Inbox and Environment News: Issue 372

August 19 - 25, 2018: Issue 372

Discovery Casts Dark Shadow On Computer Security

August 15th, 218: CSIRO
Two international teams of security researchers have uncovered Foreshadow, a new variant of the hardware vulnerability Meltdown announced earlier in the year, that can be exploited to bypass Intel Processors' secure regions to access memory and data.

The vulnerability affects Intel's Software Guard Extension (SGX) technology, a new feature in modern Intel CPUs which allows computers to protect users' data in a secure 'fortress' even if the entire system falls under an attacker's control.

The two teams that independently and concurrently discovered Foreshadow have published a report on the vulnerability, which causes the complete collapse of the SGX ecosystem and compromises users' data.

"SGX can be used by developers to enable secure browsing to protect fingerprints used in biometric authentication, or to prevent content being downloaded from video streaming services," Dr Yuval Yarom from CSIRO's Data61 and the University of Adelaide's School of Computer Science said.

"Foreshadow compromises the confidentiality of the 'fortresses', where this sensitive information is stored and once a single fortress is breached, the whole system becomes vulnerable."

The researchers reported these findings to Intel earlier this year, and the company's own analysis into the causes of the vulnerability led to the discovery of a new variant of Foreshadow, called Foreshadow-NG which affects nearly all Intel servers used in cloud computing.

Foreshadow-NG is theoretically capable of bypassing the earlier fixes introduced to mitigate against Meltdown and Spectre, potentially re-exposing millions of computers globally to attacks. 
"The SGX feature is widely used by developers and businesses globally, and this opens them up to a data breach that can potentially affect their customers as well," Dr Yarom said.

"Intel will need to revoke the encryption keys used for authentication in millions of computers worldwide to mitigate the impact of Foreshadow.

"Intel's discovery of the Foreshadow-NG variant is even more severe but will require further research to gauge the full impact of the vulnerability."

Intel has since released patches, updates and guidelines to resolve both Foreshadow and Foreshadow-NG.

Researchers have not yet tested if similar flaws exist in processors of other manufacturers.

Adrian Turner, CEO of CSIRO's Data61, said this is a significant discovery that shows the far-reaching impact of Meltdown and Spectre and reinforces the role of research for discovering and preventing flaws.

"Experts like Dr Yarom play a vital role in finding vulnerabilities, responsibly disclosing them and developing trustworthy systems to keep critical infrastructure secure," Mr Turner said.

"Data61 has also joined the RISC-V Foundation's security task group which aims to prevent the likes of Meltdown and Spectre from occurring again."

The two teams that discovered Foreshadow include:
Jo Van Bulck, Frank Piessens, Raoul Strackx (imec-DistriNet, KU Leuven) Marina Minkin, Mark Silberstein (Technion), Ofir Weisse, Daniel Genkin, Baris Kasikci, Thomas F. Wenisch (University of Michigan), Yuval Yarom (CSIRO's Data61 and University of Adelaide)

For Australians concerned about security, more information on how to be protected can be found at: Foreshadow


August 14, 2018: CSIRO
Australia's national science agency has appointed Dr Cathy Foley to the position of CSIRO Chief Scientist - a unique role which will help champion science, its impact and contribution to the world.

Dr Foley is a world-renowned physicist and science leader most noted for her work developing superconducting devices and systems which have assisted in unearthing over $6 billion in minerals worldwide.

Dr Foley will start in the role at the end of September. She said her priority will be promoting science, STEM and women in science.

Dr Cathy Foley.

"Australia's future prosperity will be fuelled by science," Dr Foley said.

"Science which creates new industries, new jobs and shapes the minds and aspirations of our future leaders.

"We can't keep thinking about science as something which is locked away in a lab. It connects and drives everything we touch and do.

"I'm looking forward to not just spreading the word, but helping shape the science agenda and raising the profile of the role of women in STEM."

Dr Foley is currently the Deputy Director and Science Director of CSIRO's manufacturing business unit. She has been an advocate for women in science, for the communication of science and science education over the past 30 years.

She is credited with helping to create LANDTEM, a technology which uses superconductors to detect minerals deep underground. In 2015, Cathy and her team were awarded the prestigious Clunies Ross award for the innovation.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said Dr Foley was an incredible leader and scientist.

"Cathy is a great contributor, with a passion for turning excellent science into powerful solutions for Australia," he said.

"I am looking forward to seeing her make this role her own, and bringing the voice of CSIRO science to help Australia navigate a path to prosperity through global disruption."

Dr Foley was awarded a Public Service Medal on Australia Day in 2003. In the same year, she won the Eureka Prize for the promotion of science.

In 2013 she was awarded the NSW Premier's Award for Woman of the Year. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the UK, Past-President of both the Australian Institute of Physics and Science and Technology Australia that represents 65000 Australian scientists and a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and past national winner of the Telstra Business Women's Award for Innovation in 2009.

She joined the CSIRO Division of Applied Physics in 1985 as a National Research Fellow, being promoted to Senior Research Scientist in 1991, Principal Research Scientist in 1996, Senior Principal Research Scientist in 2000 and Chief Research Scientist in 2008.

Microfossils, Possibly World's Oldest, Had Biological Characteristics

August 16, 2018
Scientists have confirmed that the 3.4-billion-year-old Strelley Pool microfossils had chemical characteristics similar to modern bacteria. This all but confirms their biological origin and ranks them amongst the world's oldest microfossils. The work is presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Boston, with simultaneous publication in the peer-reviewed journal Geochemical Perspectives Letters.

A team of scientists, led by Dr Julien Alleon (IMPMC, Paris, France; and MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA) have been able to show that the chemical residuals from ancient microfossils match those of younger bacterial fossils, and so are likely to have been laid down by early life forms.

They compared the results of synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy analysis of the Strelley Pool microfossils with more recent ones from the Gunflint Formation (1.9 billion years old, found on the shores of Lake Superior, Ontario, Canada) and with modern bacteria. All showed similar absorption features, indicating that the residual chemicals were made from the same building blocks, thereby supporting a biological origin (see illustration below).

Dr Jullien Alleon said:

"There are a couple of important points which come out of this work. Firstly, we demonstrate that the elemental and molecular characteristics of these 3.4 Ga microfossils are consistent with biological remains, slightly degraded by fossilization processes. This effectively supports the biological origin of the Strelley Pool microfossils. There are competing claims over which microfossils are actually the world's oldest, this analytical strategy needs to be applied to other ancient samples to help settle the controversy.

