Inbox and environment news: Issue 537

May 8 - 14, 2022: Issue 537

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Forum: May 2022 - Speaker - Prof. Dennis Foley On The Aboriginal Heritage Of The Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment

Visit: to find out more and book a space at this forum

Local Wildlife Rescuers And Carers State That Ongoing Heavy Rains Are Tough For Us But Can Be Tougher For Our Wildlife:

  • Birds and possums can be washed out of trees, or the tree comes down, nests can disintegrate or hollows fill with water
  • Ground dwelling animals can be flooded out of their burrows or hiding places and they need to seek higher ground
  • They are at risk crossing roads as people can't see them and sudden braking causes accidents
  • The food may disappear - insects, seeds and pollens are washed away, nectar is diluted and animals can be starving
  • They are vulnerable in open areas to predators, including our pets
  • They can't dry out and may get hypothermia or pneumonia
  • Animals may seek shelter in your home or garage. 

You can help by:

  • Keeping your pets indoors
  • Assessing for wounds or parasites
  • Putting out towels or shelters like boxes to provide a place to hide
  • Drive to conditions and call a rescue group if you see an animal hit (or do a pouch check or get to a vet if you can stop)
  • If you are concerned take a photo and talk to a rescue group or wildlife carer

There are 2 rescue groups in the Northern Beaches:

Sydney Wildlife: 9413 4300

WIRES: 1300 094 737

Please be patient as there could be a few enquiries regarding the wildlife. 

Generally Sydney Wildlife do not recommend offering food but it may help in some cases. Please ensure you know what they generally eat and any offerings will not make them sick. You can read more on feeding wildlife here 

Information courtesy Ed Laginestra, Sydney Wildlife volunteer. Photo: Warriewood Wetlands Wallaby by Kevin Murray, March 2022.

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA) Autumn 2022 Newsletter

Our PNHA Newsletter 91 is now on our website. We've been busy! 
Below: Pastel Flower Pseuderanthemum variabile flowers can be white, pink or mauve, about as big as a violet. It is a tiny herb of shady rainforest or wet eucalyptus forest, north of Bega in NSW. It spreads by seed and rhizomes. More: in: 
This one is in Spotted Gum forest at Newport.

Photo: PNHA

Cassia Flowering Now: Dispose Of This Weed To Stop The Spread

Cassia (Senna pendula). Also known as Senna and Arsenic Bush. Originating in South American, Cassia is a perennial sprawling multi-stemmed shrub or tree up to 5m tall. 

This weed replaces native vegetation and establishes in a wide range of native plant communities, including coastal heath and scrubland, hind dunes and riparian corridors. The large seed pods are eaten by birds and other animals. You may be seeing this bright burst of yellow everywhere as it is currently flowering - please pull out and get rid of if you have in your garden.

Darkinjung Plans For 600 Homes On Central Coast's Lake Munmorah Now On Exhibition: Closes May 24

April 22, 2022
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has announced a proposal to build up to 600 homes and help Aboriginal people take greater control of their land on the Central Coast, is now on exhibition for community feedback.

The Department’s Executive Director of Local and Regional Planning Malcolm McDonald said the community could help shape Lake Munmorah’s growth, by sharing its views on the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council project.

“Showcasing this proposal to the public represents a significant milestone in Darkinjung’s journey, to use its land to reap economic rewards for local Aboriginal people and deliver much-needed new homes,” Mr McDonald said.

“The 55-hectare site lays the foundations for a new park and up to 600 homes at various price points, close to existing services and jobs, not just for the Traditional Owners but everyone on the Central Coast.

“The proposal balances development with environmental conservation by protecting 21-hectares of untouchable bushland, home to wildlife such as the masked owl.”

Mr McDonald said progressing the rezoning proposal marked another step toward reconciliation.

“This proposal is a gamechanger for Lake Munmorah, boosting housing supply, promoting cultural heritage, strengthening self-determination, and locals are encouraged to have their say,” he said.

“We will continue to work with Darkinjung to identify how its land can best be planned, managed, and developed.

“This is one of three Darkinjung projects currently being assessed under a streamlined planning system, to support the local Aboriginal community. It follows the 2020 approval for an industrial hub in Wallarah, with the potential to create 1,200 new jobs.”

Darkinjung is the largest non-government landowner on the Central Coast and is one of 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils in NSW.

Following the application of avoidance and mitigation measures, the BAM assessment identified the following biodiversity credits required to offset the impacts of the Project:
• 1407 credits for swift parrot,36 credits for wallum froglet, and 857 credits for black-eyed Susan.
• 577 credits for PCT 1636 Scribbly Gum – Red Bloodwood – Angophora inopina heathy woodland on lowlands of the Central Coast.
• 225 credits for PCT 1638 Smooth- barked Apple – Red Bloodwood – Brown Stringybark – Hairpin Banksia heathy open forest of coastal lowlands.
• 48 credits for PCT 1724 Broad- leaved paperbark – Swamp Oak – Saw Sedge swamp forest on coastal lowlands of the Central Coast and Lower North Coast.

Swift Parrot Conservation status in NSW: Endangered - Commonwealth status: Critically Endangered
On the mainland they occur in areas where eucalypts are flowering profusely or where there are abundant lerp (from sap-sucking bugs) infestations. Favoured feed trees include winter flowering species such as Swamp Mahogany Eucalyptus robusta, Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata, Red Bloodwood C. gummifera, Forest Red Gum E. tereticornis, Mugga Ironbark E. sideroxylon, and White Box E. albens. Commonly used lerp infested trees include Inland Grey Box E. microcarpa, Grey Box E. moluccana, Blackbutt E. pilularis, and Yellow Box E. melliodora.

Swift Parrot Photo: Gunjan Pandey

For more information and to provide your feedback on the plan by midday 24 May 2022, visit the Lake Munmorah/Crangan Bay, Rezoning land at Pacific Highway and Kanangra Drive page at:

Dendrobium Mine Extension Project: Have Your Say (Again)

Plans for the extension of the Dendrobium longwall mine in the Illawarra are now being publicly exhibited. The NSW government has relisted this as a “State Significant Development” - despite the Independent Planning Commission refusing permission because it would cause damage to our water.
It’s right underneath the Greater Sydney water catchment.

This will involve Longwall mining which is known to damage reservoirs, cracks rock beds and increases the presence of heavy metals in our water. That’s why nowhere else in the world allows longwall mining underneath their publicly owned water catchments.

The expansion will also damage local biodiversity and threatened ecological communities, and cause irreversible damage to 58 identified Aboriginal cultural artefacts.

The Project proposes to extend the mine life at the Dendrobium Mine to the end of 2041.

Political Stitch Up Over Dendrobium Abandons Community, Climate, And Water, Favours Coal Mining Company Residents State

May 4, 2022
Illawarra residents opposed to coal mining beneath the drinking water catchment and their supporters have labelled the revised Dendrobium coal mine expansion a “political stitch up” after the Independent Planning Commission’s earlier rejection of the project was overruled.

In response to the IPC’s rejection of the destructive project, the NSW Government took the unprecedented step of declaring the coal mine “state significant infrastructure”.

South32 has today released a revised Environmental Impact Statement for the project, which claims the mine’s direct impacts will be reduced, but shows the project would still threaten nationally significant upland swamps and the drinking water catchment relied on by Illawarra and Sydney residents.

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW coordinator Nic Clyde said a decision about the project would go straight to NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts without the transparent scrutiny that would occur if it were to return to the IPC for consideration.

“South32 could write that magical fairies will protect our drinking water and it wouldn’t matter because the assessment of this project is now a political decision, rather than assessment that undergoes a considered and transparent process by independent commissioners,” he said.

“This is the only coal mine in the state’s history that has been declared state significant infrastructure. This is a mine being assessed on a political basis, not a scientific one, and Sydney’s drinking water is not safe as a result. 

“The NSW Government’s political intervention has removed the community’s objection rights and that’s outrageous and undemocratic.

“The IPC previously rejected South32’s claim that coal from Dendrobium was needed for the continuation of the Bluescope steelworks. This erroneous claim was the justification the NSW Government used to declare it state significant infrastructure, and is contrary to the findings made by the IPC.

“South32 still refuses to consider the less damaging bord and pillar method of mining, despite the IPC, NSW Government, and Wollongong Coal considering it an acceptable method just eight kilometres north at Russell Vale.

“As the saying goes, you can roll a turd in glitter, but it’s still a turd. South32’s revised Dendrobium proposal puts the security of Sydney’s drinking water catchment at risk and that stinks.”

Deidre Stuart, from Illawarra grass roots network fighting the Dendrobium extension Protect Our Water Catchment Incorporated, said, “Our group is already in the NSW Land and Environment Court defending the IPC refusal decision of the original expansion proposal.  And now at the same time, the NSW Government has introduced a new, fast-track process for South32 to have its new proposal assessed, side lining the IPC.

“We in the community operate in good faith and we feel utterly betrayed by our government over its handling of a coal mine expansion that was rightfully rejected by the IPC. 

“What’s undeniable is that this proposal will still trash Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, drain upland swamps that are recognised as nationally significant, and threaten our drinking water. 

“The Perrottet Government must not risk all this just so a private company can continue to mine coal in our drinking water catchment area.

“The Dendrobium expansion will be responsible for more than 87 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions at a time when the world cannot afford to burn any more fossil fuels if humanity wants to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis.

“Our drinking water must be protected at all costs. It is more important than coal, and must be protected from any expansion of Dendrobium, particularly one that is not subject to the same degree of scrutiny as the former, already rejected proposal.”

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

Pittwater Online News has interviewed Lynette Millett OAM (WIRES Northern Beaches Branch) needs more bird cages of all sizes for keeping the current huge amount of baby wildlife in care safe or 'homed' while they are healed/allowed to grow bigger to the point where they may be released back into their own home. 

If you have an aviary or large bird cage you are getting rid of or don't need anymore, please email via the link provided above. There is also a pressing need for release sites for brushtail possums - a species that is very territorial and where release into a site already lived in by one possum can result in serious problems and injury. 

If you have a decent backyard and can help out, Lyn and husband Dave can supply you with a simple drey for a nest and food for their first weeks of adjustment.

Sydney Wildlife Rescue: Helpers Needed

Avalon Golf Course Bushcare Needs You

We're so short of helpers we've had to cancel for the time being. Meanwhile the weeds will go gangbusters. 
We used to meet on the second Wednesday afternoon of each month. Could you come if we worked on another day or time? say a morning, or on a weekend day? 
Contact Geoff Searl on 0439 292 566 if you'd like to help. He'd love to hear from you. 

We have fun using the Tree Popper, here with our supervisor from Dragonfly Environmental. We can lever out quite big Ochnas, aka Mickey Mouse plant from Africa.  We want to bring back the bush, not let the weeds win!

Ochna or Mickey Mouse plant has yellow flowers in spring, then lots of green berries that turn black when ripe. Seedlings come up in hundreds. Ochna has a very strong taproot but the steady pressure of the Tree Popper lifts the plant out of the ground easily. The alternative control is repeated scraping and painting with Roundup, very slow and time consuming. If you have an Ochna you cant remove, you can enjoy the flowers, then PLEASE prune it so that berries can't develop.

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

Gardens And Environment Groups And Organisations In Pittwater

Up Close With Gang-Gang Cockatoo Feeding On Conesticks – Blue Mountains

By Birds in Backyards TV
These up-close scenes of a young male Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) were captured on a rainy late March (2022) day from the Little Switzerland Trail on the Kings Tableland plateau in the Blue Mountains (NSW, Australia). Despite the weather, several birds were sighted, including a cockatoo-fest: Nine Gang-gangs, ten Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, five Glossy Black Cockatoos and two Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Only the first two species were within camera range on this occasion. The closing footage of a female Glossy Black Cockatoo was collected around the same location (Little Switzerland-Chester Trail circuit) the following day. 

It’s always a thrill to spot the bright red heads of male Gang-gang Cockatoos, standing out from the foliage like waratah blooms. Of course, the females have their own beauty, with their filamentous grey crest and orange-yellow fringing on their underparts creating a barred effect. Juvenile Gang-gangs have similar underparts and a rudimentary grey crest. In the immature stage – as seen here – the young male develops his red features but still has aspects of juvenile plumage. To see close-up views of an adult male and adult female, please check out our previous production from the Capertee Valley on western edge of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Gang-gang Cockatoos are mostly found in temperate forest of south-east Australia, but will visit more open habitats such as grassy woodland and heathland, and parks, gardens and road verges in search of food. In general, the diet of any cockatoo is largely determined by bird and beak size. As one of our smallest cockatoos (only the Cockatiel is smaller), Gang-gangs prefer softer, more accessible seed pods (e.g. Petrophile pulchella aka Conesticks, as shown in this video, Acacias, Eucalypts and Callistris) and fruits of some exotic plants (e.g. Hawthorn and Cotoneaster). Note that the Glossy Black Cockatoo in the final scene is eating the seeds of harder she-oak pods, but a Conesticks plant is closer to camera. 

Although Gang-gangs are relatively flexible in their food choices, this hasn’t saved them from declining numbers throughout their range. They are listed as Vulnerable in NSW and Endangered federally. Two strongholds have traditionally been the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), where this bird is the faunal emblem, and the Blue Mountains in NSW. Alas, this once-common breeding nomad of the Mountains (who also moves altitudinally in response to seasonal change) is harder to find now, especially in the lower Mountains. There are fewer sightings in all parts of the Mountains, but the upper Mountains has had the least decline and Gang-gangs remain a likely treat for residents thereabouts. As to why the decline, it’s a familiar story of habitat loss and degradation, made worse by the fires of 2019-20.

This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the brave, multi-tasking mums of the Australian bird world

Ayesha TullochQueensland University of Technology and Christina N. ZdenekThe University of Queensland

In the human fascination with birds, it’s the flashy appearance and antics of males that get the most attention from researchers and the public.

From their colourful plumage to elaborate songs and courtship displays, male birds often steal the show. This has led to female birds routinely being overlooked by conservation planners.

First, let’s clear up a few misconceptions. At least 70% of female birds sing – a fact historically overlooked due to research and survey biases towards males. And while many female birds have more muted colours than males, there are numerous examples of females with brilliant plumage.

But the wonders of the female bird world go far deeper. The capacity of female birds to rear and protect their young is phenomenal. Somehow, they manage to hold their families together despite predators, harsh conditions and sometimes, a less-than-attentive partner.

bird on branch beside nest with chicks
The capacity of female birds to rear and protect their young is phenomenal. Shutterstock

Satin Bowerbirds: An Unequal Domestic Burden

The male bowerbird is one of the most over-the-top bachelors of the bird world.

Male satin bowerbirds have striking, iridescent blue plumage and violet-coloured eyes. Females, on the other hand, are green and brown to blend into their surroundings.

To attract a mate, the male dances in an exaggerated fashion and makes a decorated bower. Females visit various bowers and select their mate. After that, the female basically does everything.

She makes the nest – usually high in a tree to protect nestlings from predators such as goannas. She produces and incubates the eggs on her own. And once the chicks hatch, the mum alone feeds them and defends the nest.

Meanwhile, the male bowerbird fusses over his man-cave – or bower – throughout the year in the hope of attracting another mate.

bird with bower and blue objects
While the female bowerbird raises the babies alone, the male tends to his bower to attract another mate. Shutterstocks

Palm Cockatoos: The Female Bodyguard

Male palm cockatoos shot to fame a few years ago when new research identified their drumming abilities. The males make drumsticks from branches and bang them rhythmically against a tree for pair-bonding or sometimes to claim territory.

But once the palm cockatoos pair up, the female plays a crucial role in securing their territory for breeding. During many months of behavioural observations, we found the female sits sentinel (kind of like a bodyguard) on the tree hollow while the male goes inside, splintering sticks with his massive bill to make the nest.

If danger comes – perhaps a neighbouring cockatoo pair or predator – the female alerts her mate and chases away the intruder.

female palm cockatoo on a branch with male part-way down tree hollow
The female palm cockatoo keeps a watchful eye for intruders when the male is in the hollow making their nest. Christina N. Zdenek

Virtuosic Lady Lyrebirds

The impressive repertoire of male superb lyrebirds is well-known. But it was only in recent years, when researchers turned their attention to the female, that her incredible singing ability was discovered.

Male lyrebirds don’t help with nest-building, incubation, brooding or feeding young.

Left alone to rear and protect her offspring, the female lyrebird has developed a cunning ability to confuse predators by mimicking the calls of at least 19 other bird species.

The female lyrebird is also remarkable for the length of time she cares for her young. Once fully feathered and able to fly, young lyrebirds remain dependent on their mothers and may stay in their care for more than a year.

brown bird holds sticks in beak
She might be a little plain, but the female lyrebird is a clever, committed mother. Shutterstock

Fairy-Wren Code-Makers

The Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo does not build its own nest but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other birds such as fairy-wrens. This can leave the fairy-wren mother expending precious time and food raising another bird’s chicks.

But the female superb fairy-wren has developed a truly ingenious way to detect foreign nestlings once the eggs hatch.

She sings to her eggs – and includes in the song a specific “password”. Once her chicks hatch, they sing the password when begging for food.

It can be hard for the fairy-wren mum to differentiate her young in her dark, ball-shaped nest. But she can identify her offspring by their song. Cuckoo nestlings can’t learn or sing the password so are less likely to get fed.

hatchling in nest
The fairy-wren mother has developed an ingenious way to recognise her own young. Shutterstock

Eclectus Parrot: The Ultimate Nest Defender

Even though nesting only takes a few months, female eclectus parrots guard their precious hollows for up to nine months.

This is why their plumage is red and their male counterparts are green.

The red serves as a beacon screaming “this hollow is taken!”, helping keep cockatoos away.

Three images showing a fight between a female eclectus parrot and a pair of sulphur-crested cockatoos.
A female eclectus parrot fights off sulphur-crested cockatoos from her tree hollow. Christina N. Zdenek

Here’s To All Mums

Female birds are just as worthy of our time and research effort as their male counterparts. Considering the behaviours and needs of female birds is especially vital from a conservation perspective.

What’s more, affirming the important role of females in any community – bird or human – is crucial to achieving more equitable and just societies. Never is that message more important than on Mother’s Day. The Conversation

Ayesha Tulloch, ARC Future Fellow, Queensland University of Technology and Christina N. Zdenek, Lab Manager/Post-doc at the Venom Evolution Lab, The University of Queensland

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

Global Big Day Bird Count Is Coming!!

For the first time ever a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service team is participating in this global 24 hour birdwatching event to get out and about and do some serious bird watching.
This is a day where a worldwide effort pays dividends for collecting important conservation data.

NSW national parks are habitat for more than 400 native bird species and at the heart of this exercise is shining a light on the really important work that’s happening under our Saving our Species program and through our National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Good luck to team NSW National Parks for the eBird Global Big Day on 14 May - let’s see if they can spot all of our 375 target native bird species!

Be a part of birding’s biggest team! Global Big Day is an annual celebration of the birds around you. No matter where you are, join us virtually on 14 May, help celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, and share the birds you find with eBird.

Participating is easy—you can even be part of Global Big Day from home. If you can spare 5 or 10 minutes, report your bird observations to eBird online or with our free eBird Mobile app. If you have more time, submit several checklists of birds throughout the day. You never know what you might spot. Your observations help us better understand global bird populations through products like these animated abundance maps brought to you by eBird Science.

Last year, Global Big Day brought birders together virtually from more countries than ever before. More than 51,000 people from 192 countries submitted 134,000 checklists with eBird, setting four new world records for a single day of birding. Will you help us surpass last year’s records? However you choose to participate, please always put safety first and follow your local guidelines.

How to participate
  • Get an eBird account: eBird is a worldwide bird checklist program used by millions of birders. It’s what allows us to compile everyone’s sightings into a single massive Global Big Day list—while at the same time collecting the data to help scientists better understand birds. Sign up here. It’s 100% free from start to finish.
  • Watch birds on 14 May: It’s that simple. You don’t need to be a bird expert or go out all day long, even 10 minutes of birding from home counts. Global Big Day runs from midnight to midnight in your local time zone. You can report what you find from anywhere in the world.
  • Enter what you see and hear in eBird: You can enter your sightings via our website or download the free eBird Mobile app to make submitting lists even easier. Please enter your checklists before 17 May to be included in our initial results announcement.
  • Watch the sightings roll in: During the day, follow along with sightings from more than 170 countries in real-time on our Global Big Day page.

 Mangrove or Striated Heron Butorides striata - Careel Creek - photo by A J Guesdon

Gardens Of Stone Officially Protected In Perpetuity: Draft Plan Of Management And Draft Master Plan - Have Your Say

May 6, 2022
Eighty rare and threatened animal species and 16 threatened ecological communities will be better protected after the iconic Gardens of Stone was officially reserved as a State Conservation Area.

The gazettal this week follows a $50 million NSW Government commitment to establish an eco-adventure tourism destination in the central west of NSW.

The more than 30,000 hectare area near Lithgow features ancient rock pagodas, highland swamps, Aboriginal cultural sites and sandstone cliffs.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the reserve’s planned centrepiece, the world-class Lost City Adventure Experience, will support regional jobs and draw an estimated 200,000-plus extra visitors to the region each year.

“The first-of-its-kind Lost City Adventure Experience will be one of the State’s biggest ever regional ecotourism projects that will be a tourism attraction generating millions of dollars for the local economy,” Mr Toole said.

“The park will feature Australia’s longest zip line, rock climbing, a spectacular elevated canyon walk, 4WD and mountain bike tracks, and family-friendly camping areas, making it an unbeatable regional NSW destination.”

The first stage of the Lost City Adventure experience is expected to open in 2023.

Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is calling for expressions of interests from experienced commercial operators.

“Expressions of interest are now open to create world-class eco-adventure experiences within the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area, which links Wollemi and Blue Mountains National Parks,” Mr Ayres said.

“The EOI also covers the construction and operation of eco-friendly, serviced accommodation and guided walking experiences in partnership with NPWS to cater for bushwalkers and nature lovers tackling the planned multi-day Wollemi Great Walk.”

Minister for Environment James Griffin said proclaiming the former Newnes, Wolgan and Ben Bullen State Forest as the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area ensures it is protected for future generations.

“Protecting the Gardens of Stone as a State Conservation Area is a win-win. Not only are we conserving magnificent landscapes and biodiversity, we’re also boosting the local economy with jobs, and hundreds of thousands of visitors,” Mr Griffin said.

“This area is home to about 80 rare and threatened species, including koalas, spotted-tailed quolls, regent honeyeaters and the Wolgan Snow gum.

“These species will be protected in the new park, creating a lasting legacy for our future generations.

“There is also a significant cultural landscape of great importance to Wiradjuri people, and we’re committed to working with traditional owners during the establishment of the reserve.”

Since 2019, the NSW Government has secured 600,000 hectares for addition to the national park estate to protect threatened habitats, wildlife and cultural heritage in perpetuity.

All Gardens of Stone SCA visitor infrastructure will be subject to environmental and cultural heritage assessments.

Consultation on the Gardens of Stone SCA draft plan of management and draft master plan is open until 5 July 2022.

Stage 1 Expression of Interest submissions close on 6 June 2022. Learn more about registering an Expression of Interest

The draft master plan proposes a range of high-quality, immersive, nature-based visitor experiences including:
  • the ‘Lost City Adventure Experience’, which will be a key attraction of the park offering one of the longest zip-lines in Australia and exhilarating via ferrata (supported rock climbing) experiences.
  • the ‘Wollemi Great Walk’ with eco-style accommodation and facilities, linking Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area to Wollemi National Park.
  • an extensive network of purpose-built mountain bike tracks, catering for a range of abilities with connections to Lithgow township.
  • all weather four-wheel drive designated touring routes
  • family-friendly designated camping areas.
The draft master plan proposes a range of visitor experience improvements and the following visitor precincts:
  • State Mine Gully and Lost City Precinct
  • Carne Creek and former Plantation Precinct
  • Birds Rock Precinct
  • Long Swamp Precinct.
Other proposed works include new and upgraded camping areas, lookouts, bush walking tracks, viewing platforms, parking, wayfinding signs, interpretation and a range of supporting visitor amenities, which are sensitive to the natural environment.

The draft master plan represents conservation in action, presenting a framework that provides for great experiences that go hand-in-hand with protecting the park’s natural and cultural values. The master plan is underpinned by the following guiding principles, providing a foundation for the planning and delivery of visitor experiences:
  • Environment and habitat
  • Heritage and scenic amenity
  • Visitation
  • Vehicular access
  • 4WD access
  • Bush wallking experiences
  • Mountain biking
  • Adventure experiences and tourism
  • Camping
  • Services and Facilities
The final master plan and its delivery will be consistent with the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area Plan of Management (currently being prepared). 

The draft Master Plan and draft plan of management are being exhibited together to provide people with a clearer understanding of what’s being proposed for the future management of the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area and the information necessary to enable feedback.

Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone Tender Shortlist Announced

May 4, 2022
Three groups have been shortlisted for a central role in establishing Australia's first renewable energy zone, a key component of NSW's energy infrastructure plans to put downward pressure on electricity bills.
The short-listed tenderers for the Central-West Orana renewable energy zone (REZ) transmission network are:
  • ACE Energy, comprising Acciona, Cobra and Endeavour Energy
  • Network REZolution, comprising Pacific Partnerships, UGL, CPB Contractors and APA Group
  • NewGen Networks, comprising Plenary Group, Elecnor, Essential Energy and SecureEnergy
The network operator will be responsible for designing, financing, building, operating and maintaining the network infrastructure for the Central-West Orana REZ. The new grid connections will include energy hubs and new high-capacity transmission lines.

