June 13 - 19, 2021: Issue 498

Our Youth page is for young people aged 13+ - if you are younger than this we have news for you in the Children's pageNews items and articles run at the top of this page. Information, local resources, events and local organisations, sports groups etc. are at the base of this page. All Previous pages for you are listed in Past Features

Local Opportunities: Youth Advisory Group + Plan and run a youth event

Council are currently seeking people for their Youth Advisory Group. They want to hear from young people aged 12 - 21 to help shape the future of our area.

You can be the voice of youth programs, events and services and tell them what’s important to you. You will meet new like-minded friends and bring your ideas to life, encouraging positive change in your community and amongst peers.

Upskill yourself and enjoy benefits like free entry to youth events including band nights. You will attend monthly meetings and have access to various training throughout the year. 
Read the Terms of Reference and Complete your details on the Application Form by Sunday 27 June 2021.

Council are also looking for young people aged 15 to 25 years old to participate in an exciting new youth event. Through a series of workshops run by industry professionals, you will have the opportunity to develop skills in project management and event planning. Then it's all up to you! In teams, you will plan, organise and run an event for youth on the Northern Beaches. 

This is your chance to make a difference in your local community, meet new people and learn valuable job-ready skills. If you have any questions about the project, please contact the library. 

Expressions of interest close Sunday 27 June. Please note, you must live, work or go to school/educational institution on the Northern Beaches. 

NSW Young Environmental Citizens of the Year

June 10, 2021
A Year 7 support unit class has shown the power of collaboration after winning a NSW environment award. The support unit class at Coonabarabran High School has been awarded the prestigious title of NSW Young Environmental Citizens of the Year.

The award was announced by NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean on the weekend to coincide with World Environment Day.

The Coonabarabran High School D7 Support Unit Class’ was acknowledged for its environmental leadership in developing eco-sustainability programs and its significant contributions to the school’s Return and Earn program.

It is the second award the students have received this year after they were honoured during the Warrumbungle Shire Council Australia Day ceremony with the Young Environmental Citizen of the Year Award.

Mr Kean said the students at Coonabarabran High were “making a real difference in their local communities and setting an important example for others to follow”.

“The youngsters are an inspiration to all schools around the state,” Mr Kean said.

Head teacher, Support Unit Sharon Rankmore said the students had been recognised at the school's assembly this week to mark their achievements.

“We are so proud our students,” she said. “Their leadership has been a true positive in our school.

“This award is a significant achievement for the class because it reinforces to them their potential and the power of collaborative action.”

Mrs Rankmore said the recycling program started when the Coonabarabran High School Support Unit was first opened in 2005.

It involved students entering classrooms to collect the recycling boxes and transferring the contents to the collection centre.

The program was expanded in 2019 across the three support unit classes when eco-sustainability units were integrated into the Support Unit’s Science program with the help of a grant that led to the establishment of a learning garden.

Mrs Rankmore said they would use the award winnings to “grow’ the recycling program to include composting food scraps from recess and lunch.

This would be used in the food gardens the students maintained for their food technology classes.

“It's gratifying to know that a small group of students with disabilities in a small, rural NSW town are recognised for contributing to the health of the planet,” Mrs Rankmore said.

“This award will highlight the great learning that occurs in NSW public schools and in particular how we strive to ensure that our environments are inclusive of all students.

“For our community this recognition will certainly enhance the self-esteem of all involved - students, staff, and their families.”​

Past and present students who have been a part of the recycling program, from left: Aurora Price, School Learning Support Officer Venessa Houley, Alex Park, Tabitha Ward, Will Turner, Randall Rumbel and Chloe Snape.
Dolphin in Pittwater; randomly placed in your page this week for no apparent reason other than providing you with 3 seconds of 'oh, lovely, a dolphin!'. AJG photo.
Legends of the cold; check out these wonderful human beings, in shorts and on duty at Orange this week - so, if you thought it was slightly like Tasmania here this week, it was even more so in our western rural areas of the state. image by and courtesy NSW Police (photo) on Facebook. A great reminder that if you're having problems, the police are your mates!

The caption that went with this was; ''This local was a bit frosty, but soon warmed up once we got him a scarf and coffee. #snowpatrol''. 

Council among those to Showcase local acts on Make Music Day

June 9, 2021
Six grant recipients will receive a share of $90,000 in funding from the NSW Government to stage free live music events throughout the state as part of the annual global event, Make Music Day.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes congratulated the successful funding recipients who will each receive $15,000 which can be used to help fund live music events.

On June 20 and 21, public spaces across the state will come alive, showcasing great local talent with live performances,” Mr Stokes said.

“We know that the live music industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic and we’re keen to support them by using our public spaces for this series of free performances.”

The successful applicants are:
  • Northern Beaches Council - 50 musicians performing 45-minute sets across four locations including the Manly Corso, Berry Markets at Narrabeen Lagoon and Mona Vale Village Park and Dee Why Town Centre.
  • City of Parramatta Council and Sydney Olympic Park Authority - events in multiple public spaces including Parramatta Square, Cathy Freeman Park, Jacaranda Square, The Abattoir Heritage Precinct, Epping Railway Station and more, featuring 30 acts from Western Sydney’s live music scene;
  • Yours and Owls Event - Wollongong’s Globe Lane will be transformed to present Full Set Fest, to showcase grassroots and promising artists in the Illawarra;
  • Lisa Farrawell - in a First Nations-led initiative, local musicians will perform live on an outdoor stage for the Crescent Head community;
  • Blacklight Collective - for a one-day pop-up program in Coffs Harbour featuring dozens of local artists performing electronica, contemporary, Indian classical, percussion, jazz and more; and
  • Leeton Shire Council – for two acts including a soul, afrobeat and electronic artists to the Leeton Skate Park
Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said the funding was a fantastic opportunity to support local artists after the music sector was hit hard by COVID-19.

“Make Music Day recognises the joy that music brings to our lives,” Mr Harwin said.

“We are proud to invest in this initiative which celebrates our local musicians and enables them to showcase their talents and share their sounds as part of this free world-wide music extravaganza.”

Make Music Day is part of the NSW Government’s annual Festival of Place, which is a rolling program that highlights the importance and beauty of great public spaces and was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local events will occur on Sunday June 20th from 10am to 4pm.

Mona Vale Village Park - one venue for Make Music Day 2021

Danica's Career Sets Sail Thanks to TAFE NSW

June 11, 2021
A Double Bay local, originally from Serbia, has credited TAFE NSW with helping her to land a dream job at a at an iconic local sailing club, with plans to open her own hospitality business one day. 

According to the ABS, women make up just 33 per cent of small business owners. 

After graduating from a Business and Law degree in her home country, 26-year-old Danica Milosavljevic studied a Certificate IV in New Small Business and a Diploma of Business at TAFE NSW Ultimo. She is now studying an Advanced Diploma of Business while working as an Assistant Bar Manager at Australian 18 Footers in Double Bay. 

“When I arrived in Australia, I was looking to gain practical skills and the TAFE NSW course has been perfect for me. It’s given me the skills and confidence to excel in my current position and hopefully open my own health food bar or café one day,” Ms Milosavljevic said. 

“I’ve enjoyed gaining hands on skills which can be applied to a variety of different industries and roles, and the knowledge, support, and guidance teachers like Frank Cremona provided me, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown, was invaluable.” 

Acting Head Teacher of Business Frank Cremona said Danica is an exceptional student with a thirst for knowledge. 

“Danica approaches all of her work with positivity and through her studies at TAFE NSW she is now equipped with job-ready skills which will no doubt serve her well in her future endeavours. She has a bright future ahead of her,” Mr Cremona said. 

“TAFE NSW courses in Business are perfect for students like Danica who are looking to grow their technical and interpersonal skills and strengthen their knowledge of managing systems, budgets, business strategy, operational execution, effective team management, and marketing,” Mr Cremona said. 

To find out more about studying business courses at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit tafensw.edu.au.  

Sound Education leads to Blockbuster Career

June 11, 2021
Meadowbank local Peter Climpson has hit the big time and found his dream gig – supporting the NSW film industry boom as an audio engineer on feature films and lifestyle and reality television.

After school, Mr Climpson wasn’t sure what he wanted to do but when his mum suggested he try the Certificate IV in Screen and Media (Television) at TAFE NSW he was keen to give it a go.

“It wasn’t until I arrived that I realised the TAFE NSW St Leonards television production studios had just had a six-million-dollar upgrade and now had better facilities than most television studios in Sydney,” Mr Climpson said.

“I quickly realised how close the teachers were to the industry, many were part time teachers still actively working and practising their craft in the film and television industry. You can’t buy the connections I made at TAFE NSW.”

Mr Climpson completed the Certificate IV in Screen and Media (Television) before continuing his studies with a Diploma of Music Industry (Sound Production) to consolidate his skills. Peter’s teacher Peter Gage said it’s a great time to be working in post-production as big-budget international blockbusters shooting in Australia are forecast to continue being a significant source of demand for local firms.

“The current film and television industry boom in NSW is driving up demand for skilled workers in the creative industries and creating opportunities for sound engineers and technicians,” Mr Gage said.

“The NSW Government has injected $175 million into the sector through the Made in NSW fund to support the attraction to NSW of significant international and domestic feature film and major TV drama productions.

“It’s a really exciting time to be in the industry and I encourage anyone considering a career in film or television to take a look at the range of courses on offer at TAFE NSW and let us help you get your foot in the door.”

In 2019 Mr Climpson worked on the feature film ‘Outback’ as Sound Designer, which was sold to Lionsgate and is currently streaming on Stan. He will soon complete work on another highly anticipated feature film - ‘Risen’. 

Mr Climpson says TAFE NSW was pivotal in helping him get his start in the industry, paired with a strong work ethic and dedication to the craft.

