Inbox and Environment News: Issue 305

March 19 - 25, 2017: Issue 305

AVGT's 2nd Ever Sustainability Day!

Sunday, April 2 at 10 AM - 3 PM
Coastal Environment Centre
1 Lake Park Road -Pelican Path, Narrabeen.

The Av Green Team are hosting our second ever sustainability day! Partly because last time was so fun and also because we are eager to learn more! It will be on the Sunday from 10am until about 3pm. 

We have a range of awesome expert speakers and workshops covering soil and composting, permaculture, off-grid living, recycling and more! The day will be full of environmentally-friendly stalls and food. 

Come along (it's free) and will be a great day of learning/eating/moving!

Bird Walks And Talks 2017: PNHA

Come and see and hear some of our fantastic native birds, many of which you'll never see in your garden. Join in a Sunday guided bird walk with Pittwater Natural Heritage Association. All walks  start at 8am and end about 10am.

March 26, Irrawong reserve. Meet at corner Irrawong Rd and  Epworth Rd.
May 28, Warriewood Wetlands, meet at End of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen.
August 27 Chiltern Track. Meet at gate, off northern of Chiltern Rd Ingleside.
September 17 Irrawong reserve. Meet at corner Irrawong Rd and Epworth Rd.
November 26 Warriewood Wetlands. Meet end of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen. 

Bring binoculars if possible. Drink, hat and comfortable shoes.
More information contact or 
Ph Kerry on 0402605 721.

You don't need to book but if we know you're coming we'll watch out for you. Call if in doubt about weather as we won't go out if it's raining.

Call To Local Councils As Floodplain Management Grants Open For Applications

Media release: 16 March 2017
Grant funding to assist councils in carrying out floodplain management projects to help manage flood risk open for applications today, announced the NSW Government.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Executive Director Ian Hunter said grant funding is available to assist local government with flood studies, flood risk management studies and plans and major projects such as flood levees, gates, warning systems and house raising and purchase in high risk areas, under the 2017-18 Floodplain Management Program.

“This grant program funds important projects that assess risk and help reduce flood impacts across NSW,” Mr Hunter said.

“I encourage local councils to apply for this funding round. Applications close on 27 April 2017.

“The last funding round supported forty-four projects which shared $6.72 million.

“This grant program supports the implementation of the NSW Flood Prone Land Policy which aims to reduce the impacts of flooding and flood liability on communities,” Mr Hunter said.

Local councils, county councils and other government bodies with floodplain risk management responsibilities (refer to program guidelines) equivalent to those of local councils are eligible to apply.

Further information and application forms are available here: 

More Large-Scale Solar Farms Coming To NSW

March 16, 2017: Media Release - The Hon. Anthony Roberts, Minister for Planning and Housing
Twelve new renewable solar power projects, including what could be the largest in the southern hemisphere, are in NSW's planning pipeline. 
If approved, the proposed solar farms will generate:
  • more than 1000 megawatts of solar capacity, which is enough clean energy supply to power 365,000 homes across NSW
  • jobs in regional NSW at Gilgandra, Hillston, Narrabri, Armidale, Coleambally, Gulgong, Walgett, Jemalong, Balranald, Nyngan and Hay.
Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts said NSW was continuing to lead with solar research and innovation, in order to reach the national renewable energy target of 23.5 per cent by 2020.

“The 1000 megawatts is on top of the 660 megawatts that will be generated by 11 other solar farms that the NSW Government has already given the green light since 2011,” Mr Roberts said.

Three large-scale solar plants in regional NSW are currently operating, at Nyngan, Moree and Broken Hill.

The Nyngan solar farm is currently the biggest operating plant in the southern hemisphere, generating 106 megawatts for 32,000 homes. It has also created 250 construction jobs and provided $330 million in investment.

The proposed Sunraysia solar farm at Balranald, in the Riverina, is expected to produce double the solar energy of Nyngan.

Solar projects across NSW

Solar farms that are up and running:
Nyngan Solar Farm
Moree Solar Farm
Broken Hill Solar Farm

Solar farms approved by the NSW Government since 2011:

Bogan River Solar Farm in Nyngan
Capital Solar Farm in Bungendore
Manildra Solar Farm
Riverina Solar Farm in Yoogali
Griffith Solar Farm in Yoogali
White Rock Solar Farm in Matheson
Parkes Solar Farm
Goonumbla Solar Farm in Parkes

Solar farms proposed by the NSW Government in 2017:

Sunraysia Solar Farm (Balranald Council)
Gilgandra Solar Farm (Gilgandra Council)
Narrabri Solar Farm (Narrabri Council)
Metz Solar Farm (Armidale Dumaresq Council)
Hillston Solar Farm (Carrathool Council)
Limondale Solar Farm (Balranald Council)
Nevertire Solar Farm (Warren Council)
Walgett Solar Farm (Walgett Council)
Hay Solar Farm (Hay Council)
Coleambally Solar Farm (Murrumbidgee Council)
Jemalong Solar Farm (Forbes Shire Council)
Beryl Solar Farm (Mid-Western Regional Council)
More information

Public Comment Open: Dolphin Mitigation Strategies For The SPF And SESSF

15 March 2017: AFMA
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is seeking comments on two draft strategies with the objective of minimising interactions between commercial fishing and dolphins.

AFMA is required to minimise interactions with protected species, while the Commonwealth commercial fishing industry is required to take all reasonable steps to avoid interactions with protected species. The SPF and Gillnet Dolphin Mitigation Strategies are aimed at pursuing these objectives.

The new strategies have a broad scope and incorporate all SPF trawl methods and the entire Gillnet Fishery. They also apply a consistent set of principles for managing dolphin interactions that are consistent with bycatch principles approved by the AFMA Commission in pursuit of AFMA’s objectives.

Public comment on both draft strategies will close on 12 April 2017.

Call For Public Comment On Draft Seabird Threat Abatement Plan

15th March 2017
Public comment is now being sought on the draft Threat abatement plan for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations (Threat abatement plan for incidental catch of seabirds). The public consultation period is open until 30 June 2017.

The draft Threat abatement plan for incidental catch of seabirds provides a national strategy to guide the activities of government, industry and research organisations in abating the impact of oceanic longline fishing operations on seabirds in Commonwealth fisheries.

The consultation paper and related documents are available on theDepartment of the Environment and Energy website. Your comments on this consultation paper are welcome.

Further information about the existing Threat abatement plan 2014 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations is available at the Threat Abatement Plan – seabirds page

A black-browed albatross with chick, on Macquarie Island. (Photo: Kim Kliska)

Thirsty Mangroves Cause Unprecedented Dieback

March 14, 2017: James Cook University
A James Cook University scientist has discovered why there was an unprecedented dieback of mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria in early 2016 -- the plants died of thirst.

Dr Norman Duke, leader of JCU's Mangrove Research hub, headed an investigation into the massive mangrove dieback. The findings were published in the Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research.

The scientists used aerial observations and satellite mapping data of the area dating back to 1972, combined with weather and climate records.

Dr Duke said they found three factors came together to produce the unprecedented dieback of 7400 hectares of mangroves, which stretched for 1000 kilometres along the Gulf coast.

"From 2011 the coastline had experienced below-average rainfalls, and the 2015/16 drought was particularly severe. Secondly the temperatures in the area were at record levels and thirdly some mangroves were left high and dry as the sea level dropped about 20cm during a particularly strong El Nino."

Dr Duke says this was enough to produce what scientists regard as the largest recorded incident of its kind, and the worst instance of likely climate-related dieback of mangroves ever reported.

"Essentially, they died of thirst," he said.

Dr Duke said scientists now know that mangroves, like coral reefs, are vulnerable to changes in climate and extreme weather events.

He said the mangroves of Australia's Gulf region have experienced relatively little anthropogenic impact and are considered the least altered mangrove ecosystems in the world.

