Inbox and Environment News: Issue 277

August 21 - 27, 2016: Issue 277

NSW Call to community and government groups to apply for local environmental grants

Media release: 15 August 2016 – NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)
A total of $4 million in grant funds is available to community groups and government entities for a range of local environment restoration and improvement projects under the NSW Environmental Trust’s 2016/17 Restoration and Rehabilitation Grant Program.

Terry Bailey, Chief Executive, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Trust Secretary said the grants will deliver grassroots funding to local environmental projects that restore, protect and enhance a variety of NSW environments.

“This valuable grant program has been running for over 20 years, making it one of the longest running environmental grant programs in Australia,” Mr Bailey said.

“Grants are awarded to help protect important ecosystems, to restore degraded environments and care for habitats of rare and endangered flora and fauna.

“I encourage community groups, not-for-profit and government entities from across the state to apply for a grant and help their local communities protect and conserve our vital natural environment.

“Fifty-six grants were awarded under this program last year and their projects are now tackling a number of local environmental issues.

“Thanks to this grant program landholders, local councils, state government agencies and community groups are now working to restore habitats for native and endangered species, improve water quality and rehabilitate wetland areas.

“As an example, Greening Australia’s $96,730 project is helping improve habitat for the vulnerable Glossy Black Cockatoo. Working alongside landholders, 5,000 trees are being planted and community seed collection and bird identification workshops are taking place.”

Applications open for the 2016/17 round of the Restoration and Rehabilitation Grant Program on 15 August 2016. Grants between $5,000 and $100,000 are available. Applications close on 26 September 2016.

Visit the Environmental Trust website for applications and further information:

Government funding boost for local councils tackling climate change

Media release: 16 August 2016 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has announced an extension of the Government’s successful Building Resilience to Climate Change (BRCC) program, which invites local government organisations to apply for grants up to $80,000. The project builds resilience to climate change in local communities by addressing identified risks and vulnerabilities.

Announcing the third round of funding, OEH Deputy Chief Executive Ian Hunter said local councils have a role in helping to manage the risks of climate change in their communities.

“They are responsible for a broad range of services likely to face significant impacts from climate change, such as public infrastructure, development and planning, environmental management, and protecting public health and safety.

“The third round of the Building Resilience to Climate Change program has now opened, offering $460,000 in grants for projects that build resilience to climate change.

“This round we are inviting council projects that build resilience of vulnerable communities or adapt priority infrastructure to climate change,” Mr Hunter said.

LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said adapting to climate change is important for all spheres of government, with the breadth of projects under consideration demonstrating a vast range of innovative and collaborative local solutions.

“The high level of interest from local government in this issue shows councils are seeking to tackle climate change risks within their day-to-day operations, including service delivery and infrastructure, to help protect their communities,” Cr Rhoades said.

“We are delighted that the Government has decided to extend this vital stream of funding support for councils to address climate risks.”
The grants encourage collaboration through local alliances, common activities and resource sharing, which builds capacity to address risks and vulnerabilities in regional communities.

“The effects of climate change pose different risks in different areas of NSW,” Cr Rhoades said.

“Fostering adaptation action at a local level helps all of NSW build resilience to climate change by creating networks between community organisations, local councils and businesses and the NSW Government.”

The Government’s climate information provides local scale climate projections and impacts information, which enables local decision makers to build resilience to extreme events and plan for the future.

Mr Hunter said when state and local government work together to manage the risks of climate change in communities, it can reduce long-term economic, social and environmental costs.

“The first two BRCC rounds received proposals for 120 climate change adaptation projects, seeking over $5 million in state government support. So far 14 projects have been funded to the tune of $890,330.
“To date 60 councils, seven NSW agencies, four research institutions, three community groups, and four businesses are working together to deliver adaptation projects across the state.

“This program has been extremely well received by local government, with high participation rates and strong program outcomes. It’s the most recognised adaptation resource in the State*,” Mr Hunter said.
The BRCC is administered and supported by Local Government NSW. Application forms are available at: .

*as assessed in the 2015 Climate Change Adaptation Survey of NSW local government needs.

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.

Community Landcare Grants 

Greater Sydney Local Land Services 2016 Community Landcare Grants are now open!

Grants of $5,000 - $30,000 over 18 months are available for community groups, including Landcare and other 'care' groups and landholders in the Greater Sydney region.

Applications open today Monday 8th August 2016 and close Monday 12th September 2016.

Projects must align with at least 1 of the Strategic Objectives developed for the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme:

• Projects that aim to maintain and improve ecosystem services through sustainable management of local and regional landscapes.Activities funded may include weed and pest control, bush regeneration, erosion management, fencing, plant propagation and revegetation, actions that protect for threatened species, development of management plans, community participation and engagement activities and training that contribute to the protection and restoration of ecosystem function, resilience and biodiversity.

• Projects that aim to build community awareness, participation, skills and knowledge in caring for their environment, including Aboriginal knowledge and participation. Activities funded may include the delivery of workshops, training courses, awareness raising events, booklets, signage, media and other activities designed to build awareness, improve skills and knowledge and/or promote the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity.

For full details including the grant guidelines please visit the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Website

To discuss project ideas or to find out more please feel free to contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367.

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367
Council's Cooee Newsletter - May- June 2016 HERE

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday+3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     3rd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon

Long Reef Guided Walks 

Below is the Fishcare Volunteers’ upcoming Walks and Talks which might be of interest to readers.  We have been offering this free service now for about 15 years.  Most days see somewhere round 30 people, young and old, and we even get people from places like Auburn and further afield.  I add my bit as a former Australian Museum person and we also have a geologist to talk about the landward side of Long Reef.  We’re dictated by tides, hence the irregular times, but always on a Sunday.
Phil Colman

Free guided walks 
with Fishcare Volunteers 
Sunday 18 Sept 2016  2 pm – 4 pm 
Sunday 16 Oct 2016  2 pm – 4 pm 
Sunday 13 Nov 2016  1 pm – 3 pm 
Sunday 11 Dec 2016  12 noon – 2 pm 
Sunday 29 Jan 2017  3.30 pm – 5.30 pm 
Sunday 26 Feb 2017  2.30 pm – 4.30 pm 
Sunday 26 Mar 2017  1.30 pm – 3.30 pm 
Sunday 9 Apr 2017  12.30 pm – 2.30 pm 
• Subject to weather conditions 
• Bookings and enquiries by email:

Long Reef Fishcare Educational Walks 
Long Reef Aquatic Reserve, on Sydney’s northern beaches is a unique environment due to its geology and exposure to all four points of the compass. Protecting a huge variety of marine animals, birds and plants, it’s a great place to enjoy learning about our natural environment. 

Department of Primary Industries NSW Fishcare Volunteers offer free, guided, educational walks onto the rock platform where in just two hours you’ll observe some of the vast variety of marine life. 

You’ll also gain an understanding of the geographical features of the area, look at trace fossils and learn why some migratory birds travel tens of thousands of kilometres from Siberia and Japan to spend time at Long Reef. 

An ideal family outing! 