“The hands-on training at TAFE NSW was a significant draw card, there’s really no other way to learn what we do, than to do it.

“One of the best things I did while I was at TAFE NSW was work experience during the holiday breaks. This was a massive advantage because by the end of my course I had already had some experience, which was a lot more than what most other people who graduated in my year did.

“I think anyone considering studying at TAFE NSW should take it very seriously. You’ll get more out of the experience if you go all in and really apply yourself. Everything I know has come from someone else and it’s a gift when someone passes on that knowledge and advice.”

To find out more about the range of courses available at TAFE NSW including the Certificate IV in Screen and Media, visit www.tafensw.edu.au or call 131 601.

Helena's on her way to a Ferry Impressive Career

June 8, 2021
With Australia relying on sea transport for 99% of exports and Newcastle being the world's largest coal export port, it makes sense that TAFE NSW Newcastle offers a wide range of maritime courses.

A former Web Manager is well on her way to becoming a fully qualified Chief Mate with the skills required to safely manage and operate any type of merchant ship thanks to TAFE NSW.

Helena de Carlos is studying a Bachelor of Applied Science (Nautical Science) after starting her career as the Web Manager at Greenpeace, where she was given the opportunity to join a ship to Papua New Guinea to advocate for Forest Action.

After a taste of life on the water Helena took some time off and hitchhiked around on boats in the Caribbean to get some seafaring experience.

“I volunteered as a Deckhand at Greenpeace and decided a life at sea is what I love so I’m now working towards a qualification as Chief Mate.

“Working on ships is an adventure, I have been able to tick off everything on my bucket list. Some of my favourites have been the Arctic Circle, Antarctica, the Amazon and Rio. I’d encourage anyone who has an interest in maritime to start with a Certificate I in Maritime Operations at TAFE NSW and I guarantee they’ll be hooked.”

TAFE NSW Newcastle Head Maritime Studies teacher Carmen Blanco, who has spent 30 years at sea and ashore in the Australian Maritime Industry, said career seafarers travel from across the globe to our doorstep to earn specialised maritime certifications such as Chief Mate, Master and Watchkeeper Deck.

“Many don’t realise TAFE NSW Newcastle is the only East Coast provider of the world’s highest seafarer qualification. The training students receive locally is recognised internationally as best-in-class. TAFE NSW is well known globally for our high quality teachers, facilities and technology,” said Captain Blanco.

“Our maritime studies qualifications, offered in partnership with the University of Tasmania, are recognised internationally and enjoy a solid reputation for authenticity. This is something several other countries cannot attest to; many seafarers find their qualifications aren’t recognised outside their own country so they need to become certified elsewhere.”

Australia’s largest training provider, TAFE NSW offers over 1200 courses, from certificates to degrees. Many can be studied online via TAFE Digital, when and where it suits. Visit www.tafensw.com.au or call 131 601. 

Night Drive for Learners

Do you know a learner driver who would benefit from this program? 
The first Tuesday of every month officers from the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command - NSW Police Force, with members of  Fire and Rescue NSW, take part in Night Drive for Learners. A free program hosted by Australian Racing Drivers' Club and Driving Solutions.

The free program gives learner drivers the opportunity to build confidence in their driving by having 2 hours of free driving around the track at Sydney Motorsport Park. 

As a value add officers setup a mock RBT site where drivers can practice driving through the site and the drivers and their supervisors can ask questions of the officers. Fire and Rescue NSW drive around the track with the learners, randomly engaging their lights and sirens. 

Photo: NSW Police Force

Karuah Mother Tour

Karuah is the new project from James Lange, an Avalon Beach raised, northern rivers based up and coming artist.

Karuah began writing and performing since the age of 13 and over the years has shared the stage with the likes of Angus and Julia Stone, Ocean Alley, Lime Cordiale, The Rubens, Kyle Lionhart, Iluka and The Veronicas, to name a few. Mainly performing to small intimate audiences where the listener can truly ‘drop in’, Karuah has headlined tours of Australia with his previous releases ‘Wildplum’ and ‘Insight’. 
Karuah has also supported Kyle Lionhart for his ’So Close’ tour in 2019, and has made the stage at Bluesfest 2019 and South Coast Soul Fest 2018/19. 

James is currently undertaking his Mother Tour and will be in his home town at the end of this month to support the release of his first single Mother from his debut album. Mother was written during Australia’s Fight For the Bight campaigns in late 2019, and so contains underlying notes of activism and empowerment. Expanding on his coined genre ‘Ethereal Folk’ Karuah indulges the listener through an almost meditative journey with hints of Bon Iver, Ry X and Ben Howard.

Karuah - Mother Tour - Avalon Beach
Fri., 25 June 2021: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Avalon Baptist Church, 2 George Street, Avalon Beach

Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Competition 2021 Entries Now Open


''Our poets are encouraged to take inspiration from wherever they may find it, however if they are looking for some direction, competition participants are invited to use this year's optional theme to inspire their entries."

In 2021, the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society has chosen the theme “Rich and Rare.” As always, it is an optional theme, so please write about whatever topic sparks your poetic genius.

For a copy of the wonderful theme poster, please click here.


*PLEASE NOTE: If you're registering as an individual student, put your HOME address in your personal details and not your SCHOOL'S address! The address you list is where your participation certificate will be posted!*


(primary school and secondary school, anytime during the competition period)

Teacher/parent - registration completed online (invoice will be emailed within 2 weeks of registration)

Log in to your page.

Enter student details and submit poem(s) (cut and paste or type in poem content direct to the webpage) PLEASE DO NOT UPLOAD POEMS AS ATTACHMENTS AS THAT FUNCTION IS FOR POSTAL ENTRIES ONLY.

Repeat step 3 for every student/individual poem.



Have a read of the judges' reports from the previous year. They contain some very helpful advice for teachers and parents alike!

It is recommended for schools to appoint a coordinator for the competition.

Only a teacher/parent can complete the registration form on behalf of the student/child.

Log-in details: username is the email address and a password of your choice.

Log-in details can be given to other teachers/students for poem submission in class/at home.

Log-in as many times as necessary during the competition period.

Teachers can view progress by monitoring the number and content of entries.

Individual entries are accepted if the school is not participating or a child is home schooled. Parent needs to complete the registration form with their contact details. Please indicate 'individual entry' under school name and home postal address under school address.

Invoice for the entry fee will be sent to the registered email address within 2 weeks.

‘Participation certificate only’ option available for schools where pre-selection of entries has been carried out. Poems under this option will not be sent to judges, students will still receive participation certificate for their efforts.

Please read the Conditions of Entry before entering. Entries accepted: March 1 to June 30, results announced during early September.

Visit: https://www.dorothea.com.au/How-to-Enter-awards

Moved by words: how poetry helps us express our feelings

Patrick Semansky/AAP
Maria Takolander, Deakin University

Poetry has made something of a comeback in popular culture, thanks to America’s Amanda Gorman, who read her performance poems at a presidential inauguration and this year’s Super Bowl. Gorman has been described as bringing poetry to the masses.

However, when it comes to the mainstream, poetry has long been hiding in plain sight. Gorman’s spoken-word performances, which have been compared to hip hop, drew attention to poetry in music lyrics. But poetry is also visible in movies and on TV.

These media representations are interesting because they show how poetry is popularly understood in connection with feelings. And that popular wisdom chimes with findings in cognitive neuroscience about how language and, by extension, poetry work.

Read more: Ode to the poem: why memorising poetry still matters for human connection

Aside from films or TV series about poets, such as Dickinson or Paterson, poetry makes a cameo in some of our most iconic films, where it is said to represent or intensify a range of emotions. These include love (Before Sunrise), mad ambition (Citizen Kane), nostalgic patriotism (Skyfall), pride (Invictus), nihilism (Apocalypse Now) and trauma (The Piano).

Poetry, representative of emotion, is also frequently used to symbolise humanity. This is particularly apparent in films about clones.

In the Tom Cruise blockbuster Oblivion, when the clone Jack Harper recites a poem from Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome this reinforces his legitimacy. In Blade Runner, Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty misquotes William Blake:

Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc.

What emerges from poetry’s onscreen appearances, then, is a popular understanding of it as an expression of human feeling and evidence of genuine humanity.

Cognitive neuroscience

This intuitive understanding of poetry resonates with findings in cognitive neuroscience. Leaving behind theories of the brain that suggest it operates like a computer and theories of language that focus on “mental grammar”, many scientists now acknowledge the body and emotion as the foundations of both cognition and speech.

Of particular interest is the role of mirror neurons. These brain cells fire when an action is observed or performed, and they tell us a lot about how we understand the actions of others. They suggest understanding comes from a mirroring or imitation that takes place in the brain but is acted out or felt in the body.

An example is the contagious effect of a smile. When we observe someone smiling, we mirror that action to understand it.

Something similar happens when understanding language. Words contagiously move us. As neuroscientist Christian Keysers explains in The Empathic Brain, if you hear or read the word “lick”, the part of your brain that moves your mouth is activated to aid understanding. The same happens if you hear or read the word “kick”. As a result, we feel the meaning of these words in our bodies.

What about producing words? Speech is fundamentally a motor activity, which evolved from gesture. We are moved to speak, and we literally move — our lips, our tongue, our lungs, our stomach muscles, and often even our hands — to express ourselves.

As infants, we begin learning language in interaction with a caregiver, imitating the shapes of their mouth, and waving our arms and legs in excitement and frustration at the repetitive noises they make, until eventually we are able to imitate their sounds. Those sounds are accompanied by feelings, related most strongly to a desire to communicate beyond the boundaries of ourselves.

Of course, language develops into a more abstract system for communication. It can often remain a struggle, however, to give expression to feelings that are powerfully felt in the body, such as loneliness or grief or trauma. As John Hannah’s character says in Four Weddings and a Funeral, when trying to articulate his feelings about his dead partner, “Unfortunately there I run out of words”.