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the announcement was an exciting milestone for this modern day power station.

"The network operator will play a critical role in the REZ by connecting power from energy suppliers, including wind and solar farms, and distributing it to energy consumers across the State," Mr Toole said.

Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean said the Central-West Orana REZ will play a pivotal role in the State's plans to deliver a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy sector under the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.

"Combining generation and storage with poles and wires, the REZ will capitalise on economies of scale to deliver energy to homes and businesses in NSW," Mr Kean said.

Minister for Western NSW and Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders said the REZ would bring investment and jobs to the area.

"The REZ will bring more than $5 billion of new private investment to the Central-West Orana region, around 3,900 peak jobs during construction and a suite of community initiatives to be funded by renewable generation projects," Mr Saunders said.

Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) will soon invite the shortlisted tenderers to respond to a Request for Proposal, with the contract to be awarded in 2023.

Further details about the Central-West Orana REZ are available at Renewable Energy Zones | Energy NSW

Air Attack Training To Build Fire Fighting Strength

May 1, 2022
Almost 100 firefighting and aviation experts have descended on Dubbo this weekend for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) Aviation Forum, bringing together firefighters and personnel from the State Emergency Service and National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke joined Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders and Assistant Commissioner Ben Millington at the State Training Academy for the forum and a demonstration of the state-of-the-art aviation simulator.

"This forum is an important opportunity for firefighters and other personnel to collaborate, hone their skills and workshop emerging technologies will improve the safety of the communities they protect," Ms Cooke said.

"The air attack training being undertaken utilises new technology which simulates air attack missions in a mock aircraft, helping our firefighters gain life-like experience in aircraft operations and communications.

"This training is vital because we know our aviation crews perform the crucial roles of supporting our firefighters on the ground as well as intelligence-gathering reconnaissance missions."

Minister for Environment James Griffin said a dozen aerial firefighting, training and coordination specialists from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are attending the forum.

"Our NPWS team has access to more than 1,000 trained firefighters, and with some of our National Parks only accessible by air, we have many aviation specialists whose expert knowledge is used to battle fires around New South Wales," Mr Griffin said.

"This forum is a great opportunity for our specialists to hone their skills and develop relationships with other agency experts, road test and learn about new equipment."

Dubbo will soon be home to a new $8 million Aviation Centre of Excellence to ensure RFS volunteers are prepared for the future, and a Memorial Garden to remember those who have lost their lives while on duty.

Mr Saunders said a Large Air Tanker and multi-purpose helicopter will also be accommodated at Dubbo in advance of the next fire season.

"The work our emergency services personnel do is second-to-none and to see such valuable resources like the Marie Bashir and helicopters based regionally is important for Dubbo and our surrounding communities," Mr Saunders said.

Ceremony Marks Return Of Bulagaranda To Aboriginal Owners

April 30, 2022
Aboriginal owners today celebrated the return of almost 600 hectares of land west of Armidale under a joint management agreement with the NSW Government.

Minister for Environment and Heritage James Griffin said traditional owners hosted a special ceremony to mark the land hand back.

"The Anaiwan and Armidale people have been waiting a long time for this transfer, and it's with great pride that we are able to finalise the process today," Mr Griffin said.

"This joint management agreement with the National parks and Wildlife Service is helping to protect cultural heritage, while forging partnerships between traditional owners and the NSW Government.

"Bulagaranda has immense cultural significance for the traditional owners. Handing it back means traditional owners have control of local decision-making, and ensures they can continue to have a physical and spiritual connection to their country."

Bulagaranda (Mount Yarrowyck) Aboriginal Area is a 586 hectare site located about 30 kilometres west of Armidale, featuring important rock art.

As part of the land transfer, the name of the site was changed to Bulagaranda (Mount Yarrowyck) Aboriginal Area, in recognition of its heritage and importance to the Anaiwan and Armidale people.

Through this agreement, the Anaiwan and Armidale Local Aboriginal Land Councils hold the land on behalf of the registered Aboriginal owners, and will manage it in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said this is a historic agreement between the Anaiwan People and the NSW Government, and has been a long time coming.

"I would like to acknowledge and celebrate the ongoing advocacy, resilience and perseverance of the Anaiwan people with the handback of Bulagaranda," Mr Franklin said.

"Today is a triumphant one, where the community and those who worked so hard to achieve this can celebrate and reflect on their achievements for Bulagaranda being handed back to the traditional owners."

Aboriginal owner Greg Livermore said the ceremony was a celebration of the return of country to the Aboriginal owners who are connected to Bulagaranda.

"I never thought when I was standing here in February 1983 when Mount Yarrowyck Nature Reserve was opened that I would come back here in April 2022 and have it returned to me as an Aboriginal owner.

"Bulagaranda, always was and always will be Aboriginal land."

A board of management will be established for the park, with the majority of registered Aboriginal owners to be responsible.

The name Bulagaranda is derived from words in the Anaiwan language referring to the Turkey dreaming that is associated with the landscape in and surrounding the park.

More information about NSW Parks covered by joint management agreements is available here: Aboriginal joint management of parks. Photos; NSW NPWS

Scorched dystopia or liveable planet? Here’s where the climate policies of our political hopefuls will take us

David Mariuz/AAP
Bill HareMurdoch University

The federal election campaign takes place against a background of flooding on Australia’s east coast, where some residents remain in temporary accommodation a month after the disaster. It’s just the latest reminder Australia is set to become a poster child for climate change harms.

Australia has warmed about 1.4℃ since 1910. With it has come extreme heat, bushfires, floods, drought and now, a sixth huge bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef.

Yet meaningful climate policy debate has largely been absent from this election campaign. So Climate Analytics, a research organisation I lead, has weighed up the policies of the Coalition, Labor, the Greens and the “teal” independents.

We analysed the global warming implications of each party’s or candidate’s target for 2030.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns, this timeframe is crucial if the world is to stay below the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. Dramatic action by 2030 is also vital to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

Alarmingly, the Coalition’s climate policy is consistent with a very dangerous 3℃ of global warming. Labor’s policy is slightly better, but only policies by the Greens and the “teals” are consistent with keeping global warming at or below 1.5℃.

The Coalition

The Morrison government is pursing 26-28% emissions reduction by 2030, based on 2005 levels. If all other national governments took a similar level of action, Earth would reach at least 3℃ of warming, bordering on 4℃, our analysis shows.

That would mean the total destruction of all tropical reefs including Ningaloo and the Great Barrier Reef. And intense heatwaves over land that currently occur about once a decade could happen almost every other year.

At the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow last year, the Morrison government famously refused to increase its 2030 commitments. But the final pact from the meeting, which Australia signed, requires that by November this year, governments will strengthen their 2030 targets to align with the 1.5℃ goal.

Australia is under strong international pressure to meet this obligation, or face further global condemnation.

man in suit shakes hands with person in crowd
The Morrison government’s climate policies are consistent with global warming that would destroy the Great Barrier Reef. Mick Tsikas/AAP


Labor’s target of a 43% emissions cut by 2030, from 2005 levels, is in line with 2℃ of global warming. That means it’s not consistent with the Paris Agreement.

Under 2℃ of warming, extreme heat events that currently happen once a decade could occur about every three to four years. And they would reach maximum temperatures about 1.7℃ hotter than heatwaves in recent decades.

Should Earth overshoot 1.5℃ warming and perhaps reach 2℃, some suggest this may be temporary and temperatures could be brought back down. This would require technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But such technologies are uncertain and come with risks.

And the IPCC’s recent report warned even if 1.5℃ warming is exceeded temporarily, severe and potentially irreversible damage would result. The total loss of the Great Barrier Reef is just one example.

Under 2℃ of warming the most extreme heat events that occurred once in a decade in recent times could occur about every three to four years. The heatwaves would also reach a maximum temperature 1.7℃ hotter than those in recent decades.

two men stand in front of signs
Labor’s climate policy is not consistent with the Paris Agreement. Lukas Coch/AAP

‘Teal’ Independents

The “teals” are a group of pro-climate independent candidates.

Most prominent is Warringah MP Zali Steggall, whose climate change bill proposes a 2030 target of 60% below 2005 levels. Most climate policies of the “teals” are generally in line with the Steggall bill.

The target is also supported by industry.

We find this target consistent with 1.5℃ of warming, and so compatible with the Paris Agreement. However, it’s at the upper end of the emission levels consistent with the 1.5℃ pathway.

smartly-dressed woman with red background
Zali Steggall’s climate policy is consistent with 1.5℃ of warming. Bianca Di Marchi/AAP

The Greens

Of all the climate policies on the table this election, the Greens target of a 74% cut by 2030, based on 2005 levels, is most comfortably consistent with keeping warming below 1.5℃.

That level of warming would still cause damage to Earth’s natural systems and our way of life. But it would avert significant devastation – for example, allowing parts of the Ningaloo and Great Barrier reefs to survive.

Under 1.5℃ global warming, the most extreme heat events that presently occur once a decade could be limited to about every five to six years.

The Land Sector Problem

Our calculations above do not paint a rosy picture. But they are, in fact, optimistic.

That’s because they include emission reductions from the land and forestry sector through such activities as tree planting and maintaining native vegetation. These so-called carbon sinks were recently described by a key insider as a “fraud”.

If the land and forest sector is excluded from the analysis, the various emissions reduction targets fall considerably: to between 11% and 13% for the Coalition, 31% for Labor, 50% for the teals and 67% for the Greens.

What’s more, even warming limited to 1.5℃ will reduce the capacity of the land sector to remove and store carbon.

Over To You

The scientific consensus is clear. Greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 at the latest and plummet thereafter, to limit global warming to 1.5℃.

Unless policies are substantially strengthened, Earth is set to hit 1.5℃ warming in the 2030s, and a future of at least 3℃ warming awaits.

The onus is on the next parliament to protect Australians from climate catastrophe. On May 21, Australian voters have a chance to send a clear message about the kind of world we want to leave for future generations.The Conversation

Bill Hare, Adjunct Professor, Murdoch University

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

Australia’s next government must tackle our collapsing ecosystems and extinction crisis

Euan RitchieDeakin UniversityAyesha TullochQueensland University of Technology, and Megan C EvansUNSW Sydney

Australia’s remarkable animals, plants and ecosystems are world-renowned, and rightly so.

Unfortunately, our famous ecosystems are not OK. Many are hurtling towards collapse, threatening even iconic species like the koala, platypus and the numbat. More and more species are going extinct, with over 100 since British colonisation. That means Australia has one of the worst conservation records in the world.

This represents a monumental government failure. Our leaders are failing in their duty of care to the environment. Yet so far, the election campaign has been unsettlingly silent on threatened species.

Here are five steps our next government should take.

Numbat standing on log
Numbats - dubbed Australia’s meerkats - are endangered. Shutterstock

1. Strengthen, Enforce And Align Policy And Laws

Australia’s environmental laws and policies are failing to safeguard our unique biodiversity from extinction. This has been established by a series of independent reviewsAuditor-General reports and Senate inquiries over the past decade.

The 2020 review of our main environmental protection laws offered 38 recommendations. To date, no major party has clearly committed to introducing and funding these recommendations.

To actually make a difference to the environment, it’s vital we achieve policy alignment. That means, for instance, ruling out new coal mines if we would like to keep the world’s largest coral reef system alive. Similarly, widespread land clearing in Queensland and New South Wales makes tree planting initiatives pointless on an emissions front.

Despite Australia’s wealth of species, our laws protecting biodiversity are much laxer than in other developed nations like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. These nations have mandatory monitoring of all threatened species, which means they can detect species decline early and step in before it’s too late.

2. Invest In The Environment

How much do you think the federal government spends on helping our threatened species recover? The answer is shockingly low: Around $50 million per year across the entire country. That’s less than $2 a year per Australian. The government spent the same amount on supporting the business events industry through the pandemic.

Our overall environmental spending, too, is woefully inadequate. In an age of mounting environmental threats, federal funding has fallen sharply over the past nine years.

For conservationists, this means distressing decisions. With a tiny amount of funding, you can’t save every species. That means ongoing neglect and more extinctions looming.

This investment is far less than what is needed to recover threatened species or to reduce the very real financial risks from biodiversity loss. If the government doesn’t see the environment as a serious investment, why should the private sector?

The next government should fix this nature finance gap. It’s not as if there isn’t money. The estimated annual cost of recovering every one of Australia’s ~1,800 threatened species is roughly a mere 7% of the Coalition’s $23 billion of projects promised in the month since the budget was released in late March.

3. Tackle The Threats

We already have detailed knowledge of the major threats facing our species and ecosystems: the ongoing destruction or alteration of vital habitat, the damage done by invasive species like foxes, rabbits and cats, as well as pollution, disease and climate change. To protect our species from these threats requires laws and policies with teeth, as well as investment.

If we protect threatened species habitat by stopping clearing of native vegetation, mineral extraction, or changing fishing practices, we will not only get better outcomes for biodiversity but also save money in many cases. Why? Because it’s vastly cheaper to conserve ecosystems and species in good health than attempt recovery when they’re already in decline or flatlining.

Phasing out coal, oil and gas will also be vital to stem the damage done by climate change, as well as boosting support for green infrastructure and energy.

Any actions taken to protect our environment and recover species must be evidence-based and have robust monitoring in place, so we can figure out if these actions actually work in a cost-effective manner against specific objectives. This is done routinely in the US.

Salvaging our damaged environment is going to take time. That means in many cases, we’ll need firm, multi-partisan commitments to sustained actions, sometimes even across electoral cycles. Piecemeal, short-term or politicised conservation will not help Australia’s biodiversity long-term and do not represent best use of public money.

4.: Look To Indigenous Leadership To Heal Country

For millennia, First Nations people have cared for Australia’s species and shaped ecosystems.

In many areas, their forced displacement and disconnection with longstanding cultural practices is linked to further damage to the environment, such as more severe fires.

Focusing on Indigenous management of Country can deliver environmental, cultural and social benefits. This means increasing representation of Indigenous people and communities in ecosystem policy and management decisions.

5. Work With Communities And Across Boundaries

We must urgently engage and empower local communities and landowners to look after the species on their land. Almost half of Australia’s threatened species can be found on private land, including farms and pastoral properties. We already have good examples of what this can look like.

The next government should radically scale up investment in biodiversity on farms, through rebates and tax incentives for conservation covenants and sustainable agriculture. In many cases, caring for species can improve farming outcomes.

Corroboree frog on moss
Corroboree frogs are critically endangered. Shutterstock

Conservation Is Good For Humans And All Other Species

To care for the environment and the other species we live alongside is good for us as people. Tending to nature in our cities makes people happier and healthier.

Protecting key plants and animals ensures key “services” like pollination and the cycling of soil nutrients continues.

We’re lucky to live in a land of such rich biodiversity, from the ancient Wollemi pine to remarkable Lord Howe island stick insects and striking corroboree frogs. But we are not looking after these species and their homes properly. The next government must take serious and swift action to save our species.The Conversation

Euan Ritchie, Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin UniversityAyesha Tulloch, ARC Future Fellow, Queensland University of Technology, and Megan C Evans, Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow, UNSW Sydney

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

Find out what threatened plants and animals live in your electorate (and what your MP can do about it)

Gouldian finch. Shutterstock
Gareth KindlerThe University of QueenslandJames WatsonThe University of Queensland, and Nick KellyQueensland University of Technology

More than 1,800 Australian plants and animals are considered at-risk of extinction, and yet protecting threatened species is almost entirely absent from the current election campaign.

We’ve developed a web app, which launches today, that lets Australians learn which threatened plants and animals live in their federal electorate.

For example, we found the electorate with the most threatened species is Durack in Western Australia, held currently by the Liberal party’s Melissa Price. Some 61 threatened animals and 198 threatened plants live or used to live within its boundaries, such as the Numbat, Gouldian finch and the Western underground orchid.

Our goal is to help users engage with their elected representatives and put imperilled species on the political agenda this election and beyond. We urgently need to convince federal politicians to act, for they hold the keys to saving these species. So what can they do to help their plight?

black-breasted buttonquail
The black-breasted buttonquail is an endangered and declining species found in southern Queensland. It used to be found in northern NSW. To be saved from extinction it needs members from around 29 electorates to work together and champion its recovery. Patrick WebsterAuthor provided

Threatened Species In Your Neighbourhood

Our new app, called Threatened Australians, uses federal government data to introduce you to the threatened species living in your neighbourhood.

By entering a post code, users can learn what the species looks like, where they can be found (in relation to their electorate), and what’s threatening them. Importantly, users can learn about their incumbent elected representative, and the democratic actions that work towards making a difference.

For example, entering the postcode 2060 – the seat of North Sydney, held currently by the Liberal Party’s Trent Zimmerman – tells us there are 23 threatened animals and 14 threatened plants that live or used to live there.

This includes the koala which, among many others, have seen devastating losses in their populations in recent decades due to habitat destruction.

We’ve also put together data dividing the number of threatened species that live or used to live across each party’s electorates, as shown in the chart below. Labor-held seats are home to 775 of the 1,800-plus threatened species, while Liberal-held seats have 1,168.

Made with Flourish

A Seriously Neglected Issue

The good news is we know how to avert the extinction crisis. Innumerable reports and peer-reviewed studies have detailed why the crisis is occurring, including a major independent review of Australia’s environment laws which outlined the necessary federal reforms for changing this trajectory.

The bad news is these comprehensive reforms, like almost all the previous calls to action on the threatened species crisis, have been largely ignored.

Predictions show the situation will drastically worsen for threatened species over the next two decades if nothing changes.

golden shouldered parrot
The golden shouldered parrot is only found in Queensland. Its entire population is found in the seat of Leichardt and its population has been declining dramatically over the past two decades. The long-term MP for Leichhardt is the Hon Warren Entsch. Patrick WebsterAuthor provided

Yet, environmental issues rarely play key roles in federal elections, despite the connection Australians share with the environment and our wildlife.

The health of the environment continually ranks among the top issues Australians care about, and nature tourists in Australia spend over $23 billion per year.

So how can we address this mismatch of widespread public desire for environmental action yet political candidates are focused on other issues?

What Can Local MPs Actually Do About It?

For change to occur, communities must effectively persuade elected representatives to act. There are a few ways they can exercise their democratic powers to make a difference.

Federal MPs often champion and advocate important issues such as developing new hospitals, schools and car parks in their electorate. By speaking out and advocating for their electorate in parliament and with the media, they can garner the support, such as funding and reform, to deliver change for their electorate.

The numbat has disappeared across much of the continent in the last two hundred years. Now over 80% of its range now occurs in the electorate of O'Connor in Western Australia. The MP for O’Connor is Mr Rick Wilson. Shutterstock

Local MPs can help protect threatened species by instigating and voting for improved policy.

Let’s say, for instance, legislation for approving a new mine was before parliament, and the development overlapped with the habitat of a threatened animal. If protecting a certain plant or animal was on an MPs agenda thanks to the efforts of their community, it would help determine whether the MP votes for such legislation.

This has broader applications, too. Making the threatened species crisis a priority for an MP would determine the lengths they would go to for conservation in their electorate and Australia wide.

Threatened species desperately need the required funding alongside the appropriate policy and legislative reform. The current policies are responsible for the threats causing many species to go endangered in the first place.

The app in action. Threatened AustraliaAuthor provided

Our app can help users engage with the current sitting MP in their electorate with the click of a button, as it helps users write an email to them. It’s time federal representatives were asked about their policies on threatened species and what they plan to do for them in their electoral backyards.

While climate change has, for decades, unfathomably been the subject of fierce debate in the Australian parliament, threatened species can be a cause of unity across the political divide.

We need an honest and urgent dialogue between local communities and their representatives about how to deal with the challenge these species face and what each prospective candidate intends to do about it. The Conversation

Gareth Kindler, PhD Candidate, The University of QueenslandJames Watson, Professor, The University of Queensland, and Nick Kelly, Senior Lecturer in Interaction Design, Queensland University of Technology

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

Beyond electric cars: how electrifying trucks, buses, tractors and scooters will help tackle climate change

Peter NewmanCurtin University

When you think of an electric vehicle, chances are you’ll picture a car. But there’s a quiet revolution going on in transport. It turns out electrification can work wonders for almost all of our transport options, from electric bikes to motorbikes to buses to freight trains and even to tractors and heavy trucks. There will soon be no need to burn petrol and diesel in an internal combustion engine.

This matters, because electric transport will be vital in our efforts to stem climate change. If all cars on the road became powered by renewable electricity, we’d cut almost one-fifth of our emissions. We’d also be much better placed to weather spikes in oil prices linked to war, and enjoy cleaner air and quieter cities.

It’s promising news that electric vehicles are shaping up as an election issue at last, with Labor promising a national EV charging network at its campaign launch, and the Greens promising rebates of up to $15,000 for EV purchases, while the Liberal Party last year reversed its previous scepticism and launched a smaller charging network policy.

But this is only the beginning of what’s required. Right now, all the focus is on electric cars. We will need new policy settings to encourage the electrification of all our transport options. And that means getting electric mobility on the radar of our political parties.

Why Electric And Why Now?

Electric vehicles have been around for more than 120 years. They accounted for a third of all cars on US roads in 1900, sought because they were clean and quiet. But their first dawn ended because of the high cost and weight of batteries, leaving internal combustion engines to rule the road.

So what changed? Two things: solar has become the cheapest form of power in human history, and lighter lithium-ion batteries have become vastly cheaper. These remarkable inventions have allowed electric vehicle manufacturers to become competitive. Cheap solar power funnels into the battery of the electric vehicle to provide running costs much lower than those of fossil fuel engines. The much simpler engines also mean vastly lower maintenance costs.

Early electric car
A Borland Electric Model car from the early 20th century. Wikimedia CommonsCC BY

We’re also seeing major innovations brought across from electric public transport. Over the past two decades, there have been significant advances in smart technology in trains and trams, such as regenerative braking and sensors enabling active suspension. These breakthroughs have been taken up enthusiastically by electric vehicle manufacturers. All electric cars now have regenerative braking, which hugely increases energy efficiency, as well as smart sensors to aid steering, and active suspension, making the cars safer and the ride smoother.

We’re also seeing welcome cross-pollination in the form of trackless trams, which are upgraded buses that boast rail-like mobility. This is made possible based on technologies invented for high-speed rail.

In short, there’s no reason why solar and battery technology has to be limited to cars. All the world’s land-based internal combustion engine vehicles can now be replaced by electric equivalents.

Electric locomotive
Major miner BHP is testing battery-electric locomotives such as this Wabtec model. Wabtec

Electric Mobility Is Arriving

You’ll already have seen signs of the potential of electric mobility. E-scooters are popping up in major cities, giving people a way to make short trips quickly and cheaply. E-bikes are surging ahead, popular among commuters and families choosing one over a second car. Even this is just the start.

Around the world, electric micromobility (scooters, skateboards and bikes) is growing at over 17% per year and expected to quadruple current sales of US$50 billion by 2030.

Even without much government assistance, Australians are shifting rapidly to all types of electric vehicle. But for Australia to embrace electric transport as fully as we can, we need the right policy settings. Cars, scooters, motorbikes, trackless trams, buses, trucks, freight trains and farm vehicles can all be part of the transition to the cheapest and highest-quality mobility the world has yet seen.

The policies on offer to date suggest no party has figured out the radical upheaval electrification will bring. Labor’s emission reductions policy of a 43% cut by 2030 gives electric cars only a tiny role, cutting emissions by less than 1%, or four million tonnes out of a total of 448 million tonnes. There’s no mention of other electric modes of transport. Even the Greens have little serious policy analysis of the broader EV options. The Liberals have no mention at all.

Even tractors are going electric, with a key marketing point the ability for farmers to recharge through their own solar arrays. Fendt

We Need Comprehensive, Broad Electric Vehicle Policy

Given we’re still at the starting line, what’s the best first step? Perhaps the simplest would be to enable Infrastructure Australia to work with the states on creating strategic directions for each electric transport mode. The ACT already has a plan like this for its bus network as part of its shift to a zero-carbon future.

Here’s what good EV policies would consider:

  • Electric micromobility: how to recharge and manage the explosion of electric scooters, skateboards and bikes with appropriate infrastructure, and how to enable the best public sharing systems

  • Electric public transit: how to electrify all buses, passenger trains and mid-tier transit (light rail, rapid transit buses and trackless trams), and how to link net zero urban developments and charging facilities

  • Electric trucks, freight trains and farm vehicles: how to create recharge highways and hubs in train stations, industrial precincts and standalone farm systems, and how to introduce these to the regions to enable net zero mining, agriculture and other processed products.

Each of these modes will also need the same targets, subsidies and regulations as electric cars do, to make possible a swift, clean transition away from petrol and diesel. If we focus only on electric cars, we could end up with cities still full of cars, even if they don’t pollute. By focusing on all transport modes, we will make our cities more equitable, safe and sustainable.The Conversation

Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University

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

How our bushfire-proof house design could help people flee rather than risk fighting the flames

Deborah Ascher BarnstoneUniversity of Technology Sydney

By 2030, climate change will make one in 25 Australian homes “uninsurable” if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, with riverine flooding posing the greatest insurance risk, a new Climate Council analysis finds.

As a professor of architecture, I find this analysis grim, yet unsurprising. One reason is because Australian housing is largely unfit for the challenges of climate change.

In the past two years alone we’ve seen over 3,000 homes razed in the 2019-2020 megafires, and over 3,600 homes destroyed in New South Wales Northern Rivers region in the recent floods.

Building houses better at withstanding the impacts of climate change is one way we can protect ourselves in the face of future catastrophic conditions. I’m part of a research team that developed a novel, bushfire-resistant house design, which won an international award last month.