"So the relative dominance of climate influences in this region is of critical interest to world observers of environmental responses to climate change."

Dr Duke said the area is sparsely populated, with passing fisherman and scientists conducting unrelated work the first to notice the dieback.

"It took 4-5 months to come to the attention of mangrove tidal wetland specialists and managers. Our response to this event further involves training and equipping Indigenous rangers and local community volunteers to build local partnerships for rigorous and repeated shoreline assessments."

"We cannot afford to be caught out like this again!" said Dr Duke. "The Gulf dieback has been a wakeup call for action on shoreline monitoring. We urgently need a national shoreline monitoring program commensurate with our global standing. We have the specialists, we have the resources, and we know there is interest and concern amongst the Australian public."

To progress this further, Australia's top specialists and managers will review the situation at a dedicated workshop during next week's Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network annual conference in Hobart, hosted by the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.

"The aim of Australia's specialist network is to apply intelligent, innovative and considered responses, as fully expected by the public, to improve and disseminate informed understandings of the changes taking place in high value natural resources such as Australia's coastal tidal wetland habitats," Dr Duke said.

Norman C. Duke, John M. Kovacs, Anthony D. Griffiths, Luke Preece, Duncan J. E. Hill, Penny van Oosterzee, Jock Mackenzie, Hailey S. Morning, Damien Burrows. Large-scale dieback of mangroves in Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 2017; DOI:10.1071/MF16322

Boaty McBoatface Submersible Prepares To Dive Into The Abyss On First Antarctic Mission

March 13, 2017

Autosub long range "Boaty McBoatface". Credit: National Oceanography Centre

Boaty McBoatface is joining ocean scientists from the University of Southampton and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on an expedition to study some of the deepest and coldest abyssal ocean waters on earth -- known as Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) -- and how they affect climate change.

The team of researchers, alongside engineers from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), will assess water flow and underwater turbulence in the Orkney Passage, a region of the Southern Ocean around 3,500m deep and roughly 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.

They will use one of the Autosub Long Range class of unmanned submersibles, the latest type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) developed by the NOC, now known as Boaty McBoatface, following last year's campaign by the Natural Environment Research Council to name the UK's new polar research ship. While the ship will be named after famous naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, the popular winner of the contest -- Boaty McBoatface -- lives on in the form of a unmanned submersible that is now embarking on its first Antarctic research mission.

The DynOPO (Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow) expedition will travel to the Southern Ocean aboard the BAS research ship RRS James Clark Ross, departing Punta Arenas in Chile on Friday 17 March. The researchers will use a combination of specialised instruments deployed from a ship, instruments moored to the seafloor, as well as measurements made by Boaty, to measure ocean turbulence.

The submersible will travel back and forth through an abyssal current of Antarctic Bottom Water along the Orkney Passage while measuring the intensity of the turbulence. This current forms off the coast of Antarctica as cold winds off the ice sheet cool the sea surface. The resulting cold, dense water sinks and moves northwards, forming an important part of the global circulation of ocean water. The Orkney Passage is a key chokepoint that AABW has to navigate on its way from Antarctica's Weddell Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Current evidence suggests that changing winds over the Southern Ocean affect the speed of seafloor currents carrying AABW. The speed of these currents determines how turbulent their flow around underwater mountain ranges (submarine topography) is. Faster flow is more turbulent, and in this turbulence more heat is mixed into AABW from shallower, warmer ocean layers -- thus warming the abyssal waters on their way to the Equator, affecting global climate change.

Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato from the University of Southampton, the lead scientist of the research cruise, commented: "We know that a major driver of the abyssal ocean warming, at least in the Atlantic Ocean, is changes in winds over the Southern Ocean.

"The abyssal waters of the World Ocean sink in the Southern Ocean, and flow northward along the seafloor in submarine streams. When these streams encounter submarine topography or key chokepoints, they navigate it by squeezing through valleys and around mountains, occasionally forming submarine waterfalls -- much as a river flowing toward the sea does on the Earth's surface..

"The Orkney Passage is a key chokepoint to the flow of abyssal waters in which we expect the mechanism linking changing winds to abyssal water warming to operate. We will measure how fast the streams flow, how turbulent they are, and how they respond to changes in winds over the Southern Ocean.

"Our goal is to learn enough about these convoluted processes to represent them (for the first time) in the models that scientists use to predict how our climate will evolve over the 21st century and beyond."

BAS oceanographer Dr Povl Abrahamsen, a co-investigator of the study, said, "We have been monitoring the flow of AABW through the Orkney Passage for years. The DynOPO project will provide us with a unique, high-resolution dataset combining moored and moving instruments, which will help us get to the bottom of the complex physical processes occurring in this important region."

Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato added: "One of the most surprising features of the climate change that we are currently experiencing is that the abyssal waters of the world ocean have been warming steadily over the last few decades. Establishing the causes of this warming is important because the warming plays an important role in moderating the ongoing (and likely future) increases in atmospheric temperature and sea level around the globe."

Materials provided by University of Southampton.

NSW Water Resource Plan Consultation 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017: Media Release - NSW Dept. of DPI
Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair said the NSW Government is delivering on a key Basin Plan commitment with the release of eight Water Resource Plan Status and Issues papers to take place on Friday.

“These papers set out issues related to water availability, reliability of access and longterm sustainable use, particularly through times of drought,” Mr Blair said.

“I urge all members of the community, particularly water users, to comment on the relevant Status and Issues paper in their region, and submit any additional issues that should be considered in developing a Water Resource Plan.

“It is an opportunity to look at existing planning mechanisms and water sharing rules, to identify and resolve any shortcomings, and find ways to be more efficient and productive in the NSW Murray Darling Basin.

“The plans need to work for regional communities and economies, so it is important to balance cultural and environmental needs without constraining the productive use of water that underpins the world-class irrigated agriculture sector in NSW.”

Status and Issues papers will be released on Friday for consultation in the Barwon- Darling (surface water), Murray-Lower Darling (surface water), Murrumbidgee (surface water), Namoi (surface water), Border Rivers (groundwater), Gwydir (groundwater), Lachlan (groundwater) and Macquarie-Castlereagh (groundwater).

Stakeholder Advisory Panels have been established for each surface water plan area – a vital aspect for widespread and meaningful stakeholder and community engagement.

Copies of the Status and Issues Papers, together with other supporting information will be available at

The exhibition period will be open from this Friday until Friday 31 March 2017. All written submissions, from brief emails to full technical papers, are welcome. 

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     3rd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Open Space Across Sydney

March 13, 2017: Article by NSW Department of Planning and Environment
By 2036, the population of Sydney is projected to grow by more than two million people and an extra 725,000 homes will be needed to meet this increase.

Sydney is a great place to live and visit with its iconic landmarks and natural environment, and it’s important to ensure that there is open space to enjoy for locals and tourists now and in the future.
More than 90 per cent of Sydney’s residents live within a five to 10 minute walk of green space and the latest Sydney Open Space audit shows the total amount of open space across Greater Sydney has increased by nearly 40,000 hectares (from 550,784 in 2003 to 589,494 in 2014).

What is the Department of Planning and Environment doing?

Land transfers and planning
The Sydney Green Grid is a NSW Government initiative aimed at creating a network of interlinked tree-lined walkways, cycleways and open spaces across the city and create green connections from people’s homes to local centres, to workplaces and to where they spend their leisure time.

The Metropolitan Greenspace Program (MGP) is administered by theGreater Sydney Commission. The MGP supports local councils in Greater Sydney and on the Central Coast to improve open spaces, parks, bushland, natural areas, waterway corridors and tree-lined streetscapes in a network that connects our homes to centres, public transport, jobs and recreation.
Since 1990, over $41 million has been allocated to more than 600 projects. Funds are awarded to councils on a matching dollar-for-dollar basis.