Read more: On poetry and pain

Rhymes and rhythms

This is where poetry comes in, making use of the rhymes and rhythms that have helped us find speech from infancy, calling attention to the auditory qualities of language to convey meaning through feeling.

If we can’t do it ourselves, we quote someone else’s words, instinctively and ritualistically associating poetry with the expression of emotion.

This link to emotion, as well as child-like speech, undoubtedly goes some way to explaining another popular idea about poetry: that it signals “madness”. Biopics of poets feed this stereotype by overwhelmingly choosing poets with mental illnesses as their subjects — for instance, Sylvia and Pandaemonium, portraits of Sylvia Plath and Samuel Taylor Coleridge respectively.

However, cognitive neuroscience — and popular wisdom — suggest poetry actually exemplifies an important truth about language and human nature.

While poetry is regularly denounced for “not making sense”, our cognition and our language do not arise according to purely rational principles.

We are bodies wrought by feeling. Robin Williams’ character simplifies this truth in Dead Poets Society:

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.The Conversation

Maria Takolander, Associate Professor in Creative Writing and Literary Studies, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Introducing Australotitan: Australia's largest dinosaur yet spanned the length of 2 buses

Vlad Konstantinov, Scott Hocknull, Eromanga Natural History Museum, Author provided
Scott Hocknull, The University of Melbourne

Today, a new Aussie dinosaur is being welcomed into the fold. Our study published in the journal PeerJ documents Australotitan cooperensis – Australia’s largest dinosaur species ever discovered, and the largest land-dwelling species to have walked the outback.

Australotitan, or the “southern titan”, was a massive long-necked titanosaurian sauropod estimated to have reached 25–30 metres in length and 5–6.5m in height. It weighed the equivalent of 1,400 red kangaroos.

It lived in southwest Queensland between 92–96 million years ago, when Australia was attached to Antarctica, and the last vestiges of a once-great inland sea had disappeared.

The discovery of Australotitan is a major new addition to the “terrible lizards” of Oz.

Meet Australotitan, Australia’s largest dinosaur species. (Eromanga Natural History Museum / enhm.com.au )

Like finding needles in haystack

Finding dinosaurs in Australia has been labelled an incredibly difficult task.

In outback Queensland, dinosaur sites are featureless plains. Compare that to many sites overseas, where mountain ranges, deep canyons or exposed badlands of heavily-eroded terrain can help reveal the ancient layers of preserved fossilised bones.

An Australian dinosaur site (right) compared to the dinosaur-rich badlands of Canada (left).

Today, the area where Australotitan lived is oil, gas and grazing country. Our study represents the first major step in documenting the dinosaurs from this fossil field.

Australotitan cooperensis was the largest dinosaur species to have walked outback Australia.

The first bones of Australotitan were excavated in 2006 and 2007 by Queensland Museum and Eromanga Natural History Museum palaeontologists and volunteers. We nicknamed this individual “Cooper” after the nearby freshwater lifeline, Cooper Creek.

After the excavation, we embarked on the long and painstaking removal of the rock that entombed Cooper’s bones. This was necessary for us to properly identify and compare each bone.

Excavating one of Cooper’s six pelvic bones, the left pubis. S. Hocknull, Queensland Museum & Eromanga Natural History Museum

Thousands of kilograms bones in a backpack

We needed to compare Cooper’s bones to all other species of sauropod dinosaur known from both Australia and overseas, to confirm our suspicions of a new species.

But travelling from collection to collection at various museums to compare hundreds of kilograms of fragile dinosaur bones was simply not possible. So instead, we used 3D digital scanning technology which allowed us to virtually carry thousands of kilograms of dinosaur bones in one seven kilogram laptop.

These kinds of research projects have created a new opportunity for museums and researchers to share their amazing collections globally, with researchers and the public.

From Dig to Digital Dinosaurs! 3D scanning technology allows researchers an unprecedented way to compare fossilised bones of enormous dinosaurs, and view these digital replicas virtually. S. Hocknull & R. Lawrence, Queensland Museum

And thanks to two decades of effort by palaeontologists, citizen scientists, regional not-for-profit museums and local landowners, there has been a recent boom in Australian dinosaur discoveries.

Read more: Fat-footed tyrannosaur parents couldn’t keep up with their skinnier offspring, fossil footprints reveal

We are family

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found all four of the sauropod dinosaurs that lived in Australia between 96-92 million years ago (including Australotitan) were more closely related to one another than they were to other dinosaurs found elsewhere.

However, we couldn’t conclusively place any of these four related species together in the same place at the same time. This means they could have evolved through time to occupy very different habitats. It’s even possible they never met.

The Aussie species share relations with titanosaurians from both South America and Asia, suggesting they dispersed from South America (via Antarctica) during periods of global warmth.

Or, they may have island-hopped across ancient island archipelagos, which would eventually make up the present-day terrains of Southeast Asia and the Philippines.

Meet the Eromanga sauropods. Green bones represent what parts of the skeleton have so far been discovered. S. Hocknull, Queensland Museum

Trampling through the Cretaceous

Digitally capturing gigantic sauropod bones and fossil sites in 3D has led to some remarkable discoveries. Several of Cooper’s bones were found to be crushed by the footsteps of other sauropod dinosaurs.

What’s more, during Cooper’s excavation we uncovered another smaller sauropod skeleton — possibly a smaller Australotitan — trampled into a nearly 100m-long rock feature. We interpreted this to be a trample zone: an area of mud compressed under foot by massive sauropods as they moved along a pathway, or at the edge of a waterhole.

A sauropod trample zone (left) compared to a cattle trample (centre) and elephant trample (right). S. Hocknull & R. Lawrence, Queensland Museum & Eromanga Natural History Museum

Similar trampling features can be seen today around Australian billabongs, or waterholes in Africa where the largest plant-eaters, such as elephants and hippopotamuses, trample mud into a hard layer.

In the case of the hippopotamus, they cut channels through the mud to navigate between precious water and food sources. Life in Australia during the Cretaceous period can be pictured similarly, except super-sized.

In the present, out there in Australia’s dinosaur country, you might find yourself staring across a barren plain imagining what other secrets this world of long-lost giants will reveal.

Read more: Curious Kids: could dinosaurs evolve back into existence? The Conversation

Scott Hocknull, Senior Curator of Geosciences, Queensland Museum, and Honorary Research Fellow, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How an app to decrypt criminal messages was born 'over a few beers' with the FBI

David Tuffley, Griffith University

Australian and US law enforcement officials on Tuesday announced they’d sprung a trap three years in the making, catching major international crime figures using an encrypted app.

More than 200 underworld figures in Australia have been charged in what Australian Federal Police (AFP) say is their biggest-ever organised crime bust.

The operation, led by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), spanned Australia and 17 other countries. In Australia alone, more than 4,000 police officers were involved.

At the heart of the sting, dubbed Operation Ironside, was a type of “trojan horse” malware called AN0M, which was secretly incorporated into a messaging app. After criminals used the encrypted app, police decrypted their messages, which included plots to kill, mass drug trafficking and gun distribution.

graphic of padlock and tech symbols
Police used an encrypted app used by underworld figures to bust the crime network. Shutterstock

Millions of messages unscrambled

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the idea for AN0M emerged from informal discussions “over a few beers” between the AFP and FBI in 2018.

Platform developers had worked on the AN0M app, along with modified mobile devices, before law enforcement acquired it legally and adapted it for their use. The AFP say the developers weren’t aware of the intended use.

Once appropriated by law enforcement, AN0M was reportedly programmed with a secret “back door”, enabling them to access and decrypt messages in real time.

A “back door” is a software agent that circumvents normal access authentication. It allows remote access to private information in an application, without the “owner” of the information being aware.

So the users — in this case the crime figures — believed communication conducted via the app and smartphones was secure. Meanwhile, law enforcement could reportedly unscramble up to 25 million encrypted messages simultaneously.

But without this back door, strongly encrypted messages would be almost impossible to decrypt. That’s because decryption generally requires a computer to run through trillions of possibilities before hitting on the right code to unscramble a message. Only the most powerful computers can do this within a reasonable time frame.

Read more: Cryptology from the crypt: how I cracked a 70-year-old coded message from beyond the grave

Scott Morrison and police official stand at lecterns
Police programmed a secret ‘back door’ into the app to carry out the sting. Dean Lewins/AAP

Providers resist pressure for ‘back-door’ access

In the mainstream world of encrypted communication, the installation of “back-door” access by law enforcement has been strenuously resisted by app providers, including Facebook who owns WhatsApp.

In January 2020, Apple refused law enforcement’s request to unlock the Pensacola shooting suspect’s iPhone, following a deadly 2019 Florida attack which killed three people.

Apple, like Facebook, has long refused to allow back-door access, claiming it would undermine customer confidence. Such incidents highlight the struggle of balancing competing demands for user privacy with the imperative of preventing crime for the greater good.

Read more: Facebook is merging Messenger and Instagram chat features. It's for Zuckerberg's benefit, not yours

phone showing Apple and Facebook apps
Apple and Facebook have refused to allow back-door access, claiming it would undermine customer confidence. Shutterstock

Getting criminals to use AN0M

Once AN0M was developed and ready for use, law enforcement had to get it into the hands of criminal “underworld” figures.

To do so, undercover agents reportedly persuaded fugitive Australian drug trafficker Hakan Ayik to unwittingly champion the app to his associates. These associates were then be sold mobile devices pre-loaded with AN0M on the black market.

Purchase was only possible if referred through an existing user of the app, or by a distributor who could vouch for the potential customer as not working for law enforcement.

The AN0M-loaded mobiles — likely Android-powered smartphones — came with reduced functionality. They could do just three things: send and receive messages, make distorted voice calls and record videos — all of which was presumed to be encrypted by the users.