We hope its ability to withstand fires on its own will encourage owners – who would otherwise stay to defend their home – to flee when bushfires encroach. Let’s take a closer look at the risk of bushfires and why our housing design should one day become a new Australian norm.

The house would be made from locally sourced, recycled steel frame. Deborah Ascher BarnstoneAuthor provided

Houses Today Are Easy To Burn

The Climate Council analysis reveals that across Australia’s 10 electorates most at risk of climate change impacts, one in seven houses will be uninsurable by 2030 under a high emissions scenario. This includes 25,801 properties (27%) in Victoria’s electorate of Nicholls, and 22,274 properties (20%) in Richmond, NSW.

Bushfires are among the worsening hazards causing homes to be uninsurable, and pose a particularly high risk to many thousands of homes across eastern Australia.

For example, the Climate Council found 55% of properties in the electorate of Macquarie, NSW, will be at risk of bushfires in 2030, if emissions do not fall. This jumps to 64% of properties by 2100.

The typical Australian house was not designed with bushfires in mind as most were built decades ago, before bushfire planning and construction regulations came into force.

This means they incorporate burnable materials, such as wood and plasterboard, and have features such as gutters which can trap embers.

What’s more, the gaps between building materials are often too large to keep embers out, which means spot fires can start on the inside of the house. And many houses are situated too close to fire-prone grasses and trees.

Indeed, at least 90% of houses currently in bushfire zones risk being destroyed in a bushfire.

How Our New Design Can Withstand Fire

The prototypical bushfire resistant house we designed won first prize in the New Housing Division of the United States Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Solar Decathlon.

The house has three pavilions that can be built at different times to save cost. Deborah Ascher BarnstoneAuthor provided

The house would be made from locally sourced, recycled steel frame. It would be mounted on reinforced concrete pilings to minimise its disturbance on the land, touching the ground only lightly. In this way, we help preserve the site’s biodiversity.

The primary building material is rammed earth – natural raw materials such as earth, chalk, lime, or gravel – which is not combustible.

The roof and some cladding are made of fire-resistant corrugated metal. Its glass facades have fire shutters made of fibre cement sheeting, a material that’s non-combustible and can be closed to seal the house.

Importantly, the gaps between these construction materials are 2 millimetres or less.

The sloped roofs tilt inwards to capture rainwater. And as the roofs are made of corrugated metal, which has channels in it, the house does not require gutters.

These channels guide rainwater into two open retention ponds either side of the entry, and into protected tanks beneath the house. This also helps protect the house in a bushfire, as it means the fire can’t penetrate from beneath.

A view of the entry bridge and retention ponds. Deborah Ascher BarnstoneAuthor provided

When bushfires strike, the risk to life is highest when people stay and defend their homes. A design that can resist fire on its own encourages its owners to leave.

But it’s worth noting that it’s not a bunker for people to shelter in. No matter how well designed a house is, it always will be too dangerous to stay when a fire comes through, and particularly in the catastrophic and extreme fire conditions we’re increasingly experiencing.

It’s Cost Effective, Too

The estimated cost of construction is between A$400,000 and $450,000. We deployed several strategies to keep costs down:

  • the house is designed to be energy and water independent, so will not need city utilities

  • it uses common construction techniques and is based on the construction industry standard for sheeting, so won’t require specialised builders and won’t waste any material

  • rammed earth is relatively inexpensive because it can be sourced in many locations, often for free. We also envision using recycled materials wherever possible.

Aesthetically speaking, the design also presents an elegant domestic space, one that’s flexible enough it can easily be adapted to almost any site.

The house is characterised by open spaces and inside/outside living. Deborah Ascher BarnstoneAuthor provided

The next stage is to build and test a prototype of the house so we can evaluate its performance and make improvements. We’re currently speaking to some potential funders to make this happen.

As climate change brings worsening disasters, Australia must brace for thousands more houses becoming destroyed. Innovative architecture like ours offers a chance for treasured homes and possessions to survive future catastrophes.The Conversation

Deborah Ascher Barnstone, Professor, Head of School, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney

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

How can Aboriginal communities be part of the NSW renewable energy transition?

Heidi NormanUniversity of Technology Sydney and Chris BriggsUniversity of Technology Sydney

The New South Wales government’s roadmap to transition from coal-based electricity to renewable energy involves the creation of five “renewable energy zones” across the state.

These “modern-day power stations” will use solar, wind, batteries and new poles and wires to generate energy for the state. They’re part of a broader plan to meet a legislated target of 12 gigawatts of renewable energy and 2 gigawatts of storage by 2030.

These renewable energy zones include measures to deliver regional benefits such as engagement, jobs and benefit-sharing with local Aboriginal communities. This is a first for an Australian renewable energy program of this scale.

However, two things are needed to maximise this opportunity for Aboriginal people.

First, Aboriginal land councils need greater support and resources to participate effectively in delivery of the renewable energy zones.

Second, there should be a program to facilitate the development of renewable energy projects on Aboriginal-owned land.

Through these actions, the government can help develop partnerships that can deliver revenue and jobs for Aboriginal communities as the state transitions to clean energy.

Maximising Opportunities For First Nations Communities

There are some cases of renewable energy projects delivering for Aboriginal communities, such as solar farms engaging unemployed Aboriginal workers. But overall the benefits have been limited to date.

However, legislation requires the NSW government bodies and renewables projects in the renewable energy zones to comply with “First Nations Guidelines” currently under development.

The guidelines will require:

  • regional reference groups
  • an engagement framework for renewable energy projects, and
  • a document reflecting community interests developed with the input of local Aboriginal organisations (land councils and Traditional Owners under Native Title) in each renewable energy zone.

Projects bidding for a “long-term energy supply agreement” from the NSW government - which will guarantee a minimum price for their output - have to comply with the Indigenous Procurement Policy. This includes ensuring a minimum 1.5% Aboriginal workforce and 1.5% of contract value to Aboriginal businesses.

These First Nations guidelines will form part of the tender evaluation, creating incentives for projects to increase benefits for First Nations communities.

The inclusion of these First Nations guidelines in the renewable energy projects is a first for Australian renewable energy. It’s likely to significantly improve economic outcomes for Aboriginal communities.

So far, so good.

However, there are also some missed opportunities.

First, if renewable energy projects and the First Nations guidelines are to work well, greater resourcing and capacity-building is needed for local Aboriginal land councils so they can participate effectively.

In addition, the NSW government should develop an Aboriginal-led local and regional level clean energy strategy so communities can identify what they want from this momentous change.

A study by the Indigenous Land and Justice Research Group, based at the University of Technology Sydney, revealed local Aboriginal land councils are eager for renewable energy. This would improve opportunities to live and work locally, boost energy security, lower costs, enable care of Country and create wealth.

However, the study found these communities had little or no knowledge about renewable energy options or how they could benefit.

Only one Local Aboriginal Land Council in the pilot renewable energy zone had prior dealings with renewable energy operators. All were uncertain about how their land assets could be mobilised.

More Opportunities Needed For Aboriginal-Owned Land In NSW

There are currently no measures to encourage and facilitate renewable energy projects on Aboriginal-owned land in NSW.

Work by Indigenous Energy Australia and the Institute for Sustainable Futures found the best outcomes often occur from “mid-sized” renewable energy projects on Indigenous-owned land.

Examples include:

  • the Ramahyuck Solar Farm (Longford, Victoria), which is wholly owned and operated by the Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation. Following government funding, debt financing was secured for construction. The profit generated from the development will be redirected to Aboriginal education and health programs

  • the Tuaropaki Geothermal Power Station in New Zealand, which is 75% owned by the Māori, Tuaropaki Trust and 25% by Mercury Energy (a large energy company). The Tuaropaki Trust was developed through financial partnerships and government support. These developments produced long-term income for community programs and other commercial ventures

  • the Atlin Hydro Project in Canada, a 100% Indigenous owned and operated project. Government support was critical in establishing the project. Once established, revenues were distributed based on joint clan meetings for health programs and a land guardian program.

Developing projects on Aboriginal-owned land would take more time to identify a workable model, ensure there is support within the land council and local community and develop local capacity. But done well, it can deliver greater benefits for Aboriginal communities.

A government program developed in parallel with the roll out of the renewable energy zones could develop opportunities for renewable energy developments in partnership with local Aboriginal land councils.

Support for meaningful, Aboriginal-led renewable energy projects on Aboriginal land has the potential to make real progress towards the long hoped for benefits of land restitution for First Peoples in NSW.

The time for action is now.The Conversation

Heidi Norman, Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney and Chris Briggs, Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney

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

Scientists in Antarctica discover a vast, salty groundwater system under the ice sheet – with implications for sea level rise

Co-author Chloe Gustafson and mountaineer Meghan Seifert install measuring equipment on an ice stream. Kerry Key/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Matthew SiegfriedColorado School of Mines and Chloe GustafsonUniversity of California San Diego

A new discovery deep beneath one of Antarctica’s rivers of ice could change scientists’ understanding of how the ice flows, with important implications for estimating future sea level rise.

Glacier scientists Matthew Siegfried from Colorado School of Mines, Chloe Gustafson from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and their colleagues spent 61 days living in tents on an Antarctic ice stream to collect data about the land under half a mile of ice beneath their feet. They explain what the team discovered and what it says about the behavior of ice sheets in a warming world.

What Was The Big Takeaway From Your Research?

First, it helps to understand that West Antarctic was an ocean before it was an ice sheet. If it disappeared today, it would be an ocean again with a bunch of islands. So, we know that the bedrock below the ice sheet is covered with a thick layer of sediments – the particles that accumulate onto ocean floors.

What we didn’t know was what was in the tiny pore spaces among those sediments below the ice.

We expected to find meltwater coming from the ice stream above, a fast-moving channel of ice that flows from the center of the ice sheet toward the ocean. What we didn’t expect, but we found in this thick layer of sediments, was a huge amount of groundwater – including saltwater from the ocean.

Our findings suggest that this salty groundwater is the largest reservoir of liquid water below the ice stream we studied, and likely others, and it may be affecting how the ice flows on Antarctica.

How Antarctica’s ice flows through ice streams and ice shelves to the ocean. NASA.

Liquid water is incredibly important to how fast an ice stream moves. If there’s liquid water at the base of an ice stream, it flows fast. If that water freezes or the base dries out, the ice screeches to a stop.

Models of ice streams typically consider only whether ice at the base has reached the melting point or if water has flowed from upstream along the base of the ice. Scientists had never considered that more water was available under the ice sheet, let alone water that is much saltier, which keeps water from freezing at lower temperatures. (Think about why communities put salt on roads in winter.)

Our observations suggest there is so much water there, if you took the 500 to 1,900 meters (1,600 to 6,200 feet) or so of sediments below the ice stream and squeezed them like a sponge, you’d have a column of water about 220 to 820 meters (700 to 2,700 feet) deep.

Illustrations of subglacial lakes and groundwater show the sediment depth to 1000 meters or meter
Illustrations of the Whillans ice stream show liquid water under the ice from subglacial lakes (left) and groundwater within the sediment. The ice stream moves at about 300 meters per year. Modified from Gustafson et al., 2022

This water can move through the pores in the subglacial groundwater system, just like groundwater elsewhere, but in Antarctica, there is a dynamic ice sheet on top. When the ice sheet gets thicker, it exerts more pressure on the sediment below, so it could drive meltwater from the base of the ice sheet deeper into the sediment. When the ice gets thinner, however, it could draw water, now a little saltier, out of the sediments. That saltier water could affect how fast the ice flows.

Knowing that there is a massive reservoir of water that may be linked to how fast-flowing regions of Antarctica behave means scientists need to rethink our understanding of ice streams.

What Does Finding Liquid Water In The Sediments Tell Scientists About Antarctica?

The salty groundwater was a clear sign of how far inland the boundary between the ice sheet and the ocean once reached.

This boundary, known as the grounding line, is incredibly important. When ice flows across the grounding line, it starts to float in the ocean. If you know how the grounding line is shifting, you have a good sense of how much ice is being contributed to the global ocean.

The fact that there were marine waters beneath our feet meant that the grounding line was upstream of us at some point, at least 70 miles (110 kilometers) from where it is today.

Map of the study site and locator map in Antarctica.
The team’s survey points on the Whillan’s ice stream in 2018-2019 and the grounding line. Kerry Key/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The next question is when it got there.

We argue in our paper that it can’t be too old. The groundwater is flowing, and fresh water is coming into the sediments from the glacier above. We estimate that most of this salty water arrived in the subglacial system within the past 10,000 years, based on how much radiocarbon has been found in the upper sediment in previous a study.

The ocean would have deposited that seawater when the ice sheet got smaller during warm periods in the past.

Whillans Ice Stream Is Pretty Remote. How Did You Determine What Was Happening A Mile Below You?

Our site is about a two-hour flight from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The plane lands on skis and drops off everything you need to live. Then it takes off, and it’s you, your field team, and a couple pallets of cargo.

In all, we slept 61 days in a tent that season. Each day, we packed our snowmobiles, put in the coordinates for a site, and installed magnetotelluric stations.

Each station has three magnetometers – pointing east-west, north-south and vertical – and two pairs of electrodes – aligned east-west and north-south. These instruments can detect the electromagnetic signatures of different Earth materials in the subsurface.

Installing a magnetotelluric station on the Whillans ice stream.

Natural variations in the Earth’s magnetic and electric fields are created by events across the globe, such as solar wind interacting with the Earth’s ionosphere and lightning strikes. A change in the Earth’s magnetic and electric fields induces secondary electromagnetic fields in the subsurface, and the strength of those fields is related to how well the material there conducts electricity.

So, by measuring electric and magnetic fields on the ice surface, we can figure out the conductivity of the subsurface materials, including water. It’s the same method the oil and gas industry used to find fossil fuels.

We could see the groundwater, and since salt water has far greater conductivity than fresh water, we could estimate how salty it was.

What Else Might Be In The Groundwater?

Any time we’ve poked a hole through Antarctica, it’s been teeming with microbial life. There’s no reason to think microbes aren’t gnawing away at nutrients in the groundwater, too.

When you have microbial ecosystems that are cut off for extended periods of time – in this case, seawater was likely deposited there 5,000-10,000 years ago – you start to have a pretty good analog for how life might exist on other planetary bodies, locked in the subsurface and buried underneath thick ice.

Where there’s life, there is also the question of carbon.

We know that there are microbes in subglacial lakes and rivers at the top of the sediment that are consuming carbon and transforming it into greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. We know all of this carbon ultimately gets transferred to the Southern Ocean. But we still don’t have great measurements of any of this.

High winds, common at the authors’ camp on the Whillans ice stream, create challenges for the electromagnetic method. Each snow particle has static electricity that creates noise for the instruments.

This is a new environment, and there’s a lot of research still to do. We have observations from one ice stream. It’s like sticking a straw in the groundwater system in Florida and saying, “Yeah, there’s something here” – but what does the rest of the continent look like?The Conversation

Matthew Siegfried, Assistant Professor of Geophysics and Hydrologic Science and Engineering, Colorado School of Mines and Chloe Gustafson, Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Geophysics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego

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

65,000 years of food scraps found at Kakadu tell a story of resilience amid changing climate, sea levels and vegetation

May Nango sharing stories about Mamukala wetlands with her grandson, in 2015. Anna Florin (courtesy of GAC)Author provided
Anna FlorinUniversity of CambridgeAndrew FairbairnThe University of Queensland, and Chris ClarksonThe University of Queensland

For 65,000 years, Bininj – the local Kundjeihmi word for Aboriginal people – have returned to Madjedbebe rock shelter on Mirarr Country in the Kakadu region (in the Northern Territory).

Over this immense span of time, the environment around the rock shelter has changed dramatically.

Our paper, published last week in Quaternary Science Reviews, uses ancient scraps of plant foods, once charred in the site’s fireplaces, to explore how Aboriginal communities camping at the site responded to these changes.

This cooking debris tells a story of resilience in the face of changing climate, sea levels and vegetation.

A Changing Environment

The 50-metre-long Madjedbebe rock shelter lies at the base of a huge sandstone outlier. The site has a dark, ashy floor from hundreds of past campfires and is littered with stone tools and grindstones.

The back wall is decorated with vibrant and colourful rock art. Some images – such as horsemen in broad-brimmed hats, ships, guns and decorated hands – are quite recent. Others are likely many thousands of years old.

May Nango sharing cultural knowledge about bim (rock art) with Djurrubu rangers Axel Nadjamerrek, Amroh Djandjomerr and Cuisak Nango at Madjedbebe. Lynley Wallis (courtesy of GAC)

Today, the site is situated on the edge of the Jabiluka wetlands. But 65,000 years ago, when sea levels were much lower, it sat on the edge of a vast savanna plain joining Australia and New Guinea in the supercontintent of Sahul.

At this time, the world was experiencing a glacial period (referred to as the Marine Isotope Stage 4, or MIS 4) . And while Kakadu would have been relatively well-watered compared with other parts of Australia, the monsoon vine forest vegetation, common at other points in time, would have retreated.

This glacial period would eventually ease, followed by an interglacial period, and then another glacial period, the Last Glacial Maximum (MIS 2).

Cut to the Holocene (10,000 years ago) and the weather became much warmer and wetter. Monsoon vine forest, open forest and woodland vegetation proliferated, and sea levels rose rapidly.

By 7,000 years ago, Australia and New Guinea were entirely severed from each other and the sea approached Madjedbebe to a high stand of just 5km away.

What followed was the rapid transformation of the Kakadu region. First the sea receded slightly, the river systems near the site became estuaries, and mangroves etched the lowlands.

By 4,000 years ago, these were partially replaced by patches of freshwater wetland. And by 2,000 years ago, the iconic Kakadu wetlands of today were formed.

Unlikely Treasure

Our research team, composed of archaeologists and Mirarr Traditional Owners, wanted to learn how people lived within this changing environment.

To do this, we sought an unlikely archaeological treasure: charcoal. It’s not something that comes to mind for the average camper, but when a fireplace is lit many of its components – such as twigs and leaves, or food thrown in – can later transform into charcoal.

Under the right conditions, these charred remains will survive long after campers have moved on. This happened many times in the past. Bininj living at Madjedbebe left a range of food scraps behind, including charred and fragmented fruit, nuts, palm stem, seeds, roots and tubers.

A scanning electron microscope image of charred waterlily (Nymphaea sp.) stem found at Madjedbebe. Anna Florin (courtesy of GAC)Author provided

Using high-powered microscopes, we compared the anatomy of these charcoal pieces to plant foods still harvested from Mirarr Country today. By doing so, we learned about the foods past people ate, the places they gathered them from, and even the seasons in which they visited the site.

Researchers worked hard to collect comparative reference material, including the fruit of andjalbbirdo (white bush plum, Syzygium eucalyptoides subsp. bleeseri) near Mudjinberri, on Mirarr Country, 2018. Elspeth Hayes (courtesy of GAC)

Ancient Anme

From the earliest days of camping at Madjedbebe, people gathered and ate a broad range of anme (the Kundjeihmi word for “plant foods”). This included plants such as pandanus nuts and palm heart, which require tools, labour and detailed traditional knowledge to collect and make edible.

The tools used included edge-ground axes and grinding stones. These were all found in the oldest layers at the site – making them the oldest axes and some of the earliest grinding stones in the world.

Our evidence shows that during the two drier glacial phases (MIS 4 and 2), communities at Madjedbebe relied more on these harder-to-process foods. As the climate was drier, and food was probably more dispersed and less abundant, people would have had to make do with foods that took longer to process.

Highly prized anme such as karrbarda (long yam, Dioscorea transvera) and annganj/ankanj (waterlily seeds, Nymphea spp.) were significant elements of the diet at times when the monsoon vine forest and freshwater vegetation got closer to Madjedbebe – such as during wetland formation in the last 4,000 years and earlier wet phases. But they were also sought from more distant places during drier times.

May Nango following the vine of a karrbarda (long yam, Dioscorea transversa) to dig for its yam near Djurrubu, on Mirarr Country, 2018. Anna Florin (courtesy of GAC)

A Change Of Seasons

The biggest shift in the plant diet eaten at Madjedbebe occurred with the formation of freshwater wetlands. About 4,000 years ago, Bininj didn’t just start to include more freshwater plants in their diet, they also began to return to Madjedbebe during a different season.

Rather than coming to the rock shelter when local fruit trees such as andudjmi (green plum, Buchanania obovata) were fruiting, from Kurrung to Kunumeleng (September to December), they began visiting from Bangkerrang to Wurrkeng (March to August).

This is a time of year when resources found at the edge of the wetlands, now close to Madjedbebe, become available as floodwaters recede. With the emergence of patchy freshwater wetlands 4,000 years ago, communities changed their diet to make the best use of their environments.

Today, the wetlands are culturally and economically significant to the Mirarr and other Bininj. A range of seasonal animal and plant foods feature at dinner time, including magpie geese, turtles and waterlilies.

The Burning Question

It’s likely the First Australians not only responded to their environment but also shaped it. In the Kakadu region today, one of the main ways Bininj modify their landscape is through cultural burning.

Fire is a cultural tool with a multitude of functions – such as, hunting, generating vegetation growth, and cleaning up pathways and campsites.

One of its most important functions is the steady reduction of wet season biomass which, if left unchecked, becomes fuel for dangerous bushfires in Kurrung (September to October), at the end of the dry season.

Djurrubu rangers Amroh Djandomerr and Deonus Djandomerr burning Mirarr Country, not far from the Madjedbebe site, in 2019. Lynley Wallis (courtesy of GAC)

Our data demonstrates the use of a range of plant foods at Madjedbebe during Kurrung, throughout most of the site’s occupation, from 65,000 to 4,000 years ago.

This points to an ongoing practice of cultural burning, as it suggests communities managed fire-sensitive plant varieties, and reduced the chance of high-intensity bushfires by practicing low-intensity cultural burns before the hottest time of the year.

Today, the Mirarr still return to Madjedbebe. Their knowledge of local anme is passed down to new generations, who continue to shape this incredible cultural legacy.

Acknowledgment: we would like to thank the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, the Mirrar, and especially our co-authors May Nango and Djaykuk Djandjomerr.The Conversation

Anna Florin, Research fellow, University of CambridgeAndrew Fairbairn, Professor of Archaeology, The University of Queensland, and Chris Clarkson, Professor in Archaeology, The University of Queensland

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

Toughness has limits: over 1,100 species live in Antarctica – but they’re at risk from human activity

Laura PhillipsAuthor provided
Laura PhillipsMonash University and Rachel LeihyArthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research

It’s hard to survive in bitterly cold Antarctica. But the ice continent is home to more than 1,100 species who have adapted to life on land and in its lakes.

Penguins are the most well known, but Antarctica’s diversity lies in its microbes and species like mosses, lichens and tardigrades (water bears). Most of these survive in the few ice-free areas on the continent.

Our new research provides a comprehensive inventory of Antarctic species. We believe it will help the 54 nations who are party to the Antarctic Treaty fulfil one of its major conservation goals – the continent-wide protection of Antarctic species.

Despite their toughness, climate change, introduced species and human activities pose growing threats for these species. We need rapid and widespread protection for Antarctica’s biodiversity if these species are to survive.

How Can So Many Species Live In Antarctica?

Our inventory found 1,142 land and lake-dwelling species currently known to live on the Antarctic continent. This list is dominated by extraordinarily resilient groups, such as lichens, mosses and invertebrates, which have evolved to thrive under extreme conditions.

The number of species within each taxonomic group that live in Antarctica. Groups like bacteria with poorly-resolved species lists are excluded. Laura M. Phillips

These species have developed unique adaptations to live in this frozen desert, where sub-zero temperatures are the norm and life sustaining water is often locked up as ice.

Antarctic mosses have the incredible ability to freeze and almost completely dry out. They come back to life during the brief periods when it’s warm enough for ice to melt, and take advantage of liquid water to rehydrate and grow.

A moss bed at Casey Station, Antarctica. Laura M. Phillips
Tardigrade in its active form and after freezing. Laura M. Phillips

Tardigrades are, famously, masters of survival. During tough times, they can enter a frozen, inactive state very close to death. Some have remained frozen for over 30 years before recovering and resuming their normal lives as if nothing happened.

And then, of course, there are the penguins. Five of the world’s 18 species live in Antarctica, with another four species on sub-Antarctic islands. These birds are built for the cold with thick layers of insulating fat and feathers to keep warm.

Gentoo penguin adult and chicks. Steven L. Chown

Isn’t Antarctica Already Protected?

It’s a common belief that Antarctica is already highly protected. But, in practice, this is only true for specific areas.

In 1991, the nations party to the Antarctic Treaty agreed to conserve the unique continent through the Madrid Protocol. This agreement set the foundations for a network of 75 protected areas – those with outstanding environmental, scientific, historic, aesthetic and wilderness value.

This approach aided conservation, by restricting entry and limiting what people can do, safeguarding biodiversity from issues such as wildlife disturbance, pollution, and introduction of invasive species.

But there are still large gaps, leaving many species unprotected.

One solution is already outlined in the Madrid Protocol: protect the “type localities” of each species. This refers to the location where the very first specimen of a species was collected and described. These specimens are crucial for taxonomy, as they act as the point of reference to check against unknown or ambiguous specimens.

Vegetation on the Clark Peninsula, Antarctica, the type locality for five lichen species. Laura M. Phillips

Importantly, protecting the type locality of a species ensures any species can be protected, even if we know little about their habitat or distribution. This is especially important for Antarctic species, because for many, the type locality is the only known location for that species.

To date, however, no Antarctic protected areas have been created specifically to conserve type localities. That’s where our research can help.

