Inbox and Environment News: Issue 362

June 3 - 9, 2018: Issue 362

Eco Schools Grants

The Eco Schools Program is now open to applications and will close on 3pm Monday 18 June 2018.

To fund environmental management projects that assist schools with environmental learning opportunities for students, teachers and the school community.  Eco Schools’ projects provide hands-on curriculum-based environmental education focussing on strong student participation.

Funding available
Eighty individual grants of $3500, with a total of $280,000 available to schools.

Who can apply?
All registered schools in NSW are eligible to apply. Projects working primarily with students with special needs are encouraged.

The program will fund environmental management projects aimed at achieving the following objectives.

Objective 1
Environmental benefits

Enabling schools to promote more efficient resource use and improve the quality of the local environment.

Objective 2
Student participation

To promote the development of knowledge, values and behaviour in students that supports environmental sustainability.

Objective 3
Teacher engagement

To assist teachers to access targeted professional learning, and to assist with integrating environmental management into curriculum delivery.

Objective 4
Managing for sustainability in school and the community

To encourage schools and the community to explore opportunities for working together for sustainability outcomes.

Best practice examples, tips and resources
A collection of examples, tips and resources based on previous Eco Schools grant successes are available to help you develop your project idea. Links to relevant pages can be found on the Eco Schools Resources page.

Indicative costs are also available to provide an idea of how much your project may cost.

Japan Kills 122 Pregnant Whales In Southern Ocean

May 29, 2018  Humane Society International Australia 
Humane Society International has today expressed its outrage that 122 pregnant female whales were killed this year in the Southern Ocean as part of Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling program ‘NEWREP-A’. This information was contained in newly published meeting papers   from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Scientific Committee meeting held in Slovenia in May.

The results show that of the 333 Antarctic minke whales killed this year, 181 were females. 122 or 67% of these females were pregnant and 53 or 29% were immature animals.

“The killing of 122 pregnant whales is a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan’s whale hunt. It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs,” said Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager at Humane Society International.

Despite condemnation by the international community and the International Court of Justice, the highest court on the planet, which ruled in 2014 that Japan’s ‘JARPA II’ Antarctic whaling program was illegal and must stop, Japan re-badged its whaling program and sent its whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean for its annual whale hunt in 2015. In a blatant attempt to protect itself from further legal challenge, Japan has withdrawn its recognition of the International Court of Justice as an arbiter of disputes over whales.

“Whales are already facing substantial threats including bycatch in fisheries and marine pollution. Significant conservation efforts are underway worldwide to address these issues, so the least Japan could do is put away the harpoons.

“The continued killing of any whales is abhorrent to modern society, but these new figures make it even more shocking. We look forward to Australia and other pro-conservation countries sending the strongest possible message to Japan that it should stop its lethal whaling programs,” concluded Ms Wellbelove.

The next meeting of the International Whaling Commission is in September in Brazil.

Japan's ultimate goal is the resumption of commercial whaling. The government insists that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture, even though most Japanese people no longer eat it.

The Australian chapter of Humane Society International expressed outrage over the new figures and called on the Australian government to intervene.

Conservation organization Sea Shepherd has long opposed Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and has sent ships since 2005 to intercept the hunts. The group, however, did not send ships this year. Founder Captain Paul Watson told Australian Broadcasting Corp in August that Japan is "using military technology. They have real-time satellite coverage of where we are. We cannot close in on them."
"It's a waste of time and money to go down there and not be able to achieve anything," he added.

In November, Sea Shepherd released a grisly and unsettling video of a Japanese whaling fleet hunting in the Antarctic Ocean in an Australian whale sanctuary. The Australian government obtained footage of the hunt in 2008 but suppressed its release over diplomatic concerns with Japan. Sea Shepherd was only able to publicly release the film after winning a five-year Freedom of Information battle that began in 2012.

Minke whale

Giving Our Native Fish A Helping Hand Before Winter

May 31, 2018: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
Important native fish in the Peel River near Tamworth, including the iconic Murray cod and the threatened freshwater catfish, will enjoy a flush of fresh food washed in from the proposed release of water for the environment from Chaffey Dam in early June.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office have worked with specialists from the Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) to design a flow that will improve food supply and provide much needed nourishment and movement opportunities for native fish coming into winter.

"Regulation of the Peel River has meant we aren't seeing as many of the small fresh flows which would have occurred naturally," said Jody Swirepik, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

"The release will provide a low flow important for supporting populations of native fish," Ms Swirepik said.

The release will occur over 14 days and will see the flow of the Peel River below Chaffey Dam peak at 750 ML/day for 2 days.

OEH Senior Wetlands and Rivers Conservation Officer Paul Keyte said a pulse of water for the environment is needed to wash organic matter off the low in-channel bars into the river system.

"Once these nutrients get into the channel it will be converted to food," said Mr Keyte.

"Coming into winter, this food drop will improve the health and condition of native fish, which we know increases their success for breeding in spring. The flow will also allow fish to move throughout the river system and find more suitable homes, including deeper pools, logs and aquatic vegetation."

The final volume of 3870 ML for the delivery was determined with advice from the community, ecologists and fish experts as the minimum needed to ensure these important environmental outcomes are met.

Rachel Connell, Executive Director Water, NSW Department of Industry said these types of environmental flows provide benefits that improve riverine health, habitat, replenish residual pools and support native fish communities along the river system.

"This release demonstrates cooperation through all levels of government and an integrated water management that achieves whole-of-system outcomes," said Ms Connell.

WaterNSW will send notifications to its customers advising when the flow will commence.

Scientific Assessment To Protect Hunter Water Resources

June 1, 2018: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Australian Government today released important research to help protect water resources in the Hunter Region of New South Wales.

The scientists assessed the potential for changes in groundwater and surface water due to coal mining and coal seam gas extraction. The Government has invested more than $90 million to understand the risks associated with these activities.

Wherever possible, we want to encourage investment in our resources — providing much needed jobs for our regional communities. But not at the risk to the environment and the communities that rely on our water.

That's why we've invested in this research. We need strong scientific evidence to be able to make the best decisions in relation to mining activities and mitigate any impacts they may have.

The Hunter bioregional assessment considered the impacts associated with 22 potential new coal mining projects.

My Department will work with proponents of any new projects in the Hunter to understand any impacts before any project is approved.

Further information on the bioregional assessment program and the completed assessments can be found on

FOI Win Reveals NSW Offsets Policy Fails To Meet National Environmental Standards – But Was Accredited Anyway

Media Release - EDO NSW
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO NSW), representing Humane Society International Australia (HSI), has successfully argued the public has a right to know that the Australian Government decided to accredit the NSW land-clearing offsets policy despite concerns it failed to meet national environmental standards.

Documents released under Freedom of Information law (FOI) show that the Australian Government identified significant areas where the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects, which assesses whether and on what basis projects can undertake broadscale land clearing, failed to meet the environmental standards of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999(EPBC Act).

Despite this, the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment agreed to accredit the NSW policy, allowing projects that impact on threatened plants and animals to be assessed under the lesser standard.

The objective of FOI legislation is to promote better-informed decision-making by increasing scrutiny and discussion of Government activities. Despite this clear mandate to make important information available to the public, HSI, a not-for-profit environmental organisation, faced an unnecessarily drawn-out legal process in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, as the Department of the Environment continued to object to the release of information.

David Morris, CEO of EDO NSW, stated: “It is appalling that the Australian Government put our client, HSI, through more than two years of litigation, only to release all the documents requested.”

“EDO NSW will always fight, as long and as hard as necessary, to advance the interests of our clients, who in this case were seeking to uphold crucial democratic rights which ensure transparency of government decision-making.”

Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager at HSI, stated: “This is a major victory for freedom of information, one that shows the serious implications for handing over environmental decision making to the States and Territories. The Australian public has a right to know why the Federal Government gave the go-ahead to a policy that it had itself identified as not meeting national environmental standards. Humane Society International is grateful for the strong representation we received from the EDO in this important case.”

Biodiversity offsets allow developers to buy or manage land elsewhere, or pay money into a fund, to compensate for the clearing of forests and areas containing threatened plants and animals.

Expert scientific and legal analysis clearly showed that the NSW offsets policy provides weaker environmental protection than required under national environment laws. This finding is supported by the more than 60 documents eventually released through these proceedings.

“The documents show the Department of the Environment expressed significant concerns about whether the NSW offsets policy would achieve adequate environmental protection for our nationally threatened plants and animals. Despite these concerns, the policy was accredited and a large number of projects in NSW, both recently approved and currently being assessed, continue to rely on that policy to justify land clearing,” David Morris of EDO NSW said.

More detail:

The released documents showed that in assessing the NSW policy, the Australian Government identified significant inconsistencies between the draft NSW policy and the EPBC standards.

