Inbox and Environment News: Issue 292

December 4 - 10, 2016: Issue 292

Endangered Thick-Lipped Spider Orchids Rediscovered On South Coast

30 November 2016 - NPWS
In recent weeks scientists surveying the Shoalhaven area have identified endangered native orchid species with monikers as intriguing as their biological behaviour is.

The pretty beard, thick-lipped spider and Jervis Bay leek orchids – as they are commonly known – are extremely rare species but this year numerous thick-lipped spider plants have been rediscovered after a long absence during the local annual orchid survey. 

Caladenia tessellata_ thick-lipped spider orchid_credit-OEH_03, courtesy Office of Environment and Heritage.

The magnificent florae have begun regenerating following work under the Saving Our Species (SoS) program which has included ecological burns designed to stimulate flowering.

Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Threatened Species Officer Kylie McClelland is encouraged by this year’s sightings, a result of ongoing efforts in partnership with local orchid experts, Shoalhaven Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service, private landholders and The Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan.

“This year we have found eight endangered pretty beards or Calochilus pulchellus. These are the only plants of this species left in the world so it’s imperative that we do everything we can to ensure their survival,” said Ms McClelland.

Pretty Beard Orchid (Calochius pulchellus). photo credit: Alan Stephenson, courtesy Office of Environment and Heritage

“The even more unusually named thick-lipped spider orchids, known as Caladenia tessellata, have also popped their heads up in an area where we haven’t seen them for seven years! There are at least 30 plants with ten in flower. It’s exciting stuff.

“Using tactics including ecological burns, conservation agreements and seed banking, we’re hoping to improve the long-term conservation prospects for the orchids,” said Ms McClelland.  

Orchids are one of the oldest, largest and most successful plant groups on earth with around 35,000 species making up almost 10 per cent of the world’s flowering population.

These amazing flowers are critical for a healthy ecosystem as they interact with underground fungi generating important nutrient exchange. They are also master pollinators, cleverly tricking insects into mating with them by mimicking insect sex pheromones. The insects then unwittingly transfer the pollen from plant-to-plant.

Seventy per cent of Australia’s native orchids are not found anywhere else in the world including some of Shoalhaven’s 100 orchids: about ten per cent of which are on the state’s threatened species list. Several of the area’s orchids are not much bigger than a pea.

“People are always surprised to see how tiny and delicate some of these little guys are – it can be like finding a needle in a haystack so the ongoing monitoring can have its challenges.

“We map out the area we are surveying, transecting across the sites tagging each and every orchid. It’s time consuming but essential work,” Ms McClelland added.  

Apart from the ecological burns and ongoing surveys the $650,000 Environmental Trust Saving Our Species Partnership Grant is also funding seed banking, private land conservation, fencing, pest and weed control, protection of sites and educational signage.

These measures are helping ensure the survival of some of Shoalhaven’s most unique native plants. The initiative focuses on eleven species, including six orchids, four of which are endemic to the area.

This year’s surveys have just been completed and seed banking is planned for the thick-lipped spider and Jervis Bay leek orchids.

Jervis Bay Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum affine). photo credit: Alan Stephenson, courtesy Office of Environment and Heritage

Ongoing monitoring is critical to help assess the effectiveness of our efforts to conserve these spectacular florae.

In addition to the Environmental Trust funding, the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species (SoS) program is providing $100 million over the next five years to help protect almost a thousand animals and plants threatened from extinction in NSW.

Saving Grevillea Caleyi – Bushcare At Baha’i

Our last volunteer bush regeneration session at the Baha'i Temple under the GSLLS funding is on Monday December 5.
Meet at the picnic shelter at 8.30 am.

If you haven't been to this event before now is your last chance to join our volunteers end experience this wonderful site and see this lovely rare shrub.The new leaves are as colourful as the flowers. Equipment is provided.

There will be a special morning tea at 10 am
In the event of rain the morning tea will still go ahead.

For more information please contact David Palmer on 0404 171 940

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA) 

Life And Death Following Great Barrier Reef Bleaching

November 29, 2016: James Cook University and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Dead table corals killed by bleaching on Zenith Reef, on the Northern Great Barrier Reef, November 2016.
Credit: Greg Torda, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Scientists have confirmed the largest die-off of corals ever recorded on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The worst affected area, a 700 km swath of reefs in the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef has lost an average of 67% of its shallow-water corals in the past 8-9 months. Further south, over the vast central and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists were relieved to find a much lower death toll.

"Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef. This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected," says Professor Terry Hughes, Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University, who undertook extensive aerial surveys at the height of the bleaching.

"The good news is the southern two-thirds of the Reef has escaped with minor damage. On average, 6% of bleached corals died in the central region in 2016, and only 1% in the south. The corals have now regained their vibrant colour, and these reefs are in good condition," says Professor Andrew Baird, also from the ARC Centre, who led teams of divers to re-survey the reefs in October and November.

"This is welcome news for our tourism industry," according to Craig Stephen, who manages one of the Great Barrier Reef's largest live-aboard tourist operations.

Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef employs 70,000 people, and generates $5 billion in income each year.

"The patchiness of the bleaching means that we can still provide our customers with a world-class coral reef experience by taking them to reefs that are still in top condition."

Another silver lining was revealed in the northern offshore corner of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, where the loss of coral was lower than the other northern reefs.

"We found a large corridor of reefs that escaped the most severe damage along the eastern edge of the continental shelf in the far north of the Great Barrier Reef," says Professor Hughes.

"We suspect these reefs are partially protected from heat stress by upwelling of cooler water from the Coral Sea."

Scientists expect that the northern region will take at least 10-15 years to regain the lost corals, but they are concerned that a fourth bleaching event could happen sooner and interrupt the slow recovery.

Class Of 2016 – The Shining Stars Of Sustainability

29 November 2016: Media release - Office of Environment and Heritage
Emerging leaders in sustainability for Greater Western Sydney graduated over the weekend (26 November) at the Hawkesbury Earthcare Centre.

Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Deputy Chief Executive Ian Hunter said this year’s graduates are a diverse group from local government, business, community, and social enterprise who are committed to taking action in their local community.

“Western Sydney will see significant sustainability opportunities as it grows and prospers,” Mr Hunter said.

“These inspiring sustainability thought leaders will be able to apply their expertise and commitment to contribute to Western Sydney as a great place to live, work and visit.”

Course participant Anjali Roberts, who works with Parramatta City Council and Bankstown Youth Development Service, said the program has helped her articulate her vision more clearly and communicate more effectively.

Another participant Andrew Thai, the Sustainability Manager at Frasers Property Australia said he applied for the course to discover a new way of thinking, to challenge his own understanding of how sustainability should be tackled in the community and explore creative ways to address the issues.

The graduates participated in the Leaders for Sustainability program, funded by the NSW Environmental Trust and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

The Centre for Sustainability Leadership has partnered with OEH to deliver this program.

To find out more please visit: Centre for Sustainability Leadership
Leaders for Sustainability graduates - Photo:Joel Pratley/OEH_(l-r) Natasha Lay (Wester Sydney Youth Coordinator), Simon Sogora (Refugee Worker), Anjali Roberts (Parramatta City Council), Kelly Williamson (Local Government). Emerging leaders in sustainability for Greater Western Sydney graduation over the weekend (26 November) at the Hawkesbury Earthcare Centre. The graduates are from local government, business, community, and social enterprise who are committed to taking action in their local community.
To find out more please visit:

Threatened Species Strategy Succeeding

2 December 2016: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Australia's threatened species are fighting their way back from the brink with the help of the Coalition Government's Threatened Species Strategy.

The release of the first annual report by the Threatened Species Commissioner today confirms the success of the strategy, which was launched in July 2015.

Over the past year, the Government has not only met the overwhelming majority of its targets, but invested more than $80 million in 430 targeted projects to combat extinction.

The results speak for themselves, with great outcomes achieved for many of our threatened species, from bilbies to mallee emu-wrens to matchstick banksias.

A great example is the work with the Norfolk Island Green Parrot population, which has grown from as few as 50 birds to more than 400 through the strategy.

The Strategy provided a $300,000 grant for on-the-ground action, including 1,800 rat bait stations and 80 nest sites. The next step is to establish a population on nearby Phillip Island.

Similarly, the Mountain Pygmy-Possum, Australia's only hibernating marsupial, was thought to be extinct, but now it's believed there's in excess of 2,700, with recent field work finding increased populations at all monitoring sites.

Their survival has been assisted by an investment in two detector dogs, Dottie and Maggie, who have been protecting the possums from feral cats and foxes in the Kosciuszko National Park.

Of course, none of this success could be achieved without the phenomenal work of the local communities and volunteers.

Now we turn our sights to the ambitious three and five year targets outlined in the Strategy, to recover our mammals, birds and plants, to tackle feral cats and to improve recovery practices.

Our $30 million investment in the National Environmental Science Program's Threatened Species Recovery Hub will continue to support decision making, and the new Threatened Species Recovery Fund will open next year. 

Coastal Reforms

NSW Department of Planning & Environment
The NSW coast provides a multitude of values and uses for the community. This competition for use and enjoyment places our coast under increasing pressure. The environmental and lifestyle benefits of coastal living continue to attract new residents and tourists.
Planning for coastal communities must carefully balance the need to provide jobs, housing, community facilities and transport for a changing population whilst maintaining the coast's unique qualities and managing risks associated with developing along our coastlines.
Coastal reforms - Planning for our future on the coast
We are improving the way we plan for development and natural hazards along our coastline.
The Department of Planning and Environment, together with the Office of Environment and Heritage, is developing a new coastal management framework. The framework responds to existing and emerging coastal challenges and opportunities, with the aim of having thriving and resilient communities living and working on a healthy coast now and into the future. 
The Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will establish a new, strategic land use planning framework for coastal management. It will support implementation of the management objectives set out in the Coastal Management Act 2016.
The Coastal Management SEPP will integrate and improve current coastal-related SEPPs and ensure that future coastal development is appropriate and sensitive to our coastal environment, and that we maintain public access to beaches and foreshore areas. Once published, the Coastal Management SEPP will be the single land use planning policy for coastal development and will bring together and modernise provisions from SEPP 14 (Coastal Wetlands), SEPP 26 (Littoral Rainforests) and SEPP 71 (Coastal Protection).
The Coastal Management SEPP will also better equip councils and coastal communities to plan for and effectively respond to coastal challenges such as major storms, coastal erosion and climate change impacts, through more strategic planning around coastal development and emergency management.

Community information session
Monday, 5 December: 5.30 – 7pm Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club, Corner of East Esplanade & Stuart Street, Manly, 2095

Please RSVP to attend one of this session by contacting We are also keen to hear any questions you may have, or specific topics of interest for your local session, so please let us know when you RSVP.
Have your say on the draft Coastal Management SEPP
Consultation is now underway on the draft Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) and draft maps of the coastal management areas that make up the coastal zone. The public consultation period for the draft SEPP and maps is from 11 November 2016 to 23 December 2016. We encourage our stakeholders and interested community groups to take a look at the reforms and have a say:
online using the submission form below; and by mail to:
Director, Planning Frameworks
NSW Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001
The Department is also seeking feedback from the public on the draft Ministerial (‘section 117’) direction relating to rezoning land in the coastal zone and amending the coastal zone maps. The documents for consultation can be accessed below:

How we are progressing coastal reforms
The release of the draft Coastal Management SEPP is the next step in finalising the Government coastal reforms program.
Documents previously released for public consultation include:
Thank you to all who have taken the time to provide feedback on various aspects of the coastal reform program to date.
Taking into account public submissions, the new Coastal Management Act 2016 was passed by Parliament on 31 May 2016 and will commence following consultation on the draft Coastal Management SEPP.
The Office of Environment and Heritage is currently finalising the Coastal Management Manual and a Toolkit of technical resources and advice for coastal managers.
More information about the NSW coastal reforms, including analysis of public submissions from the previous consultation round, can be found on the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Coastal reforms webpage.
The Department of Planning and Environment has recently issued a Planning Circular (PS 16-003) on the Coastal Management SEPP. This advice clarifies that where land is partly or wholly mapped by the draft Coastal Management SEPP, a planning certificate issued for that land should record that the draft SEPP applies to that land. PS 16-003 can be accessed here (PDF 266KB).

