Inbox and environment News: Issue 361

May 27 - June 2, 2018: Issue 361

Pittwater Environmental Foundation Directors Appointed

At it’s meeting of May 22nd Council appointed the following five (5) community members as Directors of Pittwater Environmental Foundation for a period of 3 years.  
Marita Macrae  
David Poppleton  
Angus Gordon  
Roberta Conroy 
Jo Tulau. 

Council thanked the interim Directors Cathy Griffin and Conny Harris.

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

About 33% (about 1600 ha excluding National Parks) of the original pre-European bushland in Pittwater remains in a reasonably natural or undisturbed condition. Of this, only about 400ha remains in public ownership. 

All remaining natural bushland is subject to encroachment, illegal clearing, weed invasion, feral animals, altered drainage, bushfire hazard reduction requirements and other edge effects. Within Pittwater 38 species of plants or animals are listed as endangered or threatened under the Threatened Species Act. There is one endangered population (Squirrel Glider) and eight endangered ecological communities or types of bushland. 


An updated Profile runs this Issue

Humpback Having A Whale Of A Time In Sydney Harbour

24 May 2018: NSW RMS
The whale-watching season has begun with a splash, with the first sighting of a juvenile humpback in Sydney Harbour today.

Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said today is a great start to the season and is a timely reminder for those on the water to give these precious mammals space.

“The whale watching season traditionally kicks off in May when whales head north from Antarctic waters,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Seeing a whale can be amazing but there are guidelines to protect marine mammals. People need to respect whales’ size and space requirements.”

  • Juvenile humpback spotted off Dobroyd Head, near the entrance to Middle Harbour
  • People in boats, on surfboards or kayaks must not approach any closer than 100 metres from a whale or pod and 300 metres from a mother whale and calf
  • Swimmers should remain at least 30 metres from marine mammals
  • Fixed wing aircraft must not approach any closer than 300 metres and helicopters no closer than 500 metres.
Vessels must always travel at a safe speed which will enable them to stop in time to avoid distressing or colliding with a marine mammal. This speed cannot be expressed as a maximum number of knots as it will vary according to the circumstances and conditions.

Roads and Maritime and National Parks & Wildlife Service officers can issue a maximum fine of $110,000 or two-year imprisonment, or both.

For more information on safe boating near marine mammals please view or download the Be responsible near whales brochure. (PDF" 386kb)

Please Help: Contribute To Significant Trees Register For Our Area

Significant trees listings wanted
Avalon Preservation Association
The next step in the Avalon Preservation Association's Avalon Cultural Audit is to identify and list significant trees in the area.

Roger Sayers has nominated the Spotted Gums in the reserve opposite Careel Bay Wharf.

Please help us by contributing your pick of significant trees in the area so we can map them and enter into our database.

You can either post a picture/s on the APA Facebook page and identify location of tree/s and species type if known or email us with same at

Our new Avalon Preservation Association Noticeboard is finally installed on corner of Belle Property Building near Herforts Chemist Old Barrenjoey Rd Avalon Beach. Many thanks to Mark Griffin Belle Property for use of wall and Robert Adema for installation.

Have Your Say On The Management Of Forests

May 15, 2018: Media Release
The NSW Government has begun consultation on the new Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOA), which sets out how native forestry operations are managed and regulated on public land in NSW.

Minister for Lands and Forestry Paul Toole and Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton said the Coastal IFOA remake was a vital step forward in the NSW Government’s forestry reform agenda.

“The NSW Government is committed to the long term and sustainable management of NSW’s forestry estate, for the benefit of the community, environment and our $2.4 billion forestry and product manufacturing industry,” Mr Toole said.

“The NSW Government is determined to get the right balance between the environment and industry – environmental standards can be strengthened at the same time as providing long term security of wood supply and certainty to investors and the industry.

“For the proposed new Coastal IFOA, this means ensuring that we do not erode environmental values or impact the critical wood supplies that our regional economies or industry rely on. 

“Over the past six months, we have undertaken consultation on the Regional Forest Agreements, and this is the next important step.”

Ms Upton said the new Coastal IFOA includes once-in-a-generation changes that will ensure the environment is protected.

“For the first time ever, minimum thresholds are being set for the permanent protection of threatened species and habitat across the landscape, and the rules will be more transparent and enforceable,” Ms Upton said.

New legislation will be introduced that will increase penalty notices for not complying with the Coastal IFOA from $1,100 to $15,000. All other private native forestry businesses and regulated industries in NSW already face fines of at least $15,000.

“These changes are making it fairer for all industries to do business in NSW, while offering further protections to our State's forests,” Ms Upton said.

Other changes to the Coastal IFOA include:
  • The merger of four current Coastal IFOAs into a single approval for the entire coast of NSW;
  • New rules that place limits on harvesting impacts over time and across the landscape;
  • Map-based protections with simplified rules for operating near boundaries;
  • Increased mapping of threatened ecological species, koala habitats, streams and trees, and;
  • Permanent protections for giant trees and hollow-bearing trees.
  • To complement the new Coastal IFOA, the NSW Government will soon commence a mapping exercise, applying modern technologies to gain a better understanding of key state forest sites on the north coast.

This work will be overseen by the Natural Resources Commission with independent environmental assessments to be designed and carried out by the Office of Environment and Heritage. The public will have a chance to have their say on the proposed framework and mapping approach in 2019.

For more information, and to have your say on the Coastal IFOA, visit:


From 'Proposed multi-scale landscape approach – download theMulti Scale Approach Factsheet here' Doc.;
 Includes all public coastal forests in NSW and consists of over 5.2 million hectares.
• Across this area of public forests is a patchwork of State Forests and forest protected in National Parks and State Flora Reserves.
• State Forests make up around 30% of the public forests in the Coastal IFOA area. Native timber production forests cover around 16% of this area.
Environmental protections include:
• An established network of protected public land conserving important habitat and ecosystems across coastal NSW.
• The broad landscape-based habitat protection network includes National parks, Flora Reserves and special management zones.
• Annual timber volume caps are also set to ensure a long term ecologically sustainable supply of timber.
• Reporting requirements apply and monitoring to evaluate and ensure environmental outcomes are being achieved.

• A defined geographic region with an average size of 50,000 hectares.
• Multiple timber production forests occur within each management area.
• These areas will be fixed and mapped at the commencement of the proposed IFOA.
• On average 50% of the management zone of state forests is protected.
Environmental protections include:
• Annual limits on the amount of harvesting in each management area to distribute harvesting across the landscape.
• A maximum of 10% of a management area can be harvested per year.
• If the management area is zoned for intensive harvesting,then a maximum of only 5% of that management area can be intensively harvested per year

• A defined area of timber production forests no larger than 1500 hectares.
• On average there are four local landscape areas in each State Forest.
• These areas will be mapped out progressively over time.
• An average of 38% is protected before the new wildlife habitat clump requirements are considered. This will increase to an average of 41%.
Environmental protections include:
• A minimum of 5% of the harvest area to be permanently protected as a wildlife habitat clump to maintain habitat diversity and connectivity.
• Rainforest, high conservation value old growth, habitat corridors and owl habitat will continue to be protected.
• Threatened ecological communities have been mapped and will be excluded from harvesting.
• Streams are more accurately mapped and exclusion zones apply to provide landscape connectivity and protect waterways.
• Distributeintensive harvesting across the landscape and over a minimum 21 year period.
• Improved koala mapping to retain koala browse trees to support movement between areas and food resources.