What Needs To Be Done?

The reason there are no protected areas of this kind is because we haven’t had a comprehensive list of Antarctic species and their type localities. That’s why we undertook this research.

Once we had the list, we mapped the type localities across the continent to see how many of these sites are currently protected.

The distribution of protected (green) and unprotected (purple) type localities across Antarctica. Rachel I. Leihy

We found more than a quarter (28%) of all species already have their type localities protected for other reasons, such as scientific interest or wildlife colonies. That’s because they occur in the few and small ice free areas across the continent, where most of the existing protected areas have been created. The remaining 72% of the continent’s type localities are not protected in this way.

There is now a great opportunity to protect these localities. If we focus first on areas with multiple type localities, we could get many more species protected.

Over time, we could expand this network. We estimate another 105 new protected areas would cover all remaining type localities.

We would also need to update the plans for existing protected areas to ensure the value of type localities are taken into account.

Longer term, we will need to embrace a systematic conservation framework across Antarctica to ensure the world’s last great wilderness remains full of life.The Conversation

Laura Phillips, Antarctic Scientist, Monash University and Rachel Leihy, Ecologist, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research

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

Pittwater Reserves: Histories + Notes + Pictorial Walks

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
Angophora Reserve - Angophora Reserve Flowers
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland  Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Boathouse In Governor Phillip Park  Part Of Our Community For 75 Years: Photos From The Collection Of Russell Walton, Son Of Victor Walton
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers 
Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham Beach by Barbara Davies
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants 
Careel Bay Birds  
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek 
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville Beach
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong and Palm Beach Views - Winter 2018
Currawong-Mackerel-The Basin A Stroll In Early November 2021 - photos by Selena Griffith
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach +  Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Duck Holes: McCarrs Creek by Joe Mills
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills 
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Iluka Park, Woorak Park, Pittwater Park, Sand Point Reserve, Snapperman Beach Reserve - Palm Beach: Some History
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths:  Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife 
Pittwater spring: waterbirds return to Wetlands
Pittwater's Lone Rangers - 120 Years of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase and the Men of Flowers Inspired by Eccleston Du Faur 
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Resolute Track at West Head by Kevin Murray
Resolute Track Stroll by Joe Mills
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
The Chiltern Track
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Tranquil Turimetta Beach, April 2022 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

These hot days are tough on our wildlife - please put out some water in a shaded location and if you come across an animal that is in distress, dehydrated or injured - please contact your local wildlife rescue group:
Photo: Bronwyn Gould

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

A Shorebirds WingThing educational brochure for kids (A5) helps children learn about shorebirds, their life and journey. The 2021 revised brochure version was published in February 2021 and is available now. You can download a file copy here.

If you would like a free print copy of this brochure, please send a self-addressed envelope with A$1.10 postage (or larger if you would like it unfolded) affixed to: BirdLife Australia, Shorebird WingThing Request, 2-05Shorebird WingThing/60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053.

Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format:

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit:

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 -

Seniors Urged To Be Vigilant Against Scams

May 2, 2022
Senior Australians are being urged to stay vigilant against scams, as the total cost swindled from older consumers skyrockets to over $11 million last year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received 16,915 reports from seniors that had been scammed in 2021.

Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos said $6.7 million had been lost through false billing scams, where scammers request payment through fake invoices for goods or services which were never ordered.

"In one case, a consumer lost $760,000 when their mortgage broker's email had been compromised,” Ms Petinos said.

Online shopping scams cost Australian seniors $1.8 million last year. A common example of this is the purchase of a motor home online via fake websites.

Ms Petinos said any scammers targeting older Australians will be met with the full force of the law.

“Targeting vulnerable Australians is abhorrent behaviour. Fair Trading has a zero-tolerance approach to any fraudsters ripping off hard-working people,” Ms Petinos said.

"Be wary of any requests for money. Another red flag is being asked to transfer money via an unusual payment method such as preloaded debit cards, gift cards or virtual currency.”

Minister for Seniors Mark Coure said it is disgusting to see criminals deliberately target society’s older people.

“Seniors deserve better than to be preyed on by low-life criminals and defrauded of their life savings,” Mr Coure said.

“Older people have worked their whole lives to make NSW the great state it is today. Anyone taking advantage of seniors should have the book thrown at them.”

NSW Fair Trading has a guide with up-to-date information for seniors about their consumer rights and how to deal with unscrupulous operators. To read the guide, visit the Fair Trading NSW website.

The Aging and Disability Commission also has a range of resources available to help people better understand abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people and adults with disability.

For more information, visit the NSW Ageing and Disability Commission website

Seniors' Stories Volume 8

Do you enjoy telling a story?
Are you passionate about expressing creativity in writing?

This year’s Seniors’ Stories writing competition is now open and the theme is ‘Celebrating Diversity’.

The top 100 stories will be published by  NSW Seniors Card and distributed to the authors and libraries across the state.

Authors will also have the opportunity to have their stories published in their native language/language spoken other than English.

Submissions are open until May 21 2022.

All Seniors Card and Senior Savers Card members are encouraged to apply!

For more information about Seniors’ Stories, including how to enter and the terms and conditions, please visit the Fellowship of Australian Writers NSW Inc. website or call 0417 403 720.

  1. The competition is open to all New South Wales Seniors cardholders. 
  2. Seniors Card Membership Number must be included on the entry form.
  3. Seniors Card Membership, competition entry and Workshops are FREE. 
  4. The theme for this year is: ‘Celebrating Diversity.‘
  5. Story length max. 1,000 words (Poetry not accepted). Excess word count will be immediately disqualified (the story title is exempt from the word count).
  6. Multiple entries may be submitted but only one will be published. No entries will be accepted outside the stated competition dates and times; the link to submit your entry closing promptly 6pm, 21st May, 2022.
  7. The top 100 entries will be published in the Seniors Card anthology to be released in November 2022.
  8. The judge’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
  9. Entries to be submitted online via the interactive Entry Form found on the FAW NSW website available from 9.00am Saturday 9 April. Your story can be submitted along with the Entry Form.
  10. Due to the requirement of the printer, entries to be in digital form. (Help for non-computer users available on 0417 403 720 – leave your name and contact number).
  11. Entries must be a Word document, not a PDF or Jpeg. Please Note: Filename for your attached document should match the Story Title, which must NOT be the theme name.
  12. Entries sent in a format other than Word cannot be accepted.
  13. Entries should be typed in 12pt font, double spaced.

National Heart Week

It's National Heart Week and with heart disease the leading cause of death in Australia it is important that we all take steps to improve our heart health.  It only takes three minutes to find out your heart age. 

Visit the Heart Age Calculator and the Heart Foundation to find out how you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke:

Election 2022: Information You Need To Know

We go to the polls on 21 May to vote for a new Commonwealth Government and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has great resources and advice about voting to suit your situation and circumstances.

Here are some key topics and frequently asked questions about voting that should help make sure your vote is counted.

Can I vote electronically?
No. The AEC conducts federal elections in accordance with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The introduction of electronic voting would require legislative change, which is a matter for Parliament.
Will there be COVID-19 safety measures at polling places?
There will be a range of COVID-19 safety measures at polling places, which include the requirement for election staff to be vaccinated and to wear a face mask.

There will also be things that we have become used to like physical distancing and using hand sanitiser. These may slow down the process, so please be kind to the polling staff.

Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has said, “Australians can feel comfortable to vote in-person this federal election. With most of us able to lead our daily lives in the community you can take comfort that we’ll have more COVID-19 safety measures in place at voting venues than your local shops.”

Vote early
You can vote early, either in-person or by post, if on election day you:
  • are outside the electorate where you are enrolled to vote
  • are more than 8km from a polling place
  • are travelling
  • are unable to leave your workplace to vote
  • are seriously ill, infirm, or due to give birth shortly (or caring for someone who is)
  • are a patient in hospital and can't vote at the hospital
  • have religious beliefs that prevent you from attending a polling place
  • are in prison serving a sentence of less than three years or otherwise detained
  • are a silent elector
  • have a reasonable fear for your safety.
Consider your options carefully. Voting early in-person may be a better option than voting by post.

How does postal voting work?
While elections are in-person community events, Australians who can’t make it in-person, can apply for a postal vote.

Political parties can send postal vote applications in the mail or you might get a text message linking you back to a party website.

However, direct AEC applications are the quickest and best method and you can apply directly through the AEC website.

More information about postal voting is available here.

What if someone has mobility difficulties or is living with a disability?
While the AEC uses accessible polling places wherever possible, if you find it difficult to get to a polling place on election day, you can apply to become a General Postal Voter to receive your ballot papers in the mail. The AEC also provides mobile polling to some hospitals and nursing homes (see below).

If you have a physical disability that prevents you from writing, someone else may complete and sign an enrolment form for persons unable to sign their name on your behalf.

Some people may also require additional support to enrol and vote, such as people with an intellectual, cognitive or psychosocial disability. The AEC provides a range of ‘Easy read guides’ for people who have difficulty reading and understanding written information.

Will mobile voting be available in health care and residential care settings?
Given the higher COVID-19 risk in health and aged care settings it is unlikely that mobile voting teams will be able to visit all aged care facilities or hospitals.

During the federal election people in these facilities will be able to apply for a postal vote or visit a nearby in-person voting centre. The AEC will have teams in regular contact with relevant facilities to provide support.

A relative has dementia. What should I do?
People in the early stages of dementia, who are still capable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting, may be able to continue to enrol and vote.

You should speak with the person and with their doctor to determine if they maintain the capacity to understand the voting process.

If someone is unable to understand the nature or significance of voting in a federal election, then an application can be made to have them removed from the electoral roll. This application can be made by a family member, carer or friend but must be accompanied by a medical certificate that attests to the circumstances.

Source: Australian Electoral Commission

The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun

From the Beatles YouTube Channel

Study Of Promising Alzheimer's Marker In Blood Prompts Warning About Brain-Boosting Supplements

May 3, 2022
Elevated levels of an enzyme called PHGDH in the blood of older adults could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer's disease, and a study led by the University of California San Diego provides new evidence to support this claim. In analysing brain tissue, researchers observed a trend consistent with their previous findings in blood samples: expression levels of the gene coding for PHGDH were consistently higher in adults with different stages of Alzheimer's disease, even the early stages before cognitive symptoms manifested.

The findings also prompt caution against the use of dietary supplements that contain the amino acid serine as a remedy for Alzheimer's disease. Because PHGDH is a key enzyme in the production of serine, the increased PHGDH expression found in Alzheimer's patients suggests that the rate of serine production in the brain is also increased, and thus, taking additional serine may not be beneficial, the researchers warned.

Researchers led by Sheng Zhong, a professor of bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, and Xu Chen, a professor of neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine, published their findings May 3 in Cell Metabolism.

The new study builds on earlier work by Zhong and colleagues that first identified PHGDH as a potential blood biomarker for Alzheimer's disease. The researchers had analysed blood samples of older adults and found a steep increase in PHGDH gene expression in Alzheimer's patients, as well as in healthy individuals approximately two years before they were diagnosed with the disease.

The results were promising, and the researchers were curious if this increase could be linked back to the brain. In their new study, they show that this indeed is the case.

"It's exciting that our previous discovery of a blood biomarker is now corroborated with brain data," said Zhong. "Now we have strong evidence that the changes we see in human blood are directly correlated to changes in the brain in Alzheimer's disease."

The researchers analysed genetic data collected from post-mortem human brains from subjects in four different research cohorts, each made up of 40 to 50 individuals 50 years and older. The subjects consisted of Alzheimer's patients, so-called "asymptomatic" individuals (people without cognitive problems and without an Alzheimer's diagnosis, but whose post-mortem brain analyses showed early signs of Alzheimer's-related changes), and healthy controls.

The results showed a consistent increase in PHGDH expression among Alzheimer's patients and asymptomatic individuals in all four cohorts compared to the healthy controls. Moreover, expression levels were higher the more advanced the disease. This trend was also observed in two different mouse models of Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers also compared the subjects' PHGDH expression levels with their scores on two different clinical assessments: the Dementia Rating Scale, which rates a person's memory and cognitive ability, and Braak staging, which rates the severity of Alzheimer's disease based on the brain's pathology. The results showed that the worse the scores, the higher the expression of PHGDH in the brain.

"The fact that this gene's expression level directly correlates with both a person's cognitive ability and disease pathology is remarkable," said Zhong. "Being able to quantify both of these complex metrics with a single molecular measurement could potentially make diagnosis and monitoring progression of Alzheimer's disease much simpler."

The case against serine
The findings come with implications for serine supplements, which are advertised to improve memory and cognitive function. The key player responsible for making serine in the body is PHGDH. Some researchers have proposed that PHGDH expression is reduced in Alzheimer's disease, and that boosting serine intake could help with treatment and prevention. Clinical trials are already underway to test serine treatments in older adults experiencing cognitive decline.

But with their data consistently showing increased PHGDH expression in Alzheimer's, the researchers posit that serine production may likely be increased in this disease, contrary to what some other groups claim.

"Anyone looking to recommend or take serine to mitigate Alzheimer's symptoms should exercise caution," said co-first author Riccardo Calandrelli, who is a research associate in Zhong's lab.

Next steps
The researchers are looking to study how changing PHGDH gene expression will affect disease outcomes. The approach could lead to new therapeutics for Alzheimer's.

A San Diego-based biotechnology startup co-founded by Zhong, called Genemo, is working to develop a PHGDH blood test for early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

Xu Chen, Riccardo Calandrelli, John Girardini, Zhangming Yan, Zhiqun Tan, Xiangmin Xu, Annie Hiniker, Sheng Zhong. PHGDH expression increases with progression of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and symptoms. Cell Metabolism, 2022; 34 (5): 651 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2022.02.008

The Archibald 2022 finalists: sitters speaking up to power; artists speaking back to the canon

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Yoshio Honjo Yumi Stynes as onna-musha (female samurai), natural earth pigments on hand made washi paper, 97 x 66 cm © the artist, image © AGNSW, Mim Stirling
Joanna MendelssohnThe University of Melbourne

For those seeking refuge from the election, the 101st Archibald Prize is almost a politician-free zone. Unless you count Joanna Braithwaite’s amusingly titled McManusstan, a portrait of bird lover Sally McManus. Former Labor minister Peter Garrett painted by Anh Do is in the line up – but more accurately described as a rock star.

Braithwaite has painted McManus in a suit that I am guessing she doesn’t own, as it is covered in newspaper stories attacking unions.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Joanna Braithwaite, McManusstan, oil on canvas, 197.5 x 167 cm © the artist, image. © AGNSW, Mim Stirling

This year’s exhibition includes some interesting art as well as people of interest. Both artists and their subjects have issues that our elected officials seem unwilling or unable to solve.

As effective as McManus has been in bringing industrial issues to the fore, Laura Tingle – the fourth estate, painted by James Powditch, is probably more influential for the way she speaks truth to power.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, James Powditch, Laura Tingle–the fourth estate, acrylic on paper and board, 204 x 170.1 cm. © the artist, image © AGNSW, Jenni Carter

Powditch has entered the Archibald many times before and this is by far his most impressive entry so far. Tingle is painted in profile, looking intently at someone we cannot see.

Her face is superimposed over a collage that includes a script from 7.30, a page from her Quarterly Essay, pages from Simeon Potter’s Language in the Modern World and a fragment of a Bach composition. A multicoloured collage of facsimile engravings by Sydney Parkinson tells of her love of gardening.

Reverent Rage

The painting that dominates the exhibition is Blak Douglas’ Moby Dickens, a portrait of the Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Blak Douglas, Moby Dickens, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 300 x 200 cm. © the artist, image © AGNSW, Mim Stirling

Dickens lives in Lismore, Bundjalung Country. Her justifiable anger at the way she and many others have been neglected sparks out of her eyes. She is painted holding leaky buckets while standing in brown muddy water. The 14 clouds represent the 14 days it rained in the first February flood, while government failed to act.

The floods are the subject of at least two paintings in the Wynne Prize, but this Archibald entry says it all. Douglas encapsulates the rage of a people betrayed by an absent government.

The somewhat pained expression on Saul Griffith’s face in Jude Rae’s The big switch – portrait of Dr Saul Griffith, which hangs to the left of Douglas’ work, may give some context to the anger.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Jude Rae, The big switch – portrait of Dr Saul Griffith, oil on linen, solar panels, 209.8 x 239.7 cm overall. © the artist, image © AGNSW, Mim Stirling

Griffith has created a blueprint for Australia to cut electricity costs via solar power and batteries. Most Federal politicians are less than receptive, preferring to cook the planet with coal and gas.

Griffith was also the subject of a portrait by his mother, Pamela Griffith. There is an unwritten rule in the Archibald that only one painting of any subject will be hung, so this sadly went with the great majority to the rejects.

There are many reasons for righteous anger in this year’s exhibition. Mostafa Azimitabar’s self portrait, KNS088, stares at the viewer, confronting us with the way we as a country have been complicit in a crime against humanity.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Mostafa Azimitabar, KNS088 (self-portrait), coffee and acrylic on canvas, 190.5 x 191.8 cm. © the artist, image © AGNSW, Jenni Carter

For many years he was in detention, on Manus Island and then a hotel. He learnt to paint using coffee and a toothbrush. Both materials are used here.

Joan Ross’ ‘You were my biggest regret’: diary entry 1808, seems by comparison to be relatively mild. But her stylised mock-colonial self portrait is mournfully hugging a tree trunk, symbolising the destruction of the natural world by the colonisers in whose steps we tread.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Joan Ross ‘You were my biggest regret’: diary entry 1806, oil and alkyd paint on PVC with printed perspex backing, 154 x 123.5 cm. © the artist, image © AGNSW, Jenni Carter

Pleasure In The Craft

The exhibition also celebrates those who fight for causes.

Tsering Hannaford has a painting of the Pitjantjatjara activist Sally Scales, painted in the academic style most commonly found in the hallowed halls of gentlemen’s clubs.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Tsering Hannaford, Sally Scales, oil on board, 120.2 x 91 cm © the artist, image. © AGNSW, Jenni Carter

Not all creative activists are treated with such seriousness.

Jordan Richardson’s Venus is a portrait of Benjamin Law as Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus, while Avraham Vofsi’s portrait of John Safran as David and Goliath successfully appropriates the style of 19th century academic art, including the gold frame.

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Jordan Richardson, Venus, oil on canvas, 122.3 x 183.4 cm. © the artist, image © AGNSW, Felicity Jenkin

Yoshio Honjo’s portrait of Yumi Stynes as onna-musha (female samurai) is painted in the style of a Japanese woodblock print. It is one of many works where the artist has really considered the sensibility of their subjects.

Easily the most successful of these appropriated styles is Claus Stangl’s “3D” portrait of Taika Waititi, the man who gave the world Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What we do in the shadows before making Marvel movies that are actually worth watching.

It is a very clever painting, using thin layers of paint to create a mock 3D effect, gloriously out of focus, and a very worthy winner of the Packing Room Prize.The Conversation

Archibald Prize 2022 finalist, Claus Stangl, Taika Waititi, acrylic on canvas, 245 x 195.1 cm. © the artist, image © AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins

Joanna Mendelssohn, Principal Fellow (Hon), Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Editor in Chief, Design and Art of Australia Online, The University of Melbourne

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

CE’s Corner

May 5, 2022: COTA Australia
The 2022 Federal Election is so far proving to be positive  for Older Australians. Not only are we seeing competing  but strong commitments from the major parties on fixing aged care, but also policy releases from many parties  in a range of other areas including retirement incomes, concessions, lowering the cost of PBS medicines, and more. See below on this page.

We made our recommendations in that way, rather than for “election policies”, because Older Australians are better off when there is consensus, rather than  contest, about the policies that matter to and directly affect us. COTA Australia will continue to work with everyone across the Parliament for the benefit of Older Australians, no matter the outcome of the election.

In pursuit of our policy recommendations, we have also invited a number of relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers to join us in a series of conversations on our Facebook Page (accessible with or without a Facebook account). 

You can access recordings of those events at, and I will email newsletter subscribers with updates as we announce extra speakers in coming weeks.

As well as our Agenda for Government, we prepared two other important publications this election – a Candidates Guide, which we have been sending to candidates as they were announced since last October; and a Journalists Guide to the 2022 Federal Election which we launched to an online forum of journalists and have distributed to a wide range of media. We recently publicly released both of these and there are links to them below. We also have print copies if you would like one.

In the 15 years since the 2007 election, when neither major party announced a policy on aged care, we’ve come a long way. Whilst the last term of Parliament was seemingly dominated by the pandemic, we also had the Aged Care Royal Commission, the Retirement Income Review, and seemingly a developing consensus to support a stronger Superannuation system and guarantee the Age Pension well into the future. The next Parliament will have many challenges, and we hope Members and Senators work together across the chambers  to keep the momentum up to make Australia a better place for older people.

Best Regards

Ian Yates AM
Chief Executive
COTA Australia

Policies For Older People At The 2022 Federal Election

May 2, 2022: COTA Australia
Whole of Government
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Government adopt a Co-design Framework and Guidelines, and require annual reporting by Departments on co-design approaches with the full diversity of Older people for policy development and program delivery.

Recommendation 2: Establish a Productivity Commission inquiry into the costs of ageism in Australia, including particular terms of reference in relation to workplaces and health services.

Recommendation 3: Develop a whole-of-government strategy for older Australians and an ageing Australia, with annual reports of achievements against the strategy’s objectives and its action plans.

Relevant Announced Policies
None yet identified.

Aged Care
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 4: All parties to commit to and fund the whole of the integrated package of recommendations and timelines from the Aged Care Royal Commission, with the exception of the funding and financing recommendations.

Recommendation 5: By 30 June 2023, no one will wait more than one month from registration for care to receipt of a home service.

Recommendation 6: Advise the Fair Work Commission of government support for a substantial increase in aged care workers award rates of pay, and commit to funding the Fair Work Commission’s decision on the current Work Value case.

Relevant Announced Policies

Retirement Income
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 7: Consult on and deliver a comprehensive Government response to the Retirement Income Review 2020 by June 2023.

Recommendation 8: Commission a review of the adequacy of the Age Pension to maintain fair and appropriate living standards in retirement for every person dependent on the full rate of pension, with particular reference to ensuring appropriate parity with general living standards.

Recommendation 9: Change the Age Pension asset taper rate from $3.00/$1,000 to $2.25/$1,000.Recommendation 10: Review the design and settings of the age pension work bonus and income testing policies to further encourage part-time, casual, seasonal, or self-employed work by age pension recipients.

Recommendation 11: Provide an opt-in alternative to pension deeming rates where a person can elect to advise actual earnings from financial products.

Recommendation 12: Mandate that superannuation funds be required to provide a ‘retirement income projection’ and other information on optimising retirement income, to fund members, at least every five years from age 45, based on a standardised set of criteria and variables set by APRA.

Recommendation 13: Create a regulated category of financial ‘digital advice’ from superannuation funds to members to provide non-personal but segmented advice on retirement income related decision-making.

Relevant Announced Policies

COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 14: Uncap the number of Medicare funded allied health sessions.

Recommendation 15: Develop and fund a specific program to increase access to mental health services by older people.

Recommendation 16: Extend Medicare to include oral and dental health.

Recommendation 17: Prior to the implementation of Recommendation 16, fund up to $1,000 of oral health and dental care treatments per year, initially supporting older people on low incomes and people receiving aged care, including those in a nursing home. In addition, fund an ongoing, sustainable and higher-level the National Partnership Agreement on Public Dental Services to support state and territory public dental services.

Relevant Announced Policies
Greens – Health Policies
Greens – Health

Older Workers
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 18: Establish a roundtable to discuss solutions to match older workers with jobs for older applicants, including through use of online job boards.

Recommendation 19: Remove the requirement for older Australians who qualify for the disability pension to participate in the Job Support Program.

Recommendation 20: Strengthening the Career Transition Assistance (CTA) program through guaranteed ongoing funding, increased promotion to mature job seekers and improving referral pathways.

Relevant Announced Policies

COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 21: Develop a rolling ten year National Housing Strategy in cooperation with all States and Territories, with the involvement of Local Government and industry, that will significantly enhance the availability of secure, affordable, appropriate housing of choice for the diversity of the Australian population.

Recommendation 22: Increase availability of affordable rentals suitable for older women.

Recommendation 23: Government should fund trials of innovative housing models such as cooperative housing or co-ownership models, and shared equity models, appropriate for older women.

Recommendation 24: Establish an Inquiry into policy measures to better alleviate housing stress for people on low incomes in both the short and longer terms. In the interim, increase the maximum Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) rates by at least 50% immediately.

Recommendation 25: Fund the States and Territories to build sufficient public, social and low cost private housing to eliminate their waiting lists within the next two terms of Federal Parliament, including reinstating a National Rent Affordability Scheme (NRAS) type scheme, with better targeted criteria, to encourage building of more affordable low cost private rental properties.

Relevant Announced Policies
Greens – One Million Homes

Age Discrimination
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 26: Direct and fund the Australian Law Reform Commission to undertake a review of age discrimination legislation in Australia with a view to developing laws that address age discrimination as a systemic issue that requires a variety of measures in order to reduce and eradicate it.

Relevant Announced Policies
None yet identified.

Older Women
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 27: Initiate an independent review to recommend policy measures to address systemic problems causes of older women’s poverty including redressing the gender pay gap within and between industries, paying superannuation during periods of Parental Leave and Carer’s Leave, reducing the cost of childcare, and other measures.

Recommendation 28: Ensure that domestic and family violence support services are inclusive of older women.