With time the AN0M phone increasingly became the device of choice for a significant number of criminal networks.

Police official points to screen showing phones and monitor
The AN0M-loaded devices were mobiles — likely Android-powered smartphones — but with reduced functionality. Dean Lewins/AAP

Building up a network picture

Since 2018, law enforcement agencies across 18 countries, including Australia, had been patiently listening to millions of conversations through their back-door control of the AN0M app.

Information was retrieved on all manner of illegal activities. This gradually enabled police to etch a detailed picture of various crime networks. Some of the footage and images retrieved have been cleared for public release.

One major challenge was for police to match overheard conversations with identities — as the AN0M phone could be purchased anonymously and paid for with Bitcoin (which allows secure transactions that can’t be traced). This may help explain why it took three years before police openly identified alleged perpetrators.

It’s likely the evidence obtained will be used in prosecutions now that a multitude of arrests have been made.

The future of encryption

Encryption technology is improving fast. It needs to — because computing power is also growing rapidly.

This means hackers are becoming increasingly capable of breaking encryption. Moreover, when quantum computers become available this problem will be further exacerbated, since they are massively more powerful than conventional computers today.

These developments will likely weaken the security of encrypted messaging apps used by law abiding people, including popular apps such as WhatsApp, LINE and Signal.

Strong encryption is an essential weapon in the cybersecurity arsenal and there are thousands of legitimate situations where it’s needed. It’s ironic then, that the technology intended by some to keep the public safe can also be leveraged by those with criminal intent.

Networks of organised crime have used these “legitmate” tools to conduct their business, secure in the knowledge that law enforcement can’t access their communications. Until AN0M, that is.

And while Operation Ironside may have sent a shiver through criminal subcultures operating around the world, these syndicates will likely develop their own countermeasures in this ongoing game of cat and mouse.

Read more: Seven ways the government can make Australians safer – without compromising online privacy The Conversation

David Tuffley, Senior Lecturer in Applied Ethics & CyberSecurity, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Proceed to your nearest (virtual) exit: gaming technology is teaching us how people respond to emergencies

Ruggiero Lovreglio, Massey University

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) aren’t just for gaming anymore, they’re also proving to be useful tools for disaster safety research. In fact, they could save lives.

Around the world, natural and human-made disasters such as earthquakes, bushfires and terrorist attacks threaten substantial economic loss and human life.

My research review looked at 64 papers on the topic of using AR and VR-based experiments (mostly simulating emergency scenarios) to investigate human behaviour during disaster, provide disaster-related education and enhance the safety of built environments.

If we can investigate how certain factors influence people’s decisions about the best course of action during disaster, we can use this insight to further construct an array of VR and AR experiments.

Finding the optimal fire desing

Research has shown the potential of AR and VR in myriad disaster contexts. Both of these technologies involve digital visualisation. VR involves the visualisation of a complete digital scene, whereas AR allows digital objects to be superimposed over a real-life background.

This figure helps explain the difference between VR, AR and the real world. Ruggiero Lovreglio, Author provided

VR has already played a key role in designing safety evacuation systems for new buildings and infrastructure. For example, in past research my colleagues and I have used VR to identify which signage is the best to use in tunnels and buildings during emergency evacuations.

A participant in the CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) at Lund University, in a VR-based tunnel evacuation experiment. Ruggiero Lovreglio, Author provided

In these studies we asked participants to rank different signs using a questionnaire based on the “theory of affordances”, which looks at what the physical environment or a specific object offers an individual. In other words, we explored how different signs can be sensed, understood and used by different people during emergencies.

Before building expensive new infrastructure, we can simulate it in VR form and test how different evacuation signage performs for participants. In the case of signage for tunnel exits, research showed:

— green or white flashing lights performed better than blue lights

— a flashing rate of one flash per second or four flashes per second is recommended over a slower rate of, say, one flash per four seconds.

— LED light sources performed better than single and double-strobe lights.

In another non-immersive VR study, we observed participants’ behaviours and identified which sign was the best to direct people away from a specific exit in case of an emergency (as that exit might lead towards a fire, for instance).

The results showed red flashing lights helped evacuees identify the sign, and the sign itself was most effective with a green background marked with a red “X”.

A sign with a green background marked with a red 'x'.
A green background marked with a red ‘x’. Joakim Olander (2015), Author provided

VR and AR are uniquely positioned to let experts study how humans behave during disasters — and to do so without physically harming anyone.

Read more: What is augmented reality, anyway?

From Pokemon Go to earthquake drills

Research projects have tested how AR superimpositions can be used to guide people to safety during a tsunami warning or earthquake.

In theory, the same approach could be used in other contexts, such as during a terror attack. AR applications could be built to teach people how to act in case of terror attacks by following the rule of escape, hide and tell, as advised by the government.

Such virtual applications have great potential to educate thousands of people quickly and inexpensively. Our latest VR study indicated this may make them preferable to traditional training.

Read more: Antarctica without windchill, the Louvre without queues: how to travel the world from home

In some of our experiments, several participants were immersed in simulated fire emergencies where they had to evacuate. We investigated the factors that influenced how participants navigated a space to reach an exit, and how they chose between several exits in different fire and social conditions.

Studies on this front have highlighted humans are social animals. In line with “social influence theory”, they tend to follow other people during emergencies. This is a crucial consideration for authorities tasked with designing or implementing disaster evacuation protocols.

Another common behaviour observed was that participants tended to use exits they were already familiar with.

While these findings aren’t necessarily surprising, they help confirm existing theories about public evacuation behaviours. They also help reinforce observations made during real-life evacuation scenarios — where human lives can hang in the balance.

The next challenge is to ensure that in the future, advanced AR and VR-based training applications do not traumatise or distress participants.

A VR simulation of a metro station, used in one of our research studies. Ruggiero Lovreglio, Author provided

The myth of overwhelming panic

It’s worth noting that in the experiments there were no signs of “panic” among participants. Indeed, research has shown feeling panicked is very rare in fire scenarios.

Rather, participants took several factors into account before choosing what they deemed was the best option. Generally, people in disaster situations try hard to choose the most reasonable option; whether it leads to danger is another matter.

Our research can help enhance the safety design of buildings, transport terminals and general evacuation protocols. In the meantime, it’s reassuring to know people will more or less rely on their rationality in emergency situations.

This story is part of a series The Conversation is running on the nexus between disaster, disadvantage and resilience. It is supported by a philanthropic grant from the Paul Ramsay foundation. You can read the rest of the stories here.The Conversation

Ruggiero Lovreglio, Senior Lecturer, Massey University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How rain, wind, heat and other heavy weather can affect your internet connection

Gordonekoff / Shutterstock
James Jin Kang, Edith Cowan University and Paul Haskell-Dowland, Edith Cowan University

When your Netflix stream drops out in the middle of a rainstorm, can you blame the wild weather?

Quite possibly. The weather can affect the performance of your internet connection in a variety of ways.

This can include issues such as physical damage to the network, water getting into electrical connections, and wireless signal interference. Some types of connection are more vulnerable to weather than others.

The behaviour of other humans in response to the weather can also have an effect on your connection.

How rain can affect your internet connection

Internet connections are much more complicated than the router and cables in our homes. There are many networking devices and cables and connections (of a variety of types and ages) between our homes and the websites we are browsing.

How do we connect to the Internet?

An internet connection may involve different kinds of physical link, including the copper wiring used in the old phone network and more modern fibre optic connections. There may also be wireless connections involved, such as WiFi, microwave and satellite radio.

Example of multi-layered internet access. Ferran, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rain can cause physical damage to cables, particularly where telecommunication networks are using old infrastructure.

ADSL-style connections, which use the old phone network, are particularly vulnerable to this type of interference. Although many Australians may be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN), this can still run (in part) through pre-existing copper wires (in the case of “fibre to the node” or “fibre to the cabinet” connections) rather than modern optical fibres (“fibre to the home”).

Different types of NBN connection. Riick, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

Much of the internet’s cabling is underground, so if there is flooding, moisture can get into the cables or their connectors. This can significantly interfere with signals or even block them entirely, by reducing the bandwidth or causing an electrical short-circuit.

But it isn’t just your home connection that can be impacted. Wireless signals outside the home or building can be affected by rainfall as water droplets can partially absorb the signal, which may result in a lower level of coverage.

Even once the rain stops, the effects can still be felt. High humidity can continue to affect the strength of wireless signals and may cause slower connection speeds.

Copper cables and changed behaviour

If you are using ADSL or NBN for your internet connection, it is likely copper phone cables are used for at least some of the journey. These cables were designed to carry voice signals rather than data, and on average they are now more than 35 years old.

Only around 18% of Australian homes have the faster and more reliable optical-fibre connections.

There is also a behaviour factor. When it rains, more people might decide to stay indoors or work from home. This inevitably leads to an increase in the network usage. When a large number of people increase their internet usage, the limited bandwidth available is rapidly consumed, resulting in apparent slowdowns.

Read more: How to boost your internet speed when everyone is working from home

This is not only within your home, but is also aggregated further up the network as your traffic is joined by that from other homes and eventually entire cities and countries.

Heatwaves and high winds

In Australia, extreme cold is not usually a great concern. Heat is perhaps a more common problem. Our networking devices are likely to perform more slowly when exposed to extreme heat. Even cables can suffer physical damage that may affect the connection.

Imagine your computer fan is not running and the device overheats — it will eventually fail. While the device itself may be fine, it is likely the power supply will struggle in extremes. This same issue can affect the networking equipment that controls our internet connection.

Satellite internet services for rural users can be susceptible to extreme weather, as the satellite signals have to travel long distances in the air.

Radio signals are not usually affected by wind, but hardware such as satellite dishes can be swayed, vibrated, flexed or moved by the wind.