Secondly, it is remarkable that these echoes of past life have survived the extreme conditions they have experienced over the last 3.4 billion years: we know from the molecular structure of the microfossils that they have been exposed to temperatures of up to 300 °C for long periods. And yet we are still able to see signs of their original chemistry.

This is a step forward to confirming that these are indeed the oldest fossils yet discovered."

Commenting, Professor Vickie Bennett (Australian National University) said:

"This is exciting work with the new types of analyses providing compelling evidence that the cherts contain biogenic microfossils. This is in line with other observations for early life from the Strelley Pool rocks, including stromatolites interpreted as microbial mats, and further confirming that the minimum age for life on Earth is 3.4 billion years.

The techniques used here are not applicable to the older rocks that host the claims for the oldest terrestrial life, as these rocks were exposed to much higher temperatures. These samples include the 3.7 billion year old stromatolites from Isua, Greenland and the 4.1 billion year old Canadian microfossils. However, this work shows how quickly the field is developing and that new capabilities for testing and confirming earlier evidence of life are in reach."

Journal References:

J. Alleon, S. Bernard, C. Le Guillou, O. Beyssac, K. Sugitani, F. Robert. Chemical nature of the 3.4 Ga Strelley Pool microfossils. Geochemical Perspectives Letters, 2018; 37 DOI: 10.7185/geochemlet.1817

Kenichiro Sugitani, Koichi Mimura, Tsutomu Nagaoka, Kevin Lepot, Makoto Takeuchi. Microfossil assemblage from the 3400Ma Strelley Pool Formation in the Pilbara Craton, Western Australia: Results form a new locality. Precambrian Research, 2013; 226: 59 DOI: 10.1016/j.precamres.2012.11.005

Hubble Paints Picture Of The Evolving Universe

August 16, 2018

Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe. The field features approximately 15,000 galaxies, about 12,000 of which are forming stars. Hubble's ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos' busiest star-forming period, which happened about 3 billion years after the big bang.

Ultraviolet light has been the missing piece to the cosmic puzzle. Now, combined with infrared and visible-light data from Hubble and other space and ground-based telescopes, astronomers have assembled one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the universe's evolutionary history.

The image straddles the gap between the very distant galaxies, which can only be viewed in infrared light, and closer galaxies, which can be seen across a broad spectrum. The light from distant star-forming regions in remote galaxies started out as ultraviolet. However, the expansion of the universe has shifted the light into infrared wavelengths. By comparing images of star formation in the distant and nearby universe, astronomers glean a better understanding of how nearby galaxies grew from small clumps of hot, young stars long ago.

Because Earth's atmosphere filters most ultraviolet light, Hubble can provide some of the most sensitive space-based ultraviolet observations possible.

The program, called the Hubble Deep UV (HDUV) Legacy Survey, extends and builds on the previous Hubble multi-wavelength data in the CANDELS-Deep (Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey) fields within the central part of the GOODS (The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey) fields. This mosaic is 14 times the area of the Hubble Ultra Violet Ultra Deep Field released in 2014.

This image is a portion of the GOODS-North field, which is located in the northern constellation Ursa Major.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,

Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.

Astronomers have just assembled one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the universe's evolutionary history, based on a broad spectrum of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based telescopes. In particular, Hubble's ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos' busiest star-forming period, about 3 billion years after the big bang. This photo encompasses a sea of approximately 15,000 galaxies -- 12,000 of which are star-forming -- widely distributed in time and space. This mosaic is 14 times the area of the Hubble Ultra Violet Ultra Deep Field released in 2014.

Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Oesch (University of Geneva), and M. Montes (University of New South Wales)

Funding For Dundundra Falls Reserve

Friday August 17th, 2018

Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes today announced Dundundra Falls Reserve at Terrey Hills has been awarded NSW Government funding to assist with the protection of its spectacular native bushland.

A grant of $77,505 has been provided under the NSW Government’s Restoration and Rehabilitation Program to help preserve and enhance the reserve’s native vegetation and fauna habitat.

Dundundra Falls Reserve covers 38 hectares of Crown Land and is carefully managed by an enthusiastic and passionate group of local volunteers and expert bush regenerators. The Reserve serves as an important natural buffer between the residential areas of Terrey Hills and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

“Dundundra Falls Reserve is an enormously significant area of our community,” Rob Stokes said today.

“The reserve is home to a variety of threatened flora and fauna species and two endangered ecological communities. 

“The strategic location of Dundundra Falls Reserve, on the fringe of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, means it serves as an important line of defence against domestic stormwater runoff and noxious weeds.

“An enormous amount of work is carried out by local volunteers and bush regenerators to ensure this little-known yet spectacular area of our community is maintained and improved.

“I’m delighted the NSW Government is continuing to support the management and preservation of Dundundra Falls Reserve,” Rob Stokes said.


Bushcare Group details at:

Future Of Our Marine Parks Secured

Joint media release
16 August 2018
The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP
Minister for the Environment and Energy

Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

The Hon. Melissa Price MP
Assistant Minister for the Environment
The Senate has today endorsed the Turnbull Government’s world-leading marine park management plans, securing the future of these incredible marine habitats for generations to come.

Today’s important decision delivers certainty for all marine park users and confirms the protection of 2.3 million square kilometres of Australia’s oceans which were never previously protected.

This brings all 60 Australian marine parks under protection - the second largest system of protected marine habitats in the world.

The plans strike the right balance between conservation, recreation and economic development and are based on a balanced, scientific and evidence-based approach to marine park management.

They were informed by extensive consultation including an independent review, numerous public forums and more than 130,000 written submissions.

The Australian Marine Parks management plans have been in effect since 1 July 2018, with people enjoying and using our marine parks as intended under the plans.

The plans deliver protection of our natural assets for future generations, while providing certainty and stability for those local communities whose jobs and livelihoods depend on our unique marine environment.

For the next ten years, these management plans will provide assurance for all marine park users around a range of conservation, economic and social activities and create opportunities for research, tourism and sustainable fishing.

Supporting the management of these marine parks for all Australians includes:
  • establishing advisory committees to guide protection of our unique marine environment for local and regional communities;
  • delivering assistance to affected commercial fishers to transition their business to the new operating environment;
  • grants to help marine users including recreational fishers as well as industries engage in marine park management; and
  • incentives to encourage uptake of vessel monitoring systems.
Further information about Australian Marine Parks is available at

Federal Government Secures Savage Cutbacks To Australia’s Marine Sanctuaries

Thursday 16 August 2018: Media release -  Australian Marine Conservation Society 
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says the slashing of marine sanctuaries by the Turnbull Government is a bad day for global marine conservation, as it represents the largest removal of environmental protection on Earth.