Burning Desire Comes Down To Beetles

August 17, 2016: Griffith University
New Griffith University research could influence how often prescribed burning is conducted after it was found high frequency fires (i.e. every 2 years) could disrupt nutrient cycling and modify beetle populations in some forest ecosystems.

"It's about conserving and understanding the whole system and finding the right burning frequency, not just for the bigger trees, but the insects and microbes as well. Too frequent as well as too infrequent fire can be problematic and this research may help to better inform fire frequency management," says PhD researcher Orpheus Butler.

Mr Butler, a member of Professor Chengrong Chen's Environmental Biogeochemistry Research Lab, has been studying how fire affects the balance and cycling of elements like carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in forest ecosystems and how these effects are linked to the changes in the structure and function of plant, animal and microbial communities brought about by burning.

The South East Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium has awarded Mr Butler a Research Student Scholarship to undertake ground breaking fire research, which will be presented at its Bushfire 2016 national conference, on 28-29 September at the University of Queensland.

Bushfire 2016 will be an engaging, informative and inspiring conference squarely aimed at connecting Australia's best fire scientists, ecologists and students with on ground fire operators, public land managers and private land owners.

Part of Mr Butler's PhD work looks at how the nitrogen and phosphorus in soil and plant litter is modified by frequent fire.

"We think the altered nutrient balance in soil will be reflected in the plant material and this may be linked to altered rates of plant growth. It affects different plants in different ways because some plants need relatively more nitrogen, and some need more phosphorus" he says.

"Both elements are essential for plant growth."

A study in Peachester Forest, near Woodford, found that the nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in leaf litter and microbes were very different in the most frequently burned part of the forest.

The effects may have important consequences for the invertebrate fauna on the forest floor, given that many of these animals depend on organic material in soil and litter as a source of food.

Mr Butler says soil and litter invertebrates represent an enormous proportion of forest biodiversity and contribute to litter decomposition, which influences fuel loads future fire risk, intensity and spread.

Some invertebrates, particularly beetles, are used as indicators of ecosystem health or resilience to disturbance.

"These are all parts of a bigger system. People tend to focus on things they can see but that's not all that's going on."

The study will enhance knowledge of fundamental ecological processes, improve the ability to use invertebrates as indicators of appropriate prescribed burning frequencies, and thereby assist in the management of forested landscapes, assessment of fire risk and species conservation.

Bushfire 2016 offers two days of concurrent sessions featuring internationally recognised keynote speakers, including Professor Ross Bradstock from the University of Wollongong and Associate Professor Alan York from Melbourne University. The program covers ten different themes, including fire risk, fire ecology, climate change, Indigenous fire practices, land management and community partnerships and is complimented by a catered poster session on the Wednesday evening, an informal dinner on the Thursday night and two field trips on the Friday.

Dr Samantha Lloyd, Manager of the Consortium, says, "We are thrilled with the support we are receiving for Bushfire 2016. The program features over 75 talks and has something for everyone. Whether you are a researcher or practitioner, our aim is to provide a broad range of fantastic presentations that help bridge the gap between research and on ground fire practice."

Have Your Say On The Amended Rocky Hill Coal Project Application

17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
An amended development application by Gloucester Resources Limited for the Rocky Hill Coal Project 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 amended proposal which involves:
  • developing and operating an open-cut coal mine to produce up to two million tonnes of coal per year for up to 21 years
  • constructing and operating a private coal haul road linking the Rocky Hill Coal Project with the Stratford Coal Complex, approximately nine kilometres to the south
  • using the private haul road to transfer coal between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm only, Monday to Saturday
  • using the private coal haul road to deliver heavy equipment and construction materials to the mine area
  • rehabilitating the site
A spokesperson for the Department said the public should also view the modification application for the Stratford Extension Project, which is being exhibited simultaneously with the amended Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal.

“The public should also note the changes from a previous Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal which was exhibited in 2013,” a spokesperson said.

“Key changes in the amended proposal include three open cut pits instead of four and no night-time hours of work. Additionally, it proposes no evening hours of work for the first three years of the project.

“In the new proposal, coal would be hauled on a private haul road to the nearby Stratford Coal Mine. The Rocky Hill project would therefore not need a Coal Handling and Preparation Plant or a rail loop and train loading bin, or a coal conveyor.
The amended proposal does not include:
  • constructing and operating an on-site Coal Handling and Preparation Plant 
  • constructing and operating a Rail Load-out Facility, including a rail loop and overhead loading bin, to dispatch the product coal to the Port of Newcastle
  • developing a three kilometre partially-enclosed overland conveyor, to link the CHPP to the Rail Load-out Facility
  • operating the mine during night-time hours
  • operating the mine during evening hours for the first three years of the mining operations.
A spokesperson for the Department 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.

“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 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August until 14 October 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
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

Have your say on the modification application for Stratford Extension Project
17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release  Author: Department of Planning and Environment

A modification application for the Stratford Extension Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on Stratford Coal Pty Ltd’s modification application which seeks to:
  • use a private haul road to transfer coal from the Rocky Hill Coal Project to the Stratford Coal Mine site
  • construct an extension of the existing coal stockpile to accommodate Rocky Hill’s coal, and process coal from this stockpile through the existing Stratford Coal Handling and Preparation Plant
  • place Rocky Hill product coal on the existing Stratford product coal stockpile
  • load and dispatch Rocky Hill product coal from Stratford’s existing rail loop and coal load-out system
The community can also view the related but separate Rocky Hill Coal Mine amended development application also on exhibition currently, and make a submission.

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 and the view the modification application visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August to 14 October 2016.
Written submissions can also be made to:
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001
The application is also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine Project

Street 134 Jerrys Plains Road
City Warkworth
Exhibition Start 11/08/2016
Exhibition End   22/09/2016

See all available documents and have your say here

A Joint Venture project between United Collieries and Wambo Coal which combines the existing open cut operations at Wambo with a proposed new open cut at United. 

The Project will utilise the existing Wambo Mining Infrastructure Area (MIA), Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) and train loading facility. The Project anticipates delivering up to 6Mtpa of product coal, providing jobs for around 500 employees with a life of mine of approximately 23 years. The Project proposes to relocate a 2km section of the Golden Highway and a section of 330kV powerlines to optimise coal recovery in the United Open Cut.

Extent of Mining Areas: Refer to Figure 1.3 - The project proposes realignment of the Wambo Open Cut boundary to maximise resource recovery. The realignment would result in approximately 5 hectares of additional disturbance for the Wambo Open Cut mine.

The Proposed United Open Cut mine is situated to the weast of the existing Wambo operations (refer to Figure 1.3)

The conceptual staged mine plans are shown on Figure 3.2 to Figure 3.6

Operating Hours 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Figure 1.3

Figure 3.2

Have Your Say On Wyong Coal Mine

Wallarah 2 Coal Project
Establishment of an underground coal mine and associated infrastructure (see Preliminary Environmental Assessment). 
The proposal will also require Commonwealth assessment under the EPBC Act.