Most of the time, human behaviour is the main cause

For most users, the impact of rain will be slight – unless they are physically affected by a significant issue such as submerged cables, or they are trying to use WiFi outside during a storm.

So, can weather affect your internet connection? Absolutely.

Will most users be affected? Unlikely.

So if your favourite Netflix show is running slow during in rainy weather, it’s most likely that the behaviour of other humans is to blame — holed up indoors and hitting the internet, just like you.

Read more: Internet traffic is growing 25% each year. We created a fingernail-sized chip that can help the NBN keep up The Conversation

James Jin Kang, Lecturer, Computing and Security, Edith Cowan University and Paul Haskell-Dowland, Associate Dean (Computing and Security), Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Something really beautiful — dipping into Ed Kuepper’s golden past

Ed Kuepper, right, performing with The Aints! in 2018. Perry Duffin/AAP
John Willsteed, Queensland University of Technology

Ed Kuepper has been making groundbreaking music for nearly 50 years. As a member of The Saints, and after the release of their first single (I’m) Stranded in 1976, he was flung from Brisbane’s suburban wasteland into the pre-punk mayhem of London.

(I’m) Stranded was reviewed in Sounds magazine as “Single of this and every week”, and The Saints signed to EMI. Kuepper’s journey as a serious songwriter had begun.

Three separate albums of Kuepper’s music have just been released on vinyl, gathered under the title The Exploding Universe of Ed Kuepper. There are two compilations — one of his work with post-Saints band Laughing Clowns (1979-1985), another of singles from his life as a solo artist (1986-1996) — as well as a recent live recording of The Aints!, Kuepper’s vehicle for performing old Saints material as well as new work.

The young Kuepper. AAP/supplied

Three very different albums, but all ringing clearly with his voice and his vision.

The Laughing Clowns compilation — Golden Days When Giants Walked The Earth — beautifully evokes the energy and inventiveness of this critically acclaimed band.

Kuepper returned from London in the late 1970s with his family, and a desire to make something new. Back in Brisbane visiting his parents, and at a party in his honour, he was surprised by the presence of drummer Jeffrey Wegener and sax-man Bob Farrell. These two had come up from Melbourne with friend Ben Wallace-Crabbe and the inkling of a band was formed.

Kuepper had known Jeff at school, and Bob was around in the early days of The Saints, a band whose sound was based on a loose, 50s rock and roll feel. He wanted his next band to carry this vibe but looking more to 60s jazz. He remembers,

One of the big influences was actually a fairly unusual Tony Bennett album, The Beat of My Heart, where he had two or three drummers playing. I was interested in where things could go, rhythmically, and to pull the guitar back a bit.

The astonishing Clowns songs on Golden Days are all wrapped around the spine of Wegener’s drums and Kuepper’s guitar. The rhythms veer and slide, with changing time signatures; songs full of swing and sway, while melodies are juggled between voice, bass, piano and the saxophones of Farrell and later, Louise Elliot.

Kuepper thinks the band, for all its influences and many lineup changes, had a consistent sound; it “emerged fully formed on the first recording — I can’t think of too many other rock and roll groups that were like that”.

But nothing good lasts forever, and after one final tour with various band members falling prey to lifestyle choices while Kuepper valiantly tried to hold it all together, he collapsed Laughing Clowns in the last days of 1984.

Cultural treasure

The second album in Exploding World gathers the singles from Kuepper’s solo work from 1986-1996. In 1989, on an August afternoon a month after my ejection from The Go-Betweens, I auditioned for his backing band, The Yard Goes On Forever. It was scary, I didn’t get the job, and I went out that night and got totally plastered. It’s entirely possible that I was under-prepared.

The singles, all 39 of them, show more shifts in Kuepper’s approach. Some elements remain, the brass sections and shuffly rhythms, but many others are new.

These are pop songs, catchy and melodic. The lyrics embrace the simplicity and purity of close relationships; his voice settles into his maturing creative life; and he takes the 12-string acoustic and places it in the centre of his sound, marrying it with choirs of women’s voices.

There are synths and sequencers and 60s fairground brass and Mellotrons. I have favourites, to be sure, from the couple of shows where I’ve played bass with Kuepper (at the Brisbane City Hall in 2009, and for Brisbane Festival in 2010). The Way I Made You Feel has all the slinky allure of a Prince track, while Everything I’ve Got Belongs To You is as good a love song as you can find.

But there is so much breadth here, such style: try La-Di-Doh, or Real Wild Life or Fireman Joe with its echoes of Max Merritt and Small Faces. There is a deep seam of wealth here, cultural treasure for all to share.

Judy’s presence

Fifteen years ago, in the evening of the day of Grant McLennan’s funeral, I ended up at a table at a restaurant at Brisbane’s Powerhouse. I found myself sitting opposite Kuepper and his wife Judy Dransfield. They were lovely company in the last chapter of this difficult, heightened day. I realised I barely knew Ed, but I liked him. And Jude.

About a year after that dinner, I enjoyed an afternoon playing banjo under their house in the Brisbane suburbs. Sitting upstairs later with Jude; cups of tea and biscuits. The banjo was for a track on Jean Lee and the Yellow Dog, a family project. Says Kuepper:

We collaborated quite strongly on that album, where [Jude] wrote all the lyrics. Prior to that she’d done photography, and art and stuff like that, but [Jean Lee] was a really interesting thing — a good thing to have done.

Judy Dransfield’s distinctive artwork for his record covers, her photographs and her presence are all intrinsic to what we know of Kuepper.

The third album — The Aints! Live — captures the band (including Peter Oxley from The Sunnyboys and Paul Larsen, from Celibate Rifles) before recording their 2018 studio album The Church of Simultaneous Existence. They have that loose rock and roll feel Kuepper loves, wrapped up in energy and thunder.

Five years ago, as part of a fairly shambling, ongoing attempt to do something about Brisbane’s cultural heritage, I applied to the state government for money to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of (I’m) Stranded. We won the grant, and a mural was commissioned.

More importantly, there was money to stage a live show with The Aints!, where songs from 40 years earlier were revived and hammered out, within a hundred metres of The Saints’ old practice room.

Kuepper seemed pleased with the attention, though it’s sometimes hard to tell …

Ed Kuepper and Jim White have embarked on a national tour. They will perform at the Sydney Opera House on June 13.

Quotes in this story are from the author’s chat with Kuepper in mid-May.The Conversation

John Willsteed, Senior Lecturer, School of Creative Practice, Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Kapow! Zap! Splat! How comics make sound on the page

Unsplash/Joe Ciciarelli, CC BY
Victor Araneda Jure, Monash University

Typically, comics are considered a silent medium. But while they don’t come with an aural soundtrack, comics have a unique grammar for sound.

From Wolverine’s SNIKT! when unsheathing his claws, to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in The Death of Stalin (later made into a film) the use of “textual audio” invites comics readers to hear with their eyes.

Fundamental elements such as symbols, font styles and onomatopoeia (where words imitate sounds) mean reading comics is a cross-sensory experience. New and old examples show the endless potential of the artform.

comic book pages
Kaboom! and splosh! on every page. Unsplash/Miika Laaksonen, CC BY

Holy onomatopoeia Batman!

Onomatopoeia — isn’t unique to comics but comic artists have certainly perfected this figurative form of language. POW! BAM! BANG! appear on the page when Batman and Robin land a punch. BLAM! is the sound made by the Penguin’s umbrella when it shoots from a distance.

The list of sounds represented by onomatopoeia is limitless in terms of creative potential. There are words that mimic sounds directly, such as SPLOSH! (the sound made by an object falling into water) and made-up sounds like that of Wolverine’s adamantium claws (as we will see further below).

The language of comics offers creative freedom to expand the aural lexicon. One online database lists over 2500 comic book sounds with links to comics images in which they’ve been used.

cowboy comic
Stan Lee’s Gunsmoke Western (1955) #68, with lettering and pencilling by Dick Ayers. The Comic Book Sound Effect Database

This can also present special challenges for translators. Sounds represented in comics can range from speech sounds (subject to language rules including those governing how syllables can be formed) to human-made non-verbal sounds like sneezes, to sounds made by objects and environments.

Visual context is important too. We only recognise the warning of Wolverine’s violent retribution in SNIKT! when the word is drawn and displayed next to the hairy mutant.

comics image of man with claws
Wolverine extends his claws. Author provided

Likewise, the word THWIP! by itself may not mean much. But when positioned in context it can imbue a comic page with excitement and adventure.

Imagine a young man dressed in a tight red-and-blue bodysuit diving at high speed from the top of the Empire State building. Suddenly, just before hitting the ground, THWIP! he shoots spider webs from his wrists, using them to swing from building to building. Both readers and the crowd of enthusiastic fans on the page react: “Here comes Spidey!”

The way they say it

Comic creators also use font style and size and different speech bubble shapes and effects to shout, whisper or scream language.

Bold, italics, punctuation, faded or irregular letters are used to emphasise different features of the written words: fear, courage, loudness or quietness.

In My Friend Dahmer, created by a school friend of the infamous serial killer, the protagonist is seen carrying a dead cat on his way home by a group of kids. Comics creator John “Derf” Backderf applies bigger-bold words in one of the kids’ speech balloon to emphasise the shouting and surprise of onlookers.

comic book page
My Friend Dahmer (2012) by Derf Backderf. Author provided

Read more: Heroes, villains ... biology: 3 reasons comic books are great science teachers

Music to my eyes

The 1973 manga Barefoot Gen, written by Keiji Nakazawa, explores his firsthand experience of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath.

Gen, the main character, sings through several pages of the story. The author uses a musical note symbol () to indicate where speech bubbles are sung. By the final pages of the fourth volume, Gen sings to celebrate that his hair is beginning to grow again after being affected by radiation poisoning.