Relevant Announced Policies

Elder Abuse
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 29: Consult on and fund the implementation of a 10 year strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians 2024-2033.

Recommendation 30: Continue to fund and implement the current National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians 2019-2023, and commit to development of a more robust, detailed and accountable Plan for 2024 to 2033, which needs to be substantially better funded.

Recommendation 31: Fund the process of leading the States and Territories in the development of nationally consistent enduring Powers of Attorney (POA) laws, followed by a national register of POAs.

Relevant Announced Policies
None yet identified.

Digital Inclusion
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 32: Task all Government Departments building digital platforms with ensuring older people are consulted in their design and implementation, and the diversity of digital users (including a mix of skills, accessibility and other aspects) is respected and incorporated in the design and operation of digital platforms and services.

Recommendation 33: Develop nationwide education and support programs for older Australians to maintain online and offline engagement with Government.

Recommendation 34: Implement solutions that reduce the increasing cost of using digital platforms to enable effective and equitable digital access and autonomy, including by considering options to:
Mandate that all telecommunication providers provide a low-cost digital access plan, suitable for pensioners and those on low incomes, Fund a “Pensioners Digital Supplement” for all pensioners and income support program recipients, and Fund unmetered access to Government websites.

Recommendation 35: Allow the use of State Government issued photo/age Cards on a voluntary basis for proof of identify via government digital ID verification services, in the same way that driver’s license can be used.

Relevant Announced Policies

Social Inclusion
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 36: Conduct a national consultation, including consultation with isolated older people, to develop a national response to social isolation through for social inclusion and participation initiatives.

Relevant Announced Policies
Liberal/National – Seniors Connected Program

Voluntary Assisted Dying Laws
COTA Recommendations
Recommendation 37: The 47th Parliament should repeal the Federal Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, to allow Australian citizens in the ACT and NT the same rights as those in States to decide whether or not to adopt Voluntary Assisted Dying laws.

Relevant Announced Policies

Study Preserves Memory In Mice Offering Promising New Basis For Active Immunization Against Alzheimer's Disease

May 3, 2022
During experiments in animal models, researchers at the University of Kansas have discovered a possible new approach to immunization against Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Their method uses a recombinant methionine (Met)-rich protein derived from corn that was then oxidized in vitro to produce the antigen: methionine sulfoxide (MetO)-rich protein. This antigen, when injected to the body, goads the immune system into producing antibodies against the MetO component of beta-amyloid, a protein that is toxic to brain cells and seen as a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The findings have been just published in the peer-reviewed open-access journal Antioxidants.

"As we age, we have more oxidative stress, and then beta-amyloid and other proteins accumulate and become oxidized and aggregated -- these proteins are resistant to degradation or removal," said lead researcher Jackob Moskovitz, associate professor of pharmacology & toxicology at the KU School of Pharmacy. "In a previous 2011 published study, I injected mouse models of Alzheimer's disease with a similar methionine sulfoxide-rich protein and showed about 30% reduction of amyloid plaque burden in the hippocampus, the main region where damage from Alzheimer's disease occurs."

The MetO-rich protein used by Moskovitz for the vaccination of AD-model mice is able to prompt the immune system to produce antibodies against MetO-containing proteins, including MetO-harboring beta-amyloid. The introduction of the corn-based MetO-rich protein (antigen) fosters the body's immune system to produce and deploy the antibodies against MetO to previously tolerated MetO-containing proteins (including MetO-beta-amyloid), and ultimately reduce the levels of toxic forms of beta-amyloid and other possible proteins in brain.

In the new follow-up study, Moskovitz and his co-authors injected the MetO-rich protein into 4-month-old AD-model mice that were genetically modified to develop the familial form of Alzheimer's disease. Subsequent testing showed that this approach provoked the mice's immune systems into producing antibodies that could alleviate the presence of AD phenotypes at an older age (10-month-old mice).

"This treatment induced the production of anti-MetO antibody in blood-plasma that exhibits a significant titer up to at least 10 months of age," according to the authors.

Moskovitz's KU co-authors on the Antioxidants study are Adam Smith, assistant professor of pharmacology & toxicology; Kyle Gossman and Benjamin Dykstra, graduate students in Smith's lab; and Philip Gao, director of the Protein Production Group at the Del Shankel Structural Biology Center.

In a series of tests, the KU researchers assessed the memory of injected mice against similar mice that didn't receive the corn-based methionine sulfoxide.

"We measured short-term memory capability through a 'Y' maze, and that's very important in Alzheimer's disease -- because when people get Alzheimer's, their short-term memory is going away, while the old memories are still there," Moskovitz said. "You put a mouse in a maze shaped like a 'Y' so they can go either the left or right arm. But then you introduce a third arm in the middle and if they recognize the third arm as new, they'll spend more time exploring that new arm because they have curiosity. If they don't even notice there's a third arm -- because they forget it the minute after they saw it -- they will spend more time in right or left."

According to Moskovitz, there was a roughly 50% improvement in the memory of mice injected with the methionine sulfoxide (MetO)-rich protein versus the control.

In another experiment, mice were tasked with locating a platform in a water maze.

"We gave them six days to learn, and even the ones with Alzheimer's eventually learn the location of the platform -- but we found after the second day there was a big difference, the injected mice with the antigen learn much faster than the nonimmunized mice," Moskovitz said. "Then we remove the platform to see if they remember where the platform was just by memory, not by looking. And again, we saw a big difference. The antigen-immunized mice remember and spend more time in the vicinity of the platform they were trained on compared to the nonimmunized control mice."

In addition to short-term memory improvement, the study showed the antigen-injected mice exhibited better long memory capabilities, reduced beta-amyloid levels in both blood-plasma and the brain, as well as "reduced beta-amyloid burden and MetO accumulations in astrocytes in hippocampal and cortical regions; reduced levels of activated microglia; and elevated antioxidant capabilities (through enhanced nuclear localization of the transcription factor Nrf2) in the same brain regions."

The researchers found the data collected in the study likely are translational, suggesting active immunization "could give a possibility of delaying or preventing AD onset."

Moskovitz said such an immunization could be given to people as the risk of Alzheimer's disease increases later in life, "around the time people are told to go get a colonoscopy for the first time in their 50s or 60s," he said. "Further booster shots could maintain immunization, a process which people are so familiar with from the COVID vaccines."

An active immunization would represent an improvement over current passive immunization regimes because the methionine sulfoxide antigen prods the immune system into producing its own antibodies. In passive immunization, antibodies are directly injected into the body but can have severe toxic side effects (such as brain encephalitis) as well as being prone to rejection by the immune system as non-self-antibodies over time.

Moskovitz said the next steps in this line of research would be to conduct pre-clinical and clinical trials in humans in conjunction with the sponsorship of interested pharmaceutical companies.

Adam S. Smith, Kyle R. Gossman, Benjamin Dykstra, Fei Philip Gao, Jackob Moskovitz. Protective Effects against the Development of Alzheimer’s Disease in an Animal Model through Active Immunization with Methionine-Sulfoxide Rich Protein Antigen. Antioxidants, 2022; 11 (4): 775 DOI: 10.3390/antiox11040775

Nationwide Search For 16-20 Year Old Male Soccer Players For New TV Series

McGregor Casting is currently casting a new Television Series based on teenagers in Year 11 & 12 and are continuing their search for a few roles. 

They are looking for folks who are teenagers (or people who still REALLY look like teenagers!) who are BASED IN AUSTRALIA to audition. They are looking for males aged between 16-20 who play soccer at a very high level. Please note: they are completely open to seeing people with no acting experience!

Applicants must be available to shoot in Sydney between late June - early September 2022. 

To apply, please fill in the form here and include a few clear pictures of yourself. If they feel you are suitable for this (or any other role they are currently casting) they will be in contact.

Please help them out by reading all the information provided carefully before emailing us with questions!

Initial applications due: Monday 9th May, 9am AEDT.  

May Is Rotary Youth Service Month  

Rotary’s Youth Service Programs have a long history of developing young leaders, and providing for health and education projects to make the world a better place. These programs make it a priority to create world peace and understanding while exposing youth to the ideals of “Service Above Self.” Youth Service is important because youth are our future. 
Did you know that anyone over the age of 18 can join Rotary? 
In our club, we have a great combination and balance of highly experienced Rotarians and young energetic ones as well, providing fresh ideas and diversity of thought.
This week, we are pleased to host Sam Wilkins of Northern Beaches Rotaract, who will tell us all about how young people can become involved.
Details of our next meeting are:
Date            Wednesday, 11 May 2022
Venue         Avalon RSL
Meeting     Time 7pm upstairs - function room (or join us for meal in the bistro from 6 pm) 
Contact Details and More Information:
Phone         (02) 8005 0711 
e mail .  

Local Women Named In Australian Gridiron Squad

Newport rugby's Kirisitiana Osborne has been named to play for Australia in the Australian Women’s Outback Travel Squad for the Women’s World Championship of Gridiron to be played in Finland in July 2022. Kirisitiana is one of three Northern Sydney Gridiron Club Rebels players named this week as part of a 45 women Australian squad, with Keira Boots and Brooke Mugridge being the other Rebels players.

Kevin Wilson, Head Coach of the Australian Women's Outback, made the announcement on Thursday May 5th, stating;

''I am confident these athletes will uphold with pride, the honour of being an Australian representative and will conduct themselves as ambassadors for the sport in true Australian spirit.''

Gridiron Australia is the recognised governing body of American Football in Australia. Ter are, to date, 121 teams and 3175 players of this sport across Australia in all places except the Northern Territory.

The 2022 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championship, is taking place in Vantaa, Finland from July 28-August 8. 

The lineup will include the host nation and defending European Champion Finland, along with the reigning World Champions, Team USA. They will be joined by the 2017 World Championship silver and bronze medallists, Canada and Mexico, as well as the 2019 European silver and bronze medallists, Sweden and Great Britain, the 2015 European bronze medallists, Germany, and Australia, which was coached at the 2017 World Championship by Dr. Jen Welter. Dr. Welter became the NFL’s first female coach in 2015.

The Northern Sydney Gridiron club's website states the club was founded in 2014 by former club president Stephen Armstrong. Stephen grew up on the Northern Beaches, but moved to Perth after school. He had a successful stint playing football in WA for the Perth Blitz before relocating home to NSW in 2013.  After playing one season with the UNSW Raiders he decided to start his own football club. 

Stephen sent a proposal to the sports governing body, Gridiron NSW, and was put in contact with a man by the name of Scott Davoren. Scott was a former North Western Predator who had been out of the game for a few years but was more than willing to help establish a new club. The word was put out in early 2014 on the clubs newly formed Facebook page and after a hugely successful first turn out the founding members of the club made the decision to push forward and get on the pitch for the upcoming season.

The club considered several names including The Spartans, Saxons, Owls and even the Redbacks in honour of the historical Manly side from the 1990s. In the end it was unanimously decided to settle on the mantle of the Rebels. 

Fast forward to today, and the club has moved forward in leaps and bounds. The Division 1 men's team was the first team to record a win in their initial season in GNSW history, and have since had playoff berths in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, barely missing out on a spot in the Waratah Bowl in 2017. The club has grown exponentially since its inception, developing its colts and women's programs to the same level of success, as can be seen from this week's announcement.

If you want to try it out there's an event coming up locally in a few weeks time:

2022 Australian Surfing Awards - Top 10 Surf Photos Of The Year Announced

 Australian surf photography has continued to go from strength to strength in the past twelve months as evident in the epic submissions for the 2022 Surf Photo of The Year Award category. 

With a mix of icons and up-and-comers putting their best images forward for judging there was a great variety of land and water based frames for the judges to adjudicate on. 

As it is every year, the Surf Photo of The Year Award was hotly contested with the top ten images of an extremely high standard. For the tenth year running the submissions were judged by a panel of thirteen high-profile individuals within the surfing industry.

Chris Mater, CEO, Surfing Australia, said, “ Everyone always looks forward to seeing captivating high quality images as produced in the Surf Photo of The Year Award category each and every year, 2021 being no different. Congratulations to everyone that submitted their work and a special mention to the epic top ten images. Good luck on the night!"

The Australian Surfing Awards is proudly supported by the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

2022 Australian Surf Photo of The Year Top Ten (In no particular order)

Andrew Peacock 'Unridden Antarctica'

Trav Don Johnson 'Molly in Flight'

Nathan Tyack 'Clancy Dawson'

Ted Grambeau 'Maya Gaberia'

Adam Crane 'Mikey Wright' 

Peter Jovic 'Slide Into The Gold' 

Trav Don Johnson 'In A Phone Booth

Dan Hayward 'Super Medina

Jack O'Grady 'Jacob Willcox One Last Pump

Ted Grambeau 'Nic Von Rupp'​​​​​​ 

World-renowned Surf Journalist Nick Carroll continues in the role of Curator of the Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame.

The Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame is proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland, QT Gold Coast,  Griffith University, Reeftip Drinks Co, Zambrero, ACCIONA,  Modus Operandi, Andrew Peace Wines and OnStone.

Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower Is Set To Light Up Our Skies

Every May southern observers get a special treat – the Eta Aquariid meteor shower. This year conditions promise to be perfect, making it the ideal opportunity for some autumnal meteor observation. The forecast peak for this year’s Eta Aquariids falls on the morning of Saturday, May 7 AEDT. The Moon will be well out of the way, so meteors won’t be lost in its glare.

Meteors showers are named for the constellation in which their radiant lies. So the Eta Aquariids have a radiant near the star Eta Aquarii – the tenth-brightest star in Aquarius. The Eta Aquariids, named after the Aquarius constellation, derive from the debris of Halley's Comet, the well-known comet that is visible from earth every 76 years, according to NASA. The last time the comet was spotted in our sky was in 1986, and it won't appear again until 2061.

To see the Eta Aquariids, you’ll need to wait until the radiant rises – before that, the body of the Earth gets in the way. In the southern hemisphere the Eta Aquariid radiant rises in the east at around 1:30 to 2am, local time.

The Eta Aquariids are the second best shower of the year for people in Australia. They can put on a spectacular show - but don’t expect to see meteors falling like snowflakes. When the radiant first rises above the horizon, at around 1.30am, meteors from the shower will be few and far between. If you see five or six Eta Aquariids in that first hour, you should probably count yourself lucky.

Predictions of the peak vary and the shower still should be visible in the hours before dawn on May 4, 5,6 and 7, 2022, according to EarthSky. The shower will remain active until May 27.

While the Eta Aquariids are visible from both the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere, they are best viewed in the Southern Hemisphere where the meteors will rise the highest in the night sky, according to NASA.

HSC Exam Timetable Released

April 29, 2022
Students undertaking their HSC this year can start planning their exam weeks with the release of the 2022 timetable.  Today 76,000 NSW students will receive their personalised timetable for the 2022 written HSC exams.

HSC written exams will start on Wednesday 12 October 2022 with English Paper 1 and finish on Friday 4 November 2022.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the release of the HSC timetable marks the final stage of the school journey for Year 12 students.

“The release of the HSC timetable confirms for the Class of 2022 that they are on the home straight of their high school education,” Ms Mitchell said.

“These students have managed an incredibly challenging final two years of school. They should be proud of what they’ve achieved and I wish them all the best in their HSC exams.”

Management of the HSC is no small feat, with this year’s schedule running across 18 days, involving around 76,000 students, 126 exams and 780 exam centres.

NESA CEO Paul Martin said planning the HSC exam timetable was a complex process, designed to ensure every student has an opportunity to show what they know.

“Each year, we work to ensure that the HSC timetable for each student is as fair and equitable as possible, so everyone has the opportunity to be at their best for the written exams,” said Mr Martin.

“NESA has been working hard to consolidate the lessons we learnt from running the HSC during a pandemic and are ready to put what we have learnt in place to further full proof the HSC for 2022.”

All 2022 HSC students can access their timetable on Students Online from 9am today. The full 2022 HSC written exam timetable will be available here at 10am:

Up Close With Gang-Gang Cockatoo Feeding On Conesticks – Blue Mountains

By Birds in Backyards TV
These up-close scenes of a young male Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) were captured on a rainy late March (2022) day from the Little Switzerland Trail on the Kings Tableland plateau in the Blue Mountains (NSW, Australia). Despite the weather, several birds were sighted, including a cockatoo-fest: Nine Gang-gangs, ten Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, five Glossy Black Cockatoos and two Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Only the first two species were within camera range on this occasion. The closing footage of a female Glossy Black Cockatoo was collected around the same location (Little Switzerland-Chester Trail circuit) the following day. 

It’s always a thrill to spot the bright red heads of male Gang-gang Cockatoos, standing out from the foliage like waratah blooms. Of course, the females have their own beauty, with their filamentous grey crest and orange-yellow fringing on their underparts creating a barred effect. Juvenile Gang-gangs have similar underparts and a rudimentary grey crest. In the immature stage – as seen here – the young male develops his red features but still has aspects of juvenile plumage. To see close-up views of an adult male and adult female, please check out our previous production from the Capertee Valley on western edge of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Gang-gang Cockatoos are mostly found in temperate forest of south-east Australia, but will visit more open habitats such as grassy woodland and heathland, and parks, gardens and road verges in search of food. In general, the diet of any cockatoo is largely determined by bird and beak size. As one of our smallest cockatoos (only the Cockatiel is smaller), Gang-gangs prefer softer, more accessible seed pods (e.g. Petrophile pulchella aka Conesticks, as shown in this video, Acacias, Eucalypts and Callistris) and fruits of some exotic plants (e.g. Hawthorn and Cotoneaster). Note that the Glossy Black Cockatoo in the final scene is eating the seeds of harder she-oak pods, but a Conesticks plant is closer to camera. 

Although Gang-gangs are relatively flexible in their food choices, this hasn’t saved them from declining numbers throughout their range. They are listed as Vulnerable in NSW and Endangered federally. Two strongholds have traditionally been the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), where this bird is the faunal emblem, and the Blue Mountains in NSW. Alas, this once-common breeding nomad of the Mountains (who also moves altitudinally in response to seasonal change) is harder to find now, especially in the lower Mountains. There are fewer sightings in all parts of the Mountains, but the upper Mountains has had the least decline and Gang-gangs remain a likely treat for residents thereabouts. As to why the decline, it’s a familiar story of habitat loss and degradation, made worse by the fires of 2019-20.

Young Writers’ Competition 2022

Young people across the Northern Beaches are encouraged to enter this year’s Young Writers’ Competition for their chance to be published.  

Now in its 13th year, the annual competition is open to students from kindergarten to grade 12 who live or go to school on the Northern Beaches. The theme of this year’s competition is ‘rise’.

“The Northern Beaches is home to some very talented young writers, and I continue to be blown away by the creativity and skill of entrants in our annual Young Writers’ Competition,” Mayor Michael Regan said.

“It’s time for young writers to once again rise and shine and show us what they’ve got. More than 500 stories were submitted in last year’s competition, and we suspect this year will be just as competitive.”

Entrants can write on any topic or theme but must include a derivation of the word ‘rise’. Entries will be grouped by age and judged according to characterisation, originality, plot, and language.

Four finalists will be chosen in each age category and invited to a presentation night on Wednesday 10 August, where a winner, runner-up, and two highly commended prizes are awarded.

Finalists from each category will have their stories published in an eBook which is added to the Northern Beaches Council Library collection.  

Entries close Tuesday 31 May 2022.  Entrants must be members of the Northern Beaches Council Library Service.  

Complete the online entry form and attach your story as a Word document. If your story is hand-written, then a clear, readable photo or scanned PDF can be submitted. 

Not a member of the library? Don't worry, Council will use this form to create a membership for you. Just mark 'no' under the library member field in the online form. If you are a member and unsure of your library card number, just mark 'yes' in the library member field in the online form and Council will find your library membership number. 

Entries are judged according to characterisation, originality, plot and use of language and arranged into six different age group categories.

Four finalists are chosen in each age category and invited to a presentation night where a winner, runner-up and two highly commended prizes are awarded. Finalists from each category will have their stories published in an eBook that will be added to Council's collection. 

For more information visit Council's library.  

Word Of The Week: Meliorist

Word of the Week returns in 2022 simply to throw some disruption in amongst the 'yeah-nah' mix.

meliorist - the belief that the world can be made better by human effort.

Meliorism (Latin meliorbetter) is the idea that progress is a real concept leading to an improvement of the world. It holds that humans can, through their interference with processes that would otherwise be natural, produce an outcome which is an improvement over the aforementioned natural one.

Meliorism, as a conception of the person and society, is at the foundation of contemporary liberal democracy and human rights and is a basic component of liberalism. 

There are several broad characteristics that define liberalism that distinguish it from other doctrines and political systems (authoritarian system for example or a nation ruled by or through a religion). In the words of John Gray (born 1948 -English political philosopher and author with interests in analytic philosophy and the history of ideas) he emphasises what he believes all liberals have in common. He identifies four basic elements of a highly abstract conception of man and society which he believes liberals of all quarters adhere to, and which sets them apart from non-liberals:

“Common to all variants of the liberal tradition is a definite conception, distinctively modern in character, of man and society. What are the elements of this conception? It is individualist, in that it asserts the moral primacy of the person against the claims of any social collectivity: egalitarian, inasmuch as it confers on all men the same moral status and denies the relevance to legal or political order of differences in moral worth among human beings; universalist, affirming the moral unity of the human species and according a secondary importance to specific historic associations and cultural forms; and meliorist in its affirmation of the corrigibility and improvability of all social institutions and political arrangements. It is this conception of man and society which gives liberalism a definite identity which transcends its vast internal variety and complexity.” (Gray 1995:xii, author‟s own emphases).

Another important understanding of the meliorist tradition comes from the American Pragmatic tradition. You can read about it in the works of Lester Frank Ward, William James, and John Dewey. In James' works, however, meliorism does not pinpoint to progressivism and/or optimism. For James meliorism stands in the middle between optimism and pessimism, and treats the salvation of the world as a probability rather than a certainty or impossibility. 

Getting a copy of Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama's 'Liberalism and its Discontents' - published this month (May 2022), also provides some great definitions and context. The 'blurb' for this does not do it credit, nevertheless:

''A defence of liberalism by the renowned political philosopher.

Liberalism - the comparatively mild-mannered sibling to the more ardent camps of nationalism and socialism - has never been so divisive as today. From Putin's populism, the Trump administration and autocratic rulers in democracies the world over, it has both thrived and failed under identity politics, authoritarianism, social media and a weakened free press the world over.

Since its inception following the post-Reformation wars, liberalism has come under attack from conservatives and progressives alike, and today is dismissed by many as an 'obsolete doctrine'. In this brilliant and concise exposition, Francis Fukuyama sets out the cases for and against its classical premises: observing the rule of law, independence of judges, means over ends, and most of all, tolerance.

Pithy, to the point, and ever pertinent, this is political dissection at its very best.''

He explains how liberalism was developed to allow tolerance of others so we'd all stop killing each other in the 17th century, examines the resurgence of nationalism which focuses on excluding others and restricting the rights of some, and lead to WW's I and II, as well as defining what threatens its development and use as a protection against the machinations of autocratic governments. Law being set apart from government is also discussed, and laws, such as those that versed the Civil Rights made in 1950's- 1960-'s America. Through nonviolent protest, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s broke the pattern of public facilities' being segregated by “race” in the South and achieved the most important breakthrough in equal-rights legislation for African Americans since the Reconstruction period (1865–77).

For another, current example, the fracas happening in the USA at present about Roe versus Wade case and the Supreme Court stacked by Trump picks on the premise that they follow Republican agenda besmirches that liberalist institution's ability (the Supreme Court) to protect Americans from the politicisation of that institution, and that law in particular - which was actually won on the individuals right to privacy

In the words of ABC reporter Sarah Ferguson (Unprecedented leak could signal end of abortion rights in the United States - Wednesday May 4, 7.30 Report)

''The final decision is expected shortly. 
If it follows the arguments laid out in this extraordinary leaked draft, the stench of politics, as Justice Sotomayor predicted, will cling to the Supreme Court and calls for its reformation will surely grow stronger.''

Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (born October 27, 1952) is an American political scientist, political economist, and writer. Francis Fukuyama is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University. He has previously taught at Johns Hopkins University and George Mason University, alongside serving as a researcher at the RAND Corporation and Deputy Director for the State Department's policy planning staff. His six previous books were also published by Profile.

Marvin Gaye - What's Going On 

(Official Video 2019 - 50th anniversary edition of this song - originally published during Vietnam war protests)
What's Going On is a concept album with most of its songs segueing into the next and has been categorized as a song cycle. The narrative established by the songs is told from the point of view of a Vietnam veteran returning to his home country to witness hatred, suffering, and injustice. Gaye's introspective lyrics explore themes of drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War. He has also been credited with promoting awareness of ecological issues before the public outcry over them had become prominent (Mercy Mercy Me).

What's Going On stayed on the Billboard Top LPs for over a year and became Gaye's second number-one album on Billboard's Soul LPs chart, where it stayed for nine weeks. The title track, which had been released in January 1971 as the album's lead single, hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and held the top position on Billboard's Soul Singles chart five weeks running. The follow-up singles "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" also reached the top 10 of the Hot 100, making Gaye the first male solo artist to place three top ten singles on the Hot 100 from one album.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son

"Fortunate Son" is a song by the American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival released on their fourth studio album, Willy and the Poor Boys in November 1969. It was previously released as a single, together with "Down on the Corner", in September 1969. It soon became an anti-war movement anthem and an expressive symbol of the counterculture's opposition to U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War and solidarity with the soldiers fighting it. The song has been featured extensively in pop culture depictions of the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement.