• A site is the area where harvesting is taking place. Sites vary in size from about 45 to 250 hectares.
• There are many sites, called coupes or compartments, within each local landscape area.
• An average of 41% of State Forests at a site scale will be protected, increasing to 45% with added tree retention clumps.

Environmental protections include:
• Areas will be permanently protected to provide short term refuge, maintain forest structure, and protect important habitat features.
• Additional areas no less than 5 – 8% of the harvest area will be permanently set aside as new tree retention clumps.
• Hollow-bearing trees, nest and roost trees and giant trees will be permanently protected to provide ongoing shelter and food resources.
• Some target surveys will be retained for unique species of plants and animals that require protection.
• Sites will now be measured, mapped and monitored with mobile and desktop devices.

Visit: Proposed changes to timber harvesting in NSW's coastal forests - NSW Government; 'Once approved, the new Coastal IFOA will set the rules for how we use and harvest these forests so it’s important that you have your say.'

World Environment Day 2018 - Beat Plastic Pollution: If You Can’t Reuse It, Refuse It

Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment Day 2018, is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. Chosen by this year’s host, India, the theme of World Environment Day 2018 invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health.

While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences. Around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute. 500 billion disposable plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, 50 per cent of the plastic we use is single use.

Nearly one third of the plastic packaging we use escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up clogging our city streets and polluting our natural environment. Every year, up to 13 million tons of plastic leak into our oceans, where it smothers coral reefs and threatens vulnerable marine wildlife. The plastic that ends up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year, and it can persist for up to 1,000 years before it fully disintegrates.

Plastic also makes its way into our water supply – and thus into our bodies. What harm does that cause? Scientists still aren’t sure, but plastics contain a number of chemicals, many of which are toxic or disrupt hormones. Plastics can also serve as a magnet for other pollutants, including dioxins, metals and pesticides.

If you can’t reuse it, refuse it
This year’s World Environment Day provides an opportunity for each of us to embrace the many ways that we can help to combat plastic pollution around the world. And you don’t have to wait until 5 June to act.

There are so many things that we can do – from asking the restaurants you frequent to stop using plastic straws, to bringing your own coffee mug to work, to pressuring your local authorities to improve how they manage your city’s waste. Here are some other specific ideas:
  • Bring your own shopping bags to the supermarket
  • Pressure food suppliers to use non-plastic packagin
  • Refuse plastic cutlery
  • Pick up any plastic you see the next time you go for a walk on the beach
What else can we do to tackle this problem? Share your ideas on social media using the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution.

2018 Whale Census

Join ORCCA on Sunday 24th June 2018 for our Annual Whale Census
Everyone is welcome to take part, no matter where you live.
Contact us today for more details.

Pittwater Reserves

Avalon Boomerang Bags Update: May 2018

Tuesday 8th May 2018
Last days of stitching at Kate's creative space - SewCraftCook - thanks again for sharing it with us over the past year.

Saturday 12th May - Stall outside Woolies Avalon 
Come & join us in the morning - spreading the word, promoting a plastic free environment and selling some of our beautiful "Bought to support" bags as well as other enviro friendly cups, toothbrushes, straws and cutlery sets name a few.

Can you help for an hour or two- please send an email or call Robyn 0412 314 754

Tuesday 15th May 2018
We're moving - back to The Avalon Recreation Centre.
Moving from 11am from SewCraftCook, 20/14 Polo Ave, Mona Vale back to the Recreation Centre.

We have several wonderful, amazing bodies lined up to help but if you're available please send an email to us. Thanks

Tuesday 22nd May 2018
We'll be ready to start creating our bags again from 11am - guaranteed the parking will be easier and the company terrific.  

Please come and join us.
We need sewers AND non-sewers , any enthusiastic body welcome. Please join us for an hour or two, even three or four. Pick up some fabric and create some bags at home, even help me create better newsletters.

Saturday 21st July
Avalon Car Boot Sale 8am-2pm Dunbar Park

It's on again- an awesome way for the community to clear those now unused items.

As well as our stall, we're having the "sausage sizzle", a great fundraiser for us......................thanks in advance to all our bar-b-quers, onion choppers and sandwich wrapperers.

Needing a few hands for this - it gives us great exposure and helps spread the message. Please reply or call Robyn for more info 0412 314 754

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 :

Cromer to Oxford Falls 
Sun 10/6/18 
Start 10am from Cromer Rd, allow 4 hrs and bring lunch to see great carvings near Red Hill, fantastic views over Narrabeen Lagoon and as typical for this catchment very different vegetation communities. Plant ID as we go. We will walk down to Oxford Falls and carpool back. Bookings needed: Conny Harris 0432 643 295 

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                     2nd 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

No Gas Drilling Off Newcastle Petition

Gas company Advent Energy has approval to start seismic exploration for oil and gas off the coast from Newcastle and the Central Coast. 

Seismic exploration creates sonic underwater blasts that puts marine wildlife at risk, including migrating whales, and impacts productive local fishing grounds.

If Advent Energy finds gas, the next step will be a push for an oil and gas field off the coast off Newcastle and the Central Coast. That's a proposition the local community will never accept. 

It’s not worth risking the health of the marine environment, our valuable fisheries resources and the local jobs it sustains for oil and gas exploration where the community will never accept a future gas field. 

Sign the petition to say NO GAS DRILLING OFF NEWCASTLE:
Dear The Premier of NSW.,

I oppose seismic exploration off the coast of Newcastle and the Central Coast and call on your Government to take steps to cancel the existing exploration licence and ban future offshore oil and gas development in NSW. 

1. Seismic exploration has been shown to impact on the hearing and navigation of whales and negatively impact on marine habitat and biodiversity. 

2. Offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling puts at risk local fishing and tourism industries that rely on a healthy oceans and a vibrant marine and coastal environment. 

3. An oil spill off the coast between Sydney and Newcastle could be catastrophic. The risk of oil and gas leaks and spills has been shown around Australia and the world. No matter the quality of regulations, accidents happen. The risk is unacceptable. 

4. NSW should be pursuing clean renewable energy, not more polluting and risk fossil fuel. 

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
Publication of EP summary 16/02/2018 -(not published/available at this date or yet - 25/2/2018)
Activity started 09/04/2018 - delayed
Activiity start - Sunday April 15th, 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. 

National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) regulates all offshore areas in Commonwealth waters, which comprise those areas beyond the first three nautical miles of the territorial sea. This includes the Ashmore and Cartier offshore territories and offshore areas adjacent to all states and the Northern Territory. 

NOPSEMA also regulates all offshore areas in coastal waters where a state or territory has conferred regulatory powers and functions. In jurisdictions where powers to regulate are not conferred, regulatory responsibilities remain with the relevant state or territory. 

Streams May Emit More Carbon Dioxide In A Warmer Climate

May 23, 2018
Streams and rivers could pump carbon dioxide into the air at increasing rates if they continue to warm, potentially compounding the effects of global warming, a new worldwide analysis has shown.

To reach that conclusion, an international research team conducted the first continental-scale study of carbon flows into and out of streams across six major climatic zones. They collected data in watersheds from Puerto Rico and Oregon to Australia and Alaska. In each one, scientists analyzed the balance between photosynthesis -- which uses atmospheric CO2 to generate plant material such as roots and leaves -- and respiration, which pumps CO2 back into the air.