Coastal SEPP Mapping Tool Instructional Video

Meeting Of Environment Ministers (MEM): Meeting 5

25 November 2016
Meeting of Environment Ministers

Commonwealth, state and territory Environment Ministers met today in Sydney to advance the protection of species and habitats, improve the environment for human health, and discuss climate change. 
Environmental accounting
Ministers agreed to work together to develop a common national approach to environmental accounts in 2017. This important work will ensure accurate and reliable information is available to governments, communities and business to better understand the condition of the environment and make better decisions. It will improve the ability to track outcomes in specific locations and across state and territory boundaries, and demonstrate the value of the environment to our standard of living.  
As a first step, the Australian Government will collaborate with a number of states in bringing together relevant stakeholders, Natural Resource Management organisations and academia to progress environmental accounts. This will take place in early 2017 and will build on action already under way in all jurisdictions to move towards a common national approach.  

Australia’s unique species are an international treasure and a national asset.  Ministers considered and agreed to release the review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030. The review found that there were opportunities to build on good outcomes achieved so far including by enhancing partnerships to take practical and focused action to implement the strategy.

As the strategy supports our implementation of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Ministers agreed that it should be updated to meet current and emerging challenges.  Ministers highlighted the importance of reform of the strategy to enhance collaboration with Indigenous people, private landowners, businesses, environmental organisations, and communities to achieve tangible on-the-ground improvements for our species and recognised the importance of bringing the broader community along with this reform.  This will mean leveraging the resources and effort of government and focusing that effort on a set of shared priorities to ensure there is robust protection of Australia’s globally important species and landscapes.  Ministers agreed that closer cooperation across Australia, guided by a national plan, will lead to better outcomes.

Ministers highlighted significant steps already taken to improve and protect biodiversity across the country, in particular:
  • Australia’s internationally recognised National Reserve System which covers over 17 per cent of the country. It includes national parks and protected areas on public, private and Indigenous land. This is a significant achievement but there is still more to be done to ensure the system is robust and well managed.
  • As it relates to threatened species, the importance of ongoing efforts including close collaboration, pooling of resources and sharing best practice, for example the strong cooperation that the Commonwealth and Tasmania are continuing to protect the nationally endangered orange bellied parrot and the Tasmanian devil.
  • Australia’s world leading collaboration between land managers, Landcare groups, Natural Resource Management organisations and local communities across the country which protect Australia’s unique species, improve our productive landscapes and preserve our habitats.
Environment and human health
Ministers were concerned about the impact on communities and business of contamination from fire retardant chemicals, such as per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs, including PFOS and PFOA). Ministers welcomed the release of the Commonwealth Environmental Management Guidance on PFOS and PFOA by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy as an important step in the development of practical responses to the management of these toxic chemicals.

Ministers noted that the Commonwealth would be releasing a Regulatory Impact Statement on the ratification of the listing of PFOS under the Stockholm Convention in early 2017.

Ministers acknowledged the challenges of managing PFAS contamination and agreed to work more closely, including in the timely communication of information to the public and around ensuring that regulatory approaches are aligned and effective.

All jurisdictions will have a critical role to play in the development of nationally consistent standards for environmental contamination and will support Victoria in hosting a summit in early 2017 and will report back to Ministers in mid-2017.  

Food Waste
Ministers agreed that jurisdictions, led by the Australian Government, will work cooperatively to support initiatives that lead to a 50 per cent reduction in food waste by 2030. Food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy in the order of $20 billion annually. As a first step, jurisdictions will support the Australian Government in the development of a National Food Waste Strategy and contribute to a National Food Waste Summit in 2017.
Ministers discussed their desire to move quickly on tangible actions that would result in enduring reductions in food waste, and to develop methods to measure progress. 

Packaging Waste
Ministers discussed the importance of reducing packaging waste and welcomed the significant update of the Australian Packaging Covenant. There was consensus in favour of the new approach to the Covenant, with NSW and Queensland to finalise their position shortly. These reforms will ensure the Covenant promotes businesses working across their supply chain to reduce waste, design more sustainable packaging and increase the rate of recycling.

Ministers welcomed the new five year strategic plan and the significant investment of resources by industry to support the plan.

Plastic Microbeads
Ministers discussed the need to work with businesses to achieve a voluntary phase out of microbeads. Microbeads are typically found in personal care products, cosmetics and some cleaning products and are having significant impacts on our marine environment. Ministers agreed dumping products containing microbeads on the Australian market was unacceptable and that the industry must meet targets for the ban quickly and comprehensively. Ministers discussed the importance of working directly with smaller manufacturers and importers, alongside peak industry bodies, to make sure all affected businesses understand and ensure that all products containing microbeads were captured under the ban.  
Ministers will reassess the effectiveness of voluntary action in mid-2017. Ministers were clear that if the voluntary approach does not result in an effective ban they will move at that time to regulate to give effect to a ban.

Plastic Bags
Ministers noted that Australians consume billions of plastic bags each year and that this contributes to the toll that plastic litter takes on marine life around Australia. Ministers acknowledged the bans on plastic bags already implemented by SA, Tasmania, ACT and the NT and noted Queensland’s announcement today to have a ban in place by 2018. Ministers supported the work Victoria and NSW are doing, including the work NSW is doing to investigate the behaviour of biodegradable plastic bags in the environment . Ministers asked officials to report back at the next meeting on progress being made in other jurisdictions to ban plastic bags.

Photovoltaic Systems
Ministers discussed the impending rapid growth in the contribution of photovoltaic systems, including PV panels, inverter equipment and system accessories such as energy storage batteries, for domestic, commercial and industrial applications. Victorian analysis has estimated that the waste stream from PV panels will grow from around 580 tonnes in 2015 to around 31,000 tonnes by 2035. Ministers acknowledged the importance of ensuring that programs are in place to deal with this cost. The Victorian government is leading innovative programs working throughout the life cycle of photovoltaic systems to reduce environmental impacts. 
Ministers agreed to Victoria leading work to develop an industry led voluntary product stewardship arrangement to address the emerging risks posed by end-of-life photovoltaic systems entering the waste stream. Photovoltaic systems have been listed under the national Product Stewardship Act to signal an intent to consider a scheme to deal with these wastes.

National Pollutant Inventory
Ministers noted the importance of robust information to support the management of pollution in Australia, and noted the role of the National Pollutant Inventory in providing this to governments, industry and the community. Ministers acknowledged that the list of 93 substances reported under the scheme had been almost unchanged since its inception. Ministers agreed to review the NPI focussing on identifying whether the right substances were being reported, the most valuable information was being collected and whether its collection was cost effective. Ministers agreed to terms of reference for a review of the National Pollutant Inventory to be completed in 2017.

Clean Air
Ministers endorsed release of the National Clean Air Agreement Mid-term Review Report. Ministers were pleased to note that good progress has been made over the first 12 months of the Agreement.  Air pollution reporting standards have been significantly strengthened and work is well underway on key emission reduction strategies for example, significant progress toward implementing emission standards for non-road spark ignition engines and equipment such as garden tools and outboard motors that contribute to about 10 per cent of smog in our cities.

Tyre Stewardship
Officials will report back to the next meeting on the progress of the ACCC review into Tyre Stewardship with a view to improving outcomes in relation to tyre recycling.

Climate change
Minister Frydenberg relayed the outcomes of the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Marrakech. He noted the strong continued international momentum for action on climate change including recent agreements around phasing out HFCs and reducing emissions in the international aviation sector. Australia’s ratification of the Paris Agreement was warmly welcomed in this context and sends a clear signal of Australia’s commitment to the Agreement. 

Minister Frydenberg provided an update on the work of the COAG Energy Council to better integrate climate and energy policies across jurisdictions. 
Minister Frydenberg noted the Commonwealth’s 2017 climate change review. State and territory Ministers noted their activities in mitigation, adaptation, policy, targets and programs to address climate change.

Community Declares War On Ocean Microplastics 

“If you eat seafood in any fashion whatsoever the plastic pollution and corresponding contaminant problem has relevance to you,” says prominent biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers. “Anything really that comes out of the ocean you cannot certify that as organic any longer.”

Microplastic pollution of our ocean is a menace to marine life and a growing health concern. Northern Beaches environment group Living Ocean is harnessing the community to act as Citizen Scientists, gathering microplastics data on our beaches so Jennifer and other research scientists around the world can work toward a solution. 

Jennifer, a renowned microplastics authority, is holding a free workshop on Avalon Beach for all interested volunteers, Sunday 4 December 12:30-3:00pm.

Commencing outside the Avalon Surf Life Saving Club, Jennifer will lead a workshop showing how to collect and classify microplastics. This workshop follows on from Living Ocean’s 10am Avalon Beach cleanup that morning, if you would like to be involved in that as well. Registration is not required, all welcome. Look for the Living Ocean banner. You’ll become qualified to participate in our monthly microplastics collections.

A further workshop, for prospective team leaders, will be at the Coastal Environment Centre, Narrabeen, on Saturday 3 December 1:00-3:30pm. Bookings Essential

For anyone appalled by pollution in the ocean but feeling powerless to help, here at last is an opportunity to make a real difference. Further details at

About Living Ocean
Living Ocean is a charity that promotes the awareness of human impact on the ocean, through research, education, creative activity in the community and support of others who sustain ocean health and integrity.

About Microplastics
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic, up to 5mm in size, that have broken down from larger pieces or are pre-production pellets. As they wash around in the ocean they gather and concentrate ocean pollutants, which pass into the bloodstream of marine animals that ingest them, ultimately entering the human diet.

Have Your Say On A Modification To The Mandalong Southern Extension Project

01.12.2016: Departmental Media Release  Author: Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Centennial Mandalong Pty Ltd to extend two longwall mining panels at the Mandalong Coal Mine Southern Extension Project near Morisset 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 proposed modification, which seeks to extend underground longwall mining panels 22 and 23 by 582 and 761 metres respectively in order to extract approximately 1.4 million tonnes of additional coal.

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 Modification Application and accompanying documents,

Submissions can be made from Thursday 1 December 2016 until Thursday 15 December 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to: 

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

The Modification Application and accompanying documents are also available to view in person at: 
  • Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
  • Central Coast Council: 2 Hely Street, Wyong
  • Lake Macquarie City Council: 126-138 Main Road, Speers Point
  • Nature Conservation Council: Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say On The Container Deposit Regulation

November 30, 2016: NSW Government
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority is seeking feedback on the draft container deposit scheme (CDS) regulation. Submissions are due by 5pm on 23 December 2016. 

The draft Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2016 sets out the operational details for the day-to-day running of the NSW scheme and annual reporting requirements.

