Inbox and Environment News: Issue 262

 May 8 - 14 2016: Issue 262

New Era In Land Management and Conservation

Tuesday, 3 May 2016: NSW OEH Media Release

The NSW Government has released its consultation package to overhaul ineffective, complicated environmental laws and create a new system that improves both environmental outcomes and farmers’ productivity.

Under the new system, routine farm work would be exempt from regulation, farmers would be able to plan for the future to improve their productivity, and the government would provide farmers with incentives to conserve native plants and trees on their land.

The reforms would also protect and enhance the environment with an historic investment of $240 million over five years in private land conservation, $70 million in each following year and $100 million dedicated over five years to the “Saving Our Species” program.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant said the NSW Government was delivering on its commitment to repeal the Native Vegetation Act and create laws that both protect the environment and give farmers a fair go.

“For too long the burden of these laws has rested on the shoulders of farmers – and I am

proud we are one step closer to repealing this legislation and delivering on the independent panel’s recommendations to reform land management in this state,” Mr Grant said.

Environment Minister Mark Speakman said the new laws would take a strategic approach to conservation and would complement the Commonwealth’s biodiversity protections.

“We are delivering a simple and effective way to use and protect land that is backed by record government investment to build a network of conserved lands on private property.

“We have tough measures to protect endangered ecological communities supported by Commonwealth protections that will conserve our biodiversity for future generations.”

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the reforms would give farmers an opportunity to make informed choices on what works best for their land.

“Our farmers are our frontline environmental custodians and it makes sense to give them the flexibility to manage and protect the land that is the lifeblood of our regional communities.”

The reform package will:

• Ensure land clearing is assessed under a single set of rules, simplifying the task of farmers in managing their land

• Conserve biodiversity at a bioregional level

• Give landholders incentives to conserve biodiversity on private land

• Reverse the historical decline of biodiversity in NSW

Drafts of the new Biodiversity Conservation Act and amended Local Land Services Act are on public exhibition and open for submissions for the next eight weeks. Details:

Have Your Say: 

Members of the public are invited to submit their feedback on the proposed biodiversity conservation reform package.

• Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill (PDF, 755KB) 

• Draft Local Land Services Amendment Bill (PDF, 394KB) 

The submission guides provide detailed information for members of the public to provide constructive feedback. The guides contain specific consultation questions that can help to inform the development of the reforms.

• Simplifying Land Management submission guide

• Native Vegetation Regulatory Map submission guide

• Ecologically Sustainable Development submission guide

• Protecting Native Plants and Animals submission guide

• Private Land Conservation submission guide

Written submissions can be submitted online using the form on this page or posted to:

Biodiversity Reforms - Have Your Say, Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290, Sydney South. NSW 1232

The public consultation period ends on 28 June 2016 at 5pm.


A serious backwards step for biodiversity laws

By EDO NSW Policy and Law Reform Director Rachel Walmsley: 3 May 2016

The NSW Government’s proposed biodiversity legislative and policy package removes many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections, and represents a serious backward step for environmental law and policy in New South Wales.

As part of its biodiversity legislation reform process, the NSW Government has today publicly exhibited a new Biodiversity Conservation Bill, a Local Land Services Amendment Bill, and information about proposed land clearing codes. This new legislative package is designed to replace the Native Vegetation Act, Threatened Species Conservation Act, the Nature Conservation Trust Act and parts of the National Parks & Wildlife Act.

The proposed law and policy is a serious retrograde step, as it involves removing many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections. Our key areas of concern include greatly increased land clearing under self-assessable codes, no requirement to maintain or improve biodiversity, water quality, soil and salinity, an increased reliance on flexible (and indirect) offsets, wide discretion of consent authorities to apply the results of the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM), reduced public transparency, and unclear responsibility for who will actually do any compliance and enforcement.

The resourcing and expertise of Local Land Services to administer native vegetation regulation is also in question. Not only are legal protections significantly weakened, but any potential biodiversity gains are dependent on funding decisions and not guaranteed in legislation.

The package will be on public exhibition for the next eight weeks, and submissions close on Tuesday 28 June 2016. During this time community members are able to make submissions. We will be publishing a preliminary analysis of the draft Bill shortly. We’ll also be running workshops and seminars across NSW in June and providing resources to help communities have their say. If you’re interested in making a submission and getting involved, please sign up to ourweekly eBulletin.

Our resources and updates will feature on our web page dedicated to the reforms.

Have your say on modifications to the Hera Gold Project

29.04.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

A modification request by Hera Resources to extend its existing underground mine, located four kilometres south of Nymagee, is on exhibition for community feedback.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal which seeks to:

• extend the existing underground mine and northern project boundary in order to access an additional 62,000 tonnes of gold, zinc and lead

• construct a new vent to take in fresh air and a new entrance into the mine on the northern side.

There are no proposed changes to the rate of processing, life of the mine, waste disposal, transport of product or existing infrastructure above ground. 

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,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration when we develop our recommendations.

“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 Assessment,

Submissions can be made until Wednesday, 11 May 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:

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

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

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

• Cobar Shire Council, 36 Linsley Street, Cobar

• Bogan Shire Council, 81 Cobar Street, Nyngan

• Hera Mine Camp, Camp Reception, Berthong Road, Nymagee

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

Bengalla Coal Mine - Bengalla Continuation Project Modification 2

Modification to SSD-5170 to facilitate the following activities: 

Alterations to the approved height of the Main Overburden Emplacement Area to improve visual amenity from primary viewing locations in and surrounding the township of Muswellbrook and Denman Road, in two selected locations (Visual Relief Areas): 

- The Northern Relief Area constructed to a maximum height of Reduced Level 300; and 

- The Southern Relief Area constructed to a maximum height of Reduced Level 290. 

Establishment of a new gravel access road from Wybong Road to the Dry Creek Diversion Project Construction Site Office being a former homestead (Homestead Access). 

Key dates and other information

Job Status EIS Exhibition

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

Assessment Type SSD Mod

Project Type Mining, Petroleum & Extraction > Mining > Coal > Hunter

Exhibition Start 29/04/2016

Exhibition End 13/05/2016


Wambo Mine - Modification 12 - Southern Longwall Modifications

A modification request by Wambo Coal to make modifications to the southern longwall panels at the South Wambo Underground Mine, approximately 15 kilometres west of 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 proposal which seeks to:

• realign, extend and/or relocate the approved South Wambo Underground Mine longwall panels

• mine in the Woodlands Hill Seam instead of the Bowfield Seam

• extend the approved duration of underground mining by seven years until 2032 and open-cut mining by three years until 2020

• increase the coal production rate from 7.5 to 9.75 million tonnes per year.

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,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration when we develop our recommendations.

“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 application visit

Submissions can be made until Friday, 13 May 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:

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

The application 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, 5 Wilson Street, Newtown 

Project is currently on public exhibition and opportunity for public submissions is available until 13/5/2016 Exhibition start date: 22/4/2016

Page: - Visit:

Jellyfish: April 24, 2016

Published on 25 Apr 2016

This stunningly beautiful jellyfish was seen during Dive 4 of the 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition on April 24, 2016, while exploring Enigma Seamount at a depth of 3,700 meters. 

Scientists identified this hydromedusa as belonging to the genus Crossota. Note the two sets of tentacles — short and long. At the beginning of the video, you'll see that the long tentacles are even and extended outward and the bell is motionless. This suggests an ambush predation mode. Within the bell, the radial canals in red are connecting points for what looks like the gonads in bright yellow.

Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.

Learn more about the expedition

More Than 200,000 New Trees for NSW National Parks

Thursday, May 5 2016: NSW OEH Media Release

NSW national parks will gain more than 200,000 trees when NSW becomes the first state to take part in the Federal Government’s carbon credit scheme, Environment Minister Mark Speakman announced today.

The NSW Government’s successful bid in the third auction of the Commonwealth Emissions Reduction Fund will see major rehabilitation works undertaken in five national parks with the plantings covering 520 hectares over five years.

“We are very proud to be the first state government to successfully bid for and participate in this innovative program,” Mr Speakman said.

“As the trees grow they remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, locking them away, while simultaneously improving the environmental values of the national park estate.

“Conventional environmental rehabilitation projects can be very costly so taking the opportunity to generate revenue from carbon credits is a fresh approach to environmental rehabilitation.”

The national parks involved are Gwydir Wetland State Conservation Area, Brindabella National Park, Kosciuszko National Park, Willi Willi National Park and Tinderry Nature Reserve.

The plantings will cover 520 hectares and will sequester almost 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over ten years.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said he was pleased the NSW State Government had secured the funding.

“The third auction for the Emissions Reduction Fund was extremely competitive with a large number of projects submitting bids across a number of sectors and I have no doubt other states will be watching the outcomes of this pilot project closely for its potential to deliver triple bottom line benefits for their state,” Mr Hunt said.

The Office of Environment and Heritage is partnering with CO2 Australia Limited to undertake the pilot project. On-ground work is expected to commence later this year when endemic seed collection and propagation of seedlings gets underway. 

Details: About-the-Emissions-Reduction-Fund

2016 Eco School Grants Program open for applications

Media release: 26 April 2016 - NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Eighty grants of $3,500 each are available to support a range of environmental projects and learning opportunities for students, teachers and school communities under the NSW Environmental Trust's Eco Schools Grants Program.

Terry Bailey, Chief Executive, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Trust Secretary said the grants will help provide curriculum-based environmental education, awareness and knowledge to children.

"This Government investment aims to develop students' passion and commitment to protecting the environment," Mr Bailey said.

"The program recognises the important work of the community, no matter how old or young, in environmental conservation projects and I encourage educators and school communities to apply for one of the eighty grants.

"Twenty-five of the grants will be awarded to projects that work primarily with students with special needs.

"Seventy-eight schools were awarded Eco School grants last year and their projects help enhance the environment of NSW. Pennant Hills Public School used their grant funds to plant more small shrubs for their Small Bird Haven project.

"The additional shrubs provide much needed sanctuary for small birds to nest, feed and take shelter from predators. The project also taught students about environmental monitoring," Mr Bailey said.

All NSW primary and high schools, registered with the Sustainable Schools NSW program, can apply for funding, however please see the Program Guidelines for specific eligibility requirements.

Grant applications can be submitted until Friday 17 June, 2016.

Visit the Environmental Trust's website for further

Koala conservation in south eastern NSW (longer version)

Published on 4 May 2016 by OEH Media

Although once abundant, koalas are now rarely seen in the south eastern corner of NSW. Since 2007 a team of Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff led by South East Regional Operations has worked with community-based contractors and volunteers to survey koala populations in this part of the state and support the conservation of the surviving koalas.

New plans set threatened species on road to recovery

Media release: 6 May 2016 - The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

The Turnbull Government has released new plans to help save four birds and mammals prioritised for action under the nation’s first Threatened Species Strategy, marking another milestone in the fight for their survival.