Most notably these included that the NSW policy:
  • in its draft form, allowed the developer’s offset requirement to be discounted where the NSW Government considers that requiring appropriate offsets may cause a project to be unviable and the project is of significant social and/or economic benefit to the State (in the final version, social and/economic benefits may be a ‘matter for further consideration,’ which allows approval of a project that would otherwise be refused due to unacceptable biodiversity impacts);
  • allows rehabilitation of mine sites post-mining to count towards a developer’s offset requirement. This is not currently permitted under the EPBC standards and the Commonwealth considered that mine site rehabilitation should normally be considered a mitigation measure rather than an offset;
  • does not adequately consider the risk of relying on offsets to protect biodiversity;
  • allows for a time lag between an impact occurring and the related offset being established, which could potentially be significant;
  • permits a much greater use of supplementary measures (e.g. funding for research) if direct offsets cannot be found than allowed under EPBC standards;
  • in its draft form, did not require offsets to be ‘like-for-like’ under all circumstances (although this was changed in the final policy to require ‘like-for-like’ for EPBC-listed species and ecological communities).
The documents also included a number of case studies that calculate the offsets required under the draft NSW policy against the offsets required under the previous offset policy. These show that overall, less offset areas are required under the new policy than under previous ones.

Coral Sea Is A “Hawksbill Highway” For Critically Endangered Turtles

30 May 2018: WWF
New satellite tracking has confirmed that critically endangered hawksbill turtles use the Coral Sea as their highway to travel from Papua New Guinea to the Great Barrier Reef.

It adds to mounting concern over the federal government’s draft plans to reduce the Coral Sea’s protected areas by 50%.

The satellite tracking information is part of the “Bring Back the Bills (PDF 1.8MB)” project* to arrest the alarming decline of hawksbills across the Indo-Pacific region.

Millions of hawksbills were killed for their shells, prior to a worldwide ban on the tortoiseshell trade, and the species has never properly recovered. 

The northern Great Barrier Reef lagoon was thought to have one of the few remaining large populations but it is endangered and slowly declining.

Anecdotal evidence suggests PNG’s hawksbill numbers are also in decline.

A research trip to the Conflict Group of Islands (29/12/2017 – 12/1/2018) aimed to learn more about PNG’s hawksbills and their relationship to the north-east Australian stock.

The expedition was a partnership between WWF-Australia, the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), local Milne Bay Province community turtle monitors and the newly established Conflict Island Conservation Initiative (CICI).

Satellite trackers were attached to 10 hawksbills nesting in the Conflict Group of Islands, to discover their migration paths and location of their foraging grounds.

Genetic samples were taken and these will be analysed in coming months to learn if the PNG and NE Australian stocks are related.

Christine Hof, WWF-Australia’s marine scientist and USC’s PhD researcher, said hawksbills are a protected species in Australia but not PNG.

“Hawksbills must be afforded protection across borders at their nesting beaches and feeding grounds, and along their entire migratory path if they are to recover,” Ms Hof said.

It was hoped that because of its remoteness, the Conflict Group of Islands could be a stronghold for hawksbills.

But monitoring by CICI showed that from 2 November to 10 January, of the 352 turtles that attempted to nest in the Conflict Group of Islands, only 33 (fewer than 10%) were hawksbills.

In this isolated region, turtles and their eggs have long been harvested for food and to trade for other items. It’s also feared the shell ends up in the black-market tortoiseshell trade.

CICI turtle monitors rescued four hawksbills from poachers in December.

The Conflict Group of Islands are owned by Australian millionaire Ian Gowrie-Smith.

“My aim is to garner the cooperation of the local communities by way of education, illustration and financial income alternatives to become an iconic illustration of what community-based conservation can achieve,” Mr Gowrie-Smith said.

“I recognise the enormous ecological importance of the islands and wish to preserve it for all our future generations,” he said.

Apart from poaching of turtles and their eggs, threats include capture in fishing gear, marine debris, and climate change impacts.

Sea level rise, caused by climate change, can make nesting beaches inaccessible or can drown eggs.

Climate change can also harm foraging habitat and make sand so hot that nests fatally overheat.

Tree trunks – thought to drift around PNG waters from local harvesting or logging activity – also wash ashore and block turtles attempting to nest.

This season, CICI said turtles struggled with some beaches badly eroded by strong trade winds. Then a nearby cyclone whipped up large waves which destroyed many nests on Panasesa and Irai Islands.

*Collaborative project partners of the Bring Back the Bills project include WWF-Australia, USC, local Milne Bay community turtle monitors, CICI, and its volunteers.

The field trip and satellite trackers were supported by WWF-Australia, Isaacson Davis Foundation, USC and Reef HQ Aquarium Turtle Hospital.

A hawksbill turtle swimming through a reef, Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea © Jürgen Freund / WWF

Scientifically-Based Wetland Restoration On A Grand Scale

May 29, 2018: Deborah Smith, UNSW
UNSW scientists are members of a consortium chosen by the NSW Government to restore one of the most important wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin – the Nimmie-Caira system of the Lowbidgee wetlands on the Murrumbidgee River system.

The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Niall Blair MLC, has announced that a consortium led by The Nature Conservancy and including the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science was the successful proponent for future stewardship of Nimmie-Caira – an 85,000 hectare area of Murrumbidgee floodplain in southern NSW.

The consortium also includes the Nari Nari Tribal Council and the Murray-Darling Wetlands Working Group.

“Nimmie-Caira is a magnificent ecosystem, with outstanding biodiversity,” says UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science Director Professor Richard Kingsford, who carried out much of the original science highlighting the international significance of Nimmie-Caira’s wetlands.

“We are extremely excited to be part of this vital, high-impact restoration project, which involves environmental conservation, collaboration with local Aboriginal communities, as well as sustainable development and agricultural production.”

The Australian and NSW Governments originally bought back the land and water rights for this extensive wetland, including 11 farms and their water rights along the Murrumbidgee, in 2013 in a project costing $180 million. This was the largest water buyback under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, designed to return 137 gigalitres of water a year to the wetlands.

Under the management scheme to be implemented by the consortium, commercial activities such as low impact grazing, tourism and carbon farming will boost the local economy around Hay and Balranald. Commercial proceeds will be reinvested in environmental works to protect habitats for threatened animals and plants, such as the Southern Bell Frog, Mossgiel Daisy and Australasian Bittern.

The Nari Nari Tribal Council will play a critical role in the management of the property, providing new opportunities for Indigenous employment, improved health, education and reconnection to country.

Professor Kingsford, who has worked closely with state and federal governments and the local people in the region, says the restoration of Nimmie-Caira provides an unparalleled chance to learn how best to manage environmental flows in the Murray-Darling Basin.

“We can potentially manipulate large volumes of environmental flow and study how native fish respond, the impact on waterbird breeding and on the re-establishment of flood-dependent vegetation,” he says.

Dr Kate Brandis, a Research Fellow with the Centre for Ecosystem Science, says: “Nimmie-Caira is one of the more important sites in Australia for the breeding of colonial waterbirds, such as Straw-necked Ibis, Royal Spoonbills and cormorants. These species need large floods to trigger breeding.”

Professor Kingsford says the kind of partnership represented by the consortium offers great opportunities for improving the effectiveness of conservation efforts.

“I am looking forward to implementing clear goals and measuring key objectives, so we can track our successes and failures in restoring this great part of NSW.”

GWI Experts Weigh In On Water Policy

29 May 2018
UNSW-GWI experts on ecosystems and water law have made three submissions recently in response to two significant consultations being undertaken by Australian State Governments.

The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission was established by the Government of South Australia in January 2018 to investigate the operations and effectiveness of the Murray-Darling Basin system. The Commission invited submissions from a range of people and groups with information to contribute to the inquiry.

Murray Darling Basin. photo by UNSW Global Water Institute 

Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science, and Associate Professor Cameron Holley, from the UNSW Faculty of Law, each provided a submission commenting on some of the key challenges identified in the Commission’s terms of reference, which includes identifying whether the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the Water Act 2007 are likely to achieve what they were designed to do.

Prof Kingsford’s submission proposes that the goal to restore rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin remains vulnerable to policy and management shifts that favour irrigation over other socio-economic sectors and environmental health goals—thus undermining the objectives and outcomes of the Water Act, the Basin Plan and the intended environmental outcomes.

To support his claims, Kingsford’s submission describes five main policy and management concerns relating to implementation of the Basin Plan: the ongoing reductions in the volume of environmental flow; a lack of transparency in accounting and auditing of water use with inadequate compliance efforts; inadequate use of scientific evidence and technology; the need for improved focus for planning and management on the whole river system; and an absence of punitive measures available for the Australian Government to hold States to account for inadequately implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

substantial improvements to compliance and enforcement are needed, because no matter how many novel governance tools are designed, it will all be insufficient if compliance and enforcement is inadequate or absent. - A/Prof Cameron Holley, UNSW Faculty of Law

Associate Professor Cameron Holley from the UNSW Faculty of Law also provided a submission to the Royal Commission in collaboration with Associate Professor Darren Sinclair from the University of Canberra, Dr Tariro Mutongwizo, Postdoctoral Fellow at UNSW Sydney and Amelia Brown, Research Assistant at UNSW Sydney.