During the 2015/16 financial year, the Department facilitated the transfer of 101 hectares to five councils in Sydney to be used only as open space. 
These councils were Bankstown, Blacktown, Gosford, Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai and Warringah.

Priority Growth Areas
The development of new communities is important in the supply of new homes and employment opportunities. But it also provides opportunities for open space.
The Department has included new or retained hectares of open space in its land releases and precinct plans.
For example…
  • Draft plans for the Kellyville, Bella Vista and Showground Station precincts include 17 hectares of new parks and open space.
  • Draft plans for Bayside West aim to retain the existing five hectares of open space in Arncliffe and three and 3.6 hectares of in Banksia, and proposes an extra hectare in Arncliffe.
  • Draft plans for Ingleside include nearly 16 hectares of open space, including playing fields, local walking and cycling paths, and local parks.
  • Sydney Olympic Park is already surrounded by 430 hectares of expansive parklands. The draft Master Plan includes nearly two hectares more open space and neighbourhood parks for people to enjoy, equivalent to nearly three football fields.

Ingleside sporting overview - artists impression

Land rezoning
The Wentworth Park rezoning included 3.9 hectares of open space and a $5 million NSW Government investment to build the new Peninsula Park at Wentworth Point, opening up the harbour foreshore to the community for the first time ever.

Amendments to planning policy for Penrith Lakes has secured waterway zone 80 hectares of waterways, 110 hectares of parklands and 118 hectares of environmental protection land.
Biodiversity Certification

The North West and South West Growth Centres biodiversity certification is achieving strong conservation outcomes. This has resulted in maintaining the protection of the 2,000 hectares of existing native vegetation within the growth centres while protecting 511 hectares of high environmental value lands outside over 12 sites.
Infrastructure projects

A number of development conditions are placed on projects, ensuring that impacts are avoided, minimised or offset.
For example, in relation to WestConnex, and in consideration of issues raised by the community, a series of conditions have been set to provide new open public space; new cycling and pedestrian infrastructure; and strict environmental protections including:
  • provision of a new land bridge to connect Sydney Park and open space at St Peters interchange 
  • a green link incorporating new and upgraded cycling and pedestrian pathways connecting open spaces of Sydney Park, Simpson Park, Camdenville Park and St Peters interchange
  • strict air quality limits for the tunnel and ventilation facilities
  • establishing an Air Quality Community Consultative Committee with members of the community and local councils to help decide locations of monitoring stations
  • protections for Green and Golden Bell Frogs
  • a biodiversity offset strategy for the Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark Forest.

Draft Threat Abatement Plan For The Impacts Of Marine Debris On Vertebrate Marine Species (2017)

Marine debris, particularly plastic, is harmful to marine wildlife, with impacts caused through entanglement, ingestion and contamination. This complex problem is increasing globally.

Marine debris impacts have been documented for seabirds, marine turtles, cetaceans, sharks and other Australian marine wildlife, including many species listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The draft Threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine species provides a national strategy to abate the threat posed by marine debris and guide investment and effort by the Australian Government, jurisdictions, research organisations and non-government organisations in addressing the impacts of marine debris on native species.

Public consultation
The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy has released the draft Threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine species (2017) for public comment. The public comment period closes on 13 April 2017.

The consultation paper and related documents are available on the Department of the Environment and Energy website

Whanganui River Settlement Passes Third Reading

March 15, 2017: New Zealand Government Media Release
The New Zealand House of Representatives has passed Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill through its third reading today.

“Whanganui Iwi has fought for recognition of its relationship with the Whanganui River since the 1870’s,” Mr Finlayson said. “Today brings the longest running litigation in New Zealand’s history to an end.”

The legislation will establish a new legal framework for the Whanganui River, Te Awa Tupua, which recognises the river as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea. Te Awa Tupua will have its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.

“The approach of granting legal personality to a river is unique,” Mr Finlayson said. “It responds to the view of the iwi of the Whanganui River which has long recognised Te Awa Tupua through its traditions, customs and practise.

“This legislation recognises the deep spiritual connection between the Whanganui Iwi and its ancestral river and creates a strong platform for the future of Whanganui River.”

Financial redress of $80 million is included in the settlement as well as an additional $1 million contribution towards establishing the legal framework for the river. The Crown will also contribute $30 million towards a contestable fund to further the health and wellbeing of the Whanganui River.

“This is an innovative settlement. The Crown is committed to working alongside Whanganui Iwi to ensure the success of this settlement for Te Awa,” Mr Finlayson said.

The Whanganui River - given legal person status this week. Image Courtesy Kathrin and Stefan Marks - Flickr -CC by NC 2.0

Agreement In Principle Signed With Ngāti Rangi

March 15, 2017: New Zealand Government Media Release
The Crown has signed an agreement in principle with Ngāti Rangi to settle its historical Treaty of Waitangi claims, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson announced today.

Ngāti Rangi has an area of interest centred around the upper Whangaehu River catchment, on the southern flank of Mount Ruapehu, including the settlements of Ohakune and Waiouru.

“Today marks an important milestone in negotiations with Ngāti Rangi and demonstrates the commitment and hard work of Ngāti Rangi leaders,” Mr Finlayson said. “This agreement provides a strong basis from which to develop a deed of settlement.”

The Agreement in Principle outlines a broad settlement package which includes provisional Crown acknowledgements of Treaty of Waitangi breaches as well as cultural, financial and commercial redress.

The total value of the financial and commercial redress outlined in the agreement is $17 million. Cultural redress focuses on the significant conservation lands, and the management of those lands, within Ngāti Rangi’s area of interest as well as redress aimed at re-establishing relationships with key Crown agencies.

A copy of the Agreement in Principle is available at:

Join The Fight Against Foxes

27 February 2017: Media Release - Greater Sydney Local Land Services
Northern Sydney residents are being urged to join the fight against foxes in the lead up to an autumn baiting program in March.

Run by Greater Sydney Local Land Services in partnership with the Sydney North Vertebrate Pest Committee, National Parks and Wildlife Services and other land management agencies, the annual program coincides with fox cubs leaving the den and adults finding a mate for the winter breeding period.

Greater Sydney Biosecurity Manager Graham Wilson said coordinated, large-scale baiting programs had proven most effective in limiting the impacts of foxes in urban areas.

“Past experience has shown foxes are more likely to take baits in autumn but the support and cooperation of local residents is vital to the program’s success.”

Mr Wilson said there were simple things residents could all do to minimise the impact of foxes.

“Foxes are attracted to food scraps and domestic pets like chickens and rabbits. You can help by ensuring compost bins are properly closed, keeping household rubbish in a secure location, feeding domestic pets inside, ensuring food is not left outside and wherever possible, keeping pets inside overnight.

“Pesticide restrictions mean baiting can’t be undertaken on the average suburban block which is why coordinated programs like this are crucial to limiting the damage foxes can cause to native wildlife, infrastructure, livestock and domestic pets,” he said.

“Keeping yards in check by tidying gardens, weeding to reduce fox harbour and housing backyard chickens in secure, fox-proof enclosures rather than free ranging will also help.”

The Northern Sydney baiting program will be in place until the end of March. It is important for residents to keep their domestic pets away from sign-posted bait sites and walk their dogs on a leash during this time.”

The baiting will take place in The Hills Shire, Northern Beaches, North Sydney, Willoughby, Ku-Ring-Gai, Mosman and Hornsby areas.

For further information contact Greater Sydney Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.

Photo: Fox courtesy James Doumtsis Invasive Animals CRC

Department Seeks Community Views On Narrabri Gas Project Proposal

20.02.2017: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
The Department of Planning and Environment will today place on public exhibition Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project Environmental Impact Statement and is inviting the community to share its views.

Given the high level of public interest in the proposal, the Department has extended the normal exhibition period to more than 60 days. It closes on April 24.