These recovery plans show us how to best target efforts to conserve the Regent honeyeater, Orange-bellied Parrot, Mallee Emu-wren and Mountain Pygmy Possum. The plan identifies what needs to be done to ensure their long-term survival in the wild.

Last year, our Threatened Species Strategy set the ambitious target of improving the trajectory of 20 birds and 20 mammals by 2020.

These four species – all endangered or critically endangered – are on that priority list.

Regent Honeyeater

Recently ‘uplisted’ to critically endangered, the Regent Honeyeater occurs across south-eastern Australia, feeding in nectar-rich eucalypt forests and woodlands. This striking bird, with its brilliant flashes of yellow, was once seen in flocks of hundreds.

But its population is in decline, with an estimated 350 to 400 of the birds remaining. This updated recovery plan prioritises action to protect its existing habitat, replant where needed, bolster the wild population with captive-bred birds, and raise public awareness of the recovery programme.

Two Green Army teams and 18 National Landcare Programmes are contributing to habitat restoration for the Regent Honeyeater.

Orange-bellied Parrot

Only about 50 of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot survive in the wild, with about 320 in captive breeding programmes. This rare migratory parrot, which summers in Tasmania and winters on the Victorian and South Australian coast, is threatened by habitat loss and degradation.

Past recovery efforts have kept it from extinction, and the latest plan focuses on maintaining its captive insurance population, improving its habitat in Victoria and South Australia and, in Tasmania, managing predators, conducting ecological burns, and managing breeding in the wild, including maintaining nest boxes and providing supplementary feeding for the bird.

The Australian Government has committed $525,000 to help the Tasmanian Government’s captive breeding and recovery programme, disease management and habitat restoration for the orange-bellied parrot.

Mallee Emu-wren

The biggest threats to the tiny, endangered Mallee Emu-wren are large and frequent fires.

The emu-wren’s numbers and range across north-western Victoria and eastern South Australia dwindled with past clearing of mallee woodlands, and it is now at risk of a catastrophic fire as well as ongoing grazing pressure.

This recovery plan, a first for the species, seeks to manage those risks. Plans to translocate the species and set up a captive insurance population are now backed with $100,000 in Australian Government funding.

Mountain Pygmy Possum

This diminutive, endangered mammal, found only in the Australian Alps, has suffered habitat loss and degradation, compounded by climate change and predation by feral cats and foxes.

The Mountain Pygmy Possum’s new recovery plan highlights the need to reduce current pressures on the species so it can better adapt to a warming climate. That means controlling predators, creating and restoring habitat, protecting it from fire, and expanding its insurance population.

The Australian Government is supporting the plan with $140,000 towards ‘detector dogs’ in Kosciuszko National Park that protect the Mountain Pygmy Possum from feral cats.

We are on track to ensure that all our priority species have up-to-date recovery plans or conservation advices in place or near completion, in line with our first-year target under the Threatened Species Strategy.

In addition, three other nationally-threatened species will also benefit from new recovery plans.

The vulnerable Red-lored Whistler and Western Whipbird come under the same plan as the Mallee Emu-wren, since they share habitat, face common threats and require similar interventions.

The Spotted-Tailed Quoll, a distinctive marsupial carnivore that occurs from north-eastern Queensland to Tasmania, also has a new plan for the first time.

These recovery plans should be celebrated for all they can and do achieve for threatened species. They provide the roadmaps needed to show the way back, at critical junctures for our native plants and animals.

They bring together scientists, governments and community groups, not only to share their expertise on our flora and fauna, but to coordinate efforts to save them.

They build momentum, direct passion and resources and, ultimately, save species.

Save the bilby – Keep the Kimberley frack-free

Published on 3 May 2016: By Wilderness Australia

The Kimberley is one of Australia’s last refuges for endangered bilbies...

… it also has the largest underground store of fossil fuels in the southern hemisphere. 


50% off Cape Byron Lighthouse Cottages!

NPWS: May 5, 2016

Book 3 nights or more in one of the stunning Cape Byron Lighthouse Cottages before 31 May to receive 50% off during stays between 2 May and 30 November 2016.

50% off when you book in May

Ever dreamed of living in a lighthouse? Now you can get a taste of it with a holiday at one of the state’s most popular whale watching hotspots – the award-winning Assistant Lighthouse Keeper's Cottages in Cape Byron State Conservation Area.

Offer details

Early bird offer: 50% off when you book in May

Promotion period: Valid for stays between 2 May to 30 November 2016

Minimum stay: 3 nights

Price: With prices starting from $180 per night (normally from $360 weekdays and $500 on weekends), your 3 night getaway can cost as little as $540.

Accommodation details

Where: Assistant Lighthouse Keeper's Cottages in Cape Byron State Conservation Area

Accommodation: 2 cottages available

Bedrooms: 3 per cottage

Maximum guests: 6 per cottage

Bedding configuration: 1 x queen; 1 x queen; 2 x singles (cot hire available).

This rare offer is available this whale watching season and is a great opportunity to enjoy a unique coastal getaway with family or friends. Wake up to panoramic views of golden beaches, dramatic coastline and take a guided tour of the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse.

The Assistant Lighthouse Keeper's Cottages have been lovingly restored to retain their heritage charm, with the addition of modern conveniences to ensure you holiday in style. After a day of whale watching, swimming and walking, cook up a feast and toast the lighthouse keepers of days gone by.

Available to hire 7 days a week!



© Crown copyright 2008. Author - Dr Brett J Stubbs 

Available in PDF - HERE

Assistant Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage, Cape Byron State Conservation Area

Published on 23 May 2012: By NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

The heritage listed Assistant Lighthouse Keepers' Cottages at Byron Bay feature stunning coastal views. They're a great choice for a weekend getaway or longer holiday.

 Cafe Byron lighthouse was formally opened on Sunday(November 1st, 1901) last by the Premier, in the presence of officers from the Harbors and Rivers Department, Captain Edie, of the Marine Board, several M.P.s, including the member for the district, Mr. Meagher,  ex-members Messrs. Hogan and Crouch, and a large number of residents. The Parliamentary party were expected to arrive here on Saturday at 4 p.m., but through encountering a heavy north-east gale they did not reach here until 11 p.m., and landed at 9 a.m. on Sunday. 

A representative number of residents were present to receive them. First of all they were driven to the North Coast Cooperative Factory, and afterwards to the lighthouse, where the ceremony of opening took place by breaking a bottle of champagne and making a few speeches. The Premier afterwards received a deputation from the Mullumbimby residents on the Queensland tick question. The Premier promised a closed border line if dipping was found not to make stock immune from the pest. A few local matters were discussed, but not with any definite promised redress. The party left by : the yacht Victoria at- about 1.30 p.m. the :;r ? same day, there still being a heavy sea running. Had the Premier and party — which consisted of about 10 members, half of whom remained on board through sickness during . the voyage — landed here at 4 p.m. on Saturday, it was the intention of the residents to give them a banquet, but the result was that they had to consume the banquet .themselves, 'with a blank toast list, the exigence putting the committee in a position they did not seem to effectually grasp very conveniently. BYRON BAY. (1901, December 6). The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1886 - 1942), , p. 5. Retrieved from


On one of the four corners of Australia now stands a stately and handsome light-Louse, from which a powerful light flashes over the sea to warn the mariner, and also to tell him that he Is rounding the most eastern point of "the continent. Picturesquely there Is not a finer lighthouse In the State (records the "Sydney Daily Telegraph"). It Is quite an architectural ornament. The light, erected on a concrete tower, consists of a first order lantern, 12 feet In diameter, and of first order revolving bivalve, double flashing (pen Eclair) optical apparatus, manufactured by the Societe Des Establissment, Henry Lepante, Paris. The Intensity of the flash Is 145,000 standard English candles, and the apparatus rotates In a nlercury bath at the rate of one complete revolution In ten seconds, there being altogether six flashes per minute. In addition to the main light there Is a small fixed dioptric lamp in the tower on the floor, below the lantern room, to throw a subsidiary light over Juan and Julia rocks. The tower is 41) feet high from the ground to the floor of the lantern, and from ground to focal plane 61 feet. It is built of concrete blocks, rendered with cement, inside and out, and is divided Into three stories by concrete floors, paved with black and white tiles. The foundations of the tower are down In concrete to a depth of 8 feet below the ground, the space therein being utilised as a rain water tank of 3000 gallons capacity. 

Outside of the lantern there Is an open gallery 4 feet wide, with a trachyte floor, paved with Vol de Travers asphalt, and a trachyte parapet wail. A flagstaff is provided for signalling purposes, and a flaghouse has been built of concrete. The flagstaff is 00 feet high. Telephonic connection Is made with the telegraph ofllce at Byron Bay. 

Admirable quarters are provided for a principal lightkeeper and two assistants. The first work, of preparing the site, by levelling, &c., was commenced in October, 1899, and this part of the work was carried out by day labor at a cost of £2600. The main light is 371 feet above high water, and It Is visible at a distance of about 22 miles in clear weather. Cape Byron Is 345 miles from Sydney, and about 30 miles from the northern boundary of the State. A feature of the lighthouse Is the fact that the concrete used in Its formation was made from rocks at the bottom of- the precipice - which- It overlooks.THE BYRON BAY LIGHTHOUSE. (1901, December 21). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918), , p. 33. Retrieved from


1. View from Byron Bay-road.

2. The Light House.

3. Keeper's Buildings from Light House.

4. Ministerial Party. (Zutioni Studio, Lismore.) THE BYRON BAY LIGHTHOUSE. (1901, December 21). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918), , p. 36. Retrieved from

Listening Stations Sound out Sharks

Published on 4 May 2016: by DPI Fisheries

Satellite linked (VR4G) listening stations along the NSW coast detect tagged sharks and other marine animals. When a tagged shark swims within 500m of these receivers, captured information goes straight to a satellite and is then sent to the public and beach authorities. Installing 20 listening stations along the NSW coast is a part of the NSW Shark Management Strategy. 

To receive live tweets from tagged sharks, follow @NSWSharkSmart on Twitter or download the SharkSmart app.

New Land for Heathcote National Park 

Friday, 29 April, 2016: OEH Media Release

Heathcote National Park gained an additional 6.9ha of land worth $2.6 million today, NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman announced.

The land comprised seven blocks purchased from private owners and government agencies by the Department of Planning & Environment’s Office of Strategic Lands.

“This addition to Heathcote creates more public space for the community to enjoy and will  help to protect our native wildlife,” Mr Speakman said.

“Heathcote National Park has been a place of recreation for generations, and I’m pleased to see it growing so future generations can also enjoy it.”

Mr Speakman said the NSW Government was committed to improving and protecting the state’s national parks, which now covered more than seven million hectares across NSW.

The additional land would simplify the national park’s eastern boundary, Mr Speakman said.

It would also assist with weed control, simplify fire management and help with management of illegal rubbish dumping and unregulated vehicle use within the park.

Member for Heathcote Lee Evans said the additional land was a win for the community.

“Heathcote National Park is a well-used public space and a vital sanctuary for native flora and fauna,” Mr Evans said.