Australia’s original network of marine parks was proclaimed by the Gillard Government in 2012. The marine parks were strongly supported by science and by Australians around the country.

The Abbott Government suspended those marine parks in 2013. The Turnbull Government then introduced new plans that today passed parliament, and have almost halved the protection provided in the original marine park plans.

The loss of protection is unequalled in Australian history. The total area removed from Australia’s marine sanctuary network is over 35 million hectares, an area twice the size of Victoria, equivalent to revoking every second national park on land.

“When it comes to slashing protection for our oceans, the Turnbull Government is now the world champion,” said Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the AMCS.

“This is not an accolade of which Australians will be proud, particularly when our seas are under so much pressure from climate change, pollution and unsustainable fishing.

“The cuts to marine icons around Australia are equivalent to removing every second national park on land, including one of our oldest sanctuaries at Lord Howe Island, a massive area off Ningaloo and the Kimberley, and worst hit – the Coral Sea – the cradle to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the last places on Earth where ocean giants still thrive.

“The Turnbull Government has ignored decades of science, the advice of the Government’s own independent review, the wishes of local communities, and the voice of hundreds of thousands of Australians who have been consulted over the years when Australia’s marine parks network was in development.

“When the drafts of these woefully inadequate plans were released last year, a stellar list of 1470 of the world’s scientists rejected the proposed cuts. More than 80,000 Australians made a formal submission urging more protection, not less. This included over 16,000 recreational fishers around the country.

“The Turnbull Government has now stripped away marine sanctuary protection, exposing our oceans to more industrial fishing, more oil and gas development and more bycatch of protected marine species.

“Our oceans are under intense pressure and our government won’t see it. Our ocean needs much more protection, not less.

“But it’s not over. It’s taken two decades of campaigning to get a national network of marine parks and we won’t be giving up until our sanctuaries are restored. The Australian Marine Conservation Society will continue to campaign alongside the tens of thousands of Australians who have spoken up calling for these cuts to be reversed,” said Kindleysides.

North Coast Shark Nets To Go - Now Let’s Pull Them Down Across NSW Coast

Friday 17 August 2018: Media release - Australian Marine Conservation Society 
AMCS welcomes the NSW Government’s announcement today that it will remove nets from the NSW North Coast this summer following two net trials.

This is a positive step by the NSW Government, which responded to community sentiment about the toll on local marine wildlife. The DPI surveyed the north coast residents, the majority of which did not support another trial of the shark nets.

Shark nets are effectively fishing nets that are erected along beaches to entangle and drown sharks, but they mostly catch non target species such as dolphins, turtles and rays, many of which are threatened with extinction.

Shark nets were first erected in NSW in the 1930s, but technology and public sentiment have moved on since then. Shark nets are an outdated response to beach safety that has a high burden on our oceans, without actually protecting beach goers. Not only do shark nets and drumlines kill thousands of endangered marine species, they are also ineffective at protecting the public.

Evidence presented at the Senate Shark Mitigation Inquiry in 2017 showed that there is no statistical difference in the rate of shark incidents between netted and net free beaches.

Since 2016, NSW has killed 807 animals in the name of shark control. The recent Shark Meshing Annual Report showed that in the region between Newcastle and Wollongong, 403 marine animals were killed in the last year, including endangered sea turtles, dolphins and threatened sharks.

With shark nets due to go back in the water off Sydney beaches in the spring, it’s time to rethink the whole program and investigate non-lethal alternatives.

The NSW Government is continuing the use of SMART drumlines in the north coast. While these drumlines are not intended to be lethal, AMCS has reservations about their use due to a lack of data on post release mortality for non-target species such as endangered hammerheads and grey nurse sharks.

AMCS supports non lethal options to such as education, drone surveillance and better resourced volunteer and professional life saving services.

As a species group sharks are in global decline, with a third of open water sharks listed as threatened. Sharks are considered ‘keystone species’, which means that as top predators, they are extremely important in maintaining the balance in marine ecosystems.

Entries Open For 2018 NSW Farmers Of The Year Award

July, 24, 2018: NSW DPI
NSW Minister for Primary Industries and outgoing NSW Farmers President Derek Schoen have announced applications for the prestigious NSW Farmer of the Year award have opened for 2018.

Speaking at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference today, Minister Blair said the award is both a celebration and recognition of farming excellence through the diverse range of enterprises across NSW.

“Our farmers represent some of the most innovative, industrious primary producers in the country and produce some of the highest quality food and fibre to be found anywhere in the world,” Minister Blair said.

“The state’s $15 billion primary industries sector is going from strength to strength under the stewardship of our farmers, who demonstrate drive and determination to run efficient, profitable and sustainable businesses.”

Mr Schoen has served as a judge of the award throughout his Presidency and said the 2017 finalists represented the breadth of NSW’s farming sector.

“From biodynamic, organic egg farming to a commercial cropping enterprise gaining efficiencies through environmental practices, from young guns through to farmers who have had a life-long commitment to farming excellence, the calibre of applications to the NSW Farmer of the Year award continues to be hugely impressive,” he said.

“The award helps identify outstanding farmers who are pushing the boundaries within their industry and in farming generally, and recognises people with outstanding management skills who demonstrate a combination of innovation, profitability, sustainability and community involvement.

“I strongly encourage all farmers in the primary industries sector to enter to become the 2018 NSW Farmer of the Year.”

The successful 2018 Farmer of the Year will be awarded $10,000, and finalists will receive $2,000.

The award is an initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Farmers, with support from SafeWork NSW and Fairfax Agricultural Media. 

The application process is now online, where you can both apply and nominate a farmer by visiting entries closing 26 September 2018.

Long Reef Guided Reef Walks

Please find below the 2017 – 2018 timetable for guided walks of Long Reef Aquatic Reserve.

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

Dates for 2018
Sunday 9 September 2018     12:30pm – 2:30pm
Sunday 7 October 2018          12:30pm – 2:30pm
Sunday 4 November 2018      11:30am – 1:30pm
Sunday 9 December 2018        4:00pm – 6:00pm

Dates for 2019
Sunday 6 January 2019         3:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 20 January 2019       2:00pm – 4:00pm
Sunday 17 February 2019     1:00pm – 3:00pm
Sunday 17 March 2019          11:30am – 1:30pm
Sunday 7 April 2019               2:30pm  – 4:30pm

Walks are held subject to weather conditions

Bookings are preferred.
Please email Wendy to book:

Katandra Season 2018

Open Days at Katandra Bushland Sanctuary are suspended for a few weeks as there was a hazard reduction burn around the yurt on Saturday July 28th. The last fire here was in January 1994, so it is overdue for a burn, which will really bring on the wildflowers in a couple of years.

