Inbox and Environment News: Issue 429

November 17 - 23, 2019: Issue 429

Horses Evacuated To Clive Rogers Equestrian Centre Warriewood

As a result of the extreme fire conditions forecast for Tuesday this week, November 12th, council undertook to make available  evacuation areas for resident large animals, including horses, at Warriewood and Frenchs Forest Showground.

Regular Contributor Joe Mills, photographer and past Artist of the Month, took these photos during one of his dawn jaunts to North Narrabeen and Turimetta beaches on Tuesday morning.

Local Flowers: For Local Christmas Cards 2019

The Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA) will be at Avalon Market Day on Sunday November 17, in Dunbar Park Avalon. 

Find out what we've been up to. Our display of weeds and weed information is unique to PNHA - we're there to help you! 

Our range of $2.00 cards with flora, fauna and local scenery is bigger than ever, great for Christmas. Photos from last year below - weed chat, and cards.

Avalon Boomerang Bags November Update

Beryl, one of the original volunteers and pictured here with Laurel,  popped in on Tuesday with about 20 bags she'd made at home.

If you're keen to make bags at home, we have plenty of fabric available. If coming to collect it on a Tuesday is difficult please contact us and we'd be DELIGHTED to make alternative arrangements so you can help with our bag production. 

SUNDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2019     9am to 4pm

It's on again and we're delighted to have a stall in Dunbar Park. As the largest local market in Sydney, the streets of Avalon come alive with music, stalls, food and more. We'd love to see you and if you can spare some time, come and join us on the stall.

All enquiries to Laurel please or reply to this email:

Thanks to the Market Day committee for supporting our initiative and giving us a community space.

Rainbows On Top, Ibis In Top 10

Nearly 3.4 million birds counted in 7 days
The Australian White Ibis, commonly known as the ‘bin chicken’, is on the move according to data from BirdLife Australia’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count, which took place from 21–27 October.

This year’s record count saw 88,270 Australians get outside to record nearly 3.4 million birds in seven days. For the first time since the Aussie Bird Count began in 2014, a new bird made it into the top ten list of most-commonly-seen species. With a significant increase in the reporting rate of the White Ibis in urban areas, the ‘bin chicken’ moved up to 10th spot this year, up from 14th in 2018.

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count results support BirdLife Australia’s prediction that a number of birds impacted by the continued drought in regional areas of Australia, such as the White Ibis, would move towards wetter areas near the coast. Several other dry country birds including the White-winged Triller, Crimson Chat and Pied Honeyeater were recorded in areas they aren’t normally found.

The count saw people of all ages spend 20 minutes in their favourite green places recording the birds they saw around them. This year’s count saw record numbers of young people taking part, with more than a three-fold increase in the number of schools participating.

“While the top three birds remain unchanged, the addition of the White Ibis to the top 10 further highlights the impact of the drought on many of our bird species,” said Australia’s Chief Bird Nerd Sean Dooley.

“We were delighted with the response to the 2019 Aussie Backyard Bird Count and are extremely excited to see the number of surveys exceed the 100,000 mark. This information we’ve gained gives a much clearer picture of what’s happening with local bird populations across the country,” he said.

With a record number of participants, BirdLife Australia has also been able to share the Australian suburbs with the most passionate bird counters. Lismore in NSW was streets ahead of its closest competitors, Gosford in NSW and Albany in WA, with the highest number of counters of all Australian postcode areas.

Continue the conversation with #AussieBirdCount and join the next event from 19–25 October 2020.

For events and activities during National Bird Week visit

Black-Throated Finch Wins 'Bird Of The Year Vote

In related news, the Guardian Australia 'Bird of the Year' vote has been won by the black-throated finch. The highly endangered finch, now under threat of extinction due to the Adani Carmichael coalmine, was backed by a highly organised online campaign linking it to deforestation, the climate emergency and opposition to the mine. This little bird won with 11,153 votes (35% of the total), and 7,802 votes clear of second. Overall, including first- and second- round votes, 18,387 people voted for the black-throated finch.
Second was the tawny frogmouth with 3,351 votes.

BirdLife Australia staff and volunteers have been working to save this “bird of the moment” for nearly two decades. Janet Cross, from BirdLife Townsville is on the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team.

“My favourite part of the Black-throated Finch is that it is still surviving and people have an opportunity to see this marvellous little creature,” Janet says.

“The volunteer Recovery Team takes a lead in the conservation of this endangered species; through submissions and providing best available information on habitat, ecology and distribution.

However, it is critical that habitat and populations are secured for the long-term. The alternative is the species’ extinction.”

Swamp Wallabies In The Street 

If you think the stretches along the upgrades to Mona Vale Road are the only places wildlife are being displaced from their habitat, this report from the south area of Sydney, where massive new developments have been approved that will destroy more wildlife habitat, shows we are failing.

The swamp wallaby is being rescued by Sydney Wildlife (Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services).
This is a fine example of broken wildlife corridors. This beautiful swamp wallaby found itself in the streets of Rosemeadow this morning.

Comment from another:
So this is a wildlife corridor through people's front and backyards and on edge of road. Who is checking this environment impact study. That's right no one.

More Koalas Recorded By Campbelltown Conservationists

5 koala sightings today from Julie, Deb and Daryl. Thank you for letting us know about your sightings.

Bushcare In Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Climate change: why Sweden's central bank dumped Australian bonds

Sweden’s central bank ways it will no longer invest in assets from governments with large climate footprints, even if the yields were high. Shutterstock
John HawkinsUniversity of Canberra

What’s happening?

Suddenly, at the level of central banks, Australia is regarded as an investment risk.

On Wednesday Martin Flodén, the deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank, announced that because Australia and Canada were “not known for good climate work”.

As a result the bank had sold its holdings of bonds issued by the Canadian province of Alberta and by the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia.

Martin Flodén, deputy governor Sveriges Riksbank Central Bank of Sweden

Central banks normally make the news when they change their “cash rate” and households pay less (or more) on their mortgages.

But central banks such as Australia’s Reserve Bank and the European Central Bank, the People’s Bank of China and the US Federal Reserve have broader responsibilities.

They can see climate change affecting their ability to manage their economies and deliver financial stability.

There’s More To Central Banks Than Rates

Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle. Extreme events not cyclical. DAVID MOIR/AAP

As an example, the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva warned last month that the necessary transition away from fossil fuels would lead to significant amounts of “stranded assets”.

Those assets will be coal mines and oil fields that become worthless, endangering the banks that have lent to develop them. More frequent floods, storms and fires will pose risks for insurance companies. Climate change will make these and other shocks more frequent and more severe.

In a speech in March the deputy governor of Australia’s Reserve Bank Guy Debelle said we needed to stop thinking of extreme events as cyclical.

We need to think in terms of trend rather than cycles in the weather. Droughts have generally been regarded (at least economically) as cyclical events that recur every so often. In contrast, climate change is a trend change. The impact of a trend is ongoing, whereas a cycle is temporary.

And he said the changes that will be imposed on us and the changes we will need might be abrupt.

The transition path to a less carbon-intensive world is clearly quite different depending on whether it is managed as a gradual process or is abrupt. The trend changes aren’t likely to be smooth. There is likely to be volatility around the trend, with the potential for damaging outcomes from spikes above the trend.

Australia’s central bank and others are going further then just responding to the impacts of climate change. They are doing their part to moderate it.

No More Watching From The Sidelines

Peter Zöllner of the Bank for International Settlements launched the Green Bond Fund. BIS

Over thirty central banks (including Australia’s), and a number of financial supervisory agencies, have created a Network for Greening the Financial System.

Its purpose is to enhance the role of the financial system in mobilising finance to support the transitions that will be needed. The US Federal Reserve has not joined yet but is considering how to participate.

One of its credos is that central banks should lead by example in their own investments.

They hold and manage over A$17 trillion. That makes them enormously large investors and a huge influence on global markets.

Read more: Central banks are waking up to climate change dangers. It's about time

As part of their traditional focus on the liquidity, safety and returns from assets, they are taking into account climate change in deciding how to invest.

The are increasingly putting their money into “green bonds”, which are securities whose proceeds are used to finance projects that combat climate change or the depletion of biodiversity and natural resources.

Over A$300 billion worth of green bonds were issued in 2018, with the total stock now over A$1 trillion.

Central Banks Are Investing, And Setting Standards

While large, that is still less than 1% of the stock of conventional securities. It means green bonds are less liquid and have higher buying and selling costs.