The song reached number 14 on the United States charts on November 22, 1969, the week before Billboard changed its methodology on double-sided hits. The tracks combined to climb to number 9 the next week, on the way to peaking at number 3 three more weeks later, on 20 December 1969. It won the RIAA Gold Disc award in December 1970. Pitchfork Media placed it at number 17 on its list of "The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s". Rolling Stone placed it at number 99 on its "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list. In 2013, the song was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Helen Reddy - I Am Woman (1971)

"I Am Woman" is a song written by Australian musicians Helen Reddy and Ray Burton. Performed by Reddy, the first recording of "I Am Woman" appeared on her debut album I Don't Know How to Love Him, released in May 1971, and was heard during the closing credits for the 1972 film Stand Up and Be Counted. The song came near the apex of the counterculture era and, by celebrating female empowerment, became an enduring anthem for the women’s liberation movement. Following Reddy's death in September 2020, the song peaked at number 2 on the Australian digital sales chart.

Sting - Englishman In New York

"Englishman in New York" is a song by English singer Sting, from his second studio album ...Nothing Like the Sun, released in October 1987. Sting wrote the song about the famous eccentric and gay icon Quentin Crisp, who is the "Englishman" of the title. The song was composed not long after Crisp had moved from London to an apartment in the Bowery in Manhattan. Quentin Crisp (born Denis Charles Pratt; 25 December 1908 – 21 November 1999) was an English writer, humourist and actor.

Bob Marley - Get Up, Stand Up (Live At Munich, 1980)

Plenty of resilience, but little resistance in a new account of Australia’s Great Depression

Schoolchildren queuing for free soup and a slice of bread during the Depression, Belmore North Public School, 2 August 1934. State Library of New South Wales
Marilyn LakeThe University of Melbourne

In her latest book, Australia’s Great Depression, Joan Beaumont offers a deeply conservative history animated by the neoliberal spirit of our age.

In many ways a sequel to Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War (2014), Beaumont’s continuing national saga tells the story of a “resilient nation”, a people whose personal values of “stoicism, independence, self-reliance and personal responsibility” defined their response to the worst economic crisis of the 20th century.

Review: Australia’s Great Depression – Joan Beaumont (Allen & Unwin).

Although more than a third of workers were unemployed by 1932 and many more were immiserated, although thousands of businesses were bankrupted, homes were lost and families separated, the “narrative of disaster that has dominated popular memory” needs to be “complemented”, in Beaumont’s view, by attention to people’s “capacity for resilience”.

The architects of Jobseeker might find reassurance here. The theory of “resilience” – originally a concept developed in biological sciences, borrowed by psychologists, and since critiqued as “embedded neoliberalism” – provides Beaumont’s book with its conceptual framework and historical narrative. Australia’s Great Depression tells the story of the impact of global economic forces on hapless communities and individuals. “Their endurance and survival,” Beaumont writes, “provide one of the most impressive narratives of resilience in the nation’s history.”

The “agency” displayed by community organisations also characterised the “strategies of self-help” adopted by families – with “the tireless maternal figure at the core”. Noting that “starvation did not stalk the streets of Depression Australia”, Beaumont draws heavily on David Potts’ earlier controversial history The Myth of the Great Depression (2006) concerning the “positive culture of poverty” to conclude that people “knew how to value simpler things”.

Political Mobilisations

Beaumont is interested in family and community survival strategies, but not so much in political mobilisations animated by visions of radical change. She provides a detailed account of party politics – the warring of factions and toppling of leaders, from the 1920s into the 1930s, at state and federal levels – but the visions of a different world that sustained Aboriginal, feminist and labour movements and led to real changes in social policy are marginal to this history.

Indeed, “women”, the homeless, men forced “on the track”, Aborigines and migrants are all lumped into one section called “On the Margins” – part eight of a very long ten-part book. But as historians since E.H. Carr, at least, have pointed out, historical subjects only become “marginal” – or invisible – when historians make them so.

Beaumont’s lack of interest in feminist political mobilisation in response to the experience of the Great Depression is especially puzzling. The 1930s saw an upsurge in women’s political activism and a transformational shift away from earlier forms of maternalist politics towards a demand for equal pay and opportunity.

The oppressive experience of motherhood during the Depression, which led to an increase in abortions and maternal mortality and a decline in the birthrate – together with the relentless attacks on women in paid work – led to new demands for women’s economic equality.

“Women’s right to work,” proclaimed Victoria’s Equal Status Committee in 1935,

rests not on the number of her dependants, nor on the fact that she does or does not compete with men, but in the absolute right of a free human being, a taxpayer and a voter to economic independence.

Cover image: Victorian Women's Trust

A key figure in this transition was the great labour feminist Muriel Heagney, whose influential book Are Women Taking Men’s Jobs? (1935) shaped the resurgence of the equal pay campaign in the 1930s and the formation of the Council of Action for Equal Pay in 1937. In the 565 pages of Australia’s Great Depression, Heagney barely rates a mention, and then only in the context of community relief funds.

Other key feminist figures are simply absent. Founder of the leading organisation the United Associations of Women (UA) Jessie Street, prominent broadcaster Linda Littlejohn, birth-control advocate Ruby Rich, fierce Aboriginal rights campaigner Mary Bennett, and the five UA candidates who stood in the New South Wales 1932 election are all missing from this history.

Similarly, Aboriginal activists Pearl Gibbs and Margaret Tucker are nowhere to be found, not even “on the margins” or at the Day of Mourning in Sydney in 1938, which they helped organise alongside the men.

Demands for radical change by angry women don’t fit so easily into narrative frameworks of endurance and stoicism. In Beaumont’s history, the story of resilience trumps the power of resistance.

Aboriginal activist Pearl Gibbs is a notable omission from Beaumont’s history. Wikimedia commons

A Transnational Economic History

Global economic forces and the legacy of World War I shape Australia’s Great Depression. Beaumont’s strength is in economic history. Her account of the causes and duration of the Depression is based on wide reading. It is a marvel of synthesis, rendered more accessible by an extensive “Glossary of Terms” (53 in all, including “Bretton Woods”, “gold standard” and “loan conversion”).

It is something of an irony however that, for all Beaumont’s insistence that hers is a “national history”, its important dynamics are transnational. Indeed, the book might have been subtitled “A Transnational History”.

Part One deals with the effects of the Great War:

In every sense … the experience of the war framed the way that Australians understood and endured the later economic crisis.

Generous repatriation benefits – including the vast scheme of soldier settlement – added substantially to Australia’s burden of war debt. The promotion of the Anzac legend

served the function so critical to societal and personal resilience of investing the huge losses of World War I … with meaning.

Yet the paean to masculine heroism could also serve to intensify men’s sense of betrayal and humiliation when the promises failed, as the letters of bitter soldier settlers eloquently attested.

Part Two of Australia’s Great Depression covers the 1920s and details the economic and political effects of the dramatic fall in international commodity prices and Australia’s fate as a “voracious borrower” on British and US financial markets. It also introduces the key figure of English banker Otto Niemeyer, “who had the power to dictate a bitter deflationary medicine”. Beaumont quotes Niemeyer on Australia’s irresponsibility, tellingly casting the nation as female and in need of chastisement:

As Australia has borrowed abroad something like £200,000,000 since the date of the war loans, and has always represented her prospects and conditions in glowing terms on those occasions, it is quite ridiculous of her to suggest there is any reason why she should not pay a pittance for her prior war debts. This is an odd country full of odd people and even odder theories.

Labor Prime Minister James Scullin came to power just as the New York Stock Exchange crashed in 1929. National Library of Australia

It was Labor Prime Minister James Scullin’s bad luck to come to office in 1929 as the New York Stock Exchange crashed, presaging “the implosion of the international economic order on which Australian recovery depended”.

Niemeyer arrived in mid-1930 convinced that bitter medicine needed to be administered. He was certain that a profligate country was living beyond its means. He met with Scullin, whom he regarded as “a very decent little man” but out of his depth. He also met with the commonwealth and state treasurers.

The subsequent Melbourne Agreement enshrined his recommendations, but led to immediate political division and bitter acrimony. Labor and non-Labor states differed in their responses. In New South Wales, Labor’s Jack Lang, promised to defend the standard of living, guarantee wheat prices and fund public works. He triumphed in the state election in October 1930, but two years later he was gone, dismissed by Governor Philip Game.


The year 1930 saw a peak in male suicides. Unemployment peaked in 1932. Men seemed to suffer more than women: “the men seemed to sag … They looked more beaten than the women”, observed one contemporary.

Though masculine “humiliation” is a constant theme of Beaumont’s story – and her photograph captions – the construct of “masculinity” is notably absent from her analysis and the index. This is in sharp contrast with the histories of the Depression by the late Stuart Macintyre, for example, for whom “gender” and “labour” were key dynamics.

Arguably, masculine humiliation was more likely to lead to demands for political change, rather than reconciliation to the status quo. Indeed “masculinism”, one correspondent argued in the Sydney Morning Herald, would be Australia’s “only salvation”. Under “feminism’s shameless banner”, he proclaimed, women were stealing men’s jobs.

Beaumont attributes some of the “protest and grievance” to what she – ever the academic historian – calls “grant envy”. Complaints also focussed on the filthy camps, the appalling conditions in which men were expected to travel and undertake “relief work”, and the introduction of work for the dole. “Slave Labour for Coolie Wages” was denounced by the Communist-led Unemployed Workers’ Movement, which organised many of the protests, including against evictions.

The main value of the men’s protest was, according to Beaumont, that it gave them a sense of “agency and a voice”. Their resilience meant that they still had the ability to fight and organise.

But insisting on the story of resilience, Beaumont misses the larger significance and consequence of men’s political mobilisations. The degradation of men’s unemployment and casual labour, of “susso” and the indignity of charity handouts, fuelled visions of a new kind of welfare state for men, that would enshrine full employment as the number one public policy goal, underpinned by the introduction of a federal unemployment benefit, conceived as a citizen’s right, free of shame or stigma.

As Macintyre noted, post-war reconstruction was in fact “post-Depression reconstruction”. In the words of Minister J.J. Dedman:

To the worker, it means steady employment, the opportunity to change his employment if he wishes, and a secure prospect unmarred by the fear of idleness and the dole.

Women imagined a new life freed from the burdens of excessive child bearing and the degradation of dependence. “I populated and I perished,” recalled one survivor of the Depression. Women dreaded the birth of more children. Fear of pregnancy deepened family discord. Children became unhappy witnesses of their parents’ misery. Many daughters determined never to follow in their mothers’ footsteps. Young women sought out birth control.

“I admit to being selfish,” said one, “but there are no medals given out for unselfishness.”

The Council of Action for Equal Pay was formed in 1937. Women would first benefit from equal rates during World War II, when the Women’s Employment Board regulated the pay and conditions of women workers who entered men’s jobs. By the end of that decade, following submissions from women’s organisations, the Arbitration Court lifted the female rate from half the men’s rate – as prescribed by Justice Higgins in the Rural Workers case of 1912 – to 75% of the basic male rate.

In her Epilogue, Beaumont returns to her argument about national resilience. Democracy survived; there was no revolution. People

accommodated the humiliation of unemployment, the reduction in their standard of living.

But when we look closely, we can see that new visions of freedom were born in the experience of degradation and the knowledge of fear. In Depression dreaming, there was a new day dawning.The Conversation

Marilyn Lake, Professorial Fellow in History, The University of Melbourne

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

‘This black smoke rolling through the mulga’: almost 70 years on, it’s time to remember the atomic tests at Emu Field

A concrete plinth marking ground zero of the first Totem atomic test in South Australia in 1953. Photo: Andrew Burden
Liz TynanJames Cook University

The name Emu Field does not have the same resonance as Maralinga in Australian history. It is usually a footnote to the much larger atomic test site in South Australia. However, the weapons testing that took place in October 1953 at Emu Field, part of SA’s Woomera Prohibited Area, was at least as damaging as what came three years later at Maralinga.

The Emu Field tests, known as Operation Totem, were an uncontrolled experiment on human populations unleashing a particularly mysterious and dangerous phenomenon – known as “black mist” – which is still being debated.

Operation Totem involved two “mushroom cloud” tests, held 12 days apart, which sought to compare the differences in performance between varying proportions of isotopes of plutonium. The tests were not safe, despite assurances given at the time.

Between 1952 and 1957, Britain used three Australian sites to test 12 “mushroom cloud” bombs: the uninhabited Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast and the two South Australian sites. (An associated program of tests of various weapons components and safety measures continued at Maralinga until 1963.)

The British government, with loyal but uncomprehending support from Australia under Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies, proceeded despite incomplete knowledge of atomic weapons effects or the sites’ meteorological and geographical conditions.

A Claypan

Emu Field was chosen because of its straight, flat claypan. This natural feature drew the attention of the larrikin surveyor of outback Australia, Len Beadell, who had been charged by the Australian Department of Supply with finding a suitable site for atomic weapons tests.

Beadell ascertained that aircraft could land on the claypan, essential for a terrestrial atomic test site. What he didn’t take into account was that this claypan was in the middle of Aṉangu lands. Aboriginal people lived all around it, on stations and settlements.

Author Elizabeth Tynan looking at the Emu Field claypan. Photo Andrew Burden

The first British atomic test, Operation Hurricane, held in 1952, was a maritime test of a 25 kiloton atomic device detonated below the waterline in a ship anchored off part of the Monte Bello Islands.

Operation Totem was designed to test two much smaller devices – 9.1 and 7.1 kilotons respectively – by detonating them on steel towers in the desert.

At the time, Britain was in the process of commissioning a new reactor at Calder Hall in Cumbria (designed to make plutonium for both military and civilian uses) that would produce nuclear fuel containing more plutonium-240 than a previous reactor.

Totem was intended to test “austerity” weapons made from nuclear fuel eked out of this reactor. (Plutonium-240 can potentially make nuclear weapons unstable, in contrast to the fuel of choice for fission weapons, plutonium-239, which is more controllable.)

Totem was a “comparative” test. Its innermost technicalities are still kept secret by the British government.

A Greasy Black Mist

The two tests at Emu Field were fired at 7am, on 15 October and 27 October.

The first test, Totem I, produced a mysterious, greasy “black mist” that rolled over Aboriginal communities around Wallatinna and Mintabie, 170 kilometres to the northeast of Emu Field. The black mist directly harmed Aṉangu people. Because no data was collected at the time, it is impossible to quantify precisely, however, the anecdotal evidence suggests death and sickness occured.

View from the lookout where the British atomic test scientists watched the two Totem tests. Photo Andrew Burden

The British meteorologist, Ray Acaster, gave an account of the phenomenon, and its possible causes, in 2002:

The Black Mist was a process of mist or fog formation at or near the ground at various distances from the explosion point … Radioactive particles from the unusually high concentration in the explosion cloud falling into the mist or fog contributed to the condensation process … The radioactive particles in the mist or fog became moist and deposited as a black, sticky, and radioactive dust, particularly dangerous if taken into the body by ingestion or breathing.

The black mist was an horrific experience for all in its path. Survivors gathered at Wallatinna and Marla Bore in 1985 testified to the Royal Commission into the British Atomic Tests in Australia on its effect on individuals and communities.

Among those who testified was Lallie Lennon, who lived at Mintabie with her husband and children in 1953. After breakfast on 15 October they heard a deep rumble, followed by weird smoke that smelt of gunpowder and stuck to the trees. Lallie, her children and the others with her all got sick with diarrhoea, flu-like symptoms, rashes and sore eyes. Lallie’s skin problems were so severe, it looked like she had rolled in fire.

Another witness, the later tireless advocate for the survivors of the British atomic tests, Yami Lester, was a child at the time of Totem and lost his vision after the tests.

He recalled his experiences in testimony to the royal commission, and elsewhere. Interviewed by two London Observer journalists in a story republished in the Bulletin under the title “Forgotten victims of the ‘rolling black mist’”, he said:

I looked up south and saw this black smoke rolling through the mulga. It just came at us through the trees like a big, black mist. The old people started shouting ‘It’s a mamu’ (an evil spirit) … they dug holes in the sand dune and said ‘Get in here, you kids’. We got in and it rolled over and around us and went away.

Contaminated Planes

The second test, Totem II, took place on October 27 in completely different meteorological conditions and did not produce a black mist. Its cloud rose quickly into the atmosphere and broke up soon after. However, radioactivity from both Totem I and Totem II travelled east across the continent, crossing the coast near Townsville.

Air force crews from both Britain and Australia flew into the atomic clouds. A British Canberra aircraft with three crew aboard entered the Totem I cloud just six minutes after detonation, far earlier than any of the other cloud sampling aircraft.

The claypan at Emu Field was used as a runway during the atomic test program. Photo Andrew Burden

For a brief period the radioactivity to which they were exposed was off the scale. The aircraft was flown back to the UK, where it was found to carry extensive residual radioactive dust despite having been cleaned in Australia.

While air crew were exposed to contamination in flight, RAAF ground crew were worse affected, since they were largely unprotected and worked for hours on the contaminated planes. The risk to both air and ground crew was extensively examined by the Royal Commission.

One account by Group Captain David Colquhoun, head of RAAF operations at Emu Field, mentioned a gathering of crew in a hangar at Woomera, where a doctor ran a Geiger counter over those present.

As it reached the hip of one man, “the Geiger gave a very strong number of counts”. The young man then said he had a rag in his hip pocket he had used to wipe grease “off the union between the wing and the fuselage”. This rag was heavily contaminated.

Abrogating Responsibility

Debris at the Emu Field claypan. Photo Andrew Burden

After America’s McMahon Act of 1946 made it illegal for the US to work with other countries on atomic weaponry, a secret British Cabinet committee made the decision to conduct tests of a British bomb – but not on its own territory.

Britain explicitly abrogated all responsibility for those who lived near the Emu Fields site. Britain maintained through to the royal commission – and in years beyond – that it was not responsible for Aboriginal welfare in the face of atomic weapons tests.

The extent of the huge British atomic weapons testing program here is still largely unknown by Australians. The Australian government forced the British government to contribute to the cost of remediation of Maralinga in the mid-1990s, although Monte Bello and Emu Field were largely left untouched.

The story of Emu Field has been forgotten for nearly 70 years. Bringing it back into our national consciousness reminds us the costs of harmful political decisions are often not borne by the decision-makers but by the most powerless.

The author would like to thank Maralinga Tjarutja Council for allowing access to the Maralinga lands, including Emu Field.

The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia, by Elizabeth Tynan, has just been published by NewSouthThe Conversation

Liz Tynan, Associate professor and co-ordinator of professional development GRS, James Cook University

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

Curious Kids: what are NFTs – and why are they so expensive?

Francesc Rodriguez-TousCity, University of London

What is the purpose of making NFTs and what makes some of them so costly? – Tanvi, aged 16, Delhi, India

An NFT is a technology that proves who the owner of a digital object is. This digital object could be a song, a picture, a video, a tweet – or even a piece of digital land in an online game or virtual world. Recently, pieces of digital land in a forthcoming virtual world called Otherside sold for nearly US$6,000 (£4,791) each. What’s more, people were so keen to buy them that they also paid thousands of dollars in transaction fees.

NFT stands for non-fungible token. If something is non-fungible, this means that it cannot be replaced or exchanged for something of identical value. An example of something fungible is a current coin, such as a one pound coin, because this can be exchanged for another pound coin. It doesn’t matter which of the coins you have – you still have £1.

Something like a painting, though, is non-fungible. That particular painting only exists once. If you bought a painting, you could take that painting and hang it up in your bedroom. It would be yours – no one else would own that exact painting.

Curious Kids is a series by The Conversation that gives children the chance to have their questions about the world answered by experts. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to and make sure you include the asker’s first name, age and town or city. We won’t be able to answer every question, but we’ll do our very best.

Owning something is more tricky for digital objects, because they can be copied. For instance, if you find a picture online that you like, you can right-click it, save it in your computer, and use it as a background if you want. This is where NFTs come in.

If you bought an NFT of a digital painting from the person who made it, a record of your purchase is kept in the blockchain. The blockchain is a giant database maintained by many people in their computers, and it is almost impossible to alter. Once the blockchain keeps a record of a transaction, it’s there forever. Everyone can see that you bought the NFT – and it proves that you are the only owner of the digital painting.

High Values

Some digital objects have been bought for large sums of money. For instance, in 2021, the first tweet ever sent was sold for almost US$3 million. But why would someone pay so much money for an NFT?

First of all, most NFTs actually have a low price. We just only get to hear about them whenever there has been a record sale. It is the same with physical art. We hear about it when someone paid millions for a painting by a famous artist like Picasso, and never about all the paintings sold for much less.

Illustration of art coming out of phone screen
NFTs prove ownership of a digital object. Alongkorn Sanguansook/Shutterstock

Like physical things, the value of digital art or other digital objects depends on how much someone is willing to pay for it – and that can come down to a lot of factors.

The person buying it might think it is very beautiful or important, and so is happy to pay a lot of money for it. The person who bought the first tweet, businessman Sina Estavi, wrote about it on Twitter, saying, “This is not just a tweet! I think years later people will realise the true value of this tweet, like the Mona Lisa painting”.

The Mona Lisa, a painting by the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most famous pieces of art in the world. It hangs in the Louvre gallery in Paris, and millions of people go to see it each year.

As well as the fact that the first tweet is unique and historical, buying it is also a matter of status. Only one person in the world can say that they own the first tweet ever sent.

In A Bubble

Another reason NFTs might be so expensive is because of something economists call a bubble. We say that there is a bubble in a market when investors buy things with the main prospect of selling them shortly afterwards at a higher price. This pushes the price up.

Bubbles tend to occur whenever new technology appears. Plenty of investors come with their money after hearing about the astronomical price of a new technology, or about celebrities buying them. They buy them without fully understanding them, just attracted by the money they might be able to make by selling them on. Some people think this is what is happening with NFTs.

This is not to say that NFTs have no value: it is to say that some of the people buying them are doing so solely to obtain a profit, not because they are interested in owning an image.

Another reason NFTs might be so expensive is because of the potential they have to link with the metaverse. The metaverse is a virtual universe in which people would be represented by avatars and own digital space, like the digital land sold in the Otherside virtual world.

Smartphone pics of Bored Apes
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the leading collections of NFTs. mundissima

In the future, NFTs could be displayed in this digital space, in the same way we might hang a painting up in a physical house. It will probably also be possible to convert some of them into unique avatars that the owner can use to interact in that world. Since Otherside is owned by the same company that created a famous collection called the Bored Ape Yacht Club, maybe there will be a way in future for avatar versions of these apes and other NFTs to move around in the Otherwise metaverse.The Conversation

Francesc Rodriguez-Tous, Lecturer in Banking, City, University of London

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

Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala Marilyn moment shows how good she is at her job: being famous

Getty Images/Jeff Kravitz
Harriette RichardsThe University of Melbourne

In the course of her Met Gala attendances, Kim Kardashian has worn floral Givenchy (attending for the first time in 2013, pregnant with her first child), silver Balmain, gold Versace and latex “wet look” Thierry Mugler.

Last year, following the separation from her husband Ye (Kanye West) she wore head-to-toe black Balenciaga, an ensemble that rendered her a shadow, a silhouette, recognisable only by the familiar shape of her body.

This year, on the arm of new beau Pete Davidson, Kardashian has once again altered her body and reimagined her look. She lost 7kg in a matter of weeks and spent 14 hours bleaching her hair blonde: all to fit into a delicate, beaded Jean Louis dress, originally drawn by a young Bob Mackie and once worn by Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe Singing Happy Birthday to JFK
The dress was famously worn by Marilyn Monroe. Getty Images

This is not just any vintage gown. This is a piece of American history. Monroe wore the dress in 1962 for the 45th birthday celebrations for President John F. Kennedy, where she famously serenaded him with a sultry rendition of Happy Birthday, Mr President.

The ethics of wearing such a fragile piece of material history are one thing. The logistics required – beyond the crash diet and hair dye – are quite another.

The elaborate nature of this performance attests to Kardashian’s commitment to the event, her dedication to fashion and her desire to attract maximum attention.

Constructing An Image

Vogue reports Kardashian wore the dress for only a matter of minutes, just as she walked the red carpet.

She was ushered out of her hotel through barricades against the paparazzi, fitted into the gown by a conservationist from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum (who purchased the dress at auction in 2016 for a record US$4.8 million) in a small fitting room outside the museum, escorted up the steps by Davidson and hovering security guards, and then changed into a replica of the dress (also owned by Ripley’s) for the remainder of the party.

The interview in Vogue illustrates her reverence for Monroe, especially in that gown and at that historic event.

Monroe and Kardashian share much in common. They have recognisable bodies; famous for their sex appeal. They are petite women, 168cm and 157cm respectively. Both have been married three times. Kardashian, at 41, is just five years older than Monroe when she died, only three months after serenading the President at Madison Square Garden.

They are also vastly different. Monroe, a silver screen icon; an actor of remarkable talent. Kardashian, a reality TV star and icon of the modern celebrity age; famous for being famous.

By wearing this dress, radically (unhealthily) transforming her body into an approximation of Monroe, Kardashian attempted to reiterate their likeness.

Just as she has morphed herself into a facsimile of Cher or Naomi Campbell, or transformed her style under the tutelage of her ex-husband, Ye: Kardashian is nothing if not a fashion chameleon.

Reshaping The Nature Of Celebrity

Kardashian is also irrefutably herself. She has constructed her own form of celebrity and has fought fiercely for its legitimacy. Her inclusion on the Met Gala guest list in the first place – initially only as Kanye’s plus-one – was hard won.

So, what does it mean for this peerless contemporary celebrity to appropriate the dress, the aura, the mythology of an historical Hollywood icon?