This submission was concerned primarily with issues of compliance, enforcement, monitoring and metering. A/Prof Holley and colleagues state that the current design and implementation of water law and regulation does not appear sufficient to meet future water challenges, particularly in the face of climate change.

It highlights the challenge of ensuring that non-urban water users abide by their individual conditions and extraction limits, and details four key recommendations: supporting and implementing water compliance and enforcement; educating water users; improving monitoring and metering in water markets; and rebuilding and intensifying system wide monitoring and benchmarking.

Holley’s submission states that “…substantial improvements to compliance and enforcement are needed, because no matter how many novel governance tools are designed, it will all be insufficient if compliance and enforcement is inadequate or absent.”

Recently, Prof Kingsford also provided a submission to the consultation papers for Implementing the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy and Better Management of Environmental Water.

Kingsford’s submission states that implementation and management policies currently proposed in the two consultation papers have major risks and inconsistencies, and do not adequately reflect the inquiries and criticisms of water management in NSW—nor do they consider the current evidence base or technology needed for tracking water use.

The submission describes the risks of making policy decisions that may exacerbate impacts on Ramsar-listed wetlands and downstream users and lists some recommendations for consideration.

To view the full submissions, please use the links below.

Warming Climate Could Threaten Regeneration After Bushfires

May 30, 2018: University of Tasmania
Regeneration after bushfires could be compromised by climate change, new research shows.

Scientists from the University of Tasmania’s School of Natural Sciences looked at how certain chemicals, produced by bushfires and crucial to stimulating new plant growth, respond to warming temperatures. In particular, researchers studied karrikins, which are among the most important group of chemicals which stimulate the germination of seeds of many types of plants following a bushfire.

Professor Steven Smith and Dr Lu Wang found karrikins will only stimulate seed germination under conditions which favour seedling growth and establishment.

Using the study species Arabidopsis thaliana (also known as thale cress), Dr Wang found that if the temperature is too high, or if the seed experiences water deficit during exposure to karrikins, seed germination is inhibited rather than stimulated.

“Despite the scenes of blackened landscapes following bushfires, we know that new plant growth will soon emerge and that before too long the green landscape will return,” Professor Smith said.

“Our study found that even a few degrees above the optimum germination temperatures, karrikins can inhibit seed germination.

“If this discovery holds true for fire-following species more broadly, it could point to serious consequences for landscape recovery after bushfires as we experience more frequent warm periods due to climate change.”

Professor Smith’s latest findings build on his pioneering research in the field, as it was his team who originally discovered the mechanism by which chemicals, produced by bushfires, stimulate germination of dormant seeds.

“We might find that landscapes experiencing warmer weather following a bushfire, might show poor seed germination and reduced species diversity, resulting in less effective landscape regeneration,” Professor Smith said.

“These findings argue for further research to determine the impact of this response of seeds to karrikins in natural environments, and to find ways to better manage regeneration after fires.”

The research paper, ‘Karrikin-KA12 signalling provides Arabidopsis seeds with tolerance to abiotic stress and inhibits germination under conditions unfavourable to seedling establishment’, was published in the prestigious journal New Phytologist.

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

Refusal Of Christmas Island Phosphate Exploration

May 31, 2018: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Government has decided not to approve Phosphate Resources Limited's exploration program on Christmas Island because it is likely to have significant and unacceptable impacts on matters protected under national environment law.

The decision follows a rigorous and comprehensive assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including the consideration of the social and economic benefits of the proposal as well as comments received on the proposed decision from relevant Ministers and from Phosphate Resources Limited.

The Government's decision reflects the fact that Christmas Island is a unique and irreplaceable environment. The Island was uninhabited until the late 19th century which allowed many species to evolve without human interference.

Christmas Island is home to many unique and rare plants and animals. These include the millions of red crabs which migrate to the sea each year to spawn in what has been called one of the wonders of the natural world.

Environmental damage on small islands has a far greater impact because of its limited capacity to recover from declines in biodiversity caused by the cumulative effects of land clearing, habitat fragmentation and invasive species compared to large land masses.

While there has been some mineral extraction dating back some 100 years, the Government has determined that this particular proposal is likely to have unacceptable impacts on the environment of Christmas Island, including the endangered Abbott's Booby, whose rainforest home on the Island is the only remaining nesting habitat for this bird in the world, and the endangered cave fern.

There is also a very real threat that this pattern of clearing would allow the introduction of aggressive weed species with the capacity to overwhelm native vegetation and to alter the structure of the surrounding forest.

A New Analysis System Is Able To Identify Pollutants From Cosmetics In Seawater

May 29, 2018: University of Córdoba
A University of Cordoba research group has designed a method that detects the presence of pollutants in seawater in a faster and more efficient way and also at very low concentrations. Specifically, the team from Cordoba, in partnership with the University of the Balearic Islands, focused on several substances used as preservatives in soap, lotion and deodorant, which end up in the sea. Concerns about parabens and triclosan have been voiced from different sectors, and the European Commission has been monitoring these substances and limited their use. Parabens and triclosan keep bacteria and fungi from damaging shampoo and toothpaste, but they become a real problem once they get to the sea, where they affect the marine ecosystem. Identifying their presence contributes to the design of measures that correct their effects. This is the idea behind the work on the system designed by the University of Cordoba.

The key to this new method based on nanotechnology is the system known as 'Lab-on-Valve,' used by the scientific community for sample analysis. More specifically, the research team led by Analytical Chemistry Professor Marisol Cárdenas has added carbon-coated titanium dioxide nanotubes to this system. To date, the use of nanomaterials in the Lab-on-Valve system was not possible before due to their tendency to aggregate in aqueous media. In this case, the University of Cordoba research group was able to synthesize nanoparticles compatible with the Lab-on-Valve system due to their easy dispersion.

The new system was recently described in the journal Analytical Chemistry. The study's primary author, University of Cordoba researcher María Teresa García Valverde, explains that "the combination of the Lab-on-valve system, titanium nanotubes modified with amorphous carbon as phase extraction and the measuring tool connected to the system, allows for quantifying parabens and triclosan at very low concentrations." For the most part, these pollutants come from personal hygiene products such as soap, sunscreen, toothpaste and other toiletries. All of them have very negative effects on the environment.

García explained that with the Lab-on-Valve system, the nanotubes are manipulated automatically, which reduces errors in measurement and "their nanometric size makes them more efficient than other adsorbent solid materials on the market." She added, "this method is faster, more practical and more efficient."

María Teresa García-Valverde, María Rosende, Rafael Lucena, Soledad Cárdenas, Manuel Miró. Lab-on-a-Valve Mesofluidic Platform for On-Chip Handling of Carbon-Coated Titanium Dioxide Nanotubes in a Disposable Microsolid Phase-Extraction Mode. Analytical Chemistry, 2018; 90 (7): 4783 DOI:10.1021/acs.analchem.8b00158

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.'

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

Opti Tips: Sailing & Bailing

Published on 28 May 2018 by Fletcher Walters
This video is about Opti Tips Sailing & Bailing

How Far Can Your Opal Card Take You On A Sunday? 

Article by HOLLY PAYKEL, © State of New South Wales through the Office of Environment and Heritage
Harbour views, lush picnics and epic waterfalls will only set you back two dollars sixty every single Sunday - so why not get out and explore the beauties of Nature within these glorious National Parks. It's World Environment Day and World Oceans day this week, both with a focus on getting rid of plastics - so you could even do your bit in celebrating our earth and ocean by picking up a few bits of plastic should you find some along the ways.

As many now know you can Travel all day on Sundays on trains, buses, ferries and light rail and pay no more than:

$2.60 a day for Adult
$2.60 a day for Child/Youth
$2.60 a day for Concession
$2.50 a day for Gold Senior/Pensioner.

This Article outlines how to get to and enjoy seven spots within an hour or two of downtown Sydney. 

An overview of the following is provided: full article at this link. Winter is a great time to go for a stroll in the bush; it's cooler, less crowded and the air and sky are clearer - enjoy our NSW National Parks!

Nielsen Park in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs boasts all of the above, with the calm, perfect waters of Shark Beach. Relax, no actual sharks involved – you’ll be extra safe with the shark net from October through to April. Stroll down the Hermitage Foreshore Track to cop views of Shark Island and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in all their glory.

But what about those hard earned snacks? You’ve come to right place. With plenty of picnic spots to choose from along the way – Bottle and Glass Point  are the gold-class options – the world’s your oyster (BYO cheese platter).

Circular Quay to Nielsen Park
From Circular Quay, jump on the E7 Eastern Suburbs ferry to Rose Bay Wharf (about 15 minutes)
Hop on the 324 bus down New South Head Road and get off near Hopetoun Avenue (about 10 minutes)
Take the 15 minute stroll down Wentworth Road to the beach.
Alternatively, you can catch the 325 bus from Town Hall Station to Vaucluse Road near Greycliff Avenue which is a few minutes walk from the park.