It also means smaller central banks lack the skills to deal with them.

These problems have been addressed by the Bank for International Settlements, a bank owned by 60 of the central banks.

In September it launched a green bond fund that will pool investments from 140 (mostly central bank) clients.

Its products will initially be denominated in US dollars but will later also be available in euros. It will be supported by an advisory committee of the world’s top central bankers.

Read more: Business big hitters highlight the huge growth in climate risk management

It is alert to the risk of “greenwashing” and will only buy bonds that comply with the International Capital Market Association’s Green Bond Principles or the Climate Bond Initiative’s Climate Bond Standard.

Launching the fund in Basel, Switzerland, the bank’s head of banking Peter Zöllner said he was

confident that, by aggregating the investment power of central banks, we can influence the behaviour of market participants and have some impact on how green investment standards develop

It’s an important role. Traditionally focused on keeping the financial system safe, our central banks are increasingly turning to using their stewardship of the financial system to keep us, and our environment, safe.The Conversation

John Hawkins, Assistant professor, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Endangered Turtle Species Released Into The Wild

November 12, 2019
A successful breeding program at Taronga Zoo has secured the release of 10 juvenile Bellinger River Snapping Turtles into the wild near Bellingen on the Mid North Coast.

Considered one of Australia’s most critically endangered animals, the freshwater turtle species has been in a fight for survival since 2015 when a virus devastated 90% of its population.

The Taronga Conservation Society was able to increase its zoo population to 80 turtles over three successful breeding seasons, after 16 healthy turtles were placed into the zoo’s conservation breeding program.

Work to save the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle was made possible with $300,000 from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's Saving our Species program(external link).

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is continuing its research into the virus which threatened the species, while community organisations, the Bellingen Riverwatch citizen science program and Bellinger Landcare are carrying out water quality monitoring and riverside habitat restoration.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said the recent release of the turtles was essential for the future of the species.

“Putting the turtles back is only part of the puzzle. Strong partnerships remain crucial to recovering this species,” Mr Kean said.

Grants Available To Reduce Climate Change Impacts

NSW Government
NSW communities are invited to apply for grants that will assist them reduce climate change impacts such as heatwaves, bush fires or floods.

The Increasing Resilience to Climate Change (IRCC) community grants program is providing $600,000 in the first round of grants. Grants between $10,000 and $30,000 are available for individual projects.

Community groups can partner with local councils in their applications for funding under the IRCC.

The grants are funded through the Climate Change Fund, which allows the NSW Government to better support the community in its response to the effects of climate change.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said these grants will help local communities plan, coordinate and take action to increase their resilience and adapt.

“IRCC grant funding has already benefited Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils for a cool suburbs rating tool and Bega Valley Shire Council to upgrade community halls to be more climate-resilient during extreme heat events,” Mr Kean said.

Apply for round one funding by 31 January 2020 HERE

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

Collecting bread tags enables us to provide wheelchairs that change the life of disabled people in need, as well as keeping the tags out of landfill to help to preserve the environment. 

Bread Tags for Wheelchairs was started in South Africa in 2006 by Mary Honeybun. It is a community program where individuals and organisations collect bread tags, which are sold to recyclers. The money raised pays for wheelchairs for the less fortunate which are purchased through a local pharmacy. Currently about 500kg of bread tags are collected a month in South Africa, funding 2-3 wheelchairs.

We have been collecting bread tags nationally in Australia since September 2018 and now have more than 100 collection points across the country. In February 2019 we started local recycling through Transmutation - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Robe, SA, where our tags are recycled into products such as door knobs and bowls. Tags from some states are still sent to South Africa where a plastics company called Zibo recycles them into seedling trays.

These humble bits of polystyrene can make a real difference so get your friends, family, school, workplace and church involved. Ask school tuck shops and boarding school kitchens, child care centres, aged care facilities, hospitals, cafes and fast food outlets to collect for you - they get through a lot of bread!

All the information and signage for collecting or setting up a public collection point is on our website.

Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Please email for address -
Jodie Streckeisen
Please email for the address -

Exploring How Older Australians In Aged Care Use Health Services

November 15, 2019
A first-time report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) examines the use of health services by older people using different types of aged care.

The report, Interfaces between the aged care and health systems in Australia—first results, looks at how a person’s use of GPs, specialists, prescription medications and hospital services can vary with use of aged care.

‘Today’s report looks at people aged 50 and over who used only one type of aged care program in 2016–17, or no aged care at all,’ said AIHW spokesperson Ms. Louise York.

Ms York noted the importance of linking existing data to study how individuals use health and aged care services, and the links between health and aged care.

‘This report illustrates the potential power of data to build an evidence base in key areas of social policy,’ Ms York said

‘While the focus of this report is on 2016-17, the analysis draws on routinely available data and provides a useful baseline for future work. The AIHW will continue to build a more robust approach to national data on health and aged care, which can be used to inform improvements in services for older Australians.’

The report presents a range of new findings about health service use by older Australians.

‘As would be expected for people who have higher frailty and care needs, in general people who used aged care services were more likely to see a GP or specialist, and to use hospital services, than people who did not use aged care. However, the frequency of health care use varied by type of aged care program.

While people using community-based care were more likely to have at least 1 GP visit during the year than people in permanent residential aged care, when they saw a GP, they had fewer visits.

‘Older Australians living in permanent residential aged care in 2016–17 averaged 25 GP visits in the year (almost 1 per fortnight), compared to 17 for people using home support, and 16 for home care,’ Ms York said.

People living in permanent residential aged care were less likely to present at an emergency department or have a hospital admission than people using community-based aged care. People without any aged care were least likely to receive hospital care.

Consistent with their respective levels of frailty, people living in permanent residential aged care (10%) were more likely to have at least one hospital admission for a fall-related injury than those using home support or home care (6%), or those people not using any aged care (2%). 

Older Australians living in permanent residential aged care in 2016–17 were more likely to have prescriptions dispensed for medications relating to the nervous system, while people living in the community were more commonly prescribed medications related to the cardiovascular system.

‘Compared with people using community-based aged care, people living in permanent residential aged care were more likely to have had at least 1 antipsychotic prescription dispensed (28%, compared with 4–8%),’ Ms. York said.

New Wakehurst Parkway Bus Service Commences This Sunday

Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes is reminding residents that the new bus service between Pittwater and Northern Beaches Hospital commences this Sunday, 17 November.

The existing 155 bus service from Bayview Garden Village to Narrabeen has been extended hourly to Northern Beaches Hospital.

“This bus will use the Wakehurst Parkway as a scheduled public transport route for the first time,” Rob Stokes said today.

“Passengers can take the 155 from Mona Vale, opposite Village Park, to Frenchs Forest Road West, next to the main entrance of Northern Beaches Hospital.

“The new service also provides a convenient, direct link between Mona Vale Hospital and Northern Beaches Hospital.”

Passengers continuing to Chatswood can transfer at Northern Beaches Hospital to the 136 service which travels past the same bus stop every 15 minutes.

The new 155 timetable is available at or download below 

Support When Sickness Allowance Stops

November 6th, 2019: by Australian Government Dept. of Human Services

We won’t be accepting new claims for Sickness Allowance from 20 March 2020.

From this date, JobSeeker Payment will be the main income support payment for Australians between 22 and Age Pension age. If you’re sick, and can’t work or study, you may be able to apply for it.

If you’re currently getting Sickness Allowance you don’t need to do anything now. We’ll send you a letter closer to that time with more details. This letter will tell you how to transfer to JobSeeker Payment if you need to.

JobSeeker Payment
From 20 March 2020 this is the new working age payment. It will be the main income support payment if you’re at least 22 years of age and under Age Pension age.

You can get this payment if you’re either:
  • looking for work
  • prepared to meet mutual obligation requirements
  • have a job but currently can’t work or study due to sickness or injury
  • have recently lost your partner.
If you’re transferring from another payment JobSeeker Payment will be the new working age payment from 20 March 2020. We have details on how this change affects you if you’re transferring from a current payment.

From 20 March 2020 all of these payments are stopping:
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Wife Pension
  • Bereavement Allowance.
If you get Newstart Allowance now
Newstart Allowance will end on 20 March 2020 and we’ll transfer you to JobSeeker Payment. There are no other changes if you continue meeting your requirements.

If you get Sickness Allowance now
Sickness Allowance will end on 20 March 2020 for new claims. You will continue getting your payment until the expiry of your medical certificate.

If you get Wife Pension now
Wife Pension will end on 20 March 2020.