The scientists published their results this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The issue is important because the world's rivers and streams exchange carbon with the atmosphere at rates that are comparable with land-based ecosystems and the oceans. If global warming continues, an increase in stream-based carbon emissions could add to the concentration of heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere.

"This paper is the first to look at the effects of climate change on stream metabolism at the continental scale using field observations," said Alba Argerich, co-author who monitored McRae Creek and Lookout Creek in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest east of Eugene, Oregon. "This approach takes into consideration the complexity of an ecosystem, as opposed to controlled experiments where you recreate simplified versions of an ecosystem."

Argerich and other scientists monitored streams for water temperature, dissolved oxygen and sunlight at the water surface. The researchers also simulated the balance between net primary production (the product of photosynthesis by all organisms in the stream) and respiration under a 1-degree Celsius rise in stream temperature.

The net result of the simulations, they reported, was a 24 percent shift toward more respiration and CO2 emissions. However, not all streams are projected to respond in the same manner. The shift toward more CO2 emissions appears to be more pronounced in warmer streams, the scientists found, while colder streams might actually see an increase in net primary production. Carbon cycling in streams can also be affected by other factors such as the plants and microbes in the stream ecosystem and nutrients flowing into the water from surrounding lands.

Argerich conducted her work as a researcher in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. She is now an assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri.

In previous work at the H.J. Andrews Forest, Argerich showed that small streams can export surprising amounts of carbon both downstream and to the atmosphere. "This paper confirms the role of streams as an active source of CO2 to the atmosphere, which can be even become more important as global temperatures increase," she said.

Chao Song, Walter K. Dodds, Janine Rüegg, Alba Argerich, Christina L. Baker, William B. Bowden, Michael M. Douglas, Kaitlin J. Farrell, Michael B. Flinn, Erica A. Garcia, Ashley M. Helton, Tamara K. Harms, Shufang Jia, Jeremy B. Jones, Lauren E. Koenig, John S. Kominoski, William H. McDowell, Damien McMaster, Samuel P. Parker, Amy D. Rosemond, Claire M. Ruffing, Ken R. Sheehan, Matt T. Trentman, Matt R. Whiles, Wilfred M. Wollheim, Ford Ballantyne. Continental-scale decrease in net primary productivity in streams due to climate warming. Nature Geoscience, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-018-0125-5

Lookout Creek in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon, USA, was one of the sites included in a continental analysis of carbon cycling in rivers and streams. Credit: Theresa Hogue, Oregon State University

Bold Lizards Of All Sizes Have Higher Mating Success

May 24, 2018
Boldness correlates with the mating success, but not body size or sex, of yellow-spotted monitor lizards roaming the remote Oombulgurri floodplains of tropical Western Australia, ecologists report in the Ecological Society of America's open access journal Ecosphere. But boldness has a cost: bold individuals expose themselves to much higher risk of being eaten by predators during the dangerous wet season. The researchers demonstrated quantifiable behavioral syndromes in the large lizards, with an intriguing relationship to the lizards' seasonal hunting strategies.

"Personality is kind of interchangeable with the term behavioral syndrome. Some scientists have a weird thing about saying "personality"; they don't like to think animals have personalities. But they definitely do," said lead author Georgia Ward-Fear, a researcher at the University of Sydney. Boldness, she and her coauthors found, was not conveyed by imposing stature. "There are bold females as well as bold males, and shy females as well as shy males. Some of the biggest individuals we observed were really shy."

The yellow-spotted monitors (Varanus panoptes), affectionately known as goannas, are related to Komodo dragons and share many of their larger cousins' behaviors. Adults can be 1.6 meters long, and some males grow larger. The lizards hunt insects, frogs, and small mammals, and scavenge whatever they can get.

"This boldness syndrome was not only quantifiable, it correlated with a heap of ecological traits that we were monitoring. We we were only able to figure that out because we were radiotracking individuals to assess their home ranges and the characteristics of the habitats that they were choosing to stay in during the two distinct seasons," Ward-Fear said. "It was based on intuition really, to start with, but we couldn't have imagined how many correlations we would pull out based on the behavioral differences within individuals."

Traditionally, behavioral research is conducted in the lab. Standardized measures that can be repeated easily and reliably are difficult to achieve under field conditions. Ward-Fear's unusual field study of of goanna behavioral syndromes emerged spontaneously out of long term ecological study aimed at goanna conservervation.

Ward-Fear and her colleagues grew curious about goanna personality during field experiments designed to teach predatory lizards that poisonous, invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina) make a poor meal. The large Central and South American toads, introduced to Australia during the 1930s to control agricultural pests, have spread extremely successfully through Oceania, creating havoc in the ecosystems they infiltrate by poisoning native predators that try to eat them.

"Cane toads have caused huge impacts in all the environments that they have invaded. They are still invading across northern Australia," Ward-Fear said. Researchers are hoping to get ahead of the invasion front, teaching native lizards to avoid the poisonous toads.

With the goal of providing a non-lethal life lesson, the researchers fed the goannas canes toads that were small enough to make them sick without killing them. True toads, like the cane toad, possess potent cardiotoxins. Because Australian has no native toads, Australian reptiles like the yellow spotted monitors have not evolved defenses against the bufotoxins in the toads' skin and glands.

"Boldness is a really interesting part of the story, because conditioned taste aversion is a behavioral mechanism. We found that shyness is quite correlated with neophobia, fear of new things. You can imagine very shy individuals are probably less likely to eat novel prey that they meet in the field, so they may have more of a resilience to the cane toads naturally. So it was really cool to document this behavior in the context of the cane toad study," said Ward-Fear.

During the cane toad study, the team made 12 visits to Oombulgurri (15°08'34.0"S 127°52'36.0"E) over 3 years. They measured the body length, weight, and health of the goannas, took genetic samples, and fitted the goannas with radio transmitters. While tracking the animals through their complex lives, the team got to know them as individuals, with what seemed like distinct personalities, Ward Fear said. Consistently brave or shy behavior in approaching strange ecologists, unusual foods, and risky environments, did not seem to be associated with body size or sex. The ecologists were curious.

"Anyone who works with these animals knows that they are amazing. The are renowned for their intelligence, but there has been no formal study of their cognition. They do come across as intelligent lizards. They are quite sneaky, and inquisitive. They are a bit more like a mammal in that sense. They're fun to work with," Ward-Fear said.

To assess boldness, Ward-Fear and her colleagues designed stardard response scales for three behaviors. They assessed the goannas' skittishness in response to the standardized approach of an ecologist.

"They'll try to take you on if they feel too threatened, or if they're angry, or during the mating season. They stand up on their hind legs and they inflate their throats," Ward-Fear said, but the goannas are also curious. "They watch you from a long distance away, and they can let you get quite close to them."

A second scale quantified response to handling. Some individuals freeze, while other struggle mightily, whipping their tails, hissing, and inflating their throats in warning. A third scale indicated how the goannas reacted to cane toads, a frog-like potential prey that they had never seen before. Some goannas will go for the strange food immediately, others investigated warily, or would not try cane toads at all. The researchers combined the scores into a single measure of boldness.

Bolder individuals had larger home ranges and higher mating success, but a higher rate of death. Ward-Fear says the patterns of habitat use by bolder goanna suprized her the most.

"The coolest thing was the space use, habitat use that we saw," she said.