Federation kiosk, Nielsen Park. Photo by Sardaka

Barrenjoey Lighthouse is sure to make you one damn proud Aussie with its epic panoramic ocean views. From 11-3pm (Sundays only), you can enjoy half-hour guided Lighthouse tours at a low five bucks. 
Throughout May – November keep your eye out for dolphins and whales jumping up to say ‘whale hello there’. To take your whale watching to the next-level, download this awesome Wild About Whales app, which includes real-time whale watching updates.
Take the L90 bus from Wynyard Station through to Beach Road near Governor Phillip Park Station in Palm Beach (should take about 90 minutes), and from there it’s about a 15 minute stroll to the start of the track.

With a huge selection of beautiful bush tracks, NSW’s Heathcote National Park is a winner. Getting there is easy – take the T4 line direct from Central station to Waterfall station and you’ll be there in an hour. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll come across the Bullawarring Walking Track; one for those with a little more experience. Along the 5.5km pathway, you’ll meet plenty of Aussie locals – like the yellow-tailed black cockatoo, eastern blue-tongue lizard and the adorable swamp wallabies – to name a few. 

Heathcote Creek, Heathcoate National Park in the Sutherland Shire. Photo by Adam.J.W.C. 

Central Station to Waterfall Station
Take the T4 Eastern Suburbs line from Central Station
Arrive at Waterfall station, walk a few minutes to the Bullawarang walking track

Blue Mountains National Park is an all-time fave for weekend antics, bursting with next-level views, rare and ancient species, iconic landmarks and heaps more.

Enjoy the historical bearings of the Red Hands Cave walking track, thought to have been used by the Darug people for thousands of years. The 8km loop trail requires some bushwalking experience and begins near the Red Hands Cave walking track carpark. Despite being painted between 500 and 1600 years ago, its extensive layers of hand prints in the earthy colours of red, orange and yellow are still vibrant as ever.
Once you’ve worked up a sweat, cool off at the swimming holes along the Blue Pool Walking Track.

If you prefer pro-level panoramic pics, the Echo Point Lookout is where it’s at. Keep on the train to Katoomba, and take a short bus trip to take in the crown jewel of Blue Mountains views: The Three Sisters. 

The Three Sisters towering above the Jamison Valley. The lighter coloured orange/yellow sections indicate fresh rock, exposed by recent erosion. Photo by Julia W/Diliff.

Central Station to Red Hands and Rock Pool
From Central Station take the direct 1 hour train on the Blue Mountains line to Glenbrook Station
Central Station to Echo Point
From Central Station take the Blue Mountains line and head to Katoomba Station
At Katoomba Station take the 686 bus which will take you straight to Echo Point

Enter Lane Cove National Park. Just 17 km from the city centre, it’s hard to believe this totally magical landscape – with its mix of eucalypt forests, casuarina woodland and saltwater wetlands – is just up the road.

There are plenty of hikes to embark on if you’re feeling spritely (the Riverside walking track circuit is 10kms or the ambitious Great North Walk clocks in at 20kms one way) but there are plenty of chill activities, too. The rowboats, canoes and pedal boats are the real star here – bring the Go-Pro and hire one out from the Lane Cove Boatshed for a bargain and guaranteed laughs.

Don’t forget to bring the snags and veg and reward yourself with a tasty BBQ. You’ll find heaps of facilities for cooking at the picnic areas peppering the park. Remember, before you embark on any walk, bring a water bottle along as there are no drinking facilities.
Keep your eye out for echidnas in Lane Cove National Park. While they’re nocturnal, they’ve been known to catch some sun rays in the warmer months.

Lane Cove River, between Macquarie Park and West Pymble. Photo by Sardaka.

Central Station to Lane Cove National Park
Take the T1 North Shore line to North Ryde, and from there it’s a about a 2km walk to the entrance.
Alternatively you can take the 610, 292, or 288 buses from Wynyard Station to Lane Cove.

This place has a stack happening, including ridiculously good whale watching (best between May and November) at Cape Solander. While you’re there, stretch those limbs and wander the beautiful Burrawang Walk, a short 1km walk full of historical goodness, including Captain Cook’s landing place. Look out for the pro surfers at “Ours” in Cape Solander – Sydney’s infamous big wave surfing spot. If the wave does make an appearance, you’ll be in for a treat as it’s considered one of the strongest, heaviest in the world. 

Since 2014, “Ours” is now home to the much anticipated annual surfing competition, Red Bull’s Cape Fear event. Onlookers watch in suspense as pro-surfers from all around the world attempt to tackle one of the world’s most dangerous waves. The wave is notorious for pounding a heavy slab of water onto a shallow, water lined reef, where those who walk away unscathed are considered lucky.

Taken from Inscription Point on the South Head region of Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Photo by Philip Terry Graham. 

Central Station to Cronulla Station
From Central Station take the T4 Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra line straight to Cronulla Station. At Cronulla Station take the 987 bus to Kurnell.

Biking, bushwalking and picnicking among a forest of Red Gums makes for an enviably unique Sunday experience. Garigal National Park’s Cascades trail, takes you past waterfalls so fresh you’ll have never felt more alive.

The trail is named for its waterfalls, rock platforms and rock pools at the junction of Middle Harbour and French’s Creek. Getting Hungry? Pause here to throw out a fishing line, and if you’re lucky enough to catch one, fry up that flathead at Davidson’s Park Picnic area (Remember you need a recreational fishing licence in NSW – apply online). Can’t get any fresher than that. (But make sure you bring some back-up tucker just in case as there are zero cafes.)

Aboriginal rock carving near Bantry Bay. Photo by Clytemnestra

Wynyard Station to Berowra
From Wynyard Station, get yourself on the North Shore train line to Berowra, followed by a 10 minute bus ride (582), then a 15 minute stroll.

It’s basically impossible to get anything for less than $2.60 on a Sunday; coffee, ice cream, an avocado. The list goes on. But what you can do is have a cracking day out exploring some Sydney’s best national parks, all while leaving the car at home. What are you actually waiting for?

“This Is Me” By Keala Settle (From The Greatest Showman) - Cover By One Voice Children’s Choir

Published January 2018
Under the musical direction of Masa Fukuda, watch One Voice Children’s Choir sing, dance, and perform with special guests, BEKM and Aeris Aerial Arts. 

One Voice Children’s Choir is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in Utah, USA. The vision statement of the choir is, “through music, we inspire, enrich, uplift, and serve our global community, while building youth as One Voice.”

BEKM, is a Utah-based band made up of five young award-winning musicians ranging in age from 9 to 15 and led by One Voice Children’s Choir member, Easton Shane. The band formed in 2016 and covers a blend of rock, pop, funk and blues that spans decades. BEKM delivers a youthful, energetic and infectious sound filled with optimism, passion, and intent. 

Lead Guitar: Easton Shane, 14 
Piano: Emily Faith Paxman, 15 
Bass: Eve Wilson, 14
Guitar: Max Brooks, 14
Drums: MILANA, 9 

Aeris Aerial Arts is a Utah-based circus arts organization specializing in aerial silks, aerial hoop, aerial straps, aerial hammock, flexibility and contortion, acro yoga, and hand balancing. Under the direction of Darla Davis, and as part of the Youth Circus Organization, Aeris Aerial Arts values performance opportunities, and can be seen in Sony Music Videos, Festival of Trees, The Osmond’s Wonderama, Aeris Original Cirque-Style Productions, Odyssey Dance Theater Productions, High-End Corporate Events, and more. 

Adelie Zupancic (pink hair)
Rachael Frogley (left)
Loganne Zupancic (right)

New: Free Resources From Splash And Bubbles!

The World Oceans Day people partnered with Splash and Bubbles to provide all new World Oceans Day resources for kids! 
Developed with an advisory panel of top marine biologists, digital innovators and educators, Splash and Bubbles:
  • Encourages kids ages 4 to 7 to explore the natural undersea world.
  • Focuses on themes of diversity, individuality, interconnectedness and the celebration of learning and discovery.
  • Shows the importance of taking care of the ocean.

Visit their website for videos, games and activities - :

Needed: School For Plastic Bottle Cap Mural Project

I - Eco Artist & Designer Angela van Boxtel -am looking for a school that be interested in a Plastic Bottle Cap Mural project for their school. (There will be no fee to the school and all services and materials will be included free of charge into the project.) I am looking to do a project with a local Northern Beaches School primary school as part of my educational outcome of my Artist in Residency at Kimbriki. 

I am interested in a school that already has a sustainable angle in their education program or focuses on healthy eating habits in their canteen or has a green team of parents at the school of some sort.

The fifth of June is World Environmental Day and this year the theme is focused on plastic pollution and encouraging all to make a stand to ban and diminish our plastic waste. 

My bottle cap murals focus on the issue of single use plastics and the possibilities for reuse of these plastics into fun and educational tools. 

So if you think your school would be interested then please email me with a short blurb why your school would be interested in such a project.

A while ago Pittwater Online News ran an item when Angela was collecting bottle caps for these projects. The Manly based artist is a frequent visitor to Pittwater, taking part in art projects and the summer series of ocean swims that support local surf clubs, both as a photographer and participant.

