Inbox and Environment News: Issue 345

January 28 - February 3, 2018: Issue 345

State Environmental Planning Controls(Draft Environment SEPP):Urban Bushland

The Berejiklian government has just announced changes that propose to repeal and replace the following State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) with a single Environment SEPP:

• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 19—Bushland in Urban Areas - [Manly, Warringah, Pittwater; pages 23 to 32]
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 50—Canal Estate Development
• Greater Metropolitan Regional Environmental Plan No. 2—Georges River Catchment
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20—Hawkesbury-Nepean River (No.2-1997) [*Pittwater and Warringah]
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
• Willandra Lakes Regional Environmental Plan No. 1—World Heritage Property.

Aimed at reducing 'red tape' and 'streamlining' NSW's planning system, some changes are commended such as protecting Sydney Harbour's natural assets by prohibiting new canal estates.

However other changes will enable development in sensitive areas that are currently protected.

Designed to marry up with other planning instruments, such as the controversial Biodiversity Act 2016, the changes also give greater effect to Ministerial Directions.

The changes also propose to revise the term ‘bushland zoned or reserved for public open space purposes’ to ‘public bushland’. This includes all land that is zoned non-rural, and owned or managed by a council or a public authority, or reserved for acquisition for open space or environmental conservation by a council or a public authority, and that has vegetation which meets a clear definition of bushland.

From • Draft Environment SEPP (PDF: 6.215 MB):
State Environmental Planning Policy No 19 – Bushland in Urban Areas (SEPP 19)
  • The majority of the provisions of SEPP 19 will be transferred to SEPP (Environment). These provisions will be updated and some will be transferred to a Ministerial Direction.
  • Update council names to reflect recent council amalgamations and boundary changes.
  • Extend its land application to cover local government areas that are currently partly outside the application of SEPP 19 including parts of Hawkesbury and Central Coast local government areas.
  • Transfer plan making provisions in SEPP 19 to a Ministerial Direction.
  • A new circular on Urban Bushland is being finalised for consultation. It has been developed to provide further information and detail regarding the application of SEPP 19. This circular will replace planning Circulars No. B13 and No. 114. 
Creating a new Ministerial Direction – Urban Bushland
SEPP 19 contains provisions for the preparation of local environmental plans in clause 10. The clause ensures that when a council is drafting local environmental plan provisions for any land to which SEPP 19 applies, other than rural land, it considers the general and specific aims of the SEPP, andgives priority to retaining bushland unless significantenvironmental, economic, or social benefits arise which outweigh the value of the bushland. This should be transferred to a
new Ministerial Direction as it is the appropriate mechanism to guide plan making. No current direction adequately covers urban bushland in the same way. Urban bushland exists across many different zones, therefore Ministerial Direction 2.1 – Environmental Protection Zones, is not appropriate to address public urban bushland of the type protected by SEPP 19.

The new Ministerial Direction is intended to function largely the same way as clause 10 of SEPP 19. As currently, the direction will apply when a planning authority is preparing a planning proposal for land to which the Urban Bushland provisions of SEPP (Environment) apply.

Critically the current SEPP (no 19) SEPP 19 extends 'beyond the protection of environmental values of bushland by identifying 'the need to protect the aesthetic and community values as well as the recreational, educational and scientific values of this resource'.

The proposed SEPP also enables the Roads and Maritime Services, to undertake the subdivision of foreshore lands in order ‘to lawfully reclaim Sydney Harbour land’ and redefine the ‘heads of consideration for consent authorities when assessing Development Applications on Foreshore lands.

The changes also include amending the aim of the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan that ensures Sydney is a ‘working harbour’ to enable a range of recreational, transport, tourism and commercial uses. Greater flexibility to 'mooring pens' is also proposed, which are currently prohibited.

Other changes include transferring heritage provisions to the relevant local environmental plan, thereby reducing the protection of heritage assets.

In addition, concerns have been flagged that moving the prohibition of extractive industries in parts of the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment to the SEPP for Mining, Petroleum and Extractive Industries - and moving the Sydney Opera House provisions in the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan to SEPP (State Significant Precincts) effectively reduces the current protections.

The changes are on exhibition for public comment until the 15 January*.

*page 26:
Provisions to be updated and moved to Ministerial Directions
Provisions within the Hawkesbury Nepean Regional Environmental Plan related to local plan making will be updated and are to be moved to a new Ministerial Direction.

The following current provisions contain plan making guidance suited to a Ministerial Direction:
• Clause 3 ‘Aim of This Plan’
• Part 2 ‘General Planning Considerations, Specific Planning Policies and Recommended Strategies’
• Clause 6(3) ‘Water Quality’
• Clause 6(10) (a) ‘Urban Development’ - rezoning or subdivision of land
• Clause 6(11) ‘Recreation and Tourism’.

Other aspects of Clause 6, such as water quality, total catchment management, biodiversity and environmentally sensitive
areas will be transferred to the proposed new SEPP.

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 31 January 2018 (NB changed date for submissions/feedback)
• Or write to:

Director, Planning Frameworks
Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001

World Wetlands Day 2018

Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2018.
Urban wetlands make cities liveable in many important ways. They reduce flooding, replenish drinking water, filter waste, provide urban green spaces, and are a source of livelihoods. These wetland benefits grow ever more crucial as the number of people living in cities has now passed the 4 billion mark and continues to rise.

By 2050, 66% of humanity will live in cities, as people move into urban areas searching for better jobs.

Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the value and importance of urban wetlands. In fast-growing cities, wetlands are often viewed as wasteland; places to dump rubbish, fill in or convert to other uses.

Scientists estimate that at least 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900, while in parallel, cities have exploded in growth.
World Wetlands Day 2018 aims to raise awareness about how urban wetlands contribute to the future of sustainable cities.

Key messages
  • Urban wetlands make cities liveable by providing multiple benefits such as; flood control, water supply, waste treatment, green space and livelihoods.
  • Urban wetlands should be integrated into a city’s sustainable future planning and development; not viewed as wasteland.
  • Cities should adopt policies and actions which help conserve and promote urban wetlands

Retain and restore: practical ways cities can manage and preserve urban wetlands
Urban planners and decision-makers face a practical dilemma: how to meet the increasing demand for land in cities while still preserving the natural environment. Urban wetlands play a vital role in making cities safe, resilient and sustainable; the aims of SDG 11.

Green Team Beach Cleans 2018!

Hosted by The Green Team
The Green Team is back for 2018! 
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

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

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

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

Beach Clean!
Saturday, February 10 at 8 AM - 9 AM
Newport Beach: We will meet in front of the surf club.

Beach Clean!
Saturday, February 17 at 8 AM - 9 AM
Palm Beach - We will meet at Kiddies corner (the south side)

Australia’s Strategy For Nature 2018–2030: Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy And Action Inventory

by Department of Environment and Energy
Draft Revision of Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

On 25 November 2016, Australian, State and Territory Environment Ministers agreed to revise “Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: 2010 – 2030” based on the findings of a review into the first five years of the Strategy’s implementation.  During 2017 a working group of officials from Australian, state and territory governments, and the Australian Local Government Association has worked together to prepare a revised Strategy. 

The Strategy has been revised to improve its ability to drive change in biodiversity management priorities, and its alignment with Australia's international biodiversity commitments.