Read more about how this will affect you when Wife Pension stops.

If you get Bereavement Allowance
Bereavement Allowance will end on 20 March 2020 for new claims. If you’re on Bereavement Allowance on 20 March 2020, you’ll stay on it until the end of your bereavement period. This is usually 14 weeks, or for the length of your pregnancy. When this period ends, if you still need income support, you can claim either:
  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance
  • another payment based on your circumstances.
The Government is embarking on a comprehensive reform of Australia’s welfare system following the passage of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Act 2018

From 20 March 2020, a new JobSeeker Payment will be introduced as the main working age payment for people aged 22 years to Age Pension age. As a result, seven current working age payments will be progressively consolidated or ceased.

Over 99 per cent of welfare recipients will have the same or higher payment rates.

Simplifying the welfare system will make it easier for people to navigate, and will no longer treat people who are in similar circumstances, differently.

For the first time, there will be one set of rules for working age income support payments. This will ensure long-term employment becomes the desired outcome for Australians who enter the welfare system in a moment of need.

These measures reflect the Government’s commitment to reforming Australia’s welfare system, consistent with the recommendations from the 2015 McClure Review. Creating a new, consolidated JobSeeker Payment is the primary feature of welfare reform, which establishes a single payment for those of working age with capacity to work now or in the near future.

Eligibility for Pensioner Concession Cards and Health Care Cards will remain unchanged under JobSeeker Payment.

Key facts
• 800,000 Newstart Allowance recipients are expected to transition to the JobSeeker Payment at the same payment rate on 20 March 2020.
• 7,700 Sickness Allowance recipients are expected to transfer to the JobSeeker Payment at the same basic payment rate and will be exempt from mutual obligations according to the level assessed by a medical professional.
• 2,900 Wife Pension recipients will transfer to JobSeeker Payment at their existing payment rate, which will be grandfathered to ensure they aren’t worse off.
• 2,250 Wife Pension recipients are expected to transfer to Age Pension at the same payment rate.
• 2,400 Wife Pension recipients will transfer to Carer Payment at the same payment rate.
• Partner Allowance will cease on 1 January 2022 when the last of the existing recipients will be transferred to the Age Pension.
• People already on Bereavement Allowance as at 20 March 2020 will finish their entitlement period without change.
• As Bereavement Allowance is paid at a higher rate than the new JobSeeker Payment, newly bereaved people who have lost their partner will receive a lump sum payment in addition to their fortnightly payment to reflect the fact that newly bereaved people have higher upfront costs such as medical bills and funeral expenses.
• People who have recently lost a partner will also be exempt from a range of payment waiting periods and mutual obligation activities.
• Around 320 Widow B Pension recipients will transfer to Age Pension at the same payment rate.
• Widow Allowance will close to new entrants on 1 July 2018 and the payment will cease on 1 January 2022 when all recipients will transfer to Age Pension as they will be of qualifying age.

People Who Cannot Read May Be Three Times As Likely To Develop Dementia

November 14, 2019
New research has found that people who are illiterate, meaning they never learned to read or write, may have nearly three times greater risk of developing dementia than people who can read and write. The study is published in the November 13, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

According to the United States Department of Education, approximately 32 million adults in the country are illiterate.

"Being able to read and write allows people to engage in more activities that use the brain, like reading newspapers and helping children and grandchildren with homework," said study author Jennifer J. Manly, Ph.D., of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. "Previous research has shown such activities may reduce the risk of dementia. Our new study provides more evidence that reading and writing may be important factors in helping maintain a healthy brain."

The study looked at people with low levels of education who lived in northern Manhattan. Many were born and raised in rural areas in the Dominican Republic where access to education was limited. The study involved 983 people with an average age of 77. Each person went to school for four years or less. Researchers asked each person, "Did you ever learn to read or write?" Researchers then divided people into two groups; 237 people were illiterate and 746 people were literate.

Participants had medical exams and took memory and thinking tests at the beginning of the study and at follow-up appointments that occurred every 18 months to two years. Testing included recalling unrelated words and producing as many words as possible when given a category like fruit or clothing.

Researchers found of the people who were illiterate, 83 of 237 people, or 35 percent, had dementia at the start of the study. Of the people who were literate, 134 of 746 people, or 18 percent, had dementia. After adjusting for age, socioeconomic status and cardiovascular disease, people who could not read and write had nearly a three times greater chance of having dementia at the start of the study.

Among participants without dementia at the start of the study, during follow-up an average of four years later, 114 of 237 people who were illiterate, or 48 percent, had dementia. Of the people who were literate, 201 of 746 people, or 27 percent, had dementia. After adjusting for age, socioeconomic status and cardiovascular disease, researchers found that people who could not read and write were twice as likely to develop dementia during the study.

When researchers evaluated language, speed, spatial, and reasoning skills, they found that adults who were illiterate had lower scores at the start of the study. But their test scores did not decline at a more rapid rate as the study progressed.

"Our study also found that literacy was linked to higher scores on memory and thinking tests overall, not just reading and language scores," said Manly. "These results suggest that reading may help strengthen the brain in many ways that may help prevent or delay the onset of dementia."

Manly continued, "Even if they only have a few years of education, people who learn to read and write may have lifelong advantages over people who never learn these skills."

Manly said future studies should find out if putting more resources into programs that teach people to read and write help reduce the risk of dementia.

A limitation of the study was that researchers did not ask how or when literate study participants learned to read and write.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Ageing.

Miguel Arce Rentería, Jet M.J. Vonk, Gloria Felix, Justina F. Avila, Laura B. Zahodne, Elizabeth Dalchand, Kirsten M. Frazer, Michelle N. Martinez, Heather L. Shouel, Jennifer J. Manly. Illiteracy, dementia risk, and cognitive trajectories among older adults with low education. Neurology, 2019. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008587

Schoolies Week Revellers Reminded To Be Beach Safe

Friday 15 November 2019: Surf Life Saving NSW
As thousands of NSW Year 12 graduates make their final preparations for the traditional Schoolies week, which officially kicks off from Saturday, surf lifesavers are again issuing a warning to those looking to cool off during the celebrations; alcohol, drugs and the ocean are a dangerous combination.

An influx of school leavers will be heading to holiday hotspots across the state, with sea, sun, and fun sure to be an important part of the festivities which marks the end of 13 years of study and end-of-year exams.

One of the more popular destinations for the class of 2019 is Byron Bay and surrounding regions. Preparations are well underway by the area’s lifesavers and lifeguards in anticipation of the expected surge of visitors set to descend on the town. Byron Bay’s Main Beach alone receives over 10,000 visitors a day during Schoolies week.

“For us, Schoolies week really is the start of summer and one of our busiest periods of the year,” said Far North Coast Lifeguard Coordinator Scott McCartney.

“Our message to everyone, but particularly to school leavers visiting from outside the area, is to make that extra effort and swim between the red and yellow flags at a patrolled location.

“Come and have fun but give yourself plenty of time to recover before going for a swim after a big night out.

“Every year we respond to emergency call-outs where people have gone for an early morning swim, with alcohol still in their system, and have found themselves in need of assistance” he said.

Surf Life Saving NSW is encouraging visitors to head to Main Beach Kingscliff, Byron Bay’s Main Beach or Lennox Head where Lifeguards will be on patrol for the three-week Schoolies period. All local surf clubs will be patrolling over the weekends.

Additionally, the Far North Coast Branch of Surf Life Saving has activated their Support Operations team for the entire duration of the festivities. That means jet skis, four-wheel drives and duty officers are available to respond to emergencies if required.

The impact of Schoolies week also extends down the coast to towns including Port Macquarie, Forster, South West Rocks and Batemans Bay which have all experienced a surge in popularity with schoolies in recent years.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce hopes that the key message of “watching out for your mates” will get through to all teenagers visiting the beach during Schoolies week.

“While our lifesavers and lifeguards are all extremely well-trained, it is important for everyone to know the dangers and to watch out for your friends while enjoying the water.

“There are many wonderful beaches across NSW, and they are great places to relax after the stress of exams, but it is crucial for everyone to be aware of the importance of surf safety.

“Please take the time to familiarise yourself with local conditions, always swim between the flags during patrolled hours, ask lifeguards or lifesavers for advice and avoid the temptation of swimming after consuming alcohol or swimming at night,” Mr Pearce said.

