2015

Department of Planning & Environment - 23-33 Bridge Street,Sydney 2000

More Information:

 1300 305 695 

 Agency Website  Consultation Website 

 EPA fines Forestry Corporation $15,000 for erosion incident

Media release: 13 November 2015

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) a $15,000 penalty notice for a major erosion incident in Tuckers Nob State Forest, near Coffs Harbour on the state’s north coast.

FCNSW undertook a clear-fell harvesting operation on a native forest plantation from September to November 2014, followed by plantation re-establishment works which continued until late February 2015. EPA North Coast Region Manager Brett Nudd said FCNSW had failed to implement effective erosion and sediment control measures.

“FCNSW did not pay adequate attention to likely rainfall and soil loss risks in its harvest and re-establishment planning in the Tuckers Nob native plantation,” Mr Nudd said.

“The timing of plantation re-establishment coincided with the time of year when you can expect high rainfall events in the area. This exacerbated the risk of soil washing into tributaries leading to Never Never Creek.”

Records show that approximately 220mm of rain fell over 2 and 3 February. This led to surface run-off which carried sediment into the Never Never Creek. FCNSW estimated that more than 100m3 of sediment washed into the Never Never catchment.

“However, the EPA’s investigation suggested that the volume of sediment entering the waterways would have been significantly higher than FCNSW’s estimate,” Mr Nudd said.

“The EPA has issued FCNSW a $15,000 fine for polluting the Never Never Creek.”

“The EPA’s investigation found that FCNSW did not have appropriate mitigation measures in place to reduce erosion risks, and that the risks were not adequately considered in harvest or re-establishment plans.”

“The EPA concluded that FCNSW had failed to deliver appropriate due diligence in its forestry operations.”

Members of the public with concerns about environmental incidents should call the 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.

 Submissions on the Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation

One of the conditions on titles is that title holders must undertake community consultation according to the guidelines set out by the Division of Resources and Energy (DRE).

The DRE is currently reviewing its Guidelines for Community Consultation Requirements for Exploration and the associated community consultation reporting information.

A draft of the new Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation is now available for public comment.

Key highlights

The draft Code:

• requires community consultation to be adequate, inclusive and appropriate, and be undertaken in an open and accountable way

• provides detailed requirements relating to the development of a community consultation strategy

• requires the type and scale of consultation to correspond with the activity impact level (an assessment tool is provided to determine the impact level)

• incorporates detailed guidelines on the minimum requirements for the Annual Community Consultation Report (these are also supported by Community Consultation Plan provisions which outline the content of a plan, and its benefit in informing the annual reporting requirements).

Applicability of the draft Code

The draft Code will apply to all titles (coal, minerals and petroleum) issued after the publication of the Code, through an amended condition of title.

New requirements for minerals exploration

The community consultation conditions on minerals titles will be amended to be consistent with those for coal and petroleum. 

Minerals explorers will need to comply with the new Code and be aware that:

• where the mineral exploration project is a low impact activity, new community consultation requirements under the Code will be no more onerous than the existing requirements

• where the activity is of greater impact, then additional community consultation will be required, proportional to the impact and in keeping with those required for other resources.

Making a submission

The public are invited to submit their feedback on the draftExploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation. You can have your say:

• online: use our online form to have your say

• email:

• post: Community Consultation Code, NSW Department of Industry, Division of Resources and Energy, PO Box 344, Hunter Region Mail Centre NSW 2310

Closing date

Submissions received before the 30 November, 2015 will be considered in the finalisation of the draft Code.


If you have any questions about the process, or for further information, please contact Nicola Robinson by email at or phone 02 4931 6672.

 130 bird species spotted as watering event ends in the Macquarie Marshes

Media release: 17 November 2015

Waterbirds are feasting on the mud flats of the Macquarie Marshes after a 71-day environmental watering event.

The rarely seen Australian Painted Snipe has made an appearance, feeding on insects, worms and small invertebrates whose numbers have exploded since the water’s arrival.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has managed the delivery of 52,000 megalitres of environmental water, connecting the Mid-Macquarie River to the Marshes with some flows then moving through to the Lower Macquarie River and Barwon River.

Senior Wetlands and Rivers Conservation Officer Tim Hosking said the winter-spring flow had achieved several positive outcomes.

“Several Australian Painted Snipe were spotted in wetlands in the southern part of the Macquarie Marshes,” Mr Hosking said.

“This vulnerable waterbird feeds on the mudflats at the water’s edge but is rarely seen because it blends so well with its environment.

“Recent monitoring has revealed a number of bird species making use of the Marshes including Australasian bitterns and royal spoonbills in breeding plumage.

“There have also been sightings of whiskered terns, a black-necked stork and sharp-tailed sandpipers – a migratory shorebird who visits our area all the way from eastern Asia.

“The October surveys recorded 130 bird species including both wetland and woodland varieties,” he said.

Flows have recently receded along the length of the mid-Macquarie River as the flow passed.

“Careful management of the timing and delivery rates for the flow event allowed us to inundate several target areas including some of the parched river red gum woodlands of the northern Macquarie Marshes,” Mr Hosking said.

“These woodlands were recognised as areas of high water need by our local advisory committee, the Macquarie-Cudgegong Environmental Flow Reference Group.

“Early results indicate we had an excellent water spread for the volume of water used, and the response from the environment in terms of frogs, waterbird diversity and vegetation growth has met our expectations.

“This event marks the end of our three-year plan for the water allocated to our accounts in the 2012 dam spill.

“We have held a relatively small volume of environmental water over for 2016, but without catchment rain it will be a pretty quiet year, as it will be for most general security account holders in the Macquarie.

“While the Macquarie has had over thirty years of environmental water use, we continue to learn by doing and improving outcomes for the river system.

“The scientific monitoring we’ve been doing over the past few months - including work on birds, frogs and the mapping of the water spread - will continue to inform the Environmental Flows Reference Group and form the basis of our reporting on the event,” he said.

The event was managed in partnership with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Water NSW and the community.