Visit Katandra's Profile for more details and pop up and visit from August 12th.

Newport Community Garden: Working Bee Second Sunday Of The Month

Newport Community Gardens Inc. is a not for profit incorporated association. The garden is in Woolcott Reserve.

Local Northern Beaches residents creating sustainable gardens in public spaces
Strengthening the local community, improving health and reconnecting with nature
To establish ecologically sustainable gardens for the production of vegetables, herbs, fruit and companion plants within Pittwater area 
To enjoy and forge friendships through shared gardening.
Membership is open to all Community members willing to participate in establishing gardens and growing sustainable food.
Subscription based paid membership.
We meet at the garden between 9am – 12 noon
New members welcome

For enquiries contact
4 Pines Brewery Newport will be providing up-cycled malt bags from the brewery to store the trash and keep it from our shores. 

Do you get a beer? 
Absolutely! 4 Pines will hand out tokens to participants which will be redeemable for a fresh cold beer back at Public House. 

Stony Range Spring Fair

Sunday, September 9 at 9 AM - 4 PM
Stony Range Regional Botanic Garden
810 Pittwater Road, Dee Why
Hosted by Stony Range Regional Botanic Garden and Australian Plants Society Northern Beaches Group

Join in the fun at the Stony Range 'Bush Dreaming Spring Festival Sunday 9th September 2018
Native plant sales and advice, displays and walks.
Children's activities, live native animals. 
Sculptures, photographs, live music.
BBQ and coffee shop, home made cakes

10:30am is the official opening with Welcome to Country.

Cultivation advice from the members of Stony Range Botanic Garden & Australian Plants Society Northern Beaches Group.

Mona Vale Garden Club's 47th Spring Flower Show

Saturday, 22 September 2018 - 10:00am to 3:00pm
Everyone is invited to come to an exhibition of flowers, pot plants, vegetables, herbs and floral art.

There will also be sales of:
  • plants
  • white elephant goods
  • cakes
  • refreshments
Entry: Adults $2, children free 
All profits will be donated to local charities.

Contact Information
Mona Vale Garden Club Inc
Name: Pauline
Phone: 0418 221 907

Ted Blackwood Hall
Cnr Jacksons & Boondah Roads
Warriewood NSW 2102

Bee Keeping Talk At Warriewood

Thursday, September 27, 2018
7:15pm – 9:00pm
Nelson Heather Centre
4 Jacksons Rd.
At tonight's meeting hear about native and European honey bees and what PNB is doing as part of our bee program on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Native bees are an important part of our biodiversity chain as well as a great source of nutritious honey.

Sydney has over 200 species of native bees many of which are solitary bees that require habitat in our gardens. You can also promote bees by providing a chemical free garden for them to pollinate. PNB has a program for selling native bees hives to supporters or program hives for free to community organisations. 

More information on this and a lot more will be available on the night.

Paul Hoskinson is the bee team leader for PNB and also was a key driver in the setting up of the Northern Beaches Beekeepers Association.

‘If bees were to disappear for the globe, humankind would have only four years left to live’ Albert Einstein.  Bees help us with pollination and are a vital part of our ecosystem. This will be a night not to be missed!

Doors open 7:15 pm at the Banksia Room, Nelson Heather Centre, 4 Jacksons Rd. Warriewood. All welcome, entry by donation. No need to book. There will also be a swap table - enjoy honey tasting + bring along plants, books, pots to swap.

Organic teas and coffee available, bring a plate of food to share also.

PNHA Newsletter 76 

Read about wild life in the 'Burbs - How to identify local owl calls, the Wing Tag project and PNHA's latest campaign news.

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment August 2018 Forum

Next forum: Creeks in the Catchment
7pm Monday August 27, 2018
Coastal Environment Centre, Pelican Path,
Lake Park Road, Narrabeen

Presenters: Staff members from Northern Beaches Council will outline the works needed to control erosion and protect against flooding. Plus information about the bush regeneration projects in near creeks in the catchment.

Are you concerned about any of these issues?
* Water quality in creeks leading to Narrabeen Lagoon
* Health of aquatic wildlife
* Creek flooding
* Blockages in creeks
* Erosion of creek banks
* Rubbish in creeks
* Weeds in riparian zones?
Bring your concerns and questions to the forum on August 27 and find out more about creek care from Council staff.

Entry is free but we ask for a donation to cover expenses.
Make sure you get a ticket preferably by emailing Judith Bennett 

Greening Your Home - Eco Retrofitting The Suburbs - Special Event

There’s no need for a ‘tree-change’ or ‘sea-change’ - Permaculture has made a shift to the suburbs 

An extraordinary evening is planned for up to 400 people at Dee Why RSL on Tuesday 9th October at 7pm. 

‘Our aim is to better equip residents of the Northern Beaches and beyond to live sustainably in the suburbs.’ said Michelle Sheather, Permaculture Northern Beaches Green Home team leader. ‘Over the last 18 months, PNB’s Green Home project has run dozens of workshops, meetings and courses on organic living, sustainable building, clean energy and wise use of resources.’

The culmination of the project, made possible by a community grant from Northern Beaches Council, is the October 9 special event on Eco Retrofitting the Suburbs. The panel of speakers for one night only, is David Holmgren, Jo Gillies and Costa Georgiadis. The talks will show how ordinary Australians can downshift and retrofit their houses, gardens, and lifestyles to be more sustainable and resilient.

David Holmgren, is one of the founders of permaculture, a leading ecological thinker, teacher, respected writer and speaker. He promotes permaculture as a realistic pathway to sustainability and a powerful way of life. David’s talk will introduce his best-selling new book RetroSuburbia - the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future (2018) that empowers us to make positive changes to everyday actions extending from the household out into neighbourhood and wider community activity.

Jo Gillies is founder and director of Archisoul Architects in Manly. She has worked with clients across the Northern Beaches to design sustainable houses that suit our climate, region and lifestyle. Jo will speak on aspects of sustainable house design including passive solar, energy options and which materials can be used to lessen our environmental footprint. Design efficiencies for existing buildings and how do an eco-friendly retrofit will be discussed. Jo will show that good design principals can create a sense of community and soul for the household.

Costa Georgiadis has been the host of Gardening Australia, the ABC's iconic gardening show, since 2012. He is a landscape architect who has a passion for plants and people. For Costa, soil and water are central to absolutely everything. Costa has written the forward for the book  ‘Don’t be afraid to throw open RetroSuburbia on any page at any time and dive into the possible …’ says Costa.