The draft regulation covers topics such as:

  • the types of containers that will be accepted
  • the amount that will be refunded to consumers at collection points
  • the circumstances in which a container may not be accepted at a collection point.
NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said finalising these operational details would be another key step towards rolling out the NSW container deposit scheme in 2017.

"The CDS is the single largest litter reduction initiative in NSW so it's fitting that community members can have their say on these important details and I encourage them to do so.”

View the draft regulation and have your say by 23 December 2016

Report On The Review Of The First Five Years Of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

Department of the Environment and Energy, 2016
Executive summary
Australia has one of the most ecologically diverse environments on the planet. Our natural environments are home to a rich and unique diversity of species and ecosystems across terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments. We are also very fortunate in retaining a remarkable array of biodiversity in many of our built environments and modified landscapes.

Our existence is critically dependent on the biodiversity in the landscapes that surround us. It is synonymous with our national and cultural identity and underpins our quality of life. We derive social, health and economic benefits through our interactions with biological diversity across the continuum of Australian landscapes.

Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 (the Strategy) was released in 2010 and is the guiding framework for governments to conserve our national biodiversity to 2030. It provides an overview of the state of Australia’s biodiversity and outlines collective priorities for conservation. The Strategy aims to coordinate efforts at a national level across all sectors to sustainably manage biological resources in a way that meets our current needs and ensures their long term resilience, health and viability.

In addition to being Australia’s national framework for biodiversity conservation, the Strategy acts as Australia’s principal instrument for implementing the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Strategy provides for a review every five years supporting an adaptive national framework that continues to guide conservation activities informed by current and relevant priorities.

This review, conducted by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and the Australian Local Government Association, examined the operation and national implementation of the Strategy since its establishment, its ability to deliver Australia’s international biodiversity-related commitments, and opportunities for improvement.

Since the establishment of the Strategy in 2010, all governments, together with Indigenous peoples and organisations, businesses, environmental non-government organisations and community groups have successfully contributed to positive biodiversity conservation outcomes.  While progress has been consistent with the intended objectives of the Strategy, the review revealed the Strategy has not has been a strong driver of these efforts.

The review identified several factors which have affected the Strategy’s implementation and its success in delivering against its intent, including its governance, reporting and institutional frameworks; its ability to facilitate increased engagement in biodiversity conservation across society; and the effectiveness of the Strategy’s design for prioritising and coordinating action.

Key findings
Key findings of the review are:

1. The Strategy did not engage, guide, or communicate its objectives to all audiences in a useful way.
  • The Strategy is long and often technical, limiting its ability to influence a broad audience.
  • The Strategy does not clearly articulate its intended use for different levels of government and other relevant sectors.
  • There is inadequate guidance for decision makers to determine how best to direct investment for biodiversity conservation.
  • Overall, the Strategy’s targets did not effectively guide the efforts of governments, other organisations or individuals. Some targets were unclear or difficult to measure, while others were not tightly tied to the Strategy’s outcomes.
2. The Strategy is too focused on preventing the loss of biodiversity in natural terrestrial environments and does not consider biodiversity contributions across all landscapes.
  • The Strategy is generally focused on the restoration and protection of natural environments and does not provide a framework for biodiversity conservation in built or production landscapes. 
  • The Strategy does not clearly resonate with people living in urban or rural environments or make key linkages to livelihoods, and health and wellbeing.
  • The Strategy includes few outcomes designed to specifically improve the health and resilience of biodiversity in marine and aquatic environments.
  • The Strategy does not adequately recognise that governments must achieve a balance between short and long term social, economic and environmental interests.
3. The Strategy has not effectively influenced biodiversity conservation activities.
  • There was no ongoing oversight from jurisdictions to facilitate and coordinate implementation of the Strategy.
  • An implementation plan, including allocation of responsibility for actions, has not been established and coordinated implementation of the Strategy has been ineffective.
  • The expectation that a new, stand alone monitoring and reporting framework would be developed for the Strategy was ambitious and did not build on existing efforts.
4. Alignment of the Strategy with the Convention on Biological Diversity, and other related international obligations, could be enhanced.

  • Timing of the Strategy’s release was not ideal as it preceded the adoption of the Convention’s Strategic Plan, making its implementation through the Strategy challenging.
  • The Strategy could more comprehensively align with the Convention’s Strategic Plan and be adaptable to evolving themes and priorities.
The review recommends the Strategy be revised in light of these findings, recognising a national biodiversity strategy remains uniquely placed to:

  • manage transboundary environmental issues,
  • deliver on biodiversity-related issues that require Australian Government authority or cooperation from multiple jurisdictions, and
  • coordinate effort and leverage investment on shared priorities for biodiversity management.

Cowal Gold Mine Mod 13 - Mine Life Extension

The Cowal Gold Operations Mine Life Modification (the Modification) involves continued operations at the existing CGO within ML 1535 for an additional 8 years to allow an additional 1.7 million ounces (Moz) of gold production (i.e. a total of approximately 5.5 Moz over the life of the modified

Existing CGO infrastructure would continue to be used for the Modification, with some alterations where necessary, including modification of the
existing tailings storage facilities to maximise/increase tailings storage capacity (Figure ES-2) and upgrades to the existing leach circuit within the process plant.

The proposed changes to the tailings storage facilities include connection of the existing two tailings storage facilities to utilise the area in between for additional tailings storage. The existing tailings management and seepage control measures would be replicated for this additional tailings storage area. 

Project is currently on public exhibition and opportunity for public submissions is available
Exhibition Start 18/11/2016
Exhibition End 08/12/2016

View Documents and Make a Submission at:

New Regulations Set To Protect Sydney Harbour From Harmful Emissions

1 December 2016: Media Release - The Hon. Darren Chester, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport 
AMSA to regulate cruise ships at berth against excess sulphur emissions
Directions under the Navigation Act 2012 will mandate a maximum fuel oil sulphur content limit of 0.1 per cent
The change will improve local environmental, health and tourism outcomes for Sydney Harbour
The Australian Government has today announced new action to protect Sydney Harbour against potentially harmful sulphur emissions from large cruise ships.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will now direct cruise ships at berth to prevent excess sulphur emissions.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the new directions would help protect the environment and residents from potentially harmful emissions, as well as the local tourism industry.

“Sydney Harbour is one of the world's most recognised landscapes and hosts a large number of cruise ships every year. They bring thousands of tourists who enjoy our world-class harbour, spend money at local businesses and eat at our great restaurants during their stay,” Mr Chester said.

“We welcome these valuable visitors, but we also need to regulate the presence of cruise ships to ensure we retain a healthy working harbour.

“I've heard the concerns of local residents living close to the White Bay cruise ship terminal in Sydney Harbour about exhaust emissions—today's announcement will address those issues.”

Mr Chester said he had instructed AMSA to begin the process to make directions under s246 of the Navigation Act 2012 to set an upper limit for fuel-oil sulphur content while ships are at berth.

“These directions will require all cruise ships that visit Sydney Harbour to use a maximum fuel oil sulphur content limit of 0.1 per cent while at berth, or use an alternative method to achieve the same outcome. Significant penalties apply for not complying with such directions,” he said.

“Both Carnival Australia and Royal Caribbean, the two major users of the White Bay Cruise Terminal have voluntarily complied with the NSW Government's 0.1 per cent limit, which is a great outcome.

“I welcome the bipartisanship shown by Shadow Minister and Member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese on this issue. AMSA will now consult with the broader cruise ship industry on how these rules will apply and I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of that consultation process.”

LR And SCC Release Low Carbon Pathways 2050 Study

October 19, 2016
Lloyd's Register and Shipping in Changing Climates, a $4m multi-university and cross industry research project funded by EPRSC, have today released Low Carbon Pathways 2050 – a new study that details a number of potential pathways for the shipping industry’s transition to a low carbon future.

The report underlines the need for shipping to start its decarbonisation imminently – as stringency increases over time, increasingly high-cost mitigation steps are required.  The later we leave decarbonisation, the more rapid and potentially disruptive it will be for shipping. 

The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of shipping are a consequence of the carbon intensity of shipping’s energy supply, the energy efficiency of shipping and the demand for shipping. The Paris Agreement confirmed that it was not a question of whether climate change should be addressed but a question of how, and it was clear that everyone will have to contribute. 

Shipping currently accounts for 2.33% of global CO2 emissions and there will be no space in the carbon budget to allow even the emissions of shipping (currently approximately 1 Gt per annum) to be ignored.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), agreed at the 69th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) to establish a working group to discuss the matter further at MEPC 70 from 24–28 October 2016. There are a number of submissions to MEPC 70 on this subject and we all expect important discussions to take place on how this issue is to be progressed.

Low Carbon Pathways 2050, presented by Katharine Palmer, LR’s Environment and Sustainability Manager, and Carlo Raucci of the Shipping in Changing Climates project, aims to contribute towards these discussions by providing understanding on the potential pathways to the decarbonisation of the global shipping industry. Consistent with the Paris Agreement, the report gives particular focus on the technological and operational specifications of the global fleet and how these may change in relation to a given rate of decarbonisation.
The report asks the question: given the best available evidence, what is a reasonable estimate of how shipping might be required to change and what does this look like?

Three future scenarios for this initial study for the period 2015–2050 were identified to demonstrate varying options for decarbonisation. The first, High Hydrogen, considers the availability of hydrogen, which is used in fuel cell technology, to demonstrate what can be achieved through technology and innovation. The second, High Bio, assumes a mid-range market penetration of biofuels in the shipping industry, and the third, High offsetting, considers the impact of a market-based mechanism. These three future scenarios are compared to a business as usual (BAU) scenario with existing regulatory 

Key findings of the study include:
  • Shipping will need to start its decarbonisation imminently – as stringency increases over time, increasingly high-cost mitigation steps are required. The later we leave decarbonisation, the more rapid and potentially disruptive it will be for shipping. 
  • All are ‘possible’ options for achieving absolute reductions of a scale and timeliness consistent with the Paris Agreement.
  • A substitute for fossil fuel will still be required as energy efficiency improvements alone will not be sufficient in the medium to long term. 
  • Energy storage in batteries and renewable energy sources will have important roles to play, but are likely to still leave a requirement for a liquid fuel source.  
  • Additional regulations that may be developed for other emissions need to be considered, for example; methane, black carbon and particulate matter.
  • Technological and operational characteristics are just some of the considerations that need to be taken into account.
Katharine Palmer, LR’s Environment and Sustainability Manager, commented: “There are many issues to debate as the industry tries to consider what the strategy might be for handling the simultaneously inevitable and uncertain changes ahead. What is clear is that any future regulation needs to provide the right incentive to drive the change needed and we hope that business strategies and consistent policies can be combined to reduce shipping emissions.”

Carlo Raucci of the Shipping in Changing Climates project added: “Clearly many questions remain and will need further thought and consultation. But at least this study makes clear that we need to advance thinking beyond marginal gains in energy efficiency and alternative fossil fuels if we are to identify the sector’s least cost decarbonisation pathways.”

Following this initial study, LR and SCC will convene industry roundtable discussions on the findings of the report and facilitate the development of future possible scenarios in collaboration with the industry to create and share knowledge and tools that can contribute to reducing GHGs from shipping.

LCP2050 thumbanil 2Low Carbon Pathways 2050 is the latest in LR’s series of reports looking at fuel and technology trends for the marine industry, aimed at developing new knowledge and tools that can contribute to policy debate. Previous reports include Global Marine Trends 2030, Global Marine Fuel Trends 2030 and Global Marine Technology Trends 2030.