Exhibition Start 22/07/2016
Exhibition End 05/09/2016

City Wyong
State NSW
Post Code 2259
Country Australia
Local Governments Lake Macquarie City Council and Wyong Shire Council

Amended application Document: HERE

The key features of the Project include:  
• A deep underground longwall mine extracting up to 5 Million tonnes per annum of export quality thermal coal;  
• The Tooheys Road Site (located north-east of the intersection of the M1 Motorway and the Motorway Link Road) which includes a portal, coal handling facilities and stockpiles, water and gas management facilities, small office buildings, workshop, coal transportation infrastructure and connections to municipal water and sewerage systems;  
• The Buttonderry Site (near the intersection of Hue Hue Road and Sparks Road) which includes administration offices, bathhouse, personnel access to the mine, ventilation shafts and water management structures;  
• The Western Ventilation Shaft Site (located in the Wyong State Forest) includes a downcast ventilation shaft and water management structures;  
• An inclined tunnel (or ‘drift’) from the surface at the Tooheys Road Site to the coal seam beneath the Buttonderry Site;  
• Transportation of product coal to the Port of Newcastle by rail; and  
An operational workforce of 300 full time employees.

The Project constitutes State Significant Development. As such, the Project has been subject to the assessment process under Division 4.1 of Part 4 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979.
Have your Say on Springvale Coal Mine

Modification to Springvale Extension Project
Exhibition Start 02/08/2016
Exhibition End 23/08/2016

Proposed modification to Springvale Mine's consent SSD 5594 to (i) increase run of mine coal production limit from the approved 4.5 Mtpa to 5.5 Mtpa, (ii) increase workforce from the approved 310 full time equivalent personnel to 450 full time equivalent personnel, (iii) increase coal stockpile capacity at the Springvale pit top from the approved 85,000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes. Amend applicant name on SSD 5594 from 'Centennial Springvale Pty Limited' to 'Springvale Coal Pty Limited'.


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:
Muogamarra in bloom

With spring just around the corner, it’s a great time of year to get outdoors in a national park and enjoy the crisp sunny days and beautiful blossoming flowers.

Muogamarra Nature Reserve, located in the northern outskirts of Sydney, transforms into a brilliant display of colour each August and September, when spring wildflowers come into bloom.

The reserve is only open for six weekends a year to preserve the fragile ecosystems and Aboriginal heritage, and this year, will be open each Saturday and Sunday from 13 August to 18 September.

The best way to explore the extraordinary nature reserve is on a special guided tour. There are three guided walks on offer, where you’ll see and learn about the reserve’s spectacular plants and enjoy stunning scenery.
Or for the more adventurous, join the full-day 18km kayaking tour along the Hawkesbury River to see the reserve from the shoreline, take in the sheer cliffs and learn about the area’s fascinating history.

Challenge yourself on The Coast track
Looking for a walking adventure close to Sydney? The Coast track in Royal National Park, just one hour south of the CBD, is definitely one for your to-do-list.

You’ll walk along cliffs, beaches and escarpments, taking in magnificent ocean views and the rugged beauty of the coastline as you go.
The 26km track can be walked over two days, combined with an overnight camping experience, or broken up into a series of day walks.

There’s also been no better time to lace up the boots and set out, as the track has recently undergone a $1.8 million upgrade over nine months. Works included construction of sandstone stairways and installation of 2.2km of new boardwalk at several sites.

This work has enhanced the walking experience for visitors, but has also prevented soil erosion and protected coastal vegetation.

The Coast track will also benefit from the recent funding announcement from the NSW Government, with $3.6 million allocated for the next 12 months and $9 million over four years.

First Case Of Russian Wheat Aphid Confirmed In NSW

16 Aug 2016: NSW Department of Primary Industries
NSW Department of Primary Industries has confirmed the first detection of Russian wheat aphids (Diuraphis noxia) in a wheat crop in the State's south.

Scientists at NSW DPI Biosecurity Collections unit have confirmed the sample from the Barham area in the Murray Region contained Russian wheat aphid.

NSW DPI Director Plant Biosecurity Satendra Kumar said a national management approach for Russian wheat aphid was developed following the first detections in South Australia in May and Victoria in June.
“Russian wheat aphid has been deemed as non-eradicable by the National Biosecurity Management Group. Grain growers should be on the lookout for the pest and consider their management options,” said Dr Kumar.

“Grain growers are encouraged to contact their agronomist or seek advice from NSW DPI, Local Land Services or refer to the GRDC website for information on how to manage the pest in cereal crops.
“There are tools available to help manage the aphid, including an emergency use permit (PDF, 114.6 KB) for specific chemicals that has been issued by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

“Grain growers planning to spray are encouraged to adhere to all general chemical use practices.”

“The advice to growers and agronomists is to continue to monitor your crops for aphids and symptoms and if you suspect the presence of the Russian wheat aphid, take a sample for identification.

“To limit the spread of the pests and diseases hygiene is important. It is important to put best practice biosecurity measures into place to reduce the risk of transporton clothing, footwear, vehicles and machinery when moving between paddocks and farm,” said Dr Kumar

Poppy Production Potential For NSW

Friday August 12, 2016
Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, has introduced the Poppy Industry Bill 2016 into the NSW Parliament, to enable Australian alkaloid poppy production to extend into NSW.

Mr Blair said Tasmania already produces about half of the world’s alkaloid poppies, which pharmaceutical companies use to produce medical grade compounds for various medicines.

“With growing demand for poppies, there is no good reason why the NSW
Government should have impediments in place stopping our primary producers from participating in this industry,” said Mr Blair.

“We’ve got the right growing conditions, the biggest, best and most innovative farming sector in the country – all we needed was the legislative changes to allow poppies to be grown in NSW, and that’s what this Bill will achieve.”

The Poppy Industry Bill 2016 will ensure that there is a stringent regulatory regime in place and that fit and proper process, controls and balances are enforced.

Alkaloid poppy production will be highly regulated at state, national and international levels, with strict controls providing appropriate safeguards against the unauthorised cultivation and misuse of poppies.

Alkaloid poppies will only be grown by licensed growers with a contract to a licensed processor, and all products will be stringently tracked as it moves through the supply chain.

The introduction of the poppy industry into NSW will help strengthen Australia's position as a reliable supplier of high quality raw materials for the global pharmaceutical industry.

With the removal of the legislative barrier to growing alkaloid poppies in NSW, the NSW Department of Primary Industries will work with processors and farmers to help kick start this new industry. 

New Chickpea Variety For Superior Disease Resistance 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Northern Panel Chair James Clark today announced the release of a new chickpea variety with superior disease resistance at the AgQuip Field Days in Gunnedah.

Mr Blair said the NSW Government, through the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is partnering with GRDC to invest in priority research needs, key researchers and research facilities to help improve productivity and profitability of farm businesses.

“The national chickpea crop this year is estimated to have a farm gate value of over $700 million and is the backbone of the norther cropping region with 70 per cent grown in this area,” Mr Blair said.

“We are proud to announce the newest desi chickpea variety PBA Seamer during this the International Year of Pulses.

“This new chickpea variety will give our local farmers an edge over their global counterparts and help them to capture a greater market share in lucrative local and global markets.”