Mike Young, Director of Resource Assessments, said the Department will be consulting broadly on the proposal and is keen to hear from all individuals and groups interested in the proposal.

“We are making every effort to make sure people have an opportunity to hear about the project and give us feedback during this assessment,” Mr Young said.

“There will be a number of opportunities to provide feedback including community information sessions and meetings with local landowners and interest groups.

“We want to hear people’s views - farmers, landholders, locals, Aboriginal groups, industry groups, councils. Everyone is welcome to make a submission and all will be read and considered in our assessment.”

Mr Young said as part of the assessment the Department will be establishing a panel of eminent scientific experts to provide independent advice on the proposal.

“These experts will be an integral part of the assessment process. Much of the information is of a scientific and technical nature and we are keen to get the best independent advice possible in assessing this project,” he said.

“In addition, we will be working with other key NSW Government agencies and seeking advice from the Commonwealth’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee.

“Any issues raised in submissions will be looked at and taken into account.”

Given the high level of public interest in the proposal, the Department has extended the normal exhibition period to more than 60 days. It closes on May 22nd.

Following the exhibition period, the Department will comprehensively assess the submissions and the EIS.

The Narrabri Gas Project proposal involves a coal seam gas field with up to 850 gas wells to be developed progressively over 20 years, and a gas processing and water treatment facilities.

Santos’ Environmental Impact Statement is available on the Department’s website, and at all major centres in the region including Narrabri, Wee Waa, Gunnedah, Coonabarabran and Coonamble

Related information: 
  • Environmental Impact Statement for the Narrabri Gas Project
  • NSW Chief Scientist 2014 Coal Seam Gas Review
  • NSW Gas Plan
Narrabri Gasfield

Exhibition Start 21/02/2017
Exhibition End  22/05/2017

Av. Green Team Back At Work

Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon in Sydney. Trying to keep our area green and clean!

Keep up to date with and join in their next cleansvia their facebook page

If Victoria Can Ban CSG, NSW Can Too!

By The Wilderness Society
Coal seam gas (CSG) threatens our water, our health and our climate. Many jurisdictions around the world are permanently banning this dangerous industry, most recently Victoria. We do not need or want risky coal seam gas in NSW. 
It’s clear that the industry has no social licence in our state, yet vast and critical areas—as well as human health—are still under threat from CSG across the state.

Call on the new Premier Berejiklian and the new Planning Minister Roberts to follow Victoria's lead and ban this harmful and risky industry in NSW. 

Myna Action Group 

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
Indian Mynas - what a pest - like flying rats. 
Contact us on for more information and have a look at

Indian Mynas are displacing our native birds. 
They often nest in and around shops where their food source is. I took this one down this morning in Avalon (no chicks or eggs but I disturbed the female). There were literally hundreds of tiny bits of plastic in the nest which makes you think that all this plastic would be swilling down the stormwater drains into the sea.

Federal Senate Inquiry: The Rehabilitation Of Mining And Resources Projects As It Relates To Commonwealth Responsibilities

On 8 February 2017, the Senate referred the following matters to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry andreport by 23 August 2017:

The rehabilitation of mining and resources projects as it relates to Commonwealth responsibilities, for example under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), with regard to:
  • the cost of outstanding rehabilitation obligations of currently operating projects;
  • the adequacy of existing regulatory, policy and institutional arrangements to ensure adequate and timely rehabilitation;
  • the adequacy and transparency of financial mechanisms, including assurances, bonds and funds, to ensure that mining and resources projects are rehabilitated without placing a burden on public finances;
  • the effectiveness of current Australian rehabilitation practices in safeguarding human health and repairing and avoiding environmental damage;
  • the effectiveness of existing abandoned mines programs, with regard to repairing environmental damage and safeguarding human health;
  • whether any mining or resources companies have engaged in conduct designed to avoid fulfilling their rehabilitation obligations;
  • the potential social, economic and environmental impacts, including on matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act, of inadequate rehabilitation;
  • the potential social, economic and environmental benefits of adequate rehabilitation, including job opportunities in communities affected by job losses in the mining and resources sectors;
  • international examples of effective rehabilitation policy and practice;
  • proposals for reform of rehabilitation of mining and resources projects; and any other related matters.
The closing date for submissions is 10 April 2017.

Draft NSW Marine Estate Threat And Risk Assessment Report Released

January 2017: Media Release - NSW DPI
The Marine Estate Management Authority has released the draft statewide Threat and Risk Assessment (TARA) Report for the NSW marine estate.
Authority Chair Dr Wendy Craik said the draft report summarises the first statewide evidence-based assessment of the threats to the social and economic benefits of the marine estate and the environmental assets that support them.

“The draft TARA report has been developed based on the best available scientific evidence and advice from experts, stakeholders and the community,” she said.

Dr Craik said the NSW community had helped identify the social and economic benefits our estuaries and coastline provide, and the importance of the environmental assets that underpin them, during a statewide survey in 2014.

“These benefits include recreational pursuits such as swimming or surfing at the beach, boating, fishing, and commercial and tourism opportunities such as shipping, commercial and charter fishing, SCUBA diving and others,” she said.

“Community members and stakeholders now have an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft report, which highlights potential threats to these benefits and the marine estate’s environmental assets.”

Dr Craik said short videos and an interactive tool are being provided to facilitate community feedback and discussion by presenting the report results in a user-friendly way.

“We are committed to managing our marine estate for the benefit of the community, and this report and the process is designed to support and encourage participation,” she said.

The final report will inform the ongoing management of the NSW marine estate through the drafting of a new 10-year Marine Estate Management Strategy.

It will also be considered in the creation of new management plans, starting with the Solitary Islands and Batemans Marine Parks.

The draft TARA report includes revised findings for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion, now called the ‘Central Region’.

The draft report delivers on a key commitment of the NSW Government, to provide evidence-based management of the NSW marine estate, and is a requirement of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014.

More information

The public comment period closes on Friday, 31 March 2017. Key marine estate stakeholders will be invited to participate in a series of workshops to be held along the coast in February and March

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

Sydney Wildlife rescues, rehabilitates and releases sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. From penguins, to possums and parrots, native wildlife of all descriptions passes through the caring hands of Sydney Wildlife rescuers and carers on a daily basis. We provide a genuine 24 hour, 7 day per week emergency advice, rescue and care service.

As well as caring for sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife, Sydney Wildlife is also involved in educating the community about native wildlife and its habitat. We provide educational talks to a wide range of groups and audiences including kindergartens, scouts, guides, a wide range of special interest groups and retirement villages. Talks are tailored to meet the needs and requirements of each group. 


Found an injured native animal? We're here to help.

Keep the animal contained, warm, quiet and undisturbed. Do not offer any food or water.

Call Sydney Wildlife immediately on 9413 4300, or take the animal to your nearest vet. Generally there is no charge. 

Find out more at:

Southern Cross Wildlife Care was launched over 6 years ago. It is the brainchild of Dr Howard Ralph, the founder and chief veterinarian. SCWC was established solely for the purpose of treating injured, sick and orphaned wildlife. No wild creature in need that passes through our doors is ever rejected. 


People can assist SCWC by volunteering their skills ie: veterinary; medical; experienced wildlife carers; fundraising; "IT" skills; media; admin; website etc. We are always having to address the issue of finances as we are a non commercial veterinary service for wildlife in need, who obviously don't have cheque books in their pouches. It is a constant concern and struggle of ours when we are pre-occupied with the care and treatment of the escalating amount of wildlife that we have to deal with. Just becoming a member of SCWC for $45 a year would be a great help. Regular monthly donations however small, would be a wonderful gift and we could plan ahead knowing that we had x amount of funds that we could count on. Our small team of volunteers are all unpaid even our amazing vet Howard, so all funds raised go directly towards our precious wildlife. SCWC is TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

Find out more at:

Corroboree Frog Habitat Trial Is A Hop In The Right Direction

Media release: 17 March 2017- NPWS
More than 300 Southern Corroboree Frogs were released into remote enclosures in Kosciuszko National Park yesterday as part of a massive effort to save this critically endangered species.