To download a PDF of the study go to 

NSW On Track To Eliminate HIV By 2020

01 December 2016: NSW Health Department
NSW is on track to achieve the virtual elimination of HIV transmission by 2020, with new HIV diagnoses in NSW at their lowest in more than four years while testing is at an all- time high.
Today, on World AIDS Day, Health Minister Jillian Skinner said: “It’s encouraging to see the four measures of success in the fight against HIV - prevention, testing, new diagnoses and treatment - are all heading in the right direction.”
70 new HIV diagnoses in NSW, the lowest number of new diagnoses for a single quarter in more than four years (a 22% decrease compared with the average for the same period in the previous six years)
A 27% increase in sexual health clinic testing compared with the same period in 2015, as well as a 34% testing increase among men who have sex with men
92% of people with diagnosed HIV attending sexual health services are on treatment
A combination of increased testing to detect infections earlier, high treatment coverage, high uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and targeted innovative community education programs is likely to have led to the reduction.
“Around 9,800 people in NSW live with HIV but around seven per cent are unaware they are infected. We must - and will - change this,” Mrs Skinner said.
To make testing for HIV easier, the NSW Government today launched the new Dried Blood Spot (DBS) HIV Testing Service. It allows people at risk of HIV to order a test online and take a sample where and when they choose without the need to visit a clinic. The sample is sent back by mail and people receive their results via phone, text message or email. The DBS HIV test is a free, convenient and private option for people to test for HIV.
HIV prevention options were expanded this year with the launch of the EPIC-NSW study of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in March. PrEP involves people without HIV taking treatment drugs daily to prevent them getting HIV. More than 4000 people at high risk of HIV infection at 21 NSW clinics are already involved, exceeding the original study target.
For information on testing and PrEP, go or call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.

Patients Gain Subsidised Access To Expensive New Medicines

1 December 2016: Media Release - The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
Minister for Sport
Australians from 1 December will pay no more than $38.30 for a medicine to treat thyroid cancer that would cost a patient $117,000 without subsidised access through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The medicine - Lenvatinib (Lenvima®) - is used in the treatment of radioactive iodine refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (RAI-R DTC) and works by blocking certain proteins that would otherwise encourage cancer cell growth.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care: “The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee agreed that there was a clinical need for an effective treatment for symptomatic, rapidly progressing patients with RAI-R DTC.

“This listing will help reduce stress for people at a very difficult time in their lives. Around 140 patients annually will benefit from the listing, and without Government subsidy, these patients could pay more than $117,000 for one year of treatment.”

Most patients with thyroid cancer respond well to treatment with radioactive iodine. However, there are currently no subsidised treatment options for those patients who do not respond to this therapy.

Ms Ley said: “These patients generally only live for 2.5 to 3 years after diagnosis. Lenvatinib has been shown to significantly delay the progression of these cancers and it is the only PBS subsidised treatment option available to these patients.

“The addition of this cancer medicine to the PBS, at a cost of approximately $71 million over five years, is part of the Australian Government’s undertaking to make new and affordable treatments available for people when they are very sick and in need of affordable access to medicine.”

Concessional patients pay $6.20 per script and the general PBS co-payment is $38.30 for access to PBS medicines.

Ms Ley also announced the listing of evolocumab (Repatha®) on 1 December 2016 for the treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (HoFH).

HoFH is a very rare inherited disease associated with elevated cholesterol levels which, if left untreated, can lead to a heart attack at a young age. The PBS listing of evolocumab will provide up to 160 high-risk Australians in this population with an affordable option to help reduce their cholesterol to target levels. Patients would pay more than $900 per month for this treatment without subsidised access through the PBS.

Ms Ley also announced that the listing of adalimumab (Humira®) will be extended to include the treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. Patients would pay more than $22,400 per course of treatment without the PBS listing.

Omalizumab (Xolair®) for the treatment of paediatric severe allergic asthma, and a sub-cutaneous form of tocilizumab (Actemra®) for the treatment of severe active rheumatoid arthritis will also be listed on the PBS from 1 December 2016. It would cost a patient $7,352 per year without subsidised access via the PBS.

The total financial impact to Government for medicines to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 December 2016 is a cost of more than $139 million over five years.

PBS listings are published on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits which is available through the PBS website.

Higher Honours For HETI

02 December 2016: NSW Health
​NSW’s Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) has been officially designated as a higher education provider - a first for a state health entity.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has named HETI as a registered higher education provider for the maximum registration period of seven years.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said: “This is a very significant achievement for HETI and I congratulate those who have had a part in it.
“We established HETI almost five years ago to provide leadership to Local Health Districts, Specialty Health Networks and other NSW public health organisations and to train providers in the development of education and training across the NSW public health system.
“It is succeeding in its mission to improve the health of NSW and the working lives of NSW Heath staff through education and training.”
HETI Higher Education will offer two new mental health courses, based on former courses offered by the NSW Institute of Psychiatry (NSWIOP). NSWIOP is in transition to become the mental health portfolio of HETI. This is due to be completed by 1 January 2017.
HETI Higher Education will continue to develop new courses as determined by state-wide health priorities and the education and training needs of NSW Health workforce.
For more about HETI Higher Education, visit the new website

It's All In The Eyes: Women And Men Really Do See Things Differently

November 28, 2016: University of Queen Mary London
Women and men look at faces and absorb visual information in different ways, which suggests there is a gender difference in understanding visual cues, according to a team of scientists that included psychologists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

The researchers used an eye tracking device on almost 500 participants at the Science Museum over a five-week period to monitor and judge how much eye contact they felt comfortable with while looking at a face on a computer screen.

They found that women looked more at the left-hand side of faces and had a strong left eye bias, but that they also explored the face much more than men. The team observed that it was possible to tell the gender of the participant based on the scanning pattern of how they looked at the face with nearly 80 per cent accuracy. Given the very large sample size the researchers suggest this is not due to chance.

Lead author Dr Antoine Coutrot from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences said: "This study is the first demonstration of a clear gender difference in how men and women look at faces.

"We are able to establish the gender of the participant based on how they scan the actors' face, and can eliminate that it isn't based on the culture of the participant as nearly 60 nationalities have been tested. We can also eliminate any other observable characteristics like perceived attractiveness or trustworthiness."

The participants were asked to judge how comfortable the amount of eye contact they made with the actor in a Skype-like scenario. Each participant saw the same actor (there were eight in total) during the testing period, which was around 15 minutes. At the end of the session the researchers collected personality information about the participants through questionnaires.

Co-author Dr Isabelle Mareschal also from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences added: "There are numerous claims in popular culture that women and men look at things differently -- this is the first demonstration, using eye tracking, to support this claim that they take in visual information in different ways."

The team describe their findings in the Journal of Vision and suggest the gender difference in scanning visual information might impact many research fields, such as autism diagnosis or even everyday behaviours like watching a movie or looking at the road while driving.

The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and EPSRC and involved researchers from University College London and University of Nottingham.

Antoine Coutrot, Nicola Binetti, Charlotte Harrison, Isabelle Mareschal, Alan Johnston. Face exploration dynamics differentiate men and women.Journal of Vision, November 2016

50,000 Preschools To Receive Free Water Safety Education Packs

1 December 2016: Media Release - The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
Minister for Sport
Summer can be a time of fun in the sun and in the water, but it is also a time to be extra careful about children’s water safety.

Minister for Health and Sport Sussan Ley today urged all families and teachers involved with young children to use free water safety education resources proudly supported by the Australian Government.

New packs to promote water safety for toddlers, including songs, videos and books, will be distributed by Australia Post to more than 50,000 pre-schools, early learning centres and play groups around Australia over the next two weeks. 

The resource packs are part of the Kids Alive Do the Five program developed by Laurie Lawrence. The program will receive $1 million from the Federal Government this financial year.

“The resource pack reflects Laurie’s technical expertise and passion for improving children’s water survival skills,” Ms Ley said.

“I encourage parents, carers and teachers to use these new resources. Please take the time to learn about water safety and teach your kids - it could save their life.”

Australia Post spokesperson Michelle Skehan said: “Australia Post is proud to provide support to the Water Safety Program - it is an important initiative and plays a vital role in teaching children how to be safe in and around water.”

Children under five years old are a priority for the Government’s water safety initiatives. The 2016 Drowning Report released by the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia found that the number of children under five who drowned was 30 per cent below the 10-year average.

“While the great work being undertaken by Laurie Lawrence is having a real impact, 21 youngsters tragically lost their lives to drowning in the past 12 months, so we still need to push the message that many of these deaths are preventable,” Ms Ley said. 

“We have to stay vigilant and ensure our pre-schoolers are properly supervised whenever they are near water and improve water safety skills as early as possible.” 

A DVD on infants’ water safety produced by Mr Lawrence as part of the Kids Alive program is also distributed to new mothers in hospitals throughout the country.

The water safety curriculum materials along with other water safety resources can be accessed free from the Kids Alive

The Government provides $11 million a year to organisations such as Laurie Lawrence Swimming Enterprises, the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia and AUSTSWIM, to keep Australians and our visitors safe at our beaches, pools and inland waterways, including rivers and dams.

Across The Generations Family Comes First

1 December 2016: Media Release - Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government
Australians believe that parents and their adult children have an obligation to support each other practically and financially, according to research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The Institute’s Director, Anne Hollonds said Australians support allowing adult children to live in the family home, but are less inclined to have ageing parents come to live with the family.

Ms Hollonds said the research found 60 per cent of Australians believe that parents should provide financial support to their adult children if they are in difficulty.

And if the situation was reversed, 64 per cent of Australians say that adult children should return the favour and provide financial support to their parents ithey are in need.

“Australian families acknowledge they have responsibilities to help older and younger generations with financial assistance and even a place to live in some circumstances,” Ms Hollonds said.

“Older people’s relative wealth and extended years of good health suggest many have an increased capacity to support their adult children in financial and practical ways.

“This inter-generational exchange of time and resources appears to be happening in line with the changing needs of young adults. More young adults are remaining or returning to the parental home to pursue educational opportunities and many grandparents are caring for grandchildren on a weekly basis.”

Ms Hollonds said 63 per cent of Australians believe that parents should allow adult children to live with them if they need a roof over their heads.

“Within families there’s a recognition that intergenerational support is a two way street – both for young people finding their feet but also for older family members who are becoming frail and in need of informal care,” she said.

“However that obligation does not extend to widespread support for adult children having their ageing parents come to live with them.

“Less than half of the study respondents agreed that adult children should let ageing parents live with them in cases of need.

“Older people themselves were also squarely against the idea, with the over 65s the least in favour of ageing parents having to live in the homes of their adult children.

The study confirmed stronger commitment to inter-generational support among Australians who were born overseas.

“Migrants from non-English speaking countries especially tend to place more reliance on family support than help from outside agencies. Sixty-five per cent of this group said that adult children should let their ageing parents live with them if they need to.”

Health Care Homes’ Voluntary Trial Scheduled For Mid-2017

29 November 2016: Media Release - The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
Minister for Sport

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, said the Turnbull Government was committed to its Health Care Homes program to find better ways of delivering medical services to an ageing population with one in two Australian living with a chronic condition.

United General Practice Australia (UGPA) today called for a three to six month delay of stage one of the voluntary trial of Health Care Homes.

Ms Ley said that stage one was scheduled to be rolled out in limited and selected regions from July 2017.

“It is voluntary for medical practices and patients and no doctor is required to participate if they do not want to,” she said.

“It will not start until mid-2017 and it will be fully evaluated before any future roll-out to the wider community.”

