Inbox and Environment News: Issue 272

July 17 - 23, 2016: Issue 272

Queensland Cicada Relative Heads South For Winter

This is a Palm Planthopper, Magia subocellata, one of the Lophopid Planthoppers in the family Lophopidae.  The Planthoppers are related to the Cicadas.

They are native to North Queensland, a place in the world that is usually a fair bit warmer than here this time of year!.

This one was photographed through a rainy window on July 9th, 2016 in Pittwater. Sorry we couldn't get the window open in time to get a picture of this insects eyes before it flew away - probably to get out of the rain!

World Heritage Committee Decision on Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

Released July 15, 2016
The World Heritage Committee,
  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 847 and 39 COM 7B.35, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the State Party for its commitment to explicitly rule out all forms of commercial logging and mining in the whole of the property, as well as its other commitments made in response to the recommendations of the 2015 joint IUCN/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, and requests the State Party to implement all of the mission’s recommendations;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s commitment to include additional and strict assessment criteria to ensure that commercial tourism proposals do not impact negatively on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and notes that a separate Tourism Master Plan will be elaborated in order to refine the balance between legitimate tourism development and conservation of cultural and natural attributes, based on consultation and negotiation with relevant stakeholders, including the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community;
  5. Notes the information provided by the State Party with regard to the recent fires which affected the property, and also requests the State Party to ensure that fire research and management are fully reflected in the revision of the draft Management Plan for the property, including through the evaluation of recent experiences with fire response and taking into account the conclusions and recommendations made by the independent review of the management of the Tasmanian fires of January 2016;
  6. Encourages the State Party to explore the possibility of dual naming for the property, to reflect its wilderness character, its Aboriginal heritage and the relationship of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community with the property;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by mid-2017, a synthesis report of all available information on cultural sites of the property and a detailed plan for the comprehensive cultural survey, as recommended by the mission, and, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Big Protection For Our Little Penguins 

Sunday July 10, 2016
North Head’s Little Penguin colony is under close surveillance and a number of security measures have been put in place to protect them as the colony’s breeding season officially begins this week, Environment Minister Mark Speakman said today.

Volunteer Little Penguin Wardens and the National Parks and Wildlife Service are working around the clock to keep a close eye on the penguin colony, which is the last on the NSW mainland, to ensure the breeding season runs smoothly.

“In the lead up to the Little Penguin breeding season NPWS has been monitoring known burrows and wardens will regularly patrol nesting sites to ensure no-one interferes with the penguins,” Minister Speakman said.
“A network of monitoring cameras has also been set up to keep track of the animals’ movements and to alert NPWS rangers and field officers to the presence of any predators such as foxes and domestic dogs that could pose a threat to the colony.”

Other measures undertaken to protect the colony include:
• Use of fox detection dogs
• Installation of fox deterrent lighting
• Laying of baits, traps, and pest ejectors
• Increased signage around North Head to alert and educate visitors and locals about the colony

Mr Speakman said for the first time Bushlink volunteers would be regularly removing rubbish such as discarded fishing line from Collins Flat in an effort to minimise the risks to the penguins.

Heavy fines applied for dog owners who take animals into critical habitat areas and the national park.

Little Penguins are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, and the colony of Little Penguins and their habitat at North Head is protected as an endangered population under the Threatened Species Conservations Act 1995.

Australian Laws Lag On Electronic Waste Management

July 12, 2016: Myles Gough – UNSW
Australia’s management of electronic waste is poorly implemented, lags behind international best practice, and is based on outdated recycling targets, University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers say.
The scientists have reviewed Australia’s e-waste laws, comparing them to those of two international leaders in the field of e-waste recycling: Japan and Switzerland. They found Australia’s approach is ineffective and requires greater compliance measures to prevent hazardous pollutants from ending up in landfill.

The report is published in the Journal of Environmental Management

“What is worrying is that our legislation is unable to keep pace with the amount of e-waste we’re now generating,” says Professor Graciela Metternicht from UNSW’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. “Our recycling targets may have been good 10 years ago, but they are ineffective today. We recommend the targets be revised.”

The researchers say e-waste is being generated three times faster than all other forms of waste. Electronic or electrical waste is defined in their report as any device that can connect to a power supply.  These devices can contains small amounts of hazardous pollutants such as lead, arsenic and mercury, which can have environmental and public health impacts if disposed of improperly.

Recycling helps prevent these pollutants from ending up in landfill and means some of the valuable metals in various components can be recovered. But this process is still expensive and has led many countries, including Australia, to illegally ship e-waste to less developed economies where dangerous and environmentally harmful recycling methods persist, the researchers say.

The UNSW team analysed four key pieces of legislation, including the National Waste Policy 2009 and the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme 2011, and established “indicators of effectiveness” by which to evaluate them. They surveyed stakeholders and experts to validate these indicators, and compared Australia’s legislative environment and waste management practices to those of Japan and Switzerland.

While the introduction of e-waste laws in Australia resulted in an overall increase in recycling, the UNSW team identified major flaws with the legislation and outlined key recommendations. They say:

• The scope of what is considered e-waste under Australian law is not broad enough, and that new categories of e-waste, legislated for recovery and recycling, would reduce public confusion and help meet the objectives of the laws.
• There is a lack of clarity over the role of stakeholders including consumers, retailers, and local governments, which are responsible for the majority of e-waste collection. More effective waste management hinges on more clearly defined roles.
• There are education and accessibility issues, with consumers in some regional locations in Australia needing to travel more than 100 km to recycling depots or drop-off sites. They say local councils need additional support to improve access.
• Auditing, compliance and reporting measures are weak in every stage of the e-waste recycling system in Australia, and need to be improved.
• Australia needs to re-assess its recycling target and associated time frame in a holistic manner if it is to address the increasing e-waste generated by our society.

“We’re not saying the rules need to be completely overhauled or rewritten, but compared to other countries, our auditing and compliance measures certainly need to be enhanced,” says Metternicht.

“We can have the most ambitious targets in the world, but without the necessary enforcement and compliance measures these would be meaningless.”

The report’s lead author, UNSW honours student Ashleigh Morris, says the legislation needs to better support local councils: “The current legislation places no responsibility on consumers to dispose of e-waste, and the councils who manage the largest volumes of this hazardous and valuable form of waste are not supported to do so.” 

Morris says it is as much a social issue as an environmental one: “Australians are the second largest producers of waste per person in the world,” she says. “This is a culture that we need to move away from, but until Australians stop seeing waste as an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem, the issues with e-waste will continue to grow exponentially.”

Werris Creek Discharge Meets Environmental Requirements

Media release: 14 July 2016: NSW EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its investigations into discharges from the Werris Creek Mine.

Lindsay Fulloon, EPA Manager Operations Armidale said the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) requested a report from the Werris Creek Mine after being alerted to the water discharge on the 30 June by a local resident

“The EPA received the report from the mine late last week about a controlled water discharge that took place from 23 June to the 1 July 2016,” Mr Fulloon said.

“The report highlighted that testing undertaken by the mine before the discharge occurred complied with the water quality limits set in the mine’s EPL.

“This is consistent with the EPA’s observations during the inspection, which confirmed that good quality water had been discharged from the mines sediment basin.

“The EPA has concluded that this was a lawful discharge by the mine but recognises that adjacent landholders have a reasonable expectation that they should be advised prior to controlled discharges occurring.

“The EPA has raised those expectations with the mine,” he said.

Werris Creek Mine holds an Environment Protection Licence (EPL) which allows the discharge of stormwater from the site under two different scenarios.  The first is when the water to be discharged has been tested to demonstrate that the water quality limits listed in the EPL have been met.

The second is when rainfall received on site within the preceding 5 day period exceeds the design capacity of the holding ponds.  In this case, the mine must be able to demonstrate that it has been actively managing the water stored within its sedimentation ponds in the lead up to the rainfall event, ensuring that it has done all it can to maintain the required design capacity.

The discharge followed significant rain fall prior to and during 23 June to the 1 July 2016.  During this period the mine was able to test and confirm that the water complied with the water quality limits within its EPL before releasing it in a controlled manner.

The EPA is satisfied that the discharge met the requirements of the conditions of the mine’s EPL which is designed to protect the environment.