When preceded by the easily recognisable musical symbol, it’s virtually impossible to read the dialogue without “hearing” a melody:

“Red roof on a green hilltop …

A bell tower shaped like a pixie hat…

The bell rings, ding-dong-ding …

The baby goats sing along, baa-baa-baa …”

Expanding on this concept, How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman contains musical panels where the combination of drawings, words and signs present a soundtrack.

comic page
The How to Talk to Girls at Parties party scene (created by Neil Gaiman, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá) gives us a sense of how the scene sounds to the characters in it. Author provided

In film terminology, this is diegetic sound — noises or tunes from within the storyworld — as opposed to a narrative voiceover or a musical soundtrack the characters can’t hear within the story.

In Gaiman’s comic a combination of illustrations, musical notes and words (including the onomatopoeic TUM for a base drum beat) convey the sense that music fills every room of the house where a party is taking place.

In the political satire comic that inspired a movie, The Death of Stalin creator Fabien Nury and illustrator Thierry Robin show lines from Mozart’s orchestral score for his Piano Concerto No. 23 at the bottom of two pages. This adds drama to a climactic scene where Russian leader suffers a stroke.

comics frames of stalin dying
The musical score can add pace and drama to an already dramatic scene. Author'

Next time you read a comic book, make sure you listen carefully. KABOOM!The Conversation

Victor Araneda Jure, Teaching Associate / Filmmaker, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Do vegan diets make kids shorter and weaker?

Evangeline Mantzioris, University of South Australia

Research Checks interrogate newly published studies and how they’re reported in the media. The analysis is undertaken by one or more academics not involved with the study, and reviewed by another, to make sure it’s accurate.

Diets that exclude meat and fish (vegetarian) or all animal products including dairy and eggs (vegan) are becoming increasingly popular for health, environmental and ethical reasons.

Past research in adults has linked vegetarian and vegan diets with a reduced risk of heart disease but a greater risk of fractures, caused by low calcium intakes. But the impact on children has not been evaluated, until the release of a new study this week.

The researchers found a link between shorter heights and lower bone mineral content among vegan children, compared to meat-eaters. But they didn’t show vegan diets caused the difference. Nor can they say the differences will last into adulthood.

How was the study conducted?

The paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined the differences in children aged five to ten years of age in Poland.

They looked at 187 healthy children between 2014 and 2016 who had been on their respective diets for at least one year: 72 children were omnivores (meat eaters), 63 were vegetarians and 52 were vegans.

The research team looked at the children’s nutrient intakes, body composition and cardiovascular risk – how likely they are to have heart disease or a stroke in the future.

The study was observational, so researchers didn’t make any changes to the children’s diets. They recruited children who were already eating these diets.

Specifically, it was a type of observational study called a cross-sectional study. They looked back at the children’s diets, growth and cardiovascular risk factors at a given time point.

Children at school eating.
The researchers tracked 187 children in Poland. Shutterstock

The research team ensured the children in the vegan and vegetarian group were similar to children in the omnivore group, in factors that impact growth and cardiovascular risk factors. These include sex, age, parental smoking, parental education, clinical characteristics of their mother’s pregnancy and, importantly, their parents’ height.

Read more: Are there any health implications for raising your child as a vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian?

What did the researchers find?

The researchers found that compared to children on omnivore diets, children on vegan diets had a healthier cardiovascular risk profile, with 25% lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or unhealthy cholesterol).

However the vegan children had an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies. They were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D and iron in their diet.

Children on vegan diets had about 5% lower bone mineral content and were on average 3cm shorter in height. This is important, as the higher the bone mineral content, the higher the bone mineral density.

This 5% difference is concerning, as people have a limited period of time at this age in which they can optimise their bone mineral density; 95% of bone mass is attained by about 20 years of age. Lower bone densities are linked to higher rates of fractures in later life.

Vegetarians showed less pronounced nutritional deficiencies but, unexpectedly, a less favourable cardiovascular risk profile compared to both meat-eaters and vegans. The authors attributed this to a lower-quality diet, with these children consuming more processed foods.

Are there any problems with the study?

Observational studies are only able to tell us if something is linked, not if one thing caused another. This study only tells us there is a link between these diets and the outcomes they looked at.

But in this study, there are plausible biological links between bone development and growth in children.

Calcium, vitamin D and protein are critical for bone development and growth. These nutrients may be lower in vegan diets, as they come mainly from animal products:

  • calcium is found in dairy products
  • vitamin D, which we normally get from exposure to sunlight on our skin, is also found in animal foods but in smaller amounts
  • protein from plant foods is considered of lower biological value than animal sources.

One single plant source of protein won’t provide you with all the essential amino acids (the protein building blocks your body is unable to make for itself) that are needed. Vegans need to make sure they eat a variety of plants so they get a good mix of all the essential amino acids.

Child swings from monkey bars at a playground.
Children get vitamin D from sunlight, but also small amounts from food. Shutterstock

So, why didn’t the researchers carry out an intervention study and change the diets of the children?

First, it would be difficult to find children and their families who are willing to change their diets for a long period.

Second, it would be unethical to put children on a diet potentially affecting their growth and cardiovascular risk factors.

This study, conducted in Poland, is the only one to look at growth and cardiovascular outcomes in vegan and vegetarian children.

One small study in children aged five to ten years isn’t enough for the scientific community to say these results are valid and we must act on them.

But it does give us clues about potential problems and what we can look out for.

As the researchers indicated, more observational studies are needed, and in different countries.

Read more: Have you gone vegan? Keep an eye on these 4 nutrients

So what does it mean for children on vegan and vegetarian diets?

This doesn’t mean every child who follows these diets is going to have these nutritional and health benefits or problems. And we also can’t say whether these problems will persist into adulthood.

But it does highlight potential risks which health practitioners and parents need to be aware of. And it’s a reminder to either find suitable replacements that align with the family’s diet philosophy, or prescribe supplements if a deficiency is diagnosed through a blood test.

In particular, parents and caregivers need to be careful their children are maintaining a good intake of protein from a variety of vegan sources (beans, lentils, nuts) and calcium (from calcium supplemented plant milks).

Mother and child shop for vegetables at the supermarket.
The study highlights potential risks for parents to be aware of. Shutterstock

Whether you’re following a vegan, vegetarian or meat-eating diet, you still need to make sure the diet is balanced across all food groups.

The study is also a reminder to minimise your family’s intake of processed foods which are high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

If you’re concerned about your children’s diet, talk to your GP or an accredited practising dietitian, who can assess their growth and diet. – Evangeline Mantzioris

Blind peer review

The reviewer has provided an accurate assessment of the research paper.

The study highlights the importance of meal planning to optimise food and nutrient intakes of children whose usual dietary pattern is vegan or vegetarian and the need for regular use of fortified foods and/or dietary supplementation with vitamin B12 and vitamin D and potentially calcium and iron, particularly for vegans.

However, the results of the study may be a “best case scenario”, given most families participating were highly educated and hence likely to be more invested in planning family meals. It is possible other families might have less healthy dietary patterns, and therefore greater nutritional deficits.

Together with the results highlighted by the reviewer about bone mineral content and height, as well as iron and cholesterol levels, this study confirms both the potential risks and benefits associated with vegan and vegetarian diets in children.

A key message is that families following plant-based diets need more advice and support to optimise their food and nutrient intakes, and their children’s diet-related health and well-being. – Clare Collins

Read more: Pregnant women and babies can be vegans but careful nutrition planning is essential The Conversation

Evangeline Mantzioris, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of South Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Friday essay: a rare bird — how Europeans got the black swan so wrong

Bernard Spragg/flickr
David Haworth, Monash University

The black swan is an Australian icon. The official emblem of Western Australia, depicted in the state flag and coat-of-arms, it decorates several public buildings. The bird is also the namesake for Perth’s Swan River, where the British established the Swan River Colony in 1829.

The swan’s likeness has featured on stamps, sporting team uniforms, and in the logo for Swan Brewery, built on the sacred Noongar site of Goonininup on the banks of the Swan.

But this post-colonial history hides a much older and broader story. Not only is the black swan important for many Aboriginal people, it was also a potent symbol within the European imagination — 1500 years before Europeans even knew it existed.

Native to Australia, the black swan or Cygnus atratus can be found across the mainland, except for Cape York Peninsula. Populations have also been introduced to New Zealand, Japan, China, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Right now, the breeding season of the black swan is in full swing across southern Australia, having recently ended in the north. In waterways and wetlands, people are seeing pairs of swans — a quarter of which are same-sex — tending carefully to their cygnets, seeing off potential threats with elaborate triumph ceremonies, or gliding elegantly across the water, black feathers gleaming in the winter sun.

Yet once upon a time in a land far away, such birds were described as rare or even imaginary.

swans on water
Winter is breeding season in Australia’s southern states. Unsplash/Mitchell Luo, CC BY

The impossible black swan

In the first century CE, Roman satirist Juvenal referred to a good wife as a “rare bird in the earth, and very like a black swan”.

Casual misogyny aside, this is an example of adynaton, a figure of speech for something absurd or preposterous — like pigs flying, or getting blood from a stone.

Read more: Guide to the Classics: Juvenal, the true satirist of Rome

Over the centuries, versions of the phrases “black swan” and “rare bird” became common in several European languages, describing something that defied belief. The expressions made sense because Europeans assumed, based on their observations, that all swans were white.

Around the same time that Juvenal coined these phrases, Ptolemy devised a map of the world that included an unknown southern continent, Terra Australis Incognita. Many believed this distant southland was populated with monsters and fabulous races, like the Antipodes, imagined by Cicero as “men which have their feet planted right opposite to yours”.

In a quirk of history, both the impossible black swan and the hypothetical southland were indeed real. Even more unbelievably, they would be found at the same geographic coordinates.