Some commentary has suggested Kardashian would be lucky to have half the charisma, the magic of Monroe. This may be correct, yet it also somewhat misses the point.

Regardless of your thoughts about Kardashian, it is undeniable she is an astute (albeit frequently tone deaf) business woman, who has made a living from her body and her ability to modify it.

For better or worse, she has altered the nature of celebrity and, along with her sisters, has reshaped American beauty ideals.

Of course, she is also a billionaire: one of the only women in the world with the financial means and cultural capital to acquire the rights to wear such a gown – extracted from its usual home in a temperature-controlled vault.

Other commentary decried the extravagance of the Met Gala itself. These familiar dissenting voices were perhaps louder than ever this year, as the event celebrated the so-called Gilded Age in American history (1870-1900) at a moment when political, economic, environmental and health crises the world over continue to proliferate.

However, that is the joy of fashion. It reminds us that, regardless of our differences, we are all bodies wrapped in garments. So, as women’s rights are brutally peeled back across the United States, I couldn’t help but revel in the extreme extravagance for a moment and savour this elaborate celebration of an iconic American woman. The Conversation

Harriette Richards, Research Associate, Cultural Studies, The University of Melbourne

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

We’ve used a new technique to discover the brightest radio pulsar outside our own galaxy

Artist’s impression of the PSR J0523-7125 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Carl Knox, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)Author provided
Yuanming WangUniversity of SydneyDavid KaplanUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Tara MurphyUniversity of Sydney

When a star explodes and dies in a supernova, it takes on a new life of sorts.

Pulsars are the extremely rapidly rotating objects left over after massive stars have exhausted their fuel supply. They are extremely dense, with a mass similar to the Sun crammed into a region the size of Sydney.

Pulsars emit beams of radio waves from their poles. As those beams sweep across Earth, we can detect rapid pulses as often as hundreds of times per second. With this knowledge, scientists are always on the lookout for new pulsars within and outside our Milky Way galaxy.

In research published today in the Astrophysical Journal, we detail our findings on the most luminous radio pulsar ever discovered outside the Milky Way.

This pulsar, named PSR J0523-7125, is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud – one of our closest neighbouring galaxies – and is more than ten times brighter than all other radio pulsars outside the Milky Way. It may be even brighter than those within it.

Source: Youtube/NASA.

Why Wasn’t PSR J0523-7125 Discovered Before?

There are more than 3,300 radio pulsars known. Of these, 99% reside within our galaxy. Many were discovered with CSIRO’s famous Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, in New South Wales.

About 30 radio pulsars have been found outside our galaxy, in the Magellanic Clouds. So far we don’t know of any in more distant galaxies.

Astronomers search for pulsars by looking for their distinctive repeating signals in radio telescope data. This is a computationally intensive task. It works most of the time, but this method can sometimes fail if the pulsar is unusual: such as very fast, very slow, or (in this case) if the pulse is very wide.

A very wide pulse reduces the signature “flickering” astronomers look for, and can make the pulsar harder to find. We now know PSR J0523-7125 has an extremely wide beam, and thus escaped detection.

The Large Magellanic Cloud has been explored by the Parkes telescope several times over the past 50 years, and yet this pulsar had never been spotted. So how were we able to find it?

An Unusual Object Emerges In ASKAP Data

Pulsar beams can be highly circularly polarised, which means the electric field of light waves rotate in a circular motion as the waves travel through space.

Such circularly polarised signals are very rare, and usually only emitted from objects with very strong magnetic fields, such as pulsars or dwarf stars.

We wanted to pinpoint unusual pulsars that are hard to identify with traditional methods, so we set out to find them by specifically detecting circularly polarised signals.

Our eyes can’t distinguish between polarised and unpolarised light. But the ASKAP radio telescope, owned and operated by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, has the equivalent of polarised sunglasses that can recognise circularly polarised events.

When looking at data from our ASKAP Variables and Slow Transients (VAST) survey, an undergraduate student noticed a circular polarised object near the centre of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Moreover, this object changed brightness over the course of several months: another very unusual property that made it unique.

This was unexpected and exciting, since there was no known pulsar or dwarf star at this position. We figured the object must be something new. We observed it with many different telescopes, at different wavelengths, to try and solve the mystery.

Apart from the Parkes (Murriyang) telescope, we used the space-based Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory (to observe it at X-ray wavelengths) and the Gemini telescope in Chile (to observe it at infrared wavelengths). Yet we detected nothing.

The object couldn’t be a star, as stars would be visible in optical and infrared light. It was unlikely to be a normal pulsar, as the pulses would have been detected by Parkes. Even the Gemini telescope didn’t provide an answer.

Ultimately we turned to the new, highly sensitive MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, owned and operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory. Observations with MeerKAT revealed the source is indeed a new pulsar, PSR J0523-7125, spinning at a rate of about three rotations per second.

Below you can see the MeerKAT image of the pulsar with polarised “sunglasses” on (left) and off (right). If you move the slider, you’ll notice PSR J0523-7125 is the only bright object when the glasses are on.

Our analysis also confirmed its location within the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160,000 light years away. We were surprised to find PSR J0523-7125 is more than ten times brighter than all other pulsars in that galaxy, and possibly the brightest pulsar ever found.

What New Telescopes Can Do

The discovery of PSR J0523-7125 demonstrates our ability to find “missing” pulsars using this new technique.

By combining this method with ASKAP’s and MeerKAT’s capabilities, we should be able to discover other types of extreme pulsars – and maybe even other unknown objects that are hard to explain.

Extreme pulsars are one of the missing pieces in the vast picture of the pulsar population. We’ll need to find more of them before we can truly understand pulsars within the framework of modern physics.

This discovery is just the beginning. ASKAP has now finished its pilot surveys and is expected to launch into full operational capacity later this year. This will pave the way for even more discoveries, when the global SKA (square kilometre array) telescope network starts observing in the not too distant future.

Akncowledgement: We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site where ASKAP is located, and the Wiradjuri people as the traditional owners of the Parkes Observatory.The Conversation

Yuanming Wang, PhD student, University of SydneyDavid Kaplan, Professor of Physics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Tara Murphy, Professor, University of Sydney

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

Australia should have a universal basic income for artists. Here’s what that could look like

Frankie Cordoba/Unsplash
Jo CaustThe University of Melbourne

While artists struggle to get noticed in the Australian political arena, particularly in the lead up to an election, other nations take their artists more seriously – even seeing them as critical to a successful and vibrant community.

When I talked to artists during the pandemic, it became evident they needed four conditions in place to be able to practice successfully as artists: a regular income, a place to do their work, capacity to do their work and validation of their work.

Without these conditions, productivity and mental health suffer.

The Republic of Ireland has recently instituted a new scheme to provide three-year support for up to 2,000 individual artists, piloting a form of universal basic income.

Artists will be expected to meet at least two out of three qualifying terms to apply for the scheme: have earned an income from the arts, have an existing body of work and/or be members of a recognised arts body, such as a trade union.

Successful artists and creative workers will be given a weekly income of €325 (A$479), and be able to earn additional money without this basic income being affected.

The Irish Minister for the Arts Catherine Martin hopes this first model can be broadened to include all practising Irish artists in the future.

She sees it as a simple and economic method to protect artists from precarious existences while benefiting the community as whole.

International Support For Artists

The Irish scheme for a universal basic income for artists isn’t the only model.

In the US, several states and private foundations have developed schemes to provide direct support to artists as an outcome of the pandemic.

In May 2021, the City of New York paid 3,000 artists no-strings-attached grants of US$5,000 (A$7,080). Additional grants were provided for public art works, exhibitions, workshops and showcase events.

A man paints
The City of New York gave artists no-strings-attached grants: giving them time to create work. Flow Clark/Unsplash

In June 2021, the philanthropic Mellon Foundation announced a new program called Creatives Rebuild New York to provide 2,400 New York artists with a guaranteed monthly income of US$1,000 (A$1,415) for 18 months.

The program employed another 300 artists and creative workers on an annual salary of US$65,000 (A$92,000) to work in collaboration with community organisations and local authorities for two years. They will also receive other benefits and dedicated time to work on their artistic practice. Both these programs were designed by artists.

The city of San Francisco provided US$1,000 per month for 130 local artists for six months from mid-2021. Thanks to philanthropic support from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, the scheme expanded to support 180 artists for 18 months.

The city of St Paul in Minnesota, with a population of just over 300,000, has initiated a program to give 25 artists a guaranteed unrestricted income of US$500 (A$708) per month for a period of 18 months.

Closer to home, the House of the Arts (HOTA) on the Gold Coast recognised the economic dilemma of local artists during the pandemic.

In 2021, they employed four artists to work three days a week for six months on their own creative projects at HOTA. They were given a regular salary, a studio to work in, and were invited to participate in the organisational planning of HOTA.

Could We Recreate This In Australia?

In Australia, some artists were eligible for schemes like JobKeeper and JobSeeker during 2020 and into early 2021, which could provide a model for how to support artists with a basic income going forward.

But in 2020-21 the Australia Council only funded 584 individual artists, a drop of nearly 50% since 2012-13.

Ireland’s three-year pilot program for artists will cost the government around €25 million (A$37 million). With a population about a fifth of Australia’s, a similar scheme applied here using the same ratio could provide funding to 10,000 individual artists at a cost of A$185 million over three years.

This would be a drop in the ocean for the Australian federal budget, but it could be a game changer for the community, the arts and artists.

A universal basic income provides a regular amount of money that allows the individual to live above the breadline. It can transform an individual’s life while having a positive impact on the whole of society.

Schemes that provide an ongoing income to individual artists – such as royalty schemes, lending rights and long-term leasing of artwork by government bodies and corporations – are all important, but the amounts received from them for the majority of artists are usually quite limited.

A woman dancing
An Australian model could support 10,000 artists at a cost of $185 million over three years. Carolin Thiergart/Unsplash

Just imagine if every Australian arts centre, library, school, university, hospital, local council and government department employed an artist in residence. The artist gets an income while the institution gets an extraordinary input of ideas and imagination that can transform their environment.

We need to stop patronising our artists by giving them tiny grants and making them go through endless hoops and form filling to gratefully receive them.

Artists are essential to our community. It is time to demonstrate – like Ireland and New York – the success of our artists reflects our healthy and vibrant nation, and pay them accordingly.The Conversation

Jo Caust, Associate Professor and Principal Fellow (Hon), School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne

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

First Nations poet Evelyn Araluen wins the 2022 Stella Prize with a ‘wild ride’ skewering colonial mythologies

Evelyn Araluen. Stuart Spence/Stella Prize
Camilla NelsonUniversity of Notre Dame Australia

First Nations poet Evelyn Araluen has won the 10th annual Stella Prize with a debut poetry collection that confronts the cultural evasions of an unreconciled Australia with a tender fury.

Australian poetics is the target of Araluen’s dark satire in Dropbear. Her poetry deftly dismantles the literary mythos that conjures the Australian landscape as ghostly, haunted and empty, or else reproduces it as a cultural commodity in the guise of “Australiana” kitsch.

In either case, this mythos does violence by refusing to acknowledge the living presence of Aboriginal people, of Aboriginal lands and their custodians, or else by conjuring up hollow tokens of Aboriginal presence in a variety of gaudy, empty or shell-like forms. Both are acts of silencing.

A descendant of the Bundjalung nation, born and raised on Dharug Country, Araluen is co-editor of Overland literary journal. Her criticism and poetry has won the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers and the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, among other awards.

The chair of the Stella judging panel, award winning Bundjalung author Melissa Lucashenko, described Dropbear as a “wild ride” that is both “comical and dangerous” – just like the legendary predatory marsupial after which the collection is named. (This creature, of urban myth, is said to kill unwary prey by dropping on their heads out of bush canopies.)

The judges described the winning book as:

a breathtaking collection of poetry and short prose which arrests key icons of mainstream Australian culture and turns them inside out, with malice aforethought. Araluen’s brilliance sizzles when she goes on the attack against the kitsch and the cuddly: against Australia’s fantasy of its own racial and environmental innocence.

Taking Aim At Australiana

Dropbear is both deeply funny and deadly serious.

Araluen indicts the “ghost gums” that proliferate across literary landscapes in regions far beyond their natural habitat. She takes aim at the iconography of Australian childhood, including May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Dorothy Wall’s Blinky Bill, and Ethel Pedley’s Dot and the Kangaroo.

Each is artfully unravelled to expose the racial mythologies that pervade and are perpetuated by these popular childhood texts.

It is easy to skate along the seductive surface of Araluen’s poems, swept along by the rhythms of language and dancing images. Take “Dropbear Poetics”, for example, which condemns the ironic consumption of Australiana kitsch by pseudo-revolutionaries with their “fucking postmod blinky bill” and “gollywog ashtray snugglepot”.

In Dropbear, Evelyn Araluen unravels the mythos of Australian kitsch. Wikimedia commons

Or “Bad Taxidermy”, a tour de force of cuddly kitsch, in which the reader encounters images of “Kylie Minogue in hotpants and a hot pink koala knit” that generates a “bidding war on eBay”, alongside an “Instagram ad for Australian Native Birthflower charms”, a Tasmanian Devil with a “faintly otter-like lift of his small dark paws on the acrylic shelf”, and a “lungfish nailed to a birch board”.

None of this is innocent. For non-Aboriginal readers, these cultural commodities may present themselves as an ironic coming to terms with Australian identity. They may appear to offer a paradoxical way of being at home in an alien landscape, a supposed resolution of guilt, cringe and crisis. But for Aboriginal people they are part of an ongoing invasion – a reinvented colonial mythos that appropriates and silences the history, culture and languages of First Nations people.

In Araluen’s poems, these cultural commodities are not being ironically replayed but clinically dissected, and shredded. “Bad Taxidermy” finds Araluen shouting at “the man laughing in the anthropology museum” and “Angling my reflection out of photos of cabinets with drawings of my ancestors rubbing sticks”.

But there is also love, warmth and care in this collection, in its evocations of family and in tender poems for the things, places, experiences and peoples that have been “erased, exploited or violated in the short but haunted history of Australian literature”.

Dropbear reaches down into everyday lived experience, in essays such as “To the Parents” and the poem “Moving Day”, a reverie on the meaning of moving home when home has been stolen or destroyed.

Dropbear offers a poetics of resistance. It is, as Lucashenko points out, “a playful beast, a prank, a riddle, a challenge, and a game”. But like the mythical creature for which the collection is named, it is not gentle and can be “dangerous”. It offers no easy or cosy reconciliation with history.

Read this collection, and it may change the way you see. Or else, as Lucashenko says, “If you live here and don’t acquire the necessary local knowledge, the dropbear might definitely getcha!”The Conversation

Camilla Nelson, Associate Professor in Media, University of Notre Dame Australia

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

Judith Wright, an activist poet who was ahead of her time

Wikimedia Commons/National Library of Australia
Tony Hughes-d'AethThe University of Western Australia

Judith Wright is a giant of Australian letters. Though most famous as a poet, she was also a very fine writer in prose, and it is this dimension of her writing that is brought to life in a new selection of her non-fiction.

Review: Judith Wright: Selected Writings, edited by Georgina Arnott (La Trobe University Press).

The works have been selected and introduced by Georgina Arnott, author of The Unknown Judith Wright (2016). Arnott draws on essays published by Wright during her lifetime in the collections Because I Was Invited (1975), Going on Talking (1991) and Born of the Conquerors (1991).

She provides excerpts from key monographs written by Wright – namely, her sensitive study of Henry Lawson (1967), the pioneer history Generations of Men (1959) and the revision of this history The Cry for the Dead (1981), the great activist accounts The Coral Battleground (1977) and We Call for a Treaty (1985), and Wright’s autobiography Half a Lifetime (1999).

Arnott has also gone beyond these sources to provide a fuller picture of Wright’s prose writing than had previously existed.

A Visionary Charge

Judith Wright shot to prominence in the post-war years as the author of some of Australia’s most iconic poems. Her first collection The Moving Image (1946), published when she was 31 years old, remains one of the landmark Australian literary works of the last century.

Across its 20 devastating poems, each line still has the capacity to grab the reader by the scruff of the neck. Poems like “Bullocky”, “Dust”, “Bora Ring” and “Nigger’s Leap, New England”, despite being endlessly anthologised and drummed into generations of school children, still carry a visionary charge.

For the next 20 years, Wright’s poetry emerged at the rate of roughly a volume a year and showed considerable formal and thematic range – poems about motherhood, about birds, about the nature of time and the cosmos. But during the 1960s, her career changed course. It swung decisively in the direction of activism, particularly toward conservation causes.

By the end of her life, cultural historian Tim Bonyhady concludes that, as great a poet as Wright was, she was a yet greater activist and her fullest legacy lies in her contribution to the causes she pursued with a unique eloquence. Reading her prose works, one feels the force of her intellect, but also the presence of something more, a profound capacity to understand the world.

The Double Consciousness Of The Colonial Poet

The volume’s earliest writings, from the late 1940s, are works of literary criticism. These culminated in Preoccupations in Australian Poetry (1965). The thesis advanced in that book was that Australian poetry (the poetry of the coloniser) is beset by a double consciousness, born of foundational exile.

Arnott’s collection now lets us see the seed of this thought in a contribution called “Perspective” that Wright made to the Jindyworobak Review in 1948:

So, a kind of split in the writer’s consciousness is often manifest; he cannot solve his immediate problem, he cannot keep attention concentrated on the foreground, while his background keeps intruding.

This image of an intrusive “background” that will not let current ambition have its way, exactly presages the subversion of Wright’s literary career by the burning issues of Australia’s situation.

Most particularly, in the “background” of Australian colonisation, beneath the nationalist and pioneering myths, is the wanton and seemingly inexorable destruction of the natural world and the violent dispossession of Indigenous people, ruthlessly robbed of their lands, languages, resources, cultures and, in many instances, their very right to exist.

What marks out Wright’s greatness is her surrender to the ethical demands of this “background”.

Of course, for those on the other side of Australian colonisation, this was no background, but the brutal stripping away of their entire way of life. It is this calling, what Wright would later term the “cry of the dead”, that provides a kind of narrative through his collection

Judith Wright, c.1940. National Library of Australia

A Master Of Devastating Understatement

It is important to emphasise the sheer pleasure of reading Wright’s work. She is a gifted prose writer. Never showy, she is instead a master of devastating understatement. She writes aphoristically, but often you do not notice the aphorisms, because they spill out gently and without the showman’s characteristic pause for effect.

Her irritation almost never comes to the surface, but on occasion she takes the briefest moment to set certain presumptions back in their place. “To sentimentalise women is to despise them,” she writes in “Women Writers in Society”.

In a later essay, “Transcending Womanliness”, she begins by quoting the words of Vincent Buckley from the 1950s:

When [Wright] is content to be a woman, enduring the profound incident of woman’s life, she is able, paradoxically enough, to transcend her womanliness and be a very fine poet. When she attempts to be not a woman, but a bard, commentator or prophet, she becomes a bit of a shrew – which is the worst and most unwomanly of things that a woman may become.

That Buckley, a not insensitive poet, could blithely call someone of Wright’s stature a shrew is a reminder of what it was like for women who dared to write. The deep dignity of Wright makes this easy to forget, but she did not have the luxury of setting this matter aside entirely.

One sees traces of the stultifying sense of “culture” in the immediate post-war years in Wright’s earliest literary criticism. She was not averse to a certain Olympian coolness that was the keynote of mid 20th century Anglo-American literary criticism. Her review of Verse in Australia (1960) affects bemusement at the new speaking registers appearing in contemporary poetry. She finds in the work of younger poets, a poetry that “was conducted on an oddly conversational level”.

What is significant, though, is not this cultural moment, but what happens to Wright in the years just after this. Many of her contemporaries, including Buckley, doubled down on Leavisite prescriptions grounded in a Great Tradition, but Wright opened herself to the world. As a publisher’s reader at Jacaranda Press, she promoted the manuscript of a book of poems that would become We Are Going (1964) by Kath Walker (later Oodgeroo Noonuccal).

Oodgeroo’s volume was the first published book of poetry by an Indigenous Australian. It was dismissed by literary critics, who had their standards, but remained deaf to the call of history.

Lance Corporal Kathleen Walker, later Oodgeroo Noonuccal, photographed in 1942. Her groundbreaking poetry was championed by Judith Wright. Public domain

Wright, however, immediately grasped the significance of Oodgeroo’s work, and if one looks at Wright’s life – which is what this collection affords – one sees moments like this time and again: moments that show Wright to be often decades ahead of her fellows.

Her essay, “The Koori Voice: A New Literature” (1973), is startlingly early in its appreciation of Indigenous writing in Australia. It shows how laggard others were to see what was staring them in the face. While other critics could only grimace at what they deemed a childlike earnestness in the poems of Oodgeroo and Jack Davis, Wright was able to calmly see the radical significance of the new Aboriginal writing.

Environmental Activism

It is a similar story with Wright’s apprehension of the environment.

Certainly, there were environmental voices prior to Wright. Elyne Mitchell’s Soil and Civilisation (1946), an impassioned plea for improved soil conservation, appeared in the same year as Wright’s The Moving Image. Yet Wright was one of the first to mobilise the newly globalised sense of the environment that reached a point of inflexion with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962).

A pair of bilbies in the Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary, NSW. Wright was at the front line of some of Australia’s first major conservation campaigns. AAP Image/Supplied by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Wayne Lawler

In 1962, Wright was one of the founders of The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. In 1964, the same year that Oodgeroo’s We Are Going was published, Wright became its president, a role she would serve until 1976. It was this role that took her to the front line of some of Australia’s first major conservation campaigns.

With this collection of Wright’s work, one is able to watch her thought moving with persistent acuity through moments of epiphany and revolution. The steadiness of her voice can sometimes disguise the radical shifts in her thinking as she reconceives the basic coordinates of literature, environment, settler history and Indigenous reconciliation.

As well as being an activist, Wright was a crucial witness to the actions she undertook. Some years ago, I had occasion to read her book We Call for a Treaty (1985), which traced the work of the Aboriginal Treaty Committee, on which she served from 1979 to 1984. Expecting a fairly dry account of the committee’s work, I was struck by how crisply the tale was told, how deftly it set the scene, how lucidly the problems were rendered. In fact, I found the book utterly riveting.

Editor Georgina Arnott has provided a fuller picture of Judith Wright’s prose writing than previously existed. Black Inc.

Among her other virtues, Wright’s expository prowess deserves more than a passing mention. On every page of this new collection, and across a multitude of topics, Wright’s writing voice never falters – the clarifying poise of her phrasing, her unerring eye for the telling detail and the timeliness of her counterpoints.

For me, though, and this may well be a matter of personal taste, I was most won over by Wright’s environmental writing. In particular, the triumvirate of essays that follow in quick succession in this collection, “Conservation as a Concept” (1968), “Our Vanishing Chances” (1972) and “Conservation: Choice or Compulsion” (1975) left me breathless with their scope and clarity of vision.

What these essays carry is not only Wright’s trademark erudition, and her acute sense of the fatal interplay of historical forces, but the grain of life lived in the service of environmental struggle – the day-to-day praxis of fighting to save things.

A Path Of Repair

And by things, we must say without hyperbole, the world. For what is Fraser Island, what is the Great Barrier Reef, if not the world in its substance?

Wright’s vision seemed to directly repudiate the instrumental logic that relentlessly removed life from the world under the euphemism of selective appropriation. Mining the sand from Fraser Island is not just the selective removal of a resource: it destroys the world.

Wright begins “Conservation: Choice or Compulsion” with these remarks:

Until very recently, most Australians felt that they were in possession of a virtually unlimited country whose only problems were those of “development”, “progress” and population. This unexamined attitude has coloured the whole of Australian settlement, and still rules the thinking of many people. The older generation, brought up in times when it seemed true, still thinks and acts in such terms; and our whole legislative, economic system is based on it. It might be called the Australian Myth, and an accepted social mythology is very hard to change even when facts emerge to contradict it.

An aerial image of a fire on K'gari (Fraser Island) captured on Monday 30 November 2020. QFES/AAP

This essay goes on to provide an unblinking account of Australian environmental failure, and how ecological destruction is wired into the basic circuitry of the nation. She is under no illusion about the difficulty of change:

The sweeping changes needed to cope with such a radically new position [i.e. “that we are coming hard up against certain limits”] are difficult enough to make any planning and implementation of them both unpopular and highly delicate from a political point of view.

Though I knew many of the more famous essays in this collection, there were many I had never seen. One of the essays that had slipped beneath my notice was “Australia – Landscape Ancient and Modern”, which was published in the collection Australia Fair? (1984).

In this essay, Wright takes the reader around the continent of Australia, effortlessly offering up its geological and environmental history, floating like a kind of spirit through the diverse biomes of this unique land.

Under her pen, Australia, not as nationalist unity, but as an assemblage of lifeworlds, starts to pulse and come alive. At such moments, this collection brings this great writer back to us.

The collection ends with more intimate writings, including examples from Wright’s letters. A central part of her genius is that she never forgets where she comes from. Her most important thinking can be traced to her upbringing within her family’s pastoral empire.

Raised in the bosom of New England squattocracy, Wright was able to see firmly what everyone else was trying desperately and constantly to forget. Prising herself from the self-exculpatory myths of a pioneering family set her on a path to see the world for what it is.

The recognition that she was “born of the conquerors” was something Wright met with decisive courage. Her instinct was never to wring her hands or offer empty platitudes, but to set out a path of repair.The Conversation

Tony Hughes-d'Aeth, Professor, The University of Western Australia

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

Peak Towers Certifier In China At Time Of Final Inspection

May 1, 2022
A NSW Fair Trading investigation has revealed that notorious building certifier Maurice Freixas contravened state planning laws when he issued dodgy construction and occupation certificates (OC) for the Peak Towers apartments.