NSW Department of Planning and Environment acquired the land to protect bushland and boost open space.

The transfer of land was gazetted today


Pittwater Council is seeking volunteers interested in joining our cemetery gardening group, meeting the first and third Tuesday of every month, from 8:30 - 11:30am (weather permitting). It often gets more difficult for relatives who may have previously tended a grave to visit. Our volunteers carry out gentle weeding on these graves in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Please register your interest and availability by contacting Cemetery Administration on 9970 1341 or email


Well….. we love it in the right places and the best place is a pet poo compost bin. The Waste Education Team is seeking Pittwater puppy owners who would like to participate in a trial of pet poo composters in their very own back yard. You can convert your pets waste into rich organic fertiliser and reduce landfill, single use plastic bags and greenhouse gases. 

This project is a NSW Environment Protection Authority Waste Less Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy. We have six Pet Poo Composters to be trialled. If you would like to participate contact Tanya Leishman, Education Officer for more information or phone 9970 1226

How much does groundwater contribute to sea level rise?

May 2, 2016

Groundwater extraction and other land water contribute about three times less to sea level rise than previous estimates, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study does not change the overall picture of future sea level rise, but provides a much more accurate understanding of the interactions between water on land, in the atmosphere, and the oceans, which could help to improve future models of sea level rise.

"Projecting accurate sea level rise is important, because rising sea level is a threat to people who live near the ocean and in small islands," explains IIASA researcher Yoshihide Wada, who led the study. "Some low-lying areas will have more frequent flooding, and very low-lying land could be submerged completely. This could also damage substantially coastal infrastructure."

Sea level has risen 1.7 mm per year over the 20th and the early 21st century, a trend that is expected to continue as climate change further warms the planet. Researchers have attributed the rising seas to a combination of factors including melting ice caps and glaciers, thermal expansion (water expands as it gets warmer), and the extraction of groundwater for human use.

Land water contributions are small in comparison to the contribution of ice melt and thermal expansion, yet they have been increasing, leading to concerns that this could exacerbate the problem of sea level rise caused by climate change.

However, much uncertainty remains about how much different sources contribute to sea level rise. In fact, sea level has actually risen more than researchers could account for from the known sources, leading to a gap between observed and modeled global sea-level budget.

Previous studies, including estimates used in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, had assumed that nearly 100% of extracted groundwater ended up in the ocean. The new study improves on previous estimates by accounting for feedbacks between the land, ocean, and atmosphere. It finds that number is closer to 80%. That means that the gap between modeled and observed sea level rise is even wider, suggesting that other processes are contributing more water than previously estimated.

"During the 20th century and early 21st century, cumulative groundwater contribution to global sea level was overestimated by at least 10 mm," says Wada. In fact, the new study shows that from 1971 to 2010, the contribution of land water to global sea level rise was actually slightly negative -- meaning that more water was stored in groundwater and also due to reservoir impoundment behind dams. From 1993 to 2010, the study estimates terrestrial water as contributing positive 0.12 mm per year to sea level rise.

The study does not change the fact that future groundwater contribution to sea level will increase as groundwater extraction increases. And the increasing trend in groundwater depletion has impacts beyond sea level rise. Wada explains, "The water stored in the ground can be compared to money in the bank. If you withdraw money at a faster rate than you deposit it, you will eventually start having account-supply problems. If we use groundwater unsustainably, in the future there might not be enough groundwater to use for food production. Groundwater depletion can also cause severe environmental problems like reduction of water in streams and lakes, deterioration of water quality, increased pumping costs, and land subsidence."

Yoshihide Wada, Min-Hui Lo, Pat J.-F. Yeh, John T. Reager, James S. Famiglietti, Ren-Jie Wu, Yu-Heng Tseng. Fate of water pumped from underground and contributions to sea-level rise. Nature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE3001

BirdLife Australia's Indigenous Grant for Bird Research and Conservation 

BirdLife Australia: April 14, 2016  

Indigenous knowledge of native Australian birds, their life cycle, and habitat is profound and has made a substantial contribution to the scientific study of birds in this country. 

BirdLife Australia's Indigenous Grant for Bird Research and Conservation wishes to acknowledge this contribution and facilitate further engagement of Indigenous Australians in research and conservation of our native birds.

The 2016 grant is focused on migratory birds and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. The grant is funded from the proceeds of print sales from The Flyway Print Exchange.

Check out our website to find out more:

Applications close 31 May.

Curious new Australian bush species growing 'bleeding' fruits named by a US class of 150 7th graders

May 3, 2016

This is a flowering individual of the new bush species Solanum ossicruentum in its natural habitat. Credit: Dr Christopher T. Martine; CC-BY 4.0

A class of 150 US 7th graders has helped select a name for a newly discovered plant, which amazes with its fruits that appear to be bleeding once they are cut open. Bucknell University biology professor Chris Martine and life science teacher Bradley Catherman challenged the students to come up with ideas for what to call the new Australian species last spring.

Looking for a way to engage local youngsters in biodiversity science, Martine scheduled a presentation to the collective 7th grade life science classes at Donald H. Eichhorn Middle School. As the day of his assembly approached, he started to think that the best way to generate interest might be to somehow allow the students to participate in the actual research he was doing in his lab at the time. Only, he knew there were few things he could do with 150 13- and 14-year olds sitting in a gymnasium.

"I emailed Mr. Catherman and I said, 'How about we ask them to name a new species for me?' explained Martine. "And then I showed up with live plants, preserved specimens, and my notes from the Outback -- and we said, 'Go ahead, tell us what to call this thing.'"

Nearly a year later, Martine and his co-authors, including two undergraduate students, have published the new species in the open access journalPhytoKeys. The news is coming just in time for the National Teacher Appreciation Day, thus giving tribute to Bradley Catherman, a life science teacher who is not afraid to step beyond the standard curriculum and make that extra step to actually engage his students with their studies.

"I was really impressed with Mr. Catherman's willingness to work outside of the typical curriculum on this," said Martine, "In an age when K-12 teachers are increasingly pressured to 'teach to the test' he is still willing to think creatively and try something unusual."

Curiously, the new flowering bush species 'behaves' nothing like an ordinary plant. While its unripened fruits are greenish white on the inside when cut open, they start 'bleeding' in no more than two minutes. The scientists have even filmed a video short showing how their insides turn bloody scarlet at first, before growing darker, appearing just like clotting blood.

A week after the presentation, each of the students submitted an essay in which they suggested a name, explained the meaning, and translated it into Latin (the language that scientific names are required to be in). Catherman and Martine then selected the two best essays for the inaugural Discovery Prize, a new middle school science award established by Martine and his wife, Rachel.

"As you might imagine, the suggestions ran the gamut from the silly to the scientific," said Martine. "But for every request to name the species after a favorite food, family pet, or Taylor Swift, there were many suggestions based on the data the students had been provided."

According to Martine, a number of the students suggested names based on two characteristics of the plant's berries: the 'bleeding' unripened fruits and the dry and bone-hard mature ones. Based on this, the plant will now be known as Solanum ossicruentum, best translated to Australian blood bone tomato, with "ossi" meaning "bone" and "cruentum" meaning "bloody." The species belongs to the genus of the tomato.

The species is native to the sub-arid tropical zone of northern Australia. Martine collected the seeds, he grew his research plants from, during a 2014 expedition to Western Australia and the Northern Territory. However, specimens of the plant had actually been gathered for years before then.

"This is just one of thousands of unnamed Australian species that have been collected by dedicated field biologists and then stored in museums," said Martine, who studied specimens of the new species in the Northern Territory Herbarium before hunting for it in the bush.

"There is a wealth of museum material just waiting to be given names -- and, of course, the organisms represented by those specimens await that recognition, as well as the attention and protection that come with it."

Luckily for Solanum ossicruentum, attention and protection are not too much of an issue.

"Not only is it widespread and fairly abundant," said Martine, "but one of the healthiest populations occurs in Mirima National Park, a popular and easily-accessible natural area just outside the Western Australian town of Kununurra."

"Plus, middle schoolers can be tough to deal with. I don't think anyone in their right mind would mess with this plant, now," the botanist joked.

Christopher Martine, Jason Cantley, Emma Frawley, Alice Butler, Ingrid Jordon-Thaden. New functionally dioecious bush tomato from northwestern Australia, Solanum ossicruentum, may utilize “trample burr” dispersal. PhytoKeys, 2016; 63: 19 DOI:10.3897/phytokeys.63.7743

Behind The Scenes of The Calyx

Published on 6 May 2016: by Royal Botanic Gardens

Go behind the scenes of The Calyx, Sydney's newest attraction. This amazing space will open to the public in June 2016. Find out more:


Some history of this wonderful garden which celebrates 200 years this June: The Royal Botanical Garden Sydney Celebrates 200 Years in 2016

Applications open for new Green Army local environment projects

Media release: 6 May 2016 - The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

Applications for Round Five of the Australian Government’s Green Army programme are now open.

The Green Army is a hands-on, practical environmental action programme that supports local communities to undertake environment and heritage conservation projects across Australia while offering participants valuable skills and practical experience.

The Green Army has been a huge success with 1145 projects announced and more than 700 projects already rolled out across the country in urban, rural and remote areas.

Under Round Five, organisations are invited to submit multi-project proposals for between three and 15 Green Army teams over a two to three year period.

These proposals offer organisations an opportunity to develop large-scale programmes of work that will use multiple Green Army teams over an extended period.

A multi-project proposal could focus on a single environmental or heritage asset (such as a threatened species) across multiple regions or states, or it could focus on multiple environmental and/or heritage assets in a more specific area.

This a unique opportunity for community organisations, Landcare groups, natural resource management organisations, environment groups, Indigenous organisations, local councils and others to develop longer term, large-scale projects with a whole of landscape approach.

Organisations interested in submitting an application for one or two projects will also be able to apply under this round.

A variety of community and environment organisations can apply to become Green Army Project Hosts including Landcare groups, natural resource management organisations, Indigenous organisations and local councils.

Further information about Round Five will be available at community information sessions being held in every capital city from May 23rd.

I encourage all interested local community groups to attend to find out more about how you can apply.

More information about Round Five including the guidelines, application forms and details about the community information sessions are available at:

Round Five Information Sessions and Webinar

The Department is hosting information sessions for prospective applicants in all capital cities in the week beginning 23 May 2016. For those unable to attend an information session, a webinar will be held on 19 May 2016 from 2:30pm – 3:30pm (AEST). Further details on accessing the webinar will be posted on this webpage closer to the date.

A copy of the presentation and other resources provided at these sessions will also be made available on the Green Army website for anyone who is not able to attend the webinar or a session in a capital city. 

Community organisations, Landcare groups, natural resource management organisations, environment groups, Indigenous organisations, local councils and others can apply to host a Green Army project.

Join the Green Army: Participants

Are you aged between 17 and 24 and interested in gaining practical training and experience while being paid to work in your local environment?