GRDC Northern Panel Chair, James Clark said PBA Seamer has the highest available Ascochyta blight resistance rating compared to PBA HatTrick and PBA Boundary, and is also moderately resistant to Phytophthora root rot.

“Under very high Ascochyta blight disease pressure, PBA Seamer outperforms with minimal yield loss, compared with 76 per cent yield loss in the current industry benchmark variety,” said Mr Clark.

“This means, through reduced fungicide use the cost of production will drop by $21 million per annum compared to the current industry standard.”
Interested growers can hear first-hand from local DPI researchers about the range of issues that directly affect their farming systems at the 2016 AgQuip Field Days in Gunnedah.
New Antarctic ice discovery aids future climate predictions

Press release issued: 16 August 2016 - University of Bristol
A team of British climate scientists comparing today's environment with the warm period before the last ice age has discovered a 65 percent reduction of Antarctic sea ice around 128,000 years ago.

The finding is an important contribution towards the challenge of making robust predictions about the Earth's future climate. 

Reporting today in the journal Nature Communications scientists describe how by reconstructing the Earth's climate history through analysis of Antarctic ice cores they can determine what environmental conditions were like during ice ages and past warm periods. 

This study focussed on sea ice conditions during the most recent warm period – known as the last interglacial – when global temperatures were similar to today.

Sea ice in the Arctic and around Antarctica regulates climate as, in summer vast areas of whiteness reflect heat from the sun back into the atmosphere, whilst in winter, sea ice prevents heat from escaping from the warm ocean to the air. 

Current climate models forecast a reduction in Antarctic sea ice of up to about 60 percent by the end of the next century.  Finding a 65 percent reduction in the climate record during a time when global climate conditions were similar to the present day is especially relevant. 

The research team from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and from the Universities of Bristol, Reading, Leeds and Cambridge studied data from ice cores drilled on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

A climate model was then used in the analysis of these data. The ice core data and climate model simulations were combined using advanced statistical techniques to determine the state of Antarctic sea ice 128,000 years ago.

Lead author Max Holloway of British Antarctic Survey explains: "We know that the Earth's climate is changing and that climate models predict a warmer world. What we are not yet sure about is the precise magnitude of future change or the timeline.

"This is where looking into the past can help.  We used a number of analytical techniques to quantify change in sea ice extent around Antarctica during this important past warm period.

"We were expecting to see a relationship between warm temperatures around 128,000 years ago and a past collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

"Surprisingly, we found that a major retreat of Antarctic sea ice is a more likely explanation. Our analysis suggests that a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet occurred later during the last interglacial.

"Something that our team will be looking at in more detail through another collaborative UK-US project."

Co-author, Professor Paul Valdes of the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol, said: "These results change our ideas about how the Antarctic responded in the past and will help us improve our understanding of likely future changes."

Today researchers observe differences between sea ice changes at both poles. This is largely due to different geography – the Arctic being a frozen sea surrounded by land and the Antarctic being a frozen landmass surrounded by sea. Whilst a rapid sea ice retreat has been recorded in the Arctic in recent decades, sea ice extent around some parts of the Antarctic have grown.  Understanding the similarities and differences between hemispheres has been the subject of intense study by the international polar research community.

Research group leader, Dr Louise Sime, of BAS, said: "The current rapid retreat of sea ice in the Arctic Sea is of critical importance to Arctic ecosystems and global climate. 

"By uncovering, for the first time, a huge retreat around Antarctica we have established that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is also susceptible to major climate changes. This discovery will help us understand whether similar sea ice retreat events are likely in a future high-CO2 world.

"Although Arctic sea ice has diminished during the past 30 years, little change has been observed around Antarctica. This discovery in the ice core record of a massive loss of sea ice provides evidence that Antarctic sea ice can also undergo similar major reductions.  This may give vital clues to what might happen by the end of the next century."

'Antarctic last interglacial isotope peak in response to sea ice retreat not ice-sheet collapse' by Max D. Holloway, Louise C. Sime, Joy S. Singarayer, Julia C. Tindall, Pete Bunch & Paul J. Valdes is published this week in Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12293

New Format As Pigs Fly In For Warrumbungles Concert

Media release: 9 August 2016 by NPWS
A new format for the Warrumbungles Crooked Mountain Concert will see some of Australia’s up and coming country, rock and bluegrass artists perform at the signature Coonabarabran event on Saturday 5 November.

Coonabarabran National Park Visitor Centre Manager May Fleming said the concert was one of the region’s longest running community festivals.
“The Crooked Mountain Concert has always featured a range of genres from the jazz tones of James Morrison to rock acts like year’s Boom Crash Opera.

“This year we’re delighted to have a really unique act in “The Pigs” leading an entertaining line up of artists.

“If you’ve never heard The Pigs unique way of performing well known pop songs in a toe-tapping hill billy style, then you’re in for a great surprise.

“Fresh from performances at Vivid Sydney and the Gympie Muster, The Pigs will be joined by Byron Bay Bluesfest openers Ivy as well as Golden Guitar nominee Mickey Pye, the tight harmonies of Bathurst duo Smith and Jones and local favourite Annie McKinnon.

“It’s a fresh line up and will continue our tradition of delivering great music in the phenomenal setting that is the Warrumbungle National Park, just designated as Australia’s first Dark Sky Park.   

“We plan it with families in mind and there will be kids activities, local produce and non-alcoholic drinks available to purchase, visitors can also bring along their own picnic rugs, chairs, food and alcohol and of course camping is also available.

“This year we have been able to lower the ticket price to just $55 per adult, $50 Concession, $20 child (15 – 5 years) and under 5s are free,” Ms Fleming said.

Tickets will be on sale through Moshtix from 1 August, from the Warrumbungles National Park Visitor Centre in person or by phoning 6825 4364

Bus tickets from Coonabarabran and camping can also be purchased from the visitor centre. 
For more information visit the
New wind energy framework to give certainty

01.08.2016: Ministerial Media Release- The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
A new wind energy planning framework will ensure that NSW has the right settings to attract investment in wind energy, while balancing the interests of the community.
The new framework will address delays in the assessment process that in one case required more than 2500 days for a project to be determined. The average determination times for wind projects in the past five years has been more than 1000 days.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the new framework is focused on driving better outcomes by encouraging proponents to engage early with the community.
The policy framework has been developed in response to issues raised by community and industry around uncertainty in the application of the draft 2011 wind farm guidelines.
Mr Stokes is inviting the community to have its say on the new planning framework.
“We’ve consulted widely, including with key environmental groups, industry, other states and the Australian National Wind Farms Commissioner, to better understand the key issues in developing this framework,” Mr Stokes said.
Overwhelmingly, the most contentious issues in dealing with wind projects are noise and visual impacts. The framework will provide guidance to the industry on how to better design their projects with these impacts in mind, in the context of environmental, social and economic impacts. It will provide greater certainty and consistency for the renewable energy industry and the community.
Importantly, there will be no arbitrary buffer zones based on the height of turbines.
For all other assessment requirements, wind energy developments will be subject to the same assessment framework as other State Significant Developments.
“This new framework puts in place processes to identify potential impacts at an early stage to minimise conflict and delays,” Mr Stokes said.
“The framework strikes the appropriate balance between giving clear guidance to industry whilst ensuring that the impacts of the project are assessed on their merit.
“NSW has valuable wind and solar resources by international standards with many of the best areas located near existing electricity transmission infrastructure. The new framework will help NSW capture benefits from this industry and encourage investment in the State.”
“We look forward to further engagement with community and stakeholders through the consultation period.”
Submissions for the proposed wind energy framework can be made until 16 September 2016.
The proposed new framework can be viewed at the link below or at the Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge St, Sydney.
Submissions can be made:
• by post to Department of Planning and Environment, Attention: Director, Industry and Infrastructure Policy, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001
• Submissions close on 16 September 2016.