When annual monsoons flood the Oombulgurri, the plains burst to life along the rivers. The verdant river edges are prized goanna hunting areas, rich in food, but the thick plant life also hides dangerous predators. During the wet season, large pythons descend from the steep, rocky escarpment at the edge of the plain to patrol the river edges. The pythons, like dingos, raptors, and humans, are big enough to make a meal of yellow-spotted monitors. The food-rich wet season is also the season of highest risk for goannas.

Shy goannas abandon the high-risk riparian zone during the wet season, Ward-Fear discovered. Bold individuals stay close, managing risk by avoiding dense vegetation where snakes lurk. As a consequence, many bold goannas are eaten during the wet season. Shyer lizards stick to sparser plant cover at all times of year. During the dry season, when need for water draws shy goannas back to the rivers, shy individuals experience their highest rate of predation. The different personality types appear to persue complementary life strategies.

Ward-Fear does not yet know if the behavioral syndromes are inherited. She plans to investigate goanna aggression and adventurousness in future field work at Oombulgurri.

Georgia Ward-Fear, Gregory P. Brown, David J. Pearson, Andrea West, Lee A. Rollins, Richard Shine. The ecological and life history correlates of boldness in free-ranging lizards. Ecosphere, 2018; 9 (3): e02125 DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2125
A large male yellow-spotted monitor (Varanus panoptes), also known as a goanna, curls his tail in the grass. Photo courtesy of Georgia Ward-Fear.

Some Desert Creatures May Be Able To Cope With Climate Change Better Than Expected

May 24, 2018
The world of reptiles may well include creatures that are more spectacular than the Gehyra variegata, but nevertheless, this small nocturnal gecko has managed to make a couple of fascinating new contributions to the discussion about the ecological consequences of climate change.

These geckos are small grey- or brown-skinned lizards that grow to around five centimetres and spend their lives in the deserts of Australia. The hollowed out trunks of eucalyptus trees are their preferred hiding places. After spending the night hunting insects, this is where they seek refuge from the heat in a climate where temperatures can often climb to more than 40 degrees Celsius. And it is in exactly these deserts where climate scientists expect to see even more extreme conditions in the future. They are forecasted to become even hotter and drier, worldwide. So how will the unique animals and plants that live in these ecosystems cope with these new challenges? This was the question the researchers set out to investigate, using this little gecko as a representative of other nocturnal desert inhabitants.

Prof. Klaus Henle, head of the Department of Conservation Biology at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, began collecting data about Gehyra variegata as far back as the 1980s. Working in the Kinchega National Park in Eastern Australia, he and his colleagues have been catching, measuring, photographing, tagging and then releasing reptiles for more than 30 years.

An adult gecko with a backpack containing an RFID tag attached to the lizard's skin. The RFID tag transmits its location and the gecko's body temperature. Credit: Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth, UFZ

The researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research then collated this information with weather conditions in the National Park, and also with global climate phenomena. Their findings are surprising, to say the least. As biologist Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth said, "We expected the higher temperatures and greater dryness to have a negative effect both on the individual geckos and on their populations." After all, even lizards need a certain amount of moisture to ensure that their eggs develop properly, and to enable them to moult when they need to. If they dry out completely, they will die. And the same is also true if excessive temperatures cause them to overheat. "But our investigations revealed that our geckos grow and survive particularly well in the very hottest years. In fact, they are generally in better condition, and their populations grow rather than fall." But what could be the reason? To discover this, Grimm-Seyfarth carefully observed the lizards' behaviour and measured their body temperature.

At night, she used an infrared thermometer, which can measure temperature at a distance, to locate the creatures while they were hunting. And then, to find where the geckos were hiding during the day, the scientists used tiny passive transmitters, similar to those used as ID chips for dogs. These chips are usually implanted under the skin. But when the tiny reptile is only five centimetres long, this isn't really feasible. So, the scientists created miniature backpacks for the geckos to wear, which keep the chips close to their skin. The researchers then use a radio antenna to locate the chips. The chips not only reveal where each lizard is, but also transmit its body temperature. Despite the tremendous daytime heat in the desert, the scientists discovered that the geckos don't search out particularly cool places to hide. They prefer their refuges to have a temperature between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius. As Grimm-Seyfarth said, "The creatures need these high temperatures so that they can digest their food properly." Consequently, they also crawl around in branches that are particularly exposed to the sun. To her astonishment, Grimm-Seyfarth also found that, in cooler years, the geckos left the safety of their tree and deliberately sat out in the sun to bask in its heat. But searching for enough warmth also takes energy. And, if the search is unsuccessful, the gecko can't digest its food properly. This might be the reason that cooler years had a negative effect on the geckos.

However, even having the perfect temperature range isn't any good if it's also too dry. This doesn't just cause physical problems for these creatures. In particularly dry periods, there are also fewer insects for them to eat. As expected, geckos experience really hard times during periods of drought. But it's not just local precipitation levels that are the decisive factor. Every few years, the La Niña weather phenomenon brings torrential rainfall to the east coast of Australia. Months later, the rivers bring the resulting flood waters to the desert, increasing humidity levels and creating an abundance of insects. As Grimm-Seyfarth said, "These lizards are affected by local conditions and global climate phenomena alike. We need to look beyond the horizon of a particular area if we want to make an accurate prediction about the future of its inhabitants.

Until now, all the evidence indicated that the geckos would face problems caused by drought rather than by heat. But now, we have discovered that they can also compensate for this, to a certain extent. The study shows that, although individual creatures become thinner in years of drought, their population levels remain constant. This is because they scale back their growth and reproduction rates in hard times," explained Grimm-Seyfarth. They can then concentrate all their efforts on surviving into the next year. Thanks to their exceptional longevity (up to 28 years in some cases), these creatures can afford to lose a few reproductive cycles without any particular problem. And when conditions improve again, they can make up for lost time.

Therefore, even if climate change causes deterioration in living conditions for these geckos, they're hardly likely to die out immediately. And, according these evaluations by the scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, these findings could also apply to other long-lived desert dwellers. However, this is in no way a simple carte blanche for letting climate change just happen. "If there are several very dry years in succession, the creatures will no longer be able to cope," said Grimm-Seyfarth. At some point, even the hardiest survival specialists will be overwhelmed.

Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth, Jean-Baptiste Mihoub, Bernd Gruber, Klaus Henle. Some like it hot: from individual to population responses of an arboreal arid-zone gecko to local and distant climate. Ecological Monographs, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/ecm.1301

When The Dinosaurs Died, So Did Forests -- And Tree-Dwelling Birds

May 24, 2018: Field Museum, Chicago
Sixty-six million years ago, the world burned. An asteroid crashed to Earth with a force one million times larger than the largest atomic bomb, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. But dinosaurs weren't the only ones that got hit hard -- in a new study, scientists learned that the planet's forests were decimated, leading to the extinction of tree-dwelling birds.

"Looking at the fossil record, at plants and birds, there are multiple lines of evidence suggesting that the forest canopies collapsed," says Regan Dunn, a paleontologist at the Field Museum in Chicago and a co-author on the study in Current Biology. "Perching birds went extinct because there were no more perches."

"We drew on a variety of approaches to stitch this story together," said Daniel Field, the paper's lead author, of the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath. "We concluded that the temporary elimination of forests in the aftermath of the asteroid impact explains why arboreal birds failed to survive across this extinction event. The ancestors of modern arboreal birds did not move into the trees until forests had recovered from the extinction-causing asteroid."