Come along to be part of this great evening. 
A donation of $5 is recommended as entry fee.

The talk night will be during the school holidays, older children and teenagers are most welcome with an adult. A raffle with prizes of eco products and a copy of David’s book will be held on the night.

Permaculture is a design system for sustainable living in your home, garden and lifestyle. It originated in Tasmania in the 1970s with co-founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and is now practiced worldwide. The word is the merging of permanent/sustainable and culture.

Curl Curl Lagoon: Looking Up - Blue Water And Blue Sky - Looking Down: A Tide Of Rubbish And Plastic Bottles

Photos courtesy Adriaan van Der Wallen

Puerto Sherry To Host 2019 Para World Sailing Championships

August 15, 2018: World Sailing 
Puerto Sherry, El Puerto de Santa María, Cadiz, Spain has been selected by World Sailing to host the 2019 Para World Sailing Championships from 1-7 July 2019.

The Para World Sailing Championships showcases the best-of-the-best in Para World Sailing, creates sporting heroes and engages sailing and sports fans as well as sponsors and broadcasters.

World Sailing and Marina Puerto de Santa Maria will work collaboratively to deliver the Championships.

Massimo Dighe, Para World Sailing Manager, commented, "World Sailing is delighted that Puerto Sherry will be hosting the 2019 edition of the Para World Sailing Championships.

"The Marina has an outstanding track record of hosting major international sailing events. The facilities for Para World Sailing athletes are world class and we’re looking forward to working with the organisers to deliver a memorable event for all those involved.

"I am sure all the sailors’ attending will receive a warm welcome."

Valle de la Riva, President of Club Náutico Puerto Sherry & Marina Puerto Santa Maria, said, "The sailors will be overwhelmed by the wind and sea conditions as well as the entertainment on land in Puerto Sherry. Sailors will have high hopes of the venue and we have a unique venue in every way that they will fall in love with."

Rafael Martín-Prat, CEO of Puerto Sherry Para World Sailing Championships 2019 added, "Cadiz Bay is renowned for its wind and world class sailing. Alongside the on-water competition, the sailors will get to visit an ancient historic town steeped in history.

"Andalusia is a place out of this world and I encourage all the sailors to not just hear about it, but come and enjoy it. We will aim to deliver one of the best Championships in Para World Sailing history and we’re waiting for the competitors to come and discover it."

Kiel, Germany hosted the most recent edition of the Para Worlds in 2017 and more than 80 sailors’ from 37 nations competed across the Open 2.4 Norlin OD, Men's Hansa 303 and Women's Hansa 303.

From 16-22 September 2018, the US Sailing Center of Sheboygan in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA will host the 2018 edition with racing to take place across the Open 2.4 Norlin OD, Men’s Hansa 303, Women’s Hansa 303 and the RS Venture Connect. New formats will be trialled in Sheboygan to ensure an exciting competition for the competitors and those watching locally and from afar.

First Biomarker Evidence Of DDT-Autism Link

August 16, 2018: Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

A study of more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland reports that elevated levels of a metabolite of the banned insecticide DDT in the blood of pregnant women are linked to increased risk for autism in the offspring. An international research team led by investigators at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry published these results in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study, conducted in collaboration with investigators at the University of Turku and the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Finland, is the first to connect an insecticide with risk for autism using maternal biomarkers of exposure.

Researchers identified 778 cases of childhood autism among offspring born from 1987 to 2005 to women enrolled in the Finnish Maternity Cohort, representing 98 percent of pregnant women in Finland. They matched these mother-child pairs with control offspring of mothers and offspring without autism. Maternal blood taken during early pregnancy was analyzed for DDE, a metabolite of DDT, and PCBs, another class of environmental pollutants.

The investigators found the odds of autism with intellectual disability in offspring were increased by greater than twofold for the mother's DDE levels in the top quartile. For the overall sample of autism cases, the odds were nearly one-third higher among offspring exposed to elevated maternal DDE levels. The findings persisted after adjusting for several confounding factors such as maternal age and psychiatric history. There was no association between maternal PCBs and autism.

While DDT and PCBs were widely banned in many nations over 30 years ago, including the U.S. and Finland, they persist in the food chain because their breakdown occurs very slowly, as long as several decades, resulting in continuing exposure to populations. These chemicals are transferred across the placenta in concentrations greater than those seen in the mother's blood.

"We think of these chemicals in the past tense, relegated to a long-gone era of dangerous 20th Century toxins," says lead author Alan S. Brown, MD, MPH, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. "Unfortunately, they are still present in the environment and are in our blood and tissues. In pregnant women, they are passed along to the developing fetus. Along with genetic and other environmental factors, our findings suggest that prenatal exposure to the DDT toxin may be a trigger for autism."

The researchers offer two reasons for their observation that maternal exposure to DDE was related to autism while maternal PCB exposure was not. First, maternal DDE is associated with low birthweight, a well-replicated risk factor for autism. In contrast, maternal PCB exposure has not been related to low birthweight. Second, they point to androgen receptor binding, a process key to neurodevelopment. A study in rats found DDE inhibits androgen receptor binding, an outcome also seen in a rat model of autism. In contrast, PCBs increase androgen receptor transcription.

Alan S. Brown et al. Association of Maternal Insecticide Levels With Autism in Offspring From a National Birth Cohort.American Journal of Psychiatry, 2018 DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17101129

Moderate Carbohydrate Intake May Be Best For Health, Study Suggests

August 17, 2018: The Lancet
Eating carbohydrates in moderation seems to be optimal for health and longevity, suggests new research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The observational study of more than 15,400 people from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) in the USA found that diets both low (< 40% energy) and high (>70% energy) in carbohydrates were linked with an increase in mortality, while moderate consumers of carbohydrates (50-55% of energy) had the lowest risk of mortality.

The primary findings, confirmed in a meta-analysis of studies on carbohydrate intake including more than 432,000 people from over 20 countries, also suggest that not all low-carbohydrate diets appear equal -- eating more animal-based proteins and fats from foods like beef, lamb, pork, chicken and cheese instead of carbohydrate was associated with a greater risk of mortality. Alternatively, eating more plant-based proteins and fats from foods such as vegetables, legumes, and nuts was linked to lower mortality.

"We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection," says Dr Sara Seidelmann, Clinical and Research Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, USA who led the research.

"Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy. However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged. Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy aging in the long term."