Katandra Sanctuary

Katandra is a sanctuary for flora and fauna where the wildflowers are their most colourful during spring but all year round there are opportunities for bird watching. The sanctuary covers 12 hectares and is situated on the Ingleside/Warriewood escarpment. Choose to follow a short walk of about 1km or the longer 2km track through rainforest remnants with creeks and fern-fringed pools. Visit:
National Tree Day in Pittwater

– July 31, 2016
Whitney Reserve, Mona Vale & Careel Bay Reserve, Avalon

Participate in National Tree Day event from 9am-1pm and help enhance Pittwater’s natural environment. National Tree Day is Australia’s largest nature event. It is organised by Planet Ark and calls on community members to plant trees at selected sites to improve the local green canopy. 

Trees cool and beautify neighbourhoods, bring nature to communities and have environmental benefits for years to come. More info available 

Where: • Whitney Reserve, access from Whitney Road or Suzanne Street, Mona Vale and • Careel Bay Reserve North (near dog exercise area). Meet at the corner of Etival St and Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon. 

Please wear suitable clothes such as long sleeves, trousers, sturdy shoes, a hat and bring water to drink. Council will provide refreshments and free native plants for you to take home and plant in your own garden.

RSVP: Helena Dewis on 9970 1367 or


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

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

25 September, Irrawong Reserve, North Narrabeen

27 November, Warriewood Wetlands

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


An estimated 50 million plastic bags end up in our waterways and marine environment in Australia every year.

Plastic pollution is killing our marine life. 30% of the world’s turtles and 90% of seabird species have now ingested plastic debris. We have to act now to clean up our oceans.

Petition - Plastic bag in mangroves - Careel Creek, June, 2016

Plastic Free July

The challenge is quite simple...attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July. 

Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. You can sign up for a day, a week or the whole month and try to refuse ALL single-use plastic or try the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.

By 2050 its estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans. Most comes from land and was was once in our hands. Refuse single-use plastic and together lets keep our oceans clean. Join over 40,000 people, schools and organisations from 90 countries and let those same hands be part of the solution.

Accept the challenge and find out more here:

Bush Regeneration And Envirofun Weekend 

On: August 26-28, 2016
At: Pittwater YHA, Morning Bay

Volunteer for two mornings’ bush regeneration and receive free accommodation, two evening meals, two BBQ lunches and two morning teas and free use of kayaks over the weekend of 26 to 28 August. Alternatively come for a Saturday or Sunday morning bush regeneration and enjoy a morning tea and BBQ lunch and kayak. It is only a $20 contribution ($50 nonrefundable booking fee with a $30 refund on arrival) for a weekend of great company, food and activities. 

Bookings essential: 9999 5748 Email: 

A Pittwater YHA activity in partnership with: • Pittwater Natural Heritage Association • National Parks and Wildlife Service • Northern Beaches Council • supported by the Greater Sydney Local Land Service • with funding from the Australian Government and the NSW Government.

Have Your Say On:

Appin-West Cliff Mining Complex: Bulli Seam Operations Project - MOD 2

From doc: 'Approval is sought to construct and operate a 1 m diameter suction gas pipeline between Appin No. 3 Vent Shaft and the existing gas drainage plant at Appin No. 2 Shaft (approximately 4 km in length). The pipeline will be buried at the surface, for the most part, along Brooks Point Road.

South 32, Illawarra Coal (Illawarra Coal) proposes to continue its underground mining operations at the Bulli Seam Operations (Appin and West Cliff Mines), located in the Southern Coalfield of New South Wales, by extracting coal from the Bulli Seam using longwall mining techniques. 
In order to support the safe and efficient extraction of coal in the Bulli Seam Operations (BSO), Illawarra Coal proposes to optimise the underground extraction and utilisation of methane gas from the mine by implementing the “Mine Safety Gas Management Project” (MSGMP). 

Installation and operation of the proposed pipeline will enable the existing Appin East gas drainage management system to remain in service for an extended period by reducing the frictional pressure drop and leakage in the pipelines between the mining areas and the gas extraction plant. Considerable benefits in terms of power generation and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will also result from the Project. 

If the proposed pipeline cannot be installed, the existing Appin East gas extraction system will not be able to provide sufficient suction to extract gas from the mining areas and additional gas extraction infrastructure will need to be installed at an alternative location.'

Exhibition Start 08/07/2016
Exhibition End 05/08/2016

Have Your Say On Modifications To The Bulga Coal Mine

14.07.2016: Departmental Media Release  Author: Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Bulga Coal Management Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Glencore, for modifications to the Bulga coal mine will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal which seeks to:
re-design the mine’s eastern mining waste area
dispose of coal processing wastes within the main mining pit instead of underground.

The mine is located approximately 12 kilometres southwest of Singleton. The proposed works are to the east of the mine, away from the town of Bulga.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.”

To make a submission or view the statement of environmental effects (SEE), visit

Submissions can be made from Wednesday 13 July until Wednesday 27 July, 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment,23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Singleton Council, Administration Centre, corner of Queen Street and Civic Avenue, Singleton
Nature Conservation Council, 14/338 Pitt Street, Sydney

Statement of Environmental Effects FINAL July 2016':

Approved Development (SSD 4960)
Project Area (approximately 4672 hectares) excluded land owned by
Mushroom Composters (refer to Figure 1.2).

Proposed Modification
The Project Area (approximately 4879 hectares) amended to include land
owned by the Mushroom Composters (refer to Figure 1.3).

Approved Development (SSD 4960)
Tailings will be disposed of in the Deep Pit and Bayswater Pit with tailings also proposed to be disposed of in the underground workings. Coarse rejects and paste thickened tailings will be codisposed with overburden.

Proposed Modification
An additional tailings storage facility will be located within the confines of the existing  mining operation in the MainPit (refer to Figure 3.1). Tailings
return water will continue to be stored and re-used within the existing BCC water management system

Pacific Highway Upgrade - Sapphire to Woolgoolga: Modification 8 

Material Reuse Strategy

To permanently retain, at five (5) sites outside the Pacific Highway alignment in Sapphire Beach and Moonee Beach, surplus material generated during construction of the project. The surplus material has been used to carry out earthworks to create an improved landform. The re-use of the surplus material will ensure the final landform suits its proposed use or improves the amenity alongside the project, and provides beneficial future re-use opportunities at each site.

Exhibition Start 22/06/2016
Exhibition End 22/07/2016
Qld Government Must Block Rio Tinto Mine Sale to Protect the Taxpayer

July 13, 2016: Media Release by Lock The Gate Alliance
The Lock the Gate Alliance has accused Rio Tinto of knowingly putting the Queensland taxpayer at risk of having to pay for the rehabilitation of the Blair Athol coal mine as a result of the company’s attempt to off load the mothballed mine to a financially distressed junior mining company.

The Alliance has written to three State Ministers calling on them to block the sale of Rio’s Blair Athol Mine to junior mining company TerraCom Ltd, for just $1, following a similar attempt by Rio Tinto to sell Blair Athol to the now bankrupt Linc Energy in 2013.

Terracom was in financial distress in 2015 and remains in the position this year, following a debt restructure, due to the extent of its leverage combined with depressed coal markets, according to analysts IEEFA.

“Rio operated Blair Athol for 30 years and made huge profit from the operation. When it shut the mine in 2012, Rio gave a public undertaking that it would fulfill its legal obligations and fully rehabilitate the site. This sale shows Rio wants to renege on this commitment and is now trying to sell the site to a junior mining company and avoid the full cost of rehabilitating the mine,” said Lock the Gate’s Mine Rehabilitation Reform Campaign Coordinator Rick Humphries.

In letters to the State Treasurer Curtis Pitt, Minister for Natural Resources Anthony Lynham and Minister for The Environment Stephen Miles, Lock the Gate cited TerraCom’s level of debt, fragile cash flow and total inexperience as grounds to block the sale. The letters also congratulated the Government for blocking the Linc Energy transaction on similar grounds.

“TerraCom is in a distressed state financially due to its huge debt and is in a worse financial state than Linc was when the Government blocked that sale. In addition Terracom has no demonstrated experience or capacity to rehabilitate large scale open cut coal mines such as Blair Athol which is a complex, very high risk site,” Mr Humphries said.

“On these grounds the Government should block this sale as they did with Linc given the huge financial risk to the taxpayer.

“Rio has said it will pay TerraCom $80 million - an amount equivalent to the rehabilitation financial assurance - to get this liability off its books. We know that $80m is not enough and Rio is prepared to stump up this amount because it knows it will cost a lot more, probably twice this amount, to actually properly rehabilitate the site.