Gabriel Wilks from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said the frogs were successfully placed into specially-constructed frog enclosures within the park as part of efforts to return healthy populations of this species back into the wild.

“The newly built enclosures are in very remote locations in the national park where these frogs were once found,” Ms Wilks said.

“The eight specially constructed enclosures are 7 meters in diameter and essentially look like a bottomless swimming pool with native vegetation, logs and small ponds placed inside.

“Designing the enclosures to ensure the frogs and their mini-ecosystems remain healthy and survive the extreme weather conditions has been a challenge.

“Similar enclosures have been installed throughout Kosciusko National Park as part of a long term recovery plan to save this iconic species, but we’ve never before attempted to place them in such a remote area.

“The specialist skills and local knowledge of the NPWS Landforms and Rehabilitation Team was vital to work out how habitat and irrigation requirements could actually be achieved in the field.

NPWS Field officer Joel Fordham is part of the crew that constructed the enclosures and described these new frog homes as ‘move-in-ready’ for the tiny black and yellow striped frog.

“The enclosures are like frog resorts - ponds will have water in summer for breeding, the right vegetation for habitat shelter, plenty of ants for food and timber slabs for winter retreats,” Mr Fordham said.

The construction of these enclosures was funded by the Australian Government through the Threatened Species Strategy and is part of a long term recovery plan to save this iconic species.

The frogs that were released yesterday were bred in captivity by the Taronga Zoo and Zoo Victoria. 

Earlier trials with frog enclosures have already shown promising results with breeding observed at other locations.

For more information on efforts to save the iconic Southern Corroboree Frog in NSW, visit the Saving our Species.

Top: One of the specially constructed enclosures, Above: Corroboree frogs are 2.5-3cms in length!. Photos courtesy NPWS and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

At Taronga:

Taronga is heavily involved in breeding and release of Corroboree frogs into the wild in a National Recovery Program to help save this species. The program involves breeding both species of frogs in at our breeding units that contain computerised temperature and water filtration systems. They are set up with dual thermostats and alarms to ensure the temperature stays within the optimal range. One of these breeding units can be seen next to Reptile World at Taronga Zoo, Sydney.

Corroboree Frogs are Australia’s most iconic amphibian species and amongst the most visually spectacular frogs in the world. These tiny frogs can be readily distinguished by their bold yellow and black strips n the body and their marbled black, white and yellow belly. All known populations of the Southern Corroboree Frog inhabit Kosciuszko National Park, which is one of the best known and best loved National Parks in Australia, attracting around 3 million visitors each year. Living in marshlands and sclerophyll forests under logs and vegetation means that catching a glimpse of these stunning creatures is a rare and exciting occurrence.  

Life as a Corroboree Frog

These frogs feed mainly on small invertebrates such as ants, beetles, insect larvae and mites. Tadpoles feed on algae and small bits of organic material.

The Southern Corroboree Frog is found only within Kosciuszko National Park  in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. This species is found at heights of between 1,300 and 1,760 metres above sea level. Habitat critical to the survival of Corroboree Frogs includes both breeding habitat and the surrounding woodland. Corroboree frogs use pools and sphagnum bogs, wet tussock grasslands, fens and wet heath for breeding. Some water bodies dry up outside of breeding season so frogs will shelter in dense litter and under logs and rocks. Northern Corroboree Frogs are known to move over 300 metres into surrounding woodland after breeding.

Corroboree Frogs have a typical amphibian life-cycle with an aquatic tadpole stage and terrestrial frog stage. Adult males move into breeding areas in early to late summer, and call from small chambers (nests) in moss or other soft vegetation and soil at the edges of the breeding pools. The pools are often dry during the breeding season when the eggs are laid. If a female is attracted to a male, she will lay her eggs in his nest. Within the nest, the eggs develop to an advanced stage, before development stops and they enter ‘diapause’, where the embryos remain without developing further, until flooding of the nest following autumn or winter rains stimulates them to hatch.

After hatching, the tadpoles move out of the nest site and into the adjacent pool where they live for the remainder of the larval period as a free swimming and feeding tadpole. Corroboree Frog tadpoles are dark in colour, have a relatively long paddle shaped tail, and grow to 30 mm in total length. The tadpoles continue growing slowly, particularly over winter when the pool may be covered with snow and ice, until metamorphosis in early summer.

The Corroboree Frog is unusual in that this frog walks in a manner far more like a lizard than a frog and cannot hop. These frogs have no known predators due to its toxic skin secretions. Not only does it obtain pumiliotoxins from its diet, it also produces its own poisonous alkaloids, pseudophrynamines. The Corroboree Frog is a secretive creature and is often very hard to see in the wild. Adults become dormant during  winter however the tadpoles remain active as the ice forms a layer of insulation that stops the bog freezing solid and they are able to survive with an extremely low body temperature, only a couple of degrees above freezing. 

Information courtesy the Taronga Zoo Corroboree Frogs webpage - more on that page!

Above: Corroboree frogs are 2.5-3cms in length!. Photo courtesy NPWS and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Hydrogen On Demand

March 13, 2017
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new approach to the production of hydrogen from water using solar energy. In findings published in Nature Materials, the researchers explain that this approach will make it possible to produce hydrogen in a centralized manner at the point of sale (for example, at a gas station for electric cars fueled by hydrogen) located far from the solar farm. The new technology is expected to significantly reduce the cost of producing the hydrogen and shipping it to the customer.

(from left) Professor Gideon Grader, Ms. Avigail Landman, Prof. Avner Rothschild
The study was led by Avigail Landman, a doctoral student in the Nancy & Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP), and Dr. Hen Dotan from the Electrochemical Materials & Devices Lab. Ms. Landman is working on her doctorate under the guidance of Prof. Avner Rothschild from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, and Prof. Gideon Grader, Dean of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering.

Hydrogen is considered one of the most promising energy carriers for vehicles and various other uses because of its salient advantages:

1. Hydrogen can be produced from water, and therefore production does not depend on access to non-renewable natural resources.

2. Using hydrogen fuel would reduce the dependence on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, whose availability depends on geographical, political and other factors, and would increase the energy available to Earth's population.

3. Unlike diesel and gasoline engines that emit considerable pollution into the air, the only byproduct of hydrogen fuel utilization is water.

Because of the advantages of hydrogen fuel, many countries -- led by Japan, Germany and the United States -- are investing vast sums of money in programs for the development of environmentally friendly ("green") technologies for the production of hydrogen. Most hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas in a process that emits carbon dioxide into the air, but it is also possible to produce hydrogen from water by splitting the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen in a process called electrolysis. However, since electricity production itself is an expensive and polluting process, researchers at the Technion and around the world are developing a photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell that utilizes solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen directly, without the need for external power source.

The main challenges in the development of PEC solar farms for the production of hydrogen are 1.) keeping the hydrogen and the oxygen separate from each other, 2.) collecting the hydrogen from millions of PEC cells, and 3.) transporting the hydrogen to the point of sale. The Technion team solved these challenges by developing a new method for PEC water splitting. With this method, the hydrogen and oxygen are formed in two separate cells -- one that produces hydrogen, and another that produces oxygen. This is in contrast to the conventional method, in which the hydrogen and oxygen are produced within the same cell, and separated by a thin membrane that prevents them from intermixing and forming a flammable and explosive mixture.

The new process allows geographic separation between the solar farm consisting of millions of PEC cells that produce oxygen exclusively, and the site where the hydrogen is produced in a centralized, cost-effective and efficient manner. They accomplished this with a pair of auxiliary electrodes made of nickel hydroxide, an inexpensive material used in rechargeable batteries, and a metal wire connecting them.