Ms Ley said the development of stage one of Health Care Homes had included the views of the medical profession through an advisory group in the Department of Health.

“I welcome the input of the RACGP, the Australian Medical Association and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia throughout the development of the Health Care Homes program,” she said.

“The Government will continue to listen to the input of all stakeholders – consumers, doctors, health care providers -and take on board suggestions to ensure that the roll-out of Health Care Homes is to the benefit of patients, health professionals and the health system as a whole.”

Ms Ley said the Government was committed to continuing with the call for Expressions of Interest from medical practices to participate in the Health Care Homes trial, which closes on 15 December.

The Turnbull Government has allocated more than $100m to support the rollout of stage one, which aims to enrol up to 65,000 patients in 200 medical practices in 10 regions across Australia.

General practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in these regions can apply for stage one of Health Care Homes: Perth North; Northern Territory; Adelaide; Country South Australia; Brisbane North; Western Sydney; Nepean Blue Mountains; Hunter; New England and Central Coast; South Eastern Melbourne; Tasmania.

More information on the application process is available on the Tenders and Grant page on the Department of Health's website.

Ms Ley said she would take advice from the Department of Health on key factors associated with the voluntary trial. If advice was received about the effective rollout of Health Care Homes for commencement on 1 July 2017 she would consider such advice at that time. 

Ms Ley said delivery of stage one of Health Care Homes was designed to find better ways of delivering Medicare for Australians with chronic illnesses.

This had never been more important with one in two Australians living with chronic conditions and one in five managing two or more.

Ms Ley said: “Health Care Homes allows for team-based and integrated care for patients and gives greater flexibility to design individual care plans for patients and co-ordinate care services to support them.”
Draft Medium Density Design Guide and Explanation of Intended Effect for the new Medium Density Housing Code

The NSW Government is seeking your feedback on the draft Medium Density Design Guide. It has been prepared to help achieve better design outcomes for low rise medium density housing. 

We are also seeking feedback on the Explanation of Intended Effect that explains the proposed complying development standards to be included in a new Medium Density Housing Code. The draft Code will allow some medium density housing as complying development. These changes give effect to the Design Guide for complying development applications. 

The draft Design Guide has been prepared to: 
  • assist developers, planners, urban designers, architects, landscape architects, builders and other professionals when designing homes and preparing a complying development proposal or a development application 
  • assist planning professionals in local and state government with strategic planning, the preparation of local planning controls and the assessment of development proposals 
  • set the benchmark and inform the community on what is required to achieve good design for medium density housing developments. 
It is proposed that the Design Guide be used for both complying development and development applications to promote good design outcomes for medium density housing types across NSW. 

We welcome your feedback on the draft Design Guide and Explanation of Intended Effect. Submissions can be made until 12 December 2016: 

- by email to: 
- by mail to: 
Director, Codes and Approval Pathways 
NSW Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39, Sydney, NSW 2001 

You can read more about the benefits of medium density housing

Government Seeks Public And Industry Input On Value Capture

16 November 2016: Media Release - The Hon.Paul Taylor, Minister for Urban Infrastructure, andThe Hon. Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation
Using ‘value capture’ to help deliver more infrastructure is the subject of a discussion paper released today by Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher and Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor.

New transport infrastructure delivers economic value—for example property prices typically jump near a new rail station. Tapping some of that value to help fund the cost of the infrastructure is an increasingly common technique.

The discussion paper examines the potential to more widely use value capture funding to supplement the billions of dollars each year already spent by all three levels of Australian governments on infrastructure.

It sets out a range of options for the Australian Government to action to stimulate the use of value capture in the development and delivery of infrastructure and describes various potential value capture approaches—including tools already in use by state and local governments.

Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said the Australian Government was seeking public and industry input on the value capture concept.

“Many states and territories already use value capture funding models to support major upgrades,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Similarly, developer charges are commonly used by local government authorities to help deliver utilities for new housing developments.

“If we are to make better use of value capture, governments must first understand why beneficiaries might be willing to pay for projects; identifying who these beneficiaries are and when they might materially gain from projects funded through this method.”

Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor said there was a need to find new funding models within the constrained fiscal environment.

“Government is getting smarter about linking transport investment with long term planning for affordable homes, closer to where people work and closer to services like schools and hospitals,” Mr Taylor said.

“Through City Deals, we are looking at changing the way we fund infrastructure.

“Encouraging public private partnerships to pay for road and rail corridors where land values will increase, can be a wise way to invest taxpayers' money.”

Submissions on the discussion paper will be open until 3 February 2017.

For more information on how to provide a submission, visit

Appointment Of The National Library Of Australia Director-General

29 November 2016: Media release - Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications
Minister for the Arts
Manager of Government Business in the Senate

The Turnbull Government has appointed Dr Marie-Louise Ayres as Director General of the National Library of Australia for a five year term.

Dr Ayres has served in senior management roles at the National Library since 2002. During this time, she has led the development of transformative digital services. 

Most recently, Dr Ayres has worked to increase the prominence of the National Library’s collection by leading its online archive, Trove.

Dr Ayres appointment will commence on 2 March 2017. She will replace Ms Anne-Marie Schwirtlich AM, who has held the position since 2011.

The Government would like to thank Ms Schwirtlich AM for her outstanding contribution to the direction of the National Library over the past six years.

For more information about the National Library of Australia

$15 Million For Screen Projects;  Screen Australias Screen And TV Funding Includes Fred Schepisis' Andorra And Storm Boy Remake 

Tuesday 29 November 2016: Media Release - Screen Australia
The latest round of Screen Australia funding supports a diverse slate of stories that venture across the globe and cater to all kinds of audiences - from family-friendly content like the remake of Australian classic Storm Boy and season two of The Secret Daughter, bold war dramas Jirga and Fighting Season, romantic thriller Andorra, the music biopic Friday On My Mind and sports drama Sunshine.

Seven films and eight television series were approved for production investment funding at the latest Screen Australia board meeting on Friday November 11, totalling more than $15 million in funding.

Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia said: “This is a bumper slate of titles for our last production investment funding round of the calendar year. We are delighted to be supporting TV projects from so many of the major players all in one round including Foxtel, Channel Seven, Network Ten, the ABC and SBS. And in film we look forward to seeing the latest from acclaimed talents Fred Schepisi, Jonathan Teplitzky and John Maynard.”

The successful feature film projects are:

An inspired and contemporary re-imagining of the 1976 classic family film Storm Boy from writer Justin Monjo (The Secret Daughter, Spear), director Shawn Seet (Deep Water, The Code) and Ambience Entertainment producers Michael Boughen and Matthew Street (Tomorrow When the War Began – 2016 TV series and 2010 film). This time around we first meet Mike ‘Storm Boy’ Kingley as a grandfather who recounts his childhood adventures to his conflicted teenage granddaughter, and how his life changed forever when he formed a special bond with orphaned pelican Mr Percival.

The authentic war film Jirga, which marks the second feature from writer/director Benjamin Gilmour following his acclaimed 2007 debut Son of a Lion. Produced by John Maynard (Sherpa, Balibo), Jirga follows an Australian soldier who returns to Afghanistan to make amends for the death of an unarmed civilian he accidentally killed in combat. Gilmour has already filmed extensively in Afghanistan under dangerous conditions.

From Golden Globe winning director Fred Schepisi (Empire Falls, The Devil’s Playground) comes Andorra, a romantic thriller with an all-star cast including Guy Pearce and Toni Collette, alongside Gillian Anderson, Clive Owen and Joanna Lumley. Pearce will play Alexander Fox, a bookseller who leaves the US to begin a new life abroad but quickly becomes embroiled in a mysterious local murder.

Action-packed crime caper Mr Cranky will reunite director Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man, Indian Summers) with producer Chris Brown (The Railway Man, Daybreakers) and writer Chris Nyst (Gettin’ Square). Set on the Gold Coast, it centres on underworld debt collector Kevin Darcy who finds himself unexpectedly saddled with his ex-girlfriend’s precocious seven-year-old daughter, setting him off on a path to enlightenment – albeit one littered with hit men and Hells Angels. With Screen Queensland support. 

A further three feature film projects have received conditional funding and will be announced at a later stage.

The successful television drama projects are:
The Bureau of Magical Things, a brand new children’s series for Network Ten from hugely successful children’s content producer Jonathan M. Shiff (Mako: Island of Secrets, Lightning Point, H20: Just Add Water) and Stuart Wood (H20: Just Add Water). The story, about a teenage girl named Kyra who uncovers a magical world, will be brought to life by director Evan Clarry (Mako: Island of Secrets, Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures) and writer Mark Shirrefs (The New Adventures of Figaro Pho).

Season 2 of Channel Seven’s ratings winner The Secret Daughter starring Jessica Mauboy as country pub singer Billie Carter. The new season from producers Kerrie Mainwaring (Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door, Catching Milat) and Lauren Edwards(Cleverman, The Sapphires) will uncover what the future holds for Billie, who turned her back on a potential music career and a romance with Jamie in the finale after discovering wealthy hotelier Jack Norton was not her father.

Fighting Season from Goalpost Pictures for Foxtel, from producer Kylie du Fresne (Cleverman, Holding The Man, The Sapphires) and writer Blake Ayshford (Barracuda, Devil’s Playground, The Code). The six-part drama series explores the life of the modern soldier. It centres on a platoon who return to Australia from Afghanistan after a controversial combat mission goes wrong and must adapt to their jarringly domestic life back home. With Screen NSW support. 

Two-part ABC biopic miniseries Friday On My Mind by Playmaker Media’s highly successful producing duo David Taylor and David Maher (The Wrong Girl, The Code, Love Child, House Husbands). It will tell the story of 1960s legendary Sydney rock-and-roll band The Easybeats, formed by five disparate immigrant boys who came together to create the nation’s first truly international band. With Screen NSW support. 

SBS drama series Sunshine from Essential Media and Entertainment. Set in a working class suburb of Melbourne, talented basketball player Jacob Chagai lives within the South Sudanese community and dreams of playing for the NBA. Written by Matt Cameron (Secret City, Jack Irish) and Elise McCredie (Stateless, Nowhere Boys), and produced by Doctor Doctor’s Ian Collie and Carver Films’ duo Sarah Shaw and Anna McLeish (Snowtown), this four-part series immerses the viewer in a criminal investigation, a high stakes sports game, and the simmering tensions of an ethnically diverse community. 

Psychological thriller Safe Harbour from Matchbox Pictures for SBS, produced by Stephen Corvini (Hyde & Seek, Better Man) and written by Belinda Chayko (Barracuda, Secret City), Phil Enchelmaier (Mako: Island of Secrets) and Matt Cameron (Secret City, Molly). The story follows a group of Australian friends who come face-to-face with a boat of desperate asylum seekers while on a yachting holiday from Darwin to Indonesia, leading to a tragic series of events that returns to haunt them five years later. With Screen Queensland support. 
A further two television projects were also approved and will be announced in the coming months.

Click here for more information about this round of feature film projects.
Click here for more information about this round of television projects. 

Ancient Rocks Hold Evidence For Life Before Oxygen

This is a microscopic image of 2.5 billion-year-old sulfur-oxidizing bacterium. Credit: Andrew Czaja, UC assistant professor of geology
November 29, 2016
Somewhere between Earth's creation and where we are today, scientists have demonstrated that some early life forms existed just fine without any oxygen.

While researchers proclaim the first half of our 4.5 billion-year-old planet's life as an important time for the development and evolution of early bacteria, evidence for these life forms remains sparse including how they survived at a time when oxygen levels in the atmosphere were less than one-thousandth of one percent of what they are today.