“It’s now up to the Queensland Government to protect the state’s taxpayers from being left with the cost of cleaning up after Rio and block this sale from going ahead. If big multinational mining companies like Rio are not prepared to respect Queenslanders and do the right thing then the Government must, as they did with Linc Energy, step in and protect our interests. Further the Government should enforce the existing Environmental Authority over the Blair Athol site and force Rio Tinto to immediately start the full rehabilitation of the mine,” Mr Humphries concluded.
Wollongong Coal issued $30,000 fine for discharge into Bellambi Gully

Media release: 2016/07/15 - NSW EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Wollongong Coal $30,000 after the company’s Russel Vale coal mine discharged dirty water into Bellambi Gully last December. 

This fine is one of several regulatory actions the EPA has taken in response to recent water-related incidents at the Russell Vale mine to help improve water management at the mine and protect Bellambi Gully from dirty water discharges. 

The EPA Manager for the Illawarra region Peter Bloem said the pollution of the creek in December had occurred when a faulty water sprinkler used for dust suppression and an unsealed inspection portal in a coal stockpile area allowed coal fines to be discharged from the premises into Bellambi Gully. The two fines – for pollution of waters and for inadequate maintenance of plant and equipment – total $30,000.

“This penalty notice is in addition to a clean-up direction that was issued by the EPA to Wollongong Coal immediately following the discharge incident,” Mr Bloem said.

“Water management at this mine is critical given its sensitive location on the foothills of the Illawarra escarpment and its discharge through residential areas of Bellambi Gully to Bellambi Beach.”

The EPA has continued to respond to reports of turbid water discharges from the mine to Bellambi Gully. In June 2016 these reports related to a Sydney Water main bursting in dry weather and the release of black storm water from the premises following heavy rainfall.

The EPA has attached additional water quality and volume monitoring requirements to Wollongong Coal’s Environment protection licence so as to provide a greater level of information about water quality discharged from the coal mine to Bellambi Gully, particularly following rainfall. The collected information will help to show the current performance of the water management system and guide any future improvement works.

The company has a duty to publish this monitoring data on its website to provide public access to information about the environmental performance of the mine

Following discussions between EPA, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and Wollongong Coal, an independent audit of the adequacy of the water management system at the Russell Vale mine will also be conducted. This audit will be included in an overall Independent Environmental Audit of the mine, and the combined audit report will be submitted to DPE by 29 August 2016. 

“The findings of this audit and monitoring program will be used to help inform any future compliance actions,” Mr Bloem said.

“The onus is on Wollongong Coal to demonstrate to the EPA and the local community that they have taken and continue to undertake all practical measures to prevent water pollution.”

Penalty notices are just one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at:

Camden Gasfields Petition

AGL still have 96 coal seam gas production wells in South Western Sydney, surrounding Camden, some between 40m - 200m from family homes and schools.

While the Eastern suburbs, electorates for Mike Baird and Malcolm Turnbull MP, have zero.

As the largest growth center in Sydney there are current plans to build 35,000 new homes as close as 20m from AGLs existing coal seam gas wells.

AGL plans to stop all production in this area by 2023.  This is not acceptable. These families do not deserve 7 more years of these horrific health effects.  35,000 new homes in the same area is a health epidemic in the making.

Australian Mothers-Against-Gas started this petition with a single signature, now they need more support to help protect Camden and shut down those wells NOW.

Petition here

Melanoma rates falling among younger Australian people

Canberra, 13 July 2016
Skin cancers overall account for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year and Australia has the world's second highest melanoma incidence rates, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Skin cancer in Australia, presents the latest information on skin cancers-a disease group including melanoma of the skin and non-melanoma skin cancer-in Australia.

The report estimates that almost 13,300 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in Australia in 2016, with about 1,800 people dying from the disease.

'Since 1982, the rate of melanoma in the population has almost doubled-up from 27 to 49 cases per 100,000 people,' said AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey.

'The good news is that for people aged under 40 the rate has dropped, from 13 cases per 100,000 people in 2002, to about 9 in 2016.'

Long-running public education campaigns on the effects of sun exposure may be related to this decrease.

The report also shows that survival from melanoma is relatively high, with people diagnosed in 2007-2011 having a 90% chance of surviving at least five years. This is much higher than the five-year survival rate for all cancers combined (67%).

The total number of new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer is unknown. However, non-melanoma skin cancer is estimated to account for more cases diagnosed than all other cancers combined.

'In 2016, an estimated 560 people will die from non-melanoma skin cancer, with a death rate of 1.9 deaths per 100,000 people,' Mr Harvey said.

Hospitalisations for all types of skin cancer are also common, and have increased significantly over the last decade.

In 2013-14, there were over 23,400 melanoma-related hospitalisations in Australia, a 63% rise from the 14,350 recorded in 2002-03. Over the same period, non-melanoma skin cancer -related hospitalisations rose by 39%, from about 82,400 in 2002-03, to around 114,700 in 2013-14.

In 2014, almost $137 million in Medicare benefits were paid for melanoma-related services ($9.4 million) and non-melanoma skin cancers ($127.5 million). Excluding cancer screening expenses, non-melanoma skin cancer accounted for over 8% of health spending on all cancers in Australia in 2008-09.

Full publication: Skin cancer in Australia  
New eye test could detect glaucoma years earlier

July 12, 2016: University of New South Wales
UNSW Australia scientists have developed a testing protocol that identifies the blinding eye disease glaucoma four years earlier than current techniques.

The patented method involves patients looking at small dots of light of specially chosen size and light intensity. An inability to see them indicates blind spots in the eye and early loss of peripheral vision.

A study assessing 13 patients using this improved technique for visual field testing has been recently published in the journal Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics.

"Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in the world, and in the early stages patients usually have no symptoms and are not aware they are developing permanent vision loss," says Director of the UNSW Centre for Eye Health Professor Michael Kalloniatis.

"The cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure, but its progression can be slowed with eye drops or surgery to lower pressure in the eye. So, early detection and early treatment is vital for prolonging sight."

Glaucoma involves the slow destruction of the optic nerve at the back of the eye, with early loss mainly occurring in peripheral vision. More than 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, and the risks of the disease increase with age and family history.

Four tests are currently used to diagnose glaucoma: an eye pressure test, observation of the optical nerve, microscopic examination of the anterior eye, and visual field testing using a machine called a Visual Field Analyser.

The UNSW innovation involves an automated visual field analysis system that uses a pattern of differently sized spots, which takes into account the fact that the eye processes visual information away from central vision differently. Current visual field testing systems use just one test size to measure vision at different locations of the visual field.

The design has been patented in the US and the European Union, with the inventors named as Professor Kalloniatis, Dr Sieu Khuu of the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science, and Dr Noha Alsaleem, a former Masters student at UNSW.

When the UNSW approach was used to assess 13 patients with early glaucoma or optic nerve damage, and 42 people without eye disease, greater vision loss was detected in all patients than using the standard test.

"The current method of visual field testing, which uses just one dot size, is good but not ideal. Our test appears to be much more sensitive at detecting disease in an early stage. On average, we expect we will be able to detect glaucoma four years earlier than at present," says Professor Kalloniatis.

His team is currently using the new test to assess up to 30 more patients at the UNSW Centre for Eye Health. They would like to conduct a much larger clinical trial to determine its effectiveness.

"We hope our new approach will eventually be introduced around the world, and treatment can begin earlier to slow down vision loss in glaucoma," says Professor Kalloniatis.

The Centre for Eye Health is an initiative of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and UNSW and provides state-of-the-art eye imaging and visual systems diagnostic services to the general community at no charge. It is well placed to carry out a clinical trial because it examines around 3000 patients a year with glaucoma or suspected glaucoma.

Michael Kalloniatis, Sieu K. Khuu. Equating spatial summation in visual field testing reveals greater loss in optic nerve disease. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 2016; 36 (4): 439 DOI: 10.1111/opo.12295
Federal Government approves Stage 2 of WestConnex motorway

Media release 11 July 2016: The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

The Federal Government has today provided the environmental approval for Stage 2 of the WestConnex motorway.

Today’s decision gives the New South Wales Government the green light to start construction on this key piece of infrastructure.

WestConnex is a $16.8 billion project which will deliver real benefits to millions of people in western and south-western Sydney, with much improved connections to the CBD, inner west and the airport.

The decision follows a thorough assessment process and a significant period of public consultation.