Called “Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory”, the draft revised Strategy is open for public comment from 15 December 2017 until 16 March 2018. 

Update On Baleen 2D HR Seismic Survey 

(The survey comprises 46 2D lines of total length 208km.) - 
NOPSEMA 'Not reasonably satisfied – opportunity to modify EP'
Decision date: 03/08/2017 
Titleholder action Resubmission due date 3: 02/09/2017
Extension of timeframe: 17/08/2017 Titleholder action: 15/10/2017
Extension of timeframe: 05/10/2017 Titleholder action: 31/10/2017
Resubmission of EP: 31/10/2017 NOPSEMA decision: 30/11/2017
Request for further information: 30/11/2017 Titleholder action: 21/12/2017
Acceptance of EP: 10/01/2018 Titleholder action: 20/01/2018Decision notification (PDF 707 KB)
Submission of EP summary 19/01/2018 NOPSEMA decision 29/01/2018

From Decision notification:
Basis of decision 
NOPSEMA has assessed the environment plan in accordance with its assessment policies and procedures. 

On completion of assessment, NOPSEMA has decided that it is not reasonably satisfied that the environment plan meets the criteria below as set out in regulation 10A of the Environment Regulations: 
(a) is appropriate for the nature and scale of the activity 
(b) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable 
(c) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be of an acceptable level 
(d) provides for appropriate environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria 
(e) includes an appropriate implementation strategy and monitoring, recording and reporting arrangements 
(g) demonstrates that: 
(i) the titleholder has carried out the consultations required by Division 2.2A 
(ii) the measures (if any) that the titleholder has adopted, or proposes to adopt, because of the consultations are appropriate 

Titleholder requirements 
For OMR decision In accordance with regulation 10, the titleholder is required to modify and resubmit the environment plan. Upon resubmission of the plan, NOPSEMA will continue to assess the submission in 
accordance with its assessment policies and make a decision under regulation 10. After a titleholder has been provided with reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit an environment plan, NOPSEMA will 
make a final decision on whether to accept or refuse to accept the environment plan. 

Avalon Boomerang Bags 2018

Avalon Boomerang Bags sewing bees will be starting again on Tuesday 30th January 11am-4pm at Sew Craft Cook. 20/14 Polo Ave, Mona Vale. 

Looking forward to catching up with everyone’s holiday news. 

Newcomers especially welcome! Don’t need to know how to sew, we will teach you.

Permaculture Northern Beaches 2018 Events

Manly • Warringah • Pittwater | Sydney
Permaculture Northern Beaches (PNB) is an active local group based on Sydney's Northern Beaches.  Our parent body is  Permaculture Sydney North.

PNB hold monthly permaculture related events on the 4th Thursday of each month at 7:15pm at the  Nelson Heather Community Centre,  Banksia Room, 5 Jacksons Rd, Warriewood

Sunday, February 11, 2018: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Learn about the many ways you can reduce household waste in your home from food waste to single-use plastics as well as reusing and upcycling options. Household waste ends up in landfill and contributes to green house gas emissions. 

Develop your own action plan to take your household waste down to zero. The workshop is at Avalon, for inquiries please contact:  

This is part of our Green Home initiative and our focus in February and March for a non-toxic lifestyle made possible by the community grant program from the Northern Beaches Council.

Thursday, February 22, 2018: 7:15pm – 9:00pm
Nellson Heather Comunity centre 
5 Jacksons Road, North Narrabeen
onight's presentation on a  low tox life is for people curious about HOW to and WHY to lower their toxic load, and then helps them do that in a positive, empowered way across home, body, mind and food. Alexx Stuart is a speaker who brings the concept of the Low Tox Life to life through her speaking and workshops across the globe leaving audiences feeling hopeful and positive about detoxing your life. This can range from products you use in your home, bathroom, on your body,  what we eat and what we plant in the garden.

Start the year with a detox!
7:15 Pm at Nelson Heather Centre, Banksia room, 5 Jacksons Road, North Narrabeen.  Entry is by donation, all welcome!!

We also have a swap table for any items from your garden or items to reuse for others.  There is organic teas and coffees available, bring a plate of food to share.

Sunday, March 25, 2018: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
For anyone interested in Seed Saving, join our PNB seed saving afternoon at Bungan Edible Sanctuary.  Every three months,  we meet to exchange seeds, package up excess seeds for distributing at the PNB monthly meeting and share whatever knowledge we have about seeds, seed saving and what grows well in our area. 

This seed workshop will also include a garden tour around Bungun Edible Sanctuary which includes aquaculture, native bees, raised beds, chickens and a lot more.

Bring along seeds to swap that you are pretty sure are open-pollinated (not hybrid) and have been sourced from your own garden, or from somewhere you know OR  bring a plate of food or healthy drinks to share around the table.

Please register for the Seed workshop by emailing  JJ –

Sunday, April 15, 2018: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Learn how to make  Eco-cleaning products such as dish washing liquid, householder cleaning spray, toilet cleaner, and furniture polish. We also make skin care products such as organic body moisturiser, essential oil perfumes and natural tooth powder. 

Today's workshop at Avalon will involve making these products with an experienced team so as you can them make them for your own use at home. Spaces are limited. If you would like to be involved in the team and this workshop at Avalon please  book your place by email to :

We are exposed to over 2,000 chemicals in our homes. For many of us this is the most exposure we will receive in our daily lives. This workshop is an easy and effective way to use non-chemical and non-petroleum based products.

This is part of our Green Home initiative and our focus in February and March for a non-toxic lifestyle made possible by the community grant program from the Northern Beaches Council.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 – Sunday, April 29, 2018: 9:30am

This two-day permaculture course is a great overview of all aspects of permaculture - so as to enable you to take the next steps to incorporate this into your life. Over the weekend we will cover topics from organic gardening, sustainable housing, soil, site analysis for your garden/site, permaculture design, and zoning. You will receive an Introduction to Permaculture certificate and a copy of Bill Mollison's book " Introduction to Permaculture."  The course will be held at the Coastal Environment Centre (CEC) on Pelican Walk, Narrabeen Lagoon.  This will also allow for some practical exercises such as PLANTING A RAISED BED GARDENand NATIVE BEES. You will learn how to include permaculture design in your own home and garden.

The course will be from 09:30 - 4:30 pm on both days. For bookings and information please contact - with the subject heading ITP April 2018.

Teachers for the weekend include Margaret Mossakowska, biologist, and Moss House Sustainability founder and Michelle Sheather, international ecologist, Permaculture Northern Beaches coordination team.

Cost:  $290 for permaculture group members, $330 for non-members, concessions available for students, pensioners, unemployed.

Saturday, May 12, 2018: 10:00am – 1:00pm

There are many scenarios where garden space is minimal including rental properties; apartments with balconies;  townhouses with small courtyards; retirement homes; caravan parks; community garden allotments and many suburban blocks.

This workshop on small space gardening is to help you make the most of the space you have.  You will learn techniques such as stacking, hanging pots, lattices, using narrow niches and wall and fence spaces, portable grow bags, clever plant choices such as dwarf varieties and low maintenance plants that take up minimum space with a high yield. 