Recent geology research from the University of Cincinnati presents new evidence for bacteria found fossilized in two separate locations in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

"These are the oldest reported fossil sulfur bacteria to date," says Andrew Czaja, UC assistant professor of geology. "And this discovery is helping us reveal a diversity of life and ecosystems that existed just prior to the Great Oxidation Event, a time of major atmospheric evolution."

The 2.52 billion-year-old sulfur-oxidizing bacteria are described by Czaja as exceptionally large, spherical-shaped, smooth-walled microscopic structures much larger than most modern bacteria, but similar to some modern single-celled organisms that live in deepwater sulfur-rich ocean settings today, where even now there are almost no traces of oxygen.

In his research published in the December issue of the journal Geology of the Geological Society of America, Czaja and his colleagues Nicolas Beukes from the University of Johannesburg and Jeffrey Osterhout, a recently graduated master's student from UC's department of geology, reveal samples of bacteria that were abundant in deep water areas of the ocean in a geologic time known as the Neoarchean Eon (2.8 to 2.5 billion years ago).

"These fossils represent the oldest known organisms that lived in a very dark, deep-water environment," says Czaja. "These bacteria existed two billion years before plants and trees, which evolved about 450 million years ago. We discovered these microfossils preserved in a layer of hard silica-rich rock called chert located within the Kaapvaal craton of South Africa."

With an atmosphere of much less than one percent oxygen, scientists have presumed that there were things living in deep water in the mud that didn't need sunlight or oxygen, but Czaja says experts didn't have any direct evidence for them until now.

Czaja argues that finding rocks this old is rare, so researchers' understanding of the Neoarchean Eon are based on samples from only a handful of geographic areas, such as this region of South Africa and another in Western Australia.

According to Czaja, scientists through the years have theorized that South Africa and Western Australia were once part of an ancient supercontinent called Vaalbara, before a shifting and upending of tectonic plates split them during a major change in the Earth's surface.

Based on radiometric dating and geochemical isotope analysis, Czaja characterizes his fossils as having formed in this early Vaalbara supercontinent in an ancient deep seabed containing sulfate from continental rock. According to this dating, Czaja's fossil bacteria were also thriving just before the era when other shallow-water bacteria began creating more and more oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

"We refer to this period as the Great Oxidation Event that took place 2.4 to 2.2 billion years ago," says Czaja.

Early recycling
Czaja's fossils show the Neoarchean bacteria in plentiful numbers while living deep in the sediment. He contends that these early bacteria were busy ingesting volcanic hydrogen sulfide -- the molecule known to give off a rotten egg smell -- then emitting sulfate, a gas that has no smell. He says this is the same process that goes on today as modern bacteria recycle decaying organic matter into minerals and gases.

"The waste product from one [bacteria] was food for the other," adds Czaja.

"While I can't claim that these early bacteria are the same ones we have today, we surmise that they may have been doing the same thing as some of our current bacteria," says Czaja. "These early bacteria likely consumed the molecules dissolved from sulfur-rich minerals that came from land rocks that had eroded and washed out to sea, or from the volcanic remains on the ocean's floor.

There is an ongoing debate about when sulfur-oxidizing bacteria arose and how that fits into the earth's evolution of life, Czaja adds. "But these fossils tell us that sulfur-oxidizing bacteria were there 2.52 billion years ago, and they were doing something remarkable."

Andrew D. Czaja, Nicolas J. Beukes, Jeffrey T. Osterhout. Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria prior to the Great Oxidation Event from the 2.52 Ga Gamohaan Formation of South Africa. Geology, 2016; 44 (12): 983 DOI: 10.1130/G38150.1

NSW Government Launches Innovation Strategy

November 30, 2016: NSW Government
The Innovation Strategy aims to foster a culture of new ideas and innovation throughout the NSW Government and wider society.
The Innovation Strategy includes a range of initiatives that will strengthen entrepreneurship and harness NSW’s reputation as an innovation and economic powerhouse. 

Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch transformative ideas to government advisers and industry experts through NSW Innovation Concierge's “Shark Tank” process. 

Other key initiatives include:
  • creation of a Ministerial Innovation Committee to oversee the implementation of the strategy and encourage agencies to embrace innovation
  • $10 million set aside from Jobs for NSW to grow the NSW's network of incubators and accelerators, and $3 million of direct grants for startups in 2016-17. 
Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said the NSW Government was opening the front door to entrepreneurs to help address the state’s pressing challenges.

“The digital age has transformed technologies, businesses and consumer expectations. It is imperative that government agencies embrace new ideas and ensure that current and future policies reflect the disruptive age in which we live,” he said.

Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said the strategy will ensure NSW is well placed to respond to the future jobs needs of our state.

“It is important that we continue to improve our innovation capabilities, prepare for new technological and economic opportunities and grow more jobs for the people of NSW,” he said.

Find out more about NSW's Innovation Strategy (PDF: 121MB)

Embryonic Cluster Galaxy Immersed In Giant Cloud Of Cold Gas

December 1, 2016: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Astronomers studying a cluster of still-forming protogalaxies seen as they were more than 10 billion years ago have found that a giant galaxy in the center of the cluster is forming from a surprisingly-dense soup of molecular gas.

"This is different from what we see in the nearby Universe, where galaxies in clusters grow by cannibalizing other galaxies. In this cluster, a giant galaxy is growing by feeding on the soup of cold gas in which it is submerged," said Bjorn Emonts of the Center for Astrobiology in Spain, who led an international research team.

The scientists studied an object called the Spiderweb Galaxy, which actually is not yet a single galaxy, but a clustering of protogalaxies more than 10 billion light-years from Earth. At that distance, the object is seen as it was when the Universe was only 3 billion years old. The astronomers used the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) and the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to detect carbon monoxide (CO) gas.

The presence of the CO gas indicates a larger quantity of molecular hydrogen, which is much more difficult to detect. The astronomers estimated that the molecular gas totals more than 100 billion times the mass of the Sun. Not only is this quantity of gas surprising, they said, but the gas also must be unexpectedly cold, about minus-200 degrees Celsius. Such cold molecular gas is the raw material for new stars.

The CO in this gas indicates that it has been enriched by the supernova explosions of earlier generations of stars. The carbon and oxygen in the CO was formed in the cores of stars that later exploded.

The ATCA observations revealed the total extent of the gas, and the VLA observations, much more narrowly focused, provided another surprise. Most of the cold gas was found, not within the protogalaxies, but instead between them.

"This is a huge system, with this molecular gas spanning three times the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy," said Preshanth Jagannathan, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, NM.

Earlier observations of the Spiderweb, made at ultraviolet wavelengths, have indicated that rapid star formation is ongoing across most of the region occupied by the gas.

"It appears that this whole system eventually will collapse into a single, gigantic galaxy," Jagannathan said.

"These observations give us a fascinating look at what we believe is an early stage in the growth of massive galaxies in clusters, a stage far different from galaxy growth in the current Universe," said Chris Carilli, of NRAO.

The astronomers reported their findings in the December 2 issue of the journal Science.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

B. H. C. Emonts, M. D. Lehnert, M. Villar-Martin, R. P. Norris, R. D. Ekers, G. A. van Moorsel, H. Dannerbauer, L. Pentericci, G. K. Miley, J. R. Allison, E. M. Sadler, P. Guillard, C. L. Carilli, M. Y. Mao, H. J. A. Rottgering, C. De Breuck, N. Seymour, B. Gullberg, D. Ceverino, P. Jagannathan, J. Vernet, B. T. Indermuehle. Molecular gas in the halo fuels the growth of a massive cluster galaxy at high redshift. Science, 2016; 354 (6316): 1128 DOI: 10.1126/science.aag0512

Defence Force Ombudsman Function Of Receiving Reports Of Abuse Commences

1 December 2016: Media release – Commonwealth Ombudsman
Today marks the commencement of the Defence Force Ombudsman’s (DFO) new function of receiving reports of serious abuse from serving and former Defence members and civilians deployed on operations overseas. The role of Defence Force Ombudsman is performed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman to ensure its independence from Defence.

“This provides a confidential mechanism to report sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and serious bullying and harassment within Defence, for those who feel unable to access Defence’s internal mechanisms to report such matters,” said Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave AM.

“Our staff are here to support serving and former Defence members through the process of making a report of abuse. We will consider all reports of abuse, no matter how old.”

“We have been working collaboratively with the Defence community and other stakeholders in the lead up to the commencement of this function. We intend to continue this process to ensure that our new role is known and understood and every voice can be heard,” Mr Neave said.

Further information is available on the Commonwealth Ombudsman website at

Defence Force Ombudsman: 1300 395 776

If you are feeling distressed and need to speak to someone urgently, please call one of the 24-hour support services listed below:

Lifeline: call 13 11 14
beyondblue: call 1300 224 636

Landmark Media Reforms Pass The Lower House

30 November 2016: Media Release - Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications
Minister for the Arts
Manager of Government Business in the Senate

The Turnbull Government’s media reform legislation today passed through the House of Representatives, the next step towards modernising Australia’s media industry and securing its future.

These reforms are vital measures that will unshackle Australia’s media industry from redundant laws and allow it to respond to increasing international competition.

The reforms are designed to support Australian jobs, strengthen local content obligations, and bring our media laws into the digital age.

Unfortunately, the passage of media reform continues to be delayed by the actions of the Labor Party. Labor has ensured that this legislation has been tied up for four months in two separate Senate inquiries.

If the Labor Party took the challenges faced by Australia’s media industry seriously then these reforms would have passed in March.

The Government remains committed to ensuring passage of this legislation through the Senate and will continue discussions with the crossbench.


Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016

The Bills Digest at a glance

Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016 (the Bill) is to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) to:
  • repeal certain media ownership, control and diversity laws
  • introduce new local programming obligations for regional commercial television broadcasting licensees when a change in control, known as a trigger event, results in a licence forming part of a group of commercial television broadcasting licences whose combined licence area populations exceed 75 per cent of the Australian population.
Structure of the Bill

The Bill consists of three schedules.
  • Schedule 1 repeals the 75 per cent reach rule
  • Schedule 2 repeals what is called the two out of three rule*
  • Schedule 3 inserts a new Division 5D in Part 5 of the BSA which introduces new local programming requirements for regional commercial television broadcasting licensees and revokes current programming requirements.
The federal government has regulated the broadcasting industry since the 1930s. Almost from that time the industry has protested that media control rules have been too onerous, but objections to media regulations have intensified since the emergence of the Internet and new media technologies and the increasing convergence of various media platforms.

Sections of the broadcasting industry have been lobbying for the removal of certain rules which they consider outdated and which they argue prevent mergers and economies of scale which will assist them to remain economically viable in the modern media environment.

The Government has responded by introducing this legislation.

*two-out-of-three rule prevents a proprietor controlling more than two of three radio, TV and newspapers in one area

New Underwater Heritage Law Will Protect Even More Of Our History

29 November 2016: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Protection of Australia's unique underwater heritage will be strengthened under new legislation to be introduced to Parliament next year.

The Underwater Cultural Heritage Act will extend the protection currently afforded only to shipwrecks, plane wrecks, Indigenous heritage sites and other underwater cultural sites.

This change will mean the historic sites will be registered on the Australian National Shipwrecks Database, and all access will require a permit, which acts as a deterrent to vandalism and theft.