Eco Art & Designer Angela van Boxtel offers you interesting and fascinating creative projects and workshops in how to reduce waste and educate your audiences in an enticing and interactive way.

The Artist believes 'Less is more' and as such a strategy,  less waste - less costs, eventually pays for it self. 

Angela has worked with many local councils, at festivals and events and with schools and businesses.

Her creative ideas are engaging, original and ever evolving. They have captured an international following and lots of media attention over the years. 

As an Artist & Designer she works closely with environmental groups to stay on top of important issues. Her Bottle cap Murals have featured at public places and festivals such as the Blackmores Open Day, Ocean Care Day Festival, Body, Mind & Spirit Festival, and the As Sustainable as Possible Festival.

Please email her on if your school would be interested before June 1st 2018

More info on Eco Art & Design Angela van Boxtel at

A Few Words For The Week

Apparently some Readers have been missing our penchant for seeking out a string of words and sharing them as 'words for the week' in our ever evolving salute towards how what a word means can define a communication to the point of being so succinct it's poetry - as in, it's not just what we say but how we say it, or the words we choose to express something can actually transcend mere patter by inkling of deeper or higher and innate 'songs'.

Hope this satisfies that yen; Hope you all Encourage each other to be Enthusiastic about Enquiring into what's Endemic around here this week!

EN ‘in, within’ from Latin; in. Prefix forming verbs. Nouns; put in or on, go on or into. Adjectives and Nouns; cause to be in a certain state or condition. 
ENCOURAGE From Middle French encoragement, from Old Frenchencoragier + -ment, from en- (“make, put in”) + corage (“courage”), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum, from cor (“heart, daring”) + -ier, suffixed with -ment. EG; to put heart in
ENDEMIC from Greek; endemos ‘native’, from en ‘in’ + demos ‘people’. Peculiar to persons in an area. Present within an area. 
ENQUIRE from Latin; ‘in’ + quaerere ‘to seek’. To ask. To seek information by questioning. 
ENTHEOS ‘inspired, filled with God’ from Greek; from en ‘in’ (state of) + theos ‘god’. From Greek; enthousiaze in; ‘to be possessed by a god’. Translates as ‘enthusiasm’ into 20thC English. Filled with God. Ardent. Lively interest or eagerness. 

What Happens To The Plastic You Throw Away

Published by TED Ed.

We’ve all been told that we should recycle plastic bottles and containers. But what actually happens to the plastic if we just throw it away? Emma Bryce traces the life cycles of three different plastic bottles, shedding light on the dangers these disposables present to our world. 

Lesson by Emma Bryce, animation by Sharon Colman.

Prediction Method For Epileptic Seizures Developed

May 31, 2018: University of Sydney
Epileptic seizures strike with little warning and nearly one third of people living with epilepsy are resistant to treatment that controls these attacks. More than 65 million people worldwide are living with epilepsy.

Now researchers at the University of Sydney have used advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop a generalised method to predict when seizures will strike that will not require surgical implants.

Dr Omid Kavehei from the Faculty of Engineering and IT and the University of Sydney Nano Institute said: "We are on track to develop an affordable, portable and non-surgical device that will give reliable prediction of seizures for people living with treatment-resistant epilepsy."

In a paper published this month in Neural Networks, Dr Kavehei and his team have proposed a generalised, patient-specific, seizure-prediction method that can alert epilepsy sufferers within 30 minutes of the likelihood of a seizure.

Dr Kavehei said there had been remarkable advances in artificial intelligence as well as micro- and nano-electronics that have allowed the development of such systems.

"Just four years ago, you couldn't process sophisticated AI through small electronic chips. Now it is completely accessible. In five years, the possibilities will be enormous," Dr Kavehei said.

The study uses three data sets from Europe and the United States. Using that data, the team has developed a predictive algorithm with sensitivity of up to 81.4 percent and false prediction rate as low as 0.06 an hour.

"While this still leaves some uncertainty, we expect that as our access to seizure data increases, our sensitivity rates will improve," Dr Kavehei said.

Carol Ireland, chief executive of Epilepsy Action Australia, said: "Living with constant uncertainty significantly contributes to increased anxiety in people with epilepsy and their families, never knowing when the next seizure may occur.

"Even people with well controlled epilepsy have expressed their constant concern, not knowing if or when they will experience a seizure at work, school, travelling or out with friends.

"Any progress toward reliable seizure prediction will significantly impact the quality of life and freedom of choice for people living with epilepsy."

Dr Kavehei and lead author of the study, Nhan Duy Truong, used deep machine learning and data-mining techniques to develop a dynamic analytical tool that can read a patient's electroencephalogram, or EEG, data from a wearable cap or other portable device to gather EEG data.

Wearable technology could be attached to an affordable device based on the readily available Raspberry Pi technology that could give a patient a 30-minute warning and percentage likelihood of a seizure.

An alarm would be triggered between 30 and five minutes before a seizure onset, giving patients time to find a safe place, reduce stress or initiate an intervention strategy to prevent or control the seizure.

Dr Kavehei said an advantage of their system is that is unlikely to require regulatory approval, and could easily work with existing implanted systems or medical treatments.

The algorithm that Dr Kavehei and team have developed can generate optimised features for each patient. They do this using what is known as a 'convolutional neural network', that is highly attuned to noticing changes in brain activity based on EEG readings.

Other technologies being developed typically require surgical implants or rely on high levels of feature engineering for each patient. Such engineering requires an expert to develop optimised features for each prediction task.

An advantage of Dr Kavehei's methodology is that the system learns as brain patterns change, requiring minimum feature engineering. This allows for faster and more frequent updates of the information, giving patients maximum benefit from the seizure prediction algorithm.

The next step for the team is to apply the neural networks across much larger data sets of seizure information, improving sensitivity. They are also planning to develop a physical prototype to test the system clinically with partners at the University of Sydney's Westmead medical campus.

Nhan Duy Truong, Anh Duy Nguyen, Levin Kuhlmann, Mohammad Reza Bonyadi, Jiawei Yang, Samuel Ippolito, Omid Kavehei.Convolutional neural networks for seizure prediction using intracranial and scalp electroencephalogram. Neural Networks, 2018; 105: 104 DOI: 10.1016/j.neunet.2018.04.018

After 40 Years In Limbo: Styrene Is Probably Carcinogenic

May 30, 2018
"Possibly carcinogenic and should be investigated more closely." For forty years, this has been the conclusion of researchers who have been unsure of whether there is an increased risk of cancer associated with styrene. But now an impartial working group under the auspices of WHO and appointed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has upgraded the warning. Styrene is upgraded from possibly carcinogenic to probably carcinogenic for humans, and the decision is largely based on register-based studies from Aarhus together with new animal evidence.

The new announcement from the World Health Organisation will be published by IARC as a Monograph, authored by 23 handpicked researchers from around the world, including Professor Henrik Kolstad. He is professor in occupational medicine, at the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University as well as Aarhus University Hospital. He is pleased with the fact that we in Denmark are able to do something that no other country can:

"The reason for my presence in the working group is our register-based research, which is unique throughout the world, and where the most recent styrene study shows the risk of acute myeloid leukaemia, a rare form of leukemia, is doubled. Out of the more than 70,000 people included in the research project, we found 25 cases of acute myeloid leukaemia, where you would statistically expect to find 10," says Professor Henrik Kolstad with reference to the research article 'Styrene exposure and risk of lymphohematopoietic malignancies in 73,036 reinforced plastics workers', published in Epidemiology.

Another important research result is a fivefold risk for a particular type of nasal cancer following styrene exposure. This part of the study is published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine in the article 'Sinonasal adenocarcinoma following styrene exposure in the reinforced plastics industry'.

Styrene is included in synthetic rubber, some insulation materials, disposable tableware, packaging and fiberglass plastic.

In March, the 23 researchers in the WHO working group spent ten intensive working days in Lyon, where they had the task of reviewing and re-evaluating the carcinogenic risk based on the latest research on styrene exposure which includes epidemiological studies of humans together with animal experiments and what are known as mechanism studies. The latter cover cause-effect studies based on biological material.

The issue of styrene and cancer has been a priority for IARC ever since an accumulation of leukaemia cases among employees in the American synthetic rubber industry was seen in the 1970s. However, it was not possible to establish whether the American workers contracted leukaemia from handling styrene or from butadiene, a chemical, which is styrene's permanent companion in the production of synthetic rubber -- and this is where the Danish register-based studies come into the picture.

"Clearly, the best place to study the possible health effects of styrene exposure is in the reinforced plasticsindustry, where no butadiene is involved. We have therefore mapped the cancer incidence for those who worked in companies that used styrene in the production during the period 1968-2011," explains Henrik Kolstad on the background for what has ended up being the world's largest epidemiological study of styrene exposure in the reinforced plastics industry.

In the research project, PhD student Mette Skovgaard Christensen, Henrik Kolstad and their research colleagues followed 73,036 employees who during the period 1968-2011 worked in one of the 456 small and medium-sized companies in Denmark that have used styrene in the production of e.g. wind turbines or yachts.