Design your garden to optimise your space. Join Angela Penn, kitchen garden teacher at Manly West Primary School; and science teacher for this workshop at Manly Vale Community Garden.

Organised by PNB in cooperation with Backyard in a Box. Bookings are essential inquiries:

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

Bush Regeneration - Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment  
This is a wonderful way to become connected to nature and contribute to the health of the environment.  Over the weeks and months you can see positive changes as you give native species a better chance to thrive.  Wildlife appreciate the improvement in their habitat.

Belrose area - Thursday mornings 
Belrose area - Weekend mornings by arrangement
Contact: Phone or text Conny Harris on 0432 643 295

Wheeler Creek - Wednesday mornings 9-11am
Contact: Phone or text Judith Bennett on 0402 974 105
Or email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment :

Eco Paddle on Narrabeen Lagoon
1pm, Sunday Feb 11, 2018
Black Swan have returned to the lagoon after 20 years - come and see these majestic creatures! This paddle will visit the Western Basin, Deep and Middle Creeks. Beautiful Deep Creek attracts migratory birds from as far away as Russia and Middle Creek has been the subject of a substantial remediation programme. A relaxing 2 to 3 hour afternoon paddle. No previous kayaking experience required, tuition given. BYO boat or a hire kayak can be arranged for you at cost. 
Bookings essential.
Email or call 0417 502 056.

Long Reef Walks 2018 Season

If you’d like to join us on a walk please contact me a couple of weeks before the walk date to make a booking. FREE GUIDED WALKS of Long Reef Aquatic Reserve with NSW Department of Industry & Investment Fishcare Volunteers will be held on the following date:

Dates for 2018
Sunday 18 February 2018              4:00pm – 6:00pm
Sunday 18 March 2018                   3:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 15 April 2018                      1:00pm  – 3:00pm

~ Walks are held subject to weather conditions ~

Bookings are preferred.
Please email Wendy to book:

Phil Colman, who keeps us updated on the Fishcare Volunteer Walks, has said, when sending in these monthly dates for the new season walks;

"I am only too happy to take individuals or small groups of senior school students out when I might be able to help them with their studies, give them possible projects or whatever.  

Keep in mind that I am totally dictated to by tides, but am retired and basically available at any time.  I am not, by the way, looking for payment.  If I can steer someone in the direction of marine study, I’m paid enough!"

You contact Phil via email at: - ph; 9982 6142

Think before you print ; A kilo of recycled paper creates around 1.8 kilograms of carbon emissions, without taking into account the emissions produced from transporting the paper. So, before you send a document to print, think about how many kilograms of carbon emissions you could save by reading it on screen.

New Course Set For Southern Ocean Observations

January 25th, 2018: CSIRO
CSIRO has announced a partnership with San Francisco-based ocean technology start-up, Saildrone, to radically improve measurement and monitoring in Australian waters and the Southern Ocean.

The research partnership over five years between Saildrone and CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere group will see the deployment of state-of-the-art unmanned ocean surface vehicles, Saildrones, for the first time in Australian waters.

Research with the Saildrones will expand CSIRO’s extensive network of marine and climate monitoring systems around Australia, collecting more information about sea-surface temperature, salinity, and ocean carbon, and providing a platform for continued development of the next generation of marine and climate technologies.

The Saildrones are solar and wind powered and can be at sea for up to 12 months at a time where they can be tasked to assist in science missions including conducting stock assessments, uploading data from subsurface sensors or responding to marine emergencies.

They can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world and are equipped with both automatic identification systems (AIS) and ship avoidance systems to alert and avoid other ocean users.

CSIRO Research Group Leader Andreas Marouchos said the partnership would see the organisation manage a fleet of three Saildrones deployed from the CSIRO in Hobart.

“This research partnership comes at a critical time for the marine environment, and at a time when technological innovation in the marine sector is booming,” Mr Marouchos said.

“Saildrones are long-range research platforms that can be sent to remote locations for an extended period of time, delivering real-time data back to scientists that was previously impossible to collect.”

“The devices gather fundamental information about our oceans and climate using a powerhouse of ocean chemistry, meteorological and marine acoustic sensors.

“CSIRO is at the forefront of advances in marine engineering and technology, with a demonstrated track record in providing new tools and methods for world-class oceans research.”

Australian Saildrone  founder and CEO Richard Jenkins said CSIRO provided a unique opportunity for marine research collaboration in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Saildrone and CSIRO share the same passion for innovation and engineering to help solve some of the most challenging problems facing the world,” Mr Jenkins said.

“Autonomy is a key technology for accessing the southern oceans, which are understudied due to the rough seas and the limited number of vessels that regularly pass through the region.”

CSIRO will collaborate on the development of Saildrone technology beginning with equipping the vehicles with specialised sensors designed to measure ocean carbon, as well as provide biomass estimates in the water column, added to the existing suite of marine and atmospheric sensors.

The ability to remotely control the Saildrones from anywhere in the world means they can be re-tasked quickly to meet CSIRO’s science needs, providing a new way to measure ocean conditions associated with events like marine heat waves or toxic algal blooms that in the past would have required extensive planning and expense for a ship and crew.

The partnership between Saildrone and CSIRO is just one of a number of new research collaborations currently underway through the CSIRO US Office which was launched in September 2017.
The research partnership over five years between Saildrone and CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere group will see the deployment of state-of-the-art unmanned ocean surface vehicles, Saildrones, for the first time in Australian waters. Photo courtesy CSIRO

Stunning Scenery, Nature Tourism And A New Sister Park For Jenolan Caves

January 24th, 2018: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
A historic sister park partnership between The Jenolan Caves Conservation Trust and Zhijindong Caves Global Geopark was recently signed by Bob Conroy, Administrator of the Jenolan Caves Conservation Trust on a recent visit to the spectacular karst landscape in Guizhou province in south-west China.

Mr Conroy said Jenolan Caves is very proud to have established the partnership with Zhijindong Caves Global Geopark.

"We look forward to sharing information and management practices, receiving delegations and greater numbers of visitors from China and negotiating possible staff exchanges," said Mr Conroy.

"Zhijindong Caves Global Geopark is an area of about 17,000 hectares and the caves are ranked as the most beautiful in China.

"The Zhijindong Caves boast the largest and most numerous caverns in the world with a grand array of very impressive stalagmites and stalactites including high columns, flowstone, helictites and fossils.

"The Guizhou province, where the Zhijindong Caves are located, is known for poverty and lack of infrastructure but this is changing very fast.

"Both the National and Provincial Governments of China strongly believe that encouraging nature tourism through improving infrastructure, upgrading visitor facilities and protecting nature, will subsequently lead to the alleviation of poverty and sustainable economic growth in this part of China.

"As a result, there has been a massive investment in new airports, major highways and bullet trains, which is starting to benefit regional economies and encouraging greater numbers of domestic and international tourists to this scenic part of regional China," said Mr Conroy.