Conditions on the approval under national environmental law endorse those imposed as part of approval under the New South Wales development consent.

These include comprehensive conditions to secure offsets for the critically endangered Cooks River / Castlereagh Ironbark Forest ecological community and Green and Golden Bell Frog.

This includes a captive breeding plan for the Green and Golden Bell Frog and the construction and maintenance of additional habitat.

Construction affecting the Castlereagh Ironbark ecological community cannot commence until offsets are identified and evidence is provided that they are achievable.

Stage 2 of WestConnex involves the construction of twin tunnels approximately 9 kilometres in length between Beverley Hills and St Peters, Sydney.

Only Stage 2 of WestConnex was referred for Commonwealth environmental approval. Stage 1 is already under construction and Stage 3 is yet to commence.

Sparkles The Cat Finds A Warm Corner And Toasty Winter Sun

This lovely picture of 'Sparkles' was sent in by Joanne Seve this week. 

Sparkles arrived just as we were going through some pictures taken of some great sand drawings done on Clareville Beach and how toasty warm it can be there of an afternoon when cold winter winds are blowing.

We've put some of this Sand Art, along with a few others things seen at Clareville Beach, into a page for you to have a look at HERE.

Maybe you can find a nice sunny corner soon, with a sandy beach, and make some sand pictures of your own. Whichever way the wind blows theer's always a sheltered nook here, and a lovely view.

Thanks for the great picture Joanne - Sparkles sure looks warm and comfy!

New Toy Bounces Into Play School In Time For 50th Celebrations

11the July 2016: by ABC
A new friend is set to bounce into ABC KIDS’ Play School just in time to celebrate the program’s 50th birthday. Joey the joey, designed by award winning children’s book illustrator Bruce Whatley (Diary of a Wombat, Josephine Wants to Dance, The Ugliest Dog in the World), will make her debut on the much anticipated birthday episode, Come To The Party, airing on ABC KIDS and ABC iview at 9.30am on 18 July.

Play School Executive Producer, Jan Stradling says, “We’re very excited to welcome Joey to the Play School family and look forward to sharing her with viewers on the momentous occasion of the series’ 50th birthday. It’s been a joy working with celebrated artist Bruce Whatley and watching him bring Joey to life. We know she will be warmly embraced by viewers all around Australia.

Bruce Whatley says, “Play School was such a staple part of our household when our children were growing up and as adults they still have fond memories of the presenters and toys. It was quite an honour to be asked to create the character of Joey for such an iconic production as Play School and it’s pretty cool to even be a small part of the nostalgia of the generations that are to follow.

As well as meeting Joey on Play School’s 50th birthday, viewers can continue to enjoy two more instalments of the Play School Celebrity Covers episodes on ABC KIDS and ABC iview: The Umbilical Brothers with Fairytale Mash-up at 8am and John Hamblin singing Old MacDonald at 5pm, followed by the half hour Play School Celebrity Covers Special at 6.30pm, featuring Hamish and Andy, John Hamblin, Dan Sultan; Molly Meldrum and Charlie Pickering, Delta Goodrem, Benita Collings and Don Spencer, Josh Thomas,  Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, Guy Sebastian, Magda Szubanski, and You Am I.

Join the conversation on #PlaySchool50
Retirement of Chief Medical Officer

13 July 2016: Federal Government Department of Health
The Secretary of the federal Department of Health, Martin Bowles, today announced that Professor Chris Baggoley will retire as Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) on July 15. 

“Since Professor Baggoley was appointed by the Department to this key role in April 2011 he has been an influential figure in the nation’s response to numerous challenges and threats to our health,” Mr Bowles said.

“In particular, he has been outstanding in progressing the nation’s response to antimicrobial resistance, vaccine preventable disease, the risk of new communicable diseases, and improved screening and early diagnosis of non-communicable diseases such as cancer.

“In addition to leading Australia’s response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, which was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) in August 2014, Professor Baggoley made a significant contribution to the international response as a member of the WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola which provided advice throughout 2014-15 to the WHO Director General.

“Over the past three years of ongoing international concern with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS) Professor Baggoley has not only supervised Australia’s monitoring of MERS but has also led the international effort to minimise the threat from this disease as chair of the WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on MERS from 2013 to the present.

“Most recently, he has supervised Australia’s response to, and preparedness for, Zika virus.”

Mr Bowles said Professor Baggoley has also been central to the achievement of both legislation and cooperative frameworks to improve the nation’s defences against and response to health emergencies.

These included:
• The first National Framework for Communicable Disease Control was endorsed by Australian Health Ministers in 2013-14, bringing together governments, agencies and committees to support an integrated national public health response to communicable disease threats.
• The National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy, released in June 2015, takes a OneHealth approach which recognises that human, animal and ecosystem health are inextricably linked.
• The Biosecurity Act 2015 replaced the 1908 Quarantine Act, providing a flexible and responsive law which can adapt to changes in technology and future challenges.

“I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Professor Brendan Murphy as Australia’s new CMO who will take up the position from 4 October 2016,” Mr Bowles said.

“Professor Murphy is an experienced clinician but also highly experienced in stakeholder management, strategic direction-setting and policy advice. 

“He has been the Chief Executive Officer of Austin Health in Victoria since 2005. He is also a Director of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and Independent Chair of Health Services Innovation Tasmania. 

“Professor Murphy is also a former deputy Chair of Health Workforce Australia and a former President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology.” 

Mr Bowles said he had also appointed Dr Tony Hobbs to the new role of Deputy CMO.

Dr Hobbs will be acting CMO until Professor Murphy takes up his appointment.
Savings from TAFE NSW reforms to be reinvested in TAFE

July 13, 2016: NSW Government
New reforms for TAFE NSW will modernise the state-wide education system to reduce excessive overheads, fund more teaching services and make sure courses are consistent across all campuses.

A single, multi-campus TAFE NSW will replace the current 25-year-old model to make it more competitive in the education market.

Savings from the reforms will be reinvested back into TAFE to train NSW students for jobs of the future.

NSW Minister for Skills John Barilaro said for every $1 million saved from the reforms, TAFE NSW has the potential to train a further 250 students.

“This reform will make significant savings on back-office administration and management which will be reinvested back into training and skilling the people of NSW for the jobs of the future”, Mr Barilaro said.

The reforms also include:
  • 12 new Connected Learning Centres will open each month in 2017, giving students access to TAFE training and teaching across the network
  • a new TAFE Digital Education headquarters will be created in regional NSW
  • any money from land or asset sales will be invested back into TAFE NSW. 
Download the Vision for TAFE NSW brochure (PDF 4.5MB) to find out more.
Is the last 'man' standing in comedy the least funny?

July 13, 2016: Australian Catholic University
The world's best stand-up comedians -- household names including Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfield, Ricky Gervais and Eddie Murphy -- are more likely to die than comedic and dramatic screen and stage actors, according to a landmark study published in the International Journal of Cardiology.

The study -- Is the last 'man' standing in comedy the least funny? A retrospective cohort study of elite stand-up comedians versus other entertainers -- revealed "a pattern of premature mortality in elite stand-up comedians" indicating that higher comedic standing is linked to younger age at death compared to screen comedians and so-called serious dramatic actors.

This retrospective cohort study of 498 people included 200 Stand-up Comedians (13% women), 114 Comedy Actors (17.5% women), and 184 Dramatic Actors (29.3% women) listed in the top 200 in each category on popular online crowd-ranking website These individuals appeared in the 2015 lists 'Funniest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time', 'Funniest People of All Time' and 'Greatest Actors and Actresses in Entertainment History'.

Lead researcher Professor Simon Stewart, a world-leading cardiac researcher from the Mary MacKillop Institute of Health Research at Australian Catholic University, said there was a "significant gradient in the age of death, with stand-up comedians dying at a younger age (67.1 years) than their comedy actor (68.9) and dramatic actor (70.7) counterparts."

"Indeed, the data confirmed an adverse relationship between comedic ability and longevity, with elite standup comedians more highly rated by the public more likely to die prematurely," Professor Stewart said. "Overall, the results point to a need for awareness of health and wellbeing concerns in the entertainment industry, and in elite comedians in particular."

"It appears that for stand-up comedians, being at the very top may be no laughing matter."