The study has involved a comprehensive linkage of registers, where the researchers used the central business register , along with various other company registers, to identify the relevant companies and their employees. After this stage, the information was linked with the Danish Cancer Register to assess the incidence of different types of cancer among the employees compared to the general population's risk of developing the same diseases.

One of the reasons why the results carry a lot of weight with the WHO is that Kolstad and his colleagues have been able to compare the research data from the cancer patients with measurements of styrene exposure in the Danish reinforced plastics industry over time.

"That part of the study is primarily based on measurements that the Danish Working Environment Authority carried out a number of years ago, since the Danish Working Environment Authority has not carried out measurements of styrene over the past several years. Many companies take measurements, but they are not publicly available. We've requested the relevant data in anonymised form from the companies that analyse the measurements , but unfortunately, we were unable to gain access to them," says Henrik Kolstad

"This is deeply regrettable, because the fact is that good answers to important questions presupposes that we also have access to the relevant information in the future."

Henrik Kolstad emphasizes that the Danish register findings reflect the sins of the past. Significant improvements have been made to the working environments in the Danish reinforced plastics industry in recent years, but globally the problem has not been solved.

What is a monograph?
  • Monographs are impartial research reports, which assess the strength of evidence for carcinogenic effects so that individual countries have a qualified basis for legislation.
  • The reports are prepared by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is one of the WHO's expert bodies.
  • Experience shows that countries respond differently to the warnings of the monographs.
  • One example is the monograph, which recently showed that diesel exhaust can cause lung cancer. This has led to Germany forbidding the driving of older diesel cars in a number of cities. Other countries have done nothing.
  • Another example is the monograph that last year found that the herbicide glyphosate, better known as Roundup, can be carcinogenic. In California this led to requirements for special product labelling, while EU countries do not have to label Roundup as a carcinogen.
Mette Skovgaard Christensen, Jesper Medom Vestergaard, Francesco d’Amore, Jette Sønderskov Gørløv, Gunnar Toft, Cecilia Høst Ramlau-Hansen, Zara Ann Stokholm, Inge Brosbøl Iversen, Mette Schou Nissen, Henrik Albert Kolstad. Styrene Exposure and Risk of Lymphohematopoietic Malignancies in 73,036 Reinforced Plastics Workers. Epidemiology, 2018; 29 (3): 342 DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000819

New Research Institute To Transform Mathematics In Australia

May 30, 2018: University of Sydney
A new maths institute will be established at the University of Sydney thanks to a $5 million donation. Based on prestigious overseas models, it will be the first of its kind in Australia.

A new mathematics research institute at the University of Sydney will draw leading mathematicians from all over the world.

The institute – to be directed by Professor Geordie Williamson and Professor Anthony Henderson from the School of Mathematics and Statistics – will offer long-term residencies for international maths experts, offering them the chance to focus on research without the usual demands of teaching and administration.

When it opens later this year, the institute will be the first of its kind in Australia. Its researcher-in-residence model is based on international examples, such as Germany's prestigious Max Planck Institute for Mathematics.

"It will put Australia on the map as a place to do first-rate mathematics," said Williamson. "It also has the potential to have a strong effect on the research atmosphere for maths at Sydney uni. If you have a steady stream of very good mathematicians visiting, that has a real impact on the researchers here."

Williamson has first-hand experience of how a stint at an international maths institute can galvanise a researcher's work. Before returning to his native Australia in 2017 to take up a professorship at the University of Sydney, he spent five years at the Max Planck Institute.

"It makes an enormous difference to be in a position where your goal in life is to do research," he said. "It means you back yourself to try harder problems and believe in yourself a little bit more."

Williamson is internationally recognised for his contribution to representation theory – the study of linear symmetry. At 36, he was recently elected the youngest living Fellow of prestigious scientific academy, the Royal Society (excluding 35-year-old Royal Fellow Prince William). He was also recently named a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Head of the University's School of Mathematics and Statistics, Professor Jacqui Ramagge, said Williamson's involvement in the new institute would be an attraction for the world's leading mathematicians. "We are delighted to have Geordie with us," she said. "He has answered questions that very bright people have been thinking about for a very long time, and he has answered them in unexpected ways. He really wants to transform Australian mathematics. He is a man on a mission."

In addition to supporting a broad range of mathematical research, the institute will host conferences, workshops and talks for both academic and general audiences. Williamson said the institute's public outreach programs would be crucial to its work.

"The picture that the general public has of mathematics and mathematicians – I think it needs to change," he said. "Maths is becoming more and more important in all aspects of society. It would be wonderful if the public had some conception of the incredible beauty of mathematics."

The new institute is supported by a $5 million donation from the Simon Marais Foundation. Ramagge said the gift was an important contribution to a nationally significant facility, allowing more face-to-face collaboration between Australian mathematicians and their international colleagues.

"It's in that collaborative effort where the real creativity appears," she said. "Australia really needs an institute of this kind because of the tyranny of distance."

Further funding is still needed to support plans for dedicated premises and facilities including a seminar room with a sound-proof viewing room for parents with young children.

$100 Million For Myall Lakes Road Upgrades

May 31, 2018: NSW Government
Myall Lakes is set for a $100 million road maintenance blitz that will see more than 70 kilometres of roads fixed, as part of a partnership between the NSW Government and MidCoast Council.

The Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro, the Minister for Roads and Freight Melinda Pavey, and the Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead today announced the NSW Government would deliver $50 million in funding to significantly upgrade major roads in the Mid North Coast region.

Ms Berejiklian, who made the announcement ahead of a community cabinet meeting in Forster today, said the NSW Government’s funding would be matched by another $50 million from council.

“This significant funding injection will dramatically improve the safety and drivability of 70 kilometres worth of local roads,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Mr Barilaro said the package would include maintenance work on a number of arterial roads including Old Bar Road, The Lakes Way, Wingham Road, Gloucester Road, The Bucketts Way and Thunderbolt Way.

“I know the local community has fought long and hard for this funding, as has their local member in Stephen Bromhead who campaigned furiously for this result,” Mr Barilaro said.

Mrs Pavey said 25 separate road projects across Myall Lakes would be upgraded as part of the $100 million package.

“The work will include the reconstruction of existing roads, re-sealing and the re-building of bridges throughout the region,” Ms Pavey said.

Mr Bromhead said he was thrilled to be delivering on a long-held commitment.

“Today is a big day for the people and motorists of Myall Lakes,” Mr Bromhead said.

“People who live in the region, and who pass through the region, are about to witness a transformation of our vast road network,” he said.

MidCoast Council Mayor David West said this announcement was a game changer for the MidCoast Region.

“For far too long our communities suffered as individual councils were unable to maintain our local roads, but today as one Council that all changes,” Cr West said.

“I am aware of the fight our local member Stephen Bromhead has put in for this funding and we are indebted to him and The Nationals for their commitment to our region,” he said.

Italy's Oldest Olive Oil Discovered In Peculiar Pot

May 30, 2018
Olive oil is a staple of Italian cuisine. It's been that way for thousands of years. And new chemical analysis conducted on ancient pottery proves the liquid gold has existed in Italy hundreds of years longer than what anthropologists have previously recorded.

A team of researchers lead by Davide Tanasi, PhD, assistant professor of history at the University of South Florida, carried out chemical analyses to identify the content of a large jar, found in the 90s by Giuseppe Voza during the excavations at the site of Castelluccio. Conservators at the Archaeological Museum of Siracusa restored and reassembled 400 ceramic fragments, resulting in an egg-shaped 3 ½ foot storage container adorned with rope bands and three vertical handles on each side. At the same architectural site in Castelluccio in Sicily, researchers found two fragmented basins with an internal septum, indicating it was used to keep multiple substances together, but separate, along with a large terracotta cooking plate.

"The shape of this storage container and the nearby septum was like nothing else Voza found at the site in Castelluccio," said Dr. Tanasi. "It had the signature of Sicilian tableware dated to the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE (Early Bronze Age). We wanted to learn how it was used, so we conducted chemical analysis on organic residues found inside."

In the study published in Analytical Methods, Dr. Tanasi tested the three artifacts using techniques traditionally and successfully used on archaeological pottery: Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. His team found organic residue from all three samples contained oleic and linoleic acids, signatures of olive oil. They conclude the artifacts are from the Sicilian Early Bronze Age due to their location and peculiar shapes.

"The results obtained with the three samples from Castelluccio become the first chemical evidence of the oldest olive oil in Italian prehistory, pushing back the hands of the clock for the systematic olive oil production by at least 700 years," said Tanasi.

The only known identification of chemical signatures of olive oil are from storage jars discovered in southern Italy in Cosenza and Lecce believed to be from the 12th and 11th century BCE (Copper Age).