Far North Coast Patrolled Beaches - Schoolies Weeks (16 November to 8 December).
  • Duranbah - Lifeguards (7 days per week). Starts 1 December.
  • Kingscliff - Lifeguards (Mon-Fri). Volunteer Surf Lifesavers (Weekends). Currently operational.
  • Byron Main Beach - Lifeguards (Mon-Fri). Volunteer Surf Lifesavers (Weekends). Currently operational.
  • Lennox Head - Lifeguards (Mon-Fri). Volunteer Surf Lifesavers (Weekends). Currently Operational.
Schoolies Safety Checklist:
  • Only swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
  • Don’t swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Never swim at night
  • Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
  • Look after your mates, and know where your group is while in the water
  • Call triple-zero (000) to report an in-water emergency.

WSL Sydney Surf Pro “Drops In” To Manly For 2020-2022

Friday November 15th, 2019
Manly will host the World Surf League’s newest event – the Sydney Surf Pro – over the next three years.

The NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, has secured the event exclusively for Sydney as part of the new global WSL Challenger Series.

The WSL Sydney Surf Pro will include men’s and women’s events and is locked in for Manly from 2020 to 2022, with the first event to take place between 8-14 March next year.

Member for Manly James Griffin said Manly is Australia’s home of surfing and has successfully hosted countless international, national and local surfing contests.

“Manly staged the first-ever world championships in May 1964, and in March this year our iconic four-kilometre beach attracted 11-time world champion Kelly Slater to compete,” Mr Griffin said.

“I made a commitment that not only would we retain a pro surfing event, but would grow it to ensure Manly had a diverse calendar of events that locals are proud of and we showcase our beautiful part of the world. This announcement delivers on that commitment.

“Where better to kick off the WSL Challenger Series than in the hub of surf culture that is Manly?”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the event positioned NSW and Manly firmly on the map for the enthusiastic world surfing fraternity.

“The WSL Sydney Surf Pro will be the first event of the Challenger Series, so fans and athletes worldwide will be sizing up the competition as the action unfolds at Manly,” Minister Ayres said.

“We expect that over the next three years the Sydney Surf Pro will deliver $3.7 million in visitor spend for NSW from more than 4,000 visitors and over 25,000 visitor nights.

“NSW is loved by surfers and travelers alike for our unforgettable coastline, world-class hospitality and the State’s incomparable calendar of sport, art, culture and lifestyle events.”

The WSL Challenger Series, announced in September, is a new level of competition that provides athletes with more opportunities at the highest level to qualify for the elite Championship Tour.

WSL Asia Pacific General Manager Andrew Stark is thrilled that one of Australia’s most iconic beaches will be a part of this exciting new series.

“Manly has such a rich history in Australian and International surfing. Holding the inaugural WSL Challenger Series event here will continue this lineage of historical surfing moments which WSL is really excited about.

“We’re thrilled that Destination NSW have come on board to ensure Australia will have a stop on the newly announced WSL Challenger Series. We look forward to returning to Manly and delivering a fantastic and truly international event in Sydney.”
Jordy Lawler wins Sydney Surf Pro 2019 - photo by Ethan Smith/Surfing NSW

Stage Set For Women’s Qualification Showdown At Port Stephens Toyota Pro Pres. By Sisstrevolution 

A field of almost 100 of the world’s best female surfers have touched down in New South Wales ahead of the 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro presented by Sisstrevolution, World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 6000 event.
Being the final event on the 2019 Qualifying Series it will be the last chance for competitors to gain all-important QS points as they look to book themselves a spot on the elite Championship Tour (CT) in 2020.
Former CT competitor Chelsea Tuach (BRB) has struggled to find her way back to the ‘dream tour’ since being relegated at the end of her rookie season in 2016. The Barbados representative has arrived in Port Stephens sitting just one spot outside of the qualification cut off meaning a solid result here will almost guarantee her a spot back where she belongs in 2020.
“Coming into this event I’m sitting quite a few spots higher than at the same time over the last few years so I’m definitely feeling a bit more pressure this time around,” Tuach said. “I love having that pressure though because this is where I want to be at this end of the season. Since falling off the CT at the end of 2016 it’s taken me a few years to find my feet and get back in a position to qualify so I’m stoked to be going for it this year. I also know if it doesn’t happen this year, it wasn’t meant to be, and I’ll come into the QS in 2020 with a much stronger seed.”
Former WSL Australia / Oceania Regional QS Champion Mikaela Greene (AUS) has only just returned to competitive surfing after taking almost two years off to star in a reality renovation television show. Greene was awarded the wildcard into the Port Stephens Toyota Pro and although she isn’t in range of qualifying, she is stoked to get the opportunity to mix it with the best as she warms up for the 2020 QS season.
“I’ve got no pressure on me coming into this event which feels really nice,” Greene said. “Obviously I want to do well and the better I do the better my seed will be in 2020 but it’s nice knowing that my year won’t be decided by this contest. I’m a really competitive person so it feels amazing to be back at a surfing event and preparing to compete. I can’t wait to get the jersey on and get my feet back in the wax and play some part in the qualification race over the next few days.”
Having already guaranteed her spot as a rookie on the 2020 CT, Isabella Nichols (AUS) comes into the final event of the 2019 QS season feeling far more relaxed than previous years. With goal number one taken care of, the 2016 WSL World Junior Champion is now solely focussed on a win at Birubi Beach his weekend.
“It’s nice to come into this event without really needing a result,” Nichols said. “Winning the entire QS would be awesome and there are three of us that are really close, so I’d need a win here to do that. I’d like to win the event and it’s definitely the goal but there are so many hungry competitors here, so it won’t be easy. There is so much riding on this event and I definitely think it is the most important of the year for the women – I’m nervous for all of the girls that are so close to qualifying. I can’t wait to watch it all unfold over the weekend.”
With 6000 points on offer, anyone in the top 30 has a mathematical chance at clinching one of the 6 spots on offer meaning the scenarios will be ever-changing throughout the weekend. That coupled with appearances from CT surfers including Bronte Macaulay (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL), Sage Erickson (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), and Macy Callaghan (AUS) to name a few will make the 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro one of the most exciting events on the WSL calendar.
The 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro pres. by Sisstrevolution women’s QS6,000 event will run from November 15 – 17. To watch the event live, head to or download the free WSL App.
The 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro pres. by Sisstrevolution is proudly brought to you by Port Stephens Toyota, Sisstrevolution, Port Stephens Council, Newcastle Airport, AirAsia, PRD Nationwide, Crest Cafe, Kaos Surf, Middle Rock Holiday Resort, Wanderers Retreat, Bondi Chai, WSL and Surfing NSW.

Photo: (L-R) Chelsea Tuach (BRB), Mikaela Greene (AUS), Isabella Nichols (AUS) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS) gathered  for the launch of the 2019 Port Stephens Pro at Birubi Beach. Image by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW

'I cheated on a school exam and I feel terrible. How can I get past this?'

We often spend a lot of time beating ourselves up over something that seems worse in our heads than in reality. from
Lydia WoodyattFlinders University

With so many external pressures, I yielded to cheating on an exam. I feel absolutely terrible as it is not what I stand for at all, a lot of people seem to hate me and I totally respect their opinion as what I did was wrong … but I’m so scared that now it will define me; before I had a perfect record and outstanding achievements and I don’t know how I can get past it. – Anonymous

Key Points

  • everyone makes mistakes, but they don’t define us
  • our brains are wired to make us feel shame after making a mistake
  • forgive yourself!

You’re not the only person who has done something you wish you hadn’t. By the time we reach adulthood most, if not all, of us have. People cheat, lie, hurt others, or fail. It’s part of the human condition.

Many people have cheated in exams. For example, nearly 30% of university students who responded to a 2012 UK survey agreed they had “submitted work taken wholly from an internet source” as their own.

Read more: When does getting help on an assignment turn into cheating?

These mistakes don’t have to define us. If we work through them in a healthy way, mistakes can help shape who we are, what we care about, and how we treat others.

At the time, mistakes can be painful. It can seem to be this huge thing, occupying lots of our thoughts, impacting how we see ourselves and making it feel like everyone else will be focused on this failure forever.

But think of someone you know who has made a mistake. Do you spend all your time thinking about that person’s failure – is that failure all the person is to you? Probably not. Humans spend most of their time thinking about themselves, and humans have lots of ways of reconciling, forgiving and forgetting.

So why does our brain make us feel like it’s the end of the world when we fail?

Blame Our Brains

Humans are a group species. Our brains have evolved to pay attention to when people might exclude or judge us for being a bad or inappropriate group member.