The MacKillop Institute research confirmed "significantly more deaths among stand-up comedians (14 of 36 deaths -- 38.9%) categorised as 'premature' relative to population-based, life expectancy when compared to dramatic actors (11 of 56 -19.6%), with no difference when compared to comedy actors (9 of 33 deaths -- 27.3%)." And stand-up comedians experienced proportionately more non-natural deaths (7 of 36 -- 19.4%) than their comedy actor (3 of 33 -- 9.1%) and dramatic actor (6 of 56 -- 10.7%) counterparts. Of note, stand-up comedians contributed to both reported suicides and 4 of 9 drug-related deaths.

"Within an international cohort of stand-up comedians spanning the last century and voted by the public as the funniest of their profession, we discovered that greater comedic ability was associated with a shorter lifespan, even after adjusting for life expectancy differences based on year of birth," he said. "Conversely, in parallel cohorts of the world's funniest comedy actors and the greatest dramatic actors, there was no evidence of premature mortality related to public-rated professional success or ability."

'Intriguing phenomenon'

Professor Stewart noted how his previous study -- 'Does comedy kill? A retrospective, longitudinal cohort, nested case-control study of humour and longevity in 53 British comedians' -- had found that the funniest comedians are most at risk of premature death and reduced longevity, compared to their less funny counterparts. That finding encouraged MacKillop researchers to undertake a "more extensive and objective study of this intriguing phenomenon."

"We suspected that if our original conclusions were correct, we would find that the purer and funnier the comedy art form, i.e. stand-up, the more strongly this premature death phenomenon would manifest itself," Professor Stewart said. "Specifically, we hypothesised that among stand-up comedians the inverse association between comedic ability and longevity would be both present and demonstrably stronger than observed in an equivalent cohort of comedy."

Professor Stewart's latest research confirmed the hypothesis.

Academy Award winners' longevity 'bias' does not apply to stand-up comedians

Professor Stewart noted the widespread association between high social status and low mortality -- as evidenced in a study finding that Academy Award winners live longer -- does not extend to every occupation. "Indeed stand-up comedians don't share the 3.9-year life expectancy advantage enjoyed by Oscar-winning actors, which highlights an intriguing and as-yet-unexamined discrepancy," he said.

By way of further discussion, Professor Stewart referenced an important 1993 study, which demonstrated that higher parent and teacher ratings of a child's sense of humour and cheerfulness-optimism predicted a greater likelihood of dying over seven decades. Also noted was how comedians appear to exhibit higher levels of psychotic traits (including manic-depression and schizotypal features) than non-comedians -- and at higher levels than actors.

Professor Stewart's research also discusses the "demands inherent to stand-up comedy" -- a "highly competitive profession with low pay and low job security; years of working under this pressure may exert a cumulative stress effect even once success has been achieved." "In contrast, elite dramatic actors (a category that applies to the current www.ranker.comcohort, as well as to the Academy Award winners described earlier) are more likely to have attained some degree of financial security, with the attendant benefits to health and wellbeing," he said.

Stand-ups expected to behave 'erratically' compared to more 'serious' actors

Further still, "stand-up comedians and dramatic actors may also face distinct social and professional expectations." "Successful dramatic actors are often regarded as 'role models' and expected to maintain a positive public image, with managers and 'minders' invested in enforcing certain standards of behaviour that might exert a protective effect on health and longevity. This does not appear to apply to stand-up comedians, who are often expected to behave eccentrically," Professor Stewart said. "In fact, in contrast to the highly supervised environment of a film set, the nature of the comedy 'workplace' (i.e., night venues such as clubs and bars) increases exposure to and engagement in violence and risky sexual behaviour, as well as consumption of alcohol, tobacco and drugs."

"Similarly, while screen actors are generally required to arrive on set early and adhere to tight schedules, thus increasing the likelihood of regular sleep patterns, stand-up comedy involves irregular and late hours and extensive travel," Professor Stewart said. "The associated difficulty in maintaining regular patterns of sleep, nutrition and exercise may contribute to detrimental physiological effects and health outcomes, including increased inflammatory markers, higher blood pressure, reduced glucose tolerance, obesity, heart disease, and mortality."

In concluding remarks, Professor Stewart said: "The current results reveal a pattern of premature mortality in elite stand-up comedians, and taken together with our previous findings, indicate that higher comedic standing is linked to younger age at death. Intrapersonal factors such as personality and other psychological features that help to develop and enhance the creative talent and success of these comedians may simultaneously contribute to their reduced longevity. External or social pressures specific to stand-up comedy may also play a role."

Simon Stewart, Joshua F. Wiley, Cressida J. McDermott, David R. Thompson. Is the last “man” standing in comedy the least funny? A retrospective cohort study of elite stand-up comedians versus other entertainers. International Journal of Cardiology, 2016; 220: 789 DOI:10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.06.284

Sunday Surfboats

By the  Drone Guy Published July 143, 2016
Just a perfect winter's morning at Palm Beach Sydney.

National Prize To Recognise Australia’s Mental Health Champions

July 13, 2016: Dan Wheelahan and Maggie Langham: UNSW
A national search is underway to find six Australians who have made the most outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

Former Governor General Dame Quentin Bryce (second from left) launched the Australian Mental Health Prize, which has been established by UNSW Medicine's School of Psychiatry in partnership with a a group of eminent Australians including (L-R) Henry Brodaty, Ita Buttrose, Sophie Scott and Jessica Rowe. Photo: UNSW Media.

At the height of relentless bullying at school and aged just 10, Sydney-based nursing student Isabelle felt like she couldn’t go on.

“Asking for help was a huge struggle but I finally told my Mum, who was horrified and found me support. The one thing that really helped was the Kids Helpline,” says Isabelle.

“Asking for help was ultimately a huge triumph. The people who provide mental health support services are today’s heroes.”

The story of the now 18-year-old highlights the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, and also the often thankless work of Australia’s mental health professionals.

UNSW Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev with 18 year old Isabelle, who started having mental health issues around aged 9 when she was subjected to bullying from peers and teachers. Photo: UNSW Media.

That is about to change, with a nationwide search on to find six Australians who have made the most significant contribution to mental health.

The inaugural Australian Mental Health Prize, established by UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry in partnership with a group of eminent Australians, is the first of its kind to acknowledge individuals at a national level.

The Prize will recognise Australians who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

“For far too long we have failed to recognise the hard work, innovation and dedication of professionals and researchers in mental health,” said former Governor General Dame Quentin Bryce, who launched the prize at UNSW today.

“An award such as this is the least we can do to show our gratitude and respect for those working in this critical sector.”

One in five Australians will experience mental illness in any given year, with 65% of those failing to access treatment.
The Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group, Ita Buttrose, said recognition was long overdue for those who battle something that profoundly affects so many Australians and their families.

“We should be proud of the incredibly exciting and good things happening in the mental health area in Australia,” Ms Buttrose said.

“We hope the award will help reduce stigma, raise awareness of mental health and help improve care in Australia.”

Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell, Head of the School of Psychiatry at UNSW, said Australia has led the way internationally in many aspects of mental health, such as community awareness, public advocacy and innovative services.

“Many Australians are doing important and ground-breaking work. We must share what is working for the sake of those who are living with the burden of mental illness every day,” Professor Mitchell said.

“We call upon clinicians, health professionals and the public at large to nominate the people they feel should be recognised for their work.”

Nominations close 31 August 2016. The six finalists will be announced 9–15 October 2016, to coincide with Mental Health Week. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 28 November.

The six finalists and the winner will be selected by the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group. Chaired by Ita Buttrose AO OBE, the Prize Advisory Group comprises:
UNSW Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell AM
Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO
Judy Brewer AO
Professor Allan Fels AO
Adam Gilchrist AM
Jack Heath
Professor Patrick McGorry AO
Ben Quilty
Jessica Rowe AM
Sophie Scott
UNSW Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty AO
UNSW Professor Valsamma Eapen
UNSW Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev AM.

For more information and a nomination form, visit:

Anyone seeking help can contact:
Lifeline 13 11 14  
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467  
Kid's Helpline  1800 55 1800 
Coles’ flybuys and Woolworths’ Rewards: what is the price of loyalty?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has today released two privacy assessment reports on the loyalty programs of Australia’s two largest supermarket retailers, Coles and Woolworths.

Retail loyalty programs are increasing in popularity with consumers and businesses alike, with 88 percent[1] of Australians now a member of a loyalty program. These programs operate by rewarding individuals for their purchases and in return retailers collect data about individual buying habits.