The Jenolan Caves form a spectacular natural wonder on the western edge of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and are one of the world's oldest and finest cave systems. Visitors can explore any of 11 huge show caves or take part in adventure caving, ghost tours, night tours, bushwalks and occasional underground performances. Facilities include hotel, motel, backpacker and cottage accommodation, a gift shop, restaurant and pop-up café. Bookings can made by phone or online: Official site of the Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

The trip was sponsored by Guizhou Provincial Government under a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Geological Society of Australia and Geological Society of China.
Limestone formations in the Imperial Cave at Jenolan Caves, NSW, Australia. Phoot by and courtesy Toby Hudson. CC BY-SA 3.0

A 'Marine Motorhome For Microbes': Oceanic Plastic Trash Conveys Disease To Coral Reefs

January 25, 2018: Cornell University
For coral reefs, the threat of climate change and bleaching are bad enough. An international research group led by Cornell University has found that plastic trash -- ubiquitous throughout the world's oceans -- intensifies disease for coral, adding to reef peril, according to a new study in the journal Science.

"Plastic debris acts like a marine motorhome for microbes," said the study's lead author, Joleah Lamb, a postdoctoral research fellow at Cornell. She began collecting this data as a doctoral candidate at James Cook University in Australia.

"Plastics make ideal vessels for colonizing microscopic organisms that could trigger disease if they come into contact with corals," Lamb said. "Plastic items -- commonly made of polypropylene, such as bottle caps and toothbrushes -- have been shown to become heavily inhabited by bacteria. This is associated with the globally devastating group of coral diseases known as white syndromes."

When plastic debris meets coral, the authors say, the likelihood of disease increases from 4 to 89 percent -- a 20-fold change. The scientists estimate that about 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, and that this will likely increase 40 percent over the next seven years.

Coral are tiny animals with living tissue that cling to and build upon one another to form "apartments," or reefs. Bacterial pathogens ride aboard the plastics, disturbing delicate coral tissues and their microbiome.

"What's troubling about coral disease is that once the coral tissue loss occurs, it's not coming back," said Lamb. "It's like getting gangrene on your foot and there is nothing you can do to stop it from affecting your whole body."

Lamb and colleagues surveyed 159 coral reefs from Indonesia, Australia, Myanmar and Thailand, visually examining nearly 125,000 reef-building corals for tissue loss and disease lesions. The number of plastic items varied widely, from 0.4 items per 100 square meters (about the size of a two-bedroom Manhattan flat), in Australia, to 25.6 items per 100 square meters in Indonesia. This is significant given that 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste are estimated to enter the ocean in a single year, Lamb said.

The scientists forecast that by 2025, plastic going into the marine environment will increase to roughly 15.7 billion plastic items on coral reefs, which could lead to skeletal eroding band disease, white syndromes and black band disease.

"Our work shows that plastic pollution is killing corals. Our goal is to focus less on measuring things dying and more on finding solutions," said senior author Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. "While we can't stop the huge impact of global warming on coral health in the short term, this new work should drive policy toward reducing plastic pollution."

Coral reefs are productive habitats in the middle of nutrient-poor waters, Harvell said. Thanks to the symbiotic relationship between corals and their solar-powered algae, "this miracle of construction creates the foundation for the greatest biodiversity in our oceans," she said. "Corals are creating a habitat for other species, and reefs are critical to fisheries."

Said Lamb: "This study demonstrates that reductions in the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean will have direct benefits to coral reefs by reducing disease-associated mortality."

Joleah B. Lamb, Bette L. Willis, Evan A. Fiorenza, Courtney S. Couch, Robert Howard, Douglas N. Rader, James D. True, Lisa A. Kelly, Awaludinnoer Ahmad, Jamaluddin Jompa, C. Drew Harvell. Plastic waste associated with disease on coral reefs. Science, 2018 DOI: 10.1126/science.aar3320

Rise In Severity Of Hottest Days Outpaces Global Average Temperature Increase

January 24, 2018: University of California - Irvine
While our planet's average annual temperature has increased at a steady pace in recent decades, there has been an alarming jump in the severity of the hottest days of the year during that same period, with the most lethal effects in the world's largest cities.

Engineers at the University of California, Irvine have learned that urban centers with more than 5 million inhabitants and parts of Eurasia and Australia have been hardest hit by the accelerated growth in short-term, extreme-heat events, resulting in lost lives, reduced agricultural productivity and damage to infrastructure.

In a paper appearing in the American Geophysical Union journal Earth's Future, the researchers report that their analysis of temperature readings from the most recent 50- and 30-year periods rules out the possibility that natural climate variability is to blame for the mercury rising.

"The global average annual temperature has increased over the past three decades at a rate of 0.20 degrees Celsius per decade, but we have found that the maximum temperature of the year has climbed at a much faster rate -- two to three times higher in such regions as Eurasia and parts of Australia and more than three times higher in some megacities," said Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, UCI Distinguished Professor of civil & environmental engineering and senior author on the study. "These results are alarming and yet more evidence of the harsh impact of global warming being felt by people around the world today."

From 1986 to 2015, hottest-day-of-the-year readings climbed by 0.25 degrees Celsius per decade, the UCI study found. Some megacities saw a rise of 0.60 degrees Celsius per decade. Credit: Simon Michael Papalexiou / UCI

The research team analyzed data on the hottest day of the year from 8,848 land surface weather stations around the world. Looking at thermometer readings for the 50-year period ending in 2015, they saw an average international increase in short-term highest temperatures of 0.19 degrees Celsius per decade; the growth accelerated to 0.25 degrees per decade in the 30 years from 1986 to 2015.

Hottest-day-of-the-year measurements for major cities such as Paris, Moscow and Tokyo climbed precipitously by as much as 0.60 degrees per decade during the period studied. More than just temperature readings on a map, these events have taken a severe human toll: A heat wave in Europe in 2003 caused roughly 70,000 deaths, and another in Russia in 2010 killed nearly 55,000 people. In the United States, an average of 658 deaths due to excessive heat were reported per year between 1999 and 2009.

The researchers, from UCI's Henry Samueli School of Engineering, highlighted an urban phenomenon known as the "heat island effect." In human-made environments dominated by asphalt, concrete, glass and steel, hot air lingers and the sun's scorching rays scatter and reflect off hard surfaces. While expanses of green vegetation and water in nature help to absorb or dissipate heat, cities amplify it.

"Our priority in this study was to maintain strict data quality control and to investigate if changes accelerated over the recent 30-year period," said lead author Simon Michael Papalexiou, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. "We chose to drill down into conditions in megacities, where temperature extremes matter the most. Our question now is: Will this acceleration continue into the future? Because if it does, adverse effects for human societies are inevitable."

Simon Michael Papalexiou, Amir AghaKouchak, Kevin E. Trenberth, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou. Global, Regional, and Megacity Trends in the Highest Temperature of the Year: Diagnostics and Evidence for Accelerating Trends. Earth's Future, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/2017EF000709

International Year Of The Reef (IYOR)
The Third International Year Of The Reef (IYOR 2018) @IYOR2018 / #IYOR2018

At the 31st General Meeting (November 2016 in Paris, France), the International Coral Reef Initiative declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef and encourages to:
  • strengthen awareness globally about the value of, and threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems;
  • promote partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on the management of coral reefs;
  • identify and implement effective management strategies for conservation, increased resiliency and sustainable use of these ecosystems and promoting best practices; and
  • share information on best practices in relation to sustainable coral reef management.
1997 was declared the first International Year of the Reef (IYOR), in response to the increasing threats on coral reefs and associated ecosystems, such as mangroves and sea grasses around the world. IYOR was a global effort to increase awareness and understanding on the values and threats to coral reefs, and to support related conservation, research and management efforts. Over 225 organizations in 50 countries and territories participated, and over 700 articles in papers and magazines were generated, and hundreds of scientific surveys were undertaken.