Australia was one of the first countries to protect its underwater cultural heritage in 1976 with the Historic Shipwrecks Act, making it one of Australia's oldest heritage protection programs.

Today I'm pleased to announce we're building on this, ensuring the continued protection of more than 8,000 shipwrecks in Australian waters and any wrecks older than 75 years yet to be discovered.

It will have a significant positive impact at shipwreck areas like the Great Barrier Reef and Shark Bay World Heritage Area, and aircraft wreck areas in Darwin Bay and off the Kimberley Coast.

This will broaden and improve the protection of Australia's underwater history using the principles set down by the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

It will also enable Australia to pursue ratification of the convention. This is a further demonstration of the Turnbull Government's commitment to protecting heritage.

The Coalition will continue to works collaboratively with state and territory government agencies to protect and conserve Australia's irreplaceable historic shipwreck heritage to ensure it can be enjoyed and studied now and by future generations.

Social Justice And Native Title Report 2016 Released

Thursday 1 December 2016: Australian Human Rights Commission 
The Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, tabled today in Federal Parliament, includes an agenda for reform based on solutions proposed by Indigenous Australians.

Australian Human Rights Commission President, Gillian Triggs, said governments must genuinely engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to address issues such as property rights, justice targets and escalating incarceration rates.

Professor Triggs, who is acting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, said significant numbers of Indigenous Australians are passing away from violence, illness or a combination of both while detained by the state.

“This rate of incarceration and death, 25 years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, is intolerable,” Professor Triggs said.

Deputy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Robynne Quiggin, said reforms proposed by Indigenous Australians during the year include:

Delivering on measures set out in the Redfern Statement
Implementing reforms developed by the Indigenous Property Rights Project
Allowing income programs to be opt-in
Ms Quiggin said these initiatives, together with continuing consultations on constitutional recognition, would enable structural change and deliver a system which values Indigenous knowledge and the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

“Indigenous people are self-determining and resilient. We can provide clear input on policy, based on evidence and experience. The question is, when will governments listen?” Ms Quiggin asked.

“Governments and their policymakers must listen to, value and implement the practical solutions proposed by Indigenous Australians,” Ms Quiggin said.

The Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016 is the seventh and final report covering the term of the previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda.

Commissioner Gooda resigned in August 2016 to join the Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory.

Australian War Memorial Launches New Display

Wednesday 30 Nov 2016
A new permanent display titled The Holocaust: witnesses and survivors has opened at the Australian War Memorial. It tells the story of the Holocaust through the experiences of several survivors who later made lives in post-war Australia.

Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Memorial, said The Holocaust: witnesses and survivors is a much-needed addition to the Australian War Memorial’s Second World War galleries.

“This horrific event changed the world forever and we now live in its shadow. No human being, no Australian who believes in the dignity of man, of freedom and democratic principles, should ever allow – through neglectful indifference – these events, these people, their lives and stories, to be forgotten,” Dr Nelson said.

“In a world in dealing with the mass movement of people, refugees, the persecution of political, religious and ethnic minorities, and the debate of euthanasia, human kind must never forget the extermination of six million people”, said Dr Nelson.

“The Holocaust and its impact is also an Australian story. Between 20,000 and 35,000 survivors of the genocide made new homes in Australia. Some already had family in Australia, and some were attracted by the fact that Australia was as far from Europe as they could possibly go. They embraced their new lives and made substantial contributions to all aspects of Australian life and society.”

The exhibition has been developed by the Australian War Memorial with the support of the Jewish Holocaust Centre. It includes over 85 collection items from both institutions. Many of these items are original documentation from Jewish men, women and children who survived ghettos, and concentration and extermination camps.

The launch was attended by members of the Australian Jewish community including 86-year-old Irma Hanner who survived Theresienstadt, a concentration camp and ghetto in Czechoslovakia.

The display features the artwork of the official war artist Alan Moore, who accompanied British troops as they liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

From 1941 to 1945, predominantly Jews, but also Gypsies and political prisoners were systematically murdered in the deadliest genocide in history. The Holocaust was the state-sponsored persecution and murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. It was one of the most defining events of the twentieth century.

This exhibition reveals the extremes of humanity’s capacity for evil, as well as its spirit of endurance and survival.

ABCC Spells Fair Deal For Small Business

30 November 2016: Media Release - The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Minister for Small Business
Today's  passage of legislation to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will restore confidence and stability on Australian worksites and among small business and deliver on yet another key election commitment from the Coalition Government, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack says.

“There are hundreds of thousands of jobs across Australia in the building and construction sector – with countless subcontractors who run their own small businesses and employ hundreds of thousands of Australians,” Mr McCormack said.

“Australia’s construction sector has more than 340,000 small businesses and around 97 per cent of the construction sector businesses are small.

“But with bullying tactics, intimidation and delays drawn out across the sector, small business suffered with costs of up to a third more. This independent watchdog will and create a balance between the building and construction sector and the unions.

“This is why the passage of the ABCC was so critical for small business. It ensures activity on worksites and limits union recklessness, meaning more Australians have the jobs and opportunities they deserve whilst nation-building infrastructure continues.”

Mr McCormack said the need to reinstate the ABCC was a central feature of a recent nationwide tour alongside Australian Chamber CEO James Pearson and President Terry Wetherall around Australian Chambers of Commerce.

“The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry set the challenge to MPs to reinstate the ABCC as part of its Top Ten in Ten campaign,” Mr McCormack said.

“This was a message I heard from Chamber members, affiliates and small businesses in every State and Territory. I am delighted the Government has been able to deliver for small business again today.”

Mr McCormack also said the reintroduction of the ABCC was an issue in rural and regional Australia.

“Whilst some commentators have chosen to focus on big-city projects and unions, the reality is this matter also affects many smaller subcontractors in rural and regional Australia, which places in jeopardy building, jobs and investment in the bush,” Mr McCormack said.

Wagga Wagga home and land builder Peter Hurst, who is a former head of the Riverina Housing Industry Association, and whose company can employ as many as 100 subcontractors at a time, said the ABCC reinstatement would bring common sense and provide stability in regional areas.

“The ABCC is an overarching governing body which will restore common sense and productivity to a much-needed building industry,” Mr Hurst said.

Mr McCormack said delivering for small business remains a central focus of the Coalition Government.

“The Prime Minister said this is a term of delivery and today’s ABCC reintroduction is yet another example of how the Coalition Government will always back small business,” Mr McCormack said.

Appointments To The High Court Of Australia 

29 November 2016
Prime Minister
His Excellency the Governor-General has accepted the advice of the Government to appoint the Honourable Justice Susan Mary Kiefel AC as the next Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. Justice Kiefel will become Australia’s thirteenth Chief Justice when the Honourable Justice Robert French AC leaves the Court on 29 January 2017.

Justice Kiefel has enjoyed a distinguished legal career, both at the Bar and on the Bench.  She is appointed Chief Justice from the High Court Bench where she has served since September 2007, and is presently the most senior puisne judge.

Her Honour holds a Master of Laws from Cambridge. She was called to the Queensland Bar in 1975. Justice Kiefel took silk in 1987, becoming the first woman in Queensland to do so. In 1993, Her Honour became the first woman appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland.

In 1994 Her Honour was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, and served as a part-time Commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission from 2003-2007.

We congratulate Justice Kiefel on her appointment and for all that she has achieved.  

Justice Kiefel will be sworn in as Chief Justice on 30 January 2017.

His Excellency the Governor-General has also accepted the Government’s advice to appoint the Honourable Justice James Joshua Edelman to the High Court.  He will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Justice Kiefel as Chief Justice.

His Honour holds the degrees of Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours), and Bachelor of Commerce.  He also holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford after being chosen as the Rhodes Scholar for Western Australia in 1998.

In 2001 Justice Edelman was called to the Western Australia Bar and in 2008 the Bar of England and Wales. His Honour has also lectured in law and was appointed Professor of the Law of Obligations at the University of Oxford in 2008.

In 2011, Justice Edelman was appointed to the Supreme Court of Western Australia and was appointed to his current position as Judge of the Federal Court of Australia in April 2015.

We congratulate Justice Edelman on his appointment in what has been a remarkable career already. His Honour will be sworn in on 30 January 2017.

We also take the opportunity to thank Chief Justice Robert French AC for his many years of judicial service.  His Honour was appointed Chief Justice in 2008 and served as judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 1986 to 2008.


2007 : Justice, High Court of Australia

2003 – 2007 : Part-time Commissioner Australian Law Reform Commission
1994 : Judge, Federal Court of Australia
1993 : Judge, Supreme Court of Queensland
1987 : Queen's Counsel

Master of Laws from the University of Cambridge
Legal qualification from the Barristers’ Board of Queensland

2015 - : Judge, Federal Court of Australia

2011 - 2015 : Judge, Supreme Court of Western Australia
2008-2011 : Barrister, Bar of England and Wales
2001-2011 : Professor of the Law of Obligations, University of Oxford , Barrister, Western Australian Bar
Doctor of Philosophy in Law Oxford, Rhodes Scholar 1998-2000
Bachelor of Laws (First Class Hons), University of Western Australia
Bachelor of Commerce, Murdoch University
Bachelor of Economics, University of Western Australia

Grants Help Australian Researchers And Businesses Connect At International Level

1 December 2016: Media release - The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

Australian small and medium sized companies and local researchers will partner with international counterparts to grow their businesses and undertake research to benefit industry, with more than $660,000 in commercialisation grants from the Turnbull Government.  

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, funding will be provided to 14 projects in sectors related to the Turnbull Government’s Industry Growth Centres of Advanced Manufacturing, Food and Agribusiness, Medical Technology and Pharmaceuticals, Mining Equipment, Technology and Services and Oil, Gas and Energy Resources.

This funding will support Australian businesses to be globally competitive, helping them to commercialise their products by collaborating with researchers overseas.

It will also support Australian researchers to work with international businesses to solve problems in industry and the community, with benefits flowing through to Australia.    

Australian researchers will partner with companies from China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and the USA. In turn, Australian companies will work with researchers from the Czech Republic, France, Italy, UK and the USA.

Grants totalling $662,608 have been awarded, with individual grants ranging from $35,000 to $50,000.

Examples of collaboration include:
  • Developing an ecofriendly control for powdery mildew and downy mildew control – two diseases that devastate grapes in both countries involved in the project. (Australia/India partnership).
  • Creating a prototype hardware and software system to assess the progress of victims of spinal cord injury and other neuromuscular conditions, as they undergo rehabilitation. (Australia/United States partnership).
  • Creating technologies for the development of superfast, low-cost and selective gas sensors with the capability of sensing/detecting explosives, drugs, air and food quality. (Australia/France partnership)
  • Developing smart sensor networks that communicate data about the structural health of civil engineering projects, with applications in construction, transportation, mining, water treatment and security. (Australia/United States partnership).
  • Investigating a new method for healing micro cracks in roads using waste products from the mining industry. (Australia/Italy partnership).
The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering delivers the Global Connections Fund, which is a key component of the Turnbull Government’s Global Innovation Strategy.

This program provides funding of $4.9 million over four years to support SME-to-researcher collaborations between Australian entities and overseas partners.

This funding will allow these successful projects to grow in scope and scale, and to test commercialisation and proof of concept.

Supporting collaboration between Australian and international researchers and businesses is a key element of the Turnbull Government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

Next week marks one year since the launch of NISA and major initiatives, including the Global Innovation Strategy, are underway to help Australians get their ideas to market and create the jobs and growth the country needs.