What Does PNHA do?


On-ground bush regeneration. eg: Asparagus Fern Out Days
Activities: guided walks, bird-watching
Quaterly informative newsletter, online or paper
Members email group for leaset environmental news and events
AGM with Guest Speaker
Free advice for members on managing gardens for Native Vegetation and fauna habitat
Lobbies Pittwater Council and State Government on inappropriate management practices and development
Provides support to Council for PNHA-approved grant applications for environmental projects
Publications: Introductory Field Guide to Birds of Warriewood Wetlands & Irrawong Reserve, $20.00rrp, attractive cards with photos of Pittwater scenes, flora and fauna $2.00

Email: Or click on Logo to visit website.

Av 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. 

Turning up for Beach Cleans, or starting their own, underlines an ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

Pittwater Environmental Foundation was established in 2006 to conserve and enhance the natural environment of the Pittwater local government area through the application of tax deductible donations, gifts and bequests. The Directors were appointed by Pittwater Council. 


About 33% (about 1600 ha excluding National Parks) of the original pre-European bushland in Pittwater remains in a reasonably natural or undisturbed condition. Of this, only about 400ha remains in public ownership. All remaining natural bushland is subject to encroachment, illegal clearing, weed invasion, feral animals, altered drainage, bushfire hazard reduction requirements and other edge effects. Within Pittwater 38 species of plants or animals are listed as endangered or threatened under the Threatened Species Act. There are two endangered populations (Koala and Squirrel Glider) and eight endangered ecological communities or types of bushland. To visit their site please click on logo above.

Meningococcal Disease Warning: NSW Health

18 August 2016
​NSW Health is urging people to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease with five new cases reported in NSW in the last seven days.
There have been 39 cases of invasive meningococcal disease and four deaths in NSW so far this year, compared to 27 cases and zero deaths during the same period last year.
NSW Health Director, Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said late winter/early spring was the season when meningococcal disease tended to be most prevalent, although cases presented all year round.
“Most cases occur among infants, young children, teenagers and young adults although people of any age can be infected,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“Meningococcal disease can be very severe, and people infected with it can become extremely unwell within hours of the first symptoms appearing so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.”
Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include sudden onset of fever, cold hands and feet, limb/joint pain, nausea and vomiting, headache, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and a pin-prick rash changing to large red-purple blotches that don’t disappear with gentle pressure on the skin. A rash does not always appear or it may occur late in the disease.
Babies and very young children may also experience irritability, have difficulty waking, rapid or laboured breathing, diarrhoea, a high-pitched cry or refuse to eat.

“It is also important to note that not all of the symptoms of meningococcal disease may be present at once,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“If anyone suspects meningococcal disease, they should see a doctor immediately and return if symptoms worsen.”
Dr Sheppeard said the most common serogroups of meningococcal disease in Australia are B, C, W and Y.
“A vaccine is available for meningococcal C which is included in the National Immunisation Program schedule and recommended for all children at one year of age as part of the free routine immunisation. A vaccine against some serogroup B strains has recently become available in Australia, recommended for young children and adults, but is not part of the National Immunisation Program schedule.
“As we don’t routinely vaccinate against all strains of meningococcal disease, it’s important to be on the lookout for the symptoms, even if you have been vaccinated against C and B.”
For more information on meningococcal disease go or call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.
Australia’s largest trial of ketamine to treat depression begins

15 August, 2016 - By Dan Wheelan - UNSW
The largest randomised control trial to evaluate the effectiveness of ketamine as a new treatment for major depression has begun across Australia and New Zealand.

The three-year trial will enrol 200 adult patients who have not responded to existing medications for major depression. Researchers will compare the effects of twice-weekly ketamine treatment against an active placebo treatment over a four-week period.

Major depression is diagnosed when a person experiences a low mood for two weeks or more and this has a significant impact on daily functioning.

The first NSW-based patients begin treatment this week, with Victoria expected to recruit its first patients in the next few months. Five other sites in Australia and New Zealand will also take part in the trial.

Ketamine research leader UNSW Professor Colleen Loo, who is based at the Black Dog Institute, said the study would build on five years of UNSW experience in ketamine research.

“Ten separate randomised, placebo-controlled trials involving about 250 participants worldwide have shown a single dose of ketamine produces rapid antidepressant effects within hours, even in treatment-resistant patients. However, attaining lasting remission remains a challenge,” Professor Loo said.

“This trial will allow us to examine the effects of repeated dosing and whether the positive effects of ketamine on an individual’s depression can be sustained over a longer period.”

The randomised double blind trial, the gold standard for clinical research, means neither the researchers nor patients know whether they will be receiving ketamine or a placebo.

Some clinics in Australia and overseas continue to offer off-label ketamine treatments to patients with depression in an unsafe manner and with minimal care.

After the initial treatment period, patients will be monitored over a four-week period to assess the impact of ketamine on patients’ mood. 

Patients enrolled in the trial may then also have an opportunity to receive the ketamine treatment after the initial phase of the trial is completed.Professor Loo said an evidence-based approach to assessing the effectiveness and safety of ketamine as a depression treatment was crucial.

“Some clinics in Australia and overseas continue to offer off-label ketamine treatments to patients with depression in an unsafe manner and with minimal care,” Professor Loo said.

“This practice is premature and irresponsible, given that the effectiveness and safety of this treatment approach involving repeated dosing has yet to be tested in controlled trials. 

“We will be working very closely with clinical pharmacologists during this trial to understand the specific dosage required for each individual and the likely effects it will have,” Professor Loo said.

The ketamine will be administered to patients via a needle into subcutaneous tissue, much like an insulin injection. The trial is being funded by a $2.1 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The trial is taking place at the following sites across Australia and New Zealand:

• UNSW/Black Dog Institute, Sydney
• University of Otago, Dunedin
• Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth
• South Eastern Private Hospital, Victoria
• Brain and Mind Centre/ Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney
• Adelaide University/Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide
• Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Melbourne

NSW-based patients who are interested in enrolling in the trial should email: Other sites will advertise for patients in the coming months.

For more information about the trial visit the Black Dog website.  