Recognising that, ten years later, there continued to be an urgent need to increase awareness and understanding of coral reefs, and to further conserve and manage valuable coral reefs and associated ecosystems, the International Coral Reef Initiative designated 2008 as the second International Year of the Reef, IYOR 2008 (Resolution to Designate 2008 as the International Year of the Reef).

IYOR 2008 was a year-long campaign of events and initiatives hosted by governments and non-governmental organizations around the world, to promote conservation action and strengthen long-term collaborations for coral reef conservation.

IYOR 2008 Goals were the following:
  • Strengthen awareness about ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
  • Improve understanding of the critical threats to reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats
  • Generate urgent action to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.
Nations, organizations, and individuals around the world celebrated the International Year of the Reef 2008 (IYOR 2008): from international organizations to village children, to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and to motivate people to take action to protect them. A tremendous amount of material was produced in several languages during that year, including educational DVDs, posters, children's books, and much more. More than 630 events were organized in over 65 countries and territories around the world. IYOR 2008 has now come to an end, but the spirit lives on... To learn more about the IYOR 2008 accomplishment, download the IYOR Report.

Recognizing that public awareness is an essential element of coral reef conservation and is necessary to ensure that the value of and the threats to coral reefs are understood by the general public, and that sufficient resources are devoted to conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs and associated ecosystems; noting the importance of developing relevant public awareness initiatives that reflect national and regional priorities as well as local culture and knowledge concerning coral reefs and to facilitate public involvement in coral reef conservation related activities in all countries; and acknowledging the success of the International Year of the Reef 2008 in raising awareness of the importance of coral reefs and associated ecosystems; ICRI members adopted a recommendation on continuing coral reef awareness efforts.

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) is an informal partnership between Nations and organizations which strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world.

Although the Initiative is an informal group whose decisions are not binding on its members, its actions have been pivotal in continuing to highlight globally the importance of coral reefs and related ecosystems to environmental sustainability, food security and social and cultural wellbeing. The work of ICRI is regularly acknowledged in United Nations documents, highlighting the Initiative’s important cooperation, collaboration and advocacy role within the international arena.

Brief history
The Initiative was founded in 1994 by eight governments: Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. It was announced at the First Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in December 1994, and at the high level segment of the Intersessional Meeting of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development in April 1995. ICRI now counts more than 60 members.

ICRI emerged out of the recognition that coral reefs and related ecosystems found in tropical and sub-tropical regions are facing serious degradation, primarily due to anthropogenic stresses. Many nations face similar threats to coral reefs and related ecosystems as well as similar management problems. Recognising this, ICRI’s objectives are to:
  • Encourage the adoption of best practice in sustainable management of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
  • Build capacity
  • Raise awareness at all levels on the plight of coral reefs around the world.
ICRI adopted a ‘Call to Action’ and a ‘Framework for Action’ as its foundational documents. Both documents set the four cornerstones of ICRI: Integrated Management; Science; Capacity Building and Review.
Find out more at:


Operation Crayweed Update: Success As North Bondi Restoration Works Produce Next Generation Of Crayweed Also: Green Globe Award For UNSW SIMs Operation Crayweed Project - Issue 334, 2017
Crosswaves - Newport Reef

Free Flu Vaccine For Young NSW Children

January 23, 2018: NSW Government
Children in NSW between six months and five years old will be eligible for free flu vaccinations from April 2018.

The NSW Government’s new influenza vaccination program will ensure 400,000 children are better protected for this year’s flu season.

Children can receive their free vaccine from community health centres, Aboriginal Medical Services and their GP.

The vaccine will cover four strains of influenza virus — two A strains and two B strains — likely to be circulating this winter.

Children who have never had a flu vaccination will need two doses, one month apart.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said NSW childhood vaccination rates had increased by 6.3 per cent since 2010, to 93.9 per cent in 2017.

“We already have the some of the best childhood vaccination rates in the country and this free flu jab will go even further to protect our little ones from potentially deadly flu infections,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Infants and young children are most likely to spread the flu and suffer complications. Not only will the free flu jab help keep them safe during winter, but it will also protect their family and friends.”

Last year’s flu season was the most severe in NSW since 2009. There were more than 12,000 confirmed cases of influenza in children under five last year.

Green Slip Refunds On Their Way

January 22nd, 2018: NSW Government
NSW businesses will start to receive their compulsory third party (CTP) green slip refunds this week.

Over 100,000 business customers, including taxi owners, will receive their refund in the mail.

The average refund will be $265 for businesses and $1255 for taxi owners.

In 2017 the NSW Government overhauled the old green slip scheme to create a more affordable, lower cost scheme.

In addition to lower premiums in 2018, the government is providing partial refunds to 4.2 million vehicle owners who paid too much in 2017. 

Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello said $52 million would be returned to business customers over the coming weeks.  

Individual policy holders will be able to access their refunds online through Service NSW in the coming months.

Sydney drivers will receive the largest refunds, at an average of $70 and country drivers will receive $30.

  • Some regional locations will receive notification of their refunds in February so that Service NSW can test their refund system.
  • The remainder of the 4.2 million policy holders can claim their refunds from March.

Scientists Discover Oldest Known Modern Human Fossil Outside Of Africa

January 26, 2018: Binghamton University
A large international research team, led by Israel Hershkovitz from Tel Aviv University and including Rolf Quam from Binghamton University, State University of New York, has discovered the earliest modern human fossil ever found outside of Africa. The finding suggests that modern humans left the continent at least 50,000 years earlier than previously thought.

"Misliya is an exciting discovery," says Rolf Quam, Binghamton University anthropology professor and a coauthor of the study. "It provides the clearest evidence yet that our ancestors first migrated out of Africa much earlier than we previously believed. It also means that modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges."

The fossil, an upper jawbone with several teeth, was found at a site called Misliya Cave in Israel, one of several prehistoric cave sites located on Mount Carmel. Several dating techniques applied to archaeological materials and the fossil itself suggest the jawbone is between 175,000-200,000 years old, pushing back the modern human migration out of Africa by at least 50,000 years.

This is the left hemi-maxilla with teeth. Credit: Rolf Quam

Researchers analyzed the fossil remains relying on microCT scans and 3D virtual models and compared it with other hominin fossils from Africa, Europe and Asia.

"While all of the anatomical details in the Misliya fossil are fully consistent with modern humans, some features are also found in Neandertals and other human groups," said Quam, associate professor of anthropology at Binghamton. "One of the challenges in this study was identifying features in Misliya that are found only in modern humans. These are the features that provide the clearest signal of what species the Misliya fossil represents."

The archaeological evidence reveals that the inhabitants of Misliya Cave were capable hunters of large game species, controlled the production of fire and were associated with an Early Middle Paleolithic stone tool kit, similar to that found with the earliest modern humans in Africa.

While older fossils of modern humans have been found in Africa, the timing and routes of modern human migration out of Africa are key issues for understanding the evolution of our own species, said the researchers. The region of the Middle East represents a major corridor for hominin migrations during the Pleistocene and has been occupied at different times by both modern humans and Neandertals.