Our brains are wired to make us feel awful when we believe we’ve been an inappropriate member of our social group. from

When we do something wrong, our feelings act like an alert signal; a red flashing yucky feeling telling us there is a problem. These guilty feelings can be especially bad if we think about our mistake in certain ways. Thoughts like:

“This is going to affect how everyone sees me!”


“People are never going to trust me again!”

Blowing up the negative consequences in your mind, predicting the future in a negative way, or rehearsing how bad a person you are, are types of thinking that can send that red alert into overdrive.

Another way we keep the red alert on is if we avoid the issue and don’t take time to work through what happened. Research shows avoiding things that make us feel shame can actually just make us feel worse.

Instead, you can learn to forgive yourself. Start by taking responsibility – rather than trying to explain it away or avoid it, own up to it and say to yourself “yep, I did that”.

Read more: If someone hurt you this year, forgiving them may improve your health (as long as you're safe, too)

Then, you need to work through what happened. Research shows reaffirming our values is one of the most effective ways of working through our wrongdoing and forgiving ourselves.

Forgive Yourself. Here’s How

Reaffirm your values

Write a letter to yourself answering the following questions:

  1. What value have I broken in this situation? (Values are what character traits you find important. These could be generosity, fairness or authenticity. If you have trouble identifying your values, this can help.)
  2. Why is that value important to me?
  3. What is a time in the past I have acted in a way that is consistent with that value?
  4. What would it mean to act consistent with that value over the next day, week and month? (This may include confessing to someone, an apology or a commitment to do it right next time.)

Write three ideas of what you could do, and plan to do one of them this week. Remind yourself of these values and your commitment to them whenever you feel guilty.

Write a letter to yourself outlining your values. Remember them every time you feel guilty. Hannah Olinger/Unsplash

Accept your emotions as feelings, not facts

Emotions are part of the way our body responds to a situation. But they are not perfect. They are like a torch in a dark room, focusing our attention on a small part of the room, but missing other things.

Write a thought diary of your feelings and thoughts. Then go back over what you have written and think:

Is this really the full picture of what is happening, or am I keeping my alert button on by practising unhelpful thinking?

Remember you’re a human

When we fail, we sometimes hold ourselves up against perfect standards. But we are human, which means we don’t always have perfect knowledge of the future, control of our own feelings, or wisdom about how to act in the moment.

Instead of beating yourself up about what you could or should have done, acknowledge you are not perfect – then choose to pursue your values moving forward.

Talk it out with others

Often we keep our failures private. But since our brain is monitoring for risk of rejection, it stays active in case others find out or are already judging us because they know.

Talking it out with others can help because we have also evolved a sense of compassion and can often be kinder to others than to ourselves.

Seek help

Underlying depression or other health or mental-health issues may be making our feelings of guilt, regret, shame, fear or embarrassment worse. If your feelings don’t change (especially if they continue for two weeks or more) then it is probably a good idea to chat to a psychologist, counsellor or your doctor.

Read more: 'What is wrong with me? I'm never happy and I hate school'

You can also call Beyond Blue at any time on 1300 22 4636; or Kids Helpline, a service specifically for children and young people aged 5-25 on 1800 55 1800.

I Need to Know is an ongoing series for teens in search of reliable, confidential advice about life’s tricky questions.

If you’re a teenager and have a question you’d like answered by an expert, you can:

Please tell us your name (you can use a fake name if you don’t want to be identified), age and which city you live in. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.The Conversation

Lydia Woodyatt, Senior Lecturer, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, Flinders University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The 2019 Comedy Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Is: Sarah Skinner

Thursday, November 14th, 2019
Taken in Botswana, the winning entry shows the wonderful moment of a cub and adult lion ‘playing’...although the thought of what might have happened next, truly makes the eyes water!

Commenting on the good news, Sarah said:
“I am absolutely delighted to be awarded the title as Overall Winner in the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards2019. It certainly warms my heart to know that this image will spread some laughter and happiness around the world. I am happy to report that this cub continues to thrive in the pride, having seen her again in October this year. I can only hope and encourage everyone, as a collective to each do our part in the conservation of all wildlife species, so that future generations can enjoy them, in the same way that I have done during my career as a wildlife photographer. Long may lions walk the plains……….”

Sarah’s image wins her some incredible prizes;  A fantastic safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya, courtesy of Alex Walker's Serian, along with the unique handmade trophy from the Wonder Workshop in Tanzania, an Airport Advantage bag from THINK TANK, and an iPad preloaded with the Affinity Photo’s award-winning software.

This year has been fantastic, and it is almost unfair to have to select an outright winner.  But thanks to all your entries we are managing to reach more and more people with our conservation message - the most important part of this competition. 

What is the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards?
The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, ingeniously titled to avoid any confusion, was the result of two factors: Firstly, a need for a photography competition that was light hearted, upbeat, possibly unpretentious and mainly about wildlife doing funny things. 4 years on and these objectives seem to have been met. Secondly, and way more importantly, this competition is about conservation.

None of us are perfect, all of us at some point will fly somewhere, drive somewhere, cook something, burn something and probably provide some direct input into the general warming of the globe. Indirectly, we will also have some impact on the animals that share this planet with us. So the end result?

By entering this competition it gives both Paul and Tom and the rest of you talented photographers a chance to do a little bit for conservation. How? Well… you are now obviously going to go to your office, home, pub, club or wherever and talk about the dire need for us all to be conservationists in our own little way. Also, perhaps you will go to Born Free’s website and have a look at the work they do and spread that word as well.

It’s not a lot necessarily but it is the right step forwards. And one step leads to the next step. With your help and the help of Born Free it’s way more than we could possibly have done without them and without you.

We hope that you feel the same way, keep clicking and keep appreciating the other living things that we live with.

Thanks, to all of you.
Paul and Tom

One of us is the Founder and an inspired wildlife photographer (@pj_hicks) and the other one is the grown up Chair of the Judges and Competition Director and Landscape photographer (yawn - but admittedly he has won not one but TWO awards...? Shut it Tom) (@sullamphoto)

One of our favourites among this year's Finalists and those Commended: 'Surfing….South Atlantic Style!'  photo by Elmar Weiss
'Surfing….South Atlantic Style!'  photo by Elmar Weiss

Friday essay: shaved, shaped and slit - eyebrows through the ages

In ancient China, India and the Middle East, the art of eyebrow threading was popular. It is now enjoying a resurgence.
Lydia EdwardsEdith Cowan University

Eyebrows can turn a smile into a leer, a grumpy pout into a come hither beckoning, and sad, downturned lips into a comedic grimace.

So, it’s little wonder these communicative markers of facial punctuation have been such a feature of beauty and fashion since the earliest days of recorded civilisation.

From completely shaved mounds to thick, furry lines, eyebrows are a part of the face we continue to experiment with. We seek to hide, exacerbate and embellish them. And today, every shopping strip and mall has professionals ready to assist us with wax, thread and ink.

Minimising Distraction

In the court of Elizabeth I, to draw attention to the perceived focal point of a woman’s body – her breasts – the monarch would pluck her eyebrows into thin lines or remove them completely, as well as shaving off hair at the top of her forehead.

Many of her subjects followed Queen Elizabeth’s shaved eyebrow example. New York Public LibraryCC BY

This was an attempt to make her face plain and blank, thereby directing the viewer’s gaze lower to her substantial décolletage.

Although the intentions were different, nonexistent or needle-thin brows had also been common in ancient China and other Asian cultures, where women plucked their eyebrows to resemble specific shapes with designated names such as “distant mountain” (likely referring to a central and distinctive point in the brow), “drooping pearl” and “willow branch”.

In ancient China, as well as in India and the Middle East, the technique of threading - the removal of hairs by twisting strands of cotton thread - was popular for its accuracy. The technique, referred to as “khite” in Arabic and “fatlah” in Egyptian, is enjoying renewed popularity today.

Detail from Tayu with Phoenix Robe, a Japanese painting by an anonymous artist. Honolulu Academy of Arts/WikimediaCC BY

In Japan between 794 and 1185, both men and women plucked their eyebrows out almost entirely and replaced them with new pencilled lines higher up on the forehead.

Eyebrows of Ancient Greece and Rome, on the other hand, are frozen in contemplation.

They are often represented in sculptures through expressive mounds devoid of individual or even vaguely suggested hairs: in men they are strong and masterful furrows above a purposeful gaze; in women, soft and emotive.

Bronze portrait of a man from early first century with masterful furrows. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This lack of detail demonstrates a fondness, in some corners of ancient Greek and Roman society, for joined or “continuous” brows.