The Commissioner’s assessments focused on whether the personal information collected through Australia’s two largest loyalty programs was handled transparently, and in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.
‘We undertook the privacy assessments to check-up on Australia’s leading retail loyalty programs and to ensure customers’ personal information was being handled in accordance with the Privacy Act,’ said the Commissioner.

‘While it’s encouraging to see that Coles’ flybuys and Woolworths Rewards each had appropriate privacy notices that were consistent with their practices, it’s important that all Australians understand the bargain we strike with a retailer when we join a loyalty program.’

‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch, nor a free flight. The data that loyalty programs collect is valuable, and personal. So in this case, there is a price for the rewards from these programs.’

‘The details collected in these programs might seem insignificant on their own but when merged together they can paint a picture of who we are, what we do and how we behave. This information is worth a lot to organisations. So it’s important that we understand the terms of the programs we join — especially what privacy protections they include.’
‘So I’d ask Australians to think about how many loyalty cards they have right now, and ask themselves if they know what can happen to the personal information they have handed over to get the card. A way of knowing this is to read privacy policies before signing up so you can make an informed decision about what will happen to your personal information.’

Following the assessment of Coles and Woolworths, the OAIC will be assessing some of Australia’s other popular loyalty programs in the coming year.

About the report
The report assessed how Coles’ flybuys and Woolworths’ Rewards loyalty programs managed personal information in accordance with Australian Privacy Principle (APP) 1. The assessment also focused on whether Coles and Woolworths notified individuals of the collection of personal information in accordance with APP 5.

The assessment reports were conducted under Section 33C (1)(a) of the Privacy Act 1988. To access the reports, please visit

•Loyalty program assessment: flybuys — Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd   
• Loyalty program assessment: Woolworths Rewards — Woolworths Limited

About the OAIC
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has a range of regulatory responsibilities and powers under the Privacy Act 1988 and other legislation including the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
The OAIC is headed by the Acting Australian Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner is supported by the Assistant Commissioner, Regulation & Strategy and the Assistant Commissioner, Dispute Resolution, and OAIC staff.

For further information about the OAIC, please visit or follow @OAICgov.
New names on the Antarctic map

12th July 2016
You wouldn’t expect to find a crocodile or rhino in Antarctica but thanks to their distinctive shape, both now have an official icy island namesake.
‘Crocodile Island’ and ‘Rhino Island’ are among 28 newly named places in the Australian Antarctic Territory, including 17 islands and 11 geographical features.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s Place Names Committee oversees the naming of features in the Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard Island and McDonald Islands and territorial seas.

Suggestions for new place names are invited from the public, with the majority coming from past expeditioners and scientists.

Other features officially named by the committee include the Australian Antarctic Division’s blue ice runway is now officially recognised as ‘Wilkins Aerodrome’. The runway has been operating since 2008 and was named after Sir Hubert Wilkins, a pioneer of Antarctic aviation and exploration.

‘Carey Nunatak’ is named after Samuel Warren Carey AO, the founding professor of geology at the University of Tasmania who was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to the field of geology.
‘Abatus Bay’ located north of Davis research station is named in recognition of the Abatus group of invertebrate species found in soft sediment benthic communities around Davis.

‘Uranus Island’ and ‘Neptune Island’ are named for their remoteness and the difficulties in visiting them.

‘Rescue Island’ pays homage to its role in the rescue of three scientists stranded on the nearby Torckler Island, with the rescuers stopping on the island to assess sea conditions before continuing.

The approved place names are recorded in the Australian Antarctic Gazetteer and the SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica. The Australian Antarctic Date Centre will update maps, charts and databases with the new names.

More information
Sunset over Wilkins Aerodrome, named after Sir Hubert Wilkins, a pioneer of Antarctic aviation and exploration (Photo: Gordon Tait)
Rare Paralympic history preserved by NFSA

July 11, 2016
The only known vision of the 1972 Paralympic Games is among rare footage from the 1970s and 1980s which has been donated to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) by Adelaide dentist and amateur filmmaker Don Worley.

The collection includes almost 10 hours of footage which helps chronicle the development of the Australian and international Paralympic movement from a time when such material is incredibly scarce.

Highlights from these films will be released by theNFSA, and published on its YouTube channel at 11:30am on 11 July:
The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) has found that Worley’s is possibly the only footage in the world to survive from some of these early sporting events for people with a disability.

‘Don’s films fill a huge gap in the history of the Australian Paralympic movement and give us a unique and wonderful insight into the environment and the performances of Paralympic athletes at Games in the 70s and 80s,’ said Tony Naar, Facilitator of the APC’s Paralympic History Project.
NFSA Curator Annie Breslin said: ‘In addition to their rarity, these films show a supportive grassroots community, the pioneering spirit of the early competitors, and the talent of the indefatigable Don Worley. He kept meticulous notes about all the films and we were able to work with him to identify the materials for the NFSA to preserve. All his footage has been digitised and is now part of the national collection.’

Don Worley said: ‘I think that these films are of inestimable value not only in gaining recognition for the athletes, but also in inspiring anyone, particularly young people, to realise that having a disability need not be a life sentence. It’s ability, not disability that counts.”

Mr Worley’s involvement with Paralympic sport began when he and his wife Barbara (a tennis player at state level) were involved in car accident in 1967, leaving her with paraplegia. As part of her rehabilitation Barbara began to train in several Para-sports, and eventually became a member of the South Australian wheelchair team.

When the Australian team manager broke his arm four weeks before the 1972 Heidelberg Paralympics, Mr Worley was invited to join the athletes as an escort, and was asked to take his Super 8 camera with him to ‘shoot some footage’. Mr Worley had to learn filmmaking technology and processes as he went along – including how to use a 16mm clockwork Pathé windup camera that would allow shooting of a maximum 29 seconds before rewinding was needed.

He would continue to document international competitions for the SA ParaQuad Association from 1972 to 1984, with his footage being used by the ABC to produce a number of documentaries. His films were screened regularly in halls and schools in South Australia, raising awareness of Para-sport and the achievements of athletes with a disability.

Paralympic history 1970s-80s
by Don Worley
ANU's Breakthrough in powering wireless sensors

Dr. Salman Durrani. Photo by Stuart Hay, ANU.

July 13, 2016
Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) are a step closer to harvesting renewable or ambient energy from mobile phone base stations to power battery-operated wireless sensors used in industries including health and agriculture.

Lead researcher Dr Salman Durrani from the ANU Research School of Engineering said current wireless sensors for buildings, biomedical applications or wildlife monitoring use batteries which are often difficult to replace.

In a research first, ANU researchers have accurately modelled how much energy it takes to sense and transfer information by wireless sensors. They are working on further ways to analyse the problem.

"A major problem hindering the widespread deployment of wireless sensor networks is the need to periodically replace batteries," said Dr Durrani.

Wireless sensors are increasingly being used in many aspects of daily life. For example, Australian viticulture uses sensors to measure temperature, wind speed, light, humidity and soil moisture to optimise the growth of grapes and prevent crop loss due to excessive heat or frost.

Wireless sensors are used in various Australian sports, such as rowing, to collect performance data from athletes. They are also used for condition monitoring of structures such as bridges and machinery in factories.

The research found it was feasible to replace batteries with energy harvested from solar or ambient radio frequency sources such as communication towers or other mobile phone base stations, with communication delays typically limited to less than a few hundred milliseconds.

Dr Durrani said although the technology was years away, the research dealt with an important practical problem.

"If we can use energy harvesting to solve the battery replacement problem for wireless sensors, we can implement long-lasting monitoring devices for health, agriculture, mining, wildlife and critical national infrastructure, which will improve the quality of life," Dr Durrani said.

Wanchun Liu, Xiangyun Zhou, Salman Durrani, Hani Mehrpouyan, Steven D. Blostein. Energy Harvesting Wireless Sensor Networks: Delay Analysis Considering Energy Costs of Sensing and Transmission. IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, 2016; 1 DOI:10.1109/TWC.2016.2543216

DJ Duo NERVO Inspire Women To Study Engineering

July 15, 2016 - Wilson Da Silva: UNSW
Eight top universities – led by the University of New South Wales – have launched a song and music video by Australian twin-sister DJ duo NERVO to highlight engineering as an attractive career for young women.

NERVO, made up of 29-year-old singer-songwriters and sound engineers Miriam Nervo and Olivia Nervo, launched the video clip for People Grinnin’worldwide on Friday 15 July.