This new discovery opens the door to demographic replacement or genetic admixture with local populations earlier than previously thought, said Quam. Indeed, the evidence from Misliya is consistent with recent suggestions based on ancient DNA for an earlier migration, prior to 220,000 years ago, of modern humans out of Africa. Several recent archaeological and fossil discoveries in Asia are also pushing back the first appearance of modern humans in the region and, by implication, the migration out of Africa.

Israel Hershkovitz, Gerhard W. Weber, Rolf Quam, Mathieu Duval, Rainer Grün, Leslie Kinsley, Avner Ayalon, Miryam Bar-Matthews, Helene Valladas, Norbert Mercier, Juan Luis Arsuaga, María Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez de Castro, Cinzia Fornai, Laura Martín-Francés, Rachel Sarig, Hila May, Viktoria A. Krenn, Viviane Slon, Laura Rodríguez, Rebeca García, Carlos Lorenzo, Jose Miguel Carretero, Amos Frumkin, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Daniella E. Bar-Yosef Mayer, Yaming Cui, Xinzhi Wu, Natan Peled, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Lior Weissbrod, Reuven Yeshurun, Alexander Tsatskin, Yossi Zaidner, Mina Weinstein-Evron. The earliest modern humans outside Africa. Science, 26 Jan 2018 456-459 DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8369

Ancient Rice Heralds A New Future For Rice Production

January 22nd, 2018: University of Queensland
Wild rice growing in northern Australia's crocodile-infested waters could help boost global food security, say University of Queensland researchers who have mapped its genetic family tree.

Valuable traits from the wild rice -- such as drought tolerance and pest and disease resistance -- can be bred into commercial rice strains, said Professor Robert Henry from the Queensland Alliance of Agriculture and Food Innovation.

"Northern Australia's wild rices contain a wealth of untapped genetic diversity and at least two species are very closely related to domesticated rice, so they can be cross-bred with this species," he said.

"Wild Australian rice genes could make commercial rice production better suited to northern Australian conditions. "The wild rices could contribute resistance to diseases such as rice blast, brown spot and bacterial leaf spots."

Professor Henry said the research showed that in the era when the ancient human ancestor known as Lucy lived in Africa, a genetic divergence occurred in the rice variety that is now found only in northern Australia.

This divergence led to the Asian and African rice species commonly used in commercial rice production today. Professor Henry said that in addition to boosting global rice production, Australian wild rice offered the opportunity to be cultivated as a tasty and nutritious product in its own right.

"It tastes good and we believe it may have more beneficial health qualities than other rice species," he said.

A UQ doctoral thesis study on the grain quality of Australian wild rice showed the species had the lowest "hardness" of cooked rices, and a higher amylose starch content.

"The higher the amylose content, the longer the rice takes to digest," Professor Henry said.

"This potentially offers more nutrition to our gut microbes, in the same way high-fibre foods do."

He noted that human trials were needed to confirm the health benefits but the chemistry suggested this was the case.

Rice is the most widely consumed staple food for much of the world's population and it is the third-largest worldwide agricultural crop.

Professor Henry said the study provided a comprehensive insight into the rice family tree, and confirmed that wild Australian rice was the most directly related species to the ancient ancestor of all rices.

"Through this research, we've developed a calibrated DNA-based molecular clock that maps when divergences in the rice genome have occurred," Professor Henry said.

"Few biological systems are as well described as rice now is."

The paper detailing outcomes of the research into the genomes of domesticated and wild rice species is published in Nature Genetics.

Joshua C. Stein et al. Genomes of 13 domesticated and wild rice relatives highlight genetic conservation, turnover and innovation across the genus Oryza. Nature Genetics, 2018 

Professor Robert Henry ... Australian wild rice "tastes good and we believe it may have more beneficial health qualities than other rice species”.

Most Popular Baby Names In NSW In 2017

January 23rd, 2018: NSW Government
Traditional and royal-inspired names have topped the list of popular baby names in 2017.

The top 100 baby names list released by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) revealed that Oliver is the most popular name in NSW for newborn boys, while Charlotte has returned to the top spot for girls.

Newcomers to the top 10 lists are Henry, Zoe and Ella, replacing Leo, Emily and Ruby. Henry is the biggest mover on the list, finishing fifth, up from 18th in 2016.
Top 20 baby names of 2017

Position Boys       Girls
Oliver            Charlotte
William         Olivia
Noah             Ava
Jack              Amelia
Henry            Mia
James           Isla
Thomas        Chloe
Lucas            Zoe
9 Ethan            Ella
10 Alexander     Grace
11            Liam              Isabella
12            Lachlan         Sophie
13            Leo                Harper
14            Harrison        Emily
15            Samuel          Ruby
16            Isaac              Sophia
17            Jacob             Evie
18            Hunter             Ivy
19            Mason            Evelyn
20            Charlie           Sienna

Sydney Young Guns Named In Historic Youth Side

From Surf Life Saving NSW
They’re two of the most successful branches in Surf Life Saving and now a number of teenage stars from Sydney Northern Beaches and Sydney will take the next step in their representative careers after being named in the NSW team that will compete for the inaugural Youth Pathway Cup at Sydney’s Freshwater Beach on Australia Day.

The Youth Pathway Cup is Surf Life Saving’s newest representative competition and will allow the brightest prospects at the U14 and 15 level test their skills against the best Australia has to offer.

In the U14s Lilly Finati (North Bondi), Jodie Louw (Newport), Lucy Flanagan (North Cronulla), Max Geronimo (Elouera), and Joel Piper (Newport) have all earned selection after some compelling early season form.

While in the U15s Xanthe Christopher (North Bondi), Piper Harrison (Manly), Madeleine Wallace (Collaroy), and Riley Dixon (Wanda) will pull on the sky blue surf cap for the first time.

All of the mainland states will field teams of 20 athletes for this revolutionary surf sport contest.

Each squad will consist of 5 male and 5 female athletes with the athletes selected for their versatility on the sand and in the surf. 

The NSW competitors have been whittled down from an initial squad of more than 50 names to the final team with last month’s Interbranch Championship providing an opportunity to state their case for selection.

Surf Sport Manager Rob Pidgeon said it’s an exciting opportunity for this young squad to make their own mark on the sport.

“For several seasons it has been a goal of ours to forge new pathway opportunities for our young athletes to narrow the gap from talented junior to a fully-fledged senior athlete.

“It closely mirrors the senior Interstate Championship format and we’re extremely grateful to Freshwater SLSC and Sydney Northern Beaches Branch for their support in making this possible. The other states will be making the most of the trip by having their teams compete at the Manly Open and Manly Nipper Nats events on the same weekend.”

“There’s plenty of talent in our sport right now which is extremely encouraging, and in a first the athletes from all the states will be working together in combined training sessions in a rare opportunity to build friendships and learn new skills to help them develop as athletes into the future,” Mr Pidgeon said.