Once they were white

Black swans are significant totems for many Aboriginal people and incorporated within songlines and constellations (where they are called Gnibi, Ginibi, or Gineevee).

Yet the Noongar people in WA, and the Yuin and Euahlayi in New South Wales, tell ancestral stories about white swans, which had most of their feathers torn out by eagles.

black and white print of early Australian river scene
Print by an unknown artist after a drawing by Frederick Garling or watercolour by Frederick R. Clause, who accompanied Captain Stirling on his 1827 trip down the Swan River. State Library of Western Australia

In the Noongar story Maali, the swan, is proud and boastful of its beauty, and has its white feathers ripped out by Waalitj, the eagle, as punishment. In the Yuin story the swan, Guunyu, humble and quiet, is attacked because the other birds are jealous of his beauty.

And in the Euahlayi story, two brothers are transformed into swans, or Byahmul, as part of a robbery. Later they are attacked by eagles as an act of revenge.

In each story, after the swans have their white plumage torn out, crows release a cascade of feathers, turning the swans black, except for their white wing tips. Their red beak still shows blood from the attack.

These stories are keenly observant of, and offer an explanation for, the black swan’s colouration. They acknowledge the possibility swans could be white — even though it’s unlikely First Nations people observed white swans in their surroundings prior to British settlement.

This contrasts starkly with the European assumption that, having never seen a black swan, they couldn’t possibly exist.

Painting of black swans
Australian painter Neville Cayley’s Black Swans (circa 1890). National Library Australia

Read more: 6,000 years of climate history: an ancient lake in the Murray-Darling has yielded its secrets

From myth to wonder

European assumptions were destined to shatter once Dutch ships began visiting Australia’s western coastline in the 1600s. Seeing the mythical black swan in the flesh must have been like seeing a unicorn emerge from the shadows of the forest.

In 1636, Dutch mariner Antonie Caen observed black birds “as large as swans” at sea off Bernier Island — probably the first recorded European sighting.

In 1697, Willem de Vlamingh’s expedition to the west coast sighted many swans on what they dubbed Swarte Swaane Drift or Black Swan River. Noongar people know this river as Derbarl Yerrigan. If de Vlamingh was amazed at the sight of black swans, he did not record it, simply noting, “They are quite black”. Three swans were captured and taken to Batavia (Jakarta), but died before they could be brought to Europe.

Reports of the black swan made it back to the Netherlands and then to England, but it took another century for its mythical status to dissipate completely.

English ornithologist John Latham gave the black swan its first scientific name, Anas atrata, in 1790. Yet knowledge of its existence was still not widespread.

In 1792, the botanist on Bruni d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition, Jacques Labillardiere, made note of black swans at Recherche Bay in Tasmania, apparently unaware they were already known to Europeans.

drawing of black swan
The black swan (Chenopis atrata) by Ebenezer Edward Gostelow (1938). National Library Australia

In 1804, Nicolas Baudin’s expedition brought the first living specimens to Europe. These became part of the Empress Josephine Bonaparte’s garden menagerie at the Château de Malmaison.

The black swan had migrated from myth to the far edge of reality, joining the kangaroo and the platypus as awe-inspiring wonders from the distant, topsy-turvy southland — real, but only just.

Good versus evil

Black swans never established large populations in the wild after being brought to Europe. It’s speculated this is because black animals were considered bad omens, in league with witches and devils, and often driven away or killed.

Beliefs like these reflect the ancient assumption, found everywhere from the Dead Sea Scrolls to Star Wars, that darkness and the colour black represent evil and corruption, and that light and the colour white represent goodness and purity.

Frantz Fanon once argued that “the colonial world is a Manichean world”, in which light and dark, white and black, and good and evil are starkly divided. These divisions have been deeply implicated in the histories of colonialism and racism — often with devastating consequences.

Two swans, one dancer

The symbolic contrast of light and dark features heavily in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballet, Swan Lake. Prince Siegfried falls in love with Odette, the innocent and virtuous white swan. But he is tricked into promising himself to her double, the seductive and malevolent Odile.

The ballet’s story was inspired by a long tradition of European fairy tales depicting Swan Maidens, but Tchaikovsky was also reportedly inspired by the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as the Swan King. Both Ludwig II and Tchaikovsky were caught between the societal pressure to marry and their own same-sex desires.

The roles of Odette and Odile are often played by the same ballerina, a tradition that started in 1895, two years after Tchaikovsky’s death. But it was not until 1941 that Odile was first depicted wearing black, and afterwards became known as the black swan.

Swan Lake suggests a Manichean worldview in which good and evil are polar opposites, as far away from each other as Europe is from the Antipodes. By having the same ballerina portray both roles, the ballet also suggests the world is not so simple — things can be black or white, or both at once.

False black swans

For 1500 years, Europeans had been spectacularly wrong about the black swan. Once its existence was accepted, its transmogrification from myth to reality became a metaphor within the philosophy of science. The black swan had shown the difficulty of making broad claims based on observable evidence.

Austrian philosopher Karl Popper used the black swan in 1959 to illustrate the difference between science that can be verified versus science that can be falsified.

To verify that all swans are white is practically impossible, because that would require assessing all swans — yet a single black swan can disprove the theory. In 2007, essayist and mathematic statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb argued organisations and individuals should be robust enough to cope with “black swan events”: consequential but unexpected moments in history.

black and white photo of kids at lake with birds
Children with black swans and ducks in Centennial Park, circa 1934. Wikimedia Commons/State Library NSW

Read more: Friday essay: the long history of warrior turtles, from ancient myth to warships to teenage mutants

The white black swan

This Australian winter, those enjoying the sight of black swans and their cygnets might assume, based on observable evidence, that all Australian native swans are black. But as black swans have shown, and as Taleb argued, we should expect the unexpected.

Last month, some four centuries after Europeans were awe-struck by the sight of black swans on our waters, Tasmanian fisherman Jake Hume rescued a white-plumaged black swan, the only one known to exist.

white swan at vet
Odette, the white black swan, is recovering from bullet wounds. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary/Instagram

The swan is not an albino, because it still has pigmentation around its beak and eye. Its white feathers are the expression of a rare genetic mutation. First sighted in the area in 2007, the bird was found riddled with shotgun pellets. It is recovering in Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary until ready to be released.

Simultaneously a black swan, a white swan, and a metaphor, this assumption-shattering “rare bird” captures the complex cultural history surrounding this species.The Conversation

David Haworth, Senior Research Officer, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Book of the Month June 2021: Letters from a cat : published by her mistress for the benefit of all cats and the amusement of little children

by Helen Hunt  Jackson, 1830-1885

New Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format: http://www.birdlife.org.au/documents/Shorebird_ID_Booklet_V3.pdf

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/counter-resources for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit: http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/shorebirds-2020-program

The world at your finger tips: Online

With current advice to stay at home and self-isolate, when you come in out of the garden, have had your fill of watching movies and want to explore something new, there's a whole world of books you can download, films you can watch and art galleries you can stroll through - all from at home and via the internet. This week a few suggestions of some of the resources available for you to explore and enjoy. For those who have a passion for Art - this month's Artist of the Month is the Online Australian Art Galleries and State Libraries where you can see great works of art from all over the world  and here - both older works and contemporary works.

Also remember the Project Gutenberg Australia - link here- has heaps of great books, not just focused on Australian subjects but fiction works by popular authors as well. Well worth a look at.

Short Stories for Teenagers you can read for free online

StoryStar is an online resource where you can access and read short stories for teenagers


Storystar is a totally FREE short stories site featuring some of the best short stories online, written by/for kids, teens, and adults of all ages around the world, where short story writers are the stars, and everyone is free to shine! Storystar is dedicated to providing a free place where everyone can share their stories. Stories can entertain us, enlighten us, and change us. Our lives are full of stories; stories of joy and sorrow, triumph and tragedy, success and failure. The stories of our lives matter. Share them. Sharing stories with each other can bring us closer together and help us get to know one another better. Please invite your friends and family to visit Storystar to read, rate and share all the short stories that have been published here, and to tell their stories too.

StoryStar headquarters are located on the central Oregon coast.

NFSA - National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

The doors may be temporarily closed but when it comes to the NFSA, we are always open online. We have content for Kids, Animal Lovers, Music fans, Film buffs & lots more.

You can explore what’s available online at the NFSA, see more in the link below.


NLA Ebooks - Free To Download

The National Library of Australia provides access to thousands of ebooks through its website, catalogue and eResources service. These include our own publications and digitised historical books from our collections as well as subscriptions to collections such as Chinese eResources, Early English Books Online and Ebsco ebooks.

What are ebooks?
Ebooks are books published in an electronic format. They can be read by using a personal computer or an ebook reader.

This guide will help you find and view different types of ebooks in the National Library collections.

Peruse the NLA's online ebooks, ready to download - HERE

The Internet Archive and Digital Library

The Internet Archive is an American digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." It provides free public access to collections of digitised materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies, videos, moving images, and millions of public-domain books. There's lots of Australian materials amongst the millions of works on offer.

Visit:  https://archive.org/

Avalon Youth Hub: More Meditation Spots

Due to popular demand our meditation evenings have EXPANDED. Two sessions will now be run every Wednesday evening at the Hub. Both sessions will be facilitated by Merryn at Soul Safaris.

6-7pm - 12 - 15 year olds welcome
7-8pm - 16 - 25 year olds welcome

No experience needed. Learn and develop your mindfulness and practice meditation in a group setting.

For all enquires, message us via facebook or email help@avalonyouthhub.org.au

BIG THANKS The Burdekin Association for funding these sessions!

Green Team Beach Cleans 

Hosted by The Green Team
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

Anyone and everyone is welcome! If you would like to come along, please bring a bucket, gloves and hat. Kids of all ages are also welcome! 