 Hurlstone Agricultural High set to co-locate with Western Sydney University

November 18, 2015

Western Sydney University's Hawkesbury campus will soon host Australia's most advanced agricultural high school, with plans to move Hurlstone Agricultural High to the University in 2020 under an ambitious plan worth more than $35 million announced by the State Government. 

NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli and Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover today officially signed a heads of agreement, proposing to relocate the high school to a new state-of-the-art facility at the Hawkesbury Campus – itself, the site of the first agricultural college in NSW.

The new Hurlstone Agricultural High School (Hawkesbury) will be an academically-selective agriculture and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) school, catering for 1,500 students spanning years 7-12.

A shared university and high school precinct will give school students exposure to the University's world-leading science, agricultural, STEM, and environmental research and facilities, as well as access to the University's extensive tracts of farm land, suitable for both intensive and progressive farming practices.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover said the University has a long and proud history in agricultural education, dating back to 1891 and the days of the Hawkesbury Agricultural College.

"Today's announcement is the bringing together of two of NSW's most important and long-standing agricultural institutions, representing an important renewal and progression of a proud agricultural education tradition," says Professor Glover.

"Most critically, the infusion of STEM into this selective agricultural model of vertically-integrated education is pivotal not just to the School's success, but to the University, the Western Sydney region, and the broader economy.

"Western Sydney's continued emergence as a key driver of Australia's innovation agenda is largely dependent on the constant flow of high-quality graduates from STEM disciplines. Embedding Hurlstone Agricultural High School within the University's own world-leading research and teaching environment is precisely the way to achieve that outcome."

The $35 million will be used to develop new, purpose-built buildings for the school, which will feature high-tech learning spaces and advanced technologies such as touch sensitive screens, writable walls, breakout pods and full Wi-Fi connectivity. The new school will also incorporate new boarding facilities, playing fields, and outdoor learning spaces to give students a full and enriching high school experience.

According to figures provided by the NSW Department of Education, agriculture is a key driver for the state's economy, contributing $12 billion to NSW, with agricultural exports adding another $5.6 billion. Agriculture and related industries also employ some 65,000 people across the state.

Professor Glover says that as part of the University's own Innovation Corridor economic development strategy, it has consolidated key agricultural, STEM and innovation-themed expertise into an 'Hawkesbury Agripark' at the campus, which includes the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, an Intensive Horticulture Greenhouse Technology project, and the development of an Agritech 'LaunchPad' business accelerator in collaboration with corporate and Government partners.

"Hurlstone Agricultural High School is an exceptional fit with our own Hawkesbury Agripark's objectives – significantly enhancing its educational platform in a collaborative and highly integrated way," says Professor Glover. 

 Healthy devils returned to the wild will give others a chance

Joint media release: November 18, 2015- The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment; The Hon. Matthew Groom MP, Tasmanian Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage

The landmark release of 39 healthy Tasmanian devils on Forestier Peninsula later today will help re-establish a wild population free of Deadly Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).

Australia's Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and Tasmanian Environment Minister Matthew Groom welcome the release – by the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program – on private property this afternoon.

Minister Hunt said the relocation of these devils represents the culmination of years of hard work to protect and recover the species.

"It is a crucial part of ongoing efforts to explore ways to rebuild populations affected by DFTD and establish wild devil recovery zones across Tasmania to coordinate conservation of wild devils."

The devastating disease was detected in devils living on Forestier Peninsula in 2004 and – after an unsuccessful attempt to remove the infected animals – the area was entirely depopulated in 2012 to ensure it was disease-free.

"The return of disease-free animals to this site is another exciting step in joint efforts by the Australian and Tasmanian governments to save this iconic species," Minister Hunt said.

Minister Groom said the release is part of Tasmania's Wild Devil Recovery Project, established in 2014 under the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to get healthy devils returned to the Tasmanian bush.

"The devils to be released onto the Forestier Peninsula include some of the descendants of animals removed in the depopulation," Minister Groom said.

"The devils chosen for this release have been carefully selected for wild traits and good genetics to assist in boosting the existing population of approximately 20 healthy devils already living on the nearby Tasman Peninsula."

Minister Groom said the Forestier Peninsula is an ideal location to protect healthy devils because it is naturally isolated by the Denison Canal at Dunalley, has large areas of suitable devil habitat and is big enough for a self-sustaining population of devils."

"This latest wild devil release follows the release of 48 disease-free devils on Maria Island and into Narawntapu National Park over the past three years," Minister Groom said.

"These devils are all part of an insurance population of around 600 animals held in 41 facilities throughout Tasmania and interstate. Yesterday's release included devils from New South Wales, Victoria and here at home in Tasmania."

Tasmania's Wild Devil Recovery Project is jointly funded by the Australian and Tasmanian governments.

The Forestier Peninsula translocation is possible due to the ongoing commitment by the Tasmanian government, the continued support of the Australian government, and the strong partnership with the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA), the University of Tasmania, San Diego Zoo Global, zoos, wildlife parks and other facilities across Tasmania, Australia and overseas.

Top: Dept. Enviro Pic - Tassie Devils released

 Climate macroscope: New software for finding tipping points and critical network structures – free to download

November 17, 2015

If you wanted to know whether shifts in the African climate during Paleolithic times correlated with the appearance and disappearance of hominin species, how would you find the answer? It's a tricky question because of the massive amounts of noisy, complicated data you would need to analyze.

Now researchers in Germany have developed a new tool to help grapple with enormous data sets and reveal big picture trends, such as climatic tipping points and their effects on species. The researchers created a software package based on the Python programming language that unifies complex network theory and nonlinear time series analysis -- two important data analysis concepts.

A complex network is just that -- a social, biological or technological network with patterns of connections that are neither regular nor purely random. Nonlinear time series analyses are often used to look at complex systems, including those that unfold in a chaotic manner. Many natural phenomena, like changing weather patterns, are nonlinear in nature -- as are human-made systems, like financial markets.

The researchers named the software that unifies the two concepts pyunicorn. They discuss their findings in this week's CHAOS, from AIP Publishing.