The NSW Youth Pathway Cup team will go into camp on Wednesday 24 January 2018 with the competition to be held on Australia Day Afternoon.
(NB: No report/results as yet - more next Issue- PON)

2018 NSW Youth Pathway Cup Team

Lilly Finati (North Bondi SLSC)
Holly Holmsby (Bulli SLSC)
Jodie Louw (Newport SLSC)
Lily O’Sullivan (Cudgen Headland SLSC)
Lucy Flanagan (North Cronulla SLSC)
Dan Chisholm (Swansea Belmont SLSC)
Max Geronimo (Elouera SLSC)
Lucas Ottaway (Bulli SLSC)
Joel Piper (Newport SLSC)
Ty-Jesse Brabant (Port Macquarie SLSC)

Xanthe Christopher (North Bondi SLSC)
Piper Harrison (Manly LSC)
Maisie Miller (Lennox Head-Alstonville SLSC)
Bella Williams (Cooks Hills SLSC)
Madeleine Wallace (Collaroy SLSC)
Nathan Mackenzie (Lennox Head-Alstonville SLSC)
Fletcher Myers (Cooks Hill SLSC)
Nicholas Stoddart (Swansea Belmont SLSC)
Saxon Coates (Swansea Belmont SLSC)

Team Management
Head Coach; Scott McCartney (Cudgen Headland)
Assistant Coach; Rachelle King (Terrigal)
Team Manager; Monique Williams (Cooks Hill)

Amazing Migratory Shorebirds – Long Reef Aquatic Reserve

Published January 25th, 2018: By Birds In Back Yards TV
These four migratory shorebird species – Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), Red Knot (Calidris canutus), Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) and Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) – were filmed in early January 2018 at Long Reef Aquatic Reserve, NSW, Australia. All footage was collected between 7pm and 7.45pm. The tide was exceptionally low and the sea relatively calm. We walked a long way out onto the large rock platform but our zoom lens and still stance ensured that the birds weren’t disturbed. Other than little skirmishes between species and individuals, they seemed quite relaxed. It is not clear though why most of the birds take off in the last scene. Possibly it was due to a couple of people wandering in their direction. 

Migratory shorebirds are amazing animals and over 35 species visit Australia. Every year they fly vast distances to and from their breeding grounds in the Arctic Circle (e.g. parts of Siberia and Alaska). This migration, usually on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, includes “staging areas” such as the Yellow Sea region of China and Korea. For many shorebirds, the arduous journey to and from the Arctic would be almost impossible without an opportunity to rest and refuel. (One exception is the Bar-tailed Godwit, who holds the record for non-stop flight. For species that can do longer flights, such as Red Knots, it is more likely on their way to Australia than to their breeding sites.) Their time in Australia is also vital to their life-cycle. Migratory shorebirds begin to arrive in our south-eastern coastal areas and/or inland wetlands around late August/September and most depart in March – May. Across the warm months in Australia they relax, recuperate and fatten up for their return to the Arctic. But they are not flying north for balmy weather. Indeed, the Arctic summer is much colder than our winter. However, constant daylight makes the tundra explode with life. The chicks grow quickly due to an abundance of insects and their larvae. This means they can escape the Arctic winter and migrate to Australia as a juvenile. What is especially remarkable is that they often take this first journey without their parents or other adults and yet end up in the same part of Australia. Once here they usually stay until they are ready to breed, whereupon they join the adults on the next trip north. Occasionally a mature bird also lingers across our winter due to poor health or condition.

Sadly, shorebird numbers are declining, mostly due to habitat loss. While the Yellow Sea is of particular concern (e.g. large areas of land reclamation for development), important Australian sites are also under threat from direct development or habitat degradation through pollution, recreational activities and commercial activities such as aquaculture. Even walking a relatively well-behaved unleashed dog on/near a beach or mudflat can have significant consequences. What looks like a half-hearted gambol towards a shorebird is actually a serious disturbance if it happens frequently. Every time a shorebird flies off in alarm they are using precious fat stores. 

For more information on migratory shorebirds see the excellent Farewell Shorebirds series on YouTube starting with episode 1 - 

Credits: Photos and video – Darren Broughton. Arrangement and text – Thalia Broughton. Music – Pioneer by Split Enz.

Science And Engineering Teenage Finalists Hope To Change The World 

January 23rd, 2018: CSIRO
From developing a flood warning system to investigating the effectiveness of bush medicine, 26 teenagers have taken their first steps in using science and engineering to change the world after being announced as finalists for the 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards.

The awards recognise the next generation of STEM leaders who have undertaken innovative science or engineering projects.

The 26 finalists announced today included Queensland's Jared Crowley, New South Wales' Minh Nga Nguyen and Western Australia's Nyheemah Cox, David Simelolo and Jeremias Wade. All cited a desire to making the world a better place as motivation for their projects.

After recently witnessing the effects of flooding at his family's property on the Gold Coast, 14-year-old Jared Crowley was inspired to develop an innovative flood warning device.

"Our home was flooded earlier this year and the waters rose during the night and entered the home just after midnight," Jared said.

"It was hard to accurately know what was happening outside and it was a very stressful night, followed by weeks of repairs.

"All of our animals needed to be moved up from the paddocks that flooded first and we tried to move as much furniture and belongings up but not everything could be saved in this short time."

Using a computer platform, the system Jared developed sends a text message to people when flood waters reach a certain level at their property.

"Once I finished developing the project I realised that it could be used in multiple ways, such as measuring water tank levels and alerting people when the water decreases to a certain point," he said.

In Coolgardie, a small town in Western Australia famous for its gold mines, 16-year-old Nyheemah Cox combined her cultural heritage and open investigation.

Alongside fellow students 14-year-old David Simelolo and 14-year-old Jeremias Wade they explored three bush plants' ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Maroon bush, crimson turkey bush and sweet potato leaves have been used by Aboriginal peoples as medicine for a variety of illness including cancer, heart disease and intestinal trouble.

Nyheemah said she would like to introduce the plants as a cheap source of medication that is readily available to all Australians. It also helps preserve cultural links for the community.

"By conducting our research it helps preserve the knowledge of our elders and can be used for future generations," she said.

Nyheemah Cox, David Simelolo and Jeremias Wade working on bush plants’ ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

With aspirations to become an environmental engineer, 17-year-old Minh Nga Nguyen's project used agricultural by-products such as corn husks, bamboo scraps and rice waste, to create a biochar product with the dual capability of filtering water and then being used as a fertilizer.

"This process reduces the effects of contaminated water and pollution created by agricultural waste. I hope this technology will provide positive impact globally," she said.

The BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards are a partnership between the BHP Billiton Foundation, CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and each state and territory Science Teachers Association.

Since 1981, the awards have been recognising student excellence. Six of the finalists will have the opportunity to go to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the US where over 1800 high school students from 75 countries, regions and territories are given the opportunity to showcase their independent research.

The winners will be announced on 6 February at a ceremony in Melbourne.

For more information go to

Licence Changes For Learner And P-Plate Drivers

By Transport for NSW
From 20 November 2017, important changes are being made to the Graduated Licensing Scheme to improve the safety of young drivers on our roads.

New licence holders
From Monday 20 November 2017, new licence holders must complete the following steps to progress from a learner to a full licence:

Current licence holders
Transitional arrangements apply to drivers who obtained their Learner, P1 and P2 licence before 20 November 2017. Find more detailed information in our FAQs.