"In the present article, we describe a new method for producing hydrogen through the physical separation of hydrogen production and oxygen production," says Ms. Landman. "According to our cost estimate, our method could successfully compete with existing water splitting methods and serve as a cheap and safe platform for the production of hydrogen."

But that's not all. As stated, the vision of the Technion researchers is geographic separation between the sites where the oxygen and hydrogen are produced: at one site, there will be a solar farm that will collect the sun's energy and produce oxygen, while hydrogen is produced in a centralized manner at another site, miles away. Thus, instead of transporting compressed hydrogen from the production site to the sales point, it will only be necessary to swap the auxiliary electrodes between the two sites. Economic calculations performed in collaboration with research fellows from Evonik Creavis GmbH and the Institute of Solar Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), indicate the potential for significant savings in the setup and operating costs of hydrogen production.

In October, Ms. Landman won first place in the energy category in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition held in Australia. At the competition, held on the initiative of the University of Queensland, participants are required to present groundbreaking research in just three minutes. To watch Ms. Landman's presentation, click here.

The method developed at the Technion for separating hydrogen production and oxygen production was the basis for the development of new two-stage electrolysis technology. This technology, which was developed by Dr. Hen Dotan, enables hydrogen production at high pressure and with unprecedented efficiency, thus significantly reducing hydrogen production costs. The new technology is now in its pre-industrial development stage.

Avigail Landman, Hen Dotan, Gennady E. Shter, Michael Wullenkord, Anis Houaijia, Artjom Maljusch, Gideon S. Grader, Avner Rothschild. Photoelectrochemical water splitting in separate oxygen and hydrogen cells. Nature Materials, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nmat4876

Securing Australia's Energy Future With Snowy Mountains 2.0

16th of March, 2017
The Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull
The Turnbull Government will start work on an electricity game-changer: the plan for the Snowy Mountains Scheme 2.0.

This plan will increase the generation of the Snowy Hydro scheme by 50%, adding 2000 megawatts of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market - enough to power 500,000 homes.

In one hour it could produce 20 times the 100Mwh expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian Government, but would deliver it constantly for almost a week (or 350,000 Mwh over seven days).  

The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages. It will enable greater energy efficiency and help stabilise electricity supply into the future.

This will ultimately mean cheaper power prices and more money in the pockets of Australians.

For too long policymakers have put ideology and politics ahead of engineering and economics. Successive governments at all levels have failed to put in place the necessary storage to ensure reliable power supply to homes and businesses.

We are making energy storage infrastructure a critical priority to ensure better integration of wind and solar into the energy market and more efficient use of conventional power.

By supercharging the Snowy Hydro precinct, we can ensure affordable and reliable electricity for Australian households and businesses.

The Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will examine several sites, which could support large scale pumped hydroelectric energy storage in the precinct.  These sites would involve new tunnels and power stations, connecting existing storages.

Snowy Hydro was originally built with the capability to be expanded and the Turnbull Government intends on maximizing that capacity.

Every Australian should be confident that they can turn the lights on when they need them.

That is why an “all of the above” approach - including hydro, solar, coal and gas - is critical to future energy supplies.

We will always put sensible, considered energy decisions ahead of reckless targets that cannot guarantee power supply to Australians.

Snowy Hydro already provides back up energy to New South Wales and Victoria and could extend to South Australia when expanded.

This exciting plan would lead to job creation and economic security for thousands in the construction and engineering sectors.

It will have no impact on the scheme’s ability to supply water to irrigators in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.

A feasibility study is expected to be completed before the end of the year, and construction can commence soon after.

Older Women Taking Statins Face Higher Risk Of Diabetes

March 15, 2017: University of Queensland
Older Australian women taking cholesterol-lowering statins face a significantly increased risk of developing diabetes, according to a University of Queensland study.

UQ School of Public Health researcher Dr Mark Jones said women over 75 faced a 33 per cent higher chance of developing diabetes if they were taking statins.

The risk increased to over 50 per cent for women taking higher doses of statins.

"We found that almost 50 per cent of women in their late seventies and eighties in the study took statins, and five per cent were diagnosed with new-onset diabetes," Dr Jones said.

"Statins are highly prescribed in this age group but there are very few clinical trials looking at their effects on older women.

"The vast majority of research is on 40- to 70-year-old men."

Statins, a class of drugs that lower cholesterol in the blood, are prescribed to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.

"What's most concerning was that we found a 'dose effect' where the risk of diabetes increased as the dosage of statins increased.

"Over the 10 years of the study most of the women progressed to higher doses of statins," Dr Jones said.

"GPs and their elderly female patients should be aware of the risks.

"Those elderly women taking statins should be carefully and regularly monitored for increased blood glucose to ensure early detection and management of diabetes."

The research was based on prescription and survey data from 8372 women born between 1921 and 1926 who are regularly surveyed as part of the Women's Health Australia study (also known as the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health)

Mark Jones, Susan Tett, Geeske M. E. E. Peeters, Gita D. Mishra, Annette Dobson. New-Onset Diabetes After Statin Exposure in Elderly Women: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.Drugs & Aging, 2017; 34 (3): 203 DOI: 10.1007/s40266-017-0435-0

Veterans To Benefit From Improved Mental Health Support

14 March 2017: media Release - The Hon Dan Tehan MP 
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security 
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan was encouraged by progress on how to further improve mental health support for veterans and their families at the National Advisory Committee for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) meeting held in Canberra.

“We owe it to the veterans community and their families to continually build on current mental health support services, and to provide them with a range of options to help improve their quality of life,” Mr Tehan said.

“We can only do this by engaging and working with both the ex-service community and health professionals.”

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) brings together mental health professionals, GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists with former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and family representatives.

Mr Tehan said the NAC highlighted the importance of early access to mental health treatment for veterans and their families and how much they valued the changes made in the most recent Federal Budget.

“Last year, the Government made treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and alcohol and substance misuse free for anyone who has served one day in the ADF without having to prove their condition is related to their service,” Mr Tehan said.

“This treatment is demand driven and fully funded, so if someone needs treatment, it is available — it is not limited by budget. To access treatment is as simple as contacting VVCS on 1800 011 046 or at

“This initiative also provides access to VVCS, which can link veterans and their families to mental health professionals with expertise in military mental health and dealing with the impact of trauma.”

Mr Tehan also attended an event to acknowledge the 35th year of VVCS services, which was attended by a cross-section of representatives from the ex-service community.

“VVCS is the legacy of our Vietnam veterans, who recognised a need for mental health services specifically for those who had served in the ADF,” Mr Tehan said.

“Since 1982, VVCS has provided more than 1.6 million counselling sessions to more than 300,000 veterans and family members.

“VVCS today is a specialised 24/7 service that supports all generations of veterans and their families, which includes 26 counselling centres, an afterhours support line and a network of more than 1,100 outreach clinicians.

“Importantly, this service is able to deliver quality mental health counselling to veterans and families wherever they are in Australia, whenever they need support.

“VVCS has made, and continues to make, a difference to the lives of so many in the veteran community.”

More information on the NAC can be found on the VVCS website

Grants Support The Innovative Ideas Of Small And Medium Businesses

14 March 2017: Media Release - Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

I’m delighted that 20 small and medium businesses will share in more than $1.8 million in initial funding to develop innovative solutions to solve public sector challenges under the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII).

The fact that we received 180 applications for feasibility study grants for the first round of the BRII demonstrates the innovative ecosystem of Australia’s SMEs is well placed  to develop bright ideas to drive the country’s economy and create jobs and growth in Australia.

The BRII provides opportunities for SMEs to develop innovative products and services with genuine commercial potential. The initiative allows government agencies to work with SMEs to develop innovative solutions and then have the option to purchase those solutions. This gives the SMEs a commercial income and the ability to grow with a global mindset.