Previous randomised trials have shown low carbohydrate diets are beneficial for short-term weight loss and improve cardiometabolic risk. However, the long-term impact of carbohydrate restriction on mortality is controversial with prospective research so far producing conflicting results. What's more, earlier studies have not addressed the source or quality of proteins and fats consumed in low-carb diets.

To address this uncertainty, researchers began by studying 15,428 adults aged 45-64 years from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds from four US communities (Forsyth County, NC; Jackson, MS; Minneapolis, MN; and Washington County, MD) enrolled in the ARIC cohort between 1987 and 1989. All participants reported consuming 600-4200 kcal per day for men and 500-3600 kcal per day for women, and participants with extreme (high or low) caloric intake were excluded from the analysis.

At the start of the study and again 6 years later, participants completed a dietary questionnaire on the types of food and beverages they consumed, what portion size and how often, which the researchers used to estimate the cumulative average of calories they derived from carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

The researchers assessed the association between overall carbohydrate intake (categorised by quantiles) and all cause-mortality after adjusting for age, sex, race, total energy intake, education, exercise, income level, smoking, and diabetes. During a median follow-up of 25 years, 6283 people died.

Results showed a U-shape association between overall carbohydrate intake and life expectancy, with low (less than 40% of calories from carbohydrates) and high (more than 70%) intake of carbohydrates associated with a higher risk of mortality compared with moderate intake (50-55% of calories).

The researchers estimated that from age 50, the average life expectancy was an additional 33 years for those with moderate carbohydrate intake -- 4 years longer than those with very low carbohydrate consumption (29 years), and 1 year longer compared to those with high carbohydrate consumption (32 years). However, the authors highlight that since diets were only measured at the start of the trial and 6 years later, dietary patterns could change over 25 years, which might make the reported effect of carbohydrate consumption on lifespan less certain.

In the next step of the study, the authors performed a meta-analysis of data from eight prospective cohorts (including ARIC) involving data from 432,179 people in North American, European, and Asian countries. This revealed similar trends, with participants whose overall diets were high and low in carbohydrates having a shorter life expectancy than those with moderate consumption.

As Seidelmann explains, "A midrange of carbohydrate intake might be considered moderate in North America and Europe where average consumption is about 50% but low in other regions, such as Asia, where the average diet consists of over 60% carbohydrates."

In further analyses examining whether the source of proteins and fats favoured in low-carbohydrate diets -- plant-based or animal-based -- was associated with length of life, researchers found that replacing carbohydrates with protein and fat from animal sources was associated with a higher risk of mortality than moderate carbohydrate intake. In contrast, replacing carbohydrates with plant-based foods was linked to a lower risk of mortality (table 3).

"These findings bring together several strands that have been controversial. Too much and too little carbohydrate can be harmful but what counts most is the type of fat, protein, and carbohydrate," says Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author of the study.

The findings show observational associations rather than cause and effect. Considering evidence from other studies, the authors speculate that Western-type diets that heavily restrict carbohydrates often result in lower intake of vegetables, fruit, and grains and lead to greater consumption of animal proteins and fats -- some of which have been implicated in stimulating inflammatory pathways, biological aging, and oxidative stress -- and could be a contributing factor to the increased risk of mortality. Whilst high carbohydrate diets (common in Asian and less economically advantaged nations) tend to be high in refined carbohydrates such as white rice, may also contribute to a chronically high glycaemic load and worse metabolic outcomes.

"This work provides the most comprehensive study of carbohydrate intake that has been done to date, and helps us better understand the relationship between the specific components of diet and long term health," says Dr Scott Solomon, The Edward D Frohlich Distinguished Chair at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and senior author on the paper. "While a randomized trial has not been performed to compare the longer term effects of different types of low carbohydrate diets, these data suggest that shifting towards a more plant-based consumption is likely to help attenuate major morbid disease."

The authors note some limitations including that dietary patterns were based on self-reported data, which might not accurately represent participants' food consumption; and that their conclusions about animal-based sources of fat and protein might have less generalisability to Asian populations which tend to have diets high in carbohydrates, but often consume fish rather than meat. Finally, given the relatively small number of individuals following plant-based low-carb diets, further research is needed.

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Andrew Mente and Dr Salim Yusuf from McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada say, "Such differences in risk associated with extreme differences in intake of a nutrient are plausible, but observational studies cannot completely exclude residual confounders when the apparent differences are so modest. Based on first principles, a U-shaped association is logical between most essential nutrients versus health outcomes. Essential nutrients should be consumed above a minimal level to avoid deficiency and below a maximal level to avoid toxicity. This approach maintains physiological processes and health (ie, a so-called sweet spot). Although carbohydrates are technically not an essential nutrient (unlike protein and fats), a certain amount is probably required to meet short-term energy demands during physical activity and to maintain fat and protein intakes within their respective sweet spots. On the basis of these principles, moderate intake of carbohydrate (eg, roughly 50% of energy) is likely to be more appropriate for the general population than are very low or very high intakes."

Sara B Seidelmann, Brian Claggett, Susan Cheng, Mir Henglin, Amil Shah, Lyn M Steffen, Aaron R Folsom, Eric B Rimm, Walter C Willett, Scott D Solomon. Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis. The Lancet Public Health, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30135-X

Digital Learning Brings The World To The Classroom

August 13, 2018: NSW Education Department

Eight public schools have been recognised for their innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning – inside and outside of the classroom.

Mount Ousley Public School students use technology from Kindergarten.

And size is no barrier when it comes to delivering digital learning at the highest level. That’s the message from the 220-student Mount Ousley Public School, named today as the state’s Digital Lighthouse School at the inaugural Technology 4 Learning (T4L) Awards for its comprehensive, cross-curriculum embrace of digital learning.

The school has adopted a BYOD policy from Kindergarten to Year 6 and uses a range of technologies including robotics, blue screen filming, drones and coding.

It has partnered with the University of Wollongong on a virtual reality research program and brings the world to the students through global empathy projects and by connecting with astronauts on the International Space Station.

Mount Ousley Public School was one of eight schools recognised by the Department of Education for innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning at the school.

NSW Department of Education Technology for Learning Director Mark Greentree said he was proud to acknowledge and celebrate the innovative work the winning schools, students and teachers were doing with technology.

“I’m excited at the prospect of empowering other schools to embark upon a technology for learning journey of their own,” he said.

The awards were announced today at the Department of Education’s annual CIO’s Technology in Schools Conference, with the winners running workshops for participants to hear their story and be inspired by their success.

The NSW Department of Education is committed to empowering schools to teach today’s students the skills to solve the problems of tomorrow by providing state-of-the-art information and communications technologies, including robotics, makerspaces and digital learning and administration tools.