"Pyunicorn works like a macroscope, [which], if used the right way, allows to distill the essence of information from a network or time series data," said Jonathan Donges, a former Ph.D. student in the group of Jürgen Kurths and co-speaker of a flagship project, called COPAN, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, which aims to develop conceptual models of global socio-environmental dynamics.

The software could be used to identify critical network structures, such as bottlenecks and backbones, for transport processes, as well as revealing tipping points in climatological or physiological time series.

Accordingly, the package's main application is the analysis of data from observations, experiments and model systems by way of graphs and time series of several quantities in parallel, such as temperature, precipitation and wind for climate, or blood pressure and breathing for physiology. By applying recurrence network analysis, which studies when a system returns to a former state, pyunicorn was able to detect tipping points in time series. This includes the aforementioned paleoclimate records, as well as the early emergence of a severe condition in pregnant women known as preeclampsia.

Donges's previous work has involved complex networks and nonlinear time series analysis and their applications to real world data analysis. Developing the pyunicorn package involved collaborators at PIK, Humboldt University Berlin, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, University of Aberdeen and Nishny Novgorod State University, located respectively in Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Russia.

"Many of these methods were newly developed by our team and, moreover, there was a lack of coherent software implementations for existing methods," said Donges. "Pyunicorn was developed to close this gap and to provide an integrative software framework for applying and further developing methods for complex networks and nonlinear time series analysis and their combinations."

As its name might imply, pyunicorn is written in Python, a popular open-source programming language. The package is designed in a modular fashion that makes it easy to use in different settings, ranging from interactive analysis sessions on laptops to large-scale parallel data analysis on supercomputer clusters. As with all Python software, pyunicorn runs on a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Mac OSX, Windows and Android.

The software's versatility fulfills a key aim of the project, which was to make the software publicly available and easy to use for researchers and practitioners in a variety of fields, ranging from complex systems science to climatology, medicine, neuroscience, economics and engineering.

"Many of the provided methods were not freely available before to the scientific community, and weren't available in the flexible and popular Python programming language," said Jürgen Kurths, who supervised the work.

Future work for Donges and his colleagues involves speeding up the package's code and ensuring compatibility with the Python 3.x platform. Donges remains optimistic but cautious about the uses of the package.

"Combining well-known approaches in a new way can yield exciting insights and perspectives in complex systems science," he said. "Software packages such as pyunicorn can be highly useful in catalyzing this process, but need to be applied in a thoughtful and theory-based way. Otherwise, the result might be junk science."

The pyunicorn package can be freely downloaded at:

Top: Climate network visualization revealing the backbone structure of strong statistical interrelations (links) between surface air temperature time series (nodes) all over the globe with features including the tropical Walker circulation and surface ocean currents. 

CREDIT: T. Nocke/PIK Potsdam and C. Tominski/Uni Rostock

 Turtle month: Australians urged to use app to help prevent extinction

November 2, 2015: UWS

As predators and mystery illnesses drive turtle populations in Australia to extinction, Western Sydney University scientists are asking Australians to join the fight during Turtle Month using their smartphones.

November is Turtle Month, a dangerous time of year for turtles as they leave the safety of the water to nest.

To help pinpoint the location of turtles across Australia, Western Sydney University researchers have launched TurtleSAT , a mobile app and website to log sightings of turtles, alive and dead.

"By knowing where turtles are crossing roads or making their nests, we can introduce new measures to protect them," says Dr Ricky Spencer, from the School of Science and Health.

"As a result of Turtle Month last year, we had more than 1000 recordings on TurtleSAT, which resulted in the construction of road signs to warn drivers of areas where turtles are crossing."

"Conservation agencies are now directing resources into managing nesting grounds, rather than broad-scale poison baiting. This is Citizen Science in action."

For Turtle Month in 2015, TurtleSAT has some unique major prizes for Citizen Scientists. Everyone who records a sighting will go into the draw to receive a series of amazing drawings and photos.

Dr Spencer says time is running out for turtles around Australia.

"The Bellinger River Snapping Turtle- a species over two million years old- was in healthy numbers in January this year, but by March it was close to extinction," he says.

"Throughout most of Australia, predation on nests and nesting females is extreme, with foxes able to destroy up to 100 per cent of turtle nests in an area."

Dr Spencer says turtles perform important functions in the ecosystem.

"They are top predators and major scavengers and if they disappear like they have in the Bellinger River, then water quality will be affected," he says.

"The good news is there is hope. If people around Australia record their turtle sightings through TurtleSAT, we can take measures to protect the fragile populations still left, and help the animals recover."

To become a Citizen Scientist and have a chance of winning these unique prizes, just download the App. Keep up to date with news and alerts via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (search TurtleSAT).

 Tweed Shire Koala Endangered Population Preliminary Determination



The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, has made a Final Determination to REJECT a proposal to list a population of the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss, 1817) in the Tweed local government area east of the Pacific Highway as an ENDANGERED POPULATION in the Schedules of the Act. NOTICE OF PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION 

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, has made a Preliminary Determination to support a proposal to list a population of the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss, 1817) between the Tweed and Brunswick Rivers east of the Pacific Highway as an ENDANGERED POPULATION in Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Act. 

Any person may make a written submission regarding the Preliminary Determination. Send submissions to: Scientific Committee, PO Box 1967, Hurstville BC 1481. Attention Suzanne Chate. Submissions must be received by 4 December 2015. 

Copies of these Determinations, which contains the reasons for these determinations, may be obtained free of charge on the Internet, by contacting the Scientific Committee Unit, PO Box 1967 Hurstville BC 1481. Tel: (02) 9585 6940 or Fax (02) 9585 6606, or in person at the Office of Environment and Heritage Information Centre, Level 14, 59–61 Goulburn Street, Sydney. 

Copies of the determination may also be obtained from National Parks and Wildlife Service Area Offices and Visitor Centres, subject to availability. 

Dr Mark Eldridge 

Chairperson NSW Scientific Committee.