P1 drivers who held a P1 licence before Monday 20 November 2017
  • Once you have held your P1 licence for 12 months, you will be required to complete the Hazard Perception Test to progress to a P2 licence.
  • Once you progress to a P2 licence, if you receive a suspension for unsafe driving behaviour, you must stay on your P2 licence for an extra 6 months.
  • You will not need to complete the Driver Qualification Test to graduate from a P2 licence to a full licence.

P2 drivers who held a P2 licence before Monday 20 November 2017
  • Once you have held your P2 licence for 24 months, you will be required to complete the Driver Qualification Test to graduate to a full licence.
  • You will not be subject to the 6 month tenure extension if you receive a suspension for unsafe driving behaviour.
P2 drivers who renew their licence on or after Monday 20 November 2017 will not have to complete the Driver Qualification Test to progress to a full licence, but will be subjected to the new tenure extension if they receive a suspension due to unsafe driving behaviour.

Find more information on your licence conditions on the Roads and Maritime Services website.

Learner drivers who held a learner licence before Monday 20 November 2017
  • You must successfully complete the Hazard Perception Test before taking a driving test.
To be eligible for the Hazard Perception Test:
  • Learners under the age of 25 must have held their licence for at least 10 months.
  • Learners over the age of 25 are not required to have held their Learner licence for 10 months.
  • Once you have held your learner licence for 12 months and successfully completed the Hazard Perception Test, you must pass a driving test to progress to a P1 licence.
  • Once you progress to a P2 licence, if you receive a suspension for unsafe driving behaviour, you must stay on your licence for an extra 6 months.
  • You will not need to complete the Driver Qualification Test to graduate from a P2 licence to a full licence.

Safer limits build confidence
Special licence conditions apply for young drivers within NSW. These include speed restrictions, passenger numbers, vehicle types and laws against using mobile phones. The conditions and restrictions that apply to learner or provisional licence holders do not change when they travel outside NSW. You might also have other licence conditions, such as wearing spectacles or contact lenses when driving. 

Watch your speed
  • Learner and provisional P1 drivers must not drive faster than 90 km/h
  • Provisional P2 drivers must not drive faster than 100 km/h
  • Learner or provisional drivers who speed by more than 30km/h over the limit face immediate suspension and licence confiscation by police
  • Learner and P1 drivers penalised for speeding (four demerit points) will lose their licence for at least three months
  • P2 drivers will lose their licence for at least three months if they are penalised twice for speeding
Vehicle restriction laws
P1 and P2 drivers are banned from driving high-performance vehicles that have:
  • Power to tare mass ratios of greater than 130kW per tonne or,
  • Modified engines that need to be approved by an engineer or,
  • Other high performance classifications
You can find approved vehicles in our P1/P2 vehicle search.

The Roads and Maritime Services website has more information on prohibited vehicles.

Passenger limits for P1 and P2 drivers
P1 drivers under 25 are not permitted to drive with more than one passenger under 21 between the hours of 11pm and 5am. P1 or P2 drivers who are issued with a new licence after a period of being disqualified from driving, will for 12 months only be allowed to carry one passenger.

The Roads and Maritime Services website has more information on passenger conditions.

Zero blood alcohol
All learner and provisional drivers must have a zero blood alcohol limit. Learner and provisional licence holders cannot consume any alcohol before driving. If you have a big night out, you may still be over the zero limit the next day.

Mobile phones
Learner, P1 and P2 drivers must know the rules on mobile phone use. Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must not use a mobile phone at all while driving. This includes phones in the hands-free mode, with the loud speaker operating or sending text messages. Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must be parked out of the line of traffic to use a mobile phone in any way.

Learner and P1 drivers and riders penalised for illegally using a mobile phone (four demerit points) will exceed their demerit point threshold and face a three-month licence suspension.

P2 licence holders will have three demerit points remaining if they are penalised for illegally using a mobile phone.

Learner drivers must not tow a trailer or any other vehicle and are not permitted to drive any vehicle that is being towed. P1 drivers must not drive a vehicle that is towing any other vehicle with unladen mass of more than 250kg.  P1 drivers can tow trailers either loaded or unloaded, however the unladen mass of the trailer itself (excluding the load) must not be over 250 kilograms and they must display a P plate on the back of the trailer while towing.

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers can only drive a vehicle that has a seatbelt fitted to the driver’s seat. You cannot carry more passengers than there are passenger seatbelts fitted to the vehicle and all occupants must wear the seatbelts correctly when travelling.

Automatic vehicles
P1 licence holders who passed their driving test in an automatic vehicle (including vehicles with an automatic clutch actuator) will be restricted to driving automatics. This condition remains until you are issued with a provisional P2 or unrestricted licence. To remove the condition earlier, you must pass a driving test in a manual vehicle.

Displaying L and P plates
All learner and provisional drivers must clearly display their L and P plates on the front and back of the outside of the vehicle – the letters must not be hidden. Learner drivers can have their licence suspended if they drive unsupervised.

Driving and riding in other states
NSW learner, P1 and P2 drivers and riders must obey the same licence conditions and restrictions (as listed above) that apply to them in NSW when they drive or ride in other states or territories in Australia.

This ‘home conditions’ rule also applies to novice drivers and riders around Australia when they drive or ride in other states or territories.

Find out more HERE

Moran Contemporary Photographic Prizes

The 2017 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize has been deferred until early 2018.
The growth in interest in the Photographic Prize is such that the Moran Arts Foundation wants to recognise photography as an art form in its own right and give the artists the profile they deserve.

About the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize
Established in 2007, the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize (MCPP) is a national competition that awards and promotes Australian contemporary photography and excellence in all forms of still based artwork. 

The MCPP invites photographers to interpret ‘Contemporary Life in Australia’ with an emphasis on Australians going about their day-to-day life. We aim to encourage the production of photographs taken in Australia, by Australians, that reflects the diversity, multiculturalism and uniqueness of life, no matter where you live in Australia.

There are many ways to interpret this brief, but we are after your perspective on contemporary Australian society, your life, your dreams, your abilities, your inabilities, your mates, your loves. We want the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful and the everyday. Entries are NOT restricted to portraits.

Currently with an annual first prize of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), the Prize is an important part of Australia's Arts calendar. The Moran Prize is acquisitive and the winning photograph(s) immediately becomes the property of the Moran Arts Foundation, to be held and exhibited permanently as part of the Moran Arts Foundation Collection.
Prize Money
Open Section - $80,000 in prize money with the winner awarded $50,000. All 30 finalists will each receive $1,000. 
Secondary School Students, Year 11 to 12 - The winner is awarded $5,000 and their school is awarded $5,000 for the development of arts at the school;
Secondary School Students, Years 9 to 10 - The winner is awarded $3,000 and their school is awarded $3,000 for the development of arts at the school;
Secondary School Students, Years 7 to 8 - The winner is awarded $2,000 and their school is awarded $2,000 for the development of arts at the school;
Primary School Student Category, Kindergarten to Year 6 - A digital camera will be awarded to 25 selected winners plus a certificate of merit.
2018 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize
Entries open in January 2018 for the next Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize. Photos taken from 1 Sep 2016 up until the entries close date (yet to be announced) will be valid for entry. 

2018 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize Judges
Cheryl Newman
Jon Jones

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