The $23 million STEMShare Community project, announced last week by the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, will provide all NSW public schools with access to cutting-edge technology to ignite students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects (STEM) subjects.

The STEMShare Community program includes classroom kits with robotics, 3D printing, coding, film-making, and virtual and augmented reality – all vital technologies for the study of STEM Science subjects.

In its first year, the T4L Awards recognise schools that are inspiring and leading change locally, as well as participating in online and physical communities that develop the skills of the teaching profession and inspire organisation-wide change.

The winning schools were:

  • Mount Ousley Public School – Digital Lighthouse School, Innovative Use of ICT in Primary School
  • Callaghan College Wallsend Campus – Innovation in Digital Administration & Management, Leader in Developing Digital Collaborative Communities
  • Callaghan College Jesmond Campus – Leader in Integration of Virtual Learning Environments
  • Gymea Bay Public School – Leader in Digital Learning Tools
  • Valentine Public School – Leader in Digital Makerspace Technologies
  • Glenwood High School – Innovative Use of ICT in Secondary School
  • Aurora College – Leader in Productivity & Collaboration
  • Melrose Park Public School – Leader in Robotics.

Watch the T4L award-winning school video submissions

The Forest High School

T4L Award - LEADER IN ROBOTICS - Highly Commended 2018

Australian Open Surfing Team Announced For ISA World Surfing Games

Thursday August 16, 2018

Surfing Australia is excited to announce the Australian Open Surfing Team for the 2018 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games, to be held on September 15th- 22nd  in Tahara, Japan.

Athletes have been selected based on their rankings on the 2018 World Surf League World Championship Tour, Qualifying Series or Australia/Oceania Junior Tour.

Surfing Australia’s National High Performance Director Kim Crane said, “We’re excited to be taking the Australian Open Surfing Team to this event; it provides us with a chance to compete in the beach conditions at Tahara, to understand the format, embrace a performance opportunity, and build momentum on our ‘Team Australia’ culture.

"The Olympic qualifying system states that the 2019 & 2020 ISA World Surfing Games is imperative for athlete selection in the Tokyo 2020 Games, so this presents a significant opportunity for these athletes to not only perform on the world stage for their country but also to capture some learnings that our National Squad athletes will be able to apply in the 2019 & 2020 events. We have a great mix of experience and youth, so as individual competitors it’s a terrific opportunity for our athletes to show up as a team, for each other.”

Sally Fitzgibbons, current World Surf League and Australian National Squad athlete said: “It's a huge honour to be selected to represent our country in Japan for the ISA World Surfing Games and to Captain the team. Its such a unique opportunity to be in a team environment like this and continue to build the culture as Team Australia heading toward the 2020 Olympics. I've always wanted to check out Japan and the epic surf culture. I can't wait to head over to ride some waves, learn as a competitor and share this experience with my super talented teammates and coaching staff. C'mon Aussies.”

The team, who will be supported by Surfing Australia’s Elite Program Manager Bede Durbidge and Coach Tim Macdonald is:

Sally Fitzgibbons (Team Captain)
Holly Wawn
Philippa Anderson

Kai Tandler
Callum Robson
Dextar Muskens

Surfing Australia’s Elite Program Manager Bede Durbidge said: “This is a significant achievement within the already successful careers of these athletes, and it cements their strong positioning as the top athletes within our sport. Anytime you get an opportunity to represent your country is a really proud moment, and those who have been selected all work really hard to be the best they can be. I’m stoked that Sal has accepted the role of Team Captain for this event; she has green and gold blood running through her veins! The pride and passion she holds for competing for our country is certainly going to make her really hard to beat and there is no doubt she has her eye firmly on Olympic readiness at this event.”

The Australian Open Surfing Team is proudly supported for the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Hydralyte Sports.

Holly Wawn - photo by Ethan Smith/Surfing NSW

Curious Kids: Why Do We Have Tonsils?????

August 15th, 2018
by Simon Carney
Professor of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, Flinders University

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. You might also like the podcast Imagine This, a co-production between ABC KIDS listen and The Conversation, based on Curious Kids.

Why do we have tonsils????? – Ryan, age 10, Blacktown.

Thanks Ryan. I am guessing, based on the number of question marks you’ve used, that your tonsils might have caused you some trouble. You’re not alone.

The truth is that unless you are a baby, you don’t really need tonsils. Many people have them removed and live happily without them. I’ll tell you why, but first I have to explain what your tonsils actually are.

Waldeyer’s ring
The technical term for your tonsils is “palatine tonsils”, which means the tonsils of the palate. These lumpy things sit on either side at the back of our mouths. The palatine tonsils are one pair of a set of four tonsils that form a circle at the top of our throat.

At the back of our nose, we have the adenoids. They are another type of tonsil tissue, technically called the “nasopharyngeal tonsils”. There is also a blanket of tonsil tissue over the back of our tongue called the “lingual tonsils”, which we can’t normally see. The adenoids and the tonsils are linked by a thin strip of tonsil tissue on each side; these are called the “tubal tonsils”. Together this whole ring of tonsil tissue is called “Waldeyer’s ring”, named after a nineteenth century German anatomist.

The palatine tonsils are one pair of a set of tonsils that form a circle at the top of our throat. Shutterstock

Tonsils are important for immune defence
Waldeyer’s ring forms part of our immune system, along with our lymph glands (which are either side of your neck).

In early life, the lymph glands are not completely developed, and our bodies rely on our tonsils to trap bugs and foreign material that we either breathe in or swallow. By trapping these particles, the body begins to recognise them as potentially dangerous things and produces things called antibodies to kill them so they can’t harm us. Tonsil tissue is particularly good at trapping these particles as it has valleys and holes (called crypts) which increase its surface area.

Tonsil tissue is particularly important in the first six months of life. After this, our lymph glands take over most of the work and the tonsils are essentially out of a job.

Tonsil trouble
As we get older, food and germs can still land in the valleys and crypts. They can then cause infections to develop, which lead to a sore throat or tonsillitis. Some infections can also cause the tonsils to grow in size. Huge tonsils and adenoids can block the airway and cause snoring or swallowing and speech problems. As nutrition and immunisation has improved, kids get tonsillitis less and less these days. Usually, an ear nose and throat surgeon like me gets called in to intervene more for obstruction (blockage) than repeated infections.

Comparison between normal tonsils and inflamed tonsils. Shutterstock

Shrinking tonsils
If tonsils are a problem, an ear, nose and throat surgeon can remove them by doing an operation. If they are simply too large, they can be shrunk down using special instruments which remove the valleys and crypts. This leaves a thin bit of tonsil tissue behind.