Register your interest here:

Managing Wild Horses in Kosciuszko

Sunday, 1 May, 2016

NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman today invited the community to have its say on the Draft Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park, now on public exhibition.

Mr Speakman said while wild horses would always be part of the cultural heritage of Kosciuszko National Park, current numbers were unsustainable and the horses were damaging the park’s fragile alpine and subalpine environment.

“The draft plan outlines how the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) proposes to reduce the overall population of wild horses in the park using a range of humane and cost effective methods that will see numbers reduced from 6000 to approximately 3000 in the next five to 10 years,” Mr Speakman said.

The draft plan responds to the complex issue of wild horse management by proposing a range of humane control methods including trapping, rehoming, mustering, ground shooting, fertility control and fencing. Aerial shooting, ‘brumby running’ and ’roping’ have been ruled out.

The draft plan proposes reducing wild horse population numbers over the next 20 years to a permanent population of around 600, and identifies three locations in the park that could carry this smaller population with less environmental impact.

“Wild horse management is an emotive and complex issue. There are diverse opinions in the community and often deeply held views which polarise stakeholder groups,” Mr Speakman said.

“It is clear, however, that the broader community values the unique environment of Kosciuszko National Park and looks to NPWS to protect it.

The Draft Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park and details on how to provide feedback can be found 

The draft plan will be on public exhibition from 1 May 2016 to 8 July 2016 and during this time the community is encouraged to provide feedback.

NPWS will also host a series of open days in the Snowy Region. Please visit the Office of Environment and Heritage website for details.

Spotted Wobbegong Sharks Demonstrate Social Clique Behaviour 

2 May 2016: Macquarie University

New research suggests that the spotted wobbegong shark aggregates in ‘social’ groups, as opposed to previous assumptions that shark groupings were chance occurrences influenced by available food, mates or other environmental factors.

The study, led by Macquarie University, used the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) network to observe the movements and associations of individual sharks found in Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve.

The researchers found that the sharks did not associate randomly. Rather, some sharks were found together as preferred partners, even in different areas of the reserve, while others never associated.

“If these aggregations are not random but in fact reflect more complex social relationships, then the impacts from historical fishing may also not be random, and may have continuing consequences,” said lead author Nicolette Armansin.

“Wobbegongs are large bottom dwelling ambush predators often found in large groups close to shore where they have been heavily exploited – most people would have encountered one was at their local fish and chip shop.

“Our study points to potential unintended consequences of fishing on shark populations, as instead of randomly catching individuals, fishing may selectively remove important members of social networks, with as yet unknown consequences on the stability of the population.”

Most important to the researchers was the realisation that the groupings were not sex or age related, which ruled out the possibility that the groupings were simply a case of younger animals grouping together for safety. Interestingly, they also found that a preference for the same resting habitat did not explain the patterns of their associations.

“What we found was that sharks were interacting in a much more complex way than we predicted,” said Macquarie researcher Professor Rob Harcourt.

“Social behaviour might be expected in sharks that feed together on large schools of fish, but the existence of these associations in even bottom dwelling predators that individually ambush their prey, points to a much higher level of social complexity than previously imagined, and to possible common evolutionary mechanisms across multiple animal groups.

“Like mammals, birds and reptiles, it appears that sharks inhabit a far richer social world than we would have imagined.”

“Integrating social network analysis and fine-scale positioning to characterize the associations of a benthic shark” Animal Behaviour (2016)

Photo: spotted wobbegong  Credit: Prof Rob Harcourt

Water Bill Paves the Way for Improved Services

Wednesday, May 4, 2016: NSW DPI Media release

Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Lands and Water Niall Blair today  introduced the Water NSW Amendment (Staff Transfers) Bill to Parliament, which will pave the way for improved delivery of water management and services right across NSW.

“The NSW Government has already initiated extensive reform to look at how we can better service the state’s $3.5 billion irrigated agriculture sector and improve how we manage critical water resources,” Mr Blair said.

“We’ve put water users at the centre of these reforms – creating the Department of Primary Industries Water (DPI Water) and Water NSW – and looked closely at which functions and activities are best delivered by each of those entities.

“This Bill is the next stage of these reforms, putting both DPI Water and Water NSW on a sustainable footing to deliver an improvement of services provided to customers, along with the removal of duplication and inefficiencies.”

The Bill facilitates the implementation of the transfer of functions to enable DPI Water to have a sharpened focus on policy, and water market regulation, with oversight of major water infrastructure projects.

WaterNSW will focus on delivering quality water, all customer transactional dealings and all in-field services relating to groundwater and surface water.

The reforms are consistent with NSW’s commitments under the National Water Initiative and will improve the transparency and management of an effective water market in NSW.

This Bill will allow DPI Water to focus on overseeing government funded-infrastructure, representing NSW’s interest at the national level – including implementing the Murray Darling Basin Plan – and getting the best deal for NSW.

Last month we saw the value of this work – securing a historic agreement at the Murray Darling  Basin Ministerial Council, including agreement for a more flexible and adaptive approach to achieving sustainable diversion limits

The Marine National Facility

Published on 3 May 2016: by CSIRO


Influence of sea-ice loss on Arctic warming is shaped by temperatures in the Pacific Ocean

May 2, 2016

Influence of sea-ice loss on Arctic warming is shaped by varying temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, new study shows

The crucial role that sea-ice loss plays in rapid Arctic warming is regulated by variable climate patterns taking place in the Pacific Ocean, a pioneering new study has found.

The Arctic amplification phenomenon refers to the faster rate of warming in the Arctic compared to places farther south. Arctic amplification has been linked to a spike in the number of persistent cold spells experienced in recent years over Europe and North America.

New research led by University of Exeter expert Dr James Screen and published in leading scientific journal Nature Climate Change has shown that the influence of sea-ice loss on warming in the far north during winter is dependent on a recurring ocean temperature pattern in the North Pacific.

In the study, Dr Screen identified the role that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) -- a cyclical pattern of warm and cool ocean temperatures in the Pacific -- plays on the impact of sea-ice loss on Arctic warming.

The study used observations and new climate model experiments to show that the warming effect of sea-ice loss is dependent on the PDO's phase: the same amount of sea-ice loss leads to greater Arctic warming in the 'negative' phase of the PDO compared the 'positive' phase.

During the 'negative' phase of PDO there are colder-than-normal ocean temperatures along the west coast of North America and warmer temperatures in the western Pacific. The pattern is opposite for the 'positive' phase.

This pattern is known to also affect coastal sea and continental surface air temperatures from Alaska to California. However, that it also regulates the contribution of sea-ice loss to Arctic amplification had not been previously known.

Dr Screen, a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Exeter, said: "The study shows an important interaction between natural climate variability and one of the most conspicuous aspects of human-induced climate change -- the loss of Arctic sea ice."

"Given the nature of the PDO, which oscillates between periods of cooling and warming of the Pacific waters over a recurrent period of around a decade, this study could help give us a greater understanding and ability to predict trends in both Arctic, and sub-Arctic climate."

Prof Jennifer Francis, a Research Professor at Rutgers University and study co-author added: "One of the most interesting areas of research now is unravelling the ways in which human-caused changes in the climate system are interacting with natural climate fluctuations, such as the PDO and El Niño.

"Our findings surprised us, and they're also concerning because the extremely warm winter that just occurred in the Arctic may have been even worse if the PDO had been in a negative phase. When the PDO shifts back again, it could be bad news for the already rapidly changing Arctic region."

James A. Screen, Jennifer A. Francis. Contribution of sea-ice loss to Arctic amplification is regulated by Pacific Ocean decadal variability. Nature Climate Change, 2016; DOI:10.1038/nclimate3011

2016 Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition

New York, USA: United Nations 

24 March 2016 - 20 May 2016

Photography is a powerful medium of expression that can be used to communicate strong positive messages about a subject. This open and free photo competition seeks to inspire the creation and dissemination of such positive imagery, which conveys the beauty and importance of the ocean and humankind’s relation to it.

CLICK HERE to enter contest 

The photo competition has five thematic categories open for photographic submissions:

 - Underwater seascapes

 - Underwater life

 - Above water seascapes

 - Human Interaction: Making a Difference

 - Youth Category: open category, any image of the ocean (above or below the surface)

(Youth is defined as under 16 years of age as of 1 April 2016)

The entries must be submitted electronically through the World Oceans Day Photo Competition portal in accordance with the competition guidelines and subject to the competition rules. Winning images will be recognized at the United Nations on Wednesday, 8 June 2016 during the United Nations event marking World Oceans Day 2016. 

Winning images and finalists will form part of an information exhibit in which the photos will be paired with narratives explaining the importance of the oceans to humanity and relating humankind’s positive relationship with the ocean.

Information and more HERE

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

The RIDonline website lets you report the types of waste being dumped and its GPS location. Photos of the waste can also be added to the report.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), councils and Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squads will use this information to investigate and, if appropriate, issue a fine or clean-up notice.

Penalties for illegal dumping can be up to $15,000 and potential jail time for anybody caught illegally dumping within five years of a prior illegal dumping conviction.

This is the first time RIDonline has been opened to the public. Since September last year, the EPA, councils, RID squads and public land managers have used it to report more than 20,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste across more than 70 local government areas.

The NSW Government has allocated $58 million over five years to tackle illegal dumping as part of its $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative. NSW Premier Mike Baird has also committed to reducing the volume of litter by 40%, by 2020 to help keep NSW's environment clean.


Would you like to know more about our local birds and explore our bushland reserves? Then join us on one of our bird walks:

21 August, Chiltern Track, Ingleside (birds and wildflowers)

25 September, Irrawong Reserve, North Narrabeen

27 November, Warriewood Wetlands

Most walks start at 7.30 or 8am and last a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. for details of each walk.

Auckland confirmed for 2016 Youth Sailing World Championships

Wednesday 4 May 2016

World Sailing announced today that Auckland, New Zealand has been confirmed as the host venue for the 2016 Youth Sailing World Championships.

Following a comprehensive selection process, Auckland will host the Youth Worlds in conjunction with World Sailing and Yachting New Zealand from 14 - 20 December 2016. 

Yachting New Zealand Chief Executive David Abercrombie said, "This announcement is very exciting for Auckland and for New Zealand. The circumstances provided New Zealand with a unique opportunity to host the prestigious youth sailing event and we're thrilled to work together with World Sailing to deliver a fantastic event later this year.

"A great deal of work has gone in to ensure the success of this hosting bid and I wish to acknowledge both New Zealand Major Events and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) for their support. Without the backing of these organizations this would not be possible,” adds Abercrombie.

"New Zealanders are great at hosting sporting events and the sailing and boating community is among the best at it,” says Abercrombie. "We're a nation of yachties and boaties, we have incredible sailing waters and we have some of the best race management people in the world.

"The 2016 edition of the Youth World Championships will be quintessentially kiwi and everyone who has the privilege to come to New Zealand this December to represent their country will remember this experience for a lifetime.”  

The event is expected to attract around 400 young sailors from up to 70 nations to Auckland and bring benefit to the local community and to young sailors throughout New Zealand.