Davide Tanasi, Enrico Greco, Radwan Ebna Noor, Stephanie Feola, Vasantha Kumar, Anita Crispino, Ioannis Gelis. 1H NMR, 1H-1H 2D TOCSY and GC-MS analyses for the identification of olive oil on Early Bronze Age pottery from Castelluccio (Noto, Italy). Analytical Methods, 2018; DOI: 10.1039/C8AY00420J

Chemical analysis conducted on ancient pottery proves olive oil existed in Italy 700 years sooner than what's previously been recorded. Credit: Polo Regionale di Siracusa per i siti e musei archeologici Museo Paolo Orsi

Protecting Places Of The Past For The Future

May 31, 2018: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
From Abbotsford Convent to Mawson's Hut, Fremantle Prison to Woolmers Estate, historic sites across Australia are set for improved conservation, restoration and promotion, thanks to funding from the Coalition Government.

Twenty four projects will share in more than $4.4 million under the Protecting National Historic Sites program, designed for historic sites listed on our National Heritage List.

"The people, movements and moments that changed Australia are captured in these historic sites – they are places where we can reflect on the past and celebrate what we are today," Minister Frydenberg said.

"This funding will give owners and managers the support they need to maintain these sites, particularly as they age, and share their stories with the community."

Examples of projects funded include:
  • $250,000 to reopen the roof of Great Melbourne Telescope, one of the great scientific instruments of the Victorian era.
  • $250,000 to improve access and inclusiveness at Hyde Park Barracks for mobility, hearing and visually impaired visitors.
  • $70,700 to repair, replace and restore the decaying timber flowing, joists, bearers and stumps at the QANTAS Hanger in Longreach, the birthplace of Australian civil aviation.
"This funding is part of the Coalition Government's ongoing commitment to preserving and sharing our nation's heritage," Minister Frydenberg said.

"Over the last six years, we have invested $32 million to support the work of owners and managers of historic places on the National Heritage List.

"In the recent budget, a new flagship national heritage program providing up to $5.3 million in grants each year was also announced."

A full list of recipients for 2017-18 is

Parramatta Light Rail Construction Underway Soon

May 30, 2018: NSW Government
Following planning approval, construction of stage one of the Parramatta Light Rail will start by the end of 2018 and services will begin in 2023. 

The NSW Government has allocated $1 billion for stage one of the Parramatta Light Rail, which will connect Westmead to Carlingford via Parramatta CBD and Camellia.

Key destinations along Parramatta Light Rail route include the Westmead Precinct, the new Western Sydney Stadium, the new Powerhouse Museum and three Western Sydney University campuses as well as brand-new communities at Camellia and Telopea.

Planning approval follows extensive consultation with the community, local businesses and major stakeholders, including Westmead Hospital, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Western Sydney University, the City of Parramatta Council, Western Sydney Business Chamber and the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce.

Construction and operation contracts will be awarded in the third quarter of 2018 and the final cost will be known once contacts are signed. 

The business case for stage two is due to be completed by late 2018. Stage two will connect the Parramatta CBD to Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this is an exciting time for the people of Parramatta and for visitors to this fantastic part of Sydney.

“Parramatta Light Rail will connect major Western Sydney precincts for the first time and make it possible for people to ‘turn up and go’ to employment, cultural, entertainment and sports destinations,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Parramatta Light Rail will create close to 5000 jobs, connect communities along the route and transform the way that people explore all the attractions that Western Sydney has to offer, with a light rail service every 7.5 minutes in peak periods."

Parramatta Light Rail is part of the NSW Government’s $80 billion infrastructure pipeline, which includes the largest transport infrastructure program in Australia with $43 billion of investment over the next four years. 

Berejiklian, Turnbull Feature As UNSW Celebrates Outstanding Alumni

May 29, 2018 by Julia Nichols, UNSW
Gladys Berejiklian and Lucy Turnbull were among high achievers honoured for their contributions to the community at the 46th annual UNSW Alumni Awards.

Ms Berejiklian and Ms Turnbull were among 11 UNSW Sydney graduates chosen for awards from a group of alumni that included renowned medical minds, entrepreneurs, and champions of diversity in sport, art and engineering.

Chancellor David Gonski and the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP
UNSW Chancellor David Gonski awards the inaugural Chancellor's Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement to the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian.

UNSW Chancellor David Gonski and UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs jointly hosted the evening at UNSW’s newly refurbished Roundhouse on Monday, with Master of Ceremonies, Jon Paparsenos, Vice-President UNSW Philanthropy, giving the welcome address.

“Tonight, we honour the incredible achievements of our growing alumni community and recognise the remarkable individuals who are utilising their education for new achievements every day,” Mr Paparsenos said.

Presenting the awards, Mr Gonski noted the pride he felt about the university’s alumni community for their commitment to changing the world. He also highlighted the difficulty of selecting just 11 outstanding alumni winners from a pool of more than 300,000 people.

In the Design and Architecture category, Ms Turnbull received an award for her longstanding achievements in cities, technological and social innovation. Accepting the award on her behalf was the inaugural recipient of the Turnbull Foundation’s Women in the Built Environment Scholarship, Dr Cathy Smith.

Paul Clitheroe, the well-known ‘money guru’, won the Business award for his outstanding contribution to the community in helping improve financial literacy.

The inaugural Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement was bestowed on Gladys Berejiklian for her demonstrated passion, commitment and resilience in her role as 45th Premier of NSW.

Many of the night’s winners remarked on how their time at UNSW had shaped their ambitions and successes, and how valuable it was to be part of a diverse and appreciated alumni community.

Henry Pan was joined at the dinner by his two daughters, who are also UNSW alumni. He said he was honoured to receive the Social Impact & Public Policy award.

“The drive for me to spend so much time volunteering actually spurns from my feelings of gratitude to the University and the Australian community for providing an opportunity for me to study,” Mr Pan said.

Professor Elizabeth Taylor reflected on her decision to study at UNSW when accepting the Engineering award.

“UNSW is an organisation that moves far beyond economic metrics, with goals for social justice and changing the world,” she said.

“My education has been a very strong foundation for my career. I am a very proud UNSW alumni and I thank UNSW for the honour they have given me tonight.”

Professor Jacobs offered congratulations to the alumni award recipients.

“I am enormously proud of the difference you have made to the lives of people here in Australia and around the world,” he said.

Attendees at the awards included the Governor of NSW, David Hurley, and state Minister for the Environment, Local Government and Heritage, Gabrielle Upton, also numbering among UNSW alumni.

2018 UNSW Alumni Awards winners
Art & Culture: Laura Jordan-Bambach, BFA 1996
An innovative digital designer and one of the world’s few female Chief Creative Officers, Laura has received much global recognition for her contributions to the creative industries, and in particular for her efforts championing diversity in the arts, having co-founded influential initiatives in support of women in creative space, including SheSays and the Great British Diversity Experiment.

Business: Paul Clitheroe AM, BA 1984
Paul has played a highly influential role on the financial literacy of Australians. Known as a ‘money guru’, he regularly provides financial advice through a range of publications and media appearances. In addition to his commercial success, Paul is Chairman of a number of financial organisations, including the Australian Government Financial Literacy board. His charity, the Clitheroe Foundation, has distributed more than $2 million in grants and scholarships.

Design & Architecture: Dr Lucy Turnbull AO, MBA 1985, HonDBus 2012
Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, and previously the first female Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Lucy is a leading businesswoman with longstanding achievements in cities, technological and social innovation. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business by UNSW in 2012, and established The Turnbull Foundation Women in Built Environment Scholarship, supporting women to join the built environment industry.

Engineering: Professor Elizabeth Taylor AO, BE 1978
Elizabeth is a celebrated ‘humanitarian engineer’ whose work has spanned design and construction, academia and volunteering. Through her work with Engineers Australia she has spearheaded many progressive initiatives in support of women in engineering, as well as ethical reviews. As Chair of the Cambodian Children’s Trust Australia and RedR she has facilitated the volunteer of experts into disaster zones to help relieve suffering.

Medicine & Health: Dr Thomas Borody, BSc (Med) 1972, MB BS 1975, MD 1984
As Director of Sydney’s Centre for Digestive Diseases, Tom has championed faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) for 25 years. Through his pioneering work manipulating the bacteria that live in the human gut, Tom has made huge strides in establishing new treatments for Crohn's disease, colitis, auto immune-diseases and neurological conditions, while reportedly preventing 18,655 premature deaths, and saving $10.03 billion in health costs in Australia alone.

Science & Technology: Saul Griffith, BMetE 1997
Saul is a multi-award winning inventor with an open approach to problem solving. Through successful startups he has invented new devices and materials such as a “smart” rope that senses its load, and a machine for making low-cost eyeglass lenses through a process inspired by a water droplet. His work supporting other innovative minds includes establishing, and co-authoring children’s comic books about building your own gadgets.

Social Impact & Public Policy: Henry Pan OAM, BE 1974
Henry is the celebrated founder of CASS, a thriving community organisation for Sydney and Wollongong that offers services and support for people with culturally diverse backgrounds. Having worked in his native Singapore as well as in Australia, he has extensive professional experience in business and project management. Thanks to Henry’s dedication and vision, today more than 2400 families engage with CASS each week.