From New South Wales Government Gazette – Published online October 9th, 2015:

 2016 NSW Australian of the Year finalists announced

November 16, 2015

2016 NSW Australian of the Year - Elizabeth Broderick 

2016 NSW Senior Australian of the Year - Professor Gordian Fulde 

2016 NSW Young Australian of the Year - Melissa Abu-Gazaleh

2016 NSW Local Hero - Dr Catherine Keenan

Chairman of the Australia Day Council of NSW, Angelos Frangopoulos, has announced the 2016 NSW Australian of the Year Award recipients at a ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney this evening.

The NSW Premier Mike Baird praised the 2016 NSW Australian of the Year Award recipients.

“Congratulations to all of the NSW finalists who should be so proud that the contributions they make to our society have been recognised at this level,” Mr Baird said.

“Together they have advocated for equality, supported the disadvantaged, and cared those less fortunate than themselves. Their efforts and leadership have helped so many people and will continue to do so as they inspire others to lead by example.

“I would like to commend each of our four winners and wish them the best of luck as they are considered for the national Awards to be announced on Australia Day eve.”

Elizabeth Broderick has been named 2016 NSW Australian of the Year for her work as a social change innovator.

It takes a special person to bring together captains of industry and Defence Force chiefs to address gender inequality. But that’s exactly what Elizabeth Broderick has done. As Sex Discrimination Commissioner from 2007 to 2015, Elizabeth was single-minded in her determination to break down the structural and social barriers preventing women from reaching their potential. A key advocate for Australia’s national paid parental leave scheme, Elizabeth fought for changes to the ASX Corporate Governance Principles to increase the number of women at decision-making level. She developed the Male Champions of Change strategy, enlisting a ‘who’s who’ of powerful businessmen to tackle sex discrimination in the workplace and her review into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force led to large-scale cultural change. Elizabeth has advised the United Nations and NATO, established mentoring programs for women and is a loud voice in the struggle against gender-based violence. Elizabeth continues to speak out and strive for gender equality.

Professor Gordian Fulde has been awarded 2016 NSW Senior Australian of the Year.

From midnight to dawn, while most people are in bed, 67 year old Professor Gordian Fulde is presiding over one of Australia's busiest emergency departments. The Director of Emergency at St Vincent's Hospital and Sydney Hospital for more than three decades, Gordian is the longest serving emergency department director in Australia. The doctor on call when disaster strikes, Gordian has seen it all and is passionately outspoken about the scourge of ‘ice’ and alcohol- fuelled violence which delivers a flood of people into Australian hospitals each weekend. While you will occasionally see him appear on Kings Cross ER, Gordian is also actively involved in teaching and training students and staff in many facets of emergency medicine. A member of the Board of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, Gordian also supports many schools and community organisations, sharing his stories of working in an urban warzone, and warning of the dangers of a binge drinking culture, which is overwhelmingly the main cause of injury in Australia’s emergency departments.

The 2016 NSW Young Australian of the Year is 29 year old Kanahooka resident Melissa Abu-Gazaleh.

Tired of seeing young men painted as drunk and violent no-hopers, Melissa Abu-Gazaleh established the youth-led Top Blokes Foundation when she was just 19. As Chief Executive Officer of the New South Wales organisation, Melissa is helping Australia combat anti-social and risk-taking behaviours among young men and busting many negative stereotypes along the way. Reaching thousands of 14 to 24 year olds each year, the Top Blokes Foundation fosters young men's social inclusion, resilience and mental health, while empowering them to contribute to their community through volunteering. Melissa’s Junior Top Blokes Mentoring Program, for example, uses social education to challenge boys to address issues like alcohol, drugs, mental health, anger, masculinity and pornography. What started off as a “thing to do in her spare time” now occupies her every waking moment, and Melissa sits on boards, chairs committees and manages a team of 14 people who are passionate about youth leadership and empowering people to be agents of change.

Sydney’s Dr Catherine Keenan has been awarded 2016 NSW Local Hero for her work as a youth educator.

A former journalist, arts writer and literary editor, Catherine Keenan turned her back on her career in 2012 to help nurture the talent and creativity of marginalised young Australians. As the co-founder and executive director of the Sydney Story Factory, Catherine has helped thousands of primary and high school students express themselves through writing and storytelling. Catherine, who has a doctorate in English literature from Oxford University, is focused on helping people from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds, but everyone is welcome to attend the Sydney Story Factory and all classes are free. With energy, enthusiasm and sheer hard work, Catherine has raised funds, established partnerships and trained more than 1,200 volunteers who work with students one-on-one or in small groups to teach them writing skills, cultivate their creativity and help them find their own voice. Catherine’s passion for language, literature and creative writing is building self-esteem and academic achievement, opening pathways to higher education and improving the life choices of many young Australians.

The NSW Award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national Awards to be announced on 25 January 2016 in Canberra.

National Australia Day Council CEO, Jeremy Lasek, said the NSW Award recipients are four inspirational Australians.

"The NSW Award recipients are all extraordinary Australians passionately working to create a better society for now and the future. We are proud of all of them," said Mr Lasek.

For more than 36 years, the Commonwealth Bank has been a proud sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards. Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, congratulated the NSW Award recipients.

“Congratulations to the NSW recipients on being named national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards. We recognisetheir inspirational contribution to our community and wish them well for the national Awards,” said Mr Narev.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards finalists visit the Honour Roll.

Top: UNSW St Vincent's Clinical School Associate Professor Gordian Fulde

 Indigenous PhD graduate blends traditional medicine and modern science

18 November, 2015:  Dan Wheelahan - UNSW

Thanks to knowledge from his elders, La Perouse community’s first indigenous PhD graduate, Dr Shaney Ingrey, is using modern science to shine a spotlight on the medicinal potential of local plants.

The Dharawal people of southern Sydney have known about the medicinal benefits of the local flora for millennia, but thanks to knowledge passed down the generations, the local community’s first indigenous PhD graduate is using modern science to shine a new spotlight on the plants' potential.