The BRII is a National Innovation and Science Agenda initiative and shows government as an exemplar for opening up purchasing opportunities with SMEs.

This round of BRII is aimed at encouraging SMEs to create new products and services that meet five challenges identified by the government –biosecurity, child protection, water markets, information product tracking and policy design.

SMEs with the most promising ideas and products arising from these 20 initial grants may be eligible for a further grant of up to $1 million each. This would be to develop a prototype or proof of concept of their solution with government having the option of being the first customer.

BRII is based on overseas programs which have resulted in global success stories like security firm Symantec and telecommunications equipment and semiconductor maker Qualcomm.

Round Three Of The Bridges Renewal Programme Now Open

16 March 2017: Media Release - The Hon. Darren Chester, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
The Coalition is getting on with the job of building better bridges throughout the nation, with funding now up for grabs under the third round of a specialised funding program which keeps communities connected and regional industries profitable.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said Round Three of the $360 million Bridges Renewal Programme would accept submissions from state, territory and local governments from tomorrow (Friday 17 March 2017).

“From coast to coast, communities are getting the bridges they deserve with the help of this programme. It has been a resounding success since it started in 2014–15, with $211 million invested in 204 projects across the nation under the first two rounds,” Mr Chester said.

“By working together with governments at all levels—particularly local Councils which often need a hand to get big-ticket projects underway—we are upgrading and repairing bridges in all corners of the country.

“Better bridges enhance safety and access for local communities, and keep local businesses and the road freight sector powering on—delivering dollars into the pockets of local businesses and supporting local jobs.

“Successful applicants can receive up to 50 per cent of the cost associated with fixing their ageing bridges, with submissions going through a competitive merit-based selection process.

“State, territory and local governments are eligible to apply for up to $5 million in Australian Government funding per project.”

Mr Chester said proponents should discuss priorities with their local communities, industry stakeholders, Regional Development Australia committees and relevant government road agencies early in the process of compiling their proposals.

Round Three is open for applications until 15 May 2017. Guidelines and proposal forms are now available on the Bridges Renewal Programme website at:

Gina Field Named 2017 NSW Business Woman Of The Year

14 March 2017
Minister for Women Tanya Davies today named Gina Field the 2017 NSW Business Woman of the Year as part of the NSW Women of the Year Awards at the International Convention Centre Sydney.

“Gina is an exceptional business woman who built a respected and award-winning security business from scratch. She gives back to the Penrith and Nepean community through sponsorship of community events and encouraging girls to venture into male dominated employment fields,” Mrs Davies said.

“This is the first year we’ve recognised an outstanding business woman as part of the NSW Women of the Year Awards, and I’m pleased to see there are so many women contributing in different ways to the NSW economy.

“On International Women’s Day 2017, the Women of the Year Awards recognises the many women leading the way in cultural and economic progress in NSW,” Mrs Davies said.

Gina is also the President of the Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce, where she is considered a ‘pocket rocket’ in the business community and is a champion for women chasing their dreams.

The NSW Business Woman of the Year Award, one of six award categories in this year’s NSW Women of the Year Awards, recognises excellence in business.

The Awards support the NSW Government’s commitment to building an equitable, inclusive and safe society where all women are valued and respected, can contribute meaningfully, and can enjoy the rights, freedoms and protections to which everyone in NSW is entitled.

The Awards are sponsored by First State Super. To discover Gina’s story and the other finalists, visit​​

Child Protection Crisis Worsening

16 March 2017: Media Release - Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report released today,Child protection Australia 2015-16, shows the number of children in the out-of-home care system in Australia has increased to 46,448 in 2015-16 up from 43,399 the year before.

“Now we have over 30,000 children that have been in out-of-home care for more than 2 years and almost 19,000 for more than 5 years,” said Senator Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs.

“In the last year we only saw 196 children adopted in Australia, which is not even 1% of the children who have been in care for more than 2 years.

“Obviously reunification with their family is the first priority for children, but when this is not a viable option most children are left in the out-of-home care system and are moved from family to family with no stability. This makes them far less likely to have good education outcomes and more likely to end up as part of the youth justice system.

“These are our most vulnerable children and we need to do more to get this right,” said Senator Seselja.

At the meeting with State and Territory Community Services Ministers in November, Ministers agreed “the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments would work collaboratively to develop a set of guiding principles to drive improvement in the achievement of permanency outcomes for children in out-of-home care”.

“While this is a good step in the right direction, we need to remember this is urgent and we need to do everything we can as soon as we can.

“The New South Wales Government have made huge improvements by having legislating timeframes for decision making and utilising a taskforce to break down the barriers to the adoption process. I would encourage all states and territories to follow their lead on this and do everything in their power to give these children stable homes,” Senator Seselja concluded.

Changes Recommended For Campbells Stores In The Rocks

March 15, 2017: Department of Planning and Environment
A landscaped outdoor terrace has replaced the proposed three-storey building in an amended application to restore the iconic Campbell’s Stores site in The Rocks following community feedback.
Tallalowdah’s application to restore the historic storehouses that were originally constructed in the 1800s was assessed by the Department of Planning and Environment and referred to the independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) for final decision.

Anthea Sargeant, Executive Director, Key Sites and Industry Assessments, said the original proposal raised many concerns during the public exhibition period in late 2015 and last year.
“After receiving more than 100 submissions objecting to the proposed building, we sought independent expert heritage and design advice,” Ms Sargeant said.
“It was found that this building was not compatible with the heritage and surrounding buildings at the site and shouldn’t be included.”

Located within The Rocks historic precinct, the restoration of Campbell’s Stores would revitalise a significant heritage site in an iconic tourist area on Sydney’s harbour foreshore.
“Works to the site include internal and external changes, including removing temporary structures like the existing awnings, as well as landscaping and creating more public space. These works would make it easier to move in and around the site and would allow the public to be able to use and appreciate this historical icon,” she said.

Development works would also generate around $30 million during construction and create more than 350 jobs, including 200 construction jobs and 165 jobs once operational.
“If the PAC approves this application, it would enable this site to be used in future for restaurants, bars and cafes. However, development applications would still need to be lodged with the council for the new venues to actually open.”
The PAC will now determine the proposal.

Recognising Australia's East Coast Gas Crisis

14 March 2017
Mr Rod Sims, Chairman
5th Annual Australian Domestic Gas Outlook 2017
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said events following the ACCC’s April 2016 Inquiry into the east coast gas market have confirmed the Commission’s worst fears.

Speaking in Sydney today at the 5th Annual Australia Domestic Gas Outlook Conference 2017, Mr Sims said, “One year ago at this conference I warned of “…an urgent need for both new and importantly more diverse sources of gas supply into the domestic market.”

“The outlook for gas supply is now even worse than it was a year ago; indeed, our worst fears are being realised,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims noted the word “crisis” can be overused but that the scarcity of available gas on the east coast has seen prices increase 1 ½ - 4 times above historic levels. These price increases have seen a significant reduction in gas used for electricity generation and are expected to flow through to significantly higher prices for residential customers.

“The most important problem, however, perhaps the real crisis, is the difficulties faced by industrial companies who rely on gas as a feedstock or as an energy source,” Mr Sims said.

“Some are experiencing difficulties gaining supply; all are, or seem likely to, face huge price hikes that will perhaps permanently damage their businesses.”

Mr Sims pointed out that Australia has a surprising number of industrial companies for whom gas makes up 15-40% of their costs; for many other companies, gas as an energy source is around 5% of their costs.

“At best, it makes it hard for these companies to invest and plan with such high and uncertain gas prices and with considerable supply uncertainty. At worst, plants will close and jobs will be lost purely as a result of the current gas crisis,” Mr Sims said.