In the futuristic music clip, a group of female engineers create android versions of NERVO in a high-tech lab, using glass touchscreens and a range of other technologies that rely on engineering, highlighting how it is embedded in every facet of modern life.

The song and video clip are part of Made By Me, a national collaboration between UNSW, the University of Wollongong, the University of Western Australia, the University of Queensland, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the University of Adelaide together with Engineers Australia, which launched on the same day across the country.

It aims to challenge stereotypes and shows how engineering is relevant to many aspects of our lives, in an effort to change the way young people, particularly girls, see engineering. Although a rewarding and varied discipline, it has for decades suffered gender disparity and chronic skills shortage.

NERVO, the Melbourne-born electronic dance music duo, pack dance floors from Ibiza to India and, according to Forbes,  are one of the world’s highest-earning acts in the male-dominated genre. They said the Made by Me project immediately appealed to them. “When we did engineering, we were the only girls in the class. So when we were approached to get behind this project it just made sense,” they said.

“We loved the chance to show the world that there is engineering in every aspect of our lives. We’re sound engineers, but our whole show is only made possible through expert engineering. From the makeup we wear, to the lights and the stage we perform on. Engineering makes it all possible, including the music that we make,” the duo added. 

Miriam Nervo and Olivia Nervo, the 29-year-old singer-songwriters and sound engineers who are twin sisters.

Alexandra Bannigan, UNSW Women in Engineering Manager and Made By Me spokesperson, said the project highlights the varied careers of engineers, and the ways in which engineers can make a real difference in the world. 

“When people think engineering, they often picture construction sites and hard hats, and that perception puts a lot of people off,” she said. “Engineering is more than that. This campaign shows how engineering is actually a really diverse and creative career option that offers strong employment prospects in an otherwise tough job market.”

She noted that the partner universities, which often compete for the best students, see the issue as important enough to work together. “We normally compete for students with rival universities, but this is such an important issue that we’re working together to break down those perceptions.”
Made By Me includes online advertising across desktop and mobiles, a strong social media push, a website telling engineering stories behind the video, links to career sites, as well as the song and video, to be released by Sony globally on the same day. Developed by advertising agency Whybin/TBWA, the campaign endeavours to change the way young people, particularly girls, see engineering.

“We needed to find a way to meet teenagers on home turf and surprise them with an insight into engineering that would open their minds to its possibilities,” said Mark Hoffman, UNSW’s Dean of Engineering. “This is what led to the idea of producing an interactive music video, sprinkled with gems of information to pique the audience’s interest in engineering.”

UNSW has recently accelerated efforts to attract more women into engineering, more than tripling attendance at its annual Women in EngineeringCamp, in which 90 bright young women in Years 11 and 12 came to UNSW from around Australia for a week this year to explore engineering as a career and visiting major companies like Google, Resmed and Sydney Water. It has also tripled the number of Women in Engineering scholarships to 15, valued at more than $150,000 annually.

Women in Engineering Camp - Jan 2016 - Group Pic

Hoffman, who became Dean of Engineering in 2015, has set a goal to raise female representation among students, staff and researchers to 30% by 2020. Currently, 23% of UNSW engineering students are female (versus the Australian average of 17%), which is up from 21% in 2015. In industry, only about 13% of engineers are female, a ratio that has been growing slowly for decades.

“Engineering has one of the highest starting salaries, and the average starting salary for engineering graduates has been actually higher for women than for men,” Hoffman said. “Name another profession where that’s happening.”

Australia is frantically short of engineers: for more than a decade, the country has annually imported more than double the number who graduate from Australian universities.

Some 18,000 engineering positions need to be filled annually, and almost 6,000 come from engineering students who graduate from universities in Australia, of whom the largest proportion come from UNSW in Sydney, which has by far the country’s biggest engineering faculty. The other 12,000 engineers arrive in Australia to take up jobs – 25% on temporary work visas to alleviate chronic job shortages.

“Demand from industry has completely outstripped supply, and that demand doubled in the past decade,” said Hoffman. “In a knowledge driven economy, the best innovation comes from diverse teams who bring together different perspectives. This isn’t just about plugging the chronic skills gap – it’s also a social good to bring diversity to our technical workforce, which will help stimulate more innovation. We can’t win at the innovation game if half of our potential engineers are not taking part in the race.”

UNSW has also created a new national award, the Ada Lovelace Medal for an Outstanding Woman Engineer, to highlight the significant contributions to Australia made by female engineers.

Year 12 High school students do engineering pracs- 6 July 2015  Photo by G. Turner

Women In Engineering Camp 2017

Are you a young woman currently in Year 10 or 11 and want a career where you can be at the forefront of positive change for society? Do you enjoy using lateral thinking, creativity and design? Or do you love problem solving, working in teams or have an aptitude for maths and science?

Join us for a four day 'camp' and find out about the exciting careers available to professional engineers.

When do applications open?
Applications for the 2017 camp open on 1 July 2016 and close on 25 September 2016.

When is the camp held?
The next camp will run Monday 9 to Friday 13 January, 2017Apply now

What does the camp involve?
  • Explore the diverse fields of engineering
  • Participate in interesting activities and workshops in health and bio systems, energy systems and the digital future
  • Meet like-minded students and work in teams on engineering design challenges
  • Visit sites around Sydney that showcase engineering in action. The companies visited are different each year.
  • Meet a range of successful engineers at a networking function
  • Explore career and lifestyle opportunities in Australia and internationally
  • Meet engineering students and graduates keen to share their experiences
  • Enjoy a number of social events and make new friends with similar interests to yours
  • Live on campus
Young women with a genuine interest in finding out about careers in engineering are encouraged to apply. To be eligible you must be an Australian citizen or permanent Australian resident, and be 16 years or older on 8 January, 2017.

How to Apply
When applications open, you will be able to apply online via a link on this page.

You will be asked for:
  • A statement about why you want to attend the camp (max 500 characters)
  • A statement about what interests you about maths/science (max 500 characters)
  • A statement about your academic achievements (max 500 characters)
  • A statement about your extra-curricular achievements (max 500 characters)
  • A referee we can contact
  • Your most recent school report
Available places in the Women in Engineering Camp are limited. Applicants will be selected on the basis of aptitude for engineering, including an interest in maths and science subjects at high school.

Places are reserved for students from rural areas and cases of financial hardship will be considered upon written application. Several travel grants for rural and interstate students are available, which cover the registration fee and travel costs (up to $600). If you wish to be considered for a travel grant, please indicate this on your application.

For more information about the camp, please email us.

NERVO - "People Grinning" - Made By Me

July 12, 2016: Wilson da Silva
“People Grinnin’”, the new music clip by Australia’s twin-sister DJ duo NERVO, made to highlight engineering as an attractive career for young women. The song and video clip are part of Made By Me, a national collaboration between eight top universities in Australia: the University of New South Wales , the University of Wollongong, the University of Western Australia, the University of Queensland, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the University of Adelaide together with Engineers Australia.

New Names On The Antarctic Map

12th July 2016
You wouldn’t expect to find a crocodile or rhino in Antarctica but thanks to their distinctive shape, both now have an official icy island namesake.
‘Crocodile Island’ and ‘Rhino Island’ are among 28 newly named places in the Australian Antarctic Territory, including 17 islands and 11 geographical features.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s Place Names Committee oversees the naming of features in the Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard Island and McDonald Islands and territorial seas.

Suggestions for new place names are invited from the public, with the majority coming from past expeditioners and scientists.

Other features officially named by the committee include the Australian Antarctic Division’s blue ice runway is now officially recognised as ‘Wilkins Aerodrome’. The runway has been operating since 2008 and was named after Sir Hubert Wilkins, a pioneer of Antarctic aviation and exploration.

Sunset over Wilkins Aerodrome, named after Sir Hubert Wilkins, a pioneer of Antarctic aviation and exploration (Photo: Gordon Tait)

‘Carey Nunatak’ is named after Samuel Warren Carey AO, the founding professor of geology at the University of Tasmania who was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to the field of geology.

‘Abatus Bay’ located north of Davis research station is named in recognition of the Abatus group of invertebrate species found in soft sediment benthic communities around Davis.

‘Uranus Island’ and ‘Neptune Island’ are named for their remoteness and the difficulties in visiting them.

‘Rescue Island’ pays homage to its role in the rescue of three scientists stranded on the nearby Torckler Island, with the rescuers stopping on the island to assess sea conditions before continuing.