We will meet in front of the surf club. 
Hope to see you there!

The Green Team is a Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon, Sydney. Keeping our area green and clean.

 The Project Gutenberg Library of Australiana

Australian writers, works about Australia and works which may be of interest to Australians.This Australiana page boasts many ebooks by Australian writers, or books about Australia. There is a diverse range; from the journals of the land and sea explorers; to the early accounts of white settlement in Australia; to the fiction of 'Banjo' Paterson, Henry Lawson and many other Australian writers.

The list of titles form part of the huge collection of ebooks freely downloadable from Project Gutenberg Australia. Follow the links to read more about the authors and titles and to read and/or download the ebooks. 

Profile: Ingleside Riders Group

Ingleside Riders Group Inc. (IRG) is a not for profit incorporated association and is run solely by volunteers. It was formed in 2003 and provides a facility known as “Ingleside Equestrian Park” which is approximately 9 acres of land between Wattle St and McLean St, Ingleside. IRG has a licence agreement with the Minister of Education to use this land. This facility is very valuable as it is the only designated area solely for equestrian use in the Pittwater District.  IRG promotes equal rights and the respect of one another and our list of rules that all members must sign reflect this.


Research shows that one in five Australian children aged 8 to 17 has been the target of cyberbullying in the past year. The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner can help you make a complaint, find someone to talk to and provide advice and strategies for dealing with these issues.

Make a Complaint 

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 gives the power to provide assistance in relation to serious cyberbullying material. That is, material that is directed at a particular child with the intention to seriously embarrass, harass, threaten or humiliate.


Before you make a complaint you need to have:

  • copies of the cyberbullying material to upload (eg screenshots or photos)
  • reported the material to the social media service (if possible) at least 48 hours ago
  • at hand as much information as possible about where the material is located
  • 15-20 minutes to complete the form

Visit: esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying

Our mission

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner is Australia's leader in online safety. The Office is committed to helping young people have safe, positive experiences online and encouraging behavioural change, where a generation of Australian children act responsibly online—just as they would offline.

We provide online safety education for Australian children and young people, a complaints service for young Australians who experience serious cyberbullying, and address illegal online content through the Online Content Scheme.

Our goal is to empower all Australians to explore the online world—safely.

Visit: esafety.gov.au/about-the-office 

The Green Team

This Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative has been attracting high praise from the founders of Living Ocean as much as other local environment groups recently. 
Creating Beach Cleans events, starting their own, sustainability days - ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

National Training Complaints Hotline – 13 38 73

The National Training Complaints Hotline is accessible on 13 38 73 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm nationally) or via email at skilling@education.gov.au.

Sync Your Breathing with this - to help you Relax

Send In Your Stuff

Pittwater Online News is not only For and About you, it is also BY you.  
We will not publish swearing or the gossip about others. BUT: If you have a poem, story or something you want to see addressed, let us know or send to: pittwateronlinenews@live.com.au

All Are Welcome, All Belong!

Youth Source: Northern Sydney Region

A directory of services and resources relevant to young people and those who work, play and live alongside them.

The YouthSource directory has listings from the following types of service providers: Aboriginal, Accommodation, Alcohol & Other Drugs, Community Service, Counselling, Disability, Education & Training, Emergency Information, Employment, Financial, Gambling,  General Health & Wellbeing, Government Agency, Hospital & GP, Legal & Justice, Library, Mental Health, Multicultural, Nutrition & Eating Disorders, Parenting, Relationships, Sexual Health, University, Youth Centre

Fined Out: Practical guide for people having problems with fines

Legal Aid NSW has just published an updated version of its 'Fined Out' booklet, produced in collaboration with Inner City Legal Centre and Redfern Legal Centre.

Fined Out is a practical guide to the NSW fines system. It provides information about how to deal with fines and contact information for services that can help people with their fines.

A fine is a financial penalty for breaking the law. The Fines Act 1996 (NSW) and Regulations sets out the rules about fines.

The 5th edition of 'Fined Out' includes information on the different types of fines and chapters on the various options to deal with fines at different stages of the fine lifecycle, including court options and pathways to seek a review, a 50% reduction, a write-off, plan, or a Work and Development Order (WDO).

The resource features links to self-help legal tools for people with NSW fines, traffic offence fines and court attendance notices (CANs) and also explains the role of Revenue NSW in administering and enforcing fines.

Other sections of the booklet include information specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young people and driving offences, as well as a series of template letters to assist people to self-advocate.

Hard copies will soon be available to be ordered online through the Publications tab on the Legal Aid NSW website.

Hard copies will also be made available in all public and prison libraries throughout NSW.

Read the resource online, or download the PDF.

Apprenticeships and traineeships info

Are you going to leave school this year?
Looking for an apprenticeship or traineeship to get you started?
This website, Training Services NSW, has stacks of info for you;

It lists the group training organisations (GTOs) that are currently registered in NSW under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act 2001. These GTOs have been audited by independent auditors and are compliant with the National Standards for Group Training Organisations.

If you are interested in using the services of a registered GTO, please contact any of the organisations listed here: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/gto/contacts.html

There are also some great websites, like 1300apprentice, which list what kind of apprenticeships and traineeships they can guide you to securing as well as listing work available right now.

Profile Bayview Yacht Racing Association (BYRA)
1842 Pittwater Rd, Bayview
Website: www.byra.org.au

BYRA has a passion for sharing the great waters of Pittwater and a love of sailing with everyone aged 8 to 80 or over!

 headspace Brookvale

headspace Brookvale provides services to young people aged 12-25. If you are a young person looking for health advice, support and/or information,headspace Brookvale can help you with:

• Mental health • Physical/sexual health • Alcohol and other drug services • Education and employment services

If you ever feel that you are:

• Alone and confused • Down, depressed or anxious • Worried about your use of alcohol and/or other drugs • Not coping at home, school or work • Being bullied, hurt or harassed • Wanting to hurt yourself • Concerned about your sexual health • Struggling with housing or accommodation • Having relationship problems • Finding it hard to get a job

Or if you just need someone to talk to… headspace Brookvale can help! The best part is our service is free, confidential and youth friendly.

headspace Brookvale is open from Monday to Friday 9:00am-5:30pm so if you want to talk or make an appointment give us a call on (02) 9937 6500. If you're not feeling up to contacting us yourself, feel free to ask your family, friend, teacher, doctor or someone close to you to make a referral on your behalf.

When you first come to headspace Brookvale you will be greeted by one of our friendly staff. You will then talk with a member of our headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team. The headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team consists of three workers, who will work with you around whatever problems you are facing. Depending on what's happening for you, you may meet with your Youth Access Worker a number of times or you may be referred on to a more appropriate service provider.

A number of service providers are operating out of headspace Brookvale including Psychologists, Drug & Alcohol Workers, Sexual Health Workers, Employment Services and more! If we can't find a service operating withinheadspace Brookvale that best suits you, the Youth Access Team can also refer you to other services in the Sydney area.

eheadspace provides online and telephone support for young people aged 12-25. It is a confidential, free, secure space where you can chat, email or talk on the phone to qualified youth mental health professionals.

Click here to go to eheadspace

For urgent mental health assistance or if you are in a crisis please call the Northern Sydney 24 hour Mental Health Access Line on 1800 011 511

Need Help Right NOW??

kids help line: 1800 55 1800 - www.kidshelpline.com.au

lifeline australia - 13 11 14 - www.lifeline.org.au

headspace Brookvale is located at Level 2 Brookvale House, 1A Cross Street Brookvale NSW 2100 (Old Medical Centre at Warringah Mall). We are nearby Brookvale Westfield's bus stop on Pittwater road, and have plenty of parking under the building opposite Bunnings. More at: www.headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/headspace-brookvale

Profile: Avalon Soccer Club
Avalon Soccer Club is an amateur club situated at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As a club we pride ourselves on our friendly, family club environment. The club is comprised of over a thousand players aged from 5 to 70 who enjoy playing the beautiful game at a variety of levels and is entirely run by a group of dedicated volunteers. 
Profile: Pittwater Baseball Club

Their Mission: Share a community spirit through the joy of our children engaging in baseball.

Year 13

Year13 is an online resource for post school options that specialises in providing information and services on Apprenticeships, Gap Year Programs, Job Vacancies, Studying, Money Advice, Internships and the fun of life after school. Partnering with leading companies across Australia Year13 helps facilitate positive choices for young Australians when finishing school.

Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) Practice run Online

Did you know you can do a practice run of the DKT online on the RMS site? - check out the base of this page, and the rest on the webpage, it's loaded with information for you!

The DKT Practice test is designed to help you become familiar with the test, and decide if you’re ready to attempt the test for real.  Experienced drivers can also take the practice test to check their knowledge of the road rules. Unlike the real test, the practice DKT allows you to finish all 45 questions, regardless of how many you get wrong. At the end of the practice test, you’ll be advised whether you passed or failed.

NCYLC is a community legal centre dedicated to providing advice to children and young people. NCYLC has developed a Cyber Project called Lawmail, which allows young people to easily access free legal advice from anywhere in Australia, at any time.

NCYLC was set up to ensure children’s rights are not marginalised or ignored. NCYLC helps children across Australia with their problems, including abuse and neglect. The AGD, UNSW, KWM, Telstra and ASIC collaborate by providing financial, in-kind and/or pro bono volunteer resources to NCYLC to operate Lawmail and/or Lawstuff.

Kids Helpline

If you’re aged 5-25 the Kids Helpline provides free and confidential online and phone counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 55 1800. You can chat with us about anything… What’s going on at home, stuff with friends. Something at school or feeling sad, angry or worried. You don’t have to tell us your name if you don’t want to.

You can Webchat, email or phone. Always remember - Everyone deserves to be safe and happy. You’re important and we are here to help you. Visit: https://kidshelpline.com.au/kids/