Dr Shaney Ingrey has become the fourth Indigenous student to graduate from UNSW with a PhD in 2015, receiving his doctorate in microbiology during a ceremony on the Kensington campus last week.

As he told The Australian newspaper, his study, which put traditional knowledge under the blowtorch of modern microbiology, has found a scientific explanation for some of the plants’ medicinal qualities — and could yield new treatments for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, viral infections or even cancer.

“When I was talking to my grandmother about these plants, she would say which ones to use and which ones not to use. She’d say: ‘Use these plants for your study but keep these other ones to yourself’”.

Dr Ingrey isolated endophytes — bacteria and fungi that live in plant tissue — and screened their DNA for genes that produce antibiotic proteins.

When the tests came back positive, he cultivated the natural products of these organisms and tested them again for antibacterial and antifungal activity.

The project identified five natural substances already known to have antibiotic qualities, as well as a previously unknown polyketide — a compound produced by the same class of enzymes that generates many modern pharmaceuticals and insecticides.

Transforming traditional knowledge into modern drugs is nothing new. Youyou Tu, co-winner of this year’s Nobel prize for medicine, developed malaria therapies from herbal traditions rooted in the discoveries of a 4th-century Chinese alchemist.

But unlike Chinese traditions, Aboriginal medicinal insights were never written down.

“Our knowledge was all passed down by word of mouth,” Dr Ingrey says.

That knowledge was passed down from Dr Ingrey’s great-grandmother who was born in an Aboriginal camp on La Perouse beach in the late 1800s.

“Most of the stuff for the study came from my grandmother. When I was talking to her about these plants, she would say which ones to use and which ones not to use.

“The plants were used for infected wounds, sore throats, upset stomachs, fungal infections. She’d say: ‘Use these plants for your study but keep these other ones to yourself’,” he says.

Dr Ingrey plans to apply for an Australian Research Council grant to continue the research.

In the meantime he teaches biology and maths to indigenous years 11 and 12 students at nearby Matraville Sports High School.

Some of them think they don’t have the talent to make it to uni, which couldn’t be further from the truth. They just need the right support.

Dr Ingrey was nurtured through UNSW’s Nura Gili program, a pathway scheme that embraces indigenous knowledge and culture.

“We are very proud of Dr Ingrey’s achievements, particularly given the nature of his PhD research topic,” says Dr Reuben Bolt, Acting Director and Academic Coordinator at UNSW’s Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Unit.

“The knowledge of traditional medicine passed down from his elders played a significant in shaping the science for the study.

“Dr Ingrey’s research will no doubt help raise awareness about the significance and wisdom of Indigenous knowledge, and the ways in which it can further assist in the development of new science.”

This story was originally published in The Australian.

Top: Dr Shane Ingrey, the forth indigenous student to graduate from UNSW in 2015 with a PhD, a record for the university. Photo: Dan Wheelahan

 International ironman event secured for Western Sydney

17 November 2015

The NSW Government has secured another major sporting event for Western Sydney with the 2017 Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships to be held in Penrith.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres made the announcement at the event location, Penrith’s International Regatta Centre, which is set to attract triathletes from around Australia and the Asia Pacific region to Western Sydney.

“The NSW Government is committed to bringing a diverse range of events to Western Sydney,” Mr Ayres said.

“The Sydney International Regatta Centre hosted the Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney in November last year, which attracted close to 1,300 visitors from interstate and overseas to the region, with a total visitor spend of more than $1.7 million.

“The elevation of this event to be the Asia Pacific Championships in 2017 is expected to attract more international participants and increase the profile of Western Sydney in the Asia Pacific region.”

The Ironman 70.3 is a triathlon race comprising of a 1.9 km swim, 90 km cycle and 21.1 km run covering a total of 113 km – or 70.3 miles

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said Western Sydney is a thriving events destination that offers visitors the opportunity to explore more of what’s on offer in both Sydney and Regional NSW.

“We have a stellar line-up of sporting events in Western Sydney, from the upcoming 2015 Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney, V8 Supercars Sydney 500 and AUS-X Open Supercross to events next year such as the Sydney International Rowing Regatta, Motorworld Sydney, Bledisloe Cup and the NRL Grand Final,” Ms Chipchase said.

 Australia signs new health cooperation agreements with China

17 November 2015

Australia has signed agreements with China this week, refreshing the framework for technical cooperation between the two countries on health issues, including communicable disease control, preventative health, and medicines policy.

The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, has travelled to China to sign the Australia-China Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Plan of Action on Health Cooperation, with her Chinese counterpart, Dr Li Bin.

“Australia and China have a long and very strong relationship in health and there is much we can work closely on and continue to learn from each other,” Minister Ley said.

“The signing of these agreements comes 22 years after the first such agreements were signed in Canberra, providing an updated framework for cooperation. 

“The MoU provides a framework for collaboration on health related policy issues. Cooperation may include exchange of information, joint projects and participation at key meetings.

“The MoU is complemented by a three year Plan of Action. The Plan sets out a number of broad priority areas for cooperation such as health systems innovation and sustainability; communicable disease prevention and response; non-communicable disease prevention and management, including tobacco control; medicines policy, such as medicines procurement; and blood safety.”

Under the Plan of Action, China and Australia have agreed to hold annual ministerial and/or senior official meetings in the margins of key international meetings, such as the World Health Assembly, to discuss health policy issues of mutual interest. Activities may also include further reciprocal visits by officials and the sharing of information about key policy developments as opportunities arise.

“The signing of these new agreements is testimony to the strength and breadth of the bilateral relationship between China and Australia,” Minister Ley said.

While in Beijing, Minister Ley and Dr Li Bin discussed common challenges and opportunities in providing access to health services, particularly for people living in rural and remote areas, health technology assessment policy and tobacco control measures. 

“China and Australia share many common challenges in health and it is through visits such as this that we are able to learn from each other’s experiences and together work to build stronger health systems for our populations,” Minister Ley said. 

"It is pleasing that both Australia and China agree that the growing burden of chronic disease in both our countries requires a more co-ordinated approach that is centered around primary care. 