Poet of tenderness, Theocritus, openly admired eyebrows “joined over the nose” like his own, as did Byzantine Isaac Porphyrogenitus.

Brows As Barometers

For much of the 19th century, cosmetics for women were viewed with suspicion, principally as the province of actresses and prostitutes. This meant facial enhancement was subtle and eyebrows, though gently shaped, were kept relatively natural.

Despite this restraint, a certain amount of effort still went into cultivation. A newspaper article from 1871 suggested intervention during childhood to thicken them:

If a child’s eyebrows threaten to be thin, brush them softly every night with a little coconut oil, and they will gradually become strong and full; and, in order to give them a curve, press them gently between the thumb and forefinger after every ablution of the face or hands.

As fashions became freer after the first world war, attention was once again focused more overtly on the eyes and eyebrows.

Louise Brooks’ high brow bob showed off her neck and her eyebrows. New York Public Library

This was partly to do with the development of beauty salons during the 1920s, many of which offered classes in makeup application so women could create new, bold looks at home.

The fashion for very thin eyebrows was popularised by silent film stars such as Buster Keaton and Louise Brooks, for whom thick kohl was a professional necessity and allowed a clearer vision of the eyebrows – so crucial, after all, for nonverbal expression on screen.

The amount of attention paid to eyebrows continued to change according to specific global events.

In the 1940s, women began to favour thicker, natural brows after several decades of rigorous plucking to achieve pencil-thin lines. Considering the outbreak of the second world war had forced many out of a wholly domestic existence and into the workforce, it stands to reason they had less time to spend in front of the mirror, wielding a pair of tweezers and eyebrow pencil.

The natural look, circa 1943. Author provided

The post-war 1950s saw wide, yet more firmly defined brows and from the 1960s onwards various shapes, sizes and thicknesses were experimented with, accompanied by a firm emphasis on individuality and personal preference.

A brow beautician in a South Yarra salon in 1960. Laurie Richards Studio/National Library of AustraliaCC BY

More Than Mono

When Dwight Edwards Marvin’s collection of adages and maxims, Curiosities in Proverbs, was published in 1916 it included the old English advice:

If your eyebrows meet across your nose, you’ll never live to wear your wedding clothes.

The “mono-” or “uni-brow” had become suggestive of a lack of self care, particularly in women.

Research undertaken in 2004 reported American women felt judged and evaluated as “dirty”, “gross” or even “repulsive” if they did not shave their underarm or leg hair, or pluck and shape their eyebrows. As the most visible of these areas, untamed eyebrows perhaps point to the bravest exhibition of natural hair.

Today, model Sophia Hadjipanteli sports a pair of impressively large, dark joined eyebrows, and has assertively fought back against the legion of online trolls who have abused her for this point of difference.

Model Sophia Hadjipanteli and her distinctive brow. Instagram

A reference back to the distinctive brows of Frida Kahlo, Hadjipanteli’s look is linked to an ongoing debate surrounding women’s body hair.

Artist Frida Kahlo and her famous monobrow. Guillermo Kahlo/Wikimedia

Giving A Pluck

For many, excessive plucking and shaping has become emblematic of the myriad requirements women are expected to comply with to satisfy restrictive societal beauty norms.

Still, plenty of people with eyebrows are dedicating time and money to their upkeep. In Australia, the personal waxing and nail salon industry has grown steadily over five years to be worth an estimated A$1.3 billion and employ more than 20,000 people.

Over this time, social media has offered a diverse and changing menu of brow choices and displays.

One choice: the “eyebrow slit” – thin vertical cuts in eyebrow hair – has re-emerged online and in suburban high schools. It’s important to emphasise re-emerged because, with beauty as with clothing, what goes around comes around.

Vanilla Ice, working the eyebrow slit since 1991. Smash Hits/Twitter

The eyebrow slit was especially popular amongst hip hop artists in the 1990s, and draws appeal due to its flexibility: there are no firm rules as to the number or width of the slits, which originally were meant to suggest scarring from a recent fight or gangsta adventure. More recent converts have been accused of cultural appropriation.

Some have experimented by replacing plain slits with other shapes, such as hearts or stars, though plucking or shaving brows into unusual shapes is – as we have seen – by no means new either.

Facing The Day

If the popularity of recent trends is anything to go by, eyebrow fashion will remain on the lush side for some time.

The “Scouse” brow (very thick, wide and angular eyebrows emphasised with highly defined dark pencil shapes: named after natives of Liverpool in the United Kingdom) is still trending.

The “Instagram eyebrow” (thick brows plucked and painted to create a gradient, going from light to very dark as the brow ends) is inescapable on the platform and beyond. Makeup for brows is therefore also likely to continue, providing a clear linear connection through nearly all the eyebrow ideals since ancient times.

The latest offering to those seeking a groomed look is “eyebrow lamination”, a chemical treatment that uses keratin to straighten individual hairs - a kind of anti-perm for your brow.

Those still searching for their eyebrow aesthetic may benefit from some wisdom shared by crime and society reporter Viola Rodgers in an 1898 edition of the San Francisco Call newspaper.

In a piece which ran alongside an interview with the man who had inspired Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer character, she advised that the appearance of one’s brow conveyed more than just their grooming habits:

An arched eyebrow … is expressive of great sensibility … Heavy, thick eyebrows indicate a strong constitution and great physical endurance … Long, drooping eyebrows indicate an amiable disposition and faintly defined eyebrows placed high above the nose are signs of indolence and weakness.

Eyebrow slits? We can only imagine what Viola would think.The Conversation

Lydia Edwards, Fashion historian, Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Trauma And Kids: The Role Of The Early Childhood Teacher

November 12, 2019
As catastrophic bushfires continue to rage across New South Wales and Queensland, thousands of people are reeling from the devastation. It's a shocking start to Australia's fire season, but beyond the physical damage, the emotional scars persist, especially for Australia's youngest citizens.

Now, in new research from the University of South Australia, researchers have explored the growing uncertainty faced by children aged 0-8 years in disaster zones, finding that early childhood teachers hold a vital role in supporting children dealing with trauma.

Globally, nearly 535 million children -- nearly one in four -- live in countries that affected by conflict or disaster, with hundreds more displaced as they seek safe refuge overseas. Today, many families and children are integrated into Australian schools, bringing with them many experiences of personal trauma.

Lead researcher, Professor Marjory Ebbeck, says we must not underestimate the role that an early childhood teacher plays in securing the emotional development of a child.

"Teachers hold a unique place for a young child. Outside their family, they're one of the most trusted and familiar faces who, in their role as a teacher, provide a welcoming and secure environment for the child to learn and develop," Prof Ebbeck says.

"When young children are confronted by trauma -- whether through natural disasters such as Australia's bushfires, or humanmade disasters such as conflicts in the Middle East ¬¬- they carry all their worries, confusion and emotions with them, and that's where teachers need to be prepared.

"Unfortunately, despite the push from international agencies to include the needs of children in disaster preparation and risk reduction strategies, few have filtered down into education programs, which means there are still large gaps in the system."

Right now, many early childhood teachers will be caring for young children who have lost their homes and precious possessions due to the fires across NSW and Queensland. No doubt, these teachers are doing everything they can to support their students, but as Prof Ebbeck says, they may not have the the right training to be successful.

In lieu of a child-specific national disaster strategy, Prof Ebbeck says there are many things teachers in childcare, preschool or early primary school can do to prepare.

"Helping a child through an emergency or trauma requires a holistic approach that not only encompasses socio-emotional development but also practical strategies, both pre, during and post emergency," Prof Ebbeck says.

"Educating children about emergencies is essential and teachers should involve their class in practice sessions so that in the event of a real emergency, children will know what to do. It's important for children to have confidence in their teachers' ability to keep them safe.

"Part of this is about being aware of what's happening in the world -- teachers can use current events to educate children in their environmental studies classes.

"Safety of children and teachers is always paramount. It's critical that teachers know their school's emergency plan, evacuation procedures, and understand how they should respond in specific events, such as bushfires.

"Of course, communication is vital. Keeping parents informed about what their children are learning is important, especially in the case of a real emergency. It also helps create a circle of trust between parents, children and teachers."

Today, with more than 600 schools and colleges closing their doors today due to bushfires in NSW and Queensland, Prof Ebbeck says teachers should be prepared to support children who may have suffered.

"There are several strategies teachers can use to help children reintegrate into the school environment," Prof Ebbeck says.