In recent history, Auckland has hosted a stopover in the Volvo Ocean Race and the 2016 Red Bull Foiling Generation, while Emirates Team New Zealand are currently in the fight for an America's Cup spot with current Rolex World Sailor of the Year winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke showing the diversity and pedigree of the nation to hold such high profile events.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) Chief Executive Brett O'Riley says, "This event fits well with Auckland's world renowned on-water lifestyle, marine capability and commitment to sailing. Being host city for the Youth World Championships is an important step for Auckland if we are to be considered as a host for other large-scale World Sailing events. We look forward to welcoming these young sailors and their supporters to Auckland.”

Sport New Zealand's Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says, "Yachting is an important sport for New Zealand, all the way from our young people competing in local clubs to our elite athletes winning on the world stage. So I'm delighted that New Zealand will be hosting the Youth Worlds in Auckland later this year.  I wish the organisers and our competitors the very best of luck.”

World Sailing Events Manager Alistair Dickson said, "Finding a venue who can host this championship at this late stage has not been an easy task but World Sailing is confident that Auckland is one of the few venues in the world that can turn this championship around in the few months remaining.

"World Sailing was delighted by the positive global response to our request for new venue and we are truly thankful to all nations that submitted interest.”

World Sailing CEO Andy Hunt said, "We are absolutely delighted that Auckland and Yachting New Zealand has stepped in to host the 2016 Youth Worlds.  Our work with the bid team over the past two months have left us in no doubt they will host a fantastic Youth Worlds.”

In 2015 New Zealand delivered one of this nation's most impressive performances on record at the Youth World Championships with a four medal haul and 2nd place in the Nation's Trophy for overall team performance in Langkawi, Malaysia in January 2016.

With New Zealand's youth talent development programme producing better than ever talent the Aon Fast Track Squad was launched in 2015 with a focus on accelerating the standard of the most talented youth sailors from top international youth sailors, to successful Olympic campaigners.

With NZL Sailing Team role models like Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the 49er and Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie in the Women's 470 to aspire to, New Zealand's junior and youth sailors have the inspiration to perform on the world stage.

World Sailing has started working with the Youth Worlds boat suppliers Nautivela, Ovington, Neil Pryde, Maclaren and Nacra Racing to ensure that all competitors attending the Youth Worlds will receive supplied equipment.

The Notice of Race, registration process and further information for attending sailors will be published on the Youth Worlds website in due course.

About the Youth Worlds

The Youth Worlds was first held in Sweden in 1971. The 2016 Youth Sailing World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand will be the 46th edition of the championship.

Past notable winners include American's Cup skippers, Chris Dickson (NZL), Russell Coutts (NZL), Dean Barker (NZL); Olympic medallists, Nathan Outteridge (AUS), Iain Jensen (AUS), Robert Scheidt (BRA), Amelie Lux (GER), Ben Ainslie (GBR), Iain Percy (GBR), Alessandra Sensini (ITA), Elise Rechichi (AUS) and Tessa Parkinson (AUS); Volvo Ocean Race sailors like Stuart Bannatyne (NZL) and Richard Clarke (CAN). The most successful Youth World Champions are Great Britain's Sally Cuthbert and Poland's Zofia Klepacka having won four successive titles in the Laser II and Mistral respectively.

Australia is the current holder of the Nations Trophy, awarded annually to the top performing nation at the Youth Worlds. France is the most success nation through the history of the Championship, winning the Nations Trophy on a record eleven occasions and holding a record 76 medals: 28 gold, 30 silver and 18 bronze.

Youth Worlds Website -

By Richard Aspland, World Sailing

 2015 Youth Sailing World  Championships sailors


May 5, 2016: ANMM (Australian National Maritime Museum)

Historians believe the original Endeavour ended its days on the floor of Newport Harbour, in Rhode Island in 1778 as one of a number of vessels sunk to protect the town during the American Revolutionary War.

The Rhode Island Marine Archaeological Project (RIMAP), headed by Dr Kathy Abbass, has been diving and surveying the remains of these vessels over the last 20 years. Australian National Maritime Museum’s maritime archaeologists have been actively involved in the hunt for Endeavour’s remains and have dived with RIMAP on some of the sites, most recently in 2015.

Recent archival research by ANMM and RIMAP has revealed that the Endeavour was one of five vessels sunk off one of the town’s defensive batteries, further narrowing down the search.

On May 4 RIMAP described its 2016 plans to undertake further archaeological investigations to determine the identities of the five ships and what the next stage of study will involve. They released charts of the wreck site plans and their proposed schedule to identify the ships in the lead of up to 2020, the 250th anniversary of Cook charting the East Coast of Australia.  

Cook’s famous ship of discovery, built in 1764 and initially named the Earl of Pembroke, began service as a collier on the east coast of England.

The British Admiralty purchased Earl of Pembroke in 1768, fitted it out for a voyage to the South Pacific and gave it the new name Endeavour.

When Cook returned from his great circumnavigation in 1771, the Admiralty refitted the vessel again, this time as a store ship for voyages to the Falkland Islands.

In 1775 the Admiralty sold the Endeavour out of the Royal Navy.  In 1776, now renamed Lord Sandwich it was hired to transport troops across the Atlantic to America where the American Revolution against British colonial rule had started.

After disembarking troops in New York, the Lord Sandwich was later used as a prison ship in Newport and was there when a powerful French fleet threatened to wrest control of the town from British Forces. In the face of this superior force the British destroyed their own frigates to stop them falling into enemy hands, and concentrated their efforts on protecting the town of Newport.

In the event the arrival of a Royal Navy fleet temporarily saved the town but by the following year the British troops had withdrawn from Newport and the Lord Sandwich (Endeavour) was left to decay on the seabed.

ANMM is excited to be working with RIMAP at a time when real progress has been made towards discovery of the remains of Cook’s famous ship.

The Bark, Earl of Pembroke, later Endeavour, leaving Whitby Harbour in 1768 ca. 1790. Oil on canvas ; 79.1 x 145.1 cm. by Thomas Luny, nla.pic-an2280897, courtesy National Library of Australia

For more information visit: HMS Endeavour Replica Cannon at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and Captain T. Watson and his Captain Cook Statues: A Tribute to Kindness  

Hollows as Homes Citizen Scientist Project: Sydney and NSW

Launched March 3rd, 2016: Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and University of Sydney

With the help of the community this project aims to assess the availability of tree hollows and their use by wildlife across the Sydney region. The Hollows as Homes team wants you to report tree hollow(s) in your backyard, street, park and/or paddock through

Find out more and Register at:

Facebook page

Participants will take measurements of the hollow-bearing tree and periodically conduct monitoring and report wildlife using the hollow(s). Training is available through workshops and the website.


Around 300 animal species rely on tree hollows in Australia, including birds, possums, gliders, microbats, frogs, lizards, snakes, insects and spiders. Changes to the landscape from urbanisation and agriculture not only reduce the amount of trees and homes for animals, but also create big gaps between the remaining trees and bushland. In New South Wales, of terrestrial vertebrate species that are reliant on tree hollows for shelter 40 species are listed as threatened with extinction.

Why does tree hollow loss matter?

Tree hollows are so important to our native wildlife, that their loss has been classed as a Key Threatening Process to biodiversity in New South Wales. It can take decades for a tree hollow to form. In Australia, there are no animals that are able to create tree hollows (e.g. wood pecker), thus hollow creation is a slow process that relies on fungus to eat away at the tree. What can we do to help?Cities and agricultural areas provide habitat for endangered animals and plants. We can encourage animals to share our cities, suburbs and farms by retaining:

Large, hollow bearing trees

Remnant patches of bushland that surround these trees which make it easier for them to move through the environment

Dead trees which provide important habitat whether they are standing or on the ground.

Top: Lorikeet in Angophora, McKay Reserve, Palm Beach

Kids' eating habits highlight need for healthier lunchboxes

May 3, 2016: University of Adelaide

New research from the University of Adelaide in Australia shows children aged 9-10 years old are receiving almost half of their daily energy requirements from "discretionary" or junk foods.

The study evaluated the core food intake of more than 430 South Australian children aged 9-10. The results -- published recently in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics -- show that 45% of the children's daily energy intake was sourced from discretionary foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

"We found that children obtained over half of their daily energy from carbohydrates and about one-third of their energy from fats, half of which was saturated fat," says lead author Dr Melissa Whitrow from the University of Adelaide's School of Public Health and the Robinson Research Institute.

"We know that an unhealthy diet is a key contributor to obesity and also paves the way for other health problems in later life, such as poor cardiovascular health. The establishment and maintenance of healthy eating habits during the transition from childhood to adolescence is also very important."

The study uncovered a number of issues, such as:

• Boys and girls consumed an average of 156 grams and 161 grams of total sugar per day respectively;

• 91% of children had fewer than the recommended daily servings of vegetables;

• 99.8% of children had fewer than the recommended daily servings of non-processed meat or protein alternatives (such as eggs, nuts, beans, chickpeas or lentils);

• 83% of boys and 78% of girls consumed more than the recommended daily intake of salt;

• Fiber intake was inadequate in 41% of boys and 24% of girls;

• Dairy intake was inadequate in 83% of girls.

"At this stage in their lives, girls need to eat more dairy as they head towards puberty, as this is important for their bone density," Dr Whitrow says.

"Variety of food is also an issue. Red meat tended to be the dominant meat, whereas fish should be consumed in a healthy diet at least weekly. It's important for families to understand that processed meat is a discretionary food, not a core food, and is often high in salt and fat."

Dr Whitrow says socio-economic status made little difference to the dietary problems highlighted in the study.

"Based on the results of our study, there is much to be done to encourage 9-to-10-year-old children and their families to make healthier food choices. For example, substituting at least one high-fat, high-sugar or high-salt food item with a healthier food choice in the school lunchbox each day might make a difference," she says.

"This isn't about blaming the parents. As a community we need to help parents more. We need to look at what's being advertised to their children, and how we can encourage children to try different foods. Providing healthy alternatives into a lunch box and more vegetables at the dinner table would be a good start."

This study has been conducted in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, and was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC).

M. J. Whitrow, L. Moran, M. J. Davies, C. E. Collins, T. L. Burrows, S. Edwards, V. M. Moore. Core food intakes of Australian children aged 9-10 years: nutrients, daily servings and diet quality in a community cross-sectional sample. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/jhn.12358

Delivering on mental health and enhanced support for veterans

Tuesday, 3 May 2016: Media Release

In the 2016–17 Budget, the Turnbull Government’s focus is on ensuring the mental health needs of our veterans are met through early intervention strategies, as well as improving our capability to provide better customer service and support for veterans and their families, now and into the future.

The 2016–17 Budget provides $37.9 million to extend the non-liability health care initiative, which expands eligibility for treatment of mental health conditions to all current and former permanent members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), irrespective of how long or when they served, or the type of service.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan, today said eligibility for early access to mental health treatment had been streamlined for permanent ADF members.