Sports & Sports Administration: Moya Dodd, MBA (Exec) 1997
Moya is a leading legal professional and celebrated champion for women’s sport. She is a Partner at Gilbert+Tobin Lawyers, and a former Vice-Captain of Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas. Moya has been hailed as “one of the most credible and outspoken voices for change” during her time as Chair for FIFA’s Women’s Football Task Force. She was also named the seventh-most powerful woman in international sport (outside the US), by Forbes magazine.

Young Alumni: Ashik Mohamed Asafali, PhD Sci 2017
Though still quite young, Ashik has become a leading authority on Ophthalmic Biophysics, working with the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India. He has a decade of experience in basic, clinical and translational research in ophthalmology and vision sciences, working with institutes and specialists around the world to find innovative ways to restore vision. Ashik has received several awards for his research on a national and international scale.

Student Volunteer: Lokesh Sharma (fourth year medical student)
A humanitarian and student mentor, Lokesh was recognised for his committed and altruistic work as Co-Chair of the Medical Students’ Aid Project (MSAP), the global health group of the UNSW Medical Society. Lokesh led MSAP’s Gandhi Girls Project to construct 12 new toilets at a girls’ boarding school in rural India, as well as working closely on other international projects as MSAP Treasurer in 2015 and 2016.

Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement: Gladys Berejiklian, MCom 2001
This year saw the inaugural presentation of the Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement. This was granted to the NSW Premier, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP. Gladys has come to national prominence for her work in banking and public service. As the 45th Premier of NSW, Gladys has shown passion, commitment and resilience.

Global Warming Hits Poorest Hardest

May 30, 2018: University of Melbourne
The wealthiest areas of the world will experience fewer changes in local climate compared to the poorest regions if global average surface temperatures reach the 1.5°C or 2°C limit set by the Paris agreement, according to new research.

The new study, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, compares the difference between climate change impacts for wealthy and poor nations.

"The results are a stark example of the inequalities that come with global warming," said lead author Andrew King from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

"The richest countries that produced the most emissions are the least affected by heat when average temperatures climb to just 2°C, while poorer nations bear the brunt of changing local climates and the consequences that come with them."

The least affected countries include most temperate nations, with the United Kingdom coming out ahead of all others. By contrast, the worst affected are in the Equatorial regions, including countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This pattern holds true even if global average surface temperatures only reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

To get their results the researchers used a simple metric -- the signal to noise ratio. The signal in this case is the local change in average temperatures caused by climate change. The noise is how variable the temperature is for that region.

In places outside the tropics, where there is greater year-to-year variability and those locations are more well adapted to a wide range of temperatures, the warming will be less noticeable.

But in Equatorial regions, where there is already a very high average temperature and less variation through the year, a small rise in temperatures due to climate change will be distinctly felt and have immediate impacts.

This difference in experienced temperature combined with the distribution of wealth across the world, with richer nations tending to be in temperate regions and the poorer nations in the tropics, adds to the future climate change burden of developing nations.

"Economically powerful nations, who are most responsible for the emissions that led to global warming, are going to have to pick up the slack if they want to maintain economic growth in developing countries," said co-author Luke Harrington from the University of Oxford.

"It's why we need to invest in limiting the worst impacts of climate change for developing nations today. By assisting developing nations to meet these challenges we help maintain their economic stability and security into the future and by extension, our own as well."

Andrew D. King, Luke J. Harrington. The Inequality of Climate Change From 1.5 to 2°C of Global Warming. Geophysical Research Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018GL078430


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Appointment Of New Aged Care Pricing Commissioner

May 31, 2018: The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Minister for Aged Care
The Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, has appointed John Dicer as the new Aged Care Pricing Commissioner.

The office of the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner was established in 2013 to help ensure that people requiring aged care places are not over charged.

“Older Australians need to be sure that when they need residential aged care support they are paying a fair price,” Minister Wyatt said.

“I’m pleased to appoint John Dicer as Australia’s new Aged Care Pricing Commissioner.

“John brings with him broad public and private sector experience including a strong background in regulatory matters, compliance, risk management and complex pricing issues.” 

Mr Dicer has qualifications in law and economics and has held the role of General Counsel with Airservices Australia, the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Rail Access/Rail Infrastructure Corporation and the Olympic Co-ordination Authority.

“I extend my sincere thanks to Kim Cull, for her excellent service as the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner since 2013,” Minister Wyatt said.

“She focussed steadfastly on protecting consumers and standing up for the interests of older Australians.”

For more information on the work of the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner visit the Commissioner's website.

Longer Lives Demand Super Rethink

May 31, 2018: National Seniors
Australians have among the longest lifespans in the world, but are failing to plan financially for their later years, National Seniors Interim CEO Professor John McCallum said today.

National Seniors surveys over many years had consistently shown older Australians wanted regular, low-risk incomes in retirement.

“They want the equivalent of a ‘wage’ that gives them security and predictability,” Prof. McCallum told the Committee for Sustainable Retirement Incomes conference in Canberra.

“The problem they face is the limited availability of suitable financial products that meet their needs.

“The Federal Government has taken steps to put in place a retirement income framework and encourage the super industry to provide comprehensive income products for retirement (CIPRs) to help retirees manage their longevity risk. But more action is needed.”

Prof. McCallum said despite 85 per cent of older Australians being aware of their increased life expectancy, only 50 per cent had planned for it financially and only three per cent were planning to spend more in their later years when health and care costs were highest.

Underpinning this lack of action was negative views of later life and most people valuing the present more than the future.

“We need much more positive views of ageing,” Prof. McCallum said.

“Residential aged care – or nursing homes – throw dark shadows over old age – no-one wants to plan for what is a grim future.

“An over-emphasis on dementia, despite its relatively low prevalence, also focuses on the negative, so that every memory lapse is seen as a symptom.

“In reality, many more people are working longer – into their late 60s and 70s – and they are feeling an average of 10 years younger than they are. But we must want our futures to want to plan for them.

“People won’t be able to do this planning without clear direction and help.”

Prof. McCallum said more than half of respondents (56 per cent) to a National Seniors survey said ‘yes’ to the option of longevity insurance in superannuation for maintaining income past the age of 85.

“The other option was paying 10 per cent of your savings when you retire to receive income for life once you reach 85,” Prof. McCallum said.

“A total of 57 per cent of those surveyed said ‘yes’ to this, and 43 per cent said ‘no’, including 11 per cent who did not think they would live that long.

“What needs to be done is to give better options for people to fund longer lives and the motivation to do so. Even attractive options may initially need some government incentives.”

Peek At New Tower As POW Hospital Turns 160

May 30, 2018: NSW Health Minister, the Hon. Brad Hazzard
The past and future of Prince of Wales Hospital was marked today with the unveiling of a History Wall and a first glimpse at plans for the new $720 million redevelopment.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard joined Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith, to mark the hospital’s 160th anniversary and reveal designs for its new Acute Services Building.

 Today we celebrate not only the rich history of Prince of Wales Hospital but its exciting future, as it transforms into a world-class health and education hub,” Mr Hazzard said.

“This amazing new complex will house more theatres, more beds, a new intensive care unit, a new helipad, a bigger emergency department and psychiatric emergency care and plenty more.

“This important investment is also supporting greater integration of research and education across the precinct, which enables improved treatment options, a better patient experience and helps educate the health workforce of the future.”

Mr Notley-Smith said this is the first major upgrade to the hospital in 25 years, despite about 58,000 emergency department presentations and about 380,000 outpatient appointments each year.

“Labor sat on its hands for years without investing in health infrastructure in the east. This new precinct is truly futuristic healthcare for our community,” Mr Notley-Smith said.

Member for Vaucluse, Gabrielle Upton, said facilities at the new Prince of Wales Hospital, which began as the Asylum for Destitute Children, will cement its place at the cutting edge of health and research attracting the world’s best and brightest.

“Already, the Randwick precinct employs about 17,000 people and teaches 50,000 students, but this new development will make it a magnet for the most talented minds.”

The Randwick Health and Education Precinct incorporates Prince of Wales Hospital, Prince of Wales Private Hospital, Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney Children’s Hospital, University of NSW, Mental Health, NeuRA, Black Dog Institute and the Bright Alliance.

As part of the hospital’s 160th anniversary celebrations, medical staff and volunteers.

past and present, took part in a photo to recreate the original image taken in the same courtyard in 1920 when the hospital was renamed by the then Prince of Wales.

The new Acute Services Building is expected to be finished within the next four years. In the meantime, the Emergency Department is undergoing transition works to ​deliver eight new treatment spaces, expected to be operational by the end of 2018.

The redevelopment of the Randwick Health and Education precinct will include:
  • A new adult emergency department
  • More beds
  • New intensive care unit
  • New operating theatres
  • New helipad
  • An expanded Psychiatric Emergency Care (PECC)
  • A Medical Assessment Unit, including a state-of-the-art Virtual Care Centre
  • An expanded Central Sterilising Service Department
  • Education and research spaces to support clinical research and innovation; and
  • 10 new inpatient units

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