"We recommend:
  • Checking in with the child's parents -- make sure they have enough of the essentials -- food, clothing, and somewhere to stay.
  • Making sure your classroom is safe, both physically and emotionally -- familiar and welcoming surroundings create a sense of security and belonging for children.
  • Listening to children -- don't avoid difficult questions. Children are curious and need to work through their worries and concerns.
  • Delivering consistent and predictable routines -- children love routines. Having a safe, predictable environment creates stability and security.
  • Checking in on friendships -- make sure the child is still engaging with their peers and friendships helps them build confidence, and well-being.
  • Providing opportunities for expression -- dramatic play and artwork enable children to freely express and explore their feelings.
  • Maintaining trust- building secure relationships are essential. A trusting, caring environment provides the best basis to build self-esteem and resilience.
"There's no doubt the role of the teacher is complex, especially when their students and community are confronted by trauma or disaster.

"And, while we cannot prevent disasters from happening, understanding more about what teachers can do to prepare for and respond to an emergency situation, can certainly help."

Marjory Ebbeck, Hoi Yin Bonnie Yim, Ting Wei. Preparing children for an uncertain future: the role of the early childhood teacher. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 2019; 0 DOI: 10.1080/10901027.2019.1617808

First Evidence Of Feathered Polar Dinosaurs Found In Australia

November 12, 2019
A cache of 118 million-year-old fossilised dinosaur and bird feathers has been recovered from an ancient lake deposit that once lay beyond the southern polar circle.

Feathered dinosaur fossils are famous, but known from a handful of localities worldwide. Examples from the Southern Hemisphere are especially rare, and mainly include only isolated feathers.

An international team of scientists has analysed a collection of 10 such fossil feathers found in Australia, which reveal an unexpected diversity of tufted hair-like 'proto-feathers' from meat-eating dinosaurs, together with downy body feathers, and wing feathers from primitive birds that would have been used for flight.

Uniquely, the fossil feathers from Australia were all entombed in fine muddy sediments that accumulated at the bottom of a shallow lake close to the South Pole during the Age of Dinosaurs.

"Dinosaur skeletons and even the fragile bones of early birds have been found at ancient high-latitudes before. Yet, to date, no directly attributable integumentary remains have been discovered to show that dinosaurs used feathers to survive in extreme polar habitats," said Dr Benjamin Kear from Uppsala University in Sweden, a leading author on the study.

"These Australian fossil feathers are therefore highly significant because they came from dinosaurs and small birds that were living in a seasonally very cold environment with months of polar darkness every year."

The fossil feathers were discovered in the Koonwarra Fish Beds Geological Reserve, which is a heritage listed site 145 km southeast of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia.

"Fossil feathers have been known from Koonwarra since the early 1960s, and were recognised as evidence of ancient birds, but have otherwise received very little scientific attention. Our study is thus the first to comprehensively document these remains, which include new specimens that were examined using cutting-edge technologies," said Dr Thomas Rich of the Melbourne Museum in Australia, who has led numerous expeditions to the Koonwarra locality.

A suite of advanced microscopic and spectroscopic techniques was employed to determine the anatomy and preservation of the Koonwarra fossil dinosaur and bird feathers.

"The Koonwarra feathers are preserved in incredible detail," said fossil bird expert Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich of Monash University and the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

"There are even tiny filament-like structures that would have 'zipped' the feather vanes together, just as in the flight feathers of modern birds."

However, unlike the structurally complex feathers of birds today, which are characterised by interlocking branches called barbs and barbules, different kinds of small dinosaurs had coverings that comprised much more simpler hair-like 'proto-feathers'.

"Dinosaur 'proto-feathers' would have been used for insulation," said Dr Martin Kundrát, of Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Slovakia, a leading author on the study.

"The discovery of 'proto-feathers' at Koonwarra therefore suggests that fluffy feather coats might have helped small dinosaurs keep warm in ancient polar habitats."

Microscopic remains of possible melanosomes ? cellular structures that contain colour pigments ? were also detected on several of the fossil feathers found at Koonwarra.

These traces occurred across the uniformly dark feather surfaces, as well as in distinct bands that might represent original patterning from the polar dinosaurs and birds.

Melanic residues have been reported on fossil feathers from elsewhere around the world, and are widely acknowledged as indicators of dinosaur colouration.

The densely packed fossil melanosomes occurring on the Koonwarra feathers could suggest dark colours that perhaps assisted in camouflage, visual communication, and/or heat absorbance in cold polar climates.

Possible preservation of biomolecules was also assessed, but proved to be too degraded, and were apparently lost during weathering of the rock.

The Koonwarra fossil feathers provide the first record of dinosaur integument from the ancient polar regions, and hint what was once a global distribution of feathered dinosaurs and early birds.

Some of the fossil feathers found at Koonwarra are on display in the '600 Million Years' exhibition at the Melbourne Museum in Australia.

Martin Kundrát, Thomas H. Rich, Johan Lindgren, Peter Sjövall, Patricia Vickers-Rich, Luis M. Chiappe, Benjamin P. Kear. A polar dinosaur feather assemblage from Australia. Gondwana Research, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/

Study Shows Link Between Health And Size Of Social Group

November 14, 2019
A new study has found that crows living in large social groups are healthier than crows that have fewer social interactions.

The research, led by Dr Claudia Wascher of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), has been published this week in the journal Animal Behaviour.

Dr Wascher and her colleagues studied a population of captive carrion crows over a six-year period. They monitored the behaviour of the crows in different sized groups and measured friendship by ranking the birds using a sociality index.

At the same time, they studied the crows' droppings to measure for the presence of coccidian oocyst, a gastrointestinal parasite that can represent an important health threat for birds.

Increased exposure to parasites and disease transmission is considered as one of the major disadvantages of group living. This new study, however, shows the opposite effect.

The researchers found that crows with strong social bonds, living with more relatives, and in larger groups, excreted a significantly smaller proportion of droppings containing parasites than less sociable crows.

The study did not find a connection between health and the crow's dominance within the group, but found that male crows (33%) were slightly more likely to carry the parasite than females (28%).

Dr Wascher, Senior Lecturer in Biology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: "Crows are a highly social bird and we found that crows with the strongest social bonds excreted fewer samples containing coccidian oocyst, which is a common parasite in birds.

"It is a commonly-held belief that animals in larger groups are less healthy, as illness spreads from individual to individual more easily. We also know from previous studies that aggressive social interactions can be stressful for birds and that over time chronic activation of the physiological stress response can dampen the immune system, which can make individuals more susceptible to parasites.

"Therefore the results from our six-year study, showing a correlation between sociability and health, are significant. It could be that having close social bonds reduces stress levels in crows, which in turn makes them less susceptible to parasites.

"It could also be that healthier crows are more sociable. However, as many of the birds we studied were socialising within captive family groups, dictated by the number of crows within that family, we believe that social bonds in general affect the health of crows, and not vice versa."

Claudia A.F. Wascher, Daniela Canestrari, Vittorio Baglione. Affiliative social relationships and coccidian oocyst excretion in a cooperatively breeding bird species. Animal Behaviour, 2019; 158: 121 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.10.009

Bacteria In The Gut May Alter Ageing Process

November 14, 2019
An international research team led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has found that microorganisms living in the gut may alter the ageing process, which could lead to the development of food-based treatment to slow it down.

All living organisms, including human beings, coexist with a myriad of microbial species living in and on them, and research conducted over the last 20 years has established their important role in nutrition, physiology, metabolism and behaviour.

Using mice, the team led by Professor Sven Pettersson from the NTU Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, transplanted gut microbes from old mice (24 months old) into young, germ-free mice (6 weeks old). After eight weeks, the young mice had increased intestinal growth and production of neurons in the brain, known as neurogenesis.

The team showed that the increased neurogenesis was due to an enrichment of gut microbes that produce a specific short chain fatty acid, called butyrate.

Butyrate is produced through microbial fermentation of dietary fibres in the lower intestinal tract and stimulates production of a pro-longevity hormone called FGF21, which plays an important role in regulating the body's energy and metabolism. As we age, butyrate production is reduced.

The researchers then showed that giving butyrate on its own to the young germ-free mice had the same adult neurogenesis effects.

The study was published in Science Translational Medicine yesterday (13 November), and was undertaken by researchers from Singapore, UK, and Australia.

"We've found that microbes collected from an old mouse have the capacity to support neural growth in a younger mouse," said Prof Pettersson. "This is a surprising and very interesting observation, especially since we can mimic the neuro-stimulatory effect by using butyrate alone."