How does ketamine work?
Ketamine targets a key signalling chemical in the brain known as glutamate. This contrasts with other antidepressant medications, which alter different brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and noradrenaline. Researchers believe this may be why the effects of ketamine appear distinct to those of other antidepressant drugs. It is faster acting and results in more powerful effects. Studies have shown that ketamine can strongly promote the growth and functioning of brain cells. Prior research has also shown that brain cells can shrink when people are depressed, so the earlier finding that ketamine can reverse these changes is important.

However, as ketamine temporarily "disconnects" the central nervous system from the perception of external stimuli, it can have disorienting or dissociative side effects, such as out-of-body experiences, a sense of intoxication or seeing psychedelic lights, accounting for its use as a recreational drug. These effects are short-lived, typically lasting half an hour after each treatment, whereas beneficial mood effects persist for days. 
Protect vulnerable people as flu cases rise: NSW Health

16 August 2016
NSW Health is urging people with flu symptoms to stay away from aged care facilities and vulnerable groups following a spike in influenza presentations to emergency departments and 22 new influenza outbreaks in residential aged care facilities in the last week.   
NSW Health’s latest Influenza Report shows that more than 1950 confirmed influenza cases were reported from across the state last week.
Most cases are caused by the influenza A(H3N2) strain of the virus, which is covered by the 2016 seasonal influenza vaccine. Small children and older people tend to be more susceptible to severe influenza infection when influenza A(H3N2) is the predominant strain.
NSW Health’s Director Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said when flu was introduced to aged care facilities it was difficult to control as flu vaccination was not as effective in the elderly.
“Nevertheless, as older people are particularly susceptible to contracting the flu it’s important they have the vaccination every year to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“So far this year we’ve had 79 outbreaks in residential aged care facilities, affecting around 942 staff and residents, with 45 associated deaths reported in elderly residents with significant underlying illness. It’s important that friends and family who may have the flu stay away from these facilities while they are unwell to help prevent the spread of the virus.”
Dr Sheppeard said all pregnant women were also strongly advised to have the influenza vaccination to reduce the health risks to themselves and their babies.
“Pregnant women who get influenza are at greater risk of developing serious complications, such as pneumonia, which may result in their hospitalisation,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“Children born to vaccinated mothers also have a reduced risk of contracting influenza in the first six months of life.”
Dr Sheppeard said while influenza presentations at emergency departments continue to increase each week, the NSW Health system was well prepared to manage the cases.
“The NSW Ministry of Health, Local Health Districts and NSW Ambulance work together to manage surges in demand and improve the transfer of care times for patients during peak periods at hospital emergency departments,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“During peak times we encourage people to seek advice from their GPs and Healthdirect, a 24 hour helpline that provides immediate health advice on line from registered nurses.”
Symptoms that indicate you have flu include: fever and chills; cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose; muscle aches and joint pains; headaches and fatigue; nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
The following precautions can be taken to minimise the risk of developing influenza: 
• Get vaccinated every year – preferably before winter starts
• Wash your hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, and encourage others to do so as well
• Ask sick people to stay away until they are well
• If you are vulnerable to severe influenza see your doctor as soon as flu symptoms start as early treatment of flu can help prevent complications.
For more information see the NSW Health factsheet:

Diabetes Breakthrough Part Of $70m PBS Medicines Listings

14 August 2016: The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Minister for Sport
As many as 20,000 Australians living with Type 2 diabetes will find it easier and cheaper to manage their condition every day thanks to the Turnbull Government subsidising another $70 million round of new revolutionary medicines that will also help save the lives of women with advanced cervical cancer. 

Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced the September 1 2016 listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which take the Coalition’s total investment in listing new medicines to $4.5 billion since coming to office.

Ms Ley said the listing of revolutionary new diabetes treatment Exenatide (Bydureon®) would see patients only having to inject themselves once a week, rather than twice a day, meaning they will avoid up to 13 injections per week. Patients will also save over $1600 per year, she said.

“As one of our most prominent chronic diseases, Type 2 diabetes is placing a significant cost on the nation’s health and finances at nearly $1 billion per year,” Ms Ley said.

“According to Diabetes Australia there were about 4000 amputations last year that could have avoided with better daily management of a patient’s condition. Our hospitals also saw over 900,000 diabetes-related admissions. 

“Subsiding innovative medicines like these makes it easier for thousands of patients to keep on top of their diabetes and better manage their medication, while not only saving them time and money, but also the health system.

“It will particularly benefit indigenous Australians, who are five times more likely to die from diabetes-related causes than non-Indigenous people. 

“These new diabetes treatments complement our commitment to improving primary care through our landmark Health Care Homes initiative – a better way of delivering Medicare for Australians with chronic illness.” 

Linagliptin (Trajenta®) and linagliptin with metformin (Trajentamet®) as well as vildagliptin (Galvus®) and vildagliptin with metformin (Galvumet®), for use in triple oral therapy, will also be made available under the new September listings, providing patients with additional treatment options for Type 2 diabetes mellitus. These drugs are used to lower blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes and can be used on their own or in combinations.

Ms Ley said in further good news for taxpayers, these new diabetes treatments were all expected to be cost neutral as they were an alternative to existing treatments – demonstrating the Coalition’s commitment to also ensuring medicines on the PBS are kept as up-to-date as possible. 

However, Ms Ley said the Turnbull Government was also balancing this innovative approach with continuing to list expensive medicines without “fear or favour”, including $60 million to list Bevacizumab (Avastin®) on the PBS for the treatment of persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer where surgery or radiation is not a viable treatment.

“This announcement will help save the lives of over 200 Australian women who aren’t responding to conventional treatments for their cervical cancer and therapy and was previously out of reach at $55,000 per course of treatment. They will now pay just $6.20 per script if they’re a concessional patient or $38.30 if they’re a general patient.

“It is the same for patients suffering from Acromegaly – a rare condition caused by an overproduction of growth hormone by the pituitary gland which can lead to abnormal growth of the hands, feet and face, with our $10 million investment in listing Pasireotide (Signifor®) helping subside a treatment that would otherwise cost them $50,000.

“However, these breakthrough medicines also come at a significant cost to taxpayers and we must be able to pay for them. 

“Australians must never forget Labor blocked access to millions of dollars of breakthrough medicines because they couldn’t afford to the list them on the PBS. We must avoid Labor’s critical error at all costs.

“That’s why we must undertake improvements to the health system. Every dollar spent on inefficiency in the health system is a dollar we cannot invest in cures like these.”

The above medicines will be available on the PBS from 1 September 2016. Visit
Prenatal BPA exposure linked to anxiety and depression in boys

August 16, 2016
Boys exposed prenatally to a common chemical used in plastics may be more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression at age 10-12. The new study by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) within the Mailman School of Public Health examined early life exposure to the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Results are published in the journal Environmental Research.

BPA is a component of some plastics and is found in food containers, plastic water bottles, dental sealants, and thermal receipt paper. In the body, BPA is a synthetic estrogen, one of the class of chemicals known as "endocrine disruptors." The Columbia researchers, led by Frederica Perera, PhD, DrPH, director of CCCEH, previously reported that prenatal exposure to BPA was associated with emotionally reactive and aggressive behavior, and more symptoms of anxiety and depression in boys at age 7-9.