The project's pollen expert, Antoine Bercovici of the Smithsonian Institution and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, helped determine that the world's forests were destroyed by looking at microscopic fossils of pollen and spores. Dunn explains, "After a disaster like a forest fire or a volcanic eruption, the first plants to come back are the fastest colonizers -- especially ferns." That's because ferns don't sprout from seeds, but from spores, which are much smaller -- just a single cell. "Spores are minuscule, the size of a grain of pollen, so they're easily dispersed. They get picked up by the wind and go further than seeds can, and all they need to grow is a wet spot."

"The spores are tiny -- you could fit four across a single strand of your hair," says Dunn. "To see them, we take a sample of rock from the time frame just after the collision and dissolve it in acid. Then we purify it so that all that remains is the organic debris, like pollen, spores and little leaf bits, then we look at them under a microscope."

Immediately after the asteroid hit, the fossil record shows the charcoal remains of burnt trees, and then, tons of fern spores. An abundance of fern spores in the fossil record often comes on the heels of a natural disaster that destroyed larger plants like trees.

"Our study examined the fossil record from New Zealand, Japan, Europe and North America, which showed there was a mass deforestation across the globe at the end of the Cretaceous period," says co-author Bercovici.

And with no more trees, the scientists found, tree-dwelling birds went extinct. The birds that did survive were ground-dwellers -- birds whose fossilised remains show longer, sturdier legs like we see in modern ground birds like kiwis and emus. The Cretaceous equivalent of robins and sparrows, with delicate little legs made for perching on tree branches, had no place to live.

"Today, birds are the most diverse and globally widespread group of terrestrial vertebrate animals -- there are nearly 11,000 living species," says Field. "Only a handful of ancestral bird lineages succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today's amazing living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors."

And while fossil animals like dinosaurs and birds often get more love than fossil plants, Dunn says that plants are critical to understanding life on earth. "Plants are everything, plants are the context in which all terrestrial life evolves and survives. They're primary producers, they make energy available to all life forms by capturing it from the sun -- we can't do that."

She also notes that while the dinosaurs and their perching bird neighbors died 66 million years ago, their plight is relevant today. "The end-Cretaceous event is the fifth mass extinction -- we're in the sixth," says Dunn. "It's important for us to understand what happens when you destroy an ecosystem, like with deforestation and climate change -- so we can know how our actions will affect what comes after us."

Daniel J. Field, Antoine Bercovici, Jacob S. Berv, Regan Dunn, David E. Fastovsky, Tyler R. Lyson, Vivi Vajda, Jacques A. Gauthier. Early Evolution of Modern Birds Structured by Global Forest Collapse at the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062

The asteroid impact that eliminated non-avian dinosaurs destroyed global forests. Here, a hyopothetical surviving bird lineage -- small-bodied and specialized for a ground-dwelling lifestyle--flees a burning forest in the aftermath of the asteroid strike. 
Credit: Phillip M. Krzeminski

Powerful Owl Release

March 18, 2018: Avalon Preservation Association
PNHA's Jacqui Marlow has advised that a Powerful Owl chick has been released in Plateau Park following its recuperation in Taronga Park. 

If you see it there being harassed, or even if you see it at all, can you please phone her on 0458 194 127.

Powerful owl family - photo courtesy PNHA

‘Do Not Call Register’ Scams

May 22, 2018: by ACMA
Scammers claiming to be associated with the Do Not Call Register are calling consumers and asking for personal information such as financial details.

The ACMA is reminding people that this is a scam and never to give this type of information, as part of National Scams Awareness Week 2018.

These scammers often make false promises to block ‘nuisance’ calls or to re-register people on the Do Not Call Register. They also sometimes use accurate personal details sourced elsewhere to make calls appear legitimate, and some calls may come from overseas, even if the calling information appears local.

NEVER give an unknown caller personal and financial information without first verifying who they are. If in doubt, most legitimate callers will understand if you want to take their details and confirm who they are before calling back on a verifiable number.

Facts about the Do Not Call Register
The Do Not Call Register is a FREE service for consumers to easily, securely and permanently register your landline, mobile and fax numbers to reduce unsolicited telemarketing.
  1. The Do Not Call Register will NOT call you to register, update your registration or re-register you. Once you register, it is permanent.
  2. The Do Not Call Register will NOT ask you for any fee or any financial information such as your credit or debit card details. Registration is free.
  3. The Do Not Call Register will NOT block numbers. The Register is used by legitimate telemarketers to remove numbers from their calling lists prior to making calls.

Want to register or make a complaint?
Register a number on the Do Not Call Register
Make a complaint online or by calling 1300 792 958.
For more information about the Do Not Call Register, please visit here

New Reforms To Strengthen Aged Care Quality And Safety

May 24, 2018: The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Minister for Aged Care
A new, single set of quality standards will strengthen and streamline the regulation of safe, quality care for older Australians, as the Australian Government continues its unparalleled aged care reform agenda.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt AM introduced the Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill 2018 to Parliament today and said the changes would increase certainty and make it easier for aged care recipients and their families.

“Applying a single set of standards across all aged care programs will drive improvements to the quality of care delivered to older Australians and encourage innovation, excellence and continuous improvement,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This will help give people greater choice and flexibility and is an important part of the Turnbull Government reforms to create a competitive, market based system where red tape is also reduced for aged care providers.”

The existing accreditation standards are 20-years-old and the introduction of this legislation will bring together the four existing sets of quality standards, for residential care, home care, transition care and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Quality Framework into one single set.

“The establishment of a single set of standards means that the same core, non-negotiable expectations will apply across all services,” said Minister Wyatt. “It will complement the Government’s introduction of a single Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, a tough new agency which will uphold and enforce the standards and provide more confidence for older Australians and Providers.”

The new commission will bring together the Aged Care Complaints Commission, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the aged care regulatory functions currently operating within the Department of Health. The new Commission will commence operations on 1 January 2019.

The single set of aged care standards against which providers will be assessed will come into force from 1 July 2019, giving them a 12-month transition period to allow for any system and process changes to meet the new standards.

The 2018 Budget has allocated $50 million to assist residential aged care providers with the transition to the Single Quality Framework.

Funding Announced For Action Plan On Macular Disease

May 22, 2018: The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health
The Australian Government will provide funding for the development of a national action plan to better support patients with macular disease, the leading cause of vision loss among older Australians.

During Macular Degeneration Awareness Week I am pleased to announce that the Macular Disease Foundation Australia will receive $150,000 for the development of a National Strategic Action Plan.

The action plan will provide a streamlined approach to the treatment and management of the disease across Australia. 

Importantly, it will be a roadmap to deliver better outcomes for patients. 

I also welcomed the release of a Macular Disease Foundation Australia report today, which shows Australia is a world-class leader in fighting macular disease.

The Journey to See: A Model for Success, highlights the ground-breaking work Australia has delivered over the last 10 years in the treatment and management of age-related macular disease, which is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. 

About one in seven Australians or 1.25 million people aged 50 years and over, show some evidence of macular degeneration. The disease also affects young people. 

The Turnbull Government is committed to addressing vision loss and blindness in our communities. 

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidies several medications used in the treatment of aged-related macular disease. Since 2013 the Turnbull Government has spent $1.67 billion on medication for aged-related macular disease through the PBS.