“This means that anyone who has ever served in the ADF permanent forces will be eligible for treatment for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and alcohol and substance abuse,” Mr Tehan said.

“These eligible veterans will receive a Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) White Health Card, which provides additional benefits including access to counselling from the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service.

“We recognise that current and former serving personnel may develop these conditions and that the earlier an individual seeks treatment, the more effective the likely health and other outcomes. Funding for mental health treatment is demand-driven and not capped—if an eligible person requires treatment, it is funded.

“In addition, we have extended funding for veteran suicide awareness and prevention workshops. The Government will provide $1.0 million to continue training members of the broader ex-service community to recognise and assist those at risk of suicide, and to pilot a new suicide prevention initiative.

The Turnbull Government will not proceed with the 2014–15 Budget measure to end the three month backdating of veterans’ disability claims, reinstating funding of $37.8 million over the forward estimates.

“I have been working closely with the ex-service organisations and this 2014–15 Budget measure raised considerable concern in the veteran community. I am pleased that this measure will not proceed, allowing for veterans to receive a disability pension that is backdated three months from the receipt date of the claim to DVA,” Mr Tehan said.

“Since becoming Minister for Veterans’ Affairs another major issue raised with me by ex-service organisations is the delays processing claims because of the outdated DVA ICT systems.

“This Government continues to listen to the needs of our veteran community, particularly the need to decrease claims processing times and improve support systems.

“This is why we are investing a total of $24.8 million to design a transformation program that aims to deliver better customer service for veterans, underpinned by better processes and technology.”

A major overhaul of DVA’s ICT systems would underpin significant improvements to the way the department conducts its business and, consequently, provides services to veterans and their families.

“In addition, $23.9 million has been allocated in the Budget to enable DVA to maintain its critical compensation processing systems while developing the detailed transformation program,” Mr Tehan said.

“In developing the plan, the aim will be to revolutionise the way DVA interacts with, and delivers support and services to veterans and their families for decades to come.”

Mr Tehan also acknowledged the service and sacrifice of current and former serving ADF members and veterans, who have defended our values and freedoms.

“It is important that we acknowledge our veterans in a respectful way through commemorative services, maintenance of war graves and memorials, and cultural and educational activities,” Mr Tehan said.

“This is why the Turnbull Government’s 2016–17 Budget is providing $7.5 million to refurbish and rebuild 3,800 war graves and memorials that have deteriorated in Australia and Papua New Guinea, and to undertake essential safety and maintenance work at the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum in Thailand to accommodate the significant number of people who visit this commemorative site.”

Additional Budget measures for veterans include:

• $5.5 million to ensure that eligible veterans receive incapacity payments through to ‘pension age’ as it progressively advances to 67 years in July 2023

• $2.7 million for a new case management system for the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) that will streamline processes and reduce backlogs by allowing veterans to lodge appeals, manage them, and monitor their real-time progress electronically

• the national rollout of a Veterans’ Review Board alternative dispute resolution model that has been successfully trialled in NSW/ACT, that saw 57 per cent of applications finalised without the need for a full hearing and, being finalised within two months rather than the usual 12 months

• $2.1 million for the Kookaburra Kids Foundation to support children whose parent/s are a serving ADF member or veteran affected by mental illness, including PTSD

• $10 million to support the Spirit of ANZAC Centenary Experience travelling exhibition of Australia’s involvement in the First World War and subsequent Century of Service of Australia’s Armed forces in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. 

Regional Australians Online: Key highlights from ACMA research

3 May 2016

The Australian Communications and Media Authority's (ACMA) latest research snapshot Regional Australians Online gives a great insight into how Australians in different regions access and use communications.

Key highlights from the snapshot include:

• 80% of adult Australians in non-urban areas have a broadband connection at home.

• The number of Australians living in non-urban areas with a home broadband connection has increased 19 per cent since June 2011, an increase higher than any other geographic area of Australia.

• While the percentage of non-urban Australians who use the internet via mobile phone has more than doubled between 2011 and 2015 to increase by 21 per cent, this was below the national average growth of 34 per cent.

• Approximately 10 per cent of Australians in urban and non-urban areas have never accessed the internet, much higher than the four per cent of capital city residents who reported never having accessed the internet.

The full report is available on the ACMA's website.

Reducing violence against culturally and linguistically diverse women and their children

2 May 2016

Understanding the cultural context of violence against women is critical to reducing violence in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, a new report has found.

The report titled A Platform for Action was released today by the minister for social services, Christian Porter, and highlights that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to addressing domestic and family violence.

“We need to recognise that the most enduring change comes when women and communities, supported by government, develop their own culturally effective responses to help reduce violence against women and their children,” Mr Porter said.

“The Coalition Government has funded a number of projects through the building safe communities grants, which are designed to help specific communities develop and implement their own practical solutions to reduce violence against women.

“This approach includes funding specialist services such as inTouch Multicultural Centre to work with communities to increase their understanding of domestic violence, and help them access support.”

The report also highlighted that many new arrivals to Australia may have limited or no understanding of Australia’s laws in relation to issues such as family and domestic violence and other complex forms of violence and abuse.

“The government is providing improved orientation information to men and women coming to Australia on Australian laws on domestic and family violence, a woman’s right to be safe and the support services that are available,” Mr Porter said.

“This information supports and builds on the family safety pack for new arrivals announced by the coalition government in August 2015.

We are also developing new training for settlement workers to help them better recognise, respond and refer individuals and families who may be experiencing domestic and family violence or sexual assault.”

This is part of the $13.5 million provided to Lifeline under the Coalition Government’s $100 million Women’s Safety Package to undertake DV-alert training with a range of frontline service staff including police, emergency and allied health workers, and community front-line workers.

Other priority actions explored in the report include:

• addressing gender inequality in culturally and linguistically diverse communities

• creating safe and supportive workplace environments for women experiencing violence

• improving data, research and sharing of information to find out what works to reduce violence against women and their children

• enabling better integration of community services so victims aren’t left to navigate a complex system on their own

These priority actions add to an increasing body of evidence that is informing the Council of Australian Governments process for reducing violence against women and their children.

A platform for action reflects the insights provided by participants at a roundtable on responding to violence against culturally and linguistically diverse women and their children. It was attended by community and business leaders, Women’s Safety Ministers and specialists from domestic violence and sexual assault services.

To download a copy of A Platform for Action

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or

Scientists double number of known genetic risk factors for endometrial cancer

May 3, 2016

An international collaboration of researchers has identified five new gene regions that increase a woman's risk of developing endometrial cancer, one of the most common cancers to affect women, taking the number of known gene regions associated with the disease to nine.

Endometrial cancer affects the lining of the uterus. It is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in UK women, with around 9,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge, Oxford University and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane studied the DNA of over 7,000 women with endometrial cancer and 37,000 women without cancer to identify genetic variants that affected a woman's risk of developing the disease. The results are published today in the journal Nature Genetics.

Dr Deborah Thompson from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge said: "Our findings help us to paint a clearer picture of the genetic causes of endometrial cancer in women, particularly where there no strong family history of cancer. Prior to this study, we only knew of four regions of the genome in which a common genetic variant increases a woman's risk of endometrial cancer.

"In this study we have identified another five regions, bringing the total to nine. This finding doubles the number of known risk regions, and therefore makes an important contribution to our knowledge of the genetic drivers of endometrial cancer.

"Interestingly, several of the gene regions we identified in the study were already known to contribute to the risk of other common cancers such as ovarian and prostate.

"Although each individual variant only increases risk by around 10-15%, their real value will be in looking at the total number of such variants inherited by a woman, together with her other risk factors, in order to identify those women at higher risk of endometrial cancer so that they can be regularly checked and be alert to the early signs and symptoms of the disease."

The study also looked at how the identified gene regions might be increasing the risk of cancer, and these findings have implications for the future treatment of endometrial cancer patients.

"As we develop a more comprehensive view of the genetic risk factors for endometrial cancer, we can start to work out which genes could potentially be targeted with new treatments down the track," said Associate Professor Amanda Spurdle from QIMR Berghofer.

"In particular, we can start looking into whether there are drugs that are already approved and available for use that can be used to target those genes."

The study was an international collaboration involving researchers from Australia, the United Kingdom, German, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, the United States and China. The UK part of the study received funding from the charity Cancer Research UK.

Dr Emma Smith, Cancer Research UK's science information manager, said: "The discovery of genetic changes that affect women's risk of developing endometrial -- or womb -- cancer could help doctors identify women at higher risk, who could benefit from being more closely monitored for signs of the disease.

"It might also provide clues into the faulty molecules that play an important role in womb cancer, leading to potential new treatments. More than a third of womb cancer cases in the UK each year could be prevented, and staying a healthy weight and keeping active are both great ways for women to reduce the risk."

Timothy H T Cheng, Deborah J Thompson, Tracy A O'Mara, Jodie N Painter, Dylan M Glubb, Susanne Flach, Annabelle Lewis, Juliet D French, Luke Freeman-Mills, David Church, Maggie Gorman, Lynn Martin, Shirley Hodgson, Penelope M Webb, John Attia, Elizabeth G Holliday, Mark McEvoy, Rodney J Scott, Anjali K Henders, Nicholas G Martin, Grant W Montgomery, Dale R Nyholt, Shahana Ahmed, Catherine S Healey, Mitul Shah, Joe Dennis, Peter A Fasching, Matthias W Beckmann, Alexander Hein, Arif B Ekici, Per Hall, Kamila Czene, Hatef Darabi, Jingmei Li, Thilo Dörk, Matthias Dürst, Peter Hillemanns, Ingo Runnebaum, Frederic Amant, Stefanie Schrauwen, Hui Zhao, Diether Lambrechts, Jeroen Depreeuw, Sean C Dowdy, Ellen L Goode, Brooke L Fridley, Stacey J Winham, Tormund S Njølstad, Helga B Salvesen, Jone Trovik, Henrica M J Werner, Katie Ashton, Geoffrey Otton, Tony Proietto, Tao Liu, Miriam Mints, Emma Tham, Mulin Jun Li, Shun H Yip, Junwen Wang, Manjeet K Bolla, Kyriaki Michailidou, Qin Wang, Jonathan P Tyrer, Malcolm Dunlop, Richard Houlston, Claire Palles, John L Hopper, Julian Peto, Anthony J Swerdlow, Barbara Burwinkel, Hermann Brenner, Alfons Meindl, Hiltrud Brauch, Annika Lindblom, Jenny Chang-Claude, Fergus J Couch, Graham G Giles, Vessela N Kristensen, Angela Cox, Julie M Cunningham, Paul D P Pharoah, Alison M Dunning, Stacey L Edwards, Douglas F Easton, Ian Tomlinson, Amanda B Spurdle.Five endometrial cancer risk loci identified through genome-wide association analysis. Nature Genetics, 2016; DOI:10.1038/ng.3562

Three potentially habitable worlds found around nearby ultracool dwarf star

May 2, 2016

This artist's impression shows an imagined view from the surface one of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth that were discovered using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory. These worlds have sizes and temperatures similar to those of Venus and Earth and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the Solar System. They are the first planets ever discovered around such a tiny and dim star. In this view one of the inner planets is seen in transit across the disc of its tiny and dim parent star. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Astronomers using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory have discovered three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth. These worlds have sizes and temperatures similar to those of Venus and Earth and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the Solar System. They are the first planets ever discovered around such a tiny and dim star. The new results will be published in the journal Nature on 2 May 2016.