"This is something Australia remains committed to addressing through our Primary Health Care Advisory Group and I look forward to further cooperation between Australia and China in this area."

Ms Ley said there was also common agreement between the two nations about the need to fund new health technology and treatments efficiently and share knowledge on how best to achieve this, including in the areas of digital and Telehealth, as well as Australia's world-class public medicine subsidy system, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“I also welcomed the opportunity to visit the Peking University Hospital to see the latest advances in acute care in China, and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss communicable disease control. 

“China plays a vital international role in preventing, reporting and responding to communicable disease outbreaks and health emergencies and this visit has reinforced the importance of cooperation in this area.”

 L’etape cycling race secured for Snowy region

18 November 2015

The inaugural L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France cycling race will take place from 1-3 December 2016 and is expected to attract thousands of domestic and international visitors to the NSW Snowy region.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres said the event has been secured for the Snowy Mountains by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of the Snowy Mountains region, and L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France will attract thousands of visitors to the area in a traditionally quiet period,” Mr Ayres said.

“The event will also help promote the region to cyclists and adventure travellers from around the world. There is so much on offer over the Summer months in the Snowy Mountains, with breathtaking hiking tracks, cycling routes and wilderness that will suit all ages and tastes.”

Member for Monaro John Barilaro announced the dates for the event alongside cycling champion and two time wearer of the Tour de France yellow jersey Jens Voigt and legendary SBS commentator Phil Liggett.

“L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France is a massive event for our region and allows cycling enthusiasts to take on the peaks and valleys of the Snowy Mountains. The course has been developed and approved by the Race Director of Le Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, and cyclists will ride under the banner of the world’s most prestigious cycle event,” Mr Barilaro said.

“With 7,000 cyclists expected in 2016, the event will provide a major boost to our local visitor economy, with more than $4 million expected over the next three years. Now the dates have been announced cyclists can plan their trip to the Snowy Mountains, and I encourage them to put aside some time to explore this spectacular region during the Summer.”

More information on L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France, including information on how to register to compete can be found at:

L-R: Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres, SBS commentator Phil Liggett, cycling legend Jens Voigt, Member for Monaro John Barilaro

 Depression in early pregnancy associated with Gestational Diabetes

November 15, 2015

New research by Western Sydney University, has found if a mother receives a higher score for depression during early pregnancy she is more likely to develop Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.

Lead researcher, Professor Hannah Dahlen, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, says this is the first time an association has been found between a high Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score done by midwives in early pregnancy and the subsequent development of diabetes during the pregnancy (known as GDM). 

A possible explanation for this is that depression and anxiety increase levels of cortisol and catecholamine production impacting on the glucose transport and insulin resistance. Also, the resulting reduction in physical activity commonly seen with depression and weight gain may increase the chances of developing diabetes. 

Further to these findings women with higher scores for depression were less likely to breastfeed and were more likely to bleed during pregnancy. 

An association was also found between a higher depression score and other risks such as domestic violence, childhood abuse, thoughts of self-harm and more. 

"During maternity care we are very focused on the pregnant belly and the baby - it's now time more focus is put towards looking at the brain. Supporting women in relationship based models of care such as continuity of midwifery care are the ideal way to do this," says Professor Dahlen. 

"Support and care around mental health should not be considered a 'fancy extra' but an urgent priority which is equally, if not more important, than all the clinical care we provide women. 

"While screening for depression and other psychosocial vulnerabilities has been done routinely with pregnant women in NSW public hospitals for the past five to ten years, nearly one third of the population of women under private obstetric care are still not routinely screened." 

While Australian born women in the study published were shown to be at higher risk for mental health problems compared to those born overseas it is quite possible that differences in cultural understandings around depression may not translate well when they are screened and this needs to be explored further. 

There is no doubt significant lifestyle influences are associated with the development of diabetes, such as obesity and inactivity, however this study suggests mental health may also play a role in increasing this risk as well. 

The research, conducted in collaboration with Blacktown Hospital and St John of God Raphael Centre, was recently published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

 Better implants inspired by the beginnings of life

Published on 15 Nov 2015: CSIRO

We’ve developed an innovative new coating that could be used to improve medical devices and implants, thanks to the goo that is thought to be have been home to the building blocks of life.

The findings from the research were published in the Nature journal, Asia Materials today.

The paper is available HERE 

 Coming to Australia: Rare travel artefacts on display

18 November 2015: University of Sydney

Previously unseen exhibition offers unique window into the past

A unique collection of travel diaries, journals and paintings from colonial journeys to Australia, some dating back almost 200 years, are on display for the first time at the University of Sydney. 

The Circumstances of Interest exhibition features more than 20 items from the University's Rare Books and Special Collections, previously unseen in a public collection.

The materials provide remarkable insight into the daily lives and pastimes of those undertaking the tedious four-month voyage from England to Australia, and add greatly to our understanding of Australia's immigration story.

"The long-haul flights of today pale by comparison to the experience of travelling alongside 300 other people on these voyages to Australia," said exhibition curator Fiona Berry, Digitisation Projects Assistant in the University of Sydney's Rare Books and Special Collections.

"It's interesting to see how people passed the time in such an artificial environment forced into suspension and cut off from the outside world for months at a time. 

"The journals have an element of desperation and boredom, but also amusement; the passengers had to make their own fun, or else they'd go crazy." - Fiona Berry

The diary accounts paint a vivid picture of life onboard, from accounts of sickness, the food served, the landscape and the weather. But the experience greatly varied depending on the class travelled.

First-class passengers would have found the journey quite a social experience, with regular musical entertainment staged by other travellers to while away the days.

For second-class and steerage travelers the experience was "a much wilder world", said Berry.

Porthole to the past: Voyages to Australia

"Passengers in second-class would have shared a cabin with about 100 other people, which in itself is mind-blowing," she said.

"One unidentified traveler writes about daily fistfights, a man setting fire to his bed in the cabin, and people stealing things. There was a heist on the supply room where food was pilfered.