A full list of round one of Global Connections Fund Bridging Grant recipients is available at:

Predation On Pollinating Insects Shaped The Evolution Of The Orchid Mantis

A typical male orchid mantis, Hymenopus coronatus, from Sarawak, Borneo showing brown and white coloration with transparent wings.
Credit: Gavin Svenson

December 1, 2016
A team of scientists at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Australia, and Germany discovered that the orchid mantis looks like a flower due to the exploitation of pollinating insects as prey by its praying mantis ancestors.

By studying the evolutionary relationships of the orchid mantis and its distant relatives, the team discovered that females in the orchid mantis lineage increased in size and changed color over their evolutionary history to gain advantage over large pollinating insects, such as bees, as well as the ability to attract them for predation. However, the morphologically dissimilar males are small and camouflaged, enabling them to live a life of predator avoidance and mate finding. The team found that this difference in males and females, termed sexual dimorphism, was likely the result of female predatory success that favored larger and more conspicuously colored individuals. This result challenges the traditional explanation for sexual dimorphism in arthropods as an increase in female egg production and suggests female predation strategy led to the differing male and female ecologies in the orchid mantises.

The research was published online in the journal Scientific Reports.

Lead author Dr. Gavin Svenson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and co-authors used their evolutionary reconstruction of the group to demonstrate that a size increase in floral associated mantises provided access to more prey options, which set the stage for the evolution of floral simulation through size, shape, and color modifications that helped attract insect pollinators as prey. Thanks to a body of ecological research on the orchid mantis previously conducted by co-author Dr. James O'Hanlon of Macquarie University in Australia, it was known that females masquerade as flowers (floral simulation) to attract pollinating insects to eat, but that they do not sit on flowers themselves. This knowledge helped the team decipher the likely evolutionary scenario that gave rise to floral simulation in the orchid mantises and provided the opportunity to correct the long-held misunderstanding that orchid mantises sit on orchids, which their namesake incorrectly suggests.

"This study is a demonstration of how basic systematics research can inform our understanding of evolution by establishing patterns not previously seen," said co-author Henrique Rodrigues.

"Bringing together ecological research with an evolutionary analysis enabled us to explain how such a remarkable, flower masquerading lineage of praying mantis could evolve," said co-author Sydney Brannoch. Co-authors Rodrigues and Brannoch are both Ph.D. candidates at Case Western Reserve University and are based at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Svenson's laboratory.

The research project, under the direction of Svenson, was primarily focused on the systematics and taxonomy of a broader lineage of praying mantises, which included the orchid mantises. Acting on a suggestion made by co-author Dr. Frank Wieland of the Palatinate Museum of Natural History in Germany, the team took notice of a small group of extremely large and colorful mantises that grouped together in the evolutionary analysis. Although these relationships were never before outlined, they suggested a clear pattern of extreme sexual dimorphism in the orchid mantis lineage.

"It was not our intention to study the orchid mantises specifically, but when a unique pattern emerges, one must pursue fascinating results," said Svenson, curator of invertebrate zoology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and adjunct assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University. "Finding the first case of males and females of a praying mantis species living extremely different adult lives was interesting and unique, but discovering the first case of arthropod sexual size dimorphism caused by female predatory success rather than investment in reproduction was both surprising and rewarding. This is particularly true when the original research focus was to fix the classification system to reflect true evolutionary relationship. Finding patterns in your study group that inform broader evolutionary understanding is the holy grail of systematics research."

Gavin J. Svenson, Sydney K. Brannoch, Henrique M. Rodrigues, James C. O’Hanlon, Frank Wieland. Selection for predation, not female fecundity, explains sexual size dimorphism in the orchid mantises. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 37753 DOI: 10.1038/srep37753

Homelessness In Australia: The Post-War Era

These film clips present aspects of the Australian ideals of home and hearth, versus the realities of homelessness and slum living in the post war era in 1946-1965. 

00:12 Cinesound Review No 759: Modern Town Rises From the Desert (Cinesound, 1946). An idealised vision of Whyalla, a 'perfect' new township blossoming in South Australia. The romantic notion of an idyllic community flourishing in the Australian desert is then countered by the following two films.

01:58 Beautiful Melbourne (Realist Film Unit, 1947) and 03:14 A Place to Live (Realist Film Unit, 1950), both made by the rebellious Realist Film Unit, determined to present the harsh realities of true homelessness in an age when opportunity and hope was the official catch-cry but significant portions of the population didn't have a roof over their heads

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.

Community Granted Access To Information On Groundwater Regulation At Werris Creek Coal Mine

24 November 2016: EDO
Community group Quipolly Water Action Group was today granted access to documents on the regulation of groundwater at Whitehaven Coal’s Werris Creek coal mine near the Liverpool Plains in north-west New South Wales.
Members of the community are worried about the mine’s impact on groundwater – and particularly on the Quipolly Creek, which is near the mine. With this decision, the public will have access to key documents showing how the mine’s groundwater impacts are being managed, and will be able to determine whether the Department of Industry’s measures meet community expectations. 

The decision to grant community access to the documents was made by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Previous attempts by Quipolly Water Action Group to access the information were refused by NSW Department of Primary Industries Water (DPI Water), on the grounds that the information was ‘commercial’ and therefore sensitive. The NSW Information Commissioner found that this position was not justified, but the Commissioner’s finding was not binding. That left little choice for the Group but to take the matter to NCAT. 

“Naturally we’re delighted for our client. The local community will now be able to find out how well their groundwater is being protected,” said Sue Higginson, Chief Executive Officer, EDO NSW. “But this is a significant win for everyone in New South Wales. With the release of this information, we’ll gain invaluable insight into the ways that DPI Water regulates the impacts of coal mines across the State.” 

“Groundwater is such a vital resource. It’s absolutely imperative that the community knows what affect mines are having on groundwater and how the government is regulating those impacts.” 

More background on this case can be found at EDO NSW’s website

Deua Catchment Parks Plan Of Management

The Deua Catchment Parks Draft Plan of Management is on exhibition until 13 February 2017. The draft plan of management covers Berlang and Majors Creek State Conservation Areas and Frogs Hole Nature Reserve.

Parks and reserves established under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 are required to have a plan of management. The exhibition of the draft plan provides members of the community with the opportunity to have a say in the future management directions for Berlang and Majors Creek State Conservation Areas and Frogs Hole Nature Reserve.

Submit your written feedback on the draft plan by 13 February 2017 by:

using the online submission form on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website
writing to–
NPWS Planner
Deua Catchment Parks PoM
PO Box 707
Nowra NSW 2541

Environmental Future Funding Package

The NSW Government has released a new NSW Climate Change Policy Framework(External link). The policy provides important context for the government’s approach to climate change. It sets two aspirational objectives:
  • achieving net zero emissions by 2050
  • NSW being more resilient to a changing climate.
The government has also announced a $500 million funding package and released two draft climate change and energy savings plans for public consultation:

To ensure that the community is part of this important process, the government is seeking feedback on the two draft plans.

The submission form and information on how the community can have a say is available on the Make a submission page. Public submissions are due by 16 December 2016.

Information briefings
The NSW Government will run webinar briefings to provide more information about new funding opportunities under these two draft plans, the public consultation process and the new climate change policy framework.

To register for a webinar briefing, click on the relevant date 

Date                                                  Time
16 November 2016                        11am – 12:30pm
23 November 2016                         11am – 12:30pm
1 December 2016                                11am – 12:30pm

Nature Conservancy Writing Prize 2017

Enter The Nature Conservancy Australia Nature Writing Prize today!
Calling all writers! The Nature Conservancy Australia is delighted to open the fourth biennial Nature Writing Prize. 

$5,000 will be awarded to an essay of between 3,000 and 5,000 words in the genre of ‘Writing of Place’. The prize will go to an Australian writer whose entry is judged to be of the highest literary merit and which best explores his or her relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape. The competition’s judges are award-winning journalist, author and editor Jo Chandler and novelist and critic James Bradley. The winning entry will be published in Griffith Review online as a multimedia essay.

The prize has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from the McLean Foundation, which promotes and celebrates the art of nature writing in Australia.

The deadline for submissions is January 27, 2017Click here to learn more about the prize and review the terms and conditions of entry.

Clean Air For NSW Consultation Paper

Have your say on how we can improve air quality across NSW
The Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper presents a proposed approach and actions for government to meet its goal of improving average air quality results across NSW. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is seeking community and stakeholder feedback on whether you think NSW is proposing the right actions to improve air quality.

Your submission can assist us in finalising Clean Air for NSW and improving air quality and public health.

Key questions to consider:
  1. Do you have any comments on the proposed actions in the Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper to improve air quality? (Please use headings to identify each action)
  2. Are there other issues and actions that Clean Air for NSW should cover?
  3. How do you want to be informed about and involved in improving air quality?
  4. Do you have any other comments or ideas on improving air quality in NSW?
Please include headings for specific actions where appropriate throughout your submission.

Make sure you include the following information at the top of your submission:
  • First name 
  • Last name
  • Organisation you represent (if applicable)
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Postcode
Submit your feedback by Friday 20 January 2017

Email your comments to: 

Post your submission to:
EPA Air Policy
PO Box A290
Sydney South, NSW 1232

The EPA is committed to transparent processes and open access to information. The EPA may draw upon the contents of the submissions and quote from them or refer to them in publications. The EPA will treat the submission as public unless you indicate that you wish your submission to remain confidential.

The EPA will email an acknowledgment of submissions received by email within 72 hours of receipt.

50,000 Preschools To Receive Free Water Safety Education Packs

1 December 2016: Media Release - The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
Minister for Sport
Summer can be a time of fun in the sun and in the water, but it is also a time to be extra careful about children’s water safety.

Minister for Health and Sport Sussan Ley today urged all families and teachers involved with young children to use free water safety education resources proudly supported by the Australian Government.

New packs to promote water safety for toddlers, including songs, videos and books, will be distributed by Australia Post to more than 50,000 pre-schools, early learning centres and play groups around Australia over the next two weeks. 

The resource packs are part of the Kids Alive Do the Five program developed by Laurie Lawrence. The program will receive $1 million from the Federal Government this financial year.

“The resource pack reflects Laurie’s technical expertise and passion for improving children’s water survival skills,” Ms Ley said.

“I encourage parents, carers and teachers to use these new resources. Please take the time to learn about water safety and teach your kids - it could save their life.”

Australia Post spokesperson Michelle Skehan said: “Australia Post is proud to provide support to the Water Safety Program - it is an important initiative and plays a vital role in teaching children how to be safe in and around water.”

Children under five years old are a priority for the Government’s water safety initiatives. The 2016 Drowning Report released by the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia found that the number of children under five who drowned was 30 per cent below the 10-year average.

“While the great work being undertaken by Laurie Lawrence is having a real impact, 21 youngsters tragically lost their lives to drowning in the past 12 months, so we still need to push the message that many of these deaths are preventable,” Ms Ley said. 

“We have to stay vigilant and ensure our pre-schoolers are properly supervised whenever they are near water and improve water safety skills as early as possible.” 

A DVD on infants’ water safety produced by Mr Lawrence as part of the Kids Alive program is also distributed to new mothers in hospitals throughout the country.

The water safety curriculum materials along with other water safety resources can be accessed free from the Kids Alive website

The Government provides $11 million a year to organisations such as Laurie Lawrence Swimming Enterprises, the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia and AUSTSWIM, to keep Australians and our visitors safe at our beaches, pools and inland waterways, including rivers and dams.

Sandcastle Or Beach Cricket Wicket?