A team of astronomers led by Michaël Gillon, of the Institut d'Astrophysique et Géophysique at the University of Liège in Belgium, have used the Belgian TRAPPIST telescope to observe the star 2MASS J23062928-0502285 now also known as TRAPPIST-1. They found that this dim and cool star faded slightly at regular intervals, indicating that several objects were passing between the star and the Earth. Detailed analysis showed that three planets with similar sizes to the Earth were present.

TRAPPIST-1 is an ultracool dwarf star -- it is much cooler and redder than the Sun and barely larger than Jupiter. Such stars are both very common in the Milky Way and very long-lived, but this is the first time that planets have been found around one of them. Despite being so close to the Earth, this star is too dim and too red to be seen with the naked eye or even visually with a large amateur telescope. It lies in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Carrier).

Emmanuël Jehin, a co-author of the new study, is excited: "This really is a paradigm shift with regards to the planet population and the path towards finding life in the Universe. So far, the existence of such 'red worlds' orbiting ultra-cool dwarf stars was purely theoretical, butnow we have not just one lonely planet around such a faint red star but a complete system of three planets!"

Michaël Gillon, lead author of the paper presenting the discovery, explains the significance of the new findings: "Why are we trying to detect Earth-like planets around the smallest and coolest stars in the solar neighbourhood? The reason is simple: systems around these tiny stars are the only places where we can detect life on an Earth-sized exoplanet with our current technology. So if we want to find life elsewhere in the Universe, this is where we should start to look."

Astronomers will search for signs of life by studying the effect that the atmosphere of a transiting planet has on the light reaching Earth. For Earth-sized planets orbiting most stars this tiny effect is swamped by the brilliance of the starlight. Only for the case of faint red ultra-cool dwarf stars -- like TRAPPIST-1 -- is this effect big enough to be detected.

Follow-up observations with larger telescopes, including the HAWK-I instrument on ESO's 8-metre Very Large Telescope in Chile, have shown that the planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1 have sizes very similar to that of Earth. Two of the planets have orbital periods of about 1.5 days and 2.4 days respectively, and the third planet has a less well determined period in the range 4.5 to 73 days.

"With such short orbital periods, the planets are between 20 and 100 times closer to their star than the Earth to the Sun. The structure of this planetary system is much more similar in scale to the system of Jupiter's moons than to that of the Solar System," explains Michaël Gillon.

Although they orbit very close to their host dwarf star, the inner two planets only receive four times and twice, respectively, the amount of radiation received by the Earth, because their star is much fainter than the Sun. That puts them closer to the star than the habitable zone for this system, although it is still possible that they possess habitable regions on their surfaces. The third, outer, planet's orbit is not yet well known, but it probably receives less radiation than the Earth does, but maybe still enough to lie within the habitable zone.

"Thanks to several giant telescopes currently under construction, including ESO's E-ELT and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope due to launch for 2018, we will soon be able to study the atmospheric composition of these planets and to explore them first for water, then for traces of biological activity. That's a giant step in the search for life in the Universe," concludes Julien de Wit, a co-author from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA.

This work opens up a new direction for exoplanet hunting, as around 15% of the stars near to the Sun are ultra-cool dwarf stars, and it also serves to highlight that the search for exoplanets has now entered the realm of potentially habitable cousins of the Earth. The TRAPPIST survey is a prototype for a more ambitious project called SPECULOOS that will be installed at ESO's Paranal Observatory.

Michaël Gillon, Emmanuël Jehin, Susan M. Lederer, Laetitia Delrez, Julien de Wit, Artem Burdanov, Valérie Van Grootel, Adam J. Burgasser, Amaury H. M. J. Triaud, Cyrielle Opitom, Brice-Olivier Demory, Devendra K. Sahu, Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi, Pierre Magain, Didier Queloz. Temperate Earth-sized planets transiting a nearby ultracool dwarf star. Nature, 2016; DOI:10.1038/nature17448

Handrail Art 

New measures to reduce red tape and streamline waterfront property management

3 MAY 2016: NSW Roads and Maritime Services

Starting this week, tenancy arrangements will be simplified for those with reclaimed land or wetland structures such as jetties or pontoons in Sydney Harbour.

Roads and Maritime Services is now offering a wetland licence as an alternative to a wetland lease, reducing the cost and paperwork involved for people who wish to occupy land which sits below the average high water mark.

“Roads and Maritime administers around 2200 wetland leases over public land around the harbour which has been reclaimed to extend waterfront blocks or build other structures such as jetties, swimming pool and boatsheds,” a Roads and Maritime spokesperson said.

“Under the existing leasing arrangements, lessees have the option of entering into a lease term of either three or 20 years.

“In most cases, people have opted for a three year lease as planning laws require development consent for leases of more than five years duration.

“Offering these 2200 existing occupants a licence as opposed to a lease will mean development consent will no longer be required, reducing costs and streamlining processes for lessees with less expense to the lessee in engaging town planners and surveyors.

“Moving to a licence system will also bring Roads and Maritime wetland tenancies in line with similar tenancies managed by NSW Lands on Crown land at other various locations around NSW.

“The new system is in line with the recommendation made by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW in 2011 to follow a single tenancy system for private waterfront tenancies on public land.

“Roads and Maritime has consulted with key stakeholders including the Waterfront Action Group and Maritime Property Advisory Group who have been supportive of the move to a licensing system.”

Getting on with building the Inland Rail

Media Release: Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate; The Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport; Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, Minister for Regional Development

3 May 2016

The Turnbull Government is responsibly investing in infrastructure in cities and regions to boost jobs and growth. That’s why we are committing an additional $594 million to get Inland Rail on track.

Inland Rail is a truly transformational project that will open up the freight corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane, via regional New South Wales, and boost productivity for decades.

The Inland Rail project will be delivered through the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) in partnership with the private sector. The Government will begin market testing for private sector involvement in the project.

The economic benefits of Inland Rail will be felt across the nation. The east coast freight corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane already generates 75 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product.  It is responsible for commodity exports of more than $260 billion each year.

Inland Rail will deliver almost $22.5 billion of direct and indirect benefits to Australia. Inland Rail will be a huge boon for industry, including the mining and agricultural sectors in eastern Australia, helping to meet the long-term Melbourne to Brisbane freight challenge.

It will reduce the strain on other infrastructure in our national network, providing a freight solution capable of carrying the eight million tonnes of extra freight expected to be travelling between Melbourne and Brisbane in 2050. This is equivalent to taking 200,000 trucks movements off the road each year, with every interstate train on Inland Rail the equivalent of approximately 110 B-double trucks. This will improve safety for all road users along the corridor.

After years of planning, the Government is moving ahead to acquire the land necessary to construct Inland Rail. With funding now set aside for land acquisition to commence in 2017, communities will be given certainty as the alignment is decided and the project gets shovel-ready.

ARTC is well advanced with planning and pre-construction works right across the 1,700km corridor and this decision provides a green light for ARTC to advance the project.

During the construction phase, Inland Rail will create up to 16,000 jobs during the peak of construction. Once the line is fully operational it will provide 600 ongoing jobs.

Once built, Inland Rail will also connect with the transcontinental east-west rail corridor at Parkes, connecting southeast Queensland directly by rail to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, avoiding the need for freight to transit through the congested Sydney network.

More information about the Inland Rail is online

Car crashes: Predicting high risk locations

May 3, 2016: Queensland University of Technology

QUT has developed a new blackspot identification method that offers an unbiased prediction of crash counts and allows a more accurate way to identify high-risk crash sites.

Amir Pooyan Afghari, from QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty, said the blackspot program aimed to reduce crashes by targeting high-risk locations and funding remedial works such as re-aligning the geometry or widening the shoulder of the road.

However, Mr Afghari said current methods of identifying crash blackspots failed to fully take into account the three potential sources of crash contributing factors -- geometrical characteristics of the road, spatial features of the surrounding environment, and driver behaviourial factors, when determining high-risk sites.

"Instead of acknowledging these three distinct sources of crash causal factors, current blackspot identification methods are based on the fundamental assumption that crashes are the result of a single, risk-generating process," Mr Afghari said.

"Research has shown around 70 per cent of crashes are caused by driver behaviour, while another 10 per cent are the result of the spatial features of the surrounding environment such as climatic conditions or proximity to schools, which leaves just 20 per cent caused by engineering factors.

"If transport agencies are treating blackspots with an engineering solution when the predominant cause of the crash is driver error or the environment, then this may ultimately lead to a waste of public funds and the misidentification of true black spots."

As part of Mr Afghari's study, crash data from Queensland's state-controlled roads were run through the QUT blackspot identification model known as the Bayesian latent class model.

"Instead of considering a single crash risk, the QUT model analysed multiple crash risk processes and the result was the identification of an additional 321 crash counts in the top 20 high-risk sites," he said.

"For example, if a driver enters a curve at high speed (higher than the speed limit), then hits a kangaroo and then it starts to rain, the current method doesn't individually acknowledge the three contributing factors causing the crash.

"The end result may be an engineering solution that seeks to fix the road condition that won't necessarily remedy the environmental factor or driver behaviour (in this case, speeding) that led to the crash.

"What we found was that the prediction ability and accuracy of our model and the overall ability to detect crash blackspots was improved when two distinct contributing factors, the roadway geometry and the environment were taken into account."

Mr Afghari said the next step of the project would be to incorporate the third risk generating process -- driver behavioural factors -- into the modelling and take a closer look at Queensland's top 20 blackspots and identify whether they were true blackspots that could be fixed with a road engineering solution.

"Ultimately we want to spend public funds wisely on engineering solutions only when an engineering solution is required.

"If driver behaviour or environmental factors are contributing factors, then we need to spend or divert money to strategies that address those issues."

Mr Afghari's research received international recognition when it was selected from more than 5000 papers to receive the Outstanding Paper award by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in the United States.

The paper will be published by the Transportation Research Record journal.

The QUT blackspot identification model was developed by Amir Pooyan Afghari, Professor Simon Washington, Dr Mazharul Haque and Dr Tanya Smyth and the research is supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grant program.

Afghari, Amir Pooyan, Haque, Md. Mazharul, Washington, Simon, & Smyth, Tanya L. A Bayesian latent class safety performance function for identifying motor vehicle crash blackspots. Transportation Research Record, 2016

Finalists revealed for Western Sydney University’s Sculpture Award and Exhibition

May 3, 2016

A 56-kilogram deer being pursued by a tiger and a two-and-a-half metre sandstone structure symbolising the perils of short term politics are just two of the stunning artworks announced as finalists in the Western Sydney University Sculpture Award and Exhibition for 2016.