Perera and her co-investigators followed 241 nonsmoking pregnant women and their children, a subset of CCCEH's longstanding urban birth cohort study in New York City, from pregnancy through childhood. To measure the amount of BPA that had been absorbed in the body, researchers collected a urine sample from the mothers during the third trimester of their pregnancy, and from the children at age 3 and age 5. At ages 10-12, children completed an interview with a trained researcher about their symptoms of depression and completed a self-assessment that measures anxiety.

Researchers controlled for factors that have been previously associated with BPA exposure levels, including socioeconomic factors. After separating the data by sex, they found that boys with the highest levels of prenatal exposure to BPA had more symptoms of depression and anxiety than boys with lower levels of prenatal exposure to BPA; no such associations were found in girls.

"These findings are consistent with our prior reports on BPA and children's development assessed at earlier ages and suggest greater susceptibility of the male brain during prenatal development," says Perera. "Anxiety and depression are particularly worrisome because they can interfere with a child's ability to concentrate, perform in school, socialize and make friends," adds neuropsychologist and co-investigator Amy Margolis, PhD, assistant professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

Frederica Perera, Emily L. Roen Nolte, Ya Wang, Amy E. Margolis, Antonia M. Calafat, Shuang Wang, Wanda Garcia, Lori A. Hoepner, Bradley S. Peterson, Virginia Rauh, Julie Herbstman. Bisphenol A exposure and symptoms of anxiety and depression among inner city children at 10–12 years of age. Environmental Research, 2016; 151: 195 DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2016.07.028

Calling Dynamic Portrait Artists

National Portrait Gallery
The Digital Portraiture Award celebrates and cultivates dynamic portraiture of various forms. The winner receives $10,000 and a residency at The Edge, the State Library of Queensland’s digital culture centre for experimentation in science, art, technology and enterprise. Finalists’ work will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and online.

‘Digital portraiture’ means what?
We define digital portraiture broadly. A movie, a stop-motion animation, a soundscape, a music video, a game or a bot – any of these forms could work to convey notions of selfhood and identity. Also, artists need not confine their response to a physical likeness in the traditional sense of a portrait. The critical thing is to create a compelling expression of identity.Peruse some great examples of digital portraiture. Be inspired.

Sounds like a free-for-all!
Well, no. For pragmatic reasons we do set some clear limits:

NO stills! (We encourage digital photographers to submit their work for the National Photographic Portrait Prize.)
Your portrait must be exhibitable in 2D space (or close to it), eg a 55-inch screen on a wall.
To enter, you must be an adult resident of Australia.

Deadlines and details
You may enter a work at any time between 11 July and 30 September 2016. Finalist works will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 December, and the winner will be announced at the opening.

For all the grit, see the guidelines for entrants. If that doesn’t address all your questions and concerns, please contact us.
Commemorative coin to mark 50th anniversary of Battle of Long Tan

17/08/2016: Media Release - Royal Australian Mint
Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) has released a special commemorative collectible coin to remember those soldiers who fought and died during the battle.

Fifty years ago on 18 August 1966, 108 Australian and New Zealand troops encountered a force of more than 2000 Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers in the rubber plantation of Long Tan. A total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died of his wounds, in what was the largest action fought by Australian forces during the Vietnam War.

On the third anniversary of the battle, a cross was raised in the Long Tan rubber plantation to recognise those who fought and died throughout the conflict and this special symbol of reverence appears on a 38.74 mm crown coin.

Minister for Small Business the Hon Michael McCormack MP said it was important that the Mint had this role to recognise such significant historic events that impacted so many.

“These coins will serve as a reminder of Australia’s involvement and the sacrifices made in the Battle of Long Tan, providing a tangible keepsake to share the story for many years to come,” said Mr McCormack.

“It is also important to take this moment to recognise all those who have served and died in conflict for Australia as well as those who have been affected back on the home front.”

With a limited mintage of only 15 000 and larger than most coins made out of aluminium zinc bronze, the 2016 $5 Uncirculated Coin retails for $25 and can be bought online from the Mint here:

2016 $5 Uncirculated Coin - Reverse
$11.3 million to commercialise Australians’ smart ideas

17 August 2016: Media Release - The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science
The Turnbull Government today announced that twenty businesses across Australia will be offered $11.3 million in Entrepreneurs’ Programme grants to help them break into new and international markets.

A 3-D printed jaw joint replacement, termite-proof building materials and a safer way to store grain outdoors are amongst the diverse products and services that will be fast-tracked.

The grants range from $213,000 to $1 million and are matched dollar-for-dollar by recipients.

So far, the Government has invested $78.1 million since commencement of this initiative – helping 146 Australian businesses to get their products off the ground.

The grants help businesses to undertake development and commercialisation activities like product trials, licensing, and manufacturing scale-up—essential and often challenging steps in taking new products to market.

Projects supported by today’s grant offers will address problems and meet needs in key industries including food and agribusiness, mining, advanced manufacturing and medical technologies.

The 20 projects to receive commercialisation support include:
  • a safer, cheaper and more efficient outdoor grain storage solution for the agricultural industry
  • recycling technology for fats, oils and greases from restaurants that will save money and reduce pollution
  • a lighter, stronger and more flexible concrete product
  • an anti-theft automated security system for the retail fuel industry
  • a cheaper, faster and safer decontamination process for mine drainage
  • smaller, cheaper and more patient-friendly MRI technology used for medical diagnostics
  • a 3-D printed medical device for jaw joint replacements that reduces surgery risk and improves patient quality-of-life
  • insect and termite-proof expansion joint foam for the building industry, combining a two-step process into a single product.
A full list of recipients can be found at funding offers.
Elbows of extinct marsupial lion suggest unique hunting style

August 16, 2016
Scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Málaga have proposed that the long extinct marsupial lion hunted in a very unique way -- by using its teeth to hold prey before dispatching them with its huge claws.
The marsupial lion, or Thylacoleo carnifex, was a predator in the Pleistocene era of Australia and was about the same size as a large jaguar.

It was known to have existed from around two-and-a-half-million years ago until as recently as a few tens of thousands of years ago.
The animal is depicted on native Australian cave art and some speculate it still survives as the "Queensland Tiger."

As its name suggests, the marsupial lion has long been presumed to be a cat-like predator, despite lacking large canine teeth -- instead it had large, protruding incisors that have been suggested to be canine substitutes.

Thylacoleo was a powerful beast but, as other researchers have noted, it had limbs of different proportions to a lion, suggesting it was not a fast.
It also sported a very large claw on its hand, similar to the dew claw of cats but of a much bigger size, with a bony sheath foisted on a mobile first digit (thumb).

The new study, published in Paleobiology by Christine Janis, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Bristol (currently on a leave of absence from a professorship at Brown University, USA) with colleagues Borja Figueirido and Alberto Martín-Serra from the University of Málaga, Spain looked at the elbow joints of a large number of living mammals.
This showed a strong association between the anatomy of the humerus (upper arm bone) where it articulates with the forelimb and the locomotor behaviour of mammals.