Specific services in relation to the treatment of macular degeneration are also available through the Medicare. In 2016-17 alone the Government paid over $118 million in Medicare benefits for more than 400,000 eye injections for aged-related macular degeneration.

This funding for the action plan is in addition to the $1.28 million the Macular Disease Foundation Australia receives through the Health Peak and Advisory Bodies Fund to help reduce the incidence and impact of the disease in Australia.

Aussie High School Student Wins Top Prize At International Science And Engineering Fair

May 21, 2018: from CSIRO
2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Award winner Oliver Nicholls has taken home the top prize and $US75,000 as winner of the Gordon E. Moore Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) announced in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Friday night.

The 19-year-old from Barker College in Sydney secured the win with his fully-autonomous robotic window cleaner that is designed to reduce human injury and decrease the costs of window cleaning on medium rise commercial buildings. The small robotic device uses drones, motors and propellers to navigate building facades and clean windows using water and micro-fibre scrubbers.

Australian students excelled at the international competition, with five of Australia's 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards finalists  securing a total of 11 major award wins against a field of over 1800 high school students from 75 countries.

CSIRO Education and Outreach Director Mary Mulcahy said it was another example of Australia's great science being recognised on the global stage.

"Australia is one of the best places in the world to start a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By having our high school students winning international awards, we are further strengthening our international reputation as an innovative country," Ms Mulcahy said.

BHP Billiton Foundation Executive Director James Ensor said seeing Australian high school students winning at an international level would inspire others to pursue independent research projects.

"Studying STEM topics fosters innovative thinking and problem solving abilities that will help to address sustainable development challenges," Mr Ensor said.

"We believe that by supporting STEM education and achievement in young people, we are investing in Australia's future problem solvers."

The BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Award finalists attended Intel ISEF as part of the BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards Australian delegation and STANSW's Young Scientist delegation.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of Society for Science & the Public is the world's largest international pre-college science competition. Each year over 1800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $4 million in prizes. The BHP Billiton Foundation and Intel Foundation provide support for the BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards Australian delegation attending the fair.

BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Award winners at Intel ISEF

Oliver Grant Nicholls, Barker College, NSW, Australia
1st place overall, Gordon E. Moore Award, with a prize value of $US75,000
1st place and Best in Category in the Physical Sciences Robotics and Intelligent Machines category
IEEE Foundation Second Place Award
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Second Award of $US750
Project: Autonomous window cleaning robot for commercial high rise buildings
Oliver Nicholls combined his knowledge in mathematics, physics and design to design an autonomous robotic window cleaner. His design aims to reduce injury and decrease the commercial costs of window cleaning. The final product went through rigorous prototyping, testing and evaluation to show commercial viability.

Angelina Arora, Sydney Girls High School, NSW, Australia
4th place in Physical Sciences, Environmental Engineering category.
Angelina also won a scholarship to Arizona University.

Project: Shrimp Shell Bioplastics: A new solution to the world's growing plastic problem
Concerned about the damage plastics do to the environment, especially the ocean, Angelina Arora set out to develop a bioplastic made from prawn shell and sticky protein from the silk of silkworms. The plastic completely degrades leaving nothing harmful behind. She tested the strength, elongation, clarity, solubility, deconstruction and endurance of the plastic as well as other plastics made out of potato, corn and tapioca. Angelina hopes this plastic could replace current plastic shopping bags and other packaging to reduce the environmental impact in landfill and in the ocean.

Caitlin Roberts, Friends School, Hobart, Tas, Australia
3rd place in the Life Sciences, Biomedical Sciences category.
Project: The protease inhibiting effect of almonds
Caitlin's project looked at the digestive properties of almonds. She compared the rate of protein digestion of skim milk when either activated or natural almonds were consumed and how this process occurs. This research contributes to a body of research aimed at understanding how nutritional intake can be optimised.

Jade Moxey and Macinley Butson, Sapphire Coast Anglican College, NSW, and The Illawarra Grammar School, NSW
3rd Place in the Physical Sciences, Environmental Engineering category
King Abdul-Aziz & his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity $US20,000 Scholarship for Sustainable Initiatives with Water Technology
Qatar Foundation, Research & Development First Award of $US1000
Project: The SAS System (Sanitation and Sterilisation)
Jade and Macinley worked together on a portable sanitation and sterilisation system to provide both clean potable drinking water and sterile water for medical use. It also has the potential to be used in emergency response and disaster relief situations.

Oliver Nicholls has taken home the top prize as winner of the Gordon E. Moore Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) announced in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Choose The Safest Car Seat For Your Child

May 22, 2018: NSW Government
The NSW Government and NRMA have released new safety ratings to help parents choose the safest car seat for their child. 

Thirteen child car seats were tested in three simulated crash tests to measure crash protection performance and ease-of-correct-use.

The Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) assesses the crash protection performance of car seats using three simulated crash tests:
  • Frontal impact test – This test simulates a situation where a correctly restrained child is involved in a head-on crash with another car of similar mass travelling at the same speed. The car seat is evaluated in term of its ability to retain the dummy's head and torso, minimise the forward and upward motions of the dummy's head, manage the crash energy, maintain the car seat's structural integrity, and ensure the harness buckle is still working properly after the test.
  • Side impact test – The simulates a situation where a correctly restrained child in a car is struck from the side (90 degrees) by another car of similar mass. The car seat is evaluated in term of its ability to retain the dummy’s head and torso and maintain the car seat's structural integrity.
  • Oblique impact test – The test simulates a situation where a correctly restrained child in a car is struck at an angle (66 degrees) by another car of similar mass. The car seat is evaluated in term of its ability to retain the dummy’s head and torso and maintain the car seat's structural integrity.
The CREP also considers how easy it is to use child car seats correctly by assessing the following five features individually:
  • packaging
  • instructions
  • labels
  • securing and releasing the child
  • securing and releasing the car seat within the vehicle (not used for booster ratings).
While all seats tested comply with Australian Standards, there is a vast difference in the quality of protection they offer, as indicated in the table below.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the new star ratings will help to remove confusion for parents.

“Every parent wants the best for their kids,” Ms Pavey said.

"This new star system will make that decision straight forward,” Ms Pavey said.

Learn more about the testing and rating system, and find restraint fitting stations across NSW

Funding Applications Open For Veterans' Health Week 2018

May 23, 2018: The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
NUTRITION will be the theme for this year's Veterans' Health Week with funding for applications to support events highlighting the week now open for ex-service organisations (ESOs) and community groups.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester said Veterans' Health Week in September was a fantastic opportunity for ESOs and community groups to positively engage with veterans in their communities and promote the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

"Nutrition plays a big part in being healthy and we know that it leads to improved wellbeing and is a part of achieving better lifestyle outcomes," Mr Chester said.

"Funding is available to support the development and delivery of Veterans' Health Week events and can include great initiatives like information sessions with dieticians and nutritionists, supermarket and grocery tours or learning more about food labels."

Mr Chester said organisations that provide ongoing support, engagement and information to the veteran and ex-service community are vital to the success of Veterans' Health Week.

"Any ESO or community group with a link to the broader veteran community is eligible to apply and encouraged to partner with other organisations that promote healthy, active and engaged lifestyles," Mr Chester said.

"Think outside the square and get creative, activities like cooking and sharing a meal are also a great way to learn new skills, meet people, share recipes and try fresh and healthy food options."