Shrinking the tonsils down reduces the amount of pain kids get and also reduces the chances of bleeding after the operation. The downside is that, in rare cases, the bit we leave behind can get infected, or can regrow - although this is uncommon.

People sometimes worry that by removing the tonsils, we may be more likely to get infections. This is not actually the case. The lymph glands take over the role of protecting us.

If tonsils are too big or keep getting infected, they end up being more trouble than they’re worth.

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to us. They can Email your question to 

Please tell us your name, age and which city you live in. You can send an audio recording of your question too, if you want. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question but we will do our best.

New HSC Course To Nurture Our Next Generation Of Scientists

August 17, 2018

The State’s top science students will be challenged to achieve at even higher levels with a new course in the 2019 Higher School Certificate intended to foster future scientists and researchers.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes formally launched the new course, HSC Science Extension, at Sydney Girls High School today.

“We want to be able to provide our next generation of scientists with the knowledge and skills they need to lead modern scientific research,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This new course will inspire and challenge some of our best students and prepare them for the many future jobs that we know will need high-level STEM expertise.”

The focus of the new course is a scientific research project that each student may undertake in association with Australian and international researchers, universities and research institutions. Projects could also involve partnering with industry to pursue a research idea that has commercial application.

HSC Science Extension will enable HSC students for the first time to study seven units of science from 2019, allowing keen science students to take on Physics, Biology, Chemistry and the new Science Extension course.

“Never before has our education system offered a science course like this that will help make a link between school science and tertiary studies,” Mr Stokes said.

“It’s a cross-disciplinary course that will engage our top young science students to really challenge themselves.”

“In keeping with the technology focus of the course, the students will be examined with a computer-based exam at the end of their studies,” he said.

The new HSC Science Extension course means students seeking a career in the STEM fields can be challenged in the same way as advanced English, Mathematics and History students who have the option of undertaking extension courses.

The first students to undertake the HSC Science Extension course will begin the program on Monday 15 October.

Find out more at:

Aretha Franklin And Her Community Opened Their Doors And Their Hearts To Me

April 17th, 2018
By Andrew Legg
Associate Professor, Conservatorium of Music, University of Tasmania
Listening to the world pouring out its heart today, mourning and celebrating Aretha’s remarkable life, I wonder just how much my words could possibly add anything of substance to all of this.

Aretha was a church girl, first and foremost. A mum, a grandmum, a family person. Her family roots were long and deep, in the church, which birthed not only her musical talent but the community, ethic and culture that underpinned her, sustained her, rescued her and has always celebrated her.

Her career spanned generations and transcended time in many ways. Her music crosses many boundaries and presents in each generation quite distinctly.

African Americans “sing their theology”. I’d like to take credit for that quote, but it was Dr Anthony Campbell who coined it first. Professor of homiletics at Boston University, a preacher (and son of one), and musician at C.L. Franklin’s neighbouring church – Russell Street Baptist – in Detroit, he introduced me to his family and community, including Aretha, some 25 years ago.

Aretha and her community opened their doors and their hearts to me, an insignificant white church-boy from Rosebery, Tasmania. I knew something of this community through their music, but sharing my life with them, and they with me, continues to be life-changing.

I worked with Aretha through the Gospel Music Workshop of America. She and Stevie Wonder were on the bill one year, fronting one of the many choirs drawn from across the US that I had been “guested in” to play for on piano. Her voice lifted everything into another dimension. Including me.

As the tradition demands, the solo gospel voice largely dictates the shape of the music, the form, the intensity, the emotion – everything. Conductors often despair as they lose all control of the music under the power of the gospel soloist. I know that feeling a little myself, but voices like Aretha engendered complete trust and security in the musicians and singers around her. Where she went was the only place to go.

You certainly feel like you are hanging on for dear life, as this all happens in real time, live, and direct to the recording equipment! Change the tempo, change the melody, change the lyrics, change the mood, change the song and change your life – it’s all possible, seamlessly, powerfully, scarily (!) and magnificently under the command of the gospel singer.

And Aretha was the master, an emotional and spiritual powerhouse, leading from within and from out front. Musically, I’d follow her anywhere, anytime, anyplace: total trust, complete security. Abandon yourself to the spirit, and this would lead where the music, and you, needed to go.

Aretha stood in a long line of African American gospel singers, where the gospel “voice” is both improvisatory mastery and firebrand southern African American preacher-reflector of the heart of its community. This “voice” is the heart and soul of an oppressed and persecuted people, which preaches hope in affliction and love in the face of violence with an unassailable spirit, strength and demand for respect.

Aretha was “taught” a great deal by her father, C.L. Franklin: music, technique and the capacity to “move a house” through language and the use of the voice. But more than that, she was nurtured and grown, musically and spiritually, by the same whole community that gave us gospel musicians Mahalia Jackson, Roberta Martin and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Sitting at the feet of these greats, perhaps not so internationally as influential now as Aretha, the classroom that taught Aretha was anything but conventional.

Ultimately, Aretha was a product of her community, and through her powerful voice she continued all her life to sing her community’s theology – crushed but never defeated, enslaved and yet completely free.

Aretha continues to inspire singers to reach for meaning. In a musical world so often characterised by explosive and distracting displays of technical mastery – “lighting and thunder” – Aretha’s legacy demands something deeper of performers, something meaningful, something that can move the house.

It’s an old African American church expression – to move a house – the house being a church congregation. To “move it” means as it sounds – to be so powerful and engaging in your spoken or sung word, that every member of the congregation becomes as one with you, united by what you say, but more viscerally, too, by the spirit of unity as the whole congregation says, “Yes, we give assent to what you say.”

It seems very dry when I describe it here. It certainly isn’t in the flesh! And it is this capacity to brings one’s voice “out” of the community, to preach to it and then to take them with you that underpins Aretha’s music across all its genres and multifaceted forms.

She sang blues. She is called the Queen of Soul. She sang rock and roll. She sang opera. She sang pop. And yet within each song, every genre, across many generations, she is still one voice, of one people, of one gospel heart.

Aretha’s spirit, one powerful voice of her community, demands our attention. It demands recognition of and restitution for the evils of slavery and continued oppression. It is like a voice sometimes crying in the wilderness, but one that will not be silenced and that will not go quietly into the night.

Her voice continues to move the house. It continues to move our hearts, at the one time indomitably human and completely spiritual. She reaches into our hearts, demands respect and reminds us of our common humanity.

Long may Aretha’s music, and the power, heart and spirit of her community, reach into the whole world and into every heart and soul – until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

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.