"Another man describes being pulled out of his bed by another passenger who tied a rope to his ankle while he slept."

Original menu cards, presumably kept as souvenirs and bordered with hand-drawn sketches of fellow passengers, also provide a window into the shipboard world.

Other treasures in the collection include a series of watercolours and sketches from the diaries of Evelyn Louise Nicholson, the daughter-in-law of University of Sydney founder Sir Charles Nicholson.

Created while on her honeymoon with husband Charles in 1897, the diary depicts the various coastlines, harbours and port cities the couple encountered on their journey to Australia, including paintings of Cape Verde and Trinidad.

The exhibition also features journals and images from notorious Sydneysider John Dunmore Lang, a Scottish-born Presbyterian minister, journalist and activist, as well as Marie Beuzeville Byles, an early law graduate of the University of Sydney and the first woman to practice law in New South Wales. 

"The materials are really important in showing us exactly what life was really like on these really long voyages,"said Berry.

"These tiny little details go a long way towards piecing together a complete story."

Event Details

What: Circumstances of Interest exhibition

When: Exhibition runs until 31 December 2015

Where: Level 3, Fisher Library, the University of Sydney

Cost: Free

Below: Photographs from the journal of Thomas Parkin on his voyage from England to Australia in 1890-1891 on the clipper ship ‘Sobraon’. Image: Fisher Rare Books & Special Collections.

 One million cubic metres of rock to be blasted and removed at Corindi and Dirty Creek

16 November, 2015  MEDIA RELEASE

Duncan Gay; NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Luke Hartsuyker, Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Federal Member for Cowper; Chris Gulaptis, NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast, NSW Member for Clarence

About one million cubic metres of rock will be blasted and removed from locations including Corindi and Dirty Creek as work progresses on the Woolgoolga to Halfway Creek section of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the upgrade is another step towards completing the duplication of the Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border.

“The Australian Government is providing $5.64 billion as part of its commitment with the New South Wales Government to complete the Pacific Highway upgrade by the end of the decade,” Mr Truss said.

“The 14 kilometre Woolgoolga to Halfway Creek upgrade is expected to be complete in 2017 and will link the Sapphire to Woolgoolga project to the south and the Halfway Creek to Glenugie project to the north.”

New South Wales Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay said once complete, the Pacific Highway upgrade will provide a four-lane divided road from Hexham to the Queensland border.

“The Woolgoolga to Halfway Creek section of highway is part of the larger 155 kilometre Woolgoolga to Ballina project, which is expected to provide about 2,500 direct jobs and 7,500 indirect jobs for the community when work is at peak,” Mr Gay said.

“More than 60 per cent of the Pacific Highway duplication is complete, with a further 19 per cent being built and the remaining sections being prepared for major work.”

Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said in order to upgrade the 14 kilometre section of road a large volume of hard rock would need to be removed.

“The equivalent of 400 Olympic size swimming pools of hard rock will need to be removed from the road alignment at Corindi and Dirty Creek,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“During the next three months significant progress will be made on the Woolgoolga to Halfway Creek upgrade, starting this month with explosives experts carrying out controlled blasting at Corindi and Dirty Creek.”

Member for Clarence and New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Chris Gulaptis said the rock removed from the blasting will be crushed and reused elsewhere on the project.

“With major earthwork already under way, blasting is required to remove the remaining rock deposits which would take too long to break up using traditional methods such as rock hammers and bulldozers,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“For obvious safety reasons residents and motorists will be advised before each blast takes place.”

The Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments on an 80:20 basis.

For more information visit

 Quantum computer coding in silicon now possible

November 16, 2015: UNSW

False-colour electron microscope image of the silicon nanoelectronic device which contains the phosphorus atom used for the demonstration of quantum entanglement. Credit: University of New South Wales

A team of Australian engineers has proven -- with the highest score ever obtained -- that a quantum version of computer code can be written, and manipulated, using two quantum bits in a silicon microchip. The advance removes lingering doubts that such operations can be made reliably enough to allow powerful quantum computers to become a reality.

The result, obtained by a team at Australia's University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, appears in the international journal, Nature Nanotechnology.

The quantum code written at UNSW is built upon a class of phenomena called quantum entanglement, which allows for seemingly counterintuitive phenomena such as the measurement of one particle instantly affecting another -- even if they are at opposite ends of the universe.

"This effect is famous for puzzling some of the deepest thinkers in the field, including Albert Einstein, who called it 'spooky action at a distance'," said Professor Andrea Morello, of the School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications at UNSW and Program Manager in the Centre for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology, who led the research. "Einstein was sceptical about entanglement, because it appears to contradict the principles of 'locality', which means that objects cannot be instantly influenced from a distance."

Physicists have since struggled to establish a clear boundary between our everyday world -- which is governed by classical physics -- and this strangeness of the quantum world. For the past 50 years, the best guide to that boundary has been a theorem called Bell's Inequality, which states that no local description of the world can reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics.

Bell's Inequality demands a very stringent test to verify if two particles are actually entangled, known as the 'Bell test', named for the British physicist who devised the theorem in 1964.

"The key aspect of the Bell test is that it is extremely unforgiving: any imperfection in the preparation, manipulation and read-out protocol will cause the particles to fail the test," said Dr Juan Pablo Dehollain, a UNSW Research Associate who with Dr Stephanie Simmons was a lead author of the Nature Nanotechnology paper.

"Nevertheless, we have succeeded in passing the test, and we have done so with the highest 'score' ever recorded in an experiment," he added.

In the UNSW experiment, the two quantum particles involved are an electron and the nucleus of a single phosphorus atom, placed inside a silicon microchip. These particles are, literally, on top of each other -- the electron orbits around the nucleus. Therefore, there is no complication arising from the spookiness of action at a distance.

However, the significance of the UNSW experiment is that creating these two-particle entangled states is tantamount to writing a type of computer code that does not exist in everyday computers. It therefore demonstrates the ability to write a purely quantum version of computer code, using two quantum bits in a silicon microchip -- a key plank in the quest super-powerful quantum computers of the future.