This year, Veterans' Health Week runs from Saturday, 22 September, to Sunday, 30 September 2018. Applications for funding close on 29 June 2018.

The Veterans' Health Week funding application form, resource guide and other documentation to assist event organisers are now available on the DVA website: 

New Laws On Cosmetic Procedures Passed In NSW

May 23, 2018: The Hon. Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Health
People having a cosmetic procedure or treatment including Botox and dermal fillers will be better protected under strengthened legislation that has passed NSW Parliament.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the legislation could see shady operators fined as much as $110,000 for breaches of the regulatory requirements that put clients at risk.

“After the death of Jean Huang at a Sydney beauty clinic last year, I directed the Ministry of Health to scrutinise similar clinics and what was found was very concerning,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Despite NSW having some of the strongest laws in the country to regulate cosmetic surgery, unsafe practices were taking place and unapproved products being used.

“The new laws will help ensure medicines used in cosmetic treatments are administered safely and anyone performing a high-risk procedure must do so in a licensed facility.”

Under the new legislation, anyone who performs high-risk procedures or treatments, such as a breast augmentation, in an unlicensed facility faces a fine of $55,000.

The Bill amends the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act to create a new classification for medicines used in cosmetic procedures, such as botulinum toxin and dermal fillers.

“There will be tailored rules around the storage, access and use of cosmetic medicines that could see lax operators find as much as $110,000, Mr Hazzard said.
He added even with the passing of this Bill, consumers are still urged to be cautious. “Remember that no cosmetic procedure is risk-free. Do your research and check that
your practitioner is legitimate.

“If a person claims to be a doctor or nurse, you can search the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website to check they’re registered.”

Mr Hazzard raised the issue of protecting the title “cosmetic surgeon” at the COAG Health Council at the end of last year and it is expected that this issue will be consulted on in the second half of the year.

Palliative Care Survey Results Revealed

May 20, 2018: NSW Health
NSW Health today released findings from a NSW Government survey which sought community views on how local palliative care needs can best be met.
Coinciding with the launch of National Palliative Care Week (20-26 May) in Sydney today, NSW Health Deputy Secretary Dr Nigel Lyons said the Palliative Care Survey attracted 2,000 responses, which will be used to develop an End of Life Framework for NSW.
“The responses show overwhelming support for priorities that were identified through roundtable meetings and consultation workshops the NSW Government held last year, including calls for a more skilled workforce and patient-centred care,” Dr Lyons said.
In 2017, Minister for Health Brad Hazzard and Parliamentary Secretary Leslie Williams conducted 10 roundtable meetings and two consultation workshops around NSW, involving community and health professionals, to identify priorities for palliative care. Communities were then given further opportunity to provide feedback through the survey.
“NSW Health is absolutely committed to providing a palliative care system that meets the needs of those who are directly impacted – patients, carers, families and clinicians,” Dr Lyons said.
“Our top priority is to increase access to palliative care services across regional, rural and metropolitan areas and expand the choices available to people at the end of their lives.
“Palliative Care Week is an opportunity to focus on what matters most to people at the end of life and look at how we can continue working with organisations such as Palliative Care NSW to support patients and volunteers.”
The NSW Government has increased palliative care funding to record levels, investing an additional $100 million over four years in 2017-18 on top of the $210 million spent on palliative care services each year.
The Palliative Care Survey report outcomes can be viewed on the NSW Health website

Expanding Essential Services For Veterans And Their Families

May 24, 2018: The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
VETERANS and their families will have greater access to essential services with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester introducing the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Veteran-Centric Reforms No. 2) Bill 2018 (VCR Bill) today.

“The measures introduced today will continue to ensure veterans and their families get the services and support they need,” Mr Chester said.

“As a government we are determined to put veterans and their families first.

“Mental health continues to be a big issue in communities throughout the country and we provide free mental health care to anyone who has served for one day in the Australian Defence Force. We will be establishing a new Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot to deliver intensive and assertive management services to veterans following an attempted suicide or to those at significant risk of suicide. 

“This pilot is about linking non-government and government support services to support vulnerable veterans’ and their families and will be offered at nine public and private hospitals in Brisbane.

“We want to encourage and support those studying with a view to getting them back into the workforce. This is why we will remove the reduction in the amount of incapacity payment which normally occurs after 45 weeks for those undertaking approved full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan. This will mean veterans can focus on their study without having to worry about changes to their financial situation.”

The Bill will also enable the grandchildren of Vietnam veterans to be eligible to receive financial support to further their education through the Long Tan Bursary Scheme.

“We will continue to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served our country in Vietnam by extending this support to their grandchildren,” Mr Chester said.

“Families who have suffered the tragic loss of a partner and who are wholly dependent partners of veterans will have two years to decide how to receive the compensation in periodic payments or as a lump sum, which is an increase from the current six months.

“The loss of a loved one is life changing and an incredible challenging time for any family, this change will remove the pressure to make an immediate decision so that they can make the best choice for their needs.

“This legislation re-affirms the Turnbull Government’s commitment to put veterans and their families at the centre of everything that we do.”

Other measures in the Bill will include allowing claims for compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) to be made orally as well as in writing. This Bill will allow for some of the measures announced in the 2018-19 Budget to be implemented.

NDIS Full Scheme Agreement With NSW

May 25, 2018: Media release
Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull
Premier of NSW, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian
Australians with a disability, their families and their carers will be better off under a landmark agreement reached today between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments.

The arrangement ensures the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in NSW -  the first state to officially sign up to the full scheme.

It will deliver certainty on the long-term arrangements for the NDIS, and represents an important step in ensuring the financial sustainability of the NDIS in the future.

The agreement announced today reflects the Australian and New South Wales Governments’ shared responsibility for the NDIS and locks in arrangements for both governments to make ongoing, up-front funding contributions to the scheme.

This is a significant milestone in the delivery of one of the most important social reforms in our nation’s history. It places people at the centre of the system, and gives them choice and control over the services they receive.

This is all part of the Government’s plan for a stronger economy - delivering essential services that Australians rely on.

Today’s agreement is a fair deal, and aligns with the 2017 Productivity Commission Review of NDIS Costs. As the Productivity Commission recommended:
  • The NSW Government has agreed that its annual funding contribution to the NDIS, which exceeds $3 billion in 2018-19, will be escalated by 4 per cent per year to keep pace with population and price increases;
  • The Australian Government will pay the balance of NDIS costs in NSW, providing certainty that the NDIS will remain fully funded into the future;
  • The two governments have committed to use shared funding to establish a NDIS reserve from 1 July 2019, to provide greater flexibility to manage the sustainability of the NDIS.
The agreement will enable NSW to access $3.1 billion of DisabilityCare Australia Fund payments between 2018-19 and 2023-24.

Securing the agreement means more certainty for disability service providers in NSW. The NDIS is strengthening our economy and guaranteeing essential services by creating tens of thousands of new jobs and boosting opportunities for businesses across the country.

Over 84,000 people in NSW are already benefiting from the NDIS, including more than 16,000 people who had not previously accessed government‑funded specialist disability supports. The NDIS is expected to eventually support around 140,000 people with disability in NSW.

The Australian Government is committed to finalising agreements for NDIS full scheme arrangements with each state and territory, improving the lives of around 460,000 people with disability across Australia.

The NDIS full scheme agreement for NSW will take effect from 1 July 2018.