In total there are 17 Australian and international works that will feature as part of this year's exhibition, which begins on Friday 6 May at the University's Campbelltown campus and can be viewed online via a virtual tour

University Art Curator, Ms Monica McMahon, says the Awards have attracted a stellar field of artists and artworks this year.

"The Sculpture Award and Exhibition continues to go from strength to strength, and we are seeing more and more entries from artists not only from around Australia but also from overseas," says Ms McMahon.

"Outdoor exhibitions are unique, in that they require a sculptor to take the viewer on a journey befitting the environment the artwork is set in.

"All artists have specifically designed their pieces to suit the picturesque rolling hills, lakes, woodlands and open spaces of the Campbelltown Campus. I think visitors to this year's exhibition will be suitably impressed."

A panel of judges will decide the category winners for the Western Sydney University Acquisitive prize, valued up to $30,000, and the Janice Reid Emerging Artist Award, valued at $5,000.

During the exhibition, visitors will also be asked to vote for their favourite sculpture, as part of the UrbanGrowth People's Choice Award. The winning artist will also receive $5,000.

The winner of the Western Sydney University Acquisitive prize will be permanently installed at the Campbelltown Campus, joining previous winning sculptures.

The exhibition is open to the community and runs until 5 June.Visitors are welcome to stroll through the campus parklands – even bring a picnic.

Tours and education kits for school groups can also be arranged. 

What:  Western Sydney University 2016 Sculpture Award and Exhibition

Where: Campbelltown Campus, Narellan Road, Campbelltown

When: Official Opening Friday 6 May (2:00pm – 4:30pm)                   Exhibition runs until 5 June 2016

Hours:  Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm. Saturday to Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm

Parking: $7.00 Monday – Friday and Free Saturday - Sunday

UNSW announces new leadership role for award-winning scientist Emma Johnston

May 2, 2016: UNSW – Denise Knight

Emma at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Chowder Bay. Photo: Dan White

UNSW has announced the appointment of Professor Emma Johnston as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research).

A leading authority in marine ecology, Professor Johnston comes to the role with an exceptional research career. As well as heading up the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab at UNSW, Professor Johnston has led more than 20 major research projects for industry, government, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Antarctic Science Program.

In 2012, Professor Johnston was appointed the inaugural director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, where she works with 35 scientists to better understand the threats to Sydney’s prized natural harbour, and helps devise more sustainable management practices.

Professor Johnston is a high-profile science communicator, winning the 2015 Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research. She is a regular media commentator and, as co-presenter for the Foxtel/BBC television series, Coast Australia, has helped take Australian marine science to an international audience.

“This is a very exciting appointment for UNSW and much deserved recognition for one our most outstanding researchers,” President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said.

“As a leading authority in her field and a skilled communicator, Emma is engaging government and industry to influence policy. She is also an effective advocate for gender equity in science.

“In her new role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Emma will play a key role as part of the UNSW Executive Team delivering on our ambitious 2025 Strategy.”

Professor Johnston said she was thrilled to take up the position.

“UNSW is a great university and we have a strong vision for the future. As Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), I look forward to contributing to the further advancement of UNSW's academic excellence, social engagement and global impact.”

An Australia Research Fellow from 2010-2014, Professor Johnston studied science at the University of Melbourne, graduating with a PhD in 2002. Her research has been recognised with numerous awards, including the inaugural 2014 Australian Academy of Science Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science, the 2012 NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Biological Sciences and the Hynes Award from the Canadian Rivers Institute (2016). She is currently Vice-President of Science & Technology Australia.

Professor Johnston replaces Professor Brian Boyle who is acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). She takes up her role later this month.

Responsibly investing in education

Tuesday 3 May 2016 Joint Media Release: Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training; Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, Minister for Vocational Education and Skills; Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Tourism and International Education, Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment

The Turnbull Government is continuing to provide record levels of financial assistance to State and Territory government schools and the non-government schools sector to support all Australian students.

The Turnbull Government’s investment in education, training and child care will increase to more than $41.8 billion in 2016-17.

A well-educated nation will increase productivity, drive innovation and support our transition to a stronger and more diversified economy.

The 2016-17 Budget is focused on improving student outcomes in literacy, numeracy and STEM subjects; teacher quality reforms; delivering more support for students with disability; improving our attractiveness as an education destination for international students; and assuring the quality, reputation and affordability of our higher education system.

Every Commonwealth dollar for education and child care will be invested according to evidence and core, robust and proven ways of improving outcomes for students.

The Turnbull Government’s new measures will ensure this and future generations of children and students are learning the skills they need for the jobs of the future as the economy transitions from one built on the mining and construction industries, to one built on minds. We are committed to reforming the higher education sector to enshrine equitable access, achieve budget sustainability and ensure high quality and we are committed to reforming the early childhood education and care sector so Australians can receive more affordable, accessible and fairer support for their young families.

Investment in Education and Training

Our total investment in Education and Training for 2016-17 is more than $41.8 billion, representing an overall net increase of 6.1 per cent, including:

• $8.6 billion for early education and care – a 9.6 per cent increase

• $17.6 billion for schools – an 8.0 per cent increase

• $12.3 billion for higher education – a 0.9 per cent increase

• $3.3 billion for skills – a 7.7 per cent increase

Our plans

The Turnbull Government has committed to the most significant package of education quality reforms in a generation to drive excellence in Australia’s school students as part of its $73.6 billion student achievement plan. We will invest an additional $1.2 billion from 2018 to 2020, lifting recurrent school funding from $16.0 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020 that will be tied to a needs-based distribution of funding and reforms in our schools to help every parent have confidence that their child is receiving the teaching they require.

Our student achievement plan emphasises the importance of literacy and numeracy, quality teaching and teachers, engagement with science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects and greater interest in foreign languages and the international community. The Turnbull Government knows that every tax dollar paid by hardworking Australians needs to be used as effectively as possible and our reforms will seek to ensure this occurs in our schools so that students receive the quality outcomes they need to secure jobs in our new economy.

Distribution of schools funding will be needs-based and we are committed to fairness and equity as core values across all parts of our education system. That’s why we have committed an additional $118.2 million over 2016 and 2017 to increase the support for students with disability, ahead of new funding distribution models commencing in 2018. The funding will be targeted to those schools and students with the highest needs and for the first time ever is informed by the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability.

Further, from 1 July 2016, the new $543 million Inclusion Support Programme will assist child care services to improve their capacity and capability to provide inclusive practices and address barriers to participation for children with additional needs, particularly children with disability. A list of organisations which have accepted an offer to deliver the new ISP is now available on the department’s website. The department is negotiating and finalising contracts with these organisations so there is no gap in ISP delivery.

In addition, the Turnbull Government will deliver $10 million a year from July 2016 for two years to pilot integrating child care, maternal and child health and family support services in a number of Indigenous communities experiencing disadvantage, as recommended by Andrew Forrest in his review, Creating Parity.

We will invest $41.8 billion over the next four years to make our child care system simpler, more flexible, more affordable, accessible and targeted to those who need it most. That includes a $184.5 million commitment to the Nanny Pilot Programme to assist families who cannot easily access mainstream services.

Following the successful trial of the preschool languages programme Early Learning Languages Australia, from 2017 the initiative will be expanded into a nation-wide rollout. Through an extra $5.9 million, the Turnbull Government will deliver the programme to all preschool services nationally. That includes focused support for preschools and children from low socio-economic areas to purchase tablets so they can participate in the programme.

It is also essential that all Australian children are ready for life beyond school classrooms. We want our higher education institutions to deliver the innovative courses students want, and produce the skilled graduates Australia needs for the jobs of the 21st century and for the growth of our economy. This means encouraging them to innovate, differentiate and collaborate.

The Turnbull Government will ensure high-quality education starts from a young age, that children have access to a quality learning experience and that there is strong support for parents who want or need to work, or who want to work more. Labor continues to stand in the way of the savings to pay for our childcare reforms, in favour of imposing higher fees on families and increasing costs for taxpayers.

We are strongly committed to our Jobs for Families package but we have been forced to defer its start date for 12 months to July 2018 due to Labor’s failure to support the necessary offsetting savings in time for its effective implementation.

The costs to taxpayers of higher education, have, over recent years, grown dramatically. Since 2009, with the demand driven system, taxpayer funding for Commonwealth supported places in higher education has increased by 69 per cent as compared to 29 per cent growth in nominal GDP over the same period of time. Funding of university students has, essentially, grown at twice the rate of the economy.

While we will invest $49.4 billion in Australian higher education and research over the next four years, today we have released the next step in our moves to ensure higher education continues to support equitable access, excellence and innovation while also ensuring that the system is sustainable for this and future generations of students. Our paper, ‘Driving innovation, fairness and excellence in Australian higher education’, will ensure there is a reasoned and evidence-driven discussion on higher education reform, without full university fee deregulation. To allow for finalisation of reform details and further input from the sector, experts and students, higher education reforms will not commence until 1 January 2018.

This Budget also confirms our support for Australia’s world-class researchers through the National Innovation and Science Agenda. That support includes $1.5 billion worth of annual indexed funding over ten years from 2017-18 for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and an additional $180.2 million of new Research Support and Research Training Programmes, in total worth more than $1.9 billion in 2017.

The Turnbull Government is investing an additional $8.1 million to improve the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website to help students make better-informed decisions about what courses and further education they will study. That is in addition to another $10.1 million for the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency to boost their capacity to assure the quality of our higher education system.

International education is worth more than $19 billion to our economy and supports more than 130,000 jobs. We want to ensure Australia maintains and grows its reputation as a destination of choice for international students and as a preferred provider of international education services throughout the world. We have committed $12.0 million over four years to implement our National Strategy for International Education that will strengthen Australia’s position as a world leader in this sector. International education is a sector that has boomed under the Coalition’s leadership, growing at an average 11.5 per cent compared to 3.58 per cent during Labor’s time in government, even going backwards in 2009-10 by 4.7 per cent and 2010-11 by 5.2 per cent.

In 2016-17 the Turnbull Government will commit around $7 billion on vocational education and training through funding and student loans. The Government has acted to improve protection for students and address unscrupulous behaviour and practices in the VET FEE-HELP scheme. The previous Labor government expanded the VET FEE-HELP scheme in 2012 but failed to include sufficient safeguards against dishonest providers. The Coalition has introduced measures to both protect students and taxpayers and in April released a discussion paper to inform the redesign of the scheme for 2017.

As we offer better education and training support for all Australians, the Turnbull Government will protect the cultural heritage and knowledge of Indigenous Australians. We have committed an additional $10.0 million in annual funding for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to help add to, preserve and promote its collection of more than one million historical and cultural items.

We want to ensure Australia has a fair, equitable and high-performing education system – from the high chair to higher education.

The Turnbull Government will ensure Australia’s education system delivers quality services that focus on excellent outcomes for students and the wider community. 

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