Animals more specialized for running (like a dog) have a joint indicating movement limited for back and forwards, stabilising their bodies on the ground, while animals more specialised for climbing (like a monkey) have a joint that allows for rotation of the hand around the elbow. Modern cats, which (unlike dogs) use their forelimbs to grapple with their prey, have an elbow joint of intermediate shape.

Christine Janis said: "If Thylacoleo had hunted like a lion using its forelimbs to manipulate its prey, then its elbow joint should have been lion-like."

"But, surprisingly, it a unique elbow-joint among living predatory mammals -- one that suggested a great deal of rotational capacity of the hand, like an arboreal mammal, but also features not seen in living climbers, that would have stabilized the limb on the ground (suggesting that it was not simply a climber)."

Christine Janis and colleagues proposed that this unique elbow joint, in combination with the huge "dew claw" on a mobile thumb, would have allowed the marsupial lion to use that claw to kill its prey.

In contrast the large incisors were blunt. While Thylacoleo had massive shearing teeth in the back of its jaw, the incisors appear to have functioned better for gripping than for piercing flesh in a killing bite.

They concluded that, unlike a real lion, which holds its prey with its claws, and kills it with its teeth, the marsupial lion -- unlike any living predator -- used its teeth to hold its prey, while it despatched it with its huge claws.

Borja Figueirido, Alberto Martín-Serra, Christine M. Janis.Ecomorphological determinations in the absence of living analogues: the predatory behavior of the marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex) as revealed by elbow joint morphology.Paleobiology, 2016; 42 (03): 508 DOI: 10.1017/pab.2015.55
Cognitive offloading: How the Internet is increasingly taking over human memory

August 16, 2016
Our increasing reliance on the Internet and the ease of access to the vast resource available online is affecting our thought processes for problem solving, recall and learning. In a new article published in the journalMemory, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign have found that 'cognitive offloading', or the tendency to rely on things like the Internet as an aide-mémoire, increases after each use. We might think that memory is something that happens in the head but increasingly it is becoming something that happens with the help of agents outside the head. 

Benjamin Storm, Sean Stone & Aaron Benjamin conducted experiments to determine our likelihood to reach for a computer or smartphone to answer questions. Participants were first divided into two groups to answer some challenging trivia questions -- one group used just their memory, the other used Google. Participants were then given the option of answering subsequent easier questions by the method of their choice.

The results revealed that participants who previously used the Internet to gain information were significantly more likely to revert to Google for subsequent questions than those who relied on memory. Participants also spent less time consulting their own memory before reaching for the Internet; they were not only more likely to do it again, they were likely to do it much more quickly. Remarkably 30% of participants who previously consulted the Internet failed to even attempt to answer a single simple question from memory.

Lead author Dr Benjamin Storm commented, "Memory is changing. Our research shows that as we use the Internet to support and extend our memory we become more reliant on it. Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don't bother. As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives."

This research suggests that using a certain method for fact finding has a marked influence on the probability of future repeat behaviour. Time will tell if this pattern will have any further reaching impacts on human memory than has our reliance on other information sources. Certainly the Internet is more comprehensive, dependable and on the whole faster than the imperfections of human memory, borne out by the more accurate answers from participants in the internet condition during this research. With a world of information a Google search away on a smartphone, the need to remember trivial facts, figures, and numbers is inevitably becoming less necessary to function in everyday life.

Benjamin C. Storm, Sean M. Stone, Aaron S. Benjamin. Using the Internet to access information inflates future use of the Internet to access other information. Memory, 2016; 1 DOI:10.1080/09658211.2016.1210171
Aggressive lung cancer's aggressiveness may be its Achilles' heel

The University of Virginia School of Medicine's Dong-Wook Kim, Ph.D., (left) and Kwon Park, Ph.D., have identified a weakness in small cell lung cancer. Credit: Josh Barney | UVA Health System

August 17, 2016
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered a flaw in the armor of the most aggressive form of lung cancer, a weakness that doctors may be able to exploit to slow or even stop the disease. Remarkably, this vulnerability stems from the very aggressiveness that makes the cancer so deadly.

Using an existing drug, the scientists were able to halt the progression of small cell lung cancer tumors in genetically engineered mice. This was a notable achievement because small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is known for spreading quickly throughout the body. The finding raises the hope that the drug, which is being tested in people overseas for several types of cancers in clinical trials, might prove to be an effective way to control or prevent small cell tumor growth -- possibly keeping the cancer as harmless tiny lesions.

Even if the drug does not prove effective for that purpose, the researchers have identified a tantalizing target in the battle against a particularly deadly form of cancer. They believe their approach could lend itself to the development of new drugs that would target the cancer progression while sparing healthy cells.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer makes up approximately 15 percent of all lung cancer cases. However, it spreads much more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer, and once it has spread, it is extremely difficult to treat. Five-year survival for people whose small cell lung cancer has metastasized (spread) is only about 2 percent.

Notably, small cell lung cancer is seen almost exclusively in smokers. UVA's Kwon Park, PhD, of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology, was seeking to better understand why that is when he and his team discovered the potential way to undercut tumor development.

Park was investigating whether a mutation in the gene MYCL was what is known as an oncogene -- a gene that drives tumor development. His team determined that the gene did, in fact, have an important role to play. Amplifying its effect spurred tumor growth in genetically engineered mice, while blocking it suppressed tumor growth. Unfortunately, there is no known drug that could be used to target the gene in people.

So Park took another approach. He looked at what the gene was doing, to see if it would be possible to target the results of the gene's activity, rather the gene itself. "It turns out that this master oncogene regulates these protein assembly machines called ribosomes," he said. "For a cell to divide faster, you need everything faster. Not just DNA but also the proteins. By making more machinery at a faster speed, [the oncogene] actually promotes tumorigenesis."

Maybe there's no way to get at the oncogene, Park thought, but perhaps there's a way to stop the amped-up protein production it causes. Through a stroke of luck, there was a drug available to do just that. And it worked: Tumor growth was inhibited significantly.

It's important to note that the drug used in what Park called his "proof-of-concept pharmaceutical experiment" is not yet available to patients. It's being evaluated for other forms of cancer in Australia and Canada, but it's not being tested in patients in the U.S., so much work would need to be done to determine if it would be safe and effective for this purpose. Regardless, the research has identified a potential back-door way to block a critical aspect of the tumor-production process in small cell lung cancer.

Park noted that the finding could potentially lead to a preventative strategy involving food and nutrition, so that people could modify their diets to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

Dong-Wook Kim, Nan Wu, Young-Chul Kim, Pei Feng Cheng, Ryan Basom, Dongkyoon Kim, Colin T. Dunn, Anastasia Y. Lee, Keebeom Kim, Chang Sup Lee, Andrew Singh, Adi F. Gazdar, Chris R. Harris, Robert N. Eisenman, Kwon-Sik Park, David MacPherson. Genetic requirement forMycland efficacy of RNA Pol I inhibition in mouse models of small cell lung cancer. Genes & Development, 2016; 30 (11): 1289 DOI:10.1101/gad.279307.116

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.