World Sailing Release Five-Year Strategy

May 23, 2018
At World Sailing’s Mid-Year Meeting, the world governing body of the sport released an ambitious five-year strategy 2018-2022. 

World Sailing CEO, Andy Hunt, commented, "The strategy was developed following 18 months of debate and consultation which included over 940 inputs from 88 of World Sailing’s Member National Authorities. 

"Every World Sailing MNA was invited to participate in the consultation process and we have developed 33 strategies together with measures which will allow us to easily monitor and report on the progress.

"Over the next five years, the World Sailing team will work tirelessly to deliver these strategies to enhance and grow the sport."

The Strategy is broken down into four pillars which include:
  • Inspiration and Participation - To build a strong profile and image for sailing - using our key points of difference to resonate with people and to give them a lifetime of sport. Presenting the sport in a compelling and engaging way to attract and retain a wide global fan base
  • Membership and Governance - To provide a professional and valued service to our members that enables the sport to grow in relevance and influence. To establish a governance structure within the International Federation that is simple, clear and transparent to all stakeholders
  • Sport Integrity - To create and regulate, exciting and safe competition events with fairness and integrity
  • Leadership in sport - To provide leadership to the sport through strategies that ensure its long-term sustainability and growth. To seek collaboration with partners to deliver successful implementation
Each pillar then has a clear set of detailed strategies which will provide the International Federation with direction over the next five years. In order to ensure the strategy remains on track, a series of measures will be used enabling reporting into World Sailing’s Member National Authorities and other key stakeholders.

About World Sailing
World Sailing is the world governing body for the sport of sailing, officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Founded in 1907, World Sailing's vision is for a world in which millions more people fall in love with sailing; inspired by the unique relationship between sport, technology and the forces of nature; we all work to protect the waters of the world.

World Sailing is made up of 144 Member National Authorities, the national governing bodies for sailing around the world and 117 World Sailing Class Associations.

Nation Indigenous Arts Awards Honour First Nations Artists 

May 25, 2018
The Australia Council for the Arts is set to celebrate four remarkable artists at the 11th National Indigenous Arts Awards taking place at the Sydney Opera House this weekend.

The National Indigenous Arts Awards (NIAAs) recognise the significant contribution of First Nations artists to the vibrancy of Australian arts.

The event, held on May 27th each year, coincides with the anniversary of the 1992 Mabo ruling, which recognised the rights of First Nations people as the traditional owners of their land. Wesley Enoch will MC the event, along with Australia Council Deputy Chair Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin.

The recipients of the two Red Ochre Awards for Lifetime Achievement will travel from Maningrida in the Northern Territory, and from the northern Queensland community of Aurukun. The prestigious Red Ochre Award boasts an extraordinary group of alumni who have been recognised by this award since 1993, with the addition of a second Red Ochre in 2017. 

The Dreaming Award celebrates an inspirational young artist and gives them the opportunity to create a major body of work through mentoring and partnerships, nationally or internationally. The Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship will also be honoured at this special event, acknowledging the contributions of a leading artist and supporting them to undertake a major creative project.

Chair of the Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy Panel, Wesley Enoch, said that he and the Panel were delighted to be able to recognise these exceptional artists.

“It is so important that we support and celebrate our First Nations artists at critical moments throughout their careers. The 2018 recipients demonstrate such breadth and richness in their practice, and they represent a profound sense of cultural strength across the generations.”  

2018 National Indigenous Arts Awards recipients;
2018 Red Ochre Award (for outstanding lifetime achievement)
-  Mr John Mawurndjul, from Arnhem Land (NT)
-  Mrs Mavis Ngallametta from Aurukun community (QLD)

2018 The Dreaming Award (for an emerging artist aged 18-26 years)
-  Thomas E.S Kelly (NSW)

2018 Australia Council Fellowship (for established artists, supporting creative activity and professional development for up to two years)
-  Hetti Perkins (NSW) 

Australia Council Chair Mr Rupert Myer AO said this event and the awards are an important way to reinforce the Council’s commitment to investing in and celebrating First Nations arts.

“It is wonderful to be able to pay tribute to these extraordinary artists, and acknowledge their rich contribution to the world’s culture. Their work is vital to our cultural identity and influence, and Australians can take great pride in their achievements,” Mr Myer said.

“I congratulate the recipients of this year’s awards and particularly pay tribute to Red Ochre Award recipients, John Mawurndjul and Mavis Ngallametta. They are such deeply respected leaders who have achieved so much in Australia and internationally, helping to strengthen the visibility of Australia’s diverse First Nations art.

This year’s NIAA awards are supported in part by Australian Council staff and Board members under its workplace giving program.

Protecting Kosciuszko's Wild Horses From Culling

May 21, 2018: NSW Government
Proposed laws to recognise and protect the heritage value and cultural significance of the Snowy Mountains brumby will be introduced into the NSW Parliament in late May 2018.

Dubbed the ‘Brumbies Bill’, the proposed laws require the Minister for the Environment to prepare a heritage management plan for the brumby, which will identify areas within the Kosciuszko National Park where populations will be maintained, and set rules around brumby management.

Other proposed changes include:
  • future plans of management for Kosciuszko National Park to recognise the cultural significance of the brumby
  • the establishment of a Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel to advise the Minister of appropriate management approaches for the brumby
  • a research and monitoring program that scientifically informs future wild horse management plans
  • a brumby count to gain a more accurate assessment of brumby numbers and where they range
  • a marketing campaign to promote re-homing and adoption of brumbies that need to be removed from the park.
Following a two-year study that found the environmental impacts of the horse riding on set tracks were minimal, Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton has already approved horse riding in four national parks – Kosciuszko, Deua, Monga, and Mummel Gulf. Final arrangements should be ready by December 2018 when the formal consultation process and amended plans of management are complete.

NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the proposed laws will finally end years of speculation around the culling of one of Australia’s national icons.

“Wild brumbies have been roaming the Australian alps for almost 200 years and are part of the cultural fabric and folklore of the high country,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The heritage management plan will specifically prohibit lethal culling of the brumby, aerial or otherwise, and will identify those areas in the park where brumbies can roam without causing significant environmental harm,” Mr Barilaro said.

“If brumbies are found in highly-sensitive alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park, resources will be allocated towards relocation first, followed by re-homing, should population numbers grow too high.

“Kosciuszko National Park exists to protect the unique environment of the Snowy Mountains, and that unique environment includes wild brumbies,” he said.

New Pet Register To Improve Animal Welfare

May 21, 2018: NSW Government
A new pet register will be launched in late 2018 which will allow pet owners to access critical information on the animal they plan to purchase.
Under new laws that will be introduced to NSW Parliament this week, families will be provided with more information about the animal and the breeder selling it.

The register would allow people to search for the microchip number and find the pet’s breed, age, registration and whether or not it has been de-sexed.

Breeders selling or people giving away dogs and cats will be required to include a relevant identifying number in all advertisements – either a microchip number, a breeder identification number or a rehoming body number.

Penalties will apply for not advertising or falsifying an identity number. Exemptions will apply for animals under 12 weeks of age and for working dogs that are not required to be microchipped.

Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton said the register would go a long way to make sure families are fully informed on the history of their new pet.

“We know just how important animals are in the family home and we want to make sure that people can easily access information to ensure their pet has been well looked after,” Ms Upton said.

Breeder identification numbers will continue to be available for free through the register.

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