"These results will lead us to explore whether butyrate might support repair and rebuilding in situations like stroke, spinal damage and to attenuate accelerated ageing and cognitive decline."

How gut microbes impact the digestive system
The team also explored the effects of gut microbe transplants from old to young mice on the functions of the digestive system.

With age, the viability of small intestinal cells is reduced, and this is associated with reduced mucus production that make intestinal cells more vulnerable to damage and cell death.

However, the addition of butyrate helps to better regulate the intestinal barrier function and reduce the risk of inflammation.

The team found that mice receiving microbes from the old donor gained increases in length and width of the intestinal villi -- the wall of the small intestine. In addition, both the small intestine and colon were longer in the old mice than the young germ-free mice.

The discovery shows that gut microbes can compensate and support an ageing body through positive stimulation.

This points to a new potential method for tackling the negative effects of ageing by imitating the enrichment and activation of butyrate.

"We can conceive of future human studies where we would test the ability of food products with butyrate to support healthy ageing and adult neurogenesis," said Prof Pettersson.

"In Singapore, with its strong food culture, exploring the use of food to 'heal' ourselves, would be an intriguing next step, and the results could be important in Singapore's quest to support healthy ageing for their silver generation."

Group leader Dr Dario Riccardo Valenzano at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany, who was not involved in the study, said the discovery is a milestone in research on microbiome.

"These results are exciting and raise several new open questions for both biology of aging and microbiome research, including whether there is an active acquisition of butyrate producing microbes during mice life and whether extreme aging leads to a loss of this fundamental microbial community, which may be eventually responsible for dysbiosis and age-related dysfunctions," he added.

Professor Brian Kennedy, Director of the Centre for Healthy Ageing at the National University of Singapore, who provided an independent view, said, "It is intriguing that the microbiome of an aged animal can promote youthful phenotypes in a young recipient. This suggests that the microbiota with aging have been modified to compensate for the accumulating deficits of the host and leads to the question of whether the microbiome from a young animal would have greater or less effects on a young host. The findings move forward our understanding of the relationship between the microbiome and its host during ageing and set the stage for the development of microbiome-related interventions to promote healthy longevity."

The study builds on Prof Pettersson's earlier studies on how transplantation of gut microbes from healthy mice can restore muscle growth and function in germ-free mice with muscle atrophy, which is the loss of skeletal muscle mass.

Parag Kundu, Hae Ung Lee, Isabel Garcia-Perez, Emmy Xue Yun Tay, Hyejin Kim, Llanto Elma Faylon, Katherine A. Martin, Rikky Purbojati, Daniela I. Drautz-Moses, Sujoy Ghosh, Jeremy K. Nicholson, Stephan Schuster, Elaine Holmes, Sven Pettersson. Neurogenesis and prolongevity signaling in young germ-free mice transplanted with the gut microbiota of old mice. Science Translational Medicine, 2019; 11 (518): eaau4760 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau4760

Computer Scientists Develop New Tool That Generates Videos From Themed Text

November 14, 2019
In a world of novice photographers and videographers, capturing a deluge of content via their smartphones and handheld devices, there is a need for an intelligent, easy-to-use tool for automating the creation of movies and video montages. To date, many quality videos still rely on professional frame-based editing tools to manipulate raw footage and produce a coherent video with a captivating storyline.

A global team of computer scientists, from Tsinghua and Beihang Universities in China, Harvard University in the US and IDC Herzliya in Israel, have developed "Write-A-Video," a new tool that generates videos from themed text. Using words and text editing, the tool automatically determines which scenes or shots are chosen from a repository to illustrate the desired storyline. The tool enables novice users to produce quality video montages in a simple and user-friendly manner that doesn't require professional video production and editing skills.

The team is set to present their work at ACM SIGGRAPH Asia, held Nov. 17 to 20 in Brisbane, Australia. SIGGRAPH Asia, now in its 12th year, attracts the most respected technical and creative people from around the world in computer graphics, animation, interactivity, gaming, and emerging technologies.

While existing video editing tools still demand knowledge in video processing and editing, the researchers' new method allows novices to create videos that tell stories more naturally. Write-A-Video, say the researchers, allows users to create a video montage by simply editing the text that accompanies the video. For example, adding or deleting text, and moving sentences around convert to video-editing operations, such as finding corresponding shots, cutting and rearranging shots, and creating a final video montage result.

"Write-A-Video uses current advances in automatic video understanding and a unique user interface to allow more natural and simpler video creation," says Professor Ariel Shamir, Dean of the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science at IDC Herzliya. "With our tool, the user provides input mostly in the form of editing of text. The tool automatically searches for semantically matching candidate shots from a video repository, and then uses an optimization method to assemble the video montage by cutting and reordering the shots automatically."

"Write-A-Video also allows users to explore visual styles for each scene using cinematographic idioms generating, for example, faster or slower paced movies, less or more content movements, etc." explains Dr. Miao Wang from Beihang University.

When selecting candidate shots from the video repository, the method also considers the aesthetic appeal of the shots, choosing those that are ideally lit, that are well focused and are not blurry or unstable. "At any point, the user can render the movie and preview the video montage result with an accompanying voice-over narration." says Professor Shi-Min Hu from Tsinghua University.

The team's research shows that intelligent digital tools combining the abilities of humans and algorithms together can assist users in the creative process. "Our work demonstrates the potential of automatic visual-semantic matching in idiom-based computational editing, offering an intelligent way to make video creation more accessible to non-professionals," says Shamir.

For the study, the approach was tested on various pieces of themed text and video repositories, with quantitative evaluation and user studies. Users without any video editing experience could produce satisfactory videos using the Write-A-Video tool, sometimes even faster than professionals utilizing frame-based editing software. At SIGGRAPH Asia, the team will demonstrate the Write-A-Video application and showcase a variety of examples of text-to-video productions.

The team includes Miao Wang (State Key Lab of Virtual Reality Technology and Systems/Beihang University and Tsinghua University); Guo-Wei Yang (BNRist/Tsinghua University); Shi-Min Hu (BNRist/Tsinghua University); Shing-Tung Yau (Harvard) and Ariel Shamir (IDC Herzliya, Israel).

A video illustrating the project can be seen here:

Insulin Can Increase Mosquitoes' Immunity To West Nile Virus

November 13, 2019
A discovery by a Washington State University-led research team has the potential to inhibit the spread of West Nile virus as well as Zika and dengue viruses.

In a study published today in the journal Cell Reports, researchers demonstrated that mammalian insulin activated an antiviral immunity pathway in mosquitoes, increasing the insects' ability to suppress the viruses.

Mosquito bites are the most common way humans are infected with flaviviruses, a virus family that includes West Nile, dengue and Zika. In humans, both West Nile and dengue can result in severe illness, even death. Zika has been linked to birth defects when pregnant women are infected.

"It's really important that we have some sort of protection against these diseases because currently, we don't have any treatments. If we're able to stop the infection at the level of the mosquito, then humans wouldn't get the virus," said Laura Ahlers, the study's lead author and a recent Ph.D. graduate from WSU. Ahlers is now a post-doctoral fellow with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Working first with fruit flies, which have similar immune responses to mosquitoes, Ahlers and her colleagues identified an insulin-like receptor in the insects that, when activated, inhibits the replication of the West Nile virus in the flies. The researchers then elicited this same response in mosquitoes by feeding them blood containing elevated insulin. Subsequent tests showed activating this receptor was also effective in suppressing dengue and Zika in insect cells.

While it was already known that insulin boosts immune responses in mosquitoes, this is the first time insulin's connection to a particular immune response pathway, called JAK/STAT, has been identified. It is a significant step toward the long-term goal of creating an intervention, said Alan Goodman, WSU assistant professor and the corresponding author on the paper.

"If we can activate this arm of immunity through the insulin receptor in the mosquito, we can reduce the overall viral load in the mosquito population," Goodman said. "If the mosquitoes are carrying less virus when they bite you, they will transmit less of the virus, and there's a better chance you won't acquire the disease."

Laura R.H. Ahlers, Chasity E. Trammell, Grace F. Carrell, Sophie Mackinnon, Brandi K. Torrevillas, Clement Y. Chow, Shirley Luckhart, Alan G. Goodman. Insulin Potentiates JAK/STAT Signaling to Broadly Inhibit Flavivirus Replication in Insect Vectors. Cell Reports, 2019; 29 (7): 1946 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.10.029

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.