The approved place names are recorded in the Australian Antarctic Gazetteer and the SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica. The Australian Antarctic Date Centre will update maps, charts and databases with the new names.

More information

Davis research station, showing the newly named Abatus Bay (top right) (Photo: David Barringhaus)

NASA's Juno Spacecraft Sends First In-Orbit View

This color view from NASA's Juno spacecraft is made from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5th (UTC). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

July 12, 2016 - by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The JunoCam camera aboard NASA's Juno mission is operational and sending down data after the spacecraft's July 4 arrival at Jupiter. Juno's visible-light camera was turned on six days after Juno fired its main engine and placed itself into orbit around the largest planetary inhabitant of our solar system. The first high-resolution images of the gas giant Jupiter are still a few weeks away.

"This scene from JunoCam indicates it survived its first pass through Jupiter's extreme radiation environment without any degradation and is ready to take on Jupiter," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "We can't wait to see the first view of Jupiter's poles."

The new view was obtained on July 10, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. PDT (1:30 p.m. EDT, 5:30 UTC), when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. The color image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, and three of the massive planet's four largest moons -- Io, Europa and Ganymede, from left to right in the image.

"JunoCam will continue to take images as we go around in this first orbit," said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. "The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when Juno makes its next close pass to Jupiter."

JunoCam is a color, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter's poles and cloud tops. As Juno's eyes, it will provide a wide view, helping to provide context for the spacecraft's other instruments. JunoCam was included on the spacecraft specifically for purposes of public engagement; although its images will be helpful to the science team, it is not considered one of the mission's science instruments.

The Juno team is currently working to place all images taken by JunoCam on the mission's website, where the public can access them.

During its mission of exploration, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times, soaring low over the planet's cloud tops -- as close as about 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Michael Ravine of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, is the JunoCam instrument lead. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

More information on the Juno mission is available at:

The public can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

Juno Approach Movie Of Jupiter And The Galilean Moons

by NASA Juno: July 2016
"All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace." - message relayed from HAL9000 - A Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke knew Europa had an ice covered ocean and his personal respect for life on Earth often reflected in his fiction. 
Sri Lankabhimanya Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host.

He is perhaps most famous for being co-writer of the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, widely considered to be one of the most influential films of all time. His other science fiction writings earned him a number of Hugo and Nebula awards, which along with a large readership made him one of the towering figures of science fiction. For many years Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction. As an avid populariser of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability, he wrote over a dozen books and many essays, which appeared in various popular magazines. In 1961 he was awarded the Kalinga Prize, an award which is given by UNESCO for popularizing science. These along with his science fiction writings eventually earned him the moniker "Prophet of the Space Age".

Clarke was a lifelong proponent of space travel. In 1934, while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. In 1945, he proposed a satellite communication system, an idea which won him the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1963, and other honours. Later he was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946–47 and again in 1951–53.

During World War II from 1941 to 1946 he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early-warning radar defence system, which contributed to the RAF's success during the Battle of Britain. Clarke spent most of his wartime service working on ground-controlled approach (GCA) radar, as documented in the semi-autobiographical Glide Path, his only non-science-fiction novel. Although GCA did not see much practical use during the war, it proved vital to the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949 after several years of development. Clarke initially served in the ranks, and was a corporal instructor on radar at No. 2 Radio School, RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire. He was commissioned as a pilot officer (technical branch) on 27 May 1943. He was promoted flying officer on 27 November 1943. He was appointed chief training instructor at RAF Honiley in Warwickshire and was demobilised with the rank of flight lieutenant.

Clarke immigrated to Sri Lanka in 1956, largely to pursue his interest in scuba diving. That year he discovered the underwater ruins of the ancientKoneswaram temple in Trincomalee.

In a 1974 taped interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the interviewer asked Clarke how he believed the computer would change the future for the everyday person, and what life would be like around the year 2001. Clarke accurately predicted many things that became reality, including online banking, online shopping, and other now commonplace things. Responding to a question about how the interviewer's son's life would be different, Clarke responded: "He will have, in his own house, not a computer as big as this, [points to nearby computer], but at least, a console through which he can talk, through his local computer and get all the information he needs, for his everyday life, like his bank statements, his theatre reservations, all the information you need in the course of living in our complex modern society, this will be in a compact form in his own house ... and he will take it as much for granted as we take the telephone."

2001: A Space Odyssey
Clarke's first venture into film was 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick and Clarke had met in New York City in 1964 to discuss the possibility of a collaborative film project. As the idea developed, they decided to loosely base the story on Clarke's short story, The Sentinel, written in 1948 as an entry in a BBC short story competition. Originally, Clarke was going to write the screenplay for the film, but Kubrick suggested during one of their brainstorming meetings that before beginning on the actual script, they should let their imaginations soar free by writing a novel first, on which they would base the film. "This is more or less the way it worked out, though toward the end, novel and screenplay were being written simultaneously, with feedback in both directions. Thus I rewrote some sections after seeing the movie rushes—a rather expensive method of literary creation, which few other authors can have enjoyed."

The novel ended up being published a few months after the release of the movie.

Due to the hectic schedule of the film's production, Kubrick and Clarke had difficulty collaborating on the book. Clarke completed a draft of the novel at the end of 1964 with the plan to publish in 1965 in advance of the film's release in 1966. After many delays the film was released in the spring of 1968, before the book was completed. The book was credited to Clarke alone. Clarke later complained that this had the effect of making the book into a novelisation, that Kubrick had manipulated circumstances to downplay Clarke's authorship. For these and other reasons, the details of the story differ slightly from the book to the movie. The film contains little explanation for the events taking place. Clarke, on the other hand, wrote thorough explanations of "cause and effect" for the events in the novel. James Randi later recounted that upon seeing the premiere of 2001, Clarke left the theatre at the intermission in tears, after having watched an eleven-minute scene (which did not make it into general release) where an astronaut is doing nothing more than jogging inside the spaceship, which was Kubrick's idea of showing the audience how boring space travels could be.

In 1972, Clarke published The Lost Worlds of 2001, which included his accounts of the production, and alternate versions of key scenes. The "special edition" of the novel A Space Odyssey (released in 1999) contains an introduction by Clarke in which he documents the events leading to the release of the novel and film.

Arthur C. Clarke. (2016, July 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

‘The Birds, The Sea & Me’:New Book On Endangered Shorebirds On South Coast

Media release: 7 July 2016
A new children’s book about the lives of endangered shorebirds on the South Coast of NSW will be launched this weekend as part of a project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program.

‘The Birds, The Sea & Me’ is a story about the fascinating life of three species of endangered shorebirds that live and breed on South Coast beaches; the Hooded Plover, the Pied Oystercatcher and the Little Tern.

The story is told through the eyes of Rikki, a ten-year-old girl, who goes on a journey of discovery about the birds and their beach environment. Rikki learns about what the shorebirds eat, who they share their beach homes with and why they’re endangered.

NPWS South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program Coordinator, Jodie Dunn said the book was a fascinating insight into the plight of the endangered shorebirds, achieved by the contribution of six Shoalhaven schools through a number of writing and art workshops in 2015.

“This book is a delightful and engaging tale and will connect with young and old alike,” Ms Dunn said.

“It creates a great understanding of the challenges our endangered shorebirds face.”

Local artists, Anna Jarrett and Julie Sydenham, worked with the students to create artwork and writing as part of their learning about the endangered shorebirds on their local beaches.

“Having the input of the local school kids was a fantastic way to present the plight of our shorebirds to the public,” Ms Dunn said.
“Hopefully, this beautifully illustrated book will create more interest in the birds and lead to more people wanting to volunteer their time to assist in their recovery.”

The NSW Government’s Saving our Species (SoS) program aims to help almost a thousand animals and plants threatened with extinction in NSW. SoS workfocuses on the primary threats to beach-nesting shorebirds and the survival of their vulnerable eggs and chicks, namely predation by foxes and domestic dogs, disturbance by humans, inundation from storm surges and other flooding and native avian predators (mostly ravens and gulls).

Parents and schools interested in getting a copy ($20.00) can contact Jodie Dunn on 0427 012 960 or email

Hopefully in the near future copies of this great book will be available through National Parks and Wildlife Service Visitors Centres too.

A naturalist in Tasmania by Geoffrey Smith, Geoffrey, 1881-1916 Published 1909