Mr Freixas had already been issued with a lifetime ban by NSW Fair Trading, but further investigations that reviewed Border Force and mobile phone records reveal that he was in China when he claimed to have carried out the final inspection at Peak Towers.

NSW Fair Trading Minister Eleni Petinos said investigators found Maurice Freixas, formerly of Dix Gardner, failed to carry out the statutorily required final inspection of the completed building before issuing a June 2019 occupation certificate on 108 units, worth $22 million.

“We’ve issued a lifetime ban to Mr Freixas and this should serve as a stern warning to any unscrupulous certifier that you will be met with the full force of the law,” Ms Petinos said.

“The legislation is clear, a certifier must carry out a full and proper final inspection of a building. This is something that cannot be done from overseas.

“Certification work is a crucially important function with potential impacts on public safety and all certifiers must carry out their work to the highest standard or they will face severe consequences.”

Other failings were also found to exist in the certifier’s sign-off of four other buildings where construction certifications were issued where the buildings would not comply with relevant requirements of the Building Code of Australia.

Mr Freixas is now the third private certifier from Dix Gardner to have their registration cancelled following investigations by state regulators. Dix Gardner can no longer offer certification services in NSW.   

Anyone with complaints is encouraged to contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or visit the NSW Fair Trading website

Electric Vehicles Break The Barrier In NSW

May 2, 2022
Electric vehicles will now be able to make the drive from Sydney all the way to Broken Hill, after the final piece of the network of fast chargers along the Barrier Highway was switched on.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the chargers at Wilcannia and Cobar formed part of the 20 sites rolling out across the regions under a $3 million partnership between the NSW Government and the NRMA to deliver the country’s biggest network of EV charging stations.

“Now that we’ve rolled out the final chargers along the Barrier Highway, located at Wilcannnia, Cobar, Dubbo, Parkes, Orange and Lithgow, it means drivers travel no more than 300 kilometres to recharge their vehicles when making the 1000-kilometre journey between Sydney and Broken Hill,” Mr Toole said.

“These charging stations are transforming the way EV drivers move around, helping to support tourism in regional centres along the Barrier, New England, Sturt, Hume, Newell and Kamilaroi highways.

“And once we roll out our network by 2023, most EV drivers will be no more than 150 kilometres from an EV charging station, allowing people to travel to Broken Hill, Moree and Bourke, and to link up with major routes in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.”

Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean said the Barrier Highway network completion would open up opportunities for EV drivers to visit regional NSW.

“Rolling out chargers across NSW will ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of electric vehicles,” Mr Kean said.

“Under the State’s EV strategy, the NSW Government is co-investing a further $171 million in charging infrastructure so drivers can be confident they can drive their EVs whenever and wherever they want to.”

Minister for Regional Transport Sam Farraway said completing the charging network across the more than 1150-kilometre journey is an important milestone for regional NSW.

“The completion of this route will help cater for the increasing take-up of electric vehicles across the state and the NSW Government will continue to roll out the necessary infrastructure for their take-up,” Mr Farraway said.

“Not only is this a win for EV drivers across the Barrier Highway, but it will also open up the region to more tourists and more travel.

“These fast chargers can charge a vehicle in 30 minutes and are located in the heart of each town to allow visitors to get out and explore, spending money in local shops and picking up a coffee or meal that will support the local economy.

“The charger at Wilcannia will have symbolic meaning for the area, with the units  decorated with artwork painted by Indigenous artist Eddy Harris, who was born and raised in Wilcannia, to represent the river and fish that are so important to the region.”

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders says the fast chargers are a game changer which will make the regions more accessible to all.

“The charging network will bring more motor traffic and therefore more visitors to our amazing regional communities”, Mr Saunders said.

“Increasing the range of the EV network is great way technology is opening up the bush to the city to really put these towns on the map.”

NRMA Head of Electric Vehicle Charging & Partnerships Suzana Barbir said the unveiling of the Wilcannia and Cobar chargers would open up the region to visitors and give more choice to local residents looking to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“Electric Vehicles are the future of motoring in Australia and the NRMA is committed to making the transition to electric vehicles smooth and beneficial for our members and all Australian motorists.

Cobar Shire Council Mayor Peter Abbott said it was exciting to be turning on the final charger along the Barrier Highway.

“The charging station in Cobar will ensure that electric vehicles can be catered for as they visit Cobar and our outback,” Mr Abbott said.

Transport for NSW and the NRMA are providing chargers for other routes that will connect NSW with Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Hydroponic Plants To Detox PFAS-Contaminated Water

May 2, 2022
New research from the University of South Australia is helping to remediate the 'indestructible' PFASs as scientists show that Australian native plants can significantly remediate PFAS pollutants through floating wetlands to create healthier environments for all.

Conducted in partnership with CSIRO and the University of Western Australia, the research found that PFAS chemicals (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) can be removed from contaminated water via Australian native rushes -- Phragmites australis, Baumea articulata, and Juncus kraussii.

Phragmites australis, otherwise known as the common reed, removed legacy PFAS contaminants by 42-53 per cent from contaminated surface water (level: 10 µg/L).

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to PFAS may lead to a range of health issues including a decline in fertility, developmental delays in children, increased risk of some cancers, a reduced immune system, higher cholesterol, and risk of obesity.

UniSA and CSIRO researcher Dr John Awad says that this research could alleviate many of these environmental and health risks by providing a clean, green, and cost-effective method to remove PFAS from the environment.

"PFASs are often referred to as 'forever chemicals' because they don't break down, instead accumulating in the environment and in our bodies where they can cause adverse health effects," Dr Awad says.

"In Australia, PFAS concerns often relate to the use of firefighting foam -- especially legacy firefighting foam -- which accumulates in the surface water of our waterways.

"Our research tested the effectiveness of Australian rushes to remove PFAS chemicals from stormwater, finding that Phragmites australiswas the most effective at absorbing chemicals through its roots and shoots."

The study used constructed floating wetlands as a mechanism for plants to grow hydroponically. Dr Awad says floating wetlands present a novel and flexible way for natural remediation systems.

"Constructed floating wetlands can be readily installed into existing urban environments, such as holding reservoirs and retention basins, making them highly manoeuvrable and adaptable to local waterways," Dr Awad says.

"Plus, as this innovative water treatment system does not require pumping or the ongoing addition of chemicals, it is a cost-effective remediation system for PFAS removal.

"Add native plants to the mix and we have delivered a truly clean, green and environmentally-friendly method for removing toxic PFAS chemicals from contaminated water."

So far, the floating wetlands system has only been examined under control laboratory conditions for PFAS remediation and the research team is looking forward to testing it in the real world, under natural conditions.

This research is being carried out at the UniSA Mawson Lakes campus. PFAS has not been detected in or around Mawson lakes.

John Awad, Gianluca Brunetti, Albert Juhasz, Mike Williams, Divina Navarro, Barbara Drigo, Jeremy Bougoure, Joanne Vanderzalm, Simon Beecham. Application of native plants in constructed floating wetlands as a passive remediation approach for PFAS-impacted surface water. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2022; 429: 128326 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.128326

Could Exercise Counteract Cardiotoxic Chemotherapy For Women With Breast Cancer?

When you’re a breast cancer survivor, the last thing you need is another health scare. So, it’s concerning to know that up to 48 per cent of breast cancer patients will go on to fight heart disease as a direct result of chemotherapy.

Now, new research from the University of South Australia is exploring how to mitigate the irreversible damage associated with cardiotoxic chemotherapies and protect the heart from damage.

Conducted by UniSA PhD candidate James Murray with UniSA’s Dr Rebecca Perry, Professor Eva Bezak and Dr Hunter Bennett, the multi-disciplinary study is assessing the impact of exercise on preventing cardiac damage and dysfunction while reducing other well-known side-effects of chemotherapy.

In Australia, more than 17,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Globally, these cases reach more than 2.3 million women, and 685 000 deaths. It is estimated that a woman has a one in 52 (1.9 per cent) risk of dying from breast cancer by age 85.

Murray says the study could change the fundamental care model for breast cancer patients.

“Chemotherapy for breast cancer is associated with many side-effects including fatigue, nausea, pain, depression and anxiety. But it’s also known to increase the risk of heart disease, leading to heart failure, heart muscle damage and arrythmias, all of which significantly impact functional capacity and quality of life,” Murray says.

“Understandably, chemotherapy patients often have little energy or desire to exercise. In fact, our research already shows that many women undergoing chemotherapy are fearful of doing exercise because they worry that it will further stress their bodies while already weakened by chemo.

“Yet as exercise is known to improve many side-effects of chemotherapy ­- as well as improve health more generally - it stands to reason that it may also be a protective factor for the heart. And we are keen to see how healthy interventions can prevent negative effects of chemotherapy.

“In this study, we’re investigating how structured exercise can improve heart function in women who are undergoing chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.

“So, rather than using lifelong medical interventions to manage chemotherapy-associated complications, we’re hoping that exercise could be a preventative intervention for cardiotoxic chemotherapy, with the added bonus of improving traditional side effects of cancer treatment such as fatigue.”

The current exercise study is still seeking participants. If you would like to know more, please visit:

Lost Value Of Landfilled Plastic In US

May 3, 2022
With mountains of plastic waste piling up in landfills and scientists estimating that there will be more plastics by weight than fish in the ocean by 2050, the growing environmental challenge presented to the world by plastics is well understood. What is less well understood by the scientific community is the lost energy opportunity. In short, plastic waste is also energy wasted.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) calculated the energy value of landfilled plastic waste in 2019 was enough to supply 5% of the power used by the country's transportation sector, or 5.5% by the industrial sector.

They also provided a look at how much plastic waste has been deposited in landfills, on a regional, state, and county level, and the problem is bigger than previously believed. NREL estimates the amount of plastic waste in the United States is 44 million metric tons. Using a slightly different methodology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts the figure at 32.2 million metric tons.

"For us to tackle plastic waste pollution, we really need to understand better where those resources are," said Anelia Milbrandt, a senior research analyst at NREL and co-author of a new paper, "Quantification and evaluation of plastic waste in the United States," published in the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling. "We would like to bring awareness to communities about the potential for these materials."

Her NREL co-authors are Kamyria Coney, Alex Badgett, and Gregg Beckham. A senior research fellow, Beckham heads the BOTTLE Consortium, a collaborative launched last year in an effort to address the waste-plastics problem.

By identifying areas with large quantities of plastic waste, the scientists are hoping to highlight the economic opportunities that could arise by recovering their value through different processes. Only about 5% of the waste plastic in the United States was recycled in 2019, while 86% was left in landfills. The rest was burned to generate electricity.

NREL's analysis of the discarded plastics examined seven materials -- variously used to make bottles, CDs, milk jugs, take-out containers, and bags, among other items. Communities across the country spent about $2.3 billion on plastic waste disposal in 2019.

The researchers noted the amount of landfilled plastic waste in the United States has been increasing because of several factors, including low recycling rates, population growth, consumer preference for single-use plastics, and low disposal fees in certain parts of the country. The problem has been exacerbated by China's refusal beginning in 2017 to import nonindustrial plastic waste from the United States.

Developing new recycling techniques for plastics would create incentives for a circular economy, where what once was discarded would be reused instead of virgin plastics. The market value of landfilled plastic ranges from $4.5 billion to $9.9 billion, or $7.2 billion on average, the researchers estimated. The embodied energy in the waste plastic -- an indicator of how much energy it took to manufacture the materials -- equates to about 12% of the country's energy consumption by the industrial sector.

Some types of plastic are separated and recycled, chiefly polyethylene terephthalate (commonly known as PET), used to make soda bottles; and high-density polyethylene, used for milk jugs and shampoo bottles, but these still represent a significant percentage of plastics found in landfills.

The filmy plastic used for bags is among the most prevalent type found in landfills.

The researchers pointed out two possible solutions for the plastics not being recycled: Develop new products that rely on these plastics to encourage their sorting and collection, and develop advanced sorting technologies that could eventually lead to increased use of recycled materials.

"I'm hoping this paper also increases awareness for industry and investors to look for opportunities," Milbrandt said.

The amount of plastic waste correlates with population size. California, Texas, and Florida are the three most populous states and also have the largest amount of landfilled plastic waste. New York, however, is fourth for population, but it ships much of its waste outside of the state.

"Plastic waste is not just an environmental issue. It's a waste management issue. It's also a land use issue because landfills are closing in many areas," Milbrandt said. "What do we do with all that waste? It has to go somewhere. I believe local governments and industry developers will see a benefit of this report by providing them information to support decisions."

DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office funded the research.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Anelia Milbrandt, Kamyria Coney, Alex Badgett, Gregg T. Beckham. Quantification and evaluation of plastic waste in the United States. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 2022; 183: 106363 DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2022.106363

B12 Deficiency Harms Young Children's Development

May 4, 2022
Vitamin B12 deficiency in infants leads to poor motor development and anaemia, according to a study from Burkina Faso conducted by the University of Copenhagen and Médecins Sans Frontières. B12 deficiency is an enormous, yet overlooked problem, and the food relief we currently supply is not helping. According to the researchers, the problem calls for new solutions.

In Denmark, cases of poor psychomotor development are regularly seen in young children raised on vegan diets, though such outcomes are preventable with daily B12 supplements. But for children in low-income countries, the chances of ever meeting their vitamin B12 requirements are far worse. This is reflected in widespread B12 deficiency among young children in Burkina Faso, according to a study from the University of Copenhagen conducted in collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctor's Without Borders). The results have been published in the journal Plos Medicine.

A lack of vitamin B12 doesn't just potentially lead to anaemia, it can damage the nervous system. And for young children, B12 is crucial for brain development.

"Among the many children who participated in our study, we found a strong correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and poor motor development and anaemia," says Henrik Friis, first author of the study and a professor at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports.

For many years, there has been a focus on vitamin A, zinc and iron deficiencies when it comes to malnutrition across the globe, whereas there is a paucity of research on B12 deficiency.

"B12 deficiency is one of the most overlooked problems out there when it comes to malnutrition. And unfortunately, we can see that the food relief we provide today is not up to the task," says Henrik Friis, who has worked with nutrition and health in low-income countries for many years.

Over 1,000 children with acute malnutrition aged 6-23 months participated in the study. The children's B12 levels were measured both before and after three months of daily food relief rations containing the recommended B12 content. When the study began, two-thirds of the children had either low or marginal levels of B12.

Short term food relief does not fill up B12 stores
"During the period when children were provided with food relief, their B12 levels increased, before decreasing considerably once we stopped the programme. Despite provisioning them with food relief for three months, their stores remained far from topped up. This, when a typical food relief programme only runs for four weeks," says Henrik Friis.

Even after three months of food relief, one third of the children continued to have low or marginal levels of B12 stored. The unfortunate explanation is that there is a cap on how much B12 can be absorbed.

"A child's gut can only absorb 1 microgram of B12 per meal. So, if a child is lacking 500 micrograms, it will take much longer than the few weeks that they have access to emergency food relief," explains Vibeke Brix Christensen, a paediatrician and medical advisor to Médecins Sans Frontières and co-author of the study.

"Furthermore, longer-term relief programmes aren't realistic, as humanitarian organizations are trying to reduce the duration of treatment regimens with the aim of being able to serve a larger number of children for the same amount of money," continues Vibeke Brix Christensen.

She points out that it might make a difference to divide the necessary amount of vitamin B12 across several meals, which would probably allow children to absorb the same amount of B12 each time. But the problem is that if widespread B12 deficiency appears among children in low-income countries, it is difficult to do anything about it.

New solutions needed on the table
Preventing B12 deficiency would be the best course of action. Unfortunately, lasting solutions have yet to become readily available according to Professor Friis.

Because our bodies cannot produce B12 on their own, we need to have it supplied to us through animal-based products or synthetic supplements. However, in many low-income countries, access to animal-based foods is incredibly difficult for the general population. One might wonder, are tablets or fortified foodstuffs the way to prevention?

"Possibly, but the problem in low-income countries is poorly resourced and weak health care systems. Handing out tablets to millions and millions of people is not cost-effective. And to enrich foods with B12, it must be added to foodstuffs that are accessible to the poor. This requires industrial expansion, as many people currently eat only what they can produce themselves. Furthermore, it requires legislation that it is not based on voluntary participation," says Henrik Friis, who has greater faith in other types of solutions:

"Individual households could be incentivized to keep chickens and perhaps goats, which a mother could manage and use to provide access to animal-based foodstuffs. Finally, work needs to be done to develop fermented products with B12 producing bacteria -- something that doesn't yet exist, but towards which researchers and companies are already working," concludes Henrik Friis.

The researchers are in dialogue with UNICEF's Supply Division, based in Copenhagen, about how products to treat moderate to acute malnutrition can be improved.


B12 deficiency can be transmitted from mother to child. If a mother is B12 deficient, her child will be born B12 deficient as well, before receiving breast milk with too little B12 in it. A child's B12 deficiency can affect the formation and regeneration of their intestinal cells. Consequently, the child's capacity to absorb B12 and other vital nutrients will be reduced. In this way, B12 deficiency contributes to the development of malnutrition.

  • Since 2010, the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS) at the University of Copenhagen has worked with the WHO and UNICEF, among others, with a focus on improving the emergency food relief used to combat childhood malnutrition.
  • According to UNICEF, approximately 200 million children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition worldwide. Malnutrition contributes to the death of three million children every year.
  • Acute malnutrition in children is characterized by children who are too thin in proportion to their height. Globally, it is estimated that approximately 50 million children are acutely malnourished, with two thirds of these suffering from moderate malnutrition and the remaining third suffering from severely acute malnutrition.
  • Today, only about 20% of severely malnourished children receive emergency food relief.
  • 1,609 children from Burkina Faso with moderate to acute malnutrition participated in the study. The researchers were able to measure cobalamin serum levels in 1,192 of these children.
  • The children received three different types of food relief rations, all of which met with WHO standards.
  • The study is a reanalysis of data collected in Burkina Faso under the research project TREATFOOD.
Henrik Friis, Bernardette Cichon, Christian Fabiansen, Ann-Sophie Iuel-Brockdorff, Charles W. Yaméogo, Christian Ritz, Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, André Briend, Kim F. Michaelsen, Vibeke B. Christensen, Suzanne Filteau, Mette F. Olsen. Serum cobalamin in children with moderate acute malnutrition in Burkina Faso: Secondary analysis of a randomized trial. PLOS Medicine, 2022; 19 (3): e1003943 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003943

Affirmative Action Bans Had 'Devastating Impact' On Diversity In Medical Schools

May 2, 2022
New UCLA-led research finds that in states with bans on affirmative action programs, the proportion of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups in U.S. public medical schools fell by more than one-third by five years after those bans went into effect.

The findings are particularly timely given medical schools' increasing emphasis on health equity, including a push to ensure greater diversity among physicians in the workforce.

The study will be published May 3 in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

"We know that a more diverse physician workforce leads to better care for racial- and ethnic-minority patients," said Dr. Dan Ly, the study's lead author, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "But we have made such poor progress in diversifying our physician workforce.

"Our research shows that bans on affirmative action, like the one California passed in 1996, have had a devastating impact on the diversity of our medical student body and physician pipeline."

The researchers examined enrolment data from 1985 through 2019 for 53 medical schools at public universities, focusing on students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups: Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. The authors studied medical schools at public universities, not private ones, because states' bans on affirmative action applied to public postsecondary institutions.

Of the medical schools, 32 were in 24 states without affirmative action bans. And 21 were in eight states that banned affirmative action during that period -- Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington. Those states' affirmative action bans were enacted from 1997 to 2013; Texas' ban was reversed in 2003.

In the year before the bans were implemented, underrepresented students made up an average of 14.8% of the total enrolment of those states' public medical schools. By five years later, the research found, enrolment of underrepresented students at those schools had fallen by 37%.

The authors note some limitations to their analysis. The data may have also captured the indirect effects of affirmative action on undergraduate admissions, public discussion of affirmative action bans may have affected medical school enrolment even before the bans were implemented, some students may not have fully identified with the mutually exclusive racial and ethnic groups defined by the study, and the researchers did not assess the possibility that some schools without bans did not consider race or ethnicity in their admission decisions.

But the findings could lead to a better understanding of the lag in diversifying the medical student body and the physician workforce.

"As our country has spent the last two years weaving through the twin pandemics of racial health disparities amplified by COVID-19 and structural racism at large, our findings are critically important," said co-author Dr. Utibe Essien, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. "As we observed, affirmative action bans have resulted in a loss of underrepresented physicians, who could have been at the front lines of caring for vulnerable populations throughout the pandemic and helping to alleviate disparities in care.

"My hope is that our findings will help provide policymakers with the tools to push back against affirmative action bans, not just for the diversity of the physician workforce, but for the equal and just health of our society."

The study's other authors are Andrew Olenski of Columbia University and Dr. Anupam Jena of Harvard University.

Dan P. Ly, Utibe R. Essien, Andrew R. Olenski, Anupam B. Jena. Affirmative Action Bans and Enrolment of Students From Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Groups in U.S. Public Medical Schools. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2022; DOI: 10.7326/M21-4312

Beetle Iridescence A Deceptive Form Of Warning Colouration

May 3, 2022
A new study published today in Animal Behaviour shows for the first time that brilliant iridescence and gloss found in some animals can have a protective function by working as a form of deceptive warning colouration, and that it is the key feature of iridescence, its changing colours, that is important for this effect.

This striking form of structural coloration in which the hue and intensity of colours will vary depending on the angle of view, has also evolved independently in everything from birds such as magpies and starlings, to many insects such as rose chafers, rosemary beetles and in the demoiselle.

By looking at its biological functions, a team of researchers at Bristol University's CamoLab investigated why this vivid metallic coloration has evolved so may times in the animal kingdom, and what makes this striking form of animal coloration such a successful anti-predator strategy. The team had previously discovered that iridescence can act as a highly efficient form of camouflage, but whether such striking forms of structural coloration could also protect prey post-detection, and if so, what optical properties were important for this effect, remained unknown until now.

Lead author Dr. Karin Kjernsmo of the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences said: "One of the challenges when studying the functions of such highly reflective structural colouration has been to separate the effects of the changeability of colours, the hallmark of iridescence, from the effects of simply having multiple colours at the same time, and also to separate the effects of gloss from the effects of iridescence."

They tested if and how iridescence could provide a survival benefit to prey post-detection by presenting both iridescent and non-iridescent, as well as glossy and matte versions of the two, to birds that had no previous experience with such prey, and then looked at the birds' willingness to attack the prey. They found that iridescence significantly reduced the attack-willingness of the birds, and that gloss also had an independent effect.

"Here we have, for the first time, effectively managed to test for each of these two effects on their own, and shown that both iridescence and gloss can protect prey even post-detection, providing yet another adaptive explanation for the evolution and widespread existence of iridescence" Dr. Kjernsmo added.


Jewel beetle (Sternocera sp.) iridescence can protect prey via camouflage and by acting as a form of deceptive warning colouration. Photos: Dr. Karin Kjernsmo

Karin Kjernsmo, Anna M. Lim, Rox Middleton, Joanna R. Hall, Leah M. Costello, Heather M. Whitney, Nicholas E. Scott-Samuel, Innes C. Cuthill. Beetle iridescence induces an avoidance response in naïve avian predators. Animal Behaviour, 2022; 188: 45 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2022.04.005

$10 Million Investment Fuels Promising Treatments For Inflammatory Lung Disease

May 3, 2022

A UniSA world leader in inflammatory cell signalling, Professor Stuart Pitson, will draw on $10 million seed funding in a collaboration with Monash University to develop better treatments for inflammatory lung diseases that affect approximately 550 million people globally.

Prof Pitson, based in the Centre for Cancer Biology, is the Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of new Australian biotech company Ankere Therapeutics, which launched today.

Ankere will harness research into inflammation from Prof Pitson’s lab with small molecule chemistry from Associate Professor Bernard Flynn of Monash University’s Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Inflammatory lung diseases include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, chronic and acute bronchitis, emphysema and cystic fibrosis, with some types having a survival rate as poor as 3-5 years post diagnosis.

“Some of these diseases have no cure, but Ankere hopes to develop better treatments for many sufferers,” Prof Pitson says.

“Ankere is an example of how a strong partnership between researchers with a shared area of focus has the potential to address the most pressing health concerns.

“The combination of research, expertise and capital at Ankere will support the project to advance its highly promising discovery which has the potential to lead to new therapies targeting inflammation.”

The funding round was jointly led by IP Group and Brandon Capital, through Brandon BioCatalyst, and will support the company through its pre-clinical development and into clinical trials.

About Ankere Therapeutics
Ankere Therapeutics ‘Ankere’ is venture-backed company focused on developing new pharmaceutical agents that target inflammatory conditions, particularly those of the lung. The company was founded by Associate Professor Bernard Flynn Monash University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and Professor Stuart Pitson (University of South Australia) and built on decades of research. Ankere is striving to develop transformative therapies based on excellent science that will enable people to live long and healthy lives.

About the Centre for Cancer Biology  
Based in Adelaide, South Australia, the Centre for Cancer Biology is a Medical Research Institute which carries out a world-class program of innovative research, making breakthrough discoveries in the fundamental causes of cancer, and translating these discoveries into new ways to prevent and treat this group of diseases. The CCB is an alliance between SA Pathology and the University of South Australia and boasts the largest concentration of cancer research in South Australia. The CCB is a member of Brandon BioCatalyst and the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI). 

Photo: Professor Stuart Pitson

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.