“Australia often makes it hard to be involved in manufacturing. We are now making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for some”, Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims referred to the April 2016 Inquiry’s description of a “triple whammy” affecting east coast gas supply. First, the introduction of LNG exports tripled the demand for gas; second, oil prices fell faster than the optimistic forecasts underpinning these projects; third, regulatory uncertainty and exploration moratoria have significantly limited, or delayed, gas supply.

“Arising out of this triple whammy we now have a strange debate about the three Queensland LNG projects,” Mr Sims said.

“As our ACCC Inquiry pointed out Australia has enormous gas resources; gas availability is clearly not the issue. The Inquiry also pointed out that Australia has and will benefit enormously from the three large LNG projects in Queensland,” Mr Sims said.

“These three projects also saw gas resources developed that otherwise would not have been.”

“If there is a criticism of the three LNG producers it is that they fell into the usual commodity project trap of assuming then-high $100 plus oil prices would continue, when long run average prices of around $55 would have been a better planning assumption.”

“The three LNG producers, however, could not have foreseen that after their investment decisions were made east coast onshore gas exploration and development would be largely prevented,” Mr Sims said.

“I doubt anyone in the industry expected Victoria to ban all onshore gas exploration and production which has stopped even conventional gas projects; nor could they have foreseen the delays and uncertainty over projects in NSW and the NT.”

“It is of course up to Governments to make such decisions. Having made them, however, it is difficult to see how people can then criticise the commercial contracts that were freely entered into by the LNG producers at a time when the likely supply outlook was very different,” Mr Sims said.

“That said, if I was providing private advice to the LNG producers, I would say they would be well advised to support the domestic market as much as they can at this critical time,” Mr Sims said.

“They could, for example, weigh carefully their willingness to sell gas on the LNG spot markets above meeting their contractual commitments. Alternatively, they could develop additional gas for the domestic market.”

Mr Sims went on to discuss some recent supply developments and progress with some of the other recommendations from the Inquiry’s 2016 report.

Mr Sims' speech is available at Recognising Australia's east coast gas crisis

Menin Gate Lions To Go On Display In Ieper, Belgium

Tuesday 14 Mar 2017 by Australian War Memorial

The iconic Menin Gate lions, past which thousands of Australian and other allied forces marched on their way to the Belgian battlefields of the Western Front, will return to their original home in the city of Ieper (Ypres), Belgium, as part of commemorations of the First World War.

From 1822 the stone sculptures bearing the Ypres coat-of-arms stood at the entrance to the Cloth Hall, the town’s civic and commercial centre, before being moved to either side of the street leading to the Menin Gate in the mid-nineteenth century. They remained there during the First World War even as Ypres was reduced to ruins by German artillery fire.

The lions, broken and scarred, were later recovered from the war rubble, and in 1936 the Burgomaster of Ypres presented them to the Australian government as a token of friendship and an acknowledgement of Australia’s sacrifice in the region during the war. Since 1991 they have been displayed inside the front entrance of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

This joint initiative between the Belgian, Flemish and Australian governments will see the lions temporarily returned to the Menin Gate, coinciding with the centenary anniversaries of one of the most notorious and costly campaigns of the First World War, the Third Battle of Ypres. This campaign included the battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, and Passchendaele. The names of 6,191 Australians are among the 54,000 British and Dominion soldiers listed on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, commemorating those who died in the fighting in Flanders and have no known grave.

Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, said that the powerful bond between Australia and Belgium, forged in the service and sacrifice of those who walked through the Menin Gate on the way to the front, is honoured with this joint initiative.

"We will be forever linked with the City of Ieper and the people of Belgium. In recognition of these deep bonds forged in bloody sacrifice the Australian War Memorial will deliver the Menin Gate lions, with the assistance of the Royal Australian Air Force, back to their original home," Dr Nelson said.

"The lions will arrive in time for Anzac Day and stand sentry once again as Flanders and Australia remember the cataclysm that was the First World War. They will act as a reminder of the price paid by so many in battles in which many thousands of allied soldiers perished."

Dr Nelson also said the Memorial has commissioned a documentary feature on the loan of the Menin Gate lions to Ieper. The film will include the historical context of the lions and how they relate to the story of Australians at war in Belgium in 1917.

While the lions are on display at the Menin Gate in Ieper, there will be a small exhibition at the In Flanders Fields Museum to outline the history of the sculptures from their creation in 1822 to the present day. The lions will return to the Australian War Memorial after Remembrance Day 2017.

Star Discovered Whipping Around A Black Hole Twice An Hour

March 13, 2017

Astronomers have found evidence for a star that whips around a black hole about twice an hour. This may be the tightest orbital dance ever witnessed for a black hole and a companion star. Credit: Courtesy of NASA

Astronomers have found evidence for a star that whips around a black hole about twice an hour. This may be the tightest orbital dance ever witnessed for a black hole and a companion star.

Michigan State University scientists were part of the team that made this discovery, which used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory as well as NASA's NuSTAR and the Australia Telescope Compact Array.

The close-in stellar couple -- known as a binary -- is located in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, a dense cluster of stars in our galaxy about 14,800 light years away from Earth. While astronomers have observed this binary for many years, it wasn't until 2015 that radio observations revealed the pair likely contains a black hole pulling material from a companion star called a white dwarf, a low-mass star that has exhausted most or all of its nuclear fuel.

New Chandra data of this system, known as X9, show that it changes in X-ray brightness in the same manner every 28 minutes, which is likely the length of time it takes the companion star to make one complete orbit around the black hole. Chandra data also shows evidence for large amounts of oxygen in the system a characteristic of white dwarfs. A strong case can, therefore, be made that that the companion star is a white dwarf, which would then be orbiting the black hole at only about 2.5 times the separation between Earth and the moon.

"This white dwarf is so close to the black hole that material is being pulled away from the star and dumped onto a disk of matter around the black hole before falling in," said Arash Bahramian, lead author with the University of Alberta (Canada) and MSU. "Luckily for this star, we don't think it will follow this path into oblivion, but instead will stay in orbit."

Although the white dwarf does not appear to be in danger of falling in or being torn apart by the black hole, its fate is uncertain.

"For a long time astronomers thought that black holes were rare or totally absent in globular star clusters," said Jay Strader, MSU astronomer and co-author of the paper. "This discovery is additional evidence that, rather than being one of the worst places to look for black holes, globular clusters might be one of the best."

How did the black hole get such a close companion? One possibility is that the black hole smashed into a red giant star, and then gas from the outer regions of the star was ejected from the binary. The remaining core of the red giant would form into a white dwarf, which becomes a binary companion to the black hole. The orbit of the binary would then have shrunk as gravitational waves were emitted, until the black hole started pulling material from the white dwarf.

The gravitational waves currently being produced by the binary have a frequency that is too low to be detected with Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, that has recently detected gravitational waves from merging black holes. Sources like X9 could potentially be detected with future gravitational wave observatories in space.

An alternative explanation for the observations is that the white dwarf is partnered with a neutron star, rather than a black hole. In this scenario, the neutron star spins faster as it pulls material from a companion star via a disk, a process that can decrease the rotational period of the neutron star to a few thousandths of a second. A few such objects, called transitional millisecond pulsars, have been observed near the end of this spinning-up phase. The authors do not favor this possibility as transitional millisecond pulsars have properties not seen in X9, such as extreme variability at X-ray and radio wavelengths. However, they cannot disprove this explanation.

Arash Bahramian, Craig O. Heinke, Vlad Tudor, James C. A. Miller-Jones, Slavko Bogdanov, Thomas J. Maccarone, Christian Knigge, Gregory R. Sivakoff, Laura Chomiuk, Jay Strader, Javier A. Garcia, Timothy Kallman.The ultracompact nature of the black hole candidate X-ray binary 47 Tuc X9. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2017; 467 (2): 2199 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx166

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