"Passing the Bell test with such a high score is the strongest possible proof that we have the operation of a quantum computer entirely under control," said Morello. "In particular, we can access the purely-quantum type of code that requires the use of the delicate quantum entanglement between two particles."

In a normal computer, using two bits one, could write four possible code words: 00, 01, 10 and 11. In a quantum computer, instead, one can also write and use 'superpositions' of the classical code words, such as (01 + 10), or (00 + 11). This requires the creation of quantum entanglement between two particles.

"These codes are perfectly legitimate in a quantum computer, but don't exist in a classical one," said UNSW Research Fellow Stephanie Simmons, the paper's co-author. "This is, in some sense, the reason why quantum computers can be so much more powerful: with the same number of bits, they allow us to write a computer code that contains many more words, and we can use those extra words to run a different algorithm that reaches the result in a smaller number of steps."

Morello highlighted the importance of achieving the breakthrough using a silicon chip: "What I find mesmerising about this experiment is that this seemingly innocuous 'quantum computer code' -- (01 + 10) and (00 + 11) -- has puzzled, confused and infuriated generations of physicists over the past 80 years.

"Now, we have shown beyond any doubt that we can write this code inside a device that resembles the silicon microchips you have on your laptop or your mobile phone. It's a real triumph of electrical engineering," he added.

Juan P. Dehollain, Stephanie Simmons, Juha T. Muhonen, Rachpon Kalra, Arne Laucht, Fay Hudson, Kohei M. Itoh, David N. Jamieson, Jeffrey C. McCallum, Andrew S. Dzurak, Andrea Morello. Bell's inequality violation with spins in silicon. Nature Nanotechnology, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2015.262

Below: Project leader Andrea Morello (left) and lead authors Stephanie Simmons and Juan Pablo Dehollain in the UNSW laboratory where the experiments were performed. 

 More proof of Einstein's general theory of relativity

November 17, 2015

Chandra image of the black hole at the center of spiral galaxy M81.

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley & CfA/A.Zezas; Optical: NASA/ESA/CfA/A.Zezas; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J.Huchra et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA

A Florida State University high-performance computing researcher has predicted a physical effect that would help physicists and astronomers provide fresh evidence of the correctness of Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Bin Chen, who works at the university's Research Computing Center, describes the yet-to-be-observed effect in the paper "Probing the Gravitational Faraday Rotation Using Quasar X-ray Microlensing," published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

"To be able to test general relativity is of crucial importance to physicists and astronomers," Chen said.

This testing is especially so in regions close to a black hole, according to Chen, because the current evidence for Einstein's general relativity -- light bending by the sun, for example -- mainly comes from regions where the gravitational field is very weak, or regions far away from a black hole.

Electromagnetism demonstrates that light is composed of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. Linearly polarized light is an electromagnetic wave whose electric and magnetic fields oscillate along fixed directions when the light travels through space.

The gravitational Faraday effect, first predicted in the 1950s, theorizes that when linearly polarized light travels close to a spinning black hole, the orientation of its polarization rotates according to Einstein's theory of general relativity. Currently, there is no practical way to detect gravitational Faraday rotation.

In the paper, Chen predicts a new effect that can be used to detect the gravitational Faraday effect. His proposed observation requires monitoring the X-ray emissions from gravitationally lensed quasars.

"This means that light from a cosmologically distant quasar will be deflected, or gravitationally lensed, by the intervening galaxy along the line of sight before arriving at an observer on the Earth," said Chen of the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, which was predicted by Einstein in 1936. More than 100 gravitational lenses have been discovered so far.

"Astronomers have recently found strong evidence showing that quasar X-ray emissions originate from regions very close to supermassive black holes, which are believed to reside at the center of many galaxies," Chen said. "Gravitational Faraday rotation should leave its fingerprints on such compact regions close to a black hole.

"Specifically, the observed X-ray polarization of a gravitationally microlensed quasar should vary rapidly with time if the gravitational Faraday effect indeed exists," he said. "Therefore, monitoring the X-ray polarization of a gravitationally lensed quasar over time could verify the time dependence and the existence of the gravitational Faraday effect."

If detected, Chen's effect -- a derivative of the gravitational Faraday effect -- would provide strong evidence of the correctness of Einstein's general relativity theory in the "strong-field regime," or an environment in close proximity to a black hole.

Chen generated a simulation for the paper on the FSU Research Computing Center's High-Performance Computing cluster -- the second-largest computer cluster in Florida.

Bin Chen. Probing the gravitational Faraday rotation using quasar X-ray microlensing. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 16860 DOI:10.1038/srep16860

 Giving families more support: Social Services Legislation Amendment

12 November 2015

Over 33,000 Australian families will be better off after more generous youth payment means testing measures passed Parliament today.

Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Christian Porter MP said the changes will make youth payments fairer and simpler.

“This is a win for families who are supporting children who are studying or training,” Mr Porter said.

From January 1 2016, the Family Assets Test and the Family Actual Means Test will be removed from the Youth Allowance Personal Test.

“Removing the assets test will allow thousands more people to qualify for an average annual youth payment of more than $7,000 a year,” Mr Porter said.

“Thousand more students will benefit from the removal of the means test – they will either receive Youth Allowance for the first time or, if they’re already receiving it, receive $2,000 more each year

“Regional and rural families often face higher costs when their children are studying or training because they have to move away from home. These changes mean those families will no longer have their farm assets counted toward the means test.

“From July 2016, the parental income test will also include all children under 16 in the family.

“As a result, 13,700 families with dependent children will receive an increase of about $1,118 per year, and about 5,800 families will for the first time become eligible for a payment of about $1,300 per year.

“Child support payments will also be removed from the parental income test, meaning 3,800 families will enjoy an extra $900 a year.

“These changes are great news for families and students. We want to encourage them to study and train toward the career of their choice so they can contribute to our economy.”

The changes under the Social Services Legislation Amendment (More Generous Means Testing for Youth Payments) Bill 2015 will apply to certain families with dependent children receiving youth payments including Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, and Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme.

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.